16 February 2012

Reality is Not Good Enough

The entire Heartland document episode has become far more interesting than a typical tale of an advocacy group paying off shills now that it seems clear that one of the documents that was leaked was in fact a fake. Megan McArdle at The Atlantic does a heroic job examining the documents (something that apparently most reporters failed to do) and concludes that it is fake (I agree):
The memo doesn't add new facts, just new spin.  Naturally, because the spin is more lurid, it's what a lot of the climate blogs seized on.
If the faked document happened to be produced by a climate activist or scientist (as some are already suggesting), then the leaked Heartland documents will go down in history as one of the more spectacular own goals in the history of the climate debate (with the consequences proportional to the stature of the faker). The faking is likely to overshadow whatever legitimate questions may have been raised by the release of the documents. Imagine what would have happened if the UEA hacker/leaker had made up a few emails to spice up the dossier.

More generally, the episode already illustrates much of what has become of the activist wing of the climate science community -- Apparently, reality is not good enough, so it must be sexed up. This sort of thing feeds into the worst imaginings of skeptics and blinds them to the fact that there are real issues here despite the frequent over-egging of the pudding.

It will be interesting to see how this develops as it appears that the faker left plenty enough fingerprints to be revealed in due course. The collateral damage is likely to be significant among the media and the overeager blogosphere. Stay tuned.

89 comments:

  1. Roger, I think your analysis is spot on.

    Judging by what is available on the Guardian and other enviro-media, they are yet to realize the importance of faking a document.

    I am not familiar with US libel laws. Does Heartland have grounds for sueing the media?

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  2. "If the faked document happened to be produced by a climate activist or scientist (as some are already suggesting), then the leaked Heartland documents will go down in history as one of the more spectacular own goals in the history of the climate debate"

    Perfect.

    If one sentence summarizes the reaction of the climate advocacy blogosphere to the leak, it would be "I KNEW IT!!!" This, sadly, underlies a fundamental weakness of their argument; they still cling to the idea that the largest impediment to implenting their policy visions is the obstructing done by rascally think tanks or worse, that dastardly Mr. Watts! (By raising the specter of insidiously well funded conservative think tanks they have indeed kicked the ball in their own net by illustrating how paltry their funding is relative to green groups)

    It's more of the "if only society weren't brainwashed they would believe the same things I believe" type of thinking.

    While I certainly am not keen on think tanks of any stripe peddling their views to school children, the idea that Mr. Wojick's pamphlet would single handedly and irrevocably corrupt the youth of the nation implies that climate advocates either:

    A)Significantly overestimate the reach and persuasive ability of Mr. Wojick.

    B)Are incredibly insecure about their own argument

    C)Significantly underestimate people's intelligence

    It reminds me of what I found most scandalous about the CRU emails; the underlying sentiment that "the world is too stupid to make a sound decision about climate change, WE must protect them from bad information."

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  3. -1- Pirate,

    Newspapers and the like get some leeway as far as initial reports are concerned, since they're putting stuff out on a daily (or faster, in the case of online stuff) basis. But they would have to put out a correction.

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  4. Roger,

    Just what are these "real issues" you reference. Your friend Keith Kloor and some of the mouth foamers who comment on his blog are adamant that the Heartland docs are scandalous. Apparently, they had no obligation to be embarassed about the blatant fraud revealed in the Climategate e-mails, but skeptics are hypocrites for not being ashamed by the Heartland docs. I would say this is false equivalence on a mind-boggling scale, but we're still waiting for them to acknowledge that the hockey team did anything wrong.

    Why don't you take on the role of honest broker here? Climategate revealed alarmists guilty of the scientific equivalent of murder in the first degree. Heartland isn't even jaywalking.

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  5. -4-Stan

    Thanks, but please, try the decaf;-) I have discussed the UEA emails on several occasions here and in TCF.

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  6. #1.
    I am not familiar with US libel laws. Does Heartland have grounds for sueing the media?

    Heartland would be considered a 'public figure' under US libel laws. The standard for libel against public figures generally in the US is saying something that you 'know to be false'.

    The most they could do would be to insist that a correction be printed.

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  7. Some of the media coverage of this fake document beggars belief

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  8. Roger -

    "The faking is likely to overshadow whatever legitimate questions may have been raised by the release of the documents"


    I think that comment attaches too much significance to the specifics of this incident, and fails to recognize the larger dynamics of the debate that have been in place for a very long time.


    Your comment there reminds me of the constant refrains of "final nails in the coffin," "wheels falling off," and "final stakes through the heart."

    This development is likely to be considered as a severely damaging "own goal" by those on one side of the debate.

    People on the other side of the debate will consider more important, the implications of the entire group of documents.

    And nothing will change.

    The depth of McArdle's analysis notwithstanding, more than likely both sides will declare that the determination of authenticity of that document is not a settled matter (although I have seen some knowledgeable people say that if it is a fake, Heartland could release evidence that would be conclusive).

    But far more likely than anything else, is that rather than alter the trajectory of this debate in any significant manner, all it will do is marginally increase the level to which people on either side of the debate feel vindicated.

    Maybe you're too far inside the scrum to see the big picture here?

    Ironically, I think that your post on this topic is more likely, if anything, by essentially focusing on the details rather than the big picture, to contribute in a very small measure to a perpetuation of the status quo than to contribute anything towards changing the dynamics already in place.

    You do have a role to play in this debate, and I think that this post looks like you standing there and staring and watching the scramble to gain control over the football rather than blowing the whistle and declaring penalties on both sides.

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  9. Roger -

    By way of further explanation of my last comment, let's look going forward at how much attention this incident gets from inside the junior high school cafeteria food fight and how much attention it gets from outside the cafeteria.

    This incident will be much discussed for weeks, perhaps years, amongst the jello-flingers. My prediction is that it will barely register on the radar of the vast majority of the public, perhaps even the segment of the public that follows the climate change debate reasonably closely but not obsessively.

    No doubt, the jello-flingers on both sides of the cafeteria will be trying to make this as big as they can (keeping with the analogy, calling the principal and pointing to the other side saying "They started it!"), but do you really think that this will gain much traction in the real world (i.e., outside the climate blogosphere?) - particularly as some event that is distinguished from the larger dynamic of jello-flinging that has been happening from years?

