Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Editing and Climategate


By "editing" I don't mean things like that guy at wikipedia barring contributions of global warming skeptics. (See Murphy's link below)

I mean editing my own manuscript.

Note: For a good introduction to the scandal of climategate, for a transcript and vidio, see this link to the CBC's Rex Murphy. The video alone is terrific, but on the CBC National page are just a few links of Murphy's that will get you to things like evil "editing." ( Say, you may recall that in an earlier essay of mine I found a guy doing a 1984 style editing of Michael Crichton on YouTube: the rot is pervasive.)

I thought I would show you a "version 2.5" of my letter that was published in the local newspaper, the Calgary Herald. (I'm copying Paul Graham; he did a an essay called Version 1.0 regarding the purpose of modern essays) I want to encourage people to edit their own stuff. My point in this: Please don't feel your every word and comma is golden. Just let it go: After a flicker of sadness, I didn't mind my piece going to half length.

Context: A couple weeks after climategate broke, when the mainstream media were still not covering the story, a couple guest columnists (not reporters) addressed the issue of AGW: Anthropogenic (man made)  Global Warming. As you would have predicted from my Global Hot Air piece, someone wrote in to angrily to attack them. His letter was headlined Evidence still Valid and it ran, I guess, right up to (if not over) the maximum word count of 250 words. So I wrote one comfortably under that count. It ran a couple days later along with a geologist's letter. The geologist wrote that global warming has happened before, and will again, down the ages, but there is no proof of any link to people.

They gave my letter the headline Heroism

My first draft, 1.0, was over the allowed word count for Herald letters. As Stephen King notes in his book On Writing (recommended by web blog-essayist "Stevey") the formula is [second draft = first draft - 10%] So my shorter version 2.0, shown here, is what I sent in. I call the Herald's version 2.5. I have put the 2.5 parts in red inside my own 2.0 piece; then I've put 2.5 below.

I liked how two informed guest columnists, Mr. Gunter and Professor Cooper, (Nov. 24, Dec. 2) put :"climategate" (the leaked e-mail scandal) in perspective. I disliked how they were attacked by David Reich in his letter (Dec.3) headlined "Evidence Still Valid." Civic conversation, and scientific conversation too, can't happen if people can't be civil. At least Gunter and Cooper are semi-public figures, semi-used to confrontation. Not me. Such attacks are why "man-made climate change" lacks credibility: like the "scientists" exposed in the e-mails, some people want to limit conversation, not increase it. It takes a hero to go against the "consensus of scientists" who believe in attack. For me, Science is NOT consensus; one hero, like Galileo, is all I need. But, like Italians ignoring Galileo, Reid ignored how Gunter's piece, before Gunter even got to the issue of e-mail, had 12 column inches citing evidence from this year, such as Indian scientist's measuring Himalayan glaciers. Reid avoids such science. Reid even avoids common sense when he refers to "groups of climate-change skeptics surreptitiously accepting money from oil companies." My favorite skeptic was a writer too proud and too rich to take any money: the late Michail Crichton. His web site has terrific skeptical writing; he read every word of thick climate reports. While Reid is as bad example, Crichton is my hero.

Well. Looking at the colors, I see my letter was not so much "edited" as "cut for space." I was once asked over the telephone to cut to fit a space, and I e-mailed back a cut version right away. As before, my words were not golden: After a flicker of annoyance, I let them go and moved on.

For me, science is not consensus; one hero, like Galileo, is all I need. But, like Italians ignoring Galileo, David Mayne Reid ignored how Lorne Gunter's piece, before Gunter even got to the issue of e-mail, cited evidence from this year, such as Indian scientists measuring the Himalayan glaciers. Reid avoids common sense when he refers to "groups of climate-change skeptics surreptitiously accepting money from oil companies." My favourite skeptic was a writer too proud and too rich to take any money, the late Michael Crichton. His website has terrific skeptical writing; he read every word of thick climate reports. Crichton is my hero.

What of Al Gore's Oscar winning movie, An Inconvenient Truth?
Since climategate, two members of the academy of motion pictures want to force Gore to give back the Oscar they awarded him, according to the internet.

I see that even while the British prime minister referred to skeptics as being close to flat-earthers, (AP, in the Herald Dec. 6) the British schools, after a court case, are legally required to make nine scientific inaccuracies clear to children when showing it. (Herald, Dec. 18, headlined Why Aren't Al Gore's Pants on Fire?)

Sean Crawford,
a scientist and a gentleman,
Calgary Alberta

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