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Movie Mann

The new film Interstellar has been generating quite a lot of column inches in recent weeks, with many people noting that it features a data-falsifying scientist named Dr Mann. I was intrigued to note that the film's scientist adviser was Kip Thorne, a physicist from Caltech, and wondered what he and Richard Muller discussed at the coffee machine of a morning.

Anyway, while some people have pooh-poohed the idea that there is any connection between the fictional Dr Mann and the real one, it seems that the film's director Christopher Nolan is quite clear that there is:

And ‘Mann’ is a weighty name, definitely. But once I christened him that, I felt I had to go for it. I did apologize to Michael Mann, too. I told him, ‘It’s not intended as an affront!’

And there do seem to be some interesting parallels between the fictional Mann and the factional one (if that's the word). For example, Nolan describes Movie Mann as being motivated by 'selfishness and cowardice'.

It’s the kind of sequence where you loathe the guy because he’s doing something that you feel you might wind up doing in a similar situation. It’s very logical, but the rationalization of it is extraordinary—the way he was able to rationalize his own cowardice into a positive thing. Loneliness and desperation will make us do crazy things.

Read the whole thing.

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Reader Comments (34)


Don't forget that there's a movie director called Michael Mann too. Is it not equally likely this is the guy being referred to

Nolan is far more likely to know him - and hence to be able to apologise - than he is an obscure climatologist.

Nov 20, 2014 at 8:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

The dialogue between Matthew McConnaghy's character and his daughter's school teacher is also enlightening. It displays the teacher as being brainwashed by the environmentalist lobby. She denies (ahem) the moon landings, indeed in the world where the environmentalists have taken over everyone denies the moon landings.

Made me chuckle

Nov 20, 2014 at 8:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

There are funny parallels there in terms of the spoilers, but I am fairly certain Nolan is referring to Michael Mann the famous film director -- not the climate scientist.

Also: Kip Thorne was at Cal Tech, and Muller is at Berkeley...the two universities are about 6 hours apart in California :)

Nov 20, 2014 at 8:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterKen

"Do you deny the moon landings".

I pictured the scene ... the Man in the moon stepping onto earth saying "one small step for [a] Mr Moon, a giant leap for Mr Moon kind.

Perhaps Josh could draw the cartoon?

Nov 20, 2014 at 8:42 AM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

"An obscure climatologist"?
Latimer, that is below the belt!

Nov 20, 2014 at 8:55 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Rip Thorne must know and have chatted to Freeman Dyson a number of times.

This must be about Michael Mann the pretend Laureate. The parallels are too great.

The director Michael Mann hasn't even made a science fiction film! Heat, Last of the Mohicans,Manhunter, etc.? Where is the connection?

Nov 20, 2014 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Dear Mr Montford, I think you need to have a good lie down, and then maybe move on to some different foolishness (no offence to any clever fools)?

Nov 20, 2014 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterQuentin Wallace

Let me translate that, Dear Mr Montford. How dare you question the sanctity of one of Mann Made Global Warmings (tm) fact, how dare you question THE god! I am utterly offended by your blasphemy and hope you boil to death as the climate hits 2 million degrees by the end of next week!

See...clearer now isn't it?


Nov 20, 2014 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman


Mike "Nature Trick" Mann has plenty of contact in the Hollywood set. I would imagine it is highly likely that Nolan has met him.

Nov 20, 2014 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

"factional" is a very appropriate word for Michael Mann. If not for him the division between sceptics and warmists might be a lot smaller.

Nov 20, 2014 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2


"An obscure climatologist"

To be fair, I think Latimer means that all climatologists are likely to be obscure to someone whose day job is directing films with eye-watering budgets. Far more people will know of the Hollywood MM than the, er, YouTube one.

Nov 20, 2014 at 10:29 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Mark Steyn weighs in on this subject....

Nov 20, 2014 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

factional: relating or belonging to a faction; characterized by dissent

Nov 20, 2014 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Mann, who claimed to be a Nobel Laureate, and claimed to have been exonerated by investigations which did not even consider him, can now claim to be a movie star.

Nov 20, 2014 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon B

Dear Mr Mailman, what an utterly bizarre and bonkers affirming reply! Did you get lost in the post?

Nov 20, 2014 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterQuentin Wallace

Bishop, you are implying that Dr Michael Mann (the real one) falsified data. So come on, put your money where your mouth is: What data did Dr Michael Mann falsify?

Nov 20, 2014 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

If you want to know about many of the sordid details, there is not better place than the following book. It is very well written, and hugely informative.

