Review Of Koonin’s “Unsettled”…Government, Scientific Institutions As “Instruments Of Hostile Forces”

A German scientist asked if I would post the following text on behalf of William Walter Kay

Koonin’s Sociology of Climatology


By William Walter Kay BA JD

Although focused on hard science, Koonin’s Unsettled broaches Sociology of Climatology in Chapter 10 (WHO BROKE “THE SCIENCE” AND WHY); commencing:

Can it really be that a multiplicity of stakeholders in climate matters – scientists, scientific institutions, activists and NGOs, the media, politicians – are all contributing to misinformation in the service of persuasion?”

Koonin answers “yes”, suggesting the culprit is: “not some secret cabal, but rather a self-reinforcing alignment of perspectives and interests.” He then walks us through his “multiplicity of stakeholders.”

Climate apocalypticism attracts politicians wishing to keep the public terrified and clamoring for safety.

The media disseminates climate horror because “news is a business” and “if it bleeds it leads.” As newsrooms shrink overworked journalists, sans science degrees, cannot properly research climate stories:

…the general lack of knowledge of what the science actually says, the drama of extreme weather events and their heart-rending impact on people, and pressures within the industry all work against balanced coverage in the popular media.”

Governments, businesses and NGOs have “messages” that employees must deliver to stay employed or to attain promotions, tenure etc:

more than a few climate contrarians have suffered public opprobrium and diminished career prospects for publicizing data that doesn’t support the “broken climate” meme.”

NGOs like, Union of Concerned Scientist, and Natural Resources Defence Council solicit donations with scary distortions of climate science. (This is off. Climate NGOs draw funds from Big Green philanthropies, vested corporate interests, and captured government agencies. Climateworks and Energy Foundation boast annual receipts, respectively, of $425 million and $230 million. Neither solicit from the public.)

According to Koonin: “individuals and organizations in the scientific community are demonstrably misrepresenting the science.”

Scientific institutions: “seem more concerned with making the science fit the narrative than ensuring the narrative fits the science.” Regarding climate:

…institutions that prepare the official assessment reports have a communication problem, often summarizing or describing the data in ways that are actively misleading.”

Scientists hype research, fudge uncertainty, and covet publicity.

The public believes whatever science authorities say, and presumes journalists know what they’re talking about. Authorities oblige the public’s abhorrence of gray areas by keeping them wholly in the dark.

As evidenced above, Koonin references mostly generic social phenomena. Financial pressure, groupthink and hype underly all discourse, not merely climate science. Koonin doesn’t adequately distinguish climate from other overegged topics, nor explain why climate is even on the agenda. Aware of this defect, he offers glimpses into the unusual treatment given Climatology; particularly the fear-borne ignorance exhibited by scientists whenever the topic arises. Climatology generates: “an eyes-shut-fingers-in-the-ears position I’ve never heard in any other scientific discussion.” And: “otherwise rigorous and analytical scientists abandon their critical faculties when discussing climate…”

Koonin rebukes the National Academies of Science for publishing reviews of climate assessments so lacking in objectivity as to betray an intent to manipulate. A 2019 joint climate statement, freighted with misinformation, signed by each NAS academy president, bewildered Koonin:

I’m quite sure that this personal statement of the presidents in a news release was not reviewed by the usual Academies procedures; if it had been, its deficiencies would have been corrected.”

Climatology also receives unique treatment from politicos and journos. Politicians must pitch renewable energy as the only way to solve an urgent crisis; because the Energy Transition won’t sell if framed as one option for solving some distant problem. Politicians won’t discuss climate science uncertainties, nor admit the true cost of the Energy Transition. Thus, when crafting climate messaging:

…the science is jettisoned in favor of The Science, and “simplified” for use in the political arena, which allows the required actions to be portrayed as simple as well – just eliminate fossil fuels to save the planet.”

Alarmist media articles aren’t just the result of overloaded, undereducated journos. A legion of “Climate Reporters” zealously monger doom.

Koonin understands that the Energy Transition is the dog wagging the Climate Change tail:

Science should not be partisan, but climate science’s intersection with energy policy all but guaranteed that it would become so.”

as alternative energy grows, there is financial incentive for politicians to hype climate catastrophe.

Unsettled is a naïf’s confession.

In 2004 Koonin thought Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming was a legit hypotheses sincerely held by honest scientists. Few climate contrarians, under 50, can say the same.

