‘I’m good at playing both sides so I must be telling the truth’

Sometimes, when an issue starts to unfold, aspects of reality that usually lie hidden come unraveling and insights are obtained (for an explanation of the concept of ‘protection’, see Robert Laughlin). This painful and disruptive public situation however cannot persist for long—the energies of people whose natural rhythms and livelihoods that are thus disturbed, exert powerful counteracting forces trying to restore the ‘status-quo’.

But the brief window when revelation occurs, is always an interesting period particularly because participants experience an extended state of indeterminacy – will the change escalate outward in ever-increasing circles of destruction and reorganization of power structures, or will it implode and collapse leaving just small scars behind? Sometimes it can be very hard to tell!

If you are a chronicler, in such moments you can go with your moral instincts, say ‘damn the consequences’ and speak your mind. Though he left his own words in the lurch later, George Monbiot did that. Or perhaps you can say ‘I don’t know which side is going to come out on top, so I am going to wait and see, and then jump onto that side’.

Journalist Keith Kloor did the latter. On Nov 20 2009,, three days after the CRU emails were released, Kloor experienced his moment of indeterminacy. He thought that it was “too early to jump to any conclusions”, and advised climate scientist Michael Tobis that he ought to “wait to see if the story has legs, as they say in the business”. His instincts told him that the ‘series of devastating revalations would be hard to ignore’. Infact, they took him so far as to say:

…all in all, I’d be shocked if the media didn’t follow up on this and start poking around.

It has been about a year and a half since the original story broke.  There has been no ‘following up’, no digging, or no ‘poking around’. There has been no asking even of the ‘who, why’ and the ‘how’ about the email release, from the media, something Kloor thought would happen. There has been no poking around by Kloor himself either, even if he did not see his colleagues bite into the details.

Indeed as a result of not poking around, the understanding Kloor displays of the real nature of the scandal that Climategate is, can be termed close to zero. Examine his prolific output: you will not find a single post where he examines a single question raised by the email revelations. Where is the basic sense of the curious here? Did anything wrong occur in Climategate? No one would know if they were to read Kloor.

On the other hand, via this circuitous process of slow evasion, we’ve reached a stage where Kloor called James Delingpole a buffon for making up his own mind about actions that were revealed by Climategate.

The lack of any digging from some quarters notwithstanding, the fallout from Climategate continues to roll on. Michael Mann’s former employer is said to have spent $500,000 in preventing his emails from the early 2000s from being released to the public. The American Tradition Institute and Chris Horner have overcome such obstacles and obtained the right to view these emails via FOI. Why won’t it going away?

Since Kloor is an environmental journalist, perhaps a certain kind of an allegory would make sense to him.

Biosphere 2 was a self-contained sealed ecologic experiment conducted in the Arizona desert in the early 90s, whose only problem, it is said, was that it failed. What is meant by ‘failure’ is that that a certain ideal of a self-contained world was not realized, and something else happened. Writes Adam Curtis:

At the end of Biosphere 2 the ants destroyed the cockroaches. They then proceeded to eat through the silicone seal that enclosed the world. Through collective action the ants worked together and effectively destroyed the existing system. They then marched off into the Arizona desert. ….

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4 comments

  1. omnologos

    Yes…the damning evidence is not in the fact that the Kloors of this world haven’t been persuaded that there is something very fishy about UEA and AGW.

    The damning evidence is the fact that they have not even attempted to explain why they were not persuaded.

    Buffoon is as buffoon does.

  2. hro001

    “you will not find a single post where [Kloor] examines a single question raised by the email revelations”

    Yes, this is something I had noticed. And I’ve often wondered whether he was choosing to bury his head in the sand – or whether he really had looked at the Climategate emails (and found they were worse than he thought?!), but wasn’t willing to take the flak he knew he would get if he wrote (truthfully) about them.

    I rarely go to Kloor’s blog anymore because his antipathy to those who do not ascribe to the C02->CAGW mantra is so predictable (and increasingly palpable, IMHO).

    I went back and looked at the thread you linked to above; and once again I laughed when I saw his non-responsive replies to any who challenged his depiction of Delingpole’s comment wrt peer review (my own included!)

    Your own observation on (I’m pretty sure it was) that thread to the effect that hell hath no fury as a journalist scorned was right on the mark. But I suspect he’s never forgiven you for it … and perhaps that’s why he’ll use the slightest excuse to rap your virtual knuckles while letting those of the alarmist persuasion continue to have unreproached free rein.

  3. hro001

    And speaking of Kloor vs Delingpole … I’m sure you’ll recall that he declared that Delingpole was “too lazy”. Yet over at Judith Curry’s, today Kloor writes:

    Here again, though, let me say that beat journos only have so much time in the day and have to make decisions on how much time to spend talking on the phone or emailing sources, chasing down leads, reading the latest studies, etc, etc.

    Perhaps only those whom Kloor agrees are permitted to make such “decisions” about how they spend their time 😉

  4. Shub Niggurath

    Yes That is kind of funny.

    So, as per Kloor, all the journalists who do some real digging-around and investigating are just ‘lazy’ or ‘buffoons’ because they dont read journal papers, and all the real journalists cannot perform any investigative work because they are too busy reading peer-reviewed journal papers.

    !