Monday, 3 February 2014

Follow the money

Further to my blog post Some sceptics make it a habit to be wrong, I was interested to read When Skepticism Becomes Denial: The Unholy Alliance Between Science Denial Movements. Two quotes:
Many have observed that these various science denial and pseudoscience movements appear to have a common strategy and frequently have common funders. As Prothero notes, alluding to the famous line from the movie All the President's Men, "Follow the money," since these different types of denialism are "heavily funded by wealthy entities with vested interests that further their causes.” 
What is not as well appreciated, however, is the extent to which several of the science denial movements mentioned above were promoted by the same cast of characters, a fact that Naomi Oreskes makes clear in her book Merchants of Doubt. Fred Seitz, a retired physicist who is one of the leading questioners of the consensus regarding global warming, once campaigned against the consensus on tobacco smoke. Fred Singer, a retired rocket scientist, has opposed the scientific consensus on tobacco, acid rain, the ozone hole and, yes, global warming.
What I found most interesting about Seitz et al (sometimes it is embarrassing to be a physicist) is that their opposition has little to do with money, but is actually due to their opposition to communism (due to their Eastern European background, WWII and the Iron Curtain) and their fundamentalist libertarian viewpoint.

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