Whistleblower Inducements

January 11, 2010

Now that the semester is kicking back into gear, I’m finally digging out of my backlog, reading through old blogs and catching up on all the delicious bad reasoning that I’ve missed. I just got a fantastic kick out of this bit of pipe-dreamery from James Delingpole.

Delingpole seems to think that because the US has a law rewarding whistleblowers handsomely for blowing whistles, that therefore this will spell doom and disaster for Michael Mann and most of the climate researchers in the United States. (I’m giving benefit of doubt to Delingpole that this law exists. I’m not a lawyer. I have no idea if it exists. If it does, it’s a pretty serious law. Yay, millions of bucks for simply saying that your colleagues have done something dishonest with federal funds. You don’t even need to prove it!)

I suppose only time will tell on this one, but it seems to me that precisely because the US has this law, if nobody comes forward, then we have yet one more very strong reason to trust the research. Namely, with all that cabbage hanging out on a Deling’s fishingpole, no takers either means no trickery or that there is some seriously rich and nefarious Lex Luthor character pulling strings at Penn State. Delingpole is just hoping beyond hope that someone will come forward and claim the money because he believes that there is criminal chicanery going on.

Perhaps the appropriate counter-challenge is due: if nobody steps up to claim the money, might we stop this silly charade and STFU?


  1. I agree. When I read Delingpole’s comments it sounded like wishful thinking to me.

    However I disagree that if nobody comes forward that this provides any evidence for trusting the research.

    Further research will either confirm or contradict Mann’s research – and the willingness of anybody to voluntarily disclose their email communications has nothing to do with that.

    • It’s not that it provides evidence. That’s the wrong way to think of it. It’s that offers strength to the claim that the research ought to be trusted. Big difference.

  2. Well, of course all research we don’t like is untrustworthy forever and ever. No matter how many times it seems to be confirmed, that next paper may be the one to undo things entirely. Myself, I’m waiting patiently for the Second Law of Thermodynamics to go down. It’s only a matter of time.

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