Scare by Ravaging Science Redux

By | April 30, 2009


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Journalists must separate the story. It makes for more copy when the reader’s eye wobbles over to another column space or the ear off into the increasing din of aural messaging surrounding us. By the time they get back to the original story the reader is ready for a detailed description of the coin’s other side, so to speak. It’s a trick journalists can always rely on. Journalism is “the wisdom of the ages,” wrote American author Stephen Crane in a poem (actually, Crane referred to the newspaper). We’ll forgive the “wisdom” reference here to Crane’s indulging in poetic license.

Not everybody is out for a quick buck or a political plum. Some are out for qualified opinion and honest insight. Some are in search of wisdom and truth. Journalism isn’t in the wisdom business per se and in the U.S. they ought to acutely point out the distinctions between it and the essay, the scholarly article, and the impartial policy analysis better in schools before they let someone graduate. (Many American schools emphasize an amorphous exercise in synaesthesia called “mass media,” which suits corporate messaging and the bureaucrats of the U.S. Department of Education.)

Journalism IS in the fad business, and does indeed pander to the quick buck. (We won’t even discuss the shock ‘em and scare ‘em business: we know journalism’s in that trade.)  Business advertising needs a continual push and people have an itch to know, no matter what the quality is of what they are being informed about. There is a marriage between business and media. There are also nowadays no limits to the ways some journals and newspapers “scientifically” protect and project with polls, statistics and awards – among select groups –  their reputations for investigative journalism, say, in relation to their agenda. But many newspapers and journals have always been paid off to spew one line or another with enough verve-inspiring spin. Whatever the aim, be it from the left right or center, the clever journalist knows that, what they may editorialize on today in the spirit of Thomas Carlyle’s “everlasting aye,” they might just as easily chop out 1,200 words in his “everlasting nay” the week, month, the year, or even decade hence.

Politicians and activists need the news as an advertising medium as well: they are selling themselves and their message or both. The more influence they can wheedle or purchase, the more their message gets blasted on the media megaphone. This has nothing to do with what they want to do or what they can ever do, of course. It is selling, pure and simple.

Thus does the interested journalist and likely politician-activist, a wedded twain do make.

Lysenko and Vavilov:
Fear Ravages Science in 1930s-40s Russia for An Agenda

No politician (if you could call him that) knew the value of the media megaphone better than Joseph Stalin.

He was the second most heinous realpolitik abuser of Karl Marx (who in and of himself was just your run-of-the-mill Platonist thinker with the best of intentions: alas, the road to hell is so well lined with these). V.I. Lenin was the worst. Two notable scientists who lived in Stalin’s Russia suffered under him due to the megaphone. That would be the sad but true tale of Nikolai Vavilov and Trofim Lysenko.

We must have a touchstone in this woeful tale of two, and even if he is not the main cause of what is taking place today (for the roots of this beast lie in Stalin’s and Lenin’s time and deeper still, as well as all around) and even if he is not the same as Mr. Stalin in detail (much more like Huey Long Jr.) we must name him. Albert Gore Jr. In the light of Mr. Gore’s assault on science via the atmospheric studies limb of it for political influence purchasing, and his probably unintended intrusion in the 1st Amendment’s right to the free exchange of ideas and so, open inquiry, we’d best keep Nikolai and Trofim in view. What happened to these two is a perfect case of ambitious politicians ravaging science to abet an agenda and using the government, the media, and sympathetic activist groups to carry it out.

A book that describes Nikolai and Trofim’s travail is Peter Pringle’s recent book, The Story of Stalin’s Persecution of One of the Great Scientists of the Twentieth Century.  But let’s outline the high points (Pringle isn’t the first writer to wade in these waters).

It was the mid 1930s. Russia’s Stalin had to get mechanized agricultural yield going in an immensely backward, illiterate nation. Theoretically his brand of socialism, or Lenin’s before him, was the cure here, to include “socialist science.” Science like all things social under the Marxist rubric could or must be controlled by the state and the philosopher king or kings in charge, in other words – the ruler. Stalin the ruler had to promise that his nation’s farm yields would not only be vast for the sake of filling bellies, but that yields would be accomplished in a scientifically brilliant manner, far outstripping that of Marx’s self-declared (and whoppingly-incorrect) obverse of Marxism – Capitalism.   Thus did Stalin have a double agenda. He wanted, needed, to show up a dust-bowl suffocated, capitalist-driven America. His agenda required speed, group think and group cohesion he thought, as nouveau-philosopher kings do  . The U.S. was succeeding via the open exchange of ideas on agricultural science and the politics of Roosevelt’s Herbert Hoover-designed economic recovery package.  A poor but dogged scientist, Trofim Lysenko, locked in an idée fixe on Lamarckian evolutionary theory relative to plant growth had useless but hopeful methods to increase the yields Stalin wanted, fast. A careful and imaginative scientist, Nikolai Vavilov – well respected in Russia as well as outside it – was a botanical geneticist who indeed had the answers to many of Stalin’s problems. But then, as they say in politics, came the “buts.”

Talk About An Inconvenient Truth 

Starvation loomed, no matter whose definition of science was being explicated in Russia: socialist Marxist or open Capitalist. It was getting harder for Stalin to paint pretty pictures of a lush, fat Ukraine (Russia’s breadbasket) that he had already pogrommed into dystrophia by his psychotic tyranny which preyed on fear.  What, if any, socialism was afoot there, then, was hardly a 1960s Sweden-style brand of it marked by pragmatism or selected Marxian precepts.

The political flashpoint occurred when the hopeful, easier-to-comprehend if useless methods of Lysenko could be blasted over the great media megaphone, whereas Vavilov could but (in terms of politics, that is) bleat out that such research would need time, money, more research (hence more brains) and international cooperation. Vavilov repeated this chain of “buts.” Tired of Vavilov’s inconveniently-admitted truth, as Stalin had no time and had little by way of important international cooperation, Vavilov became one of the “political enemies of the state,” as the phraseology then went. And, what was the state? It was the philosopher-king-in-residence at the time: Stalin. He was a modern, more brutal model of a French-type Sun King who themselves were chips off of Plato’s Republic’s block. 

Stalin had to keep a lid on almost incredible failures in planned economies which ravaged Russian technology, economics, and of course, agriculture. By “planned” is meant that the strategy was to halt all action until corrected or adjusted by the state (ie Stalin) and his minions (the group of elevated elites) until fixed, then set back into motion. Since Lenin’s time, things had only grown worse, since stopping things in motion to examine, study, report, fix, and release in such societal dynamics is technically impossible: it is the never-never land of historicist, pure-intellectual dreamers. Condemnation grew worldwide from pragmatists. Rather than admit anything was wrong Stalin reinforced the purging and brutality initiated by his predecessor. He worked his groups to stifle discontent and block truth from creeping out of the borders which he hammered a lid on. He chained science, that unwilling vestal virgin, to his agenda. But that never prevented hundreds, perhaps thousands of journalists in one part of the world, then called the west, from tooting the media megaphone of carefully-selected messages from Stalin’s so-called Communist government.

Journalists IN Russia at the time knew what they had to do to stay alive: scream the message louder. Those “fellow traveling” journalists in the west went along for the ride, as it very often made good copy. For some in the west, what went on in Russia sprung from heartfelt causes they sympathized with as intellectually self-indulgent fantasies but knew nothing about up front, only to learn the pathetic truth too late  . These guilty ones bought the idea of hold-in-motion-and-fix, and blinded themselves to debauchery and butchery, though it was plain to see even through Stalin’s propaganda gauze. Some western writers were bribed to paint pretty pictures or were blackmailed to do so and otherwise could have cared less. Overall, they did not have to suffer the brunt of their Russian colleagues in terms of lost wealth and lives. It was easy to be a New York or London politico-journalist-bon vivant intellectual for such causes, rather than a Kiev or Moscow-based one. It was Fascism with a label of Communism stamped on it, with the Gestapo painted red.

But let’s not ignore the science flashpoint between Vavilov, Lysenko – and Stalin. Real science will not, mostly cannot, align with politico-journalistic agendas. If enough applied science makes some agendas more than feasible, like Kennedy landing men on the Moon, it may work. But some things are just too complicated yet. In these cases no one can take an end of science, right or wrong, and make it obey a timed political agenda. No one can find out how, say, the total Earth climate operates under some kind of deadline. We just don’t know and it’s too plain hard  . No real scientist can predict how “world climate” will be in fifty years  . For only the Platonist philosopher and their believer dares state they can predict the future so far ahead in such proceedings, whether it be due to inevitable historical forces or activist-inspired climate model predictions.

Not even money fervently pressed into the most-deserving grantee’s hands by science foundations and private or corporate funds can guarantee hoped for, pre-selected, or any kind of “pre”  results unless lying has been put into play in these matters. Actual science papers, policy analyses, and essays can only report the sometimes dull and evidence-likely proto-truth, if evidence truly weighs in its favor and numerous honest vetted-in-the-field scientists who’ve studied it conditionally support it. Like Forrest Gump’s chocolate box, when a scientist’s mind fishes around in a problem, they may not know what they will scare up out of the box. Maybe a negative answer. Or perhaps another lead in the story like a detective on a case. Or maybe a puzzle piece that can be fit into the whole but seldom provides the whole answer, though it may give the whole picture wider breadth.

