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Being an opinion-maker means never having to say you’re sorry

For pundits with an agenda to push, one of the best things about blogging has to be the fact that new posts appear at the top and old content just fades into the archives. Get something monumentally wrong? It’s no big deal, because if you keep cranking out more blog posts then the dodgy ones will sink to the bottom of the pile and be forgotten. Unless someone happens to keep track of these things and spread the word. And that’s a role Pure Poison can play.

So, here’s a story about Jennifer Marohasy. For those who don’t know the name, Dr Marohasy is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Public Afffairs (IPA), a conservative think-tank with ties to the Liberal Party. As well as producing IPA publications and writing a column in The Land, Jennifer has a blog that she refers to as an online community, despite allowing some of the most abrasive and personally insulting commentators in the blogosphere to comment freely.

It was on her blog last month that Jennifer published a claim that Bond University had dismissed an Adjunct Professor because he had published an article criticising the evidence for global warming. Dr Jon Jenkins published an op-ed in The Australian titled “The warmaholics’ fantasy”. I won’t discuss the flaws in the article here – it’s been done elsewhere by Graham Readfearn and Tim Lambert. Instead, let’s move on to the consequences of the article’s publication. Marohasy reported that:

For his opinion, Professor Jenkins received an official reprimand from the Bond University Registrar and then was informed last Friday that his adjunct status had been revoked.

She didn’t give any indication of her source of the information. She then elaborated on her view of what had happened:

No doubt he has contravened some rule or other at the University and no doubt this would have gone unnoticed if Professor Jenkins had a more popular opinion on these most politically charged subjects.

It’s interesting, and more than a touch ironic, that a scientific opinion writer who claims that we are not sceptical enough was happy to present an unsourced and unconfirmed claim while asserting that there was “no doubt” about what had happened, why it had happened, and what might have been different if Jenkins did not argue against the evidence for global warming.

Fortunately for those interested in the truth, someone was sceptical about Marohasy’s claims. Tim Lambert contacted Bond University and received the following explanation:

Dr Jenkins was a member of staff here for some considerable time and resigned to enter the NSW Parliament.

Dr Jenkins was asked to keep an association with University as an adjunct but indicated in 2008 that serious health problems would probably prevent him taking an active role. As a result Dr Jenkins was removed from the adjunct staff listing in 2008. An administrative oversight resulted in Dr Jenkins not being informed of this change in status.

Assertions that Dr Jenkins has been reprimanded and/or ‘dismissed’ are without foundation.

That cleared everything up. So, Marohasy could have just given her readers the accurate explanation and indicated she was wrong, right? Well, no. Instead, she felt the need to continue to suggest there was climate change politics at play:

That is, an administrative oversight resulted in Dr Jenkins not being informed of his change in status until after he published the controversial opinion piece in The Australian newspaper.

Perhaps if the piece had been more politically correct his name could have just been added back onto the list?

And then she went even further, visiting Lambert’s blog and insisting that “[g]iven you have previously very publicly accused Dr Jenkins of deceit on this issue I suggest you now issue him with a very public apology,” and began making false assertions that Lambert had claimed Jenkins had never held an adjunct position. But her most disingenuous statement was the following:

My original blog piece included both fact and opinion. You may disagree with my opinion (based on the facts and my world view), but the facts stand. Mr Lambert queried the facts unsuccessfully. His opinion (based on his world view), though, has not changed.

Marohasy claimed that “[f]or his opinion,” Jenkins was reprimanded and then dismissed – an assertion of fact that turned out to be wrong. She suggested there was “no doubt” that the university had done so on some technical violation that “no doubt” would have been overlooked if his views were different – and maintained that opinion even after the facts were clarified. When her description of the facts was shown to be wrong, she nonetheless managed to maintain her opinion.

“No Doubt” Marohasy, that is not the way a sceptic or a scientist should think. Your readers deserve better. And this sort of intellectual dishonesty should not be forgotten.

29
  • 1
    Posted February 19, 2009 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Scientists are all pernicious leftists anyway. Evidence and data are the work of communist feminazis.

  • 2
    Posted February 19, 2009 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    As GrodsCorp reader Toaf once said to a minnow of the blogging world:

    “Spot on, Leon. Anyone who points out a lack of baseline data and clear objectives is clearly a commie.”

  • 3
    Posted February 19, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    No doubt Dr Marohasy may have been moved perhaps and perchance to speculate and conjecture about Dr Jenkins by the probable possibilities of potentialities that may have been revealed in other speculations that she (or others) may or may not have been a party to?

