Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Lawyers Bail on Mark Steyn

ClimateScienceWatch reports that Mark Steyn's lawyers have dropped him as a client in the defamation lawsuit being brought by Michael Mann.

Lawyers leaving a sinking ship in the wake of the recent legal reset? Or is it that Steyn can't seem to stop picking at his own wound, keeping up the baiting, name calling, and unconvincing hyperbole:
The only "denialist" here is Dr Michael E Mann. He wants to deny his critics the right to engage in satire, in word-play, and (in the NR/CEI case) metaphor and analogy. Because he is too insecure and dull-witted to defeat his opponents in debate, he insists they must be denied basic freedoms - from freedom of information to freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry to freedom of parody. 
Because apparently comparing someone to a pedophile is now just a part of the "political debate":
All this while spending the fall on the campaign trail and in TV ads as an explicitly political activist. So a political figure is also insisting that he, uniquely, must be beyond the usual rough-and-tumble of political debate.
If this is now what's acceptable, just part of the morning's discussion while the nation has coffee at the local diner, what's past the boundary and into the unacceptable? I don't even want to try and imagine it....

Worse, Steyn is seeking to rewrite history. Simberg's and Steyn's obnoxious comparison of Mann to Jerry Sandusky came long before Mann ever participated in Terry McAuliffe's campaign for Virginia governor., and were instead based on Simberg's fantasy that Mann "molested and tortured data." Their remarks weren't based on Mann's politics, but on his science.

91 comments:

Brad Keyes said...

"Their remarks weren't based on Mann's politics, but on his science."

Or to express it clearly:

Their remarks weren't about Mann's politics, but about his science.

Which is a good point, and Steyn's adjectival slide in that article, is pretty lazy by Steyn's normally-muscular standards.

So, unusually, I agree with David:

Steyn and Simberg attacked Mann qua scientist, so they'll have to justify themselves ON THE SCIENCE.

Which shouldn't be hard. :)

Thomas Hauenstein said...

In Completely Unrelated news...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2415191/And-global-COOLING-Return-Arctic-ice-cap-grows-29-year.html

Douglas said...

What's beyond the pale would be falsely accusing someone of being a pedophile. No reasonable person could possibly have thought that is what Steyn was saying about Mann. Steyn's remarks may have been insulting but they clearly weren't libelous, even if they weren't protected by the First Amendment.

jim bo said...

"No reasonable person..."

Therein lies the rub...and the nub of one question to be judicially determined. If caustic metaphorical comparatives are rendered judicially verboten, you've removed an arrow from the quiver of the First Amendment.

David Appell said...

Defamation was never an arrow in the quiver of the First Amendment.

David Appell said...

Which shouldn't be hard. :)

Really? The hockey stick has been replicated about a dozen times by now, some using completely independent mathematical techniques. Or maybe you didn't know that.

David Appell said...

In Completely Unrelated news...

Yes, it is unrelated -- yearly fluctuations in Arctic ice have to do with weather, not climate.

Though perhaps you are unaware that Arctic sea ice extent is currently 118,000 km2 _below_ what it was one year ago.

jim bo said...

"Defamation was never an arrow in the quiver of the First Amendment."

Didn't say it was, so spare us the strawman non-sequitur.

David Appell said...

Didn't say it was, so spare us the strawman non-sequitur.

You said "caustic metaphorical comparatives," which include defamations.

SDSali said...

First, lawyers are not permitted to quit just because they think their client has a losing cause. Second, the decision of the court of appeals was a win for the defendants not a loss. Third, Lawyers are required to stop representing a client if there is a convict of interest. On the issue of the replication of results, the problem is the data set not just the method. Mann et. al. cannot, of course, measure actual temperatures 500 years ago that were not measured at the time because modern means of measurement were not available so they use "proxies". For the non science people, that means something like measuring rainfall by seeing if your sidewalk is wet. The problem is, of course, that your sidewalk can be wet for reasons other than rain. Similarly, Mann et al. use tree ring data. The problem with that is that there is not a totally reliable connection between temperatures and tree rings. See this web page. http://theclimatescepticsparty.blogspot.com/2012/05/m-project-replication-analysis-of-mann.html

jim bo said...

"'...caustic metaphorical comparatives,' which include defamations."

Feel free to cling to your belief that a "metaphorical comparative" is a de facto "defamation". I suspect you'll learn otherwise as this case progresses.

David Appell said...

I didn't say it was de facto defamation, I said it includes defamation.

David Appell said...

SDCali: Scientists are (of course) well aware that more than one factor can influence climate proxies, and have done a huge amount of work on trying to understand them -- here is just one paper, almost 50 years old:

"Growth-Rings of Trees: Their Correlation with Climate," Harold C. Fritts1, Science 25 November 1966 Vol. 154 no. 3752 pp. 973-979
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/154/3752/973.abstract

jim bo said...

"I didn't say it was de facto defamation, I said it includes defamation."

That you did...so let me restate...

Feel free to cling to your belief that a "metaphorical comparative" can ever rise to the level of "defamation". I suspect you'll learn otherwise as this case progresses.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Seems to me the only legal question is whether Steyn merely compared Mann with Sandusky or whether he actually called him a pedophile, correct?

You could compare me with Barack Obama, but that wouldn't necessarily mean you are calling me an inept president.

dwick said...

The hockey stick has been replicated about a dozen times by now, some using completely independent mathematical techniques. Or maybe you didn't know that.

And when the underlying data isn't cherry-picked, the hockey stick has been refuted or at least called into question just as many times if not more by now. But I'm sure you know that.

David Appell said...

It's not merely the pedophile comparison, it's labeling Mann's work "fraudulent."
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/309442/football-and-hockey-mark-steyn

No evidence of such fraud has ever been demonstrated in several reviews of Mann et al's work or by other scientists. Or by anyone.

David Appell said...

And when the underlying data isn't cherry-picked, the hockey stick has been refuted or at least called into question just as many times if not more by now.

Where can I read those peer-reviewed papers? (No, blog posts don't count.)

Doc said...

All this 'climate change' blah-blah is hilarious. Some folks seem to think that I should take their word for it that 'the science is settled' or whatever, but frankly they don't have enough credibility with me for me to even bother to click a link they post. The onus is on someone who wants me to believe something I can't perceive to demonstrate said credibility, especially if they want me to take or support action that I would find onerous. Yakking away that this or that scientist 'says so' doesn't cut it. I know enough about the way academia works to seriously distrust such testimony, even if I were to bother to look it up.
As for the legal issues, more yak-yak. Steyn is hilarious, and the fact that a judge would allow Mann's suit to go forward is further evidence that we don't deserve to survive.

David Appell said...

Doc puts the onus of the proof on others (instead of looking it up for himself), then says he won't click on any links, presumably because he might learn something.

He's created the perfect cocoon for himself -- demands proof, but won't look at it. Can't lose!

xyudd ndo said...

Dave, the law isn't determined by what you think is acceptable. But I suppose you'd think it was acceptable if Martin Bashir talked about defecating in your mouth. A bit hypocritical, don't you think?

I also like the way you completely avoid the facts of the case, yet you expect people to simply accept your assertion about "unconvincing hyperbole". Whatever.

Unknown said...

You global warmists have squeeze this scam as much as you can. All money scams have to come to an end. Move on to some other profitable venture....

David Appell said...

At least Bashir had the decency to apologize.

David Appell said...

Unknown: Just curious -- do you think the Earth doesn't emit infrared radiation, or that carbon dioxide doesn't absorb it?

Brad Keyes said...

"Really? The hockey stick has been replicated about a dozen times by now,"

I think you'll find that's irrelevant to the case, which will revolve around Mann's scientific propriety, not the temperature in the Middle Ages. In other words, never mind the score: did Mann play by the rules or not? I'm referring, obviously, to the rules of science.

The answer is pretty clear if you consider (and know!) the fact that Mann was STILL revealing, in dribs and drabs, the enabling details of his methodology... Seven. Years. Later.

That's right: seven years after it was published, MBH98 *still* didn't meet the definition of a scientific work. It was occult, inimitable and therefore (as far as I'm concerned) a piece of creative writing.

I can't remember what your field is (physics seems likely though!) but as long as you're a scientist, the events reported in this newspaper article will ring all sorts of alarm bells for you, which a civilian might not even hear:


Ding ding ding.


"some using completely independent mathematical techniques. Or maybe you didn't know that."

Whoa! So, if I understand you, you can get a hockey stick no matter whether they use the right mathematical tool for the job, or some arbitrarily [?] chosen *inappropriate* tool? Just to clarify—was the irrelevance of the choice of technique supposed to ASSUAGE my incredulity? Was it supposed to make dendrothermometrists seem MORE like grownup scientists?

How did you envision that working? Because it didn't.

If they both knew what they were doing AND were honest, they'd have picked the right tool at the start and they'd agree to stick to it. By (apparently) granting themselves licence for a methodological free-for-all, they establish the classic conditions for descience. The lack of ante-hoc rules all but guarantees they'll fool themselves into producing the normative answer. They've embarked on a path to delusionsville even if their intentions are unimpeachably honest and skeptical—and PARTICULARLY if their guiding ethic (personal or institutional) is "effectiveness!"

