Fred Singer: A Man you would be embarrassed to have on your side

The folks at Wildlife Promise ask:

“If he’s such a heroic challenger of the scientific consensus, why don’t you hear S. Fred Singer denying there’s water on the moon?”

And then they postulate:

“The short answer is, because there’s no money in it.”

The whole post is short, sharp and well worth the time. If you are judged by the company you keep, I NEVER want to be seen with S. Fred.


well ho ho ho! Well, if Fred Singer is such a hero why isn’t he denying water on the moon! This has nothing to do with global warming and is nothing but a desperate attack on a genius. Fred Singer has not denied that CFC’s put holes in the ozone layer. The issue is CO2 and this bombing of the moon has nothing to do with it. Keep it up though Richard, I look forward to more inaction from the world community because nobody is listening to you, thank god. Fred Singer; a man that you would be embarassed not to have on your side.

/Fred Singer has not denied that CFC’s put holes in the ozone layer./

Shooshmon, please explain this.

“In fact, the history of the CFC-Ozone depletion issue is rife with selective use of data, faulty application of statistics, disregard of contrary evidence, and other scientific distortions…The hypothesis that CFCs deplete ozone is still just that: a hypothesis. The theory did not predict the Antarctic ozone hole and cannot predict what will happen globally. There is no firm evidence as yet for a long-term depletion of global ozone…Are halocarbons–like CFCs, halons, etc.–really the culprit when it comes to ozone damage? Let me hypothesize a different scenario, but one which is also scientifically plausible…Promoters of the CFC-ozone depletion theory have insisted that governments take drastic action–even without firm scientific evidence–because if we don’t do something now it will soon be too late. I disagree. If we don’t know the extent of a problem–or if it exists at all–then we cannot be sure that the actions taken will have any beneficial effect.”

Source:, the congressional testimony Singer provided in August 1995. He certainly presents himself in opposition of the mainstream consensus (and indeed spends a long time in this testimony confusing the “scientific” vs. “popular” definition of “consensus”). Note that this is one of two testimonies from that year that Singer proudly links on his own website, which is where this URL is from.

Coincidentally, that same year, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Crutzen, Molina, and Rowland “for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone”, basically showing exactly the same link Singer was testifying that there was no consensus on. This is a scientific Nobel, unlike the Peace Prize, and is generally awarded ages after the discovery was made (giving it, often, decades of practical application).

To wit, some defend Singer as being a brave contrarian then, while others accused him of being knee-jerk free market / anti-regulation. For those who think he is the former, reread the original post.

Part of my reason for not taking sides is to avoid being associated with individuals who may be misleading and selfishly motivated in some way and I’m sure profit takers exist on both sides.

If Fred was or is in the pay of tobacco - that’s a bad sign - but I can’t really comment on that.

Rick: here a few things that might be useful

a) Do you know who the following are/were:
John W. Hill [a man who stopped smoking for health reasons, before he did something else]
Joseph Bast
Frederick Seitz

b) And you might want to try:
and lookup Fred Singer, read the Tobacco Industry Contractor piece

c) And if you want to find the really good stuff:
and enter any of the names above, or heartland institute or George Marshall Institute.

d) And for a really fine read:
An RJR Document on the importance of younger adults.

e) And for a good book (which will explain Hill) Allan Brandt’s “The Cigarette Century” is dandy.

Bottom line of all this:
a) While there is individual variation of course, for most people, to really “set” nicotine addiction, they really should start between 12 and 18, while brains are developing.
b) The tobacco companies have known this for a long time, an they are very, very good at it.

The gentlemen (I use the term loosely) above have done what they could, for pay (although sometimes with smart money-laundering), to help tobacco companies, which only thrive by addicting children to something that will be deadly for many.

I’ve got no use for tobacco or it’s promoters and the governments are all addicted to tobacco in their own way.

I also don’t have much use for source watch - Heres why: It’s a wiki so it has many contributors, but unlike wikipedia it specializes in criticizing people it doesn’t like. It poses as a neutral and yet it veers left all the time. (editing)

Desmog on the other hand makes no pretense of being politically neutral - so I can respect this place for openness. sourcewatch? no - it’s misleading because it claims neutrality.

No one in the their right mind would expect Sourcewatch to be neutral or Wikipedia to be authoritative (and when I write something longer that uses them, I always qualify what they are for)… but they are often useful first steps to find summarized information, especially if you don’t happen to have easy access to better sources.

