National Post's Peter Foster: Is he suffering stupidity, venality or both?

Fri, 2008-02-29 09:29Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

National Post's Peter Foster: Is he suffering stupidity, venality or both?

In one of his periodic diatribes against science, scientists and any risk analyst who thinks that 95% certainty is enough to cause concern about global warming, the National Post's Peter Foster has attacked Canadian scientist Andrew Weaver - using an argument that the newspaper has admitted, twice before, is flat-out untrue.

So, rude as it is to ask, we have to wonder if Mr. Foster is

a) an incredibly slow learner;

b) not a frequent reader of his newspaper's “Corrections” feature;

c) so ideologically blinded that evidence just doesn't matter to him; or

d) on the take?

There is, perhaps, a fifth answer, which to some degree gathers up some of the other four. The denial team leaders at the National Post - Peter Foster, Terence Corcoran, Lorne Gunter, Lawrence Solomon - have exhausted themselves shouting into the wind on this issue. They have spent their credibility and they have left themselves no graceful line of retreat. In fact, if any one of them now stood up and admitted that the science explaining anthropogenic global warming is overwhelming, they would become a laughingstock in their own narrow-minded community. Clearly, nearing the end of their fading careers - at their fading newspaper - they can't take the strain.

In this instance, Foster's actual attack on Weaver is not even that compelling. Foster says the University of Victoria scientist - one of the most frequently published and widely respected climate modellers in the world - “unleashed a diatribe against the research of Ross McKitrick and Stephen McIntyre, who inconveniently exploded the IPCC's alarmist 'hockey stick' graph.”

Well, as the Post has been forced to admit before, Weaver did no such thing. Though many others have and to good effect. Go to RealClimate.org and search “McKitrick,” “McIntyre” or “hockey stick” and you'll find pages of criticism, pretty much all of it well taken.

Foster also says that “Mr. Weaver has even suggested that it is dangerous to allow skeptics a voice in scientific debate.”

First of all, that's “Dr. Weaver” - a relevant honorific that sets an esteemed Canada Research Chair apart from, say, a business writer with no expertise whatever in science. Second, and again, Weaver has suggested no such thing. As he says himself, “This statement makes no sense since by definition, real scientists are skeptics. Being skeptical is precisely how one advances science.”

Need it be said: Being stubborn, blind, sloppy and immune to evidence is less helpful.

PS

For strenuous determination to ignore all science and common sense, you can't beat Terence Corcoran's climate update in today's paper, also attacking Andrew Weaver (why do they hate him so?).

Corcoran argues that an outbreak of winter weather in Toronto suggests that the entire theory of global warming is about to collapse. And he advertises the quibble-fest coming up this weekend at the International Conference on Climate Change. Check out the scientific credentials in this mob of “experts” and then think about the old aphorism: “birds of a feather ….”

Comments

All of the above.

Ian Forrester

Instead of saying Foster is stupid, it may be more correct to say that National Post as a whole is stupid.

NP’s Lorne Gunter is caught here mindlessly regurgitating a piece of denialist quote-mining:

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/02/dont_trust_anything_you_read_i_1.php

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Frank Bi, http://globaldumbing.tk

This was sent to the National Pest(in regards to his most recent editorial) and of course it did not get posted!

I was curious about BPA and checked it out in PubMed Central and got 388 papers in response to my query.Here is a sample abstract from one of them from Feb 26/08:

Bisphenol A is released from polycarbonate drinking bottles and mimics the neurotoxic actions of estrogen in developing cerebellar neurons
Hoa H. Le, Emily M. Carlson, Jason P. Chua, and Scott M. Belcher
Department of Pharmacology and Cell Biophysics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 231 Albert Sabin Way, Cincinnati, OH, 45267-0575
Corresponding Author: Scott M. Belcher, Department of Pharmacology and Cell Biophysics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 231 Albert Sabin Way; PO Box 670575, Cincinnati, OH, 45267-0575, Telephone: 513-558-1721, Fax: 513-558-4329, Email: scott.belcher@uc.edu

Abstract

The impact of endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) exposure on human health is receiving increasingly focused attention. The prototypical EDC bisphenol A (BPA) is an estrogenic high-production chemical used primarily as a monomer for production of polycarbonate and epoxy resins. It is now well established that there is ubiquitous human exposure to BPA. In the general population exposure to BPA occurs mainly by consumption of contaminated foods and beverages that have contacted epoxy resins or polycarbonate plastics. To test the hypothesis that bioactive BPA was released from polycarbonate bottles used for consumption of water and other beverages, we evaluated whether BPA migrated into water stored in new or used high-quality polycarbonate bottles used by consumers. Using a sensitive and quantitative competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, BPA was found to migrate from polycarbonate water bottles at rates ranging from 0.20 to 0.79 ng per hour. At room temperature the migration of BPA was independent of whether or not the bottle had been previously used. Exposure to boiling water (100°C) increased the rate of BPA migration by up to 55-fold. The estrogenic bioactivity of the BPA-like immunoreactivity released into the water samples was confirmed using an in vitro assay of rapid estrogen-signaling and neurotoxicity in developing cerebellar neurons. The amounts of BPA found to migrate from polycarbonate drinking bottles should be considered as a contributing source to the total “EDC-burden” to which some individuals are exposed.
Keywords: bisphenol

The entire article can be found at:

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov
/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&
artid=2254523

And yes, Dr. Vom Saal’s experimental results have already are being reproduced even as I type these words.

Steve smith, greasemonkey

ps-I rather doubt that this missive will be posted!