Thursday, January 05, 2017

The most important political takeaway from the Mann defamation case against denialists

I've been slowly slowly making my way through the 111-page court decision. I agree with the main takeaways elsewhere - Michael Mann won some important-if-only-intermediary victories against the Competitive Enterprise Institute/Rand Simberg and National Review/Mark Steyn, completely lost a less-important and weaker argument against Rich Lowry/National Review, and the fight goes on.

The real takeaway is what the denialists have not said in their own defense. Take it away, DC Court of Appeals:


Appellants do not argue that Mr. Simberg’s article, if capable of conveying a defamatory meaning, is not actionable because the statements that Dr. Mann engaged in deception and misconduct are true.

The first line of defense you as a defendant can use in a defamation case, when you've done a good job, is that what you've said is true. They don't even attempt to make that argument for Simberg, jumping instead to a version of the 'well that's just my opinion, man' argument (apologies to The Dude). You can use the truth argument even if you haven't done a great job if it has a some plausibility. In Simberg's case at least, they don't even want to waste a tiny amount of the court's attention on a truth defense, because it's so weak that they would just detract from their overall credibility. And this is true regardless of what happens ultimately in this case.


Some random notes below:


Casual readers who may want to check out the case, may choose to skip the first 50-plus pages of procedural wrangling. That part is interesting to see how a case moves forward, though.

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There's some confusion around on legal fees, so a couple of notes:  the usual American rule is each side pays its own legal fees, with exceptions. When plaintiffs win, they don't get fees from defendants, but the plaintiff attorneys often get paid part of the winnings. An exception to the above is the anti-SLAPP procedures this appellate opinion decided. Anti-SLAPP wasn't designed for this situation, btw, it was designed to protect little people from being bankrupted by big corporations when they criticize the corporations. Still, Big Denialists get to use it here, and if they win the anti-SLAPP motion, then defendants get their appropriate legal fees. Defendants lost two and won one of their motions. As to the first two, they won't get legal fees (nor will Mann) no matter what happens from here on out. As to Lowry/National Review, they will - but National Review could be on the losing side of the Steyn case, so we'll just have to see how that works out in the end.

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This thing, originally filed in 2012, is far, far, from over. Yes, that's American justice for you. At least we're not Italy. Anyway, absent a settlement that could theoretically happen anytime, I'd guess two more years at the trial level, then maybe one or two more years on appeal, and then a short additional delay before the US Supreme Court refuses to hear a final appeal. All I can say in marginal defense of my field is that it can move faster when absolutely necessary, for example with child custody or otherwise to prevent future harm. Otherwise, and especially as in here where both sides have lots of resources and no innate requirement for speed, things move slowly.

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A future, potential legal pitfall for Mann:
National Review takes a different position. It argues that it cannot be held liable for any of the statements made by Mr. Simberg or Mr. Steyn that appeared on its website. According to National Review, it is shielded from liability by the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (“CDA”), because its website is a “provider . . . of an interactive computer service” 49 that may not be “treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” 50 47 U.S.C. § 230 (c)(1 ). Under the CDA “[n]o cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with” § 230 (c)(1). 47 U.S.C. § 230 (e)(3). This argument was not raised in the trial court and is not properly before us. See Akassy v. William Penn Apartments Ltd. P’ship , 891 A.2d 291, 304 n.11 (D.C. 2006) (“Generally, issues not raised in the trial court will not be considered on appeal.”).
This strikes me as a fairly weak argument, but still the appellate court is saying that now isn't the time for it to rule on this argument, so defendants can raise it again later in the proceedings.

----

Something that opens up some interesting lines for discovery against CEI and National Review:

There is, in this case, another factor that a jury could take into account in evaluating appellants’ state of mind in publishing the statements accusing Dr. Mann of misconduct and deception. As the articles that form the basis of Dr. Mann’s complaint make clear, appellants and Mr. Steyn are deeply invested in one side of the global warming debate that is opposed to the view supported by Dr. Mann’s research. Although animus against Dr. Mann and his research is by itself insufficient to support a finding of actual malice where First Amendment rights are implicated, bias providing a motive to defame by making a false statement may be a relevant consideration in evaluating other evidence to determine whether a statement was made with reckless disregard for its truth.

Discovery can explore how and why these organizations are so opposed to climate science. Let's see where that goes! I should probably note here that discovery isn't a blank check - you can only get to see evidence that's relevant to your case. Here the court is saying that motive is relevant - so let's see what they really believe and why they're doing this.


91 comments:

David B. Benson said...

Agasting.

Harry Twinotter said...

Popcorn time... I am betting on a settlement. If that does not happen then I am betting on CEI or National Review shielding themselves on some sort of technicality and Simberg and Steyn declaring bankruptcy. In my opinion (not a legal one) Mann has a very good case for malice.

Yes, they are not going for the "truth" defense - funny thing that :-) They have no evidence for the truth of what they said about Mann.

JohnMashey said...

(post lost, try again)
1) I know Brian understands US legal meaning of "actual malice", for which "reckless disregard of truth" is enough.

2) There is a long history of CEI getting $ and attacking climate science, and via Myron Ebell, organized the attack on the hockey stick & M.B, H.
See Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report pp.25-32.

Event 09 - Barton_Whitefield intimidation letters to M, B, H
Ebell had those (and sent them to White House) *before M, B, & H saw them.

The attack on hockey stick was very much a CEI+GMI partnership. Ebell recruited McKitrick+Essex, then replaced latter with McIntyre, brought them to Washington, introduced to Inhofe, orchestrated press, etc, etc.

If this ever gets that far, there is a ton of public evidence to guide discovery, and there are all sorts of interesting questions to ask.

Canman said...

"Appellants do not argue that Mr. Simberg’s article, if capable of conveying a defamatory meaning, is not actionable because the statements that Dr. Mann engaged in deception and misconduct are true."

