Global Warming: Man or Myth?

Scientists can also wear their citizen hats

Chronicle of Higher Education Allows Smear-Job on Climate Scientist

with 18 comments

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

Appearing below is my letter of complaint sent to Philip Semas, President and Editor in Chief of Chronicle of Higher Education. I urge all of you to also send a letter or email message (CHE contact information). We must not allow scientists to be attacked, especially in a highly respected venue such as CHE. Consider the words of Edmund Burke above and act.

Why has Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) allowed one of its bloggers, Peter Wood, to smear noted climate scientist Dr. Michael E. Mann? Woods’ latest post, “A Culture of Evasion”, quite inappropriately compares Penn State’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky child rape case with that of its investigation of stolen emails that included messages from Dr. Mann. (Previous posts by Wood also maligning Dr. Mann include “Bottling Up Global Warming Skepticism” and “Climate Thuggery”.) Multiple international investigations, including one from the National Science Foundation, have carefully reviewed Dr. Mann’s email messages and have found no misconduct whatsoever. (For more on these investigations see

It is clear that Peter Wood finds addressing human-caused climate change inconvenient to his world-view and he hopes that somewhere in Dr. Mann’s emails there might be proof that the world is not rapidly warming so we will not need to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions. I wonder if Peter Wood also thinks a careful perusal of Sir Isaac Newton’s personal letters might end up disproving gravity thus allowing us to fly without spending money for an airplane ticket?

I have no issue with CHE allowing him to display his lack of understanding of well-understood science on CHE’s blog. After all, we are all entitled to our own opinions no matter how wrong they are and commenters on his blog have repeatedly tried to educate Mr. Wood about the settled fact of global warming. Isn’t that what the E in CHE is all about?

What is not acceptable is for CHE to allow Peter Wood or any other author to smear a well-respected scientist because of the writer’s political beliefs. It must be quite embarrassing to CHE that one of its bloggers is using a child rape case to achieve political ends and doing so under the mantle of CHE. CHE can repair the damage by immediately removing the article, admonishing Peter Wood, and issuing a public apology to Dr. Mann.


Scott A. Mandia, Professor/Asst. Chair – Physical Sciences
T-202 Smithtown Science Bldg.
Suffolk County Community College
533 College Road
Selden, NY 11764

Written by Scott Mandia

July 23, 2012 at 4:51 am

18 Responses

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  1. You accuse Wood of not understanding well-understood science. Maybe he doesn’t respect the mendacious Mann for his lack of understanding of well-understood statistical methods. Mann is not well respected, even among his fellow Hockey Team members, as the Climategate emails attest. Mann is, in fact, such a lightning rod of controversy, he has benefited the skeptics. Gore and Mann have been so easy to mock, if they did not exist, we would have to invent them.

    Mandia: My first inclination was to remove this inflammatory comment but on second thought I shall allow it for instructional purposes. This comment shows the typical MO of most climate change deniers. Make false accusations, ignore mountains of evidence, and somehow claim to know more about the field than the experts who do this for a living and have extensive educational and field training in the subject.

    Mike Mangan

    July 23, 2012 at 6:33 am

    • Mann is not well respected, even among his fellow Hockey Team members, as the Climategate emails attest.

      I’m sure if we had access to private emails about you and everyone else in the world, we’d learn that you and everyone else in the world, too, are not respected by your and their colleagues. (And while we’re at it, let’s not stop at emails: let’s get recordings of all the hallway conversations and phone calls where your and their names are mentioned.) I don’t know about Mann the person, nor do you. That’s none of my business. But I do know that his research is robust and has stood the test of time, as it has been cited repeatedly by other scientists and the criticisms of it from outside the scientific community have been shot down by the repeated investigations into it from scientists at the NAS on down. I trust scientists who operate from the scientific method and publish their work via peer-reviewed journals to a good job. I don’t trust those whose approach is to attack individuals via their private correspondence.


      July 25, 2012 at 9:37 am

      • Spot on about trusting those who follow the scientific method. In fact that is the only known definition of a scientist. But were you aware that Mann’s work couldn’t be replicated for several years because he left key details out of his paper? In other words, you *can’t* trust him?

        Brad Keyes

        July 26, 2012 at 9:46 am

      • Brad,

        This latest comment from you is pretty weak and it is quite easy to make Swiss cheese out of. However, before I start poking holes, I will give you the chance to retract the comment. Just say the word and I will remove the comment or edit it to your liking.

        I am trying to be a good sport here.

        Oh, and you might want to check this out. And also look up the word “key”.

        Scott Mandia

        July 26, 2012 at 11:46 am

    • Scott, I have a ton of others that are almost identical after my post on this episode. I finally made the decision that while they may email me their false allegations, they had no right to have them published. I like the way you handled this one.

