Thursday, April 26, 2007

If Richard Lindzen shows up at your door, slam it.

Richard Lindzen is looking to up the ante. In an interview with the Canadian National Post, our Dick said

Q Some suggest that Roger Revelle, Gore's scientific mentor, would not have agreed with the movie?

A Well, he's dead.

Q Yes. So that makes it harder for him to speak out.

A It's a horrible story. Before he died, Roger Revelle co-authored a popular paper saying, 'We know too little to take any action based on global warming. If we take any action it should be an action that we can justify completely without global warming.' And Gore's staffers tried to have his name posthumously removed from that paper claiming he had been senile. And one of the other authors took it to court and won. It's funny how little coverage that got.

This is one of those strange little stories that you find Richard Lindzen crawling about at the bottom of the toilet in. The popular paper is an article in the magazine of the Cosmos Club (a club for movers and shakers in DC) written by Fred Singer and Chauncey Starr that had Roger Revelle's name on it. How Revelle's name got there beyond the fact that Fred Singer put it there is a matter of interest that is explained by Justin Lancaster, Revelle's student and last assistant.

According to Revelle's widow, Revelle and Singer met at a 1990 AAAS meeting and Singer asked Revelle to co-author a paper with him. In 1990, when Revelle was gravely ill, just before his death, Singer kept sending him drafts of an article, which Revelle kept shoving to the bottom of the pile on his desk so he would not have to look at them. We know that because we have the sworn testimony of Revelle's secretary, Christa Beran. Singer also sent drafts to Richard Lindzen and Lindzen communicated with Singer about them according to Singer's sworn testimony as evidently did Balling and Ellsasser. On Feb 16 1991, Singer showed up at Revelle's office, invited himself in and spent ~ four hours going over galley proofs he had brought with him. Revelle at the time was very ill, and 20 min of work tired him out. Singer stayed for four hours. Again, you don't have to depend on Lancaster for this, but you can look at the secretary's testimony, and information from others.

The moral of the story is when a Richard Lindzen or S. Fred show up, throw them out the door. They are only their own friends. They are users.

After that it gets interesting. After Revelle died, Lancaster was asked to serve on an editorial board for a CRC Press volume on Global Warming as well as submit a chapter. It turned out that Singer had submitted the Cosmos paper for publication in the same volume. Reference to the Cosmos article kept turning up, pushed by such characters as Greg Easterbrook and George Will (might be interesting to talk to Easterbrook now about this about who fed him).

Political opponents were using the article as a stick to beat Gore (nothing changes, all die). Gore called Lancaster and asked if Revelle's opinions had changed, Lancaster told Gore that shortly before Revelle's death, Revelle and he had talked about the paper, that Revelle was unhappy about the situation, and hoped that the paper would sink without a trace. From this Lancaster concluded that Revelle was not active in the writing of the paper, although his name appeared as co-author and he had met with Singer at Singer's insistence.

Lancaster reviewed the Cosmos paper in detail with C.D. Keeling, both being at Scripps.
Keeling and I agreed that there were too many misleading and inaccurate statements in the Cosmos article for Roger to have been carefully, attentively and enthusiastically "writing" or "authoring the Cosmos paper
At about the same time another colleague of Revelle at Scripps, Walter Munk and Ed Frieman wrote to the Cosmos Journal that
"S. Fred Singer wrote the paper, and as a courtesy added Roger as a co-author based upon his willingness to review the manuscript and advise on aspects relating to sea level rise."
This was published also in Oceanography 5 (1992) 125. Keeling and Lancaster also wrote the the New Republic, but that letter was not published. Still the Cosmos article continued to be pushed by the denialists. George Will stuck his oar in (easy enough to guess the slime who showed up to this party) trying to show that Revelle had had a deathbed conversion on the issue of global warming. Revelle's daughter wrote back for the family that George should stop smoking those funny cigarettes.

The third party candidate in the 1992 US presidential election, William Stockdale, raised the issue again to Al Gore. Gore replied that the article did not represent Revelle's opinion and that Revelle's family was very disturbed about its use.

