Congrats to Chris Mooney for getting his rebuttal to George Will published in the Washington Post. And kudos to the post for allowing his serious factual answer to an article composed entirely of crank arguments and lies (they also published a rebuttal from WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud dealing with the lies in Will’s article)

Mooney does an excellent job, and points out the frank dishonesty not just regarding the sea ice data (the only point the obtuse Ombudsman would even talk about), but also how every other argument in the entire article represents flawed rhetoric. In particular I enjoyed how Mooney made an issue of the denialist tactics that were used, the cherry-picking of data, the use of inappropriate sources, etc. His final point I agree with very strongly:

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.

Readers and commentators must learn to share some practices with scientists — following up on sources, taking scientific knowledge seriously rather than cherry-picking misleading bits of information, and applying critical thinking to the weighing of evidence. That, in the end, is all that good science really is. It’s also what good journalism and commentary alike must strive to be — now more than ever.

We can’t just hope people will recognize good scientific information when they hear it. It is important that those who present the information in the media have good standards by which they evaluate scientific information, and standards for the presentation of scientific results. The Washington Post initially failed to do so in this instance, hopefully they will evaluate Will’s factual claims more rigorously in the future, and subject his sources to a greater deal of scrutiny.

Comments

  1. #1 lukas
    March 22, 2009

    Controversy Now Over

    In your dreams ;-).

  2. #2 Hubert
    March 23, 2009

    We hope that now all want to be involved in the medical system is improved, but not because they think the medical system is very much less come to trust that these events will reduce the cost and benefit millions of people throughout the country, and they say that things in findrxonline.com improved from 60% in recent weeks, hopefully this is the case ..

  3. #3 LanceR, JSG
    March 23, 2009

    Now with 30% more spam, and 57% less grammar! But wait! If you buy now, we’ll send you TWICE the spam absolutely free! It’s amazing! It’s a miracle! It’s making me yell like a drunk guy outside his ex-girlfriend’s apartment at 2 a.m.!

  4. #4 jre
    March 23, 2009

    Cogently expressed, LanceR!
    Actually, what’s interesting (to me, at least) is that this kind of spam is, evidently, cost-effective.
    Somewhere, someone wrote a script clever enough to skirt SB’s anti-spam heuristics, all on the expectation that a reader would wade through this gibberish and find the “xxx.com” intriguing enough to copy and paste it into an address bar.
    How often does that happen, do you figure?
    At that yield rate, spamming has to be not dirt cheap, but far cheaper than dirt on a per-spam-unit basis, to pay off.
    Which, of course, it is.

  5. #5 Blake Stacey
    March 23, 2009

    Off-topic: you might enjoy Scott Aaronson’s recent blog post, “The complement of Atlas Shrugged“.

  6. #6 Brian X
    March 24, 2009

    We can’t just hope people will recognize good scientific information when they hear it. It is important that those who present the information in the media have good standards by which they evaluate scientific information, and standards for the presentation of scientific results.

    So painfully, painfully true, and not just for scientific endeavors. Many forms of denialism (as well as many religious and political beliefs and virtually all forms of fraud, from three-card monte to alternative medicine) are heavily dependent on trying to gain popular support without all that messy “educating the public” business; it’s also a hallmark of populist politics. Nobody wants to be forced to be educated; in some cultures, particularly the US, even the idea of trying to educate someone and/or call them out on their ignorance is looked upon as being snooty or arrogant.

    The marketplace of ideas is not a place for the indifferent shopper or the huckster. The problem is that both thrive there.

  7. #7 Strider
    March 24, 2009

    Where is “The Intersection” anyway?

  8. #8 SLC
    March 26, 2009
  9. #9 minimalist
    April 2, 2009

    George Will stubbornly butts his head against reality once again:

    Reducing carbon emissions supposedly will reverse warming, which is allegedly occurring even though, according to statistics published by the World Meteorological Organization, there has not been a warmer year on record than 1998.

    Well, that’s a slightly more accurate depiction of what the WMO data says, though it’s still clearly Will’s same old, tired spin, even after Mooney beat him over the head on that point. What a knob.

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