1 of 3
1
Andrew Revkin - The Death of Science Writing, and the Future of Catastrophe
Posted: 12 March 2010 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]
Administrator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  170
Joined  2009-06-02

We live in a science centered age—a time of private spaceflight and personalized medicine, amid path-breaking advances in biotechnology and nanotechnology. And we face science centered risks: climate and energy crises, biological and nuclear terror threats, mega-disasters and global pandemics.

So you would think science journalism would be booming—yet nothing could be further from the case. If you watch 5 hours of cable news today, expect to see just 1 minute devoted to science and technology. From 1989-2005, meanwhile, the number of major newspapers featuring weekly science sections shrank from 95 to 34.

Epitomizing the current decline is longtime New York Times science writer Andrew Revkin, who recently left the paper for a career in academia.

In this conversation with host Chris Mooney, Revkin discusses the uncertain future of his field, the perils of the science blogosphere, his battles with climate blogger Joe Romm, and what it’s like (no joke) to have Rush Limbaugh suggest that you kill yourself. Moving on to the topics he’s covered for over a decade, Revkin also addresses the problem of population growth, the long-range risks that our minds just aren’t trained to think about, and the likely worsening of earthquake and other catastrophes as more people pack into in vulnerable places.

Andrew Revkin was the science and environment reporter for the New York Times from 1995 through 2009. During the 2000s, he broke numerous front page stories about how the Bush administration was suppressing science, and launched the highly popular blog Dot Earth. But last year, Revkin announced he was leaving the Times. He accepted a post as a senior fellow of environmental understanding at Pace University in White Plains, New York, where he will focus on teaching and two new book projects—complementing existing works like The North Pole Was Here, a book about the vanishing Arctic aimed at middle and high schoolers. In his new life, Andy will also have much more time to play with what he dubs his “rustic-rootsy” band, Uncle Wade.

http://www.pointofinquiry.org/andrew_revkin_the_death_of_science_writing_and_the_future_of_catastrophe/

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 March 2010 01:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  3
Joined  2010-03-06

Excellent program.  Much to ponder here.  This is a program I will recommend to others.  Keep up the good work.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 March 2010 12:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  23
Joined  2009-04-16

With respect, not my favorite POI. Didn’t like the soapbox intro. Am bored with Mooney’s thus far narrow purview: First Mann, now this—both largely focusing on climate change. (To be sure, Grothe’s focus on magic started boring me as well.) The style of interview involves too much puff and fluff, meaning softball questions, long responses by the guest, lots of generalities instead more specific facts, little bit too buddy-buddy. I learned very little new.

If Mooney wants to continue with the climate change bit, I’d be much more interested to hear a skeptic/denier. Someone who’s actually considered a scientist, not just a pundit or politico. Maybe have an Oxford style debate like what Intelligence Squared has been doing? Maybe Q&A where the denier asks the global warming proponent a question, then the proponent asks the denier a question, and so on, and Mooney would facilitate and ask follow-ups?

Of course, there’s plenty more in the world of science that Mooney can cover. Just has to sharpen the interview skills and clever-up the topic.

(And where else should I complain about the androgynous introducer’s voice and milquetoast puppet safari theme music? grin  )

Again, this is meant with much respect. Love the POI.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 March 2010 07:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Jr. Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  56
Joined  2010-02-11

Hi Jordan,
Just want to say I appreciate this sort of constructive criticism, and will weigh it as I put together new programs. Certainly, I’m trying to do my best; I’m also trying to do new things, and finally, am a bit new to this. Would be interested in whether others felt the same way about the program.

best

chris

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 March 2010 08:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6640
Joined  2007-10-05

Chris,

This will go back to the two questions I proposed, but I would suggest these even if I had not proposed them before the interview.

Revkin talked about how overpopulation is the underlying cause of all our environmental problems, yet you did not follow up on that. The obvious questions are: “What can we do to reduce our population?” and “What are the possible consequences if we do not reduce our population?” This is the core issue of climate change and ecosystem destruction and needs to be addressed as widely as possible. You are in a unique position to get this question into the public arena.

