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Much-vindicated Michael Mann and Hockey Stick get final exoneration from Penn State — time for some major media apologies and retractions

By Joe Romm  

"Much-vindicated Michael Mann and Hockey Stick get final exoneration from Penn State — time for some major media apologies and retractions"

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“An Investigatory Committee of faculty members with impeccable credentials” has unanimously “determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate 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.”

PANEL STICKS UP FOR AN INNOCENT MANN

His work “clearly places Dr. Mann among the most respected scientists in his field…. Dr. Mann’s work, from the beginning of his career, has been recognized as outstanding.

http://climateprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/mann1.jpg

Few if any American climate scientists have been as falsely accused — and thoroughly vindicated — over both their academic practices and scientific results as Dr. Michael Mann.

Today, Penn State issued its final and complete exoneration (click here) of Dr. Michael Mann in the matter of his scientific practices “for proposing, conducting, or reporting research,” primarily related to the famous — and thoroughly vindicated — Hockey Stick.  We can be more confident than ever that the “Earth is hotter now than in the past 2,000 years” (a post which discusses the PNAS study that is the source of the above graph).

And this “Investigatory Committee of faculty members with impeccable credentials” not only exonerated him unanimously, they did so even though one of the scientists they interviewed in the course of their work was the much debunked, shameless defamer of climatologists, Richard Lindzen!

A number of major media outlets owe Mann an apology and retraction:

If the disinformer-friendly Sunday Times can retract and apologize for its shameful and bogus Amazon story smearing the IPCC, surely Newsweek, CBS, and the WSJ can.

UPDATE:  The WashPost has a flawed story on the exoneration that typifies how the media has blown the coverage of the stolen emails, discussed at the end.

Let’s back up and start with Mann’s scientific work — that’s what the anti-science crowd has been trying to undermine all these years.  If Mann were an astrophysicist publishing papers on black holes, none of this would’ve happened.  The disinformers have been desperate to prove that recent human-caused warming is not unusual and is not indicative of an important and dangerous trend — but it is.  As 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.”

The key point about Mann’s “Hockey Stick” work is that it was repeatedly attacked and utterly vindicated long before we saw any of the trumped up charges around the stolen emails:

  • The Hockey Stick was affirmed in a major review by the uber-prestigious National Academy of Scientists (in media-speak, the highest scientific “court” in the land) — see NAS Report and here.  The news story in the journal Nature (subs. req’d) on the NAS panel was headlined:  “Academy affirms hockey-stick graph“!
  • The Hockey Stick has been replicated and strengthened by numerous independent studies.  My favorite is from Science last year “” see Human-caused Arctic warming overtakes 2,000 years of natural cooling, “seminal” study finds (the source of the figure below).
  • And then we have Penn State’s first review of Mann, which concluded:  “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.”

figure
That first Penn State review also found “no substance” to these allegations:

  • “Did you engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions with the intent to suppress or falsify data? “
  • “Did you engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions with the intent to delete, conceal or otherwise destroy emails, information and/or data, related to AR4, as suggested by Phil Jones?”

But that first review did remand to a second panel the following question:

“Did Dr. Michael Mann engage in, or participate 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?”

On that charge, the “Investigatory Committee of faculty members with impeccable credentials” concluded:

The Investigatory Committee, after careful review of all available evidence, determined that there is no substance to the allegation against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Professor, Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University.

More specifically, the Investigatory Committee determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate 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.

The decision of the Investigatory Committee was unanimous.

Here are some other key excerpts from the report, which should be required reading for any reporter who has ever written about Mann or the Hockey Stick:

This level of success in proposing research, and obtaining funding to conduct it, clearly places Dr. Mann among the most respected scientists in his field. Such success would not have been possible had he not met or exceeded the highest standards of his profession for proposing research….

The Investigatory Committee established that Dr. Mann, in all of his published studies, precisely identified the source(s) of his raw data and, whenever possible, made the data and or links to the data available to other researchers. These actions were entirely in line with accepted practices for sharing data in his field of research….

Thus, the Investigatory Committee concluded that the manner in which Dr. Mann used and shared source codes has been well within the range of accepted practices in his field.

Mann is clearly owed an apology from Dr. Judith Curry, a bit player in all this who has parroted the false charges against Mann by McIntyre and his ilk in her Discover interview, among other places.

Here’s more from the committee:

Most questions about Dr. Mann’s findings have been focused on his early published work that showed the “hockey stick” pattern of climate change. In fact, research published since then by Dr. Mann and by independent researchers has shown patterns similar to those first described by Dr. Mann….  In some cases, other researchers (e.g., Wahl & Ammann, 2007) have been able to replicate Dr. Mann’s findings, using the publicly available data and algorithms. The convergence of findings by different teams of researchers, using different data sets, lends further credence to the fact that Dr. Mann’s conduct of his research has followed acceptable practice within his field.  Further support for this conclusion may be found in the observation that almost all of Dr. Mann’s work was accomplished jointly with other scientists. The checks and balances inherent in such a scientific team approach further diminishes chances that anything unethical or inappropriate occurred in the conduct of the research.

