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Penn State clears Mann in Climate-gate probe

On the Post Carbon blog, staff writer Juliet Eilperin reports that a Pennsylvania State University investigative committee has cleared a climate scientist of ethical misconduct in connection with an exchange of e-mails about global warming known as Climate-gate.

Michael Mann, a meteorology professor at Penn State, came under fire after hackers broke into the server of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit in Britain and published thousands of e-mails and documents the center's staff had sent to other climate researchers.

Mann is best known as the author of the "hockey-stick" graph, which showed there has been a rapid, recent rise in the Earth's temperature. His work has long been under attack by global-warming skeptics, but the criticism became more heated after an e-mail between scientists referring to a statistical "trick" used in Mann's research surfaced among the leaked e-mails. Mann said the e-mail was taken out of context.

Mann's professional conduct is also being questioned in Virginia, where Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has said he is investigating whether Mann committed fraud when he sought and spent five public grants for his research while working at the University of Virginia. Cuccinelli is seeking to subpoena the university for information on those grants. The university is challenging the request, arguing that the attorney general is intruding on Mann's academic freedom.

Read more on here.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  July 1, 2010; 4:15 PM ET
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli  
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Comments

The climate alarmist community must be running out of whitewash. We'll see if Mann goes infront of Cuccelli or if he's only going to be tried by his cohorts.

Posted by: ecocampaigner | July 1, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Mann is a climate scientist, not a meteorologist as stated in this post. Meteorologists study weather. Climate scientists study climate. These are completely separate disciplines.

Posted by: chrisd3 | July 2, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

@ecocampaigner: "The climate alarmist community must be running out of whitewash"

I don't think you understand how the big research universities operate. PSU has NO incentive to whitewash this. Protecting one scientist at the cost of the university's reputation would be an act of institutional insanity.

Posted by: chrisd3 | July 2, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Whitewash, Penn State is as corrupt as Mann.

Posted by: ecocampaigner | July 2, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

chris3,

Penn State has every reason to find Mann innocent. If they found him guilty, they'd be on the hook for paying back all his federal research money. They'd also open the door to investigations from outside parties of all their science. They can't afford that.

This is just another trial-by-friends, just like the Oxburgh and other British trials.

I can't wait to see what happens when one of these charlatans gets put on trial by Ken Cuccelli or some other non-cohort.

Posted by: ecocampaigner | July 2, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

@ecocampaigner

"If they found him guilty, they'd be on the hook for paying back all his federal research money."

Which would be a minute fraction of PSU's budget. From 2006 to 2009, Mann's grants amounted to $1.8 million out of PSU's total of $2.8 BILLION. That's 0.06%. Please try to be serious.

PSU is one of the top-ranked research universities in the US. Allegations of research misconduct are taken seriously by any research university, and very, very seriously by the big ones. They have to quickly identify and correct problems, not cover them up. Covering up misconduct would be a monumentally stupid thing to do, especially to save 0.06% of PSU's grant income. No one at PSU is stupid.

"They'd also open the door to investigations from outside parties of all their science."

Complete nonsense. This just doesn't happen. Research misconduct is rare but not unknown. When it is found and dealt with in an appropriate manner, no one starts to investigate any of the rest of university's science, never mind "all" of it. A university's reputation is ENHANCED, not damaged, by appropriate handling of research miscounduct. It shows that you're serious about doing only good research.

"This is just another trial-by-friends, just like the Oxburgh and other British trials."

Right. You "skeptics" won't be satisifed until someone finds one of the scientists guilty of something. Nothing else matters, and certainly not who's doing the investigating. George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Sam Adams could come back from the dead with wheelbarrows full of exculpatory evidence, and it would still be a "whitewash."

Posted by: chrisd3 | July 2, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Chris, its far too late for the Global Warming Cause. The public and politicans are highly skeptical, and no trial-by-friends is going to white wash this one.

If Franklin and Washington were brought back to try american revolutionaries, I'd be they'd be found innocent of treason too.

If you let BP investigate its own oil spill, they'd find themselves innocent.

If you let soldiers in Iraq try their squadmates, they'll find them innocent.

None of these would be ok with you, but corrupt academics try their own, sure that's just fine?

Posted by: ecocampaigner | July 2, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

@eco

"corrupt academics try their own, sure that's just fine?"

"Corrupt academics"? There's not a particle of evidence that anyone doing the investigation was corrupt. There hasn't even been an accusation that any of them are corrupt. There's not even a HINT that any of them are corrupt. This is slander. There's really no other word for it.

Looks like you didn't actually try to comprehend a word I wrote. A research university that doesn't deal immediately, objectively, and thoroughly with research misconduct is committing institutional suicide--for no reason. NOBODY faults an institution for being the site of individual misconduct AS LONG AS the institution deals with it appropriately.

But covering it up? That would leave a taint that could not be removed for decades. It would be the institutional equivalent of psychotic behavior.

Posted by: chrisd3 | July 2, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Actually, chrisd3, the original article got it right. Michael Mann is in Penn State's Department of Meteorology and his title is Professor of Meteorology. (source http://www.met.psu.edu/people/mem45 ) He probably even teaches budding forecasters. Yes, Mann's research expertise is in climate, particularly paleoclimate. But meteorology and climate science have a lot in common. They study the same atmosphere and use some of the same computer models.

Posted by: imback | July 2, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

@imback:

I'm sorry, he may be housed in the Department of Meteorology, but he's not a meteorologist. His degrees are in physics, geology, and geophysics. He teaches only climate-related courses. Essentially all of his scholarly papers are climate-related.

Meteorology focuses on short-term weather processes and weather forecasting. That's not what he does, and never has been.

Posted by: chrisd3 | July 3, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

chrisd3, you correctly identify the distinction between climate and weather. My point was that the original article was correct, Professor of Meteorology actually being his title, nothing to be ashamed of, and that the two science fields have much in common though the time scales are definitely different. After all, both fields are based on physics, principally geophysical fluid dynamics.

Posted by: imback | July 3, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

imback:

OK, you know what? I'm going to concede the point. When was the last time you saw that happen in blog comments? :)

Technically speaking, he is indeed a Professor of Meteorology. I do think, however, that:

1. "Professor of Meteorology" is subtly different from "a meteorology professor." The former is a title; the latter gives the impression that he teaches meteorology (which he doesn't).

2. He's better described as "Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State...."

But, you're right. And I guess it's nitpicky anyway. I think I'm just hypersensitive from years of trying to distinguish weather from climate to the "It's cold today, global warming is a hoax" crowd.

Posted by: chrisd3 | July 3, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

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