Hal Lewis: My Resignation From The American Physical Society – an important moment in science history

UPDATE5: (Saturday 10/16/10) It has been a week, and I think this piece has been well distributed, so I’m putting it in regular queue now and it will gradually scroll off the page.

UPDATE4: (Friday 10/15/10) APS member Roger Cohen comments here on Andy Revkin’s Dot Earth op/ed.

UPDATE3: (Friday 10/15/10) Andrew Revkin, after a week (I sent him this story last Friday) of digging around to get just the right rebuttal, responds here at Dot Earth.

UPDATE2: (Wednesday 10/13/10) This just in…click for the story.

APS responds! – Deconstructing the APS response to Dr. Hal Lewis resignation

UPDATE: (Saturday 10/9/10) Since this came in late Friday, many of our weekday WUWT readers might not see this important story, so I’m sticking it to the top for a couple of days. New stories will appear just below this one, please scroll down to see them.  – Anthony

Hal Lewis

(Originally posted on 10/8/10 ) We’ve previously covered the APS here, when I wrote:

While Copenhagen and its excesses rage, a quiet revolution is starting.

Indeed, not so quiet now. It looks like it is getting ugly inside with the public airing of the resignation of a very prominent member who writes:

I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.- Hal Lewis

Below is his resignation letter made public today, via the GWPF.

This is an important moment in science history. I would describe it as a letter on the scale of Martin Luther, nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door. It is worthy of repeating this letter in entirety on every blog that discusses science.

What I would really like to see though, is this public resignation letter given the same editorial space as Michael Mann in today’s Washington Post.

Readers, we can do this. Here’s the place at WaPo to ask for it.  For anyone writing to the WaPo, the  national@washpost.com, is the national news editorial desk. The Post’s Ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, is the readers’ representative within the newspaper. E-mail him at ombudsman@washpost.com or call 202-334-7582.

Spread the word on other blogs. Let’s see if they have enough integrity to provide a counterpoint. – Anthony

======================================

Sent: Friday, 08 October 2010 17:19 Hal Lewis

From: Hal Lewis, University of California, Santa Barbara

To: Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society

6 October 2010

Dear Curt:

When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago).

Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence—it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists. As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside there was no hint of inordinate pressure on us as physicists. We were therefore able to produce what I believe was and is an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere. In the end the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be?

How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:

1. About a year ago a few of us sent an e-mail on the subject to a fraction of the membership. APS ignored the issues, but the then President immediately launched a hostile investigation of where we got the e-mail addresses. In its better days, APS used to encourage discussion of important issues, and indeed the Constitution cites that as its principal purpose. No more. Everything that has been done in the last year has been designed to silence debate

2. The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members as I have long known them. So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it. One of the outstanding marks of (in)distinction in the Statement was the poison word incontrovertible, which describes few items in physics, certainly not this one. In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety. (They did admit that the tone was a bit strong, but amazingly kept the poison word incontrovertible to describe the evidence, a position supported by no one.) In the end, the Council kept the original statement, word for word, but approved a far longer “explanatory” screed, admitting that there were uncertainties, but brushing them aside to give blanket approval to the original. The original Statement, which still stands as the APS position, also contains what I consider pompous and asinine advice to all world governments, as if the APS were master of the universe. It is not, and I am embarrassed that our leaders seem to think it is. This is not fun and games, these are serious matters involving vast fractions of our national substance, and the reputation of the Society as a scientific society is at stake.

3. In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.

4. So a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation. I might note that it was not easy to collect the signatures, since you denied us the use of the APS membership list. We conformed in every way with the requirements of the APS Constitution, and described in great detail what we had in mind—simply to bring the subject into the open.

5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members’ interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. You did ask the members if they would sign a petition to form a TG on your yet-to-be-defined subject, but provided no petition, and got lots of affirmative responses. (If you had asked about sex you would have gotten more expressions of interest.) There was of course no such petition or proposal, and you have now dropped the Environment part, so the whole matter is moot. (Any lawyer will tell you that you cannot collect signatures on a vague petition, and then fill in whatever you like.) The entire purpose of this exercise was to avoid your constitutional responsibility to take our petition to the Council.

6. As of now you have formed still another secret and stacked committee to organize your own TG, simply ignoring our lawful petition.

APS management has gamed the problem from the beginning, to suppress serious conversation about the merits of the climate change claims. Do you wonder that I have lost confidence in the organization?

I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people’s motives. This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise. As the old saying goes, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Since I am no philosopher, I’m not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.

I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation. APS no longer represents me, but I hope we are still friends.

