Friday, March 17, 2017

Will the D.C. Court of Appeals rehear the Michael Mann defamation case? - The Washington Post


David in Cal said...

A commenter at WaPo nailed it IMHO: Mann & Co do not want a trial where he and his witnesses will be subject to long past due cross examination. Steyn wanted a trial since 2014. It is increasingly obvious Mann filed a SLAAP suit meant to intimidate climate heretics.

Unfortunately, the SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) suit succeeded. The defendants have been forced to pay millions of dollars of legal fees on a trumped up claim of libel. Mann will drop the suit before it goes to trial.

This case is more about freedom of speech than climate change. That's why Friends of the Court against Mann include the ACLU and many leading media organizations.

David Appell said...

David, how is is you know the inside strategy of Mann and his lawyer?

Where is the evidence this has costs the defendants "millions of dollars of legal fees?"

David in Cal said...

David I deduce Mann's strategy, because a trial would embarass him. The book "A Disgrace to the Profession" includes statements from numerous climate scientists blasting Mann. Having all these eminent scientists testify publicly to their statements would be dreadful publicity for Mann.

Also, I believe Mann's case extremely weak. To say that Jerry Sandusky's molestations were analagous to Mann torturing data isn't very nice, but that kind of insult against public figures is pretty normal. In fact, I seem to recall examples of Mann making comparably nasty statements.

Also, there are scientists who will testify that Mann did torture the data. Even if they're wrong, Steyn can show that there was a reasonable basis for believing that Mann tortured data. That reasonable belief wipes out the libel.

This link mentions an amount of legal fees in the millions:
For the “world leading climate scientist” the upside is that by giving ground to Ball Mann dodges the deadly bullet – for now. He has bought himself time till 2019 and his lawyers can continue to deny jurors (and Joe Public) access to his disputed data in this protracted legal battle that has already eaten up six years and millions in legal fees.

David Appell said...

David, so you're just speculating.

Mann's hockey stick has been confirmed by many groups by now, and in fact it's required by elementary physics:

(I confirmed this reasoning with Mann.) It would be far more surprising if the hockey stick WASN'T found in the data.

So I don't believe the scientists you didn't cite.


And don't insult us by quoting principa-scientific. They are the worst of climate deniers, who don't even accept the existence of a greenhouse effect. They are idiots only intent on destruction by any means.

And they didn't cite any evidence for their claim of "millions" either. It means nothing.

David Appell said...

Hockey sticks in the scientific literature. Over 40:

Toby said...

"Also, there are scientists who will testify that Mann did torture the data."

Yes, like Dr Curry, and there is plenty of evidence of her personal animosity to Mann on her website. There are very few others who do not take contributions from the fossil fuel industry. In any competition of eminence among witnesses, Mann will win hands down.

And, as David points out, they will will have to explain how Mann's paper "tortured" the data, but 39 other papers did not. And the court will have to balance the North report against the dubious science of the Wegman report.

This case is about "reckless disregard for the truth". Did the Daily Mail (a notorious climate change denying website, with David Rose as its most famous writer) show such reckless disregard by claiming Melania Trump once worked as a high-class escort? Her husband and his legal team seem to think so. Is that kind of insult against public figures "pretty normal"?

David in Cal said...

Potential witnesses against Mann could include the 100 or so scientists quoted in the book, "A Disgrace to the Profession". Some of those who might testify against Mann are Nobel Prize winners.

However, Toby, the Court doesn't have to balance the competing scientific claims. That's good, because a Court isn't qualified to do so. All Steyn needs to show that he had a reasonable basis for impugning Mann's research. Even if the 100 scientists who critize Mann's work are wrong, it's not libel for Steyn to write an article based on what they said.

P.S. the analogy to Melania fails, because the Daily Mail had no evidence to support their allegation. If 100 eminent people had told the Daily Mailthat they knew that Melania once worked as an escort then the Daily Mail would be safe from a charge of libel, even if these 100 people were wrong.

Toby said...

Amazing how "100 scientists" can be conjured out of thin air. Mann and his lawyers obviously have no fear of them. I suspect they are just the same miserable group of fossil-fuel funded Mann-hating publicists we have been used to.

You can claim that Steyn had a "reasonable" basis to impugn Mann's research. I do not think Mann will say in court he has a problem with reasonable criticism - for example, he can show he and his co-authors positively responded to the North Report, which incidentally supported the findings of Mann's paper.

The claim is that Steyn went far beyond the bounds of reasonable criticism with a reckless disregard for truth and balance that constitutes libel i.e. damage to Mann's livelihood. Direct comparison with pedophilia and torture seem to go beyond the bounds, IMHO. But let the court decide.

You are saying that the Daily Mail had a reckless disregard for truth about Mrs Trump in that they did not balance their claim or modify it by writing "People say ...." or "Reports suggest ...". Same goes for Steyn.