We must assume that all real scientists are honest because those who are not instantly invalidate themselves and become something else. They may make honest mistakes, however, which are duly recorded. But this is another thing. A real scientist does not deliberately wallow in that old adage by Walter Scott: “what webs we weave when first we practice to deceive…” They do not, for example, like Sir Cyril Lodowic Burt, invent a few identical pairs of biologically-condemned feeble minded to help bolster his theory that procreating feeble minds will automatically create new pairs of biologically-condemned feeble minds (called idiots) and hope that no one checks his data too hard. In Burt’s case no one did for a long while. His game lasted from about 1918 to 1969. They do not, like Michael E. Mann, use faulty (there’s three kinds of lies: plain lies, damn lies, and…) statistics to ignore if not erase crucial, exquisitely and painstakingly assembled proxy data to come up with a pre-planned hockey stick to show the folks.   The global scheme is too wide to understand (yet)  and in an attempt to push the puck over the blue line, underestimating multidecadal and centennial time scales and placing crucial data in incorrect places to flatten a thousand years of climate change until reaching current times was done. On more comfortable ground here, these were exaggerated upward. This confabulation was then duly announced on the media megaphone and the IPCC,  and the eager politico-journalist-filled world waited for the pre-arrived at answer to the pre-finagled question to be announced, secure in the comfort that “their man” had the justifications emotionally salivated after. His game is still on. But unlike with Burt, more scientists and investigators dig up things faster today than once they did to uncover deceit. Statistics alone apparently is science for some “new” environmental scientists, just as climate models to them alone are science. Statistics and climate models alone are not science alone. Even when conveniently joined to frame an issue, together they are not science alone, should all the epistemology in the world flow after it.

Even the best of science “total stories” are theories still waiting to be replaced or altered massively, even repudiated: like Newton’s theory of universal gravitation, and Darwin’s theory of evolution, and Einstein’s special theory of relativity. Everyone’s welcome to try to kill them – by the strict rules, that is; not by politico-journalistic, statistical-shake-and-bake gunplay. Petr Beckmann tried to falsify Einstein for example and was wrong. But he did not attempt to trash Einstein, the man, and he himself was a recognized and good physicist. Scientists modify existing theories and then destroy parts of them, without reducing the whole. For example, the late Stephen J. Gould and Niles Eldridge modified Darwin’s theory with a concept called punctuated equilibrium that is currently accepted. But Gould was a recognized and good paleobiologist. He never trashed Darwin, the man.

Contra politics and Platonist ideology (classical Grecian at the root) – and especially contra the simple label-associationism of the Aristotelian operating oil of journalism – science is a means of enquiry that proceeds like a comet through space, burning, losing parts, adapting, refining and growing bigger and brighter, alternately smaller and dimmer, and altering direction. It is as non-linear as the things it seeks to describe or the problems it tries to solve. Science was borne out of natural philosophy a mere 400 years ago, was wedded with hard mathematics  (not the weak sister statistics) as its primary measurer, and compared to any new version of whatever is manufactured out of the ancient brewery of classical Greek philosophy (pushing 4,000 years in age) is extremely young. A true descendant of philosophy, science is particularly amoral. Antimonies, or reasoned contradictions, abound: emotion does not apply in the last reckoning; bodily waste for some things is food and even medicine for others, etc. As it drops in and out of questions posed, experiments conducted, and falsified theories amended or abandoned it leaves in its applied path good things like penicillin, more weather resistant crop seeds, Saturn V rockets and bad / inefficient things like nuclear bombs and fossil-fuel powered engines.  (Don’t blame them if your untrammeled appetite for oil-using things makes some old junk too popular.)

Some ideas originally termed invalid sometimes spring back to life, valid in related contexts. Some of the best scientists, unlike in almost any other field, are often ones who are sometimes honestly and most brilliantly wrong.

Call this the scientific method if you will.

To politicians and an eager, progress-conditioned public and the business people who supply them these sound like indulgent, time-wasting ramblings when described, or excuses when a “no” or “we do not know yet” answer appears. For among us walk the old men (the Classical Greeks) and the new (the scientists).  Human understanding comes slowly to this world. It is hard to convince the many who wallow in the new fads derived from ancient thinking that the tender shoots of young science must be protected in its processes, as this kind of mental process in and of itself is extremely new to humans. The price of this newness to human consciousness is that it requires an open society that openly encourages open, honest minds, at least while they’re “doing” science.

When Vavilov tried to be convincing regarding hybridization he fell into the obvious complexities most real scientists deal with daily (especially genetics, which was then in its infancy). His “buts” sounded to Stalin like he was a lying fop (he was handsome for a plant biologist and was a snazzy dresser). Lysenko, much less the scientist, looked the part of the humble common person so well admired in the building-sized posters of “industrial man” that adorned tall walls in red, then. His science being thinner and specious, it was much the easier to explain. The journalists could catch the dumb-downed beat and slapped thumbs up labels on it in the best journalistic tradition. Additionally, they responded instinctively to the smell and sound of the just-plain-Bill peasanty look of Trofim Lysenko that added that little, extra seedy touch so admired in socialist man imagery then. The megaphone drowned Vavilov out,  most likely to the tune of “sleek, well-fed, overly-dressed bourgeois”.