That's not true of Mark Steyn, who often refers to Mann as "Dr. Fraudpants".

"... I believe the hockey stick is fraudulent - which is why I stated that it's fraudulent. I've said it's fraudulent in major publications in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, inter alia, since the end of the 20th century - without any slapdash jurists in those countries presuming to say that I had no right to do so.

For the record, I did not write that Mann himself is a fraud, although I'm happy to prove that in court. As that is what the sclerotic and diseased husk of DC justice apparently requires of me, I wish they'd get on with it - as I've been petitioning for over three years. ..."

http://www.steynonline.com/7660/la-la-la-cant-hear-you

Brian said...

Harry - neither side is in this legal case for the money, so settlement is hard to predict. We'll have to see how afraid CEI and NR are of discovery, that's where they might be willing to take a prestige hit and settle.

John - third parties could get subpoenaed too, that would make things especially interesting by going into the files of corporations and others (Donors Trust?) that sent money to these guys.

If I were the two media defendants, I might announce that they're not going to contest the element of proving malice, just to avoid that part of discovery. That could get CEI and NR off the discovery hook albeit at the price of weakening their case, but Steyn doesn't seem bright enough to understand this (and to be fair, he might not actually know or have the evidence of where the bodies are buried).

Canman - I was referring to the briefs, not what people write elsewhere. Not sure what Steyn is arguing in court, he stayed out of the appeal.

JohnMashey said...

Brian: yes, the third party possibilities are the interesting cases, especially for CEI, because so many people are already linked in, where we know they were involved, and a little about what they did, but missing many communications.

Canman said...

Launching a libel suit in order to use discovery against CEI and NR and to subpoena third parties. I'll have to admit, that's an interesting angle.

Canman said...

In this quest for dirt on Mann's hockey stick from one side and dirt on think tank funding from the other side, I hate to see the right of people to say what they think and my right to read what they say they think get trampled in the process.

Russell Seitz said...

Is your Klein bottle half empty or half empty?

Or merely full of Chateauneuf du Jones ?

Susan Anderson said...

This is a useful simplification of the entirety of leadership on climate denialism (I exempt some of the dupes, though when they feel free to insult instead of try to find out, they too fall here):

"bias providing a motive to defame by making a false statement may be a relevant consideration in evaluating other evidence to determine whether a statement was made with reckless disregard for its truth."

When it comes to law, I am inclined to mention this whenever I remember it in an appropriate context:
http://rabett.blogspot.com/2014/09/a-note-about-roger-revelle-julian.html

Please read it all. Canman, when you talk of freedom, you miss the point. Please go read the rest, as Fred Singer is still a spider at the center of this web. These things are not equal. The loss of freedom belongs to honesty and truth these days. Here is the first bit verbatim from the link above:

1. Fred Singer is the most unethical scientist, in my opinion, that I have ever met. I said so in the early 1990s, publicly, and I am still confident in the truth of this statement.

2. The worst decision I ever made in my life was to provide a retraction of my statements in the early 1990s about Singer's nastiness. The retraction was coerced. It was required to stop the SLAPP suit brought against me by a conservative think-tank in Washington that wanted to keep Fred Singer in action.

3. I was 95% certain that I would win my case in court. But my wife was terrified. In fact, she was terrorized by this lawsuit. We had three young children. .... She was scared we could lose our house and all our assets. We new it would be a 2-3 year ordeal that would drain our resources and attention. The folks at NRDC and EDF chose to not step in; we couldn't afford the $100k+ that the lawsuit would cost. Defending for a year took an enormous amount of my time. That is the meanness and force of a SLAPP suit.

4. Singer distorted my words in his legal complaint and then even more so in his publication in the Hoover Institution volume. Singer flat out lied in that text about my role (and his wife, Candace Crandall contributed to this smear campaign). This chapter is not a sworn statement.

Susan Anderson said...

Clickable link, I hope

Bernard J. said...

"I hate to see the right of people to say what they think...get trampled in the process.

Susan Anderson has already commented about it, but it bears reiteration. This suit is not about attacking people's right to say what they think. It's about holding them accountable when they choose to say something in "reckless disregard for its truth" and so saying this defames the person that they chose to attack. Steyne can say anything he likes, but if he can't defend what he says then he has to pay the consequences.

"I hate to see... my right to read what they say they think get trampled in the process.

What you're in fact saying is that you want the right to read/hear other people recklessly disregard the truth in order that they can make accusations contradicted by evidence, and that defame people.

That says a lot about the sort of person you are...

Canman said...

Susan A, It looks like Mann is doing the same thing Singer did -- filing a SLAPP suit.

Bernard J, Do you really want to see the courts set a precedent for determining scientific truth at the start of the Trump administration?

snarkrates said...

Canman,
This is not about scientific truth. This is about the ability of scientists to do their jobs without being subjected to harassment and calumny. Neither CEI nor Steyn have ever shown the slightest interest in scientific truth.

Scientific truth is still determined in the pages of scientific journals, over coffee and beer at scientific conferences and in the hallways of scientific institutions. Funny though, the denialsits have nothing to say in these venues.

Kevin O'Neill said...

Canman - as pointed out in the OP - truth is the one possible defense that appears to have been abandoned. It ain't about truth. It's about the ability to tell lies without penalty.

BTW, in case you haven't noticed, courts often determine life and death. We place upon them responsibilities far greater than determination of scientific truth. I'm sure that little bullet point sounded good in your mind. It should have stayed there.

Bernard J. said...

"Bernard J, Do you really want to see the courts set a precedent for determining scientific truth at the start of the Trump administration?"

The courts won't be "determining [any] scientific truth". The courts will rely on the evidence from the scientific literature and from people best qualified to interpret it to arrive at their own understanding of the scientific implications. Then the courts will look at whether Steyne and his co-defendants "reckless[ly] disregard[ed this scientific] truth" as it is established by the scientific profession.

