Many SteynOnline regulars enjoyed yesterday's BBC Newshour debate between Judith Curry and Bob Ward on Mann vs Steyn and whether it's irresponsible to permit freedom of expression on something as planet-devastating as "climate change". My report of the show erroneously described this Bob Ward chap as a climate professor. But Richard Tol (who is an actual professor and also an IPCC author who called out Michael E Mann for being "not entirely truthful in a court case") Tweeted that Ward is merely "a PR guy".
In fairness to me, I made the mistake of taking the BBC's word for it:
Judith Curry appeared on the BBC World Service last night (podcast here, from 19:45). Of course, the corporation's new policy on who is allowed to appear opposite scientists only applies to when the scientist is not criticical of alarmist positions, so they could have picked anyone they want to face off with Judy. In the event they went for Bob Ward but, interestingly, and perhaps keen to lend an air of authority to a mere public relations man, they decided to describe him as a "climate scientist".
So Ward was in the curious position of making an appeal to authority - yes, climate debate should be permitted, but only between fully credentialed experts - without appealing from authority. That wasn't his oddest claim, either. Reader Ian Salathiel writes:
I listened to the BBC World Service discussion on restricting the debate on climate change to the experts only and was struck by the following observation. Mr. Ward accused you of deliberately misleading the public. I think that is essentially what you accused Dr. Mann of doing and for which claim Dr. Mann is suing you, with Mr. Ward's enthusiastic support.
Mr. Ward tossed this off very flippantly, but does he not realize that he is by definition guilty of the same offence? And for that offence he could, presumably, be brought to trial and asked to prove his claim that your intention was to deliberately mislead, or else pay the costs for damaging your reputation as a columnist.
How could he be so un-self-aware? How could he take his own freedom of speech so much for granted while attacking yours?
Well, thanks for the tip. Bob Ward lives in London, and, as he helpfully pointed out on the show, it's a lot easier to sue in the English courts.
Other than that, the show worked out well for the PR flack:
Yesterday the BBC World Service described Bob Ward as a climate scientist.
Then Andrea Sella described him as a professor.
Today, Spiegel Magazine says he's an IPCC author.
Judith, you opined a while back that Mann had chosen the wrong guy in Mark Steyn. Prophetic words I do believe. Steyn's brilliant, principled, and likeable. Mann's polar opposite in many important ways. He also has a feeling for the moment, and for what's at stake in a larger sense.
I'm guessing his new attorneys are discounting their usual fees. I was thinkingâ€¦and hopingâ€¦that someone of their caliber would eventually come along and offer their services. Whatever Steyn's getting in contributions, I don't think it would be enough to pay these guys their going rateâ€¦
Oh, you'd be surprised how much legal time a Mann vs Steyn commemorative mug can buy. I'm not sure about that "brilliant, principled, and likeable" thing, but on the broader point Judith Curry did try to warn Michael Mann a year and a half ago:
Mark Steyn is formidable opponent. I suspect that this is not going to turn out well for you.
No, it's not.