Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Michael Crichton

 

To an outsider, the most significant innovation in the global warming controversy is the overt reliance that is being placed on models. Back in the days of nuclear winter, computer models were invoked to add weight to a conclusion: “These results are derived with the help of a computer model.” But now, large-scale computer models are seen as generating data in themselves. No longer are models judged by how well they reproduce data from the real world—increasingly, models provide the data. As if they were themselves a reality. – Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton (1942-2009) was famous for books such as The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park and its sequel The Lost World, all made into blockbuster movies. He planned on becoming a writer, but after beginning studies in 1960 at Harvard, he submitted an essay by George Orwell under his own name, earning a mark of “B−”. He said, “Now Orwell was a wonderful writer, and if a B-minus was all he could get, I thought I’d better drop English as my major.” So he reluctantly decided to go to Medical School, obtaining an MD in 1969. He grew disenchanted with medicine, which emphasized the interests and reputations of doctors over the interests of patients. He never practiced medicine, but by 1966 he published his first book Odds On under the name John Lange, so that his patients wouldn’t worry that they might be used for his plots.

Crichton’s fourth novel in 1968 was A Case of Need, a medical thriller where a pathologist investigates an apparent illegal abortion conducted by an obstetrician friend, causing the death of a young woman. The novel incorporated technology into the medical practice, earning him Edgar Award in 1969. Under his own name, The Andromeda Strain (1969) established Crichton as a best-selling author. It describes scientists investigating a deadly extraterrestrial microorganism that fatally clots human blood within two minutes. The film rights were sold for $250,000 and adapted into a successful 1971 movie.

In the 1970s, Crichton focused on TV and Movie scripts. ABC TV bought the rights to his novel Binary. Crichton directed the film, but another author wrote the script and it was a ratings success. He wrote and directed the 1973 film Westworld, a science fiction western-thriller about robots that run amok. Based on his 1974 pilot script 24 Hours, he was the creator and an executive producer of the television drama ER. By 1994, Crichton had a #1 movie Jurassic Park, a #1 TV show ER, and a #1 book Disclosure.

In 2003, Crichton gave a talk at Caltech called Aliens Cause Global Warming, which is the source of the initial quote above. Other great quotes from that talk:

This fascination with computer models is something I understand very well. Richard Feynmann called it a disease. I fear he is right,

Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results.

The fact is that the present structure of science is entrepreneurial, with individual investigative teams vying for funding from organizations that all too often have a clear stake in the outcome of the research—or appear to, which may be just as bad. This is not healthy for science.

In 2005, Crichton criticized the consensus view on global warming. He stated that reducing CO2 is vastly more difficult than commonly thought. Also that year, Crichton criticized environmental groups for failing to incorporate complexity theory, using the history of Yellowstone Park of what not to do.

While telling captivating stories, Michael Crichton shows great logic and competence. There are other writers in that category, such as Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, etc. Along with other great scientists like Feynmann, Crichton showed the fallacies being practiced in modern science:

Once you abandon strict adherence to what science tells us, once you start arranging the truth in a press conference, then anything is possible. In one context, maybe you will get some mobilization against nuclear war. But in another context, you get Lysenkoism. In another, you get Nazi euthanasia. The danger is always there, if you subvert science to political ends.

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There are 25 comments.

  1. RightAngles Member

    I wish he were still here to talk to these climate alarmists.

    • #1
    • January 6, 2020, at 3:10 PM PST
    • 18 likes
  2. James Hageman Moderator

    Thank you for the information about Crichton. I read him from time to time and have yet to be disappointed. His prefaces are particularly good!

    • #2
    • January 6, 2020, at 3:10 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. philo Member

    State of Fear (2004) is well worth the time to read. Ahead of its time in exposing the hoax.

    • #3
    • January 6, 2020, at 3:26 PM PST
    • 17 likes
  4. Vectorman Thatcher
    Vectorman

    Join other Ricochet members by submitting a Quote of the Day post, the easiest way to start a fun conversation. There are many open days on the January Signup Sheet, including 1 this week. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #4
    • January 6, 2020, at 3:32 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I loved his book, Travels. I don’t remember if it was great writing, but it was fascinating!

    • #5
    • January 6, 2020, at 3:59 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  6. Addiction Is A Choice Member

    Oh, Michael Crichton! I read Jurassic Park when it came out. I loved the book so much I refused to see the movie! For years! I just knew they were gonna ruin it. I eventually did see it (about 10 years later) and loved the movie. 

