At the length truth will out

By Andy May

Some will recognize the title as part of a line by Launcelot Gobbo in Act II, scene 2 of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. In plainer and much less poetic language it means that the truth will be known eventually. The film version, with Al Pacino playing Shylock, is the best in my amateur opinion. The play is considered anti-semitic by some, but is actually a carefully considered analysis of bias and prejudice and their awful effect on people. It opens the dark world of prejudice to the light, uncovering it for all to see. It does this in the same way Huckleberry Finn opens the injustice of slavery to the light of day. Sometimes we need to see all the bad out in the open, as uncomfortable as it may be to look at or discuss.

We are all seeing a shift in opinion about the so-called dangers of man-made climate change. It has taken a long time, but there is an awakening to the idea that climate changes, man’s activities may play some role in the changes, but the role of man is likely small and not very dangerous. In any case, the public believes (correctly in my opinion) it is way too early to panic.

So, with all this in mind, I’d like to share a short lecture on bias, prejudice and intimidation in climate science by Dr. Willie Soon. The December 8, 2016 lecture can be seen on Youtube here or by clicking on figure 1, the slide deck he uses can be downloaded here.

Figure 1, Dr. Willie Soon delivering his talk on bias and intimidation in climate science. Click on the figure to hear the talk at Youtube.com

The viciousness of the media attacks on the reputation of Dr. Soon are amazing, considering his long-established credentials as an astrophysicist and climate scientist. It was gratifying that Myron Ebell (Trump’s pick to lead the EPA transition) leapt to Dr. Soon’s defense when the New York Times shamefully published an unwarranted and untrue attack on him. The article was written by Greenpeace. The New York Times placed it on their front page (see Dr. Soon’s second slide) and unethically disguised it as an article by two of their reporters. Mr. Ebell’s expose can be read here. Other sources that uncover the dishonesty in the New York Times reporting can be read here and here.

As bad as the attacks on Dr. Soon are, they pale in comparison to the attacks on science itself. Dr. Soon’s talk details the complete corruption of the peer-review process in climate science. I was once on the SPWLA (Society of Petrophysics and Well Log Analysts, the journal Petrophysics) publications committee and can assure you that the actions described by Dr. Soon are far more egregious and corrupt than any I have seen in a long publishing career.

Further, even though Dr. Soon had no direct support from the Southern Company as Greenpeace and the New York Times claimed, what if he did have? Why does the government have to be the only source of research funding? Clearly, the climate change debate is political and no longer scientific. We have the proponents of dangerous man-made climate change claiming the science is settled and a “consensus” of (government funded) scientists certifying it is dangerous. Since when has science ever been “settled?” Settled issues are political issues, not scientific issues. Likewise, consensus is a political word, not a scientific one. We have politicians, pundits and environmentalists who wish to jail “deniers.” Of course, it is political, as a result one would hope that funding for climate research was not all from the government. The government is clearly biased.

Dr. Soon clearly shows the bias against one point of view on climate change and the suppression of dissenting views, no matter how well they are supported. He shows that prejudice against dissenting views exists and that dissenters will be punished, humiliated and tormented. I have no illusion that my small post will heal his wounds or repair his reputation, but I hope it brings some daylight to this issue and illuminates the abusers. The only way to confront this sort of behavior, behavior that thrives in darkness, is to force it into the light. Shakespeare and Twain knew this, we need to follow their lead.