Hockeystick Climatologist Michael Mann Sues Competitive Enterprise Institute and National Review for Defamation


Molested data?

Over at Science Blogs, Greg Laden is reporting that Penn State climatologist Michael Mann is suing the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the National Review for refusing to apologize for comparing him in a blog post to child molester Jerry Sandusky. In the original post on CEI's Opermarket website apparently read:

"Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science."

Harsh, indeed. That offending line has since been removed from the post, with a disclosure noting "Two inappropriate sentences that originally appeared in this post have been removed by the editor." National Review (NR) is being sued because NR contributor Mark Steyn cited the CEI post over at NR's The Corner blog. For what it's worth, Steyn did write:

Not sure I'd have extended that metaphor all the way into the locker-room showers with quite the zeal Mr Simberg does…

However Steyn did add:

… but he has a point.

Back in August in response to threatening letters from Mann's attorney, CEI refused to retract its commentary, though as noted, it did remove the the direct comparison of Mann with Sandusky. Similarly, National Review has refused to retract the Steyn blogpost. In a letter in response to Mann's demand for an apology and retraction, the NR's attorney argues that such controversial speech is protected by the First Amendment. Interestingly, the NR letter asserts:

… if Dr. Mann decides to pursue this matter, he and his research team would be subjected to a very extensive discovery of materials that he has fought so hard to protect in other proceedings. Such materials would be required for National Review to defend itself.

The NR letter is referring to, among other things, the lawsuit by Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to obtain access to Mann's emails with other researchers involved in the Climategate imbroglio. Mann vigorously contested that suit and earlier this year, the Virginia Supreme Court tossed out Cuccinelli's suit.

In any case, it seems that Mann has decided to take CEI and NR to court.  Stay tuned.

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  1. Can someone with no character sue over having it defamed?

    1. Why don’t you find out by suing Warty and then let us know how it went.

      1. As always, you have nothing substantive to contribute.

        1. I’m completely hollow inside, it’s true.

          1. Y’know what’s not completely hollow inside?

            Deep dish pizza.

            1. Correct, it’s filled with awfulness.

                1. And some of the pasta sauce they didn’t use up yesterday.

          2. I’m completely hollow inside, it’s true.

            You’re like the bullshit chocolate Easter bunnies that come in the prepackaged baskets.

            1. Easter?!?


      1. Serious legal question: Could we be sued by STEVE SMITH?

        Seems like there are some serious standing issues, at the very least.

        1. We might be sued by DoubleIPA for making libertarians look immature and unreasonable.

        2. serious standing issues

          Like that he prefers to walk on all fours?

        3. Yes.


    3. What could you possibly know about Michael Mann’s character? Hey here’s a swell idea, let’s get emotionally invested in a scientific question because of its political implications. And then take the emotional investment and let it lead to completely ignoring data, and ignoring the existence of data, with absolutely no justification!

      1. Tony’s right. There’s no reason for us to do the same thing the global warming climate change alarmists have done, right?

        1. I don’t know why you’re implying people who believe in science are to blame for Frank Luntz’s language manipulation.

          1. Does the name George Lakoff ring a bell?

      2. Fair enough. Let’s look at the evidence.

        Data point one: The above defamation suit.

      3. What could you possibly know about Michael Mann’s character?

        There’s quite a bit to glean from the “Climategate” emails if you care to find out.


        1. You mean the non-scandal that has been outed as a witch hunt by every independent investigation?

  2. “Hockeystick Climatologist Michael Mann Sues Competitive Enterprise Institute and National Review for Defamation”


    1. Somehow I don’t think he has thought this cunning plan through.

    2. This will be priceless. The fight over discovery will be ferocious, and its very, very hard to bring a lawsuit and then deny discovery to the defendant on grounds of privilege or confidentiality.

      Even on the merits, its weak. That’s pretty clearly an expression of opinion, not fact. And, of course, Mr. Mann is a public figure and will likely have to meet Sullivan test.

      Who is funding this lawsuit, anyway?

      1. The climate-change skeptics?

        1. His mom?

        2. Good point, Pro L. Who has more to gain from this lawsuit than the skeptics? Seriously. This is a no-lose deal for them.

