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Penn State reports

Filed under: — group @ 1 July 2010

The last part of the Penn State inquiry has now reported unanimously that Mike Mann did not engage in any activity that violated scientific norms. Quoting from the report conclusions,

Conclusion of the Investigatory Committee as to whether research misconduct occurred:

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.

What we said last time….

149 Responses to “Penn State reports”

  1. 51
    robert davies says:

    Re: #20 (Isotopius). Not exactly “on the record” when it comes from an anonymous nom de plume…

  2. 52
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Veidicar Decarian says: 2 July 2010 at 2:02 AM

    “I fully expect this situation to get even uglier and more bizarre.” – 30

    Of course it will.

    Continued denial of reality must, as more and more excuses must be found for the failure of the opposing ideology.

    We could do well by refreshing our familiarity with the writing of Stanislaw Lem.

  3. 53
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Vendicar Decarian@35,
    Oh, I am not sufficiently naive that I don’t thing there will be dark times, but dark times do not preclude the truth ultimately triumphing. And, if, indeed the majority of American voters are sufficiently deluded to reject truth, then certainly there will be dark times in the US. Dark times end. Perhaps not when we’d like or without great sacrifice, but they end.

    As Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you’ll eventually be found out.”

  4. 54
    caerbannog says:

    Here’s an example of what climate-scientists are having to put up with these days.

    Anthony Watts’ yahoo brigade went after Gerald North (TAMU) after Watts posted a piece about a poorly-written article in the TAMU student newspaper.

    Here is how Dr. North responded (from http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/17/an-aggie-joke/)


    Please correct the false impression left on your website. The item in the Texas A&M student newspaper was based on short interviews by phone. While there was no error in fact, the impression left is false. In the interview with me, I was referring to the temperature changes of our planet over the last century (about 0.7 deg C). The author switched abruptly to an interview with Professor Andrew Dessler who was not talking about the temperature over the LAST century but instead the IPCC prediction for temperature over the NEXT century (averaging over models about 3 deg C). I would not have known about this error except that my email box has been unusually loaded with hate mail today.
    Gerald North

    I’d hate to think about what sort of garbage lands in Dr. Mann’s in-box!!

    [Response: Well, you can get a taste here. – mike]

  5. 55
    Hank Roberts says:

    Correcting Caerbannog’s link, lose the trailing parenthesis; this works:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/17/an-aggie-joke/

  6. 56
    Edward Greisch says:

    Is there anything we can do to help, Mike?

    [Response: thanks Edward. please just keep doing what you (and so many others here) are doing, that is: correcting the misinformation/disinformation about climate science where it appears, and helping out down in the trenches. It significantly leverages our own outreach efforts w/ RealClimate, and it really does make a huge difference! Thanks again for all your help :) – mike]

  7. 57
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Ah, but the political right is trying to rehabilitate McCarthy, right, so it’s all good. Every day when I listen to the news, I think of H. L. Mencken saying, “Democracy is the theory that the little man knows what he wants…and deserves to get it good and hard.”

  8. 58

    Ray, (#57) you never seem to run out of apposite quotes!

  9. 59
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Kevin McKinney,
    It’s what I get for having an eidetic memory and being a fan of quotable authors–Twain, Mencken, Dorothy Parker, Wilde…

    With only those 4 you pretty much have a quote for every occasion!

  10. 60
    Isotopious says:

    Ray@38

    Yeah I Know!! I take it nice and slow, that way I don’t miss the really basic stuff. Problems that may seem complex and noisy can sometimes have very simple solutions.

    Anyway, if I find the solution I will be more than happy to share it. After all, Good will begets good will.

  11. 61
    Charles says:

    Like the others, I am happy to hear that you have been exonerated, Dr. Mann (no surprise there). I am also happy to see that the report highlights the extraordinary caliber of your contributions to climate science.

