Re the upcoming trial of the century, Tom Dilatush writes at his blog:
A friend from Estonia wrote me the other day, asking how I would react if Mark Steyn were somehow to lose his lawsuit with Michael Mann. My correspondent is a fervent anthropogenic global warming believer, so he fully expects this outcome. Here's what my reaction would be: I would lose what little faith remains in me about our American system of justice. That reaction has absolutely nothing to do with whether Steyn's position is just, and everything to do with free speech – because in the end, that's what this lawsuit is about: whether Mark Steyn (or anyone else) can stand up and speak his or her mind. Forget the climatology-related merits of each side on this case; they are irrelevant. What's really on trial is good old-fashioned American-style free speech...
David Appell, "science journalist" and Billy Joel stoner, is also contemplating my court loss, in an odd post strangely obsessed with porcine fornication - not something I've yet accused Dr Mann of, but thanks for the tip. Meanwhile, Charles P Pierce of Esquire thinks I'm "pricing steam-grates along Yonge Street in Toronto for possible future housing".
Just for the record, I'm not planning on losing. I agree with Mr Dilatush: the issue is free speech. Up north, when the Canadian Islamic Congress went to Canada's "human rights" commissions to criminalize my writing, Ken Whyte of Maclean's, our counsel Julian Porter, QC, and I took the decision very early on that we would not present a defense, or even a defence. Our position was that the Canadian Islamic Congress had not disputed a single fact in my book excerpt, and thus there was no case to answer and we had the right to say what we said. So we introduced no evidence at trial in Vancouver. The Canadian Islamic Congress made their lousy case, and then we went to closing statements. We won.
I'd be within my rights doing the same thing here. As Mr Dilatush says, this is a free speech case, and it is for Mann to demonstrate that I don't have the right to call his hockey stick "fraudulent". He can't do that, so I'd win. But it's always fun in a legal battle to have something bigger at stake than a mere victory. In Canada, we put the "human rights" system itself on trial, to the point where the disgusting and indefensible "hate speech" law Section 13 was eventually repealed by Parliament. It seems to me that in this particular case the bigger issue is the climate of fear that Mann and his fellow ayatollahs of alarmism have succeeded in imposing on an important scientific field. So we're preparing a full vigorous defense in which an array of witnesses will testify to the fraud necessary to create the hockey stick as global climate icon. This is an expensive and time-consuming proposition, but I have an excellent legal team on both the free speech and the science, and I am truly gratified at the way SteynOnline readers have continued to support my campaign by your patronage of the Steyn store, and especially our gift certificates, which I hope many of you will use when my new book comes out later this year. Our exclusive trial merchandise features our "Free Speech vs the Hockey Stick" design, and in court we will both defend free speech and clobber the hockey stick.
~But here's the funny thing: The appalling nature of Mann's stick is, already, an open secret within the scientific community. Let's reprise the words of Dr John Christy, the fellow who created the satellite temperature record, which is a more useful contribution to science than anything Mann has come up with. This is from Dr Christy's damning evidence to Congress:
Regarding the Hockey Stick of IPCC 2001 evidence now indicates, in my view, that an IPCC Lead Author working with a small cohort of scientists, misrepresented the temperature record of the past 1000 years by (a) promoting his own result as the best estimate, (b) neglecting studies that contradicted his, and (c) amputating another's result so as to eliminate conflicting data and limit any serious attempt to expose the real uncertainties of these data.
The "IPCC Lead Author" John Christy is talking about is Michael Mann (Dr Christy himself contributed to the 2001 IPCC report).
Having previously demonstrated that Mann's claims in multiple court pleadings to have been "exonerated" by the University of East Anglia, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and even the Government of the United Kingdom are utterly false, Steve McIntyre has now moved on to discuss Mann's misrepresentation of his EPA "exoneration". Steve begins by noting Dr Christy's words:
Christy left out a further fundamental problem in the amputation: there was no disclosure of the amputation in the IPCC 2001 report itself.
