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« Climate change and literary studies | Main | Compact, fluorescent, dangerous »
Tuesday
Jul242012

Mann's legal case

Already embroiled in a legal tussle with Tim Ball, Michael Mann has now taken it upon himself to threaten the National Review with a libel suit. Much of the Review article was a direct quote of the CEI piece which considered whether Penn State's willingness to cover up the Sandusky child abuse scandal meant that it might also have covered up wrongdoing by Mann. Although the point made by the CEI piece was a serious one, the article's fairly unsubtle linking of Mann with Sandusky has led to inevitable outrage among Mann's supporters. However, in fact the libel threat appears to be based on another part of the Steyn's article entirely.

Michael Mann was the man behind the fraudulent climate-change “hockey-stick” graph, the very ringmaster of the tree-ring circus.

If it ever comes to court this would make for an interesting hearing, particularly since much of the case seems to revolve around Mann's exoneration by, among others, Oxburgh and Russell! However, as journalist Dan Fagin observed in response to the news, people sue and threaten to sue for all kinds of reasons, winning in court being just one of them. I personally doubt if this will come to anything.

[In related news, this Twitter exchange between Mann and Ryan Radia of CEI was interesting

RyanRadia .@MichaelEMann Why did you delete my comment on your FB page re: defamation of public figures and the actual malice standard?

@MichaelEMann You are with *CEI*, front group dedicated to dishonest smears & promotion of disinformation. That's why. Take it elsewhere.

RyanRadia .@MichaelEMann By your logic re: CEI, wouldn't I be justified in ignoring anything from Penn State academics because of the Freeh Report?]

 

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Reader Comments (60)

hope it goes to court so that Mann may at last need to confront critical info such as in "The Hockey Stick Illusion"

Jul 24, 2012 at 7:33 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Michael Mann, one of the world's leading claimant scientists.

Jul 24, 2012 at 7:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Norman

I hope it goes to court but I suspect this will end up with an out of court settlement for Mann based solely on the assumption that it will be cheaper to settle than to go through court.

Btw, anyone know what's happening Ruth the Tim Ball case?

Mailman

Jul 24, 2012 at 8:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

As Mann is a public figure, he'd have an awfully hard time winning on court. I believe the standard is that he has to prove "their statements were false and they knew they were false but just didn't care." Is Mann going to be able to prove they knew his Hockey Stick graph was correct but hide it from the public? And then there is discovery. Is Mann going to let Mark Stein examine all his records? If Stein finds one email that sounds like Mann has doubts about his graph can't Stein assert the absolute defense of truth? I'm no lawyer but these things usually go nowhere.

Jul 24, 2012 at 8:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterFred 2

He must be a very rich Mann to be able to bring two libel suits at once.

Does anyone know how the one against Dr.Ball is progressing? I have heard nothing about it for months.

It would be interesting to see Hockey Stick on trial for its life. It might well end in a re-run of the case here in GB when "An Inconvenient Truth" finally got its comeuppance.

Jul 24, 2012 at 8:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

There's a close link between the Sandusky and Ball cases: http://johnosullivan.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/breaking-climate-scientist-michael-mann-lawyers-up-after-penn-state-child-sex-link/

'You published your reconstruction after having tested it and finding it didn’t work, and you then withheld the adverse test results, while claiming it had passed. The short-centering could have been a stupid mistake (and probably was), but on the r-squared tests you must have known exactly what you were doing. From my experience of working in law this constitutes deliberate fraud. For that reason it is my opinion you should be criminally prosecuted.'

Jul 24, 2012 at 8:13 AM | Unregistered Commenterspartacusisfree

Mailman

re: Mann's suit vs. Tim Ball, what I saw recently is that the court is requiring Mann to produce a lot of documents in discovery, and so far he seems unwilling to do so, and may have to drop or lose the case (may also face punitive damages from the court) unless he suddenly comes through with the docs. My guess is he thought Tim Ball would just try to settle, and when Ball fought the case Mann was unwilling to actually open his docs to scrutiny..... but I don't think anything is resolved just yet.

