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March 19, 2012

Freedom and Reality

A USA Today column by Alex Berezow explores some similarities between libertarianism and science.  He can make that case because, for one thing, he holds a Ph.D. in microbiology.  

Let me explain. When I was in graduate school, my research mentor and I were discussing data we had generated and how they might contradict the scientific narrative we were developing. He wisely instructed me that I'd never get in trouble telling the truth. His point was obvious: Let the data speak for itself. Massaging data to make them fit the story we would like to tell is not honest, nor is it good science.

That is good advice, not just for science but also for politics. Yet few politicians follow it. Distorting data to fit political narratives has become the norm. Indeed, the struggle between Team Red and Team Blue has become little more than a giant cherry-picking contest designed to score political points rather than promoting sound policy rooted in reality.

Heavy dose of reality

Our political system could use a hefty dose of my mentor's admonition. Today, libertarianism is the best vehicle to deliver the medicine. The scientific enterprise rests on simple premises: Scientists should have the freedom to investigate whatever they choose. The universe is ultimately knowable and logical. The business of science should be to promote reality, not ideology. This formula has proved successful.

By speaking of science and libertarianism, Mr. Berezow accentuates something so characteristic of liberals, or progressives if you prefer.   They don't care much for either freedom or reality.  Just think about the Global Warmists for a moment.  They've done everything in their power to intimidate, harass, belittle, and threaten the livelihood of anybody who would dare to promote a climate theory that disagrees with the "consensus".  So much for freedom. 

And as for reality, the Warmists themselves lamented the absence of warming in the last fifteen years, and their reaction to it was a decision to "hide the decline." 

This is all because the goal of progressivism is to concentrate power in the hands of progressives.  There's no other aim.  Global warming, income inequality, health care reform, pick an issue.  Each one is crafted in such a way that the apparent or preferred solution involves handing over more authority and power to government.  It doesn't matter that climate science is far from settled. It doesn't matter that income equality is impossible to achieve.  It doesn't matter that government run health care worsens the state of health care.  None of that matters.  Only the solution matters.  More government and more progressives in government.  It's the progressive solution for everything.

Freedom and reality are the enemies of progressives, but they are at the core of libertarianism.

College students, traditionally liberal, are among Paul's biggest fans. The 76-year-old Texas congressman himself is a devout Baptist and medical doctor. Agnostic science writer Michael Shermer and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson are both libertarians. What these disparate individuals have in common is a rejection of traditional ideology in favor of freedom and reality.

Thus, the resurgence in libertarian ideology is not only understandable but also desirable. Its support derives from something neither political party possesses: a youthful, widening and intellectually diverse support base.

To be sure, libertarianism doesn't have all the right answers and Paul isn't going to be the Republican nominee for president.

Like science, libertarianism is a search for answers.  On the other hand, for about a century now the progressive movement has consistently maintained that it has all the answers. All we have to do is let them run things.  Everything.  No thanks.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 09:14 PM | Permalink


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When you say "warmists", do you infer the Henny Penny "OMG The sky is falling...you must do as I say" dupes that FAILED the children's stories comprehension test,
the "selective" Socialism/Fascism (by any other name) "The Gub'mint" (you know..."they")..have to take your money and give it to me because...(women, children, science,equality of outcome, whatever)" folks, or both?

Posted by: CaptDMO | Mar 20, 2012 4:33:48 PM

Actually, the warmists I had in mind are the ones at East Anglia and Penn who gamed the temperature numbers, tried to redefine "peer review", and did their best to block the publication of articles that disagreed with their theories of global warming.

Posted by: Tom Bowler | Mar 21, 2012 9:10:49 AM