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Mann at the Cabot

As we waited in our seats for Michael Mann's lecture at the Cabot Institute to begin, I was struck by the sight of the great man alone at the side of the stage. He stood there for several minutes, ignored by everyone, as the last of the audience appeared and the Cabot Institute people, Lewandowsky among them, scurried about making final arrangements. I couldn't help but be reminded of Mark Steyn's comments about climatologists' stark failure to make any amici submissions to the DC court on Mann's behalf. The other day I also heard a story about a room full of paleo people rolling their eyes and groaning at the mere mention of his name. Somehow the Cabot Institute's abandonment of the honoured speaker at the side of the stage seemed to epitomise this growing isolation. Even the scientivists seemed to be abandoning him.

The lecture was, as expected, quite breathtakingly dull, at least as far as the content was concerned. We have all heard the lecture before - the locker room full of hockey sticks that show that he was right all along, the wicked republicans who dog his every step, the temperature data that stops at 2005; you know the routine. The delivery was largely very slick, and Mann appears to have had some coaching in this regard, because there were some amusing one-liners and some good comic timing. I don't remember him having this ability before.

But in terms of advancing the debate or getting at the truth, the occasion was a dead loss. I certainly went in to the lecture expecting that precisely nothing useful would come of it and I was not wrong. The Q&A session was a non-event, with a series of questions along the lines of 'tell us what we can do to save the planet Professor Mann'. Afterwards, several people suggested that the questions were planted, and I certainly thought that Lewandowsky, who was moderating the session, appeared to be looking for particular faces in the audience. The questions were all slick and free of the kind of waffle that usually characterise such contributions and it was also an extraordinary coincidence that one of the questions came from one of the organisers of last week's climate march. My money would therefore be on the whole thing being a charade.

As I said though, this was pretty much what I expected: Mann, like so many others on the green side of the climate debate, does not engage with anyone who might ask awkward questions. My reason for coming south was not to hear Mann but to meet Anthony Watts, and I'm therefore grateful to BH reader Caroline K for organising a get-together beforehand and laying on a great spread for us all. I'm not sure we achieved very much (organising sceptics is always akin to herding cats) but it was good to meet so many readers face to face. Before the lecture I also got to say hello to Leo Hickman for the first time and to say hi to others like Richard Betts and Warren Pearce. This was where the important work of the day was done.

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Reader Comments (86)

So why do Climate Scientists present graphs without updating the data to include recent years? Is it laziness, a requirement to only use peer reviewed charts, or intentional?

Sep 24, 2014 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterclimatebeagle

Did the temp data really end at 2005 and nobody commented?

Sep 24, 2014 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Proctor

Jean S:

Did he pull off the AGU trick again?

I think that's exactly what he did. There was neither hint (in the graphs) nor mention of the pause and of how temperatures were by now nearly outside the 95% bands of all the models. No mention of McIntyre either of course. But let's not dwell on the negative. I came away with the strong impression that Michael Mann understands the science better, in some areas, than Sarah Palin.

Sep 24, 2014 at 4:30 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake


I'm surprised we haven't yet seen some pathetic John Hinckley type taking a potshot at a dastardly planet hater in order to win the heart of Angelina Jolie.

But we haven't and Islamic State has taken over in the genuinely grotesque violence stakes. Last night it became clearer to me that we should treat everyone in the climate scene as human beings, albeit with faults. A pretty basic revelation. And, as Anthony said more than once, that the one-to-one must begin to take precedence over blog anger.

Which is not to say that someone may not arise a bit like Hitler on the back of the very bad parts of climate demonisation. But while that hasn't happened we can do our part in the very small to make it slightly less likely. One-on-one. With thankfulness for everyone on a blog like BH who has the heart to care and to speak truth to power.

Sep 24, 2014 at 4:35 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

the rats are leaving the sinking mann

Sep 24, 2014 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

I think there has been some misunderstanding of the Chatham House rule.
(NB there is only one).

It believe boils down to - you can reveal what was said, but not who said what.
So to report the thrust of the discussion, or even specific remarks, would not be against the rule so long as there was no specific attribution.

Sep 24, 2014 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered Commentercjcjc

John Peter re the BBC 28gate meeting says "three real climate scientists".

