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« A sting in the tail | Main | Interview with Lord Oxburgh »
Monday
May072012

Quadrant on the death threats

Quadrant magazine reviews the climate death threats issue:

The elements involved an organized and possibly funded campaign by sceptics to terrify and silence climate scientists, who were merely doing an honest job of putting climate facts before the public. “The barrage has left the scientists… working behind unmarked doors and surrounded by heavy security,” as one report put it.[1]

In the past fortnight official information has been released that the ‘death threats’ were fiction. The story was a mammoth beat-up promulgated and/or swallowed by the science community, which normally prides itself on checking evidence.

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Reader Comments (113)

Nick..please stop..just leave it..
Your making a dogs breakfast of this one on so many levels its beyond parody.

May 7, 2012 at 10:07 PM | Registered Commentermikewilliams

An annual conference, 'Sustainable Single Malt Fuel Additives and Their Application in High Performance Transportation', is required. Hawaii, Bali, or Pune - your choice.

(Or perhaps just let Keith and Phil choose - they are good at making selections).

May 7, 2012 at 10:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Can we have drinks with umbrellas in them?

May 7, 2012 at 11:29 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

My brother and I did have evidence of both the death threats and the fact that they were reported to the police. But we were abducted by space aliens, Nick was violated quite horribly and in the process of that probing the evidence was destroyed.

May 8, 2012 at 1:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterDick Stokes

Ok, let's recap. We need:
1) A grant application for drink ornaments - don't mention this to Mike he'll insist on little hockey sticks (again)
2) An intern who knows how to operate 'The Excel'
3) Two more exonerations from the Royal Society - we have been caught out being less than honest (again!)
4) A surgeon to remove the implant from Nick Stokes (I'm hoping it is a small metallic Nick Stokes)
5) A new wheels of mediocrity lubricator - Acton is looking weary. He's been throwing tax payer's money around like confetti for a few years but even Lovelock doesn't believe the CRU any more

May 8, 2012 at 1:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

I will happily work for free as chief cook and bottle-washer (especially the latter) in the single malt fuel supplement project.

As I live in Canberra, the scene of the outrages at my alma mater that Nick is so exercised about, I make 3 observations.

(1) Ian Chubb, who was the VC at the time and is now the Chief Scientist, is an avowed warmist. Why, he didn't even ask for substantiation of the death threat claims before moving his aggrieved staff to shiny new offices. As anyone familiar with academia knows, office space and parking are the two top issues for academics everywhere. Win-win!

(2) Rosslyn Beeby is our ideological equivalent of Richard Black. As for Graham Readfearn, I provided a thumbnail sketch of him in my comment here:

http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/4/24/quote-of-the-day.html#comment17821107

Nuff said.

(3) The Australian Federal Police here deal with death threats all the time, as politicians attending Parliament get them frequently. Usually when asked about specific instances, they say 'no comment'. In this case, they have made it clear that they have not been involved at all, except to the extent that they monitor Press reports.

Nick Stokes hasn't got a clue what he is talking about, and has already been thrashed at WUWT on this issue.

May 8, 2012 at 2:12 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

It is running interference. Laying down all the soggy tissue on the floor so that the thin vase doesn't crark when it hits the floor.

fake death threats, fake documents, fake polar bears, ...

May 8, 2012 at 2:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

May 7, 2012 at 3:13 PM | Nick Stokes
"They could hardly be "unaware" since the promoters of the hoax had plastered them all over the news media."
No, the report I linked was the first mention in the press. And that's what it said.
--------------------------------

Circular argument ... believing their own BS.

May 8, 2012 at 3:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

johanna
I am also an ANU alumnus.
"In this case, they have made it clear that they have not been involved at all, except to the extent that they monitor Press reports."
Where do you get that from?

May 8, 2012 at 4:58 AM | Unregistered Commenternick stokes

Nick Stokes, what section of the following are you having difficulty with -

The Australian Federal Police division responsible for law enforcement in Canberra, ACT Policing, said it was not contacted by the university over the matter. "As no complaint has been received, no investigation has taken place," a spokesman said.
....The university yesterday refused to say why no complaint was lodged with the police.

So

1. ANU did not contact the wallopers with complaints of death threats and refuses to tell us why and
2. Since the wallopers received no complaint, no investigation was undertaken.

Surely even you understand that. I don't know if police monotor press reports but they would be stupid if they didn't.

May 8, 2012 at 7:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

GrantB,
That report is over a year later. The first reporters said they contacted AFP who said they were aware of the threats. Not from prior press reports - there hadn't been any.

