I don't use the word "fraud" lightly. I've long criticized people who do. Not only do I think it is wrong in principle, I think it is wrong from a strategic perspective. If you cry, "Fraud!" over every little thing, nobody will listen when you point out real fraud. It's called a sense of proportion. One's rhetoric should ramp up with the severity of what is being criticized.
I bring this up because I want to follow up on my last post which discussed a case of fraud involving $100,000. Or rather, it was a case of fraud where a person used the false promise of $100,000 to cheat people out of money. You can read that post for the details. It's a long post so I won't re-hash the details here. I'll just give a short summary.
Last year, a man named Douglas Keenan announced he would give $100,000 to anyone who could win a contest he had created. There were tons of red flags which should have made people suspect this was bogus, but despite that, several big names in the global warming "skeptic" movement promoted the contest. After people spent some time publicly discussing how they might try to win the contest, Keenan switched out the data set used in the contest for one the proposed methodologies would be less effective on.
This contest involved a $10 entrance fee. That makes what he did fraud. I've been pointing that out for the last year. Just 24 hours ago, Keenan admitted it. Continue reading
Something which has long bothered me about the global warming debate is how "skeptics" are so quick to cry, "Fraud!" about... well, practically anything. I discussed this recently where an organization made a list of hundreds of pieces of work they took (partial or full) credit for as part of applying for a grant. The list included over 500 items, and it turns out approximately 25 of those items should not have been included. "Skeptics" yelled and screamed about how this was criminal fraud that should be prosecuted.
That's nonsense of course. Nobody was able to show any evidence the inclusion of those extra items was done with the intent to mislead as opposed to having been a simple mistake. Nobody was able to show the inclusion of a small number of extra items in one document submitted along with an application could have had any effect on whether or not the grant was awarded. In other words, nobody was able to show this was anything more than an embarassing mistake.
At the same time, these same "skeptics" are happy to either overlook, promote or even defend criminal fraud when it suits their purposes. I'd like to discuss that today because I find it offensive these "skeptics" have robbed me of $100,000.
Have you ever said something then immediately wished you could take it back? It's especially bad on the internet, where there's a permanent record, right? You know, you write something in a comment, hit Submit, and immediately wished you hadn't written it.
Maybe you realized your tone was way ruder than it ought to have been. Maybe you realized you just made some boneheaded mistake. Whatever it is, we've all done it before. We've all written something and wished we could take it back. But we've all understood we couldn't.
But what if you could? It turns out if you run a blog, you can change comments however you want. So if you want to fix a mistake you made, you can. You can cover up any mistakes you make, hiding them from the world. It's really shady, but it turns out, some people do it.
A couple days ago Judith Curry said "the skeptical technical blogosphere is rapidly self-correcting." I told her she was wrong, saying in no unclear terms:
In my experience, skeptics as a whole aren’t self-correcting. They are every bit as guilty of willful blindness as anybody else. They just like to claim otherwise. There are a handful of exceptions, but by far and large, their reaction to any criticism depends entirely upon who and what is being criticized.
After a comment like that, I suppose it was inevitable I would start getting censored by skeptics.