Monday, October 19, 2009

Superfreakonomics and Global Warming

Dubner goes after the pre-publication (!) critics of the chapter on global warming / climate change in Superfreakonomics.

Some observations:

It is good to know that Joseph Romm, editor of is a lying, ideological hack. Who would have guessed?

Here is the choicest bit:

The chain begins with Joseph Romm telling [famous climate scientist] Caldeira that he had read SuperFreakonomics and “I want to trash them for this insanity and ignorance.” Romm adds that “my blog is read by everyone in this area, including the media” and tells Caldeira that “I’d like a quote like ‘The authors of SuperFreakonomics have utterly misrepresented my work,’ plus whatever else you want to say.”

I understand that blogging, especially advocacy blogging, doesn’t operate under the rules of journalism (where you don’t feed quotes to people), but still: that’s quite a quote to feed to someone.

Caldeira didn’t give him the quote. He did, however, respond point-by-point to a series of statements about him in the book. “The only significant error,” he wrote to Romm, “is the line: ‘carbon dioxide is not the right villain in this fight.’ That is just wrong and I never would have said it. On the other hand, I f&@?ed up. They sent me the draft and I approved it without reading it carefully and I just missed it. … I think everyone operated in good faith, and this was just a mistake that got by my inadequate editing.”
So, let's see. Caldeira gets to review the draft chapter in Superfreakonomics that discusses climate change and that references his views and he gets this opportunity not once but twice but cannot, somehow, find the time to read it carefully? What else was he doing? Unlike most books, you know in advance that this one is going to sell a million-zillion copies. What could be more important than getting this right? Cleaning test tubes? A referee report? What was he thinking?

The rest is worth reading too. I think Dubner and Levitt are far too kind their critics, who seem mainly to be trying to make their point that for many people, this is about religion, not science.

Link via Marginal Revolution

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