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Why Oppositional Science Cannot Exist
Summary (click to expand):
Reader warning: The following is a rambling, philosophical post.
i. Why Science™ Cannot Exist
At Notebooks of an Inflamed Cynic, Jon holds up a mirror to the follies of Western science, i.e. Science™, in general.
In a recent, revealing post, he points out that the very theory Science™ chose to pillory as the 20th-Century exemplar of state-sponsored dogma dressing up as science — Lysenkoism — has now become entirely valid in the eyes of Science™.
But, since Science™ as a human endeavor can’t be understood as having any meaning unless it is in opposition to Lysenkoism (the intentional restriction of the blind pursuit of truth for political ends), it is verboten to acknowledge the acknowledgement of Lysenkoism (the specific theory). Instead, inherited epigenetic traits must somehow be depicted as… not Lysenkoism.
Otherwise, if Lysenkoism were acknowledged as valid, it would become apparent that opposition to Lysenkoism (the specific theory) was itself a form of Lysenkoism (the intentional restriction of the blind pursuit of truth for political ends), all along.
I just want to note with a chuckle how funny I find it that the bug-bear of psuedo-science called “Lysenkoism”, which literally became a metonymy for false, wrong, politically driven fake science,—stuff we are “well beyond”—has now just been quietly reintroduced as “oh, yeah, that’s a thing, who said otherwise?”
On top of that, you get a “Listen, this might look A LOT like Lysenkoism, but it’s not, because that was bad stuff bad guys did, but this is good stuff good guys do.”
I can’t speak for Jon, but the reason I would declare this small, obscure transgression sufficient for the condemnation of the entire enterprise of Western science is because it is, essentially, overt intellectual corruption:
“Well, yes, Lysenko thought that acquired characteristics were inheritable, but he wasn’t correct, because he wasn’t doing Science™. When we think acquired characteristics are inheritable, we are correct, because we are doing Science™.”
It reveals that Science™ is not at all some cloistered citadel purified of human intellectual folly, chiefly confirmation bias, whose rituals of falsification have guided the liberal West toward enlightenment. It is just a medieval guild like any other. Nothing is ever “falsified” unless Western scientists don’t think it is true to begin with.
There is not one iota difference between Science™ acknowledging “inheritable epigenetics” (which is merely our current explanation for observed Lysenkoism, and might be an oversimplification) and the Professional Managerial Class telling the broad coalition of Lockdown Skeptics in 2022 that “yes, you were right, but for the wrong reasons.” Western science is just a another credentialized clique organized around conformity and influence-seeking.
Hence why Scott Adams can be so mystified at the failure of Science™ to have delivered the “correct” answer regarding rushed, experimental gene therapy vaccines:
This is me, doing an impression of Scott, if he were arrogant:
Well, you looked at the science and then you did your own research, um, some people would say there’s a step missing. In which, the psychology mattered. But some would say, that the people who understand persuasion would know that this [box 1, Personal Research +Assessment] is nothing but confirmation bias.
And so the people who said they did [Box 1], and trusted their gut instinct, if I were arrogant, I would say:
“Well you’ve just described the exact reason that science was invented.
Science was invented so you wouldn’t do this. That was to prevent you from doing this. And this [box 2, Government + Pharma + News].
Because these are not science. Science is the solution to doing [box 1 and 2]. This would be the problem, not the solution.”
Note that Adams trollishly denies having made his decision based on either of those boxes, as otherwise his construction leaves no alternative between blind faith in Pharma and personal research. Instead, he asserts that he got the Covid vaccine based on “his penis.”
At all events, Adams’ fundamental error here is incredibly simple, and lies in not realizing that both Box 1 and 2 are already inside “Science,” and have been for decades.
Thus, “Science” does not and cannot do the thing Adams understands it to have been invented to do.
Regarding the timing of these invasions, I can’t claim to be a centuries-old planet-wanderer recording the behind-the-scenes changes in the guild of science.
Box 1, i.e. confirmation bias, can be safely presumed as having always been in science, and this is supported by several notorious examples of science not progressing until all the wrong-idea-having-people get old and die.
Box 2’s invasion of science appears a more recent phenomenon, the timeline of which is discussed at length in Daniel Sarewitz’s Frontiers of Illusion: Science, Technology, and the Politics of Progress. Appropriately, Sarewitz is writing to a modern audience (1996) to discourse on the problem of why purportedly unfettered, public-funded basic research remains beholden to financial incentives, elite biases, politics, etc. Where did the great program of funding basic science go wrong?
Sarewitz answers that it was never intended to “go right” to begin with. The myths which science was failing to live up to had only been advertising slogans. In short, “Science” was accurately perceived by the minds behind the post-War Military Industrial Complex as a venue for eternal corporate welfare, if only they could sell the government and the public a vision of true “Science” which was too pure and abstract to achieve with private investment:
The language used to portray the expected benefits of scientific research has not changed much since 1945, when Vannevar Bush, director of the wartime Office of Scientific Research and Development under presidents Roosevelt and Truman, issued his famous report, 'Science, the Endless Frontier.'
