Several readers have queried whether I'm under lawyers' instructions to clam up re Michael E Mann, the serial litigant, inventor of the global-warming "hockey stick", self-proclaimed Nobel Laureate, and liar, cheat, falsifier and fraud. Yes, as you can see from the tail end of the preceding sentence, I've decided to be much more restrained in my commentary on the upcoming Mann vs Steyn trial of the century.
It's also the case that the matter has stalled in the choked toilet tank of DC justice, and, as it's the summer, I've been gamboling in the great outdoors with my youngsters. However, Mann's back in the news again, at least tangentially. So I'd like to reprise a point from that liar-cheat-falsifier-and-fraud piece:
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system itself on trial, to the point where the disgusting and indefensible "hate speech" law Section 13 was eventually repealed by Parliament.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.
The very next day, the 79-year-old Swedish climatologist Lennart Bengtsson was forced to resign from a dissident climate group after Mann's fellow enforcers in the global Clime Syndicate took the hockey stick to him in the back alley. The distinguished Professor Bengtsson had been very kind to the young Mann in his early career, but in his current incarnation as the Tony Warmano of climate change Mann is too crude and banal an operator to resist gleefully dancing on his old friend's grave. As I wrote back in May:
So to Michael Mann Lennart Bengtsson is now "junk science"? For a decade, he was director of the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology. For another decade, he was Director of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. He's won the Descartes Prize, and a World Meteorological Organization prize for groundbreaking research in numerical weather prediction. Over the years, he and Michael Mann have collaborated on scientific conferences. But a half-century of distinguished service to climate science - the directorships, the prizes, all the peer-reviewed papers, the shared platforms with the great Dr Mann - is swept into the garbage can of history, and Bengtsson is now just another "denialist" peddling "junk science".
What a sad dead husk of a human being Michael Mann is to do such a thing to a professional colleague.
But, as we know, this is Mann's modus operandi. A few days ago, it emerged that another scientist he'd targeted, Roger Pielke, Jr, has parted company with Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight website after Mann and his fellow self-proclaimed Nobel Laureate Kevin Trenbarth objected to his initial contribution. Charles C W Cooke has written this up as "Burn the Witch! Roger Pielke Jr. Out at FiveThirtyEight". But it seems to me the real target of Mann's wrath was not Pielke but Nate Silver.
Silver became such a hero to the American left for his statistical analysis of the 2012 election that he figured he no longer needed The New York Times and struck out on his own with his FiveThirtyEight site, dedicated to "data journalism". He hired Pielke to write on climate science and other matters, and published his first piece, "Disasters Cost More Than Ever - But Not Because of Climate Change". Mann, Trenbarth and the other climate mullahs objected - as only they know how. As Dr Judith Curry commented:
RP Jr's post at 538 has elicited what is probably the most reprehensible and contemptible smear job that I have ever seen of a scientist, at least from an organization that has any pretense of respectability.
Pielke himself has now given an interview to Discover Magazine:
Well, that first piece was written on a subject that I have written on many times before (and perhaps as much as anyone) – disasters and climate change. The short essay was perfectly consistent with the recent assessments of the IPCC. The fact that some folks didn't like it was not surprising — most anything on climate change is met with derision by somebody. What was a surprise was the degree to which the negative response to the piece was coordinated among some activist scientists, journalists and social media aficionados. I think that took everyone by surprise.
Not me, as you can tell from that "Descent of Mann" piece quoted above. The issue here was not Roger Pielke, Jr: Mann & Co are ruthless about marginalizing Pielke, Judith Curry, John Christy, Lennart Bengtsson and any other scientist who wanders off the reservation, and getting their court eunuchs in the alarmist media to trash them. But what mattered to them here was Nate Silver, a progressive icon admired by the kind of people Mann depends on to keep Big Climate going. So his first reaction to the piece was a shot across the bows not at Pielke but at Nate Silver, denouncing his new venture as "yet another outlet for misinformation" - which is Mann's term for anything that dissents even mildly from the ayatollahs of alarmism.
In other words, Mann wasn't going after Pielke, he was going after Nate Silver.
