On Global Warming, Like Evolution, the GOP is Stuck in the Pre-1859 Past

By Chris Mooney | April 24, 2009 8:51 am

john_tyndall_ca_1885.jpgIn the ongoing congressional climate hearings, there have been some crazy moments from the GOP already. Smokey Joe Barton got schooled on continental drift. And John Shimkus suggested capping carbon dioxide was more of an assault to American freedom and democracy than 9/11:

 I’ve lived through some tough times in Congress – impeachment, two wars, terrorist attacks. I fear this more than all of the above activities that have happened. [Video here.]

I’ve just done a piece for The Daily Beast discussing the latest GOP antics. As I put it:

For Republicans, who still can’t even agree that global warming is real and human-caused, this is a telltale moment. The House GOP minority leader, John Boehner, appeared Sunday on ABC News’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos and confusedly suggested that carbon dioxide is a “carcinogen,” while also appearing to confound two separate greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide and methane. Boehner also mocked the idea that carbon-dioxide emissions are even something to worry about—calling it “almost comical”—and offered no clear plan for how his party would propose to deal with them.

Republicans like Boehner are dramatically stuck in the past—by which I mean, the pre-1859 past. After all, 1859 is the year that the Irish scientist John Tyndall correctly explained how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere “traps” heat radiation, an inescapable matter of physics that, even today, Boehner and his ilk seems unwilling to simply and plainly acknowledge.

You can read the full Daily Beast item here. 1859 was also, of course, the year Darwin published The Origin of Species. Certainly a suggestive pairing, given that global warming and evolution are surely the two most politicized science issues in the United States today.

NB: Compared with Tyndall, pictured here, Darwin didn’t have nearly as cool a beard.

Comments (45)

  1. David Bruggeman

    John Shimkus is the second Representative you mentioned. Probably just a transposition error.

  2. Jon

    A big part of the conservative movement has been the success of “a sophisticated ability to relate ideology to constituencies” (former AEI president Michael Baroody). But what happens when, as Jay Rosen puts it, “the base is no longer reality based“?

  3. Yes, that’s right; keep on touting the attacks on freedom. After all you would know best since you and the religious right initiated them and now proudly spearhead their implementation. After all, what better nouns to tug at the weeping heartstrings of gullible Americans than “freedom” and “democracy”.
    Good luck with the scaremongering!

  4. Brian M

    Um, hate to break this to you but a large and growing cadre of scientists state emphatically that global warming is not human caused at all. Among a recent list:are increasingly concluding that humans have little effect on global temperatures, and that natural causes and temperature patterns continue to dominate. These scientists include Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, and U.S. Science Team Leader for the AMSR-E instrument flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite, William Happer, Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University, Syun-ichi Akasofu, Professor of Physics and former director of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska, Patrick Michaels, Research Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, and past President of the American Association of State Climatogists, David Douglass, Professor of Physics at the University of Rochester, and hundreds, if not thousands, of others. Physics icon Freeman Dyson recently expressed similar views in The New York Times.
    Guess you’ll have to find something else about Republicans to make fun of.

  5. Norman

    I don’t take part in Party Polictics, but I’ve never quite seen enough evidence that human caused carbon emissions are directly impacting the environment, or that global warming is actually a threat to the world. The way I see it, sure there are some changes happening in the global environment, but the green movement seems to have to purposes to me. 1) Profit off of imaginary cures and 2) distraction from the real issues. If there is any man made environmental issue to worry about it’s out ceaseless deforestation which is depleting the O-Zone layer and habitats of much of the wildlife on earth. Of course Carbon Emissions are in no way a GOOD thing, and we should of course seek alternative fuels to oil and coal, but these are minor issues in the global scheme of things.

  6. Jon

    “Growing”? Sounds like the same old list of denier suspects to me, Brian M:

    http://www.desmogblog.com/denier_database

    Check out the list in the dropdown.

  7. larrydalooza

    Seriously… You have it entirely reversed. The Religious Left will push their holy AGW onto the country to quash all other religions.

