the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

CUCCINELLI THREAD PART TWO

Posted by Jeff Id on May 4, 2010

Guest post Ryan O

—-

The first thread was fun.  Assuming Jeff is willing to entertain me, I think a second part is in order.

My position is best explained with a little story.

The problem with climate science is not the individual scientists or even the work being performed.  The problem with climate science is the politicization of the field.  Your work takes on a whole new dimension if it can help form the basis for a massive redesign of the global economy.  It is not just some neat math and interesting geophysics; it is now the foundation for remaking the world.

With that prospect comes the wholly human tendency to feel that it is not just the science that matters, it is also the message.  Indeed, since the world is headed for certain catastrophe unless something changes, you now have to try to balance the purity of the science against the moral imperative to prevent a disaster.  Stephen Schneider once expressed this difficulty in a not-so-eloquent fashion.  Human nature being what it is, it is simply not possible for this to have zero effect on the decisions you make (with “you” being a collective).

This moral imperative is not just a product of your thoughts, it is one that has started resonating with the media, the government, and industry.  No longer are you struggling to merely be heard, you are finally being understood.  The call to action is being repeated everywhere.  You are part of something important, something critical.  In a small way, you can be a hero.

As time marches on, the signs that you are right become bigger and brighter.  Your books are best sellers.  Your opinion is sought by political leaders; not just of your own country, but of others as well.  An international body is formed to communicate the science and the danger of allowing the status quo to continue unabated.  You step outside your realm of expertise and find that you have much broader influence . . . your skills in climate science can be adapted to risk management and economics.  You find yourself conversant not in the mere science, but also the policy that the science implies.

What were once small compromises to scientific purity become larger ones – without you realizing it is happening.  It is not dishonest – you know the answer.  CO2 is increasing.  The world is warming.  The basic physics is right.  Unfortunately, in some cases, the data – which is known to be imperfect – does not quite say what you know to be truth.  Sometimes the methods – which are known to be heuristic – do not quite yield accurate results.  You must sort the good data from the bad; the proper methods from the faulty.  Since you know the truth, the criterion for sorting is self evident.  Most importantly, when this is done, the answer matches what you already know to be true.

Around you, others enable your success.  A green industry sees an opportunity, lobbies on your behalf, and supports you with donations.  The university sees a source of funding, an opportunity for prestige, and the possibility of making an important impact on the future of humanity.  The politician sees a vehicle for promoting himself, his agenda, and his chance to leave his mark on society.

There are a few people, however, who cannot accept this truth.  With every movement – no matter how well established – there is a counter-movement.  Since the evidence that you are correct is overwhelming, the counter-movement must necessarily be fueled by ignorance and self-interest.  Because your work is necessarily complex and beyond the ability of the layman to fully grasp, these people adopt the tactic of nitpicking irrelevant details to sow seeds of doubt.  And because saving humanity from itself is an unarguably noble cause, this nefarious counter-movement must be fought.

So you band together against them.  You label them as contrarians and deniers and turn skeptic into an evil word.  You imply that their motives are immoral and selfish.  Most importantly, you give no quarter.  With any science as complex as yours, there will necessarily be small errors.  When they find the errors, you quite justifiably minimize them.  After all, if you fix this and change that, your result is still the same.  And even if there are changes to the results, why, if you just look at it slightly differently, the results still support what you were saying all along! It is then quite obvious that the errors do not deserve to be published or acknowledged – it only gives credence to this band of ignorant fools.

Besides . . . who the f#$% do they think they are anyway?  Who tells van Gogh that he used ugly colors?  Or Monet that his work is too blurry?  Or Picasso that his paintings are anatomical impossibilities?  What you are doing is complex and critically important and must not be undone by a group of posers who criticize without understanding.

***

There is no giant, left-wing Marxist conspiracy bent on destroying modern life and sending humanity back to the stone ages.  There is simply a group of mostly well-meaning scientists who found their work to resonate with a sizeable number of people – some of whom are well-meaning, some of whom are not.  By and large, the scientists themselves are trying to balance objectivity with a moral imperative, and they are doing so to the best of their ability.  This is not always a simple task, and some are far more successful than others.  This is to be expected; they are not robots.  They are human.

Given that fraud and corruption connote an intent to deceive, those terms do not apply.  As much as you may choose not to accept this, these scientists are communicating what they believe to be the overall truth.  While reality may differ from their truth, if the intent to deceive is not there, then their actions are not fraudulent or corrupt.  Misguided, perhaps.  Overzealous, almost certainly.  Corrupt?  No.

Of course, you may not believe this, but I do . . . and you will not change my mind.

The problem with the science is not one of wicked deceit.  The problem is that the moral imperative has trumped healthy skepticism.  It is a problem of confirmation bias and loss of objectivity.

Compounding the problem is that – whether you like to admit it or not – the present “consensus” may very well turn out to be correct.  The basic physics of greenhouse gas behavior is readily provable.  You do not see many arguments against this (except for the occasional misguided Gerlich and Tscheuschner paper) because those arguments are easily shown to be without merit.  Remember that most of the arguments against the popular targets – like the surface temperature record and paleoclimate reconstructions – are arguments of uncertainty, not arguments of falsification.  This uncertainty cuts both ways.  It means they may be wrong – but it does not exclude the possibility that they are right.

That last sentence is important.  Regardless of how much you feel certain individuals have cherry-picked data and methods, there is only a finite amount of information that can be gleaned from the available data.  Because of this, the associated uncertainties are large.  Are some of the methods suspect?  Yep.  Is some data subjectively set aside?  Yep.  However, even if all of this is corrected, with few exceptions, the “consensus” is still quite possible.

Contrary to what you may believe, this uncertainty and inability to falsify a hypothesis is the rule in science, not the exception.  This is why science progresses in fits and spurts, why there are so many competing theories, why different studies provide wholly different results for no obvious reason.  It is why research so often barrels headlong into dead ends; why it takes so much time, effort, and money to conclude anything with any reasonable degree of certainty.  Especially when the data is poor, the researcher is forced to make seemingly arbitrary decisions about how to handle and process the data, and it is why even the brightest scientists can succumb to confirmation bias without even realizing they are doing so.

This difficulty is not unique to climate science.  Agricultural research comes to mind, as does chemistry, as does theoretical and particle physics.  The applied sciences are fraught with similar incidents, particularly in the area of clinical research.  Many of the applied sciences are heavily regulated, yet the errors continue because the uncertainties are large.

And when the researcher “knows” that he is right, methods and data that yield contrary results are quite obviously wrong.

This is not fraud.  This is not corruption, except in the most liberal interpretation of the word.  This is a necessary consequence of limited data and human behavior.

You may disagree with me, but I believe that Dr. Mann feels that his answers are correct.  He may know that the methods have deficiencies.  He may know that the data is problematic.  He may know that the uncertainties are larger than claimed.  However, he still believes that his answer is right.  While I cannot prove this opinion, neither can anyone else prove that he is knowingly and deliberately passing off false results as truth.  What you see as underhanded tactics, he may see as a necessary means of ensuring the moral imperative is not diluted by irrelevant minutia.

Cuccinelli’s actions are misguided because Dr. Mann performed the work that the grants required.  This is self-evident:  Dr. Mann is quite a prolific researcher and the results of the grants are well-documented at the end of every paper he writes.  That is the limit of the literal reading of the Virginia fraud statute used by Cuccinelli.

The only basis Cuccinelli has to go on is whether Dr. Mann is deliberately producing results that he knows to be false.  This is a dubious proposition, and involves a rather questionable interpretation of the fraud statute.  Even if the statute were interpreted in that manner, he would still have to prove intentional falsification of results.  Dr. Mann did not magically generate data and conclusions from thin air.  We might question the efficacy of his methods; we might question the uncertainties he assigns; we might question the data selected; we might question the adjustable parameters used.  We might show that, in some circumstances, the method results in an answer that deviates from reality – and then Dr. Mann will promptly show that, in other circumstances, the method reproduces reality exactly.

The question is one of uncertainty and objectivity, not fraud.

Regardless of the legal outcome, using the court system in this manner is dangerous.  Courts are ill-equipped to understand uncertainty.  They prefer to see the world in terms of guilt and innocence, black and white.  This issue is neither.  The best evidence available is still statistically consistent with Dr. Mann’s results (albeit most likely with reduced certainty).  Courts are not needed to establish this; mathematics already can.  By allowing the courts to pass judgment, it establishes the precedent that the legal system can be used to trump fact and that government has the right to penalize beliefs.  Ask the Soviets how well vernalization worked.

While the expedient solution to the hard-core anti-Mann community may seem to be public humiliation and effective censorship, this cure is likely to be worse than the disease.  Once this tactic is given legal sanctioCUCCINELLI THREAD PART TWOn, you can count on it being abused.  Climate science – like particle physics – must be fixed through academic pressures, either from within the community itself or due to influences from other sciences.  There are only two possible outcomes:  it will continue as it has, and relegate itself to irrelevance; or it will mature and re-establish the trust it once had.  It may take an agonizingly long time, but it will eventually take one of those two possible routes.

