Friday, January 24, 2014

Climate Scientist Wins First Round Against Denialists

This, children, is why you must always stand up to bullies, fight them and fight them hard until they go down and stay down.

Mother Jones:
In 2012—after writers for National Review and a prominent conservative think tank accused him of fraud and compared him to serial child molester Jerry Sandusky—climate scientist Michael Mann took the bold step of filing a defamation suit. The defendants moved to have the case thrown out, citing a Washington, DC, law that shields journalists from frivolous litigation. But on Wednesday, DC Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg rejected the motion, opening the way for a trial.
Although public figures like Mann have to clear a high bar to prove defamation, Weisberg argued that the scientist's complaint may pass the test. And he brushed aside the defendants' claims that the fraud allegations were "pure opinion," which is protected by the First Amendment:
Accusing a scientist of conducting his research fraudulently, manipulating his data to achieve a predetermined or political outcome, or purposefully distorting the scientific truth are factual allegations. They go to the heart of scientific integrity. They can be proven true or false. If false, they are defamatory. If made with actual malice, they are actionable.
Weisberg's order is just the latest in a string of setbacks that have left the climate change skeptics' case in disarray. Earlier this month, Steptoe & Johnson, the law firm representing National Review and its writer, Mark Steyn, withdrew as Steyn's counsel. According to two sources with inside knowledge, it also plans to drop National Review as a client.

As for Mann, he welcomes the recent ruling. "I'm pleased that the judge has reaffirmed the merit of our case and has allowed it to now move on to the discovery phase," he told Mother Jones. Beyond that, he declined to comment, but he has written about his reasons for coming out aggressively in his own defense. "As the staid scientific journal Nature put it, climate researchers are in a street fight with those who seek to discredit the accepted scientific evidence, and we must fight back against the disinformation that denies this real and present danger to the planet," he explained on the liberal blog ThinkProgress. "The worst thing we can do is bury our heads in the sand and pretend that climate change doesn’t exist."

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