By Carl Zimmer | April 7, 2009 8:13 pm

In several posts in my series on George Will’s misleading claims about global warming in the Washington Post, I have referred to the “Arctic Climate Research Center” at the University of Illinois. It has been brought to my attention that no such center actually exists. Instead, there is a group of scientists at the University of Illinois who conduct research on climate in the Arctic (one of whom, Bill Chapman, I interviewed as part of my research).

The phrase “Arctic Climate Research Center” is apparently the concoction of Michael Asher in a January 1 Daily Tech post. George Will has stated that he based his (erroneous) claims about global sea ice on Asher’s post. I can only assume he also got the fictional center from the same source. In writing my own posts on this controversy, I conducted a Google search on the name and ended up on a page with the banner “Arctic Climate Research at the University of Illinois.”

As with any error, I regret this oversight. I am now adding clarifications to all the erroneous posts.

Brad Johnson, who noticed this error, sums the situation up nicely:

Despite publishing criticism of factual errors and distortions in “Dark Green Doomsayers” by Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander, science journalist Chris Mooney, Secretary General of the U.N. World Meteorological Organization Michel Jarraud, Post blogger Andrew Freeman, and Post reporters Juliet Eilperin and Mary Beth Sheridan, the Washington Post has yet to issue a single correction for Will’s column, syndicated in dozens of newspapers nationwide.

Corrections are standard operating procedure at newspapers. It’s fact-checking after the fact, as it were. A few of my science articles for the New York Times have “Correction Appended” branded on them. There’s no shame if the corrections were simple oversights. We all make mistakes, and we ought to live with them. But have we really reached the point now where blogs [shudder] are becoming more conscientious about corrections than the editorial pages of the Washington Post?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Global Warming, Meta

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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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