[Thanks again to Mark Steyn for the linkage! Reading his description of how the Mighty Mann is now trying to get his own case dismissed, I realized that this isn’t ‘The Scopes Trial of the Twenty-First Century’. What it is, is the Lipstadt Trial of the twenty-first century. You may recall – David Irving sued Deborah Lipstadt for calling him a fraud, and worse. He lost that case spectacularly, and what was left of his reputation was shredded beyond any hope of recall. Sound familiar?]
Some radio silence due to a new job and a number of projects coming down the pipeline.
Whenever I think that Michael Mann can’t sink any lower, he manages to do so. I was reading the following on Mark Steyn’s website where the Mann and his lawyers claim that he is being wrongly associated with a hockey stick published in the IPCC report that is just an ‘overly simplified and artistic’ depiction of the stick. I.e. made up.
That’s funny. I thought that the IPCC was the gold standard and we were supposed to take everything in it seriously. Makes one wonder what else is ‘overly simplified and artistic’.
But once again, Mann’s lying. His name is on the list of authors for that particular stick, and, more importantly, please go and compare that stick with this one:
This is the original hockey stick graph which made Mann’s name. You know what’s interesting? This shows a temperature increase from the late 1800s to 2000 of about 0.8, 0.9 degrees. The one Mann is now trying to frantically distance himself from shows an increase of 0.5 degrees. 0.6 At the most.
I’m keep reposting these, because they matter. Here’s the hockey stick graph that Mann was hawking when he was trying to get people to do what he wants (i.e. in another part of the IPCC):
And here’s the one that Mann produces when he has to work with competent scientists who can check his work:
You get the picture?
Now to the bit that makes me really quite angry.
For thou hast made him a little lower than the jackasses, and crowned him with vainglory
It’s this post by Aaron Huertas. Oh, I’m not angry at Mr Huertas. I mean, I disagree with him when he says:
What’s missing, of course, from all their briefs, are legitimate scientific citations rejecting or refuting Dr. Mann’s work. That’s because those don’t exist.
Oh really? What’s all this then?
The claim that Mann’s work has been repeatedly replicated is simply not true. His work pitches the damn graph up into the stratosphere, above and beyond what other scientists think is kosher. Oh, don’t take it from me. Take it from Dr John Christy, leading author of the IPCC and pioneer of the satellite temperature record.
I also have to sigh a little when I see this graph again:
Firstly, this looks a leedle different to Mann’s standard image, as it always does when competent people force him to toe the line. Second, take a careful look at that sudden blade at the end, where everything goes up. It’s composed of two, that is, exactly two lines. And whaddaya know, they are instrumental records, not proxy ones.
But that doesn’t upset me. This is all good, knockabout stuff – the meat of serious scientific discussion and debate.
What upsets me is when Mr Huertas starts writing like this:
Scientists take fraud and retractions very seriously […] Unlike Dr. Mann’s detractors, I’m not so convinced of my own righteousness that I claim to have expertise on topics that are well outside my wheelhouse. I’m just a guy who loves science and appreciates everything scientists do to inform us about our world.
I get upset because I know exactly where he’s coming from. I would have written like this not that long ago. I still get into raging argument where I say it is outrageous to casually attack the scientific integrity of climatologists…. other than Mann.
Because Mann’s conduct has been an utter and complete disgrace. He’s lied about being a Nobel laureate, he’s lied about being multiply exonerated, he’s lied about other scientists, and tried to bully and smear and intimidate anyone who refuses to defer to him.
And the only reason he gets away with this is because of the respect that good people, like Mr Huertas, rightly and properly have for science and the scientific method. Science is hard, tough, poorly paid, and often thankless work. It’s also the thing that actually advances our species from the savannah to the skyscraper. It’s quite right and proper to have a healthy respect for this.
And Mann’s abusing it. He is trying to cash in on that respect for his own ends.
Slate Star Codex has a term for the stunts he and his acolytes pull: getting Eulered. It refers to making a reference to something so abstruse and specialized that it’s hard for just about any layperson to answer. The term comes from an argument between Diderot and Euler about the existence of God.
