The Pacific Institute's 'non-confirmation confirmation'

Parsing the Pacific Institute (Reposted from Bishop Hill to give widest possible exposure)

Jim Lindgren, writing at law blog the Volokh Conspiracy, has been parsing the Pacific Institute’s statement about reinstating Peter Gleick as president, and in particular the following phrase:

An independent review conducted by outside counsel on behalf of the Institute has supported what Dr. Gleick has stated publicly regarding his interaction with the Heartland Institute.

Lindgren notes that, being forged, the strategy document was not part of Gleick’s interaction with the Heartland Institute. Gleick, you will remember, has said that he received it anonymously in the post. Lindgren concludes that there’s a problem.

You’ve heard of non-denial denials. This is a non-confirmation confirmation.  Any lawyer worth his salt would read the Pacific Institute’s statement and assume that, while the investigation supported Gleick on the issue that no one disputed (“regarding his interaction with the Heartland Institute”), it probably did not support (or was silent) on the issue on which the Heartland Institute seemed to have the more likely explanation.

So there are two possibilities: EITHER (1) the report did not support Gleick on the origin of the fake document and the Board of the Pacific Institute is now trying to mislead the public with an evasive press release, OR (2) the Board of the Pacific Institute is extremely incompetent at writing press releases.

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Ron Cram
June 11, 2012 9:19 am

Typically, board members are the biggest fundraisers for non-profits. It will be interesting to see which board members seek to maintain personal credibility and resign from the board. It will also be interesting to see if fundraising goes up or down after this scandal. Ethics certainly do not seem to be highly valued these days.

June 11, 2012 9:22 am

This is what we all figured weeks ago…

Pamela Gray
June 11, 2012 9:25 am

I guess it comes down to what the definition of “it” is.

June 11, 2012 9:26 am

Considering the convoluted “don’t go there” of the statement option 2 is out of the question. This is carefully worded to keep all limbs inside the vehicle while driving through the minefield.

June 11, 2012 9:32 am

Or it’s a fake press release…?

Ian W
June 11, 2012 9:41 am

Option 3 is presumably “both of the above”

June 11, 2012 9:44 am

An independent review conducted by outside counsel on behalf of the Institute has supported what Dr. Gleick has stated publicly regarding his interaction with the Heartland Institute.

That also does not indicate that what Gliek published or stated about Heartland was “supported”, if saying something is not an “interaction with the Heartland Institute”. If only his communications directly with Heartland are an “interaction”, then that is quite a narrow review.

June 11, 2012 9:44 am

Gary says:
June 11, 2012 at 9:32 am
Or it’s a fake press release…?

Could be – of course that would be fine ‘cos we know now that faking things for “the cause” is fine.
Fake memos, fake press releases, fake proxies, fake data – it’s all fine in the wonderful. wacky, post normal world of climatology.

Steve C
June 11, 2012 9:45 am

Hang on, though. If “the investigation supported Gleick on … his interaction with the Heartland Institute”, doesn’t that effectively make the investigators complicit in what numerous comments here have already labelled the crime of wire fraud – with all that that implies?

June 11, 2012 9:47 am

[SNIP: Yes, it is Off Topic. Please submit it to Tips and Notes here. -REP]

June 11, 2012 9:49 am

Why did they use the word supported when what they have done is confirmed the interaction with HI.This particular word must have been discussed and selected in order to achieve a specific purpose. That purpose can only be to mislead the public. The PI has a problem and they know it.
By using this word: (supported), they (in my opinion) have let the cat out of the bag.
Definition of support.
“to agree with and give encouragement to someone or something because you want them to succeed”
Definition of confirm.
“to prove or say that something is true”
That is why they selected “supported” in preference to “confirmed” because it supports that which they are trying to achieve. From my point of view, their motive is confirmed by this ruse
Definition of ruse.
“A trick intended to deceive someone”
I rest my case.

June 11, 2012 9:53 am

Hanlon’s Razor states: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
But then, even this rule has its exceptions.

Tom G(ologist)
June 11, 2012 10:01 am

Independent reviews are NOT conducted by someone retained on ones own behalf. Independent reviews are conducted by an INDEPENDENT reviewer retained by, adn responsible to, some other third party.

June 11, 2012 10:02 am

Ron Cram says:
June 11, 2012 at 9:19 am
“… Ethics certainly do not seem to be highly valued these days.”
Well, it is The Pacific Institute… you expected ethics?
And, as Steve C (June 11, 2012 at 9:45 am) points out, on it’s face it is an independent verification of Gliek’s admission of guilt.
So… when’s the trial?

Lance Wallace
June 11, 2012 10:31 am

I think Lindgren was too quick to comment on the “gullibility” of Felicity Barringer. She states:
“By saying that its investigation . . . confirmed Dr. Gleick’s account, the institute was implicitly backing the scientist’s claim that he was not responsible for cobbling together a document labeled a fake by Heartland, which he disseminated along with other genuine ones.
The bogus document spoke of effective ways for “dissuading science teachers from teaching science” and of “cultivating” respected writers on climate issues. Dr. Gleick said he had received it “in the mail.””
Far from being gullible, Barringer shows how the Institute’s language leads directly to its backing of a “bogus document”. She pulled out the crucial language about dissuading science teachers from teaching science. I also liked her sly way of putting quotation marks around Gleick’s claim that he received it “in the mail.”
Kudos to Barringer for knowing how to read a press release.

June 11, 2012 11:59 am

This seems rather simple to me. If the independent investigation truly came up nothing but roses, isn’t it obvious they’d publish the report? It is to me. Anyone disagree? Clearly, they’re hiding something.

