Michael Mann Sues NRO, Mark Steyn, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Rand Simberg

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96 Responses

  1. Daryl Herbert says:

    Thank you for your take on this. I'm glad to hear from a disinterested party. You have confirmed my suspicions (that this is about butthurt and no about actual defamation was properly alleged).

    One issue with anti-SLAPP is that it is designed to prevent discovery, in order to protect defendants. In this case, the defendants are highly interested in discovery, so they might forego an easy victory in order to get that. Or they might try to obtain the discovery during a "SLAPP-back" action.

  2. James Pollock says:

    I think that first quote could be interpreted to be an accusation of intentionally altering data, a scientific and academic no-no of highest order. If he can prove that it was false, I think the rest of a libel claim falls into place.
    Intentionally mis-stating data : scientists as
    Spending the client's money : lawyers

  3. Ken says:

    James, it could be interpreted that way. But courts look at the statements in context to determine whether they suggest opinion or fact. Here the tone and content and location all weigh in favor of opinion and hyperbole.

  4. Pablo says:

    This should be hilarious unless NR makes it go away with anti-SLAPP. What's it gonna be, Mr. Lowry?

  5. Pablo says:

    James, Mann is clearly a public figure and the malice bar will be a very difficult one to clear. It's all but impossible for him to prevail on this.

  6. Jack B. says:

    I'm in awe of "tree-ring circus".

  7. eigenperson says:

    Calling climate science "corrupt" and "disgraced" are statements of opinion, to be sure.

    But when you strip away the hyperbole from "he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science," it still means, "He has altered data." That seems to me to be an assertion of fact, and I don't think there's any context that suggests that core assertion is not meant to be taken literally.

    Surely one cannot protect one's statements of fact against libel claims by dressing them up in hyperbole and absurd analogies?

  8. Rob says:

    This should be hilarious unless NR makes it go away with anti-SLAPP. What's it gonna be, Mr. Lowry?

    I don't think the defendants have any desire for this to go away. Since truth is a defense, they're going to try to use discovery to prove their allegations are true, and to mine for data that has been hidden from their previous FOIA requests.

  9. delurking says:

    eigenperson,
    Sorry, I don't see how "molested and tortured data" means "altered data". Take, for example, the message of "How to lie with statistics". You can reach incorrect conclusions by inappropriate applications of statistical techniques without altering any of the data.

  10. Lizard says:

    It's a variant of the Streisand Effect. When someone sues to silence a critic, the net effect is to make people think the critic might have a point. (The way I figure it, if climate change is anthropogenic, then, since the usual graphs show it beginning early in the 19th century, that means we have to reduce our industrial output to LOWER than that to bring our CO2 emissions below the Earth's capacity to absorb them. We'll need to do it SOON, since it will take decades to reduce the CO2 to 1800 levels, and during all that time, the Earth will keep heating, and we've been informed we're "nearly at the tipping point". That means rapidly killing off 90% or so of the planet, and since I'm fat and slow, I'm not giving myself long odds of being in the 10%. So, if global warming is human caused, I'm dead within a decade (either because I'm killed to save the planet, or I die to the side effects of global ecological collapse), and I might as well enjoy my AC and Big Macs until they round me up for the sausage plant. (Powered by a water wheel. Or slaves. Low carbon footprint, either way.) If it's not human caused, I might as well enjoy my AC and Big Macs, too. So, no change to my lifestyle either way.)

  11. Artifex says:

    … it still means, "He has altered data."

    No, this is simply false. One can molest and torture data in many ways. The most straightforward method is to take a page from the political activists playbook and simply ignore or find rationalizations to exclude results that don't lead you to your desired conclusions.

    In the end Mann will argue he was correct to use the data as he did because it gave "proper results". The skeptics will claim that his methods to achieve proper results were scientifically and intellectually dishonest. Mann can't be convicted of fraud for the same reason this suit will fail. There is significant spin and opinion about what methods are proper and what methods are fraudulent.

  12. Tarrou says:

    Kek, does this guy know who Mark Steyn is? Did he think he was going to intimidate people into settling off the books and publicly claim victory? Has he heard of the discovery process? I mean, Mann has been singled out for criticism, largely because of his uncommon-for-academia fondness for media statements and his famous graph. But this is literally playing directly into Steyn's hands. Were I a conspiracy nut, I'd suspect Steyn of paying Mann to do this. It's that good for him.

  13. Bear says:

    Ah… Discovery, discovery, discovery.

    No, NRO doesn't want this one to go away.

    Nor do I. 'Scuse me while I go place an order for extra popcorn. Lots of extra popcorn. This will be fun.

    (And if Mann wants to use this as a forum to advance his science, I expect someone to bring up that little issue of the Climategate leaked code and the red noise. [evil grin])

    (Plus… sheesh, can't help it … A law firm named "_Cozen_ O’Connor"? Is that a case of truth in advertising, or a self-fulfilling prophecy? I'd apologize to Ken and my various lawyer friends, but neither Ken nor _them_ are named "Fraud" or "Deception". [grin])

  14. Nate says:

    Ok as a graduate student in science, this is of interest to me. However, as I have no law experience I can only understand it from a scientist's point of view, so I agree with Artifex. The wording of the statements shows a disgust with the analysis and interpretation of the data rather than the data itself, which by definition makes them opinions rather than statements of fact. I guess it would only be libel if they accused him of making up numbers (assuming he didn't) rather than disagreeing with the interpretation of said numbers. Disagreements over interpretation of numbers is a hallmark of science as it should be. What I do find interesting, and which doesn't help his case at all, is that it appears he is only suing the people who exercised hyperbole when disagreeing with him rather than the blog that academically went through his treatment of the data (grad school has forced me to start reading citations). Is that typical of "butthurt in the first degree" complaints? So yeah, this appears to be a giant fail. (I still agree that global warming is occurring though.)

  15. Daryl Herbert says:

    What does Mann get out of this? Does he think the timing of his lawsuit will affect the election? That he will be able to disable two conservative pundits in the two weeks before the election, as they panic and go silent, trembling in fear of the impending legal action? That won't happen.

    Does Mann expect to get juicy info from discovery? What sort of info would he get? Emails to/from NR and CEI regarding Mann's data? Finding out the identities of sources from the scientific community who secretly told RS/MS that the data was bad? Finding out about NR and CEI's fundraising from companies that don't like climate alarmism?

    I don't see this as being a gold mine for Mann.

    He will have to give up data that his side has, thus far, protected religiously. They have told us we must accept the truth of their claims because they are the priesthood of honest scientists, who give each other Nobel prizes and issue reports about how awesome they all are without showing us their data or their methods.

    If Mann thinks he can prove defamation without revealing that information, he's wrong. He can't prove that he was unfairly accused of molesting data if he won't show the data that he claims was never molested.

    Further, if nobody can see the data, that would prove RS and MS never saw the data before accusing Mann of molesting data. Therefore, in that context, no reasonable reader of RS/MS could assume that RS/MS were saying they knew for a fact that Mann altered the data in a fraudulent way. How could they make that accusation when they weren't even able to see the data? That supports the "opinion" interpretation rather than the "claim of fact" interpretation re: words like corrupt, molested, and fraudulent.

