Frederick Seitz

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Frederick Seitz, side angle.
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Frederick Seitz, PhD, (1911–2008) was an American physicist and expert for hire.

Actual science[edit]

Seitz was actually a trailblazer in the field of solid-state physics. Along with Eugene Wigner, he developed the concept of the Wigner-Seitz unit cell, which is used in the study of crystalline materials.[1] He published The Modern Theory of Solids in 1940, a foundational text in solid-state physics. He served as a member of the Manhattan Project and was later involved in nuclear energy projects. Seitz served as the president of the National Academy of Sciences from 1962-69, when he commissioned the then-largest particle accelerator in the world, Fermilab. He was the president of Rockefeller University from 1968-78.

I've got the "data" if you've got the money[edit]

In the 1980s, Seitz decided to become a shill for any corporation willing to pay him enough. He, Robert Jastrow,Wikipedia and William NierenbergWikipedia co-founded the George C. Marshall Institute (a right-wing think tank named after a famous liberal Democrat) in 1984 to hype Ronald Reagan's Star Wars program. One of the initial goals of the organization was to attack the work done by Carl Sagan and his colleagues on nuclear winter. During this time, he was also employed by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and helped spread propaganda denying links between smoking and cancer. Seitz remarked:

They didn't want us looking at the health effects of cigarette smoking.[2]

A leaked 1989 memo suggests that these corporations were beginning to worry that the elderly Seitz, despite his willingness to continue shilling, was by then becoming a less than credible tool:

Bill told me that Dr. Seitz is quite elderly and not sufficiently rational to offer advice.[3]

The George C. Marshall Institute is notable for never being correct. It's perhaps best to think of the Institute as an example of Scopie's Law (e.g., citing the Institute automatically gets you laughed out of the room).

In the early '90s, Seitz joined the board of another think tank, the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), headed by another physicist-turned-shill, S. Fred Singer. Singer and Seitz's career paths were mirror images. The two co-authored a few works together, denying the dangers of ozone depletion and global warming. Through the Marshall Institute, Seitz helped Arthur Robinson spread the bogus Oregon Petition of 30,000+ "scientists" who "disagreed with the consensus on global warming." The NAS repudiated him.[4]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  • Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. Merchants of Doubt. Bloomsbury Press, 2011. ISBN 1-608-19394-2