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Mann vs Morano

Marc Morano and Michael Mann were interviewed on the BBC's World Service Newshour show. As we know, Mann will not interact with anyone who might challenge his views, so we had the slightly odd spectacle of the interviewer acting as a go-between.

I think it's fair to say that nobody will have learned much from this exchange.

The audio file is attached below.

Mann vs Morano

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Reader Comments (48)

Firstly, the BBC is really weird. This interview is a good example. You want to 'save' this organisation? Why?

Secondly, Morano was great. Of course it was 'talking points' from both sides, but Morano's talking point was on the dot. Where is the BBC interviewing skeptics when they get 'threatening emails' and, of course, Michael Mann wouldn't know a hostile interview if it came and bit him in the cheek. All he's had are fawning worshippers.

Mann's voice, in return, was suitably quivering as if he was sobbing. "So hurtful" Boo hoo hoo.

Dec 1, 2012 at 12:54 PM | Registered Commentershub

Mann was allowed the last word, which typically was a smear against Morano.

Dec 1, 2012 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

Marc Morano is a 'hired assassin', according to Mann.

This is why you shouldn't allow scientists, who do not know anything of the art of rhetoric, who are used to authoritarianism (from being in science), anywhere near a mike in a democracy.

People have no idea how crazy and stupid scientists really are.

Dec 1, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Registered Commentershub

First lines from the interviewer "Marc Morano who has got it in for climate scientists" - just awful, how can he get away with starting like that. Well done Morano fro just answering the question, it's a shame that Mann was allowed to finish unchallenged with what can only be called bile. The BBC is beyond a joke in it's bias.

Dec 1, 2012 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper


scientists ...who are used to authoritarianism (from being in science),

If you allow me to change "science" for "academia", I couldn't agree more.

Dec 1, 2012 at 1:28 PM | Registered CommenterPatagon

The BBC intro places Mann as the true visionary and then victim, being physically and verbally attacked, persecuted with death threats by right-wing interests, and then asks "Marc Morano, are you putting people up to this?"

To his enormous credit, Morano is not in the least cowed by this, and tells the interviewer that: "Mann plays the martyr very well."

Mann has nothing to offer in return, goes back to whining.

Clear Morano win, but as our host says, nobody would have learnt much, given that we already know how biased the BBC is on these matters.

Dec 1, 2012 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

The BBC knows exactly what they are doing as is evident from the getgo.
They also know that we know but they don't care two hoots because they are allowed to get away with
their bias time and time again without fear of being held to account.
Hopefully, 28gate will bring their demise a little closer.

Dec 1, 2012 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

How is the "assassin" comment not defamatory?

Dec 1, 2012 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterLemon

Mann has always been very careless about details. After learning a few weeks back that he'd been subjected to "anthrax scare", I've tried to collect information in order to figure out what exactly happended. This time he says something like:
"I've had substances sent to me in a mail, where I had to have the FBI come in and to do a test to make sure I had not been subject to a dangerous substance."
That's again a slightly new version.

Here's what I've gathered so far:

Dec 25, 2011 (Le Monde reports 2011 AGU Meeting (5-9.12.)
Michael Mann feels that things can get carried away at times. “One day, a year and a half ago, I received a letter with white powder inside it that looked like it could be anthrax. I forwarded the letter to the police who sent it for analysis: it turned out to be corn flour.”

Book, p. 180
Most of these threats didn’t seem credible, and while I did inform the authorities of them, by and large I brushed them off. One, however, could not be ignored. On August 18, 2010, I had to explain to colleagues in the Penn State University meteorology department, located in the “happy valley” of Central Pennsylvania, why there was police tape over the door to my office. The immediate answer was that the FBI had quarantined the room and sent a letter I’d received that afternoon off to their nearest testing facility to determine the nature of the white powder contained within it. At a more basic level, the answer was that this is simply what it means to be a prominent figure in the climate change debate in the United States today. The tests came back a few days later; luckily, the substance in the letter was cornstarch. The sender had nonetheless committed a felony crime.

Mar 15, 2012
I’ve had death threats against me. I received an envelope a couple years ago with a white powder in it: I had to have the FBI send it off to their lab to make sure I hadn’t been exposed to anthrax.

