December 20, 2019 | David F. Coppedge

Ignoring the Opposition: How Big Science Descends into Groupthink

Big Science assumes you will be assimilated. Don’t even think about disagreeing. You have no voice. You don’t exist.

Study the following renewal ad from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). It’s not really surprising to anyone familiar with Big Science these days, but perhaps it should be:

When assimilated, you get a tote bag and a T-shirt. Nice.

Readers: Turn on your Baloney Detectors. Do you sense a disturbance in the farce?

The fact is, “climate change” is a highly-politicized issue these days (11 Dec 2019). Those on the political left believe man is causing catastrophic global warming that only global governance can solve; those on the political right generally doubt man is affecting climate, or believe that free markets will solve it. One would expect an ad like this from Greta Thunberg or the Sierra Club, but this is from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It equates leftism with science. It turns every AAAS member into a walking activist, wearing a leftist slogan on his shirt.

What’s troubling is the assumption that everyone in the organization falls in line. There is no debate. There is no other option. Subscriber, you will be happy with this tote bag. We will use your money to fight for leftist causes in Washington. Be happy.

In a balanced world, this ad might feature alternative T-shirt messages for those in the other camp—and there is a pretty substantial number of scientists in the other camp. You would never know they exist from this ad. The AAAS is private, and can choose the messaging it wants. But subliminally, all subscribers are being nudged into a consensus that some of them may not agree with. Even if a majority of subscribers do agree, opponents are shamed out of relevance by being ignored. In this way, Big Science is equivalent to Big Labor, which takes all members’ dues, even from conservatives, and uses a lot of the money to fund leftist political candidates. The AAAS will use its money and power to push the leftist view in government, convincing government officials that “leftism has the authority of science behind it.”

To achieve their power, the leftists commandeer the aura of Science. They are the ones who “stand up for science.” They are the ones with “influence.” They have the “powerful voice.” They are the “science supporters.” They stand for “evidence-based policies.” They get the grants for “new research.” If you don’t agree, you are anti-science (see loaded words in the Baloney Detector).

It’s worth recalling Michael Crichton’s sermon at Caltech in 2003: “Science is not consensus. Consensus is not science. Period!”

Lemmings, by JB Greene. Used by permission.

Darwinism, Too

This propaganda tactic, “Ignoring the Opposition,” occurs frequently in evolutionary writing, too. Those with power can simply refuse to even acknowledge the existence of opponents, giving the impression that everybody knows and agrees with the Darwinian view. Writers don’t need to reckon with the arguments of creation or intelligent design, because those positions are invisible. For all practical purposes, they don’t exist.

Ignoring the Opposition gives secular writers unlimited freedom to walk their readers cheerfully down the yellow brick road to the Blunderful Wizard of Flaws, who wields the magic wand energized by the Stuff Happens Law to create humans out of bacteria. The storyteller doesn’t need to waste time answering critics of the show, because they can’t be seen behind the soundproof one-way mirror. All is at peace in the Magic Kingdom of Fantasyland.

Examples are legion, but here’s one case in point: Princeton University’s press release, (with emphasis on story), “Origin story: Rewriting human history through our DNA.” Ignoring the Opposition works well with the Repetition tactic:

  • “For most of our evolutionary history…”  (not just history, but evolutionary history)
  • “…the mere blink of an evolutionary eye…” (not just an eye, but an evolutionary eye)
  • “the larger picture of how we evolved as a species” (not whether we evolved, but how)
  • “Like many of us, Akey has long been interested in how the human species evolved” (not whether, but how)
  • “modern humans, who evolved in Africa some 200,000 years ago” (argument by assertion)
  • “Combining his expertise in biology and Darwinian evolution with computational and statistical methods, Akey…” (implying that expertise comes only from the Darwinians)
  • “to piece together a fascinating story of human evolution” (the only story in town)

Everyone applauds, because they’ve never heard a critic of this story. They’ve never even heard of the existence of a different “origin story.” When only one origin story ever gets heard, it gets a standing ovation. When baloney is the only thing on the menu, it’s delicious by definition.

See also: 5 Dec 2019, “Evolutionary – A Useless Adjective.”

Cartoon for CEH by Brett Miller. All rights reserved.

 

Now that you know this tactic of Ignoring the Opposition, be alert for it. Don’t be assimilated. When science has turned from an open-minded search for the truth, among free people able to engage in free debate with logic and evidence, it has degraded into a political pressure group.

Groupthink is stifling scientific institutions. Science needs fresh air to flourish. It’s time for some man-made climate change within Big Science.

 

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