March 9, 2011: Please note updates at the end of this post -hro
“They’re street fighters and we’re Cub Scouts,” says [Michael] Mann. “The Cub Scouts are going to lose this fight if we don’t become more wily.” [Source]
In Dr. Judith Curry’s week in review, she notes and asks:
The climate wars have continued this week, aided and abetted by the Gleick affair.
The LA Times has a lengthy article on Michael Mann’s new book: The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. Has anyone read this yet? I read the 2+ chapters available for free at amazon.com. [Much of the] LA Times review reads like it could have been written by Michael Mann himself [...] [emphasis added -hro]
Unlike Peter Gleick, my ethics do not permit me to “review” a book I have not read. But in the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I did read the sample available via Kindle; but I only looked, I did not buy – either the book or Mann’s self-serving BS. A few things jumped out at me, though.
The first paragraph of the Prologue to Mann’s exercise in creative writing begins:
On the morning of November 17, 2009, I awoke to learn that my private e-mail correspondence with fellow scientists had been hacked from a climate research center at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom and selectively posted on the Internet for all to see. Words and and phrases … from thousands of E-mail messages [...]“
Setting aside the fact that his E-mail correspondence is not “private” merely because he says so, I find it quite astounding that Mann should have learned all this when he ‘awoke on Nov. 17, 2009″, considering that:
- After more than two years, the Norfolk Constabulary have failed to establish – let alone confirm – whether or not the E-mail disclosures were the result of a “hack”, a leak by an insider or made available for the plucking
- None of the actual content of the emails was posted until November 19, 2009.
- Even poor Phil didn’t know the actual content of the emails on Nov. 20. So how Mann could have known on Nov. 17 is quite a mystery! Not to mention that …
- On Nov. 23, 2009 Mann’s buddy, Gavin’s Schmidt’s story began:
At around 6.20am (EST) Nov 17th, somebody hacked into the RC server from an IP address associated with a computer somewhere in Turkey, disabled access from the legitimate users, and uploaded a file FOIA.zip to our server. They then created a draft post that would have been posted announcing the data to the world that was identical in content of the comment posted on The Air Vent later that day. They were intercepted before this could be posted on the blog. This archive appears to be identical to the one posted on the Russian server except for the name change. Curiously, and unnoticed by anyone else so far, the first comment posted on this subject was not at the Air Vent, but actually at ClimateAudit (comment 49 on a thread related to stripbark trees, dated Nov 17 5.24am (Central Time I think)). The username of the commenter was linked to the FOIA.zip file at realclimate.org. Four downloads occurred from that link while the file was still there (it no longer is) [...]
Phil Jones’ story of Nov. 20 indicates:
[Q] “Have you alerted police”
[Jones' answer] “Not yet. We were not aware of what had been taken.”
Jones says he was first tipped off to the security breach by colleagues at the website RealClimate.
[Jones] “Real Climate were given information, but took it down off their site and told me they would send it across to me. They didn’t do that. I only found out it had been released five minutes ago.”
So whose version of the gospel should one believe? Mann’s, Schmidt’s or Poor Phil’s? And how – on the morning of Nov. 17 – did Mann know that there were “thousands of E-mail messages”? In fact, there were considerably fewer than two thousand emails in that release.
Oh, well, perhaps Mann’s precious (or remarkably precocious) tree-rings were able to tell him so ;-)
I had previously seen comments from Steve Mosher indicating that in his book, Mann was attempting to point the finger of responsibility for Climategate at Steve McIntyre. One could certainly infer such a blatant attempt from Gavin’s gospel, but I don’t recall seeing such a contemporaneous “assay” from Mann. Perhaps Mann has lifted his fingering from Schmidt’s Nov. 23 keyboarding.
I’ve also seen comments which indicate that – to his further discredit – Mann makes no acknowledgement in his book of Andrew Montford’s excellent The Hockey Stick Illusion. One might well wonder why Mann does not want his readers to know of the existence of Montford’s work. But I digress …
In response to Dr. Curry’s question, AMac, one of the “denizens” of ClimateEtc and a very knowledgeable commentator on Mann’s silly Tiljander “tricks”™, noted that another denizen, Brandon Shollenberger, had read the book and had kindly chalked up his observations on Lucia’s Blackboard – while many may have been somewhat preoccupied with l’affaire Gleick. I know I certainly was!
So my mouse and I followed AMac’s pointer to Brandon’s beginning and followed the Brandon-brick road! It was a journey of enlightenment that took a few jaw-dropping hours. As I remarked on Dr. Curry’s blog:
As I was reading Brandon’s posts, I began to lose track of the number of times the thought occurred to me that Mann is well on his way to becoming known as the David Irving of climate science.
For those who may not be familiar with his name – or his record – Irving is probably the most prolific and prominent Holocaust denier in the English speaking world. His favourite mode of “doing history” includes “add a word here, change a word there”, citing sources (in the hope that few, if any, will bother to check) which completely fail to substantiate his assertions – along with manipulation of data and obfuscation in presentation.
