I am constitutionally averse to orthodoxies. I don’t like it when means become ends in themselves. I don’t like it when solutions to problems become holy writ even after the problems are solved. I don’t like it when objections to a practice become dogma even when the practice has changed.

In some areas — religion, for instance — orthodoxy is built in, and of course many movements become de facto religions as methods harden into unquestioned dogma. (See: early 20th century communism.) But in a secular, democratic society, orthodoxy has no place in public policy. The raison d’etre of a democratic government is to pursue the mutually agreed-upon goals of its citizenry using the methods empirically demonstrated to be effective, within the bounds of the law. This is a bit idealized, of course, but you get what I mean.

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Environmentalism has, in many people’s eyes, become a religion. I don’t think this is quite true, but I certainly know of greens who behave more like priests than scientists, forever condemning any dissent from the straight-and-narrow and excommunicating those who stray. I find this kind of stuff obnoxious — aesthetically, morally, but most important, pragmatically. The question of how best to protect our natural resources and put human civilization on a sustainable course is empirical, involving a smart synthesis of scientific data, political savvy, and a sense of the possible. To that end, there should bo no verboten topics, no discussion or argument that’s out of bounds. No one should feel any "shame" for bringing up sensitive topics.

This was meant to be a prelude to a post, but it’s gotten too long, so I’ll split it in two. More shortly.

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