Irving Langmuir, in 1958, wrote an elegant article on “pathological science.” In case Graham Turk does not know who Langmuir is, he was the first industrial scientist to be awarded the Nobel Prize. Further investigation of Langmuir is worthy of Mr. Turk’s time since he was a dedicated scientist. Climate predictions are well within Langmuir’s definition of “pathological science.”

Another remarkable scientist and author, Michael Crichton, delivered a clear statement on climate predictions at the California Institute of Technology in January 2003 in which he reviewed the famed but totally empty “Drake Equation.” In his analysis, Crichton addressed the question of “scientific consensus” and demonstrated that it is also an empty concept.

The concept of consensus was the same concept that forced Galileo to recant. Being correct had nothing to do with his survival; only agreeing with the consensus allowed him to survive!

Today, a similar consensus is at large in the land via the media. The Rico Act is threatened to punish dissenters. First Amendment freedom of speech is suppressed, particularly in universities, and that is true in nearly all universities, not just Old Nassau. 

After earning a fortune from six best-selling climate-disaster books, James Lovelock of Gaia prominence announced, during a MSNBC interview in 2012, that he recanted his earlier climate-catastrophe predictions. This he did, not from fear but because “Nothing much is happening.” Lovelock said Al Gore and Tim Flannery “were alarmist, and we should be halfway to a frying planet.” Lovelock is an honest scientist who had the strength to admit he was wrong.

Finally, Joseph Silk and Aaron Ellison addressed the pathological-science disease in another context in their December 2014 Nature article. They argued cogently and powerfully that science consists of tested results. Untestable results are not science at all. This reflects Crichton’s statement as well.

Climate-model predictions fall in the category of untestable results. Worse, as the predictions are not fulfilled by results, the predictions continue to be propelled by “consensus.” The “results” never reach the public. Sadly, the “results” have not reached the Class of 2017, either, and that is Princeton’s fault.

William Hayden Smith *66, Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington University
St. Louis, Mo.