    Ah, crap. My head just asploded.

  • 4
    jc123
    Posted February 19, 2009 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Marohasey was right to suggest Lambert apologize to the victim.

    Lambert incessantly emailed the guy, called his university, raised doubts about whether he was an adjunct professor, also raised doubts about whether he even had a PhD and then to add icing on the cake, Shiny (that’s Lambert) even gave away the vicinity in terms of where Jenkins lived which in a rural area doesn’t take much to work out where he would live.

    So Tobias, are you on crack or just a bad dose of heroine as I would reckon the real story ought to eb about Lambert’s antics? it almost borders on stalking if not outright breach of Jenkins privacy. Doncha think?

    Now Tobias, don’t wonder off in some delusional corner of your mind … just focus on what i said for a few minutes and then think about the fact that you may have written a piece about the wrong person.

  • 5
    brokenleftleg
    Posted February 19, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    In private, Marohasey would be in no doubt she’s been pwned.
    In public, there is no doubt she won’t be admitting it.

  • 6
    Posted February 19, 2009 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    jc123 – yes, Tim Lambert attempted to investigate the claim – which is what one has to resort to doing when someone posts an unsubstantiated report making a rather serious claim. That’s how the true story ended up being published – Marohasy added a quote of the response Lambert had received from Bond University.

    As it turns out, raising doubts about whether he was an adjunct professor was fair enough. Note that from his initial post on the topic, Lambert noted that he had found an archived page indicating Jenkins was an adjunct at Bond in the past – so your repetition of Marohasy’s claim that Lambert said he was never an adjunct is pointless. And based on the information in his posts, Lambert (i) contacted Jenkins to ask about his qualifications and noted that he has not received a reply, and (ii) stated that Jenkins lives “close to the border on the NSW side” – neither of which seems like a terrible breach of protocol or privacy.

    So, jc123, I’ve thought about what you said, and I still think writing a piece about someone who made an unsubstantiated claim of politically-motivated termination and then maintained the claim even though her account of the facts turned out to be completely wrong was the way to go. Cheers.

  • 7
    jc123
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    “Tobais”

    “…stated that Jenkins lives “close to the border on the NSW side” – neither of which seems like a terrible breach of protocol or privacy.”

    Coming from a person that writes under a pen name to protect his/her privacy but thinks it’s ok to say Jenkins lives near the NSW border (obviously within commuting distance) from the university. Seriously what are you using, because it doesn’t seem to be heroine? LOL

    So why do you write under pen name, ” Tobias”.

    Yea, he emails the guy, the uni, speaks to the administration about the guy. Is lambert a media maven now/ LOL

    Stop being an idiot.

  • 8
    nickws
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 3:36 am | Permalink

    So Tobias, are you on crack or just a bad dose of heroine as I would reckon the real story ought to eb about Lambert’s antics? it almost borders on stalking if not outright breach of Jenkins privacy. Doncha think?

    Now Tobias, don’t wonder off in some delusional corner of your mind
    Seriously what are you using, because it doesn’t seem to be heroine? LOL

    So why do you write under pen name, ” Tobias”.

    Yea, he emails the guy, the uni, speaks to the administration about the guy. Is lambert a media maven now/ LOL

    Stop being an idiot

    Where the hell do these… thing-trolls come from?

    And why do I feel the need to give the impression I’m responding to this thing-troll?

    Well, geez, at least it almost has a point about the mean, bad blogger asking mean, bad questions–except I find it hard to believe it has properly thought through the implications of either (a.) not allowing journalists to ask mean, bad questions vis a vis a free and open society, or (b.) not allowing bloggers to function as amateur journalists, ‘coz of course in a liberal democracy you can’t ‘licence’ journalists the way you licence tradesmen or doctors.

    Way to go thing-troll: this is exactly what happens when you spend too much time making pathetic insinuations about people you disagree with (“heroine”? buy a dictionary, thing-troll!) or creeping us all out with bizarre childish ‘LOL’s (forgive me if you actually are ‘laughing out loud’ while you write your humourless rant, dear thing-troll.)

  • 9
    jc123
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Nick

    I’m not a troll, you are, you dickhead. What point are you trying to make anyway. Do you even have one?

    If you haven’t got a counter than stfu, you moron.

  • 10
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Resorting to name-calling and abuse is trolling, jc123.

  • 11
    jc123
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    No it’s not. It just shows a low level of tolerance for idiocy, Bron.

    We have “Tobby” implying that the privacy he desires only applies to him and not Jenkins as a result of the poisonous cherub (Lambert) basically telling people where Jenkins lived.

