Climate Scientist Sues Right Wing Propaganda Organs for Libel

I’m not one who thinks taking things to the courts is always the best course of action.  Justice is sometimes served; truth sometimes goes missing.  In this case, I’d have to know more about the thinking behind it.  Michael Mann, leading climate scientist and director of Pennsylvania State University’s Earth System Science Center, has indeed been vilified.  In at least one article he was compared to child molester Jerry Sandusky.

He announced today he was suing the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, along with CEI analyst Rand Simberg and National Review reporter Mark Steyn.

But, will winning the law suit repair anything?  Has he been damaged by the scurrilous accusations where it matters — in his peer-group, his university or community?  Is he unable to publish, or has his earning capacity been injured? Will the bad opinion of him held by those who believe such crap be changed by a finding of guilty? Or, will they heap calumny on the legal system that comes up with the finding?

And if he fails to prevail?  As the article says, getting a guilty verdict in a libel trial can be immensely difficult — depending to some degree how ‘public’ a figure he is, and therefore how much calumny is acceptable.

Of course Mann, and his suit, lie within the context of the larger science-denial fight.  He says directly that he hopes to fight back against “the onslaught of dishonest and libelous attacks that climate scientists have endured for years by dishonest front groups seeking to discredit the case for concern over climate change.”

How would the success or failure of his lawsuit reduce the onslaught of attacks, or at least reduce the numbers of those who are persuaded by attacks and faith over evidence and rationality?

What is wanted is a turn around from the incredible belief-over-evidence mania that has gripped a large portion of the United States in the last 30 years. If wise and canny strategists think Mann’s law-suit will assist in that endeavor — and remember, the Scopes Monkey Trial resulted in ambiguous success for both sides of the same issue — than it gets my weak g0-ahead.

Personally I’d rather see tens of thousands surrounding the What House, and fundamentalist churches across the nation, echoing the cries of Florida officials about rising sea-water and the damage to house and home, and matching with What Are You Going to Do About this!

Of course Michael Mann may not be able to accomplish such demonstrations, and the lawsuit is his best shot at Doing Something!

Good Luck… and the rest of us, please check out

FRONTLINE – CLIMATE OF DOUBT,  Thursday, your favorite PBS station

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