Michael CrichtonCrichton says that true skeptics are a dying breed. He says that whenever there is a big mass movement, skeptics vanish, and he believes that we need skeptics, and we need them to be especially vigilant whenever debate seems to end.
He made some pretty dramatic claims about terrible things that happen in hospitals – people's tissues being stolen and sold, cadavers being stolen, bones from bone cancer patients being given in transplants, genes being patented.
He says that he was not paid by anyone to write State of Fear.
Crichton was pretty slippery during the question period, I felt. He carefully dodged most of the questions that came at him. There was a question from the audience about whether there should come a point when you concede that the evidence has stacked against a position – like evolution. Crichton managed to avoid actually addressing the point of the question and said instead that he does agree with evolution, though he would still like to see speciation occur.
He maintains that all the global warming fear is about the future, and all based on computer models. He says that these computer models are "not good enough for me." He does conceede that the earth is warming, that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and that it is increasing as a result of human activity. What he disputes is what the climate sensitivity is, and he says that no one knows.
He kept coming back to his own examples, including comparing acting upon global warming to eugenics. Eugenics was based on phony psuedo science, and if it's happened once, then it could happen again, he says.
An audience member asks how we can get more skeptical viewpoints in the media. Seems to me that there isn't really a shortage of climate change skeptics getting air time in the media? Crichton doesn't even address this one, saying that new media will replace old.
Concedes that if he were peer reviewed, nothing he wrote would ever get published.!!
John StossellStossell is the host of 20/20. Has received many Emmys for his work and his recent book is a bestseller. Graduated from Princeton. Has a bad mustache and admits to being shorter in real life than on TV.
He opened by saying that he considers global warming to be a spiritual issue, and went so far as to put it in his book with astrology and UFOs.
He thinks that fear and alarmism sell, much more so than saying "we still don't know." Reporters listen to the ones who scream the loudest, he says.
His talk was entertaining and focused on fear-mongering, rather than on climate change per se. (I assume that the attempt was to convince us that climate change is also the product of fear mongerers and that we should be very wary of the science we hear.)
Applause from the audience for standing up to fear mongering. Apparently there is a healthy crowd of libertarians here amongst the liberals (Chris Mooney said the same to us earlier, that he had been defending himself against them through the whole lunch hour).
The debate turns to health care systems, and Stossell informs us that Canadians are getting healthcare from the 50s, though we seem to be happy about it because it's cheap and we don't know better. Apparently socialist systems take a while to collapse, but fear not, we're on our way.
When an audience member finally held his feet to the fire about climate change, he was totally dismissive. "Global warming? Even Crichton agrees the earth is warming! So what!" "But George Bush is ignoring the recommendations of all these scientists." "Global warming isn't a recommendation! Sign Kyoto is a recommendation but even its proponents think it's inadequate!"
John Stossell