The Associated Press is running with a rather tendentious headline at the moment, "AP FACT CHECK: On climate science, most GOP candidates fail." For their fact check, the AP asked a group of Ph.D. scientists to grade presidential candidates based on their statements about global warming. To keep this supposedly unbiased, they didn't tell the scientists which statements were from which candidate. I suppose the thinking is that if these scientists had any preexisting and unrelated political biases it would be hard to tell Republican rhetoric on global warming from Democratic rhetoric, which is laughable. The end result is that Hillary Clinton gets rated an "A" and all the GOP candidates flunk, and it's presented as some kind of unassailable scientific judgment.
But consider this appalling quote from the AP article:
"This individual understands less about science (and climate change) than the average kindergartner," Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor, wrote of Cruz's statements. "That sort of ignorance would be dangerous in a doorman, let alone a president."
For anyone following the debates over climate change, the fact AP would highlight Michael Mann's opinions tells you everything you need to know. Mann's currently suing a number of conservative critics, including National Review, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Mark Steyn, and a handful of individuals for pointing out that Mann's own climate science has been far from reliable. A number of people and organizations who are neither conservative nor necessarily disagree with Mann on climate science think his lawsuit is both friviolous and an attack on free speech. Even if that weren't the case, Mann's obvious hostility and ridiculous hyperbole are discrediting as it is. Cruz's opinions on global warming mean that he knows less about science in general than a kindergartner? Please.
It's insulting that the Associated Press would use someone as obnoxious and biased as Mann as a blatant appeal to authority. In fact, when challenged on this point by The Federalist's David Harsanyi, the AP's Seth Borenstein responded with a somewhat snotty and transparently fallacious dismissal about expertise:
It can't be emphasized enough that there needs to be a bright line between science informing politics and scientists dictating politics. While diagnosing the reality of global warming may be a scientific matter, what to do about it is largely a policy matter. One can believe quite strongly in global warming and the need to address any resulting problems, and still believe that hamstringing the economy and energy production is a far from optimal solution. Consider for a moment the cronyism involved between Democrats and green energy subsidies. It would be nice to know why the media are happy to have Michael Mann lambast Ted Cruz for mere rhetoric, but climate scientists have been strangely silent about the fact Obama administration policy is making solar panels more expensive. Or the fact that Democratic senators climate scientists think that people who publicly disagree with them on the issue should be thrown in jail on racketeering charges, and there's not a panoply of media critics decrying such anti-democratic tactics.
In any event, Borenstein and the AP should be ashamed of such discreditable nonsense. The next time Rand Paul or Ben Carson criticize Obamacare, I don't imagine turning around and saying "What's your medical degree in?" would be considered a satisfactory response to preempt liberal criticism.