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Discussion > What is the correct way to behave towards someone who has behaved as badly as Jones and whose wrongdoing has been condoned and covered up by those in authority?

Ah, so I did! Oh well, "cabeza de pollo" as Mrs B says (head of a chicken)!

Jun 17, 2012 at 8:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Martin, you are using private emails to condemn. Are you telling me that given access to McIntyre's private emails we would find no exchanges that questioned the honesty, motives etc of Prof. Jones et al?

Jones emails were on 'work' servers and as such were not private but owned by the UEA, when I worked for a major organisation my emails were not mine and I had to sign up to a standard of use with the ultimate saction of termination if I did not comply. As the UK taxpayers fund UEA then we also own Jones emails and have a right to see them and also the right to expect that he uses his work email address properly.

Jun 18, 2012 at 3:34 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

BOFA - I thought of making those points to BB but I already had several other points that needed to be made.

Jones and co have always seemed a bit dim to me, in doing things like sending emails asking people to delete emails and discussing, in FOI-able emails, how to break FOI laws.

I'd add to your comment that, even if he uses gmail or yahoo for work correspondence, it is still not his "private" email if he is using it for univeristy business - it's still FOI-able.

Jun 18, 2012 at 7:24 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

This is what I call 'whataboutery'.

A. 'Jones misbehaved in some way'

B. What about Watts?

A. ' Jones misbehaved in this manner'

B. What about McIntyre?

A. You can read it in his emails

B. What about your emails?

..and so on. Whataboutery is not a real form of argument.

Jun 18, 2012 at 7:52 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

whataboutery is a form of trollery ?

To dung's question, I don't think there is a single point thing you can do, or change your stance to affect, toward people like Jones. Times will change, and those who deceive reality or nature in some form will get left behind. And yes, that can be a long time coming.

I cannot imagine a discipline that would be so insular in defence of its own, would not incur a loss in another quarter. As things stand, we already see the faltering instincts of the IPCC in working toward its next report. If they do not resort to secrecy, do not resort to non-peer-reviewed junk, do not resort to last-minute behind-the-scenes shenanigans, they cannot be credibly alarmist.

Jun 19, 2012 at 3:17 AM | Registered Commentershub

What's the correct way to behave? How about this?

Jun 19, 2012 at 1:11 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

whataboutery is a form of trollery ?

As I understand it, a troll is someone who posts comments or questions tangential to the main subject of a thread, often in a provocative way, with the intention that the thread is lost in a flood of reponses to the troll's provocation.

I regard whataboutery a bit like handling customer objections in a sales situation

If the sales person has proposed a product that meets the customer's Request for Proposal specification and the customer then starts objecting to the colour, the power consumption, the need for operator training and so on, it indicates that the customer has an agenda that was not disclosed in the RFP..

The proper professional response is to answer fully two or three "whatabout" questions but then to confront the customer stating that there is evidenltly an agenda that has not been brought into the open. Often it's as simple as the customer having already placed the order with an alternative supplier but being too coy to say so.

In the case of a blog discussion, it indicates that the person's mind has not been changed by a response, despite a full and incontrovertible answer having been given to the original question they posed. I suppose the best response is simply to say "Your point has been answered; you are now raising points irrelevant to the original question". [Such as whatever Steve McIntyre's personal emails might contain is irrelevant to whether or not Phil Jones displayed contempt for people wanting to see the data.]

Jun 19, 2012 at 1:58 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

The criticism of Prof Jones behaviour is, as far as I can see, based upon emails that he had reason to believe would remain private conversations. I haven't heard of rude remarks being addressed directly to McIntyre etc.

How many readers would be confident that, should their private communications (verbal and written) become public, there would be no remarks about colleagues, customers or others about which they might be embarrassed?

Jun 19, 2012 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

= what about your own emails?

Whataboutery. Probably has one of those fancy latin tags like the other rhetorical tricks. Anyone know what it is? It isn't just changing the subject.

Jun 19, 2012 at 7:34 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

The criticism of Prof Jones behaviour is, as far as I can see, based upon emails that he had reason to believe would remain private conversations.

Why did he have reason to believe they would remain private (not that they were private anyway), got any evidence because its normal practice for the employer to own all emails and for a policy to be in place.

Repeat 'They were not Private'

Last reply to the troll.

Jun 19, 2012 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of fresh air

A Brief Guide To Deflecting Criticism

Whataboutery
.

There appear to be two distinct forms of whataboutery – the first is an attempt to neuter criticism by pointing out that the other side has done the same / similar things to the acts that they are critical of, the second is an attempt to downplay the seriousness of the behaviour being criticised by pointing to topics the commenter considers to be more important.

Slugger O’Toole describes the former here:

Evasion may not be the intention but it is the obvious effect. It occurs when individuals are confronted with a difficult or uncomfortable question. The respondent retrenches his/her position and rejigs the question, being careful to pick open a sore point on the part of questioner’s ‘tribe’. He/she then fires the original query back at the inquirer.

Jun 19, 2012 at 8:36 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Maybe company emails are not private in the sense of possession, in the same way that your Gmail account belongs to you. But if you sent a company email to the personnel department, cc your boss, discussing personal circumstances (health, welfare, family, salary, whatever), your employer would probably be legally liable if the conversation turned up later on the company noticeboard or an internet blog. The mail was private/confidential. The sender can reasonably expect communication to remain confidential.

