John Mashey

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Dr. Mashey is an easy-to-Google and Wikipedia’d semi-retired Bell Labs (1973-1983) / Silicon Valley (1983-)  computer scientist/executive.    He has worked with a wide variety of scientists, many of whom have used software or hardware he helped create.  For the last few years he has been studying climate science & anti-science and energy issues, and for several years has written occasional investigative reports mostly here at DeSmogBlog, and a few articles for Skeptical Inquirer.

In Spring 2011, he lectured several times in British Columbia on climate anti-science. He has also lectured several times at UCSF in 2013 and Stanford in 2014 on Cigarettes, Climate and Confusion Creators and is member of the Advisory Committee for UCSF’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education  He is a member of AAAS, AGU, APS, ACM, IEEE CS.

Earlier reports were often attached to blog posts written by Richard Littlemore here, summarized in Science article recognizes John Mashey Updated: With complete list of Mashey Papers. Finally, one of the most important reports was Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report, which first appeared at Deep Climate, but was later copied here to DeSmogBlog for consolidation. Other related works include a review of James Powell’s The Inquisition of Climate Science at NCSE, July-August 2013, and several articles for Skeptical Inquirer: American Physical Society Rejects Climate Anti-Science March/April 2010 (print-only); Strange Problems in the Wegman Report, March-April 2011; Has Global Warming Stopped?, David Morrison, John Mashey, Mark Boslough, September/October 2013.

High-Techs Abandon ALEC, Fossil and Tobacco Wolf In Business Suit

As Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Yelp and other high-tech Silicon Valley companies abandon the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a few facts need more emphasis to understand this wolf in business clothes, bringing “sample bills” to legislatures.

ALEC is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) “public charity,” as per its IRS Form 990s.  Donations to it get tax breaks. Common Cause filed complaints against ALEC in 2012 and 2013, but these take years, as do similar complaints related to Fakery 2: More Funny Finances, Free of Tax.

High-tech companies finally noticed problems with climate change policies at ALEC, unsurprising given the strong influence of fossil energy companies. But companies also were effectively side-by-side with Big Tobacco, whose continued existence requires nicotine addiction of adolescents, which only works by “rewiring” the brain during rapid development that ends by age 25 or usually earlier.

ALEC includes the usual think tanks that attack science and support both industries. Does ALEC have a monopoly on access to power? Can reasonable business people find no representation except through a group that is often anti-science, anti-environment and anti-health?

Cheshire Claim: Rupert Darwall Copies Satellite CO2 Nonsense From Murry Salby

Cheshire Claim: Rupert Darwall Copies Satellite CO2 Nonsense From Murry Salby

The world of climate dismissives often could be Wonderland, although with multiple Mad Hatters. Both have characters who can believe six impossible things before breakfast. Many wrong climate claims seem more like the Cheshire Cat, who could appear as just a floating grin or a bodiless face to avoid beheading.
Climate claims/myths might be called “Cheshire Claims” here. Like the Cat, they appear anywhere and get repeated without checking, no matter how absurd. As the Cat said, “We're all mad in here,” an apt description for attempts to disprove the well-established role of fossil fuels in CO2 rise, using misrepresented satellite data.

Many Cheshire Claims are found in Murry Salby's “CO2 rise is natural”, Skeptical Science (SkS) Myths #188/#189. Each page there summarizes the science and the myth (grin), examines any myth details (face), and then introduces credible, peer-reviewed science to refute the myth. 

An unsupported statement by Rupert Darwall led to re-examination of a Salby image that proved to be quite misleading. People with some expertise create claims that others just naively repeat. Darwall seems well-connected with the usual think tanks. On September 24, he will speak at a Heritage Foundation book event on his The Age of Global Warming: A History. Then he heads to Houston for Sept 25/26 conference hosted by Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Did Lennart Bengtsson Know Global Warming Policy Foundation And Heartland Institute?

Did Lennart Bengtsson Know About GWPF And Heartland?