Fred 2

I'm also no lawyer, but these kinds of cases involving a "public figure" are very different in the USA than in many countries, i.e., there is much wider latitude here (I'm in the USA) to mock and ridicule or verbally attack public figures, with the main bar being "malice" of knowing what you say is false. As long as a defendant can make a credible case that they "believed" what they said (even if many/most others disagree) then I think it's tough for a public figure to win defamation cases here. So far as I have seen it's usually only when there are the most clear-cut factual cases beyond all shadow of doubt, that a plaintiff has a hope of winning if they are recognized by the court as a "public figure." So I'm guessing that Mann is posturing, fundraising, rallying his troops etc. but I doubt that he really expects to go to trial and win.......

Jul 24, 2012 at 8:17 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Jack Savage

I don't know but I doubt Mann pays any of these legal fees. Real Climate was founded and backed by Fenton Communications a Soros group, and lots of enviro and lefty political groups have tons of money to help him. Somone is likely paying behind the scenes for his legal fees etc. though nothing is disclosed I don't think. Think Progress and Climate Progress are thought to be very well funded by Soros and friends, although I think all that funding is murky and undisclosed. Lots more potential funding scandals with enviro campaign groups than with the occasional Heartland Inst. etc. except so-called journalists don't show much interest.

Jul 24, 2012 at 8:23 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Hide the Malign

Jul 24, 2012 at 8:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Re: Jul 24, 2012 at 8:17 AM | Skiphil

Certainly agree with this.

I also think that the National Review piece has been very carefully worded and that Mann may well have fallen into a trap (partially of his own making, his reaction was almost guaranteed!).

This could become very big indeed, dependent of course on the funds available to both sides.

Jul 24, 2012 at 8:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

Jeff Norman: "Michael Mann, one of the world's leading claimant scientists.

Sweet, Jeff!

Jul 24, 2012 at 8:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

I'm happy to dump on the intellectually inferior moron Mann as the next person but I get board of coming up with new comments on this Webble, can we just have a block quote everyone can just cut and paste, something like....

Micheal Mann:Fraud.

...and get no with our lives.

Jul 24, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

Mann-made global warming; the gift that keeps on giving.......

Jul 24, 2012 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterspartacusisfree

My thinking is that the appropriate link is not with Mann and Sandusky.

...but with Mann and Paterno.

If you recall the earlier PSU "independent investigation" against Mann, the university prevented/restricted investigators from looking into the Climategate emails to examine academic/professional malfeasance-- that was first made known through Climategate.

In the end, the investigators simply asked Mann if he did anything wrong, and then reported his response as their conclusions.

With the Louis Freeh report, you see an actual "independent" investigation. Unfettered access and all the rest.

Where-as Penn State said in their academic investigation of Michael Mann that one could not possibly fully understand motive and could not possibly connect action from intent through emails... The Louis Freeh report clearly indicated otherwise-- that you could indeed use emails for conclusive information, even when the target (Paterno) did not even own a computer, much less use email.

Somebody important SOMEWHERE should be pointing out the stark contrast. In this highly relevant and current context-- it is clear that Paterno and Mann should have suffered the same fate together (either be exhonerated on their own personal statements all else be damned, or to fall as a guilty party).

Perhaps the Mann/Sandusky comparison is going to muddy the waters too much... but there is something to this in a different light.

Jul 24, 2012 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterSalamano

Bish writes:

as journalist Dan Fagin observed in response to the news, people sue and threaten to sue for all kinds of reasons, winning in court being just one of them.

Even before his latest venture into "revisionist" scholarship, i.e. the opus that should probably have been called Portrait of the Artist as an Aggrieved Mann: A Novel, it struck me that Mann seems bound and determined to re-invent himself as the David <I see you, I sue you> Irving of climate science.

Should they ever encounter each other in a battle of over-inflated egos, I'm not sure which of the two would win!

Jul 24, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Please, please, please, please, nice Mr. Mann. Take this to Court.

