The misapprehension of Freeman Dyson

Waiting for the December Atlantic to arrive, and reading some of it on-line. There’s a very strange article, a caring attack on Freeman Dyson.

The scientific infelicities are few, like this, surely accidental one:

Their schedule had them landing on Mars by 1965 and Saturn by 1970.

and there’s some smooth writing in the story, including this gem, about the asteroid Eros:

The Erotic climate is not perfect.

But the article, which is meant to be a critique of Dyson’s controversial position on climate change, never really engages his arguments. (Hence the absence of scientific infelicity; there is an outright absence of discussions of science.) Now I’m pretty skeptical of Dyson’s arguments myself, but just calling him smart, but crazy, is not the way to go:

The question that phrases itself now, in the minds of many, is: how could someone as smart as Freeman Dyson be so dumb?

It seems there was raw material here both for an interesting story about Dyson (who is a fascinating figure) and an examination of good-faith criticisms of mainstream thought on climate change. There are clearly people with a vested interest (ahem, Exxon, etc.) in critiquing the scientific mainstream; there are also clearly thoughtful people, like Dyson, who criticize it on other grounds. Unlike the first class of “skeptics” the skeptics, sans quotation marks, should, at the very least, have their arguments examined in good faith, in a venue like this.

The Danger of Cosmic Genius – Magazine – The Atlantic.

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