Friday, May 14, 2010

Rebuttal to "Crock of the Week - 32000 Scientists"


Peter Sinclair AKA "Greenman" a cartoonist and Al Gore disciple has been hard at work creating YouTube videos that smear skeptics and their arguments. The following is a complete rebuttal to his "Crock of the Week - 32000 Scientists" video challenging the petition of 31,486 scientists who reject global warming alarm.


1. Sinclair claims the late Dr. Frederick Seitz was a distinguished scientist who somehow lost all credibility when his work involved the private sector. As if working with the private sector automatically discredits you on any issue. The truth is Dr. Seitz was always a reputable scientist. His credentials are impeccable,

Frederick Seitz, A.B. Mathematics, Stanford University (1932), Ph.D. Physics, Princeton University (1934), Proctor Fellow, Princeton University (1934–1935), Instructor in Physics, University of Rochester (1935–1936), Assistant Professor of Physics, University of Rochester (1936–1937), Research Physicist, General Electric Company (1937–1939), Assistant Professor of Physics, University of Pennsylvania (1939–1941), Associate Professor of Physics, University of Pennsylvania (1941-1942), Professor of Physics, Carnegie Institute of Technology (1942-1949), Research Professor of Physics, University of Illinois (1949-1965), Chairman, American Institute of Physics (1954-1960), President Emeritus, American Physical Society (1961), President Emeritus, National Academy of Sciences (1962-1969), Graduate College Dean, University of Illinois (1964-1965), President Emeritus, Rockefeller University (1968-1978), Franklin Medal (1965), American Institute of Physics Compton Medal (1970), National Medal of Science (1973), (Died: March 2, 2008)

His obvious credibility is likely why alarmists feel the need to desperately try and smear him. It is clear they cannot have someone with Dr. Seitz's impeccable credentials doubting their call for global warming alarm.


2. Sinclair attempts to smear Dr. Seitz about his involvement with the tobacco industry. The truth is much different,

"To find out if the startling claim was true -- that Seitz "directed a 45M tobacco industry effort to hide health impacts of smoking" -- I called him at his apartment in Manhattan. Unless there is more to the story, the accusation appears to be a willful distortion, if not an outright lie.

"That's ridiculous, completely wrong," Seitz told me. "The money was all spent on basic science, medical science," he said.

According to Seitz, the CEO of RJ Reynolds -- the tobacco company -- was on the board of Rockefeller University while Seitz was a full-time employee there. "He was not a scientist," Seitz said of the executive, but he believed in supporting the University's dedication to basic research -- in a little over a century, Rockefeller University has had 23 Nobel Prize winners affiliated with it, in fields of medicine and chemistry. RJ Reynolds allocated $5 million a year to Seitz to direct basic research.

To figure out how to distribute the money, Seitz says he assembled some top folks in different fields of scientific research -- such as James Shannon, the director of the National Institutes of Health for 13 years, and Maclyn McCarty, the legendary geneticist -- to help direct the funds.

What kind of research did they support? Seitz mentioned the work of Stanley Prusiner, who won the Nobel prize for his research into prions (Prusiner even thanks Seitz and RJ Reynolds in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech which you can read here).

When I asked Seitz if he ever spent money to try to debunk a link between smoking and ill-health, he said no. When I asked him if he himself had ever denied a link between smoking and cancer, Seitz (who, remember, is almost 100 years old) again said no and told me "my father was a 19th century man, and even he told me from when I was young that there was a connection between smoking and cancer" and that "we often talked about the hazards of smoking." In other words, Seitz was aware of the ill-effects of smoking for a very long time, and has never tried to deny that.
"


3. Sinclair ironically uses a memo from a tobacco industry executive to try and discredit Dr. Seitz as incompetent. Apparently what the tobacco industry says is only truthful when it attacks a scientist Sinclair disagrees with. So which is it Sinclair, are we supposed to believe the tobacco industry or not?


4. Sinclair lies that Dr. Seitz's 1996 editorial in the Wall Street Journal about the IPCC deleting key sections from the final report is not true. The fact is Ben Santer who was the IPCC lead author in question recently admitted to deleting information from the final report.


