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

From: Jon Tandy <>
Date: Mon Nov 23 2009 - 14:43:28 EST

I guess my feeling about this when it first came to my attention was
somewhere between Keith's and Cameron's. We absolutely need to have
whistle-blowers when there is wrongdoing, and we also need to support proper
ethics (not only the proper handling of scientific matters, but also
revealing essentially private correspondence when there isn't a compelling
need, for instance).


From the snippets I've read so far, they are far from damaging to the
alleged "strong consensus" of AGW science that has been publicized.
However, I haven't read all the published accounts on the Internet, and
don't intend to do so. What I suspect is they will turn out to be a tempest
in a teapot, and do nothing to further better science, but they will only
serve to further politicize and polarize anti-scientific hype (which we
already have way too much of). If the data for AGW is overwhelmingly
convincing that there really is something going seriously wrong in the
climate, and if there happen to be revealed a few isolated data points where
scientists in a couple of instances have "massaged" the data more than they
should, then the revelation of these instances will only serve to politicize
the anti-GW rhetoric and delay needed action, possibly to the detriment or
catastrophe of us all.


But what if I'm wrong, and these e-mails truly reveal a systematic attempt
to twist conflicted scientific data into a false representation of certainty
for a particular scientific conclusion? Certainly we need to know about it,
but how are we to judge the difference? It is best done by those who know
the facts, who know enough about the data to be able to interpret the true
data from the "noise" of falsely represented data or conclusions. In this
respect, I reject about 85% of the way your anti-expert opinion point of
view. What is needed is clear thinking by people who know enough and have
enough time to digest all the data, not take the "sound bites" that will
inevitably come from this revelation in the way it has been exposed.


What about other cases of "whistle-blowing", such as someone who reveals
fiscal wrongdoing of corporate executives? Would we, or should we in the
interest of truth or justice, advocate that a corporate whistle-blower
should take his findings to the Internet and local newspapers, broadcast it
across the whole nation, and that others should prejudicially lynch the
alleged wrongdoers through infinite repetitions of the allegations, without
a fair trial of the evidence? Shouldn't the first course of action on the
part of the individual be to reveal illegal actions to federal law
authorities, or corporate leadership (board of directors, etc.), who are
responsible for seeing that actions are doing ethically? How could these
corporate executives get a fair trial, if the pool of jurors (i.e. the whole
country) have been biased by an unlimited publication of one-sided evidence
before the trial?


And if this is a correct model for judging this sort of action, where would
be the appropriate authorities to which such whistle-blowing should have
been vetted, if not in the court of public opinion, since these actions
probably didn't include federal law-breaking? Should it have first been
brought to the attention of the leadership of the science organizations
where they were employed? The IPCC? Independent science magazines, who
could look into the allegations through investigative journalism rather than
presumptive politicization and cherry picking of evidence?


It seems to me there was wrong-doing here on the part of the hackers and
those who would exploit their work for anti-scientific ends, but I would be
glad to be shown otherwise.


Jon Tandy


From: [] On
Behalf Of Cameron Wybrow
Sent: Monday, November 23, 2009 12:12 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Hadley files stolen and published on the internet...


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


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


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

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

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, 23 Nov 2009 13:43:28 -0600

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