Which, last time I checked with the Central Committee of Academic Mind-Control, was my turf. I trust that Comrade Berube will reflect upon this, and on the cult of personality that seems to be growing around him, during the weekend self-criticism session.
Interloper or not, he does have some useful observations about the right relationship between the people’s scientists and the people’s government.
Berube’s observations are in response to Dean Esmay’s approving support of President George W. Bush’s “bold questioning of scientific authority”. Esmay says:
[B]ecause so much science these days is funded by the U.S. government (i.e. the taxpayers) it is outright obscene to suggest that scientists shouldn’t answer to our elected leaders. You do not have a right to demand billions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers, then slap a label on your chest and say, “We are scientists! You are not allowed to question us! Just give us your money and accept whatever we tell you!”
Well said, my boy! Those stuffed-shirt scientists think they know so much, and just like the media elite, they never stop to ask what real people think. And no one understands their barbaric jargon anyway! Just look at the contempt with which they treat ordinary folks who want their tax dollars to fund the Noonan Institute for Empathic Communication with Magic Dolphins, or the Very Scientific Discovery Institute for the Discovery that Adam and Eve Rode Dinosaurs to Church, or, indeed, the Esmay Center for Speculating that AIDS is Caused by Toxic, Rapidly-Reproducing Crystalline Organisms From Outer Space.
While everyone who has already been corrupted by Berube or a dangerous professor like him nods knowingly at this analysis, I figured I should take Esmay’s declamation and break it down for the as-yet uncorrupted:
- Scientists get a lot of their funding from government funding agencies (like NIH and NSF).
- Government funding agencies use public funds (tax dollars) to fund the science — NIH and NSF don’t have bake sales to support that science.
- So, scientists working with federal funds are working for the government.
- Elected officials are also working for the government.
- Unlike those scientists working for the government, the people voted for the elected officials.
- So, the elected officials, as the people’s representatives, can call those scientists working for the government on the carpet. Not only can they check to see that the people’s money has been spent to do the agreed upon science, they can demand the results of said science.
- It is not enough that the scientists working for the people share their results with the public that paid for this research (and its elected officials). These results must satisfy the people (customers) who paid for them.
- Thus, if elected representatives of the people indicate to the scientists whose work is paid for with public money that their scientific results are not to the people’s liking, those scientists have an obligation to take account of the answer the people would like to hear, and to rejigger their results accordingly.
- Of course, this means that for the scientists to proclaim, “These are the results! It does not matter that it’s not what you wanted to hear — this is the reality of things!” is for the scientists to misuse the people’s money and to disregard the people’s ultimate authority.
To boil it down to a flash card: The people are paying you for the answer the people want to hear.
I trust now that we’re all clear on how things stand.