Physicists must defend the integrity of science

** Written by “Surak” **

German climate scientist, Lennart Bengtsson, is speaking out about the overwhelming pressure he experienced after joining a group skeptical of climate change:

News that Lennart Bengtsson, the respected former director of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, had joined the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), sent shockwaves through the climate research community. GWPF is most notable for its skepticism about climate change and its efforts to undermine the position of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The tremors his decision sent through the scientific community shocked Bengtsson.

The scientist said colleagues placed so much pressure on him after joining GWPF that he withdrew from the group out of fear for his own health. Bengtsson added that his treatment had been reminiscent of the persecution of suspected Communists in the United States during the era of McCarthyism in the 1950s.

It is time for physicists around the world to wake up to what is happening to science. They cannot sit back and do nothing as their colleagues in climate science are being harassed, having their jobs threatened, and being denied the opportunity to publish their works for political reasons. Physicists have to feel and express outrage whenever politicians make nakedly self-serving pronouncements that the scientific debate on climate change is over. Physicists know better than anyone else that’s not how science works. How often during the centuries from Aristarchus to Copernicus to Lemaître have physicists witnessed the lone individual prevail in the search for truth over the mistakes and objections of the multitude?

The threat to science is not confined to the study of climate change. Consider the field of biology, which, since the time of Thomas Huxley, has been dominated by the flawed theory of Darwin. What true scientist could accept the near deification of another scientist or the effective canonization of his works? Physicists certainly venerate the pioneers of astronomy and physics, but they do so even as they attempt to fulfill their scientific responsibility to do everything they can to prove those great scientists wrong. Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton did much for humankind, but physicists don’t try to shield them from criticism. They fully accept and honestly proclaim that these great luminaries were often wrong. By contrast, try getting any biologist to publicly admit the truth that Darwin was seriously wrong about evolution. They don’t dare.

And then there are the behavioral and social sciences—the benighted drudges of left-wing political ideology for so many generations. Take a few moments to investigate the latest pronouncements from the professional associations that represent the mainstream of psychology, anthropology, sociology and all the other behavioral disciplines; you will quickly understand the anti-science they truly represent. Psychologist, William James, was correct when he wrote about the study of human behavior over one hundred years ago, “This is no science … ,” but he was tragically wrong when he continued, “… it is only the hope of a science.”

There is no hope of science in these fields, because in them there is none of the overriding desire for or genuine commitment to truth that can defeat the human failings that physics took two millennia to overcome. That is why the social and behavioral studies have failed to accomplish the paradigm shift, the empirical conversion, and the discovery of natural laws which are the necessary steps to true science. Instead of Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and the light of truth, these fields have give humankind nothing more than scientific abominations such as Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud.

Physicists must understand the terrible and dangerous imbalance in human knowledge their lack of leadership is allowing to occur. Physics and the other physical sciences have given humankind an incredible power over the forces of nature. We can harness nuclear energy, create a multitude of new chemicals, manipulate the building blocks of matter, reshape the surface of the Earth, and change the atmosphere. But, because we do not understand or have any power over the inner forces that cause human behavior, we are like little children handling loaded weapons.

It took 1800 years before Copernicus realized the truth of what Aristarchus said about the structure of our solar system and took the first step toward true science. We can’t wait another 1800 years to develop a true science of human behavior. We won’t last that long. All sciences have to be put back on the path to truth. That’s why physicists must find the courage and determination to act as the keepers of the scientific flame and light the way for the others.

Physicists must shine a scientific light on all of the pretenses, the dishonesty, and the abuses that pass for science in other disciplines. Physicists must turn their love of science into a rage against all efforts to bend science away from the search for truth. Physicists must react with intellectual fury against all attempts to subvert science into the service of greed (yes, I’m talking about you, Al Gore) and the lust for political power (yes, I’m talking about you, IPCC).

Physics is the father and mother of all science. Physicists must act like the loving but determined parents of a hoard of unruly children who, instead of working hard to become real scientists, spend their time playing at and pretending to be scientists in the fields of biology, climate change, and human behavior. Physicists must guide and instruct those who are willing to learn from the magnificent successes of the physical sciences. They must relentlessly call out, scold, and discipline those who aren’t. If physicists lack the foresight or are simply too wimpy to take charge and lead the way, science will fail. Only God can help humanity if that happens, because we won’t be able to help ourselves.

One thought on “Physicists must defend the integrity of science

  1. I would add that a good part of the blame lies with governments funding science. Strip away the grants and other government monetary support and science in all fields would go through a major housecleaning and restore some sanity. That in of itself wouldn’t be sufficient, but it would a step in the right direction.

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