And how did Silver react? He never published a piece by Pielke on climate science ever again. As a matter of fact, he never spoke to Pielke ever again. From that Discover interview:
Of course, I do wish that 538 had shown a bit more editorial backbone, but hey, it is his operation. If a widely published academic cannot publish on a subject which he has dozens of peer-reviewed papers and 1000s of citations to his work, what can he write on? Clearly Nate is a smart guy, and I suspect that he knows very well where the evidence lies on this topic. For me, if the price of playing in the DC-NYC data journalism world is self-censorship for fear of being unpopular, then it is clearly not a good fit for any academic policy scholar.
It's interesting to me how scared famous people can be. When America Alone (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available, etc, etc) came out, I used to get occasional emails from Hollywood - not from the 20-million-per-picture guys but from bona fide and Oscar-nominated stars (ie, not fake Nobel winners) - saying how much they liked the book, but please, don't mention it to anybody because they have to work in this town... Well, I'll never know what it's like to depend on Hollywood producers for your next gig, but I know a little bit about the public speaking circuit, and I was surprised, when Niall Ferguson made some unexceptional observations about Keynes that fell afoul of Big Gay, how instantly and abjectly he prostrated himself:
Recognizing the threat to his highly lucrative brand, Professor Ferguson immediately issued an "unqualified apology." He is married to one of the bravest women on the planet, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has stood firm for a decade against loons who want to kill her as they did her friend Theo van Gogh. Up against a bunch of hysterical ninnies threatening only his speaking fees, Ferguson caved.
And now we have Nate Silver caving - silently, furtively, but totally - to Mann and Trenbarth and the big hockey stick. A man whose "brand" depends on his objectivity, on following fearlessly where the evidence leads, has just told the world that when his much vaunted "data journalism" meets the ideological enforcers it curls up into a fetal position. Would it really have taken so much just to say to Mann, Trenbarth et al, "Sorry, chaps. I publish what I want and I stand by my writers. If you disagree, submit a rebuttal of your own. But please, address the arguments, rather than just spraying your usual epithets about 'junk science'. Lovely to hear from you, I'll look for it in the mail."
Instead, Mann has done to Nate Silver what Mann has spent years accusing Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers of doing - bullying editors to fall into ideological lockstep. Hank Campbell writes at Science 2.0:
Pielke thinks that perhaps Silver should have had more "editorial backbone" but the guy has exactly the right amount of backbone for topics his audience wants to read - Daily Kos is cheering because they accomplished what they set out to do, engage in the politics of delegitimization of anyone outside their thought control and suppressing discourse about the one area of science they happen to embrace.
Mr Campbell's headline reads "Roger Pielke, Jr Takes Down Nate Silver". But I think it would be truer to say that Mann and the Clime Syndicate took down Nate Silver - or, to be more precise, that Nate Silver allowed himself to be taken down by them. As the great Kate McMillan observed back when the brouhaha broke:
Thank you for this, Nate Silver... It's helpful to know that Fivethirtyeight is just another product of spineless pc conformity before I waste any time with it.
And so it has proved.
I really don't want to operate within the narrow straitjacket of permissible debate that Mann & Co insist on, and I don't know why any self-respecting human being would. Everybody who strings along with Mann's "scanty", "sloppy" and "sh*tty" science winds up infected and diminished by it - starting with the IPCC. Many climatologists understand that. One day Nate Silver will, too.
~In the meantime, we continue to prepare for trial and our deposition and discovery of Mann. He has, at last count, four white-shoe lawyers on the payroll in DC, plus his Canadian lawyers in Vancouver, all funded by some ideological "climate defense fund" or some such. If you'd like to be part of the resistance to Big Climate, we've brought back the SteynOnline gift certificate, which we usually only offer during the Christmas season. It makes a great present for any Steyn fan in your family - and it's an easy way to support us without filling your basement up with copies of my disco CD. Instead, you can buy a gift certificate for yourself (starting at $25). If you want to give us the "full legal bang for the buck" (as one reader puts it) and sit on your unredeemed certificate for a decade or two, that's great: They never expire so, if circa 2040, you have a sudden yen for a couple of crates' worth of SteynOnline mugs, you'll still be able to load up. If you want to redeem part of it for a book and let SteynOnline keep the change, that works, too. If you want to hold on to it until my new book comes out later this year or until Christmas season cranks up, that's also a good idea.
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