Today Anthony Watts is promoting Mark Steyn's last ditch attempt to discredit one of the world's leading climate scientists. Professor Michael Mann is Distinguished Professor of Meteorology and Director, Earth System Science Center at Penn State University. Mark Steyn is an ex-smut columnist turned smut blogger, who arguably viciously defamed Professor Michael Mann (any others?) and is now being sued by Professor Mann. Anthony Watts is a blogger who promotes climate conspiracy theories of the ugly kind, and falsely accuses scientists of fraud and more.
Note: I've added an addendum about the contents of the book below. [Sou 7:52 pm 13 August 2015]
The Hockey Stick
In 1998 a paper by Professors Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes was published in Nature - hereafter called MBH98. The paper had the title: "Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries". In that paper was a figure that was to become a symbol of global warming, even getting a name - the hockey stick. Below is Figure 5b, the Hockey Stick, from MBH98:
This was one of the early attempts to reconstruct temperatures of the recent past at the global level. The above chart was only for the northern hemisphere. The chart below shows the distribution of the annually resolved data used by the scientists. It included dendroclimatic, ice core/ice melt and coral proxies:
This work was rightly seen as important because it helped to put what is happening now in the context of past climate. (Google Scholar shows MBH98 has been cited 1,804 times.) While it wasn't the first reconstruction of past temperatures, it was arguably the first very detailed global temperature reconstruction of the recent past. Since then there have been many more studies by these researchers and others, building on many more proxy indicators of surface temperature around the world, which extended and refined this work. Below is a compilation of reconstructions from the latest IPCC report, AR5, which shows hemispheric and global surface temperature reconstructions going back over the past 2,000 years. While the reconstructions have been refined since 1998, they still show a similar hockey stick shape to that early paper from seventeen years ago, MBH98. Click to enlarge as always:
|Figure 5.7: Reconstructed (a) Northern Hemisphere and (b) Southern Hemisphere, and (c) global annual temperatures during the last 2000 years. Individual reconstructions (see Appendix 5.A.1 for further information about each one) are shown as indicated in the legends, grouped by colour according to their spatial representation (red: land-only all latitudes; orange: land-only extra-tropical latitudes; light blue: land and sea extra-tropical latitudes; dark blue: land and sea all latitudes) and instrumental temperatures shown in black (HadCRUT4 land and sea, and CRUTEM4 land-only; Morice et al., 2012). All series represent anomalies (°C) from the 1881–1980 mean (horizontal dashed line) and have been smoothed with a filter that reduces variations on timescales less than ~50 years. Source: IPCC|
The first hockey stick was, probably correctly, viewed in some quarters as a real threat to the anti-science, anti-mitigation movement. These are immoral people. People who want the world to continue with unfettered burning of fossil fuels, endangering society. People who are willing to sacrifice the well-being of their fellow human beings, their children and their grandchildren and all future generations. Their motives were various - some did it for ideological reasons. Anthony Watts did it because he didn't want to pay tax. Others dispute climate science arguably because that's what they are employed to do. There are dedicated denier organisations who pay people (and get freebies from more) to cast doubt on established science that they see as contrary to their aims. The backers of deniers probably also have mixed motives - pure profit for fossil fuel companies and ideology for others (rampant capitalism/libertarian anarchy gone wild). For some it seemed to be more personal - perhaps professional jealousy mixed with ideology.
A two-fold immoral tactic: reject science and falsely defame scientists
The tactic is two-fold. One tactic has been to try to disprove the science. MBH98 and subsequent papers on temperature reconstructions were endlessly scrutinised, pulled apart and every tiny calculation was nitpicked. If a flaw or error was discovered it was magnified out of all proportion. The authors themselves did a lot more work. They published minor corrections and published uncertainties. They examined many more proxies from many more locations around the world.