Hal

==========================================================

Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board; Served in US Navy in WW II; books: Technological Risk (about, surprise, technological risk) and Why Flip a Coin (about decision making)

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RC Saumarez

What a very sincere and honest letter. I hope that many others who have been apalled by the corruption of science by the climate lobby will follow his lead and make their views known.

View from the Solent

Wow.

Schrodinger's Cat

Wow!
That man deserves respect.

slow to follow

wow – and public too.

Trev

Nothing has changed much – you only need to look at the way Newton stacked up a Royal Society committee to refute Leibniz’s claims and support his own. Newton also wrote Hooke out of the history books.
Nothing changes.

Thank you.

kim

Hello Hal Lewis.
Pleased to meet you this way.
Shun mashed potatoes.
========

Gary Pearse

There is a point beyond which resuscitation or rehabilitation of institutions, journals, individuals … is realistic or useful. Time to consider pulling the plug on several of them and creating new ones. Maybe the APS is one of them.

Richard Sharpe

A man of integrity … unlike a number in climate science.

vigilantfish

I wish this would be a wake-up call to the rest of the APS, but suspect the APS leadership will encourage this letter to sink without creating noticeable ripples. Dr. Harold Lewis confirms my own assessment of the scale of this scandal as ‘the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud’ in his or my lifetime, and indeed, without precedent in the history of science, as in the closest analogy, the eugenics movement, there was no political or PC suppression of dissenting opinions.
If our civilization survives, this will eventually represent a black eye for the APS for its refusal to acknowledge either implications of the Climategate scandal or its own mistake in taking a political rather than a scientific stand. This ‘blunder’ (to use a much kinder word than deserved) is one that deserves the same degree of excoriation as the Catholic Church deservedly receives for its treatment of Galileo. In both cases, the truth was evident, but was suppressed for political reasons. Indeed, there are actually more extenuating factors for the Church (given the general Reformation climate of intolerance, and the scanty track-record of science prior to the Scientific Revolution) than there are for the APS. Dr. Harold Lewis is courageous to take such a stand as he has.

Jeff (of Colorado)

WOW!
If a majority of APS members feel the same, they can through several election cycles, remove those who oppose the APS constitution, either by vote, not reappointing to committees, or actual removal. Even a vocal 30% can move the middle- of-the-road 30% to action. It is how democratic organizations work, but it does take you away from a career, research and teaching. It does require time and effort, and a motivated constituency. If APS is a self-sustaining leadership, then the current tyranny will continue, until a disaster overtakes it’s board or it is made irrelevant by a replacement organization. The first step was taken when APS members who disagree with their leadership realized that they were not alone!

Chris Edwards

What a great man, maybe it is time to found (is that the correct term) a new society with a constitution based on that of the USA with open membership lists and places for actual scientists and laymen who are interested in science, above all it should be open and honest, sort of like a fermal WUWT!

richard verney

This raises the age old dilemna as to whether one is better to fight battles from within or to stand proud but on the sidelines.
If all sceptics at APS were to resign there would be no prospect of forcing the APS to consider the climate science issues and at some stage issue a pronouncement of the Ssociety’s position on them. Having said that I applaud Hal’s integrity and I am not surprised to see a true and genuine scientist hold such views. Of course, it would be good if he could get his story/letter published in the MSM (but of course there is no real hope of that).
If AGW is eventually discredited (and in the end the pro warmist lobby will be unable to control what is truly hapening to the climate – say temps cool over the next 20 years) there is going to be a lot of discredited scientific bodies/ institutions and it will take a long time for science to regrain mainstream credibility once more.
Seeing the wheels that are beginning to come off the wagon, I am surprised that leading institutions are not beginninng to revise their positions at least to the extent of pointing out that uncertainties exist to some extent and that there are still some unkown mechanisms, variables which could have an impact. To start making a slight retreat now would assist their exit stratergy should sometime in the medium future the AGW be shown beyond doubt to be a scam/false theory.

Golf Charley

Perhaps he and Michael Mann should have a public debate?

DRE

Would a real scientist stand up and speak . . . oh one just did.

John R. Walker

“It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist.”
Incontrovertible!
Respect!

David, UK

Reading this made me very sad – not so much sad for this fine, honest scientist and gentleman who leaves the Society with his integrity firmly intact (although that is of course a very sad fact). I am more sad to have yet another reaffirmation of the politically- and money-driven state of today’s “science.” And sad to be reminded that there are millions of brainwashed sheep out there who will happily label this man a “denier,” and a “lunatic on the fringe,” doubtless accompanied by accusations of being in the pay of Big Oil. There will be more still who simply close their eyes to this, deep in denial (yes, the word is more aptly applied to YOU), and carry on spreading alarm, business-as-usual.
Shame on the APS. Shame on the Believers everywhere.
Hal: those who respect freedom and honesty salute you.

kramer

Courage and honesty… I love it.

