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« Small change for Climate - Josh 182 | Main | More diary dates »
Friday
Sep072012

Michael Mann and SkepticalScience: well-orchestrated

This is a guest post by Shub Niggurath.

So we can't engage in the dishonest tactics that those looking to discredit us may be willing to engage in. But we can try to become better communicators of the science; try to find novel ways to explain to the public the fact that the science is solid …

 Michael Mann 

Background

Readers are aware of John Cook’s secret forum whose contents leaked, exposing material he and his followers would rather, not see the light of the day (see e.g. here, here and here). Most of it was the puerile fantasies of climate alarmists who need private space to admit and confess to what they cannot in public. However, there are actions undertaken behind the scenes that impact the public sphere. Again, Cook and his followers have every right to carry out these as well, but scrutinize them we can.

An Amazon.com astroturfing operation

In January 2012, the scientist Michael Mann, author of ‘The Hockey Stick Wars’ book contacted the communicator John Cook.

Starting the previous year December, Cook informed the congregation that he had digital copies of Mann’s book he could send. The purpose was clear:

… I'm anticipating a flood of spam from WUWT as soon as the book is released. If anyone else wants a PDF copy of the galley proofs in order to write a review for Amazon  (and can received a 6Mb email attachment), let me know and I'll email you the PDF…

About a dozen volunteered, requesting copies of the book. 

Quickly on its heels, Cook sent out a ’second round’ of copies:

Emailed the second round of SkSers a copy of the book. Any other stragglers, not too late to put in a request (you've got till February actually). I'm expecting to see reviews from all of you, btw! :-)

Cook received regular updates from Mann, keeping things on the line:

I've been informed that activity on Mike Mann's upcoming book will begin around Feb … and supposedly the Amazon launch on March 6. So possibly we can start posting reviews on March 6 but who knows, might be earlier. To all SkSers who I emailed a copy of the book, can I suggest you read the book and have your book review ready in the holster by early/mid February ready to go at a moment's notice.

Come the end of January 2012, there was a change of plans. Mann’s book was coming out earlier. He wrote Cook, asking that his band of reviewers be ‘lined up and ready to go’

it now sounds as if Amazon.com could go live w/ kindle version as soon as Jan 31st, so Amazon reviewers should be lined up and ready to go then if at all possible. WIll provide any further updates when I have more info.  My publisher is urging reviewer-writers not to write blog reviews then (they have a later rollout schedule in mind for blog reviews), but it is ok to submit Amazon reviews then---and as we know, it will be important to do this quickly once Amazon opens their reviews to offset efforts of deniers. Again, its (sic) looking like this will be *Jan 31st*  and we should operate under that assumption!

Thus orchestrated, Cook’s followers began posting reviews, starting immediately with the book’s release on Amazon.com. Soon, a host of 5-star reviews populated the table. The scale and speed of the operation must have been impressive. As one commenter smugly observed:

Thats a heck of a lot of people who have managed to read the Kindle edition in about 3 hours since it went on sale ;-)

John Cook kept up the pressure

I did email out over a dozen copies of the book to SkSers who specifically requested it - what happened to all those reviews?

Everything from requesting, ‘strongly recommend’ing, and ‘nagging’ for reviews and asking that they ‘report abuse’ for negative reviews was carried out in the space of 3-4 months. The followers descended on Amazon.com, voting, replying, and rating comments up or down. In a span of 10 days, they were declaring victory. They had fought back what they perceived as the Wattsupwiththat ‘swarm’.

In February, Mann got in touch with Cook:

Mike Mann informs me that the Amazon page is getting bombed again w/ ugly comments & "one" reviews. We don't know where it is coming from, but we'll need lots of help again.

Once again, ‘lots of help’ was provided.

Mann appears to have considered the review ‘ratings’ an important aspect to be controlled. In March, Hu McCulloch posted comments at Climateaudit about the book and a review on Amazon.com.  Mann wrote to Cook (emphasis mine):

deniers are definitely pulling ahead this time. they look organized, lots of activity.  they're voting down good reviews and voting up bad ones. pretty soon some of the really bad reviews might make it into the upper ranks.

By then however, Mann’s Amazon review pages were so thoroughly monitored and policed by the Skepticalscience team that readers took notice of the mismatch between Mann’s ideas and ‘the situation on the ground’.

I'm following several of the more active threads and I'm not getting that much activity.  I see many more positive reviews going up, and the positive reviews are rated far better than the negative ones. 

One commenter described Mann as being ”a little over-sensitive” and another stated Mann “ought to be pleased how things are turning out”.

Amazon.com review section for Mann’s book is evidence of Skepticalscience’s review activism. There are hundreds of comments from Skepticalscience moderators haggling with almost every customer who did not give Mann’s book a glowing review. Authors can indeed request reviews, but running a behind-the-scenes operation that posts bulk reviews, controls what reviews rise to the top, and what comments are considered helpful becomes astroturfing.

Sockpuppetry

When I examined Skepticalscience’s history-rewriting campaign earlier, there was Waybackmachine, observations from readers, and little else to go on. This brief recounting shows how things were different than how they seemed.

It is well-known that Skepticalscience had nothing much to say about paleoclimatic reconstructions. For example, their first detailed explanation for Phil Jones’ email about “Mike’s Nature trick” and “hide the decline” came out only sometime in November 2010, a full year after Climategate. Jean S put the article’s claims to rest in a single comment in January 2011.

Behind the scenes, it turns out Michael Mann didn’t think the Skeptical science ‘hide the decline’ article was strong enough. In February 2011, Cook informed the group:

Im (sic) working on a hide the decline post. Because of the renewed attention on the decline, Michael Mann had a look at my decline rebuttal and told me it could be "more solid". So with the master's red ink over my work, I'm going back and having another look at it. 

The ‘renewed attention’ referred to nemesis Richard Muller’s video which had then emerged on Youtube.

Basically, there has been this increased attention on 'hide the decline' because of Richard Muller's Youtube lecture. So Michael Mann had a look at the SkS rebuttal and emailed me, saying it could be more solid and also sending me some material he'd written on the decline.

What had Cook done? By March, Mann’s content and directions in hand, Cook had overwritten the pre-existing articles with a new version. As he explained (emphasis mine):

So I read through Mike's stuff, boiled it down to 3 essential points, cannabilised (sic) content from Dana, James and my own earlier stuff and compiled it into a single advanced version. … - as this is meant to be the definitive rebuttal on 'hide the decline' - any suggestions would be most welcome. …  Again, sorry to Villabola and James … I don't think I've ever done this before, overwritten someone else's work, but based on the feedback from Mike Mann, this seemed the best way to go.

One of the authors of the article protested - he didn’t agree with the revision. He also pointed out that Cook had made the changes under the original authors’ names.

It is not clear to me that “Mike’s Nature trick” is separate to “hide the decline”. … I notice the intermediate rebuttal of “hide the decline” still says it was written by me, and the basic version by Villabolo. You’d better correct that.

Another author woke up to the change much later. He protested as well (emphasis in original):

…The rebuttal that's in the basic level section – [link] - has my name on it but it is not my post (?). …

Even earlier, as Cook had pored over ‘the master’s red ink’ he was alerted that what was planned wouldn’t look good:

Whoops, you shouldn’t have said that, John. Now if someone hacks into the SkS forum, they’ll know we’re all corrupt stooges and our “master” is Michael Mann. *sarcasm alert*

Another noted that the comments were “now connected to the wrong texts” and could later “lead to accusations of bad faith”.

None of these suggestions were taken on board at any point. Cook jettisoned the original text of the article, replaced it with Mann’s interpretation (of his own trick), and left author names unchanged making it appear as though they wrote the material. Furthermore, the same canard – ‘Mike’s trick had nothing to with ‘hide the decline’ – was propagated through articles at the website that had to do with the topic.

The original article concentrated on the seeming transgression: Was using ‘Mike’s trick’ to ‘hide the decline’ a fair step? Was there anything malfeasant about it?

In the revised version - under Mann’s invisible hand - Jones’ famous statement morphed and split in Kafkaesque fashion into three different things. “Mike’s Nature trick” was something unconnected to Jones’ use of it to ‘hide the decline’ which in turn, became a separate thing by itself. The issue of ‘addition of real temperatures to proxy series’ was thrown away as though it never existed or happened.