The papers from these and other scientists kept coming. The efforts of deniers to find fault were swamped and obliterated by science itself. All the following research showed the same big picture. In recent years global surface temperature has been rising faster than at any time in the past two thousand years. As reconstructions went back further in time, it became more and more obvious that global surface temperatures are approaching or exceeding those of any time since civilisation began, more than 10,000 years ago.
The other part of the tactic is much simpler and rewarding. It has been to demonise the scientists themselves. Rather than diffuse the effort, deniers tend to focus on just a handful of scientists, one by one. In particular the lead author of MBH98, Professor Michael Mann. Michael Mann calls this the Serengeti Strategy. Now that it's been named and recognised, it has lost some of its power.
Everyone from conspiracy bloggers to contrarian scientists piled on smear attacks. Professor Mann has documented some of these efforts in a book:
Similar tactics had been used on other climate scientists in the past, such as Dr Ben Santer and Dr James Hansen and many others. There were a couple of years when the focus shifted to smearing Professor Phil Jones, following the theft of emails from his university. As bad as all those smear campaigns were, it's arguable that there has not been such a long-lived, sustained and concerted attack on any single climate scientist as there has been against Professor Michael Mann.
People rally to thwart the evil attacks
Climate scientists rallied with concerned citizens. People who recognise the dangers of climate change. People who recognise the evil behind the attacks on science and scientists. A fund was established to help scientists defend themselves against defamation and attacks on their integrity: The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. At least one lawsuit has been successful. Dr Andrew Weaver sued the National Post and Financial Post and won: in a "serious case of defamation". Blogger Anthony Watts, who until that time had been posting smear articles frequently, laid low for a bit.
Professor Michael Mann is no pussy cat. The attacks did not have the desired effect of getting him to quit his science. (Deniers sometimes count on the fact that scientists are professionals from prestigious universities and research institutes. Unlike deniers, they tend not to engage in gutter warfare. Deniers thought they had free rein to make up lies about scientists and misrepresent their work.) The incessant attacks on prominent scientists have probably stopped some scientists from speaking out. Some of them even extend olive branches to their defamers. However many other people have rallied, despite the personal cost to them and their families. Professor Mann did not set out to become a hero of climate science. It was deniers and defamers who forced him into that role. And he has become a star.
When he was compared with a child molester, and accused of fraud, Professor Mann sued. The case is against The National Review, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI is a libertarian lobby group), Rand Simberg of CEI, and Mark Steyn an author formerly from the National Review (last published December 2013). The case is at an appeal stage, and will probably take a while to make its way through the courts, so the personal cost to Professor Mann is great. He is undeterred. He knows that he is not just standing up for himself, he has become a symbol of climate scientists and science everywhere. A true hero.
Anthony Watts' smear campaign resurrected
The reason I'm writing this article now is, you guessed it, denier blogger Anthony Watts is touting a vanity-published book by Mark Steyn (archived here). Mark Steyn is one of the villains. Unlike the other defendents, Mark Steyn seems intent on adding to his own destruction. He is undoubtedly adding ammunition for Michael Mann's lawyers to fire. Even the title of his book shrieks of unfettered malice toward Professor Mann and could be viewed as explicitly libelous: "A Disgrace to the Profession: the world's scientists in their own words on Michael Mann, his hockey stick, and their damage to science." Here is a quote from Mark Steyn's latest article on the subject (archived here):
This first volume in the series looks at Mann, the hockey stick's dramatic rise, its trashing of history, mishandling of data and risible statistical processes, and the bigger issues that arose in its wake: the politicization and then corruption of science, and the thuggish retaliation meted out to scientists brave enough to question it. But I wanted to be fair to Mann, so at the end I do find a couple of people willing to put in a good word for him, even if one of them is former IPCC honcho and disgraced sex fiend Dr Rajendra Pantsdowni.
It does look as if Mark Steyn is thumbing his nose at the court, though he is more circumspect than he was in his article that prompted the defamation suit.
