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.
Mann is obviously partial to colourful language, especially when describing himself. Except that, when others caricature him, he wants to curb their metaphor emissions. He is suing journalist Mark Steyn, engineer Rand Simberg, the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute for defamation, because of this statement.
Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except for instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science that could have dire economic consequences for the nation and planet.
Simberg penned the statement but Steyn merely quoted him, even expressing his reservation about the tone.
Not sure I’d have extended that metaphor all the way into the locker-room showers with quite the zeal Mr Simberg does, but he has a point.
Dr. Mann famous for his “hockey stick” of “global” temperature was cleared by Penn State university of wrongdoing, after an investigation, that many people regard as a whitewash. Not long after, Jerry Sandusky, a former football coach, was convicted of molesting children, activities that authorities at the same university had known about for years and covered up. It is the similarities between these two cases (i.e. Penn State’s fear of bad publicity and what they did or might do to avoid it) that Simberg was comparing.
The Kilimanjaro of global warming clichés (and other snowclones)
Phrases of the form, ‘X is the Y of Z’, are a type of idiom known as snowclones. People are the most common subject and there is even a blog –The Rosa Parks of Blogs– devoted to collecting them, where, for example, various people are described as:
the Borat of philosophy; the Lex Luthor of bro rock; the Rodney Dangerfield of reflexive pronouns; the Erin Brockovich of chickens; the Soup Nazi of Bachelorettes; the Wile E. Coyote of nicotine cessation; the Mark Twain of Kanye West jokes; the Werner Von Braun of the F-bomb; the Joan of Arc of poultry; the Hulk Hogan of western thought; the Mr. Spock of genitalia; the Jar Jar Binks of management effectiveness; the Dick Cheney of glam rock; the Bruce Springsteen of science lecturers; the Fredo Corleone of the GOP family; the Pillsbury Doughboy of political promiscuity; and the Richard Dreyfuss of obsessive google searches.
Worryingly, I kind of identify with that last one. Accurate metaphors are the ones that make their targets uneasy.
It seems that the more outrageous and extreme the juxtaposition the better it is received. Serial killers, gangsters and various other nefarious characters are popular benchmarks – just google the phrase “the Tony Soprano of” or “the Vito Corleone of“.
Snowclones are fun. They enrich language. And they almost never provoke litigation.
But like his favourite climate models Michael Mann is way too sensitive. Now that he’s gone all literal, and if his lawyers have their way, such colourful language will not feature in the grey, de-carbonized, Newspeak-ordered future he foresees for us all. Unless, of course, your hyperbole praises a member of the climate-establishment.
‘The Galileo of climate science’
Chris Mooney (the Jesse Ventura of ‘science’ writers) recently claimed, on DeSmogBlog and ThinkProgress.org, that “Michael Mann … is quickly becoming the Galileo of climate science” but blew it before the sentence was finished, by pointing out that Mann “triumphed over” his opponents in court. The comparison is even less apt now that Mann is again enlisting the courts to silence his critics.
A few days later, Peter Sinclair (who received his training in environmental activism from, no less than, Al Gore), of Climate Denial Crock of the Week, quoted Mooney’s mangled Medieval martyr metaphor in a piece titled First, They Came for the Climatologists…. So, presumably he thinks Mann is something like ‘the Anne Frank of climate science’.
Chris de Freitas, a former editor at the journal Climate Research, would probably take issue with Mooney’s characterization of Mann. He called the pressure he came under, after publishing a paper that contradicted Mann’s work, as “a mix of a witch-hunt and the Spanish Inquisition“. On hearing of the paper, Mann and Prof. Phil Jones (the Henry II of climatologists) implemented the “Serengeti strategy” and instigated a boycott of the journal “until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor”. De Freitas eventually resigned.
Mooney’s Mann-Galileo comparison has even been used to solicit funds for his current case, and other attempts to evade Freedom of Information laws and silence critics. A February 2012, appeal, titled Be the Shield and the Point of the Spear, also propagates, in bold type, the by-now tedious meme: “Michael Mann has been called the ‘Galileo of climate science.’ ” The appeal was made by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) on behalf of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF), which is “sponsored and operated by PEER“.
But Chris Mooney went even further, later on, in the same article:
I called Mann the “Galileo of climate science,” and increasingly, I think this is not mere hyperbole.
If we adopt the logic of Mann’s lawyers, Mooney is not just likening Mann’s critics to Medieval inquisitors (some of whom actually and physically “molested and tortured” people), he seems to be saying that they are actually the same. However, most reasonable people would not draw such a literal inference. Mooney will not be sued by offended skeptics any more than Sinclair will be sued for obliquely comparing them to Nazis. Still, it is nice to see a prominent figure from Mann’s camp acknowledging that snowclones are “mere hyperbole” -unless specifically qualified as otherwise by their author.
