Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tipping Points

Do you feel like the current systems have lost their organizing logics and are spinning, slow-motion out of control?

I find the current administrative attacks against government science (see discussion here) to be extraordinarily concerning, illustrating a nihilistic cynicism that matches the predatory and de-regulatory fervor occurring in finance (e.g., illustrated this week by efforts to throw out "the social aspects" of banking see here).

It is one thing to interrogate scientific consensus. It is a practice I engage in frequently in my research and pedagogy. Science is improved by critical interrogation and so is science-based policy. Science is corrupted by censorship.

Critical interrogation is a practice of reason espoused by the ancient Greeks and adopted as foundational to human reason and western enlightenment.

Suppression of inquiry and outright censorship of scientific data are an altogether different enterprise (a taste of which is described here in this article on Lysenko)

Just as suppression of information promises George Orwell's dystopic 1984, the Trump administration's policy to end the "social aspects" of banking is a paradigm shift back to the Gilded Age.

We are in a tipping point where the America that emerges over the next 4 years could capture the most ruthless, externalizing, and exploitative policies and ethos in American history and in our collective imagination.

Only human agency can prevent this outcome.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Majia: Paul Craig Roberts has opined that just about every public agency and institution in the United States is now corrupt. Outside the USA, around the planet over my lifetime since the second world war the USA is directly and via proxy responsible for murdered tens of millions of people, and maiming countless millions more. Obama and Hillary for example destroyed lovely Libya, killing and wounding hundreds of thousands, wrecking the country, turning it into hell on earth. That happened almost simultaneous with Fukushima.

    So let us be cautious in designating Trump as a deterioration in the quality of the leadership of the US.

    If we consider say the FDA, and its actual role in the US, we have in the words of a former FDA commissioner that the FDA's nominal role as scientifically grounded protector of public well being, for example by serving as a public watchdog over food and pharmaceutical, is not what the FDA really prioritizes: it has long been politicized and it above all protects the pharmaceutical juggernaut's agendas and cash flow. The CDC, the EPA , etc etc are all also associated with what the editor of the Lancet described as a darkness in the heart of science. The few public information radiation monitors in the US have long been manipulated, shut off, etc. etc.

    So I would urge caution in hasty Trump bashing. He clearly has a lot to learn and unlearn, but he also gives signs, extraordinarily rare in political leaders in this world, of being capable of independent thought processes, and learning, and making surprising and contentious decisions. He has undertaken the daunting task of trying to repair a society riddled with dysfunction. So at this point in my opinion we should give him more in the way of good advice, and constructive criticism, and less hostility.