Penn State inquiry finds no evidence for allegations against Michael Mann

“Hockey Stick” scientist vindicated once again


An academic inquiry into the so-called “climategate” email scandal has concluded that a well-known U.S. scientist did not directly or indirectly falsify data in his research.

The review, by a panel of senior administrators at Pennsylvania State University, found no evidence that climatologist Michael Mann had manipulated research that indicates humans are causing global warming.

This finding is a big setback for the anti-science crowd, who have been going after Mann full throttle, trying to find imaginary whistleblowers to accuse him and others at Penn State of fraud (see “Anti-science disinformers step up efforts to intimidate and harass climate scientists.”

The anti-scientists hate Mann, one of the country’s leading climatologists, for his role in creating the Hockey Stick graph, which they still maintain is fraudulent, when in fact it was essentially vindicated in a thorough examination by a panel of the National Academy of Sciences (see NAS Report and here).

Even more important than the fact that the original analysis was defensibly correct, is that the conclusions were correct [which could be true even if the analysis had flaws in it].   Is the planet now as hot (or hotter) than it has been in a millenium?  Try two millennia — see “Sorry deniers, hockey stick gets longer, stronger: Earth hotter now than in past 2,000 years,” which discusses the PNAS study that is the source of the above graph.

Note that the myth pushed by the anti-science disinformers — that somehow the recent warming is merely a rebound from the so-called “little ice age” — has no basis in the data.  We have blown past the temperatures of the past two millenia.  That’s why climatologist and one-time darling of the contrarians Ken Caldeira said last year, “To talk about global cooling at the end of the hottest decade the planet has experienced in many thousands of years is ridiculous.”

Another study vindicating this conclusion is “Human-caused Arctic warming overtakes 2,000 years of natural cooling, ‘seminal’ study finds,” with this terrific graph I used in my talk yesterday:


There simply is no data to support the notion that the so-called Medieval Warm Period was a global phenomenon.

The PNAS study found that the Southern Hemisphere also does not appear to show much of a Medieval warm period, based on admittedly much less data that we have for the NH.  The figures below are from the supplemental material, comparing the NH reconstruction (top) with the SH reconstruction (middle) “” and a total planetary reconstruction is also thrown in (bottom).


Kevin Grandia at DesmogBlog has more on what the Penn State panel found:

Penn State University has concluded that there is no evidence to substantiate the claims made against climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann surrounding the emails stolen from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University.

An inquiry panel was set up earlier this year to look at allegations made by right-wing bloggers and media outlets against Penn State University climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann, relating to the contents of emails stolen from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in London.

On all 4 of the allegations made against Dr. Mann the panel has concluded that there is no evidence to substantiate the claims.

However, the panel has recommended that the allegation that Dr. Mann “engaged in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting or reporting research or other scholarly activities,” be further investigated.

Dr. Mann issued a statement today on the findings, saying that:

I am very pleased that, after a thorough review, the independent Penn State committee found no evidence to substantiate the allegations against me.

Three of the four allegations have been dismissed completely. Even though no evidence to substantiate the fourth allegation was found, the University administrators thought it best to convene a separate committee of distinguished scientists to resolve any remaining questions about academic procedures.

This is very much the vindication I expected since I am confident I have done nothing wrong.

I fully support the additional inquiry which may be the best way to remove any lingering doubts. I intend to cooperate fully in this matter – as I have since the beginning of the process.

The full report of the inquiry panel can be found here: Concerning the Allegations of Research Misconduct Against Dr. Michael E. Mann

Mann’s work has been scrutinized by other scientists more than most — and vindicated every time.

Related Post:


19 Responses to Penn State inquiry finds no evidence for allegations against Michael Mann

  1. Rob Mac says:

    The anti-AGW crowd are adherents to a conspiracy theory, much like the theory that we never landed on the moon or that “the government” (or whatever) was behind 9/11 or that “the government” is covering up evidence of UFOs. No amount of evidence will ever convince them. Any evidence presented is just further evidence of how deep the conspiracy goes. They will simply call the Penn State inquiry a coverup.

  2. pete best says:

    This might set a precedent in that any raving foaming at the mouth right winger can have a legitimate scientist seemingly investigated just because they did not like his graph. Some emails milling around cyber space have seemingly caused this but its just a political move by the right.

    Shame that its this way but luncay comes first because polticians and average jos public thinks the media knows what it is talking about when it comes to scince. What a crock so to speak

  3. Elmo says:

    The local paper for the Penn State area is filled with AGW conspiracy theorists. They’re already calling it a cover up and a whitewash. Read some of the comments on this story about the Mann investigation:

  4. PSU Grad says:

    And this from the extreme right wing Commonwealth Foundation.

