Recursive Lies and “Scientific Consensus” Letters
Guest opinion by Leo Goldstein
The ”Consensus” Letter on Climate Change (06/28/2016), allegedly signed by leaders of 31 scientific organizations and published on the websites of the AAAS, AGU, AMS, and others, was signed only by some of the participating organizations. This is contrary to the letter itself, the press release and the accompanying article. This sham was revealed by some routine fact-checking and the events triggered by it, and is described in a short paper The Solved Riddle of the 2016 Climate Change “Consensus Letter” , edited fragments from which follow.
Timeline of Events
In early morning of July 6th, I sent fact-checking emails to the CEO of the AAAS and to the top officials and/or media contacts of the 30 other organizations. Appendix B of the paper contains the email exchange with AAAS. The emails asked only about signing the letter, not about its content. Specifically, my email asked whether the letter in question was signed by the listed organizations or their leaders, and asked for an opportunity to see the actual signatures. In its reply, AAAS changed the published allegation that the letter was signed to “reflect the participation of leaders of each of the 31 named scientific societies” (Fact #1). My follow up letter, asking AAAS to confirm that the letter was actually signed, went unanswered.
That same day, a different email (Appendix A) was sent to each of the other 30 organizations. All these emails had substantially the same text, but each organization was contacted separately, usually with copies to multiple recipients within that organization. The organizations were not cc’ed on emails sent to their peers, and were not told that other organizations were contacted, except for the triplet of the Agronomy/Soil Science/Crop Science Societies. 9 out of these 30 organizations answered, and all 9 confirmed that they signed the letter. 5 out of 9 replies flatly denied that there was any pressure to sign, and none indicated otherwise. Some probably thought that the question about the pressure was inappropriate. Thus, all replies and non-replies can be divided into two categories: “yes” and “no answer.” If the respondents acted independently, the 9 positive replies would be a valid statistical sample, confirming the null hypothesis that the letter was properly signed by all participants.
But the respondents did not reply independently, as one might expect from any organization simply asked to confirm its signature on a published document. “Leading scientific societies” might also be expected to think independently, but that’s another matter. Instead, the respondents colluded and coordinated their responses or non-responses in an unthinkable manner. This is evidence of foul play by itself (Fact #2). Honest people do not need to coordinate their answers. This lack of independence also makes it impossible to use statistical methods to infer what answers would be given by the 21 organizations that did not reply.
This routine fact-checking exercise suddenly evolved into an experiment, and its timeline is as important as the questions and answers. The replies started pouring immediately after I sent the questions. In fact, 6 out of 10 replies (including the one from AAAS) arrived within eight hours. Then, an email from the Ecological Society of America arrived, and it was as if a silence spell was cast on the “leading nonpartisan scientific societies.” This is the email:
Thanks [name of the recipient redacted],
Halperin is a climate denier and writes several blogs. Throughout the day, I’ve learned he has contacted many other societies with the same questions. Most are declining to respond to his inquiry.
Your response was good. I hope he won’t email you again. I’m sure he will write a scathing piece on the letter.
[name of the sender redacted]
This email was sent by a PR person (who will be referred to here as “Maura” to protect her privacy) in the Ecological Society of America to its President, and was received by me at 11:57am CT. It is short, but when combined with the timing of the other responses, gives a lot of clues:
– An absolutely innocent fact-checking email, which could have been answered by a clerk, caused sudden agitation in the Ecological Society of America. Before midday, Maura of ESA had not only contacted “many other societies” but had learned of the decision on how to deal with it, or even made that decision.
– “Many other societies” shared this agitation. The staff of these “leading nonpartisan scientific societies” did not ask her who she was, or what the hell she was talking about. Apparently, the self-professed “leaders of major scientific organizations” did not refuse to talk with Maura about their correspondence with an unrelated third party, as any decent person would have done. Instead, they readily shared with her all the information.
– “Most are declining to respond…” was a misleading statement. The timing of the responses (see below) shows that within a few hours of the first email, somebody (possibly Maura) identified this fact-checking exercise as a threat, collected information from multiple recipients, and made a decision not to respond (Fact #3). And many “scientific societies” which did not respond before that decision obediently complied. Like a good military – quick reaction, admirable discipline, and excellent chain of Command, Control, & Communication. But whom does this military serve?
– The alertness of the “consensus guard” is a separate indicator of foul play (Fact #4).
– Finally, Maura revealed the fact of the wrongdoing and her knowledge of it the in the last sentence: “I’m sure he will write a scathing piece on the letter” (Fact #5).
After this communication from Maura, I received only four responses. The first one (from the Geological Society) arrived two days later. The second one was from a Tier 3 organization. The last two, from AGU and COL, arrived five and six days later, and contained virtually identical evasive answers, obviously crafted with great care by PR people.
Raw Data and Intermediate Analysis
The organizations that allegedly signed the letter are very diverse in their sizes, capacities, and relevance to the subject matter. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is in a tier of its own because of its size, visibility, and the respect it used to command a few decades ago. It is unashamedly partisan (AAAS head Dr. Rush Holt Jr. was a Democratic Congressman for sixteen years, 1999-2015) but this is not an exception. Judging by their websites, many of the listed organizations look like branches of the Democratic Party, showcasing its declared and even hidden agendas: LGBT, “diversity,” climate change, Cuba, growing hemp etc.
