The many misrepresentations of Mann

My “thesis” has long been that Michael Mann is the David Irving of “climate science”.

When it became obvious that Irving intended to pursue his “free speech for me, but not for thee” frivolous libel suit against Penguin Books and historian Deborah Lipstadt, the defense sought the (paid) assistance of U.K. historian, Richard J. Evans as an Expert Witness.

Took him a few years, but Evans (and his research team) produced a 740 page Report, in the introduction of which one finds (inter alia):

Irving skews documents and misrepresents data in order to exonerate Hitler.

Holocaust deniers ‘misstate, misquote, falsify statistics, and falsely attribute conclusions to reliable sources. They rely on books that directly contradict their arguments, quoting in a manner that completely distorts the authors’ objectives’ [...] scholars ‘have accused him of distorting evidence and manipulating documents to serve his own purposes’ and of ‘skewing documents and misrepresenting data in order to reach historically untenable conclusions’ [...] ‘Familiar with historical evidence, he bends it until it conforms with his ideological leanings and political agenda…he is most facile at taking accurate information and shaping it to confirm his conclusions’

IMHO, there is evidence galore which would suggest that Mann has not only adopted – to the letter – Irving’s “techniques”, but also wrongly and repeatedly made exactly such allegations against those who have the temerity to question his pronouncements of the so-called “scientific” kind (where he might have some expertise), or of any other kind – particularly the “policy” kind and the “statistical” kind – where he demonstrably has none.

As anyone who chooses to frequent the “climate change” corners of the blogosphere can tell you, Mann’s latest antics include pursuing a frivolous “free speech for me but not for thee” libel suit against (inter alia) well-known commentator and satirist, Mark Steyn, who in recent weeks has launched a(n albeit somewhat unconventional) counter-suit against Mann.

This caught the attention of Mann’s perennial nemesis, Steve McIntyre. In a recent series of posts (here, here, here, and here) McIntyre examines Mann’s “evidence” (for want of a better word) to substantiate his claim to have been “exonerated” by multiple enquiries and/or authorities. In his introduction to today’s “chapter” on Mann’s many misleading pleadings, McIntyre writes:

Next in the list of misrepresentations by Mann and his lawyers is their inclusion of the Government Response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee as an investigation that “investigated” and “exonerated” Mann personally. This takes the total of such misrepresented investigations to four (out of the four that I’ve thus far examined). In Mann’s pleadings, Mann additionally attributed findings of the Muir Russell Review to a separate investigation by the “government of the United Kingdom”, in turn, wildly inflating the supposed findings. [emphasis added -hro]

Yet another example of (now former) faux Nobel Laureate, Mann, following the practices of faux historian, Irving. As Evans had noted in his Expert Testimony:

1.6.1 [...] Penetrating beneath the confident surface of [Irving's] prose quickly revealed a mass of distortion and manipulation in every issue we tackled that was so tangled that detailing it sometimes took up many more words than had been devoted to it in Irving’s original account. Unpicking the eleven-page narrative of the anti-Jewish pogrom of the so-called Reichskristallnacht in Irving’s book Goebbels: Mastermind of the ‘Third Reich’ and tracing back every part of it to the documentation on which it purports to rest takes up over seventy pages of the present Report. A similar knotted web of distortions, suppressions and manipulations became evident in every single instance which we examined. We have not suppressed any occasion on which Irving has used accepted and legitimate methods of historical research, exposition and interpretation: there were none.

[Evans continues:]

1.6.2 [...] I was not prepared for the sheer depths of duplicity which I encountered in Irving’s treatment of the historical sources, nor for the way in which this dishonesty permeated his entire written and spoken output. It is as all-pervasive in his early work as it is in his later publications.[emphasis added -hro]

There are also some parallels and/or similarities in the realm of media coverage pertaining to the activities of Mann and Irving. In the Preface to his 2001 Lying about Hitler: History, Holocaust, and The David Irving Trial, a book Evans wrote after the trial (and Irving’s resounding self-inflicted defeat), he observed (pp. xi-xii):

The central issue [in this book], as I believe it was in the case as a whole, is the falsification and manipulation of the historical record that Lipstadt alleged Irving had committed. Although discussion of this issue took up more time during the trial than anything else, it was barely mentioned in press reports1 of the proceedings, and as a result the general impression of the trial purveyed by the international media was a rather distorted one [...]