  8. Note too that the real point here is not global warming science but the ridiculous insinuation that measures to curb warming are “an assault on freedom and democracy greater than 9/11″. Please. Spare us the scare tactics and the fake moral outrage; why don’t these supposedly concerned stewards of freedom actually address the measures themselves and engage in reasoned debate? I just don’t get what’s wrong with the GOP. All they stand for these days is for spreading fear and intolerance. Ban gay marriage. Ban abortion. Ban atheism. Ban evolution. Atheism will destroy this country. Action against global warming will destroy this country. I think the people in this country have hopefully had enough of politicians constantly telling them what not to do and spreading fear among the gullible.

  9. OneHandClapping

    Hi Brian! I see you commenting on Discover a great deal, usually trying to refute global warming issues. Fair enough, we all need a hobby, don’t we?

    My hobby is fact checking, which is clearly NOT one of your hobbies. It’s ok though, I’m sure you’re busy keeping the rest of us safe from that gunman on the grassy knoll and the Illuminati. So I thought I would help you out a little bit, and did a simple google search on the gentlemen you mentioned previously. Did you know that Roy Spencer is a creationist, and believes in Intelligent Design? Maybe that doesn’t mean much to you, as I don’t know your stance on biology, but that speaks volumes to me. And did you know Eugene Higgins is a member of the Board of Directors of the George C. Marshall Institute? In case you were unaware, the George C. Marshall Institute receives a great deal of funding from Exxon-Mobil. Maybe you have heard of them? Syun-ichi Akasofu doesn’t even deny anthropomorphic climate change, he just questions some of the wording in the IPCC report! Scientists critical of other scientist!! OH NOEZ!!! How about Patrick Michaels? I mean, seriously, he edits the World Climate Report, which was created by…wait for it…the Western Fuels Association. But I’m sure that doesn’t introduce any bias into his work, nope, none at all. Last, but not least, David Douglass, who co-authored a paper with the aforementioned Patrick Michaels. Amazing how much we can tell about someone by the company they keep, isn’t it?

    Well Brian, keep fighting the good fight, don’t let those AGW crazies get to you, it’s just a massive worldwide conspiracy to get…I don’t know cleaner air or something, but a conspiracy nonetheless!

  10. Jason

    As a side note, that beard is perhaps the most epic thing I have ever witnessed.

    Perfectly groomed and shaped.

    And does he remind anyone else of Odo from Deep Space 9?

  11. Brian M

    OneHandClapping, actually fact checking would indicate, regardless of someone’s stance in other areas, that global warming is a farce. How’s this for facts — quoted from another article — wouldn’t want to be accused of anything — ‘An intellectual leader of this emerging new science of global warming is Fred Singer, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science at the University of Virginia, and the founder and first Director of the National Weather Satellite Service. He is currently Director of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) — a discussion of the true science of global warming can be found at their Web site, http://www.sepp.org. Hundreds of scientists with similar views attended a recent international global warming conference sponsored by the Heartland Institute. Conference lectures can be found at the Heartland Web site, http://www.heartland.org.
    These scientists note that satellite measured temperatures show that the global atmosphere has cooled over the last 10 years, with the decline in temperatures accelerating over the last two years. They argue that temperature variations throughout the 20th century can be explained by natural causes. U.S. temperatures rose from 1977 to 1998, but they fell from 1940 to 1977. The hottest decade was the 1930s. Yet carbon dioxide increased continuously throughout the century, which should have produced a trend of consistent temperature increases if it was causing global warming.
    Global temperatures were warmer than today than during the Medieval Warm Period — a span of several hundred years around 1000 A.D. Yet, there was no significant human burning of fossil fuels during these periods to cause these higher temperatures and none of the catastrophes ascribed to global warming occurred.”
    I’m sure this means nothing to you…after all anyone who doesn’t agree with you must be a conspiracy theorist, intelligent design, wacko.

  12. tehdude

    Onehandclapping,

    We do not argue that the Global Warming movement is a conspiracy. It is absolutely not, in any way shape or form a conspiracy. Great Lies are never conspiracies, rather, they are practiced completely in the open. The contradictions are openly proclaimed and those who notice them are condemned not with scientific counterattackes, but with methods of social pressure. This use of social pressure rhetoric instead of empirical is indicated of the Great Lie.

  13. OneHandClapping

    Thank you for contributing more information from the Heartland Institute (brought to you by ExxonMobil, Koch Industries (of the same Koch’s that founded the John Birch Society), the Scaife Foundations (owners of Gulf Oil and Alcoa) among others. In fact, many of those same contributors also give money to the Cato Institute. Strange, who would have thought there would be such connections?