ACT Policing is a section of the AFP which handles community policing in the ACT, under contract to the ACT Government. They may well have not been involved. Another part of the AFP handles Commonwealth Gov't security. I think the earlier reporters contacted a different section of AFP.

May 8, 2012 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered Commenternick stokes

I read Nick Stokes examples which asks us to believe in death threats but they can only be described as hateful diatribes from sad inadequate people who likely feel powerless. Funnily enough the Guardian when reporting death threats at CRU gave similar examples which they were diligent enough to correctly label as “hate mail” but showed no other examples to back up the death threat claims. Admittedly this could be because of on-going police investigations, but they were not reported in the article much like the Australian case. So maybe like the Australian case no death threats that fit the description were reported to police?

Almost apropos of nothing but when I hear death threats and climate together I am reminded of Mexico, since I remember hearing that

Mexico is poised to become just the second country in the world to enshrine long-term climate targets into national legislation.

Well how forthright an ambitious is that? You have to be impressed no?

But then you also hear from Mexico about the number of journalists who have been threatened and killed by the drug barons there, and that this has successfully cowed the press and nations judicary into a standstill, and then you may wonder what the hell the priority there is.

Cheapening the standard of proof and pleading for special status. Why is that familiar?

Climate science really is the driving force in a race to the bottom in human standards: social, political, technical, and moral endeavour isn’t it?

May 8, 2012 at 9:01 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Nick Stokes

The important aspect of this little debate could be settled easily, show us the death threats.

Of course, given the heat and vituperation which is so widespread from the loonie left one would have to suspect a "set up" until a serious forensic investigation had been carried out to trace origins of any threats.....

BUT, in this case, no one is producing one shred of evidence that there were any death threats!

Therefore, in the context, reasonable people will believe this was all a cocked up exaggeration for propaganda purposes.

May 8, 2012 at 9:16 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Nick Stokes - ah, it all becomes clear, an internal cock-up by the Feds. Someone, unnamed and unknown, contacted another department of the Feds who kept it to themselves and didn't bother to mention it to ACT Policing but were happy to mention it to reporters when asked. They probably thought ACT Policing wouldn't be interested because as their web-site tells us their intelligence function is constricted to -


ACT Policing Intelligence

ACT Policing Intelligence provides a tactical intelligence capability to support police activities and to inform the ACT Policing executive on criminal behaviour within the ACT.

Principal services include:
•collecting, collating and analysing information to enable the identification of potential offences and offenders and the provision of intelligence to assist in investigations
•evaluating and assessing information to identify current and emerging criminal trends
providing timely and actionable intelligence to prevent acts or threats of terrorism, violence or unlawful behaviour
•employing a range of surveillance techniques and equipment to support intelligence collection
•evaluating information received from members of the public and law enforcement agencies to determine appropriate policing action

Obviously death threats at the national university within their area of operations would be of no interest to them. It's time you got on the blower to your local MP Nick, and got him to ask questions about the serious lack of communication within the AFP.

May 8, 2012 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

johanna (2:12AM) - sure looks like you have captured some unedifying features of those people there, and in your other, linked-to, comment. It is so hard to find anyone admirable on their side of the 'debate'. I'm finding it very hard to anyway.

I'm not looking for spectacularly good, or saintly. Just ordinary straightforward open honest decency, free of ulterior motives or hidden agendas, free of deceit or deliberate spin, free of kowtowing to the establishment, making a substantial effort to grasp key issues, and with at least a hint of backbone when presented with scary scenarios. I keep seeing smarm, holier-than-thou attitudes, aggressive smugness, malevolent intentions, love of 'authority', irresponsible scaremongering - leading in some cases to the deliberate frightening of young children, and superficial closed-mind 'science'. Not often in the same person, I am glad to say.

We are in age when the destruction of industrial civilisation is being casually promoted by some, and assiduously promoted by others. Erich Fromm described the very worst of this in his Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. One tell-tale sign he noted of the destructive personality trait was the tendency to submit in a servile unquestioning way to those they regard as above them (either real people with power, or an imagined deity/guiding force), and to treat those beneath them with ruthless contempt. The 20th century has several examples of the hideous results when people with that as a dominant trait gain huge amounts of political and military power. In every case, as with some millenarian cults in the more distant past, I think there was a call that the present order must be heartlessly destroyed in order for the promised sunlit uplands to be attained in due course by the faithful and the enlightened.

This may seem melodramatic in the context of discussing climatology, and indeed that ought to be the case. But there is little doubt that people with strong, society-wrenching, authoritarian political ambitions would not hesitate to exploit widely propagated speculations about climate disasters. I don't for a moment think you/we are generally dealing with/ discussing/referring to such people here on this blog, but I do worry that there may be many people that seem, wittingly or otherwise, capable of helping them along.

