Case Against Scientifically Honest Bjorn Lomborg Dismissed

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The Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty abetted a vicious ideological environmentalist smear campaign against Bjorn Lomborg by declaring two years ago that his excellent book The Skeptical Environmentalist, was "objectively dishonest." Naturally this accusation hit the headlines. However, in December, 2003, the Danish Ministry of Science and Technology overturned the DCSD kangaroo court's decision and sent it back to them. On futher reflection the DCSD members have now decided that perhaps they'd been a bit hasty and have completely dropped the matter (see press release below).

Press Release
March 12, 2004

Scientific Dishonesty Committee Withdraws Lomborg Case

The Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD) today announced it would not reopen the case concerning Bj?rn Lomborg's book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist".

In December 2003 The Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation completely rejected the DCSD finding that "The Skeptical Environmentalist" was "objectively dishonest" or "clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice".

The Ministry, which is responsible for the DCSD, found that the committee's judgment was not backed up by documentation and was "completely void of argumentation" for the claims of dishonesty and lack of good scientific practice.

The Ministry invalidated the original finding and sent the case back to DCSD, where it was up to the committee to decide whether to reopen the case for a new trial.

"The committee decision is as one would expect," Environmental Assessment Institute director Bj?rn Lomborg said today. "More than two years have passed since the case against my book was started. In that time every possible stone has been turned over, yet DCSD has been unable to find a single point of criticism that withstands further investigation."

"DCSD have reached the only logical conclusion. The committee has acknowledged that the former verdict of my book was invalid. I am happy that this will spell an end to what has been a very distasteful course of events," Bj?rn Lomborg said.

The DCSD translated their first judgment into English. Today's announcement is only available in Danish.

No word of an apology nor headlines declaring Lomborg vindicated.

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  1. “hit the headlines,” eh? Yah, I’ve still got my NY Times with the 3 inch “Lomborg Accused of Bias” healine. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that weird o-thing on the front page since then.

    You’ve got a pretty good story about (yawn) Danish scientific controversy, and the mistreatment of somebody by the scientific establishment when he challenged common environmental beliefs. But the ridiculous media bias hook is really reaching.

    The media barely reported the book. They barely reported the DCSD’s report. Now, they’re barely reporting the objection to the DCSD’s report. The American media has treated this story with exactly the same disinterest at every stage. You made the basket, Mr. Bailey, but no way were you fouled. Stop whining, and get back on defense.

  2. Sorry joe but this did “hit the headlines”. A little Googling coughed up this from the Washington Post:
    Danish Professor Denounced for ‘Scientific Dishonesty’; Panel of Scientists Assails Scholarship of Book Praised in Press — ‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’:[FINAL Edition]

    I recall that the NYT and many others picked up the banner as well. Perhaps you should get out more.

  3. Yeah,

    It’s certainly not newsworthy that a government committee (especially in such a boring place as the Netherlands, god help them) abused its public trust to make a politically motivated attack on a legitimate scientific inquiry. Even less so that an organization devoted to exposing scientific dishonesty should be found guilty of making an unsupportable conclusion without adequate backing evidence that was “completely devoid of argumentation.”

    Why in the world would anybody care about this?

    Especially since it’s better for those opposing Mr. Lomborg’s point of view that he be forced into obscurity, especially in disgrace.

    (yawn) I’m glad that the news media only report on the really important stuff, like Janet Jackson’s tit.

  4. WUPS!!!

    Did I say “The Netherlands?” Wow. I guess I really was too bored to care.

  5. I’m not finding that, Warren. So far, the only Washington Post coverage I’ve been able to google was the POSITIVE REVIEW OF THE BOOK ON THE FRONT PAGE OF THEIR WEEKEND MAGAZINE.

  6. joe,
    The Post headline is authentic. However, further surfing is turning up more of a mix of articles. Apparently Lomborg himself wrote columns published by the NYT. I therefore concede your ‘no harm no foul’ point. My bad.

  7. And I denounce my “the story never received any coverage” theory. It received coverage at every stage. My bad.

  8. Yawn. I await the long-anticipated report from the Danish Committee on the Structural Integrity of Baked Goods, Donuts and Assorted Sweets.

