[Marxism] Freeman Dyson on scientific heretics and climate change

Bob Hopson bobhpsn at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 11 11:46:18 MDT 2007


> 
> However, Dyson has ample opportunity to defend real
> heretics before.  What
> did he say about the people who said the Bush
> administration and its
> Democratic collaborators were lying when they
> decided to start this war?

Dyson was a Cold War scientist -- he worked on the
Manhattan project, and on the secret nuclear rocket
stuff, etc.  To my knowledge he's never had much
interest in political heresy (e.g. opposing the
blacklisting of scientists during the McCarthy period)
or rocking the boat in the sense you describe, which
is of course more important.  He seems to be quite
politically timid.

His essay focuses solely on the scientific heresy of
going against the mainstream consensus, and of not
being afraid to work outside your specialty, which I
think are important points, especially as advice to
young scientists.  I think it's also very valuable in
the debates around global warming, in the sense that
it's important not to take scientific consensus as
dogma, which many people on the left still seem to do.

No doubt some will see him as just giving ammunition
to reactionaries, and that's quite possibly true. 
However, I find the idea that soil conservation could
be an active countermeasure to CO2 increases from
fossil fuel burning quite interesting, and could
possibly be a way of promoting better soil management,
organic farming, etc.

My experience studying science in an American
engineering school in the 80s reinforced the view that
us American tech types are mostly likely to be very
conservative, in both the white-U.S. nationalist
sense, but also in the broader sense of being narrowly
focused on one field, and trained rather dogmatically
in awe of whatever the current consensus is.  As a
student I would have found Dyson's stuff a real breath
of fresh air, along with the political stuff I was
reading at the time, which I found more interesting
than the lectures.  That's why I posted it here.


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