Saturday, March 21, 2009

The War on Science

George Will is a brilliant columnist, a great debater and someone who normally employs an informed opinion to cleverly challenge accepted wisdom. Along with his colleague Charles Krauthammer, Will is perhaps the best conservative columnist/commentator on the American scene, today. Yet Will doesn't always "employ an informed opinion." When all or most of the facts don't support the conclusion he prefers, Mr. Will will cherry-pick those he likes and ignore the rest. That is not a terrible thing to do, insofar as he is trying to make the best case possible for his side of the story. It's not as if he is a character assassin, like this scapegrace or this shrew. But what his readers should know, is that when he quotes statistics or hard evidence which contradict accepted wisdom, Will might not be being completely honest.

Such was the case in his February 15, 2009 column titled, "Dark Green Doomsayers." He tried to shoot down the concensus on global warming by carefully choosing a few odd statistics out of context to make the case that there is good scientific reason to have serious doubts.

Fortunately, Chris Mooney, author of "The Republican War on Science" and co-author of the forthcoming "Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future," took Will to task in this op/ed in today's Washington Post.

Here's an example from Mooney's piece:
Will also wrote that "according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade." ... Climate scientists, knowing that any single year may trend warmer or cooler for a variety of reasons -- 1998, for instance, featured an extremely strong El NiƱo -- study globally averaged temperatures over time. To them, it's far more relevant that out of the 10 warmest years on record, at least seven have occurred in the 2000s -- again, according to the WMO.

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