A Reply to Kelly Anspaugh

I see my comment in the second article of this blog was prescient.

Like a bad penny, Kelly Anspaugh was also at Crock of the Week.

And after a year of blog inactivity, you show up to comment within days of a fresh post, and continue to do so. It appears you are going to be a feature of this blog. Fair enough, I gave you some stick and you want some payback. I wouldn’t deny you your right of reply.

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The Walter White of Climatology

What do Michael Mann and Walter White have in common?

Walter White is a fictional character in the award winning television series Breaking Bad (and if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. This article does not contain spoilers). White is a high school chemistry teacher, who decides to manufacture the illegal drug ‘crystal meth’, initially just to fund his medical bills, but his life then spirals out of control and he is drawn deeper into the criminal underworld.

Both men are scientists. One is embittered and resentful at the success of his former colleagues and the vicissitudes of fate, and ruthlessly destroys everyone who gets in the way of his drive for power and recognition. The other is a drug dealer. No, just kidding.

I won’t be the first to use the meth-dealing White as a benchmark. Writing for Salon.com, journalist Marty Beckerman expends almost 1000 words detailing How Mitt Romney is like Walter White, where he generously concedes that Romney “is (maybe?) less of a sociopath”. But as Michael Mann is notoriously more litigious than Romney, I had better be specific about what I mean.

So what is the parallel? It comes in the opening minutes of the first episode of the first series (where storytellers often introduce insightful background details).

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A Mann for all seasons

On July 10th 2012, in the midst of a heatwave, Michael Mann was interviewed by Bruce DePuyt and Bob Ryan (video timestamp 23:16). [Direct link to video]

DEPUYT: Our guest today, Michael Mann, a climate scientist and researcher at Penn State University, shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. His new book is out now it is called The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches From The Front Lines. We’ll go back to the phones in a moment. Jerry Bethesda we’ll start with you when we do go back to the phones. Anyone else who would like to join us. Loving your calls. Our number is 703-387-1020.
I want to take you guys back to this past weekend when climate change and global warming was topic A, given the heat no surprise, on some of the Sunday shows. Conservative columnist George Will offering his thought

[Mann is shown a clip of a Sunday talkshow This Week with this snippet of dialogue]

QUESTIONER: How do you explain the heat?
WILL: One word, summer.

DEPUYT: ‘How do you explain the heat. Summer.’ Michael Mann, when you hear stuff like that, from a learned guy, a guy who certainly writes well even if he doesn’t know he’s reached the, you know, right conclusions, so to speak. When you hear people like him say ‘Hey it gets hot in the summer, cold in the winter, live with it. Your thoughts on that.

RYAN: And it resonates with a lot of people who have a, share George’s political perspective.

DEPUYT: Absolutely.

MANN: Well you know, it’s disappointing, because here is a public figure who has an opportunity to inform the discussion, inform the debate and instead in that case resorted to a standard climate change denial talking point which doesn’t hold up to any degree of scrutiny. We’ve had Summer. You know, Summer’s been around as long as we’ve been around but we haven’t broken all-time records at the rate that we’re breaking them.

Fast-forward to January 8th 2014 and the weather has taken a turn for the worse (as it swings about the 15-year baseline known as the “pause”), and Michael Mann is interviewed by Paul and Carol Mott, for their podcast The Motts (audio timestamp 19:43).
[Direct link to audio]

CAROL: Less than three weeks into winter and we have been hit hard through North America, with extreme weather conditions, plunging temperatures, ice storms, very deep snow, evidence for some that maybe global warming is a myth. How can the planet be warming up, they say when we are freezing and we’re buried in snow, Now joining us on the line is noted climatologist Michael Mann. He’s distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn. State University, author of the book The Hockey Stick and Climate Wars, and recently published in paperback with a new foreword by Bill Nye, the science guy.
Yeah, Michael Mann is joining us. Hi there.

MANN: Hi there. It’s great to be with you.

