My answer to the "why didn't Watts ask a question?" brouhaha

There’s been a fair amount of niggling in social media over my presence at the Mann talk at Bristol. I find it humorous that there seems to be almost as much interest in my presence there as the Mann talk itself. It all started with this tweet from Leo Hickman at the event:

Watts_at_Mann_Bristol_via_Hickman

You can see just how far separated the audience was from Dr. Mann, as I was seated in the front row in a seat reserved for me. You can also see the band of the hearing assistance headset I was wearing, graciously and at extra expense, provided by the Cabot Institute when I informed them of my disability. Kudos and my sincere thanks to them. Also, thanks to director Rich Pancost for his openness with me.

In a Tweet from Dr. Mann, taken from the balcony seating you can see just how isolated Dr. Mann was from the audience. The stage extended so far forward that you can’t even see the first row of people on the ground floor. You can also see the video production crewman and camera. Rich Pancost promises me the video of both the Cook and Mann talks will be made available.

Mann_Bristol_from_BalconyObviously from his tweet and photo of me from behind, Leo Hickman expected some “fireworks”. Perhaps though, he missed my tweet earlier on the day of the Mann talk:

The reason I sent that was that in my opinion, for climate skeptics, almost any public interaction with Dr. Mann would be a “no-win” situation. Given the track record of hostility that has been on display from Dr. Mann (and blowback from skeptics too), I felt that if tough questions were asked, we’d be vilified for “badgering” Dr. Mann or being “out of order” in a polite venue. Since Dr. Mann framed the venue as “Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars” I thought that taking the advice of WOPR in the movie “War Games” was likely the only winning move:

A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

One commenter, the pundit known as “Climate Nuremberg” had a response to my suggestion that would later prove to be prescient:

Indeed, and that’s what happened. Leo Hickman got a question in the thread he started from behind me from the known unknown known as “and then there’s physics”, who used to run a blog that had nothing but “Watt about…” in the titles. He changed to the new theme/name when he realized how stupid he looked.

betts-Hickman-sceptics-MannBristol-talk

Dr. Richard Betts (who I met for the first time at the extraordinary meeting prior to the Mann talk) also wondered why skeptics had been so quiet. I tried to locate that Tweet today, but it seems to have shuffled off the digital coil, perhaps one of the readers has saved it or can locate it. It said essentially:

Richard Betts provided it in comments, added for accuracy rather than my one from memory:

Dr. Mann himself responded to a question posed by GISS employee Chris Colose on Dr. Mann’s Facebook page, asking if there had been any “disruption” of his talk:

Mann_FBpage_09-26-14-537AMPDT

Note my response at the bottom, we’ll get back to that in a moment. First I want to address Dr. Mann’s “tinfoil hat” assertion.

My opinion is that the environment at the Mann talk contributed greatly to the lack of interaction from the other climate skeptics present. Though Barry Woods notes that he and “Katabasis” both had their hands up during the Q&A period. Even so, from my perspective, asking a question at the Mann talk was an exercise in futility, due to the choice of Q&A moderator, Dr. Stephan Lewandowsky. He is seen in these two photos below standing on the stage, watching for questions, and directing the microphone bearers:IMG_20140925_210744Here, Dr. Lewandowsky directs a microphone bearer to a person in the balcony:

IMG_20140925_210832Here is one of the microphone bearers from the Cabot Institute going to one of the Lewandowsky selected persons:

IMG_20140925_210849

Note the empty seats, despite Dr. Mann’s assertion of a “full capacity crowd”, it clearly was not. There were empty seats directly behind me also. As one might expect in a packed lecture, there were no people standing along the walls or near the doors, other than the security guards.

The Q&A session was short, about 5 questions, all softballs, and much shorter than the Cook lecture, where the majority of questions were in fact from climate skeptics. After the short Q&A, Dr. Mann was immediately whisked away to his book signing table, complete with a policeman standing guard. The line was rather short as I walked by and snapped this photo:

IMG_20140925_212631The Mann talk seemed much more tense to me with the addition of police.

While I had stated clearly in a tweet earlier that I was there to “listen and observe” imagine if I had tried to ask a question.

These thoughts went through my mind.

1. Lewandowsky knows me and knows where I’m sitting, would he even call on me if I raised my hand? Doubtful. At the Cook talk, I did not see Dr. Lewandowsky directing microphone bearers, and the majority of questions were in fact from climate skeptics. The Mann talk had an entirely different vibe, and seemed much more tense than the Cook talk as I describe here. Director of the Cabot Institute, Richard Pancost said in a  tweet today that Lewandowsky was directing microphone bearers at the Cook talk too, but I sure didn’t see it.

2. If Lewandowsky did call on me, would he do so only for the purpose of spite, and do something like announce “here’s a question from Arch-denier Anthony Watts, whose ‘conspiracy ideation’ I’ve written about in my paper Recursive Fury.” I could only wonder, especially since I lodged a complaint that aided in getting that horrid, spiteful, and ethically irresponsible paper retracted.

3. Would Dr. Mann preface his response to my question with something similar, such as saying I’m funded by the ‘Koch machine’ to be there and harass him with questions, much like he did when I sent him a  free Christmas Calendar on my own dime? This sort of worry is evidenced by Dr. Mann’s response to the discussion today on Twitter:

Mann-Tweet-tinfoil4. If Dr. Mann responded to my question with a question of his own (a typical tactic when inconvenient questions are asked) would I even be able to hear him correctly and respond? If I misheard him, would I accidentally make a fool of myself due to my hearing issue? The crowd would not know of my difficulty, and I’d be laughed at. Despite the hearing assistance device being graciously provided by the Cabot Institute, it had issues and would only work correctly if held away from my body due to the loop circuit having a fairly weak signal. I had email discussions with Cabot about this after the Cook talk, but there wasn’t much they could do. They tried though, and I give them props for doing so.

So, in effect, asking a question was very likely a no-win situation for me. I knew this going in, but with a Q&A moderator documented to be hostile toward skeptics (Lewandowsky) directing the Q&A session, it was even more of a losing proposition. I don’t think the director of the Cabot Institute, Richard Pancost realized how intimidating it was to have a person who had named and shamed climate skeptics in peer reviewed paper, only to have it retracted by complaints from climate skeptics, and then to have the journal defend the rights of climate skeptics as unwilling “human test subjects”.

I can imagine the reticence of many other climate skeptics present, seeing Lewandowsky up there on stage pointing, wondering if asking a question was worth the risk. As I said, the advice from WOPR “The only winning move is not to play.” seemed best.

But, as indicated by the responses of Dr. Mann and company, they weren’t happy with that either. We are damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

Now back to the other issue raised earlier. On Dr. Mann’s Facebook page, he lamented that I didn’t ask a question, so I asked permission to ask one of him then. However, it seems that Dr. Mann has BLOCKED my question from appearing to him and others, as I soon found out, nobody else could see it:

and…

My Facebook question was also made known in a Twitter post, and it has been over 24 hours and no response from Dr. Mann. I know that some climate skeptics wanted to ask why Dr. Mann chose to cherry pick surface temperature data only to 2005, with the suggestion that it might be so he could “hide the pause”. It is a valid question, especially since Dr. Mann had been called out on the tactic two years ago by Steve McIntyre when he saw the same slides at the 2012 AGU Fall Meeting. We also have a discussion about it at WUWT here.

Imagine if a climate skeptic did the same thing at a Cabot Institute lecture, they’d be vilified.

But clearly by his actions, Dr. Mann has shown that such questions are off the table.  Dr. Mann doesn’t want honest questions, he only wants to play at denigration, as evidenced by his use of labels like “deniers”, “tin foil hats”, and “Koch machine”.

My mind was made up going in that I wasn’t going to engage. The humorous fixation on social media over my not asking a question at the lecture seems to be little more than a brouhaha of their own making. Wikipedia says:

Typically, a brouhaha is marked by controversy and fuss that can seem, afterwards, to have been pointless or irrational.

Indeed.

But it seems, the tide is turning against Dr. Mann, and the support for these sorts of unprofessional actions is waning, as Andrew Montford summed up:

As we waited in our seats for Michael Mann’s lecture at the Cabot Institute to begin, I was struck by the sight of the great man alone at the side of the stage. He stood there for several minutes, ignored by everyone, as the last of the audience appeared and the Cabot Institute people, Lewandowsky among them, scurried about making final arrangements. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Mark Steyn’s comments about climatologists’ stark failure to make any amici submissions to the DC court on Mann’s behalf. The other day I also heard a story about a room full of paleo people rolling their eyes and groaning at the mere mention of his name. Somehow the Cabot Institute’s abandonment of the honoured speaker at the side of the stage seemed to epitomise this growing isolation. Even the scientivists seemed to be abandoning him.

Probably the most valuable thing we can do, is simply to ignore Dr. Mann and his rants about climate skeptics being tinfoil hat wearers, Koch shills, or deniers. We are none of those.

But most important, and on full display now, is the fact that if Dr. Mann can’t even be bothered to update his slides with current global temperature data. In that failing, he has already become irrelevant to the climate debate.

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255 thoughts on “My answer to the "why didn't Watts ask a question?" brouhaha

    • I agree, it was mostly a complete waste of time to listen to the Mann lecture. In fact, the day of the lecture I actually had discussions about not attending. However, meeting other skeptics was very important, and this meeting made everything worthwhile: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/09/23/an-extraordinary-meeting-of-climate-skeptics-and-climate-scientists-in-bath/
      While Dr. Mann was ranting on about deniers and tinfoil hats, climate scientists and climate skeptics were having a polite and meaningful discussion, and that was far more important than anything Mann or Cook was doing.

      • I totally agree with the decision re: why go at all. Sea changes that correct past errors in proxy and observational records requires willingness to park barriers held by “camps” at the door and seriously work together to dissect data archives. This step cannot happen from the podium of a lecture venue expounding the correctness of one’s favored view.

