The lawyers strike back

April 19th, 2008 at 1:20 pm by David Farrar

Hot Topic has done what looks to be a lawyer dictated apology and retraction to :

In fact Mr Hansford was not sacked by The Listener, and nor did The Listener seek to censor or suppress Mr Hansford’s views. and AUT Media Ltd accept that The Listener and its editor have a strong commitment to environmental issues, and that there was no basis for any of the criticisms expressed on this site of either The Listener or its editor, or of the editorial integrity and independence of The Listener. Hot Topic and AUT Media Ltd unreservedly withdraw those statements an apologise to The Listener and to Pamela Stirling for the distress caused by our publication.

While blogs, like any publication, are not immune from the responsibility of good faith and accuracy, it seems fairly heavy handed to sic the lawyers onto a blog rather than using the opportunities blogs provide to provide rebuttal and the other side of the story. I hope this isn’t the start of a trend.

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45 Responses to “The lawyers strike back”

  1. poneke (280 comments) says:

    What stands out about this is that here we have a well-resourced multinational company in the form of APN (which owns the Listener, NZ Herald and much more) employing a huge corporate law firm, Bell Gully, to force a blog to run an apology to a mainstream media magazine.

    A *blog* for god’s sake.

    If this has happened before, I have overlooked it.

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  2. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    I can understand the concern that this legal action again may set of a train off such actions and stifle debate.
    I am not surprised this “precedent” has taken place over a climate change debate because as I have mentioned I have never been in a debate which has been so acrimonious, and as something of a contrarian I have been in many. I might also say that the climate skeptics do seem to be able to engage in civilised discourse while the alarmists are the ones who foam at the mouth and look forward to me “rotting in the grave” and so on.
    While I was not at the center of this contretemp between Bryan Leyland and the Listener and its columnist, it does seem to me that it was “without precedent” and hence the legal action is not as scary an action as it might first appear. For one thing the columnist misrepresented his status but more importantly those who rushed to his defence, then proceeded to attack a third party – the Editor, making claims which would surely bring her reputation into disrepute. This was not an argument beween two bloggers on a blog but between bloggers and a blog host and a third party and an aggrieved columnist who seemed willing to tell the public that he had been fired because oil companies had brought pressure to bear on the Listener Editor who had then caved.
    I suspect that the Listener found they could be facing an employment court action if they did not come to the defense of the Editor.
    She surely had a case.
    This is a highly particular set of circumstances and I do not therefore believe that blog sites are under some threat from corporates. It seems to me more likely that an individual is having her reputation protected from outrageous slander.

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  3. jafapete (757 comments) says:

    Interestingly, the original post didn’t actually say that Hansford was sacked. It said that he was dropped from the roster of writers. Nor did it say that his views were censored whilst he wrote for the column.

    Edit, nor, having read Hansford’s post on the earlier blog “I’ll drown in my own tears” and the subsequent “Climate cranks claim a scalp”, can I see where Hansford or Hot Topic claimed that he lost his place on the column roster because “oil companies had brought pressure to bear on the Listener Editor who had then caved”, as Owen McShane states here. Perhaps he said that somewhere else, but Hot Topic specifically refers to Heartland and not “oil companies”.

    As for the Listener’s “editorial integrity and independence”, we can read the final Hansford column, note that he is no longer on the roster of writers, consider the Listener editor’s explanation, look at the subsequent editorial content, note Hot Topic’s unreserved withdrawal, and make up our own minds.

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  4. burt (8,269 comments) says:

    The main stream media, by doing this, have acknowledged that their business is under threat from more interactive and carbon neutral information exchanges. They are acknowledging that it’s more effective to force a blog to run an apology than it is to publish their cases in their own publications.

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  5. jafapete (757 comments) says:

    Oops, read the “Climate cranks claim a scalp” blog again, and see that it does say that Hansford was asked to rework his piece. Not necessarily the same as censorship.

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  6. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    Owen: “I might also say that the climate skeptics do seem to be able to engage in civilised discourse while the alarmists are the ones who foam at the mouth and look forward to me “rotting in the grave” and so on.”

