Saturday, February 15, 2014

Another Crazy Shows Up Here, Wearing Bells

You know Mann's lawsuit is going well when the crazies seek to copy him.

This from someone who uses the name "Fred Douglass" (, 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.

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.
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.

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 -0500
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.

Sandra Upson
Managing Editor
Scientific American
75 Varick Street #9
New York, NY 10013

Dear Sandra:

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.


Dan Satterfield said...

I assume you require a name and email. I get comments frequently with bogus emails, but I guess they think it will not be checked.

Thanks for reprinting the email though, it was very amusing. I save all the really good ones!

David Appell said...

Dan: I set Blogger so it requires the commenter be a "Registered User," which includes Open ID.

I usually don't mind anonymous commenters, but when they get ridiculous while hiding behind anonymity I start to get annoyed.

Lars said...

Interestingly, a search of Web of Science for publications under "palaeogenetics" with the name "F. Douglass" attached turns up nothing.

David Appell said...

You're right, Lars, I found the same thing. Also with searches with the same name at Gainesville, or the University of Florida. I suspect the name is fake.

David Appell said...

Here is an email "Fred Douglass" sent me this afternoon:

I have spoken now to my attorney, and he suggests that, as a compromise settlement, you identify the portion that you claim are "ad hominems, and we post the rest. He and I agree that if you claim to post “my emails” and then cherry pick these, including excluding the last email, this is more than actionable.

Should you not agree to this, he also requests the name of your attorney, since he thinks that attorney-attorney contacts are the next step.

A very poor bluff.

tonylearns said...

How bizarre,

I get the feeling that there is a class of retired white men, or at least men over the age of 50 who are ro were professionals, and competent in their field who now feel the need to be part of some movement that is showing that they can stand up to the tyrants that are ruining society. climate change seems like a suitable one because it is so complicated and not culturally unacceptable m\by the mainstream like opposition to evolution. Maybe there is a fear of impending mortality, and being the David fighting against Goliath makes them feel like they will have a legacy of some sort

Dano said...

The 5 seconds it will take for the editor to verify the Douglass is fake will be the only time wasted on this idiot.



David Appell said...

There is a paleogeneticist in Florida who has some very similar concerns as our Mr. Unknown/Fred Douglass:

Lars said...

Seven publications in the last fourteen years. None of them climatological. And only one which could be interpreted as "palaeogenetic" (by a stretch).
And it will be interesting - assuming that these people are one and the same - seeing how the legal system will deal with any coment you made about a nom de plume.