Tim Ball’s Statement of Claim

Richard Littlemore has posted Ball’s Statement of Claim. Here is the heart of it with my commments:

8 The letter to the editor contains the follow statements which contain inaccuracies and are defamatory of Ball:


“…newspapers ought to report factual summaries of authors’ credentials. You note that he ‘was the first Climatology PhD in Canada and worked as a Professor of Climatology at the University of Winnipeg for 28 years.’

Ball received a PhD in Geography in the UK in 1982, on a topic in historical climatology. Canada already had PhDs in climatology, and it is important to recognize them in [sic] their research. …

According to Ball’s website, he was not a climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg for 28 years. And how could he have? He did not even have an entry-level PhD until 1983, that would allow even Assistant Professor status.
During much of the 28 years cited, he was a junior Lecturer who rarely published, and then spent 8 years as a geography professor.
His work does not show any evidence of research regarding climate and atmosphere and the few papers he has published concern other matters. There are great gains to be made in science from conjectures and refutations, but sometimes denial is nothing more than denial.”

9 Some of the aforementioned statements are inaccurate. Ball was awarded a Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Science at the University of London in Climatology in October of 1983. Ball has never had a website, but in any event, he was a professor at the University of Winnipeg from 1988 to the date of his retirement.

The only inaccuracies identified here is that Ball’s PhD was 1983 instead of 1982, and that the information about Ball came from a site owned by Envirotruth rather than a website owned by Ball. I do not think that these have damaged Ball to the tune of $325,000.

And since Ball retired in 1996, it follows that he was a professor for 8 years, not 28 years as originally claimed in the newspaper.

10 During his employment as a professor at the University of Winnipeg. Ball has produced
many articles, columns, research and commentary on climate in Canada and elsewhere and has given many lectures to government, industry, and public forums and interest groups on climatology and the issue of global warming.

This does not identify any inaccuracies in Johnson’s letter. Johnson referred to published research papers. I could only find four such papers by Ball in the Web of Science. Articles, columns and lectures are not research papers.

11 In addition to the factual inaccuracies aforesaid, the words referred to in paragraph 8 of the Statement of Claim, are defamatory in their plain and ordinary meting and in their innuendo which suggests that:

(a) Ball has falsified his professional and academic credentials;

Johnson did not say that Ball falsified his credentials, but that the newspaper had published incorrect information about his credentials. Which point was conceded by Ball in para 9 — he was not a professor for 28 years.

(b) that his “entry level PhD” is something less than a full PhD and is not a PhD in climatology;

The plain and ordinary meaning of Johnson’s statement is that a PhD is an entry-level qualification for being an assistant professor. Johnson stated that Balls PhD was “in historical climatology”. I believe that the plain and ordinary meaning of “in historical climatology” is “in historical climatology”.

(c) he does not have the academic background and qualifications to make serious comments on global warming;

(d) he has not done sufficient research, study or publication of articles in the area of climate and atmosphere to give serious opinions with respect to global warming; and

Johnson did not make these claims. On the other hand, Ball did make such claims about Tim Flannery:

Aussie zoologist Tim Flannery has no professional credentials in the field and so blunders regularly while pushing governments to save the world from global warming.

Now that one really is defamatory.

(e) he is denying that global warming is occurring on the basis of denial alone and not on the basis of evidence of any scientific research.

Jeepers, this is desperate.

12 Johnson’s letter to the editor did not speak at all to the issues raised in Ball’s op-ed piece but amounted to a false and malicious attack on Ball’s reputation as a noted climatologist and authority on global wanning.

Ball’s op-ed piece did not speak at all to the issues raised in Flannery’s book but amounted to a false and malicious attack on Flannery’s reputation as an authority on global warming.

13 Ball says that the Defendants Calgary Herald, Motley, Anderson, Zurowski and/or Firby were negligent in publishing this letter to the editor, without first checking with Ball or other sources to determine if the allegations in the letter to the editor denigrating Ball’s professional and academic qualifications were accurate.

But the allegations were accurate: Ball was not a professor for 28 years and he wasn’t the first Canadian climatology PhD.

Comments

  1. #1 Richard Littlemore
    September 18, 2006

    Nicely parsed.

  2. #2 Mary Rosh
    September 18, 2006

    Tim Ball was the finest climatology professor I ever had. There were a group of us students who would try to take any class that he taught. He finally had to tell us that it was best for us to try and take classes from other professors to be exposed to other ways of teaching the material.

  3. #3 Chad
    September 18, 2006

    “He finally had to tell us that it was best for us to try and take classes from other professors to be exposed to other ways of teaching the material.”

    Hey John Lott! LOL

  4. #4 pough
    September 18, 2006

    Tim Ball needs a new keyboard. His current one has a sticky “2” key.