    What can I say other than my experience is that I’ve seen plenty of smears directed and insults thrown in both directions, including at me.
    One of the most widely used methods is to claim that your opponent said something that they did not, eg Bryan Leyland accused Dave Hansford of awarding him “fool of the year”, according to Hansford this is untrue it was “The Planet I’m on Still Works Fine Award”.
    Another method is to claim that one side is using a term perjoratively rather than literally eg. “denier” which I thought meant “to deny”.
    And a third method is to use personal anecdotal evidence to tar all your opponents, which is what Owen does in his sentence that I quote above.

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  7. poneke (280 comments) says:

    Another method is to claim that one side is using a term perjoratively rather than literally eg. “denier” which I thought meant “to deny”.

    Andrew you continue to be disingenuous over the use of this term. I did not come down in the last shower, and nor did you.

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  8. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    One of the first times the term denier was used was when some alarmist suggested all skeptics should be tried for crimes against humanity along the lines of the Nuremberg trials.
    I have done a quick search but did not land it (so many sidetracks) but I am sure others will remember it.

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  9. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    I’m surprised it has taken so long for someone to ‘call out’ the defamatory crap which one often reads on blogs. I think this is an excellent development and should give all bloggers reason to think twice before hitting the keyboard, pissed or sober.

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  10. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    Poneke, Perhaps you can suggest another simple term as accurate as “AGW denier”, “sceptic” I don’t accept for the reasons I’ve mentioned on your blog.

    The term ‘denier” was widely used well before a British “alarmist” said that “climate change deniers should be treated like Holocaust deniers”, now because one silly person used the term in that way you say everyone who uses it must be doing so deliberately to link the two.

    I like the term “Gollums” as it signifies that I’m referring to the denial of an addiction, in this instance to carbon, like other addicts in denial, AGW deniers try to blame everyone else for the problems the addiction cause, the IPCC, socialists, greenies, anyone, just so long as nobody actually can manage to force them to face up to their own self deceit.

    Now if AGW deniers were genuine in their belief that “denier” is used pejoratively to link them to Holocaust deniers, they should feel that being called “Gollums” is less pejorative, if they don’t think it’s less pejorative I would argue that the claimed offence taken at the use of the term “denier” is a lie. So Owen, which term would you rather was used?

    Also Owen, when you use the term “alarmist” are you using it pejoratively??

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  11. Peak Oil Conspiracy (3,323 comments) says:

    AndrewW:

    I think this is a thread about blog defamation – not an opportunity for you to sidetrack into denialist theory (which you seem to do fairly regularly). Perhaps you could save that up for the next Kyoto thread?

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  12. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    I use the term “Alarmist” when I refer to those like Al Gore who promote scenarios far more extreme than the IPCC, and as distinct from those scientists who agree generally with the IPCC view that the climate it changing and that human activity is playing a major role.

    There is a genuine scientific debate going on in many dimensions and that is generally good natured and civilised. We don’t call each other liars when we express our differing opinions whereas the Alarmists use the term liar for anyone who is skeptical of their claims that we are all going to be retreating to the Arctic in five years time or that half of the ocean species will be extinct in five years time and so on.
    These Alarmists are not part of the scientific debate. They generally have a “yearning for catastrophe” and make no attempt to engage in the scientific debate at all but simply enter into abusive and ad hominem attacks.
    I particularly enjoy the Alarmists who attack us skeptics because we actually have disagreements among ourselves. And they are right – we do. The opening session in New York was from two skeptics who took opposite positions on how to interpret the temperature records since 1998. I suppose the idea of internal dissent does not sit well with the theory that we are all mouthpieces for big oil.
    There is another group who I include in the Alarmist set – and that is those who accept the IPCC report but then use false pictures or images to overstate the IPCC position. For example pictures of ice breaking off the Antarctic ice shelves (which are spectacular events) but are no evidence of anything in terms of the climate argument. And then there are the people in Govt who write those scary posters for school children which are just plain propaganda and which claim to be informing kids about the IPCC positions – which in themselves are not alarmist.
    Some scientists and economists completely accept the IPCC conclusions but say that we should adapt to the likely change rather than take urgent actions based on the alarmist claims. Bjorn Lomburg is one such. He is not an alarmist but accepts the IPCC reports. I have no problem with that. I certainly don’t call him a liar – or throw pies in his face like the real alarmists.

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  13. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    Well, POC, these “AGW deniers” seem to think that every time I use the term “denier” on a blog I’m defaming them.