Euler said, in a tone of absolute conviction: “Monsieur, (a+b^n)/n = x, therefore, God exists! What is your response to that?” and Diderot, “for whom algebra was like Chinese”, had no response. Thus was he publicly humiliated, all the Russian Christians got an excuse to believe what they had wanted to believe anyway, and Diderot left in a huff.
This is transparent poppycock, naturally. You see the method used. You make a reference to something that your opponent is highly unlikely to know about, and refuse to explain it, and then smirk triumphantly when he can’t come up with a response. One of the worst offenders of this kind of thing is the Mannling David Appel. His modus operandi is to yell at laypeople “What about all the independent replications? What about PAGES 2K?” and to smirk triumphantly when the layman who doesn’t have access to all the journals in which this is discussed, since access costs thousands of dollar cannot come up with an answer.
Oddly enough, he doesn’t seem too keen on tangling with me anymore, ever since he realized that I do in fact have access to those journals and can see that his line is even more transparrent poppycock.
The Wisdom of Crowds and the foolishness of the Eggheads
There’s a certain strand of exasperation at conservative anti-intellectualism that seems superficially plausible. “Come on,” it runs, “you don’t have decades of experience in that subject, you don’t have a PhD in the relevant field, why can’t you just leave it to the experts, to the smart set? Astronomers don’t tell plumbers how to run their work.”
Sound superficially plausible, right? Except for one thing, which is the kinds of ideas the smart set have been known to defend.
In the late nineteenth century, all the Smart Set just knew that Eugenics was vitally necessary.
Then the Smart Set just knew that democracy and capitalism were over, and a centralized, collectivized economy was the way forward.
Then the Smart Set just knew that overpopulation was going to destroy the world and it was essential to cut off all food aid to the poorest parts of the world, and curb the birth rates of all those, y’know, brown people.
Then the Smart Set just knew that GM foods were wicked and needed to be stopped
Then the Smart Set just knew that climate change was so serious that the ‘temporary’ suspension of democracy was necessary…
People have an incredibly well founded fear of intellectuals run amok. The record of just delegating things to the Smart Set and letting them run and organize society is horrific beyond words. In the same way that you don’t need to be a biologist to smell danger when someone says “Black Africans have a higher proportion of short form MAO-A, therefore they will always be more violent and crime ridden”, you don’t need to be a trained climatologist to smell danger when someone says “Anthropogenic greenhouse gasses are warming the planet, so we need to ramp up taxes, institute a command-and-control economy, stop industrial development in the developing world, and, y’know, just maybe, suspend democracy and jail people who object”. People can sense a threat and they will fight back with everything to hand.
Notice was all of the previous example have in common? They are all about power. About using government power to coerce people. It is not at all like saying “The nuclear engineers know what they are talking about when it comes to this new reactor, so let them get on with it” or “Biologists know what they are talking about when they investigate evolution, so let them get on with it.” If Greens were simply raising money to support research into clean energy and carbon capture and the rest of it, there would be no problem and no objections. If they were to simply try to fix the problem, instead of trying to bully the rest of the world, if they were donating 100 million to solar panel research rather than pissing it down the drain of elections and ‘awareness raising’, then there would be no problem whatsoever.
I’ve seen even hardened denialists come around to this position. I’ll say things like ‘I don’t want all these big government programs; what I’m saying is we could switch over to nuclear power, and maybe ask the rich and famous to donate to some good R & D projects, and so we could all get cheap energy and clean things up. Plus, we end our dependence on oil, we drain away the funds supporting the jihadis”. You’d be amazed how quickly people come around to that point of view.
After Mann, whither Climate?
I hope that Mann loses not just his case, but also Steyn’s counter-sue. I hope he’s taken for the whole $20 million. Further, I think that’s a real possibility.
There’s a question that should concern all of us who realize that rising greenhouse gas levels could be really bad in the future. The question is: what then? There are many good, serious scientists who have shown that man-made global warming is real, and they do not deserve to be tarred with the same brush as Mann. Yes, they should have spoken out earlier – but I imagine, like most of my ivory towered brethren, they prefer to get one with real work rather than political mudwrestling. They are good people, good scientists, and do deserve that respect.
But if and when Mann does go down in flames, what will be the state of climate science in the public eye?
I do think that if anything will be done on this issue, it’ll only be possible through private subscription and individual hard word. The farce of ‘big government climate solutions’ has to come to an end.