Turning Dr. Mann into a scapegoat helps nothing.  All it will accomplish is further polarization of the “true believers” and the “denialists”.  Increasing politicization to counter past politicization is an endeavor fated for failure.  Lawsuits will not fix science.  Performing good science will fix science.  What is needed is for both “sides” to understand the point of view of the other, to recognize that each has legitimate concerns, and to examine themselves for bad arguments, hyperbole, and unsubstantiated claims.  Some people – like von Storch and Curry – have already made significant efforts in that direction.  Others have taken smaller steps, but still noticeable (even RC has started to change).

Singling out Dr. Mann does not help this process.

***

And now I will watch the fireworks in the replies . . . haha!


89 Responses to “CUCCINELLI THREAD PART TWO”

  1. Andrew_KY said

    “The problem with climate science is not the individual scientists or even the work being performed.”

    This is nonsense. The problem IS with individual climate scientists behaving poorly and producing bad work.

    There’s no point in reading the rest of it if this is the introduction.

    Andrew

  2. Josh said

    Read Hannah Arendt and consider the banality of evil.

  3. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    Ryan O,

    Yours is a thoughtful and reasoned position, and I have no doubt that climate scientists have been sometimes beguiled into sometimes sloppy/questionable work by the factors that you point out.

    However I want to point out two things:

    1. All people who work in science face the temptation to make the data fit the theory; and a lot of very bad work and wasted effort results from this temptation. Climate scientists are no more subject to expectation and confirmation biases than anybody else.

    2. Many (most?) people who choose to enter climate science are people already on a mission to save the world from humanity, even before they begin their studies. I do not think saving the world is a mission that they adopt because of their research; they mostly adopt a career congruent with their mission. It is this factor that makes climate science so entangled with politics, and so very different from others fields of research.

    The results of political entanglement in science ate never going to be pretty. The AG’s investigation is just one small ugly part of a hideous whole; we will do well to not forget the whole and just decry one small part.

  4. A C Osborn said

    Ryan O, if you believe everything that you have written, I feel very sorry for you.
    Especially as the Concensus is among the “Climate Scientists” but not among a lot of other Scientists. You only have to look at the amount of contrary papers appearing in publication since Climategate to realise how many scientists disagree and are finally getting their work published.
    But of course in your eyes they must all be rubbish.

  5. timetochooseagain said

    Interestingly, those who say that Mann is not corrupt/fraudulent but perhaps misguided and overzealous seem to be rather quick to decide that Cuccinelli isn’t just misguided or overzealous, but corrupt.

  6. CoRev said

    RyanO, sorry, but you are presuming to know the case. There is no case and there is only a request for preliminary information to make a determination. Until and if such a case is filed, AND it does go deeply into the science, then I will continue to read your commentary on it. Until then you are more wrong than Cuccinelli. At least he is trying to make a determination from available information and not from innuendo and whole cloth.

    Slow down and wait to see if anything even develops!

  7. Jeff Id said

    I think Ryan enjoys some of the conflict.

    In my opinion Mann may very well be intentionally misleading in his results, I don’t see how anyone can keep making mistakes that create the same result but then again, I don’t see how people rationalize a lot of things. In my opinion individual scientists are definitely to blame for the situation, however politicians intentionally create the situation which supports ever more extreme exaggeration.

    It’s also possible that Mann is to damned stupid and statistically ignorant that he can’t see his work is bad. Also seems unlikely.

    But you will have one heck of a time proving anything and in the meantime the punishment to Mann for whatever, will already have been doled out. Court costs, media circus, and the random result of conclusions either way.

  8. AMac said

    Very well stated, Ryan O. I wish I could express myself as well as that.

    For context, this lead-in to a Climate Audit posting may be interesting. The link goes to a comment that I directed towards a dendrologist who joined in a thread on dendrochonology methods (surprise). (Ryan O was a participant in that discussion.)

    I was impressed by the spiritedness of “CB’s” defense of the profession, and by the sincerity of his/her arguments. However, taken as a whole, the power of CB’s explanations didn’t seem up to the grand claims that are implicit in the relatively tight uncertainty bands that adorn most multicentury paleotemperature reconstructions.

    Is CB another outlier, like Prof. Mann? If Prof. Mann’s work product at UVa and Penn State is so woefully defective as to be legally tortuous, what assurance is there that CB’s is any better? Further, I suspect CB gave about as good a defense of dendrology as I’ll find anywhere else. So, why stop there? Let’s urge AG Cuccinelli to start a fishing expedition wherever dendrologists lurk.

    Of course, there is still the matter of how a disinterested judge or jury will weigh my opinions against the sworn testimony of a parade of credentialed, productive, beloved-by-children-and-dogs climate scientists…

  9. Bob Koss said

    Bowdlerizing Twain. So much conjecture from such a paucity of fact.
    Is it known for certain that the AG is the cause of the investigation? No citizen complaint has been made public, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been one. If one was made, the AG would be derelict if he didn’t investigate to determine if further action is necessary. This isn’t a judicial proceeding. Requiring the UVA to produce and protect existing documentation would seem a prudent way to proceed.

    I don’t know if this is the case, but I don’t think anyone else here knows either. These threads are filled with nothing but speculation as to motive with no evidence presented to back it up. The AG may have instigated it, but who here can show that to be a fact?

  10. Robert E. Phelan said

    There is no giant, left-wing Marxist conspiracy bent on destroying modern life and sending humanity back to the stone ages.

    Ryan, that is just a strawman. I don’t believe in vast conspiracies either. I do believe there is a vast progressive social movement led by moral entrepreneurs who are diligently working to get the rest of us to accept their view of reality – a view that is fundamentally anti-democratic and anti-human. People like Dr. Mann and his team are willing participants in this social movement. It doesn’t matter if they are sincere; they are corrupt, dishonest and evil… all in service to a higher good.

  11. timetochooseagain said

    With respect, the statement:

    There is no giant, left-wing Marxist conspiracy bent on destroying modern life and sending humanity back to the stone ages.

    Is ridiculous. Marxism is by definition a conspiracy. They are bent on destroying that which makes modern life possible-Capitalism-and sending humanity down to the dark ages in the name of “social justice”.

    I DO agree that the issue of AGW itself is not a part of a vast left-wing conspiracy by scientists. I DO NOT agree that there aren’t real Marxists out there. And I would certainly not agree that they are completely detached from this issue.

  12. BillyBob said

    “There is no giant, left-wing Marxist conspiracy bent on destroying modern life and sending humanity back to the stone ages.”

    Tell that to the Cambodians.

  13. BillyBob said

    I meant … tell that the Cambodians who are still alive.

  14. Warren said

    Ryan, I’d like to agree with you, you make a valid argument.

    Then when I read through all the verbiage that has been put forth over the years I am left with the impression of some Nigerian 419 scam that has been perpetuated by a small group of people for whom the message has eclipsed the science.

    419 scams work on the following

    1/ A sense of urgency, something needs to be done now, don’t think about it, trust me/us

    2/ We have all the documentation required, all you need to do is follow our instructions

    3/ Don’t believe others if they try to dissuade you from following our instructions, we are the only ones you can trust.

    That all seems familar somehow.

    Thank you for your post, it has made me look at the motives a bit deeper.

    Warren

  15. Howard said

    Ryan:

    I appreciate your attempts to provide a mature view of this situation. While I agree with your conclusions, it is naive to think that so many smart folks are not purposefully shading the truth (with sufficient plausible deniability) to obtain more grants in support of a very powerful sociological and political movement. Also, it is naive not to see the great open CAGW conspiracy to redistribute wealth into carbon trader and carbon de-manufacturers pockets. Did you see the Montecito Villa that Gore bought with his global warming money?

    Your conclusions, however, are spot on. We will get much more real satisfaction if Dr. Mann is punished by his loss of stature and grant money via the same free public market of ideas and research that he flew too close to the Sun on. Opening up scientific research to the legal microscope will likely damage all scientific research in an impotent attempt to crucify one small person. No one ever wins a legal battle except the lawyers on both sides and on the bench.

    The views supporting AG legal action are petty, repugnant and cowardly.

  16. curious said

    Ryan – you paint a plausible picture of the nature of human failings but the abuse of the peer review process and the circumvention of FOI count as corruption in my book. I also agree with Jeff that it seems unlikely that by now Mann does not know the issues with his work. The most favourable intepretation is that he doesn’t understand them in which case he is incompetent.

    Put yourself in the shoes of the many earnest people who have made life decisions based on the hockey stick alarmism before you take sides on this – for example how many Climate Science degree students may have chosen another, ultimately more socially productive, path if it weren’t for the need to save the world? And consider if there could be any evidence (as yet unseen) which could change your view of it all being one happy, but massive, misunderstanding.

  17. BarryW said

    I’m surprised that so many are in a rush to judgement on this. We all ready know that in at least one instance in the climategate affair there was a request to circumvent taxes. While there is no smoking gun that says this occurred we can’t say it hasn’t. We’ve already seen whitewash committees tout innocence of those participants. Until a thorough investigation is accomplished we won’t know the truth. Consider the Baltimore affair and the Korean cloning fakery. Get it out in the open and let’s really see what’s going on.

  18. I’d have a beer with Ryan any day of the week.
    We might even discuss the two sides of this coin:

    The problem is that the moral imperative has trumped healthy skepticism. It is a problem of confirmation bias and loss of objectivity.

  19. Frank said

    “There is no giant, left-wing Marxist conspiracy bent on destroying modern life and sending humanity back to the stone ages. There is simply a group of mostly well-meaning scientists who found their work to resonate with a sizeable number of people.”