Nov 20, 2014 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

I initially thought former Harvard professor and double IRS target Lubos Motl was name changing totally in jest:

“In the movie, Dr Michael Mann has remained the same dishonest jerk and f*cked-up hockey-stick aßhole that he has always been. Fortunately, Cooper manages to miraculously save himself, while Dr Michael Mann fortunately kills himself while manipulating with the spaceships unprofessionally.”

Nov 20, 2014 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

Shut up Raff, and help expose instead of invest in Enron:

Nov 20, 2014 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

Turns out, Gorebot guru Leonardo Dicaprio really was chums with a Wolf Of Wall Street, hookers included:

Nov 20, 2014 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC


"What data did Dr Michael Mann falsify?"

Most of it, I believe. Mark Steyn has the details...

Nov 20, 2014 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Michael Mann is not an obscure film director, but very well known. He is responsible for Miami Vice.

Another of his wel known movies is 'Heat'.

Nov 20, 2014 at 5:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

For no good reason, it reminds me of that famous Levi's 'spaceman'.

Nov 20, 2014 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Has nobody noticed the obvious?

In Nolan's imagined future there is no global warming. The world is ending for entirely different reasons - not even obviously humanities fault.

I guess he gets away with it because, after all, it is ending...

Nov 20, 2014 at 7:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Gus
Nov 20, 2014 at 10:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Nov 20, 2014 at 10:10 PM | Russell

Obviously, at Harvard there are no rules about bringing the university into disrepute or are you retired and using your former association with the university to lend an air of authority?

Nov 20, 2014 at 11:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

@The director Michael Mann hasn't even made a science fiction film! Heat, Last of the Mohicans,Manhunter, etc.? Where is the connection?

Michael Mann the director has indeed made a science fiction film. This is 'The Keep', one of his first films. It was not popular but I think its quite good. This is apart from the inclusion of a feisty young Ian McKellen who demonstrates, at this stage of his career at least, the most extraordinarily dreadful acting skills.

Nov 21, 2014 at 8:18 AM | Unregistered Commenterdribble2

@ Nov 20, 2014 at 3:44 PM James P

Given confusions with names here thought I'd try to get some clarification.

a) You mean this Mark Steyn?

"Mark Steyn attended the King Edward’s School in Birmingham, U.K., leaving in 1978, at the age of 18. Steyn does not appear to have a college education or any background in climate science."

b) You mean this Michael Mann?

"Education A.B. applied mathematics and physics (1989), MS physics (1991), MPhil physics (1991), MPhil geology (1993), PhD geology & geophysics (1998) "

Raff - any thoughts?

Nov 21, 2014 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterWhack a Mole


What I'm trying to figure is which of those unsourced quotes suggests an expertise in U.S. defamation law.

Nov 21, 2014 at 7:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterEarle Williams


What I'm trying to figure is which of those unsourced quotes suggests an expertise in U.S. defamation law.

Nov 21, 2014 at 7:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterEarle Williams


Eh? What are you going on about?

Are you suggesting the quotes are not accurate? M Steyn does have a background in climate science? M Mann has no science background?

Please provide the actual backgrounds then and am sure WaM will provide his/her source of quotes....

Timer started....we are waiting....:-))

Nov 21, 2014 at 8:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterOnbyaccident

I THINK WHAT MOST ARE NEGLECTING here is that director Michael Mann is no Dr or PhD - while the "factional" Mann is, just like the Dr Mann in the film Interstellar.

A director hardly a Dr makes!

What important about these two doctors is the lying and self-rationalized deceit. (No director Mann enter's into all these similarities.)

Nov 21, 2014 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterOrson

I saw the movie a week ago and was amused that Dr. Mann lived on a world where the clouds were frozen. His computer/robot was broken and when someone tried to access its memory it blew up. When hero came close to exposing his fraud Dr. Mann attempted to steal his air. Dr. Mann tricked his rescuers about the nature of the planet with data that had been modified.

Come on people: Mann's Nature trick. Mann attempting to stop papers being published. Mann making his software inaccessible. Climate models not able to get clouds right. It was all perfect.

Nov 23, 2014 at 3:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Norman

Is Mike Haseler's observation :

"Do you deny the moon landings".

I pictured the scene ... the Man in the moon stepping onto earth saying "one small step for [a] Mr Moon, a giant leap for Mr Moon kind.
intended as an homage to the Reverend Moon's science guy , S.Fred Singer ?

Will he be appearing as an expert witness?

Nov 25, 2014 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

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