We have seen how trashy emails can be hyped up into 'death-threats' to serve the cause. We have seen how forged documents have been deployed to try to do likewise. We have seen ugly propaganda in the form of 10:10's 'No Pressure' as a sign of just how demented some would-be useful idiots have become. We have seen no end of abuse ('deniers' , 'shills', and suchlike), and occasional calls for repressive action against the non-believers.

How long before real outrages will be tried to produce the 'chaos' and the public backlash that would be helpful to the extremists? They purport to have a planet to save after all, and since Mother Nature steadfastly refuses to show any cause for alarm associated with CO2, some nutters in their midst might want to find other ways to alarm the public and thereby facilitate power-grabs or suppression of dissent. As more and more people see through the hype, time is running out for them.

May 8, 2012 at 9:55 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

This sad episode has an eerie parallel with how all of the C-AGW debates seem to proceed, except that in this case it should be such an elementary matter to produce the EVIDENCE that is alleged to exist.

In the climate science issues there can be myriad arguments about what constitutes proper evidence and analysis, but in this case it should be a simple matter to resolve.

You (ANU and allies) want to the world to believe there were death threats..... produce..... the..... evidence!

This is not some arcane matter, too difficult to understand and reach agreement on what constitutes adequate evidence. If there were emailed death threats as claimed the public should be able to read them. Produce them, or admit that this was a cock-up fraud on the public.

[sure, there could be debatable "borderline" cases about whether references to violence constitute a "credible death threat" or not, but so far this case seems to be a lot of hot air]

May 8, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

I hope that my following comments aren't moderated into oblivion, they are intended to act as examples of the messages causing such confusion in the minds of some CAGW advocates...

If I write to, say, Nick Stokes and tell him that "Mr Stokes, you are a weapons-grade bell-end" this is, in law, common abuse which is not actionable in English law as libel or slander.

If I write "Mr Stokes, I know where you live and I'm going to come round with my shotgun and kill you" this is a death threat and would, probably, be considered seriously by the local plod.

See the distinction?

Now, in the hopes of injecting a touch of empiricism into this blather, two things come to mind..

First, if I was going to kill you, would I warn you first? Thus giving you time to arrange your affairs so as to make this much more difficult or near-impossible, get protection, etc. and at the same time start an "audit trail" that might lead to my arrest.

Second, I've just spent a few happy minutes trying to track down any cases of people being murdered after receiving death threats, and found that instances of it appear to be vanishingly rare. The only one that Google tipped up was that of the odd little MI6 chappie who was found dead in a holdall who had apparently been receiving death threats to his work email. OTOH that could be quite normal for the 006 and 7/8ths brigade, I don't know. I would guess that in places with a very high murder rate simple coincidence could account for the occasional case, but I couldn't find one.

So, to sum (Milud), there's a big difference between abuse and death threats and the latter are virtually never serious, though they may be very upsetting.

I rest my case.

May 8, 2012 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterPogo

Pogo

First, if I was going to kill you, would I warn you first?

It would happen if you wanted to influence behaviour with the threat e.g. "stop doing something or else" see the Mexico example I mentioned above, where drug barons have effectively stopped investigative reporting of drug crime with a few brave exceptions. There is similar cases to made about abortion doctors and animal researchers, yet there is no real evidence of this happening in climate science. As I say the death threat claims appear, like a lot of presentation in the climate realm, to involve a lot of lowering and cheapening of thresholds.

May 8, 2012 at 10:25 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Skiphil, the university is refusing to release the emails, although they were obliged to show them to the FOI investigator who said there were no death threats in them. Sounds like they are taking their cues from Penn State.

May 8, 2012 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

Johanna

Thanks I do understand that .... but my point to all the alarmists is that they must either demand that the evidence be released or else sthu about this affair .... the matter is in principle easily examined by any English-literate person. It is the ANU that is preventing it from being conclusively resolved. It is a ludicrous situation to have the Nick Stokes types caviling about all of the "he said she said" when the key facts are easily established for the public, if ANU really cares about the facts.

Therefore they must be made to see that if they do not provide public evidence for their claims they lose all credibility.

May 8, 2012 at 10:55 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

After watching this latest storm in a teacup blow up in the faces of the Australian University I was struck by the ridiculous attempts by Nick Stokes to muddy the waters further, his lengthy list of e-mails on this own goal are a masterpiece in misdirection, straw-man arguments and context free comments.

What I cannot fathom is how a supposedly intelligent scientist thinks that this sort of behaviour will aid his narrative?, surely after his claims were exposed as nonsensical he would have beat a dignified retreat rather than behave in the manner of a ostrich.

