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« Jurassic PR - Josh 154 | Main | Two-sided conversation »

PR Mann

The PR Michael Mann is getting for his book is amazing - one has to remember that it is published by a university press, a route that was once described to me as "little better than vanity publishing" in terms of reaching new audiences. Yet despite this, the hockey stick illusionist has been almost ubiquitous in the media in recent weeks. I wonder if Columbia University Press is paying for this PR or whether there's somebody else involved?

Whoever is behind it, the message doesn't seem to be getting through. Despite clocking up nearly 100 Amazon reviews, the book is currently around 3500 on the Amazon chart (9500 in the UK). Is this a sign of the changed times or is it just that the market for climate books is dead?

The latest Mann media push was an interview on NPR - the transcript, for those who are interested, is here.


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Reader Comments (94)

I'm not that keen on science fiction books.

Mar 6, 2012 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

The free sample on Kindle is worth reading, but I'm banjaxed if I'll pay good money for propaganda.

If a hundred of us club together to buy a copy it would hardly be helping the opposition's finances.

Mar 6, 2012 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Brandon Shollenberger has done a nice de-construction (demolition?) over at Lucia's, although I can't actually find the thread. It's devastating, though.
It also saves having to pay for the book in the first place :)

Mar 6, 2012 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnteros

Does Mann explain in his book how to calculate the "confidence intervals" in MBH98/99? Or the theoretical derivation of .75 as the optimal benchmark for the calibration/verification RE ratio?

I'd buy it if he does. I haven't read much humorous writing recently.

Mar 6, 2012 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterigsy

Here is Brandon's review. Devastating.

Mar 6, 2012 at 11:49 AM | Registered CommenterJosh

Gleick must have had it right for once...the contents of Mann's book are nothing new, supporters and true believers will buy it but not read it, the rest of the world find something more interesting to do with their time.

ps Of course just wait for Mann to tell his journo chums that the book doesn't sell because of the evil right-wing big-oil conspiracy.

Mar 6, 2012 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

@Anteros Mar 6, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Brandon Shollenberger has done a nice de-construction (demolition?) over at Lucia's, although I can't actually find the thread. It's devastating, though.

It also saves having to pay for the book in the first place :)

Indeed he has! You can find the link to the beginning of his (many) posts as well as a link to a pdf summary of his "non-technical" discussions (he's working on a similar doc for the technical bits) - along with a few comments of my own, and an excerpt at:

Sunday shocker: Michael Mann misrepresents ... again

Mar 6, 2012 at 11:52 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

According to Steve McIntyre "Brandon has only scratched the surface of the disinformation in Mann’s book."

Mar 6, 2012 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJ Branders

@Anteros and all,

Copy of my post at WUWT with link to a probing review:

Link to Brandon Shollenberger’s superb review of the Mann book:

Shollenberger review of Mann's book

Brandon Shollenberger | March 3, 2012 at 6:48 am | Reply

Shollenberger comment about it at Judith Curry's blog

"AMac, it’s funny you bring this up now. I’ve been working off and on collecting (some of) what I posted into a single document, and just a few hours ago, I finished it. It’s not a “masterpiece,” and I left out a lot of stuff, but I think it’s still a pretty good read. My biggest regret is I couldn’t find a way to include any of the technical stuff in it. I’ve actually written up part of a technical section, but there just didn’t seem to be a way to make it work, so I’ve left it out. Because of that, a lot of issues get missed, including the Tiljander one."

"I’m not really sure what to do with it, but for anyone interested in reading it, here’s a link. For anyone wanting to know my what to expect, here’s a sentence from my opening paragraph:"

"The book contains many mistakes, contradictions, fabrications, nonsensical statements and even a libelous claim based on an obvious misrepresentation."

"Pretty much everything else is a discussion of that claim."

Mar 6, 2012 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterSkiphil

Perhaps constantly telling the general public how stupid and uneducated they are, and insisting that only approved and designated climate scientists can possibly know anything, or say anything, about climate science, is not the best way of encouraging sales of books about climate science?

Personally I think the numbers accurately reflect the public's concerns.

Mar 6, 2012 at 11:55 AM | Registered CommenterChuckles

I don't want to dare suggest a cartoon to the Great Josh, but "Prrr Mann" might inspire something interesting 8-)

Mar 6, 2012 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

After reading Brandon's review I have to wonder how Mann can be taken seriously..... oh wait.... the CAGW industry won't dare to drop him openly.....

p.s. I just tried the site registration. Here is my first comment as a registered member!

