During the final decade of the Cold War, President Reagan urged Americans to “trust but verify” when engaged in arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union. When digesting academic research, it might be a good idea to reverse this formula and verify first, and then, if possible, trust, the information offered.
Case in point: Harvard historian Naomi Oreskes. In a chapter in her book How Well Do Facts Travel? Oreskes attempts to unearth a connection between global warming skeptics and the energy industry, specifically a company called Western Fuels. Oreskes asserts that she has in her possession “leaked Western Fuels memos.”
“She claims she found them ‘in the archives of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in Washington, D.C.’ and advises, ‘scholars wishing to consult these materials should contact the AMS,’” Ron Arnold writes in the April 2015 edition of Environment & Climate News. “AMS is actually headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts It maintains a small Washington, DC office for government affairs, but it has no archives.”
“The AMS archivist in Boston verified no such documents ever existed in the society’s archives.” E & C News is published by the Heartland Institute.
By the way, Oreskes’ research was featured in former Vice President Gore’s factually challenged film on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth.