It seems that the tweeting saga at the Royal Society meeting on Arctic sea ice continues. I wasn’t going to write about this, partly because it all seemed so childish that it was best ignored and partly because you could always read views, expressed, by others. However, my noted lack of self-restraint means I can only hold out for so long.
It all started when Prof. Peter Wadhams formally complained about those who tweeted during his talk, saying
I was subjected to unprofessional on-line behaviour of two of the co-organizers: Dr. Mark Brandon (Open University) and Dr.
Sheldon Bacon (National Oceanography Centre) and by one of the participants, Dr Gavin Schmidt, who is Director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
thereby starting a process that has mainly served to indicate that Peter Wadhams has little understanding of what defines professional behaviour.
Mark Brandon, Sheldon Bacon and Gavin Schmidt have responded with a lengthy document, that also includes Peter Wadhams’s initial complaint letters (which went to the Royal Society, the Open University, NASA, University College London, and the University of Southampton).
You might imagine that it all might stop there, with everyone thinking it best to simply let the matter drop. Well, you’d be wrong. Peter Wadhams has doubled down with a new (in fact, this may be letter number 3) letter of complaint, now requesting
i) a meeting with the Royal Society and BBS [Brandon, Bacon, Schmidt] to discuss this matter in person, and
ii) a public apology by BBS and a public statement by the Royal Society on this issue.
I don’t know about everyone else, but it’s my view that unless the person requesting an apology is your partner, your parent, or your boss, an appropriate response to such a request would be piss off, you’re not getting one. On a serious note, what does Peter Wadhams plan to do if he doesn’t get his way? Keep going until people simply give in and apologise, just to get him to shut up? Actually try and damage people’s careers over a few tweets that may have been a little sarcastic (you can read them and make up your own mind), but that were mostly really informative and a fair reflection of his talk?
I have read most of the tweets and actually followed the meeting on Twitter. It was extremely useful and interesting and Mark Brandon – in particular – put a great deal of effort into tweeting relevant comments about the various talks. Peter Wadhams will be doing noone any favours if his actions discourage such activities. It’s clearly my view that he deserves no apology and that his behaviour has been unfortunate at best. On the other hand, Mark, Sheldon and Gavin may disagree and – given how difficult it can be to craft a suitable apology – I thought I might provide a template. I should make it clear that I’m not suggesting that anything said in this template is relevant in this particular case; it’s just an example of how someone might construct a suitable apology. (Given that Peter Wadhams appears to have no sense of humour, it might be best if those involved were not to tweet this post – I’d hate to make things worse).