Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Northern Exposure: Canadian Scientists in Libel Lollapalooza

The New York Times reports that climate scientist Andrew Weaver (Univ. of Victoria, Canada) has sued skeptic Tim Ball (former prof. of climatology, Univ. of Winnipeg). The libelous article appeared on the Canada Free Press (CFP), a conservative website. The headline read

Dr. Tim Ball: Corruption in Climate Science Has Created 30 Lost Years

The lead sentence was "People who totally accepted the corrupted, limited and narrowly focused science of the IPCC have taught climate science for the last 30 years."

The CFP has already folded, removing the article from its website. CFP has issued a retraction and a groveling apology, in which they say...(click here for link)

CFP also wishes to dissociate itself from any suggestion that Dr. Weaver “knows very little about climate science.” We entirely accept that he has a well-deserved international reputation as a climate scientist and that Dr. Ball’s attack on his credentials is unjustified....CFP sincerely apologizes to Dr. Weaver and expresses regret for the embarrassment and distress caused by the unfounded allegations in the article by Dr. Ball.

Now Weaver is suing Tim Ball, Canada's best-known global warming denier.

You might say that lawsuits are not the best way to have a scientific discussion. But in 2006, Tim Ball sued Dan Johnson, Prof. of Environmental Science at the University of Lethbridge, for Johnson's claim that Ball has published very little in climate science.

Johnson was ready for his day in court, but Ball later dropped his lawsuit.

Now the CFP has dropped the Ball.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Weaver also began legal actions against the National Post newspaper last year. Curious to know where that is at.

Deltoid talked about it


Anonymous said...

The CFP has removed pretty much everything else Ball has written, as well. Quite the humiliating smackdown for ol' Timmy, and long overdue, too.
-Adam R.

bigcitylib said...

Anon 1,

The thing with NP is still ongoing, as far as I know. Some of what got Ball in trouble was basically copped straight from the offending NP story. These things tend to take a couple of years to go before a judge in Canada.

Anonymous said...

Thanks bigcitylib.

I just noticed that the title on this entry is hotlinked to the NYT blog item, which also says that the NP lawsuit is still pending.

Justice is frustratingly slow.


Anonymous said...

Even the dubious Calgary Herald has distanced itself from Ball.

Holly Stick said...

Desmogblog has more about it, including the actual Notice of Civil Claim and information about Ball's earlier attempted lawsuit. The Notice lists some third party websites as well.


bigcitylib said...

An interesting side-light to what Weaver is doing is that he is asking that, in the case of the National Post and CFP, THEY shoulder the cost of removing their material from all the blogs that linked to them. I don't know if this would fly in the U.S. but it seems a plausible result in the Canadian court system, and might really put a damper on the kind of crap the National Post has been up to on this issue for the past couple of years, where they sound the slanderous key-note for the echo-chamber.

And I wish I wish that more of the scientists involved in this field would consider the legal route with these clowns. Denialists will swap your science for their bullshit all day long but if you send in the lawyers they notice. If RC put up a tip jar I would send them a $5, swear to god.

Anonymous said...

This is why Canadian 'skeptic', Steve McIntyre, is rather careful about the 'where' of his attacks.

Anonymous Etc.

dhogaza said...

"An interesting side-light to what Weaver is doing is that he is asking that, in the case of the National Post and CFP, THEY shoulder the cost of removing their material from all the blogs that linked to them. I don't know if this would fly in the U.S."

Yes, if the steep slope to victory could be climbed under our first amendment, the court could order this.

It's the first step under our weaker libel laws that are the problem.

IANAL but this stuff's pretty basic. And notice I said the court *could* order ... same as in the Canadian system, I think.

Anonymous said...

"This is why Canadian 'skeptic', Steve McIntyre, is rather careful about the 'where' of his attacks"

Yup...nailed it there. Maybe someone in Canada should bait Stephen-- he seems to fly off the handle pretty easily.

Anonymous said...

Completely off topic, but over at Ethon's diner, the host has just linked to a couple of World Bank studies, which among other things show empirical evidence of increased protection with wealth, which I remember as being of interest over here. Does this mean that he should have controlled for this in reaching his "nothing to see here" conclusion on effect of climate change on past trends in damages, that his normalization effort was incomplete, that the Rabett was right, and he will now graciously distribute corrections and congratulations?

Anonymous said...

Now the CFP has dropped the Ball.

More like "Rolled the Ball under the bus."

Dan Johnson said...


(Thanks for remembering.)

- Dan Johnson

Anonymous said...

I did read the CFP article by Ball. Ball has acknowledged one small mistake in his article but stands by the rest of the article. It's one thing for Weaver to sue Ball for defamation. It's another thing to win the case. No doubt the article will be center stage... and no doubt Ball's small mistake will be scrutinized as to whether it was just a mistake of whether it was intended for the sake of malice. But even if Weaver wins the case, he probably won't receive any substantial compensation... so he shouldn't pack in his job just yet.

My name is Merv... and I'm always right.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Now if the CFP would just chase the ball under the bus everything would be good.

John Mashey said...

Merv who is always right
I assume you've transmitted your findings to McConchie?

Anonymous said...

Tradition says the CFP should have invested their coins in a stooge scientist named Puck, not Ball. No way a Puck loses in a Canadian court.

Holly Stick said...

Whereas the lawsuit makes him a lacrosse Ball.

Stephen said...

One might ask whose court the Ball will end up in.

Anonymous said...

With apologies to AC/DC:

Some balls are held for charity
And some for fancy dress
But when Tim gives us his measure
It's his balls-up I like best.
Tim Ball is always pronouncing
And he's never got it right
It's my belief that Tim Ball
Should be emasculated tonight.

Cymraeg llygoden

John said...

After a poem like that, the game oughta be
Called on account of darkness!!!

-John Farley

Anonymous said...

Well, perhaps "emasculated" would be too strong a punishment. Maybe instead:

So it's my belief that Tim Ball
Should be kicked into touch tonight.

(with continuing apologies to AC/DC for mashing their lyrics)

Cymraeg llygoden