    So thank you, Brian, for encouraging me to dig deeper into the world you inhabit. It is very illuminating.

  14. Brian M

    Current estimates are that Al Gore has made $100 million off of “global warming”. So selfless. Tell me, how many of your pro-global warming studies were funded by far-left wackos like George Soros for example?
    You just go on deluding yourself.
    Oh, by the way, didn’t Newton believe in God? wouldn’t that, by your reasoning, disqualify him from any learned discussion. Guess we should just toss Newtonian Physics on the scrap heap.

  15. Jon

    Don’t feed the troll.

  16. Jon

    He’s obviously been watching too much Bill O’Reilly.

  17. Jon

    George Soros has all of these scientific organizations hypnotized for purposes of world conquest.

  18. OneHandClapping

    Good point, Jon.

    Good luck to you, Brian M. Despite what you may think, I hope that you are actually right and we are all wrong, that would be much better in the long run. As only time will tell, this won’t be settled in this or any forum.

  19. Unlike you we have the sense to separate Newton’s ravings about religion from his monumental contributions to science. We can actually call a spade a spade unlike many who want to lump everything together under one title.

  20. Jon

    Newton’s physics are repeatable experiments. His theology and such don’t interfere with that. There are plenty of scientists in that tradition.

  21. Davis

    C02 makes up roughly 9 percent of the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Water vapor makes up around 80 percent of greenhouse gases. As the earth warms, more water is evaporated which leads to more water vapor which leads to a warming cycle.
    Humans, with our characteristic narcissism, now believe that we are responsible for climate change. The earth has been around millions of years longer than humans. It has experienced hundreds of warming cycles hotter than this one. Warm cycles have historically been the times in which living things on earth flourished. Plants have more food. Animals have more food. What we really have to fear is global cooling cycles. Cooling cycles mean less food and more rapid species extinctions. Also, in human history, cooling cycles have resulted in the low points in human civilization. The Dark Ages or Middle Ages was a cooling period.
    Some scientists think we are coming to the end of this warming cycle. Get ready for a bunch of commercials on television telling us, “Come on America, do your part and burn all the carbon based products you can.”

  22. Orson

    Jon notes But what happens when, as Jay Rosen puts it, “the base is no longer reality based“?
    Since this thread is about mocking elected officials and those who adore them, let me – for the sake of argument – grant Chris Mooney his point.

    Then let us go back to 2004, when the likes of Senator’s Durban, Rockefeller and Kennedy claimed that Bush was “Worse than” Stalin, worse than Saddam, and (obviously) worse than Hitler!

    Now tell me whose mistakes are more offensively stupid? The Republicans above? Or the Democrats I mention?

    Now tell me why no global warming alarmists can win in open debate with their critics? Hmmm?

  23. Jon

    Yes, I know, Orson, us smarty pants elites have to keep our tail between our legs and pretend we’re not too terribly confident even if we know that two plus two does not equal five.

  24. Orson

    Since OneHandClapping says his hobby is fact checking, let’s look at this statement:

    Syun-ichi Akasofu doesn’t even deny anthropomorphic climate change, he just questions some of the wording in the IPCC report! Scientists critical of other scientist!!

    Akasofu “just questions some of the wording in the IPCC report?” Nonsense.

    “Certainly, global warming is in progress. However, in spite of their claim, not even the [IPCC] presents definite scientific proof that “most” of the present warming is caused by the greenhouse effect, as stated in their summary report. It is simply an assumption. Since the physics of the greenhouse effect of CO2 is well known, and since they thought that no other forcing function is likely to be the cause, the IPCC hypothesized that the warming from about 1900 was caused by it….They [IPCC scientists]… tried to prove their hypothesis based on supercomputer models. They have continued to do so, in spite of new evidence from some ice core data, which shows that the temperature rises tend to precede CO2 rises by about 1000 years, suggesting that the hypothesized relationship between the temperature and CO2 is reversed, namely that some of the past temperature rises may be the cause of CO2 rises. It is very unfortunate that the hypothesis has somehow become ‘fact.’”
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/10/08/dr-roy-spencer-evaporates-taminos-critique/

    Far from merely questioning the “wording” of a document, Akasofu believes the recent long-term warming is merely a continuation of the thermal rebound from the Little Ice-Age. As quoted in Lawrence Solomon’s “The Deniers,” “Arctic warming during the last half of the last century is due to natural change.”
In other words, he rejects AGW and thinks “global warming” is natural in origin.

