This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
I've noticed a disturbing tendency around this story to use the term "stolen" about memos and such. In normal usage "stolen" implies (and is so defined in the British Theft Acts) the intent permanently to deprive the owner of the benefit of the stolen item. While it's arguable that, say, taking a copy of a recording which is for sale is depriving the copyright-holder of the sale he would otherwise have made I'd say that was pushing the definition to the absolute limit. Certainly the abstraction of data, whether from the Heartland Institute or the CRU, cannot reasonably be defined as such since the owner still has full use of it.
In Greek (and probably other) museums they ask people not to take photographs because the objects concerned are the subject of unpublished research. Given the "publish or perish" academic ethos, deeply unscientific though it is, this is a reasonable request with which I am happy to abide, but the same reasoning cannot apply to data collected at taxpayers' expense or internal memos, however embarrassing their contents may be.
focusing on the word stolen is a distraction from the main issues of this story. but I'll explain it anyway
- If the Saturday Daily Mirror obtained a copy of the Sun on Sunday's front page story & published it ..would you say the Sun on Sunday still have the original document so haven't had anything stolen ?
I discussed the technique of using weasel words to spin, frame & prejudice a debate earlier
In the case of Climategate the word hacked or stolen were used to spin & frame the debate in a negative way, by the impressive green PR machine.
- The BBC should never have used that word as there was & still is after millions of pounds of police spending no evidence to say whether it was the negative of a fraud, hack or theft or the neutral/positive of a leak by an insider.
Note how the same Green websites don't "Wikileaks has stolen" they say "Wikileaks has published"
- In the case of MPs expenses we don't talk of the information being stolen either as there was a strong case of 1. it being in the public interest & 2. the information been owned by the public anyway.
- Similarly in Climategate CRU is a public body & there was a strong "public interest" as some emails disclosed possibly illegal activity like evading FOI requests. And that many of the emails covered material which FOI requests had not be complied with. In all the publication was a positive thing for the public. (I am not aware of any private issues being discussed)
- The Heartland case is different
- stolen, purloined, hacked, fraudantly obtained they are all negative and illegal & Gleick has admitted breaking the law.
- Neither can there be a public interest defense, as once Heartland had started making the science education materials it would hardly be secret anymore. And it can't have been a very big plan given the alledged budget. Furthermore the information does not belong to public as Heartland is private. It's annual budget has always been published on it's website & it did used to publish the info about donors until they started to get harassed)
- Even if they did find something in the documents the public interest like a bribe or tax fraud it still would be an illegal act otherwise anybody could hack into anybody and say "I know they have done something illegal, but I just haven't found it yet".
Possibly if incriminating evidence was obtained by illegal means that might provide Heartland with a legal getout.
- Indeed now the Green spin department is attempting to frame the debate by using the word "leak" ..what like the way the way the News Of The World "leaked" Milly Dowlers voicemails ?
The word leak would not stand up in court.
- I would say the word stolen is not being used maliciously in the Heartland event. Like the Mirror case if in Climategate a not yet published CRU report had been published then you could say it's been stolen.
Information does have a value eg. it's release might spoil Heartland's campaign launch the campaign party & fund raising etc. Indeed one reason behind the DeSmogBlogs first press release might have been to spur on the Green educationalists to get on with making what they would call "Anti-denier" educational materials, meaning Heartland has to spend a hell of a lot more to get it's message over than it would have otherwise.
So are the ones fundraising to put their "Climate Change" classes into schools ?
even more upside down
Peter Gleick - "I've got these secret documents that show Heartland a right wing think tank the evil deniers have a secret agenda to flood US schools with “climate denier” material. Here have a press release"
- "and what do you do ?"
PG - "ah well 5 weeks ago I started a job writing "climate change" education material" on Jan13th for NCSE left wing think tank , so we are fund raising for it .. you can see the Jan13th website...it repeats most of the phrases in the press release I just gave you"
PG- "oh dear, I've just resigned from that job. Apparently the fact I'm involved in stolen & faked documents might effect the fund-raising. Thank god my green blog mates are still piling on the NCSE fund-raising log posts slagging Heartland, but keeping my name out of it"
- "you won't get away with it"
PG - "Well actually it's not even a new idea. My mates have pulled exactly the same double flip scam in the past .."
- the short explanation
- more with duplicate case from the past
- NCSE exact quotes
- Example of green blog first post where she called me "DENIER" "shut-up"
- Her 3rd post fundraising omitting PG's name
Truly upside down world
BTW did you hear the one about "Climate scientists are getting death threats" ... well not with the verified police report you'd expect.