Mike Mann Defamation Update: The Unbearable Weirdness of Denial.

July 25, 2012

Normally, I try to stay out of the weeds of “inside baseball” conflicts between denialists and, well, sane people, but in this case, given Mike Mann’s recent call-out of the latest lunacy, I think it’s germane to get an update on a related situation that’s been simmering under the radar.

Big City Lib brings us this strange item:

It looks like Tim Ball’s legal defense in the defamation suit brought against him by climate scientist Michael Mann has gone entirely off the rails. Its a long story, and one that I must admit fell off the radar for me to the point where I didn’t realize how weird it was all getting.

It began back in March of 2011, when Ball accused Mann of scientific misconduct for his role in what has come to be known as “Climategate”.  Mann launched a defamation suit, and Ball turned for legal advice to one John O’Sullivan, co-author and driving force behind Slaying The Sky Dragona book purporting to “expose the climate fraud”.  You’ve heard it all before; the only thing distinguishing Sky Dragon from other similar titles was its sheer awfulness; not even the skeptic friendly Judith Curry could get behind its theories.

In any case, O’Sullivan went about his duties with great enthusiasm.  Here he is, for example, soliciting funds for Tim Ball’s defense at Anthony Watts blog.  Similar pleas for cash dating from the same time-frame can be found elsewhere.  More recently, O’Sullivan joined the chorus of people who have compared Mann to fellow Penn State luminary  Jerry Sandusky.

However, a couple of days ago, science journalist Andrew A. Skolnick left the following comment on Michael Mann’s facebook page:

It’s depressingly hilarious that one of the loudest-mouthed crackpots “linking” Prof. Mann to “pedophiles” is a former school teacher whose career ended in scandal almost a decade ago following his arrest and trial for sending dozens of obscene text messages to a 16-y-o school girl. Former high school art teacher John O’Sullivan was acquitted after his step-daughter testified she had sent the obscene messages — testimony that the judge said he did not find fully credible. O’Sullivan then published an autobiographical novel (titled “Vanilla Girl”) in which he defends what he called “kiddie fiddling” — I kid you not.*

Now, the thing with it is, he’s not kidding.  Every point in the above has been thoroughly documented, even the last bit.  For example, this series of emails traces the laborious process by which Mr. Skolnick confirmed that O’Sullivan purchased his law degree  from “Hill University”, an on-line diploma mill that sells any degree in any field with a “promised delivery in just 14 days!”  Here is a brief account of O’Sullivan’s trial, and if you are so inclined, Vanilla Girl can be found through Google.But wait!  There’s more!  And it gets even weirder!
Skolnick next took O’Sullivan to The Law Society of British Columbia for representing himself as a consultant with Pearlman Lindholm, Tim Ball’s real lawyers.  The society then opened an investigation into Michael Scherr of Pearlman Lindholm for allowing  an unauthorized person to practice law.  Here’s the result of that investigation;  the society accepted Scherr’s contention that O’Sullivan worked for Ball, not the firm and, well, Scherr just assumed the guy was a lawyer.  I’ll give Mr. Skolnick the last word: I should point out how funny I find Mr. Scherr’s explanation to the Law Society. He admits to having handed out money from Ball’s legal defense fund to O’Sullivan for his “consulting” services, but states that O’Sullivan was working for Ball, not for his law firm and that he “took no steps to investigate Mr. O’Sullivan’s professional status.” 
So here he was paying someone who didn’t know the name of the court that is hearing the case (in his published comments O’Sullivan kept calling it the “Vancouver Supreme Court”), someone who didn’t know where the law firm he was helping is located (he repeatedly claimed it’s in Vancouver, a two-hour drive from Victoria, where it’s actually located), and someone who didn’t seem to know that the name of the PLAINTIFF ALWAYS comes first in the title of a law suit (O’Sullivan called it “Tim Ball vs. Michael Mann). And Mr. Scherr never thought to inquire about Mr. O’Sullivan’s credentials? How very funny.
So what’s the take-away message?  I dunno.  That within denier circles they bullshit one another as thoroughly as they do the general public?  That anyone can practice this law thingy in B.C.?  We can definitely conclude that Tim Ball’s legal fees have been going up a bit recently.PS. A quick note. As several people have noted, you can’t actually drive from Vancouver to Victoria, as it is located on Vancouver Island.  The car ferry you take over does take about two hours to get there (1 hour 40 minutes to be more precise).  I’m not sure if that’s what Skolnick meant to say or not.
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38 Responses to “Mike Mann Defamation Update: The Unbearable Weirdness of Denial.”


