Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Scientist Gone Wild

I have greatly enjoyed the recent give and take between Havertown gadfly Adrian Ashfield and Penn State Climate Big Wig Michael Mann. That Prof. Mann deigned to reply to Ashfield's criticisms in our pages was charming. That he figured the best defense was a good offense, was, I believe, a miscalculation.

Mann is at the center of the greatest scientific scandal of this generation: Climategate. And yet he has the nerve to claim Ashfield has made "false and defamatory" statements about him and his "work." Such words are usually used by lawyers in prelude to filing a libel suit. But they are just as easily thrown around by non-lawyers to intimidate their critics into shutting up.

Good luck with that, Mr. Mann.

The Commonwealth Foundation is calling for an independent investigation into Mann's behavior. As a tax-payer funded tenured professor and receiver of millions of dollars in federal research grants, Mann should be held accountable for his words, deeds and "science." His most famous "contribution" to global warming theory is the famous but now thoroughly discredited "Hockey Stick" graph.

As the Foundation points out:
The dramatic hockey stick received a great deal of attention and was featured in
the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report in 2001 as evidence of the significance of human influence on the climate. The graph came to symbolize the proof that global warming was manmade. But the hockey stick and its developer, Michael Mann,
soon began to draw some much-deserved scrutiny and criticism and, finally, a total discrediting.

When Canadian researcher Stephen McIntyre requested from Mann the raw data used to construct the hockey stick, Mann at first provided some information but then refused further cooperation, claiming that he didn’t have time to respond to
“every frivolous note” from non-scientists, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Mann also tried to block a congressional request for his data, but finally acceded to after generating a wave of manufactured, partisan criticism directed at the congressional committee.

Investigations by the National Academy of Sciences and Congress left the hockey stick in tatters, particularly with respect to its representations of mean global temperatures for the period 1000-1600. When the IPCC released its Fourth
Assessment Report in 2007, the hockey stick graph was nowhere to be found.

In summary, Mann created the prominent hockey stick with dubious data and analysis, and then tried to block other scientists from reviewing his work. Mann also fueled a public relations campaign against those who had requested his data,
including McIntyre and Congress.
Why such a "scientist" is still receiving federal money is testament to political nature of his work.

None of this is to say that the global warming issue shouldn't be taken seriously. But when scientists behave badly, when they hide their data, when they massage it to get desired results, they are not being good scientists. These men need to be held accountable.

Observers are calling Penn State's laughably weak probe into Mann's behavior, a "white wash," and understandably so. The school has a serious conflict of interest, given that Mann still brings in millions of research dollars from a very generous federal government. As the Commonwealth Foundation says Mann should be investigated by an independent body created by the appropriate legislative committees.

The Commonwealth Foundation points out
... it was during Mann’s tenure at PSU (since
2005) that he stonewalled efforts to obtain and review the hockey stick data and
analysis, and has viciously attacked those making such inquiries.
The foundation gives plenty of examples of this. His response to Ashfield's letter in our paper is simply more evidence.

Ashfield has Mann's number - obviously so, given his blustery and obfuscating response. Its time the rest of the state (and the country) got it too.

MEANWHILE: Al Gore continues his Chicken Little routine.


Blogger jake said...

This Mann is an embarrassment to PSU and the taxpayers of PA. The legislature should make future funding conditional upon sending this guy away.

Except for the millions of research dollars wasted in this global warming scam, you almost have to feel sorry for Mann and Al Gore as their public correspondence is pitifully non-responsive and whiny.

March 17, 2010 at 7:37 AM 

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