  16. Daryl Herbert says:

    A "scientist" who chooses to operate in secrecy is going to have less ability to sue for defamation if people accuse him of being unscientific. The secrecy invites skepticism and does not immunize him from criticism.

  17. Patrick Kelly says:

    From following Steyn's and Lowry's comments, it would seem that they are more than keen to get involved in an action and looking forward especially to the discovery procedures.
    One dog in this race is getting the wrong advice.

  18. steven mosher says:

    Interesting little tidbit in paragraph 2 of mann's filing.

    He claims: " he was on of the first to document the steady rise of temperatures in the 20th century"

    Actually not. He's done no work whatsover on the observation record of the 20th century.

    Then he claims to have won a Nobel prize in 2007, when that prize was awarded to Al Gore and to the IPCC organization. While the IPCC may wish people to believe that they can somehow "share" this prize with people who are not member of their organization, Nobel Rules restrict the number of people who can win a Prize to 3.

    Defaming yourself by exagerating your accomplishments is no way to begin a defamation suit.

  19. Shachar says:

    Moreover, I don't think a lawsuit is going to persuade anyone who wasn't already persuaded about the truth of global warming.

    For what it is worth, you are wrong on that part.

    For years now I am trying to decide which side of the fence I am on. Going back and forth between the (layman directed) arguments, I started out leaning toward the global warming skeptics camp, and have, in recent years, switched the direction of my leaning.

    One thing is clear to me. Even if the science is sound (and I have my doubts), the discussion around it is not. Allegations of errors fly, and the replies, by and large, are not of answers, but of opposing allegations of errors.

    A trial centered around this subject would force the parties to bring forward their best arguments for/against, and then answer cross examination on the matter. It might actually stand a chance of convincing me one way or the other.

    Shachar

  20. Zyaama says:

    I have little expertise in the US legal system, but did anybody here consider that maybe Michael Mann is simply fed up with the way he is being treated and has decided to fight back? He is a scientist who has spent years researching climate change, and for that he has been insulted, threatened and publicly humiliated by people with little to no scientific credibility. He is a public figure not of his own choosing, but because the anti scientific right wing has decided to make him a target. Unfortunately, he cannot rely on a public discussion to clear his name, since your media either provides false balance (anybody who still thinks that climate change is not a proven fact is seriously under informed) or just lies about it (Fox news, anybody?).

    One of the main reasons why the USA are still stuck in a discussion about global warming that the rest of the world has finished 20 years ago, are the bullying tactics employed by libertarian and other right wing organisations. You may call these personal insults statements of opinion, but when one side has the biggest news corporation to spread their view, and the other has scientific journals, a court room suddenly looks like a more level playing field.

    And, Ken: Correctly stating that the is a near universal scientific consensus about something is not an argument from authority. It just confirms that people who call you a fraud for working within that framework do so with the purpose of libel.

    I, too, will follow this with interest. But I very much root for Dr. Mann.

  21. rmv says:

    I have little expertise in the US legal system, but did anybody here consider that maybe Michael Mann is simply fed up with the way he is being treated and has decided to fight back? He is a scientist who has spent years researching climate change, and for that he has been insulted, threatened and publicly humiliated by people with little to no scientific credibility. He is a public figure not of his own choosing, but because the anti scientific right wing has decided to make him a target. Unfortunately, he cannot rely on a public discussion to clear his name, since your media either provides false balance (anybody who still thinks that climate change is not a proven fact is seriously under informed) or just lies about it (Fox news, anybody?).

    One of the main reasons why the USA are still stuck in a discussion about global warming that the rest of the world has finished 20 years ago, are the bullying tactics employed by libertarian and other right wing organisations. You may call these personal insults statements of opinion, but when one side has the biggest news corporation to spread their view, and the other has scientific journals, a court room suddenly looks like a more level playing field.

    And, Ken: Correctly stating that the is a near universal scientific consensus about something is not an argument from authority. It just confirms that people who call you a fraud for working within that framework do so with the purpose of libel.

    I, too, will follow this with interest. But I very much root for Dr. Mann.

    So………Butthurt in the First Degree

  22. rmv says:

    First attempt at block quote is fail. Very, very fail

  23. Bart says:

    Zyaama – If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. If Michael Mann cannot behave as a scientist, and defend his work with openness, honesty, and acceptance and regard for criticism, then he should find another line of work.

    Paranoid rants about Fox News (what, ABC, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, PBS, NYT, WPC, LAT, and on and on aren't enough for you?) and shadowy cabals of dreaded "right wing organizations" do not justify curtailing Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press one iota.

  24. Anony Mouse says:

    And, Ken: Correctly stating that the is a near universal scientific consensus about something is not an argument from authority

    Just like when there was near universal scientific consensus that plate tectonics was hogwash.

  25. Hughhh says:

    Tarrou wrote:
    Mann has been singled out for criticism, largely because of his uncommon-for-academia fondness for media statements and his famous graph. But this is literally playing directly into Steyn's hands.

    Emphasis is mine. Were I to literally play into the hands of anyone other than my wife, I would expect to be socked in my kisser. Good luck to this Mann … man.

  26. markm says:

    But when you strip away the hyperbole from "he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science," it still means, "He has altered data."

    Or that he has based published conclusions on a computer program that will turn *randomly* generated data into the hockey-stick graph he wants, or that he has cherry-picked data for his later work. Those are two statements of fact. The first was proven long ago, and I expect that if this case goes to trial, the defense will be able to show that he winnowed hundreds of tree-ring series down to just twenty-some that happened to match his expectations.

    My overall impression of Mann is an originally honest scientist (in the beginning, he readily released the data that critics used to show that random data would produce the hockey stick) who got out of his depth in statistical analysis. But when his delusions of competence were challenged, he doubled-down rather than learning from his mistakes. That is, the "mistake" he decided to correct wasn't his methods, but making criticism easy by releasing them.

  27. Damon says:

    I'll have to check out Slate and see if this is up on that site. Be interesting to read those comments :) Pobably a lot of buthurt squealing going on over there, if it's reported.

  28. Tarrou says:

    Zyaama, when you root for Dr. Mann, you are rooting for the subversion of the scientific process. Dr. Mann is as close to a scientific criminal as you can get without being Michael Bellisiles. He refuses to release data, his data crunching programs are "proprietary" despite being thirty years out of date. No one knows how he comes to any of his conclusions, or can replicate his findings, because it's all a secret. On the basis of this secret research, he then goes on television and other media to denigrate those who disagree with him, including other scientists. He recommends cheating the peer-review process by discovering what contrary research is being reviewed, and contacting the reviewers and editors to lobby them to reject papers, not for cause, but because they disagree with him. None of this is science. None of this is the process necessary to advance knowledge. Mann gets his coverage not by being the best scientist in the area, but often by being the worst. If this were Wang, or Jesper, or even Briffa I might be more sympathetic. Mann is a discredit to the climate science world, and if you care about the science, you should be rooting for his immediate exit from research.

