Outrageous and Irresponsible Publicity Stunt

I deeply dislike linking to this site and giving it any attention at all, which is more than it deserves. But to anyone who knows half a speck about storm observing, it shows better than anything the depths to which the yahoo element in storm chasing has sunk.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=1310&item=5570178839&rd=1

Yes, you weren’t hallucinating or having a nightmare. Someone is auctioning the opportunity to sit in the passenger seat of an armored car for a tornado penetration, in a “mission” led by race car driver and inexperienced storm chaser having no proven meteorological credentials whatsoever, yet claiming scientific purpose. All this for the mere price of over a tenth of a million dollars. Most shocking of all: there have been bids!

[There is just one day left on the auction as of this writing. Those who miss it can go to http://www.tornadoattack.com for the full dumptruck load of outrageous and potentially deadly lunacy.]

Worst of all are the totally unsupported claims of scientific legitimacy, for the sake of a whacked out publicity stunt. Exactly who are the “renowned team” of meteorologists here, and what are their credentials? What, exactly, are these mysterious “Dual Dopplers”, who is operating them, and where can real scientists and others go to see the data?

And as illustrated by multiplatform observations in every actual scientific field project in the past 30 years (i.e., VORTEX, SubVORTEX, Doplight-87, IOT&E2, IHOP, TOTO, SESAME-79 and others), this statement is patently false:

“…the first expedition ever to provide weather and image data from the immediate surroundings of a moving weather cell from various elevations.”

Ridiculous!

I am an atmospheric scientist. So I offer four words: Show me the science.

Instead, all I see is wild talk of extreme danger, bold colors on a website, unrestrained braggadoccio, psuedoscientific bluster befitting snake oil peddlers, and shameless pandering to the shock-tabloid media.

There is a “Scientific Study” section — absolutely empty, of course. And I bet nothing truly scientific ever will appear there. That’s because no real science is involved. Otherwise this would be done with legitimate scientific funding (as in Tim Samaras’ truly science minded National Geographic probe deployments), without press conferences, without putting humans in direct peril of the inside of a tornado, and with no mention whatsoever of “daredevil” behavior. I really, truly hope, for the personal safety of bidders and anyone on the road with such a vehicle, that nobody falls for this.

Deliberately driving a manned vehicle into a tornado with paid passengers, whether in this car or any other, has no scientific value whatsoever and only raises the odds someone can get sued, badly hurt, or worse.

Indeed, it is a publicity stunt, plain and simple, no more, no less. Legitimate storm observing has taken perhaps its biggest black eye yet.

Thanks to Boris for alerting me to this screaming example of primeval, self-promotional insanity.



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