Of course, I've assumed there is one best tool for the problem. Am I being too simplistic? No. It doesn't matter if there are (somehow!) a number of EQUALLY good tools—if that's (somehow!) the case, the honest scientist obeys a convention *TO KEEP HIMSELF HONEST.*

David Appell said...

Brad Keyes: That's ridiculous. Mann et al met all the standards of any peer-reviewed work -- even more, as it appeared in Nature.

Their results have been replicated many times:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/mann2008/mann2008.html

No reviews of their work have found anything like what you are claiming.

David Appell said...

DDD: No, you didn't understand me at all. Or, more likely, pretended not to.

Brad Keyes said...

David,

we don't need "reviews" to tell us about events that have already been reported upon in newspapers.

I honestly don't know what to make of a sentence like:

"No reviews of their work have found anything like what you are claiming."

Anything like.... what?

That Mann was still holding onto enabling details about his work SEVEN YEARS LATER?

What "review," exactly, do you recommend we look to for ratification of what appears to be a simple historical fact, David? Specifically. Please show us the review that *examined* that "claim" and found it to be false. Please show us a "review" that says No, contrary to what was falsely reported in newspapers, Michael Mann was NOT still revealing, in dribs and drabs, the details necessary to retrace his mathematical steps SEVEN YEARS LATER.

It's not like I *enjoy* being forced to rely on the lay media's version of the story, David. It's just that it seems to be the only version extant. It's a case of "He said, she just sat there not speaking." Prove me wrong. Show us what these "reviews" say—anything they say!—on the question of "How many years did Mann spend witholding enabling details of... &c."

David Appell said...

Brad Keyes: Vague and unsourced accusations are meaningless.

Let's see the evidence that supports your claims.

Michael K said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brad Keyes said...

David:

"Brad Keyes: Vague and unsourced accusations are meaningless."

I submit that this accusation is kinda specific:

"Mann was still holding onto enabling details about his work SEVEN YEARS LATER"

But it's more fleshed-out, and attached to bed of facts, by the article I've been quoting all along:

Now it is both sourced and no-vague.

Any other excuse to avoid taking it seriously?

Brad Keyes said...

Non-vague, I meant. Whose antonym describes my cognitive state at this precaffeinated hour. Please bear with us while normal service is restored.

David Appell said...

A Wall Street Journal article??? Give me a break.

Do you have any real scientific evidenc or not? So far it clearly appears "not."

David Appell said...

This blog deals in science. Start providing it.

Brad Keyes said...

"Do you have any real scientific evidenc[sic] or not? So far it clearly appears "not."
...
This blog deals in science. Start providing it."

Then this blog has nothing to say on the Mann/Steyn/Simberg fight, a fight which will not be decided (or shouldn't be decided, if the defense has half a brain) on the basis of the temperature during the Middle Ages but on the scientific propriety of Mann's behavior before, after and in relation to the publishing of MBH98. Let me repeat the only question that should matter: Did Mann play by the rules [of science]? But we are now asking about human beings, aren't we?, and about their deeds over time—history, in other words (though it's effectively fresh enough to be called "current affairs" or "news.") The unavoidable questions will include what Mann wrote and did and said and when; the answers to which you can't even pretend to know if you genuinely do have a taboo against all non-peer-reviewed or non-scientific or non-scholarly sources! You can't even hope to keep your readers abreast of the case if your newly-announced contempt for the lay press is indeed a principled policy here, and not just some affectation tailored to the short-term imperative of minimising/dismissing my argument right here and now concerning Mann's actions.

(Have I misunderstood you—is it only some particular news sources you rule inadmissible? To take a wild stab: "conservative" news sources, anything property of the Murdochracy, etc,…? Whereas more ideologically-congenial journalism might meet your standards for consideration? Because I'm not sure if this is a more reasonable and promising epistemological strategy, or an even sillier and more delusion-prone one, than the previous idea of a blanket ban on all muggle discourse.)

I'm afraid the scientific literature simply can't give us the decidedly METAscientific information we need if the question of "fraudulence" is to be adjudged.

Brad Keyes said...

Some of my fellow "so-called "skeptics"" upthread are, in my opinion, barking up the wrong bristlecone pine. They seem to have bought into the same premise as those opposite: that this case somehow hangs on whether the Hockey Stick is "correct." I confidently disagree.

Suppose, as the case unfolds, that the HS is eventually discredited once and for all—though it boggles the mind to imagine two non-scientists achieving this scientific breakthrough in a non-scientific forum—what will it mean? (Besides a climatic stay of execution, an existential reprieve for the human race itself, worldwide celebration, etc.—hahaha—but I mean, aside from trivia like that: what will it actually mean for Mann v Steyn/Simberg/NRO?) It wouldn't follow that Mann had done anything fraudulent. He would be guilty only of the crime of being wrong, and only because his data and methods led him to that pass. There is no shame in being incorrect, as most scientists are about most things most of the time. His graph would simply join the approximately 99% [last time I checked] of published findings which, for whatever reasons, will never be confirmed on replication. This statistic doesn't give commentators the right to slander 99% of scientists or their work as "fraudulent." To repeat: in science, it's not a crime to be wrong.

Conversely, let's suppose the Hockey Stick is successfully portrayed to the jury (truthfully or otherwise) as the most accurate and plausible picture science has painted to date of our planet's recent thermal history. Would this be proof that Michael Mann played by the rules of science? Of course not! To be sure, it would become slightly more likely, all things being equal, that he'd acted scientifically in all MBH98-related matters, seeing as that is the best known way to get the right answer in science. But this wouldn't be dispositive, not by a long shot. There are an infinity of invalid, unscientific ways to get the right scientific answer while wearing a labcoat—which is my way of saying, there is an infinity of possible pseudoscientific (and ipso facto fraudulent) behaviours that could have led to the same outcome.

So I don't care if the HS graph is physically veridical! Well, I do—it may have implications for the planet—but not for the purposes of commenting on this lawsuit. And we should hope the court isn't waylaid into spending undue time on such a low-yield (and practically unanswerable) question.

Focus, people!

This is about fraud—specifically, intellectual fraud—specifically, the practice of pseudoscience—not about global mean temperatures during the Black Death.

tonylearns said...

David,

Brad is absolutely right. this is about Fraud, and if Mann engaged in pseudo science, if his scientific work is NOT based on science, if he purposefully made up data in order to achieve a predetermined conclusion, then he is certainly guilty of fraud and Steyn and NR cannot be found to have been libelous.
And he is right, that if Mann's paper was completely wrong BUT it was conducted in a scientific manner but there were mistakes or information that was relevant but not known, or in some other way lead to incorrect conclusions but was based on valid a the time understandings, then Steyn, Et al WOULD be subject to libel.
of course that second option is not applicable because if his results were wrong, there would be no reason to libel him, and this situation would not have occurred.
As this is a civil trial there is no stringent "beyond the shadow of a doubt" my understanding is there must be a preponderance of evidence.
So all Steyn's team has to do is show some significant evidence that MAnn engaged in fraud. It doesn't have to be conclusive just enough to make it reasonable for someone to entertain the idea realistically.
SO, I m sure that Brad is at this moment, finding that evidence. Considering Mann is possibly the most analyzed scientist in history it should be all over the internet. It should be ESPECIALLY easy because there are all those climate-gate emails to and from Mann. Since they were private messages, Mannn would have had no reason to hide his fraudulent actions, especially knowing that so many people were desperately searching for it. And he likely would have asked for help in hiding that fraud or somehow protecting himself form it's discovery. Brad will produce the email where Mann admits to falsifying data or to ignoring data or to in some way making sure his data leads to his predetermined conclusion.
I have read over a hundred of those emails and didm;t find anything like that, But David, maybe you are aware of such an email and can point Brad to it.
Of course in the unlikely event that Mann was cagey enough not to incriminate himself on those emails, then being as that paper is published and all the data is available , it should be easy to show that Mann's methods were fraudulent and led to a conclusion that did NOT fit the data.
Of course since all the other reconstructions using similar or wildly different methods come to the same conclusions, it seems extremely bizarre that someone would falsify data in order to create a result that would be what one was looking for if one DIDN'T falsify data.
My theory is that he DID falsify data AFTER he had done his research, and he made the falsified data resemble the actual data and planted this paper so that deniers would find it, accuse him of fraud and he could sue them, and get rich as well as discrediting deniers and undermining the first amendment so that a probable black socialist president could then restrict free speech and allow the climate change conspiracy to destroy the economy of the world.
See that Mann is smarter than the deniers think

Brad Keyes said...

David,

"A Wall Street Journal article???"

I'm as impressed by the Argument From More Than One Question Mark as the next guy.

But have you READ THE ARTICLE yet? It wouldn't be very intellectually mature to ignore a historical document just because you don't share the politics associated of the editors of its superdocument.

If I didn't read newspapers whose editorial sympathies annoy the shit out of me, I'd still think Michael Jackson was alive.

What I'm trying to say is, if this is about political sides (rather than some higher principle), man up.

Marketing said...

