When it comes to climate change ,WSJ Opinion Journal editor James Taranto has made the basis of its skepticism perfectly clear. Quant fund fans will find no sign of dimensional analysis- he invokes the power of 'intuition' as he avers to " lack the time, the inclination and possibly the intellect to delve deeply into the science."
Yesterday, he provided a splendid demonstration of the high intellectual seriousness of this New Scientific Journalism . All that double-primary-source nonsense the paper's front page zealously adheres to is evidently something up with which Taranto will not put. But is he prepared to put his money where his mouth is ?
Proceeding from a magazine's reference to a survey described in a blog , he yesterday chose only one of the survey's hundred -odd questions, which happened to address religion , and cited the opinion of the sum of those answering that multiple choice question two ways out of four as a metric of scientific authority in the Climate Wars, concluding :
" 58% agree that "as the Bible says, the world was literally created in six days." So according to Scientific American, the biblical story of creation has only slightly less scientific merit than global warming. And if you think the people in the survey are unqualified to weigh in on such matters, they beg to differ: 71% of them agreed with the statement "I consider myself an intellectual,"... We'll bet a high proportion of them read Scientific American."
OK, James : How much do you want to bet ?
100 to 1 That that proportion is smaller than 10% ,
1,000 to 1 That among them WSJ subscribers outnumber those subscribing to Scientific American &
1,000,000 to 1 That fewer still subscribe to any of the top ten peer reviewed primary scientific journals, starting with Science and Nature.
What's really at stake is the American economy, because the most negative impact of unabashedly anti-scientific views may be their tendency to repel the minds of technologists who have somewhere else to go and start their start-ups. We already import a larger percentage of our scientific talent than we do energy . So I'm laying the bet pro bono , in the forlorn hope that Taranto's Editor may read another piece by Christopher Mims. Not the Sci Am column that started this skirmish in the long running comedy of manners that is the Climate Wars , but his Seed essay entitled America's War Against Science
It is as bipartisan as Scientific American is not , and profoundly disturbing. Forget how many nations are ahead of us in science education. The scarily Darwinian fact is that Mexico and Turkey are just behind us , and coming up fast on the inside. In an era of globalization , outsourcing reality may not be a very smart bet , especially for a financial journal of record.