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Naomi Oreskes

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Naomi Oreskes
Oreskes at the 2015 2nd European TA conference in Berlin
Oreskes at the 2015 2nd European TA conference in Berlin
Born (1958-11-25) November 25, 1958 (age 65)
EducationStuyvesant High School
Imperial College London (BS)
Stanford University (PhD)
RelativesDaniel Oreskes (brother)
Michael Oreskes (brother)
Scientific career
FieldsHistory of science, Economic geology
InstitutionsStanford University
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Dartmouth College
Harvard University
New York University
University of California, San Diego

Naomi Oreskes (/əˈrɛskəs/;[1] born November 25, 1958)[2] is an American historian of science. She became Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University in 2013, after 15 years as Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego.[3]

She has worked on studies of geophysics, environmental issues such as global warming, and the history of science. In 2010, Oreskes co-authored Merchants of Doubt, which identified some parallels between the climate change debate and earlier public controversies, notably the tobacco industry's campaign to obscure the link between smoking and serious disease.

Early life and education[edit]

Oreskes is the daughter of Susan Eileen (née Nagin), a teacher,[4] and Irwin Oreskes, a professor of medical laboratory sciences and former dean of the School of Health Sciences at Hunter College in New York.[5][6][7][8][9] She has three siblings: Michael Oreskes, a journalist; Daniel Oreskes, an actor; and Rebecca Oreskes, a writer and former U.S. Forest Service ranger.[7] She is Jewish.[10]

She studied at Stuyvesant High School, New York,[11] received her Bachelor of Science in mining geology from the Royal School of Mines of Imperial College, University of London in 1981. She later received her PhD degree in the Stanford University Graduate Special Program in Geological Research and History of Science.[12]


Oreskes has worked as a consultant for the United States Environmental Protection Agency and US National Academy of Sciences, and has also taught at Dartmouth College, New York University, UCSD and Harvard University. She is the author of or has contributed to a number of essays and technical reports in economic geology and history of science[13] in addition to several books.


Oreskes' academic career started in geology, then broadened into history and philosophy of science. Her work was concerned with scientific methods, model validation, consensus, dissent, as in 2 books on the often-misunderstood history of continental drift and plate tectonics. She later focused on climate change science and studied the doubt-creation industry opposing it.

She worked as a mining geologist for WMC (Western Mining Company) in outback South Australia, based in Adelaide.[14]

Starting in 1984, she returned to academe as a research assistant in the Geology Department and as a teaching assistant in the departments of Geology, Philosophy and Applied Earth Sciences at Stanford University.

The 1992 Hitzman-Oreskes-Einaudi paper on Cu-U-Au-REE ("Olympic Dam") deposits has been cited more than 700 times, according to Google Scholar. She received a National Science Foundation's Young Investigator Award in 1994.[15]

During 1991–1996, she was assistant professor of Earth Sciences and Adjunct Asst. Professor of History Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire. She spent 1996–1998 as associate professor, History and Philosophy of Science, Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University.[16]

As an example of studying scientific methods, she wrote on model validation in the Earth sciences,[17] cited more than 3200 times according to Google Scholar.

She moved to University of California, San Diego in 1998 as associate professor in the Department of History and Program in Science Studies,[16] then as professor in that department 2005–2013, as well as adjunct professor of Geosciences (since 2007). She was named provost of the Sixth College 2008–2011.[18]

In 1999, she participated as a consultant to the US Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board for developing a repository safety strategy for the Yucca Mountain project, with special attention to model validation.[19]

Since 2013, Oreskes has served as a professor at Harvard University in the Department of the History of Science and Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (by courtesy).[20]

Since 2017, she has been listed on the board of directors of the National Center for Science Education.[21]

Oreskes is on the board of directors of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund.[22]

Science and society essay[edit]

Oreskes wrote an essay "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change", published in the science and society section of the journal Science in December 2004.[23][24][25]

In the essay she reported an analysis of "928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 and published in the ISI database with the keywords 'global climate change'".[23] The essay stated the analysis was to test the hypothesis that the drafting of reports and statements by societies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, American Association for the Advancement of Science and National Academy of Sciences might downplay legitimate dissenting opinions on anthropogenic climate change. After the analysis, she concluded that 75 percent of the examined abstracts either explicitly or implicitly backed the consensus view, while none directly dissented from it. The essay received a great deal of media attention from around the world and has been cited by many prominent persons such as Al Gore in the movie An Inconvenient Truth.

