John Tierney (journalist)
John Marion Tierney (born March 25, 1953) is an American journalist and author who has worked for the New York Times since 1990. A self-described contrarian, Tierney is a critic of aspects of environmentalism, the "science establishment", big government, and calls for limiting emissions of carbon dioxide.
Early and personal life
Tierney was born in 1953 outside Chicago, and grew up in "the Midwest, South America and Pittsburgh." He graduated from Yale University in 1976. As of 1998[update], he was married to Dana Tierney, with whom he had one child, Luke.
After graduating from college, Tierney was a newspaper reporter for four years, first at the Bergen Record in New Jersey and then at the Washington Star. Starting in 1980, he spent ten years in magazine journalism writing for such magazines as Atlantic Monthly, Discover, Esquire, Health, National Geographic Traveler, New York, Newsweek, Outside, Rolling Stone. Tierney began working at The New York Times in 1990 as a "general assignment" reporter in the Metro section. Tierney writes a science column, "Findings", for the Times. He previously wrote the TierneyLab blog for the Times. In 2005 Tierney began to write for the Times Op-Ed page and as of 2015 his writings appeared in both the Times Op-Ed and "Findings" science column. He also writes for the conservative City Journal.
In 2009 Tierney wrote about mathematics popularizer Martin Gardner and in that same year started featuring recreational mathematics problems, often curated by Pradeep Mutalik in his New York Times TierneyLab blog. In 2010, Tierney retired from writing the blog, and Mutalik continued it under a new name (NumberPlay). In time, Gary Antonick took that over until he retired it in Oct 2016.
Tierney described his TierneyLab as "guided by two founding principles":
- Just because an idea appeals to a lot of people doesn't mean it's wrong.
- But that's a good working theory.
His column about New York, "The Big City", ran in the New York Times Magazine and the Metro section from 1994 to 2002. His criticism of rent stabilization, the war on drugs, Amtrak and compulsory recycling, have been described as questioning "some of the complacent shibboleths of urban liberalism". His 1996 article "Recycling Is Garbage" broke the New York Times Magazine's hate mail record and was praised by libertarians for bringing "libertarian ideas to America's big-government bible". Critics complained that in the article he quoted "not a single representative of the recycling industry", but did cite the head of "an environmental consulting business for hire to solid waste companies". In a 2001 column, Tierney cited a study suggesting that global warming would boost the U.S. economy.
Tierney identifies himself as a libertarian and has become increasingly identified with libertarianism.
Joseph J. Romm has written that Tierney is one of the "influential but misinformed" skeptics who have helped prevent the U.S. from taking action on climate change. In his 2007 book, Hell and High Water, Romm cites, and claims to refute, what he calls Tierney's "misinformation". Columbia Journalism Review complains Tierney "has a tendency to support his point of view using sources with a clear ideological or special interest agenda, without properly identifying them."
In 2007 Tierney wrote a column claiming that Silent Spring — Rachel Carson's 1962 book on the detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment — is a "hodgepodge of science and junk science" whose rhetoric still "drowns out real science," such as the work of agricultural bacteriologist Ira Baldwin. Among those who have criticized the column for alleged errors of fact and misrepresentation are Erik M. Conway, Naomi Oreskes, and Merrill Goozner.
In 2016 Tierney criticized President Barack Obama for "politicized science to advance his agenda" and appointees in the Obama administration for "junk science—or no science—to justify misbegotten crusades against dietary salt, trans fats, and electronic cigarettes. According to Tierney, they cited phony statistics to spread myths about a gender pay gap and a rape crisis on college campuses."
- 1998–99, New York News Publishers Association: Distinguished Column Writing Award.
- 1988, American Association for the Advancement of Science/Westinghouse Science Journalism Award, for a cover story in Newsweek, "The Search for Adam and Eve."
- 1983, American Institute of Physics–United States Steel Foundation Science Writing Award.
- God Is My Broker, A comic novel written in parody of financial and spiritual self-help book was written in collaboration with novelist Christopher Buckley.
- Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. Co-wrote in 2011, along with Florida State University psychologist Roy F. Baumeister. They state that self-control and willpower function analogously to muscles. Thus, they write that willpower can be exhausted from overuse but generally speaking is strengthened through exercise (exercise that modern people tend to disregard). Publishers Weekly praised the book as "a very fine work" that is "clear and succinct" as well as "based on solid research".
- The Best-Case Scenario Handbook: A Parody Sep 16, 2002. a parody of the popular Worst-Case Scenario Handbook series.
- Tierney, John (November 14, 2016). "Trump and Science". City Journal. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
- Tierney, John (16 January 2012). "Climate Proposal Puts Practicality Ahead of Sacrifice". New York Times. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
- "National New York Region. Columnist Biography: John Tierney". New York Times. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
- TierneyLab: Posts published by Pradeep Mutalik The New York Times, April 19, 2010
- "John Tierney always wanted to be a scientist but went into journalism because its peer-review process was a great deal easier to sneak through."
- "John Tierney Recent and archived work by John Tierney for The New York Times". New York Times. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
- For Decades, Puzzling People With Mathematics by John Tierney New York Times, October 19, 2009
- Roth, Zachary (1 December 2004). "The Problem with John Tierney". CJR. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
- Fifth Columnist| Reason |Julian Sanchez | September 14, 2005 |accessed 15-11-2016
- Joseph Romm. Hell and High Water: The Global Warming Solution. Harper Perennial, 2007, p. 103-104.
- Erik M. Conway, Naomi Oreskes Merchants of Doubt, 2010, p. 223.
- Carson Bashing and the Ill-Informed DDT Campaign. June 5, 2007. Merrill Goozner
- Tierney's biography at New York Times
- The Best-Case Scenario Handbook: A Parody. Amazon. ISBN 978-0761128618.