Mike's Amazon Trick

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:

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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 😉

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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:

February 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm

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:

jaymam says:

February 8, 2012 at 9:29 pm

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:

manicbeancountersays:

February 8, 2012 at 12:31 pm

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:

Promotional content:

  • 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:

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Brian

MannCookWorld? Is that something similar to ManBearPig?

SandyInLimousin

Nothing new, crime fiction it’s do your own reviews of your book and attack other peoples. That got past Amazon too.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2197294/The-author-caught-praising-books-Amazon–writing-disparaging-reviews-rivals-works.html?oo=0

Jake

NYTimes actually had an article in their books section about a “reviewer for hire”.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/business/book-reviewers-for-hire-meet-a-demand-for-online-raves.html

Louise

I found out about Dr Mann’s book here at WUWT. I then bought a kindle version and read it that same weekend before posting my own review influenced by nothing other than my reading of the book.
Looking at the reviews, it is quite clear that a number of the one star reviews were written by people who had obviously not read the book.
REPLY: No doubt, there’s also a number of orchestrated positive reviews, as clearly illustrated by the article. The point that you purposely miss is that Mann and Cook made an orchestrated and proven effort to get positive reviews, in violation of Amazon policy. WUWT simply made an off the cuff mention.
– Anthony

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Mike’s Nature Trick…
Mike’s Amazon Trick…
Well at least he’s not a one-trick pony’s arse.
(He’s been known to drop a load while Twittering and walk away from it, so it’s a fair comparison.)

Gary

Hey, this techniques for “peer review” so why not stuff the Amazon ballot box?

mfo

As the assumption is that Mann expected his pals to write reviews biased in favour of the book it could be argued that people were being induced to buy it under false pretences. Is there a name for such behaviour?
Naturally his pals wouldn’t wish to dwell on the complete annihilation of Mann’s hockey stick by McIntyre and McKitrick and the very the very clear and readable debunking of the hockey stick in Montford’s ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’.

Peter Miller

Well you can’t blame Mann.
If you were infamous and had written a tedious book full of slurs, distortions and tortured facts that nobody in his right mind would want to read, wouldn’t you do the same thing?

Heggs

Ah ha !! Thank you sir, you’ve answered a question I had asked re Sks/John Cook a long time ago on WUWTs facebook page.

Tim Walker

Really now, you can’t expect him and the team to play by the rules. All is fair in love and war. They do love making money as they make war on science.

NikFromNYC

The local yoga studio on 104th had such sadistic entry level instructors that I finally trudged down to the now defunct “Children of Light” way down in the 90s. I got a schedule and never did show up since it turned out to be a biblical doomsday cult on which Saturdays the archangel Gabiel spoke through the medium of the owner. This was a humorous story to tell on dates since the naughty idea of figuring out if it was true belief or profitable corruption at work naturally came up. Watching this story unfold fulfills that fantasy.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

From mfo on September 7, 2012 at 11:01 am:

Naturally his pals wouldn’t wish to dwell on the complete annihilation of Mann’s hockey stick by McIntyre and McKitrick and the very the very clear and readable debunking of the hockey stick in Montford’s ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’.

Mc and Mc must have slipped Mike a Mickey, he has yet to word a coherent logical rebuttal.
As for the other guy you mention, aren’t there still people arguing that Montford of Beachley can’t be in the House of Lords?

sorepaw

Books on controversial subjects often get reviews at Amazon that appear to have been planted or orchestrated.
There isn’t much that Amazon can do about these, as proof of orchestration is hard to come up with it.
Here’s a case where proof is available.

Elizabeth

Looks like Jo anne nova is being hacked again i got a 403 forbidden wTF?

archaeopteryx

[snip -off topic]

mfo

@kadaka (KD Knoebel)
Montford of Beachley or even Monckton of Brenchley :o)

Mann is an expert at manipulation.

rw

At least they’re serious about doing Postnormal Science.

