Sunday, April 24, 2016

Walt Cunningham's Conspiracy Theory: Climate Science is a Hoax

Sou | 2:30 AM Go to the first of 32 comments. Add a comment
Strange what possesses a man after he retires and looks to retain purpose in life, any purpose, any friends. Even fake friends who'll foster his paranoia and shamelessly exploit it. This was plastered at WUWT the other day as part of the latest Heartland Institute's "climate hoax" conspiracy theory.
“The president obviously does not know that he is participating in one of the greatest scientific hoaxes in history.”

Walter Cunningham
Apollo 7 Astronaut and Author
Policy Advisor
The Heartland Institute

There was more silliness, but that quote was the most blatant declaration that the Heartland Institute and former astronaut Walter Cunningham are pushing crackpot conspiracy theories.

From the WUWT conspiracy chamber

The thoughts at WUWT were also conspiratorial. Mark was only half joking when he wrote:
April 22, 2016 at 7:12 am
People honestly think it is a coincidence earth day is the same day as Lenin’s birthday?

Tom Halla picked up on the "reds under the bed" theme and added:
April 22, 2016 at 7:19 am
Naa–most of the greens I know were former Reds, emphasizing former. Try reading Eric Hoffer on mass movements and their interchangability.Fanatics tend to change topics, not stop being fanatics.

Mark, given encouragement, went full conspiratorial bore:
April 22, 2016 at 7:58 am
“Fanatics tend to change topics, not stop being fanatics”
Well put. Plus when the “revolution” comes to an end the “revolutionaries” become the enemy, of course because Environmentalism is a means to an end, once you get to the “end” the means are no longer needed, ie Environmentalists who will cry aloud when slapped with “breeder” laws and told they cant go and enjoy nature because humans are banned, only them will they see their folly :D
This is all headed towards 2 classes of humans, the serf colonies and the ruling whatever they call themselves these days, a nice manageable 500 million globally, with most of the world off limits except for the dystopian rulers.
If you doubt this, listen to Ted Turner lament us numerous humans, and then consider how much land Ted Turner owns with no humans on it, then consider his input into this matter behind the scenes along with the Rockefeller foundation and all those green groups Prince Philip (Mr “i want to come back as a virus and kill most of humanity”) is patron of.
The lefties are a tool, a tool of the few mega wealthy who consider most other humans as little more than uncivilised animals.
Once the “revolution” ends, the lefties will be chucked into the same basket as the rest of us and that you can bet on
Mark tried to rationalise or justify his paranoia:
April 22, 2016 at 8:00 am
This may sound a bit conspiratorial, but not if you go through the history of how the most wealthy and powerful has regarded the masses of humanity, it is consistent throughout. 

There are some real weirdos at WUWT, aren't there. Take p.g.sharrow:
April 22, 2016 at 7:27 am
GRAND THEFT on a massive scale and Obama is an accessory to the fact…pg 

Utter nutters. Mark can't get enough thoughts out. His mind is full of the sludge:
April 22, 2016 at 8:15 amThe irony is democrats cant see that Obama has exceeded his powers and broke the law more than Bush did
Obama basically turned his Oval Office chair into a throne 
The further you read the more you wonder if these people live in society or if they are all locked up safe somewhere they can't do themselves any real harm. Bob Weber
April 22, 2016 at 7:33 am
This is a big mistake. Barack Obama’s legacy will not be what he is attempting to manipulate it to be.
Nature will not cooperate with warmist ideology. This CAGW fad is built on incorrect premises, and once it’s glaringly apparent how wrong it is, Barack Obama’s personal legacy will be in tatters as the world turns on him because of his ignorance and machiavellian manipulations.
Barack Obama’s legacy will be one as the biggest lying manipulator ever caught red-handed by nature herself in the biggest con ever foisted on humanity. Nature herself will convict Barack Obama.
Everything Barack Obama is doing by the green transfusion he’s sticking us with is meant to turn the United States into a earth-worshipping economically anemic country, whose citizens are literally disempowered.
Today’s signing agreement is the beginning of the end of CAGW, and Barack’s too blind to understand that.
EVERYONE needs to stand firm against him. All he’s got is a big f’ing mouth. How long are we going to let this big mouthed bully push US around?

Marcus makes his contribution:
April 22, 2016 at 8:08 am
..It’s wealth redistribution, nothing to do with the climate ! ” The Greens are so Yellow they are too cowardly to admit that they are actually Red ! “ 

n.n gets caught up in the excitement and adds this highbrow thought:
April 22, 2016 at 8:24 am
Catastrophic Anthropogenic Government Whoring. 

Owen in GA threatens war:
April 22, 2016 at 9:12 pm
Look at it this way: On January 20, 2017 either Obama will be a bad memory or the US will be in a civil war and won’t be negotiating any trade deals with anyone. Now I can’t guarantee that his replacement will be worth anything either since my countrymen seem to have collectively taken leave of their senses.

References and further reading

Lewandowsky, Stephan, Klaus Oberauer, and Gilles E. Gignac. "NASA faked the moon landing—therefore,(climate) science is a hoax an anatomy of the motivated rejection of science." Psychological Science 24, no. 5 (2013): 622-633. doi: 10.1177/0956797612457686 (pdf here)

Lewandowsky, Stephan, John Cook, Klaus Oberauer, Scott Brophy, Elisabeth A. Lloyd, and Michael Marriott. (2015). "Recurrent fury: Conspiratorial discourse in the blogosphere triggered by research on the role of conspiracist ideation in climate denial." Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 3 (1). doi: 10.5964/jspp.v3i1.443. (open access)

Curses! It's a conspiracy! The Fury is Back Thrice Over - HotWhopper, July 2015

Photo: Walter Cunningham in his better days. Source: NASA


  1. The conspiracy nutters have gone way off the deep end. In one of my current lives, I'm also a fantasy/sci fi novelist. I couldn't make this stuff up. I may steal from it though. I think I'd have to tone it down a bit to allow suspension of disbelief.

    1. When did Eric Hoffer become a nutter or a fantasist?

      Those disposed to societal intervention began invoking the environment as an excuse long before Earth Day, and a lot of people noticed.

  2. So climate change denial has some support among octogenarians. I think we knew that.

  3. How very, very sad that such a man should end up as he has.

    1. Four other Apollo astronauts signed the 2012 open letter disputing the importance of CO2 to climate.

      Richard Gordon Apollo 12
      Al Worden Apollo 15
      Charles Duke Apollo 16 (walked on the Moon)
      Harrison Schmitt Apollo 17 (walked on the Moon)

      It is deeply disappointing that those who were given the privilege of traveling to and even walking on the surface of the nearest extraterrestrial body would be so arrogantly* reckless of Earth's environment.

      *The usual story:

      Cunningham M.A. Physics
      Duke M.Sc. Aeronautical engineering
      Gordon B.Sc. Chemistry
      Schmitt Ph.D. Geology (igneous petrology)
      Worden M.Sc. Aeronautical engineering

      Schmitt is also known for having claimed the environmental movement has been taken over by Communists.

    2. "NASA should begin bending over backwards to ensure data collected from its space systems is presented to the public in as objective way as possible. This has not always been the case with the leading example being data related to climate change. As a case in point, the observed climate warming over the last century is confined to the near Earth surface portion of the atmosphere... This is contrary to predictions from current models of atmospheric circulation and has largely been ignored or dismissed out of hand by the political advocates of global warming many of whom are scientists who should be more,objective."

      Harrison K Schmitt "Return To The Moon", Copernicus Books, 2006 (page 232)

      Nothing in my quote was referenced.

    3. I think the denial by some elderly astronauts is based on shock, regret, and a kind of post-mission trauma.... at the centre of an intensive , expensive, and very showy team effort to explore the extremes, they are now in a long twilight. Cunningham's wikipedia photo was taken over forty years ago.

      They were part of an acknowledged elite, encouraged to see themselves as exceptional, standard bearers for a science that was practical, constructive and pushing technological capabilities in a spectacular way.

      They missed this. In the heart of the technological mission, they overlooked something slow-moving, cumulative and of a vast scale...which has undermined part of their self-mythologising as the smartest kids in the room, with a technological fix or work around for so many physical and environmental problems. The world turned out to be a more complex place than even they anticipated.

    4. @ nick, good post - I think that explains a lot

    5. The "right stuff" were often of the Right and all male, white and healthy. Old white right-wing men deny climate change. No story here.

  4. What jackasses. I wonder what those privileged old men would have said 40 or 50 years ago if planetary scientists had disputed the flight plans developed by the physicists and engineers in the Flight Planning Branch.

  5. For more on the unusual activities of Apollo astronauts, Edgar Mitchell was a believer in ESP, the paranormal, remote healing and UFOs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Mitchell#Post-NASA_career).

    Which just confirms that expertise in one field doesn't transfer to a completely different field.

    However, I still think Walt Cunningham had guts to fly on Apollo 7 (the first manned Apollo mission) after the disaster of Apollo 1.

    1. There's not any correlation between courage and conspiratorial thinking as far as I know. There are probably other very brave "climate hoax" conspiracy theorists, though their displays of bravery may not as prominent as that of Walt Cunningham :)

    2. Real courage or bravery Sou is overcoming real fears and performing what is needed in spite of the reality.

      These simpletons turn their ignorance into a badge of honour by facing and winning at an endeavour where their chances were estimated by mission scientists as about even and they knew it! Then they lecture us in what current scientists think about things they know nothing about.

      I am special as I have been to the Moon. I got there all by myself with my talent. I have all the answers now. How could they be wrong as they are white and male and Republican.

      Their real sealed orders were 'feed the monkey!' or was that push the buttons on the flight computer.

      Most of the early astronauts were test pilots with the military. All had more of an engineering background than scientific research.

      Would you follow a man who would go with a fifty fifty chance of survival to show how big his cojones are?