  9. Positive reviews also appeared in the NTY, WSJ, and The Economist when the book first came out.

    But I supposed that’s EXACTLY what they WANT you to think.

  10. Am I mistaken, or did two people on this forum just both amicably admit that they were wrong?

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Joe and Warren were the ones to make the admissions. They seem like pretty reasonable guys.

  11. Joe, Warren, you’re being entirely too civil.

  12. Are any readers familiar with Danish libel laws? I seriously wonder if Lomborg might have a strong case against the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty. If the libel laws of Denmark are anything like those of Britain, then such a lawsuit could be quite easy.

    Come to think of it, since the defamatory remarks of the DCSD were published in English and sent throughout the world, Lomborg may be able to file suit in any number of countries under the grounds that the DCSD defamed him in those places through their intentionally internationally broadcast speech. Perhaps he should file a suit with the British courts. Is anyone aware as to whether or not British libel law extends to remarks made in Denmark with knowledge that they would be broadcast in Britain via the mass media and Internet?

    He could probably sue in American courts as well, but he would be considered a public figure and be required to prove that the DCSD made their defamatory remarks with reckless disregard for the truth.

  13. Thats more like it, Warren

  14. OK–it wasn’t a front page story like “Pearl Harbor Bombed” but the finding that Lomborg was “dishonest” was reported in both the New York Times and the Washington Post and even more widely across the world. The ideological Greens went after Lomborg because his book did garner so many favorable reviews. Heresy is not permitted in the Green Church. Also, the Danish Committee’s finding has ricocheted back and forth thru the environmentalist echo chambers–telling the multitude of the faithful that they needn’t bother looking at data that might contradict their views.

    For example, that old reptile of ecological misinformation, Paul Ehrlich dismissed Lomborg’s book in a letter to the Financial Times writing “that volume has been thoroughly reviewed by environmental scientists with the highest
    credentials and by the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty and found to be fraudulent. Enough said.”

    Actually,it’s not nearly enough said–Ehrlich discreetly fails to mention the Danish Committee considered the comments of two Scientific American “reviewers” –John Holdren and Stephen Schneider. Interestingly, both men are former colleagues of Ehrlich. So much for the “highest credentials.”

  15. Bj?rn Lomborg’s book is two years older now..out of date?

  16. I remember an opinion printed in The Economist about the time the “scandal” broke out. NPR’s Science Friday did an hour segment as well with many individuals in the scientific community calling in to denounce Lomborg. Besides right wing radio, the story died in less than two weeks.

    If amicable civility is breaking out on H&R, someone better post another story about the reasons for/against invading Iraq!

  17. To amplify a bit about Scientific American:
    Doug Rennie (sp?) who is I believe the chief editor of SA magazine, seemed to have a personal vendetta against Mr Lomborg. There was a very critical editorial and review a while back about “The Skeptical Environmentalist”. If anybody needs to know the specific issue, I could dig through my stack tonight and find it. It was as severe a loss of focus on their apolitical mission that I have ever seen, and nearly prompted me to write them a letter.

    Scientific American may not have the circulation of NY Times, but the people who are likely to care at all about Lomborg probably read it.

    Where are all the scientists on H&R?

  18. Paul Erhlich called Lomborg’s book “fraudulent?” This from the guy who was predicting global famine and stacked-like-cordwood overpopulation by the 1990s?

    Why does ANYONE listen to that bastard anymore?

  19. Off topic,

    but have y’all heard about the Utah woman who has been charged with murder for deckining to be sliced open by a doctor?

    shocking…

  20. Calling a C-section “sliced open by a doctor” is quite a spin, even tho it’s technically true. OTOH, the woman appears to “have a long history of mental illness.” Judging from the picture I saw, it looks more like she was retarded than mentally ill per se.

  21. I don’t find it at all odd that the denunciation of a book that had gotten so much press would, itself, get a lot of press.