    – No conspiracy per se, but certainly there exists a sizable number of people whose beliefs, regardless of intent, are antithetical to the well-being of humanity. Whether the work of some scientists simply “resonates” with such people or some scientists actually share these beliefs should have no bearing on the conduct or outcome of science. Unfortunately, with respect to climate science, this does not appear to be true.

    “This is not fraud. This is not corruption, except in the most liberal interpretation of the word. This is a necessary consequence of limited data and human behavior…You may disagree with me, but I believe that Dr. Mann feels that his answers are correct. He may know that the methods have deficiencies. He may know that the data is problematic. He may know that the uncertainties are larger than claimed. However, he still believes that his answer is right.”

    – I respectfully disagree. If M&M’s accounts of Mann’s repeated shell games with various tree-ring series, inverted proxies and the so-called “censored” file are true, then there is simply no logical conclusion other than that fraud was committed.

    “While the expedient solution to the hard-core anti-Mann community may seem to be public humiliation and effective censorship, this cure is likely to be worse than the disease…Once this tactic is given legal santion, you can count on it being abused. Climate science – like particle physics – must be fixed through academic pressures, either from within the community itself or due to influences from other sciences.”

    – The policy impacts and economic effects of poor climate science have already been given political, and therefore, legal sanction. Given the unwillingness or inability of the “community” (or the “other sciences”) to prevent politicization of the science, it is sadly necessary to rely on the political process itself to safeguard the public against potential abuses. While Cuccinelli may eventually prove to be an SOB for taking this role upon himself, he is, at least, ultimately accountable to the people of Virginia.

    Regards – F.

  20. Tom Fuller said

    Ryan, I am almost crying tears of frustration because you have so eloquently stated what is also my opinion while I couldn’t do so in one column after a year of trying on a daily basis. Darn you. Congratulations.

  21. vjones said

    RyanO, a very thoughtful position, with which I would mostly agree – for most climate scientists this is probably the case.

    It is a problem of confirmation bias and loss of objectivity.
    If science must by definition be objective, then is climate science a science? I would throw this accusation at many in the field that if they have not upheld this basic requirement they have been seduced by “the dark side” (politics).

    Scientific method (extract) “Among other facets shared by the various fields of inquiry is the conviction that the process be objective to reduce biased interpretations of the results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share and all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, thereby allowing other researchers the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.”

  22. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Sorry Ryan O, I think what you defend as freedom from government actions is self evident and Mann’s case needs no specialing pleading. Are there dishonset politicians? That is very self evident. Are there dishonest plumbers? Yes. Are there dishonest scientists? Yes. Are there dishonest journalist? Yes. Can an area of science be corrupted, at least, temporarily? I think so. Should we send people to jail or bring law suits against them for being dishonest short of proveable fraud – or I guess as the feds are want to do lately lying under oath. I think not.

    What I do not like about the special pleading in this case is that it detracts from the bigger issues of the limits of government actions. We should be discussing what conditions do we impose when a scientist takes federal money. Note that the Obama administration imposed some restrictions on executives and lower level managers of the corporations that it has bailed out. I think we need to discuss the major weaknesses and lessening of freedoms that are imposed when government intervenes, whether the bailout be for a corporation of a scientist or his/her university.

    While I am minimalist when it comes to government intervention, once the taxpayer is in the picture providing funds, I do not see why she must sit back and with no strings attached to the funding. We should be talking about how our governments and government funded universities and academics have freedom of information processes that they use as a cover and then apply (or do not apply) by arbitrarily interpreted the rules themselves in order to avoid public disclosure. What I do not like to see is a scientist or group of scientists obtaining money from the taxpayer and then insisting that no strings be attached because it might affect their creativity. Those scientists should not be using government funding.

  23. Is it fraud?

    (1) Use of “short centering” in principal components calculations with the effect of overweighting a handful of hockey-stick shaped proxy series — could be an honest mistake.

    (2) Failure to mention known adverse R2 verification statistic, refusal to disclose when pressed, concealment of residuals in verification period to prevent others from making the calculation — very difficult to think of an honest explanation.

    (3) Use of Gaspe cedars series twice in reconstructions, plus infilling of made-up data prior to earliest year of series, both of which steps are necessary to make the MWP bulge disappear — is any honest explanation possible?

    (4) Truncating Briffa proxy reconstruction at 1960 in MBH 98 Nature presentation and burying it in a hard-to-decipher spaghetti graph to “hide the decline” — at least dishonest.

    (5) Jones to Mann, 5/29/08: “Mike can you delete any e-mails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise?” Did he do it? A subpoena should get the result.

    Generally I find high-profile AG investigations to be thuggish grandstanding, and this may turn into that. But it is also very hard to conclude that this Mann guy is not a crook. This goes well beyond confirmation bias.

  24. ML said

    Ryan O
    Just few comments.
    Looks that your post (paper) is in the process of “peer review”, Does not look good
    I was planning to give a detailed review of your post, but I’ve decided to stick to most “funny” parts

    From your post “The first thread was fun”
    I have to agree with you, lots of fun, particularly:

    “Cuccinelli is a glory-hunter who does not mind endangering the freedom of science for his own personal fame (and furthering his political career)”.

    Just replace “Cuccinelli” with “Mann” and “political” with “scientific” and read it again. Sounds funny doesn’t it?, but I’m not laughing

    Or, from this post: ( My comments in brackets)

    You may disagree with me, but I believe that Dr. Mann feels that his answers are correct.(his feelings are irrelevant, he is scientist)He may know that the methods have deficiencies.(he knows, see McIntyre) He may know that the data is problematic.(see previous comment) He may know that the uncertainties are larger than claimed.(he knows) However, he still believes that his answer is right.( well, some still believe in Santa) While I cannot prove this opinion, neither can anyone else prove that he is knowingly and deliberately passing off false results as truth.(then hold on with judgement)What you see as underhanded tactics, he may see as a necessary means of ensuring the moral imperative is not diluted by irrelevant minutia.
    Do not get me wrong, I do not like politician either, but even more I do not like politicians pursuing their hobby of global warming on my expense.
    So lets have some more fun, shall we ?

    — do not mention this to any politician, they will use it in no time, because it is cutting debt/deficit by factor of 100—

    I going to prove that 1$=1cent
    I know that my method has “deficiencies” (like Mann), in reality 6th grader should debunk this.
    Here it is (Mann’s science)
    1$=1cent ?
    1$ =100 cents
    10cents=0.1$
    100 =10×10
    thus 100=0.1×0.1>>>>>>100=0.01>>>>>>>1$= 1cent (it was not peer reviewed (like 30% of refs in IPCC report),
    but still can screw—-up brains of few Billions people, do not you think?

    On the serious note now
    Your statement:

    “Of course, you may not believe this, but I do . . . and you will not change my mind”

    You are right, I do not believe, and I do not have a problem with changing my mind (based on facts)

    P.S.
    Just crazy idea, post it on RC and let them “peer-review” your “paper”
    I’m pretty sure you will have two thumbs down , but for completely different reason

  25. Arnost said

    Whilst I would support most of what you say Ryan, there is one inescapable fact – and that is Mann, just like about every climate scientist, must have been aware of the multiple lines of evidence supporting a warm Medieval Period. (Every climatologist going through college at the time Mann did would have been very familiar with the work of Lamb, Brooks etc).

    Given this, the fact that his seminal work went counter to this, and his subsequent work mostly was support for, then one can not be entirely forgiving. Whilst it is a body of work that may well have delivered exactly what the funding parties demanded – it is nevertheless corrupt by any definition. It sought to rewrite history for political purposes.

    And as a politcal work rather than one that is pure science for knowledge sake – it deserves to be dragged through the political mud and slime that all advocacy pieces deserve.

    And as the wind and tide changes, we can expect more of this as politcal opportunists exploit real and perceived weaknesses of the other side.

    Cheers

    Arnost

  26. TA said

    I do not feel that I have the information to say whether there is a legal case against Mann. It is difficult to prove fraud. If there is enough evidence to do so, then it should proceed. However, I do agree that if the evidence does not meet the high standard necessary, then he should be left alone to suffer loss of reputation due to shoddy work instead.

  27. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    Jeff Id:

    Yet another interesting thread…. soon you will be challenging Luica for the reasoned center.

  28. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    That is,
    Lucia not Luica.

  29. AMac said

    Re: Francis Menton #23 (May 4 18:32),

    Could AG Cuccinelli likely convince disinterested non-specialist third parties that it’s fraud, according to the appropriate standard? (“proof by a preponderance of the evidence”, or, “proof by clear and convincing evidence” / Reference)

    (1) Use of “short centering” in PC calculations…
    – I (AMac, that is) don’t know enough to hold an independently-derived opinion. I think Prof. Mann is in the wrong, mainly because I trust Jeff Id after reading his and other analyses. Fraud? Poor statistical practice seems an adequate explanation. Convince a jury of fraudulent intent? Seems very unlikely.

    (2) Failure to mention or disclose adverse R2 verification statistic…
    – It seems like quite bad practice to me. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it was accepted practice in climate science–and, that Prof. Mann could get full professors to testify to that effect, with none willing to take AG Cuccinelli’s side. Fraud? I’m not convinced. Convince a jury of fraudulent intent? Seems very unlikely.

