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Science Times stunner: “… a majority of the section’s editorial staff doubts that human-induced global warming represents a serious threat to humanity.”

By Joe Romm on March 16, 2010 at 3:41 pm

"Science Times stunner: “… a majority of the section’s editorial staff doubts that human-induced global warming represents a serious threat to humanity.”"


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Okay, it’s not a ‘stunner’ for CP readers that the NY Times doesn’t get it.  Still, it’s nice to see independent confirmation.  What’s the point of having a blog if you can’t say, “I told you so”?

In an otherwise silly article criticizing efforts to improve climate science messaging, John Horgan, a former Scientific American staff writer who directs the Center for Science Writings at Stevens Institute of Technology, reports:

I teach at an engineering school, and about one third of my students identify themselves as global-warming skeptics. They tend to know more about global warming than students who accept it as a fact. Two sources at the Science Times section of the New York Times have told me that a majority of the section’s editorial staff doubts that human-induced global warming represents a serious threat to humanity.

And this guy argues that just telling people the science is all that is needed to persuade them!

Anyway, I would say it’s been a open secret for a long time that the NYT‘s science writers and science editors don’t get it (see “And the 2009 “Citizen Kane” award for non-excellence in climate journalism goes to “¦“).  The mere fact that they keep anti-science writer John Tierney on staff tells you everything you need to know (see “Tierney makes up stuff “” does the NYT employ several know/do-nothing fact checkers” and “John Tierney IS the country’s worst science writer“).

The science could not be more clear cut that staying anywhere near our current path of unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases poses a multitude of threats that go far, far beyond serious  –  as can be seen from even a brief glance at the recent peer-reviewed literature and/or reports from leading scientists (see links below).  So if you don’t understand that, it’s because you don’t know the science or you have been persuaded by the rhetorical strategies of the anti-science crowd.

Horgan is uber-naive if he thinks how one articulates a message has no serious impact on how it is received. As a 23-year-old Winston Churchill wrote in a brilliant, unpublished essay, “The Scaffolding of Rhetoric.”

Of all the talents bestowed upon men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory. He who enjoys it wields a power more durable than that of a great king”¦. The subtle art of combining the various elements that separately mean nothing and collectively mean so much in an harmonious proportion is known to very few”¦. [T]he student of rhetoric may indulge the hope that Nature will finally yield to observation and perseverance, the key to the hearts of men.

And yes, one can use rhetoric and still be scientifically accurate.  Indeed, repetition is the core strategy of rhetoric, something most scientists simply don’t practice (see “Why scientists aren’t more persuasive, Part 1“).

Horgan repeats the tired pejorative that trying to explain science to nonscientists in a manner that they might actually understand and remember means you think they are “ignorant, irrational idiots.”

As na¯ve as this may sound, I believe environmentalists should try to influence public opinion by laying out the facts as clearly and honestly as possible and refraining from rhetorical trickery. Inconvenient Truth was a framing masterpiece, but Al Gore’s linkage of global warming to Katrina, however qualified, has made it easier for wackos to  claim that single weather events, like the big blizzards that struck Washington, D.C., this winter, contradict global warming.

Yes, it does sound naive.  Scientists have been telling us the science (poorly) with the proper qualifications for years.  The “wackos” simply make persuasive-sounding stuff up and repeat it endlessly, no matter what scientists do.  Even the prestigious journal Nature editorialized: “Scientists must now emphasize the science, while acknowledging that they are in a street fight.”

The fact is, rhetoric works.  And it works not on “ignorant, irrational idiots,” but all people.  Indeed, a rhetorician will always out debate a logician (see Why scientists aren’t more persuasive, Part 2: Why deniers out-debate “smart talkers”).

In his dialogue, Gorgias, about the master rhetorician, Plato gives him a speech that dramatized the awesome power of rhetoric over two millennia ago:

If a rhetorician and a doctor visited any city you like to name and they had to contend in argument before the Assembly or any other gathering as to which of the two should be chosen as doctor, the doctor would be nowhere, but the man who could speak would be chosen, if he so wished.  And if he should compete against any other craftsman whatever, the rhetorician rather then any other would persuade the people to choose him: for there is no subject on which a rhetorician would not speak more persuasively than any other craftsman, before a crowd. Such then is the scope and character of rhetoric

A rhetorician could persuade any audience, no matter how intelligent, that he was more of a scientist than a real scientist!

To point out the irony (a rhetorical figure of speech), it is precisely because rhetoric works on everybody that Horgan’s attempt to pigeonhole good messaging — “to help the dim-witted public see the world in the same enlightened way that environmentalists do” — is completely backwards.

How is that “a majority of the [NYT Science] section’s editorial staff doubts  that human-induced global warming represents a serious threat to humanity”?

They aren’t dumb.  So either they they have been convinced by superior messaging (by the anti-science crowd and others) or they don’t actually know the science:

No serious threat there.

Brad Johnson has more in his Wonk Room post, “New York Times Science Desk ‘Doubts That Human-Induced Global Warming Represents A Serious Threat’,” including this chart:

NYT Science Desk Ignores Climate Threat

He notes:  “The editorial positioning of the stories was even more biased, as 28% of the Page 1 Science Times stories on climate were skeptical. The vast majority of climate science stories were buried, with two-thirds of the stories appearing either on Page 3 or Page 8….  In contrast, over 15% of stories on ScienceDaily.com, which produces a stream of science stories on all topics based generally on press releases from scientific organizations, were about climate science.


How clean cars and climate policy can create jobs

New York Times Science Desk ‘Doubts That Human-Induced Global Warming Represents A Serious Threat’

38 Responses to Science Times stunner: “… a majority of the section’s editorial staff doubts that human-induced global warming represents a serious threat to humanity.”

  1. burk says:

    Jeez- well, perhaps the question makes a difference.. will global warming destroy humanity and make it extinct? No, obviously not. Will it create great disruptions and hardships, while killing off countless other species? You bet. It is a matter of degree, not left-behind apocalypse.

    [JR: I don't actually think there is not that much ambiguity. Exceedingly few people think that it poses a threat of extinction. I take it straightforwardly. Is human-caused global warming a "serious threat" to us? The key word is "serious."]

  2. Eric says:

    It’s funny that 2 of the 4 endorsements under “Recognition” on your web page are from the NYT — and not from physical scientists who might know anything but talking heads.

    [JR: Funny, haha? Or funny as in, oh, they are internationally-recognized columnists and experts who are not connected to Science Times. One has won the Pulitzer Prize three (!) times. The other has a Nobel Prize in economics.

    Now if you needs endorsements from scientists, try looking on the back jacket of my book "Hell and Higher Water," where you will find James Hansen, Tim Flannery, Art Rosenfeld, Bob Corell, and Judith Curry!]

  3. Ramez Naam says:

    I think commenter “burk” above has it right. If you ask the question “is this a serious threat to humanity?” I think the interpretation of that question may be “is this a threat to the survival of the species?”. And global warming, for all the potentially quite devastating consequences, does not appear to be a serious threat to the survival of the species.

  4. mike roddy says:

    I don’t get the nitpicking in 1 and 3. Of course global warming is a threat- it’s already doing considerable damage, for Christ’s sake. Whether this causes us to go extinct is OT.

    I wonder how much of the Times’ horrifying Science section is driven by dictates from advertisers or just blind ignorance. Either is scary, and will eventually make the paper even more irrelevant. I’d like to see a fresh competitor start by hiring Rich and Krugman away, making Romm Science Editor, and embarking on the goal of producing a great national newspaper. We haven’t had one for a long time. Rule #1 would be to get the facts right. If they do that, they will capture a big readership right off the bat. There are still a lot of us who are not as dumb as the Murdochs and Sulzbergers believe.

