[Please email Weisberg (at email@example.com) who was suckered by Freeman Dyson into writing one of the most uninformed pieces ever to appear in Newsweek.]
Suppose Freeman Dyson had said:
“Our nobly intended welfare programs may be encouraging dysgenics-retrogressive evolution through disproportionate reproduction of the genetically disadvantage”¦ We fear that ‘fatuous beliefs’ in the power of welfare money, unaided by eugenic foresight, may contribute to a decline of human quality for all segments of society.”
Would he be the darling of the contrarian media crowd — feted with cover stories and credulous coverage (see NYT magazine profiles climate crackpot, Freeman Dyson, and lets him slander James Hansen “” while Revkin gives Dyson’s nuttiness a free pass and below)? Or would he be vilified, the way William Shockley, the physicist who wrote those words, was — a reporter once called him “Hitlerite.” Yet Shockley was a “brilliant scientist” like Dyson, and perhaps more so, since, unlike Dyson, a purely theoretical physicist fond of wildly impractical ideas like a rocket ship powered by detonating nuclear bombs or Reagan’s Star Wars plan, Shockley was an experimental physicist who won the Nobel Prize for helping to invent the transistor.
Suppose Dyson had said:
There is no doubt that the Nazis killed some Jews, but the killing was local, not systematic.
I’m guessing that Jacob Weisberg wouldn’t have added a paragraph to his new Newsweek article, “What Else Are We Wrong About?” labeling as myth the statement “The Holocaust was catastrophic.” Yet Dyson’s blatant global warming denial — “There is no doubt that parts of the world are getting warmer, but the warming is not global” is as false, as scientifically disapprovable, as claims the Holocaust never happened or was wildly exaggerated. The whole damn planet is getting warmer — that’s why it is called global warming. It is increasingly hard to find any large region — including the tropics and subtropics — that are not warming [click to enlarge]:
But the conservative disinformation campaign has made global warming denial acceptable to embrace for crackpot contrarians who want media coverage in a way that eugenics and Holocaust denial are not. Yet such denial, when credulously repeated by a reporter acting as nothing more than a stenographer, poses a far graver risk to humanity since it encourages inaction, encourages us not to take the relatively low-cost steps — one tenth of a penny on the dollar — we must take immediately in order to prevent catastrophe. And delaying action is exactly what Dyson is all about, as this absurd piece of journalistic malpractice in Newsweek by Weisberg makes clear: