Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Politics Mediates Science: We Believe in Politics

And we don’t mean political science.
Yuval Levin

My own simplistic analogy: Imagine scientists who invent a flame-retardant suit. To test it, they grab ten people off the street, strip them naked, force them into the suits, and then into fires of varying degrees. The results are recorded and observed. The data would have scientific use but would plainly have been obtained through monstrous methods. Of course "we believe in science" (as though scientific truth were a matter of human will)--it’s the scientists who need controlling. And every society has controlled its scientists through moral teaching and ultimately through the laws. To do otherwise is to submit to the tyranny of science. Such reasoning is not beyond anyone’s "pay grade." The Bush Administration had one way of respecting science, and the Obama Administration is showing its nihilism in the way it is abdicating public responsibility in favor of the will of scientists.

It was rumored that Yuval was a runner-up to Bill Kristol as a regular New York Times columnist. With Bill’s leaving, I hope he captures the prize this time.

See of course Joe K’s post below .

Discussions - 9 Comments

Good post, Ken. It is in line with the post below where I point to Jennifer Roback Morse's take on the Octomom. The Octomom is one consequence of what happens when we are concerned only with what we can do as opposed to what we should do--or, when we allow what we should do to be regulated only by what we are pleased to call science.

Churchill spoke of "the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science." Obama however, says we owe Dr. Frankenstein an apology. Evidently, all 'science' is good--there is no such thing as "mad science".

Obama contradicts himself. While he supports cloning for manufacturing raw materials, he's against cloning that results in birth. Why? Isn't that "science", too?

And if a woman were impregnated with a clone, will he hold her down and give her a forced abortion after championing "choice"?

Oh no! Stem cells!!! This must mean that tomorrow scientists will be abducting homeless people, subjecting random people to tests, maybe even restarting the 'ol T-4 program - all in the name of science! Clearly, now there are no limitations on ANYTHING anymore!

Heh. I can't stop laughing. As usual, Ken Thomas somehow turns the already-ridiculous into sensationalist blog-fodder. Keep up the good work.

Ken has got the better of this one. The decision to fund stem cells is a political and moral rather than a scientific one. If scientists were working on a machine to speed up global warming in order to make more comfortable the lives of people who live in cold climates, don't like the snow, and yet don't want to move (for personal reasons), I doubt Obama would want to subsidize it. It is all science after all. But the second example would not be science in pursuit of his political (which might also be a desirable and moral) agenda. One can believe that the funding of embryo destroying stem cell research is desirable and moral, AND that Obama's pretense of putting science apart from politics is a trasparent and self-interested fraud. I believe one of those two things.

As for the NYT slot, Levin would be a good choice but I stick by my choice of Ramesh Ponnuru. Some criteria I think would make sense for the NYT to keep in mind (other than the obvious ones like quality of writing) if they want a conservative that will make noise for the NYT both with conservatives and who will provoke but not overly offend their open minded liberal readers (who are by no means all of their liberal readers):

1. Not a conservative who is trying to push conservatism in a more liberal direction. That would destroy your credibility with prospective conservative readers while reinforcing the prejudices of your own audience.

2. Make it a social conservative who can make a sophisticated case for social conservative policies and principles. Give social conservatives someone to read in the NYT and social liberals someone to mentally grapple with - which they may lack in their experiences. It might be to the benefit of both groups and the NYT's circulation. Find somebody who becomes a "must read" among social conservatives.

3.Find someone who is open to creative market approaches to contemporary problems.

4. Find someone who is open and interested in creative coalition building.

I think that only Ponnuru really stacks up on all four criteria but Levin is close and seems to be more of a policy wonk. But I really think point #2 is really the most important one. A social conservative really has little reason to read the NYT editorial page except to see what the other side is thinking and the social liberals in the house rarely get a mental workout. There is no reason to limit the search to political journalists. Robert P. George and Charles Kesler (I know they have their scholarly duties) would also be fine choices.

Actually, it's not homeless people they just cps kids away and test on them while they are in the foster care system. As for the random people and tests, look into it, they did it in the 1960's and now admit it (AIDS). As for the T4 I have read articles about the military investing in unmaned drones for the old sweep and clear missions. I doubt they will be humaniod robots, but that sort of thing is in development and the real hangup is designing the AI so that it will be able to tell friend from foe. Its almost laughable to think that it will not go horribly wrong. I think the problem with stem cells was that they had to be taken from one organism(a genetic way to pay peter by robbing paul) usually an aborted fetus. Even if they cure all diseases and make natural death a thing of the past what is the cost of doing this. An unborn child dies so an old man can live? It goes completely against any decent understanding of nature. Robbing the unborn of life to extend our own? If they can get the stem cells without the abortion part then mabye, otherwise it is pure evil. What is the real cost of doing this? I think we loose our humanity, death and aging are parts of life, by evading these do you not risk loosing other aspects of whatever humanity is. Using stem cells from an aborted fetus to extend one's life is not different in any way from a Vampire sucking the blood of children. I don't think it matters if the fetus was going to be aborted anyhow, it is still the same principle. An organ doner has a choice, an aborted fetus is murdered before it can choose.

Ramesh is also a fine choice--he has the added virtue of criticizing (besides transcending) conventional conservatism, though not to the extent of David Brooks.

Ignorance on parade here. Scientists need to be ‘controlled’ by Ken Thomas’ ‘moral teaching’ or else they are nihilists. I wonder if Mr. Thomas’ fear of scientific evil extends to the military, who spend millions each year coming up with new and very scientific ways of killing human beings.

Few have noticed that the last line of the executive order permitting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research also defunds federal funding of morally unobjectionable stem cell research. Does anyone in the Administration know or care that it is these alternative therapies that have actually produced cures? 65 ailments are being treated right now, today, by adult stem cell therapies.

My heart breaks for the poor paraplegic fellow singing Obama's praises in all the stories on Monday. He wants to walk again, and I sincerely hope he will. But no one has told him that people with spinal cord injuries have already walked again (with braces) or had feeling and bladder control restored with adult stem cell therapies. The father of stem cell science, James Thomson, abandoned ESCR last September in favor of research using adult stem cells. Their growth can be controlled and there's no immune system rejection: vastly more promising.

Yeah it's fine to go ahead and kill innocent American babies, but if our military kills an Arab terrorist it's always boo-hoo-hoo from liberal pantywaits like ren.

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