    This entire climategate episode has been a disgusting exercise in McCarthyism. I can only imagine the stress this has been causing you (not to mention others like Phil Jones). I can also imagine you will be happy to be able to spend more time doing the science and not having to deal with inquiries.

    [Response: Thanks very much for the kind words Charles. I hope that my colleagues in the UK, too, will be able to return to doing science full time soon. – mike]

  12. 62
    Deep Climate says:

    The predictable cries of “whitewash” have already started.

    http://deepclimate.org/2010/07/02/morano-and-lindzen-mann-exoneration-a-whitewash/

    Lo and behold, Marc Morano of Climate Depot has come through right on schedule, even comparing Mann to disgraced investment fraudster Bernie Madoff and calling Mann the “posterboy of the corrupt and disgraced climate science echo chamber” . And, the denialosphere’s star scientist, MIT meteorologist Richard Lindzen, has weighed in right behind him, echoing Morano’s “whitewash” characterization.

    Can the rest of the denialosphere be far behind? Oh, the sad – and presumably unintentional – irony of it all.

    This is the sort of thing you expect from Morano; after all that’s what he gets paid for. But the continual unsubstantiated and unfounded accusations against climate scientists from academics like Lindzen and Patrick Michaels are outrageous. You’d think there would be something about that in university codes of conduct, but maybe no one thought that profs would stoop so low.

    And make sure to read about Lindzen’s past escapades – including coaching Anthony Watts on the finer points of rhetorical statistics.

  13. 63
    JMurphy says:

    Congratulations to Mick Mann and I hope you can get back to concentrating on what you do best : research. Shame about the waste of time and money, though.

    I have seen some Denial sites concentrate on the bit about FORTRAN not able to be used on different computer systems – some self-proclaimed ‘computer experts’ are claiming that this cannot be the case because…they say so. Seems they will be concentrating on this aspect because they have nothing else. Sad but typical when you want to deny the facts.

  14. 64
    Geoff Wexler says:

    #23 Doug Bostrom

    Yours was a perceptive comment.

    The journal has now published a riposte from researchers whose emails were stolen from the University of East Anglia last November.

    [links removed , italics added]

    The phrase in italics is the latest media cliche adopted also by the BBC. It is irrelevant noise. If we filter out the gossip this is the outstanding question:

    Have de Freitas et al managed to justify the use of their ‘filtering-trick’ exposed in the Foster et al paper?

    If yes, please explain; I would read such an article. If not then why should they be allowed to sew confusion? Not everything is a matter of opinion. There are such things as errors. They have now failed to convince three referees. They also have the freedom to continue on the web. I followed the story about a year ago at Open Mind and think that this would be a good area to publicise and on which to make a stand. It may be a bit technical for a lay audience but there are many scientists,engineers ,mathematicians and school children who would follow the discussion and who might otherise think that the contrarians have had their ‘opinions’ censored.

    Serious journals are not the same as newspaper blogs which can be followed by trolls who never give up.

    Fred Pearce claims the role of special investigator. If so he must make it clear that he has read and fully understood the papers concerned. If not the New Scientist needs to appoint someone with the necessary skills to do it for him.

  15. 65
    M says:

    Yeah, the Contrarian reaction to the Fortran is annoying – both because it misses the big point, but also because it misses the small point: I remember _hating_ the process of upgrading to a new computer system because I had to rejigger all my scripts and makefiles and fortran libraries etc. I’m sure that if I had been a full-time programmer, instead of a full-time scientist with just enough programming know-how to get by, that my code would have been written in a more platform independent fashion (or that it would have been easier to transfer)…

    but, now that I think about it, all the people I knew who _were_ programming experts used to spend hours and hours every weekend installing, re-installing, and generally tinkering with their Unix systems, so yes, I think that maybe it should be expected that code compiled on and for one specific system will need work to compile on another system. (and also, it won’t give exactly the same answer, either: different systems round differently and have slightly different subroutines… usually only matters for the nth digit, but when dealing with chaotic systems, a difference in nth digit rounding will quickly yield macroscopic differences too)

  16. 66

    Just reflecting on the post & comments, it is perhaps not surprising that the vitriol–“scam,” “fraud,” and all sorts of dehumanizing names, we’ve all read this crap–that has routinely been directed toward climate scientists has had its effect. From this perspective, I suppose I ought not to be shocked that at least one person has felt the need to travel with bodyguards, at least on some occasions.