Koonin’s main claim is that the actual scientific literature doesn’t jibe with what alarmists call The Science. His testimony resonates because he’s a top-tier scientist who’s actually read the national and international climate assessments. The thought-fields Koonin wonders onto, however, are Climate Change Communication and Sociology of Scientific Knowledge. These too are sciences, complete with literary canons to which Unsettled’s 200+ footnotes make nary a reference.

Koonin apologizes for, and defends, the science establishment. He fears a corrupted Climatology undermines public confidence in the entire scientific project. He prefers “misinformation” but describes “disinformation.” Connecting his own dots, its obvious key US government agencies, and leading US scientific institutions, are instruments of hostile forces. This, added to the Energy Transition’s hobbling of the American economy, warrants designating climate alarmism as treason. Koonin ain’t there yet.


Koonin, Stephen E. Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What it Doesn’t, And Why It Matters; BenBella Books, Dallas, TX, 2021; Chapter 10 “WHO BROKE ‘THE SCIENCE’ AND WHY” pages 185-96.


10 responses to “Review Of Koonin’s “Unsettled”…Government, Scientific Institutions As “Instruments Of Hostile Forces””

  1. nzwalnutter

    “an eyes-shut-fingers-in-the-ears position I’ve never heard in any other scientific discussion.” And: “otherwise rigorous and analytical scientists abandon their critical faculties when discussing climate…”

    All he needs to do is replace the word “climate” with the word “evolution” and the pattern can be recognised.

  2. Tom Anderson

    It is difficult, perhaps useless to consider the corruption of science while ignoring parallel forces shredding the rest of society. “Masters of Deceit” was the very apt reference to the social nihilism of its day, then the subject of anti-Communist efforts in the United States during the 1950s. The term applies untarnished today. It is not new. Political/economic collectivists have consistently turned every instrument of political and social (and now scientific) organization to their singular aim of Getting Power into hands of a self-selected few.

    But deceit above all has been the leading instrument against a faltering, baffled and to date apparently ineffective resistance. The program is intentionally designed to discourage connecting dots, because without recognizing the often well disguised coordination, connecting the parts can seem extreme and unjustified. We had better, however, look around, read to gain a bit of moral certainty, and nail those dots.

  3. oebele bruinsma

    ” It is not new. Political/economic collectivists have consistently turned every instrument of political and social (and now scientific) organization to their singular aim of Getting Power into hands of a self-selected few.”
    This follows the lines of Gramsci’s thinking (1920/30).

  4. Richard Greene

    I recall reading many reviews of Unsettled in 2021 and many quotes from the book. It did not interest me for several reasons, some covered in this excellent review.

    First of all, Koonin, like most people, fails to explain what climate science is.

    Climate science uses data and other observations to understand the present and past climate of this planet

    PREDICTIONS of the future climate, with no data (there are no data for the future), made by people with no track record of accurate predictions, ARE NOT SCIENCE. They are climate astrology.

    Koonin discussed the claim that climate science is settled. It is NOT settled. Every week there are new predictions of doom and “worse than we originally thought” studies and articles. These false claims and predictions are created much faster than Climate Realists can refute them. And that is the point.

    The “My climate science is better than your climate science” strategy that Konin uses is a strategy for fools. It has been used for 40 years by Climate Realists. Yet the Climate Howler Global Whiners today are politically stronger, and more hysterical, than ever. Climate Realists who try to argue the science, and expect different results than in the past 40 years. are insane. Koonin does just that. Therefore, Koonin is insane.

    CAGW is wrong predictions made by scientists, NOT REAL SCIENCE.
    Predictions that have been wrong since the 1979 Charney Report.

    One refutes scary climate predictions by listing dozens of wrong climate predictions made in the past, and stating which scientists made the wrong predictions.

    Wrong redictions have nothing to do with actual climate science.
    Scary predictions of the future climate are politics.

    The author of this article gets it, but he is too polite to Koonin
    Not me. I’m not polite. You can contact website author KR as my character reference. ha ha

    Science + Politics = Politics
    (Koonin does not get this)

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  6. david russell

    This is part of a much bigger matter…..the establishment of a global totalitarian state, monitored by video equipped AI, enforced by CBDC, and turning every human into an economic serf and an intellectual drone.

    We would come to reevaluate Orwell as an optimist, but of course his works will no longer be available.

  7. Petit_Barde

    Some insight on what’s behind the climate change (and other pseudo-scientific frauds) since decades :

    H/T to Ivor Cummins.

  8. Curious George

    A transcript of a 48 minutes talk would be appreciated.

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