    I’m thinking calling this outfit and determining how many of their “employees” have any scientific background will be a waste of time.

  5. Anti-science and conspiracy thinking are two peas in the same pod.

    On the one hand, people who either cannot or will not engage in critical thinking have on that account abandoned any possibility of engaging in reasoned inquiry, to say nothing of scientific method.

    But on the other hand, that very abandonment leaves them with nothing but fairy-tale thinking and mythological imagination with which to fabricate their handle on the world. So since blaming things on “The Gods” has fallen out of fashion, the alternative has become blaming them on a cabal “Those People.”

  6. paulina says:

    I assume all the MSM that sensationalized swifthack will spend as much real estate on this story?
    Half the space?
    Front page of the NYT, at least once, right?

    (For the NYT, I think we’re at one A10 article + DE post, and counting.)

  7. Ben says:

    Once again the virtues of science defeat the slaves to greed and power.

  8. Leif says:

    Ben: Except the damage has been done and only a small portion of the infected will ever be aware of the vindication. I expect as much from “Fair and Balanced” FOX, but NY Times??? For Shame.

  9. PSU Grad says:

    This gets beyond ridiculous. This is a link to the story in the Harrisburg, PA paper. Note the headline in light of what actually happened.

    The “comments” are a hoot as well.

    And here’s a letter to the editor I missed the first time around from a home builder:

    Notice also that the “Scundoo” character shows up in both article comments, using “credentialism” as an argument. He only shows up for climate change articles and I have a strong suspicion he’s from somewhere out of town.

    I won’t hold my breath that McNaughton will retract his comments.

  10. Andy says:

    Joe: could you please continue to post these figures and the one you had on a couple days back showing decadal average global temperature in your must have powerpoint folder?

  11. Lou Grinzo says:

    Taking a half-step back from this ridiculous mess, I think the Mann situation serves very effectively as a description of what we’re facing.

    Absurd charges and claims are leveled and repeated endlessly, resulting in a formal investigation that finds nothing amiss. The deniers claim that a finding of “not guilty” means not a lack of guilt on the part of the accused but corruption on the part of the judges. And they keep ratcheting up the attack.

    In other words, it’s Rovian politics writ large. Attack someone at their strength–scientific credibility in the case of Mann and, more generally, the IPCC, use any attack you can think of, and repeat it endlessly, no matter how many times responsible people prove you wrong. They’re as relentless and unthinking as the Borg in Star Trek.

    Remember the people at the 2004 Republican National Convention who wore purple heart band aids to mock John Kerry? To this day it turns my stomach to think of those TV images. Those are the same tactics, and I would wager the very same people, flooding the newspapers with LTE’s and waging this fight for ideological reasons, totally oblivious of how much harm they’re doing to their own children and grandchildren, not to mention how much they’re helping the fossil fuel companies in exchange for zero compensation.

  12. Marion Delgado says:

    Thank god for Joe Romm and Climate Progress.

    The most disillusioning part of this process for me personally has been how gutless yet self-flattering the bulk of public figures in the science community who support the AGW consensus are, when it comes to totally transparent well-poisoning and projection and personal attacks. It’s fine for the acolytes of Marc Morano to call telling the truth “circling the wagons” as they circle the wagons around their PR campaign as its wheels come off.

    The rote litany format seems to be this: “XXX target of the latest Karl Rove-Lee Atwater attack by science-hating shills and dupes is clearly (put in exaggerated utter denunciation of scientist or administrator in the crosshairs) for having neglected a comma in a memo he wrote 20 years ago. We all rightly condemn this vile fraud and bed-wetter. But that does not change the point that climate change is real, even as every unfounded personal attack clearly forces us to cede entire areas of indisputably documented research, because the point is, the science doesn’t depend on people.”

    This reminds me sharply of the denunciations people filled in before trials in the Soviet Union – your state-appointed prosecutor would say, sign this, say this, and you get 5 years, otherwise it’s 25 years, maybe in a gulag … and he was right. Since the content rarely varied, it was the submissive gesture that was relevant.

    And while the science doesn’t depend on people, doing more science actually does. A lot of people on “our” side DO NOT understand politics or political maneuvering AT ALL. They have just fallen off the turnip truck, and can’t seem to grasp how oppo research and smear campaigns work. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying that Phil Jones or Michael Mann or whoever is the target of an industry funded smear campaign and witch hunt, and naming names of those behind it, every time.

    While I’m at it, I have to mention the demonization of “gummint funded research” and the culture that makes people feel guilty for not being market fundamentalists, which is always at play in these things. You can always look “sensible” by joining them in a good bashing.

  13. MarkB says:

    The long-standing charge from deniers, based entirely on the results of Mann’s research, and not the facts, is that Mann falsified data en route to the “fraudulent hockey stick”. The committee reviewed personal emails spanning a decade, which should have provided ample evidence to support their charges, and found no evidence.

    Finding 1. After careful consideration of all the evidence and relevant materials, the inquiry committee finding is that there exists no credible evidence that Dr. Mann had or has ever engaged in, or participated in, directly or indirectly, any actions with an intent to suppress or to falsify data. While a perception has been created in the weeks after the CRU emails were made public that Dr. Mann has engaged in the suppression or falsification of data, there is no credible evidence that he ever did so, and certainly not while at Penn State. In fact to the contrary, in instances that have been focused upon by some as indicating falsification of data, for example in the use of a “trick” to manipulate the data, this is explained as a discussion among Dr. Jones and others including Dr. Mann about how best to put together a graph for a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report. They were not falsifying data; they were trying to construct an understandable graph for those who were not experts in the field. The so-called “trick”1 was nothing more than a statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion by a technique that has been reviewed by a broad array of peers in the field.

  14. Ben Lieberman says:

    John Broder of the Times sill managed to stick in a vague charge that there may be something wrong after all: “New questions about the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to which Dr. Mann was a significant contributor, have arisen since the hacked e-mail messages surfaced last November.”

  15. Brad Hudson says:

    Witchunt fails to find witches. Film at 11:00.

  16. espiritwater says:

    Rob Mac says:
    “The anti-AGW crowd are adherents to a conspiracy theory, much like the theory that we never landed on the moon… No amount of evidence will ever convince them”.
    Yep, only the anti-science movement is much more insidious. Their members are Benedict Arnolds– betraying all of humanity.

  17. cliff hutchinson says:

    Criminal charges coming in the U.K. RICO?

    This is the canary in the global warming camp.

  18. Doug Bostrom says:

    Any UK readers interested in seeing how your FOI law was abused? Perhaps you may even agree that when university budgets are being slashed, servicing idiotic FOI requests by American mouth-breathers might not be the very best possible use of taxpayer funds?

    If so, take a look at this:

    “Eli wonders if one of the Brit readers might bring this to the attention of the Information Commissioner’s Office asking if they would care to revisit their drive by on Phil Jones. An enterprising reporter might like to ask questions. An enterprising lawyer might wish to explore the area of harassment and the misuse of the FOI process.”

  19. Doug Bostrom says:

    What GOPers are good for:

    “February 03, 2010

    Allison C. LernerInspector General
    National Science Foundation
    Office of Inspector General
    4201 Wilson Boulevard
    Arlington, VA 22230

    Dear Ms. Lerner:

    This is a follow-up to my letter of December 2, 2009 and concerns today’s announcement by Penn State University that it has concluded its initial inquiry into possible research misconduct by one of the University’s researchers, Dr. Michael Mann. Penn State’s internal inquiry found further investigation is warranted to determine if Dr. Mann “engaged in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting or reporting research or other scholarly activities.”

    While I firmly agree that Penn State’s investigation is warranted and must commence without delay, there are federal laws and policies implicated in this matter, including your “Research Misconduct” regulations, Title 45 CFR Part 689, that go beyond the scope of Penn State’s inquiry. Therefore, in order to have a full and complete accounting of this matter, I request that you now begin a formal investigation of the allegations against Dr. Mann.

    Among other laws and regulations, I ask that you investigate compliance with, or violations of, OMB administrative procedures, 2 CFR Part 215 (OMB Circular A-110), in particular 2 CFR §215.36; Freedom of Information Act 5 U.S.C. §552 (NSF Regulation, 45 CFR Part 612); NSF guidelines implementing OMB information quality guidelines (515 Guidelines); Federal False Claims Act, 18 U.S.C. §287, and 31 U.S.C. §§3729-33; and Federal False Statements Act, 18 U.S.C §1001. Finally, given that Dr. Mann was at the University of Virginia from 1999 until 2005, I also request that you inquire whether his activities at the University of Virginia are implicated in this matter and within your jurisdiction.


    James M. Inhofe
    Ranking Member
    Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works”

    They can’t govern worth a damn, but they sure can run a circus.