A Great Science Fiction Writer Passes - Goodbye Dr. Crichton

The world lost one of its best (in my opinion) science fiction writers on November 4.  Dr. Michael Crichton passed away after making huge impact on literature, arts, film and culture over the last 40 years (come on now, who really ever heard of a velociraptor before Jurassic Park).  I remember watching the original Andromeda Strain movie back in 1971 and while I was only in high school - I was fascinated by the story and the science.  My heart and sympathies go out to his family and I wish them well as I reflect on his excellent works.

Unfortunately the one area where I strongly disagreed with Dr. Crichton was in his interpretation of climate science.  Throughout his career he gave several talks and wrote one book that tend to confuse the issue of climate change.  His book "State of Fear" was a good thriller, but unfortunately the science it presents is very flawed and based on misinterpretations and cherry picking.  A review of it can be found over at RealClimate however suffice it to say that several of the extensive references he includes actually contradict the points he makes.  There is actually nothing wrong with this since it is a work of fiction - but that is the extent of it. "State of Fear" is not a reference or a scientific paper on the topic.

His speech "Aliens Cause Global Warming" was a much more direct assault on the science of global warming - essentially arguing that public policy should not be based on the current state of knowledge about global warming because the science is wrong.  The ironic thing is that he actually ignores the science and physics of global warming and instead bases his argument on a number of not terribly appropriate analogies.  He continues to throw in a number of other problems (e.g. confusing climate with weather or claiming that future technology will fix everything) which - all in all - makes for a poor scientific treatment of the subject (but - I would assume - an entertaining talk).

The world has lost a great writer and entertainer.  I think we owe him the favour of not remembering him for his least notable work.

Posted by John Cross on Friday, 7 November, 2008

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