I Just Got An E-mail From Michael Mann

So I had a shocking moment today. I've been having problems accessing my Gmail account for nearly a month now, and to be honest, I was kind of happy to have an excuse not to check my e-mail. It did cause some problems though, and I got things resolved today.

Well, mostly. I still can't figure out how to remove the Google account originally associated with this tablet I was given. Because the device originally belonged to someone else, their account was set up with it. That caused everything on it to sync up with their account, which I didn't realize for a while. It wasn't until I noticed someone else was reading a document I was typing up that I found this out, and... I wasn't happy. I was even less happy to find out all of Google's help documents say to just delete the account, which I can't do since it isn't my own. Even if I were willing to delete someone else's account, I don't have their password. The result is my tablet has effectively built-in spyware. I've disabled synchronization for that other account so I'm hoping that means most of the spyware aspects are neutralized, but... yeah, it's messed up.

Anyway, that's not the point. The point is I managed to gain access to my e-mail account about an hour ago. When I did, the very first e-mail said it was from Michael Mann. You know, the guy I've written twenty plus posts about being a fraud? The ones I've written two short eBooks to explain how he's committed fraud?

Yeah, he e-mailed me.

Or at least, so the e-mail claims. I was reading it on my phone so the display wasn't great, and I couldn't really see the images that came with it. Because of that, this is what I first saw:

Dear Brandon,

I never expected death threats for conducting my climate research or to be subject to hostile investigations by fossil fuel industry-funded politicians. But sadly, intimidation tactics like these are now a regular occurance for me and many other climate scientists.

I'm not going to try to copy the obnoxious bolding of some words, phrases and/or sentences the e-mail had. Even without them, it is obvious this is the beginning of some sort of mass-mail program. Curious, I read on:

As these attacks continue to mount, the work of ClimateTruth.org has never been more important. From calling out false balance in the mainstream media, to rallying support behind scientists under attack, it's vital, valuable work.

Earlier this year, I was proud to sign on as an advisor to the ClimateTruth.org team. Now, I'm thrilled to be signing on as a monthly donor too.

Please join me in becoming a monthly donor to ClimateTruth.org.

There were links and bolding involved too, but again, I'm not copying them. The point was apparently Michael Mann signed onto this Climate Truth group to use his name and image:

IMG_20151221_212841_554

To raise funds for them. It's not a big deal, but it is kind of amusing. Mann is acting like a minor celebrity shilling for organizations by doing little ads. It's kind of funny.

I was going to just leave the post at that. I had thought it'd be something people could get a quick laugh out of. But before I uploaded this, I decided to check out what other e-mails this group has sent me. I'm apparently on their e-mail list (I have no idea why) so why not see what sort of group this is? This was how the first e-mail I found began:

Dear Brandon,

This year, I lost my home to the worst flood in Texas history, which scientists say was linked to climate change. Despite the widespread destruction, my senator (and presidential candidate) Ted Cruz refused to acknowledge or even discuss the role of climate change.

With help from ClimateTruth.org, I decided to make meaning out of the tragedy. I joined with other flood victims to bring our story directly to Ted Cruz’s doorstep. We started a new conversation about climate change and flooding in the media and among our neighbors in Texas.

Um... what? I actually wrote a post about Ted Cruz and climate change recently where I was critical of Cruz's views, but... one specific flood was linked to climate change? No reasonable scientist would ever say global warming caused a specific flood. Maybe global warming is "linked to" specific floods, but only in the most vague, semantically meaningless way imaginable. Either this e-mail is wrong on the science, or it is just intentionally worded in a misleading manner. Eitehr way, it made me look further and see an e-mail beginning:

Dear Brandon,

How could one Midwestern mom change the national debate on climate change?

Meet Brittany Sinzinger. Her eight-year-old son Matthew has acute asthma. Five years ago, he nearly died after a severe attack closed his windpipe. Pollution from coal-fired power plants in Ohio make daily life a constant battle for Matthew, especially on hot days — and those days are getting more numerous thanks to climate change.

This is the sort of propaganda Michael Mann is signing onto. He's encouraging people to give money to this organization to spread the "truth" of global warming, a truth which involves... implying global warming nearly killed a child by causing him to have an asthma attack. Or if it wasn't global warming, it was those evil coal-fired power plants that also cause global warming.

