Pseudoskepticism from the “Junkman”

Edit: Click here for a discussion and definition of Pseudoskepticism.

Every Friday, I look forward to the newest edition of the Bob Park email “What’s New?” It isn’t a full newsletter, and Bob usually doesn’t go into a lot of detail. But in a few short paragraphs, he summarizes the top 4 or 5 silly things in government or academia that go against reason and critical thought. I highly recommend subscribing to his weekly What’s New? email. Look below the fold to see what he has to say about Steve Milloy, the author of Junkscience Judo and frequent columnist for Faux News (did I write that out loud?).

THE JUNKMAN: EXXON USES MILLOY TO DOWNPLAY GLOBAL WARMING. The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report on Wednesday describing Exxon Mobil’s efforts to manipulate public opinion on Global Warming. In doing so the report further exposes the role of Steven J. Milloy, the notorious “Junkman” who wrote Junk Science Judo (CATO, 2001), and a column for Fox News. WN reported a year ago that Milloy, who masquerades as a fearless debunker of bad science, in real life works for oil and tobacco giants http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN06/wn020306.html .

Jim Lobe wrote an article that I found at the Inter Press Service News Agency titled, ExxonMobil Accused of Disinformation on Warming, in which he describes Milloy’s affiliations and loyalties:

Steven Milloy, for example, whose Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (ASSC) was created by tobacco giant Philip Morris in 1993 to raise questions about the link between second-hand smoke and cancer, has served as a member of the Global Climate Science Team (GCST), which ExxonMobil helped create in 1998, and run the Free Enterprise Action Institute to which the company has contributed 130,000 dollars — or almost two-thirds of the group’s total expenses.

The article linked above is a fascinating read. It doesn’t take a genius to see why a major oil company would be interested in misleading the public and, consequently, public policy about the environment. Any more than it is clear why tobacco companies want to mislead the public about cancer. What’s fascinating is the guise of “skepticism” that is donned by those that are doing the misleading. Lets be clear: these are not true skeptics. They have conclusions to which they seek supporting data and reject data that is un-supportive. I don’t know the extent to which human activity on the planet contributes to global warming, but it is abundantly apparent that misuse and careless handling of petroleum products is bad for the environment. It’s also clear that petroleum by-products are not beneficial to the environment and reasonable to conclude they have a lasting impact on it.