cc: Ray Bradley , Malcolm Hughes , Mike MacCracken , tom crowley , Tom Wigley , Jonathan Overpeck , , Michael Oppenheimer , Keith Briffa , Phil JonesSonja Boehmer-Christiansen
, Tim Osborn , , Ben Santer , Gabi Hegerl , Ellen Mosley-Thompson , "Lonnie G. Thompson", Kevin Trenberth
, , , , , ,
date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 09:20:48 -0800 (PST)
from: Stephen H Schneider
subject: Re: CONFIDENTIAL Fwd:
to: "Michael E. Mann"
Hi all. All you had to say, Mike, was Sojna B-C, and it explains it all. She is an ideological zealot--not for the coal industry, but for anything "anti-establishment". She is one of the "deconstrutionists" that seem to plague the UK--you know, that science is "socially constructed" a focus group of farmers and miners are as qualified to assess risk as the IPCC. SHe hates "elitism"--us that is--since we have entry barriers to join the technical debate (you have to know something, such a concept!)--and that is anti-democratic. They are decidely non-empirical, referencing social theory rather than doing in-depth case study analyses. THey wouldn't get tenure here as dog catcher, but some places that groove on post-modernism and other intellectually bankrupt fads actually hire such folks as professors. I once had a ten e-mail dialogue with her because she loves TImo H and his gang of retired closed minds and their little chat network, and I tried for weeks to explain to her why they were not cute and didn't deserve a forum until they had disciplined and competent arguments. All she could say is that they were "fresh thinkers" and the principle of contrarian welcoming was more important--democratic participation in science rather than elitist inside-the-club peer review etc. The problem isn't them--they're hopeless and intellectually miniscule--it is that they lend the imprimeteur of peer reviewed legitimacy to trash. The bottom line is we can't make the world safe against polemics, and Mike O. is right--that you can't give yourselves ulcers trying to argue with the likes of Sonja, CATO etc. I agree you need a defense, but a well written rebuttal and a careful selection of who you spend time talking to--national media, not every backwater political reporter who calls and will turn it into a "he-said/she-said" circus--would be my advice. Save most of your energy for the high priority fights and, every once and again, doing more science--you know, the elitist stuff that we pretend should be done with rigor and standards before you earn the right to being heard.
In response to a survey about innovation circulated by spiked-online.com, Boehmer-Christiansen wrote: "In my main field, environmental politics - the use of ‘the environment’ in power struggles - I can’t think of a greatest positive innovation. But I can think of a bad one: ever more media people (and others) now pontificate about science and especially ‘global warming’ and the climate (even planetary ethics) without any real understanding of climate and how little we understand it."