    Has DPF selected some new moderators, are you one?

    Please don’t let me stop you commenting on blog defamation, I value your opinion (serious).

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  14. jafapete (757 comments) says:

    How about “denialist”?

    It’s not in the OED, but does capture the tendency to try to deny regardless of any evidence presented, which is what I think the AGW group is getting at. According to Wikipedia, “Common forms of denialism arising from ideologies are holocaust denial, AIDS reappraisal, the vaccine controversy, and the creation-evolution controversy.”

    “Denialist” couldn’t be seen as attempting to associate climate change denialists specifically with holocaust deniers, but rather with the genus to which they may be most usefully assigned.

    PS Where can I read more about the “theory that we are ALL mouthpieces for big oil” (emphasis added)? Edit: that’s twice McShane’s introduced oil companies into the discussion, now I think of it.

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  15. Peak Oil Conspiracy (3,323 comments) says:

    AndrewW:

    Oh fair enough – but from my observation “defamation” is thrown around too easily on the blogs. Just because someone claims to have been defamed, or that a particular comment is defamatory, doesn’t make it so. There’s a well-established legal test to be applied. A person probably needs to be thick-skinned to participate in blog commentary.

    I was interested in what Owen brought his comment back to:

    This was not an argument beween two bloggers on a blog but between bloggers and a blog host and a third party and an aggrieved columnist who seemed willing to tell the public that he had been fired because oil companies had brought pressure to bear on the Listener Editor who had then caved.

    I suspect that the Listener found they could be facing an employment court action if they did not come to the defense of the Editor. She surely had a case.

    This is a highly particular set of circumstances and I do not therefore believe that blog sites are under some threat from corporates. It seems to me more likely that an individual is having her reputation protected from outrageous slander.

    One of the things I value about blogs is reading different points of view. At some point – particularly on political threads – those differences become so pronounced that the debate becomes an unmanageable flamewar. Petty name-calling doesn’t necessarily mean defamation. Two fairly anonymous people who comment on blogs are unlikely to successfully defame each other. It’s easier for an anonymous person to defame the blog host or a well-known person or company.

    This is where I started reflecting on the implications of Owen’s comment. A blog host is (possibly) more likely to see the offending comment and deal with it appropriately – except perhaps in DPF’s case, as Kiwiblog has grown from strength to strength.

    What I’m wondering about is where there’s a certain third party – say the Listener here. Should they be required to actively trawl the blogs looking for defamatory comments? Impracticable. Should they be required to actively respond to defamatory comments brought to their attention? Possibly – but it depends.

    I’m interested in the proposition that Listener should take active steps to defend the reputation of an employee. That may be the case where editorial independence is questioned – but I’m not sure that proposition carries across to other contexts. This may be, as Owen suggests, a fairly unique set of circumstances.

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  16. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    The word you are seeking is ‘heretic. Remember, it is a religion you are discussing.

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  17. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    Have you seen Gareth’s original article? It’s not hard to find

    It was more asking, rather than accusing in nature, it never claimed what the lawyer letter said was claimed, it simply asked what the true story was, such an approach (we’ve all seen it used) is common throughout the media and not normally taken as defamatory, Gareth would have been very happy to have had The Listener’s editor reply on his blog.

    Heh, thanks Adolf, not quite what I had in mind.

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  18. dad4justice (8,217 comments) says:

    “Lawyers strike back ” haha joke of the century. Do lawyers have hitting handbags ’cause they sure as hell know how to hurt your back pocket?

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  19. reid (16,442 comments) says:

    Have to agree with someone above who suggested it was more related to Employment legislation than Defamation.

    Personally if anyone takes an action against me for any comment I make about the current govt, I’m looking forward to using the defense of fair comment.

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  20. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    From Media Law Journal:

    Some context: HotTopic – a serious blog about global warming – questioned the Listener’s removal of Dave Hansford as its Ecologic columnist. The blogger wondered whether Hansford’s removal had anything to do with his recent column criticising climate change sceptics. The post is largely a model of fairness. It sets out the background facts. It raises questions rather than making allegations. It even allows that the Listener’s editor may have made the change for other reasons. It plainly expresses comment. Readers can judge for themselves what to think. Bloody hell: how many blog posts merit that accolade? (For my part, I doubt Hansford was removed because of the column. The blog post is temperate enough that others have reached that view too).

    http://www.medialawjournal.co.nz/

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  21. Peak Oil Conspiracy (3,323 comments) says:

    Reid:

    Personally if anyone takes an action against me for any comment I make about the current govt, I’m looking forward to using the defense of fair comment.

