[FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW] All the major climate models fail to address the complexities of one key variable, says Nobel laureate John Clauser. He won the 2022 Nobel Prize in physics for his contributions to quantum mechanics.
Mr. Clauser was one of two Nobel laureates to recently sign a declaration organized by the Clintel Foundation alongside 1,600 other scientists and professionals, stating “there is no climate emergency.”
In this episode, Mr. Clauser breaks down why he considers the major climate models to be flawed, and why he believes America’s climate policies are wasteful, misguided, and counterproductive.
FULL TRANSCRIPTJan Jekielek: Dr. John Clauser, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Dr. John Clauser: Thank you.
Mr. Jekielek: Dr. Clauser, first of all, congratulations on winning the 2022 Nobel Prize for physics. I've always been fascinated with this realm of quantum entanglement, which has been called spooky action at a distance. But you have been in the news recently over another issue, which is climate change. How did you become interested and involved in this?
Dr. Clauser: I have been interested in climate science for most of its history, including back to Al Gore's original movie. I have been rather distressed about the poor quality of the science that is being done. In fact, back in 2010, there were any number of requests for comments by the American Physical Society, which I responded to, and all of which were totally ignored.
When I was in Stockholm and talking to the prize committee who awarded my prize in physics, I pointed out to them that I disagreed with the 2021 Nobel Prize that they had given. I believe that the dominant process in controlling the climate has been totally misidentified. They identify it as due to carbon dioxide, and I identify it totally differently. If you go back through and read all of the various IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] reports, the National Academy reports, and the Royal Society reports, they all are totally clueless. They frequently even admit to being totally clueless as to the effects of clouds.
Actually, one of the things that got me interested in studying this was being a sailboat racer. I raced across the Pacific Ocean at least a dozen times. I remember that I had set up my boat with solar panels to charge the batteries. We were sailing along, I was lying in my berth, and I had an ammeter on the power output from the solar panels.
I noticed every time we sailed under a cloud, the output from the solar panels dropped by 50 percent to half of the value that it was. Then we came out from behind the cloud and boom, their power went back up. I thought, “I wonder why it's just about a factor of two." Then I spent a fair amount of time staring at clouds—how they move and how they appear. Just from sailing across the Pacific Ocean many times, one needs to study these things. Therefore, I became very curious as to how clouds work.
When the climate issues came along, I very quickly realized that cloud cover has a profound effect on the earth's heat input, that the clouds are reflecting a massive amount of light back out into space. I then read all of the various IPCC reports and National Academy reports on this. As a physicist, I had worked at some excellent institutions; Caltech, Columbia, and Cal Berkeley, where very careful science needed to be done. Reading these reports, I was appalled at how sloppy the work was. In particular, it was very obvious even in the earliest reports and on through to the present that clouds were not at all understood and were very poorly treated, with it simply being bad science.
Mr. Jekielek: Of course, you’re an expert in quantum mechanics. Has anyone said to you, "Hey, stay in your lane. Climate change isn't your thing."
Dr. Clauser: What I was told when I was doing the quantum mechanics experiments was, "Everybody knows the results of the experiment, and it's unimportant. You're wasting your time." These were the experiments that I did that won the Nobel Prize. But I was told very specifically, "What a waste of time and effort. You're wasting money that could be otherwise spent doing some real physics."
Mr. Jekielek: That is absolutely astounding. Before we jump into climate change, please explain to us what your experiment found.
Dr. Clauser: That was work that I did over 50 years ago that actually started when I was still a graduate student at Columbia. I read a fascinating paper by John Bell, and realized that this was a way of settling a years-old argument between Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger on one hand, and Niels Bohr and John von Neumann on the other hand.
Number one, I realized that they never resolved the details of their discussion. Number two, I realized that I could actually design an experiment to test and see which side of the argument was right. I did exactly that. It showed that it's a very real process, that particles remain quantum mechanically entangled, no matter how far apart they are separated. In my experiment, we had bare particles separated maybe 20 feet apart, and they were still entangled.
Now experiments have been done where they are 1000 kilometers apart, and still remain entangled. Everybody told me at the time, "You got the results that everybody expected. We all knew that Bohr was right and Einstein was wrong." It got filed away and took 50 years to be recognized as a rather important feature of physics.