Jul 24, 2012 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Skiphil,

Thanks for the info...very interesting indeed.

Regards

Mailman

Jul 24, 2012 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Zed and responses removed

Jul 24, 2012 at 11:23 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Folk, please remember than any correspondence with the Zed will be removed by the Bish, and since it has an absolutely rigid view of the world completely immune to logic, it really is pointless to respond.

Jul 24, 2012 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered Commentersteveta

HE'S NOT A SCIENTISTS, HE'S A VERY NAUGHTY BOY!

Jul 24, 2012 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered Commentercmdocker

The point of Steyn's piece is that a university prepared to cover up paedophilia would have little conscience about some dodgy research. It may be tasteless, but Mann doesn't really have a case, IMO - he's just fallen into a Pooh-trap for heffalumps. Which seems appropriate.

Jul 24, 2012 at 12:27 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

"... would have little conscience about some dodgy research ... ": oh no, it's dodginess denialism.

Jul 24, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

re Jul 24, 2012 at 8:37 AM | Marion

I doubt that Steyn carefully worded his blog post. It was a quickie, afterall, with Steyn merely commenting on another writer's posts. Indeed, he noted the excesses in that post, which will in itself be proof of lack of malice.

Mann's lawyer is attempting to use a very limited definition of "fraudulent" here. He is equating it with "academic fraud" and I think that is a big loser. Steyn can easily say that he didn't think Mann's hockey stick work was academically fraudulent initially, that he believes Mann probably believed the work represented scientific truth. He can say that since he, Steyn, believes the work has been conclusively refuted, that the fraud is now political and scientific and that Mann's continued defense of it and the IPCC's refusal to disavow it are fraudulent. It doesn't require malice to come to that very defensible conclusion.

I really don't see that Mann has a case here. Mann needs to consider the possibility that after two years of discovery on the history of the hockey stick controversy he will look like an utter fool.

Jul 24, 2012 at 4:21 PM | Unregistered Commentertheduke

Has Sandusky replaced Kaczynski on Heartland's billboard yet?

There can be only one Eric Cartman of Climatology, and with Alexander Cockburn gone, Steyn, Watts and Simberg seem locked in stiff competition.

Jul 24, 2012 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Mailman

A little about the Tim Ball case in amongst

http://johnosullivan.wordpress.com/

Paragraph - Mann Losing Confidence in his Canadian Legal Team?

Jul 24, 2012 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

re: "Eric Cartman of climatology"

I had to Google the reference, and then was reminded why I never cared to watch the juvenile "South Park" show... but Michael Mann is the best candidate for "Eric Cartman of climatology" even if he doesn't match in every particular. Mann has the aggressive, buffoonish bloviating down very well....

p.s. The Sandusky-Kaczynski comparison is confused --- the comparison is Mann-Paterno on how Penn State ex-officials failed to conduct proper investigations and in fact ensured that relevant matters would not be fully investigated. That is the relevant point of comparison.

Jul 24, 2012 at 5:04 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Skip

If anyone is the EC of climatology it is, as you suggest, the Mann himself. Not what Russell had in mind, of course, but that's hardly an obstacle...

Jul 24, 2012 at 5:36 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

"As Mann is a public figure, he'd have an awfully hard time winning on court. I believe the standard is that he has to prove "their statements were false and they knew they were false but just didn't care."

The Sherman's standard is "Actual Malice" NYT vs Sullivan USSC 1964.

Jul 24, 2012 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Ozanne

Re: Jul 24, 2012 at 4:21 PM | theduke

"I doubt that Steyn carefully worded his blog post. It was a quickie, afterall, with Steyn merely commenting on another writer's posts. Indeed, he noted the excesses in that post, which will in itself be proof of lack of malice."

Which is exactly why I think it was carefully worded ie -

"Steyn merely commenting on another writer's posts. Indeed, he noted the excesses in that post"

- No possible case for Mann to sue.

