Originally blogged at Realclimategate
(I changed the name of the blog, because of this post)
Reputation is everything on the internet.
Last week I was very concerned to see that Peter Gleick had publically claimed on Twitter he had blocked me because I had made ‘incredibly offensive’ tweets to him. I was very concerned by this public claim from such a senior scientist, as this implied that I had been abusive to him in the same manner as the vile threatening emails, one of our mutual Twitter followers Katie Hayhoe had received (like this)
I asked him (a lot) to substantiate this, or to correct this publically, yet he repeated it, it was only I believe with the input of Dr Tamsin Edwards, Professor Richard Betts and Katie Hayhoe that Peter relented and clarified matters.
Tamsin Edwards, Peter Gleick and I had a very frank email exchange and I found it quite enlightening to see a VERY different perspective on how to communicate climate science between a ‘relatively junior (as he made clear) UK climate scientist (Edwards) and a senior climate scientist (Gleick) in the USA.
In Tamsin’s closing email to Peter Gleick ( that I am party to) I think she inadvertently identifies exactly the feeling of many sceptics, being dismissed as a group to be ignored.
“I would personally be infuriated if I was dismissed on account of the behaviour of a group of people I talk with. Every single person I talk with has a different viewpoint, and I learn a lot about how better to communicate climate science by listening to them. If we dismiss swathes of people by association then our attempts at communication become futile: we end up only ‘preaching to the converted from an ‘ivory tower’, as it were”.
Of course, if communication of climate science is not your aim, then it is your choice if you prefer to communicate with nobody! – Tamsin Edwards
I’m sure many people can only imagine Peter’s reply/thoughts to that (if any).
In the email exchange Peter recognises the extreme polarisation of the debate (especially as Tamsin points out in the USA) but seem totally unselfaware that his approach and attitude that are shown in the email exchange (and that it seems to of many senior scientists in the media) helps drive it.
Peter says he stands by everything he said and I have confirmed with Tamsin (3 times!) that she is OK with publishing the correspondence as well. So to be fair, I do not wish to misrepresent anybody, I have included ALL the emails I was party to, so that everyone can see the exchange in full context.
In the USA it appear questions around climate science can be ‘attacks’ any criticism or debate of a contentious issue, can be seen by some as ‘incredibly offensive and those people that dare do this are to be dismissed and ignored. I do not find that healthy position for science to be in.
I was personally infuriated when my Prime Minister (Gordon Brown) made ‘anti-science flat earther denier’ remarks (and double denier) in the run up to Copenhagen. Awful political rhetoric to deny the validity of other opinions or even to prevent questions being asked at all.
And here I am 2 years later.
All Correspondence in full – Reverse order,last first (my Bold)
From: Tamsin Edwards
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 6:29 PM
To: Peter H. Gleick Cc: Barry Woods
Subject: Re: Clarification
Just a quick note.
One of the most important things I have learned in my (fairly extensive) public engagement activities is not to lump people together in a homogenous group. I repeatedly defend Barry because he works hard *not* to be Anthony Watts.
I hope you’ll consider taking each person and their views on their ownmerits, or lack of, in future conversations. I would personally be infuriated if I was dismissed on account of the behaviour of a group of people I talk with. Every single person I talk with has a different viewpoint, and I learn a lot about how better to communicate climate science by listening to them. If we dismiss swathes of people by association then our attempts at communication become futile: we end up only ‘preaching to the converted from an ‘ivory tower’, as it were.
Of course, if communication of climate science is not your aim, then it is your choice if you prefer to communicate with nobody!
My best wishes,
From: Peter Gleick
Sent: 26/01/2012 18:13
To: Barry Woods;Tamsin Edwards
Again, I am not going to spend more time on this, but I will try to be clear. My comments about your communications with me were not meant to suggest that you were either abusive or threatening to me in the nature of the kinds of emails/comments Hayhoe (or I or others in the climate community regularly receive).
