I Made an Error. I Now Correct It.

By Chris Mooney | April 8, 2009 8:15 am

So, it turns out that a lot of us got so wrapped up in debunking George Will’s serious errors about climate science that we were blinded to a much more mundane error, and thus unwittingly repeated it.

In his original controversial column, “Dark Green Doomsayers,” Will referred to an organization called the “Arctic Climate Research Center” at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Problem is, there’s just no such thing. Yeah, there are Arctic ice experts there, and a website and everything–but no center.

But many of us didn’t imagine this kind of mistake possible and so repeatedly referred to the same nonexistent organization. Whoops.

Brad Johnson at the Wonk Room was the first to catch the error, which apparently originates with one Michael Asher. Carl Zimmer has already run his own correction. I now join the crowd. Sorry folks, we try to avoid these things…and when something like this slips through, we correct it promptly.

Comments (8)

  1. Ahcuah

    How dare you promptly correct it?

    Don’t you know that the official George Will-approved way is to just keep repeating it over and over, with fingers in ears while singing la-la-la?

  2. Michael

    Thank you, Ahcuah, for perfectly describing the global warming alarmists.

  3. Jon Winsor

    Michael, we seem to always hear the same vague, non-specific accusations from people like yourself.

    You would think, if you’re depicting yourselves as the level-headed people in the discussion, that you’d at least take care to get the basic stuff right. This mistake that Chris is apologizing for was originally the fault of Michael Asher and George Will.

    How seriously can we take Will and his sources if his column is this riddled with basic and sloppy mistakes?

  4. Michael

    Will is a political pundant and baseball historian, not a climate expert or scientist. I take his views on those subjects with a huge dose of skeptical salt. Jon, your attack is blatant ad hominem, as you have no real idea about what kind of person I am. I am a free thinker, and have no political or philosophical dogmatic views. George Will can make some valid points on politics sometimes, but a climate expert he isn’t. As is not Albert Gore, for example. I refuse to allow any pundant or politician to affect my scientific opinions and views. In addition, concensus should never be the basis for valid science. The ‘facts’ on climate change are far more complex than most people realize, and some individual research is warranted.

    Personally, I believe we are in a significant cooling trend which will last perhaps 20-30 years, or even more. This trend is caused by megafactors, and not by microfactors like the percent of CO2 that may be current in the atmosphere. Unfortunately this issue has been politicized to the point of absurdity, and I see otherwise rational people taking a side based on their own political views while mis-interpreting or ignoring the science. George Will has done this, unfortunately. That’s why I avoid any hint of political posture when trying to determine the validity of the conflicting climate change positions.

  5. Michael

    I’ll add a postscript here. I don’t use any informatiom from places like the Heartland Institute, for example. That organization has a blatant political/religious agenda that perverts the science to suit it’s own needs. It has at least some tacit support from/for the ID creationists total pseudo-science balderdash, and is disqualified in my book from serious scientific inquiry. Sadly, there are hundreds of organizations that are using the climate change issue to promote their own political or religious agendas. This ultimately sours the public on science and is destructive to critical and skeptical thinking.

  6. Trent1492

    @ Michael,

    So what would the evidence look like that would convince you? Now note, I am not looking for all the reasons you disbelieve, but for what would convince you.

  7. Dark tent

    What, no “Arctic Climate Research Center”?

    You should resign Chris (from whatever organization it is you work for, and if you work for yourself, you should quit that too) before you do any more damage.

    Next thing we know you’ll be telling all the little kids who surf the web that “there’s no Santa Claus — not according to the records of the Arctic Climate Research Center at U of Illinois, at least”.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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