Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mark Steyn: Wrong on the Science, If Not More

Mark Steyn, who seems rather perturbed at having to defend his own slurs in court, still seems to be ignorant of the science he writes about.

If you're going to insult a climate scientist, wouldn't you at least try to get a bead on their work??

Steyn doesn't. He writes:
...I’m currently being sued in the District of Columbia by Dr. Michael Mann, the eminent global warm-monger, for mocking (in America’s National Review) his increasingly discredited climate-change “hockey stick.”
What planet does Steyn live on? What journals does he read? The hockey stick isn't discredited, at all -- and certainly not "increasingly" so. It seems to me that the Mann et al work has never been more confirmed, what with several confirmations over the years, including the independent mathematics of Tingley and Huybers, the Holocene-wide study of Marcott et al, and the vast PAGES 2k Consortium study in Nature Geosciences, which consisted of over 70 scientists.

I think Steyn's comparison of Mann to Jerry Sandusky was low, hardly accurate, and scurrilous. And most probably defamatory. (Steyn's claim that Mann and Sandusky were "colleagues" because they were employed by the same university isn't worthy of the intellectualism Steyn pretends to represent.)

But if Steyn wants to defend his right to free expression -- a right most of us also value, within its limits -- then he should stand forthright for that value, without repeating obviously false information about Mann's scientific work.

Simply put, it detracts from Steyn's case -- if he can't understand the work for what it is, and place it in its proper context, how can he possibly put his evaluation of Mann in a proper (and truthful) context?

He can't.

And no pretending, no false bravado, is going to change that. All of the abuse heaped on Michael Mann is only because too many people found his result inconvenient, and, having no legitimate scientific comeback, choose to demonize him instead.

It had been done before (Ben Santer), and it will be done again. (Indeed, Marc Morano has made an industry of it.)

But if Steyn thinks his right to insult Mann was proper and legal, then he should defend his right on its own terms and principles. Pretending Mann's science is bad detracts from Steyn's case -- and, I suspect, not only for those who do understand the science.


  1. I might have some sympathy for Nobel-prize winning Michael Mann if he were more temperate in his own language when describing his "opponents".
    Further, rightly or wrongly, a massive cloud DOES hang over the "Hockey Stick" study and you are being willfully blind not to admit it.

  2. Steyn IS defending his right and part of the pre-trial tactics used by every good lawyer is to paint your accuser as a less than honorable person. That's expected standard operating procedure and for Steyn not to do so would mean he isn't defending himself. You may not like the legal games but they all involve publically attacking the person suing you. Obviously you see it from a different perspective than lawyers.

  3. Mann is not a Nobel prize winner, and neither is any other member of the IPCC, including their chairman. Their names do not appear on the record for the Nobel Peace Prize and anyone that attaches that term to any contributor to the IPCC has made a false claim. They would be exaggerating. Surprising that.

  4. Jack Savage:

    You think Michael Mann should be more temperate? Then let his opponents (or "opponents" as you call them, as if they were really on his side) restrain their far less temperate language.

    I do agree that there's a cloud hanging over Mann's work, especially the Hockey Stick study. However, it's a cloud of smoke puffed up by those who, for whatever reason, can't handle the truth of global warming. That cloud really needs to be blown away.

  5. Papa Zu:

    The problem with your idea is that Steyn was using that language before there was any need to defend himself against Mann's defamation suit. That Steyn continues to use it is more a doubling down than a defense.

  6. S. Davis:

    I was able to Google up the page naming the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winners in a few seconds.

    That page names the IPCC and Al Gore. True, it doesn't list all the contributors to the IPCC. But the fact that you think this means those contributors don't share in the IPCC's prize is short-sighted at best.

  7. Ah, how interesting - Steyn is presenting himself as a Speechy warrior, a sort of Q-ship type disguise that rightwads tend to run under here in Canada - the idea is that a right-wing commentator should be able to say absolutely anything that crosses his or her mind, without tedious considerations of libel, truthfulness, or any of those other small concessions to reality and lawfulness that the rest of us feel obliged to make. This is because they're fighting for Free Speech. Surely anyone can see that. Steyn should be able to say anything he likes about Mann because, well, Free Speech.
    I live to seeing Steyn beaten like a rented mule in this case. That oughtta take the beau sabreur smirk off his mug. And there's no hazard to the soul in this - seeing a Speechy take one in the shorts and relishing the sight carries no moral penalty.

  8. Steyn is nothing but another wingnut blogger, whose party line is to knock down any proof of global warming. He's a shill for the oil industry and not even an American. That faction seems to think that if they repeat a lie it creeps closer to being true. That isn't the way the real world works, though, and ours is heating up. Mann proves this.