Quantum entanglement was not only misunderstood up until then, but was actually very useful. Once it became useful, that really got people's attention. There was money coming in from the CIA and NSA who realized that it could be used for encrypted communication. Once money became part of the deal, everybody took notice.
Mr. Jekielek: When I first learned about this many years ago, it captured millions of people's imagination. You have one particle thousands of kilometers away, and when it changes its polarity, and the other particle instantaneously changes as well.
Dr. Clauser: That's the tricky bit, and you don't know. There are two questions. One is whether or not it has these properties to start with. If you want to change the property of one of the particles, you need to claim that it indeed has the said properties. Effectively, what quantum mechanics says is that it does not have these properties before you measure them. Bohr was arguing, “Don't ask why it doesn't, it just doesn't. Just accept it.” I found that very disturbing and distressing to believe. I didn't understand it and Einstein similarly didn't buy Bohr's arguments.
Mr. Jekielek: In the end, Bohr was vindicated through your experiments, if I understand that correctly.
Dr. Clauser: Einstein was clearly wrong. Einstein's whole program appears to be in shambles, including some of the fundamental pillars behind general relativity. But I don't know that Bohr's, "Don't ask, don't tell," is particularly satisfying either.
Mr. Jekielek: Perhaps that’s a topic for another show. Let's dive into climate change here. Please tell us how clouds, which are obviously a very important part of our system, have somehow been overlooked in these models.
Dr. Clauser: There is an interesting history behind that. That goes back to the original National Academy report in 2003, and then percolated through all of the various IPCC reports. One of the more important things that's happened recently is that Barack Obama's former science advisor, Steve Koonin, recently published a very important seminal book called, Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters.
It's a very important book, and its basic message is that the IPCC has 40 different computer models, all of which are making predictions, and all of which are being quoted by the press as predicting a climate crisis apocalypse. The problem is they are in violent disagreement with each other in their predictions. Not one of them is capable of predicting retroactively, and explaining the history of the earth's climate for the last a hundred years.
He finds this very distressing, and he then correspondingly says or believes that there is an important piece of physics that is missing in virtually all of these computer models. What I'm adding to the mix here is that I believe I have the missing piece of the puzzle, if you will, that has been left out in virtually all of these computer programs—the effect of clouds. The 2003 National Academy report totally admitted that they didn't understand it, and they made a whole series of mistaken statements regarding the effects of clouds.
If you look at Al Gore's movie, he insists on talking about a cloud-free earth. The only way he can do this is to generate an image from one from the mosaic of photos taken on a cloudless day covering the whole earth. That's a totally artificial earth, and a totally artificial case for using a model. This is pretty much what the IPCC and others use—a cloud-free Earth. You can look at pictures of the earth, and there is invisible light, i.e. real sunlight, the stuff that heats the earth.
The infrared reradiation is the stuff that cools the earth, and it's the balance between these two that controls the air's temperature. The important piece of the puzzle that has been left out is trying to do this all with a cloud-free earth, when the real earth is shrouded in clouds. I have some satellite pictures of the earth, I don't know if you can show them. These are all freely available on NASA's website. They show cloud cover variations anywhere from 5 to 95 percent. Typically, the earth is shrouded in clouds, at least between a third of its area to two thirds of its area, and it fluctuates.
The cloud cover fraction fluctuates quite dramatically on daily and weekly timescales. We call this weather. You can't have weather without having clouds. It is this fluctuation in the cloud cover of the earth that causes a sunlight reflectivity thermostat that controls the climate, controls the temperature of the earth, and stabilizes it very powerfully and very dramatically, a mechanism heretofore totally unnoticed.
I call it an elephant in the room, hiding in plain sight, that nobody seems to have noticed. I can't imagine why not. But there were similar elephants in the room in quantum mechanics that I discovered. The variation in the cloud cover, the importance in the actual power balance, is 200 times more powerful than the small effect of CO₂ and methane. Methane and CO₂ are comparable in the total heat loss.
