The “tobacco angle” being the notion that the fossil fuel industry allegedly fully knows their products cause catastrophic global warming harm in a manner no different that the tobacco industry knowing full well about the cancer-causing harm of cigarette smoking, and how both industries are accused of creating disinformation campaigns to deceive the public about the harm of their products. Within the global warming disinformation accusation is the claim that some of the same people supposedly spewing climate disinformation also did so for the tobacco industry. “Merchants of Doubt” book author / documentary movie star Naomi Oreskes gained heroic – no, make that “supernova” / “living legend” – status from revealing this claim to the world, partly praised on that latter accolade by no less than the person she credits with being the first to steer her toward that ‘tobacco industry connection,’ Lawrence Livermore atmospheric scientist Ben Santer.
Examine Oreskes’ particular narrative about …
1) being personally attacked after she wrote a paper about the scientific consensus for man-caused global warming; 2) advised to talk to Ben Santer, a victim of a similar attack; and 3) how Santer “started telling this whole story about how he had been attacked by Fred Seitz and how it was just like the tobacco industry…”
…. at a superficial level, and sounds quite plausible. Go deeper on that last bit, and various problems start to arise. Continue reading
I’ve said it before elsewhere, it bears repeating here: I’m jealous how the collective 30 years of the global warming issue still boils down to the simplest set of talking points: “settled science” / “industry-paid shill skeptic scientists” / “reporters, policymakers, and basically everybody may ignore those skeptics because of points 1 & 2.” Meanwhile, in order to provide bulletproof evidence that the central talking point implodes under hard, impartial scrutiny, it takes me multi-thousands of words to detail how each angle of that central point falls apart, including details within the narratives of the core promulgators of that central talking point.
“Merchants of Doubt” book author / documentary movie star Naomi Oreskes is one of those central promulgators, a heroine receiving massive praise for exposing ‘liars-for-hire’ skeptic climate scientists, after having it
revealed to her by Erik Conway (…. oh, wait, that’s a different / a different / a different story) revealed to her by Ben Santer that people attacking her for her paper on 100% settled global warming science consensus were the same people who attacked him (as opposed to her different story of her attacker being the same person who ‘attacked’ chemistry scientist Sherwood Rowland).
As it concerns her ‘Santer story versions,’ Oreskes arguably would never have seen her new career path of exposing who those “merchants of climate doubt’ were without being first advised to talk to Dr Santer. However, what she says about that specific situation aren’t clear-cut narratives, the problems within them prompt more questions about them than answers regarding the skeptic climate scientists’ so-called ‘corruption.’ Continue reading
To briefly recap the salient points of Naomi Oreskes’ tale of how Dr Ben Santer (as opposed to Erik Conway) was the catalyst leading her to expose skeptic climate scientists as ‘corporate-paid/corrupted merchants of doubt’: she innocently wrote a paper published in Science; she was personally attacked for exposing the truth of a ‘science consensus’ on man-caused global warming; her colleagues suggested she speak to Ben Santer who’d been similarly attacked while doing innocent science work; and she soon learned their mutual attackers were shills of the fossil fuel industry, and her exposé of this propelled her into heroic status.
Part of that tale hinges on Dr Santer, an atmospheric scientist, being supposedly attacked by greedy corporate interests and their shills for simply doing the right thing of altering the text of a finalized, approved chapter within the IPCC’s 1995 report so that it reflected what everyone already agreed upon.
Wait … what? That enigma situation right there with Dr Santer really looks hardly different from the fictional one seen famously in the Tom Cruise / Jack Nicholson movie, A Few Good Men: “If you gave an order that Santiago wasn’t to be touched, and your orders are always followed, then why would he be in danger, why would it be necessary to transfer him off the base?” Continue reading
When a person claims to have been innocently speaking on a specific topic, only to be horrified by sudden, personal, vicious attacks over it, to the point of becoming sick, then learns soon afterward how this isn’t a unique situation but is instead part of a larger orchestrated plot run by sinister forces to attack other scientists the same way, the person takes on a heroic status by exposing the organizations and actors behind the attacks.
What happens when there were no personal attacks in the supposedly comparable situation, though, and most of what this person says about the tangential details of the comparison is strangely inconsistent? Continue reading
Near the middle of my June 17, 2020 Part 1 blog post about the Oreskes / Santer problem, I showed a screencapture of Ross Gelbspan’s connection with the tale concerning atmospheric scientist Ben Santer’s questionable alterations of an IPCC report, and then showed featured another screencapture of a different tale in a major in a major national magazine article which had Gelbspan’s favorite ‘leaked memos’ accusation separated only sentences away from the ‘Santer attack.’
That wasn’t the only major article written at that time in that particular manner. Continue reading
Naomi Oreskes seems to increasingly take on the appearance of the kind of braggadocio we encounter in grade school or high school, where everyone who socializes with this person is awed by their really impressive-sounding feats for the first several times …. until finally somebody exclaims, “wait a minute, that isn’t what you told us last time,” which then prompts someone else to say, “that’s right, plus that other claim you made earlier isn’t the same as what you said just now.”
In one of her barely weeks-old retellings of her tale about what brought her into the global warming issue, she made her problem incrementally worse. Continue reading
What’s particularly maddening about this problem is the simplicity of its flip side, a crystal-clear snapshot of the way Naomi Oreskes, with her Merchants of Doubt co-author Erik Conway, supposedly exposed how public confusion over climate science results from organized campaigns designed to create confusion and delay political action, a tactic previously employed in efforts to deny the reality of acid rain, ozone depletion, and the link between tobacco and cancer, tactics now used in some cases by the same people who deny the reality of global warming. But in my November 18, 2017 blog post, I used Conway’s own words to show how the timeline of Oreskes’ so-called discovery of her ‘tobacco industry-connected’ critics fell apart, and the problems don’t stop there. Conway’s account of his collaboration with Oreskes on this ‘tobacco industry-connected climate scientists’ matter doesn’t offer a clearer picture of why atmospheric physicist Dr S Fred Singer was seemingly “the most dangerous man on the planet”, it begs for deeper investigation of why and how this portrayal of him coalesced in the first place. Continue reading
In telling the tale of inadvertently discovering how skeptic climate scientists are corrupted, a person might be viewed as a hero or heroine, and it is understandably forgivable if the hero/heroine has a memory lapse about exactly when this event happened, or about minor narrative details surrounding it. But when the tale takes on an increasing appearance of being a fabrication designed to make the person look like a hero/heroine, unbiased objective thinkers will start to wonder why there would be any necessity for that kind of embellishment, and they might also wonder if there is something inherently wrong with the core of the tale. Continue reading
I’ll repeat with what I concluded in Part 1, but more succinctly: for an authoritative storyteller to mesmerize an audience, the story must never contain an element where the audience blurts out, “wait a minute, what you just said can’t be right,” otherwise whatever point there was to the story disappears at the exact same moment when the storyteller’s credibility implodes. Now, see how Harvard History of Science professor Naomi Oreskes’ inadvertently elicits that exact response from her audience, via her tale of the events which led her to explore the notion that skeptic climate scientists operate in a manner parallel to what ‘expert shills’ did for the tobacco industry. Continue reading