Actually, that should be three real scientists, not climate scientists, as none of them had relevent scientific expertise in climate science such as attribution science or the physics of global warming

Sep 24, 2014 at 5:21 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

I came away with the strong impression that Michael Mann understands the science better, in some areas, than Sarah Palin.

Insert obligatory remark about needing a new keyboard here....

Sep 24, 2014 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonasM

I do hope that Professor Mann does not sink into obscurity.

Rather a high-profile finale in in order- in jail for (alleged) perjury.

Sep 24, 2014 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller


One does have to wonder at Avaaz - I wondered - and had a dig and they seem to have just popped fully formed and financed into existence and they seem to me to be something of a spooky stalking horse.

Obamah's background is quite unusually rich in connections to outfits that have connections to CIA operations - one does not need to be a conspiracy theorist to appreciate these links which the man himself acknowledges. The Ford Foundation being one...

Stirring words? - not 'alf - but not in the usual sense I think.

Sep 24, 2014 at 6:25 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Would it now be safe to assume that 97% of 'Warmists' have now changed their minds?

Sep 24, 2014 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered Commentertux52

Richard Drake. While I agree with you that one should always leave an escape route for those who have opposed and find themselves thinking maybe they're wrong, it is not obvious that the people we're talking about think they're wrong. If the did they would only have to look at the manner in which Judith Curry was treated during her apostasy. For the most side she was allowed to move to the "dark" side without rancour. Except for Williis Essenbech's usual grandstanding she was treated with dignity by the WUWTers, and, of course for her, responded with similar dignity.

We could be wrong about global warming and its effects, but we're basing our positions on a number of issues seemingly overlooked by the cliscis who, genuinely, believe there are dangers ahead. For my own part even if we all agreed there were dangers ahead the notion that we could reduce CO2 output in timescales that would mitigate the dangers is, shall we say, "odd", but I accept that there are other views, equally valid by the way, such as there are no dangers, the cliscis and enviros are making them up. As I've said to Richard to know about dangers ahead we have only models of a chaotic system and our own imaginations. My belief that even for cliscis, it is imagination that is the prevailing "evidence".

Should any of the current crop want to cross the line and become an apostate it isn't the scorn of the "deniers" they have to fear it is being outlawed by the clisci establishment and the concomitant attacks on their integrity from the former friends that they have to fear, and is probably the biggest fear they have. For the apostate of CAGW there remains a career cul-de-sac and the knowledge that scientific awards are a thing of the past are a thing of the past, along with a constant stream of abuse and vituperation from the Schmidts and Manns of this world that count a lot more than the magnaminity, or otherwise of the sceptics.

Sep 24, 2014 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

"One of my favourites was from Katabasis, who from first impressions walked straight in off a climate march (no insult intended)"

- No insult taken. It's handy sometimes. :) (it enabled myself and a friend to easily talk to and film a few of the attendees at the climate march on sunday, for which I will have a write up shortly).

- As to Mann's presentation, I continue to be gobsmacked that someone like him who willfully lies, omits and twists is not simply laughed off of the stage. I had my hand up throughout for a question - I happened to anticipate that Mann was likely to go large on the catastrophism and "extreme weather" and had brought along direct citations from AR5 on that topic. I was going to quote a couple and then ask Mann as his opinion clearly diverged from the IPCC, whether he no longer considered himself part of the "consensus".

- On a related note, whilst I understand the calls for calm and civility, I'm find it it increasingly harder to hold back. As I asked at the RSclimate event, I don't understand why the supposedly more responsible and genuinely scientifically minded climate scientists don't rein in the irresponsible and hysterical alarmists. Mann's assertions are simply not supported by AR5 yet he's able to invoke authority in his claims of current and imminent crisis with nary so much as a sigh in objection.

Sep 24, 2014 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterKatabasis

Interesting that Anthony found that cook could turn on the charm, the Bish has found that even Mann can learn to do one liners.
The only person who comes out as a total non-entity is Lewendowsky

Sep 24, 2014 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

Doug -

"Did the temp data really end at 2005 and nobody commented?"

- I think that's being generous. His scale actually ended at 2000, but the line continued on some way. My guess was more 2002-3 - 2005 seems too generous from what I remember of eyeballing it. And no, no one commented!

Sep 24, 2014 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterKatabasis

I'm not sure what's going on with the double posts. I'm definitely not hitting 'create post' more than once, or refreshing the page!

Sep 24, 2014 at 7:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterKatabasis

I take it that Cook wasn't in uniform?