Also, given that the main topic under discussion was science writers having problems finding ways to make a living another obvious question is: “What are the ethical implications of science writers accepting money from religious organizations?” Yes, I know you recently received a Templeton Foundation grant, and as a writer keenly interested in science I understand the problems and pressures of making a living writing about science. You cannot dodge this fundamental question of journalistic ethics.

Sincerely,

Darron Spohn

[ Edited: 14 March 2010 08:33 PM by DarronS ]
 Signature 

You cannot have a rational discussion with someone who holds irrational beliefs.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2010 04:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  8
Joined  2006-10-09

I have been reading through The Hockey Stick Illusion by A. W. Montford and I think it is fair to say that blogger and retired mining engineer, Steve McIntyre has displayed a brilliant understanding of science.

Is it possible that the divergence of opinion displayed in the blogosphere has actually been the reality pre-internet/pre-blogs, but now we are aware of it because of the internet/blogosphere?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2010 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  441
Joined  2009-12-17
Jordan - 14 March 2010 12:54 PM

With respect, not my favorite POI. Didn’t like the soapbox intro. Am bored with Mooney’s thus far narrow purview: First Mann, now this—both largely focusing on climate change. (To be sure, Grothe’s focus on magic started boring me as well.) The style of interview involves too much puff and fluff, meaning softball questions, long responses by the guest, lots of generalities instead more specific facts, little bit too buddy-buddy. I learned very little new.

If Mooney wants to continue with the climate change bit, I’d be much more interested to hear a skeptic/denier. Someone who’s actually considered a scientist, not just a pundit or politico. Maybe have an Oxford style debate like what Intelligence Squared has been doing? Maybe Q&A where the denier asks the global warming proponent a question, then the proponent asks the denier a question, and so on, and Mooney would facilitate and ask follow-ups?

It is a huge disappointment for me to see the direction that this Podcast is going. I joined this forum seeking a refuge where rational thinking, logic and reasoning would prevail - along with a secular/atheistic viewpoint. On the whole I have not been disappointed. However I really think it is so sad that those who have chosen to wholly and completely adopt the mantra of AGW have essentially taken over this Podcast, alienating a huge group of rational and reasonable sceptics.

I only listened to the intro of this Podcast and it said enough for me. I could not spend any more of my life listening to the rest.

Mooney kicks off “over the course of the first few shows, a common theme has emerged”. I found this immediately jarring considering this is a theme he himself has adopted and pursued. It has not emerged at all.

He continues “In discussing Vaccine denialism, and then climate sceptics, my guests have noted that the internet has given new momentum to these anti-science crusades”. This is an outrageous statement of bias. It continues the smearing of AGW sceptics by including them with those who fought vaccines, which is a totally unfounded accusation. It also smears them, by association, as being anti science when the vast majority of them are basing their opposition to AGW on a sound and reasonable debate on the science.

Now I have no problem with debate. I have no problem with people who disagree with me. I have no problem with people who are passionate and aggressive and robust in their disagreement with me. But I abhor the assumption that one side decides IT is the champion of Science while their opponents are on the side of anti-science.

This is a deeply bigotted and prejudiced attitude and as an attitude it is indeed itself deeply anti-science. It reminds me of those that claim God is on THEIR side.

I believe that this policy being pursued by the Podcast is divisive and unreasonable. It does not fit with the stated principles and goals and values of the CoI. The CoI should not be in the business of adopting one position or another, where a reasonable and debatable controversy is in existence. It should not be allying itself so transparently and openly with one side of ANY debate where there are reasonable arguments on both sides. And more than anything, it should not be vilifying one side of a debate while wrapping itself in the cloak of ‘science’.

Whether you agree with me on AGW or not. Whether you have accepted AGW or not - I urge CoI to change it’s course and resume a position where scepticism is welcomed instead of being vilified, and where it “fosters a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values”.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2010 09:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  23
Joined  2009-04-16

Thanks for the response, Chris. You’re a talented man, and you still have my confidence.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2010 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  9
Joined  2010-03-15

Keep up the good work Chris. I certainly think some of the criticisms above are unfounded.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2010 02:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Jr. Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  56
Joined  2010-02-11

Thanks, everyone. I do want to hear the well founded criticisms…and I take it to heart. I know that I don’t have as much experience doing this as DJ did and that his are big shoes to fill. So thanks for your continuing thoughts.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2010 02:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Jr. Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  56
Joined  2010-02-11

Also….the Revkin show was most emphatically *not* a show about global warming….but if I am making climate “skeptics” upset, then yes, I guess I am doing my job properly ;>

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2010 02:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  9
Joined  2010-03-15

Your not DJ G, but i think what the guys above are getting at is that DJ would often play devils advocate and try keep his cards closer to his chest until later in the interview. Maybe pretend NOT to be ‘you’ at times and be the embodiment of all those that disagree with the guest. But again i find it entertaining just to hear smart people talk together, so its only a small criticism really. These pod casts make my horrible traffic experiences much more interesting.

[ Edited: 15 March 2010 02:56 PM by craggles ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2010 02:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  32
Joined  2010-03-15
scepticeye - 15 March 2010 08:17 AM

...it is so sad that those who have chosen to wholly and completely adopt the mantra of AGW have essentially taken over this Podcast, alienating a huge group of rational and reasonable sceptics.

Anthropogenic climate change is not a “mantra”. It is a well-tested scientific theory, backed up by mountains of supporting evidence all the way down to some very basic physics. You cannot be ‘sceptical’ of that. You can be ignorant of it or… in denial.

> It also smears them, by association, as being anti science when the vast majority of them are basing their opposition to AGW on a sound and reasonable debate on the science.

Why not produce some “sound and reasonable” evidence-based science?

> Now I have no problem with debate.

Science is not a matter of debate. It is not a matter of democracy. You don’t get to debate what is true.

> But I abhor the assumption that one side decides IT is the champion of Science while their opponents are on the side of anti-science.

The science is only on one side.

> This is a deeply bigotted and prejudiced attitude and as an attitude it is indeed itself deeply anti-science. It reminds me of those that claim God is on THEIR side.

No, it’s the other way around. You’re experiencing the science community’s scorn because your position is anti-science. You are a denier of science.

> The CoI should not be in the business of adopting one position or another, where a reasonable and debatable controversy is in existence.

There is no “debatable controversy” in existence. There is no credible debate in the scientific community about the core science. The ‘debate’ is only amongst weathermen, economists, political ‘scientists’ and a mountain of sideshow blogs. It’s no different to ‘evolutionists’ and creationists.

> It should not be allying itself so transparently and openly with one side of ANY debate where there are reasonable arguments on both sides.

Really? How about intelligent design? How about astrology? How about voodoo? How about leprechauns?

> And more than anything, it should not be vilifying one side of a debate while wrapping itself in the cloak of ‘science’.

Why have you scare-quoted ‘science’? Do you know of a higher method to determine the truth?

> Whether you agree with me on AGW or not. Whether you have accepted AGW or not -

You’ve provided nothing to agree with. I accept and understand the overwhelming science.

> ...I urge CoI to change it’s course and resume a position where scepticism is welcomed instead of being vilified,

And immediately before you said:

> I only listened to the intro of this Podcast and it said enough for me.

You are not a sceptic. You deny all science that demonstrates that you are wrong.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2010 05:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  441
Joined  2009-12-17

QED

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2010 05:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  441
Joined  2009-12-17
CMooney - 15 March 2010 02:44 PM

Also….the Revkin show was most emphatically *not* a show about global warming….but if I am making climate “skeptics” upset, then yes, I guess I am doing my job properly ;>

Which defines the Podcast as a fully fledged anti sceptic one.  Closed to challenging voices. Closed to those who disagree. Sad.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2010 05:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  9
Joined  2010-03-15

Hold your horses mate, your talking more about opinions rather than who is skeptic and who is not. Which is more skeptic? being skeptical? or being skeptical of the skeptics? which has more value? its kind of an empty question really isn’t it?
95% of the worlds biggest skeptics (Scientists) have a consensus… so being ‘skeptical’ of that consensus does not give that group of people any more ‘skeptical points’. Its not the last on a chain of skepticism who is defined as the true ‘skeptics’. Otherwise I could just say I am skeptical of your skepticism of the climate science findings.

[ Edited: 15 March 2010 05:27 PM by craggles ]
Profile
 
 
   
1 of 3
1