Naomi Oreskes – the gift that keeps on giving, Pt 1

Reposted from GelbspanFiles.com

Harvard science history professor Naomi Oreskes was one of the witnesses appearing under oath at the 10/23/19 House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s “Examining the Oil Industry’s Efforts to Suppress the Truth about Climate Change” hearing. A pair of missteps while responding to questions didn’t bolster her appearance as a detached, objective, expert witness on the complicated topic of alleged fossil fuel industry disinformation efforts. She also offered written testimony, … and in doing so about a couple of details, she once again reinforced how she’s not particularly adept about keeping her mouth shut on items that have the potential of opening up a Pandora’s Box about the history of the tactics used by enviro-activists to accuse skeptic climate scientists of being ‘industry-paid shills spreading disinformation.’

Regarding the unhelpful oral responses:

At the 1:27:38 point in the hearing, committee member Carol Miller (R-VWA) asked Oreskes if there was a flaw in her 2017 study of ‘Exxon disinformation,’ in which Oreskes and her co-researcher Geoffrey Supran referenced Exxon advertorials that were actually a collection of ads from Exxon and Mobil. It’s a sizable problem (complete story here) that seriously undermined her and Supran’s study. Oreskes answered by saying the current ExxonMobil is a company that “took on the assets and liabilities” of Mobil, a bit of a dodge to the question. The Oreskes/Supran study itself contains this dodge.

Aside: Excusing away such a fault with “well, it’s all one company now, and the whole industry has troublesome operations” is ludicrous. Imagine, for comparison, if researchers stated that the BNSF railway knew they had highly problematic operation policy within their system from 1989 to 2004, but the researchers failed to distinguish that the majority of the problems were in the Burlington Northern system prior to 1995, while also being unable to state that BN merged with the Santa Fe railway in 1995.

But partway through her answer, Rep Miller interrupted to ask when Exxon and Mobil merged. Oreskes did not know, and when turning to Supran for help, he didn’t know, either.

That was awkward. She is a historian, and Supran supposedly helped gather info for their infamous 2017 study.

Later, committee member Chip Roy (R-TX) followed up (1:49:14 point) by asking Oreskes if she agreed fundamentally that scientific studies such as hers and Supran’s should be conducted in a manner that doesn’t dictate results or use methodology which results in biased outcomes. Oreskes agreed, whereupon Rep Roy asked if she had tweeted two years before her and Supran’s study, “Did Exxon deliberately mislead the public on climate change? Hello. Of course they did!,” to which Oreskes said “I believe it was after the report, but I could check on that.”

Oops. Studies containing cherry-picked results by researchers who demonstrate unmistakable bias against their research topic doesn’t look good at all.

Now, regarding Oreskes unhelpful Prepared Written Testimony, we have the following, respectively, from pages 6 and 7:

The fossil fuel industry has also promoted disinformation through the activities of “third-party allies”: other organizations and groups, with whom they collaborated on messaging, helped to fund, or helped to create. These included the Global Climate Coalition, the Cooler Heads Coalition, Informed Citizens for the Environment, and the Greening Earth Society. …. Two of these groups—the so-called Informed Citizens for the Environment and the Greening Earth Society—were created and funded by a coal industry trade association, the Western Fuels Association, ….

…. A third way the industry has promoted disinformation is through their trade associations. In the early 1990s, the Western Fuels Association ran a media campaign across the country designed to undermine public support for climate action by promoting the message that it would be wasteful to spend money solving a problem that perhaps did not actually exist (Appendix 16)

Let’s examine the faults there in reverse order – it would be nice to see what’s in Oreskes “Appendix 16”, but so far, it is not available in her PDF testimony file or anywhere else on the internet at the present time. Nevertheless, the “media campaign across the country” Oreskes refers to was the only public relations campaign Western Fuels had at the time, notoriously titled the “Information Council for the Environment (ICE).” As I’ve already detailed, it was not seen all around the country.

