George Will’s shameless dishonesty about global warming continues. Will responds to the very tardy publication by the Washington Post of a letter from the WMO correcting Will’s misrepresentation of their data by again misrepresenting WMO data.

Carl Zimmer:

Does the Post read its own letters? Does it remember them? Do they think if you add the phrase “statistics” you can continue to mislead on the exact same point emphasized by Jarraud? Perhaps Will’s editors think if they put a link in Will’s misleading statement, it somehow makes it right. Did they actually look at the linked document? If they did, they’d find stuff like this:

The global average temperature for 2007 is statistically indistinguishable from each of the nine warmest years on record.

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the global average surface temperature has risen by 0.74°C, but this increase has not been continuous. The linear warming trend over the past 50 years (0.13°C per decade) is nearly twice that for the past 100 years.

Every time I think this sorry tale of fact-checking woe can’t get worse, it does.

Chris Mooney:

So here’s an idea, Mr. Will: Why don’t you openly acknowledge your critics, and debate them, and explain to us all why it is that you think there’s a relationship between the 1998 record-which is only a record according to the WMO, not NASA-and the idea that global warming isn’t happening due to human causes?

Adam Siegel:

Yet again, despite publishing a letter from the head of the organization that Will is citing stating that this is a misuse of the data, The Washington Post publishes his distortion. Clearly the Washington Post editorial board has not learned a lesson and are not interested in holding George Will to any reasonable journalistic standard.

Joe Romm:

Is the Post in the business of trying to inform its readers or does it just publish anything anybody writes? Does the editorial staff of the Post exercise any editorial judgment whatsoever?

Jonathan Chait:

I’m all for newspapers giving their columnists latitude, but at some point I wonder if some very basic, low level of factual knowledge ought to be required to propound upon a topic in their pages.

Steve Benen:

Will really should just avoid this topic altogether. For that matter, the Post’s editors should probably take a closer look at the column when Will submits items like these for publication.


  1. #1 Moopheus
    April 2, 2009

    Last year, before the election, I had the misfortune of working on a series of political books by various conservative writers. There really does seem to be no distinction made between what we might think of as a fact, and an ideological position. For political pundits, everything is an ideological point. (though this is not constrained to conservatives, or even political writers; conservative just seem a little more egregious about it.) More often than not they refuse to acknowledge or correct errors, or logical inconsistencies. And I’m not talking about matters of opinion, or “controversial” things, but things that can be easily checked. And I’m the proofreader, which means the editor and the copyeditor gave these things a pass. I doubt very much that the Post’s editors care if Will’s facts are right or not.

  2. #2 Mark Schaffer
    April 2, 2009

    Perhaps this is one reason why newspapers are going out of business? Maybe the public is doing a little fact checking of their own?

  3. #3 dhogaza
    April 2, 2009

    George Will is channeling Tim Curtin…

  4. #4 bi -- IJI
    April 2, 2009

    The three core principles of global warming inactivism are

    1. Noise.
    2. Noise.
    3. Noise.

    Make noise, make more noise, get others to make noise, and when making noise doesn’t work, make even more noise.

  5. #5 Former Skeptic
    April 2, 2009

    George Will = Lenin? After all, a lie told often enough…

  6. #6 sod
    April 2, 2009

    i was pretty sure, that the post wouldn t allow him to post on this topic again.

    looks like i was wrong. sigh.

  7. #7 Robert Grumbine
    April 2, 2009

    sod: Why would you think that? He’s been using his lie about ‘in the 1970s they were all talking about cooling’ for over 15 years. It’s about a decade since William Connolley started putting the evidence otherwise on the web. It was published in the peer-reviewed literature last fall, since which Will has twice repeated the lie — once after the refutation from the peer-reviewed literature had been pointed out to the Post’s ombudsman.

    general: If the Post simply said that they let their columnists write whatever they want, because (insert some excuse), that would be one thing. Maybe they’d have a good reason. The problem is, the Post says that they do fact-check Will’s articles, and that the fact-checking supported the article. Last time around, when the Post ombudsman said that Will had submitted 20 links, I invented my [20 links game]( for the absurdity of that defense. Nothing’s changed at the Post, so time for another round, I guess. And maybe time to discontinue subscriptions any of us have to the Post. (Being sure, if you do so, to send a letter to the Post explaining why.)

  8. #8 Dano
    April 2, 2009

    The WaPo’s corporate masters are telling them what to print, in my view. What other explanation is there? Sheer and utter stupidity by the entire upper management and editorial staff? This isn’t a Kafka novel.



  9. #9 Nick
    April 3, 2009

    Dano,I think it’s simpler than that. It’s just corporate culture.

    Will is high-profile senior columnist who has shifted units for WaPo for years. He is an iconic and intimidating figure within the paper’s culture. He doesn’t get treated like a rank and file journalist.

    He’s ‘too big to fail’ no matter how stupid some of his comments. So far.

  10. #10 pough
    April 3, 2009

    The problem is, the Post says that they do fact-check Will’s articles, and that the fact-checking supported the article.

    They did check the facts and found them all to be opinions, which is perfect for opinion pieces. Who wants facts in opinion pieces? For that, you can simply flip over to the fact section of the newspaper.

    George Will misrepresents WMO data again

    Again? Don’t you mean still?

  11. Mildly off-topic (and I apologize in advance if I shouldn’t do this) but have you seen [this]( ? Arctic sea ice is melting far faster than the median computer models suggested. How will Will spin this?

  12. #12 Hank Roberts
    April 4, 2009

    > the Post says that they do fact-check Will’s articles
    > and that the fact-checking supported the article.
    Not true, they just sort of made you think that.
    Hrynshyn has the most recent response from then that I know of.

  13. #13 SLC
    April 5, 2009

    Re Former Skeptic

    Actually, I think that Josef Goebbels was the father of the big lie concept. He was once quoted as saying that if one is going to tell a lie, make it a big lie, tell it loudly, tell it ofter and eventually people will come to believe it.

  14. #14 luminous beauty
    April 5, 2009

    Credit Edward Bernays with TheBigLie/v1.0©™. The concept goes back further, though…

    The pathetic thing about George Will is he actually believes he is in on the con.

  15. #15 Former Skeptic
    April 5, 2009

    #13 SLC:

    Good point. Half of my historian friends have also told me that, but the other half swear the exact quote above was said by Lenin.

    Nevertheless, comparing Will to either Goebbels or Lenin says alot about ‘ol George, does it?

  16. #16 John P
    April 8, 2009

    Will has now been contradicted by the [Post’s own reporters]( How will he change his tune as the September arctic sea ice extent minimum continues to decrease? I would bet good money that the September minimum will keep getting smaller.

  17. #17 Hank Roberts
    April 8, 2009

    “MAKING GEORGE WILL LOOK WORSE…. The Washington Post … contradicts data cited in widely circulated reports by Washington Post columnist George F. Will that sea ice in the Arctic has not significantly declined since 1979.
    But it gets better. ….”

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