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Old 04-14-2016, 05:33 PM
wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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There are tons of examples in the ever-popular and lucrative field of climate change denial, literally far too many to list. But one of the more notorious ones was the physicist Frederick Seitz, who was among other things the recipient of the National Medal of Science and was the president of Rockefeller University and, incredibly, was for a time president of the National Academy of Sciences. He was also pathologically dishonest and had all the integrity of a sewer rat, first contracting with R.J. Reynolds to lend his credentials to undermining the science about the dangers of tobacco, then launching an all-out attack on climate science.

Seitz was one of the key principals behind the disreputable Oregon Petition in which a large number of scientists allegedly questioned the reality of climate change, wherein it turned out many of the names were completely fabricated and the rest either worked in completely unrelated fields or else had their views misrepresented. The Oregon Petition was accompanied by a 12-page article questioning climate change that looked exactly like a paper from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which turned out to be a forgery created by Seitz and which precipitated an extraordinary public reprimand from the NAS.

There are also a very small number of real scientists working in the field of climate science who knowingly publish garbage. Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas are two names often found together in this context. Roy Spencer is another, a name almost invariably found on the Internet as "Roy Spencer, Ph.D." to make it clear what you're dealing with when you deal with Roy. Spencer is simply a far-right political ideologue misappropriating and distorting science for political objectives. Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick are another dynamic duo particularly noteworthy for their incessant attacks on the distinguished climate scientist Michael Mann. McKitrick is actually a mining engineer but McIntyre is an academic mathematician, and the duo published a paper making some minor but ultimately irrelevant criticisms of some of Mann's statistical methods. McIntyre has been beating that same dead horse on his Internet blog ever since, and complaining that no one wants to publish his brilliant observations any more.

Another interesting one is Richard Lindzen, among the more prestigious of the quacks because he was actually a reputable atmospheric physicist at MIT until his retirement a few years ago. His modus operandi was simple, and was basically modeled on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the scientific domain he would publish (usually) reputable research, but his public persona was that of a staunch denialist. He would say things in public speeches and op-eds in papers like the Wall Street Journal that were scientifically laughable, but because he had a long string of legitimate publications and was a well-known academic -- at MIT, no less -- his words were perceived by many to carry a credibility that had absolutely no justification.

Freeman Dyson is in a different category entirely. He was a brilliant physicist who is now extremely elderly and, apparently, rather senile, and has somehow persuaded himself that climate models are inherently flawed and that, by extension, everything we think we know about the future of climate is wrong. There are actually a number of these individuals suffering some form of dementia peddling similar nonsense, but Dyson is perhaps among the most storied.

It seems to me that the Seitz and the Lindzen types, actual scientists who cynically and dishonestly abused their reputations to promote falsehoods, are the most dangerous of the quacks because they not only mislead the public but put science itself into disrepute.