Sunday, April 08, 2007

Global Warming, Crackpot Science, and Media Bias

The AP reports that global warming denier Dr. William Gray is harshly critical of Al Gore and An Inconvenient Truth. Hindrocket thinks the article is an example of liberal media bias.

Here's what he presents as evidence:
  • The article says Gray has 'long railed' against global warming, implying he's a crank.

  • The article implies that the UN IPCC report, released the same day, represents scientific consensus (when everybody knows the IPCC is a political body).

  • It describes his theory as "contrary to mainstream thinking".

  • It closes with a quote from a scientist who disagrees with Gray.

What it comes down to, of course, is that the article is biased because it fails to present Gray's theory as dispositive.

Now, Gray has been saying this sort of thing for a while, as RealClimate noted in evaluating a paper Gray gave at last year's hurricane conference:
Anybody who has followed press reporting on global warming, and particularly on its effects on hurricanes, has surely encountered various contrarian pronouncements by William Gray, of Colorado State University.
The paper in question
begins with a quote from Senator Inhofe calling global warming a hoax perpetrated on the American people, and ends with a quote by a representive of the Society of Petroleum Geologists stating that Crichton's State of Fear has "the absolute ring of truth."
So basically, we're dealing with a guy who thinks James Inhofe and Michael Crichton are the real experts on climate change. I think that takes settles the 'crank' question.

The scientific critique is mostly beyond my grasp, but it certainly seems damning:
None of the assertions are based on rigorous statistical associations, oceanographic observations or physically based simulations; it is all seat-of -the-pants stuff of a sort that was common in the early days of climate studies, but which is difficult to evaluate when viewed as a scientific hypothesis.
Gray relies on out-of-date models, gets the basic physics wrong, and when his basic assumptions are shown to be false he invents a new theory with the same conclusions.

It seems to me that the AP was likely far too kind to Dr. Gray in giving his comments a forum regardless of their validity. That's the bias here--the standard lazy journalistic pattern of falsely 'balancing' the reasonable with the batshit crazy.

[Cross-posted at If I Ran the Zoo]

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