Over at Bishop Hill, there’s an eye opening story by Shub Niggurath about the orchestration of book reviews for Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars using John Cook’s “secret” forum for the climate “in” crowd.
It is a tangled web of reading, but since this is Dr. Stephan Levandowsky’s week to point out conspiracy theories, it seems like a good one to bring to attention. I liked this part:
Starting the previous year December, Cook informed the congregation that he had digital copies of Mann’s book he could send. The purpose was clear:
… I’m anticipating a flood of spam from WUWT as soon as the book is released. If anyone else wants a PDF copy of the galley proofs in order to write a review for Amazon (and can received a 6Mb email attachment), let me know and I’ll email you the PDF…
About a dozen volunteered, requesting copies of the book.
Quickly on its heels, Cook sent out a ’second round’ of copies:
Emailed the second round of SkSers a copy of the book. Any other stragglers, not too late to put in a request (you’ve got till February actually). I’m expecting to see reviews from all of you, btw! :-)
Cook received regular updates from Mann, keeping things on the line:
I’ve been informed that activity on Mike Mann’s upcoming book will begin around Feb … and supposedly the Amazon launch on March 6. So possibly we can start posting reviews on March 6 but who knows, might be earlier. To all SkSers who I emailed a copy of the book, can I suggest you read the book and have your book review ready in the holster by early/mid February ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Come the end of January 2012, there was a change of plans. Mann’s book was coming out earlier. He wrote Cook, asking that his band of reviewers be ‘lined up and ready to go’
it now sounds as if Amazon.com could go live w/ kindle version as soon as Jan 31st, so Amazon reviewers should be lined up and ready to go then if at all possible. WIll provide any further updates when I have more info. My publisher is urging reviewer-writers not to write blog reviews then (they have a later rollout schedule in mind for blog reviews), but it is ok to submit Amazon reviews then—and as we know, it will be important to do this quickly once Amazon opens their reviews to offset efforts of deniers. Again, its (sic) looking like this will be *Jan 31st* and we should operate under that assumption!
Thus orchestrated, Cook’s followers began posting reviews, starting immediately with the book’s release on Amazon.com. Soon, a host of 5-star reviews populated the table. The scale and speed of the operation must have been impressive. As one commenter smugly observed:
Thats a heck of a lot of people who have managed to read the Kindle edition in about 3 hours since it went on sale ;-)
There were claims that I “incited” negative reviews when I announced Mann’s new book, but clearly Mikes’s Amazon Trick had already been in operation inciting positive reviews.
Apparently in MannCookWorld, just simply mentioning the ability to make a review is incitement, I wrote then in Michael Mann’s new book is out:
Mann’s book currently has 15 reviews on Amazon, all five-star, many by his warmist friends. I hope some climate realists eventually review the book as well.
That was the sum total of my input. No orchestration, no reviews “ready in the holster … to go at a moment’s notice”. Just a casual mention that I hope some other people review it. I did purchase it myself, but left no review on Amazon:
Anthony Watts says:
I’ve purchased Mann’s book tonight on Kindle, which was pretty tough to do since I don’t normally pay to read insulting things about myself.
I’ve read portions, made some notes, and maybe tomorrow or the next I’ll have some review comments along with some fair use excerpts. Yes, finally, Dr. Mann has acknowledged my existence and that of WUWT. I’ve gone from “he who must not be named” to “reviled in print with references”.
My first takeaway impression is that Dr. Mann can do no wrong, which seems to be a self image bolstered by an ego so large that surely the State Department of Transportation has to put orange road cones out ahead of him when he travels.
I didn’t leave an Amazon review because I knew it would be immediately deleted:
Negative (i.e. 1 star) reviews by the following people have been deleted:
59 of 86 A. Blue
42 of 71 R. Hooper
35 of 62 Chris B
17 of 32 Peter
The warmists are adding new reviews and getting other warmists to quickly voting for them, to get those at the top (Most Helpful First) order. So if 3 of 4 people like a review, it will be at the top.
Also at that day, manicbeancounter noted Levandowsky’s review:
Stephen Lewandowsky’s 5 star review is revealing.
“This is a partisan book. It does not attempt to be “balanced” by adding a lie to the truth and dividing by two.”
Lewandowsky assumes the essential truth of the hockey stick, and whatever Mann says as gospel. It goes a lot into attacking Congressman Barton, and detailing the support for the hockey stick from academic bodies.
Read it and wonder why 50 out of 69 people found this helpful.
The Amazon book review policy seems pretty clear:
What’s not allowed
Amazon is pleased to provide this forum for you to share your opinions on products. While we appreciate your time and comments, we reserve the right to remove reviews that include any of the following:
- Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively
- Sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product (including reviews by publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product)
- Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product. This includes reviews that are a part of a paid publicity package
- Solicitations for helpful votes
I think Mike’s Amazon Trick qualifies for “solicitation of helpful votes”. Perhaps it is time to lodge a complaint with Amazon, though I’m sure even they must be tired of hearing about Dr. Mann in the complaints section by now.
This episode again illustrates the reason why I have a special Blogroll category for SkepticalScience:
* Due to (1) deletion, extension and amending of user comments, and (2) undated post-publication revisions of article contents after significant user commenting.You can read about that episode of Cookbooking here: