Michael Mann the 'reluctant public figure' and 'typewriter expert'

One of the hurdles Michael Mann has to overcome in his lawsuit against NRO/Steyn is the tenet that public figures are expected to have a higher level of tolerance when it comes to ridicule, satire, and defamation. For that reason, because I myself am a public figure in the climate debate, I’d have little success in prosecuting a defamation claim over an article that says I have sex with farm animals (see “corrections” at bottom of linked article).

After Mann’s libel case against the National Review Online and Mark Steyn was filed, he’s recently been whining that he’s a “reluctant public figure“, perhaps to somehow shift the lawsuit in his favor.

Now, thanks to an opinion piece by Mann in the Guardian, he’s pretty much blown his own argument out of the water while managing to make a ridiculous and easily falsifiable claim about typewriter technology in an analogy on “path dependency”. 


Source: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/31/keystone-xl-pipeline-obama-state-department-impact

Here, Mann uses his familiarity with what “the science tells us” to effect change in public and political policy, going even so far as to challenge president Obama:

If the president won’t protect us, who is he protecting?

That challenge pretty much places him in the realm of public debate, and being a “public figure”, even if he claims it was reluctant or involuntary:

A person can become an “involuntary public figure” as the result of publicity, even though that person did not want or invite the public attention. For example, people accused of high profile crimes may be unable to pursue actions for defamation even after their innocence is established…

Source: Aaron Larson: Defamation, Libel and Slander Law. Expertlaw.com, August 2003

Mann often claims he’s been “cleared” of any wrongdoing related to his world famous “hockey stick” in later investigations. So, like “people accused of high profile crimes may be unable to pursue actions for defamation even after their innocence is established” he may be unable to make any viable defamation argument after his hockey stick became a sensation not only for the initial press, but the questions and ridicule that followed.

As a humorous aside, Mann really doesn’t know what he’s talking about with this analogy in the same Guardian article, bold mine:

A classic example is the “qwerty” keyboard layout. Even though this layout may not be the most efficient, it was the first one, and so it became the standard.

The omniscient Dr. Mann, who often positions himself as an expert in everything, botched this example badly. The QWERTY keyboard was not the first keyboard layout, and it was designed on purpose to be inefficient, to prevent a mechanical jam that frustrated early experienced typists:

The first model constructed by Sholes [4]used a piano-like keyboard with two rows of characters arranged alphabetically as follows:

- 3 5 7 9 N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
2 4 6 8 . A B C D E F G H I J K L M

The construction of the “Type Writer” had two flaws that made the product susceptible to jams. Firstly, characters were mounted on metal arms or typebars, which would clash and jam if neighboring arms were pressed at the same time or in rapid succession.[1] Secondly, its printing point was located beneath the paper carriage, invisible to the operator, a so-called “up-stroke” design. Consequently, jams were especially serious, because the typist could only discover the mishap by raising the carriage to inspect what he had typed. The solution was to place commonly used letter-pairs (like “th” or “st”) so that their typebars were not neighboring, avoiding jams. Contrary to popular belief,[2] the QWERTY layout was not designed to slow the typist down,[3] but rather to speed up typing by preventing jams.

  1. Rehr, Darryl, Why QWERTY was Invented
  2. http://www.maltron.com/media/lillian_kditee_001.pdf
  3. http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/221/was-the-qwerty-keyboard-purposely-designed-to-slow-typists “…at least one study indicates that placing commonly used keys far apart, as with the QWERTY, actually speeds typing, since you frequently alternate hands”
  4. US 79868, Sholes, C. Latham; Carlos Glidden & Samuel W. Soule, “Improvement in Type-writing Machines”, patent issued July 14, 1868

A few seconds with Google and Wikipedia as I did to verify what I believed I knew, would have helped him avoid this silly blunder, but he comes across almost always so full sure of himself, he probably thought he didn’t need to.

Dr. Mann now can add “failed typewriter expert” to his long list of curriculum vitae claims, along with being a “reluctant public figure” and Nobel Prize Winner.

h/t to Barry Woods for the Guardian link

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February 1, 2014 2:09 pm

Perhaps ‘Querty’ could enter the lexicon to denote a dumbass…?

February 1, 2014 2:15 pm

More on the story of competing keyboard layouts.
Guess who ran the trials indicating that the Dvorak layout was more efficient?

February 1, 2014 2:16 pm

I suspect that with the keyboard analogy he’s falling into the same trap that he does with his climate assertions – anything before computers (such as typewriters or historical accounts of really nasty weather) doesn’t count.

Steven Devijver
February 1, 2014 2:17 pm

would have helped him avoid this silly blunder

The Mann doesn’t make silly blunders because he’s a genius, consider yourself corrected.

February 1, 2014 2:18 pm

And the typists and reporters at the Guardian didn’t know that? What do they have in their heads? No, no, don’t answer that – I think I can figure it out…

February 1, 2014 2:19 pm

One of the words that can be typed on the top row of letters is “typewriter”! Sort of a 19th century “Easter egg.” 🙂
On the Dvorak keyboard, “sentient ” is on the middle row with a lot of alternating hands. Hmm, sentient on qwerty is all left hand except for “n”.
I tried using Dvorak for a while, but as a programmer I’m often typing variable names that don’t have many vowels and moving control keys around made little sense with editors that used locations of key groups, so I abandoned it.

February 1, 2014 2:19 pm

Anthony, I have always respected you for being an advocate for science. Which ever direction the truth takes you, so be it. The problem I have with Mann is that he seems to bend things to his ideology, and advocate for government and public policy change over science. I have read some of his works like the article in the Guardian. It seems to focus on insulting political opponents instead of explaining science. He is no victim in the case with Steyn. He stepped into the ring with gloves on, but unprepared for the beating he received. Now he wants his pound of flesh via the courts.