Tier 1 includes 11 organizations: American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, American Statistical Association, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, American Chemical Society, American Society of Plant Biologists, Botanical Society of America, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Society for Mathematical Biology, Geological Society of America, and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. With the exception of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership and UCAR, each organization in Tier 1 is a formerly respectable scientific society, possessing all of the following attributes:
– Its science is relevant to the content of the letter
– It claims to prioritize communicating science to the public
– It has significant full-time staff and other organizational resources
The majority of members of these societies understand, or should be able to understand after a few days of study, that both the content and the thrust of the letter in question contradict well-known facts and/or first principles of their respective scientific fields. The Consortium for Ocean Leadership (who would know that the ocean needs leadership?) is not a scientific society, but it is headed by a retired Rear-Admiral. An Admiral does not have to study science, but should be able to recognize enemy action.
Only two out of 11 societies that were classified as Tier 1 – the American Meteorological Society and the Geological Society of America – plainly confirmed that they signed the letter. Remarkably, the Geological Society disavowed the content of the letter simultaneously with its publication, right in the press release:
Geological studies have demonstrated that climate has changed repeatedly in the past and that future climate change is inevitable. Understanding the complex processes involved in climate change is necessary for adaptation and mitigation.
— Jonathan G. Price, Ph.D., CPG, President, Geological Society of America
In its reply, the Geological Society has confirmed both its signature under the letter and its statement flatly contradicting the letter’s content and intent.
Two other organizations – AGU and COL – replied after a long delay with practically identical text (the emphasis is mine):
The American Geophysical Union, on behalf of its members and its volunteer leaders, is pleased to be a signatory on the letter.
The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, on behalf of its member institutions, is pleased to be a signatory to the letter you reference.
This is, of course, no coincidence. The answer was interpreted as yes, but notice was taken of the delay, evasion, coordination, and excessive exertion (Fact #6).
The remaining Tier1 seven organizations (64%) failed to reply. The word “failed” is used because all these organizations declared science communication as one of their priorities, yet they failed to communicate at this opportunity. Of the rest, 67% did not answer.
Analysis & Conclusion
Facts 1-6, as defined above, demonstrate that something was seriously wrong with the letter signing. Nevertheless, multiple hypotheses can be formulated as to what exactly was wrong. Speaking only of the Tier 1 organizations that did not reply, the following hypotheses come to mind:
1) The organizations that did not reply considered my communication unworthy of their attention.
2) They did sign the letter before publication, but their leaders were aware that the content of the letter was a lie and pseudo-science, and were too embarrassed to acknowledge their signatures.
3) They did not sign the letter before publication, or did not sign it at all. This hypothesis does not imply that the leaders of these organizations were not complicit in the publication of the letter. Rather, they tried to have it both ways – to avoid signing it, but to make people believe that they did sign it.
Of course, different organizations might have had different reasons. But their collaboration on this project and willingness to “speak with one voice” suggests that there were similarities between their ways of thinking and acting. Extensive coordination between many of the alleged signers and the hysterical reaction of the ESA prove that the fact-checking received a lot of their attention, and led to a conscious decision to stonewall or dodge. That leaves only hypotheses 2 and 3. I think that the hypothesis 2 (signed, but embarrassed to acknowledge) is correct for some signing organizations. But it is obvious that neither Maura nor her collaborators in other organizations are embarrassed by anything of this sort. Thus, at least for some of the allegedly signing organizations, hypothesis 3 is correct.
Some organizations whose alleged signatures appear on the letter did not sign it prior to its posting, making the letter somewhat like a forgery, as well as contradicting its “consensus” claims.
The American Physical Society has explicitly rejected the discussed letter: “The American Physical Society did not sign the letter because it was presented as a fait accompli, and there are significant differences between the letter and the APS Statement on Earth’s Changing Climate.” This fact alone refutes the letter’s claim to represent “consensus scientific view.”
Almost every attempt of the climate alarmists to show broad support of scientists led to a forgery, so letter is in no way an exception. One forgotten, but still relevant case was described by Richard Lindzen in his 1992 article Global Warming. The Origin and Nature of the Alleged Scientific Consensus.: “The activities of the Union of Concerned Scientists deserve special mention. That widely supported [in 1992] organization was originally devoted to nuclear disarmament. … Over the past few years, the organization has turned to the battle against global warming in a particularly hysterical manner. In 1989 the group began to circulate a petition urging recognition of global warming as potentially the great danger to mankind. Most recipients who did not sign were solicited at least twice more. The petition was eventually signed by 700 scientists including a great many members of the National Academy of Sciences and Nobel laureates. Only about three or four of the signers, however, had any involvement in climatology. Interestingly, the petition had two pages, and on the second page there was a call for renewed consideration of nuclear power. When the petition was published in the New York Times, however, the second page was omitted. In any event, that document helped solidify the public perception that “all scientists” agreed with the disaster scenario.”
In plain language, somebody in the infamous Union of Concerned Scientists altered the text after it was signed, and published the forged document.
Clarifications & Acknowledgements
I have absolutely no intent to doubt the honesty, integrity, or qualifications of the members of the respective scientific societies. On the contrary, my goal is to underscore that their “leaders” do not represent their members. Unfortunately, media personalities, pseudo-scientists, and well-known frauds keep dressing up as scientists. The media gives star treatment to them and to third-rate scholars. When the blowback comes, the science-ruining politicians and their academic sidekicks will hide behind real scientists as behind human shields. I hope to raise an alert about the desperate situation of American science in general (with the exception of a few areas.) The scientific enterprise was raped by Al Gore, degraded by his appointees behind the back of G.W. Bush, and stomped into the ground by Obama.
More here: http://archive.is/XGD3n