Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Michael Crichton debunks the "consensus science" of Dr. Carl Sagan
www.crichton-official.com ^ | January 17, 2003 | Michael Crichton

Posted on 01/03/2004 8:45:36 AM PST by Benrand

Aliens Cause Global Warming

A long read, but filled with interesting anecdotes from people like Feynman and Teller. I must say, he sounds pretty conservative.

My topic today sounds humorous but unfortunately I am serious. I am going to argue that extraterrestrials lie behind global warming. Or to speak more precisely, I will argue that a belief in extraterrestrials has paved the way, in a progression of steps, to a belief in global warming. Charting this progression of belief will be my task today.

(Excerpt) Read more at crichton-official.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: climatechange; crichton; nuclearwinter; science; skepticism
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-94 next last

1 posted on 01/03/2004 8:45:37 AM PST by Benrand
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Benrand
I read this speech some where a few weeks ago. Not only is Crichton a great writer, he also pretty much nails environmentalism. Great speech.
2 posted on 01/03/2004 8:48:38 AM PST by EggsAckley (......................... IT'S NOT MY FAULT ! ! ! ...................................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: All
Donate To Free Republic

3 posted on 01/03/2004 8:50:22 AM PST by Support Free Republic (If Woody had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: EggsAckley
he really is good. I thought he was more a pop writer, but there is a depth to his writing that is really good. I love this excerpt. I have always cast a suspicious eye towards this magazine.

Worst of all was the behavior of the Scientific American, which seemed intent on proving the post-modernist point that it was all about power, not facts. The Scientific American attacked Lomborg for eleven pages, yet only came up with nine factual errors despite their assertion that the book was "rife with careless mistakes." It was a poor display featuring vicious ad hominem attacks, including comparing him to a Holocust denier. The issue was captioned: "Science defends itself against the Skeptical Environmentalist." Really. Science has to defend itself? Is this what we have come to?

4 posted on 01/03/2004 8:52:24 AM PST by Benrand
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
When Lomborg asked for space to rebut his critics, he was given only a page and a half. When he said it wasn't enough, he put the critics' essays on his web page and answered them in detail. Scientific American threatened copyright infringement and made him take the pages down.
5 posted on 01/03/2004 8:53:12 AM PST by Benrand
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
And in Green Bank, West Virginia at the new National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a young astrophysicist named Frank Drake runs a two week project called Ozma, to search for extraterrestrial signals. A signal is received, to great excitement. It turns out to be false, but the excitement remains.

Frank Drake is a neighbor of mine. Very fine man. He's taken up square dancing of late.

6 posted on 01/03/2004 8:57:44 AM PST by EggsAckley (......................... IT'S NOT MY FAULT ! ! ! ...................................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
I thought one of his books was basically a mouthpiece to legalize abortion...
7 posted on 01/03/2004 9:04:17 AM PST by Nataku X (A six foot man is six feet tall. A six feet man is a six footed freak.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
Incredible speech...not that familiar with Chrichton but will certainly check his books out.
8 posted on 01/03/2004 9:09:58 AM PST by Moosehead
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
That was one terrific piece. Thanks for posting.
9 posted on 01/03/2004 9:11:15 AM PST by Andyman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: EggsAckley
I actually was a babysitter for Carl [for his son Nick] when I was at CU. Carl was a great guy - used to take me to HoJo's for dinner a few times.
10 posted on 01/03/2004 9:15:10 AM PST by hillary's_fat_a**
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.

Well put. The same could be said for financial and political prognosticators.

Good article, good read. Thanks.

11 posted on 01/03/2004 9:16:46 AM PST by elbucko
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
Bump for later.....
12 posted on 01/03/2004 9:17:30 AM PST by Rummyfan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
Excellent article by Crichton. I read "Jurassic Park" before it became a movie. It echoed many of the themes he brings out here such as promoting scientific "ideals" over scientific accuracy.

No doubt about it, science is the religion of the secular.

13 posted on 01/03/2004 9:17:49 AM PST by DouglasKC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Moosehead
To be frank I was surprised to see him come out against environmentalism--he always appeared to be a liberal to me. One of his earlier books basically was a push to legalize abortion, and his sequel to Jurassic Park had large chapters bashing 6-day creationism. I'm not a literal creationist but if I had to write books bashing political issues I'd write 100 books bashing liberal issues before getting around to creationism.