February 1, 2014 2:20 pm

Expecting Mann to use real facts is like expected a fish to be interested in shopping for shoes , rather amusing to think about but a total waste of time,

February 1, 2014 2:21 pm


February 1, 2014 2:24 pm

Just remember that if the Mann could rebut Steyn and NRO, he would not have had to resort to filing suit against them

February 1, 2014 2:27 pm

Looks like the last efforts of the upgrade machine trashing in the molten medal in Terminator 2 Judgment Day.

February 1, 2014 2:32 pm

If anyone is interested in why public figures have to prove malice in a defamation suit, the relevant case is called New York Times V Sullivan.
Also in a case like this the legal fees run into the millions, which is a killer on a for-profit business. Many a settlement of a bogus case comes from avoiding the hits to cash flow of the costs of taking a case to trial.

M Courtney
February 1, 2014 2:37 pm

Mann uses his credibility as a public figure?
Oh dear.
“Mistakes were made…”

Sal Minella
February 1, 2014 2:38 pm

Your argument pwned Mann’s.

February 1, 2014 2:39 pm

Jeez, Anthony, I clicked on the link to webcitation.org to see what barnyard-animal accusations had been made, and now I feel the need for an intense bath!!
Calling them tripe would be too kind. “Bottom-feeding scum-suckers” more appropriate.
Soldier-on in Chico. We are winning the debate.

Mark G.
February 1, 2014 2:41 pm

Aren’t Nobel Laureates automatically elevated to the the status of ‘public figure’? If Mann was so reluctant to become a public figure, he should have thought twice about his self-professed and bogus claim to be a Nobel prize recipient.

February 1, 2014 2:42 pm

What an irksome twit that Mann is.

February 1, 2014 2:46 pm

“Involuntary public figure” my arse.
Michael Mann has made many persistent, overt acts in public view, to grab public attention and implicitly usurp everybody’s rights. He repeatedly makes public statements that self aggrandize himself and attack not merely critics, but potentially the majority of the population itself.
Many technically minded outsiders consider Michael Mann’s method of argumentation ad hominem based on aphysical, innumerate bs. IMHO, MM should be labeled a domestic terrorist. He appears to be an American citizen, so domestic rather than foreign. He appears to attempt to literally terrorize the population with spurious catastrophism to achieve political ends that are anathema both American tradition and self interest.
With Mann, one wonders where domineering hyperbole crosses over to pathological.

February 1, 2014 2:47 pm

I notice that Mikey doesn’t provide any details on why he thinks the Keystone pipeline has anything to do with emissions. Pipelines are simply pipes that transport liquids, in this case oil.
And use less energy and certainly are responsible for fewer emisssions than the alternative means that would be used shipping the oil to China. Mann doesn’t have a case

Michael D
February 1, 2014 2:48 pm

The above link lists your connection to the public teat as your blog’s Cookie Jar ??? And their biggest criticism of you is that you backed off on some assertions that you made? What a sad and pathetic attempt to defame you.
You are doing good work Anthony. Thanks.

February 1, 2014 2:51 pm

Michael Mann needs to score a fun house mirror off e-bay and use it, he would get a better self image of himself.
Mann telling Obama what to do and or Obama telling Mann what to do is an reverse inverse mirror projection in the [darki].

February 1, 2014 2:51 pm


February 1, 2014 2:51 pm

PS. When the dust eventually settles, I think Mann will have done far more damage to Penn State and real living breathing persons in aggregate than Jerry Sandusky.

February 1, 2014 2:55 pm

Maurice Strawn/James Baker/William Ruckelhouse/George H.W. Bush/Al Gore
U.N./CO2 Fraud/Climate Fraud/Greed

Joseph W.
February 1, 2014 2:55 pm

I believe the premier paper on QWERTY vs. Dvorak was “The Fable of the Keys” in the Journal of Law and Economics, vol. 33, no. 1, p. 1 (1990). (I read it a long time ago in a law library but I don’t see a free copy online.) If you google “Fable of the Keys Twenty Years On” you can find a free follow-up from the authors on their paper and the debate around it since then.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
February 1, 2014 2:57 pm

From Ric Werme on February 1, 2014 at 2:19 pm:

One of the words that can be typed on the top row of letters is “typewriter”! Sort of a 19th century “Easter egg.” 🙂

That’s a “queer property”.

I tried using Dvorak for a while, but as a programmer I’m often typing variable names that don’t have many vowels and moving control keys around made little sense with editors that used locations of key groups, so I abandoned it.

Somewhere around here is my first real computer, an Apple IIc. Too bad I doubt the built-in 5-1/4 drive can still load off the original O/S disks. It has an actual push button switch above the built-in keyboard to switch between QWERTY and DVORAK. I also had a small tool that lifts the key caps right off so you can put them in the correct order when you switch.
I wonder who else copied such a great Apple innovation.

February 1, 2014 2:57 pm

Climate alarmist are not any different than the old “crazies”, with a sandwich board, proclaiming that the end is near! To pay them any mind, is just a waste of time!

February 1, 2014 3:00 pm

I think the fact that Mann and his “research” has had such an impact on public policy and the beliefs of common people shows that “science” is truly not to ever be trusted. We must ever be the skeptic and demand overwhelming evidence for whatever new thing that scientists claim they have found. If “Dr.” Mann claimed the sun rose in the east and set in the west I would not believe it until I could get up at dawn to observe for myself.
I am still in hopes that the discovery process will bring interesting things to light.

February 1, 2014 3:03 pm

Mr. Mann needs to read up on some issues that makes his “position on the Keystone XL pipeline” COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT.
Michael Mann is not a “reluctant public figure“ but an “activist public midget”.