Now, as it happens I am lucky to have frequent access to better sources, and in cases where I do, what Sourcewatch says has tended to match fairly well, for what it’s worth. My sources include some very serious, credible scientists who know Fred much better than they like. But I *cannot* quote stories from:
- personal conversations over dinner or after lectures
- personal emails
- not-yet-published books whose rats I’ve reviewed

So, I point at Sourcewatch, because:

a) Tobacco Archives are very authoritative, and the best-documented case of anti-science we have. I really wish we had something similar for other domains, but we do not.

But most people do not have the time or patience to plow through that stuff.
Anyone who did would form an opinion about Singer and tobacco.

b) So, I cite Souurcewatch.

Rick, could you say a bit more about why you think Sourcewatch is left leaning, and what you mean by left.

I ask because here in Alberta, people who support the Wild Rose Party (an ultra far right-wing extremist party that recently won a provincial by-election) think the Conservative Party are communists. I guess it’s just a matter of perspective.

Sourcewatch is run by the Center for Media and Democracy - which if you look at the website is pretty easily identifiable as an anti republican - anti Bush and absolutely pro dem outfit. The republicans are evil and the dems are here to save the day.

Okay, I’m fine with that because you know where they stand.

The trouble is that people link to sourcewatch and when you find yourself on those pages the first few times, you are left to assume they are even handed, non political, background info page without a particular political agenda. You might assume they handle things evenly when exposing individuals from either side of the aisle. Not true though. As becomes clear when you go to the CMD site, they are dem flag holders.

I’d respect them more if they’d put Obama’s picture on every page - perhaps with a nice halo or something. :)

Ok, thanks, interesting. I couldn’t find a single mention of the words Republican or Democrat in the 10-15 pages I browsed through. I did read a column about Obama getting the Nobel peace prize which reported that opinion was divided. No mention of the word evil either. Even if Sourcewatch were pro Democrat, that would merely make them liberal, not left, or, from a Canadian perspective, centre right.

Ok, after digging some more I see on the site they are admitting to being “a progressive-leaning watchdog that seeks to expose and counteract business and government PR campaigns.”

try using search terms like “Bush” or “republican” on the site. Even without doing that, it’s beyond any discussion that cmd is in the tank for the can’t do anything wrong dems. I mean every single issue and news story appears to be Pelosi approved. Like I said - that site and sourcewatch needs to get a big picture of Obama on every page - with the halo and maybe a nice head tilt.

Not complaining - just pointing out the lack of neutrality - so when someone points me to sourcewatch - they’re pointing me left.

and about the nobel thing. The reason the left is staying low key about it is because it really doesn’t help Obama right now. In fact it hurts him because it’s a stark reminder of how he hasn’t been able to do anything yet.(they nominated him for the nobel peace prize on the 11th day of his presidency for crying out loud - for doing what? running a winning campaign?) No, It’s an award that was given for what they hope he might be able to accomplish - even he admits that.

His greatest single accomplishment that I can think of was killing that fly on live TV - that was cool.

Bush and his administration were anti-science, anti-intellectual and anti-truth. You don’t have to be leftist to oppose that, just intelligent.

Are you arguing that you have to be anti-intellectual to be a Republican?

The Dems are not left, what a croc that is. There are leftists within the Dems, but they are a minority and have little influence. Just look at the health care reform, a mild and tame tinkering within the existing corporate HMO system, and Obama can’t even get that past the Dems. The Dems overwhelmingly supported the terrorist invasion of Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the patriot act and the war on everything else. It was the Dems that further deregulated the financial industry that led to the recent economic meltdown, it was Clinton who dropped bombs on hospitals, schools and water treatment plants in Yugoslavia, and the list goes on and on. Hardly leftist policies. The Dems and Reps are two sides of the same hydra monster utterly beholden to corporate interests and the military industrial complex. The concept of left and right has lost most of its meaning nowadays, espeically in the US.

Sourcewatch may be left, but the Dems aren’t.

hmmm - a requirement of anti-intellectualism to qualify as republican - now that is an interesting topic.

I’d like to flesh that out but honestly - I have to go fix someones fridge right now.

but lets just say that intellectualism isn’t always a plus. Intellectuals tend to be specialists and specialists can miss the big picture on account of focusing on details. I suspect republicans are more big picture and less about details.

you shouldn’t assume anything. You can merely click through and check their links because, in my experience, I have found the folks at sourcewatch conscientious about providing sources. Credibility shouldn’t come from your name or political affiliation. It should come (or be lost) on the basis of how often you’re caught telling the trut - or some insupportable variation thereof.

rick james, it’s a trick man. Singer was asked to evaluate data on smoking and health risks and he discovered that the anti-tobacco group “doctored” the data. He went to court and proved this, and the judge sided with his analysis. Fred Singer does not smoke, is against smoking and even belongs or belonged to group that was against smoking.

If he is so anti-smoking why did Singer publish this document in 1995? the Top 5 Environmental Myths.

