Even though this series of blog posts concerns a prominent complaint filed in 2007 against the UK Channel Four Television Corporation video “The Great Global Warming Swindle,” my objective is to show how a thorough analysis of any given accusation about skeptic climate scientists being ‘paid industry money to lie’ shatters the accusation to bits no matter where the hammer strikes. Meaning, current efforts to use racketeering laws as a means to prosecute “climate change deniers.”
Today, an examination of a single-sentence claim within the complaint about fabricated names in the Oregon Petition Project (a claim widely repeated to this day, including a minor ‘supporting actor role’ in Naomi Oreskes’ documentary movie). The sentence should be devastating proof of how the petition is discredited ……….. after all, how could a person go wrong with a statement as definitive as this?
…its vetting was so lax that it included fictional signatories such as Star Wars characters and a member of the Spice Girls [Lahsen 2005 (http://tinyurl.com/ytavvm)].
But look far more carefully into this, and the widening situation around it leads to a maddeningly tangled source situation that ultimately does nothing to alleviate the problem of the smear of skeptic climate scientists – including efforts to discredit the Oregon Petition – appearing to be intertwined with a small clique of enviro-activists who have barely any separation from Ross Gelbspan.
I already knew of the accusation that fictional names were said to be in the Oregon Petition, when I detailed the wipeout within the claim in my October 4, 2010 American Thinker piece, by pointing to a much-lesser-seen longer version of a 1998 Seattle Times article and its shorter version (side-by-side screencapture here for quick reference). Wikipedia’s entry for the Oregon Petition still has the shorter version of the Seattle Times article to this day — hold that thought for a few moments — but readers aren’t led to it straightaway.
Enviro-activists who are easily satisfied with superficial Wikipedia material are no doubt pleased to see within just the first six sentences how the Oregon Petition is tainted beyond hope by the presence of a “Spice Girl” pop music celebrity name, and that this revelation comes from no less than IPCC scientist Dr Michael Mann’s book.
No need to question such a person of his stature. Except …. there is a need, because what he cites is actually a sidebar within a magazine article that isn’t easily found. When it is seen at the Internet Archive site, the sidebar is of no direct help about the “Spice Girl” detail because it says nothing about fictional names; the only item that could steer readers toward that detail is a dead PRWatch site link. The PRWatch link does work when placed at the Internet Archive, but offers no source for its claim about fictional names – which are eerily similar to the list seen at the longer version of the Seattle Times article.
Tortured as that source citation is, the citation of the shorter version of the Seattle Times article further down in Wikipedia’s Oregon Petition page doesn’t help matters either. It is only used as a source for the M*A*S*H TV show names, the Lahsen source is only used for the Star Wars names, while the Spice Girl name goes unsourced.
Asides: 1) Right above this latter mess are the names George Woodwell and President Obama’s science advisor John Holdren, the pair I detailed in my November 2011 American Thinker piece, who apparently had a troubling association with the old Ozone Action environmentalist group.
2) Watch this: Wikipedia’s line about “A cursory examination by Todd Shelly of the Hawaii Reporter” goes to an apparently dead 2005 article. But knowing what the original web address was, I can show the complete article attributed to Shelly via the Internet Archive site, and how it also has a line unequivocally saying,
The name B.J. Honeycutt does not appear in the list of signatures of the Oregon petition.
Notice how neither Wikipedia’s citation of the “unabridged” version of the Seattle Times article nor the original long version specifically say “B.J. Honeycutt”, but just “Honeycutt” – a problem I pointed out in my 2010 AmericanThinker piece. What can a person find for the name “Honeycutt” in the oldest available “H section” in the Oregon Petition? “Baxter D Honeycutt, John Honeycutt, PhD.”
Meanwhile, the screencapture of John Passacantando’s old Ozone Action page shows how it only says “Honeycutt”, but there is no missing the complete TV character’s name in Greenpeace’s archive scan of Passacantando’s letter to the New York Times. The same Passacantando quoted in the long version of the Seattle Times article, who later merged Ozone Action into Greenpeace while taking over as the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA.