    Chris Horner’s valuable “Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming” contains an excerpt from a New Zealand scientist (perhaps a spokesman for the “New Zealand Climate Coalition”?) who correctly says that AGW-alarmists embrace a creed, and an intolerant one at that! While skeptics are much more tolerant of diversity of scientifically informed opinion: some think recent warming is real (ie, anthropogenic CO2 enhances a greenhouse effect) but not serious, such as Pat Michaels , but mostly in the latter one)and Robert Balling; others, like Akasofu and Bill Gray, think natural variability accounts for what has been observed (and Roger Pielke, Sr. just might be in both camps; still others deny AGW entirely (Lord Monchton?).

    This diversity and tolerance confuses the creedal alarmists – they believe it undermines the skeptics case – because of their True Belief that evil forces must be at work, like greed and corruption or even “conspiracy,” opposing their obviously “good” cause – despite the fact that most leading skeptics are either retired or senior scientists, lacking any such vested interests.

    In the case of the funding sources of skeptic think tanks, attacks are about funding sources, not substantive argument. For example, oil companies used to fund CEI but no longer do and haven’t for some years. In other words the ad hominem is no longer relevant, but it still exposes alarmists as bad, whiny debaters.

    In fact the “shoe” of economic interest is on the other foot – worn badly by eco-hysterics and enviro-lobbying groups. “They muddy their waters to make them appear deep,” as Nietzsche wrote about poets.

  25. Jon

    Orson is in favor of gambling.

    Tell me, Orson. Do you pay insurance for your car? If so, I’m calling you an automobile accident alarmist. You’re so extreme.

  26. “Then let us go back to 2004, when the likes of Senator’s Durban, Rockefeller and Kennedy claimed that Bush was “Worse than” Stalin, worse than Saddam, and (obviously) worse than Hitler”

    That’s a pretty lame comparison in terms of consequences. I would call out these folks for comparing Bush to Hitler (Godwin’s law, anyone?) but their comparison is not very consequential. Calling out global warming deniers is both necessary and not doing it has significant consequences. Find a better metaphor.

  27. MadScientist

    @Norman:

    The “greenies profiting from imaginary cures” isn’t part of it; if anything, self-professed environmentalists get in the way of any solution other than shutting down all industries and becoming vegans.

    Deforestation doesn’t have any significant effect on stratospheric ozone although burning forests might increase the local tropospheric ozone.

  28. MadScientist

    @Brian M:

    “The hottest decade was the 1930s.”

    Where do you get your “facts” from? On a global scale look at the chart on this page to see the mean temperature “anomaly” (difference between annual mean temperature and some somewhat arbitrary reference) estimated from meteorological stations:

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/20ctrend.htm

    If you’re going to claim that regionally the 1930s has been the warmest decade on record, where are your references?

  29. SLC

    Re Brian M

    This the same Fred Singer who has denied that smoking tobacco is a cause of lung cancer? This the same Fred Singer who has denied that CFCs are a cause of ozone depletion (when he isn’t denying that ozone depletion is occurring)?

    This the same Roy Spencer who denies the theory of evolution?

    As always, most deniers ride more then one hobby horse.

  30. Mark

    Orson brings up the tired canard about CO2 lagging warming in ice core data. No duh, Orson! You think that by pointing this out, global warming is some house of cards that will come tumbling down? You should investigate forcings and feedback mechanisms, something that scientists have understood for decades. In the past, forcings such as Milankovitch cycles have initiated the warming, and then CO2 levels rose and amplified the warming. Currently, CO2 is the forcing that initiated the warming, and other feedbacks can amplify it. Just because CO2 wasn’t an initial forcing in the past does not mean it can’t be an initial forcing in the present. That’s just basic logic.

