Weird Anti-Science - Donna Bethell, SEPP, and Sandia National Laboratories

Read time: 2 mins
Back to school, dunce.

Donna Bethell recently complained to the Washington Post about an article that mentioned human causation of global warming:

It also cited two well-known skeptics of this claim. Were those skeptics allowed to explain why they are skeptics? No, they were only allowed to say that climate change is a political issue. Well, duh.”

The “skeptics” in the article were Rush Limbaugh and Marc Morano.  Lawyer Bethell's husband is political writer Thomas Bethell, whose book, The Politically Incorrect Guide(TM) to Science (2005) promoted intelligent design and AIDS denialism, but scoffed at any dangers from global warming, radiation, dioxins, DDT, loss of biodiversity, etc.  It lauded Fred Singer and fictioneer Michael Crichton.  Donna rated it highly and urged people to buy it:

(5 stars)This guide shows you other people are lost, November 21, 2005 … Most of us are a little afraid of science. We never quite got it in high school and it could be pretty icky, too…But what if the experts are wrong? And how is the non-expert to know? Never fear, Tom Bethell is here to help us separate the wheat from the chaff. …

All this makes perfect sense, given that she told the Post that she “serves on the board of the Science & Environmental Policy Project (SEPP),” Fred Singer 's little thinktank.

The 32-page attachment gives the details, with instructive quotes, including Tom's long arguments against relativity with senior physicists.  His book is a cornucopia of ideological non-science.  The 17-page global warming chapter alone offers 24 of the wrong arguments from Skeptical Science.  Page 4 shows the web of anti-science advocacy in which the Bethells are unsurprisingly enmeshed.

Why would anyone care? Anti-science is all too common around Washington, DC.

But imagine one found an astrologer in a position of influence over NASA or a tobacco executive over the National Institutes of Health.  Would that worry a taxpayer?

Somehow, Donna Bethell has been, for at least 7 years, a member of the Board of Sandia National Laboratories,  a major US national science/engineering resource. 

Who recommended her and kept her there?  Does she get paid for this?  If so, in Meatloaf's words, “… I Want My Money Back.”  Put coffee down before reading the attached report PDF.

Image Credit: Sandra Cunningham / Shutterstock.

PDF icon weird.anti-science.pdf1.96 MB
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Donna Fitzpatrick Bethel is an arrogant nitwit.  

Normal Catholics accept and teach real science. For centuries Catholics have run schools, colleges, and hospitals. If this were 1600, the Inquisition could call her a heretic and pop her in a dungeon, but we don’t do that anymore. 

Denialists (and creationists) do sometimes put pressure on Catholic educators, but we just cite the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and point out that those IPCC climate scientists who are cited in the AP Environmental Science book are also members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Galileo said: “The Bible teaches us how to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go.” The Bible is not a science book.  Scholars think that Galileo got this quote from Bishop Baronius, the head of the Vatican library.

I know a little bit about Sandia’s work in drilling.  I don’t think it would drive their bottom line at all, but I’d be happy to share what I know if you’re interested.

Or imagine if you had a president that not only owned an oil company, but most of his contacts were in the oil industry & imagine if he took an entire country to war losing thousands of lives for the benefit of his oil friends, just to steal oil & grant his vice president all the construction contracts.

Sandia does a lot of work for the oil and gas industry, such as experiments with downhole communications (Acoustic, High Powered EM, Modified Drill Pipe), the totally instrumented rig, and of course high temp electronics.  (Oil industry doesn’t seem to actually use much of what they do…  Although I bet the major oil companies could.)

That aside, I was recently wondering about the TV show ‘Fringe’.  Its essentially an attack on ‘Evil Scientists’ who perpetrate horrible deeds that only a select few can somehow see or solve.  They are aided by non other than another (previously) Evil Scientist.  The FBI can’t solve the problems they solve by using good process or technique, but rather by using ‘fringe’ science to some how catch their bad guys.

It just strikes me that the show doesn’t show any ‘good science’.  Even better, when questioned these guys take the heat like a Columbian Drug Lord.  (In reality, caught hackers sing soon and often.)

Presumably someone in Sandia’s public affairs office can find out a few things - whether Ms. Bethell is still on the board, how she came to be on it in the first place, and on what basis she was deemed qualified, given her apparent anti-science views.