5. Sinclair attempts to discredit the creator of the Oregon petition, Dr. Arthur B. Robinson for being an independent scientist who advocates for homeschooling and suggests nuclear war is survivable, a position also held by Manhattan Project member and father of the hydrogen bomb, Dr. Edward Teller. The irony is Dr. Robinson's "homeschooled" children got accepted into colleges such as MIT, Caltech, Iowa State University and Southern Oregon University. With his son Noah E. Robinson receiving his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Robinson himself is a credentialed scientist,

Arthur B. Robinson, B.S. Chemistry, Caltech (1963); Ph.D. BioChemistry (Thesis: "Experiments on the synthesis and spectral characterization of cytochrome-related molecules"), University of California, San Diego (1968); Assistant Professor of Chemistry, University of California, San Diego (1968-1972); Founder, Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine (1973); Vice President and Assistant Director, Linus Pauling Institute (1973-1975); President and Research Director, Pauling Institute (1975-1978); President and Research Scientist, Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (1981-Present); Editor and Publisher, Access to Energy (1993-Present); 68 Refereed Research Papers in Scholarly Journals (e.g. Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)


6. Sinclair lies that Dr. Seitz's letter included with the Petition was intended to represent the position of the National Academy of Sciences, when it states no such thing. The only reference to the National Academy of Sciences is Dr. Seitz being a past president. Apparently Dr. Seitz is not allowed to use his actual credentials when signing a letter,

Frederick Seitz, A.B. Mathematics, Stanford University (1932), Ph.D. Physics, Princeton University (1934), Proctor Fellow, Princeton University (1934–1935), Instructor in Physics, University of Rochester (1935–1936), Assistant Professor of Physics, University of Rochester (1936–1937), Research Physicist, General Electric Company (1937–1939), Assistant Professor of Physics, University of Pennsylvania (1939–1941), Associate Professor of Physics, University of Pennsylvania (1941-1942), Professor of Physics, Carnegie Institute of Technology (1942-1949), Research Professor of Physics, University of Illinois (1949-1965), Chairman, American Institute of Physics (1954-1960), President Emeritus, American Physical Society (1961), President Emeritus, National Academy of Sciences (1962-1969), Graduate College Dean, University of Illinois (1964-1965), President Emeritus, Rockefeller University (1968-1978), Franklin Medal (1965), American Institute of Physics Compton Medal (1970), National Medal of Science (1973), (Died: March 2, 2008)


7. Sinclair lies that the original version of the petition's included scientific paper "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide" which explicitly said "Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine" and "The Marshall Institute" (ironically highlighted by Sinclair) was intended to look like it was from the NAS. This claim was refuted by Dr. Robinson,

"Robinson admits it is no coincidence that the article, which he designed on his computer, looks like one published by the academy. 'I used the Proceedings as a model.' he says, 'but only to put the information in a format that scientists like to read, not to fool people into thinking it is from a journal."

"The Malakoff Science article also includes a picture of the first page of our 8-page article. The photo clearly shows no journal name, no submission date, no submitting scientist (required by the Proceedings), and "January 1998'' printed in a format never used by a journal. The article is also twice as long as permitted in the Proceedings (in which I have published several papers) and has other textual and format differences that I introduced to make it easier to read. It actually never occurred to me that this format complaint would be made - probably because I actually expected more.
"

further refutation by Dr. Robinson,

"The review article sent with the petition could not possibly have been mistaken for a PNAS reprint. I have published many research papers in PNAS. I am very familiar with reprint formats.

The PNAS claim originated because Frederick Seitz - past president of the National Academy and past president of Rockefeller University signed a letter that was circulated with the petition. (Dr. Seitz, like everyone else who has actively opposed the "enviro warmers" has been smeared with many false claims.) Also, the first signers of the petition were several rather famous members of the National Academy.
"

The paper in question was later peer-reviewed and published,

Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide (PDF)
(Climate Research, Volume 13, Number 2, pp. 149–164, October 1999)
- Willie H. Soon, Sallie L. Baliunas, Arthur B. Robinson, Zachary W. Robinson



8. Sinclair lies that various fake names were submitted to the petition. This claim was refuted by Dr. Robinson,

"Only one false name has ever appeared on the petition. It was put there by Ozone Action (now Greenpeace USA) and removed immediately thereafter. ...No one has been listed who did not actually sign - except the Ozone Action signature, which they sent with false credentials, a false address, and a false signature."

The other names Sinclair mentions are legitimate scientists,

"In a group of more than 30,000 people, there are many individuals with names similar or identical to other signatories, or to non-signatories – real or fictional. Opponents of the petition project sometimes use this statistical fact in efforts to discredit the project. For examples, Perry Mason and Michael Fox are scientists who have signed the petition – who happen also to have names identical to fictional or real non-scientists."


