Readers have asked for an update on the upcoming Mann vs Steyn Trial of the Century, it now being over two years since Big Climate enforcer Michael E Mann decided to sue me for the hitherto unknown crime of "defamation of a Nobel Prize recipient". Rather than grind down what's left of the poor bleeding stumps of my book-signing fingers, I'll leave the typing to DC attorney Leslie Machado, who provides a précis of the story so far:
Mark Steyn (the other defendant), however, went a different route, firing his counsel, answering the complaint, and filing a counterclaim, alleging that the claim against him was "abusive litigation designed to chill freedom of speech and to stifle legitimate criticism of Plaintiff's work." (Steyn then filed an amended answer and counterclaim, here).
Mann – who had twice successfully defeated anti-SLAPP motions filed by the defendants – then filed his own anti-SLAPP motion against Steyn's counterclaim, alleging that it failed to state a claim for abuse of process or malicious prosecution. Steyn, now again represented by counsel, argued in response that his counterclaim did not assert claims for malicious prosecution or abuse of process, but instead asserted claims for: (a) an implied, private cause of action under the DC anti-SLAPP statute; (b) a constitutional tort; and (c) abusive litigation, all of which, he argued, survived the anti-SLAPP motion.
Hope that's clear to you, if not to me. While not necessarily agreeing with every characterization of Mr Machado's, I'd say he does a reasonable job of explaining why, in court on November 25th, I'll be sitting in my amicus briefs rather than among the appellants. This case is no nearer a trial date than it was two years ago, but even someone such as myself, who has long argued that the process is the punishment, has to doff his cap to the playful lads at the DC Court of Appeals, who after sitting on the case lo these many months decide to schedule oral arguments on a case in which almost all parties live way out of jurisdiction for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I suppose I should be grateful they didn't make it Wednesday, and well and truly stuff my turkey.
At any rate, the Court has agreed to extend the hearing time, which may or may not indicate a greater degree of interest in the arguments before them. We amici (yours truly, plus the ACLU and the massed ranks of big media) are supposed to be there in case the judges want to quiz us on our submissions. So I'll be flying in, along with m'learned counsel and the rest of the entourage. Whether I'll be able to get a flight out is an interesting question. But, if you have the misfortune to be in the District of Columbia that day, the fun starts at 9.30am.
~I assume Michael E Mann will be there, although so far, with one exception, he's been a no-show in court. Still, he's a busy man. Recently he was in California to receive the Pongo Award, named after the beloved dog in 101 Dalmatians who foils the machinations of Cruella de Vil (Dr Judith Curry) and her evil henchmen Jasper and Horace Badun (Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick). So Mann is a truly worthy winner. The award's name is entirely unconnected etymologically with the British vernacular expression "pong", as in a particularly bad smell. There is nothing malodorous about Dr Mann's science, no, sir. A new paper in Environmental Research Letters can suggest all it wants that bristlecone pines make for unreliable temperature proxies, but by the time they've been tossed in Dr Mann's woodchipper it all comes out nice and smooth.
Still, I was interested to see that Mann was presented with the award by actor-activist Ed Begley Jr, last heard from kissing up to anti-American film investor and fossil-fuel operative "Muhammad". I'm not sure I'd be willing to accept an award from Mr Begley. As the song says:
Bongo bongo bongo
I don't wanna win the Pongo
Oh no no no no no...
~Before his schmooze-in with "Muhammad", Mr Begley was previously noted talking up the virtues of peer review:
"We'll go down the path and see what happens in peer-reviewed studies," said Ed airily. "Those are the key words here, Stuart. 'Peer-reviewed studies.'"
Hang on. Could you say that again more slowly so I can write it down? Not to worry. Ed said it every 12 seconds, as if it were the magic charm that could make all the bad publicity go away. He wore an open-necked shirt, and, although I don't have a 76" inch HDTV, I wouldn't have been surprised to find a talismanic peer-reviewed amulet nestling in his chest hair for additional protection. "If these scientists have done something wrong, it will be found out and their peers will determine it," insisted Ed. "Don't get your information from me, folks, or any newscaster. Get it from people with Ph.D. after their names. 'Peer-reviewed studies is the key words. And if it comes out in peer-reviewed studies . . . "
Got it... peer-reviewed studies. "Peer-reviewed studies. Go to Science magazine, folks. Go to Nature," babbled Ed. "Read peer-reviewed studies. That's all you need to do. Don't get it from you or me."
Look for the peer-reviewed label! And then just believe whatever it is they tell you!
For a glimpse of "peer review" in action, see the latest issue of Ethology: The International Journal of Behavioural Biology:
Although association preferences documented in our study theoretically could be a consequence of either mating or shoaling preferences in the different female groups investigated (should we cite the crappy Gabor paper here?), shoaling preferences are unlikely drivers of the documented patterns both because of evidence from previous research and inconsistencies with a priori predictions.
Presumably in that "crappy paper" the female group investigated were the Gabor sisters.
~If you buttonhole me at the DC Court of Appeals, I promise to autograph any copies of The [Un]documented Mark Steyn shoved under my nose - and don't forget, all profits from book sales and trial merchandise and gift certificates go to prop up my end of this interminable case.