‘Die Zeit’ Slams Science Dogmatism, The ‘Delusion Of Total Controllability’…’Relapse Into Pre-Enlightenment’

A German weekly “Die Zeit” commentary criticizes the hostility directed at skeptical climatologists and epidemiologists.

“Where do we end up if a scientist’s degree of alarm becomes a litmus test for his scientific respectability?” Science activism represents “relapse into pre-enlightened thinking”. 

Dogmatists refusing to look through Galileo’s telescope. Image cropped here.

The false prophets

Over the recent years, we’ve seen a number of alarmist climate scientists demanding we believe that they are the beholders of the truth, and so policymakers need to heed their advice without question.

Science hubris

That hubris has gotten so dreadful that journalist has since felt compelled to pen a commentary appearing in the centre-left Die Zeit: “Don’t preach, do research instead!”

Rather than arrogantly declaring that the science is settled, scientists shine through by remaining doubtful, Dorn writes.

She warns of climate scientists having become “ideologists” in the climate debate, and that this is threatening to happen in epidemiology/virology as well.

Not acceptable to defame doubters

“There is a world of difference between an irrational dogmatist and a reasonable skeptic, Thea Dorn writes. “It is not acceptable to immediately defame anyone who expresses doubts about the reliability of epidemiological or climate models as a ‘climate’ or ‘corona denier'”.

In Germany there have been a number of renowned virologists who have recently come under fire for dissenting against the alarmist claims made by other virologists.

Dorn writes: “In contrast to religion, modern science owes its success to its openness to doubt, criticism and self-correction.”

Rahmstorf suggestion “absurd”

Thea Dorn particularly fires harsh criticism at Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf, alarmist scientist at the Potsdam Institute, for suggesting in an essay in Spiegel in 2019 that mankind somehow had control over the “earth system” but was losing that control, an assumption that Dorn called “absurd and highly questionable”.

Dorn slams Rahmstorf and Prof. Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber for mischaracterizing the earth’s complexity as a mere set a dominoes on the verge of toppling, and claiming they have the models to predict the future, and they and the alarmist virologists and immunologists should be heeded.

Be thankful for skeptics

On the role of skeptics, Dorn writes: “On the contrary: we can be thankful that – still? – there are enough scientists who reject the magic of the crystal ball and the delusion of total controllability.”

Science crusaders

Dorn also sharply criticizes the concept of the “activist scientist”, which Hans Joachim Schellnhuber calls himself. She comments: “It represents a relapse into pre-enlightened thinking. With a slogan like “Unite behind the Science!” one might swear crusaders to a holy mission.”

Dorn summarizes:

One of the most tragic acts that a democracy can commit is self-submission to the rigid rules of a clerical natural science for fear of submission to the power of nature.”

25 responses to “‘Die Zeit’ Slams Science Dogmatism, The ‘Delusion Of Total Controllability’…’Relapse Into Pre-Enlightenment’”

  1. bonbon

    The Article begins with Separation of Church and State, a key political concept. Quoting Weizsäcker on science as a religion seems to miss the point, though.
    The Augustinian concept of temporal and heavenly states in harmony but without empires and Nicolas of Cusa’s first concept of Constitutional reform are after all from towering figures of the Church.

    This blind spot goes further, missing Dr. John Schellnhuber’s royal Title, CBE, awarded at the Berlin Embassy by the Queen herself in 2004, who just happens to be head of a Church. And to miss Dr. John’s “”Laudato Si”, authored for the Pope’s Encyclical, is simply negligent.

    It sure looks like an attempt, as the Author does note, to roll back politics and history. Still, we must note clearly what is at play here, and what played then, to deal with the “great reset” planned by the Davos Crowd with keynote speaker none other than Prince Charles himself.

    This Great Reset, echoing Dr. John Schellnhuber’s Great Transformation, would be imposed upon us by a tiny very wealthy clique who view science a mere obstacle. No doubt the COVID chaos is calculated in.

    And after all the Crusades were a Royal junket, funded by Venice, the billionaires of that epoch, the Davos Crowd of the middle ages.

  2. John Reid

    Look up Trofim Lysenko the Soviet scientist supported by Stalin who nearly destroyed science in the USSR between 1930 and 1960. He made politics not evidence the criteria for scientific research. Millions may have died from starvation due to this one mans ignorance.

    1. John Knott

      Stalin and the scientists by Simon Ings makes a good read if you want to see how costly political science can be!

  3. bonbon

    As for Galileo pictured above, on receiving a copy of Kepler’s Book told a confidant he understood not one word. Kepler is the unique discoverer of universal gravity, which tells something about Galileo’s reputation and ardent admirers.

