Excerpt from The Inquisition of Climate Science:

To support his condemnation of consensus, Crichton said, “Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2…. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.” But Einstein’s equation is not a theory; scientists have shown it to be a fundamental law of physics. Such complex processes as global warming do not lend themselves to experiment and to simple but profound equations. Such processes are difficult to understand, to model, and to test. Knowledge grows slowly.

But let us probe E=mc2 a bit. Einstein proposed the mass–energy equivalence in a 1905 paper during a period of enormously productive ferment in physics, in what some have called his Annus Mirabilis, his "Miraculous Year” of pathbreaking papers, including those introducing special relativity and the photon theory of light. Einstein framed the title of the mass-energy paper as a question: “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend upon its Energy-Content?” and ended it with an “if”: “If the theory corresponds to the facts, radiation conveys inertia between the emitting and the absorbing bodies.” No one, and certainly not Einstein, claimed there was a consensus about E=mc2. Planck, for one, questioned whether Einstein was correct. It took the discovery of the positron in 1932 to show that Einstein had unearthed a law of physics. The evolution of the great equation shows how consensus builds and demonstrates the exact opposite of what Crichton claimed.

Crichton’s titles the appendix to his novel, State of Fear, “Why Political Science is Dangerous.” The appendix begins with the discredited theory of eugenics, which reached its evil culmination in Nazi Germany’s extermination of Jews and other people it deemed inferior. One wonders where Crichton is heading—why bring up the Nazis in a book about global warming?

From eugenics Crichton turns to Soviet agriculture under Stalin and Lysenko, and his intent becomes clear. In both Nazi eugenics and Stalinist agriculture, governments subverted science to politics, costing many lives. Crichton writes disingenuously, “I am not arguing that global warming is the same as eugenics. But the similarities are not superficial.” No matter how he tries to disguise the fact, Crichton is comparing global warming to two of the great evils of the 20th century.

Again, let us probe a Crichton claim. In the 1920s, to increase crop production, Soviet leaders forced farmers to give up their land to large collective farms. The farmers grew restive, production fell, and in the “breadbasket of Europe,” millions starved. Then came the Rasputin of Soviet science, Trofim Denisovitch Lysenko, who claimed he could make wheat flower earlier, putting more farmers to work and increasing grain production. That was biologically plausible, but Lysenko went further to claim that the offspring of the “vernalized” wheat would also flower earlier, as though a parent who lifts weights will have more muscular children. Genetics showed instead that characteristics are passed by genes, which are unaffected by traits the parent has acquired. Lysenko denounced geneticists as bourgeois, fascist, pseudoscientists: “fly-lovers and people haters.”

Lysenko’s image as the peasant genius outwitting the world’s biologists dovetailed perfectly with Soviet mythology. In 1938, the authorities placed him in charge of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences and in 1948 fired all geneticists and outlawed dissent from Lysenkoism. Purges sent his opponents to prison, some to the executioner. Lysenko was personally responsible for the imprisonment and death by malnutrition of the great Soviet biologist Nikolai Vavilov. Lysenkoism was not a Stalinist aberration; it ruled Soviet biology until the ouster of Khrushchev in the 1960s.

The parallels between the Lysenkoists and the global warming deniers are many. The deniers treat the scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with contempt, as though it were common knowledge that they are corrupt. Scientist-deniers like Freeman Dyson and Richard Lindzen vilify mainstream scientists like Hansen; others demand that NASA fire him. After Hansen criticized a presentation that Monckton was to make to the Kentucky state legislature, Monckton wrote the head of NASA accusing Hansen of having financial ties to Al Gore and demanding an investigation. Channeling Lysenko, Monckton calls climate scientists evil and likens them to war criminal Radovan Karadzic.

Lysenko accused his scientific opponents of trying to “wreck” the Soviet economy. Today’s deniers accuse climate scientists of wanting to transfer money and power from the people to the government, thus helping to bring down “industrialization and development and capitalism and the Western way.”

Instead of conducting experiments that would prove his theories, Lysenko used questionnaires from farmers fearful of a one-way ticket to the Gulag. Instead of doing research, the global warming deniers use petitions.

The Soviet media endorsed Lysenko and condemned his opponents, Pravda saying that he had “solved the problem of fertilizing the fields without fertilizer and minerals….” Today, right-wing American media like Fox News and The Wall Street Journal ridicule scientists and provide the deniers with a platform to say whatever they like without fear of contradiction.

In Lysenkoism, the Soviet State rejected biological science and made the denial of genetics state policy; today’s deniers urge our government to reject climate science and to make the denial of global warming state policy. Thus it is the deniers who resemble the Lysenkoists. Once again, Crichton’s claim turns out to be the exact opposite of the truth.

Consensus is how we create knowledge. To denounce consensus is to abandon reason.