Frederick Seitz

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Dr. Frederick Seitz was born in San Francisco, California on July 4, 1911. He died March 2, 2008.[1][2]Seitz was a former head of Rockefeller University, a former head of the National Academy of Sciences and the principal scientific advisor to the R.J. Reynolds medical research program. In 1984 he co-founded the George C. Marshall Institute with Dr. Robert Jastrow and Dr. William Nierenberg. He was later the Chairman Emeritus of the Board of the Institute, an organization that has long denied global warming.

Tobacco industry involvement and documents

A 2006 article in Vanity Fair magazine called Dr. Seitz the "$45 million man" for the amount of money he helped R.J. Reynolds distribute for research that specifically avoided the health issues surrounding smoking. "They didn't want us looking at the health effects of cigarette smoking," Seitz admitted in the article. During the time RJR was funding the research, it used the results of the program to claim that the evidence was inconclusive about the health effects of smoking. Dr. Seitz went on to become a denier of global warming. [4]

Contract with R.J. Reynolds

In 1986, while at Rockefeller University, Dr. Seitz mantained a contract for his services with RJR Nabisco. According to a letter from RJR's CEO Edward A. Horrigan, Jr., he originally entered into the contract with RJR in 1976. In 1986, RJR paid him $65,000 for six months' work. Vanity Fair reported in its 2006 article about Seitz that he had earned a total of approximately $585,000 from his contract with RJR. [5] [4]

Involvement in secondhand smoke issue

On January 7, 1993, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Risk Assessment that concluded that secondhand tobacco smoke was a Group A human carcinogen responsible for approximately 3,000 deaths in the U.S. annually.[6] The tobacco industry was threatened by this designation and worked to discredit EPA and neutralize the report by casting doubt on EPA's conclusions.

In March, 1994, the George C. Marshall Institute, a U.S. policy group, issued a report by Dr. Seitz in which Seitz claimed the government had misled the public about the relative dangers posed by global warming and secondhand smoke. Seitz claimed many of the scientific conclusions reached and publicized by the federal government were based on faulty science. He lumped into that category additional issues like nuclear power, asbestos and pesticides.

A March 1, 1994 Activity Report for Thomas J. Borelli, Manager of Philip Morris Corporate Scientific Affairs states,

Initiated a strategy to publicize and communicate the results of a Marshall Institute report that challenges the scientific basis of various environmental regulations. The report was written by Dr. Frederick Seitz who is a world renowned scientist. Dr. Seitz is President Emeritus of Rockefeller University and past President of the National Academy of Sciences. In addition to his criticisms of the global warming and ozone depletion issues, Dr . Seitz also addressed the ETS [environmental tobacco smoke] issue. With respect to ETS, Dr. Seitz concluded that ". . . there is no good scientific evidence that moderate passive inhalation of tobacco smoke is truly dangerous under normal circumstances." The report will be used to challenge the EPA's report on ETS in domestic and international markets."[7]

Philip Morris employed the lobbying firm Multinational Business Services to help raise doubt about the EPA's risk assessment on secondhand smoke. MBS's activities included publicizing Seitz's Marshall Institute report, and working through industry-funded group Federal Focus to organize a seminar for federal employees in an attempt to seek a commitment from Federal agencies to address the issues raised in the Seitz report. Specifically, MBS sought the formation of an interagency team to respond to the conclusion about secondhand smoke in the Seitz report, with the ultimate goal of re-opening the risk assessment.[8]

Involvement in global warming skepticism

In the 1990s, Seitz' work with the George C. Marshall Institute changed to debunking anthropogenic global warming by publishing reports and opinions of those questioning the theory. In a 2007 report, the Union of Concerned Scientists described the GMI as a "clearinghouse for global warming contrarians" funded by Exxon Mobil Corporation and employing the same strategy formerly used by the tobacco industry, repeatedly attacking the science behind the theory and insisting that there was actually a great deal of uncertainty and disagreement among scientists. [9]