As for the so called death threats it seems that the PR strategy for these scientists to attempt to smear their critics has been shown for the despicable and cynical stunt it clearly was, what should also be addressed is the timing of the announcement on the death threats and of course the behaviour of the universities senior management. It seems that as night follows day we are treated to outlandish claims by climate scientists that are within days debunked, yet time after time the media takes the bait hook, line and sinker.

May 8, 2012 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

"Skiphil, the university is refusing to release the emails, although they were obliged to show them to the FOI investigator who said there were no death threats in them. Sounds like they are taking their cues from Penn State."

Johanna, you are poorly informed here. "Obliged to show them to the FOI investigator" is a strange way to describe what was a hearing and decision by the Privacy Commissioner, as a delegate of the Australian Information Commissioner. The Commissioner ordered their release, with redacting. ANU is not "refusing to release them"; it has 28 days in which to decide whether to appeal the decision. It will surely comply with whatever decision is eventually made.

The commissioner did not say there were no death threats; he said that of one
"In my view, the exchange as described in the email could be regarded as intimidating and at its highest perhaps alluding to a threat."
Now OK, maybe it was merely breaking legs or something - we aren't told.

Finally, I'm not aware of Penn State refusing to release emails - I think you're thinking of University of Virginia.

May 8, 2012 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered Commenternick stokes

Nick, it looks like you've tossed in the sponge over your interesting theory of one branch of the AFP not passing on death threats to another branch that is actually based in the ANU region.

Thank goodness for that. You had me worried there for a while.

May 8, 2012 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

Grant,
I don't know where you get that from, but the headquarters of AFP is just across the lake, certainly less than 10km from ANU, And if you want the full story on police division of responsiblity re AFP, it's here. Note that threats against a Commonwealth official explicitly go to AFP, not ACT Policing. And ANU is established by Act of Commonwealth Parliament.

May 8, 2012 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered Commenternick stokes

Grant,
To explain that last - I was away for a bit, and saw your later post first. But in the spirit of your embedded information, which I applaud, here's the AFP advice:
Examples of Commonwealth crimes - report these to the AFP
....
Threats against a Commonwealth official

Examples of State or Territory crimes – report these to your local police
....

May 8, 2012 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

Nick, you said "They (AFP Policing) may well have not been involved" and "I think the earlier reporters contacted a different (to AFP Policing) section of AFP". I suggest that this is your fanciful interpretation based, on the references you have provided so far, on no facts whatsoever.

Yes I know where the AFP HQ is, it was right next to the Australian Crime Commission HQ when I worked at the ACC as an intelligence analyst some years ago. It has now relocated. I find it extraordinary that you are suggesting that AFP HQ received (somehow from someone) information on death threats at ANU and then did not pass it on to APF Policing whose priciple intelligence services in the ACT include -

•providing timely and actionable intelligence to prevent acts or threats of terrorism, violence or unlawful behaviour

The only reason I could see for not sharing this intelligence was that they considered it total nonsense in the first place. Even then, I would have passed it on, if only at an information rather than operational briefing. But you obviously know more about criminal intelligence than I do these days so it's over and out from me Blue Leader.

May 8, 2012 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

Well, Grant, I don't know who shared information with who. What I do know is that:
1. The original reporters, before publishing their story, checked with AFP who said, yes, we know about it.
2. A year later, reporters from the Australian asked ACT Policing (local) if it had been reported to them, and they said no.
3. The police web site says report threats to Commonwealth officials to the AFP and not to local police.

Sounds to me as if someone followed the instructions and reported to AFP.

May 8, 2012 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered Commenternick stokes

Nick ..

I think you are reading too much into that original article. The AFP are 'aware about threads' means nothing more than exactly those words. It is a several times relayed story, through some interviewer and and interviewee (media spokesperson) at the AFP, through the AAP and finally the CanberraTimes.

Taken at face value, and if it is (hopefully) true, it only says that the AFP is aware of threats. Those could be of any kind, must not be related to ANU, and could also be in response to either the interviewers questions, or informal questions to the police about what considers a 'threat' ..

You need to be careful when reading what is actually claimed. Reporters, and media, especially of the sensationalist variety will always phrase their stories to sound a little (or quite a) bit more than there actually is, and doing so without writing checkable falsehoods. More specifically, the story did not say:

"checked with AFP who said, yes, we know about it"

It said that they were aware of threats, unspecified. Furthermore, your link definitely did not say that it was reported, it actually said (by omission) the exact opposite .. As I said above, the reporter and the interview probably asked and lasted much more than what we were told in the CT-article, and had their beef been more beefy, it would (very likely) have been included ..

