It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Grypo Saurus on Publicizing Scientists' Conversations

This is a comment subsequent to my notorious F-word posting in response to Steve Mosher suggesting he's "on my side", which I reread and which despite its notoriety I stand by. And it's germane regarding the Lamar Smith inquisition, but I like Grypo Saurus' version better than my own.

Hoisted from comments, April 2011:
There seems to be some bizarre lack of understanding within the obstructionist movement that anything a scientists says or does or emails or anything that can be recorded is a matter of public record, whether the scientist is aware of this or not. This is because we as taxpayers pay this person, therefore, their thoughts are ours for the taking.

I'm unsure what the logic is here, but this is an ideological conundrum, seeing as how many obstructionists argue against action due to a rigid belief in personal liberty. A belief even the non-ideological hold dear. This personal liberty is important to them and most others for reasons that should be obvious, but in this instance, it does not seem to be. Why?

As we've seen from recent attempts from right-wing groups and politicians, the academic establishment is fighting hard against these attempts to provide the public the open access to other's private communications. Academia has taken a stance that it cannot effectively find the truth while under the type of scrutiny that people Mosher advocate and take advantage of when presented to them.

So how does this work itself out logically? Do these people reject that notion that academics take? It's not like we record phone calls, or tape conversations at conventions, or other such things. right? If that were the case there may be better context to fill in the blanks, blanks that so easily allow to be filled with subjective narratives that in no way can be matched up for reality, and in no way gives the person access to the mind. So what is the final goal behind wanting this access to scientist’s emails? For what reason?

The open access types say it is to promote trust. But is that promoted?

Climategate showed us that didn't happen. In fact, the entire reason that Climategate looks so bad is that scientists didn't trust. I wonder if scientists had access to Mosher's and McIntyre's emails, would they trust them more or less? I took a look at my own emails and realized that certain readers would no longer trust me. Any Exchange tech will tell you the same about anyone.

I think we need to look at more closely the logic behind open access, what the goals are, and whether or not the extreme views of Mosher are at all necessary to the results. Especially if personal liberty and the future academia and science itself are at stake. 
Emphasis added.


Tom said...

To borrow a phrase from ATTP, 'I'm struggling to understand' any connection between public bodies chasing after communications between scientists, which both Mosher and I oppose, and utilizing such emails after they become part of the public record, which both Mosher and I did. Perhaps you can be more precise about the nature of our sin.

Rob Ryan said...

It's pretty early in the conversation to acquiesce to Godwin, but Tom brings up a fair question, irrespective of whether you agree with his and Mosher's interpretation and use of those emails. To wit, we universally abhor and are repulsed by Mengele's experimentation on living people and we universally and energetically reject and decry any consideration of filling in the Nazi's gaps, but what is the morality of inference from the results, regardless of the heinous crimes committed to obtain them? Please understand that this is in no way meant to compare what the Nazis did to what the scientists did but rather is meant to solicit opinion on what should and should not be done with ill-gotten information. Once the information is in the wild though through nefarious means, is it to be ignored?

I'll certainly stipulate that Smith and his ilk are behaving despicably and with utter disregard for facts and truth, both with respect to their interpretation of the facts that they cite and with respect to their motivations. In fact, especially with respect to their motivations.

Kevin O'Neill said...
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Tom said...
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Tom said...

There is the concept of fruit from the tainted tree, but that's for the courtroom. we cheerfully used Nazism science for our space program, though not their biological experiments. Government made one decision, science the other.

I used information someone intentionally released. I have good reason to believe it was an inside job. If my email is ever hacked and released you will know why. I would regret that, buy I wouldn't be the one harmed.

Seems like a case by case, horses for courses dilemma. I'm not sorry for what I did. I'm actually modestly proud of it. Maybe Mark Stern will show us all why, if his discovery requests are ever answered by Mann.

Michael Tobis said...

I'm not interested in ad hominem attacks on Al Gore or Mike Mann. In my opinion both are admirable men, the likes of whom we need more of, (though in both cases I have disagreed with them on occasion).

Proxy ad hominem attacks on either of those gentlemen are of no more interest to me than ad hominem attacks on other commenters.

I am very very very not interested in rehashing the CRU teapot tempest.

Moderation is back on.

As a rule of thumb "climateball player X is a bad person" is not a topic for discussion here, whether or not X is a participant here. It's not really that complicated. I welcome your opinions on the nature of our collective circumstances and how we should proceed. But I'd rather have no conversation at all than add to the noise.

Rob Ryan said...

"I am very very very not interested in rehashing the CRU teapot tempest." Well and good and understood (I'm a poet and don't know it) but, given that the quote you are using came from a discussion centered around that matter, Grypo Saurus' comment was in relation to Fuller's and Mosher's screed regarding that matter, and the Fuller is a frequent participant here, it can't be surprising that it's insinuated itself into the comments to this post.

And I have no interest in it either .... other than to say.... your and my opinions on it are not in strict alignment.

And finally, as I stated in another post, I consider every blog post I make, every blog comment I post, every Tweet that I Tweet, every Facebook timeline posting that I make, every comment on anyone else's Facebook timeline that I make, and every email to anyone anywhere at any time from any account in light of "what will plaintiff's counsel, US Attorney, States Attorney, etc. make of this?" Sad but true. I still am relatively non-self-censoring via sms but am strongly considering revamping that policy as well and, having so stated here, probably will have to do so. It certainly interferes with my ability to engage in a free interchange of ideas, my ability to express my true feelings, and my ability to do business (even though we operate with integrity). So, in a sense, I feel Karl's, et al's pain but I still do business.

I have to compartmentalize my philosophy regarding the way things should be from my operating in the system as it exists. It was likely ever so. None of this is to justify the despicable Smith, just to make that clear.