      • Surely though any question asked especially by you would have revealed something; whether you was ignored or treated rudely or even answered in a courteous manner would have told us something? Imagine if you had asked a question and Lewandowsky totally ignored you? Then that would have spoken volumes but now we will never know.

      • This “buffer zone” is hilarious, like a regular Mann-ty Python episode. You should tell Mann you didn’t ask any questions because you forgot to bring your smoke signal kit and your semaphores.

      • Anthony, you should have raised your hand and asked if you could take a bathroom break.
        First, it would have tested whether Lewandowsky would have even called on you, and
        Second, it would have brought the house down.
        At least the skeptics would see the humor in it. (“Teacher, teacher–I need to use the bathroom”.)
        (I apologize for my irreverence, but not very much.)

      • There is no sense attending Mann’s lectures because they are propaganda not science. Why would they want deniers to be in the audience? Props. If you speak, they will ridicule you. If you keep quiet, they will claim victory. See no objections. The deniers are afraid to speak because they will lose the debate. IMO speak or don’t be part of the show. If you want to meet climate scientists and skeptics, attend the Heartland Institute and AMS conferences.

      • “Brute
        September 28, 2014 at 2:37 pm
        I get a feeling sometimes that Mann’s existence would diminish to nothing but not for our attentions…”
        I went to a scientific retreat last month, where a very esteemed scientist was the keynote speaker. One of the things he said was to cherish your critics, because they are the ones that follow your research most closely. I think Mann would have already faded into obscurity after so much of his work has been refuted and debunked, if not for the passionate personal contempt he has for his critics, and their contempt in return.

      • I see it quite simply: Anthony was there as a reporter, to let us know what was said at this presentation. He wasn’t there to be part of the show, or to cause a ruckus. He was there to observe and report on anything new that was presented. He would only need to ask a question if he did not understand what was being presented. Since M. Mann presented no new information or data, Anthony had no need to ask any questions.

    • Similar to the ‘Guilty Remnant’ in the Leftovers novel and TV series, willing skeptics could bear silent witness at future alarmist events.
      Perhaps that may unmann them a little.

    • It was important to attend and not do anything. Made more of an impression than not attending (nothing to talk about) and made more of an impression than making a scene (negative to our side). As it is, the attending and being quiet and courteous made the other side react negatively – so our side wins.

      • Great point. The reaction from the other side attacking Anthony, shows where their focus is.
        Possibly the worst action would have been to ask a question in this environment. There are many good questions that could have been asked but if you think that any question Anthony asked would have been handled any differently than how these men have handled all the other good questions that surround their work in recent years, then what planet are you living on?
        Using computer models, they have the answer to almost every question there is. They have a great theory and it works on paper and can explain everything……. answer all questions.
        When the real world acts differently, new convincing sounding theories easily explain why the main theory is still correct but temporarily being suppressed by this new element.
        They can never be wrong, when the evidence is based on a computer model programmed with mathematical equations to represent the theory, then, making adjustments(new damage control theories) to explain the difference between the theory and observations.
        Even massive increases in plant growth and record crop yields/world food production from increasing CO2 the past few decades from the indisputable law of photosynthesis is negated……….by providing model projections that indicate our future climate will reduce crop yields.
        You can NEVER be wrong on anything if it’s based on a model projection for a time frame in the future that has not arrived.
        Again, the theory has not been wrong the past 15 years because any errors can be accounted for by new pet theories that explain conditions that are temporarily masking the effects of the main theory.

  1. Ok, so Koch’s are allegedly backers of skeptics,in the minds of warmists. While the backers of warmists are Steyer, Rockefellers, Soros, Gates, Branson, and on and on. Which is obviously not a problem for warmists at all.
    So what they want is 100% domination; every billionaire backing them; not one of them having a different opinion. Understood.
    Warmists are totalitarian. They loudly proclaim it every day.
    Well GOOD LUCK BOYS.

    • We’ll have to wait on Dr. Mann to acknowledge my polite, yet simple question. Otherwise I don’t plan to reveal it.

    • Don’t know the question until we open the envelope (Mighty Carnac style), but the answer is:
      “Why should I answer the question of a tin-foil hat-wearing denier funded by the Koch brothers?”

  2. Hickman and Betts showing their true colours it appears.What a shame they appeared so pleasant a day or two earlier. No surprises there. Your behaviour and demeanour puts Mann and his followers to shame.

    • John
      I don’t see what the problem is with my tweet. I just asked Josh and Barry why there were (I thought) no sceptic hands up*, and noted it seemed out of character (especially for those 2 guys, who I know fairly well now, at least online.) That’s a perfectly reasonably question, and I even put a smiley in to show it was good-humoured and not malicious.
      This illustrates why the dinner on the Sunday evening was useful. Online it is very easy for written statements to be misinterpreted (or even misrepresented), especially when the tone is not clear. Much better to talk face-to-face. I think this is part of the reason the climate discussion has got so heated and polarised – much of it has been conducted online.
      It was a shame that, for whatever reason, there was no involvement of sceptics in the Q&A after Mike Mann’s talk. Maybe all that has gone before would have made it a less than constructive exchange …. but I guess we’ll never know.
      *It turns out Barry did put his hand up, but I couldn’t see him from where I was sitting. I didn’t know Katabasis by sight.

      • Richard Betts tweet was an honest question. Perhaps many thought we were all there to raise a ruckus, and were understandably disappointed when we didn’t.
        Discretion is the better part of valor.

      • (This is meant as more of a general response rather than a “reply”.)
        If you see that the deck is stacked against you, why play the game?
        From what has been said of Cook’s Q&A, he fell back on prepared answers that may or or may not have addressed the actual question that was asked. Politicians do that in press conferences and debates all the time. The question is used as a launching pad to say what they want rather than give an answer.
        If whatever question Anthony might have asked would not be allowed a rebuttal (because the science is settled), why bother?
        Mann is too cowardly to engage in any exchange that would approach anything resembling a debate…unless he got to choose who was on the other side. Even on facebook and twitter it seems.

    • Richard Betts says:
      It was a shame that, for whatever reason, there was no involvement of sceptics in the Q&A after Mike Mann’s talk.
      I am chomping at the bit to ask Mann, Lewandowski, and any other defender of ctastrophic AGW some serious questions. But the fact is that they all run and hide from questions or debates held in any neutral venue. As it was, Lewandowsky was clearly running interference for Mann, and the people asking questions were obvious plants.
      It is hard to imagine anyone in the public eye worse than those two. Lewandowsky uses his academic position to vilify anyone with a different scientific opinion, using his debunked peer reviewed papers. Mann uses his tweets and carefully scripted public appearances to take potshots at all of his percevied ‘enemies’, who include anyone with a different scientific opinion than his.
      Mann is avidly reading this, there is no doubt. So here is a challenge: instead of constantly tucking your tails between your quivering rear thighs and running yelping for the hills every time the prospect of a fair exchange comes up, offer to engage a scientific skeptic of Anthony’s choosing in a fair, moderated debate held in a neutral venue. No scripted questions, and no plants in the audience. Stand up for what you say you believe. If you do believe what you are always saying, you will come across looking good. You have knowledge of the subject, and plenty of experience in front of crowds.
      But of course, tucking tail and running is your M.O. You will never agree to debate on those terms, as fair to both sides as they are. The reason is obvious: you have no credible science that would withstand simple scrutiny. You are a charlatan, Mr. Mann; the Elmer Gantry of climate science. You are terrified of a fair debate. You won’t answer questions unless you know what they are beforehand, and unless they come from one of your hand-picked cohorts. You know the truth about yourself, and you prepare for it like you did here.
      Way back when, you banned me from commenting at your blog, realclimate, when I posted this chart without comment. I have never been back there since. There is an old saying in politics: Never unnecessarily expand your circle of enemies. Mann, you stuck it to me then, for simply expressing my honest opinion. I won’t forget that.

      • On Leo Hickman of the Guardian and banning – they wonder why no sceptical questions yet I have been banned from commenting at the Guardian over a dozen times for posting peer reviewed abstracts. These guys are jokers.

    • His reputation as a scientist is greatly exaggerated. And defended repeatedly in court, if you’re wondering.

  3. It seems to me that the questions to be asked were well known. And the answers (such as they are) are also well known. A number of people in the audience don’t know that of course, but they also don’t have the years of context behind both.
    “The only winning move is not to play.”
    That, and getting together with people that could only be done if you or all them went on a long journey. You won. Thanks and congratulations.

    • It’s unclear to me what “winning” means in this context.
      But it is evident that there is no question that Mann is capable of answering in any manner that would be scientifically interesting.

  4. A distance kept between the audience and Mann is not strange. Any closer and he would have difficult to avoid eye contact …

  5. The distance of the audience from Dr. Mann reminds me of what the the NBC network did when demonstrating the first color television broadcast to the media. Before the media’s arrival NBC decided that the picture quality was not satisfactory so they decided to remove the first 2 rows of seats, decreasing the odds that the poor quality would be noticed. The same scenario could work for climate change demonstrations as well.

  6. Good article, not that you owed anyone an explanation to begin with, Anthony. 🙂 I knew your hearing would be a factor—I have a family member with the same issues, who wouldn’t even think of trying to engage in an adversarial Q & A—I just wish I’d gone for double “pundit”* points by predicting the reason before you said so! 🙂
    * That’s the nicest thing anyone’s called me!

  7. Give a Mann enough rope and he will hang himself. The pretend Nobel Laureate’s ego will expose his “science” for what it is by hinself. Skeptics do not need to question him he does so well with his outbursts.
    Even if you wanted to ask a question I am sure Dr. Lewandowsky would have “missed” seeing you.The choreography would have prohibited any embarrassing question. Michaell Mann never permits critical or searching questions.

    • I can’t resist: If Mann were to hang himself, would that be an example of “suspension of disbelief”?

      • Quiet observation is its own reward. One can learn even more simply by being a good listener, rather than a participant.