Apr 12, 2012
I’ve received a package containing an Anthrax-like white powder (the FBI determined that it was a hoax)

May 5, 2012
Some emails, letters, and phone messages that have been left on my office phone contain thinly veiled threats of violence, death threats. I had an envelope sent to my work address that contained a white powder, obviously it was intended to make we think I had been exposed to anthrax. The FBI had to send that off to the regional lab to test it, and it turns out it was just cornmeal, but using the mail to intimidate in that way is a felony…

June 21, 2012
Several months ago, he arrived at his office with an armload of mail. Sitting at his desk, he tore open a hand-addressed envelope and began to pull out a letter. He watched as a small mass of white powder cascaded out of the folds and onto his fingers. Mann jerked backward, letting the letter drop and holding his breath as a tiny plume of particles wafted up, sparkling in the sunlight. He rose quickly and left the office, pulling the door shut behind him. “I went down to the restroom and washed my hands,” he says. “Then I called the police.”

Nov 21, 2012
But the debate between these researchers and those who disagree has led to ugly insults, lawsuits and even death threats.

“The FBI had to come in and investigate an envelope that I received that contained white powder,” said Dr. Mann.

Dr. Mann says he had an anthrax scare after his groundbreaking research, known as the “Hockey Stick Theory” was published. It’s a graph shaped like a hockey stick showing the sharp rise in recent global temperatures. Dr. Mann says he’s feared for his life and is suing both the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise for comparing him to convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky. Dr. Mann believes climate change deniers have motives outside of pure science.

Dec 1, 2012 at 3:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJean S

As Jack Cowper noted above the introduction of Marc Morano by the host as one "who's got it in for climate scientists" is revealing and shows us all the result of 28gate all these years later.

Still I found it interesting to hear Michael Mann in his own words. It was a bit uneven to put his views against Morano's, it would be like Bob Ward's views against Steve McIntyre. Shills of the fossil fuel companies/right wing think tanks always appear at the end of a Mann interview and I wasn't disappointed.

Mann's current description of the hockey stick was interesting, at times the team have said this 1 graph didn't matter much and they didn't give it the heightened status in the IPCC reports/media output. Here he still claims that it "demonstrates how unprecedented recent warming is" (he doesn't say half of the "unprecedented recent warming", the HS of course was only a Northern Hemisphere reconstruction).

Dec 1, 2012 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterredc

This would make an interesting transcript. Is there an Alex Cull in the house?

Dec 1, 2012 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

I did the same digging Jean S has shown here. As she points out, the story is slightly different each time.

We have only Mann's word to go by on this one, and we know what that's worth.

Ben Santer's rat story is similarly evergreen. It appears from all the media stories about the rat, that it took place sometime around 2001. But every time it gets repeated as though it took place three days ago, for instance, in Tom Clynne's Popular Science story linked above.

Dec 1, 2012 at 3:53 PM | Registered Commentershub

There is an very worthwhile and perceptive review of Mann's book 'The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines' on Amazon UK by someone called Stephen Black here:

Dec 1, 2012 at 3:55 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Morano is good!

I hope that the BBC employ the 'timid, victimized scientist vs. the assassin' strategy more generally. The 'assassin' can simply point out that Mann's emails reveal his dishonesty in his own words and are generally available. Anyone interested can read them for themselves. (Of course such reading may be career suicide within the BBC - but the general public do not have this constraint).

(No wonder the UN want to regulate the internet!)

Dec 1, 2012 at 4:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Dec 1, 2012 at 3:39 PM | redc

Mann's current description of the hockey stick was interesting, at times the team have said this 1 graph didn't matter much and they didn't give it the heightened status in the IPCC reports/media output. Here he still claims that it "demonstrates how unprecedented recent warming is" (he doesn't say half of the "unprecedented recent warming", the HS of course was only a Northern Hemisphere reconstruction).

A few years ago, the magnificent mantra-Mann told the BBC:

“I always thought it was somewhat misplaced to make it (i.e. the “hockey-stick” -hro) a central icon of the climate change debate,” [Mann] said.

Of course, when a US reporter subsequently invited him to explain why this was the case, mantra-Mann became surprisingly reticent (after the customary recycling of his favourite mantra).

As for the alleged anthrax scare and other assorted death-threats, I for one would be very surprised if he were ever to provide any <gasp> verifiable evidence to substantiate these claims. Copies of the emails, with full headers, would be a good start. As would the FBI agent's name and location and the case number.

Dec 1, 2012 at 5:01 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

...any <gasp> verifiable evidence to substantiate these claims. ... As would the FBI agent's name and location and the case number.

Yes please.

Dec 1, 2012 at 5:11 PM | Registered Commentershub

Roger Harrabin,

Surely you monitor venues like this from your BBC sanctioned scientific censorship bunker.

