Friday, August 11, 2006

McCarthy crusade to purge diverse views on global warming at UVa

McCarthyism: the use of unsubstantiated accusations or unfair investigative technigues in an attempt to expose disloyalty or subversion. (Webster's College Dictionary)


The effort to rid the academic community of differing conclusions on global warming have this summer been spearheaded by Charlottesville City Councilor Kevin Lynch and blogger Waldo Jaquith. Here's their argument.

The state climatologist has no credibility because he solicits and receives private funding from electric companies for some of his research. Under this rule, all scientists who are paid to do scientific work lack credibility. University scientists routinely solicit funds to finance their "objective" research and to pay personal expenses such as shelter, food, clothing. Every grant proposal is a solicitation. Every grant is a conflict of interest.

But since public funding influences recipients to reach biased conclusions that keep the grant money coming, and since Va. Climatologist Patrick Michaels is a minority point of view in the scientific community, Lynch and Jaquith have taken upon themselves to impoverish the climatologist in an effort to have him fired. But since the governor's office and UVa will not cooperate, the public relations campaign continues. So now the McCarthyites have resorted to labeling articles that disagree with their politically correct point of view as editorials. Ironically, the only charges against Michaels have come in the form of editorials.

No one who has followed Charlottesville's political history would be surprised. Poverty creation? Intolerance of minorities? On WINA's Charlottesville Right Now August 4 where Lynch was a guest, Eric called in and described the two-person campaign to purge us of dangerous ideas as "green McCarthyism."

Patrick Michaels is not actually our state climatologist.

Conflict of Interest and the State Climatologist

"I cannot see how any impartial observer could avoid the conclusion that using an official publication of the State Climatologist as an editorial vehicle to promote the agenda of Dr. Michaels’ power company funders is anything other than a clear conflict of interest."

Kaine, UVa differ on climatologist

Global Warming Rhetoric Heats Up in Charlottesville

5 Comments:

Blogger Jack Landers said...

Accepting money for research is not necessarily immoral. Nobody is saying that is the case. However, when a public official accepts money from a source that has a vested interest in that official's duties on behalf of the commonwealth then that becomes a bribe. If Pat Michaels wants to take money from oil companies to support his research then he should be free to do so, as long as he resigns his positions working for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

It's the conflict of interests that is the issue. Not accepting money per se. It's not even a question of whether global warming is actually happening. Would you want an election official accepting money from Diebold or getting a $50,000 check from a political campaign that wants a vote count settled in their favor? Absolutely not. This is much the same thing.

Also, if you have some sort of case explaining how Pat Michaels is even legally entitled to call himself the State Climatologist and accept pay for this then please let everyone know right away. It appears that his appointment actually expired when Governor Godwin left office over 25 years ago. Seriously, if you can find any documentation of his reappointment then get that information out there. Unless you can find such evidence it may be wise to accept the unfortunate facts about Mr. Michaels. Bear in mind that an impeachment of Michaels need not be a judgement of the conservative view of global warming. Your efforts to tie the validity of those views to Mr. Michael's future are likely to put them unnecessarily in disrepute. In other words, cut your losses.

8/11/2006 9:59 AM  
Blogger Larry Rouse said...

Thanks for the good and timely post. Sadly, on both sides of the political spectrum, real science has been discarded for “political science.” Woe to those who dare to question the “High Priests” of the current “fly by night” political whipping post. Those who think the case is open and shut concerning a man-made cause for the current warming trend do not known science. These “political fundamentalists” are just as fanatical as the dreaded religious fundamentalist, except in one point, they have more influence and can do more damage.

8/11/2006 10:00 AM  
Blogger Blair said...

Thanks Jack,
"It's the conflict of interests that is the issue. Not accepting money per se."

Accepting money is the issue. You're saying, accepting money is okay if it's all private money or all public funds, but not a mix of both, even if there's full disclosure. Sort of the way it's okay to accept money from several private customers or from several public grant sources, but not both. And you can't serve private entities that comprise the public and the public's government at the same time because of conflict of interest. Who made up this rule? A funding stream, whether private or public, sets up an inherent conflict between personal financial interest and the interest of your private customer or public agency.

Accepting money for personal expenses is inherently a conflict of interest. Michaels is being singled out for doing what every scientist does: accept money for research.

"Also, if you have some sort of case explaining how Pat Michaels is even legally entitled to call himself the State Climatologist and accept pay for this then please let everyone know right away."

Yes, here's my case. When Michaels was appointed in 1980, he was hired as state climatologist and still receives a paycheck with his name on it. Both UVa and Kaine's office acknowledges he was hired. The state doesn't need to reappoint him, just as my employer doesn't need to rehire me periodically. Michaels can be replaced or let go. You need to find out the agency (General Assembly?) that funds this position and petition them for the funding to be cut. If you want a different candidate in that position, then petition the governor to appoint someone else.

Why didn't you bring up this issue last year or in 2000 or maybe 1990? If you discover other public scientists at UVa accepting private funds or nonprofit funds on 52 days a year professors are allowed to do private research, will you seek their removal? Or does your conflict of interest standard apply only to global warming dissidents?

8/12/2006 12:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When Michaels was appointed in 1980, he was hired as state climatologist and still receives a paycheck with his name on it."

Wrong. He was appointed by the governor, and all gubernatorial appointments expire unless reappointed by the subsequent governor. He does not receive a paycheck, the University of Virginia receives a check that is alloted to his department, which consists of him.

It's okay to admit that you don't know what you're talking about. Just say it: "I didn't know that gubernatorial appointments required reappointment with each new governor."

Say it with me, Blair.

"I didn't know that gubernatorial appointments required reappointment with each new governor."

Admit you were wrong. You can do it.

8/14/2006 11:48 PM  
Blogger Blair said...

Anonymous, thanks for taking me through your logic. However the Secretary of Education of Virginia seems to disagree with you.

Va Education Secretary: UVA has oversight of state climatologist

Maybe the 1980 appointment was ceremonial or a situation where the appointed position became a regular classified state office.

Example of an apology for being wrong-- Comment 2

Three parts to an apology:
(1) Say what you did wrong
(2) Say why it was wrong
(3) Promise not to do it again

I have no problem being wrong. There's an old saying: If you're not making mistakes, you're not learning. I just don't understand the condescending attitude. If someone disagrees with you, they must be stupid or slow. Where does it come from? I know I have a flair for rhetoric. But I'm not using that gift to make slurs against those who disagree with me.

8/17/2006 8:46 PM  

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