Notice, there's no actual information involved in this e-mail. There's no explanation of how these coal-fired power plants supposedly make this child's life more difficult. There's no discussion of if the child lives near one or anything like that to help people understand how the power plants could be killing her child. All it says is coal is killing her child, so we should oppose global warming.

I don't think many rational people would need me to explain why that story sounds ludicrous. But remember, Michael Mann endorses it, so... give them your money. And remember:

It's important that we expose Republicans for what they are during the primaries: a party with no real solutions on climate change. Once they have a nominee, that candidate will try to moderate their stances and likely walk back their climate denial. But, if we get straight answers from Republicans now — we can hold them accountable to their climate plans.

So says Michael Mann. According to this group he now endorses, evil global warming Republican deniers are killing children by causing them to have asthma attacks and refusing to admit specific floods are caused by global warming. Or something like that. I'm sure the details and facts don't matter. After all, the group doesn't provide any.

6 comments

  1. It is the result of all these climate change workshops where they encourage people to speak about local impacts.

    I managed to change the account with my phone, mainly because I only signed up for an account just to activate, then forgot the password.
    I think I did a reset, but it may just be remove account from settings.

  2. From everything I'm seeing, the only way to remove the link to this account would be to do a full factory reset. That's pretty ridiculous. I might be able to create a new user account which wouldn't have the connection, but that'd still leave an account which did have one. I find it ridiculous the only option presented to me on the tablet when I go to the account is to delete the account, rather than just deleting the connection between the account and the device.

    I might go ahead and do a factory reset, but I hate knowing that means I'd have to backup everything stored on the device plus re-download the various apps I've put on it. If I'm going to go through that hassle, I might just root the tablet so I have more control over it.

  3. I'm pretty sure I didn't have to reenter all my contacts, though that may be because it was a phone and they were saved to SIM card. Could you add an account and then delete?

  4. Ironically, I did a factory reset of my phone recently and didn't have to reenter things like contact information because I had the information backed up to... Google's servers. You might have had a similar thing. If you use an online service to back up information, you can often just automatically download it after a reset.

    The problem in this case is Google's operating system on my tablet won't let my unlink Google accounts from the device (or at least, I can't find any way to, even using the internet as a resource). The only option it gives me that would accomplish it is to delete the Google account. Deleting an account just to unlink it is obvious overkill, and it isn't even my account so I couldn't do it even if I wanted to (I don't know the password).

    I thought I must just be missing some obvious solution, but after looking around online, it seems I'm not. It seems Google really does just not provide a way to unlink the Google account associated with this device. You have to either completely delete the account or reset the device.

    Or at least, that's how it seems. I still find it difficult to believe that'd be true though.

  5. I never back up anything to Google, and am surprised you do so, since you are of minor prominence in the global warming debate. I wouldn't trust someone there to look into your details or mess with your account.

    I just remembered that I had an android tablet before. Don't remember if I reset anything, but I wouldn't have had anything saved on it. It was an unwieldy tablet that was extremely difficult to use. Wasn't even listed anywhere online for support.

  6. I can't say I'm worried about anyone at Google doing anything to me. That would be true even if the idea didn't sound rather crazy to me (even if something like that might happen, there are way better targets). There simply isn't anything in my accounts anyone could find which would be bad enough to merit concern. Obviously my Gmail account is already on the Google servers, and that would be the juiciest target. But with it, there is almost nothing anyone could do. There is no damning information to steal. There isn't even anything particularly embarrassing. I guess one could look for communication between me and any romantic interests and maybe find a few things there I wouldn't want public, but as far as worst case scenarios go, that's trivial.

    The only thing I'd ever worry about is someone trying to steal/reset passwords, and even then, it'd just be a nuisance, one which would likely be relatively easy to expose. There's no plausible threat there.

    As for the things I've actually backed up, we're talking about things like phone numbers and e-mail addresses. There's also a Google Play account which keeps track of which apps I've downloaded/bought, but finding out what games I play on a phone/tablet isn't going to hurt me any.

    So... yeah. I can't see any reason to worry.

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