the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Common Nonsense

Posted by Jeff Id on September 7, 2014

Two things have my attention today, one is not climate related.   CIA contractors in immediate proximity of the American embassy in Benghazi were specifically told to stand down rather than protect the lives of the Ambassador.   The head of the CIA in the region repeated the order multiple times and it was after a half hour and against that order (repeated on 3 separate occasions) that the security team overrode the command. The security team was so close to the fighting that they could hear the gunfire and it was only after muslims lit fires around the buildings that our ambassador was safely hidden in, that the team went in – against orders.   It was a half a day later before military support was sent.   The claim has been made that multiple bases in the region normally react with air support, none of them reacted indicating that a large scale stand down order was given.

Remember, this was the point where the “terrorist” aka muslim story line from the president was that they were no longer a threat.  The most likely fit to this data is that the US government, just prior to election, chose to sacrifice the ambassador rather than generate a negative news article.  Whether the most likely scenario is true or not, the decision to stand down when our people were in trouble was quite obviously a political calculation of some form.   They were left to be killed.

Fox news broke the story last night in an interview with the contractors, like climategate the left-wing media will be very slow to pick up the story, if ever, so I am posting a link here:

The second item which has my attention is Michael Mann’s lawsuit.  As you may know conservative commentator Mark Steyn referred to Mann’s work as fraud and bogus and is now embroiled in a lawsuit where Mann claims he was slandered/libeled by Steyn.   The problem is that Mann’s suit is being funded by left-wing groups who have a vested interest in the policies brought about with the alleged but only loosely related goal of addressing climate change. Mann has little to lose by the suit but the rulings on this case have the potential long term negative consequences to free speech with respect to critique of government.

It sounds extreme, but it is, and my favorite climate scientologist Michael Mann is right at the center of it.   His suit uses the various totally fake climategate inquiries as evidence that his work is somehow exonerated, in addition it uses the EPA endangerment finding on CO2 which foundationally gives power to regulate combustion in the US.  Claims of exoneration by the fake inquires into climategate and the even worse EPA findings, were false,  because in all cases Mann’s various hockey stick works are not what was being examined, but the line of truth is hardly a barrier to lawyers.

A recent brief to the courts from Mann’s lawyers holds much of the relevant detail.

The way this works is that “Fraud” is being presented as per-se defamatory, Mann’s lawyers are trying to attach the word “bogus” as equally defamatory in their argument.  The use of either of these words in describing scientific work, is deemed automatically libelous, unless of course it is proven true.  In this case, Mann’s defense that his work is not fraudulent, is based on various government inquiries of climategate, EPA findings, use of other equally tweaked, twisted, impeached, methods in journals to “verify” his findings.  Any pro-government science, especially a science with massive government support levels such as climate change, where more than one kid has his hand in the cookie jar, could become unimpeachable in press simply by other politicians/scientists agreeing.  Economics, medicine, and political science, are strong examples of other government corrupted fields.   Therefore, someone like myself who understands what Mann does for a living, will not be able to safely tell the truth on the subject.   I write this with some fear right now because I have examined several of his papers carefully and have repeatedly articulated obvious errors in the methodology Mann has made.   With the 501C laundered money of government behind him, a faux-suit from Mann is a scary possibility. Mistakes are not fraud, but the odds of mistakes always falling the same way dozens of times by ACCIDENT are astronomically low.  After enough failures, the statistics exceed reasonable certainty that someone is committing fraud with the very slim possibility that they are in fact INCOMPETENT.   It is this tenth of a percent chance of incompetence which has prevented me from referring to Mann’s work as fraud.

Considering that it is this vanishingly small chance in my mind that is the only thing left between fraud and incompetence, others could quite reasonably be expected to fail to differentiate the possibility.  It is a thin line which many people will, and have, intellectually crossed in the case of Michael Mann.  Such opinions are hardly unreasonable at this point and I have no doubt that in a just world, Steyn should win outright based on this alone.

But that is not the only problem.   EPA findings, which so many disagree with, are being used as evidence of TRUTH, rather than the political document they are.   My understanding is that in this courts decision, it is possible that by accepting this document as truth, such truth being evidence that no fraud existed, future court cases could also be compelled to accept the government’s version as truth.  This is certainly an unfortunate consequence of the over-politicized world of climate science.  I’m not a lawyer, and not studied enough on the matters of libel cases to understand how this will play out in use as precedent, but if my understanding is correct, it could be substantially bad for free expression.

The case is being tried in DC, which is widely known to be saturated with the most activist left-wing judicial system in the US.  Only California and New York providing any apparent competition in that dubious matter whatsoever.  With so much corruption visible from the US government in the recent decade, we can be reasonably certain that in a highly politicized case like this, neither truth nor justice will be the deciding factor.

