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Who do you Trust? (Michael Mann and Climategate)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- December 1, 2020

“One of the lessons of Climategate is that scientists are all too human…. The next few chapters … expose how some climate scientists bent the rules of scientific engagement in ways that blurred the distinction between doing good science and preserving their own reputations.” – Fred Pierce, The Climate Files, p. 79.

When reputable scientists have different views of the same subject–such as climate sensitivity to anthropogenic forcing–the players need to be assessed. Who is less emotional and less bombastic? What is the track record of the players? And in an unsettled, still young area such as climate science, who expresses humility in the face of unknowns.

This leads to the central character of the Climategate scandal, revisited at MasterResource last week, Michael Mann, who has remained as unapologetic and strident as ever in the last decade. Uber-political, everything Biden and social justice and COVID are inextricably linked to the climate cause and Progressive worldview.

Mann the scientist is more a political activist these days. Here is one of his recent tweets:

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So what does Fred Pierce have to say about Michael Mann in The Climate Files: The Battle for the Truth About Global Warming (2010)? Quotations follow:

Mann has always been a tasty target. His voluble style has made enemies and exasperated his friends.”

“The goddam guy is a slick talker and super-confident. He won’t listen to anyone else,” one of climate science’s most senior figures, Wally Broecker … told me. “I don’t trust people like that. A lot of data sets he uses are shitty, you know. They are just not up to what he is trying to do…. If anyone deserves to get hit, it is goddam Mann.” (p. 90)

And other observations by Pierce:

And in the man who first drew the hockey stick, a young paleoclimatologist called Mike Mann, [the skeptics] found an angry, outspoken, and sometimes vulnerable foe. (p. 41)

Mann had sent an angry review of the article to the journal [Science]… Some of his friends thought it was over the top. (p. 49)

In April 1999, Ray Bradley, Mann’s coauthor on the hockey stick papers, broke ranks in an email. “I would like to disassociate myself from Mike Mann’s view …. I find this [his] notion quite absurd.”

“You [Mann] seem quite pissed off with us all in CRU. I [Phil Jones] am somewhat at a loss to understand why…. We have disagreements but … we have never resorted to slanging one another off to a journal (as in this case).” (pp. 49–50)

“The last thing you want to do is help [the skeptics] by feeding the fire. Best thing is to ignore them completely.” [Michael Mann] (p. 68)

Among the most pugilistic was Mike Mann, purveyor of the hockey stick. His self-confidence and abrasiveness ensured that, for good or ill, the battles over the hockey stick would become a central figure of the climate wars….” (p. 89)

“Some accuse [Mann] of conducting a campaign of belligerence against scandal. “The hockey stick thing was exacerbated by Michael Mann’s behavior,” Judy Curry [stated]. (p. 91)

“The important thing is to deny that [the McIntyre publication] this has any intellectual credibility whatsoever.” (Mann to colleagues) (p. 93)

… the emails reveal that Mann was skating on very thin ice. There was growing private unease even among climate scientists who would defend him publicly. (p. 97)

“Mike [Mann] is too deep into this to be helpful.” – Tom Wigley to Phil Jones) (p. 96)

Certainly, Mann’s emails were vitriolic in the extreme… “I would NOT RESPOND to this guy [McIntyre]. As you know, only bad things can come out of that. The last thing this guy cares about is honest debate–he is funded by the same people as Singer, Michaels, etc.” (p. 96)

“Let us not over-egg the pudding… Do not let Susan [Solomon] or Mike [Mann] push you (us) beyond where we know is right.” -Jonathan Overpeck to Keith Briffa (p. 99)

“What are we to make of all this? Mann a decade ago was a young man in a hurry, a fiery character who made enemies and could sometimes intimidate his friends. He hasn’t changed a lot. His ability to dominate a swathe of scientific debate almost by the force of his personality is troubling.” (p. 101)

[Mann] has sometimes lacked friends or colleagues able to rein in either his impetuosity or his temper. Conflicts that could and should have been resolved instead festered and, in some cases, burst with the publication of the emails. (pp. 101–102)

3 Comments


  1. rbradley  

    This video is a humorous push back on the Mann caper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftVDI8522p0&feature=youtu.be

    Reply

  2. John Garrett  

    Michael “Piltdown” Mann is to science as oil is to water.

    Reply

  3. rbradley  

    Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute deals with Mann’s (ghost written?) falsehoods here:

    https://thebreakthrough.org/articles/the-folly-of-mann

    Reply

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