Anthony Watts himself was also careful not to write anything that would be likely to get him sued. He stuck to promoting the book and posting quotes from the book itself. He has been pretty careful in recent months, more cautious than he used to be. He probably doesn't want to lose his house or worse.
As shown above, there are now dozens of hockey sticks from multiple scientists. There are numerous independent studies, using a lot of different types of temperature proxies (indicators of temperature), from many scientists. Yet Mark Steyn and his immoral supporters are focused on defaming just one of these scientists - Professor Michael Mann. Greg Laden has already demolished the "selling point" quotes that Mark Steyn put forward. If they are any guide then the book is an example of quote-mining climate scientists, quotes from other defamers and deniers, and a blatant attempt to further defame one of the world's leading climate scientists.
What would be great would be to see some of the other defamers sued. Now that Josh has involved himself formally, will he also be sued? Anthony Watts has highlighted a section in Mark Steyn's book where he quotes Judith Curry - who appears to have a personal grudge against Professor Mann. Is she happy to open up the possibility of her being sued? She is a supporter of Mark Steyn so probably yes. I doubt she'd get the support of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. She'd be on her own. (She might get lucky, like Anthony Watts - in that lawyers might advise against suing someone of little means.)
Michael Mann on Michael Mann and his work
Below is a video from Denial101 MOOC, in which Michael Mann talks about his work and more. It's a rare chance to see a long interview with a leading climate scientist, talking about the science, and what is wrong with denier arguments:
Help scientists stand up against attacks from deniers
If you haven't already, and even if you have - how about a donation to the Climate Science Defense Fund.
Addendum - what does the book contain?
In the comments, Jack Savage asked if anyone had bothered to read Mark Steyn's "book" yet. This is my reply, with a couple of minor edits. If the following is anything to go by, most of the quotes are probably unrelated to the Michael Mann and his work, and most of them are probably from deniers:
Jack, I don't know for sure if anyone's bothered to read it, although I expect Michael Mann's lawyers will do so. Some people at WUWT claim to have been reading it, but haven't said much about the contents.
Anthony claimed to have spent a day with it, but didn't have anything to show for it except a couple of images. So I can't say whether he got to read it or whether he just took a couple of snapshots then spent the rest of the day walking around gripping it tightly to his heart.
Of the quotes Anthony posted in his article:
One was from an article by denier/lobbyist James Taylor on the website of the denier lobby group, the Heartland Institute, in which he attributed a quote about Professor Jones (not Michael Mann) to William Sprigg. The quote was based on a misunderstanding of an email snippet from the emails stolen from CRU.
Another was from a known climate science denier, Petr Chylek, which he probably got from the website of another denier lobby group, the GWPF. That quote had nothing to do with Michael Mann either. The article was about the stolen emails.
Another was from another known science denier, Vincent Courtillot. It had the word "Mann" in it, but I couldn't find the quote using Google, so I don't know where it came from.
There was some stuff from Judith Curry, who seems to have been harbouring a personal grudge against Michael Mann (since at least 2010) - for unknown reasons.
If you want more, without having to fork out any money, there's a link to an article by Greg Laden in the "further reading" section, where he checked out some quotes as well, and found them wanting.
I can't imagine there is anything in it that would damage Michael Mann, but I do expect it will have a lot of material that will damage Mark Steyn.
From the WUWT comments
The comments are much as you'd expect, though the mods took their eye off the ball and let one or two comments from more rational people through.
starzmom points out the likely motivation for the book, with no regard by Mark Steyn for the fact that its publication will probably help prove the case against him.
August 11, 2015 at 1:35 pm
Buying the book will help Mark pay his large and growing legal bills, too.
Bob Diaz indulges in conspiracist ideation, wrongly imagining that Professor Mann must have something to hide. This is the "something must be wrong" and possible "nefarious intent" criteria for conspiracist thinking, described in Recurrent Fury:
August 11, 2015 at 3:34 pm
This raises an interesting problem, Michael Mann can sue, BUT doing so means that he can be forced to testify under oath. In a civil case, you can be forced to testify. This could bring up some rather embarrassing things he has to answer.
