Skip to comments.Climate Lawsuit Threatens Free Speech
Posted on 02/16/2017 2:54:18 AM PST by HomerBohn
As a practical proposition if I enjoy normal life expectancy, this case will consume the bulk of my remaining time on earth. In the event that I dont, the thuggish Mann will come after my family, as has happened to my late friend Andrew Breitbarts children.
This is how well-known political commentator Mark Steyn recently summed up his opinion about the libel suit filed against him by Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann, which is expected to be set for trial soon.
I did not seek this battle. But I will not shirk the fight, and I will prevail, Steyn predicted in a recent blog.
Remarks made by Rand Simberg, a policy analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) in 2012 were the genesis of the Mann suit. Simberg referred to Mann as the Jerry Sandusky of climate science. Sandusky was a coach with the Penn State universitys football team who had been convicted of child molestation. The university has been roundly condemned for neglect in allowing Sanduskys antics to continue for so long.
This hyperbolic statement of comparing the Sandusky case to Manns was an effort to lambast Penn State for clearing Mann of accusations of scientific misconduct. Apparently, since Penn States administration had failed to rid itself of Sandusky, Simberg was saying that the exoneration of Mann by that same university was suspect.
Political commentator Steyn said as much, declaring in National Review magazine that any investigation by a deeply corrupt administration was a joke.
This was no doubt a strong comment by Steyn, but it was an opinion, and an opinion, regardless of how harsh it is, about a public figure is held to be protected speech press, under the First Amendment, according to the 1964 Supreme Court decision New York v. Sullivan.
Mann is most famous for his development of the so-called hockey stick image to illustrate his assertion that global temperatures have spiked over the last century, a spike Mann and others attribute mostly to human activity in the industrial age.
After Mann responded by suing CEI, Simberg, National Review, and Steyn for defamation, the defendants all asked that the lawsuit be dismissed on the grounds that their remarks were constitutionally protected free speech. The original trial judge allowed Manns suit to continue. Judge Natalia Combs Greene even argued that Manns defamation suit was likely to succeed. She said, To call his work a sham or to question his intellect and reasoning is tantamount to an accusation of fraud.
Surprisingly, the D.C. Court of Appeals declined to dismiss. Judge Vanessa Ruiz spoke for the three-judge panel when she wrote, Tarnishing the personal integrity and reputation of a scientist important to one side may be a tactic to gain advantage in a no-holds-barred debate over global warming. That the challenged statements were made as part of such debates provides important context and requires careful parsing in light of constitutional standards.
Despite these words, which would seem to have favored the defendants, Judge Ruiz then concluded, But if the statements assert or imply false facts that defame the individual, they do not find shelter under the First Amendment simply because they are embedded in a larger policy debate.
The D.C. appellate court said, in remanding the case back to the district court for trial, Dr. Mann has supplied sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find, by a preponderance of the evidence, that statements in the articles written by Mr. Simberg and Mr. Steyn were false, defamatory, and published by appellants to third parties, and, by clear and convincing evidence, that appellants did so with actual malice.
Steyn, in an article for National Reviews online blog, The Corner, cited Simbergs analogy of the Mann and Sandusky cases. Im referring to another cover-up and whitewash that occurred [at Penn State] two years ago, before we learned how rotten and corrupt the culture at the university was. But now that we know how bad it was, perhaps its time that we revisit the Michael Mann affair, particularly given how much weve also learned about his and others hockey-stick deceptions since.
Then, Steyn added the biting words that precipitated Manns retaliatory lawsuit: 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 service of politicized science that could have dire consequences for the nation and planet.
Steyn did note, Not sure Id have extended that metaphor all the way into the locker-room showers with quite the zeal Mr. Simberg does, but he has a point, adding that Manns hockey-stick graphic was used to advance the fraudulent climate-change thesis, and that Mann was the ringmaster of the tree-ring circus. (Editorial note: This is typical of Steyns wit, using tree-ring, instead of three-ring. Of course, animal-rights activists, the close cousins of the radical environmentalists, have now succeeded in shutting down the largest of the circuses).
While National Review has recently been dismissed as a defendant in this particular case, leaving Steyn and Simberg as the defendants, Dr. Judith Curry had previously filed a very interesting amicus curiae, or friend-of-the-court brief on the side of National Review and the individual defendants. An amicus curiae brief is often filed in high-profile cases by parties who, while not actual litigants in the case, have a strong interest in the cases outcome.
Dr. Curry recently announced she was leaving academia due to the poisonous nature of the scientific discussion around human-caused global warming. She had challenged some of the assertions of the advocates of the climate change theory, and Mann had responded by calling her three books and nearly two hundred scholarly articles a meager contribution to science and stating she played a particularly pernicious role in the climate change denial campaign [by] laundering standard denier talking points but appearing to grant them greater authority courtesy of the academic positions she has held.
In short, Mann dismissed Currys work as boilerplate climate change denial drivel.
A comparison of anyone to a convicted child molester, as was done by Simberg, even though a reasonable person could see that it was simply a hyperbolic statement, is certainly a harsh statement. But the use of the expression of climate change denier to scientists like Curry is even stronger. As despicable as the analogy to the sexual molestation of little boys is, the denier label used so freely by the climate change crowed, including Mann, conjures up a comparison to the denial of the Holocaust the systematic murder of millions in Hitlers gas chambers.
For his part, Mann has repeatedly attacked those who disagree with him on this issue as peddling pure scientific fraud, and fraudulent denial of climate change, and even taking corporate payoff for knowingly lying about the threat climate change posed to humanity.
The Curry brief noted, As it relates to this case, Dr. Curry has been critical of Appelle Michael Manns methodological approach to climate science and the conclusions he has reached. Dr. Curry has experienced personal and professional attacks from Dr. Mann for her criticism of his work. Dr. Mann has a pattern of attacking those who disagree with him and this case is another in a long line of tactics to silence debate over the science of global warming.
Dr. Curry said that she has tried to understand Michael Manns perspective in suing so many people, while at the same time so freely throwing insults at others and even defaming other scientists. My understanding is this. Michael Mann does not seem to understand the difference between criticizing a scientific argument versus smearing a scientist.
The amicus brief of Dr. Curry highlighted its concern about allowing such a lawsuit to continue. If Dr. Mann and others like him who use libel laws to silence critics are allowed to prevail, those who use normal scientific debate will find themselves disadvantaged in the marketplace of ideas.
This is why libel suits involving public figures such as Mann are required to overcome significant hurdles in order to succeed. The plaintiff in a libel suit must prove not only that the statements found offensive are false, the plaintiff must additionally prove to a jury by clear and convincing evidence (a higher standard than the preponderance of the evidence of most civil actions, and closer to the beyond reasonable doubt requirement of criminal cases) that the defendant knew the statement was false. And the statement must have been made with actual malice, or a desire to cause damage. (For example, writing that a football player won the Heisman Trophy would not be libelous, even if the writer knew that was not true, because such a statement is not damaging and no intent to cause harm exists).
Finally, a plaintiff must show that some actual damage was caused to his reputation.
Jonathan Adler, a professor at Case Western Reserve University law school, explained the dangers of making it too easy for public figures to win such lawsuits. It threatens to make it too easy for public figures to file lawsuits against their critics, and, as a consequence, threatens to chill robust political debate.
Adler also expressed concern over the reasoning of the appellate court, when it held that, because Penn State had investigated and then exonerated Mann of doctoring scientific evidence to support his thesis of global warming, Simberg and Steyn cannot then criticize that investigation. It cannot be that once some official body has conducted an investigation of an individuals conduct, that further criticism of that individual, including criticism that expressly questions the thoroughness or accuracy of the investigatory body, is off limits.
This would preclude criticism of a judicial processes that exonerated individuals found not guilty, Adler notes.
Nor is it consistent with existing First Amendment doctrine to suggest that hyperbolic accusations of bad faith or dishonesty against public figures involved in policy debates is actionable, Adler added. In other words, the opinions expressed by Steyn and Simberg were just that opinions.
Even the threat of a libel suit is often enough to inhibit the free expression of honest political opinions, because of the potential enormous costs of litigation. Winning in a successful defense, but nevertheless out thousands of dollars, does not make one feel much like a winner. As one federal court once put it in the context of controversies in the field of science (and applicable in other fields, as well), More papers, more discussions, better data, and more satisfactory models not larger awards of damages mark the path toward superior understanding of the world around us.
Now, we hear every day that we live in a democracy (which is the worst form of government) and the courts are the third branch of government and a majority of ignorant Americans believe it. Revamp the system of courts eliminating the useless layers; in other words streamline this archaic jerrybuilt system that evolved at the whim of Congress.
They understand the word, but are still angry!
When the PSU Mann, NASA’s, Hansen, EA/CRU Jones Climate Fraud debacle broke, I sent an email to PSUs Public Relations expressing my outrage at the apparent fraudulent research Mann was conducting under the PSU banner.
I got an email back from this office that started with “Dear Citizen of the Globe: ............”
Guess how it went from there.
Total whitewash and BS response (eerily similar to the ‘other’ PR disaster it was dealing with).
How is this Mann not questionable as a fraud? As a libeling us “climate deniers”?
Perjuring lying judges should face felon jail time just like any person false witnessing under oath. What they say as matrer of judgment should never be considered the final anointed say because simply wear a black robe
There is a need to appoint special jury courts to attack these judges
I’d ask that clown to show his Earth passport or shut up
I read all of the hacked emails between these three. It is disgusting at the amount of opposition suppression, conducting their own peer reviews, faking data, omitting inconvenient data, and just plain outright lying they did.
It was all about politics, and more importantly, grant money and government contracts.
Our rights under the Republic have fallen victim to a judicial tyranny.
OK!! Everybody pay attention!
Lesson for today:
1. The sun is 1,300,000 times as big as the earth.
2. The sun is a giant nuclear furnace that controls the climates of all its planets.
3. The earth is one of the suns planets.
4. The earth is a speck in comparison to the size of the sun.
5. Inhabitants of the earth are less than specks.
Study Question: How do less-than-specks in congress plan to control the sun?
The East Anglia University emails PROVED that Mann and his fellow corrupt climate alarmist are sabotaging the scientific data.
I saw the actual Fortran (code written by Mann) that was used to plot the hockey stick graph. In it, there are lines that are commented out and replaced with hard-coded math formulas to ‘juice up’ the graph. In other words, the graph was not using real data points.
When colleagues pointed this out to Mann, he replied that he had ‘lost’ a small amount of the original data collected, and was now inserting a ‘fudge’ factor to make up for the missing data.
This activity is pure fraud. Penn State officials know about this and are complicit in the lie. They want to keep the government grants flowing. Mann and Penn State officials should all be in jail, right next to the child rapist Sandusky.
Hopefully the outcome will be just and Mann will have sued to prove himself guilty of fraud.
I tell them that the only way to accurately study the impact of humans on the Earth's climate has to include accurate historical data of all the solar system planet's locations in space in respect to Earth's orbit dating back as far as the pseudoscientists claim. That data AFAIK does not exist and I don't see how it is possible to model it accurately, although I am sure models do exist. It used to be recorded by Galileo, etc. as I liken astronomy to TV in pre-electricity days, but the hockey stick is a joke to anyone who has their wits about them when it comes to scientific data analysis.
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