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Gleick, my ass! 2018 Sagan Prize helping climate parody go mainstream

2018-07-15_iri_42470382_I1

Marisa Tomei pretends to be other people for money. She even has to impersonate a scientist on occasion, and says she’s looking forward to “exchanging notes” with Peter Gleick.

UPDATE Too many readers have made witty comments on this post to highlight them all, as I initially promised (and the witless ones, courtesy of HotScot and compatriots, would be even more tedious to catalog).

But I’m afraid the winner of Funniest Tribute to Peter Gleick has to be the prestigious magazine Nature’s tribute.

To Rajendra Pachauri.

In 2007.

Just swap some names in your imagination and you’ll see Gleick is in good company:

Editorial
Nature 450, 1127 (20 December 2007)

Nature is pleased to name Rajendra Pachauri, the Indian engineer and economist, and chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as our inaugural Newsmaker of the Year.

Science is perhaps less reliant on the concept of ‘personality’ than any other major realm of human endeavour. At the same time, …science, like history, is forged by individuals—even though both are forged on the back of a past whose inhabitants may have faded into anonymity.


A recurring point of lamentation here at CliScep is the dearth of good parody in the climate debate—an area that’s surely ripe for ridicule, or no area is.

Reader Canman today alerted us to what might just be a cultural turning-point, however. The prestigious 2018 Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization will go… <I SHIT YOU NOT>… to Gleick.

Peter Gleick.

Psychic literary critic and ‘scientist,’ Peter Gleick.

Founded by Aduro Biotech, the annual prize is awarded by Wonderfest, the San Francisco Bay Area’s Beacon of Science since 1997. Actress Marisa Tomei (pictured) is tipped to present the winner with his $5,000 check—money well spent, as far as this lover of the theatre of the absurd is concerned.

What makes the announcement so significant is that previous winners appear to have been chosen on merit; this will be the first year an overtly comedy recipient is honored.

Gleick (pronounced /glik/) isn’t exactly known for his scientific discoveries—it’s doubtful he’s ever made any. But his name rings a bell because, back in 2012, he committed a spectacular act of credibility seppuku in full view of the media. Posing as an anonymous whistle-blower from the Heartland Institute—an American climate-skeptical think-tank—Gleick had spent several days shopping around a counterfeit HI memo, seeking to pass it off as an authentic document written by adults. (In what we can only assume was an attempt at adding some verisimilitude, he buried the pseudo-memo in a dossier of unsexy irrelevantia he’d obtained earlier by wire fraud.)

The fake document almost had the world fooled, too, until someone read it.

Gleick’s babyish, semi-English idiolect was so obvious that one Steven Mosher—who struggles with the finer points of English orthography himself—knew the identity of the enigmatic ‘Heartland Insider’ long before he’d confessed publicly.

It’s the thought that counts, though, and what the activist ‘scientist’ had wanted to do was to trick* eight billion people into thinking critics of his ‘science’ were akin to “villains in a Batman comic,” as Megan McCardle of The Atlantic put it.

The genesis of Gleick’s vendetta against Heartland appears to be the Institute’s history of bullying and intimidating him by…. offering him money to debate them. Gleick was, of course, too smart to fall for these traps, which would only have distracted him from the true work of a Popularizer of Science: debating people who already agree with him.

His infamous attempt to sabotage the popular understanding of the climate debate in 2012—which we would call Fake News if he perpetrated it today, and we had no imagination—has lost its power to appall us because, far from violating the norms of ‘environmental science,’ it’s become The New Normal. It may never be the new moral, or ethical, but (he said in an uncannily-good Basil Fawlty accent) it’s the new absolutely fucking typical.

We therefore extend muchos kudos to Wonderfest’s Board of Directors, who’ve drawn on the power of shock-comedy to snap us out of our resignation to the existence of these charlatans. Coffee-sneezing, after all, is one of the best antidotes to the mundanity of evil.

