Who needs facts when you have faith?

There’s a truly extraordinary article by AN Wilson in today’s Daily Mail which, after something of an online storm, has been tweaked – so it’s no longer illustrated with a picture of Hitler, as it was this morning.  I’m not going to link to it because I’m increasingly convinced that the Mail runs really crazy stories for no other reason than to boost traffic.

It’s incredible, though.

The trouble with a ‘scientific’ argument, of course, is that it is not made in the real world, but in a laboratory by an unimaginative academic relying solely on empirical facts

Imagine people relying solely on empirical facts!

Mr Wilson then compares scientists with their empirical facts to Dr Mengele, and suggests that Science = Hitler. I’m not making this up.

The only difference between Hitler and previous governments was that he believed, with babyish credulity, in science as the only truth

Here was me thinking one of the differences was that Hitler was a crazy motherfucker. Apparently not.

I am not suggesting that any British scientists are currently conducting experiments comparable to those which were allowed in Nazi Germany or in Soviet Russia. But I see the same habit of mind at work in Professor Nutt and his colleagues as made those mad scientists of the 20th century think they were above the moral law which governs the rest of us mortals.

Professor Nutt dared to suggest that government drugs policy was based on politics rather than reality. That’s not quite Mengele.

In fact, it is the arrogant scientific establishment which questions free expression. Think of the hoo-ha which occurred when one hospital doctor dared to question the wisdom of using the MMR vaccine.

That’ll be the hoo-hah which occured when one doctor made shit up and newspapers ran with it, seriously damaging the vaccination programme for no good reason and exposing children to potentially fatal illnesses. The worst offender? Yes, the Daily Mail.

The point here is not whether he was right or wrong

He was wrong. And here we are, years later, still suggesting that Wakefield is a victim rather than an offender (with pure intentions, perhaps, but the effect was still parents abandoning vaccination and exposing children to unnecessary risks). Scientists? It’s the newspapers we should be scared of.