None Too Soon – Warming Denier Feels Heat

February 23, 2015

The New York Times report yesterday fingering Climate Denial go-to “scientist” Slick Willie Soon as an Exxon Hack has grown legs.


The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) has launched an
inquiry into one of its researchers, solar physicist and global warming
sceptic Willie Soon, following the release of documents that detail
research funds he and the institution received from the energy
industry and a conservative foundation.


Obtained by Greenpeace through a Freedom of Information Act
request and released by an affiliated group, the documents include
research contracts and describe specific commitments that Soon
and the CfA, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, made to corporate
funders. CfA officials say they are now investigating whether Soon properly reported the funding — he has received more than $1.5 million in private funding since 2001 —
to journals that have published his research.

The institution has no explicit policy requiring its researchers
to disclose funding sources when they publish, says CfA director
Charles Alcock, but they are expected to comply with journal rules,
which typically require that authors report potential conflicts of interest.

“We want to get the facts straight,” says Alcock. “If there is evidence
of failure to disclose, yes, we have a problem.”

Soon did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails.


Still, Physical Geography published the 40-page study in 2009 after peer reviewers gave a green light, and Harden persuaded Soon to “adjust some of the wording… and take out some pretty toxic language” involving climate research.  At the time, however, she didn’t inquire about Soon’s funding sources or potential conflicts of interest. The journal’s publisher had “no specific disclosure form that I know of,” she says. “It was pretty much the honor system.”

Yesterday, however, Soon’s paper once again became a hot potato for Harden, now retired from the faculty of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The New York Times and other outlets reported that Soon has received extensive financial support over the past decade from fossil fuel companies and others opposed to government regulation of greenhouse gas emissions– but has not always disclosed those financial links in his technical publications. The stories are based on documents obtained by two environmental advocacy groups, Greenpeace and the Climate Investigations Center (CIC). And the groups have now written to members of Congress and the editors of seven journals – including Harden — asking them look into disclosure issues surrounding nine papers. The CfA has also launched an inquiry into Soon’s disclosure practices, center director Charles Alcock told reporters.

“We’re concerned about the lack of transparency in science… and a possible ethical breach in not disclosing potential conflicts of interest in an area with important public policy implications,” says Kert Davies, Executive Director of the CIC in Alexandria, Virginia. (Soon’s work, he notes, is routinely cited by politicians opposed to government action on climate, and widely disputed by mainstream climate researchers.)

Soon did not respond to an email and phone message requesting comment.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Soon did not respond to the Times, Science, or Nature’s multiple requests for comment, but did talk to the reliably nuts Breitbart website. No, I won’t give them a link.





55 Responses to “None Too Soon – Warming Denier Feels Heat”

  1. I guess its about time we get to see Soon and the Koch brothers emails too.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    Here’s the on-line petition asking the CfA to fire Slick Willie. He needs to go “soon”.

  3. pbjamm Says:

    I read it here :

    Classifying it as “Nonsense” seems generous. Do not venture into the comments section if you value your sanity. Abandon Hope all ye who enter there.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Since my sanity is already in question, I ventured into the “comments” section. I’ve seen far worse on libertarian sites, and what is there is typical of what you might expect in response to a Delingpole article on a site that is haunted by the ghost of that looney-tune Breitbart.

      Something I’ve noticed. Whenever I go on the Breitbart site, my computer often gets a bit goofy and even locks up my email program, as it did today. Anyone else ever experience that?

      • My browser becomes very oddly difficult to control every time I go to Breitbart. If I go one level deeper into right wing land, I have to run my malware program.

        • Mine as well, really bogs down in an annoying way. And according to you two fellows’ logic, that proves I’m a left-wing environmentalist global warming believer.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Stop giving yourself “thumbs up”, Russell—you never get more than one and we all know you’re giving them to yourself.

            I had a serious slowdown just minutes ago when I went to WUWT to check on the “pingos” BS that Russell linked on another thread.