  5. paulm says:

    “…if you don’t understand that, it’s because you don’t know the science or you have been persuaded by the rhetorical strategies of the anti-science crowd.”

    maybe they don’t want to believe it for many reasons or they dont want to lose their job.

  6. dan p says:

    I have to side with Joe here. If “serious threat to humanity” means something liable to cause the complete extinction of humanity as a species, that becomes a narrow enough category that it excludes virtually every problem we care and argue about. Flu pandemic, or the worst potential disease you can imagine? Nope. Supervolcanoes? Nope. Massive 100-million-year-unlikely (multi-km) asteroid collisions? If small mammals could survive, some humans probably could. Nuclear war? Similarly, probably difficult to kill every last human being.

    So I think most people would consider something requiring relocation of hundreds of millions of people to be a serious threat to humanity, in the sense of what makes us human: our cultures, shared values, and societies.

  7. Lou Grinzo says:

    On “serious threat”: I take it to mean what Joe does–not extinction but very significant human and economic impacts.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that people who try to look for a reason not to do anything about our emissions like to use a very extreme interpretation of things like “serious threat”; if it’s not human extinction hanging over our heads then it’s not a “real” problem.

    Maybe I’m naive, but this information about the Times does shock me.

    And as for Horgan–this is the Frasier Crane gambit writ large. A pro wrestler is beating us into pulp with a folding chair, but we just know that if we can concoct a sufficiently witty comeback with the right turn of phrase and historical analogy, we can still win over the cheering crowd.

  8. Ivy Bear says:

    There is a great concept suggested by Mike Roddy – how about a real scientist as the editor of the Science Times? There are lots of folks out there who are qualified – just look at the present and past editors of Science or Nature. But then we could no longer have contrived debates about climate change and he said/she said. Plus we might start seeing coverage of the real and solid science of climate change. Right now, I use the NY Times to line my hibernation cave. That is about all it is good for anymore.

  9. Jim says:

    I think a lot of the problem is that for a large percentage of the population the warming that has taken place so far is almost indetectable. I am nearly 60 and I can see some changes since I was young with regard to the timeing of the onset of winter and I think slightly warmer winters normally(not last winter). But the changes seem small and generally for the better. Reading about the changes in other countries I can see that New Zealand is lucky in this regard but most people only notice weather outside their highrise office window. The reporting of climate science in most media today consists of some climate scientist makeing predictions about 2050 or 2100 and of course most people have more immediate things to worry about. I think a bit more rehashing of global warming history would be a good thing. A lot of people think this whole idea was invented by Jim Hansen in the late eighties. I’ve also heard “The Great Global Warming Swindle” story about GW being invented by Maggie Thatchers govnt to defeat the coal miners being repeated by people I know.
    Predictions aren’t going to convince anyone. More weight needs to be given to things that actually are happening and how these things were predicted over a hundred years ago.

  10. ken levenson says:

    I don’t think their ignorance is a product of stupidity – obviously they are not, as Joe notes. But nor is it that they are victims of better anti-science messaging. They may be more than a little ignorant of the science but the real reason for their “doubt” is far more prosaic and depressing:
    The NY Times reporters are widely infected with “cool kidz” disease where “everything” is kept at a level of detachment that borders on disinterest, and often expresses itself in perverse emphasis in the story telling – as they too often will bend over backwards to avoid ever being perceived as an “advocate”.

    The possibility of being mistaken for an advocate is the worst sin – THE. WORST. SIN. And the best way to not be mistaken for an advocate is to not just preemptively “not believe” anything, but engender an active cynicism.

    The cynical cool kid mocking “beliefs/causes” is the m.o., it is the gold standard.

    And what could be more cool and cynical than mocking the worry over climate change?

    And that is the very depressing truth….

  11. Jim Mathews says:

    >> They aren’t dumb. So either they they have been convinced by superior messaging (by the anti-science crowd and others) or they don’t actually know the science: <<

    As someone who has been working in newsrooms for just about three decades (and NOT the NYT, by the way) I suspect it's both: they don't actually know the science, which leaves them vulnerable to superior messaging by persuasive (but deeply wrong) non-experts.