Slabadang

Well!
M Mann is caught again and again, a cheating, conspiring coward; fraudalent, manipulative, stonewalling, name calling, he’s just a pathetic sorry exuse of a scientist and a disgrace to science. He’s a walking train wreck.

Berényi Péter

Did Mann share the profits with Cook or was he greedy?

chris y

Mann Cooks the Books.

KnR

What an ego Mann’s got . even when people are prising him , he still feels the need to lecture them on how they should be prising him and moaning there not doing it enough .

Kev-in-Uk

All I can say is that I wish that likes of Mann and Cook reap the lies they have sown, multiplied by a few zillion times. The depths that these people will stoop clearly knows no bounds…..

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

From mfo on September 7, 2012 at 11:48 am:

Montford of Beachley or even Monckton of Brenchley :o)

Don’t forget Monkford of Benchley. Seems like a rather erudite and sensible chap, given the alarmist’s complaints about his being such an ignorant buffoon. 😉

Well, they are very good at propaganda, infowar etc etc …
http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2012/09/07/an-assessment-of-current-alarmist-propaganda/
Pointman

mfo

@kadaka (KD Knoebel) September 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm
That’s funny. Nearly spilt me coffee.

22acaciaavenue

“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!”

Mikey Mann, you are loathsome, despicable propagandist, a fraud by definition and admission, and are now will to engage in conspiracies. Are your parents really proud of you?
(NB: I don’t know if his parents are still with us because for some reason they are not mentioned in his Wikipedia page.)
IMHO that email to Cook explains exactly why he is fighting to keep the UVA emails under wraps.

Nice article that’s well-done in terms of presenting the information in a timeline. I dropped a link to that article in Mann’s FB page. We’ll see how long that lasts. 😉

jonny old boy

just pop over to Mann’s Facebook page and you will see all you need to know. A ego-maniac manipulator with a following of sheep, many of whom have been told to post amazon reviews and in fact did exactly as they were told !!

Kevin Kilty

I’ve observed how administrators rally around one of their herd that is in danger. Among the usual responses are:
1) Organizing an “award” of some kind. Usually the award is from an organization where they have an inside track on the giving of awards. The award is to say “See how valuable and respected this person is?”
2) Producing an enormous mass of work that this person has done. “See how productive this person is?” This may include work actually done by others.
3) Soliciting a tiresome litany of testimonials to the value of this person from other famous persons. “This person is part of a large and powerful group!”
All very predictable, even if you only understand the behavior of gazelles.

Kevin Kilty

Slabadang says:
September 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm
Well!
M Mann is caught again and again, a cheating, conspiring coward; fraudalent, manipulative, stonewalling, name calling, he’s just a pathetic sorry exuse of a scientist and a disgrace to science. He’s a walking train wreck.

He’s got the makings of a university administrator.

ATheoK

Sure looks like more evidence to be used by the defendents in Manniacal boy’s suits. When one is dishonest in nature, there is a strong tendency to be dishonest in all.
Definitely an egomanniac supreme.

Kevin Kilty

Hello MOD. Did one of my posts enter the gates of purgatory?

Ally E.

Friends? Mann has friends? Are they not annoyed at being told what to think and what to say? Or are they paid to perform? Oh, sorry, of course it’s for the Cause, my mistake.

Tez

You cant blame Mann for following procedures set by the IPCC. He won a nobel peace prize in 2007 on the backof the climate science peer review method.

Tez

Mann comments on latest Amazon review of his book:
“this it the only review this individual has done on amazon, and even the account name is frivolous. so yes, it may very well be part of the orchestrated attack (which Anthony Watts and his minions first initiated in the days that reviews went live). I would encourage anyone who is sane and thoughtful to review the book for Amazon–thanks for any help folks!”

Mann Cooks the Books.
Or:
Mann’s Cook-up: Books Cook to Cook his Book

Richdo

Slabadang says: on September 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm
M Mann is caught again and again, a cheating, conspiring coward; fraudalent, manipulative, stonewalling, name calling, he’s just a pathetic sorry exuse of a scientist and a disgrace to science. He’s a walking train wreck.
——————
Well put.