Brad Keyes,

The article is behind a paywall/log in but the context suggests you're talking about Mann refusing to hand over the program code he used for his 1998/1999 reconstruction papers. The data he used for these reconstructions had nothing to with him and could be obtained through the same open channels as Mann used. That makes charges of inability to check his work very weak. Anyone wishing to could simply come up with their own method for reconstructing hemispherical averages using the same data, and seeing how they differ.

You can argue the benefits of making such code available but it's clear that, at the time, refusing to do so on the grounds of intellectual property was entirely normal practice around science. It may be that Mann was using IP as an excuse for not providing his work to people he didn't like (a well-worn scientific tradition going back to Newton), but it wasn't unusual practice to withhold code for this reason.

In any case his code has now been readily available for over seven years (SEVEN YEARS) and the results were replicated using the same method and a modified method in Wahl and Ammann 2007 (SEVEN YEARS AGO). It's therefore absurd to be citing this as an argument which might be relevant to a court case occurring SEVEN YEARS LATER.

Joseph W. said...

Defamation was never an arrow in the quiver of the First Amendment.

On this point you are mistaken. Read a good article about New York Times v. Sullivan or even the case itself. It's one of the seminal free speech cases of the 20th century and it's all about defamation. I bet you've read about it before.

To prevent public figures from squelching free speech, the Supreme Court articulated a standard that protects quite a lot of defamation - as long as the speaker believes what he is writing. It doesn't matter if the speaker is right, or even if he took reasonable care to make sure he was right; if he believes it, and it's about a public figure, he's protected. And if the plaintiff can't allege facts that would prove he didn't believe it, to a very high standard, then the case should be dismissed (as this one should have been).

Judging by the complaint and briefs I've seen, Mann's only argument that Steyn didn't believe what he wrote is that "U. Penn. and a Parliamentary committee and some other bodies all exculpated me." Tacit argument: You can't possibly disbelieve them! Therefore, you disbelieve your own arguments and have "actual malice" (in the legal sense). Believe the government - or else!

Now that is simply a horrific argument. It says that governments and public universities have the power to anoint their favorite sons with the Oil of Exculpation - so that whoever criticizes them in public is subject to expensive defamation suits. The very thing Sullivan and the cases that follow it were designed to stop.

Or put it this way. Suppose Governor George Wallace had "investigated" Sullivan and exonerated him, and various other bodies -- like the then-segregated University of Alabama, the Knights of the White Camelia, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans had all done the same. Should New York Times v. Sullivan have come out differently?

Of course Sullivan would've sworn that he wasn't trying to shut down free speech, only recover for libelous statements - but his motives didn't matter; he didn't have proof to meet the standard.

Brad Keyes said...

Marketing,

I appreciate your (or anyone else's for that matter!) confronting my ideas—or a reasonable reconstruction of them—head on. You make several good points with whose logic it's hard to quibble; then again, you also make several points that might have been obviated by reading the WSJ article.

Which you can't do.

I apologise for that. For some reason I can read it, though I don't remember subscribing!... (Then again, I've been told I'm a conservative when I sleepwalk—so it could have happened at some ungodly hour in the morning.)

With the caveat that the following excerpts do NOT do justice to Regalado's story, I give you...

——————————
Statistician Francis Zwiers of Environment Canada, a government agency, says he now agrees that Dr. Mann's statistical method "preferentially produces hockey sticks when there are none in the data." Dr. Zwiers, chief of the Canadian agency's Center for Climate Modeling and Analysis, says he hasn't had time to study Dr. Mann's rebuttals in detail and can't say who is right.

Dr. Mann, while agreeing that his mathematical method tends to find hockey-stick shapes, says this doesn't mean its results in this case are wrong. Indeed, Dr. Mann says he can create the same shape from the climate data using completely different math techniques.

...

Dr. Mann and scientists close to him viewed this as a political attack, not science. Dr. Mann offered a strong rebuttal of the Canadians' 2003 journal article, explaining that it didn't correctly apply his techniques. In doing so, however, he revealed details of his data and mathematical methods that hadn't appeared in his original paper.

When Messrs. McIntyre and McKitrick pointed this out to Nature, the journal that first published the hockey-stick graph, Dr. Mann and his two co-authors had to publish a partial correction. In it, they acknowledged one wrong date and the use of some tree-ring data that hadn't been cited in the original paper, and they offered some new details of the statistical methods. The correction, however, stated that "none of these errors affect our previously published results."

Mr. McIntyre thinks there are more errors but says his audit is limited because he still doesn't know the exact computer code Dr. Mann used to generate the graph. Dr. Mann refuses to release it. "Giving them the algorithm would be giving in to the intimidation tactics that these people are engaged in," he says.
———————————————

I've drafted a response to your comment, which I can post, but I'd rather we were on the same page w.r.t. the historical events first. I'm not sure how best to fill in the rest of the story detailed in the WSJ, though.

If anyone has any lateral-thinking suggestions on the paywall problem I'll gratefully hear them!

Regards,

Brad

PS Am I right in guessing you have more of a humanities than a science educational background? I ask purely for intersubjective page-synchronisation purposes :-)

Brad Keyes said...

Joseph W,

you inform us that

"It doesn't matter if the speaker is right, or even if he took reasonable care to make sure he was right; if he believes it, and it's about a public figure, he's protected. And if the plaintiff can't allege facts that would prove he didn't believe it, to a very high standard, then the case should be dismissed (as this one should have been)."

I'm a foreigner, but the above was always my understanding of US doctrine. Therefore I was more than a bit perplexed when this lawsuit wasn't euthanized months ago—so much so, I thought I'd misunderstood the law. So I hope you don't mind my asking how you know all this, and how sure you are. Are you, for example, a US lawyer?

Anyhow, given the above, this would seem to be a non sequitur:

"Believe the government, or else!"

Surely Mann's case requires a less Orwellian, if more delusory, idea than that—viz.:

"Even right-wing government-distrusters like Steyn trust the government."

So Mann's case suggests to me an (absurd) indicative, not an imperative. If I've misunderstood, please let me know.

Brad

Paul S said...

Brad Keyes,

It's me who (mistakenly) posted as Marketing. That's someone else who uses my computer.

Your excerpt is basically what I was expecting and I think is a reasonable representation of the history up to 2005.

My background is an odd mixture of humanities and computer science.

-------------
Regarding Joseph W's post - One thing he skips is that "actual malice" includes "reckless disregard for the truth": If the defendant has made no real attempt to check a claim it suggests they didn't really care whether the claim was true or not.

The existence of published inquiries on the topic means ample information was available to contradict a claim of fraud against Mann. Either Steyn didn't find such well-publicised and readily-available information or decided to ignore it before publishing. Either way would indicate "reckless disregard", at least to establish a prima facie case anyway.

As you conclude this was the first test for the case and was passed several months ago, though I haven't really been following and I understood there has been at least one Judge substitution since then - not sure where the current status of the case stands on this point.

Joseph W. said...

Brad -- Yes, I am a U.S. lawyer (To which I suppose I should add that I am not establishing an attorney-client relationship with anyone through my comments here - if you get or anticipate getting into a libel situation yourself, reading my comments is no substitute for discussing matters with your own lawyer, which I am not.)

The particular standard I'm discussing is known to every law student who completes a Constitutional Law course (first year in most schools), and even good high schools and undergraduate programs sometimes teach it. I'm glad you had the right understanding and wish more of our own citizens did.

"Even right-wing government-distrusters like Steyn trust the government."

Or, if they don't, and publicly say that they don't, they will get their pants sued off under the assumption that they really do secretly trust it. More Orwellian or less? Either way - deeply, seriously wrong. But I think you understand the argument well.

One thing he skips is that "actual malice" includes "reckless disregard for the truth": If the defendant has made no real attempt to check a claim it suggests they didn't really care whether the claim was true or not.

I used the words "didn't believe" to cover both "knowing falsity" (i.e., you disbelieve the thing you say) and "reckless disregard" (i.e., you neither believe or disbelieve the thing you say, but rather you don't care if it's true or not). But you are quite right that the Supreme Court's First Amendment standard can be met by either of those.

As the Supreme Court later explained in St. Amant v. Thompson, "There must be sufficient evidence to permit the conclusion that the defendant, in fact, entertained serious doubts as to the truth of his publication." That's what Mann's complaint is completely lacking. (It would be a different story if Mann were not a public figure on this issue; in that case Steyn would have to exercise "reasonable care" in checking what he said.)

Mann's complaint (at least the original; I haven't seen the amended one) doesn't say Steyn failed to check anything. It says that U. Penn. and other entities cleared him, that Steyn must've known about that, and this is the implied basis for charging "actual malice." (i.e, it implies he simply must have checked, and believed these sources).

The problem is that this implicitly requires Steyn to believe the government when it speaks, instead of believing the contrary voices that say Mann manipulated and tortured data. Yet Mann has no evidence at all that Steyn did so believe.

(In fact, the standard would lose most of its teeth if you could meet it by alleging that "somebody else says your statements are wrong" -- whether that somebody else is the government or not. It's just especially creepy to see it argued with governmental authority.)

jim bo said...

"There must be sufficient evidence to permit the conclusion that the defendant, in fact, entertained serious doubts as to the truth of his publication."