And yes, I am quite happy for courts to do this, even though I am despondent that humanity is insufficiently progressed that it shouldn't have happened in the first place. If someone is wilfully, deliberately and with malice aforethought misrepresenting the science, and defaming its practitioners in the process, then go for it hammer and tongs. All the more so because this defamation of the scientists and denial of the science is a part of a demonstrable campaign to prevent global warming mitigation - a campaign that presents a serious danger to the future of our biosphere. Those responsible for creating such risk should most certainly be held accountable.

Russell Seitz said...

If Canman and Bernard expect to be hired, they'll have to find some better cliches before the inaugural.

Tom said...

Some lessons are never learned.

Never advocate measures that would be dangerous in the hands of the opposition.

Canman said...

Bernard J:

"What you're in fact saying is that you want the right to read/hear other people recklessly disregard the truth in order that they can make accusations contradicted by evidence, and that defame people."

You're damned right! I demand "the right to read/hear other people recklessly disregard the truth in order that they can make accusations contradicted by evidence, and ..." and make complete fools of themselves!

EliRabett said...

At the time Singer filed his suit there were no anti-SLAPP laws, an important distinction. CEI and NR have had their attempt to characterize Mann's suit as a SLAPP action thrown back in their faces by the DC CofA, something else Can and Tom should keep in mind.

Brian said...

There is an argument made by some lawyers and judges that defamation should be legal, as per Canman, and people should be able to outright lie about others' career and work without legal recourse against them.

We don't live in that world, though, but in one where there's an expectation of at least something of a legal restraint holding back CEI and National Review from saying the exact same things as anonymous commenters on a reddit thread.

I think we're better off in this world than that one. Another important benefit of Mann's suit is that I bet both CEI and NR at least slightly less deceptive than they otherwise would have been, since the suit was brought.

PG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bernard J. said...

"Never advocate measures that would be dangerous in the hands of the opposition."

One would hope that one lives in a properly-functioning advanced democracy, where regardless of 'side' the same basic values of human rights, equal opportunity for all, access to a viable ecosphere, and tolerance of difference are fundmental tenets. Where the basic processes of one's democracy operate no matter which 'side' is in government, and which side is in opposition.

Of course, if one has a broken system where it can be hijacked and sent from being an operational democracy to being a fascist kleptocracy in a single election cycle, then one may have a small problem. Especially if one is barracking for the jackboots right up to the point that they line one against the wall.

Bernard J. said...

Hmm, was about to respond to PG (I think it was) but his post evaporated. Ah well!

Russell, I'm very glad that I don't have any need or desire to be hired in Trump's America. For my USAdian friends and colleagues though, I'm more than a little apprehensive.

PG said...

@Bernard J

I misread or more precisely didn't read Susan Anderson's attribution re Justin Lancaster. She did not mention him in the body of her post but that is no excuse.

As you may have read in my comment (now deleted), I have avoided reading about Mann's litigation because I have yet to recover from my own. I will stay silent until I have reached some level of knowledge in this matter.

Bernard J. said...

PG, I was more than a little distressed to read of your own experiences. The rest of us who have not been through the litigation mill are blissfully unaware of the effects, and your few paragraphs made Mann's own situation a bit more real for the reading. I find it even more inexcusable that Steyne and his brethren do what they do, and I am well into negative respect territory for those who barrack for them... probably somewhere near the red line on the contemptometer.

PG said...

My litigation in no way compares to that of Michael Mann's. Mine took only 2 years. The respondents were a statutory planning authority and a non-complying business. It was purely a matter of self interest and despite my "win" starting it was the worst decision of my life.

Mann's action in defamation is paradoxically, the very opposite of self interest.

Mann must prosecute this as far as he can with our continuing financial support.

In my deleted post I suppose I was trying say to that Justin Lancaster was absolutely correct in elevating his family's well being above his need to assert the truth about Singer. His retraction was a highly moral lie and he should never consider it a mistake. History has vindicated him whereas litigation could have destroyed him.... even if he won.

snarkrates said...

Canman: "You're damned right! I demand "the right to read/hear other people recklessly disregard the truth in order that they can make accusations contradicted by evidence, and ..." and make complete fools of themselves!"

Because that's worked out so well in the past...Goebbels, Soviet disinformatsia, the 2016 Presidential election...

Canman said...

Snarkrates, Having the courts decide what is scientifically true is a step in the direction of Goebbels and Soviet disinformatsia -- an unchallengeable party line.

Hank Roberts said...

> appellants and Mr. Steyn are deeply invested
> in one side of the global warming debate

Follow the money.

Hank Roberts said...

PS shouldn't that read

"appellants and Mr. Steyn are deeply invested in" _by_ "one side of the global warming debate"

?

bluegrue said...

This does not look good, at all. First the Trump transition team requested the names of the people who had worked on climate change initiatives under the Obama administration (and paddled back). Now Congress has reinstated the Holman rule, which allows the payment of individual federal workers to be reduced to $1 (requires majority in House and Senate).

Hank Roberts said...

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-01-04/house-gop-gives-staff-broader-new-powers-to-grill-witnesses

---excerpt follows----

A little-noticed provision approved Tuesday by the U.S. House dramatically expands the powers of committee staff to haul private citizens and government officials to Capitol Hill to be questioned under oath -- without any lawmakers present, in some cases.

The Republican-authored change included in a House rules package marks what Democrats says is a disturbing trend of giving staff powers that have traditionally been reserved for members of Congress.

“After spending six years demonstrating their eagerness to spend taxpayer money on wasteful, politically motivated witch hunts, Republicans are giving themselves additional tools to do more of the same," said Representative Louise Slaughter of New York, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee.
...
..."Freely handing out the power to compel any American to appear, sit in a room, and answer staff’s invasive questions on the record -- without members even being required to be present -- is truly unprecedented, unwarranted, and offensive," she said.

