Steve Milloy’s new latest scam

Kent Hovind has an offer of $250,000 for anyone who can give a scientific proof of evolution. Now Steve Milloy is following in Hovind’s footsteps with the Ultimate Global Warming Challenge: $100,000 if you can provide a scientific proof of harmful man-made warming.

Believe it or not, Milloy’s version is even dodgier than Hovind’s. At least Hovind says that a committee of trained scientists will evaluate any evidence offered. (Though there are doubts on this) Milloy isn’t even pretending that the judging will be objective — his own junkscience.com will decide whether they have to pay out the money. And just in case someone sues them to get them to pay they have this:

Entrants acknowledge that the concepts and terms mentioned and referred to in the UGWC hypotheses are inherently and necessarily vague, and involve subjective judgment. JunkScience.com reserves the exclusive right to determine the meaning and application of such concepts and terms in order to facilitate the purpose of the contest.

Oh, and it costs $15 to enter Milloy’s challenge. You are better off buying a lottery ticket where your chance of winning is more than zero.

Milloy’s previous latest scam is described here.

Comments

  1. #1 Ambitwistor
    August 8, 2007

    Not to lessen Milloy’s grandstanding, but Hovind’s version really is dodgier: he doesn’t just want scientific “proof” of evolution, but he wants proof that evolution is the only possible explanation, i.e., you need to also disprove the existence of God. Also, if you dig into his definition of “empirical evidence”, you find that he basically requires challengers to recreate both life and the Big Bang itself (!) in the laboratory in order to have sufficient “proof” (note that, of course, evolution = the Big Bang to Hovind).

  2. #2 Nathan Rive
    August 8, 2007

    I don’t see how they can possibly include this, and consider it a serious contest:

    [You must prove that] the benefits equal or exceed the costs of any increases in global temperature caused by manmade greenhouse gas emissions between the present time and the year 2100, when all global social, economic and environmental effects are considered.

    In other words, they want someone to look into a crystal ball and predict (no, *prove*) what will happen in the future. Pointless and stupid for so many reasons. What part of ‘risk’ do these people not understand?

  3. #3 z
    August 8, 2007

    Hell, I’ll pay $250,000 to anyone who can prove conservation of energy.

  4. #4 John Cross
    August 8, 2007

    Tim you said Oh, and it costs $15 to enter Milloy’s challenge. You are better off buying a lottery ticket where your chance of winning is more than zero.

    I would disagree with this statement. You are better off buying a lottery ticket even if the chance of winning is zero as long as the ticket costs less than $15.

  5. #5 Tony
    August 8, 2007

    It seems clear to me that this is an attention grabber — especially given the recent Newsweek story that flat-out called Milloy and his lot deniers. It’s probably not a direct answer to the Newsweek article, but rather to the general mood swing away from denialists. Desperate gimmicks like this are all they have left, and one would hope the media ignores it completely or heaps upon it the scorn it deserves.

  6. #6 agricola
    August 9, 2007

    What is it about these people? One would have thought their antics themselves would discredit (or rather, further discredit), their positions, especially Hovind – one can only imagine the furore if someone put a quarter of a million dollars on proving ID.

  7. #7 Steve Murphy
    August 9, 2007

    Tim

    I really wish you’d be clear about how you feel about Milloy – you are far too subtle :)

    More seriously, thanks for this heads up. One of the reasons I like your blog is because of thorough work and multiple links. As per the other commenters above, I am at once dismayed but not surprised at this latest tactic.

  8. #8 Wagdog
    August 10, 2007

    This is just a cheap knock off of
    James Randi’s Million Dollar Psychic challenge in the hope that climatologists will be branded as charlatans. However in the case of Randi one need only demonstrate one phenomenon that defies rational explanation, but with the global warming and evolution challenges one has to prove a theory holds in all cases and under all conditions — a bar which can be placed arbitrarily high. It is possible (but highly improbable) for someone with no psychic ability to win Randi’s prize if they made several very lucky guesses in a row. No such possibility exists in either the evolution proof or the global warming proof contests.

    And what are we to conclude from a lack of a winner of BoingBoing’s $1 million reward for proving the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not your God?

    The proper way to do global warming bets is to make predictions and pay whomever’s prediction was closest to what actually ended up happening.

  9. #9 Ed Darrell
    August 10, 2007

    Is it really a serious offer on Milloy’s part? Who has the insurance or bond to make the payoff? Bet he’s not done that.

    I am reminded of Melvin Mermelstein. Mermelstein survived the Holocaust. In 1985, he walked into the California offices of one of Willis Carto’s organizations who had been advertising a $50,000 prize for anyone who could prove the Holocaust actually occurred. Mermelstein said he accepted the challenge, and had the evidence — and he presented the well-known and well-verified case about the Holocaust, including the tattoo on his own arm from the death camps.