    My bet is that it won't. Then again I was sure that the Giants were going to lose to the Packers.

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  10. Roger -

    "Some of the media coverage of this fake document beggars belief"


    What are you referring to, specifically?

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  11. -8, 9, 10-Joshua

    Thanks for your comment. Yes, I am indeed very familiar with the "ends justify the means" argument that you are laying out.

    I have seen it up close and personal on disasters and climate change - "Ignore the details, it is the big picture that matters, and you are hurting the cause by focusing on details"

    On the UEA emails (which were largely, but no totally a snore) - "Ignore the details, it is the big picture that matters, and you are hurting the cause by focusing on details"

    This is the same "big picture" logic that the Bush Administration used to get us into the Iraq war.

    What is the "big picture" here from your standpoint? Good guys and bad guys? Pick a side?

    Producing a faked document to make a group look bad is not good. To excuse it is not good either. Others are free to disagree -- ends justify the means arguments take you to strange places.

    Thanks!

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  12. From the AP's story on the documents:

    Because Heartland was not specific about what was fake and what was real, The Associated Press attempted to verify independently key parts of separate budget and fundraising documents that were leaked....

    David Wojick, a Virginia-based federal database contractor, said in an email that the document was accurate about his project to put curriculum materials in schools that promote climate skepticism.

    "My goal is to help them teach one of the greatest scientific debates in history," Wojick said. "This means teaching both sides of the science, more science, not less."

    Five government and university climate scientists contacted said they were most disturbed by Wojick's project, fearing the teaching would be more propaganda rooted in politics than peer-reviewed science.

    [end of citation]

    Full story at:

    http://news.yahoo.com/influence-game-leaks-show-groups-climate-efforts-210616751.html

    Just sayin...

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  13. Roger -

    "Thanks for your comment. Yes, I am indeed very familiar with the "ends justify the means" argument that you are laying out."


    That would be a nice point if it were an argument that I'm "laying out."


    Nothing justifies fraud.

    One question is whether fraud here can actually be proven. I think it will be hard to do so. From what I've read, the only way that it can be done is if Heartland releases certain information that they haven't as of yet released. Time will tell on that regard.

    But even if fraud is proven, the larger and more important question is whether it not proof of fraud in this case will have any larger impact of any real significance outside of the climate blogosphere.

    You have predicted that it will. I have expressed disagreement, and offered my criticism on the implications of your having made that prediction.

    My prediction is that it won't.

    I don't think that impugning my argument by projecting on to me a "means justifies the ends" argument is fair play. If you think that I have projected an unfair argument onto you, call me on it.

    I am not saying that an "ignore the details, focus on the big picture" is a viable reaction to this circumstance. I am offering, however, that it is easily predictable that such an argument will be offered, as will be the argument offered that the authenticity of that one document will negate the larger implications: specifically, the hypocrisy that I see in the "skeptical" blogosphere w/r/t the significance of politicizing the science in the climate debate, contingent on who is doing the politicizing.

    The point that I'm making is that there is nothing different here than what we've seen over and over: people will conveniently use this incident to perpetuate old behaviors.

    I don't see why another example of the same behaviors will have a significant impact as you have predicted.

    Your comment to me suggests that you are allowing you personal history to bias your outlook on this incident.

    If, as you predict, this will have some significant larger impact outside of the climate blogosphere, I will come back and acknowledge that you were correct and I was wrong.

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  14. And Roger -

    "What is the "big picture" here from your standpoint? Good guys and bad guys? Pick a side?"

    I'm not suggesting that either side is "good" or "bad." Saying that there is "good" and "bad" behavior on both sides of the debate is not equivalent to picking a side.

    The big picture is, exactly, that bad behavior is happening on both sides of the debate, in my opinion, symmetrically, because the "good" and "bad" behaviors here are rooted in fundamental aspects of how people reason in the face of controversy. This is no different than partisan battles in any of myriad other areas of partisan disputes. To see it otherwise, in my view, is a mistake.

    That doesn't mean that I don't have a preference for policies that more strongly align with one side of the debate than the other. (I do.) And it doesn't mean that I think that my reasoning isn't subject to biases, nor that I would accept an argument that yours isn't either.

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  15. -13-Joshua

    Thanks, apologies if I have misconstrued your objections (though I now am unsure of your complaint).

    I have long argued that almost all of the climate debate is irrelevant outside the blogosphere (e.g., see the discussion in Ch.2 of TCF).

    I don't think there are particularly large implications of the Heartland documents, just as I did not think that there were large implications of the UEA emails. There are however particular implications (e.g., such as the peer review shenanigans in the case of UEA emails). There are legitimate questions to be raised about the expressed desire of heartland to politicize K-12 education, but that is about as surprising as the police officer in Casablanca being shocked, shocked to find gambling going on.

    As I said in the post, the consequences will likely be proportional to the stature of the faker. If the faker is some schmo, then it goes away really fast, but if it is a prominent person or group, then it is a big deal. This would seem fairly obvious.

    Given some of the media coverage and blog discussion, the faker might be celebrated as a hero, who knows;-)

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  16. -14-Joshua

    Thanks. Yes, we all have our biases, agreed.

    I am not much interested in your (or whomever's) biases (sorry!) ... I'd much prefer to hear your arguments, supported by logic and data. ;-)

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  17. Roger -

    Let me see if I understand your perspective:

    You think that the story beggars belief because of the statement that Heartland wasn't specific, and that it doesn't focus sufficiently on the implications of a potentially fraudulent creation of the "summary" document?


    As I recall, Heartland wasn't specific in that it said that in addition to the "fake" document, the other documents has been distorted or modified (in ways that were not specific).


    Was it because the article noted the concerns of professors that Wojick's curricula might be propagandistic?

    Are you aware that David Wojick has a long history of political activism, and I recall that he has stated that a primary focus of his in the climate debate is political (I don't recall if he said it was "the" primary focus, but he may have).

    Do you know that he has criticized the "vast majority" of curricula on the Web as being "CAGW propaganda?"

