Contemporary academia is awash in government money. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of its scholarly ‘findings’ exalt and promote expansion of the state. Modern college campuses are dens of extreme pro-government, socialist and elitist sentiment. Statistically, the American professoriate is more loyal to the Democratic Party than the voters of San Francisco or the government employee unions of Washington, D.C.
Because of the ideological lopsidedness of today’s colleges, the peer-review process barely functions as a gatekeeping device for weeding out questionable scholarship.
Here are three recent “studies” that have garnered overwhelmingly favorable attention in the world of academia (and in the popular press), but which could not withstand the slightest exposure to a critical audience, or even a random group of people on the street.
- The Gilens/Page “democracy has been hijacked by rich libertarians” study.
Princeton politics professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern University political scientist Benjamin Page have authored a widely-circulated set of studies purportedly showing that the poor and the middle class have absolutely no influence in American politics because the rich outlobby them and outspend them on campaign advertising. Moreover, say Gilens and Page, the rich have succeeded in thwarting the most basic desires of American voters by pushing American policy toward “deregulation” and free-market libertarianism.
These findings have been met with praise and applause throughout academia and journalism. Yet they collapse under scrutiny. Here is a graph showing how the government’s share of overall GDP has been steadily expanding; not contracting:
The same goes for the claim of “deregulation.” By any measure—numbers of regulations, pages, sections or subsections, or enforcement budgets—regulations have steadily increased rather than declined. And if the super rich are in total control of American politics, they have failed to use this control to shift the tax burden away from themselves. Here is a chart showing how the overall tax burden has been steadily increasing on the richest 1 percent, while decreasing for the poorest 50 percent. These are IRS data.
Gilens and Page also appear to have misread or overlooked a great deal of polling data which show that Americans want more freedom; not more redistribution or central planning. Fully 60 percent think that government is too powerful, and 75 percent describe government as corrupt. Half of Americans describe the federal government as an “immediate threat” to their lives (Gallup’s words), and almost 30 percent regard government as “the enemy.” The polling shows Americans want deregulation. Only 21 percent—an extremist minority—say government regulates business too little.
- The Brulle “climate skepticism is funded by fossil fuel billionaires” study.
Not long ago a group of 20 science professors wrote a letter to the Justice Department demanding that their skeptics be investigated as participants in organized crime. The ‘RICO 20’ letter referenced a 2013 study by sociologist Robert Brulle purporting to find that skepticism of the government’s global-warming hysteria has been funded by fossil-fuel billionaires.
The Brulle study may be the easiest to debunk in world history, as it is built on plainly bad math. Brulle apparently went on a fishing expedition, looking for proof that climate skepticism is funded by oil and coal interests. He found very little, so he stacked inference upon inference until he concluded that some energy investors have influenced the climate debate by spending money on conservative think tanks. Thus, Brulle suggests that the $87 million donated by energy magnates to the American Enterprise Institute, the $76 million donated to the Heritage Foundation, and the $45 million donated to the Hoover Institution were all spent to thwart the government’s carbon-dioxide-limiting efforts.
This is like claiming that every dollar of the tens of billions of dollars spent by labor unions over the past decade was spent on advocacy for the minimum wage. Except that even a casual glance at AEI, Heritage, and Hoover materials reveals that climate-related discourse constitutes a tinier percentage of their materials than does minimum-wage discourse in the materials and web content of major labor unions.
If wealthy coal and oil barons donated such monies to conservative think tanks in hopes of thwarting climate policies, such a method must surely have been the most inefficient political spending effort ever devised.
- The NOAA ‘No Pause In Global Warming’ Study.
This one popped up in June of this year. News of it was blared on the front pages of the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and most other major newspapers. The study’s timing was impeccable, as the world’s governments prepared to make a major push for a major socialist power grab to “fight” global warming even though satellites have recorded no global warming in 18 years. The NOAA study—built on “new data”—proclaimed that “The Pause” hasn’t happened, and that global warming has continued since the 1990s.
It has become increasingly evident that the government-promoted global-warming-by-manmade-CO2 scare is more akin to science fiction than science. Antarctic ice packs are now at the highest levels ever measured; the frequency of 90-degree summer days in America has been declining, and total ice pack in North America is at a 10-year high for this time of year.
When government agencies release claims that we are living in the “hottest ever” period, their claims are based entirely on “adjusted” data. The raw data do not support such claims. Government-supported scientists have been adjusting past averages downward, adjusting past high temps lower, increasing temp averages of the past few years, and suppressing the global cooling of the past 18 years.
The NOAA “study” was discredited almost immediately by climate scientists with their eyes on atmospheric science. But unlike the Gilens/Page study and the Brulle study, the NOAA study may soon be revealed as more fraudulent than merely biased. A congressional subcommittee is already reporting that “whistleblowers” are coming forward regarding NOAA’s doctored data.