A particularly telling indicator of a scientist’s standing within the research community is the recognition that is bestowed by other scientists. Judged by that indicator, Dr. Mann’s work, from the beginning of his career, has been recognized as outstanding. For example, he received the Phillip M. Orville Prize for outstanding dissertation in the earth sciences at Yale University in 1997. In 2002, he received an award from the Institute for Scientific Information for a scientific paper (published with co-authors) that appeared in the prestigious journal Nature; also in 2002, he co-authored a paper that won the Outstanding Scientific Paper Award from the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and Scientific American named him as one of 50 leading visionaries in science and technology. In 2005, Dr. Mann co-authored a paper in the Journal of Climate that won the John Russell Mather Paper award from the Association of American Geographers, and in the same year, the website “RealClimate.org” (co-founded by Dr. Mann) was chosen as one of the top 25 “Science and Technology” websites by Scientific American. In 2006, Dr. Mann was recognized with the American Geophysical Union Editors’ Citation for Excellence in Refereeing (i.e., reviewing manuscripts for Geophysical Research Letters). All of these awards and recognitions, as well as others not specifically cited here, serve as evidence that his scientific work, especially the conduct of his research, has from the beginning of his career been judged to be outstanding by a broad spectrum of scientists. Had Dr. Mann’s conduct of his research been outside the range of accepted practices, it would have been impossible for him to receive so many awards and recognitions, which typically involve intense scrutiny from scientists who may or may not agree with his scientific conclusions.

My guess is that you didn’t know Mann’s work had been so highly recognized.  The media certainly never writes about this because it doesn’t fit their disinformer-driven storyline that somehow his work is not first rate.

In fact, it is those who attack him whose work is far, far from first rate.  Hmm.  That might even the a good subject for an academic paper (see New study reaffirms broad scientific understanding of climate change, questions media’s reliance on tiny group of less-credibile scientists for “balance”).

Dr. Mann’s record of publication in peer reviewed scientific journals offers compelling evidence that his scientific work is highly regarded by his peers, thus offering de facto evidence of his adherence to established standards and practices regarding the reporting of research. To date, Dr. Mann is the lead author of 39 scientific publications and he is listed as co-author on an additional 55 publications. The majority of these publications appeared in the most highly respected scientific journals, i.e., journals that have the most rigorous editorial and peer reviews in the field. In practical terms, this means that literally dozens of the most highly qualified scientists in the world scrutinized and examined every detail of the scientific work done by Dr. Mann and his colleagues and judged it to meet the high standards necessary for publication. Moreover, Dr. Mann’s work on the Third Assessment Report (2001) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change received recognition (along with several hundred other scientists) by being awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Clearly, Dr. Mann’s reporting of his research has been successful and judged to be outstanding by his peers. This would have been impossible had his activities in reporting his work been outside of accepted practices in his field.

So Mann isn’t merely a competent researcher.  He is one of the leading climate scientists in this country, which of course is precisely why the anti-science crowd has gone after him, much as they have with other leading climate scientists, including Hansen and Santer.

And that’s one more reason why the major media outlets who smeared and defamed him owe him an apology and a retraction.

The Investigatory Committee does have one obvious mistake in it, though.  In its effort to bend over backwards to appear fair and balanced in examining the baseless charges against Mann:

The Investigatory Committee contacted, and subsequently interviewed, three eminent scientists from the field of climate research: Dr. William Curry, Senior Scientist, Geology and Geophysics Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Dr. Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Dr. Jerry McManus, Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University.

Lindzen may have been ‘eminent’ a long, long time ago, but his big climate theory has been largely debunked — see Science: “Clouds Appear to Be Big, Bad Player in Global Warming,”an amplifying feedback (sorry Lindzen and fellow disinformers).  For quite some time he has been doing little but spreading disinformation — see Re-discredited climate denialists in denial.  He’s even started publishing nonsense that has led to unusually strong debunkings by his colleagues:

Lindzen tries to stick the knife into Mann:

Before the Investigatory Committee’s questioning began, Dr. Lindzen was given some general background information regarding the process of inquiry and investigation into
allegations concerning Dr. Mann, with a focus on the particular allegation that is the subject of the current review by the Investigatory Committee. Dr. Lindzen then requested, and was provided with, a brief summary of the three allegations previously reviewed. When told that the first three allegations against Dr. Mann were dismissed at the inquiry stage of the RA-10 process, Dr. Lindzen’s response was: “It’s thoroughly amazing. I mean these are issues that he explicitly stated in the emails. I’m wondering what’s going on?

The Investigatory Committee members did not respond to Dr. Lindzen’s statement.  Instead, Dr. Lindzen’s attention was directed to the fourth allegation, and it was explained to him that this is the allegation which the Investigatory Committee is charged to address.

It isn’t thoroughly amazing that Lindzen wants to retry Mann for charges he was completely exonerated on.  What’s amazing is that the committee would even talk to Lindzen on a matter like this.  Lindzen simply lacks credibility on climate science, and he has a penchant for going after the reputation of the top climate scientists in the country.  At the Heartland conference of climate-change disinformers last year, Lindzen went from disinformation to defamation as he smeared the reputation of one of the greatest living climate scientists, Wallace Broecker (see “Shame on Richard Lindzen, MIT’s uber-hypocritical anti-scientific scientist“).  And this year he slandered his one-time friend Kerry Emanuel, who asserted that Lindzen’s charge in Boston Globe is “pure fabrication.”

The bottom line is that every major independent investigation has exonerated Mann and his work — and his fellow climate scientists:

Let me give the final word to Mann from 2008 on the key scientific issue:

You can go back nearly 2,000 years and the conclusion still holds-the current warmth is anomalous. The burst of warming over the past one to two decades takes us out of the envelope of natural variability.

