Hal Lewis: My Resignation From The American Physical Society

From: Hal Lewis, University of California, Santa Barbara

To: Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society

6 October 2010

Dear Curt:

When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago).

Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence—it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists. As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside there was no hint of inordinate pressure on us as physicists. We were therefore able to produce what I believe was and is an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere. In the end the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be?

How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs.

For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudo-scientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist.

Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:

1. About a year ago a few of us sent an e-mail on the subject to a fraction of the membership. APS ignored the issues, but the then President immediately launched a hostile investigation of where we got the e-mail addresses. In its better days, APS used to encourage discussion of important issues, and indeed the Constitution cites that as its principal purpose. No more. Everything that has been done in the last year has been designed to silence debate

2. The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members as I have long known them.

So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it. One of the outstanding marks of (in)distinction in the Statement was the poison word incontrovertible, which describes few items in physics, certainly not this one. In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety. (They did admit that the tone was a bit strong, but amazingly kept the poison word incontrovertible to describe the evidence, a position supported by no one.) In the end, the Council kept the original statement, word for word, but approved a far longer “explanatory” screed, admitting that there were uncertainties, but brushing them aside to give blanket approval to the original. The original Statement, which still stands as the APS position, also contains what I consider pompous and asinine advice to all world governments, as if the APS were master of the universe. It is not, and I am embarrassed that our leaders seem to think it is. This is not fun and games, these are serious matters involving vast fractions of our national substance, and the reputation of the Society as a scientific society is at stake.

3. In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity.

Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.

4. So a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation.

I might note that it was not easy to collect the signatures, since you denied us the use of the APS membership list. We conformed in every way with the requirements of the APS Constitution, and described in great detail what we had in mind—simply to bring the subject into the open.

5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members’ interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. You did ask the members if they would sign a petition to form a TG on your yet-to-be-defined subject, but provided no petition, and got lots of affirmative responses. (If you had asked about sex you would have gotten more expressions of interest.) There was of course no such petition or proposal, and you have now dropped the Environment part, so the whole matter is moot. (Any lawyer will tell you that you cannot collect signatures on a vague petition, and then fill in whatever you like.) The entire purpose of this exercise was to avoid your constitutional responsibility to take our petition to the Council.

6. As of now you have formed still another secret and stacked committee to organize your own TG, simply ignoring our lawful petition.

APS management has gamed the problem from the beginning, to suppress serious conversation about the merits of the climate change claims. Do you wonder that I have lost confidence in the organization?

I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people’s motives. This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue.

I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club.

Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise. As the old saying goes, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Since I am no philosopher, I’m not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.

I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation. APS no longer represents me, but I hope we are still friends.

Hal

Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board; Served in US Navy in WW II; books: Technological Risk (about, surprise, technological risk) and Why Flip a Coin (about decision making).

9 thoughts on “Hal Lewis: My Resignation From The American Physical Society”

  1. The voice of "reason" in the form of a letter such as this is finally beginning to shout loudly amongst the howls of "false prophets" within the fake Climate Change cabal!

    Refreshing!

  2. Excellent piece!!

    To hell with the Al Gores….U.N panel ….the soros….and others.

    Climate change hoax is designed to be their next cash cow…..utter nonsense!

  3. Edward T. Adams

    This reading is both fasinating and appauling, – may I add, informing..? But when I read that the so-called "Leaders" of APS will not SHARE the membership list with its' own membership, I had a "flash of Anger" and realized that the Leadership of APS are simply cunning, deceitful, self-aggrandizers, – and I could list a few more disparaging adjectives to describe such "leaders." If your Professional Society does not collectively impeach this leadership group and replace them with APS Scientist, then we all must conclude that APS has become nothing more than a Political Propaganda organ for the all controlling Government and in it for the Money and to Hell with the Truth..
    If I were a Member of APS, I too would have immedietly resigned just on the Principle of the hiding of the membership list from each of the members.. All Secrecy is for the Purpose of disseminating "lies.." Your Leadership are a bunch of "Liers."
    EddieAdams'56

  4. Joseph P. Martino Ph

    Although not a member of APS, I am a Fellow of the AAAS. I have not yet reached the point of resigning from AAAS, but I have given it serious consideration. I fully understand and sympathize with Prof. Lewis's position, and hope that the present corruption of science may be reversed.

    In my 1992 book SCIENCE FUNDING: POLITICS AND PORKBARREL (Transaction Publishers) I concluded that government funding of scientific research had corrupted the practice of science in the US. I regret to say that things have gotten worse in the intervening years, and "global warming" is an egregious example.