Sep 24, 2014 at 11:11 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp
Nor did the Bish raise his hand - omnologos

Sep 24, 2014 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

Did Cook raise his arm?

Sep 24, 2014 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I recall seeing a video of Mann speaking at the AGU, and he is a good speaker. Confidence can do that for you.

Sep 24, 2014 at 7:58 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Katabasis, its because Foxgoose @3.29 blew the gaff on the CIA links and lured the spooks. Hence for exposing the "doublespeak" you are being targeted. We are reaching the stage where hysterical paranoia represents the "moderate" position amongst the true believers.

Sep 24, 2014 at 7:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenese2


As I've said to Richard to know about dangers ahead we have only models of a chaotic system and our own imaginations. My belief that even for cliscis, it is imagination that is the prevailing "evidence".

Richard Betts I assume you mean? But brilliantly put. I very much agree.

Should any of the current crop want to cross the line and become an apostate it isn't the scorn of the "deniers" they have to fear it is being outlawed by the clisci establishment and the concomitant attacks on their integrity from the former friends that they have to fear, and is probably the biggest fear they have.

I also agree with this. But it's somehow more subtle as well. There is irrational fear of deniers but there is also needless rudery from some of us at key moments which does confirm or trigger those fears. It's a bit like creating a responsible and loving place for detox. If you care you don't leave bottles of gin or needles around. Not that you can't enjoy a good gin and tonic yourself. But on certain occasions you'll limit yourself for the good of others.

How good are our current online meeting-places at that self-limitation? CA is best in my book.

The other thing is that sometimes I think we need to sit back and acknowledge greatness in our midst. Nic Lewis (supported by his wife) is getting so much right in all these areas. He doesn't need to be overpraised but we should I believe be keen to learn all we can from him.

Sep 24, 2014 at 8:12 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard Drake said at 4.35pm

Last night it became clearer to me that we should treat everyone in the climate scene as human beings, albeit with faults. A pretty basic revelation.

Like your comments at WUWT, I agree with this. In listening and talking to people with different viewpoints you get to understand their perspective. There is a problem for some people. At WUWT, Anthony Watts uses Loudzoo to sum up last night. He says:-
. . But what I took away from this lecture more than anything else is that Mann genuinely believes he is right and that his work will save the world.

For some people "climate science" is a core belief. To speak to someone who questions that belief is very hard indeed. In science this has long been recognized as an issue.

Sep 24, 2014 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

Richard I agree, I well remember Willis Essenbach's grandstanding at WUWT, when Judith Curry crossed the line, he was to put it mildly rude, and she, dignified. Although it can sometimes be fun to rib someone, it is unforgivable to be rude.

Sep 24, 2014 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

I suspect Richard Drake is right in allowing the Warmista the space to recant and recover, even if it goes against our normal combatative instincts to turn our other cheeks. The tide does appear to be turning against the Green dogma, at least in the Antipodes. The NZ general election of the past weekeknd was won handsomely, for a record third term in power, by the National Party (think Conservative without the peculiar green tinge that colours Brit Conservatives). Our mostly-homegrown Green party failed to advance much beyond 10% of the vote and some other mior parties remained minor to the point of exclusion from the results; the NZ Labour Party crashed to their worst defeat in the polls for 90 years. While our MMP system muddies things somewhat, the Green doomsters have not advanced their cause in years despite the best attempts of incredibly silly and mostly thespian 'celebrities' demonstrating their utter failure to grasp scientific principles or reality in their eco-whining about the melting Arctic or the poor Polar bears or whatever.
Alarmism and Socialism appear to both be losing their appeal, at least at this end of the world.

Sep 24, 2014 at 11:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

I propose a simple Cromwell's Test. Just one question to answer:

Would the person be receptive to a request such as "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken"?

YES means they can be talked with.

NO means they are forever lost - dialogue not even necessary, there is nothing to exchange but contempt.

A few examples:

Betts: YES
Cook: NO
Lew: NO
Rapley: YES
Stern: NO
Mann: NO
Hulme: YES
Briffa: YES
Jones: NO
Any actor who becomes a climate change expert: NO
Gavin: YES
Dear Kev: YES (most likely)

etc etc

Sep 24, 2014 at 11:34 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

You reckon Lewandowsky made sure 97% of the questions were from the true believers?

