I’ve posed a tough question to ‘global warming true believers’ for years ….
….. and it always turns out embarrassingly bad for people attempting to answer the question. So, regarding this particular hapless anonymous commenter, let’s peel back the layers and see where the wipeouts occur. But after that exercise, consider this: what happens when this same basic inquiry is put to luminaries such as former Vice President Al Gore, or to “Merchants of Doubt” documentary movie star/book author Naomi Oreskes, or to the plaintiffs in the assortment of global warming lawsuits, all of whom claim the fossil fuel industry hid the harm of its product causing global warming by hiring shill scientists to spread misinformation?
Before I begin, the short backstory to this particular situation: Despite his advanced age, atmospheric physicist Dr S Fred Singer still contributes articles to the American Thinker, and upon seeing these, like his 1/24/19 piece, I usually check to see what kind of critics land in the comment sections. The anonymous user “Derpitudinous Neologism” (likely named to show massive disdain toward morally bankrupt people using crazy new-speak) did not disappoint there, implying Dr Singer was currently “working for a coal industry front group” without supporting that accusation. I very specifically asked the “Derp” at that comment section what evidence existed for it, and both that individual and another person in the menagerie of online comment stalkers who follow me around the internet, could not provide it.
Now, let’s see the ways the answer falls apart.
First, I didn’t simply ask for proof that Dr Singer worked for the fossil fuel industry in any generic capacity, I mimicked that individual’s prior comment while asking very specifically:
Have you the evidence that skeptic climate scientists like Dr Singer are on the payroll of the fossil fuel industry where all in that circle agree on what, when, where, and how to spread disinformation that they all know to be lies?
“Derp,” perhaps feeling the pressure to deliver on that latter part of my question, apparently felt compelled to pretend as though I never asked it. When a person sidesteps particular points of inquiry, it never bolsters their credibility. Meanwhile, “Derp”‘s answer is verbatim below, with original links and typeface emphasis unchanged:
** ”… S. Fred Singer, acknowledged during a 1994 appearance on the television program Nightline that he had received funding from Exxon, Shell, Unocal and ARCO. He did not deny receiving funding on a number of occasions from the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.”
***”… ExxonSecrets reports that the Heartland Institute has received $676,500 from ExxonMobil since 1998. Greenpeace also reports that Heartland received at least $55,000 from Koch Industries. “
Oops. When the only thing accusers have are guilt-by-association talking points and are unaware of how they fall apart under hard scrutiny, this never ends well. “Derp” is apparently unaware that I have already covered this so-called ‘evidence’ in detail.
- Link #1: This one goes to Sheldon Rampton’s “SourceWatch” page on Dr Singer. I’ve already tagged Rampton’s name many times regarding the way his ‘evidence’ for the alleged ‘industry-paid corruption’ of Dr Singer always traces back to Ross Gelbspan. “Derp” simply reinforces this problem. Does Rampton’s page actually detail any evidence proving Dr Singer knowingly pushed disinformation agreed-upon by energy industry people handing him money to spread lies? No, it does not. But the line which “Derp” copied ‘n pasted has a clickable link at its end for its source. What’s that source? Ross Gelbspan’s website page. “Derp”’s mistake here was to reinforce the ‘citation cascade’ problem I detailed in several posts with that tag label, where accusers inexplicably can’t bring themselves to cite the original source for their accusations.
“Derp” wants people to believe Dr Singer works for oil companies, period. But Gelbspan had a killer note about the “funding from Exxon, Shell, Unocal and ARCO” line right after it:
Singer’s defense is that his scientific position on global atmospheric issues predates that funding and has not changed because of it.
Oops. Without evidence that the money bought the viewpoint, there is no corruption. I already covered that crash as well.
What Dr Singer actually ‘confessed to’ is not actually in dispute — watch that exact Nightlife segment here starting at the 14:42 point, and then consider how Dr Singer shot that accusation down right afterward. I’ve already covered the larger problem with the Nightlife interview as it connects to Al Gore here. But who first extracted that “Exxon, Shell, ARCO, Unocal, and Sun” ‘confession’ from Dr Singer? Justin Lancaster, a person with a direct connection to Al Gore. What did the work actually entail? Consulting on oil pricing. The full context is on PDF file page 59 here, and the inquiry subsequently falls apart over what appears to be errant questioning on Lancaster’s part. Point being, the funding is not current, and not a shred of evidence is produced to show Dr Singer knowingly lied in exchange for his ancient history consulting fees.
But this collectively gets one increment worse. It was Lancaster who later told me that Gelbspan had contacted him at a time that turns out to be a year before Gelbspan publicly claimed as the start of his inquisition into the ‘corruption’ of skeptic climate scientists. I covered that hugely troubling problem here. Plus, there’s always more.
