by James A. Wanliss, Ph.D.Author, Resisting the Green Dragon: Dominion, Not Death(Cornwall Alliance, 2010, 311 pages) Post-normal science is a corrupted form of science in which the quest to explain how our world works is less significant than the quest to use scientific authority to achieve political goals." />
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April 24, 2014

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Post-Normal Science and the Pagan Quest for Power Over Nature—and Mankind

by James A. Wanliss, Ph.D.
Author, Resisting the Green Dragon: Dominion, Not Death
(Cornwall Alliance, 2010, 311 pages)

Post-normal science is a corrupted form of science in which the quest to explain how our world works is less significant than the quest to use scientific authority to achieve political goals. One helpful way to understand it is to compare it with Cargo Cults.

During World War II remote tropical Pacific islands like Vanuatu became involved in war efforts when they became part of supply lines. To the natives the arrival of noisy birds was almost miraculous; they brought delicious foods, and other sorts of wondrous cargo.

After the war the birds, and their cargo, left. Into the vacuum returned old terrors of hunger and sickness, and an angry Earth. Superstitious natives copied what they had seen. They made model planes and runways. They had the form right—the outward form of religion—but lacked power. As they had seen, so they did. But no airplanes landed. Anthropologists call this religion a Cargo Cult.

In 1974 physicist Richard Feynman explained how something similar can happen in science. He observed that many scientists go through the motions of scientific rituals yet are not actually doing science. Experiment first, conclusions afterward is the basis of scientific inquiry. Cargo Cult science—including post-normal science—predetermines the conclusions and reverses the order.

The global warming federal-scientific partnership forms the basis for several modern Cargo Cults. For instance, tens of billions of American dollars have been thrown at studying global warming, with prominent scientists failing (or forbidding) to ask critical questions that might challenge cherished beliefs, or threaten the gravy train; annual federal funding to study global warming is around four billion dollars and rising. Scientists and politicians use this environmentalist Cargo Cult Science to make the most incredible predictions of future doom. It is magical in its ability to explain how almost every environmental calamity—whether hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or tempestuous—is caused by humanity’s insensitivity toward our mother planet.

As discussed in my book Resisting the Green Dragon: Dominion, Not Death, for pagans what matters most is power, not truth. So it was in Vanuatu where pagans worshipped the Serpent, as a spirit of evil. They lived in abject terror of his influence, and directed all their worship towards pacifying his rage. In Cargo Cult Science, are we unconsciously returning to the dark age of magic, in which truth suffers and people tremble for fear that their smallest actions may offend an “angry” Earth?

James A. Wanliss, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Physics at Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC. His academic research interests are broad, ranging from space physics to pharmacotherapy and human factors psychology. He uses advanced mathematical techniques to create models, which he couples with detailed analysis of data. In space physics, his activities encompass the physics of solar wind turbulence and propagation and the interaction of solar wind with non-magnetized bodies.
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