Blogger vs Big Media, part 2

Tim Blair has posted emails from Ted Lapkin and Andrew Bolt who object to a couple of my posts. Blair fails to provide links to the posts so that readers can determine whether Lapkin and Bolt have accurately described what happened.

Lapkin begins:

In November 2003, I argued in the pages of Quadrant magazine that the environmental movement is moral culpable for the deaths of 2 million Africans killed each year by malaria. In mid-February 2005, a left-wing blogger named Tim Lambert (Deltoid) accused me, and others, of participation in what he described as “The Great DDT Hoax”. Without going into all the gory details, the crux of the issue deals with the decision by Sri Lanka to cease using DDT during the mid-1960s.

My post showed, using multiple sources, that Sri Lanka did not stop using DDT in the mid 60s. They suspended the anti-malaria spraying in 1963 and resumed it in 1969. Agricultural use continued through the 60s. I suggested that Lapkin had been taken in by the hoax, not that he had orchestrated it.

Lapkin continues:

I remonstrated with Lambert in an email communication that I stipulated was for private consumption only, citing segments from my Quadrant piece that made his accusation factually unsustainable. But Lambert avoided the substance of my counter-argument like the plague. Instead, Lambert cut and pasted to his website the introductory portion of my email that expressed my desire to resolve this issue amicably rather than litigiously.

I did not find Lapkin’s argument persuasive and told him so. Nonetheless, I offered to post his email so my readers could decide for themselves. At the end (not the beginning) of his email Lapkin threatened me with legal action:

I would very much prefer, if possible, to keep things on an informal basis rather than a legal one. Thus this whole misunderstanding can be cleared up by a retraction and apology on your blog. In that event I would see no need to pursue matters further.

He clearly threatened legal action unless I retracted.

Lapkin:

Lambert accused me of threatening him, using my supposedly menacing verbiage as an excuse to disregard my explicit request that my email missive should remain in the private domain. And of course, through the gambit of playing the victim card, Lambert was able to sidestep my factual rebuttal of his hoax claim. How convenient.

I was able to sidestep his “rebuttal” because he refused to make it public. I really wanted to make it public but respected Lapkin’s wish that it be kept private.

Lapkin:

In light of Tim Lambert’s past behaviour, I have no confidence that he would not tamper with any comment that I submitted to his site. In order to ensure that my response to Lambert appeared in unaltered form, I appealed to the good offices of Tim Blair who kindly offered to feature my riposte on his weblog.

There are thousands of comments on my blog. My past behaviour clearly shows that I don’t tamper with comments. And I already had his comment—if I wanted to, I could have tampered with it and posted it.

And we get to the end of Lapkin’s email without him sharing his “factual rebuttal” of my post.

Next up, Andrew Bolt, who is responding to this post:

In particular, can you explain why, among your other deceits and misrepresentations, you said this:
Andrew Bolt, writing in the Melbourne Herald Sun offers this conclusive disproof of global warming: “Melbourne last week had its coldest February day on record, and its wettest day, which should surprise those still naive enough to believe our green gurus.”

I ask because I actually argued the very opposite in the article you quote, as you must have known. Hint: read its concluding paragraph, which states:

Of course, one bit of wild weather in our ever-changing climate doesn’t disprove the holy theory of global warming. But nor should green groups claim the odd cold snap proves it, either …”

Got it? You say I claim to offer a conclusive disproof. I in fact write that this “doesn’t disprove”. Is that simple enough for you?

Bolt’s sarcasm detector needs adjusting. I think it is quite obvious from my post that I did not believe that Bolt’s argument was a “conclusive disproof” of global warming. In fact, I described it as “lame”. When I called it “conclusive disproof” I was sarcastically implying that it was nothing remotely like that. Nowhere did I say that Bolt regarded his argument as “conclusive disproof”. To avoid further misunderstanding I have modified the post to remove the sarcasm and apologize to Andrew Bolt for writing something that could be misunderstood.