...
... Republicans confirmed that the new rules package extends wider deposition authority to more committees. In the past, some witnesses tried to use members’ busy schedules to avoid being deposed, according to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office. For the past two years, five panels had been granted the wider deposition power under a pilot program that is now being expanded, his office said.

A spokeswoman for the Rules Committee said the authority was used in the previous Congress several times, including by the Energy and Commerce Committee to obtain documents involving drinking water problems in Flint, Michigan.

Susan Anderson said...

My apologies for not naming Justin Lancaster; I hope people will go to the link and read the whole thing. Of all the contemptible things I've read, the story he tells rates pretty high. But it looks like in the coming years it might get worse. I am, as I said, deeply grateful to Rabett for providing a venue for that statement.

Canman, Michael Mann's situation and standing are not vulnerable to bullying in the same way. But you should not be hoping to victimize the truth and all those who stand up for it.

I have contributed to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund and UCS and hope others who can afford to will also do so.

The House Rules change Hank Roberts mentions is disturbing too. Sadly, they think it's about power but forget our earth is more powerful by far than they.

I read this summer in a New Yorker article about Trump's planning that Gingrich was an admirer of the McCarthy House Unamerican Activities Committee and hoped to put in place something similar.

You have been warned.

I hope my fellows who care about community and caring, tolerance and expelling kleptocrats, need to stop fighting with each other and blaming moderates and pragmatists for what these monsters are doing.

[I had to force quit my computer while I was reading this; people should also take protective measures for their own security. We still live in pockets of freedom, but that is not guaranteed if people prefer TV personalities, demogogues, and kleptocrats to those who aspire to be public servants.]

Hank Roberts said...

I'm afraid the takehome is that lawsuits are successful at stealing away time that could be used for research -- although they make time for outreach and explanation to the public. As Peter Ward points out, the way to reach the upcoming population is to create video games.

Russell Seitz said...

".As Peter Ward points out, the way to reach the upcoming population is to create video games."

Captain Planet and Duke Nukem are still zorching away at the popular imagination, and Peter Ward is still trying to defund the disagreeable

snarkrates said...

"I was never ruined but twice; once when I lost a lawsuit and once when I won one."
--Voltaire

Canman said...

Snarkrates, Does your Voltaire quote mean that you've come around to my position that Mann's stupid case should be dismissed?

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

I can speak for snakerates, but I've long ago come to the conclusion that Canman is just plain stupid and his thoughts can be dismissed.

Mal Adapted said...

Canman: "Snarkrates, Having the courts decide what is scientifically true is a step in the direction of Goebbels and Soviet disinformatsia -- an unchallengeable party line."

As has been repeatedly shown here and elsewhere, this case is entirely about scurrilous, politically motivated libels by Steyn and Simberg against Mann. Canman, however, still thinks it's about the scientific veracity of the hockey stick, and makes his own motivation clear with irrelevant political references. It will be interesting to see how he reacts to the outcome.

snarkrates said...

Canman,
I 100% agree that courts have no business deciding science. They are not doing that here. Courts often rely on expert opinion and authorities to establish what is true in the world beyond the law. There is nothing wrong with that. Is it your contention that if Steyn had said, "The Earth is flat. Therefore _insert authority on planetary geology_ is a doo-doo head," the court should make no determination as to whether the planet is in fact flat?

Moreover, since CEI et al. are not claiming truth as a defense, your contention is irrelevant.

Canman said...

You people seem awfully confident that Steyn and Simberg were maliciously trying to defame Mann. You don't think they believe what they wrote? The case against Simberg really looks week. Does anyone truly believe Mann did not mannipulate data? It's a widely known meme that Mann used some sort of method that would produce hockey sticks from random data and it's based on fact. McIntyre and McKitrick published a paper in GRL showing it! Was Mann's hockey stick a fraud? Is it reasonable for someone to think it was? To someone who's looked into it, it carries more baggage than the luggage compartment of Donald Trump's 757! I think a public airing of Mann's behavior is going to be a big embarrassment for climate science. He's been nasty, obstinate and been caught in at least a couple of lies (the EXCEL spreadsheet and whether he computed R squared). It'll be interesting to see how his lawyers argue that not reporting failing R squared results isn't fraud.

Russell Seitz said...

It's a widely known meme that Mann used some sort of method that would produce hockey sticks from random data and it's based on fact. McIntyre and McKitrick published a paper in GRL showing it!

II's a widely known meme that it's the sun that causes climate change , and its based on fact. McIntyre & McKitrick's pals published it on a billboard in Calgary.

The difference is that Mann's corrigendum on data splicing methods appeared in Nature uver a decade ago , fixing what was wrong, but the idiotic defamation of the guy continues- You missed the ball, so stop playing the man.

Canman said...

The two Macs also published a longer paper in EE along with their snarky AGU poster. To my knowledge, Mann has never repudiated short centered PCA. In his book, he calls it modern centering and conflates it with Stephen Jay Gould's analysis of IQ in his book, The Mismeasure of Mann. I wonder what Gould would say if he were alive today?

elspi said...

" It's a widely known meme that Mann used some sort of method that would produce hockey sticks from random data and it's based on fact. " That is a lie. It is a lie told by McIntyre and McKitrick. The "paper of theirs was pure fraud. That is where the fraud was.

you're welcome

elspi

snarkrates said...

Canman,
The statistical techniques from Mann et al. 1998 were innovative, and not all of the innovations were rigorously correct. However, they were not unreasonable, especially given that Mann is not a statistician. Moreover, they did not significantly affect the results--as evidenced by the fact that every subsequent multi-proxy temperature construction has the same hockeystick morphology.

Certainly, there is zero evidence that would even suggest any intentional malfeasance by Mann and his collaborators. The two Mc's, not so much. The "evidence" they cited turned out to be a >100:1 cherrypick--not disclosed in the paper.

I cannot say that I am all that impressed by your grasp of the facts in the case.