At about that time, Lancaster recommended to the CRC press that the article not be reprinted, or if reprinted it should carry some warning language. It was printed anyhow. Singer was disinvited from the Revelle Memorial Symposium. In addition, Lancaster had expressed his opinion about the authorship of the papers in his Revelle Memorial Symposium article. Singer sued. It was a classic SLAPP suit. Lancaster did not have the resources to contest it, serving as his own lawyer. Finally, under the entreaties of his wife, he caved. However, he is still around, and occasionally comments on the matter on various blogs.
Anyone perplexed by this Balling/Revelle/Gore story might want to examine the sworn testimony of one S. Fred Singer at the following site: didn't cherrypick Revelle's old views, because Revelle didn't write that Cosmos article to which Balling refers. And Balling knows that Revelle didn't write it, because Balling himself was a participant in S. Fred Singer's ploy to hoodwink Revelle shortly before Revelle's death. It was a nasty, disgusting and secret business. Its purpose was to undermine Gore. It has been incredibly effective, as Singer, Michaels and Balling have successfully fed this story to a plethora of secondary bloggers who are happy to add their echo to the rant.Crandall and Singer's chapter in the Hoover volume, published online is a mass of misinformation. I encourage anyone interested to examine the primary evidence and draw their own conclusions.
This shameful manipulation and exploitation of the life and teaching of a great scientist and humanitarian cannot stand. For my friend and colleague, for all those who have been misled by this Cosmos myth, and for the honor of a courageous and committed politician and journalist, it is important that I hereby fully rescind and repudiate my 1994 retraction and make available the evidence that supports my statements.
UPDATE: Eli found this all too depressing. He went and read a tribute to Roger Revelle, by one of his closest friends and collaborators, Walter Munk. Things are a bit better.


Anonymous said...

Very good, though Stockdale and Gore were vice presidential candidates.

Anonymous said...

Fred Singer is disgusting example of what happens to scientists who sell their souls to corporations for financial gain.

There's just something inhuman about Singer.

Nice post, Mr. Rabett.

Anonymous said...

Singer (a nobody, as far as the public is concerned) can talk the paper up all he wants, but to most people it means nothing.

I'd have to say that Gore has already had the last laugh (for Revelle) in this case.

Anonymous said...

"We know too little to take any action based on global warming. If we take any action it should be an action that we can justify completely without global warming."

Regardless of what else is true in this case, it is more than a little disingenuous top claim that a view that someone held back in 1991 would still be their view today.

That statement probably was accurate back in 1991.

But scientists' knowledge of global warming has increased dramatically since then.

Even if Revelle did buy into that statement at the time, there is no reason to believe that he would still do so today. In fact, there is very good reason to believe that he would not.

And perhaps the biggest irony of all is that many of the possible solutions that have been proposed (increased fuel economy standards) can be justified for other reasons (without global warming) -- and even these have been vigorously resisted by the deinalists.

Michael Tobis said...

I'm glad you picked this up. I saw the interview (in the earth day edition of the NP) but I guess I was so horrified that I blotted it out of my memory.

I will attest that everything in the NP interview is exactly as Eli describes it.

Holly Stick said...

Hi there. The Financial Post for April 28, 2007 has Revelle as one of their Deniers series. It provides a handy club for them to attack Gore with.

Gore's guru disagreed

"...Then in 1991, Dr. Revelle wrote an article for Cosmos, a scientific journal, with two illustrious colleagues, Chauncey Starr, founding director of the Electric Power Research Institute and Fred Singer, the first director of the U.S. Weather Satellite..."

"...Three months after the Cosmos article appeared, Dr. Revelle died of a heart attack. One year later, with Al Gore running for vice-president in the 1992 presidential election, the inconsistency between Gore's pronouncements -- he claimed that the "science was settled" then, too -- and those of his mentor became national news. Gore responded with a withering attack, leading to claims that Dr. Revelle had become senile before his death, that Dr. Singer had duped Dr. Revelle into co-authoring the article, and that Dr. Singer had listed Dr. Revelle as a co-author over his objections. The sordid accusations ended in a defamation suit and an abject public apology in 1994 from Gore's academic hit man, a prominent Harvard scientist, who revealed his unsavory role and that of Gore in the fabrications against Dr. Singer and Dr. Revelle..."

ankh said...

I sure hate seeing this story come up and have to be refuted again. This is maybe the fourth time I've seen it pop up in eleven or twelve years of reading. First time was probably at 1200 baud, Usenet (sigh) .... lies really do outlive people.

Anonymous said...

Lies are like bourbon myths: they just get bigger (and better) with age.

Major Mike said...