      • Perhaps I’m a grubby creature of a less noble God. At some point I believe we have to actually do something and that’s a decision I took long ago. We have different viewpoints and I respect that and hope it’s reciprocated but I’m on a clock and it’s always ticking.
        “They’re just numbers, numbers, imaginary numbers. Dead imaginary numbers. The square roots of negative numbers we are obliged to invent a comfortable contrivance for, so we don’t have to think too much more deeply about them. But each one of them had a way about them that was uniquely theirs; their own smile, a way of walking, a certain look, a tilt of the head that was theirs alone, they loved and were loved by someone and now they’re dead and gone and will be forgotten.
        They were somebody’s child or someone’s man or someone’s woman or someone’s lover or simply just a friend. They were your baby with that magic eye contact and their milky smile. It is needless, preventable, human waste on an industrial, genocidal and unimaginable scale. It shouldn’t ever be happening.”
        Tickety tock, tickety tock.
        Pointman

      • IMO, there is something to be said for attending lectures like these for the sole purpose of witnessing, with your own eyes and ears, what is said and how it is said.
        You know, that “take no one’s word for it” thing that scientists are supposed to do.
        You also get to witness the reaction of the crowd. All of this is important first-hand knowledge to have.

      • Showing up is being a player. Whether he decided to ask questions or not, point goes to the man in the front row who can stare at Mann all evening, and leave him wondering and worrying what was to come. Better even, that all of the sceptics were quiet. As you can see, the twitterverse is now trying to draw out what the sceptics were up to. They’re warmists are still nervous… Forensic Interview Skills 101.

      • In my branch of science, it’s considered poor form to give a lecture that fails to include new, unpublished data. Perhaps Anthony hoped to see something new from Professor Mann.
        Alas, it was apparently all review of published work. Leads me to wonder: What is he working on lately?
        [Very old work. Very, very old work. .mod]

    • One cannot listen and talk at the same time and of the two listening is the most productive. HOWEVER, I detest the lot of them, the Betts, Slingo, Colose, Mann, Hansen, Bradley — the whole lot. Two faces is not enough for them. Yuk
      Incidently, I am also completely deaf in one ear and partially so in the other (after several in a pop band of the 60s) so I completely inderstand where Anthony is coming from in this case.

      • Steve, there is little point in detesting them all, many of “them” are as sincere in their beliefs as we are in ours, and, in my case at least, much nicer people. What division where you in in Martlesham, we may have come across each other?

  8. The fact that you would make the effort to see Cook, Mann, etc. live and watch their demeanor while they spoke about their “religion”, and do it in a respectful manner, is laudatory.
    Glad to hear you found the trip to be fruitful even if Cook and Mann may not have.

  9. “…
    So, in effect, asking a question was very likely a no-win situation for me.
    …”

    Have to agree with you on that Anthony. You did the right thing.

  10. Anthony, I think you were very wise, I would hazard a guess that the questions that were asked were from “plants” who had their questions pre-submitted to Mann. To be honest, I think Lewandosky would have ignored you, if not, Mann would have mumbled to take an unfair advantage of your hearing problem.
    Like I have said elsewhere on WUWT, there was no science involved in his lecture.
    The discourteous names like “d*niers” and “tin hat wearer” and calling James Delingpole a clown sum up Mann’s scientific credentials.

  11. The Mann is invaluable.
    Keep stroking his ego, if you can.
    The safer he feels the greater damage he inflicts upon this weird art of Climatology.
    I agree you would have been wasting your time asking any questions at that presentation, just your presence has unnerved the faithful more than is reasonable.
    However the Zealots of the C.C.C cannot restrain themselves, their self worth is totally dependant on believing themselves to be the smartest, most caring persons on the planet.
    With such a fragile reality they get the vapours with each change of the wind.
    The staged event is very revealing, segregated from the audience, no eye contact, data cut off 9 years ago, but that same absolutism.
    Sand castles before the incoming tide comes to mind.
    I think even the mann can feel the bus approaching.

  12. Michael E. Mann [just a note: If you have a habit of making false, inflammatory, and/or defamatory statements about climate scientists in public, then, no, you’re not welcome at this facebook page there are other outlets for you in that case. Thanks!]
    Wednesday at 17.04
    facebook
    So by Mann’s own criteria, he should not be posting on his own facebook page.

  13. I am puzzled.
    Mann knows that he has in his audience some of the key people he has vilified as belonging to the conspiracy against him.
    He has a superb opportunity to take on and humiliate those who speak against his work in a public forum where he is in full control.
    And what does he do? He ignores them and effectively prevents them from asking any questions.
    Ask yourselves one question.
    Is that the behaviour of a man who is convinced he is right, or of a liar and a coward?
    The answer speaks volumes.

  14. The best result of these two events at the Cabot is probably that it acted as a catalyst to bring calmer and clearer people together in pubs and private houses, and to allow some of them to speak directly with climate campaigners. I say ‘probably’ because there is also the possibility that even more influential people attended the lectures and were appalled by them. I hope so, but I know that good is coming from the meetings of kindred spirits opposed to facile, self-serving, irresponsible, and destructive alarmism over our CO2. Well done Anthony for travelling across a continent and an ocean to be there.

  15. Good day Mr. Watts,
    Please read this with all the respect I have for you and your work. While some things you talk about do go over my head, as I am not a climate scientist, there is a lot I have learned here. I am and energy and environmental expert, which means I am an engineer that relies heavily on common sense, thus why the whole CAGW scam is one of my pet peeves. I have learned loads from you and a few other scientists.
    I would just like to caution you on how personal you sometimes tend to take some of the clowns that make a very comfy living out of this scam. While they tend to attack you on a personal basis, which is most unprofessional, I encourage you not to heed to their base level and reply. It is similar to when a rig manager barks at you for doing your job better than he can understand (ok, personal ranting but rampant issue in the oilpatch). Just let it fly, they are not worth of your time.
    While I understand how it feels when they attempt at being sarcastic and offend, remember that only someone that is above you can offend you and, when such a person talks to you, he/she will never even attempt to do so.
    Exposing them, though, it is always good. Just goes to show what kind of people they are. Thus the reason the type of people that still show support (i.e. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/09/26/friday-funny-the-de-evolution-of-climate-activism ).
    Please receive my most kind regards.
    FF

  16. I was one of the first to stand and put my hand up. ‘Sir’ (didn’t know or care at that point, that it was the eedjit) saw me and pointed the mic guy my way then chose someone downstairs for the first q. When he came back to upstairs the mic guy had homed in on the Avaaz mouthpiece (who, admittedly, was on the same diagonal as myself vis-a-vis lewpaper’s viewpoint.). This twat asked two qs so soft you could see the caramel spurting out of his skull from where I was.
    Mic guy never came my way when lewpaper started gesticulating and pointing downstairs.
    I was going to be polite, along the lines of…
    ‘Ben Santer’s team said in 2011 “… that tropospheric temperature records must be at least 17 years long to discriminate between internal climate noise and the signal of human-caused changes …” and Phil Jones said in 2005 ” “The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has, but it is only seven years of data …”.
    In the light of Ross McKitrick’s recent paper claiming “…there is now a trendless interval of 19 years duration at the end of the HadCRUT4 surface temperature series, and of 16 – 26 years in the lower troposphere.” how can you claim that the science is settled and show us slides that only show data to 2005?
    I actually wanted to shout out, several times, what I think of this arsehole and his lies but heeded AW’s request to remain polite.

    • Just as well you didn’t get an opportunity to ask the question. (1) It’s far too long; (2) It’s far too complex; (3) It would have been too easily flipped off thus: “You should take that question up with Ben Santer and Phil Jones. Next!”

    • Henry, I think you put a lie to Mann’s faux surprise that there were no “skeptic” questioners as he knew bloody well that it was manipulated to appear that way and by your description they had to work pretty hard to do it! I would think anyone who attended would have seen the obvious sham.

  17. Anthony, I commend you for your decision not to play their game. It was truly a no-win situation.
    I also did not ask a question when Mann spoke in Victoria last year.
    But some of you might be interested in what can happen when the deck is not stacked like this – when asking a speaker a challenging question can make a difference.
    I’ve just published, for the first time, my account of an incident that took place in 2009, when I asked a polar bear biologist a seemingly innocuous question at a scientific workshop called “Global Warming and Arctic Marine Mammals.”
    See what you think – but note, I’m absolutely sure this strategy would not have worked at a Mann lecture and it would probably not work for me today (now that the polar bear crowd knows who I am).
    http://polarbearscience.com/2014/09/24/in-2009-i-asked-a-polar-bear-biologist-a-challenging-question-at-a-global-warming-workshop/
    Susan Crockford, PolarBearScience

  18. Hmmm…. I sense disappointment on the CAGW side that Anthony didn’t ask a question. Spoiled their party, perhaps? 😉

  19. Right, if I was a low grade Psychologist this is what I would have tried …
    I would have got Cook to come up to you and ‘make friends’ with you. Chat about this and that, then get Cook to take questions from Skeptics making you feel mode comfortable.
    Then when Mann is asking for questions I would point at you, probably 2nd or 3rd in the line of questions then when you ask your question (whatever it is) the trap is sprung.
    If the trap wasn’t sprung, then as a someone with a reasonable level of intelligence, I would definitely not whinge about it on twitter or anywhere else like that as it would blow the whole plan.

  20. I would ask Mann the same question I ask all of these guys: given the large number of correlation findings indicating that some mechanism of solar amplification is probably at work (a solar effect on climate that is stronger than can be accounted for by TSI alone), what reason do you have for dismissing the possibility that high 20th century solar activity was the cause of most 20th century warming?
    Consensoids usually have no qualms about giving the most unscientific answer imaginable. The standard line, from the IPCC and from numerous individual scientists, including many well known solar scientists, is that since solar activity peaked in the 1980s the solar effect on climate during the 1990’s should have been in the cooling direction, yet the planet continued to warm.
    That’s like saying that the day should start cooling at noon, when solar insolation is at its maximum, just because it is past its peak. Of course the day continues to warm until mid-afternoon when insolation falls below radiative loss, yet all these supposed scientists actually assert this crazy claim that it is the trend in the forcing rather than the level of the forcing that determines whether the solar effect is in the warming or the cooling direction.
    Here is a link to my collection of quotes from 19 scientists and 3 scientific bodies making this bogus claim:
    http://www.crescentofbetrayal.com/ClimateEmai_citations.htm
    Would love to add Mann’s name to that list, and I don’t doubt that he would be willing to join the “consensus” on this. There is no other answer available for a solar-denier to give. If he wants to be a solar denier, it is this or nothing, and it is surprising how many are willing to join the chorus of blatant scientific error.

