|A dirty dozen gems about|
|Not just a river in Egypt|
The Oregon Petition—also known as The Global Warming Petition Project—is a half-assed petition to the United States government, first circulated in 1998, urging the government to reject any policies based on concerns over global warming, particularly the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 (which the US has still not accepted).
The petitioners claim to have signatures from 31,072 scientists who deny the existence of anthropogenic global warming. It is probably the best known and most frequently quoted petition used by those who wish to deny there is a scientific consensus in respect of the existence of anthropogenic global warming.
Originally, Robinson had been a partner of Linus Pauling until the two had a nasty falling out in 1978, and was apparently an accomplished biochemist during the 1970s (Linus Pauling was the scientist largely responsible for the now-discredited theory that vitamin C in large doses is a cure-all). Robinson's falling out with Pauling had to do with two things: Pauling's left-wing politics and peace activism clashing with Robinson's conservatism, and, more significantly Robinson finding evidence contradicting Pauling's data on vitamin C. The latter led to a nasty feud, complete with lawsuits.
Robinson started his own organization in 1980, the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine, which at first mainly conducted research into two things: Robinson's thesis on "molecular clocks", and on civil and radiological defense matters (among other things, Robinson co-wrote Fighting Chance with Christian Dominionist writer Gary North - a 1986 paperback calling for the U.S. government to bring back its 1950s Duck and Cover civil defense programs so the U.S. would have a "fighting chance" against the Russians). It is possible the genesis of his AGW denialism was during this period; he became convinced that many of the then-current theories about the effects of nuclear war, most notably the "nuclear winter" theory of Carl Sagan, were hoaxes driven by anti-war activism and not by science. In any case he has ever since been skeptical of anything else from Carl Sagan, such as global warming, and has aligned himself with pseudoskeptics of various stripes, including HIV denialists and the anti-vaccination crowd.
Arthur Robinson also appears to be the guiding light behind Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, which should be called Doctors for Disaster Denial since the group expends most of its effort denying (rather than preparing for) potential disasters like climate change, and at whose July 2008 conference one of the featured speakers was none other than wingnut lawyer Andrew Schlafly.
 Verifiability? Eh? What's that?
What the "petition" does in fact have is (approximately) 31,072 largely unverifiable signatures on slips of paper which um... isn't really exactly the same thing. Hmmm, a petition of scientists of questionable repute to challenge a mainstream scientific view using a failed argument from authority -- that's a new one!
The barely legible sample signature on the example slip used by the project could be read to be "Edward Teller," and the word "physics" looks like it was scrawled by a six-year-old. It would obviously be impossible to verify data provided in such a format, and it looks like an invitation for every Tom, Dick and Harry who holds an opinion to send in a form and claim to be a Ph.D.
The Seattle Times reported that it includes names such as: "Perry S. Mason" (the fictitious lawyer), "Michael J. Fox" (the actor), "Robert C. Byrd" (the Senator), "John C. Grisham" (the lawyer-author), not to mention a Spice Girl, a.k.a. Geraldine Halliwell: the petition listed "Dr. Geri Halliwell" and "Dr. Halliwell." In an interview the Robinson, said, "When we're getting thousands of signatures there's no way of filtering out a fake." Scientific American examined the list and came to the conclusion that a large percentage of the alleged Ph, D. signatures probably are fake.
 Specialist in everything
However, even if one were to assume that every single signature the petition has gathered was genuine, the petition fails in three other regards:
- The validity of science is determined by the veracity of the evidence, not the number of people who think a scientific proposition is true. Thus the petition is little more than an example of argument from popularity.
- Even if scientific truth could be derived from the people who accept it, the number of signatures is only a small fraction of all scientists.
- Even by the admission and records of the petition itself, only a tiny fraction of the people who signed the petition hold a degree in any field relevant or related to climatology, with the plurality of signatures coming from engineers, who are not scientists. The petition might as well be from the general public.
 See also
- S. Fred Singer
- Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas
- Project Steve for a "list of experts" done the right way.
- National Academy of Science statement on the Oregon Petition
- Steven Dutch dismantles the "research" attached to the Oregon Petition
- Misleading by Petition Skeptic magazine
- Climate Denial Crock of the Week on the Oregon Petition
- ↑ His DesmogBlog page
- ↑ Oregon Project homepage
- ↑ Who presumably signed posthumously, or perhaps not. Teller died in 2003, after the Oregon Petition had been initiated, and in his later years had become closely associated with Arthur Robinson via their shared interest in pro-nuclear power and SDI advocacy. Teller even wrote the introduction to the 1987 Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (Robinson's group) reprint of a U.S. government civil defense manual. He probably did sign.
- ↑ Though anyone who has dealt with handwritten comments from genuine academics may see this as convincing evidence.
- ↑ Seattle Times and Dr. Halliwell
- ↑ Scientific American - Names Faked
- ↑ Fox story quoting said petition.
- ↑ http://www.petitionproject.org/qualifications_of_signers.php