    (3) Use of Gaspe cedars series 2x, infilling of data…
    – as for (2), above.

    (4) Truncating Briffa reconstruction, “hide the decline”…
    – We’ve read Gavin Schmidt’s defense and seen it echoed through the blogosphere by AGW Consensus scientists and boosters. Again, poor practice, in my opinion. An “artistic license” defense against fraud would likely succeed, given that the decline was not hidden, but rather, was openly discussed in the specialist literature. Convince a jury of fraudulent intent? Hard to imagine.

    (5) Jones to Mann, 5/29/08: “Mike can you delete any e-mails…”
    – Drs. Jones and Schmidt have offered their talking points memos on this, again, it’s been echoed and accepted by the AGW Consensus advocates. But in any case, those are Jones’ words, not Mann’s. Prof. Mann has stated in the Penn State inquiry that he did not delete any relevant information. And this seems far afield from any brief that AG Cuccinelli might have with fraudulent use of State of Virginia funds. Convince a jury of fraudulent intent on a relevant charge? Hard to imagine.

    – – – – – – – – – –

    I’d suggest this test for the commenters who think that Prof. Mann obviously committed fraud.

    * Find an acquaintance who might be empaneled on a jury: a disinterested member of the lay public. She won’t self-identify as an AGW Consensus adherent, or as a Skeptic or Lukewarmer. A quip about “Piltdown Mann” won’t elicit either a smile or a hiss, but instead a puzzled “Huh?”

    * Explain Points (1) through (4) to her (pick one, in the interests of time), including a credible version of the RealClimate Defense.

    * Ask, “Have I convinced you that there is clear and convincing evidence that Prof. Mann committed fraud?”

    I’d be interested to know the result.

  30. Jeff Id said

    #27, I’m on the side of physics and reality. Mann, pushes my F button to its limit and it’s impossible for me to understand how an intelligent person can simply sort noisy data for the preferred signal and not be fraudulent. Still, as Ryan wrote, he could just be so caught up in global warming he has no objectivity, in which case he’s just an idiot.

    People still see short centering as the issue, short centering is beyond the statute of limitations, this is about more recent Mann (data sorting methods) and the problem is, can we ever really know if he’s ignorant or fraudulent.

  31. RB said

    Give Cuccinelli a break – the guy’s just annoyed he couldn’t do anything about that X-rated state seal.

  32. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    Jeff Id %30

    “I’m on the side of physics and reality”

    Me too.

    But you are, I think, a bit kinder to Mann (“he’s just an idiot”) than I could ever be. I do not think he is an idiot at all, and I think he knows exactly what he wants…. my (and your) money to be used for “good purposes”… like making sure everyone is poorer and lives much worse than today; except perhaps for the “alpha class” of climate scientists and their ilk…..

  33. Mark T said

    22.Kenneth Fritsch said
    May 4, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    We should be discussing what conditions do we impose when a scientist takes federal money.

    There are already sufficient conditions (to prevent fraud) imposed on those receiving grant money or funds otherwised derived from public coffers. They simply are not checked nor enforced. The story is different, of course, when the government is buying something it needs, and needs to work properly, such as is often the case with defense contracts, but even then, it is not a given a dishonest contractor will be caught or punished if caught.

    Mark

  34. RedS10 said

    “The problem with climate science is not the individual scientists or even the work being performed.”

    ARE YOU KIDDING? ARE YOU DULL NORMAL OR A COMPLETE IDIOT?

    Any scientist who works with or abets the Warmist politicians are responsible for:
    – efforts to control our thermostats.
    – additions of mutants & carcinogens to our gasoline.
    – escalating the cost of energy far beyond reason.
    – making autos more expensive & dangerous to drive.
    – syphoning off foodstuffs, like corn, to the starvation of the worlds poor.
    – investing our taxes in useless wind farms, that will never be competitive.
    – etc,
    – etc…

    To paraphrase Erasmus: ‘Those who want to improve us, improve the world, are really trying to control us.’

  35. Jeff Id said

    #34 I assure you, Ryan is no idiot.

  36. Kenneth Fritsch said

    MarkT @ Post#33:

    The arbitrary enforcement of the law is worse than no law since it tends to leave an impression that it is being enforced. Unfortunately the enforcer often has the option to decide when to enforce and when not. We have the FOIA as a great example of that. I am all for immigration but the federal governments enforcement of those laws are a farce.

    I personally think that skeptic blogs waste much time arguing each of these cases as though they were unique. I somehow do not expect the consensus blogs to even understand what I am talking about because special cases would appear to be the rule with them – I would submit the numerous FOIA replies that we have seen and how consesus papers are defended.

    Oh and by the way, any scientist who has trouble keeping his advocacy separate from his science is someone who I strongly suspect and I am motivated to analyze his every work. It is wrong and also counter- productive to use government interference in those analyses. In fact, almost all politicians and a lot of those commenting on both sides of the AGW issue do not understand the subtleties that these analyses reveal. The more partisan ones tend to stand around yelling fraud or denier.

    And if any of you fail to see my argument at this point it is simply whether AGs have the power to arbitrarily go after legitimate and/or illegitimate perpetrators . Do they use it for political gain? And how special is the Mann case?

  37. JT said

    Ryan, you said “Courts are ill-equipped to understand uncertainty.” With respect, and speaking from 25 years experience as a Barrister, thats what Courts do. Understand uncertainty. Day in, day out, Courts listen to evidence, weigh it, inquire into it, judge it. Evidence from the best, most honourable and credible truth tellers, down to the worst, most inveterate liars. Biased witnesses, stupid witnesses, ignorant witnesses, expert witnesses, utterly disinterested witnesses. Thats what Courts deal with. They are actually well equipped to deal with uncertainty. They do it by assigning an onus. Upon him who asserts a fact lies the onus to prove the fact (for the most part). If he who asserts leaves the Court in uncertainty, the verdict goes to the other side. The whole point is to systematically produce a certain decision from uncertain evidence. So IF a decision is needed on the question whether Mann engaged in fraud, a Court is the best place to get that decision made.

  38. Ryan O said

    Well, tAV is blocked at my work, so I have to wait to get home to read. Tonight is too late to respond.

    I must say, however, that the replies did not disappoint! Haha! 😀

  39. Jeff Id said

    JT, The court is the worst place for uncertainty. Cops are assumed honest, prosecutors assumed unbiased, experts are assigned credibility according to which side they battle for and the result is often pre-determined. Everything benefits the state, yet they don’t win every time.

    If you have as much experience as you say, you know good and well my words are true.

  40. Lady in Red said

    Occasionally, I read something with appended comments which are unthinking, illiterate, vulgar and childish.
    *Too* often… try any liberal blog, like Salon, Huffington, Daily Beast, not to mention The Washington Post….

    I’m still uncertain about my thinking on this matter. Mostly, I’m inclined to support Cuccinelli, unconvinced
    this tact will ever boomerang on an honest scientist (and I do not believe Mann is stupid; I believe he is
    dishonest and, if he wasn’t at the very beginning, he became so when he was first confronted with the stupidity
    of his work — and he never said, “I’m sorry!” and retracted).

    But, mostly, I am overwhelmed and humbled by the volume of thoughtful observations, by the integrity of the
    writers, the search for right as well as truth. ……Lady in Red

  41. JAE said

    Ryan O:

    “Compounding the problem is that – whether you like to admit it or not – the present “consensus” may very well turn out to be correct. The basic physics of greenhouse gas behavior is readily provable.”

    Well, I would really, really like to see this “proof.” As in empirical.

  42. Ron Pittenger, Heretic said

    RyanO, you too may be a heretic.

    #3-Steve–Excellent points.

    Thanks, both.

  43. ML said

    @ Jeff Id (39)

    “The court is the worst place for uncertainty.”

    It looks that you know the better place.
    Could you share it, please.

  44. While it’s probably outside the statute of limitations, please explain the infamous “Censored” directory containing all the adverse results that SM stumbled across. I’d say that’s prima facie evidence of intent to commit fraud.

  45. Mark T said

    36.Kenneth Fritsch said
    May 4, 2010 at 9:10 pm
    MarkT @ Post#33:

    The arbitrary enforcement of the law is worse than no law since it tends to leave an impression that it is being enforced. Unfortunately the enforcer often has the option to decide when to enforce and when not. We have the FOIA as a great example of that. I am all for immigration but the federal governments enforcement of those laws are a farce.

    I agree, though pondering new laws/rules when existing laws/rules are either not enforced, or enforced arbitrarily, is all but moot. Immigration was exactly the analogy I was thinking, btw, and I’m not surprised you thought of it, too. Often, it seems, that laws and rules exist solely for punishing those that are otherwise out of favor, i.e., they aren’t there to prevent said crimes or infractions from occurring, they are there to hinder someone that is causing issues in other ways. Perhaps this is the case, or perhaps not, I won’t comment either way until I know more.

    And if any of you fail to see my argument at this point it is simply whether AGs have the power to arbitrarily go after legitimate and/or illegitimate perpetrators .

    The question I have is “how do we know they are either legitimate or illegitimate until we look?” If the laws and rules exist, they should be enforced, unilaterally, of course, but enforced nonetheless.

    Mark

  46. Jon K. said

    An very eloquent posting by Ryan, but totally irrelevant.

