In the glacial progress of the defamation suit against me by Big Climate huckster Michael E Mann, there has been a most interesting development: a fellow scientist, Dr Judith Curry, has now filed an amicus brief against Mann. As the inventor of the global-warming "hockey stick" promoted worldwide by the UN and governments from Canada to New Zealand, Mann is undoubtedly one of the most famous climate "scientists" on the planet. But, if you want to know what a real scientist thinks of him, then don't miss Dr Curry's blistering indictment:
Dr. Mann has transgressed scientific norms and offended First Amendment principles by bringing a defamation claim against Appellants for their pointed criticism of his scientific methodology. Dr. Mann's suit is unsupportable both because of his behavior toward his critics, particularly amicus curiae Dr. Curry, which demonstrates that the debate over climate science is often contentious and because Dr. Mann engages in the debate often to silence rather than to illuminate. The Court ought not be party to stifling debate.
One of the many ways Mann "transgresses scientific norms" is in his sleazy and contemptible campaign against Judith Curry: for example, he links approvingly to anonymous bloggers who accuse her of having "literally gotten into bed with slime like Steyn". As Dr Curry's counsel explains at the start of the brief, this gives her a very real interest in the case:
As it relates to this case, Dr. Curry has been critical of Appellee Michael Mann's methodological approach to climate science and the conclusions he has reached. Dr. Curry has experienced personal and professional attacks from Dr. Mann for her criticisms of his work. Dr. Mann has a pattern of attacking those who disagree with him and this case is another in a long line of tactics to silence debate over the science of global warming. Dr. Curry is a stalwart supporter of free speech and believes it plays a crucial role in the advancement of scientific debate. She has an acute interest in the outcome of this case because should Dr. Mann prevail, he would be emboldened to continue his pattern of attacks against Dr. Curry and others like her, and others would be emboldened to do so. She also has an interest in robust debate on climate science in keeping with the scientific principles she espouses.
For those who want to know the difference between Mann's sue-you-into-silence approach and genuine "robust debate" in keeping with "scientific principles", Dr Curry's brief lays them out:
In his landmark 1973 work The Sociology of Science , Robert Merton established norms upon which scientists should rely . These Mertonian norms include: communalism, universalism, disinterestedness, originalism, and organized skepticism... These norms have been described as follows: "Communalism: Science is public knowledge, freely available to all . . . Universalism: There are no privileged sources of scientific knowledge . . . Disinterestedness: Science is done for its own sake. Originality: Science is the discovery of the unknown . . . Skepticism: Scientists take nothing on trust..." Merton's original work was done in the aftermath of World War II and is understood as making the argument for the necessity of these norms to scientific advancement in a democratic society.
The National Academy of Sciences built on Mertonian norms by establishing guidelines of its own that seek to foster a "community characterized by curiosity, cooperation, and intellectual rigor..." While the Academy encourages open debate and criticism, id . at xv, it treats the falsification of data, intent to mislead, and retaliation against critics as examples of serious research misconduct.
All of which Mann has done. He has perverted the norms of science on an industrial scale:
Dr. Mann 's present suit against his critics is another example of his pattern of attacking and harassing those with whom he disagrees. His treatment of Dr. Curry also violates the established Mertonian norms.
The Mertonian norm of communalism views science a s public knowledge, which should be freely available to all. Dr. Mann violated this norm by helping Dr. Phil Jones â€” a colleague of Dr. Mann 's who was likewise implicated in the climate research scandals emanating from the University of East Anglia â€” destroy emails and other data to avoid their publication via the Freedom of Information Act...
Dr. Curry continued that she has "tried to understand Michael Mann's perspective in suing so . . . many people, while at the same time so freely throwing insults at others and even defaming other scientists. My understanding is this. Michael Mann does not seem to understand the difference between criticizing a scientific argument versus smearing a scientist." Id . Despite Dr. Mann's sustained harassment, Dr. Curry has not brought a defamation lawsuit to use the courts to silence her critic.
Do read the entire amicus brief: It's well worth your time.