"I really don't see that Mann has a case here. Mann needs to consider the possibility that after two years of discovery on the history of the hockey stick controversy he will look like an utter fool."

And I totally agree, which is why I believe he will either back down (not something that comes easily to him) or go to court and risk all the extra publicity over the 'hockey stick'.

Either way it will be big news in the blogosphere and a set-back in the CAGW camp.

And something that the Republicans esp. Ron Paul will be keeping a keen eye on.

Jul 24, 2012 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

Michael Mann, one of the world's leading claimant scientists.

LOL!

Jul 24, 2012 at 9:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterzefal

Mann's latest announcement on his Facebook page:


hey trolls who have been given marching orders to flood the comment threads here like an infestation of beetle larvae: Don't bother! We've seen the mindless talking points before, and coming here to parrot them simply (a) pollutes the otherwise thoughtful discussion in the comment threads here, and (b) exposes the intellectual bankruptcy of your climate change denial zealotry.

Beetle larvae! Made my day.

Jul 24, 2012 at 9:33 PM | Registered CommenterAndy Scrase

Imagine all the fun Mark Steyn's lawyers will have with discovery? Why fight to keep your e-mail private in one court and then insist on going into another where the defense's first actions will be to ask to see everything you wrote since you graduated High School?

Jul 24, 2012 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred 2

Three words: Wilde vs. Queensberry.

I.e., don't go to court if you really do have something to hide.

Jul 24, 2012 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Schrumpf

I was at least one of the first to comment on his page.. after reading the WUWT post. Didnt hide who I was.. but I did get snarky a little.. Saying 'Discovery should be entertaining' .. Half hour later saw mine gone and Mann commented on deleting 6 posts ..I hadnt seen any others so I lay claim to FIRST given marching orders
BTW.. if you think there was 'thoughtful discussion' Maybe..if Go get them Doc.. and 'about time' is thoughtful

Jul 25, 2012 at 1:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterJim Armstrong

As someone who has been watching the academic career of Michael Mann for a decade, I'd have to say that Mann is causing the sort of publicity headache that Penn State could do without right now.

Mann is supposed to be on sabbatical at the moment...isn't that when academics go quiet and do some actual research?

I wouldn't be surprised if Mann moves on to the next funding pot soon.

Jul 25, 2012 at 7:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn A

As someone who has been watching the academic career of Michael Mann for a decade, I'd have to say that Mann is causing the sort of publicity headache that Penn State could do without right now.

Mann is supposed to be on sabbatical at the moment...isn't that when academics go quiet and do some actual research?

I wouldn't be surprised if Mann moves on to the next funding pot soon.

Jul 25, 2012 at 7:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn A

By the way, in case anybody missed it Mann is speaking at the AGU on "Media and Blogging as a Communication Tool For Scientists."

Given the vitriolic crap he posts on his facebook page, I expect his talk to be titled "How to be a pompous a$$".

Jul 25, 2012 at 8:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterCarrick

Have joined this thread rather late but if the Mark Steyn refered to is the Canadian journalist whose aggressivenes is in no sense passive, then Mann is batting out of his league.

Jul 25, 2012 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterGordon Walker

I know that what Mann did with "hiding the decline" was ethically wrong, but is it right to call him the "Jerry Sandusky of climate science"? That's just the same as AGW alarmists labeling skeptics as holocaust "deniers". We need to move away from this kind of ridiculous ad hominem attacks and focus on the science.

Jul 25, 2012 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterDr Chan Chu

Re: Jul 25, 2012 at 8:37 AM | Carrick

I wonder if his reference to 'beetle larvae' comes under 'novel and effective methods of communicating climate change science' !!

Jul 25, 2012 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

Mann is going to regret the day he crossed paths with Mark Steyn. Steyn and a few other people are directly responsible for the repeal of Canada’s anti-free speech laws.

Steyn seems to have deliberately baited Mann to sue him, and Mann has fallen for it. Grab the popcorn, this is going to be good!