    Mann’s climate science is being challenged by a state’s legal authority, is that illegal? Is it now illegal to question climate scientists? Is it now unethical to question the claims and science of climate scientists? Is it illegal or unethical or immoral to question taxpayer funded universities and their personnel, by the elected or appointed authorities?

    Trillions of economic dollars are at stake, and many politicians (the vast majority?) rely on the science of Mann et al to make their decisions. But if a politician of an opposing view legally challenges Mann and his cohorts that is now illegal? It’s now unethical? It’s now immoral?

    Mann has made scientific claims that could affect billions and could cost trillions. But because he’s a “scientist” he can’t be legally challenged? Is this some quaint, romantic notion of Ryan’s, or is it in the U.S. Constitution that scientists get some sort of legal dispensation? Please Ryan, elaborate for those of us who are uninformed.

    Personally, it is fantastic there now is a legal authority that is challenging Mann to finally prove his science. All previous efforts to discredit his science have been inconsequential since the news media continues to religiously support his brand of climate science. Now there finally exists a true legal representative who is calling Mann’s science bluff; and, it’s a legitimate official who has the wherewithal to play the entire poker hand – bravo.

    May I suggest Ryan’s grand eloquence is about as influential and inspiring as the Pope defending priestly pedophiles. Instead of defending the indefensible, how about his using his eloquent pen to simply convince Mann to release all data and coding that was financed by any public monies. Simply, Ryan should beg him to do the right thing, so that others can accurately replicate his work. What’s the big deal with Ryan doing this? Let’s just have Ryan ask him for the needed code and data and the whole Cuccinelli endeavor will go away in a flash, evaporating instantly. Wouldn’t everyone agree?

    Okay Ryan, we all agree, give it a go. Personally ask Mann on this blog to release the data and code for public analysis. If he doesn’t respond to your gentile and civil plea for being scientifically reasonable (and professional), is it the okay with you if a legal official then makes a legitimate, legal request that he coughs up all data, code and associated documents before any trillion dollar decisions are made? Really, is that okay with you? We’d be personally miserable it you started to cry about this.

  47. Bill Hunter said

    The only problem I have with your take is you are assuming a lot about what the AG is after.

    Debate goes on endlessly on blogs like this as to whether fraud in science has been committed. But I don’t think that is directly what the AG is after. All that is already public information.

    The AG does not need emails to judge the science. I have done civil litigation support work and know that considerable latitude is allowed there. The Climategate emails go beyond passionately and honestly making a case for what you believe and clearly enters into far darker territory. I see fundamental difference in confirmation bias or minimizing ones errors and conspiring with others to disrupt processes and producing intentionally deceptive products.

    Mann reportedly consulted his attorney then issued a vehement denials of being involved in a conspiracy to destroy information. Only a small smidgen of Mann emails were in the Climategate file.

    If you read the act the AG is enforcing. You will find that in reality this investigation is really only an extended audit. These sorts of things are done routinely by many states for a whole variety of reasons including randomly selecting items to look at as a form of a compliance check on other supervisory controls. Virginia’s law is only unique in that it vests in both the public and the AG authorities that usually are only granted to the state audit function or legislature.

    Further the act protects the information gathered and only allows it to be used in a suit if such a suit is found to be justified by the AG. There is no invasion of privacy here, this right the AG is exercising is the right of any employer to read emails of employees.

    So it would probably be appropriate to wait to see if a suit is brought by the AG before jumping to too many conclusions. . . .all the AG is doing is being aggressive on his beliefs also, which you indicate above is OK, expected, and essentially unavoidable as AGs are humans and share the same shortcomings all scientists and Stephen Schneiders of the world have.

  48. JT said

    Jeff, you said “Cops are assumed honest,[by whom?], prosecutors assumed unbiased,[by whom?] experts are assigned credibility according to which side they battle for[by whom?] and the result is often pre-determined[by whom?].” If you were on a jury would you make any of those assumptions or allow your verdict to be pre-determined? I know that some cops are dishonest, some prosecutors are biased, some experts are for hire and some interested parties try to predetermine the result; but so does everyone else know that including judges and people who sit on juries. My point about uncertainty subsumes those sources of uncertainty along with all the others. At least in a courtroom your right to advance your own agenda, tender your own evidence and make your own arguments does not wait on peer review.

  49. steven Mosher said

    Well put. agree 100%.

    tom and I take a ton of grief for trying to argue that its not fraud. I hope that others see the harm in over charging the crime.

    noble cause corruption was the best short hand we came up with. again kudos

  50. Jonas B1 said

    Ryan,

    I think you are spot on when it comes to explaining the behaviour of (C)AGW scientists generally.

    But when it comes to Mann you say:

    “You may disagree with me, but I believe that Dr. Mann feels that his answers are correct. He may know that the methods have deficiencies. He may know that the data is problematic. He may know that the uncertainties are larger than claimed.”

    Science is more than honest belief in the results. Science is certainly also about the process. How did you come to your conclusion? In the case of Mann there is so much unscientific process, I think it amounts to scientific fraud.

  51. enough said

    1. Take a political cult with the goal to save the world.

    2. Take a scientific community with a take no prisoners approach.

    3. Mix in money and politics.

    4. Have a large portion of the population feel there well being is threatened.

    5. Let some science clique cross the fine line between reality and paranoid delusions of grandeur. (This happens more than you might think)

    Nothing good is going to come out of this… Nor should it be expected to

  52. curious said

    Ryan, Tom Fuller, Steven Mosher – do you have any data on self policing organisations finding against themselves versus for themselves?

  53. Lady in Red said

    This may be obvious, implied, but no one has mentioned it:

    Cuccinelli does not care about Michael Mann. I don’t understand the game plan, but Cuccinelli is challenging
    the EPA’s energy tax. Michael Mann is not the end game. …….Lady in Red

  54. Trevor said

    “Of course, you may not believe this, but I do . . . and you will not change my mind.”

    So, no matter what evidence someone might present the Mann is a lying bastard, you’re going to ignore it, right?

    Looks like Ryan has a bit of a confirmation bias himself. No wonder he’s defending Mann.

  55. Trevor said

    No one ever said that Mann committed fraud with respect to what HE BELIEVED to be the “truth”. The case is that he committed fraud with respect to the DATA AND MODELS. And you have admitted as much, even admitting INTENT. Case closed. It doesn’t matter WHY he did it. If some whacko started killing all the Jews because HE KNEW the world would be a better place without them, then by your standard, he should not be convicted of murder (or even investigated, for that matter, since that’s all Cuccinelli is doing at this point). Hell, the whacko doesn’t even have to claim that he’s a “true believer”, because, by your logic, we have to ASSUME he’s a “true believer”, without even looking into the matter. Give him the benefit of the doubt, without even checking his background for evidence that he’s a “true believer”.

    But I’m wasting my breath. Like Mann himself, you know what the truth is (“Of course, you may not believe this, but I do . . . and you will not change my mind.”); the facts be damned.

  56. Andrew_KY said

    @ #54 Trevor,

    “you will not change my mind”

    Haha! Of course! This is the epitome of the Modern Scientist. No… it’s a requirement of Modern Science. Science has become a parody, and this post is the epitome!😉

    Andrew

  57. hunter said

    AGW is a social mania, but those in it who have profited by promoting it deserve the scrutiny they are receiving.
    People go mad in great masses, and return to their senses as individuals. If a mob incites particular people to do bad things, those who choose to do those bad are still accountable for their actions. If Mann, Hansen, Schmidt, Gore, (for example) and others who have gained wealth, notoriety, power, etc. promoting AGW did so by breaking laws or agreements they made, they deserve to be held accountable.

  58. Kendra said

    As an “outsider” – simply a taxpayer, not a scientist altho I’ve become a pretty good amateur – I do detect a whiff of circling the wagons here. I’m reserving judgment until I can analyze the minutiae of the investigation but I gather that isn’t really being analyzed much here either.

    Elitists of all stripes are hiding behind special privilege in many areas – not just climate change – and it’s been very disturbing to me for many years. I’m a libertarian and I do abhore government intervention but I abhore even more the power derived and enabled to government exactly from these same elitist special interests.

    Color me disappointed.

  59. Trevor said

    “The problem with the science is not one of wicked deceit. The problem is that the moral imperative has trumped healthy skepticism. It is a problem of confirmation bias and loss of objectivity.”

    Skepticism is the JOB of a scientist. It is a scientist’s DUTY to not be biased. It is his MISSION to be objective. Any scientist who violates these tenants, if nothing else, is guilty of fraud for calling himself a “scientist”. And he’s guilty of misuse of public funds if he uses his credentials as a “scientist” to obtain public funds.

    Regards,
    Trevor

  60. Trevor said

    “You may disagree with me, but I believe that Dr. Mann feels that his answers are correct. He may know that the methods have deficiencies. He may know that the data is problematic. He may know that the uncertainties are larger than claimed. However, he still believes that his answer is right.”

    Mann’s intent to deceive was not one involving his beliefs about “big picture”. As you have so eloquently explained, in Mann’s self-created universe, the “truth” is that mankind is causing catastrophic global warming, and he never published anything that was contrary to that “truth”. Mann’s intent to deceive was in the DETAILS. He KNEW the details of his work to be FALSE, but he published them anyway. That’s fraud, and that’s intentional. The lack of fraud regarding the “big picture” is a red herring. There was fraud in the DETAILS, and that’s where Mann is (hopefully) going to be CHARGED with fraud.

