Physics, Earth & Space Icon Physics, Earth & Space

Awesome Recovery for Atheist Lawrence Krauss

Photo: Striped skunk, by USFWS Mountain-Prairie, via Flickr (cropped).

Congrats to the PR team of Chutzpah, Cheek, and Insolence who scored big with the work they appear to have done for atheist Lawrence Krauss. The cosmologist has now emerged, earlier than anticipated, from under a major #MeToo cloud that resulted in his forced departure from his university and temporary disappearance from a role as a public figure. He “retired” from Arizona State in May of last year.

Time flies. Here he is today in the Wall Street Journal decrying, “The Ideological Corruption of Science.”

Fascinating. According to the thesaurus, some antonyms of “corruption” include decency, goodness, honesty, honor, and purity. That’s right, Lawrence Krauss of all people is now lecturing us about the importance of…decency, goodness, honesty, honor, and purity. This is the same Krauss who palled around with the late Jeffrey Epstein of blessed memory, opining that Epstein was innocent based on scientific considerations. He cited “empirical evidence” on the point:

As a scientist I always judge things on empirical evidence and he always has women ages 19 to 23 around him, but I’ve never seen anything else, so as a scientist, my presumption is that whatever the problems were I would believe him over other people.

Besides his science-based defense, Dr. Krauss testified to feeling elevated by the relationship with his buddy Mr. Epstein:

I don’t feel tarnished in any way by my relationship with Jeffrey; I feel raised by it.

Hard to Disagree

As to the Journal article, it’s hard to disagree with his conclusion about politicized science and censorship. As I’m not the first to have pointed out, it’s been a really bad year for science. Between fawning over BLM and the spinning color wheel of contradictions that expert scientific opinion has presented from the start on COVID-19, reasonable laypeople greet what scientists say with increasing skepticism if not mockery. On this score, last year wasn’t so good either, with the tale of Jeffrey Epstein laying bare scientific corruption as never before, what Michael Egnor summarized here as the “silence of the scientists.”

So, as bizarre as it is to see myself type these words, Krauss is right. We’ve been saying much the same for years:

As ideological encroachment corrupts scientific institutions, one might wonder why more scientists aren’t defending the hard sciences from this intrusion. The answer is that many academics are afraid, and for good reason. They are hesitant to disagree with scientific leadership groups, and they see what has happened to scientists who do. They see how researchers lose funding if they can’t justify how their research programs will explicitly combat claimed systemic racism or sexism, a requirement for scientific proposals now being applied by granting agencies.

Whenever science has been corrupted by falling prey to ideology, scientific progress suffers. This was the case in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union — and in the U.S. in the 19th century when racist views dominated biology, and during the McCarthy era, when prominent scientists like Robert Oppenheimer were ostracized for their political views. To stem the slide, scientific leaders, scientific societies and senior academic administrators must publicly stand up not only for free speech in science, but for quality, independent of political doctrine and divorced from the demands of political factions.

Skunked by Krauss

But hold on, before his abrupt retirement and equally abrupt reemergence as a defender of free speech, silencing opponents with ideological bullying was among Krauss’s specialties. The bio with his Journal article indicates he’s got a new book coming out on The Physics of Climate Change. Interesting — Krauss is among those who called for climate skeptics to be tarred as science “deniers,” a formulation applied many times over to proponents of intelligent design and intended, obviously, to create an association with Holocaust deniers. The whole point of such an exercise is to deny skeptics, whether on biological origins or on climate change, an opportunity to address the public. If “many academics are afraid” of speaking out, as Krauss correctly notes, that’s because they fear being sprayed with skunk juice by the likes of Lawrence Krauss.

When Eric Metaxas published a wildly popular Christmas Day op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (“Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God“), Krauss responded with ad hominems. Metaxas, a bestselling historical biographer among other distinctions, never claimed to be a scientist. But Krauss fumed that the article was “written not by a scientist but a religious writer with an agenda,” “a Christian apologist…masquerad[ing] as a scientist.”

Smearing Steve Meyer

When he met intelligent design advocate Stephen Meyer in a debate in Toronto, Krauss offered a notable display of viciousness and dishonesty, falsely smearing the philosopher of science and Discovery Institute together as a “rather moribund right-wing creationist group,” seeking to push ID into public schools. Thoroughly inane, he summarized our position as, “Science is bad,” “Science is evil.”

Krauss’s own signature atheistic argument asserts the emergence of the universe from nothing. How do you get something from nothing? Well, as he explained on the radio to Dennis Prager, “The word ‘nothing’ means a lot of different things to people.” It does? As Prager commented to Steve Meyer in another radio interview later, “That’s when I gave up.”

So there’s a bit of irony in Krauss — Epstein apologist, smear artist, and specialist in word games — reentering the public arena as a champion of truth, openness, goodness, and purity. Only a little richer would be Jeffrey Epstein, had he not met an untimely end, resurrecting himself as a defender of child welfare.