Distortion in the mainstream media is certainly not unique to coverage of any particular issue or individual. For example, The U.K. Guardian‘s Suzanne Goldenberg has a long-standing reputation; in her current “patch” – U.S. Environment – partiality, arrogance, superficiality and ignorance of that which she purports to cover, may well have earned her the sobriquet, “queen of distortion of all she surveys” – as she demonstrated quite ably during a video one can find via Anthony Watts’ recent excellent post, The Merchants of Smear2.

And while we are on the subject of Mann and the mediocre media coverage front, I believe it is worth noting that, in his post today, McIntyre had concluded his introductory paragraph by observing:

As a secondary issue, Mann’s claim that this “investigation” was widely covered (or covered at all) in international media is also untrue, a point that Joe Romm complained about at the time.

Frankly, I cannot believe that media mavens such as Goldenberg, Leo Hickman and Andy Revkin are unaware of that which McIntyre has been assiduously documenting. Readers will recall that they were very quick on the draw in promulgating Peter Gleick’s concoctions, without even bothering to validate his hand-dandy pack of smears, two years ago.

Are they so deluded and blinded by their long-standing active dedication to “the cause” that they are failing to bring this indisputable (and verifiable) evidence of Mann’s fabrications to the attention of their readers? Are they simply too lazy? Or is it that they just don’t care?

At the very least they might have had the decency to report on Judith Curry’s recent observations vis a vis Mann and his world:

For the past decade, scientists have come to the defense of Michael Mann, somehow thinking that defending Michael Mann is fighting against the ‘war on science’ and is standing up for academic freedom. Its time to let Michael Mann sink or swim on his own. Michael Mann is having all these problems because he chooses to try to muzzle people that are critical of Mann’s science, critical of Mann’s professional and personal behavior, and critical of Mann’s behavior as revealed in the climategate emails. All this has nothing to do with defending climate science or academic freedom.

The climate science field, and the broader community of academics, have received an enormous black eye as a result of defending the hockey stick and his behavior. Its time to increase the integrity of climate research particularly with regards to increasing transparency, calling out irresponsible advocacy, and truly promoting academic freedom so that scientists are free to pursue research without fear of recriminations from the gatekeepers and consensus police.

==============

Footnotes:

1 In the interest of full disclosure, I was a dedicated follower of all the media coverage during the three month Irving vs Lipstadt trial which began in January 2000. Much of which was compiled by Dan Yurman with whom I was in contact via E-mail. Yurman’s post-trial article on the media coverage is well worth a read. Here’s how he “framed” the story:

The News Media & Holocaust Denial
A Case in Point: Irving v. Lipstadt

What would you say about a news story that involved . . .

551 news reports and editorials published this winter in just under a span of 90 days about events that took place nearly 60 years ago.

The failure of three major newspapers (USA Today, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times) in the US to “get” the story — two didn’t report anything about it until the shouting was all but over, and the third stumbled so badly it published a five paragraph retraction on its own reporting and editorial decisions.

The masquerade of a committed racist and anti-Semite as an accredited journalist in a London courtroom who’s online boasts caused her unmasking by two analysts** living six time zones and 5,000 miles away from the action.

The attempted intimidation, while a major libel trial is in session, by the plaintiff, of a writer he never met, and of a group of medieval historians whose field of study involves a era that ended 400 years before the current one and has nothing to do with the Holocaust.

The collapse of a section of a major Internet portal and advertiser supported web site when it turned out the webmaster tolerated the development and online publication of sophisticated content about the Holocaust by people who falsely claimed they were there.

