This is going to be the first part in a series of posts about Michael Mann – he of the “hockey stick” graph – and his lawsuit against, amongst others, National Review’s Mark Steyn and the Competitive Institute’s Rand Simberg. This is about two posts. Simberg said that Mann could be compared to multiple child rapist Jerry Sandusky (from the same University), in that “except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science that could have dire economic consequences for the nation and planet.” Steyn followed it up with a slightly less damning comment: “”If an institution is prepared to cover up systemic statutory rape of minors, what won’t it cover up? Whether or not he’s ‘the Jerry Sandusky of climate change,’ he remains the Michael Mann of climate change, in part because his ‘investigation’ by a deeply corrupt administration was a joke.”
At the outset I should say that I think global warming is real, manmade, and a problem. I also hate, hate seeing accusations of scientific dishonesty made lightly.
That said, with this little tantrum, Mann has arranged humiliation for himself and a public discredit to climate science, at a time when public understanding of the same is not what it might be.
I will go into this more deeply later, but for now, I will focus on this line from the court complaint (which you may read here):
It is one thing to engage in discussion about debatable topics. It is quite another to discredit consistently validated scientific research through the professional and personal defamation of a Nobel prize recipient.
There are three problems with this line.
1. Being a Nobel prize recipient does not make you immune to even the harshest and the nastiest comments. Mann might care to remember the fate of James Watson – a far greater scientist than Mann will ever be – when he made some unfortunate comments about the genetic basis of IQ. (For the record, I regard the intellectual pogrom against Watson as a disgrace; yes, the old boy may have a few funny ideas, but his contribution to humanity is almost without equal).
2. The phrase “Nobel prize recipient” is quite deceitful. Most people when they hear “Nobel Prize winner” are quite impressed, for good reason. This is the pantheon of Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg etc. However, this line refers to the Nobel peace prize, and the peace prize is a joke, and a sick joke at that. This prize goes to people who have done nothing, like Gore and Obama, and utter crooks like Arafat and Kissinger. If Mann was as important as he thinks himself to be, that prize would be in a real subject, like physics.
3. The final and most important problem with Mann’s comment is that it’s a lie. He is not a Nobel prize winner. He was never awarded the peace prize. So saith the Nobel prize committee. He received a “certificate of recognition” when the IPCC, a group of 2000 people, was awarded this mickey-mouse badge, and that certificate comes from the IPCC, not from the Nobel committee. To say you have been awarded the Nobel prize when you have not, is not a difference of opinion, it is not a misunderstanding, it is a naked lie.
It’s also a very weird lie. I can understand pretending that you’ve received a real honour, but this is pretending to receive a piece of worthless junk. I’m still trying to find out whom I need to call to get the EU to send the damn thing back.
Mark the effect. In a legal complaint alleging defamation, Mann has lied. He complains that his reputation is being attacked, and has provided evidence that that reputation is at least partly fraudulent. If he doesn’t get that his case is now dead then he’s deluded. Because now the charge of fraud is accurate.
According to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, claiming to have a qualification that you don’t, is fraud, plain and simple:
when researchers lie about their credentials, such conduct constitutes scientific misconduct.
Penn State, where Mann works, has something similar to say.
So this whole fiasco is working out to be another Dimmock case. To state the facts simply, in his insufferable film, Al Gore decided that the scientific consensus was not sexy enough. For example, having a sea level rise of one to two feet over a hundred years isn’t sexy, twenty feet was a bit more so. This plus other eight inaccuracies listed in the court record have made this case something of a cause celebre in the denialist circles; Mann’s case will end up the same. People will always remember his fakery, and this will make it harder than ever to discuss climate science rationally.
So, well done Michael Mann. Thank you very much. This is exactly what we need right now. I’ll close with a personal anecdote. Before all this came to light, I was on Mann’s facebook page, and tried to warn him that he might be surprised to see how fierce Steyn can fight in the legal arena; this is not a man given to backing down easily, I said. I was promptly banned and blocked. I have heard plenty of similar stories from others. If Mann could ever be bothered to listen to others, he might not be poised to deal climate science its biggest PR defeat in years.
Now, granted, being an arrogant, close-minded cock absolutely does not mean Mann is a bad scientist. Stay tuned for my views on his science…
[UPDATE] Welcome, all Mark Steyn readers! Please feel free to pull up a chair, and please stick around. I think you might be surprised at what someone who is ” a believer in anthropogenic global warming” can add to this. Thanks to Steyn for the hat-tip, but I’m not on “on the same side as Dr Mann in the climate-change argument”; I’m on a side that doesn’t get anywhere near as much attention as it should. Stay tuned…