JoNova

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Death by a thousand cuts: how the machinery of academia enforces conformity

The strange case of the Greenpeace FOIA of David Legates (Hydroclimatology prof, and skeptic) at the University of Delaware (US)

The Delaware State Law says FOIAs only apply to things supported by state funding and David Legates didn’t receive any. That should make this story incredibly short, except that, as Jan Bilt explains: “For reasons administrators have declined to explain, a small portion of Legates’ teaching salary was, curiously, placed on the list of state-funded activity shortly before Greenpeace filed its FOIA request in 2009.” In the end a heavyweight, Lawrence White, at the Uni of Delaware leaned heavily on Legates to provide not just everything Greenpeace asked for, but virtually everything he’d ever done  — his teaching notes, emails, even ones written on his own time, and on his personal computer. At the same time the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) filed FOIAs against three other people at the Uni of Delaware who had worked on IPCC reports. The same Lawrence White  said simply “No” to those requests. When is a law a law, and when is it merely a tool to fulfill the personal wishes of those in high places? Apparently when it’s on a university campus.

Compare Legates fate with Michael Mann. The State of Delaware is quite “tight” on FOIA, limiting its use, compared to the State of Virginia where Mann used to work. In Virginia all UVA faculty members are subject to FOIA requests. But there the heavyweights pulled out artillery, not against Mann, but against the FOIA — they took the request to court to stop Mann from having to release documents, emails and data related to his research. They argued it would have a chilling effect on research. (As if hiding emails and data somehow frees up  scientific discovery?)

David Legates

In other words, an FOIA is Freedom of Information if you have friends in high places, but selective enforcement means the chilling effect of FOI requests can be put to good use for those who do politically incorrect research. The hypocritical excuses are laid bare below…  But who will report this? The old media are on academia’s side, though. Through a very curious turn of events, journalists appear to have realized that they stand to lose their precious FOI tool itself if Mann gets away with his court excuses. After years of defending Mann, just weeks ago they flipped and now want those government funded emails. What an ugly precedent it would set if Mann can hide from FOI?

Now imagine we had an independent free media, and it went after White, demanding he explain why skeptics have to respond (and then some) to an FOIA, while IPCC believers can just say “No”. This could all be resolved so quickly. In a month the CEI could have all the answers they were looking for, and White would not look like a hypocrite. Of course the IPCC researchers have nothing to hide…  Ladies and Gentlemen, the Media IS the problem.

– Jo

PS: For what its worth, White investigated everything Legates provided and obviously found nothing of any use to Greenpeace. The material was never provided to Greenpeace, and they stopped asking. It’s almost like the UD staff were doing Greenpeace research. Just another way big-government lobbyists help big-government activists.

——————————————–
Guest essay by Jan H. Blits

[Minding the Campus]

May a public university manipulate a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request of a faculty member in an effort to squelch the politically incorrect side in the on-going climate wars?

The University of Delaware, which has a long, sorry history of political correctness, seems to think that it may—even if its actions violate the faculty member’s academic freedom, Delaware’s FOIA law, and the University’s own FOIA policy, while the University offers a bogus, incoherent, disingenuous, and arbitrary justification for its actions.

In December, 2009, David Legates, a University of Delaware professor who was the Delaware State Climatologist from 2005 to 2011, received a FOIA request from Greenpeace. Greenpeace sought Legates’ “e-mail correspondence and financial and conflict of interest disclosures” that were “in the possession of or generated by the Office of the Delaware State Climatologist” from January 1, 2000, concerning “global climate change.” Legates is an outspoken critic of the evidence used to show the human effect on climate.

Under Delaware state law, FOIA requests to the University for a faculty member’s academic materials are limited to activities supported by state funding. During Legates’ tenure, the State Climate Office received no state (or University) funding. Nor did Legates receive any state funds for his work as State Climatologist, and the State Climate Office never undertook activities concerning “global climate change.” In short, none of Legates’ work fell within the scope of the FOIA request.

UD Vice President, Lawrence White

Nevertheless, UD Vice President and General Counsel. Lawrence White, decided that Legates must provide more than Greenpeace had requested. White summarily informed Legates that he was required to submit not only all State Climate Office documents, but all documents in his possession relating to global climate change, whether or not Greenpeace had requested them. White’s expansive list, covering all of Legates’ teaching, research and service materials going back to 2000, included work unrelated to the State Climate Office, whether conducted on Legates’ own time or on University time, through his personal e-mail or his University e-mail, on his personal computer or a University computer, both in hard files and on computer disks. According to White, Legates had no choice. As a faculty member, White instructed him, Legates had to comply with the request of “a senior University official.” It seemed not to matter to White that the Delaware FOIA law limits requests to state-funded activity and UD’s own policy limits it further to research that is state-funded.

The Virginia Supreme Court recently ruled that, despite Virginia’s FOIA law, the University of Virginia was correct in refusing to comply with a FOIA request for the records and e-mails of a former faculty member, Michael Mann, famous (or infamous) for his alarmist “hockey stick” image of the recent rise in global air temperature. The Virginia law had made all UVA faculty members subject to FOIA requests. The Delaware law, in contrast, restricts requests to faculty who are state-funded and to the work they carry out with state funds. (State money accounts for only a small portion of UD’s revenue.) For many years, the University administration has designated some faculty as doing state-funded work, but kept or removed faculty members from the list if administrators believed that they were likely to receive an unwanted FOIA request. For reasons administrators have declined to explain, a small portion of Legates’ teaching salary was, curiously, placed on the list of state-funded activity shortly before Greenpeace filed its FOIA request in 2009.

