Picking up from last time:
Somehow or other, we have come to live in a world in which science—or maybe I should say, "something called 'science'", or "anything at all labelled 'science'"—has gained the status of Ultimate Unquestionable Authority over human life.
This raises the question of what science is, or what it means—or ought to mean—at any given moment, and how we might ever come to know the answer.
In the real world, from what I can tell, the answer seems to be that science only means whatever the most influential human beings called "scientists" tell us it means at any given moment, particularly if government force backs them up.
But that in turn raises the question of what causes scientists to make the pronouncements they do.
Most of us, earlier on in life, might have said, "the best evidence". But that seems to be rarer than most of us thought. I'm not saying "the best evidence" is never the criterion. I'm saying it's quite often not the sole criterion, as most of us used to think, nor does it even seem to be the most important criterion in many cases. In some cases—including highly influential cases—it isn't a criterion at all.
John Money's famous twins experiment is like that. So is pretty much every idea he ever promoted. None of it had any empirical warrant. Even worse, as Milton Diamond and others showed, Money's ideas blatantly conflicted with the best evidence. Yet in the battle for the hearts and minds of the scientific establishment over decades, who won: John Money, or the best evidence?
John Money won. In fact, he is still winning today, seven decades after he began his career, six decades after Milton Diamond's 1965 article exposed him as an ideologue and charlatan, and 24 years after Diamond's follow-up article exposed his famous "scientific experiment" as a devastatingly harmful hoax. Biological denialism, sex reassignments, hormone treatments, the conceit that science can turn men into women and vice versa, Gender Identity Disorder, transgenderism even among children—all this is more popular than ever. And no wonder, since the state now enforces it all. Our world is a world Money helped create.
So to my critics who say, "You can't question science based on a single case", I respond, "First of all, it wasn't really a 'single case'. It is now many hundreds of thousands of cases, and there is no end in sight". The entire "scientific" establishment now preaches and practices a perverse, harmful dogma, the falsity of which can be easily shown.
But it is not only in the realm of sexual identity that "science" shows indifference to "the best evidence". Just ask our friend Mark Steyn about the so-called "science" of climate change. Not even Lewis Carroll trapped in an opium-fueled fever dream could imagine the amount of corruption, racketeering, profiteering, cynical emotional extortion, and fraud which has saturated the "science of climate change" industry for decades.
What about Covid science over the past eighteen months? From Anthony Fauci on down, public health authorities around the Anglosphere have lied—or at least, been starkly wrong about—almost everything to do with this virus. That includes everything from how the virus originated, to how its home lab was funded, to the public health benefits of restricting travel from Wuhan, the lethality of the virus, the efficacy of masks, the efficacy of the vaccines, whether children and adolescents need vaccines, the efficacy of various non-vaccine treatment and therapy options (see also here), the efficacy of lockdowns, the human costs of lockdowns (see also here), the accuracy of the Covid hospitalization and death numbers, the possibilities of vaccine passports and mandates, the risks of the vaccines, and pretty much everything else you can think of.
Also disturbing is the fact that, to this day, science—at least throughout the Anglosphere—still has no substantive standard treatment protocol for anyone who contracts Covid. Test positive, and odds are your doctor will only say, "Go home and quarantine. Call us if you start losing your ability to breathe"—after which they'll put you on a hospital ventilator, which will probably finish you off (see also here). You probably won't hear a single word about the well-established antiviral effects of medicines like hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin. You might even hear them maligned, even though they are two of the safests, and most effective, medicines ever developed.
In fact, you'd win money if you bet that the entire "scientific" establishment would declare war on every non-vaccine Covid treatment and therapy which ever emerges. After all, that's no more than they've done so far with hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, monoclonal antibodies, and various antioxidants, all of which aid recovery if administered early enough. But no—for most in the scientific establishment, only a vaccine will do, the end. And perhaps not so coincidentally, "vaccines only" is precisely the position which most financially benefits vaccine manufacturers. Hm.
What about decades of science's nearly-unanimous recommendation of a high-carbohydrate, low fat diet? You know, the diet which told you that margarine was better for you than butter; Cool Whip was better for you than whipped cream; and that everyday, you should eat up to eleven servings of "bread, cereal, rice, and pasta"?
Nearly every doctor, nutritionist, and researcher recommended that diet for years. The American Heart Association even published a pamphlet in 1995 asserting you could eat anything you wanted—including "hard candy, gum drops, sugar, jam, carbonated soft drinks", etc.—as long as it was low in fat. This authoritative, but lethally erroneous, scientific advice created the obesity epidemic, and by extension, the explosion of diseases like Type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, severe sleep apnea, kidney disease, and even certain varieties of cancer. It literally killed thousands. Yet that whole time, ample evidence suggested the diet was wrong. That didn't matter. Only other factors did.
One of those factors was money. By now, you might not be surprised to learn that the influential Harvard scientists who, starting in the late 1960s, began shaping scientific orthodoxy by downplaying the risks of sugar, pushing a high-carb diet, and eventually helping write the government's (malnutritious) Food Guide Pyramid—all contrary to the best nutritional evidence, even then—were the secretly paid shills of the sugar lobby. Those were the guys who set "scientific policy" on how we should best nourish our bodies. And we believed them.
The point is this:
I increasingly wonder to what extent science exists, as opposed to just scientists. That's not to say nothing can ever be known. Of course it can. The problem is that (estabishment) science seems, at best, far less a reliable source of knowledge and virtue than any of us would like to believe, and for that reason, its superiority as a guide to human life over the guides it has displaced—venerated tradition, religious teaching, common sense, scripture, and even "the best evidence available"—now seems genuinely doubtful. This feels especially true given that science doesn't seem to have any kind of reliable internal safeguard against its own hive mind acquiescence, indifference to truth, inhumane excess, saleability, or misuse of science to impose ideology.
I appreciate beneficent scientific breakthroughs as much as the next guy. At the same time, I've come to wonder about Enlightenment optimism regarding knowledge, human rationality, science, and moral progress. I wonder about the Enlightenment elevation of scientists to the status of ultimate epistemic and moral authorities. And I wonder if having scientists serve as our culture's high caste of epistemic and moral authority, rather than some other type of person, is really optimal. They seem very co-optable. That's a danger when imperial Wokeness is on the march.
Tal will continue the conversation here next week. Mark Steyn Club members can weigh in on this column in the comment section below, one of many perks of club membership, which you can check out here.