    I think Ian Wishart will be using that defence before you. No doubt his new book script has been carefully fact-checked and lawyer-proofed, but that won’t stop Labour from attacking him personally – although, if he’s so wrong, as Labour will claim, some factual rebuttal of his comments might be nice. It’s election year after all!

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  22. toms (299 comments) says:

    First of all, burt: credit where credit is due – a mature post that to marks your arrival as someone with a brain who is worth the the time to read.

    Secondly, Mr. Farrar says: “…I hope this isn’t the start of a trend…” Dude, given the sort of comments you allow on this site for your sake so do I.

    Thirdly, media law journal covers it all. I would fervently hope a fairy godmother lawyer comes along that allows hot-topic to take down the retraction and put up a great big SCREW YOU in its place.

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  23. toms (299 comments) says:

    PS Something else for David Farrar and the kiwiblog attack dogs to consider – if Helen Clark had as thin a skin as APN/The Listener, how long would http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz still be up on the internet? Something to consider when you next have a collective fit over the EFA.

    [DPF: Oh Toms think we should bow down and be grateful to Helen for allowing us to criticise her. Especially ironic considering how much time Toms spending attacking me all over the place. The poor boy is quite obsessed I am told]

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  24. reid (16,442 comments) says:

    Yes Toms you seem quite deluded, talking about DPF’s attack dogs.

    Don’t you know that Kiwiblog is completely biased, anyone who doesn’t toe the party line is banned, every post is monitored by Echelon which gives us each day a detailed psychological profile on the lefty bloggers, there is a secret and sacred recognition signal only given to initiates of the VRWC which completely passes by you lefties.

    It’s all rather spooky. If I was you, I’d be afraid, very afraid.

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  25. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    I suspect that if it had just been Gareth’s blog there would have been no legal action.
    Surely if Dave Handsford had not entered the fray making his claims and imputations then there would have been no grounds for legal intervention.

    He should have simply stayed guiet and certainly not have added insider fuel to the fire.

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  26. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    There is absolutely no evidence supporting your idea Owen, the thread with Hansford’s comments are still up, the letter of apology, which Steven Price says “looks to have been drafted by said lawyers” refers only to Gareth’s article and makes no mention of any of the thread comments, by Hansford or anyone else.

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  27. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Kind of bizarre how the lawyers made Garth write:

    “Hot Topic and AUT Media Ltd accept that The Listener and its editor have a strong commitment to environmental issues”

    …when that wasn’t even an issue.

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  28. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    I would agree with Owen’s definition of: ” “Alarmist” when I refer to those like Al Gore who promote scenarios far more extreme than the IPCC, and as distinct from those scientists who agree generally with the IPCC view that the climate it changing and that human activity is playing a major role. ” Would be great if he actually made that distinction more often when discussing climate change, one always gets the feeling that AGW *itself* is being declared alarmist.

    Does Al Gore actually go past the IPCC’s 5 or 6 degree worst case scenario though?

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  29. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    Stephen

    It was equally bizarre that Dave Hansford claimed Heritage Foundation called for him to be sacked when their letter said no such thing. Those kind of statments are placatory and apologetic as opposed to correcting. Note is was a correction AND apology.

    A couple of things to consider that make this a bit different from a common blog: both of people involved in this story – Hansford and Renowden – are prominent environmental writers and regular contributors to the media. They should know the rules around fact and opinion, and defamation. They should be held to a higher standard as a result, as should the other professional journalists blogging.

    The Hot Topic blog is part funded by AUT Media – part of AUT, a public body. It is not a private personal venture like The Standard or Kiwiblog or poneke. So to claim it is little wee blogger vs large corporate gilds the lily a bit.

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  30. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    “It was equally bizarre that Dave Hansford claimed Heritage Foundation called for him to be sacked when their letter said no such thing.”