A month after Greenpeace’s request to Legates, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an opponent of Greenpeace, filed a nearly identical FOIA request with UD for information on three other Delaware faculty members. These three had contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group often (and recently) warning of the catastrophic effects of global warning. White, wasting no time, “answered with a short ‘no’” (his words). “[B]ecause the information you seek does not relate to the expenditure of public funds,” he told CEI, “the University respectfully declines your request.” When asked to explain the disparate treatment, White advised Legates that he (Legates) did not understand the law. Shifting ground and muddling his own argument, White said that while the law did not require him to give Greenpeace all the documents he had requested from Legates, the law did not prohibit him from requiring Legates to produce them for White’s own review and for potential release to Greenpeace. Although having no more than the law’s silence to justify his trampling of Legates’ rights, White, once again, ordered Legates to comply. His authority as a “senior University official” evidently trumped Delaware law and University policy. Under pressure, Legates submitted all the demanded materials in March, 2010.

Under Delaware law, FOIA requests must be answered within ten days (unless there is need to consult with an agency counsel), but White did nothing with Legates’ materials for more than 15 months. In June, 2011, he hired a third-year law student to sort through them. “We have interpreted that language [of the Delaware FOIA law] to mean that we are obliged to produce records, otherwise nonprivileged, that pertain to work by Dr. Legates that is supported through grants from state agencies,” White wrote. The law-student’s trolling came up short. The resulting file contained, in its entirety, 1) two e-mail exchanges about federal, not state, funding sources, 2) an invitation from a state agency to give a talk on climate change, for which Legates was not paid, and 3) a report to the Governor and General Assembly on the Delaware Water Supply Coordinating Council, which Legates had no hand in writing and in which he is not mentioned, but which he was simply given when he joined the Council.

White had listed a second category of documents, however, which he said the University was also “obliged” to produce. “[A]nd class-room related work such as syllabi, instructional materials, and class postings, (because a small portion of his salary was paid out of state-appropriated funds).” The file of these teaching documents contained 1) materials from Legates’ introductory course on “Climatic Processes,” 2) two e-mail exchanges with two off-campus professors about climate change and the classroom, and a third about his speaking in a graduate course, 3) his 2010 CV, and 4) his Climatologist agreement and related correspondence with the Governor’s Chief of Staff. Again, contrary to White’s false claim, the University has no obligation to produce teaching materials. Its own FOIA policy excludes requests for such materials. Teaching has always enjoyed the full protection of academic freedom. Administrators may not examine it except for cause. Despite claiming that he was “obliged” to produce the materials, White, unable to square his action with official policy, state law or rules of academic freedom, tried to trivialize it as harmless: “[T]hese materials strike me as innocuous in the extreme, and I propose to turn them over all over the Greenpeace.”

That was not all. White also decided “to produce copies of speeches, papers, presentations and other materials that were created by Professor Legates and subsequently published, delivered in lecture form, or otherwise made public.” Many of these public items were gathered from the internet by the third-year law student. The files included articles by, about and quoting Legates, his U.S. Senate testimonies, an open letter signed by him, schedules and materials from various conferences and workshops in which Legates participated, presentations and posters, etc., produced by others, and more than three thousand pdf files of journal and magazine articles Legates accumulated over the years on topics ranging from climate change and climatology to statistics and numerical analysis. While conceding that the state FOIA does not require the disclosure of public materials and Greenpeace had not requested them, White said that he would “turn them over [to Greenpeace] only because it seems potentially provocative to me NOT to surrender documents that are already in the public domain” (his caps). Never at a loss for a pretext to trample faculty rights, White, having claimed that it was harmless to violate Legates’ rights, now claimed that it would be harmful NOT to violate his rights.

This is not the first time the University of Delaware has violated a faculty member’s academic freedom and tried to silence controversial research. Twenty-five years ago, the University banned receiving grants from the foundation supporting the research of a faculty member, Linda Gottfredson. In banning the funding, the University granted that for it to “direct…its attention to the content or method of any faculty member’s research or teaching” would violate the faculty member’s academic freedom. Gottfredson won at federal arbitration when she showed that the University did precisely what it stipulated it must not do (full disclosure: I was her co-plaintiff). When reminded of this precedent and the University’s own stipulation, White, reaching for still another excuse to violate Legates’ rights, said that academic freedom does not impede FOIA requests. State law trumps University policy, he said. When reminded that Legates’ materials included nothing that was subject to the Delaware FOIA law, White dismissed the objection out of hand, without answering it. As he disdainfully declared yet again, the faculty member did not adequately understand the intricacies of the law.

It would be bad enough had White properly applied the FOIA law and UD policy to Legates, but only Legates, and exempted the three politically correct faculty from the burden he levied on Legates. But, much worse, in the guise of asserting his administrative authority and his superior understanding of the law, White repeatedly misrepresented and ignored the established policy and law. Again and again, he fabricated his own policy and law, and justified his actions against Legates on specious grounds. He used his position as Vice President and General Counsel to transform faculty protections against political interference into a cudgel to silence one side in the current climate debate.


Jan H. Blits, professor in the University Honors Program at the University of Delaware, is the winner of the 2011 Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Academic Freedom Award.

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74 comments to Death by a thousand cuts: how the machinery of academia enforces conformity

  • #
    john karajas

    The great figures of the Enlightenment must be spinning in their graves.

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    Truthseeker

    Remember when universities were the hotbed of anti-establishment views and champions of personal freedoms?

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    • #
      Safetyguy66

      But this is the hijacking effect of the “left” by the “greens”.

      Malthusian rationalism is the opposite of progressive leftism, yet in the 20th and 21st century the two have mutated together in the crucible of AGW alarmism resulting in young people who see “The State” as the sole answer to all problems. They demand that The State expands its power and compels individuals to think and act in accordance with the current dogma.

      I agree with you 100% that this is almost the opposite of the kind of people turning out of higher education institutions right up until about the mid 20th century. Given that most aspirational university types have a penchant for saving the world, coming through the university system at a time when there is a dominant theory that the world is in immediate peril, its natural that university students will latch on to that cause. The difference now though is in times past, each of them would have seen themselves as the party willing and capable of either acting alone, or forming a group to act. Now though we have the bizarre situation where rather than acting alone or forming a group, they simply look to The State and demand that The State take action.

