2012-03-14 10:53:26Hello again and may I run an idea past y'all?
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.222.207

reetings SKS crew. It's been quite a while since I've been present at SkS; some ups and downs with health issues here (all under control) and business preoccupations have kept me away from here and elsewhere in the wider argumentosphere for some time.

One quick inquiry before I get on with it: has anybody here yet done a blog post about the Climate Science Defense Fund? I solicited some answers on this outfit from Scott Mandia, am way overdue doing an article  on it. I'd like to update my information and talk about that here. A quick search doesn't reveal coverage on SkS but if I've missed it I'd like to know. 

As to the main question,  Peter Gleick has obviously created "a bit of a stir" to say the least. Despite a lot of attention and discussion, it's my belief that the really interesting questions regarding Gleick and his transgression have gone largely unexplored; deprecations have been naive from the perspective of ethics and morality and with a complete, mile-wide miss by AGU as they've expressed themselves in their hastily written (and primarily fear-driven, I believe) press release and President's statements. 

Meanwhile, once again Professor Richard Lindzen has come up once more as a topic at RealClimate, thanks to his having once more delivered an underhanded accusation of scientific miscondut to climate modelers as well as delivering what might charitably be described as continuing to deliver slanted and truncated descriptions of climate science to yet another audience. 

To me, an interesting way of approaching this is to take integrate the two cases into an overarching examination from the perspective of a more sophisticated treatment, not focusing on the personalities and instead looking at their relative moral positions. 

There's a terrific book on the topic of when and how we may or may not lie, by an expert, Sissela Bok. "Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life" explains that sometimes we may arguably be be morally compelled to lie, that doing otherwise is less "right" than the transgression of lying itself. How do Gleick and Lindzen fall on the scale of evaluation?

Putting this into practical applicaton, AGU thoughtlessly demanded that its members adhere to "excellence and integrity" in all their activities having to do with the public and science communication, yet is not to be found censuring Richard Lindzen for his very long history of misleading the lay public on climate science. This is rather strange; Gleick's activity was peripherally connected with AGU and was not about science communications whereas Lindzen's bad work with the public is precisely in the domain described by AGU. 

AGU has but a sole ethicist among the thirteen members of its "ethics task force" panel. If evidence (and some close second-hand experience) is any guide, this person is probably in place for form's sake; certainly AGU statements concerning Gleick reflect no ethical or moral nuance of the kind we'd expect from an expert. 

So, would anybody object highly if I tackled this as a blog post here on SkS? I think I can do it at Planet3.0 but loyalty steers me in this direction and I believe SkS readers would benefit from a less superficial treatment of the topic of scientists acting in the public square than we've seen elsewhere. 

2012-03-14 11:46:19
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Doug, I welcome both your return (in any capacity) and a blog post as delineated by you.

2012-03-14 14:35:27
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

Doug,

By coincidence, a few minutes ago I posted a link to "Legal Fund Helping Climate Scientists Draw Line in the Sand" on the SkS Facebook page.

2012-03-14 14:59:33
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.137.110.129

Hi Doug.  We haven't posted on the legal defense fund, or said much about Gleick.  We did cover Lindzen in Lindzen's London Illusions and Lindzen's Junk Science.

We tend to be pretty gunshy when it comes to moving outside the realm of science, and it's SkS policy not to speculate on peoples' motivations.  Also no accusations of deception are allowed.

So you'd have to walk a fine line in comparing and contrasting Gleick and Lindzen, not to accuse the latter of deception.  You could talk about his long history of being wrong - a subject we've covered in detail (in particular see Lindzen Illusion #7) - and that he should know better and should be able to admit that he's been wrong.  But just be careful not to say he's intentionally misinforming people (even though we all know that's the case).

If you can walk that tightrope, I'd say go for it.

2012-03-14 16:52:46Thanks!
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.222.207

John, thank you for the pointer. I've a visceral aversion to Facebook but I'll brace myself up and take a look at your piece. I'm waiting on refreshed info from Scott Mandia so it'll be a few days at best before I crank anything out. Scott's fund is important particularly here in the States; there's a fad on for what I'd term tortious interference w/scientists of many stripes (search "diesel emissions study blocked"). Manns' torment is by no means done. I'll freely admit that contriving to make regular mentions of CSDF is an objective of mine, so Facebook coverage plus a piece here simply fits into my plan to "stop the decline."  I'm also a  cash supporter of CSDF and would encourage anybody else with a few free dollars to chip in. 

Dana, thanks for the tips. Indeed it's a bit of challenge according to SkS ground rules. Fortunately I've long since been reeducated by John, heh! My thoughts on the affair hinge in part on AGU blundering into using the words "excellence and integrity" with regard to member interactions w/the public; it's an open field for discussion without any accusations.  One only has to repeat the words Lindzen has used and invite others to think about what he's said. As to Gleick, it's a matter of fact and he himself is on record that he did in fact lie, which means I can bring in Bok's book without crossing any lines. Understanding Bok's thrust is key to understanding the dilemma AGU and other professional organizations face when they cease simply holding meetings and producing journals and venture into talking of members and their ethics and morality. 

Regarding whether this is a matter of science or not, R. Lucky: "Communication has always been the circulatory system of science, if not its very heartbeat.“ Lousy, error-riddled communications by scientists are degenerate, move us backward in time, deny us the fruits of science. AGU recognizes this but either does not have the courage or is too hidebound to change its habits so as to address a novel form of rot affecting scientific communications.

Gleick's action was ill-conceived (in execution or motivation, depending on one's personal moral calculus), he's made a choice about costs versus benefits but he's also afforded us a valuable opportunity to look harder at how scientists behave in public. The latter is where we may find more lasting value, possibly salvage value depending on individual points of view. 

2012-03-15 02:21:31
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Yeah, SkS (particularly John) has been moving in a direction of talking more about climate communication, which is critically important, so I agree with you on that front.  Look forward to seeing what you put together.

2012-03-15 04:07:49
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

I can also"Spotlight" the legal defense fund in the next edition of the Weekly Digest.

2012-03-15 05:04:20
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.222.207

John that would be great. Links, if you need 'em:

<a href="http://climatesciencedefensefund.org/">Climate Science Defense Fund</a>

Sorry, got my conservative alphabet soup (ATI, AEI, CEI...they are legion) mixed up. Currently suing Mann is the <a href="http://www.atinstitute.org/american-tradition-institute-v-university-of-virginia-dr-michael-mann/">American Tradition Institute</a>

ATI is also suing Hansen and NASA.