Hans von Storch’s Klimazwiebel here posted an insightful essay by University of Bielefeld sociologist Prof. Peter Weingart titled (roughly translated): “The Limits of Science Advising Policy – Forget About the Opportunities“. Weingart cautions us against allowing an elite class of scientists to shape our public policy.The essay first appeared in Gegenworte – Hefte für den Disput über Wissen (Counterword – Magazine for the Dispute over Science).
What role should scientists have in setting policy for societies? Weingart reminds us that if “2 heads are better than one” then millions of heads are certainly better than a small group of heads. The will of the masses may not produce optimum results, but history shows us, profoundly, that societies run by a few elitists are far worse.
Today, worldwide, and especially in Germany, a handful of cocksure climate scientists, believing to be all-knowing, are attempting to tell society what behaviour is acceptable and insist their recommendations are “without alternative, that there are no other choices”. We’ve heard that before in history, too – and with tragic consequences.
“The democratic system has to do what it is told, and if it doesn’t, then the people are too stupid or just not educated enough,” Weingart sums up the attitude of these climate scientists, who purport to have a “masterplan” that will lead us to paradise-like conditions.
In Weingart’s view, climate science has abused its position in going far beyond policy advising. They now insist that the rest of the world dance to its tune. Weingart cites examples of humans already being forced to alter their behaviour: carbon trading, changing light bulbs, basing purchasing decisions on climate impact, to name a few.
If you can read German, then the essay is worth reading. I’ve translated HIS SUMMARY:
The lesson is quite clear. Science-based politics, or ‘society advising’ is ambivalent. Premature claims of absolute knowledge or political consequences that are without alternative, stemming from scientific insights and findings, are not scientifically justifiable and belong in the category of political propaganda. Scientists cannot be denied their civic right to be politically active, but when they do it in the name of science, then they abuse their credibility and the authority that it is based on. The credibility of science is neither based on exaggerated catastrophe warnings, nor on the promises of paradise-like futures. Rather it is based more on the demonstration of the difficulty of acquiring knowledge, the discussion of conflicting theories, and the interpretation of observations and the disclosure of uncertainties. Therein lie the possibilities, as well as the limitations of their power to convince society and politicians. Above all in democratic societies, scientists are especially challenged not to succumb to the temptation of assuming that their special knowledge sufficiently legitimises them exercising political influence.”
And my summary: Prof. Weingart should be advising politicians.
Quite entertaining is the hissy reaction of a warmist (Georg Hoffmann) in the reader comments, who unwittingly confirms why it is not a good idea to allow scientists (like himself) to have a disproportionate say in shaping public society.