Comments

  1. #1 MrLefty
    March 19, 2005

    LOL. He’s an idiot, he really is. An APOLOGY? To BOLT?!

  2. #2 RonH
    March 19, 2005

    Having just read the post in which the sarcasm was “supposed to be quite obvious,” I say bs.

    The obvious thing thre is that you cherry-picked and cordoned off the quote to try to make Bolt look like an idiot.

    I understand though. I also feel good when I present arguments (specious or otherwise) that make other people seem hilariously wrong and myself exaltingly right.

  3. #3 RonH
    March 19, 2005

    Oh, and when it’s specious, it sure sucks to get caught. That’s when you really have to be on your toes so you can talk your way out of it.

  4. #4 Richard Blaine
    March 19, 2005

    If you get to ban abusive posters, why do you deny that right to Mr. Blair?

  5. #5 Ajax B
    March 19, 2005

    If you do ban abusive posters why did I have to read the above?
    What these pantywaists will do, once it becomes too obvious to pretend or ignore that the climate’s gone bananas, when even the most cloistered agrophobes realize something’s up, is, they’ll say it’s too late to do anything about it.
    That’s really what it’s about. Not doing anything about it.
    The hellbound train is turning a profit, and it’s darling dear to the beneficiaries.
    My little anonymous cult group is sticking to the idea that it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees. Better that we face it doing what we can. Live fully.
    It isn’t the lies, it’s the cowardice that’s most disgusting.
    My cousin thinks they’re angling for keeping the tech-complexity whole long enough to invent and fabricate a star-drive.
    Me I think it’s more along the lines of they know they’re done for no matter what, so they’re trying to take it all down with them. It explains a lot that doesn’t make much sense otherwise. Selah.
    Cheers.

  6. #6 Ajax B
    March 19, 2005

    If you do ban abusive posters why did I have to read the above?
    What these pantywaists will do, once it becomes too obvious to pretend or ignore that the climate’s gone bananas, when even the most cloistered agrophobes realize something’s up, is, they’ll say it’s too late to do anything about it.
    That’s really what it’s about. Not doing anything about it.
    The hellbound train is turning a profit, and it’s darling dear to the beneficiaries.
    My little anonymous cult group is sticking to the idea that it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees. Better that we face it doing what we can. Live fully.
    It isn’t the lies, it’s the cowardice that’s most disgusting.
    My cousin thinks they’re angling for keeping the tech-complexity whole long enough to invent and fabricate a star-drive.
    Me I think it’s more along the lines of they know they’re done for no matter what, so they’re trying to take it all down with them. It explains a lot that doesn’t make much sense otherwise. Selah.
    Cheers.

  7. #7 Ajax B
    March 19, 2005

    If you do ban abusive posters why did I have to read the above?
    What these pantywaists will do, once it becomes too obvious to pretend or ignore that the climate’s gone bananas, when even the most cloistered agrophobes realize something’s up, is, they’ll say it’s too late to do anything about it.
    That’s really what it’s about. Not doing anything about it.
    The hellbound train is turning a profit, and it’s darling dear to the beneficiaries.
    My little anonymous cult group is sticking to the idea that it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees. Better that we face it doing what we can. Live fully.
    It isn’t the lies, it’s the cowardice that’s most disgusting.
    My cousin thinks they’re angling for keeping the tech-complexity whole long enough to invent and fabricate a star-drive.
    Me I think it’s more along the lines of they know they’re done for no matter what, so they’re trying to take it all down with them. It explains a lot that doesn’t make much sense otherwise. Selah.
    Cheers.

  8. #8 Ajax B
    March 19, 2005

    If you do ban abusive posters why did I have to read the above?
    What these pantywaists will do, once it becomes too obvious to pretend or ignore that the climate’s gone bananas, when even the most cloistered agrophobes realize something’s up, is, they’ll say it’s too late to do anything about it.
    That’s really what it’s about. Not doing anything about it.
    The hellbound train is turning a profit, and it’s darling dear to the beneficiaries.
    My little anonymous cult group is sticking to the idea that it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees. Better that we face it doing what we can. Live fully.
    It isn’t the lies, it’s the cowardice that’s most disgusting.
    My cousin thinks they’re angling for keeping the tech-complexity whole long enough to invent and fabricate a star-drive.
    Me I think it’s more along the lines of they know they’re done for no matter what, so they’re trying to take it all down with them. It explains a lot that doesn’t make much sense otherwise. Selah.
    Cheers.