Gunga Din
June 11, 2012 1:16 pm

I think Gleick is innocent. (Of course, that depends on what the definition of what the word “is” is.)

P. Solar
June 11, 2012 1:48 pm

As I have pointed out here and elsewhere, this press release was obviously carefully crafted, in the legal sense, to give the impression of saying things that it does not actually say. It is intentionally minimalistic to avoid saying too much and thus leave the door wide open in case any further evidence comes to light.
As pointed out by Jim Lindgren as well, that press release says NOTHING about whether Gleick was responsible for the fake nor even whether they considered the question.
The second sentence is equally evasive while trying to give the impression that it clears P.I. staff:
This independent investigation has further confirmed and the Pacific Institute is satisfied that none of its staff knew of or was involved in any way.
Read that again … it does not say the investigation was satisfied, it says the investigation “confirms” that P.I. is “satisfied” ! Watch the pea…
EIR: Are you satisfied that none of your staff were aware of what Peter was doing?
PI: Yes.
EIR: Good, then we will add that “finding” to our report.
So after four months of reflection and “investigation” what does this “independent counsel” tell the world. NOTHING. It “supports” what Gleick has already admitted. So what ? It confirms that P.I. are satisfied with being satisfied. So what?
In short, the investigation has not investigated anything at all or P.I. are making sure no one gets to see what it did find. However, it reinstates Gleick on the basis of what they don’t want the world to know.
Also recall that Gleick has not denied that he wrote the fake memo, he simply said that he got it in the post. This does not preclude him from later saying that he sent it to himself, without making himself a liar (again).
This is 100% the tactics of a guilty party that has been carefully briefed by his legal counsel.
I think there is a very high probability that one of the two attorneys that make up EIR is Gleick’s legal counsel in all this and the one that wrote the press release.

June 11, 2012 3:29 pm

Why doesn’t the self confessed liar, wire fraudster and deceiver, Gleick, confess to what is already an open secret?
The answer however, would utterly ruin the man and completely destroy any remnant of credibility he may have left. This is because he would have been caught lying………again.

June 11, 2012 4:17 pm

Where is the envelope?

Mike Hebb
June 11, 2012 5:50 pm

It would be interesting to learn if PI has gained or lost contributors. It would be a real gauge of public reaction and understanding of the situation. Anyone want to fake a call for the list?

richard verney
June 12, 2012 2:16 am

One cannot begin to assess the accuracy of the statement until one scrutinises what Dr. Gleick ‘has stated publicly’ about his ‘interaction’ with Heartland, AND until one defines what is meant by the word ‘interaction’
The word ‘interaction’ could be given a wide or narrow interpretation and that has a material effect. Do you ‘interact’ only when you have direct contact with the party involved, or is indeirect consequence of one’s action sufficient to amount to interacting? For example, if one were to publish information on a bank that suggested that that bank was in immediate severe financial difficulties and could not meet its liabilities and as a consequence of the publication of that information there was a run on that bank with customers withdrawing all their deposits and the bank collapsed, would the person publishing the information be ‘interacting’ with the bank? Would the answer depend upon intention, ie., that the person intended the consequence that occured, he intended the run by depositers on the bank? .
Further, was his ‘interaction’ the issue? Is not the issue the use of information in a document that was not Kosher without using due dilligence to check the accuracy of the document/the information in that document?
To me, the statement made by Pacific Institute is meaningless. I do not know what it means still less whether it is something of significance. It is a spin tactic to make a non statement to direct attention away from the real issue at hand, and I suspect that the statement made by Pacific Institute falls into that class.

June 12, 2012 2:48 am

That is a very artful release but, as noted, it falls apart under the light tapping of basic parsing and common sense. Pacific Institute board has serious players, who in their other roles (e.g. biotech or venture capital or lawyering) deal constantly with how to say exactly what they mean, how to pitch stuff to avoid later SEC or other regulatory blowback, how to protect their reputations at all costs. They have the budget and connections to get an “independent investigation” from what will have been a very sophisticated legal team. They are looking at possible crimes from Gleick’s self-admitted behavior (wiretapping, computer fraud) never mind the forgery that he disclaims. They are looking at the guy who founded and who has led the Institute. They took their time to go over (and over) an apparently very simple set of facts, before finally issuing this anticlimactic statement.
All this suggests to me that they understand the stakes in this game and are seasoned players. I discount almost to zero the possibility that this release reflects naivete or incompetence on their part. That leaves the other interpretation stinking the place up.
I think they are hoping this will just die down. In 1-6 months expect an announcement that Peter Gleick has accepted a challenging new post as dogcatcher

P. Solar
June 12, 2012 4:18 am

Jimbo says:
June 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm

The answer however, would utterly ruin the man and completely destroy any remnant of credibility he may have left. This is because he would have been caught lying………again.

NO. You have not been paying attention. He had never (AFAIK) denied he wrote the forged memo, he only claimed to have got it in the mail.
That does not preclude the possibility that he did forge it and then sent it to himself (or even made the last bit up but it’s unlikely that will ever be proven one way or the other).
Watch the pea …

Brian H
June 12, 2012 9:33 am

tadchem says:
June 11, 2012 at 9:53 am
Hanlon’s Razor states: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
But then, even this rule has its exceptions.

In climatology, Hanlon’s Razor must be reversed. The “benefit of the doubt” has long since been used up. The CAGWers know damn well what they do.

Brian H
June 12, 2012 9:35 am

Further re Hanlon’s Razor: consider well the word “adequately”.
A restatement: “Attribute to malice whatever is inadequately explained by stupidity.” We’ve long since reached that stage.

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