Non-scientist Mooney, an English major, was appointed to the American Geophysical Union’s board of directors, normally an elected position, in November 2010, to “bring expertise in science policy and communication” but resigned the following year (presumably after the membership had a chance to voice their opinion). The AGU partnered with the CSLDF to present a series of “webinars” along with events at AGU’s 2012 Fall Meeting to, among other things, help alarmist climate scientists evade troublesome FOI requests. Mann, whose case was the focus of the webinars, was made a fellow of the AGU earlier the same year.
Incidentally, Galileo’s famous book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, was partly a satire, where he presented his own arguments through the voice of “Salviati” and “Sagredo”, named after friends of his. But he ridiculed his fiercest critics by using them as the model for the patsy who defends the consensus view, whom he named “Simplicio” i.e. evocative of ‘simpleton’ (child-molesting football coaches not having been invented yet). However, Galileo’s big mistake was to put some of the arguments of Pope Urban in the mouth of Simplicio, which was one of the reasons why the book was banned. Popes don’t like to be ridiculed any more than Penn State professors.
Despite his name, Simplicio could follow a simple argument.
SALV. But if, of many computations, not even two came out in agreement, what would you think of that?
SIMP. I should judge that all were fallacious, either through some fault of the computer or some defect on the part of the observers. At best I might say that a single one, and no more, might be correct; but I should not know which one to choose.
SALV. But would you want to deduce a questionable conclusion and establish it as true, from a false basis? Surely not. Now this author’s calculations are such that not one of them agrees with any other; you see, then, how much faith you can put in them.
SIMP. If that is how matters stand, it is truly a serious defect.
[The] basic problem is that all [the computer] models are wrong – not got enough middle and low level clouds.
Prof. Phil Jones, Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia
Mann’s attorneys protest that by “comparing him to a convicted child molester” the defendants in his defamation case are “besmirching Dr. Mann’s reputation”. And that as a consequence he “has experienced extreme emotional distress” and “suffered mental anguish and personal humiliation”. They also object to Dr. Mann’s research being described as “intellectually bogus” and say that it is “another accusation which is actionable in and of itself”.
However, Dr. Mann completely contradicts himself and his own lawyers. In stark contrast to the outrage expressed in his court filing, he apparently regards comparisons with convicted child molesters as mere “thoughtful discussion”.
Mann announced his intention to sue on his Facebook account, July 20 2012. There were 120 comments. 26 of those were his. Several of those referred to deleting unwanted comments
Tennis: no worries. We won’t be seeing Bob around here any more. Trolls aren’t welcome around here…
just cleaned a half dozen trolls from this thread. got to wonder who is sending them this way
[Pete Ridley–you will no longer riddle these threads w/ your crass nonsense]
All of this is typical of Mann’s Facebook pages. His obsessive deletion of contrary or negative comments has been noted by several bloggers. Nary a skeptical word will you find in Mann’s little domain, not after he has revisited a thread anyway. Perhaps he finds booting ‘trolls’ cathartic like a game of Whac-a-mole. Deniers begone!
Four days later he expounded his censorship policy on a dedicated thread.
hey trolls who have been given marching orders to flood the comment threads here like an infestation of beetle larvae: Don’t bother! We’ve seen the mindless talking points before, and coming here to parrot them simply (a) pollutes the otherwise thoughtful discussion in the comment threads here, and (b) exposes the intellectual bankruptcy of your climate change denial zealotry.
I would have thought that exposing “the intellectual bankruptcy of … climate change denial zealotry” would have appealed to Mann, but never mind. As at RealClimate.org, where he is a regular contributor, Mann’s idea of debate is waving his fist at critics he has long since banished.
The principal topic of posts on Michael Mann’s Facebook page is Michael Mann. And he is far and away the largest contributor of comments on the subsequent threads. 20 of the 64 comments on that last one were his, including:
… I don’t know how I could’ve been any clearer about the fact that the policy at this Facebook page is that trolls are not welcome. …
You can be sure Mann reads almost every comment on every thread he revisits and removes the ‘pollution’. All that is left on those threads are comments that meet his approval.
The Jimmy Swaggart of litigious hypocrites
On August 27 2012, an article in the New York Times proclaimed “For climate change, a possible trial could echo the Scopes Monkey Case”. As he does with almost all positive press, Mann posted a link to it on his Facebook page, in this case on the same day. And one commenter, Kelly Anspaugh, had this to say:
It is, of course, those who would teach our children that anthropogenic global warming is all a “liberal hoax” who are comparable to Jerry Sandusky. They are the ones engaged in intellectual molestation.
If you’re one of those ‘intellectual molesters’ that thinks that man-made global warming is ‘all a hoax’, you might want to take a moment, to overcome the “extreme emotional distress … mental anguish and personal humiliation” you must be suffering.
Facebook comments are short, and there are relatively few in that thread. Mann subsequently added another comment later the same day, so he unquestionably revisited the thread after Anspaugh added his contribution, which came immediately after Mann’s previous one.
Anspaugh’s comment was eventually deleted but not until four months later (sometime between Dec 24 to 29), which is four months longer than Simberg’s comment remained on OpenMarket.org. That was removed “several days” after it appeared because the editors decided that it was “a bit of overheated rhetoric that was editorially inappropriate”. Nevertheless Mann sued. Why he decided to delete that and Anspaugh’s other comments; why it took so long; and why it was done when it was; is examined further down.