Statement by Justin Lancaster
The late Professor Roger Revelle was a true and voluntary coauthor
of the article entitled “What To Do About GreenhouseWarming:
Look Before You Leap,” along with Professor S. Fred Singer
and Chauncey Starr, Ph.D. The articlewas published in April 1991
in the inaugural issue of Cosmos, the journal of the Cosmos Club
of Washington, D.C.
I retract as being unwarranted any and all statements, oral or
written, I have made which state or imply that Professor Revelle
was not a true and voluntary coauthor of the Cosmos article, or
which in any other way impugn or malign the conduct or motives
of Professor Singer with regard to the Cosmos article (including
but not limited to its drafting, editing, publication, republication,
and circulation). I agree not to make any such statements in fu-
Hoover Press : Gough/Alchemy DP0 HGOUAP1100 rev1 page 296
296 s. fred singer
ture. I fully and unequivocally retract and disclaim those statements
and their implications about the conduct, character, and
ethics of Professor Singer, and I apologize to Professor Singer for
the pain my conduct has caused him and for any damage that I
may have caused to his reputation. To the extent that others,
including Anthony D. Socci, Ph.D., Edward A. Frieman, Ph.D., and
Walter H. Munk, Ph.D.,18 relied on my statements to make similar
statements and insinuations, I also apologize to Professor Singer.
I also regret that I have caused Professor Singer to incur litigation
costs to resolve this matter.
/s/ Justin Lancaster
Dated April 29th, 1994.

Major Mike said...

By 1984 Revelle was already off the Al Gore farm:
"Although Dr. Revelle recognized potential harm from global warming, he also saw potential benefits and was by no means alarmed, as seen in this 1984 interview in Omni magazine: Omni: A problem that has occupied your attention for many years is the increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, which could cause the earth's climate to become warmer. Is this actually happening? Revelle: I estimate that the total increase [in CO2] over the past hundred years has been about 21%. But whether the increase will lead to a significant rise in global temperature, we can't absolutely say. Omni: What will the warming of the earth mean to us? Revelle: There may be lots of effects. Increased CO2 in the air acts like a fertilizer for plants ... you get more plant growth. Increasing CO2 levels also affect water transpiration, causing plants to close their pores and sweat less. That means plants will be able to grow in drier climates. Omni: Does the increase in CO2 have anything to do with people saying the weather is getting worse? Revelle: People are always saying the weather's getting worse. Actually, the CO2 increase is predicted to temper weather extremes…"

EliRabett said...

But by 1990 he was on it.

EliRabett said...

Mike, you might want to look at some of the facts associated with Lancaster's statement, namely the SLAPP suit that Singer brought against Lancaster with the support of one of the local lawyers for lies and injustice groups in DC. Lancaster tells the story here The sum of which is

"Revelle’s actual, participatory, authorship cannot be demonstrated beyond a single review of the galley proof, a lengthy session for Roger at a time when his physical ability to pay attention for many minutes was severely eroded. About the article and this session, Revelle's long-time secretary, Ms. Christa Beran, remembers in a 1993 sworn affidavit: "[…] Roger had been very reluctant to be involved in this enterprise. […] I know it was not one of Roger's priorities. [...] I do not remember seeing any review by Roger of any text by Dr. Singer before a day in February 1991 when he came to Roger's office. [...] I am sure that Roger and I together never worked on the article [...] After a series of unsuccessful attempts to get Roger to work on this document, Dr. Singer must have decided that the only way he was going to get this thing done was to come in person.”

and Lancaster further adds
"This shameful manipulation and exploitation of the life and teaching of a great scientist and humanitarian cannot stand. For my friend and colleague, for all those who have been misled by this Cosmos myth, and for the honor of a courageous and committed politician and journalist, it is important that I hereby fully rescind and repudiate my 1994 retraction and make available the evidence that supports my statements. "

FWIW, Singer has never challenged what Lancaster says on his site

Eli is interested in how you got into this

Major Mike said...

I would think Dr. Singer, and you too, would treat Lancaster as very damaged goods and move away. When he rescinds and repudiates what he previously retracted,rescinded and repudiated, there doesn't seem to be any reason to believe he can achieve and sustain any level of honesty.

Why would Singer challenge what Lancaster says on his site? He already has a written and signed statement from Lancaster that proves otherwise from a court action.

I got into this because I was interested in how Al Gore was treating all the criticism of the dubious science of "An Inconvenient Truth." I'm learning that Al doesn't answer it well.