Throw in the release of the diaries of an executed war criminal kept secret for 40 years and the travels of the Pope to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, and what you have is the media coverage of the trial of Irving v. Lipstadt.

** Further disclosure: one of these two analysts was yours truly, as you would learn if you scroll down to Yurman’s sub-section entitled: The Helen Darville Side Show.

2 In his essay, which pertains to efforts to silence the voice of skeptics (whom they disparagingly and deliberately call “deniers”) – even to the point of considering using the full force of the law against them – Watts writes:

We’ve already seen one prominent newspaper refuse to publish letters from climate skeptics with others following suit.

What is most troubling to me is that Oreskes and Goldenberg appear to be of Jewish descent (as does Dr. Michael Mann) and yet they all seem blind to the pattern of behavior they are engaging in and advocating; the social isolation and prosecution of climate skeptics which seems so reminiscent of the ugliness in times past. I honestly don’t understand how they can’t see what they are doing to silence climate skeptics is so very wrong.

As a Jewish person, their actions and words are extremely embarrassing to me – and I don’t understand their choices, either. The only charitable reason I could possibly imagine for their inexcusable attitudes, words and behaviours is that their superficiality and willful ignorance of history simply knows no bounds. Can this condition be cured? Perhaps for some (whether they are Jewish or not); but in their case (along with that of some others), I’m inclined to think it may well be terminal.

8 thoughts on “The many misrepresentations of Mann

  1. In my younger days I was at meetings with prominent “environmentalists” where media manipulation was discussed. This was all in the name of saving the environment and promoting the cause. Sometimes it was one on one discussions with the “Great Ones” of the cause.

    It was accepted that outright lying to the media to build a case for action or publicity was acceptable. They believed that the media was lying to their readers anyway — so lying to the media was not really a sin. They were manipulating the manipulators.

    It seems to me that people are now carrying on in this fine tradition. The objective of the well known organizations is to gain funding and acceptance. It’s all about the bottom line — about paying the big salaries of the people at the top.At least in the early days the purpose was to gain funding to promote a worthwhile cause and/or to perform some task that really would contribute to a better planet. There was a ratinale for the lying and the manipulation. Some people who were with Greenpeace bloke off because they realized that the lies and manipulation were now about the money — not about the cause.

    It seems that now people believe that it is OK to lie to the media and brazen it out when called on a mis-truth. It is now a cultural thing. It is acceptable practice.

    Cheers!

  2. The analogy to David Irving is very apt. I think Steyn’s counter-suit is a brilliant move – it certainly raises the stakes for Mann in the game he’s chosen to play.

    Anyone have any ideas about who is footing the bill for all of Mann’s various and sundry law suits?

  3. Hilary, you’re on the right side of these two massive issues. I aim to put down some more thoughts on how we should think about and react to ‘climate deniers’ later this week (on BH but perhaps I bounce a few here too) It’s a disgusting allusion – not least because the reality it diminishes is so grave. Thanks for your sensitivity and what you bring to the debate.

  4. ‘Let truth and falsehood grapple; who ever saw truth put to worse in free and
    open encounter.’ said John Milton. Guess the censorship brigade know this …

  5. Thanks, Hilary, for all your efforts. [snip totally unrelated comment and link]

    Oliver, I’m sorry that you do not seem to understand “Please do not do this”. But next time you post an irrelevant comment here, I shall put you on pre-moderation. -hro

  6. Fine analysis of the debate as usual, Hilary.

    One thing I’ve never been able to get my head around—and it might just be a difference between the historian’s and the scientist’s way of looking at things—is this:

    What exactly is wrong with “relying on books that contradict one’s own arguments”? Surely the raw ingredients of an argument—the data or, as non-scientists might say, “facts”—are common property and you shouldn’t have to stipulate to the author’s conclusion as a precondition of being allowed to make use of the various things they mention on their way to the conclusion? I’m sure I’m missing something here, and would be grateful to anyone who can fill me in.

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