Mar 6, 2012 at 12:05 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

A 'starred' review says: An important and disturbing account of the fossil-fuel industry's well-funded public-relations campaign to sow doubt about the validity of the science of climate change.

Does anybody know of any evidence or purported evidence presented by anyone to show that there is a "fossil-fuel industry's well-funded public-relations campaign"? I keep reading this but I don't know why people believe it. I would assume it's in MM's book but, sorry, I'm not prepared to buy it.

Mar 6, 2012 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterRich

What? You mean PR from think"progress" and smogblog are not working? :-p

Mar 6, 2012 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered Commenter1DandyTroll


I never see the slightest pretense of giving evidence anywhere for the claims of massive "fossil fuel industry" funding for skeptics. I see mega-million dollar "green" ad campaigns by BP and a variety of other evil fossil fuel companies, but I never see where all this funding goes for skeptics. Heartland Institute seems to have well under one million dollars per year for climate-related issues (only a slice of their budget, and not coming from fossil fuel companies so far as I have seen).

Mar 6, 2012 at 12:11 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Ironically, the sentence could be read to have a completely opposite meaning to the original:

An important and disturbing account of the fossil-fuel industry's well-funded public-relations campaign to sow doubt about the validity of the science of climate change: yes! In the sense of Grantham et al, greenwashing Big Oil'ers plus fuel-tax-gorging Governments around the world spending incredible amounts of money to pay the likes of Desmog and Fenton Communications to come up with abysmally bad press releases and books (such as Mann's), all piling up to effectively sow doubt about the validity of the science of climate change.

Mar 6, 2012 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Mann has had no less than 5 separate articles in the Guardian/Observer in recent weeks, on 5 March, 3 March, 27 Feb, 17 Feb, 17 Feb (yes, two that day).
As people may be eating their lunch I won't post links.
All plug his book and portray him as the innocent victim of vicious attacks.

Mar 6, 2012 at 12:51 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I don't recall who came up with the sobriquet of Mann Kamp for this work, but it does seem to catch the mood of the book.

Mar 6, 2012 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterEddy

Tisk tisk Mann Kampf! (Its heilarious).

Mar 6, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterEddy

Maurizio, you know I thrive on suggestions! If they become 'dares' that just makes it more fun.

Mar 6, 2012 at 12:58 PM | Registered CommenterJosh

I've been reading his book - the second time now. I would agree with S McIntyre. The issues are just too many.

For instance, Mann claims, as Brandon points out, that Wegman committed perjury, by establishing contact with McIntyre and denying it at the hearing.

His source? John Mashey's report.


The guy is a gone case.

Mar 6, 2012 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

I admit to being curious about the book, but only for this reason: what it reveals about Mann's psychology, and what that tells us about the psychology of the other Team members, and what it means in the bigger picture, that someone like Mann is taken seriously by so many people - in the media and among "climate scientists".

For instance - the Climategate e-mails reveal that Team members see Mann as thin-skinned and unable to objectively address criticisms of his work - yet he's accepted as a scientist? In the case of Phil "I can't use Excel" Jones and others, one reason for Mann's ascendancy over them is clear: they obviously had no clue as to how to properly evaluate Mann's statistical work, so they accepted him as some sort of math wiz. Which is precisely why Mann is unable to think objectively when dealing with Steve McIntyre: Steve showed, at the very least, how overrated Mann was. That, Mann will never be able to recognise.

Nevertheless. I refuse to spend even one penny that might find its way into Mann's pocket. I may buy a second-hand copy at some point.

Mar 6, 2012 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter B

"I admit to being curious about the book, but only for this reason: what it reveals about Mann's psychology"

You should read the book, though I can give you the answer to your question

What the book reveals about Mann's thinking is that he has lived his life entirely through local and national newspaper reports.

Why is Mann thinking what the Toledo Blade writes in connection to him?

Mar 6, 2012 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Buy it. Keep the dustcover. You'll be glad someday.

Mar 6, 2012 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Peter B, not sure Mann is taken that seriously. I think he the warmistas tethered goat.

Mar 6, 2012 at 1:20 PM | Registered CommenterJosh

As Paul Matthews mentions, Observer / Guardian seems to be Mann's biggest UK cheerleader. As a lifelong reader and mostly supporter of these papers, I am appalled. But they also got it very wrong on Blair's Iraq ego trip.

Have been reading the Kindle taster. I must say Mann's early academic credentials sound convincing and impressive. On the other hand, he applies "contrarian" to any opposition even back in the 90's. This is telling. So in his mind, the science was clearly settled even before the IPCC became convinced.

