60-Second Science

Crichton's Climate Science Fiction

John Holdren, a science and technology policy expert at the JFK School of Government takes novelist Michael Crichton to task for claiming expertise in climate change science, and using it to attempt to influence policy. Steve Mirsky reports from the AAAS conference in Boston.

Some strong comments from John Holdren, director of the science, technology and public policy program at Harvard’s JFK School of Government.  Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Holdren was talking about media coverage of climate change science: “You know, Michael Crichton, who has become one of the most prominent skeptics in the country, was brought by Senator Inhofe as his chief science witness at a hearing about climate science.  I mean, this is a lapsed physician turned science fiction writer, who has the colossal arrogance to say under oath in a hearing when asked by Senator Feinstein, ‘Dr. Crichton, do you actually believe that your understanding of this matter is superior to that of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences?’ To which he happily answered yes.  There’s no penalty for that kind of colossal combination of arrogance and ignorance unless you happen to be a scientist.  There is a penalty for that sort of thing if you are a scientist.  And that puts the scientists at a significant disadvantage in this kind of interaction.”

—Steve Mirsky, at the AAAS conference in Boston

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