Let me give you an example of how this mechanism works. First off, you have to notice that the earth is two thirds ocean, and that's where most of the importance of the clouds comes in. Sunlight is the heating mechanism. Clouds appear bright white. Ground and oceans are very dark and reflect very little light. But clouds reflect 90 percent of the sunlight that hits them, and it gets reflected back out into space where it no longer comes to the earth, and no longer heats the earth.
If you've only got a third of cloud cover, you now have lots and lots of sunlight impinging on the ocean, which evaporates seawater, and seawater forms water vapor. The water vapor floats up into the sky and forms clouds. It forms lots and lots of clouds, because the cloud creation rate is very high. We started out with a too low set of clouds, then we have an increasing number, and finally, we end up with very high cloud coverage.
Let’s imagine it's two thirds. Let me give you an example. If you want to read a book on an overcast day, indoors, without turning the lights on, it's just too dark. You can't do it without turning the lights on. The question is where did all that sunlight go? It's coming in through the window as scattered light, but boy it's a lot darker now. Where did it go? There's only one place it can go. It got scattered back out into space where it's no longer heating the earth.
We now have the total power input coming into the earth is now much, much smaller. Okay, this is happening on the oceans too. If you have large cloud cover, clouds create shadows. You can see this by watching clouds pass over.
The oceans are now shadowed, and the shadows don't have enough energy to evaporate anywhere near as much water. We have too much cloud cover, and then we reduce the evaporation rate of water. That then reduces the production of clouds. We now have these two competing clouds.
The power loss is like 104 watts per square meter when we only have a one third cloud cover, and 208 watts per square meter of surface area of the earth when we have a very low cloud cover. The difference between those is the order of 104 watts per square meter or a surface area. That needs to be compared with this minuscule half-a-watt per square meter of surface area that CO₂ contributes.
The power in this thermostat in terms of what you can refer to as radiative forcing, this is how many watts per square meter of surface area are involved, and it is 200 times more powerful than the effect of CO₂, and methane. I then assert that this is so powerful. It's like your house has a huge furnace with a very accurate thermostat controlling its temperature, and somebody leaves open a minor, a small bathroom window, and there's a small heat leak. Would the rest of the house notice a change in temperature? It will not if your thermostat is working well.
This is clearly the most important, controlling mechanism for the earth's temperature and climate, and it dwarfs the effect of CO₂ and methane. All the government programs that are designed to limit CO₂ and methane should be immediately dropped. We're spending trillions of dollars on this. It's like Everett Dirksen's famous line, "A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money."
Mr. Jekielek: Dr. Clauser, it's common sense that cloud cover would play a role in these IPCC climate models, but are you suggesting that in none of these models the cloud cover is actually included?
Dr. Clauser: Indeed, and in fact, Koonin mentions this in his book. They really didn't mention anything like this in the early IPCC reports. Finally in 2013, in the so-called AR5 report, they finally got a big section on clouds, but none of these properties that I have just mentioned, the fact that we have this huge fluctuation in cloud cover, and the fact that the cloud reflectivity is varying by this huge amount of power loss out into space. None of that is mentioned.
With all these models, they've gone to great effort to mention the Earth's albedo. That's the average reflectivity of sunlight, if you will, the reflectivity fraction of sunlight. They all say, "What is it?" It's 0.3. Koonin mentions, "If somehow it got raised to 0.31, that would only take a 5 percent increase in average cloud cover. That would totally wipe out the effects of doubling CO₂." Nobody seems to notice that this huge variation from 5 to 95 percent cloud cover is quite visible. I have no idea how they could have missed that.
Mr. Jekielek: What I'm hearing strains all credulity. There's one factor of the albedo, which is this reflectivity measure. It's just basically kept the same throughout all these different models, even though the reality is so dramatically different.
Dr. Clauser: It is kept the same. In fact, there have been any number of worse proposals and totally silly ideas like painting all the roofs in the world white, and all the highways white. You can't see any roofs from the satellite pictures. The total area of the roof is vanishingly small, and there's no way it's going to affect the power balance.