  31. Gray Gaffer

    Oh, CO2 is .03%, not 5%. Michele Bachmann made a similar error of fact (amongst may others). Methane is even less, but is about 20x more effective as a greenhouse gas (somebody check me on that, please). Window glass also has a similar effect – it can trap IR on the inside and make your room too warm. Like the apparently ridiculously low CO2 concentrations, you can put a thin film on glass to mitigate the effect. In the order of .005% of the thickness of the glass. So be aware that in belittling the apparent percentages as being representative of corresponding effects, that is NOT the way Reality works. The .03% is the result of an enormous balancing act, and represents just the remaining buffer between CO2 production and consumption. It also happens, at that concentration, to maintain our climate within the happy life range. As we humans force that balance point towards the direction that raises the level of trapped energy, the results are correspondingly magnified.

    So leave the arguments based on percentage occurrences in the waste basket where they belong. For example, our physical health relies on, amongst other things, a concentration of Magnesium of merely 0.05%. Double or half that and we get into serious trouble. So does our climate wrt CO2 and NH4. It’s not the absolute quantity that matters, it is the relative effect. And that can and has been measured.

  32. Gray Gaffer

    oops. CH4. Sorry.

  33. SLC

    Re Orson

    Is that Anthony Watts, the 9/11 troofer?

  34. Erasmussimo

    I’d like to comment on Orson’s claim that “no global warming alarmists can win in open debate with their critics”. This is a blatant falsehood. The open debate has been taking place in the scientific literature for twenty years, and the scientific community that judges this open debate has steadily gravitated in the direction of greater confidence in the AGW hypothesis. So at the largest and most important level, his statement is completely false.

    And in the most local and microscopic level, his statement is equally false. For the last few months, I have been providing detailed explanations of the science behind AGW theory. Orson and colleagues have failed to provide any serious challenges to those explanations. I have offered many different arguments and explanations, and the response to them has been primarily to ignore them, and secondarily to change the subject. Orson and colleagues have never directly challenged my explanations, and yet today he is declaring victory in a debate he never even had the stomach to engage in.

  35. Orson

    Since Mark intones sarcastically — Orson brings up the tired canard about CO2 lagging warming in ice core data. No duh, Orson! You think that by pointing this out, global warming is some house of cards that will come tumbling down? — and asks me to look at forcings, perhaps he will deign to do the same: have a look here http://www.climatesci.org/publications/pdf/normwoodtables.pdf
    and do a few forcings calculations of differences, and tell me what you find?

    Similarly, “Erasmussimo” intones Orson’s claim that ‘no global warming alarmists can win in open debate with their critics’…is a blatant falsehood.” “BLATANT”? Except that scientific papers are not generally read by the PUBLIC. DO you have a list that AGWers have won in PUBLIC DEBATE?

    In fact I am so moved by my uncontradicted discovery that I am starting up a web site to aggregate ALL available public debates on AGW. People will be able to vote on who won (or lost), and free to comment and summarize (save for spamming). Debuting this summer, when it’s HOT!(Maybe hot.)

    Erasmussimo again: Orson and colleagues have failed to provide any serious challenges to those explanations.” Perhaps then you have a response to me here?
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/03/31/why-reason-loses/
    NO one has yet.

    Since Erasmussimo is so adamant, then perhaps you have a single paper proving CO2 is an environmental threat for the enquiring Aussie biologist Jennifer Morohasy? I think she’s up to four threads coming up empty, but here’s the second: http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/003319.html
    August 11, 2008 “Causal Linkage between Carbon Dioxide and Global Warming (Part 2): Still Searching for Evidence”

  36. SLC

    Re Erasmussimo

    Our friend Orson is too busy invoking clowns like Anthony Watts, noted 9/11 troofer and Roy Spencer, noted evolution denier.

  37. SLC

    Re Orson

    And now, Mr. Orson introduces a new player, namely Jennifer Marohasy as an expert on climate change. Here’s a link to a debunking of this individual. Mr. Orson shows why he cannot be taken seriously by anybody interested in the issue of climate change. Invoking nutcases like Roy Spencer and Anthony Watts and right wing ideologues like Ms. Marohasy just doesn’t cut it.

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/08/the_australians_war_on_science_19.php

  38. Orson

    SLC Says:
    April 27th, 2009 at 3:29 pm
    Re Erasmussimo
    Our friend Orson is too busy invoking clowns like Anthony Watts, noted 9/11 troofer and Roy Spencer, noted evolution denier.

