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March 15, 2011

Nuclear Lobby Astroturfing?

Two days ago I linked to an explaining piece about the nuclear events in Japan which, as I and others remarked, was quite positive on nuclear energy. In today's post I linked to some site called mitnse.com. I have since removed the second link. Both links may have been, unintentionally, to astroturfing sites with fake personal opinions or slanted information sponsored by some entity interested in furthering nuclear energy.

A post alleging such was up at geniusnow.com earlier today. Curiously that site now only shows "This Account Has Been Suspended" - hmmm.  But as of now that post is still available in the Google cache.

I copied it from there and I am reproducing it below under fair use doctrine for further discussion.

[UPDATE (3:00pm): I have now been in contact with the owner of Genius Now. The site was down because of heavy traffic, not because of censorship. It is up again.]

Note that I DO NOT endorse that post or any allegations made therein.

The reproduced post follows:

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The Strange Case of Josef Oehmen

In the wake of the nuclear incidents in Japan, a great deal of information and misinformation has beem spread – some of it deliberately. It’s understandable that people misunderstand, or mishear. Misrepresenting yourself to claim you’re an expert is something else. We expect that from industry and politicians – we don’t expect it from a PhD employed by a school as well-respected as MIT. But that’s just what’s happened, and is still happening now.

On Sunday, March 13th, I saw an interesting link on Facebook. Since the previous Friday, I’d been posting update information on the Japan disasters, and had been one of the first people to post that there might – and I stressed might – be nuclear problems. So when I saw a link saying “MIT scientist says no problems”, it’s only natural to read it.

The post originally came from http://morgsatlarge.wordpress.com. Let’s first note that the name “Jason Morgan” does not appear on the morgsatlarge site. The site has one post (now redirecting to another site, which we’ll get to). Apparently, it was created yesterday. The “about” info is “About morgsatlarge English teacher, F1/ UFC enthusiast. Japan resident, quake survivor, and most importantly a husband to an amazing woman, and father to a beautiful baby girl.”

Jason is on Twitter, though, and thinks his “scientist friend” stuck his neck out for him, and is telling the truth. He’s had a  Twitter account longer than last week, and he says Oehmen’s married to his cousin and is an “awesome guy”. Sounds pretty benign, what with his claims the article will be published on mit.edu, and has been vetted by nuke folks at MIT.

Jason had JUST been at the Japanese immigration office when the quake hit. And he sure enough was genuinely worried about the nukes, based on his tweets, in one of which he says he’s “shitting himself”. Nothing real suspicious here.

In the Google cache for the site today, we see this (no longer on the site):

“I do not work for the nuclear industry. I am an English teacher, from Australia, living in Kawasaki, Japan. My friend Dr J. Oehmen is a family member, and by far and away the most intelligent person I know. Feel free to believe/disbelieve whatever we have written. There are no conspiracies, however if you need to, feel free to make some up….

This post is by Dr Josef Oehmen, a research scientist at MIT, in Boston.
He is a PhD Scientist, whose father has extensive experience in Germany’s nuclear industry. I asked him to write this information to my family in Australia, who were being made sick with worry by the media reports coming from Japan. I am republishing it with his permission.”

The site I got linked to, though, was a repost from something called The Energy Collective. http://theenergycollective.com/barrybrook/53461/fukushima-nuclear-accident-simple-and-accurate-explanation . This ONE instance of the article has been shared over 5000 times on facebook, and over 32k times in total.

The Energy Collective is a Siemens AG lobbying/influence/astroturf organization – it says Powered by Siemens right up front. They present as a “Nukes for the Environment” type. The author of the piece here is Barry Brook, who lists himself as a “Professor of Climate Change” on the site. He is – at the University of Adelaide – and is a strong proponent of nuclear power. In other words, he has credentials on climate change, and is pro-nuke. Then let’s note that this is a repost of something Brooks posted on BraveNewClimate. We’ll get back to the crosspostings later.
In his introduction he says “Below I reproduce a summary on the situation prepared by Dr Josef Oehmen, a research scientist at MIT, in Boston. He is a PhD Scientist (sic), whose father has extensive experience in Germany’s nuclear industry. This was first posted by Jason Morgan earlier this evening, and he has kindly allowed me to reproduce it here. I think it is very important that this information be widely understood.”

So let’s look at that “awesome guy”, Josef Oehmen.

Does he have a PhD? – indeed he does. In supply chain risk management. And yes, he’s a “Research Scientist” – that’s his part of his actual job title, not what he does. (LAI Research Scientist appears to be his title.) He’s not in a traditional department – he works for something called the Lean Advancement Initiative (LAI), which is a military-industrial-academic project. As of today, his information page  http://lean.mit.edu/about/lai-structure/faculty-researchers-and-staff/oehmen-josef clarifies that he is not involved with nukes at all.

It adds “Josef is working hard with a team from MIT to provide an appropriate response to the interest the post has generated. The original blog will be migrated to an MIT site, managed by a team of experts from MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. The link will be posted here when it becomes available.”

In the Twitter page set up yesterday, he says  ”Josef is a research scientist in mechanical engineering and engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology“. His about page says “He is a mechanical engineer by training, working on product development processes.” Interesting, not quite the same thing. He also says “MIT setting up information hub on nuclear situation in Japan incl my original post: http://mitnse.com/” on his Twitter page.

