Recently, Senator James Inhofe published a list of 400 “prominent scientists” who have recently voiced significant objections mainstream climate science. In response to this list, I recently blogged that many of those listed lacked qualifications (see also here).
I’m betting that Sen. Inhofe doesn’t want you to actually read the list of skeptics, but just read the headline and accept their conclusion. Here at Grist, however, we don’t do what the good senator wants us to do very often. So in the spirit of non-compliance, I’m going to institute a semi-regular series where I examine the qualifications of some of the “experts” on the Inhofe 400 list.
Today’s “prominent scientist”: Thomas Ring
Mr. Ring’s credentials include a degree from Case Western Reserve University in chemical engineering, although it is not specified what level degree it is.
I did a quick search on ISI’s Web of Science and found no peer-reviewed publications by any T. Ring on anything that related to climate change. In addition, as someone who goes to meetings on climate change all the time, I’ve never seen this gentleman, so he very likely does not attend scientific meetings on this topic.
So the extent of his qualifications are: an engineering degree and the time and energy to write a letter to a newspaper.
Mr. Ring would never qualify as an expert on climate change in a court of law, nor would he ever be called before a Congressional Committee to give his opinion on this subject. By any metric, he is simply not an expert.
As should be obvious, there is no one single credential that qualifies someone as an expert. In general, however, I think we can all agree with the overall sentiment expressed in the American Medical Association’s code of medical ethics, which says that experts should have recent and substantial experience in the area in which they testify.
Sen. Inhofe, however, eschews actual experience or knowledge in his selection of “experts.” He probably views them as liberal claptrap. Under his set of rules, I estimate that just about everyone reading this blog is an “expert” on virtually every subject — from string theory to nuclear engineering to the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.
Overall, the existence of such transparently unqualified people on Senator Inhofe’s list of so-called “prominent scientists” underscores the weakness of this list. It is beyond question that the good senator would have preferred to fill his list with credible yet skeptical climate scientists. But since there are so few of those available (just the endlessly recycled usual suspects), the good Senator was required to basically take anybody who said anything skeptical, regardless of their actual qualifications.
Let me say that I have no issue with Mr. Ring. He may well be a fantastic guy. But “prominent scientist” or “climate expert” he is not.
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