            Browsers may be non-partisan, but something strange is going on with the “righty” wing-nut sites. Maybe they’re just cheaply designed?

          • I just liked my comment twice.

          • Breitbart has hard to kill pop-ups that get past my pop-up filter, and are tricky to close. That’s revenue, not cheap programming.

          • And I just noticed that they dropped a Viagra ad on another tab – which is so exciting I gave my comment a third thumbs up.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Yes, the “lockup” with WUWT seemed to have been caused by “waiting for ads” according to the little message in the bottom left corner of the screen.

            RE: the viagra ads that may pop up when visiting Breitbart or WUWT, remember to seek medical help for any delusion lasting longer than 4 hours.

        • Browsers are non-partisan

  4. livinginabox Says:

    Soon is not good-enough, Soon needs to go immediately. His papers need to be retracted. But archived to show in-perpetuity the depths to which the Deniers and the Denial industry will stoop.
    Like the one for the Tobacco industry.

  5. Andy Lee Robinson Says:

    Willie Soon = Own oil lies
    Peter Sinclair = Article Sniper, A Cretin’s Peril
    Anthony Watts = Nasty Whatnot
    Tony Heller = Hyene Troll


    • omnologos Says:

      Andy Lee Robinson – Bad Sinner Looney

      dumboldguy – Bum Odd Ugly …oops!

      • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

        Ah, the “Goon Looms”, “Bozo Imita Murario”

        I prefer “Annoyed Noble Sir” or even better, “Ban Loony Deniers”…

        • dumboldguy Says:

          How about “Enabled Irony Son” Useful when replying to comments from “Goon Looms” (for the amusement of rest of us anyway—the Goom Loomer doesn’t get irony).

          My favorite is “Broadly Sine Non”, which needs a “Qua” inserted when speaking of the patience needed to deal with the Goom Loomer.

          And I am floored by “Bozo Imita Murario”, which translates pretty closely to “a fool who mimics a wall”, and if that doesn’t define Maurizio’s thought processes pretty well, nothing does.

          • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

            🙂 Loadsa fun with these!

            Probably the best two anagrams I know of are:

            Nessiteras Rhombopteryx, named by Sir Peter Scott in 1975 (son of Scott of the Antarctic) which is Greek for “The Ness monster with diamond-shaped fin”.
            It’s also an anagram of “Monster hoax by Sir Peter S”

            and, Virginia Bottomley who was a conservative MP in the UK, which translates to “I’m an evil Tory bigot”.

            There are some awesome intellects out there!

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Awesome intellects are no match for on-line anagram programs. You don’t seriously think that “Goon Looms” aka “Bozo Imita Murario” cooked those up on his own, do you?

          • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

            Well, yes anagram generators help, but still need direction and creativity to find a solution.
            However, the Nessiteras Rhombopteryx anagram was found in 1975, well before the personal computer and internet age.
            It is to that which I refer!

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Ah! Then he was truly a genius, because that IS an “awesome anagram”!

      • Oh, noes! “Bozo Imita Murario” strikes again at ClimateCrocks. The place is really going to the dogs. They call me “GO AWAY”.

  6. omnologos Says:

    For some reason the NYT has titled the article “climate change researcher” (not “skeptic” or “denier” or “contrarian”) in the website and “climate researcher” in the printed international edition.

    In the website the link Soon/denial (of risks) is at the 9th line. Not sure how many went that far.

    This means that in the eyes of casual viewers (who would have only read the title) the entire category of “climate change researchers” has now suffered ignominy.

    Partially-interested viewers (those who only read the title and the end of the article) will be given the impression that science publications don’t work too hard on enforcing their own standards. Once again, a collective smearing job.

