The Nuclear Winter Religion

What do alien life, nuclear winter, passive smoking, and global warming all have in common? Well, according to Michael Crichton, they’re all religions [gamma].

His point relates to the process of science in general, and how it gets compromised by exposure to politics and other social “realities”. Very interesting stuff.

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.

Once you abandon strict adherence to what science tells us, once you start arranging the truth in a press conference, then anything is possible. In one context, maybe you will get some mobilization against nuclear war. But in another context, you get Lysenkoism. In another, you get Nazi euthanasia. The danger is always there, if you subvert science to political ends.

Parts of this remind me of this short article by Brian Eno, which introduced to me the word “propagenda”, and which happens to be stuck on my wall at home.

And while I’m writing, and since Lysenkoism was mentioned above, I’d just like to say how much I enjoyed Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Live of Ivan Denisovich, which I’ve devoured over the last few days – compelling and vivid stuff. Much more enjoyable, in fact, than Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, which after twenty years of anticipation, was a really dull disappointment. I guess I’ve been spoilt by the likes of Bruce Sterling for Jules Verne to hold much wonder for me. Shrug…