Recursive Lies and “Scientific Consensus” Letters
Guest opinion bt Ari Halperin
The ”Consensus” Letter on Climate Change (06/28/2016), allegedly signed by leaders of 31 scientific organizations and published on the websites of the AAAS, AGU, AMS, and others, was signed only by some of the participating organizations. This is contrary to the letter itself, the press release and the accompanying article. This sham was revealed by some routine fact-checking and the events triggered by it, and is described in a short paper The Solved Riddle of the 2016 Climate Change “Consensus Letter” , edited fragments from which follow.
Timeline of Events
In early morning of July 6th, I sent fact-checking emails to the CEO of the AAAS and to the top officials and/or media contacts of the 30 other organizations. Appendix B of the paper contains the email exchange with AAAS. The emails asked only about signing the letter, not about its content. Specifically, my email asked whether the letter in question was signed by the listed organizations or their leaders, and asked for an opportunity to see the actual signatures. In its reply, AAAS changed the published allegation that the letter was signed to “reflect the participation of leaders of each of the 31 named scientific societies” (Fact #1). My follow up letter, asking AAAS to confirm that the letter was actually signed, went unanswered.
That same day, a different email (Appendix A) was sent to each of the other 30 organizations. All these emails had substantially the same text, but each organization was contacted separately, usually with copies to multiple recipients within that organization. The organizations were not cc’ed on emails sent to their peers, and were not told that other organizations were contacted, except for the triplet of the Agronomy/Soil Science/Crop Science Societies. 9 out of these 30 organizations answered, and all 9 confirmed that they signed the letter. 5 out of 9 replies flatly denied that there was any pressure to sign, and none indicated otherwise. Some probably thought that the question about the pressure was inappropriate. Thus, all replies and non-replies can be divided into two categories: “yes” and “no answer.” If the respondents acted independently, the 9 positive replies would be a valid statistical sample, confirming the null hypothesis that the letter was properly signed by all participants.