Sep 25, 2014 at 1:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterMuzz

Herding cats (super bowl commercial)

Sep 25, 2014 at 2:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Snow

"...Never? Do you apply that to anyone who once did something wrong? How does that work when applied to yourself? Do none of us ever get to move on from our past mistakes?

I forget Hickman's precise involvement four years ago but he didn't make the thing. Those that did are also, in my book, redeemable. Or we can opt for self-righteousness combined with complete lack of pragmatism. They will never change. They hold the levers of power. End of story. Stupid end of story.

Sep 24, 2014 at 2:13 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake"

The classic 'turn the other cheek' practice even when all cheeks are slapped?

Being human and giving people not only the chance, but also the right, to redeem their own souls is a natural reaction if not universal among people.

But deeds not words must out!

Long ago most of these active alarmists established their lack of human decency and broke all avenues of trust normally extended to fellow Earth inhabitants.
These CAGW fanatics demonized a perfectly normal cycle of life and minor greenhouse gas. These fanatics attribute to CO2 vast destructive powers and evil purpose while they pretend to interpret future scenes of climatic destruction in their models.

Welcoming a CAGW turncoat back to the scientific world is somewhat odd thought. First these folks were a turncoat to humanity and then when they realized the CAGW jig is up, again went turncoat to the cause they thrust upon us.

If their deeds begin to demonstrate a faithfulness to science and fellow humans, then perhaps they have truly recanted their fall into the CAGW abyss. How to absolve their remorse should be dependent on the completeness of their penitent actions.

Forgiveness must be earned, neither should CAGW penitents expect or demand forgiveness for that indicates they still harbor selfish attitudes akin to the traits that foster brutal and imperious CAGW lash backs towards critics and those that wish to leave the fold or even just talk to non-CAGWers.

Martin above reminded us that psychopaths walk among us and I would add to that thought that many psychotics are also living relatively normal lives. What causes a person to put blind faith into a cause that directly harms the weakest and poorest people on Earth?

How can such people be blind to that pain and suffering, realize that the cause they are pushing is lost and then seek a return to mainstream science? The reason for their return is wrong. Trying for distance from the CAGW team and lessening their adherence to 'team dynamics' is rather definitive that rather than sorrow for their actions, these folks are afraid to be connected to a losing cause. These are the people who still lack the ability to recognize right versus wrong, but instead believe anything they do is right.

There are a number of researchers perched on the scientific fence who while they work with the CAGW teams, they are much more open to honest discussion and respond honestly.
Tellingly, these researchers suffer the slights and blows from the CAGW fanatics. Much like slaves who wear scars from whips or lashes on their back, yet are fearful of the treatment they might receive from all sides of the discussion. To me, these are the people who most deserve the chance to redeem their souls and allow us to help heal their wounds.

Sep 25, 2014 at 5:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

Last comment was my contribution towards the discussion about CAGWers recanting their sins.

This comment is towards the title topic.

From your description Manniacal's stage show is exactly that, a scripted rehearsed play put on for either public or private entertainment.

There was not any new information presented. There was not any active discussion regarding the science.

It was a stage act start to finish. Up next will Manniacal's trained seals and show dogs! Helping to control the animals is the pit bull Lewandogsky with the whipped cur mongrel Gleickoodle.

Front and center will be the water averse fascist seal Cooklubber who will spin the special inflatable rising sea ball and then bounce pass it to Manniacal's specially trained platypus Nutticcellipus. Both of these playful animals love to spin and bounce CO2 spheres till everyone is dizzy! But don't be surprised if the Hickman pointer pooch pops the inflatable sphere in a large splash of red gory looking paint.

Gosh darn it; when you go to watch a fixed play, write it up as a play. Give credit, or not, to the author and to the actors or actresses on stage.

When boredom is the plot, boo loudly! If there are too many same old same old stage shows, bring rotten tomatoes and eggs.

Sep 25, 2014 at 6:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

Prof Mann showed slides of extreme weather events as the result of global warming, including one of our wet winter of 2014, this is what our Met Office has to say;

“As yet, there is no definitive answer on the possible contribution of climate change to the
recent storminess, rainfall amounts and the consequent flooding. This is in part due to the
highly variable nature of UK weather and climate.”

Perhaps he should delete the slide from his presentations; after all he is a scientist and would not like to be accused of propagating falsehoods?