UPDATE:  The WashPost story, “Penn State clears Mann in Climate-gate probe” absurdly quotes one of the top anti-scientist disinformers in the country, Myron Ebell, for balance.  Seriously, mainstream media, after all the false charges, can’t you just run a straight exoneration story without publishing yet another baseless defamatory smear  by the paid disinformation specialists?  And it’s time to drop the blame-the-victim moniker “Climate-gate” (see “Rename The Scandal Formerly Known As Climategate“).

The Project on Climate Science release is here.

Climate Science Watch interviewed Michael Mann on the Penn State Final Report and the “concerted, well-organized, and very well-funded campaign to attack climate scientists – not just the science but the scientists themselves,” as he puts it.  Mann clears up the most recent misrepresentation about his work:

CSW:  You were quoted recently with reference to the so-called ‘hockey stick’ graph from the temperature record study that you published in the late 1990s that is still a bªte noire of skeptics, contrarians, and deniers; sometimes they try to talk about it as if there were not a whole body of paleoclimate literature and subsequent work. You apparently made a comment to the effect that you were skeptical about how much of an icon that particular graph had become. Some of the deniers have jumped on that and said, “Aha! Michael Mann is walking back his conclusions about the temperature record.” What should people make of what you said, what is the appropriate way to take your comment?

MM: Yeah, this is all too predictable. This is what the climate change denial machine has been doing for years. What they’ll do is they’ll quote a statement out of context. In this case it was a statement I did in the course of an interview for the BBC. Then it’ll be turned into a news article in a fringe media outlet, in this case the Telegraph – which, in my view, has engaged in the sloppiest and most slanted coverage of climate change now for years. So it’s no surprise to me that the Telegraph would again publish a very misleading, slanted piece that took what I actually said out of context.

All that I said in that interview was that it was somewhat misplaced for the hockey stick to be made the central icon of the climate change debate, for the obvious reasons: It isn’t that there’s just one study. In fact, there are more than a dozen studies now that come to the same conclusion as our original work. That’s beside the point though, because paleoclimatic reconstructions are really just one line of evidence among multiple lines of evidence that indicate the Earth is warming, that the climate is changing in a way that is consistent with that warming, and that it can only be explained by the human influence on climate.

So, to pretend, as deniers like to do, that all of our understanding of human caused climate change rests on the so-called hockey stick is disingenuous, to say the least. I was simply pointing out in my interview just how disingenuous that argument is. Of course, it was twisted and contorted in the way that we now have come to expect: To imply that I was saying something other than I was actually saying. It’s really quite sad.

Here’s an old cartoon and a new roundup of headlines:

Climate Scientist Cleared of Altering Data – NYT

Mann Cleared in Final Inquiry by Penn State – NYT

2nd Penn State review clears climate scientist – Associated Press

Climategate Continues to Crumble – Time

Investigation clears ‘climate-gate’ researcher of wrongdoing – The Hill

An End to Climategate? Penn State Clears Michael Mann – CBSNews.com

Penn State clears Michael Mann again; legal battle continues in Virginia – Nature

‘Climategate’ scientist cleared a 2nd time – UPI

Penn State Clears Climate Scientist Mann of Climategate Wrongdoing – ENS

Climategate’s death rattle – Discover Magazine

Climategate Scientist Cleared in Inquiry, Again – Scientific American

Climate scientist Mann gets final exoneration from Penn State – Grist

Climategate Scientist Michael E. Mann Exonerated – Huffington Post

Penn State panel clears climatologist Michael Mann in e-mail case – Philly Inquirer

Climate scientist cleared by Penn State panel – Washington Examiner

University panel clears Mann – Daily Collegian

Penn State University panel clears global-warming scholar – Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Penn State Probe Clears Mann Of Wrongdoing – State College News

Michael Mann exonerated yet yet again – Science blog

CSW: Well that’s clearly something we’re going to have keep an eye on, follow up on, and document to bring to people’s attention. Let me ask you one last question. You were quoted recently with reference to the so-called ‘hockey stick’ graph from the temperature record study that you published in the late 1990s that is still a bªte noire of skeptics, contrarians, and deniers; sometimes they try to talk about it as if there were not a whole body of paleoclimate literature and subsequent work. You apparently made a comment to the effect that you were skeptical about how much of an icon that particular graph had become. Some of the deniers have jumped on that and said, “Aha! Michael Mann is walking back his conclusions about the temperature record.” What should people make of what you said, what is the appropriate way to take your comment?

MM: Yeah, this is all too predictable. This is what the climate change denial machine has been doing for years. What they’ll do is they’ll quote a statement out of context. In this case it was a statement I did in the course of an interview for the BBC. Then it’ll be turned into a news article in a fringe media outlet, in this case the Telegraph – which, in my view, has engaged in the sloppiest and most slanted coverage of climate change now for years. So it’s no surprise to me that the Telegraph would again publish a very misleading, slanted piece that took what I actually said out of context.

All that I said in that interview was that it was somewhat misplaced for the hockey stick to be made the central icon of the climate change debate, for the obvious reasons: It isn’t that there’s just one study. In fact, there are more than a dozen studies now that come to the same conclusion as our original work. That’s beside the point though, because paleoclimatic reconstructions are really just one line of evidence among multiple lines of evidence that indicate the Earth is warming, that the climate is changing in a way that is consistent with that warming, and that it can only be explained by the human influence on climate.

