Friday, March 21, 2014

Litigious Climate Scientist Michael Mann's Highly Selective SLAPP-Shtick

I don't get it--Mark Steyn writes a brief blog post that's dismissive of Michael Mann's hockey stick graph and gets SLAPPED with a Mann-caused lawsuit. But back in 2010 climate change skeptic A.W. Montford published an entire book in Steyn's vein--The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science; it was Amazon U.K.'s #2 best selling climate book that year--and no suit ensued.

Here's Wikipedia's synopsis of the best-seller:
The Hockey Stick Illusion first outlines a brief history of climate change science with particular emphasis on the description of the Medieval Warm Period in the first IPCC report in 1990, with its inclusion of a schematic based on central England temperatures which Montford describes as a representation of common knowledge at that time, with global medieval temperatures apparently higher than modern temperatures. He then argues that a need to overturn this "well-embedded paradigm" was met by the 1998 publication by Michael E. Mann, Raymond S. Bradley and Malcolm K. Hughes' of their "hockey stick graph" in Nature.[8] The book describes how Steve McIntyre first became interested in the graph in 2002 and the difficulties he found in replicating the results of "MBH98" (the original 1998 study) using available datasets, and further data which Mann gave him on request.[9] It details the publication of a paper by McIntyre and Ross McKitrick in 2003 which criticized MBH98, and follows with Mann and his associates' rebuttals. The book recounts reactions to the dispute over the graph, including investigations by the National Academy of Science and Edward Wegman and hearings held on the graph before the United States House Energy Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Efforts taken by other scientists to verify Mann's work and McIntyre's and others' responses to those efforts are described.[10] 
The last chapter of the book deals with what the book calls "Climategate". Here, the author compares several e-mails to the evidence he presents in The Hockey Stick Illusion. Montford focuses on those e-mails dealing with the peer review process and how these pertained to Stephen McIntyre's efforts to obtain the data and methodology from Mann's and other paleoclimatologists' published works.[11]
Why no SLAPP crap re that cheeky tome, Professor Mann?

FYI, the infamous alarmist is predicting--in Scientific American, no less--that in 2036 "global warming will cross a dangerous threshold."

Oooo. Scary.

Update: An article on the Newsweek site may shed light on the reasoning behind Mann's lawsuit:
The suit filed by Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, claims that the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) libeled him in a pair of articles in which they stated he had manipulated climate data and that the fraud had been covered up by his employer, which said its investigation concluded he had done nothing wrong. To make the point, the CEI writer, Rand Simberg, drew a comparison between Penn State's handling of abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky - the university's longtime assistant football coach convicted as a child molester - and its review of Mann's work. 
"Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data," Simberg wrote in the article Mann says is libelous. 
Mark Steyn, a writer with National Review Online, wrote about the Simberg article and tossed in his own thoughts. While at first openly shying away from the Sandusky metaphor, Steyn called some of Mann's most prominent work "fraudulent" - a graph of historical temperatures showing rapid rises in modern times, which is widely known as the "hockey stick." Then Steyn returned to the references to the child molester. 
"Graham Spanier, the Penn State president forced to resign over Sandusky, was the same [person] who investigated Mann," Steyn wrote. "And, as with Sandusky...the college declined to find one of its star names guilty of any wrongdoing." He went on to say that the investigation "was a joke." 
Ugly stuff. Accusations of scientific fraud, lies, cover-ups and then comparisons with some of the most horrific crimes imaginable. Because of the prominence of his research in climate change science, similar - though rarely so caustic - attacks had been leveled at Mann for years by skeptics. But circumstances had changed. Not only had the two writers gone further than most by creating an equivalence between Mann and an infamous child molester, but they appear to have done so at the worst possible time.
Why is this suddenly "the worst possible time"? Could it be because most Americans are no longer taking the eco-alarmist bait, thus imperiling the influence and reputation of Mann and his climatology confreres? That's how it sounds to me, anyway:
For months before those articles, Mann and other climatologists had been speaking among themselves about the need to start fighting back against the attacks on their work and their character. The science is on their side, they argue, and by not responding aggressively against the skeptics, they have allowed the discussion to become derailed. And if critics have slandered or libeled them, they shouldn't stand for it. 
"If we don't step up to the plate, we leave a vacuum [for] those with an ax to grind," Mann says, while cautioning that he would not specifically address the lawsuit. Mann has no doubt some critics are advancing their positions honestly, but he believes that responding to bad-faith attacks on climatologists and their work is "a call to arms to our fellow scientists. We should not apologize for trying to inform that discussion." ...
"Inform" it? Or dominate it?

Update: It occurs to me that Steyn wouldn't be in this pickle if Mann were a professor at some other university. Were he on the faculty of, say, UCLA, Simberg and Steyn would never have thought to allude to Jerry Sandusky, formerly of Penn State, where Mann continues to work. But for that unserendipitous pairing, Mann would likely not have had the ammo (feeble as it is) to launch his court action. 

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