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

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Nerdghazi Update

L Smith R-TX-21's try to rerun "Climategate" (wilfully misinterpreted science email) scandal fails

There's, equivocal but on the whole good news on the Nerdghazi front.

By Nerdghazi, I mean the latest politics-dressed-as-science from the denier world perpetrated by Lamar Smith. (Thanks to CelloMom for the memorable name, which refers to false scandals in general. I hope it catches on, and eventually we will have a long overdue Ghazi-Ghazi; the mileage Republicans get out of fake scandals is the real scandal.)

There are two pieces of somewhat equivocal good news on this front.

First: after a united and vehement response from the entire American scientific community spearheaded by the AAAS, Lamar Smith's House Science Committee has backed down from demanding scientists' email on the grounds of a trumped up fantasy of a scandal regarding small corrections in data.

Second: the mainstream press is finally taking notice.

The bad news that goes with the good news - First, Smith's backdown is grudging and doesn't really concede the matters of principle involved.

"This week, after eight scientific groups argued that demanding NOAA researchers’ emails could discourage other government scientists from studying anything politically controversial, Mr. Smith told NOAA he would first seek the communications of the agency’s nonscientific staff. He did not, however, rule out the possibility of requesting scientists’ emails in the future."

Second, the press took no serious notice until AFTER the AAAS response.

Still, it's reassuring that the scientific community acting together still has enough influence to restrain the most egregious examples of science-scapegoating.


Susan Anderson said...

I'm not thrilled that he will still go after the "nonscientific staff". They're more easily bullied and more likely to have something personal to condemn.

Michael Tobis said...

I think administrators don't use email informally,

People forget that email was invented by scientists for informal back channel communication, not by bureaucrats for official correspondence. Breaking this would be a big deal.

Susan Anderson said...

This is just appearing on the tom toms:

Includes said nonscientific staff.