      Personal freedom may well be under greater attack today than at almost anytime through history. The State has the means to micro manage people in way never previously possible. AGW alarmists, particularly those from University backgrounds see it as their moral obligation to obliterate contrary ideas, micro manage populations using the apparatus of The State and demonise anyone who disagrees.

      A letter to the Hobart Examiner recently read something like “Democracy is not equipped to deal with the challenge of climate change when people will not change their behaviours”. So the citizenry is calling for reduced freedoms to solve an issue that revolves around the premise that money can change the weather.

      Its madness…. what else can you say?

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      • #
        Andrew Griffiths

        Just reading Rebecca West “The Meaning of Treason”,an account of Lord Haw-Haw,William Joyce and I quote:”Those who foresee the future and recognise it as tragic are often seized by a madness which forces them to commit the very acts which make it certain that what they dread shall happen.” Joyce was a member of Oswald Mosely’s British Fascists Union; Green Fascism is just a modern manifestation of the fascism of the 1920′s and 1930′s.

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      • #
        Radical Rodent

        Personal freedom may well be under greater attack today than at almost anytime through history.

        Here, here! For some reason, we are being led to believe that individual freedom is something that “The State” issues in its largess to the people. Wrong! Freedom is inherent in all our lives, and can only be removed by “The State” – and the state is depriving us of it faster than even we on these boards appreciate; always, so it would seem, for “our own good”, and the generally gullible lap it up.

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    • #
      crakar24

      yes but then they were unionised

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  • #
    Ian

    What is it that the advocates of AGW are so unsure that they consistently refuse to meet FOI requests? Like the university of Delaware which won’t accede to FOI requests for pro-AGW staff members so UQ is refusing to release details of the Consensus “paper” by Mr. John Cook. Similarly Michael Mann steadfastly refuses to provide data on his now notorious “Hockey Stick” Can’t the proponents of AGW see that by acting in such a manner leads to the suspicion that there must be something to hide? But what is this “something”? In my own field (Biochemistry/Molecular Biology) journal editors require provision of sufficient data for others to repeat experiments described in a paper. Why are data consistently concealed by climate scientists? What are they afraid of?

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  • #
    Andrew McRae

    The only journalistic angle here is that White misrepresented the rules to cajole Legates into handing over stuff he didn’t have to. There was no harmful consequence in this story.

    This is not the first time the University of Delaware has violated a faculty member’s academic freedom and tried to silence controversial research.

    There was no part in this story in which Legates’ research was silenced. If such silencing occurred it was not described in the above essay. If there was any coercion this is not spelled out.
    If you believe a demand for all his academic work and communication is a form of harm or silencing then that would conflict with your judgement about Mann (“As if hiding emails and data somehow frees up scientific discovery?”).
    Certainly the following demands were unreasonable and based on Blits’ description it had no support in law:

    included work unrelated to the State Climate Office, whether conducted on Legates’ own time or on University time, through his personal e-mail or his University e-mail, on his personal computer or a University computer

    All the rest of the article is irrelevant waffle. The above demands for personal emails written on personal time on his own PC are the only part which show an unreasonable inquisition and a probing greater than anything Mann has been asked to show. That’s the part which, depending on Mr Legates’ personality, has the potential for creating a chilling effect.

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    • #
      Skiphil

      Andrew McRae,

      Perhaps logic and consistency are not in your repertoire. Your kind rationalizes all forms of secrecy and obfuscation for the Michael Manns of the world, even pretending that publication of relevant research data or a limited sub-set of emails related to specific people and topics would somehow “chill” all of his teacher-student interactions etc.

      Then “your kind” changes the facts and rules mid-stream for Prof. Legates (a very minor player in climate-world but perceived as on the wrong “side”) — in order to scour through every word he’s ever written, no matter how private or irrelevant to FOI law, so long as it pertained in any way to “climate”…..

      So for Legate, no privacy or protections at all, regardless of whether or not he was working under public funding and legitimate FOI, and change the facts and rules as you go.

      For Mann, Jones, and company, maximal protections at every turn, including refusals at every opportunity to provide any relevant data or communications etc. unless the Climate Mullahs care to provide them. Bureaucratic SNAFUs and refusals at every turn, zero respect for FOI laws, etc. etc.

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      • #
        Andrew McRae

        Perhaps reading comprehension isn’t in your repertoire.
        You claim that in relation to Michael Mann I was “pretending that publication of relevant research data or a limited sub-set of emails related to specific people and topics would somehow “chill” all of his teacher-student interactions etc.”

        What I actually wrote was in relation to Legates:
        “The above demands for personal emails written on personal time on his own PC are the only part which show an unreasonable inquisition and a probing greater than anything Mann has been asked to show. That’s the part which, depending on Mr Legates’ personality, has the potential for creating a chilling effect.”

        Since your comprehension is poor I will explain the same meaning with different words.
        Mann was asked to show only material directly related to his academic work under a valid FOIA request, whereas Legates was asked to show private correspondence which is not covered by a FOIA.
        Legates was not required to show this, but he caved. Mann is required to show the data yet he is fighting against a valid request.

        That was the exact opposite meaning of your interpretation.

        On the matter of academic material, either all academics can have their academic correspondence checked by their host institution for improper dealings (just as every employee at every company in the world already does), or else they may not. In my earlier remark about Mann (the request for “his academic work and communication”) I was highlighting only the need to avoid a double standard on academic material.
        The host institution asking Legates or Mann for academic stuff would be fair if it settles a specific dispute or if it should have been publicly archived as part of a published paper anyway, but the personal stuff is right out of order, thus my remark that it could have created a chilling effect on Legates.

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        • #

          Andrew — the point here is the double standard. The message for all the research staff is not just that FOI will apply to skeptics but not believers, but more importantly, if you speak up as a skeptic all the parts of the Academic-machine will swing against you. The red carpet is withdrawn and you won’t get even the most basic of protection or help — where you might have expected to have the uni lawyers on your side, instead you’ll have to hire your own. This is much bigger than FOI.
          You can bet that there are many observers of this who have nothing to fear from an FOI who would nonetheless feel very reluctant to put their heads on the chopping block.
          It’s about freedom of speech.