February 1, 2014 3:08 pm

If Michael Mann wants to see more co2 output then let us hope he is successful in blocking the Keystone XL pipeline. Ships to China with oil, railroads are still here dontcha know. As long as Canada wants to sell the oil it will. There are no shortage of buyers, it will just have to emit more co2 to get to the demanding customers.

Berényi Péter
February 1, 2014 3:08 pm

If nothing else, publishing The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines made him a “public figure” and not a particularly reluctant one at that.

February 1, 2014 3:11 pm

By the way I should add that co2 reduction is not their main aim. Their main aim is the DE-INDUSTRIALIZATION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. If you can’t see this now no problem for me, I don’t live in the USA, maybe you will see it one day.

February 1, 2014 3:16 pm

De-Powering the U.S.A.

Alan Robertson
February 1, 2014 3:16 pm

“State pen, not Penn State”
it’s a dirty job…

February 1, 2014 3:24 pm

February 1, 2014 3:25 pm

One of the questions is who is paying Michael Mann’s legal bills.
I think that would make for an interesting story.
It is clear he is not paying for this using his own personal funds. Perhaps some is pro bono and some is described as pro bono with someone else secretly footing the bill but it might make for interesting tie-ins.

M Courtney
February 1, 2014 3:29 pm

Mark G. says at February 1, 2014 at 2:41 pm…
Legally that seems very useful.
If I were a lawyer I would use that.

February 1, 2014 3:31 pm

It is very smart for the guardian to put “jump to comments” at the very beginning of Michael E. Mann’s articles.

nutso fasst
February 1, 2014 3:34 pm

Thanks to Sam Grove for the link to an interesting article:
Apparently, the QWERTY myth is a morality tale for proponents of a centrally-planned economy.

February 1, 2014 3:34 pm

Public figure? Mann gave a talk at James Randi’s The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas, in 2013.
On Saturday July 13 Mann spoke about a book he had written . Other talks that day included, ‘the incompatibility of science and religion’, ‘credulity and its consequences’, ‘looking into the mind of true believers’, ‘credit the conman’ and ‘fighting the fakers’. The day concluded with an evening show called ‘magic, mayhem and mentalism’.

February 1, 2014 3:45 pm

I once wrote some software to test the theory that Dvorak keyboard layouts were faster than Qwerty. I used weighted values for keys based on factors such as being on the home row or not, which finger was required, even capitalizing was taken into consideration.
I then took random text passages from the internet and ran the comparisons. My admittedly crude experiment showed that indeed Dvorak was close to the claimed 10% faster system.
I wanted to take this experiment further by improving the weighting factors, perhaps even coding the physics of the hand, but alas I had a rare triple point of failure due to a combination of using soft raid, too poorly ventilated hard drives and something else that I seemed to have blanked from my memory, and I lost billions.. of bits that day, including most of the code I had written for everything I had ever coded, and I have moved on… to climate science research.

February 1, 2014 3:46 pm

If the Guardian told me that cloudless daytime sky was blue and grass was green, I would look outside to check. It has the most self serving, self obsessed and deluded journalists, so Mann fits in quite well. The only surprise about his article is that he knows that a standard keyboard is qwerty, whether he has worked out that characters in a keyboard are different depending on where in the world you are actually typing, is probably debatable!

February 1, 2014 3:49 pm

Crikey! Now look what you’ve done. You’ve libeled his typewriter expertise!

Clay Marley
February 1, 2014 3:55 pm

Sam Grove says:
More on the story of competing keyboard layouts.
Guess who ran the trials indicating that the Dvorak layout was more efficient?
Great link Sam. The conclusion of the article states:

Apparently the theory of path dependence and lock-in to inferior technologies is in trouble without the QWERTY example. Apparently the cost of giving up this example is greater than the discomfort associated with its illegitimate use. Apparently the typewriter example is of such importance to many writers because it can so easily persuade people that an interventionist technology policy is necessary.

The false history of the QUERTY keyboard is an example used to promote the theory of “Path Dependence”, which basically states consumers are poor at choosing superior products. It is an argument against the free market economy. I suppose some group of elite government experts in a citadel somewhere should decide for us what products to buy.
I was surprised by the many examples in progressive literature that rely on the QUERTY example to prop up government intervention. Even though the real history of the QUERTY keyboard is known, documented and published, supporters of interventionist government like Paul Krugman continue to use rewritten history to promote their ideology.
It really is much the same as GAGW, a false theory used to promote government intervention. Regardless of the scientific evidence, CAGW will continue to be used until the cost of giving up the theory is greater than the moral discomfort in using it.

David L. Hagen
February 1, 2014 3:58 pm
February 1, 2014 4:00 pm

It is so hard to decide which mistake is President Obama’s biggest. Dr. Mann’s coming out as anti Keystone puts him firmly in the kook corner. But he gets to hang out with Hollywood kooks. And that is more fun than the academic milieu that is probably getting very used to Dr. Mann’s obvious social skills.
And being on stage with lefty political figures, where gets to tell his tale of Koch brother funded anti-science conspiracies. And give up all pretense of not being a public figure. As to Dr. Mann being onstage with illusionists, I think that is the perfect venue for him, and suggest he talk to a Las Vegas booking agent for a new way to communicate his special contributions to science even more effectively. And make even more money to boot!

February 1, 2014 4:05 pm

I once learned the Dvorak keyboard layout and could type without looking at the keys, though that wouldn’t do much good because the keys were labeled with the qwerty layout (you can change the layout in settings of the operating system).
Today I couldn’t tell you were one single key is on the Dvorak layout, but I do remember that the vowels are on the home row.
Back in high school in the 1970’s, I once hit 85 word per minute in a test using a electric type writer.
Back in my high school days, the only reason you would learn to type was if you planned on being a secretary or if you planned to go on to university, and you would be writing a lot of essay’s. My how the world has changed.

February 1, 2014 4:10 pm

Lots of assertions based on presumed authority in the article.
No science.

