I first got to know Judith Curry—the Georgia Tech researcher who blogs at “Climate, Etc.,” and has been drawn into controversy for, in her words, “challenging many aspects of the IPCC consensus”—when I was working on my second book, Storm World. I spent a fair amount of time with Curry, and with the other scientists profiled in the book—interviewing them in person, getting to understand their research. This is what science writers do.
At the time, Curry and her colleagues were just coming off a media feeding frenzy after having published papers linking hurricanes to global warming right in the middle of the devastating 2005 hurricane season.
When Storm World came out, it is no exaggeration to say that Curry gave it a rave review. I want to quote in full from her Five Star endorsement at Amazon.com, which is entitled “Science writing at its very best.” Bear with me, this will all become very relevant; and I’ve bolded a few important parts:
To provide a frame of reference for this review, I and my colleagues Peter Webster and Greg Holland are among the scientists that are featured prominently in Storm World. Our involvement in the issue of hurricanes and global warming began when we published an article in Science shortly before the landfall of Hurricane Rita, where we reported a doubling of the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes globally since 1970. When Chris Mooney first approached me with his idea for writing a book on this topic, I was somewhat skeptical. I couldn’t see how this could be accomplished given the rapid changes in the science (I was worried the book would be outdated before it was published), the complexities of the technical aspects of the subject, a concern about how the individual scientists would be treated and portrayed, and a concern that the political aspects of the issue would be handled in a partisan way. Over the course of the past year and a half, it became apparent that Mooney was researching this issue extremely thoroughly and was developing a good grasp of both the history and technical aspects of the subject. Upon finally reading the book, I can only say Storm World has far exceeded any hope or expectation that I could have had for a book on this subject.
The book is surprisingly rich in technical detail, and Mooney has grasped the nuances of the breadth of scientific arguments and uncertainties. He provides a fascinating history with rich insights into the current controversy. The individual scientists are portrayed accurately as well as sympathetically and colorfully. The political aspects are treated in an insightful and nonpartisan manner. I am most impressed by the fresh insights provided by this book, which besides being a ‘good read,’ Storm World is an important and timely contribution that deserves careful consideration in the dialogue and debate on hurricane policy in the U.S. Storm World is science journalism at its absolute best.
After Storm World came out, Curry also invited me to speak at Georgia Tech, where she works.
Given that I got to know Curry and greatly appreciated her support for my endeavors, I avoided criticizing her in subsequent years—even though we were increasingly on different “sides” of the highly polarized web battle over global warming. And for the most part, she didn’t really seem to criticize me either (or at least, not that I noticed).
So imagine my surprise when I came across this post at Curry’s blog, about my new book The Republican Brain. Unlike Storm World, Curry admits she has not read the book. Nevertheless, she cites a variety of critics—none of whom seem to have read the book, either—and uses labels like “neurotrash” and “neurobabbling” to describe what, she seems to think, I am up to.