Peter Gleick is Still a Good Scientist

My friend Rob Jacob will probably let me get away with quoting his most of his blog entry:

As I read many of the stories on Peter Gleick’s pranking of the Heartland Institute (see this Guardian story for a pretty good summary), I find I mostly agree with Joe Romm who basically says that this is peanuts compared to what Heartland and their ilk are doing to our future planet with their obfuscation campaign.

Indeed I can’t believe how many people are rushing to their fainting couch over this.

Peter Gleick is a trained scientist but amateur journalist.  His general-interest writing on water and climate issues is actually quite good.   Doing science and doing journalism are two different things.  If Dr. Gleick committed some kind of ethical lapse in his journalism exploits, that shouldn’t have any impact on his standing as a scientist.

Scientists should not let themselves be boxed in as perfect beings who apply the ethical standards of science in every activity of their lives.  That’s not a standard that human beings can meet and scientists are indeed human.

This is how I read it too. The trouble is that Peter’s role was at least as much political as it was research-um-researchical. And it is in that role that this sort of thing is embarassing. He can’t be on the NCSE board or the AGU ethics panel. He won’t be an expert witness at congressional hearings either. Politics is not about intellectual strength. It is about having all your weaknesses covered.

Was the spotlight on Heartland worth it, given how hard they will try to beam it back on Peter, and how much damage they have already inflicted in return? Time will tell, but we can do our best to keep our eye on the ball.

(Comments over at Climate Spin, please.)