Today's contribution (archived here, latest here) is from Paul "bring back smog" Driessen, who is moaning that an economist should be allowed to breach the rules of the Brookings Institution, and blames it on Elizabeth Warren. Nothing to do with climate science, although Paul did manage to mention Senator Whitehouse in the same article. Chastising him for wanting scientists to declare the entities funding their research, and any potential conflict of interest. He opened in his usual highly exaggerated and misplaced fashion:
As Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition for 15 years, Tomas de Torquemada presided over the interrogation, torture, imprisonment and execution of thousands, for the “crimes” of religious heresy and pretended conversion to Christianity. Historian Sebastián de Olmedo titled him “the hammer of heretics.”
Today Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) are pursuing their own inquisition against perceived “heretics.”
Paul does admit that medieval implements are not being used to torture climate deniers or right wing extremists. He says that it's only because they "don't have" these at their disposal. (I'd say he doesn't know much about Tomás de Torquemada, and didn't even bother reading the Wikipedia article. The chap was a religious zealot, and not a nice man who did awful things by any standard, particularly to Jewish people, but probably not as bad as some at the time.)
Thing is, Paul Driessen confuses conflict of interest with free speech. They are quite separate issues.
In regard to Paul's article - it's mainly about an economist/lawyer, Robert Litan, resigning from his unpaid position with the Brookings Institution. The Boston Globe reports:
David Nassar, a Brookings spokesman, said that Litan violated a Brookings policy by touting his affiliation when he gave testimony on his study before Congress. Nassar said that the study “was not connected with Brookings in any way.”
Conflict of interest is not a free speech issue
Somehow, Paul Driessen has turned this into a free speech issue. It's not. It's a conflict of interest issue, which is quite different. Paul's thinking is not just flawed, it's completely broken. There is nothing stopping Robert Litan from speaking. The Brookings Institution has rules, and they were broken. Elizabeth Warren discovered through questioning Robert Litan at a hearing, that there was potential conflict of interest in Robert Litan's testimony. She was correct to point it out.
Conflict of interest is not straightforward. It's not just up to the person having the potential conflict to announce it, though it's best if they are up front about it. The point is, any potential conflict should be declared. If the person having the potential conflict doesn't declare it, then anyone else who is aware of it should do so. Having a potential conflict of interest doesn't mean that a person will take advantage of it. What it means is that it should be declared so that others can judge whether it will have any bearing on the issue at hand and, if so, what if anything should be done about it.
The other thing is that Paul Driessen claims that Elizabeth Warren applies double standards, because in her election campaign she received donations from various parties. The thing is, the fact that he knows this totally contradicts his claim. He only knows it because the funding was declared. There is no hiding it. It's how political elections work in the USA.
Paul Driessen declares his conflict of interest
Interestingly, Paul Driessen himself declares his conflict of interest. Anthony Watts' article by Paul Driessen has a statement at the bottom, showing what Paul Driessen's interest is - it's as an employee for an extremist right wing lobby group. So that everyone knows that Paul's article is coloured by the interest of not just him, but his employer and the donors:
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive TomorrowThe Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow is a misnomer, but that's to be expected. They could hardly call themselves "The Committee For A Polluted Tomorrow" and expect to be given donations.
From the WUWT comments
The "thoughts" from deniers are all over the place. Some think that conflicts of interest should be declared. Others think they should be hidden.
October 18, 2015 at 4:48 pm
Now I understand why E. Warren didn’t want to run for president….too many dark secrets she wanted to keep dark !! Thanks…
Michael Selden thinks the opposite to Marcus. He decides that the requirement to declare a conflict of interest is tantamount to intimidation. Just what sort of world does he want to live in?
October 18, 2015 at 5:00 pm
These are not to be taken lightly, and are reminiscent of the sort of abuses we saw enacted almost 100 years ago under the espionage and sedition acts. Even without an act being passed, the intimidation is the kind of thing we see on college campuses as well. The fact that these folks see the need to do this is a good indication that they know full well the weakness of the rationale supporting their arguments for more stringent anti-carbon policies. As their case becomes weaker, the calls for abuse become more shrill.
Paul Westhaver chastised Paul Driessen for his representation of history, and this led to further thoughts at WUWT - mostly pro:
October 18, 2015 at 5:19 pm (excerpt)
“execution of thousands”… NOT by this guy!
TobiasN sets out some strategies for dealing with what he strangely calls "fundamentalist liberals" (what is that?)
October 18, 2015 at 5:29 pm
Some strategies when dealing with fundamentalist liberals (if you must):
– Don’t bother explaining what falsifiability is – what it has to do with science. This totally does not work. Liberals like the idea of never being proved wrong.
– Don’t try to mock them. A lot of them think of themselves as freaks in a world which has no normal, so this has little effect.
– Instead, call them gullible whenever you have the goods to back it up. They hate that. They fear people thinking they are stupid.
Just my opinion. And only in general. There are a lot of exceptions.
jabre doesn't like the "dark turn" taken by WUWT. Unlike Paul Driessen, he or she doesn't support corruption in the financial world:
October 18, 2015 at 5:29 pm
This is a dark turn for WUWT. The depths of corruption within the financial world are very deep and twisted. I find this attempt to directly conflate the climate debate with one superficially covered example in finance legislation and oversight troubling. If we are to see many more of these posts you will likely lose my attention quickly.
*Please* keep WUWT focused on climate.
Dick F. calls the US Senators Nazis - arguably the two senators most highly respected for their integrity and honesty:
October 18, 2015 at 7:21 pm
We’ve seen this type before. Just put brown shirts and swastika armbands on Fauxahontas [Warren] and Whitehouse and you’ll recognize them immediately.