Today is still a sunny day though so I’m not going to let a corrupt over-powerful government stop me from going to do something else with it.  Hopefully you will to.


24 Responses to “Common Nonsense”

  1. Joe said

    Polemical use of pejoratives such as “fraud” or “fraudulent” has long been differentiated by the courts from their use by an expert, especially in controversies having clear political dimensions. A spectator cannot be liable to an action for defamation an umpire in baseball even though he is plainly heard by everyone in the stadium to call the ump “a bum” after a call. If, however, a recognized expert on vagrancy or malingering were to make the same charge, a cause of action might exist. Because Mark Steyn is not an expert in climatology or in any substantively related field, he has little to fear from the likely outcome of the lawsuit.

    The principal injury here is to Steyn’s resources of time and money, which is why he has launched a countersuit that will surely prevail.

    Worse than that is the obvious intent of bogus suits such as Mann’s to discourage criticism, which is why, when Steyn prevails in his countersuit, any award for damages should be massive.

  2. Charlie A said

    It isn’t the EPA findings that Mann is using in his brief, it is the _press release_ announcing the finding. His brief used the official findings as the reference, but what he quoted was actually just from a press release. This was covered at Climate Audit a week or two ago.

  3. omanuel said

    There are many common traits in politically-correct opinions and consensus scientific opinions.

    Both seek to bully the audience into blindly accepting questionable or blatantly false conclusions.

    1. Have leaders of opposing nations been secretly working together toward a common goal?

    2. Does interstellar hydrogen collapse to form stars or do stars make and eject interstellar H?

    3. Are religions, sciences and spirituality not separate paths to the same irrefutable truths?

    4. I know society is deeply troubled today by government deceit and absence of statesmen.

    I believe the current worldwide demise of society was induced by unreported CHAOS and FEAR of nuclear annihilation after Stalin’s troops captured Japan’s atomic bomb plant at Konan, Korea in late August 1945.

    If so, world leaders and puppet scientists need assurance they will not be punished for 1945-2014 mistakes so society can quickly move past the current political roadblock to Aston’s 1922 promise of “powers beyond the dreams of scientific fiction!”

  4. Matthew W said


    Liberals spent 8 years asking where Bush was during Vietnam.
    But don’t give a crap about this.

  5. omanuel said

    Many historical events seem to be connected, when we take the time to connect the dots from: Dec 1922 to Aug 1945 to Oct 1945 to Sept 11, 2001 to Nov 2009 to Sept 11, Benghazi

  6. Craig Loehle said

    I remember being impressed as a grad student with the obligation to discuss opposing views to my own in my work, that this was an imperative. I have tried to follow this and if I slip the reviewers often fill in what I missed. I think the pressure to get grants and publish in addition to political motivations, political correctness, and post-modernism has allowed this imperative to slip, so that people simply ignore publications or data that contradicts their preferred view. This is damaging to science. Completely contradictory work is then published with no reference to each other, without caveats, with far too much certainty. Not good.

    • manicbeancounter said

      I did a degree in economics just after the collapse of the Keynesian consensus. The favorite style of essay question was “Compare and contrast…” The courses explored the development of thought on a subject over time, and the differing views. The contrasts helped illuminate each viewpoint, particularly the relative strengths and weaknesses. If you try to maintain a consensus view, then the differences within that consensus become blurred.

  7. stan said

    Perhaps the very first lesson I learned as a litigator fresh out of law school is that predicting what a judge or jury will do is the height of folly. That said, my best guess is that Mann loses his case and Steyn loses his counterclaim. I would be shocked if any appellate court ever adopts the reasoning Mann has advanced regarding these “exonerations”. Note, even if they actually had been investigations: 1) of Mann, 2) unbiased and careful in considering all relevant evidence, 3) which really did pronounce a finding of exoneration.

    Don’t forget the possible impact of all the amicus briefs from left wing outfits arguing against Mann. If, the judges are the type to be swayed by prevailing political correctness, these briefs are a pretty clear signal to them that Mann has gone too far.

    • stan said

      Since this is in moderation purgatory over at CA and it has relevance to this thread, here is a copy —


      My thoughts as a lawyer —

      You have a pretty good handle on the malice standard, but I’m not sure all your commenters realize just how difficult it is for Mann to satisfy. It does go to Steyn’s actual state of mind. Mann must show that Steyn actually believed that what he wrote was a lie, OR that he wrote it in reckless disregard for the truth. Unless there is some kind of smoking gun, Mann can’t show Steyn believed it. So it comes down to reckless disregard.

