Thursday, March 5, 2015

Willie Soon as Traitor to Humanity

Been trying to sidestep the Dr. Willie Soon kerfuffle since I'm already drowning in projects.  Besides, I started doing reviews on his words a couple times, last time even completing my transcription phase of a talk, but by then I was so upset, the guy is such a ruthless dirty player, that I put the project away because I didn't need to deal with the upset and depression.  My feelings haven't changed, but since this Soon certainly belongs in my rogue's gallery of Traitors to Humanity (that would be our younger generations.) I've taken the time to do a lot of cutting and pasting from a handful of recent articles, plus a list of's collection of posts that relate to Soon's faux science going back to 2011.  

I like to think of it as my Willie Soon Information Kiosk.
{hat tip to Darron}

Doubling down on doubt.
by Peter Dykstra | March 5, 2015 | The Daily Climate

Cry for me, Willie Soon
by Greg Laden on March 3, 2015 |

Willie Soon saga

The Soon fallacy
Gavin Schmidt | February 24 2015 |

Things just got very hot for climate deniers’ favorite scientist
By Terrence McCoy | February 23, 2015 | Washington Post

The collection of articles looking at Soon's science.

By Peter Dykstra | March 5, 2015
Environmental Health News/The Daily Climate

Swift support from the denial community for Willie Soon reflects a disregard for self-policing.

The most remarkable aspect of Willie Soon’s soiled science scandal is that in the light of damning evidence of a serious ethical lapse, the climate denial camp shows no interest in self-policing.

When documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act showed Soon was promising “deliverables” for climate research funded by fossil fuel affiliates, the judgment outside the climate denial sphere was swift, largely because the evidence was from Soon’s own hand.

But many who embrace climate denial not only saw nothing wrong with this, they circled the wagons around their embattled Man of Science.
Many who embrace climate denial not only saw nothing wrong with this, they circled the wagons around their embattled Man of Science. 

Soon crossed what most scientists believe are several inviolable ethical lines. While academia doesn’t generally disdain funding from parties who may have an economic or ideological stake in the outcome, transparency is key. Soon, via his unpaid climate-related research with the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, failed to reveal on multiple papers that his climate change-related publications were largely bankrolled by Exxon Mobil, Southern Company, and the Charles Koch Foundation.

He also gushed about how the results would please prospective funders. "I have a big super-duper paper soon to be accepted on how the sun affects the climate system,” he wrote to a Southern Company sponsor. Southern is the biggest electric utility in the Southeast U.S., is heavily coal-dependent, and clearly would have something to gain should a scientific paper throw the sun under the bus for what the vast majority of scientists believe to be fossil fuel-driven climate change.

The Climate Investigations Center and Greenpeace* obtained and released the documents. Some climate activists crowed. Editorial pages scowled. The Smithsonian promised a swift investigation.

Soon's defenders, meanwhile, pulled out what is now a reliable playbook for conservatives confronted with accusations of errors, omissions and downright lies: They doubled down and went on the attack.

The Heartland Institute, which has listed Soon as an in-house expert, took the reins as his communications clearinghouse, releasing Soon’s official statement on its website along with a volley of counterattack. Heartland chief Joe Bast called climate scientists and advocates “mental midgets.” To be fair, that may signal a softening of Heartland’s hard line, since three years ago they were likening their foes to mass murderer Ted Kaczynski.

The site was particularly unhinged in its response. The release of Soon’s own documents was a “crucifixion”, and reporting on the documents by The New York Times was a “hit piece” and a “smear.” Congressman Joe Sestak (D-Penn.) was singled out for the offense of re-tweeting the Times story. (Heartland’s Bast co-authored the “crucifixion” piece.)

Fox News took a more passive stance, deploying crickets. ...

O’Reilly might be excused for skipping the Soon story. Like Soon’s supporters, he’s busy doubling down to defend against his own accusers’ allegations that he embellished his own war-correspondent stories.

And in that is an illustrative lesson in how climate denial and American conservatism became inseparable: Doubling down against critics is the standard defense, no matter how demonstrable the evidence is against you. It’s what Dick Cheney did on his whirlwind media tour last December, in which he defended both the Iraq war and the use of torture by American intelligence officials. It’s what Pat Michaels, another widely-cited skeptical scientist, did when soliciting coal producers’ money back in 2006. And it’s what Oliver North, the Grandpappy of modern-day doubling down, did in the late 1980’s when he was caught at the center of the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. He became a hero to millions of Americans. ...

*I used to work for Greenpeace in the 1980’s. That’s full disclosure, Willie.

EHN welcomes republication of our stories, but we require that publications include the author's name and Environmental Health News at the top of the piece, along with a link back to EHN's version.

{Find the complete story at:}


Posted by Greg Laden on March 3, 2015 |

And by “me” I mean all the children of future generations.

Willie Soon is a soft-money scientist at Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who has been producing highly questionable ‘science’ casting, for several years, faux light on the reality of the human caused process of global warming. It appears that most or all of Soon’s funding came directly or indirectly from the fossil fuel industry or supporters of that industry. Recently the dung has struck the rotating blades ...

Even though Soon is ensconced at Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics he recently made a public written statement about his situation and chose to convey that statement via the Heartland Institute. ... Soon’s statement reads: ...