PS, the Voltaire quote is simply his admonition that one rarely benefits from associating with lawyers.

Canman said...

Well I've argued in blog comments before that M&M's GRL paper's 10 so called 100 to 1 cherry picked graphs were actually illustrative examples. Guess what? I WAS WRONG!!! I just ran across this blog post with 19 comments:

https://hiizuru.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/basic-truths/

It's the best concise summary of hockey stick issues I've ever seen and I've run across a lot of them. In the comments you can see ATTP get his head handed to him by the posts author, Brandon Shollenberger.

McIntyre did show a snarky "which of these 10 graphs is the real hockey stick graph" poster at an AGU convention. Michael Crichton used them in a presentation that is on YouTube. Apparently, the Wegman report used them. McIntyre did make them, but he did NOT use them in his papers. I had casually looked over the papers before and do remember seeing hockey stick graphs, so I just assumed they were in the GRL paper. As the saying goes, "when you assume, you make an ass of u and me".

I will say that the short centered PCA won't change the results of MBH98 much as long as the PC with the bristlecone signal is included. But I would also argue that there is some deception involved. Short centering makes the bristlecones look like the strongest signal when they are not. Also, discovery might uncover evidence that Mann did not use the selection rule he claimed to use. There is also the cherished talking point that McIntyre used the wrong number of PCs in "his reconstruction". McIntyre was NOT making his own reconstruction and in his EE paper he does discuss PC selection. I should also add that short centering is not a previously known technique. Mann just made it up and it is poorly understood. According to Montford's book, The Hockey Stick Illusion, in M&M's first EE paper, they knew there was something wrong with the PCA, but didn't know what. After it was published, Mann made the location of a directory full of data public. McIntyre found some FORTRAN code that contained the short centering method. To be fair to Mann, MBH98 does contain this quote that could be construed as disclosing his "novel" technique:

"The proxy series and PCs were formed into anomalies relative to the same 1902-80 reference period mean, and the proxy series were also normalized by their standard deviations during that period."

It should also be said that Mann is not known for easily read scientific prose and he did not go out of his way to make it clear what he had done.

Canman said...

I suppose I should hat tip to die hard hockey stick defender Caerbannog for the MBH quote:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/review/R1FKROYT51RMC?ref_=glimp_1rv_cl

http://desmog.uk/2015/04/04/how-creation-mann-s-hockey-stick-led-counter-attack-climate-deniers#comment-1950746523

Brandon Shollenberger said...

Canman drew my attention to his latest comment so I wanted to add a bit to it. Before I get to that though, I want to point out this post is wrong when it says:

The first line of defense you as a defendant can use in a defamation case, when you've done a good job, is that what you've said is true.

The first line of defense in defamation is not that what you said was true, but that what you said isn't capable of being true or false. Truth is an absolute and the best defense, but it only applies in cases where what was said is capable of being factually true or false. You couldn't use, "It's true" as a defense then fall back on, "It's just an opinion." The post gets the order on this wrong.

On the issue of the original hockey stick, I want to stress a point which often gets overlooked. Mann's improper form of PCA was not used to combine proxies. It was used to create proxies. It took many tree series from individual regions and combined them into a smaller number (to prevent over-weighting). Of the 22 proxies which extended back to 1400 AD, only four had PCA applied to them. This means whether or not one accepts Mann's improper use of PCA does not determine whether or not he would get a hockey stick.

Ultimately, only 2 of those 22 proxies had a hockey stick shape. One was NOAMER PC1, the other was Gaspe. The other 20 proxies did not have a hockey stick shape. That means the hockey stick shape arises solely from two or ~9% of the proxies. Even worse, the Gaspe proxy was a data series included in the NOAMER data set. To this day, none of the authors of the paper have explained why they used the same series twice. If the Gaspe series hadn't been used on its own, then the original hockey stick would have depended entirely upon NOAMER PC1, a single proxy created from tree rings in one area in North America.

Whatever a person might think about how PCA was used to create that original hockey stick, there is one inescapable fact: The only hockey stick in the original MBH data was tree ring series from one region in North America. I don't think anyone can reasonably say tree ring data in one region of North America can tell us much about temperatures for the entire northern hemisphere.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

I can reasonably say you are a crank full of shit, Brandon. A fraud.

You have cranky BS. I have multiple lines of evidence and dark matter.

F. Off. Oh, and go ahead, sue me.

Chris O'Neill said...

"Was Mann's hockey stick a fraud?"

Mann's 1999 hockey stick agrees with virtually every other hockey stick published since then e.g. https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-6-10.html so unless virtually all hockey sticks published since then are also false (frauds) then Mann's 1999 hockey stick is also not false and not a fraud.

It would be interesting seeing Steyn trying to prove Mann's 1999 hockey stick false in court. Steyn says he would be happy to prove Mann a fraud in court, whatever that means.

Brandon Shollenberger said...

String of alphanumeric characters, you might find comments which contain practically nothing but insults and cursing useful. I don't think many people do, but perhaps you will find some company here.

Chris O'Neill, a person can commit fraud and create "correct" results. If I know the answer to a question, it is very easy for me to cheat to ensure I get it. Claiming a person was "right" does nothing to demonstrate their work was honest.

Moreover, the original MBH hockey stick is quite different from follow-up work. The newest reconstructions are dramatically different, but even the older ones showed notably greater variation in past temperatures. This is easy to demonstrate the MBH reconstruction paired with any other. You can see some examples of such here:

http://www.hi-izuru.org/wp_blog/2015/01/i-hope-im-dreaming/

PG said...

Now that we know Hockey Sticks are as common as muck, Brandon is reduced to the premature anti fascist attack. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/premature_antifascist

Brandon thinks Mann is a fraud because he was a premature Stickist

Chris O'Neill said...

"a point which often gets overlooked"

A moot point of course. The MBH99 hockey stick cannot be truthfully claimed to be false no matter how it was derived because it agrees with the truth, i.e. with other hockey sticks: https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-6-10.html

You cannot defraud using just the truth.

