Team Science apologizes badly, widens rift with Mauna Kea protectors.

It's hard to undo the harms to relations between scientists and publics from a problematic email when scientists can't manage to apologize well.

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  1. If you're just catching up on the controversy about building the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea, you may want to read some of the pieces linked here:
  2. That story was largely prompted by an email that originated with Prof. Sandra Faber (UC-Santa Cruz) and that was forwarded and endorsed by Prof. Alex Filippenko (UC-Berkeley). That email was sent to many recipients:
  3. Some of those recipients thought the email was problematic, and shared it. At least one recipient of the version forwarded by Filippenko posted a screenshot. As of this morning, that screenshot was no longer working, so here's another:
  4. Yesterday, the Chair of the UC-Berkeley Department of Astronomy (who neither wrote nor forwarded the problematic email trying to rally support for TMT) offered an apology for that email:
  5. It's a good apology.
  6. It recognizes that the original used inflammatory and insensitive language, dismissing and trivializing the concerns of others, particularly of the native Hawaiians expressing their concerns about the TMT project on Mauna Kea. Folks making apologies could do worse than using this one as a model.
  7. We also heard that Faber and Filippenko had offered apologies. Oddly, these apologies for problematic emails that had become very public were offered in private.
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