Everything in Superfreakonomics About Global Warming Is Wrong

Tim Lambert in Deltoid:

Superfreakonomics-bookcover I reviewed Freakonomics when it first came out and really liked it. So I was looking forward to the sequel Superfreakonomics. Unfortunately, Levitt and Dubner decided to write about global warming and have made a dreadful hash of it. The result is so wrong that it has even Joe Romm and William Connolley in agreement.

So what went wrong? One possibility is that Freakonomics was superficially plausible but also rubbish, and it was only when they wrote about an area where I was knowledgeable that I noticed. But I don't think this is the correct explanation. I've read the journal papers on sumo cheating, Lojack and abortion and crime that they cite in Freakonomics and they are fairly represented. Superfreakonomics, on the other hand, misrepresents the scientific literature on global warming. The difference here is that the papers cited by Freakonomics were Levitt's own work and he understood them, while Levitt and Dubner do not understand the climate science literature. This by itself would not be fatal, but what has taken them off the cliff is the Freakonomics formula: “What you thought you knew about X is wrong!”. If you want to apply this formula to global warming you can easily find many superficially plausible arguments on why the mainstream science is wrong. Bang those into your chapter on global warming without bothering to check their accuracy and the only work that remains is the tour to promote your book.

But enough on why they got everything wrong. Let's look at what they got wrong.

More here. [Thanks to Sean Carroll.]

And speaking of global warming, check out this “cool” project for kids. [Thanks to Jane Langley.]