Researchers Fight Back Against ‘Ideological Capture’ of Modern Science
Jerry A. Coyne and Anna Krylov argue that narrative-based ideology now dominates research in the U.S. more pervasively than it did at the Soviet Union’s height.
For over eight months, I have been chronicling the “ideological capture” of our scientific institutions, which has led to the reduction or elimination of funding to scientists whose research challenged “settled science”; to the deplatforming scientists, engineers, and technical professionals who go against the narrative; and to the denial of tenure, promotions, or hiring because research doesn’t meet the currently approved world view.
Some articles that highlight the unintended and potentially destructive consequences to this ideological capture include:
- Study Concludes Nature’s 2020 Endorsement of Biden Hurt Trust in Science
- Former Reuters Science Writer Slams Climate Hysteria Promoted by Today’s Media
- Proof that Ideological Capture of Our Scientific Institutions Kills Innovation
- The Ideological Capture of Our Scientific Institutions Accelerates
- UN Official Says Quiet Part Out Loud: ‘We Own the Science and We Think That the World Should Know It’
Scientists are now adding the weight of their experience and observations to the fight against this trend. The Wall Street Journal recently published a truly insightful opinion piece by Dr. Jerry A. Coyne (professor emeritus of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago) and Dr. Anna Krylov (professor of chemistry at the University of Southern California).
In their article, entitled “The ‘Hurtful’ Idea of Scientific Merit,” Coyne and Krylov argue that narrative-based ideology now dominates research in the U.S. more pervasively than it did at the Soviet Union’s height.
Their evaluation was inspired by a quest to have a rigorous and detailed analysis that defended merit-based consideration in science.
Legal Insurrection readers will not be surprised that they found only one taker, the Journal of Controversial Ideas.
Merit isn’t much in vogue anywhere these days. We’ve seen this in the trend among scientists to judge scientific research by its adherence to dominant progressive orthodoxies and in the growing reluctance of our institutions to hire and fund scientists based on their ability to propose and conduct exciting projects. Our intent was to defend established and effective practices of judging science based on its merit alone.
Yet as we shopped our work to various scientific publications, we found no takers—except one. Evidently our ideas were politically unpalatable. It turns out the only place you can publish once-standard conclusions these days is in a journal committed to heterodoxy.
Coyne and Krylov delve into incursion of Marxist ideology into Soviet and Chinese agriculture in the mid-20th century, which had disastrous consequences for both nations. In their article, they argue the current situation is worse.
In some ways this new species of Lysenkoism is more pernicious than the old, because it affects all science—chemistry, physics, life sciences, medicine and math—not merely biology and agriculture. The government isn’t the only entity pushing it, either. “Progressive” scientists promote it, too, along with professional societies, funding agencies like the National Institutes of Health and Energy Department, scientific journals and university administrators.
Dewy-eyed progressives are rushing to place “indigenous ways of knowing” on par with hard science. For example, New Zealand’s government recently asserted traditional Maori mythology on equal to modern science. Coyne and Krylov blasted this approach.
They worked with over two dozen other science professionals who share their concerns.
But scientific research can’t and shouldn’t be conducted via a process that gives a low priority to science itself. This is why we wrote our paper, which was co-authored by 27 others, making for a group as diverse as you can imagine. We had men and women of various ages, ethnicities, countries of origin, political affiliations and career stages, including faculty from community colleges and top research universities, as well as two Nobel laureates.
We provided an in-depth analysis of the clash between liberal epistemology and postmodernist philosophies. We documented the continuing efforts to elevate social justice over scientific rigor, and warned of the consequences of taking an ideological approach to research….
We are already experiencing many consequences related to narrative-based science, in the form of a host of social and health problems that stem from the ill-considered response to covid pandemic. The rush to impose a host of agricultural and energy polices based on “climate crisis” is most likely going to lead to hunger and unrest. The destruction of the mental health, quality of life, and reproductive capabilities of young men and women via distorted medical science dogma is tragic.
Despite the vast qualifications of the authors of this piece, the high quality if their data, and the logic of their arguments, they were turned down for publication, dismissed as “hurtful”.
But this was too much, even “downright hurtful,” as one editor wrote to us. Another informed us that “the concept of merit . . . has been widely and legitimately attacked as hollow.”
I would like to give Coyne and Krylov a big thank you for their important work. Hopefully, it is not too late to reverse this disgraceful trend before the human, economic, and societal damage is irreversible.
