How was your trip to D.C.? Were you nervous when you testified before Congress about how ridiculous climate science in the public has become?
I read that you have been receiving threats to your family. What a world. Obviously, a few climate skeptics—and a few non-skeptics, too—have gone over the edge and slipped into lunacy. I think that anybody who has written you a threatening letter ought to be tracked down and slapped silly.
I don’t mean that metaphorically. If I could, I’d take turns sitting on your front porch with a shotgun loaded with buckshot. And if anybody else with a yellow Hummer tried to drop off a rat in your yard, I’d happily test that vehicle’s claim of being bulletproof.
Do you know a guy named Mike Adams? Criminology professor at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. He writes about a lot of controversial stuff (feminism, homosexuality, etc.), the consequence being that he receives more death threats in his Inbox than spam.
Adams, who is a paid-in-full member of the NRA (me too), has a classy way of handling someone who writes him a threatening letter: he provides the idiot a list of his favorite guns and asks which of them the idiot would like to be shot with were he to actually carry out his threat. This either produces an immediate apology or dead silence. You might like to try it.
They said you now have bodyguards whenever you talk publicly. That is so cool. Do they have those little ear-thingys? You might be thinking that this extra protection is a pain in the ass, and it is. But just imagine the stories you’ll be able to tell when you are in your dotage!
Listen: don’t let the threats bug you too much. Some topics are designed to (as we used to be allowed to say) get people’s Irish up. Why, just the other day somebody called me a terrorist when I said that the theory of evolution was only 99%—and not 100%—true. I put his behavior down as more evidence that most of the human race is insane (a favorite saying of mine that you are welcome to use).
But you can understand, right? For example, I read that email in which you threatened to bounce your fists off Pat Michaels’s face. I know just how you feel about Pat. Last time I saw him he was wearing red tennis shoes—red!, I swear on my soul—with a suit. It took every drop of self control I had not to pounce on him and rip them off his feet.
Point is: I know how blood can boil. Some things are beyond toleration.
That damn Michaels won’t shut up: he says you’re wrong and he’s right. You say he’s wrong and you’re right. The public, for the most part, hasn’t the training to decide who’s got the stronger case and they end up siding with the guy who most closely matches their politics.
I can see how this can be infuriating. But you know, same thing happens to me. I type until my fingers bleed about how classical statistical practices (such as “data mining”) induce overconfidence and over-certainty in their users, but does anybody listen?
Actually, some do (mainly physicists), but many don’t (people whose careers or egos rest on highly desired prior results produced with the old methods). I haven’t threatened to kick anybody’s ass for not agreeing with me, though. Worst thing I’ve done is call them a cheeseball (or some other colorful nickname pulled from the stock I gathered when I worked for my Uncle Sam).
Want some advice? You don’t help yourself when you tell reporters who ask you about your threat that “I’m not surprised that things are said in the heat of the moment between professional colleagues. These things are taken out of context.”
Not the best dodge, that. Your email wasn’t written in the “heat of the moment.” It was, to point out the obvious, a written communication, expressing a considered opinion. It also wasn’t “taken out of context.” Oh, baby, was there plenty of context. Sure, it was stolen context, but what are you going to do?
You should have said, “We scientists are sensitive, temperamental creatures. We often want to pound one another.” That, brother, is truth.