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Is America entering an era of “totalitarian science”? In the expanded paperback edition of Darwin Day in America (ISI Books, February 2015), political scientist John G. West describes the growing misuse of science to curtail basic freedoms, erode time-honored ethics, and circumvent democratic accountability. The paperback edition includes a brand new chapter titled “Scientism in the Age of Obama — and Beyond.”
“Our culture is witnessing the rise of what could be called totalitarian science — science so totalistic in its outlook that its defenders claim the right to remake every sphere of human life, from public policy and education to ethics and religion,” says West. “Science is a wonderful enterprise, but in the Obama era, it’s being twisted in ways that are unhealthy for both science and society.”
Developments discussed in the new edition of Darwin Day include:
- Human Experimentation in the Name of “Science.” Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) used thousands of premature infants as human guinea pigs, subjecting them to dangerous experiments with oxygen that could cause blindness and death. When the research was exposed, NIH Director Francis Collins waged a PR offensive to defend the research and stifle criticism.
- Government Secrecy in the Name of “Science.” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) repeatedly refused to disclose to Congress the scientific data the agency used to establish sweeping new pollution standards, claiming it was protecting the data “from those who are not qualified to analyze it.”
- Curtailing Free Speech in the Name of “Science.” A growing number of politicians, professors, and journalists are advocating the forcible suppression of dissenting views about climate change, evolution, and other science issues. In the words of one journalist, climate change skeptics “should face jail. They should face fines. They should face lawsuits.”
- Bashing Religion in the Name of “Science.” Atheist scientists are increasingly aggressive in evangelizing for their views in the media as well as the classroom. For example, last year’s Cosmos television series hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson — and introduced by President Obama — portrayed religion as the enemy of science and claimed to show how life developed due to “mindless” processes.
- Coercive Population Control in the Name of “Science.” Evolutionary zoologist Eric Pianka at the University of Texas has urged the reduction of the Earth’s human population by up to 90 percent and has called on government to confiscate all the earnings of any couple with more than two children.
Darwin Day in America tells the disturbing story of scientific expertise run amuck, exposing how an ideological interpretation of Darwinian biology and reductionist science have been used degrade American culture and fuel a relentless march from democracy to technocracy in criminal justice, welfare, business, education, and bioethics.
At the dawn of the last century, leading scientists and politicians giddily predicted that science — especially Darwinian biology — would supply solutions to all the intractable problems of American society, from crime to poverty to sexual maladjustment.
Instead, politics and culture were dehumanized as scientific experts in thrall to the assumptions of philosophical materialism began treating human beings as little more than animals or machines. In criminal justice, these experts denied the existence of free will and proposed replacing punishment with invasive “cures” such as the lobotomy.
In welfare, they proposed eliminating the poor by sterilizing those deemed biologically unfit.
In business, they urged the selection of workers based on racist theories of human evolution and the development of advertising methods to more effectively manipulate consumer behavior.
In sex education, they advocated creating a new sexual morality based on “normal mammalian behavior” without regard to longstanding ethical and religious imperatives.
Based on extensive research with primary sources and archival materials, John West’s captivating Darwin Day in America reveals how American politics and culture have been corrupted by a massive abuse of science. West’s narrative explores the far-reaching consequences for society when scientists and politicians deny the essential differences between human beings and the rest of nature.
It also exposes the disastrous results that ensue when experts claiming to speak for science turn out to be wrong. West pleads for the restoration of democratic accountability in an age of experts.
Dr. West is a Vice President of Discovery Institute in Seattle, where he is Associate Director of the Center for Science and Culture. Former chairman of the Department of Political Science at Seattle Pacific University, West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University.
He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including Darwin’s Conservatives: The Misguided Quest and The Magician’s Twin: C.S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society. He is also the writer/director of documentaries including The War on Humans and Privileged Species. In 2015, his documentary Biology of the Second Reich was named “Best Documentary Short” by the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood.