Posts Tagged ‘Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’


Shame on you, Discover Magazine

January 15, 2009

 k;ask  ;fsa;dfk ; f;as; k

From left to right: Michael Abrams, author of the Discover Magazine interview; Robert Proctor, Agnotologist who is evidently trying to implement his own "politics of ignorance'" campaign; Corey Powell, Executive Editor of Discover Magazine, who doubtless approved of the smear. Ok, I admit I photoshopped the cigarettes. It's just a "fair use" joke - leave your lawyers at home.


Discover magazine’s January “The Year In Science” issue contains an interview with Robert Proctor, a professor or history at Stanford University.  The Author is Michael Abrams.  Proctor’s new specialty is “agnotology,” a term he coined for “the study of the politics of ignorance.”   This is all well and fine – he has a lot of raw material to work with since there is an abundance of ignorance to be studied in this world. 

In a previous incarnation Professor Proctor gained fame as the first historian to testify against the tobacco industry.   As a student of the history of science, Proctor should know something about the relationship between philosophy, logic and science.  He should know something about the logical fallacy commonly known as “hasty generalization.”  But he engages in an egregious example of  this when he says:

“…in terms of sowing doubt, certainly global warming in a famous one.  You know, the global warming denialists who for years have managed to say ‘Well, the cause is not proven.  We need more research.’  And what’s interesting is that a lot of the people working on that were also the people working on Big Tobacco.”

Perhaps on his next foray to the library to engage in historical research Professor Proctor can check out the resumes of the “tobacco scientists” in the following quickly compiled list.    You may do your own Internet search on these folks.  In many cases you will find their good names smeared, their accomplishments overlooked, and their associations scrutinized with pathetically cynical eyes.  I contend that their demonization is the real “politics of ignorance.”  But I won’t hold my breath waiting for some scholarly “agnotology” paper by Robert Proctor explaining how this smear process works.  These scientists, who are just the tip of the iceberg, disagree with some or all of the main tenants of the global warming gospel.