    • #6
    • January 6, 2020, at 4:07 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  7. philo Member

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    Oh, Michael Crichton! I read Jurassic Park when it came out. I loved the book so much I refused to see the movie! For years! I just knew they were gonna ruin it. I eventually did see it (about 10 years later) and loved the movie.

    Whatever you do, don’t see The Lost World.

    • #7
    • January 6, 2020, at 4:34 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Vectorman: Once you abandon strict adherence to what science tells us, once you start arranging the truth in a press conference, then anything is possible. In one context, maybe you will get some mobilization against nuclear war. But in another context, you get Lysenkoism. In another, you get Nazi euthanasia. The danger is always there, if you subvert science to political ends.

    I have pointed this out before, but Eisenhower’s famous “Military-Industrial Complex” speech also includes this:

    Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite.

    • #8
    • January 6, 2020, at 5:33 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  9. Mark Camp Member

    Vectorman: Crichton: “Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.”

    This is an expression of a positivist, a soldier of the counter-revolution against the scientific revolution represented by Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, and all the other great thinkers of reason-based science.

    To me it not an example of great thoughts, but of greatly conventional thinking.

    • #9
    • January 6, 2020, at 6:45 PM PST
    • 1 like
  10. Vectorman Thatcher
    Vectorman

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Vectorman: Crichton: “Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.”

    This is an expression of a positivist, a soldier of the counter-revolution against the scientific revolution represented by Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, and all the other great thinkers of reason-based science.

    To me it not an example of great thoughts, but of greatly conventional thinking.

    I see what you did there, as I was thinking of using James Clerk Maxwell for a Quote of the Day. Maxwell was more ahead of his time than Einstein, as Einstein recognized aspects of Relativity in his equations. However, any scientist that happens to be correct is not a counter-revolutionary.

    • #10
    • January 6, 2020, at 7:02 PM PST
    • Like
  11. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    How did we go from brilliant guys with MDs to being lectured by 16 year-old high school dropouts?

    • #11
    • January 6, 2020, at 7:25 PM PST
    • 16 likes
  12. Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler Member

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    How did we go from brilliant guys with MDs to being lectured by 16 year-old high school dropouts?

    Entropy

    • #12
    • January 6, 2020, at 8:17 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  13. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    How did we go from brilliant guys with MDs to being lectured by 16 year-old high school dropouts?

    Because reality doesn’t advance statist interests.

    • #13
    • January 7, 2020, at 4:43 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  14. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    I have a mild objection to the description of Crichton’s reason for quitting Medicine. I was a medical student doing a surgery rotation at Harvard in 1965. I knew some of Crichton’s good friends. The Mass General residents I got to know were pretty much devoted to Medicine but there was some real cynicism. It might be part of elite institutions. Some was humor, black variety, and I understand that. It might be he was put off by some of it, as medical students are pretty far down the totem pole, and don’t always appreciate that sort of humor.

    His opinions on Science were right on and it is a tragedy that he is not with us now.

    • #14
    • January 7, 2020, at 6:07 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  15. David Foster Member
    David Foster Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Nothing wrong with mathematical models, properly developed and used, in fact they are essential. You can mathematically model the position of the planets for the next thousand years with excellent accuracy. You can predict the ship hull going through the water with a useful level of accuracy. You can model many systems, such as the interactions of predators and prey, in a manner which is conceptually valuable even if not much good for precise predictions.

    The problems arise when:

    –The model is not, or cannot be, calibrated against actual results

    –The model is used to argue for a particular position, but the logic and source code are not released

    –The underlying mechanisms assumed in the model are not well-understood

    –The model developers and promoters lack humility.

    • #15
    • January 7, 2020, at 8:11 AM PST
    • 16 likes
  16. Steve C. Member

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Nothing wrong with mathematical models, properly developed and used, in fact they are essential. You can mathematically model the position of the planets for the next thousand years with excellent accuracy. You can predict the ship hull going through the water with a useful level of accuracy. You can model many systems, such as the interactions of predators and prey, in a manner which is conceptually valuable even if not much good for precise predictions.

    The problems arise when:

    –The model is not, or cannot be, calibrated against actual results

    –The model is used to argue for a particular position, but the logic and source code are not released

    –The underlying mechanisms assumed in the model are not well-understood

    –The model developers and promoters lack humility.

