Quicky Alert on John Tierney’s latest outrage.

I’m tired; I’m stuck with parts of my day job that I really wish I didn’t have to do; and I have a finite capacity for going over the same tired ground again.

All of which is why I can’t get into the full swing of what must needs be done:  ripping  John Tierney for a really special column today, one of his more impressive efforts at selective quoting, distortion of science-by-insinuation, and accusations that are, ultimately, a projection of his own sins on his betters.

A Siegel over at Daily Kos has already said it better than I would anyway, so go read his diary.  I’ve tweaked Eric Roston, author of The Carbon Age who knows more about this stuff in his little finger than both Tierney and his ego have managed to graps in their entire journalistic (sic -ed.) career.  He’ll get to it soon, I’m sure over at Carbon Nation.

In the meantime, just to give a quick vent to my bile:  Tierney complains that Steven Chu and John Holdren, et al., lie about science to advance their political agenda when they draw on their science credentials to advance arguments about global warming that he, with his deep understanding of the technical issues at hand (his Nobel, perhaps a little delayed past Chu’s is no doubt on the way.  Any year now.  Just wait for it.), finds himself in disagreement.

Tierney argues that, in effect, the default position should be that  it is plausible that these researchers, along with the vast majority of actual climate scientists who have studied the matter for decades, are in fact lying and trying to trick the rest of us into unjustified action.  The notion seems to have passed him by that these and other experts who have warned of the risks of anthropogenic climate change might simply be simply explaining what they understand about the world as best they can.

Poor Tierney, that delicate flower:  he cannot bear to contemplate that even in the face of admitted uncertainty, technical competence might actually offer some insight on how to interpret imperfect results — especially when that interpretation runs afoul of his profitable stance of easy contrarianism.

So he is shocked, shocked to learn that when those who think through potential impacts of global warming are at fault for rigging the conversation by conflating science with politics; whilst those, like Tierney, so deeply infused with the needed intellectual modesty, are truly aggrieved innocents when they suggest that their interpretation of science requires a certain, different course of (in) action.

It’s a profoundly dishonest stance, supported by the usual signposts of dishonest intent — unreferenced “facts;” that old trick of sourcing to “some scientists” or “many researchers” — not to mention a healthy dose of the argument from authority, where the authority in question has already been caught in the act of shading analysis in the direction of the outcome he prefers.

It’s just an ugly, squalid hatchet job.  Tierney has long been a hack with a schtick — he retails that “everything you know is wrong” kind of cleverness — which is fine, when he comes up with something actually surprising.  Here, writing as he does with the odd presumption that there is an enormous conspiracy of global warming scientist/advocates trying to take away our SUVs, it’s just a tired old act.   He, we, and his employers know better.

Explore posts in the same categories: bad writing, Climate follies, Journalism and its discontents, ridicule, Stupidity, Who needs science?

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