I am now engaged in a rather odd ‘back and forth’ with Professor Hunter. To give a background to this rather odd story, I wrote an open letter to Professor Hunter, asking him to clarify his critical position regarding the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. I pointed out that he criticised the Coalition for taking NIWA to court over the ‘official’ New Zealand temperature record, but later events showed that the Coalition were right to do so, as the temperature record was not founded in science.
Professor Hunter responded to my open letter by suggesting that he would not respond on the basis that I was an anonymous blogger, and I explained my anonymity in a response (see post here), and again invited a response to the open letter. Well, today, I have had two responses (see comments section here) from Professor Hunter, which are detailed below:
You say “The reason why I recount these points is that I am at a very early stage in my own academic career. I considered the question of anonymity carefully. In light of the fact that this is just a blog, and my contribution to the debate about climate change is just one view (and as I am not engaged in research), I decided to remain anonymous/”
How can you be in the early stage of an academic career and yet not be engaged in research? It seems to me that these are mutually incompatible.
If you are not engaged in research then you are not an academic. This makes your anonimyity even more suspicious than it was before your statement above, which is no defense at all in itself.
Immediately after I made the above post, my PC crashed, which makes me even more suspicious of your web site.
This is a somewhat startling response. It seems that Professor Hunter is suggesting that I am not engaged in an academic career. My point in mentioning not doing research was to say that I am not researching climate science, which would compel me to not be anonymous. As it is, yes, I am conducting research (with three studies in progress at present), just not on climate science.
As for the second post, this is rather puzzling. Does Professor Hunter really believe that I would seek to crash computers? For what reason? Nobody would view the blog if I sought to make the computers of readers crash, which would defeat the object of the blog…..unless of course there was a cunning application designed to recognise Professor Hunter’s computer and exclusively crash his computer, as a result of some kind of bizarre desire to persecute Professor Hunter. Perhaps Professor Hunter might note that correlation does not equal causation. This blog uses a respectable blogging service, and one which would not allow software that harmed computers.
Professor Hunter, I have no desire to crash your computer, or any other person’s computer. In my open letter, I simply asked you to clarify your position in light of the events that followed your comments on the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. It was very polite, and even respectful, as in the following:
As with any newspaper report, we can not know whether the remarks were taken out of context, and I am sure that Professor Hunter would not want to have his views misrepresented. In particular, he is a high profile New Zealand scientist, in a position of responsibility in a research based university. As such, I thought it might be an idea to see if Professor Hunter is still standing by these views. In particular, he discussed NZCSC as ‘throwing mud’, which would suggest that they had motivations that were not related to a concern about the scientific accuracy of the NIWA temperature records.
Professor Hunter also called the action of the Coalition ‘stupid’, and I just sought clarification of his views in light of the events that followed (i.e. the temperature record was found to be without scientific grounding).
This rather odd sequence of responses comes as a result of a very polite request for clarification of views. Instead of clarifying his position, the response of Professor Hunter is to attack my integrity. Perhaps, rather than attacking my integrity, Professor Hunter might offer a response. It would perhaps take him one minute. Below are two possible responses that I have suggested for his convenience, that he might just cut and paste:
- I stand by the comments that I made about the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition’s court action against NIWA.
- In light of events, my comments about New Zealand Climate Science Coalition’s court action against NIWA were regrettable, as the action served to highlight that the New Zealand temperature record was not founded in science.
Perhaps Professor Hunter might just let me know his position by saying that he agrees with point (1) or point (2). It would not be any effort at all. Alternatively, he might wish to offer a more extensive discussion. In all cases, I will be happy to publish the response. This seems easier and more productive than calling my integrity into question, in particular as my invitation for comment was respectful and polite. This contrasts with the quoted comments of Professor Hunter, such as calling court action of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition ‘stupid’.
Over to you, Professor Hunter.
Note: The original New Zealand Herald article in which Professor Hunter was quoted can be found here.