I spend a lot of time on this blog telling people how awesome science is. And it’s true. Science is awesome. It’s a process, the only process, by which we can learn about and learn to control the world around us. No other process has ever provided us with the knowledge that science has.
However robust the process of science is, scientists can still be… a little nuts. Scientists are people. It’s amusing to me when anti-science people quote scientists, as if, just because they are scientists, they are infallible experts (until the scientist says something they don’t want to hear). I frequently quote science papers, usually the conclusions or some exceptional data from those publications. I rarely quote scientists themselves. There’s no real point. Either the data speaks for itself or it doesn’t.
I have even said that the theory of evolution would still be perfectly valid and the best explanation for life on Earth if Adolph Hitler had discovered it instead of Charles Darwin. The science is sound, regardless of the grasp of reality of the person who did the science.
Some scientists are religious. Some believe in aliens. Some believe all kinds of wacky notions. It doesn’t make their science wrong (again, because their science work is evaluated independently from their personal opinions). This is one reason some people don’t like Dawkins and Coyne. They are great scientists, but they are also great atheists. And people forget to (or purposefully don’t) separate the science from the opinions of the scientist.
The reason I bring all this up is a particularly… interesting case of a scientist who has, at some point in the past, seems to have lost his ever loving mind.
In a statement issued on his blog, Gangolf Jobb has decided that, as of October 1, scientists in 8 European countries will not be allowed to use his treefinder software. Scientists in the USA were banned in February of this year.
The reasoning is… quite… well… I’ll let you be the judge.
The reason: I am no longer willing to support with my work the political system in Europe and Germany, of which the science system is part. There is no genuine democracy, and I disagree with almost all of the policies. In particular, I disagree with immigration policy. Immigration to my country harms me, it harms my family, it harms my people. Whoever invites or welcomes immigrants to Europe and Germany is my enemy. Immigration is the huge corporations’ interest, not peoples’ interest. I am not against helping refugees, but they would have to be kept strictly separated from us Europeans, for some limited time only until they return home, and not being integrated here as cheap workers and additional consumers. Immigration unnecessarily defers the collapse of capitalism, its final crisis. The earlier the system crashes, the more damage can be avoided. Possibly a civil war in Europe. Not to mention the loss of our European genetic and cultural heritage.
I’m not going to get into the whole immigration discussion. That’s not the point. The point is that this guy has created a useful tool (sadly, not updated for several years and there are plenty of alternatives available) that many scientists used for their work. But for a purely political reason (which doesn’t make any sense to me at all, though I suspect my friends who lean toward the Republican Party will agree) has decided to disallow his tool from being used.
When scientists in the US were banned, he posted this:
In particular, I dislike that the USA and the EU aggressively promote a way of life that conflicts with my own way of life. I dislike the flood of immigrants they caused to come here – come here to replace unprofitable Europeans like me.
After so many years of hard work on TREEFINDER, I have still not been paid any reward.
I want to stress that this license change is not against my colleagues in the USA, but against a small rich elite there that misuses the country’s power to rule the world.
The USA is our worst enemy.
It’s funny, in that complaining about the rich elites which contrive to rule the world (they must be doing a really crummy job), he is whining about not being paid.
No one goes into science to get rich. If he hasn’t figured that out by now, then he’s not the brightest crayon in the box.
People (mostly GOP supporters) complain that the discussion of climate change is a highly politicized science. That the politics of the discussion have surpassed the science of the discussion. That’s not true, but it’s what people say.
This is an example of what happens when the politics of a discussion surpass the science of a discussion. This person is saying that he can’t work because his ideas run counter to the “elite’s doctrine”. Here’s the thing though, it appears that his ideas are racist and anti-human. Honestly, from reading his website, he seems to be kind of a jerk.
But that wouldn’t matter as a scientist. IF he produced good science and valid conclusions (and finished his Ph.D.), then he could have a job as a scientist. But he appears to have decided that he can’t, in good conscience, work in the system. That’s fine too, but then he really doesn’t have the right to complain about not being a part of that system.
This reminds me of our dear idiot Kim Davis. She works within a system that forces her to follow the law and do her job regardless of her personal opinions of that job. At least Jobb has the personal integrity to not work in a job that goes against his beliefs.
Another situation that this reminds me of, is those creationists who constantly complain about the scientific elite oppressing them. Again, if they produced good science with valid conclusions, then there wouldn’t be a problem. The issue is that they have decided that their beliefs are more important than doing valid science or being honest. There are religious scientists who do good work. There are atheist scientists who do crappy work (or no work… look up PZ Myers recent publication record for example). There are religious scientists who do crappy work.
The point is that in the world of science, you have to actually do science. And you have to do it correctly. Creationists, in general, don’t do science correctly (or at all). The reason isn’t because they are dumb, but because they forget the primary principle of science, which is to let the evidence lead and not let one’s personal biases lead. Apparently this Jobb guy doesn’t do it either.
There was a case in the US not too long ago. I forget the guy’s name, but he was, by all accounts, a fairly decent programmer. He worked for JPL. The problem wasn’t his work. His original position had been phased out and they got him a new position. I recall that his skill set was falling behind and that’s why they let him go.
But the real issue was he let his beliefs affect his working environment. In other words, he badgered his coworkers with his beliefs. He was talked to about harassing his coworkers with religious materials. He let his beliefs interfere with his job. I think that if one’s beliefs are so important that harassing other people, on the job, when specifically told not to, is a thing, then one should have become a preacher instead of anything else. Similar results come from Ohio with John Freshwater, a creationist teacher who was not fired for teaching creationism (though he should have been), but for gross insubordination and purposefully injuring students.
When beliefs become more important than evidence, people lose sight of reality. And that harms everyone.