Some of these geo-engineering proposals and solar radiation management proposals are totally silly and outrageously expensive. For one of the proposals, we're talking about a trillion dollars a year to spend on solar radiation management. What I am asserting here is that the earth provides its own solar radiation management. It's built-in, and it occurs naturally. It works, it's very effective, and it's free. You don't need to spend trillions of dollars per year.
Mr. Jekielek: Do you have any idea how there could be an oversight of this nature around this variable that's so important in this equation?
Dr. Clauser: I ran into two other elephants in the room when I was studying quantum mechanics. Virtually all of the quantum mechanics experts and physicists in the world seem to have ignored them. It’s obvious when you see them and think about them, but not obvious if you haven't.
For example, I discovered a point made by Max Born, about the difference between the two Schrodinger equations, that they're working in totally different spaces. When Bohr was talking to Einstein, each one was assuming the other was working in a different space. One was working in configuration space, and one was working in laboratory space.
For some reason these two very bright guys didn't seem to notice that they were arguing past each other, then talking about formulations of the wave function in these two totally different spaces. This went on for 80 years until I pointed out in a recent paper. Yes, things like this do occur.
Mr. Jekielek: Are the IPCC modelers rushing to incorporate these changing variables of albedo according to actual, real measurements?
Dr. Clauser: Not to my knowledge, not yet. I haven't talked to any of the modelers, and no one has yet contacted me. In fact, my comments to you and others more recently are the first revelation of all this.
Mr. Jekielek: It's absolutely of profound significance. This issue of trying to mitigate anthropogenic climate change is becoming a dominant force in politics, in how entire countries are organizing themselves.
Dr. Clauser: I agree the whole world is doing all of this. A lot of the pressure is actually coming from Europe and all of these various world conferences. All of this started out with Al Gore's movie, which has a lot of incorrect science built into it.
Mr. Jekielek: This is an interesting question as well. When we were talking offline, you mentioned that in this area there's quite a lot of pseudoscience, essentially, things that are accepted as true, but have not been rigorously proven by any means. This is actually a general issue in many fields, not just in this one.
Dr. Clauser: With climate change in particular, there is actually very dishonest disinformation that has been presented by various politicians. One of the most important instances was done by NOAA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association. In 2013, there was an article in Physics Today, the standard technical news journal for physicists. It was written by two non-scientists, Jane Lubchenco and Thomas Karl.
Lubchenco was the undersecretary of commerce for climate change and Karl was the director of NOAA for climate change. They published a very egregious piece of disinformation in Physics Today. How it got past referees, assuming there were referees for Physics Today, I don't know. But this was in the era when climate change was being rebranded. If you recall, originally, we referred to this as global warming. All of a sudden, somewhere around 2013 it got rebranded as climate change.
The question is, “Why are we changing the name?” The reason that was given at the time was "Because it's really more than just warming. Nobody minds if it's a degree warmer, but it's the effects." The claimed effects are that we'll have a dramatic increase in extreme weather events; landfalling hurricanes, hot spells, cold spells, floods, and droughts. Horrible things and apocalyptic things will occur as a result of global warming. We're going to call it climate change.”
This Physics Today article produced an extreme weather event index, which was some weighted average of the number of droughts, floods, and hurricanes. They tallied from NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] data what this index was for 100 years. Then they presented plots of this index value that they created for 100 years. In the headlines of their article, they said that the extreme weather events are all being caused by global warming, and that their frequency has been dramatically rising, especially in the last three decades.
When I was working at Cal Berkeley on my various experiments in quantum mechanics, I became associated with two very important Nobel laureates, Luis Alvarez and Charlie Townes. Luis Alvarez is very famous for having developed the so-called five-sigma criterion for believability of experiments in physics. Physics is the only science that uses that.
The standard for believability, especially in medicine, in economics, and in climate change is far weaker. These two men would look at data like those presented by Lubchenco and Karl, and Alvarez, a rather gruff guy, would growl and say, "Flattest line I ever saw." Charlie Townes was a bit more applied. He would say, "I don't see in the data what you're telling me that I am supposed to see."
I just simply traced their data printed in the article out of the graphic. I plotted it twice, once forwards properly, and once time reversed. I plotted a hundred years ago with today, and vice versa so that time was increasing to the left. You can't tell them apart. If you can't tell which way time is going, then it's very difficult to claim that it's obvious that the climate extremes index is increasing.