  29. John David Galt says:

    I believe Robb has it right. (And if I were the judge, the word "fraudulent" in the quote from Steyn would be enough to rule out summary dismissal — but then, maybe accusing someone of a felony he hasn't been convicted of isn't automatic libel in DC as it is in California.)

    Montford's The Hockey Stick Illusion is a good summary of the case against Mann and his friends. It helps if you've had a course or two in statistics and sampling methods, but the really damning parts are the Climategate e-mails it quotes.

  30. Anonymous says:

    @Anony Mouse

    "Just like when there was near universal scientific consensus that plate tectonics was hogwash."

    The big difference being, of course, that in the case of somebody dissenting against the majority view back then, they actually had some evidence to back it up.

    I tire of the plate tectonics argument – I mainly hear it from Creationists using it to describe why the Theory of Evolution could be wrong even though everybody with anything to back their opinion up agrees that it is right. YES the scientists can be wrong. In fact, they probably are wrong. But they're the kind of wrong where you go "I'm sorry, I said 87% and it turned out to be 85.4%" not the kind where you go "The entire basis of my theory turned out to be hogwash."

  31. Anonymous says:

    On the subject of the libel case: "he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science" sounds like a statement of fact to me.

  32. Yuri says:

    Should this claim make it to trial — and not be dismissed out of hand (as it probably will be). One thing will be shown:

    That Mann cannot prove his own statements, analyses, and represtentations with his own data.

    As a matter of law, this means only that the libel suit will fail because of what other commenters have noted — i.e., that there can be "honest" differences of scientific opinion as to the proper interpretation of data.

    As a matter of science, this means what it says "That Mann cannot prove his "tortured" interpretation of the data to be true.

    Mann's best case is to show up in court and make it clear that his "interpretations" of the data are NOT provable science.

  33. NMR says:

    Early in my (biology) graduate school days, my major prof. insisted that I make my notes in ink, not (erasable) pencil, because thought processes in pursuit of a theory were a continuum, and what may be discarded one day may be revisited another for once discarded insights. It is in the interest of science that all data, accumulated in the interest of science, must be made available for critical discussion, or the findings will have no standing other than the investigator's opinion. The only response to a critic's claim of obfuscation is "Here's the data, look for yourself." Any one who claims to work in science and doesn't recognize that truth, should find occupation in something with less rigorous standards.

  34. darius404 says:

    The big difference being, of course, that in the case of somebody dissenting against the majority view back then, they actually had some evidence to back it up.

    According to the dissenters, the evidence is on their side. Only an analysis of the evidence can show whose views, if anyone, are "backed up" by the evidence. Your claim that there is a "big difference" between the two, but again some people disagree with you. I'm sure Anony will simply say the evidence shows his comparison is apt.

  35. darius404 says:

    On the subject of the libel case: "he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science" sounds like a statement of fact to me.

    That's hard to rationalize. He's not making a literal comparison (he's not claiming the data was literally tortured, for example), and "molested and tortured data" is not unequivocally a statement of fact.

  36. Dan Weber says:

    A careful reading — or even a basic reading by someone with a 3rd-grade education — of the OP would reveal that Ken did not say anything about which side was right.

    Lots of people don't believe Mann, but lots of people do. Mann doesn't get to shut up the people who disagree with him just because he's right and they are stupid-heads.

  37. Ken says:

    A careful reading — or even a basic reading by someone with a 3rd-grade education — of the OP would reveal that Ken did not say anything about which side was right.

    Fair disclosure time.

    I graduated with good grades from a fine college preparatory school. I graduated with good grades from a top university. I satisfied the science and math requirements at both places.

    I am, however, functionally innumerate and functionally scientifically illiterate. I fulfilled my hard science/bio science/math requirements at the aforementioned top university by taking a year long "Physics for Poets" track that was less scientifically rigorous than what my 11-year-old son does in his gifted-track science camp.

    This is nobody's fault but mine. I have a limited amount of time and attention and have chosen to spend it on other things — some of them worthy (say, First Amendment law) and some of them arguably not (say, TV and games).

    The point all that comes to is that all scientific arguments about global warming are ultimately appeals to authority from my perspective. I am smart enough to grasp them on a Sunday-supplement level, but lack the scientific or statistical rigor to evaluate them critically.

    I am left in a place where I more convinced by the presentations of the people who say AGW exists than those who says it does not. However, because the way the issue is politicized, I view all discussions with extreme skepticism. I am particularly skeptical when scientific claims come explicitly laden with political arguments (like "the scientific establishment is deliberately lying to you" or "all dissent is propaganda by oil companies.")

    That's my bias.

  38. Richard S Courtney says:

    Those who say they are rooting for Michael Mann should be careful in case they get what they ask for; viz. an investigation of him, his work and his behaviour.

    Others have mentioned the gross statistical errors in his work which are explained in the Wegman and the North reports that were conducted specifically to investigate the work. I am surprised nobody has mentioned “Mike’s Nature trick” to “hide the decline” and, therefore, I write to explain this in the light of the statement that "he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science".

    The ‘hockey stick’ graph of NH temperature with time did not agree with recent measurements of NH temperature. The graph diverged from the surface temperature record for the period after 1960. This is known as “the divergence problem”.

    The ‘hockey stick’ graph showed NH temperature falling (i.e. “the decline”) after 1960 when the surface measurements showed NH temperature rising. And this was the most important finding of the work because it showed the method did NOT indicate NH temperature. The method cannot be used as a reliable indicator of unknown past NH temperature when it gives ‘wrong’ indications of known recent NH temperatures and temperature trend.

    This finding was an inconvenient truth for Mann, Bradley & Hughes. And they decided to not report it in their 1998 and 1999 papers which presented the ‘hockey stick’ graph. Instead, they plotted the surface temperature data as a thick line over the part of the ‘hockey stick’ graph for after 1960. Thus, they were able to “hide the decline” by covering it with the surface temperature data.

    And they knew this was not proper because they mentioned “the divergence problem” as a minor point in another paper published in a different journal. Hence, they could claim that they had published a report of it. But, of course, any paper they provided which included the ‘hockey stick’ should have included mention the divergence problem and should not have hidden it. Indeed, as I have explained, the divergence problem was the most important finding of the work.

    An interesting comparison of the ‘hockey stick’ graph can be made with the Piltdown Man which is the most famous scientific fraud in history. In each of these cases
    1.
    parts were selected from two different items.
    2.
    the selected parts were presented together.
    3.
    with clear intent to mislead the scientific community.

    Richard

  39. Ken says:

    By the way: in my year-long satisfy-the-science-and-math-requirements class at a university that shall go unnamed but which thoroughly stomped some weenies last weekend, I had to write a paper on a scientific subject. I wrote it on how the Tunguska event was probably a collision of antimatter particles, relying on then forty-year-old essay by Robert A. Heinlein from one of his collections of stories. As I recall I included a speculative drawing of what would happen to the United States if an antimatter meteor struck a nuclear reactor, which I placed in Kansas in the middle of the country so the blast radius would work right. I got a B+ in the class. This was not a special education class. I'm not saying it's anyone's fault but mine that I'm scientifically illiterate; I'm just saying it's not like anyone was eager to impose consequences on me.

