Sunday, February 19, 2006

Global warming: fact or (best-selling) fiction?

Michael Crichton, author of State of Fear, a best-selling work of fiction challenging the existence of global warning, has won a journalism award from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

In a review posted on the AAPG's web site, State of Fear is termed a "wake-up call" for geologists who have fallen prey to environmentalists' "perverted science." Crichton's scientific analysis is given credence on two accounts: first, because "much of what passes for science is actually fiction"; second, because he has "real scientific credentials": namely, an undergraduate anthropology degree and an M.D. from Harvard.

While intersubjective criticism is vital for ensuring scientific objectivity, Crichton is no geologist or climatologist. He is a fiction writer. Furthermore, it is fatuous to impugn the objectivity of science in order to justify putting science fiction and scientific practice on equal epistemological footing.

Stanford climatologist Stephen Schneider, on the other hand, terms the book "demonstrably garbage." It appeals to petroleum geologists, he says, only because "they are ideologically connected to their product."

Crichton's politically savvy pseudoscience hasn't escaped willing ears: namely, those of President Bush, who invited the novelist to the White House last year for an hourlong chat which left both men in "near-total agreement" about global warming.

Crichton has also testified before the Senate challenging the methodological rigor of climate science. In his testimony, he attests that it is "the proper function of government to set standards for the integrity of information it uses to make policy."

Guess the AAPG didn't get that memo.

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