    The Science Times has been declining for years, and this just about does it for me.

    To Mike Roddy: This will sound supremely cynical, but it's probably not direct pressure from advertisers. Newsrooms really, honestly don't work that way. If you want a compliant section (or paper) you just hire people who won't NEED any pressure put on them. So that's how it's done. Influence is wielded subtly.

    For the past three decades, several generations of journalists have been seduced/brow-beaten into substituting "analysis" for reporting, and this is one of the inevitable results: a newsroom (or, in this case, section) staff that doesn't independently discover and verify enough new facts each day to develop its own independently acquired fund of knowledge…which, in turn, leaves staffers without any expertise of their own and vulnerable to manipulation by "experts" who turn out to be shills of one sort or another, rather than having a body of knowledge of their own to call upon so that their analysis can be based on objective fact. It's insidious and awful.

    We've completely lost sight of the fact that it's the method that's supposed to be objective, not the reporter. You use an objective, scientific approach to gathering facts, and then, relying ON THOSE FACTS, you draw a conclusion. When you shirk that duty, you wind up substituting mindless neutrality and calling it "objectivity," and then in that guise offering cranks and serious people equal weight in print for the sake of "balance."

    To dissect the dozens of reasons this is so (declining standards, poor education of would-be journalists, business pressures emptying the tool box, TV news' corrosive effect on enterprise reporting, the conditioning of a populace to be entertained by their news rather than informed by it, etc., etc.) would take many, many blog posts. But the lousy job of covering climate change mirrors the lousy job of covering health care, the lousy job of covering hydrofracking, the lousy job of covering the Supreme Court, the lousy job of covering the wars, and the lousy job of covering (insert your pet peeve story here).

  12. Anonymous says:

    How is that “a majority of the [NYT Science] section’s editorial staff doubts that human-induced global warming represents a serious threat to humanity”?

    Because for most people “serious threat to humanity” = “serious threat to my lifestyle or to my immediate friends and family” and “serious threat” = “something really really bad happening in the next five years”

    Under those definitions it is possible for a wealthy North American to accept every conclusion of the IPCC and still not view human-induced global warming as a serious threat to humanity.

    You’d like to think that NYT science writers could take a broader view, but maybe not.

  13. Bill Waterhouse says:

    We’re in big trouble if the nation’s best newspaper is scientifically illiterate, with the Washington Post, LA Times, and Chicago Tribune no better.

    The key question of our destiny may be whether we get a climate event that is extreme enough to demonstrate to most people that climate change is real (arctic ice melt?), but is not so extreme that it passes a tipping point beyond which it’s too late to mitigate by reducing GHGs.

  14. Mark Shapiro says:

    Clicking through to Horgan’s article, I found the organization he was “complaining” about — the Garrison Institute — which “applies the transformative power of contemplation to today’s pressing social and environmental concerns, helping build a more compassionate, resilient future.”

    Not so bad.

    Founded by Jonathan Rose, a successful green builder and developer. Worth exploring, and maybe participating. For instance, they propose a “behavioral wedge” (primarily simple conservation steps) a la Pacala and Socolow.

    As for Horgan’s dismissive attitude toward rhetoric . . . he is writer.

    Case closed.

  15. lgcarey says:

    What Ken Levenson said nails it — it would not be at all cool for the uber-cool kidz at the NYT to acknowledge as a real problem something that mere scientific nerds have concluded is a virtual certainty (even if it has an uncomfortably high chance of resulting in disaster). Andrew Revkin was Exhibit A (and may remain so in his continuing role of running Dot Earth for the NYT) — a smart guy who has seen a big chunk of the very disturbing science, still proudly asserting that he has never bought into that “catastrophist” nonsense.