    • Solar plasma temperature/density/pressure increased through the 1980’s, and declined from the mid 1990’s. I propose that this decline is responsible for the increase in negative North Atlantic Oscillation episodes since 1995, and the transition to a warm AMO mode, through wind driven increased poleward ocean transport. Which would imply that a large proportion of the rise in global mean temperature since 1995, that due to the warm AMO mode and the warming of the Arctic, is an amplified negative feedback to declines in solar forcing, and not forced warming.
      http://snag.gy/dXp1s.jpg

  21. AW:
    Thankyou for your clear and cogent explanation.
    Whatever response you get to whatever is your question will be informative and I am sure many of us look forward to it.
    I write to add two points. Firstly, I agree with those who say your decision to avoid questions was clearly correct. And, secondly, there was nothing worrying about the policeman being present to ‘guard’ the book signing. British police officers differ from US ones: the ‘guard’ would be a normal protection provided for a celebrity, he would not have possessed a firearm but would have had radio communication to obtain back-up if needed.
    Richard

    • I would have thought it was a university security officer/guard rather than a policeman. We do not have university police in the US sense and I can’t imagine even a book signing by the odious Dr. Mann would attract real police to waste time cooling their heels or, for that matter, holding back rioting academics or sceptics. /sarc

      • My apologies Anthony, I was not calling into question your observational skills. It turns out he’s the ‘Community Beat Manager’ for the University, employed by the local police force (not the University) and working alongside the university’s security outfit. I am still baffled as to why he was overseeing a book signing. Perhaps Mann was afeared that he might be overwhelmed by the forces of reality.
        http://www.bristol.ac.uk/securityservices/universitypoliceofficer/

    • the ‘guard’ would be a normal protection provided for a celebrity
      So tell me again, why was the guard there? Where’s the celebrity?

      • BruceC
        You quote me and ask

        So tell me again, why was the guard there? Where’s the celebrity?

        It was a book signing by the author of a book. I think that if you try you can determine who was the celebrity yourself.
        Any celebrity can be attacked by e.g. self-publicists and that is why “the ‘guard’ would be a normal protection provided for a celebrity”. The policeman describes his duties as University Police Officer here.
        Richard

  22. The venue was the venue. Nothing Mann could do about the separation between podium and audience. Seems to me that the sceptic community criticise the warmists for not being prepared to debate, yet on this occasion, when there was the opportunity to question, we sceptics passed up the chance. I would have been inclined to ask something like ‘ do you attach any significance to the fact that if one plots annual global temperature against year for the past 18 odd years, one gets a horizontal line? And if you don’t then why not?

    • As evidenced in the comments, there were several skeptics who attempted to ask questions. They were passed over.
      My situation was different, as clearly described above.

    • A question/answer session with a biased questioner selector may be your idea of a debate but does not fit mine. At least Cook had the guts to answer questions without the selector! And if the purpose was true debate why did Lew’ not select any skeptics? It was not thay did not want debate, they were not given the opportunity. Why not arrange a full debate with Mann et al or is he too scared to venture into real debate?

    • “The venue was the venue. Nothing Mann could do about the separation between podium and audience.”
      Perhaps. But that makes the assumption that the podium couldn’t have been moved closer to the edge of the stage. I’ve spoken to groups in a similar auditorium setting and I would have either asked for the podium to be moved closer or, at the very least, made an effort to explain to the audience why the venue was set up the way it was.
      Being close to the folks to whom you are speaking offers a level of comfort and intimacy while being set apart in the manner shown here gives the impression of deliberate separation and aloofness. While sometimes that can not be helped, we can’t be sure in this case. However, having someone closer to the audience running interference while selecting questioners would make one wonder whether this was a deliberate situation.

      • Mann was equipped with a wearable wireless microphone, so he most certainly could have moved the podium closer to the audience. The screen however, didn’t have any options for movement that I could see.

    • Velcro,
      Given the fact that Mann met with at least one investigative committee [which then voted to “exonerate” him] beforehand, to formulate the questions he would be asked, what makes you think that Mann and/or one of his people didn’t get with Cabot to set things up like this? And to have the odious Lewandowsky insert himself in a position like that was inexcusable. It reeks of game-playing.
      Mann’s pattern has been to stack the deck in any way he can. That’s why he refuses to engage in any fair, moderated debates. If appearances are not 100% scripted by Mann, he will not attend.
      If Mann is willing to answer public questions without any preconditions, I would certainly welcome that. But don’t hold your breath.

  23. The very best line in “War Games” was, as you quoted, “A strange game. The only way to win is not to play” (speaking of tic-tac-toe but also global thermonuclear war).
    A related converse idea exists, that in different circumstances the only way to lose is NOT to play (says the person whose handle is Willard at ATTP).
    When a thing is scripted the correct winning move is to defeat the script. The “good book” has several clever examples of this. Render unto Mann that which is Mann’s.

  24. Tinfoil hat wearers? That’s pretty rich coming from someone who has spent the past decade making constant allegations and coming up with ‘big oil’ conspiracy theories against all and sundry for daring to criticise his work on any level.
    I guess his ability to understand irony is sitting right next to his missing level of humility, i’m sure both are probably hidden somewhere in the depths of the ocean next to the missing heat. Actually scratch that, one is a scientific hypothesis and the other is quite obviously a myth alongside Nessie, Bigfoot and a Jaguars offensive line.

  25. I think it was a wise and very important decision for Anthony to go to the “lecture”. It signifies he is not going away and will hold people’s feet to the fire in respect to the actual science behind Climate Change and man’s (no pun intended) role in it.

  26. So, in effect, asking a question was very likely a no-win situation for me.
    But it was big loss for Dr. Mann, to be deprived of the opportunity to engage (by far) the best known member of the audience, with a well rehearsed answer whatever the question might have been. Awarding even a bit of credibility to one who has none, would have been a mistake.

    • Vuk
      I met up with Anthony Watts and around 15 sceptics in a private house before the Mann lecture. I did not want to go to the lecture itself as from experience of these events I did not feel I could have any influence at all on the course of the debate. At a climate conference of this sort questions will Likely be derived in one of two ways.
      The first is that The presenter themselves will point to someone who has caught his eye. This is very much pot luck and any opportunity for good interaction is highly dependent on the quality of the venue, your position in it, the acoustics, and the willingness of the presenter to enage.
      The second way is when written questions will be sought prior to the event. I submitted one to he Exeter climate conference and was told my question would be used so could I make myself known to the chair and sit in a place where the microphone could readily reach me. I duly put a question to Thomas stocker.
      Having met Anthony in a quiet room with 15 other people it was evident that his hearing impediment was quite severe. Questions addressed to him directly were dealt with in depth and often with humour but any comments coming from elsewhere in the room he found difficult to hear. He asked that those attending the Mann meeting should treat all concerned with respect having been I think, much impressed by the spirit of the meeting he had in Bath with such as Richard Betts.
      Having now seen the venue, the distance from the stage and with a hostile presenter, I think Anthony was wise not to engage in the circumstances that he found himself in.
      Certainly at least two of those also at the private meeting had expressed their desire to ask a question at the Mann lecture . they were very determined and eloquent and that they did not do so would be because they were not asked. If you are not asked, despite having your hands up, it is Probably due to the whim of the person selecting the questioners. However, Whether the two concerned were known to be sceptics and weren’t asked because of it, or whether other people caught the eye of the person with the microphone I don’t know as I wasn’t there.
      Tonyb

      • I have had the same type of reaction while talking with “on-air” radio talk shows here in the US. Each of 12 – 18 times, I have had points, comments, rejoinders, asides, and various facts ready to present as the conversation goes forward, but regularly see instead the host – most actually “conservative” or “republican-leaning” or “actively skeptical” cut the intended conversation off. Or divert it towards what they have intended to say.
        True, they face a time limit. It is a matter of interest – and certainly, the speaker has spent years getting himself to a position where THEY are the ones who are paid to speak. And, of course, THEY are the ones who ARE paid to speak and present THEIR opinion (not our own) into the purchased/rented microphone and transmitter. When the speaker would rather hear their voice and their ideas, it is a very humble, and very rare speaker who will let the caller continue a discussion. And, in truth also, an experienced speaker does not know his caller, and few “trust” a caller (an open-microphone questioner in a lecture hall) to actually ask intelligent questions, and actually be able to continue a conversation in an entertaining and informing fashion.
        But, still, it is irritating to NOT be able to speak to the public – or to politicians! – at length with the facts and arguments now available.

      • Wouldn’t it have been a hoot to hand Michael Mann a copy of Mark Steyn’s book for him to sign? The line was short so it wouldn’t have taken long.

  27. Anthony,
    Regarding your concern about Mann responding to a question of yours with a question of his own…I think it’s valid. A common evasive technique is to respond sneeringly with esoterica calculated to make the questioner look stupid. As in. “Can you tell us Mr. Watts if you’ve even taken into account (insert hifalutin technical sounding concepts here) in your assessment of X,Y,Z.. Because if you had, you’d understand the meaninglessness of your question.:”
    All of which leaves you scratching your head and looking ignorant.. . It’s dishonest and cynical of course, and very effective. You made a wise choice.

    • Exactly, this is why a full and open debate is needed but Mann woud run and run and run from any true debate because he knows he would lose and be exposed for what he is.

