Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Elite science

So much for standing on one another's shoulders and science being a community exercise. It seems that there is real panic among the "elite," so much so that it is becoming important to make sure that everyone understands that all the good things we have in life are thanks to the hard work of the precious few who really are intrinsically better.  Here is the latest salvo in this direction. Scientists are under siege for being elitist. The hoards are at the gate.

I would feel a lot better about this blather were it not so evidently so self-serving. Here scientists are being pulled into service to protect the status of experts with dubious expertise.  Economists are all aflutter because nobody shows them any respect anymore. I cannot imagine why, can you? Experts in politics, polling, terrorism and more are just being dissed endlessly. Oh my!

Sadly, some of this also hits real science. Yes there is global warming and yes it is caused by human burning fossil fuels. However, when one looks at what is discrediting this kind of research, it is not the masses rising up with pitchforks to pillory scientists. It is large powerful groups (indeed elite organizations) organized to with the agnotological agenda of spreading doubt, confusion and ignorance.

Elitism is the view that the betters ought to rule. It really has no place in science. Ideally, it's ideas that should lead. Who has the good ideas changes and the fact that someone had one good idea does not imply that that person's current idea is good as well. Ideally, things should be organized so that influence follows the good ideas. Nobody knows how to make this happen exactly. But that is the ideal. What we don't want is deference. That is terrible. But that's what elites want: deference. And the fact that science and scientists are being recruited to the cause of elitism by pundits indicates that some people must really feel that the world is shaking beneath them. Something to celebrate, IMO.


  1. It's a weird article, actually – doesn't establish, or try to establish, that science is, or should be, elitist.

  2. It is interesting how the word 'elite' got picked up by the right over the last year, and how it's been used since.