Please step forward and tell me what self-righteous excuses du jour that you daydream about to try to justify your central role in implementing broad censorship of open scientific dialog.

I predict you will use all following excuses that are used by people without intellectual integrity:

a) I was just following orders

b) if I refused to do it then somebody would have done it anyway

c) all my journalistic friends do it so it is OK for me to do it

d) I am special, I am above the level of normal morality and behavior

e) I may lack intellectual integrity but those who oppose my true ideology are the worst kinds of people

f) . . . etc, etc, etc . . .


Dec 1, 2012 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

What is so consistently amazing, startling even, about Mann is his brazen shamelessness.

Everything, but everything, he accuses his critics of applies to him times about eight million.

He is, properly, a really nasty piece of work.

No wonder he had Phil Jones cowering and whimpering, desperate to do his bidding.

And what an abject performance by the interviewer, snide, smug, superior, smirking.

Dec 1, 2012 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

There it is - the Amazon interview

There are a lot of extreme people who don't like Mann. People like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Senator James Inhofe have all made intemperate and personal attacks on him for his opinions on Climate Change. Much of what they say is merely ad-hominem and not a reasoned and logical argument against his scientific conclusions. So it is interesting to see how Mann defends himself and science from this assault.

In short he defends himself in the same unreasonable way they attack him. I was with him on page 81 when he argues the following: "Legitimate scientific skepticism bears a certain hallmark. It does not, for example, focus on the character of the scientist or the policy implications of his or her findings. Instead, it follows a logical line of questioning. Do the results make sense? Do they contradict previous findings? Are the lines of evidence plausible? Do the data appear sound?" Just one page later he starts his attack on one critic (Ross McKitrick) by questioning his character and arguing his judgement is biased because of links with the fossil fuel lobby.

For most of the rest of the book Mann lumps all criticism into one group totally failing to make any distinction between legitimate criticism of his science and ad-hominem attacks on his character. Many of his critics talk nonsense and use abuse instead of argument. But many make legitimate scientific and skeptical arguments without engaging in character assignation. Mann lumps both groups together and assumes they are all motivated by undeclared links to the evil energy industry. This is both unconvincing (unless you never have read any of the criticism) and not a reasonable scientific response according to his own definition.

In defending himself from the Climategate affair he seems to believe that distraction is the best policy. The content of the leaked emails shows a certain habit of trying to bury criticism and strong-arm the peer review process to make sure as little criticism as possible gets published. Mann thinks that it is more important to focus on the fact that the email leak was a criminal act perpetrated by anti-climate change activists (he doesn't explain how he knows this when nobody else does).

I was prepared to give Mann a chance when i started the book. But his "I'm right, you're wrong" and one size fits all approach to critics has lowered his credibility. The slightest hint of humility about his work (he seems to think all his errors were minor and well intentioned) or any ability to assume that some of his critics might have had some legitimate scientific grounds for their criticism (where they are experts, their motivation is suspect; where they are not, they aren't qualified to engage in the debate) might have garnered some sympathy. The style and character of his arguments leave me trusting him less and thinking he wants to distract me from the substance of the debate.

I'm giving him three stars for the book as it is readable if stylistically uneven and it is an important if very one-sided account of a significant debate. But readers really need to read some of his critics before accepting his side of the story (its somewhat biased the other way, but The Hockey Stick Illusion;Climategate and the Corruption of Science (Independent Minds) is a good start and a good skeptic would buy both at the same time and see who make a better scientific case).

Dec 1, 2012 at 6:18 PM | Registered Commentershub

I've posted up a comment on the BBC The World Tonight facebook page the other day when I became very cross about the interview they had with Mark Lynas (or as he should be known, Maldives Micky).
They introduced him as "Climate expert and campaigner Mark Lynas" to which I suggested that there were no real journalists on this programme anymore.
Weird exchange of replies from the person running their facebook page citing the usual climate scientist consensus rubbish and they asked me which questions should have been posed to Lynas.
It was very similar to bashing my head into a brick wall but at least you get a result doing that.

Dec 1, 2012 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

That report was probably the most biased I have ever heard (WRT the climate change debate).

I have no idea when this was aired on the BBC, but if I did I would complain. They have no right to present ANY article with such bias.

I would also love the time to analyse the time given to each interviewee and see if they were given equal airtime. My guess Mann 2 Morano 1.

And the unchallenged lies Mann was allowed to make were disgraceful.

I know now why people have such a distrust if Mann. If he can lie in an interview, he will lie about anything.

Thank you Bishop for providing this for us all.

