Yay yay yay yay. I’m sick of yahoos thinking that science is just a belief system and getting away with intimidating researchers.
Also, “Skeptic” is REALLY used inappropriately here. Are there any ideologues worse than climate change deniers? I think I would rather deal with creationists. I left a comment on Mother Jones linking to the Media Guide to Skepticism.
In 2012—after writers for National Review and a prominent conservative think tank accused him of fraud and compared him to serial child molester Jerry Sandusky—climate scientist Michael Mann took the bold step of filing a defamation suit. The defendants moved to have the case thrown out, citing a Washington, DC, law that shields journalists from frivolous litigation. But on Wednesday, DC Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg rejected the motion, opening the way for a trial.
Although public figures like Mann have to clear a high bar to prove defamation, Weisberg argued that the scientist’s complaint may pass the test. And he brushed aside the defendants’ claims that the fraud allegations were “pure opinion,” which is protected by the First Amendment…
The ruling notes:
In context, it would not be unreasonable for a reader to interpret the comment, and the republication in National Review, as an allegation that Dr. Mann had committed scientific fraud, which Penn State University then covered up, just as some had accused the University of covering up the Sandusky scandal. For many of the reasons discussed in Judge Combs Greene’s July 19 orders, to state as a fact that a scientist dishonestly molests or tortures data to serve a political agenda would have a strong likelihood of damaging his reputation within his profession, which is the very essence of defamation.”
However, things are more complicated… as usual.