  4. Georg Thomas

    Hats off, Frau Dorn! Michael Moore, Michael Shellenberger, some on the left are finally awakening from their dogmatic slumber or better: rage. Much of what is good in the left tradition (i.e. classic social democracy) has been totally erased by or buried under the anti-civilisatory, socially cold emotionalism of today’s reactionary “left”. We urgently need the return of pluralism to Germany. To accomplish a wider spectrum of genuine political competition a realistic and genuinely progressive left (as we have known it in Germany until the 1980s) is indispensable.

    The freedom and progress of our thinking that the internet encourages has been largely ousted by a resurgence of tribalism (the opposite of democratic pluralism). People ignore the wide spectrum of views on the internet and choose intellectual self-impoverishment by restricting themselves to their favourite partisan sources, thus regressing into a cultural climate predating the enlightenment.

    The main reason why I welcome the Trump administration is that it preserves pluralism in America, a core feature of a free and open society that we have lost in our country.

  5. Jeremy Poynton

    Eisenhower’s farewell address in 1961 specifically warned against what is now happening.


    “He also expressed his concomitant concern for corruption of the scientific process as part of this centralization of funding in the Federal government, and vice-versa:

    Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

    In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocation, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet in holding scientific discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

    1. Newminster

      And as government becomes evermore the paymaster AND job security becomes evermore dependent not on the quality of research but on the ability to get yourself published and cited — as if either of those things were proof of scientific progress (which recent experience tells us they are not) — so the temptation to please your paymasters grows.

      Politicians claim (and no doubt believe) that they base their policies on the wishes and needs of their people and that scientific advisors can help them in that aim. It is not difficult for the wish to make policy based on evidence to be corrupted, by scientists and other advisors, into providing evidence based on policy!

  6. Jim

    Would there have been a crusades without a monarchy? Yes, the pope of that period had called for a crusades to free some of his taxbase from non-believers. Even then, war was used to create wealth of one, over another.
    The changes of science to a religion, is wrong. It presupposes that some are equal to all, and that it must be done in a rite. And that only one path is acceptable. Which blocks out all other voices. That is not learning, but religon. A dogma. Time and again, dogma has blocked learning, to the detrament of mankind.

  7. simon

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  9. Georg Thomas

    On the etymology of the word “technocracy”, Merriam-Wenbster has this to say:

    “In 1919 W. H. Smyth coined the term technocracy to mean basically “management of society by technical experts”. Technocracy grew into a movement during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when politicians and financial institutions were being blamed for the economic disaster, and fans of technocracy claimed that letting technical experts manage the country would be a great improvement.”

    1. Yonason

      “… fans of technocracy claimed that letting technical experts manage the country would be a great improvement.”


      Oh, yeah. That ought to work. Have Dilbert nerds running everything. What could go wrong?

      Thanks Georg!

      1. Georg Thomas

        Yonason, you’re welcome and thanks for the fun link.

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  14. tom0mason

    And the big pushers of climate dogmatism are the ‘social media’ outlets – You-Tube, Facebook, Twitter, etc,.

    They’re All Propagandist Now!

    You see in today’s propaganda wars, truth is a meaningless concept to the likes of Facebook,YouTube, twitter, etc. Only opinion matter!
    On the topic of climate the censors at Facebook etc., espouse the belief that only MODELLED science, i.e. computer generated faux science offering ‘existential’ threats to all life on the planet, is worthy science.
    Like Twitter censors, Google’s YouTube censors, Facebook censors instinctively know that consensus science of unreal and outrageous (computer modelled) theories always trump mere scientific observations to the contrary. In this upside-down cyber world the censors are named ‘fact checkers’, an attempt to give them an air of authority despite their obvious bias.

    Popular social media’s reason d’etre for being is not to allow the free and open flow of knowledge and ideas but is all about methods of controlling ideas and perceptions of truth via censoring and public scorn.
    As Adolf Schicklgruber explained in his seminal work ‘Mein Kampf’ for two (tedious) chapters, propaganda is a tool —

    Ever since I have been scrutinizing political events, I have taken a tremendous interest in propagandist activity. I saw that the Socialist-Marxist organizations mastered and applied this instrument with astounding skill.


    The second really decisive question was this: To whom should propaganda be addressed? To the scientifically trained intelligentsia or to the less educated masses?
    It must be addressed always and exclusively to the masses.
    What the intelligentsia – or those who today unfortunately often go by that name – what they need is not propaganda but scientific instruction. The content of propaganda is not science any more than the object represented in a poster is art. The art of the poster lies in the designer’s ability to attract the attention of the crowd by form and color.

    A similar situation prevails with what we today call propaganda.
    The function of propaganda does not lie in the scientific training of the individual, but in calling the masses’ attention to certain facts, processes, necessities, etc., whose significance is thus for the first time placed within their field of vision. The whole art consists in doing this so skillfully that everyone will be convinced that the fact is real, the process necessary, the necessity correct, etc.

    (from Volume One – A Reckoning Chapter VI: War Propaganda) And it is this very book and its ideas about how to lie convincingly and influence mass populations, that has helped to define the way these ‘social media’ companies, and many other transnational companies work.

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