I know that what 'it sounds to you' is of course whatever you can fill in between what you actually know and can shopw .. but that's just how much 'journalism' works nowadays, telling a sellable storry, to those who buy it ..

May 8, 2012 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N

Nick, you seem to have forgotten the rule about holes and digging.

A member of the ANU staff is not 'a Commonwealth official', so it would have been a matter for the local branch of the cops. That said, since all AFP personnel in Canberra have to protect everyone whether they are 'Commonwealth officials' or not (how do you tell by looking?) I just don't buy your fine distinction about one lot not telling another. They knew about it because it is their job to track media reports and gossip and websites, where the bleatings were much discussed. But, the university itself admits that it never made a formal complaint.

The ANU had the opportunity to release the emails prior to the FOI investigator, who happens to be from the Privacy Commission - so what - was brought in. They declined, while maintaining that the threats were real, even though neither the VC nor anybody else admits to having ever verified them or even read them. They had the option of releasing them during the investigation - no dice. They then had the option of releasing them after the investigation - still a wall of silence. Next, you will be telling us that they have been totally vindicated and are defending academic freedom.

As for the Penn State reference, I was referring to the culture of coverup which extends right to the President (VC) of the university when embarrassing facts come to light. Chubb not only supported the bogus complainants, he and his successor have done all they can to prevent the facts from coming out.

Time to quit the Black Knight routine.

May 8, 2012 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

So Nick have you the actual "death threats" in hand to post and/or even the police report number? Just prove your claim. Given the history of AGW advocates the animus of proof now lies with you.

May 8, 2012 at 3:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterLamontT

The commissioner did not say there were no death threats; he said that of one
"In my view, the exchange as described in the email could be regarded as intimidating and at its highest perhaps alluding to a threat."
Now OK, maybe it was merely breaking legs or something - we aren't told.

Mr Stokes you are becoming more and more like Humpty Dumpty (a word can mean whatever I want it to mean). You are only literally correct in that the Commissioner did not use the actual words "there were no death threats". However what he said in different words, which you seem to agree with, was that there were no death threats. Perhaps you also believe that 2 + 2 is not 4?

May 8, 2012 at 6:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Mr Stokes you are becoming more and more like Humpty Dumpty (a word can mean whatever I want it to mean). You are only literally correct in that the Commissioner did not use the actual words "there were no death threats". However what he said in different words, which you seem to agree with, was that there were no death threats. Perhaps you also believe that 2 + 2 is not 4?

May 8, 2012 at 6:03 PM | Arthur Dent>>>>

Post normal science does seem to rely on a somewhat different view of the world the rest of us inhabit. So why not it's advocates?

May 8, 2012 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterRKS

Nick, Mum said it's time for you to get off the computer and have a bath. It's a school night.

May 8, 2012 at 8:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterDick Stokes

Context is also important. These are Australian emails, in an Australian political context. Yes they are very blunt, aggressive, and in parts disgusting and offensive. Welcome to Australian politics.

An example:

"…what a joke you wankers are! There will be a day of facing the music for the [clipped] type frauds. What a fucking idiot, the last decade has been the hottest in recorded history….. [clipped] you are a fucking fool!" Remove the two F words and this could easily have been a quote from Hansard.

I think some of these delicate academic petals didn't realise they were in political debate. When you are actively campaigning to ruin my children's economic future you are in the political realm. I may also swear at you in debate.

May 8, 2012 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Won A Bagel

not sure where to post this Bish, but want u to see it:

9 May: Andrew Bolt: On being abused by Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics
Former Greens candidate Professor Clive Hamilton is furious:
Who would have thought the Melbourne Theatre Company would get into bed with Andrew Bolt?...
Yet in response to the MTC staging a play with the sceptic as a hero, Hamilton lets fly with a truly extraordinary stream of abuse:
...discredited ... rat-bags ... denier .. conspiracy theorists ... fossil-fuel industry hatchet men ... cyber-bullies ... shit-spreaders ... shock jocks ... bullshit ... insidious ... grubbier ... distortion ... cowardly ... artistic wanking ... poison ... slippery falsehoods ... travesty.
Wow. You’d laugh at the hypocrisy - this very epitome of the rabid shock-jockery Hamilton imagines in his foes - if Hamilton didn’t also stoop to the most vicious smearing of the playwright:
Perhaps Richard Bean’s next project will be The Heretic 2, another “funny, provocative and heart-warming family drama” in which the maverick academic David Irving, lone defender of the truth, uncovers definitive evidence that the Holocaust never happened. Sent to Coventry by his fellow historians — a spineless lot who have for years been manipulating the evidence to protect their funding and their reputations — David is in the end vindicated; the Holocaust was a Zionist plot after all...
http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/ormer_greens_candidate_professor_clive_hamilton_is_furious/

May 9, 2012 at 12:42 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

OK, ANU has posted the documents, with a lot of redactions. Doc_5.pdf is the one describing the threatening one. Someone "took exception" to a talk on climate change at a meeting:
"Moreover, before he left, he came to the Fri dinner and showed other participants his gun licence and explained to them how good a sniper he is."

