Bjørn Lomborg, author of the controversial anti-green critique 'The Skeptical Environmentalist', has been found guilty of scientific dishonesty by a well-respected committee in his home country Denmark.
Lomborg came to prominence in August 2001 when the publication of his book caused great controversy within the scientific and environmental communities in both Europe and the United States. It was favourably reviewed in much of the non-specialist media, especially the Economist, the New York Times, and the Sunday Times.
The Guardian ran extended extracts in its G2 supplement, and at the recent Earth Summit in Johannesburg, Lomborg was given a slot on BBC2 on which to expound his theories.
Today's judgement in effect upholds what Lomborg's critics have always claimed - that his work is scientifically fraudulent and seriously misleading. Danish scientists expect the ruling to threaten his position as Director of Denmark's Institute for Enviromental Valuation, to which he was appointed by the country's new right-wing government in March 2002.
The Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty, which brings together some of the most senior members of Denmark's scientific establishment, spent much of 2002 considering the evidence before concluding today that Lomborg had "clearly acted at variance with good scientific practice".
The Committee's ruling continued: "There has been such perversion of the scientific message in the form of systematically biased representation that the objective criteria for upholding scientific dishonesty... have been met."
Although the Committee did not feel able to conclude that Lomborg had misled his readers deliberately, this was only because the scientists considering the case felt that Lomborg might simply have misunderstood the issues he was working on.
Jeff Harvey, a former editor of the prestigious scientific journal Nature and currently a Senior Scientist at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, was one of the original complainants who took the case to the Danish committee.
He said: "It is unfortunate that I and many others felt it necessary to take Lomborg and his book to task for the veritable deluge of inaccuracies it contains, but Lomborg has veered well across the line that divides controversial, if not competent, science from unrepentant incompetence."
He continued: "Lomborg has failed time and again to rectify the egregious distortions he makes, he has based his conclusions on cherry-picking the studies he likes, and he has seriously undermined the public's understanding of important contemporary scientific issues.
Scientists must be held accountable for serious transgressions that are committed without responsibility, and this judgement goes at least some way to underlining Lomborg's dishonesty."
The Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty's Judgement
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Lomborg Releases Defense Brief
Copenhagen - Jan 09, 2003
In the beginning of last year several complaints regarding my book 'The Sceptical Environmentalist' were handed in to the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty (the DCSD). Naturally, I have been looking forward to being cleared of the charges of scientific dishonesty. Therefore I have submitted my comments on many of the accusations to DCSD. Unfortunately the DCSD has made their decision without taking a position to the content of the complaints. The DCSD has ruled that "it is not DCSD's remit to decide who is right in a contentious professional issue". I find this ruling inexplicable and it means that there is still no ruling about the numerous complaints put forth in public. So I maintain that the complaints of the plaintiffs are unfounded.
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