Terence Corcoran "Sincerely Sorry" for his Sloppiness

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Like a child apologizing through his teeth, Financial Post Editor Terence Corcoran offers an apology today that is anything but contrite.

Most obviously, Corcoran backed off several actionable errors that he had earlier inflicted upon Globe and Mail writer Charles Montgomery and University of Victoria Prof. Andrew Weaver. But when it came, for example, to acknowledging that Montgomery was correct in describing how a University of Calgary political scientist helped launder oil money for the climate-change denying Friends of Science, Corcoran immediately twisted himself into another denial. Corcoran writes:

“… Mr. Montgomery’s letter is mystifying. He says he stands by the key assertion in his story, which “revealed” that University of Calgary Professor Barry Cooper helped raise some corporate and other money to fund the Friends of Science group. I never challenged that point. In fact, I repeated and confirmed it. The issue I raised is why it should be wrong for corporations to support skeptics – and none do, to any measurable extent – while corporations that back consensus science are doing the right thing.”

That was my emphasis. This aside – “and none do” – stands in direct contradiction to a truth that Corcoran had acknowledged in the previous sentence. (My mother always told me not to say things that were in demonstrable contradiction to the truth – a rule that I found was especially important to remember in situations where you were destined to give yourself away in same conversation).

Take the case at hand: oil industry coporations directed funding to Friends of Science, to a very measurable extent. FOS accepted the money and spent it spreading skepticism about climate change. And, though Corcoran argues this should be okay, the people involved went out of their way to cover up the link. Even Corcoran, having admitted it, then denies it in the same paragraph. Does this, perhaps, point to a guilty conscience?

Corcoran also writes: “Regarding Andrew Weaver’s letter, surely no one would take literally my comment on his being a ‘civil servant’ at a division of Environment Canada.”

Then he goes on to argue that because Weaver has distinguished himself, in a peer-reviewed process, as being worthy of millions of dollars in federal research support that he is, de facto, in the government’s employ.

This is tantamount to my arguing that because Corcoran’s paper depends upon advertisers for its funding, that he is, de facto, on the payroll of, say, Landmark Oil and Gas (which ran a prominent ad in today’s Financial Post).

Corcoran then retreats with unseemly haste into a discussion of his beloved hockey stick. This much battered graph is one of perhaps a dozen climate reconstructions that all demonstrate the extent to which CO2 is warming the planet. To a greater or lesser degree, all of these graphs show a hockey-stick curve at the end of the 20th century: the world is getting warmer.

But the “Mann” hockey stick had a statistical flaw, the discovery of which sent Corcoran and his fellow deniers into paroxisms of delight. Because now, rather than addressing any of the other dozen reconstructions – or any of the many other proofs of climate change’s inexorable march – they can fondle the hockey stick and use it to flagelate anyone who dares suggest that climate change is, in fact, an undeniable reality.

Undeniable, at least, by anyone who would abide by my mother’s dictum to strive for a factual constancy that is consistent with truthfulness.

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