Willie Soon

Willie Soon And Friends In The Early Days Before Climate Science Denial

Willie Soon is gathering with his Heartland Institute friends this week in Washington, DC for their latest Denial-a-Palooza stunt designed to mimic a science conference.

Willie Soon A Heartland Institute Star Since 2003: Was He Paid? If So, When And With Whose Money?

Willie Soon has gained a global spotlight from many recent news articles (New York Times, Boston Globe, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, etc).  This was lit by documents obtained from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), whose former director had said of Soon that “no one pays any attention to him.”  An impassioned defense was published, not by the CfA, but by the Heartland Institute, for whom he seems vastly more important, a tireless star.  Heartland has even purchased Google AdWords, so the first hit for Willie Soon is this:

Heartland buys Google AdWords for Willie Soon

Soon's frequent efforts for Heartland started no later than 2003.  They raise questions about potential unreported Conflict of Interest  even if unpaid. But did Heartland pay him? If so, how much, when, for what and with whose money? Heartland is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) “public charity” whose climate anti-science tactics were preceded by a long history of paid efforts for tobacco companies, as per Fakery 2: More Funny Finances, Free Of Tax.

Readers unfamiliar wiith Soon might start with DeSmogBlog's profile. and follow by reading  story of a personal encounter. The history and other details motivate some questions, summarized next, then explained in detail.

Willie Soon's Climate Science Denial Wasn't Ever Credible: Climate Scientists

Willie Soon climate science denial

“The science that Willie Soon does is almost pointless.” - NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, to the New York Times

Recent revelations regarding Smithsonian scientist Willie Soon's financing and coordination with fossil fuel companies for studies undermining the science of climate change has received quite a bit of attention. Our friends at the Climate Investigations Center have links to source documents, letters to the IRS and Congress, letters to journals that Soon appears to have mislead, and some of the press covering all of this.

The drama has largely outshone the main point among most scientists: Willie Soon's work is vastly discredited. For those who aren't familiar with Willie Soon's fossil fuel company contracting over the last fifteen years, there is probably a legitimate question of whether or not this guy deserves to be in his current pinch.

Frankly, he had it coming.

Scientists and science reporters have often had to waste their time addressing the interference of Soon and his cohorts, who take advantage of the public's general unfamiliarity with scientific nuance. 

But scientists too are talking about Dr. Soon's work and what it means for the troubled peer-review process that the most stringent journals usually adhere to. Here is a summary of some of the most interesting conversations in science publications about Willie Soon's #Fakexpert scandal.

Anti-Science Associations: Rand Paul, Jane Orient, Art Robinson, Willie Soon And Friends

Anti-science and strange associations

In “Rand Paul Is Linked to Doctors' Group That Supports Vaccination Challenges,” the New York Times documented his long involvement (~1990-2010) with the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), but only scratched the surface of the strangeness. AAPS Executive Director Jane Orient and her associates run a tightly-coupled group of 501(c)(3) public charities. They seem to reject much modern science and focus efforts to promote political views, perhaps beyond the 501(c) rules. Enough has been learned since this earlier post to motivate this update and some following posts, especially given the recent prominence of DDP's favorite outside speaker, Willie Soon. [Willie Soon's fossil fuel funding, and failures to disclose, are hot in the news right now, see New York Times, The Guardian, Inside Climate News, and DeSmogBlog.]

Of course, organization membership does not imply acceptance of all positions, but Rand Paul's long-time association raises questions. Which of their views on science does he accept? Which of their policies does he support? Rand Paul is still featured at AAPS About Us, often using “we” regarding its actions.
(click for larger image)

Organizational graph

VIDEO: Heartland CEO Confronted Over Barre Seid's Funding of IPCC Attacks

Yesterday, the Heritage Foundation hosted The Heartland Institute's CEO Joseph Bast, along with two of Heartland's contracted climate denial scientists (Willie Soon and Bob Carter), to present their new report that denies the seriousness of global warming. Greenpeace was there to ask Heartland about the report's funders, including billionaire Barre Seid, and to challenge Heartland's assertion that their work has any scientific validity (it doesn't). See the video for yourself.