Next, it is entertaining that Oreskes brings up Western Fuels’ Greening Earth Society, not seen among her material since her 2010 “How Well do Facts Travel?” book’s chapter five contribution, in which she thanked a person named Anthony Socci for bringing that group to her attention. The same Socci who she says added notes to a particular “Chicken Little” ICE newspaper ad — hold that particular thought for a moment — archived in a document file that is not where Oreskes said it was. The same Socci who was seen as a Senate staffer in association with a 1992 Senate hearing where Al Gore was grilling a skeptic climate scientist about connections to Western Fuels.

Finally, there’s Oreskes’ mentions of the “Informed Citizens for the Environment,” “so-called,” as though it was still some kind of a known entity. She knows better than that, having mentioned the correct public name for Western Fuels’ 1991 pilot project PR campaign before in her oft-cited 2008 Powerpoint presentation, and from being a direct participant in not one, but two Friends of the Court briefs this year which specifically mentioned the correct name (except for the word “on”, when it is “for“).

But she also mentioned it in the above noted book chapter contribution, in an unmistakable way:

The campaign strategists decided on an acronym before they decided what it stood for – ICE – and an early part of the program used focus groups to test potential names: “Information Council for the Environment,” “Informed Citizens for the Environment,” “Intelligent Concern for the Environment,” and “Informed Choices for the Environment.” The focus groups indicated that American citizens trusted scientists more than politicians or political activists – and much less than industry spokesmen – so Western Fuels settled on Information Council for the Environment because it positioned ICE as a “technical” source rather than an industry group. When the advertising campaign was launched, it operated under this name, with a logo of an outstretched hand holding a large plant emerging from the globe.

The problem with her assertion about the name choices is that, as the New York Times reported in 1991, that advice was never used. Ask people who were directly associated with the short-lived ICE campaign, and they will tell you that the particular set of name suggestions and strategy/targeting goals was an outright rejected proposal.

There’s an interesting twist to this last problem. Kert Davies, formerly at Greenpeace’s ExxonSecrets site (that anti-Exxon Kert Davies), has also implied that “Informed Citizens for the Environment” was an accepted alternative name for the ICE campaign at his current Climate Files documents website. Still holding the “Chicken Little ICE newspaper ad thought”?

Notice the “outstretched hand holding a large plant emerging from the globe” logo at the bottom right? The same logo and ad appears ….. partially ….. at a page for the law firm handling nine of the current global warming lawsuits. Where does Davies scan copy of that ad trace back to? Greenpeace’s page 49 scan of the ICE campaign ads. What happens when you use Greenpeace’s own magnification tool at that page?

You see the unused name, “Informed Citizens for the Environment.”

Naomi Oreskes just pointed out a name that particular members of Greenpeace and a particular law firm doesn’t want you to see.

When the expectation was that Oreskes would offer devastating evidence at a House hearing that was supposed to prove the oil industry suppresses the truth about global warming, she didn’t actually point to any such suppression, and further undercut her credibility by twice stating the wrong name for a PR campaign which enviro-activists believe is the source for leaked memos (worthless memos, as it turns out) that supposedly prove the existence of industry-orchestrated / financed disinformation campaigns.

It’s a golden opportunity for congressional investigators to ask why ‘expert witness’ Oreskes can’t get her facts straight, and why the trail of Greenpeace’s ICE memo scans containing a rejected PR campaign name / strategy goal ….

…. and rejected targeting goals ….

…. traces all the way back to Al Gore’s 1991-’92 Senate office.

Gore, being the person who couldn’t get the corporation name right himself when he later repeated the strategy goal … among other subsequent errors of attribution.

