Who is Hal Lewis? I've been studying physics for 30 years, and I've never heard of him.
We're told that
"Hal Lewis comes from the elite upper levels of science — a physics professor at University of California (Santa Barbara), and a member of the Defense Science Board advising the Pentagon).
He’s resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) today, after 67 years. The APS is the world’s second largest organization of physicists, with 48,000 members. He is scathing of the fall from grace of the once renowned institution.
Anthony Watts is calling it “…an important moment in science history. I would describe it as a letter on the scale of Martin Luther, nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door." Which is such an exaggeration it's essentially impossible to quantify, except to call it complete bullshit.
So who is Harold Lewis? First, let's note that he does not even appear to have a Web page of his own.
Here is the bio at the end of his letter (note: really important scientists don't sign their letters by including a bio):
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)In other words, Lewis is the kind of scientist who hasn't really accomplished anything fundamental worth noting in science, but has made a career of sucking up to those in authority via being on their many committees and boards.
He appears to have played it safe his entire career, and was sure to keep his top button fastened all day long, no matter how uncomfortable it was. They paid for him to fly all over the place.
I'm willing to be proven wrong. Can anyone point me towards a single important insight Lewis ever had, or an important result he's derived? An effect named after him, or a theorem? Even an ansatz?
Had Anthony Watts ever heard of Hal Lewis before this? Had Joanne Nova? I highly doubt it.
If Lewis has been an APS member for 67 years, he must be well into his 80s, or even his 90s. In other words, you can surely bet that he's not up on the latest climate date or the latest thinking in climate science, and moreover is probably basing his outrage on ideas he learned in graduate school a half-century ago.
The world -- and especially the US -- is full of such scientists, all of whom are surely smart people, and all of whom once had great potential. They rode the scientific wave spawned by WW2 and Sputnik. When their potential went unfulfilled, they satisfied their egos and justified their salaries by joining every and any federal committee that would have them.
That is really not so bad. At least they didn't become TV weathermen.
Let's note that Lewis's resignation letter does not give even one fundamental reason why modern climate science should be considered wrong. His complaints are all about secret committees and underhanded negotiations. Which is what you'd expect a long-term techno-bureaucrat to complain about.
I'm sure Dr Lewis deserves some respect. But his opinion on climate science does not. Let's move along.