A few weeks ago, the Washington Post published a fact-free opinion piece on the global warming “doomsayers” authored by the dried up corpse of conservative intellectual George F. Will. Because he uses big words and wears a bow tie, Will has the veneer of respectability. Plus, back in the day he wrote some high-minded drivel about baseball (it’s a metaphor for the human condition!), so that makes him the Walt fucking Whitman of political pundits. Which isn’t saying much since the profession is largely dominated by scumbags, but whatever, he’s their philosopher prince twerp.
In the article, Will attempted to trade on his intellectual cred by constructing a bullshit case against the (rigorous, accepted, verified) science of global warming. Despite a steady drum beat from the environmental community for the Post to issue a factual correction, none was forthcoming. After a couple weeks of abuse, Will decided to double-down on stupid and published a column castigating the “media-environmental complex” for criticizing his “skepticism”, all while managing to muddy the waters with some out of context statistics from various climate research papers. This then forced the Post ombudsman to weigh in so as to ward off the inevitable shitstorm of protest.
Well, more than a month after the original column ran, now that everyone could care less, the Post has finally published a rebuttal to Will’s nonsense. Goody for them. The closing paragraph is a huge understatement.
Readers and commentators must learn to share some practices with scientists — following up on sources, taking scientific knowledge seriously rather than cherry-picking misleading bits of information, and applying critical thinking to the weighing of evidence. That, in the end, is all that good science really is. It’s also what good journalism and commentary alike must strive to be — now more than ever.