  16. Al says:

    Jim is right that “for a large percentage of the population the warming that has taken place so far is almost indetectable.” and unless they’re more globally aware than the average WUWT reader it passes right by them. For a couple of days recently I really thought that the deep red graph of Canada’s winter temp anomalies would be front page news over all Canada’s papers, and be a wake-up call to all Canadians. Then someone pointed out that 95% live right down the bottom, the only part not much affected. Consequence? Hardly anybody seems to know or care.

  17. Mike says:

    “Two sources at the Science Times section of the New York Times have told me that a majority of the section’s editorial staff doubts that human-induced global warming represents a serious threat to humanity.”

    This a called a rumor. He does not have a credible source. Let’s leave the rumor-mongering to those other sites.

    [JR: Given who he is and his bio and the subject, this qualifies as straight reporting. Two sources was the basis for Watergate reporting!]

  18. David B. Benson says:

    Off topic, but Joe Romm and climateProgress recieved not one, but two, favorable mentions in the most recent issue of Sierra.

    Well done, Joe!

    [JR: Wow. Links?]

  19. Larry Coleman says:

    Joe, have you seen the Discover interview with Judith Curry? April issue, available at:
    (Yes, it’s light year long url.)


    Surprising. Disconcerting. Expounds on the economics of GW! You might want to remove her from your book jacket. :)

    [JR: I'll write on it Wednesday.]

  20. Change, It's what climate does says:

    Shoot the messenger.

  21. Wit's End says:

    Jim and Al, I think the warming is quite detectable but people don’t want to acknowledge the significance of even a slight change in temperature. Most species that occupy a niche in a particular climate can’t evolve in the amount of time we have introduced warming to adapt and survive. The web of interconnectedness is too complex, having developed over millions of years. You can’t yank one major component out of the environment – temperature, for instance – and expect species to adapt. It’s in the fossil record. Climate change is always followed by mass extinction. And that’s why the vast majority of people prefer to ignore the warming that is so obviously happening.

    But not all. Here’s a poem published in 1999 in the Vermont Times – and reproduced today at a coffee party forum, by http://zendogblog.net/:


    There is a lot of static on the air waves.
    Turn the dial, it’s all hiss and then some garble.
    We’re in some minor kind of heat wave,
    that’s all that you can hear among the babble.
    Ninety-three degrees up at the airport.
    Four days within September, two broken records.
    Some kid shut up his school by making threats;
    a house a-fire, another woman dead;
    the papers pages filled with theives and liars.
    The truth among the news you barely see
    consumed by all the senseless tragedy.
    Over forty island nations going under -
    very very slowly slipping under -
    by the melting of the icecaps, and rising of the sea.

    © D. Winter

  22. Dave E says:

    #1 I’m not so sure that it’s clear that humans won’t go extinct. If temperatures actually do go up another 5 degrees C it seems likely that we will no longer be able to produce enough food to feed even the majority of the likely population of 9 or 10 billion. If that happens, civilization, and its infrastructure, is likely to collapse. Once our infrastructure collapses, how many people will be able to maintain themselves? Even if you have land for growing food, most of our current seeds are hybrid–you can’t save seeds from your harvest for next year (maybe if you stock up now on legacy seeds you can do that). Once you can no longer get seeds from seed companies, where will you get your seeds? How about fertilizer? If you want to raise animals, where do you get the original stock? It seems likely to me that the bulk of the “civilized” population will die out. The few remaining indigenous people who are actually still practicing their historical culture will likely be in better shape–maybe there will be enough of them to sustain the human race, but it seems like at least a possibility that the human population will fall below the threshold required to continue itself.

  23. FishOutofWater says:

    All who doubt the seriousness of climate change should study the great extinction that happened at the end of the Permian. Yes, mass extinction is a possibility. Catastrophic events have happened before.

  24. Wit's End says:

    Dave E.

    Spot On.

  25. Barry says:

    Stopping climate change poses an immediate threat to hyper-carbon lifestyles.

