Gaius Publius at AMERICAblog lists a few universities bought and paid for by right-wing funders… and the list may surprise you. Among the ones that surprised me is MIT, a school I seriously considered attending until Rice University made me a scholarship offer a poor kid couldn’t refuse; MIT, a school with a heretofore sterling reputation for integrity and quality engineering education.
So why is MIT’s Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology an outspoken climate change denialist? Could right-wing funding of the Heartland Institute, a major backer of university faculty members who deny global climate change, have anything to do with his position? I don’t know, and I’m not quite prepared to accept the worst about MIT yet. There was a time when climate change skepticism was appropriate for a serious scientist, but that time is a decade or two in the past now: climate change is real, and it is underway right now. That position from a distinguished faculty member at MIT is the last thing I would have expected.
As for American education in the sciences and engineering, if faculty positions are being filled by the choices of the Koch brothers (as happens at Florida State University, for example), America’s day in the sun in scientific and technological research is coming to a close. Science and technology do not follow the axioms of political hacks of any stripe, and those who insist on pretending they do are doomed to ignominious failure… no matter how many professorships they buy.