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          • #
            Lord Jim

            This is much bigger than FOI.

            If the law was equally applied to all then the freedom of speech issues wouldn’t arise (sceptics should have the same access to lawyers as believers, be subject to the same FIO requirements, receive the same basic protections and help, etc.).

            What we are seeing is an onerous and overly technical application of the law purposed to quash dissent.

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          • #

            Just like the good ol’ Soviet Union in fact. Toe the line – or suffer the consequences. Add to that the pathologisation of dissent by kooks like Lewandowsky and you have a potent brew of authoritarian abuse.

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          • #
            Andrew McRae

            I accept I was wrong to say “There was no harmful consequence in this story” as, although I was only thinking of consequences for Legates and there’s no bad consequences for Legates in the article, you are correct to point out this incident may have wider implications than just Legates.

            As for freedom of speech, I understand that threats chill speech. Having personal communications aired destroys the sense of control we believe we have over our own lives to say particular things to particular people in a particular context and not have it recycled by others for unforeseen purposes. We’re on the same page there.

            However, more generally, academic freedom and freedom of speech are not rights to conceal wrongdoing. We don’t know if there was wrongdoing until we look at the things we’re not normally supposed to see. It’s an ethical quagmire, just like NSA spying, and perhaps it has the same solution. The power to review communications will remain, but the circumstances in which the power is exercised must be consistent and should to the greatest possible degree reflect community standards. We can agree that White went way beyond anything granted under FOIA, behaviour which was potentially intimidating, if not to Legates then to others who hear of it.
            Under our system only the police would have the power to obtain some of the information that White asked for against Legates’ wishes.

            I agree in principle there should not be double standards, and I believe I did not say anything to the contrary. I’m not sure that I have any substantial disagreement about the climate bias. Our discrepancy, if any, seems one of emphasis. You emphasise that this example is just the tip of the iceberg and that it is a “message for all the research staff”, something which we all know is true but which was not evidenced in the quoted article by Blits, which is why I didn’t mention the bigger picture. Instead I emphasised the imposition on Legate’s privacy of personal communications and documents, which was evidenced in the article. They both happened, they are compatible views.

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      • #
        Andrew McRae

        My reply is currently stuck in moderation, but I’m sure you will receive correctional services soon enough.

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        • #
          Safetyguy66

          “Correctional Services” lol thanks that was funny

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        • #
          Radical Rodent

          Andrew, I am an infrequent visitor to this site (mainly because of personal time limitations – there is only so much that can be read in a day!), so am not familiar with your history on here. However, judging by the responses from many, you are a known antagonist. Whether that is because you are a believer in AGW or just wish to play devil’s advocate, is not obvious, but your argument is a good one, though your basic premise was not (which is probably what riled so many); the “harmful consequence in this story” is that those in academia who may be sceptical will feel more pressure to conform, while those who are true believers know that they will be protected in all that they do.

          Now, keep up your contentious comments; I, for one, am not one who holds with the philosophy that if you are not for us, you’re agin us. Certainly, the responses given, while they can be unnecessarily unpleasant, are as nothing when compared with those you could get should you raise doubts on a Believer site.

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          • #
            Andrew McRae

            However, judging by the responses from many, you are a known antagonist.

            That’s plainly false, as a single glance at the prior comments will show that Skiphil is the only commentator to mistake me for a warmist sympathiser. The opinions of people who can click a red thumb but can’t be bothered typing or reading properly are unimportant.

            Whether that is because you are a believer in AGW or just wish to play devil’s advocate, is not obvious

            I, for one, am not one who holds with the philosophy that if you are not for us, you’re agin us.

            Then why did you just do exactly that? I never mentioned AGW in this thread.

            Neither you nor Skiphil have any clue about who you are talking to. You even admit it, but you made no attempt to find out before continuing his ill-conceived smear campaign.
            None of the regular commentators here would have been fooled for a second.

            That anony-mouse Skiphil can hide behind his pseudonym, putting words in my mouth, besmirching me, issuing knee-jerk responses, and everyone laps it up uncritically. Then I’m supposed to just let it all float by and not worry about it; Water off a duck’s back and all that.
            Oh? What’s that you say? It could have been worse? Heh, some consolation.

            In most matters I am not so brazen. In all matters I want to separate measurement from assumption, known trends from wishful thinking, and true from false. I am more interested in pursuing such intellectual goals than in being a team player for some supposed homogeneous climate faction. That’s why it would not surprise me in the least if people here occasionally got upset with my remarks.

            And that is also why I’m not surprised at all that not a single person who knows my opinion on CAGW could be bothered to correct Skiphil’s misinformation on my behalf.

            the “harmful consequence in this story” is that those in academia who may be sceptical will feel more pressure to conform

            Nope. That is not anywhere in the article. Look for it in the text and you won’t find it. The story is all about Legates and there is no statement from Legates to say he felt threatened or silenced. After Legates caved to pressure in March 2010, then Legates publicly disputed that carbon was a pollutant six months later, was that the action of someone who’d been silenced? When Legates published an exclusive feature in the Financial Post against Suzuki 16 months later, was that the action of someone who had been “pressured to conform”? The chilling effects of inquisitions do happen in reality, but they are not evidenced in this article, which is why I correctly said “There was no harmful consequence in this story.” Take the literal interpretation of those words and you will be correct.

            00

            • #
              michael hart

              After Legates caved to pressure in March 2010…

              That could also be interpreted as “He was intimidated by authority”.

              When Legates published an exclusive feature in the Financial Post against Suzuki 16 months later, was that the action of someone who had been “pressured to conform”?

              Well, I don’t know, Andrew. Perhaps he had collected all his courage together and decided to try to be brave in the face of intimidation.

              I appreciate your comments often on this site Andrew, but I think you could have chosen your words better in this instance.