In 2007, Oreskes expanded her analysis, stating that approximately 20 percent of abstracts explicitly endorsed the consensus on climate change that: "Earth's climate is being affected by human activities". In addition, 55 percent of abstracts "implicitly" endorsed the consensus by engaging in research to characterize the ongoing and/or future impact of climate change (50 percent of abstracts) or to mitigate predicted changes (5 percent). The remaining 25 percent focused on either paleoclimate (10%) or developing measurement techniques (15%); Oreskes did not classify these as taking a position on contemporary global climate change.[26]

Merchants of Doubt[edit]

Merchants of Doubt is a 2010 book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. Oreskes and Conway, both American historians of science, identify some remarkable parallels between the climate change debate and earlier controversies over tobacco smoking, acid rain, and the hole in the ozone layer. They argue that spreading doubt and confusion was the basic strategy of those opposing action in each case.[27] In particular, Fred Seitz, Fred Singer, and a few other contrarian scientists joined forces with conservative think tanks and private corporations to challenge the scientific consensus on many contemporary issues.[28]

Most reviewers received it "enthusiastically".[29] One reviewer said that Merchants of Doubt is exhaustively researched and documented and may be one of the most important books of 2010. Another reviewer saw the book as his choice for best science book of the year.[30]

A film with the same name, inspired by the book, was released in 2015.[31]

Other film released in 2020 was The Campaign Against the Climate, a documentary directed by the Danish journalist and filmmaker Mads Ellesøe.[32]


Together with Erik Conway and Matthew Shindell, in 2008, Oreskes wrote the paper "From Chicken Little to Dr. Pangloss: William Nierenberg, Global Warming, and the Social Deconstruction of Scientific Knowledge"[33] which argued that William Nierenberg as chairman reframed a National Academy of Sciences committee report on climate change in 1983 into economic terms to avoid action on the topic. Nierenberg died in 2000 but a rebuttal was published in 2010 in the same journal[34] which said the paper contradicted the historical report and there was no evidence that any committee members disagreed with the report; the evidence was that the report reflected the consensus at the time.[35]

In 2015, Oreskes published an opinion piece in The Guardian, titled "There is a New Form of Climate Denialism to Look Out For – So Don't Celebrate Yet",[36] in which she said scientists who call for a continued use of nuclear energy are renewable-energy "deniers" and "myth" makers. She cited an article by four prominent climate scientists (James Hansen, Ken Caldeira, Kerry Emanuel and Tom Wigley) saying nuclear power must be used to combat climate change.[37] An opinion piece by Michael Specter in The New Yorker asserted that she had branded these four scientists as "climate deniers", and that her characterization was absurd, as they were among those who had done the most to push people to combat climate change.[38]

In 2015, news outlets reported that ExxonMobil scientists had found evidence for climate change, but had nonetheless continued to raise doubts about it, a charge that Oreskes also reported.[39][40] The company criticized Oreskes and invited her and the public to read approximately 187 documents written between 1977 and 2014.[39] She and Geoffrey Supran did so, and reported their findings, which supported the original accounts, in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters in 2017.[39][41]