What a powerful letter. I hope it spreads far and wide.

DRE

I don’t know if anybody has noticed but Wegman is being investigated for misconduct.

DRE

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2010/10/wegman-plagiarism-investigation-/1
My Web-Fu is weak and I don’t seem to be able to get the link posted properly.

EJ

I am unfamiliar with Dr. Lewis, and with his efforts to petition the APS. This scenario indicates, again, how all of science has been adversely impacted by the sloppy work of climate activists (I can no longer call them scientists). I applaud his honesty and hope this is not his last word on this issue.
Just think, the 1010 project and their ignorant lemmings would explode this renowned physicist for his views.
Thanks and continued good health to Dr. Lewis!
EJ

desmong

It is a shame to have such an old scientist to close his career in this way.
I read in detail his letter of resignation and I can see that technology has passed him. He said he tried to run an e-mail campaign using the APS member e-mails only to be chastised that he was actually sending unsolicited e-mails.

There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise.

With this he falls so low that is a shame for him. He presents a grand conspiracy involving trillions(!) of dollars and exotic islands.
Who fed him with all this misinformation?

MackemX

Absolutely stunned.
Seems a shame that a once austere society is losing someone with such obvious integrity, but I can’t find fault with any of what he says and there comes a point where it becomes apparent that you can’t actually change things from the inside.
Enormous respect is due to Hal, well done sir and my sympathies for the position the unethical approach of others has put you in.

In my long career in academic life I have never read as brave and honest a letter of principle as this by Hal Lewis. Irrespective of the merits of the case, climate science has become prostituted to the most insidious form of corruption – money. On this most crucial of issues we needed the very best of science not the worst – Hal Lewis’s integrity should be a beacon to us all on whichever side of the argument we stand.

David W

This is a powerful statement to all who like to paint climate change sceptics as conspiracy theorists and crackpots. I have saved a copy of this letter to use next time someone tries to label me in such a way. It shows we are in good company.

MackemX

Desmong,
If I’m reading your comment correctly, are you trying to suggest that carbon trading does not represent a multi-trillion dollar industry?

crosspatch

This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club.

Not to mention the best cocktail parties.
And what sickens me more is that the APS will lay low, say nothing, and simply hope that all this blows over.
There is something that is very important that goes beyond science. A parent might understand. If we are spending trillions of dollars, then we are spending now the tax money of people who have not yet even been born. We are borrowing money that people yet to be born will be asked to pay back. We have an obligation to them to ensure that we are spending their future earnings wisely and for good purpose. I do not have that confidence. I believe we are doing a grave disservice to future generations and that the notion that we are doing this to SAVE future generations, quite Orwellian. But that is how our politics work these days. If you want to rob future generations of their earnings, you claim to be saving them.
This should not only turn the stomach of the scientists, but it should be found revolting to anyone who has or hope to have children. This is a fraud and a theft on a scale I have not heard of in history.

The APS is not unique. It seems that all major scientific professional societies have trooped uncritically into the warmist lobby. I have decided to resign my membership of the American Chemical Society this year because of dogmatic warmist editorials in its weekly magazaine, C&EN. The editor Rudy Baum is perfectly able to see through the bisphenol A and other chemical scares, but at the same time trots out all the usual warmist scare stuff and has used the temperature reconstructions of Michael Mann uncritically to back up this case.
I do not have the time or interest to tackle the issue from within. I will miss the useful updates to the world of chemical industry in C&EN but hope the ACS will miss my subscription a little more.

ZT

Thank you.
An example to us all.

Rod Grant

Richard Verney says; If AGW is eventually discredited (and in the end the pro warmist lobby will be unable to control what is truly hapening to the climate – say temps cool over the next 20 years.
Richard don’t you know that the cooling will be the result of everyone turning off their appliance standby lights and throwing out their incandescent light globes and burning food products, rather than oil, in their cars?

What an impressive and principled stand, as an Englishman i am totally ashamed of the pivotal role being played by UK institutions in the corruptions of free scientific thinking so eloquently expounded in yor resignation letter.

beesaman

Any warmist like to tell us that Hal Lewis is not a real scientist, just because he disagrees with them? Oh come on that’s the usual tactic, that and character smears.
Maybe they are too busy counting their payoffs from the green lobbies (or as other folk would call it, taxes).

slow to follow

richard verney October 8, 2010 at 3:44 pm:
My reading of the letter is that he tried all available means to tackle this from within.
As far as revised positions go, the Royal Society recently produced a precautionary reweaseling of their words:
http://royalsociety.org/News_WF.aspx?pageid=4294972969&terms=climate+science&fragment=&SearchType=&terms=climate%20science