    Do you not think that criticizing the "vast majority" of existing Web curricula as "propaganda," and by implication, any of thousands of teachers who might use such curricula as propagandists, might have some troubling implications w/r/t an issue that you frequently discuss, the negative ramifications of politicizing science?

    Again - that does not in any way mean that I don't agree that fraudulently manufacturing documents also has concerning implications w/r/t the politicization of science.

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  18. Roger -

    Apology noted - and I'll apologize if I misconstrue any of your arguments. It goes along with the medium, and the key, IMO, is to remain open to clarification.

    Your #15 post helps me to better understand your perspective.

    My opinion is that the larger implications are not greater on either side of this issue. At a personal level, I see the moral implications as being no greater on one side than the other, and that questioning the moral implications, and related moral equivocation, largely misses the point.

    But outside of that personal perspeictive, whatever issue-specific implications that might occur, in my view, will be marginal in comparison to the larger reality that the whole mess is a food fight, and that what seems to be extremely important from within the debate looks quite unimportant from outside the debate. For example, from within the climate blogosphere, climategate seems hugely important yet the data I've seen shows that climategate has moved the climate debate meter only a smidgen.

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  19. -17-Joshua

    Thanks ... some replies.

    1. I don't care (or know much about) about David Wojick or his actions. He is one of many, many thousands of people (me included) who are speaking out, debating, trying to influence political debate. Is Wojick and the HI engaged in propaganda? I would have accepted "yes" as an answer without seeing the HI documents. So what? That is what advocacy groups do. I don't agree with their strategies or substance, but again, so?

    2. My concern with some of the commentary about the faked document is that it is excused as (a) either being largely consistent with the other documents or (b) might as well be true (truthiness). I expect a bit more from my media sources. I certainly expect far more from climate advocates (including the faker;-)

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  20. -18-Joshua

    Thanks ... I agree on the larger public/political implications of the UEA emails (~nil), that said (and I don't have data, so caveat lector), I do think that the emails had a discernible impact on how many specialists/experts in the community have come to view a certain subset of their peers.

    The HI documents have the same potential -- no one's views of HI will likely change, but the faker is now at a huge professional risk of being fully discredited (again, depending upon who it is). It is potentially career ending stuff inside the academy.

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  21. Roger,

    Anyone who is shocked about HI and has no qualms about the efforts of Greenpeace, WWF, Algore, et al to "politicize" science and science education is either brain dead stupid or guilty of hypocrisy on steroids. I realize that the Joshuas of the world don't care that skeptics have completely lost all respect for them, but I have to wonder how they think an honest broker (assuming one actually exists) will view them when they go ballistic over the speck in another's eye while being unwilling to acknowledge the log in their own.

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  22. -21-Stan

    Thanks ... If you read THB you'll know that the politicization of science is not to be avoided and individuals as honest brokers should not be expected ;-)

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  23. - 20 - Roger

    OK. I get it now.

    In the end, Wojick's curricula deserve to be judge on their own merits.

    If "faking" a document has ramifications inside academe, so much the better. There may be some reason to think that the tribalism evident in climategate had some positive impact inside academe, although unfortunately I think that there has been a (perhaps more than) compensating impact of encouraging the rationalization of tribalism from the other side of the debate.

    I wonder if the document is proven to be a "fake," whether or not a similar situation might develop where climate activists will, perhaps, be more self-aware even as some "skeptics" in a larger framework, will be further self-justified in their tribalism.

    A "fake but accurate" line of argumentation, I would imagine, will work on one side of the debate and not on the other. I doubt that it will be significantly decisive in the end for determining some kind of winner from an objective, larger picture overview.

    It would be interesting to look back at "Rathergate" to see if it really had any significant impact on the election. My guess is that the claims of fraud in that case mitigated the impact of what might have occurred had the claims of fraud not been levied, but in the end the "proof" of fraud there didn't enhance Bush's chances beyond what they were before the documents were produced. Of course, that's of little consolation for Rather.

    If someone chooses to take the risks of fraud, then they have to face the consequences.


    Thanks for the debate.

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  24. Roger, I see Heartland claimed a caller impersonated a HI director to get stuff emailed to him? Presumably that is an illegal act in the US? It's also rather amazing conduct.

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  25. -24-Roddy

    Thanks ... I am not sure what the legal status might be (and not much interested).

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  26. stan -

    A couple of points:

    "I realize that the Joshuas of the world don't care that skeptics have completely lost all respect for them, "


    I am reasonably sure that you never had any measure of respect for me or people who you association with me (without ever having met me).

    "when they go ballistic over the speck in another's eye while being unwilling to acknowledge the log in their own. "

    Obviously, you and I disagree with respect to the symmetry in the degree of politicization in the climate debate. I doubt that any discussion between us will move either of us on that question. But as points of clarification:

    (1) I haven't gone "ballistic" over the new evidence that Heartland has undertaken a systematic initiative to politicize the climate debate. Their interest in doing so has been known for a long time. My point of focus is, specifically, the virtually uniform display of hypocrisy I've seen among "skeptics," who have a long history of "concern" about the politicization of climate science but who have not expressed any "concern" about it being evidenced in the Heartland documents.

    Allow me to be clear that I don't think it makes "skeptics," on the whole, any more or less hypocritical than "realists," but it is stark evidence of hypocrisy nonetheless. That is to be expected, since a foundational processes of how bias affects the reasoning of humans w/r/t controversial issues is pretty well-established in the relevant literature. My goal is to get "skeptics" to be more open to that reality. Some are not interested in being open to that reality. I consider that to be a given. For those who are open, the blog comments that you write offer an excellent object lesson.

    (2) I have never, and will never, defend politicization of the science from the other side of the debate. Such politicization (or partisanship, or triablism) is to be expected, but that isn't a justification.

    But as always, stan, thanks for reading. It means a lot to me.

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  27. W/r/t impact outside of the cafeteria, I thought you might get a kick out of this, Roger.

    http://www.salon.com/2012/02/17/secret_papers_turn_up_heat_on_global_warming_deniers/

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  28. This appears to be an incredibly sloppy screw up. The over-riding question is why fake the document in the first place when it added almost nothing except a couple more quotable references?

    The faker may not be particularly smart enough to cover his tracks.

    Email IP address documents sent to, and then from. Account info.
    Caller ID used when requesting documents
    Document info, writing style, metadata.

