Saturday, November 14, 2015

So, you wanna debate Michael Crichton's fraud?

I made some edits for clarity this morning, I can't deny this post is about Crichton - but the more important point is examining and understanding how serious science gets twisted and manipulated for fun and profit.

The obscene conflation of fiction and reality - it has terribly disconnected people from an awareness and "appreciation" for this planet we depend on for everything, and it's going to bite us.  Those who intend to get through need to get to understand these tactics.  (10:25am 11/15/15)
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A fella was offended that I dissed Michael Crichton in the comments section of a YouTube video of his 2008 appearance on the Charlie Rose show.  Considering I still hear people using Crichton's science-fiction thriller State of Fear as though it were some serious guide which justifies distrusting and ignoring today's fact based climate science understanding, I find the once quite interesting writer turned himself into a sociopath and I'm not going to let Mr.X.'s criticism go unexamined.  I'll back up my opinions with links to many more authoritative and informative articles that dissect and explain his intentionally malicious errors.

Mr.X.  (11/14/15) writes
(1/4) +citizenschallenge, Michael Crichton was a vastly more intelligent man than you and I both could ever hope to be stranger. The man was far more than a "fiction writer". He was a doctor, anthropologist, biographer, and yes a talented writer and motion picture producer. 
Oh dear, I though climate science contrarian types loath appeals to authority?  Aren't you forgetting this is about misrepresenting important climate science for political motives?

Mr.X., please why does Crichton's excellent background in etcetera - trump the education and acquired knowledge of professionals such as a Schneider, or Santer, or Mann, or for that matter, the collective consensus of a huge global community of experts who have dedicated their lives to studying various aspects of our global climate engine?

What part of Crichton's biography gives him dispensation to misrepresent and lie about the real climate science consensus?  

(2/4) Mr.X. continues:  He used his "fiction" not only to entertain people but also to provoke a social commentary, and make the common man question things. 

There's nothing wrong with questioning the common consensus, nor is there anything wrong with pointing out the flaws in linear thinking. If you cannot at least appreciate that... 
Provoking social commentary is supposed to be a constructive act, and it's one thing to challenge with provocative ideas, but provoking fraud is quite another matter!

There is everything wrong with misrepresenting real facts in order to make specious arguments that contribute to general confusion about something as critically important as understanding climate science.  Below I've shared what full-time professional climate experts have to say about Crichton's claims.

Crichton Thriller State of Fear

Michael Crichton's book State of Fear has characters debating data (complete with graphs and footnotes) and concepts that cast doubt on the validity of global warming evidence. This doubt is echoed in the author's message at the end of the novel and in public interviews. Readers may understandably take away some misconceptions from his book. To clear up these misconceptions, we have selected some representative cases to discuss; the list below, however, is not intended to be an exhaustive list of the errors in Crichton's book.
  1. How was Michael Crichton able to take the same data that climate scientists use and come to the conclusion that global warming isn't a real threat? 
  2. State of Fear uses graphs that don't show a warming trend. How can specific locations show cooling if global warming is happening?
  3. What is the "urban heat island effect" and is it contributing to warming?
  4. Crichton argues that C02 in the atmosphere is not closely correlated with warming trends. So why is C02 blamed as a greenhouse gas?
  5. Several times Crichton notes that glaciers are expanding not retreating. Is this accurate or only part of the story?
  6. Michael Crichton says we can't predict the future. Does this preclude our taking steps to reduce heat trapping gas emissions?
  7. Why do we have to act now to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels?

Michael Crichton’s State of Confusion - December 13, 2004

The issues Crichton raises are familiar to those of us in the field, and come up often in discussions. Some are real and well appreciated while some are red herrings and are used to confuse rather than enlighten. ...

(... A couple thousand words worth of detailed review of over half a dozen major misrepresentations ...)

... Finally, in an appendix, Crichton uses a rather curious train of logic to compare global warming to the 19th Century eugenics movement. He argues, that since eugenics was studied in prestigious universities and supported by charitable foundations, and now, so is global warming, they must somehow be related. Presumably, the author doesn’t actually believe that foundation-supported academic research ipso facto is evil and mis-guided, but that is an impression that is left.

In summary, I am a little disappointed, not least because while researching this book, Crichton actually visited our lab and discussed some of these issues with me and a few of my colleagues. I guess we didn’t do a very good job. Judging from his reading list, the rather dry prose of the IPCC reports did not match up to the some of the racier contrarian texts. Had RealClimate been up and running a few years back, maybe it would’ve all worked out differently…

Michael Crichton’s State of Confusion II: 
Return of the Science - 12/15/2004

Our first post on Crichton’s new novel “State of Fear” hits most of the key points, though there are a few more errors in the book that we hope to expand upon in future posts. 
No longer are models judged by how well they reproduce data from the real world-increasingly, models provide the data. As if they were themselves a reality
Crichton should know that this assertion is false. ...
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Crichton then goes on to make the classic error of confusing “weather” and “climate”:
Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we’re asked to believe a prediction that goes out 100 years into the future? ...
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And finally, we get this complaint from Crichton: 
Certainly the increased use of computer models, such as GCMs, cries out for the separation of those who make the models from those who verify them which we again find puzzling. 
Again, if Crichton has read the IPCC report, he should be aware of the fact that ...

"Bad fiction, worse science." 
Review of State of Fear, by Michael Crichton. 
By Miller, Alan. 
Issues in Science and Technology 22, no. 2 (Winter 2006).

The Inquisition of Climate Science'

 – A Book Review by Michael Ricciardi | July 13th, 2013

The Inquisition of Climate Science by James Lawrence Powell is an essential literary resource for understanding how modern climate science is conducted, and equally, for understanding how climate change denialism has evolved and continues to undermine the public interest, to its great peril.