  40. somebody says:

    Even if the libel claim somehow got carried, is there any chance that the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim would ever hold water? I'd be slightly more inclined to support Mann's side if he was only suing for libel.

    It's the difference between a little kid saying "But Mrs. Peabody, they told lies about me!" and saying "But Mrs. Peabody, they told lies about me AND IT HURT MY FEELINGS!" The former makes you look like you don't like being lied about and want to get the record clear; the latter paints you as an over-reactive little shitstain.

  41. mojo says:

    Five bucks says he drops it after the first discovery motion.

  42. Arclight says:

    Although I don't use it today, I have a degree in Statistics and I've junior authored a few scientific articles while I was working at the university. With that background, Richard's point about the unreliability of the model convinced me ages ago that Mann's research was bunk. If your model doesn't match up to numbers you can measure today, why would anyone believe that the model can accurately predict numbers that from centuries past? The model is obviously broken and thus the conclusions drawn are invalid. To my mind, he very clearly and intentionally manipulated the data to make it meet his desired results and would have one heck of a time proving otherwise once he explains his methodology to the court.

  43. Andre says:

    Here are possible scenarios…
    1. the judge dismisses the case outright after dusting him/herself off from ROTFL
    2. Mann drops the case as soon as the first motion for discovery is filed and he realizes he has to produce either the data that he has been hiding or the fact that he has no data and made things up
    3. During the trial, the judge figures out that Mann has not disclosed everything he should have and holds Mann in contempt.

    Either way, it seems that Mann is getting horrendous legal advice and that his "science" is about to be exposed for what it really is…an unmitigated quagmire.

  44. Boxy says:

    Saw in one of the trackbacks that apparently this case has been assigned to someone reputed to be the worst possible judge for DC, i.e., the least likely to let the rule of law into her courtroom. I'm sure that the rumblings about her have her own bias, however.

    http://www.ncpforce.com/judges.html#dc

    If the complaint is accurate, then Mann can certainly ruin some peoples' days before appeal.

  45. Aufero says:

    I propose a new name for this kind of thing – the Card (as in Orson Scott Card) effect. It goes like this:

    1) Hold a controversial viewpoint.
    2) Defend that viewpoint with facts and reasonable, carefully explained opinions.
    3) Endure a few years of hysterical accusations by people who have no interest in facts or reason.
    4) Go batshit crazy and start trying to outdo your most insane critics with hyperbolic accusations and conspiracy theories.

    I'm not sure how people who initially decided on step two keep getting to step four, but it keeps happening.

  46. Richard S Courtney says:

    Aufero:

    Michael Mann adopted your point 1 and your point 4 with no time delay between them. And the climategate emails reveal that his closest associates disapproved of his behaviour from the start. I suggest you read them because it seems you will be surprised.

    Richard

  47. Aufero says:

    Richard:

    I have read them. They exhibit normal academic infighting, common to every field. (If you want hyperbole and drama, read the arguments over plate tectonics or the Iridium anomaly.) I'm surprised only that anyone finds them surprising.

  48. princessartemis says:

    I have been following this elsewhere and it's interesting to see it come up here. I imagine the defendants are positively gleeful at the chance at discovery.

  49. mojo says:

    I still say HurryUp Harry is the best bet for the leaker.

    And yes, it was a leak, not a crack.

  50. Bart says:

    Richard S Courtney • Oct 24, 2012 @7:16 am

    "Those who say they are rooting for Michael Mann should be careful in case they get what they ask for; viz. an investigation of him, his work and his behaviour."

    And, when someone promoting something they don't like uses the precedent to squelch debate. The club you use to beat down your enemies today, can be picked up by others and used to beat you down tomorrow.

  51. Zyaama says:

    Wow. Sorry, did I fart in your echo chamber?

    So many comments. But let's start with what seems to be the gist of many of them:
    Those who say they are rooting for Michael Mann should be careful in case they get what they ask for; viz. an investigation of him, his work and his behaviour.

    Well, I'm perfectly fine with that. Considering that Dr Mann has already been investigated at least three times by people qualified to do so, I don't think he has to be worried. His results have been confirmed by several research groups, using different methods. He is not saying anything fundamentally different to what other climate scientists are saying. The main reason he has been singled out is that a target was needed, trying to disgrace climate science by proxy. To do that, lies and misinformation about his work were spread. Successfully, since you can read a lot of those quoted in the comments here.

    The question that should be of interest in this place is if this is a libel case. Does Dr Mann try to inhibit free speech, or is he trying to stop people from spreading malicious lies about him? The comments clearly show that most people assume that he has ulterior motives, and are not willing to accept that he is simply a person trying to clear his name. Of course you may think that being called a fraud and compared to a pedophile for publishing scientific data is perfectly fine. In that case, you can expect to have your free speech rights curbed.

  52. Daryl Herbert says:

    Mann's suit is full of appeals to authority. Loosely paraphrasing "Trust me, six prestigious organizations say I'm credible."

    So on the other side, authorities say he's not credible. Again, very loosely: "Four right-wing pundits say you're not credible"

    The response is "YOU CAN'T SAY THAT! I'M GOING TO SUE YOU!!!"

    Mann wants to argue by showing authorities, rather than showing his work. To me, that's pathetic. But he also wants to cover up the existence of authorities who don't support him. That's really pathetic. He's already decided that the fight should be who has the most authorities. But he isn't fighting fair.

    I know some on the left will not see it as pathetic, because they think Mann's authorities have more credibility/value/integrity than the right-wing authorities who suggest Mann's work lacks credibility. They think global warming is sooo important that the data needs to be protected from industry-funded skeptics who would torture and molest the data to make it look like global warming isn't happening.

    But I don't want to see free speech come down to a battle of which side can amass the most, best authorities. Especially on a subject like scientific inquiry. And I hate to see scientific truth within the control of a small priesthood who decides for the rest of us, and asks us to trust them. It's bullshit, and very very backwards.

  53. Joe Pullen says:

    As I recall I included a speculative drawing of what would happen to the United States if an antimatter meteor struck a nuclear reactor, which I placed in Kansas in the middle of the country so the blast radius would work right. I got a B+ in the class. This was not a special education class. I'm not saying it's anyone's fault but mine that I'm scientifically illiterate; I'm just saying it's not like anyone was eager to impose consequences on me.

    Consequences today would be Feds throwing you in jail for daring to write a paper about a nuclear reactor blast radius because you might just possibly be a terrorist.

  54. Ken says:

    Wow. Sorry, did I fart in your echo chamber?

    Saying that someplace is an "echo chamber" when people disagree with your comments is not the sign of a serious mind. It's more the sign of a troll.

