Global Warming: Man or Myth?

Scientists can also wear their citizen hats

Dr. Michael Mann’s Exoneration

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RA-10 Inquiry Report: Concerning the Allegations of Research Misconduct Against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Department of Meteorology, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University (February 3, 2010)

As stated in the published report linked above:

Beginning on and about November 22, 2009, The Pennsylvania State University began to receive numerous communications (emails, phone calls and letters) accusing Dr. Michael E. Mann of having engaged in acts that included manipulating data, destroying records and colluding to hamper the progress of scientific discourse around the issue of anthropogenic global warming from approximately 1998. These accusations were based on perceptions of the content of the widely reported theft of emails from a server at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in Great Britain. … no formal allegations accusing Dr. Mann of research misconduct were submitted to any University official.

A formal inquiry was undertaken by the University to address the four major allegations.  The findings are listed after each allegation and these findings clearly exonerate Dr. Mann of any wrongdoing. 

Allegation 1: Did you engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions with the intent to suppress or falsify data?

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” 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.

Decision 1. As there is no substance to this allegation, there is no basis for further examination of this allegation in the context of an investigation in the second phase of RA-10.

Allegation 2: 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?

Finding 2. 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 ever engaged in, or participated in, directly or indirectly, any actions with intent to delete, conceal or otherwise destroy emails, information and/or data related to AR4, as suggested by Dr. Phil Jones. Dr. Mann has stated that he did not delete emails in response to Dr. Jones’ request. Further, Dr. Mann produced upon request a full archive of his emails in and around the time of the preparation of AR4. The archive contained e-mails related to AR4.

Decision 2. As there is no substance to this allegation, there is no basis for further examination of this allegation in the context of an investigation in the second phase of RA-10.

Allegation 3: Did you engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any misuse of privileged or confidential information available to you in your capacity as an academic scholar?

Finding 3. 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 ever engaged in, or participated in, directly or indirectly, any misuse of privileged or confidential information available to him in his capacity as an academic scholar. In media reports and blogs about Dr. Mann and other paleoclimatologists, those who are named in the CRU email files are purported to have been engaged in conspiratorial discussions indicative of a misuse of privileged or confidential information. Although it is not clear where the exact accusation lies in this with respect to Dr. Mann, it is inferred that the emails prove the case. Those who have formed this view feel that, in their capacity as reviewers, Dr. Mann and his colleagues had early access to manuscripts from other authors with whom they disagreed, and that they could somehow act on those to reject them for publication. Actually, when one does due diligence on this matter, and asks about what papers were involved, one finds that enormous confusion has been caused by interpretations of the emails and their content. In some cases, the discussion and related debate centered on papers that were about to emerge which members of the purported conspiracy had written, but which were simply under embargo. In other cases, the discussion and related debate centered on papers that have emerged in otherwise notable scientific journals, which they deemed to have been published with a lower standard of scholarly and scientific scrutiny. The committee found no research misconduct in this. Science often involves different groups who have very different points of view, arguing for the intellectual dominance of their viewpoint, so that that viewpoint becomes the canonical one. We point to Kuhn as an authority on how science is done, before it is accepted as “settled.”

Decision 3. As there is no substance to this allegation, there is no basis for further examination of this allegation in the context of an investigation in the second phase of RA-10.

Allegation 4. Did you 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?

Finding 4. After careful consideration of all the evidence and relevant materials, the inquiry committee could not make a definitive finding whether there exists any evidence to substantiate that Dr. Mann did engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities. It is the case that there has been a public outcry from some quarters that Dr. Mann and his colleagues did deviate from what some observers claim to be standard academic practice. All disciplines and scientific fields work within broad bounds of “accepted scientific” practice that apply to all researchers.

Decision 4. Given that information emerged in the form of the emails purloined from CRU in November 2009, which have raised questions in the public’s mind about Dr. Mann’s conduct of his research activity, given that this may be undermining confidence in his findings as a scientist, and given that it may be undermining public trust in science in general and climate science specifically, the inquiry committee believes an investigatory committee of faculty peers from diverse fields should be constituted under RA-10 to further consider this allegation.

In sum, the overriding sentiment of this committee, which is composed of University administrators, is that allegation #4 revolves around the question of accepted faculty conduct surrounding scientific discourse and thus merits a review by a committee of faculty scientists. Only with such a review will the academic community and other interested parties likely feel that Penn State has discharged it responsibility on this matter.

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Written by Scott Mandia

February 14, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

7 Responses

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  1. as a PSU alum in meteo, i am not so jovial about this ‘win’ as the program is in the cross hairs of further examination and scrutiny. i think this casts a long shadow on the program about real or perceived issues of scientific integrity. psu meteo professor should be held to a high regard, e.g., not the snark dr. mann writes on realclimate.

    Mandia: Ah, but look at the two groups who are aiming the crosshairs: a well-oiled group that is intent on shooting the messenger because they do not like the message and then those who have been fooled by this group into thinking there is a vast conspiracy. As to your snark comment, the Group at Realclimate have been far more diplomatic than those attacking RC and climate scientists in general.

    jfr117

    February 16, 2010 at 4:06 pm

  2. let’s be fair – both groups are well-oiled and shoot at-will at any message they do not agree with. unfortunately, this is what our ‘science’ has devolved into. but, the hyper-rhetoric surrounding dr. mann and his exploits will not go away. it may be your opinion that realclimate is more diplomtic, but that does not make it an appropriate forum or tone for psu professor. climate is a dynamic and comlex topic – questions, debate and discourse should be welcomed.

    jfr117

    February 17, 2010 at 10:24 am

    • The real conversation takes place in the peer-reviewed journals and scientists are not getting emotional there. Unfortunately, few in the public have access and that is where RC and other resources attempt to communicate to the general public. BTW, when was the last RC post by Dr. Mann that you believe to be snarky? I haven’t seen a post by him in quite some time.

      It has been my experience that when questions, debate and discourse are submitted to RC in a profesional manner and with supporting data, they respond in kind.

      Scott Mandia

      February 17, 2010 at 10:32 am

  3. unforunately the perception is that the peer review process has been either influenced or closed to outsiders (see CRU emails). there is a perception of data withholding, or release only after years. this is not a good thing.

    i just don’t see how this is helpful or enlightening:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/10/climate-cover-up-a-brief-review/

    jfr117

    February 17, 2010 at 10:57 am

  4. jfr117

    February 24, 2010 at 11:17 am

    • The science is not settled argument is a strawman argument typically used by those that wish to delay action to mitigate climate change. Nothing in science is 100% certain and there are always things to be learned. When scientists are >90% certain that catastrophic climate change is coming, do you really wish to wait for more certainty with the knowledge that if scientists are correct the waiting game just makes the outcome that much worse? Realclimate posted a good essay on the science is settled strawman which should be recommended reading.

      A few quotes that get to the heart of the matter:

      “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?”
      — Nobel Laureate Sherwood Rowland (referring then to ozone depletion)

      “Scientific knowledge is the intellectual and social consensus of affiliated experts based on the weight of available empirical evidence, and evaluated according to accepted methodologies. If we feel that a policy question deserves to be informed by scientific knowledge, then we have no choice but to ask, what is the consensus of experts on this matter.”
      — Historian of science, Naomi Oreskes of UC San Diego

      Scott Mandia

      February 24, 2010 at 8:55 pm

  5. Chris Mooney interview with Dr. Mann.

    Thanks to Climatesciencewatch.org for the information.

    Scott Mandia

    March 12, 2010 at 6:08 am


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