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Hello Ricochet! I subscribed to Ricochet in 2018 mainly to support the excellent flagship podcast, which I listen to every week. I have not posted before, not for lack of interest but for lack of time. However, I came across an item yesterday in the journal Science that was so troubling that I had to make time to put my thoughts into words. The lead editorial in the latest edition shows not only that Science the journal is lost to progressive ideology, but also that science the intellectual pursuit may be well on its way.
Yesterday morning a link to the electronic version of Science arrived by email. Science is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is one of the leading cross-disciplinary science journals. A paper published in Science is a major achievement for academic scientists. Every week the journal has an opening editorial published by a guest contributor. The editorial typically provides an opinion about some current issue related to science. Typical headlines for the editorial would be statements like “Only international action can save sea turtles from climate doom” or “Academic scientists desperately need more money.”
This morning the editorial was titled “Save the Supreme Court and democracy.” This piece stood out for several reasons. It is completely political with only a very weak pretense of relevance to science. The editorial shows that the author (Maya Sen) either (1) has no knowledge of the constitution and hasn’t actually read the Supreme court decisions that she cites, or (2) does understand the constitution and has read the cases but chooses to ignore the facts anyway. And most disturbingly: The author must be confident that her highly-educated readers will be just as poorly informed yet confident in their opinions as she is.
Maya Sen is no un-credentialed slouch. She is a professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. However, she has no problem making the following statements:
“When it resumes in October, the court will be poised to outlaw affirmative action, undercut federal regulations regarding clean water, and possibly allow state legislatures to restrict voting rights without oversight by state courts.”
“The court’s eye-popping move to the conservative right is confirmed by research that compares its decisions to public opinion.”
“If people think the court is ideologically opposed to them, they will be more likely to think that it is acting purely politically.” (stated unironically)
“As gridlock and polarization continue to undercut the efficacy of elected branches of government, the Supreme Court’s salience in matters of public importance will only rise.”
“Additional promising proposals by scholars to help reduce ideological imbalance include reconfiguring how the US selects justices and expanding the size of the court. Others—such as stripping the court’s jurisdiction—would address the argument that the court wields too much power.”
You can read the whole thing for yourself here.
By publishing this editorial, the editors of Science gave it the imprimatur of one of the world’s most respected hard-science journals. This adds to the shameful role that Science has played in promoting the risible idea that the Wuhan flu popped up due to natural causes, by the most incredible coincidence in all history, in a market just down the street from one of the three labs in the world that studies enhanced versions of coronavirus found in bats. They published this nonsense without noting the clear conflicts of interest of the authors, who played a role in funding the dangerous research in the shoddy lab that leaked COVID.
Science (the journal) was an institution that deserved respect based on decades of straight reporting and publication of excellent papers. The current editors are squandering that hard-won respect and it will take a very long time to re-earn it. Worse still, the scientific community remains largely silent as progressive ideology erodes their institutions.
All of this, IMHO, traces back to the corruption of science due to politicized government funding and warped incentives in the universities. But that’s a post for another day.Published in