Mar 6, 2012 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterOakwood

I followed the reviews of Mann's book on carefully. As of Feb 22, there were 49 four or five star reviews. One of these was a spoof. So of the 48 reviews, I rated as 13 as providing evidence that the reviewer had actually read or bought the book. 35 were non-substantive reviews. That said, of 19 one star reviews only 2 or 3 were substantive.
Subsequently the comments have been equally disappointing. I comment as Observer.
Brandon's review is so far ahead of most of the reviews I am sure that it would garner a lot of attention especially if it was shortened to a couple of thousand words.
Note: I should get a copy of HSCW from the local library this week.

Mar 6, 2012 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

Well the Guardain is , metaphorically, kissing his arse so hard over this book its wearing out its lips . So their doing as much as they can to promote it , without of course opening the articles up for blogging as they would not want any ‘facts’ to get in the way of the ‘Mann the hero ‘ line there pushing .
Which would certainly happen given the BS the book and the articles are claiming , so you can understand that.

Mar 6, 2012 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

I must say Mann's early academic credentials sound convincing and impressive.

I'm not so convinced. People with talent and integrity don't arse about doing endless pointless Master's degrees - one is sometimes useful to gain new expertise, redirect your scientific career, etc. but the only conceivable rationale for doing three, including two MPhils (bearing in mind that these are awarded in the UK to PhD candidates who fail to demonstrate a capacity for independent research - hence MFail) is to parasitise the generosity of those who are supporting you.

And he's demonstrated this character defect ever since.

Mar 6, 2012 at 1:54 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

Yet despite this, the hockey stick illusionist has been almost ubiquitous in the media in recent weeks.

I was thinking along the lines of "the great pretender" ... but your "hockey stick illusionist" is far more apt, Your Grace!

After reading the transcript of the NPR interview, I cannot imagine that it will do much to increase sales .. not the best of speakers by a long shot!

But he does demonstrate a remarkable facility for projecting his faults and foibles onto his "big oil funded" detractors!

Mar 6, 2012 at 2:02 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Mann-made Global Whining.......

Mar 6, 2012 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose


Demand to know where your cheque is from Big Oil

Mar 6, 2012 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterduncan

Having been on the receiving end of strongly held opinions re: my book on the part of people who haven't had the courtesy to read it, may I humbly suggest that those of us who wish to comment on Mann's book should, indeed, read it in its entirety.

An author earns only a few dollars from the sale of any individual copy (usually in the 10-15% of the cover price range). A vibrant intellectual conversation, in which multiple points-of-view get expressed, is a public good in itself. When we buy a book we are funding that conversation.

Mar 6, 2012 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDonna Laframboise

"The dissent of Mann"

Mar 6, 2012 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Donna Laframboise:

I think you are being too kind to Mann and his defenders, and too critical of Mann's non-admirer commenters here, of whom I am definitely one. What you and your book were subjected to were criticisms by people who were pretending that they had read your book when they had not. They utterly misrepresented what you said.

Is any commenter here criticising Mann's book in a way that suggests they have read it, when actually they have only skimmed it, if that? I don't think so. If any commenter here did misrepresent what Mann says in his book, I hope that those who know better would criticise him.

I agree that calling Mann a twat isn't very "vibrant" and won't make much difference in the larger scheme of things (in the way that your book is doing for instance). But, neither, given what we now know about Mann, is it an unreasonable thing to do.

Mar 6, 2012 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrian Micklethwait

Given that the GM Volt electric car is such a sales disaster in the US that it is to the point where GM is closing the production line "temporary", and various EU governments are withdrawing their subsidies for wind and solar power, I suspect Mikey will soon enough be dumped on the dung heap of history.

Times are changing. In the US, Nat Gas is the new hot environmental hot button. GM has just announced that they are going to produce pickups in 2013 that can use either compressed natural gas or gasoline. Navistar is already producing CNG-powered heavy trucks and sell as many as they can produce.

At this time I am looking for companies specializing in taking down wind turbines as I suspect there will be a high demand for their services.

Pretty soon I expect the Met to getting back to forecasting the weather and stop making meaningless "projections" based on post-normal physics.

Mar 6, 2012 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

As I said above, the vast majority of the negative reviews of Mann's book on Amazon showed no evidence of having read the book. In so doing, they are being intellectually dishonest. At the same time, a sizable majority of the positive reviews of Mann's book also showed no evidence of having read the book. The commenters on the book here, at CA and at Climate considerably more integrity.
Donna, as the victim of amazingly ignorant attacks by among others the ethically challenged Peter Gleick, is right to remind everyone to read a book before reviewing it.

Mar 6, 2012 at 2:59 PM | Registered Commenterbernie

Manns psychosis makes it impossible for him to concede any point to any critic under any circumstances. He's not doing his cause any favours, his friends need to get him some help before he reaches a tipping point.

I won't buy the book because I've already concluded that he's either deranged or a pathological liar. Either way I have no interest in paying to read anything he's written.

Mar 6, 2012 at 3:05 PM | Registered Commenterjaffa

Mann, a dissentient? When did this happen? Does the Bish know?

Mar 6, 2012 at 3:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Donna, you are, of course, completely right (shamed dog look) Hopefully we will all read it before criticising.

Tho' I cant say there wont be a cartoon rather soon. I got tempted. Sorry.

Mar 6, 2012 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Mann with his pants on fire at a book signing in the fiction section would be good. You could even have Gleick as the only person getting a copy. Now if I could only draw...

Mar 6, 2012 at 3:25 PM | Registered Commenterbernie

Looks like Mann is now the comedy climatologist from central casting. Here are some of his gags from the NPR link above.

FLATOW: Are you on vacation?
MANN: No, I'm actually at a conference in Hawaii.

(drum roll)

MANN: 'And we can't play by the rules of knife-fighting ourselves, because, you know, science is about being honest, about following the data and your hypotheses, where they lead you, by changing your, you know, conclusions when led to do so by the data.'

MANN: 'There's a great website called Skeptical Science that has sort of a list of all of the various myths about climate change that have become commonplace in sort of among those who deny the reality of climate change and the actual scientific responses.'

After the book tour he'll be working on sitcom, possibly in collaboration with the ex-AGU ethics supremo.

Mar 6, 2012 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Donna: very well said.

I've always loved Tolkien's dry comment in a preface to a later than first edition of Lord of the Rings about those who greatly disliked the book (which included almost all academics of English literature in those days - but not so much now): he speaks of "those who have read the book, or at least reviewed it, ...".

However a thought has been bubbling in my mind just from the excerpt Hu McCulloch gives on CA:

I knew McCulloch’s claim that the tropical ice core composite was “irreproducible” was false, as I was able to reproduce Thompson et al.’s results easily from their raw data. I was also able to identify McCulloch’s error — an incorrect assumption that the amplitude of variation in a series of measurements must be constant in time — in about a half hour of work. [fn. 60] (pp. 205-6)

Here Mann appears to be doing the right thing: dealing with the best of the sceptics and their arguments. You have to read Hu's post to discover that that's far from what Mann is really doing, even in this small example. And we know he doesn't mention HSI at all.

But it suddenly came to me that the key message here was the half hour it took for Mann, having reproduced the results, but to see the elementary error McCulloch had made. This is is how great the man is. This is what true expertise is like. No wonder he doesn't normally take any notice at all of what these sceptics say - because etc etc.

Still, as the Bish says, 3500 on Amazon tells its own story. There's no appetite for the argument and many have already picked up that there's something corrupt - or at least not healthy - about the whole area, science and policy. We await to see if our systems of democracy can translate that into a true rollback of the costly policies that burden the poorest. I honestly don't know about that part.

Mar 6, 2012 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake


"I got tempted"

Glad to hear it - we require you to!

Mar 6, 2012 at 3:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P


He's not doing his cause any favours, his friends need to get him some help before he reaches a tipping point.

Climategates I & II suggest such help might not be forthcoming.

Mar 6, 2012 at 3:40 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor


After the book tour he'll be working on sitcom, possibly in collaboration with the ex-AGU ethics supremo.

Do you think the authorities will let them share a cell?

Mar 6, 2012 at 3:41 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

Hu McCulloch has an excellent post on aspects of Mann's book with which he was personally involved.

In the thread of the above post Steven Mosher comes up with an interesting idea on how to present a review of Mann's book: "make it into a wiki or blog". On March the 12th Mike Mann has planned a book signing session in Toronto, place of residence of McIntyre. It would make a good starting date for the project.

Mar 6, 2012 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterharold

Mann: a legend in his own Anthropocene (1990 AD - 2012 AD).

Mar 6, 2012 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Pielke Jr finds the NYT spinning untruths about Mann. It seems the envirohacks just can't help themselves.

Mar 6, 2012 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

I have not read his book so as Donna rightly suggests will not make any comment on it. But I will take this opportunity to re-post a limerick from 2010:

There was a climatologist from Penn State
who studied tree rings and their growth rate
he found quite a few
which grew fast with CO2
but none after 1960, hence climategate.

Nov 21, 2010 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered Commenter lapogus

Mar 6, 2012 at 4:21 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

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