    Seen the ads on NYTimes, including the Science section? How about the lifestyles of upper-level NYC residents like those editors live?

    It is very hard to convince a person of anything if their privileges depend on them not understanding it.

  26. Yep Dave E. is right. Total extinction is totally possible.

    We forget that predictions go to the year 2100 only for convenience of putting a century mark on the charts and graphs. Without astoundingly radical change, warming continues past 2100 no matter what we do now.

    It seems like denialist skepticism to summarily dismiss the very real, and widely discussed possibility of human extinction. http://localsteps.org/howbad.html

    I know of no polls asking scientists if extinction is likely or the situation hopeless, but I know that more than a few have completely withdrawn from discussing the issue just for that reason. Psychological denial serves as a coping mechanism.

    The book “Six Degrees of Warming” by Lynas was called alarmist in 2007 but the science was validated RealClimate. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/11/six-degrees/

    The IPCC conservatively predict 6 degrees of warming by 2100 You reported thee MIT studies say that we can reach that easily.

    Our civilization’s poor acceptance of information and lack of willingness to change, assures this fate. Unlike any other time, we no longer seek glory and conquest, instead we aspire to survive.

  27. Sou says:

    I understand that NYT is having financial problems, but you’d think that they could afford some science writers who can understand science. Or at least if the writers can’t understand science they could talk to scientists and put together a factual article.

    Yes, it could be that they have given up on science for the transient satisfaction of being uber-cool and cynical about everything. And they might have the attention span of a gnat. And maybe they are dimwitted deniers and think that what is likely to happen 100 years from now should have already happened or it’s not going to.

    Will people look back in 50 or 60 years time at the NYT articles and pretend they reflect the known science of today? Just like some people pick an article or two out of 1970s Newsweek and pretend that was the known science of the 1970s when it was only journalistic sensationalism.

    From what I’ve read, it’s just that the science writers and bloggers aren’t science writers at all – they may be writers but they are scientists not at all. And they think they’ll get more readers by making up stuff or spreading fabricated tales. Do the senior editors know the difference? Do they care?

  28. prokaryote says:

    Is climate change a threat to the survival of the species?

    Yes, because it’s a threat to our food supplie, drinking water, energy security, threatens coastal areas, forest, corals, ocean acidification, drought, heatwaves, flooding, bigger storms and positive feedbacks such as the clathrate gun (methane blurps) or lose of arctic/antarctic ice.

    The climate shifts because of human emission and this threatens all living things.

    Dr. Stephen Hawking:”How can the human race survive the next hundred years?”

  29. Keith says:

    could we put to bed the talk about the unusually cold winter, please? it wasn’t cold all over. we had above-average temps here in the northeast. the records show the northwest was also above-average. moreover, we’re getting mid- to late-April temps here in upstate NY now (65F high yesterday). that’s not a few days, either, it’s been the entire first 1/2 of March.

  30. PSU Grad says:

    #28 is interesting. I wrote a comment early this morning but then deleted it. However…….

    Has Neil Cavuto called to get Joe on his show today? After all, daily high temps are now about 15-20 degrees F above normal. I’m thinking that if low temps 10-15 degrees F below normal warrant coverage on Cavuto’s show, then certainly temps 15-20 degrees F above normal warrant the same coverage, no?

    Probably not. Still, to paraphrase something I heard this winter from a TV personality….”It sure is warm outside”.

    Another thing….when will people start asking why we’re having 30 year floods every 3 years or so? I heard something on CNN this morning about the “oscillation”, but that’s a relatively short term thing. It’s a nice, non-controversial explanation, and might be part of an explanation for the 2010 flooding. But it doesn’t explain 3 major floods in 10 years in the upper midwest.

  31. Lou Grinzo says:

    I agree with the comments above about how myopic people are in looking at climate, in terms of both time and space.