In case anyone missed the Onion-like layers of perversity, the Sagan Prize’s website brilliantly juxtaposes a double-tap headshot of the mendacious obfuscationist with a passage from Broca’s Brain, the book in which Carl Sagan declares anathema on everything Gleick stands for:

In exchange for freedom of inquiry, scientists are obliged to explain their work. If science is considered a closed priesthood, too difficult and arcane for the average person to understand, the dangers of abuse are greater. But if science is a topic of general interest and concern — if both its delights and its social consequences are discussed regularly and competently in the schools, the press, and at the dinner table — we have greatly improved our prospects for learning how the world really is and for improving both it and us.

The joke is especially cruel in light of Gleick’s close ties to the cell of academic obscurantists dubbed Data Haram (from the Arabic for ‘data forbidden’). The group’s de facto sheikh, Stephan Lewandowsky, was first on the scene to defend his acolyte’s acts. In a predictably repulsive apologia that begins by misquoting Churchill, Lewandowsky argues that since science equals war, and war equals deception, Peter Gleick deserves a medal.

Well, now he’s got one.

Just when popular amnesia was threatening to let the lying worm off his own hook, the 2018 Sagan Prize will come as a well-timed reminder: Lest We Forgive.

Incidentally, I added my own words of moral support as a comment on Lewandowsky’s smokescreen-cum-puff-job:

Dear Professor Gleick,

nolite te bastardes carborundum (don’t let the forces of carbon bastardry delegitimize you)!

The forge du diable you’re going through now—for the crime of standing up for honesty, effectiveness, and the balance between them—cannot silence you. It can only forge character.

It’s never easy being a Phisher of Men, but that’s why we call people like you heroes.

So grit your teeth and forge on, forge on, forge ever on.

And remember, persecution is the forge of virtue!

(The Conversation’s moderators inadvertently deleted my comment, for which they must have kicked themselves over and over again. Don’t be so hard on yourself, Cory Zanoni et al.—accidents happen. We’ve reproduced it now, so let the free exchange of ideas we all claim to value roll on!)

A quick note to WUWT readers: please don’t feel the need to explain the irony of all this to Tucker Hiatt, the Executive Director of Wonderfest (e.g. by emailing him at tucker@wonderfest.org). I’m pretty sure the custodians of the Prize get the gag. They made it.

Likewise, people like Stephen Isaacs, the CEO of sponsor Aduro Biotech (sisaacs@aduro.com), and Aljanae Reynolds, the firm’s Corporate Affairs Manager (areynolds@aduro.com), are presumably in on the joke too [h/t reader Dave Burton]. Stephen and Aljanae may be money-rich but I’m sure they’re too time-poor to thank everyone who explains the punchline to them.

And no clichés about Carl Sagan “rolling,” “spinning” or “vomiting” in his grave either, please. By all accounts, the great man had a healthy sense of humor. I can just see him pointing down from Science Heaven as we speak and having billions and billions of lolz at the joke that is Peter H. Gleick, even if the object of our derision hasn’t caught on yet.

Readers, feel free to submit your own tributes to Professor Gleick’s career in science outreach below. I’ll highlight the funniest ones.

Oh, and Pete old boy: when you receive your novelty oversized check, don’t forget to examine the watermark with a critical—dare I say skeptical?—eye. Sadly, there are people out there who aren’t quite as honest as (say) the average Chairman of the AGU Task Force on Scientific Ethics and Integrity.


*In a scientific context, the word trick simply means ‘a clever way to solve a problem by tricking people.’ [Source: nearly eight dozen independent investigations by UK politicians into the illegally-stolen, suspiciously-timed Climategate emails.]

Reader DFHunterDougieH gushes that one out of three ain’t bad:

To be nominated for the Sagan Prize, an individual must:

1.Have contributed mightily to the public understanding and appreciation of science.
2.Be a resident of one of the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties.
3.Have a history of accomplishment in scientific research.

