Writers ordered to pay $1 million for accusing Climate Change researcher of fraud

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by kazenatsu, Feb 11, 2024.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

    Joined:
    May 15, 2017
    Messages:
    35,122
    Likes Received:
    11,448
    Trophy Points:
    113
    This is an example of the political-ideological "weaponization" of the court system in a civil lawsuit case against two political writers.

    Quick summary:

    Two conservative political writers wrote something about a climate scientist researcher who supported the very politicized theory of Global Warming. They accused the researcher of using fraudulently using data to support a conclusion.

    The climate scientist sued them for "defamation", and was awarded by the court over $1 million.
    The entire case dragged on 12 years and cost the defendants a huge amount of money in court costs.


    A jury awarded $1 million US to climate scientist Michael Mann, who sued a pair of conservative writers 12 years ago.
    Mann, a professor of climate science at the University of Pennsylvania, rose to fame for a graph first published in 1998 in the journal Nature that was dubbed the "hockey stick" for its dramatic illustration of a warming planet.
    The work brought Mann wide exposure but also many skeptics, including the two writers Mann took to court.

    This is what the supposed "defamation" actually was:

    In 2012, a libertarian think-tank named the Competitive Enterprise Institute published a blog post by Rand Simberg, then a fellow at the organization, that compared investigations into Mann's work to the case of Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State University who was convicted of sexually assaulting multiple children. (At the time, Mann also worked at Penn State)

    "Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except for instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data," Simberg wrote in a blog post.
    Canadian writer Mark Steyn later referenced Simberg's article in his own piece in National Review, referring to Mann as "the man behind the fraudulent climate-change 'hockey-stick' graph, the very ringmaster of the tree-ring circus."

    A jury in Superior Court of the District of Columbia awarded Mann only one dollar in "compensatory damages" from each writer, but awarded "punitive damages" of $1,000 from Simberg and $1 million from Steyn, because Simberg and Steyn had made "false statements" with "maliciousness" and "deliberate intent to harm."

    Both writers tried to argue in court that they were merely stating opinions.

    Mann argued that he had lost grant funding as a result of the blog posts, an assertion for which both defendants said Mann did not provide sufficient evidence. The defendants pointed out that during the trial that Mann instead became one of the world's most well-known climate scientists in the years after their comments. The fact that the jury technically only awarded Mann one dollar when it came specifically to compensatory damages seems to support this view.

    "Virtually every aspect of Mann's career is better now than it was before Steyn's and Simberg's blog posts were published. His salary is higher. He hangs out with celebrities such as Bill Clinton and Leonardo DiCaprio, with whom Mann testified to having a 'bromance'. He was then working at Penn State but is now at the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania. He is making more in book royalties," Steyn wrote.

    Mann had also filed a lawsuit against the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, but the D.C. Superior Court in 2021 decided that the National Review and the Competitive were not liable for defamation in the matter.

    "I hope people think twice before they lie and defame scientists," said Kate Cell of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

    Canadian writer Mark Steyn ordered to pay climate scientist $1M US after defamation trial Steyn, who represented himself at trial, plans to appeal jury award to Michael Mann, CBC - The Associated Press, February 9, 2024

    It could be said Michael Mann took part in name-calling too. Mann called another female climate science researcher, Judith Curry, a "serial climate disinformer", in an article that appeared in the Huffington Post. These were strong words, considering that Curry's opinion on climate change issue is not very radical. She believes climate change is happening but called on other climate researchers to "employ restraint", being skeptical of some of their papers and alarmist opinions.

    Judith Curry wrote a report, submitted in 2020, that was intended to be used as part of the defense in the case against Simberg and Steyn, but the judge did not allow it to be admitted into evidence.

    She wrote:

    It is my opinion that it is reasonable to have referred to the Hockey Stick in 2012 as 'fraudulent', in the sense that aspects of it are deceptive and misleading:

    Image falsification: Mann's efforts to conceal the so-called "divergence problem" by deleting downward-trending post-1960 data and also by splicing earlier proxy data with later instrumental data is consistent with most standards of image fraud.

    Cherry picking: Evidence shows that Mann engaged in selective data cherry picking to create the Hockey Stick, and that this cherry picking contributes to the perception of a "fraudulent" Hockey Stick by journalists, the public and scientists from other fields.

    Data falsification (the 'upside-down' Tiljander proxy): Substantial evidence shows that Mann inverted data from the Tiljander proxies in a version of the Hockey Stick published in 2008. Mann did not acknowledge his mistaken interpretation of data. Even after published identification of the mistake, this mistake has propagated through subsequent literature including the IPCC 4th Assessment Report.​

    source: Report of Judith Curry, Ph. D.

    There may have been bias against the defendants because the judge and people sitting on the jury did not want to question something that had been such a centerpiece of the Climate Change movement, and sought retribution against the conservative writers for their opposition to the Climate Change theory.

    In the District of Columbia (where this lawsuit took place), of registered voters, 76 percent support the Democratic Party, while only 6 percent support the Republican Party (as of 2016).

    In my opinion the legal concept of "defamation" has always been a concerning one because it could infringe on the area of free speech and freedom of the press.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2024
  2. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

    Joined:
    May 15, 2017
    Messages:
    35,122
    Likes Received:
    11,448
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I realize these two political writers probably went "a little over the line", but this still seems to me like an attack on freedom of the press.

    Ordering a political writer to pay $1 million seems ridiculously absurd, clearly politically-motivated vengeance.

    And then the fact the judge refused to allow the jury to be shown evidence that supported the defense shows, in my opinion, the bias and corruption of the judge.
     

Share This Page