Not only does he undermine science - He advocates the idea that second-hand smoke and UV exposure due to ozone depletion are not cancer causing.

Today - these cancer causing agents are well established mainstream facts. This is the Plan A approach for undermining climate change policy and he is well practiced.

Embarrassing or what?

it’s not a science blog, it’s a “who is getting fossil fuel money?” blog

I wouldn’t be here that much if it was about the science. Too hard.

But a blog that is suspicious of nefarious corporate agendas and plots against the planet - now we’re getting into my area.

“But a blog that is suspicious of nefarious corporate agendas and plots against the planet”

It appeals to the ignorant masses but does nothing to advance human understanding of the science of climate change.

It would be a good basis for “show trials” or “witch burnings” or “inqisitions” though.. that is why it is called AGW “religion”.

Then go to: … for a start. We are not scientists. This site tracks the groups that are trying to obfuscate the facts for a specific anti-regulatory, free-market, no-holds-barred profit-driven agenda. The science is settled. We’re following the money that says that it isn’t. You think that’s childish? Tell it to your grandchildren.

CEI Petitions EPA to Reopen Global Warming Rulemaking

Washington, D.C., October 6, 2009 - In the wake of a revelation by a key research institution that it destroyed its original climate data, the Competitive Enterprise Institute petitioned EPA to reopen a major global warming proceeding.

In mid-August the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) disclosed that it had destroyed the raw data for its global surface temperature data set because of an alleged lack of storage space. The CRU data have been the basis for several of the major international studies that claim we face a global warming crisis. CRU’s destruction of data, however, severely undercuts the credibility of those studies.

Can this be the same Fred Singer who, just days after Sputnik II was launched, suggested the U.S. fire a hydrogen bomb into the Moon? (U.S. News and World Reports, Nov. 8, 1957) And the same Fred Singer who days later asked Ike to send a giant Christmas bulb into orbit around Earth? (United Press, Nov. 13, 1957)

Shooshmon: I knew lots of ‘geniuses’ and fine research scientists before I retired. Also I knew Fred Singer. Ho –ho–ho.

I agree Singer does not smoke. But he labeled the whole study of the harm to health of passive smoking as ‘junk science’ in a letter to the New York Times. The studies amount to hundreds of papers by scientists and physicians from many disciplines. I knew a couple of them, real ‘geniuses’.

Are you referring to Singer’s screed prepared for the Alexander de Toqueville Institute, which attacked the 1992 EPA document designating tobacco smoke a known carcinogen responsible for 3000 deaths a year due to lung cancer? This report was reviewed by scientists from Berkeley, Princeton, 16 universities in all; it summarized existing peer-reviewed research.

Also by ‘court’ do you mean “the Osteen decision”, an internal government proceeding, overturned by appeals court? This case is a standard trick used by deniers of dangers of passive smoke.

Singer was the ‘hero’ who went to the newspaper trumpeting the national security need to invade Phoebus . Based on a Russian’s flawed analysis of the orbit showing the moon was hollow (later retracted by original author). If you don’t believe me, dredge up the original Washington Post newspaper article.

Some guy you admire. Bad taste on your part or are you a professional denier?

I confess – I did it – but I didn’t mean to – I didn’t want to.

Yes, my dark truth is I once lunched with ol’ Fred. It was a long time ago. He was with real research scientists. It would have been impolite to the others to decline to eat with him. Even though I considered him a Big Phony even then, as did some others.

But at that point, ol’ Fred’s nonsense was mostly harmless. He couldn’t ‘thread the needle’ to do real research IMHO, but promoted himself through newspapers and threw up red herrings on other people’s research.

He’s way worse than I believed earlier. He found sleazebags who fund him, schedule his media events, set up speaking engagements, and call him ‘esteemed scientist’ – all in the service of their short term profits. He’s attacked 3 fields I participated in or watched others working in. His “work” was labeled “fraudulent” to his face on national television.

Please do not think the less of me for once being seen in public with Fred Singer, please respect me anyway.

GSL: thanks for that confession.
I at least still respect you … even if you misspelled Littlemore

Of course, “astrophysicist” contains “physic”, most of “physician”, so of course he could write about cigarette epidemiology. :-) At least, that’s the most plausible reason.

I use a catalog of reasons for anti-science:

which is then matrixed with organizations & people to show which ones are plausible:

perhaps you would be so kind as to see if any of those fit Fred?

i am arguing with children. those pictures are fake and your all 7 year olds. now its as clear as a fake hockey stick graph.

I don’t know I saw Singer in an interview and he said he believed CFCs cause holes in the ozone, whatever we’re not using them that much anymore.