Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Alchemy of Science-Abusers: Turning Black Into Gray

When you are a corporate or ideological stooge and the scientific evidence doesn't back you up, create your own evidence and you can count on journalists and politicians to declare a two-sided controversy.

There are plenty of good science journalists, but not enough, and the generalists are, generally, in journalism because they didn't do well in science class. So science-abusers on the right-wing extremist side of the political spectrum too often play upon journalists' reverence for getting both sides of a story – even when two sides don't exist.

Such a case occurred recently when the Reuters news agency flatly declared in a story about the cause of global warming that while most scientists believe human activity is the cause, "That does not mean there is a consensus."

Yes, there is a consensus, and even corporate polluters and the Bush Administration agree.

An entire book, "The Republican War On Science" was devoted to this topic, and the current New Republic (Jan. 29) has an illuminating article on how evidence-deniers – in this case economic ideologues – never come up with better evidence but instead try to make black seem gray. (The article is subscription-only; feel free to e-mail me for an individual copy.)

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