Years ago I caught an illuminating lecture by Naomi Oreskes who teaches history and science studies at UC San Diego. She traced the history and origins of climate change denial in a convincing fashion. Until then, I naively wondered why people would put so much effort into attacking what looked to me to be mostly, kinda, pretty solid studies, that is real science as opposed to “sound science,” which is, as far as I can tell, some sort of absolute and perfect work, that is, something other than real science.
Real scientists screw up and then have their mistakes noted by other real scientists who typically produce counter-results in their own studies. The result is usually an improvement all around. Eventually, a consensus arises. Sometimes this takes a long, long time.
In the lecture, Oreskes pointed out that a significant number of the actual scientists who deny global warming have an “interesting” background. For example, the infamous S. Fred Singer worked diligently to defend cigarettes against the nasty people who said they caused cancer. (Snide aside: Free marketeers know that socialism and communism are the primary causes of cancer.)
I look forward to getting a copy of her new book Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming in the next few weeks. But it’s nice to know that others are delving into the historical aspects of this issue. Here’s an article worth a look: