Journalism, Climate Science, and Activism
In the wake of a troubling new climate paper, authored by the scientist-cum-activist James Hansen, Undark contributor Alexis Sobel Fitts spoke with journalists who covered the publication of the research — and at least one who intentionally did not. The differing opinions have sparked debate among science journalists over Hansen’s credibility as a scientist, his role as an activist, and whether or not the public received an accurate portrayal of the new research.
Check our the story here, and share your thoughts and comments on the topic below.
In the beginning of his book “The Gluten Lie,” Prof. Alan Levinovitz states unequivocally that “an exaggeration in science is nothing less than a lie.”
I don’t see an useful distinction between “exaggeration” and “large extrapolation.”
This story explores an interesting issue, but it seems to contain an important misunderstanding. A “large extrapolation” has nothing to do with predicting a worst-case scenario. Extrapolation means predicting things beyond the range for which one has data and, accordingly, “large extrapolation” in this case simply means predicting far into the future.
With that understanding, Hansen’s response to the concern of large extrapolations, that making predictions about the future is necessary, makes perfect sense – he isn’t skirting the question. And the author’s assertion that this means Hansen is modelling “not just the most likely outcome, but the worst possible outcome” is unsupported. Large extrapolations certainly increase the uncertainty of predictions, but they don’t necessarily add bias toward the worst (or best) case.