If you’ve been cruising the denial highway over the past week or so, you may have come to believe that Dr. Michael Mann has lost his defamation lawsuit--the British Columbia court ruled in favor of Canadian Tim Ball and forced Mann to pay Ball’s court costs. Deniers are also claiming that the hockey stick graph, which Mann supposedly refused to release the data for, has now been broken and ruled a fraud.
A particularly robust and...creative description of the case can be found at Principia Scientifica, a place for deniers who don’t even think carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. There, John O’Sullivan gives his unique take on the situation, to which he may feel entitled given his involvement.
O’Sullivan isn’t an actual lawyer, but he did file an affidavit on Ball’s behalf, in which he apparently dramatically inflated his legal credentials. And O’Sullivan does have some experiencing winning cases. Per DeSmog’s Richard Littlemore, O’Sullivan won “an acquittal when he was personally charged in England as a high school teacher accused of sending lewd text messages and assaulting a 16-year-old female.” Littlemore notes that this might “not generally be appropriate to bring up,” were it not for the fact that “O’Sullivan himself went on to write an ‘erotic’ ‘novel’ with a startlingly similar storyline: Vanilla Girl: a Fact-Based Crime Story of a Teacher’s Struggle to Control His Erotic Obsession with a Schoolgirl.” (Warning: that link goes to a blog version of the book that’s… not good.)
The fact that O’Sullivan appears to have written an “If I Did It” but for statutory rape doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of fiction, and his post about the case certainly proves as much.
Despite the victory laps from O’Sullivan and the rest, the judge didn’t rule in favor of Ball in the Mann case. Rather, the court dismissed the case on the basis that it has dragged on and been delayed for so long. Ball requested a ruling based on the timing instead of merits to allow the court avoid the messiness of whether or not his attacks on Mann’s climate science were valid. Now Mann (and his lawyers) have a month to decide if they’d like to appeal.
In a statement responding to the wave of false coverage, Mann clarified that the “Court did not find that any of Ball’s defenses were valid. The Court did not find that any of my claims were *not* valid… The provision in the Court’s order relating to costs does NOT mean that I will pay Ball’s legal fees… In making his application based on delay, Ball effectively told the world he did not want a verdict on the real issues in the lawsuit.”
In reality, the court tossed the case in what appears to be an act of pity for Tim Ball. As a statement from Mann’s lawyer explained, Ball’s request to terminate the lawsuit “relied heavily on his alleged state of health” and because, per Ball’s defense team, his claims are “given no credibility by the average, reasonable reader.” (An assessment bolstered by the fact that in a similar suit, a judge ruled that “a reasonably thoughtful and informed person… is unlikely to place any stock in Dr. Ball’s views.”)
On the health front, the plea to toss the case notes that Ball, born in 1938, “suffered coronary heart failure” in 2017, after “quintuple bypass surgery” ten years prior, in addition to having Type 2 Diabetes. Apparently being old is a defense?
Ball’s attorney also added that his website doesn’t show up in at least 92% of searches for Dr. Mann, and that it has “low popularity.”
What this all means: no, the court didn’t rule that Mann’s hockey stick was a fraud. And no, it has nothing to do with Mann supposedly refusing to release the data for deniers to double check. Again, Mann took to Twitter to explain that “The ‘Hockey Stick’ data & code are all available & have been for more than a decade,” with a link to the FTP site that’s hosted the data since, by the looks of it, at least 2003.
And for whether or not the hockey stick, showing a rapid increase in temperatures in the modern era, has broken, Mann points out that multiple other teams have come to the same general conclusion.
Far from being a clear win for the deniers, the ruling appears to be more a judgement of the state of Tim Ball: a broken down old man, who’s lucky that no one takes his conspiratorial and accusatory ramblings seriously.
And that’s what his own defense said about him!