This hearing may be the first time Naomi Oreskes ever faced pushback regarding her claims about alleged industry-coordinated disinformation efforts. Notice how evasive she became when Rep Chip Roy hinted at where the coordinated efforts of disinformation might actually be found. She responded by saying it was an “academic discussion” and managed to slide out of that awkward moment with a joke about how uncoordinated academia is ….. but her 2012 La Jolla workshop doesn’t look like it was batting around mere theoretical notions considering how subsequent action material popped up involving people supplying ‘Chicken Little ad evidence’ to global warming lawsuits, and/or having key leading roles in global warming lawsuits.
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Stay tuned for Pt 2: Careful for what you wish for / “Trust us, these guys are guilty, and we can prove it when we find the evidence.”

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51 thoughts on “Naomi Oreskes – the gift that keeps on giving, Pt 1

      • And on ABNBCBS MS/CNN. The propaganda press is a bull horned town crier for the Totalitarian efforts put forth by the UN Climate Council. I have watched Network TV shows, Dramas and Comedies,that inject a matter of fact danger narrative about Climate Change into the frictional characters dialogue. No fictional character ever pushes back on that narrative.

        The peer review process is a gatekeeper for their propaganda. Now they want to regulate social media to advance the lies. The truth is out there but you won’t know it by these methods of communication.

        Tell us, thingadonta, where the science papers questioning the severity of CO2 on our climate are readily placed in front of the public eye, not just available mind you but foisted upon the public, because I’m not seeing it anywhere.

    • I notice no pictures of Naomi, who, one could argue, has an argument with the world. She was not dealt a good deck.

    • “The fossil fuel industry has also promoted disinformation”

      The fossil fuel industry is promoting the practicing of basic science. It is those who promote human-caused climate change that are producing the disinformation. They assume human-caused climate change is real, without any evidence, and assume anyone who doesn’t believe the way they do is spreading disinformation. The alarmists are accusing others of doing what they themselves are doing.

    • Always loved the “they get money from fossil fuel, so therefore I don’t believe anything they say, even if they are qualified. Which they aren’t, of course, but …” argument.

      I mean, oil companies pay tax.

      That tax pays senators.

      Therefore, Al Gore’s income derived from fossil fuels.

      Prove me wrong…

  1. Seriously? Considering most, if not all, oil companies have off-shoot green companies including wind turbine projects and solar, I’d have thought they’d be very happy to spread the chicken little news as far and wide as they can, which, of course, they do! They even donate funds to the CRU (the start of this nonsense in 1972) and have done since it’s inception, it’s stated in black and white on its acknowledgement page, among with the other likely funders such as Greenpeace, WWF, the EU and sadly us hard working tax payers. This is laughable!
    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/web/cru/about-cru/history

    • 99% of oil companies don’t have “off-shoot green companies.” The odds are that you have never even heard of 99% of the oil companies in the United States, much less the world.

      The U.S. Internal Revenue Code section 613A(d) defines an independent producer as a producer who does not have more than $5 million in retail sales of oil and gas in a year or who does not refine more than an average of 75,000 barrels per day of crude oil during a given year. There are about 9,000 independent oil and natural gas producers in the United States. These companies operate in 33 states and the offshore and employ an average of just 12 people.

      Independent producers develop 91 percent of the wells in the United States – producing 83 percent of America’s oil and 90 percent of America’s natural gas. Independents can be small family companies or publicly traded companies. These companies efforts account for 3 percent of the United States’ Gross Domestic Product and they reinvest billions of dollars back into the American economy to discover and to produce more energy in the most cost-efficient ways. As the infographics below illustrate, IPAA members play a critical role in the nation’s overall economic vitality and energy security.

      https://www.ipaa.org/independent-producers/

      Of the handful of major oil companies that do dabble in green schist, it rarely comprises as much as 1% of their business.

  2. If Naomi Oreskes isn’t lying, then she isn’t trying.
    Every Liberal* knows that. It’s one of the key rules they operate under.
    Occasionally getting caught is just part of the gambit.

    * A liberal is a Socialist who lies to hide their true nature and/or costs of their ideology.
    That’s why Bernie Sanders is true Socialist and not a true Liberal. He doesn’t lie about what his policies would cost the public. He’s upfront about the tax shagging the middle class would get from his policies.