              10

            • #
              Radical Rodent

              Sorry. Consider me corrected.

              00

    • #
      vic g gallus

      The above demands for personal emails written on personal time on his own PC are the only part which show an unreasonable inquisition and a probing greater than anything Mann has been asked to show. That’s the part which, depending on Mr Legates’ personality, has the potential for creating a chilling effect.

      Its silencing because nobody is perfect. Looks like Legates was not having an affair or looking at porn. There are also ideas that can be pinched, mistakes that are made by everyone and even things that could embarrass someone else.

      The rest of the “irrelevant waffle” is about laws being policed. Laws need to be applied without bias if they are not to become complete jokes.

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      Lord Jim

      Andrew McRae: There was no harmful consequence in this story.

      The issue is really one of equality before the law: why are sceptics subject to more onerous FOI obligations than believers?

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      • #
        Andrew McRae

        Agreed, there seems to be cases of institutionalised bias against climate sceptics in governmental and educational departments and I have never said or implied anything to the contrary.

        I now wait for someone to misinterpret the above sentence.

        While I’m waiting, we might also wonder why climate scientists of a skeptical disposition have a much tougher time getting their work published in journals than the warming cheerleaders do. Examples that spring to mind are Lindzen and Choi 2011, Spencer and Brasswell 2010, Vincent Courtillot¹, and the bias by NSF,NASA,NRC. That’s a double standard which has had a cascade of bad consequences, such as a skewed consensus in the peer-reviewed literature, a misinformed public, ill-conceived legislation, and ultimately unnecessary costs on the people of the world in foregone opportunities.

        _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
        1 – Vincent who? I hadn’t heard of Vincent Courtillot until this week when I saw his recorded presentation to EIKE in 2010. His whole talk is rapid pace and interesting, but the section most relevant to this topic is the 2 minutes after the 3:07 mark.

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        • #
          GreggB

          Andrew,

          A point that I’d ask you to bear in mind is that often, the process is the punishment.

          I have worked in the FoI field in a government education institution, and complying with a request for documents such as the one received by Legates could well have taken many dozens of hours. It would have had to have been done in addition to normal workload, and with statutory deadlines in place (although they seem to have been disregarded by the university in this case). I often saw FoI applications, in the context of an ongoing feud, that seemed to have no useful purpose beyond burying the target under the weight of bureaucracy.

          Legates was in part instructed to produce all “syllabi, instructional materials, and class postings” which would have been central to his teaching work. I’m sure you can you imagine how long it would take to gather together and photocopy every file, note, letter and email that you’ve created in your employment over the last few years. Depending on the technology with which the UD FoI team is working, he may well have had to open and print each email individually so that the FoI crew could have a hard copy of each page to assess (which is what I had to do until about five years ago).

          Now imagine you’ve been told, “Yes, I know I don’t actually have to make you do this, but I’m going to force you to do it anyway. And see those guys over there, with a better case to answer under Delaware FoI law – I’m letting them off the hook completely”. Frankly, it’s hard to see this as anything other than punitive.

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            Lord Jim

            the process is the punishment.

            I find this a curious aspect of FOI: under the general law, subpoenas or orders for discovery can be struck out if they are too onerous or oppressive or if they are fishing expeditions – I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a similar defense to be used in responding to FOI claim (if not in statute, at common law).

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            • #
              GreggB

              Many jurisdictions impose ‘per document assessed’ costs on applications, which can be a limiting factor, or at least used to encourage the applicant to refine the scope of their application (“It’ll cost you less if you just ask for documents from this year, rather than going back ad infinitum”).

              There can be “unreasonable hardship” limitations included in the statute, but they’re mostly about assessing the application; you’ve usually had to gather all the documents in just so that you have the evidence to make out that limitation. I’ve had applications that needed a wheeled flatbed trolley to move. The therapy is continuing…

              In this particular case, nothing would have changed from Legates’ perspective.

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            Andrew McRae

            GreggB,

            I accept the merit of the practical experience you have in this area.

            My argument basically was that either every academic can have their unpublished work scrutinised, by FOIA or by scientific convention, or else none of them must. It was about avoiding double standards.
            Your statement goes above my argument and is compatible with it, as you are saying that what was done to Legates, even the strictly work-related portion of it, should not have been done to anyone. It was a vexatious claim, basically.

            That all seems true.

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              GreggB

              Andrew,

              You raise two separate points in favour of disclosure – FoIA, and scientific convention.

              In relation to FoI, it needs to be remembered that FoI is a construct developed to increase the accountability of the State. I’m not aware of any jurisdiction that imposes FoI legislation on the private sector, except to the extent that they’re doing business with the government.

              I get the impression (and others may be able to correct me) that UD blurs the lines between public and private ownership. Certainly, the application of the FoI statute only to those projects in receipt of State funds implies that there are many projects that are privately funded. If a given project is in fact entirely privately funded, then should be the end of it.

              If, however, someone wishes to publish and be treated seriously from a scientific standpoint, then of course all data, codes, conflicting results etc. should be out there, regardless of the source of the funding. If you’re not prepared to do that, your paper may be interesting, but it’s not science.

              But, and it’s a big ‘but’, this disclosure shouldn’t have to extend to hours of trawling to find your CV from four years ago, all of your class notes or email exchanges with off-campus professors. If told to do this, while others are excused, you’d have to wonder why.

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          Ian

          In an earlier post I asked why is it that the pro-AGW fraternity are loath to release their data and why are sceptics given the run-around when the AGW scientists are not. Your asking why sceptics get a tougher time getting stuff onto journals is all part of the same scenario. In most areas of life the adage is “follow the money”. This wasn’t the case in science until the advent of Climate Science and it’s acolytes such as Al Gore. Now of course the politicians are involved and see a way of garnering cash. As universities and many big scientific research organisations are funded by government, those employed by these institutions know where their bread is buttered and are acutely aware that deviation from the line the politicians want to pursue is courting disaster. Universities have to make examples of sceptics because if not funding will be jeopardised. Similarly journals rely for their income on readership and do not wish to get blackballed by the political lackeys as it will damage their circulation and hence their income. The whole thing is a huge politically driven wheel that is aimed at scaring the public s***less so that the politicians can tax everyone to buggery in the name of saving the planet. Sceptics who might upset this appalling applecart are very much feared in case the public start to question the actions of politicians with regard to climate change.

