The Wisdom of Crowds, Sarah Palin and Climategate

Packing up for Copenhagen this morning, I glanced at Instapundit to see a link to The Voice in My Head, noting that the AP had assigned eleven fact-checkers to Sarah Palin’s book as against five to the Climategate emails and documents. I’m not sure about the exact word count differential but it’s probably somewhere between one and a thousand to one (or more) in favor of the Climategate material. (Note to AP: you can find it all here.) And that doesn’t even begin to include the “degree of difficulty” differential.


But no one ever said life – or journalism – was fair. More importantly, this is another indication that conventional mainstream media fact-checking is fake and insufficient (except in cases like Palin where they have what we might call “ideological avidity”). On scientific and technical matters, especially, the “wisdom of crowds” is vastly preferable. The number of blogosphere readers with the expertise to understand and parse the Climategate papers dwarfs the staff that even the AP can provide. And, as the brilliant – and now indispensable – climate blog Wattsupwiththat points out, the AP’s science reporter Seth Borenstein is far too cozy with his sources.

So what do we do? Well, keep on trucking online. And now back to packing for Cop15, where I will do many little bit. Much thanks to all those who responded to the post below – in public and in private. Any help you can give is deeply appreciated.



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