From Red to Green: It’s All Activism Just the Same

The fads change in ideologies and journalism. Only scientists change science. Fads often color  politics and increasingly, businesses that are sensitive to the political winds in order to protect profits corporate or otherwise. You can always lift up an end here and give it a spin and then, the politics moves amid the willing or the unwilling. You’ll sell more copy or keep the candidate or leader in the limelight in other words. International Communism leagues had the color red as a collective sense identifier then. The new colophon for this recent splurge in historicist-activism is the color green (red is dead). But the urge and ancient methodology, colored new, is the same. Rather than being embedded in a section of nation states in some kind of bilateral configuration equal with the free nations, the new red is non-linearly spread like a paint-brush splash across the multinational landscape in dollops of green. It is held in a fixed pose by a United Nations that is much less of a political union than a confederation of loosely-associated bureaus mimicking the doings of real nations (and mimicking the name of the vastly powerful political union the United States).

All this is a negative inheritance of the Cold War, won by the nation states of the west, which freed those in the thralls of historicist/activist-founded nations, come down to the modern age from Plato’s time as late as the 1980s. When these broke up for good by 1991, the Marxists-without-portfolio took to the streets in earnest and quickly discovered the university social science departments and for-profit publication and not-for-profit publication departments and organizations. Many formed not-for-profit lawyerly caucuses with left activist intent, most of these in the west being the brainchildren of those educated in 1960s western universities.

Perhaps the new green variety of the beast is best ensconced in the U.N. (is the United Nations anything but an institute except when relied upon in the extremes of political catastrophe, which truly are rare?) The U.N.’s IPCC can be the new Directorate of the Proletariat in everything but actual power over nations, unless said nations give it to them. They won’t. These nations can’t afford to. But enough funds can be obtained by the IPCC out of U.N. donations to give its traveling show a nearly perpetual spin – until they get tired, of course, or when the fad fades or turns color, and it will. Green apologists and delineators can subsist on their grants and in college tenured seats, and continue to harass publications and parts of nation state bureaucracies from their non-profits. Let them broadcast with loud horns their message off the U.N. until they hear the sounds of their own voices bounce on back to fill their ears. Allow them to badger industries who are willing to sprinkle advertising or even serious change over their follies.   Better here than as the definition of power and purpose in functioning, practical political entities like a modern-day Hungary, which had once tragically been steered by reds, or Malaysia, which the reds had once attempted to steer.
If any practical good comes of green activism it may be the putting to work of thousands of persons assembling solar power panel units and wind turbines, neither of which will limit carbon dioxide one iota. But, who’s concerned with the truth here, anyway? If stopping “carbon dioxide emission” is the new chimera, the new bête noire of green ideology (as Marxism had Capitalism) we can count on never reducing what is essentially a fertile gas produced by almost everything that lives, and which can be stored anywhere.  We will, however, help convert human energy technologies and this is a good thing (solar power electrical car battery recharging plants for instance). But speed and accuracy, and lack of cost, won’t define it “this way.”

Worse, “this way” is trashing the scientific method, and consequently it trashes an aspect of the American Bill of Rights, and raises up liars or the worst of the mediocre in scientists’ and the explicators or science’s place.

“There is a Specter Hanging Over the World, the Specter of Green”

Paraphrasing Marx’s famous line above to replace the word “Communism” with “Green” and “Europe” with “World” is the political focal point to bring about change in energy policy and technical production. Alright.

But it is not unlike that hoped for by Marxism taking incorrect root in Russia, thanks to V.I. Lenin. (Marx was hoping for Germany and England). But the heady formula of social alteration of Marxism, the American variant being Adlerian, was seen to be just as good a strategy by Mr. Gore’s followers as any to help induce change. Whether he knew it or not Mr. Gore was under the heavy sway of Adler’s take on Marx in his political training at Harvard (pure Marxism doesn’t believe in politics – just revolution). That coincided not mysteriously at all with the Black Panther movement, Women’s Liberation, and adversarial, “radical” environmentalism, ie, the kinds of goals Alfred Adler would have liked. Very effective in manipulating psychology to affect socio-political change, and preying on politics with an activist bow and arrow, it doesn’t work too well when you attempt to seize a limb of science and then proceed to thrash the heads of actual scientists worldwide with it, mainly through the megaphone of the media, the caucus, and fudging figures and definitions in science to bend it passively to fit an agenda.

I would call this indulgence of Mr. Gore and friends a true Marxist-Leninist tactic. This drubbing, of course, is intended to show what kulak fools these out-of-style old fogies are to the over-stimulated “masses” (formerly the American people, for example) who don’t understand them anyway.  Or shouldn’t says the politico-journalist pied pipers among them who probably do not even know what they are doing. They’re just having fun, they think, and making cash in some cases. They are saving the planet and it feels good or relieves guilt. Propaganda they have been told is a good thing. But scientific reputations that took years to build and pain to maintain are now the common laughing stock and target of an hour with Jay-Leno types. The institutions these poor people in many cases work in have to place out disclaimers, stating that their (in some cases distinguished) associates’ views “do not necessarily reflect that of the institution’s.” Mind, these people are those who refine your antibiotics, your agriculture (food supply), communications (your new iPhones and iPods) and energy supply (fossil still, sorry…they need time to convert it). Briefly, they refine and improve most areas of your lives. The applied ones, who generally get paid, depend on the theoretical ones, who generally do not, for pure ideas and methodical correction or support. Laughing at them and trashing their reputations with suggestions to The Letterman Show should be thought over before execution.