      Danny Satterfield

      July 27, 2012 at 1:47 am

      • Thanks for your sense of fair play, Professor Mandia.

        It’s your blog, I’m a visitor, so feel free to make Swiss cheese out of my comment.

        Alternatively, rather than see this as adversarial, you’re also welcome just to explain what, if anything, I’ve misunderstood. (While I’ve looked at the link to Dr Mann’s citation web that you provided, which was interesting, I couldn’t tell how it would solve my objection.)

        I’ll happily retract my comment‚ and say sorry, if you can help me see that I was in error.

        As a bonus, I’ll also explain to my friends, several of whom share and would endorse exactly the view I just expressed, why they’ve been mistaken all these years. We’ll all modify our opinions in light of new understanding.

        Wouldn’t that be nice? A real teaching moment! Actual knowledge, extended across the deep gulf of climate incomprehension.

        You might actually win converts.


        PS In case of ambiguity, I was referring to the original and best Hockey Stick paper, the graph whose replication (from everything I’ve read) eluded the entire community for at least 4 years because (from everything I’ve read) Dr Mann did not disclose the things I called “key details” of his methodology. When I say it was unreplicable for 4 years, I mean that (from everything I’ve read) nobody (other than the authors) could figure out how *an HS shape* emerged from the input data. Competent, scientificly literate, statistically literate, numerate people followed the instructions in the paper, but (from everything I’ve read) it never output the *right* *shape*.

        Brad Keyes

        August 18, 2012 at 10:38 am

  2. Scott,

    Do you deny that there were numerous e-mails within the “Climategate” cache of e-mails that displayed skepticism towards Mann’s hockey stick?


    July 23, 2012 at 11:26 am

  3. *sigh* those suffering from anti-science syndrome (aka “ASS) just don’t seem to get it, despite this year’s record-breaking heatwaves and droughts. Apparently we are going to have to reach the tipping point before they get it, and then I’m sure they’ll be shouting louder than anybody else, blaming the lack of action on Dr Mann and Al Gore!


    July 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    • What else can be expected of people who’s skepticism, leads them to believe that, car exhaust is a form of plant food.


      July 24, 2012 at 6:46 pm

  4. papers like CHE make me ever more certain of the correctness of the policy I’ve followed after the Clinton presidency regarding the sources of information originating from the US.


    July 23, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    • That was a good policy for anything emanating from the Bush era. One of the reasons I gave some credence to the WMD claim was that, if it turned out to be untrue, I figured the American people would kick out the Bush team in 2004, I thought the Bush team thought the same, hence they would not make such a claim unless they were very certain.(I was not in favor of invading primarily because of the stances of the other countries) I ascribed more intelligence to the upper echelon of the Bush staff, and more certainly to the American people, than existed. I try and not repeat that kind of mistake.

      Steve Reed

      July 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm

  5. Professor Mandia, as you know, only an ignorant person is likely to deny climate change. You insinuate that Mike Mangan (the first commenter) denies climate change, but we can see for ourselves that he doesn’t, at least not supra. It’s all well and good to deplore “false accusations,” but you should probably try not to make them against your own guests. It vitiates any other merit your comment might (or might not) have.

    Mandia: Try Googling his name.

    Brad Keyes

    July 24, 2012 at 8:51 am

  6. Christine, you do realize weather and climate aren’t the same thing, don’t you? How ’bout next time you make a proctological diagnosis you try NOT to follow up with an argumentum ex posteriori.

    Brad Keyes

    July 24, 2012 at 10:23 am

    • Brad,

      I see nothing wrong with Christine’s comment. As we keep dumping more and more heat-trapping carbon into the air it is expected that there will be a greater frequency and intensity of heat waves, drought, fires, and floods, along with rising sea levels and ocean acidification. All of these have been predicted and observed. Where have you been?

      Scott Mandia

      July 24, 2012 at 10:52 am

  7. […] I wrote about the inappropriate blog post by Peter Wood appearing under the banner of The Chronicle of […]

  8. […] in the climate science community have responded to what they call a “smear” in a “highly respected venue” like The […]

  9. “I wonder if Peter Wood also thinks a careful perusal of Sir Isaac Newton’s personal letters might end up disproving gravity thus allowing us to fly without spending money for an airplane ticket?”
    Nice line illustrating just how specious much of this discussion is.

    Byron Smith

    August 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm

  10. Dear Readers:

    I will be posting agin on this matter soon at a major blog. if you sent a letter to CHE please forward to me.

    Scott Mandia

    August 18, 2012 at 10:50 am

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