    Yet I am shocked, and saddened. It shouldn’t ever come to that. May it come to no worse ever, and may it come to better–soon.

  17. 67
    Rattus Norvegicus says:

    M,

    You hit the nail on the head. As a professional systems software developer for 25 years, these sorts of problems were endemic when moving a program to a new system, especially if the author of said program was not aware of the issues involved in porting a program to a new environment. This does not even begin to address the issues involved in porting numerical code in the days before floating point processing was standardized by the IEEE, a process which thanks to Intel really was not complete until the late 1990’s. And of course the problem involved with having the correct 3rd party libraries.

    I can certainly see why Mann might have been reluctant to supply code to someone who was looking for accuracy right down to the last digit. It wasn’t a question of getting the code to run and produce reasonable results in this case, it was a question of having the code run and produce identical results in the face of someone who was hostile to you and your results and would grasp at any straw to try and discredit you.

    Just as an aside, one of my jobs in a small shop was integrating changes from new drops of USL/AT&T System V code drops and building a new release for other engineers. Part of this process was using the old compiler to build the new compiler and then building the new compiler to build the new compiler. Only then was the output of the compiler considered stable enough to build the system. Compilers do make a difference, as does the choice of optimization and other switches — something which garden variety makefiles do not usually take into account (in fact, the only system which did this even passably well was the GNU automake stuff, and even that was occasionally less than perfect). Mann had a very good point here and I don’t see how self appointed experts quoting “The Devil’s DP Dictionary” (which by the way is pretty funny) takes away from that.

  18. 68
    Rattus Norvegicus says:

    In that last comment “building the new compiler to build the new compiler” should have read “using the newly built compiler to build the new compiler”.

    Ugh, I hate comment boxes.

  19. 69
    Isotopious says:

    Barton @42

    Yes I guess it would seem a little weird for an author not to give permission to use a figure such as the hockey stick in a report by which the same author is participating, but it is possible.

    I can’t help thinking that it’s a little disappointing the research has been branded a “hockey stick”. A bit like “spaghetti graph”, etc…

  20. 70
    Kate says:

    Congrats, Mike…not that the report comes as a big surprise. Hopefully you will be able to relax now and get back to your work – it looks like it’ll be an exciting year in terms of temperature and sea ice.

    Keep up with all the great contributions you make to science and science communication, we are very much indebted to your hard work. Don’t let the desperate deniers get to you!

    Kate
    http://climatesight.org

  21. 71
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Well I’m glad for this result but really, the whole thing has been ridiculous. Whitewash? There is nothing to whitewash.

    But watching the way some people reacted to the email attack, I decided that I have some advantages. Keep reading.

    1. I was already very familiar with quotation abuse aka quote mining. See quotations and Misquotations and The Quote Mine Project. So my reaction to the email “revelations” was What? Is that all from 13 years of private emails that can even be made to sound bad out of context? These climate guys must be saints!

    2. I was also familiar with Denialism as a defined term referring to a particular set of rhetorical tactics. If you are not technically familiar with the term, take the time to learn now. Read the Denialists’ Deck of Cards and also this recent discussion. Denialism does not require any one psychological state, and does not require explicitly denying something. It is a set of tactics.

    “I’ve written some awful emails.”

    Good! I’m glad to hear it! What I hope for is the release of a few hundred emails saying “So and so is being an idiot again, and here’s why.” The email thieves must already have seen them. Let the rest of us in on the fun.

