Has the New York Times Gone Conservative?
I almost thought that I had slipped down a wormhole and ended up in an alternative universe. That’s exactly how I felt like when I read the headline from that bastion of all things liberal, the once well-respected pillar of the Fourth Estate, the New York Times. They had actually broken a story with the headline Climatologist Leaves Post in Inquiry Over E-Mail Leaks.
That’s right. A newspaper that at one time lived up to its motto “All the News that’s Fit to Print,” but in recent times has become a cheerleader for the progressive movement. Progressive is new- speak for liberal; since liberal has become a dirty word among the populace and more and more liberals are trying to escape being labeled as such.
What could possibly cause the New York Times to revert, albeit temporarily, back to being a real newspaper? Was it due to its declining popularity? Was it is because of its dismal sales record or shrinking readership and advertising income? Well, it is probably an anomaly, but for whatever reason, the New York Times was covering a story that could literally blow the lid off of the proverbial climate change can of worms.
Now I do not want anyone to think that this scandal will in any way dissuade the climate change pimps from hawking their doomsday wares. Immediately the ‘chicken little’s’ began to cluck in unison saying this is just the typical squabbling that is common in the scientific community. They were all excusing these phonies by playing the human nature card. You know the card that says we are all just human; scientists are flawed like everyone else so why are we so surprised if they want to obscure information that contradicts the conclusions of their research? We should not make more of this than it is. It’s just professional jealously, not a concerted effort to stifle the opposition and keep evidence against global climate change being ‘the’ doomsday scenario of the 21st century from being heard.
What was the all the hubbub about? The hacked e-mail messages, attributed to prominent American and British climate researchers, included discussions of scientific data and whether it (the opposing data) should be released, exchanges about how best to combat the arguments of skeptics, and casual comments — in some cases derisive — about specific people known for their skeptical views. Drafts of scientific papers and a photo collage that portrays climate skeptics on an ice floe were also among the hacked data, some of which dates back 13 years (Revkin 2009).
So while all those implicated were scrambling to recover their footing, the head of the British research unit at the center of the controversy stepped down pending the outcome of an investigation. Of course, the typical defense for being caught with their intellectual pants down is to attack the messenger. Professor Phil Jones referred to this hacking and dissemination of these private communications a “criminal breach.” While they are publically shocked by these criminal hackers, they seem to be completely oblivious to their own secret and criminal conspiracy to suppress opposing views and stack the deck in favor of their own research.
Over the years these so-called scientists have cooked the books for their own financial and professional gain. They knowingly conspired to have all dissenting opinion muzzled. It is true that these indiscretions can be traced back to the flaws in human nature and yes, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but these were scientists entrusted with keeping us safe. They are supposed to be the appointed watchdogs of civilization as faith in God has been replaced by faith in scientific knowledge above all else. The consequence for their dereliction of duty is more serious and far reaching than others in a less important and influential line of work.
No Room for Dissenting Views
This is not the first time we have seen the scientific community fall into the trap of self-serving and elitist behaviors. In the documentary movie Expelled, Ben Stein reveals that many in the scientific community have succumbed to their own celebrity. The Richard Dawkins and the P.Z. Meyers of the world think anyone who dares to disagree with them are somehow intellectually lacking and educationally wanting. If nothing else, Expelled revealed the dangers involved in simply challenging the status quo. Dare to question Darwinian evolution and your career is in danger of ruin, you become persona non grata in your chosen profession and a pariah among your own colleagues.
Should we be surprised when we see these scientific elitists embracing their new found fame as the protectors of the planet and the defenders of materialism and all things natural? Alvin Plantinga, Ph.D. is the John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. In his review of the Dawkin’s best seller The God Delusion, Plantinga writes:
Now despite the fact that this book is mainly philosophy, Dawkins is not a philosopher (he's a biologist). Even taking this into account, however, much of the philosophy he purveys is at best jejune. You might say that some of his forays into philosophy are at best sophomoric, but that would be unfair to sophomores; the fact is (grade inflation aside), many of his arguments would receive a failing grade in a sophomore philosophy class. This, combined with the arrogant, smarter-than-thou tone of the book, can be annoying. I shall put irritation aside, however and do my best to take Dawkins' main argument seriously (Plantinga 2007).
Noting the absurdity of a worldview that embraces only that which can be ascertained by our five senses as being real is only part of the problem. The deeper, more serious issue is the sinful condition of man. The desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and the pride of life seem to overwhelm the human condition to the point of distorting our perceived reality. Does it surprise anyone that only those research proposals that present and support global climate change as problematic get the research funding? Do we recognize the dangers of an incestuous relationship between those who bestow research grants and those who validate and promote the problem these very grants are generated to study and resolve? When you factor in that scientists can use peer review to keep articles that disagree with their scientific conclusions out of the prestigious science journals, you have a seriously stacked deck in favor of only one group without dissenting opinion.
Who are these ‘chicken little’s’ that are now complaining because their dirty little secret has been exposed? A major player is Professor Phil Jones. He is the Director of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and a Professor in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. He has been a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society since 1992 and was on the Editorial Committee of the International Journal of Climatology until 1995. Furthermore, Professor Jones has served on the editorial board of Climatic Change and is an elected member of Academia Europaea since 1998 and a member of the American Meteorological Society since 2001.
