Thursday, September 29, 2005
Stranger than (Science) FictionThe Republican War on Science is now employing science fiction in its battles, or at least a science fiction writer. Yesterday Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla), chair of the Senate committee on Environment and Public Works, convened a "Hearing to Discuss the Role of Science in Environmental Policy Making" - mainly focusing on global warming, which he personally considers to be "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American public." His star witness on this panel was none other than Michael Crichton, whose current claim to fame is authoring the novel State of Fear, an environmental thriller that casts doubt on the widely held notion that human activities contribute to global warming, and features evil environmentalists as the bad guys.
The NYT reports on this, Michael Crichton, Novelist, Becomes Senate Witness, in a brief article in the Science section of the paper. The real goods on this event, however, can be found at Real Climate, in this piece: Inhofe and Crichton: Together at Last! This is a blog run by climate scientists, full of factual information, links to scientific reports, and other stuff that is sometimes way beyond my comprehension. They have flayed Crichton several times before for his unscientific contributions to popular thinking on climate change. In this piece they link to Senator Jeffords' (I -VT) statement to the chairman, expressing his doubts about Crichton's presence on the panel. It's simply delicious, I'll give you a taste, so you'll have incentive to check out the Real Climate post:
Mr. Chairman, given the profound human suffering and ecological damage along the Gulf Coast, why are we having a hearing that features a fiction writer as our key witness? Some may accuse me, as a policy maker, of falling into the exact policy trap that Mr. Crichton’s book critiques -- being too focused on the consequences of the recent large scale natural disasters and our nation’s policy response to them.There are, of course, links to all kinds of scientific articles and reports in this post, ways to inform ourselves against popular and fictional ideas. Ammo for the science wars, shall we say.
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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