Naomi Oreskes’ Oops #2 on the “there was no global cooling consensus” Talking Point

Doesn’t matter where you drop into this woman’s narratives about the global warming issue, noting lines up right in them. Nothing.

I wasn’t even looking for this latest faulty narrative, but inadvertently ran into it when I was alerted to an idiotic paper published on Feb 2 in Nature Climate Change magazine (William Briggs labels it “expertocrasy“) which was trying to gaslight the idea that ‘irrational’ criticism of the climate issue stems from how “belief formation process is often guided by the desire to maintain certain convictions or to hold a positive self-view, rather than by a desire for belief accuracy.” When enviro-activists hurl this ridiculous notion at “climate change deniers,” it showcases the anti-science / anti-intellectual psychological projection rationale of enviro-activists, but that’s a whole other topic. (No joke! These are the irrational types who, in response to their ludicrous false premise “why do you deny climate science?” question, openly invite an answer such as, “Before asking me this, you need to explain why you beat your wife, cheat on your taxes, embezzle from your employer, and never leave apology notes on the cars you run into every time you park so ineptly in parking lots.”)

So, whenever I see the kind of ‘scholarly paper’ seen above, my automatic reaction is to drop in names and words from my checklist of prominent people – activists / ‘reporters’ / ExxonKnew lawsuits / alleged ‘scholars’ hurling anything resembling an accusation about ‘climate denial caused by industry-led disinformation campaigns.’

No Ross Gelbspan in the Nature Climate Change paper or his reposition global warming accusation, ditto for ex-Greenpeace associated people, but how about Naomi Oreskes? Bam. Just indirectly, however, in the footnotes section to the unsupportable claim about “Political interest groups opposing climate legislation frequently tried to raise doubt about the scientific consensus.

Speed-read that footnote #28 too quickly – I’ve intentionally blurred bits of it to simulate the effect in my screencapture above – and you only pick up “Oreskes & Conway, Merchants of Doubt 2010” meaning their notorious book that folks such as NY House Rep Alexandria Occasion-Cortez sets Oreskes up to gloat about. But wait — look again. It’s:

Oreskes, N. & Conway, E. M. Defeating the merchants of doubt. Nature 465, 686–687 (2010).

In all these years where I’ve been trying to figure out why Naomi Oreskes is involved in the climate issue, that specific title was new to me. Took me a while to find it, since most every search of the title places the full paper behind a paywall. Not every result, though. Oreskes’ own Harvard resumé spelled out the website address of the full paper. That “full view” link still defaults to a restricted view result. Drop the link into the Internet Archive, and the 2010-2012 results are for Nature‘s previews where the magazine was demanding a payment to show the full paper. But by April 2013, it did not.

That’s where the fun begins for my post here, concerning Oreskes’ ongoing inability to keep any one of her narratives in line with each other. One of the reasons why I look into her earliest efforts surrounding the time her 2010 “Merchants of Doubt” book was published is to see why she inexplicably left her cornerstone ‘evidence’ — the “reposition global warming” memos — out of that book which she had been widely speaking about in her 2007-2008 lecture show circuit presentations under the “You Can Argue With the Facts” banner. Those worthless “reposition global warming” memo items were the feature attraction, where she falsely pinned those never-implemented memos to the Western Fuels Association. Years ago, I spotted her one bit about wanting to mention those memos back in 2010 in conjunction with her hype about her then-new book.

Would this other bit of hype in Nature Climate Change be a place where she could not keep her mouth shut about those memos? ‘Fraid not. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an opportunity to keep quiet about another detail which undermines her credibility. In my December 30, 2021 blog post, I showed how Oreskes’ obscure 2004 presentation (before she made her big publicity splash in the climate issue) undercut a widespread talking point – “It’s a myth! Disinformation about just one single 1975 Newsweek article! It never happened!!” – about global cooling concerns in the 1970s. But in ’04, Oreskes said outright,

…one aspect of the debate not often noted by climate contrarians, but which they might exploit if they thought about it, is that not very long ago most earth scientists … believed that Earth was cooling.

She said – unequivocally – it was the dominant view into the early ’70s. Period. How ’bout, say, in 1975?

In the mid to late 1970s, some earth scientists began to assert that Earth was warming.

See that? It kills the idea that #ExxonKnew with absolute certainty that use of their products caused harmful global warming. She confirmed they didn’t know.

But what did she say six years later in her 2010 “Defeating the merchants of doubt” paper?

History also refutes the often-quoted canard that scientists previously had a consensus that the world was cooling. Those who make this claim usually point to a one-page piece published in the American magazine Newsweek in 1975, that spelled out scientific concerns over a mid-century Northern-Hemisphere cooling trend. However, not only was there no consensus at that time that the world was cooling, but the bulk of the published peer-reviewed literature argued for anthropogenic warming.

She can’t have it both ways.

Back when I first started writing about the smear of skeptic climate scientists and who originated it, Ron Arnold (the late Washington Examiner columnist / “Undue Influence” book author) advised me to focus less on Ross Gelbspan and more on Naomi Oreskes. Sage advice. This was long before Oreskes became a star witness in Congressional hearings – House and Senate – and before she started filing her Friends of the Court briefs, plural, for the plaintiffs in ExxonKnew lawsuits (where she clearly demonstrates her enslavement to a demonstratively false claim about the “reposition global warming” memos), and long before going on retainer with one of the law firms filing those lawsuits.

This is the same Naomi Oreskes who, one week ago, co-authored a paper pontificating on — of all ironic directions to choose from — “Misinformation poses a bigger threat to democracy than you might think.” Who’s the actual threat in this issue? Her side is, pointing an arrow the size of Texas inadvertently at themselves with this sort of ‘advisory’ declaration that’s hardly more than psychological projection on where the genuine disinformation in this issue needs to be quashed:

Several mechanisms to protect the public against misinformation exist — from general educational interventions to specific attempts to counter misleading messages with evidence-based campaigns. But the deployment of these mechanisms requires the resolution of three issues by scholars and practitioners: recognition of the seriousness of the problem; acceptance that classifying information as false or misleading is often warranted; and an assurance that interventions against misinformation uphold democratic principles, including freedom of expression.

As misinformation researchers …..

Right. Who is one of her other co-author ‘researchers’ in that week-old paper?

Ron Arnold was able to corroborate for me via his “Naomi Oreskes Warps History” analysis that her beloved “reposition global warming” memo was from a proposal that was rejected outright by the PR group it was sent to and never implemented in any manner anywhere by anyone, along with confirming that her claim about how this set was kept in the American Meteorological Society’s Washington D.C. archives was – as he politely put it – “disputed.” Less politely worded – outright disinformation.

Notice, however, the image that accompanied Oreskes et al.’s pontification about upholding democracy: the Jan 6th U.S. Capitol situation – she’d call it an insurrection. What’s the message behind that image? Dare to question the U.S. 2020 presidential election – plenty of concerns about it remain unanswered – and you will be deemed a threat to democracy and arrested by the Department of Justice’s FBI and jailed.

Don’t Question Thy Oreskes. Or Else.

If I may offer my own advice, sage or at least minimally “just sayin’,” to congressional investigators / attorneys defending energy companies in “ExxonKnew” lawsuits / objective, unbiased reporters — the most elemental question needs to be asked about Naomi Oreskes: why exactly do her narratives not line up right? Her narratives about her discovery of ‘climate doubt merchants’ don’t, her descriptions of role in the climate issue don’t.

She’s a professor of history. So, why does she have every appearance in 2010 of rewriting history about the irrefutably provable existence of the global cooling craze?