But the aims of altering technologies, I am sure Mr. Gore would unrelenting uphold (who is absolutely not a scientist, but is absolutely a former journalist and politician) should not be confused with the goals.

As urban legend (?) has it, Lenin was said to have quipped that “you cannot make an omelet without cracking eggs.”  He also may or may not have coined the term “useful idiot” (not to be confused with congenital idiocy, which cannot be helped) when he wanted a message spread without much cost, but with a great deal of enthusiastic effectiveness. And like Messrs. Lenin and Stalin, Mr. Gore refuses to be debated. Well, he may allow it, I suppose, when a “hegemony of newly-assembled technologies replacing fossil fuel power” exists upon the globe. Then, presumably, from off Mount Parnassus Mr. Gore will descend, regaling us with tales of what his role had been in this great mission, like his purported discovery of the Internet. Would that it were achievable, stopping the world like a car at a gas station to fix it before we let its wheels spin again over the road. We see how successful those two non-debaters, Lenin and Stalin, had been in achieving “a hegemony of Communist states internationally” without the benefit of criticism and the cooperation of qualified persons seeking to fix things while all was in motion, part by part. Or as President Barack Obama would say, “one brick with one calloused hand” at a time – as the world is in motion. Mr. Obama is right: that is how things are fixed. Mr. Gore and everyone who is so inclined is wrong. All they rouse is rabble.

The Cost To Science and Popular Science, and Tender Science Enquiry in the American Republic in General

Let’s talk about the American guaranteed right of free exchange of ideas that is embedded in the 1st Constitutional Amendment for a moment. Chopping into it Genghis-Khan fashion with an activist battle axe is most likely an unintended effect of Mr. Gore’s directly or indirectly (it’s hard to say which) provoked Adlerian activism, however well intended (recall the road to hell). Such activists (not Mr. Gore) got the Supreme Court, after all, to twist flag burning around in the 1st Amendment to represent a form of free speech. So you can do all kinds of synaesthetic things with Constitutional amendments.  As an American himself, he cannot be after the nullification of this basic freedom. (Does he even know?) It is certainly the intended effect of some of his “useful idiots,” many of whom are an abundant assortment of post adolescents with hormonal axes to grind, or many others who have not matured intellectually. Others, still, are grim foreigners who would gladly see this freedom perverted as much as possible in America. How many of these devils warm seats in the U.N. is anybody’s guess. But I am sure that great American, Mr. Albert Gore Jr., had not counted on that.

Harassment of popular American publications in this regard, especially science ones, is the left-foot forward into editorial boards of a threat of loss in sales revenues, should the big lie of carbon dioxide poisoning and superheating Earth be challenged. Even obliquely. (In the realm of national research grants, the threat is the loss of the grant.) Like newspapers, after all, publications like Astronomy magazine and Scientific American depend on subscription and counter/shelf revenues to survive, let alone thrive. The tactic of spreading fear, and almost limitless (if in many cases brainless) intelligent-sounding rubbish into the email and SMS message boxes of untold numbers of contributing editors on such publications is not new. In the red Russian Soviet period, after you smeared a reputation or an idea en masse, with letters and smears, you could then get into the more sensual French Revolution-type gratification of helping to arrest, torture, and kill said uncooperative journalist(s) and editor(s). All were held thrall to the print or radio media then prevalent. Next step was to simply shut the press or radio station down and paint a red hammer and sickle over it.

Russians were crude if effective.

It is more sophisticated in America. Such moves would be counterproductive there. Not only is it too decentralized in the U.S. to make this work (your editor-killing would also wind you up in one of the comfy, if stifling, jails the republic builds with boring regularity). In the green Americo-activist period with at least three more forms of continual interruption since Stalin’s day, you can torture by verbal or voice mail harangue, and threaten by spreading agitprop.  For instance, “many scientists say” (and then add the tag line: “carbon dioxide in parts per mille is destroying the planet”, etc.); jeer, and accuse your critic of doing exactly what you’re doing : “he must be paid by some group with an agenda,” and then you erase the words “eco-greenism” and fill in “oil-lobbyism” instead. To perfect a “perfect eight” of cyclical rabble rousing, this causes a chain reaction of abuse from such vested interests as the American Oil Institute or other “conservative right” lobbies, which in turn, emboldens the leftist class-enemy identification system even more.  Enough of this gets that loose confederation of activists in your employ or sympathy to literally start killing a publication’s sales, instead of its messengers. Dumping enough abuse after awhile tires and alternately scares the collective wits out of enough American editorial boards and acquisition editors to make them do whatever “the masses” (ie, the “useful idiots”) say.

