The political left likes to flatter itself as being pro-science while labeling their political opponents as being anti-science. For instance, one of the first hits to pop up after Googling the term ‘antiscience’ is a CNN headline that reads
Green billionaire prepares to attack ‘anti-science’ Republicans.
As Robert Bork said, however, “The left is not known for telling the truth.” The fact of the matter is that leftists themselves are particularly anti-science. For the left, politics and ideology trump all, and if science gets in the way of political correctness, science gets shoved aside.
The truth of this statement can be supported through innumerable examples. The left, for instance, engages in scaremongering against products shown by science to be quite safe, such as pesticides, genetically modified crops, and nuclear power.
Just the latest example involves the liberal stats guru Nate Silver, founder of the FiveThirtyEight website. Silver made uncannily accurate predictions of the 2012 election, and as a result, attained near cult status on the left as a premier prognosticator.
Recently, Silver hired Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. to write for FiveThirtyEight about environmental issues. Pielke’s very first article for the site got him in trouble. The problem was that the Pielke’s article contradicted the political agenda of ‘climate change.’ And since the left has a lot riding on the climate change gravy train, Pielke had to go. The Climate Cathedral attacked Pielke for heresy.
As for Pielke himself, he was re-excommunicated with extreme prejudice. “Disinformer!” the Daily Kos screamed. “One of the country’s leading tricksters on climate change,” charged the Huffington Post. “Inaccurate and misleading,” was ThinkProgress’s measured verdict. Even that doyen of professionalism and sworn enemy of hyperbole, Michael Mann, weighed in, knocking his foe for his “pattern of sloppiness.” The pile-on was as predictable as it was unjust. At root, Pielke’s biggest crimes are to have walked at slightly different pace than his peers and to have refused to bow to the president. Pielke accepts the IPCC’s view of the climate-change question but suggests in parallel that man’s response is unlikely to have a “perceptible impact on the climate for many decades” and that civilization should thus adapt to, rather than attempt to prevent, change. Elsewhere, Pielke has corrected Barack Obama’s “science czar,” John Holdren, who has recently taken to claiming that everything under the sun is the product of global warming — droughts, hurricanes, wildfires — and who never misses a chance, in Pielke’s words, to “[exaggerate] the state of scientific understanding.” For this unconscionable resistance to fashion, Silver and his hire were marked for destruction.
Dr. Judith Curry, who is an actual, for real, climate scientist, was appalled by the attack on Pielke.
RP Jr’s post at 538 has elicited what is probably the most reprehensible and contemptible smear job that I have ever seen of a scientist, at least from an organization that has any pretense of respectability.
Silver is supposed to be a wonky science guy, but in response to the attack, Silver never again published a piece by Pielke on climate. We agree with Kate McMillan that this incident tells us everything we need to know about Silver and his site.
Thank you for this, Nate Silver… It’s helpful to know that Fivethirtyeight is just another product of spineless pc conformity before I waste any time with it.
Pielke himself summed up the experience this way.
Of course, I do wish that 538 had shown a bit more editorial backbone, but hey, it is his operation. If a widely published academic cannot publish on a subject which he has dozens of peer-reviewed papers and 1000s of citations to his work, what can he write on? Clearly Nate is a smart guy, and I suspect that he knows very well where the evidence lies on this topic. For me, if the price of playing in the DC-NYC data journalism world is self-censorship for fear of being unpopular, then it is clearly not a good fit for any academic policy scholar.
That last sentence is especially damning: “[T]he DC-NYC data journalism world is…clearly not a good fit for any academic policy scholar.” But that “DC-NYC data journalism world” is precisely the authority that so-smart liberals follow unquestioningly.
We note in closing that one of those establishment figures who piled on Pielke was the ever-deplorable Paul Krugman. He seems determined to make society pay a heavy price indeed for the fact that he was not popular in high school.