  22. alma hadayn

    Yeah I did. I’m assuming this is a case of a mormon theocrat prosecutor attempting to force his “pro-life” beliefs into (a) the Dr-patient relationship (b) the right of a woman to chose the type of medical treatment she is willing to submit to. Frankly even in Mormon theology it’s a stretch to think the state can interfere in a mother’s decision about how to deliver a baby (the husband, yes: the church, yes: the state, no).

    It appears that she rejected it because of vanity, so I think she is a worthy object of disapproval.

    Rick C

    Whether she’s stupid or insane the “long arm of the law” needs to be withdrawn.

  23. Hey, I’m the real Mike H.! Gimme back my name! 🙂

  24. Hmm:

    “distasteful course of events,”

    I think that is Danish for “eat my shorts.”

  25. Why would anybody care about this story? Maybe for the same reason that there are mucho comments posted in response to a response to the story. That’s why.

  26. TJ-

    i remember the SA article you’re talking about. That was pretty much the one that broke the camels back for me, and I have stopped receiving their magazine. It is such a shame that they let politics creep into a magazine which in many ways should be THE anti-politics publication.

  27. the fake Mike H.

    Read the following very slowly

    “…even in Mormon theology it’s a stretch to think the state can interfere in a mother’s decision about how to deliver a baby (the husband, yes: the church, yes: the state, no).”

    It was probably crass to assume “mormon” theocrat prosecutor when he could be a “catholic” theocrat prosecutor or “muslim” theocrat prosecutor for all I know. There are people of many faiths in SLC, and I suppose that they are represented in all professions. So I should have just said “theocrat prosecutor” (Are you listening Ashcroft? Oh right, you’re zonked out on the pain pills you don’t want the rest of us to be able to get).

    anti-semetic (?) (study this word – *semitic* – memorize the spelling – I’d allow a “gimme” for a typo but the “i” is at the other end of the keyboard). How many people named Isaac do you know?

    This is not so far off topic, both stories are about a religious inquisitor looking for a witch to burn.

  28. Scientific American became extremely political about the time of the first Earth Day. We stopped our subscription by 1985. My husband is a scientist and you can only take so much PC BS at one time. Every time I see any scare headline on any type of science my first thought is GRANT MONEY, publicity is needed for that, you know. There is no innocence in science just the usual need for money. From my point of view (unscientific) Earth is doing just fine thank you, and if all we little parasites are causing an itch all Earth has to do is scratch and we’ll be gone.
    Cynical? Maybe? True? Yes.

  29. Scientific American is far from apolitical! Nearly every issue has a major article or editorial pushing some left-wing agenda matter.

    Please re-read the SCIAM article offering rebuttals of Lomborg’s book. It was written by 3 noted academicians, and it is obvious to anyone who has read the book that the redoubtable rebutters had not done so. So much for intellectual integrity. Worse, one of them mostly pursued an ad hominem attack on Lomborg, not even considering the book’s content.

  30. One of the reasons why Lomborg was so hated by the institutional environmentalists was because Lomborg was an insider once. He broke too many rules and came out of too many closets to be forgiveable. As a gay man, Lomborg should have been a radical leftist. And as a radical leftist, he should have been a radical environmentalist.

  31. Ruth, you’re awesome! Both cynical and true!

  32. Scientific American‘s intellectual dishonesty can be seen in its wonderful, blowjob-like profile of Paul Ehrlich in its October 2000 issue.

  33. SciAm’s unfair treatment of Bjorn Lomberg’s book
    even though I had not then read it, caused me to
    cease subscribing after more than 30 years with
    that magazine.
    //

  34. >Why does ANYONE listen to that bastard anymore?

  35. When SciAm issues an article as big as the first, then it will be all better.

  36. Actually, it was as early as the ’70s that I too noticed the political orientation creeping into what had been a superb magazine.

    Once, SA had devoted itself simply to presenting research in various specialized scientific leading edges, in a way that would interest scientists in other fields, as well as serious laymen. This had been its mission since about the mid-40s, when a group headed by William Rosenwald invested in it and invigorated it. But by about the ’70s the group seems to have sold out to others, and after a while I woke up to find little left-wing political homilies permeating the SA articles. So, like others here, I walked sadly away.

