In one of the most memorable scenes in the classic movie, The Sting, grifter Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) cheats crime boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) out of $15,000 in a card game by secretly switching four jacks into his hand in place of the cards that were dealt him.
This scene, in which Lonnegan knows he was cheated but can’t prove it in front of the other players, sets the stage for the entire second half of the film.
I have always loved The Sting, and the crooked card game has always been my favorite scene. Nevertheless, something always bothered me about the memorable scene; it wasn’t very believable.
After all, how could Gondorff be certain none of the other players had been dealt a jack, which would result in Gondorff’s instant death if one of the other players called Gondorff out on it? Indeed, how could Gondorff be sure Lonnegan himself didn’t hold at least one jack, which would give Gondorff enough of an excuse in front of the others to kill Gondorff for cheating? Would Gondorff really risk his own life on the unlikely event that nobody else in the hand had been dealt a jack? In short, the scene was long on Hollywood entertainment but short on believability.
This scene came to mind earlier this month when the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) released its National Climate Assessment draft report. In an all-too-predictable plot, USGCRP’s government money-funded senior scientists claim global warming is doing to America what the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man did to downtown Manhattan , and only an avalanche of more government funding and big government programs can save the day.
The part of the draft report that reminded me of The Sting (even more than the report reminded me of Ghostbusters) was the listing of the senior scientists steering the draft report’s conclusions. While the crooked card game scene in The Sting stretched the limits of Hollywood believability, the list of senior scientists steering the USGCRP draft report stretches the limits “objective” public policy believability.
As investigative journalist Donna Laframboise reports, most of the 13 senior scientists controlling the draft report are prominently associated with environmental activist groups. These are the folks putting together an “objective” assessment of global warming and government policy recommendations.
Let’s review the background of seven of the 13 senior scientists:
- Chair of the report Jerry Melillo is a contributing author for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
- Vice Chair Gary Yohe is part of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Climate Witness Program.
- Richard Moss is a former vice president for WWF.
- James Buizer is on the Board of Directors of the environmental activist group Second Nature.
- Susanne Moser is a former staff scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
- Andrew Rosenberg is a director for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
- Donald Weubbles is an author for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
That makes seven of the 13 people charged with putting together what is supposed to be our government’s objective assessment on climate change having deep and undeniable ties with environmental activist groups. And we are supposed to take this report seriously?
Folks, you can’t just make this stuff up! If I was looking at two Hollywood movie scripts and one contained the crooked card game scene from The Sting and the other contained the crooked scientist list from the USGCRP draft report, I would say the crooked card game scene is the much more believable of the two. Heck, I would fear the crooked scientist list from the USGCRP draft report would get laughed right out of the movie theater.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time government funding has put together a farcical group of agenda-driven activists and passed it off as authoritative science. As I documented two years ago, the list of authors for the National Academy of Sciences’ America’s Climate Choices report also failed the laugh test.
Amazingly – or not – the media failed to report the blatant bias and pitiful lack of scientific expertise on the National Academy of Sciences panel. Heck, I bet the media over the years covered the crooked card game in The Sting more than they covered the pathetic lineup of authors for the NAS report.
Well, if those are going to be the rules of the game, maybe our government’s attempt to stack the USGCRP deck with biased scientists isn’t so far-fetched after all.
[First published at Forbes.]