One feature of partisanship is the closing of ranks when one of your own is attacked: in this way tribalism becomes a form of mutual protection.
In this respect, and as a newcomer to the controversy on climate change and global warming, I have been greatly impressed and heartened by one article in particular by George Monbiot.
In his Guardian piece Pretending the climate email leak isn't a crisis won't make it go away, Monbiot decided not to take the course of offering reassurances, or making arrogant statements that laypeople cannot understand the science, or attempting to down play it all as some inconsequential teacup storm.
Some seem to regard Monbiot as having over-reacted, as his trenchant article is not easily reconcilable with an instant urge to say nothing is actually wrong there. Others seem concerned that Monbiot's reaction may be playing into the hands of the "denialists" and "sceptics".
In my view, Monbiot's approach was refreshing and engaging.
For, as an onlooker and layperson, it was for me the best thing that Monbiot could have said.
By taking the apparant scandal with utmost seriousness, and by saying that not everything done for a good cause is always defensible, Monbiot at a stroke made me feel far more confident about anything he says on any other environmental subject.
And, it must be said, I am yet to come across similar intellectual honesty and self-criticism from those opposed to the theory of human-caused global warming.
Without such evident openness and integrity, the charge of partisanship is always difficult to counter.
In a way similar to Monbiot, Ben Goldacre's critique of the "dodginess of drug company trials" renders him with credibility when attacking complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for their dodginess: a credibility which is simply missing from almost all CAM enthusiasts in turn attacking mainstream medicine.
It is painful when someone on your "side" seems to be under attack; the greater good may seem to require that the victim be protected, the attackers countered, and the attacks discounted.
But such manifestations of partisanship and tribal loyalty do not necessarily assist in public engagement. Instead, I believe exhibitions of integrity and consistency will probably have a wider and more persuasive effect.
This does not mean that the climate scientists caught up in this alleged scandal should all now be hung out and dried; but it does mean that the first and best response to the attacks is to investigate the apparent misconduct fairly and transparently.
And it looks like Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will do this.
Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the IPCC, is quoted as saying, "We certainly don't want to brush anything under the carpet. This is a serious issue and we will look into it in detail".
Much the best way forward.
From now on, please see my new Blog, Jack's Climate Quest, which will be devoted to my attempts as a layperson to make sense of the global warming and climate change debates.