9. Sinclair lies that only 39 scientists on the petition claim to be "climate scientists". What Sinclair apparently does not know is that very few scientists have an actual degree in climatology and the petition is simply counting the number of degrees each scientist has. Climate science is a field that includes scientists with varied credentials not explicitly "climatology". Some of the most prominent alarmist scientists do not have a degree in climatology,

Gavin Schmidt, Ph.D. Applied Mathematics (NASA GISS, RealClimate)
James Hansen, Ph.D. Physics (NASA GISS)
James Lovelock, Ph.D. Medicine
Joe Romm, Ph.D. Physics (Climate Progress)
John Holden, Ph.D. Theoretical Plasma Physics
Joshua B. Halpern, Ph.D. Physics (Rabett Run)
Kerry Emanuel, Ph.D. Meteorology
Lonnie Thompson, Ph.D. Geological Science
Michael Mann, Ph.D. Geology (RealClimate)
Michael Oppenheimer, Ph.D. Chemical Physics
Michael Tobis, Ph.D. Atmospheric and Oceanic Science
Rajendra Pachauri, Ph.D. Industrial Engineering,(IPCC Chairman, 2007-Present)
Richard Alley, Ph.D. Geology
Richard C. J. Somerville, Ph.D. Meteorology
Robert Watson, Ph.D. Chemistry (IPCC Chairman, 1997-2002)
Stefan Rahmstorf, Ph.D. Oceanography
Steven Schneider, Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering and Plasma Physics
Susan Solomon, Ph.D. Chemistry
Tom Chalko, Ph.D. Laser Holography


10. Sinclair attempts to imply that because the petition explicitly categorizes the qualifications of signers by their degree field this is somehow a problem. The medical science field he criticizes is clearly separate and includes 3,046 signers. After criticizing the petition for including MDs he then asks if you would ask someone with a BA degree to diagnose you for lung cancer? The petition has nothing to do with lung cancer and I believe most people would ask the MDs on the list that he ironically criticizes for their inclusion.


11. Sinclair then brings up a claim of a hypothetical lawsuit against Al Gore. The reason for this is Peter Sinclair AKA "Greenman" was trained by Al Gore,

"Sinclair studied with Al Gore in dealing with the issue of global warming and is an award-winning animator, illustrator and syndicated cartoonist."



12. Sinclair finally just flat out lies and says "there are no 30,000 scientists" after failing to prove this or any of his other bogus claims. Instead he chooses to just use propaganda clips related to smoking throughout his video, which has nothing to do with global warming or the petition. Maybe Peter should stick to what he is really interested in, campaigning against smoking.


References:
A Major Deception on Global Warming (Wall Street Journal, June 12, 1996)
A Scientist Finds Independence (American Spectator, February 2001)
Art Robinson Reponds to Petition Slander (Global Warming Debunking News and Views)
Exclusive: Lead Author Admits Deleting Inconvenient Opinions From IPCC Report (Prison Planet, December 17, 2009)
Frederick Seitz 1911-2008 (University of Illinois, March 4, 2008)
Past NAS President Frederick Seitz Dies at 96 (National Academy of Sciences, March 7, 2008)
President Emeritus Frederick Seitz dies at 96 (Rockerfeller University, March 4, 2008)
Vanity Scare (TCS Daily, April 14, 2006)

2 comments:

FZ said...

Thank you!

It's about someone took this guy to task for his amateurish, lying viscous attack videos.

Notice the little things that expose that far from being an objective defender of science, much of "Greenman" is motivated by hard-core ideology. For instance, using that fact that someone worked in the private sector to discredit them is not what an objective, scientific person does, it is what a socialist ideologue does.

And notice the glaring simplicities in his argument. Because the CEO of R.J. Reynolds supposedly "covered up" the links between smoking and cancer (and the tobacco haters would know about covering up, they have been hiding the fact that secondhand smoke is a myth for years, and many of them rail against tobacco yet support pot smoking, and as your brilliant article about it points out, marijuana is ten times worse than tobacco in terms of cancer, other health effects and oh, it makes you intoxicated too, but I digress) than that means anyone associated with him was evil too and part of the plot. Did it ever occur to them that people do both good and bad? As your post notes, the funding money from tobacco did a lot of good and great research came from it. But left-wing socialists do not deal in nuances like that. They dig into the past, find anything that smacks of "dirt", and use that to demonize. Facts be damned.

And notice how lefty websites like Little Green Footballs use Sinclairs videos to attack those question the environmental/AGW orthodoxy. It's sad that they are so lacking in the ability to argue and reason for themselves that they have to default to that little twerp.

I'd love to see debunking Sinclair's videos become a regular feature. Heck, why not go back and debunk some of his earlier ones?

FZ said...

Okay, in lieu of a regular feature, how about putting up the responses skeptics have had to Greenmans "videos" from blogs and whatnot?