February 1, 2014 4:24 pm

Lindzen didn’t refer specifically to Michael Mann in his testimony before the UK climate committee this Tuesday,, but I don’t think anyone who has followed his (Mann’s) trajectory could avoid it…

Steve from Rockwood
February 1, 2014 4:28 pm

Scientists should be given the freedom to pursue their scientific research without public or government interference (with a few exceptions). But when they step out of the lab and into public policy they are fair game. Mann has stepped out even farther onto the highway. He publicly criticised his President on policy.
One quibble. The QWERTY keyboard wasn’t “designed” to be inefficient. It was designed to allow typewriters to work by moving the most often used letters away from each other to reduce jamming. This may have resulted in a less efficient design by words per minute but resulted in a much more reliable typewriter. Competitions (in typing words per minute) have shown it is not as inefficient as one would think.

Richard D
February 1, 2014 4:41 pm
February 1, 2014 4:41 pm

MM and the qwerty story makes one wonder what other studies, theories or “settled science” is so much bovine excrement.

February 1, 2014 4:42 pm

In Mikes world up is down and left is right. His off the wall, blue-sky thinking is just the physical manifestation of the similarity of intellect that propelled Einstein from a lowly patent officer to one of the most revered and recognizable public figures of the twentieth century.
Forget Dvorak and Qwerty, this is the Age of Garbage Muzak, Ytrewq, Tiljander and DendroThermometric cybernetics with a sprinkling of what Steve McIntyre admiringly coined as Mannian Mathematics.
A huge step for us is but a barely noticeable, toe-twitch for Dr Mann .
His ability to shrug off the well-funded, vitriolic and anti-science attacks by the forces of darkness is legendary even by his own high standards. I, an ordinary mortal, can barely comprehend how thick-skinned and impervious to criticism he has proven to be. And all on his own miserable, academic stipend-funded dime, too!
If I was Obama, whom I believe has no PhD after his name but only the suffix POTUS, whatever that stands for, I would be quaking in my boots that the eye of SourOne was fixed disapprovingly on my miserable hide – never mind the alkaline tears of the Great Bill McWeeper himself in the chorus.
Yes, Mark Steyn, him of the same racial ethnicity as Donna L and the hitherto mentioned Gadfly, StMc, may claim that St Michael is a public figure and is fair game for their clever play on words thus rendering his necessary defence of his Noble, Nobel nature, moot.
I have every faith in the US legal system and know that DC will do the Right things, right.!
It might take every penny of someone else’s money but free speech is unimportant and must be attacked whenever libertarians attack those few principles which are left to us.
If I’ve offended anyone then I’m sorry so let me apologise, in my heavy-handed way by saying sorry in 21st Century new speak.
(is that correct?)

February 1, 2014 4:43 pm

Mann is a public figure. And he has both abused and overstayed his 15 minutes.

February 1, 2014 4:45 pm

PS-I’m a plumber

Steve from Rockwood
February 1, 2014 4:54 pm

garymount says:
February 1, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Back in high school in the 1970′s, I once hit 85 word per minute in a test using a electric type writer.
Back in my high school days, the only reason you would learn to type was if you planned on being a secretary or if you planned to go on to university, and you would be writing a lot of essay’s. My how the world has changed.

In 1976 my good friend Richard elected to take typing in high school. We joked that he was just looking for a girlfriend. He countered that computers were coming and the keyboard was the future. We all laughed.
In 1981 I visited my friend at Waterloo University where he was studying computer science. “I told you” he said “that I wasn’t looking for a girlfriend. Computers are the future. Take my advice and learn how to program”. A few hours later his girlfriend showed up. “Hey” I said. “Wasn’t she in your typing class?”
I took his advice and learned a number of programming languages and by 1987 was developing and selling scientific software to Canadian universities – hunting and pecking my way on the keyboard line by line.

February 1, 2014 5:02 pm

kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
February 1, 2014 at 2:57 pm

From Ric Werme on February 1, 2014 at 2:19 pm:
One of the words that can be typed on the top row of letters is “typewriter”! Sort of a 19th century “Easter egg.” 🙂
That’s a “queer property”.

We’ll have to add those to the “queue.” “Power up!”
If we let cause and effect go bad, then Mad magazine’s “poiuyt” (what some
others call a three pronged blivet) would count too.

February 1, 2014 5:12 pm

Probably his time with the magicians was to learn how to hide the decline and make the
MWP, Roman Optimum, and other previous warm periods disappear….
Funding? Probably big oil, aka Soros or Buffet…

Mark Nutley
February 1, 2014 5:13 pm

Dunno if anyone has clicked on this yet but Mann says he is a “reluctant public figure”, hence he is one. Steyn win. ~~~~

February 1, 2014 5:17 pm

This May 3, 2013 Smithsonian article says that it was the telegraph (Morse code) operators who asked for the QWERTY keyboard change, and cites a 2011 paper by Kyoto University Researchers Koichi Yasuoka and Motoko Yasuoka (On the Prehistory of QWERTY) who investigated the matter.

February 1, 2014 5:27 pm

The layout was first in the sense of being the most popular at the time the US was shifting from mechanical typewriters to electronic typewriters to PCs ? So the computer people chose to conform rather than create an inconvenience for customers ?

February 1, 2014 5:38 pm

Reluctant public figure, yet quite happy to sue anyone and everyone at the drop of a hat and more than happy to write crappy articles in national newspapers.
I’m guessing that his keyboard is missing the letters I,R,O,N and Y.

February 1, 2014 5:41 pm
February 1, 2014 5:45 pm

He could get out of it easily, by saying more recent data suggests that the variables in the warming are now different, and it appears the planet is cooling overall, except the Gobi desert.
He’s a wanker, and deserves everything he gets. Talk about egotism gone crazy, he has lost all credibility or will in the academic world, and so be it.