And his Jurassic Park book, while a good read, seemed to be full of stereotypical liberal themes--big evil arrogant corporation buys island, messes with nature, pays for it all in the end... so I was *really* surprised to read this article.
14 posted on 01/03/2004 9:17:53 AM PST by Nataku X (A six foot man is six feet tall. A six feet man is a six footed freak.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: EggsAckley
I love Chrichton's environmental speeches, esp. his Commonwealth Club speech. I'll post it as soon as I get some coffee.
15 posted on 01/03/2004 9:17:54 AM PST by bootless (Never Forget)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: hillary's_fat_a**
How cool! Frank is so quiet and brainy, everytime I see him I'm scared I'll ask something stupid like, "so, Frank, are there really little green men up there?" Sweet guy.
16 posted on 01/03/2004 9:19:03 AM PST by EggsAckley
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
Great find and a great post.
17 posted on 01/03/2004 9:19:15 AM PST by Snake65 (Osama Bin Decomposing)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bootless
I love Chrichton's environmental speeches, esp. his Commonwealth Club speech. I'll post it as soon as I get some coffee.

I got that one RIGHT HERE

18 posted on 01/03/2004 9:21:23 AM PST by EggsAckley
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: bootless
Here's that Environmentalism is Atheism speech.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1035163/posts

This speech was found on Instapundit yesterday, I wonder why it's dated Jan. '03?

He really trashes the scientific community.

19 posted on 01/03/2004 9:22:04 AM PST by chiller (could be wrong, but doubt it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: EggsAckley
Ask him if the Drake equation isn't usually written:

N = R* • fp • ne • fl • fi • fc • L

Where R* =The rate of formation of stars suitable for the development of intelligent life. Likewise, L (The length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.) is a whole number, not a fraction (fL) as Crichton suggests.

I'm not trying to be an upstart but it seems that the way Crichton writes the equation,

(N=N*fp ne fl fi fc fL)

well, it doesn't make sense.

20 posted on 01/03/2004 9:23:06 AM PST by Restore
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
INTREP - SCIENTISM - kudos to Michael
21 posted on 01/03/2004 9:29:51 AM PST by LiteKeeper
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
In 1849, Semmelweiss demonstrated that sanitary techniques virtually eliminated puerperal fever in hospitals under his management. The consensus said he was a Jew, ignored him, and dismissed him from his post.

Dr. Ignatz Semmelweiss, to be precise. There is a biography of his efforts to prove that the unsanitary conditions of 19th. Century hospitals were the major cause of women's death after giving birth with a physician in attendance (hence the preference for mid-wives). This was especially so, if the hospital was part of a medical university. For those so interested, it is a good read.

22 posted on 01/03/2004 9:30:37 AM PST by elbucko
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Moosehead
Watch the movies" Andromeda Strain" and "The Jurassic Park Trilogy" . The writer is the same person .
23 posted on 01/03/2004 9:32:18 AM PST by Renegade
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Nakatu X
see A Case of Need
24 posted on 01/03/2004 9:32:31 AM PST by GunRunner (Hey ya.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
Posted earlier today as: Aliens Cause Global Warming ....for those interested in the reference..I believe that's the title of the speech
25 posted on 01/03/2004 9:34:05 AM PST by chiller (could be wrong, but doubt it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
I have long since cancelled my twenty-five year old SA subscription.
26 posted on 01/03/2004 9:36:53 AM PST by dhuffman@awod.com (The conspiracy of ignorance masquerades as common sense.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
This is a great piece...thanks for the post.
27 posted on 01/03/2004 9:42:06 AM PST by pgkdan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
A final media embarrassment came in 1991, when Carl Sagan predicted on Nightline that Kuwaiti oil fires would produce a nuclear winter effect, causing a "year without a summer," and endangering crops around the world. Sagan stressed this outcome was so likely that "it should affect the war plans." None of it happened.

I remember this well. Sagan also predicted it would take years to extinguish the oil fires set by a retreating Iraqi army. The Texan oil well fire fighters had the wells extinguished in six months.

I liked Carl Sagan. He began by making science elegant and beautiful to the common folk. He went too far when he went political and started to believe his own press releases.

28 posted on 01/03/2004 9:44:24 AM PST by elbucko
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Restore
well, it doesn't make sense.

It doesn't make sense any way you write it.

29 posted on 01/03/2004 9:47:54 AM PST by pgkdan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Moosehead
I would recommend his book "Timeline" which anyone who enjoys Dan Brown's books would like. He also directed the movie "The Great Train Robbery" a few decades ago.
30 posted on 01/03/2004 9:49:48 AM PST by spyone
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
"Science!"
31 posted on 01/03/2004 9:50:57 AM PST by onedoug
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
Let's think back to people in 1900 in, say, New York. If they worried about people in 2000, what would they worry about? Probably: Where would people get enough horses? And what would they do about all the horseshit? Horse pollution was bad in 1900, think how much worse it would be a century later, with so many more people riding horses?

Ha!

Excelent! Well resoned, thoughtful, insiteful and damn near irrefutable!

He must be silenced!!!!

32 posted on 01/03/2004 9:52:55 AM PST by OSHA (Those who don't use thier taglines should consider all the poor in China that don't HAVE taglines!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: elbucko
I liked Sagan too, Cosmos was excellent, one of the good things PBS did.