  22. 72
    Veidicar Decarian says:

    It’s what I get for having an eidetic memory and being a fan of quotable authors–Twain, Mencken, Dorothy Parker, Wilde” – 50

    Here is a quote for you…

    “We need to manufacture an crisis in order to assure that there are no alternatives to a smaller government.” – Jeb Bush – Imprimis magazine 1995

  23. 73
    dhogaza says:

    “You hit the nail on the head. As a professional systems software developer for 25 years, these sorts of problems were endemic when moving a program to a new system, especially if the author of said program was not aware of the issues involved in porting a program to a new environment. This does not even begin to address the issues involved in porting numerical code in the days before floating point processing was standardized by the IEEE, a process which thanks to Intel really was not complete until the late 1990’s. And of course the problem involved with having the correct 3rd party libraries.”

    Yes, indeed. Practical portability has made huge strides in the last couple of decades (and the more or less universal adoption of the IEEE floating point standard has had a lot to do with this for numerical computing).

    But it goes beyond that. Modern open source software comes with an auto configuration script which probes the hardware/software platform and configs the compiler commands with the resultant information, but this is quite recent, and generating such config files is a bit of a PITA. I’d be amazed if a scientific group like Mann’s attempted to provide the kind of portability that a team writing some generalized software utility would do, even today, with modern tools. And given the legacy nature of their home-brewed code, if it were truly portable as the Fortran 77 worshippers claim it should be … they should be admitted to some kind of software engineering hall of fame, regardless of the scientific merit of the code.

  24. 74
    Veidicar Decarian says:

    Paul Krugman / Starve the beast: Fiscal calamity is the GOP’s plan to shrink government

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10054/1037783-109.stm#ixzz0sah6kWyc

    This is the attack vector to use against the Denialists. Expose them as the Lying Traitors they are.

    Economists have sought fit to insinuate themselves into the Climate Debate. It is long past due that scientists insinuate themselves into the Economic debate.

    I remember an article in the 1979 issue of Scientific American (when it was a real science magazine), in which Martin Gardner took supply side economics to task. It was a powerful critique, but didn’t reach a wide enough audience.

  25. 75
    Veidicar Decarian says:

    The automatic editor removed a portion of the quote I posted earlier. A human editor removed the correction.

    Here it is again.

    “We need to manufacture an :economic: crisis in order to insure that there are no alternatives to a smaller government.” – Jeb Bush – Imprimis magazine 1995

    Now 50% of the American People are accepting of such open statements of Treason.

    What does that say about their ability to be reasoned with?

  26. 76
    Nick Gotts says:

    Excellent news! Congratulations to Mike Mann for this well-deserved vindication!

    I’ll perhaps have something more substantive to say when I’ve read the full report.

  27. 77
    Don Thieme says:

    I never thought that Mike had anything to worry about. I was actually quite surprised that university administrators would give academic weight to spurilous allegations from the popular press, and I truly hope that this does not become a trend. This is precisely what tenure is supposed to protect us from.

  28. 78
    Dean S. says:

    RE: denial, truth, etc…
    I saw a bumper sticker the other day that relates…a quote from Arthur Schopenhauer: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

    As for the amount of time(or pain and suffering of proponents like Dr Mann)it takes to get from stage two to stage three, hmmmm…

  29. 79
    DVG says:

    #35: “There are people who simply can not be reasoned with. American Conservatives – who are now comprise the largest block of voting Americans – are such a group.”

    Funny, that’s EXACTLY the same thing those American Conservatives say about those who say that about them.

  30. 80
    John Mashey says:

    re: #77
    Don: I think you are misinterpreting this and perhaps underestimating the PSU administration. [I still know some Deans, and talk to people there regularly.]
    They are not dummies, and PSU (like most good schools) has regular procedures to follow. Think some more about what you’d want a university to do…

  31. 81
    Edward Greisch says:

    Post comments on
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/01/AR2010070104391.html

    Veidicar Decarian: “No government” would leave the corporations in charge. The answer is that corporations are quasi-governments. As is obvious from the BP oil volcano and the GW crisis, governmental regulations are required to maintain civilization.