What was left of ‘Mike Nature trick’? Apparently, if one believes Cook’s (Mann’s) explanation, it is merely the “plotting recent instrumental data along with the reconstructed data.”

One struggles to comprehend what the trick was in this! Readers can gauge the level of misdirection present in the revised article from a sample statement:

It's clear that "Mike's Nature trick" is quite separate to Keith Briffa's "hide the decline".

To the contrary, Jones had discarded proxy values after 1960 for Briffa’s curve and spliced instrumental data both to Mann’s and Briffa’s series. The ‘addition of real temperatures to proxy series’was performed in the WMO graph. That is what he says he does. Jones later emailed the WMO data to Curtis Covey:

Curt,
The attached file has the data you want. There are 5 columns (mine, Mike Mann's, Keith's, Annual NH and JJA NH). The last two are instrumental and only start in the 1850s. Keith's starts about 1400. All are wrt 1961-90. You will see that for the 3 multiproxy series this file has been extended to 1999 by adding in instrumental data for the season and region each was supposed to represent. […]

The splicing of instrumental data to proxy ones is there, for the world to see. In fact, Jones reiterated the point about Mike’s trick of adding real temperatures, in an email to Chris Folland (emphasis mine):

[…] All these series end around 1980 or in the early 1980s. We don't have paleo data for much of the last 20 years. It would require tremendous effort and resources[ …]

It is possible to add the instrumental series on from about 1980 (Mike sought of did this in his Nature article to say 1998 was the warmest of the millennium - and I did something similar in Rev. Geophys.) but there is no way Singer can say the proxy data doesn't record the last 20 years of warming […]

Data from Jones email with WMO data. Note that column highlighted yellow (annual NH temperatures) have been spliced to Mann’s proxy data after 1980.During the same period, it appears that Cook was putting together Mann’s ideas about his Nature trick so they could be fed back to Muller himself. A third party was in touch with Muller just before his Congressional hearing due on the 31st of March. Muller was being emailed Skepticalscience’s series of articles on ‘Mike’s Nature trick’ and ‘hide the decline’ written specifically for the purpose (emphasis mine):

I'd like to get this MM#2 out before the Thursday hearing. I know someone who is in correspondance (sic) with Richard Muller, who emailed him the first SkS MM#1. So I'm going to ask him to email Muller about MM#2 before the Thursday hearing. Then I will be very interested to hear whether at the hearing, Muller conflates "Mike's trick to hide the decline" or claims the decline data was withheld then leaked.

The Skepticalscience discussions were spread out over three threads. There was valiant questioning from his commenters. One of them reminded Cook that the articles gave the “impression that [our] articles are very defensive about protecting the protagonists against the charge of deliberate intent to deceive”, while lacking “clear explanation of what the substantive point the attackers have been complaining about.” In turn, Cook revealed his idea was more circumscribed:

BTW, Peter let me know the video won't be done until next week. So I posted MM1 now. Hopefully some accountability will have Muller tempering his misinformation at Thursday's hearing.

and

An ideal result would be if we could get Muller to stop repeating his falsehoods in future public talks and interviews.

Readers might recall the resignation of one Hans von Storch just before a hearing.

Climateaudit and Bishop Hill both responded to Cook’s Muller misinformation articles (see here, and here). One wonders if they knew it was Mann talking.

In the outside world, armed with Skepticalscience’s explanation of Mike’s Nature trick, Mann has quoted their article as though it constituted an independent source.

For instance, he wrote on his Facebook page:

actually Mk the "trick" had nothing to do w/ the "decline" at all, so the lie goes far deeper. It was just a perfectly legitimate device for comparing two different datasets. See the discussion provided by SkepticalScience:on this: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Mikes-Nature-trick-hide-the-decline.htm 

Except that the discussion in question was not provided by Skepticalscience.