The e-mail exchanges among several prominent climate-change scientists included Americans, such as Pennsylvania State professor Michael Mann. These emails between the American and British climate-change scientists appear to reveal efforts to keep the work of skeptical scientists out of major journals and the possible hoarding and manipulation of data to overstate the case for human-caused climate change (Broder 2009).
Presently our own government is debating major changes in the way the United States responds to climate change. Legislation is being proposed, much of it based upon the reports generated from these leaders in the scientific community. Millions of people will be affected by how we respond to the question of climate change in the coming years. As in times past when man decided what is good and bad for the planet, we find ourselves once again playing God with our environment. But this “we must act now to prevent catastrophe and devastation in the future” has been heard before. Let’s take a lesson from history.
A Lesson from History
These same types of ‘act fast act now’ doomsday scientists jumped on the bandwagon of a book by biologist, writer and ecologist Rachel Carson. She was the founder of the contemporary environmental movement, author of Silent Spring, advocate of nature and environmental ethics, and the voice of impending doom at the hands of a pesticide known as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). DDT was found to have a detrimental effect on the shells of eggs and its ban in 1972 is credited with helping the recovery of the bald eagle from the brink of extinction. While the DDT ban was only one of several measures that helped the bald eagle to be removed from the Endangered Species List, (There are those who deny that the bald eagle was ever truly endangered. They sight statistics of 50 to 75 thousand bald eagles in Canada with 15 thousand pairs in Alaska and the same number in British Columbia as well at the same time environmentalists were claiming they were on the brink of extinction). Other measures including the banning of lead shot, fines and protections against the killing of these birds and relocation/reintroduction efforts combined with the DDT ban to allow these birds to flourish today (Seasholes 2009).
Another interesting and timely example of scientists falsifying their results can be illustrated here as well. Rachel Carson sounded the initial alarm against DDT, but represented the science of DDT erroneously in her 1962 book Silent Spring. Carson wrote “Dr. DeWitt's now classic experiments [on quail and pheasants] have now established the fact that exposure to DDT, even when doing no observable harm to the birds, may seriously affect reproduction. Quail into whose diet DDT was introduced throughout the breeding season survived and even produced normal numbers of fertile eggs. But few of the eggs hatched.” DeWitt's 1956 article (in Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry) actually yielded a very different conclusion. Quail were fed 200 parts per million of DDT in all of their food throughout the breeding season. DeWitt reports that 80% of their eggs hatched, compared with the “control” birds which hatched 83.9% of their eggs. Carson also omitted mention of DeWitt's report that "control" pheasants hatched only 57 percent of their eggs, while those that were fed high levels of DDT in all of their food for an entire year hatched more than 80% of their eggs (Edwards and Milloy 1999).
What has been underreported is the millions of lives lost due to the ban of DDT by the United States in 1972. The DDT ban in the USA was followed by a subsequent ban for agricultural use worldwide under the Stockholm Convention. This action, based on fraudulent and misleading data, has been responsible for the deaths of millions of men, women and children in areas where malaria is endemic. The DDT ban worldwide has been responsible for the death of no less than 96 million people. A stark testimony concerning the use of fallacious data to make policy decisions using a doomsday scenario to promote immediate action.
Back to the New York Times
So what should we make of the New York Times coverage of this budding scandal? Will the spinmeisters get their way and focus our attention on the messengers instead of the news they bring? At the Creation Studies Institute, we are dedicated to the truth. We understand that all men and women are fatally flawed and in desperate need of the Savior. We recognize that being spiritually blind causes people to deny the truth, especially if that truth is pointing to the one true and living God, the God who created the universe and all that is contained therein.
It may seem arrogant to those who are not born of God’s Spirit, but we are simply the bearer of Good News. The Good News that the Savior of the world is also the Creator of all things and He alone is in control. He has written what is to come in the form of prophecy. His Word, the Bible, foretells the truth concerning the future of mankind. We are not going to be the casualties of some man-made doomsday scenario. The scientific establishment is neither the villain nor the savior of this story. The excesses of man and our need for redemption and the clarity of God’s Holy Spirit in our personal lives is at the root of all our problem.
Instead of looking to people, places and things for our salvation, let us look to the true Savior, Jesus of Nazareth. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who has been manifested in the flesh. It is His sinless life and atoning death that produces the grace that results in forgiveness and everlasting life. He can change the human heart so we don’t have to manipulate our realities or our research .thereby making ourselves more self-important by appearing to have answers when we really do not even understand how to properly frame the questions.
If we can learn anything from the surprising coverage the New York Times is giving to this scandal, perhaps it is a ray of hope, a glimmer that the truth in the end will prevail. Just for a little while, a once great newspaper has shown us evidence of its former glory. We should encourage this kind of honest appraisal of what is really happening in our world today. It is this kind of honesty that reminds us that the solution to the problems we face will be solved not by cooking the books or by fudging the numbers, but by seeking and searching for what is true.
Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D. (c)
Chief Technical Advisor
Creation Studies Institute