Among the documents requested from me in discovery by Michael E Mann's Big Tobacco white-shoe legal team a couple of months ago was this column of mine from 2009:
Here's what Phil Jones of the CRU and his colleague Michael Mann of Penn State mean by "peer review." When Climate Research published a paper dissenting from the Jones-Mann "consensus," Jones demanded that the journal "rid itself of this troublesome editor," and Mann advised that "we have to stop considering Climate Research as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers."
So much for Climate Research. When Geophysical Research Letters also showed signs of wandering off the "consensus" reservation, Dr. Tom Wigley ("one of the world's foremost experts on climate change") suggested they get the goods on its editor, Jim Saiers, and go to his bosses at the American Geophysical Union to "get him ousted." When another pair of troublesome dissenters emerge, Dr. Jones assured Dr. Mann, "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"
Which in essence is what they did. The more frantically they talked up "peer review" as the only legitimate basis for criticism, the more assiduously they turned the process into what James Lewis calls the Chicago machine politics of international science. The headline in The Wall Street Journal Europe is unimprovable: "How To Forge A Consensus." Pressuring publishers, firing editors, blacklisting scientists: That's "peer review," climate-style.
"Climategate" wasn't only about the science - "Hide the decline" et al. It was also about the general thuggishness with which Mann and his gang treated anyone who disagreed with them, however mildly: The science is settled. Got it? Nice little peer-review journal you got here. Shame if anything were to happen to it.
The joke "investigations" conducted in the wake of Climategate chose to let the Clime Syndicate skate. To be charitable, it's possible Sir Muir Russell, Lord Oxburgh and the other grandees assumed that, having been caught once, the Warmanos wouldn't do it again. Instead, having been caught once and gotten away with it, the Warmanos kept right on doing it. Hence, this week's offer he couldn't refuse to Lennart Bengtsson: Whether they also left a polar bear's head in his bed we shall discover in the fullness of time.
In other words, despite Climategate, despite the Oxburgh inquiry and the Russell inquiry and the NOAA inquiry and all the rest, nothing has changed. With hindsight, Rand Simberg's comparison of Penn State's joke investigations into Jerry Sandusky and Michael Mann missed the most obvious point of similarity: The more Penn State bent over backwards to look the other way, the more Sandusky took it as a nod and a wink to carry on as usual. The Clime Syndicate seems to have reacted to the Climategate investigations in exactly the same way.
Aside from their lack of interest in the threats and intimidation, the panels' treatment of the broader corruption of "peer review" was also striking. The magical properties of "peer review" are greatly overrated - it's what would be called in less pretentious fields an old boys' club, and was described to me recently by one eminent scientist as, if you'll pardon the expression, a "circle jerk". In that 2009 column, I wrote:
The more their echo chamber shriveled, the more Mann and Jones insisted that they and only they represent the "peer-reviewed" "consensus." And gullible types like Ed Begley Jr. and Andrew Revkin of The New York Times fell for it hook, line, and tree-ring. The e-mails of "Andy" (as his CRU chums fondly know him) are especially pitiful. Confronted by serious questions from Stephen McIntyre, the dogged Ontario retiree whose Climate Audit website exposed the fraud of Dr. Mann's global-warming "hockey stick" graph, "Andy" writes to Dr. Mann to say not to worry, he's going to "cover" the story from a more oblique angle:
'I'm going to blog on this as it relates to the value of the peer review process and not on the merits of the mcintyre et al attacks.
'peer review, for all its imperfections, is where the herky-jerky process of knowledge building happens, would you agree?'
By "herky-jerky process", I don't think Mr Revkin means quite the same as that eminent scientist I quoted above. As to whether Dr Mann agrees with him, amazingly he does!
Re, your point at the end — you've taken the words out of my mouth.
Fancy that! In London, the front page of today's Times leads with a follow-up story on Professor Bengtsson by its Environment Editor, Ben Webster, headlined "Scientists in Cover-Up of 'Damaging' Climate View":
Research which heaped doubt on the rate of global warming was deliberately suppressed by scientists because it was "less than helpful" to their cause, it was claimed last night.
In an echo of the infamous "Climategate" scandal at the University of East Anglia, one of the world's top academic journals rejected the work of five experts after a reviewer privately denounced it as "harmful"...
Professor Bengtsson's paper challenged the finding of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the global average temperature would rise by up to 4.5C if greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were allowed to double.
It suggested that the climate might be much less sensitive to greenhouse gases than had been claimed by the IPCC in its report last September, and recommended that more work be carried out "to reduce the underlying uncertainty".
The five contributing scientists, from America and Sweden, submitted the paper to Environmental Research Letters, one of the most highly regarded journals, at the end of last year but were told in February that it had been rejected.
A scientist asked by the journal to assess the paper under the peer review process wrote that he strongly advised against publishing it because it was "less than helpful".
The unnamed scientist concluded: "Actually it is harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of 'errors' and worse from the climate sceptics media side."
Golly, it's almost like Climategate never happened, and it's business as usual.
JOHN GIBBONS: Ireland doesn't have the US-style ideological chasm, but instead we have a media that is tremendously uninterested and uninformed. Our leading climate scientist, Prof John Sweeney had to actually boycott a recent TV programme, on the grounds that this type of 'debate' (giving oxygen to known climate deniers) is feeding the problem – you've experienced this?