    AND Sir Issac Newton was a creationist who practiced alchemy. So obviously the Enlightenment was all wrong!

    Vice President Al Gore got below average “D” grades in science from Harvard, and never completed any grad school training, dropping out twice. Still, if James Hansea and Lonnie Thompson approve of Core’s “documentary” obviously I am a heretic who must be burned for my dissent….

    Now, any one interested in science on an alleged “science blog”? Apparently NOT! How inconvenient….

  39. Orson

    The trouble with True Believers is that they fail to do any hard thinking. Regarding the above AGW True Believers, QED.

  40. Orson

    Mark warns us of “heat is in the pipeline” argument with these words:
    “Just because CO2 wasn’t an initial forcing in the past does not mean it can’t be an initial forcing in the present. That’s just basic logic.” No, Mark.

    Climatologist Roger A. Pielke, Sr, responded to this argument here
    http://climatesci.org/2009/03/09/further-comments-regarding-the-concept-heating-in-the-pipeline/

    In short, if the proper metrics for heat are used, there is no masked heating in the climate system. THAT’S just basic logic.

  41. Erasmussimo

    Orson, I was off lecturing on April 27th when you posted your response, so I did not notice it.

    You started off with this remark regarding the scientific debate:

    “Except that scientific papers are not generally read by the PUBLIC. DO you have a list that AGWers have won in PUBLIC DEBATE?”

    You seem to think that this debate should be carried out on prime-time television with cheerleaders in short skirts rah-rahing for their side. I’m sorry, but scientific debate is far too serious to be carried out in the wimpish manner you suggest. It’s intense, it’s complicated, and it’s detailed. It doesn’t reduce to sound bites. But it is most certainly public. You can go into any public library and read many of the key papers; many others you can obtain on the Internet. If you do not wish to go to the trouble to follow these highly technical debates, that’s your problem.

    Next you offer the old “hot spot” argument as solid disproof of the AGW hypothesis. But the only sources you provide are based on a calculation by Steve McIntyre. That’s all well and good, but until his calculations are published in the form of a scientific paper, you really have no solid basis for relying on them. So I put the question to you: has Mr. McIntyre written a paper presenting his analysis? Has he submitted that paper for publication? Has it been published? If so, where there any formal published papers responding to it? Once we have a proper track record to deal with, we can discuss this matter. Until then, it’s all a bunch of hot air.

    Next, you offer this challenge:

    “perhaps you have a single paper proving CO2 is an environmental threat for the enquiring Aussie biologist Jennifer Morohasy?”

    It just so happens that I spent some time on that blog explaining the science. I don’t think it was last summer — perhaps it was the summer before that. In any event, I spent about two months on that blog, explaining the science as I have done here. I provided exactly the information that Ms. Marohasey demanded. She didn’t respond, but she had some very foul-mouthed goons who responded with mountains of invective and no logic. There were a few open-minded people who were willing to learn about the science, and they asked plenty of detailed questions, which I answered as best I could. I think I got through to some of them. But after a while only the goons remained, so I said goodbye and left.

    I’m not at all surprised that she continues to demand what has already been explained to her; she didn’t seem interested back then, either.

    Lastly, you cite the Pielke blog on the rather complicated question of tracking heat flow through earth’s atmosphere and hydrosphere. Mr. Pielke’s analysis is non-quantitative. He attempts to prove that a given phenomenon is impossible because — well, because his bunions tell him that it’s impossible. He talks about specific factors that add to and subtract from the overall temperature increase, but he doesn’t stoop to actually offer quantitative reasoning. He has no way of figuring out the relative sizes of the various factors he discusses. He just plunks them down and declares that his wild guesses are good enough. That’s not a convincing argument.

    The “heat in the pipeline” argument is much more complicated than you seem to appreciate. It can be used by either side to prove any number of points. The crucial factor here is that we really don’t have enough solid numbers to use it to prove anything just yet. It’s a hypothesis, not a data point. It could well be true, or it might be false. Nobody has presented a solid argument rejecting the hypothesis. It’s an interesting factor to consider, and I expect that there will continue to be much debate about it in the scientific literature. Until then, making grand claims about it is unjustified. Why don’t we talk about some of the issues that we have a better grip on?

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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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