My question is, are you really willing to bet trillions of dollars that you know which is right? Is it really increasing? It is clearly not. Moreover, one of the things I noticed in reading Steve Koonin's book, which is conspicuously absent in their list of extreme weather events, is that they left out the frequency of EF3-plus tornados.
If you add them in, it's actually clearly decreasing. The frequency of high-energy tornadoes has actually been decreasing, certainly in the last 50 years. In my opinion, this is a rather egregious breach of honesty by the U.S. government and by NOAA, and it is clearly done by political persuasion. How the mechanics of political persuasion works, I have no idea. All I have noticed is that the Physics Today article is total crap.
Mr. Jekielek: Not only are these extreme weather events not increasing, but our ability to mitigate them has increased, so they're just not as much of an issue.
Dr. Clauser: I don't think there's anything we can do. It's there. Mark Twain's old line still applies, "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." That was one of these geoengineering proposals, which are outrageously expensive, but they're totally ineffectual. There's no way you're going to have any effect.
By surprise, people are upset, and that is good news. The good news is we don't need to worry about CO₂, or worry about methane. The worry about global warming is all a total fabrication by shock journalists and dishonest politicians.
Mr. Jekielek: There's a huge bureaucratic infrastructure, let's call it an industry, that has developed. I don't know what it's worth, but maybe hundreds of billions of dollars or even trillions of dollars. It's very big.
Dr. Clauser: Yes, trillions of dollars. One of the problems that I've been encountering is that once you have made a decision based on this incorrect information, you are pretty much wedded to defend it. People in great power who have made these decisions are very unhappy having it revealed or being accused of having made incorrect trillion-dollar decisions.
Mr. Jekielek: Have you asked other scientists, or especially people involved in this specific field to look at what you've discovered and give their opinion on it, from their expert perspective?
Dr. Clauser: Yes. Just recently the text of the talk that I was going to give that I sent you was sent off, and I'm waiting for additional comments from Will Hopper who was Clinton's science advisor and runs the CO₂ coalition, and Steve Koonin, who was Obama's climate advisor, who are very bright physicists. In discussions with various other physicists I have had no one who's been able to, or has shown me where I'm wrong, but it will take time to get studied.
Mr. Jekielek: You're making a project now of finding different elephants in the room, so to speak. Is that right?
Dr. Clauser: That is what physicists do, you notice that the emperor is stark naked. One problem that many have is that if you really look at data, and you follow it carefully, it may lead you to politically incorrect areas. Do you really want to go there? It doesn't bother me, but it bothers others. Personally, I am in favor of truth. That's what physicists do. It is to discover natural truth.
Mr. Jekielek: Do you make a distinction between politically motivated scientific literature and pseudoscience?
Dr. Clauser: Indeed, I gave a talk recently in Korea where I pointed out that there are really two different kinds of truth. There is what physicists do, or at least what we should do; to look, observe nature and make conclusions from what we actually see from our observations and experiments. That constitutes truth. If the experiments are done carefully and analyzed critically, and peer-reviewed by others, that's what physicists do. They cross check each other's work, and try to come up with new understanding.
Businessmen, politicians, and journalists, all have a very different mode of truth, and that is the perception of truth. Perception of truth is whether or not you can sell it. If you can sell it, it must be true. If you can't sell it, it must be false. Now, this has nothing to do with the real truth, which is what you would get by going out and measuring it, and getting real data as to what the truth is.
But an important difference between the two kinds of truth is that perception of truth is malleable, that is, you can change it. Imagine if you can't sell it, but you still want to sell it. That's all right, you can just change the truth. But how do we do that? By advertising, and we call it product differentiation.
We want to show that there's a difference between our product and somebody else's product, even though there is none, so we create this difference, and we can change the truth, Whereas, with real truth, you can't change it. The experiments and the observations are the truth. For example, the IPCC perceives that the cloud cover is constant, although, clearly it does not agree with the observations. All you can do is just look at the satellite pictures, and you can see that it's highly variable.
