Last week I got an email from Amy Turner of the Sunday Times:
I’m writing a piece about Science bloggers and would love to talk to you about yours. Are you free to talk to me today or tomorrow? Hope to hear from you.
Turner usually writes celebrity puff pieces rather than about science, so it was pretty obvious that Jonathan Leake was organizing some payback because I had dared to criticize him. I agreed to the interview and, sure enough, it wasn’t long before Turner was threatening me (How would I react if Jonathan Leake sued me for libel?) She complained that I had been unfair to Leake by not contacting him even though I had. She was particularly upset by this post, where I quoted an “Action on Smoking and Health” correction to a Jonathan Leake story:
We have heard that the figures reported in the Sunday Times yesterday (and now circulating elsewhere) are not based on any research conducted to date.
The impact of the smokefree legislation on heart attacks is being analysed by Anna Gilmore and team at Bath but they have no final results yet.
Turner reckoned that someone, somewhere must have told Leake the 10% number and it was unfair of me to suggest that he made the number up. But my post just quotes the correction and notes that Sunday Times failed to correct their story.
I brought up Leake’s story on the IPCC report on the vulnerability of the Amazon. Even though he knew, from multiple sources, that that report was accurate, he claimed that it was bogus. Turner was unable to offer any defence of Leake.
I was expecting something quite unpleasant from Turner, but she exceeded my expectations, digging up the nastiest thing she could find about me:
Pielke has been stung by the non-academics, too. He describes on his blog the “giant fish” of the public intellectuals in the blogosphere pond, then the “big fish” who feed them and the unqualified “minnows” — the amateurs — and the way they interact in the blogosphere: “To more effectively attack someone’s reputation they … rely on the minnows of the blogosphere, people who see it as their sole job to ‘trash’ someone’s reputation via innuendo, fabrication and outright misrepresentation. Among these minnows are controversialist bloggers like Tim Lambert, who are professionally unqualified to engage in the substance of most debates (certainly the case with respect to my own work), yet earn their place exclusively by making mountains out of molehills.”
Notice how after complaining how unfair I was to Leake but not giving him a chance to respond, Turner published Pielke’s dishonest attack without giving me a chance to respond to it. She also calls me a non-academic even though she is well aware that I am an academic. She avoids any mention of the substance of my criticisms of Leake, dismissing them as “tirades”:
He supports Mann’s hockey-stick model and has posted tirades against bloggers and science journalists, including Jonathan Leake, The Sunday Times environment editor.
Turner also writes:
Professor Roger Pielke of Colorado University is an expert on extreme weather and disaster impacts. He was an author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change but disagreed with how his work was represented in its last report, which he blogged about. Fierce abuse ensued, with some coming from academics masquerading behind pseudonyms. When one appeared to threaten Pielke’s children, he tracked the blogger down and found he was a professor.
Pielke is not telling the truth here. For the true story see here.
Also not true is this statement.
“[Steve McIntyre] allows criticism but never ad hominem stuff or political ranting.”
McIntyre covers up his ad hominems by going back and editing them out of his posts, but one still there was when he called Gavin Schmidt and Caspar Amman “Dumb and Dumber”.
Turner’s story looks like it dropped through a time warp from 2003 — a whole story on blogs without a single link to any of the blogs mentioned. Though in the sidebar is a link to The Times list of the Top 30 Science Blogs, a list that includes Deltoid.
Also commenting on Turner’s piece are anarchist606:
In short this article is a one-sided snipe at a blogger who is holding big-media to account and they don’t like being told when they are wrong.
and Ben Goldacre:
don’t see how the Times’ ad hom attacks on Tim Lambert here are any better than any blogosphere rant
Amy Turner did not respond to my questions about her article. Nor did she respond when I sent her a draft of this post.