Piling on – Naomi Oreskes knew who her attackers were before her attackers attacked?

The woman has every appearance of being unable to keep her stories straight on what led her to ‘discover’ who the ‘merchants of doubt’ were in the global warming issue.

This is an interim post between my Parts 1 and 2 of my line-by-climate-issue-line analysis of Naomi Oreskes’ 2015 “Merchants of Doubt” documentary movie. I need to detail what she said in a 2011 podcast interview here before continuing on to Part 2, because what she said below contradicts a key detail she unequivocally stated in her movie.

I’ve detailed it twice before, here and here, concerning Naomi Oreskes’ narratives of how her future book co-author Erik Conway would have needed to use a time machine to travel back in time either five months or fifteen months in order to alert her to who the attacker was going to be against her December 2004 publication of her study proving a 100% science consensus existed on the notion of catastrophic man-caused global warming. She knew nothing about the ‘attacker’ of her Science study, it was that revelation from Conway that opened her eyes to an angle she was not aware of in the climate issue. But because of the fatal time travel fault within her narrative, it is clearly a credibility buster for her.

The interview below was a Seattle Community Media (SCM) podcast in August 2011, not much over a year after her “Merchants of Doubt” book was published. What she says here only erodes her credibility even further:

The SCM host begins at the 60 second point by asking Oreskes,

… tell us what was your motivation in writing your book Merchants of Doubt?

Oreskes: Well, it wasn’t so much motivation, t’s kind of getting drawn into it. Erik and I fell upon this story by accident. I’m a historian of science, I was working on the history of Oceanography and through my work on oceanography I had come to learn about the work of oceanographers like Robert Roger Revelle and Dave Keeling, who in the 1950s had first begun to do serious research related to the question of climate change caused by greenhouse gases. And meanwhile, Erik Conway is a historian of science as well, who was working on history of atmospheric science. He had been writing a book on the history of atmospheric science research at NASA, and so had come across a lot of the research related to the ozone hole, and more or less independently we had discovered that the same people who were challenging the scientific evidence of climate change had also challenged the scientific evidence of the ozone hole, so Erik and I met at a conference, we started talking and we thought, ‘well that’s a little weird, why would the same people be challenging the data on both of these issues?’, so we started digging a little deeper and found, well, it wasn’t just global warming the ozone hole they had actually challenged the scientific evidence related to acid rain as well a nuclear winter and then we dug a little deeper and we found that in fact they had challenged the scientific evidence related to the harms of tobacco and in fact worked with the tobacco industry. And at that point, Erik and I looked at each other, and we thought, “we have to tell this story.”

What’s missing from this narrative variant? No mention whatsoever that she first wrote a controversial study on science consensus which resulted in any attack on her. Notice what is there, that she met Eric Conway at a conference. It’s the Weilheim Germany conference she mentions so often in her other variants about being alerted by Conway about who the attackersingular – of her December 2004 consensus study. The July 2004 Weilheim Germany conference.

Who’s the “they” in the above SCM podcast interview? One single person, the late Dr S Fred Singer, already nationally famous back in 1993 as the man who needed to be stopped on the ozone depletion issue, because if he wasn’t, he’d be even harder to stop in the next looming environmental crisis, global warming. As I showed in my June 26, 2021 blog post concerning an interview Oreskes had with Paul Thacker of the “Disinformation Chronicle” website, Oreskes claimed she did not know who Dr Singer was until Dr Singer complained directly to her about her op-ed in the Washington Post on ‘climate change consensus.’ Her late December 2004 op-ed, which – unless he had the available time between Christmas and New Year’s eve – he would not have spoken to her until some time into January 2005, at the earliest. After that, according to the DiChron interview, she met Erik Conway at an obscure conference, she brought up Dr Singer’s name, and was then surprised to discover Dr Singer had criticized the ozone depletion work of Dr Sherwood Rowland. What I didn’t cover in my June 26, 2021 blog post was this additional exchange between interviewer Thacker and Oreskes, where Dr Singer had minimally been famous enough to catch Thacker’s attention regarding secondhand cigarette smoke:

DiChron’s Thacker: I want to start when I first met you, around 2004, 2005. I had all these tobacco documents that I was going through and trying to figure out what to write. I was sending lots of emails to tons of people, because I didn’t understand what was happening. …

I was starting to notice that pretty much everyone at that time saying that climate change wasn’t real was saying ten years earlier that second hand smoke wasn’t bad for you.

Oreskes: Yes.

DiChron: Someone put us in contact. We had a brief telephone conversation, and I remember very clearly hanging up the phone and thinking, “What is going on in my life? I’m a science writer. I talk to scientists. Why am I talking to a historian?” It was such an odd moment …

Dr Singer said no such thing about secondhand smoke not being harmful. Quite the opposite, in fact. More than once.

The question arising out of that Thacker DiChron interview: Beyond her apparently solitary October 2003 LA Times article on mitigating the effects of global warming, Naomi Oreskes had no readily obvious public presence on the issue. So why would Thacker be put in touch with her in 2004, when her next bigger claim to fame would not be seen until December of that year? If Thacker was not put in touch with her until 2005, when all she was known for at that time was a tally of pro- / con- global warming journal papers, why even mention the totally unrelated cigarettes issue … unless it was he who alerted Oreskes to who the big critic was of her tally?

None of this lines up right.

I respectfully suggest that one question which congressional investigators / attorneys defending energy companies in “ExxonKnew” lawsuits / objective, unbiased reporters might pose is an elemental one: from the admission in the above 2011 podcast interview, did she already know who Dr Singer was by July 2004 – if not significantly earlier – long before he offered a word of criticism about her December 2004 100% science consensus study? And from this interview in contrast to all her other narratives — what explanation does she have for them being utterly inconsistent on how she became involved in the climate issue?