February 1, 2014 5:48 pm

There is a very interesting legal question here. Mann sought publicity in many ways. But lets set that aside and just focus one aspect. Mann claimed on many occasions to be a Nobel Prize winner. Many people believed that he was a Nobel Prize winner, after all, he seems like an earnest fellow and Nobel laureate are men of unquestionable integrity so who, in their right mind, would challenge the truthiness on a Nobelist. But did this claim, how ever false, make Mann a Public Figure.
Imagine that I claimed to have been the Pope of the Catholic Church between the years 1996 and 2003. Popes don’t lie and therefore journalist (particularly at NPR and the BBC) believed my claim without question. As a result of my claim, I was invited onto news broadcasts to talk about my life in the Vatican and these appearances made me a celebrity. Later, it turns out that my claim of being a Pope was … hmm, what’s the word I’m looking for … fraudulent. Obviously the Pope is a public figure. And on the surface, someone who merely claims to be a Pope is not a public figure. But, if my false assertion of being a Pope was believed by a large number of people and that assertion helped me to become a celebrity, then It would seem that I could not claim that I was reluctant in perusing celebrity. My false claim would invalidate the assertion of reluctance.

Tom J
February 1, 2014 5:51 pm

Bill Illis
February 1, 2014 at 3:25 pm
‘One of the questions is who is paying Michael Mann’s legal bills.’
I would suspect the law firm works on contingency. If Mann doesn’t win he pays nothing to the firm. If he does win the law firm representing him takes one quarter to one third of the final settlement. The law firm, therefore, takes the case because they have a fairly high expectation of winning and they expect the defendant to have deep pockets. Or, it’s a high profile case that may be beneficial in securing clients in the future.
My information may be a bit rusty on all of this though. I do think the tort system in the US is somewhat unfair to the defendant and also to the little people. Law firms routinely reject legitimate cases if not a lot of money is involved since not a lot of money is, well, not a lot of money. So, a little person, on personal damages, is oftentimes unlikely to get representation. In this situation the case against Mark Steyn certainly does not seem compelling, yet he has fairly deep pockets so a law firm, on contingency, can expect a fairly large payout if they win. The defendant, in this case Steyn, have to shoulder their defense costs on their own. You can rest assured, if Michael Mann had to reimburse Steyn’s defense costs if Mikey loses, he would not proceed with this case.
I’m quite open to correction on any of what I’ve written.

February 1, 2014 5:52 pm

Michael Mann destroys his claim that he does not consider himself a public figure with his first sentence:
“I have made my position on the Keystone XL pipeline quite clear.”
No introduction of himself, no need to say he is a “climate scientist”, that he “shared the Nobel Prize”, that he created an iconic graph; he takes it for granted that the readers understand that he is the eminent Dr. Mann, and he is speaking from authority.
(Doesn’t that opening statement sound like something your parents might have said when you were a rebellious teenager?)
A pompous opening to say the least!

Gary Pearse
February 1, 2014 6:11 pm

Mann’s Qwerty blunder is revealing in another way. A teenager, lacking experience in the world, is forced to argue using a priori reasoning – one that doesn’t need science (empirical knowledge). A bright teenager can get a lot of mileage out of a priori argument, analogy, and the like, but, where the argument is pressed in an empirical direction, he has to get creative and “reason” out, as best he can what the empirical “must be”. If the arguer is full of himself, he tends to feel confident in this dangerous area. Not knowing the background for QWERTY, Mann makes an assumption that the inventor of the typewriter was basically clueless about “wise layout”. This is tranference – he would have been clueless about wise keyboard layout. As a real scientific researcher with the care and attention that that appellation is supposed to subsume, he should have “researched” the Qwerty answer and not let hubris give him this knowledge. Sloppiness here makes for sloppiness there.

February 1, 2014 6:42 pm

Mann’s Penn State website profile page has a link to a whole other page dedicated to himself IN THE NEWS. He was not reluctant to point that out.

February 1, 2014 6:45 pm

I will refrain from making fun of Anthony because the (in)justice system is random, and I choose not to subject myself to a system founded on corruption. Never forget, the judge and prosecutor work for the same organization. For every law, there’s a counter-law. For every reasonable argument, there’s an emotional counter-argument. For every concern for justice, there is an overwhelming incentive for conviction by the state employees who control the process.

Gail Combs
February 1, 2014 6:52 pm

ba says: @ February 1, 2014 at 2:51 pm
.. When the dust eventually settles, I think Mann will have done far more damage to Penn State and real living breathing persons in aggregate than Jerry Sandusky.
You can start with the UK and 30000 excess winter deaths in 2013 due to fuel poverty.
Mikey’s latest in the the Guardian shows he is partly responsible.

February 1, 2014 6:53 pm

i’m typing this on an azerty
not sure whether it’s english, french, belgian or swiss
où est le shift key?

André van Delft
February 1, 2014 6:59 pm

More OT on keyboards:
In 1935 Marius den Outer invented a mechanical chord keyboard, named Tachotype; and another improved version named Velotype in 1938.
Thereafter Den Outer and linguist Nico Berkelmans made further improvements based on frequencies of letter combinations in words.
Den Outer and my parents became close friends. In the years around 1970 a prototype of Velotype (he called it “Outertype”, then) was stored in my parental house. It was a wooden dummy box with buttons on metal pins that rebounded on foam plastic; Den Outer demonstrated a few times to me (a young boy then) how I would be able one day to type words with this. In the 1980s an electronic version came into production, but it was commercially a flop.
Since 2011 there is a new attempt to commercialize Velotype. I fear the price tag is too high (at least for me).
Here you see this new Velotype in action.
Here an old version in use for subtitling the evening news.
The Dutch Wikipedia page on Velotype (use Google Translation; it will be better than the English wiki page)
Some other text in Dutch and photographs
Some text in English
US Patent 1946
US Patent 1986

Gail Combs
February 1, 2014 7:00 pm

Jimbo says: @ February 1, 2014 at 3:11 pm
With John Holdern as Obama’s ‘Science Czar’ it is kind of hard to miss. See it is the smaller lump over there to the left where the MSM and Obama is trying to hide everything else. IMAGE

February 1, 2014 7:02 pm

Looking forward to Mann bankrupting National Review et al.!