          1. I bet NRO countersues to keep him from dropping the suit when discovery gets ugly. What a dumb, dumb move.

            I agree, it’s got to be an actual malice standard, which is going to be impossible to establish. He’s clearly a public figure for this topic.

            1. I bet an exasperated judge is going to toss this thing out at some point.

              1. Again, hopefully after discovery forces Mann to release the files he refused to during the FOIA fight he had.

      2. That’s pretty clearly an expression of opinion metaphor.

      3. NR and Steyn himself (for all my misgivings about various social and foreign policy positions of NR and Steyn in particular, I find Steyn to be a delightfully witty and profound critic of the entitlement state) had said a couple of months back when they received a letter from Mann’s legal representatives threatening suit that they welcomed the opportunity to engage in discovery. I’d not be surprised if the reason it took several months from threat to action was largely related to giving Mann enough time to convert his data into greenhouse gases.

        1. Spoliation of evidence can get you in pretty serious trouble.

          Not to mention, if your rebuttal to a claim that you abused the data is that you destroyed the data, well, I’m not optimistic about your chances.

          1. Perhaps NR’s rather brazen and public response to the C ampersand D letter was so scathing a rebuke and called his bluff and his data into such question that he felt he had to pursue it, consequences be damned. Still, I can’t see what he has to gain here as the merits of this case seem to be dubious at best.

        2. No, I think it took Mann several months to find a lawyer willing to represent him in this suit…

          My brother rejects stupid cases all the time, sometimes after doing a great deal of study to figure out whether there is any merit to the prospective clients’ claims.

          Mann just committed suicide. When this is over, McIntyre’s analysis of his junk science will be rubbed in everyone’s faces, that and his bullying.

          I’ll bet his former buddies will line up to give him a kick on the way back down.

          1. Maybe he was waiting for some archives to age off.

            1. There’s this thing called “litigation hold” that requires preservation of evidence that is discoverable in known or reasonably foreseeable litigation.

              If he’s just waiting for the document retention policy to kill off some emails to file his suit, he’s still guilty of spoliation.

              Plus, he will get to answer questions, under oath, about the whole thing.

              And, of course, the data should never, ever, be subject to document retention/destruction policies. Allowing it to be destroyed would be humiliating, right there, and would kill his lawsuit because it would prove that the “defamatory” statement was true.

  3. What a thin-skinned asshole.

    1. What do you expect from the guy who brought you “Miami Vice?”


      2. Not another word about Vice!

  4. I hope, BTW, that Reason consulting its attorneys before re-publishing the offending remark.

    Unless Reason wants to be added as a defendant, of course.

    1. There has to be a legal difference between ‘pointing out’ a remark than originating a remark?

      1. You would think so, but if that were the case, then why would NR be getting sued, when they just referenced the original statement?

      2. I’m pretty sure publication is publication.

        Now, publishing the remark in the context of a story about a lawsuit over the remark may be the safest way to do it, to be sure.

      3. Just have reason use Obama’s old standby, “There are those who would say” every time they repeat a disparaging comment. Hell, it’s worked for him these last 4 years.

    2. Wasn’t Reason sued last year because of comments made on this blog?

      1. Baaa!

      2. We can neither confirm nor deny the recreational interest of any parties in livestock.

        1. Say it. You know you want to.

          1. I tend to be sheepish.

  5. Is this quote actionable?

    As a non-lawyer it would seem that it would NOT be because the statement was qualified with the whole “molesting data blah blah blah” bit.

    1. Also, since the original quote used “could” rather than “is”. Saying something is a possibility is not the same as saying it is a fact.

    2. Even the first, harsh remark by Sindberg is pretty obviously opinion, and therefore not actionable.

  6. You know who also managed to peak his cycles?

    1. Harley Davidson?

    2. Heinrich Hertz?

    3. Melky Cabrera?

    4. Kitchin?

  7. We’ve been TRUMPED

    1. Isn’t that old news? And how is it pertinent to the election?

      1. Another theory is that he got some of Obama’s college records, indicating that he claimed Indonesian citizenship at the time. If so, that’s rather pertinent.

