What took ’em so long? Put it another way. Given the manifest benefits of defining scientific “truth” by State fiat, why did government take so long in making Lysenkoism official policy?
Could it be that politicians aren’t that bright?
They’re bright enough, of course. They understand power, they know people, they can read a mood. But after years of addling their minds with modern law it’s doubtful even one out of five hundred could, say, define protein chirality, vorticity, or magnetic field lines, to stick solely with screwy objects.
Still, the theory of political dimwittedness, though tempting, doesn’t explain all the facts. Scientific illiteracy is an expected characteristic of politicians in late-stage democracies. But with the explosion of scientific knowledge, and its increasing specializations, all of us are in some sense illiterate. Is it therefore reasonable to require public servants to understand the complexities of e.g. the Coriolis force?
We’re missing something: let’s look deeper.
Here’s the headline “[Attorneys General] Announce Effort to Combat Climate Change.” Details:
The participating states are exploring working together on key climate change-related initiatives, such as ongoing and potential investigations into whether fossil fuel companies misled investors and the public on the impact of climate change on their businesses.
Reflect: whether fossil fuel companies misled…the public on the impact of climate change…
One can only mislead if there is an accepted truth. The government is saying it knows and defines what this truth is. Since the government is demonstrably wrong about this claim, and since the definition of Lysenkoism is a government mandating (and punishing departures from the mandate of) a fiction, error, or demonstrably wrong claim, these acts of the Attorneys General are Lysenkoism.
So much is obvious. But there are no surprises or clues in this or other passages in the article about why it took until now for the government to come to Lysenkoism. There is plenty of blunt, idiotic propaganda in the article. For instance, the Attorney General of Maryland said, “Climate changes poses an existential threat to Maryland and to the nation. I am proud to join with my colleagues across the country in this important collaboration…” Yet this is so asinine that it wouldn’t fool a New York Times reporter; the quote is so banal it could have been generated by computer algorithm.
The old standbys of greed, lust for power, and just-following-orders surely play a part in the explanation of why now (they fully explain the just-plain why). But because they are old standbys they are only necessary but far from sufficient conditions. Turpitude is ever with us.
I don’t want to entirely abandon the ignorance theory. Surely some of these politicians are ignorant, but it stretches the imagination to suppose that all are. Rising to this lofty level in the service of the Empire requires, for most, true intelligence. It may also be that some of these public servants believe what they’re saying, but again, after some forty years of observational evidence, it is preposterous to suppose all are True Believers.
This implies most are lying, but like greed etc., while mendacity explains the why, it does not explain the why now.
Full-blown Lysenkoism isn’t so easy to achieve, especially in an age where scientific knowledge can be had cheaply, as it were. The rival to the official government theory of global-warming-of-doom is well known. Yet the government still feels confident enough to ignore it, and those who hold it. Why?
The election plays in the now. Time is running out, and the government has at least a reasonable chance of switching official views on environmental questions. The AGs probably reason that if they put the squeeze on now they can win at least some victories, and if the government changes they won’t have lost much by trying. Then the government might not change, and so now is a good time because now is at the (new) beginning. Being first counts. The squeezees also know these facts, so it’s a good bet they go for the delay until November.
If it were only the election, then this matter is politics as usual. Yet it’s difficult to escape the foreboding that this is something new, that we have entered a different regime. This is certainly the boldest science fiction the government has embraced. It’s therefore rational to predict that this won’t be the last foray, that the government will move into new areas. What these will be depends on who the new president will be, but it’s worth making some guesses. Yours?