Krugman & Co. & Change

My reply to Paul Krugman and Think Progress’s criticisms of my NR cover story “Scare of the Century” didn’t mention a New Republic <a href="http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20060612&s=editorial061206″>editorial that also criticized my piece. That’s mainly a reflection of the triviality of TNR’s position. But, for what it’s worth: TNR complains that my article “relies on research from three scientists connected to the energy industry.” Presumably this refers to Patrick Michaels, Richard Lindzen, and Fred Singer. To begin with, it’s misleading to say that my article “relies on [their] research.” None of the studies I cited was written by any of these scientists. I quoted them and conveyed their thoughts on other scientists’ work, but did not cite their own academic writings. But so what if I had? Their connections to the energy industry are tenuous at best. Patrick Michaels is affiliated with the Cato Institute, which has supposedly accepted donations from energy companies; Richard Lindzen supposedly received a consulting fee from coal and oil interests back in the 1990s; Singer has supposedly also received such fees, and his Science and Environmental Policy Project has supposedly received a donation from Exxon. (I say “supposedly” because these are the usual green complaints against them, which I have not verified, and which TNR didn’t even bother to spell out.) If we want to play the game of finding out which scientists have accepted donations from which interests, we’ll see that it cuts both ways: Liberal groups also fund researchers whose work is useful to them. But playing that game would be stupid. Whether a statement is true or false is independent of whether the person who uttered it received a donation from Company X. TNR’s comments about my piece are the editorial equivalent of changing the subject when you don’t have a good reply. It’s a shame to see such intellectual sloth from such a respected publication.

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