The Right Coast

January 30, 2005
Fear of State of Fear
By Tom Smith

The NY Times reviews Michael Crichton's new thriller State of Fear
today, and to what should be noone's surprise, they don't like it. And they shouldn't. The book is a perfectly yummy piece of mind candy wrapped around the not implausible thesis that global warming is little more than a hoax. Crichton cites studies, including the well known account of how the politicians skewed the scientists' report in the last big UN study, to the effect that there's no good reason to believe that human activity is causing global warming, if it is happening at all.

If you like thrillers, or if you like Crichton, you should buy the book and read it. I'm not sure when Crichton became one of us. One interview I read suggested it was a home invasion robbery that changed his mind about gun control. Funny how that works. Who better than one of Hollywood's biggest players to write a novel in which the Martin Sheen character, after spouting off stupidly about how all that is natural is good, gets (spoiler ahead!) eaten by a bunch of depraved savages on a godforsaken isle in the middle of the Pacific. I can't be the only reader who found this moment as tastey as the fictional cannibals must have found the movie star.

Crichton is not an expert on climate. What he is is a Harvard trained MD turned writer producer who pulls down, I have read, about $100 million a year and can afford to do exactly as he pleases. He read up on global warming and reached the tentative conclusion that it is a crock. Rather than write an article in the Weekly Standard a few thousand people would have read, he wrote a novel that a few hundred thousand will. He's a clever fellow. He does a service by telling people that researchers have agendas, have to sing for their suppers, and that science has to be taken with a grain of salt. Hollywood, on the other hand, can just be dismissed entirely. They are never right, except by accident.

But my point is simply to commend State of Fear as very good fun, with a message that deserves to be listened to. For my part, come May, I think STOFFEAR would make a nice vanity plate on my Suburban.