This could be used in very dishonest ways by intentionally promoting false information, also known as disinformation. They call it promotion or advertising. When politicians and governments do it, they call it spin, and they call it propaganda. It really has very little to do with reality. They just simply need this to be true to promote whatever product they're selling, whatever purpose they have in mind, or whatever wars they want to create. They have been doing this for centuries with propaganda.
The problem then is that this has all become totally pervasive. There are no referees. As of late, politicians are becoming self-styled scientists and promoting scientific disinformation where they just simply make up scientific information. This is very common in climate science, is very common in medicine, and is particularly common in economics. One of the problems is that there are no decent fact-checkers available. How does a fact-checker know what is true and what is not?
He can't know. This has particularly become apparent with these new programs like ChatGPT. It is better at spreading disinformation than the program's authors. It just simply makes up stuff as it needs to. It can't even do arithmetic. It is so stupid.
Nonetheless, it can lie, it can cheat, and it can fabricate references. There was a recent article in the New York Times where some poor lawyer submitted a brief to a court that was written by ChatGPT, the judge looked at it, and was a little bit skeptical. Then he noticed that virtually all of the citations in the brief were fabricated.
None of them were true. I think the lawyer is being disbarred by the judge for having done so. There's all kinds of scientific decisions and nobody knows what's right and what's wrong, because it's all built into the literature. There seems to be no way of determining the difference. Like, for example, everybody knows you can fly faster than the speed of light. The StarShip Enterprise from Star Trek does it. All you need is dilithium crystals, so it's got to be possible. No, it's actually not.
This has become such a serious problem. The Nobel Committee has set up a panel to try to figure out how to deal with it. Unfortunately, they are modeling it after the IPCC. It's a big mistake for them to do that. Because the IPCC has become one of the worst offenders with their proliferation of pseudoscience. In their case, it's just bad science. Until more recently, it was just incorrect science, but now it has become politically inspired, and it requires being defended.
Mr. Jekielek: In fact, this is reflected to some extent in the findings of Dr. John Ioannidis from Stanford, where he saw a lot of contemporary scientific literature that just isn't checked out under closer scrutiny.
Dr. Clauser: For sure. Nutrition is also another field where all of this is under the influence of the associated industries. Each one uses it for competition with the other one. They say that eating a particular food is bad for you, but that food is being promoted by the other foods industry. One of the famous ones is pork, where they called it the other white meat. The guy got a prize for that one.
Mr. Jekielek: You've started working with the CO₂ coalition, presumably because you want to promulgate your findings there. What is your vision for what you want to do?
Dr. Clauser: They invited me to join. I agree with their message. It's not yet clear that they agree with mine. Their point has been that CO₂ is actually beneficial. I personally agree with that. In fact, if you pump CO₂ into a greenhouse, you can dramatically increase the growth rate of the plants inside.
It's actually beneficial in many ways, and it seems silly to try to limit it. For example, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, the CO₂ levels were 10 times higher than what we experience right now. Dinosaurs could not have survived on this earth with this low CO₂ level, because you don't grow trees fast enough and foliage fast enough to feed them. They're big, and they have big appetites and eat lots of stuff. You need the high CO₂ in the atmosphere just to feed them.
A college buddy of mine at Caltech was instrumental in this, a fellow named Art Robinson, who founded the Heartland Institute, promoting CO₂ as actually being a beneficial gas. As far as I can tell, there’s nothing wrong with it. In particular, it is what I have just mentioned earlier, it is not at all significant in controlling the Earth's climate.
Mr. Jekielek: What's the bottom line? What should we be doing here in your view?
Dr. Clauser: Number one, all of the programs which pervade virtually every part of the government, especially EPA policy and energy policy, all of them are all set to limit CO₂ and methane in the atmosphere and in the environment. They are a huge, massive waste of very valuable resources that could be being used for better humanitarian purposes.
There's a total waste of money, time, and effort. It is strangling industry. EPA policies are a total disaster. All of these policies should be stopped immediately, in my opinion. My suspicion is that what I am saying here will be totally ignored, because people don't like being told that they've made big mistakes of this magnitude.
Mr. Jekielek: What are policymakers saying to you as you've been reporting this to them? Have others been sharing what you've been talking about?
