You simply must read science journalist Fred Pearce’s take on the PR blunders made in “ClimateGate,” especially by the University of East Anglia and other institutions. He writes:
The media blizzard that has descended on climate science since the hacking of hundreds of e-mails held on the webmail server at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, is set to become a case study — in public relations disasters, in the folly of incontinent electronic communication, in the shortcomings of peer review, and, very probably, in “how not to save the world.”
The failure of the University of East Anglia to respond substantially to the avalanche of invective from climate skeptics has been a PR disaster that undermined the reputation of science as well as the institution itself. One angry media insider says: “Their response will be taught in university communications courses. Because I’m going to make sure it is.” The university’s failure for a full fortnight to put up a single scientist to defend Phil Jones amounted to cruelty.
Ah, but will scientists and heads of scientific institutions take those communications courses? As we explained in Unscientific America, this is still a rarity, at best.
“ClimateGate” is really the ultimate in demonstrating that the scientific world has got to work vastly harder on communications.