In October last year, in the ‘letter-to-the-editor’ mess that broke out at the Vail Daily News, Mann sent readers to www.skepticalscience.com in his response to one Martin Hertzberg’s comments about the hockey stick. A couple of days back, Mann sent readers of the San Diego Union Tribune to Skepticalscience.com, responding to one Mr Bart Denson’s comments about the hockey stick. Last month, Skepticalscience was defending Mann against Ryan Simberg and Mark Steyn’s characterization of the hockey stick as fraud, once again, with Mann’s own explanation

On Twitter, Mann has referred followers repeatedly to skepticalscience. For example, he pointed Miranda Devine’s followers to Skepticalscience in March this year when she talked about the hockey stick. So he has his own followers, for a host of reasons.

Postscript

Cook can try to rectify the situation. He can admit that he surrendered significant editorial control to Michael Mann over a topic in which he was an interested party. He can retract the articles on his website, indicating that he co-authored the hockey stick ‘rebuttals’ with Michael Mann.

As far as Michael Mann is concerned, he could write his own articles and replies. He could open his eyes to the fact that skeptics didn’t pay much attention to his tedious book. He should probably give up trying to find ‘novel ways’ to explain science to the public.

 

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Reader Comments (76)

Oh what a tangled web we weave...

Sep 7, 2012 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterMickey Reno

manipulating amazon reviews is against their rules

i've written to amazon suggesting removal of all 4 & 5 star reviews due to orchestration by Mann / SkS

Sep 7, 2012 at 4:50 PM | Registered Commentermangochutney

Great piece of writing. Good job.

Sep 7, 2012 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

Very revealing to say the least. It's worse than we thought.

Sep 7, 2012 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered Commentereyesonu

Sigh. I really dislike sleazy people.

I'm sorry if you find the comment about Cook and Mann ungracious; I simply cannot think of another word to describe the deliberately intentional Machiavellian behavior.

Sep 7, 2012 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

You forgot to add this bit from John Cook about the successful astroturfing operation to promote Mann's "Climate Wars::

Definitely worth it. We were the 300 Spartans holding back the endless hordes of the Persians/WUWTians.

Minus the rippling abs :-)

They all lived to tell the tale, lest we forget.

What a bunch of morons!

Sep 7, 2012 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

They actually think they're great at propaganda but we, without a penny of budget, beat them every time, because they're actually quite inept at it.

http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2012/09/07/an-assessment-of-current-alarmist-propaganda/

Pointman

Sep 7, 2012 at 5:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

"So we can't engage in the dishonest tactics that those looking to discredit us may be willing to engage in . . . " MM

Perhaps Mann should have been copying this Cook correspondence to friend Gleick, who was at the same period trying out 'novel ways' to discredit Heartland.

Sep 7, 2012 at 5:41 PM | Registered CommentermikemUK

Thanks for this excellent piece.

It seems like a standard Mann trick: suggest that your interpretation or construction has independent support when it has only the appearance of independence. The people who have gone along with this charade will be just as damaged by the fall of Mann.

Sep 7, 2012 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

The Dissent of Mann

Sep 7, 2012 at 5:56 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

How can you tell when they are dissembling mendacious shysters?

They hit ENTER

Sep 7, 2012 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

I understand that Mann and Cook feel that they have a moral imperative to promote their cause and to an extent that it justifies the means that they employ.

However, it's their assumption that the 'other side' is engaged in dirty tricks that amuses. It reminds me a little of Stalin who naturally assumed that Soviet politicians, military etc. were all as venal and treacherous as he was and therefore made sure that they were 'disappeared', despite the fact that almost all never had a mutinous thought. But if they were planning to use those tactics it was going to be better if Stalin did unto them first...

Sep 7, 2012 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Crook

It is not worse than I thought. I expect this is just how "peer review" works -- the ends justify the means -- to dishonest and science-challenged power players like Mann.

Sep 7, 2012 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

mangochutney

you could also point out that many of the adverse comments to 1 star reviews come from people who have already deposited 5 star reviews. Truly a bunch of clueless sock puppets

Sep 7, 2012 at 6:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Interesting on a number of levels.

Am curious what a publisher might think of someone sending along digital copies of a manuscript around to those that haven't purchased the content?

Bruce

Sep 7, 2012 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterbdaabat

Empty book, empty stick,
Empty chair, I feel sick.
================

Sep 7, 2012 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

I notice one 1-star reviewer of one Manns book "dire predictions" on amazon.com keeps having to report and have removed abuse. I looked at other reviews that he (or she) has given good reviews to and it includes books by Mark Linus and the "fixing climate book" so that person is clearly no stooge reviewer yet the abuse they are getting is clearly orchestrated. Disgusting behaviour.