Dec 1, 2012 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy UK

Right wing blah blah, John Kerry swift boat blah blah,

What I can't believe is the complete bias by the BBC, wow!

Dec 1, 2012 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterEric H.

"Marc Morano is a 'hired assassin', according to Mann."

Is shub calling him an amatuer?

Dec 1, 2012 at 11:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

@ RoyFOMR, I'm on the case! There's now a full transcript of the conversation here.

The original audio can also be found here. This was the BBC World Service's Newshour programme with Julian Marshall, broadcast on Friday 30th November, and the Mann/Morano segment starts at 37:03.

Dec 1, 2012 at 11:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

Mann had a death threat happen to him.

Thanks to Jean S - I can sift through the aggregate he provides and see consistent evidence.

Mann got a death threat.

Even if Mann was only shocked for a millisecond and then quickly and cynically decided to exploit it for his PR purposes- still for ever more - I will sympathise with Mann. I hope they catch the twat who sent a comedy powder it to him and he gets done.

Dec 2, 2012 at 12:00 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

BTW I now know Michael Mann actually has the ability to show a death threat happened to him even if the letter was just corn meal - it was a signal, I would agree, designed as a death threat.

And I say this as someone who has been bemused by antipodean dissemblers who have struggled for such certain evidence in *their* defence ;).

Dec 2, 2012 at 12:05 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Dec 1, 2012 at 12:54 PM | shub

Firstly, the BBC is really weird. This interview is a good example. You want to 'save' this organisation? Why?

Your critique is weird shub

I like weird...

I think we agree we don't need state subsidised weird ;)

Dec 2, 2012 at 12:57 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

In the BBC before November 13, there would have been no Morano in no interview.

Dec 2, 2012 at 2:20 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Dudes, I think we're fooling ourselves here.....if.we.look from a.laymans.perspective then Mann sounds.calmer.than Morano and is allowed the last word to make his allegations. I'm gutted but Mark Morano needs to beware if he's invited baclk on the BBC. p.s sorry for the full stops instead of spaces....I'm dpong this on the mobile.

Dec 2, 2012 at 4:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterNZ Groover

I agree with NZ Groover. Morano came over to me as a somewhat rabid ranter. Whilst I can understand his frustration with the likes of Mann and the whole alarmist nonsense, I don’t think his response would do much to persuade the ‘floating voter’ over to the realist side. Of course the interviewer’s introduction, and allowing Mann the final word, didn’t help much either.

On the business of dismantling the BBC, I think that would be a bad and sad thing; it has a lot of very good and valuable content. It needs radical surgery and the worry is it may kill the patient.

Dec 2, 2012 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikeA

@Alec Cull
Many thanks Sir.

Dec 2, 2012 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

I wasn't yet able to hear the Morano interview, but will try again using the link provided by Alec Cull. But I think the BBC deserves some credit for providing some balance on this occasion. Neither interviewee is much of a scientist, but both are active in the PR field and have wide audiences.
However I don't see why the BBC described Morano as having it in for climate scientists. He 'has it in' for bad science, of which Mann has provided us with more than enough.

Dec 2, 2012 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterColdish


UNLESS the intention of the BBC was to paint skeptics as rabid haters and Mann Made Global Warming (tm) scientists as hapless victims of right wing abuse?


Dec 2, 2012 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

This is just further proof that Mann will never go to court in pursuit of his 'cases ' for they simply cannot deal with any questioning that is not 'friendly' to say the least .

Dec 2, 2012 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

@ MikeA

On the BBC, I might have agreed with you 20 years ago. It is now broken and so far in breach of its Charter in so many ways that the damage is terminal, I fear. Also its "policeman", the BBC Trust is also broken.

A recent example of how the BBC is held to account really chimes with me. The BBC Trust website says:

"Our job is to get the best out of the BBC for licence fee payers.

We set the strategic objectives for the BBC. We have challenged the BBC to:

increase the distinctiveness and quality of output;
improve the value for money provided to licence fee payers;
set new standards of openness and transparency; and
do more to serve all audiences."

And yet we see Lord Patten in front of our relevant Parliamentary Committee in the last few days justifying the fact that he agreed to pay Entwhistle more than double his contractual entitlement on his resignation by saying Entwhistle was a "good bloke". That's really improving the value for money provided to licence fee payers.

