PSU Investigators Don't Inspire Confidence - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
PSU Investigators Don’t Inspire Confidence

As I mentioned earlier, today the three-person panel appointed by Penn State University to investigate Climategate scientist Michael Mann released their findings. They announced that one allegation warranted four more months to examine, but dismissed charges surrounding the following three questions:

  • Did you engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions with the intent to suppress or falsify data?
  • Did you engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions with the intent to delete, conceal or otherwise destroy emails, information and/or data, related to AR4, as suggested by Phil Jones?
  • Did you engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any misuse of privileged or confidential information available to you in your capacity as an academic scholar?

Random observations about the report:

1. The investigators repeatedly characterize the emails that were revealed from the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit as stolen or “purloined.” This perpetuates the alarmist/Leftist scenario that the research unit was victimized by a hacker, instead of the emails being released by an insider/whistleblower. The truth is still unknown but the fact that PSU still wants this imagery at the fore does not inspire confidence that their inquiry is objective.

2. The investigators all have official capacities with PSU scientific research, and therefore are part of the “team” that benefits from the millions of dollars in research grants, and prestige, the university receives. If Mann looks bad, they look bad.

3. The investigators limited their investigation almost exclusively to the Climategate emails and their impact on the Fourth Assessment Report of the UN IPCC (released in 2007). It’s not apparent they looked beyond those messages between CRU and Mann, and “other publically available materials,” with this exception:

...Dr. Foley conveyed via email an additional request of Dr. Mann, who was asked to produce all emails related to the fourth IPCC report (“AR4”), the same emails that Dr. Phil Jones (director of CRU) had suggested that he delete.

So apparently the investigators were not concerned whether Mann engaged in academic misconduct outside of what Climategate and UN IPCC AR4 revealed.

4. Here’s a nice complimentary comment from the investigators:

On January 22, 2010, the inquiry committee and Dr. Brune met again to review the evidence, including but not limited to Dr. Mann’s answers to the committee’s questions, both in the interview and in his subsequent submissions. All were impressed by Dr. Mann’s composure and his forthright responses to all of the queries that were asked of him.

So, if he was a sweating, jittery bag of nerves, would the committee have noted that in their report? What did they expect, anyway? Al Gore, James Hansen and Michael Mann have been deceiving with a straight face for over 20 years. They’re pros at it! Again, this does not inspire confidence in the attitude of the investigators.

5. The investigators adopt the explanation of the Climategate apologists about the now-famous “trick” to “hide the decline:”

In fact to the contrary, in instances that have been focused upon by some as indicating falsification of data, for example in the use of a “trick” to manipulate the data, this is explained as a discussion among Dr. Jones and others including Dr. Mann about how best to put together a graph for a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report. They were not falsifying data; they were trying to construct an understandable graph for those who were not experts in the field. The so-called “trick”1 was nothing more than a statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion by a technique that has been reviewed by a broad array of peers in the field.

This has been dissected by many, and like the hockey stick and UN IPCC itself, the alarmists’ explanation has been debunked. Marc Sheppard at American Thinker did the best job I’ve seen.

6. The question that the investigators plan to continue to pursue with regard to Mann’s conduct is one of ethics:

The allegation inquires about whether Dr. Mann seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities. In 2006, similar questions were asked about Dr. Mann and these questions motivated the National Academy of Sciences to undertake an in depth investigation of his research. The committee that wrote the report on surface temperature reconstructions found that Dr. Mann’s science did fall well within the bounds of accepted practice. What has changed since that time is that private emails have come to our attention and that of the public at large, and these give us a glimpse into the behind the scenes workings of Dr. Mann and many of his colleagues in the conduct of their science.

That the PSU investigators are calling Mann’s emails “private” implies that they agree he had a right to conceal whatever “scholarly activities” he was engaged in at his public university, supported by taxpayers and students. But oh, dang the luck, those “private emails have come to our attention….” Guess we gotta look into it.

Maybe they’ll ask Dr. Mikey to give them a few more emails so their investigation looks more like a sponge bath than a whitewash, hoping it will pass the smell test. There are others in Pennsylvania who have said they won’t let that happen. See you in four months, I guess.

Update 7:55 p.m.: The Commonwealth Foundation calls the PSU investigation “a whitewash.”

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