Congrats to Peter, he meets point 2 at least.

Informant Canman regrets the bar-lowering with which climate limbo has become synonymous:

Besides this 5K check, I believe he also got a substantially larger mega-buck check for being a MacArthur Genius Award winner. I wrote a blog post about him:

https://canmancannedcomments.blogspot.com/2016/11/how-is-peter-gleik-genius.html

Along with sayings like, “two out of three ain’t bad”, a lot of things are being redefined down.

Speaking about Gleick’s genius, the upcoming History of the Climate Debate, Jo Nova Edition (Part 3) will speak about Gleick’s genius:

2012

  • GleickPhishForgeFrameGate
    • Acutely aware that the ‘Heartland Institute strategy memo’ he’s about to “leak” could define his entire biography, Peter Gleick spends days wrestling with age-old questions of morality, legality and font choice.
    • By hitting Print, the MacArthur Genius will sacrifice his career and reputation in order to blow the lid on Heartland’s secret misgivings about the CAGW hypothesis, raising widespread awareness of the think-tank’s criticisms of the state of climate research. But even his peers in reputability agree that Gleick’s good name and scientific legacy are minuscule prices to pay for this.

 

36 thoughts on “Gleick, my ass! 2018 Sagan Prize helping climate parody go mainstream

  1. Very subtle Brad, encouraging Peter, an expert in water supplies, to examine the water mark on his cheque. Water barrel-bottoming par excellence.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. In 1990, the first IPCC report appeared:
    https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/publications_ipcc_first_assessment_1990_wg1.shtml

    Prior to its publication, there was a report from the The Stockholm Environment Institute called “Targets and Indicators of Climatic Change” edited by F.R. Rijsberman and R.J. Swart: https://mediamanager.sei.org/documents/Publications/SEI-Report-TargetsAndIndicatorsOfClimaticChange-1990.pdf

    It had “working groups” just like the IPCC and the report from their WGII was by IPCC stalwarts Per Vellinga and a certain Peter Gleick.

    Amongst their “Principal Conclusions and Recommendations” they were going to
    • Limit the rate and magnitude of sea-level rise;
    • Limit the rate and magnitude of temperature change;
    • Stabilize the ambient concentrations of specific greenhouse gases;
    • Stabilize and/or reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and enhance sinks to stabilize
    the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases; and take measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an equitable manner among the different actors.

    Much has been made recently of the “new target” of 1.5 degrees C, which we must aim for in order to prevent global catastrophe. However, the recommendations of SEI’s WGII, summarised by Vellinga and Gleick, proposed a maximum temperature increase of 1.0 °C above pre-industrial global mean temperature. They said:

    “Temperature increases beyond 1.0 °C may elicit rapid, unpredictable, and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage.

    An absolute temperature limit of 2.0 °C can be viewed as an upper limit beyond which the risks of grave damage to ecosystems, and of non-linear responses, are expected to increase rapidly.”

    According to Gavin’s outfit we have already reached 1C and according to Judith Curry, quoting BEST, we have already breached 1.5C.

    As the sky has not fallen in, although it seemed like it yesterday with a heavy thunderstorm, how come he gets a prize, not only for devious morals, but also for being so hopelessly wrong for so many years?

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Pity the award was given a few months earlier. The “Anti-Intellectual Sensibilities” themed conference held by the Society of U.S. Intellectual History wasn’t given an opportunity to delve into the cultural and political aspects of the award. (1)

    A few years from now a new forward to “Freedom’s Laboratory” will likely discuss how this latest chapter in the “Cold War Struggle for the Soul of Science” stacks up in the “Masters of Deceit” rankings. Don’t despair if Dr. Gleick ranks lower than Dr. Mann as some frustration(2) is good for building character.