[Update Jan 8: The comment has been restored. It had apparently been hidden not deleted.]
To paraphrase Mann’s lawyers: “By publishing the aforementioned” comment Dr. Mann knew it would be “read by the general public throughout the United States and elsewhere”. The comment was “read by members of the general public throughout the United States and elsewhere as a direct, natural, probable, and foreseeable consequence of” Dr. Mann leaving it on his Facebook page.
If a defamation case could ever be brought, Michael Mann and Kelly Anspaugh would be “joint tortfeasors and as such” would be “jointly and severally liable” (again to quote Mann’s lawyers).
However, the issue is not whether Mann could himself be sued or counter-sued for defamation, as he is suing Mark Steyn, (even though Steyn was not the author of the Mann-Sandusky comparison). I doubt that Mann could (or should) be similarly sued. “Those who would teach …” etc. is too broad and vague a class of people to be legally defamed. The creators of The Simpsons will not be subjected to a “Scopes” trial by “cheese-eating surrender monkeys”. This is the point of law Mann hides behind, when he accuses “the deniers” of being shills for the fossil-fuel industry, almost every time he opens his mouth in public.
The issue is hypocrisy and it has a bearing on the case. As Mann said, only a month before, he only allows “thoughtful discussion in the comment threads here”. I “don’t know how” Mann “could’ve been any clearer”. If “trolls are not welcome” and their comments consequently deleted, then those comments that are left must be “welcome”. By letting Anspaugh’s comment stand on his Facebook page, Mann gave it his tacit approval and validation as “thoughtful discussion”.
Inherit the Wind Farm
It makes a mockery of his lawyers’ indignant outrage and claims of “extreme emotional distress …mental anguish” etc. How can “thoughtful discussion” cause you such anguish?
The insult that Mann (by his own lawyers’ definition) dished out is far worse than the alleged one he can’t take.
Simberg’s comparison was between Penn State’s treatment of Sandusky and their treatment of Mann. It is Mann’s treatment of data that is at issue, “instead of molesting children”. Describing Mann as the “Jerry Sandusky of climate science” is metaphor.
Anspaugh’s comparison is a direct one between Sandusky’s treatment of children and the alleged treatment of children by those ‘denialists’ “who would teach our children”. He did not extend his “metaphor all the way into the locker-room showers”. His statement, that climate-skeptics are “comparable to Jerry Sandusky”, is not a metaphor. And it doesn’t come with any additional “could be said to be” or “except for” or “instead of” qualifiers.
His choice of target is also inappropriate and scattergun. Anspaugh tars a vast and diverse number of people, none of whom are current or former celebrities at Penn. State, who have recently been the beneficiaries of that university’s favour and subsequently been the subjects of investigation.
No reasonable person would think that Anspaugh, and (would-be “joint tortfeasor”) Mann, are actually accusing climate-skeptics of paedophilia. But Anspaugh is saying their actions are as venal, something Simberg did not do with Mann.
To demonstrate the difference between Simberg’s statement and a malicious one, his lawyers need only point to Anspaugh’s comment on Mann’s Facebook page.
The Roseanne Barr of English Lit. lecturers
Mann’s lawyers and supporters would probably argue, rather hypocritically, that he cannot be held responsible for the action of some jerk that happens to leave a comment on his Facebook page, even if Mann probably did review and approve it. But the relationship between the two is a bit closer than that.
First, a bit more about Kelly Anspaugh, Mann’s “interesting and entertaining Facebook friend”. His comment was not a one-off. He also posted this (Sep 12) at TheTelegram.com:
If one is looking for an analog for the child molester Jerry Sandusky, it would be not Michael Mann but the global warming deniers, who intellectually abuse and molest the public by feeding them pernicious anti-science.
And if one is looking for an anal blog-polluting commenter, Kelly C. Anspaugh, former lecturer of English literature at Ohio State University-Lima, is your man. As well as being a poet…
There once was a think tank named Heartland
Whose ethics were stable as quicksand
For the Father of Lies
AKA Lord of the Flies
Spawned its leader Bast-turd in a shitcan
…the scatological scholar is the author of such classics as: Irish Excremental Satire; Powers of Ordure: James Joyce and the Excremental Vision(s) Thus the Turd Becomes Trope, (I’m not making this up) and How Butt Shot the Chamber Pot, in which Anspaugh explains
Among the many difficult passages of Finnegans Wake, “How Buckley Shot the Russian General” … has been singled out by critics as especially resistant to interpretation.
Anspaugh’s grasp of the subtleties of the English language is obviously “resistant to interpretation” and way over my head, so I’ll leave the deeper analysis to the Freudians.
In another discussion with Mann (Dec. 17), Anspaugh uses the definitive article to describe “the denialist” in the same way it used to be used when describing a species of animal or a particular ethnic group. But Mann turns the conversation to the personal, before they both share a fantasy about exactly how the ‘deniers’ “damned denialist souls” should be “molested and tortured”.