  9. #9 E. Nough
    March 19, 2005

    Good grief — that last paragraph was so weaselly, it would make an actual weasel blush.

    Yeah, we all get it — you labeled the Bolt quote as “conclusive disproof” sarcastically — but the sarcasm clearly implied that Bolt considered a cold day in Melbourne as disproof of the global warming theory; that’s what made the alleged sarcasm allegedly funny. Yet the concluding paragraph, to which you tacitly own up and which you never quoted in your original “analysis,” clearly states that Bolt believed no such thing. Had you been honest and quoted it, it would have made your sarcasm look quite — what’s the word? — lame. Though, just for the record, not nearly as lame as your attempt to snow everyone after you got caught in this little episode of intellectual dishonesty.

    And after being publicly exposed, what is your so-called act of contrition? Well, let’s see, you “apologize to Andrew Bolt for writing something that could be misunderstood.” What a virtuoso maneuver: pretend to “apologize” but really, put the blame on Bolt and your audience, who are supposedly so dense as to “misunderstand” your now-obvious attempt to misrepresent what Bolt said.

    Well done, Professor! An all-around class act.

  10. #10 Dick Durata
    March 19, 2005

    After reading Bolt’s article, it’s clear he doesn’t need any help to make him look like an idiot.

  11. #11 Tim Lambert
    March 19, 2005

    “E Nough”, I think Bolt’s was a genuine misunderstanding, but you are wilfuly misreading what I wrote.

  12. #12 wbb
    March 19, 2005

    You are too generous, Tim. The intention of Bolt’s article was that his readers should agree that they all know that the weather is changeable and that’s all there is to it. That either there is nothing more to know, or if there is that science has nothing useful to tell us on the subject.

    His message is that mad greenies are behind an unscientific campaign to spook the horses of western capitalism.

    Subsequent parsing of the correct weight of the irony deployed in the to and fro is opportunistic sophistry. He asks you to back down on a technicality while the real error is his scant regard for what science has actually to say while he concentrates on the furtherance of his ideological cause.

  13. #13 jre
    March 20, 2005

    wbb, you said it better than I could.

    RonH and E. Nough, read what you just wrote and think for just a second about what the rest of us are to make of it. Tim either represented Bolt’s views fairly or he didn’t.

    If Bolt really did intend his article to be understood as undermining predictions of climate change, then Tim got it right and you are arguing in bad faith.

    If, as you suggest, Bolt meant his last sentence about the “the holy theory of global warming” in all earnest, then I suppose Tim is at fault.

    But if that is the case, one of us must have learned English on Mars.

  14. #14 Posse Incitatus
    March 20, 2005

    I’m trying to figure this sentence out:

    “I did not find Lapkin’s argument persuasive and told him so. Nonetheless, I offered to post his email so my readers could decide for themselves.”

    What it should say is: “I offered to post the REST of his email, after already violating his request for confidentiality.”

    You posted the part of the email that suited you against the author’s expressed wishes and then “offered” to post the rest – and were shocked! shocked! when he declined.

    Spare us the false politeness. You burned him and he called you on it and – big surprise here – has decided not to let you burn him again.

  15. #15 Winston
    March 20, 2005

    Ha! – the only thing RonH does is “feel good when I present arguments (specious or otherwise) that make other people seem hilariously wrong and myself exaltingly right” but, unfortunately for Ron, he’s not smart enough to understand the scientific arguments he often gets in return. With a less exalted view of his own intellect and an interest in getting a better education, Ron might learn something. Does this remind of Andrew Bolt as well? It’s easier to know it all like Ron and Andrew do than to do the work to educate yourself, and along the way learn a little about your own intellectual limitations. In Andrew’s case his masters wouldn’t be paying him for those lessons, of course.

    And Posse calls Tim impolite (oh dear).

    “I argued in the pages of Quadrant magazine that the environmental movement is moral culpable for the deaths of 2 million Africans killed each year” – Lapkin

    Then Lapkin the anti-left lapdog threatened to sue when his accusation of murder against “the environmental movement” was met with disapproval.

    Posse, better men than Lapkin defend themselves in open forums like this one everyday. Anti-leftwing lapdogs and fools find the flattery at Tim Blair’s more to their liking.

  16. #16 Tim Lambert
    March 20, 2005

    Posse, I did not post his threat and then offer to post the rest. The actual sequence was
    1. I sent him a copy of my post, because it criticised him.
    2. He replied, arguing that I was wrong and demanding a retraction and threatening me with legal action if I did not make one. He did not say that his email was not meant for posting.
    3. I wrote back, saying that he hadn’t persuaded me that I was wrong, but offering to post his email. I also asked him to provide a cite for his claim that Sri Lanka banned DDT in 1964.
    4. He wrote back saying that his email was a private communication. The rest of his email convinced me that arguing with him via email would be a waste of time.
    5. I was disturbed by his threat of legal action. Had he pulled this stunt on other bloggers? Would he try it again in future? Threats are not entitled to confidentiality, so I posted it. It would have suited me just fine to post the rest, since his argument was ludicrous, but I respected his request for confidentiality as much as I could.
    6. Notice how Lapkin does not mention that the reason why I “avoided” his argument was because he would not not let me make it public.

  17. #17 an objective observer
    March 20, 2005

    Tim. I have began following this argument yesterday on Tim Blair’s Blog. I have since been reading a lot on it, on your blog and others. Sorry, but that just won’t wash. Lapkin posted his rebuttal on Blair’s website because he said that he didn’t trust you not to alter it. Look in the comment thread, numbers 24 and 25. So his fact-based response has been in the public domain for over a day.

    You accuse Lapkin of saying that Sri Lanka folded to environmental pressure in mid 60s. But in his article specifically says that the global anti-DDT campaign only began in the 1970s. Seems to me that he has a valid point for complaint. A contributor to Blair’s Blog, who is a scientist, claimed you don’t know what you are talking about in relation to DDT because your academic background is not in that area, but in computing. Is this true? You also may wish to learn some semantics as I noticed sadly, that you used the word “Hoax” entirely out of context. If drawing attention to yourself was your aim in this attack on Lapkin and Bolt, then you certainly did that. But, you really need to consider once again the context: that is, you are now considered a lightweight who attempts to develop a reputation by destroying the reputation of others. Not a good look Tim.

  18. #18 an objective observer
    March 20, 2005

    Tim. I have began following this argument yesterday on Tim Blair’s Blog. I have since been reading a lot on it, on your blog and others. Sorry, but that just won’t wash. Lapkin posted his rebuttal on Blair’s website because he said that he didn’t trust you not to alter it. Look in the comment thread, numbers 24 and 25. So his fact-based response has been in the public domain for over a day.

    You accuse Lapkin of saying that Sri Lanka folded to environmental pressure in mid 60s. But in his article specifically says that the global anti-DDT campaign only began in the 1970s. Seems to me that he has a valid point for complaint. A contributor to Blair’s Blog, who is a scientist, claimed you don’t know what you are talking about in relation to DDT because your academic background is not in that area, but in computing. Is this true? You also may wish to learn some semantics as I noticed sadly, that you used the word “Hoax” entirely out of context. If drawing attention to yourself was your aim in this attack on Lapkin and Bolt, then you certainly did that. But, you really need to consider once again the context: that is, you are now considered a lightweight who attempts to develop a reputation by destroying the reputation of others. Not a good look Tim.

