There’s a March for Science scheduled for this weekend. It hasn’t even taken place, but it’s already had a long and checkered history, with multiple rewrites of its mission and principles. Though somewhat toned down from the original, current versions still sound less like a March for Science than a March for Science with Progressivist and Secular Values.
Thankfully there are plenty of scientists who see it for what it is and have opted out (here’s one good example). This March might claim to represent Science, but there are a whole lot of scientists who are smart enough not to agree.
Anyway, The Stream is running a week-long series on this March. I’ve got one (maybe two) articles in that queue; but then this morning I ran across the March’s first official blog post, courtesy of Shadow to Light.
“The latest battle in the War on Science has shifted into high gear,” this blog post warns.
What war on science are we talking about this time? I wondered — so I clicked over to the book linked there and downloaded the free Kindle preview. Written by Shawn Otto, The War on Science was published in 2016. It includes a foreword by the ever-earnest atheist Lawrence Krauss.
Here’s the epigraph to Chapter 1, followed by Ott0’s first paragraph there:
Wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government; that wherever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights. — Thomas Jefferson, January 6, 1789
Thomas Jefferson’s trust in the well-informed voter lies at the heart of the modern democracy that has, over the course of two centuries, come to guide the world. Much like the “invisible hand” that guides Adam Smith’s economic marketplace, so too does the invisible hand of the people’s will guide the democratic process. Faith in this idea is so central to democracy that George Washington emphasized it in the nation’s first inaugural address. “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men, more than the People of the United States.”
This short intro — barely half a page — was all it took to raise three questions leading to one observation.
Question 1: How amazing is it to see an author pack that much out-of-context confusion into just five sentences? Washington’s “invisible hand” — Divine Providence — is absolutely not Smith’s “invisible hand” of the marketplace, which is certainly not Otto’s “invisible hand of the people’s will,” which isn’t invisible in the first place, if he’s talking about elections and representative government.
Question 2: If Shawn Otto really likes science, that’s great; so do I. If he really supports it, that’s great, too; so do I. But does his support for science give him a pass on presenting anything else besides science truthfully?
Question 3: Is this really about a War on Science, or is this book its own War on Knowledge?
Observation: The confusion here is typical of the whole March for Science. Read The Stream every day this week for more.