When I wrote “Big Organic mounts Asymmetric Warfare attack on public scientist Kevin Folta” I intended Asymmetric Warfare to be a metaphor for rich-organic attacking an individual scientist. I’m very sad to report that it’s no longer a metaphor. Kevin posted this today:
Now there are messages showing up on Craigslist. They are false and defamatory and foment local fervor that could translate to physical harm to my family, home or laboratory.
Is it not obvious that the right thing is for Thacker and Seife to issue a public apology and for PLoS Blogs to require Thacker and Seife to correct their article? If not promptly corrected it should be withdrawn. The “correction” they posted at the end of the article is ridiculous. Thacker and Seife did not remove the false allegation in the body of the article, and did not even link to the update posted at the end, which was written to imply that their allegations were fundamentally true – they had just made a clerical error or two.
This is exactly what the PR strategists at Gary Ruskin’s Just Label It designed. This is what a witch hunt looks like in the age of the Internet.
Asymmetric Warfare is too gentle a term for what these people are doing.