  19. #19 an objective observer
    March 20, 2005

    Tim. I have began following this argument yesterday on Tim Blair’s Blog. I have since been reading a lot on it, on your blog and others. Sorry, but that just won’t wash. Lapkin posted his rebuttal on Blair’s website because he said that he didn’t trust you not to alter it. Look in the comment thread, numbers 24 and 25. So his fact-based response has been in the public domain for over a day.

    You accuse Lapkin of saying that Sri Lanka folded to environmental pressure in mid 60s. But in his article specifically says that the global anti-DDT campaign only began in the 1970s. Seems to me that he has a valid point for complaint. A contributor to Blair’s Blog, who is a scientist, claimed you don’t know what you are talking about in relation to DDT because your academic background is not in that area, but in computing. Is this true? You also may wish to learn some semantics as I noticed sadly, that you used the word “Hoax” entirely out of context. If drawing attention to yourself was your aim in this attack on Lapkin and Bolt, then you certainly did that. But, you really need to consider once again the context: that is, you are now considered a lightweight who attempts to develop a reputation by destroying the reputation of others. Not a good look Tim.

  20. #20 an objective observer
    March 20, 2005

    Tim. I have began following this argument yesterday on Tim Blair’s Blog. I have since been reading a lot on it, on your blog and others. Sorry, but that just won’t wash. Lapkin posted his rebuttal on Blair’s website because he said that he didn’t trust you not to alter it. Look in the comment thread, numbers 24 and 25. So his fact-based response has been in the public domain for over a day.

    You accuse Lapkin of saying that Sri Lanka folded to environmental pressure in mid 60s. But in his article specifically says that the global anti-DDT campaign only began in the 1970s. Seems to me that he has a valid point for complaint. A contributor to Blair’s Blog, who is a scientist, claimed you don’t know what you are talking about in relation to DDT because your academic background is not in that area, but in computing. Is this true? You also may wish to learn some semantics as I noticed sadly, that you used the word “Hoax” entirely out of context. If drawing attention to yourself was your aim in this attack on Lapkin and Bolt, then you certainly did that. But, you really need to consider once again the context: that is, you are now considered a lightweight who attempts to develop a reputation by destroying the reputation of others. Not a good look Tim.

  21. #21 not creatively snipping...
    March 20, 2005

    “He clearly threatened legal action unless I retracted.”

    well, actually tim, the words you have posted from Lapkin do not constitute a clear threat. There is no mention of legal action, and no threat.

    I would say your analysis and use of quotes is pretty consistent though.

    yours, per

  22. #22 Tim Lambert
    March 20, 2005

    objective observer, the comments that he posted are different from what he emailed me. I will post a response presently.

    Yes, my background is in computing, but I have run my postings on DDT past an expert on malaria. Unlike Lapkin I have provided links and cites of all my sources so you can check things for your self.

    I did not use the word “hoax” out of context. I don’t think you know what “out of context” means.

  23. #23 Carleton Wu
    March 20, 2005

    Per,
    You are mistaken, as usual.
    I would very much prefer, if possible, to keep this disagreement on a verbal or written basis rather than a one involving my boot and your cranium. Thus this whole misunderstanding can be cleared up by a retraction and apology on your part. In that event I would see no need to pursue matters further.

    “Objective observer”- from Lapkin’s article: When Sri Lankan authorities agreed to ban DDT during the mid-1960s, rates of malaria infection exploded from twenty-nine cases in 1964 to over 500,000 a mere five years later.
    If Lapkin is talking about environmental groups’ pressure to ban DDT, and he thinks that there was no pressure to ban DDT worldwide until the 70s, then:
    1)This is a complete non sequitur. It can’t bolster his case because it wouldn’t fit his argument. By including it, we can infer than he believes it is relevant to the discussion somehow. And that therefore this alledged pattern extends into the 60s. Or that he’s dishonest, attempting to slip an ‘example’ in that he knows has nothing to do with his case…
    Furthermore, the sentence preceeding the quote above is But, as the use of DDT declined throughout the globe, malaria suddenly began to rear its head in places where it had previously been well nigh eradicated. This explicitly ties the Sri Lankan example to the global decline of DDT usage that the article discusses- again, suggesting that Lapkin is including the Sri Lankan example as example of the overall pattern of ‘enviros ban DDT, people suffer’.
    2)Who are the Sri Lankan authorities “agreeing” with in the first quote? I can see no logical partner in the agreement other than the aforementioned ‘global environmental pressure groups’. So I think that the only reasonable conclusion is that Lapkin does indeed extend his theory back into the 60s. Or intentionally misleads his readers.