ANSPAUGH: One almost envies the denialist his utter lack of concern over the truth value of his claim. His sole aim is to get the claim out there so it can spread across the blogosphere and create confusion and doubt, thereby further delaying governmental action on climate change. He just wants to introduce noise into the system, in other words. When proven wrong he manifests no shame, simply grins and winks, as if its all a great game. Then on to the next lie.
MANN: Kelly: so you know Fred Singer then?
ANSPAUGH: Ha. The Eternal Contrarian.
ANSPAUGH: Oh for a latter-day Dante to imagine a special circle of hell reserved expressly for the likes of Singer, Monckton, Watts, et al., wherein their damned denialist souls must spend eternity submerged up to the eyelashes in boiling sh-te (this excremental soup an allegorical figuration, of course, of the denialist discourse they spewed here on earth), and, when asked if the bath is warm, compelled to reply, “Oh no it’s quite comfortably cool, in fact — thanks for asking!”
As the ‘literary expert’ of the pair redundantly makes clear this is “allegorical figuration” or the use of the kind of hyperbole that Mann would deny his critics and all climate-skeptics from using. Having himself imagined the “special circle of hell reserved expressly” for “the denialist”, Anspaugh apparently sees himself as something like “a latter-day Dante”. Indeed, after showering Mann with praise for his latest book, on another thread (Aug 31), Anspaugh explains that the reason he has not published books, that have sold in similar numbers, is merely a matter of choice on his part, perhaps because he feels his ‘genius’ would not be properly recognized, as evinced by the reaction of some of his colleagues.
Although I as an academic published a good many articles in some of the leading journals in my field — that is, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could do that, that I could play in the Big Leagues, as it were — still, when I published, say, an editorial on some political or social issue in the local newspaper, this was poo-poohed by some of my colleagues, dismissed as a “trivial” publication (“Anyone can do that!”).
I think an appropriate end for Anspaugh would be to listen to the “excremental soup” of his own lectures for all eternity. I’m sure some of his former students would agree.
Hitler, his bunker, and the want of a winking smiley
Michael Mann and Kelly Anspaugh are angry men, who do not confine their fantasies, of punishing “the deniers”, to the divine or figurative, as you can see from this exchange (also from Aug 31).
ANSPAUGH: Recall a year or so ago Al Gore blew up at a lecture when in the Q & A some contrarian in the crowd started spewing the same old discredited denialist hoo-haa. … I wonder, Mike, if you’ve ever come close? I mean, have you ever, when some tea party flathead started in on sun spots or the Medieval Warm Period, etc., felt the almost uncontrollable urge to leap over the podium into the crowd and just throttle the guy? I mean, Gore is a lifelong politician, is trained to endure being spattered with shite. You are not. I guess the question is how much of this bs mere flesh and blood can be expected to bear. How do you manage it?
MANN: Hi Kelly, I try to hard to resist that temptation
The day before their, denier-throttling fantasy, rage was also the theme, after Mann posted a link to one of those satirical videos where the satirist’s captions overlay the original dialogue from the historical re-enactment Downfall, (which portrays Hitler’s last demented days in his bunker). You’ve probably seen some of them on YouTube.
The video is called Arctic Sea Ice Downfall and shows a group of global warming skeptics upset at a recent decline in northern floes. The protagonist, played by Hitler (so to speak), gives full vent to his disappointment, but at least doesn’t try to hide the decline.
The parody video was posted on a parody site, and this seems to have caused the distinguished doctor of literature some confusion.
ANSPAUGH: Oops! At first glance I thought DD was a genuine denialist site, which I hope will be attributed not to my general cluelessness (I’m usually pretty sensitive to irony) but to the fact that the site is hardly more stupid or over the top than some of the sites it parodies. As Tom Wolfe once observed, “The Foolkiller throws up his hands and walks away, overwhelmed by the magnitude of the opportunity before him.”
MANN: yes–its a great example of “Poe’s Law”
ANSPAUGH: OK, Mike, you say in response to my observation that it’s difficult to distinguish parodies of denialist sites from the real thing that “Yes–it’s a great example of ‘Poe’s Law,'” but then you append a winking smiley-face, which Poe’s law says must be appended to parodies to signal their parodic nature, which suggests that your post may be meant ironically, which means that perhaps you don’t really think it’s a great example of Poe’s law, in which case … Oh hell just forget it I’m going to bed.
MANN: hah–good point Kelly!
So Mann has some understanding of irony and can even cite laws that govern it. If only Steyn et al. had attached a “winking smiley-face” to their posts, perhaps all this recent unpleasantness could have been avoided ; )
Maybe we should honour Mann with an eponymous law for unintended irony. The alarmists portray themselves as the ones who care about the planet, yet in this video, it is the skeptics who are upset at the loss of Arctic sea ice, implying that this is an event that the alarmists are celebrating (with a certain schadenfreude over the joint fate of skeptics and polar bears). But perhaps he deserves it more for appealing for funds for the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund on his Facebook page, only five comments before Anspaugh’s one comparing deniers to Jerry Sandusky, on the same thread.
Hitler was, of course, an even more monstrous criminal than Sandusky. Suppose someone made a Hitler parody-video of Mann’s latest defamation case.
HITLER: How dare they compare me to Jerry Sandusky!
MINION: Mike, the comparison is not direct. It’s between Penn State’s treatment of you and their treatment of him.
HITLER: Do you think I give a $*&! about details. This is our chance to stick it to them for calling my hockey stick “fraudulent”. All we need to do is conflate the two issues, stuff the jury full of global warming faithful, and manipulate their revulsion to pedophilia. This is payback time. We’re gonna shaft them. We’re gonna silence all those deniers who mocked me and my hockey stick: Steyn, Simberg, Watts, every one of them.
MINION: But Mike, it’s hypocritical fake indignation. You yourself promoted a comparison of Watts to Hitler…
ExceptionMessage=Self referencing loop detected with type ‘System.Data.Entity.Hypocrite.Humongous’
The Great Non-debater
Arctic Sea Ice Downfall mocks Steven Goddard; (Lord Christopher) Monckton; (Marc) Morano, his website Climate Depot and the journal E&E (Energy & Environment). The principal target is, however, “Anthony” (Watts) and it portrays him as Hitler. Michael Mann is also mentioned, but in a positive light.
Arctic Sea Ice Downfall was, in fact, a rebuttal to another video, Hitler’s Reaction to the Watts Study, posted on YouTube a month earlier, and mimics many of the details in it. In the earlier video, Hitler is portrayed as a climate-alarmist (well he was a vegetarian and a bit of a tree-hugger, who valued the environment above human beings, but then again he did underestimate the severity of the Russian winter). When he refers to “my Hockey Stick Chart” it is clear that Mann is the target. Al Gore, (Peter) Gleick, (Richard) Muller and (James) Hansen are also mentioned.
To his credit, Anthony Watts featured Arctic Sea Ice Downfall, the video which parodies him, on his own website. Mann did not do likewise with the other video.
The creators of Hitler’s Reaction to the Watts Study also made the much more well-known and musical video, Hide The Decline, back in 2010, which did parody Mann (rather well) but only as a kind of dancing lumberjack, not as a genocidal maniac.
In contrast to Watts’ stoic response to ridicule, Mann, who is not that kind of man, (you guessed it) threatened to sue for defamation, which is more than Hitler did to Charlie Chaplin over his satirical movie The Great Dictator. Mann used the same defamation lawyers that he is using now, the aptly named, Cozen O’Connor, whose speciality includes defending tobacco companies.
After initially removing the video from YouTube, Minnesotans for Global Warming, the group that made Hide The Decline, stiffened their resolve, re-posted it and prepared for another protracted battle in the “climate wars”. They bunkered-in, all three of them, in their “world headquarters”, an RV. Faced with such dogged resistance, Mann and his lawyers folded and meekly retreated from the frozen wastes of the North Star state.
The Donald Trumbo of climate alarmists ; )
Kelly Anspaugh, in addition to his role as lecturer of literature also saw it as his duty to indoctrinate the next generation of climate-alarmists. As he explained to Mann:
In my university course on the discourses of science denial I pointed to Amazon as evidence of the pervasiveness of the denialist disinformation campaign, how if one searched “global warming” on the site the majority of titles that popped up were denialist propaganda, not real climate science. This alone would give the uninformed the impression that there must be something to the denialist argument. …
And as his course description states:
Central to this course is the acquisition of skills necessary to produce research papers with MLA documentation style as well as annotated bibliographies. In this section we will focus on the issue of contemporary attacks on science, more specifically the attack on climate science by “contrarian” thinkers.
However, Anspaugh’s “almost uncontrollable urge” must have gotten out of control, as he got himself fired in April 2012. In his submission to OSU’s, Committee For Academic Freedom And Responsibility he explains:
The OSU-Lima administration consistently represented my global warming activism on campus as a malicious and personal attack on a colleague, this despite the fact that I went out of my way to make my attempts at educating on the issue impersonal.
However, he contradicts himself only a few sentences later by launching “a malicious and personal attack on a colleague”.
… the colleague in question was such a strident and public climate change denier that any mention of denialism was instantly associated with him. Had he been less obnoxious in his denialism, then there would be less cause for embarrassment for him in the consideration of this perfectly sensible proposal.
Let the OSU-Lima administrators say what they will, I know that, had I shut up about global warming and global warming denialism when they first told me to shut up about it, I’d still have my job.
But, in an interview he gave about three months later, he contradicts himself yet again,.
Again, my firing was not so much because of my belief in anthropogenic global warming. It was rather an effort of the local administration to protect a valued crony.
And what really disgusted me was how many [people] … resisted my attempts to educate them about global warming … It was easier, more politically expedient, to simply give our local contrarian and his protectors in the administration the benefit of the doubt that I was a bastard who needed to be fired — this after my twenty years of conscientious service to the campus.