A reasonable argument could be made that the Seattle Times article author’s source was Ozone Action. But does the Myanna Lahsen 2005 citation offer any clues? Yes, although not in ways bolstering the claim about fictional names in the Oregon Petition.
“Lahsen 2005” refers to her 33 page “Technocracy, Democracy, and U.S. Climate Politics” paper. Readers have to plow halfway through it before finding the “Spice Girl” reference along with an assertion that critics of the Oregon Petition “had added bogus names.” Who was Lahsen’s source for this? The Washington Post’s 1998 piece titled “Before Fame, They Were Petition Girls”. Who was WashPo’s source? Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio):
There was one name, though, that caught Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich’s eye. He noted the petition was signed by a Dr. Jeri Halliwel …
Kucinich said later he was still checking for Posh, Baby and Scary and was “heartened to see their involvement.” ….
Actually, the Geri Halliwell name, along with people from “Star Wars” and other bogus names, was sent in by enviros checking to see how well the list had been vetted.
Not disclosed by the WashPo reporter is how it was known that ‘enviros sent in bogus names.’ But what do we see in a Greenpeace scan (page 7 here) of an April 24, 1998 Washington Times letter-to-the-editor?
When I looked over the list, I did recognize one name: Geri Halliwell, a k a Ginger Spice of the Spice Girls …
Brandon MacGillis, Director of campaigns, Ozone Action
Fascinating how similar those two narratives are when it comes to someone saying they spotted a “Spice Girl” name. But among uncounted numbers of places where the “Oregon Petition / Spice Girls” narrative is seen, the only direct source for names other than “Ginger Spice” is a US Congressman who was – for some unknown reason – glad to see the ‘involvement of the other band members’ in the petition. Everybody else offers an indirect source, often not worded much different than words out of Wikipedia, when they offer any source at all.
On top of all that, there is an additional wrinkle to the way in which the narrative first appeared at Wikipedia. The part within the current Oregon Petition page about fictional names, with a much more simplified solitary Seattle Times source, (screencapture here) was first placed there on March 31, 2007 — only three weeks and a day after “The Great Global Warming Swindle” was broadcast. To be more specific, it was placed there at 13:45 on 3/31/07. But look what is seen in Wikipedia’s history page for the edit just one minute and 35 seconds earlier, at the 12:50 point: Myanna Lahsen’s paper as the sole source for fictional names in the petition (screencapture here).
Go to any previous version of the entry, and no mention whatsoever is made about fictional names. It can additionally be said that the first trio of entries at Wikipedia for the Oregon Petition, here, here and here, were quite dry. The fourth, when seen in a side-by-side comparison with the third, has obvious, though somewhat mild, efforts to cast doubt about the credibility of the petition, with what seems to be a threat to be more harsh. Who put that there? William Connolley.
Considering the timing of when the “Lahsen 2005” citation appears at both Wikipedia and in Dave Rado’s complaint to Ofcom, it may be worthwhile for reporters or investigators to ask how Rado and Wikipedia people became aware of such an obscure citation. But I’ll close out here with how I came to learn of Dave Rado’s 2007 complaint to Ofcom in the first place, as a segue into the last analysis post in this series.
While I was aware of myriad problems with the ‘fictional names’ narrative in 2010, I was not aware of the Ofcom complaint until skeptic climate scientist Dr S. Fred Singer had emailed the producer of “The Great Global Warming Swindle” in February 2011 (cc’ing my email address among several others, since he was well aware of my work). Dr Singer described how he’d found highly critical material about him in the complaint, and asked Durkin “To whom do I complain? And how?” Within mere minutes of looking through the complaint, I spotted connections to what I would term the origins of the “Ross Gelbspan / Ozone Action” smear of skeptic climate scientists, and later, I recognized Rado’s accusation about fictional names in the Oregon Petition. But the “Lahsen 2005” source name was new to me.
Long story very short, I dug into who Ms Lahsen was, and ended up with a section in my notes file that’s now around 3000 words long. Turns out she had a direct connection to Ross Gelbspan among other appearance problems.
Up next: “The Connolley Problem, pt 7: Cancerous Greenpeace / Desmogblog / Gelbspan Stuff“