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.