Consensus, Mass Media, Politics, Skeptics

Taking a Closer Look at 31,000 Global Warming Deniers

Magnifying Glass

Moreover, why are the opinions of scientists sought regardless of their field of expertise? Biologists and physicians are rarely asked to endorse some theory in high energy physics. Apparently, when one comes to “global warming,” any scientist’s agreement will do. The answer almost certainly lies in politics.
Dr. Richard S. Lindzen, M.I.T. Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Prominent skeptic, and OISM petition signer, 1992

The controversial Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM) released the latest version of its list of global warming deniers this past Monday. The organization states that the purpose of the list is to “demonstrate that the claim of ‘settled science’ and an overwhelming ‘consensus’ in favor of the hypothesis of human-caused global warming and consequent climatological damage is wrong.” The list has been around for a decade, and little has changed with it other than its size. The group now claims a listing of 31,000 “scientists” who deny the theory of anthropogenic global warming and its detrimental effects to the global environment.

The current and expanded list still suffers from the same downfalls and shortcomings that have plagued previous versions. It continues to dismiss qualifications and relevancy for the sake of numbers, and the viability of those listed still remains questionable. However, the primary failure is its inability to address its stated purpose.

The existing consensus on anthropogenic global warming is not based on a list or a petition but rather on published, peer-reviewed scientific studies within the fields of climate science. Any refutation of that consensus necessarily would take place via published scientific studies within that peer-reviewed setting. Any other approach would apply science as a “voting” process, which is exactly the tactic the skeptical community derides.

Even employing such an approach, the list contains many deficiencies.


Anyone with an undergraduate science degree is considered a scientist.


Actually the statement above is incorrect. Anyone who signs the petition is a scientist, and the base requirement for signing the petition, according to the group’s own instructions, is “formal training in the analysis of information in physical science,” which should open eligibility up to anyone who has passed a high school chemistry class. The list’s creators claim that all representatives have at least a Bachelor of Science degree.

However, to define a “scientist” as anyone who owns such a basic undergraduate degree is being liberal to say the least, and equating such an owner with practicing and publishing climate scientists in the field is intellectually dishonest.


The list contains 2,240 medical doctors, including 353 veterinarians.


Medical doctors can be deemed experts in many things. Climate science is not one of them. I would not call a medical doctor for an expert opinion on climate science any more than I would a climate scientist for an opinion on cancer research.

Included in this group of professionals are 353 veterinarians. Next time you are taking Fido in for his yearly checkup, be sure to ask your vet for his opinion on the effects of sublimation on the retreat of equatorial mountain glaciers. Be obstinate if he refuses to produce his latest published study on the subject.

Weather Channel founder and global warming skeptic John Coleman has expressed a desire to sue Al Gore. I wonder if he’ll call a veterinarian as an expert witness.

The willingness to include anyone possible dominates the list’s membership. By the creators’ own numbers, only 12% of those on the list even have an education in atmospheric, earth, or environmental science. For example, the nearly 10,000 engineers on the list, a full 31% of its total, do not fall into this category.


The list contains 99 people with a first name of “Professor”.


While it is doubtful that any parents would name their child “Professor,” the existence of such entries on the list speaks to the low entry standards established by its creators.

There are also 180 entries on the complete list that somehow don’t make it to the lists broken out by state. Apparently an address state was optional.


Athey Technologies is a PhD on the list.


As you might expect, Athey Technologies is a company, not a person. The creators claim 9,021 PhD recipients are part of the list, and Athey Technologies is one of them. And, yes, the company owner is on the list as a PhD recipient as well.

Athey Technologies entry on OISM list
Figure 1: Athey Technologies, PhD entry. Image credit: OISM

While this is a single entry on the list, the sheer obviousness of its inappropriateness speaks volumes about the absence of entry validation. If “Athey Technologies” can make it through, you have to wonder how many other dishonest entries are there from submitters a little more discrete.


Curtis M. Belden is an executive with Powder River Coal.


In 2003, Curtis Belden was the Manager of Operations Support for the North Antelope/Rochelle Mine Complex of Powder River Coal, one of the largest coal producing companies in the United States.

At the time he had responsibility for overall management of the largest surface coal mining operation in North America. As of 2008, he is still with the company. Prior to that he served as President and General Manager of Big Sky Coal Company.

Mr. Belden’s entry on the list is one example of representation by corporate interests that are financially vested in the dismissal of the anthropogenic global warming theory. As the creators of the list encourage submitters to request additional signing cards, it begs the question as to how many entries originate from such sources and their peers.

Incidentally, Mr. Belden actually has two entries on the list, one from Wyoming, the other from Montana. Mr. Belden currently lives in the former and has previously lived in the latter. The duplication of entries points again to the questionable methodologies employed by the list’s managers in validating submissions or at least to the list’s degradation over time if not also to potentially suspicious motives of those submitting entries. Mr. Belden could have intentionally submitted both entries in rapid succession leveraging previous address information, could have submitted separate entries separated by time as his physical address changed, or could have had his name submitted unknowingly by a second party. In any case both submissions made the list, and none supports the integrity and viability of the list as a whole.

Overall, while the list’s applicability as a refutation of the consensus of published science on climate change is nonexistent by its nature alone, the presence of so many shortcomings, even within its own design, relegates the list and its goals to nothing more than propaganda.

Those seeking the potential for serious debate on the subject are best advised to seek it elsewhere, preferably within the pages of the respected scientific journals.

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “Taking a Closer Look at 31,000 Global Warming Deniers

  1. interesting, didn’t realize they were out of “my state, Oregon” but was battling them this week, where they are mistaken under the impression they can inundate people with big numbers and lots of acronyms to intimidate them into belief of their BS.

    and apparently they missed the big story out of Oregon this week, One of many articles released this week about carbon levels at all time highs and spiking higher than ever anticipate! ut-oh!

    Posted by Hans | May 25, 2008, 8:19 am
  2. Peer review used to have credibility before it became a political tool to force this blatant bald faced scam on America.

    Its hilarious how the models failed so utterly to explain the current cooling, how the entire Sacred Consensus of the Infallible IPCC failed to explain the cooling, yet we are still expected to treat global warming as Ex Cathedra science, something not even reserved for the Theory of Gravity.

    Reply – I have to disagree. Disparagement of the peer review process as politically motivated is a diversionary tactic to explain the absence of contradictory evidence within that process from those unhappy with the results of it.

    It’s the same method employed by those unhappy with a judicial outcome to label the offending judge as a bench legislator.

    Failure to identify cooling would be noteworthy if it were actually cooling and if the models referenced by the IPCC were intended to predict short term variability as opposed to long term trends. This article over at RealClimate is worth a read on the subject. – Michael

    Posted by Paulidan | May 25, 2008, 1:01 pm

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