EliRabett said...

Wish you a happy SLAPP suit Mike. BTW you might want to look at the letter that Revelles daughter sent to the Washington Post when someone on the oped page tried to recycle the same crap you are selling

[C. R. Hufbauer, "Global Warming: What My Father Really Said," Washington Post, op-ed, September 13, 1992.]"

"Contrary to George Will's "Al Gore's Green Guilt" {op-ed, Sept. 3} Roger Revelle - our father and the "father" of the greenhouse effect - remained deeply concerned about global warming until his death in July 1991. That same year he wrote: "The scientific base for a greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time." Will and other critics of Sen. Al Gore have seized these words to suggest that Revelle, who was also Gore's professor and mentor, renounced his belief in global warming.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

When Revelle inveighed against "drastic" action, he was using that adjective in its literal sense - measures that would cost trillions of dollars. Up until his death, he thought that extreme measures were premature. But he continued to recommend immediate prudent steps to mitigate and delay climatic warming. Some of those steps go well beyond anything Gore or other national politicians have yet to advocate.


In private, he often spoke of a $1.00 a gallon tax as eminently reasonable, not "drastic."


All of us remember our father's frustration at the White House award ceremony in November 1990, when he received the National Medal of Science. Told he would sit next to John Sununu, a well known advocate of the "wait and see" approach, he was delighted at the prospect of bending Sununu's ear. When Sununu failed to appear, Revelle was disappointed, saying, "I had hoped to tell him what a dim view I take of the administration's environmental policies."

Roger Revelle proposed a range of approaches to address global warming. Inaction was not one of them. He agreed with the adage "look before you leap," but he never said "sit on your hands."

Major Mike said...

Revelle expressed reservations in the 1984 Omni interview excerpt I posted. Here you have the words of Revelle, consistent for a period spanning at least as early as 1984 until his death in 1991, and you prefer the words of the admitted liar, Lancaster. The fact a liar said he lied when he admitted earlier lies should give you cause to pause.

Apparently it would be inconvenient for you to do so.

EliRabett said...

Quite convenient Mikey

20 February 1990 The Dallas Morning News about a year before his death

"We have a very strong belief that the climate will get significantly warmer over the next 50 years because of the increase in concentrations of so-called greenhouse gases,' said Roger Revelle of the University of California at San Diego, chairman of the science association's climate committee.

"This will have a profound effect on water resources in the United States, particularly in the arid West,' said Mr. Revelle, a founder of greenhouse science in the 1950s.

BTW, you appear not to have recognized that his daughter told you what Roger Revelle thought up to the time of his death and it was consistent with what Dr. Lancaster said. You can read the whole letter here. Then again, you appear to enjoy being fact free.

Major Mike said...

Just so Rabetty

I read Revelle's remarks, and those of his family and others. I noted that Al Gore wanted to portray Revelle as senile and incompetent during a period when Revelle kept an active schedule of appearances. Revelle's statement in 1991 followed the one you cite in 1990, and you really need to be consistent. You can't have it that he was a brilliant scientist, then claim he lost it, and have as your primary source Dr. Lancaster's facile truth. Depending on hearsay and a prime source who is consistently unreliable would be a disastrous approach to winning any argument governed by rules of evidence.

Your characterization of my presentation of documented statements of Dr. Revelle and Lancaster as being “fact free” reminds me of a statement by the late, great Democrat Senator from New York, Patrick Moynihan: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but no one is entitled to their own facts.” Apparently you have promoted hearsay to be an equal of fact.

EliRabett said...

Revelle was not senile, he was physically depleted, extremely weak. Your accusations that others thought him senile are infamous, false, and a pack of lies.

Revelle's illness was a situation that Fred Singer took advantage of. For this we have the deposition of Christa Beran, Revelle's secretary.

Revelle underwhent heart surgery in February 1990. He stayed in the hospital until March, only to return in April for a hernia operation where he came down with a staph infection. In Beran's words.

"He was very weak from this and the six-week course of strong antibiotics almost killed him. This really set him back."

Revelle worked at home until the end of the summer in 1990, and only returned to work for short periods. According to Beran, his secretary, he spent "much of his time dozing. I think that physically he couldn't keep up with his mind. Sometimes he would fall asleep while he was dictating. This happened more frequently early in his recovery than later. I remember that even as late as November 1990 we had to make special arrangements to get him from the room where he was to receive the national medal of Science to the room where the luncheon was to be held because he was too weak to walk very far. Roger gradually grew stronger. just before he died during May and June of 1991, he seemed a lot stronger. He could come in then and spend a full day working in the office without even taking a nap."

