A Response to Popular Ad Hominem, err Science, Magazine on Global Warming Skeptics

My new column is up at Forbes.com, and addresses the most recent Popular Science hit piece on climate skeptics:

I thought I knew what “science” was about:  the crafting of hypotheses that could be tested and refined through observation via studies that were challenged and replicated by the broader community until the hypothesis is generally accepted or rejected by the broader community.

But apparently “popular science” works differently, if the July 2012 article by Tom Clynes in the periodical of that name is any guide [I will link the article when it is online].  In an article called “the Battle,” Clynes serves up an amazing skewering of skeptics that the most extreme environmental group might have blushed at publishing.  After reading this article, it seems that “popular science” consists mainly of initiating a sufficient number of ad hominem attacks against those with whom one disagrees such that one is no longer required to even answer their scientific criticisms.

The article is a sort of hall-of-fame of every ad hominem attack made on skeptics – tobacco lawyers, Holocaust Deniers, the Flat Earth Society, oil company funding, and the Koch Brothers all make an appearance.

Just one example of the really shoddy journalism in this article:

Clynes mentions the story of Jeffrey Gleason and Charles Monnett, who published an observation of drowned polar bears.   The pair came under review by the Office of Inspector General for “integrity issues.”  The author uses this anecdote as an extreme example of harassment of climate scientists.  He is careful not to mention skeptics in the context of their story, but one is clearly meant to take this as an example of extreme harassment of scientists by skeptics.  Certainly skeptics have criticized their work, but Gleason and Monnett, as Clynes must surely know, came under review by the Obama Administration (certainly not a hotbed for sympathy towards skeptics) mainly for ethical lapses around reporting and use of funds.    This is extreme journalistic malfeasance — Gleason’s and Monnett’s job problems have nothing to do with skeptics but their story is included in a way meant to support the author’s thesis on skeptic harassment

Read it all

5 thoughts on “A Response to Popular Ad Hominem, err Science, Magazine on Global Warming Skeptics”

  1. This is precisely why I’ve allowed my Pop Sci, my Scientific American and my Discover magazine subscriptions to lapse.

  2. One of our biggest problems is the absence of reliable information on many issues, particularly AGW and related. The USG is a big culprit in this regard. Almost everything coming out of the DOE is demonstrably nonsense. The old adage “don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see” is alive and well.

    The advent of blogs has gone a long way to ameliorate the situation. We can exchange info freely and informally. If someone posts something that is not right, it is questioned and discussed. Not so in the popular press. They seldom print opposing views. Hence, much of it is biased or outright propaganda.

  3. NetDr:

    I’m not sure putting his tongue on that pole is the wisest move, even if it is summer!

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