Tell me who funded the research ...

… And I will tell you the outcome. I cannot find the origin of that quotation, and I am pretty sure it is not original, but I thought of it when I read this article in Science. In a nutshell, Willie Soon, a part-time employee of the Smithsonian Institution, has published a number of articles linking changes in Arctic air temperature with changes in the sun’s output. His conclusion is at variance with the well established theory that anthropogenic carbon dioxide has caused those changes. The science historian Naomi Oreskes told the New York Times that “Willie Soon is playing a role in a certain kind of political theater” designed to give the impression that there is debate about global warming.

Dr. Soon (according to the Times) is neither an astrophysicist nor a climatologist. He has nevertheless received funding from a utility company with considerable holdings in coal and is alleged not to have disclosed that funding in a number of scientific publications that require such disclosure. Professor Oreskes opines that any papers that have failed to disclose corporate funding, when required, should be withdrawn (and, incidentally, warns that universities need to look closely at this problem).

Dr. Soon has further received funding from a group called Donor’s Trust, which according to Science funnels anonymous donations to groups “championed by political conservatives.” Further, Greenpeace has asked the IRS to investigate whether Dr. Soon has been supported by a foundation funded by Charles Koch, possibly in violation of rules that prohibit non-profits from trying to influence legislation.

The Times reports that Dr. Soon has received a “warm welcome” from such luminaries as Sen. James Inhofe, who believes or pretends to believe that climate change is a widespread hoax.

The Smithsonian Institution, for its part, has sicced its Inspector General on Dr. Soon; the IG will investigate whether Dr. Soon has violated the conflict-of-interest policies of the journals in which he published.