Mann Exonerated

Penn State issued the findings of its inquiry into the conduct of Dr.Michael Mann in response to allegations raised by the CRU Email hack/leak.

The inquiry investigated four allegations:

1. Did you engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions with the intent to suppress or falsify data?

2. Did you engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions with the intent to delete, conceal or otherwise destroy emails, information and/or data, related to AR4, as suggested by Phil Jones?

3. Did you engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any misuse of privileged or confidential information available to you in your capacity as an academic scholar?

4. Did you engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities?

Here are the findings:

Finding 1. After careful consideration of all the evidence and relevant materials, the inquiry committee finding is that there exists no credible evidence that Dr. Mann had or has ever engaged in, or participated in, directly or indirectly, any actions with an  intent to suppress or to falsify data. While a perception has been created in the weeks after the CRU emails were made public that Dr. Mann has engaged in the suppression or falsification of data, there is no credible evidence that he ever did so, and certainly not while at Penn State. In fact to the contrary, in instances that have been focused upon by some as indicating falsification of data, for example in the use of a “trick” to manipulate the data, this is explained as a discussion among Dr. Jones and others including Dr. Mann about how best to put together a graph for a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report. They were not falsifying data; they were trying to construct an understandable graph for those who were not experts in the field. The so-called “trick”1 was nothing more than a statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion by a technique that has been reviewed by a broad array of peers in the field.

Finding 2. After careful consideration of all the evidence and relevant materials, the inquiry committee finding is that there exists no credible evidence that Dr. Mann had ever engaged in, or participated in, directly or indirectly, any actions with intent to delete, conceal or otherwise destroy emails, information and/or data related to AR4, as suggested by Dr. Phil Jones.  Dr. Mann has stated that he did not delete emails in response to Dr. Jones’ request. Further, Dr. Mann produced upon request a full archive of his emails in and around the time of the preparation of AR4. The archive contained e-mails related to AR4.

Finding 3. After careful consideration of all the evidence and relevant materials, the inquiry committee finding is that there exists no credible evidence that Dr. Mann had ever engaged in, or participated in, directly or indirectly, any misuse of privileged or confidential information available to him in his capacity as an academic scholar. In media reports and blogs about Dr. Mann and other paleoclimatologists, those who are named in the CRU email files are purported to have been engaged in conspiratorial discussions indicative of a misuse of privileged or confidential information. Although it is not clear where the exact accusation lies in this with respect to Dr. Mann, it is inferred that the emails prove the case. Those who have formed this view feel that, in their capacity as reviewers, Dr. Mann and his colleagues had early access to manuscripts from other authors with whom they disagreed, and that they could somehow act on those to reject them for publication. Actually, when one does due diligence on this matter, and asks about what papers were involved, one finds that enormous confusion has been caused by interpretations of the emails and their content. In some cases, the discussion and related debate centered on papers that were about to emerge which members of the purported conspiracy had written, but which were simply under embargo. In other cases, the discussion and related debate centered on  papers that have emerged in otherwise notable scientific journals, which they deemed to have been published with a lower standard of scholarly and scientific scrutiny. The committee found no research misconduct in this. Science often involves different groups who have very different points of view, arguing for the intellectual dominance of their viewpoint, so that that viewpoint becomes the canonical one. We point to Kuhn2 as an authority on how science is done, before it is accepted as “settled.”

Finding 4. After careful consideration of all the evidence and relevant materials, the inquiry committee could not make a definitive finding whether there exists any evidence to substantiate that Dr. Mann did engage in, or participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities.  It is the case that there has been a public outcry from some quarters that Dr. Mann and his colleagues did deviate from what some observers claim to be standard academic practice. All disciplines and scientific fields work within broad bounds of “accepted scientific” practice that apply to all researchers. However, within different disciplines of science there are additional elements of accepted practice that may be specific to those disciplines and therefore are different from those of other disciplines and fields. For example, accepted practices in a field of pure mathematics, such as number theory, may differ markedly from those in a field such as socio-biology. This is axiomatic. That said, the committee could not make a definitive finding on this allegation for reasons that follow.

Decision 4. Given that information emerged in the form of the emails purloined from CRU in November 2009, which have raised questions in the public’s mind about Dr. Mann’s conduct of his research activity, given that this may be undermining confidence in his findings as a scientist, and given that it may be undermining public trust in science in general and climate science specifically, the inquiry committee believes an investigatory  committee of faculty peers from diverse fields should be constituted under RA-10 to further consider this allegation.

In sum, the overriding sentiment of this committee, which is composed of University administrators, is that allegation #4 revolves around the question of accepted faculty conduct surrounding scientific discourse and thus merits a review by a committee of faculty scientists. Only with such a review will the academic community and other interested parties likely feel that Penn State has discharged it responsibility on this matter.

