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DC Jury Found ‘Hockey Stick’ Critics Defamed Scientist. What Does That Mean For Scientific Discourse Going Forward?

  • A jury on Thursday found climate scientist Michael Mann and two people who criticized his signature “hockey stick” model liable for defamation, according to several critics of the mainstream scientific consensus. This ruling could have a significant impact on scientific discourse in the United States in the future.
  • Each defendant must pay Mann $1 in damages. Additionally, one defendant, Mark Stein, must pay $1 million in punitive damages, while another defendant, Rand Shinberg, must pay Mann $1,000 in punitive damages. Must be.
  • “I wouldn't be surprised if we now see a flurry of lawsuits against people who have criticized climate science and climate scientists. Such legal action may not be limited to climate change. “The debate around viral infections is also an environment in which unwanted speech that calls for silence is often targeted,” Roger Pilke Jr., an academic who has written extensively on the politicization of science, wrote on Friday. .

A Washington, D.C., jury on Thursday found two critics of a prominent climate scientist liable for defamation, but several dissenters said the result meant that critics of the scientific consensus It is said that this may have a “chilling effect'' on people.

Michael Mann won a defamation lawsuit he originally filed against Rand Sinberg in October 2012. Rand Shinberg, in a blog post for the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), names Mann as a convicted pedophile named Jerry for data manipulation allegations in Mann's groundbreaking 1998 “hockey stick” climate model. -Compared to Sandusky. ), and center-right political commentator Mark Stein, who referenced Mr. Simberg's blog post in his own writing about the “hockey stick” model in National Review.Simberg is ordered Mann must pay $1,000 in punitive damages and $1 in compensatory damages, and Stein must pay $1 in compensatory damages plus $1 million in punitive damages. Must be. (Related: Liberal media's favorite coronavirus doctor calls for national security enforcement against 'anti-science attitudes')

According to some opponents, the outcome of the case could deter critics from raising their voices against scientific orthodoxy, not only in the climate change debate but also beyond. It is said that there is.

“I hope this ruling sends the message that unfairly attacking climate scientists does not protect free speech,” Mann wrote in Thursday's article. statement Posted on X (formerly Twitter).Mr. Mann has already was suggested He said he would continue trying to sue National Review and CEI. Dropped From 2021 suits.

During the trial, Abraham Weiner, a tenured statistics professor and head of the undergraduate statistics program at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said Mann engaged in “improper manipulation” of data that made his signature model “misleading.” He testified. according to In National Review.

Mr. Mann's critics have criticized what they say is the misuse and manipulation of data in a “hockey stick” model that they claim shows global temperatures have risen more rapidly in the past few decades than in previous centuries. I made this connection to emphasize what I am doing. Critics, including Stein and Simberg, have long targeted the “hockey stick” model, which is generally acknowledged to be flawed and should not be treated as a reliable assessment of climate change. I have been claiming that there is no.

“Mainstream media outlets, including The Washington Post, are already salivating over how this court's decision will affect vaccines, coronavirus response, election results, and climate change criticism.” said Mark Morano, a former senior staffer on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. the person who later founded ClimateDepot.com told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “This will only embolden claims that some scientific claims are beyond public scrutiny and will lead to more enforcement of ‘consensus’ in areas such as climate and public health. Mann's victory in court could spur further defamation lawsuits against those who disagree with the government's official narrative. ”

surely, Several virologist Already, the ruling suggests a clear message should be sent to skeptics who say the coronavirus did not originate naturally but leaked from a laboratory.of Department of Energy and Federal Bureau of Investigation Both men say a lab leak is the most plausible explanation at this point.

Kate Sell, senior climate campaign manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said other climate scientists were also watching the Mann trial closely. Said Associated Press. Many of these scientists hoped for a positive outcome, which Mann said would “reduce the comfort and regularity with which people who don't accept climate change science talk about climate scientists, and talk about them in a very unpleasant way.” Sell ​​told The Associated Press.

The case was about “the ability for me and others to speak freely about the most important issues of our time, whether it's climate change or other issues,” Schinberg said before the ruling was handed down. told the Associated Press. “If someone else faces a lawsuit for 10 years or more for expressing their opinion, we will all suffer.”

Roger Pilke, Jr., an academic who has written extensively about the politicization of science, agreed with Schimberg that the ruling could change scientific discourse on topics beyond climate change. We believe that this poses a real and serious threat.

“This case was formally about defamation, but in reality it was not about defamation at all. As Michael Mann said after the verdict, this case is very much about politics and ideology. “Pirque Jr. said. I have written on friday. “The defense made a big mistake thinking they would win if Mann proved the defense's case, but Mann didn't choose the defense. That was a mistake…now climate science and climate I wouldn't be surprised to see a flurry of lawsuits against people who have criticized scientists. Such legal action may not be limited to climate change. It is also an environment rich with targets for silencing speech that does not exist. Watch this space.”

“The bigger issue here is not about Mann, but rather the continued failure of the climate science community to uphold basic norms of behavior within its own ranks,” Pirquet Jr. added.

On the other hand, with Mann washington post Framing the outcome of the case as a victory for scientists who call themselves principled, he also proved willing to dish out harsh insults and accusations against his colleagues. For example, National Review said climate scientist Judith Currie, who has criticized Mann in the past, falsely suggested that Mann had effectively traded sex for his advancement when he was younger. Ta.

Mann contributed to the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007. As an institution, the IPCC won That year, the Nobel Prize was awarded to him and former Vice President Al Gore in recognition of their efforts to “accumulate and disseminate more knowledge about anthropogenic climate change and lay the foundation for the measures needed to counter such changes.” ,Awarded.

The IPCC subsequently released its 2012 report. statement We made it clear that the organization, not the individual members or contributors, received the award. Mann is original complaint He claimed against Stein and Simberg that he won the Nobel Prize.

Richard Ebright, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that “supporters of false narratives and apologists for wrongdoing have been gloating about the decision on social media. “There is,” he said. Ebright was an early proponent of the lab leak theory for the origins of the coronavirus, a view supported by many in the corporate press, the scientific community, and the scientific community. government officials It was initially ridiculed as bigotry or a conspiracy theory.

Unlike Mr. Morano and Mr. Pirque Jr., Mr. Ebright is not convinced that the Mann case will have a significant impact on the ability of critics of the scientific consensus to speak out.

“I do not expect a 'chilling effect'. This decision does not set a precedent, and people who make true claims and have courage in their character do not self-censor,” Ebright said. told DCNF.

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