    Clearly he tried to hide the info, but he doesn't strike me as necessarily having covered all the bases.

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  29. I have read the blog commentaries and comments on this today and, for me, this is the time when the AGW controversy has jumped the shark. This is like an sitcom that has gone on too long and has lost connection. All we have now are two sides screaming at each other and trotting out proof that the other side is disreputable.

    The Middle Ages had numerology and scholars would use ingenious methods to prove that their opponent was the anti-Christ. They would use differing alphabets, constants and anything else to prove that their opponents name added up to 666. Have we entered the numerologoical phase of AGW?

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  30. Good analysis. The real question is whether this use of stolen and faked documents gets picked up by other media. As Bishop Hill has pointed out, the episode appears to be a clear breach of the BBC guidelines and despite complaints, Richard Black is refusing to acknowledge he has done anything wrong appearing to blame the Heartland Institute for being in a conspiracy that must be uncovered ... even though there is nothing in the documents except a lobby organisation being paid to lobby.

    One thing which may give this wings is the phone-hacking scandal in the UK & the Leveson inquiry. This appears to be a Murdoch papers bashing exercise by the likes of the BBC & Guardian who were the ones to publish the information from an unverified source.

    Will the Murdoch papers use this inappropriate use of stolen material against BBC guidelines to draw fire away from their own problems? If so, it could flare up big time. Or it may be totally ignored amongst all their strife!

    All we can do is wait to see what happens.

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  31. Moderation note: The climate debate arouses passions, I know this. So if you are going to write a comment with an analogy in it, please do not use violence in the analogy. That makes my job easier as a moderator. Thanks!

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  32. From Clausewitz's "On War" chapter for, a discussion of the purpose of a defensive position

    "... the enemy's forces may come themselves and seek their own destruction..."

    So the purpose of a defensive position is to invite the enemy to attack and destroy himself in the attempt. Reading the blog articles and comments today and considering the state of the AGW issue today, it came to my mind that Clausewitz's observation is very apt. Each side seems bent on destroying itself in pointless and futile attacks

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  33. Roger -

    It turns out that I'm not the only one who questioned the wisdom of your tweet:

    http://davidappell.blogspot.com/

    Maybe there are more "bizarre" people out there than you thought?

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  34. -33-Joshua

    Can you point to where I accused Gleick of anything?

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  35. Roger -

    No. As far as I know you didn't. But I never said that you did.

    To extend the analogy, is asking someone when/if they stopped beating their wife accusing them of anything?

    You could have asked him in private. I think that it isn't right to ask him in public, and then hang with the tribalists as they gleefully await an answer. Clearly, many of them are milking this situation because they suspect that Gleick is on the hot seat. I find it hard to understand how you don't see the jello-slinging, and I don't see why you don't see that it looks like you've got some jello in your hand.

    I actually think that the "anti-climate" piece might justify reasonable speculation. I agree with Appell that the case for it being a "fake" document is pretty compelling.

    But again - I see it unlikely that anything positive will come out of your tweet, more likely only negative. I think that you may be deeper into the tribalism deeper than you may realize. Maybe not, but I have a hard time understanding your tweet differently.

    If someone fakes a document, they deserve what they get. I'm not defending Gleick's past actions.

    I'm asking you whether you really see a positive outcome here - given that likely, given that getting a definitive answer is tough, and likely won't happen unless Heartland releases more material.

    If Gleick answers you that he created the document, then I will acknowledge my error. If Gleick answers you that he didn't create the document, and I see a significant amount of "skeptics" saying he deserves the benefit of the doubt, I will acknowledge my error. If he doesn't answer and the tribalists pile on, I will bring it to your attention. If he answers that he didn't do it and the tribalists pile on anyway, I will bring it to your attention.

    Anyway - The point of my last comment stands anyway. Maybe my questioning you is "bizarre." But if so, it appears I'm not the only bizarre person.

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  36. I'd just like to register my disgust at the generally poor quality of modern forgery. With all the software tools at one's disposal, it should be pretty darn easy to create a plausible fake, but so few people succeed. Granted, this was not quite as bad as creating an ostensibly typewritten letter from 1972 using a justified font like Times New Roman and the default MS Word settings, but it's pretty bad. Worst of all was the Adobe pacific standard time zone stamp they neglected to change.

    BTW, anyone interested in some heavily discounted T-bills? :-)

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  37. Re: Joshua "My point of focus is, specifically, the virtually uniform display of hypocrisy I've seen among "skeptics," who have a long history of "concern" about the politicization of climate science but who have not expressed any "concern" about it being evidenced in the Heartland documents."

    You have managed to hijack just about every thread out there with your declaration of hypocrisy. It's complete BS.

    Skeptics aren't concerned with the politicization of climate science evidenced in the HI documents because we knew where they stood beforehand. So did you. So cut the crap with the false indignation.

    HI and Heritage are conservative think tanks. CAP, CBPP are liberal think tanks. Shocking.

    The glaring hypocrisy here has been displayed by media such as the NYT. They won't publish climategate emails because a) "they're stolen" and b) Some of them could be fake. But they have no problem whatsoever putting up every scrap of these docs.

    The hypocrisy is ripe, but it's not coming from the skeptics. So PLEASE stop with that claptrap.

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  38. -35-Joshua

    Thanks ... the link you pointed me to asks "Is Accusing People Fair?"

    If you ask someone "When did you stop beating you wife?" it includes a presumption. Had I asked Gleick "When did you decide to forge the document?" that would also include a presumption. Lucia pointed this out to you (twice). The analogy doesn't fit, sorry.

    I saw a bunch of people speculating as to whether Gleick was responsible (using my blog as evidence) so I decided to ask him directly -- to cut to the chase. Peter has always been very good at quickly responding to emails, so I expect to hear back from him soon.

    I really don't care if a bunch of people on a blog are, as you say, slinging jello. Geez, people are slinging jello about me just about every day (some even post under the name of Joshua;-) I doubt that jello-slinging would bother Gleick either. We are all big boys.

    Gleick will respond or not. We shall see. I note that he is speaking at AAAS this afternoon, so perhaps someone will just ask him!