    Tobby thinks that’s ok. However Tobby prefers to keep his own information private as he doesn’t post under his real name.

    And I thought this site was supposed to be combating hypocrisy. Yea right. Tobby’s very first post is exhibit A for hypocrisy.

    This site is sure going to be good. I read somewhere that Blair thinks it has all the makings of web diary. I reckon he’s right.

  • 12
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    jc123 is another one of [name and link removed]‘s sock puppets. It’s likely he’s here because I linked to this post. My apologies.

  • 13
    John Surname
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    So he IS a troll – a professional troll!

    I have low levels of tolerance for trolls normally, but now I ask him to stay and refresh often.

  • 14
    jc123
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    “Tobby”

    You’re still defending the poisonous cherub (Tim Lambert UNSW) after he basically tells people where Jenkins lives and now is pasting people’s names on your site when he has no idea?

    I note, “Tobby” you prefer to maintain your privacy so are you going to allow Tim Lambert’s (UNSW) assertion without a deletion?

    Tim lambert is the person who sends out hate mail to people he disagrees with and seems to only stop when he’s he’s threatening with formal action.
    See here:
    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2008/05/08/legal-eagles-take-flight/

    And Tim, if you just want to go around putting me down I suggest you give people a bit of a background i.e. just because I carelessly aimed a snark at you once, you sent me not one but *three* abusive emails and have been back to hounding me since. you really are a vindictive little twerp and if you continue this I may just be inclined to publish those emails and tell you boss about them, ok? get over it. I made one snark at you and you’ve been spending the last few months trying to get back at me. get some psychiatric help.

  • 15
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Folks, I want to note at this point that this blog expects commenters to follow Crikey’s Code of Conduct. I am reluctant to start editing or deleting comments as they stand, but any further direct insults, rehashing of old personal disputes or speculation about things that don’t relate to the issues at hand could change my mind.

  • 16
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Incidentally, in the Marohasy post you linked to, [name removed]‘s sock puppet is called “Ra”. I believe he gives Graeme Bird a run for his money in terms of abusiveness.

  • 17
    jc123
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Tim lambert (UNSW)
    Abuse? You ought to talk.ROTFL

    The poisonous cherub will no doubt be publishing what he thinks is address next. All Jenkins had to do for that treatment was get referred to by Jenifer M in one of her posts.

    Not only basically publishing where he lives, but raising questions about Jenkins academic record, what his position was at the university, calling the iniversity, emailing Jenkins………

    ———–

    Tell the people what language you used in those 3 emails you sent to the victim I linked to above, Tim.

    ” f…. g arsehole, lying piece of S..t” . (did I leave anything out)

    Would you refer to that as hate mail/ abuse or does that just apply to other people, timbo, you giant among men.

  • 18
    nickws
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    27fc14f7

    I’m not a troll, you are, you dickhead. What point are you trying to make anyway. Do you even have one?

    If you haven’t got a counter than stfu, you moron

    RRRiiighhttt

    Tell the people what language you used in those 3 emails you sent to the victim I linked to above, Tim.

    ” f…. g arsehole, lying piece of S..t” . (did I leave anything out)

    Would you refer to that as hate mail/ abuse or does that just apply to other people, timbo, you giant among men

    Thing-troll, you’ve totally lost every sentient being reading this thread.

    You link to an oh-so-polite Larvatus Prodeo comments section in which nobody is swearing at anyone, and you think you have some kind of smoking gun about Lambert?!

    ” f…. g arsehole, lying piece of S..t” . (did I leave anything out)</em?

    Thingy, do you honestly believe anyone, even those inclined to sympathise with your POV, is going to accept your claim of TL using abusive language against Dr Jenkins?

    Come now, admit it, something has snapped in your mind, and you now actually believe yourself to be Tim Lambert, thus the above quote from ‘Tim Lambert’ is really just something like you talking in a funny voice to your pet budgie…

  • 19
    jc123
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Riiigghht

    Thing-troll, you’ve totally lost every sentient being reading this thread.

    except you, you clown.

    Did you take a stupid pill? I never said the poisonous cherub used that language towards Dr. Jenkins. I was to someone else.

    I said he used it against the person who mentioned it in the LP link. take another look, Einstein.

    Shall we ask Tim Lambert (UNSW) if he used that sort of language in those emails?

    Lets.

    Tim did you use that language in those emails? Tell him, Tim. Go on don’t be bashful, Mr. polite lecturer from UNSW IT.

