My skepticism about the signal-to-noise ratio of Atlantic bloggers has a big asterisk next to it pointing to James Fallows. I like Fallows not least because of his tone — he prefers chiming the triangle to banging the gong, although he can blow the horn when he wants to.
His coverage of the Eric Shinseki and Steven Chu cabinet picks show off Fallows at his blogly best. And today he has a follow-up about the Chu pick, with feedback from a writer (Steve Corneliussen) with contacts in the physics community. (Where else in journalism besides a blog can you cut-and-paste an email without chopping it up, paraphrasing it, or otherwise interjecting yourself all over perfectly well-reported and well-written analysis?)
I’m also impressed by the content, which in two places argues that physicists’ professional self-interest actually makes them more likely to produce good science (because it trumps politics):
I suspect many physicists would pronounce Vice President Gore wrong to confine the energy challenge inside a mere ten-year limit with the longer-term research dimension omitted. Physicists like big-picture arithmetic and they like research. Many believe that the arithmetic shows that in the long run we can’t meet the energy challenge without new fundamental knowledge — no matter how innovatively we re-engineer what we already know, and no matter how well we conserve.
I’ll bet [Chu] could illuminate [to global warming skeptics] scientists’ self-interested desire to promote themselves by genuinely, in fact ruthlessly, seeking truths about nature, with a consequent disinterestedness that has nothing to do with their political views because it has everything to do with their professional aspirations.
“Dude, we don’t care about the back and forth — we just want to know stuff and get tenure. We got this.”