February 1, 2014 7:26 pm

Sam Grove says: “More on the story of competing keyboard layouts. Guess who ran the trials indicating that the Dvorak layout was more efficient?”
From the above link: “Even worse, there is clear evidence that the results were altered through a series of inappropriate data manipulations…The report states that, because three typists in the QWERTY group had initial net scores of zero words per minute (!), the beginning and ending speeds were calculated as the average of the first four typing tests and the average of the last four typing tests. This has the effect of raising the measured initial typing speed, and lowering the measured ending speed. In contrast, the initial experiment using Dvorak simply used the first and last test scores.”
Sound familiar?

February 1, 2014 7:42 pm

As someone already pointed out, QWERTY wasn’t designed to be deliberately slow. It was designed to let letters that tended to follow each other be at a certain angle to each other (from the resting position). A bigger angle would give the letter that had just hit extra millimetres to bounce back without jamming with the next letter.
A beneficial side-effect of this thinking is that when you type on a QWERTY keyboard, there’ll be a tendency that your hands engage in the pattern left hand, right hand, left hand, right hand etc, which is a rather comfortable way to work and probably speeds typing up a little, compared to if one hand is overworked all the time.

February 1, 2014 7:45 pm

Mann’s story is about the Keystone XL pipeline permission. I commented that they should ask Dana Nutticello (prolific Guardian writer) for insider comments as he works for the company that lost the last bid to build it. “Of course” it got censored.

Timothy Sorenson
February 1, 2014 7:47 pm

To show my age, or rural background: I still remember to this day my middle aged typewrite teacher in 8th grade, telling us that we had to spend at least on class hour typing on a manual as it was good for us to learn where it all began and we would discover ‘jams’. We had just gotten shining new ‘lectric typewriters in our new school.
He explained to us after our day on the manual that the design of the keyboard was for reducing jams.
Also to break ties on the fastest typewriter in class was always done on the manuals.

February 1, 2014 7:50 pm

Unfortunately for Mann, Obama’s remarks during SOTU generally supported alarm. Contradictory remarks aside, this is bad news for Mann and co, because you can pretty much guarantee a politician will simply say something, and then do the exact opposite.
Perhaps Mann’s article will change /or pressure Obama and his aids. One thing is for sure, when your a socialist activist like Obama, your not going to let anything get in the way of progress for the middle and lower classes (the majority of the US), and that means signing the pipeline.

February 1, 2014 7:57 pm

I think that my typewriter is pregnant… I keeps skipping periods

February 1, 2014 9:20 pm

I’ll never win any typing speed competitions, but Dvorak certainly is easier than QWERTY on my arthritic wrist! There is a marked difference in the amount of finger and hand movements between the two layouts. I began using Dvorak about 15 years ago — it took 2 or 3 weeks to learn, and switching back and forth with QWERTY doesn’t seem to be particularly difficult (usually a deep breath does the trick).

Krebs v Carnot
February 1, 2014 9:47 pm

Mann keeps using that word “science”.
I do not think it means what he thinks it means.

Eugene WR Gallun
February 1, 2014 10:07 pm

I am going to keep putting this poem up until Mann decides to sue me also. Come at me little man!!
Also this poem should be read at the trial. Mann is obviously a disgusting humbugger and publicly known as one! Humbugger! Humbugger! Humbugger!
There was a crooked Mann
Who played a crooked trick
And had a crooked plan
To make a crooked stick
By using crooked math
That favored crooked lines
Lysenko’s crooked path
Led through the crooked pines
And all his crooked friends
Applaud what crooked seems
But all that crooked ends
Derives from crooked means
Eugene WR Gallun

February 1, 2014 10:51 pm

Berényi Péter says:
February 1, 2014 at 3:08 pm
If nothing else, publishing “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines” made him a “public figure” and not a particularly reluctant one at that.

This review of the book is excellent:

February 1, 2014 11:39 pm

“If the president won’t protect us, who is he protecting?” The Israelis. That’s his job.

February 1, 2014 11:52 pm

1957chev says:
February 1, 2014 at 2:57 pm
” …Climate alarmist are not any different than the old “crazies”, with a sandwich board, proclaiming that the end is near! …”
I think of them them more as playing the antagonists in Shaun of the Dead – slow-moving and only dangerous in large clusters 🙂

February 2, 2014 12:14 am

I tried the DVORAK layout and liked it a lot. Got to 30 WPM with about 2 hours of practice. My normal QWERTY speed is 50 WPM (I correct all errors during the typing tests so 100% accuracy on both). I liked it a lot because my hands didn’t tire but the real breakthrough for me was the split keyboard from Microsoft. On a normal QWERTY keyboard with the hands bent at the wrist I get tingling fingers after 2 minutes of typing. With the DVORAK it was 5. On the split keyboard with my wrists straight 30+ without a problem. I now have one split keyboard at work and one at home and a few spares.
I’ve seen typing contests with both DVORAK and QWERTY winning so I think it comes down to the dexterity of the individual.
By the way the inventor realized that the QWERTY layout was not required about 16 years after he introduced it and tried to change it to an alphabetical layout to no avail. It is more a lesson in “installed base” and “user preference” than anything else.

February 2, 2014 12:42 am

a ‘keystroke pipe dream’

February 2, 2014 12:47 am

I think a much more serious error is being overlooked. The typewriter thing is amusing but the really substantial mistake is something else. Science cannot tell us what “must” be done. That involves a judgement about social costs vs benefits. Or, if you prefer, which social problems should get priority. Climate scientists per se have no special authority to put global warming ahead of fighting malaria say, or any one of at least a dozen other global problems.

February 2, 2014 12:48 am

Adam says:
February 1, 2014 at 11:39 pm
“If the president won’t protect us, who is he protecting?” The Israelis. That’s his job.

You might want to look into Valerie Jarret.

Stephen Richards
February 2, 2014 1:09 am

Mine is an AZERTY

February 2, 2014 1:35 am

I blame the BIg Keyboard industry for this.

Jaakko Kateenkorva
February 2, 2014 3:30 am

How far can one benefit both from anonymity and publicity? There must be a point of no return somewhere. The question is if Mann crossed it.
In my opinion, yes he did at the point when he volunteered his unfounded hockey-stick to UN/IPCC summary for policy makers. We have politicians to dream up policies. We cannot afford scientists playing that game, however well-intended they may be. Information from scientists should by definition be traceable, verifiable, repeatable and reliable.
Mann is far from being the only willing, loose running scary Gyro Gearloose in politics. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20110103STO11194/html/Professor-Paul-Crutzen-Nobel-winner-and-advocate-of-a-climate-escape-route
Luckily there are good administrative practices to protect the public from the worst. I’m astonished how Pachauri can continue in UN after demonstrating his ignorance of them in so easily understandable, verifiable and public way.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
February 2, 2014 4:29 am

I wonder if any court has taken Twitter, Facebook and blogs into consideration in determining whether an individual is a “public figure” for libel/slander purposes? These days, anyone can have a website, host a blog, have Facebook groupies and Twitter followers. Anyone can make himself a “celebrity”, at least in his own mind.
The fact that anyone can do it weakens the distinction between ordinary (private) citizens and “public figures”. Maybe it would depend on how many friends / followers / hits your social media garnered (and whether they were real or phony)? Or perhaps if one uses social media to behave like real celebrities by discuss one’s sex life, posting pictures of one’s arrests, etc. ?
Interesting questions arise when new technology meets established legal precedent.
Personally, I think anyone who writes books about himself and injects himself into the major public controversies of the day has willingly made himself a public figure. Add in his use of social media and I think it unlikely a court will accept his claim of being a private citizen.

February 2, 2014 5:19 am

This is an interesting concept that mann has injected himself into….”Path Dependence”…….I mean WOW and DOUBLE WOW!!!!
Budding young persons thrown to their own devices at college campuses all over this country get to pick and choose what they study. Path Dependence must certainly play a roll upon their choices, once the have made some. Liberal arts and science students will choose Economics—not in the Business school but in their own building, influenced by the liberal minded professorial ranks those students company with—Business economics anathema to their world.
Thusly, in the buildings that house “climate sciences”, those programs garner repute and cash from claims of planetary death in the absence of their models……and so their “path” is “dependent” upon making dire claims and making good little “eichmans” that will push their cash cow even further.
Path Dependence as associated with early collegiate class choices makes people into who they become, as a result of the associations they make and the biases they create by making choices such as either a Business economics class or a liberal science economics class.

February 2, 2014 8:05 am

Gail Coombes mentioned 30,000 excess deaths in the UK due to fuel poverty. The UK provides a winter fuel allowance for old people. I think last years figures were 23000; back in 2005 it was 29000. Excess winter deaths are due to reasons other than fuel poverty as studies have shown. Southern Europe countries like Portugal have significant excees winter deaths. Countries noted for their winter cold do not.

February 2, 2014 8:47 am

Mr. Mann is a perfect example of “Chicken Little”, and the sky is falling mentality. They are also profoundly disappointed when the sky doesn’t fall.

February 2, 2014 8:51 am

Yes, Mark Steyn, him of the same racial ethnicity as Donna L and the hitherto mentioned Gadfly, StMc . . .

Err . . . “nationality”?

Kevin Kilty
February 2, 2014 9:17 am

Sam Grove says:
February 1, 2014 at 2:15 pm
More on the story of competing keyboard layouts.
Guess who ran the trials indicating that the Dvorak layout was more efficient?

That is a great article. Thanks for the reference. How often do we hunt for the original source only to find that those who cite it have mis-stated its findings, or didn’t read it at all most likely? Often. Scholarship is hard.

February 2, 2014 10:49 am

Of course the Guardian profile for Dr Mann ends with “Follow him @MichaelEMann”.
How can one follow him on Twitter when he apparently blocks anyone who tweets anything against his view of the world, even if it is factual? I wonder if this is more useful evidence in the Steyn trial, Dr Mann seems to have a habit of shutting down discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Gunga Din
February 2, 2014 11:15 am

Michael Mann a “reluctant public figure”? With his ego?
Yeah, right.

F. Hoffmann
February 2, 2014 11:37 am

Mann has good reasons for arguing against the use of oil.
He may get the energy he needs from burning Hockey-Sticks in the near future.

February 2, 2014 11:53 am


“Michael Mann the ‘reluctant public figure’ and ‘typewriter expert’”

Should be
“Michael Mann the ‘reluctant public figure’ and ‘tripe writer’”
You’re welcome

February 2, 2014 12:43 pm

Of course the Guardian not fact checking this is unsurprising. In the neoliberal world of science worship Dr. Mann is a priest. He is right on all things noy just matters of faith.
To the editors of the Guardian Dr. Mann must be correct on the history of the typewriter just as a celebrate priest must be correct on not just matters of faith but issues concerning marriage as well.

Robert Austin
February 2, 2014 12:48 pm

Bill Illis says:
February 1, 2014 at 3:25 pm

One of the questions is who is paying Michael Mann’s legal bills.