Toby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David in Cal said...

Toby -- the 100 scientist critics are real. You can see a sample for yourself. Amazon gives a free preview of the beginning of the book, A Disgrace to the Profession Go to the link for that book at

Click on "Look Inside" on the upper left. That will give you the first few pages of the book. Read the whole thing. You will see ten essays with specific criticisms of Mann's work, each written by an eminent scientist. One of the critics is a Noble Prize winner. And, that's just the first few pages of the book.


marcoclimate said...

Dear David in Cal,

I did what you recommended, and found that many of the quotes used by Steyn
1) do not refer at all to the hockeystick
2) do not call it fraudulent
3) include quotes obtained well after Steyn already made his comments
4) and the rest is primarily from people who have no expertise in this matter

In short: Steyn will be destroyed in court if he uses these quotes as support for his own statements. Clearly you cannot use quotes irrelevant to the hockeystick to support your claims about the hockeystick (there goes point 1). You cannot use quotes that do not call the hockeystick fraudulent as support either (there goes point 2). You cannot use quotes made well after your own as support (there goes point 3). That leaves the very, very weak point 4 and your deal Nobel prize winners, specifically Ivar Giaever. The latter may be a Nobel prize winner, but he also has zero expertise in the field. Were he used as a witness, he'll be skewered into a rambling idiot by Mann's questions (through his lawyer). I already can see the examples of the "Nobel disease" being mentioned in court...

Harry Twinotter said...

David in Cal.

You are using a book by Mark Steyn as evidence for your speculations...


Mark Steyn is a polemicist. He writes stories that pander to the prejudices of his audience. The way I look at it he is in the entertainment business.

I am looking forward to the trial. If Mark Steyn brings out polemics and theatrics to defend himself, it will be very entertaining.

David Appell said...

David in Cal said...
"You will see ten essays with specific criticisms of Mann's work, each written by an eminent scientist. One of the critics is a Noble Prize winner."

David, real scientists don't critique work by writing "essays" in a book written by a extreme denier.

They publish in the scientific literature. Have any of these 10, including the Nobel Laureate?

David Appell said...

“McIntyre and McKitrick 2005 (GRL, EE) did not make allegations of misconduct and fraud....”

- Steve McIntyre, 1/16/14,

David Appell said...

David in Cal wrote:
"Toby -- the 100 scientist critics are real."

I find it funny that deniers spent so much time denying a consensus or the 97% number, then give lists of 100 scientists or 31,000 signers of the Oregon Petition as evidence of something.

David in Cal said...

David -- Most scientists who see mistakes in published papers don't formally publish their critique. It's a lot of effort to publish a paper criticizing another scientist's work. My wife did publish a critique of work done by Dr. Paolo Zamboni on Multiple Sclerosis. She took the trouble to do so, because our niece suffers from the disease. Dr. Zamboni was promoting a very risky therapy. But, there's no academic reward for this sort of thing.

You yourself have seen deniers' papers that you believe are scientifically incorrect. I'd venture to guess that you've not taken the trouble to publish a formal critique of each of these papers. OTOH if you were asked to testify in a libel trial, you might be willing to go on the witness stand and point out the mistakes in these papers.

Marco - The case is not about whether global warming is valid nor whether the hockey stick is valid. It's not even about whether Mann's work was flawed. The case is about whether Steyn had a reasonable basis for claiming that Mann's work was flawed. As long as some of the scientists testify that Mann's work was flawed, Steyn will have demonstrated a a reasonable justification for his criticism.

I've had experience testifying in contested insurance hearings, where the hearing officer didn't have the expertise to judge the testimony. In a setting like that, you can't make an opposing witness look bad, because the hearing officer can't follow the technical argument.

David Appell said...

David wrote:
"Most scientists who see mistakes in published papers don't formally publish their critique."

How would you know?

I often see critiques about papers, and corrections to papers, and corrigendums. Like your wife's.

That's how science is done -- in the peer reviewed literature. Not in a crappy book. (I read the first four pages so far. It's wrong. Very, very unimpressive.)

And Ivar Giaever is way out of his league.

David Appell said...

David wrote:
"As long as some of the scientists testify that Mann's work was flawed, Steyn will have demonstrated a a reasonable justification for his criticism."

Oh please -- that's absurd.

Mann's lawyer will simply ask some scientific questions, suggested by Mann, to easily show that such scientists know nothing about Mann's work.

And he'll call some real experts -- who actually do temperature reconstructions -- to show what a real expert knows.

Ned said...

David in cal writes: "The case is about whether Steyn had a reasonable basis for claiming that Mann's work was flawed. "

Nope. It's about whether there was a reasonable basis for calling it "fraudulent."

You, as usual, are trying to move te goalposts.