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has recently gotten worldwide publicity. It proudly announced that well-published climate scientist Lennart Bengtsson had joined its Academic Advisory Council (AAC), finally adding someone with scientific credibilty.  A week later, he quit, and affairs went downhill, as per The Guardian, Huffpost, DeSmogBlog and many others.  Of course, the usual denial blogs and publications proclaimed awful behavior on the part of climate scientists.

Perhaps Dr. Bengtsson did not know that GWPF was the nearest UK equivalent to the Heartland Institute and the two were quite closely coupled.

FOIA Facts 5 - Finds Friends Of GWPF analyzed AAC Chairman David Henderson's email to a list that included 19 Heartland experts, speakers, employees or consultants. Then, another eight Heartland-related people were GWPF or AAC members, including Henderson himself.  The full To: list was quite instructive.

Two years after the infamous Heartland billboard and other exposures of Heartland activities, seven GWPF AAC members are still Heartland Experts:
Robert Carter, Freeman Dyson, Indur Goklany, Richard Lindzen, Ross McKitrick, Ian Plimer, Nir Shaviv

Both Heartland and GWPF are tax-exempt political “charities” that have little to do with science except to attack it.  Perhaps Dr. Bengtsson has now learned that one is known by the company they keep and a credible scientist had fallen into very bad company.  Hopefully he has indeed learned.

UPDATE 08/30/14: For more detail, see discussion at Ha ha: Lennart Bengtsson leaves advisory board of GWPF (Stoat), L'Affaire Bengtsson (Rabett Run) and  Wikipedia.  When a scientist starts doing silly things and lending his name to an anti-science group, calling colleague's displeasure McCarthysim shows ignorance of the term's meaning.

Pseudoskeptics Exposed In The SalbyStorm

Pseudoskeptics Exposed In The SalbyStorm

Pseudoskeptics Are Not Skeptics was inspired by last year's SalbyStorm,  which highlighted the stark divide between scientific skeptics and most (pseudoskeptic) climate dismissives, who reject the mainstream consensus.

Murry Salby's unsupported, internally-inconsistent story of dismissal by Macquarie University was broadcast via blogs, to excited discussion.  Contrary evidence mounted over the next few days, including here.  Reactions differed strongly.

Scientific skeptics
About 30 commenters accepted mainstream climate science and rejected Salby's wrong ideas from his lectures and 2012 book (see review). Given a one-sided employment dispute story, real skeptics were cautious or knowledgable enough to be more dubious.  In the hostile territory of these blogs, they were often insulted, sometimes for merely expressing caution. 

Real skeptics knew the science, weighed evidence, and avoided leaping to premature conclusions on Salby's story.  Some searched and found relevant history that cast doubt on Salby's credibility, but were ignored or insulted for providing unwanted facts.

Climate dismissives, pseudoskeptic behavior
By contrast, of the 400+ dismissive commenters (who reject mainstream consensus), about 40% explicitly supported Salby's erroneous CO2 ideas, seemingly desperate to believe the current rise in CO2 was natural.  That idea was rejected by a mere handful, of whom one apologized and said he expected to be downvoted for doing so, and indeed he was.
Dismissives reacted to Salby's Macquarie story in varying ways:

Pseudoskeptics Are Not Skeptics

Fake skeptiocism is not genuine

Genuine scientific skepticism is not just the unmoving rejection of evolution or climate change by fake skeptics, called pseudoskeptics.  The real thing avoids premature conclusions, recognizes uncertainty, motivates searches for good data and causes real skeptics to change their minds,  as put succinctly by John Maynard Keynes:

“When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?”

Familiar Think Tanks Fight For E-cigarettes

Anti-science think tanks learned tactics from the tobacco industry and got paid for their help by tobacco companies, who fostered the Tea Party with the Koch brothers. When the Kochs needed better PR, they knew who to hire, Steve Lombardo, an experienced tobacco operative.

People rarely get strong nicotine addiction after their teen years,* but teen smoking has slowly been dropping in developed countries, threatening tobacco's future customer base. So do advertising restrictions and smoking bans in many places.

What to do?

Answer: Use the classic formula — apply brilliant marketing while familiar think tanks provide pseudo-academic cover to public and policy makers. Clean coal anyone?