    Let’s say I create a drug that I HONESTLY BELIEVE … no, I KNOW … will cure cancer. I understand all the theory behind cancer, and the theory says that this drug will cure it. Then I test my drug on 1,000 lab mice. It kills 500 of the mice, and has no effect on 450 of them, but cures cancer in the remaining 50. Okay, so it killed a few mice, and failed to cure cancer in a few more, but there MUST have been something wrong with THOSE mice because I KNOW my drug cures cancer. So, in order to SAVE all these human cancer victims, I have a MORAL IMPERATIVE to ignore the 500 dead mice and the 450 uncured mice. So I throw out the 950 cases, storing them in a folder called “censored”, and claim that my drug cures cancer in 100% of the 50 cases in my experiment. Then I market this drug as a “100% effective cure for cancer”. Have I committed fraud? Not by your standard.

    Now, let’s alter that scenario a bit. Let’s say I had no reason to believe that my drug would cure cancer – it was just a few herbs I mixed together. I performed the same tests as above, with the same results, but in this scenario, I concluded (privately) that the drug had no statistically significant effect on cancer. But, despite my own belief that the drug was worthless, I market it as a “100% effective cure for cancer”. I don’t even believe that it will cure cancer. I’m selling purely for profit. But I’m saying all the right things publicly, and saying them passionately, to make you believe that, at least, I BELIEVE my product will cure cancer. Even by your relaxed standard, I’m guilty of fraud, right? But would you support an investigation of me and my drug? No, because, as with Mann, you’re prepared to ASSUME the best intentions, without question, based merely on my public statements.

    Of course, in the case of drugs, we have an FDA to confirm the claims of drug manufacturers, thus preventing both kinds of fraud (and they ARE BOTH fraud). The FDA runs its own tests and experiments to see if what the manufacturer claims is accurate. And the FDA REQUIRES the manufacturers to provide details of the testing that they did. But back in the 1800s, when we didn’t have an FDA to protect people from fraudulent drug manufacturers, thousands of so-called “snake-oil salesmen” were selling their dubious wares to the ignorant masses. In many cases, the purveyors of these products didn’t even believe in the efficacy (and in some cases, safety) of their products. But you, Ryan, if confronted with this phenomenon today, would apparently say that we have to ASSUME that they TRULY BELIEVED that they were marketing a beneficial medicine. And you would, of course, be opposed to filing criminal charges of fraud against these hucksters. And you wouldn’t even demand that they give back the money they essentially stole from unsuspecting customers. You would not even support an inquiry into whether the manufacturers even BELIEVED in their products, but would be content to assume that they were honest, at least about what they BELIEVED their product would do, even if they had conducted no tests, or if they did and their products failed those tests.

    Not only are you prepared to accept “true belief” as an excuse for crimes, you are prepared to ASSUME “true belief”, without even trying to disprove it. So tell me, Ryan, in your universe, who would ever be convicted of any crime? Other than, of course, those who confessed that they did it AND admitted that they did it intentionally AND admitted that they were not motivated by some “moral imperative”. Because, the way I see it, that’s what it would take to convict someone under your standard.

    Regards,
    Trevor

  61. tonyb said

    I once looked at the circumstances surrounding the creation of the Hockey stick in some detail. Bearing in mind it was produced when Michael Mann was still a relatively young PHD without -I believe- any background in the ‘anecdotal’ historical context of what he was doing, I formed the impression that the Hockey stick was essentially intended as a work in progress.

    It achieved sudden world wide fame instead of being tinkered with and refined for another five years out of the glare of publicity and fame. Without the oxygen of publicity Dr Mann might have worked on it sufficiently so that it might have become a more worthwhile document.

    Having been catapulted to fame and fortune it would take an extraordinary person to modestly retire behind his campus walls and work quietly on his graphs, as that would be a tacit admittance that it wasn’t as definitive as many wanted to believe.

    So in this you have the potent combination of self aggrandisement, hubris, celebrity, fame, fortune, politics and the powerful transference of the ‘I want this to be correct’ syndrome by well meaning groups and well connected liberal infividuals.

    We consequently saw a world wide phenomenen that wasn’t actually nearly as good as people first thought. A bit like Jaws…

    So over hyped yes, fraudulent probably not.

    Tonyb

  62. stan said

    Sorry don’t have time to read all comments. Ryan, your description isn’t about climate science, it is about the impulses of the political left. Read Thomas Sowell (e.g. The Vision of the Anointed). As Krauthammer wrote — the difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Republicans think Democrats are wrong and Democrats think Republicans are evil.

    Read Mann’s political comments. Read alarmist blogs and compare with lefty political blogs. It’s all the same ideology, same tactics, same people. Lefties are convinced that they really want to help (fill in the blank — the earth, the poor, minorities, people in general, etc.) This makes them really good people. And since these lefties are so smart, they know best. Ignorant, stupid people can’t be left to decide for themselves. The people must be forced to do the right things by the govt as dictated by the lefties (and their big hearts). And since conservatives/GOP oppose their policy proposals, these opponents must be EVIL.

    Heck, just listen to Obama and the way he slanders anyone who disagrees with him (or even anyone he thinks might disagree with him). Climate skeptics might as well be bitter rednecks clinging to their guns and religion. Or tea party protesters getting slandered as teabaggers. It’s all the same dynamic at work. Covered by the news media exactly the same way, too.

    The hockey team’s treatment of anyone who disagreed with them was/is vicious. Note, recent research shows that people who derive moral “brownie points” in their own minds because of their political views or their “green” actions are less likely to be moral in their treatment of others. Having the right beliefs and working to save the world means never having to say you’re sorry.

    You can’t carve climate science out from the rest of the left-wing political cess pool. It stinks the same way because it consists of the same sewage.

  63. AMac said

    There have been some notorious cases of scientists behaving badly. One I recall is where physiologist Dr. X fell in love with a hooker, then hired her as his lab technician (no, she wasn’t qualified for that job). The story went downhill from there.

    Another is where a biochemist knew, just knew that a certain protein would be phosphorylated upon activation of a certain signaling pathway. Problem was, when he ran his experiments with radioactive phosphorus, he couldn’t see the expected pattern when he developed his X-ray films. (His technique was right, except it wasn’t sensitive enough.) So he came into the lab at night, took a paintbrush, and carefully drew in the right bands with radioactive ink. The next morning, viola! Fantastic results that were published in a top-notch journal. Colleagues became suspicious because his experiments worked too well. The plot was exposed when the radioactive signal was analyzed–the biochemist had spiked his ink with Iodine-125 rather than Phosphorus-32.

    These are the sorts of actions that a reasonable person can confidently identify as fraud.

    The worst of Prof. Mann’s deeds are in a much grayer category.

    (1) I know of no evidence that anyone in his lab has been involved in financial impropriety, e.g. billing for work that was never done, misappropriation.

    (2) The State of the Art in Paleoclimatology may be pretty sorry. But that’s what it is. No funding agency is going to receive reports that are better than what the field is able to deliver.

    Many commenters here seem to start with the conclusion that Prof. Mann has committed fraud, and then work backwards to what an investigation will surely uncover. I don’t think this is good reasoning.

  64. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Ryan,

    I think you are spot on when it comes to explaining the behaviour of (C)AGW scientists generally.

    I will come down off my high horse here to say I whole heartily second what Jonas B1 said here. Ryan’s synopsis is exactly my take on a general explanation of why some climate scientists behave the way they do – and why I am suspicious of their works and conclusions.

    The blog analyses of Mann and other climate science papers were making great progress and science oriented and not-so-science oriented readers were understanding the subtleties of what some climate scientists were doing, and particularly with regard to cherry picking data and in the case of the IPCC evidence. Ryan O nicely ties that tendency together with some of those climate scientists who think they already have the answer ( and in their minds an answer that will save the world). Unfortunately that is the advocacy of the scientists taking command of the scientist. If the climategate emails did anything it is to reveal this strong inclination amongst the corresponding scientists.

    My point in this discussion has been an attempt to show that the government action against Mann is not unique or new by any means and a defense of Mann should start with why we do not want or need government getting involved in these analyses for anybody and reinforcing this argument with some past examples.

    For you skeptics out there who seem to be in favor of the VA AG’s actions, I would like to point to some practical considerations against those action in this matter that Ryan O did not expound upon. On one hand, we have the examples of the feds going after the likes of Martha Stewart and other bad old business people like her. They did not convict her on the original charges but on her making false statements during depositions. This has been a tactic the feds have been using of late to obtain convictions. Now you seekers of justice for Mann may be licking your chops thinking, there we go, we ask Mann about calculating r^2 for the proxies and if he answers as he has before we have him where we want him. This would seem to in line with what the government does to bad old business people. But unfortunately, if you believe this you are probably badly out of touch with the prevailing political situation in this country. The MSM and other opinion makers in this country have no problems with seeing cases like the Mann one brought against bad old business titans, but in Mann’s case they are just waiting for a dumb ass move like the AG of VA has made to use Mann as a victim and martyr for the cause and even to go so far as the attempt to blame the likes of Steve M for the situation. (Steve M was almost forced to write his opinion on the matter and do it early in the process in an attempt to avoid the blame game – which he may or may not avoid in the end).

