Michael Mann Takes on the National Review and Climate Change Skeptics

Michael Mann, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars

“A lot of us would much rather be spending our time doing science, but an increasingly large amount of our time is spent on defending ourselves against bad-faith attacks. Over time, I have come to embrace that.”—Michael Mann

In a development that could change the nature and tenor over the debate about climate change, Michael Mann’s suit against the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is moving forward.

The events leading up to the suit were recently covered in Kurt Eichenwald’s article in Newsweek. Michael Mann, author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, has long been accused of misrepresenting scientific data by climate change skeptics and denialists. These accusations reached a fevered and rather ugly pitch when Rand Simberg of the CEI equated Mann, who teaches at Penn State, with Jerry Sandusky. Simberg wrote, “Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data.”

The CEI’s article was picked up by Mark Steyn, a writer for the National Review Online, who in addition to picking up on the child molester references, also said that Penn State failed to adequately investigate Mann’s scientific work. Citing libel, Mann has since sued both the National Review and the CEI, who initially wanted the cases thrown out, citing their first amendment rights.

Michael Mann, along with other scientists, has long contended that climate change denialists and skeptics have misrepresented scientific findings as well as e-mails exchanged among climate scientists. As he recently argued in the New York Times , Michael Mann believes it is time that scientists become more active in fighting back the efforts of climate skeptics.

Eichenwald concludes his article by writing:

Mann says he is frustrated about the bitterness of the years of disputes between climatologists and the skeptics but now accepts that responding to attacks will be part of the job for all of them.

“A lot of us would much rather be spending our time doing science, but an increasingly large amount of our time is spent on defending ourselves against bad-faith attacks,” he says. “Over time, I have come to embrace that.”

7 Responses

  1. Very disturbing and disappointing to see Columbia University Press giving tacit endorsement to someone attempting to use government force to silence his critics.

  2. Yes, call me a conspiracy theorist, but I’m of the belief that the government controls the courts. Mann is arguing that the courts should direct law enforcement to either put Steyn in jail or collect money from him to give to Mann. We call this a lawsuit.

  3. Patrick,
    I believe when someone accuses you of falsifying data and calls you the Jerry Sandusky of climate science that you should be required to prove the truth behind your statement otherwise you are libel. In the United States libel is an offence that can cost you money or jail time. That has been decided by the people, who control the courts and the government.

  4. Patrick, the simple answer to that is that if Mark Steyn didn’t tell a lie, he won’t lose the court case.

    Perfectly simple.

    If, on the other hand, “criticising” Michael Mann’s work cannot be done without telling lies, then that tells us exactly how reliable thse criticisms are.

  5. Anyone is entitled to pursue litigation if their normal rights are infringed. That is not “government force”.

    Mann does not appear to be attempting to stop reasonable criticism. Science is a form of free speech and anyone is free to criticise Mann’s work – although only if they have better science.

    Steyn’s wild accusations of fraud does not amount to reasonable scientific criticism. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

    Climate scientists deserve to be given due respect for their hard work and expertise and they deserve to be heard. With his unreasonable attacks on Mann, Steyn is the one attacking the principle of freedom of speech.

  6. We can all agree on one area where Mann is a fraud: he has repeatedly claimed he won the Nobel Peace prize. This has been directly refuted by the Nobel Committee.

    We also know that the hockey stick has been proven to not hold without splicing proxy data and/or using proxy data declared off-limits by the NAS.

    But most importantly, the above comments suggest that it is ok to punish private citizens for lying about public officials. Fortunately, the threshold a public official (like Mann) must meet for unleashing the government on his critics is higher than some might wish: Mann must prove malice.

    It’s unfortunate that the passions aroused for silencing Steyn were absent when it came to ensuring Mann was thoroughly investigated (he was interviewed for 2 hours) when the allegations of research misconduct arose.

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