    Insider, The Listener and Bell Gully’s objections appear to be specific to the contents of Gareth’s article, not the Headline, and not the comments on the thread, If The Listener and Bell Gully get the headline and thread removed perhaps then were can start to talk about whether or not they were libelous.

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  31. PhilBest (5,121 comments) says:

    That was a nice exchange between Owen McShane and Andrew W. I agree with Owen, and would add that when it comes to the less knowledgeable general public, there are an awful lot of people who have swallowed the Al Gore / alarmist position, and there are an awful lot of activists pushing it for all they are worth. I have always said that THESE people have political / religious reasons for doing so, I.E they hate business, profits, capitalism, the USA, etc. I would go as far as to say that even bureaucratic offices in the UN and governments of nations around the world are infested with people with these extreme values systems, along with some of the more wacky politicians, of which NZ also does not lack.

    Why has a propaganda movie full of lies been so B. successful and its author been awarded a Nobel? And what is the role of THAT propaganda movie and its lies, in getting “mainstream” support for our Gummint’s approach to Kyoto and the hounding of politicians on all sides over their views on it? You can’t deny we’re on territory here with dangerous historical precedents.

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  32. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    ANdrew

    I was surprised the headline was still there but it is in the text of the apology so would be a bit odd to remove it, and without the content you could argue it on its own is meaningless and inoffensive.

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  33. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    PhilBest: “I agree with Owen, and would add that when it comes to the less knowledgeable general public, there are an awful lot of people who have swallowed the Al Gore / alarmist position,”

    While it’s good to see Owen make the distinction between those supporting the MS IPCC position (which includes me) and those who believe in extreme scenarios, Owen and you Phil, fail to recognise that your own positions, in denying the scientifically based IPCC position are simply the other side of the coin to the alarmists, your position in denying the science without any understanding of it is no better than the alarmists who also take positions founded in ideology rather than science.

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  34. PhilBest (5,121 comments) says:

    I have just read ENOUGH about the IPCC position to realise that it is not what it is claimed to be. I think that the hundreds of scientists who are in dispute with it have a point. The use of the “hockey stick” graph by the IPCC and the Oil For Food/ Oil for Saddam’s Palaces scandal are all par for the course where the UN is concerned. This institution is rotten to the core.

    What has happened to “the hockey stick” graph? These guys don’t admit when they’re WRONG, and when they’ve been DISHONEST. If there is any more glaring example of selective use of “evidence”, this was it. I predict that in years to come, MOST of the IPCC’s “science” will be just as discredited as “the hockey stick”, or worse, just as much of a laughing stock as the “global cooling” scare of the 1970’s. And if we get to adopt an attitude that is less naive towards the UN in the process, that will be to the better too.

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  35. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Philbest, what on earth are you talking about with regard to the hockey stick? Exactly what is wrong with it? Who discredited it?

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  36. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    Phil, all you’ve done is read the claims made by AGW deniers that suit you.
    The “hockey stick” graph hasn’t been discarded, it’s still in the IPCC reports, the only change made to it after it was dissected by M&M, Wegman, and NAS was that the size of the error bars for the earlier period of the proxy reconstruction were increased. No reputable scientist who has studied the issue ever claimed that Mann was dishonest, Mann HAS acknowledged that there were mistakes in his work. Incidentally, the outlandish claims by denialist fanatics that he was dishonest refute Owens claim about denialists being more civil than alarmists.

    Until you study all the evidence, rather than just that which suits you, you know Jackshit.

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  37. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    I do resent being told by Andrew W that I have no understanding of the science.
    I spent decades managing investments in high technology projects ranging from ion beam sources, to advanced microbiology, and pharmaceuticals and advanced materials science.
    I soon learned that the leaders in their field can explain what they are doing, and the theory behind it, in plain English.
    If a so called expert cannot explain what they are doing in plain English then they either do not know themselves or are simply second rate minds.
    When I first became embroiled in this debate I had been asked to advise Federated Farmers on how to respond to the so called fart tax.
    I did a fairly standard economic analysis while fully accepting the IPCC position, although I had some reservations about the more alarmist positions being promoted by politicians.
    Then I attended a seminar about Climate Change mounted in Wellington. The first thing that happened was that when I began to present my paper a group of NIWA scientists in the front row began to iheckle me so loudly that the Chair threatened to remove them from the room. I had never experienced anything like it. A taste of things to come.
    Then when their key speaker put up the hockey stick I asked “what happened to the medieval warm period and the little ice age?”
    He replied “They never happened.” As baldly as that.
    Now, I have about 5000 books in my personal library, and would guess that half of them make some reference to, or are based on, those two significant periods in human history. At this point I knew I was dealing with seriously deluded people and did not need to know anything about climate science to know this. You just have to walk into a decent art gallery. Or read the history of the Black Death. Or wonder why the Maori stopped sailing to New Zealand.

