Obama's Science Pick: A Violent Enemy of Human Life

I do not believe I was morally wrong or politically naive to personally give President Obama the benefit of the doubt and, until he proved otherwise, accept his claims of wanting to ‘work with’ pro-lifers at face value. I believe prudent and ethical politics, as well as the requirements of Christian charity, placed such an obligation on me, though I understood why some Catholics strongly disagreed. Even just recently I wrote a blog suggesting that we should not engage in nasty rhetoric against the president – and for the most part, I still believe that.

But with Obama’s selection of Dr. John P. Holdren to “Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy”, among a few other high positions – and with the recent revelations of what this man, along with his co-authors, advocated in a 1977 book called Ecoscience (of which I was entirely ignorant), I believe the benefit of the doubt has just been cut.

First, I’ll say that I regret for the sake of some readers that the most thorough analysis of this book is presently available on Alex Jones’ website Infowars. It doesn’t bother me at all, because the analysis comes with several photocopied pages from this obscure book. But I do understand that many people either love or revile Mr. Jones. Those feelings, however, shouldn’t get in the way of accepting what is obviously true. If this is all a major fabrication, they did a heck of a job.

The analysis presents the highlights before going in depth, and I will reproduce those here:

- Forcibly and unknowingly sterilizing the entire population by adding infertility drugs to the nation’s water and food supply.

- Legalizing “compulsory abortions,” ie forced abortions carried out against the will of the pregnant women, as is common place in Communist China where women who have already had one child and refuse to abort the second are kidnapped off the street by the authorities before a procedure is carried out to forcibly abort the baby.

- Babies who are born out of wedlock or to teenage mothers to be forcibly taken away from their mother by the government and put up for adoption. Another proposed measure would force single mothers to demonstrate to the government that they can care for the child, effectively introducing licensing to have children.

- Implementing a system of “involuntary birth control,” where both men and women would be mandated to have an infertility device implanted into their body at puberty and only have it removed temporarily if they received permission from the government to have a baby.

- Permanently sterilizing people who the authorities deem have already had too many children or who have contributed to “general social deterioration”.

- Formally passing a law that criminalizes having more than two children, similar to the one child policy in Communist China.

- This would all be overseen by a transnational and centralized “planetary regime” that would utilize a “global police force” to enforce the measures outlined above. The “planetary regime” would also have the power to determine population levels for every country in the world.

Another website that analyzed the book anticipates a number of objections from skeptics and addresses them. The most relevant is this, I believe:

You might argue that this book was written in a different era, during which time a certain clique of radical scientists (including Holdren) were in a frenzy over what they thought was a crisis so severe it threatened the whole planet: overpopulation. But, you could say, all that is in the past, an embarrassing episode which Holdren might wish everyone would now forget. I mean, people change their opinions all the time. Senator Robert Byrd was once in the KKK, after all, but by now he has renounced those views. Perhaps in a similar vein John Holdren no longer believes any of the things he wrote in Ecoscience, so we can’t hold them against him any more.

Unfortunately, as far as I’ve been able to discover, Holdren has never disavowed the views he held in the 1970s and spelled out in Ecoscience and other books. In fact, he kept writing on similar topics up until quite recently.

The closest Holdren has come to retracting any of these statements was in a single sentence he spoke during his confirmation hearings. Under questioning from Senator David Vitter, Holdren did backpedal a bit concerning a different statement he made in the ’70s about government-controlled population levels. Does this single sentence count as an across-the-board disavowal of every single specific recommendation he made in Ecoscience as well as in many other books and articles? My opinion is Not even close, but I’ll let you decide for yourself.

The site goes on to provide links to Holdren’s testimony and a snippet of the transcript for us to view as well.

This is a truly frightening development. And it is especially terrible news given Obama’s recent meeting with Pope Benedict, who furnished the President with a treatise on bioethics as well as a copy of his new encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, which also contains a very strong pro-life message; a message that speaks directly to the arguments of the Holdrens of the world and rejects them as inhuman madness.

I will continue to hope that President Obama is actually willing to work on common issues with the pro-life movement. He spoke recently of three areas of agreement: sex education, promoting adoption, and aid to pregnant women. Though I realize his and the Catholic idea of sex education will probably look nothing alike, I had – and, in spite of perhaps my better judgment, continue to have – hopes that there may still be genuine agreement on the other two issues.

With men like Holdren dominating the administration’s scientific programs and departments, however, this prospect looks increasingly dim. Acknowledging this doesn’t mean I am going to tolerate a barrage of “told you so”.  If Pope Benedict can remain cordial with Obama, not to mention the leaders of other nations that are moving towards these horrific policies, then so can each and every one of us. Respectful communication does not exclude severe criticism, and we know that from the example of the Holy Father as well.

