A note about boundaries

A note about boundaries“. I said I’d start covering Anthony Watts posts on WUWT again tomorrow, but this post by Anthony was too ironic to pass over. Anthony is complaining that a critic intruded into his personal life! Oh, the hypocrisy.

I certainly support the principle that people’s personal lives are private. I am without question a very small fish in a large pond, but already in the short life of this website I’ve experienced intrusive activity by denialists that could be characterized as attempts to intimidate or discredit me (OMG, I have a facebook account! With friends!). Unless the topic is religion, for example, a person’s religious convictions are irrelevant. Does it really matter how big Al Gore’s house is?

If Anthony’s description of this particular person’s behavior is accurate (a big if) then they’ve definitely crossed the line. Challenging a denialist in a public forum, whether online or at a relevant public event, is legitimate (that if fact is the purpose of this website) but accosting them outside of that context is not.

Unfortunately Anthony Watts has made a habit of prying into the lives of his opponents and “researching” people making critical comments on his blog. He’s also been quick to publish e-mail and postal addresses of scientists or journalists he doesn’t like to enable his followers to harass them. It seems to me that Anthony’s own comfort with skipping over the line when it suits him diminishes the legitimacy of his protestations about privacy.

12 thoughts on “A note about boundaries

  1. I didn’t notice any mention of a police involvement.
    If this person has done all those things as claimed by Watts… why haven’t the cops been called??

    [Good question. It can be hard to get the police to take an interest in these kinds of matters though. – Ben]

  2. “He’s also been quick to publish e-mail and postal addresses of scientists or journalists he doesn’t like to enable his followers to harass them.”

    Interesting point. Can you cite such a publication?

    [Well you can search here for the tag “dog-whistle” for some examples of enabling harassment of scientists, staff, and journalists. There was also a recent exchange, which I can’t locate at the moment, in some WUWT comments where Anthony angrily revealed that a critical commenter was posting from a “government” IP address (scandalous!) and that he knew the anonymous, and by explicit association scummy, commenter’s real name. My own experience last year when I was still trying to comment on WUWT posts is that Anthony was quick to mention private irrelevancies such as the fact that I was posting from a Macintosh computer, which I presume he deduced through amateur computer forensics. My interpretation was he wanted to let me know that he ‘knew where to find me’. Charmingly juvenile. – Ben]

  3. Don’t even get me started on Watts and his prying into personal stuff. He did that to me when I had the gall to question him.

    [Ditto. – Ben]

  4. @Ben: I did the search for dog-whistle and think you are talking about this: “Perhaps the UCSD President might benefit from some communications about the use of his institute to label people with differing views on science.” and includes a link to the insitution contact information.

    Is this it?

    [That is indeed an example. If Anthony doesn’t like your position he’s going to encourage his followers to pester you. – Ben]

  5. I suspect this whine from Watts is as genuine as the scientific purpose of surfacestations. I think it’s as bogus as hell, a mud-slinging exercise against AGW supporters.

    [Could be. Denialist deceptions have a way of unravelling with time, so we’ll keep our eyes open. = Ben]

  6. Posted at Tamino’s and I think worth posting here…

    After reading Anna Haynes’ account, I think this is in danger of being blown a bit out of proportion.

    Watts is a public figure who courts attention and influences public policy.

    Anna Haynes has tried to get a response from him before on a little known aspect to his business side, zev2go. The unconfigured website for zev2go has the business address for all to see.

    It’s the same as Intelliweather.

    She turned up at his place of business, which is the address given for zev2go at their website.

    She didn’t storm in making outrageous demands or threatening anyone.

    He comes out, realises who she is and asks her to leave.

    She leaves. She’s not required to put duct tape on her mouth on the way out.

    End of.

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