The sky really is falling for Mann; I would hate to be in his shoes right now. And once Mann falls, the whole global warming scam is going to come tumbling down along with him, carbon taxes, Al Gore, and all.

As if the Sandusky case wasn't bad enough, this Mann controversy may irrecoverably destroy Penn State University for good. If the Penn State board members have half a brain, they should throw Mann under the bus now and get out while they can.

Jul 25, 2012 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterIke

Ike says- "If the Penn State board members have half a brain, they should throw Mann under the bus now and get out while they can."

They will wait until his current external grants are spent. I for one am keenly anticipating his new insights that teleconnect tree ring patterns and lake silt to the global spread of infectious tropical disease, and expert Paul Reiter's comments.

I predict it will be worse than I expect.

Jul 25, 2012 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

Why is Mann using a lawyer who has deep links with Big Tobacco and Oil Companies? The irony hurts.

Jul 25, 2012 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJon

The irony hurts.
Only when you laugh, Jon!

Jul 25, 2012 at 1:39 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

@ Mike Jackson

hahahaaaaa too right Mike! ;D

Jul 25, 2012 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterJon

Yeah, 'fraudulent' is I'm sure the word that sticks.

There's already a pretty clear body of publicly-available evidence that the hockey stick is based on cherry-picked data and shoddy statistical work.

The question is whether Mann's production and promotion of the stick is just sloppy science by a relatively young researcher, or whether it represents an actual intent to mislead.

Jul 25, 2012 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

When one gets an r-squared value of 0.02 one would hope to steal away quietly and hope that ones absence will not be noticed! Or perhaps get the attention of journalists whose utter porcine ignorence does not stop their stuff being published.

Jul 25, 2012 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterGordon Walker

With this, I've become an official fan of Mann.

You guys back off now. Mann is angry with those who have caused him emotional distress (by comparing him to Jerry Sandusky). He is lashing back at the denier cockroaches.

Back off you denier cockroaches. You think you can make fun of Mann? He's got loaded guns, and dice to use as analogies.

Jul 25, 2012 at 7:01 PM | Registered Commentershub

For me, Mann's fixation on defamatory statements is absolutely baffling, considering his own repetition of statements about the so-called 'big coal & oil corruption' of skeptic climate scientists.

See what Richard Lindszen said at the end of this article: "When Gelbspan published his piece, I checked into whether I should sue for libel, … I quickly discovered that it would cost more than I could afford." Seems skeptic scientists are NOT financed by big oil after all.

Who is Gelbspan? No less than essentially who Michael Mann cites when he says skeptic scientists are corrupt. At the 5 min 30 sec point of Mann's Dec 2011 TedX video he has a slide of both the Hoggan/Littlemore and Oreskes/Conway anti-skeptic books. As I pointed out in my piece last year, Hoggan and Oreskes rely on a single source for their accusation to say skeptic scientists are corrupt. That would be anti-skeptic book author Ross Gelbspan. Mann also says the following about Gelbspan, while doing a brief review of the Hoggan/Littlemore "Climate Cover-Up" book at an October 2009 RealClimate blog: "Ross Gelbspan who has set the standard for investigative reporting when it comes to the climate change denial campaign…"

Throw the name "Gelbspan" into a ClimateGate search window, and you’ll see how the results take you to Mann’s cc email address lists, and to a suggestion he made to Osborn, Briffa, Jones & Ray Bradley about sending material to sympathetic 'outlets'.

Problem is, as I describe in most of my online articles, including my most recent "Global Warming's Killer: Critical Thinking", Gelbspan's accusation is so full of holes, the widespread revelation of it risks putting the entire concept of man-caused global warming in jeopardy. You see, if there is no valid reason why the public should believe skeptic scientist are corrupt and untrustworthy, then they will wonder why more wasn't said about skeptic climate assessments over the last decade or two.

You'd think Michael Mann would want to keep the 'defamation thing' as quiet as possible, simply for his own self preservation.

Jul 25, 2012 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell C
Jul 25, 2012 at 7:59 PM | Registered Commentershub

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