Koch Industries Hires Tobacco Operative Steve Lombardo to Lead Communications and Marketing

Q: What does Koch Industries do when it needs better PR?

A: Hire a veteran helper of the tobacco industry.

At O'Dwyer's, Kevin McCauley writes January 9 in Koch Bros Lure Burson PA, Crisis Chair”:

“Steve Lombardo, PA/crisis chair at Burson-Marsteller in Washington since April, is moving to Koch Industries next month for the chief communications/marketing officer slot.

The 53-year-old sees an opportunity to showcase how the $115B Wichita-based conglomerate works to improve the lives of people around the world, according to Politico.

Prior to B-M, Lombardo helmed Edelman’s StrategyOne research operation, ran his own shop for an eight-year span and served as vice chairman of Blue Worldwide, Edelman’s advertising unit.

Lombardo has been involved in Republican politics, recently serving as senior research and communications director for Mitt Romney presidential run.

KI is the firm of conservative activists Charles and David Koch. Their empire includes Georgia-Pacific, Koch Pipeline/Fertilizer, Molex (electronic components), Flint Hills Resources, INVISTA (chemicals), Matador Cattle and Odessa Power.

Lombardo and Edelman colleague Jackie Cooper wrote about the “Republican Brand Problem” in O'Dwyer's in December 2012.

PR firm Burson-Marsteller and Lombardo both have relevant histories with tobacco.

Study Details Dark Money Flowing to Climate Science Denial

Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle's long-awaited, peer-reviewed study “Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations” was published Dec. 20 in the journal Climatic Change.

The Drexel press release, “Not Just the Koch Brothers: New Drexel Study Reveals Funders Behind the Climate Change Denial Effort” gives a quick introduction to the findings:

'This study marks the first peer-reviewed, comprehensive analysis ever conducted of the sources of funding that maintain the denial effort.
Through an analysis of the financial structure of the organizations that constitute the core of the countermovement and their sources of monetary support, Brulle found that, while the largest and most consistent funders behind the countermovement are a number of well-known conservative foundations, the majority of donations are 'dark money,' or concealed funding.”

“Funding has shifted to pass through untraceable sources. Coinciding with the decline in traceable funding, the amount of funding given to denial organizations by the Donors Trust has risen dramatically. Donors Trust is a donor-directed foundation whose funders cannot be traced. This one foundation now provides about 25% of all traceable foundation funding used by organizations engaged in promoting systematic denial of climate change.”

Of course, many recipients engage in numerous other actiivities outside the climate issue, and Brulle's study did not and could not address the percentage spent on climate change.  The clear message is that tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations that spread climate denial get huge sums of dark money, and we really do not yet know exactly how they spend it.

Brulle has provided DeSmogBlog with the 120-page Supplementary Material, with detailed financial data and explanations of the methodology. Figs 1-4 are attached below. Fig 3 shows how the DONORS TRUST money anonymizer has grown:

Growth of DONORS

Defamation By Internet? Part 1 - Murry Salby's Short-Lived Blog Storm

Defamation? Murry Sa;by's Short-Lived Blog Storm

Climate anti-science adapted well to the Internet. A blog storm (in this case the “SalbyStorm”) can surge through well-linked blogs to spread misinformation or unsupported accusations.  Some blogs act as tribal echo chambers where people reinforce others' anger, in this case resembling a famed witch-burning scene, with Macquarie University as main, but not only, witch.

As in the “Climategate” blog storm, the noise was intended for the mainstream. This reached The Australian, but the main SalbyStorm lasted less than a week.

Some earlier storms generated serious harassment of targeted climate scientists. In pre-blog 1996, Frederick Seitz and Fred Singer made personal attacks on Ben Santer via the Wall Street Journal. Later, blogs were employed to continue, as by Paul Chesser in this or this(Warning: those URLs are OK, but every once in a while, WebCite gets overloaded and gives odd error message. Ignore for now and try later.)

Michael Mann has replaced Santer as favored target, but there have been many other victims, such as Katharine Hayhoe. Only a small fraction of readers need get angry enough to produce reputational damage, hate mail, death threats, a dead rat on the doorstep or floods of email.

