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Pathological exaggerators caught on “death threats”: How 11 rude emails became a media blitz

Here’s a character test on climate scientists and some of the media. It tells us much how concerned they are about truth, and how willing they are to be gullible fools, to have manners, decency, to milk even the most vaporous wisp of evidence into a national headline. Credit to Simon Turnill and  The Australian which put the news on the front page today. At least one paper is working to correct the record.

Character is destiny. Can people who do not care about the truth be trusted on any issue?

How bad were those threats? What threats?

According to Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim, the 11 documents  “do not contain threats to kill” and the other “could be regarded as intimidating and at its highest perhaps alluding to a threat”. [The Australian]

What kind of evidence does a climate scientist need to issue a press release?

Answer: none at all.

How important is accuracy to our climate scientists?

Answer: rudeness equals a death threat, just like “fail” equals “very accurate” for climate models.

How reasonable, rational and accurate are climate scientists like Will Steffen, Andy Pitman, David Karoly? Billions of dollars depends on their judgement, and what we find as we study the evidence, is that knowing what we know now, and quoting their own words, they either set out to deceive the public in order to smear those who disagree with them, or their judgement is seriously questionable — almost delusional. Our Chief Scientists admits he did not read the email threats himself before doing all those media interviews. What ho? He’s been caught here, but he also admits he does not know the evidence for climate change either. He trusts the opinion of these same scientists who either have little integrity or are completely irrational.

The evidence suggests they lack scruples and honesty. The serial exaggerators hide the data. When asked to provide examples they post weak excuses and try to prevent people seeing the evidence.

Remember that even if real death threats turn up (and I sincerely hope they don’t), nothing after the fact can change the truth that climate scientists like Will Steffen Andy Pitman, David Karoly felt no obligation to tell the Australian taxpayers the whole story. They are happy to stoop to smearing opponents. It’s more proof that they have no evidence, and resort to smears to win sympathy and distract the public from their vaporous case.

For the record: How 11 rude emails became a national media blitz

After receiving 11 rude emails, the ANU scientists issued media alerts calling them “death threats”, saying that they were so serious they’d moved the scientists to safer locations, they were switching to unlisted home numbers, deleting social media profiles that had been defaced. It was “intolerable”  and  they were shaking with fear.

After being asked via FOI to provide the “death threats” they hid them, improbably claiming their were privacy issues, and the release of 11 crude emails (with details redacted) may “endanger the life or physical safety of any person”.

Pathological exaggerators? Lets quote their exact words:

Will Steffen, head of the Climate Institute and paid thousands of dollars to advise on billion dollar policies, appears unable to tell the difference between a bad mannered email and a direct threat of violence. Just how good is his judgement on the finer points of feedback loops in complex models?

Professor Will Steffen, of the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute, said some were direct threats of violence, while others were ”simply very nasty emails with veiled threats in them that what might happen to us in a very general way”.  Canberra Times

The serial exaggerators tossing baseless ad hominem smears then called for a “logical public debate” about the science.

Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University, Professor Ian Young, said staff should not have to put up with such behaviour. “Professor Young says the outrageous behaviour [of receiving 11 rude emails] has left the scientists shaken.” “These are issues where we should have a logical public debate …” [ABC]

Prof David Karoly, of the University of Melbourne’s school of Earth science took the opportunity to suggest the 11 rude emails could be an organized campaign:

“It is clear that there is a campaign in terms of either organised or disorganised threats to discourage scientists from presenting the best available climate science on television or radio,” he said.

According to Andrew Macintosh, the 11 emails were an acceleration of a campaign running for years (What? Perhaps there was one email 5 years ago, and another 18 months ago? That bad eh?)

“Andrew Macintosh, associate director of the ANU Centre for Climate Law and Policy, said the scientists had been targeted for years but it had worsened. ”I received a few a couple of years ago. It was three letters, with pictures of dead animals and print cut out from newspapers. There was a variety of ways I was going to die. They were going to shoot me, gut me and so on. Since then I’ve had lots of abusive emails and phone calls.”   [ canberra times]

Instead of informing Canberran’s that the ANU had not reported the rude emails to police, journalist Eamonn Duff at The Canberra Times phrased it as such: “Federal police said they were aware of the issue.” A hired PR agent could hardly do better.
Not surprisingly Julia Gillard blamed Abbott:
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the plunge in debate should be blamed on the Opposition’s preparedness to ”abuse scientists”.   canberratimes
She took the chance to smear the Tea Party too. Combet also held Abbott responsible.  Our current political leaders struggle somewhat with cause and effect.

The man trying to scare us into paying billions to stop storms and floods, Climate Minister Mr Combet, said:

“People whipping up anxiety over a carbon price should temper their language and engage in rational debate rather than irrational scare mongering,’’


The Climate Science smear campaign was a media success

Here are the headlines generated over 11 rude emails:

“Australian National University scientists moved to safe location after threats” The Australian

   “Death threats sent to top climate scientists” ABC

“Australian climate scientists receive death threats” [Guardian UK]

“Australian climate scientists face death threats” [Nature Blog]

Climate scientists receive death threats [SMH]

Death threats to scientists  [Canberra Times]

Chubb deplores ‘low’ climate debate [Canberra Times]

Climate debate hitting new lows – scientist [Daily Telegraph]

Climate change scientists threats reheated [news.com.au]

Climate debate ‘appalling’ [The Canberra Times]

 “Climate of Fear” [The Canberra Times]

Universities condemn threats against climate scientists ABC Online

Australian climate change scientists receive death threats as debate heats upTelegraph.co.uk

The Australian –University World News –AFP

The Canberra Times, “Climate of Fear” article containing a false claim has disappeared off their site.

Perhaps they removed it because it wrongly claimed the police were investigating the death threats? A Canberra Times editorial has also disappeared (but is apparently copied here).

I found a copy of the most egregious beat-up of them all, the “Climate of Fear” article on a chat board:

04 Jun, 2011 12:00 AM

Australia’s leading climate change scientists are being targeted by a vicious, unrelenting email campaign that has resulted in police investigations of death threats.

Despite the climate scientists phenomenal PR success using lies to achieve national headlines that smeared their opponents, Ian Chubb, the chief scientist later said that scientists need to learn to manage the media.

SCIENTISTS need to be more skilled in using the media to sell the message that what they do is relevant and vital, according to Ian Chubb. 

“Science is not doing itself any favours,” Professor Chubb said. “Despite a specialisation called ‘science communication’, communication between science and the media is patchy, science makes an uneven use of the media to get its message out.”

The truth, of course, is that the political activists who masquerade as “Scientists” are excellent at PR and disinformation, shamelessly timing a beat up of the insulting boorish emails into a media storm. Instead it is those independent scientists trying to expose the failures of government funded “science” that need to be smarter about managing their PR.


Once again, where was the truth? It was in the new media, on the blogs, not in the newspapers. They did not report the death threats to the police, so  in June 2011 it was obvious to any journalist who was not a gullible hack that the whole story may have been a baseless beat up.

Shame on you:  Will Steffen, Andy Pitman, David Karoly, Ian Young, Andrew Macintosh, Ian Chubb, Rosslyn Beeby, Eamonn Duff.

Who will apologize for baseless slurs?

My previous posts:

Death Threats? Respect the science? Start with some evidence.

To a climate scientist, *swearing* equals a Death Threat (no wonder these guys can’t predict the weather)

Death threats are never OK, but for those without morals they can be a useful PR tool

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