So, to pretend, as deniers like to do, that all of our understanding of human caused climate change rests on the so-called hockey stick is disingenuous, to say the least. I was simply pointing out in my interview just how disingenuous that argument is. Of course, it was twisted and contorted in the way that we now have come to expect: To imply that I was saying something other than I was actually saying. It’s really quite sad.

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55 Responses to Much-vindicated Michael Mann and Hockey Stick get final exoneration from Penn State — time for some major media apologies and retractions

  1. Bob Day says:

    I don’t suppose this will slow down Ken Cuccinelli at all. Oh well, at least it serves to show how utterly ridiculous his “investigation” is.

  2. Michael Tucker says:

    I think Dr Mann’s graph was first published in 1999 and the research clearly showed, for the first time, that warming is taking place and that it closely followed the rapid rise in CO2 concentrations. That is how I remember it but there may have been other temperature studies before Dr Mann’s. It completely unhinged the global warming denier crowd, a group I had been blissfully unaware of, and has continued to be a major issue (non-issue) ever since. I certainly hope we can get beyond this completely fabricated controversy.

  3. BB says:

    Is this the sort of ‘independent’ commission with which we want to investigate BP regarding the oil disaster?

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/05/20/what-questions-do-you-think-the-bp-disaster-commission-should-answer/

  4. Steve Bloom says:

    I expect the VA courts will soon put an end to Cooch’s witch hunt, Bob, since as UVA’s lawyers pointed out it obviously goes beyond the scope of the statute on which it was based.

  5. PSU Grad says:

    Those bleating “whitewash” and “not independent” had better come forward with the proof, including details of interviews with the panel members involved to determine the presence said “whitewash”. Because it turns out I studied under one of those professors and found them to have integrity beyond measure.

    So to the “whitewash” and “not independent” proponents….put up or shut up.

  6. I’m sure we’ll start seeing the “whitewash” claims repeated here shortly, so here’s a link to a post that investigates the likelihood that a tier-one research university would risk their reputation with a whitewash: http://www.scholarsandrogues.com/2010/02/15/psu-cover-up-extremely-unlikely/

  7. BB says:

    #7 … I provided a link that would detail what an independent commission would/should look like regarding the Mann investigation.

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/05/20/what-questions-do-you-think-the-bp-disaster-commission-should-answer/

    …that is ‘putting up’. You don’t need to be an advocate or a denier to know what a transcendent concept of ‘independent’ is when it comes to assembling a review panel. I’ve got a family member that studied under this same person you presumably mention, earlier in his career. Whether someone has ‘integrity beyond measure’ has absolutely nothing to do with who’s getting to determine that assessment. Who comprises the panel has a lot to do with its independence.

    I’m only beefing about the commission, so don’t take it personal as if I’m debunking its conclusions.

    [JR: Unlike the federal government, the university doesn't print money. The fact that Mann was investigated twice by a prestigious group of scholars is simply unprecedented in academia -- and that's above and beyond his vindication by the National Academy of Sciences, an ultra-conservative and uber-august body that hardly ever does that sort of thing.

    The point is, people who could be persuaded by any panel -- the vast sea of reasonable people in the country -- understand how impressive these exonerations are. For the professional disinformers, who, like Morano, have demanded public beatings, no commission would have changed their opinion. So what you are proposing would not actually make one whit of difference.]

  8. Rob Honeycutt says:

    I highly doubt this is going to sway the denier crowd one iota. They will view it of still further evidence of the grand cabal that science is engaged in.

    I say, let’s offer every denier a brand new Tesla Model S if they promise to be quiet. Ultimately it’s a small (yet highly vocal crowd) so such a program couldn’t cost that much. What they’re afraid of is that someone is going to take away their SUV anyway. I bet they’d settle for a $50,000 all electric sedan instead.

  9. John Mashey says:

    Joe: *of course* they asked Lindzen. Think about it.
    PSU tends to do things thoroughly.

    A lot of people know PSU from the football team and Joe Paterno, who became head coach while I was a PSU undergrad. I was Sports Editor of the yearbook one year, and lived in a dorm near the gym, which also had a bunch of football players …(There was no cushy “football dorm.”) Paterno teams have long been known for being very disciplined, perhaps most famously for the comparison with Miami in 1987 Fiesta Bowl, #1-vs-#2.

    If players get in trouble off the field:
    a) There’s a serious investigation.
    b) And if warranted, they are *gone* (unlike at some places).
    (and players *knew* that.)

    It’s been like that for 40 years, but it’s also reasonably representative of PSU style. [I still know and see folks there, including one of the committee members.]
    ===
    BS 68, MS 69, PhD 1974, Penn State

  10. PSU Grad says:

    BB #9:

    Sorry, but that’s not close to “putting up”. Strangely, your link fails to mention Mann, Penn State, or any of the panel members involved. And you cannot know which of the members I studied under as I purposely didn’t mention which on. So how can you possibly know it’s the same person? I’ll tell you….you can’t.

    So let’s try again. Provide the evidence to show the panel “whitewashed” the investigation. No supposition, no speculation, but cold, hard, evidence. At a minimum, I’d expect interviews with university personnel, including, but not limited to, the panel members.

    And yeah, I take baseless attacks on my alma mater personally. Always have, always will.

  11. BB says:

    I’m impressed at the number of PSU grads in the crowd… It is a highly respected school with an impeccable size of in-field and research family tree. :) btw … PSU ’98 for me.

    And J.R. … You are right…What I’ve (and by extension you–but toward a different entity) proposed probably wouldn’t have made a whit of difference)…other than being seen as an actual independent commission, in the eyes of a vast sea of reasonable people.