  1. Yes. That’s what I meant. I estimated that it was a 2 hour “drive” — if you don’t get out of your car when you drive onto the ferry boat 🙂

  2. omnologos Says:

    Having had my share of angry exchanges with the Sky Dragon, I can only hope this episode will open a few minds to the reality that there is no such a thing as a ‘denial circle’ uniting everybody not convinced about upcoming climate catastrophes

    • guylacrosse Says:

      Regardless of if there is a ‘denial circle’ or not anyone who advocates delaying action or trying to cast doubt on accepted science are just as much of a threat to the future of civilization as the Sky Dragon. They might be slightly less scummy but they are still a bad influence.

      • omnologos Says:

        Obviously a threat to civilization itself cannot tolerate dissent or free thinking….

        Where from have I heard this one already 8-(

        • guylacrosse Says:

          There’s valid scientific dissent (with evidence) and there’s just plain fraud (without evidence). Most of what we’ve seen so far from the deniers is casting doubt on accepted climate science without any supporting evidence. That is fraud and the implications of that are extremely dangerous.

          • agfosterjr Says:

            There is not a competent scientist on the planet who takes this climate paranoia seriously. Just start with the sea level hype: 2-3mm/year, steady increase over 80 years; no rise in the most recent years. Mann and his fellow nincompoops turn this into certain future catastrophe. There are no intelligent non-deniers.
            –AGF

          • livinginabox Says:

            agfosterjr Says:

            July 27, 2012 at 4:06 pm 0 5 Rate This
            ….There is not a competent scientist on the planet who takes this climate paranoia seriously. Just start with the sea level hype: 2-3mm/year, steady increase over 80 years; no rise in the most recent years. …

            No source cited. Mmmm, I wonder why? Is somebody hiding something?
            Let’s looks at the evidence, it’s clear.

            Thanks for the cherry-picked drivel.

            http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

  3. skeptictmac57 Says:

    “That anyone can practice this law thingy in B.C.?”

    Maybe not ‘practice’ law,but deniers around the world think they know enough about law to go around carelessly accusing climate scientists of ‘fraud’ and ‘libel’ without the slightest hesitancy.


  4. Thanks. It’s weirder than a Hollywood movie.

  5. Pete Ridley Says:

    Hi folks,

    You may not be aware that according to an E-mail that I received on 30th April Tim Ball said in his E-mail of 26th April) that ” .. I was made aware of the charges against O’Sullivan almost from the start.
    I checked as much as possible because as Fred (Singer) is painfully aware there are a lot of deviously clever people who spin stories knowing that once it is on the web it has legs. My lawyer has also down extensive checks. It was said, a lie is halfway round the world before the truth has its boots on.
    With the internet it is all round the world from a multitude of sources before the truth is booted.

    I legally disassociated myself from O’Sullivan very early and though he provided commentary he never acted as legal counsel.

    I cannot disconnect myself from the book (Slaying the Sky Dragon) as it is in the public record. I also stand by my decision to participate in the book .. “.

    For more see http://globalpoliticalshenanigans.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/professor-judith-curry-threatened-with.html).

    Best regards, Pete Ridley

    • skeptictmac57 Says:

      “With the internet it is all round the world from a multitude of sources before the truth is booted.”

      Freudian slip by Ball perhaps?


  6. […] said I try to keep away from this stuff, but, you know, its kind of like eating peanuts. Like watching crash videos. You feel like you […]

  7. otter17 Says:

    Just reading this I feel dirty… I need a shower.

  8. livinginabox Says:

    The measure of a man is in the company he keeps.

    • agfosterjr Says:

      livinginabox Says:

      July 29, 2012 at 9:11 am
      1 0 i
      Rate This

      “agfosterjr Says:

      July 27, 2012 at 4:06 pm 0 5 Rate This
      ….There is not a competent scientist on the planet who takes this climate paranoia seriously. Just start with the sea level hype: 2-3mm/year, steady increase over 80 years; no rise in the most recent years. …

      No source cited. Mmmm, I wonder why? Is somebody hiding something?
      Let’s looks at the evidence, it’s clear.

      Thanks for the cherry-picked drivel.

      http://sealevel.colorado.edu/
      =====================================================================
      Wha’dya’know–U Col has finally updated its graph–running 6 mos late as usual. Surely lbox knows this one:

      –or don’t you know how to google. “Cherry picked drivel,” he says. This latest spike finally makes for an increase since 2009–we’ll see if it lasts. But the slope clearly changed since 2006: downward. And the fool says I’m cherry picking when he can’t read his own graph.

      The wiki graph shows an increase of 2mm/year, just like I said, over 80 years. No acceleration. “Hiding something?”says lbox. But from this slow, steady rise the fools and their dupes (like lbox) infer certain catastrophe. There’s not an intelligent alarmist on the planet. –AGF

      • livinginabox Says:

        Isn’t it interesting that agfosterjr makes a claim and then provides a graph that shows his claim – ‘no rise in the most recent years’ is false.