CAROL: Thank you. How do you respond to those who say well this cannot be global warming because it must be nonsense. It’s a product of the left. They’re just hyping it all up. It’s so cold.

MANN: Yeah, well what I point out is that we climate scientists actually have a technical term for what we’re seeing right now, we call it winter. It’s going to get cold in the winter and that’s going to continue to be true even as the globe continues to warm. We’re not going to see the disappearance of winter. And we’re not going to see the disappearance of weather.

And we climate skeptics have more than a few “technical terms” to describe Michael Mann.

UPDATE: The MP3 download link is broken, but I have a copy saved on my hard drive. If anyone wants to hear it, please recommend a hassle-free file sharing site and I will upload it there.

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A Timeline

I’m very pleased to learn that Peter [Gleick] has been exonerated.
Dr. Michael Mann.


At the end of 2010 Gleick wrote an article in Forbes “Climate B.S.* of the Year Award”. As well as listing all the people Gleick wanted to lash out at, he also listed the names of those who had helped compile the list.

In November of the following year Steve McIntyre compared the Penn State investigations of Sandusky and Mann. Joe Romm called this a “smear”. Gleick’s 2011 BS-Awards castigate, among others the Heartland Institute for “Arcticgate” and Steve McIntyre, who gets a “dishonorable mention … for his despicable smear of climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann”.

James Taylor of The Heartland Institute responded to Gleick with his own article in Forbes, 11 days later. The two then spar in the comments thread where Gleick demands that Heartland reveal the names of its donors; Taylor explains that they cannot because of past campaigns of harassment; and one anonomyous commenter goads Gleick with the challenge “it’s not up to James Taylor to show us who funds the Heartland Institute, it’s up to Gleick”

On 13th January 2012 Taylor invites Gleick to be keynote speaker or to debate at Heartland’s  28th Anniversary Benefit Dinner. After an exchange of emails Gleick finally declines. Meanwhile he had been phishing (fraud by e-impersonation) internal Heartland documents. These were sent “anonymously” to “15 … friends” on Valentine’s Day, together with a forged document that portrayed Heartland as super-villainous.

Gleick’s confessed six days later. And the day after that, PEER and the CSLDF, the two entities backing Mann’s current litigation, sent a letter to Heartland stating that the “Climate Science Legal Defense Fund fully intends to pursue all possible actionable civil remedies to the fullest extent of the law” against the “Heartland Institute, all activists, bloggers, and other journalists” who posted Climategate emails. It was an open letter so it was really a public threat to thousands of people.

In Mann’s original letter of complaint to the NRO, his lawyers cite the “numerous investigations into the issue of academic fraud”. They may imply, but do not explicitly claim that all of these investigations cleared Dr. Mann, nor even that all of them investigated him. They quote the March 2010 investigation by the U.K. Parliament as stating that the CRU’s actions  “were in line with common practice in the climate science community.”

So Mann’s lawyer’s have opened the door to examination of other investigations of other climate scientists and to examination of the “common practice in the climate science community.” Ironically, they are kind of doing what Simberg did with his comparison of the two Penn. State invetigations. Continue reading

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Blogging “Hiatus”

Some people have made the ridiculous claim that there has been a “pause” or “hiatus” in my blogging or even that it has stopped. To do this they resort to the most deceptive kind of statistical manipulation. They cherry pick their starting point. Well, of course, if you choose a short time period with an anomolously high number of blogs, then it is easy to show a downward trend after that. Blogging should not be measured over such short time periods. If you start your graph of my blogging in say 1980, you can clearly see the upward trend. The fact remains that the last ten years have seen the highest number of my blog posts in the instrumental record. Also, I dropped some of my posts into the ocean, but they are still there for any interested whale or dolphin to read. My global blogging is real. It is made by me. And it is dangerous.

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Outrageous and incorrect claims about aliens


Greg Laden likes to malign those who are skeptical about catastrophic man-made global warming. He recently wrote about a post by Anthony Watts, that reported on a claim that extra-terrestrial life had been discovered in a meteorite. Watts was skeptical about the claim. But Laden selectively quoted him and outright lied to present a different picture. His article concluded with the following.

