by Judith Curry
Some interesting developments during the past week.
In case you are not up to speed on the Mann vs Steyn et al. lawsuits, see these previous posts:
Krugman defends Mann in a NYTimes article The Empiricist Strikes Back. Excerpts:
But there are other, smaller evils; and one that strikes close to home for me is the campaign of personal destruction waged against Michael Mann.
Now for the slightly encouraging news: Mann filed suit against National Review for defamation. Also encouraging is the evident inability of NR to understand how you defend against a charge of defamation. You don’t repeat the false allegations — sorry, guys, but courts also have access to Google and Nexis, and can find that all the charges have been rejected in repeated inquiries. (JC bold)
Mark Steyn has a scathing response to Krugman entitled Real Nobel Laureate Takes Pity on Fake Nobel Laureate. Very brief excerpt:
Krugman hilariously headlines his column “The Empiricist Strikes Back“. But “empirically” Mann is not a Nobel Laureate, nor “empirically” has he been exonerated by the University of East Anglia, NOAA or the British Government. He will not stagger away from the witness stand with his “empiricism” intact.
Even Michael Mann doesn’t think Krugman quite got it right in a HuffPo article Interests, Ideology, and the Climate Denial Machine. Apologies for not excerpting anything, I couldn’t identify a coherent argument to excerpt. Think Koch brothers, denial machine, etc.
Steve McIntyre has an excellent summary of the recent legal developments in this post: ACLU and National Media Intervene in Mann vs Steyn et al. Excerpts:
I get the sense that the Washington libel community and U.S. national media have belatedly woken up to the potential threat of Mann v Steyn and that the tide is now starting to run strongly against Mann in the anti-SLAPP proceedings. The most visible evidence of this is an impressive Amici brief from the ACLU and an imposing list of 25 other media organizations (the Reporters Committee for Press Freedom, the American Society of News Editors, the Association of American Publishers, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (The Village Voice et al), NBC Universal, Bloomberg News, the publishers of USA Today, Time, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Detroit Free Press, The Seattle Times, The Arizona Republic and The Bergen County Record) filed on August 11, 2014.
In addition, Steyn’s own Amicus brief substantially upped the ante on a separate front. It repeatedly and directly accused Mann of submitting “fraudulent” information to the court and commented adversely on “the ease with which Mann lies about things that would not withstand ten minutes of scrutiny in a courtroom”.
Other briefs are by CEI; National Review, the District of Columbia, the Alliance Defending Freedom; the Cato Institute, Goldwater Institute, Reason magazine and David Horowitz’s Individual Rights Foundation;, The Daily Caller, PJ Media, The New Criterion and various Internet publishers.
From the ACLU Brief:
Mann essentially complains that the defendants accused him of manipulating data, including by molesting and torturing it, to serve a political agenda. … Because the statements are quintessential opinions about the validity of Mann’s scientific methods and conclusions, they are entitled to full constitutional protection.
At bottom, a participant in the “rough-and-tumble” of public debate should not be able to use a lawsuit like this to silence his critics, regardless of whether one agrees with Mann or defendants. The “law certainly does not insist” that a speaker “look kindly on [his] subjects,” nor that a plaintiff “simply by filing suit and crying ‘character assassination!,’” may “silence those who hold divergent views, no matter how adverse those views may be to plaintiffs’ interests.” Rather, as the Seventh Circuit eloquently put it, expressing a sentiment echoed by other courts: “Scientific controversies must be settled by the methods of science rather than by the methods of litigation. More papers, more discussion, better data, and more satisfactory models – not larger awards of damages – mark the path toward superior understanding of the world around us.”
From Steyn’s Brief:
Steyn rubbed salt into Mann’s false claim to have been a Nobel Prize winner and the imaginary tort of defaming a Nobel Prize winner, describing Mann’s priod claim as a “fraudulent misrepresentation”:
Mann’s fraudulent misrepresentation of his credentials and academic standing later earned him a rebuke from Geir Lundestad, director of the Nobel Institute in Oslo. One can well understand why the exposure of Mann’s fraudulent claim should cause him embarrassment but it should surely not justify resetting the procedural clock back to the beginning on this case, which is what in effect happened.
In his later court filings, Mann has made equally preposterous and objectively false claims. For example, Mann has claimed that he has been “exonerated” by such bodies as the University of East Anglia, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, and even by the government of the United Kingdom, none of which have investigated Dr Mann at all, never mind “exonerated” him.
The audacity of the falsehoods in Mann’s court pleadings is breathtaking. For example, on page 19 of his brief below dated January 18, 2013, he cites the international panel chaired by the eminent scientist Lord Oxburgh, FRS as one of the bodies that “exonerated” him, whereas on page 235 of Mann’s own book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars , he states explicitly that “our own work did not fall within the remit of the committee, and the hockey stick was not mentioned in the report.” It is deeply disturbing that a plaintiff should make such fraudulent claims in his legal pleadings.
Paul A. Drinnon Paul Krugman‘s article on Michael Mann‘s defamation lawsuit seems a little optimistic.
Roger Pielke Jr. Paul Krugman comes out in support of Michael Mann‘s defamation lawsuit. If Mann wins I’ll use it as precedent to sue Krugman for the same;-)
Judith Curry: Not to mention that I would have grounds to sue Michael Mann
Roger Pielke Jr. Indeed. I was joking, but the utter absurdity/irony of Mann’s lawsuit will be apparent to anyone who has seen him at work.
Judith Curry: I wrote a previous blog post http://judithcurry.com/2014/02/22/steyn-et-al-versus-mann/ … defending Mann’s right to defame me. Will rethink if he wins the lawsuit
Roger Pielke Jr. Mann is a clown with some personality issues, but I defended him in the UVA/Cuccinelli email issue and his right to lie in public.
Well, twitter forces you to cut to the chase, in 140 characters.
The support for Steyn et al. provided by the ACLU and the libel community plus the national news media re-emphasizes that this case is about the freedom of speech. It is very heartening to see this support for freedom of speech. It is particularly interesting to see liberal organizations, who would normally align to support an issue related to climate change, effectively take actions against Michael Mann.
The link between ‘defending Michael Mann is defending climate science’ seems to have been broken. This lawsuit seems motivated by one person’s fragile ego that has been bruised as he’s tried to defend questionable science. His behavior in making similar attacks on other scientists makes this lawsuit seem absurd.
I’m curious as to what kind of support Mann is getting from the science community – beyond the support from Romm, Krugman et al. I haven’t seen much, but I might not be shining my light in the right places.
The ACLU has it exactly right with this statement:
“Scientific controversies must be settled by the methods of science rather than by the methods of litigation. More papers, more discussion, better data, and more satisfactory models – not larger awards of damages – mark the path toward superior understanding of the world around us.”