As noted here recently, Professor David Legates, a climatologist at the University of Delaware, found his university’s approach to freedom of information requests idiosyncratic, to say the least. Whether and in what amount faculty members were required to release documents in response to external FOIA inquiries seemed to be at the discretion of the university, depending on your opinions of controversial issues such as climate change. As a dissenter from the relentlessly touted scientific “consensus” on the certainly of AGW, Legates seemed to get very different treatment from the UD’s general counsel than did some of his departmental colleagues who’d received similar FOIA requests. See the account in this piece by Jan Blits, Legates’s colleague at UD, and NAS affiliate head in Delaware. From start to finish, the episode seemed driven by ideological animus and whimsical legal creativity by the university’s general counsel.
Not unusual, unfortunately. As we’ve often observed, anyone who bucks the “consensus” can get some very rough handling from its more zealous proponents, especially if he has credible scientific standing. There have been similar cases, and they usually remain very far off the radar screen. AGW skeptics like Legates can expect to go it alone without the least murmur of interest from scientific organizations or purported defenders of academic freedom, such as the AAUP.
Legates’s case, by contrast, has attracted some very significant outside attention. On June 3, by invitation of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, he presented an account of his experience to the Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy. You can read his prepared statement here, and view a video of the entire session here.
After several years of dogged perseverance against institutional hostility and collegial isolation, Professor Legates has now had his day, and the public is well served.