Saturday, March 04, 2006

It's a really thin bench over there at Denial Central....

I've been wondering for quite some time why you see the same "scientists" on the denial side for every science related issue: tobacco, climate change, ozone, cancer, acid rain, whatever. There are some easy answers, money, fame, attention, and you know some of the easy answers make sense, but there is also something deeper that needs to be thought about. I know scientists in senior positions who are politically far, far to the right of George Bush, but they are very straight on their science. I can disagree with their science, and we talk about the scientific reasons for their opinions and mine. They go where the facts are on science and I do too. I know some scientists whose politics are on the left, in senior positions who let their politics creep into their science or at least the policy related parts of it, but they confine their science to their own areas, and don't try to be polymaths (the big exception would be Noam Chomsky). In any case, this needs more thought and research.

Recently I started to get into the issue in comments on Prometheus. Steve Hemphill played interlocutor. I said that Singer, Seitz and Lindzen, were for reasons I didn't much understand, into both tobacco and climate denial and pointed to the tobacco document depository, the trove of documents uncovered in litigation about how the tobacco industry suppressed information about the health effects of their products and used public relations campaigns to confuse the issue. It was trivial to show that Frederick Seitz was a key player, but Steve Hemphill keeps trying to play nyah, nyah and wanted evidence that Fred Singer was also involved (The poster hank on Prometheus showed that Lindzen is one of those who denies the ill effects of environmental tobacco smoke). I spent some time last night going through the tobacco documents and came upon this interesting set which definitively illuminates the astroturf industry at its most effective

S. Fred Singer played a key role in their attempts to deny the harm from environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)

A FAX to Bill Orzechowski, Chief Economist of the Tobacco Institute from the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (AdTI) with S. Fred Singer’s resume. Notation in the margin is a note to Sam, probably Samuel D. Chilcote, Jr, President of the Tobacco Institute, from W. Woodson probably Walter Woodson, Vice President-Public Affairs of the Tobacco Institute. It says (about Singer)
Here is the man who will handle the EPA/ETS (illegible) work Brennon wants for us on the “social costs". Very impressive resume. I think the project is worth the 20K we discussed. Agree?.

Brennon is probably Brennon Dawson (Moran?), assistant to the president of the Tobacco Institute.
The $20K is handed over and acknowledged in a letter from Ceasar Conda, Executive Director of the AdTI to Walter Woodson
On behalf of the directors of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, I would like to thank the Tobacco Institute for its grant of $20,000 to support our research and education projects. IRS regulations require us to inform you in writing that we received your tax deductible $20,000.00 donation (check # 016214) today.
This was not the only source of tobacco funding for AdTI so we are not talking about a mere $20K
Pg 83: "TI's chief economist works closely with leading figures at the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (AdTI). Some member companies support the organization. Opinions expressed and promoted by AdTI frequently support industry arguments on economic and other matters."
The product was a report from AdTI
DRAFT ONLY The EPA and the Science of Environmental Tobacco Smoke Introduction by S. Fred Singer and Kent Jeffreys

Found in Walter Woodson’s files - Executive Committee Mailings & Meetings 5/94-- 12/94, which, if you think that the Alexis de Tocquville Institution was an independent think tank, was an odd place to find it, but as we have seen, it is much more likely that this report was a bought and paid for piece of astroturf.
And, of course, the public announcement of the AdTI "independent" scientific study by two members of the US Congress, John Mica (R) and Peter Geren (D). Singer has gone from Author in the draft to Principal Reviewer in the final document. This has mislead a number of people on both sides of the divide as to how central Singer was to the project. The disinfopedia gets it more or less right
For example, from the anti-smoking side
In 1994 Cesar Conda was executive director of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution listed as "Senior Staff and Contributing Associates" on a Lorillard Tobacco Company paid-for publication titled "Science, Economics, and Environmental Policy" by author Kent Jeffreys. [1] Principal Reviewer was listed as S. Fred Singer, and to give this propagandistic tract a sheen of scientific appearance, a loaded gang of "experts" from assorted tobacco-funded front organizations with impressive names was listed: SEPP, Hoover Institution, John M. Olin Center for Policy, George Mason University.

1 comment:

ankh said...

The publications based on the Tobacco Archives are endlessly fascinating; Medline's a good place to look for them. Have you invited Dr. Glantz to drop in here?