  3. Genuine legal question, anyone who is up on the American evidence rules might ne able to assist.
    Since when was it acceptable for comment from people like Oreskes with only hearsay evidence of activities, allowed or ever taken into consideration, when serious judgement in a court or quasi court process it taking place?

    • Rod Evans, here’s a semi-legal comment to your excellent question: When the Democrats are in the majority of the House of Representatives they convene committees and make up the rules as they go. The initial phases of the Impeachment Inquiry against President Trump included, as an alleged “whistleblower” a person with extreme anti-Trump bias and only second and third hand knowledge, as an egregious example. Professor Naomi fits right in with this group. Please don’t show her picture.

      • The Democrats have finally proven global warming is real – we are quickly moving from a constitutional republic to a banana republic.

        • “we are quickly moving from a constitutional republic to a banana republic.”

          Make that a Mañana Republic. (We’ll pay for it later, like Wimpy.)

          • (Doh!) I finally get what Wimpy was created to represent! Thanks Roger, it’s a kick to recognize political satire where you never had before, watching old cartoons.

      • That’s what I thought. In fact, the demise of the coal industry has been good for oil and gas companies – particularly natural gas. In fact, oil/gas companies have not been shy about pointing out that conversion of thermal electric plants from coal to gas substantially reduces CO2 emissions.

    • In this case, Western Fuels is the source of “evidence” for both Al Gore and Naomi Orestes to claim there’s a sinister fossil fuel conspiracy to spread disinformation. ExxonMobil could nail this mob to the wall over this false accusation, if they chose to do so.

  4. As far as I can see, the fossil fuel industry has put out considerably less climate change publicity than the alarmist industry has. It certainly doesn’t seem to have been as effective, even with all that oil money behind it.

  5. The oil companies couldn’t wait to swim in a sea of carbon credits. I hope the beast they created consumes them and then maybe I can buy energy from a non genocidal organization.

    • Abject nonsense. ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, etc aren’t the oil & gas industry.
      The odds are that you have never even heard of 99% of the oil companies in the United States, much less the world.

      The U.S. Internal Revenue Code section 613A(d) defines an independent producer as a producer who does not have more than $5 million in retail sales of oil and gas in a year or who does not refine more than an average of 75,000 barrels per day of crude oil during a given year. There are about 9,000 independent oil and natural gas producers in the United States. These companies operate in 33 states and the offshore and employ an average of just 12 people.

      Independent producers develop 91 percent of the wells in the United States – producing 83 percent of America’s oil and 90 percent of America’s natural gas. Independents can be small family companies or publicly traded companies. These companies efforts account for 3 percent of the United States’ Gross Domestic Product and they reinvest billions of dollars back into the American economy to discover and to produce more energy in the most cost-efficient ways. As the infographics below illustrate, IPAA members play a critical role in the nation’s overall economic vitality and energy security.

      https://www.ipaa.org/independent-producers/

      • I will give you 1/2 point for clarification. “Thank you”??

        Yes I come from a family in this business and I understand that independent producers exist and may or may not be ready to sell out humanity to a genocidal religion as their larger peers are.

        • I’ve been a petroleum geologist working in the oil industry for 38 years.

          Even majors like ExxonMobil, who support a carbon tax, do so only because it is the least harmful form of government malfeasance. There is no doubt that the government will eventually impose some manner of carbon emissions regulations, a carbon tax is the least awful choice

          • Well if selling out humanity to a genocidal religion is the ” least harmful form of government malfeasance” then as they say, “Houston We Have a Problem!”,

            because I have no intention of living peacefully in your least harmful communist hell hole.

            I think you are vastly underestimating what is in the cards if your noble industry stays complicit with the genocidally insane.

          • Supporting economically sustainable carbon emissions reductions is the antithesis of being complicit in Green New Deal Marxism. It’s actually the only way to kill Green New Deal Marxism.

