Climate/Tobacco Denier Faces Fire at Texas A&M

March 1, 2015

Before there was Willie Soon, there was Fred Singer, a scientific shill for the Tobacco Industry, and now the climate denial industry, who set the mold for aspiring “experts” for hire.
In 2013, Dr. Singer accepted an invitation to speak to climate expert Andy Dessler’s class at Texas A&M.  I used a clip from this in my recent video.
Worth a look.

A few of the highlights:

22:30-23:30, subject changes, comes back @ 27:30: Fred tries to defend his statement that Oreskes claims that Oxygen-15 is a carcinogen, even after I show him that the book doesn’t actually say that.
40:00, talks about Oregon Petition
55:00, talks about 2nd hand smoke <– really interesting exchanges over the next few minutes
1:00:30 says tobacco companies exaggerated his work for them

12 Responses to “Climate/Tobacco Denier Faces Fire at Texas A&M”

  1. indy222 Says:

    It’s too bad Professor Dessler didn’t challenge him on the fact the Oregon Petition contains the names of many scientists who did NOT in fact sign the petition. I know, because I am one of them. I’ve read that there are other scientists who complain the same. It was a revelation to me, a year or two ago, when googling my name, to find my name was on that petition. To anyone who reads my college website on climate, they’ll know I’m the LAST person who would do such a thing. It sure looks to me like names were simply harvested from public records and added to the petition. I have no evidence or proof of such, but I can’t otherwise explain why my name would on it it. Perhaps my name was added about the same time I started getting the glossy “Heartland Institute” publication, around 2011 for a while.

    • ubrew12 Says:

      I better check on this. I found my Dad’s name on that petition, about a decade ago, and must say I’ve privately held it against him, while not challenging him out loud (so as not to embarrass him).

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    As a pre-senile old fart with hearing problems of my own, I have a small bit of sympathy for Fred Singer. Mainly in that his “keepers”, whoever they may be, should not let him go out in public like this to invite public ridicule with his maunderings. He is losing it (and I’m not referring to his having “sold it” long ago—that was deliberate and deserves no sympathy).

    The second-hand smoke comments here by themselves are proof of that, and his comments about the Oregon Petition just seal the deal. I myself use people’s attitudes towards the Oregon Petition as a litmus test for rationality on the topic of AGW. He fails.

    PS to indy222 Re: the mysterious appearance of your name on the Petition. I had colleagues who would have submitted a name to the Petition or signed someone up with Heartland as a prank. When you found out that it had happened, did you mention it in a meeting and look for any “tells”?

    • indy222 Says:

      I decided to not contact any petition keepers and just leave my name there – it’s a great anti-advertising and piece of evidence of the whole charade. I’ve only mentioned it in my course materials and to my students in lecture, and some friends. I’m trying to get a wider audience in my climate education and it would no doubt come up again. Certainly no one who knows me and who might also happen upon my name on the petition would give anything but a hoot of disbelief! I will say that there was a climate denialist teaching in an environmental science class on my campus and I stood up forcefully to it, and it’s conceivable my name got put on there at that time – but it doesn’t sound like her style, frankly, so I doubt it. Maybe a prank from a student?? But I also doubt that, since I only created my climate class AFTER that sorry affair. I doubt any of my students even knew of the obscure “Oregon Petition”.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Climate denialists have “style”? So do dung beetles, I suppose—-I always enjoy video clips of them rolling away.

        Look no further for your culprit—-as in the words of the dearly departed former mayor of DC, Marion Barry, when he got caught in a cocaine sting, “Bitch set me up!”. Look on the bright side, though—-she didn’t try to poison your dogs (or did she?)

        I am reminded of my own shameful behavior many years ago during a “labor dispute” at an educational institution where I worked. A rather low IQ “hatchet man” administrator who got his job because he knew someone rather than knew anything stood up before a rather confrontational mass meeting one day and announced “You people seem to enjoy trying to get rid of me. I’ve got news for you, I’ve unpacked, thrown away the boxes, and I’m here to stay”.

        Immediately after the meeting, a good number of us Young Turks spread out throughout the town and gathered up boxes from stores of all kinds. We met late that night and made a pile half the size of a bus on the lawn outside his office windows in the admin building. Of course, someone made sure that the local papers were contacted, so everyone had scrapbook material.

        Here’s what happened after he stood up in another meeting to discuss his “leadership philosophy”and gravely intoned “Behold the turtle—-He never gets ahead unless he sticks his neck out”. No, we didn’t decapitate some poor turtle. We merely scrounged a piece of plywood from one of our garages, jig-sawed a big turtle cutout, painted it in realistic colors, and hung it by its neck from a tree outside his office windows late that night. That made the papers too, under the caption “Here’s what happened to the turtle” or some such.

        Lastly, some parties unknown took to clipping coupons and sending them in with The Turtle’s name and address on them. Life insurance and burial plots were big favorites, as well as trial subscriptions to semi-porn magazines, but volume was the goal, and The Turtle DID finally beg “the criminals” to stop—he was getting 50 pieces of mail a day.

        Have I given you any ideas? That all took place back in the 1960’s in the rough and tumble world of North Jersey, but the concept of “Don’t get mad, Just get even” is still viable.

