Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Are TV  weatherman climate experts because they're on TV?

A generation has passed since the editor of Science Technology and Human Values ruefully remarked that  to Americans at large, science was "Whatever Carl Sagan says on the Johnny Carson Show"- Carson was the Colbert of the 1980's.  Those with the most access to the popular imagintion might be the last source disinterested analysts might turn to today for climate expertise resides, but stopping on the yellow brick road to do some virtue signaling to Administrator Pruitt,  Judith Curry has turned to yet another TV  weatherman to challenge the American Meteorological Society's claim to know what it's talking about in terms not of weather, but climte change.

Her blog Climate Etc.'s latest post, by former  Oklahoma City TV meteorologist Mike Smith, now a VP of Accuweather,  takes geophysicists to task for:

Stealth advocacy: a survey of weathercasters’ views on climate change

I can imagine a weathercaster in Texas, Oklahoma or Kansas would get a lot of feedback from angry viewers if they came out of the climate science closet. They need to though, especially my friends in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Our job as science communicators is to give our viewers good science and omission because it is politically unpopular is unethical journalism
The American Meteorological Society (AMS) has departed from its mission of the past 80 years, which was to advance and disseminate meteorological knowledge. The Society has wandered from its original mission to one of both overt and stealth advocacy related to the politics of climate change."
But a previous article by the author  Smith attacks, Dan Satterfield 
The Death of Expertise
“Tom Nichols, a professor of national security affairs at the US Naval War College, says America has become a country “obsessed with the worship of its own ignorance.” Americans have always been skeptical of intellectuals and experts. Today, says Nichols, that attitude has mutated into outright hostility. In general, Americans have never been so willing to reject the knowledge of those who actually know something. This embrace of self-righteous ignorance bodes ill for the nation’s future. Nichol’s puts some blame on US universities, which fail to instill critical-thinking skills in students, and on the proliferation of news sources that compete by affirming their audiences’ biases.” (Review from here.)
A talk by Nichol’s below: