Friday, May 25, 2012

Anonymous Comments Are Meaningless

I'm getting "Anonymous" comments on my post about the Pacific Institute's investigation of Peter Gleick....

You know what? Anonymous comments are meaningless. I immediately disregard any information in them.

I'm a journalist. I respect sources who have something to say but wish to remain off-the-record.... If you're such a person, you can write me at If you'd prefer, you can even check with me first to ensure I'll respect you anonymity.... I've never revealed a source in my life.

But I put absolutely no credence in anything that is written in public by someone who won't reveal their name. I don't trust that it's real, and I don't trust that it's fake. It's a waste of your time, and of my time. So please, don't even bother.


Anonymous said...

Dave, I'm nobody important. I'm not revealing any new information. I'm just telling you what's out there.

1. We know that Pacific Institute hired an independent firm to look into the Gleick situation.

"The Board of Directors of the Pacific Institute is deeply concerned regarding recent events involving its president, Dr. Peter Gleick, and has hired an independent firm to review the allegations."

Goldenburg has made a claim that she has learned that the investigation is complete and Gleick has been cleared of forging documents.

"A review has cleared the scientist Peter Gleick of forging any documents in his expose of the rightwing Heartland Institute's strategy and finances, the Guardian has learned."

She also says that she is unaware of what the Pac Institute will do regarding the findings.

"It was not immediately clear the findings would allow Gleick to make an early return to his job at the Pacific Institute"

You reported that the Pac Inst says:

"The Pacific Institute Board of Directors has not finalized its review of the investigation or announced any decisions at this point"

See? Nothing they've told you contradicts Goldenerg's story. But it seems to have cleared up one issue. Since the Board is reviewing the investigation, it seems that it really is completed.

Anonymous said...

As Peter Gleick showed anyone can use a name that isn't theirs. At least anonymous posters aren't being dishonest!

David Appell said...

Anon 7:48 -- Who knows if you're honest or not?

But, clearly, you're afraid to stand behind your opinions.

Anonymous said...

Well, there's gives and takes to posting anon, and the internet has no moral stance on the question.

But as we quibble over this, unsurprisingly, WUWT is running with the story at light speed.

Now, either it's correct, or it isn't. That should be the focus.

David Appell said...

Anon 8:27 -- there is a moral stance to the story: you're too much of a pussy to put your name to your opinions.

Anonymous said...

And your just being a stubborn d-bag reporting bad information and Goldenburg seems will pay the price for it.

I guess everyone loses in this morality play. Oh well.

Mike Mangan said...

Let's ask Eli Rabbet and Tamino their opinions.

Anonymous said...

I'm a different anonymous person - can't be bothered to create a log-in.

I have absolutely no inside knowledge of any of this, and I don't know if there was an investigation completed or not, but it seems to me very hard to make the pieces of the story fit together logically.

Just a thought: As far as "clearing Gleick", I don't see how that can happen. Putting aside, the issue of whether he forged one of the documents, the other issues were:

1. He obtained a set of confidential documents from Heartland by ethically dubious means (means that some people consider to be tantamount to identity theft and/or wire fraud).

2. He then forwarded the confidential documents - plus the questionable document (which he says he obtained separately from an anonymous source) - as single package, representing them as all coming from one source, and representing himself as being a Heartland insider.

He's admitted to 1, admitted it was an ethical transgression, and resigned from his position with the AGU, and took his leave of absence from the PI for it too. And his confession effectively admitted 2 as well (okay some people don't seem to consider 2 as serious). So even if an investigation were to opine that he didn't create the questionable document, it doesn't really clear him of wrongdoing as far as I can see.

Moving back to the issue of the questionable documents. I am also wondering how could they truly clear of creating the document, short of identifying the anonymous source? unless of course they are just accepting his word, or the investigation is more limited - for example, just clearing him of having used PI computers.

The reports of the investigation, even assuming they have some underlying basis, leave me with more questions than I started with.

EliRabett said...

Well why not. Let us unpack this

1. The Pacific Institute arranged for a third party to investigate what PG did to the HI.

No one is disputing that

2. That report is complete.

No one is disputing that

3. The PI Board has that report and is considering it.

No one is disputing that

4. The report concludes that PG did not fabricate the contentious briefing document.

Some are disputing that and the bunnies will only know when the report is leaked or published.

Goldenberg's report contained items 1-4 although you might wish that 3 had more emphasis. It did not say that the PI board had approved or accepted the report, which is the piece that DA brings to the table.

Oh yes

5. ER and T are pseudonyms, a somewhat different thing than anonymous. Pseudonyms have established presences which can be used to weigh individual comments.

6. DA is wrong when he says that anonymous comments are worthless, it's just there is no background to work with and each comment has to stand on its own, so they are more work and if the anonymouse wishes to be taken seriously the comment has to include more checkable and factual material.

Anonymous said...

does david think the (ANONYMOUS) information apparently received by Gleick worthless or is that information a special case to be trusted.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to paraphrase the contents of this blog post in one short sentence: it's not what someone says that matters, but who they are and what their reputation is like.

Put like that, can you see how ludicrously wrong-headed your position is? The truth or otherwise of a factual statement does not depend on who says it.*

[*Yes, I know, there are exceptions such as statements like 'I am (something)', but the point stands.]

Nick Stokes said...

Looks like Anonymous was pretty much right.

There was indeed an independent investigation which the Board has now accepted.

David Appell said...

So shall we start believing all Internet commenters who are afraid to support their claims with their name?

Anonymous said...

A person shows what he is by what he does with what he has.

David Appell said...

Now when they're anonymous, because since no one knows their standing, no one knows if what they have is true or deliberately false. No one knows their motives.