Climatologist Michael Mann, creator of the infamous “hockey stick” graph, has filed suit against National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute for allegedly defamatory blog posts attacking Mann and his work. Dr. Mann has posted a release about the suit on his Facebook page. I’ll post links to the complaint once it’s on-line. In the meantime, here’s my prior post on the controversy.
Given that Dr. Mann is a public figure and a prominent participant in climate policy debates, and that debate over the soundness of the “hockey stick” graph continues, I am skeptical of this suit — and I say this as someone who believes human activity is contributing to climate change and supports appropriate policy responses. All sorts of outrageous charges are made all the time in the rough and tumble of the current climate debate, and many people forthrightly believe that Mann and others have cut corners in their scientific research. I think this will make it difficult for Mann to show that those involved acted with “reckless disregard” of the truth. I also doubt the courts will be too eager to police the word choices of polemical blog posts made by political commentators in the course of heated policy debates. Then again, I’m not being paid to offer a professional opinion on this matter, and Dr. Mann has retained prominent counsel. Stay tuned.
[Disclosure: I am a contributing editor at National Review Online, for which I write occasional articles and blog posts, and I worked for CEI in the 1990s. I have not discussed the merits of this suit with anyone in either organization.]