... Soon’s reference to ad hominem is misguided. People are saying “Your science sucks. And your ethics are questionable.” The ad hominem fallacy would apply here only if people were saying “Your science sucks because your ethics suck.” No, his science does not stand on its own. ...

... Just to be clear, there really is no question that Soon failed to disclose funding sources in violation of journal policies and standard practice. ...

...If you produce research that asks questions of a widely held consensus, more power to you! You may well be making an important contribution. But if your research is shown to be seriously wanting time and time again, you may want to refer to that old adage of unknown attribution about doing the same thing that does not work over and over again. ...

... And now, for the last part of the statement:
Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Why is Willie Soon of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics releasing a statement indicating he is of that institution via the Heartland Institute, rather than from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics? 

{Read Soon's letter along with Laden's complete review at:}

Related posts:
  1. Willie Soon, will he soon be fired?
  2. Get your free #WillieSoonGate meme!
  3. Cry for me, Willie Soon
  4. Smithsonian issues statement on Willie Soon
  5. More Willie Soon
  6. Willie Soon Gate
  7. Science Denialists Have Delayed Action On Climate Change: Soon vs. the Hockey Stick
  8. Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for Soon
  9. Science Denialists Make Fake Journal, Get Shut Down.

Willie Soon saga

I was tempted to ignore the whole Willie Soon saga, but since everyone else is writing about it, I thought I would post something. Personally, I think academic freedom is extremely important. If someone can get funded to do research and can get their work published, good on them; that’s how it’s meant to work. There may be issues with peer review that could addressed and maybe we should be looking at how some journals operate, but none of that changes that people should be free to research whatever they want to (well, within the bounds of ethics). If, however, he didn’t disclose his funders and/or didn’t disclose possible conflicts of interest, that is a serious issue and should be addressed. I have a feeling, however, that this may reflect as badly on the Smithsonian as it does on Willie Soon himself.

One reason I don’t care greatly about this whole saga is that it’s fairly clear that Willie Soon’s research is mostly rubbish. I wrote about the recent Monckton, Soon, Legates and Briggs paper. Realclimate has a post pointing out the fallacy in some of his research. There’s the whole Soon and Baliunas controversy. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with some people publishing rubbish. Willie Soon is almost certainly not alone in doing so. …

...Academic freedom means that you have the freedom to do whatever research you want. It doesn’t mean that you get to do so and avoid criticism when it’s nonsense. I also see no reason why anyone who wants to be credible would be comfortable with Willie Soon’s research having the prominence it does, irrespective of their own views on global warming….

{read the full article}

gavin @ 24 February 2015 |

However, a valid question is whether the science that arose from these funds is any good? It’s certainly conceivable that Soon’s work was too radical for standard federal research programs and that these energy companies were really taking a chance on blue-sky high risk research that might have the potential to shake things up. In such a case, someone might be tempted to overlook the ethical lapses and conflicts of interest for the sake of scientific advancement (though far too many similar post-hoc justifications have been used to excuse horrific unethical practices for this to be remotely defendable).

Unfortunately, the evidence from the emails and the work itself completely undermines that argument because the work and the motivation behind it are based on a scientific fallacy.

Putting aside ..., most of Soon’s work has been related to finding correlations of a very specific solar reconstruction (see figure below) to some observational time-series. There are very real criticisms that can be made of the solar forcing time-series he uses, and of course, of the cherry picking of specific time-series without mentioning that correlations to others (such as the global mean) are very low, but even accepting all that, there is a much more fundamental problem.  

{read the full article}

By Terrence McCoy | February 23, 2015 | Washington Post

Wei-Hock Soon is always in hot demand. Among climate change skeptics, few commodities are rarer. Soon isn’t just a scientist. He’s a scientist who doubts climate change is man-made. Soon doesn’t work for just any university — he works for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. If you doubt man-made climate change, Soon isn’t just your man. He’s your high priest.

The Heartland Institute, a bastion of climate-change suspicion, has given him the “Courage in Defense of Science Award.” He has addressed the Kansas state legislature to rebut the overwhelming scientific consensus about man-made climate change. And he’s become something of a personal hero to conservative Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe (R), who maintains that climate change is a hoax. Soon is his evidence. “These are scientists that cannot be challenged,” Inhofe intoned last month. ...

His troubles began more than a decade ago, when as a young Harvard researcher he earned sweeping repudiation from the scientific community for announcing in a small research journal that “the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium.” Then, years later, reports showed large energy companies had underwritten some of Soon’s research. 

And from those most excellent archivers of climate science for the general lay-public

Skeptic arguments matching the search Willie Soon:
Blog posts matching the search Willie Soon:
  • 2 March 2015 by John Hartz
  • 2 March 2015 by dana1981
  • 1 March 2015 by John Hartz
  • 27 February 2015 by greenman3610
  • 26 February 2015 by John Hartz
  • 23 February 2015 by dana1981
  • 22 February 2015 by John Hartz
  • 31 January 2015 by John Hartz
  • 14 April 2014 by dana1981
  • 19 June 2013 by John Cook
  • 18 February 2013 by dana1981 — Unpublished
  • 13 July 2012 by dana1981
  • 6 June 2012 by dana1981
  • 18 May 2012 by Mark Boslough
  • 18 February 2012 by dana1981
  • 7 October 2011 by Captain Pithart
  • 20 June 2011 by John Cook
  • 5 April 2011 by John Cook
  • 9 March 2011 by Rob Honeycutt
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