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Just Around the Corner

October 30, 2009

Raymond Pierrehumbert (U Chicago, Geophysical Sciences) has a must-read open letter to his colleague Steven Levitt. It’s direct, simple, and collegial — in a fuck you kinda way. Here, see for yourself:

By now there have been many detailed dissections of everything that is wrong with the treatment of climate in Superfreakonomics , but what has been lost amidst all that extensive discussion is how really simple it would have been to get this stuff right. The problem wasn’t necessarily that you talked to the wrong experts or talked to too few of them. The problem was that you failed to do the most elementary thinking needed to see if what they were saying (or what you thought they were saying) in fact made any sense. If you were stupid, it wouldn’t be so bad to have messed up such elementary reasoning, but I don’t by any means think you are stupid. That makes the failure to do the thinking all the more disappointing.

You’re not stupid. You’re just an imbecile. (I love to watch the big kids battle it out!)

Prof. Pierrehumbert kindly provides a helpful map from Levitt’s office to his own, should they ever decide to beer summit. Chicago residents, please call me if you catch them sneaking a pint.

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