One almost envies Anspaugh for his utter lack of concern over the truth value of his claims. But at least in the latter part of that last sentence, he finally lists one reason for his dismissal, that appears to be accurate.
So is Ohio State University a hotbed of “deniers” that excludes climate-alarmists from entering their tenured ranks? Well that seems unlikely, because, in July 2004, the university considered hiring, none other than, Michael Mann, “as a tenured Associate Professor”. However, he didn’t get the job, probably because of this paragraph, in a reference from Keith Briffa.
Mike was certainly not the best collaborator, and in some aspects of his work, not sufficiently aware of the characteristics of some of the data with which he worked. This would not be bad in itself, were allowance made and advice sought and accepted from a wider circle of colleagues or specialists than he was inclined to consult. There was a certain, apparent, overconfidence in his work which bordered on seeming arrogance …
Normally, I would treat a letter of reference as one example from the CRU emails where Dr. Mann’s (or anyone’s) right to privacy should be respected. But, as will become clear, Mann shows far less respect for the privacy of others, and does not deserve that level of respect. And far from being persecuted, as he likes to portray himself, he has often been the persecutor.
Furthermore, as was their purpose, Briffa’s comments have a direct bearing on an informed assessment of Mann’s work, work which underpins policy decisions affecting everyone on the planet. They are even more relevant to Mann’s current defamation case, as his lawyers have made his character a central argument in their complaint, just as it was in some of the reports they cite.
Discretion is not the better, or any, part of Kelly Anspaugh. In February 2012, Gary Wamsley, of the Berthoud Recorder Online posted an article on Peter Sinclair’s Crock of the Week about Peter Gleick and the phishing and forging of the Heartland Institute’s internal documents. Wamsley then posted, with permission, some emails he had received in response to the article on his own website, including one from Anspaugh, which he had originally sent to Joe Bast, the President of Heartland. True to form, the brown stuff still flows from his pen, but it is his postscript that is interesting.
You, sir, are, in my opinion, a turd. Your organization is a cesspool. Please forward this to the FBI. I’d love my opinion of you and your organization to be on file somewhere. Then let history judge.
p.s. I’d love as well for you to contact my attorney. His name is Jeff Ruch. He is executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You might be hearing quite a lot from him and his organization in future. I certainly hope so.
Dr. Kelly Anspaugh
Department of English
So, if we accept Anspaugh’s claim, which he wants put in the public record as well as the private ones of the FBI, then his association with Mann is indeed a lot closer than the simple one between a blogger and a drive-by blog-commenter. Jeff Ruch, and his organization PEER, are the ones backing Mann’s litigation.
Futhermore, Mann frequently addresses Kelly Anspaugh as “K.C.” yet Anspaugh’s middle initial “C” does not appear on his Facebook handle. Nor does it appear on the Facebook page which that handle links to. A Google search of Anspaugh’s name without the initial yields ten times as many results as one with it. He tends not to use it, except, as you can see, in emails. Mann has either performed more than a cursory Google search of Anspaugh and/or the two correspond. I think the latter seems more likely.
So why did Mann go back to a four-month-old thread to delete Anspaugh’s Sandusky comment?
Seven Days Before Christmas
Anspaugh compares ‘deniers’ to Jerry Sandusky.
Anspaugh and Mann discuss the video parodying Anthony Watts as Hitler and the finer points of irony.
Anspaugh fantasizes about throttling “deniers”. Mann replies “I try to hard to resist that temptation”.
Anspaugh outlines the traits of “the denialist”
Mann replies: Kelly: so you know Fred Singer then?
Anspaugh then describes the circle of Hell reserved for “for the likes of Singer, Monckton, Watts, et al.”
Tom Nelson spots Anspagh’s “denialist” circle of Hell comment and blogs about it. As does Anthony Watts (with hat-tip to Nelson) commenting that “Dr. Michael Mann sure has interesting and entertaining Facebook friends”. Incidentally, that was the first I had heard of Kelly Anspaugh, all the material about him cited here was discovered subsequently.
Dec 22 (presumably)
Mann receives a $10 Costco calendar from Watts.
Dec 22, 12:32 PM
Mann tweets about the calendar.
Where did #AnthonyWatts (#WUWT) get funds for widely distributed #climatechange #denier calendar? #KochMachine
Dec 22, 15:02
Mann posts a link on his Facebook page to a ‘parody’ web site (although some might regard the site’s URL as phishing). The linked page contains a screen capture of Anspaugh’s Dante comment and a photoshopped image, titled St. Anthony Driving The Warmists Into The River Of Phlogiston, showing the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden. Adam’s face has been overlaid with that of Mann; Eve’s with that of an unknown female and Anthony Watt’s face has been pasted onto a sword-wielding figure driving the two towards the molten inferno of hell. It’s crap.
Mann introduces the link with the title VVatts UpWith: That? Inferno and the cryptic statement. “This one’s for Kelly ; )”. Regular visitors will, of course, know that he is referring to regular contributor, Kelly Anspaugh, and in particular his comment from five days before.
