[UPDATE: The preliminary steps of removing Peter Gleick from positions of authority and respect have begun: he’s ‘resigned’ from his position with the National Center for Science Education, and his scientific ethics task force chairmanship(!) for the American Geophysical Union. One wonders whether groups like the MacArthur Fellows Program and NAS will insist that Gleick cut all ties from them, as well. Nobody’s really expecting the Pacific Institute to join in, of course: it’s a well-known reliable quote machine for the American Left.]
OK, quick background: last week there was a bit of fuss when a variety of documents appeared that purported to show that there was some sort of nefarious global warming ‘denialist’ (that’s what a Lefty calls somebody who has noticed that, hey, the temperature’s not actually rising the way that people told us it would) conspiracy centered around the Heartland Institute. The Heartland Institute was not amused by this, and has been making it clear that at least one document was a pathetic forgery. This latter point has generally been conceded by all the players, if tacitly, and the great walkback is beginning. I recommend Watts Up With That for those looking to monitor further developments: that site has been all over this story.
But let’s go back to what got revealed, for a moment. The documents can be grouped into two categories: a variety of materials that global warming advocate (and lecturer on ethics*) Peter Gleick admitted stealing from Heartland**; and the aforementioned pathetically faked document. Since we now know that not even Gleick is standing by the provenance of said document, let us ignore it completely. What it says is irrelevant. It has no bearing. I did not even read it before my summary below of the documents that Gleick stole, solely to keep it from contaminating my assessment.So, what’s in those documents?
- Fundraising plan – confidential budget and fundraising information that has nothing to do with Heartland’s positions on climate change policy (thus, not germane). Also, this was a general fundraising plan, not one specifically concentrating on climate change.
- 2012 Budget -…Umm, it’s their general budget. No line items for Sooper Sekret Globeal Wharming Projekt here. Just salary/line item information that’s nobody’s business except Heartland’s.
- January 17, 2012 Director’s Agenda – They read a bunch of reports at that one. Which happens at every meeting, everywhere, and will continue to do so until the end of time, amen.
- Notice of January 17, 2012 – I assume that it’s here to get more phone numbers into the internet stream.
- IRS Tax forms – Man, I hope that whoever is hosting these documents has a good lawyer.
- October 18, 2011 Director’s meeting – See the entry for the January 17, 2012 Director’s agenda.
- Board of Directors contact list – Hey, let’s make sure that Heartland staffers get a lot of personalized hate mail/stalkers/harassment! Smooth move there, Peter Gleick.
…In other words? Nothing. No conspiracies, no nefarious plans, nothing really of particular interest to outsiders – except, of course, for contact information for Heartland’s top staff, which is provided in handy-dandy format for the Left’s near-psychopaths to use to try to make a bunch of climate “denialists'” lives miserable. Which is really the point to this sort of thing; it’s not actually about the climate, and it’s not even really about the politics. It’s about shutting people up.
What makes it even more annoying, of course, is that the people that want to do the shutting up in this case aren’t, well, very bright. Megan McArdle took this memo apart, and effectively concluded that it was written after the fact by somebody who was under the mistaken belief that they could successfully reproduce the tone of global warming skeptics and conservative/libertarian activists. Speaking in a semi-professional manner; no, most people can’t. The ability to successfully imitate people that you despise – truly imitate them, and not just lampoon them – is exceptionally difficult, because in order to think like somebody you have to empathize with them. The problem there is that it’s hard to be empathic toward somebody whom you hate.
Well. That’s the generic problem. The specific problem for wayward ethicist Peter Gleick – not to mention the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences, given that Gleick’s unethical behavior directly reflects on both groups – is that he’s claiming that he got the original document before he stole the other ones. Which should be easy to check; he kept the email, right? And it’s on a server that can be checked, right? – And, given that Gleick is so cavalier with other people’s property rights, surely he’ll make it very easy for investigators to see whether or not he’s guilty of libel, as well as identity and intellectual property theft…
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*You know. Ethics. It’s the meta-concept under which we categorize thoughts and precepts like, oh, Thou shalt not steal.
**I quote Gleick: “…I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name.” The organization would have apparently not provided that information to this particular… researcher… voluntarily; and, given what Gleick did with that information once he illicitly acquired it, you can hardly blame Heartland.