  28. There are books by sceptics, there are textbooks on atmospheric radiative transfer , there are books advancing extreme programs for combatting climate change , but I have not yet seen one on the history of the growth of sceptic forums and websites.
    The seminar attended by AW demonstrated a surprising continuing antipathy to a very reasonable attitude of scepticism , given the evidence accumulated over the past 20 years. I therefore looked to see whether any of the History of Science depts. in US or UK are running research projects in this area of interaction between sceptics and the academic establishment . There is , after all , a wealth of information available in the archives of the various websites (I do not what the copyright situation would be for a PhD researcher ) which shows the changes in opinion and comment over the years against a backdrop of data on , say , global temperature or polar ice growth and retreat.- not forgetting the changes in political involvement .
    The closest that I have found so far is a PhD study at U of Manchester (England) on the history of the formation of the IPCC panel on Climate Change.
    Interestingly, I think that it is the Univ of Pennsylvania that has a Dept , not of History and Philosophy of Science as is more usual , but History and Sociology of Science .It might be a very appropriate place to do a PhD on the history of climate change sceptics and the growth of antipathy towards them ( in some quarters) , even as the evidence for extreme climate change becomes less convincing, or perhaps because of that trend.

    • Good idea. Great topic for a grad student–or anyone else– looking for a thesis idea. Somewhat analogously: Years ago, scientific and medical journals were filled with studies confined to reports and analysis of “primary data.” Then someone had the bright idea of studying the “meta-content” of these reports over a period of time–e.g., the relative number of women vs. men as first authors, or the gender differences as to how women were portrayed in medical advertising in the journals. I always thought this was a really creative research concept.

    • hmmmm didn’t post it here. Don’t know how it got here. It showed up under the comment I wanted it posted in.

      • Now I can’t find the commenters request. A commenter was lamenting a pending wind farm in Texas and wanted to know if anyone here could help. I provided a link to a resource that might be able to steer him in the right direction. Can’t find that comment on any of the threads.

  29. Anthony:
    Choose your battles wisely. Under the conditions arranged for the Mann lecture, I think your sticking with your “listen and observe” strategy was the proper course. Many a noble warrior has been cut to ribbons when his “fan club” with no skin in the game goaded him into an inappropriate fight he should have saved for another day.

  30. Your biggest service concerning yhis talk was not asking or not asking a question. It was imaging Mann’s slides so that the Rutgers/ AGU trick was re-exposed after another two years has gone by, and in an internationally invited public talk, no less.
    That has to be very damaging to his already tattered reputation. After the AGU takedown, there really cannot be any reason other than intentionally deceptive misrepresentation. Especially when Man himself acknowledges the 2012 criticism by saying he probably should have updated those slides. I have that response documented, but did not use it in the essay An Awkward Pause, which discusses the Rutgers/AGU episode of ‘pause denial’ amongst several other illustrations. Those Include WMO 2013, Paucheri 2010, and Paucheri 2014.

  31. Having been at climate change presentations I know that asking questions is an exercise in futility and Mann could easily have planned a verbal ambush to anything Anthony said. Not asking anything would be the best psyche possible. Think of the time he had to spend planning something. LOL. Think how cross that would have made him. Teddy out of the pram cross.

    • Oh if you want to see “Teddy out of the pram cross” you should read the reaction from “Sou” aka Miriam O’Brien over at the Hotwhopper blog. It’s hilarious. She’s translated polite “listen and observe” into “cowardice” and “ripping off my readers” and “gutless”.
      Classic projection from a person who hides behind a fake name while hurling invective. She’s really mad they didn’t get anything to skewer me with, so she’s resorted to making things up to be mad about. No wonder she got thrown off those other blogs.

      • What a hateful person Sou sounds like. Did you run over her dog, Anthony? Cos if not, that level of hatefulness is just deranged.

        • No, but I did boot Miriam O’Brien off WUWT for being disruptive, something other blogs (non climate related) have also done. She doesn’t play well with others it seems, no matter what the topic.

      • No, but I also think she’s probably lost her pets as they may have run off. She seems very isolated, lonely, and ready to lash out at anyone who disagrees with her. I pity her and her situation.

      • i refuse to visit that site,the woman is a crazy, nasty,spiteful witch.in all of this debate your behaviour has been exemplary ,far more than can be said for mann and lewandowsky . your approach to the presentation was correct for all the reasons already stated. the material mann used in the presentation was far more damaging than any question you could have asked.
        if ever there is a situation where a useful idiot can be employed i am the type of person to get involved. this was not that situation . a calm and thoughtful demeanour was required and you excelled , i am certain you will have no trouble rising above the snivelling trolls on social media ,the meme is crumbling,they will just have to get used to it.

      • I’ve had the odd run in with her online years ago on various climate forums. My partner, who deals with adults who were abused as children, says she has all the hallmarks of being a child abuse victim. The problem is rather than doing something for themselves about their situation characters like her will mostly direct their anger either at other people or get involved in causes that seek to punish people who they see as ‘evildoers’. The shame is these people are really hurting and help is available if they were to seek it.

      • bit chilly
        September 28, 2014 at 2:04 pm
        Talking of ‘snivelling trolls’ immediately made me think of Chris Colose’s tweets above.

  32. While I love a good ruckus, I feel without a doubt that Anthony made the right play in this case. Let them know you are present, but simply observe. This isn’t a battle to be won in a moment, but rather years. Subtlety still has its place.
    Remember: “It is better to be thought a fool and remain silent, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” Let them make their own bed; they are doing oh-so-well thus far.

  33. i now see it was “no-win” to not even try to ask a question Anthony – Mann now makes it appear that you were intimidated by his presence – so its a choice between 2 no-win situations that every conference goer will have to make himself

    • Not really a smart move for Mann to play the skeptics we’re too scared to “debate” card. He’s painting himself into the corner of having to refuse a debate in a level playing field venue or lose such a debate. Lose – lose for him.
      Bottom line: we’ll be happy to debate them in an objectively moderated debate, but engaging there where they had control of all the cards would have been foolish. Anthony absolutely made the right move. He’s playing chess not checkers.

  34. FWIW –
    We shouldn’t waste much effort on deprogramming a cult. Just as this cult can turn any observed phenomena into support for their “truth,” confronting the leader simply strengthens the leader among the worshipers (as does not confronting him, as recent days have shown).
    In the meantime, RSS readings each month, and tree rings each year, are all (without regard to the existence or welfare of the cult) undermining their belief system.
    That said, there is a moral commitment to this cult that will have members insisting they are right until the day they die. The key thing isn’t to deprogram them – the key thing is to demonstrate to policy makers that these people have no business influencing policy or getting the lion’s share of funding. Not because of good or evil, but because they are wasting time and resources, as observed data vs prediction has aptly demonstrated (and goes substantively undefended – “tin foil” hashtags is all the ammunition they now have.)
    That’s where the focus should be (and largely is, BTW – kudos to Mr Watts for not being baited by Mann) – even responding to Mannisms (except when compelled to in a court) at this point only re-energizes the cult. That there were plenty of empty seats for this megalomaniac (which he can’t admit to) shows that the cult’s attractiveness has peaked. Ignoring them is the best way to contain them. Let the data that keeps showing up in the observational record bury them. Others will quietly distance themselves from the cultists without making public breaks – saves embarrassment of being wrong and also avoids their thuggish countermeasures – so don’t expect anything but quiet, slow abandonment.
    Policy makers in India and China are already convinced (public statements attempting extortion from others will remain, but actions speak louder than words). Western policy makers will find new priorities and should be encouraged to.
    Preaching to the choir here – but stating it nonetheless.

    • It is our moral duty to try to save victims of the cult as we encounter them. They might actually lose some of their anxiety if pointed to real information. Many of them do believe in a Global Warming apocalypse. Poor critters they are mostly.

  35. My question would have been “Dr. Mann would you like some assistance updating your surface temperature plot with data past 2005?”.

    • Mann’s reply: Sir, we’re talking about climate not weather. Climate can only be reasonably evaluated in terms of 30 year periods therefore the mere snippet of time since 2005 is irrelevant to this discussion. Would you like me to explain the greenhouse effect again?
      I can’t think of a single question that couldn’t be twisted in that venue to make Anthony look either foolish, zealous, or corrupt.
      Again, he made the right choice.

  36. Easier to get a ‘full capacity crowd’ when half the seats have to be removed in order to accommodate your Texas-ranch-sized ‘stage’.

    • Keep in mind that a massive stage was necessary, as Dr. Mann had to squeeze his ego onto there along with his bulbous stature.

    • I don’t know that was the case. That may have been an orchestra stage, semi permanent. It did act as a barrier though.

      • It looked weird as heck…Mann bizarro world.
        He could have moved the podium to the front even if the screen had to be left at the back.

  37. Mann bolted from the scene 10 minutes early on the pretext of having “books to sign”, because Lew realised that the next question might have had to come from a sceptic.
    Sitting next to “katabasis’ I can confirm that his hand was held high in an attempt to ask one, but he was deliberately ignored – his “roasting” of Cook a few days earlier might have had something to do with it !
    The big unanswered question is how will Bristol regard Lew from now on, his reputation in Australia is hardly unblemished and as the World’s only “Climate Change Refugee” they must been expecting better things from his two “friends”.

  38. I don’t get this at all.
    “The science is settled / The debate is over”.
    And they’re disappointed there were no serious questions or debate?
    Bless your patience and composure Anthony. Dignity trumps ad homs by a significant margin.

    • How can we mere mortals fathom how the mind of a pretend Noble Laurent works…
      More likely for them and their myopic view, debating “settled science” is their opprotunity for continual back-slapping and smirking.

  39. Look, Mann is trying to destroy people with lawsuits. Mark Steyn fills in for Rush Limbaugh and when he does he has 20 million listeners. There has got to be at least one crazy in that audience, perhaps more. People know Steyn and many respect his genius. Those who love him have got to be angry at Mann for abusing the legal system to silence his critics. God forbid that anyone would do anything stupid and try and do him harm, but if something like that happens, some kind of assault with intent to do bodily harm, would anyone be surprised?
    So of course he has police protection and the air is tense whenever he gives an open forum-type presentation. If he was a true scientist and not an ideologue who uses dubious scientific findings to promote — or rather impose — his agenda, he wouldn’t be having these problems.
    Why ask him a question anyway? He’s got stock phrases and rote answers that help him avoid responding honestly to probing questions. You know what he’s going to say.

