Fun With Fumento

By Chris Mooney | December 7, 2009 9:26 am

You wouldn’t think he’d come around for a second round after this post…but, I guess he wanted to dig the hole even deeper. Here’s his response:

Mooney writes: “In order to lampoon the view that hurricanes are worsening, [Fumento] relies on this year’s weather in just one hurricane basin of the world–it was a quiet hurricane season in the Atlantic (although busy in the Pacific).”

From my article, paragraph three:

“This year ended quietly with the fewest storms since 1997, and for the first time since 2006 no hurricanes even made landfall in the United States according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Indeed, hurricane activity is near a 30-year low.”

Chris, you’re just plain dishonest.

Here is his article. Try as I might, I don’t find anything at all like that in paragraph 3. I find bits and pieces of it elsewhere, but nowhere the striking claim that hurricane activity is “near a 30-year low.”

Indeed, such a claim would come as a shock to NOAA: We’re widely considered to be in a highly active era for Atlantic hurricanes (no matter what the year 2009, an El Nino year, does). Here’s the relevant slide from the Climate Prediction Center:


So how could Fumento think we’re “near a 30-year low”? Answer: Only if he’s cherry-picking 2009–once again, an El Nino year–and inappropriately basing conclusions on one data point in a noisy record.


Comments (11)

  1. Gus Snarp

    I assume he never actually read your book, but just decided to use you as an example based solely on the title? I too can not find that quote in the article online. Is he lying that blatantly and assuming no one will check up on him, or is there some other article somewhere that he’s referring to? Or does he just think we’re all like him and only read titles and not contents?

  2. bilbo

    Why do facts not matter to the Right? First Fumento lies about hurricane data, and now David Frum has an op-ed in CNN spouting off about how climate change advocates (not just the ones mentioned in climategate, but now suddently all of us) “cheat and twist and betray scientific standards and public trust.”

    On top of that, he says that polar bears “are doing fine”…despite the fact that research this very year is shown that the proportion of malnourished bears in the Arctic is the highest it has been in over 20 years. Doing fine? That’s like saying starving kids in Somalia are “doing fine” just because they’re still alive.

  3. Okay, my bad. I was thoroughly confused about what article you were responding to. I HAD just finished and was “shopping” a piece on the lack of hurricane activity over the last 30 years and — yes — the hook was this year’s quietness. I was shocked to find “it” had been posted somehow without my permission. On second glance, I see it’s not the same piece. So I’m going to post that piece on my website before it appears in a publication and provide the URL.

    Meanwhile, my heartfelt apologies for calling you dishonest. You may well be, but that wasn’t proof. I certainly can make mistakes, as we’ve just seen, but I am not dishonest. And you will see that yes I am using 30 years of data as well as the years since Katrina-Rita and this does call into question the blowhards who decided to build a “trend” around two storms.

    Sure would like to see those data on “malnourished” polar bears, by the way. American kids are also malnourished — and yet fatter than ever.

  4. Jon

    It looks like Frum has been reading Bjorn Lomberg, bilbo:

    He of the “cool it, the polar bears are fine” shtick:

    That’s disappointing. I was hoping Frum would inject some David Cameron conservatism into the US scene.

  5. Jon

    By the way, Michael, that Deltoid link mentions a study on how the polar bears are doing…

  6. bilbo

    To add to what Jon said, Michael, you can easily go find that research yourself – it’s all publically available. Surely someone with such strong opinions on scientific topics must keep himself up to date on research trends rather than spouting off uninformed assertions.


    American kids are also malnourished — and yet fatter than ever

    Oh, wait. I guess not. But nice attempt at topic deflection.

    I guess if you can’t win an argument, try to deflect the topic. It is the Way of the Idiot.

  7. Tim

    Bilbo: So you are good I guess if you can’t win an argument, try to deflect the topic. It is the Way of the Idiot.

    It was you who brought polar bears into it, and now that your infantile argument has been debunk you can only think of ad hominem. How telling.

  8. Chris Mooney

    I will be interested to see how Mr. Fumento can successfully make high activity period in the atlantic, which began in 1995, somehow go away.

  9. Okay, Chris, here’s the actual article I originally thought you were disputing that mentions the 30-year-low.

    And now it’s my turn to have fun with Mooney. I can say it’s near a 30-year-low because I’m using CURRENT data. Your data as depicted above are essentially two-years old. All debates should be this easy to resolve.

    And let’s face it, your book would never have existed but for merely TWO data points that actually have names — Katrina and Rita. Never good to base a “trendline” on two data points.

  10. Well, that’s it then, isn’t it Chris? No response to my using CURRENT data whereas yours is two years old. I’m forced to take back my taking back my comment about your dishonesty.

    Yes, you are dishonest.


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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 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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