The Myth of Expert Infallibility

Recently Fox News reporter Maxim Lott compiled a list of some mistaken predictions by climate experts who, at least in terms of their predictive abilities, have a lot to be modest about. Here are summaries of a few of the more notable quotes. You can find the full list at

In 2000, a senior research scientist at the University of East Anglia predicted U.K. kids would soon forget what snow was because it would be all but extinct there. Of course, Dec. 2009 was the date of London's heaviest snowfall seen in 20 years. Snowstorms there in January of this year closed Heathrow airport.

In 1990, a Princeton professor of geosciences and former chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund predicted food riots by 1995 in North America, Europe, and Asia, caused by the greenhouse effect. By 1996, he foresaw a new Dustbowl Era sweeping the U.S. In actuality, data from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center shows a slight increase in precipitation since 1990.

In 1970, a professor of ecology and environmental studies at the University of California, Davis predicted the world would be 11° colder by 2000, a temperature drop that would be enough to plunge the world into a new ice age. Data from NASA shows that in reality, temperatures have risen about 0.7°.

In 1971, Stanford University Biologist Paul Ehrlich foresaw the U.K. circa 2000 as a “small group of impoverished islands inhabited by some 70 million hungry people.” Not quite. A headline about a 2006 British Medical Journal article reads, “Obesity Could Bankrupt UK Health System.”

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