      First, the reasonable person standard isn’t applied here. Even if a jury might conclude that a reasonable person wouldn’t have written it, that doesn’t help Mann. To show reckless disregard, Mann basically has to show that Steyn had serious doubts about the truth of what he wrote.

      Second, even if Mann were correct about his assertions about being exonerated, that really doesn’t do very much for his case, even if he could prove that Steyn was aware of all of the supposed investigations.

      To highlight this point, let me posit a hypothetical case for defamation where someone published as ‘fact’ some accusation which revolved around some type of crazy conspiracy such as 9/11 was an inside job, or the moon landings were faked [note — Buzz Aldrin recently decked some jerk who got in his face with this claim who called him a liar]. Even if every single reputable source debunks the conspiracy and there is no possible way a reasonable person could believe it, a jury could still decide for the defendant on the grounds that since a sizeable number of people believe in the conspiracy, his writing it wasn’t in reckless disregard. Note — it’s a question of fact. My point is that if the defense can show that other people also believe it (even if they are all conspiracy ‘nuts’), that might very well be enough for a jury to give a defense verdict.

      So, given that the topic of this litigation involves global warming, one can begin to see just how difficult is the task that Mann has before him.

  8. stan said

    As for the government’s disgraceful behavior during and after Benghazi, lying, corruption, fraud and criminality have become standard. Look at the VA scandal. The people who killed veterans and lied about it still have their jobs and their bonuses. And they’ve been rewarded with bigger budgets. No one in the media gives a crap, especially since half of them are sleeping with Democrats in the White House or on the Hill and the other half wish they were. It’s a nasty, incestuous cesspool united in the effort to feed the public the propaganda of the Left — which is why they are so comfortable moving back and forth from one to the other.

    • omanuel said

      Yes, Stan, the US Government today operates much like the old USSR government operated under Stalin. That is no mere coincidence. Stalin was in a position of great influence after his troops captured Japan’s atomic bomb plant at Konan, Korea in late August 1945.

      Two months later the UN was established on 24 Oct 1945.

  9. johnfpittman said

    The present discussion of “scientific fraud” centers around the caveats. Since Mann and company entered the public arena, what is one man’s caveat is another’s fraud. The question is will the judicial system determine that Mann is a public figure. If so, he has several probably insurmountable problems. One is his CV that claims he was a coauthor while claiming in court documents he was not. Another is the email and public use of the word “trick.” Use of “Code” by persons is an accepted statement in court. It is apparent that the Team used “code” words describing how they hid the decline and other acts. The important part is that the code words were used as shorthand for acts.

    All sorts of motions can and will be made, but acts are evidence, and code words can be argued for intent.

  10. Tom O said

    Regarding Benghazi, months ago a retired general, I believe, stated that Benghazi was supposed to the “October surprise,” if you will, for the election that year, with the President negotiating the release of the ambassador. In other words, it was a “rent a mob” that was to attack the embassy and kidnap the ambassador, but the former seals weren’t informed of that or if told to stand down, took exception to the order and executed the purpose for which they were hired – to protect the embassy. The “rent a mob,” after suffering considerable injury due to the seals, believed the US government had set them up and took their anger out on the ambassador. If that was the case, then it is totally understandable why the case is buried and “Killary” decided to exit stage right from the State Department before it could splash back on her and her presidential plans.

  11. Attaching labels like “Fraud” means that Steyn thinks there was a deliberate attempt to deceive. It could be difficult to prove that in court in the case of Michael Mann.

    The real issue with MBH (1998) and related papers is that they presented a dubious proxy temperature record for the last 1,000 years. These papers should have been retracted.

    It does not matter whether Mann tried to deceive or was incompetent. The real issue is whether his “science” is plausible given it is at odds with what historians tell us.

    • Frank said

      GC: In the case of defamation, Mann – being a public figure – must prove that Steyn should have known that Mann did not commit fraud. As long as Steyn has a logical reason for what he wrote (based on his investigation of the situation), Steyn is entitled to publish his opinion about Mann’s behavior – whether or not that opinion is right or wrong. Steyn may not show a reckless disregard for the truth, but he doesn’t need to be correct. If Mann were not a public figure, then the correctness of my opinion becomes a factor. Having written a number of editorials about climate change and policy, Mann isn’t trying to claim that he isn’t a public figure.

      Instead, Mann is asserting that various investigations had cleared him of wrongdoing, so Steyn is required to accept those findings as “fact”. Given this facts, Steyn has shown reckless disregard for the truth.