That is a stunning precedent (assuming it is a precedent) as applied to complaint VII. Thanks for that.

Of complaints I-VI (defamation by metaphor? et al), I am rather confident they will be dispatched rather quickly under Judge Weisberg's re-consideration (which Mann is apparently loathe to endure).

Brad Keyes said...

Paul,

Thanks for your comment, I enjoyed and benefited from it.

You say,

"The existence of published inquiries on the topic means ample information was available to contradict a claim of fraud against Mann."

Let's grant that. So they "contradict" the claim of fraud. So what? If they do, then allow me to contradict them.

I put it to you that Steyn read these pronouncements... and disagreed with them. There's no neurological difficulty involved in such a feat. I've done it many, many times myself. If you've never disagreed with the premises, reasoning and/or findings of a panel of bureaucratic mediocrities you've never met, there's something wrong with you! :-D

"Either Steyn didn't find such well-publicised and readily-available information or decided to ignore it before publishing."

Or he thought they were full of shit.

I can't speak for Steyn, but if someone expected me to outsource my rational and ethical faculties to a conclave of corporate nulls, they'd be making a material miscalculation. For example, if someone expected me to un-know that Mann had spent years obfuscating the provenance of his graph—deliberately retarding human knowledge about the Earth's climate—just because Graham Spanier had fired up MS Word and plugged Mann's name into the pederast-exoneration template, I'd tell them they could take said expectation and supposit it where Trenberth's missing heat is.

"not providing his work to people he didn't like (a well-worn scientific tradition going back to Newton)"

OK, fair enough.

One condition, though: if he doesn't like me enough to show his working, he can't bitch and moan and shout "denier!" when I ignore his claims. Which I probably will.

It's one or the other: you either want me to believe you, or you can keep walking. Plenty of other, more motivated sellers in the credal marketplace—move out the way, Mann.

" but it wasn't unusual practice to withhold code for this reason."

You're assuming IP was the basis for Mann's obscurantism.

It apparently wasn't, because if Mann's amateurish code were considered his IP then either it would still be a feudal mystery or Mann would presumably have been compensated for being deprived of it. All the taxpayers of the earth would have had to chip in to come up with the 40c we owed Mike. I think I would've remembered that.

You say Mann's data was at some point (i.e. an unspecified number of years after the paper's publication) available for checking. That might be right (and we owe thanks to the very people routinely slandered as "anti-science" for the years they spent begging and cajoling and coercing science into doing its job). In passing let's note that the equally important data Mann chose to exclude from his analysis might still be the stuff of speculation and mythology today, in 2014, had one of Mann's colleagues not tipped McIntyre off to the fact that Mann had left the files on an unsecure server, allowing the smallfolk to "steal" the data from its feudal owner. Who knows if Mann would ever have revealed what lay inside the BACK_TO_1400_CENSORED folder of his own free will? I'm having trouble picturing it, for some reason.

You suggest that the eventual liberation and/or relinquishing of Mann's data "makes charges of inability to check his work very weak."

No it doesn't. In order to check someone's work you need to see their working—their intermediate steps. The raw data aren't enough. But you went to primary school, and a lot more school after that; so I don't need to point this out to you.

Brad Keyes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brad Keyes said...

2/3:

Incidentally, computer science as I understand it is more a branch of mathematics than a ["natural"] science. Right? You've obviously abbreviated your CV, but from what I can see, there's no obvious juncture at which your professors would have systematically gone through the principles of science and then examined you on your grokking thereof. In other words, I suspect that you're like the vast majority of well-educated people: no matter how good your knowledge of the sciences (physics, biology, clisci, med sci, psych, etc. etc.), the rules of science itself never really came up in your formal education. I may well be projecting, but you can get a BSc in Australia (and I suspect you can get a BS in the US) without a single lecture on the scientific method. This kind of thing, myopically and regrettably, seems to be taught on a need-to-know basis, and the only people who absolutely need to know it—or so the reasoning goes—are practicing scientists. Which leaves the other 97% of the population unable to tell a scientist from a pseudoscientist at 20 yards.

If you'd been formally inducted into the religion of science, Paul, it'd be dead obvious to you that Dr Mann has been having mad LOLz at its expense. Scientists aren't allowed to do and say what the WSJ reports him doing and saying. Even the reporter, Regalado, doesn't seem to tweak to what's happening in front of his eyes... either that, or Regalado is the most deadpan prose stylist working today. (I'm trying to ask him about this on Twitter tonight.)

"Anyone wishing to could simply come up with their own method for reconstructing hemispherical averages using the same data, and seeing how they differ."

Sure, but analogously, anyone wishing to establish their own soft-drink empire could simply drink a can of Coke, mentally reverse-engineer its unique refreshing taste, whip up a bottle at home, taste it and see how they differ.

We seem to have rather different expectations of a scientific paper: metaphorically,

I view them as patents, you view them as trade secrets.

That was a caricature, of course. :-D !… (However, I do find the patent-law analogy useful at a couple of levels.)

But I can't help thinking of a kind of reductio of the trade-secret view of science:

If we don't accept that there's any need for scientific papers to include what patent lawyers would call enabling detail—if we say it's the responsibility of would-be replicators of a paper to guess the missing and ambiguous steps—then why should scientists bother giving the reader any indication of the method they used?

Wouldn't it be more rational, efficient, and carbonically-correct to ditch the requirement for a Methods section altogether? Think of all the papers churned out by clisci annually. Now, imagine they were free to dispense with the whole middle part, and still be called scientific papers! Think of all the trees that might still be alive today, if not for our attachment to a silly and arbitrary convention.

Brad Keyes said...

3/3

"It's therefore absurd to be citing this as an argument which might be relevant to a court case occurring SEVEN YEARS LATER."

Mann spent at least 7 years passing off a non-scientific, occult, inimitable, secret-sauce paper as a scientific paper. The paper might, as you say, have subsequently been [re]habilitated into the world of science by means of various patches and supplements. To be honest, though, I lost both patience and interest a while ago. Seven years of misrepresenting non-science as science—which is the definition of pseudoscience—is a crime against humanity.

Most non-scientists think I'm being hyperbolic. But it's not their vocation, their ethics, their religion Mann's been shitting on with impunity year after year. It would be unrealistic to expect non-scientists to really get it. The next best thing, I guess, is to spread a kind of functional understanding, a political empathy—by which I mean: I want non-scientists to "understand" why we're pissed off the way they "understand" why Muslims are offended by Koranic desecration.

Science is God to scientists.

OK, your turn :-)

Take care,

Brad

Brad Keyes said...

Paul,

in case you'd like to take the measure of the mann, recall this event:

"Dr. Mann, while agreeing that his mathematical method tends to find hockey-stick shapes, says this doesn't mean its results in this case are wrong. Indeed, Dr. Mann says he can create the same shape from the climate data using completely different math techniques."

Unless I misread it, this is a concession of the truth of McIntyre and McKitrick's entire point.

(The closing babble about using *other* techniques, techniques M&M obviously passed no comment on, is either a red herring or a strawman.)

Mann's concession is quite proper.

But he was singing a rather different tune in private when he emailed his friend Andy Revkin of the NYT to talk him into dismissing McIntyre's and McKitrick's rebuttal.

Do you recall how Mann described the MM paper?

"Pure scientific fraud."

At least he was nice enough to call it "pure" and "scientific"—words it'd be hard to apply to his own work—but look again at the last word.

So Mann's clearly OK with calling other people's work "fraud," and in front of the most powerful environment journalist in America no less... but turn the epithet back on him and he might just sic John B Williams (his high-priced forensic paladin, legendary for getting the Joe Camel character off on charges of advertising to children) on you.

tonylearns said...

WOW,

Brad I will give you props for perseverance and an attempt to "win" by overwhelming number of comments.
But Joseph brings up a good point. If Stein really believes that it is fraud that certainly makes the case harder to determine, but then how do we determine what Steyn believes?
It seems to be libel would be impossible if the defendant can say, "well, I BELieve what I wrote!"
since this is such a high profile issue and Steyn has been following it for awhile he would need to have a realistic source for his belief. Clearly M&M's peer reviewed published paper exposing this fraud would be a valid source and an legitimate support for the argument that Mann's paper was fraudulent.
That way, even with critiques of M&M's paper he could ignore those and use that as his crutch.
Of course there is no peer reviewed article, so it is just their opinions that he might cling to. But so simple to have amend the article he wore and say "some believe" or people have made a case that Mann engaged in fraud". Her of course refused to do that, which is what led to the suit.
Again the fact that Mann's results are completely consistent with EVERY paleo-reconstruction for that time period makes the charge of fraud really bizarre. Either there was no actual support for their conclusion and they made up data or methods to misuse the data for a predetermined conclusion, or there was nothing fraudulent about the paper. Again why use fraud for something that is actually accurate?
I find it funny that you present this idealized myth of science that published papers are pristine and free of any mistakes or inconstancies, so therefore the minor issues with the MAnn paper are so wholly offensive to you when they are not to the scientific community. Certainly fraudulent papers are destructive to science and there is a strong culture to have really fraudulent papers retracted.

