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Freedom of scientific speech

Written by Sherwin, published on March 26, 2010

Science and Invention Nov 1928

One problem I have with so many conservatives and libertarians is their attachment to their untested (and often inconsistent) theories and ideas. To be fair, we’re all probably a little challenged by science and research that refutes our own beliefs. But when I followed a link to this article by the Guardian,1 I suddenly had some recurring bad thoughts about folks that are science-challenged:

Canada’s climate researchers are being muzzled, their funding slashed, research stations closed, findings ignored and advice on the critical issue of the century unsought by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government…

Harper is the guy that once claimed that global warming was nothing but a socialist conspiracy after all. And Harper is from Calgary. But, in defense of Calgary, there are many scientists that live there and there are even a few that don’t work for Big Oil. I guess that’s why Harper decided to just muzzle them. A scientist from Edmonton, writing in the Ottawa Citizen, said this:

It is clear that muzzling under the Harper government is the most oppressive in the history of federal government science. Incredibly, some of the most eminent scientists in Canada have been forbidden to speak publicly on scientific matters where they are recognized as world experts, ranging from climate change to pollution of lakes and rivers. Instead, the public is referred to media-savvy spin doctors, who usually know very little about the science of these topics, spouting the party line.

The report that got this all started was written by the Climate Action Network and can be found here. There is much that is interesting in this report and one detail that I found particularly  interesting was the fact that Harper has appointed climate change skeptics to the boards of two super important granting bodies: NSERC and CFI. So just to explain how this works, students in Universities that are working at the graduate level in the sciences are funded by granting agencies like NSERC. In fact, I believe the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) is responsible for the funding of all of the PhD scientists I know. And NSERC has the difficult position of selecting and denying applications for funding. Not everyone’s research gets funded and not all research gets the green light. So the significance of Harper’s appointments to the board, is very very real.

One of these appointments is Mark Mullins. Mark Mullins was the Executive Director of the Fraser Institute for four years.

Another one of the appointments (to CFI) was John Weissenberger. He’s a geologist from Calgary who worked in oil and gas for twenty years. He’s actually a friend of the evil-overlord himself and was a chief of staff for the evil-overlord’s government. The author of the Climate Action Network report, Andrew Cuddy, took the time to include a quote by John Weissenberger and I’ll sign off by quoting the quote. But first, you should know that Weissenberger didn’t write the following soundbite alone. He was joined by George Koch, who I’m assuming is from the Koch family of Koch Oil. The Koch family are all pious followers of Ayn Rand even, I believe, requiring that their employees and executives read Rand’s books. The Koch’s, in short, are libertarians and conservatives.

“[T]he great weakening of the Stalinist intellectual monument of global warming theory continues in regular increments.” — George Koch (from a blog published jointly with Weissenberger), September 13, 2008

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