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The Sciences

My Washington Post Answer to George Will


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As any reader of this blog knows, I was for a while very critical of the Washington Post editorial page amid the George Will affair. Now, my view has changed. Today the Post publishes, replete with links to many scientific sources, my op-ed answering three claims Will made in his now infamous "Dark Green Doomsayers" column, and also making a broader point about why we need standards in science-centered journalism and commentary. I'm extremely heartened that the Post ran the piece, and has at least allowed me to correct Will--or, to "debate" him. Without further ado, the oped begins like this:

A recent controversy over claims about climate science by Post op-ed columnist George F. Will raises a critical question: Can we ever know, on any contentious or politicized topic, how to recognize the real conclusions of science and how to distinguish them from scientific-sounding spin or misinformation? Congress will soon consider global-warming legislation, and the debate comes as contradictory claims about climate science abound. Partisans of this issue often wield vastly different facts and sometimes seem to even live in different realities. In this context, finding common ground will be very difficult. Perhaps the only hope involves taking a stand for a breed of journalism and commentary that is not permitted to simply say anything; that is constrained by standards of evidence, rigor and reproducibility that are similar to the canons of modern science itself....

You can read the rest here. I spent a weekend doing this column, wondering if I was wasting my time. Now I'm very glad I did it.

UPDATE: I didn't realize it until just now, but my column is paired with a letter from the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, Michel Jarraud, further debunking Will. In combination, this is a pretty powerful riposte, to say the least. Read Jarraud's letter here.

UPDATE II: Wow. Over at the Post there are already over 80 comments (as of 9:30 ET) there are 200 as of 12:30 ET....

UPDATE III: Linkage: Adam Siegel, Joe Romm, Michael Tobis, John Fleck, Think Progress, Mike Dunford, Tim Lambert, Abel Pharmboy, Carl Zimmer, David Roberts, Matthew Yglesias, Atrios, Brad Johnson (Wonk Room), Jamison Foser (Media Matters), Steve Benen, Simon Donner, John Fleck (again).....

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