Chris O'Neill said...

"Claiming a person was "right""

No one is CLAIMING Mann was right and using that for an argument. Steyn's alleged defamation was his claim that the MBH99 hockey stick was fraudulent and the implications of that claim.

"The newest reconstructions are dramatically different"

Rubbish. They all (AFAIAA) show probably lower temperatures during the MWP (when they cover the MWP) than the temperature we have now and they all show a dramatic rise in temperature in the last hundred years. Variations around the shaft of the hockey stick are beside the point. It's the lower MWP temperature and dramatic rise in temperature in the last 100 years shown on the cover of AR3 that were supposedly used to defraud us all. Those claims couldn't have defrauded us. They were the truth.

JohnMashey said...

Chris
https://www.desmogblog.com/sites/beta.desmogblog.com/files/STRANGE.SCHOLARSHIP.V1.02.pdf
P.15
PP.134-142

Note that people get confused when they look at spaghetti graph and see bigger jiggles, without bothering to study the papers.

MBH99 was presented as NH, ie 50% of Earth; sone others are higher-latitude, no more than 25%, dominated by areas well-known to vary more.

Better reconstructions with better spread of proxies have straighter shafts.



BBD said...

Chris O'Neill, a person can commit fraud and create "correct" results.

LOL.

Now that we've had the best part of two decades of work confirming the conclusion of MBH99*, can anybody tell me why the deniers are still wittering about it?

Except as a means to keep their denialism polluting public discourse?




*Although NH reconstructions prior to about AD 1400 exhibit expanded uncertainties, several important conclusions are still possible. While warmth early in the millennium approaches mean 20th century levels, the late 20th century still appears anomalous: the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium. More widespread high-resolution data which can resolve millennial-scale variability are needed before more confident conclusions can be reached with regard to the spatial and temporal details of climate change in the past millennium and beyond.

BBD said...

JM

MBH99 was presented as NH, ie 50% of Earth [...] Better reconstructions with better spread of proxies have straighter shafts.

Exactly so. There's a fine example in IPCC AR5 Ch 5 Fig 5.7 panel (c) Global.

Chris O'Neill said...

"Except as a means to keep their denialism polluting public discourse?"

Yes it works but more importantly it works even better with politicians who are so inclined.

Canman said...

Skeletal cabana guitarist LOLing at the notion that a person can commit fraud and create "correct" results,

Have you ever heard of the word "accountability"? Do you want to squash criticism of bad science? That's a step in the road to Lysenkoism!

BTW, if you read Brandon's post and comments, he notes that several later reconstructions use some of Mann's flawed proxies, including NAOMER PC1, the short,... er modern centered PC that contains the bristlecones.

Canman said...

BBD, your linked graphs were interesting, but look at this one that Brandon handed off to ATTP (along with his head) in a comment:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/4520911/Climate/Proxies/Proxy-Ensemble2a.jpg

BBD said...

Skeletal cabana guitarist LOLing at the notion that a person can commit fraud and create "correct" results

I'm laughing because this argument is ridiculous.

1/ The HS has been validated by all subsequent millennial reconstructions in the key respects that NH temps ~1000CE were not as warm as late C20th temps; there was a generalised cooling after the early warmth and an abrupt warming in the modern period.

2/ Different proxy and methodological choices increase centennial variability (shaft gets bumpier) they do not invalidate the original conclusions of MBH99 (see above).

End of story.

You can't make this into 'fraud' no matter what grotesque shapes you contort yourselves into. But you do look silly.

Canman said...

Underwear logo: "I'm laughing because this argument is ridiculous"

If Mann had drawn his "correct" result with a Ouiji board, would it be ridiculous to call it fraudulent?

BBD said...

Canman, if you cannot post a coherent comment, just say nothing.

Chris O'Neill said...

"several later reconstructions use some of Mann's flawed proxies"

OK. Every hockey stick ever determined is a fraud. Have fun with that one.

Chris O'Neill said...

"with a Ouiji board"

If you believe in coincidence then that's your problem.

The fact is that getting people to believe the truth cannot be fraud.

Canman said...

Chris O: "The fact is that getting people to believe the truth cannot be fraud."

You're arguing that the ends (Mann's so called "correct" results, and it's not clear that they're correct) justify the means (Mann's crappy science and his obfuscation about what he did).

BBD said...

Er no, Canman.

The argument is that nitpicking Mann's work has ZERO impact on the scientific understanding of forced climate change.

Its *only* purpose is rhetorical and it is used only to further a political - not scientific - agenda.

This is so obvious I'm always amazed when I am obliged to spell it out.

Old_salt said...

No one seems to remember that Congress asked NRC about the hockey stick, and NRC basically concluded in 2006 that it was valid:
https://www.nap.edu/catalog/11676/surface-temperature-reconstructions-for-the-last-2000-years

You can download a pdf for free. The main point that they made was that there were too few records for 1000 AD at that time to have strong confidence in the reconstruction that far back. However, the reconstruction after 1500 was clearly valid.

BBD said...

The contrarian rhetorical trick with Mann and the HS is simple: they pretend that it matters. They push an entirely false equivalence between Mann and the HS and the robustness of the scientific understanding of climate.

Within this false narrative, any error - real or confected - in Mann's work represents a fatal flaw in all of climate science.

This is so completely silly it barely merits a response, but the ferocity with which the contrarians have forced their false narrative into the discourse has caused many to forget that it is simply bollocks.

We should remind them of this simple, often overlooked fact every time they drag their old, tired tricks out again.

As always, they have nothing.

Chris O'Neill said...

"You're arguing that the ends justify the means"

No I'm not. I'm pointing out that the legal definition of fraud using a document (such as the MBH99 graph) requires that that document itself be false. The MBH99 graph is not false, therefore it cannot be the cause of fraud.