PiperPaul echoes Bob's overly vivid imagination:
August 11, 2015 at 4:00 pm
I think that’s what everyone’s waiting for!
Tony Rohl is a denier of the nasty kind, wishing ill on one of the world's leading climate scientists:
August 11, 2015 at 1:39 pm
I hope Steyn bankrupts the mighty Mann
It's interesting to see deniers in their true colours. Tony Brown aka climatereason is another nasty denier, who wants to spread Mark Steyn's smear to politicians and non-government organisations. He usually likes to pretend he's a nice bloke. One of the decent deniers who is just after facts. He's clearly not. He's a lover of false gossip of the worst kind - a spreader of lying muck:
August 11, 2015 at 2:23 pm
It would be useful to reissue the cartoons with relevant quotes as postcards that could be sent to MP’s, Senators, NGO’s etc.
This is how smear attacks work. Pile lie upon lie. jim wrongly claims that science and scientists are silent. They aren't. jim is promoting a version of the Serengeti Strategy, where deniers want to isolate one scientist from the many. It doesn't work so well these days. Scientists defend their own now. Heck, this was one of the main motivations behind the establishment of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund.
August 11, 2015 at 3:04 pm
Even worse, the silence of the whole climate community puts the whole community in the position of supporting Man’s fraud by their silence. That silence shows that the entire climate alarm research industry if thoroughly corrupt.
cnxtim is one of the stalwarts of Anthony Watts' lynch mob.
August 11, 2015 at 3:51 pm
I don’t need a book to see how corrupt this fellow is.
It is quite wrong to allow Mann and the rest of the CAGW brigade to be described as belonging to a profession.
Given they ignore the accepted scientific method and language, they have no place in the company of scientists who do adhere, OR doctors who ignore their Hippocratic Oath, Lawyers, who defraud or engineers who scam with phoney designs or work.
The entire ratbag army and the politicians and journalists who support and promote them should “tarred and feathered” then run out of town…
PaulH quotes from Mark Steyn's blog. If it's all like this he won't just be adding to the swag of evidence collated by Michael Mann's lawyers, he's also setting out to make himself an enemy of the court and the entire US judicial system, calling it a "septic tank". Perhaps Mark Steyn is wanting to lose - I don't know what he could hope to achieve by seeking to lose his case.
August 11, 2015 at 1:48 pm
Mark Steyn’s blog posting about his book:
https://archive.is/7wzRa [replaced direct link with archived verson - Sou]
“A guy can’t sit around waiting for litigious fake Nobel Laureates to agree to discovery and deposition. So, with the Mann vs Steyn Trial of the Century currently stalled in the choked septic tank of the DC court system, I figured I might as well put some of the mountain of case research clogging up the office into a brand new book – all about the most famous “science” graph of the 21st century and the man who invented it.”
It’s on my reading list. :-)
warrenlb got a lot of flack from WUWT readers for this comment. He was accused of being Russell Seitz - I'd say that's wrong. His writing style is very different. (See Greg Laden's unmasking of the quotes Warren mentioned.)
August 11, 2015 at 1:59 pm
Steyn chose three quotes as promo material to represent the book’s contents. One of the scientists has recently co-authored a paper confirming Mann’s hockey stick graph, and notes that his quote only appears damning because it lacks all context. A second has worked on a major paper that also confirmed Mann’s hockey stick graph, and has stated that the attacks on Mann “have no justification.” The third quote is from a physicist who doesn’t work on climate change, so he can’t accurately be described as one of Mann’s scientific peers.
For all his quote mining, it seems like the best Steyn could do when it came to finding criticisms from Mann’s peers is write up two quotes from scientists who agree with Mann’s findings and one from someone who’s not a climate scientist at all. Looks like Steyn’s efforts here fall as flat as the handle on Mann’s hockey stick.
fobdangerclose is one sick little puppy:
August 11, 2015 at 2:16 pm
Mark Steyn is not just up against Mike Mann and his Climate Change/Global Warming/CO2 kills lie, he is up against the whole of the Media/Tax and Spend Two Party Evil Money Cult in Washington D.C..
