Monday, December 10, 2007

Gullibility Is In The Air

We can find people to tell us whatever we want to hear. That's always the case -- in love, in science, in war. Trying to decipher global warming is not really that far off, is it, from trying to determine whether or not love exists or poetry matters... we are all just trying to figure out what ground we are walking on, and where to take the next step.

Last week (December 5, to be exact) the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial entitled
"The Science of Gore's Nobel."

Through the course of the article, Holman W. Jenkins Jr., a member of the WSJ editorial board, questions the validity of the concept of global warming and asserts that the entire thing is politics and money.

It may seem strange that scientists would participate in such a phenomenon. It shouldn't. Scientists are human; they do not wait for proof; many devote their professional lives to seeking evidence for hypotheses (especially well-funded hypotheses) they've chosen to believe.

A response was printing on Yahoo News and reprinted in one of the oil energy blogs I've been following:

The bar for Wall Street Journal editorials, in the journalistic equivalent of limbo dancing, keeps dropping. In a piece titled, "The Science of Gore's Nobel " (UPDATE: Open access link), Holman W. Jenkins Jr. of the WSJ ed board, manages to slander the media, Al Gore, the Nobel Committee, and all climate scientists -- without offering any facts to back up the attacks:

Yesterday I said I would be looking into peak oil this week, and I will -- but I think it's important at this point to think about rhetoric for a minute. For myself -- I'm having trouble at this point finding reliable sources when it comes down to some of the greater issues. In part because our country is so conservative, the debates are often taking place in the non-regulated arena of the Internet -- where there is little accountability and often even less respect. It is a relief to me that I know so many people, as it turns out, working in the fields of science and energy -- they allow me the benefit of their knowledge coupled with a personal trust of friendship it is hard to come by in the greater arena.

Really, all we do is trust the people around us to share what they know. We have ideas about who we will trust based on our experience -- and ways that we trust and don't. I trust Keegan to pick my kids up at school if I'm in a car accident -- I trust my father to send me $10 bucks if I need it -- I trust others to forgive or care about me from a distance...

I know that the Wall Street Journal's editorial board is known for its conservative and often inflammatory nature.

I trust the Wall Street Journal's reporting. I've read a lot of their stories, studied some of their mistakes in grad school, know they have tremendous firewalls between their editorial boards and their journalists and their advertisers.

The government doesn't allow us these same safeguards, and the attack on the media is one of the strongest allies in the war against the freedom of information in this country. There are problems with our media to be sure, but seek out good reporters and reporting institutions and you will find the points of entry of most of the major debates we are having.

There are people who say global warming doesn't exist.
There are people who say the debate about peak oil is silly too.

Did you ever hear the joke where someone says -- gullible isn't in the dictionary? In high school I looked it up. Really. (It's in there, by the way.) Maybe that's why I became a reporter -- to trust facts. Maybe that's why I became a poet -- there are no facts.

At any rate -- there are warmer and warmer falls.
At any rate love is not all...
At any rate, there are poems.


by Randall Mann

the relationship between
� � � blackbird and fencepost, between
the cow and its egret, the field
� � � and wildflowers overrunning the field—
so little depends upon their trust.

� � � Here, in God we trust
to keep our cash and thoughts in line—
� � � in the sky, an unexplained white line
could be the first of many omens.
� � � But this is no country for omens,

the line as chalky as the moon,
� � � bleak and useless as the moon
now rising like a breath of cold air . . .
� � � There is gullibility in the air.

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