    • redskylite Says:

      Once again I do not follow your logic, the NYT describes Dr. Soon as a “climate change researcher” and to all intent and purposes that is how he is represented as a respected Harvard/Smithsonian custodian, certainly in his most recent paper. After all peer reviewed papers are not subdivided into “consensus” “outlier” and “contrarian/denial” groupings. He was not referred to as a Climatologist (as he is not). I have conducted climate research (comparing temperature trends at different latitude bands and have had my paper peer reviewed as part of a “Climate Science” University assignment, you could call me a climate change researcher, instead of a retired Systems Engineer.

      On your line of thinking you could discredit President Obama because of the failings of Richard Nixon, or Chancellor Angela Merkel, based on the duly elected and at one time very popular A. Hitler.

      • omnologos Says:

        Not at all. It’s a basic principle of journalism. Most will only read the titles of most articles. That’s why title are written by someone else than the journalists . Titles contribute more than articles to general public opinion. I don’t understand why the titlist decided to have a go at every climate researcher on the planet.

        A corollary is that a few will read the first paragraph. Even fewer will read also the end. And only a tiny percentage will bother with the full text. Every journalist has a few words to enthuse readership, or be lost.

        The Obama analogy doesn’t apply because at any given time there’s only one POTUS. You can think of it like a title saying “Senator filmed asking for money” contributing to the idea that every politician is corrupt. Once again most readers don’t have time or inclination or interest to read most articles so they’ll look at the title and never figure out which Senator it was. They’re all the same aren’t they. The same risks be said about climate researchers now.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Just as a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut, and a stopped clock is correct twice a day, Omno on rare occasions speaks some truth. Some observations:

          1) This phenomenon may explain why Omno often cites references that don’t prove his points. He is a classic example of what he speaks of here. I have pointed this out to him in many comments, but since he never fully reads them, he never learns

          2) I’m sorry to say that many “readers” are ignorant and lazy, and likely do behave as Omno suggests. That makes them good candidates for “brainwashing” and psywar techniques (i.e., Repugnant campaign ads, denier BS, and fossil fuel propaganda like “The KXL is good for America”).

          3) As far as “….titles are written by someone else than the journalists…”, that can be a real problem. The Washington Post had a serious problem in the recent past with headline (and subheadline) writers misrepresenting the substance of the articles. And when one followed up on the continuations on the inside pages, the titles there often bore little or no relationship to the titles on the first page and were often more in line with the real substance of the article. It was hard sometimes to even find the continuation because of that.

          It was almost as if the conservatives had sneaked a mole into the headline department. I wrote letters to the editor about this, as I’m sure many others did because it was so blatant—-all unanswered, but it HAS improved, so maybe they did a quiet internal cleanup..

    • anotheralionel Says:

      ‘For some reason the NYT has titled the article “climate change researcher”’

      No, to be more precise it was “Doubtful Climate Researcher’ but then why provide the complete description which would undermine your assessment mons-og-loo.

      No, the partially interested viewer will realise that Soon’s veracity as a climate researcher is doubtful. Quite how you work out the converse is anybodies guess.

  7. shelama Says:

    Concealed COI is reason enough for his dismal, the sooner the better.

    BUT, hopefully, his dismissal will also include an honest comment about his “scholarship” –– whether it should have passed peer-review in the first place regardless of funding? Or, at least, some scholarly critique and rebuttal where his premises, methods and conclusions are known to be in error, frankly bogus, or soundly discredited and debunked.

    Funding and concealed COI, however unethical and cause for firing, should be secondary and should be tied to the arguments and conclusions of his published research.

    If Koch & Exxon funded good research with sound methods and conclusions, then the COI issue becomes fodder for denialist attacks claiming that Soon is being persecuted for honest & valid science simply because he is contrary to the consensus.

  8. Rob Kerr Says:

    “you gotta be f*ckin kidding me” which I can’t believe no one has said yet. To busy being awesome with anagrams, I suppose.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      When you say “you gotta be f*ckin kidding me”, are you suggesting that’s an appropriate response to all the info about Slick Willie? I agree.

