Saturday, March 11, 2017

In the Trump Administration, No Man-Made Climate Change But Long Live Cold Fusion

Hot Fusion
As you may have heard, concerned citizens have been flooding the Environmental Protection Agency with non-stop calls denouncing Administrator Scott Pruitt's rejection of climate change science. Fear no more, I think I have a solution, which lies in harnessing the insights of science skeptics.

Back in 2000, the EEOC issued a notorious decision regarding the Patent Office's termination of an employee allegedly for believing in cold fusion. Cold fusion is a purported means of generating energy through nuclear fusion at room temperature rather than at the millions of degrees normally required in the core of a star. The EEOC concluded that terminating an employee based on his cold fusion beliefs was possibly unlawful religious discrimination:

[C]omplainant argues that "[d]iscrimination against a person on account of his beliefs is the essence of discrimination on the basis of religion…." Therefore, complainant contends, his beliefs in cold fusion are protected.
. . .
"In determining which beliefs are protected under Title VII, the Supreme Court has held that the test is whether the belief professed by a complainant is sincerely held and whether it is, in his own scheme of things, religious." Moreover, in defining religious beliefs, our guidelines note that "the fact that no religious group espouses such beliefs … Will not determine whether the belief is a religious belief of the employee…."
In the instant case, complainant argues that his unconventional beliefs about cold fusion and other technologies should be viewed as a religion and therefore protected. Complainant claims he was terminated and denied the opportunity to be rehired because of religion, which embodies his cold fusion beliefs. Therefore, under the applicable law noted above, we find that the agency improperly dismissed complainant's claim of discrimination for failure to state a claim.
I don't deny that unconventional beliefs can be "religious," but a belief is not religious merely because it is unconventional. Rather, it may be religious despite its being unconventional. But the initial question is whether a belief is religious, and the EEOC did not answer that question. 

Such reasoning would ordinarily be grounds for criticism. But no more. The EEOC's paean to unscience was prescient in anticipating a world in which climate change is not caused by humans and autism is caused by vaccines. A world of alternative facts in which all beliefs have equal validity.

We humans may not have caused climate change, but we can fix it. With cold fusion. And a few perpetual motion machines. So move over scientists, it's time for mystics, astrologers, and witch doctors to have their chance to shine.

This blog reflects the views solely of its author. It is not intended, and should not be regarded, as legal advice on how to analyze any particular set of facts.