Every once in awhile Joel Achenbach's name crosses my viewfinder. We were both undergraduates at the same time at Princeton, although our paths never really crossed socially. The first time he really caught my attention, actually, was a few years after we graduated, when the Princeton Alumni Weekly reprinted a hilarious column he wrote for the Miami Herald, satirizing the way television dumbs people down. It was full of witty observations about the way TV trains people to accept implausible things such as the fact that Barney Rubble has no neck or that Gilligan's Island can alternate between being a volcanic atoll and a coral reef. My favorite line was his prediction that "in the future, all writers will be good-looking."
I'm paraphrasing, so I'm probably not capturing the humor well, but trust me, it was clever.
Anyway, my most recent Achenbach sighting came this week when my mother called and said I should read an article that was just published in the Washington Post about global warming skeptics. Achenbach turned out to be the author, and it was another gem, with his usual deft eye for detail and some great interviews. I think he treats the skeptics with less skepticism than I would. (John and I hit them pretty hard in our 2001 book, Trust Us, We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles With Your Future.) Still, it's a great piece and well worth reading.