Interest groups and other partisan organizations (whether they’re on the Left or Right) have a core group of “experts” whom they trot out to the public when necessary to help support their positions. Typically, the expert is introduced in a report or article with nothing more than a reference to his or her professional credential — professor of (blank) studies at the University of You-Know-What. The idea is to give your expert a scholarly, objective veneer.
Usually, groups with an agenda are careful not to disclose too much about their experts — lest they be viewed as mere ideologues on the issue at hand. The key word in that last sentence is “usually.”
Recently, I stumbled on a religious website that had posted this article, written by the ultra-conservative Cybercast News Service (CNSNews.com). The article took issue with a Russian scientist and some unnamed others who suggested that global warming may have contributed to the tsunami that killed many thousands in south Asia.
Instead of simply writing ...
[Patrick J.] Michaels, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, believes that claims of human-caused catastrophic “global warming” are scientifically unfounded.… CNSNews.com identified its expert as follows:
[Patrick J.] Michaels, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of a new book “Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media,” believes that claims of human-caused catastrophic “global warming” are scientifically unfounded.Gee, what a shock. Someone who has written a book subtitled, “The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming …” believes that global warming was not a contributing factor.
Yes, I’m sure Michaels approached this issue with a plenitude of objectivity.
I'm torn. On the one hand, I almost want to applaud CNSNews.com's willingness to come clean about their expert. But, on the other hand, I'm left to wonder whether interest groups are so focused on delivering their (predetermined) message that they give little or no thought to its credibility.