FOI Requests

This page contains all the relevant stories regarding Freedom of Information requests.

Lewandowsky – University of Western Australia FoI [2012-3] – “Moon Landing Denier” paper, and others

Stephan Lewandowsky, Winthrop Professor of psychology at the University of Western Australia, published a paper entitled “The moon landings were faked, therefore (climate) science is a hoax”. The paper was essentially a vehicle for conveying all of Lewandowsky’s bitterness and hatred for anyone with whom he disagrees on climate, by claiming that they were somehow psychologically deficient. The original post is here:

There were subsequently floods of posts from various blogs on Lewandowsky’s torturing of the data, which in fact showed the exact opposite of the paper’s title:

A Freedom of Information request was therefore submitted requesting copies of the emails to various blogs which Lew claimed had been contacted. A second FOI was lodged to seek out documents relating to the ethical approval for the paper (and its equally ludicrous follow-up, “Recursive Fury”:

There follows the main posts on the FOI materials [which can be downloaded from here – 96MB zip file]

ANU Freedom of Information Request [2011-2] – “Death threats to climate scientists”

Firstly, here is coverage of the original “death threats” story back in June 2011:

Here is the original ABC story on which the FoI request was based:

This article claims:

Several of Australia’s top climate change scientists at the Australian National University have been subjected to a campaign of death threats, forcing the university to tighten security.

Several of the scientists in Canberra have been moved to a more secure location after receiving the threats over their research.

Vice-chancellor Professor Ian Young says the scientists have received large numbers of emails, including death threats and abusive phone calls, threatening to attack the academics in the street if they continue their research.

He says it has been happening for the past six months and the situation has worsened significantly in recent weeks.”

Here is the Privacy Commissioner’s decision:

‘I’ and Australian National University [2012] AICmr 12 (26 April 2012)

The documents can be downloaded here (ZIP file).

Here is the ABC’s response to the release of the documents:

This article fails to mention that the emails contain no “death threats” and continues to allege the following:
“One email, dated June 2, 2010, describes a threat to use a gun against an academic because a conference participant reportedly disagreed with the climate change research.”

This is despite the fact that this allegation was revealed to be an innocent discussion about culling kangaroos.

The ANU document list can be downloaded from the ANU website here (PDF) and the final decision letter from ANU is here (PDF).

And here is the recent coverage following a successful FOI application by Australian Climate Madness to the ANU, and subsequently the Privacy Commissioner:

The ABC then quietly updates it’s latest story with this extraordinary caveat:

UPDATE (May 21): The release of these emails under Freedom of Information followed reports last year (see related stories above) that ANU scientists had received death threats. Climate change sceptics have claimed that the released emails contradict suggestions that any death threats were received, but a spokesperson for the ANU says the university is standing by its claims that death threats were received. Questions have also been raised about whether one of the released emails did, in fact, constitute a threat to use a gun, with a person involved in the kangaroo culling program claiming the comments were made by him, and were in no way intended as a threat.

At least they concede the “gun licence” threat was nothing of the kind, but smear climate sceptics instead. If there were death threats at any time or in any form, why were they not reported to the police? ACM’s story is here:

Further stories on this issue:

The whole saga was dissected on Media Watch that evening (21 May), which, whilst criticising the ABC for not issuing a proper clarification, reserved its real vitriol for The Australian, naturally.

Alan Jones discusses the matter further in his 7am comment on 22 May: link to audio.

ACM posted a wrap-up on 22 May, here:

On 24 May, however, the ABC belatedly issues a correction:

The correction stated that the ANU maintained that staff had received death threats “in other communications not released under the FOI action”. ACM followed this comment up with a further email to ANU requesting details of the threats.

The Weekend Australian of 26 May publishes four articles (including the lead story on Inquirer, and an editorial) on the ABC’s “groupthink” attitude to, amongst other things, the release of the FOI emails, summarised on ACM’s post here:

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