But he obviously used his position to perpetrate fraud and that is unacceptable. I wish he were here to debate Crichton.

BILLions and BILLions...I learned what a googol plex was from him and stunned my 5th grade math teacher by bringng it up in class. :o)

33 posted on 01/03/2004 9:53:48 AM PST by Benrand
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
In 1993, the EPA announced that second-hand smoke was "responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year in nonsmoking adults," and that it " impairs the respiratory health of hundreds of thousands of people."

Not that I would that far, however, if I am stuck in a room with smokers, my eyes burn, my throat dries up, my sinuses get clogged and eventually I will start to continuously cough.

Sooner or later, we must form an independent research institute in this country. It must be funded by industry, by government, and by private philanthropy, both individuals and trusts. The money must be pooled, so that investigators do not know who is paying them. The institute must fund more than one team to do research in a particular area, and the verification of results will be a foregone requirement: teams will know their results will be checked by other groups.

They would need to study politicians first. Try to determine what turns 98% of them into worthless dregs who feed off of their constituents instead of serve them as they are supposed to.

34 posted on 01/03/2004 9:56:41 AM PST by raybbr
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: hillary's_fat_a**; EggsAckley
I actually was a babysitter for Carl [for his son Nick] when I was at CU. Carl was a great guy - used to take me to HoJo's for dinner a few times.

Hi! :-)

I ended up on both a TLC and Discovery channel program on astronomy and SETI that featured Carl Sagan as well. :-)

35 posted on 01/03/2004 9:57:35 AM PST by RadioAstronomer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
I wish he were here to debate Crichton.

So do I.

36 posted on 01/03/2004 9:58:31 AM PST by RadioAstronomer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
Just how many turtles used to die to clothe Carl Sagan? Clearly, no longer absent the heat source that turtles and turtle droppings provide, surely there is more Global Warming now, post-Sagan.
37 posted on 01/03/2004 10:01:50 AM PST by bvw
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
I'm not sure I buy Crichton's point concerning SETI (BTW, there are almost 100 FReepers registered in the group "FReepers" in SETI@Home).

Granted, Drake's Equation:

N=N*fp ne fl fi fc fL

Where N is the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy; fp is the fraction with planets; ne is the number of planets per star capable of supporting life; fl is the fraction of planets where life evolves; fi is the fraction where intelligent life evolves; and fc is the fraction that communicates; and fL is the fraction of the planet's life during which the communicating civilizations live.
cannot be tested in the classic sense with the current state of technology - beyond what the SETI project is doing now, a pop science sampling of a narrow band of the sky for signals. And yes, setting some of the variables is a leap of faith. However, as a statement of probability and a yardstick for progress in our exploration Drake's Equation has value. Value for making public policy? No, I agree with that aspect of Crichton's argument.

But consider - hasn't the count of "dark matter" in the universe dramatically increased in the last decade? Haven't we moved from bring the only solar system with planets to a proven fact that other stars have planets? (Thank you Hubble Telescope) We have seen progress on the accurate setting of the variables N and fp. There IS progress being made and as time goes on, hard science AND pop science like SETI will continue to fill in the blanks.

The Drake Equation also reminds me of the Statistics 101 exercise of calculating the probability that two or more students in a classroom share the same birthday. You solve the problem by calculating the probability that NO student has the same birthday. When you look at it in that light - with each additional student the number of available dates that don't already have a hit decreases - Drake's Equation looks better and better. We are getting a handle on the number of stars with planets, something that wansn't possible when Drake developed the equation. As that number grows, then the chances that NONE of the planets has life and that NO other species has the intelligence to communicate [or the superior intelligence NOT to communicate :) ] diminishes.

Meanwhile, I see no harm in running a SETI process in the background of my computer. If I can interest my child in thinking beyond the bounds of the home planet, THAT has value to me.

38 posted on 01/03/2004 10:04:15 AM PST by NonValueAdded ("Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." GWB 9/20/01)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
Good old Carl Sagan.

Carl Sagan "smoked marijuana regularly, convinced it enhanced his scientific insight," noted The Washington Post in a review of the book Carl Sagan: A Life in the Cosmos.

In books by Keay Davidson ''Carl Sagan: A Life'', and William Poundstone, ''Carl Sagan: A Life in the Cosmos'' delight was taken in the discovery that Sagan smoked bales of marijuana and attributed to the weed vital moments of intellectual inspiration.

Intellectual inspiration?

"I had a dream today, oh boy ...... The Engish Army had just won the war" .......

39 posted on 01/03/2004 10:08:50 AM PST by G.Mason ( Oh Hillary? ....... GWB is waiting.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NonValueAdded
Meanwhile, I see no harm in running a SETI process in the background of my computer.