    Carto’s bunch pulled the usual bully tactics, and sent Mermelstein a letter saying that his evidence was “inadequate.” Mermelstein knew better, though. He sued to collect the prize. You see, this is a sweepstakes offer, and under contract law, anyone who meets the criteria wins. It’s a valid contract.

    Carto’s group prepared to present their usual string of falsehoods and quarter-truths in a fog of claims to deny Mermelstein’s evidence. Mermelstein’s lawyer moved pre-trial to have the judge accept evidence of the Holocaust on judicial note. Judicial note is an interesting point of the law — it means the point is so well proven that parties need not prove it up at trial, like water is wet, 2+2=4, the sky is generally blue. The judge looked at the evidence, and ruled that, in California, the Holocaust is so well proven that a judge may take judicial note.

    So Mermelstein’s case was a simple matter of law: Carto’s group offered the prize for proof, Mermelstein presented the proof, Carto’s group owed Mermelstein $50,000. Oh, Carto tried to weasel out of it, but eventually he paid. Mermelstein set up a foundation to remember those who died.

    The key is, is the offer bona fide? That means, is it the sort of offer that can objectively be met? If so, then anyone who meets the offer, gets the prize.

    Of course, if the offer is not bona fide, it’s just fraud on the public.

    Hovind’s offer is not bona fide. He can’t explain what it is he’s looking for.

    I suspect Milloy’s offer is not bona fide, as well. And as proof, I’ll wager he cannot show the prize amount in escrow.

    Can he?

    Milloy’s a fraud.

  10. #10 Ed Darrell
    August 10, 2007
  11. #11 LanceThruster
    September 27, 2007

    It was an interesting aside to look up the Mermelstein case, however, there appears to be more to it:

    From: http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v14/v14n1p25_Okeefe.html

    About the IHR/Mermelstein Settlement

    This article originally appeared in the IHR Newsletter shortly after the original settlement between the IHR and Mel Mermelstein. I have appended this item to the article above because the terms of the settlement agreement are often misrepresented.

    - Greg Raven

    by J. Marcellus

    With so many wild rumors still being circulated about the IHR/Mermelstein setlement, we want to remind our readers that, contrary to what has gone out through the press and media:

    The settlement agreement did not include any provision for a payment of any reward offer, and in fact was not such a payment.

    The IHR did not accept or in any way agree with Judge Johnson’s ridiculous 1981 “judicial notice” that Jews were “in fact” exterminated in “gas chambers” at Auschwitz.

    The IHR has not retreated one inch from its well-known position that there is no credible evidence to support the theory that Germans allegedly used homicidal poison gas chambers to exterminate the Jews of Europe.

    The letter of apology addressed the “suffering” some Jews said they experienced around the $50,000 award offer. It did not apologize for revisionist theory or revisionist literature in any way.

    Following is the complete text of the letter our lawyers signed:

    Each of the answering defendants do hereby officially and formally apologize to Mr. Mel Mermelstein, a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Buchenwald, and all other survivors of Auschwitz for the pain, anguish, and suffering he and all other Auschwitz survivors have sustained relating to the $50,000 reward offer for proof that ‘Jews were gassed in gas chambers at Auschwitz’.”

    Any person or organization that claims our lawyers signed any apology other than these few lines is either mistaken or knowingly distributing false information.

    (J. Marcellus was for many years director of the IHR.)

  12. #12 Ed Darrell
    September 27, 2007

    Yeah, there’s always more to the Mermelstein case, especially for the T-wits at IHR, who would deny that water is wet if they thought it would offend a Jew or a person with darker skin.

    Here’s the apology that the lawyers delivered on the part of IHR; IHR may wish they hadn’t had to deliver it, but it was done:
    http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/m/mermelstein.mel/mermelstein.order.072285

    If Milloy’s offer is bona fide, he doesn’t get to set all the rules. If he’s making a legitimate offer, a court can make the determination if Milloy rules unfairly.

    It woudl be itneresting to see whether Milloy would deny that his offer is legit, in order to avoid payment. I’m betting he would.

  13. #13 LanceThruster
    October 6, 2007

    I’ll post this over at the Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub blog site as well but it appears there is no argument in regards to the letter of apology. I am not a member of IHR nor any white supremacist organization. I am an atheist that finds the nature of debate interesting and value truth-tellers over all others.

    I find it troubling that Zionists can essentially make thought crimes illegal and that specifically in the Mermelstein case, the ruling of “Judicial Notice” can bypass what the original challenge was all about. I think one of the worst examples of presenting a supposed “proof” of the gas chambers comes from Skeptic magazine publisher Michael Shermer, whose arguments are full of logical contradictions themselves. I would think nothing of that except that he is in the forefront of trying to debunk the 9/11 Truth movements (with equally tortured logic).

    I grew up being fascinated with WWII history and up until 9/11, always saw Israel as the “white hats.” After 9/11 I felt it was my duty to further examine the conflict in the Middle East and discovered that the narrative was fully biased towards Israel. In pursuing this further, I found how those siding with Israel tended to pull out all the stops in defending the official narrative. If one truly has the truth on their side, they would not need to go to such lengths.