    Lambert also publishes peoples IP addresses on blog sites in order to get back at them.

  • 20
    nickws
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    except you, you clown

    Oh, words fail me. You win the entire argument, thing-troll! (I kid, of course. I’m just a total stinker when it comes to provoking anti-social ne’er do wells LIKE YOU [name removed]…)

    Did you take a stupid pill? I never said the poisonous cherub used that language towards Dr. Jenkins. I was to someone else.

    I said he used it against the person who mentioned it in the LP link. take another look, Einstein.

    Shall we ask Tim Lambert (UNSW) if he used that sort of language in those emails?

    Lets.

    Tim did you use that language in those emails? Tell him, Tim. Go on don’t be bashful, Mr. polite lecturer from UNSW IT.

    Lambert also publishes peoples IP addresses on blog sites in order to get back at them

    Wait, I’m confused, [name removed], or as I like to call you/it–thing-troll.

    So you’re no longer defending Dr Jenkins?

    Instead you’re ‘defending’ people on an LP thread where nothing bad was said by anyone? And your evidence of wrong-doing are offending Emails which almost certainly don’t exist, but which you somehow expect TL to admit to writing?

    Emails to whom? [names removed]? (I just imagine you counting two instances of yourself in drag as being two other separate ‘individuals’ who were assaulted by Lambert’s killer Emails, thing-troll…)

    Okay, this is the last interaction I’ll have with [name removed], as I know that even though it might be fun for me it does nothing for the new website.

  • 21
    jc123
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Gee, being called a troll really is upsetting, “Riggghhht.”

    You win the entire argument, thing-troll! (I kid, of course. I’m just a total stinker when it comes to provoking anti-social ne’er do wells LIKE YOU [name removed]…)

    Of course, i win the argument, Rigggghhhtt. The only thing you provoke is laughter.

    So you’re no longer defending Dr Jenkins?

    There was no need to defend Jenkins. It was clear he was a victim of the poisonous cherub’s disturbed behavior, which as I explained to Tobby’s Oats was where the real story.

    Tobby’s Oats of course ignored that. It was er, uninteresting to him.

    Instead you’re ‘defending’ people on an LP thread where nothing bad was said by anyone? And your evidence of wrong-doing are offending Emails which almost certainly don’t exist, but which you somehow expect TL to admit to writing?

    Why would conclude it doesn’t exist. Have you asked the offender? Ask him.

    Tim, please tell Rigghttt I’m right.

    (I just imagine you counting two instances of yourself in drag as being two other separate ‘individuals’ who were assaulted by Lambert’s killer Emails, thing-troll…)

    Don’t you know how to click on a link?

    Okay, this is the last interaction I’ll have with [name removed], as I know that even though it might be fun for me it does nothing for the new website.

    You’re certainly MENSA material aren’t you, Riggggtttt.

  • 22
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    FYI – I’m not putting up with any more name-calling and personal attacks in this thread. jc123 has been placed on moderation; don’t respond in kind unless you would like to end up under the same conditions.

    Comments addressing the issues in the post are still invited and welcome – including from those placed in the moderation queue.

  • 23
    Chris W
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    JC, what IS clear is that Jenkins wasn’t dismissed by Bond for that opinion piece in the Australian. By the time it was published (06/01/2009) he’d already indicated to the university that he couldn’t continue i.e. he’d resigned.

    Jennifer’s post was claptrap.

  • 24
    jc123
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    chris

    Even if I take your word for it, that Jenkins wasn’t removed for that reason, Dr. Jenkins was a side show to the entire thread as Lambert was really attacking Jennifer M.

    Yet, Jenkins received what seemed to be several hostile emails from Lambert, the administration gets called by Lambert, and Lambert publishes information where the guy lives.

    Tobias thinks that’s par for the course.

  • 25
    nickws
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Dr Jenkins was asked to keep an association with University as an adjunct but indicated in 2008 that serious health problems would probably prevent him taking an active role

    One thing I thought should be addressed was whether or not Jenkins is seriously ill, and if so does this mean Mahorasy was taking advantage of him?
    I’m assuming Dr Jenkins might not be talking to anyone because either he wasn’t in on any of this, or he was part of the deception but his physical condition prevents him from trying to talk himself out of trouble. I feel sorry for him if I’m right on either point.

