Trust the New York Times; Source says Skeptic Climate Scientists are Crooks (ignore NYT’s burden-of-proof wipeout)

While attending the 10th International Conference on Climate Change in Washington D.C. late last week, Dr S. Fred Singer asked me to send him material he could forward to New York Times reporter Justin Gillis, in response to Gillis contacting him about an article he was writing on Naomi Oreskes, ‘star’ of the “Merchants of Doubt” documentary movie. Dr Singer was not only aware of my recent prominent review of the movie, I was one of the names seen in the leaked October 2014 email chain in which Dr Singer pondered suing Oreskes. Dr Singer values my work work because I do what reporters such as Justin Gillis do not do.

Although I immediately sent an email to Dr Singer upon returning home, Gillis apparently already gleaned what he wanted from Dr Singer for his 6/15/15 article, “Naomi Oreskes, a Lightning Rod in a Changing Climate”, which was material to skewer Dr Singer while portraying Oreskes as something she is not, an independent ‘discoverer of corrupt skeptic climate scientists.’

First, Gillis’ errant description about Oreskes’ so-called discovery:

Dr. Oreskes’s approach has been to dig deeply into the history of climate change denial, documenting its links to other episodes in which critics challenged a developing scientific consensus.

Her core discovery, made with a co-author, Erik M. Conway, was twofold. They reported that dubious tactics had been used over decades to cast doubt on scientific findings relating to subjects like acid rain, the ozone shield, tobacco smoke and climate change ….

If Gillis had either read the material I sent to Dr Singer, or if he had simply undertaken basic due diligence on the claims about Oreskes, he would have seen that she is little more than a johnny-come-lately on talking point insinuations about skeptic climate scientists being no more than people who operate, as Gillis describes one paragraph later, under “methods that were honed by the tobacco industry in the 1960s and have since been employed to cast doubt on just about any science being cited to support new government regulations.”

As I’ve described at length in my blog posts about this baseless accusation:

Repeating the words from that last blog post from Dr Singer circa a 1994 Washington Post article (archived ironically in, of all places, the organization I term “Greenpeace USA née Ozone Action”):

It is interesting to watch the proponents of the ozone-CFC theory squirm when under scientific attack. They resort to evasion, double-talk and often outright prevarication. ….

Unfortunately, this lesson from CFC-ozone policy has not been learned by our public officials. They prefer to believe the myth of a “scientific consensus” and seem eager to repeat the same mistakes for the global warming issue where the potential for damage by ill-advised and hasty policies is so much higher.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Justin Gillis to divulge any of that to his NYT readers or who the real lightning rod is in the global warming issue, Dr S. Fred Singer.

Toward the end of his article, Gillis skewers Dr Singer this way, on Singer’s effort late last year to find out if he could take any action against Oreskes’ movie (web link identical to what is in Gillis’ NYT article):

In the leaked emails, Dr. Singer told a group of his fellow climate change denialists that he felt that Dr. Oreskes and Dr. Conway had libeled him. But in an interview, when pressed for specific errors in the book that might constitute libel, he listed none. Nor did he provide such a list in response to a follow-up email request.

What organization did Gillis link to for the ‘leaked emails’? Desmogblog, the organization Ross Gelbspan says he helped to found (8 seconds into this audio interview), the same organization that co-founder James Hoggan says was built around the works of Ross Gelbspan, in particular, his “smoking gun evidence” that skeptic climate scientists and fossil fuel industry officials were conspiring to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact.” For all her efforts to push that accusation, who does Oreskes cite as the source of it? Ross Gelbspan.

Has anyone, from Al Gore to Naomi Oreskes, the New York Times, James Hoggan, or Ross Gelbspan ever provided anything beyond pure guilt-by-association accusations, have they ever provided a scintilla of evidence proving people such as Dr Singer operated under any kind of pay-for-performance situation, in which instructions were given to lie to the public and to knowingly fabricate reports everyone knew were false?

No, they haven’t. The idea that the New York Times seems to totally miss here is something I was told by a prosecuting attorney during my brief jury duty service just a day ago, that the accused is innocent until proven guilty beyond a shadow of a** reasonable doubt, that the accused need not respond to the accusations to remain innocent, and that it is entirely upon the accuser to meet the burden of proof in the accusation. Not only is this the way the US law works, it is plain common sense.

After nearly two decades of a constant barrage of accusations that skeptic climate scientists are paid industry money to lie, the best the New York Times can come up with is “trust us, our source has third-hand hearsay evidence which we won’t question in any manner.” Elaborating on what I tweeted to Justin Gillis and another reporter after their hit pieces against Dr Willie Soon in February, there is no Pulitzer Prize to be won from repeating worn-out talking point accusations, but a Pulitzer could be won if reporters turned the tables on the people who created the accusations.


** [6/18/15 Author’s edit: More than one commenter at the reproduction of this blog post at WUWT have pointed out my legal standard error, but the 800lb-gorilla-in-the-room remains, that no accuser has provided the public with enough evidence to even mildly overcome doubt about the truthfulness of skeptics being ‘paid industry money to lie.’