I guess that if you can’t destroy a scientist’s work, you can always try to destroy the scientist’s reputation and thus attempt via an ad hominem attack to cast a shadow of doubt in the public’s mind over the facts. Ad hominems are a favourite fallacy of the general public, so they are primed for this message, no matter how fallacious it is. The public’s appetite for witch hunts is notorious.
The ATI is defending their inquisition as tit-for-tat — if the Democrats can ask for inquiries into Clarence Thomas’s income (that conservative darling) or inquire into outside income by members of Congress, James Hansen should be fair game.
Of course, that’s just meant to anger ATI’s constituency of rightwingnuts and deniers.
Here’s an excerpt from the post:
ATI obtained Dr. Hansen’s Form SF 278, which is required to be filed annually, also under the Freedom of Information Act. The disclosure revealed that Dr. Hansen received between $236,000 and $1,232,500 in outside income in 2010 relating to his taxpayer-funded employment, which included:
• Between $26,008 and $72,500 in honoraria for speeches;
• Between $150,001 and $1.1 million in prizes;
• Just under $60,000 in the form of in-kind income for travel to his many outside-income generating activities
The travel reporting marked the first time Hansen detailed such “in-kind” benefits, which included apparent first-class travel for him and his wife on trips to Australia, Japan, and Norway. The new detail raises the question of whether Dr. Hansen wrongly submitted forms in previous years, which he left blank and attested “none” in the space where he is required to report travel expenses taken as part of his outside employment, all in years in which he was busy with numerous paid outside activities of the same sort as he was in 2010.
“Now that Dr. Hansen’s outside income has come under scrutiny, we see a newfound attention to detail on forms where he reports about these sources,” said Christopher Horner, ATI’s director of litigation. “It also shows that Dr. Hansen continues to enjoy a healthy level of earnings that supplement – and for his curious exploitation of – the taxpayer-funded position he holds.”
There’s no secret that conservatives and Republicans hate public servants. They hate government on principle (although they are quite happy to feed at the public trough). Hansen enjoys a very high public profile and has a compelling and very trust-inspiring personna. He is a prime target for the smear campaign, the witch hunt, the inquisition simply because his science is not in question anywhere except in the minds of the so-called “skeptics” and deniers.
So, recently, we’ve seen the anti-science denialist machine attack climate scientists like Charles Monnett in an attempt to smear him personally so as to diminish his science so as to ensure drilling and development in the Arctic can progress unhindered. We saw the attack on the CRU and Phil Jones. We’ve seen the deniers attack Trenberth. Michael Mann has been subject to repeated FOIA requests, inquiries and investigations.
None of them have come up with anything of substance but to the denialist machine, that doesn’t really matter.
If you throw enough dirt at someone or some group, sooner or later, some of it will stick.