A Tale of Two Op-Eds

Last week, I unsubscribed from the New York Times after they published an op-ed advocating censorship. This week, a whole bunch of people (many of whom have blue check marks) have gotten upset about Bret Stephens’s first column in the paper, which said that claiming absolute certainty about climate science is counterproductive and dishonest.

Above is the tweet with the article. Below are some responses to the tweet:

musician

Chuck is a musician and blogger. He is also disappointed. NYT = fake news for publishing an op-ed that questions the value of asserting absolute certainty on climate change. Questioning the certainty of climate science = science denial.

erick

Erick writes at HuffPo, that paragon of journalistic responsibility. He has written hard-hitting pieces such as “Bernie Sanders’ Jumpshot Is More Impressive Than His Primary Win” and “Here Is President Obama’s 2016 March Madness Bracket.” How dare the NYT say anything about climate change that doesn’t reinforce what everyone else is saying all the time, namely, that if you deviate from the consensus at all, then you’re anti-science.

monica

I guess Monica is just some kind of writer. But she recognizes that Times readers don’t necessarily have much critical thinking ability, and that therefore they can only publish things that Monica agrees with, lest somebody be led astray.

What is unbelievable to me is that it doesn’t seem like Stephens is making a particularly strong claim. He concedes that the earth is growing warmer, and that humans are playing a significant part in contributing to the earth’s increased temperature. That is all the science really tells us, as Stephens notes. The main point of the article is not to deny climate change, but to question the strategy of people who want to pass legislation to counteract climate change.

And his point is obviously correct. The more dogmatically you hold to a position, the more you assert that you are 100 percent correct, the more likely it is that other people will think something is fishy. The lady doth protest too much, methinks. If you want people to listen to you, don’t tell them that they are stupid if they disagree with you. No one will want to engage with you, because you have made conversation impossible.

I can’t say for sure, but it seems like Stephens’s column provoked more outrage than Ulrich Baer’s op-ed on free speech, which I find quite disturbing. I base this on the twitter responses to the tweet above versus the tweet below. Thus, this claim might only apply to people in the media, who are disproportionately likely to be on twitter. Nevertheless, what this indicates is that the media is more committed to its claims about climate change than it is to free speech. They’ve got it totally backwards.

Anyhow, I liked Stephens’s column, and I’m glad the NYT published it. I won’t be renewing my subscription, but I will use up an occasional free article view on Stephens, I am sure.

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