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    Safetyguy66

    OT but related to this whole notion of hypothesis being regarded as instant fact and when AGW is attached to it no questions are asked and none are tolerated.

    For months now alarmists have been kicking the Giant Cuttlefish can. Numbers have been well down in the last couple of years, particularly in known gathering and breeding areas. Of course CO2 is to blame, it put on a wetsuit and promptly swam about the ocean murdering cuttlefish. As recently as last week, theories abounded but one thing was clear AGW kills cuttlefish and koalas could be next.

    http://guardianlv.com/2014/05/australia-and-its-unique-species-will-be-affected-by-climate-change/

    Except for one small detail. The cuttlefish are back and even people who have been following the species for years are surprised by the numbers. Once again alarmists demonstrate their appalling lack of knowledge of the nuances of nature and utter lack of care for facts, truth or even balance of probability. All they do is just assume that if you point every finger at man made CO2, eventually you have to be right about something. Well in true style, they aren’t right very often when observational evidence is the benchmark, but in this instance they were wrong.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-20/welcome-back-giant-cuttlefish/5464518 (how upset do you think the ABC was at having to report something positive, it must have burned the green group-thinkers pretty badly, notice no mention of climate change when something is going right)

    On the bright side, one person at least has learned a valuable lesson.

    “Dive tour operator Tony Bramley says that even after decades of working with the animals, they’re still largely unknown.

    He says he’s glad they’re back.

    “Well, really I’m just going to stop predicting anything, because I can’t explain why those numbers are better this year”

    If only Flannery, Cook, Milne and Co could accept for just a second that they may not in fact be omniscient, but I guess now its me being unrealistic.

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      Popeye

      SG66

      Of course, Courtney Heitter is an environmental activist and vegetarian. Who’d have thunk?

      See here and here

      She is into EVERYTHING.

      I tried to post a response to her article in the link you gave but it didn’t get up (not yet anyway) but someone has posted a link about the return of the monster cuttlefish in SA. Epic fail on her behalf.

      Cheers,

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    Leigh

    It keeps coming back to that ever asked question but never answered.
    What have they(the alarmists) got to hide?

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      Heywood

      “What have they(the alarmists) got to hide?”

      The decline? ;)

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        crakar24

        Heywood,

        Or perhaps “the divergence”?

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          the Griss

          If the temp does what any real scientist thinks it will,

          that divergences is gunna get BIGGER and BIGGER.

          models go UP, temps go DOWN !!…

          And my popcorn supply probably won’t last too long. :-)

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            the Griss

            If you look at the divergence so far and then tilt the REAL temperatures down a bit for the future

            NO WONDER THEY ARE PANICKING !!!! :-) :-)

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      James Bradley

      Obviously alarmists have a whole lot to hide otherwise they would not use resources so vast that they shut down the debate worldwide in education, media, finance and government.

      That’s more resources than big oil,big gas and big coal combined and more than sceptic blog sites could even dream.

      But ever the truth will out evidenced by increasing readership and support of sites questioning ‘the science’ and the ever decreasing interest and growing desperation of alarmists sites.

      I mean, why else would they abandon their own sites to post here unless it was the only way that they could get someone – anyone – to read their rantings.

      They are more to be pitied than put shit on…

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    Ursus Augustus

    I think this case is the very exemplar of just what AGW alarmism really is. It is like the vilification of Jews or “Blacks”, like the vilification of “Western Education”, it is like the vilification of social classes as a wedge to divide a community and then be in a position to shepherd those who lean your way into granting you defacto power, back door power, corrupt and unaccountable power.

    It is a scientific putsch.

    Steve McKintyres recent post showing John Cook in a Gestapo/SS uniform is precision commentary, the epitome of a picture being worth a thousand words.

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      Yonniestone

      It’s that subtle twisted use of power that multiplies from pettiness to tyranny isn’t it?

      Everyone has the same rights in a democracy but when some have more rights than others it becomes a dictatorship.

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    Truthseeker

    The opposite of diversity is university!

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    Peter Miller

    No one should be surprised by any of this.

    The Establishment in most western countries supports climate alarmism, presumably because the policies required to ‘solve’ a non-problem will help entrench and further secure its position in society.

    For those of you who have had the experience of going up against the Establishment, as I have, you will find there are a totally different set of rules. First of all, you need very deep pockets and a great deal of persistence to succeed.

    The concepts of right or wrong have absolutely no place in a dispute with the Establishment – it is just as the Borg say, “Resistance is futile.”

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      James Bradley

      You sure nailed that Peter, and I would add patience to the requirements.

      The establishment never plays by its own rules, but the only way for us little people to ever have a win is to use its rules against it.

      You just need to know which fight is worth the heartache.

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      Steve

      Yes but the Establishment can’t win if you target students with the scientific truth.

      I have found patiently and confidently telling people the truth, it eventually sinks in.

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    AndyG55

    Hey, how’s about you guys ease off on hammering at Universities.

    Its not all of them, and I know for a FACT that many university scientists and engineers DO NOT go along with the AGW hypothesis.

    They can see that its not scientifically supportable, but without specfic funding, they cannot produce the papers that would contradict the falsehoods promilgated by the AGW bletheren.

    Why the heck the know-nothing social sciences think they should get involved is beyond me, unless its a purely political exercise.. And why they get funding to do so is really almost criminal !!

    I had a chat with a Dr. in SS the other day.. He knew absolutely nothing about climate change, so I laid out the reality for him, but even the reality couldn’t sway him.

    Its a cult, a religion, a belief system. Nothing more.

    So please don’t include all scientists and engineers as being with the AGW agenda.

    Sure, there are some (usually well paid from the trough), but in general they have other work to do which may (or may not) be more important than providing evidence that falsifies the AGW agenda.

    At uni, you do what you can get paid to do, just like any other job. (or for the top-brass, what you can get grants for). There is not much time to do other research to put up a decent case against the AGW hoax.

    And the money for ANTI-AGW stuff just isn’t there.

    Its a vicious cycle that will be hard to break while the far left uni beaurocrats hold the keys to the till.

    ps, I promise I will not allow myself to turn to the AGW dark side with the work I am currently doing. ;-)

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      Glen Michel

      Academics at this rural NSW university are being fast-tracked into this nonsense;shortfall in the humanities so off we go! It suits to a tee when you have left leaning underemployed lecturers now finding a relevancy .wonderful.Green/socialist alliance infests our once pluralist institutions.They see no point in inquiry and exhibit no flexibility of intellect.

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      Ursus Augustus

      My assessment is that climate “science” is actually a social “science” not science or engineering. The AGW commissars now lord it over the institutions and corral the potential naysayers or those who might publish their observations about the imperial clothing. The realists are still there but even with notionally secure tenure the modern apparatchik kleptocrat is not kept at bay for long. The holder of a Cert IV in Scientific Funding Application Management will have the power of career life and death over the Science Professor.

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      Tim

      Weeding out the naysayers is probably going to be impossible now. It’s looking like they’re in trouble and this tactic smacks of desperation.

      “McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence.” It also means “the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism.”

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    Glen Michel

    Arrrgh ! I detest authoritarianism! We must keep the rearguard intact! Cheers.

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    Richo

    Perhaps a FOIA request should be sent to Lawrence White asking for all his records associated with communications with Watermelon Peace. A bit of GST is in order.

    I presume that Watermelon Peace was not able to find any dirt on David Legates and the FOIA request was mainly about harassing David because he is a skeptic.

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    Heywood

    Apologies for the O/T post.

    Climate change is now responsible for… Guess what??

    Volcanic Eruptions!

    Truly beyond parody

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      Popeye

      Heywood,

      The mystery is solved at the very end of the article:

      “However, the ability of Australian scientists to conduct the work remains unclear in the wake of last week’s federal budget.
      While UTAS, CSIRO and Antarctic Division received $24 million more over coming years for Antarctic research, the Australian Research Council and other parts of CSIRO lost funding, Professor King said.
      The extra funding should be used for new science, not plugging the gaps caused by other cuts, he said.”

      Oh, that’s right – it’s about the money!!

      Why doesn’t Tony give them MORE?

      Talk about THEIR hands in OUR wallets.

      Cheers,

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        Heywood

        I think you might be onto something there Popeye.

        Funding decreases therefore new scares are discovered.

        Can we conclude that the number of things scientists say are caused by climate change are inversely proportional to the funding they receive?

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          Peter Miller

          You ask a very good question. It really is difficult to tell as the troughs of money available to fund any old crap, as long as the obligatory words “Climate Change” are included, are truly gigantic.

          I understand that many research topics instigated by sceptics will never receive funding, but has there ever been a case of climate change funding, no matter how obscure, ever being turned down.

          If you glance through John Cook’s list of papers, which were used to make his bogus 97% concensus claim, the answer has to be No.

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            crakar24

            Actually it is a very good point, look at medical research, no point investing time and money into researching a cure for a head ache but cancer or HIV etc well “there is money in them there hills”.

            Same goes for agw research but then the fad fades and a new scary ELE pops up like meteors or some such and the gravy train leaves the station once again.

            Its all about the money, its always about money.

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      James Bradley

      I sent an e-mail to Tim Flannery when the Climate Council first kicked off to see if I would get a bite – it was along the lines of:

      “I am concerned that the increase in global temperatures will result in expansion of the Earth’s crust thereby causing more earthquakes and volcanic activity.”

      I never got a reply, maybe he plagiarised my theory, the scoundrel, and perhaps its got a run after all from within the inner sanctum of the AGW Propaganda Dept.

      I suppose I could feel a bit chuffed if it was a result of my e-mail, probably wasn’t, they seem desperate to find something to cling on to though – even if it’s only continental drift.

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        John Of Cloverdale WA

        James, you idiot! You could have applied for a large grant for that scenario. A missed opportunity.

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      vic g gallus

      Another positive feedback?

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        James Bradley

        I wonder how they are spending my grant?

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        crakar24

        no its a negative feed back, agw creates warming which triggers volcanic eruptions which dims the sun……………..seriously though a quiet sun will cause more but as usual it will be blamed on the omnipotent force of a trace gas

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      crakar24

      Ah yes heywood i see how it works, we show everyone a dodgy statement from an equally dodgy scientist but we ignore the facts

      http://dailycaller.com/2014/05/12/global-cooling-antarctic-sea-ice-coverage-continues-to-break-records/#ixzz32Cdu0KsE

      And yes to all the warmbots out there the propaganda is talking about land ice and the record breaking ice is from the sea however your job is to explain exactly how the omnipotent force of a trace gas can cause warming and cooling in the exact same geographical area.

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    tom0mason

    Jan H. Blits and Jo it is appalling what these University eletists and apparatchiks will do but it is not surprising.
    After all, he who pays the piper (big green controled government) calls the tune.

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    the Griss

    I have to say I am totally puzzled by the warmist approach..

    They SAY they don’t want warming…..

    …. but they PRAY that it will actually happen some time soon.

    They are not “right-minded” :-)

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      the Griss

      And they try quite strenuously to prove that warming is happening when it quite obviously ISN’T.

      BIZARRE, I tells ya, quite bizarre. !!

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    Interesting post Jo, because of the turn around. IMO there are many ways to ‘mark your man’ and this story is about how the smart guys in Unis have been quick to turn FOI around to their purposes. That’s what you get if you don’t kiss the ring of global warming. You have to admire Schollenberger – “sue me” – to UQ – but also as a public servant everything is available to FOI. Really because Legates worked at a public institution they could get him.