Sep 7, 2012 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterOpen Minded Tim

Cook probably nodded off about halfway through this, as I did. Can you please try to describe your conspiracy theories in under 10000 words. PS. I think I'm a member of this secret forum. Did you find that email where I called you a dick?

Sep 7, 2012 at 6:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterbigcitylib

I don't think we need to see Mann's emails any more - this gives us a perfectly good indication of what's in there.

Sep 7, 2012 at 7:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred Jensen

@bigcitylib Is that it? Is that the best you can do?

Sep 7, 2012 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Crook

Amazon will have programs that monitor reviews for bad behaviour. I If they were going to get upset about this, they would have done so by now. I just can't see Amazon getting worked up about this. But if this kind of support operation had happened for THI, then they might.

Sep 7, 2012 at 7:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Dunford

This is great I think you should let them do their tricks, its fun and the pain later on will be much greater as is beginning to occur BTW a very important seminal article that is telling mainstraim business to get out of AGW fast before you lose ALL your money
http://seekingalpha.com/article/850871-sidestep-portfolio-meltdown-as-global-warming-bubbles-burst

Sep 7, 2012 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterrogelio

It seems like a standard Mann trick: suggest that your interpretation or construction has independent support when it has only the appearance of independence....
Sep 7, 2012 at 5:56 PM Nicholas Hallam

Yes - this appeal to 3rd party authority, which turns out to be the thinly disguised appellant, seems to be a recurrent theme in "climate science".

Over on Lewandowsky's site, he linked to Joe Romm's site to "prove" he had had replies to his questionnaire emails from two sceptic blogs in addition to Steve McIntyres.

The "proof" on Romm's site was, in fact, a quoted remark from one - Professor Lewandowsky!

You really couldn't make this stuff up - but the simple minded cult followers lap it up.

Sep 7, 2012 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Nixon could of done with people like 'Master Red Ink' Mann and his acolyte Cook.

(I am aware that I am linking these [snippers] to Nixon but that's just my conspiracy theory for you.)

Sep 7, 2012 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

Cook is Mann's bitch , hardly news as its been clear for some time that he sees is rule as 'waterboy ' to the Team . While it does provide another insight into the scale of Mann's ego that even when people are supporting him , he demands they should support him in the way he wants .

Sep 7, 2012 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Rogelio Sep. 7 @ 1919:

Thank you for the link to Tom Winnifrith's analysis. Liked it enough to take a short walk through several of his recent posts and found an OT piece that is of interest to we denizens of Silicon Valley re Mark Zuckerberg's announcing that he will not be selling any more of his FaceBook shares. Follow Rogelio's link and look at the sidebar.

Sep 7, 2012 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRayG

Cooking the book?

Sep 7, 2012 at 8:23 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

If there are any realists left out there, thinking this was a gentleman's scientific debate, Shub's piece should disabuse them of any such notion. It's like watching cockroaches plotting the downfall of the integrity of science. Oh the humanity ...

Pointman

Sep 7, 2012 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

Well, when they are so convinced there is a vast conspiracy working against them and that the trials and pressure they are up against is akin to war, something like this makes perfect sense.

The fact it also makes them look "batshit crazy" - to borrow Dr Maue's very suitable decriptor - is beside the point. All's fair in love and war and Dr Mann is most certainly in love with himself. As for the war part - I'd like to introduce Dr Mann to another Mike, who is currently on recupertive leave from wounds received in Afghanistan. It's his third rotation over there, this time commanding an Airborne Infantry company. I'm sure he could educate Dr Mann on what war is really like. While he's at it he could also provide examples of what leadership, honor and integrity look like.

Sep 7, 2012 at 8:37 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

bigcitylib

I think I'm a member of this secret forum. Did you find that email where I called you a dick?
No, but I found the one where one of the SkS authors called Lindzen and Delingpole “scum”.

Sep 7, 2012 at 8:54 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

With so many lies and sleazy plots swirling around it and curdling, AGW could only be a political project. Still, since we're all supposed to be conspiracy theorists, perhaps we could get the aliens to deal with the lot of them - they're obviously completely untouched by normal human moral standards like honesty and fair dealing.

