Science reporter Cornelia Dean wrote "Views of Scientists and Public in Conflict, Survey Finds," for Friday's Times, based on a survey by the joint team of (take a deep breath) thePew Research Centerfor the People & the Press and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Thesurveyfound the public's regard of scientists slipping, and that the publicdisagree with the majority of scientists on evolution and globalwarming.Dean, as is her habit, pronounced the issue of global warming science settled, and suggested that denying that man-made global warming was harming the planet was akin to denying evolution.
When it comes toclimate change, the teaching of evolution and the state of the nation's research enterprise, there is a large gap between what scientists think and the views of ordinary Americans, a new survey has found.
On the whole, scientists believe American research leads the world. But only 17 percent of the public agrees, and the proportion who name scientific advances as among the United States' most important achievements has fallen to 27 percent from nearly 50 percent in 1999, the survey found.
And while almost all of the scientists surveyed accept that human beings evolved by natural processes and that human activity, chiefly the burning of fossil fuels, is causing global warming, general public is far less sure.
Almost a third of ordinary Americans say human beings have existed in their current form since the beginning of time, a view held by only 2 percent of the scientists. Only about half of the public agrees that people are behind climate change, and 11 percent does not believe there is any warming at all.
According to the survey, about a third of Americans think there is lively scientific debate on both topics; in fact, there is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution and there is little doubt that human activity is altering the chemistry of the atmosphere in ways that threaten global climate.
"Little doubt"? Giventhat this is the same newspaperthat warnedof the dangers of a new ice age back in the 1970s, perhaps a humbler approach toward reading the future would be in order. And it's not as if there aren't plenty of scientists who haven't signed on to the apocalyptic "consensus."
Dean also erred in lumping evolution, which is an established theory with strong evidence behind it, with global warming,where serious questions remain about warming trends, which have stopped or even reversedover the last decade,and the net dangers posed to humans - agriculture productivity would likely rise in a warming world, for instance, which would be a benefit..