Definite overtones of mortality there.

May 9, 2012 at 1:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

If some bastard sent me a death threat in the mail, particularly email, there are two things I'd do IF I was worried about it:

1. Report it to the police;

2. Subject to police approval let all and sundry see the emails in case there's anyone out there who can recognise the syntax as belonging to the bed-threater.

As far as I'm aware there have been no complaints to the police from any scientist that they have received death threats. Moreover they are amazingly shy and won't let anyone see them.

As for Santer's fantasy, well he seemed to big himself up as a hard case in the climategate emails, wishing he could meet Dr. Michaels and teach him a lesson, so what's he worried about? I would have thought if someone was going to kill you, for any reason, the last thing they'd do is send you a note telling you they were going to do it. E-mail death threats in the angloshpere, of which there appear to be none to climate scientists, would be sent by wimps intending to frighten people.

May 9, 2012 at 1:31 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

ANU has now released the emails, with redactions. I've put up a post on my blog with a link to a zipfile containing them.

May 9, 2012 at 2:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

I think the bottom line here that is clear here is that a “death threats” being reported by the media have a lower threshold they they do by the judiciary. Once you realise that a willing media will report on "death threats" and not inquire too deeply beyond getting a quote from a police authority that “it is aware that threats have been made” then the spin is in and no further sweat is needed.

Speaking as someone who originally assumed that death threats really existed I seriously doubt they did now. Having read of many other cases where police are either quoted as saying they are taking the threats seriously, or the person threatened complains that the police are not taking the threats seriously, I see instead here a curious passiveness in the reporting from both media and victim. This seems to be backed by the case shown by the FOI revelations, i.e. that they can’t actually muster evidence that death threats existed.

I think this is quite a shaming thing really and the sophistry employed by Nick Stokes in correcting people down to the fine detail on such things as geographic positioning but yet ignoring the required evidence of death threats, or showing no innate curiosity for real evidence, is quite wretched.

May 9, 2012 at 7:44 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Nick Stokes:

Just seen your last comment pop up after posting mine. Thanks for providing the reference I've read them all now and frankly I find many of them hardly come up to standard of hate mail.

I mean, the whole "threat" in one email is this single line:

Mate ,That report is the biggest load of rubbish I have ever seen.


The actual "threat" threat of the 11 turns out to be hearsay. No context is given in the report of the words so why is the onus on the ajudicator to interpret it any other way than it could have been an innocent comment?

See for yourselves:

Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2010 6:26 AM


Dear All,
Looks like we've had our first serious threat of physical violence. It has come from a participant in [redacted] deliberative democracy project last weekend. One of the participants left early after he too[k] exception to my talk about climate science. [redacted] exact words were:

"Moreover, before he left, he came to the Fri dinner and showed other participants his gun licence and explained to them how good a sniper he is. Because he didn't attend day 2 he will not be allowed to attend the final day. I will be notifying security to be on hand in case he turns up and causes a problem."

I think the final day is this weekend but I am not sure. Anyway, I've asked [redacted] to brief the VC and the head of security ASAP. The latter will determine whether this should go to the AFP or not.

But in the meantime, we should be careful about anyone we don't know who approaches our offices.

BTW it seems likely that the security guy did notify the AFP here and that is the source of the "threat" that the AFP were "aware" of. If so, I note then that this didn't become "and we are taking it seriously" as a death threat.

This is the strongest evidence of a threat here. Of the rest -Docs 2 and Docs 7 - are the same comment repeated, and the worst for abuse, it seemed to be repeated by some guy who hated yuppies "economies are fckd because of stupid schemes like yours" the rest live up to the standard of telling ANU people they should get a proper job - Oh! the humanity!

I found this one intriguing, dated June 16 2011 responding to an email headed:

Re: Important request threats to ANU researchers

Hi [redacted]

The only insulting phone call I have received was just after the release of [redacted] latest Science Reoport from a man who said he was [redacted] on [redacted] "re[redacted] is uneducated, has never worked like the real people and recieves handouts from all us taxpayers."

I thanked him for his phone call and left it at that.

Best wishes[redacted]

So it looks like there was some effort put in for a trawl for evidence not just for selected people from an FOI but for "ANU researchers" and that is the best they could come up with.

