Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Bjørn Lomborg (born January 6, 1965) is a political scientist and former director of the Institute for Environmental Assessment in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2001, he attained significant attention by penning The Skeptical Environmentalist, a controversial book whose main thesis is that many of the claims and dire predictions of environmentalists are exaggerated.
His professional areas of interest include the simulation of strategies in collective action dilemmas, simulation of party behavior in proportional voting systems, use of surveys in public administration, and use of statistics in the environmental arena.
Lomborg was listed in the list of TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people of 2004.
Bjørn Lomborg earned a Ph.D. at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, 1994. He was an associate professor, lecturing in statistics, in the Department of Political Science at the University of Aarhus. In 1998, he published four lengthy articles about the state of our environment in the leading Danish newspaper Politiken, which according to him "resulted in a firestorm debate spanning over 400 articles in major metropolitan newspapers."
In November 2001, he was selected "Global Leader for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. In March 2002, the newly elected center-right prime minister appointed Lomborg to run Denmark's new Institute for Environmental Assessment.
Lomborg declared on the 22nd of June 2004 his decision to resign from his post to go back to the University of Aarhus, citing that his work in the institute was done, and that he better could service the public debate from the academic sector. But he left the University on February 1, 2005.
Accusations of scientific dishonesty
Complaint to the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD)
Several enviromental scientists brought a complaint to the DCDS.
6 January 2003: The DCDS reaches its decision in the complaint against Bjørn Lomborg’s book The Sceptical Environmentalist. The book was published by the Cambridge University Press in 2001.
The main point of the DCDS’s decision of 6 January 2003 is that from an objective point of view, it was a question of scientific dishonesty on the part of Bjørn Lomborg, because, among other reasons, the book was based on a systematically biased choice of data.
Because of Bjørn Lomborg’s lack of scientific expertise in the themes treated in the book, however, the DCDS did not find that Bjørn Lomborg had shown intentional or gross negligence. Bjørn Lomborg was therefore acquitted of the accusations of having acted in a manner considered scientifically dishonest. But the DCDS stated, at the same time, that he had clearly acted contrary to good scientific practice.
13 February 2003: Bjørn Lomborg files a complaint with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation against the DCDS’s decision of 6 January 2003.
17 December 2003: The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation makes a decision in the case. The Ministry finds that the DCDS has made a number of procedural errors namely;
- — The DCSD did not use a proper standard for deciding "good scientific practice" in the social sciences.
- — The DCSD did not evaluate its authority to decide the case in regards to the order stipulating that "The case must be of importance to Danish research.".
- — The DCSD did not document, where the defendant (BL) was biased in his choice of data and his argumentation, and that the decision lacks any argumentation for, why DCSD finds that the complainants are right in their criticisms of BL's working methods. It is not enough, that criticism of a researcher's scientific working methods exists; DCSD must adopt an attitude to the criticism and take a stand to whether or not the criticism is just, and why. It is exactly these tasks that are DCSD's primary duty to solve, and since this has not occurred, the decision must be remitted to DCSD, cf. what has been quoted above from administrative law of the consequence of neglecting the investigative principle. Such an considerable breach in DCSDs consideration of the case is in itself to be critiqued.
The Ministry therefore remits the case to the DCDS. Furthermore, the Ministry’s decision states that it is up to the DCDS to determine whether it will re-examine the case. The Ministry explained at a later date that the decision of the Ministry must be taken to mean that the DCDS’s decision of 6 January 2003 is invalid.
12 March 2004: The Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DSCD) have finally ended their case, rejecting the original complaints. They have decided that the original decision is invalid and has ended any further inquiry.
Among the supporters of the DCSD's decision regarding Lomborg are the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Jens Christian Skou, former University rector Kjeld Møllgård, and professor Poul Harremoës from the Technical University of Denmark.
Among Lomborg's supporters is The Economist news magazine, Patrick Moore, a founder and former director of Greenpeace Canada and some scientists which are members of HAN(Heidelberg Appeal Netherlands). Favorable comments have also appeared in Wired and other periodicals.
Discussions in the media
The Economist defended Lomborg in this way:
- The material assembled by the panel consists almost entirely of a synopsis of four articles published by Scientific American last year. (We criticised those articles and the editorial that ran with them in our issue of February 2nd 2002.) The panel seems to regard these pieces as disinterested science, rather than counter-advocacy from committed environmentalists. Incredibly, the complaints of these self-interested parties are blandly accepted at face value. Mr. Lomborg's line-by-line replies to the criticisms (see www.lomborg.com) are not reported. On its own behalf, the panel offers not one instance of inaccuracy or distortion in Mr. Lomborg's book: not its job, it says. 
An issue of Scientific American featured strong criticism of his book, which Lomborg rebutted on his website, quoting the Scientific American article at length. Lomborg removed his rebuttal from his website following Scientific American's threat of bringing a lawsuit over copyright infringement. The rebuttal has since been published in PDF format on Scientific American's website . The magazine also printed a response to the rebuttal .
Union of Concerned Scientists
UCS Union of Concerned Scientists examines The Skeptical Environmentalist
These separately written expert reviews unequivocally demonstrate that on closer inspection, Lomborg’s book is seriously flawed and fails to meet basic standards of credible scientific analysis. The authors note how Lomborg consistently misuses, misrepresents or misinterprets data to greatly underestimate rates of species extinction, ignore evidence that billions of people lack access to clean water and sanitation, and minimize the extent and impacts of global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels and other human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases. Time and again, these experts find that Lomborg’s assertions and analyses are marred by flawed logic, inappropriate use of statistics and hidden value judgments. He uncritically and selectively cites literature -- often not peer-reviewed -- that supports his assertions, while ignoring or misinterpreting scientific evidence that does not. His consistently flawed use of scientific data is, in Peter Gleick’s words "unexpected and disturbing in a statistician". 
- a vegetarian (although he is not a supporter of animal rights)
- openly gay
- known to wear jeans to formal business meetings.
He has claimed to have been a former member of Greenpeace. When challenged that Greenpeace had no record of him ever being a member or supporter, he stated that he had given money to Greenpeace collectors.
- Bjørn Lomborg: The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World. Cambridge University Press 2001 (ISBN 0521010683).
- Nichola Wade: "From an Unlikely Quarter, Eco-Optimism". The New York Times, August 7, 2001.
- Stephen Schneider, John P. Holdren, John Bongaarts, Thomas Lovejoy: "Misleading Math about the Earth". Scientific American, January 2002.
- Lomborg's personal website
- Kåre Fog's "Lomborg errors" website
- Wired magazine interviews Lomborg, June 2004 regarding the Copenhagen Consensus
- Grist magazine article featuring rebuttals from scientists working in the various fields his book makes claims about
- HAN detailed investigation of complaints made by lomborg critics Detailed investigation by a number of dutch scientists of the complaints made by lomborg critics
- Disinfopedia article
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