UPDATE: Lubos Motl has a poll running on whether this is the right stance to take or not. Feel free to take it here - Anthony
This is an editorial that I never thought I’d be writing and I expect readers are also surprised to see it. Before you come to a conclusion about my decision, please read the entire essay – there’s a good reason for me to take this position in this particular case. See the event below.
There’s an organization called choosecommonsense.org that is running a letter writing campaign to Penn State to prevent Dr.Mann from speaking. In my opinion, this is the wrong thing to do and the wrong message to send. Let me explain.
First, here is the message the group is pushing:
On February 9th, the Penn State Forum Speaker’s Series is featuring Professor Michael Mann in a speech regarding global warming. This is the same professor who is at the center of the ‘Climategate’ controversy for allegedly manipulating scientific data to align with his extreme political views on global warming.
Join us in calling on the administrators of Penn State to end its support of Michael Mann and his radical agenda.
Now let me be the first to say that I don’t respect Dr. Michael Mann nor do I respect his paleoclimatic work, which I consider to be borderline fraudulent, as do many others. Others have even stronger opinions about the work, especially about the long maligned “hockey stick” and all of its problems.
And, in reading through the Climategate emails, we can see examples where Dr. Mann himself tries to stifle debate. From Tom Nelson:
Email 1335, Nov 2005, Michael “Robust Debate” Mann on the prospect of attending a workshop also attended by a guy who disagrees with him: “If Zorita is in, I am out!’
cc: Phil Jones
, Keith Briffa , Heinz Wanner date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 10:26:33 -0500 from: “Michael E. Mann” subject: Re: Workshop: Participants/ 1. Circular to: Christoph Kull
Can I please have an explanation of what happened here???? You sent out a list yesterday of partipipants that we had all agreed upon. Today, you sent out emails to a DIFFERENT list, inviting an additional participant (Zorita) who we SPECIFICALLY DISCUSSED and decided (as I understood it) would not be invited because of personality conflict issues. At the very least, this needed further discussion, not unilateral overruling without notice.
I’d like an explanation of what happened here. I do not believe that this event will be constructive and amicable with Zorita’s participation. If the recommendaitons of the organizers are not going to be followed, I am unsure I can participate in or endorse this event. If Zorita is in, I am out!
We simply will not allow you to withdraw . You know perfectly well that you are too important in all this to take such action. If it requires my talking to Eduardo and getting him to withdraw , then so be it.
Of course, skeptics are the complete opposite of Dr. Mann, we wish to engage debate where he does not. He wants to be the only voice in the room.
Therefore, I think the approach of choosecommonsense.org is absolutely wrong. They shouldn’t be trying to muzzle Dr. Mann, but instead should be pushing for open debate in our land of free speech. They should be pushing Penn State to allow a point-counterpoint dialog in the Penn State Forum Speaker Series instead of trying to muzzle him.
Dr. Mann himself supports “robust debate” when he’s tweeting to his friends:
Though, I suspect that if presented with an open debate in the Penn State Forum Speaker Series, Dr. Mann would say “…if so and so is in, I am OUT!”.