As Phil points out, this report is by a “scientist” who has made many outrageous and incorrect claims about aliens, reported in a journal that is famous for printing bogus and incorrect science, the methods are obviously bogus and anyone who knew anything about, say, climate studies (where fresh water diatoms are used all the time as proxyindicators) would at least be suspicious, and would know how to check for veracity of the claim.

Anthony Watts, the anti-science global warming denailist,[sic] was not equipped to recognize this bogus science as bogus. We are not surprised.

It is hard to find common ground in the heated climate debate. So it is refreshing to discover that there are some things Greg and I can agree on. “Bogus science” involving “outrageous and incorrect claims about aliens” is a bad thing and those who uncritically present or even promote them should be ridiculed. Continue reading

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Is Michael Mann a Zebra or the Walter White of Climatology? Part 2


This is the second part. If you haven’t read Part 1, you should probably go there first.

A quick recap of Part 1: Michael E. Mann is suing some of his critics for defamation. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is the group backing his litigation. Jeff Ruch is the Executive Director of PEER. Mann’s case may have been compromised by his online exchanges with Kelly Anspaugh, former lecturer of English literature, Ohio State University. [P.S. Click image for larger version]

Fraudulent Equivalence
Kelly Anspaugh seems to think that PEER actually mean what they say in their mission statement. Regardless of the ‘merits’ of his case, I don’t think Jeff Ruch will be leaping to his defence any time soon. But PEER and their associates are on a mission.

On February 21, 2012, the day after Wamsley’s article at Crock of the Week, Jeff Ruch, Scott Mandia and Joshua Wolfe (on behalf of PEER and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund), published an open letter to Heartland, on the same web site (also reposted at ThinkProgress.org). After some gloating at the actions of climate-alarmist Peter Gleick, (who tried to pass off a forged document purporting to be a “Strategy Memo” of the climate-skeptic Heartland Institute) PEER and the CSLDF announced their plans.

… the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund views the malicious and fraudulent manner in which the Climatic Research Unit documents were obtained and/or thereafter disseminated, as well as the repeated blogs about them, as providing the basis for civil actions against those who obtained and/or disseminated them and blogged about them. The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund fully intends to pursue all possible actionable civil remedies to the fullest extent of the law.

We respectfully ask the Heartland Institute, all activists, bloggers, and other journalists to immediately remove all of these documents and any quotations taken from them, from their blogs, Web sites, and publications, and to publish retractions. Continue reading

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Is Michael Mann a Zebra or the Walter White of Climatology? Part 1


Dr. Michael E. Mann is a zebra. At least, that’s how he appears to see himself.

In August 1999, I attended a meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, as a lead author for an upcoming report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). From my hotel room, I could see one of the world’s great wonders, Mount Kilimanjaro, with its magnificent ice cap … After the meeting, I joined a daylong expedition to see one of the world’s greatest displays of nature: Serengeti National Park. … Among the most striking and curious scenes I saw that day were groups of zebras standing back to back, forming a continuous wall of vertical stripes. “Why do they do this?” an IPCC colleague asked the tour guide. “To confuse the lions,” he explained. Predators, in what I call the “Serengeti strategy,” look for the most vulnerable animals at the edge of a herd. But they have difficulty picking out an individual zebra to attack when it is seamlessly incorporated into the larger group, lost in this case in a continuous wall of stripes. Only later would I understand the profound lesson this scene from nature had to offer me and my fellow climate scientists in the years to come.
The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, (Prologue)

The Serengeti Strategy
Mann is not the Ernest Hemingway of science writers. He goes on to explain that his critics are actually just picking on the “most vulnerable animal” of the climate-alarmist-herd, him. Portraying yourself as a dumb herd animal and your opponents as formidable hunters of the plain, is probably not the best metaphor to win an argument. But it is part of his ongoing victimhood narrative. Continue reading

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