Some “skeptical” bloggers routinely accept and repeat both silly anti-science ideas, and other unsuppported claims, as here. Apologies or corrections almost never occur and even if they do, they rarely flow through the network, leaving waves of misimpression there.  First impressions stick.

On July 9-12, Macquarie suffered this kind of attack (Wave 1).  Ex-Professor Murry Salby made serious, but unsupported and sometimes contradictory, accusations against Macquarie, by the unusual route of email to bloggers. Joanne Nova (Australia), Anthony Watts (Watts Up With That, USA), and Andrew Montford (Bishop Hill, UK) republished them.

After 4 days and 1,500+ comments at those blogs alone, SalbyStorm's Wave 1 ended quickly when Salby's checkered past was detailed at DeSmogBlog.  Discussions stopped, although with little apology or introspection about gullibility at “skeptical” blogs.  A very few people had wondered at oddities of Salby's claims, searched for his past history, and independently started finding problems within a few hours. Salby supporters did not do that, preferring to specualte and comment.

People believed the worst and repeated it, sometimes expanding defamatory accusations with little concern for evidence. A few of the phrases applied to Macquarie or mainstream climate science included criminal, dictatorial, barbaric, Orwellian, Nazi, Stasi, Deutsch Physika, Marxist, Stalinist, Lysenko, thugs, Mafia, and extended further to “goose-stepping, alarmist, fascist, progressives.”  Salby was praised as a science hero, compared to Galileo, Copernicus or Einstein,  despite the evident problems in his scientific claims.

Salby sent accusations to bloggers who republished them with little visible effort to calm the mutually-reinforcing commenter outrage.  Finally, the story got repeated by The Australian.  Experienced watchers have seen this before, but  SalbyStorm makes a compact case study to document and recall in future storms.

Murry Salby: Galileo? Bozo? Or P.T.Barnum?

Murry Salby fired from Macquarie, had been debarred by NSF

“They laughed at Galileo … but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown” might be appled to Murry Salby, who until May was a Professor of Environmental Science at Australia's Macquarie University (MU).  P.T. Barnum might fit better, as Salby has a well-documented history of deception and financial chicanery that got him debarred from Federal funding in the USA.

Galileo? In 2011, he proclaimed a recent rise in CO2 to be natural, not human-caused, which if true, would qualify for Galileo level.  This was received with great praise or at least taken seriously at The Sydney Institute (thinktank), Andrew Bolt in Herald Sun, JoNova, Jennifer Marohasy, WUWT (Steve Brown, Benny Peiser/GWPF, Ronald Voisin, Vincent Gray, Anthony Watts),  Bishop Hill (Andrew Montford), Climate Depot (Marc Morano), Climate Etc (Judith Curry,  who knew Salby at U Colorado), SPPI (Robert Ferguson reblogs Curry), NotrickZone (P. Gosselin), GWPF (reblogs Gosselin), The Hockey Schtick, to  name just a few.

Bozo? SkS lists “Murray Salby finds CO2 rise is natural” as #188 in the catalog of bad arguments, following this and this earlier articles.  MU Professor Colin Prentice took the time to write “How we know the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic”, but scientists rarely waste much time debunking wrong arguments. They wait until bad ideas get into credible peer-reviewed journals, beyond thinktank talks or even  poster sessions.

Fired in May, emailed ~July 8: Salby emailed a few bloggers laying out many complaints against MU, quickly published by JoNova (“Did Macquarie University sabotage, exile, blackban, strand and abandon Murry Salby?”), Watts (“Professor Murry Salby who is critical of AGW theory, is being disenfranchised, exiled, from academia in Australia”, reblogged by Tallbloke), Montford (“Climate of Fear”), Powerline (Steven Hayward, “The Climate Mafia Strikes Again…”). An article in The Australian was reblogged as Climate Chairman Left High And Dry By University by GWPF (of FOIA Facts 5) and Morano, who also wrote “the same.”   If a legal strategy, it seemed odd.

MU replied July 10, Statement regarding the termination of Professor Murry Salby.  Unlike bloggers, schools follow legal rules, so it was short, including:

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