Popcorn time again, it seems. Starting at the end, Anthony Watts is “threatening” to sue Greg Laden. Although from that, its hard to see why. Going back to the bottom, GL originally took the piss out of AW for believing in sky fairies. Phil Plait (“No, Diatoms Have Not Been Found in a Meteorite”) patiently points out why these particular fairies are unreal; PZ Myers is rather less patient, and appears to call AW a crackpot. GL doesn’t seem terribly worried by AW, which seems reasonable.
What exactly is AW complaining about? He says:
I spent yesterday conferring with lawyers about the smear that Greg Laden made against me (see here)
That post picks out “Anthony Watts, the anti-science global warming denailist, was not equipped to recognize this bogus science as bogus. We are not surprised.” to quote, so I suppose that must be the bit that AW thinks is actionable. I’m no lawyer, but I’d be doubtful that would stand up. Plenty of people have said as bad, or worse. I’m pretty sure you could find much the same from AW about, say, Mann (aside: when Mann sued… whoever it was, AW thought that was a terrible idea, in principle as I recall). Comment threads on WUWT (which are moderated, remember) host far worse. And since AW reproduced it on his blog, it can’t be that terrible (does re-publishing things you claim to be libel reduce the chance of suing for them? I dunno).
But then again, that might not be what he is complaining about. He may be complaining that he’s miffed GL said that AW believed in sky fairies. That sounds even weaker.
Eli is suggesting that AW just grow up.
Other sue-related stuff
[Image ripped off of vvattsupwiththat]
Update: “regarded it as interesting and worthy of reporting”
In the comments we have a brave visitor from the Dark Side, who suggests that
anthony watts stated that he did not regard the story as fact ,but regarded it as interesting and worthy of reporting
(the Dark Side are short of capitals, it appears). He’s wrong: it wasn’t worthy of reporting, and it wasn’t interesting (as science; as an example of how easy it is too fool the ignorant it was moderately interesting).
But this, I think, is a perhaps under-appreciated difference between people who actually want to understand how the world works, and those whose primary aim is to sow FUD. Its not easy, from the outside, to see the distinction between “lets not be narrow minded, lets look at all ideas” and “lets throw out chaff so no-one has a clue what’s going on”. The second fits the denialist ideal perfectly: there’s no real interest in understanding the world (at least, in terms of its physical climatology), because they are all too aware of where that leads: to the std.IPCC result. And if they keep on pushing stories of scientist-X-says-thing-Y, which later turns out to be trash: well, that’s no problem for them, because it just fosters the incorrect idea that we don’t know what’s going on in the world.
Science isn’t about following down every last lead. A major component of it is winnowing out chaff. Which is part of the service that peer-reviewed journals provide. And which Journal of Cosmology does not.
Update: the basis?
Well b*gg*r me down dead with a bargepole. There’s actually an intelligent comment at WUWW! Pointing out the bleedin’ obvious, that the first amendment is a powerful obstacle to suing for libel in the US-of-A. In response, AW insists that the main basis is “false light”. I know nothing about this, obviously, but [[false light]] doesn’t look hopeful to AW to me: False light privacy claims often arise under the same facts as defamation cases… false light cases are about damage to a person’s personal feelings or dignity, whereas defamation is about damage to a person’s reputation -W]
Update: the result. Err, not quite yet
So we now have:
January 21, 2013 at 8:03 am. Thanks to everyone for all of the helpful input and responding to the poll. Using these, I’ve made my decision. Comments are now closed as well as the poll. – Anthony
This is pathetic. We all know what the result will be – he’s not suing. But he wants to spin it out just a leedle bit more in the hope of – what? Dunno. I suppose he’s going to have to find a form of words that makes a climb-down look like the moral high ground.