The Galileo Syndrome

In 1633, the astronomer Galileo was sentenced to house arrest by the Catholic Church for promoting his belief in Copernicus’ theory of heliocentrism in a politically-incorrect manner.

The Catholic Church has now reconciled with science, but not so science with itself.

Consider the attacks on scientists who dare to express non-PC views.

Today’s Washington Times op-ed page carries a piece by the director of the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Delaware about efforts to smear two Harvard astrophysicists and the editor of a scientific journal who published them because the astrophysicists believe that the Earth’s climate over the last 1,000 years has varied.

This is actually not a new theory, nor even a minority view among scientists, but it is politically-incorrect to mention it publicly because it is inconvenient to those who promote the ultra-PC global warming theory.

Thus the scientists, like Galileo, are condemned not because they are wrong, but because their outspokeness gets in the way.

Consider also the attacks on medical researchers who say smokeless tobacco products are a safer nicotine-delivery option than traditional cigarettes. As described in this National Center paper by our own James Gelfand, some anti-smoking activists are so zealous they attack scientists who recommend harm reduction strategies for tobacco use — even though these strategies could save up to 400,000 lives a year.

The Catholic Church apologized for its treatment of Galileo. Will today’s politically-incorrect inquistors learn from the Church’s mistake?

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.