You have not been so far as I know, and *I will try to make that clear in a tweet, when I get a chance*. And perhaps “incredibly annoying” or “incredibly frustrating” or “incredibly discourteous,” or “incredibly uncivil” or some other synonym would have been a better choice. Do you really want me to pick one?
I stand by my other comments in the email I sent to you, about how I personally perceived your participation in exchanges in the fall when I ran out of patience with any chance of rational discussion with WUWT, Bishop Hill, or the regular tweeters and bloggers of that group. It became clear it was an unproductive time sink with a group whose minds were closed to fact, and whose primary tool was ad hominem attack.
The systematic and coordinated and dishonest attack on me after my
negative review of LaFramboise’s book was only one example that made it
clear that rational debate was not possible and dissenting views not tolerated.
The fact that WUWT blocked me from adding comments more than a year ago to his routinely biased and often dissembling blog further convinced me that there was little interest in discussion among that group.
Perhaps you’re having more luck, or have more patience.
At 06:31 AM 1/26/2012, Barry Woods wrote:
As you requested my email address, I must apologise in the delay replying back to you. I have been in the process of moving everything from my old
(expired XP PC) to a new Win 7 PC, this did not run very smoothly.
As I and Dr Edwards have expressed, my concern (which your email to me, does not really address) was about your public tweets, that you tweeted that I had directly sent you ‘incredibly offensive’ tweets. I thought that this very public claim could be construed by all your followers, my followers or anybody that receives your public RSS feed, (including the highly influential Huffington Post where you write publically) that I had directly sent you personally threatening or abusive tweets.
All this, at a time where climate scientists, like Katie Hayhoe or journalists like Leo Hickman in the past (Guardian) have received the most vile abuse, of an incredibly offensive nature, using very threatening language, via email and other social media.
Additionally, this issue has recently received a great deal of media attention in the USA (i.e. Katie’s rejected book chapter, for a US potential US Presidential candidate) My concern was that your followers (and all mine) and the wider media, might perceive that I had directly sent you tweets of a similar personally abusive nature.
As my Twitter followers actually include Katie Hayhoe and Leo Hickman, I hope you can understand my particular concern and why I perceive this so seriously. Following your original tweet, I asked you to clarify/substantiate this public claim. As did a number of our mutual twitter followers, including Professor Richard Betts & Dr Tamsin Edwards.
It was then brought to my attention that you publically implied in a tweet to Prof R Betts that I had been less polite to you.
PeterGleick: “and perhaps, Richard, he’s been more polite to you than to me?”
Prof Richard Betts, asked you what I had tweeted that offended you
and you tweeted that you had reviewed my tweets and found some of them
to be ‘incredibly offensive’
I again asked you to substantiate this, that all that would required is just ONE tweet (url) to demonstrate your assertion, I also stated that I would publically apologise if you could substantiate with just ONE example. It was then brought to my attention, a tweet of yours to @Richardabetts that you had perhaps not actually re-viewed my tweets of the time when you blocked me, and your concerns were perhaps more in-keeping with those expressed in your email to Dr Edwards and myself below (however that email is not public knowledge)
PeterGleick:”@richardabetts I won’t re-read his tweets/WUWT comments on my work from last fall when I blocked him, but our exchanges were unproductive.”
This seems to to me, to run counter to your public claim of ‘incredibly offensive’ tweets, where tweets were just ‘unproductive’ and refers to blog comments now, as well.
As I recall it, you blocked myself and Andrew Montford at the time of Prof Judith Curry’s blog post about your review of Donna Laframboise’s book about the IPCC. Richard Betts, Andrew and I recalled this this article, and that we had all commented in that article and recalled the twitter chats aswell. .
@aDissentient Bishop Hill: @Realclim8gate I read your exchanges with @petergleick at the time. You were not offensive. @richardabetts @flimsin @dougmcneall @nmrqip
RichardaBetts: @Realclim8gate @petergleick Don’t remember you being “incredibly offensive”, just speaking your mind. Maybe I am thick-skinned!
At that time, my only comment addressed directly to you at Climate Etc I think is totally civil.
As Andrew Montford commented in that article that you had just twittered blocked him at about time of this comment
Peter, Is it perhaps possible that your recollections of their [that] time are unclear, and perhaps you blocked me then and others, more by ‘guilt by association’ with other comments/tweets, than for anything I actually said at Climate Etc. or tweeted. There were very many critical comments of your book review at Climate Etc., by a number of scientists, Prof Curry, Prof Jones & Prof Tol and the whole article comments and your replies got very heated. As you can see, my only comment to you there was very civil, just asking a question.
As you said publically on the 23rd Jan, 2012 that you had reviewed my tweets to you, and found some to be ‘incredibly offensive’ and you publically repeated this. I remain very concerned that all the scientist and journalists that follow me might think that I had been highly personally abusive to you.
I joined twitter with the hope of having civil, informal conversation with a broad range of people, to get a way from the blogs. As you noticed, I have only a small group of followers, I like to think that I have attracted views of quality rather than quantity and enjoy a generally [good] humoured communal debate with a number of people who
have a range of views.
These followers include scientists (among many others), Dr Katie Hayhoe, Prof J Jones, Prof R Betts (Met Off, IPCC), Dr Doug McNeall (Met Off), Dr M Brandon, DR Richard Gilham (Met Off, UEA) Dr Katharine Giles.
Influential writers and highly respected journalists include: Andy Revkin (New York Times),Leo Hickman (Guardian), Mark Lynas (author, & Maldives Climate Advisor)
Thus, I am sure you can acknowledge, my personal reputation for civil polite behaviour, on twitter or anywhere else, is of great concern to me and that your public tweets I believe have put this reputation at risk, however inadvertently on your part. Although, additionally I am concerned that you seem unwilling to actually check/substantiate your comments as I requested.
Peter, as you have made it quite clear that you wish to spend no more time on this issue, but you have yet not made any public clarification/substantiation.
I intend to write a blog post where I quote your email, that I believe does demonstrate, that I have never directly sent you tweets, that might be considered ‘incredibly offensive’ in the nature of the vile abuse threatening emails that Katie Hayhoe has received.
As a gesture of goodwill, on my part, I will include of course the full content and context of these emails, for utmost transparency/clarity, as I have no absolutely no wish to misrepresent you in any way. In fact by doing this, it will bring to the attention of all my scientist followers, your criticisms, concerns and warning to scientists about me, for all scientists to see.
(I will of course, remove all personal contact information)
If I may ask you one personal favour, if you could spare just a moment of your time (only 140 chars) to publically tweet, that I had never sent you anything of personally abusive nature (i.e. swearing, abusive or threatening).
Very Best Regards
The only WUWT with comment of mine, that I can find from last year about you/your work, was this one, where I defended you:
because this guy had been rude about all climate scientists, picking on you especially:
As you mentioned blog comments in your email, as I described above, in that quite heated article by Prof Judith Curry, at the actual time that you twitter blocked me, perhaps you ‘associated’ me with these scientists by mistake.
For example Prof Jonathan Jones comment (Physics, Oxford University) whilst critical, not ‘incredibly offensive’?
Or Prof Richard Tol: who was a draft reviewer of Dona’s book (and
a IPCC lead author) who asked you to substantiate your claim of
Perhaps you just confused me with someone else… that is why I asked to check and substantiate your public tweet that I was ‘incredibly offensive’. I do note that it appears to that you did not substantiate your claim of ‘lies’ when Prof Richard Tol requested you to.
as he said.
Richard Tol (speaking to Peter Gleick)
“Now that we are on the subject, you accuse Laframboise of telling lies. Can you quote chapter and verse? Please note that I have a stake here. I reviewed two drafts of the book. I did not find any falsehoods (let alone lies, which imply intention). I would like to know where I went wrong in my duty asa reviewer.”
Reputation is clearly very important to everyone, especially academic ones …..
From: Peter H. Gleick
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 12:20 AM
To: Tamsin Edwards Cc: email@example.com
Subject: Re: Clarification
I am not going to deal with this anymore. It has taken far too much of my constrained time and bandwidth already.
I am glad Woods’ exchanges with you seem to have been decent. We’re probably all far more polite one-on-one than in public online screamfests. I’m sorry he didn’t like my comment. But I’ve reviewed his tweets, blog posts, status, web URL, and comments and contributions in places like Bishop Hill and WUWT (where, by the way, I’ve been blocked for more than a year from posting comments, presumably because my comments are “incredibly offensive” — yet I’m regularly and personally attacked on these kinds of sites).
His adoption of the language, often coded, of the denier/skeptic/contrarian community, his amplification of memes around “climategate,” “AGwarmists,” “hide the decline,” “the hockey stick,” the straw man of “catastrophic” climate change, etc. may have changed since I blocked his Twitter feed to me last year, but I simply don’t find his input to the debate helpful or informative, and I’m certainly entitled to both my opinions and to decide what part of the climate controversy comes to me through different media.
By the way, I also block people I LIKE, when I can no longer tolerate
or filter their massive overuse of Twitter.
I do what I can to communicate rationally with open-minded participants in this debate, but the polarization makes it hard to find them. If this is something you’re committed to diving into, I wish you the best of luck. I hope you’ll continue to publish in
the scientific literature as your top priority — in the long-run, your reputation as a scientist (and your influence in the associated policy debates) will benefit from it.
Barry, if you want to pursue this further, feel free, but
honestly, you should consider cutting your tweet rate by a factor of 10
until your ratio of tweets to followers improves, you might consider
what you really believe and how you express it, and we should
probably ALL count to 10 after writing anything and before hitting
(and Tamsin, your note about how Barry regrets the domain name,
but “has kept it because it’s known” might be a warning to you,
“All Models Are Wrong…” But I’ve already made my opinion known
Dr. Peter H. Gleick
President, Pacific Institute
At 01:57 PM 1/24/2012, Tamsin Edwards wrote:
Yes…he says he regrets it actually, but has kept it because
And he changed his Twitter biog after I pointed out it was more antagonistic than his actual views.
On 24/01/2012 21:36, Peter H. Gleick wrote:
OK, not to be pedantic, but I find his URL to be offensive…. Maybe not “incredibly offensive” but….
At 01:21 PM 1/24/2012, you wrote:
I’ve never emailed him, only DMed and spoken on the
phone. I’ve asked for his email but no reply yet – think he is fixing
his skirting board.
He has a contact form on his blog:
On 24/01/2012 17:05, Peter H. Gleick wrote:
Can you send me Barry’s email?
I will respond shortly, when I have time, and will
copy the two of you.
[Katherine, a week ago I got a long rambling phone
message from your admirer Stan Lippmann — not nearly as horrible
and offensive as his to you, but bad enough. He apparently took offence to one of my posts at Forbes and has no mental brakes on his mouth or fingers. My condolences…]
At 07:30 AM 1/24/2012, Tamsin Edwards wrote:
Dear Peter, (Katharine),
Following on from my DMs to you Peter, I’m writing because I’d like to defend Barry Woods (@realclim8gate). He has always been an absolute model of politeness and good intentions when conversing with me and all the other climate scientists I know. He actively defends us against others’ (i.e. sceptics’) rudeness when
we post on the Bishop Hill sceptic blog, and always calls for the
debates to be civil. In fact, I would say he does accept the science
and is sceptical mostly about policy choices and the media’s
representation of our results.
So I was surprised to hear that you’d found his tweets “incredibly offensive” and would be very interested to hear what these were. It’s not clear to me (from your tweets to Barry and Richard Betts) whether you have re-read these messages recently, or
whether they were more “unproductive” than offensive.
