Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fact-free science

Been meaning to write a post about Judith Warner's great piece "Fact-Free Science," in the NY Times Magazine of February 27.
“This is our generation’s Sputnik moment,” President Obama declared in his State of the Union address last month.

It would be easier to believe in this great moment of scientific reawakening, of course, if more than half of the Republicans in the House and three-quarters of Republican senators did not now say that the threat of global warming, as a man-made and highly threatening phenomenon, is at best an exaggeration and at worst an utter “hoax,” as James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, once put it. These grim numbers, compiled by the Center for American Progress, describe a troubling new reality: the rise of the Tea Party and its anti-intellectual, anti-establishment, anti-elite worldview has brought both a mainstreaming and a radicalization of antiscientific thought.
In a 2008 Gallup Poll, 63 percent of Americans said they thought the effects of global warming were already visible. In 2010, that number went down to 53 percent. It's now an article of faith in the Republican Party that climate change is either not happening, or not caused by human activity.

For the last couple of months, I've been subscribing to Google News Alerts on the terms "global warming" and "climate change." If you want to get depressed, do this; I would say that at least 40 percent of this "news" is articles skeptical of anthropogenic global warming. These come now from all over the world, with a substantial percentage of them emanating from India. Almost none of these articles cite new scientific findings; they recycle the same old, already answered false claims about cosmic rays, solar influence, Little Ice Age "recovery" (an idea with no physical basis at all), and so on.

To avoid having to shoot yourself after reading this stuff, look at skepticalscience.com, the best clear, simple, well-evidenced source for evaluation of skeptic claims.

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