In an April, 2006 interview for the PBS show Frontline, Seitz discussed his denial of global warming, his consultancy with R.J. Reynolds and his support of nuclear power. When asked why we need a nuclear answer to energy problems, Seitz stated: "We have more control over the cost of nuclear power. The Muslims can raise the price of oil to any level they want...." [10][11][12]

Oregon Petition

In 1998, together with the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, Seitz circulated and gathered signatures for a petition opposing the Kyoto Protocol. In addition to the petition, the mailing included what appeared to be a reprint of a scientific paper from Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), and a letter from Seitz identifying himself as past president of the National Academy of Sciences. In fact, the petition, paper, and letter were entirely unrelated to the Academy, which issued a strong denunciation of the petition project as deliberately deceptive and an affirmation of the consensus in favor of the reality of anthropogenic global warming. Subsequent investigations of the signatories found a minority of them to be climate scientists, or even scientists of any kind. [9] The web page of the petition itself states "31,478 American scientists have signed this petition, including 9,029 with PhDs."[13]


  • 1932 Bachelor's degree from Stanford University (mathematics)
  • 1934 Ph.D. from Princeton University (physics

Former Positions

  • 1946-1947 director of the training program on peaceful uses of atomic energy at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
  • 1949-1968 professor of physics at the University of Illinois
  • 1957-1964 department head at the University of Illinois
  • 1964-1965 Graduate College dean at the University of Illinois
  • 1962-1969 president of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 1968-1978 president of Rockefeller University

Positions After Retirement in 1978


  • Frederick Seitz ,"Modern Theory of Solids", McGraw-Hill, NY, 1940, (reprint Dover Publications, 1987: ISBN 0486654826)
  • W. Thüne, F. Singer, F. Seitz, Helmut Metzner, "Treibhaus-Kontroverse und Ozon-Problem : Symposium der Europäischen Akademie für Umweltfragen Leipzig 9.-10. November 1995", Böttiger, 1996, ISBN 3925725296
  • S. Fred Singer, Frederick Seitz , "Hot Talk Cold Science: Global Warming's Unfinished Debate", The Independent Institute, December 1, 1998, ISBN 094599978X

Articles and Resources


  1. F. Seitz. Biography of Frederick Seitz Resume'. November, 1985. 5 pp. Lorillard Bates No. 87697430/7434
  2. George C. Marshall Institute, "Remembering Frederick Seitz", March 4, 2008.
  3. Board of Sponsors, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, accessed September 1, 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mark Hertsgaard While Washington Slept Vanity Fair, April 5, 2006
  5. Edward A. Horrigan, R.J.R. Nabisco We should like to renew the letter agreement dated July 12, 1978 between you and RJR Nabisco, Inc. Letter. July 15, 1986. 1 page. Bates No. 508263286
  6. United States Environmental Protection Agency EPA Designates Passive Smoking a "Class A" or Known Human Carcinogen Press release. January 7, 1993. Accessed April 9, 2009
  7. Thomas J. Borelli, Philip Morris February Activity Report March 1, 1994. 2 pp. Bates No. 2046585282/5283
  8. Jim Tozzi, Multinational Business Services Untitled Memorandum. December 29, 1993. Philip Morris Bates No. 2024207141/7142
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Frederick Seitz", Natural Selections, Rockefeller University, March, 2009
  10. "Frederick Seitz", Hot Politics, PBS, April 3, 2006.
  11. Holtzman A., Philip Morris Fred Seitz Memorandum. August 31, 1989. Bates No. 2023266534
  12. Bacon JL. External Advisors. Consultancy Agreements - Dr's Seitz and McCarty Letter, July 15, 1986. R.J. Reynolds Bates No. 508263284/3285
  13. "Global Warming Petition Project"
  14. SEPP Board of Directors, accessed April 8, 2009

External links

Related links

Biographical Notes

Interviews with and Articles By Seitz

General Articles


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