The impropriety of deleting adverse data in an IPCC graphic was easily understood in the broader world of brokers, accountants, lawyers and fund managers and one on which there was negligible sympathy for excuses. Not only did this appear to be misconduct as far as the public was concerned, the deletion of adverse data in the IPCC graphic appeared to be an act of "omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record" – one of the definitions ("falsification") of academic misconduct in the NSF and other academic misconduct codes.
Further, both the Oxburgh and Muir Russell reports concluded that the IPCC 2001 graphic was "misleading".
Just to back up for a minute, when the IPCC Third Assessment Report came out in 2001, it made a global icon out of the hockey stick. I wrote a column for The Sunday Telegraph at that time, pointing out that the stick was made up of two elements - proxy temperatures, and actual observed temperatures. That's to say, we know what the temperature was for March 5th 1947 in, say, Ballymena. But on March 5th 1147 neither Mr Fahrenheit nor Mr Celsius had yet been born, so you have to figure out a way to estimate it. There's nothing wrong per se in using proxies, as long as you establish that the proxy is a reliable guide. The way you'd do that is by taking the period in which we have both observed reality and the proxies, and showing that the latter tracks the former pretty accurately. So if, say, tree rings are a reliable guide to 20th century temperatures, who's to say they're not also a reliable guide to 15th century temperatures?
Unfortunately for Mann, the Lead Author on the relevant IPCC chapter, reality and the proxies diverge: In the second half of the 20th century, Keith Briffa's tree-ring data heads south while the actual global temperature ticks upward. So what does Mann do? As Dr Christy puts it, he "amputates" the data - that's to say, he chops it off at 1960. And, instead of disclosing it, he simply buries the little green line in a tangle of competing spaghetti. The illustration above comes from London's Daily Mail, which blew up the corner of the "hockey stick" graph in which Mann cuts off Briffa's tree rings (left) and then showed what would happen if Mann had been honest enough to keep Briffa's tree-ring line going (like the other lines) through to the end of the graph (the right-hand illustration). The hockey stick has a 900-year-long shaft that is almost entirely proxy temperatures and a 20th century blade that is almost entirely observed temperatures. The obvious question is: If tree rings are an entirely inaccurate guide to the late 20th century, why should we accept their accuracy for the 12th century?
John Christy again:
In our Sept. 1999 meeting (Arusha, Tanzania) we were shown a plot containing more temperature curves than just the Hockey Stick including one from K. Briffa that diverged significantly from the others, showing a sharp cooling trend after 1960. It raised the obvious problem that if tree rings were not detecting the modern warming trend, they might also have missed comparable warming episodes in the past. In other words, absence of the Medieval warming in the Hockey Stick graph might simply mean tree ring proxies are unreliable, not that the climate really was relatively cooler.
The Briffa curve created disappointment for those who wanted "a nice tidy story" (Briffa 0938031546.txt). The L.A. [Michael E Mann] remarked in emails that he did not want to cast "doubt on our ability to understand factors that influence these estimates" and thus, "undermine faith in paleoestimates" which would provide "fodder" to "skeptics" (Mann 0938018124.txt). One may interpret this to imply that being open and honest about uncertainties was not the purpose of this IPCC section. Between this email (22 Sep 1999) and the next draft sent out (Nov 1999, Fig. 2.25 Expert Review) two things happened: (a) the email referring to a "trick" to "hide the decline" for the preparation of report by the World Meteorological Organization was sent (Jones 0942777075.txt, "trick" is apparently referring to a splicing technique used by the L.A. [Dr Mann] in which non-paleo data were merged to massage away a cooling dip at the last decades of the original Hockey Stick) and (b) the cooling portion of Briffa's curve had been truncated for the IPCC report (it is unclear as to who performed the truncation...)
So, at this point, data which contradicted the Hockey Stick, whose creator was the L.A. [Mann], had been eliminated. No one seemed to be alarmed (or in my case aware) that this had been done.
