WHY ACADEMICS DO NOT CHALLENGE ORTHODOXY
“Whenever the cause of the people is entrusted to professors, it is lost.” Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
“No doubt passive acceptance yields less stress, fewer personal attacks and makes career progress easier. What I have experienced in my personal life during the last years makes me understand why most people choose not to speak out; job security and fear of reprisals. Even in University, where free speech and challenge to prevailing wisdoms are supposedly encouraged, academics remain silent.... Sadly, my experience is that universities are the most dogmatic and oppressive places in our society. This becomes progressively worse as they receive more and more funding from governments that demand a particular viewpoint...Until you have challenged the prevailing wisdom you have no idea how nasty people can be. Until you have re-examined any issue in an attempt to find out all the information, you cannot know how much misinformation exists in the supposed age of information.”The preceding quote came from a Canadian academic who is reviled for his scepticism regarding conventional climate science theory. But is not his experience the same for those who challenge the wisdom of population and economic growth, and particularly, the role that mass immigration plays in it? Shall we then feel comfortable as bystanders when sceptics like him are denounced as blind pariahs in the pay of sinister oil companies while we stay silent? Of what worth is freedom of expression if it only means freedom for those who agree with us? Why do the politically correct highlight the financial connection between such sceptics and the energy companies but ignore the money trail that leads from banks and corporations to environmental organizations like the David Suzuki Foundation, Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club of BC, to name but a few? Why does no one care to ask why the David Suzuki Foundation is accepting money from natural gas giant Encana Corporation and the Royal Bank of Canada? Why aren’t CBC journalists reading the financial reports of environmental NGOs and asking these kind of questions? What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
Our political culture is permeated by careerism and corruption. Integrity is for hire. Much vaunted objective scientific detachment is largely a myth. Directly or indirectly, everyone is on the corporate or government payroll. Step over the party line, and you are blacklisted or isolated and sometimes unemployed. Today everyone one is a politician---“if you don’t like my principles I’ll find others for you”--- and only outcasts and hermits are truth-tellers. So much for all the cant on Remembrance Day about ours being a free society. Academic Babbitts in contemporary society are no more independent than the scientists who did research on the V2 rocket. And what of the great masses who toil in the real world? How many people think for themselves or do their own research rather they simply swallow the filtered news spoon-fed by their favourite political party, church, club or association? How many people read to challenge their belief system rather than simply shore it up? How many people who spin out the newsletters for these organizations ever have the fortitude to question one of their tenets? Why do we think “scientists” are endowed with a distinctive conscience when the society around them is on the take? We keep asking, why has no one broke ranks and spoken out? Why do people like David Attenborough, Jane Goddall and James Lovelock wait until one of their feet is in the grave before they break a taboo and identify human overpopulation as a dire threat? Why does David Suzuki not publicly declare that Canada is overpopulated when he has said so privately? Why is there not a single MP in Canada’s House of Commons who will stand up and say the same thing? The reasons are several, but peer pressure is arguably the most important of them, as well love of financial security.
It seems that just as you can’t be too rich or too thin, if you are a scientist on the public leash or corporate dole, you can’t be too timid obedient to your paymaster. There is a direct correlation between the source of research funding and the conclusions of that research, which never seem to displease the underwriters. But conformity is also dictated by the primeval fear of ostracism or banishment from one’s tribe. Orthodoxy comes in many forms and varies from time to place. Today, acceptance of AGW is but one ticket to group acceptance, support for open borders is another. As Australian sociologist Katherine Betts observed in defining “The New Class”, "The concept of immigration control has become contaminated in the minds of the new class by the ideas of racism, narrow self-seeking nationalism, and a bigoted preference for cultural homogeneity....Their enthusiasm for anti-racism and international humanitarianism is often sincere but there are also social pressures supporting this sincere commitment and making apostasy difficult... ideologically correct attitudes to immigration have offered the warmth of in-group acceptance to supporters and the cold face of exclusion to dissenters."
I think we can begin to broaden our understanding of Betts’ conception of the “New Class”, this smug intelligentsia of rootless globe-trotting cosmopolitans who belong to a mutual admiration society of academics, by taking note of their networking. It is very much an Old Boys Club. If one tries to bring one of them down, the rest of the fraternity will be sure to react in his defense, for after all, he is a fellow academic, not one of the great unwashed. And one cannot help but notice how much each “independent” voice for the cause can count on the endorsement of his other back-scratchers when he publishes a book. Tim Flannery endorses a book by David Suzuki and visa versa. Ditto Paul Ehrlich, who rewards Suzuki’s support with praise for a Suzuki book. Much in the way that local merchants will refer clients to each other in the hopes of reciprocation.
The greatest deficit in scientific thinking and political leadership is courage. Courage to break with falsehood at the cost of comfortable and rewarding alliances and friendships. It would be ironic that the one trait that has allowed humanity to prevail—our mutual support and cooperation, our tribalism---will be the trait that ultimately brings us down. Too much group-think and gemeinshchaft, too little iconoclasm and geschellshaft. Pack animals who squandered their intelligence in the pursuit of group membership and a secure rank in the club to become lemmings just when the rest of us relied upon them for leadership.
You may be bright, but if ya ain’t got guts, you’re no bloody use at all.