Naomi Oreskes’ Problems, pt 2

A brief set of questions and answers illustrates how any sort of examination of the ‘skeptic climate scientists are industry-corrupted’ accusation doesn’t reveal a nice, tidy, open-and-shut case against such skeptics, all that’s seen is something begging for a deeper investigation of why the accusation exists at all.

In his 2012 “The Machinery of Climate Anti-Science” Youtube presentation at the 11:07 point, John Mashey mentions how he learned about Naomi Oreskes in 2007 via a talk she gave, and how her work was subsequently ‘attacked’, and at the 11:46 point he says, “In the meantime of helping Naomi defend herself, she introduced me to the Desmogblog folks who are based in Vancouver, and they have ended up helping me publish a bunch of reports on some of this.”

What is Desmogblog? They are a Canadian PR organization supposedly “Clearing the PR Pollution That Clouds Climate Science”, but as I have said elsewhere at this blog, Ross Gelbspan states just 8 seconds into this audio interview that he founded Desmog. The head of the organization does little more than repeat Gelbspan’s ‘corrupt skeptic climate scientists’ accusation in error prone fashion, and Gelbspan was a frequent blogger at Desmog for nearly five years.

Who is John Mashey? Not only does Desmog help him publish reports, they give him a platform at their place. His ‘denier funding’ reports in particular are tedious to look through, and despite all the work he puts into them, they only paint a foggy guilt-by-association picture of skeptic funding and never provide evidence than any amount, large or small, was accompanied by an industry directive to misinform the public and/or fabricate false science reports. However, the above-linked report was something the PBS Frontline “Climate of Doubt” people apparently relied on for their hit piece against skeptic climate scientists, and Mashey states they had it and discussed it with him during the assembling of that program months prior to his first publication of it.

What was the “Climate of Doubt” program? It was an October 2012 public TV program that simply could not expand out of the 3-point mantra that the man-caused global warming issue always boils down to: “the science is settled” / “skeptics are industry-corrupted” / “reporters may ignore skeptic material because of points 1 & 2”. More egregious, the people associated with “Climate of Doubt” could not be bothered to answer tough questions about it, and had to be prompted by others just to permit critical comments about the program to appear at their web site’s comment page.

What is Frontline? It’s an otherwise quite good US news exposé public broadcasting series that has inexplicably biased reports about the global warming issue. The above “Climate of Doubt” program qualifies as such with its blatant insinuation about skeptics corrupted by illicit money, as does its prior 2008 program “Heat”, in which only unidentified skeptic scientists were shown while the narrator saidNot only have big oil companies not invested much in renewables, but for years they were among the largest contributors to so-called climate change denier groups, groups like the Heartland Institute, the organizer of this 2008 convention.” Its supplemental online interview of the late IPCC scientist Dr Stephen Schneider quoted his opinion about the Global Climate Coalition as being “a coalition of liars and spin doctors to reposition the debate onto the issue of uncertainty, way beyond [what] the scientific community agreed with” (he probably meant to say it was the Western Fuels Association, out to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact”, an error I note at item 17 here). Last but not least, there was Frontline’s 2007 “Hot Politics” program, in which Ross Gelbspan appeared, followed with an assertion that skeptic climate scientists ‘attack science’ under the same playbook as the old tobacco industry.

  • Wait – that tobacco parallel is what Naomi Oreskes mentions no later than page 6 in her “Merchants of Doubt” book.
  • … the same parallel Dr Schneider mentioned back in 1992.
  • … the same Dr Schneider who appeared as a primary Discussant with Oreskes at this 2010 AAAS symposium, of which John Mashey says he “had a great lunch with him and the other speakers.”
  • … the same John Mashey who speaks of bad journalism / fake balance at the 10:56 point of his Youtube presentation.
  • … the same unnecessary (a.k.a. fake) balance for the global warming issue noted at this PBS Teachers internet curriculum page (full text here) where they cite Oreskes in a not-too-subtle effort to indoctrinate educators about just one side of the issue
  • … the same “unfair media balance for skeptic climate scientists” that Dr Schneider seemingly coined in the 1980s.
  • … an “unfair media balance” problem that demonstrably does not exist.

On and on. Widen out the cast of characters and it never improves, it still involves the same set of simplistic unsupportable talking points surrounding an accusation having not a shred of evidence to back it up, which itself serves merely to distract the public from noticing that the notion of man-caused catastrophic global warming struggles to stand on its basic merits in the face of withering science-based criticisms.

Naomi Oreskes’ Problems, pt 1