Friday, July 28, 2006

Ann Coulter's War on Science

UPDATED: June 27, 2007
After this post, this post and this post, I really did not want to spend any more time on La Femme Coulter. I really thought I was done. Really. I did manage to studiously avoid her as she paraded (yet again) through the talk show circuit this week, spewing more book-selling nonsense like "Bill Clinton is a latent homosexual." But, I do watch Chris Matthew's Hardball. To my chagrin, there she was, defending her venomous style to a questioner by, believe it or not, bragging about her book sales:

UPDATED: 01-September-06 - [Welcome to visitors from Immunoblogging's Skeptic Circle. With the uptick in traffic, I noticed we had broken links on this page. Fixed now. Thanks for link.]
She also complains bitterly that Chris only wanted to talk about the "words she uses" as opposed to the ideas she writes. An interesting distinction that completely eludes me.

One of her ideas (in fact, a chapter title) is "The Left's War on Science". In that chapter, she cites research from Peter Dolan as evidence of how the left distorts or ignores scientific research when promoting the problem of global warming.
"About the same time, the journal Nature published the findings of scientist Peter Doran and his colleagues at the University of Illinois. Rather than using the UN's "computer models", the researchers took actual temperature readings. It turned out temperatures in the Antarctic have been getting slightly colder-not warmer- for the last thirty years." - Ann Coulter - "Godless" pages 190-191
Well, in the New York Times yesterday, Peter Doran makes it clear that it is actually Ann Coulter, who is incorrectly using and distorting his research in the service of her agenda.
Cold, Hard Facts By Peter Doran
Published: July 27, 2006
"In the debate on global warming, the data on the climate of Antarctica has been distorted, at different times, by both sides. As a polar researcher caught in the middle, I'd like to set the record straight... Our results have been misused as "evidence" against global warming by Michael Crichton in his novel "State of Fear" and by Ann Coulter in her latest book, "Godless: The Church of Liberalism." ...Our study did find that 58 percent of Antarctica cooled from 1966 to 2000. But during that period, the rest of the continent was warming. And climate models created since our paper was published have suggested a link between the lack of significant warming in Antarctica and the ozone hole over that continent. These models, conspicuously missing from the warming-skeptic literature, suggest that as the ozone hole heals thanks to worldwide bans on ozone-destroying chemicals all of Antarctica is likely to warm with the rest of the planet. An inconvenient truth?"
That would seem to indicate that it is is not just Ann's "choice of words" but her ideas don't stand up either.

Equally damning for Coulter's scientific pretensions, is this series of articles at Talk Reason (tip of the hat to blogger Scoobie Davis) where James Downard does some heavy lifting, debunking Ann Coulter's "Godless" anti-evolution screed. Excerpt:
"... Coulter's tome landed in my crosshairs on account of the third of her book (the last 4 of 11 chapters) devoted to assailing the Liberal's Creation Myth, Darwinian evolutionary theory. Her sashay into matters scientific delightfully illustrates a common theme in sloppy thinking. Coulter is a secondary citation addict.

Like a scholarly lemming, she compulsively reads inaccurate antievolutionary sources and accepts them on account of their reinforcement of what she wants to be true. It never once occurs to her that she might find it prudent to check on the reliability of those sources before accompanying them off the cliff, either by investigating critical takes on those sources, or by actually inspecting the original technical literature directly."

As it happens, Coulter has a skilled affinity for making snap (and wrong) judgments about papers she hadn't read.... The pattern is repetitive. Coulter draws on a newspaper piece rather than Bridgham et al. (2006) or even the commentary by Adami (2006). Bereft of any familiarity with the context or conclusions of that report, she boldly forged ahead to get the whole thing hilariously wrong."
Secondary Addiction Part I: Ann Coulter on Evolution
Secondary Addiction Part II: Ann Coulter on Evolution
Secondary Addiction Part III: Ann Coulter on Evolution

That is it. Now I am really done with posts about Ann Coulter.


UPDATE (06/27/2007): I kept my word. I have made no subsequent posts about Ann Coulter in the 11 months since this post. But on the occasion of the Godless paperback publication, and the subsequent revival of the Coulter "Crazy like a Fox" bookselling tour on co-conspirator Chris Mathew's Hardball ("Ok - we all got it now? - Coulter sells books, Matthews gets a ratings boost/ increased ad revenues, Edwards gets a contribution surge, Deal?") . Who am I kidding? I get a boost in links and traffic. We are all pathetic.

Anyway I thought I'd update the post as I am really really curious if she corrected or edited her misrepresentation of Doran's work in the paperback edition. I already overpaid for the hardcover edition last year, so I'll be damned if I will spend another nickle on the paperback. But If anyone reads it, let me know.

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