    The comments clearly show that most people assume that he has ulterior motives, and are not willing to accept that he is simply a person trying to clear his name. Of course you may think that being called a fraud and compared to a pedophile for publishing scientific data is perfectly fine. In that case, you can expect to have your free speech rights curbed.

    The problem with your analysis is what I said in the post — free speech includes hyperbole and statements of opinion. For instance, people who have criticized Dr. Mann can't prevail if they sue you for saying that they are spreading lies and misinformation, because the context shows that it's a statement of opinion based on your analysis of the merits of those claims.

    Being compared to a pedophile is, in fact, clearly protected hyperbole, and is by far the weakest part of the complaint. It's simply not a close call.

  55. This is not Mann's first attempt to silence his critics via self-serving and self-aggrandizing libel/defamation charges. To my mind he is increasingly revealing himself to be the David Irving of “climate science”. For both Irving (a faux historian) and Mann,(a faux scientist), self-aggrandizement will trump accuracy every single time. This is evident in the second paragraph of his statement of claim:

    Along with other researchers, [Mann] was one of the first to document the steady rise [....] As a result of this research, Dr. Mann and his colleagues were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. [emphasis added -hro]

    Apart from the fact that neither Mann nor his “colleagues” were “awarded the Nobel Peace prize”, he obviously has as much empirical evidence that it was “this research” that led to the IPCC being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize as he does that human generated CO2 is the primary cause of whatever warming might (or might not) be occurring.

    Several times throughout this particular exercise in creative writing – which was presumably patched together by his lawyers on Mann’s instructions – there is mention of allegations of “academic fraud”.

    Don’t know about you, but I’d sure like to know where such “allegations” were made and/or “investigated”.

    But perhaps sales of his latest self-serving opus are flagging. Mann’s entry into the annals of “revisionist scholarship” might be more aptly entitled Portrait of the Artist as an Aggrieved Mann: A novel. Just as in 1985, the German publisher had “appended to the title page of [Irving's Dresden] book the description, ‘a novel’” [Richard J. Evans. Lying about Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial; (2001, Basic Books) p. 184]

  56. My reaction to the complaint was that although the Sandusky reference was plainly rhetorical hyperbole, some of the other statements could well be determined to be statements of fact that are provably "false" or "true." Ken's point that the statements have to be read in the context of the rest of the blog post is a fair one, but that might not be enough to get a dismissal on the face of the complaint as a matter of law, that each and every potentially actionable statement is opinion rather than fact as a matter of law.

    OTOH, it struck me that proving that the National Review's position on the truth or falsity of those statements was expressed with actual malice — with reckless disregard of the probability that they are false — is quite likely to be an insuperable obstacle to recovery.

    But I also wonder whether Mann may hope to "win" his libel case a la Ariel Sharon v. Time, by getting a court to declare the falsity of the accusations of scientific dishonesty (or, as in Sharon itself, by getting such a declaration through special interrogatories); if that happens it may not matter to him whether he prevails on the actual malice issue, so long as his complaint is not dismissed under the DC anti-SLAPP statute. Of course, if he loses on that issue, his reputation might take a serious hit a la William Westmoreland.

    The defendants in this case will also have to think long and hard about whether to remove, given some strongly written opinions in the DDC rejecting the holdings elsewhere that state anti-SLAPP statutes are not applicable in federal court under Erie. I thought it was interesting that the National Review's response to the demand letter made no reference to the anti-SLAPP statute. The remaining appeal in the DC Circuit is a weak vehicle for overturning that position (Public Citizen has filed as amicus curiae in support of applying Erie mind you, but there are some serious issues with the appeal that could easily derail the DC Circuit from reaching the issue).

    So yes, I agree with Ken — this case will be worth following. I also agree with Ken that there is serious reason to question whether a libel case is the right forum for resolving the truth or falsity of the detractors' accusations against Mann, or about the attacks on his detractors.

  57. jc says:

    Do a search for Judge reviews. Coombs Greene (DC Judge)seems like she maybe cherry picked by Mann's Lawyers. She apparently is massively incompetent and arrogant. From reading the reviews on her performance behind the bench she consistently rates a 1 on a scale of 10. 1 being bad.

    Basically, she is the best judge Mann could have ever hoped for and the wost judge ever for Steyn.

    Mann's legal handlers must be ecstatic to have her.

  58. Zyaama says:

    Saying that someplace is an "echo chamber" when people disagree with your comments is not the sign of a serious mind. It's more the sign of a troll.

    It's not about the disagreement. It is about a lot of people agreeing with each other, without considering the very real possibility that they may be completely wrong. Everybody quotes the same, thoroughly discredited sources, and nobody has even heard of the commissions who looked at the alleged wrongdoings of Dr Mann but concluded that he behaved responsibly.

    Let's see, Wikipedia says about "Climategate": "Eight committees investigated the allegations and published reports, finding no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct." (Citations in the Wikipedia entry)

    Regarding Dr Mann: "The inquiry committee determined on 3 February 2010 that there was no credible evidence Mann suppressed or falsified data, destroyed emails, information and/or data related to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, or misused privileged or confidential information. [...]
    The second Investigatory Committee reported on 4 June 2010 that it had "determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community.""

    In the comments, people repeatedly say things like "Don’t know about you, but I’d sure like to know where such “allegations” were made and/or “investigated”." Well, it would take about 15 seconds to look it up, but you don't have to, because another commenter already said that it never happened. That is what I mean by echo chamber.

    And, to repeat that: In my opinion Michael Mann is just fed up with people spreading lies about him. Like the one that he doesn't give access to his data.

    [...]free speech includes hyperbole and statements of opinion
    It does. And in this case a judge will have to decide if the comments about Dr Mann – which you find echoed in the comments here – went beyond hyperbole and opinion. Accusing a scientist of fraud is a serious attack on his professional reputation, you should be able to back that up by facts.

    Dr Mann has made scientific statements. The scientific community has argued about those, and mostly agrees with what he concluded. The scientific debate about the reality of climate change is over, what now remains is a pseudo-debate which is purely politically motivated. Accusing somebody of criminal behavior because you don't like his scientific results is not part of a scientific discussion and does not have to be countered with a scientific response.

    People here talk about authorities, as if that had any bearing on the discussion. Good science does not care about your authority, your opinion, your politics or your funding. It only cares about the data, and in this case the data is clear. (You don't have to believe me, but maybe you should look up Richard A. Muller.)

  59. Ken says:

    It's not about the disagreement. It is about a lot of people agreeing with each other, without considering the very real possibility that they may be completely wrong.

    Surely this is unprecedented on the internet.

    Also:

    The scientific debate about the reality of climate change is over, what now remains is a pseudo-debate which is purely politically motivated.

    I find those quotes difficult to reconcile.

    And, to repeat that: In my opinion Michael Mann is just fed up with people spreading lies about him. Like the one that he doesn't give access to his data.

    Perhaps he is. That doesn't end the inquiry into (1) whether the "lies" are the sort of statements that are subject to defamation suits, and (2) whether a defamation suit is a prudent vehicle to achieve what he's looking for.