"it's not clear that they're correct"

It is clear that MBH99 is correct or not false in the way some have claimed because it says the same thing as virtually every other hockey stick. It can only be false if virtually every other hockey stick is also false.

"Mann's crappy science"

That's a matter of opinion. I'm simply talking about the facts of legal definition which is what would matter in court. Steyn's bluster notwithstanding, he won't be able to prove that the MBH99 graph is a false document in court, which is why he's working on a different defence.

Chris O'Neill said...

"They push an entirely false equivalence between Mann and the HS and the robustness of the scientific understanding of climate."

Ironically, they often make a false non-equivalence between the MBH99 hockey stick and every hockey stick derived since then, as in "don't mention that THE hockey stick (it's nearly always THE) agrees with the most important aspects of virtually every other hockey stick".

"any error - real or confected - in Mann's work represents a fatal flaw in all of climate science"

Yes the irony is that part of their narrative requires ignoring or distancing the relevant part of climate science (all the other hockey sticks) and then making aspersions about climate science in general.

Canman said...

The claim that the hockey stick is fraudulent has nothing to do with whether the resulting graphs are true, whether other graphs "confirm" it or any other part of climate science. The claim of fraud has to do with the robustness of the flatness of the handle. It's indisputable that the original paper (to 1400) depends on 2 of 22 proxies. There was a directory called censored that showed Mann knew this, at least before he extended it back to the millennium. He did not report failing R squared results in the original paper, while he did report them for a part where they didn't fail. He made up his own version of PCA that put the bristle cone signal in the first PC, when it would otherwise be in the forth. He used the bristlecones even though the guy who collected them said they shouldn't be used as temperature proxies. There's other stuff like extending the Gaspe series and using it twice. I don't think it's unreasonable for someone to have the opinion that all this makes the hockey stick fraudulent -- especially in an editorial blog post for an opinion magazine!

Kevin O'Neill said...

Canman - wrong, incorrect, sub-optimal and many other words do not equal 'fraud.'

Try again.

Wait - don't bother. I'm sure I'm not alone in categorizing you as a complete and utter idiot. These questions were examined and answered long ago. It's funny that the same arguments persist from those of your ilk despite the answers science has provided. It's why the 'denier' label fits; you deny science. Wahl & Ammann pointed out more errors with MM&M than they did with MBH98.

You're wrong. You're boring. You're a dunce. Your brain is running bad code and none of us here know how to fix it. Go seek help elsewhere - you need it. Sorry if that seems harsh. It's not meant to be. It's just the facts.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

I don't think it's unreasonable for someone to have the opinion that all this makes the hockey stick fraudulent

Sure, for a fraud like Canman who has never done even the smallest amount of original research in his life, that seems completely reasonable. Science is weird, it's almost always wrong but yet it's right enough to move into volume manufacturing and it always progresses. That's how science works, Canman. You get right by being wrong. For instance :

http://lifeform.net/archimedes/Quantum_Cosmology.pdf

I didn't like how things were progressing, so I gave it a kick in the ass and then created an entirely new domain of science.

Complete with a new particle.

Original research.

And wrong.

Chris O'Neill said...

"The claim of fraud has to do with the robustness of the flatness of the handle."

Rubbish. IIRC, Steyne himself said the fraud was using the MBH99 hockey stick graph to get us to believe it is now warmer than the MWP and that there has been a dramatic rise in global temperature in the last hundred years. Those things are unaffected by the robustness of the shaft, for which the MBH99 hockey stick has error bounds encompassing other reconstructions during the MWP anyway.

"all this makes the hockey stick fraudulent"

Trouble is, it doesn't matter what you call the process that produced a document. The truth or otherwise of a document depends on whether the document is true! The MBH99 graph is not a false document because it agrees with the truth. The MBH99 graph cannot be used on its own to commit fraud since it is not a false document.

"an opinion magazine"

Just a pity he wrote as if it was a statement of fact like you do above rather than opinion.

Chris O'Neill said...

"the opinion that all this makes the hockey stick fraudulent"

I should have also pointed out it is not a matter of opinion whether the MBH99 graph is fraudulent. It is a matter of fact that it is not a false document because it agrees with the truth. It needs to be a false document to be in any way "fraudulent".

Chris O'Neill said...

"he wrote as if it was a statement of fact"

OK Canman you did write as if you were stating opinion above but that's not how Steyn etc wrote. Refer to the court's judgement.

snarkrates said...

Believe it or not, there is logic to Canman's approach. At the present time, there is so much evidence showing that he is simply flat-assed wrong in his opinions about Earth's science that the only hope he has is for the entire scientific enterprise to be fraudulent.

Since this is about as likely as Canman winning a Nobel prize, he concentrates on a single paper by a single group of authors, thinking that if he can just prove this one paper the result of fraud, it will make his position at least slightly less risible.

The burden he faces is increased by 1)the fact that there is zero evidence of intent to deceive by Mann et al.; 2)the fact that even the most controversial statistical techniques used by Mann et al. were reasonable enough that experts disagree on their validity; 3)the fact that even the most critical of the actual experts (and the two Mc's do not fall into this category) do not allege intent to deceive; 4)the fact that those who do allege intent to deceive are themselves guilty of intent to deceive; and 5)the results of Mann et al are not out of family compared to every comparable reconstruction since.

Poor denialists! It's not fair to hold them to such high standards when all of physical reality is biased against them!

Bernard J. said...

Shorter Canman: "Isaac Newton is a fraud because (logical fallacy 1, logical fallacy 2, ..., logical fallacy (n), and oh, (fallacious reference to) Einstein!"

The guy is an idiot.

The trouble is, the idiots are now in charge.

Canman said...

Snarkrates: "At the present time, there is so much evidence showing that he is simply flat-assed wrong in his opinions about Earth's science that the only hope he has is for the entire scientific enterprise to be fraudulent."