  40. So the pretend Nobel Laureate’s ego needs to be protected by a bizzarely formed stage, security and police protection. I am not really sure why Anthony or anyone would want to interect with such a knuckle-dragger. I imagine though if Anthony was able to interact in a respectful, meaningful way with others at the event, it was worthwhile.

  41. Thanks, A. Well said:
    “Probably the most valuable thing we can do, is simply to ignore Dr. Mann and his rants about climate skeptics being tinfoil hat wearers, Koch shills, or deniers. We are none of those.”
    “he has already become irrelevant to the climate debate.”, indeed!

  42. The Irrelevant Mann and his Stick on display. I wonder if Penn State has yet mandated faculty training on Title IX.

  43. Was the venue in the main auditorium or the smaller lecture room? This building houses the music department. I can imagine the use of the platformed stage presenting smaller ensemble performances variously placed on the different levels. The overall size indicates a smaller, intimate performance venue as opposed to a full orchestra auditorium. A fire in the 1930’s apparently gutted the main auditorium of its Greek inspired ornate design and was replaced with a rather stale boring interior. If this is the smaller lecture hall, the speaker would be placing ensembles here and there to demonstrate various musical topics. It would also lend itself to intimate avant garde musical theater.
    It appears that this stage would not be the best venue for scientific lectures. Bristol does have scientific departments and buildings. I wonder why such an odd space was chosen for this lecture.
    By the way Anth***, I noted that Cabot retweeted on your house meeting tweeted by Ed Hawkins.
    http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cabot/

      • Then indeed it was, by all reviews, a poorly remodeled performance auditorium, though meant for musical stage performances. That explains the platforms. Apparently the pre-fire auditorium, also for performances, was quite ornate and possibly larger, built to enhance sound resonance. Greek architecture went the extra mile to enhance performance, all the up to the nosebleed seats. Most modern auditoriums don’t even bother, banking on electronic acoustics to enhance sound. Great if your ears are fine. Not so great if they have to then add FM and wireless loops, leading to “can you hear me now” seating.

  44. its typical of Mann to gloat about not being asked any questions by sceptics and forget to mention is was due to the ‘success’ of the Lewandowsky little tricks with loading the basis.
    For in the world of Mann n BS , outright lies , very poor scientific practice all those and more are justified if they feed his universe sized ego.

  45. My question for Mann would have been:
    “Now that the global temperature Pause is 17-plus years and climbing, have you filled out your McDonald’s job application yet?”

  46. My opinion, not that it matters any, is that the big question that should have been asked, even by the softball crowd is:
    “Given the huge fee paid for Mann’s public speaking events, surely Mann is expected to earn his fee by presenting the audience information about current events using current data?”
    From this seat it appears that the Cabot Institute and their interested audience have been defrauded for all costs incurred by Mann; including special accommodations for attendees.
    Was Manniacal flown there and put up in a hotel by the Cabot Institute? Just that cost alone deserves more than just the physical presence of pompous fools regurgitating old presentations, running interface for the speaker or shills asking pretend questions.
    Kudos to Cabot Institute and all skeptics who attended!
    What a difference in culture, class and general politeness those skeptics demonstrated compared against the childish antics of the alarmists who also happened to be there. It is clear who the actual gentlemen and ladies of culture truly are.

  47. Let’s be honest here, in case this hasn’t already been mentioned, any question from one of the skeptics in the audience would have been science and data based and neither Mann nor Cook was prepared for anything of that nature.

  48. Mann et al all have huge egos that need to be fed by publicity both positive and negative. By not asking any questions at the lecture you did more damage than by asking. The police protection is a part of the ego stroking. During the lecture you might have noticed a slight hissing sound, it wasn’t static in your headset, it was his ego deflating.

  49. All the wrong questions are being asked , why did Mann elect not to interact with quest of his so called presentation ?

  50. The talk was not about the science of climate, but about “Climate Wars”. It seems that Mann is trying to capitalize on the controversy created by himself. Questioning him would only provide advertising for his lame lecture. Mann and his cronies must have spent hours planning responses to questions that never came. I’m glad they wasted their time.

  51. I’m going to be the voice of dissent here. Anth_ny, your first reason makes no sense. If Lew didn’t call on you, you’d have nothing to worry about. Reasons 2 and 3 would have played into your hands. I doubt that Lew or Mann would have done any such thing. We may not like them, but they aren’t stupid. A disingenuous attack such as you describe would have gotten them a shellacking for the simple reason that you get the last word, right here on this site, and debunking claims such as those would be trivial. Had they tried such tactics, I’m of the opinion that it would have been an “own goal” when the dust settled over the next week.
    As for reason number 4, this can be defused. Simply preface any question you may pose by noting that you have a hearing impairment and would appreciate that being kept in mind, then ask your question. Any attempt to take advantage of your hearing impairment in responding would have reflected poorly on them, and again, you get the last word here on your blog. They’d look like slime at best.
    Lastly, this is a long drawn out war, no need to win it in a single battle or even a single skirmish. Part of the strategy is not necessarily score points on the first engagement, but to evaluate the other side’s response strategy. So, throw him a soft one next time, not because you want to expose some weakness in his position, but to see how he deals with it. For example, if you had raised your hand and Lew had ignored you, we’d know that’s what the strategy is for next time. Or you get called upon, and ask a real easy one, like does he think that updating his graphs from 2005 to current would change any of his conclusions. Pitch him three or four soft ones like that over the course of the next few encounters over the next few years and he’ll stop seeing you as an immediate threat, he’ll let his guard down….and that’s when you nail him with a doozy.
    Me, I would asked how he felt about his talk being moderated by someone who recently had a paper withdrawn for breach of ethics…. but that’s me, born trouble maker, and probably best that I don’t show up at these things 😉

    • davidmhoffer,
      I almost always agree with your analyses, but this time I agree with Anthony. He was in a no-win situation with Lewandowsky in that position.
      Since Mann and Lewandowsky knew Anthony was in the country and would be there, you must know that they heavily strategized all possible scenarios, including the ones you mentioned. I would have, and I think you would have, too.
      They completely controlled the venue. There is no doubt that they “worked with” Cabot on exactly how it would all come down. Cabot wanted Mann for it’s bragging rights, so they deferred to whatever he wanted regarding questions. It isn’t any different from when one of Mann’s ‘investigating’ committees allowed him to huddle with committee members beforehand, to formulate the questions he would be asked. Then of course, he was “exonerated”. <–[Mann's term]
      No, it was a no-win. Under the circumstances, Anthony handled it the only way that made sense. Rocky Road had about the only workable strategy for asking questions:
      Anthony, you should have raised your hand and asked if you could take a bathroom break.
      They were ready for anything else.

      • Since Mann and Lewandowsky knew Anthony was in the country and would be there, you must know that they heavily strategized all possible scenarios, including the ones you mentioned. I would have, and I think you would have, too.
        Of course they did. The point of throwing a softball question at them is to expose what the strategy is. Every insight one gains into their strategy by evaluating their response informs the next encounter. With skill and patience you can get the enemy to not only expose his strategy to you, but tell you exactly where he thinks the chinks in his armour are.

      • But, if you lob them a softball, and they hit it out of the park, you have just lent legitimacy to their cause. Next day headline: Mann Demolishes Prominent Skeptic’s Attempt To Disrupt Climate Presentation.

      • Nature is on our side, and they are floundering against it. Never interfere with an enemy while he’s in the process of destroying himself.

      • I bet there was a second interesting dinner meeting before the talk with Mann, Lew, et al about how to run the meeting and who would ask what questions. Anthony’s meeting would have been the much more productive one.

      • Did you ever see Steve Martin ask the bathroom question in the movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. It probably wouldn’t have been wise for Anthony to ask that question but somebody should have.

  52. “Probably the most valuable thing we can do, is simply to ignore Dr. Mann and his rants about climate skeptics being tinfoil hat wearers, Koch shills, or deniers. We are none of those.”
    Mann is so famous now he is a skeptic’s best antagonist, and a younger generation of skeptics needs to shout to the rafters out of turn as required about his support of the bladeless input data Marcott 2013 hockey stick that destroys his ability to bury hockey stick criticism in black box minutea. Pacifism is defeatism. You are declaring a general surrender, here, just as the culture warriors are going on the offensive like mad, to keep their dying show on the road for another election cycle or two. You own timid outlook was a personal and reasonable thing, but projecting it onto tens of thousands of regular blog readers is why news sites are still lacking many seasoned skeptics to strongly and morally counter propoganda. Most are safely behind enemy lines, preaching to the choir. Twitter becons, and VICE.com, and Gizmodo.com, and BoingBoing.com, and especially Phys.org. I’m the solitary person exposing Mann’s support of Marcott 2013. How can that be? Well, we see part of the reason in you call to now ignore Mann!

  53. I think something seems to be on it’s head here. Mann had the advantage. Mr.W was a sitting duck and potentially could have been caused a lot of credibility damage. So the issue is not so much why Mr. W did not put Mann down, but one has to wonder why Mann didn’t take full advantage of the best possible opportunity he is likely ever to have, to score maximum points. It seems he was more than a little shy to engage,
    So now that he has expressed his disappointment that a meaningful debate with the Sceptics didn’t happen, I suppose he will be glad to accept an invitation to a properly organised meeting… or is his bravery only when he’s at a safe distance.
    Thanks Anthony for keeping us informed. Best goes to you.
    Eamon.

    • Eamon,
      I agree. Mann had complete and total advantage in this particular venue. “Pick your battles” is wise advice. So is fighting on your own turf. At Cabot, Anthony had neither advantage. It would have been stupid to engage there, IMHO.
      The upshot of the whole thing is that Mann is clearly frustrated. Not a bad outcome, under the circumstances.

