Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Censorship of Science through Government Censorship of Scientific Reports

Censorship—a powerful meme in America. We argue voraciously for freedom of speech. Yet some of us believe that censorship is important to protecting the interests of …Who? McCarthy thought he was protecting us from communism when he fostered his witch-hunt on everyone who spoke against the status quo and gutted Hollywood of its talent. Of course, the actual, centuries-earlier witch hunts of the “actual” witches was censorship at its burning cruelest.

Today censorship is directed towards science. It does not matter what the evidence. What counts is the political message. This I say based on the words of Dr. Hansen of NASA-Goddard Space Center on Sixty Minutes on CBS this Sunday evening, July 30, 2006, and the evidence produced on the show. (I am, of course, trusting the journalists.)

The willingness to be censored is seen in the push for a constitutional amendment against burning the flag. This bothers me because I do not think that patriotism and respect for this country can be legislated. Although I would not personally burn our flag, I recognize that flag-burning is a powerful meme for people with a gripe to use to get other Americans to notice them, and by implication their message. Let freedom ring.

But, the censorship of science does not affect just the notice of the public. It affects the credibility of this nation in its interpretation of evidence. It affects the credibility of science itself. But, then, the Creationist movement has convinced many Americans that science is not creditable, anyway. The anti-science fostered by the political censorship of a scientific report makes me not trust my government. After all, if it will lie about science, what else will it lie about?

Science prides itself in its attempt to let the evidence speak for itself, in attempting to remain objective in its interpretation of the evidence. The methods used in scientific research are scrutinized by scientists and philosophers alike as to science’s ability to produce trustworthy results. Using these methods, science performed under the scrutiny of the scientific community becomes self-correcting when given enough time. Truth will out. But, only if the truth is what is reported.

Censorship of science such as what was reported on Sixty Minutes today is tantamount to fraudulent science. Thank goodness, some scientists are not willing to tolerate fraud—even if our elected officials strongly encourage it.

Censorship is a meme that provokes powerful negative emotions in this patriotic believer in the Constitution of the United States, as it should in all Americans. Censorship must be used with extreme care and its use should be monitored carefully by us all.

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