Bil, I suppose Mann’s suit might be bankrolled by SuperMandia’s climate science legal defense fund. I am puzzled (NOT!) as to why the SuperMandia fund was not stepping in to aid climate scientist Tim Ball with his legal troubles.

February 2, 2014 1:43 pm

Went to the guardian site and was amazed by how stupid the comments were. Very sad. Also intimidated because if I said anything to point out their errors I am sure I would be berated.

February 2, 2014 2:40 pm

He operates a facebook page, describing himself on that page’s description as:
Public Figure
Michael E. Mann, Climate Scientist; Distinguished Professor, Penn State University; Author of “Dire Predictions” & “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars”
…I wasn’t previously aware that he created that page, and frequently posted to it, against his will.

KRJ Pietersen
February 2, 2014 3:08 pm

It seems clear to me that there are two main reasons why the alarmists are losing the debate about supposed “AGW”. The first is that obviously the science is against them, and it all looks like pretty much a busted flush now. The second is that (mods, please feel free to snip anything that I am about to say unwittingly contravenes policy here) they seem to be such unpleasant people. There’s Mann saying that Curry is anti-science, and his attack dog Nuccitelli who has his weekly angry column in the Guardian. I mean, I wouldn’t buy an insurance policy from Mr Nasty, so why would I buy a public or political policy from him either?

February 2, 2014 3:36 pm

Trev says:
February 2, 2014 at 8:05 am
Gail Coombes mentioned 30,000 excess deaths in the UK due to fuel poverty. The UK provides a winter fuel allowance for old people. I think last years figures were 23000; back in 2005 it was 29000. Excess winter deaths are due to reasons other than fuel poverty as studies have shown. Southern Europe countries like Portugal have significant excees winter deaths. Countries noted for their winter cold do not.

It is my understanding that there was an additional 5000 deaths above what would normally be expected and it is this number that is considered due to fuel poverty.

Chad Wozniak
February 2, 2014 4:51 pm

Jimbo, you are absolutely right – the objectives of the CAGW crowd have nothing to do with CO2 or climate – they are to destroy the American economy, and with it civilization as we know it. CO2 and climate are only the devices they use to get uninformed people to let them do their dirty work.

Gary Pearse
February 2, 2014 5:54 pm

Willard Gibbs says:
February 1, 2014 at 7:02 pm
“Looking forward to Mann bankrupting National Review et al.!”
Comon’ Will, it’s okay for lefties to read righties stuff. You probably have been corrupted already through your schooling as much as is possible already.

Gunga Din
February 2, 2014 7:06 pm

Eugene WR Gallun says:
February 1, 2014 at 10:07 pm
I am going to keep putting this poem up until Mann decides to sue me also. Come at me little man!!

Put it upside-down and he might be able to read it. 😎

February 2, 2014 9:20 pm

While I understand pro bono legal work being tax exempt I do not get how legal funds being used to sue other people being tax exempt.
that strikes me as a taxable gifts. I coukd be wrong though. But I fail how to see hiw yiy can take others mobey to sue people and it not be considered taxable.

February 2, 2014 10:24 pm

Eugene; love the poem!

Eugene WR Gallun
February 2, 2014 10:57 pm

Gunga Din 7:06pm
We poets get so little attention that even one funny comment brings with it the sweet smell of success.
Eugene WR Gallun

Eugene WR Gallun
February 2, 2014 11:09 pm

andrewmharding 10:24pm
Well, its an oldie but a goodie. Thank you for the kind comment. I knew opening an internet account with PAY-FOR-PRAISE would get me some compliments. i would recommend the service to any poet.
Eugene WR Gallun

February 3, 2014 2:34 am

I would say that anyone who lays claim to having a Nobel Peace prize (rightly or wrongly) is a bona fide public figure, and not a reluctant one.

Andy Hurley
February 3, 2014 4:00 am

If you ever wish to insult a liberal, caring, slightly warm and fuzzy ,reader of The Independent , just accuse him of being a reader of the Guardian. In Britain the journal is renowned for its wishy washy ,left of centre ,lovey dovey , Quintin and Tarkwin ,champagne socialist , hand wringing communist manifesto dressed in pink ribbons. It is dire !!

February 3, 2014 6:34 am

One point regarding the models which failed to predict the pause in the warming.
Meteorologists have known about 30-40 year pacific and atlantic oscillations for more than 400 years and which has been documented in the climate science dating back to the mwp.
Yet none of the climate models took into account this well known climate cycle.
How smart are these climate scientists?

February 3, 2014 1:36 pm

Joe Feb 3 at 6:34 am “How smart are these climate scientists”? Richard Lindzen thinks “not very”.

February 3, 2014 5:37 pm

Michael Mann’s legal bills are being covered by the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund.
As to who actually finances that operation, I have no idea. I would guess Tom Steyer if anybody. And on their blog they brag about cooperation with an outfit called ‘PEER;’ which basically is a shell for AFSCME.
It’s also worth noting the irony that something called the ‘Climate Science Legal Defense Fund’ is financing a libel suit brought by a plaintiff over a muckraker’s personal slander via allusions to Jerry Sandusky. No science. No climate. No defense. The constant Newspeak-ish dissonance in eco-prog land is truly striking on so many levels.

Brian H
February 5, 2014 6:10 pm

fobdangerclose says:
February 1, 2014 at 2:55 pm
Maurice Strawn

Strong. Honest.

Brian H
February 5, 2014 6:24 pm

Eugene WR Gallun says:
February 1, 2014 at 10:07 pm
I am going to keep putting this poem up until Mann decides to sue me also. Come at me little man!!

Sorry, won’t work. Mann only cares what (other) public figures calumniously say about him. You’re just not (yet) a sufficiently prominent ‘opinion leader’ to attract his vindictive attention.

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