  54. I can offer a neutral ground in Spain. Here nobody worries about global warming.
    Question: does “and then there’s physics” work at Cabot? I chat with this person and have taken to calling him Andy, but if he’s a famous dude then I’ll call him Dr There.

  55. Stalin said – Keep your friends close, keep your enemies even closer.
    Judging by the pics it is clear that Mann has no enemies.
    😉

  56. I agree asking sceptical questions in the Q&A format is unlikely to be productive. There seems to be lots of talk of a proper debate, personally I wouldn’t even debate. My approach would be more like Columbo’s engineer cousin. They hold all the cards, more knowledge and data, they are the professionals working with climate science all day year after year so I know I would be totally out of my depth, they would have all the answers to sceptical questions, a debate could go either way and might depend more on the debating skills or speed of thought of those involved (being the professionals, they will likely have more practice at looking at the data etc and therefore greater speed of thought in this situation to defend or attack) and very likely this won’t allow us to get to the truth.
    I don’t know they are wrong, for all I know they are right, but what they say doesn’t make sense to me, it might be because I misunderstand, or things I don’t know, so it’s more a question of digging by asking them questions, being on their side admitting I’m probably stupid, getting them to explain, explain to them why I am confused and seeing how they deal with my confusions. If they are wrong, in trying to explain it to this unintelligent person the penny may drop.

    • Best of luck. I have been vilified and mocked, censured and blocked, despite being the epitome of politeness on a state run blog, no less. You will find many here will happily answer your questions. Tells me all I need to know about who is telling the real story..

      • Precisely. “You will know them by their fruits”
        Which side has to delete, censure, block, ridicule, manipulate and edit comments… but what is most damning is if you, with no ulterior motives, with genuine curiosity ask for something to be cleared up, and get major blowback. Then you try to make it clear you’re not trying to be argumentative, but genuinely want some clarification on a subject. Then *bam* you get banned. They deliberately over complicate the issue to obfuscate the glaring inconsistencies with their pet conjecture. They’ll use an experts knowledge of highly technical details to throw in spurious data and red herrings…then only an equally knowledgeable skeptic will have to come along to dispel the excess garbage and get down to the truly relevant issue. (They *hate* when that happens) So yes, thank God for sites like this.

  57. I don’t get this, our side has all the chips and all the Aces but isn’t willing to play even one hand, and then we wonder why they think they are winning.

    • The problem is, we aren’t playing the same game, nor for the same goals. They’re playing Fizzbin, where aces count for whatever they say they do. Fortunately, our partner is reality, and it’s holding all the trumps, and has begun playing them.

      • The only rule to the game they are playing is “Win at at any cost.” The main rule we are playing by is “be fair and tell the truth.” When one plays Win at at any cost, then the winning move isn’t don’t play the winning move is destroy your enemy before he even know he is your enemy. That is how you win at Terminal Nuclear War. In other encounters Anthony has asked questions along the lines of “where do we agree?” That is how to play by the rule”be nice and tell the truth,” but it won’t win at Terminal Nuclear War. The only way to win with their rules is to at least understand that there is an enemy, and unlike Pogo it is them. The next step is destroy them at any cost.

      • You just can’t win that way. It is too easy to obfuscate and confuse the issues, and the media are on their side, and happy to explain to the public that the obfuscations and confusions are legitimate “science”.
        The more we let the facts speak for themselves, without providing theater, the better off we will be. Theatrics is their forte, and you never should engage your enemy on ground of his choosing.

      • tomwtrevor
        September 28, 2014 at 6:20 pm
        “The only rule to the game they are playing is “Win at at any cost.” The main rule we are playing by is “be fair and tell the truth.” When one plays Win at at any cost, then the winning move isn’t don’t play the winning move is destroy your enemy before he even know he is your enemy. That is how you win at Terminal Nuclear War. ”
        Well I thought it’s thermonuclear war; and somehow your idea about it doesn’t work if the enemy has nukes on submarines.

  58. IMHO, asking questions of a person known to be dishonest is about as sensible as trying to empty the Pacific with a fork.
    kudos to you for acting like an adult, which obviously infuriated the children in the room.

  59. Anthony Watts did not need to ask a question. Mann didn’t present anything new. All the questions related to the lecture have been asked and thoroughly discussed on WUWT. Better than a question was the live presence and a first-person report of the lecture presented by Anthony on the most widely viewed climate blog in the world.

  60. I like to think that just having AW, one of his most prominent critics, in the audience would have discomfited Mann more than he would ever admit. He might have been relieved that he didn’t get a question. This is of course speculation, but leads me to think suspect that just being Chief Sitting Bull was quite enough at that time. There will be other occasions to raise the flag and advance on the enemy.
    But I have to admit that, had I been there, I’d have hoped for some fireworks.
    /Mr Lynn

  61. The man(n) calls you a dXXXXr. Until he withdraws such words there is no reason to ask him questions or debate with him.
    The audience itself looks small and the most of them have made up their minds about where they stand on the issue of Mann’s contribution to science. However good your question, and however well received, the chances of many minds being changed were slim.
    It seems you had this opportunity to talk with real scientists who still believe in CAGW. That this happened was a big event, and one that could bear fruit in future. If you had been confrontational you would have perhaps frightened them away. Mann would have been very upset to know that after his presentation you were having super with people who he thought were your enemies and his friends.

  62. Jeez Anthony, why didn’t they just put up the mesh screens in front of the band that you get at Biker and Cowboy bars…..:-)

  63. It seems like you did the thing with dignity, Anthony.
    Seeing has Kim hasn’t yet commented on this thread, I’ll also have to post this:

    Get on up
    Stay on the scene
    Go to Bristol
    Like a Koch Machine

  64. “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde.
    Seems appropriate for this article and Mann’s current dilemma.
    BTW: A well known quote for those not familiar with quotes.

  65. Anthony’s question to Mister Mann was, according to my Super X-ray Guessing Powers, was:
    “Which of the 52 explanations for the pause in global warming do you favour? Are you a Deep Ocean Heat guy? A No-Pause guy? A Bad Luck guy? … “

  66. Anthony,
    Kudos for being an adult. Mann and Lew probably wasted hours and lost a lot of sleep prepping for your potential questions. An FOIA for their related emails would be interesting…😄
    I recently attended a local gun rights townhall and the pro-gun control staff had written questions on 3×5 cards that they handed out to their supporters. Some didn’t even try to memorize the questions but read them off the cards. The Moderator seemingly managed to give time to EVERY person with a card. He did take questions from the other side but the bias was obvious.
    I just jumped over to Sou’s website to take a look, WOW…. You must have put something in her Cheerios a while back to get that level of an attack.

  67. What is the point of asking a question that, no matter how on point the question is, it will receive a pointless answer.
    Mann has had many opportunities to prove he is a honest person/scientist and he has NEVER taken advantage of the opportunity.
    The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, especially when that past behaviour is repeated over and over again. There is no point is expecting something else.

  68. Anthony,
    I think you showed a very reasonably circumspect behavior in the University of Bristol lecture hall before, during and after the Mann lecture and Q&A. Well done. It is what I had hoped for.
    I do not know what to make of Mann’s apparent solitude prior to his lecture. Who knows what was going on? He could quite naturally have wanted to gather his thoughts before his lecture and asked for solitude to do so. It could be no one wanted his company. It may also have been to encourage an impression to the audience that he was available to be approached before the lecture and he could have been looking for the possibility of unsolicited approach by a critic where security could make a show of chaperoning the critic and have some level of showy intervention to guard Mann. Or he just may have been too self-consciously insecure with the critics in the audience to mingle with the audience before the lecture. We will not know, I guess.
    John

  69. Not asking questions at a presentation/lecture is hardly surprising. What surprises me is how little outreach there seemed to have been. If I had been able to go, I’d have probably tried to print up informational pamphlets to hand out to the attendees. Michael Mann’s talking points are well known. It would have been easy to draw up simple responses to a number of them. I’d do that then hand them out at the door as people enter. Having done that, people listening to his lecture could look in the pamphlet as he hits those talking points and see the other side of the disputes.
    There’s no way anyone could prevent that. They can’t stop people from disseminating pamphlets/pieces of paper to attendees. And if they did try? It’d be hilarious. Imagine the stories you could write if they asked you to leave/required you stop. Not only that, but I’m sure the attendees would wonder why you were being prevented, meaning they’d pay even more attention to however many you managed to hand out.
    The only practical reason to ask a question at an event like this is outreach. You aren’t likely to get a useful answer. The best you can hope for is to get the audience to think. If they won’t let you try via asking questions, try a different way. There are many other ways to reach out to an audience.

  70. This is getting creepy. My posts are all being stuck onto the bottom of this thread even though my time stamps are earlier in the day than other commenters’.

  71. Not asking a question was a mistake. You could have at very least just asked him what, at minimum, would have to happen to, in his opinion, falsify the notion that global average surface temperatures are rising.

    • He would never even have got a chance , the dog and pony show made sure only the ‘rigth questions ‘ where made . To given them credit they at least know how to work as snake oil salesman .

  72. Mann comes across as an incredibly easy to dislike person, to put things as politely as possible (not that he deserves it, just trying to maintain a degree of civility, unlike Mann).

  73. Seems to me that the WUWT contingent provided sufficient “negative” energy to foil Mann’s self-aggrandizing play for celebrity and adulation. Polite listening is a slap in the face to a media Wh0re who seeks constant approval.
    Quiet listening is BETTER than “dambing by faint praise”.
    Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
    And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
    Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
    Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.
    — “Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot” by Alexander Pope (1688–1744)[5]
    Good Job. I hope he get more of it.

  74. To speak or not to speak. Part of the motive behind vilifying anyone who has a contrary opinion, by ad-hominem attacks, or use of derogatory stereotypes, is to silence criticism. And it does work. Mr. Mann indulges in this form of degenerate, superficial rhetoric, in essence because he knows he has lost the argument. Amusingly, on his Facebook page he calls James Delingpol a clown and then cries fowl about anyone making inflammatory or defamatory comment about climate scientists! Mr. Mann also refers to you, Anthony, and the other attendees to his lecture as a ‘crowd’. Mr. Mann, Mr. Mann, it’s an audience, not a crowd. They all wanted to be there to hear the lecture. A crowd is what you get at a railway station, they are just passing through; or is that truly Mr. Mann’s opinion of the people who attend his lectures, they are just passing through, he has no real engagement with them.

