Climate scientist Michael Mann wins defamation suit over comparison to molester, jury decides


WASHINGTON (AP) — A jury on Thursday in Washington D.C. said climate scientist Michael Mann was defamed 12 years ago when a pair of conservative writers compared his depictions of global warming to a convicted child molester.

Mann, a professor of climate science at the University of Pennsylvania, rose to fame for a graph first published in 1998 in the journal Nature that was dubbed the “hockey stick” for its dramatic illustration of a warming planet.

The work brought Mann wide exposure but also many skeptics, including the two writers that Mann took to court for attacks that he said affected his career and reputation in the U.S. and internationally.

In 2012, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank, published a blog post by Rand Simberg that compared investigations into Mann’s work by Penn State University to the case of Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach who was convicted of sexually assaulting multiple children.

Mann’s research was investigated after his and other scientists’ emails were leaked in 2009 in an incident known as “Climategate” that brought further scrutiny of the “hockey stick” graph, with skeptics claiming Mann manipulated data. Investigations by Penn State and others, including The Associated Press’ examination of the emails, found no misuse of data by Mann, but his work continued to draw attacks, particularly from conservatives.

“Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except for instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data,” Simberg wrote. Another writer, Mark Steyn, later referenced Simberg’s article in his own piece in National Review, calling Mann’s research “fraudulent.”

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