Meanwhile, Dave Neese, a columnist with The Trentonian in New Jersey, has published an interesting analysis of where American free speech is headed if the DC judges' latest appalling ruling is allowed to stand:
Should Mann ultimately prevail, the long-time favorable legal jig will be up for the media. So say the media, anyway, in their friends-of-the-court briefs opposing Mann's suit.
For many decades now, the law has taken an accommodating view toward the media. Expressions of opinion have been allowed wide latitude.
Especially where public figures or public issues are involved.
But Mann's case inches toward trial with the prospect of yuuuuuge change hanging in the balance. The court has already declared in Mann's case that argumentative or hyperbolic statements made during contentious exchanges over controversial issues do not, necessarily, "find shelter under the First Amendment simply because they are embedded in a larger policy debate."
So, in other words, if you call a Trump-like personage a Nazi or a racist or a xenophobe, you'd better damn well be prepared to spend boatloads of money defending yourself in court. Because the Trump-like personage will be prepared to do so.
That's a shrewd point. The American left is currently whining because Trump is issuing executive orders on this, that and the other: Apparently, they assumed that the strategic deployment of executive orders would only ever be wielded by Democrat presidents. Likewise, if you think the new constraints on public debate will only ever be wielded by thin-skinned climate alarmists you happen to agree with, you're making the same careless assumption.
Mr Neese also finds time to put in a plug for my book "A Disgrace To The Profession": The World's Scientists - In Their Own Words - On Michael E Mann, His Hockey Stick, And Their Damage to Science: Volume One:
Mammalian science is a little outside his field, but Prof. Mann perhaps should have given more heed â€” for the sake of his own domestic tranquility â€” to a wise adage: It's never advisable to engage in a peeing contest with a black-and-white-striped mephitid.
Now Steyn has rounded up, literally,a book-full of impressively credentialed scientists who strongly imply â€” or declare outright â€” that, yes, Mann's hockey-stick graph is indeed so much fraudulent hooey. (See Steyn's "A Disgrace to The Profession.")
...Are they ALL going to be sued for libel, all of these skeptical and critical scientists? Including some who are politically of the Left and others who are scientifically of the view that human pollution to some extent is in fact contributing to global warming?
Do read the rest of Dave Neese's column: It grasps the stakes, and the ironies. And I confess I liked this bit:
Certainly the ever-pugnacious Steyn, at least, remains uncowed. In him Mann imprudently picked as a defendant the intellectual equivalent of a bare-knuckles saloon brawler who's ready and eager to take on any and all challengers.
Steyn famously duked it out with Canadian "human rights" bureaucracies over his no-holds-barred observations on Islamic extremism. He emerged from that fray the victorious pug gloating triumphantly with swollen-shut eyes and smashed nose.
The victorious pug will eventually emerge to gloat triumphantly this time round. But it's going to take a while. The procedural bollocksing of the case by the first DC trial judge is all but impossible to unravel: Various of the parties are now asking the DC Court of Appeals for a hearing en banc. I'm not one of those doing so because I think the collegiality of judges is such that the full court will almost certainly uphold the ruling of their three colleagues. So all the en banc hearing does is add another three years before we inevitably go to the Supreme Court for the most consequential First Amendment case in two generations.
As a practical proposition, that means, if I enjoy normal life expectancy, this case will consume the bulk of my remaining time on earth. In the event that I don't, the thuggish Mann will come after my family, as has happened to my late friend Andrew Breitbart's children. I did not seek this battle, and I confess, in my gloomier moments in recent days, that I envy those returning Somali green-card holders denied re-entry to the United States. But I will not shirk the fight, and I will prevail.
A court battle this long, however, does impose costs way beyond any tip jars and legal defense funds. So I am obliged to prioritize revenue-generating activities, such as TV, radio, books, albums and whatnot. Which will mean, alas, rather less time for curating world affairs at this website seven days a week. I regret that, but I hope you'll understand.
~Speaking of TV, Mark addresses Trump's "Muslim ban" and the Quebec City shooting here. And join him for an in-depth interview with Professor Jordan Peterson, currently fighting for his career against the gender-identity totalitarians.