Stalin and Lenin killed the message and the messenger. How crude, how ineffective.

And the Children Shall Lead

Today,  Mr. Gore is the banner focus. The drawn chiseled jaw of Lenin is replaced by the more homey Gore visage of classical Star Trek’s least-popular episode’s lead character, Melvin Belli as, wouldn’t you know it, Gorgon. Well, Gorgon compels the children to slay their parents so they can avoid tedium and discipline and lead via his message. But then Gorgon (classical Platonist philosopher king) in turn starts to lead them – cruelly and destructively. Mr. Gore and his self-placed, high profile apologists and low-placed useful idiots (this was Lenin’s term: not mine) do this in a more sophisticated manner, lowering the noose over the free person. I would hasten to add here, not only American. The message is stifled, and the career or business is killed, instead. A slower poisoning of a body politic is more effective over an active, mobile people (like Americans) than an obvious bludgeoning of it. It is very efficient as well: when the career spot is freed up, you have freed a place for a new apologist who has been salivating for the job (slash grant). It is stasis used as a kind of force and this is clever. Also, business death in America can spread fear there, best.

What do editors at Scientific American or Sky & Telescope fear? The fear comes when the editor or contributing editor is afraid of losing their position via poor sales or too many negative reviews (there’s no business like show business). If he or she is afraid of this, try getting them to even consider publishing an article that, say, questions the human destruction of the planet by showing evidence for natural deterioration in any way, when this message is being warded off with a Teflon sheath of spewed abuse, carefully timed, as the children lead. So these sorts of editors will act courageous in every aspect, except that particular one which could damage their career or get them fired. (Or, should some useful-idiot editors be getting paid not to publish certain things, or to buy high-placed articles that “go against green” and hold them hostage, they had best not get caught.) And since there is one exception to this rule, these persons have been made cowards, courageous only insofar as they might feel that, by playing along, they will ride out this storm until reason once again prevails.

But, who will make reason prevail in science’s public domain in these matters if not them?

You may ask where Mr. Gore came upon this wonderful practice we now see eating into American tax dollars, businesses, and the Bill of Rights (was it by watching that episode of Star Trek in 1968?) Obtaining a political science degree at Harvard University in those heady, fad-filled, crazy Gallic   days of the 1960s activist leftist Adlerian-staffed America school administrations had a lot to do with it. Psychological badgering via political activism was a lot more effective a means for impatient baby boomers to achieve their ends in the U.S. government than un-distilled, sour-faced, shoot-them-all-and-take-them-over, plain ol’, run-of-the-mill Marxism after all. Cutting their baby teeth on taking over college administrative offices, they grew their full set in stuffing the U.S. government bureaucracy with suit and tie Mark Rudds later  . As Mr. Gore was by no means alone then in this hysteria, with their Gallic co-conspirators fanning the more open U.S. press flames (since the French have a lid on theirs) Americans have this infection to deal with in the totality of the American body politic.

The body’s still feverish because of it forty years after the “Summer of Love.”

McCarthyism Has a Left Foot Too 

My co-author in a book that obliquely challenged the carbon dioxide “threat to the planet”   (by pointing out the variable nature of the Sun – and how we could be in for a natural reaming by it) Dr. Willie (Wei Hock) Soon of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) was summoned to a U.S. Senate committee hearing with then-Senator Jeffords as his interrogator. The hysteria in part was that solar astrophysicist Dr. Soon was taking funds from vested fossil-fuel industry interests when it wasn’t the case, and the matter of certain publications who took Dr. Soon out of context and in some cases, just lied about interviews they never gave.  In any case the real purpose of those hearings, where Dr. Soon was grilled, Senator-Joe-McCarthy-in-front-of-a-commie-fashion, was to pull him across the coals of his demonstrated non-belief – and active scientific rebuttal – of the underpinnings that holds up carbon dioxide destruction of Earth. A lot of this was also to protect Michael E. Mann: or to prove his weakness and falsity. (But Dr. Mann has not been so cheerfully handled as Dr. Soon.) Now, the irony of then-Senator Jeffords, a Republican-turned-Independent but in any case surely someone who would have hated Joseph McCarthy, playing the McCarthy role in this tax-dollar staged drama, was probably lost on him. I would not be surprised if it was lost on Mr. Gore either, if he knew.