    Accusing somebody of criminal behavior because you don't like his scientific results is not part of a scientific discussion and does not have to be countered with a scientific response.

    The question is whether (1) the statements he is suing over are properly construed as actual and factual accusations of criminal behavior, and (2) if they are, whether he can prove that they are made with malice.

    People here talk about authorities, as if that had any bearing on the discussion.

    It has a bearing on the discussion because the complaint contains repeated and emphasized appeals to authority. Dr. Mann's argument in his complaint is not just "I did not present false data," but "you know I did not present false data because these impressive people and institutions say I did not."

    Good science does not care about your authority, your opinion, your politics or your funding.

    This may be true. The question is whether Dr. Mann's science is "good." Some argue that he is as much a partisan as a scientist. The complaint, as drafted, is not a persuasive argument to the contrary.

    Also, the law does care about authority (that is, statutes and case authority) and opinion (that is, the type of expression not subject to defamation actions). Dr. Mann has chosen to subject himself to the law by filing suit. He doesn't get to dictate the rules now. Nor do his supporters.

  60. rmv says:

    @Zyaama

    You should have left it at "I have little expertise in the US legal system,"

    I believe Ken is only really(or maybe just mainly) interested in the 1st amendment aspects of this case, as opposed to arguing the merits of the science(he did mention being "functionally scientifically illiterate").

    If you do wish to continue on arguing that Mann should be allowed to censor others because he has the science correct, please wait. I would like to get some popcorn first.

  61. Liberaltarian says:

    You don't need to be a climate skeptic to think this lawsuit is stupid and counter-productive.

    I think I'm a fair ways to the left of many Popehat readers, though I support freedom of speech as much as anyone here. I happen to be deeply concerned about CO2 emissions, and broadly convinced that anthropogenic climate change is real. But that doesn't blind me to the obvious fact that fighting scientific speech with a lawsuit, instead of more scientific speech, is an act of such staggeringly poor judgment as to cast serious doubt on all Mann's work.

  62. Zyaama says:

    Ok, last comment from me. I promise.

    @Ken
    I find those quotes difficult to reconcile.
    Really? The scientific debate about the reality of evolution has been over for about 100 years, but you won't have a problem finding various shades of creationists still doubting it and quoting each other. Same situation.*

    And I think that leads to the problem (as rmv helped me see it): This has been framed as a first amendment issue regarding free speech in science. I – and many others – don't see it as that. The people who attack Dr Mann are not part of any scientific debate. So you can call it a free speech issue ("Is somebody who has no scientific knowledge allowed to call a scientist a fraud, just because of a dislike for the scientific facts?"), but you should be aware that whatever happens now has absolutely no impact on the real scientific debate.

    So, when you accuse Michael Mann if trying to censor others, be aware that you are talking about strictly non-scientific speech. The scientific debate takes place between scientists. The scientists have evaluated the data, and, no matter what their starting point was, are nearly all convinced that climate change is real, caused by humans, and a serious problem.

    *If you don't believe in climate change and are insulted by a comparison to creationists (or moon hoaxers, 9/11 truthers, David Icke…): Get over it. That's how the rest of the world sees you. You're not Galileo, Einstein or Wegener.

  63. Ken says:

    And I think that leads to the problem (as rmv helped me see it): This has been framed as a first amendment issue regarding free speech in science. I – and many others – don't see it as that. The people who attack Dr Mann are not part of any scientific debate. So you can call it a free speech issue ("Is somebody who has no scientific knowledge allowed to call a scientist a fraud, just because of a dislike for the scientific facts?"), but you should be aware that whatever happens now has absolutely no impact on the real scientific debate.

    You don't see a discussion of a defamation lawsuit as being about free speech?

    I'm afraid I can't help you there.

    Mr. Mann can challenge Mr. Steyn et al. in all sorts of scientific forums, in which he can credibly argue that attacking their expression is not a free speech issue. But when he sues them for it — when he invokes the power of the state to punish them for speaking ill of him – it is a free speech issue, whether he or his supporters like it or not.

  64. Caleb says:

    @Zyaama

    Is somebody who has no scientific knowledge allowed to call a scientist a fraud, just because of a dislike for the scientific facts?

    Yes! For that or any other reason. Why? Because it is not an allegation of fact.

    "Fraud" is not a fact. It is a standard for evaluating behavior. When I call someone a "fraud," I am not accusing them of any one particular objective act. By labeling someone a "fraud," I am alleging that their objective acts (the facts), by my evaluation, meet the criteria for "fraud." That act of evaluation is the essence of opinion.

  65. Caleb says:

    @ Paul Alan Levy

    …some of the other statements could well be determined to be statements of fact that are provably "false" or "true."

    Which statements?

  66. darius404 says:

    The people who attack Dr Mann are not part of any scientific debate. So you can call it a free speech issue…. So, when you accuse Michael Mann if trying to censor others, be aware that you are talking about strictly non-scientific speech.

    Whether or not it's part of any scientific debate has nothing to do with it being a free speech issue. I don't recall a "scientific disagreement" exception to the 1st Amendment. The best I can tell, you're simply upset that the law doesn't allow Mann to censor people who disagree with him. It's a very unprincipled attitude to the 1st Amendment.

    The scientific debate takes place between scientists. The scientists have evaluated the data, and…. are nearly all convinced that climate change is real, caused by humans, and a serious problem.

    And they come to different conclusions, as you admit with your "nearly". Someone doesn't cease to be a scientist simply because you claim they aren't. That you disagree with their claims also doesn't mean they aren't scientists.

  67. BNT says:

    It only cares about the data, and in this case the data is clear.

    This part made me laugh out loud.

    The data are rarely, if ever, clear.

    Unless they have developed a way to go back in time with a thermometer, the data are based on proxy measurements which we think are accurate. Hence the diversion problem: one proxy measurement (tree rings) turned out to not actually correlate tightly to the thermometer. When scientists extrapolate info about past climate from an ice core, it's just that: extrapolation. A lot of indirect evidence and assumptions to into gathering and interpreting the data.

    The weight of the evidence comes down in favor of global climate change. Skepticism is increasingly viewed as scientifically unsound.

    However.

    That doesn't excuse suing critics. Even if they say horrible things about you! Good science does not suppress opposing ideas; it rebuts them. Yes, that's hard when opponents are fueled by vitriol and a strong desire to be right instead of by actual facts; no, that doesn't make it morally defensible to whine to the government to make them stop being mean.

  68. En Passant says:

    Ken wrote Oct 24, 2012 @7:17 am:

    As I recall I included a speculative drawing of what would happen to the United States if an antimatter meteor struck a nuclear reactor, which I placed in Kansas in the middle of the country so the blast radius would work right.

    JPEGS! JPEGS!

    And please include some countryside ravaged by radioactive antimatter zombie ponies.

    On an issue more germane to this suit:
    Daryl Herbert wrote Oct 23, 2012 @4:55 pm (FRIST PSOT!):

    One issue with anti-SLAPP is that it is designed to prevent discovery, in order to protect defendants. In this case, the defendants are highly interested in discovery, so they might forego an easy victory in order to get that. Or they might try to obtain the discovery during a "SLAPP-back" action.