    1) https://s-usih.org/conference/2018-conference-chicago/
    2) https://tekkie.wordpress.com/2018/11/09/coming-to-grips-with-a-frustrating-truth

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What about nominating Karl Doenitz for a posthumous Sagan/Gleick Award for his outstanding contribution to sinking oil tankers mid-Atlantic, and introducing fuel rationing to Europe? Surely an unsung hero of Climate Science, and an inspiration for the EU?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Monbiot at:
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/georgemonbiot/2012/feb/24/christopher-booker-heartland-climate

    I see Peter Gleick, the man who obtained and leaked the devastating documents from the Heartland Institute, as a democratic hero. I do not think he should have apologised, nor do I believe that his job should be threatened. He has done something of benefit to society.

    This was the introduction to an article insinuating that veteran campaigning journalist Christopher Booker, by speaking at an event financed by the Heartland Institute, was a corrupt tool of the fossil fuel industry. The evidence for this was a photo of Booker standing in front of a private jet.

    I believe Oreskes also tweeted her support for Gleick.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I can’t find any traction among any leading climate lights. It’s like Jacobson’s lawsuit. Maybe they’re developing a sense of boundaries among the public.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Canman, I think Geoff is referring to Oreskes’ defence of GleickGate, as opposed to SaganGate.

    Is anyone with a strong constitution prepared to wade through Oreskes’ outflow for the last few years and dredge up the incriminating tweet?

    Like

  8. As well as his notorious fraud, Peter Gleick was largely responsible for the fake claim that Syria’s war was caused by climate change, writing a paper saying this in 2014.

    This claim has now been so completely debunked that even the climate fanatics at the so-called Conversation have published an article saying it’s not true.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Brad (10 Nov 18 at 10:45 pm)

    Sorry, I was getting my Naomis in a twist. At
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/feb/21/gleick-apology-heartland-leak-ethics-debate
    Suzanne Goldenberg says:

    For some campaigners, such as Naomi Klein, Gleick was an unalloyed hero, who should be sent some “Twitter love”, she wrote on Tuesday.

    In her book “This Changes Everything” Naomi K. reports at length on a Heartland climate conference which she attended. Presumably everything she says about it was made up.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Oldbrew,

    I can’t believe I missed that video/ad. Thanks. Very well done. Am I wrong in suspecting the “skeptics” catered to by qed are mainly of the “bright,” Michael Shermer persuasion, who look down their noses at anyone who doesn’t uncritically embrace the tenets of climate superstition? (The lack of any allusion to climate in the mockumentary suggested this to me.)

    The North American “Skeptics” showed their less attractive side when James Randi flirted with heresy. To quote myself for what seems like the multipleth time,

    After a lifetime questioning the claims of pea-thimbling ghost-realtors, evolution-denying WMD-existers, telekinetic psychopaths and telepathic psychokines, James Randi suddenly turns his back on everything Skepticism stands for by questioning The Science™. Skeptic authorities take the 87-year-old legend aside for a quiet chat about CAGW and, 24 hours later, Randi has freely accepted how silly he was to doubt something so rock-solid that no other Skeptic with a capital S even feels the need to examine it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Here’s an interesting example of Gleickery from the Guardian today
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/nov/12/deep-fakes-fake-news-truth

    In May, a video appeared on the internet of Donald Trump offering advice to the people of Belgium on the issue of climate change. “As you know, I had the balls to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement,” he said, looking directly into the camera, “and so should you.”
    The video was created by a Belgian political party, Socialistische Partij Anders, or sp.a, and posted on sp.a’s Twitter and Facebook. It provoked hundreds of comments, many expressing outrage that the American president would dare weigh in on Belgium’s climate policy… The speech, it was later revealed, was nothing more than a hi-tech forgery…
    Sp.a’s intention was to use the fake video to grab people’s attention, then redirect them to an online petition calling on the Belgian government to take more urgent climate action. The video’s creators later said they assumed that the poor quality of the fake would be enough to alert their followers to its inauthenticity. “It is clear from the lip movements that this is not a genuine speech by Trump,” a spokesperson for sp.a told Politico.
    As it became clear that their practical joke had gone awry, sp.a’s social media team went into damage control…