    Their crazed vendetta against Lomborgh was merely a pustule-like symptom of their disease, breaking out on their face.

  37. SciAm’s unfair treatment of Bjorn Lomberg’s book
    even though I had not then read it, caused me to
    cease subscribing after more than 30 years with
    that magazine.

    Same with me. John Rennie — the editor — reminds me of Dr. Zaius, “Chief Scientist and Defender of the Faith.”

    Scientific American search results for “lomborg” = http://sciam.com/search/index.cfm?QT=Q&SC=Q&Q=lomborg

  38. Ron Bailey (several posts back):
    My God, you mean Paul Ehrlich is still alive? I thought he took hemlock just prior to 1975 when the Four Horsemen ran rough shod over the planet.

  39. I guess the Four Horsemen “rode” rather than “ran”. Mia culpa.

  40. I would say that “The Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty” should officially change the “on” in its name to “of”.
    A public shaming and an asterisk along side everything they have ever published would be a minimum restitution.

  41. Just to clarify, I don’t believe the underlying claims in Lomborg’s work were themselves “vindicated.”

  42. Ron Bailey:

    “Ehrlich discreetly fails to mention the Danish Committee considered the comments of two Scientific American “reviewers” –John Holdren and Stephen Schneider. Interestingly, both men are former colleagues of Ehrlich.”

    Very interesting, because when you read their attacks against The Skeptical Environmentalist, in SciAm: http://sciam.com/search/index.cfm?QT=Q&SC=Q&Q=lomborg
    they seem almost more political than scientific. “Science lite” characterizes them well. If there was an Ehrlich type ideological bias going at work, it makes sense.

    In addition to his long record of wildly incorrect dire environmental prediction, remember Ehrlich was at the forefront of the environmentalists who, in the 1970s, confidently predicted global cooling was taking place. In fact in 1974, Ehrlich and his wife, Anne, warned that “global cooling” would catastrophically diminish agricultural output!

    But for these guys, global warming and global cooling are interchangeable and serve the same purpose. Either way, they both lend credence to the idea of a government forced change in the ways consumption and industrial production.

    If you wonder, how in the Hell this crap wound up influencing the good pages of SciAm, remember that ignoring the facts has been advocated at the very top of the political environmental movement. Recall Tim Wirth’s shameful advice: “We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing – in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”

    Also, if human activity is causing global warming, it is easier to justify government money flowing into the scientific community to address the situation. So, we have a dove-tailing of both ideological and monetary considerations that have motivated the unscientific treatment of Lomborg’s science.

    The machinations and prospects of government money and government power have damaged the science.

  43. Issac, are you anti-semetic in addition to being anti-mormon? Just curious.

    My family is Mormon, although I’m not.(in the intrest of full disclosure)

    To everyone else, Sorry to go off topic.

  44. Hey, don’t be so harsh on SA. Sure, they have some articles on the environment. (God forbid that we ever read something we disagree with. We might learn something about our opponents!) But they have a lot of other cool stuff too. I’m a physicist, and I love SA. It’s my monthly brain candy.

  45. Lomborg’s book is basically optimistic, in a political environment that feeds on crisis and pessimism. Not to mention the hundreds of millions in research funding that would be threatened if governments and foundations took Lomborg seriously.

    As for Scientific American and its attacks on Lomborg…. You stopped subscribing? Hell, I stopped even looking at the magazine cover in libraries and bookstores. They should change the name of the rag to “Indoctrinated American.”

  46. Isaac: I suppose that would be opposed the the atheocrat pro-death illiterates who wrote Roe.

  47. Me too. I dropped my long-standing subscription to Scientific American post-Lomborg roast. John Rennie has apparently decided that “Big Science” must go PC, and in the interest of same, poleaxed Lomborg not once, but twice. Anybody seen the cover of this month’s issue? Same song, next verse. (Saw it on their webpage after I was alerted by a buddy.)

    Granted, SciAm isn’t the NYT, but still. Rennie’s got a thing for anyone not cut from the Paul Ehrlich cloth and spares no copy space proving it. I don’t want science with an agenda — I want the truth. Editorialists need not apply.

    ‘Berg

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