    For those of you wanting some revenge on Mann and cohorts, I say the smart way is to continue the blog analysis of his papers and others who fit the advocate/scientist description. The VA AG way will end badly in the current political climate.

  65. MikeN said

    AMac, I agree that a jury finding of fraud is impossible, and would add that such a line of investigation is probably outside the scope of an AG inquiry.
    If the AG inquiry goes in that direction, then he is off-base. Let him hunt through the e-mails and codes, and see if he can find anything that suggests fraud.
    Then let him clear Mann on that point.

    The only possible line of inquiry that might yield fruit is if he can get a case of Mann not living up to his contracts, which would depend on what the contracts say.
    He has enough basis to conduct an investigation based on the e-mails. Penn State may have concluded that Mann did not delete e-mails, but why shouldn’t he see? I’m not even sure if what Jones was intending was possible. Then you have Briffa discussing how to dodge tax laws, plus we’ve worked out a way to get around IPCC guidelines. Why shouldn’t the AG conduct an inquiry to see if they were getting around grant guidelines?

  66. Science proceeds in fits and starts, barrels headlong into dead ends, and so on. So what? The point is: AGW flows into massive changes in society.

    If AGW were merely a backroom entertainment, no one would need to care. Let researchers who succumb to the moral imperative play their little games. But this is science that leads to political, social, and economic revolution on a grand scale.

    Mann, of course, knows this. So his error-laden science has deep consequences. Finding the correct legal label to apply to his work and attitude may be a slippery process, but that doesn’t mean we should flounder in a sea of uncertainty about the man.

    At minimum, he is responsible for having knowledge of his own motives, and he is responsible for finding large flaws in his own work, and he is responsible for seeing the wider consequences of his falsehoods.

    Call that anything you want to. Blindness is not an excuse.

  67. Steve E said

    Jeff and Ryan,

    Re: “Courts are ill-equipped to understand uncertainty. They prefer to see the world in terms of guilt and innocence, black and white.”

    I must agree with JT #37 on this one. Not only are the courts equipped to understand uncertainty, they are predicated on it. Guilt in many cases must be established beyond a reasonable doubt which acknowledges that absolute certainty is unattainable. In other types of cases, actions are judged by a prudent person measure which again stands a reasonable distance from black and white.

    Briggs had an interesting post on this: http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=2190

    That doesn’t negate the possibility for abuse of process which I believe this charge borders on.

    Great post Ryan! I’m with you on pretty much everything else.

  68. steven Mosher said

    The combination of some data and an aching desire for
    an answer does not ensure that a reasonable answer can
    be extracted from a given body of data. – John Tukey.

  69. stan said

    Ryan,

    A few nits that need picking in no particular order —

    1. You seem to have a very, very narrow definition of fraud regarding Mann. You seem to willing to give him a pass on the fraud issue as long as he truly believes in global warming. Way, way too narrow. [e.g. I may truly think that the car I am selling to you is an excellent vehicle, absolutely right for you, and a great deal for you. If I make a material false representation about the car for the purpose of getting you to buy, it’s fraud. No matter how much I think I’m doing it for your own good.] The question is not what Mann believes. Belief, as about the large overriding theory, is completely irrelevant. The question is whether the work is honest. His justifications or beliefs matter not a whit.

    2. There actually are marxists who work together with the goal of an overthrow of free enterprise. Some are very open about their intent. And some of them are CAGW cheerleaders for that reason. That doesn’t mean all alarmist scientists are part of the effort. I would suspect that few are. Most likely don’t give it much thought one way or the other. But there actually are people who conspire to that end.

    3. I’m not sure you have an accurate picture of the legal process at issue with the AG here. There is no court involved at present. And I don’t agree with your assessment of what can and can’t be determined in court. Although I agree fully that the general public often makes a huge mistake assuming that a particular legal outcome has determined a question of fact [see e.g. the OJ criminal trial where his acquittal did NOT make a factual determination of whether he killed the two victims]. However, sometimes the discovery process is a great way to bring information public.

    4. I think a whole lot of folks have jumped to conclusions that far outstrip the facts that are currently before us.

  70. Braille said

    Ryan O.:

    When I first started reading your article, I thought that there was no way you’d ever support the actions you described in the first couple paragraphs.

    By the third paragraph, I’d realized that it was all a story, and laid back a little, content to see how the story played out and how you’d show that while you can’t condone the actions of the scientist in your story, you would not want that person to be prosecuted under the law, either.

    Then I got to your analysis, and it appears that you do, in fact, condone science carried out in such a way that the conclusions are reached before any data is analyzed, and any data that doesn’t hold to the original conclusion can be set aside.

    I’m sorry, but I can’t condone science carried out in reverse, no matter how strong the pre-supposed moral imperative is. Let’s be honest, the moral imperative doesn’t exist if the data doesn’t strongly support the conclusion. Oh, it might allow for the conclusion to be true, but that isn’t enough to create a moral imperative, unless it’s a moral imperative to get better support for their conclusion from honest data collection and analysis. The scientist in your story failed to be a scientist the instant he decided that he was right, the instant his hypothesis became a conclusion and took on a moral imperative to take action.

    #60 “Trevor @ May 5, 2010 at 11:03 am” explained it very well.

    Drug research is undeniably part of the scientific community, and it has a heavy public impact, just like Climate Science. The FDA is a government organization, and it does a fair job of curtailing the most harmful of the junk science in the food and drug industries.

    Now, where is the “FDA” for Climate Science? I’ll stop looking for the Cuccinelli’s of the world to reign in bad scientists like the one in your story when a Climate Science Administration starts taking them to task instead, or the scientific community actually steps up as a whole to condemn bad scientists for doing bad science.

    I would have loved if the scientific community you are so fond of had reigned in the bad scientists instead of publishing their work and starting a world-wide epidemic of powerful people with the moral imperative to save the world from something that there’s a good chance the world would not need saving from. unfortunately, the scientific community instead has supported the bad scientists. Even though there are a handful of scientists beginning to address the situation, it’s not going to be corrected fast enough to stop the plague of well-intentioned, and not so well-intentioned (they aren’t all Marxist, but there are some), power brokers changing the face of the world in a way that will likely be worse for humanity than if we were allowed to continue our way.

    Let’s get that CSA installed, and in the meantime, I’m going to hope that Cuccinnelli’s method does some good. Maybe this is what the scientific community needs to light a fire under their Consensus arse and get good science done in the future without claiming any moral imperatives.

  71. Braille said

    On second thought, a Climate Science Administration working under the government would probably be biased in favor of passing Climate Alarmist stuff in order to increase the size of government.

    So the only solution I see is the AG’s investigation pushing good scientists far enough to take control of the scientific community back again from the hands of the bad scientists like Mann. The only moral imperative a scientists should have is the imperative to produce honest science.

  72. Nick Stokes said

    Re: MikeN (May 5 12:19),
    “He has enough basis to conduct an investigation based on the e-mails. Penn State may have concluded that Mann did not delete e-mails, but why shouldn’t he see?”
    A good example of the muddled defence of Cuccinelli. Some elementary points:
    1. Mann, in Pa, would not have breached any Va Laws by deleting emails.
    2. Mann, in Pa, would not have breached any US laws in deleting emails which may be relevant to a UK FOIA request
    3. Mann, in Pa, would not have breached any UK Laws either. The FOIA obligation is for UEA to produce information in its possession. The FOIA law creates an affence for UEA and its officers to delete info that it holds (once the request is made) but explicitly says that those are the only people affected.
    and of course
    4. There’s no indication at all that Mann deleted any emails anyway. He says he didn’t.

    And of course, Briffa in UK didn’t discuss evading any Russian tax laws. But even if he did, it’s not the business of the Virginia AG to investigate. And it has nothing to do with Mann.

  73. AMac said

    Upthread, I reviewed some of the candidates for actionable misconduct by Prof. Mann (Comments #23 & #29). I found it very difficult to imagine that a disinterested lay person would agree that “there be fraud!”

    In contrast, the points that Nick Stokes raises #71 are readily grasped, and have the virtue of appealing to common sense — something that most people are quite responsive to.

    AG Cuccinelli is trying to use the power of the State to disrupt Prof. Mann’s work. He probably can. Still, the vindication that lies at the end of this path will burnish rather than tarnish the professor’s reputation.

    Nicely done.

  74. Nick Stokes said

    Re: AMac (May 5 21:13),
    Yes, I looked through that list, and I thought – well, I’ve reviewed lots of scientific papers, and seen many worse errors than that. But I’ve never thought I should send the papers to the police.

  75. BillyBob said

    #72 Thanks Nick.

    “Mann, in Pa, would not have breached any Va Laws by deleting emails.”

    I applaud that you have some out of the closet to approve of deleting of emails to hide the decline.

  76. Genghis said

    “The problem with climate science is not the individual scientists or even the work being performed.”

    Actually the problem with climate ‘science’ is the ‘work being performed’. Anyone who claims to perform work and won’t show or produce the work, produces nothing. If they got paid for work and withheld it, that is fraud.

    Mann still hasn’t produced the code which created the HS, Cru ‘lost’ their data, etc. etc.

    Climate science appears to be indistinguishable from Astrology and reading Tea Rings and Rorschach tests. The data is simply too noisy to determine accurate trends.

