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Bjørn Lomborg

Bjørn Lomborg (born January 6, 1965) is a statistician and director of Denmark's Environmental Assessment Institute. In 2001, he attained worldwide notoriety by penning The Skeptical Environmentalist—a controversial book whose main thesis is that many of the claims and dire predictions of environmentalists are exaggerated.

Table of contents
1 Biography
2 Attacks on his credibility
3 Professional areas of interest
4 References and links


Bjørn Lomborg earned a Ph.D. at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, 1994. He was an associate professor of statistics in the Department of Political Science at the University of Aarhus. Lomborg is a former Greenpeace activist and is openly gay. In 1998 he published four lengthy articles about the state of our environment in the leading Danish newspaper "Politiken", which "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 (source).

Attacks on his credibility

In the wake of Lomborg's strong critical response to an issue of Scientific American slamming his book, Lomborg could get no more than one page of rebuttal into the magazine. They threatened to sue him if he quoted (and rebutted) lengthy passages from the magazine on his website.

Another attempt to silence, rather than answer, his criticisms soon followed.

In 2003, the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD), an official body composed of Danish scientists, stated that Lomborg's book contained "a systematic onesidedness in the choice of data and line of argument". There was some controversy in the committee over whether the book should be treated as science or advocacy; the charge of scientific dishonesty would have been moot in the latter case. In the end, the book was treated as science mainly because Lomborg presented it as such.

One of the people who brought the charges against Lomborg to the DCSD is Jeff Harvey, a former editor of the scientific journal Nature, who is currently a Senior Scientist at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology. Harvey said, "It is unfortunate that I and many others felt it necessary to take Lomborg and his book to task for the veritable deluge of inaccuracies it contains, but Lomborg has veered well across the line that divides controversial, if not competent, science from unrepentant incompetence." He also said, "Lomborg has failed time and again to rectify the egregious distortions he makes, he has based his conclusions on cherry-picking the studies he likes, and he has seriously undermined the public's understanding of important contemporary scientific issues."

The DCSD issued the following ruling about Lomborg's book:

Objectively speaking, the publication of the work under consideration is deemed to fall within the concept of scientific dishonesty. ...the publication is deemed clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice. [1]

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 at Danmarks Technical University Poul Harremoës.

Lomborg complains that the DCSD "does not give a single example to demonstrate their claim of a biased choice of data and arguments", nor did they offer Professor Lomborg any chance to respond. [1]

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 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. [1]


On December 17 2003 the findings of the DCSD were remitted (by the same right wing Danish government that appointed Lomborg), and returned to the committee for reconsideration. The investigation concluded that the DCSD had not established that it had the authority to review the case, and that during the review they did not establish that scientific dishonesty had occurred, with respect to the normal standards of social science.

Professional areas of interest

Simulation of strategies in collective action dilemmas; simulation of party behavior in proportional voting systems; use of surveys in public administration; use of statistics in the environmental arena.

References and links