    Currently, new revelations have come out regarding Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty and the same sort of smears come to the surface. I never doubted the existence of the Nazi gas chambers, but am puzzled by the difficulty in actually providing evidence for it. There is no doubt (and plenty of evidence for) of the Nazi programs of mass extermination. But just as some eyewitness accounts have turned out to be false or fanciful (Elie Weisel explained that much of his work was not literal), the study of the historical record should not be blocked by those with a need to protect a particular agenda.

  14. #14 Ed Darrell
    October 6, 2007

    Lance:

    1. No one is urging the creation of “thought crimes” in the U.S. In the Mermelstein case, IHR had offered a prize to anyone who offered evidence. It was a contest. Such offers may be made legally binding if the offer is one made in good faith, as IHR argued its offer was made. When it becomes legally binding, it is a contract.

    IHR offered to pay the money to anyone with the evidence. Mermelstein presented the evidence, creating a contract. IHR refused to pay. Mermelstein sued to enforce the contract. Simple contract law, no criminality involved.

    2. Judicial note allows our systems of justice to function at all. We’d never get anywhere if every time someone went into court they had to prove up the definitions of the words they use, the value of money, that 2+2=4, that DNA can be an identifying characteristic, and so on. Evidentiary rulings are common — I’ve known very few civil trials where there was not at least one such ruling before the trial. In this case, Mermelstein’s lawyer took a chance and shot for the Moon, and made it. Had the judge not taken judicial note, however, the evidence still would have been put on in trial (as it was earlier in the motion argument). Evidence is subject to the same scrutiny, and greater scrutiny when judicial note is asked. It was a fair proceeding. IHR had a fair chance to argue against the evidence, and their arguments didn’t muster.

    So there was no bypassing of the original case; instead it was given greater scrutiny than normal, and the evidence was found to be so spectacularly convincing that judicial note was taken.

    IHR ran a risk when they made the offer, but their lawyers probably weren’t up on contract law. Sometimes when you pays ya money, ya lose. IHR lost.

    3. I am unaware of any serious claim that the gas chambers didn’t exist. This issue was also litigated in the trial in Britain, and evidence simply did not stand up to make a serious claim against the gas chambers. In contrast, the evidence generally offered to question gas chambers is Keystone Kops stuff, hoaxes so bad that they make the mind reel. I cannot imagine where you might find a convincing claim against the existence of the gas chambers. There are photos of the things in operation, photos after the war, documents, eyewitness testimony, and a mountain of other evidence to their existence.

    Plus, Holocaust deniers frequently tend to pretend that if there were no gas chambers, no one was murdered, as if there were not many other ways to murder people — also documented in use at the death camps.

    4. Israel may not always be the guys in the white hats. That doesn’t — it cannot — invalidate earlier history. The attack on claims of the Holocaust are often made by Arabs with regard to the Palestinian situation in order to hammer away at the foundations of the argument for the re-establishment of Israel in the 20th century. If no Holocaust, no grounds for Israel, is the logic. Israel may be a bit strident in their defense of the history, but they are strident for a solid legal reason.

    I wish Holocaust deniers were half so strident in behalf of accuracy.

  15. #15 Ed Darrell
    October 7, 2007

    Tim, can’t figure out why the system changed my numbers 1 through 4 all to 1s. Nuts.

  16. #16 LanceThruster
    October 7, 2007

    I believe that the illegal renditions of at least one of the so-called deniers involved the US (either as citizens or by the govts lack of action in regards to the illegal renditions). If/when I find it I’ll post it in the comments. Nevertheless, examining the Holocaust and coming up with anything not in line with the official narrative is afforded a status that no other position or pseudo-science is given. This should trouble anyone who supports reason and intellectual freedom. I do not see the question of gas chambers (regardless of what some would use that argument for) on the same level as 2+2=4.

  17. #17 LanceThruster
    October 8, 2007

    Here is a link that highlights the problem with Americans potentially falling under the European rules regarding “illegal” views on the Holocaust. It appears that the US government is quite complicit in this regards and therefore puts every American at risk.

    http://www.rense.com/general70/manh.htm

    And to be clear, this is not a defense of Holocaust denial, especially since those denouncing it use “denier” and “revisionist” interchangeably though that is clearly not the case. In fact, Israel apologist Alan Dershowitz has created new terminology with which to refer to Dr. Norman Finkelstein (whose parents were Holocaust survivors). He has called him a Holocaust denier, and a Holocaust revisionist, and a Holocaust “minimizer.” Dershowitz uses language in a very Orwellian manner.

    It is a defense of people being legally within their right to hold any opinion, even if wrong. The way to combat an erroneous viewpoint is with the truth, not with suppression. There are legal avenues for those truly fomenting hatred and violence or committing slander or libel.

    To the return to the example here. Milloy is better combatted by those challenging his absurdities rather than some misguided push to outlaw his views.

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