Climate Scientist Wins Defamation Suit

  • Two writers, the National Review columnist Mark Steyn and former member of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) Rand Simberg, have been ordered to pay compensatory and punitive damages to climate scientist Michael Mann after they were convicted of defaming him. Forbes (LR: 3 CP: 5)
  • Steyn and Simberg were ordered to pay $1 in compensatory damages, with Steyn also hit with $1M in punitive damages and Simberg $1K. Mann argued the two writers harmed his reputation by comparing an alleged research scandal to a sex abuse case involving Penn State football. New York Times (LR: 2 CP: 5)
  • Simberg wrote that Mann could be "the Jerry Sandusky of climate science." Steyn later referenced Simberg's article, writing that Mann "was the man behind the fraudulent climate-change 'hockeystick' graph," calling him the "ringmaster of the tree-ring circus." axios.com
  • While subsequent investigations by the university and others found that Mann had committed no data manipulation, Steyn continued to call Mann's work the "fraudulent climate-change 'hockeystick' graph." Forbes (LR: 3 CP: 5)
  • The lawsuit, which Mann first filed in 2012 while he was working at Penn State, originally included both CEI and National Review as defendants. However, a court in 2021 ordered the organizations to be dropped from the case. Daily Caller (LR: 5 CP: 4)
  • Both sides are going to appeal the case with Mann's attorneys looking to pursue cases against CEI and National Review. New York Times (LR: 2 CP: 5)

Left narrative:

  • Instead of congratulating, or at the very least accepting the iconic climate science discoveries of Michael Mann, Steyn and Simberg wrote inflammatory and defaming propaganda. Their columns and blog posts were clearly aimed at harming the reputation of a man whose work didn't align with their politics — but thankfully, the court brought these malicious efforts to light and rightly punished them.
    NPR ONLINE NEWS (LR: 3 CP: 5)

Right narrative:

  • Mann's controversial methods for creating the "hockey stick" graph were critiqued by many people at the time this case began — and in response, Mann himself used character assassination tactics to go after them. As for Simberg, what he did was simply wonder whether Penn State was covering for Mann the same way they did for their football coach. Mann is not infallible and deserves to be questioned.
    WSJ.COM (LR: 3 CP: 5)

Narrative C:

  • Whatever side you're on, the defamation aspect of this case is over. The question that will be litigated next is whether the punitive damages were excessive. Supreme Court precedent shows that million-dollar punitive damages alongside thousand-dollar compensatory damages — a 1,000-1 ratio — do not meet the constitutional "due process" threshold.
    REASON.COM

Nerd narrative:

  • There's a 20% chance that there will be a 5-year period with an average global temperature >3.6˚C warmer than the 1861-1880 baseline before 2100, according to the Metaculus prediction community.
    METACULUS (LR: 3 CP: 3)
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