Penn State Scientist Michael Mann Alleges Defamation, Seeks Damages

The scientist most associated with the iconic ‘hockeystick’ graph goes to court against a conservative publication and organization and against two writers.


Nowhere is there any indication that Penn State University climate scientist Michael E. Mann, of “hockeystick” fame and controversy, has ever recently mouthed the epic phrase from the 1976 American satirical film “Network.” That distinction, or at least the original iteration of it, lies with actor Peter Finch in his role as longtime “UBS Evening News” anchor Howard Beale.

It’s considered even less likely that the irrepressible Mann has yet mouthed the “You can take this job and shove it” line from Johnny Paycheck’s classic 1977 tune.

Mann, fresh from recent victories over what is widely regarded to have been an ideologically motivated pursuit of information by the Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli stemming from Mann’s days at the University of Virginia, all the same has had enough. He’s now going to court against National Review, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), and two writers over what Mann sees as their “false and defamatory statements” comparing him to convicted child molester and former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Mann unquestionably has received more than his fair share of barbed attacks from those critical of much of the established climate scientist … and in particular of his early research and work leading to the iconic “hockeystick” chart, which shows sharply rising global temperatures in sync with rising carbon dioxide emissions. There likely is no single climate scientist more, and for a longer time, in the crosshairs of the most aggressive climate science critics.

Mann’s gripe now arises from a July posting on a CEI blog in which the author wrote that Mann “could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children he has molested and tortured data.” CEI has since then removed the language from its site.

In a case likely to be closely watched not only by those following climate science and scientific research generally, but also those following media law, Mann’s case filed before the Superior Court of the District of Columbia is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Mann’s burden of proof in such a case is unquestionably high, but his legal challenge is one certain to attract widespread interest if it moves forward.

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