        Somebody doesn’t know how to read a graph or trends.

        Plus there’s little reason to expect that the trend will do anything much but continue upwards, due to feedbacks and various mechanisms.

        Try reading my words and stop attributing motives. Inventing words and motives is a sign of dishonesty, something I rather suspect you know a great deal about.

        • agfosterjr Says:

          livinginabox Says:

          August 1, 2012 at 6:34 pm
          ================================================================
          lbox is wrong about everything less one–maybe. The UCol data have been recently released (I don’t know when). It seems they waited many months until their data showed a safe return to normal rise, and of course the ENVISAT data have been disregarded. I was unaware of the recent release, which does in fact negate the previous recent record of no rise. But the point to take away from this–which lbox cannot face–is that sea level rise is steady over nearly a century and is apparently unaffected by anthro CO2. Period. Again, lbox is very well named–he might well serve as the alarmists’ patronym. –AGF

    • agfosterjr Says:

      And I forgot to mention, ENVISAT was showing falling sea levels up until it went defunct recently:

      http://www.real-science.com/sea-level-data-corruption-worse-than-it-seems

      Seems some didn’t like the data. –AGF

      • livinginabox Says:

        A conspiracy theorist who isn’t interested in the data, while maintaining the pretence.

        BTW
        Making false accusations (whether direct or implied) and invoking strawmen arguments is dishonest.
        Uncertainty is no reason for confidence.

        • agfosterjr Says:

          It’s clear from the comments and the video that I’m dealing with grade school novices. Sea level hockey stick? Well…if you’re talking about a millennial scale, OK. But then it is utterley disingenuous to attribute the increase to ACO2 as does this lying JPL idiot. CO2 has only come into play in the last half century, and any FUTURE effect that may be prognisticated is pure speculation, not based at all on current data. The current data DO NOT show acceleration, and to claim otherwise immediately exposes one as a lying propagandist.

          As for the ENVISAT data, you are utterly clueless. What are you claiming, that the data were not modified in April. Then your ignorance is invicible.

          By the way, there ARE plenty of places where sea level has NOT gone up in recent decades, and that NASA fool’s claim to the contrary is child’s play to refute. You boys just keep showing us how ignorant you have to be to be climate alarmist. –AGF

  9. Pete Ridley Says:

    It is often the case that others judge us by the company we keep. John O’Sullivan and Tim Ball are not only associated through the Mann v Ball defamation case but as joint authors of “Slaying the Sky Dragon” and as founding members of Principia Scientific International (PSI). John is CEO and Tim is named as Chairman of that organisation.

    After I had carried out my “PSI & Due Diligence” exercise in late Dec. 2010 I tried to get that message across to all of those who had been involved in the discussions about setting up PSI.

    One of my comments (14th January 2011) was ” .. “ .. Whatever form it eventually takes, if PSI is ever perceived by disciples and followers of the CACC doctrine as a threat to their cause not only PSI but everyone associated with it will be attacked with whatever can be used or invented. Each of us will be carefully researched and any skeletons in cupboards will be dragged out into the open. Any suggestion of past dishonesty or irrationality will be exploited .. ” (http://globalpoliticalshenanigans.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/psi-due-diligence-20102011-selected-e.html).

    Few group members responded to my warning, with most of them appearing to support John in his efforts to attract funding (e.g. see http://www.gofundme.com/1v39s), one notable exception being Professor Claes Johnson, who subsequently dissociated himself from membership of the group.

    I suspect that by now most of them regret having become involved with the “Slayers”/PSI, regardless of what is claimed on th ePSI promotional pages (http://principia-scientific.org/index.php/about/why-psi-is-proposed-as-a-cic.html).

    Best regards, Pete Ridley

  10. skeptictmac57 Says:

    Peter- How far does someone have to step over the line in ad hominem attacks to warrant being banned from your site? I think that hearty debate is fine,but there is a commenter here that is really pushing the limits in my opinion.

    • agfosterjr Says:

      You are a total hypocrite. Ad hominem attacks are allowed only at the “deniers,” right? If we return the accusations of “dishonesty,” well then silence the dissenter. The very title, “Climate Crocks,” is a general ad hominem attack which should very rightly be turned around and applied to all the gullible believers. I’m just getting started, so if you wish to keep your propaganda pure you better ban me quick. –AGF

      • greenman3610 Says:

        I’m a sucker for a freak show.
        I especially enjoy when we have the utterly clueless arrogance that is denialism on clear and repeated display.
        post away, my friend. Just try to keep it PG-13, and curb the name calling – that’s my job.


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