The Competitive Enterprise Institute received a letter on August 21 from an attorney representing Penn State University Professor Michael E. Mann that demands that CEI retract and apologize for a post on CEI’s blog, Openmarket.org, written by CEI adjunct scholar Rand Simberg. The letter also threatens that they “intend to pursue all appropriate legal remedies on behalf of Dr. Mann.”
“The Other Scandal in Unhappy Valley,” the July 13, 2012 blog post at issue, criticized Professor Mann, a climate scientist who is recent years has become a leading advocate in the public debate for global warming alarmism. Mann was the lead author of research that fabricated the infamous hockey stick temperature graph. The hockey stick was featured in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Third Assessment Report (2001), but was dropped in its Fourth Assessment Report (2007). E-mails from and to Professor Mann featured prominently in what became known as the Climategate scandal.
In response to the letter from Mann’s attorney, CEI offered the following statements.
Statement by CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman:
This week CEI received a letter from Michael Mann’s attorney, John B. Williams of Cozen O’Connor, demanding that CEI fully retract and apologize for a July 13th OpenMarket blog post concerning Mann’s work. Shortly after that post was published in mid-July, CEI removed two sentences that it regarded as inappropriate. However, we view the post as a valid commentary on Michael Mann’s research. We reject the claim that this research was closely examined, let alone exonerated, by any of the proceedings listed in Mr. Williams’s letter.
And regardless of how one views Mann’s work, his threatened lawsuit is directly contrary to First Amendment law regarding public debate over controversial issues. Michael Mann may believe we face a global warming threat, but his actions represent an unfounded attempt to freeze discussion of his views.
In short, we’re not retracting the piece, and we’re not apologizing for it.
Statement by Myron Ebell, Director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment:
Penn State Professor Michael Mann’s lawyer claims that nine investigations of academic fraud have all exonerated Professor Mann. Most of these investigations did not examine Professor Mann’s conduct or even mention him, and Penn State University’s investigation was typical of that institution’s unfortunate tendencies.
The fact that Professor Mann’s hockey stick research is still taken seriously in the public debate is an indication that people haven’t read the Wegman Report to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the National Research Council’s report, or the analysis of Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick.
Professor Mann’s political advocacy is no more reliable than his scientific research. His recent book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, repeats numerous factual errors, some of them about CEI.