Jewish World Review March 6, 2014 / 4 Adar II, 5774
Science and reason vs. political correctness
By Victor Davis Hanson
JewishWorldReview.com | President Obama entered office promising to restore the sanctity of science. Instead, a fresh war against science, statistics and reason is being waged on behalf of politically correct politics.
After the Sandy Hook tragedy, the president attempted to convert national outrage into new gun-control legislation. Specifically, he focused on curtailing semi-automatic "assault" rifles. But there is no statistical evidence that such guns -- semi-automatic rifles that have mostly cosmetic changes to appear similar to banned military-style fully automatic assault weapons -- lead to increased gun-related crimes.
The promiscuous availability of illegal handguns does. They're used in the vast majority of all gun-related violent crime -- and in such cases they are often obtained illegally. Yet the day-to-day enforcement of existing handgun statutes is far more difficult than the widely publicized passing of new laws.
Late-term abortions used to be justified in part by an argument dating back to the 1970s that fetuses were not yet "human." But emerging science has allowed premature babies 5 months old or younger to survive outside the womb. Brain waves of fetuses can be monitored at just six weeks after conception. Such facts may be unwelcome to many, given the political controversy over abortion. Yet the idea that even small fetuses are not viable humans until birth is simply unscientific.
The president still talks of "settled science" in the global warming debate. He recently flew to
There is no scientific basis for the president's assertion about the drought. Periodic droughts are characteristic of
The administration has delayed construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, citing concern about climate change. Yet a recent
Science is rarely "settled." Instead, orthodoxy is constantly challenged. A theory survives not by politics, but only if it can offer the best logical explanations for a set of circumstances backed by hard statistical data.
Global warming that begat "climate change" is no exception. All the good politics in the world of blaming most bad weather on too much carbon dioxide cannot make it true if unquestioned climate data cannot support the notion of recent temperature increases being directly attributable to rising man-caused carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
In recent years, "settled science" with regard to the causes of peptic ulcers, the health benefits of Vitamin D, the need for annual mammograms and the prognostic value of the prostate-specific antigen test have all been turned upside down by dissident scientists offering new theories to interpret fresh data.
Yet for the new anti-empirical left, science becomes an ally only when refuting absurd religious theories that the earth is 5,000 years old. Otherwise, it can prove irrelevant when it does not necessarily support pet causes.
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Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution and Stanford University.
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