Frustrated by Facts, Right-Wing Turns to Fiction Author For Policy Advice

Tomorrow, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, led by anti-environment champion James Inhofe (R-OK), will hold a hearing to “discuss the role of science in environmental policy making.”

It’s an important topic, given the tendency in Washington to choose ideology over facts. Unfortunately, Inhofe’s witness list wasn’t available on the committee’s website, so we called today to find out who would be speaking.

We received the following list. As you’ll see, the featured witness isn’t a noted environmental scientist, or an expert in regulatory policy. It’s Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton.

And why would Inhofe invite a fiction author to testify on the role of science in environmental policy making? We think you’ll understand after reading a synopsis of Crichton’s latest book, State of Fear, about a scientist named Nicholas Drake:


Drake is frustrated by the public’s lack of fear about global warming and, hence, lack of enthusiasm for funding NERF [the environmental group Drake runs]. To remedy the situation, he plans a high-profile conference on “abrupt climate change,” a phenomenon that is essentially fabricated. To make sure folks are good and scared about the imaginary threat, he contracts with the Environmental Liberation Front (ELF) — …a sophisticated, highly coordinated, techno-savvy worldwide terrorist network of dreadlocked hippies — to create a series of floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis that will devastate the world on the eve of the conference.

The bad news: the book’s science is apparently even worse than its plot.

UPDATE: In the comments, editor Fred Dews points out that Brookings environment scholar David Sandalow, another speaker at tomorrow’s hearings, also has a column picking apart the bad science in Crichton’s book.