Reg and Syd: On Good Authority

“One more nail, Syd.”

“I hope I’m not being too obtuse, Reg, but … in what?”

“In that dilapidated dump of a science station over there. You know – the one on that glorious site that would look so much better with a development of luxury condos on it, for worthy people? We have talked about it before, you know.”

“Yes, I remember. Doesn’t look any better now than it did then, does it?”

“No, and it’s never going to. Nor is anyplace like it. Not so long as they’ve got these so-called ‘scientists’ in them, the losers who don’t work for, and serve, us! And in the end, it was so easy to do.”

“The disinformation campaigns?

“Even easier that that. Sales and Marketing 101.”

“‘If you let the customer think, you’ve lost the sale?'”

Precisely. People don’t think, they do as some authority tells them. People believe that the earth goes around the sun, not because they’ve done the experiments to show this, but because somebody told them this was so. Most people wouldn’t know what experiments to do if their lives depended on it anyway. And while the Church was the authority on everything, people were quite content to believe that the sun revolved around the earth.”

“And the authority that told them the Church was wrong …”

“Was science. And if people believe things because people treat science as an Authority …”

“All you have to do is undermine that authority. And once you’ve got them doubting science, you give them a clear, authoritative alternative. Doesn’t matter if it matches the facts or not, because who out there can do the tests, or can be bothered to do the tests?”

“And because real science is about asking questions and debating answers, not about proclaiming authoritative truth …”

“You get them to destroy themselves! Every internal argument they have, even if it fits the facts, causes people to doubt their authority. At which point we step in, repeating the arguments, showing people how unworthy of authority the scientists are, and telling them ‘I know, follow me instead’. Even the scientists themselves know that the ‘scientific method’ doesn’t do them any good. Show me scientists who practice the scientific method during a faculty meeting, or while trying to influence university policy, and I’ll show you scientists without funding, working in a dilapidated shack. Until they destroy even that, and the jobs that go with it, in favor of a stronger authority!

“How else did our Donald destroy Clinton? And to think I doubted that he could pull it off.”

Shocking, Reg. But, you know …”

“Yes?”

“I want the scientists working for me to tell me the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I want them to argue. I want them to wrangle over ideas, and continue to do so until they get it right.”

“Of course, Syd. That’s basic product development. They brainstorm, and tussle over the brainstorms, and tell you – and no one else! They don’t get to go anywhere near marketing, lest they forget themselves enough to speak about their debates and give the competition a chance to challenge our authority. And forget publishing their findings unless and until they secure our authority and our profits. Marketing wishes to promote our science, they hire actors and models, preferably with cleavage, to look like the customers think a scientist should look, and pose them in the best way to tell our story and, once and again, assert our authority. Hell, even the universities have figured that much out.”

“As if it will do them much good. I presume that prediction that most of them will fail in the next decade is still valid?”

“Far as I know, Syd. And so long as the universities keep turning out believers focused on their ‘safe spaces’ and other trivia, instead of critical thinkers who pay attention to what matters, their demise will help us and hurt nobody, except maybe those ‘liberals’ who keep trying to ignore Friedman’s precepts and saddle us with social responsibility.”

“May it be so. If people ever did get into their heads to test things instead of just believing them, we could be in a spot of bother, eh?”

“That’s why we have Facebook, the Kardashians, and the National Football League. Can’t think while eating candy, can you? Besides. You saw the results of the last election. How likely do you think it is that America will develop any significant body of critical thinkers any time soon, never mind a body that will have any influence?

“About as likely as it is that you do not have a suitable drop in the cellar of this rowboat?”

“Well, come on, then.”

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