Incidentally, use of Mann’s image was one of the complaints his lawyers made about the Hide The Decline video. And in the current case, one defendant stands accused just for linking to ‘offending’ material. Mann does the same here on both counts.
Dec 22, shortly before 6:07 pm (time of first comment)
Anthony Watts reports on Mann’s tweet about the calendar, mocking his apparent paranoia.
I send Michael Mann a free WUWT calendar as a Christmas gift, and he goes full conspiracy theory.
Some days, you just have to laugh. As WUWT readers know, we’ve had the Josh 2013 Skeptic Calendar done independently in the UK via Bishop Hill, … Never beyond my wildest dreams did I think it would turn into a #Kochmachine conspiracy theory issue. But then again, there’s this strange pervading idea that skeptics are well funded and well organized. …
Mann’s calendar conspiracy tweet attracts nine Twitter @replies (comments). They are all negative, calling Mann, for example, ridiculous, buffoon, and nitwit. Unlike Facebook, Mann cannot as easily delete these Twitter @replies.
Dec 23, 12:45 PM
Mann twits again.
#WUWT minions out to defend #Watts against having spent any of his 88K from #Heartland (i.e. #Koch et al) on calendar. So how did he spend?
Dec 24, shortly before 1:07 pm (time of first comment)
Watts re-posts that tweet and reports that Mann’s mini-meltdown has gone viral.
As reported this past weekend, we had a hilarious case of Mann overboard! Since then, it has become the #1 story on WordPress worldwide. It stems from a $10 calendar from COSTCO I sent Dr. Mann, Dr. Gavin Schmidt, Dr. Peter Gleick and Dana Nuccitelli of “Skeptical Science” as Christmas gifts. As I said then, a little good humor didn’t work on the humorless.
Not content to simply stay quiet or just admit he went overboard in his claims while the world laughs at his reactions …
Sometime between Dec. 24 and Dec. 29 Mann scrubs Anspaugh’s comments from his Facebook threads.
[But see also Update Jan 8 at bottom]
Anspaugh’s Aug 27 Sandusky comment is gone.
Anspaugh’s Aug 30 comments about the Watts-Hitler parody video are gone. But Mann neglected to delete his replies “yes–its a great example of “Poe’s Law’ ” (complete with winking smiley) and “hah–good point Kelly!”.
Anspaugh’s Aug 31 denier-throttling fantasy is gone. But Mann neglected to delete his reply: “Hi Kelly, I try to hard to resist that temptation”.
Anspaugh’s Aug 31 praise of Mann (and his own) literary skills is gone. But Mann neglected to delete his reply: “thanks Kelly, much appreciated”. Ironically the comment which follows that one is also by Mann and about scrubbing.
the guy has scrubbed and re-posted his review again to get rid of the bad ratings. Seems like abuse of Amazon review privilege (there is an option to report that to Amazon–you click ‘report abuse’)
And Anspaugh’s Dec 17 molten Medieval metaphor has vanished as assuredly as the Medieval Warm Period did from Mann’s hockey stick. But Mann neglected to delete his reply: “Kelly: so you know Fred Singer then?” leaving it orphaned as well. In any case, that comment was re-posted on several blogs prior to its deletion.
In fact, Mann has scrubbed every comment that Anspaugh ever made on his Facebook threads. But has left some evidence of their existence, which you can see if you do a Google search of Mann’s Facebook account for the terms Anspaugh, Kelly or KC.
You can also see a cached snippet of his Sandusky comment in Google’s search results. But these will, I think, eventually disappear as the cache is updated.
There is no easy way to archive snapshots of Facebook pages with services such as WebCite (or perhaps there is ; ). In any case I have screen captures.
Curiously, Anspaugh’s own Facebook page has also disappeared (evidence that it ever existed can be found in the comments here).
The Fall of Mann?
So did Mann banish Anspaugh from his Facebook domain because he had, perhaps, eaten from the tree of knowledge and voiced a skeptical opinion? Not likely. Although Mann deleted Anspaugh’s Dante comment he did not delete his own Dec. 22 VVatts UpWith: That? Inferno post, which is a clear reference to it. And Mann made clear, with his statement “This one’s for Kelly ; )”, that it was in honour of him.
A comment Mann added to that same thread, two days later (Dec. 24), suggests a more likely reason.
A note to all commenters: Please refrain from posts that imply malicious intent, i.e. lying, dishonesty, etc. The facts alone are damning enough.
Compare it to this statement which appears no less than five times in the complaint filed by Mann’s lawyers.
In making the defamatory statements …[the defendants]… acted intentionally, maliciously, willfully and with the intent to injure Dr. Mann.
It appears that Mann realized that the contents of his Facebook page might be used against him in his current defamation case. They reveal him to be a hypocrite and undermine his claim to have suffered “emotional distress”.
His calendar comments also make him look like a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Again this does not help his case, as his lawyers present the defendants behaviour towards Mann as a protracted campaign in which “the Sandusky scandal presented a new avenue to castigate Dr. Mann”.
