Sunday, November 23, 2008

So that's where the junk mail came from

Rabett readers are without doubt familiar with the Oregon Petition Project. As a matter of fact, Eli himself has been rumored to have written some about it. Greenfyre points to an article from eSkeptic by Gary J. Whittenberger which is worth reading for itself, but answers an interesting question about Arthur Robinson's provocation

....we must first examine how the petition itself was distributed and how signatures were collected. To a sample of persons on the mailing list of American Men and Women of Science,3 Robinson sent a petition packet consisting of a petition card, a return envelope, a cover letter from Seitz, and a 12-page review of the literature on the human-caused global warming hypothesis authored by the two Robinsons and Willie Soon.4
Arthur Robinson not only requested that recipients return the signed petition card, if they agreed with its assertions, but also arranged for the recipients to distribute petition packets to their colleagues. He also enabled other persons to obtain petition packets by simply requesting them through his website, and this procedure ultimately produced five percent of the returned petition cards. Thus, signed petitions were solicited in three different ways.
Robinson claims that
Signed petition cards were accepted only if they came from persons who had “obtained formal educational degrees at the level of Bachelor of Science or higher in appropriate scientific fields”.5
although there is clear reason to doubt that

Eli can now rest easy and let the bunnies discuss this further


amoeba said...

The OISM garbage keeps on resurfacing as 'evidence' that proves [well you know the rest].

As a non scientist, it beggars belief that any scientist in any discipline who gave this garbage the slightest scrutiny, would realise that it's cherry-picked dross. When I first encountered the 'review', I started dissecting it and while I missed some of the deceit, I soon spotted the tell-tale signs of red herrings.

The numbers claimed as signatories seems huge and one can only presume that the numbers claimed have been fraudulently exaggerated. I can understand some busy out-of-specialty scientists being genuinely duped [as was the clear intent] by the deceit of former NAS President Seitz himself clearly intending to pass it off as a reprint of a peer-reviewed article from the National Academy.

Surely, one warning sign would be that none of the authors of any version is a climate scientist.

Of course, non specialists could easily miss some of the deceit and chicanery, but it's so full of bullshit, that it reeks!

Anonymous said...

My favorite fact about the OISM is that it's signed by some corporations. How does a corporation sign a petition???

Anonymous said...

The part that always makes me laugh is:

"Computer and mathematical sciences includes 903 scientists trained in computer and mathematical methods. Since the human-caused global warming hypothesis rests entirely upon mathematical computer projections and not upon experimental observations, these sciences are especially important in evaluating this hypothesis."

Even if the last part was true, the idea that computer scientists are "important", let alone qualified, to evaluate the theory is ridiculous.

"Physics and aerospace sciences include 5,691 scientists trained in the fundamental physical and molecular properties of gases, liquids, and solids, which are essential to understanding the physical properties of the atmosphere and Earth"

They may be essential but they don't mean the holder understands the atmosphere and Earth.

"4. Chemistry includes 4,796 scientists trained in the molecular interactions and behaviors of the substances of which the atmosphere and Earth are composed."

This is the one I quote when someone cites the oregon petition. It nails how stupid the whole thing is.

"6. Medicine includes 3,069 scientists trained in the functional and environmental requirements of human beings on the Earth."

Another stupid one.

"8. Plumbers includes 9,999 scientists trained trained in the molecular interactions and behaviors of water, of which the atmosphere and Earth are largely composed"

Ok I made that last one up.

But you have to ask, why didn't they include social scientists given their excuse for inclusion of #6?

Anonymous said...

Oh and of course many, if not most, of the signers are not and never were scientists.

Robert Grumbine said...

I took a couple of looks at the OISM petition a while back, at my blog. See 'petitioning on science', parts 1 and 2, back in July.

amoeba: The numbers needn't be precisely fraudulent. I look in to whether the number of signers is 'large'. It isn't. Their trick wasn't so much fraudulent signatures (though I still object to including dead people) as to define 'scientist' so broadly that there are millions of potential signers. Out of those millions, they got junk mail response rates.

amoeba said...


Surely, there was a clear intent to deceive, which was spotted by the NAS which made the press release distancing themselves from Seitz and the OISM.

Robert Grumbine said...

No argument that they intend to deceive. Just pointing out that the signatures are likely mostly 'real' -- and underwhelming even if so.

Anonymous said...

I have a 60-person sample of the signatories of OISM at my website here. While it's refreshing to know that dead people, people who make smoke alarms, my cat's doctor, and a partridge in a pear tree think global warming is a scam, I was unable to find any actual people in the climate science field.

Jim Prall said...

Dear Eli & fellow climate bunnies:

Regretably, I glanced at the talk page for Wikipedia's List of Climate Skeptics, and found fresh droppings pointing out this "Minority Report" page:


Help! It looks like Mr. Morano is in full high dudgeon and is hoping to to message-bomb the climate talks with a freshly plumped list of mined quotes. The front page shows he's been hard at work, and the new quotes certainly say what he wants to hear.

For reference, I've been hard at work collating a list of the AR4 wg1 authors into an annotated table, as well as a photo montage, with links to their professional homepages plus stats on their citation counts (I'm about 2/3 done the stats - still plugging on that; the uncounted people are at the end, alphabetically.) Here's a link:

Top-cited climate scientists

I've done four variants: HTML table of just AR4wg1, another of around 1350 names including wg1 plus co-authors and other names I've hand-gathered; then two pages of just the photos of same (one AR4 only and one of the larger set). The photo montage is aimed at the right brain, to get a feel for the reality of just how many people this is, that they all have faces -- and professional affiliations with a web presence.

I found photos for about 560 of the 619 AR4wg1. The missing are largely those at the Tyndall Centre/MetOffice, or the US Navy, where personal pages are either discouraged or forbidden; plus many NOAA researchers who toil anonymously without a personal page or mugshot.

Let me know if these pages look useful, and what suggestions you have for improvements.

Jim Prall
Toronto, Canada

Robert Grumbine said...

I think the photos are eminently skippable (a reason you may not be able to find one of me).

The citation-oriented indices, however, look interesting and useful. I'd put in some cautions about using google scholar for this sort of thing. Running it on myself, I get 15 returns, 7 to peer-reviewed journal papers, several for citations to the papers by other people, and a conference abstract or two. It also seems to be missing some of my peer-reviewed papers, and definitely missing a couple of my notes that were not officially peer-reviewed but which have been cited (favorably, I'll add) in the peer-reviewed literature. My 4 top-cited papers, according to google scholar, have 58, 31, 13, 8 citations.

It is striking, and worth following up in the Web of Science, that it appears that Timothy Ball (one of the early names with zero citations to his 4th paper) has been, nominally at least, in the field at least as long as I, and only 3 papers of his have ever been cited by anybody [that google scholar noticed, and it is not the best source on this].

More importantly, though, zero citations to a paper more than a couple of years old is a very bad sign. Nobody, anywhere, found your work interesting enough for it to influence their work. Every peer-reviewed paper I've ever been involved with has been cited. Not just cited, but cited by someone who wasn't either me or my coauthor(s) (if any). Plus a couple of non-peer reviewed articles of mine that are also cited. (One is well up my list for citation frequency -- I really should have submitted it to the peer-reviewed literature! :-) my circumstances suggested not to.)