Galileo and the Inquisition (1)
A couple of recent events demonstrate chillingly that the human dynamic that drove the Inquisition, and ruthlessly suppressed the scientist Galileo, is alive and well in the UK today. The subjects are of course different: astronomy and even cosmology no longer violate deep taboos.
I’m too tired tonight to do justice to the Big One, so let’s just have a little rant about a normal-size scandal. Nothing abnormally controversial or perilous to a blogger. Just another proposed genocide. Call it a prelude. It doesn’t do justice to the title, but what the heck?
OK, the background. There is tuberculosis. It’s no longer a serious problem amongst humans, but cattle suffer from it. Badgers also suffer from it. The hypothesis is that badgers spread it amongst cattle (vice versa is not an issue, because nobody cares). The proposal advanced by the farmers union, representing big, multi-millionaire farmers (not least the landed aristocracy) is that badgers be scapegoated and exterminated.
So far, the question has been left open. A scientific study was conducted over nine years, to determine whether killing badgers would protect cows. It concluded that anything short of a Final Solution would in fact have the opposite effect, not least because it would increase mobility amongst badgers, and hence the likelihood of their carrying infection to cattle that weren’t already infected.
But that’s the “wrong” conclusion for those whose agenda is extermination. Now the government’s chief scientist has spoken in favour of it, throwing up a clear gulf between science and Politicised Science. I find myself somewhat bemused by this, but it reeks of political agenda: if the science doesn’t support our agenda, let’s fudge it (hmm, anyone for Weapons of Mass Destruction?).
An heretical hypothesis
Since the subject of infection falls way outside my expertise, I can only rant. But one thing that looks very relevant is the nature and history of the disease itself. Historically it was a major killer amongst humans. But it was always a disease of poverty. It was the advance of living standards, notably slum clearance, that caused it’s decline to negligible levels in humans. Could it be that the disgraceful conditions in which cattle are kept (for economic reasons, of course), are the real culprit?
That’s an heretical hypothesis. It cannot be discussed anywhere more significant than a blog. Let alone investigated. Because the consequences of the wrong outcome would be unthinkable.
 Not all NFU members fit that description. But they’re the ones with influence in high places. Others are incidental.