Leftwing Drama Queen Scientists
The leftwing-activist Union of Concerned Scientists may have done more harm than good to its favored cause, global warming. It released a letter signed by 800 Virginia scientists urging the state's attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, to drop his taxpayer fraud investigation directed at the University of Virginia's records of Climategate figure Michael Mann.
Cuccinelli, who received a Bachelors of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia, is showing no signs of favoritism to his alma mater.
The scientists' letter is long on drama, and devoid of substance. Its gist is that the laws of the universe -- or at least the civil laws of Virginia -- should not apply to scientists because . . . well, because they are scientists. The letter reads in part:
Science thrives on rigorous debate and a frank exchange of differing ideas and perspectives. The freedom of scientists to openly disagree and discuss critical scientific topics has brought Virginia and the United States prosperity and global leadership in science. Research shows that scientific discovery is held back when government officials harass scientists.
Of course, public policy, religion, economics, indeed all areas of thought, conscience and prosperity, also thrive on rigorous debate and frank exchange.
Earth to scientists: government officials have been harassing people without PhDs for a long time.
The Virginia investigation, however, isn't about probing science's boundaries or honest mistakes; it is about whether Professor Mann intentionally misrepresented or omitted material facts to procure a taxpayer grant. The standards of the law are higher than those of science in this matter. Fraud is not protected by the First Amendment, and is not an academic liberty.
Scientists who believe they are above the law fit nicely into the self-indulgent, elitist paradigm against which a backlash is brewing. People who aren't ideological detractors of all things conservative are supportive of the investigation and skeptical of the motives of its critics.
As Dr. S. Fred Singer wrote, "ClimateGate is a much more serious issue than simply sloppiness and ideological distortion; ClimateGate suggests conspiracy to commit fraud." Ironically for the UCS, its letter to Cuccinelli supports Dr. Singer's observation far more than refutes it.