I was hoping to ask him about how he determined scientifically if extreme events were linked to climate change, but apparently they were running out of time after only 4 questions, curiously only questions that supported AGW. My own plots on control charts suggest that the UK weather is just that. They are on my website, any observations welcome.

It was nice to see some of the famous names in the Skeptic world in person.

Sep 25, 2014 at 8:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterOldGifford

Omnologos - I feel like with any such test we should also apply it to the sceptic side too. But there is undoubtedly much more of a tendency to admit mistakes, issue corrections and update opinions on the part of sceptics.

And are you sure about Gavin? I just can't get over Stosselgate. "We've looked at the sun. It's not the sun. We've looked at volcanoes. It's not volcanoes." This guy is meant to be the award-winning science-communicator extraordinaire. Not to mention the theatrics with Spencer.

Sep 25, 2014 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterRO

Atheok, I may or may not be able to forgive so easily. Yes, it would be good if I could, and I was raised that way.
What I cannot do is forgive them on someone else's behalf. And those numbers are still going up.

Sep 25, 2014 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I can't engage with this thread or with most of BH for much longer, due to what one might call real-world work, but two things to add. As discerning Christian leaders like Charles Finney have said way back there are grave risks in the exercise of mercy. So nobody is ever wrong to warn of those risks. But mercy is our business if we try to follow Jesus and he did make the whole thing particularly difficult by making our own forgiveness by God dependent on our forgiving others, even the likes of Michael Mann. No wonder people object to such a belief system. As GK Chesterton once said, Christianity hasn't been tried and found wanting, it's been found difficult and not tried! Which I guess answers Harry Passfield's implicit question that I missed until a while afterwards:

Richard Drake: Having enjoyed your comments immensely I have come to the conclusion that you are either a man of the cloth - or a Buddhist. My money is on the latter. :-)

Actually I'm neither. But my dentist in London recently greeted me with "The Reverend Drake!" It was tongue-in-cheek but given the man's work among some of the most defenceless people in the world, including Muslims, helping them with healthcare as they try to avoid the genocidal tendencies of their government, I'll take it as a compliment. :)

Sep 25, 2014 at 2:05 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Have been following Michael Mann's psychiatrist Richard Lawson on Twitter. He warned Mann to expect trouble

Richard Lawson @DocRichard · Sep 23
@4589roger At John Cook's talk last week, Cabot Inst chair selected a string of questions from CC deniers in audience. @MichaelEMann

Richard Lawson @DocRichard · Sep 23
@MichaelEMann Looking forward to hearing you in Bristol tonight. Be prepared for hostile qq to be selected. Happened to John Cook last week.

This Lawson supports Mann with religious fervor. He won't let anyone #AskDrMann questions. Harasses us by questioning our devotion to the cause. He wrote a hierarchy of denial that Mann sent to Revkin, but Revkin discouraged.

I am convinced this is the fastest growing religion in the Western World. When I teach in an American classroom as a substitute I have to teach climate abuse during their reading instruction, then science, then social studies. It is embedded in place of real literature, scientific method, and history. Three times during each day the typical American student gets a dose of climate guilt.

Sep 26, 2014 at 3:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterKate49

Andrew: this post was quoted extensively and approvingly by Mark Steyn today:

Sep 26, 2014 at 4:50 AM | Registered Commenterpottereaton

Steyn needs to be generous with those who have essentially done his lawyers' work for him. McIntyre and JeanS along with a number of lawyers and clear thinking commenters have essentially dissected Mann's arguments and "scientific" work. The CIE brief, IMO, is a clear example of the benefits of reading this and other skeptic blogs.

Sep 26, 2014 at 5:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterbernie1815


War might be a too-strong analogy, not withstanding alarmist initiation-of-force, attitudes such as that skeptics should be jailed, and blocking people’s access, as well as their disinformation tactics.

But I point to John David Lewis’ book “Nothing Less Than Victory” which chronicles how obtaining total surrender of Imperial Shinto and re-orienting people to a positive way of life fostered productive people to seven decades of peace and prosperity, in contrast to World War I.

Burgess Laughlin’s book “The Power and the Glory” may be instructive on how to advance ideas, he chronicles eight cases of promotion of ideas, on both sides of key issues.

(Alas, both those fine individuals are gone, but their research and teaching accomplishments are still with us.)

Sep 26, 2014 at 8:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith Sketchley

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