But even if you really believe Mann's paper is fraudulent as opposed to having some incorrect aspects, that is a bizarre position because it implies that all the other papers that support Mann's conclusions, both using similar and wildly different methods all come to the same result must be fraudulent too!
you see Steyn is perfectly ware that all the other reconstructions have the same results as Mann's.
So he is accusing Mann of fraud while tacitly acknowledging that the conclusions of the paper are accurate. Or else he is tacitly saying that ALL paleo-reconstructions that include the last thousand years are fraudulent

That brings me to the other option I see that would legally be justified in a verdict that does not support libel - insanity. He can ignore all the reviews of Mann's paper that completely refute the charge of fraud, and suggest a massive conspiracy of all those involved which explains all the other reconstructions. That thinking is extremely common among the right at the moment, so using insanity as a escape hatch for the fraud charge might be a smart legal approach to this.
Of course taking that approach would lead to ridicule and tar his fellow deniers. And judging from his behavior so far, I think the shame of such a thing would be too humiliating to someone as apparently arrogant as he is.

Much better to lose the case or hope that the legal system decides that even though there is no evidence for fraud the first amendment allows people to make malicious statements about people
regardless of whether there is any reasonable support for those statements even regarding something as concrete as scientific research.
And if he does lose, he can continue to howl victimhood and the wagons will be circled around another martyr of the evil socialist scientists.

tonylearns said...

Brad,
Does Mann have any evidence to support the belief that M&M's non peer reviewed paper was fraudulent?
Oh, maybe the fact that Mann's paper is confirmed by every single pale-reconstruction for that time period.
are there any peer reviewed papers that show that Mann's paper results in "all hockey stick all the time"?
Are there analysis of M&M's paper that show their analysis of Mann;s paper is of no consequence regarding their results?
YES there are.
But M&M should be free to charge Mann with Libel if they believe that their paper shows fraud by Mann and as such their paper is an accurate description of Mann's work.
I wonder why they have not done so? He is a well known scientist and calling their work fraudulent is certainly liable to damage their reputation and professional standing and could certainly interfere with their ability to function as scientists.
of course they should give him the opportunity to amend his statement if he legally thinks his words might be libelous and then change them to something more accurate legally.

Freedom Fan said...

It is illegal to mock a climate scientist/political activist.

Unless you are a Liberal in which case you can do just about anything, such as talk about defecating in Sarah Palin's mouth and raping her little girls--no big thang.

Joseph W. said...

If Stein really believes that it is fraud that certainly makes the case harder to determine, but then how do we determine what Steyn believes?
It seems to be libel would be impossible if the defendant can say, "well, I BELieve what I wrote!"


Extremely difficult but not impossible. The trick is there would have to be evidence that, despite what he says, he did not believe it. In the normal case, and in this case, there is no such evidence. (Or, if there is, Mann has not provided it yet.)

And that is the point. Under the Sullivan standard, in the normal case, a public figure cannot recover for public criticism, at least not in the areas for which he is a public figure. And if he can't adduce facts to support that claim in his complaint, his complaint should be dismissed. As I hope this one will be on reconsideration. The case in which a public figure can prove actual malice is and ought to be the extraordinary one, the very rare exception.

since this is such a high profile issue and Steyn has been following it for awhile he would need to have a realistic source for his belief.

No, he would not. That is the point of the "actual malice" standard...the defendant does NOT need a realistic source, due diligence, reasonable care, or any of that stuff. (In Sullivan itself, at least some of the published statements were demonstrably wrong; the Supreme Court didn't care because they found that the plaintiffs had not proved, and could not possibly prove, actual malice under the facts of that case. "You were wrong - and you didn't investigate enough to find out you were wrong" - these things are not enough, not while Sullivan is followed.)

If the court follows the law, then Steyn does not have to have or to prove anything whatsoever. Instead, Mann must prove, to a high standard (clear and convincing evidence), that Steyn did NOT believe what he said. The fact that Mann or you consider Steyn's beliefs "bizarre" doesn't enter into it.

That, I think, is especially important on high-profile issues in a time of intense political polarization. On a wide range of issues, angry partisans frequently consider the other side's views bizarre, insane, or screwed up, and have arguments to back up that view. Regardless of whether they're right...under the First Amendment that's the kind of thing that should be debated freely in public, not intimidated into silence by the threat of libel suits.

Jim Bo - Thank you, and yes, St. Amant v. Thompson is a precedent and a Supreme Court precedent at that. You can read it here.

Brad Keyes said...

Tony whatever:

"Clearly M&M's peer reviewed published paper exposing this fraud would be a valid source and an legitimate support for the argument that Mann's paper was fraudulent."

What are you going on about?

M&M's published rebuttal to MBH98 doesn't even pretend to prove the HS paper was fraudulent!

It simply draws attention to a number of statistical solecisms in Mann's handling of the proxy data, corrects these solecisms, and shows the corrected output.

If the story ended there, nobody would have had any cause to throw words like "fraud" around. Scientists are human, rookie scientists like Mann (who'd only authored one paper before MBH98) are even more human than others, and they're even more human when (like Mann) they lack any background in statistics, and humans make mistakes. They sometimes make a whole cascade of mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes, by sheer dumb luck, conspire to deliver exactly the kind of fitted curve necessary to make you an overnight celebrity, a hero to your coworkers, a cash-cow grant magnet for your University and personal climate science advisor to the President of the United States.

And all of this might—theoretically, I suppose—happen without a single dishonest intention or impure thought entering the mind of anyone involved.

It's possible.

And it wouldn't be a big deal. Science is robust to this kind of accident.

Didn't your mother teach you the saying, "science is self-correcting?"

Because it is.

As long as everybody cooperates.

But if I refuse to show my working, then the scientific community is powerless to correct it. They can contradict, but never overturn, my results. They can publish their own, "truer" findings using the correct method, but they'll never be able to say why mine should be disregarded. So the delusory effect of my false findings will linger on indefinitely.

Who would do this? What kind of human being would spend 7 years obstructing the self-correcting mechanisms of science, thereby perpetuating human ignorance and confusion about the climate?

A descientific anti-science pseudoscientist, that's who.

"Brad I will give you props for perseverance and an attempt to "win" by overwhelming number of comments."

Thanks! I guess I was inspired by climate epistemology, a discipline invented by Naomi Oreskes. In this innovative way of looking at the universe, truth is decided by prolificness. For example, if I were to overwhelm this forum with posts stating a particular viewpoint, then it would become the "consensus."

(A common misconception is that this system is somehow unfair or illogical, because it confuses the number of publications with the number of authors, and thus fails to represent a "consensus" at all. These critics will, without fail, suggest a variant in which duplicate publications by the same author are ignored, so that there is a kind of one-man-one-vote harmony restored to the universe. However, such criticisms make no sense because Naomi Oreskes is a trained historian of ideas, and who the hell are these other people?)

"Does Mann have any evidence to support the belief that M&M's non peer reviewed paper was fraudulent?
Oh, maybe the fact that Mann's paper is confirmed by every single pale-reconstruction for that time period."

Even a GAZILLION pixel-perfect reconfirmations of the Hockey Stick curve by later dendrothermometrists wouldn't begin to suggest fraudulence on M&M's part. McIntyre exposed and corrected fallacies in Mann's statistical reasoning. Deal with it. It happened. You can't change that by waving around other people's temperature reconstructions. Do you understand this, or would you like me to spell out the reason?

David Appell said...

Unless I misread it, this is a concession of the truth of McIntyre and McKitrick's entire point.

It certainly is not, and Mann goes to great lengths in his book to clarify this point.

It's only true if, like M&M, you consider the PC1 graph the only relevant representation of the data. It isn't -- higher order PCs matter too, and Mann et al made t his very clear in their original papers.

Many other papers and other techniques gave essentially the same results, proving that the original MBH papers were groundbreaking in a way that led to a large advancement in the field of paleoclimate:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/mann2008/mann2008.html

“A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years,” Marcott et al, Science v339 n6124 pp 1198-1201, March 8, 2013
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/339/6124/1198.abstract

"Continental-scale temperature variability during the past two millennia," PAGES 2k Consortium, Nature Geosciences, April 21, 2013
http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v6/n5/abs/ngeo1797.html

A confirmation using a different statistical technique was Tingley and Huybers, reported on here:

"Novel Analysis Confirms Climate "Hockey Stick" Graph," Scientific American, November 2009, pp 21-22.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=still-hotter-than-ever

Dano said...

It's amazing to me that the dead-enders are STILL beating this totem. It's as if they've based their self-identity on a falsehood and can't accept reality.

How sad.

Best,

D

David Appell said...

In order to check someone's work you need to see their working—their intermediate steps. The raw data aren't enough. But you went to primary school, and a lot more school after that; so I don't need to point this out to you.

Brad Keyes, your snark is detracting from whatever points you think you're trying to make.

MBH98 had a lengthy section titled "Methods" that laid out in detail the basis of their analysis. The editors and referees of Nature -- one of the best journals in the world -- obviously found it quite sufficient.

