Saturday, October 31, 2009

Economist Levitt Skewered by Geophysicist for Bogus Climate Claims

The blogosphere is already abuzz with reports about the climate science and policy chapter in Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's new book Superfreakonomics. I have not yet had an opportunity to read the chapter, which has been panned by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Center for American Progress, among others. Now, Raymond T. Perrehumbert, Louis Block Professor in the Geophysical Sciences and Levitt's colleague at the University of Chicago, has published a devastating open letter to Levitt at that not only trashes Levitt's analysis but questions his basic math skills!

I was a fan of the original Freakonomics, which was based on intensive and careful research Levitt had conducted over many years. I wonder how much time or effort either Levitt or Dubner devoted to studying the complex issues in climate science before writing their new book. Based on the arguments of Perrehumbert and others, it seems that their approach to this very large, important, and complicated problem was far too casual.

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