Climate of Complete Certainty – by Brett Stephens – NYT

“Right on the merits. Confident in their methods. Sure of their chances. When Bill Clinton suggested to his wife’s advisers that, considering Brexit, they might be underestimating the strength of the populist tide, the campaign manager, Robby Mook, had a bulletproof answer: The data run counter to your anecdotes.

That detail comes from “Shattered,” Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’s compulsively readable account of Clinton’s 2016 train wreck. Mook belonged to a new breed of political technologists with little time for retail campaigning and limitless faith in the power of models and algorithms to minimize uncertainty and all but predict the future.”

The comments section was closed, so I wrote a letter to the NYT:
Brett Stephens wrote in his op-ed Climate of Complete Certainty, “Anyone who has read the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change knows that, while the modest (0.85 degrees Celsius, or about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warming of the Northern Hemisphere since 1880 is indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming, much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities.”

This is unacceptable nonsense. This is the way Bill O’Reilly writes. O”Reilly states one or two facts, and then a conculsion, not supported by the facts he has stated, and then, does not offer any evidence to support the final, damning conclusion. If this statement is true, why is there not a single example offered to support it. A big bad generality is the tool of a smear artist.

As one commentator wrote correctly, comparing Hillary Clinton taking poling data too seriously, and the public taking climate change science seriously, is a false equivalence.

Stephens analysis of Clinton’s hubris was excellent, but his twisting argument in the sentence above in neither acceptable, nor professional. Almost all science is based on probabilities. That is not a sin, that is because 100% certainty is expensive to prove, even if the concept is easy to embrace. This unsupported trash talk might have been fine at the WSJ, but it is not the standard here at the NYT.

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