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  38. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    Andrew
    RE: Mann.
    I do not know how you can say that no reputable scientist has ever said Mann was dishonest, and it takes more than an extension of the error bars to overcome the fact you can feed random data into the model and still get a hockey stick.
    The ice cores do establish that the tree rings were an inadequate proxy and there was a medieval warm period and a little ice age and of course the warm Roman Period and the warm Minoan period. Civilisations flourish in warm times and have a hard time in cool periods.
    The black death which killed forty percent of the European population is clearly related to the change in climate. The good news for us it that the collapse in the work force encouraged the industrial revolution and the collapse in faith encouraged the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.
    These things happened.

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  39. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    “I do resent being told by Andrew W that I have no understanding of the science.”

    Hmm, now did I say “Owen has no understanding of the science”?

    Nope, not there, so Owen is Using Bryans technique, noted earlier, of claiming someone said something that they didn’t.

    My argument Owen is that you are biased when you weigh the evidence because you let your political and economic philosophy destroy your objectivity, Alarmists do the same.

    I don’t know what your experience was was in the seminar you refer to but here’s a graph showing various temperature reconstruction:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:2000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png
    And hey look, there’s the MWP and the LIA!

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  40. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    I seem to be seeing a lot of ‘acceptance’ of the IPCC position (essentially AGW, to whatever extent) from Owen, but I (like the afore-mentioned NIWA scientists) always thought he was a perpetual sceptic (i.e. using dubious science to ‘disprove’ AGW again and again). Do we have the wrong idea, or is acceptance of the IPCC simply an ‘assumption’ as is often used in economics to explore certain scenarios?

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  41. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    “I do not know how you can say that no reputable scientist has ever said Mann was dishonest,”
    OK, simple solution name me one.

    ” and it takes more than an extension of the error bars to overcome the fact you can feed random data into the model and still get a hockey stick.”

    So where are the reconstructions on the proxy data Mann used that use other statistical methods that don’t cause random data to produce the hockey stick?

    Answer, all sound methodologies applied to the data produce the hockey stick, it was proven that the hockeystick shape was a real product of the data and not a product of the methodology Mann used. Read the NAS report.

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  42. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    Oops, I was ambiguous earlier Owen, I was specifically addressing Phil when I said “your position in denying the science without any understanding of it” but it reads just as easily that I was refering to you too, so I apologies for that. However, given your apparent belief that reputable scientists have labelled Mann “dishonest” and that the Hockey Stick shape was a product of the statistical methods rather than a true product of the proxy data, one of us is wrong and does not have a very good understanding of the facts of that particular controversy.

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  43. PhilBest (5,121 comments) says:

    THANKS, OWEN.

    Look, Andrew W, if you’re still regarding the “hockey stick” graph as gospel, YOU’RE the one who knows jack shit. As Owen says, we’ve got the IPCC and a whole sector of a particular discipline, (and you could bet on most of those hecklers Owen experienced being Green voters), prepared to overturn decades of scientific research in favour of ONE study which turned out to be easily refutable, in dismissing the existence in history of a medieval warm period and earlier warm periods. Very neat. Joe Goebbells couldn’t have done it better.

    Now, I know that you’ll say that I’m condemning “scientists” because of the POLITICAL motivations, but what I am pointing out is that it is the POLITICALLY-MOTIVATED ones that are giving us endless amounts of bullshit “science”, not the ones that you allege to be funded by Oil companies who spend THEIR time blowing the cover on the bullshit, fortunately for all of us. There is still hope for humanity while this lasts.

    Willie Soon and Sally Baliunas, by the way, did research HOW MANY scientific studies in the past had established the existence of the medieval warm period, and found literally hundreds. It was actually the hockey stick graph that first made ME smell a rat about the whole scenario, having read, like Owen, but unlike most ordinary citizens, unfortunately, enough history to have known the truth.

