Monday, February 24, 2014

If "fraudulent" Isn't An Accusation of Fraud, What Is?

At the legal blog Popehat (?), Ken White writes:
My view of the case is unchanged. I think the statements Mann attacks are best viewed as opinions expressed through vivid rhetoric and hyperbole, rather than statements of literal fact susceptible to defamation analysis. That view is strengthened by the steady progress of the law since 2012 in cases like Cox v. Obsidian Finance, which I discussed last month.1 The tone and rhetorical flair of the statements, the places they were published, and their entire tenor strongly suggest they were argumentative opinions rather than falsifiable statements of fact. Therefore, they ought to be absolutely protected by the First Amendment.
(My emphasis.) So if calling Mann et al's work "fraudulent" is just "vivid rhetoric and hyperbole," what would you have to call it if in fact you thought it really was fraudulent?

I think that's a good question.

By the way, I found yet another instance where Mark Steyn called Mann et al's work fraud or fraudulent, also in the National Review:
Confronted by serious questions from Stephen McIntyre, the dogged Ontario retiree whose Climate Audit website exposed the fraud of Dr. Mann’s global-warming “hockey stick” graph)....
So that makes three: in 2006 in The Australian, in 2009 in National Review, and in 2012 in NR.


Steve said...

Good work you're doing in the comments thread at Popehat too, David. Calm, cool headed, accurate responses to denialist memes.

Of course, it's rather unlikely to convince anyone you're trying to convince. I'm pretty much resigned to the view that there will not be a substantial shifting of denialist numbers back to science until the next big el nino comes along to match or exceed 1998. With any "luck" that could be starting later this year.

David Appell said...

Thanks Steve.

I agree with your second paragraph. Even if we do manage to get large emissions reductions, there will be, in the year 2100, a core group of Watts-like people complaining that the 21st century spent tens of trillions of dollars on mitigation that was never needed in the first place.

J Melcher said...

Calm, cool headed response ...

Date: Fri, 04 Feb 2005 15:52:53 -0500
From: 'Michael E. Mann' [redacted]<>

Subject: Re: FW: 'hockey stock' methodology misleading

Hi Andy [Revkin, at NYT],

The McIntyre and McKitrick paper is pure scientific fraud. I think you'll find this reinforced by just about any legitimate scientist in our field you discuss this with."

The paper Mann references purports to demonstrate that if you begin with a dozen or two sets of auto-correlated "red noise" data, short-center each set in calibration against the modern-era temperature measurement record, use Principal Component Analysis to "weight" matching noise higher than unmatched noise, you will -- sometimes, but less than half the time -- wind up with an aggregate plot of all data with a smooth hockey stick shaft and a rapidly rising hockey stick blade.

That is, the "fraudulent" paper Mann addresses purports to demonstrate how to "torture the data" to get a hockey stick from proxies whether they respond to temperature, or not.

Experts in climatology agree with Mann. Strangely, experts in statistics appear to be less eager to do so.

Lars said...

J. Melcher -

Perhaps you could give us some links to these experts in statistics.

Steve said...

Reading Steyn's NR 2012 piece again, I realised it is easy to overlook that it's not just that it mentions "fraudulent" in passing: the context of its use is the (alleged) failure of Penn to investigate Mann properly, and in doing so makes the specific comparison with Penn's failure to properly investigate the actions of a actual criminal.

Steyn makes the barest hesitation at whether he should compare the two cases, but goes on to do so anyway, saying they both involved Penn declining to find a "star" "guilty of wrongdoing".

This all points to Steyn's use of "fraudulent" as meaning fraud in the serious, deserves to have career destroyed, sense.

But of course, when it suits them now, it's all "oh, just that was windy hyperbole".

This action has been a long time coming, and Steyn seems to me to be hell bent, by his continual abuse of Mann since the case started, to help prove the "malice" aspect against himself as well.

He is hoping free speech will win the day. Can't see it myself.

It's all very strange.

Dano said...

I'm pretty much resigned to the view that there will not be a substantial shifting of denialist numbers back to science until the next big el nino comes along to match or exceed 1998. With any "luck" that could be starting later this year.

Any way you slice it, denialists are a voting minority, so who cares about them or their effect on policy?

The real issue is their energetic spamming of anything and everything with long-discredited hokum from PR firms, then uncritically spread further by the gullible and willingly ignorant.

Nothing you can do about that except wait for leadership or a few more years filled with unprecedented wx disasters a la Australia, UK, S America...