John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Utah House is in session; get popcorn


It is a shame and a loss to the country that newspapers’ cost-cutting has sometimes included their statehouse bureau staffs, for it is in this great republic’s state governments that our native buffoonery comes into gorgeous flower.

I offer this specimen: The House of Representatives in Utah has adopted a resolution that current science about climate change represents “a well organized and ongoing effort to manipulate global temperature data in order to produce a global warming outcome.”

The word conspiracy was removed by amendment from the resolution, presumably by members hoping to retain some shred of reputation for their chamber, but I think you get the drift.

Yesterday on Diane Rehm’s show on National Public Radio, a representative of what I took to be a business-funded nonprofit said that concern about climate change and global warning had been grossly exaggerated by the “alarmist community.” He also talk about scientific “scandals” and used so many other loaded terms that I came to suspect that he might have ties to an alarmist community himself.  

Science over time is self-correcting, when left to scientists. Hypotheses get tested and mistaken ones identified, consensus on theory gives way to revised consensus, and frauds and misconduct ultimately come to light. The worthies of the Utah House might recollect from the Roman Catholic Church’s embarrassing experience with Galileo that it is ill-advised for non-scientists to decree what science says. 

On the other hand, a wealth of free entertainment is there to be had. I look forward to the exposure by the Beehive State’s lawmakers of the Darwinian conspiracy and the Copernican conspiracy, and others I cannot yet imagine.