  5. #5 Abe G
    September 18, 2006

    Wow, there’s even less here than I thought.

    Even Ball’s ultra-stretched claim that Johnson defames him for saying he “adjusted” his CV fails when one sees that, well, he adjusted his CV.

    So, Mary, are you disappointed that such a fine professor would stoop to such obvious intimidation tactics to silence a critic? Or was that one of the esteemed Dr. Ball’s lessons? Or are you afraid to say anything negative? I can’t blame you there.

  6. #6 Craig Pennington
    September 18, 2006

    So, Mary, are you disappointed that such a fine professor…

    It’s a joke. Google “John Lott” and “Mary Rosh”. More sockpuppets, less credibility ;-)

  7. #7 John Cross
    September 18, 2006

    Tim: If you don’t mind could I suggest that we start a list on this thread of the different number of years that Dr. Ball is supposed to have been a University Professor at University of Winnipeg.

    Thanks to Eli we have references for 28 and 32. I can add another. This says he was climatology professor for 25 years at the University of Winnipeg.

    Any others out there?

  8. #8 stewart
    September 18, 2006

    I don’t see where Johnson was guilty of anything other than a) the truth, and b) an infelicitous turn of phrase, with ‘entry level PhD’, when he means PhD that allowing attainment of an entry-level professorship. Given that there are no gradations in PhD (with the possible exception of Doctor of Science, which Ball seemed to aspire to in his clarification), Ball seems easily offended for much lesser comments than he makes about others.

  9. #9 Mark [Section 15]
    September 18, 2006

    Any small factal errors like that which do not substantially change one’s point is defended as fair comment and is not defamatory. Consider:

    “Mr. Jones erred and defamed me when he said that I ate 13 live babies. In fact, I ate only 11 and one-half!”

    Libel law in Canada is aristocratic and steep, but not stupid.

  10. #10 Abe G
    September 18, 2006

    “It’s a joke. Google “John Lott” and “Mary Rosh”. More sockpuppets, less credibility ;-)”

    Ah. So hard to tell the BS from the meta-BS. Can I create a sockpuppet too? Dirk McHammerloins?

  11. #11 garhane
    September 19, 2006

    I am left wondering. When the man got his Phd, was there something then available at this university in London called “climatology” or was his degree in (historical) Geography. His subject sounds like it was that (the weather records of the Hudson’s Bay Co). There is surely nothing wrong with that, of course, but why all this grandstanding about “climatology” which certainly sounds like a claim to superior knowledge. When one reviews the papers that are referred to today, things have developed a long way since then. And is it possible to find a data base where his paper is preserved, and what exaectly has he done since. He was apparently a Geography instructor, or professor” at Winnipeg for what, 8 years, 12 years, 28 years. The references vary.
    I have been getting the Canadian Historical Mag (The Beaver) for years, but I do not see any source to follow up there.

    I think that if this man wishes to be known as a climate scientist of current standing, then he should clarify his CV and provide a list of his publications. It does seem to me after reading a number of his letters to various newspapers, that he advances many propositions that would not be accepted by the scientists who contributed to the UN’s IPCC.

  12. #12 raj
    September 19, 2006

    Maybe, instead of suing, Ball should have written a letter to the editor of the newspaper in question requesting clarification.

    Suing for every little slight among academics is becoming tiresome.

  13. #13 richard
    September 19, 2006

    Ball is being supported by the Friends of Science, which, like Canada’s oil industry is HQ’d in Calgary. His target in this lawsuit is in Lethbridge, I believe, a city not too far away from Calgary. I suspect that the lawsuit has more to do with the FoS wanting to intimidate those in Alberta who might question FoS’s position on global warming, and less to do with any desire to “correct” the facts.

  14. #14 per
    September 19, 2006

    Ball is being supported by the Friends of Science,…

    are you saying that ball is receiving funds from FoS ? Under any circumstances, how do you know this to be true ?

    yours
    per

  15. #15 Dano
    September 19, 2006

    Anyone interested in the shenanigans of the Friends of ContraScience and their enabling of Timmy Ball, here is a great place to start.

    Note there is no quibbling over atomistic details to sow doubt at that link.

    Best,

    D

  16. #16 Robert
    September 19, 2006

    per wondered:

    are you saying that ball is receiving funds from FoS ?

    Poodle knit:

    I think he’s saying that FoS provides Ball with moral support. Are you saying that FoS doesn’t support Ball’s position? That would be understandable, given the evidence of Ball’s, um, problems with counting beyond the number eight.

  17. #17 Jeff Harvey
    September 20, 2006

    Per and a few others have been desperately trying to present Ball as a prominent climate scientist, but the proof of the pudding is in the peer-reviewed literature. On the ISI Web of Science I found only three (!!!!!) papers in which Ball is an author with, get this, only 4 citations!!!

    Per likes to ridicule my qualifications by poking fun at the research I do on multitrophic interactions, but Per, how on Earth can you defend Ball’s puny number of papers and citations? As of this month at least I have 59 peer-reviewed papers in my career (since 1993) with close to 700 citations. And many of my peers in the field publish many more papers than I do – some authoring or co-authoring 10 to 20 a year. Leading ecologist Paul Ehrlich at Stanford has more than 300 papers in his career and he is the target of continual smearing. Steve Schneider and Tom Lovejoy, both leading researchers in their respective fields, have been continually targeted by the anti-environmental lobby for their views.

    As I have said before, its not one’s scientific pedigree that matters in debates on the environment, but what he/she says. If you agree with them, then they are defended, but if you disagree with them, they are ridiculed. Look at the Lomborg example. The guy has one peer-reviewed paper in his career (with about 20 citatons) but he has been continally feted as some kind of authority because his book says what many want to hear. Suggestions I made some time ago that I bettered him in a debate in Holland in 2002 were met with anger, dismay and disbelief on one of the shill web sites (Debunkers.org), with the notorious John A. being almost incredulous at the thought. But I found Lomborg’s arguments, especially on topics such as biodiversity and other aspects of the natural economy were easy to counter, because he has not studied these fields. I would defer to a molecular biologist on any discussions about functional genomics because this is their field of research.

  18. #18 Jeff Harvey
    September 20, 2006

    Speaking of the climate change deniers, there’s a wonderful piece out by George Monbiot in this week’s Guardian on them:

    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2006/09/19/the-smoke-behind-the-deniers-fire-3/

  19. #19 guthrie
    September 20, 2006

    Jeff Harvey, you dont happen to have any links to the debate you had with Lomborg, do you? He crops up every so often, and people take him at face value, it would be useful to have more evidence of his errors.

  20. #20 Jeff Harvey
    September 20, 2006

    Guthrie,

    I could try and send you the powerpoint presentation I gave which caused Lomborg to squirm in his chair – given only 25 minutes (far too little) my aim was to demolish his arguments on (a) interpreting the importance of ecosystem seervices, (b) estimating extinction rates, and (c) smearing scientists by misquoting them. On all counts I scored heavily; Lomborg made no attempt made to rebut each example because quite frankly he couldn’t. But he did play the honest broker in search of the truth in an attempt to convince the audience of his sincerity, and that probably worked. But don’t expect a single example I (or many other scientists) raised to make it into the revised version of TSE; including these examples would have to lead to concomitant changes in the conclusions Lomborg derived and that would be fatal for his thesis.

    Check out also Kaare Fog’s great Lomborg errors web site:

    http://www.lomborg-errors.dk/

    Its full of examples of more and less blatant distortions in TSE.

    J

  21. #21 Eli Rabett
    September 20, 2006

    per wondered:

    are you saying that ball is receiving funds from FoS ?

    Discovery is not just a cable TV channel.

  22. #22 Tc
    October 9, 2006

    In regards Tim Ball’s qualifications, my understanding is that real climatologists start with a BSc in Physics, Math or Physical Chemistry, then study climatology at the PhD level using most of what they learned as an undergraduate.

    However Tim Ball’s qualifications before his geography PhD are Bachelor of ARTS and Master of ARTS.

    Anyone know what he studied?

  23. #23 Marion Delgado
    July 1, 2007

    Ball is being supported by the Friends of Science,…
    are you saying that ball is receiving funds from FoS ? Under any circumstances, how do you know this to be true ?
    yours per

    Posted by: per | September 19, 2006 01:21 PM

    They’re part of the network that got him funding through a cut-out set up by right-wing Calgary poli-sci professor and Harper associate Barry Cooper. And Ball has returned the support, he spoke at the FOSS’s first fund-raiser.

    As to how we know?

    Few in the audience have any idea that Prof. Ball hasn’t published on climate science in any peer-reviewed scientific journal in more than 14 years. They do not know that he has been paid to speak to federal MPs by a public-relations company that works for energy firms. Nor are they aware that his travel expenses are covered by a group supported by donors from the Alberta oil patch. . . . The Science Education Fund in turn provides money for the Friends of Science, as well as Tim Ball’s travel expenses, according to Mr. Jacobs [of the FOSS].

    Mr. Cool: Nurturing doubt about climate change is big business

    If you want the big picture, the money source is the oil companies.

    1. They give directly to the fund that pays the PR firm to pay Ball to talk to the MPs. Two levels of cut-out.
    2. They give to conservative foundations and trusts who turn around and donate to the fund that … Three levels of cutout
    3. The fund funds the Friends of Science who arrange to pay for Ball’s expenses, even though the money is technically not coming out of their treasury – 2-3 levels of cutout.

    Oh and Canadian provinces need SLAPP laws.

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