An issue I explore in Red Hot Lies is how, although alarmists assail skeptics who prefer anonymity (to avoid being the latest victim of a demonstrated pattern of retribution for speaking out), several of the nastiest alarmists themselves hide behind pseudonyms and pen names.
Along that line, one scientist wondered to me rhetorically, “Why is Joshua Halpern, a chemist at Howard University with connections to NASA hiding behind the [blogger] name ‘Eli Rabett’? Skeptics being attacked had the courage to speak out independently and publicly, yet criticisms of these people are mostly from people that hide their identity.” To the extent that “Rabett” is substantively memorable for anything it is for a miserably failed effort to discredit Nir Shaviv over the Svensmark cloud experiment, “getting his scientific butt well and truly kicked” in the words of one scientist. But substantive commentary is not the distinguishing characteristic of “Rabett’s” public utterances; instead, he likes to call names as much as hide his own.
The decision by “Eli Rabett” to engage in personal attacks does not come in a vacuum; he may simply not want people to know of his financial ties to NASA/GISS. That, after all, might cloud their judgment about his ceaseless cheerleading for GISS’s results (which stand out for their deviation from the three other major temperature measuring programs). NASA has a joint fellowship program alternating years with Howard University (even years) and the University of Maryland (odd years). The funding is generated by the NASA Faculty Fellowship Program, NASA’s point man at Howard is Joshua Halpern. In other words, this is significant funding for the graduate program in meteorology at Howard U. is provided by NASA through Halpern, the financial link between GISS and “Eli Rabbet’s” rabid support of the Hansen crowd, another page lists Halpern as a staff member.
It seems likely that “Rabett’s” fear driving him to anonymity is that his alarmism will be frowned upon by those actually guarding the taxpayers’ interests — but certainly not NASA, home to notable alarmists James Hansen and Hansen’s spokesman, Gavin Schmidt, who blogs at taxpayer expense for the Soros-funded RealClimate.org. However, “[Rabett] is a laser spectroscopist with no formal training in climatology and theoretical physics.” In short, he is not qualified to comment on the issues if we apply the standard that alarmists selectively apply to those who don’t accept their prophesying.
So it seems that skeptics who choose to remain anonymous do so for obvious fear of the professional (and as Tim Ball, Tom Segalstad, and others have learned — stories I chronicle in Red Hot Lies — the threat of personal) consequences of publicly expressed heresy. The alarmists, however, face no negative repercussions for their beliefs; they clearly hide their identity because of their behavior, defamatory and otherwise.
After one scientist today yet again asked the question on Rabbett’s blog why Joshua Halpern was hiding behind this name — only to see Rabbett erase the comment — another noted in an e-mail “Now what is this about ‘deniers’ being funded by ‘big oil’? RealClimate bloggers like Schmidt and Halpern are supported by Big Climate proponents like NASA’s Goddard.” Not all of us taxpayers appreciate funding such people. I think it’s time to ask NASA for some related funding documents. Of course, this will only add to the list of FOIA requests of mine (re: Schmidt’s taxpayer-funded blogging) that they’re refusing to comply with.