I'm sure you've heard by now that Michael Crichton passed away this past week. Obviously it's sad whenever anyone dies, but in Crichton's case, I just can't seem to muster any sympathy for the guy. I was a pretty big fan of his work, that was fine, it was his "other" passions that drove me nuts. If you look at his advocacy history it's pretty clear that Crichton had a serious problem with letting his imagination run wild when he was away from the keyboard. All too often, Crichton would build false equivalences between fervent belief in certain scientific principles and theism, believing one to be no better than the other, but never delving deep enough to justify his statements. It's easy to dismiss either of these things based on fervent belief alone while refusing to acknowledge that there is a difference between fervent belief in a theory's potential, and fervent belief in untested (and untestable) assumptions as fact. As a result, Crichton has dismissed global warming and environmentalism in general as being akin to religious faith, never stopping to consider the exceptions where sometimes such fervent attitudes are wholly justified by the immediacy and scope of a given issue.
I'm not the kind of person who would say -- typically a conservative would say this -- that Crichton should have kept his "crazy ideas" in his books, the man is/was entitled to express his views publicly as much the rest of us are, but I still do feel a bit of sorrow not at his loss, but at the damage a person of his celebrity probably did to a lot of impressionable minds.
Seriously, second-hand smoke? Can't we all agree that breathing in smoke is bad no matter what? Do we really need to know in precisely how many degrees of "bad" it is to suck in smoke of any kind before we start taking common sense precautions, so that people who would rather not wait for the jury to chime while sucking in other people's toxic smoke for 10 years can air on the safe side?
A lot of what Crichton has said over the years is as fictional as what he wrote in his best-selling novels, and that's a real shame. It reminds me of Orson Scott Card (Enders Game) who along with being a much loved novelist, also happens to be a homophobe.
In his 2006 novel Next (released November 28 of that year), Crichton introduced a character named "Mick Crowley" who is a Yale graduate and a Washington D.C.-based political columnist. "Crowley" was portrayed by Crichton as a child molester with a small penis. The character is a minor one who does not appear elsewhere in the book.
A real person named Michael Crowley is also a Yale graduate, and a senior editor of The New Republic, a left-leaning Washington D.C.-based political magazine. In March 2006, the real Crowley had written an article strongly critical of Crichton for his stance on global warming in State of Fear.
Speaking only for myself, I can say honestly that I don't think the world at large will miss people like that.
I'm sorry for his family's loss and I hope that people will remember the good parts of his life for as long as they live themselves, but I will definitely not miss the ignorance or hatred of either of these men.