Fact Checking the Skeptical Environmentalist

Photo of Bjørn Lomborg by Emil Jupin, courtesy Wikimedia Commons


Danish political scientist Bjørn Lomborg has made his fame and a fortune publishing two books, The Skeptical Environmentalist (2001) and Cool It (2007). One reason for his success in muddying the media waters on matters of science regarding biodiversity and climate change is because he voluminously footnotes his own work.

So Howard Friel took on the unenviable task of fact checking Lomborg’s sources. Friel found enough to be skeptical about in Lomborg’s findings to write a whole book, The Lomborg Deception, due out with Yale University Press next month. From Sharon Begley’s book review in Newsweek:

“When Friel began checking Lomborg’s sources, ‘I found problems,’ he says. ‘As an experiment, I looked up one of his footnotes, found that it didn’t support what he said, and then did another, and kept going, finding the same pattern.’ He therefore took on the Augean stables undertaking of checking every one of the hundreds of citations in Cool It. Friel’s conclusion, as per his book’s title, is that Lomborg is ‘a performance artist disguised as an academic.'”

Hat tip to Pharyngula for the link.

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  • Julia Whitty is the environmental correspondent for Mother Jones. Her latest book is Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean. For more of her stories, click here.