At the same time, no effort ought to be spared to defeat this madness in the next election. The Republican economic vision has long troubled me, as I believe it reinforces an individualist and consumerist way of life condemned by Catholic social teaching. But a world with an economy that works only for those deemed worthy of life by a cadre of ideologues presenting themselves as scientists is not a world I am willing to accept.

Update: The original analysis of Ecoscience appears on zombietime’s website. Credit for whatever Infowars picked up on belongs to that site.

37 Responses to Obama's Science Pick: A Violent Enemy of Human Life

  • zombietime says:

    I’d just like to say that the original report and most thorough analysis was on the zombietime site (the second link you posted); the Alex Jones site simply copied and took the material for their own use. If anyone finds the Alex Jones site distasteful, there’s no need to link to it in your article, since it was not the source of the story, merely one of hundreds of blogs (many of which were “mainstream”) which liked to an re-used the zombietime material.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Joe, when I heard about this gentleman, I honestly thought it was an internet spoof at first. I really wonder how closely vetted he was by the Obama administration. There is going to be a fire storm about him, and rightfully so.

  • JH a wise statement; indeed, if one looks to many from 1977, right or left, or before 1977, this was commonly held by people from both sides of the political spectrum. People can err. People can change. The question should be, what does he say to his past comments — that will reveal more than just pointing out the comments themselves.

  • Rick Lugari says:

    Henry, I disagree that that was a commonly held view. More people bought into the doomsday science scare of the day than should have, but it still didn’t get much traction, hence the series of doomsday science scares. Those who push these things always call for drastic measures to be taken immediately. And the “necessary” measures always seem to coincide with the advocates predefined political view or worldview. The cure is always something out of the leftist wishlist that they can’t sell on its merits or achieve through the ballet box.

    Still, the largest problem lies not whether he believed the population was too large or not, but his proposed “fixes”. What this man is capable of advocating is no less than sheer evil.

  • Rick

    St Paul, at one time, was capable of advocating sheer evil — again, the question is not, what did he advocate, but what is his response to it now? And you will find this discussion on this very quote has been elsewhere on the net, and in it, Republicans (like Bush Sr!) have been shown capable of following this line of reasoning before. It was quite common, more than you might realize, in politics… and eugenics had wide support in the US (Nixon is another example).

    So again the question is — where does he stand now, not what did he once think of in the past.

  • Dale Price says:

    Advocacy for a regime of forced abortions, government regulation of births and the infusion of sterilizing agents into the drinking water were never “commonly held by both sides of the political spectrum.”

    It wouldn’t kill you to say “Dear Lord, that’s appalling–I hope he recanted those hideous fringe beliefs.” Really.

  • Jay Anderson says:

    Forgive me if I’m skeptical about assuming (absent specific evidence to the contrary) that Holdren’s views have changed via some Road-to-Damascus-type experience. Maybe his views have changed, but it is naive to just assume that fact without proof.

    Holdren has espoused these views. The burden is not upon his detractors to prove that he still holds them, but rather is upon Holdren (and the President who appointed him) to denounce, in no uncertain terms, his previously-held stance.

    Interestingly, Holdren was still citing to his previous work at least as recently as 1995:


    Hat tip: Foxfier

  • Joe Hargrave says:


    I thought the post addressed that question, or attempted to anyway.

    The man has not recanted his positions. He may not be as vocal about them today, but there is no reason to believe he does not hold them.

  • Joe Hargrave says:


    Zombietime is right. I was perhaps too hasty in saying who had the thorough analysis. His was clearly the original, not Infowars.

    My apologies.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Well Henry, the author of the zombietime expose puts it this way:

    “I challenge John Holdren to publicly renounce and disavow the opinions and recommendations he made in the book Ecoscience; and until he does so, I will hold him responsible for those statements.”

    I second that.

    And I think we also have to acknowledge that there is a part of the scientific establishment that does think this way. It is the logical implication of a materialist and hedonist view of the world, and Pope Benedict makes that clear in his latest encyclical. It should not surprise us that these views exist, or that they have a place in the highest levels of government.

  • Joe

    And why does he have to respond to everyone who puts out a challenge? Seriously, let’s consider this properly. Again, I would recommend you re-examine the situation and determine whether or not he might think the “expose” is also playing loose, and might be ignoring responses — and a reason why he might not want to deal with the “expose” author? Seriously, don’t be too quick to condemn. That’s all I am suggesting. JH said as much. Wisdom learns in patience. Just look at the fiasco with the “Obama picture.”

