Amnesty and Gita Sahgal – keeping it in perspective

Flying Rodent has an excellent post here which pretty much nails the arguments over Amnesty International and its dispute with Gita Sahgal, the head of its gender unit over its “association” with Mozam Begg and CagePrisoners. There isn’t much more I can really add, except that if people are making a fuss over this because they are genuinely concerned about Amnesty protecting its reputation (and I don’t doubt this is true in some cases) then they might take care to keep their concerns and the tone in which they express them in proportion on the basis that AI is generally run by pretty decent people who are not terrorist huggers and on the whole does a large amount of very important work which dwarfs any individual (possible) errors of judgement like this. And also take care to distance themselves from those who don’t have such noble motives but are either using this to promote a wider agenda, either to portray all liberal lefty types as appeasers of terrorists and Islamists, or to actively undermine AI itself.
Of course AI should not be immune from criticism – like any organisation it can make mistakes and it hasn’t handled the whole situation very well. But it is perfectly possibly to make pointed but constructive criticism while at the same time making a wider defence of the organisation and its work as well.

The Guardian’s Fred Pearce seems to be confused

The Guardian is not the first place one expects to see stories jumping on the “climategate” bandwagon, but they made a big splash this week with this story by Fred Pearce.

Phil Jones, the beleaguered British climate scientist at the centre of the leaked emails controversy, is facing fresh claims that he sought to hide problems in key temperature data on which some of his work was based.
A Guardian investigation of thousands of emails and documents apparently hacked from the University of East Anglia’s climatic research unit has found evidence that a series of measurements from Chinese weather stations were seriously flawed and that documents relating to them could not be produced.

The “evidence” which supposedly incriminates Jones seems to me to be rather flimsy, but my point is not to argue the rights and wrongs of the accusation. What I find a bit odd is that Fred Pearce seems to have rather changed his view of the hacked emails – after all he had previously published a piece with the headline “How the ‘climategate’ scandal is bogus and based on climate sceptics’ lies” with the sub-heading “Claims based on email soundbites are demonstrably false – there is manifestly no evidence of clandestine data manipulation” in which he wrote

Almost all the media and political discussion about the hacked climate emails has been based on brief soundbites publicised by professional sceptics and their blogs. In many cases, these have been taken out of context and twisted to mean something they were never intended to.

Of course people do sometimes change their positions on particular issues, there’s nothing wrong with that. So how long did it take Pearce to undergo this rather drastic conversion? Well the piece alleging malpractice based on evidence in the hacked emails was posted on the Guardian website at 21:00 on 1st February, whereas the piece claiming that the “climategate” scandal was bogus was posted at , er, 18:04 on the same day, less than three hours earlier.

Is it just me or does Fred Pearce seem to be somewhat confused?