    Names that come to mind on the hockey stick controversy are Balling, Michaels, and McKitrick. Off the top of my head, no Google searching. So I expect you will now proceed to smear them and their sources of funding, just like a good student of Joe Goebbells.

    Also, chew on THIS:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120847988943824973.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    “Our Climate Numbers Are a Big Old Mess”, by Patrick Michaels.

    EXCERPT:

    “The earth’s paltry warming trend, 0.31 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since the mid-1970s, isn’t enough to scare people into poverty. And even that 0.31 degree figure is suspect.

    For years, records from surface thermometers showed a global warming trend beginning in the late 1970s. But temperatures sensed by satellites and weather balloons displayed no concurrent warming.

    These records have been revised a number of times, and I examined the two major revisions of these three records. They are the surface record from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the satellite-sensed temperatures originally published by University of Alabama’s John Christy, and the weather-balloon records originally published by James Angell of the U.S. Commerce Department.

    The two revisions of the IPCC surface record each successively lowered temperatures in the 1950s and the 1960s. The result? Obviously more warming – from largely the same data.

    The balloon temperatures got a similar treatment. While these originally showed no warming since the late 1970s, inclusion of all the data beginning in 1958 resulted in a slight warming trend. In 2003, some tropical balloon data, largely from poor countries, were removed because their records seemed to vary too much from year to year. This change also resulted in an increased warming trend. Another check for quality control in 2005 created further warming, doubling the initial overall rate.

    Then it was discovered that our orbiting satellites have a few faults. The sensors don’t last very long and are continually being supplanted by replacement orbiters. The instruments are calibrated against each other, so if one is off, so is the whole record. Frank Wentz, a consulting atmospheric scientist from California, discovered that the satellites also drift a bit in their orbits, which induces additional bias in their readings. The net result? A warming trend appears where before there was none.

    There have been six major revisions in the warming figures in recent years, all in the same direction. So it’s like flipping a coin six times and getting tails each time. The chance of that occurring is 0.016, or less than one in 50. That doesn’t mean that these revisions are all hooey, but the probability that they would all go in one direction on the merits is pretty darned small.

    The removal of weather-balloon data because poor nations don’t do a good job of minding their weather instruments deserves more investigation, which is precisely what University of Guelph economist Ross McKitrick and I did. Last year we published our results in the Journal of Geophysical Research, showing that “non-climatic” effects in land-surface temperatures – GDP per capita, among other things – exert a significant influence on the data. For example, weather stations are supposed to be a standard white color. If they darken from lack of maintenance, temperatures read higher than they actually are. After adjusting for such effects, as much as half of the warming in the U.N.’s land-based record vanishes. Because about 70% of earth’s surface is water, this could mean a reduction of as much as 15% in the global warming trend.

    Another interesting thing happens to the U.N.’s data when it’s adjusted for the non-climatic factors. The frequency of very warm months is lowered, to the point at which it matches the satellite data, which show fewer very hot months. That’s a pretty good sign that there are fundamental problems with the surface temperature history. At any rate, our findings have not been incorporated into the IPCC’s history, and they probably never will be.”

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  44. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    >OPINION

    >Our Climate Numbers Are a Big Old Mess
    >By PATRICK MICHAELS

    If Pat Michaels thinks there are errors or biases in the temperature records he should present the evidence supporting his concerns to the scientific community in scientific forums. The fact that he chooses to use the MSM to publisize his claims instead probably means he’s blowing smoke and has no foundation for those claims (as I’ve pointed out before, again you’re basing your arguments on “opinion” pieces in the MSM)

    ” Joe Goebbells couldn’t have done it better.”
    “I expect you will now proceed to smear them and their sources of funding, just like a good student of Joe Goebbells.”
    “and you could bet on most of those hecklers Owen experienced being Green voters”

    Phil, how many times do I need to tell you that I don’t care about where they get their funding from?

    And again your labelling me as a student of a Nazi, and your politicisation of the issue is damning to any claims you make that you’re not politically motivated in your denialism. You just can’t bloody leave the politics out of it can you? You’re addicted to your belief that AGW is all a politically motivated conspiracy.

    Finally, would you care to take up the challenges I put to Owen at 5:49pm?

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