Unlike the previous speech that I railed about a couple of weeks ago, Crichton does give some interesting facts on science and public policy, particularly concerning second-hand smoke.
However in other ways, it is as dishonest as that first speech. The worst statement was this one:
"There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period."
To put it simply, he is on, if not over, the ragged edge of lying. But he is very subtle at it. He's doing it this way: he's conflating the idea"a consensus of scientists in a field indicates that the best science concludes that a=b" with the idea"a consensus of scientists proves that a=b."
The latter is indeed false; the former is not. A consensus generally does indicate the best science. But he wants the reader or listener to confuse the second statement with the first and then agree with him that citing a consensus indicates a weakness in an argument.
Why? Apparently because he wants to discredit the use of current environmental science in public policy. He creates a situation in which anyone who cites a scientific consensus as evidence in support of an environmental policy is discredited while anyone who cites a lone figure in opposition to the same policy is treated with respect.
The really sad thing is that at the end of this speech he makes an interesting suggestion about how to do better science on public policy issues. It is one worth considering.
But given the context it is hard not to wonder if this is another slight-of-hand like the one I dissected above.