    Like Keith, I’m also in NY State, and the weather here has been incredibly warm compared to historical trends, but good luck trying to get mainstreamers to understand that a sustained pattern of such an early Spring every year would be a very bad thing. I’ve tried to do just that. I point out that it means “nicer” weather here, but globally it means a lot of really bad effects. Try to give them details and their eyes glaze over. I have no idea how to break that conceptual logjam, especially with basically no help from the media.

    I think the best we can hope for at this point is an event that shocks us into action. I shudder to think how big such an event would have to be before it had the desired effect on voters and consumers.

  32. SecularAnimist says:

    Is anthropogenic global warming and consequent climate change a threat to the survival of the human species?

    Of course not. The “top one percent” will survive. Indeed, that’s why they are making a more than usually ruthless and rapacious effort to consolidate as much wealth and power in their hands as possible, because they will need it if they are going to command the resources necessary to survive the collapse of the Earth’s biosphere in domed, climate-controlled nuclear-powered cities protected from the starving multitudes by private armies.

    After all, they don’t really need the other 99 percent of humanity any more, and don’t give a damn if we starve to death. From their point of view it would actually be an improvement to get rid of the surplus population. And as for other species going extinct, they figure they can clone and factory-farm the ones that are good to eat, and screw the rest, they just clutter the place up anyway.

    And of course, a majority of the editorial staff of the NYT science department is foolish and gullible enough to identify with their corporate masters, imagining that they too will be part of the tiny, ultra-wealthy, ultra-powerful elite that will survive the AGW catastrophe. So of course they don’t see it as a “serious threat”.

  33. fj2 says:

    Personally, hearing about John Horgan again is hilarious since he wrote:

    “The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age” June 1997

    ISBN-13: 9780553061741 and ISBN 0553061747

    But, it seems the book has done well with good reviews:

    Publishers weekly
    “There are more than 50,000 copies in print of this study which argues that the greatest scientific discovers have already been made.” (June)

    Although if my sense of scientific history serves me well, it was right before Einstein made his discoveries that they were saying the same thing.

  34. fj2 says:

    31. fj2 (continued) John Horgan’s book “The End of Science” June 1997

    Of course “The End of Science” preceded or was somewhat coincident with the discovery of dark matter and that we could not account for most of the matter in the universe, cracking of the human genome and the idea that epigenetics may be more important than genetics, and breakthroughs in the understanding of human consciousness by Francis Crick and Christof Koch (neuronal correlates of conscious in “The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach”), and others . . .

  35. I agree with commenter # 10, Ken Levenson, that the NY Times adopts a cool attitude and likes to stress stories that cut against the grain. Though I haven’t read John Tierney lately, he was the epitome of this attitude, delighting in taking jabs at conventional environmental wisdom, often with only the thinnest excuse for doing so.

    But there are additional issues. One concern I’ve had is that they lack any regular columnist with scientific background, as far as I can tell. Timothy Egan wrote a couple wonderful guest columns on environmental issues, then veered off into social matters.

    I’ve pointed out some very biased reporting on multiple occasions by the NY Times on CFLs, which consistently bury anything positive about the light bulbs at the end of predominantly negative articles. (www.princetonproject.org)

  36. prokaryote says:

    32, love your comment and so true. 1 billion dollar for the entrance to your ark?

  37. David B. Benson says:

    Joe Romm — Sierra is the Sierra Club bimonthly rag which I receive via the US Postal Service. I don’t know whether there is an on-line copy.

  38. Per 33 & 34 fj2 and Horgan’s End of Science: that book also suffers from some rather poor scholarship. He tried to claim that it was a myth that anyone ever “really” asserted that science was approching its end in the past. But even a casual examination of genuine history of science is sufficient to falsify Horgan’s announcements. But he reviews well, while Gerald Holton is ignored?


    (Also, the “discovery” of dark matter — in point of fact, the stuff is still waiting to be “discovered”. The idea of it was manufactured in order to account for the failure of galaxies to spin in accordance with Standard Model gravitational theories. But every time it is “announced”, the discovery falls apart upon further examination.)