Tuesday, June 27, 2006

David on Lindzen

Laurie David of the Huffington Post, wife of billionaire TV producer Larry David, calls climatologist Richard Lindzen "discredited."

That's unfair and a cheap shot. Lindzen is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and holds an endowed chair at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They don't give those to crackpots. The guys on RealClimate pay him a lot of respect, even as they counter his arguments--in fact, they pay him respect by taking them seriously enough to be countered. (That's how it should be in science.) In this November 2001 Scientific American profile of Lindzen, James Hansen says of one particular point of Lindzen's,
Goddard's Hansen says that by raising this possibility Lindzen has done a lot of good for the climate discussion
even as he thinks Lindzen is wrong.

If Lindzen is mostly right about anthropogenic global warming, he's certainly not "discredited." Even if he is mostly wrong about it, he is still credible. Einstein was wrong about the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics (the probabilistic interpretation of the wavefunction), but that did not make him discredited.

I'm sure Lindzen knows a hundred times more about the climate than Laurie David ever will, and that makes him more credible than her regardless of who is on the "right side" of the issue. I'd love to see a debate between the two.


Thomas Palm said...

Lindzen isn't discredited as a scientist, but I'm not sure that's what David means either. However, his credibility when it comes to the opinion pieces he often writes isn't that good.

If you claim that satellites show no warming or cherry pick, claiming the warming trend ended in 1998 you aren't to be taken seriously, no matter what scientific credentials you have!

Mitch said...

I agree with Thomas...

Also, Lindzen once tried to convince me that scientists who advocate for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent global warming are akin to the eugenicists who used "science" to prevent more immigrants from entering the U.S.

I've no problem with his science, but his politics are out there and his op-eds are full of holes.

On the other hand, I'm not sure what one needs to do these days to become politically "discredited." You can turn on Fox News any night of the week and find "news" anchors spouting so much hateful nonsense that I have to conclude thet Lindzen is well within the mainstream... MIT credentials not withstanding

Dano said...

We should be careful about conflation, as conflation is a denialist/contrascientist tactic.

Lindzen's science may not be discredited (IR iris notwithstanding), but his use of language in public certainly, as Thomas said, we can't take him seriously.