Powell’s title smartly preempts the spurious notion of a “fair and balanced” debate by positioning its material in a modern day version of Galileo’s “heretical” conflict with the Roman Church and its brutal enforcement program: The Holy Inquisition. It is doubly smart because, quite recently (in a debate just prior to the presidential election), a Republican candidate — in a remarkably ironic and non-self-aware moment — alluded to Galileo’s trials with the Church to paint his views (on climate matters and others) as being similar to Galileo’s situation (Galileo would ultimately be vindicated by history and by stronger scientific evidence).

I recall that a few political pundits commented on this surprising statement after the 2012 debate, noting that Galileo was presenting a new scientific theory/model which directly opposed a rigid, theologically entrenched, human-centric, model of the universe. One could write an entire thesis on this ironic utterance, but suffice to say, that Powell, thankfully, restores this historical allusion to Galileo to its proper scientific context.

Brief History of Climate Change
... brings us up to date through some two centuries of climate science —

Climate Change Skepticism and Denialism: The Cast of Characters.
Over the course of several chapters, Powell introduces us to the many names, organizations and artifacts behind the climate denialist movement ...

Dismantling Anthropogenic Climate Change Denialism
In reading Powell’s book, one quickly and increasingly grows aware of how extensive (and well-financed) is the campaign to discredit mainstream climate science and the researchers who engage in it ...

Overall, I strongly recommend The Inquisition of Climate Science to anyone and everyone desiring a clear and comprehensive understanding of where climate science is now and how the science got here.

But I would go further: the book should be mandatory reading in every high school science class in the country. For, it is that generation — and its off-spring — which will live to see most of the myriad impacts of human-caused climate change and the consequences of so many wasted years of inaction due largely to the duping power of oil industry-backed, denialist propaganda and misinformation.

I will end here where the book begins — with this prescient quote from Carl Sagan:
“We have designed a civilization based upon science and technology and at the same time have arranged things so that almost no one understand anything at all about science and technology. This is a clear prescription for disaster. We may for a while get away with the mix of ignorance and power but sooner or later it is bound to blow up in our face.”

(3/4) Mr.X.:  Then you are a hell of lot dumber than you think you are. Even if I disagree with the man on a few points here and there in his works and public speeches 
Rather than clarity and educating about a critically important matter, Crichton was all about adding to the confusion and doing so for personal profit.  

By traditional standards of ethics that makes him a loathsome character.

A review of the distorted plot and politics in Michael Crichton’s State of Fear
By David Roberts on 2 Feb 2005 

... In many books of this ilk, authors work up a certain level of suspense by following several characters’ storylines at once, cutting back and forth at each cliffhanging juncture. In State of Fear, however, the reader is shackled throughout to dim-witted lawyer Peter Evans. It’s a peculiar choice, since in a book full of characters with exactly one personality trait, Evans is set apart only by having exactly none.

Perhaps it is fitting, though, since Evans is a cipher, a blank slate, and as such an appropriate stand-in for the reader, whom Crichton means to lecture and manipulate so transparently that an intellectual pulse would be merely a hindrance. It’s ironic that in excoriating scientists and the public for insufficient analytical skepticism, Crichton has produced a book that demands a sponge-like passivity on the part of those reading it.

The Plot Thins ...
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Review of Michael Crichton's State of Fear
By Jeffrey Masters, Ph.D. — Director of Meteorology, Weather Underground, Inc.
(4/4) Mr.X.:  I still admit he has made many valid points over his career and has introduced the common man to many aspects of science and critical thinking.

Yeah, like what?  

What does it have to do with understanding climate science?  
Do you have any examples of this critical thinking related to climate science?

You imply he's a noble fellow, I'm curious if you're familiar with Crichton's sleazy side?  

Michael Crichton Fictionalizes Critic As Child Rapist"

"When you're a famous author and some uppity journalist writes a 3,700 article lambasting you, how do you fight back? A withering, razor-sharp retort, sent into the editor? By holding your head high, confident you make more per word than your attacker does per story?

Well, close: if you’re Michael Crichton, you write a novel featuring your critic, The New Republic’s Michael Crowley, as a small-dicked child rapist named Mick Crowley. Here’s the charming passage Crichton wrote about Mick/Mike in his new novel, Next: ..."


Incidentally, here's a quote I can relate to it.  
Planet Earth's novelist of doom. 
By Bryan Curtis - Slate - December 2004 
"... For Crichton's fans, this has got to be heartbreaking: The boy-novelist who engineered a tyrannosaurus in Jurassic Park and mysterious pathogens from outer space in The Andromeda Strain has become a political pamphleteer, a right-wing noodge. ..."
It's probably at the root of my anger and sense of betrayal and resentment towards the man.  You see I too read a few of Crichton's books and articles over the decades and always liked the guy.  But then I read State of Fear, then I studied parts of it, and then oh what I would have given to confront the man in person and corner him on some of his malicious garbage.  
But alas, so it goes.


citizenschallenge said...

Well P's response was quick and furious and consisted of a threat to flag me at YouTube.
Hmmm, apparently people have the right to say anything they like in the comments,
but you'd better not engage them in a serious manner -
and lordie lordie better not use their words as an example and learning tool.

But there you go.
Buttonhole a climate science contrarian, confront them with their misrepresents,
first comes the arm-waving and vacuous arguments,
respond with substance,
then come the insults, threats and silence.

citizenschallenge said...

Oh and since my new pal took such umbrage at me responding to his challenge,
I've done him the courtesy of replacing his screen name with Mr.X.

citizenschallenge said...

One week and no Crichton defenders step up.
Typical. . .
Like my pal big P - great on the attacks from behind the bushes,
but ask him to stand up like a man and discuss the issue and poof, gone like the wind.

Off to raise havoc somewhere else, I imagine.