I got one of these today in my faculty mailbox. Strangest piece of mail that I have ever received, without a doubt. The Daily Kos diary I’ve linked does a reasonably good job of deconstructing the piece. Everyone associated with this mailing appears to be totally disconnected from reality.
The envelope included:
- A note signed by Frederick Seitz, whose listed credentials are Past-President of the National Academy of Sciences and President Emeritus of Rockefeller University. However, he last held an academic position in 1979. Subsequently, he was paid permanent consultant to R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company until he was canned in 1989 because, according to the CEO, he was “not sufficiently rational to offer advice.” That was almost 20 years ago! And tobacco companies in the 1980s weren’t exactly known for their stellar record of open inquiry.
- A 12 page journal article titled, “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide,” reprinted from the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. (1) A journal titled the Journal of Amercian Physicians and Surgeons is prima facie not qualified to peer review a paper on climatology, (2) The journal is apparently the house organ for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons which appears to be an organization of total crackpots, and (3) The article is written by authors affiliated with the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine which is not exactly the most credible source of information on climatology, either.
- A reprint of an article from the Wall Street Journal in 2000, which I haven’t had time to scrutinize yet, but which was coauthored by two of the authors of the JAPS paper.
- A card to sign and return supporting their position, with a handy checkbox to indicate that I have a Ph.D.
My favorite quote, though, is from the Seitz letter, which notes that I, an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, have “the training necessary to evaluate the relevant data and offer sound advice.” Well, while I know full well that I don’t have the training necessary to evaluate climatological data, thankfully I do have the training necessary to recognize total sham science when I see it.