Gunga Din

mfo says:
September 7, 2012 at 11:01 am
As the assumption is that Mann expected his pals to write reviews biased in favour of the book it could be argued that people were being induced to buy it under false pretences. Is there a name for such behaviour?
=============================================================
Unless I missed something, the initial “reviewers” didn’t even have to buy the book.
(I wonder if a time plot of positive/negative reviews would turn out as a reverse hockey stick?)

Gunga Din

Lucy Skywalker says:
September 7, 2012 at 2:56 pm
Mann Cooks the Books.
Or:
Mann’s Cook-up: Books Cook to Cook his Book
===============================================================
Or:
Cooking Greens the Sleazy Way?
Or:
How to Use Friends and Influence People?

GMFlem

Cook Book by Mann: Recipes for everything and everything has a recipe. Learn to slice, dice and cook from a professional. Speciality – strip bark a la carte and rave reviews!

jorgekafkazar

Kev-in-Uk says: “All I can say is that I wish that likes of Mann and Cook reap the lies they have sown, multiplied by a few zillion times. The depths that these people will stoop clearly knows no bounds…”
So few of them have connected the dots and realized what will happen to them should their political allies succeed creating a new world order, like intellectuals who outlived their usefulness in Stalin’s Russia.

Skiphil

Folks, do not miss this one! A fascinating piece of context for understanding Lewandowsky’s recent puerile incompetent survey is that he is not only strongly biased in the climate wars, he is a sycophantic follower of the Mann himself.
Read Lewandowsky’s “review” of Mann’s book on Amazon, which appeared in the first wave Jan. 29, 2012 (can we determine whether Lewandowsky was one of the pre-publication recipients of the manuscript via JOhn Cook and SKepticalScience ??).
Stephan Lewandowsky reviews Mann’s book “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars”
Some interesting facts about the Lewandowsky review:
1) it is about as fawning toward Mann as any review could be (off the charts groveling), claiming that Mann and his hockeystick “will forever change how humanity views its future.” It is even more gaseous and hyperbolic than most of the other 5-star reviews, which do not all claim world-historical Copernican importance for Mann and his hockeystick.
2) Lewandowsky parrots various climate alarmist tropes without even a hint that he can think critically about anything, ever.
3) This is the ONLY review Lewandowsky has ever posted on Amazon (unless he has done any under a pseudonym or different name). He trots out his fawning propaganda only for Michael Mann.
4) The way the Amazon orders the temporal posting of reviews (if you click on “all reviews”) it appears that Lewandowsky was the SECOND person to post a review! i.e., he was no only hot off the mark but appears to have had prior notice and/or prompting. Jan. 29, 2012.
Stephan Lewandowsky reviews Mann’s book “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars”

Brian H

KnR;
“praising” “they’re”
Maybe he thinks they’re “damning him with faint praise”.
Gunga Din;
They all got free advance secret copies, so their reviews would be “in the holster” ready to go.

David Ball

Has everyone forgotten? The end justifies the means.

Go Home

It appears they are still cooking the books over at Amazon, even today.
There was a new review posted today, 7 Sept 2012 (not me), with one star by HAHA. It is being overwhelmed with “not helpful’ voting.
4 of 31 people found the following review helpful
31 voted today on one review. I don’t think so. It is obvious to me that the team is monitoring for negative reviews and trying to vote them off the island. Compare all the 1 star to 5 star reviews. There is an overwhelming number of people voting on the 1 stars compared to 5 stars with a great majority voting as not . I think the rats are still on board.

“Full disclosure: If you received a free product in exchange for your review, please clearly and conspicuously disclose that you received the product free of charge. Reviews from the Amazon Vine™ program are already labeled, so additional disclosure is not necessary.”

Tom in Texas

To Serve Mann (a cookbook)

cui bono

Mann? Cook? Book? Gotta be:

See also the Simpsons parody.

chris y

Lucy Skywalker says on September 7, 2012 at 2:56 pm
“Mann’s Cook-up: Books Cook to Cook his Book”
Excellent! 🙂