This from someone who uses the name "Fred Douglass" (email@example.com), though here he goes by "Unknown," and claims he's a paleogeneticist in Gainesville, Florida, and didn't like being warned not to use ad hominem comments in his discussion of science -- which, of course, he couldn't avoid.
David:There are more emails after this, but you get the drift. For some reason I seem to get one of these obsessive weirdoes about every three to six months here. Barry Bickmore got him too, though apparently without the faux legal threats.
I notice that you have censored four comments of mine on your “Quark Soup” blog, alleging that these contained "ad hominems".
For someone who calls those who disagree with him members of the "denial community" (indeed in your very post at issue), your concern with "ad hominems" is, shall we say, more easily understood as a concern that someone might persuasively present science that contradicts your political positions. “Denier” is, of course, a comparison between those who understand climate science and those who have denied the existence of the Holocaust. It is, of course, intrinsically more libelous than the comments that our friend Mr. Steyn is being sued over. Especially since no one has ever shown that Richard Lindzen, Judith Curry, Jim Dellingpole, Ross McKitrick, or any of the others in this community have actually denied the Holocaust.
Perhaps you believe that “denier” is an “epithet” rather than an “ad hominem”. Fine. I certainly agree, so I am not going to sue over being labeled with that epithet.
My problem now is that you did more than censor and refer to me by epithet. In addition, you presented to the public allegations that my posts contained "ad hominems". Then, you connected those allegations to my name. Therefore, you have libeled me, since the reputation of “Fred Douglass” as a scientist is based in part on public knowledge that “Fred Douglass” comments with authority on matters of science without using ad hominems.
Further, it is a fact that the comments of mine that you censored contained no ad hominems.
Thus, this IS a more serious libel than the comments that have brought our friend Mark Steyn into the courtroom.
I do not frequently blog, for the simple reason that it seems that most in the bloggosphere who seek to suppress actual climate science are uneducable crazies. You, on the other hand, attempt to earn a living as a “science writer” for publications that I actually subscribe to.
Thus, I was astonished that you would not concede simple features of science when it was presented forthrightly.
Now, I am even more astonished that you would risk further damaging your reputation (and your ability to write for Scientific American, Physics World, and others) by censoring, then libeling, someone who did nothing more than seek to present climate science on your page.
We can let the matter drop if you re-post what you have censored. No need for an apology. Let’s just say that you made a mistake.
Update (8:40 pm): When I told "Mr. Douglass" to "get lost," he sent me the following:
Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2014 14:01:17 -0500Unctuous.
Subject: Re: Your censorship and libel
From: Frederick Douglass
To: David Appell
Not so easy, David.
Below is the letter that will be sent to Scientific American on Monday. Tuesday something similar will go to all of the other professional mags that you write for.
And civil action against you for libel is still a possibility.
75 Varick Street #9
New York, NY 10013
It is good to hear from you again. We appreciated the article that you published by Alonso Ricardo that covered his (and our) work on the origin of life, and have gotten a considerable amount of positive feedback on it.
On a separate matter, David Appell, who has in the past written for you, has been breaking journalistic standards on his blog “Quark Soup” by censoring people who post hard science to further the discussion. Obviously, blog censorship is a common thing in this field, but we do not expect it from people who write for Scientific American.
We think that the readers of Scientific American would appreciate a lively discussion not so much on climate, but rather the science-in-society perspective, especially as it appears in blogs.