    Maybe I'm mistaken, but I thought a "SLAPP-back" motion is used typically by plaintiff, when defendant's anti-SLAPP motion is not upheld by the court; so plaintiff alleges that the defendant's anti-SLAPP motion was actually a SLAPP.

    Since an anti-SLAPP motion by either party usually suspends discovery, I'm not sure how a "SLAPP back" motion would yield further discovery.

    But I never did civil litigation.

  69. Colin says:

    They're not interested in blocking discovery. From the horse's (pony's?) mouth:

  70. Daryl Herbert says:

    En Passant: There is no such thing as a "SLAPP-back motion."

    The test for whether to dismiss a lawsuit as a SLAPP suit is when the defendant brings an "anti-SLAPP motion." If the motion is granted, the lawsuit is dismissed.

    A SLAPP-back action is a new lawsuit, filed by the original defendant, to seek damages from the original plaintiff for bringing a bogus SLAPP lawsuit in the first place. As far as I know, in all of the jurisdictions that allow SLAPP-back actions, first you have to have the case dismissed pursuant to an anti-SLAPP motion before a SLAPP-back can be filed.

    It looks like DC has an anti-SLAPP statute, meaning that the defendants in this case can bring an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss, if they so choose.

    However, DC does not have a "SLAPP-back" statute allowing them to file a new lawsuit against Mann if they win the anti-SLAPP motion. That doesn't mean they're completely out of luck. They could still file a lawsuit for malicious prosecution.

  71. Otis from Otisburg says:

    The comparison with creationism is a bridge too far for me. The problem is not that there is no evidence of man's impact on the environment. There is clear evidence of impact. The problem is that the evidence of impact is only barely related to the dire consequences that are routinely offered as settled science that Should Not Be Questioned(tm).
    Science is about the inquiry, not the result. There is only one side in the climate change debate that insists that there is no hypothesis that should continue be held up for scrutiny as verifiable; that there is a result that must be accepted with no further inquiry. It is left as an exercise for the reader to decide whether an insistence that all debate must end sounds more like the evolution or creationism side of the argument.
    Also – I notice above that some of the comments directed to Ken amount to the scientific equivalent of "mine is bigger than yours." (Not that Ken, who still appears to be in search of a proper arch-villain, needs or wants someone coming to his aid and downgrading his arch-villain prospects. This is something that would happen to the Tick, not to Batman. But I digress.) In a former life, my degree was in first principles molecular modeling, with work experience in finite element modeling as well. In other words, unless you currently have a job similar to being an active researcher studying climate change, mine really is bigger than yours. So maybe we can go a little easier on the whole settled debate thing.

  72. James Pollock says:

    "That doesn't excuse suing critics. Even if they say horrible things about you!"
    Oh, I think it does, if you can make out the elements of libel (one of which is actual damages).

    I think there's a categorical distinction between "I disagree with the conclusions scientist X has drawn from the data" and it's variants, vs. "scientist X must have cooked the data to reach THAT conclusion." and its variants.

    The global warming/climate change controversy is really several different questions. First, the scientific: #1 is climate change occurring? #2 if it is, is it changing because of man-made factors? There's more consensus on the first than the second, but majorities of climate scientists seem to believe that climate is changing and that desequestration of carbon is a significant contributing factor. In any case, these are scientific questions, which means that it IS possible (eventually) to determine a concrete answer. The scientific method is a very powerful tool for determining truth, where it can be brought to bear.
    The third question is NOT scientific but political: "If climate change is occurring, what are we to do about it?" The unfortunate fact is that people have been confusing the political and scientific portions of the problem. Political methods will not alter the science (any more than they have with evolution, and before that, the geocentric universe.) Science cannot answer the political question, and when scientists cross over that line, the results are not usually good (Newton was the exception, having a successful, if not particularly impressive, political career after his scientific one.)

  73. Richard S Courtney says:

    Aufero, Otis from Otisburg and James Pollock:

    I write to make a response to comments from each of you. I intend no offence by not making individual replies: my single comment addresses your points which I quote.

    Before quoting, I point out that this legal case has possibility of similar importance concerning the science of climate as the ‘Scopes Trial’ had for evolution studies.

    I am writing to address your following points.

    Aufero:
    I had suggested that you read the climategate emails and at Oct 24, 2012 @9:53 am you replied saying:
    “I have read them. They exhibit normal academic infighting, common to every field.”

    NO! They don’t, and I am now writing about one of those emails that was from me.

    Otis:
    At Oct 24, 2012 @9:07 pm you write:
    “Science is about the inquiry, not the result. There is only one side in the climate change debate that insists that there is no hypothesis that should continue be held up for scrutiny as verifiable; that there is a result that must be accepted with no further inquiry.”

    YES! And I am now writing to illustrate your point with a documented example.

    James:
    At Oct 24, 2012 @11:35 pm you write:
    “"That doesn't excuse suing critics. Even if they say horrible things about you!"
    Oh, I think it does, if you can make out the elements of libel (one of which is actual damages).

    I think there's a categorical distinction between "I disagree with the conclusions scientist X has drawn from the data" and it's variants, vs. "scientist X must have cooked the data to reach THAT conclusion." and its variants.”

    INDEED SO.

    All of you, please see
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/climatedata/uc0102.htm
    It is a link to the UK Parliamentary Record which provides my submission to UK Parliament’s Select Committee Inquiry (i.e. whitewash) of climategate.

    Its Appendix A is a climategate email that was from me. The discussion of that email is of a specific case of prevention of a scientific publication which provided doubt to existing presentations of ‘climate science’ data. Its Appendix B provides a draft of the pertinent paper which was prevented from publication by nefarious method.

    The bulk document is the submission which explains the problems.

    Aufero, I do not agree that the example I provide is “normal academic infighting”. It is corruption of the publication process.

    Otis, the example I provide shows there is NOT “a result that must be accepted with no further inquiry”.

    James, I think the example I provide shows there is good reason to suppose that in ‘climate science’ there is more than one "scientist X" who "must have cooked the data to reach THAT conclusion".

    And the ‘hide the decline’ issue which I outline above at Oct 24, 2012 @7:16 am is at least sufficient reason to suspect that Michael Mann may be a “scientist X”.

    Hence, I anticipate the ‘Mann vs Steyn&NRO’ Court Case investigation of the assertion that “the hockey stick graph” is “fraudulent”: the investigation could make this case as important for ‘climate science’ as the Scopes Trial was for the science of evolution.

    Richard

  74. Re discovery: The DC Anti-SLAPP statute takes a slightly different approach to the availability of discovery after a special motion is filed. The law says that a plaintiff may take "targeted" discovery where it appears to the judge that discovery might enable the plaintiff to defeat the anti-SLAPP motion; if the judge allows this she must specify the discovery allowed, and she may condition the discovery on payment of the defendant's expenses. That was the course that the judge took in the suit brought by Dan Snyder against the Washington City Paper.

