This week is the week for giving thanks and probably a time for a bit of introspection and humility. Of course, one of the things I’m thankful for are the folks who read my blog, the modest set of folks who follow me on Twitter and the handful of folks who listen to my Internet radio show. As I was finishing off a slice of pumpkin pie last night it occurred to me that eating a couple of slices of humble pie might be appropriate for today’s post.
The first slice involves a topic that I have never written about in the main body of the blog but I have mildly debated it within the comments section. I am one of those who champions the notion of climate change and calls climate change skeptics ignorant neanderthals. So, man did I have egg on my face earlier this week when some emails unearthed by a hacker revealed some shenanigans going on with the data supporting global warming. Apparently the following damning sentence was found in email exchanged among scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit:
I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [sic] from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.
When scientists use the words “trick” and “hide” it’s natural for us ordinary folks to become a bit concerned. Climate change advocates say the sentence was taken out of context. Climate change skeptics are ready to throw the baby out with the bath water. While I am not ready to throw the baby out with the bath water, this incident does make me reevaluate what government’s role should be in science. I am almost ready to say that our founding principle of separation of church and state should be extended to separation of science and state. I think it ‘s worth investigating whether science becomes contaminated when politicized. I haven’t figured out when is the proper juncture for government to act on the findings of science but I think in the case of climate change it has become uncertain who is the cart and who is the horse. Scientists have always had a problem with pride of ownership that can interfere with their objectivity, but this is doubly compounded when politicians get involved and the stakes for being wrong get too high. If you think a scientist has a problem being wrong, you haven’t seen anything until you look at politicians. Clearly the “climate change movement” has taken a bad credibility hit. We need to restore objectivity and get the politicians out of this for a while (do you hear me, Al Gore?).
The second slice of humble pie involves some intellectual dishonesty on my part. Such dishonesty usually comes back to kick one in the ass and this week I did indeed get my ass kicked. Back in September, I published an article about a census taker in Kentucky who was found hanged under mysterious circumstances. I used the event to prove that the evil right-wing was on the march. The worst offense was the following claim:
Much of the media is approaching this story with caution. Clearly, the investigation is just beginning and this could be either a very bizarre suicide or a “prank” homicide completely unrelated to any political agenda. If either case proves to be true, we should still stop and contemplate this moment. Regardless of what really happened, what are many of us thinking right now and why?
Well, I should have approached the story with much more caution, like not have written about it in the first place. It turns out that the terminally ill census taker staged his own murder so his son could get the insurance. The best part is when I say that regardless of the facts we should still contemplate what happened. This kind of reminds me of when my buddy Rush Limbaugh found out that an Obama thesis story he had covered was a hoax and then said the fiction was consistent with fact and therefore didn’t deserve a retraction.
Well friends, sometimes emotional fervor interferes with clear thinking. When the facts of the case dictate that some right-wing looney tune has gone off the deep end, then and only then is it appropriate to get one’s bowels in an uproar about it. You probably won’t see Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow say “my bad” about this one, but you will see me say it.
MY BAD and I hope you all had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!