Did Mann decide on his own to issue that legally phrased warning to commenters and then to scrub his Facebook threads of inconvenient comments or was he advised to do so?
The timing is important. Mann posted his warning on Dec. 24, just as his calendar comments were going viral. Mark Steyn was one of those who linked to Watt’s Dec. 22 post about the calendar, with the words “Have a paranoid Christmas with Michael Mann” (but the exact time he did so is not known).
Mann’s lawyers will almost certainly monitor Steyn’s homepage (announcements regarding the case have been posted there). So it is quite possible that Steyn’s post alerted them to the existence of embarrassing content on Mann’s social media accounts.
Mann’s scrubbing of content relevant to his current defamation case shows bad faith and may earn him the displeasure of the judge. However, if social media was included in any discovery request made by the defendants’ lawyers (perhaps even obliquely) then Mann could be in serious trouble. And if Mann’s lawyers advised him to scrub those accounts, especially after such a discovery request had been made, then they too could be in serious trouble. In any case, any competant lawyer would foresee that such content might be the subject of a discovery request.
I ♥ hot deniers
It’s called spoliation.
The spoliation of evidence is the intentional or negligent withholding, hiding, altering, or destroying of evidence relevant to a legal proceeding.
One recent case is particularly instructive.
Facebook Spoliation Costs Lawyer $522,000; Ends His Legal Career
eDiscovery Law & Tech Blog, Nov. 15, 2011
In what many are calling the largest eDiscovery sanction penalty ever leveled directly against an attorney, a Virginia state judge ordered lawyer Matthew Murray to pay $522,000 for instructing his client to remove photos from his Facebook profile, and for his client to pay an additional $180,000 for obeying the instructions. …
… Murray instructed his client through his assistant to “clean up” his Facebook account. “We do not want blow ups of other pics at trial,” the assistant’s email to Lester said, “so please, please clean up your Facebook and MySpace!”
The attorneys we speak with are telling us that social media evidence is relevant to nearly every case they handle and the savvy ones are using social media evidence to win their cases. And as we recently noted, since 2010 social media evidence played a key role in 675 different cases with published decisions reflecting such involvement and in presumably tens of thousands more cases not involving published decisions.
The damning spoliated items in that case were nothing so dramatic as comparing one’s opponents to a paedophile (i.e. the same alleged defamation you are suing for) or parodying them as Hitler or fantasizing about throttling them or graphically loving the thought of them finding it hot in hell. It was one photo of the plaintiff wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with “I ♥ hot moms.”
The photo had no bearing on the central issue of the case, culpability for wrongful death. It only affected (and marginally at that) the award made to the plaintiff for his “emotional distress”. Even so, the culprits were severely punished for trying to subvert the law.
I have nothing so extravagant and “flashy” as a calendar to give. So, to Michael Mann and all his lawyers, I offer (a belated)
Merry Christmas ; )
h/t to Steve Kates at CatallaxyFiles.com for the ‘Inherit the Wind Farm’ reference.
Update Jan 8:
Anspaugh’s comments are visible again on Mann’s Facebook account. Out of curiosity, I clicked on a link to one of those comments, on Jan. 8, to see if Mann had yet deleted his own replies to Anspaugh. That is the first knowledge I had that they reappeared. They were not to be seen around Jan. 1 – 2.
I can only assume that those comments were ‘hidden’ and then ‘unhidden’ and not deleted. I do not know what means were used to do this. I do not use Facebook and was not logged into it at any time when browsing search results of Mann’s account.
Apparently, there are ways to hide an individual user’s comments from your Facebook threads, while still leaving them visible for that person and their ‘friends’. See:
- Can Facebook Page Administrators Hide Comments Again?
- How to Silence Noisy Facebook Friends
- Hide/Block/Remove/Delete Facebook Friend User Updates on the Wall
Whether that is what Mann did or not, I don’t know. Neither do I know if the reappearance of Anspaugh’s comments had anything to do with this article or was the result of Mann’s lawyers receiving a discovery request for social media or was just coincidence.
There were no new comments by Anspaugh in Google’s cache since the last time I checked.
Anspaugh’s Facebook page is also visible again. It may only have been hidden to me, for a time, as non-logged-in Facebook user or non-‘friend’ of Anspaugh. I don’t know. It is also visible again at the Facebook index page for all users with that name (whereas before it wasn’t).
Incidentally, Anspaugh’s profile photo is not of him. It is a picture of the Irish writer Brian O’Nolan (aka Flann O’Brien).
I won’t report on any subsequent hiding/unhiding. I now have all the screencaps I wanted which I didn’t have before. Taking screen captures with an app on your hard drive is of limited use, as images can be forged (and authenticity becomes an issue). There are services such as WebCite, where you can archive a web page from a specific day. But for some reason it failed to capture Facebook pages. Diigo.com takes image snapshots of web pages and uploads them (directly from there, not via your hard drive). They provide a Firefox add-on.
Links to screen captures at Diigo.com
- Sandusky comment
- Hitler parody comments
- Denier throttling fantasy
- The unrecognized genius of Anspaugh
- Dante comment