And those are the least of his “scholarship” sins. Mann also seems to share with Irving an arrogant – and unwarranted – high opinion of himself.
In fact, I’ve often wondered if the myth of the “big oil funded lobby” was a derivation of Irving’s outlandish fantasies of a “big Jewish/Zionist lobby”. But I digress ..
The most ironic thought that was running through my mind, as I read Brandon’s posts, was that much of the “content” of Gleick’s notorious “review” of Donna Laframboise’s The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert could quite aptly – and accurately – reflect an honest – albeit brief and equally unsubstantiated – review of Mann’s latest opus.
Perhaps Gleick – not the most careful of posters – had mistakenly pasted in his impressions of a draft of Mann’s work. This would certainly explain his inability to substantiate his claims regarding TDT, don’t you think?!
Seems to me that – just as the German publisher of Irving’s Dresden opus had added the subtitle, “A Novel”, to their publication – perhaps, in the interest of truth in publishing, this work of the “wily Cub Scout” wannabe should be re-titled Portrait of the Artist as an Aggrieved Mann: A Novel
In a subsequent comment, Brandon Shollenberger wrote:
I’ve been working off and on collecting (some of) what I posted into a single document, and just a few hours ago, I finished it. It’s not a “masterpiece,” and I left out a lot of stuff, but I think it’s still a pretty good read. My biggest regret is I couldn’t find a way to include any of the technical stuff in it. I’ve actually written up part of a technical section, but there just didn’t seem to be a way to make it work, so I’ve left it out. Because of that, a lot of issues get missed, including the Tiljander one.
I’m not really sure what to do with it, but for anyone interested in reading it, here’s a link. For anyone wanting to know my what to expect, here’s a sentence from my opening paragraph:
The book contains many mistakes, contradictions, fabrications, nonsensical statements and even a libelous claim based on an obvious misrepresentation.
Pretty much everything else is a discussion of that claim.
Brandon is too modest by far! His review is an excellent and absolute MUST read. It’s only 15 pages, so it won’t take too much of your time; but it will be time far better spent than reading a single page of Mann’s self-serving opus.
Here’s an excerpt (pp 8-9) which I’ve reformatted:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
-Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda for the Nazi government
While much of what Michael Mann says in his book is untrue, only a small amount of it is totally fabricated. This is good, as misrepresenting something is far more forgivable than just making something up.
Unfortunately, Mann does do both.
The most telling example is in Chapter 8′s note #45, partially covered in the previous section:
those claims were false, resulting from their misunderstanding of the format of a spreadsheet version of the dataset they had specifically requested from my associate, Scott Rutherford. None of the problems they cited were present in the raw, publicly available version of our dataset…
This claim is absolutely untrue. Even worse, when the claim was first made, McIntyre and McKitrick responded by posting the correspondence between them and Mann (and co-authors), proving they never asked for a spreadsheet. Despite this, Mann has repeated the claim, both here in the book, and in his testimony for the Penn State inquiry looking into possible wrong-doing:
The issue of an “incorrect version” of the data came about because Dr. McIntyre had requested the data (which were already available on the FTP site) in spreadsheet format, and Dr. Rutherford, early on, had unintentionally sent an incorrectly formatted spreadsheet.
No effort was made to verify his claim by the inquiry, so while there is no reasonable explanation for why Mann would be make this claim, it seems one thing is clear: If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.
Climategate and Time Travel
Mann begins his discussion of Climategate with a bang (page 207):
The most malicious of the assaults on climate science would be timed for maximum impact: the run-up to the Copenhagen climate change summit of December 2009, a historic, much anticipated opportunity for a meaningful global climate change agreement.1 The episode began with a crime committed by highly skilled computer hackers…
No police investigation has ever determined how the e-mails were released, yet Mann says it was the work of “highly skilled computer hackers.” Not just one hacker. Not even just one very skilled hacker. No, Mann claims to know there were multiple hackers with great skill. How he could possibly know this when the police don’t is a mystery as his note #1 doesn’t address the issue. Instead, it offers yet another fabrication:
The hackers had access to the materials in early October 2009, but held off releasing them until mid-November 2009, apparently to inflict maximum damage to the Copenhagen climate summit in early December 2009.
In fairness to Mann, he does offer a reference for his claim. It’s a newspaper article by Ben Webster that doesn’t explain how it reached its conclusion. [...]
UPDATE: 03/4/2012 02:28 PM PST – In a Guest Post at Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit, Hu McCulloch documents yet another example of the “revisionist scholarship” that can be found in Mann’s opus: Mann on Irreproducible Results in Thompson (PNAS 2006)
UPDATE: 03/9/2012 04:36 PM PST – Brandon has now made available a summary of his critique of the “technical” aspects of Mann’s work. It’s another 15 pages which he concludes as follows:
The hockey stick was originally accepted without anyone verifying it. That was a mistake. Newer hockey sticks were accepted without anyone verifying them. That was a mistake. Will the same mistake be made with Mann’s book?