Early reports that a new “Oregon Petition” is now circulating are now confirmed. Attached to this post, you can find a copy of the pitch letter, the petition statement and the heavily manipulated “science” article on which it is all based.
This exercise is so flawed that it’s hard to know what demands criticism the most. First, the whole exercise is being pushed by Arthur B. Robinson, the survivalist, Darwin skeptic and proprietor of something called the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. The “scientific” article on which the petition rests is authored by Robinson, his son Noah, and the American Petroleum Industry-funded Willie Soon, none of whom could hope to get their climate work published in a peer-reviewed science journal.
Apparently bent on meeting the same high standards as the last petition (which included “signatories” ranging from fictional TV character Perry Mason to Spice Girl, Geri Halliwell), the promoters have broadcast this version far and wide.
“It’s pathetic that they’re so desperate to show that any scientist supports their position that they’re even contacting random graduate students in tangentially and unrelated fields.” – Sean Lake, graduate student in the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy.
But most offensive is the use, once again, of the 96-year-old Dr. Fred Seitz as the lead signatory. Seitz was once a widely respected scientist; he’s a former President of the National Academy of Sciences and a one-time President of Rockefeller University. But he fell from grace in the 1970s when he signed on as chief scientist for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco company. He fell then further in 1989 when Alexander Holtzman at Philip Morris complained in an internal memo that “Dr. Seitz is quite elderly and not sufficiently rational to offer advice.”
So, 18 years ago, Seitz was “not sufficiently rational” to meet the lenient scientific standards of the tobacco industry, but today, Art Robinson still feels it’s ethical to send out a petition over Seitz’s signature on one of the most pressing current scientific issues of the day.
Clearly, shame is a concept still unexplored by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.