    1. Edward T. Adams

      With all Due Respect J.P.M. Sir: I'm an old farmer from the Mid-West and frankly speaking I am astonished at the willing self-acceptance of your own presumed "helplessness." You use the term, "hope that" in the same way that cowards use the term, "Why don't THEY- – – ." Let me express this again in the "down-on-the-farm" term.. "Hope in one Hand, and Crapp in the other and see which one fills up first.." You have the Awesome Power of ONE, – now go Bravely forward & combine that AwesomePower with the 200+ on the APS list who feel the same and commit to a Brave Frontal Attack against the false entrenchments of your Political APS leaders.. If I had your 200+, – I would pick me just ten good MEN from the bunch and take over the APS and restore it to the True Climate Scientist where this Organization belongs..
      Do you realize that only 5 to 7 Patriots was all that was needed to start the rebel actions that pushed the Powerful British Empire from America…??
      Just Give me 10 good scientists to start this necessary rebellion & take-over of APS and keep the other 190 in reserve in case their needed..
      Only ONE good/bad Leader is all that's necessary to start the WAR.. You have 200+ willing to fight.. A true Leader steps Forward Bravely and takes Command, – but NEVER follow a cowardly one that was push forward from behind…
      Your Leadership is way too deep into Politics, and has totally forgotten Pure Science.. Digest that..!!
      Eddie'56
      ================

  5. It is also worthy repeating an in-depth investigation by John Mashey who wanted to know the truth behind the petition and Hal Lewis.

    So if you want to be objective about spreading info, spread the Hal Lewis letter, Mashey's analysis, and let the reader decide who is really telling the truth.

    Basically, the investigation found APS was right to reject the petition. Read the full 128 page analysis and if you think it is wrong, tell us why.

    See also Another Silly Climate Petition Exposed which references Mashey’s analysis.

  6. It is a sad day when an acclaimed scientist feels obliged to resign his membership to a venerable professional association. The decision by Dr. Hal Lewis to resign from the American Physical Society is a courageous public announcement which should cause others to review their professional affiliations.

    When the news of Climategate first broke, a year ago, disbelief was widespread. Since then, several other Climategate-like issues have become public. The cabal of individuals and organizations which are suppressing inconvenient data and open discussion is slowly coming to the fore.

    As it so happened, my article on “Climate Change and the Age of Wisdom” (http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/28515) was published on the same date as Lewis’ letter was posted on the internet. It makes reference to exactly that petition signed by Dr. Lewis and many others as an example of elders’ wisdom.

    The world needs more people like Lewis to stand up for their principles.

    Klaus Kaiser
    Author of CONVENIENT MYTHS http://www.convenientmyths.com

  7. Gordon J. Fulks, PhD

    Harold W. Lewis
    Professor Emeritus of Physics
    University of California at Santa Barbara
    Santa Barbara, California

    Dear Professor Lewis,

    Thank you very much for your letter of resignation to the American Physical Society (APS) over their completely inappropriate stance on Global Warming. Your letter is simply magnificent.

    I dropped my membership in the society decades ago, because they had nothing to offer those of us who worked in the Think Tank world.

    As an outsider rather than an insider at the APS, I would still make many of your points about the Global Warming scam but add some of a more general nature:

    1) The APS has no business taking 'official positions' on ANY scientific subject because science is never governed by authority, only by logic and evidence. For instance, there is no need for them to have an official position on 'Conservation of Energy,' because their members can individually handle that question far better than they can.

    2) The APS should never take any positions of a religious or political nature, except to indicate that such considerations have no place in scientific deliberations. Any official who does so on behalf of the society should face immediate expulsion. Scientists can and do have legitimate religious and political convictions but have to keep those separate from their science.

    3) The APS SHOULD take an active interest in the integrity of science by policing those who call themselves physicists but completely fail to live up to the standards of the profession. Issues of what Richard Feynman called "utter honesty" need to be addressed as well as issues of basic competence. You are certainly correct that the issues of conflict of interest, first raised by President Eisenhower, must also be considered. Many professions have basic codes of conduct that are enforced by licensing (such as physicians or engineers). This helps to eliminate the worst offenders whose practicing damages society. It also keeps the many who pretend to practice a profession (without an appropriate education) from claiming the right to do so. Here in Oregon, we have a multitude of journalists and politicians who regularly pretend scientific knowledge and judgment that they completely lack. We also have a group of individuals with some scientific training who are woefully incompetent on the topics they choose to address, including but not limited to Global Warming.

    I don't know if it will ever be possible to return science to the objective pursuit it once was, given the hugely corrupting influence of government money. But we have to try. The APS would be a logical place to start, if they were not a big part of the problem. Either members have to revolt against the leadership or resign as you did.

    Another approach would be to form a competing 'National Scientific Society' with a constitution that explicitly forbids the unprofessional behavior, among society officers and members, that has become epidemic. A stamp of approval from such a society (a type of license) would be a valuable asset, as long as their process is untouchable by government bribes. I have been astounded at how many will sell their integrity for a few years of good luck. Mephistopheles always comes to collect on Faustian Bargains.

    Thank you again for your forthright stance in defense of the integrity of science.

    Gordon J. Fulks, PhD Physics
    Corbett, Oregon USA

    gordonfulks@hotmail.com

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