You and I, my friends, are privileged people; though I fear that very few actually realize the significance of what has just happened. There has been a meltdown of the tyranny of ‘Politicience’, reminiscent of the end of Jadis’ 100 year rule over Narnia, and the establishment of common sense once again. An establishment in which creation is again allowed her natural and complex seasonal undulations without a thermometer in all of her cracks and crevices. There is, at present, a rising level in the ability of mankind to simply see for themselves again; of the ancient, sweet and noble Common Sense: overthrower of tyrants, supplanter of dictators, enemy of evil and all round nice guy.
I fear though that this will be another short lived tide of mass human reason and critical thinking. And I fear that each time this tide rises it is fewer times than before and further between, and it takes a wilder moon to raise it.
This time the see level was raised by a nameless (although I hope not thankless) hacker. A criminal at large, a Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poorly informed. Hopefully one day we can find and thank this woman (or perhaps it was a man) en masse for her courage. Although it is probable that if found this heroine would go to jail.
This is not the first time the tyranny has been overthrown, and I hope it will not be the last, for doubtless it shall come to power again. There was the ‘Bird Flu’ threat which had doctors (and their closest friends) securing vaccines before they were even discovered. There was the ‘overpopulation’ dilemma which gave Politicience license to murder and turned out to be no dilemma at all. And there was the Y2K pending logic-board free-fall which turned out to be less logical than the boards. Not to mention eugenics, Communism, the coming ice age, wmd in Iraq, and all the other religious expeditions of Politicience which have held vast populations in its icy grip.
Has any proponent of Politicience ever stood trial for its atrocities? No! I like to think that is because they were well meaning atrocities, though that would hardly make them less horrible; but it has nothing to do with intention. The reason why Politicience never stands trial is because it could only stand trial before itself, it sits monastically, large and in charge, like the Medieval Church; and as unforgiving as Politicience is on it’s dissenters, it is equally forgiving on itself. Al Gore has just gone into hiding with his Nobel prize, and none at the Met Office or the University of East Anglia or the IPCC seems likely to loose their jobs any time soon (despite ongoing revelations like this one).
We need to face the fact that Peer review is not a good process for any kind of science that is linked or motivated politically. As a process peer review has always been healthy, from playgrounds to universities. The issue, though, is that fifth graders recognize a higher authority than peer review, professors don’t.
Perhaps I can state the problem this way: If peer-review is instruction then it could not have come from a peer and it is more than a review. It is a fine process for developing resources, but a very dangerous process to use in making national policy.
Mankind, like a woman who seems only attracted to cruel men, will keep on giving to Politicience the scepter of humanity, the conch shell of the island. Not because of a record of wise and sensible guidance, but based merely on the intelligence of its proponents. We keep dancing to its tune, bowing humbly to its every whim and bright fancy. Beleiving that applied intelligence must bring about altruism at worst and high morals at best; believing this despite the ongoing lack of evidence, the continued shameful revelation that scientists and politicians, like the rest of us are susceptible to lying, cheating, insecurities, threats and the like.
Well I can tell you that I, for one, would be very happy to see some of this politicience taught in the classrooms where it belongs… the religious classrooms! But for real science; science that discovers water on the moon, and produces robotic hands for amputees, and comes up with new and wonderfully helpful things. Keep up the great work.
My suggestion is that we should rely a lot more on referendum before making national policy, peer review could use a lot more Common Sense. And, most importantly, there must be a separation of science and state!