Did AEI Try to Buy Climate Scientists?

Jonathan Adler takes a look at a Guardian article and a resulting mini-blogswarm and concludes that the American Enterprise Institute’s offer of a $10,000 honorarium for a reputable climate scientist to write a report debunking the global warming consensus was not an attempt to bribe someone to switch sides but merely to fund work supportive of their position.

I agree. Moreover, while I think AEI likely wrong on the facts of this issue, why would anyone be surprised that an ideologically-based think tank would be funding writing supportive of said ideology? Indeed, the only thing that strikes me as odd here is that AEI wouldn’t simply endow a senior fellowship or a program in-house to accomplish the same thing.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. libhomo says:

    The AEI is not a “think tank.” They are a PR/lobbying firm for corporate clients. They should have their tax exempt status revoked. I wonder if lobbying firms that follow the tax law will sue AEI for unfair competition.

  2. James Joyner says:

    The AEI is not a “think tank.” They are a PR/lobbying firm for corporate clients.

    You’ll need evidence rather than mere assertion for that one. They’ve got a staff of experts comparable to that of many other think tanks and produce papers, monographs, books and the like just as their cohorts like Cato, Heritage, Brookings, and others do.

  3. John Burgess says:

    But James! Don’t you get it??

    An organization which puts forth unpopular ideas, or ideas for an unpopular group–especially if they get any money from said unpopular group–is, by definition corrupt! It’s that simple. And I do mean simple.

    A university which accepts money from, oh, let’s say a Saudi benefactor, is automatically corrupted. Didn’t you see that when Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal gave $10 million each to Harvard and G’town? That Al-Waleed is mostly apolitical, but extremely successful in business has no bearing on the matter. He’s from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is ‘bad’. Ergo, anyone who touches him or his money is ‘bad’.

    No argument on the merits is necessary. The mere proximity of a ‘bad’ person or thought is sufficient to make any argument proposed a ‘bad’ one. Not scientifically bad, not rationally bad, just morally bad. Like ‘cooties’ in the 5th grade.

  4. whatever says:

    > AEI likely wrong on the facts

    No, they may be wrong on the interpretation you agree with, but there can’t be an argument on “facts”.

    It’s really sad that you have converted to the global warming religion; that anyone who disagrees with you just doesn’t see the “facts”. These are untested hpotheses that are being bantered about, and the UN’s own paper talks about “probabilities”, “likelihood” and other words which are far away from “facts”.

  5. James Joyner says:

    It’s really sad that you have converted to the global warming religion

    I’ve got no strong views on the matter, having only a rudimentary education in the relevant science. I do, however, know enough about science in general to understand that words like “theory,” “probability,” and “likelihood” mean something far more substantial in professional discourse than they do in casual lay conversation.

    My general inclination, though, is that when 90 percent of the legitimate experts in a discipline agree on something, they are likely on to something.

  6. Michael A says:

    Dafydd ab Hugh at Biglizards.net/blog has an excellent debunking of the Guardians debunking of global warming debunkers.

    Did you know that the IPCC policy report issued this week is a political statement specifying what the ‘scientific’ report will say later this year. That is, the ‘scientific’ report which is already based on cherry-picked data and papers will be further edited to conform to the policy report conclusions.

    If money corrupts science, then the arguments supporting anthropogenic (man made) global warming have already been corrupted by partisan (UN/Greenpeace/Sierra Club et.al.) funding.

    Also, note the recent push by the Weather Channel’s Heidi Cullen to stifle debate and true scientific discussion by calling for revoking credentials of broadcast meteorologists who do not accept the global warming faith. This is an action one would expect when their position is weak and can not withstand critical discussion.

  7. JKB says:

    “My general inclination, though, is that when 90 percent of the legitimate experts in a discipline agree on something, they are likely on to something.”

    I think you may have some circular reasoning here. Any researchers not supporting global warming finds it difficult if not impossible to get funding and therefore are not considered “legitimate experts”. So your evidence may be biased. I’m not saying that they aren’t correct but climate studies is not science anymore since reasoned debate and opposing research is stifled even in the “expert” community.

    No real solution but to insist methodologies and raw data be published so that many minds can assess them. Not a huge problem in the internet age. But I would be very skeptical of studies where the “experts” refuse to publish the as sampled data and can’t show that the sampling and data filtering weren’t predetermining the results.

  8. JohnG says:

    I don’t know how you can believe in Human-caused global warming as a scientific theory when there can be no experiment to verify it. Computer models are not proof, especially when we’re talking about something so complex as weather.

    That said, global warming doesn’t seem like a big problem to me at all, especially considering that the world has been even hotter in various points of history.

  9. floyd says:

    The argument on global warming is over. The truth ,as usual, is irrelevant.
    It is now time to quit trying to sway public opinion and bring to bear the forces of government to force the public into alignment with the inevitable direction of public policy.
    Like in the case of a bitch in heat, or a lynch mob, clear minds must now wait for the aftermath of the tide of events to once again find a voice.
    Whether TRUTH or LIES; “human caused climate change” is now an “article of faith” brought on by an overzealous “scientific priesthood”.
    Coercion and domination will once again replace reason in the course of human events.

  10. Michael says:

    I don’t know how you can believe in Human-caused global warming as a scientific theory when there can be no experiment to verify it.

    JohnG,
    I think you would be surprised at the number of scientific theories that can be and have been generally accepted as fact long before direct experimentation was possible. In fact, many theories in physics are proven on paper and through mathematics decades before an experiment is even possible. I would imagine that global warming can be mathematically supported in much the same way.

  11. Michael says:

    why would anyone be surprised that an ideologically-based think tank would be funding writing supportive of said ideology?

    I think the reason people are upset by this is the perception that the AEI is not interested in funding research that will support their view, but rather funding research that will cast doubt on the research of others not on the merit of their result, but by giving people the ability to say: “See, these scientists don’t agree, there is not consensus.”

    It’s kind of like how in every public debate over evolution, a hand full of young-earth scientists are touted about to demonstrate that there is no consensus on Evolution. Even though their arguments have far less merit and far more speculation than more than a century of evolution theory, they very fact that they have credentials and disagree is enough to bring it up in Kansas school board meetings.

  12. floyd says:

    micheal; Do you mean like phrenology??

  13. RJN says:

    The following will give an idea where the buying, or plying, of scientists began.

    A worthwhile read:

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv15n2/reg15n2g.html

    “Why, one might wonder, is there such insistence on scientific unanimity on the warming issue? After all, unanimity in science is virtually nonexistent on far less complex matters. Unanimity on an issue as uncertain as “global warming” would be surprising and suspicious. 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…..”

    and

    “…. going on nonstop. One of the more striking of those meetings was hosted in the summer of 1989 by Robert Redford at his ranch in Sundance, Utah. Redford proclaimed that it was time to stop research and begin acting. I suppose that that was a reasonable suggestion for an actor to make, but it is also indicative of the overall attitude toward science. Barbara Streisand personally undertook to support the research of Michael Oppenheimer at the Environmental Defense Fund, although he is primarily an advocate and not a climatologist.

  14. RJN says:
  15. someone says:

    If you get too far away from the emperical then you end up with String Theory, which is a lot like man-made Global Warming “theory” in many ways. If you can’t verify it in the real world, and you can’t use it to make accurate predictions (the models they use can’t even predict past weather), then you don’t have a scientific theory, no matter how many scientists claim they have one.