  • Science on a Mission: How Military Funding Shaped What We Do and Don't Know about the Ocean, University of Chicago Press, 2020, ISBN 9780226732381
  • Why Trust Science?, Princeton University Press, 2019, Edited by Stephen Macedo, ISBN 9780691179001
  • The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science, Oxford University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-19-511733-6[42]
  • Plate Tectonics: An Insider’s History of the Modern Theory of the Earth, Edited with Homer Le Grand, Westview Press, 2003, ISBN 0-8133-4132-9[43]
  • Perspectives on Geophysics, Special Issue of Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 31B, Oreskes, Naomi and James R. Fleming, eds., 2000.
  • Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, Bloomsbury Press, 2010
  • The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, Columbia University Press, 2014
  • Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality: On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis, introduction by Naomi Oreskes, (Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2015) ISBN 978-1-612-19528-5
  • Discerning Experts: The Practices of Scientific Assessment for Environmental Policy. Michael Oppenheimer, N. Oreskes, D. Jamieson, K. Brysse, J. O’Reilly & M. Shindell, University of Chicago Press, 2019, ISBN 978-0-226-60201-1
  • The Big Myth: How American Business Taught Us to Loathe Government and Love the Free Market. Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2023. ISBN 978-1-635-57357-2


Editorials and opinion articles[edit]

Selected awards, honors, and fellowships[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Republican War on Science". UCSD Guestbook. University of California Television. May 2006. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  2. ^ Oreskes, Naomi lccn.loc.gov. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  3. ^ "People: Naomi Oreskes". Harvard University. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  4. ^ New York Times: "Geraldine Baum, Reporter, Marries" September 24, 1989
  5. ^ Phys.org: "Oreskes, professor at NYC's Hunter College, dies" by Meghan Barr March 2, 2013
  6. ^ Who's who in the West: A Biographical Dictionary of Noteworthy Men and Women. A.N. Marquis Company. 2004. ISBN 978-0-8379-0935-6. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  7. ^ a b City University of New York: "Irwin Oreskes, Professor Emeritus at NYC’s Hunter College who Taught Lab Science Dies at 86" March 4, 2013 |"Besides Michael Oreskes, Irwin Oreskes also is survived by his wife, Susan Oreskes; his other children, Naomi Oreskes, a science historian, Daniel Oreskes, an actor, and Rebecca Oreskes, a writer and former ranger with the U.S. Forest Service, and five grandchildren. His funeral will be held on Sunday at Jewish Community Chapel"
  8. ^ New York Times Obituary: "NAGIN—Morris, age 73, died after brief Illness on June 2, 1964" June 4, 1964 | "... devoted father of Susan Oreskes and the late Richard Nagin, loving grandfather of Iris Nagin, Michael, Daniel, Naomi and Rebecca Oreskes...Services at Riverside Memorial Chapel..."
  9. ^ "Naomi Oreskes Is Wed To Dr. Kenneth Belitz". The New York Times. September 29, 1986. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  10. ^ "How Jewish philanthropies deal with climate change". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. July 26, 2022. Retrieved November 13, 2022.
  11. ^ 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award Presented to Naomi Oreskes, Stanford University, access-date 2024-03-06.
  12. ^ Morton, Adam (November 12, 2010). "Secrets behind weird science". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved June 15, 2023.
  13. ^ "Publications". UCSD. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  14. ^ "Naomi Oreskes Is Wed To Dr. Kenneth Belitz". The New York Times. September 29, 1986.
  15. ^ "Award Abstract #9357888 NSF Young Investigator". nsf.gov/awardsearch. December 8, 1993. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Naomi Oreskes C.V. 2003" (PDF). history.ucsd.edu. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  17. ^ Oreskes, Naomi; Kristin Shrader-Frechette; Kenneth Belitz (1994). "Verification, validation, and confirmation of numerical models in the earth sciences" (PDF). Science. 263 (5147): 641–646. Bibcode:1994Sci...263..641O. doi:10.1126/science.263.5147.641. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 17747657. S2CID 16428790. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  18. ^ "Oreskes appointed provost of UCSD's Sixth College". ww.sddt.com/News. February 7, 2008. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  19. ^ US Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (September 14, 1999). "Developing a repository safety strategy with special attention to model validation" (PDF). US Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 1, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  20. ^ "Naomi Oreskes". Harvard Faculty Directory. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  21. ^ "Board of Directors". ncse.com. National Center for Science Education. Archived from the original on October 7, 2017. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  22. ^ "Board of Directors". csldf.org. Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  23. ^ a b Oreskes, Naomi (December 3, 2004). "Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change". Science. 306 (5702): 1686. doi:10.1126/science.1103618. PMID 15576594.
  24. ^ Oreskes, Naomi (January 21, 2005). "Beyond the Ivory Tower, The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change (including corrections)" (PDF). Science. 306 (5702): 1686. doi:10.1126/science.1103618. PMID 15576594. S2CID 153792099. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  25. ^ Pielke, R. A.; Oreskes, N. (May 13, 2005). "Exchange of letters to Science" (PDF). Science. 308 (5724): 952–954. doi:10.1126/science.308.5724.952. PMID 15890861. S2CID 39221238. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 27, 2009. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  26. ^ Oreskes, Naomi (2007). "The scientific consensus on climate change: How do we know we're not wrong?" (PDF). In DiMento, Joseph F.; Doughman, Pamela (eds.). Climate Change. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-04241-3.
  27. ^ Keane, Phoebe (September 19, 2020). "How the oil industry made us doubt climate change". BBC News. Retrieved June 15, 2023.
  28. ^ Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway (2010). Merchants of Doubt, Bloomsbury Press, p. 6.
  29. ^ Rohr, Christian (2015). "Die Machiavellis der Wissenschaft. Das Netzwerk des Leugnens". Physik in unserer Zeit. 46 (2): 100. doi:10.1002/piuz.201590021.
  30. ^ McKie, Robin (August 8, 2010). "Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway". The Guardian. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  31. ^ "The film that reveals how American 'experts' discredit climate scientists". The Guardian. March 15, 2015.
  32. ^ "The Campaign Against the Climate: Debunking climate change denial". April 17, 2021.
  33. ^ Oreskes, Naomi; Conway, Erik M.; Shindell, Matthew (Winter 2008). "From Chicken Little to Dr. Pangloss: William Nierenberg, Global Warming, and the Social Deconstruction of Scientific Knowledge". Hist Stud Nat Sci. 38 (1): 109–152. doi:10.1525/hsns.2008.38.1.109.
  34. ^ Nierenberg, Nicolas; Tschinkel, Walter; Tschinkel, Victoria (Summer 2010). "Early Climate Change Consensus at the National Academy The Origins and Making of Changing Climate" (PDF). Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences. Vol. 40, no. 3. University of California Press. pp. 318–349.
  35. ^ Gillis, Justin (June 15, 2015). "Naomi Oreskes, a Lightning Rod in a Changing Climate". The New York Times. Profiles in Science.