    Only in the climate debate does the asking of a yes-or-no question become controversial;-)

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  39. About a year and a half ago, stories began circulating on the internet about the creation of a Rapid Reaction team of scientists and writers who would confront skeptical claims and show the consensus side of the story.

    Since then, apart from the normal to and fro of science, we have seen some very strange goings-on. This is just the latest episode.

    I'm thinking of things like Anderegg, Prall, et al, a truly bad paper explaining truly bad science, with Stephen Schneider's name slapped on it and brought to us via PNAS.

    John Mashey's multi-colored ink diatribe against Wegman's critique of Mann's work is another example. Half the paper is devoted to McShane Wyner, but it's published as a takedown of Wegman.

    Brian Angliss at Scholars and Rogues publishes posts about how we can't judge the CRU emails because we don't have a statistically significant sample.

    You see by the names involved that this has relatively little to do with climate science. This is sort of a bizarre attempt to hijack the argument--sliming scientists and others who buck the consensus.

    Now this.

    Not helping.

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  40. Also, to explain further.

    I really think that you are in a fairly unique situation in the full spectrum of the debate. I know that you feel that you have been unfairly attacked from the "realist" side, and I get why that might affect your outlook, but from what I've seen, you have credibility with many "skeptics" despite your views on the long term ramifications of ACO2.

    Ain't many of those around - and as a significant figure in the debate, that gives you a unique leverage in diminishing the politicization of the science. I believe that's your goal, but I think sometimes you take missteps. Sure, that's arrogant of me, but you can take my opinion for exactly what it is worth.


    So if I see you doing something that I think works counterproductively w/r/t diminishing the negative impact of tribalism, I will use the forum that you provide to me at your discretion, to let you know my view.

    Obviously, I don't expect you to necessarily agree with me as to what you should or shouldn't do. If you think that you're helping the situation by asking Gleick, publicly, if he created a fake document, so be it. I disagree.

    So again, take that for exactly what it's worth.

    What's the value of an opinion in the blogosphere?

    I may not have much expertise in economics, but I do have a sense of what the law of supply and demand says about things that ain't exactly a rare commodity.

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  41. Roger:

    "If you ask someone "When did you stop beating you wife?" it includes a presumption...The analogy doesn't fit, sorry. "



    Is there a presumption implied if I ask you, let's say during a television interview, "Roger, did you stop beating your wife?"

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  42. 43 - Roger -

    Yup. As I see it, you're making a semantic distinction on the basis of using "when did you," instead of "did you..." - with the difference being that one implies an assumption whereas the other doesn't. I don't buy that distinction. If you asked him privately, there is no assumption. To do so publicly, and then to hang out with the people who originated the accusation, in my view, does not come across as as assumption-less as you seem to think.

    You stated earlier that such a perspective was bizarre. Well, maybe it was. But if something is "bizarre" you would expect it to also be unusual. I have presented you with evidence that it isn't exactly an unusual perspective.


    Anyway, we've milked this for any potential value we're going to get out of it. I get your perspective and I think that at this point you get mine. I'll see you on another thread.

    ReplyDelete
  43. -45-Joshua

    Thanks ... ah, the old "what you really meant" argument ;-) Thanks for the exchange.

    ReplyDelete
  44. "Just when I think I am out, they pull me back in."

    But seriously, the whole discussion of manufacturing and service jobs was fun while it lasted. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  45. No, reality is not good enough. But as any good leftist knows, there is a higher reality, and a higher truth. I'm not makin' this stuff up - they're proud to say it every chance they get. They (need to) believe that Koch and Big Oil finance climate skeptics, therefore they 'show' the evidence. All's fair, etc.

    They've been stewing over Climategate for a couple of years now, and they needed their own 'scandal.' Now they've got it. ;-)

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  46. re 48

    ==================================
    No, reality is not good enough. But as any good leftist knows, there is a higher reality, and a higher truth
    ==================================

    Of course there is a higher truth. Just as others come to the debate worthy opinions that AGW mitigation measures are dangerous intrusions on individual autonomy and freedom. We have to accept that this issue is inherently political. It is futile to condemn the "politicization of science" when politics permeates all aspects of society. the debate about AGW is not a debate about physical theories but is a clash of values of how human affairs are to be conducted.

    So, if as I say, the science behind AGW is inherently political then how are we do deal with that. In that I follow Roger Pielke's idea of the honest broker and use Steve McIntyre's conduct as an example of that. Steve McIntyre approaches AGW findings with caution. He emphasizes rigour and what that entails. He never goes beyond the facts. He never (or seldom ever) makes emotive statements. He realizes that there is inevitably going to be uncertainty but that some decision must be made even with that uncertainty..

    And what is the result of Steve McIntyre's honest broker behavior. A single man working alone in Toronto has exposed the fundamental shortcomings of the dominant faction in climate science. He has shown that their science is sloppy and not to be relied upon. The climate science establishment has tried all of the conventional tactics that an establishment faced with a disruptive challenge use. They tried to ignore him. That did not work because his work was sound and he was persistent. They tried to denigrate his abilities and qualifications. . That did not work because his work was sound and he was persistent. They tried to impugn his motives. . That did not work because his work was sound and he was persistent.

    The end result of climate science establishment's behavior was to further discredit their cause. Acceptance of their views on AGW are made difficult because of that discredit and the issue remains that their views may actually reflect what is going on in the atmosphere. Their science is sloppy and unreliable but there is a chance that the real facts lie in their preferred direction. That is an issue for all of us.

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  47. Gleick surfaced today on Twitter, sort of...

    "Great to be away with family. Celebrating 2 big birthdays. (Total =100!):"

    My recollection is that his personal tweets are few and usually tied into the scarce water meme.

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  48. Roger -

    A point re: your last comment:


    "Thanks ... ah, the old "what you really meant" argument ;-) "


    I think you're miscontruing my point. I've been discussing what, to me, your tweet to Gleick looks like, or at least potentially looks like. It's only an opinion, not a statement of fact.

    In my view, your tweet could be explained as a "gotcha" on the presumption that Gleick fabricated the document and will be put more on the hot seat by your tweet.

    Or, in my view, your tweet could be misguided attempt to help resolve the matter - misguided because I think a negative outcome (w/r/t feeding the tribalism in the climate debate) is considerably more likely as a result of your tweet than a positive outcome.