This document virtually codified the rationale for government support of R&D in the post-World War II era, and in doing so created a rhetorical template for explaining the value of science and technology in modern society:
Scientific Progress is Essential
Progress in the war against disease depends upon a flow of new scientific knowledge. New products, new industries, and more jobs require continuous additions to knowledge of the laws of nature, and the application of that knowledge to practical purposes. Similarly, our defense against aggression demands new knowledge so that we can develop new and improved weapons. The essential, new knowledge can be obtained only through basic scientific research...
To continue with Vannevar Bush’s report, he mentions of the funding of medical research:
The responsibility for basic research in medicine and the underlying sciences, so essential to progress in the war against disease, falls primarily upon the medical schools and universities. Yet we find that the traditional sources of support for medical research in the medical schools and universities, largely endowment income, foundation grants, and private donations, are diminishing and there is no immediate prospect of a change in this trend. Meanwhile, the cost of medical research has been rising.
If we are to maintain the progress in medicine which has marked the last 25 years, the Government should extend financial support to basic medical research in the medical schools and in universities.
In Sarewitz’s telling, it would not be surprising to Bush that despite endless increases of the National Institute of Health budget in the subsequent decades, “the war against disease” proved a quagmire.
Biology, nonetheless, made great strides in the following decades with the identification of DNA as the “transforming principle” that contains genetic information, cracking the genetic code, etc. It’s no accident, therefore, that Sarewitz is writing in the mid-90s, as returns on the government’s investment in basic research, especially in biology, seemed great until the 80s. And what happened in the 80s?
If we take Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s reconstruction of recent history as valid, it was essentially as if no one in government perceived how to wield the power of government in this field until Anthony Fauci came along. This may be an over-simplification, but it seems to match the timeline for when medicine and immunology became a top-down cult in which the state (effecting the will of pharmacological and military corporate guilds) was able to manage narrative via politics:
In fact, [Fauci] is a revolutionary—a very dangerous one, who slipped behind the gates when nobody understood what he was bringing in.
What was he bringing in? He was bringing in—as a trained Jesuit and committed Globalist—a new potion that would achieve any and all aims for Pharma and the powers he served. The potion was then known as Political Correctness—now called “woke.”
Fauci switched the entire linguistic system of American science, from classical “speak,” to woke “speak.” He brought in Cancel Culture, essentially, before anybody could imagine what it was. It was too perverse for genuine scientists to conceive of such a thing mixing with science, they could not believe it, or grasp it. Like a rape. It was incredibly confusing. That’s what I documented, on the ground, that horror and confusion among real scientists, as American science changes so radically before their eyes, to accommodate HIV.
Farber went on:
Let me elaborate a bit. Fauci’s reign begins in 1984, a year of total change. Everything changes, all of a sudden. Gallo is deployed with Margaret Heckler to make the declaration by US Government fiat that the “probable cause of AIDS” had been “found” and that it was some kind of trans-Atlantic fusion that looked “virus like” on the big screen, but was really neither a cogent virus nor a pathogen. The reason it “flew” to use [Nature Bio/Technology founding editor] Harvey Bialy’s word, was because everything had already changed. It was understood, without overt commands, that the “gay cancer” that had everybody in such a panic could not be assessed as complex toxic illness with a complex cause. The entire US media understood what to say and not say, and not only because of the allegiance to the shadow government, but because the era of classical science had ended. It ended that day. It would henceforth be a crime against decency to, for example, address anything that could be making gay men sick other than “the virus.”
That’s not “bad science.” That’s perfectly executed political correctness. And they are diametrically at odds, in the Biblical sense of good and evil.
What Fauci did was he made political correctness the new currency, of his funding empire. Peter Duesberg was not “wrong” about HIV and AIDS, he was politically incorrect about it and that was how Fauci banished him—sentenced him to funding and reputation death, as though he had done something really bad by dissenting against HIV theory. Stop and think how insane this is. An elite cancer virologist brought over from Germany’s Max Planck Institute whose credentials are so outstanding, who was well on his way to solving cancer’s genetics . . . felled suddenly by a fatwah, issued by this . . . Mufti? Who was he to issue a fatwah against America’s top cancer virologist? Well, he did. He blocked every federal research dollar to Duesberg after 1987, because Duesberg repudiated the woke ideology Fauci’s HIV empire, in a few paragraphs of a scientific paper that was about something else. He sustained the economic and reputational attack/vendetta for the next 3 decades. Without blinking. It’s really an unbelievable story. It would make Americans’ blood boil if they knew about it—because almost all have lost somebody in their family to cancer.
