Dr. Michael Mann invokes the Streisand effect

“Dr. Michael Mann invokes the Streisand effect” (2012-07-20). Anthony Watts delights in climatologist Dr. Michael Mann’s response to the bluntly defamatory attack piece in the National Review Online by the demagogue Mark Steyn titled “Football and Hockey”. Anthony barely notices that Steyn tries to link Dr. Mann to the Penn State child abuse scandal. What counts is that Dr. Mann has demanded a retraction, which means more people will read the insinuations. See, malicious lies and slimy insinuations work. Go there! Click! Click!! Click!!!!

Anthony can be reliably depended upon to take the low road, but this is contemptible even for him.

I love Steyn’s slippery wording when he tries to suggest that Penn State “felt obliged” to investigate Dr. Mann’s scientific integrity, implying that they acted to cover up the evil deeds of a member of their inner sanctum when in fact they were trying to address fabricated denialist accusations. Steyn’s little pulpit is called “The Corner” and he has surely painted himself into one…

Remember how all those investigations turned out? Pretty good actually. But of course they are all the product of the same secret worldwide Communist conspiracy, right? Every denialist attack on Dr. Mann’s “hockey stick” evidence has crumbled into ignorance and partisan deception, all that’s left to an enraged denialist is wild, baseless, personal attacks like this.

Steyn, in his lazy malicious way, wanted to send his readers to OpenMarket.org, the “Competitive Enterprise Institute” blog (notice how all “scientific skepticism” is nurtured  by partisan right-wing mouthpieces?) to a post by Rand Simberg titled The Other Scandal In Unhappy Valley. which now contains this statement of bold journalistic defiance:

*Two inappropriate sentences that originally appeared in this post have been removed by the editor.

A few other reactions:

11 thoughts on “Dr. Michael Mann invokes the Streisand effect

  1. Watts can’t let this go. Today he thinks he’s found ‘logic’ in more illogical smears. It is evident that he is a man of little brain, no spine and relies on ad homs rather than any science to keep his deniers amused. (And one of his commenters goes further with a barely veiled comparison to the Batman murderer.)

    As has been noted before, just when you thought Watts could sink no lower he does – again and again.

  2. Good synopsis, Ben. The fact that Mann has taken legal action serves as a warning to the WUWT community that climate scientists are now at the point where they will no longer tolerate the libels and ad hominems.

    Anthony’s warning that he’s going to have a “low tolerance” for the material in the original article suggests to me that he might recognize that he is starting to lose control of his audience and sees the possibility that he may be subject to legal action, too. He’s painted himself in a corner and, unless he wants to retire or start pushing legitimate science, he’ll just keep on digging that hole.

    • Oh, brother. Are you guys really, really, really, sure you want Michael Mann to go down the ‘defamatory statements road? Really sure? I mean, you’ve really thought this one out all the way? http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/25/dr-michael-mann-compares-inconvenient-visitors-to-his-facebook-page-to-beetle-larvae/#comment-1043394 (oops, probably should have linked to Ben’s Wottsup version of that last link in my comment there)

      [I'm going to go with "yes" here. This would be about proving the libel, its not a chance for zealots to force a defense of climate science from first principles like feeble-minded denialists assume. Be wary of your craving for wish-fulfillment. - Ben]

      • In reply to Ben’s italicized response here, of course no forcing of a defense of climate science would occur here, it isn’t relevant. This would be entirely about one guy claiming he was defamed, and the various pundits would inevitably discuss the statements made by that same guy against his critics, what the origins for the statements are and the veracity of them, compared to what the other guy(s) said against the first guy. Doesn’t matter who they are or what the guys all do for a living.

        Since you at Wottsup seem to have a tendency not to read my own material, you don’t know why I’m not overly wary of what I wish for. You dig your own hole by insinuating, first, that there are denialists, and second, that they are feeble-minded. If you wish to believe that about me, I’m actually all in favor of it.

        But when other so-called feeble-minded folks start digging into this, and perhaps even guys on your side attempting to corroborate what Mann/Hoggan/Gelbspan says, and everyone starts coming up short on evidence to support the ‘big coal & oil corruption’ accusation, you have a bit of a problem on your hands, don’t you?

        [There are no denialists? My failure to read your "material" is my undoing? You're doing my job for me! If I understand your lip-licking anticipation, you see a libel case as simply a platform for partisan pundits to divert the attention of a new audience to the subject of general climate disinformation. Exactly what I suggested you were hoping for. And you've never heard of the Koch brothers. You're not a Tea Party-er, you're a tea-bagger. Dig away.- Ben]

      • To reassure your loyal readers that there are ‘denialists’, you might want to start with direct quotes and corresponding web links to places where skeptic scientists actually deny global warming is happening. I can point to one in particular that undermines the ‘denier’ talking points, way back in 2000 in the NY Times: ( http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/29/science/global-warming-the-contrarian-view.html )

        “I don’t think we’re arguing over whether there’s any global warming,” said Dr. William M. Gray, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University, known for his annual predictions of Atlantic hurricane activities as well as his staunch, longtime dissent on global climate change. ”The question is, ‘What is the cause of it?’ ”

        [Yes, one soft-pedaling scientist ten years ago makes the daily bullhorn lies of Watts & Friends disappear from history. - Ben]

        Actually AGW promoters’ ‘undoing’ is arguably not so much in their failure to read material like mine when it comes to the ‘big coal & oil funding accusation’ but an even more fundamental failure to ask their own devil’s advocate questions about any aspect of it to be certain it can stand up under hard scrutiny. No need to favor what I write, try it yourself. Corroborate Gelbspan’s accusation on your own, independently.