Koch & Exxon-funded Willie Soon Challenged by Students at Climate Denial Event

Crossposted from PolluterWatch.

Rarely do we meet those who have made careers selling us lies. Consider the oddball doctors who took tobacco money to deny a link between cigarette smoking and cancer, or the handful of scientists who take oil and coal money to discredit global warming science, or the people who have done both.

Last week, students in Wisconsin and Michigan stepped up to such an opportunity when CFACT Campus, the student arm of a well-known cabal of fossil fuel apologists, hosted climate change denier Willie Soon at several campus events around the country.

Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax

Modern anti-science was created by the tobacco industry in the 1950s and then used against climate science, often by the same well-experienced think tanks and individuals.  Tobacco anti-science is strangely entangled with climate anti-science, as the attached report shows in detail involving Fred Singer's SEPP, Joseph Bast's Heartland, and more. (Fakery 2  10/25/12 updates this post with more data.)

Skeptics Prefer Pal Review Over Peer Review: Chris de Freitas, Pat Michaels And Their Pals, 1997-2003

anti-science pot calling science kettle black

Imagine for a moment that climate change skeptics actually submitted their anti-science arguments for publication in a credible peer-reviewed journal. Now imagine that, after thorough examination and debunking by their peers, these skeptics finally admitted their many false claims and assumptions, and perhaps some or all moved on to contribute meaningfully to the vast body of science confirming manmade climate change?

Ok, back to reality.

Instead, the skeptics' greatest and most-often cited (by them) “peer-reviewed studies” appeared in the journal Climate Research between 1997-2003. This journal has been considered credible at certain points in its history, and many fine papers have appeared there.

But according to my new analysis [PDF] of the papers published in Climate Research, there is a very clear gap in credibility during the years 1997-2003 when Chris de Freitas served as one of the journal's editors. During this time, de Freitas oversaw the publication of 14 papers from notorious skeptics - half of them authored by fossil fuel industry pal Pat Michaels - many of which would not have survived rigorous and honest peer review at any other credible journal. 

A few months ago, another journal's editor resigned over a paper that should not have been accepted due to a poor peer review process. It reminded many of us of the more drastic case of Climate Research (CR), where several editors resigned in 2003 in the wake of a colossally poor paper by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, accepted for publication by none other than Chris de Freitas.

It was certainly not the first de Freitas-endorsed paper to pass weak editorial processes at Climate Research, but when incoming Editor-in-Chief Hans von Storch suggested the paper should not have been published, he endeavored to fix editorial processes to prevent such problems.  The publisher did not agree, so von Storch and other editors resigned.

David Legates Asked To Step Down As Delaware State Climatologist

David Legates, former Delaware State Climatologist

David Legates announced this week that he was asked to step down as Delaware State Climatologist, a position he held for seven years. A long-time denier of the human contribution to climate change, Legates’ tenure as State Climatologist has always been a controversial one.

Back in 2007, because of his stance on climate, then-governor Ruth Ann Minner insisted that Legates stop using the formal title in any public statements on climate change policy. Minner wrote to Legates:
“Your views on climate change, as I understand them, are not aligned with those of my administration. In light of my position and due to the confusion surrounding your role with the state, I am directing you to offer any future statements on this or other public policy matters only on behalf of yourself or the University of Delaware, and not as state climatologist.”
Legates maintained the title, however, which is designated by the Dean of the public university’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.
But this week, according to Legates himself, the Dean asked him to “step down.”
Legates sent the following note to his email list:

Don't Be Fooled: Fossil Fools Fund Latest Climate Skeptic Petition

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) recently published a flashy headline that reads, 900+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism Of “Man-Made” Global Warming (AGW) Alarm’. The article links to a blog post on Populartechnology.net listing more than 900 papers which, according to the GWPF, refute “concern relating to a negative environmental or socio-economic effect of AGW, usually exaggerated as catastrophic.”

The “900+ papers” list is supposed to somehow prove that a score of scientists reject the scientific consensus on climate change. One might be persuaded by the big numbers. We’re not.


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