Fraud Doesn’t Pay

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on February 26, 2012

Like many other people, I am amazed and appalled by the audacity of Peter Gleick, the climate change scientist who admitted to having used a false identity to obtain material related to the Heartland Institute’s stance on global warming, including fundraising strategies, and budget materials. Gleick claims that the material he obtained was genuine, though he apologizes for having lied about his identity to get it. Heartland claims that the climate strategy document Gleick states that he obtained is fake.

Regardless of whether the document is accurate, or made up, there can be no denying that Gleick has immolated his own reputation. I can’t believe that he actually had the nerve to try his stunt, or that he thought that he could get away with it. Internet sleuthing has become quite the sophisticated science over the past few years, and these sorts of attempts at fraud very often end up getting exposed because some dogged investigators work to figure out whether fraud may have taken place. (In this case, a great deal of credit ought to go to Megan McArdle, whose own investigative work helped reveal Gleick’s attempts to put one over on the rest of us.) I mean, is Gleick ignorant of what happened in Rathergate? That scandal should have served as a cautionary tale for Gleick, and yet, he utterly ignored its lessons.

Of course, when the story regarding the Heartland documents initially came out, a whole host of lefty blogs crowed that they had caught Heartland in the act of trying to deceive the public regarding the issue of climate science. Now, the focus is on Gleick’s deception. I haven’t done any kind of survey to see whether the lefty blogs in question either retracted part or all of the charges they leveled at Heartland, or whether they were at least willing to heap some further opprobrium on Gleick’s justly savaged reputation. But I am betting that the percentage of port-side blogs that have condemned Gleick for his dishonesty is rather low. Call it a hunch.

Nota Bene: In the event that anyone is interested in my own preferred policy to combat the possibility of global warming, you can find that policy written out here.

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