Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton appeared on Charlie Rose last night to discuss his new book Next, a thriller with a theme centered on bioethics and genetics. Inevitably Rose directed the conversation to global warming, as Crichton has gotten a lot of flack for his book State of Fear. If you are skeptical of all the global warming hype, the show is well worth a watching. In researching State of Fear, Crichton studied the subject extensively and his conclusions about the corruption of environmental science are a real eye opener.

I've read State of Fear and although I agree with the central premise of the book (that mankind has a natural tendency to fall for doomsday scenarios and that global warming is being used by cynical interest groups as a funding vehicle), the book itself is pretty light reading. It is not a scientific treatise, but rather a fast paced and high octane action thriller. It reads a bit like a movie script masquerading as a novel. But it is an enjoyable story and a fun read for a rainy Saturday afternoon.

That said, Crichton has clearly studied the global warming phenomenon extensively and is very compelling when he discusses how the issue has been hijacked by certain interest groups. He points out that:

  1. No one can predict the future. If people say they can, be very skeptical.
  2. If the computer models being used to predict global warming are correct, they should be correct for the next ten years, not just the next one hundred years. All the predictions of the last ten years have been wrong.
  3. Global Warming is now a political phenomenon. Documents like the most recent UN report are being published with little or no connection to scientific data. The latest UN report came out prior to the publication of scientific research that is supposed to underpin the policy report's conclusions. The UN said they would change the scientific report to match the conclusions of the policy document if there were any inconsistencies!
  4. Conclusions emanating from the scientific community include largely subjective assumptions that essentially make many assertions nothing more than informed opinion, not science. Further, due to intimidation and other factors, the actual scientific process is being corrupted and breaking down.
  5. If you actually press most scientists doing global warming research, they will eventually tell you that they don't know what is causing global warming. Before we spend $55 Trillion, we better find someone who has some solid evidence of man's impact on the environment, particularly in the face of more pressing needs, like disease and hunger (ed - he indirectly mentioned this, which, because it isn't designed to benefit internationalist organizations, has received very little attention).
  6. Al Gore is a catastrophist. One example is his contention that sea levels will rise 20 -40 feet in the next one hundred years. This assertion can be compared the UN report which measures changes in ocean levels in centimeters.
  7. Global warming is an hysteria that is not about science anymore. Rather, it is a belief system. Crichton wonders whether the world is moving beyond a period where science has driven human development and back to a period where religion and faith are the key drivers in decision making (ed - I think he makes this point to tweak the "intelligencia" more than out of real fear that it will come to pass.)
At one point in the interview, Rose challenged Crichton to come back on the show to be confronted by one or two respected scientists who believe global warming is an imminent danger. Crichton accepted the challenge. But he also suggested that Charlie Rose interview Stephen Schneider, the scientist who was advocating doomsday scenarios about global cooling back in the 1970's. Crichton predicted that present day global warming scientists might well suffer the same embarrassing fate as Schneider, but that the damage to science itself was potentially much greater.

Michael Crichton is a very attractive figure. He is handsome, bright, successful and well spoken. He makes for a very good advocate for anything, and good person to have on your side if you think the global warming crowd is pushing hysteria (as I do). Despite Charlie Rose's lousy interview techniques (constantly interrupting, not understanding basic points - is Charlie Rose dumb? - and changing the subject when his points are well refuted), this interview is worth watching if for no other reason than to hear someone of stature confront the global warming "conventional wisdom".

Update: This is FUNNY. I found it on Michael Crichton's Wikipedia page:

"In his 2006 novel Next (released November 28th), Crichton introduces a character named "Mick Crowley" who is a Yale graduate and a Washington D.C.-based political columnist. "Crowley" is portrayed by Crichton as a child molester who is on trial for the anal rape of his two-year-old nephew. "Crowley" is also said to have a small penis. The character is a minor one who does not appear elsewhere in the book.[11]

A real person named Michael Crowley is also a Yale graduate, and a senior editor of The New Republic, a Washington D.C.-based political magazine. In March 2006, the real Crowley wrote an article strongly critical of Crichton for his stance on global warming in State of Fear."

6 comments:

Terrence McCarthy

8:48 PM

A very attractive figure. Handsome, bright, well spoken and successful. Your description of Crichton reminds me of Biden's comments re: Obama. Are you saying that most tall guys ( Crichton's six six ) aren't very attractive and well spoken? You better watchit, Jake. The National Association of Nit Picking Tall Guys ( NAONPTG )is going to put you on their s--t list.

But I'm with you on this. PCers be damned. And some of my best friends are tall.

Seriously, I've enjoyed Crichton's books for a long time, starting back when I read his " Five Patients " when I was living in the U.K. He seems to be always slightly ahead of the curve. His books are entertaining and informative. What more can you ask?

Jake

9:12 PM

State of Fear was the first book I'd read by him. Having heard so much about him, I was kind of surprised how light weight his prose were. I suppose I expected more, although I'm not sure why. In any case, he certainly isn't shy about putting the screws to the global warming types, for which he should be applauded.

Charlie Rose, on the other hand, just pushes the standard line on GW. I suppose that if he doesn't, he risks losing his seat in the salons of the upper west side. But still, he comes off as so utterly lame when he just repeats the mantra that "the issue is settled". Pathetic.

Another impression I get from Charlie Rose is that he's not particularly bright. Often in his interviews, people will make rather simple points that he simply doesn't pick up on quickly. It's kind of embarrassing, given that the show attracts so many interesting and bright people.

Lastly, Crichton mentioned a speech he gave in Germany to a hostile crowd of GW converts. He threw up a bunch of data that clearly showed that most scientists are pushing bogus data. He said it was interesting how many people in the audience left the venue depressed, as if he was proving that Jesus was born in Hong Kong, or something (not his words). It must be hard for people when they see their religion disproven.

Terrence McCarthy

9:35 PM

Forget Charlie Rose, Jake. It's Chinatown. The more you think and write about him, the more power you give him.

Anonymous

6:30 PM

Terry McCarthy had asked if I read his comments to you. I just have. I had wanted to comment a couple of days ago on this entry- specifically, I am the constant reader and have done a lot of Crichton over the years. They are invariably interesting, cutting edge of technology stuff but I remember a few years ago answering a question of whether they were good or not saying his books all look like script outlines to me- it's not exactly Nabokov. I do like his views though generally I suppose because we agree so often. Charlie Rose, on the other hand, is a complete fraud and I agree 100% he is the darling of the effete snobs and their idea of a true intellect. It's similar, to me, to their devotion to the Jon Stewart/Colbert thing, I don't get it.

Terrance Collins

6:32 PM

I didn't mean to be anonymous- it's me Terrance Collins responsible for above entry

Jake

11:05 PM

Hey Terrance (3) -

I certainly did enjoy State of Fear, my first Crichton book. As I said above, I was just surprised that it was such light reading. I suppose I had the general impression that his writing was more tech than thriller, although I'm not sure why.

Re Rose, I've started watching him since he's been putting stuff up on Google video (I don't watch TV) and the most surprising thing to me about his show is that:

1) He's a pretty bad interviewer, all things considered.

2) He impresses me as being not too bright. Sometimes very basic stuff goes over his head, which seems strange to me.

I agree that he is the love child of the Manhattan elite, although in some interviews (for example with John Burns of the NYT) he sometimes takes a realistic approach to things. But it is true that when he does politics, he mostly asks only liberal mainstream media types on the show, so you only get the Democrat perspective on things. That gets kind of tiresome.

Thanks for the comments.

Jake