  36. ^ Oreskes, Naomi (December 16, 2015). "There is a new form of climate denialism to look out for – so don't celebrate yet". The Guardian.
  37. ^ Hansen, James; Emanuel, Kerry; Caldeira, Ken; Wigley, Tom (December 3, 2015). "Nuclear power paves the only viable path forward on climate change". The Guardian.
  38. ^ Specter, Michael (December 18, 2015). "How Not to Debate Nuclear Energy and Climate Change". The New Yorker.
  39. ^ a b c Grandoni, Dino (August 24, 2017). "ExxonMobil asked people to 'read the documents' it produced on climate change. So these Harvard researchers did". The Washington Post.
  40. ^ Levy, Adam (May 30, 2023). "Scientists warned about climate change in 1965. Nothing was done". Knowable Magazine | Annual Reviews. doi:10.1146/knowable-052523-1 (inactive January 31, 2024).{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of January 2024 (link)
  41. ^ Supran, G.; Oreskes, N. (2020). "Addendum to 'Assessing ExxonMobil's climate change communications (1977–2014)' Supran and Oreskes (2017 Environ. Res. Lett. 12 084019)". Environ. Res. Lett. 15 (11): 119401. Bibcode:2020ERL....15k9401S. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/ab89d5. S2CID 228960702.
  42. ^ Stein, Daniel (October 1991). "Review: The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science by Naomi Oreskes". American Scientist.
  43. ^ Coakley, Bernard (August 2002). "Review: Upheaval from the Abyss by David M. Lawrence and Plate Tectonics edited by Naomi Oreskes and Homer Le Grand". American Scientist.
  44. ^ Online version is titled "Jeffrey Epstein's Harvard connections show how money can distort research".
  45. ^ Online version is titled "Unlimited information is transforming society".
  46. ^ College, Bard. "Honorary Degrees at Bard College". www.bard.edu. Retrieved June 6, 2024.
  47. ^ Scientific Woman of the Week - Naomi Oreskes, 2023-09-11.
  48. ^ Ehrenrätinnen und Ehrenräte, Ehrendoktorinnen und Ehrendoktoren
  49. ^ "The British Academy Medal". British Academy. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  50. ^ "Mary C. Rabbit Award (History and Philosophy of Geology Division)". Geological Society of America. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  51. ^ "Elected Members". American Philosophical Society. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  52. ^ "NAOMI ORESKES Fellow: Awarded 2018 Field of Study: History of Science, Technology and Economics". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  53. ^ "Members". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  54. ^ "Naomi Oreskes: Should Scientists Serve as Sentinels". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  55. ^ "2016 Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication Bestowed Upon Dr. Naomi Oreskes". Climate One. July 12, 2016. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  56. ^ "Johnson, Lozier, Meltzer, and Oreskes Receive 2016 Ambassador Awards". American Geophysical Union. December 30, 2016. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  57. ^ "Dr. Naomi Oreskes Receives 2016 Frederick Anderson Climate Change Award". Center for International Environmental Law. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  58. ^ "Convocation and Guest Speaker". The Evergreen State College. February 10, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  59. ^ "2015 Public Service Award Presented to Naomi Oreskes". Geological Society of America. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  60. ^ Powell, Mike (October 16, 2015). "Meet the New Fellows of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry". Center for Inquiry. Retrieved July 23, 2022.
  61. ^ "Historian of science Naomi Oreskes to present Patten Lectures at IU Bloomington". Indiana University. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  62. ^ "AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES THE 2014 PRIZE WINNERS". American Historical Association. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  63. ^ "Why I Am a Presentist" (PDF). History of Science Society. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  64. ^ Buhrman, Joan (2014). "AGU Celebrates Leaders for Contributions to Policy and Public Awareness". Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union. 95 (21). American Geophysical Union: 178. Bibcode:2014EOSTr..95..178B. doi:10.1002/2014EO210007.
  65. ^ "Seven Commencement Ceremonies at UC Riverside; Our Students Tell the Story". University of California, Riverside. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  66. ^ "Historian and Scientist Naomi Oreskes and the Alliance for Climate Education Named 2011 Climate Change Communicators of the Year". www.climatechangecommunication.org. George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication. Archived from the original on June 2, 2014. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  67. ^ "PREVIOUS AWARDEES". Francis Bacon Award in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  68. ^ "Annual UCSD Chancellor's Associates event fetes outstanding faculty members". University of California, San Diego. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  69. ^ a b "The Scientific Consensus on Global Warming: How Do We Know We're Not Wrong?". Environmental Science Seminar Series. American Meteorological Society. June 20, 2007. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  70. ^ "Historian Of Science, Naomi Oreskes, Presents AAAS Award Lecture on Topic of Proof and Consensus in Science" (Press release). University of California. February 11, 2004. Archived from the original on October 22, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  71. ^ "Historian of Science Awarded 2002 American Philosophical Society Sabbatical Fellowship". History of Science Society. August 13, 2001. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  72. ^ "Award Abstract #9357888 NSF Young Investigator". National Science Foundation. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  73. ^ "Ritter Memorial Fellowship". Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  74. ^ "Waldemar Lindgren Award". Society of Economic Geologists. Retrieved March 14, 2012.

External links[edit]