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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. 1

    Allow me to head off some of the accusations of “whitewash” that are certain to show up. The following link is to a post that shows how unlikely it is that a tier-one research university like Penn State would risk their reputation for any researcher, even one with the reputation of Michael Mann:

    [Response: Thanks very much for weighing in on this Brian. -mike]

  2. 2
    Steve Bloom says:

    Good. Hopefully the VA courts will terminate the state AG’s lame attempt to launch a fishing expedition into Mike’s UVA research, and that will be an end to this sorry episode.

    Joe Romm’s post has a lot more detail.

  3. 3
    David B. Benson says:


    Never doubted this outcome.

    WOuld call the whole affair a tempest in a teapot if it hadn’t be so carefully motivated as to raise doubts…

  4. 4
    Chris Colose says:

    Hopefully this means that the myriad untrue and unfounded allegations against Dr. Mann will cease. I suspect this will not be the case, but it’s a shame that a scientists reputation has to be put on the line through blog wars rather than through the accomplishments he has achieved within the institutions of science (the peer-reviewed literature, professorship, scholarly conferences, etc).

    After going through the document, I am curious as to why Dr. Lindzen appeared for questioning. He has no expertise in paleoclimatology and the issue of conflicted interests should have been known to the panel, unless a “skeptical voice” of someone who actually has credentials in the field was wanted for balance.

  5. 5

    Great news for Mike and hoping this round of silliness is over…

    I updated my page:

    Ciao, from Italy :)

    [Response: Thanks John! -mike]

  6. 6
    Doug Bostrom says:

    How nice to finally see the curtain come down on this plot-thin Kabuki theater. Doubtless we’ll see some attempts at revivals by rural amateur theatrical troupes but clearly this script was never ready for wide acceptance by discerning audiences.

  7. 7

    Chris C – I’m sure that “skeptics” will claim that the panel was too afraid of interviewing McI or McK and so they went for someone who wasn’t an expert (Lindzen) to give the whitewash a high gloss. But as you say, the Ms don’t have credentials in the field, while Lindzen does.

  8. 8

    They say the best form of defence is to attack.

    Isn’t it about time that Mike’s accusers are named and charged with harassment.

    It is all very well the University court finding him not guilty but the mud will stick, and the verdict claimed to be a whitewash.

    It is time scientists realised that they are in a war. There are no rules in love and war. The sceptics know that. So long as they can get away with their lies and false accusations scot-free, then the battle for the future of the planet will be lost.

    Cheers, Alastair.

  9. 9
    sod says:

    good news.

    but i fear the “sceptics” will be extremely “sceptic” of this result.

    brace for impact! there will be a barrage of articles which claim whitewash and propose extreme conspiracy theories.

    i also expect single words or tiny paragraphs of the result seeing extreme interpretations.

    watch out for highlights of the word “seriously” for starters…

  10. 10
    dhogaza says:

    Yeah, sod hit on exactly what I cut out of the quoted statement:

    that seriously deviated

    That’s going to be the hook, and they’ll ignore everything else. “oh, only deviated, just not SERIOUSLY deviated, eh? Guilty as charged.”

    It’s impossible to write absolutely defensively against the quote-mine machine, but I wish this had been written a bit differently.

    Anyway, congrats to Dr. Mann, not that anyone rational had any doubts as to the outcome.

  11. 11
    caerbannog says:

    Here’s hoping that some of Mann’s detractors get brief visits from strangers who say nothing more than, “It’s been a pleasure serving you”…

  12. 12
    Phil Clarke says:

    Do you find the defendent guilty or not guilty?

    Not Guilty M’Lord.

    And is this the verdict of you all?

    It is M’Lord.

    Have you anything to add?

    Yes, we have. Dr Mann’s 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. Dr Mann’s work, from the beginning of his career has been recognised as outstanding […] 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 the accepted practices in his field.

    I cannot overstate this: nobody should have to go through this inquisition for the simple act of doing their job and doing it, by all accounts, in a world-class manner. Congratulations seems the wrong word, somehow, so I express my hope that the conclusion of this final investigation grants Dr Mann and others the freedom to continue their vital research in the environment of privacy and professional respect that most of us take for granted.

    ClimateGate. SO last year.

  13. 13
    Ani says:

    My hat is off to you guys. You are at the top of your profession and even with what some of you are going or gone through you may have found that being a good citizen has more burdens than you thought. But keep going because the world needs you.