    Also, I’m not responding to the troll, this is to Tim Lambert if he’s reading: Tim, this guy is basically mad because someone dropped the f-bomb on him after he’d made a thousand-or-so abusive posts, right? Also, you compare him to Graeme Bird; I imagine this means that the likes of Soon probably aren’t very keen on J__ C______ riding in on his stallion and declaring himself to be Jason and co.’s knight in shining armor…

  • 26
    Posted February 21, 2009 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    nickws, I think that Jenkins was genuinely mistaken and thought that he had been fired (though he must have been pretty careless in reading the message he got from Bond). He didn’t try to pretend that he had been fired for his opinions after Bond corrected the record — that was all Marohasy’s doing. So we shouldn’t consider him to be dishonest like Marohasy.

  • 27
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Just to dispense with the furphy about alleged breaches of Dr Jenkins’ privacy – here is his final newsletter as a Member of NSW’s Legislative Council, with post-Parliament contact details included. So, the information Dr Jenkins himself has made available gives considerably more detail than any statements about his location than I have seen from others. I would also echo Tim’s sentiment that the issue here is not with Dr Jenkins, but with Marohasy’s inaccurate claims about the termination of his position and the reasons for it.

    Of course, none of the speculation about what happened after Marohasy’s claims can justify or support Marohasy’s actions in publishing an unsubstantiated claim about a politically-motivated termination. Anyone who wants to make an argument as to why it was appropriate and how it can be reconciled with Marohasy’s claims to promoting scepticism, go for it.

  • 28
    Posted February 23, 2009 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    A note that I have edited comments in this thread to remove suggestions about the identity of jc123. The person in question has been blacklisted for continued abuse and irrelevant posting after being placed on moderation and won’t be discussed any further on this site.

  • 29
    Jon Jenkins
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    It’s funny but whenever people are the subject of these sorts of character assassination blogs they are rarely invited to participate. It was the same on Lambert’s Deltoid blog where his accusations bordered on defamation. Even when I agreed to leave the personal issues aside and challenged him to debate the scientific issues Lambert continued to attack me personally! But to be honest I really don’t care, I am not the issue: IT IS ABOUT THE SCIENCE.

    Although the facts were simple the timing was what complicated the issue. I had been a full time staff member at Bond for over 10 years and was originally invited there during the [several] attempts to get a medical school up and running which did eventually happen just after I entered Parliament. At that stage I was still on the full time staff list and was asked to stay on as an adjunct for numerous reasons but mostly because people with combined medical and computing backgrounds are hard to find and at that stage there were plans to make the medical school a “dry” school i.e. anatomy/chemistry etc are taught with computers i.e. Virtual Reality as opposed to the more traditional “wet” labs.

    When I resigned from Parliament I was still on the adjunct list and although seriously ill had wanted to go back to some form of research role even if it was only trivial. However after becoming seriously ill again when attempting to become involved with a remote patient monitoring trial I informed the University that I was unable to participate further. But lets get it clear:

    I did NOT resign from the University and was still on the staff list and receiving staff emails until at least December 2008!

    At the time I wrote the article for the Aus I had not been informed of any change of status. It was only AFTER the piece appeared that I was informed in a reprimand letter that I was no longer on the adjunct staff. I interpreted it that I had been removed from BECAUSE of the letter! However the University says this was not the case and I spoke to the VC and Registra who apologised for the “oversight” explaining that it had been assumed that I because I had been intractably ill and withdrawn from the clinical trial I no longer wished to be a staff member. Do I believe that? To be honest I am not sure …. my “removal”, the Aus Article, the new “School of Sustainable Development” and the letter is coincidental, however I would have thought that for someone of my status within the University a formal letter of termination (either initiated from the University) or as a response to my alleged resignation would have been appropriate and standard practice.

    So, as I said on Lambert’s blog, if any fault lies anywhere it is with me because without knowing that I had been deleted form the staff list the letter from the University seemed to indicate that I had been removed as a result of the Aus article. In any case the letter sent to the Aus was from me personally and contained no mention of the University at all, rather it was the Aus who added my University status without my knowledge!

    In closing I note however that the real issue of the junk science surrounding climate has again escaped scrutiny and Lambert has done his job well [his skills are well practised] by diverting the real debate away from the science to personal attacks on anyone who challenges the political agenda of global warming.

One Trackback

  1. By On short memories - Pure Poison on June 3, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    ...] As I have noted before, the great thing about being an opinion-maker is that you can make a claim that turns out to be wrong or unsubstantiated, but rest easy in knowing that your original post will have dropped off the front page and people will be busy discussing your new content by then. Andrew Bolt has the added advantage of not being a single-issue blogger, meaning that when one bit of cherry-picked evidence falls to pieces he can divert direct his readers’ attention to something completely different. [...

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