This past weekend, a celebrity biologist, known for his spectacularly apocalyptic — and wrong – environmental predictions of death, destruction and cannibalism, got a favorable interview on “60 Minutes.” This resulted in mockery and outrage on Twitter, prompting the biologist in question, Paul Ehrlich, to lash out, tweeting, “I’ve gotten virtually every scientific honor.” He also asserted “no basic” errors.
On Sunday, Ehrlich told “60 Minutes” that “the rate of extinction is extraordinarily high now and getting higher all the time.” He added that “humanity is not sustainable.”
After the show aired ,Ehrlich complained about the “right-wing” response, demanding, “If I’m always wrong so is science, since my work is always peer-reviewed, including the POPULATION BOMB and I’ve gotten virtually every scientific honor. Sure I’ve made some mistakes, but no basic ones.”
Ehrlich is the same scientist that made environmental predictions in 1970 about 1980: “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make…. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
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He also insisted that between 1980 and 1989 four billion would die (including 65 million Americans) in the “great die off.” None of that happened.
The blowback came from the left and the right. Nate Silver, formally of the New York Times and founder of ABC News’ FiveThirtyEight, marveled, “Predicting that civilization would end by 1985 counts as a pretty basic error, I’d think. To the extent he’s received scientific accolades, it shows how unseriously the scientific community takes prediction.”
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.”@60Minutes and @CBSNews should be embarrassed by their highlighting of doom-monger Paul Ehrlich’s apocalyptic views in an interview on Sunday night,” tweeted Lawrence Summers, former Treasury Secretary for Presisident Clinton. “Ehrlich is as far from reputable scientific predictions as climate change denial scientists.”
Summers went on to call Ehrlich a “dangerous extremist” who would “crowd out reasonable and thoughtful voices.”
“Paul Ehrlich has been famously wrong about everything he has predicted for six decades,” tweeted psychologist Jordan Peterson.
National Review and Federalist editor David Harsanyi chided, “Your entire career of malthusian scaremongering has been a giant mistake.”
Journalist Jim Treacher joked, “I’m not wrong because people always tell me how great I am.” Daily Caller managing editor Mike Bastasch echoed this joke, commenting on Ehrlich’s self-praise for his “scientific honors” as “going full Fauci on his critics: ‘I am the science!’”
On Sunday, “60 Minutes” host Scott Pelley conceded that Ehrlich has gotten some things wrong: “The alarm Ehrlich sounded in ’68 warned that overpopulation would trigger widespread famine. He was wrong about that.”
But despite Ehrlich previously suggesting the coming end of humanity, the program touted his new environmental predictions of apocalypse: “The next few decades will be the end of the kind of civilization we’re used to.”
In 2014, Ehrlich suggested that the pressing issue for humanity would be “is it perfectly okay to eat the bodies of your dead.”
Andrew Follett, a senior analyst at the Club for Growth, summarized the online criticism against Ehrlich and those in the media who promote him: “I can’t think of anyone else in history who is so clearly wrong about everything…while so clearly in denial of the most basic facts.”
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