So there is still more review that Penn State has decided to undertake in order to investigate the fourth allegation. This does not meant that the committee found evidence of wrongdoing, but that it felt it was not able to evaluate this itself.

Here is Mann’s response:

“I am very pleased that, after a thorough review, the independent Penn State committee found no evidence to support any of the allegations against me.

Three of the four allegations have been dismissed completely. Even though no evidence to substantiate the fourth allegation was found, the University administrators thought it best to convene a separate committee of distinguished scientists to resolve any remaining questions about academic procedures.

This is very much the vindication I expected since I am confident I have done nothing wrong.

I fully support the additional inquiry which may be the best way to remove any lingering doubts. I intend to cooperate fully in this matter – as I have since the beginning of the process.

I’ll be posting responses in the blogosphere and media to track how this plays out.  In the meantime, I’d like to say that I’ve always found it quite interesting that Dr. Mann has become such a lightning rod for vitriol of skeptics and deniers. I suspect that nothing will allay the concerns of these folks. They seem convinced of the rightness of their position and suspicions about Dr. Mann and no amount of evidence will convince them.
Here’s a sample of the responses so far:
~~~
Eli over at Rabett Run posted links and excerpts and his was the first blog I read on this so HT to him:
Eli wants to get this out there because Morano and Co are already in full cry about the phase two inquiry. Remind everyone that on three of the four charges McIntyre, Morano, Myron Ebell and Co were shown to be pond scum.
~~~~

In the endless – and senseless – assault on Michael Mann and his famous hockey stick graph, it is generally overlooked that the graph has withstood all of the criticism and, still today, stands as a perfectly accurate picture of climate over the past millennia.

Most convincingly, its results have been replicated by other methods, using other proxies on more than a dozen occasions.

As well, however, Mann’s conclusions were vindicated in two independent reviews, the second of which, by Edward Wegman, was particularly hostile in it conception, but ultimately exculpatory. Arie Brand covered this so well in a comment to the next post that I felt compelled to reproduce his note here, for the convenience of those who are too offended by the trolls to pick through all of the excellent comments buried among the mindless criticisms.

DeSmogBlog Contributor Brendan Demelle examines how the skeptics are already spinning this story, calling it a whitewash (how predictable!). He has a number of links to the responses so far in the media and elsewhere.
The right wing outlets who screamed bloody murder over “Climategate” just can’t seem to handle the outcome of the inquiry that found no evidence of the data tampering or interference with information requests that they hoped would emerge.  They can’t tolerate the fact that Dr. Mann was vindicated.  So they resort to spin.

Why am I not surprised?

Here’s Milloy:
CAUTION: Don’t be fooled by the Penn State media release. It gives the impression that PSU’s investigation into Mann will continue. But if you read the report, PSU has essentially already exonerated him. Moreover, PSU has changed the nature of the investigation away from Climategate being a scandal and toward Climategate being a public relations problem for global warming alarmism.
So far the most heinous is from our boy Dellingpole, who likens Mann to OJ Simpson. Here’s the headline:

Michael Mann as innocent as OJ – possibly more so – finds internal Penn State investigation

~~~~~

Over at Climate Audit, Steve McIntyre is having none of it.

Readers should understand that I have limited expectations from this sort of inquiry. What I do expect is that the authors not make untrue statements that can be easily disproven. (At least make them hard to disprove.)

Point 1. Penn State President Spanier is quoted as saying:

“I know they’ve taken the time and spent hundreds of hours studying documents and interviewing people and looking at issues from all sides,” Spanier said.

The only interviews mentioned in the report are with Gerry North and Donald Kennedy, editor of Science. What does Donald Kennedy know about the matter? These two hardly constitute “looking at issues from all sides”. They didn’t even talk to Wegman. Contrary to Spanier’s claim, they did not make the slightest effort to talk to any critic or even neutral observer. [my emphasis]

How does McIntyre know this?  Is this just more of his mind-reading psychic abilities he showed in his post on the Nature editorial and the FOI issue?

Why does his refusal to accept Penn’s finding not surprise me?  Mann is a dirty word over there — public enemy number one.

There’s more of the usual whining and drivel, but I’ll leave it to you to read the rest.

~~~~
Watching the response of skeptics, contrarians and deniers over the next few days will reveal a great deal about them and their motives and values.


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13 Responses to “Mann Exonerated”

  1. Susann,
    Regarding McIntyre’s statement that Penn State never talked to any of Mann’s critics or even neutral observers, you write:

    “How does McIntyre know this? Is this just more of his mind-reading psychic abilities he showed in his post on the Nature editorial and the FOI issue?”

