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Climate change opinions not budging much

According to a recent New York Times/CBS news poll, “a solid majority of Americans say the United States should join an international treaty to limit the impact of global warming.” While this may be encouraging news, other survey data cited in this article shows just how stubborn American public opinion has been over the last 20-plus years on the issue of climate change. For instance, when asked whether global warming…

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Your Brain Is Primed To Reach False Conclusions

Paul Offit likes to tell a story about how his wife, pediatrician Bonnie Offit, was about to give a child a vaccination when the kid was struck by a seizure. Had she given the injection a minute sooner, Paul Offit says, it would surely have appeared as though the vaccine had caused the seizure and probably no study in the world would have convinced the parent otherwise. (The Offits have…

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WSJ gives ink (again) to climate change critics

In his latest Wall Street Journal op-ed, Matt Ridley provides a predictable litany of reasons why action on climate change shouldn’t be a priority right now. It’s a classic “delayer” mash-up of professing respect for science while simultaneously failing to take repeated warnings from scientists seriously. None of his distractions or excuses change the fact that acting on global warming now is the cheapest, safest, and most effective way to…

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Allitt’s ‘A Climate of Crisis’ stirs debate

Emory University history professor Patrick Allitt is touring the country promoting his new book, “A Climate of Crisis.” It’s an interesting account of how our public debates about science can sometimes become—as this Wall Street Journal book review puts it—”less an informed exchange of ideas than a strident debate pitting alarmists against deniers.” Click here to read this synopsis of Dr. Allitt’s argument, published by the Seattle Times as an…

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Pig Wrestling

Photo by Neil Blake/The Herald A side-effect of working on the Big Bang is that I get a fair bit of crank mail (to use the technical term), a few crank phone calls, and even the occasional crank visit. These cranks – or “independent investigators” – usually believe they have solved abiding mysteries in cosmology and theoretical physics, or demolished some key tenet of modern science. Relativity and the Big…

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How to stand up for science, Apple style

At a shareholders meeting on Friday, CEO Tim Cook angrily defended Apple’s environmentally-friendly practices against a request from the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) to drop those practices if they ever became unprofitable. NCPPR put forward a shareholder’s proposal asking Apple to disclose how much it spends on sustainability programs. If those costs detracted from Apple’s bottom line, the NCPPR demanded that Apple discontinue the programs and…

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Welcome to the Age of Denial

Chloé Poizat ROCHESTER — IN 1982, polls showed that 44 percent of Americans believed God had created human beings in their present form. Thirty years later, the fraction of the population who are creationists is 46 percent. In 1989, when “climate change” had just entered the public lexicon, 63 percent of Americans understood it was a problem. Almost 25 years later, that proportion is actually a bit lower, at 58…

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People named Steve more likely to believe in evolution

Critics of mainstream science frequently dispute evolution or climate change. Whatever their target, a common tactic is to challenge how well mainstream scientists accept these ideas. When the anti-evolution Discovery Institute in Seattle, Washington, began a project in this vein, creating lists of scientists who doubt evolution, the pro-evolution National Center for Science Education (NCSE) responded in kind. It collected responses from PhD-level scientists who agreed that there is “no…

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