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Climate science disinformer Richard Lindzen accuses colleagues of “overt cheating”

By Joe Romm on November 17, 2010 at 12:49 pm

"Climate science disinformer Richard Lindzen accuses colleagues of “overt cheating”"

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Richard Lindzen routinely accuses scientists, even his close friends, of scientific misfeasance, based on no evidence whatsoever (see Kerry Emanuel asserts Lindzen charge is “pure fabrication”).

So it’s no surprise that in written testimony for a congressional hearing on the state of climate science that comes on the one-year anniversary of the hacking of climate scientist emails, Dr. Lindzen of MIT accuses his colleages of academic corruption.  Brad Johnson has the low lights.

Lindzen, a right-wing ideologue who has also argued on behalf of corporations that cigarettes are safe and CFCs don’t hurt the ozone layer, was asked to testify by the Republican minority, dominated by global warming deniers.

Lindzen cites “climategate” as proof of “overt cheating” and claims “so-called climate science” is actually “science in the service of politics.” Although he concedes that manmade global warming is “trivially true,” Lindzen essentially argues that as long as you ignore the data that indicates CO2-driven global warming, you can’t find CO2-driven global warming.

Other lowlights of Lindzen’s testimony:

- Argues that the deceased Steven Schneider, one of the most influential climate researchers up to the time of his death this year, was not an “active contributor” to climate science

- Calls the global surface temperature anomaly an “obscure statistical quantity.”

- Claims “so-called climate science” is actually “science in the service of politics.”

- Says climate science “has become a quasi-religious issue.”

- Says “climategate” is one of several “instances of overt cheating.”

- “I am quite willing to state that unprecedented climate catastrophes are not on the horizon.”

Of course, Lindzen’s testimony somehow manages to ignore the crushing weight of scientific research finding dramatic, unprecedented changes in the natural world in all realms, including (for just one example) the freak Russian heat wave and associated Asian monsoon which killed over 60,000 people this summer during the hottest year on record.

Lindzen’s own work carries all the hallmarks of the crimes he plants on the rest of his colleagues “” science designed to get pre-determined results driven by political ideology.

– Brad Johnson, in a Wonk Room cross-post.

JR:  Lindzen could not be more discredited:

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38 Responses to Climate science disinformer Richard Lindzen accuses colleagues of “overt cheating”

  1. Jose says:

    – Says climate science “has become a quasi-religious issue.”

    Actualy he’s right on that point. There are those who reject AGW because they feel god wouldn’t allow such a thing to happen.

  2. John Mason says:

    Just reading through Lindzen’s PDF.

    It is like Monckton minus the pink portcullis!!

    I also note he plays the game of extending the timescales of temperature and ice-cover graphs further and further back until to an untrained eye there does not appear to be a slope (there is).

    But I’m no longer shocked by such stuff – I’ve seen so much of it over the years. Mounting a better, fact-based counter-attack is the important thing – like Pete Sinclair is doing so well. We need more like that.

    Cheers – John

  3. toby says:

    Lindzen is a woeful hypocrite. His strike against Schneider might be payback for the unflattering portrait Schneider gave of him in his book.

    At the moment, I am listening to Pat Michaels, pseudo-scientist with the Cato Institute, pontificate about “Eurasian forests which flourished in the Arctic for 2,000 years”. The scientists are patient men to put up with such a pompous ass.

    My funny moment came when Michaels declared that Lindzen, Roy Spencer “and many others” have calculated low values for climate sensitivity. Pity no one asked him “who are the others”?

  4. Michael Tucker says:

    Those folks need to look at what God HAS allowed to happen. It seems to me God has been testing humans since Eden and humans have consistently come up short. Free will can be a bitch.

    I am still picking up pieces of my head after listening to the exchange between Rohrabacher and Lindzen.

  5. Bob Doublin says:

    Will someone just go ahead and sue this asshole and make him prove it in a court of law? I’ll contribute $25/month towards legal fees if others pledge with me.

  6. Lars Karlsson says:

    And here is Curry’s testimony, which seems like a cut-n-paste job from her blog.

  7. Bob Doublin says:

    “even his close friends, of scientific misfeasance, based on no evidence whatsoever (see Kerry Emanuel asserts Lindzen charge is “pure fabrication”).”

    Why are they remaining his CLOSE friend??!? I wouldn’t put up with such abuse and I’m a pretty passive-aggressive wimp in my personal life.

  8. Robert Brulle says:

    Can’t he be sued for slander or libel?

  9. Sasparilla says:

    Wow, argued that CFC’s weren’t harming the ozone layer (one of the few) and cigarettes were safe…this guy is a real piece of work. A true shill. Back for a helping at the climate change trough.