  77. MikeN said

    Nick Stokes, you are right on all points, except I believe the Russian tax laws(an e-mail to Shiyatov I think.) Plus there is indication that Mann deleted e-mails. He wrote that he would do so. My point is that the AG may think it is worthwhile to go on a fishing expedition to see if Mann has violated OTHER laws, particularly engaged in fraud. The other examples of deleting e-mails and Briffa’s tax dodging show a pattern of behavior and provide grounds for suspicion.

  78. Mark T said

    72.Nick Stokes said
    May 5, 2010 at 8:44 pm
    Re: MikeN (May 5 12:19),

    1. Mann, in Pa, would not have breached any Va Laws by deleting emails.

    Last I heard, he was not requestiong anything other than time at UVA.

    2. Mann, in Pa, would not have breached any US laws in deleting emails which may be relevant to a UK FOIA request.

    See #1.

    3. Mann, in Pa, would not have breached any UK Laws either. The FOIA obligation is for UEA to produce information in its possession. The FOIA law creates an affence for UEA and its officers to delete info that it holds (once the request is made) but explicitly says that those are the only people affected.

    Did you mean offence, not affence? Anyway, what has this comment to do with the comment you are responding to?

    4. There’s no indication at all that Mann deleted any emails anyway. He says he didn’t.

    Again, what does this have to do with what you are responding to? So far, there’s nothing but a question asked, so your opinion of what Mann may or may not have done is rather moot, right? I mean, assuming you are actually capable of understanding what is going on, of course.

    Mark

  79. Mark T said

    Uh, my first response was meant to say “requesting” not “requestiong.”

    Drunk, thanks all.

    Mark

  80. Nick Stokes said

    Re: MikeN (May 5 23:20),
    I don’t believe that there is any email from Briffa discussing anything that could be associated with tax evasion. And Mann did not say that he would delete emails.

    The AG might think he could find something by fishing. But AG’s are supposed to have proper bases for action before they go making extensive demands for documents, otherwise it’s just police state stuff. And none of what you’ve mentioned even relates to MM’s time in Va.

    “to see if Mann has violated OTHER laws”
    There you go again. You haven’t shown that he has violated any laws.

    And Mark T (May 5 23:41), I’ll repeat the quote that I was addressing:
    “He has enough basis to conduct an investigation based on the e-mails. Penn State may have concluded that Mann did not delete e-mails, but why shouldn’t he see?”

  81. dribble said

    I would congratulate Ryan O for an extremely well-written and eloquent argument against pouring more oil on the fire of troubled waters vis a vis the investigation of Mann by the Virginia state AG. It reminds me yet again of the reason why I am not a tertiary educated person, I just don’t have the brains to write stuff as good as that.
    The main issue I have with it is Ryan’s somewhat naïve or expedient inconsistency with regard to the intervention of politics into the scientific process. The main argument is that the normally supposedly objective scientific processes operating with regard to climate science have become politicized for various reasons. Therefore, according to Ryan:
    “Climate science – like particle physics – must be fixed through academic pressures, either from within the community itself or due to influences from other sciences. There are only two possible outcomes: it will continue as it has, and relegate itself to irrelevance; or it will mature and re-establish the trust it once had. It may take an agonizingly long time, but it will eventually take one of those two possible routes.”
    This view both acknowledges and sidesteps the real problem, which is that it is the academic community and its supporting establishment milieu that has become politicized. If it were not so, we might presume that Mann’s dubious product would have been corrected in the normal course of academic science. Instead, the corrective criticisms were instigated from outside the system by bloggers such as Steve McIntyre and Jeff Id, along with unknown heroes such as the UEA hacker/s and others. It is their technical expertise which legitimized climate skepticism and made it thinkable to question the consensus. Without McIntyre for example it is a certainty that to this day the hockey stick and its derivatives would still be a prominent feature of IPCC advertising and other allegedly science based climate hysteria beatups. One should not also forget that it required a politically motivated inquiry, the Barton committee, to force Mann to divulge various data that he had previously refused to part with.
    To expect therefore that the academic community is capable of reforming itself without outside pressure is not in accordance with the historical facts. Cuccinelli’s investigation is a confirmation that the system is believed in some quarters to be in need of reform. Since Mann’s talent for sleazing his way out of trouble is legendary I doubt that it will achieve anything of note. However I believe that in terms of the overall health of the system such investigations need to take place. Deep rooted tumors may require radical surgery for the patient to have any chance of recovery.

  82. Keith Hill said

    As an Aussie layman, I don’t understand either the personalities or the subtleties involved in US politics and therefore won’t presume to comment on Cuccinelli. However, I think the motives behind Mann’s tree-ring research and production of the hockey stick need close examination.

    Two important points to bear in mind are that:
    (1) the Intergovernmental PCC was set up to find “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”.
    (2) their First Report showed that they accepted and acknowledged the history of the MWP and Little Ice Age.

    With their later “findings” that there was global warming which they alleged could not be explained by natural variability but more importantly, was “unprecedented” in history, the MWP and LIA obviously stood in the way of this hypothesis. I believe there are enough references in the Climategate emails to show it was agreed that some way had to be found to change that previously accepted history. In fact, it is not stretching a point to say virtually the whole case for AGW at that stage stood or fell on this and the way Mann’s work was used as the basis for “findings” in later IPCC Reports bear this out.

    Given the questions hanging over much of Mann’s research in the hockey stick affair, it would certainly seem to demand some diligent investigation. Whether there is any basis or terms of reference to allow Cucinelli to do this is of course, another matter.

  83. MikeN said

    No I haven’t shown that he has violated any laws. I don’t think he has violated any laws.
    However, it is a strange standard to say that you have to show laws are violated before you can investigate something.
    I do think the e-mails show enough reason to conduct an investigation/fishing expedition to see if he has violated any laws.

    Briffa received an e-mail from Shiyatov requesting a specific form of payments to avoid big taxes.
    It is not clear that Briffa did this, or even if this is anything people should care about, and of course it is not Mann, but I can see how an AG might see that as something worth investigating. There is another e-mail from Briffa to Shiyatov which could be interpreted as trying to game the grantmaking process.

  84. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    Nick Stokes said
    May 6, 2010 at 12:42 am

    “But AG’s are supposed to have proper bases for action before they go making extensive demands for documents, otherwise it’s just police state stuff.”

    This is way over the top Nick.

    No AG can afford politically to bring a frivolous legal action against an institution or person; and even if he did, such an action would be thrown out by the first court that hears the evidence. If the UVa believes that the AG is acting illegally or improperly in his request for information, they can immediately bring a lawsuit to block his requests (my bet… they will never even consider this, because the AG is clearly acting within Virginia statutes).

    The AG in Virginia is an elected official, and so he is subject to loss of office if the public views his actions as inappropriate, and also subject to immediate impeachment for abuse of office. It is preposterous on its face to compare what is going on with the AG’s investigation of Mann’s use of State funds to “police state stuff”. Police states don’t offer protection against frivolous suits by the courts, and don’t have elected officials that are regularly subject to loss of office in fair elections.

    I completely agree that the AG’s investigation is almost certainly politically motivated, but I suggest that you remember that it is a political response to Mann’s overtly political behavior and his questionable behind the scenes (political) activities, as revealed by the UEA emails. Heck, I think your objection to the AG’s investigation is also mainly a political statement. It’s all really just politics, nothing more.

    Before you start talking about “police states”, maybe you should read the Virginia State Constitution ( http://legis.state.va.us/laws/search/constitution.htm ) and ask yourself if this document seems to be a solid foundation for an efficiently functioning police state. Come on Nick, calm down.

  85. Mark T said

    80.Nick Stokes said
    May 6, 2010 at 12:42 am

    And Mark T (May 5 23:41), I’ll repeat the quote that I was addressing:
    “He has enough basis to conduct an investigation based on the e-mails. Penn State may have concluded that Mann did not delete e-mails, but why shouldn’t he see?”

    I read that and still note that it has nothing to do with whether or not Mann deleted emails at Penn State. The original quoter was merely pointing out what Penn State did not find. Cucinelli is not requesting time at Penn State leaving your response lacking and otherwise off point. Not a surprise.

    Mark

  86. Nick Stokes said

    Re: Mark T (May 7 20:19),
    Well, what issue of deletion of emails (that Penn State did not find) do you think he is talking about?

  87. Judith Curry said

    Ryan, thank you for this extremely insightful essay.

  88. Sebaneau said

    The inconvenient truth scientists don’t want to take into account is that politicization in inherent in “public” funding. The money is stolen, it comes from the police which threatens the taxpayers with violence to have them cough up the dough.

    And that inevitably leads to all efforts being directed towards getting that money from the politicians who control the police than towards seeking the truth. “Public research” leads to post-modern science, and post-modern science is no more honest than your average politician : it will reject logic and experience whenever politically suitable.

  89. Sebaneau said

    As a consequence, the scientists who cry “academic freedom” while being receivers of stolen goods are either disingenuous or deluded: there can be no academic freedom in a state-funded environment, only some rivalry between political cliques.

    “Academic freedom” based on other people’s stolen money is aristocratic privilege, and there are feuds between privileged aristocrats.

    And if a political appointee asks to see where the moolah went allegedly on behalf of the taxpayers, he is playing the same game, only more honestly, as his overtly political act reveals the nature of the whole business.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: