A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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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 [...]

FOIA, Government-Funded Climate Science and Hole-Digging

Here’s  a benefit FOIA probably didn’t imagine. Skeptical networks. For anyone who doesn’t know, Jennifer Marohasy has published one of the longest-running skeptical blogs in the world, and she’s one of the few other women on the front lines. I don’t know why we hadn’t spent a long time on the phone before. I’m delighted that we are in much better contact…

– Jo


Guest Post By Jennifer Marohasy

FOIA is a recognised shorthand for Freedom of Information Act.  Legislation by this name has existed in the USA since 1966, Australia since 1982 and the UK legislation was introduced in 2000.  It was climate scientists at the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, conspiring to evade the UK FOIA that probably inspired Climategate, with Mr FOIA, as the “hacker” calls himself, releasing over 220,000 documents and emails beginning in November 2009.  In a recent email he explained: “The circus was about to arrive in Copenhagen.  Later on it could be too late.”

By providing public access to emails and documents from leading climate scientists, Mr FOIA exposed how tricks, adjustments, and corrections, were routinely applied to climate data to [...]