Sep 7, 2012 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve C

John Cook doesn’t just help Dr Mann sell his books, he also gets his mates to write George Monbiot’s articles for him.
At 5AM 8th December 2010, “Albatross” alerted his colleagues to a Mail article by David Rose: “What happened to the ‘warmest year on record’: The truth is global warming has halted” and suggested that someone should alert Vicky Pope at the Met Office.
John Cook replied two hours later:

The climate science rapid response team have been discussing this article and working on a response.
and later:
Here’s the response from the CSRRT. Specifically, George Monbiot put in a response, a bunch of scientists sent back answers and Monbiot assembled them into this article in the Guardian:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2010/dec/08/david-rose-climate-science
Sure enough, Monbiot’s article is full of direct quotations from scientists, e.g.
“Phil Jones tells me...”
“Andrew Dessler of Texas A&M University says...”
“Anthony del Genio of Nasa also tells me ..”
However, one part of Monbiot’s article was probably written by George himself:
The only hope journalists have of retaining any kind of self-respect is to question themselves repeatedly, ask whether they are being manipulated…

Sep 7, 2012 at 9:16 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Are than any other sites or independent articles Mann refers to?

Sep 7, 2012 at 9:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

Very good Green Sand :)

Regards

Mailman

Sep 7, 2012 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

What is the source of the quotes between Mann and Cook ? - maybe its there and I missed it, but I missed it. Was it the big, gaping security whole JC left open for a long time ?

Sep 7, 2012 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

Evidence for CO2 based AGW offered by Mann (and much of his cult) belongs in MoMA next to the slowly flashing bulb in an otherwise empty room. Or better yet in a courtroom.

Their unhinged behavior is pathetic. No consensus ((of cultists) for a theory) is required under the light of proof.

Get real jobs you grant grubbing academics - global econometrics will be crumbling your houses soon.

Sep 7, 2012 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterHRC64science

“One of the worlds top climate scientist”. I thought he was suppose to spent his time doing scientific research and lecturing at the university, not on manipulation PR and advocacy. I guess he also spend a lot of his time looking at his huge ego on top of his ivory tower he built for himself.

Sep 7, 2012 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterPer Strandberg

shub/geoffchambers

Are there signs that the reactions to questions about Lewanosky's unproven thesis have been coordinated by Cook and co? There are oddities in the way that everyone from Souts to Eli Rabett have resorted to playground jeers about "conspiracy theories" and "gish gallops" when people have merely asked very specific, pointed questions about methodology, plus the way that the SkS faithful jumped all over Tom Curtis when he broke the party line and became genuinely sceptical.

Sep 7, 2012 at 11:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Green Sand

"Cooking the book?"

Mann booked Cook who cooked book.

Sep 7, 2012 at 11:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBebben

Michael Mann's book received numerous negative votes within minutes of Anthony Watts alerting his readers to its publication, just as John Cook predicted. At least the chaps who received the book via Sceptical Science actually read it.

Sep 7, 2012 at 11:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark S

Mark S - that is incorrect - just check the stats on negative reviews versus the stats on 5 star reviews within 3 hours. You are not allowed to invent your facts.

And then look at the correlation between positive reviewers and those who comment negatively on negative reviewers. Have you guys worked out tht you are crap at PR yet?

Sep 8, 2012 at 12:12 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Shub, excellent post, thanks! I notice that right at the forefront of the astro-turfing output on Amazon is...... Stephan Lewandowsky, 2nd review posted if Amazon's temporal ordering is correct when I click on "see all reviews". [I am cross-posting this from WUWT if our host will permit]

A fascinating piece of context for understanding Lewandowsky's recent survey is that he is not only strongly biased in the climate wars, he is a sycophantic follower of the Mann himself, AND appears likely to have been in the wave of recipients of a pre-publication copy either from John Cook or someone associated with Mann and/or SkepticalScience.

Read Lewandowsky's "review" of Mann's book on Amazon, which appeared in that early wave Jan. 29, 2012 (can we determine whether Lewandowsky was one of the pre-publication recipients of the manuscript via John Cook and SkepticalScience ??).

Stephan Lewandowsky reviews Mann's book "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars"

Some interesting facts about the Lewandowsky review:

1) it is about as fawning toward Mann as any review could be (off the charts groveling), claiming that Mann and his hockeystick "will forever change how humanity views its future." It is even more gaseous and hyperbolic than most of the other 5-star reviews, which do not all claim world-historical Copernican importance for Mann and his hockeystick.

2) Lewandowsky parrots various climate alarmist tropes without even a hint that he can think critically about anything, ever.

3) This is the ONLY review Lewandowsky has ever posted on Amazon (unless he has done any under a pseudonym or different name). He trots out his fawning propaganda only for Michael Mann.

4) The way the Amazon orders the temporal posting of reviews (if you click on "all reviews") it appears that Lewandowsky was the SECOND person to post a review! i.e., he was no only hot off the mark but appears to have had prior notice and/or prompting. Jan. 29, 2012.

Stephan Lewandowsky reviews Mann's book "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars"

Sep 8, 2012 at 12:24 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

diogenes,

Re your question to shub/geoff. I really don’t think it’s any kind of co-ordinated response. I think it may have been the hare-brained one that started the gish-gallop nonsense and others, not being capable of independent thought processes, played follow the leader. Same goes for the conspiracy stuff. One of them goes “Oh look at all the sceptics and their conspiracy theories” and the rest join in the jeering but with little or no idea of why. Kind of like the bunch of morons that hangs round your local bus station. As for the Tom Curtis affair, that’s just natural tribal reaction. Even we here can be guilty of that. Look at some of the reaction to Geoff when he started pow-wowing with Adam Curtis (why do I always want to write Sandler instead of Curtis?). Anyway, if we all start thinking it’s another conspiracy, we’ll be proving them right won’t we? ;)

Shub,

Very good, very well written article. On a par with the kind of stuff our host himself does so very well. At first I thought it was him and that in itself is probably the highest compliment I could pay you.

Sep 8, 2012 at 12:33 AM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

just that Laurie, we know they have an organised response mechanism...or even m ore than one if you think of the Scott mandia network. And they need to win at all costs.

Sep 8, 2012 at 12:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Amazon wont do anything, as already pointed out earlier, if they were going to do something they would have by now.

Secondly this is yet another insight in to the paranoia and insecurity that hounds so called climate scientists. Now ask yourself, why are these super brains just so insecure and sensitive to criticism? Could it be because right at the back of their minds they feel guilty about something and to compensate for that guilt they have to go over the top to defend their work?

Mailman

Sep 8, 2012 at 1:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Isn't Mann on sabbatical with Johann Hari?

Sep 8, 2012 at 1:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

At the tail end of
http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/3/26/opengate-josh-158.html?currentPage=4#comments
David (Apr 2, 2012 at 7:05 AM) picked up another Cook plot, this time with Lewandowsky. This one involved placing fake comments on blogs.

Sep 8, 2012 at 1:11 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Geoff,

I'd forgotten all about that one until your reminder. I wouldn't be surprised if the discussion on it here led to it being dropped before it got as far as being submitted for publication. I mentioned last night that I had a vague memory of Lew and Cook co-authoring a paper. Well, I can only find this one here:
http://websites.psychology.uwa.edu.au/labs/cogscience/documents/LewandowskyEcker.IP2012.PSPI.pdf
(in press) which may or may not be the one I was referring to. It's not really about AGW per se, though it does get more than a passing mention, but you might find it interesting.

Sep 8, 2012 at 3:58 AM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

What do you do when you learn that "scientists" are systematically conspiring to lie to advance their own personal financial and academic interests?

"Quid est veritas?" -- Pontius Pilate

Sep 8, 2012 at 4:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterWarEagle82

Good to see this revisited, people need to know about this "climate communicator". BTW he's had another propaganda piece published just recently, very busy comments.

https://theconversation.edu.au/how-do-people-reject-climate-science-9065

On the comment manipulations it's especially poignant that Mr Cook doesn't even see the errors of his ways. There's a few instances where that is true - ethically blinded by zealously to the cause.

Sep 8, 2012 at 6:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterDaveA

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