Whenever I see someone pontificating about the scientific method and how they understand it while scientists don't, I usually conclude they have no better arguments to offer. Science isn't done like in 7th grade, where they give you a magnet and box of iron filings and have you check off each box listing the seven steps of the "Scientific Method." That's not how real science gets done and it's not how real science gets presented, and papers are published every day that even specialists have to struggle to understand, let alone replicate.

I dare you to replicate the experimental result that found the Higgs boson. I dare you just to get ahold of the data -- all the scores of terabytes of it, and go through all the many choices they had to make about what to keep and where to put it.

That's why, in the case of the Higgs, it was important that two different groups were working on it and both confirmed it. And it was the same for the hockey stick -- several different methods all honed in on the same result, starting with work (like Bradley and Jones) that started *before* MBH98. But MBH98 was a fundamental advancement, even if you or McIntyre or my 9-year old nephew weren't given every last formula needed to write their own BASIC program.

This fetish about what is now ancient history is weird. Nor does any of it justify Steyn's vulgar, obscene and, more importantly, false comment.

David Appell said...

Besides a climatic stay of execution, an existential reprieve for the human race itself

There's another misconception -- the scientific case for manmade climate change stands completely on its own, and doens't need the hockey stick at all.

In fact, by finding no evidence for a global MWP, the hockey stick somewhat *reduces* the risks of AGW -- based on the history of the last 2000 years, it would be less likely there might be a MWP-like natural flucatuation that would add to GHG warming.

David Appell said...

That Mann was still holding onto enabling details about his work SEVEN YEARS LATER?

What detail?

What detail? Specifically? Don't point to some paywalled newspaper article in a newspaper that has an obvious bias against manmade climate change.

So what detail(s)?

David Appell said...

I'm referring, obviously, to the rules of science.

WHAT rules of science?

David Appell said...

So, if I understand you, you can get a hockey stick no matter whether they use the right mathematical tool for the job, or some arbitrarily [?] chosen *inappropriate* tool?

No, you don't understand at all.

Worse, you're being purposely obtuse, in order to throw up enough bullshit so that it looks like there is some controversy when there is not. (Similar in many ways to how McIntyre himself operates.)

And besides all that, it's a waste of time.

tonylearns said...

MY God Brad you are really amazing,
But now that it is clear you are not interested in a rational discussion I can just go ahead and have fun with this.

You Wrote: "Steyn and Simberg attacked Mann qua scientist, so they'll have to justify themselves ON THE SCIENCE."
then in your most recent long rambling You shoot yourself in the foot by saying that Mann IS allowed to have mistakes in his paper, and then bizarrely say that M&M doesn't even "pretend" to show fraudulence.
then in the end you rant about the corrections that M&M made on Mann's paper, that as far as I know are not denied by anyone, certainly not me or David. But they confirm my point that Steyn cannot point to any rational basis for saying that Mann's work is fraudulent.
Then earlier you continue wight he idea that Mann's paper is fraudulent by saying that since every single step of Mann's work was not revealed exactly the way you and other deniers want, sop therefore his work is (you don't use this word but I can see no other way to describe it) fraudulent and even WORSE "So the delusory effect of my (his) false findings will linger on indefinitely.
Yet there ARE no desultory effects because ALL other research just CONFIRMS.
Now apparently denier scientists are the only people who are horrified at MAnn's stealthy hiding of his fraud, but apparently all other scientists in the field didn't care na just did their OWN recontsructions, sometime using the same data sometimes using wildly different methods and came up with the same results.
Results which show the world warming rapidly through the 20th century against the wishes of deniers who desperately don't want that to be true. MY God even Muller who insulted Mann in a way I have not often seen a scientist publicly insulted made study that confirms Mann's and EVERYONE else's study.
So my point that you keep finding a way to avoid. Is why would someone falsify their data or torture their method to produce a finding that is the same as one would by NOT doing so?
I am sorry but I did not understand your rant about Oreskes
and then you rip apart my suggestion about M&M's paper being potentially fraudulent as per Mann's statement. wow you really nailed me on that one.
You are right a gazillion papers supporting Mann's pear would not in any way division that accurate exposure of mistakes in Mann's paper.
and THANK OGD M&M didn't try to use those mistakes (which you say are a normal part of science, glad we agree on one piece of reality) to argue that the conclusions of MAnn's paper were wrong and therefore maybe Mann's pear was FRAUDULENT. No they wrote a friendly note saying . HEY Michael, How is the wife. Listen, great paper here, you really did some groundbreaking work here, and it seems your conclusions are pretty much right on the mark, but you know what. there are a couple of parts that don't work right and they do cause some minor modifications, that don't affect the practical import of your work. This is where you went wrong. Keep up the good work"
funny that the climate gate emails don't treat. these guys like helpful collaborators.

tonylearns said...

part 2
Now Joseph W thinks Steyn has this locked up on the insanity defense. That there is no way to know that Steyn was aware of all the investigations that showed no fraud as something that should be considered when accusing someone of fraud. That Steyn was easily aware of all the studies that support the conclusions of Mann's paper, and yet he could still absolutely maintain belief that Mann's work was fraudulent and accuse him of fraud.
I still think personally his best bet is to blame the denialosphere for allowing him to be deluded by all the ridiculous assertions of fraud against Mann. He can maintain that so many extremist ideologues have accused Mann of fraud that the fact that he knew there is no reason at all to believe Mann engaged in Fraud and that all scientific research subsequent has shown his work not to be fraudulent that the extreme ego boost of having a national platform and being about to Call Mann's work fraudulent is basically impossible for an arrogant propagandist to NOT libel someone like Mann. in which case I think he should be given immunity and put into a witness protection program.
since you insist that the SCIENCE is the key to this law suit and in this last comment you admit that M&M does not suggest fraud and that is the only scientific counter you are using against Mann's science, then the insanity plea based on mass insanity seems like the only plausible choice.
It seems like your rationale for Steyn NOT being libelous is that since Mann "hid" some of his work, even though the findings have been replicated by EVERY subsequent research both by him and others and using the same data and methods and using wildly different data an methods, an the fact that no scientists in the same field have been had any issue with his conclusions, because they are in fact supported by all the other research.
wel that isn't insanity, that is just stupid.
I mean if I wrote a paper that confirmed Mann's findings and it was just complete garbage but. I was hoping that it would somehow make people think I was a scientist, well that would be fraud and I would be happy to have Steyn call me out on it because it would be accurate. Buyt Mann's paper was peer reviewed, you admit the ONLY popper that is in any way scientific was not suggesting fraud, yet somehow you think that Steyn can call it fraudulent, based on what? Apparently absolutely nothing scientific.
Even if Mann withheld vital information about his research that is not evidence of fraud. It might cause suspicion of fraud, but Steyn did not say he "suspected" fraud and he did not explain the basis for his charge of fraud. He just called him a fraud in an national magazine that has hundreds of thousands of readers that are gullible enough to believe him
so actually I think you arguments are fraudulent

Joseph W. said...

Now Joseph W thinks Steyn has this locked up on the insanity defense.

This isn't close to what I said. Firstly, the insanity defense is a criminal law concept, and this is not a criminal trial. Secondly, the First Amendment does not require a defendant to be insane to prevail. It requires the plaintiff (Mann) to prove the defendant (Steyn) did not believe his own words.

That there is no way to know that Steyn was aware of all the investigations...

You are misunderstanding the issue of proof. It doesn't matter whether Steyn was aware of the "investigations." In fact he was aware of at least one - since his column is criticizing, and disagreeing with, Penn State's investigation. Which he has every right to do.

You could find a copy of every one of those investigations on a thumbdrive in Steyn's back pocket, and you wouldn't be anywhere near proving what Mann has to prove in this case.

Mann has to prove that Steyn secretly agreed with Penn State's investigation (i.e., spoke a deliberate falsehood) or else secretly neither agreed nor disagreed with it (i.e., spoke with "reckless disregard"). Otherwise, he must lose - and if he can't allege facts that get him there, his case must be dismissed. That is what I said. Simply knowing the investigations happened is nowhere near enough.

A judgment of exoneration by a public university, a parliamentary committee, the U.S. Department of Commerce, or anyone else is not a lettre de cachet that grants a man access to his critics' life savings. It's an argument to be used in debate.

Lars said...

...rookie scientists like Mann (who'd only authored one paper before MBH98)...

Mann had been co-author on twelve papers before MBH98, actually, Brad.

You can't even get that right.

David Appell said...

Ouch.

Brad Keyes said...

David:

Brad Keyes, your

Just Brad. My name, in the vocative, is Brad. Last person who addressed me as Brad Keyes was my high school Latin teacher. It's abnormal. Speak normally please, David.

snark is detracting from whatever points you think you're trying to make.

If so, that's a serious problem which I thank you for drawing to my attention. When writing to Paul, whose latest communications have been perfectly pleasant, and to whom I don't regard myself as superior at all, the last thing I would want to do is antagonise him, patronise him or otherwise cause us to revert to en garde stances.

(Ergo: Paul, I'm sorry if I came across combatively or rudely and I'll take more care with my tone from now on.)

Brad Keyes said...

"MBH98 had a lengthy section titled "Methods" that laid out in detail the basis of their analysis."

