Wednesday, January 28, 2004

James Taranto, scientific know-nothing. I usually enjoy James Taranto, who compiles "Best of the Web" for the Wall Street Journal's site. Yeah, he's a right-winger, but he's got a sense of humor.

Which is why I was surprised to see him rolling around in the muck of anti-intellectualism. Earlier today I linked to a New York Times op-ed by Paul Epstein explaining some of the paradoxical facts about global warming. Among them: though the equatorial regions are likely to keep heating up, changes in ocean currents and the balance between salt water and fresh water caused by the melting of the polar ice caps could actually make the temperate zones cooler. Epstein's was a model of sophisticated, understandable scientific explication, told in an astoundingly concise 455 words.

Well, Taranto saw it, too. And here is Professor Taranto's summation:

When the weather gets warmer, that's because of global warming. When the weather gets colder, that's because of global warming too. "Global warming" thus is unfalsifiable; adherents insist all contrary evidence actually supports the theory. This isn't a scientific hypothesis; it's a conspiracy theory.

The notion of global warming is not holy writ, and it certainly may be subjected to intelligent questioning. But Taranto's not being critical, or clever, or counterintuitive. Rather, this is just simple-minded know-nothingism, knee-jerk stupidity intended as cheap entertainment for the laziest 10 percent of his audience.

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