    More churn as part of the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) brigade…unfortunately, our media culture makes these disinformers get news (since it generates controversy) but any followup to show this guy is a purveyor of falsehoods gets no coverage (wouldn’t with Fox since they choose their speakers to fit a message) and so his made up manure gets an air of validity in the eyes of the unsuspecting public.

    Its very difficult to have much of an effective defense against this – because of the way the system works. In the mean time another layer of confusion, doubt and delay are layed down. Its hard to see this ending even after its too late (these guys will be saying things are okay even more forcefully at that point, IMHO).

  10. Chris Winter says:

    I am not a lawyer, but depending on the specifics of what he stated (which I haven’t read yet), Lindzen may well have opened himself up to those charges.

    One thing I think is beyond dispute: with the statements quoted above, Lindzen has jumped the shark and can justifiably be referred to, in blog comments at least, without his honorific “Dr.”

  11. Albert says:

    More “preemptive projection,” the favorite rhetorical device of people who know they are wrong.

  12. Mimikatz says:

    One key to understanding hard-core Republicans is that they often resort to projection, that is, projecting onto others faults, actions or desires they cannot admit in themselves. So when they accuse others of something, particualrly if it is untrue, it is a pretty good bet that it is something they have done or want to do. This seems to work with climate deniers as well.

  13. Colorado Bob says:

    It’s a big roll out …….

    How to live with climate change

    By Bjorn Lomborg
    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/16/AR2010111606123.html

  14. mike roddy says:

    Lindzen should be asked in cross examination if he also atill believes cigarettes are not very dangerous.

  15. Bryson Brown says:

    At what point does this kind of crap become actionable? There have been nuisance lawsuits here in Canada against people who dared to question the claims and actions of some deniers. When will someone targeted by Lindzen’s absurd accusations challenge him in court? I’d be glad (delighted) to contribute to such a case.

  16. OregonStream says:

    Maybe you’re right, Sasparilla, but isn’t misleading congress subject to penalty if a case could be made? It’s interesting, though, how he and his ilk love to play on uncertainties (even where they aren’t big enough to justify a gamble), but then we see confident statements like “I am quite willing to state that unprecedented climate catastrophes are not on the horizon.” I guess that might depend on how you define an “unprecedented catastrophe”. In the context of the biodiverse, populous holocene, and the standards of living many have come to expect, I’d say even mid-range climate projections would qualify.

  17. MapleLeaf says:

    From an email sent from Lindzen to Anthony Watts:

    “Look at the attached. There has been no warming since 1997 and no statistically significant warming since 1995. Why bother with the arguments about an El Nino anomaly in 1998? (Incidentally, the red fuzz represents the error ‘bars’.)

    Best wishes,

    Dick

    ==================================================
    Richard S. Lindzen Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences MIT Cambridge,
    MA 02139 USA”

    Here Lindzen is coaching Watts on how to avoid obtaining a statistical significant (at 95% level of confidence) warming trend in the HadCRUT data. This trick was then used widely by skeptics to make the (false) assertion that it has not warmed since 1995. The email can be found on WUWT.

    I do not know what others call this, but in my opinion, it is cheating, some might even claim it is evidence of scientific misconduct by Lindzen.

  18. Richard Brenne says:

    I’d also buy this Dick a carton of cigarettes a day.

  19. Barry says:

    I think Lindzen be asked his opinion on tobacco and ozone-layer policy actions…NOT what his personal beliefs are on the subject.

    “Dr. Lindzen, you have been skeptical about health effects of tobacco, so do you believe governments and health care profession should stop all their policies to discourage smoking and second-hand smoke exposure?”

    “Dr. Lindzen, you have been skeptical about CFCs causing ozone damage, so do you believe nations and industry should abandon their efforts to prevent the release of CFCs and other compounds that could effect the ozone layer?”

    I’d love to see a specific list of popular and effective smoking and cfc policies handed to Lindzen so he could check off the ones he believes should be canceled. Disincentive taxes on tobacco to prevent teen smoking? Policies to prevent kids from breathing high levels of cigarette smoke? Montreal Protocol that reduced CFCs?

    It reminds me of the GOP mantra of “cut the budget”…where they refuse to specify an actual example of a program or policy they want to abandon. Why? Because people like most specific programs.

    Likewise, if Lindzen is on record as attacking specific anti-smoking or anti-CFC programs, which are also very popular, he will be discredited rapidly in people’s minds as a dangerous crank.

    Pin him down on policy ramifications of his outlier personal opinions.

  20. Steven Leibo says:

    What strikes me as the core problem is that Lindzen carries with him not only his own name but the enormous prestige of MIT (which I am sure Joe appreciates) and yet MIT has a very impressive program on climate science that I am sure gets a whole lot less public notice than Lindzen himself.

    http://globalchange.mit.edu/

  21. David B. Benson says:

    Lindzen has gone emeritus? Somehow he seems to evil for such a mild form of premature dementia.