All of it lie based, thus they can not allow any of the foundation of their lies to fail or the whole of all the walls will come tumbling down.
Adam from Kansas is pretty disgusted. (Where are the WUWT mods? Oh, that's right - Smokey/dbstealey has been dropped.) Again, the comment was attacked by the regular lynch mob.
August 11, 2015 at 2:36 pm
Seriously, an entire book devoted to attacking a person, does civility in science exist anymore?
Would the people on this blog sing the same tune if such a book was about a skeptic? This blog was better back in 2008 when there was a lot of general science discussion on the proper measurement of temperatures and the how the climate really worked.
Dahlquist's mind is so perversely twisted, he thinks that a scientist standing up to defamatory attacks is somehow "destroying careers".
August 11, 2015 at 3:13 pm
When Mr. Mann destroys peoples careers and urges government wasting of taxpayers dollars, etc, etc…It is a well deserved counter attack and a peek at the truth.
wickedwenchfan reckons that the next book is going to "out" all the lukewarmers as well! Presumably Anthony Watts too. wickedwenchfan is a greenhouse effect denier, in case you missed it.
August 11, 2015 at 3:24 pm
Sooner or later a second book is going to come out and it’s going to include you Mr Watts and Judith Curry and all the other Luke Warmers as well as the alarmists who doggedly hold to the notion that there is a “Greenhouse Effect”. Michael Mann has got what’s coming to him, but I advise you not to be so smug about it as the total extent of scientific incompetence is yet to be revealed.
Wayne Delbeke is spreading the love:
August 11, 2015 at 5:19 pm
I am buying one for our Alberta Premier and one for our Alberta Environment Minister aka Minister of “Climate Change” aka Minister of Truth. (and one for me.)
Lemon thinks that "vexacious" (sic) litigation laws can be used by defamers to protect their right to tell whatever lies they want about anyone they want. They are wrong:
August 11, 2015 at 6:55 pm
Doesnt the USA have the category of “vexacious litigator” to protect again such as Mann?
References and further reading
Mann, Michael E., Raymond S. Bradley, and Malcolm K. Hughes. "Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries." Nature 392, no. 6678 (1998): 779-787. doi:10.1038/33859 (pdf here - and corrigendum here)
Mann, M.E., Bradley, R.S. and Hughes, M.K., "Northern Hemisphere Temperatures During the Past Millennium: Inferences, Uncertainties, and Limitations", Geophysical Research Letters, 26, 759-762, 1999. DOI: 10.1029/1999GL900070 (open access)
Mann, Michael E., Zhihua Zhang, Malcolm K. Hughes, Raymond S. Bradley, Sonya K. Miller, Scott Rutherford, and Fenbiao Ni. "Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105, no. 36 (2008): 13252-13257. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0805721105 (open access)
List of publications by Professor Michael Mann
Complaint by Professor Michael Mann with exhibits (October 2012)
Serengeti Strategy - described by Gillian King on Thisness of a that
Mark Steyn’s Newest Attack On Michael Mann And The Hockey Stick - by Greg Laden
Why This Climate Scientist’s Libel Case Matters - Article about the lawsuit by the Union of Concerned Scientists
Myth vs. Fact Regarding the "Hockey Stick" - 2004 article by Michael Mann at RealClimate.org
Close Encounters of the Absurd Kind - 2010 article by Ben Santer at realclimate.org, about the nasty and false vilification he has endured from science attackers
Swift Boating, Stealth Budgeting, Unitary Executives - a 2006 article by James Hansen on attacks on himself and climate science
Debunking Misinformation About Stolen Climate Emails in the "Climategate" Manufactured Controversy - from the Union of Concerned Scientists