In the Sway of the Narrative
Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 Farewell Address has been considered visionary in its warning against a “military-industrial complex” that would lead us into numerous, endless wars to the benefit of a few at great cost to the many. Often overlooked, however, was his immediately following warning against a takeover of government and academia by a similarly self-interested few:
The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present -- and is gravely to be regarded. While holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become captive of a scientific-technological elite.
The above is an apt description of the state of education, research that’s scientific-in-name-only, and public policy in 2021 America. It is the substrate in which the nation’s scientists are trained and must function. If they’re intellectually curious about things outside a politically approved narrative it’s despite, not because of, what they’ve been taught. They learn that investigating some things severely forecloses their options within the system that governs a scholastic or scientific career. “Scientists in training” emulate the attitudes, beliefs, and priorities that are reinforced by those administering their respective departments, colleges, and funding sources. If they do not demonstrate those prerequisite qualities they are denied entry into or progress within their desired career path. That’s why students and professors espousing conservative ideas are rare in academia. That’s why the majority of researchers in American academia today cover the ideological gamut all the way from “Woke” to “Woke+.” That’s why “peers” in “peer review” can be relied upon to keep inconvenient, dissenting, disconfirming research from ever seeing the light of day. That's why one of the Ivy League's formerly preeminent institutions, Harvard, can give rise to something as intellectually specious and venomous as Critical Race Theory. That's how newly minted Harvard physicians and their professors can voice with impunity their views on the propriety of treating minority before white patients, all while proclaiming they're against racism. That's why a Columbia University student who defected from North Korea can credibly state that Columbia is more fanatically dogmatic than the Hermit kingdom. That’s why people who challenge the orthodoxie du jour on college campuses are shouted down and frequently precipitate violent protests if they have the temerity to try to speak at one. All of this is also why the world’s “expert class” may never recover its erstwhile credibility after so poorly, if not malevolently, navigating the COVID situation.
The preceding are logical results of replacing education with indoctrination, reason with feelings, and science with politics. That’s why we are where we are. Those responsible are now in power and trying to consolidate their power indefinitely. Restricting the breadth of a nonapproved studies audience is the go-to tactic in protecting the narrative.
Research challenging politically desired outcomes will suffer a predictable fate. Upon becoming aware of it, Eisenhower’s “scientific-technological elite” will collectively ignore it in the hope that it won’t catch on. Should it begin drawing attention, it will be dismissed as unimportant, misguided, or fringe. If it remains on the scholarly radar, it’ll be adjudged biased, poorly designed, or otherwise flawed. If it’s still standing afterward the “popes of the new medieval church” will simply lie about it as befits their need.
Attention given competing theories about the SARS-CoV-2 virus’ origin provides a prime example. Initially, China said the U.S. was the source; even home-grown America-haters couldn’t make that pig fly. The “natural” position, that the virus came from a Wuhan wet-market, quickly followed, was heavily pushed by China and embraced by the World Health Organization (WHO). The “lab-leak” theory was concurrently proposed and holds that the virus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It was ignored by “mainstream” and social media. The blogosphere covered and sustained it. Then media influencers attacked anyone who brought it up. Social media censored any mention of it and subsequently banned users who continued to talk about it. “Mainstream” media figures then ridiculed it and those associated with it. The lab-leak theory nonetheless gained public traction in early 2020, precipitating more focused suppressive efforts. Drs. Anthony Fauci and Jeremy Farrar, directors of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the British Wellcome Trust, respectively, organized a teleconference of relevant officials. Afterward social media, health officials at all levels, and the WHO, in lockstep, actively suppressed any discussion of the lab-leak idea. Shortly thereafter two peer-approved articles appeared in the Lancet and Nature, both of which forcefully denigrated the possibility of the virus originating in a Wuhan lab. The “mainstream” media eagerly cited these publications in deriding any lab-leak talk. It was attacked on procedural, philosophical, racial, and economic grounds. President Trump’s advocacy of the lab-leak idea guaranteed that his political foes would act against it at every turn. Reflexively anti-Trump media maintained that only extremists and crackpots, like Trump and his supporters, could possibly take it seriously. It took a dogged and protracted FOIA request to obtain email exchanges between Fauci and other officials revealing that the Lancet's open letter had been drafted by Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth, which had received millions in funding from Fauci's NIAID. Those same emails disclosed that EcoHealth had redirected over a half-million dollars to the Wuhan Institute of Virology -- the same one from which the “natural” theory’s advocates maintained the virus could not possibly have originated. Of the five scientists who coauthored the Nature article, four had participated in the Fauci-Farrar teleconference. Everyone is supposed to accept that these are just coincidences, that such activities were not coordinated. Except that anyone competent in probability theory understands that they were. A high-level Chinese defector has recently provided persuasive evidence of a Chinese lab being the virus's probable source. Material from the same FOIA request strongly supports the lab-leak origin, so much so that media that had rabidly attacked it before have been forced to rein in their condemnation. Now implicated parties and the media are furiously back-filling, removing altogether, and altering the substance of their earlier statements on the lab-leak theory. Given its rising credibility, the lab-leak question now pivots on whether the virus was released deliberately or leaked by accident. Of course, the same media and experts who uncritically snarked the lab-leak theory proclaim that only extremists and crackpots could possibly believe its distribution was deliberate. The Narrative über alles.
Having mostly purged dissenting thought within academia and become dominant within the unelected bureaucratic groves of government, this “Pro-Regressive” mentality is now engaged in trying to consolidate itself as the dominant ethos in corporate America. If successful, dissenters will have even fewer private sector options to satisfy genuine intellectual curiosity. “Scientific” inquiry will have become as effectively controlled as in Orwell's direst predictions. Wherever that leads won’t be good -- except for the parties who benefit from shaping public policy in their favor, using the public's money to do it, against the public's interests. These are the same people who have always, without exception, risen to the top of collectivist societies as their masses sink into stagnation and misery. Every time. Without exception.
Trust Pro-Regressive “science” to take you where Your Betters want you to go. Every time. Without exception.
Image: Petri Damstén
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