    #12. … I’m not debating or declaring any whitewashing or any conclusions of the commission, nor the content of the academic exonerations. You are failing to see my issue, and my comparison.

  12. MarkB says:

    Another denier talking point will predictably be “they didn’t take input from skeptics”. On the contrary:

    “The next question for Dr. Mann was posed as follows: “What is your reply to the email statements of Dr. McIntyre (a) that he had been referred to an incorrect version of your data at your FTP site (b) that this incorrect version was posted prior to his request and was not formulated expressly for him and (c) that to date, no source code or other evidence has been provided to fully demonstrate that the incorrect version, now deleted, did not infect some of Mann’s and Rutherford’s other work?” Dr. Mann responded by stating that neither he, nor many of his colleagues, put much reliability in the various
    accusations that Dr. McIntyre has made, and that, moreover, there is “no merit whatsoever to Mr. McIntyre’s claims here.” Specifically, Dr. Mann repeated that all data, as well as the source codes requested by Dr. McIntyre, were in fact made available to him. All data were listed on Dr. Mann’s FTP site in 2000, and the source codes were
    made available to Dr. McIntyre about a year after his request was made, in spite of the fact that the National Science Foundation had ruled that scientists were not required to do so. The issue of an “incorrect version” of the data came about because Dr. McIntyre had
    requested the data (which were already available on the FTP site) in spreadsheet format, and Dr. Rutherford, early on, had unintentionally sent an incorrectly formatted spreadsheet.”

    This also illustrates the frivolity and inanity of McIntyre’s qualms. He’s nothing more than a noise-maker.

  13. caerbannog says:

    Michael Mann’s lawyer is certainly reading this latest report with great interest, I would imagine…

    And here’s hoping that some of Mann’s detractors are approached by strangers who say nothing more than, “It’s been a pleasure to serve you.”

  14. MarkB says:

    The WaPost story wasn’t THAT bad compared to some other stuff they publish. At least they mentioned the “skeptic” was from a libertarian political group. At least they covered the story and had the correct title. Give them at least a B for that.

    They do leave out one important detail. The single minor criticism of Mann was characterized as:

    “While the panel called Mann’s decision to share “unpublished manuscripts with third parties, without first having received express consent from the authors of such manuscripts… careless and inappropriate”

    but if you read the rest of the paragraph in the PSU document, it notes that the consent was implicit – that it was among trusted colleagues. The story leaves it open to greater interpretation.

  15. Anonymous says:

    re: #13 BB
    You may not understand how badly flawed your comparison is.
    Try reading Brian Angliss’ nice piece mentioned at #8.

    Do you understand that serious universities have serious, standardized polices for dealing with accusations of academic misconduct, because this is a routine thing?

    “A bunch of people sent us incoherent emails complaining about one of our professors, and Fox news says he’s bad.” is NOT a rationale in Tier 1 research schools to junk their normal procedures, and go spend a lot of money&effort doing an independent outside commission … which some will still complain is not independent, unless the members were {Lindzen, Pat Michaels, Sallie Baliunas, David Legates, Fred Singer.}
    Clearly, to some people, if PSU picked any commission that failed to find Mann guilty of , then they must have picked a gang of friends guaranteed to do that…

    Academic misconduct investigation is a *standard practice*, typically under a VP of Research or equivalent, like at PSU.

    There’s a large difference between:

    1) Incoherent charges against a professor at a Tier 1 university, handled through standard procedures that get invoked often, to investigate whether or not there was anything to the charges. As Brian Angliss described, reputation is very important.

    and
    2) The BP issue, where the the the probability that something happened is 100%, and probability that it has huge effects is 100%, the need to make sure it doesn’t happen again is very high, where there is huge money involved, and where the ways companies work almost guarantee taking more risks than is good, sometimes.

  16. Mike says:

    Fox News owes MM an apology as well for the file name they chose for a picture of him: 020510_mann_monster_397x224.jpg

    http://www.foxnews.com/static/managed/img/Scitech/020510_mann_monster_397x224.jpg

  17. sod says:

    Bishop Hill did fire the first shot. many more will follow.

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/7/1/mann-cleared.html

    No surprise there then!

    comments are, as expected, worse. we will see a demonstration of conspiracy theories of the wildest kind.

  18. Wit's End says:

    Wow, JR, that post was the climate change version of a musical SYMPHONY.

    Rock on!

  19. fj2 says:

    Excellent post and reporting

    You should be lead contender for anchoring and or producer of 24-hour Global Warming Media News sure to come.

  20. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #19: Just so. The more thorough the investigation and exoneration, the deeper the usual suspects will claim the conspiracy goes.

  21. Leif says:

    Gosh, I’m confused. Does that mean that I should pay attention to the likes of Dr. Mann and disregard the opinions of FOX? The, not at all, “fair and balanced” news outlet, and has in fact been feeding me BS.
    I’m hurt.

  22. BB says:

    #17. I’m not going to bother with this anymore, other than to mention that you keep spinning my thoughts into an area I’m not challenging.

    I’m not trying to imply that the results of the PSU academic review is intrinsically fallable because of it’s methods. I’m only remarking that the panel is indeed non-independent. You may want to declare that you can set up perfect criteria that explain when independent reviews are always necessary, versus should never be permitted, but I’m not going there, and have not gone there.

    This argument belies the point that independent review panels are commonly accepted as a highly credible part of any investigative process…and when it’s not used, it’s something around which the wagons are circled.

