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Speeches by Michael Crichton

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Michael Crichton, although primarily known as a novelist, was also a popular public speaker. Michael Crichton delivered a number of notable speeches in his lifetime, particularly on the topic of Global Warming.

Intelligence Squared "Global Warming Is Not a Crisis" debate[edit]

On March 14, 2007, Intelligence Squared, which has received funding from the oil and gas company Shell[1], held a debate in New York City titled Global Warming Is Not a Crisis, moderated by Brian Lehrer. Crichton was on the for the motion side with Richard Lindzen and Philip Stott against Gavin Schmidt, Richard Somerville, and Brenda Ekwurzel. Before the debate, the audience was largely on the 'against the motion' side (57% vs. 30%, with 13% undecided).[2] At the end of the debate, there was a notable shift in the audience vote to prefer 'for the motion' side (46% vs. 42%, with 12% undecided), leaving the debate with the conclusion that Crichton's group won.[2] Schmidt later described the debate in a RealClimate blog posting, "Crichton went with the crowd-pleasing condemnation of private jet-flying liberals (very popular, even among the private jet-flying Eastsiders present) and the apparent hypocrisy of people who think that global warming is a problem using any energy at all." While those against the motion had presented the agreed scientific consensus of IPCC reports, the audience was "apparently more convinced by the entertaining narratives from Crichton and Stott (not so sure about Lindzen) than they were by our drier fare. Entertainment-wise it's hard to blame them. Crichton is extremely polished and Stott has a touch of the revivalist preacher about him. Comparatively, we were pretty dull." Even though Crichton inspired a lot of blog responses and it was considered one of his best rhetorical performances, reception to his message was mixed.[2][3]

In the debate, although he admitted that man must have at some point contributed to global warming but not necessarily caused it, Crichton argued that most of the media and attention of the general public are being dedicated to the uncertain anthropogenic global warming scares instead of the more urgent issues like poverty. He also suggested that private jets be banned as they add more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for the benefit of the few who could afford them.[original research?]

Other speeches[edit]

The Decline of Conventional Media

In a speech delivered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on April 7, 1993, Crichton predicted the decline of mainstream media.[4]

Ritual Abuse, Hot Air, and Missed Opportunities
Science Views Media

The AAAS invited Crichton to address scientists' concerns about how they are portrayed in the media, delivered to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Anaheim, California on January 25, 1999.[5]

Environmentalism as Religion

This was not the first discussion of environmentalism as a religion, but it caught on and was widely quoted. Crichton explains his view that religious approaches to the environment are inappropriate and cause damage to the natural world they intend to protect.[6][7] The speech was delivered to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, California on September 15, 2003.

Science Policy in the 21st century

Crichton outlined several issues before a joint meeting of liberal and conservative think tanks. The speech was delivered at AEIBrookings Institution in Washington, D.C. on January 25, 2005.[8]

The Case for Skepticism on Global Warming

On January 25, 2005 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Crichton delivered a detailed explanation of why he criticized the consensus view on global warming. Using published UN data, he argued that claims for catastrophic warming arouse doubt; that reducing CO2 is vastly more difficult than is commonly presumed; and why societies are morally unjustified in spending vast sums on a speculative issue when people around the world are dying of starvation and disease.[7]

Caltech Michelin Lecture

"Aliens Cause Global Warming" January 17, 2003. In the spirit of his science fiction writing Crichton details research on nuclear winter and SETI Drake equations relative to global warming science.[9]

Testimony before the United States Senate

Together with climate scientists, Crichton was invited to testify before the Senate in September 2005, as an expert witness on global warming.[10] The speech was delivered to the Committee on Environment and Public Works in Washington, D.C.

Complexity Theory and Environmental Management

In previous speeches, Crichton criticized environmental groups for failing to incorporate complexity theory. Here he explains in detail why complexity theory is essential to environmental management, using the history of Yellowstone Park as an example of what not to do. The speech was delivered to the Washington Center for Complexity and Public Policy in Washington, D.C. on November 6, 2005.[11][12]

Genetic Research and Legislative Needs

While writing Next, Crichton concluded that laws covering genetic research desperately needed to be revised, and spoke to congressional staff members about problems ahead. The speech was delivered to a group of legislative staffers in Washington, D.C. on September 14, 2006.[13]

Why Speculate?

In a speech in 2002, Crichton coined the term Gell-Mann amnesia effect. He used this term to describe the phenomenon of experts believing news articles on topics outside of their fields of expertise, even after acknowledging that articles written in the same publication that are within the experts' fields of expertise are error-ridden and full of misunderstanding. He explains the irony of the term, saying it came about "because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have".[14]


  1. "Intelligence2 Bespoke Debates". Intelligence2.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Global Warming Is Not a Crisis". Intelligence Squared. March 14, 2007. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  3. Gavin Schmidt (March 15, 2007). "RealClimate: Adventures on the East Side". RealClimate. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  4. Michael Crichton (April 1993). "Mediasaurus". Wired.
  5. Crichton, M. (1999). "Ritual Abuse, Hot Air, and Missed Opportunities". Science. 283 (5407): 1461–1463. Bibcode:1999Sci...283.1461C. doi:10.1126/science.283.5407.1461.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Crichton, Michael (December 2009). "Three Speeches by Michael Crichton" (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Science & Public Policy Institute.
  8. Chehoski, Robert (2005). "Introduction". Critical Perspectives on Climate Disruption. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-4042-0539-0. Retrieved 5 April 2017. Search this book on
  9. Hatfield, Michael (2012). "Deconstructing Risk Management". Game Theory in Management: Modelling Business Decisions and their Consequences. Gower Publishing, Ltd. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-4094-5940-8. Search this book on
  10. p.8 Johansen, Bruce Elliott Silenced!: Academic Freedom, Scientific Inquiry, and the First Amendment Under Siege in America Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007
  11. "An Afternoon with Michael Crichton: In collaboration with The Smithsonian Associates", Washington Center for Complexity and Public Policy, Washington, D.C., November 6, 2005
  12. "Michael Crichton – Fear and Complexity and Environmental Management in the 21st Century" Archived May 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, video from talk, The Smithsonian Associates and the Washington Center for Complexity and Public Policy, Washington, D.C., November 6, 2005
  13. A Talk to Legislative Staffers
  14. Michael Crichton (2002-04-26). "Why Speculate (talk)". Retrieved 2018-09-21.

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