Patten was rude, patronising, and obviously felt that our own elected MPs are rather beneath him, as he sat, corpulent and ageing from a life of good dining and good living, the epitome of today's political and bureaucratic class. The comments of Philip Davies MP about Patten were right on the money. Rather than answer a question about how much of his time he spendfs fulfilling his highly paid tenure as Chairman, Patten loftily told us to use FOI to find out. This is the guy who is supposed to hold the BBC to account on our behalf - as bad as the organisation he is supposed to police.

The BBC itself uses every opportunity to use the "held for journalistic purposes" expemtion to any FOI request and a quick look at FOI case reports shows that it deploys this routinely and usually wins. It deploys it in simple requests for information relating to the cost of sending a journalist or journalists to various places. It uses it for almost everything. So much for setting new standards of openness and transparency.

Savile, 28Gate, tax avoidance, repeated management failures, proven long standing bias on so many issues, all funded by a compulsory tax. The BBC is past any useful contribution to society that it ever made.

Dec 2, 2012 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterRB

A commenter on WUWT says Morano was given the opportunity to reply to Mann's last but it was cut from the programme as transmitted.

Regarding Mann's white powder letter, he may well have received such a thing, but there is a good chance it was sent by one of the many warmist nutcases who believe that skeptics do such things but aren't prepared to take the chance that they might not. The "death threats" meme is one they are very keen on.

Dec 2, 2012 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

When I called the interview, I was looking at it from a common man's perspective. Sure, the regular person will allow tone and demeanour to judge trustworthiness, but even in the worst of cases, a smidgeon of the opposite message will get through. Morano is capable of doing that. No one's going to change the minds of hardened ideologues. This is the BBC. There is no way Morano is going to do anything to come out good, so the only eventuality is - how bad is Mann going to look? I don't Mann did himself any favours.

The Skepticalscience team, and you can be assured, members of The Team, know they are carrying around a liability in the form of Mann - you can see in their leaked messages. Mann likely imagines himself to be the next Schneider but he is more like his admired Ehrlich - he appeals to the hardcore Malthusians and very few among anyone else.

Dec 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered Commentershub

Patten seemed moderately happy to explain to the committee how long he spent in his other paid emplyment- but told Davies he was impertinent for asking how much time he spent at the BBC. Why did the committee chair not demand an answer? Patten was there to answer questions, wasn't he? Arrogant is an understatement.

Dec 2, 2012 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

This might be of interest, for purposes of comparison - a transcript of the notorious BBC Newsnight segment with Marc Morano vs the UEA's Andrew Watson on 3rd December 2009, exactly three years ago tomorrow.

Dec 2, 2012 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

Morano comes across as a tin pot Phillip Schofield to Mann's down market Lord McAlpine.

If ITV had done a Mark Steyn by invoking Sandusky the settlement might have been seven figures instead of six.

Dec 2, 2012 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

This interview, an early Xmas gift to Mann from the sycophantic BBC, allows Mann to level countless ad homs ("hired assassin") against Morano without the courtesy of rebuttal. Disgraceful. I advise Morano to sue Mann for slander.

Dec 3, 2012 at 1:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterJBirks

I just posted a 'restored' transcript of BBC debate transcript with Michael Mann with lots of links and background on Mann. See here:

Dec 3, 2012 at 7:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterMarc Morano

Excerpt: The BBC deleted entire Morano rebuttal at end of debate with Mann in archived podcast: BBC tells Climate Depot they were 'able to tidy [audio] up...without losing the thrust of what you said' -- Climate Depot restored the very brief and interrupted rebuttal in transcript below]

Dec 3, 2012 at 7:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterMarc Morano

Yes... the goal of science is to mislead people. Hundreds of people with different interests all independent of each other have a vested interest in convincing the world that it is getting warmer in order to... um... mislead people for no apparent reason. And of course, all of the evidence is clearly fabricated. The government sends satellites over the icecaps and reflects the sun... total sense being made here.

Dec 3, 2012 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterIgnis

ignis... is that short for 'ignorant'? And what makes you think it is 'science' that is misleading people, and not the Ideology of those mis-representing the science?

Dec 3, 2012 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

I agree with NZ Groover, Mann sounded more collected than Morano, but then I've always thought that Morano was the sceptical version of Ward, someone with few qualifications getting far more attention than is warranted.

Be that as it may, Mann said some interesting things that make it clear that he still believes in the hockey stick and the message it conveys. This makes him sound like a loon for those of us who know the story.

Dec 3, 2012 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Norman

Jeff Norman: Correction: - icon for those who don't know the story

Dec 4, 2012 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France

"Old-timer's disease" setting in - I misread "loon" as "icon" so withdraw that last remark.

Dec 4, 2012 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France

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