  75. Dan Weber says:

    Of course you may think that being called a fraud and compared to a pedophile for publishing scientific data is perfectly fine.

    I don't know about "perfectly fine." I wouldn't like it if someone said that about me. However, it doesn't mean I get to sue those people into stfu.

    Loosely paraphrasing "Trust me, six prestigious organizations say I'm credible."

    IANAL but normally you have to establish some credentials for yourself. It doesn't mean you are right, but it means you are worth listening to.

    Granted, that's more what you do for expert witnesses, not libel cases. Mann might think "criticizing me == criticizing AGW" and so since he can prove AGW it will prove he's right and the state should make his opponents stfu.

    I saw Zyaama appeal to Richard Muller's authority. Here's what Muller has to say about Mann. Watch for about 5 minutes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbR0EPWgkEI#t=29m45s If you are really impatient go to 33:40. (The whole thing is worth watching. Muller, so you are aware, was a long-time skeptic who now largely agrees on AGW. He still doesn't defend Mann's manipulations.)

    Colin, your link got memory-holed. Google search for your URL and you will find it. (Don't want to include two URLs in the same post.)

  76. En Passant says:

    Daryl Herbert wrote Oct 24, 2012 @7:49 pm:

    En Passant: There is no such thing as a "SLAPP-back motion."

    The test for whether to dismiss a lawsuit as a SLAPP suit is when the defendant brings an "anti-SLAPP motion." If the motion is granted, the lawsuit is dismissed.

    A SLAPP-back action is a new lawsuit, filed by the original defendant, to seek damages from the original plaintiff for bringing a bogus SLAPP lawsuit in the first place. …

    My ignoramitude. Correction willingly received and understood.

    I misapprehended procedure as permitting plaintiff to file an anti-SLAPP motion in response to defendant's initial anti-SLAPP motion, if plaintiff adduces sufficient evidence to support finding that the defendant's initial anti-SLAPP motion was in fact brought to silence constitutionally protected speech.

    Note to self: Do not stare into the procedural abyss. It stares back. Especially if you're listening to Dueling Banjos at the time.

  77. Bryce says:

    There's a mannn playing the underdog while public evidence clearly shows his bullying, sabotage and intimidation tactics. A mannn who has made a career of "correcting" (transforming) and interpreting data in previously unusual ways sometimes associated with job dismissal.

  78. Kelly says:

    I am so stocking up on popcorn again.

    Okay:
    1. Science is about the method and your results holding up (prove or disprove). If they (being your results) don't hold up or you get a different result than the one you were looking for…you go back and look over the data and re-run the tests. If someone else comes along with further data and disproves YOUR results, that is SCIENCE and you shouldn't get butthurt about it. One of the glorious things about science is that it can shift and evolve as more data is made available.

    2. Mann really, really needs to stop whining. He has done more harm than good to the scientific study of climate change.

    3. If you hide your data, it cannot be studied by others. (see #1) Thus, you are not a very good scientist.

    As to the actual merits of the case… *sigh* The bright side: Mann doesn't have CC as his attorney…

  79. Mike says:

    The word "fraudulent" in reference to the hockey stick graph seems to be to be a pretty specific charge of misconduct and not hyperbole or opinion at all.

  80. Freddie Foobar says:

    Funniest thing here is all the butthurt liberturds and fratbros complaining that it's unfair that that nasty Mr Mann is daring to call two of their heros for bullying…

  81. paul hughes says:

    I seem to remember something from law school about truth being a defense. Might be worth mentioning in this case.

  82. Richard S Courtney says:

    Freddie Foobar:

    I am not aware of any 'opponents' of Michael Mann complaining. I have only seen them rejoicing that Mann has been so foolish as to bring the case because they think he will get his 'just deserts' in court.

    The discussion here is of interest to those like me who are interested to know if their optimism is misplaced. Perhaps you can provide some input about that?

    Richard

  83. ppnl says:

    I'm not a lawyer and don't really know where to draw the line between a factual claim and hyperbole. However given that Mann was investigated and cleared I think that claims that he was guilty would be hard to sell as hyperbole. For example if I call someone a murdering bastard that may be hyperbole. But if I call O.J. a murdering bastard that will be hard to sell as anything but a claim that the evidence supports such a factual claim.

    Now if National Review were willing to stand up and say "Yes indeed it is hyperbole and we did not intend to make any factual claims." then ok. But are they willing to make that public announcement? That would almost seem like a victory for Mann.

    Again I am not a lawyer and don't know precisely what constitutes malice. But given the vitriol and political divisiveness I think you could argue that it was a political hatchet job. Can you really say "Sorry, nothing personal. For purely impersonal political reasons we had to make false claims about you." The law is weird enough that I'm prepared to accept that you can.

    Still, the law suit seems like a bad idea.

  84. Bart says:

    ppnl – "However given that Mann was investigated and cleared I think that claims that he was guilty would be hard to sell as hyperbole."

    It doesn't even matter if he is wholly innocent, even had the "investigations" proved that, which they did not. If the defendants' personal opinion is that he is guilty, then they have a right to say so. Mann is a public figure, and NYT v. Sullivan clearly spells out the standard under which criticism of a public figure can be considered libelous:

    The Court held that the First Amendment protects the publication of all statements, even false ones, about the conduct of public officials except when statements are made with actual malice (with knowledge that they are false or in reckless disregard of their truth or falsity).

  85. Bart says:

    Oops. NYT v. Sullivan citation.

  86. Paul says:

    All data is "cherry-picked" to some degree. A medical trail for example – how many subjects, how are they to be chosen, how to divide into control and treatment groups, etc.. All statistical analysis requires judgement about which assumptions to use, what is the statistical benchmark for a "significant" result, etc…

    Scientists disagree all the time about the quality of papers submitted for review.

    This whole thing is just politics by other means, on both sides.

  87. Dr.Dawg says:

    Dismissing Mann's reference to investigations by his peers that have exonerated him as "arguments from authority" is adorable.

  88. Richard S Courtney says:

    Paul:

    You wrongly assert that "all data is cherry picked to some degree". If that were true then it would not be pertinent to this case.

    Mann invented a method that is not capable of valid calibration. Lucia provides a good explanation of this for non-statisticians at
    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2009/tricking-yourself-into-cherry-picking/

    One of the issues to be decided in the trial would be whether Mann, Bradley and Hughes knew this or were merely incompetent

    Richard

  89. ppnl says:

    Bart,

    Yes I understand that. My point was that if they are making a statement of fact then hyperbole is no longer a defense. In a court they will have to stand up and say what is actual belief and what is intended as only hyperbole. That could be inconvenient even if here is no legal liability.

    What I don't know is where malice is involved. I believe O.J. is guilty despite the fact that a jury found him innocent. There is no malice here as I don't care one way or the other.

    But if I had a long standing feud with O.J. how far can I push it before it is malicious? How close can I skirt truth in my frenzy to dis O.J. before it becomes actionable? I ask because I don't know. I do know that you pass the bounds of good journalism long before malice becomes an issue.

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