Singer camped out on the recovering Revelle in February 1991, when he was still weak and had difficulty working for extended periods.

Beran's deposition clearly shows that the only time that Revelle "worked" on the Cosmos publication was during a single visit with Singer.

Singer admits this on page 104 of his deposition.

Singer: Oh, I don't recall now what changes had taken place between the initial draft and this galley proof, except I know many changes were made as a result of inputs from co-authors and others.

Q(Lancaster): And do you maintain that some of those inputs were from Roger Revelle

Singer: I don't recall specific inputs from him

Later Singer admits that he does not remember whether Revelle sent him ANY comments, and given Revelle's health and the testimony of his secretary, this, at least appears to be the case.

Walter Manny said...

Why not just state what happened, which is that Lancaster lost the suit in court. Nobody can speak for Revelle now except the record. Justin is my first cousin, by the way, and a colorful character who is passionate in his beliefs. He is not Revelle, though, and he can not possibly represent him. You should ask him to comment directly, no?

Walter Manny

EliRabett said...

Lancaster did not lose the suit in court. It never went to trial, but was settled out of court.

It would be good to get things right

Anonymous said...

IIRC it was James Stockdale

Walter Manny said...

Eli (I am not sure how to address you -- are you using a pseudonym?)

You are correct -- Justin's humiliation took place outside the courtroom. I would be curious to know why you think he and his lawyers decided to retract the accusation and apologize to those who had relied upon it. That he retracted the retraction years later is problematic, though, to say the least, isn't it? It would seem that Justin's motivations were political, but again, he should be invited to comment on that.


EliRabett said...

Cause he was going broke defending the suit. It is called a SLAPP suit you know.

Singer was not paying for it out of his pocket either. Have to go look at the local "free market stink tank"

Walter Manny said...

So that's what you think it boils down to, seriously? That Singer had the purse strings and poor old unconnected Justin did not? You just might want to look into that one before continuing to paint with such a broad conspiritorial brush. Have you considered the notion that the case might have been settled on the merits?

EliRabett said...

Why yes Walter. Having read the depositions, looked at the file at the Boston courthouse, traced a bit of the money needed to hire Joseph Blute on Singer's side (one of the most expensive lawyers in Boston) and see other high priced lawyer type talent from DC come in on S. Fred's behalf, while Lancaster was doing such things as paying for the court reporters in depositions. Yes. S. Fred and friends brought a SLAPP suit and got Lancaster to say uncle.

Had nothing to do with the facts of the matter. Had everything to do with the money on one side. Of course, today things are more even, and when Tim Ball tried to do this to Dan Johnson, he got seriously embarrassed.

Walter Manny said...

Well, I doubt you will, but I would still suggest, "Look again." If you are truly convinced the facts had nothing to do with it, though, I can't imagine there's anything that would change your mind. Revelle must be who he must be in your mythology. Please have the last word -- I'm done.

Joseph Hunkins said...

Had nothing to do with the facts of the matter. Had everything to do with the money on one side.

This does not appear to be a reasonable assertion in this case even though I'd agree the Revelle "co-authorship" is scant evidence of anything important.

But what confuses me is how you *always* are so quick to point to the money flow in the skeptics camp but bristle at the notion that grant money has anything to do with any conclusions that support the AGW hypothesis - ie that corporate funding poisons all skeptical research but Lindzen and others have no business suggesting that public grant money impacts research conclusions/reporting.

Even a superficial analysis of this positions renders it ... absurd.

FYI My view is that neither side is seriously compromised by funding sources, but your unilateral bias position is irrational.

Anonymous said...


I'm intrigued by your response, to the point that I was moved to comment.

Are you saying that there is no difference between industry funding of, essentially, inhouse "researchers", when those industries stand to lose profit margin if required to clean up their mess, and scientists doing research funded by public grants?

Grants have to be sought, have to be qualified for, and have some form of oversight to prevent in depth research into navel hair braiding. Vast;y different from an oil or coal company seeking willing conspirators who will accept pay to write whatever those companies propose as their truth.

That's an interesting stance, to say the least.

Officious Pedant.

Anonymous said...

Can I kick him in the balls first?