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You can’t turn off the comments, Mr Krugman!

Published 19th October 2009 - 3 comments - 704 views -

Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times blogger Paul Krugman adopts a curious approach to freedom of expression in his Saturday global warming post by saying, "I'm going to block comments here, because I know it will be overwhelmed."

Krugman is writing about the new Freakonomics book — "SuperFreakonomics" — which has some rather inconvenient things to say about climate change: "The chapter [on global warming] opens with the 'global cooling' story — the claim that 30 years ago there was a scientific consensus that the planet was cooling, comparable to the current consensus that it's warming.

 Um, no.... What you had in the 70s was a few scientists advancing the cooling hypothesis, and a few popular media stories hyping their suggestions...."

In other words, Krugman is accusing the authors — Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner — of misrepresenting the facts and, later in his post, the economics of climate change. On the face of it, then, one would think that this would be an ideal opportunity for both sides of the debate to voice their opinions, but because the global warming "consensus" is all about telling us to accept the expertise, there is room for debate, no need for comments. In fact, there's a suffocating insistence that we accept the current scientific consensus.

Shut up! He explained.

But in the dynamic, anarchic world of new media, you can't turn off the comments.

Category: Greenhouse Gases, | Tags: krugman, debate, superfreakonomics, consensus,,


Daniel on 19th October 2009:

I don’t see this “suffocating insistence that we accept the current scientific consensus”. There is an awful lot of media on climate change, but even today there was a “sceptic” on Swedish TV.

I think Krugman is completely right about the global cooling, and after blogging about cliamte change I can well understand why he wants to block comments.

Freedom of speech means that you are allowed to think that the world is flat or whatever you like, not that you’re guaranteed to be published, get time in TV etc.

Joe Litobarski on 21st October 2009:

That’s a good point. Krugman made a mistake, and it has made it look like he’s censoring his critics.

On the sceptic side, Anthony Watts made a similar mistake when he had a video pulled from YouTube over copyright infringement.

I doubt Watts or Krugman are actually trying to censor debate - they’re just mishandling new media.

Benno Hansen on 21st October 2009:

If Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner talks of a “consensus on global cooling in the 70ies” they are not the first to do so. All the others have been called out for this straw man already.

And commenting is sometimes overrepresented by a certain segment without surplus grey matter. The Crown Prince of Denmark disabled comments in his COP15 video too and was criticised like crazy. But even I, who is no big fan of the royals, can understand why this is sometimes necessary.

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