    [Response: Thanks for the kind words. -mike]

  14. 14
    DavidCOG says:

    George Monbiot, Fred Pearce:

    “OK, maybe we over-reacted just a little….”

    [tumble weed, crickets chirping]

  15. 15
    MarkB says:

    Re: #7

    “I’m sure that “skeptics” will claim that the panel was too afraid of interviewing McI or McK and so they went for someone who wasn’t an expert (Lindzen) to give the whitewash a high gloss.”

    They did appear to take input from McI. It also illustrates the frivolity and inanity of McIntyre’s qualms. He’s nothing more than a noise-maker. Sadly, there’s ample demand for that noise among part of the general public.

    “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.”

  16. 16

    #8 Welcome back Alastair, Here here! I second your statements, But who will investigate the accusers? By the way who are they? Let us know, let everyone know…

    Professor Mann, the results of your hard work and colleagues show on the top of our planet by a new vast summer ocean of water. No accuser, nor arm chair tyrant contrarian can change that. All we have to do is show the world, and carry own with some action. I admire your courage and persistence! I am sorry for us all, incapable of foresight, mired by the lunacy of waiting for the abyss before we do something…

    [Response: Thanks for the kind (and sobering) words Wayne. -mike]

  17. 17
    Deech56 says:

    Mike, good to read of this. I hoist a bottle of ale to your good name and look forward to your next opus. (Hey, it’s my Friday for a 4-day weekend.)

    [Response: Thanks Deech, I think I’ll share in on that myself this weekend :) – mike]

  18. 18
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Excellent news.

    Some reservations.

    1. Decision 4 appears to contradict the title of the report. The aim of the this band of extremist contrarians is to have an unending series of semi-judicial inquiries so that they can avoid having to confront the science.

    We all hope for the end of this series but the chances are that there will be yet another stunt followed up another orchestrated campaign of libel.

    2. How many people will even hear of this verdict? In the UK last Monday, Panorama preceded their very brief interview with Michael Mann by repeating some of the allegations against him. There was no mention of the initial exoneration of him or of the fact that this report was on its way. The programme ended by suggesting that the BBC will really be able to get to the bottom of this when the next CRU report comes out. They hardly bothered with the last Oxburgh one and have not yet (?? as far as I know) reported this one.

    It would be interesting for pollsters to ask people about their knowledge of all of these inquiries. On second thoughts the propagandists may already have done this privately to check up on their own efficiency.

    3. The closest this gets to the substantive science is the mention of the paper by Wahl and Ammann which Michael Mann showed to a colleague. When discussing this, it may be worth mentioning its relevance to the maths i.e that it helps to show Wegmann’s conclusions (in the Senate appointed inquiry) about Mann’s stats were misleading and that the UK’s version of the echo chamber including propagandists like Nigel Lawson, Melanie Philips and Christopher Monckton who go on and on about statistical fraud were always wrong.
    By the way the BBC’s versions of the allegations often include the assertion that Jones and Mann have exaggerated future climate change. That would translate into large estimates for the climate sensitivity. I have never seen such high estimates. Have I missed something?

  19. 19
    Chris Colose says:

    Not surprisingly, the comments at CA are almost all *unanimously* devoted to attacking the integrity and structure of the investigation committee now. There always needs to be a conspiracy or someone being dishonest in order for the blogosphere and the universe to exist in harmony. Though, I think it speaks volume when the only point Dr. Mann was really criticized on was distributing an unpublished document to close colleagues, yet even this was followed up with agreement for said papers authors concerning implicit permission for distribution. I agree with comment #12…”climategate is so last year”

    Hopefully Dr. Mann can now rest easy and grace us with more posts at RealClimate.

  20. 20
    Isotopious says:

    Not guilty? Yep, good news. But for the record, I still think Mike is a little guilty when he (and the other authors) allowed the IPCC reports to put an unnecessary amount of emphasis on his temperature reconstructions.

    It could have been done better.

  21. 21

    This finding is exactly as I understood the issue except for one minor wrinkle. While I agree that publishing code in FORTRAN77 is a bit iffy, Matlab is hardly more accessible. It’s an expensive proprietary product. Nonetheless Dr Mann is not a computer scientist so this is an understandable misconception.

    I particularly like the way they have paid attention to the change in standards over time of data and code publication. Many people forget that in 1998, it wasn’t practical to set up a free repository for a large data set. Even if you had the server to do it, only those in very well funded research groups could afford to download it. The fact that you can buy a terabyte of disk today for less than $100 and fast broadband to the home is commonplace are very recent developments in an industry that has sustained exponential price-performance improvement over decades.