Russians were crude but effective in their terror. But the crudity of the North American case has come in, if the Jeffords hearing with Soon was not itself terror. Scientist Timothy Ball of Canada received death threats from doubtlessly the useful idiots for protecting actual agricultural and economic interests in his nation by siding with truth, and thus, science. Richard Lindzen, still at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA has heard of (unwilling) death bed “conversions”   over to the belief system called the carbon-dioxide destruction of Earth among heretofore unwilling atmospheric scientists, and outlines in detail some of the tactics of Mr. Gore in positioning his former administration members in various pressure-point government agencies (and hence, the grant-seizing fear). For instance, the likely Dr. Anthony Socchi, a non-scientist, on the scientific board of the American Meteorological Society. What a non-scientist has for business on something like an actual scientific society’s scientific board is anyone’s guess. Dr. Lindzen urges that professional science in America be stripped of a lot of its funding, since it is mainly swayed in the direction of pre-selected grantees looking for the pre-given answers, anyway. Dr. Lindzen asserts, rightly, that this is not just the matter with greenhouse gases (ie, carbon dioxide) already being identified as the globe-killer before it was even proven in supporting national funding. It is the problem with many other a priori research agenda claims that dole out money for additional funding to support pre-planned answers for already-in-place bureaucrats (ie, former politicians from earlier administrations) grabbing grant funds.

When even popularizers of science have to steer clear of certain parts of science to describe, it is bad news. But, no editor or group of editors or writers on any magazine or in any society should be forced to kneel for someone’s agenda for whatever reason whatsoever. (The same applies for federal grant seekers.) These editors’ and writers’ right to free exchange – and thus publication- of ideas is being trampled. That they allow this means they are weak and have been weakened. (Granted, there are some editors who are paid to write “a certain line”: but, science magazines?) Especially those who had openly published on the currently no-speak agenda before?  Some American popular science journal editors like to take swipes at apparently allowable targets of anti-science like Kansas school board ignorers of Darwin’s theory of evolution, or the UFO guys, who are probably rightly categorized for being nuts – if of a loveable sort. But these editors hide under their chairs when global warming by any means other than “Al Gore’s as usual” comes up. This is never so obvious as when popular nature science magazines politely turn away provocative articles that would open up the freer exchange of ideas. Why?

Al Gore and his potent decentralized and in many cases paid lobby, appointed by him into the U.S. government bureaucracy or anywhere outside it, don’t want any freer exchanges of ideas here. Here the 1st Amendment does not apply for Americans, as Mr. Gore and his followers amply demonstrate by their collar-grabbing tactics with scientists, science writers, editors, journalists, popularizers, and curious students who “won’t listen.” (The many who do are amply rewarded in the group.) Just make sure you’ve purchased your carbon credits (ie, the right to “pollute”) like Mr. Gore already has, which might possibly mean your right to breathe. (Wait a second! He’s a millionaire! What’s it going to cost the regular Joe like you?)

They are involved in cracking eggs to make omelets, you see. I leave the rest to your imagination.

Sorry. I’ve digressed. Let’s tidily wrap this story up with what became of Trofim and Nikolai, our two hapless Russo-Ukrainian scientist friends. They were. Friends I mean. Nikolai Vavilov was Trofim Lysenko’s friend. They attended scientific meetings together, shared ideas (probably the occasional glass of vodka) and the better-educated Vavilov encouraged Lysenko. But thanks to Stalin’s agenda, they were both sent on unintended trajectories into time that had tragic outcomes (tragic, that is, unless you believe that eggs like these must be cracked to respect the inevitable forces of history). Lysenko’s ideas, championed by Stalin, worsened the crop yield even more than central planning-controlled agriculture could possible do then – and under even worse, naturally-forced climate cooling in the 1930s and early 1940s. Vavilov, whose hybrid seeds could withstand the worst climate fluctuations and would have guaranteed solid crops, was never listened to. He was imprisoned instead, and suffered from dystrophia in prison until he perished from it. That was his reward for being unable to fulfill a political agenda. In terrified silence Lysenko plodded incorrectly on, but alive.

Dystrophia. What a high falutin’ word. It may have been like the kinds of words Vavilov was using around the socialist hero friends of his. Those who were basically ignorant and resentful, albeit useful in their idiocy and, upon Stalin’s decree, condemned him to slow death. I have mentioned dystrophia twice here for purposes of memorization. Dystrophia is what happens to muscles that are so weakened from malnutrition that the said-afflicted person cannot move. The person does continue to digest, however. When the muscle that is responsible for your digestion has nothing else to chew, it begins to eat whatever is left of the body mass. Picture it as some large spider, swallowing the man from all of his four-fold symmetry into the middle with a slow, painfully sharp munching motion. That is starvation. It was a terrible, horribly painful (and ironic) death for a man whose research held the key to solving some of malnutrition’s main threats: hybridizing more flexible, hardy food plants from hardier seeds to combat non-linear climate change that prevented seeding, or wilted or blighted crops. This biologist, with science, converged plant physiology with atmospheric physics to achieve something literally priceless. Today Vavilov’s reputation has been restored in Russia (it never swerved internationally) and his science, used worldwide; which is partly why we have so many resilient food crops. An institute in Saint Petersburg, Russia (formerly Leningrad, and the Soviet Union, respectively) is named after him, among other honors.