    If PSU was going to talk to any critic, Steve McIntyre or Ed Wegman would have been the first on the list. They never approached AGW supporter with knowledge of the facts, like Hans von Storch or Eduardo Zorita.

    McIntyre is completely accurate. Penn State did not do a good job and their financial interests werer showing. No one should have expected a thorough investigation. One would have been a pleasant surprise but no one was really expecting it.

    Some people think Phil Jones may make a return to CRU, if there is anything left to return to, but his chances were hurt badly when the CIO said he was guilty but they couldn’t prosecute. Now that it has come out he can be prosecuted, I wonder what will happen? Have you heard?

    • They spoke to Gerald North (author of the NAS report) and Donald Kennedy. Both are knowledgable in the field.

      The ICO statement did not say Phil Jones was guilty, it claimed UEA did not follow the rules. Oddly, however, there are NO decision notices or statements from the ICO referring to this case on their homepage. None.

    • Why on earth would they speak to McIntyre? He is the last person to talk to if you want an objective review of the work, given that a great deal of his efforts have been to trash Mann and his work. A simple read at his blog tells it all. I’m not surprised that they didn’t contact him.

      North is the far more authoritative person to contact, not Wegman. Just read over at Deep Climate for a review of the Wegman report. I’m not surprised if no one contacted Wegman.

      As for Kennedy, he is an eminent scientist and administrator who was the editor-in-chief of Science and probably far more qualified to talk about scientific literature and process than McIntyre or Wegman.

  2. In a witch hun, do you talk to the accusers or others not connected to the accusations?

    If the facts are out there, the investigators should be able to find them independent of the accusers and critics. I guess there were no facts out there — just accusations unfounded on evidence.

    • Susann, completely wrong. This was not a witch hunt. This was a self-interested university turning a blind eye to facts. You should read up on Doug Keenan. As you should know, he is going after Wang and now possibly Phil Jones. He has had success before. He went after an earlier researcher (not related to AGW) and the university backed up the researcher like PSU is backing up Mann. When Keenan was done, the president of the university had to resign. Right is right and this is not right. People will not leave it alone.

      • Ron, Keenan was not involved in the Gillberg affair. Get your facts straight for once.

        And Wang’s case is already significantly different from Mann’s case in that the latter DID provide all requested documentation, and that the report WAS published.

      • Isn’t this the Keenan who went after Wang but Wang was cleared by the university?

        Pitbull. Nothing more.

  3. By the way, the title of the post – “Mann Exonerated” is a little over reaching. He is still facing a further investigation on one of the issues. The college paper has a better headline – “Panel clears three claims” http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2010/02/04/panel_clears_three_claims.aspx

    • He was exonerated on three charges that the committee was able to investigate, so my headline stands.

      When the next allegation is reviewed and a finding is reported, then I’ll issue another post stating that he was exonerated on it.

  4. Susann, you omitted the sentence in McIntyre’s post that said:

    “Since they are required to provide a transcript or summary of all interviews, I presume that the Inquiry did not carry out any other interviews.”

    Are you a liar or a failure at reading comprehension?

    • As Eli said below, there was no formal complaint and the university didn’t have to undertake an inquiry so what they did was voluntary and beyond the call of duty.

      The committee used a wide variety of sources — the CRU emails, “other communications”, journal articles, editorials, blogs, as well as interviews with Mann, North and Kennedy. The report did not include transcripts or attachments showing all the evidence used — it provided only a cursory reference to the sources used so McIntyre, like the rest of us, has no real idea what exactly was used to conduct the inquiry.

      McIntyre’s rejection of the report is predictable, given his attitude and numerous attacks and innuendos aimed at Mann and his work. One has to wonder about what is involved in being an objective auditor. Are there any guidelines about how that role should be carried out? Any policies? Any ethics?

      McIntyre claims “Contrary to Spanier’s claim, they did not make the slightest effort to talk to any critic or even neutral observer.”

      Oh, they didn’t phone him? The Great Puzzer, and ask for his expert advice on Mann?

      McIntyre is just about the last person to be questioned about Mann given how much of his blog and efforts are all about raising innuendo about him and his research.

      I’m sure they had more than enough information to make a much more thorough and objective review of the evidence than has been done on McI’s blog.

  5. McIntyre and all of the other whiners could have had standing if he had actually placed a formal complaint. Since no one did, but there were huge amounts of whining, Penn State went the extra mile, and instituted an inquiry on its own. Formally, since there was no complaint, there should have been no inquiry.

    Since the inquiry has taken place, they have no standing to try and force another one. Toot sweet.

  6. Summing it up, the only folks who believe Dr. Mann engaged in any wrongdoing are those who do not like the results of his research. The fact is, the stolen emails reveal much more problems with the integrity of the accusers than that of Dr. Mann.

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