    For those with a computer science background, it’s been pretty obvious all along what this is: a denial of service attack.

    Meanwhile AMSU-A near surface layer still shows 2010 as a breakout year, as I described in my blog in April.

    This seems an opportune time to solicit more signatures in my pro-science petition.

  22. 22
    ChrisD says:

    “There always needs to be a conspiracy or someone being dishonest in order for the blogosphere and the universe to exist in harmony.”

    Of course. As I never tire of repeating, this is Conspiracy Theory 101:

    “Any exculpatory investigation is a whitewash.”

    It doesn’t matter who did the investigation, what their findings were, or how much evidence they provide. If it doesn’t come out in favor of the conspiracy theory, it is ipso facto a whitewash.

  23. 23
    Doug Bostrom says:

    DavidCOG says: 1 July 2010 at 5:32 PM

    George Monbiot, Fred Pearce:

    “OK, maybe we over-reacted just a little….”

    Perhaps worried about the melting condition of his magnum opus examining decades-old emails and thus its premature consignment to remainders tables or heating plants, Pearce is currently promoting McLean’s ginned-up controversy over failure to be published, which is (un)hinged on the premise of a conspiracy.

    Leveraging convenient timing, Pearce extends his book’s shelf-life with this article ‘Climategate’ jibes fly over El Niño impact on warming in New Scientist, centered on a pamphlet by McLean et al, as featured on Christopher Monckton’s low resolution simulation of a policy institute.

    By “jibes flying” Pearce actually means dark mutterings about “shenanigans” by Chris de Freitas.

  24. 24
    Joseph Romm says:

    My discussion is here.

    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.

  25. 25
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Really, I had no idea Dr. Mann was so influential that he could determine what the IPCC determined to publish.

    Methinks perhaps you are a little bit disingenuous.

  26. 26
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Alastair says: “It is time scientists realised that they are in a war. There are no rules in love and war.”

    While there are no rules in love and war, there is strategy and there are tactics. Some bring victory and others defeat. The one weapon our opponents can never weild against us unless we allow it is the truth. Do not underestimate that weapon. It has never lost in the long term.

  27. 27
    Doug Bostrom says:

    I’m wondering if impressionists have shot themselves in the foot with this whole thing by becoming so loudly hysterical about it, thereby making the anticlimax all the more obvious. Here’s the counterpoint to Mann as delivered in the NY Times:

    The e-mail messages led climate-change skeptics to accuse mainstream researchers…

    Like the earlier report from Penn State, the new one was assailed Thursday by advocacy groups skeptical of the case for human-induced climate change.

    “Advocacy groups.” Pleasantly accurate and marginalizing language there.

    The quoted advocacy group was the Competitive Enterprise Institute which is funding important exploration of stamp-licking by “Senior Fellow of Presort First Class Bulk Postage Research and Visiting Mail Room Clerk” Chris Horner.

  28. 28
    Deep Climate says:

    My commentary echoes much of the comments here.

    But there are also some interesting details in the report, beyond the obvious rejection of specious accusations.

    For instance, Richard Lindzen was interviewed (in the context of data sharing practices) and expressed shock and surprise when informed of Mann’s exoneration on previous charges of misconduct. We get a glimpse of accusations from McIntyre that frankly border on delusional, as well as insight into the very real concerns of Mann and other scientists that the “legitimacy of the peer review process had been subverted” at the journal Climate Research.

    Indeed, this report points up once agian that greater scrutiny is needed – of the climate science critics and the complaisant media outlets that trumpet their egregiously false allegations.

  29. 29
    Isotopious says:

    Ray @25

    I guess you learn something everyday…

  30. 30
    Lou Grinzo says:

    Like everyone here, I had no doubt Dr. Mann would be found innocent. Still, I’m happy to hear about this last official finding in the proceedings.

    But don’t think for an instant that this will slow down the deniers. Their only goal is not to “win” this ridiculous non-debate, but to prolong it, and therefore delay action on climate change, as long as possible. Some of them are in business tied to continued use of fossil fuels (ff businesses directly plus associated industries like the railroad, which earn a huge chunk of their revenue from hauling coal all over the US), and some are ideologically opposed to the kind of solutions needed to deal with this gigantic mess we’ve created.