    There are a number of ways that my view could be proven wrong. We'll see.

    And in making these points, I'm not dismissing the negative impact (w/r/t feeding the tribalism in the climate debate) if someone from the tribe of "realists" created a "fake" document (although even if that is what happened, in the long run I don't think it would tell us much that we didn't already know: there's a lot of tribalism in the climate debate).


    Sorry if what I wrote was misleading. I don't presume to know what you really "mean." Clearly, only you know that.

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  49. What does Peter Gleick say about the memo? Does he think it's real?

    A priori, I'd highly doubt Gleick was involved with a memo forgery. This is career-destroying stuff, and he has to know that. Someone of his prominence doing such a thing would have to be a complete idiot. A low-level CAGW activist makes more sense.

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  50. "Someone of his prominence doing such a thing would have to be a complete idiot."

    People said the same about Nixon and Watergate.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Steve, true. But Nixon was the president, and thought executive privilege would protect him.

    If I were a devious and unethical CAGW activist and decided to forge a memo, I'd probably give some fake clues to throw people off the trail. Then when a false accusation is made, the story may shift from the memo's forgery to the unjust accusation.

    From a CAGW skeptic viewpoint, it would be almost too good to be true if Gleick was really that stupid. And of course, things that seem too good to be true usually are.

    Just a caution to keep in mind while the investigation proceeds.

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  52. Ignoble as ever. Where you should be red-faced, seeing how rotten the whole fake "climategate" thing was, you keep pointing the finger at others, while convincing people that black is white. Meanwhile the science gets stronger and stronger. You're certainly not doing a good job of persuading me.

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  53. The faker called, it must be easy to check the telephone records. Besides the secretary might recognize the voice of the faker, it must be easy to find. I'm eagerly awaiting the police confiscating the hard drives of various alarmists, as they did with sceptic bloggers with regard to Climategate 1 and 2.

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  54. "Unknown said...

    The faker called, it must be easy to check the telephone records. Besides the secretary might recognize the voice of the faker, it must be easy to find. I'm eagerly awaiting the police confiscating the hard drives of various alarmists, as they did with sceptic bloggers with regard to Climategate 1 and 2."

    There's no indication in anything about this that 'the faker' was also the individual who "soshed" the documents from the HI. It could easily be that the results of the extraction were so disappointing that an individual to whom they were forwarded, tried to 'spice' up the mix with something that seemed more damning. Being apparently ignorant of the true diversity of thought among what AGW faithful characterize as "deniers," the result is a transparent fake. Either way, it is clear that the author of the "Confidential Memo:" was not a member of any subvariety of sceptic, and in fact the author stupidly presumed that sceptics think of themselves in the same derogatory terms that an AGW faithful might.

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  55. Well - interesting development, Roger.


    So Gleick says:

    "I made no changes or alterations of any kind to any of the Heartland Institute documents or to the original anonymous communication."


    Do you take him at his word? What do you predict about the likely reaction of the "skeptical" blogosphere?

    That they take him at his work about the "fake" document?

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  56. I'm cross-posting breaking news since Roger is one of the inquisitors,via Bishopthill:


    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2012/2/19/heartland-issues-legal-notices.html?currentPage=5#comments

    Gleick just confessed.
    Feb 21, 2012 at 1:42 AM | Steve McIntyre


    @Steve M:
    He just confessed to obtaining documents from Heartland - not to faking the strategy memo.
    It's all on revkins blog

    My summary, from a very quick reading, is that

    HE CLAIMS:
    1. The strategy doc was sent to him separately by an anonymous person - (he continues to claim it might be accurate)

    2. The other documents he obtained by calling up Heartland and pretending to be somebody else.

    3. He emailed the whole lot out together.
    Feb 21, 2012 at 1:46 AM | Copner

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  57. http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/20/peter-gleick-admits-to-deception-in-obtaining-heartland-climate-files/

    Peter Gleick Admits to Deception in Obtaining Heartland Climate Files
    By ANDREW C. REVKIN

    Peter H. Gleick, a water and climate analyst who has been studying aspects of global warming for more than two decades, in recent years became an aggressive critic of organizations and individuals casting doubt on the seriousness of greenhouse-driven climate change. He used blogs, congressional testimony, group letters and other means to make his case.

    Now, Gleick has admitted to an act that leaves his reputation in ruins and threatens to undercut the cause he spent so much time pursuing. His summary, just published on his blog at Huffington Post, speaks for itself. You can read his short statement below with a couple of thoughts from me:

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  58. Josh - take a break, maybe? Let the dust settle? After all he does 'deeply regret my own actions in this case.' and ....'offer my personal apologies to all those affected'.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Hmm, he's just admitted to wire fraud and theft by deception, who on earth would suspect him of forgery and lying as well?

    Given that these are Federal offenses, I expect the DoJ is preparing an indictment as I write this. Yeah, right.

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  60. It's really intersting that Peter Gleick's viewpoint is so blinded that he apparently didn't even consider that the Climate Strategy memo might be a fake.

    As Megan McArdle pointed out, "dissuading teachers from teaching science" is just bizzare.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Apparently there's already a video dramatization of this whole fiasco up on youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcTNALFumSk

    ReplyDelete
  62. Heartland has a reply out on Gleick's confession, up at WUWT.

    MORE at climateaudit.org, courtesy of Steve McIntyre.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Joesph Bast for HI writes, in part: "In his statement, Gleick claims he committed this crime because he believed The Heartland Institute was preventing a 'rational debate. from taking place over global warming. This is unbelievable. Heartland has repeatedly asked for real debate on this important topic. Gleick himself was specifically invited to attend a Heartland event to debate global warming just days before he stole the documents. He turned down the invitation."

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  64. "A priori, I'd highly doubt Gleick was involved with a memo forgery. This is career-destroying stuff, and he has to know that. Someone of his prominence doing such a thing would have to be a complete idiot. A low-level CAGW activist makes more sense.
    Sun Feb 19, 07:12:00 PM MST"

    Looking like a bad bet on your part. Given the analysis already performed that connected Gleick's writing style with the style in the forgery, his recent confession looks like an attempt to quell that fire. Megan McCardle also, rather presciently, said to look for a loud voice suddenly gone silent wrt the memo. Gleick was, in fact, a rather loud voice, and immediately after the release of the docs, went very quiet.