Procedures to guard against such manipulation of evidence are supposed to be in place whenever biases and conflicts of interest interfere with duties to report the whole truth, especially in assessments that have such potentially drastic policy implications.
As Steve McIntyre spots, there's an artful distinction in the various Climategate "investigations", cursory as they are. The East Anglia reports are keen to exonerate their chaps - the Climatic Research Unit - so the standard line is that the CRU's papers are all shipshape and above board, but that it all gets a bit iffy once the IPCC gets their hands on the stuff. Lord Oxburgh's report:
For example, CRU publications repeatedly emphasize the discrepancy between instrumental and tree-based proxy reconstructions of temperature during the late 20th century, but presentations of this work by the IPCC and others have sometimes neglected to highlight this issue. While we find this regrettable, we could find no such fault with the peer-reviewed papers we examined.
So there's nothing wrong with the CRU's science, but what the IPCC did with it was "regrettable". Sir Muir Russell took much the same line - fine upstanding East Anglian science rendered "misleading" by the IPCC.
But there is no IPCC in the sense Oxburgh and Russell use the term. As a wholly separate entity, "the IPCC" is little more than the chairman Rajendra Pachauri and his expense account, jetsetting around the world gathering material for his next warmographic novel. "The IPCC", as Oxburgh and Russell deploy the expression, is primarily the Lead Authors who decide what goes into their chapters and how it's presented. So, in this case, the IPCC is Michael Mann. The chapter is Michael Mann. The author is Michael Mann. The "misleader" is Michael Mann. The "amputation" of the data was performed at the IPCC level - that's to say, the Michael Mann level. Was it fraud? Well, Mann as Lead Author didn't disclose it in the report, and, as Dr Christy has testified, he didn't even disclose it to fellow authors.
By the way, Mann in his court filings claims the Oxburgh report as one of the "inquiries" of him that "exonerates" him. On the other hand, on page 235 of his unreadable, whiney, self-serving book, Mann writes:
The statistician on the Oxburgh panel, David Hand, caused a bit of trouble with offhand remarks he chose to make at the press conference announcing the panel's findings. Though our own work did not fall within the remit of the committee, and the hockey stick was not mentioned in the report, Hand commented that "the particular technique [Mann et al.] used exaggerated the blade at the end of the hockey stick."
So Mann's work "did not fall within the remit" of Lord Oxburgh's investigation ...but somehow it "exonerated" him anyway. Mann lies easily, smoothly, glibly, using small, sly lies to support bigger, bolder ones. But his entire career is a pile-up of contradictions like these. As John Hinderaker sums it up:
It is generally believed in the scientific community, I think, that Michael Mann is a fraud and a liar, as well as a bully.
If you're older, tenured, sufficiently eminent and can stand his acolytes jumping you in the parking lot and taking the hockey stick to you, you'll acknowledge that his greatest achievement is distinguished mainly for its "misrepresentations" and "falsifications".
But, if you're a younger scientist, you know that, if you cross Mann and the other climate mullahs, there goes tenure, there goes funding, there goes your career: you'll be cut off like Briffa's tree rings. I've been stunned to learn of the very real fear of retribution that pervades the climate world. That's why I'm playing this one differently from the Maclean's case: Dr Mann will be on the witness stand under oath, and the lies that went unchallenged in the Big Climate echo chamber will not prove so easy to get away with. I didn't seek this battle with this disreputable man. But, when it's over, I hope that those who work in this field will once again be free to go where the science leads.
~Thanks as always to everyone who's swung by the SteynOnline bookstore in recent days to help fund my end of the case. Readers from Finland to the Falkland Islands have chipped in to buy not only books but our new SteynOnline gift certificates. Don't forget the Kindle edition of my free-speech book Lights Out is also available, and the royalties from any copies you pick up at Amazon.com and Amazon sites worldwide will also go toward inflicting on Mann a thorough and decisive courtroom defeat.