Climate denier front group NAS just hates being criticized

  • Published on January 16th, 2020

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (often referred to as NAS) is the collective scientific body created by President Abraham Lincoln to keep the country on the cutting edge of science, and it publishes PNAS, one of the premier scientific journals in the world. The similarly titled National Association of Scholars is a front group designed to look like a real scientific society, but in reality serves to attack science in service of anti-regulatory ideology.

tom toles climate change denial fire

By Climate Denier Roundup

We’ve previously touched on their obsession with “reproducibility” as a front for undercutting the science that justifies regulations, something UnDark explored more fully. Now they’re organizing an event on the topic in partnership with the Koch/Exxon/etc-funded Independent Institute, and academics have pushed back on the group’s transparent ploy.

For example, Dr. Dorothy Bishop’s blog post points to how the group is using the classic Merchants of Doubt approach, and that the event is “weaponising the reproducibility debate to bolster the message that everything in science is uncertain – which is very convenient for those who wish to promote fringe ideas.”

In response to some tweets and blog posts pointing to their publishing of climate denial, misogyny and white supremacy, along with the complete and total lack of women on any of the conference panels, they’ve responded in the one outlet seemingly always available to those who have been egregiously censored, the Wall Street Journal.

With a headline warning that “cancel culture has come to science,” fake-NAS president Peter Wood complains about all the mean tweets (rightly) pointing out the group’s conservative bent, deceptive name, climate denial, and utter lack of a single woman on a panel. (What is this, the Oscars?)

One of the sessions is on environmental sciences and the irreproducibility crisis, and features longtime denier-for-hire Patrick Michaels, among others. No doubt they’ll claim that climate science is a field where studies can’t be reproduced, and that all the scientists are cooking the books and making up the whole big hoax.

So let’s back up just a second and take a slightly closer look at Wood’s op-ed. He opens the piece complaining about how “an unhappy side effect of the digital age is ‘cancel culture’”, where “anyone with an attitude of moral superiority and a twitter account can try to shut down an event where opinions he dislikes are likely to be spoken.” “Now,” he laments “the cancel caravan has arrived at our door.”

He goes on to express concern about science institutions making it a point to ensure that women are represented in conferences, which he sees as science “willingly subjecting itself to the yoke of political orthodoxy.”

Which is ironic, given that his organization exists to justify politically correct but scientifically suspect conservative policy positions.

But the even greater irony is that he portrays cancel culture as being both new and somehow anathema to science, when in reality, the scientific method has always been the process of testing ideas – and cancelling the ones that are false.

Cancel culture hasn’t come to science — it is science!

(Crossposted from DailyKos. Cartoon by Tom Toles from the Washington Post – get his book on climate change co-written with Michael Mann, The Madhouse Effect.)

About the Author