      These twits are betting at worse odds that they had on their missions. Or they are so old and decrepit that they cannot evaluate the current situation realistically.


    3. Other than in times of an active draft, US military has always had a large percentage of conservatives in its ranks. It is unsurprising that many of the early astronauts were (and the surviving ones, are) politically conservative. (John Glenn was one exception, being moderately left of center.)

      Now, in their retirement, they are playing on their hero status (or they are having their hero status manipulated by others) to advance a political agenda. This is a demonstration of the desperation of the conservative denialati.

      To many in the uninformed public, "astronaut" must mean "scientist", though from 1960 through to Apollo 17 in 1972 there was one (1) scientist in the bunch, Harrison Schmitt, who was/is a geologist. Bert points out the early astronauts were mostly test pilots, which is true, though I would give them higher points for courage and skill than he does. "Test pilot" is not a safe or simple job.

      Even so, courage and skill say nothing about either political orientation or scientific knowledge, and most particularly not about knowledge of climate change -- which is not imparted necessarily even to politically conservative geologists.

      As retired heroes, these fellows are celebrities, not informed experts, and they have as much expertise in this field as does anyone with no expertise in this field.

    4. D.C. Petterson I am sorry if it seems I belittled test pilots. I used to take my younger brother (number seven) flying in an aerobatic aircraft when he was a teenager in the 1970's.

      He later became a fighter combat instructor in the RAAF in Mirages after getting his Physics Degree from Melbourne University via the RAAF Academy. He is now a bus driver for Qantas in 747's.

      To survive long term as a flyer, safety is the prime concern.

      To ignore the evidence of the damage we are doing to our Space Ship Earth's life support systems means that these Astronauts have lost or never had any ability to evaluate the scientific evidence.

      Yes I agree with all you have said far more eloquently than myself. Bert

    5. Bert, no problem. We're pretty much on the same page. It's all good.

      The simple fact, of course, is that nothing's simple :)

    6. Orac would say safety is the PRIME DIRECTIVE!


  6. For Cunningham recently, watch 15-minute video from last November, and then Q&A.

    If you can stand it, watch the whole hour of The Climate Right Stuff.

    1. After the admission 'I am not a climate scientist' he then disqualifies himself further with the old canard,'...that we have survived changes in the climate for four and a half billion years.'

      No we have not Walt, the Earth has survived climate changes, and impact by another large planetoid but we have only had civilisations on planet Earth for about 10K years at most. I will point Walt to an excellent book, with plenty of easily understood pictures, which explains the story well and has geological time laid out as an easily grasped spiral in the early pages. I have a digitally evolved version of this spiral if anybody is interested.

      The book, is the now rather long in the tooth (2001) Cassell's Atlas of Evolution, which even my grandchildren find understandable and fascinating.


    2. PS I had the great opportunity of being able to visit the Kennedy Space Center in 1971 just a few week before Apollo 15 was launched. I took photographs of the assembly on the launch pad at the time. Sadly dictates of the RN meant that the aircraft carrier on which I was 'cruising' had to depart Florida before the launch.

    3. Hell, no life requiring atmospheric oxygen could even survive until about 500 million years ago or less.

  7. Poor DenialDepot. Try to top this.

  8. Yes, well... I tried to watch that first video John linked to, and had to turn it off after about 6 mins in when Cunningham said that: "Climate science was a respected science until about 30 years ago..."

    I suppose it's no big secret that science and wing nut ideology are incompatible. Money talks. Can we please make Dark Money required reading? At least for anyone leaning to the left just a little bit?

    1. Wimp... it gets worse.

      Note that The Right Climate Stuff gang is a tiny fraction of of the people who have worked at the Johnson Space Center in Houston / Clear Lake area ... which will get seriously challenged by the sea-level rise these guyssay doesn't really happen.

    2. John Mashey the Johnson Space Centre in Houston has survived changes in the climate for four and a half billion years.

    3. PG, no, construction on the Johnson Space Center was begun in 1961 (under a different name). If I've done my math correctly, 1961 was not "four and a half billion years" ago.

  9. Sorry I was confusing it with Cape Kennedy.

    1. Construction on Cape Kennedy (originally called Cape Canaveral, and now called that again) was begin in 1950. That was, I'm pretty sure, less than four and a half billion years ago.

      The site, however, has been inhabited since about 5000 BCE, which is about 7000 years ago. I'm pretty sure that's also less than 4.5 billion years. You can check my math, though.

    2. I do not concede. I'll need to check with Walt in this matter. You do realise DC Peterson that Walt was an astronaut.

    3. There are no astronauts. It was all done on a soundstage.

  10. Larry Bell, Houstons' Yakuza-sponsored Space Architect is the oil patch's chief purveyor of Astro-PR

  11. Reading through the archived WUWT article it looks to me that this was more about promoting the Heartland Institute than anything else. I guess they have lost a lot of their funding sources in the last few years.

    But why would Anthony willingly lose so much of his own credibility to help out such a blatant bunch of shills? OK, I admit that last line contains multiple elements of sarcasm.


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