So it is about one year ago that Peter Gleick exposed the too-ashamed-to-admit-it donors of the science denialist industry flack Heartland Organization.Â Michael Tobis has a very comprehensive run-down and analysis of the event over on P3, I recommend it, especially if you need to get up to speed on what I am talking about.
My only comment on the whole morality play aspect of it is that the question “do the ends justify the means” does not have a one size fits all answer.Â I have always been a bit puzzled by the seemingly unquestioned moral hammer that question gets used as.Â Clearly we all make choices in our lives and as a society where the answer to that question is sometimes, even often, yes.Â It is naive or disingenuous to pretend otherwise.Â Sometimes the answer is a resounding, uncontroversial no as well.Â It really depends entirely on the exact nature of the specific means and the specific ends.
Do the ends of getting a patient to the hospital in time justify the means of exceeding the speed limit?Â Clearly as a society we have decided yes, and made allowances in the law.Â What about speeding a loved one with a heart attack in your own vehicle?Â There are many real life examples where it would be hard to argue against the “yes” position and many hard to argue for it.Â And plenty where we could argue endlessly, passionately and sincerely for and against the same proposition.Â It is a personal choice and often one that comes with societal judgement once made.
So, yes, what Peter did was dishonest.Â But personally I have no problem with it given the nature of the act, the people and organization he was dealing with,Â the global stakes of the game the Heartland Institute plays and the good that seems to have come out of it.Â Was it illegal?Â I don’t really know, that is something Peter may have to face and he may have accepted that possibility from the outset.
I am sure other opinions will differ, as I said it is a personal choice.Â But I do not and never have accepted the blanket assertion that the ends never justify the means nor the implied accusation that if one thinks they do in this case then one must accept any manner of atrocity as long as it is well intended.