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The <i>Los Angeles Times</i> building
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The Los Angeles Times building

Shut up, readers

Media

As secular liberal media continue to lose readers and viewers, you’d think they would not want to alienate whatever remains of their conservative patronage. Nope: The beat goes on, as do staff layoffs. Examples from the past several weeks:

GetReligion pointed out two Associated Press puff pieces praising same-sex marriage on Oct. 8 and Oct. 19. The latter story, though, had balance: It quoted pro-same-sex-marriage folks from both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The Los Angeles Times on Oct. 8 announced it would not print letters to the editor “that say there’s no sign humans have caused climate change.” The reason: That’s “asserting a factual inaccuracy.” The Times may be partly right: There is some sign of some human-caused climate change, but the extent of it is not clear, nor is the future direction of it, nor is the amount of human responsibility for climate change generally. Will the Times print letters stating that the evidence is not clear, or must we all just shut up and salute?

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Popular Science announced on Sept. 24 that evolution is under attack, so it will no longer print comments under articles. The magazine does not want to contribute space to the “work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine”—or should we now call it dogma?

Some good news: Denver Post editorial page editor Vincent Carroll wrote on Oct. 18, “Most skeptics of any sophistication recognize that global warming has occurred and appreciate that some or much of it in recent decades could be caused by human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. But they tend to believe, for example, that there are more uncertainties in the science than generally conceded, that the relative dearth of warming over the past 15 or more years is a blow to the models and that the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has demonstrated consistent bias in favor of alarmist interpretations.”

Carroll added, “Surely readers should be free to debate such points. For that matter, are there really no properly credentialed experts who question whether humans are largely responsible for the warming since the 1970s, as the IPCC maintains? Of course there are—and it would be editorial arrogance to exclude their views. Climatologist Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama in Huntsville declares on his blog that ‘evidence from my group’s government-funded research … suggests global warming is mostly natural, and that the climate system is quite insensitive to humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions and aerosol pollution.’”

Carroll’s conclusion: “Is that a factual inaccuracy or simply a minority view among climatologists? Is it factually inaccurate to declare ‘we don’t know’ how large the human contribution to warming is, as Judith Curry, professor of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, told an NPR reporter in August?” Carroll is “reluctant to shut down reader discussion on issues in which most scientists may share similar views. Where would it end? What other debates raging among our readers do the arbiters of truth believe we should silence?”

WORLD also won’t print statements we know are false, but we recognize how much we don’t know. We still go with what John Milton wrote in the 1640s: “And though all the windes of doctrin were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licencing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falshood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the wors, in a free and open encounter.”

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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