Michael Crichton

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

Michael Crichton (born October 23, 1942 – died November 4, 2008 ) was a Harvard Medical School graduate turned writer.

Crichton back climate change sceptics

In 2003 he gave a controversial lecture about the concept of scientific consensus—which he entitled "Aliens Cause Global Warming". [1] Crichton castigates the scientific establishment for:

  • holding on to established notions, long after the definitive, reproducible observations had proved these notions wrong
  • refusing to examine new research which overturns existing theories

However, Crichton's expertise to discuss these points is not particularly obvious, and many of his examples are poor. He examines the Drake equation—which is about the chances of finding extraterrestrial civilisations—which has nothing to do with the two points above. Nuclear winter has never occurred, obviously, and so cannot possibly have been refuted by "definitive, reproducible observations" as he claims. Within the nuclear winter section, Crichton examines an equation for the effects and asserts that, "none of the variables can be determined. None at all." Which is odd, because the quantities involved as things such as warhead size, warhead yield and detonation height. All of these can be given reasonable guesses to explore different scenarios.

Another example he examines is continental drift, as an example of traditionalists holding onto a "scientific consensus" instead of doing real science. But again, Crichton's views are rather one sided. Continental drift was vigourously debated. One of the main problems with Wegener's theory was that he believed that the continents "plowed" through the rocks of the ocean basins. Most geologists did not believe that this could be possible. They were right. Only the accumulation of new evidence and theory made Wegener's hypothesis tenable.

Crichton recounts the claims about second-hand smoke, about which a federal judge ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was "committed to a conclusion before research had begun", and had "disregarded information and made findings on selective information". But yet again, this is a bizarre example to pick: although tobacco companies vigourously denied the effects of second hand smoke, the dangers are now well recognised.

Within the section about global warming, Crichton asserts: "No longer are models judged by how well they reproduce data from the real world." This is nonsense, as demonstrated by [2].

In an interview in 2004 with the Philadelphia Inquirer Chrichton invoked criticisms of Bjorn Lomborg's work as similar to the reaction to his thriller State of Fear which embraces the views of climate sceptics.

Asked what his opinion on a "scientifically sound view" on climate change is, Crichton echoed Lomborg's arguments. "Climate is always changing. In what ways are the changes being altered or exaggerated by human influences? (No one disputes that human beings are affecting climate.) But which human influences are important to address? And what should our response be?," he said.

"I argue we should not base real-world policies on the present state of climate science and the present state of computer prediction. It is simply not good enough right now... If I suggest to people that waiting gives us access to new technology, they roll their eyes as if I am making some predictable evasion. But it is they who are evading reality. It is sensible to expect major technological change, including unanticipated change... There is plenty for us to do with our money in the meantime. Ten to twenty thousand people die of waterborne disease every day. We could prevent that. We could provide everybody on the planet with clean water and a decent diet," he said.[3] The Copenhagen Consensus group made similar arguments and recommendations.

Crichton does not believe that second hand smoke is dangerous: I can tell you that second hand smoke is not a health hazard to anyone and never was, and the EPA has always known it [4].

Crichton discusses Global Warming with George W. Bush

Political writer Fred Barnes’ new book, Rebel-in-Chief, includes a remarkable vignette. Barnes notes that early last year, Karl Rove arranged a private audience between the president and novelist Michael Crichton, whose novel, State of Fear , had portrayed global warming as an unproven theory publicized by whacko environmentalists.
“Bush is a dissenter on the theory of global warming,” Barnes notes. He and Crichton “talked for an hour and were in near-total agreement.” Unfortunately, Barnes’ anecdote carries the ring of truth.



  • Michael Crichton, State of Fear, HarperCollins, December 2004. ISBN 0066214130

Contact details

Web: http://www.crichton-official.com/index.shtml

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