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    Renato Alessio

    Reading this story reminds me of many similar occurrences that I came across when working in the Public Service. From this remote distance, it looks to me like Prof. Legates wasn’t savvy in the intricacies of fighting administrative warfare in the face of administrative assault (which many people aren’t) nor did he have any friends savvy enough to advise him on how to do it. Those launching the assault have a 98% chance of winning because their victims don’t know how to fight back, and are usually unaware of which rules have been bent or violated in the action against them.

    I find it impossible to believe that the University doesn’t have a Review of Action or Grievance type procedure for raising violation of University policy and procedures, coupled with a requirement for office bearers to act in accordance with the principles of Equity. And think it highly unlikely that he couldn’t have invoked them against the Vice President. The idea is that you go on the offensive and lodge volumes of complaints, and that every non-conformance you detect (e.g. the Vice President getting the documents and sitting on them for a year) is cause for even more formal grievances being lodged.

    If the Vice President claims that he has powers to force a staff member to do more than what the Law requires in his role as an employer, he has to apply those powers equitably e.g. he might decide to introduce drug testing for staff, but he can’t just apply it to say Prof. Legates. Otherwise, he would be open to being challenged for Abuse of Power (Use of a Power for a purpose other than for which it was conferred).

    As described in the article, presumably Vice President White could have required Prof Legates to provide literally anything. Which wouldn’t be upheld anywhere.
    Regards.

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    Rathnakumar

    One of my favorite climate skeptic videos, featuring Willie Soon and David Legates:
    Unstoppable Solar Cycles: The Real Story of Greenland

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    Roy Hogue

    Ruthless defense of orthodoxy should be no surprise. We’ve seen it before.

    One would hope that a university would be honest about all things. But there’s too much evidence right here in California that both the state university systems (we have two, believe it or not) are full of bias. And we’ve seen some of that too.

    The question we face is how to solve that problem. And I have no idea. People are going to be what they are.

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    Skiphil

    OT: Jo (and others) — I think the material below is very important for showing how activist scientists shaped the whole process leading into the UNFCC and IPCC right from the first months.
    (feel free to delete ofc, I could not see a current thread for this info)

    This is mot sone secretive “conspiracy” view, this is a hijacking of the whole process by activists, right out in the open. ,They didn’t feel any need to hid it because (1) they were/are proud of it all, and (2) they felt so confident in media support and “Noble Cause Corruption” that they knew they did not need to obscure what they were doing.

    This is some fascinating and important material I am finding on early activist propaganda, even before Hansen’s notorious 1988 debacle at the US Senate committee hearing…. cross posted with Judith’s place if I may:

    This is about how biased general climate assessments have been from the start, long before the NCAs (but providing a template for 27 years of climate science activism posing as neutral science). This is info on the 1987 workshops and summary document which spurred the whole process leading into UNFCCC, IPCC, and now entities like the NCAs.

    Speaking of scientific ACTIVISTS: Biased at birth??

    This crucial 1987 process which led toward the UNFCCC and the IPCC had as its three core sponsors three groups which have included the following activist scientists:

    (1) Michael Oppenheimer – EDF
    (2) John Holdren, WHRC
    (3) Paul Ehrlich and Jane Lubchenko, Beijer Inst.
    (current affiliations, don’t know yet who might have been involved in 1987)

    Far from any attempt at an objective, unbiased representation of scientists, this process was advocacy and activism at its core. Right from Day One!! No wonder they were providing a range of temp. increases estimated at 0.3C to 0.8C per DECADE without drastic action (in the document linked below).

    (1) “Interesting” that the Environmental Defense Fund was one of the 3 core groups listed as initiating the whole process in 1987!

    (2) Along with the “Woods Hole Research Center” (this is John Holdren’s activist group and NOT the famed Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Holdren merely glommed onto the reputation of WHOI with his activist group’s name…. resulting in lots of confusion through the years)

    (3) The 3rd of the initiating groups may be more more scientifically respectable, perhaps, (the Beijer Institute affiliated with the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences — although still activist in orientation) — it lists Paul Ehrlich and Jane Lubchenko among its “Fellows” who seem to have very long term affiliations with the Beijer…. although I don’t see what the make-up was in the late ’80s.

    http://www.princeton.edu/step/people/faculty/michael-oppenheimer/Villach-Bellagio-WMO-report.pdf

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    Skiphil

    note: “current” affiliations refers only to (3) for the Beijer Inst.

    Holdren is now in the White House advising Pres. Obama, and Oppenheimer is now at Princeton U., although he maintains some advisory role with EDF

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    When I saw the name Lawrence White, I did a double take. Lawrence H White wrote an excellent book “Free Banking in Britain: Theory, Experience and Debate, 1800-1845″, which first came out in the 1980s. Would have been a complete about-face by the author. A could comparison between the Scottish (free) banking system and the English one, that was regulated to give power to the Bank of England. You can download from the IEA here.

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    The first, of an excellent series of articles, that I hope many will find relevant to this thread.
    http://scottishsceptic.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/the-citizen-scientist/
    The citizen scientist
    Posted on December 19, 2013 by Scottish Sceptic
    Excerpt –
    “But the analogy between Galileo and the catholic church and modern academia is closer than we think. Originally many Universities were set up as religious institutions in order to support the arguments to enforce orthodoxy in the catholic church. We find this religious origin in words such as dean (from Late Latin decanus “head of a group of 10 monks in a monastery”), rector and doctor (“Church father,” from Medieval Latin doctor “religious teacher, adviser, scholar,”). We also see this in the dual meaning of “Professor” as also one who professes a religion, and “lecturer” which is also a junior member of the clergy in the Church of England.

    So, supporting the orthodoxy and “repressing heretics” from outside has always been part of the culture of academia. In light of this history, it should not be surprising that science, particularly British Science, and particularly those “upper-class” echelons like the Royal Society, have a culture of being hostile to anything that is “not invented here”.”

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