    In politics, you could say that knowing that one side is going to vote against some legislation anyway absolves you from attempting to make something bipartisan, while on the other hand declaring the purity and nobility of some other cause to be so great so as to not be debatable or compromisable…but that doesn’t eliminate the widely held view that bipartisan support for legislation is more valuable than going it alone (much like multinational forces in war are more ‘worthy’ than going it alone, even if you feel the cause is just).

    If you don’t agree with things like this, then perhaps you are opening yourself up to people who believe the opposite of you doing the same with their point of view in such a way that you will have no say. I suppose you could argue that you hold the monopoly of truth, and therefore are the arbiter of when this sort of behavior is commendable, and when it’s reprehensible, but even if you do, you will lose the minds of everyone still unconvinced who are driven away by your methods.

  23. Lou Grinzo says:

    The Denier Industrial Complex Kooks will do what they always do when events go against them — they’ll double their bet and then lie about and misrepresent the event. In particular, expect to see lots of cherry picking and claiming the report says something it doesn’t.

    They use exactly the same tactics as the Borg from Star Trek: Attack, attack, attack, and never willingly give a millimeter.

    The West Antarctic Ice Shelf could break off, the Arctic ice could disappear for a month at a time, hurricanes could level half a dozen US cities, and drought and floods could kill millions around the world, and the hard core deniers will STILL refuse to yield. Think I’m kidding? There are still people walking around who insist HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, we never landed on the moon, etc. In time, the CC deniers will simply be recognized as more addition to the wackaloon club. The tragedy is the damage they’ll manage to do in the short run by delaying our response to this mess we’ve created over the last couple of centuries.

  24. MarkB says:

    By “independent”, BB really means they should have appointed witch hunters (the accusers) to the panel of the witch trial, rather than just taking and analyzing input from the witch hunters.

  25. ChrisD says:

    It should be noted that the UK investigation was independent. It didn’t make the slightest difference; the cries of “Whitewash!” were just as loud.

    In a way, I almost hope that Cuccinelli’s witch hunt doesn’t get derailed. Maybe a judicial exoneration would sway a few more people. But probably not.

    PS: Time’s nice headline on today’s news: “Climategate Continues to Crumble”

    Naturally, the running dogs at Time are also in on the conspiracy.

  26. Edward says:

    3 cheers. Professor Mann should sue for defamation if he can get his local law school to make it a class project. With all those denialists around, Truth needs all the help it can get.

  27. John Mashey says:

    re: #26 (and oops, I was #17, in a hurry)
    MarkB: no, I don’t think BB is saying that at all.

    I just don’t think BB understands academic procedures very well or the strength of the pressure to do this right. Do recall that sustained charges of serious research misconduct are usually The End, so people take this stuff seriously.

    1) A university might have a rule like:
    “For any charge of research misconduct, we will seek a totally-outside panel to assess this.”

    2) Or it could have a rule like:
    “For some charges, we will seek an outside panel, and for others, we will not, and here are the rules for deciding…”

    3) Or it could have a rule like:
    “The VP of Research will decide, based on what they feel like.”
    [That is probably not a rule that would attract good faculty.]

    4) Or it could have a rule like:
    “If random yoyos write enough incoherent emails, *without even filing a proper formal complaint of research misconduct*, then we will dump our normal procedures and do what they want.”
    [That rule would lose faculty.]

    Here is the relevant PSU Policy. As a PSU grad, BB can write to Hank Foley and explain why PSU’s policy should be changed, or why this case so special that standard policy should have been junked in this case and actually make useful arguments. BB: you have read the PSU policy? Right?

  28. mike roddy says:

    Keep the pressure on those charlatans in the media, Joe.

    Here’s my still all time favorite debunking of McIntyre and the “broken hockey stick”, when Gavin rose to the occasion on Realclimate:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/09/hey-ya-mal/

    I wish more scientists would show this quality of both writing and humor, along with disdain for people claiming to understand data better than the scientists who actually developed it.

  29. Charles says:

    BB, I appreciate your concern about independence of the review panel. They did, though, interview outsiders:

    “April 12, 2010: Dr. William Easterling, Dean, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University.
    April 14, 2010: Dr. Michael Mann, Professor, Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University.
    April 20, 2010: Dr. William Curry, Senior Scientist, Geology and Geophysics Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
    April 20, 2010: Dr. Jerry McManus, Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University.
    May 5, 2010: Dr. Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of
    Technology.”

    Yes, perhaps it would be best to have the panel itself composed of academics from other institutions, but as John Mashey pointed out, the PSU policy spells out the rules of inquiry conduct pretty clearly. Further, as others have said, in an age of transparency a university would be nuts not to take such inquiries very seriously since its reputation is on the line. A university administration is not likely going to “circle wagons” around one researcher when its entire reputation is on the line.

  30. Wit's End says:

    Lou Grinzo, you are on to something. Deniers object to that label. Let’s replace it with something no doubt more palatable, and certainly accurate.

    WACKALOONS!

  31. ChrisD says:

    @MarkB 16:

    The WaPost story wasn’t THAT bad compared to some other stuff they publish. At least they mentioned the “skeptic” was from a libertarian political group. At least they covered the story and had the correct title.

    Yes—in a little-read blog post. As far as I can see, the Post has provided no news coverage at all, either in print or online.

  32. John McManus says:

    Is there anyone out there who does’t believe that the Auditor in chief hasn’t replicated the hockey stick exactly as published?