      How do you know we all haven’t said that to ourselves while watching Willie and reading this post. FYI, I myself said that and a lot worse, and even entertained fantasies about time-transporting Slick Willie and myself back to Tombstone AZ in the 1880’s so that we could “settle matters” in Wyatt Earp fashion.

      Yep, those of us who have been outraged by Soon and his ilk for years tend to keep our more vulgar and vicious thoughts private, and play with “awesome anagrams” instead—–here are a couple “AA”s that night be fitting for Willie.

      Sewage Aroma Man
      Aw A Enema Orgasm

  9. omnologos Says:

    This facebook link shows the article as it was originally

    (yes I have taken a screenshot now)

    The absence of “doubtful” is confirmed by the still-current link on the nytimes website

    Shortened: nyti . ms/1GffgNo
    Full: www . nytimes .com/2015/02/22/us/ties-to-corporate-cash-for-climate-change-researcher-Wei-Hock-Soon.html

    AFAIK somebody inserted the “doubtful” between the article reaching the home page and the printed Sunday edition of the NYT (but for some reason, not the printed Monday edition of the International NYT).

    This correction did not manifest itself online until sometimes between me pointing it out last night GMT and anotherlionle visiting the same page today.

    On past performance, this is yet another heavy handed intervention by Somebody High Above at the NYT to correct a climate article that had gone astray, just as for this 2010 article, dramatically changed between the IHT printed edition and the NYT website:

    www . nytimes . com/2010/03/03/science/earth/03climate.html

    (yes I have imagery demonstrating the changes)

    In that case, the newspaper of record made Judith Curry disappear, to be replaced by a nobody from the UCS with zero climate science background.

    • dumboldguy Says:


    • anotheralionel Says:

      “This correction did not manifest itself online until sometimes between me pointing it out last night GMT and anotherlionle [sic] visiting the same page today.”

      But my visit was not today, the page I viewed came from local cache and was as downloaded at the date and time I cited, go and look at that again.

      Now as DOG wrote ‘ZZZZZ’. There was a time when Word spell-checker returned a curious suggestion, suggestive suggestion at that, which betrayed the juvenile humour of the programmers. Maybe that is where you honed your skills at FUD.

    • anotheralionel Says:

      “www . nytimes . com/2010/03/03/science/earth/03climate.html”

      monologos, just how is a page by By JOHN M. BRODER Published: March 2, 2010 supposed to be relevant?

      You may have imagery, may as well be imaginary for all the good it does.

      But carry on wasting your time trying to prove a pointless point, I would expect nothing less from somebody as diligent as you.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Ah, but Omno doesn’t consider it a waste of time “trying to prove a pointless point”. He THRIVES on it, diligent little moron that he is.

        As for me, ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz…………..!!!!!!!!!!!

      • omnologos Says:

        You better check that sour blood. Point is simple. I often read a story In the printed nyt and then go refer to it online. In climate and only in climate, I’ve found stories modified between print and online or vice versa -with changed focus. But thanks for being honest enough to admit your credulity led you astray.

  10. livinginabox Says:

    One has to wonder why the Southern Company might be interested in funding Willie Soon’s work.
    So-far, the released documents date from 2008. There is evidence that the Southern Company was already involved in climate change denial.

    In July 2006 the IREA memo was written. On page 2:

    ….There are other groups that are interested in the issue of global warming and the concerns about its costs. Koch Industries is working with other large corporations including AEP and the Southern company, on possibly financing a film that would counteract An Inconvenient Truth. Koch has also decided to finance a coalition that very likely will be administered through the National Association of Manufacturers. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has been running two ads in ten states that were financed by General Motors and the Ford Motor Company. CEI has a director on climate change and other employees working on the issue. We have met with Koch, CEI and Dr. Michaels, and they meet among themselves periodically to discuss their activities….

    But don’t take my word for it. Read it for yourself.

    Click to access IREA-memo.pdf

    This memo is required reading and while it does not mention Willie Soon, it does mention a number of other individuals.
    Let’s hope the ordure really does hit the fan.

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