By William M. Briggs
Dean Baquet and Sam Dolnick
Dear Misters Baquet and Dolnick:
Please accept my application for the position of Climate Change Editor, the details of which I saw online.
About the material your paper has been printing about global warming, I've concluded that you guys need me as badly as Bill Clinton needs an audience. Better, just as you want in a new editor, I'm "obsessed with finding new ways to connect with readers and new ways to tell this vital story."
For instance, here's an angle you haven't so far considered. We could show readers that global warming models have failed at higher rates than Larry King's marriages. Budget forecasts by President Obama are more accurate than the temperatures predicted by global climate models (GCMs). A smart man would trust a GCM as much as he would a politician's campaign promise.
Five'll get you twenty, your readers don't know how lousy the models are. And I'd bet my first-year's salary (I heard you pay well) that they'll cheer when reminded that it was once a firm scientific principle that rotten models imply busted theories. In this case, it means the existence of serially unskillful GCMs are nearly certain proof that carbon dioxide is not the demon gas it's been painted.
We'd run this headline: "Wonderful News: Global-Warming-Of-Doom Proved Almost Surely False." We'd lead with a cheering paragraph that we don't need to be as nearly panicked as your (and I hope soon my) paper has been.
I know what you're thinking. Same thing our readers will be thinking. "But how can this be? I thought it was certain that the world was soon to end unless massive government programs were instituted." We'd have them hooked! Guaranteed boost in circulation.
I envision a series in which we expose the schemers, hangers-on, band-wagoners, activists, fund-raisers, self-deluded, egos (I almost said "politicians," which would have been redundant), and even frauds and bamboozlers whose claimed knowledge of fluid physics on a rotating sphere is as artificial as that thing perched on Donald Trump's cranium. Let's call out these folks who have turned "climate change" into an unhealthy living.
How many times have we heard psychologists, sociologists, philosophers, economists, and other un-trained scientifically ignorant (I use this word in its technical sense) academics lecture us on the horrors that await us under "climate change," when they wouldn't know a cloud parameterization from a sigma coordinate? I'll tell you: too often.
I do know, though. It is the Times's tremendous luck that I'm at liberty, ready, and willing to take on this monumental task. Together we can screw people's heads back on straight and get them to worry about something really important. Like the rise of politics dictating science and the corrupting influence of money.
I am an actual bona fide scientist. I have published actual articles in the Journal of Climate, among many others. My specialty is in the value and goodness of models, and the expense and badness of bad science. I've written a best-seller (my mom bought two copies) on the subject: Uncertainty: The Soul of Modeling, Probability &Statistics. I know this is a presumptuous questions, but if I get the job can I get this reviewed in the Book Review? Might boost sales.
Climate models have the stink of old garlic on them, but they smell like the purest roses next to the putrescence of some models loved by academics driven beyond their ability to resist to publish (or perish). There is limitless material we can mine, exposing scientism, correcting massive over-certainty, putting science back on rational grounds.
Given its tone, it's understandable if you think this application is a lark. It isn't. I'm earnest. If offered, I'd take the job and do better with it than anybody else you'd find. With me, you're assured of always getting my true and honest opinion.
Bonus: Roger Kimball called me "the civilized world's most amusing statistician."
Many of these are more technical or difficult, and do not illustrate how I'd write for a Times audience; nevertheless, they give you an idea of the scope and range of my interests.
I look forward to hearing from you. I can start any time. I'm only a few blocks north of your offices.
William M. Briggs
*Update: In case it's not clear, I did apply for the job officially, and this really is the letter I sent.
(c) 2016 William M. Briggs. This is Mr. Briggs' first contribution to Enter Stage Right. At last word he has yet to assume the job offered by the Times.