Being keenly aware, myself, that prolixity is the key to honest communication, I congratulate Mann on the "lengthiness" of the Methods section. I only wish lengthiness and truthiness ALWAYS went hand in hand. That'd be a world I'd love to inhabit, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend to a friend or family member.

It is, however, a historical fact (is it not?) that notwithstanding the hints scattered throughout the Methods section, nobody on the planet but Mann, Bradley or Hughes could figure out how to get *their* output from *their* input. The few scientists inclined to so much as attempt this kept getting different curves. (In a healthy science, alarm bells would be ringing right about now.) This situation alone is proof that the paper's reviewers, whoever they were, had been derelict, by the way. Remember, the point of pre-publication peer review is to vouch for a paper's internal validity: ITS results have to follow from ITS input via ITS stated Methods or it's supposed to be sent back to the author for debugging. Yet if memory serves me Mann's original version, as published in 1998, fails to even give a consistent figure for the number of dendro histories used as input! This should have been the first head-scratcher for the mystery duumvirate or troika who were supposed to peer-review it. In a healthy science, at least.

Worse still, this bizarre, seemingly-unsustainable situation—in which a paper described as "science" couldn't be internally replicated, even in principle!, and was therefore simultaneously not-science—would for all we know have been prolonged to this very day if the climate science community had its way.

Fortunately for science, an unlikely hero—the antiscience, far-Right nature-hating sociopath and profligate deceiver Steven McIntyre—had some time on his hands between oil/tobacco/blood-diamond-mining consulting gigs. Some perverse impulse drove him to devote his misanthropic intellect to the unsolved riddle of Mann's missing steps. In other words it would seem, ironically, that McIntyre's very fossil-fuel-drunken hatred of science, Reason and most other liberal-specific values motivated one of the most beneficial and philanthropic exercises in the Age of the Citizen Scientist to date: thus, the Canadian pensioner eventually pieced together (and explained to the rest of humanity) the sequence of steps and missteps by which to turn Mann's input data into the hockey-bacilliform curve Mann claimed was his output. In other words, despite (or perhaps because of?) their visceral enmity to all that you and I both hold dear, David, the Satanic Canadian and his accomplice (a scarcely-less-evil Christ-cultist by the name of Professor Ross McKitrick) helped the climate science community solve a puzzle that had managed to elude everyone for half a decade or more. (A favor for which, apparently, climate scientists will never forgive the Canadians.)

"The editors and referees of Nature -- one of the best journals in the world -- obviously found it quite sufficient."

That these 2 or 3 anonymous historical figures were "obviously" prepared to sign off on a paper that would have scored an F in any University course I've had the privilege to tutor tells me all I need to know about the extent of Nature's academic and ethical decadence, doesn't it?

Brad Keyes said...

Lars,

""...rookie scientists like Mann (who'd only authored one paper before MBH98)..."

Mann had been co-author on twelve papers before MBH98, actually, Brad."

Ah, thanks for reminding me of this, Lars. Yes, I believe he *had* been a co-author on 12 papers.

But how many had he actually authored, i.e. lead-authored? The answer is still 1, unless memory is playing tricks on me.

"You can't even get that right."

Hmm. Certainly I didn't get that right, if "authoring" includes co-authoring.

But your adverb "even" is gratuitous, unjustified and (if I'm not mistaken) almost a bit snarky in undertone. So you might want to be more cautious in your word choice in future, Lars—our host David believes in the "snarkiness detracts from whatever point you're trying to make" school of thought. Although I don't personally mind a bit of snarkasm, I can't help admire David for sticking to this principle—it does help protect the "science communication environment" [Kahan] from man-made uglification. And as a person of integrity, David is hardly likely to waive this principle in your case just because you happen to be on his "side."

Brad Keyes said...

Lars,

as expected, David also noticed the slight bitchiness latent in (and detracting from) your comment:

"Ouch."

I'm still grateful for the information you added to the debate, and will welcome any other (civil) comments that occur to you.

Brad Keyes said...

Dano,

You hit it on the head (though you're lucky to have gotten away with such a high snark content):

"It's amazing to me that the dead-enders are STILL beating this totem. It's as if they've based their self-identity on a falsehood and can't accept reality."

What makes it even more amazing is that, in the same breath, they pretend it's peripheral to The Science™—"it's just a footnote!", "the scientific case for manmade climate change stands completely on its own, and doens't need the hockey stick at all", "it's only the deniers who've elevated it to some sort of iconic status," whinge whinge whinge.

That must be why the very next IPCC Assessment Report reprinted Mann's graph 6 times.

That must be why Mike Mann put more effort into hiding the graph's statistical provenance than Saddam put into evading UN weapons inspectors.

From what I hear Mann is one of those low-profile, self-effacing scientist types. Apparently he agrees the HS graph is fairly superfluous to the overall case and has been blown out of proportion. He even wrote a whole book which (apparently—I haven't read it) spends hundreds of pages describing how the hockey-stick controversy doesn't matter and how we should move on from the whole hockey-stick thing, called "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars" or something. I was going to buy it, I'd physically taken the cash out of my pocket, but then I laughed and remembered how trivial the whole hockey-stick topic was.

Still, it seems to be a kind of "totem" for some people, as you put it.

Brad Keyes said...

David,

I'm feeling pretty silly right now. Somehow, in all these years, I'd never managed to figure out what you've just explained so simply:

"In fact, by finding no evidence for a global MWP, the hockey stick somewhat *reduces* the risks of AGW ... it would be less likely there might be a MWP-like natural flucatuation that would add to GHG warming."

How did this fail to occur to me? The Hockey Stick is GOOD NEWS. Doh!

No WONDER fossil-fuel-funded vested interests and climate inactivists embraced the graph's veridicality immediately and without a trace of their vaunted "skepticism." No WONDER the climate-concerned mainstream scientific establishment subjected the graph to extraordinary scrutiny in a scientifically-paranoid hunt for anything Mann may have overlooked. (As Richard Muller timelessly put it, one has to be doubly suspicious "when a conclusion is attractive.") No WONDER the IPCC buried Mann's good news in the bowels of its appendix.

Brad Keyes said...

David,

lest you get the impression that all your remarks were silly, let me assure you you got something right here:

"Whenever I see someone pontificating about the scientific method and how they understand it while scientists don't, I usually conclude they have no better arguments to offer."

I feel you, brother.

It's always cringemaking when an unqualified illiterate like Lewandowsky, Mooney or John Cook feels the need to share his cretinous guesses about the scientific process with the rest of the world. On one hand, the resulting dog's breakfast of delusions, contradictions and misheard song lyrics apparently pieced together from some combination of TV shows, Oreskes books and flunked 7th-grade classes occasionally succeeds as comedy (in the same genre as that girl on YouTube who tried to reverse-engineer the plot of Star Wars based on her boyfriend's action figures or something).

On the other hand, we all know that for every hundred readers, one or two are bound to possess the right combination of stupidity and gullibility to think the Cooks/Lewandowskys/Mooneys of the world are right (and that Feynman, Popper and their 7th-grade teacher had it all wrong).

Which makes it not so much comical as criminal.

"I dare you to replicate the experimental result that found the Higgs boson."

Because ... ?


"I dare you just to get ahold of the data -- all the scores of terabytes of it, and go through all the many choices they had to make about what to keep and where to put it."

What are you hinting at: did they destroy it, like Phil Jones said he'd do with the entire CRU weather database? I find that hard to believe.

Or are you suggesting—surely not?—that there's some kind of *analogy* between the impossibility of printing out "terabytes" of data in a journal you can find at the average newsagent and Michael Mann's utterly bizarre inability—or unwillingness—to accurately remember and unambiguously describe all the not-particularly-advanced statistical manipulations he personally carried out on his own data? (How did someone as technically inarticulate as Mann even graduate?)

Because there is no analogy.

And I know you're not dumb enough to think there is one.

Perhaps you're banking on one or two readers being that dumb, though.

Brad Keyes said...

David,

it's clear why you're such a busy and successful writer. I really envy your way with words. This is a keeper:

"WHAT rules of science?"

I've been debating climate believalists for years but, to my knowledge, there's never been a pithier, more lucid expression of the premise at the heart of your whole movement. "WHAT rules of science?"! On some level I guess I admire your slogan—despite myself—much the way biologists are said to admire Ebola.

Let's be clear: if you deny the rules of science, or even pretend they can be conveyed to someone like you in 4096 characters or fewer, you have denied science itself. An anti-science ideology cannot be allowed to exist much longer; its leaders are inimici humani generis; the lampposts have already been chosen; and their problems won't end once they're upside-down. They'll then find out there's a soundproof honeymoon suite in Hell reserved for dishonest scientists and their accomplices, and one of the items of furniture is Michael Mann. But until civilization loses its patience with your movement, David, you've been a worthy adversary.

Brad Keyes said...

To prevent some confusion and offense, when I say:

"its leaders are inimici humani generis; the lampposts have already been chosen;"

I am NOT referring to the various people who advocate climate action on the basis of what they imagine is scientific evidence; I mean the people who convinced them it was scientific in the first place.

No honest person, whatever their views on the weather, has anything to fear at climate Nuremberg.

(And it was David Roberts who dreamed up those words, so vent your outrage at Grist.)