MICHAEL MANN: Sometimes, if you don't participate, the fear is that people are only going to hear from the voices of disinformation but if we allow that sort of 'false balance' approach, it does a disservice to the public. If you as a scientist share the stage with an industry-funded denier, you are implicitly telling the audience that these are two equally credible voices – and they're not. I'm sympathetic to the view that John Sweeney expressed about the fallacy of false balance. It's like an astronomer getting into a debate with the president of the Flat Earth Society over the latest stellar observations.
Of course, they're only "industry-funded deniers" because Mann labels them as such. When he sued me in the District of Columbia, he was simultaneously suing others in Virginia and British Columbia: He and his quintet of white-shoe Big Tobacco lawyers are funded by the alarmism industry. We can all play this moronic game. The problem for Mann is that this moronic game -"Shut up, denier!" - is the only one he can play. But let's take his argument at face value - that, if you share the stage with someone, you're lending them your credibility.
Okay. So who's this bloke John Gibbons with whom Mann is happy to "share the stage"? Any number of Irish readers wrote to fill me in, including Peter O'Neill, who mentioned that Mr Gibbons was a man who believed in "expressing temperature change in degrees Celsius as a percentage". I didn't quite credit this, but it's true. John Gibbons on February 16th 2011:
Just in case you're not familiar with the basic science (and I really am now beginning to wonder), the current global average surface temp. is c.14.5C. Add 4C to that in half a century and you have increased the average surface temp by over 25%.
Mr Gibbons seems to think temperature is like pounds or euros. If you have zero pounds, you have no money. Similarly, says Gibbons, if you have zero degrees Celsius, you have no temperature. If you start out in the morning with £2 and you end the day with £4, you're twice as rich. Likewise, if you start out in the morning with two degrees and end the day with four degrees, you're twice as warm.
Mr O'Neill and others endeavored to point out, politely, that temperature doesn't work like that. For one thing, if Gibbons is so worried by that increase in surface temp of "over 25%", all he has to do is stop using Centigrade and convert to Fahrenheit. So the current global average is 14.5C - or about 58F. If you add 4C to it, that's a little over 7F. So, instead of that massive "over 25%" increase from 14.5C to 18.5C, you have an increase from 58F to 65F - or about 12 per cent. Hey, presto! Global warming halved - just like that!
Still, if I understand Gibbons, it's like the Three Degrees. If a fourth Degree were to join - Scary Spice, say, or a Nolan Sister - there would be over 33 per cent more Degrees.
This wasn't a one-off mistake by John Gibbons, but something of a recurring theme. Two years earlier, he wrote in The Irish Times, no less:
How would we measure success in Copenhagen? First, the science bit. Global average temperatures have increased by 0.8 degrees since industrialisation began. This translates to a world that has become 6.5 per cent warmer.
Which, converted to Fahrenheit, translates to a world that has become only three per cent warmer. Amazing how that works. My old newspaper, The Irish Times, Ireland's newspaper of record, actually published this, and permitted Gibbons to announce it as "the science bit".
But here's the thing: Michael Mann, who's so concerned about not wanting to "share the stage" and thereby lend his credibility to "anti-science" "deniers", has just happily shared the stage with a guy who thinks temperature can be expressed as a percentage. (And I don't mean Kelvin, the only male member of the Three Degrees.)
You have to laugh at that "peer reviewer" who rejected Professor Bengtsson's paper because it might bolster the "oversimplified claims" of the skeptic side. The cartoon climatology of the hockey stick comes with "oversimplified" as the default setting. That's its appeal: See this graph? That's all you need to know. Don't worry your pretty little head about anything else. If you do, you'll wind up like John Gibbons, way out of your depth, even before rising sea levels have swept away dear old Dublin.
Michael Mann won't "share the stage" with Judith Curry, Roger Pielke Jr, Hans von Storch, Richard Tol, Steve McIntyre, Nigel Lawson, Matt Ridley, Lennart Bengtsson or even me, because we're all anti-science oversimpletons, and the false balance would only give us a credibility we don't deserve. So instead he gives exclusive interviews to blokes who think Centigrade temperatures can be expressed as a percentage. Mann's Climate Cult depends on credulous rubes and fawning groupies, and he's running low.
UPDATE! Several readers point out that if you do convert Centigrade and/or Fahrenheit to Kelvin, Mr Gibbons has even less to worry about. My first memory of Kelvin was a query to my physics teacher: "What's a Kelvin?" "A man called William," he replied. Also from Ireland, as I recall. (My daughter and I passed his tomb in Westminster Abbey a couple of years ago, near Isaac Newton's.) At any rate, in Kelvin, the units are the same size as Celsius, but everything is shifted 273-point-something lower down the scale. So that sizzling "over 25 per cent" increase in the warmth of the planet works out to one per cent and change. We really need a new Manntigrade or Mannenheit scale, where all the numbers sound big and scary, even if it's 12 and partly cloudy with a chance of light showers in the afternoon.
~As you can possibly tell, I'm itching to get Dr Mann into court, and mulling over ways that that might be accelerated. In the meantime, we're interviewing witnesses, and working on our broader investigation of him. It takes time and money, and, if you're minded to support it, I hope you'll consider buying a showtune or two, or my free-speech book, or one of our many other fine products. Don't forget every five per cent increase in my legal offense fund is equivalent to a 41 per cent increase in Fahrenheit.