Fauci had, by 1987, when Duesberg wrote the Cancer Research paper that sealed his scientific fate, an apparatus that included mass media, psychological operations, public health—this octopus that just straight-up throttled the entire scientific tradition of Western civilization. Evidence based science and the discourse culture that goes with it— gone. That’s what he did. It’s no small feat. He destroyed American science by snuffing out its spirit, the spirit of open inquiry, proof and standards.
Again, this over-simplifies. Obviously, politics had already influenced Western science all along, as exemplified by the denigration of Lysenkoism (the theory itself), the taboo-ification of open questioning of racial genetics,and a million other examples. These taboos already set arbitrary limits on "open inquiry," but as they would inevitably tend to change with human mores, they were never permanent. Nor could they ever be all-encompassing, while Faucian Lysenkoism (the intentional restriction of the blind pursuit of truth for political ends) proved perfectly capable of the same, if needed.
In the end, the primary field where a state-enforced cult obedience to a narrative has superseded open debate, of course, is our myriad, wonderful, “safe and effective” vaccines.
ii. Why Oppositional Science Cannot Exist
It is not enough, of course, to simply explain why Western science has become a cult on the subject of vaccines. One must account for why there is no effective resistance.
It should not be hard to form a new intellectual movement based around simple, robust arguments against vaccination:
“Science,” because it is not actually a perfect knowledge-generation machine, has no way of revealing indirect negative externalities from vaccination. Especially as regards the unknown benefits and functions of viruses. These unknown benefits virtually must exist because we have co-evolved with viruses, as surely as we need the sun for Vitamin D, even if it gives us sunburns and cancer.
The benefits of vaccination are completely overblown. Life expectancy (which isn’t even a valid metric of human flourishing) shows no clear benefit from vaccines in developed countries.
Vaccination is a reckless evolutionary experiment on viruses and our immune system, which continually chases eradication only to tempt future plagues of human-adapted viruses exploding through populations that lack functional mucosal and cellular immunity.
These three arguments should form a foundation for investigating the officially suppressed question of vaccine harms, without the need to declare certain proof of those harms — as those harms are secondary to the argument against vaccination. In other words, there needn’t be a default to “Science’s” standards of knowledge-gaining. Anecdotes and observation can be just as useful as statistics. In the realm of statistics, research interpretation, etc., the opposition could value accuracy and reputation above mere narrative-reinforcement.
In this way, it would be a true opposition to “Science,” rather than simply a mirror of the state- and media-run cult. Which one is the anti-vaccine movement, I do not actually claim to know; so this is not an accusation. My focus and familiarity are still primarily with “Covid vaccine skeptical substack.”
And so, likewise, it should not have been hard to form a movement based around a simple, robust argument against the Covid vaccines:
The Covid vaccines are experimental gene therapy with unknowable long-term effects. The “Science” didn’t tell you that because it is a state- and media-run political cult.
Yet, that is not the argument the Covid vaccine skeptical substack has. Increasingly, I am inclined to conclude that it never will be what it has.
Instead, that argument is effectively sabotaged by a constant bombardment of false short-cut arguments surrounding negative efficacy. (Not that negative efficacy can’t happen, obviously, just that false and statistically deceptive arguments for negative efficacy are doomed to backfire by feeding an endless cycle of hype, disillusionment, repeat.) These arguments rise to the top as narrative-reinforcement is more rewarded than accuracy and reputation.
Yesterday, I realized why this must and will always happen.
And then I forgot while I was writing Part 1 of this post.
If you derived value from this post, please drop a few coins in your fact-barista’s tip jar.
Sarewitz, Daniel. Frontiers of Illusion. (Temple University Press, 1996.) Chapter 2.
Kennedy Jr, Robert F. The Real Anthony Fauci. (Skyhorse Publishing, 2021.) Chapter 3.
I feel that racial genetics vastly overestimates natural selection’s ability to influence certain genetic qualities. I am fine with “scientific” exploration of the topic, but feel that a lot of amateur thinking on the topic is just an attempt to science-ify “good old fashioned” racism.
Readers will object that digestibility of analysis and conclusions exerts a market force on corresponding ideas. I would counter that “digestibility” is itself an artifact of how often ideas are given voice. In other words, two conclusions can be equally easy to understand, except if the narrative-supporting one has been repeated and discussed 1,000 times, it will appear easier to understand (because it merely repeats something previously understood). Whereas, a counter-narrative conclusion, such as “The Worry Window is Not Real,” appears elaborate and confusing simply because it is “uphill” relative to where most readers have traveled.
In other other words, in a “marketplace of ideas,” whatever generates value in the market will rise to the top. The phrase as coined was intended to imply that “truth” — i.e., predicting future observations — is what generates value in the market. Humans don’t work this way, obviously. Nonetheless, if this were how it worked, then the ideas that predict future observations would be discussed and reinforced consistently enough that they wouldn’t seem that complicated at all; they would appear intuitive.