  32. 82
    Rod B says:

    Veidicar Decarian (74), What on earth does a push for smaller government have to do with climatology? For that matter how does Krugman mocking that concept enhance ACC? Krugman’s climatology credentials (peer reviewed papers e.g.) are what exactly? I’m afraid you will drown in your own foam before you get anywhere near Norquist’s bathtub!

    If you are simply trying to say climate scientists ought to get more involved in politics and economisc per recent RC threads, I would agree (though not all — some are not very good at it.) But it’s hard to see the light through all of the fire, smoke and brimstone.

  33. 83
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    Long time lurker. Thank you all for what you do. Even the Canutes (my name for “climate sceptics”) do us all a service by planting their feet in the sand here. You guys wash over them every time, while educating and informing to boot. Congratulating Dr. Mann seems rather redundant. While we’re at it here’s a medal for crossing the street. Unfortunately I expect the harrassment will continue. I think the best solution might be a team of aggressive lawyers to do for science what the ACLU does for civil liberties. In any event thanks again. I can’t imagine I’ll have more to say but please keep up the good work.

  34. 84
    dorlomin says:

    Is there an equivelant of something like Richard Alleys “The biggest control knob” presentation to the AGU for the past 1000 years reconstructions? I have found things like that, Peter Sinclares videos and Potholer 54s youtube videos very usefull when debating climate online.

    I am looking for something that covers what proxies are used, how the reconstructions are put together and what the error bars and things like that are?

    Admitedly such a video may not exist.

  35. 85
    ZZT says:

    Why did the review besmirch the fine reputation of FORTRAN-77 for portability?

    Or does all the scientific fortran-77 on the web only work in the hands of its myriad of authors, and on only their own machines?

    [Response: It takes substantial effort to maintain portability of fortran code across different compilers and platforms, and without that effort, it probably isn’t instantly portable. The main issue is how strictly the compiler you use sticks to the standard – many have obvious extensions, which are nontheless not universally supported. Some uses of library functions – like NAG for instance – are proprietry and would need to be installed on each new platform. Plus, if it is important to you, the code will not be bitwise identical. Your point? – gavin]

  36. 86
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Rod B says: 3 July 2010 at 1:44 PM

    What on earth does a push for smaller government have to do with climatology?

    Well may you ask. A lot of people confuse the two issues.

    Some guy called Willis Eschenbach argues that IPCC “often” resorts to “propaganda” from Greenpeace and the WWF (World Wrestling Federation? No.) citing statistics from NoConsenus, self-appointed “auditors” of the IPCC who have neurotically sifted through all 18,000 cites in the IPCC 2007 synthesis looking for Communists, closet Jeffersonians, etc.

    Although it turns out after a little calculation that “often” in Eschenbach’s mind equates to something like 11/100ths of 1%, what I found really interesting were the supplementary materials at “NoConsensus”, where we may read that people with environmental concerns are like murderous Stalinists, asking questions will be illegal in the future, politicians who don’t bow down to the IPCC will be jailed. The list goes on. Turns– out according to NoConsensus– the IPCC is the smiling public face of Totalitarian Rule, an organization that will bring us under the boot heel of faceless UN bureaucrats who will never rest until “free speech and other democratic rights have disappeared.”

    Just a wee bit conflation of climate science and politics, like the “old” Luntz except with a case of rabies progressed 45 days.

  37. 87
    Tony O'Brien says:

    This must have been a serious distraction to Michael Mann’s work and even though he knew he was innocent still a real worry.

    I keep on seeing truth will out, but will it out in time or will Kurt Vonnegut be right. You here at Real Climate will be able to rest easy, despite heavy work loads you have taken time to inform us all.