  • Blackadder

    Many answers to this. The “I don’t know anywhere that he has recanted” is not the same thing as saying he is silent; it could all be a problem with the one who says that — maybe they didn’t look hard enough to find out if there is a recanting? Secondly, I don’t always mention things I said in the past, which I now disagree with today; we change all the time, but there would be no time for such a change if we were all caught up in the past itself….

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    “And why does he have to respond to everyone who puts out a challenge?”

    Because he has co-written a book promoting ideas that are reprehensible to most people, and he now occupies a high post in our government.

  • Rick Lugari says:

    Well if he has recanted his views – and only internally – then I’d say that’s not good enough and he should be held accountable for his very public views. He intentionally published these views as professional works. Seems only appropriate that if he has recanted that he do so publicly.

    Based on the Wiki entry of him, I’d say he hasn’t recanted or converted and is up to the same old game of pushing doomsday science to institute his radical leftist ideas.

  • Dale Price says:

    Sure, our opinions evolve over time. But there’s a difference between offhand commentary or the occasional blog post and a comprehensive manifesto for remaking society carefully laid out over several hundred pages of mass-market paperback. Which clearly and obviously distinguishes it from the former, or the offhand comments of Richard Nixon on tape, or a single photo of the President.

    This was an ecological Mein Kampf, roared to the heavens. The recantation needs to be advanced similarly.

    Or, as a judge once wrote, “you can’t take back what you offered with a trumpet fanfare at noon by a pennywhistle trill at midnight.”

  • Art Deco says:

    Henry Karlson, it is Dr. Holdren’s job to clarify and make plain any changes in viewpoint, not Joe Hargrave’s job. It is the most reasonable default assumption that he does in fact adhere to what he has stated publicly. Keep in mind, the man’s academic speciality is the physics of energy resources; his excursions into environmental science and demography were avocational and optional; keep in mind also, it is most unusal for natural scientists to write trade books and magazine articles for general audiences, most particularly outside their discipline. This guy had a 19 year long association with Paul Ehrlich as a co-author and co-presenter and his articles on demographic topics were published over a span of 20 years. The last hit the presses when he was 47 years old, in 1991. People are generally fairly settled in their viewpoint by that time of life. There is little question from examining his list of general interest and professional publications that he (like Ehrlich) had fully imbibed eschatological conceptions of both the politico-military and environmental-economic type (nuclear war, overpopulation, resource depletion), and held to them at a time (ca. 1979) when it was bloody plain that Dr. Ehrlich was an incompetant prognosticator. This guy has some ‘splainin’ to do.

  • Blackadder says:

    The “I don’t know anywhere that he has recanted” is not the same thing as saying he is silent

    Okay, but Joe didn’t say “I don’t know anywhere that he has recanted.” He said “[t]he man has not recanted.” Your response was to say “How do you know? Silence?” Since one cannot recant something silently, I would hope you’d see this response is insufficient.

    Separate point: while it’s no doubt possible that Holdren no longer believes what he wrote in Ecoscience, it would be nice if we had some reason to think that he had actually changed his mind. If someone says that they believe X, it is reasonable to assume that they will keep believing X until they give some reason to the contrary.

    Third point: Holdren is being nominated to a position as a science adviser. Given that the advocacy in Ecoscience was based on what turns out to have been really lousy science, I would think that his views as expressed in Ecoscience would be troubling even if he no longer subscribed to them.

  • Foxfier says:

    Might it not be a good idea for the folks saying “surely he’s changed” to try to find SOMETHING to show he’s changed?

    We are talking about a guy who *wrote a book* quite literally called for Nazi junk as a policy for the greater good, here.

    He’s holding almost the same job he did when he wrote the book– 1973 – 1975: Assistant Professor of Energy and Resources, 1996 – Present: Professor of Energy and Resources Emeritus– in 1997, as a google scholar search will show, he was still writing on population control.

    He even included a mild complaint against population growth in his nobel speech.

    Are we allowed to be worried yet?

  • P.Diddy says:

    As a Chicagoan who is intimitaley aquainted with the enmity with which Barack Hussein Obama holds innocent human life in the womb your “benefit of the doubt” explanation holds no water. His voting record has proven him more pro-abortion than NARAL and it is no exaggeration to say he is the most committed abortion politician who has ever occupied the White House.

    The specifics of this particluar nomination are, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant since it was a forgone conclusion that whomever was nominated would be anti-life. It is irreconciliable for any serious catholic not have known this in advance.

