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FactCheck Mailbag, Week of March 20-26

This week, readers sent us letters about science “myths” and comments that Energy Secretary Steven Chu made about higher gasoline prices in 2008.

In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the email we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.


Science Myths

Your debunking of [“Santorum’s Science,” March 14] repeats several “myths” that are contentious and show a bias on the author’s part, or a lack of understanding.

I’ll mention two of them:

The [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences] report “that 97% of climate scientists believe” is less than stellar when you actually dig into the paper, the methodology, and how it was published. I advise you to look into that.

Unlike politics, science doesn’t depend on consensus or voting, just hypotheses that predict something should happen that is LATER observed. Gather enough successful predictions and you might have a theory, until some scientist later shows that it was wrong, which happens all the time in some sciences. (Is coffee good for me this week?)

The second myth you repeated is that the [United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] is a scientific “body.” It’s well known that the IPCC is a politically driven assessment of some selected science papers by some partisan scientists, many of whom have deep ties to [non-governmental organizations] of a political nature. It’s the UN, how could it be otherwise?

You should have done some fact-checking whether the UN’s IPCC or PNAS fast tracked papers are “authorities” you wish to defer to. Junk science exists everywhere, and probably always will. FactCheck.org just showed a political bias.

Cecil Coupe
Boise, Idaho

What Steven Chu Said About Higher Gas Prices

I’ve read Robert Farley’s piece on [President] Obama and gas [“Obama Wanted Higher Gasoline Prices?,” March 23] and found one fact that wasn’t checked.

Although he did cover for the president by saying that [Secretary of Energy Steven] Chu said that [“Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe”] in 2008 before Obama was elected, what he failed to say was that he did say that before the 2008 election and that this was his belief. And any smart person can only assume that Obama based his appointment of Chu on his previous statements and positions.

Sure, as soon as Chu changed jobs he changed his talking points, but most people understand you don’t change your positions once elected or appointed, you just learn how to lie about them better.

Bill Corrigan
San Antonio, Texas