Monday, August 27, 2012

These Aren't Merely "Negative Things"

Judith Curry writes:
"I am trying to figure out what Mann is trying to accomplish with these lawsuits.  I guess he is hoping to intimidate people into not saying negative things about him?" 
I don't get that at all. Simberg wrote that Michael Mann engaged in "data manipulation." Mark Steyn called his work "fraudulent." Those aren't merely "negative things" -- they are statements about Mann and his co-author's integrity.

Being wrong would be one thing. Being dishonest is something else entirely, and it seems to me Mann is here defending his integrity and personal reputation, not the correctness of his scientific findings. Who wouldn't do the same? Scientists, like everyone else, have the right to be wrong. That alone does not give anyone else the right to impugn their integrity.

And, just to be clear, I don't know of any evidence whatsoever that Mann et al were dishonest in their hockey stick work, or that it is obviously wrong. It seems important to me that several other groups, and completely independent mathematical methods, have found essentially the same results. Are there reasons to argue about the details of normalization, centering, etc? Sure -- that kind of thing is always part of any science and happens in science all the time. Besides the M&M papers, there is this one by Peter Huybers (and MM's reply). But Simberg and Steyn were not doing that, of course.

[I am at the point in all this where to say anything more I'd need to completely work through everyone's calculations, which isn't going to be my priority. Peter Huybers' calculations are here.]


D.J. Andrews said...

As a scientist, your reputation rides on your integrity and honesty. Engage in fraud and your days as a scientist are over (we have numerous examples of this in just the past two years--none in climate science, I should add).

Dr. Mann should get the review to retract its remarks.

If Dr. Curry doesn't understand this, then perhaps it is because she left science a few years ago(?).

Matt Arkell said...

Unfortunately for Mann, it's going to be a case of heads they win, tails he loses. If he wins, the crazies will declare yet another conspiracy, if he loses, they'll claim Curry is vindicated.

The only real hope is that anyone actually paying attention who hasn't realised that Curry is hopelessly biased would come to that conclusion.

The crazies will believe what they want, and at this point, no amount of data will change that I fear.

David Appell said...

What does Curry have to do with any of this, other than expressing an opinion?

Desertphile said...

Ms. Curry is being irrational of disingenuous. Many hundreds of people, perhaps thousands of them, have said negative things about Dr. Mann, and he has not been forced to sue them; the subject is libel and defamation. I can state that in my opinion Ms. Curry is an ignoramus who is controlled by her neo-libertarian pseudo-conservative "free market" ideology, and she will have no legitimate grounds for suing me; if I had stated she fabricated her data, I would have to step forward and produce evidence and if I failed she would be more than justified in suing me.

Is she really too stupid to understand this?

William Connolley said...

I guess another question to ask is " what [Curry] is trying to accomplish with these [blog posts]".

J Adler said...

Desertphile --

You are wrong on the law. As Michael Mann is almost certainly a public figure, the burden is on him, not on Steyn. Specifically, he has to be able to show, first, that Steyn's comments were not simply hyperbolic political commentary, and then that the claim was provably false and that Steyn and NR acted with "actual malice" (i.e. they knew the claims were provably false) or that they acted with "reckless disregard" of the truth or falsity of the claims.

kT said...
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