    The Guardian’s source is an article in Politico from last May.
    https://www.politico.eu/article/spa-donald-trump-belgium-paris-climate-agreement-belgian-socialist-party-circulates-deep-fake-trump-video/
    It’s on the technology page. Nothing to do with European climate policy or the morality of climate activists then.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I guess this wasn’t actually breaking — it was already broke. WUWT had it early September. I even made a brief comment:

    Canman September 3, 2018 at 10:24 am
    The only way Gleick has popularized science is by inspiring some great posts at Watts Up With That, Climate Etc. and Lucia’s Blackboard.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/09/02/climate-scientist-michael-mann-congratulates-identity-thief-peter-gleick-for-receiving-his-carl-sagan-award/#comment-2447175

    Somehow it made a bigger impression in the tweet. Lately, WUWT’s been having a prodigious amount of posts a day (unlike other climate blogs). It sort of got lost in my mental clutter, or perhaps, (my inner conspiracy ideationist tells me) Mann was running preventive PR interference.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Gleick, my #$%%! 2018 Sagan Prize helping climate parody go mainstream | Watts Up With That?

  14. Pingback: Gleick, my #$%%! 2018 Sagan Prize helping climate parody go mainstream |

  15. Pingback: Gleick, my #$%%! 2018 Sagan Prize serving to local weather parody go mainstream | Tech News

  16. Canman,

    yeah, I agree it should be pronounced like Glike, since that’s how (you know) literate people who know German 101 would say it.

    That’s why I wanted to write:

    Gleick (who claims his name is pronounced /glik/, which means it probably isn’t)

    but it made the sentence too long, even by my standards!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. ‘I plan to donate this cheque, and my body, to Science’ -P Gleick 2018

    ‘I hope they put my body in the Large Hadron Collider. Just to see how fast they can make me go’

    *this quote might be a forgery

    Liked by 3 people

  18. This post got reposted at WUWT four hours ago, as Paul notes above, and Brad is busy replying to comments there. I also commented, asking if Climate Scepticism could now be featured in their sidebar roll of honour. Then I went to Anthony Watts’ top story, which is about the fires raging not far from his home
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/11/11/my-status-and-the-status-of-wuwt/

    and felt more than a bit ashamed of my own egoism. Here’s an extract from Anthony’s article:

    I’ve continued that process of reporting on radio, and also spent a lot of time on local Facebook groups as well as my own FB page, providing information to people in a different way, un-sensationalized like TV news does. Mainly, I’ve sought to calm people with accurate information. As a result, I got the highest complement I have ever received on Facebook: (I’ve never met this lady, we are only acquainted on FB)

    I’ve continued doing that sort of dual role reporting on Facebook and radio since the beginning, while also dealing with personal issues related to the fire, just like so many others have. Every police officer in the town of Paradise lost their home, many state police officers and some Sheriff officers lost their homes. Yet, they are still on the job, protecting the public. There’s no words to describe that sort of dedication.

    Meanwhile, some person called Neil Young who has lost his holiday home due to the fires is blaming Donald Trump’s climate change policy for the loss of his property. He’ll get his million dollars back from the insurance company, so it’s not something to make a song and dance about. And please, please, above all, not a song.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. A pseudo-psci-pspokesman named Peter
    [this line’s just to fill out the metre]
    Set a new trend
    Amongst his climate-y friends
    By being a forger instead of a deleter

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Geoff, ctm replied to your comment at WUWT, to which you could reply by saying something along the lines of we obviously don’t want him to bother Anthony now (or any time soon) about it and we wish him well

    Like

  21. Well, What the heck
    last pronunciation check
    for this train wreck
    I always thought it was Gleick
    who made us say yeach
    that’s correct
    we’ve been Gleicked

    Liked by 2 people

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