  75. Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann,
    Instead of lecturing nonsense, why don’t you debate Lindzen or Singer? Afraid? Do you deny your hockey stick was declared flawed by Wegman’s team of statisticians? Do you deny “Mike’s trick to hide the decline?” Shameful. How do you sleep at night? Face thicker than crocodile scales.

  76. Speaking of questions:
    Someone should ask Chris Colose to explain why he “….does not like to “argue/discuss using the whole 97% line anyway….”.

  77. Very, very well-played.
    Everything about the event (the distance, the police, the tense atmosphere, the QA screening) conveyed profound insecurity. So did the subject of the lecture — not so much about science as it was about “the war with the deniers.”
    Suddenly, with nature herself driving changes in public opinion, they need to “win” big-name public encounters far more than we do. And their behavior clearly demonstrates that they are aware of it. Leave it to the skeptical undergrads to publicly humiliate the likes of Mann every time he steps out of a tightly controlled environment. AW is winning, and he is simply behaving like he knows it — and that is why they seem so irked at the lack of public questions.

  78. Message to geronimo September 28, 2014 at 1:40 pm
    Climate sceptics do not ‘believe’ – they are scientists who find out, study and decide. ‘Climate change’ believers are pseudo scientists.

  79. “This “buffer zone” is hilarious…”
    You do realize that the venue is primarily used for music recitals and that is where the orchestra sits right?

    • So what; why couldn’t the lecturer talk from the front of the podium, nearer to his audience (or ‘crowd’ as he called it)?

  80. I was seated in the front row about 8 feet from Prof Ledanowsky with my hand up as soon as the Q&A session started. I was hoping to ask Prof Mann about how he determined scientifically if extreme events were linked to climate change, but apparently they were running out of time after only a few questions, curiously only questions that supported Mann/AGW. My own plots on control charts suggest that the UK weather is just that. They are on my website, any observations welcome.

  81. Your reasons for not asking any question seem sound given that the chair was hardly impartial. It would’ve been only frustrating; as I’m sure Mann would’ve been given the last word and an opportunity to make unchallenged accusations for each questioned asked.
    Additionally, Mann seems to have little class, by showing him the respect that he fails to give to others I think you come across in much better light than he does.
    On a separate point, if a private meeting can be made between climate scientists on either side of the debate why can’t an open workshop or conference be organised which the more rational members of the climate community. Dare I say it, if funding is an issue perhaps donations could be given. A video of such a meeting would prove very valuable in the future at communicating the degree of uncertainty in this area of science.

    • I quite agree. What might have happened if that abominable Mann had addressed during his lecture Anthony Watts directly, explicitly asking him to put a question?
      But, alas, that Mann hasn’t that courage. I presume, he has a whole gallery of sekeletons he is desperately trying to hide in his cupboards. Small fry, that Mann.

  82. Siberian_husky September 29, 2014 at 12:20 am
    “This “buffer zone” is hilarious…”
    You do realize that the venue is primarily used for music recitals and that is where the orchestra sits right?
    ============================================
    So why not present the lecture from the front then?

      • E.M.Smith on September 29, 2014 at 5:57 am
        – – – – – – – –
        E.M.Smith,
        Yes.
        When the orchestra is playing on the platform one would expect there would be ~3 or ~4 dozen chairs there that the orchestra members are sitting on.
        So, putting dozens of audience chairs there for Mann’s lecture wouldn’t have any issue at all from logistics, fire safety or floor loading point of view.
        John

  83. An actual mathematical formula that produces accurate results doesn’t need defending by dog-and-pony shows.

  84. I’m not really sure whats the point of the article – its about scientists not science and can’t see its any way useful. Michael Mann’s an idiot and I’m a good guy seems to be the message to the already converted – cannot we not leave this personality stuff out of it or maybe have separate gossip and bitch section. Getting into all this personality stuff moves away from the science and that’s what those still trying to push the dangerous man-made climate change message thrive on.
    The debate is not about whether Anthony Watts has a stronger personality or is cleverer than Michael Mann – lets just keep to the science.

    • “lets just keep to the science.”
      Tell that to Mann. The guy is lying, manipulating, insulting and threatening all those with a different view. How do you ‘just keep to the science’ with a psychopath and chronic liar?

  85. For as long as they call people names and do their best to belittle people there will never be any room for reconciliation in this arena, the worst proponents would do their best to stifle any debate between scientists on both sides of the fence.
    If the AGW crowd were less aggressive they may even get more people on their side. In the UK the conservatives lost my vote the moment they called UKIP voters racist- they are not, Cameron actually insulted a lot of their core vote. There will be no reconciliation until Cameron apologises. Likewise for the likes of Mann et al.

  86. The reason I sent that was that in my opinion, for climate skeptics, almost any public interaction with Dr. Mann would be a “no-win” situation.

    I agree w/that, Anth*ny. The guy has proven he simply can’t respond rationally to an “adverse” question.

  87. Mr. Watts was absolutely right. Remember it was a lecture not a debate. Not asking a question is the right tactic. Most experienced lecturers expect and prepare for a difficult question and have a ready-made put down. Since the questioner is usually, at most, permitted one supplemental and would, almost certainly, not have been prepared for the put down, asking a question plays into the hands of the lecturer.
    Very, very rarely does a questioner come up with an original unanticipated killer question in the first instance or a humorous, off the cuff response to the put down in the second instance, these being the only two ways to score points in such a situation.

  88. Looks to me like Mann had a bit of paranoia. Podium to audience distance set just out of tomato range. Police (and lawyers?) At the ready…
    I’ve seen this in other combative (marginal authoritative paranoid) personality types. Or maybe it was just his security advisers… a lot of that going around these days…

  89. Security guards???? Were they there so that the “true believers” didn’t do the Marie Antonette on the “evil folks” as Anthony???
    I’ve been to many scientific and engineering conferences. Never seen (aside from Hotel security, which is generic) a “security guard” at a lecture.
    Can we say PARANOID?

  90. Good post, good explanation, and as satisfying a grand confrontation would be, you are likely correct to have not played into Mann’s tinfoil hat mentality.

  91. I don’t know if anyone else brought it up, but last week, NPR had an on-air piece about science and the communication of difficult scientific topics to the lay-person. The supposed star communicator for complex science was, you guessed it, Michael Mann. Generally, I like NPR stuf, but they have a real blind spot on the topic of global warming, and always favor the hard core guys like Michael Mann and James Hansen, vs, say the better communicators and bridge builders like Judith Curry or even Richard Mueller.
    PS. Sorry i haven’t been around much…. Have been extremely busy with work and music and stuff!

  92. Mr Watts, having found myself in a similar situation – having my actions and inactions picked apart by someone determined to find fault with them albeit on a much smaller stage – I have one recommendation.
    Brevity. This post is much wordier than the explanation I would have given if I were in your shoes.
    A simple, “I wanted to hear what he had to say. At the time, I didn’t think he had said anything he hasn’t said before, and since I really don’t have any questions he hasn’t heard (and refused to answer) before, I just didn’t think it would be a productive exercise; far better to listen and learn.” would have sufficed.
    And I implore you to stop being so defensive about your hearing disability! You have a fine mind, and decent people recognize the need for special accommodation hinders you when it comes to attending public events in person. I’m sure had you not concluded that interacting face to face with someone as spiteful as Mr Mann, the disability wouldn’t have prevented you from raising your hand, and had you not *had* the disability, you probably still would have chosen to remain mum. Thus the disability is really irrelevant.

  93. Sorry, I don’t have time to read to the end, so apologies if I reiterate a point made already by someone. Now that I have seen what the venue was like, it is obvious to me that someone (who?) convinced the Cabot Institute that Mann was under credible threat of bodily harm, for which the natural protections were (1) keeping the audience away from reaching Mann, and (2) providing police protection at the book-signing. It fits into the “We had to do that because…” fantasy. It would be a stretch to think that the Cabot Institute may have felt foolish about this beforehand, but not impossible for them to feel so, afterward. Paranoia? Melodrama? Delusions of grandeur? Self-righteousness? I would guess….Mussolini? (Nah, not nearly so handsome.)

  94. I believe Anthony was quite right not to attempt to ask any questions. Dr Mann’s presentation shows that he has little to say on climate, but plenty of opinions on other matters. The great hockey-stick maestro fails to perform or inform.
    John Cook’s presentation may not have anything substantially new, but did summarize his arguments. Along with the question and answer session, those were unfamiliar with his work would have learnt something. My impression from the muted applause was one of falling far short of the billing – “Dogma vs. consensus: Letting the evidence speak on climate change.”

  95. Hi Anthony –
    Your intelligent, gentlemanly approach to the Mann lecture is admirable. . . and furthermore, you don’t need to justify or explain your actions to ANYONE!
    Best regards
    Dan

  96. I don’t think it was odd to have university police. I see them around regularly when I go on campuses.
    I attribute this to all of the college shootings.

    • I was a professor early and late in my career and participated-in and attended many such symposia; but none of these events ever involved police (campus or otherwise). Then again, these symposia involved real science and engineering and were not focused on politics!
      Best
      Dan

  97. Well, if it had actually been a scientific presentation, then I suppose A*nth**y might have had reason to ask a scientific question. If the graph stops in 2005, then Mann’s science stopped in 2005. No science; no questions.

  98. What fun it would have been had Mark Steyn also been there, quietly sitting on the front row, with a great big toothy grin the whole time.

  99. Travel about halfway around the globe, just to miss the perfect alignment of all the conditions for the best nap time ever!
    That lighting!
    Huge cushions on the seating!
    Mann talking!
    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  100. You played it correctly Anthony.
    With Dr. Gatekeeper Lew directing traffic you wouldn’t have got anywhere that day.

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