          • “Hope is not a strategy.”
            –Vince Lombardi

            I think President Trump will be reelected and the GOP will hold the Senate and retake the House, particularly if the Durham investigation leads to indictments for the Russia collusion fraud.

            However, hoping that there is an infinite political reprieve is not a strategy.

          • “There is no doubt that the government will eventually impose some manner of carbon emissions regulations, a carbon tax is the least awful choice”
            Says you. No one can predict what stupidities the government may engage in, particularly wrt “climate” initiatives, and the fact that the CAGW ideology is in a tailspin now. With Trump almost guarranteed a 2nd term, that could mean its death knell.

          • “Supporting economically sustainable carbon emissions reductions is the antithesis of being complicit in Green New Deal Marxism. It’s actually the only way to kill Green New Deal Marxism.”

            The incrementalism toward a “scientific dictatorship” you are advocating is antithetical to a free humanity. I assume you believe the Club of Rome is a benevolent institute to advise the management of human herds. I also assume you believe any resistance to this plan of a scientific dictatorship is futile. Get ready to be surprised about those beliefs.

  6. It seems to me the big PR effort since the 90’s is to position global warming theory as human-caused global warming fact.

    The suggestion before 1995 that AGW was a fact, is belied by the final conclusion of the IPCC’s Working Group that there was no detectable human contribution to the natural fluctuations. Of course, that was edited by Ben Santer to day the opposite.

    The whole argument against “big coal” is a crock. She is just making stuff up.

    • “It seems to me the big PR effort since the 90’s is to position global warming theory as human-caused global warming fact.”

      No doubt about it. They are claiming Exxon *knows* human-caused climate change is fact and are trying to hide that “fact” from the American public.

      The real fact is there is no evidence showing human-caused climate change is happening. That’s all Exxon has said, and the alarmists accuse them of spreading disinformation. It’s only “disinformation”, which is more properly described as “heresy” to True Believers in CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming).

      Someone ought to ask Naomi Oreskes to provide the evidence that causes her to think humans are affecting the Earth’s climate. Could she even make a valid argument? I would say no, she has no evidence with which to make an argument. She assumes. She takes things on faith. She thinks authority is not to be questioned. She doesn’t really have any facts to back up her position that humans are causing the cimate to change, so that must be it.

      Here’s what I would do if I were a Republican congresscritter: I would ask each alarmist to provide in writing, the evidence they use which makes them think humans are causing the Earth’s atmosphere to change. And “in writing” is much better than a few questions in a congressional hearing. Much more detail.

      Wouldn’t that be a treasure trove for the realists at WUWT! I would love to tear into their “evidence” and I know I would have to get into a long line behind a lot of other like-minded people here at WUWT 🙂

      Ms Oreskes, may I ask how you came to these scary conclusions about CO2 and the Earth’s climate?

      My guess as to Naomi’s answer is: The fraudulent Hockey Stick chart; or An Appeal to Authority. What else could she cite? And of course, Naomi is not by herself, because the other alarmists of the world don’t have any more evidence of anything than does Naomi. They are ALL assuming way too much. Their speculation is on shaky ground.

  7. Ok my bad I should have typed that most hated of phrases, ‘Big Oil companies’ instead.

    Which, however, is still an awful lot of investment in green from which they’ll get a hell of a lot of profit from in the future. Profits paid for by subsidies stolen from the tax payer and with the lives of those harmed by not being able to heat their homes adequately!

    Which, and this was my point, is why this “hearing” is a nonsense, why would they be climate sceptics if they are investing in green energy?

    Here in the UK fracking has been vilified so much that the government has pulled the plug, come 2050 our energy mix is supposed to completely come from renewables, an unsustainable mix of mainly wind turbines and solar panels, which is laughable considering we rarely have wind in the winter when more energy is required and rarely have sun in the summer or winter.
    We live a few miles from a power station that used to take coal directly from the mines within the area, the coal has now been left in the ground and replaced by wood pellets shipped over from the USA and Canada, a crazy situation!

    https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/06/04/big-oil-is-investing-billions-in-renewable-energy.aspx

  8. Academics in many fields, often administrating in various places, want to be judge, jury, expert witness, police, managers, but fail to do their history homework. (and their science) One example.