      This is somewhat equivalent to someone writing that OJ Simpson killed his wife, and OJ suing for defamation because a jury found him innocent. If that person hadn’t made an effort to ascertain the correctness of his opinion about OJ, it might be defamation. If he has investigated and come to another opinion, he should be free to express it – whether the opinion turns out to be right or wrong. In OJ’s, a highly-motivated prosecutor needed to prove Mann guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, leaving room for my contrary opinion. There was no motivated prosecutor in the investigations surrounding Mann and no one knows what standards (preponderance of the evidence is the standard in civil cases) were used in these investigations.

      This is why the ACLU and others are supporting Steyn. If you must be absolutely certain of everything your write about someone, nothing would be published. To encourage free exchange of ideas, the standard for defamation is a reckless disregard for the truth.

  12. Frank said

    Jeff wrote: “the rulings on this case have the potential long term negative consequences to free speech with respect to critique of government. It sounds extreme, but it is.”

    This conclusion isn’t extreme. The existence of the lawsuit is ALREADY having real consequences, not potential consequences, for free speech. The people who are paying huge sums of money to fund this lawsuit almost certainly care about legislation to restrict emission of GHGs, not insults to Mann’s personal reputation. They don’t need to even win this lawsuit to change what is said in the press and blogosphere about the credibility of many scientists exposed by the climategate emails and auditing of their work by bloggers. They have shown that they can successfully bring you or I to court and run up huge legal expenses for expressing an informed opinions about parts of their work BECAUSE it survived several investigations/whitewashes.

    Before this lawsuit, would you have hedged your conclusion to account for what you estimate is a 0.1% chance that Mann is merely incompetent? The IPCC calls this “virtual certainty”.

    • Jeff Id said


      Before the lawsuit, I have regularly hedged my opinion on Mann with this same process. In my opinion is extremely unlikely that a number his publications are not falsified with intent. It is not impossible that he actually believes in the accuracy of the work he is doing. We’ve seen all kinds of people on this blog, from those who simply refuse to accept basic science to those who are such hard core believers in global warming doom that my writings are actually evil (Lewandowsky is a good example). Humanity is literally full of delusions and seems to suffer from an intense inability to think logically when emotions are involved.

      • stan said

        Lindzen — “belief seems to inevitably trump objective reality when one is free to choose ones narrative.”

        Sinclair — “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

      • stan said

        BTW — Jeff, you might think about highlighting Lindzen’s really excellent piece. His sentence about the special interests lined up to profit from global warming alarm is priceless.

        “The current issue of global warming/climate change is extreme in terms of the number of special interests that opportunistically have strong interests in believing in the claims of catastrophe despite the lack of evidence. In no particular order, there are the leftist economists for whom global warming represents a market failure, there are the UN apparatchiks for whom global warming is the route to global governance, there are third world dictators who see guilt over global warming as providing a convenient claim on aid (ie, the transfer of wealth from the poor in rich countries to the wealthy in poor countries), there are the environmental activists who love any issue that has the capacity to frighten the gullible into making hefty contributions to their numerous NGOs, there are the crony capitalists who see the opportunity to cash in on the immense sums being made available for ‘sustainable’ energy, there are the government regulators for whom the control of a natural product of breathing is a dream come true, there are newly minted billionaires who find the issue of ‘saving the planet’ appropriately suitable to their grandiose pretensions, etc., etc. ”

        He could have added the 1) news media and 2) the politicians who rake in contributions from these all special interests.

        Aligned against these special interests we have merely a few scientists concerned about integrity, the world’s poor, and some bloggers in pajamas. Hardly a fair fight.

  13. omanuel said

    Frank and Jeff are right: A lot is at stake, namely sixty-eight years of government deceit that began with two 1946 FALSEHOODS disguised as consensus science [1]:

    1. Stars are filled with Hydrogen
    2. Neutrons attract other neutrons

    [In fact stars make and discard Hydrogen and atomic bombs explode because neutrons repel neutrons]

    The falsehoods were designed to prevent public knowledge of the source of energy that destroyed Hiroshima [2].

    Why? An almost complete “black-out” of news on the CHAOS & FEAR of nuclear annihilation that followed Stalin’s capture of Japan’s atomic bomb plant at Konan, Korea in late August 1945 [3] left the public in the West unaware that Stalin:

    1. Emerged victorious from WWII, and
    2. Established the UN on 24 Oct 1945 to expand totalitarian control globally [4].

    We face a formidable opponent who will be defeated because ultimately, “Truth is victorious, never untruth!”


    1. “Why Did You Deceive Us?” Message to the Congressional Space Science & Technology Committee (Dec 2013):

    2. “Solar Energy,” Advances in Astronomy (Submitted 1 Sept 2014)

    Click to access Solar_Energy.pdf

    3. Aston’s WARNING (12 Dec 1922); CHAOS and FEAR (August 1945)

    4. Stalin’s Plan To Rule The World:

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