New Freakonomics Book Features Lazy Climate Change Contrarianism
The internet was atwitter (yes, that used to mean something on its own) this past weekend over news that the sequel to the popular pop-economics tome Freakonomics (the ad wizards went with SuperFreakonomics as the title of the follow up act) featured a chapter on climate change that advanced some unpopular thinking on the subject. The TNR blog said "Levitt and Dubner just parachute into the field of climate science and offer some lazy punditry on the subject dressed up as 'contrarianism,'" and goes on:In just a few dozen pages, Dubner and Levitt manage to repeat the myth that the scientific consensus in the 1970s predicted global cooling (quite untrue), imply that climatologists are unaware of the existence of water vapor (no, they're quite aware), and traffic in the elementary misconception that CO2 hasn't historically driven temperature increases (RealClimate has a good article to help with their confusion).The author's colleague Paul Krugman at The New York Times wonders if they are "unforgivably wrong."Umair Haque jumped into the conversation today, offering both a nice collection of punditry on the topic, as well as his own take, which is summarized thusly: "It's interesting, and it's cute. But it's built on assumptions that are already perhaps obsolete, and need deep revision. ... I enjoyed Freakonomics, as I enjoyed the fifty or so imitators that followed. Yet, they are to economics what Friends is to culture."UPDATE: The Freakonomics guys will have a response up on their blog in a few days time, and in the meantime, both Stephen and Steven have a thing to say about rumor mills, slander, and reverse-sensationalism.