        1. If that’s the case, look for two weeks of denunciations and experts on forgery and tinfoil hatz and epic lulz.

        2. Trump is a self-promoting gasbag. I may be wrong here, but I predict an “Al Capone’s safe”-level anticlimax tomorrow.

          1. Sounds about right to me. Shit like this has more tendency to backfire anyway. Maybe Trump is trying to fuck Romney.

    2. considering Obama’s rise in politics, it would be an epic lol if true.

    3. Obama will just say (rightly) that this is their business. It may raise questions about their honesty or how genuine they are, but their supporters won’t care. Some will get a thrill up their leg with how honest Obama is if he addresses the issue and admits they had some problems in the past.

      Probably a non-issue.

      1. I dislike Obama and his administration quite a lot, but this doesn’t matter to me (assuming it were true, which I don’t assume). It’s a little dishonest, I suppose, but it’s hardly something I’d use to call for his resignation or anything like that.

        1. If anything it shows determination and an ability to work with people to come to agreement and make things work out. Which he has shown no talent for in the executive/legislative sphere.

  8. Why didn’t they just say the climate data appeared Mann-handled? Always go for the cheap pun!

    1. They didn’t wanna get charged with Mannslaughter.

  9. Will the real Sandusky please stand up?
    I’m Sandusky, yes I’m Sandusky, all the other
    imitators are just humping huskies.
    So won’t the real Sandusky please stand up?

  10. You know who else people get unfavorably compared to?

    1. OJ Simpson?
      Martha Stewart?
      Denis Leary?
      Mae West?

  11. As truth is a defense, it would seem discovery could extend to every iota of data, data processing, and written/emailed discussion of presentation of data Mann ever engaged in, plus depositions from everyone Mann ever worked with, as “reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence” that the claim of data manipulation is true.

    1. Re: DRM,

      As truth is a defense, it would seem discovery could extend to every iota of data, data processing, and written/emailed discussion of presentation of data Mann ever engaged in,

      That’s brilliant! Mann has been thinking of how to disengage from this AGW clusterfling and what better way than to force discovery? Ends up totally destroying his reputation and turning him into the laughingstock for every man, woman and child, for years to come; and a living monument to human folly until the day he dies, just like Prosper-Ren? Blondlot. But he can finally rest and focus on other endeavors, like that mushroom farm he always wanted to have.

      Or maybe he is really that stoopid and arrogant.

  12. The link over at scienceblogs is, shockingly enough, mostly TEAM BLUE cheerleading. Are there any worthwhile blogs over there that are about, you know, science? I’ve never found any.

    1. Gene Expression.

    2. Try Watts Up With That (its blogroll is awesome).

      If you want to see real scientific inquiry, McIntyre’s Climate Audit.

      Bishop Hill is a good clearing house for stuff happening in blighty old England.

      1. I mean worthwhile blogs at the scienceblogs domain. Although PZ Myers’ insane rantings about libertarians are sometimes pretty fun, I guess.

      2. Doesn’t Alex Jones have some good science blogs over at his site as well?

        1. There’s good science at coast to coast am too

          1. that was a joke.
            I’m watching the end of the Man U game again and it’s just as angering.

            1. What happened? Did they give ManU 37 minutes of stoppage time to score a winning goal?

              At least Abramovich’s Mafia lost.

              1. In typical British schoolboy style the came from behind.

  13. All those boys, with a hockey stick. Sigh.

    1. A touch sleazy, but while it’s a very similar design, those aren’t the same fonts, at all.

  14. ” . . . he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science.”

    So to take this analogy further, it could be said then that the data was found curled in the fetal position in the shower, weeping and bleeding, yes?

  15. (edited for legal reasons)

    That [bleep]ing son of a [bleep] [bleep]er can go and [bleep] by enormous [bleep].

  16. The vote for kinkiest data sadist in the Climate Wars seems divided between the rubber graph paper fetishists at Cato, AEI’s statistical cherry pickers, the Heartland institute necrophiles who don’t want TV to trust any scientist under ninety.

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