The National Review is a political magazine, and Mark Steyn, I think, writes for them (I really don’t keep track). A while back Steyn and/or the National Review made some seemingly very defamatory statements about Michael Mann, the climate scientist. Career-damaging really icky accusations of fraud and such. They were bogus accusations, but they were also not just trollish yammering of the type we see all the time from the science denialist gaggle. So, Mann sued them.
I prefer the Law and Order version of law. Something happens on Monday, on Tuesday everything is confusing, on Wednesday there is a car chase or something, on Thursday everyone is in court and on Friday the whole maneno is done with and everyone is back to eating donuts. Real legal stuff drags on forever. If you want to catch up, here are a few blog posts and other items that might help. (That was a search using the Climate Science Search Engine, which is on the right side bar of my blog!)
Anyway, there is a new development. National Review has filed a long and boring legal document that appears to be some kind of whinging about how the case against them should go away. Eli Rabbit has made two comments about it that I agree with. First, he notes that the document states that the prior yammering by National Review is not officially “malice” because they really believe the things they say. But, in the same document, they claim that “Read in context, Steyn’s commentary was protected rhetorical hyperbole, not a literal accusation of fraud or data falsification.” See meme.
The second point also stuck out as a sore thumb when I looked at it, and it is so obvious that I assumed I was reading the legal document incorrectly. But Eli confirms. From the legal document:
…critics have argued that the hockey stick is misleading because it splices together two different types of data without highlighting the change: For roughly the first nine centuries after the year 1000 A.D., the graph shows temperature levels that have been inferred solely from tree-ring samples and other “proxy” data. But from about 1900 onward, the graph relies on readings from modern instruments such as thermometers.
I’m pretty sure the technical legal term for this is taurus craps puris*. The hockey stick graph in its original form and most early incarnations has color coding or other appropriate line style differences to distinguish between the records. Some people have taken both the hockey stick graph and other similar graphics and merged the data into a single squiggle for presentation purposes, an acceptable if not always wise method. The National Review legal document also makes mention of shifting between proxies and instrumental data. They suggest that a broken instrumental record should have been used instead of simple temperature measurements with thermometers and stuff. This harks back to the time the climate science denialists stole a bunch of scientists’ email and made stuff up about it (a complicated story but one you can read about in detail in Mann’s book).
This filing by the National Review is a lame defense against a very well argued and appropriate law suit. I’m sure this won’t last until Wednesday in court. (Law and Order time.) Not only are their claims wrong, but they have been known to be long for a very long time.
*Translates roughly as Complete and Utter Bullshit.