Charles Petzold

Stop Disseminating Bullshit!

October 26, 2014
New York, N.Y.

If you were browsing periodicals on a newsstand looking for some good informative articles on science issues, is this the newspaper you would select?

Or would you pick something like Scientific American, Nature, Science, Science News, or New Scientist?

I only ask because two of my Facebook friends recently posted an article from the Daily Express website that asserts that a "top meterorologist" has "PROVED" that climate change is "nothing but a lie."

What's most shocking to me is that both of these Facebook friends are former colleagues from PC Magazine. In other words, they are journalists — or were journalists at one time — and I suppose I expect them to retain some kind of journalistic integrity in their lives. Neither of these two friends would be caught dead actually reading the print edition of the Daily Express (I'm pretty sure) and yet there they were posting stories from that newspaper's website.

Of course, some of the story is actually true, as these stories often are. There does exist a well-known former weatherman named John Coleman who denies the existence of climate change. However, in no way, shape, or form is he "one of the world's leading meteorologists." John Coleman has no scientific credentials in the field of climatology, and his arguments have been refuted by people who actually know something, as discussed in this page from The article on the Daily Express website has no scientific value whatsoever.

I see two issues here:

1. Bullshit is all too prevalent in newspapers, magazines, and the internet, and hence it is the responsibility of smart people — including my two former colleages from PC Magazine — to recognize bullshit as bullshit and avoid disseminating it further.

2. If climate change denialists are really using articles like this one in the The Daily Express to form their beliefs, the world is in big trouble.