    I'd just about bet the house that he's behind the fake memo. The circumstantial evidence is approaching overwhelming. I dearly hope that a search warrant is being prepared (if not already served) to confiscate all of his equipment.

    If he is innocent, then obviously I am wrong, and will apologize for the unwarranted accusation. But I don't think I am. We'll see.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Roddy #61, I can't have too much sympathy for someone who is trying to dodge the bullet for what he's done with a legal-beagle's tiptoe around the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    The man's still in denial. His collision with reality has yet to complete.

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  66. Obvious point that seems (?) to have been missed so far: if Gleick received the fake strategy document before he obtained the board papers, why did it not occur to him as strange that the strategy paper was not among the board papers? Why did he proceed to publish it online claiming that it was part of the board pack when he knew it was not?

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  67. nukemhill,

    I confess . . . to being far too charitable toward Peter Gleick.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Gleick has resigned from the board of NCSE, and no longer appears on the AGU's website as chair of their ethics committee.

    NCSE's decision to branch out from their original mission of protecting the teaching of evolution in public schools was in my opinion a major mistake, and it cost them my (modest) financial support. Apparently, though, they have learned nothing. Eugenie Scott says the whole tawdry episode shows home important it is to defend the teaching of climate science in the classroom.

    Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  69. @Joshua

    pwned. Big time. By your fellow travellers.

    Ouch

    ReplyDelete
  70. - 72 - clue

    I've seen nothing that wasn't apparent before.

    An interesting question: Roger said that he would take Glieck's response, re: having faked the Heartland document, at face value.

    Will that pan out? Will Roger say that Gleick admitting to involvement with the other documents justifies a shift in his (Roger's) position?

    At any rate, I predicted that if Gleick issued a denial, it would be largely disregarded in the "skeptical" blogosphere.

    How's that prediction working out?

    ReplyDelete
  71. 69. chrissavage said...

    Obvious point that seems (?) to have been missed so far: if Gleick received the fake strategy document before he obtained the board papers, why did it not occur to him as strange that the strategy paper was not among the board papers?

    Because the fake strategy paper referred to a 'nefarious plan' to not inform the entire board of the strategy.

    So obviously Dr Gleick chose to impersonate one the board members that was allegedly 'kept in the dark' as to the alleged 'evil nefarious plans' in the fake strategy document.

    Joe Bast has been at Heartland since it's founding in 1984. I find it difficult to believe anyone who had a habit of 'deceiving the board of directors' would still be employed after 27 years.

    I also find it difficult to understand how someone could hide in a $6 million budget enough money to carry out a 'secret evil nefarious plan' without full board knowledge.

    ReplyDelete
  72. -73-Joshua

    I'm curious, do you think that Gleick's admission to using fraudulent means to obtain the documents, essentially lying to obtain possession of them, reduce his integrity?

    If it does reduce Gleick's integrity, do further statements by him deserve more scrutiny because of that or should they be taken at face value still?

    Do you personally condemn the hypocrisy where Gleick espouses ethical behaviour (as the chair of an AGU ethical work) but displays such unethical behviour?

    ReplyDelete
  73. - 75 - deanbrock -

    First, some caveats: Judging someone else's integrity is kind of tricky. I feel like you really need to know someone to judge their integrity. I think it is possible for people of integrity to do things that are questionable ethically - depending on their motivations. I think that to judge integrity, you have to consider the magnitude of the negative impact from someone's actions and the degree to which they were aware of that negative impact.

    I'm sure that we could both think of interesting examples that put these questions into relativistic frameworks. For example, I think that Bush initiated a very expensive war that resulted in tens of thousand of American casualties and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties based on a very poor evaluation of the available evidence, and a poor approach to planning of the invasion and its aftermath. But I actually don't think it puts his integrity into question. I think that his decision-making processes were influenced by his biases. I don't think that it's logical to think that Bush would have predicted those outcomes, so it is hard for me to pass judgement on his integrity even given a much more serious sequence of outcomes - and even though I view his decisions as a personal failing. Judging someone's integrity requires a knowledge of motivations and intent and information about someone's awareness of the outcomes of their actions.


    Anyway - it's clear that Gleick's statements related to the climate debate can't be taken at face value - and his further statements certainly merit greater scrutiny. Fraudulently obtaining those documents, and deceptively disseminating them as coming from anyone other than himself certainly, in the very least, undermines the integrity he should be granted at face value, and if he did fabricate that document with words deliberately intended to falsely and inaccurately portray Heartland's intent, and if he's continuing to lie about the origination of that one document, he integrity will be all that much more undermined.

    But if he did all of that and also takes care of elderly relatives and is always faithful and truthful with his wife and treats his kids with great love and is always there to support them and he faithfully represents the uncertainty in his scientific work? I don't know, but without knowing him personally, I am reluctant to judge his integrity simply on this one situation. People make mistakes.

    That said, I think that there is good reason to suspect that his tribal attitude would have a significant effect on the openness with which he deals with uncertainty in his science.

    Beyond all of that, I think that tribalists on both sides display hypocrisy. I think that it is hypocritical to decry a politicization on the "skeptical" side of the climate debate and then overtly try to politicize the debate on the "realist" side (as Gleick has done). So I think that beyond the question of integrity, there's clearly an indication of hypocrisy.

    In my view, the politicization on both sides needs to be dealt with openly (politicization of the science is inevitable) so that at least attempts can be made to control for its influence of not eliminate its influence.

    And the bottom line here is that Glieck took a risk and I have absolutely no problem with him needing to deal with the consequences of his actions.

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  74. -76- Joshua

    Those are fair and reasonable thoughts. It is likely incorrect to impugn Gleick's integrity from this single (un)ethical lapse of judgement.

    I do agree with you that hypocrisy and politicization run rampant on both sides of the climate debate.

    Unfortunately, incidents like these only raise the noise level of those unproductive activities and distract from the important discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  75. - 77 - deanbrock -


    "Unfortunately, incidents like these only raise the noise level of those unproductive activities and distract from the important discussion. "


    Agreed. It's a mess.