Leon Brozyna

Q: What are the differences between politicians and scientists?
.
A: None … they both lie to make themselves look good and seem important and suck the blood out of taxpayer wallets.
++++++++++++++++
Once upon a time I considered scientists to be one of the last bastions of truth, honor, and integrity. Sadly, this no longer seems to be the case.

pesadia

Hal Lewis must have been wrestling with his consience for some considerable time before concluding that this was his only option. I have to say that he has confirmed my personal thoughts about the E-mails being incontrovertible evidence of wrong doing.
Science has not had a good day for some considerable time, but this is a good day for science. I propose that henceforth, good science days shall be called “Hal Lewis Days”
May we have many many more Hal Lewis days in the not too distant future, in the interests of science and scientists.
One small step for science, one huge step for a true scientist.

Athelstan

A man of most refreshing probity, what happened to the APS?
The same as in the RS, I guess.

FergalR

What a great man.

Dave

I only have one word to say, ‘wow, unbelievable.’
(sorry, I went to the Joe Biden school of word counting).

Theo Goodwin

Hal Lewis writes:
“I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.”
I agree wholeheartedly with Professor Lewis. To me, the most frustrating aspect of the Grand Climate Gate Fraud is that the proponents have offered nothing that passes muster as serious science. Some computer models and the characteristics of the CO2 molecule are all they offered. Even if perfect, the study behind Mann’s Hockey Stick was profoundly trivial. I am so very pleased to learn that Professor Lewis managed to gather 200 members of the APS who wanted to discuss these matters. I am not surprised that bureaucrats shut them down. And I agree with Professor that money seems to be the only explanation. So let us formulate Lewis’ rule: floods of money to scientists corrupt science and do great harm to science.

Karl

Desmong:
There we go, suggesting this brave scientist is old and feeble-minded unable to master the technology and is therefore on the fringe; an “old scientist.”
It’s what we’ve come to expect when a scientist with integrity speaks up against the orthodoxy.

Phil's Dad

Desmong (October 8, 2010 at 4:01 pm),
You make a very, very weak “cut and paste” attempt at ad hom.
What is the point?

ThinkingScientist

Professor Hal Lewis, I think your integrity and scientific professionalism is on a par with Galileo. As a scientist I can think of no higher compliment.

Sean

He expressed it well when he made clear that science is about debate … but the debate is over.

David, UK

Well, here is my email to the Washpost:
Dear Editor
May I request that as counterpoint to Michael Mann’s recent article, equal space is allowed to publicise the open resignation letter from scientist Hal Lewis to the scientific body the APS? Lewis can probably now count himself amongst the “climate change deniers” referred to by Mann in his piece.
Please see his letter of resignation here, and consider it for publication in your paper or on your site, in the interest of fair, open and balanced reporting to your readership, upon which I am sure you must pride yourself.
Thank you for your kind attention.
http://thegwpf.org/ipcc-news/1670-hal-lewis-my-resignation-from-the-american-physical-society.html
Faithfully
David Cochrane
Layman and lover of science
I know – you can probably do better than that – but it’s my effort for what it is worth.

Karl

The American Meteorological Society is another example of a scientific society that has gone down the same trail as the APS.

Slabadang

WOW!
Lewis sure got his pride and honour intact. Ive worked with “company values” for decades now and when your most loyal members acts like this there it`s a very reliable signal that the organisation has lost its purpose and identity.
Brave! Mr Lewis Brave! Thank you for sharing your frustration and hopelesness!

huxley

Hal Lewis was one of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s last students. He studied at Berkeley and the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study. He worked at Bell Labs. He chaired the JASON Defense Advisory Panel which was an exotic semi-hush-hush group which consulted with US government, before becoming a professor at UC Santa Barbara.
All of which is to say that Hal Lewis was a serious scientist with high credentials.
His resignation from APS should not be ignored.

Ben D.

As you can all tell, changing this from the inside is impossible..its the old story that smart investors tell you: never invest extra money into the company you work for, it puts all your eggs in the same basket..all of these scientists involved have put their life’s integrity, work and money into this charade and they can not allow it to go down without facing a reality that involves scrubbing toilets.
On the other hand, do not think I am claiming a conspiracy at all. I believe that these people are simply motivated by the simplest of motivations…money and power. Without this scare, their money and power evaporates in the blink of an eye. Just watch as this does come crashing down … the larger something gets, the bigger it falls. The only crimes (other then incompetence) that will come out of this will be after the fact, so just watch the show. Climategate is still working its rounds, and further coups are going to pop up as the smarter investors bail out quickly at some point leaving the scientists the ones that will become broke and poor.

Slabadang

Desmong!
Your the obviously the opposit character of Mr Lewis.But thanks for exposing the lack of honour within the AGW camp once again.I really mean it thank you!