May 9, 2012 at 8:28 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Haunting the Library has found some reports confirming the terrorising of scientists. His final paragraph is:

'So the question “Is there a climate of fear? Is there a campaign of intimidation against scientists?” has one clear, unequivocal, unarguable answer: Yes, but it’s not coming from sceptics but from the fringes of the environmental movement. A handful of annoyed emails from global warming sceptics is not even comparable in scale or concern with the literally thousands of documented terrorist attacks by extreme environmental activists. Not that you’d know from reading the mainstream media.'

Much more at: http://hauntingthelibrary.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/climate-of-fear-terror-campaign-against-scientists-very-real/

May 9, 2012 at 8:57 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Leopard,
ANU isn't providing a selection that they think makes their case. They are producing all the material that is responsive to the FOI application. That asked for all emails containing abusive, threats etc.

I agree that one barely qualifies. But what happens here, as you can see in the materials, is that they send out a request to staff to provide what they have. Once someone has sent it in, it's hard for anyone to exclude it. So it stays. After all, they are supposed to err on the side of the public's right to know.

May 9, 2012 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

Leopard,
"The actual "threat" threat of the 11 turns out to be hearsay. No context is given in the report of the words so why is the onus on the ajudicator to interpret it any other way than it could have been an innocent comment?"

The onus is on everyone involved in the case to evaluate the risk. Not to find that it is certain that someone would die. There is a big gap between the evidence required to convict someone and the evidence that requires taking precautions. For that, it doesn't matter if it's hearsay or ambiguous. ANU still has to see if there is a risk of harm.

Of course, threats will mostly be ambiguous. "Nice kids you have there" - that sort of thing. They achieve the effect. Precision doesn't add to the effect - it only helps the prosecution.

May 9, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

Re: nick stokes

>Of course, threats will mostly be ambiguous. "Nice kids you have there" - that sort of thing. They achieve the effect. Precision doesn't add to the effect - it only helps the prosecution.

Or like this one from Greenpeace:

We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work. And we be many, but you be few.

May 9, 2012 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Thanks for posting the emails Nick. Now, let's have a look:

July 2011 - someone is very angry at the recipient for sheeting home deaths in recent bushfires to climate change (and this did happen - very distasteful). This person is in favour of renewable energy. No threats whatsoever.
June 2011 - what we in Australia call a 'spray' - abusive, but when I was reading letters to Ministers for a living, these were a dime a dozen. No threats.
May 2011 - threatens academics with having to find a real job when the climate scam ends. The horror!
June 2011 - no threats, but cites Jo Nova extensively!
June 2011 - this is the report about the guy who allegedly showed someone his gun licence and 'took exception' to the message of one of the talks at a seminar. It is an uncorroborated hearsay report, but the events may well have occurred as described. Unfortunately, despite it being described a a 'threat of violence' no attempt seems to have been made to verify it or follow it up.
May 2011 - a technical argument about the tropical 'hot spot'. Not even a hint of violence.
June 2011 - basically a rerun of the abusive spray above, probably from the same person.
June 2011 - another 'get a real job, you parasite' rant, possibly from the same person as the May 2011 one above. No threats.
May 2011 - it says, in full "Mate ,That report is the biggest load of rubbish I have ever seen."
June 2011 - reports an undated phone call where someone is accused of being uneducated and having never worked like real people and receives handouts from taxpayers.
June 2011 - a critical reaction to media reports about the 'death threats' which reiterates sentiments expressed by many blog posters about tactics such as the 'exploding children' video and pressure on scientists to conform to AGW. The language is vehement, but there is no cussing and certainly no threats.

And that's it, folks. For this, people got shiny new offices and lots of publicity about thuggish behaviour by 'deniers'.

As I mentioned above, Ministers get stronger stuff than this every day of the week, and I imagine that Anthony Watts and other high profile anti-CAGW personalities would thank their lucky stars if this was the tenor of what their critics send them regularly.

What a farce.

May 9, 2012 at 10:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

Nick Stokes

The onus is on everyone involved in the case to evaluate the risk. Not to find that it is certain that someone would die. There is a big gap between the evidence required to convict someone and the evidence that requires taking precautions. For that, it doesn't matter if it's hearsay or ambiguous. ANU still has to see if there is a risk of harm.

Of course, threats will mostly be ambiguous. "Nice kids you have there" - that sort of thing. They achieve the effect. Precision doesn't add to the effect - it only helps the prosecution.

