Ah, science, that haven from politics and fakery:
Speech codes are rare in the industrialized, Western democracies. In Germany and Austria, for instance, it is forbidden to proselytize Nazi ideology or trivialize the Holocaust. Given those countries' recent histories, that is a restraint on free expression we can live with.
More curious are our own taboos on the subject of global warming. I sat in a roomful of journalists 10 years ago while Stanford climatologist Stephen Schneider lectured us on a big problem in our profession: soliciting opposing points of view. In the debate over climate change, Schneider said, there simply was no legitimate opposing view to the scientific consensus that man - made carbon emissions drive global warming. To suggest or report otherwise, he said, was irresponsible.
Wait a minute: Stephen Schneider is telling reporters not to look for opposing views? Because there's no honest debate? Is this the same Stephen Schneider who said this:
On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but - which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we'd like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This 'double ethical bind' we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.
That quote is from Discover magazine, October 1989. Schneider becomes quite irate when someone leaves out that last (six-word) sentence, but I don't see how it makes a difference. Professor Schneider has already admitted his scruples; the rest is just a matter of contingency.
A wise reporter (pause for the laughter to die down) ... a competent and curious science reporter (okay, I'll give you another moment) ... anyway, one should probably seek advice from someone a bit more, um, trustworthy on the subject of the perfection of the science.
The same goes for Al Gore and his, um, movie. Remember Al, the guy who invented the Internet? The same guy who liked to win debates by inventing statistics? Yeah, him. Next source, please....
(And no, that isn't argumentum ad hominem. We're talking here about taking someone's word for it on the facts and proper sourcing. I'm asking for honest and balanced sourcing, which is to say: Real facts and honest, careful argument. Schneider and Gore have both proven that they cannot be trusted to honestly relay any facts, and so we must pursue the matter elsewhere.)