Posted by jlwile on November 21, 2010
Dr. Harold Lewis is a giant in physics. At one time, he was the chairman of the physics department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is now an Emeritus professor at the same institution. He served in the Navy during World War II, was chairman of the technology panel on the Defense Science Board, chaired that same board’s study on nuclear winter, was on the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, was a part of the President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee, chaired the American Physical Society’s study on Nuclear Reactor Safety, and was a member of the United States Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. As if that’s not enough, he is a co-founder of JASON, a group of scientists who advise the United States Government on scientific and technological issues.
This giant recently resigned from the American Physical Society (APS). Why? Because he was sick and tired of the APS supporting pseudoscience when it comes to global warming. In his resignation letter, which I urge everyone to read, he specifically says:
…the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist.
Even though I doubt that the APS will learn from this action, I applaud Dr. Lewis for publicly separating himself from an organization that claims to be scientific but seems happy to throw science under the bus in order to jump onto a politically fashionable and incredibly lucrative bandwagon.
How can I possibly say that an organization composed of most of the United States’ greatest physicists is throwing science under the bus? Well, all you have to do is read the APS statement on global warming. Here is an excerpt:
The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. (emphasis mine)
As Dr. Lewis notes in his resignation letter, there is a “poison word” in that statement, and I have put it in boldface type. Dr. Lewis correctly points out that few things in physics (and indeed, few things in science as a whole) are incontrovertible. To claim that heavily-massaged data related to climate proxies and the predictions of deeply-flawed computer models represent “incontrovertible” evidence is not just scientific nonsense, it is scientific fraud.
Until scientists are wiling to start communicating science correctly, the general public will continue to misunderstand it. Worse yet, policy makers will pass laws and regulations based not on sound scientific reasoning, but on hyperbole. Such laws and regulations will end up doing more harm than good.
Well done, Dr. Lewis. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt that the APS will learn anything from your courageous act. Hopefully, however, it will help others learn what real science is all about.