Me either, since I "do" SETI with an actual radio telescope with antennas more than 1000 miles apart.

40 posted on 01/03/2004 10:12:33 AM PST by RadioAstronomer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: elbucko
I liked Carl Sagan. He began by making science elegant and beautiful to the common folk. He went too far when he went political and started to believe his own press releases.

Sagan was awsome in his early career. Sadly, toward the end, he was pathetic -- more interested in smoking pot and impressing his ultra liberal third wife, than getting it right.

41 posted on 01/03/2004 10:14:49 AM PST by Moonman62
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
This is not the way science is done, it is the way products are sold."

I'm surprised he didn't include the tort lawyers who benefit from the junk science.

42 posted on 01/03/2004 10:15:18 AM PST by Zuben Elgenubi
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
But he obviously used his position to perpetrate fraud and that is unacceptable. I wish he were here to debate Crichton.

Yes so do I. "Cosmos" was an opus of the beauty of science. Sagan should have left it at that or stayed on the subject of pure science. He was an atheist, but I like to think that God whispered to him with science. I hope Carl was pleasantly surprised after his death and he got to meet the Creator of the Universe.

43 posted on 01/03/2004 10:15:36 AM PST by elbucko
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
I'm relieved to see Feynman made it through the speech unscathed.
44 posted on 01/03/2004 10:15:45 AM PST by Moonman62
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
Excellent, excellent article. This should be required reading in the high school science curriculum.

One nit I will pick has to do with the Drake equation, and such like. While it is not "scientific," the interplay of theory and experiment in science is not strictly a "scientific" exercisize. Two brief examples. The breakthrough in the discovery of the structure of benzene was made as the result of a dream involving a snake eating its own tail. Did the brain synthesize a lot of experimental data, put it in a blender with inate fear and sexual components, and spit out the resultant dream? Who can say? Nevertheless, the basic intuition proved correct--that benzene is a "flat" molecule with a high degree of symmetry. Another example of "unscientific" science would be the development of quark theory as simply an accounting method for quantum phenomena. It was ultimately recognized to have a physical reality.

This kind of creative freedom is important to the scientific process. Science advances in fits and starts by various methods. The danger of political and ideological contamination of the scientific enterprise is certainly as great as Crighton says, maybe more so.

One final point regarding "consensus science." To some extent this arises because of the need for science to interact with society, especially the "justice" system, in ways which have great financial and social effect. For example, silicone breast implants were driven from the market, and companies destroyed, over a lot of bad science. Part of the problem was that liablility attorneys could find many willing "scientists" that would make unsubstantiated claims regarding the science of these devices. Others strenuously disagreed. The courts said that they had to have some standard to descriminate between competing "expert testimony." Consensus is the criterion they have established. Not ideal, but understandable as a legal principle. But, as Crighton points out, consensus has no standing as to the validity of scientific truth.

45 posted on 01/03/2004 10:25:34 AM PST by Faraday (FReepo ergo sum.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: EggsAckley
Thank you!
46 posted on 01/03/2004 10:28:18 AM PST by bootless (Never Forget)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: chiller
That's the one. He gave that speech last year, I believe. Maybe they're just getting around to posting it.

I wish I had seen it ... AND the expressions of the attendees!
47 posted on 01/03/2004 10:29:33 AM PST by bootless (Never Forget)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: Benrand
Excellent read, thanks!!!

Of course, any scientist can be charged as Galileo was charged. I just never thought I'd see the Scientific American in the role of mother church.

Having observed the decline of "Scientific" American since the 60s, I am not at all surprised.

48 posted on 01/03/2004 10:38:31 AM PST by Eala (Sacrificing tagline fame for... TRAD ANGLICAN RESOURCE PAGE: http://eala.freeservers.com/anglic)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NonValueAdded
Also, unless I'm mistaken, the discovery of lots of planets around "nearby" stars has significantly altered the number that would represent the percent of stars with planets.
49 posted on 01/03/2004 10:48:11 AM PST by Williams
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: raybbr
They would need to study politicians first. Try to determine what turns 98% of them into worthless dregs who feed off of their constituents instead of serve them as they are supposed to.

I already know the answer to that. Politicians suffer from the fault of being human (just like scientists, one of which I happen to be). It is the basest human nature to want to take the easy path, to get something for nothing, or to take what doesn't belong to them. Everyone also likes to be right (or at least to make most people agree that they are right) and to go along to get along.

The only way to counter this nature is by having a code of moral behavior, a set of rules that one lives by and everyone around you expects to be followed with certain consequences for when they are not followed. For politicians this might be a religious moral code (the Ten Commandments might be a good start) and for scientists it is the Scientific Method. Neither of these moral codes are emphasized enough today.
50 posted on 01/03/2004 10:51:45 AM PST by seowulf
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-94 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson