Thanks to GA Tech climatology professor Judith Curry for her stalwart defense of freedom of speech, academic freedom and media access. The following is from her blog.
All this is becoming quite the soap opera. Apart from the entertainment being provided for the climate blogosphere, there are three really important issues at stake here:
freedom of speech
media access to information
I come down stalwartly on the side freedom of speech and media access to information.
The academic freedom issue is murkier. Academic freedom, as per the Wikipedia:
Academic freedom is the belief that the freedom of inquiry by faculty members is essential to the mission of the academy as well as the principles of academia, and that scholars should have freedom to teach or communicate ideas or facts (including those that are inconvenient to external political groups or to authorities) without being targeted for repression, job loss, or imprisonment. Academic freedom is a contested issue and, therefore, has limitations in practice.
With regards to climate science, IMO the key issue regarding academic freedom is this: no scientist should have to fall on their sword to follow the science where they see it leading or to challenge the consensus. I’ve fallen on my dagger (not the full sword), in that my challenge to the consensus has precluded any further professional recognition and a career as a university administrator. That said, I have tenure, and am senior enough to be able retire if things genuinely were to get awful for me. I am very very worried about younger scientists, and I hear from a number of them that have these concerns.
Tenure is an amazing privilege for academics. And now we see in the Mann/UVa case, that the establishment academics are worried about fear of embarrassment by public disclosure and fear that those who dislike their findings will conduct invasive fishing expeditions in search of a pretext to discredit them. Come on, big boy pants please. We are talking about publicly funded research, and a primary concern is supposed to be avoiding embarrassing the scientists?
For the past decade, scientists have come to the defense of Michael Mann, somehow thinking that defending Michael Mann is fighting against the ‘war on science’ and is standing up for academic freedom. Its time to let Michael Mann sink or swim on his own. Michael Mann is having all these problems because he chooses to try to muzzle people that are critical of Mann’s science, critical of Mann’s professional and personal behavior, and critical of Mann’s behavior as revealed in the climategate emails. All this has nothing to do with defending climate science or academic freedom.
The climate science field, and the broader community of academics, have received an enormous black eye as a result of defending the hockey stick and his behavior. Its time to increase the integrity of climate research particularly with regards to increasing transparency, calling out irresponsible advocacy, and truly promoting academic freedom so that scientists are free to pursue research without fear of recriminations from the gatekeepers and consensus police.http://judithcurry.com/2014/02/22/steyn-et-al-versus-mann/