    And, Lapkin doesn’t explicitly say that the movement began in the 70s. He says that by the mid-1970s environmental activists had embarked on a worldwide crusade to abolish its use. That doesn’t give us a start date, that just tells us that the start date is sometime on or before the mid-70s.
    But even if you read that statement as a start date (not an unreasonable reading), it just means that Lapkin’s use of the Sri Lankan example is dishonest. It cannot support his case.

  24. #24 Tim Lambert
    March 20, 2005

    Lapkin actually does give a start date for the environmental movement: 1962 with Carson’s book. 1962 is before 1964. Now you know why I was so keen to make his argument public.

  25. #25 Steve
    March 21, 2005

    Hey Tim,

    The self-described “scientist” on TB’s blog who claimed you don’t know what you are talking about because you work in computing was none other than Louis Hissink! *chortle*

  26. #26 Rex
    March 21, 2005

    Is this the same Louis Hissink?
    http://www.migonline.net/services/LouisHissink.htm

    If so why is a Geologist considered an expert suddenly on Pesticides?

  27. #27 Tim Lambert
    March 21, 2005

    Yep that’s him. Louis think he’s an expert on many things, for example, global warming<a/>.

  28. #28 mark
    March 21, 2005

    Of course Lapkin never threatened Tim. He just mentioned, in passing as it were, that if he didn’t get his own way then Tim Lambert would be speaking to some very humourless men with very thin watches and very impressive briefcases, who may or may not possess law degrees and the will to use them.

    Oh, to be a spinmeister! It would be so much fun to try to misinterpret one’s own allies in the best light possible, eh? Good on yez, righties!

    (That said, Timster, you were unnecessarily sarky with ol’ Bolty there, and it’s easy to see why the poor fellow got so upset. Silly though his argument was, it’s quite unfair to assert that he was going for a devastating critique of global warming theory by talking about a wet day…)

  29. #29 Posse Incitatus
    March 21, 2005

    Tim very clearly poisoned the well from the get-go. If you wanted to debate, taking a pot shot for a passing remark was a pretty stupid thing to do. You basically labelled him a jerk and then said “No, wait, I’ll be fair, promise!”

  30. #30 Tim Lambert
    March 21, 2005

    Posse, I did not take a pot shot for a passing remark. The story of what happened in Sri Lanka completely destroys his whole argument. In the 60s and 70s they tried to eradicate malaria by spraying DDT everywhere. This failed because the mosquitoes developed resistance, not because of an environmental campaign. Lapkin’s response was a Clintonian attempt to argue that his words didn’t mean what they said, along with a threat of legal action. What would you do if someone who didn’t like what you wrote on your blog threatened you with legal action unless you retracted?

  31. #31 Dominion
    March 21, 2005

    Why can’t someone be fair to a jerk? Does the very fact that he is a jerk prevent someone from being fair?

  32. #32 Andy B
    March 22, 2005

    “A contributor to Blair’s Blog, who is a scientist, claimed you don’t know what you are talking about in relation to DDT because your academic background is not in that area, but in computing. Is this true?”

    And indeed everyone else that has written on this topic are leading experts in the field. For example Walter Williams, whom Tim criticised in the first post, has written the definitive account of how minimum wage laws were discriminatory against misquitos.

  33. #33 MrLefty
    March 24, 2005

    Tim – are you getting threats from News Ltd? I’m terribly offended. I haven’t heard anything from them at all.

  34. #34 Niall
    March 30, 2005

    You seriously waste your time getting into literary shitfights with Blair & Bolt??? Tim….you need to get out more.

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