I have just spoken to Barry and he is genuinely upset and concerned about this. The reason I have copied Katharine into this is that she recently started following him and he is concerned she will write him off due to your description. He describes the
abuse Katharine and Kerry have received as “despicable” and worries that your comments will have branded him in the same category when he takes great pains to be polite. This is one of the reasons I have chosen to write to you. Barry is not a troll, not a mindless frothing angry commenters we so frequently see. He does get frustrated (and
verbose) but is good-humoured with it.
Fortunately for me and my colleagues, in theUK the debate is much less heated than in the US, and some of us have made great progress in holding civil and productive conversations with a range of sceptics, bringing them round to our point of view. I
want to defend Barry’s part in this: to stick up for someone I owe a
lot in developing the conversation.
You may think this issue is not worth giving a moment more of your time. And this would be your decision, of course. But I hope you can.
There lies a very interesting and remarkably frank discussion:
Peter has now tweeted this:
and I thanked Peter:
but without a considerable amount of effort and Richard, Tamsin and Katies input I don’t think this would have happened.
If it is considered offensive, incredibly offensive, closed minded or even an an attack on a scientist or climate science presumably, to be asked to backup words and accusations like ‘lies’ (Donna’s IPCC book) I am afraid in my opinion that scientist fails in trying to communicate and just alienates people
Reading his comments above, it is sad to see that he presumeably must include Professor Judith Curry, Professor Richard Tol and Professor Jonathan Jones (and Professor Richard Mueller – ‘Hide the decline’ video) in those he has lot pateince with and find ‘incredibly offensive’? as they have all spoken highly critically about ‘Hide the Decline’.
Additionally, as they were FAR more critical than I was of him with respect to Donna Laframboises book. I’ve met Donna once and she is a very nice lady who deserves to be respected to have PUBLIC accusations of ‘lies’ to be substantiated (and a belated thanks to Donna for the kids, maple leaf lollies & sweets she sent before Xmas)
“…The systematic and coordinated and dishonest attack on me after my negative review of LaFramboise’s book was only one example that made it clear that rational debate was not possible and dissenting views not tolerated…” – Peter Gleick
All Professor Tol, Curry, Jones and myself and Andrew Montford were attempting to clarify with Peter was his claim that Donnas’ book was full of ‘lies’. we were asking for pg number, reference and reasoning from him to substantiate the VERY strong public claim. As a draft reviewer of the book in question, I can imagine Richard Tol’s annoyance.
So this is where Peter has infuriated me, for someone in his position, his refusal to substantiate PUBLIC statement, when he is asked to back up his statement.. ie pg number, url, ref, and reasoning, as it seems to be a worrying attitude that appear to frequently expressed within ‘climate change science’
To be willing to substantiate something is something ANY student would expect of their teacher, or public figure, and Peter is both.
Peter Gleick is no doubt an expert scientist in his own field, but I do think he could learn from Tamsin Edwards approach in attempting to communicate to the public, not least withrespect do not dismiis people because of who the talk with (or percieved sins of association) and yes it is infuriating. This is a point that Tamsin Edwards makes in her new blog after apprently learning the hard way in public debate (bold).
Twitter and Bishop Hill have
(a) toughened me up a bit
(b) taught me to be very precise and ready to back every statement up
(c) taught me not to assume anything about people’s opinions or knowledge, though I admit I forget sometimes (c) given me many friendly allies from across the spectrum of opinions. I recommend them both as places to start.” – Tamsin Edwards
Tamsin thought it odd that Peter had forwarded to me in his email all their previous correspondence, presumably to to beclear about how he felt? I am glad that he did because it gave me a small, but important pause for thought.
As I MUST give Peter Gleick some great credit for even twittering with me and Andrew Montford in the first place.