Well, I definitely sense a desire among the scientific establishment to down play an embarrassing episode, which makes me suspect all the inquiries were whitewashes. Take the NAS Panel for example. It is often credited with vindicating Mann's science by hack journalists such as Chris Mooney in this Atlantic piece (I set him straight in the comments):

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/05/the-hockey-stick-the-most-controversial-chart-in-science-explained/275753/#article-comments

They said trees from the US south west (code for bristlecones) shouldn't be used. Gerald North said they agreed with Wegman on Mann's statistical methods. What did they say about nondisclosure of adverse R squared results?
Here's Stevie Mac in a comment at Lucia's Blackboard:

"When I got a chance to comment, I sharply criticized the NAS panel for sitting there like bumps on a log and not resolving a simple question that could have been resolved (and which they had been asked to resolved.)

Afterwards, panelist Doug Nychka told me that they had noticed Mann’s answer and their silence didn’t mean that they hadn’t noticed it. However, they also failed to grasp the nettle in their report, completely neglecting the issue, even though it was one of the main questions in the original Barton letter. According to Cicerone in JUly 2006, the House Science COmmittte, which had commissioned the NAS panel (not the House Energy and Commerce Committee) refused to pay NAS for the project because they had failed to deal with the issues that they had asked about."

http://rankexploits.com/musings/2014/looks-like-steynnrceisimberg-dont-get-their-anti-slap-dismissal/#comment-123101

Chris O'Neill said...

Canman said... blah, blah, blah.

And yet, Mann came up with a truthful document, the MBH99 graph.

BBD said...

Canman

Which bit of my previous comment didn't you understand? Sorry if I used any big words.

The contrarian rhetorical trick with Mann and the HS is simple: they pretend that it matters. They push an entirely false equivalence between Mann and the HS and the robustness of the scientific understanding of climate.

Within this false narrative, any error - real or confected - in Mann's work represents a fatal flaw in all of climate science.

This is so completely silly it barely merits a response, but the ferocity with which the contrarians have forced their false narrative into the discourse has caused many to forget that it is simply bollocks.

We should remind them of this simple, often overlooked fact every time they drag their old, tired tricks out again.

snarkrates said...

Canman: "Well, I definitely sense a desire among the scientific establishment to down play an embarrassing episode, which makes me suspect all the inquiries were whitewashes. Take the NAS Panel for example."

The prosecution rests.

Canman said...

Chris O'Neill and Snarkrates,

You guys didn't address any of my points about the NAS Panel. Let's hope Steyn's defense doesn't let Mann and his big tobacco lawyer get away with it.

Canman said...

Misspelled Underwear Logo (coherent enough for you?):

"The contrarian rhetorical trick with Mann and the HS is simple: they pretend that it matters. They push an entirely false equivalence between Mann and the HS and the robustness of the scientific understanding of climate."

If you watch the beginning of Stevie Mac's video, you'll see he specifically says that he doesn't think the Hockey stick is that important, but that skeptics have a right to be irritated because it was emphasized so much:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w09W-mLSkxg&t=67s

PS: Sorry about the word play with your handle. I couldn't resist.

BBD said...

You guys didn't address any of my points about the NAS Panel.

Because:

Effect on scientific understanding of climate = zero

Effect on Mann's conclusions = zero

Effect on climate policy = zero

You need to understand that your worthless little FUD-slinging games are toxic rhetoric with no purpose except to push a rotten little political peanut. And I'm not going to give your guff the time of day because that helps you keep the propaganda war on climate science on the road.

but that skeptics have a right to be irritated because it was emphasized so much

Another self-serving lie from the denialist / useful idiot camp.


BBD said...

PS: Sorry about the word play with your handle. I couldn't resist.

That's okay, Trashcan.

Mal Adapted said...

canman: "The two Macs also published a longer paper in EE along with their snarky AGU poster."

The evidence for canman's political bias accumulates.

"EE" would be Energy & Environment, founded in 1999 specifically to provide a "peer-reviewed" publication outlet for AGW pseudo-skeptics. The quotes around "peer-reviewed" are ironic, as EE's editor Sonia Boehmer-Christiansen freely admits she allows her political agenda to influence what she publishes: "I'm not ashamed to say that I deliberately encourage the publication of papers that are sceptical of climate change". In another interview, she revealed that she was born in the former East Germany, and said "I was born in the Nazi era with one set of consensus, then brought up by the communists where there was also strong consensus. So just by nature, I’m very suspicious.”

Having said that, she nevertheless took advantage of plaintiff-friendly British libel law by having her publisher send Gavin Schmidt a threatening letter for saying, in a RealClimate post, that E&E had "effectively dispensed with substantive peer review for any papers that follow the editor's political line." Gavin stood by what he posted, and heard nothing further from the publisher.

Even some high-profile pseudo-skeptics of AGW don't consider E&E a credible venue. Roger Pielke Jr., for example, regrets publishing in it in 2000, saying "[E&E] has published a number of low-quality papers, and the editor's political agenda has clearly undermined the legitimacy of the outlet".

Unfortunately, politically-motivated AGW-deniers like canman are well aware of the public's woeful lack of scientific meta-literacy, and don't hesitate to exploit the claim that Energy & Environment is "peer-reviewed" to give undue legitimacy to their favorite pseudo-skeptical memes.

Chris O'Neill said...

Canman, your points are totally and utterly irrelevant to Steyn's and others defence against Mann in court, as was indicated at the beginning. Even if Steyn tried to argue in court that the MBH99 graph is a fraud, he is doomed to fail because it is not a false document. If he was silly enough, he could try arguing it was an attempted fraud because it was produced using an allegedly fraudulent process (like you are claiming) but resorting to claiming the MBH99 graph was just an attempted fraud in spite of being truthful would make Steyn look stupid, like you.

Chris O'Neill said...

"skeptics have a right to be irritated"

Global warming denialists deserve every bit of irritation they get.