    ReplyDelete
  76. It is likely incorrect to impugn Gleick's integrity from this single (un)ethical lapse of judgement.

    Dean, I'm sorry, but that sounds just a bit like it would be incorrect to impugn someone's virginity for just one lapse into pregnancy.

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  77. @Joshua

    You can put up as many paragraphs as you like, but it doesn't change the fact that you were pwned.

    It doesn't change the fact that a public champion of the cause you so admire as virtuous has been caught committing both a severe ethical break and legal crime.

    It doesn't change the fact that this behavior isn't a one-off, that Greenpeace among others have also stooped to exactly such tactics.

    It doesn't change the fact that convenient memes, whether HurricaneGate, or AfricaGate, or GlacierGate, or whatever are happily incorporated into the ongoing media campaign without even the slightest scruple, scientific integrity, or due diligence, which in turn doesn't change the fact that apparently the facts don't matter in pursuit of the CAGW political agenda.

    And thus it underscores that CAGW is not about fact, it is about power.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Roger,

    I realize it is unlikely that I can make this point without it being taken as a partisan scoring point, but I'm going to try.

    The science is ultimately about credibility, especially when no one replicates anyone else's work and no one (other than people like Steve Mc) even has any interest in audits. Peer review can't detect fraud, negligence, statistical screwups, etc. Alarmists recognize that credibility is critical because of their repeated resort to appeals to authority.

    So why do scientists who demand that we accord them credibility consistently resort to statements which are factually unsupported? We keep reading SCIENTISTS saying that deniers are well-funded, coordinated, and engaged in an attack on science. Where is the evidence to support any of this? Don't they realize that a scientist who makes statements that can't be supported by the facts loses his most important qualification?

    I keep reading that we it is a shame we can't get past the food fight to discuss the important science. But the people leading the food fight are the scientists! It's the scientists breaking laws, conspiring to subvert peer review, and refusing transparency. It's scientists engaging in slander and making unsupportable ad hominem statements.

    Why don't these guys understand what they are doing to their credibility?

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  79. "Judging someone else's integrity is kind of tricky."

    Well yes. None of us is God. None of us is all-knowing.

    I don' think it is helpful to frame the issue as making a moral judgment of the type best left to higher authorities.

    The better question is whether Gleick should be trusted when he purports to represent the scientific community. That is a simple question with a simple answer: No. He has put his commitment to a cause above his ethical duties.

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  80. The problem here is that Gleick and many contributors to the more alarmist blogs (DeSmog particularly) appear to believe their self-constructed narrative of the 'skeptic / denier' has to be true.

    They seem to find it impossible to consider that reasonably intelligent and scientifically literate people can see the same data about recent warming and the future projections and honestly hold the opinion that it is not an existential crisis about which something* has to be done now. Therefore anyone who disagrees with them MUST be in the pay of big business and part of the denial machine whose sole purpose is to spread disinformation. As such, any action against them is justified and justifiable, even when it turns out that the 'well-funded' organisation promoting the disinformation has a lower annual budget than the IPCC's annual travel expences budget (and apparently none of it comes from 'Big Oil').

    * Something, in this case, usually seems to involve building wind turbines or solar power plants that cannot provide adequate and reliable power on anything like the scale of the fossil fuel plants they are meant to replace. The one proven technology that could provide a low carbon, abundant energy future in the middle term, nuclear fusion, is also against the beliefs of many for ideological more than technological reasons.

    BTW, as a British liberal Earth Sciences PhD and moderate skeptic, I don't believe either that the vast majority of the proponents of AGW fit the narrative presented by the right wing deniers, whereby they are simply interested in perpetuating a Leftist agenda towards one-world government, and will manipulate the scientific facts to promote this agenda.

    Sometimes though, it does become difficult, when you read Prof Mann's promotion of 'the cause' (in the CG2 e-mails) and have incident's like Dr Gleick's recent mis-adventures. Then you read the responses from the likes of Dr Annan, Dr Crowley (NY Times comments to Andy Revkin's story) and Gavin Schmidt, and it restores a little bit of the faith that this IS an area inhabited by serious scientists.

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  81. junkscience.com is reporting that the EPA grant awards database has been scrubbed of any mention of grants to the Pacific Institute. I was initially skeptical of this charge, but I had read the original junk science.com post on the PI's grants (mostly they were about cleaning up West Oakland), and checked out some of them on the database. They were there Tuesday, but have apparently disappeared; searches for the grant by title, recipient and grant number all seem to turn up nothing.

    This is all very Orwellian.

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  82. A straightforward question for Joshua.

    Are you Josh Rosenau of NCSE?

    Simple question; it deserves a simple answer.

    We can then move on to whether your interrogation of Roger was disingenuous.

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  83. So, can we assume Josh is from NCSE?

    An organisation that attempts to prepare materials to show teachers what to teach about science. Which, as we have learned, is an evil thing to do.

    Silly me. Only an evil thing when done by conservatives.

    Note: I am a card carrying Liberal. On every item other than climate, I would side with NCSE over Heartland. Just on climate I think "my" side is behaving disgracefully.

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  84. Someone at my blog just pointed this comment thread out to me. I'm not a regular, and if this is how the regulars behave, I don't plan to become one.

    Gerard: No. As you apparently know, I go by Josh, not Joshua.

    Mooloo: No. Joshua is one of the most common names in the US. Most of them aren't me, and it'd be dumb to assume anyone going by "Joshua" must be me. Try going alphabetically through the Joshes by last name.

    There's probably some sort of lesson here about shooting first and asking questions later. I gather it'd be lost on this crowd.

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  85. Josh Rosenau,

    Are you expecting people to believe that the Joshua who posted here on Feb 17 (comment 35)

    "To extend the analogy, is asking someone when/if they stopped beating their wife accusing them of anything?"

    (which Roger immediately pointed out is an incorrect analogy)

    and the Josh Rosenau who tweeted to Roger on Feb 17th,

    "@RogerPielkeJr Have you stopped beating your wife?"

    are two different people?

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  86. Please no more discussion of Josh/Joshua, he has moved on in any case and I don't expect that he will be back. Thanks.

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