    “GAZETTE: How can science be value free?
    Oreskes: It isn’t! All people have values, and we always will have values….That’s the Frankenstein myth, …” Last paragraph from—
    https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/10/in-why-trust-science-naomi-oreskes-explains-why-the-process-of-proof-is-worth-trusting/

  9. I have little time for Prof. Oreskes, but this article strikes me as much ado about nothing. I suspect that the entire effort to demonize Exxon was consciously contrived, but the article does not really speak to that. If the key points in the article are important, then the article needs to be re-written to make the importance more obvious – than a failure of memory or confusion over similar names. Hopefully Part 2 will be more substantive.

    • If I may suggest it, please re-read my guest post and be sure to click on all my links. The key point overall is that the collective accusation about the fossil fuel industry ‘paying skeptic scientists to lie’ is a total crock with only one set of viable “evidence” to support it, which turns out to be worthless. If Gore-Oreskes-Gelbspan knew this all along, they may have committed one of the biggest acts of libel/slander in history. I detail plenty more of this at my GelbspanFiles.com blog. Yes, I could be a better writer, but nobody disputes the evidence I’ve gathered so far.

  10. From the article: “or ICE, which was formed in 1991 to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact).”

    Global Warming *is* a theory (well, a speculation). Those of us who don’t see any evidence for human-caused global warming don’t need to be repositioned because we are already in the correct position: Skeptical.

    The only people who need “repositioning” are the True Believers who have been fooled into believing in something for which there is no evidence.

  11. Where’s the beef?

    So what if Big Earl has a disinformation campaign? All companies do it. It’s called advertising. That toothpaste in the shiny box is no better than the toothpaste in a plain brown wrapper. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it.

    The Greens lie their heads off. Everything they promote is a big fat lie, and they do it deliberately with absolute intent to defraud. So what?

    Ever since I was a little kid in the 1950’s I realized that advertising was another name for fraud. The toy on TV that seemed like the best thing on Earth turned out to be a boring piece of junk that broke within 5 minutes.

    Later, in my adolescence, I discovered that the government lied about everything. Then I found out that the newspapers lied, too. Lying is 99% of all communication from all sectors. Even my own mother lied to me, which is a long story I won’t bore you with.

    Get a grip, people. The truth is a rare commodity. If we banned all lying nobody would ever say anything to anybody. You just have to plow through the BS in hopes of finding a nugget of truth once in awhile if you’re lucky. That’s life. Live it or live with it.

  12. “That was awkward. She is a historian, […]”

    What people claim to be, and the job titles they hold, isn’t always closely related to what they do or are competent at.

    The more interesting question is why anybody gives her the time of day when she is spouting off on this subject. There is no good reason to believe she has any more specialist knowledge than the man on the street. And she has less common sense and integrity, clearly being motivated by politics, thirst for power/influence/fame, and malice.

    I don’t know if the Star Wars franchise has ever had a female Dark-Lord-of-the-Sith, but she would be a great place for a screen writer to start.

  13. See my WUWT guest thread, “Notes From Skull Island – why climate skeptics aren’t ‘well funded and well organized’”
    If our side were well funded and well organized, as warmists charge, it would have the following 22 characteristics–which it doesn’t.
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/12/16/notes-from-skull-island-why-skeptics-arent-well-funded-and-well-organized/

    PS: Warmist ,groups like Greenpeace misleadingly and knowingly and continually claim that^ $*** million goes to climate change denial groups,^ when only a tenth of that amount gets spent on climate contrarianism. These think tanks etc. are pro-business organizations that spend 90% of their donations on other topics.

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