Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
As just reported here on WUWT, the National Academies of Science, of Engineering, and of Medicine recently stated that with Google funding, they are going to decide what is scientific “misinformation”. This is a terrifying possibility, because if Google decides your scientific claims are “misinformation”, your entire life’s work could easily disappear from public access and view. In response, I’ve sent the following email to all the NAS/NAE/NAM email addresses I could find … which is not many …
To: National Academies of Science <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org. email@example.com. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subject: Please forward to your Presidents
Dear friends, your organizations recently put out this statement:
Statement by NAS, NAE, and NAM Presidents on Effort to Counter Online Misinformation
We are pleased to announce that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are exploring ways to mobilize our expertise to counter misinformation on the web related to science, engineering, and health. Part of the mission of the National Academies has always been to help ensure that public discourse is informed by the best available evidence. To that end, we are convening Academy members to discuss ways by which we could help verify the integrity and accuracy of content in these fields in a manner that is consistent with our standards for objective, trustworthy, evidence-based information; this exploratory phase will be supported by a grant from Google. We are excited to pursue an effort that aligns with our fundamental principles and that we believe is critically important at a time when misinformation is a threat to sound decision-making and an informed citizenry.
I am shocked and saddened that your organizations would use your authority to try to quash legitimate scientific dissent in this underhanded fashion. Richard Feynman famously said “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts” … and you guys are the ones now claiming to be experts. Why should we trust you in the slightest to make huge scientific decisions when Richard Feynman says you are ignorant? Whatever happened to “Nullius In Verba”?
Next, I have to ask, what does “misinformation” mean on your planet?
Unfortunately, in practice it will most likely mean “Scientific claims that we, the anointed and unquestionable experts, don’t like.”
This is as anti-scientific a stance as I can imagine. You have no authority to decide what is valid science and what is misinformation. That is arrogant hubris of the worst kind. Your three Presidents and their offsiders should be deeply ashamed to be involved with this in any form.
Of course, y’all don’t publish the emails of your officers, or you’ve hidden them so well that my extensive search couldn’t find them … and if I were involved in this kind of scientific malfeasance I wouldn’t want my email address out there either …
So if you could please forward this email to the following people, you would be doing a very big scientific public service. I’m sorry to involve you but when your officials hide out, I’m forced to try to contact them by other means. Here’s who this email is really addressed to:
National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
President: Marcia McNutt
Executive Officer: Bruce B. Darling
Executive Director: Kenneth R. Fulton
National Academy of Engineering (NAE)
President: C. D. Mote Jr.
Executive Officer: Alton D. Romig, Jr.
National Academy of Medicine (NAM)
President: Victor J. Dzau
Executive Officer: J. Michael McGinnis
Claiming that scientific organizations should be able to define “misinformation” is a tragic attempt to illegitimately and prematurely end scientific debate and discussion. It is top-down scientific totalitarianism of the finest Russian variety, where the Commissariat decided what science was good and what science was never to see the light of day.
Science proceeds by transparency and public discussion, not by some anti-scientific Star Chamber declaring someone’s unusual or unpopular scientific ideas to be “misinformation”. You are starting down a politically-driven path which will eventually destroy your scientific reputation. I implore you to abandon this ill-founded idea before your personal and organizational reputations are swirling around the porcelain bowl …
In hopes that you have the scientific integrity to speedily abjure such scientific totalitarianism, I remain,
Sincerely and sadly yours,
So that’s my email, it went out today, and here’s the dystopic future we may face if these heedless scientific autocrats get their way …
We need to fight this. Every honest scientist everywhere on the planet needs to realize that depending on who is defining “misinformation” this week, their life’s work could be disappeared by Google, classed as “misinformation” so it would never appear in a Google search and would be banned from Facebook … is this truly what we want science to sink to, blatant scientific censorship by NAS, NAE, NAM, and Google?
Finally, if you think this is a dangerous move, I ask you to take action. Add an email to mine, pick up the phone and call someone, write a letter to the NAS or to the Editor, do something, anything to try to slow this runaway train.
Because having Google and the NAS in charge of deciding whose scientific opinions should be “disappeared” in the best Soviet fashion is a view of a future I never want to see … and it may very possibly happen unless we actively oppose it.
My best to everyone, take action,