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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Defamation is not ok. Deniers beware

Defamation is not ok

Ever since global warming deniers finally realized they had lost the scientific debate in the 1990s, their political campaign has grown increasingly ugly.  Most deniers gave up all pretense of an evidence-based argument long ago, and have declared all-out ad hominemwar on mainstream scientists involved in climate research.  They don’t present actual evidence, and they don’t publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals.  All they seem capable of doing is slinging mud and engaging in personal attacks aimed at undermining scientists and the scientific enterprise. They don’t like the message, so they attack the messenger.
This is the method embraced by William E. Keller of Santa Fe, who continues to claim that Artic sea ice is recovering, even though this assertion has been directly discredited by the very scientists whose data he cites.
Keller has presented no scientific data to support his anti-global-warming theories, but has repeatedly vilified scientists who have done research and published results he disagrees with.   He even emailed me a list this week of scientists whom he accuses of committing criminal acts, scientific fraud, and misconduct.  His sources of information?  A Wall Street Journal opinion piece and an article in something he calls the “UK Telegraph.”
It is wrong to spread false rumors, and such behavior can constitute civil or criminal defamation.  Keller and others who engage in defamatory rhetoric need to take heed.   Tim Ball, a high-profile denier who works for a right-wing Canadian pressure group called the Frontier Centre, recently suggested to an interviewer that Prof. Michael Mann – a prominent climate scientist – should be imprisoned for scientific fraud.
Richard Littlemore announced today that Mann is now suing Ball for libel.
Deniers beware.  When you make up stuff about people, spread gossip, and try to ruin careers, you can be sued.  It will be expensive, and you might lose.

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