- Link #2: This goes to Desmogblog’s page on Dr Singer (the website inspired by and built on Ross Gelbspan’s work, don’t forget). Again, despite a pile of citations, Desmog offers not one bit of evidence proving Dr Singer knowingly lied in exchange for money. However, in a bit of apparent typo clumsiness no doubt intended to skewer Dr Singer’s credibility, the quoted line which “Derp” indicates with triple asterisks as being in Desmog’s Singer page does not appear there.
Oops. Where does the quote actually appear? Desmog’s page on the Heartland Institute. Minus one particular key word. Desmog’s twin sources there? The first is to a now nonfunctioning ExxonSecrets page that’s more recently been changed to this one – devoid of any proof that Heartland associates such as Dr Singer are paid industry money in exchange for lies.
Aside: Greenpeace’s ExxonSecrets page instead inconveniently shows that Exxon’s last donations to Heartland were an amount over a decade ago which pales in comparison to Greenpeace USA’s income during that same year. In a related note, Greenpeace apparently had so much available cash three years later in 2009 that it paid its outgoing Executive Director nearly $20,000 more than Exxon’s 2006 donations to all of Heartland …. for zero hours worked.
The second source for Desmog is a Greenpeace report about Koch Industries (a label undercut by their own report’s text) donations to Heartland, devoid of any smoking gun actual evidence of industry people paying/orchestrating Dr Singer / Heartland to push disinformation. Both Desmog and Greenpeace article fail to mention that the last Koch donation was not earmarked toward Dr Singer / Heartland global warming viewpoints, or that prior Charles Koch Foundation donations occurred more than a decade before Heartland’s work on the global warming issue.
If “Derp” doesn’t read Heartland material, it’s understandable that this person would naively repeat Greenpeace’s accusation, simply because it sounds so believable.
- Link #3: That’s a link to Greenpeace’s ExxonSecrets page for Dr Singer. At this point, it becomes redundant to say the page contains no smoking gun evidence proving skeptics / industrialists conspiracy efforts. Keep in mind, however, that ExxonSecrets creator, Kert Davies, came with with his former Ozone Action co-workers into Greenpeace USA along with John Passacantando, and Ozone Action is where the only ‘evidence’ that truly resembles a smoking gun — the “reposition global warming” / “older, less-educated males” / “younger, lower-income women” strategy / targeting memo phrases — got their first major media traction with Ross Gelbspan. But never forget, those memos are worthless.
- Link #4: Ditto, about the way this lands at Scott Mandia’s blogsite diatribe against Dr Singer, which offers unsupported claims about Dr Singer’s position on other scientific matters while referring to pointless guilt-by-association graphs courtesy of ExxonSecrets. Mandia demands people to disbelieve what Dr Singer says, but he does not actually prove that Dr Singer’s science positions are incorrect, or provide any evidence that Dr Singer ……. well, you get the picture by now.
Ask anonymous online commenters to stand and deliver on evidence proving the energy industry paid shill experts to concoct false assessments which hide their knowledge that fossil fuel burning causes catastrophic man-caused global warming, and this is what you get every time: ‘all-show-and-no-go’ talking points. It’s embarrassing.
Objective, unbiased reporters, energy industry lawyers, and Federal-level investigators need to fully comprehend how this is not the end of the road, it’s only the beginning. These talking points originate from somewhere, and the people who created them need to be held accountable. As I’ve detailed throughout my posts here and my other writings, this issue ultimately boils down to just three talking points: “the science is settled” / “skeptics are industry-corrupted” / “everyone may ignore skeptic material because of points 1 & 2.”
Put a person like “Derp” or Professor Mandia in the hot seat on their accusations, along with plaintiffs in the latest set of global warming lawsuits, and they’ll probably fold like cheap suits, pointing to generic places like Desmogblog or Greenpeace. Put the people at those places, or the people I detailed in my prior post under the bright light of inquiry, and they’ll probably fold and say Naomi Oreskes or Kert Davies told them how ‘leaked memos’ were smoking gun material against skeptic climate scientists. Davies could always blame his old workplace, and Oreskes might only point to Ross Gelbspan’s “Boiling Point” book for her references to the memos. Who might Gelbspan ultimately point to? Al Gore, who said Gelbspan discovered those memos? Gore, though, might point to Oreskes’ worthless AMS Archives source for the memos, but Oreskes could deflect that by pointing to a Senate staffer connected with Gore who told her where those memos, along with newspaper ads and related documents were stashed.
It’s a no-win situation for anyone accusing skeptics of colluding with energy industry executives, with the potential of ending in a circular firing squad. The Greenpeace organization will have to distance itself completely from its “Greenpeace USA née Ozone Action” era, and the legacies of Gore-Gelbspan-Oreskes may go painfully down in flames, but it can be a huge win for non-biased reporters, investigators, the public in general, and for the Truth, when this whole situation is placed under the toughest possible scrutiny.