Little good it does him now.  But the devil, as they say, did have his due.

Conclusion? Hope

America is no Russia (or France, for that matter) handed down over the centuries from wise men who killed the men who were less wise (or who lost their wisdom) before them to maintain equilibrium. So the little jaunt being taken over a small section of our Bill of Rights by many well-paid friends and young, fervent Gallic-inspired fellow travelers is actually a never-no-mind. Even the best of us can laughingly stomach Mr. Gore’s comparing, for example, Venus’ climate to Earth’s before the United States government in January 2009 (you have to laugh).  Presses won’t burn. Mass graves will not be dug. America has never been known to purge (ah that polite word) their upper classes, in America’s case multimillionaires, by the methodical use of the guillotine and the hangman’s noose. There could always be a first time of course. American readers of Mother Jones salivate at this lugubrious possibility so long as they themselves don’t get caught in the line of fire. 

If no one stands up to make reason prevail in these proceedings, then there are other things that attack the political viruses that infect the American state over time. The political viruses inside its freedoms can work themselves out by stasis (lack of motion)  , and dry up to form the dead skin that the snake-like American state eventually sheds.  The American state was designed to use stasis as a force as much as dynamics – something earlier founders of republics never grasped because their heads were shoved too far up Plato.  Thus it can wait anything out while anything else, even if itself uses stasis, attacks the body politic by using immovable force. For instance it can wait out a generation of Adlerian-immersed baby boomers and any likeminded spawn. Even if it takes another 75 years, roughly the time it took that bizarre confabulation, “the Soviet Union” (empire) to die. It will leave scars but the pain will go. The invisible university in America has its own professors – what Stephen J. Gould once called the “republic of letters”-  and the invisible main stream press has its own editors and writers and, need Americans help in handling tyrants further, they always have recourse to their doughty English cousins for advice and help. It was, after all, the English who “founded” the Invisible University in the first place. True American conservatism, that misty memory granting Americans fair play, common sense, decency, unadjustedness and curiosity, aligns with the English first.

America, said General Ulysses S. Grant “was the best government ever devised by man.”   It was so because in part, it was never dedicated to the proposition that there is a perfect world out there if we could just hold it in place long enough to make the right changes before we let it go again. That was the world of Plato, which runs through this essay like the allegory of philosopher king-hood, group-mind mentality, correct-speak, no-speak, ideal worlds and “perfect control” it defines. If Ralph Waldo Emerson was right, then Plato’s thinking lies at the basis of Christianity and Islam, and described and demarcated the European nation state from the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire, on. Plato also defines Marxist thinking (as well as Hegel, Fichte, and even Kant and Hume, and recently Mannheim and Wittgenstein ). The same ideological culture that invented Medieval indulgences (pay your way out of Purgatory) now speaks for Mr. Gore’s inventing the carbon credit scheme to buy your way out of a sense of destroying-the-environment-guilt. The Pope paid himself and the Catholic Church by indulgences in Medieval times. Mr. Gore pays himself today by levying a fee on eco-guilt in the modern American/world body politic with the U.S. government and the U.N. as proxies. Historicism is not only a means to power, it pays. Mr. Gore’s problem is that he is a miniature church in a very big modern nation state with amazing powers of self-cleansing. The world, if worried about Mr. Gore, shouldn’t be. He has not been around for 2,009 years as an institution and he has not, himself, been founded in Platonist principles for all posterity. He only studied ‘em at Harvard. Gaius was a man, Gaius died, therefore all men are mortal (and are infinitely flawed).

Plato’s way of thinking had the faucets of it jammed shut the day America was declared on July 4, 1776, though the spigot still drips. All religions of any type were neutralized under one nation under God, and that goes for any kind of philosophical tradition as well. America is dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, and that if forced to communicate in session – as the bicameral system forces people from wealthy elected representatives to the unemployed homeless, down – will allow them to lead themselves, with or without dogmas, shining ideals, or mythical heroes from some recondite past. It is a mess but a safe and durable one.  And as it has excreted European philosopher king-hood, it will excrete the other ornate encrustations of Platonist philosophies in all their poses of putative perfection, academic or real, while acquiring the better, more modern things from that continent and others.

Steven Haywood Yaskell  was educated at Salem State College in Salem, Massachusetts USA and at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He studied Russian politics and language at the university’s East European Studies Institute as part of a combined honours program. Having worked in the area of applied telecommunications science for 16 years for advanced systems’ information logistics, he is a trained interpreter and delineator of useful science. He is an independent science researcher and writer with a particular interest in science history, and has been published by journals such as the (American) Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Mercury and the Journal for the History and Heritage of Astronomy at James Cook University (Australia).  He lived in Stalin-style ruled Romania in 1982-83 while working at the U.S. Embassy, getting a chance to see, close up, exactly what kinds of misfortunes historicism wreaks on functioning societies.

Contact @:, or steven.yaskell@sigmakudos. com.