As my last post mentioned, I've been sick for a while. The details aren't important, but it's kept me largely offline for a while. I'm on the mend though, and hopefully I'll be fine in a week or two. Some people won't be though. There is a type of sickness that just can't be cured. That's what I want to highlight today. Anthony Watts, proprietor of "The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change" Watts Up With That, recently wrote:
I missed a couple adjacent road names, fixed now and images updated. Thanks. However, anybody can figure out these addresses with less than 5 minutes of searching on Google and other services. That’s how I did it. No secret haxor skilz needed.
This is a reference to me. Or rather, a couple posts I wrote that were published at his site in which I discussed claims by members of the Skeptical Science website that I had hacked into their server when I found pictures they had created where they Photoshopped themselves into Nazi imagery. These claims were ridiculous as I had just browsed a public directory on a website, and as such, I facetiously wrote about how I used "mad haxor skillz" as a "l33t hacker paid by evil organizations and shadowy conglomerates."
The reference itself is inconsequential as I'm not tied to the topic Watts was discussing, but it caught my eye when I tried to catch up with my Twitter feed from while I was mostly offline. When I looked at the story, I found out Watts was definitely right to say he didn't need any mad haxor skillz like I have for his story. He just needed to be sicker and more disgusting than I could ever attempt to be.
I'm not going to write all my thoughts about this topic because, to be blunt, Watts is a liar who seems willing to support and defend disgusting and even criminal behavior if it suits his purpose. If you want to see a bit of my thoughts on the topic, you can read this post. What you'll see is as harsh as my criticisms in that post may be, they don't go far enough. You see, a recent post by Watts begins:
From the “arch denier Watts leads the way” department (see my photos below) I thought it would be interesting to see how many climate scientists actually have solar power on their home, so I did an aerial survey to find out. The results don’t speak well for them. Don’t worry, I did not disclose anyone’s address – Anthony
I'll leave aside that Watts publicizes people's phone numbers, e-mail addresses and the real names of people who wish to remain anonymous. He can damn himself with faint praise by saying he "did not disclose anyone's address" if he wants. He can pretend people who advocate for combating global warming are hypocrites if they fail to install solar panels on their roofs, irregardless of whether or not solar power would be a good option in those locations. Whatever. As stupid and pathetic as that might be, I think it's enough to just point out he posts things like:
Kevin E. Trenberth's House, Boulder, CO
No wait, that's not it. I mean, it's weird he'd post that. Why would he? Sharing the hometowns of people when those locations have nothing to do with anything being discussed is just... I don't know. I don't want to say it's just weird, because it's not. It's distasteful. It's even a little creepy. Still, what I meant to share, with my apologies to Keving Trenberth, is this picture Watts posted:
Yeah, that's right. Anthony Watts is posting pictures of people's homes. How creepy can you get? I don't care if it took "mad haxor skillz," breaking into office files or a simple Google search to find people's home addresses. It's creepy as all get out to find pictures of their homes and post them for everyone to look at. It's worse than creepy when you encourage hostility toward the people living in those homes.
Given the sort of vile, hateful and even threatening comments get posted on Watts's site by various people, directing his readers to look at people's personal residences isn't just creepy, disgusting and a few dozen other words. It's potentially dangerous. I don't think there's danger in the sense people will use these pictures to find and harm anyone, but it is a step along the road to stalking. No fair-minded person should do something like this.
Now, before anyone defends this by saying Watts were merely interested in examining the supposed hypocrisy of global warming advocates, I want to share a picture he posted of Thomas Karl's house. This is what Watts says about it:
How about Thomas R. Karl, director of the National Climatic Center in Asheville, NC? He has a six figure annual salary according to budget reports I’ve seen, so surely he can afford home solar power to be put on his home near Asheville. Nope, it doesn’t seem so:
This is clearly inflammatory, but perhaps that could be justified if Karl were the hypocrite Watts portrays him as. We could look at where he lives to see how much installing solar panels and equipment to support them would cost and siting issues to see how appropriate using solar power at his house might be. Only, Watts didn't do that. He clearly didn't even attempt to. Just look at the picture (with apologies to Thomas Karl for further sharing them):
The picture asks, "No solar panels?" Well duh! Just look at the picture. A third of the house is covered in shade. There are so many trees so close to the house, solar power would likely be a terrible option. Anyone with the slightest interest in an objective or even rational examination of this issue would never cite this as an example of hypocrisy.
Anthony Watts certainly isn't saying, "How dare Thomas Karl advocate for action to combat global warming while not installing solar panels on the roof of his house that is routinely covered in sahde by the trees located close to it?!" That'd be insane.
The reality is it doesn't matter if solar power would be a good option for the people whose homes Watts found and publicized photographs for. Watts just wanted red meat to throw out to his audience to demonize people whose views he doesn't like. He knows fully well it would make those people uncomfortable. That's the point. It's the same reason he constantly strives to ruin the anonymity of anyone he dislikes, insisting on referring to them by their full names even if they try to keep their names a secret.
Anthony Watts is simply engaging in harassment. He'll likely deny it, and I'm sure people will say this is too trivial a matter to qualify as harassment. They know it's true though. If people on the other "side" behaved as Watts does, he'd complain. His supporters would whine about how unfair and evil it is. It's pure partisanship.
It's also irrelevant. When it comes right down to it, all that really matters is if you post pictures of other people's homes while demonizing them and inciting hatred for them, you're disgusting. If you do so without understanding why it is creepy, you're sick in the head.
And yes, I get there might be some extreme cases where posting pictures of people's personal homes is appropriate. In those cases it should be done hesitantly, cautiously and with discussion of why it is necessary. Anything short of that can be nothing but an attempt at harassment.