Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Science - Available For Sale Or Rent

The Lancet's notorious report of 900000000000 dead in Iraq was widely derided when it came out, and hasn't grown in stature any over the years. But it's still a surprise to see this.

Yep, well, liberals in 'scumbags' shocker, but think what this says about British science. There was already plenty objectionable about the Lancet study, including - but not limited to - the timing, immediately before the US presidential election, the way it bypassed the normal process of peer review and the basic methodology of extrapolating from a completely unrepresentative group of clusters, but liberals are sufficiently shameless to be able to cobble together some kind of defence to all that. The revelation that the authors were secretly being funded by the Kookfather is in a different league.

Alleged scientists took money from the Moonbat-in-Chief, then produced a garbage report supporting the left's position. More to the point, one of Britain's top medical journal enabled them. In so far as publication of a paper in a scientific journal is supposed to be the metric by which the quality of work is judged, prestigious publications printing absolute rubbish is the scientific equivalent of debasing the currency. Yet no one - at the the Lancet or elsewhere - had a problem with this.

Then again, few folks on the right appear bothered by this either. The mainstream right has swallowed whole the reductionist line that it's all about the economics. Well, no it isn't. This case is a perfect example of why fighting the culture war matters. Liberals managed to foist a bogus narrative on the public - and just think how many times you've seen the '650 000' dead figure trotted out - and that helped the left push their broader agenda. They're doing it right now with Gerbil Worsening. Again, that's helping the left sell the public on massively obtrusive state control. Meanwhile, large chunks of the right have either ceded the debate to the left, or even drank the kool aid themselves - and that's how we ended up with an allegedly conservative Conservative Party supporting massive tax hikes (but green ones!).

Pushing specific conservative policies in a wider culture dominated by the left is a fool's errand. Once you concede that consumption is bad or industry is evil, then the case for lower taxes or free markets is hobbled right from the start. That's what the Nu Tories don't understand. The culture war isn't just about the specifics of teaching five year old kids about felching and golden showers, it's about setting the terms of the debate. Is profit 'bad' ? Is one man's terrorist another man's freedom fighter ? Is torturing lawyers 'wrong' ? (Answers: no, no and yes - don't screw around, just shoot them on sight).

You can argue about tax policy all you want, but if the proverbial guy in the street associates the right with greed, selfishness and moustache-twirling millionaires doing down the common man, it's going to be an uphill struggle. Just as long as the British right follows its Maginot Line strategy of refusing to engage with whole areas of the national debate, then it too will find itself deservedly outflanked and irrelevant.

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