Saturday, April 1, 2017

#1817: Joel Kauffman

Back in 2008, avid science denialist, loon and senator Jim Inhofe compiled a list of “650” scientist who reject the scientific consensus that climate change is happening and is largely manmade. The list received ample criticism, not the least from many of the listed scientists themselves, since they did not at all question or deny AGW and would have no truck with Inhofe’s war on science. It is, however, rather interesting to look at some of the figures that made it onto the list. One of them was Joel Kauffman. Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (?). Kauffman thinks that global warming is not manmade, but that “primordial ionizing radiation from within warms the Earth,” which at this point is approximately as dumb as blaming ley lines. His, uh, thoughts on AGW have been published for instance in the Journal of Scientific Exploration (JSE), which is most famous for publishing articles on UFOs and parapsychology. Said thoughts include musings on why scientists tend to subscribe to AGW, and the explanation is – surprise – conspiracy. According to Kauffman, scientists are in a mafia-like conspiracy to promote truth AGW, and also control the media – and he uses that claim to justify his own use of non-refereed sources and conspiracy websites: “Because of the existence of a research cartel and media control in this field (Bauer, 2004), the readers’ forbearance in my use of websites and non-refereed sources is requested.” Bauer (2004) would be Henry Bauer, no less – most famous for promoting HIV denialism, e.g. in the paper Kauffman cites (also published in JSE, it turns out), but also a recognized cryptozoologist (he’s done some important work on the Loch Ness Monster, for instance) and an ESP “researcher”.

The HIV denialist connection is no coincidence. Kauffman also appears on Rethinking Aids’s list of HIV denialists, which, to put it mildly, does not reflect particularly well on him, and has himself published HIV denialist screeds e.g. in the pseudojournal JPANDS, currently most familiar perhaps for publishing Jane Orient’s hilariously inept and utterly delusional thought piece on how Hilary Clinton would be medically unfit for serving as president.

But Kauffman’s pseudoscience is not limited to AGW denialism and HIV denialism. In fact, Kauffman is probably best known as a cholesterol denialist, and has made appearances in, well, spam across the Internet promoting cholesterol pseudoscience – and why not? He has already established that scientists are in a mafia-like conspiracy to squelch pseudoscience and honest intuitions with instruments like evidence, truth and accountability, and that he is therefore free to rely on any hearsay or conspiracy he likes to support his own claims. His cholesterol denialism illustrates Kauffman’s general approach to facts rather well: “Cholesterol is highly protective against cancer, infection and atherosclerosis,” says Kauffman, and “high TC [total cholesterol] and LDL levels are beneficial at all ages.” Let’s hope no one listens to him, since this advice is, shall we say, not conducive to living long and prospering. Kauffman’s source is a paper by cholesterol-denialist guru Uffe Ravnskov, though Kauffman’s changes “may protect” to “are beneficial” without explanation, and just adds in “cancer” for good measure. Details, right?

Diagnosis: Professional crackpot, denialist and conspiracy theorist, and a good example of the power of crank magnetism. Though he’s not among the leaders or most widely recognized authorities in the anti-science movement, he casts his net wide and is likely to cause some real harm somewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, I think this guy might have passed away in 2015. Still.