"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Secondhand Smoke, Lung Cancer, and the Global Warming Debate

On the blog American Thinker Fred Singer, one of America's most respected scientists defends himself against charges arising from his evidence that the EPA's findings were based on "junk science" which he still maintains is true. The EPA's cavalier use of "junk science" does not seem to have changed with it's current stand on Global Warming.
Fred is a non-smoker and dislikes second-hand smoke so efforts to paint him as part of the tobacco lobby are off the mark. He was asked to analyse the EPA studies and they did not stand up to any kind of rigorous scrutiny.

In 1993, the EPA published a report claiming that secondhand smoke (SHS -- also sometimes known as environmental tobacco smoke or ETS) causes three thousand deaths from lung cancer every year.  Anyone doubting this result has been subject to attack and depicted as a toady of the tobacco lobby.  The attacks have been led by a smear blog called DeSmogBlog, financed by the Canadian PR firm of James Hoggan, and have been taken up with great enthusiasm by self-styled "science historian" Professor Naomi Oreskes.  

The tobacco smoking issue has also become a favorite tool for discrediting climate skeptics.  A prime example is the book Merchants of Doubt by Oreskes and Eric Conway, which attacks several well-known senior physicists, including the late Dr. Fred Seitz, a former president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Physical Society, and (most recently) Rockefeller University. 

No matter what the environmental issue -- ozone depletion, acid rain, pesticides, etc. -- any and all scientific opposition based on objective facts is blamed on an imagined involvement with tobacco companies.  None of this is true, of course.  Oreskes and Conway claim to be academic historians, yet they have consistently ignored factual information, have not bothered to consult primary sources, have never interviewed any of the scientists they try to smear, and generally have operated in a completely unprofessional way.

Fred sums it up succinctly:

The other issue is the conduct of science and the integrity of the science process: the intrusion of government political agenda -- worthy or not -- on the way science is done and reported to the public.  The corruption of science in a worthy cause is still corruption, and it has led to its further corruption in an unworthy cause -- the ideologically driven claim of anthropogenic global warming.


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