Companies/organisations almost certainly have rules that define what can be passed outside of the company and what cannot. Someone's email spool will be in the latter category, whether the leaker had 'admin' rights or not; using the data for purposes other than those authorised is almost certainly a sacking offence, if not a crime. The fact that one is granted access to something does not mean that one is grated the right to do as one pleases with it. Theft is theft.

The other word for 'whataboutery' is hypocrisy. Criticising someone for doing what is commonplace (slagging off the opposition, etc) is hypocritical unless you happen to be a saint.

Jun 20, 2012 at 1:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

BB, you do know its you who are doing it, don't you. What about the emails and all that. There is enough evidence of Jones' activities outside of the email leak. His reefusal to give up data, or even list what sites he had used. His involvement with possible fraud in the case of the chinese data. The emails merely confirmed the suspicions. The enquiry whitewashes took it further. Now, do you condone what the man did? Never mind whatabout, do you condone what he did?

Jun 20, 2012 at 8:17 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda

The last company I worked for required you to sign a paper before using its IT systems agreeing that you understood what was and was not allowed. One line was "users should have no expectation of privacy of emails they send or receive".

Jun 20, 2012 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

The criticism of Prof Jones behaviour is, as far as I can see, based upon emails that he had reason to believe would remain private conversations. I haven't heard of rude remarks being addressed directly to McIntyre etc.

How many readers would be confident that, should their private communications (verbal and written) become public, there would be no remarks about colleagues, customers or others about which they might be embarrassed?
Jun 19, 2012 at 5:48 PM BitBucket

The other word for 'whataboutery' is hypocrisy. Criticising someone for doing what is commonplace (slagging off the opposition, etc) is hypocritical unless you happen to be a saint.
Jun 20, 2012 at 1:03 AM BitBucket


BB - for me your "whataboutary" fails on two points:

[1] I have ever come across anything even slightest little bit remotely like the climategate emails in terms of evidence of wrongdoing and nastiness. And I don't think I have led a specially sheltered life.

So I simply don't buy the "everyone's emails contain similar stuff" meme.

[2] Even if BH readers did want to send such stuff, they generally seem sufficiently bright to understand that the moment you send an email/voicemail/phone message, you loose control of what happens to it afterwards. So, even if there were BH readers with Phil Jones's ethical standards (which seems unlikely in the extreme to me) I can hardly see them being stupid enough to leave easily discoverable traces of their hypothetical wrongdoing.

From the earliest days of email, it was just obvious to me (and colleagues I worked with) that you should simply never send anything that would cause you serious grief if it finished up on the screen of your boss, your competitor, your customer, your student, your best friend, your worst enemy, your wife, your girlfriend, the income tax inspector or the police.

I was told at my first security briefing, to regard the phone as less secure than talking in a loud voice in a crowded pub. As for voicemail:

Dogbert: You can create the illusion that you work long hours by leaving voicemails for your boss at 4am.

Dilbert: "Hi, this is Dilbert. It's 4 am and I'm in my underwear and I thought of you"... Oops... Erase...Oops...

Dogbert: Did you just send an obscene message to your boss?

Dilbert: No... I think I hit the group code.

Jun 20, 2012 at 9:40 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

The point is to play interference with the question posed. Distracting about 'behaviour'.

"...whose wrongdoing has been condoned and covered up by those in authority?" - what about this bit?

After everything is known, the guys still holds his position.

Jun 20, 2012 at 11:14 AM | Registered Commentershub

We can't abuse them, because that is 'descending to their level'. We can't talk quietly and rationally to them, because they don't listen.

So what to do?

I think the first thing to do is to realise that the climate debate is populated by people of two very different personality profiles.

One, is the group of people who are fairly happy in their own skins and hence view the world fairly positively; sure, there's things wrong with it, and if there's a clear way to improve things, they are happy to pursue that.

Two, is the group of people who are unhappy in their own skins and hence view the world negatively; everything is wrong and must be changed, no matter whether it actually benefits anyone. It is the change itself which carries the promise of feeling better about oneself -- it never does in more than a fleeting way, which is why the desire for blind change is unrelenting.

I mean, did you ever meet a happy activist?

The bottom line is that there is nothing you can say to them.

Because you are standing in the way of the one thing they believe might bring some meaning to their lives -- interfering with the lives of other people as a way of making themselves feel temporarily better.

Jun 20, 2012 at 1:59 PM | Registered Commenterrickbradford

Rick, you are right in your conclusion, even if IMHO it is just as useless for us to pschoanalyze them as it is for them to do the same to us. Yes, I recognise your stereotypes, but what makes them as they are or whether they are in fact all alike is not relevant. However, it is useless to talk to them. But it doesn't matter. We need to talk to reasonable uncommitted people, many of whom will not have heard any of the arguments of scepticism but who might not have swallowed the CAGW theory entirely or who may not be comfortable with a message of doom from the usual suspects. We need to tell them that the Emperor has no clothes, and not to be duped. We need to tell them that control freaks have got command of the agenda on the other side. We need to tell them this is all costing money and has no benefit. We do not need to argue with bigots and trolls.

Oh, and Phil Jones? Ignore him, unless his mum comes here to sort us out.

Jun 20, 2012 at 2:57 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda