Wednesday, May 21, 2008

One Blade Shy Of A Sharp Knife

Over at TennesseeFree our old friend Serr8 got hoodwinked by a fake-petition drive campaign. It’s the oldest trick in the book, like when the Democratic Party “invited” me to be part of their “leadership team” but it’s really just another fundraising request.

Here’s the headline:
31,000 Scientists sign a petition urging the U.S. Government to rightly ignore the Global Warmalism cult inspired by that fool Albert Gore

Here are the highlights: The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine claims it got 31,000 bonafide scientists to sign its petition saying global warming is fake, don’t sign Kyoto, etc.

Now here are the facts: the petition is not credibile. It’s been bopping around for 10 years. When it first appeared in 1998, Perry Mason, John Grisham and Spice Girl Geri Halliwell were on the list of signees:

Asked about the pop singer, Robinson said he was duped. The returned petition, one of thousands of mailings he sent out, identified her as having a degree in microbiology and living in Boston. "It's fake," he said.

"When we're getting thousands of signatures there's no way of filtering out a fake," Robinson, 56, said in a telephone interview from Oregon.

Uh, yeah. Thanks for making my point.

Well it’s 10 years later and guess what. According to Wiki a new, albeit identical, petition hit mailboxes last fall. But “Perry S. Mason PhD” is still on the list of signees. So is “Anne Frank.” Plus some dubiously-named folks like “Mack Hunt.”

Anyone with a lick of sense would know that this thing doesn’t pass the sniff test. But let’s give Serr8 the benefit of the doubt, shall we? Pretend this petition isn’t 10 years old and an obvious fake.

You can see a copy of it here. It was mass-mailed to bazillions of people and the signees self-selected, which explains why even the petitioner admits there is no way to verify the identity of the signees--or if they are indeed “scientists.”

But I checked some of them out. The OISM helpfully lists all of the signees on its website, and it seems they’ve stretched the definition of “scientist” to absurd heights. Nearly half of them have just a Bachelors degree. Well, good for you if you made it through undergrad with degree in hand, but that doesn’t make you a scientist. Hell, I have a Bachelors degree--in Environmental Science, I might add. I could have signed this petition, but I didn’t, because I’m not a moron.

But let’s look at who did sign, shall we? Let’s start with the A’s: There are 10 veterinarians and 51 MDs. There’s a dentist named Joseph E. Adducci and an intellectual property expert named Sol Aisenberg. Not exactly experts in climate science.

Tennessee is well represented. James E. Vath, former owner of Praecis Pharmaceuticals (before selling to GlaxoSmithKline) supposedly signed. Dr. Nichola Tsambassis, a pediatric internist in Clarksville, is allegedly a signee. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t take a pediatrician’s advice on climate change any more than I’d take a sick kid to Lelan Statom for medical treatment. Just sayin’.

There are some real scientists on the list and I’ve contacted a couple of them. I’ll let you know if anyone writes me back.

So basically what we have is 31,000 people (we think, I'm still not convinced that Mack Hunt is a real person), who say they have college degrees who signed a petition denying global warming. This is not a shocker.

It says nothing about global warming, the human influence on global warming, any scientific debate on global warming or the consensus in the scientific community that global climate change is caused by human activity.

But it says a lot about the gullibility of certain conservatives on the blogosphere.