Bloggers’ Hall of Amnesia

The publication of my paper on conspiracist ideation was met with several nearly-instant accusations. First out of the gate was the claim that I did not contact 5 “skeptic” or “skeptic-leaning” blogs to link to the survey.

I initially did not release those names because I was concerned about the privacy issues involved, as I explained here. Because a release of names cannot be undone—whereas a delayed release harms no one—I decided to seek guidance from various institutions, foremost among them my own university, before deciding whether or not to release those names.

Shortly thereafter, the first of the 5 bloggers, Mr McIntyre, found his misplaced email.

This leaves us with 4 bloggers whose identity had to remain confidential until now.

I am pleased to report that I received advice from executives of the University of Western Australia earlier today, that no legal or privacy issues or matters of research ethics prevent publication of the names of those bloggers.

So here they are:

  • Dr Roger Pielke Jr (he replied to the initial contact)
  • Mr Marc Morano (of Climatedepot; he replied to the initial contact)
  • Dr Roy Spencer (no reply)
  • Mr Robert Ferguson (of the Science and Public Policy Institute, no reply)

It will be noted that all 4 have publically stated during the last few days/weeks that they were not contacted.

At this juncture one might consider a few intriguing questions:

1. When will an apology be forthcoming for the accusations launched against me? And how many individuals should now be issuing a public apology?

To explore the magnitude of this question we must take stock of public statements that have been made about my research. For example, one blogger considered it “highly suspect” whether I had contacted any “skeptic” sites.

Mr McIntyre expended time to locate and then publicize the name of the person within my university to whom complaints about my research should be addressed; time that we now know would have been better spent searching his inbox.

Another individual surmised that “the allegations will be widened to include a clear and deliberate intention to commit academic fraud.” 

Finally, another individual opined that “the lack of evidence that he tried to contact skeptic blogs” warranted the inference that none had been contacted—we now know that the presumed lack of evidence was actually evidence for a measure of carelessness or shoddy record keeping among the individuals contacted.

In light of such massive, and massively false, allegations numerous apologies ought to be forthcoming.

However, the fact-free echo machines of the internet sit awkwardly with the notion of civility and conversation of which apologies are an integral part. I therefore doubt that any such apologies will be forthcoming.

Instead, I predict that attention will now focus on some of the other accusations and theories.

After all, what better way to avoid learning from one’s errors than by chasing down another rabbit hole.

2. Why would the people who were contacted publically fail to acknowledge this fact?

Several hypotheses could be entertained but I prefer to settle for the simplest explanation.

It’s called “human error.” It simply means the 4 bloggers couldn’t find the email, didn’t know what to search for, or their inboxes were corrupted by a move into another building, to name but a few possibilities.

The only fly in the ointment in that hypothesis is that I provided search keys and exact dates and times of some correspondence.

3. Where do we go from here?

That’s easy. On to the next theory, of course.