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Michael Crichton, M.D. (1942-2008) was a doctor, author, screenwriter, director, producer, and, when doing things unrelated to his expertise, anti-science propagator. He first came to public attention when his early novel The Andromeda Strain (Crichton had published a number of previous novels under pseudonyms) became a best-seller when first published in 1969, and was made into a successful feature film in 1971. He wrote the novel while in medical school and never practiced medicine. He also attended a spoon bending party in the 1980s and believed he bent spoons with his mind.
Writing, television, and movies
Crichton's writings consisted mainly of novels of the science fiction, thriller/suspense, and medical fiction genres as well as a few non-fiction works, including a travelogue and a computer programming text. If you've been living under a rock for the last two decades, Crichton's most popular work is still Jurassic Park and its movie adaptation. He also produced the long-running medical drama ER.
A Case of Need
Before Andromeda Strain was published under his real name, Crichton wrote A Case of Need under the name Jeffery Hudson. The main subject of the novel is abortion, and it was published five years before the US Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in Roe v. Wade. Crichton said of the times: "There were abortionists in every city, back-room mills, and whispered addresses passed to frightened women in need of the tawdry, dangerous industry which the medical profession pretended did not exist."
State of Fear
Crichton became a darling of the anti-environmental movement with the publication of his 2004 State of Fear, which weaves together a variety of global warming conspiracy theories. An environmentalist group plots to manufacture a global warming "crisis" through acts of ecoterrorism, one of which, is, nonsensically, inducing a tsunami (no, they're not caused by global warming). The book also contains what is allegedly factual information on global warming, but really amounts to many of the old denialist chestnuts. These include the so-called "urban heat island effect," the myth of a "global cooling" consensus, cherry-picking weather stations, and claims that James Hansen's predictions were wrong by a margin of over 300%. Crichton also mines some denialist literature on older topics as well, parroting the DDT ban canard.
Global warming denial and policy
Many deniers mistook State of Fear for a work of non-fiction ("But look, it's got footnotes, and he's a doctor!") and Crichton was soon touted as an "expert" in denialist circles. James Inhofe invited Crichton as an adviser to the Environment and Public Works Senatorial Committee on one occasion. George Bush met with him and apparently found him to be a valuable source of information. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists gave him their 2006 Journalism Award (the year before they recanted their denialist position).
- His website
- Obituary in the New York Times
- The Rich, Mixed Legacy of Michael Crichton, Wired
- Science and Pseudoscience, Crooked Timber
- Global Warming is "Not a Crisis", Intelligence Squared Debates (Crichton, Lindzen, Stott vs. Ekwurzel, Schmidt, Somerville and the reality-based community)
Commentary on State of Fear
- Review by the Brookings Institution
- Review by Chris Mooney
- Review by Real Climate Part I, Part II
- Review by Michael B. McElroy and Daniel P. Schrag
- Review by Union of Concerned Scientists
- Review by Weather Underground
- Cold, Hard Facts by Peter Doran
- Michael Crichton's "Scientific Method" by James Hansen
- Prince asks scientists to look into grey goo, The Telegraph
- Don't read Crichton's Prey for the science -- or the story, Nanotechnology Now
- See the pages on Anthony Watts and Patrick Michaels for more on that.
- Inhofe and Crichton: Together at Last!, Real Climate
- Bush's Chat with Novelist Alarms Environmentalists, New York Times
- Forum - On Award to Crichton, Eos, Vol. 87, No. 36, 5 September 2006 (Links to abstract)