  22. Windsong says:

    I wonder how much he’s paid by Exxonmobile(?!)

  23. Susan Anderson says:

    I’d like some statistics on how many deniers (not just of climate science) are smokers. Anyone?

  24. Prokaryotes says:

    Dr. Richard S. Lindzen ( b. February 8, 1940) is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[1]

    He is one of the leading global warming skeptics and is a member of the Science, Health, and Economic Advisory Council, of the Annapolis Center[1], a Maryland-based think tank which has been funded by corporations including ExxonMobil.

    Lindzen’s Fossil Fuel Interests Funding

    In a biographical note at the foot of a column published in Newsweek in 2007, Lindzen wrote that “his research has always been funded exclusively by the U.S. government. He receives no funding from any energy companies.” (Emphasis added).[10]

    Ross Gelbspan, journalist and author, wrote a 1995 article in Harper’s Magazine which was critical of Lindzen and other global warming skeptics. In the article, Gelbspan reports Lindzen charged “oil and coal interests $2,500 a day for his consulting services; [and] his 1991 trip to testify before a Senate committee was paid for by Western Fuels and a speech he wrote, entitled ‘Global Warming: the Origin and Nature of Alleged Scientific Consensus,’ was underwritten by OPEC.”[11]

    A decade later Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam reported, based on an interview with Lindzen, that “he accepted $10,000 in expenses and expert witness fees from fossil- fuel types in the 1990s, and has taken none of their money since.”

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Richard_S._Lindzen

    What a fraud!

  25. Chris Winter says:

    Bryson Brown wrote (#15): “At what point does this kind of crap become actionable? There have been nuisance lawsuits here in Canada against people who dared to question the claims and actions of some deniers. When will someone targeted by Lindzen’s absurd accusations challenge him in court? I’d be glad (delighted) to contribute to such a case.”

    Caution is advisable in such matters. The other side can muster plenty of funding, which could determine the outcome.

    Consider the British suit brought by Stewart Dimmock against An Inconvenient Truth. The judgement went against Dimmock, but not completely; and he was awarded two-thirds of his court costs (about 200,000 pounds). That case is still falsely touted by Denialists as if AIT was discredited. It would never have gone to trial without generous funding by vested interests.

    An even more object lesson is the legal battle between Justin Lancaster and S. Fred Singer. Lancaster was Roger Revelle’s teaching assistant, and he became convinced (rightly) that Singer had misrepresented Revelle’s views in a paper they (nominally) co-authored. He sued Singer to get Revelle’s name taken off the paper; Singer countersued for defamation and prevailed, being better funded.

    Oreskes and Conway cover the latter case well in Merchants of Doubt. A brief account is here:

    http://www.chris-winter.com/Erudition/Reviews/Oreskes_Conway/Roger_and_Him.html

  26. Jeffrey Davis says:

    As for a potential law suit against Lindzen, IIRC, you can’t libel or slander a group. Or the dead.

  27. James Crabb says:

    Lindzen use Global temperature data that stops in the eighties, seems prett comfortable in presenting blatant misinformation.

  28. Things aren’t much better north of your border. A climate change bill that passed our elected House of Commons just got killed today by our Conservative-dominated unelected Senate without debate, the first time this has happened in at least 70 years!

    Check out http://www.cleanbreak.ca for the sorry, shameful details.

  29. Wes Rolley says:

    @4 Any conversation with Rohrabacher will give you a headache. Remember that his start in politics came with money from an old libertarian pal named Charles Koch. We lost the chance to take out Crazy Dana when the mayor of his home town (Huntington Beach, CA), Debbie Cook, could not quite pull it off. Debbie is now with the Postcarbon Institute Board. http://www.postcarbon.org/speaker/36228-debbie-cook

    This is only the beginning. There is much more to come. Having watch how the late, but not lamented, Resources Committee Chair, Richard Pombo manipulated committee hearings by controlling who gets to testify, I can tell you that it will be a blood letting and truth may not survive.

  30. Richard Brenne says:

    What I do think is that certain smart people are natural contrarians. You say X and they’ll say Y. Say Y and they’ll say X. It’s like every conversation or topic is a chess match to them. Like lawyers, many of them don’t seem to even care so much what side they’re on. It’s all just a game to enlarge their already enlarged egos, to win whatever verbal battle they’re fighting without a thought to what “winning” might mean – in this case the premature deaths and endless suffering of billions.

    Lindzen has already done this in relation to smoking and cancer, so he’s done his part to ensure the suffering and premature deaths of millions. Lindzen has been known to say there’s no relation between smoking and cancer while taking a long drag from a cigarette and blowing the smoke into the questioner’s face. What a guy! Can you see Jim Hansen, Bill McKibben, Kevin Trenberth or anyone else on the side of communicating climate change doing anything remotely similar?