Why do I give him this credit, because he mentions in passing that he received phone calls from the same ‘gentleman’ that had been given Katie Hayhoe a very hard (abusive time) and again refers to regular abusive emails, that no doubt other high profile climate scientists in the USA recieve (primarily from Americans?)
[Katherine, a week ago I got a long rambling phone
message from your admirer Stan Lippmann — not nearly as horrible and offensive as his to you, but bad enough.
The situation is no doubt due to the highly politicised polarisation of the issue in the USA, withMarc Morano’s Climate Depot, no doubt NOT helping by publishing climate scientists email addreses alongside ‘tabloid’ style headlines.
So despite my criticism, I do have to give Peter a huge amount of credit for talking to me on Twitter, in the first place due to the very different highly politicised situation in America, that I was only vaguley aware of. Same credit is due to Katie Hayhoe for talking for someone called – @realclim8gate at all, and I would like to thank her again.
All I wanted to is to persude some in USA/UK climate science that they may be mistaken, and that the highly polarised climate in the USA/UK is preventing the normal civil but lifely debate of the issues.
The reason I choose Realclimategate is like Tamsin to be provocative, to be noticed, and at the time I choose itbecause Realclimate had really irritated me, by just deleting me out of hand in their comments.
I had suggested they just add Steve Mcintyre, Peilke and Lucia’s Blackboard (to their Other Opinion blog roll, and the reply was tha tthese people were dishonest! (Dr Eric Steig – this did not go unoticed by the people I mentioned) and ALL my further comments at Realclimate were modereated out of existance.
The irony is I had gone originally (when climategate happened) to RealClimate in total good faith, on the personal recommendation of a climate scientists and a very good personal family friend (someone who was part Editorial Team of IPCC TAR, WG1 with a high profile UK role to this day) so I was genuinely openminded about Realclimate.
Ie I did not even know who Steve Mcintyre, Michael Mann, Anthony Watts were, nor heard of Andrew Montford, Mark Lynas or Leo Hickman (sorry guys!) either.
In Peters and other climate scientists world view it seems to me to even mention, ‘Hide the decline’ climategate, etc is seen as very offensive and ‘attacking scientists’ or attacking science’ and to me this world view is odd.
Think of me what you will, call me a sceptic, denier, crank, flat-earther, anti-science and more names intended to portay me as someone to ignore, as bad, crazy or stupid. But if scientists like Prof R Muller, Prof J Jones, Prof J Curry and UEA Paul Dennis publically have stateded their criticisms their concerns wiht the ‘HIde the Decline’ and the scientists involved, then I am going to damm well talk about it to, until science deals with it ‘properly’ and moves on.
As in my opinion, Peter reaction to this (like very many others within ‘climate change’ science) shows them more to be like someone who is an advocate for ‘the cause’ and not behaving as a scientist should.
As demonstrated by the criticism of Tamsind Edwards new blog name allmodelsarewrong.com, because his primary concern is that ‘sceptics’ might misuse it.
As I have pretty much commnted every in the last 2 years under my name (as Barry Woods) I’m going to drop @RealClim8gate, as It is has become unproductive to what I want to achieve, a civil discussion with no mention of deniers, watermelons, cranks, alarmist, or whatever label anyone denigrates the other to deny them a voice.
So, whilst I am proud/pleased what RealClimategate.org achieved (and @RealClim8gate ) times are changing, more questions are being asked, a broader audience is gradually engaging the debate and hopefully the need for provocative challenge to a ‘consensus’ will fade away.
So, I have changed my Twitter name already from @RealClim8gate to @BarryJWoods
I might just park this old blog, (don’t want to lead dead links all over the place) and I am proud of the small achievements it has contributed, and thank to those like Katie, Tamsin, etc who saw past the name.)
and of course I will need to come up with a new name for a new blog.
So hopefully, Peter will perhaps think some of his communication events effort was not so totally ‘unproductive‘ after all.
Or I might just retire from blogging (it’s been a long very frustrating 2 years)