    The Canadian mining industry is just a synonym for fraud. Remember Brex? Are you foolish enough to deal on either the Vancouver or Calgary exchanges?

  33. Wonhyo says:

    The exoneration of the climate scientists and the token correction by the papers is not enough.

    We need to investigate all parties involved in bringing up the false allegations in the first place.

  34. caerbannog says:


    A university administration is not likely going to “circle wagons” around one researcher when its entire reputation is on the line.

    A university the size of PSU typically will not hesitate to throw a researcher who brings in Mann-levels of outside funding (i.e. change under the sofa relative to the university’s total budget) under the bus if need be.

    Now for football coaches, that’s another matter. Fortunately for PSU, Joe Paterno was (and is) as squeaky-clean as they come.

  35. Raul says:

    Does sound bad if nonscientists get to pick who
    the scientists are at the leading Universities.

  36. Catchblue22 says:

    For me, the truly distressing part of this saga, and the entire global warming denial industry in general, is that a large block of our democracy has become resistant to searching for the truth about the world through rational enquiry. They instead use a parody of rational enquiry with its own flawed logic to form their views about the world. But the root of their views comes from the self-interest of a few very powerful individuals.

    A useful way of differentiating the Dark Ages from the Renaissance would be to say that in the Dark Ages, the Pope and those who influenced him decided what was true, while in the Renaissance and Enlightenment, Reason and logic became the ultimate arbiters of what was true. Need I say that the Dark Ages were hardly a period of great economic growth? After the Roman Empire became a theocracy, not a single large domed structure was built. If I am not mistaken, not a single large dome was built for over a thousand years in Europe after the Roman Empire became a christian theocracy. It was only after the rebirth of the Greek and Roman ideals of Reason that Europeans rediscovered the ability to build such difficult structures.

    While America has not degenerated to resembling the Roman Empire after Julius Caesar, it is useful to study the decline of the Roman Empire through works such as Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. What we should first remember is that the Roman Empire was actually quite democratic in its own way before JC. There was a powerful senate, and local leaders were elected yearly. A reading of Gibbons will give an idea of how bad political systems can get, and how far raw self-interest of the powerful takes a society down a road to disaster. What I have learned from reading Gibbons is that when the leaders of a society become so powerful that they dictate reality itself, the result is economic, social, and political decline of a type barely imaginable by most of us.

  37. mike roddy says:

    Good one, Catchblue, I’m glad others are still reading Gibbon, a habit I learned from my dad- an Army Colonel who sang opera.

  38. john atcheson says:

    I’m not a lawyer, but I would be considering charges of libel and slander against deniers at this point — not out of revenge, but rather to shut the bast**ds up, once and for all.

    It was in Pennsylvania that a conservative judge issued such a stunningly clear decision on creationism that they’ve been reduced to mumbling in the corner since. In that decision, the judge explained what science is — and isn’t.

    Beyond that, the personal nature of the attacks and the fact that the attackers implied motives and impugned the character of Dr. Mann seems to make them vulnerable to a suit.

  39. John Mashey says:

    I’m originally from Pitssburgh, PA area.
    The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review carried this (sort-of reasonable) story, surprising to me, given that it’s published by Richard Mellon Scaife…

    However, Lindzen came through for them (but see full article for context):

    “But Richard S. Lindzen, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of meteorology who disagrees with Mann’s work, called the school’s investigation a “whitewash.” Lindzen was interviewed by the Penn State panel during its investigation.

    “Penn State has clearly demonstrated that it is incapable of monitoring violations of scientific standards of behavior internally,” Lindzen said in an e-mail from France.”

  40. Dubliner says:

    Add Michael Graham to the lists of libellers. He defamed Michael Mann and Prof Jones on a national Irish radio station. Our libel laws are more protective of an individual good name than the US. I’m really delighted for Prof Mann.

  41. MarkB says:

    “Beyond that, the personal nature of the attacks and the fact that the attackers implied motives and impugned the character of Dr. Mann seems to make them vulnerable to a suit.”

    Yeah but it’s a long time and resource consuming climb. Contrary to denialist claims, climate scientists generally don’t have deep pockets, and prefer to do science than law. I’d chip in for a climate science defense fund, one that would be used to prosecute some of the key defamers.

  42. BB says:

    This may be off-subject…but maybe not.

    I’d be leery of trying to charge a Mann detractor with ‘libel’, because you can’t mandate the absolution by NAS, PSU, et al as the only evidence admissable in the trial. In fact, by taking someone to court over ‘libel’, you may end up giving that person the benefit of the ‘independent review’ they seek (through discovery and cross-examination). Perhaps just the court of public opinion would be the proper venue for airing claims of libel.

  43. mick smith says:

    The observatory posted this picture of the snow on its website.

    By Jeff Fish, Globe Correspondent

    Ignoring the calendar, which showed the beginning of the month of July, a dusting of snow fell Thursday on Mount Washington in New Hampshire, startling tourists and forcing the closure of the road to the top.

    “It’s not extraordinary, but it’s definitely interesting,” said Stacey Kawecki, a meteorologist for the Mount Washington Observatory.

  44. John Mashey says:

    re: #45 Mick
    1) I’m at a loss to understand the relevance of your post to Mann…

    2) BUT, if this is a “it snowed in July, so AGW isn’t happening” thing, you are perhaps unfamiliar with Mt Washington, *infamous* for bad/unpredictable/extreme weather, sometimes labeled the worst in the world, although that may be new Englanders bragging how tough they are.
    They often get snow in the summer months, although I’d guess less in July.