    I would suggest that what is far more revealing is the ideological blindspot that would allow such an egregious and crass error in judgement to be made. It is more than clear that whatever antipathy you have for free-market economics and the disdain you hold for it within the Republican party has seriously jeopardized your ability to discern other prudential matters.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    “It is irreconciliable for any serious catholic not have known this in advance.”

    This is your first and only warning. On this blog, or at least, on discussions taking place under my posts, you will not call into question my Catholicism or anyone else’s. Do it again, and I will summarily delete your post. You can think whatever you like about me for doing so, but it will happen.

    “I would suggest that what is far more revealing is the ideological blindspot that would allow such an egregious and crass error in judgement to be made.”

    Would you rather I hold onto to the erroneous judgment?

    “It is more than clear that whatever antipathy you have for free-market economics”

    I share the Pope’s views on “free market economics” – and follow his example in dealing with political leaders. I have never categorically condemned markets in themselves.

    If you want to have an exchange of views, that’s fine. If you think I’m going to allow you to insult me on my own blog, you are sorely mistaken.

  • P.DIddy says:

    I don’t think its an either/or question but rather a both/and.

    Understanding that the same secular outlook that embraces abortion as a sacramental right is in many respects the same worldview that embraces a statist utopian understanding of economics that does away with the principle of subsidiarity.

    It is way beyond the scope of the post but it is not uncommon for Catholics who are otherwise pro-life to succumb to a soft-spot for Obama because of what they perceive as his “social justice” strengths. It is precisely this dynamic which appeared to be in play.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    “Understanding that the same secular outlook that embraces abortion as a sacramental right is in many respects the same worldview that embraces a statist utopian understanding of economics that does away with the principle of subsidiarity.”

    What I would reject is the notion that a “statist-utopian” view of the economy is the only alternative to the crude individualism of laissez-faire. Red flags go up for me whenever I see the word subsidiarity without the word solidarity.

    For more on my economic views, go here:


    I’m not a ‘statist’ but I certainly don’t believe in scaling back the role of government in the economy until certain local conditions are met. You know, drugs are bad, but if you are addicted to them, its not a good idea to just quit cold turkey a lot of the time. That’s why they have methadone.

    “It is way beyond the scope of the post but it is not uncommon for Catholics who are otherwise pro-life to succumb to a soft-spot for Obama because of what they perceive as his “social justice” strengths. It is precisely this dynamic which appeared to be in play.”

    Well, I understand why it appeared that way, but really my only concern was to give Obama the benefit of the doubt and optimism. I never mistakenly believed he was the “real pro-life president” – I knew he was ardently pro choice – but I did hope that he was serious about collaboration. It isn’t impossible for people who disagree to find common ground here and there and it would be wrong to spit on such a proposal.

  • P.DIddy says:

    Thanks for the links.

    Funny, cause I react the exact same way to the term solidarity, unhinged from subsidiarity.

    The secular world is quite diabolical in exploiting the noblest of intentions when it comes to forms of “collaberation”. Collaberation tends to mean- we will tolerant your mere existence and that’s it.

  • Rick Lugari says:

    Actually there’s really no need to mention solidarity when discussing subsidiarity, because subsidiarity implies solidarity – it serves and strengthens solidarity. You cannot have true solidarity without the principles subsidiarity in place. It is the varying degrees of assistance inherent in subsidiarity that makes it solidify (and demonstrates) the union of purpose. Those who advocate abandoning subsidiarity to further some goal of solidarity get neither. What they do is breakdown the solidarity and introduce an unnatural (and destructive) element or entity into the mix which rapidly breaks down the personal and social structures.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    “Actually there’s really no need to mention solidarity when discussing subsidiarity,”

    I disagree. Either of these terms can be invoked by either side to promote a one-sided social and economic vision. It is more prudent to talk about them together, even if one necessarily includes the other.

  • Becca says:

    “And why does he have to respond to everyone who puts out a challenge?”

    Because he has co-written a book promoting ideas that are reprehensible to most people, and he now occupies a high post in our government.

    Exactly. With something as serious as infanticide and the suggestions in his book, the American public deserves to hear whether or not he still supports those ideas. If I said I hated broccoli when I was 10 and have not eaten any since nor made the statement broccoli is awesome, it would be obvious as day the statement made 15 years ago still stands. My family and anyone who heard me say it would know. 15 years of silence on the subject would certanly not automatically mean I now love broccoli. This would only be true if previous statements on the subject were recanted and broccoli eaten. Let him eat his broccoli first then maybe I’ll give him the benefit f the doubt that his views may have changed.

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