    Freeman Dyson is another example of this. When he took a cross-country automobile trip with the undeniably brilliant Richard Feynman, Dyson saw that he could never be that brilliant and so he dedicated himself to being a lifelong contrarian in physics, which within physics was a very good thing.

    The problem is that brilliant people usually have outsized egos and when they think they know more than every expert in every field, or in any other field, they become nothing but cantankerous, crotchety curmudgeons and cranks. When their mental skills deteriorate, only their egos remain.

    As they’re losing it their egos are fighting for their prior status, which at one point was somewhat deserved and as they leave their field of expertise and spout nonsense they don’t deserve anything but ridicule and scorn. As far as other scientists have told me, Lindzen’s contributions mostly came in the 1960s, over four decades ago.

    Among climate change deniers the physicists (and never anything approaching climate scientists) Freeman Dyson and Harold Lewis (both 87) fit this category. Among hurricane forecasters (also not a field focused on climate change) William Gray (also in his 80s) fits that description.

    Among once-respected climate scientists, certainly Fred Singer fits this description. Singer is 86 and now makes a good point, like his book about “Unstoppable Global Warming,” every 1,500 years. Maybe Roger Pielke Sr and Judith Curry (64 and late 50s respectively) fit that description prematurely, but almost certainly the shining example in each of these categories is Lindzen (70), the ultimate Dick.

  31. [snip] Lindzen testifies before congress that modern thermometers are more sensitive to heat and less sensitive to cold.

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/296637-1 about 23 mins in.

  32. Anne says:

    It is most offensive that Dick Lindzen disparages Steve Schneider, whose herculean record on climate science and the communication of it is undeniable, admirable, the stuff of awards and medals. Schneider was a hero, and led the life of champion, a fearless leader, among scientists gaining a better understanding of our climate system.

    Lindzen has stooped to a new low; and all I can do now is wonder, what evil lurks in men’s souls such that they would speak so poorly of someone so great? That he/they would fabricate lies about something so crucial to all of life? With this sort of dark force lurking about, indeed, we are all in grave danger. Or so it feels.

    The disinfecting bright lights of this blog, Brad Johnson’s excellent reporting, and others, are beacons that provide hope, give some credence to the notion that the “good guys” — the truth-tellers — will prevail. But, will it be too late? Can anyone explain the motivation for such pathetic, deviant behavior? Is it simply greed? Ignorance? Ego? Fear? Somehow, at this moment in human history, it seems more sinister than that, and I cannot fathom it.

    Part of me thinks that if we can better understand these motives, perhaps even using psychological and other techniques, that we will better understand how to neutralize their destructive power in the world. It seems to me that, now, more than ever, we need new tools in our toolbox for defending messengers of truth and fact, and thus the message, and disarming those who deliberately undermine them. It’s time to get creative.

    The stakes are simply too high to continue on with our current pattern — the yes-it-is-no-it-isn’t model of communication exhibited today in these hearings, it clearly isn’t working. We need something new, something different, something that gets us out of this mess we’re in. But what?

  33. Prokaryotes on Lindzen’s funding and denial of source, are there no ‘conflict of interest’ clauses that can be invoked to throw out Lindzen’s testimony, and that of Michaels too for that matter. Lindzen is also demonstrably an unreliable witness going on his record WRT his statements on the sources of his funding (h/t Barry above), that is surely another reason for a strike out.

  34. Prokaryotes says:

    Lionel A Smith, sure this would be nice, but the main culprit originates from big oil companies which support denial of climate change. Which fund politics, write law’s and manipulate progress for the survival of the species.

    This artificial skepticism must be not tolerated by law. The political spectrum which is influenced must not be part of this, because it will backfire sooner or later.

  35. J Bowers says:

    Climate science disinformer Richard Lindzen accuses colleagues of “overt cheating”

    Lindzen & Choi (2009) anyone?

  36. Bob Doublin says:

    and #30: how interesting that he waits until Schneider’s safely dead.
    This man needs to be shunned completely. And Curry also.

  37. If Rohrabacher is any indication of the sort of Republican who will be on the planned witch-hunt committees, why then, how will said persons even be able to ask a cogent question, much less understand the response?

  38. MightyDrunken says:

    richard pauli wrote:
    “Lindzen testifies before congress that modern thermometers are more sensitive to heat and less sensitive to cold.

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/296637-1 about 23 mins in.”

    It is about 50 mins in. I can’t understand why Lindzen said that. Does he think that anything he says people will believe?

    There again looking at “Watts Up With That?” maybe many people do. The people there loved his testimony. Yet I find him boring and think if he is a scientist why are his facts so skewed and why does he attack other scientists rather than letting his theories speak for themselves?