Brad Keyes said...

Tonylearns,

I think I owe you an apology.

I believe I've worked out—better late than never!—why you've been so confused about what my position actually is. If so, it's not even your fault, and I shouldn't have gotten impatient with you earlier.

It was this clause that tipped me off:

"you insist that the SCIENCE is the key to this law suit and in this last comment you admit that M&M does not suggest fraud and that is the only scientific counter you are using against Mann's science"

The problem lies in the very first comment[!], where I typed "they'll have to justify themselves ON THE SCIENCE," which (as I think you noticed) makes little to no sense in the context of my subsequent argument.

The construct "THE SCIENCE" is one I normally dislike, avoid using, and make fun of other people for using. (Notice how I only used the phrase on one other occasion in the whole thread, and it was in the ironic form of "The Science™". Search any of my writing on the Internet and you'll see that it's simply not in my [non-ironic] vocabulary.)

This idiom is silly, because science is a process rather than an object. So the definite article in front of "science" doesn't belong there, adds nothing, and is barely English.

With the advent of the climate debate, however, vulgarizers of
"science" suddenly seemed to be inserting a "the" routinely. It's not hard to guess why. By treating "science" as an inanimate object syntactically, they reinforced the popular myth of [climate] science as a settled, canonical body of textbook verities that you had to agree with, on pain of being mocked as a "denier."

Why on earth I typed a sequence of words I personally find so obnoxious, I can only guess.

But I wish I hadn't, because that single mistake appears to have led you, quite understandably, to assume I meant "the climate-change-related conclusions expressed within peer-reviewed science journals," or whatever it is the public pictures in its collective head when that pathologically-lying tobacco millionaire Al Gore says "the science is settled."

No, I didn't mean "the science."

The case won't, and can't possibly, come down to what "the science" has to say about temperatures in the Middle Ages or anything like that. Even if Judge Weisberg could travel back in time with a thermometer, it wouldn't—or at least it shouldn't—make the slightest difference to his verdict. At best he might learn, once and for all, whether or not there really was a global MWP—but he'd be not one bit the wiser as to whether Mann is a fraud, or whether Steyn was lying, or both, or neither.

The case will come down to "HIS science", as David rightly put it—meaning Mann's PROCESS, his [un]professional conduct, his participation in the rules of science. (Or more precisely, as Joseph W points out, it will come down to the defendants' perceptions thereof.)

After all, remember: science is a process.

So I should have typed: "they'll have to justify themselves ON HIS SCIENCE."

Or, more precisely, on HIS SCIENCE as they perceived it at the time they made their comments.

Brad Keyes said...

Tony,

in case this makes it even clearer:

If Judge Weisberg personally verified, in his time machine, the reality of a synchronous international Medieval Warm Period, this wouldn't (or shouldn't!) help his deliberations one bit.

It would NOT follow from this that Mann's work had been fraudulent.

All Weisberg would have proven is that Mann's paper fails to describe historical temperature accurately.

Or as non-scientists might say, Mann['s paper] "was wrong."

Which will come as no surprise to informed persons. After all, Mann's signal is garbled by the (brazenly-admitted) use of "proxies," such as bristlecone pine MXDs, that don't actually work as proxies.

Nobody is suggesting Mann made up his data. (His statistical fallacies may have "tortured" the data, but that's a separate question.)

Why would he invent, or "falsify", real-world measurements? There was no need.

For example, let's say one wanted to make the MWP "disappear." Hypothetically, of course—no sane person would want to do this in real life.

There's no need to lie about what you found. You don't need to pretend not to find a trace of the MWP. You simply need to not find it. The simplest way of not finding something is to look in the wrong place. In other words, measure an unrelated physical variable like the maximum-latewood density of bristlecone-pine tree rings—which you've made sure, by checking in the scientific literature, DO NOT ACT AS PROXIES FOR TEMPERATURE. Since you're using trees which you know, scientifically, are not thermometers, there's little risk of accidentally picking up the evidence of an MWP.

Dirt also works nicely as a non-thermometer. So feel free to spice things up by throwing some Tiljander varves into the cauldron.

As you would expect, these "studies" practically write themselves. Since it's little more than spurious theatre anyhow the choreography is limited only by your imagination.

But none of the above requires falsifying data, as such.

Brad Keyes said...

By the way, this was a joke:

"Dirt also works nicely as a non-thermometer. So feel free to spice things up by throwing some Tiljander varves into the cauldron."

Swamp varves aren't mere "dirt" and they certainly aren't as climatically meaningless as bristlecone-pine rings. There are legitimate uses for them.

However, the Tiljander varves, which come from one specific swamp of which Mann and other scientists in his Facebook friends list seem to be inexplicably and disproportionately fond, do have specific and well-known limitations on their usefulness.

Michael Mann was, I think, the first scientist with the audacity and vision to disregard these caveats.

But then, he's always been a bit of a maverick. If he'd played by the "rules," if he'd heeded the "scientific literature" with its scaredy-cat warnings about bristlecone-pines and how they're "not proxies" for temperature, where would he be today? Teaching freshmen at some third-rate institution in complete obscurity, probably. But Mann is no dime-a-dozen, ordinary paleodentrothermologist. He boldly went where the rest of the scientific world had known better than to go, which is presumably why David calls his work a "fundamental advance."

David Appell said...

It is, however, a historical fact (is it not?) that notwithstanding the hints scattered throughout the Methods section, nobody on the planet but Mann, Bradley or Hughes could figure out how to get *their* output from *their* input.

That's an enormous statement.
Prove it.

David Appell said...

The few scientists inclined to so much as attempt this kept getting different curves.

Which scientists were those?
Specifically?

By the year 2000, Thomas Crowley was already using the MBH results in his own analysis, published in Science magazine:
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/289/5477/270

David Appell said...

David, the Satanic Canadian and his accomplice

Who has confirmed and replicated M&M's results?

David Appell said...

But how many had he actually authored, i.e. lead-authored? The answer is still 1, unless memory is playing tricks on me.

Bullshit.
You can't even take the time to look at his own pub list:
http://ploneprod.met.psu.edu/people/mem45

which shows at least 3 papers on which Mann was lead author, before MBH98.

Duh.

David Appell said...

Brad Keyes - you've lost credibility here, just like all the others.

It's time for you to move on.

Brad Keyes said...

David,

you struggle with this:

" It is, however, a historical fact (is it not?) that notwithstanding the hints scattered throughout the Methods section, nobody on the planet but Mann, Bradley or Hughes could figure out how to get *their* output from *their* input.

That's an enormous statement.
Prove it. "

It's a UNIVERSAL NEGATIVE!

I can't possibly, and won't, and don't HAVE to "prove" it!

Don't you know anything about the rules of discourse?! I'm under no obligation whatsoever to jump through your metaphysically absurd hoop.

The fact that you can't provide a single example falsifying the universal negative I asserted—or if you can, you haven't yet, and I've never seen one—is CONFIRMATION of the assertion.

But I can't PROVE it because, well... didn't you go to university? Do I really need to explain all this?

Brad Keyes said...

"You can't even take the time to look at his own pub list:"

Well since I don't care enough to do so (this being a picayune bit of throwaway trivia) and you can't even take the time to LIST the three you're talking about, I guess I'll never know if I was mistaken or not. Pity. You could've educated a reader. Instead you wasted time moralising.

David Appell said...

I can't possibly, and won't, and don't HAVE to "prove" it!

You not only can't prove your own claims, you can't even take them seriously yourself.

You're even slimier than the usual deniers who show up here.

David Appell said...

I guess I'll never know if I was mistaken or not. Pity.

Pathetic -- can't even be bothered to look at the link given to prove you wrong.

You are a perfect denier.

Brad Keyes said...

"Brad Keyes - you've lost credibility here, just like all the others."

Wow. Lars, Dano... even a nice guy like Marketing/Paul?

This must be some kind of credibility Bermuda Triangle.

And to think, all it took was a trivial alleged slipup: me getting the number of Mann's papers wrong—according to you, at least. (You may very well be right, but you never told us why.)

What's your credibility level right now, David, given your various factual mistakes over the years—I'm guessing it's a lot lower than -1/12! LOL

David Appell said...

Brad Keyes, you are turning into one of the most obnoxious deniers who has ever posted here.

Your credibility is gone. Your time is up. Your latest comments are far off-topic.

Future comments won't be published.

tonylearns said...

David,

If you block further comments that will limit the comedic material he has presented me with.

We had been arguing about the "science"
He posted 10 comments in arrow, which further distinguished him as the master of the Gish Gallup. I was up for nominating him for a new tactic the "Brad balderdash" - make brash assertions with an arrogant dismissive attitude and hope that people reading are gullible and unable to reason well.
I wonder what Brad and Joseph W. think about the latest ruling from the new "unbiased" judge.
his ruling is pretty much exactly what I expected and have been saying here.
and in direct opposition to Joseph's contention a ruling AGAINST Steyn, would have no chilling effect on the 1st amendment, rather it would have a chilling effect on people libeling scientists and thinking they can get away with writing anything they want with impunity even if it is about factual issues and they are completely factually incorrect.