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ISSUE #112
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Features

ArrowMcCain's Mutiny
Why "Mr. Integrity" wants the war to drag on
Allan Uthman

ArrowThe Negligents
How to convert ignorance into “skepticism”
Ben Zaitchik

ArrowCivil War?
An oxymoron in one act
Ian Murphy

ArrowBaker-Hamilton Omission Report
Iraq Study Group aims to change perception, not reality
Matt Taibbi

ArrowThe BEAST Holiday Gift Guide
Because you must consume!

ArrowAre YOU a Racist?
Take the BEAST Quiz!

Local BEAST

ArrowAn Important Message from our Fearless Leader
Paul Fallon

Departments

ArrowThe Beast Page 3
Environmental Apocalypse

ArrowKino Korner: Movies
Turistas, Blood Diamond, Unaccompanied Minors, Apocalypto, The Holiday

ArrowBEAST-O-Scopes
As divined by your ethereal guide

Arrow[sic] - Letters
Fiends Like These, Cutler & Run, That's [sic], Osama for your Mama and more

 

The Negligents

continued - page 3

3. Counter-example

The third technique is bread-and-butter stuff for Creationists. Given the sheer number of species known to exist in the present and the discovered past, there are bound to be some weirdoes. Some defy present explanation, others simply have not been examined. This gives the creationist a bottomless bag of rhetorical devices to hurl at evolutionary theory. When one is taken away, by a new fossil find or a hopelessly obscure PhD project, he'll simply reach into the bag for another freak. In essence, this is argument by anecdote. It's the last refuge of the data-defeated (well, actually tactic four is the last refuge, but we'll get there in a minute).

The counter-example has obvious application to those promoting climate Negligence, precisely because modern climate records are so rich. Globally, there are over 8,000 weather stations that report daily data to the U.S. Climate Diagnostics Center. And guess what? It's not warming everywhere. Now this would hardly be surprising even if the hypothesis of global warming depended on uniform warming of the entire globe -- we'd expect a few stations with cooling simply due to instrument malfunction and local variability. But no reasonable scenario of anthropogenic warming involves uniform warming of the entire globe. It is well understood that significant portions of the planet will experience negligible warming, or even cooling for some time due to changes in ocean currents and atmospheric circulations. Polar regions, for example, are expected to warm more than low latitude regions, due in large part to feedbacks associated with melting ice sheets. Warming in the North Atlantic, meanwhile, may be offset for some time by the input of cold fresh water off of the melting Greenland ice sheet.

So it's child's play to drag up a few weather station records that show a cooling trend. Plot it up in Excel and you've got a great slide for your next keynote address. It's best to pair the slide with a puzzled wrinkling of the brow. I enjoyed such a performance recently from a German Negligent who, for some reason, thought it most appropriate to test his global sunspot theory for climate change using data from a single weather station record in northern England. His statistics still weren't very good, but the Excel graph impressed some economists in the audience. Incredulity with a German accent is potent stuff.

4. Cabal

Finally, the play to paranoid populism: evolution is a rouse dreamed up by a cabal of self-interested scientists that is only after your taxpayer dollars and probably the souls of your children as well. The logic behind this argument is impeccable in all applications. Who benefits from acceptance of evolutionary theory but the very people who make their dishonest living by talking about it? There is a vast conspiracy of lab geeks who chortle at the ignorance of the lay public while quaffing $6 microbrews at their favorite Cambridge pub.

It sounds like a Michael Crichton novel, but it's not. It's his Congressional testimony.

Michael Crichton has made a lucrative career of animating vain, amoral scientists who put personal glory ahead of social and scientific responsibility. These are entertaining stories. They also involve genetically engineered dinosaurs and swarms of evil nanobots. I assume he briefed Congress on those topics as well. Somewhere in the fog of celebrity-induced self-worship, Crichton has taken to preaching the gospel against climate change research, garnering innumerable speaking engagements, an award in "journalism" from the oil industry, and however many millions of dollars he netted from State of Fear. On his website he warns, "the intermixing of science and politics is a bad combination [sic]." Apparently the intermixing of science-fiction and politics presents no such concern.

page 4

 

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