  45. J Bowers says:

    #44 BB: “In fact, by taking someone to court over ‘libel’, you may end up giving that person the benefit of the ‘independent review’ they seek (through discovery and cross-examination).”

    Thing is, it may also give an opportunity to prove that global warming is happening, and the evidence for it is clear, and be independently judged by a jury. I suspect it would also open up the contrarian “science” to rigorous exposure that would be on the record in law, as a scientific defence would need to be presented to make any case at all in defence. We all know that such “evidence” would likely be torn to shreds by a host of noteable scientists. It’s worth noting that the denialsphere only succeeds through snide, innuendo, and, quite frankly, lying. That would not succeed in open court, and it really would come down to the nitty-gritty and the nuts and bolts.

    Mann and others have studied the subject in incredible detail. If I were him I would certainly have no problem going up against these people. There would also be no grounds for the favourite denialist fallback position of crying “whitewash”, and if they did then their foolishness would be fully exposed for the sham position they often take.

  46. # 33 “Yes—in a little-read blog post. As far as I can see, the Post has provided no news coverage at all, either in print or online.”

    Well, try the NYT for doing the same thing. In only a tight-lipped 2 or 3 line story, they put this news on their Green Inc blog.

  47. Chris Winter says:

    John Mashey quotes Richard Lindzen: “Penn State has clearly demonstrated that it is incapable of monitoring violations of scientific standards of behavior internally,” Lindzen said in an e-mail from France.

    But we are supposed to believe that Lindzen, from his perch at MIT, sees what is really going on at Penn State.

    To quote the M*A*S*H character Col. Potter, “Horse-pucky!”

  48. BB says:

    #48.

    This is precisely why there needs to be an actual independent review of these matters, and each side should welcome this without caveats designed to protect against a negative outcome.

    Kind of like the “Scopes Trial” of our time.

  49. Die Zauberflotist says:

    Congratulations! This is a landmark finding in favor of Dr. Mann and climate science in general. I was never in doubt as to how it would be resolved. I trust, apologies for the spurious investigation have been delivered to Dr. Mann from the committee members involved. This decision clearly exonerates all those who were falsely besmirched in the aftermath of the theft of the so-called “climate gate” emails.

    This however is no time to rest. There are still deniers out there spouting lies and propaganda that must be refuted. There is a planet in peril that needs Dr. Mann and others to redouble their efforts.

  50. John Mashey says:

    re: #50 BB
    One more time, since you didn’t seem to listen before.
    Assuming you’ve read PSU’s policies and think they need to change:

    1) Write hank Foley.
    2) Tell him how you think the policies should be changed.
    3) Sign it with your real name and PSU degree(s).
    4) And *then* maybe post exactly what you’ve proposed.

    Why do you keeping saying this anonymously on a blog, rather than telling PSU? That’s not PSU style.

  51. I posted back in April about the coverage of the accusations vs. the exonerations of Drs. Jones and Mann in Climategate Coverage: Unfair & Unbalanced

    Web hits:

    Dr. Phil Jones accused of wrongdoing resulted in 64,700 hits in the first two weeks after the story broke.
    Dr. Michael Mann accused of wrongdoing resulted in 39,000 hits in the first two weeks after the story broke.

    When Dr. Jones was exonerated there were only 22,700 hits in the first two weeks after exoneration.
    When Dr. Mann was exonerated there were only 17,700 hits in the first two weeks after exoneration.

    News organizations:

    Dr. Phil Jones accused of wrongdoing resulted in 263 headlines in the first 42 days after the story broke.
    Dr. Michael Mann accused of wrongdoing resulted in 143 headlines in the first 42 days after the story broke.

    When Dr. Jones was exonerated there were only 24 headlines in the first 19 days after exoneration.
    When Dr. Mann was exonerated there were only 27 headlines in the first 25 days after exoneration.

    To see the charts and more details go to the blog post. Truly sad how this whole thing panned out but at least Drs. Mann and Jones can continue doing the science.

    The sign of a true pioneer is the number of arrows in his/her back

  52. BB says:

    #53.

    Good stuff…Thanks!

    (I believe it’s possible to pursue both tracks at the same time, because one involves sending a letter, and the other posting on a blog). Is part of the ‘PSU style’ sending a copy to others to proclaim that it has been completed satisfactorily?

    We’ll see if he (or they) even acknowledge receipt.

    Regardless, I still maintain that the eventual result of this transcendent scientific issue for our time will be some version of a Scopes Trial, and therefore, that might as well be a rough framework for the a major turning-point in public perception and understanding (much like it was then).

    Ironically, this notion didn’t even enter my head until I posted it here a few days back, a few days after I sent out my letter to Penn State. I suppose I forgot to check with you about all this before proceeding to the next step…my bad.

    Even still, my letter to Penn State wasn’t even exactly negating the efficacy of their review because of a lack of independence, because PSU has the right to conduct an investigation, internally or otherwise, as they see fit, and to set policy rules for such as they see fit (as I’ve also stated in this thread)…The rub for me has always been the lack of any independent scientific review of these events…especially in light of how often advocacy groups demand that same type of investigation out of so many of their targets as being the only way ‘to be sure’.

  53. The Wonderer says:

    The Washington Post ran an updated version of this story in today’s print edition, page A5. The contrarian paragraph was removed, but I find the paragraph on the “scandal” background curious and misleading.