Dr. Clauser: I had a very brief conversation on my way to Stockholm with Joe Biden in the Oval Office. I only had a few minutes to mention all of this. His comment was, "It sounds like right-wing science." Beyond that, I haven't gotten very far.
Mr. Jekielek: Any final thoughts, Dr. Clauser, as we finish up?
Dr. Clauser: I haven't the faintest idea how you correct the disinformation problem. That is the most serious problem there is. I would hope that government policies regarding climate change get changed. I am pessimistic about whether that will happen, but I still want to paraphrase Everett Dirksen, "A trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon you're talking real money." This is a very serious problem that needs to be corrected.
Mr. Jekielek: I'll just make a final comment on my end. You mentioned that scientific disinformation is one of the biggest problems, and that you don't know how to deal with that. Very often disinformation is created or distributed in the name of fighting disinformation, so it gets even more complicated.
Dr. Clauser: Well, one thing that nobody seems to have noticed in this regard. With the rise of information technology, and in particular in artificial information, there has been another elephant in the room that no one seems to have noticed. In the old days, we used computers to do marvelous things; to balance our bank accounts, to do accounting, and to do scientific calculations.
Computers have had millions and millions of applications, and have totally revolutionized the world. The primary value that they had was they didn't make mistakes. The arithmetic was always correct. The sneaky thing that has somehow been sneaked through by information technology is our acceptance of computers that make lots of mistakes. I had a friend who wrote a program to evaluate very simple formulas for yacht race finish times. He put in the formula, and he used ChatGPT to generate this. ChatGPT couldn't even do arithmetic correctly.
It could not evaluate what its own formula was. The big problem with artificial intelligence is that it makes tons and tons of mistakes. Even worse, it uses the online data as its source material, and it hasn't the foggiest idea which is fiction and which is nonfiction. The big transition has been from computers that never made mistakes, through to computers that make massive numbers of mistakes. It couldn't tell you whether or not it's possible to fly faster than the speed of light.
Somehow, the big con by the artificial intelligence industry is conning us into accepting this as, "Yes, of course, they do make mistakes, but we're working on that." That is a very serious problem that I will blame squarely on artificial intelligence. I think it's a catastrophe.
Mr. Jekielek: I do want to ask you one more thing, and artificial intelligence actually does figure into this. Over the last several years, especially during the last three years, there's been a lot of censorship of scientific opinion. As one notable example, Stanford's Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Harvard's Martin Kulldorf, and Oxford's Sunetra Gupta co-wrote an alternative view to the scientific orthodoxy called, The Great Barrington Declaration. This was censored and they were called fringe epidemiologists. There is a culture of censorship. Have you noticed this, and what is your reaction?
Dr. Clauser: Some of the work on climate change has been censored. I was recently invited to present pretty much what I talked about on your program by the International Monetary Fund/World Bank Group in Washington. Apparently, once they heard my talk in Korea where I mentioned that I was skeptical of climate change, they summarily canceled the talk. This was done by the director of the independent evaluation office of the IMF. I was told that he was under pressure to cancel my talk, or postpone it to some later date. To my knowledge, it has not been rescheduled yet. They wanted to change the format to have somebody around for rebuttals. They just simply decided that they didn't want to hear it.
Mr. Jekielek: Do you think that it's okay to censor certain scientific opinions for political reasons?
Dr. Clauser: Good Lord, no. That's right out of Fahrenheit 451, the book burning. We have been through book burnings in the past. They have been catastrophic.
Mr. Jekielek: Okay.
Dr. Clauser: This goes clear back to Galileo who was threatened with being burned at the stake for disputing the Vatican's opinion on the orbital mechanics of the solar system. Fortunately he decided, "Okay, given the alternative of being burned alive at the stake, I'll stop writing about it." But fortunately, his writings on the subject survived.
Mr. Jekielek: Dr. John Clauser, it's such a pleasure to have you on the show.
Dr. Clauser: Thank you. I'm happy to have been here, and allowed to express my views.
Mr. Jekielek: Thank you all for joining Dr. John Clauser and me on this episode of American Thought Leaders. I'm your host, Jan Jekielek.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.