  3. anotheralionel Says:

    Singer sure showed signs of his age there, and that was back in Spring 2013. I was disappointed as Dessler didn’t seem to have the arguments that would have countered Singer’s mashing of facts especially surrounding that infamous AR2 1995 episode. I am sure, that he could have put the relevant text, from MoD, up with arguments already marshalled to demonstrate that Singer was playing fast and loose with the facts being aided and abetted at the time by Pat Michaels.

    It should be remembered that Pat Michaels was mis-appointed state climatologist of Virginia by Republican governor John Dalton who had no authority to make such an appointment thus technically Michaels never was in such a post.

    Dessler also let Singer off the hook on the Singer v Lancaster over Revelle litigation, Eli Rabett has created one entry point into this mire with his If Richard Lindzen shows up at your door, slam it.

    I had a curious exchange with a certain Brad Keys (any exchange with this one is sure to be curious) over on Deltoid in early 2013 on this.

    Compared with these the Oregon Petition is low hanging fruit but as you say a good litmus test.

  4. ontspan Says:

    I looked at the Oxygen-15 argument to see what has been said and claimed.

    At 12:50 Dr. Singer is attacking Dr. Oreskes about her (supposedly lack of) scientific knowledge by claiming that she wrote that sigarette smoke contains radioactive Oxygen-15 which he suggests is nonsense because it has a half-life of only a few seconds.

    It is a strawman argument. Oreskes never claims that sigarettes contain Oxygen-15.

    In her book Merchants of Doubt on page 28 she discusses Dr. Seitz’ claims about naturally occuring radioactivity and cancer and quotes him:
    “the oxygen in the air we breathe … plays a role in radiation-induced cancer.”
    About which she says:
    “Oxygen, like most elements, has a radioactive version -Oxygen-15 – although it is not naturally occurring.”

    Dr. Singer really is a Merchant of Doubt, he portaits reality backwards to suit his argument.

  5. Gingerbaker Says:

    “He is losing it …
    The second-hand smoke comments here by themselves are proof of that”

    I have read the major proof studies against second-hand smoke (I think it was the EPA study he references, but I am not sure) and I have to say (and may have said it here before?) that the report and the studies to which it refers are very badly done.

    I don’t find what Singer has to say here about SHS to be objectionable at all.

  6. dumboldguy Says:

    I don’t give a rodent’s rear end about how well or poorly done the EPA study was. Like Dessler, I was concerned about Singer’s statement that SHS was a “myth” and all the rest of his tap dancing around about whether tobacco was bad for humans in any of its forms.

    Go back and read M of D—-have you read it?—-and the tobacco legacy documents—the SHS issue is a small part of the whole. Singer hangs his hat on statistical inadequacies in the EPA study but says “How do I know?” when asked if SHS (or tobacco) is bad for you? Ho0w can he say he doesn’t know at the same time he says it’s a myth? Later he says “it’s not healthy”. And his attempts to deny any links between his tobacco whoring and his AGW whoring are just plain sad. Sorry, but IMO he was “wandering”, and he should have stayed home.

    I am reminded of Dave Burton’s constant prattling about that sea level gauge in Duck, NC that PROVED sea level rise was of no concern while ignoring all sorts of other evidence. I see a parallel with the EPA study business.

  7. anotheralionel Says:

    There are a number of other books worth reading around the topic of the campaign to derail sensible measure for avoiding adverse climate developments and the bought scientists that were employed and how they carried out their campaigns of confusion.

    I guess that most here are familiar with these but one worth a reminder is the late Stephan H Schneider and his ‘Science as a Contact Sport’ lays out the calumny on pages 120-121, 122, 123. On page 122 he cites Ross Gelbspan’s ‘The Heat Is On’.

    I have just discovered that Google is being rather coy about displaying this section of content on their Google books facility.

    Using the following strings as search, being specified within quotes at that,

    “Scientists like climatologist Patrick J Michaels and environmental science professor S. Fred Singer” from page 120

    brings up on Google books the notification that Pages 121 to 136 are not shown in this preview.


    “Journalist Ross Gelbspan wrote a book called The Heat Is On” from page 122

    fails to find any text within Schneider but offers an non viewable Gelbspan.

    I have not had such occurrences with other similar searches.

    Lindzen has already been mentioned elsewhere but others such as Robert Balling, Craig Idso (CO2 Science – how often have I seen that cited by ignorati deniers) and ‘the 17000 signatories to Dr. Arthur Robinson’s Petition Project’ have also been mentioned in that IREA Memo nugget.

  8. Fred was already gone years ago, when he claimed Frederick Seitz as SEPP Chairman for 2 years after Seitz had died. Board meetings must have been interesting.

    SEPP is a 501(c)(3), so donors to Fred’s work get a tax break to help him do what he does.

    Singer of course was clueless about SHS and admitted it.
    SHS effects are rather well-established: Search the 2014 Surgeon General report for secondhand … ~600 hits.

    That didn’t stop him from being a paid accomplice to the largest mass murderers in human history, who stay in business only by addicting people during adolescent brain development (~12-24) to something that will eventually kill many of them, often in long, agonizing fashion.

  9. […] the tobacco lawsuits of the 90s, that some of the very same “think” tanks and even the very same individuals who loyally parroted that tobacco was perfectly fine for you, moved on to insist that there’s […]

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