We are unable to run the post we had scheduled for today, and I think it is important to explain why.
A potential contributor who works at a federal science facility had drafted a post which made a very interesting comparison between the technology that is used to understand features of the Anthropocene, and the technology that is used to develop, well, some very dangerous things. (I am being as indefinite as possible for reasons you will understand in a second.) The point of the post was to observe the paradox that our society’s most advanced tools can be used in good and bad ways. The post developed ideas discussed previously on this blog, to the effect that technological advance is not by itself moral advance, but must be guided by moral reflection.
But in the final stages of preparing the post, the person let me know that they could not go forward with it. For they came to be aware that, given the current political climate, demonstrated by a recent example, it would be professionally risky to publish ideas that could be construed as critical of the federal funder of their work.
I absolutely could not blame the person for withdrawing the post. But . . . WTF. I had certainly heard about political appointees quashing politically incorrect research (here’s just one example). But that was always in the realm of distant lore, outside my own direct experience.
Well here it is, folks. This has been a week of things that we might have thought were distant lore bursting into our actual lives in all their ugliness and horror. It seems like no weatherman is needed, these days . . . but, in the terms of this metaphor, I do hope for some anthropogenic climate change.
Don’t forget to vote.
4 thoughts on “The current climate”
This self-censorship is very troubling. It is not befitting a free and democratic society.
No kidding! And this is no Halloween prank, either . . . part of what was chilling was the sense that the person involved was confronted with the need to be a “team player,” where that seems to mean that the policies of those in authority are not even to be examined, let alone actively critiqued. Just the opposite of the values we think characterize a good society.
This is indeed quite troubling. Thanks for letting us know Zev. We have to turn this country around.
More on this front, from the Union of Concerned Scientists . . .