As you may know from a few recent posts, I had some problems arise due to PayPal decided to take money for a couple purchases out of my bank account instead of my PayPal account. They've all been cleared up thanks to PayPal's Twitter customer service team (which solved the problem quickly when the phone line people couldn't accomplish anything), and in a few days money transfers will go through and everything will be back to normal.
In the meantime, a reader kindly purchased a copy of Mark Steyn's new book, A Disgrace to the Profession, a response of sorts to a lawsuit Michael Mann filed against him. I had been wanting to read this book, but I couldn't buy it when it was released due to my online accounts having issues, and that's when the reader contacted me to offer to purchase it for me.
Anyway, I got it in the mail yesterday, and I started reading it. If you saw my last post, you know I was not happy with what I saw. Because of that, I've decided to do something I haven't done in half a year. I'm going to do a "live" book review. That is, as I read the book, I will write my thoughts and reactions in the comments below. That'll give me a place to post all my thoughts so I don't have to keep making new post after new post.
If you want to know what to expect, I did this once before on this site for a book by Steven Mosher and Thomas Fuller named Climategate: The CRUtape Letters. I also did it once before in the comments section of another site, for Michael Mann's book about the hockey stick debate. That live review is what eventually led to me writing a short eBook to give people an easy introduction into the hockey stick debate (and its follow up).
As those eBooks will show, I am no fan of Michael Mann. My decision to review Steyn's book has nothing to do with a desire to defend Mann against Steyn's criticisms or to make Steyn look bad. I actually wanted to like this book. I just can't make myself ignore the many serious problems the book has. And hey, I was given a free copy of the book. Reviewing it so people know what I think seems like like something I should do.
Plus, I can't resist it since Steyn includes this entertaining bit near the end of the introduction of his book:
One quick bit of business: In the pages that follow, the source for each scientist's quotation is footnoted. However, because of the extraordinary level of paranoia about "doctored quotes" that attends the climate debate, we've retained the various spellings - British, American or the often charming English of Swedes and Finns - and made only a few punctuation changes.
What makes this remarkable is I'm pretty sure Steyn's book has more misquotations than any other book I have ever seen. A lot of them are trivial, as I mentioned in my previous post, but some of them are more serious. For instance, over at Judith Curry's blog, some people noticed she had misquoted a source and criticized her for it. It turns out that same error can be found in Steyn's book. It may well be she copied the mistake from his book. As I explained at her site:
I was flipping through Mark Steyn's new book, and a passage happened to catch my eye. Steyn references a YouTube video of a presentation given by Richard Muller, now best known as the head of the Berkeley Earth (BEST) group. Steyn says:
What Professor Muller could not have foreseen was that hockey-stick science was not just "phony" but corrupt. Six years later he wrote:
Now this was a speech, but there was a Powerpoint presentation with text on the screen, so that does make sense. What followed, however, is wrong:
What they did was, and there's a quote... "Let's use Mike's trick to hide the decline."
There's quite a bit more text, but that wasn't anything Muller wrote on his presentation. That's something Muller said, out loud. It's understandable he might not include the ellipsis while speaking because he wasn't necessarily using quotation marks while speaking, but when Muller wrote it on the screen, he wrote:
as published, using "Mike's trick" to "hide the decline"
So Steyn did get the quote wrong, by creating a transcript of Muller's speech that created a false quote then claiming it was written text by Muller rather than spoken words. Judith Curry may well have copied the text straight from Steyn's book, trusting that he would have gotten the quote correct.
That was on page 26, well ahead of where I actually am in this live review. I hope you'll forgive me for jumping ahead a bit. I just thought it was hilarious how I hadn't thought a thing about doctored quotes prior to picking up Steyn's book, but then he went out of his way to mock the idea... while doctoring quotes.