Penn State A year ago, Penn State was reeling in the wake of revelations that its athletic program had covered up serial abuse by one of its football coaches.

A blogger at the pro-free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute used that situation as an opportunity to suggest that the university was covering up malfeasance by one of its faculty members, climate scientist Michael Mann.

The accusations of research fraud were then reiterated by a blogger at the conservative publication National Review.

After a bit of back-and-forth between Mann and the two organizations, Mann filed a defamation suit. Both National Review and the CEI attempted to have the case thrown out.

They argued that it met the SLAPP definition of an attempt to silence critics and that Mann’s case fell far short of the standards of defamation of a public figure.

Now, a judge has denied both of these attempts, allowing the defamation trial to move forward. Fighting with hockey sticks Mann first attracted the ire of those who question the scientific community’s conclusions about climate change due to his publication of what’s become known as the hockey stick graph.

The graph showed that temperatures have swung up dramatically over the last century after centuries of relative stability. That graph is nearly 20 years old now and has been superseded by further studies (some done by Mann himself), all of which have produced substantially similar results. But many of the people who doubt the conclusions of climate scientists remain fixated on Mann’s graph as well as Mann himself. Opponents regularly accuse him of scientific misconduct. 2     

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