Ok, that’s really interesting. Because mitnse.com was registered yesterday, through wordpress.com. That was a Sunday, right? And while the contact information says it’s for MIT, the admin contact is given for an independent contracter, with the contractor’s phone number. The contractor is a graphic designer who has done prior work for the department. (here’s his  site:  http://www.subbiahdesign.com/web/index.html

There are only a couple of links from the department site – added well after normal working hours on Monday night.

Before “mitnse” killed the comment and rss functions on this wordpress.com site, you could see that rss feed said the site was “maintained by students” in the NSE department. No such students have identified themselves. And while the originally, highly erroneous post has been redacted, the editors have not seen fit to identify themselves.

So – “students” on the site, “experts” in the announcement of it.

The comments were filled with statements about “intellectual dishonesty” and “academic fraud”, as well as point by point rebuttal of many statements Dr Oehmen had originally made. They were killed 5 minutes after I posted the following:

“So far, although I see a link to this site from NSE, I don’t see any discussion of it. And frankly, Mr/MS mitnse, as far as I can tell you’re actually Ismail Subbiah, graphic designer occasionally on contract to MIT. The links between Siemens AG, Dr Oethman, Barry Brook, and MIT/LAI (which has cleverly been avoided – lets do bring that up, shall we?) suggest that no matter why the article was written in the first place, it’s become a major piece of disinformation masquerading falsely as academic opinion.”

As you can see, Siemens AG comes up again. Not surprising, because it recently became an “industry partner” of MIT/LAI. But there is almost certainly another connection. Dr Oehmen is German. If his father spent much time in the German nuclear industry, there is a very very good chance that he worked – or works – for Siemens.

LAI’s website says “LAI accelerates lean deployment through identified best practices, shared communication, common goals, and strategic and implementation tools honed from collaborative experience. LAI also promotes cooperation at all levels and facets of an enterprise to eliminate traditional barriers to improving industry and government teamwork.” http://lean.mit.edu/about/about-lai .

What that doesn’t say is who the industry partners are. Oddly, they are all major defense contractors. And the only one I’ve found so far with any direct connection to nuclear power plants is Siemens.

I’ll be looking deeper at this story, including the mechanisms used to spread the original, and entirely specious, article across the web. It’s still spreading now, mostly from people who would be horrified at this.

No related posts.

Posted in Blog, Editorial.

No comments

By adminMarch 15, 2011

Author: admin (56 Articles)

Genius Now is devoted to Resilience. The Reality. The Concept. Many concepts, in fact. Materials science, strategic thinking, futuring, creativity. Above all, the ability of our species to survive, act, and thrive.

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End of reproduced post from http://geniusnow.com/2011/03/15/the-strange-case-of-josef-oehmen/

Posted by b on March 15, 2011 at 16:17 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Well done on picking this up.

Posted by: nichomach | Mar 15 2011 16:42 utc | 1

Quite the tangled web eh? Thanks b

Posted by: Ben | Mar 15 2011 17:09 utc | 2

Yep, I had my suspicions when you posted it. Thanks for changing your mind, and searching for the truth. That's why I visit here, because I genuinely believe others, including yourself, are searching for the truth, and there's no better way than many honest minds wading through the garbage to determine what's real, and what's fabricated.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 15 2011 17:12 utc | 3

A good example of how the leading, and not so leading, Universities are in bed with the multi-nationals. My assessment of MIT Nuclear Scientists still stands, now more than ever, even considering Oehmen is not a Nuclear Scientist.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 15 2011 17:49 utc | 4

One might think that with sycopphants such as William Tucker:
Japan Does Not Face Another Chernobyl - WSJ.com that these clowns are as seemingly desperate/ amoral as to bother.

Posted by: jaundist | Mar 15 2011 18:05 utc | 5

10,000 monkeys with 10,000 typewriters could eventually duplicate all of the writings of Shakespeare, a black swan will occasionally, out of the blue, bark out a loud QUACK, and even a broken clock is correct twice a day... But Glenn Beck and other end-of-times evangelicals are broadcasting with dollar signs in their eyes that the massive earthquake wreaking havoc on Japan is God's way of saying that all of His Children who aren't Jewish or Christian deserve to die.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/14/glenn-beck-japan-earthquake-god_n_835573.html

Posted by: Cynthia | Mar 15 2011 19:40 utc | 6

Helen expresses anger and frustration over the industry shills being offered up as "experts" by the networks and discusses the medical consequences of exposure:
interview with Dr. Helen Caldicott


Dr Helen Caldicott believes the Japanese Government are covering up the impact of the reactor explosions after the earthquake and Tsunami.

Dr Caldicott told Scott Levi that nuclear power poses a far greater risk than global warming and this disaster could have horrific health consequences for the people of Japan and the world.

She said there have been too many advocates of the nuclear energy industry and engineers talking on the issue and not enough awareness of the dire medical problems that contamination from the damaged Japanese plants can cause.

Listen before they take it down.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 16 2011 12:45 utc | 7

Hmmmmm.....you spend your entire effort attacking Oehmen in order to try to discredit him, but never once address any specific items in his article which you assert are incorrect. I wonder why that might be?

Posted by: Jon Roony | Mar 16 2011 23:54 utc | 8

she is one of the brave ones uncle, one of the few warriors my country of origin has tried all her life to demonise

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 17 2011 0:14 utc | 9

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