Follow-up up Wall Street Journal about Super Freakonomics Dustup

I wrote the other day about the ‘amusing’ dust-up between the RealClimate blog and Levitt and Dubner, authors of Super Freakonomics.

Well today I see in the Wall Street Journal, a defense of Levitt and Dubner, but it’s an odd one. It actually supplies no facts (unlike the article I sited) just a criticism of ‘pro-climate-change’ (forgive the generalization) people not being open to new ideas:

“But perhaps their biggest sin, which is also the central point of the chapter, is pointing out that seemingly insurmountable problems often have cheap and simple solutions. Hence world hunger was largely conquered not by a massive effort at population control, but by the development of new and sturdier strains of wheat and rice. Hence infection and mortality rates in hospitals declined dramatically as doctors began to appreciate the need to wash their hands” (from the Wall Street Journal)

Other than being amused by the tone of “An Open Letter To Steve Levitt“, the original cat fight paper that I cited (note that if Steven Levitt was a woman I would probably be accused of sexism by calling it a cat fight) in my previous post, that article itself had a bit of fishyness to me.

My eyes rolled a little when the RealClimate article used a google search for ‘world electricity consumption‘ as the starting point of a highly quantitative argument (Google’s answer, via, is 16.83 Trillion KWh / year, in 2005). Wolfram Alpha says it’s 15.45 Trillion KWh, in 2007) Pretty close, so probably that’s ok.

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