    I fully expect this situation to get even uglier and more bizarre.

  31. 31
    Edward Greisch says:

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

  32. 32
    Snapple says:

    You all note that some Western fossil fuel companies sponsor the denialists, but Russia is basically a really big gas company.

    President Medvedev is the former Chairman of the Board of Gazprom, and Putin’s former adviser Andrei Illarionov now advises the Libertarian CATO Institute.

    They are all pretty much on the same page.

  33. 33
    RalphieGM says:

    Don’t pop the champagne corks just yet … what if the globe is cooler next year – the thermometer is the real jury on the hockey stick.

  34. 34
    Dr Mat says:

    RalphieGM @ 33
    Damn, those pigs outside my 3rd floor window are really annoying !

  35. 35
    Veidicar Decarian says:

    “Do not underestimate that weapon. It has never lost in the long term.” – 26

    How long did the Dark Era last?

    America has entered into one of those periods. Hence it’s decline.

    You can’t reason with the unreasonable, the unthinking, the faithful, or those who reconstruct their world view to justify their political ideology.

    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.

    It is most probable that the next president will be a 2 term Republican. If so expect another decade long delay in response to the unfolding global crisis.

  36. 36
    Veidicar Decarian says:

    “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.

    This is a PR war of well funded PR firms, and hundreds of millions of ideologically driven “Ditto Heads” against a few thousand scientists who seemingly have no interest to fight back against the ongoing campaigns of slander and disinformation.

    Ultimately Science will win. But that won’t be for several decades at least.

  37. 37
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Thanks Ralphie. We needed the laugh.

  38. 38
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Isotopious says, “I guess you learn something everyday…”

    Well, some of us try to. For others, the learning curve seems to have a decidedly more shallow slope.

  39. 39
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Did anyone else notice that RC was mentioned in the report? Congrats folks. And Mike getting brownie points for doing science outreach — well deserved but all too rare.

  40. 40
    TrueSceptic says:

    Just one thing: who is “Dr.” McIntyre? Shouldn’t we be a bit concerned that a report like this makes such sloppy mistakes?

  41. 41

    If the globe does cool I will definitely be popping a few corks – I would rather be wrong than have global warming continue

  42. 42

    Isotopious 20: I still think Mike is a little guilty when he (and the other authors) allowed the IPCC reports to put an unnecessary amount of emphasis on his temperature reconstructions.

    BPL: And I think you’re extremely guilty for letting your friends in the denialosphere bring false charges against so many innocent people.

    Oh, you didn’t have any control over them? Neither did Mike Mann over what the IPCC printed.

    And if you don’t think the Hockey Stick chart of what’s happening to Earth’s surface temperatures doesn’t deserve attention, you need to get out more. Or at least crack a climatology textbook.

  43. 43

    Ralphie, crack a statistics book, okay? You need 30 years of data to show a climate trend.

  44. 44

    Dr. Mann, congratulations on being cleared (again!).

    [Response: Thanks Barton :) – mike]

  45. 45
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re: #33

    Lets hope that other contrarians follow your example and return to making daft anti-statistical remarks. Compared to character assasination, thats real progress. Keep it up.

    The next step would be to read about the definition of climate ; it usually comes quite near the beginning. How about buying a copy of Grant Foster’s new book?

  46. 46
    ScaredAmoeba says:

    It’s excellent news that Prof. Mann has been exonerated. Now it is time for those snake-oil salesmen who made false and libellous statements to retract them.

    Science needs a fighting fund to persue those that make bogus libellous accusations and the media outlets through the courts and obtain compensation.

    These falshoods damage scientific credibility, and we need a population that trusts science.

  47. 47
    Carl C says:

    well Myron Ebell, the non-scientist right-wing lobbyist who Faux News et al always turn to as an “authority” on global warming, is surprisingly not happy and calling it a “whitewash”!

  48. 48
    CM says:

    Congratulations! But what a sad waste of time, tax money, and brainpower. I’m curious what steps Penn State has taken with regard to the real issue here, namely to protect one of its faculty from politically orchestrated smear campaigns and cyber-stalking, apart from clearing the victim of misconduct.

  49. 49
    CM says:

    BPL #42,
    Well, Mann was lead author on TAR ch. 2, so hopefully he had some influence over what was written about paleo-reconstructions. Just to mention it, not to agree with anything else implied by Isotopious #20.

  50. 50
    CM says:

    argh … I meant Mann was a lead author, one of eight actually, sorry.