When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago
it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a
threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago). Indeed, the
choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and
abstinence—it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly
gain drove few physicists. As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired
the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety
Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside there was no hint of
inordinate pressure on us as physicists.
We were therefore able to produce what I believe was and is an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering
physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere.
In the end the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted
the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report
would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be?
How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the
money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital
sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of
professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at
being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced,
with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.
It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions
of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried
APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful
pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who
has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the
ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts
very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read
that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of
the word scientist.
So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:
1. About a year ago a few of us sent an e-mail on the subject to a fraction of the membership. APS ignored the issues, but the then President immediately launched a hostile investigation of where we got the e-mail addresses. In its better days, APS used to encourage discussion of important issues, and indeed the Constitution cites that as its principal purpose. No more. Everything that has been done in the last year has been designed to silence debate
2. The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members as I have long known them. So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it. One of the outstanding marks of (in)distinction in the Statement was the poison word incontrovertible, which describes few items in physics, certainly not this one. In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety. (They did admit that the tone was a bit strong, but amazingly kept the poison word incontrovertible to describe the evidence, a position supported by no one.) In the end, the Council kept the original statement, word for word, but approved a far longer “explanatory” screed, admitting that there were uncertainties, but brushing them aside to give blanket approval to the original. The original
Statement, which still stands as the APS position, also contains what I consider
pompous and asinine advice to all world governments, as if the APS were master
of the universe. It is not, and I am embarrassed that our leaders seem to think
it is. This is not fun and games, these are serious matters involving vast
fractions of our national substance, and the reputation of the Society as a
scientific society is at stake.
3. In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.
4. So a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and
historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring
to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that
open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics,
would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation. I might note
that it was not easy to collect the signatures, since you denied us the use of
the APS membership list. We conformed in every way with the requirements of the
APS Constitution, and described in great detail what we had in mind—simply to
bring the subject into the open.<>
As James Delingpole points out, Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board; Served in US Navy in WW II; books: Technological Risk (about, technological risk) and Why Flip a Coin (about decision making). Anthony Watts describes Prfoessor Lewis's letter in these terms...
This is an important moment in science history. I would describe it as a letter
on the scale of Martin Luther, nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door. It is worthy of repeating this letter in entirety on every blog that discusses science.
Hear hear to that.