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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Frauds and False Consensus

One of the tricks used by the Global Warming crowd (and, indeed, by all politically motivated junk scientists) is to claim an absolute consensus on the issue; they do this to stifle debate by claiming the matter has been settled (Sigmund Freud and proponents of Darwinism developed this tactic in the 19th and early 20th Centuries) and that anyone who still wishes to debate is an anti-intellectual bigot and flat-earther. The GW people-the Green Beings-have made this claim repeatedly, and consistently dismiss the long list of knowledgeable scientists who dispute the doomsday findings of their greener colleagues. Recently, I had a rather lengthy debate with valiantly anonymous interlocutor who demanded proof that there was NOT a scientific consensus, then tried to claim that the many petitions and lists I offered were bogus (the Oregon Petition has 20,000 signers-how can you dispute THAT?) Among my references was the Statement by Atmospheric Scientists On Greenhouse Warming from 1992, and I received an e-mail allegedly from one of the signators defending Al Gore and denying any involvement with the petition:

Dear Timothy Birdnow:

I am writing about your use of a Statement by Atmospheric Scientists on Greenhouse Warming, of which I am allegedly a signatory. I am offended by your use of this supposed document in dispute of the indisputably high-quality, solidly scientifically based message that Former Vice President Al Gore has committed himself to communicating to everyone in the world who has the intelligence to listen.

The document is out-of-date, irrelevant, and at least a few of the presumed signatories are no longer alive and not able to provide current considered opinions in view of the recent, sound scientific evidence. The use of out-of-context quotes of some of the most thoughtful and respected scientists, from 30 YEARS AGO, is fallacious and offensive to scientific integrity.

I recall asking what solid scientific evidence there was in support of the (then) theory of global warming, 30 years ago. However, asking that question is in NO WAY a contradiction or dispute of the theory; but an invitation for more thorough research to substantiate it (or not). In the time since then, the research has been done and the results are conclusive. Al Gore has drawn from the work of dedicated scientists (to whom he gives the credits). He has committed himself to getting the message out to all people of our planet who have the sense to listen and the intelligence to understand that Earth is in jeopardy from our exploitation of its resources and toxic effluents.

I ask that you take that document off your web-site and recommend that you replace it with up-to-date information focused on revising our collective priorities to preserve our fragile home planet for future generations.

Very sincerely,
H. Jean Thiebaux

My antennae went up on this; why would an atmospheric physicist trouble to e-mail a guy who wrote something in an argument on the comments section of a rather low-rated blog? Why would he keep stressing this happened 30 years ago when the petition was signed 14 years ago, and that 30 years would mean he was disgussing the issue in 1976? Anyway, here was my response:

Dear Dr. Thiebaux,

The referencing you mention was in an argument in the comments section on a post about Al Gore`s possible Presidential bid; it is clear you have not read what it is you are responding to. I also mentioned the Oregon Petition, etc. to illustrate to my anonymous commenter that there are, indeed, scientists who disagree with the conventional wisdom of the day. Your name was on the petition, and has been on the SEPP website for over a decade, so I had no reason to doubt the veracity of the names listed.

I did what you should have done if you believe your name is incorrectly listed; I contacted Dr. Singer to verify the information. He said that, as far as he has ever been aware, you had signed the petition (it had to be submitted) and that you have never complained about your name being included. You have, of course, the right to change your mind, but you should admit that if indeed it is the case, or you should take the necessary actions to disassociate yourself from a fraud. I will happily post your letter on my blog, along with whatever doubts may be in my mind. If you are seriously upset with your inclusion on the ``Statement by Atmospheric Scientists`` I would suggest you contact Dr. Singer at SEPP.

I find your timeframe incredulous; 30 years ago would mean you were discussing the matter in 1976. At that time there were very few people talking about Global Warming-rather, everyone was claiming we were entering a new ice age. The Global Warming fad got going in the `80`s, although the theory had been around for a number of years. Also, I would like to point out that the ``Statement of Atmospheric Scientists`` was from 1992, not 1976.

The fact that some of the scientists who signed the document are deceased means they cannot defend themselves against YOU as well; there is no reason to believe that they did not mean what they said at that time. Your accusation is fallacious, and offensive to scientific integrity.

You state;

``Al Gore has drawn from the work of dedicated scientists (to whom he gives the credits). He has committed himself to getting the message out to all people of our planet who have the sense to listen and the intelligence to understand that Earth is in jeopardy from our exploitation of its resources and toxic effluents.``

Appealing to the intellectual authority of Al Gore is likewise an affront to the integrity of science. That last bit about the dire straits the Earth is in from our greedy exploitation of resources and toxic effluents suggests, sir, that you are more devoted to a political theory than to the pursuit of science-your bias is showing.

There is considerable evidence for the mild warming we have seen in the 20th Century resulting from entirely natural causes-particularly a warmer sun and increased atmospheric albedo. If you are who you claim to be, you should be well aware of this. There is, of course, a debate on the matter, and that is right and proper. But to claim that this matter is settled, and that Al Gore`s doomsday scenario is anything but the environmentalisequivalentnt of a hell-fire and brimstone tent revival is dishonest and performs a great disservice to science.


Timothy Birdnow

I have not received a response to my e-mail to Dr. Thiebaux, and I half suspect someone was trying to hoodwink me. Dr. Singer graciously responded to me personally (he strikes me as great guy), and he said he had no doubt that Thiebaux had signed the petition. (Dr. Singer was the one who pointed out to me that Dr. Thiebaux`s claim that many of the original signers of the petition were dead works more against his case than for it.) Were my name used fraudulently, I would most certainly demand a retraction from the source; I wouldn`t complain to a conservative blogger who was merely reprinting a signed petition. There is a bad smell to this.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

the Oregon Petition has 20,000 signers-how can you dispute THAT?

Well simple, you point out its dubious origin.

1:36 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thiebaux said, I ask that you take that document off your web-site...

Good grief! Does that sound like something a scientist would write?

3:16 AM  
Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

Anonymous, if you are going to use hit pieces from radical environmentalist propaganda sites to discredit those who disagree with you, I`ll return the favor.

The upshot of this scathing critique is that OISM 1.sent the petition around to a lot of people (gasp!) 2.Included a paper which was not officially from the National Academy of Science(oh the Humanity!) 3.Had an unpeer-reviewed cover letter from Frederick Seitz (who is not named Singer, by the way) former President of the National Academy of Science (I guess Dr. Seitz should submit his ``good mornings`` for review to see if they can be falsified)4.and was signed by a number of physicists (egad!)

Clearly PHD holding individuals lack adequate intellectual capacity to understand what it is they are signing, and are incapable of acting independently, and simply do whatever someone from the National Academy of Science says, if they receive a fax. It`s disgraceful how these easily mislead individuals have been shamefully taken advantage of by Exxon-Mobile and Dick Chaney of Halliburton.

I repeat myself; even if you disqualify 9 out of 10, you still end up with 2000 valid signiatures-a respectable number. Of course, far more of those signiatures are valid then 10%, but you HAVE to discredit these petitions, because you are trying to stifle debate on the issue, and you know there are plenty of people who do NOT agree that there is Anthropogenic Global Warming.

Nice try. Oh, by the way, that H. Jean Thiebaux business was a neat trick!

3:44 PM  

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