Chronology Current Month Current Thread Current Date
[Year List] [Month List (current year)] [Date Index] [Thread Index] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Prev] [Date Next]

Re: [Phys-l] not caring why Prof. Hal Lewis resigned from APS

A plea for discussing the actual data, and we end up with political statements regarding Fox News, Acorn, and the pejorative "deniers." The issue is unfortunately political, and even in a physics forum, we can't get away from the politics. I don't have a dog in this hunt-- haven't made up my mind. I just wish there could be a rational discussion. I work with science teachers and students, and the only source most of them have on the subject is An Inconvenient Truth. More discussion of evidence and less propaganda would be nice in the schools. We can differ on our conclusions, but I'm sure we can agree that An Inconvenient Truth is propaganda. There has to be a better way to educate students on the subject.


William C. Robertson
Bill Robertson Science, Inc.

On Oct 11, 2010, at 3:56 PM, John Denker wrote:

I recommend that we stop making _ad hominem_ arguments in either
direction and instead discuss the actual data. A possible starting
point is

I probably shouldn't, but I am tempted to take one swipe at the
_ad hominem_ arguments, not to prove anything about the climate
either way, but to show how worthless the arguments are.

On 10/11/2010 04:59 PM, LaMontagne, Bob wrote:
Pseudoscience has nothing to do with holding an unpopular position
outside the current consensus. I wish people would stop stating this
as if there were some weighty truth to it. There are specific
criteria for pseudoscience: irrefutable arguments, exegesis,
non-reproducible data, etc. One can easily show how certain topics
like "Bermuda Triangle", Chioropractry, Iridology, etc., meet the
criteria. "Popularity" is not one of those criteria.

We can agree that popularity is not a good criterion.

However, some of the things Lewis said in his resignation letter
do meet the criteria, zeroing whatever credibility he may have

I have looked at some of the "climategate scandal" evidence and
contrary to what Lewis asserts, it does not look like a "gate" or a
"scandal" of any kind. It reminds me more of the ACORN "scandal"
where a group of people were targeted by an elaborate smear
campaign, including attempts to enlist them in a supposed criminal
conspiracy. Most members of the group did an outstanding job of
resisting the attack, including those who immediately called the
police to report the conspirators / provocateurs ... yet even
these people were vilified by Fox News who ran grossly fictionalized
accounts of the interaction, day after day, without the slightest
attempt to find out the facts. Much later the facts were ascertained
by various state attorneys general, and no wrongdoing was attributed
to ACORN. There was however clear evidence of crimes committed by
the attackers (O'Keefe and Giles). Still, the political objective of
the attack was fully achieved. ACORN was destroyed.

ACORN was despised by certain well-heeled parties because of its
success in getting minimum-wage initiatives on the ballot, many of
which passed by huge margins. So there was clear motive for the

Similarly climate scientists are despised by certain well-heeled
parties. There is clear motive for repeated attacks.

Various universities and other institutions have been investigating
the scientists who were accused in the "climategate scandal". The
results are starting to trickle in. In most cases the scientists
have been exonerated. Some of them could have perhaps responded
more graciously in the face of chronic dishonorable attacks, but
even so I have not seen anything that would undermine the integrity
of the basic data. Last but not least, even if we throw out all the
data from the labs that have been smeared, there is still plenty of
data from other sources to sustain the scientific consensus about
anthropogenic climate change.

Conversely, there is a clear motive for -- and a clear record of -- a
small number of climate-change deniers attracting huuuuge amounts of
funding from shadowy sources. A case in point is Art Robinson, who is
running for Congress in Oregon. He is not just a climate-change denier.
In 1995 -- some 15 years after the discovery of the HIV virus -- he
dismissed the idea that HIV causes AIDS. He has staked out other kooky
positions too numerous to mention -- yet he has attracted funding well
into six figures from anonymous sources. It is easy for well-funded
provocateurs to do a lot of damage.

There are other cases of honorable people being smeared by Breitbart
and/or Fox e.g. Shirley Sherrod.

As of a week ago, I didn't care what Hal Lewis thought about the climate
change data. Now, after hearing him spout off about the "climategate
scandal", I care even less.
Forum for Physics Educators