        No, I do not see a libel case as a diversion platform. I see it as a means of focusing everyone’s attention on the science. [So using a different word for diversion means it's not a diversion? That is SO CLEVER. - Ben] If the accusation is not proven true, then the public has no reason not to ignore skeptics’ climate assessments. [Are you stupid? A failed libel suit would not validate any scientific position. - Ben] The IPCC AGW assessments are compared directly to skeptic assessments, and the science itself is sorted out just like it always has been. [That's been happening for twenty years; you just keep losing. - Ben] Nothing partisan about it. The ‘big coal & oil funding accusation’ is either true or it is not, a matter for unbiased investigators to establish. If it is true, you would not shy away from exactly that investigation, would you?

        Yes, I am fully aware of the Koch brothers and their funding, and the debate of whether their money actualy influences folks ( http://www.pbs.org/ombudsman/2010/09/trust_but_verify.html – notice I have a letter in at that 2010 column about the Kochs). But, to borrow ol’ Ronald Reagan’s phrase, “there you go again”. You are welcome to speculate about my political leanings all you want, it’s a free country. But if you are unable to prove I have joined any tea-party organization, or if you are unable to even establish my political party affiliation or my political beliefs, then that’s all you have, assumptions. And you remember what folks say about the word “assume”. [Added: So your archive of posts on americanthinker.com, breitbart.com, redstate.com, and freedompub.org give no indication of vicious partisan affiliation, hmmm? - Ben] As for the Anderson Cooper-origin slur, this doesn’t bolster your position in any way, does it? Are you sure you aren’t digging your own hole by tossing out that last one? [As opposed to licking it? The Tea Party is the willing exploitation of the gullible by the powerful. - Ben]

        (Fascinating how you’ve apparently disabled the Twitter-reply feature. Wotts up with that?)

        [Marked as spam. Sometimes the machine knows best, huh? So deniers deny that they are denying. A rhesus monkey can search for “no global warming”, but apparently not you. What the hell is the Twitter-reply feature? You seem to crave the spotlight and yet are unable to occupy it. – Ben]

      • On your last point with the google search, it kinda helps if you add the caveat about the last 15 years, as in one result saying “UK Met Office global temperature data confirms that the world has not warmed in the past 15 years”. [So you're complaining that I didn't rig the question the way you would? We all know the statistical cherry picking that drives the version you want. Slippery "caveats" - the foundation of denialist argument. - Ben] Those folks are the ones on your side, remember? And in case you haven’t tried replying in a comment in your own blog here, up until yesterday it allowed people to reply via their Twitter accounts, as I had been doing. Now that is strangely gone, but I do appreciate you giving me the spotlight in comments here and at the one last year devoted to my guest blog at WUWT. Donald Prothero – à la Greg Laden – does not. Compare this screencapture of my approved comment reply at the #5 spot to the actual blog comment section here where he curiously allows a later comment of mine, but not one from a day earlier showing evidence of his comment-scrubbing. Kudos to you for being a good sport about accepting my comments.

        And on your points farther up, of course “a [successful libel suit on the part of skeptic scientists] would not validate any scientific position”. But what it would do is cause the public to wonder why any such effort to smear skeptics was ever undertaken by the central promoters of AGW, and then the public would take a good hard look at the skeptics’ stuff itself to see what they haven’t been told about in detail. [So you're re-confirming that you view any publicity as an opportunity to grab attention and steer public opinion. Of course what's happening here in the real world is the reverse of your scenario - the "promoters" are being continuously smeared by the "skeptics". - Ben] Wouldn’t you wonder why Gore and Gelbspan wasted their time on that smear tactic when if it risked undercutting the entire message?

        You may say the skeptics keep losing on science if it makes you feel better, I have no expertise [First thing you've said that I agree with - Ben] to say otherwise, but the appearance I see is that they seem to be staying at least even by contradicting the IPCC assessment with incredibly detailed reports (2009 Report and 2011 Report) [The “Nongovernmental” International Panel on Climate Change is your impartial scientific body? Even their name is an attempt to mislead. They’re just another partisan Heartland front group. Lose. – Ben]

        William Gray is ‘the only soft-pedaler’? Got proof that the others do not say exactly what he says? Just askin’, like so many of the other questions seen here……

  3. Mann was subjected to investigations by several independent groups which found no evidence of scientific malfeasance while Penn State athletics is in trouble for a coverup which led to conviction for a felony, firings and fines. Difficult to see any similarities.

    [The similarities are there if you want them to be... - Ben]

  4. OK, new topic: it’s time to start speculating on what Watts’ “major announcement” is. He says on Sunday, June 29th, he will make “a major announcement that I’m sure will attract a broad global interest due to its controversial and unprecedented nature. ”

    Probably not enough time for the Vegas oddsmakers to weigh in on this one …

    • He’s going to change the name of his blog from “Watts up With That” to “Watts Down and Out”.

      ["Watts Dumb and Dumber?" - Ben]

      • His use of the word “unprecedented” is what’s piqued my interest. Based on his previous pronouncements, there’s nothing unprecedented in revealing someone’s private emails, or a corruption scandal, or a major flaw in a scientific study. OTOH, if he were to publicly annouce he’s made a mistake …

  5. A very sad sick sorry state of affairs, indeed.

    Alas, as we all know, free speech does have a “Rubicon” limit. This is why we cannot in the real world defame or tell pure fact-free lies and also repeat the same total fiction often, about any public figure, in all forms of media. This is the only reason why “Defamation Laws” exist.

    There is an old saying “ignorance of the law is no defense”.

    “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” – Winston Churchill

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