Re: [asa] Hadley files stolen and published on the internet...

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Mon Nov 23 2009 - 13:12:07 EST

I agree entirely with Schwarzwald. Keith's comments sound to me far too much like Big Science (not to mention Big Politics) trying to excuse the inexcusable by means of a legalistic technicality: "Well, we did wrong, but we wouldn't have been caught except for illegal e-mail hacking, so everyone should pretend they don't have this information."

What is being exposed here is not some private scandal (marital infidelity or income tax evasion or a gambling addiction or the like) that has nothing to do with the science of climate change. What is being exposed is (possibly) proof that some of the people responsible for convincing the world of the existence of a climate change "crisis" have been altering data which disproves their hypothesis. If the "consensus of the experts" which has been so loudly insisted upon (here on this list among other places) proves to rest in part upon deliberately falsified data, then the consensus of the experts is not only built upon falsehood, but also upon dishonesty. If that's the case, it's absolutely imperative that the world should know. And given that those who falsify data are unlikely to confess having done so, the only way that the world will ever know is via means that are legally questionable.

Essentially, these are institutional e-mails, not personal e-mails. It is precisely to protect those who violate the confidence rules of institutions (whether corporations or governments or research institutes) that whistle-blowing laws have been brought into existence. The purpose of whistle-blowing laws is to put the public good above the private survival interests of corporations, government bureaucracies, politicians, and interest groups. Even if the release of these particular e-mails was (in terms of current law) a legal violation, it was certainly in the spirit of whistle-blowing, which elsewhere in our society is regarded as honourable and in many cases is completely legal. It is thus far from clear that it was either an immoral or an un-Christian action.

I wrote a lengthy post -- unanswered by anyone here -- giving reasons why the experts should not automatically be trusted. The possibility of outright dishonesty and manipulation of data, as opposed to plain old academic and scientific bias, was not among my reasons. I now add it to my reasons. I was not, it seems, cynical enough.

If these reports are true, we have people who have betrayed the very spirit of science, and have misled the public, hoping to goad it into a policy which may not be necessary, and which might wreck Western economies, especially the American economy, creating untold suffering to the families of tens of thousands of unemployed workers, as the jobs move to countries immune from Kyoto restrictions (while the university professors and millionaire former Vice-Presidents who support the policy live on in luxury). If the e-mail hackers had used their information for private gain, e.g., for blackmail, I would condemn them. But as they have released it freely to the world, and stand nothing to gain from it, I regard their action as whistle-blowing and in the public interest. As Schwarzwald says, whistle-blowing, even where it technically violates privacy (as it usually must, if it is to do any social good), can be a morally justifiable activity.

All the facts aren't in yet, and all these e-mails need to be studied carefully. But once they are studied, if they do say what they are alleged to say, I hope to hear some retractions of some of the statements made about climate change, both on this list and elsewhere. Like Schwarzwald, I don't reject the AGW hypothesis out of hand. But I have objected to the unscientific, unprofessional tactics (bullying, fear-mongering, exaggeration, insults, mockery, appeals to authority and consensus, suppression of dissident views, etc.) which have accompanied the promotion of that hypothesis. If dishonesty is also one of the tactics that has been used, well, that just confirms the fishy smell I detected about the AGW debate from the beginning.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Schwarzwald
  Sent: Monday, November 23, 2009 10:29 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Hadley files stolen and published on the internet...

  There's something innately humorous about suggesting no one read, distribute or discuss the content of those emails owing to, of all things, professional ethics. The violation of which these emails, if they are accurate, are exposing in great detail.

  And as someone who has watched one bit of "Christian ethics" after another fall under question over the years - from sodomy to gay marriage to abortion to who knows what else - I find it hard to accept that the line is now so clear, so utterly crystal clear, when it comes to leaking emails indicating politicking and corruption of the scientific process. It's not like the reason everyone is talking about this is because it was exposed that Scientist X sure has a hankerin' for hookers. (Not that Christian ethics are clear on that being unethical anymore, I suppose, depending on who one asks.)

  I wonder how many people, if these were the emails of climate skeptics, would be calling it "whistleblowing" and an act of heroism. Indeed, I wonder how many people would consider *the contents of these emails, if true* to be heroic acts. After all, their hearts were in the right place. Right?

  Sorry. I'm not even an AGW denier. But there's something grimly comical about the reaction to the whole thing, and damned if I'm gonna pretend otherwise.

  On Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 10:12 AM, Keith Miller <> wrote:

      With utter and deserved shame, if the contents of those emails are accurate, and if we had any decency.

    The content of the e-mails is utterly irrelevant to the unethical nature of their aquisition and distribution. Distributing private e-mails is a breach of professional ethics, let alone Christian ones.


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Received on Mon Nov 23 13:12:41 2009

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