Even at the worst interpretation that hearsay story is of someone known to many, who has made a comment in a public place that is witnessed, the cops must have weighed up whether it meant anything and whether to go round and ascertain his state of mind and so we must assume the AFP now know the extent of the risk. If that June 2010 incident is the whole source of the original story in June 2011, reporting "escalating" threats that needed secure accomodation and left everyone in fear, then you may understand why others would not be sympathetic to that interpretation.

ANU isn't providing a selection that they think makes their case. They are producing all the material that is responsive to the FOI application. That asked for all emails containing abusive, threats etc.

Well according to the originator the original FOI was worded:

Emails or telephone calls or messages to members of the Climate Change Institute containing abuse, threats to kill and/or threats of harm to the recipient.

If there are climate scientists that don't fit into the category of being "Climate Change Institute" members at ANU then I guess the university could have diligently excluded all examples of their threats from the list.

Are there many climate scientist of that category of not being in the CCI at ANU? I see a Climate Change Institute researchers members page that has an A-Z list with Q,U and X empty but I guess about an average 8 names each page (Z has 2) so it seems I can conclude that approximately 160 researchers there have not had any threats beyond those documented in the list of 11 documents in the FOI.

May 9, 2012 at 10:28 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Nick Stokes

BTW Just to pre-empt this. I reminded myself that you said this above

No. Simon Turnhill, a sceptic, asked for emails regarding six specific academics (out of 30 - his choice) over a six month period. That hardly covers it. And from that ANU was able to find 11 of which 10 were abusive, according to the Commissioner, and one was intimidating, with maybe a threat of harm.

So to be clearer and expand on what the FOI originator said on his web page:

http://www.australianclimatemadness.com/2012/05/anu-death-threat-claims-debunked-the-australian/

The request stated that I required copies of the following:


Emails or telephone calls or messages to members of the Climate Change Institute containing abuse, threats to kill and/or threats of harm to the recipient


and sent to any of six senior members of the ANU's Climate Change Institute within the previous six months.


Maybe you can be more specific about the flaw in naming the senior 6 people at the institute this way, I can only interpret that this FOI asks for any received threat that was brought to the attention of these senior people. Not just threats directed at these 6 specific senior people. This seems a reasonable assumption since the report of the threats to the media was clearly sanctioned at a senior level, and reported by the vice-chancellor as an escalation:

[Vice-chancellor Professor Ian Young] says it has been happening for the past six months and the situation has worsened significantly in recent weeks.

My emphasis above. BTW you may see why I find your "...over a six month period. That hardly covers it." a little strange. ;)

Again, if we are asked to assume that somehow real death threats were made but the only threats that were brought to the attention of the 6 senior people were the 11 now cited then that stretches credibility beyond acceptance in my book and I have to ask why this kind of stretchiness is being employed, but I always enjoy seeing it tried ;)

May 9, 2012 at 10:55 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

The TLITB

In the UK the Information Commissioner has stated (cant find the reference at the moment, might have been in evidence to HoC) that FOI requests should be interpreted in the widest possible sense. If it is the same in Australia then your interpretation would be the correct one.

May 9, 2012 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Leopard,
"Maybe you can be more specific about the flaw in naming the senior 6 people at the institute this way, I can only interpret that this FOI asks for any received threat that was brought to the attention of these senior people."

I'm not sure what you are on about with the scope of the request. I followed what was stated in the hearing:
On 5 June 2011, the applicant made a freedom of information request to the ANU. The scope of this request was determined by the ANU to be:
... emails, transcripts of telephone calls or messages that contain abuse, threats to kill and/or threats of harm to the recipient
... sent to [six named staff or representatives] of the Climate Change Institute
... within the last six months.

That was what the hearing used.

May 9, 2012 at 11:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

Nick Stokes

That was what the hearing used.

Er, yeah, not sure what your point is you seem unwilling to be clearer. I see from the resultant 11 documents and your re-iteration of the scope, that emails and transcripts of threats that were seen by the 6 named guys/gals were required. Only these 11 where found, remember the worst "threat" was described thus:

One document, again in the form of an email, contains a recollection of an exchange which occurred during an off-campus event sponsored by members of the Climate Change Institute and other governmental agencies. The ANU responded to the conduct and comments described in the email as a security threat.

So we know the ANU interpreted that they should include an email to one of the six who was included on an email thread involving a "recollection" it is possible he/she and the five others where blind to any other threatening information besides the 11 documents shown, but that would strike any reasonable person as curious why "recollections" of death threats never made their inbox.

Also we know ANU sought exemption of the 11 documents using 37(1)(c) of the FOI Act claiming they: "endanger the life or physical safety of any person"

Since the ANU consider these known emails fit this description, we now know how low their threshold is. No wonder they have been busy obfuscating in this way. Thanks!

May 9, 2012 at 12:11 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

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