  38. 88
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Vendicar Decarian,
    I think one can disagree about the role and size of government and still agree that civilization should be preserved and policy should be driven by good science. If we pit ourselves against all conservatives, we will lose. If they insist on allying themselves with the anti-reality faction that now dominates much of their party, we will all lose.

    What is needed is to come together and agree on intelligent policy driven by evidence-based science and appropriate risk assessment. We know what needs to be done. The difficulty lies in each side wanting to vanquish the other in the process.

  39. 89
    Edward Greisch says:

    Another form of attack is to say “We did it first and those Climate scientists screwed up royally way back then.” Meaning that climate scientists’ predictions are no better after 40 years of improvement.
    http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/07/nixon-was-told-sea-level-would-rise-by.html#more
    is a confabulation about Nixon and GW. I remember the Nixon administration well, and there was no news about GW then. I was working for the US government then. Does anybody remember anything I don’t about Nixon administration climate science? I did attend the first Earth Day.

    82 Rod B: By “smaller government” they mean “no regulations on whatever crime I want to be legal.” You have to decode.

  40. 90
    Rod B says:

    One Anonymous Bloke, Not another name!!?? I can’t keep up with it all. Forget who I am….

  41. 91
    Rod B says:

    Doug Bostrom, sounds like Eschenbach could use one of them thar Norquist bathtubs!

  42. 92
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Rod, that circles back to Stanislaw Lem, “Memoirs Found in a Bathtub”, heh!

  43. 93
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=“Richard+Nixon”+”climate+change”

  44. 94

    Good. Not that all this investigation here and abroad should have been necessary…

  45. 95
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “As is obvious from the BP oil volcano and the GW crisis, governmental regulations are required to maintain civilization.” – 81

    To a Libertarian, what do you think the word “free” in “free market” means?

    Don’t expect to be able to reason with the ideologically driven. They will simply reject logic.

  46. 96
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “If we pit ourselves against all conservatives, we will lose.” – 86

    IF that is what you think then you have already lost with ZERO potential to win.

    You might as well quit complaining and resign yourself to the loss.

  47. 97
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Edward #87, dunno about Nixon, but in the mid-1970’s there was some scientific speculation about a sudden collapse of West Antarctica that crossed news tresholds. This would be in the ball park for ten feet.

    This Moynihan memo looks weird. His doubling sensitivity would be some ten degrees centigrade… perhaps a naive inversion of the glacial/interglacial relationship? But of course he wasn’t a scientist.

  48. 98
    Sy says:

    So Mann is completely cleared of any research misconduct… But who will actually know about it? People who read RealClimate and Deltoid, and those who read Climate Audit (who will be told it was all part of the global conspiracy anyway).

    But the impact of the media coverage surrounding the CRU hack went way beyond people who read climate science and sceptic blogs, the allegations of fraud were plastered all over front pages of mainstream newspapers. Now that those allegations have been investigated and (again) are shown to be baseless do we see equally prominent pieces in those publications stating that they were wrong and there was no scandal? Of course not.

    http://mediaecologies.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/psu-mann-cleared/

  49. 99
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Moynihan, Nixon Library news
    And Moynihan got this reply from the Office of Technology Assessment:
    http://nixonlibrary.gov/virtuallibrary/documents/jul10/55.pdf
    It’s a useful reminder, as these letters were only recently released, that much history is hidden for a long time. Note the use of ‘silent majority’ (a term that Nixon’s team found very useful in asserting support from anyone who didn’t disagree).

  50. 100
    EL says:

    I did not see anything in the CRU files that suggested any kind of scientific wrong-doing. I remember that some people were taking issue with words like trick, but it was all nonsense.

    Although Mann was cleared by PSU, I don’t think anything will change. Global warming is not about science in the minds of most skeptics; instead, I think it is a mixture of politics and greed. To them, this report will be another example of a conspiracy to raise taxes.