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I wish the authors luck.
We are not yet under Stalin’s rule, or Mao’s.
If the dictator determined a bunch of people were in the wrong field, some got to change fields. The rest got the Gulag or the Laogai. Or a bullet in the back of the head.
If the dictator determined a bunch of people were in the right field but had the wrong views (e.g., agronomists who disagreed with Comrade Lysenko). the options were reduced to labor camp or execution,
Our rulers haven’t rolled out the labor camps or the killing fields. Yet. Don’t they want labor camps or killing fields? The only way to prevent those outcomes is to stop them. Now.
“Our rulers haven’t rolled out the labor camps or the killing fields. Yet.”
Are we sure about that? Maybe the intent of the effort to modify the covid progenitor was to make something that would thin the herd … wipe out useless mouths … alter the demographics? Maybe it just … fortunately … it escaped from the lab before it was ready? But work is continuing. With them having the DNA of nearly everyone, maybe the next few viruses will be very targeted?
I find ironic that Jerry Coyne, a Darwinist is complaining about an ideological capture of science. I don’t know if Darwinists were the first to use cancel methods against non-Darwinists, but use them the Darwinists did. Anyone who didn’t tow the Darwinist line was canceled, or as Ben Stein put it, expelled. Read William Dembski, Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer and others like them to get a flavor of what I’m talking about. Now that Coyne is facing something similar, he’s complaining. I’m crying crocodile tears for him. Of course, the whole cancel culture is simply a replay of Mao’s cultural revolution in America and must be fought tooth and nail everywhere it rears its ugly head, and not just in science, or it will destroy American exceptionalism.
I attended a lecture by Behe at Cornell in which he discussed the irreducible complexity of the blood clotting mechanism. In the Q/A period after the lecture, the Cornell Biology Department faculty and grad students didn’t argue with his results, they spent an hour calling him names.
Too bad Coyne didn’t share the stage with him. You would have witnessed a proper debate.
Another Behe “apostasy” is that a major building block of the Darwinian hypothesis does not work the way Darwinists think it does, and that is random mutation. According to Behe all that mutation can do is to degrade the species, either by killing the organism straight away (think cancer) or by passing a defect on to the next generation.
I neglected to include climate scientists who, like Darwinists, cancel scientists who don’t accept the hypothesis that CO2 is the source of all global warming. Maybe Coyne should turn his ire on them as well. (BTW I must have hit a sore spot for some about my comments about Darwinists, judging by the down votes.)
Distribution of the paper via the based blogosphere is a distinct option. Of course, the writers won’t get any “good boy points” on their scholarly publications records, but I believe we can all see that those aren’t in the cards no matter what happens to the paper. At least the truth will get out.
“I have been chronicling the “ideological capture” of our scientific institutions, which has led to the reduction or elimination of funding to scientists whose research challenged “settled science”; to the deplatforming scientists, engineers, and technical professionals who go against the narrative; and to the denial of tenure, promotions, or hiring because research doesn’t meet the currently approved world view.”
Too bad the author didn’t broaden his “chronicling” a little. Because the same things have been going on in astrophysics and fusion research for decades, where many, many billions of dollars has been wasted. Where nonsense has been trumping good science, probably leading to many lost opportunities for advancing civilization. Who knows, we might not even have an energy crisis now if people with agendas other than good science weren’t running the show.
Too much surplus. Lysenkoism only crashed because The Soviet Union didn’t have enough surplus production to soak up doing things that wrongly.
Without the consequences of wrong understanding landing on someone, there’s no corrective feedback. “The Science” becomes entirely political expediency. Hopefully there will be a real world example of something like this before too long…
“Ideological capture” is just a form of what Thomas Kuhn described in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. When scratched hard enough, Kuhn did admit that the resistance to better understanding he had in mind is all about those evil reactionaries holding back the unpoven but obviously correct NewThink consensus.
Unfortunately for him, principles don’t care about your politics — the cultural capture he described is much on display with academy cool kids being progressives.
Last example is String Theory in physics — the capture of what should be a most empirical field, that full of sound and fury, has signified nothing, tho strutting through the academy for a couple generations.
Great work Leslie Eastman, and Coyne and Krylov primarily. This subject has sorely needed a spotlight on it for the last couple of decades, and may the glare of it be merciless.