    Mostly #4

     

    • #16
    • January 7, 2020, at 8:32 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  17. Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Inactive

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Vectorman: Crichton: “Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.”

    This is an expression of a positivist, a soldier of the counter-revolution against the scientific revolution represented by Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, and all the other great thinkers of reason-based science.

    To me it not an example of great thoughts, but of greatly conventional thinking.

    Nice take, Mark. We know that Einstein had theories that, when they were conceived, could not be verifed or proven. Later on, however, even after Einstein’s death, they were.

    • #17
    • January 7, 2020, at 8:32 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  18. Steve C. Member

    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Vectorman: Crichton: “Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.”

    This is an expression of a positivist, a soldier of the counter-revolution against the scientific revolution represented by Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, and all the other great thinkers of reason-based science.

    To me it not an example of great thoughts, but of greatly conventional thinking.

    Nice take, Mark. We know that Einstein had theories that, when they were conceived, could not be verifed or proven. Later on, however, even after Einstein’s death, they were.

    I don’t see how these two two ideals conflict. 

    • #18
    • January 7, 2020, at 8:37 AM PST
    • Like
  19. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce Caward Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I loved his book, Travels. I don’t remember if it was great writing, but it was fascinating!

    This book had so many wacky assertions and crazy experiences that I would normally roll eyes and move on. But it was Michael Chrichton. Michael effing Chrichton. Definitely not a nut. So to this day I give these tales a lot more attention. Very interesting book.

    • #19
    • January 7, 2020, at 9:59 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I loved his book, Travels. I don’t remember if it was great writing, but it was fascinating!

    This book had so many wacky assertions and crazy experiences that I would normally roll eyes and move on. But it was Michael Chrichton. Michael effing Chrichton. Definitely not a nut. So to this day I give these tales a lot more attention. Very interesting book.

    There are two events that got to me. The first was his climbing–Kilimanjaro? That was nuts. The funny one was how he kept getting into trouble regarding the room he stayed in. A person’s head is never supposed to be higher than a Buddha statue in the same room. Crichton was very tall–much taller than where the Buddha was sitting. Poor guy had to nearly crawl around in his own room to keep from offending others!

    • #20
    • January 7, 2020, at 11:47 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  21. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    philo (View Comment):

    State of Fear (2004) is well worth the time to read. Ahead of its time in exposing the hoax.

    Especially the appendices. Those could be published separately in short form to counter the climate hoax. 

    • #21
    • January 7, 2020, at 11:57 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  22. Mark Wilson Member
    Mark Wilson Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    Vectorman: Once you abandon strict adherence to what science tells us, once you start arranging the truth in a press conference, then anything is possible. In one context, maybe you will get some mobilization against nuclear war. But in another context, you get Lysenkoism. In another, you get Nazi euthanasia. The danger is always there, if you subvert science to political ends.

    I have pointed this out before, but Eisenhower’s famous “Military-Industrial Complex” speech also includes this:

    Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite.

    Hard to imagine the President of the United States used to address the public on such a complex topic using such sophisticated language.

    • #22
    • January 7, 2020, at 1:32 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  23. Mark Camp Member

    Mark Wilson (View Comment):
    Hard to imagine the President of the United States used to address the public on such a complex topic using such sophisticated language.

    Yes.

    But it was a long time ago. On average, the annual rate of decline in the level of education of the sentient part of the electorate has been small. 

    That it has dropped so much on an absolute scale is the always-amazing effect of compound interest on the dumbing-down investment of the statists over 70 years or so.

    • #23
    • January 7, 2020, at 1:43 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  24. Kim McAllister Member

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    Oh, Michael Crichton! I read Jurassic Park when it came out. I loved the book so much I refused to see the movie! For years! I just knew they were gonna ruin it. I eventually did see it (about 10 years later) and loved the movie.

    I saw the movie first, then read the novel. At night. Alone. I was stunned at how absolutely terrifying the book was compared to the movie. John Hammond was certainly no “Walt Disney” like grandfather! After that I started reading all the Michael Crichton I could lay my hands on. An amazing author.

    • #24
    • January 7, 2020, at 4:30 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  25. Katie Koppelman Member

    You forgot to mention The Hot Zone. 

    • #25
    • January 7, 2020, at 7:51 PM PST
    • 1 like