John Tierney (journalist)
Career and background
The Lab's work is guided by two founding principles:
- 1. Just because an idea appeals to a lot of people doesn't mean it's wrong.
- 2. But that's a good working theory.
In 2005 and 2006, he was a columnist on the Times Op-Ed page, before which he wrote a column about New York, "The Big City", that ran in the New York Times Magazine and the Metro section from 1994 to 2002.
Tierney identifies himself as a libertarian and has become increasingly identified with libertarianism. His columns have been critical of rent stabilization, the war on drugs, Amtrak and compulsory recycling. His 1996 article "Recycling Is Garbage" broke the New York Times Magazine's hate mail record.
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".
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 Tim Lambert, Erik M. Conway, Naomi Oreskes, and Merrill Goozner.
Tierney started his journalism career as an undergraduate at Yale University, where he was co-editor of the Yale Daily News Magazine. He went on to work for the Bergen Record and the Washington Star, and has written for magazines such as Science 86, Health and Discover.
In collaboration with novelist Christopher Buckley, Tierney co-wrote the comic novel God Is My Broker, in parody of financial and spiritual self-help books. He also wrote The Best-Case Scenario Handbook, a parody of the popular Worst-Case Scenario Handbook series.
In 2011, he co-wrote along with Florida State University psychologist Roy F. Baumeister the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. 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".
In a September 8 interview, he half-jokingly stated that while writing, he was motivated to lose a full ten pounds.
- 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.
- Joseph Romm. Hell and High Water: The Global Warming Solution. Harper Perrenial, 2007. p103-104
- John Tierney's Bad Science. June 6, 2007. Tim Lambert
- 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