The Spectacle Blog

A ‘Joke’ Impossible to Parody

The Wite-Out was barely dry on the Climategate investigations of the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit and Penn State hockey stick creator Michael Mann last week when environoiacs (including Mann himself) trumpeted "exoneration" and demanded apologies to those who were scrutinized.

By on 7.14.10 | 4:05PM

The Wite-Out was barely dry on the Climategate investigations of the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit and Penn State hockey stick creator Michael Mann last week when environoiacs (including Mann himself) trumpeted "exoneration" and demanded apologies to those who were scrutinized. But not everyone who is sympathetic to the alarmist cause believes the investigations were legitimate, including The Atlantic's Clive Crook (Hat tip to Morano):

I had hoped, not very confidently, that the various Climategate inquiries would be severe. This would have been a first step towards restoring confidence in the scientific consensus. But no, the reports make things worse. At best they are mealy-mouthed apologies; at worst they are patently incompetent and even willfully wrong. The climate-science establishment, of which these inquiries have chosen to make themselves a part, seems entirely incapable of understanding, let alone repairing, the harm it has done to its own cause.

The Penn State inquiry exonerating Michael Mann -- the paleoclimatologist who came up with "the hockey stick" -- would be difficult to parody. Three of four allegations are dismissed out of hand at the outset: the inquiry announces that, for "lack of credible evidence", it will not even investigate them. (At this, MIT's Richard Lindzen tells the committee, "It's thoroughly amazing. I mean these issues are explicitly stated in the emails. I'm wondering what's going on?" The report continues: "The Investigatory Committee did not respond to Dr Lindzen's statement. Instead, [his] attention was directed to the fourth allegation.") Moving on, the report then says, in effect, that Mann is a distinguished scholar, a successful raiser of research funding, a man admired by his peers -- so any allegation of academic impropriety must be false....

In short, the case for the prosecution is never heard. Mann is asked if the allegations (well, one of them) are true, and says no. His record is swooned over. Verdict: case dismissed, with apologies that Mann has been put to such trouble.

Warren Meyer, who is not inclined to take Mann to the woodshed, called the investigations ridiculous as well:

In a large sense, Penn State’s only test of Mann’s ability is that he is currently a member in good standing of the small in-crowd that dominates climate science. His science is good because it comes to the right conclusions.

Unlike many skeptics, I have no desire to “get” Professor Mann. I don’t need him fired or even investigated by Penn State. The way to refute him is to refute him, not haul him in front of tribunals.

That being said, Penn State did start and investigation and as such has some responsibility to do the thing right. And boy was this a joke. The most charitable thing I can say is that his work is fraught with more questionable decisions and practices and approaches than anything I have ever seen that was taken this seriously.

The formerly mainstream media has seized the opportunity of these two sham reports to also exonerate their own laziness and apathy in reporting about Climategate. As Pat Michaels wrote for the Wall Street Journal yesterday, the investigations were not independent, but protective of their own institutions. The universities and the environmentalists can pretend, but not a soul was exonerated, cleared, or acquitted. The scandal lives, and now has grown.

Send to Kindle

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article