What’s it like to be climate scientist Michael Mann? Think bounty (not the good kind)

Renowned climate scientist Michael Mann was at UCLA and the Emmett Center today to give a talk promoting his soon-to-be-released book, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines.”  Mann, who has been called “one of the most vilified men in the highly vilified field of climate science,” created the famed “hockey stick” long-term temperature graph and was a central figure in the 2009 email hacking scandal.  He has withstood personal attacks, email thefts, endless FOIA requests, and years-long campaigns by governmental authorities (including U.S. House Rep. Joe Barton and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli) to subpoena all his files as part of a broader crusade against the scientific basis of global warming.

Given his history, Mann gave a talk that was downright mild-mannered and, in places, even cheerful. He laid out a straightforward case for the consensus view of scientists on warming; told anecdotes about his tribulations that highlighted the many people and institutions that have come to his defense; and ended with an affirmation of potential policy solutions.  He struck none of the notes of outrage or bitterness that others in his position might have resorted to.

We did, however, get the smallest of glimpses of what it must be like to be besieged in the way he has been: The folks over at junkscience.org posted about our talk today and offered a $500 bounty for a video of someone at the event asking Mann a question “debunking” his views.  No winners, as far as I know.

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Reader Comments

40 Replies to “What’s it like to be climate scientist Michael Mann? Think bounty (not the good kind)”

  1. We have had to supply police protection for speeches by climate scientists. It’s a sad reflection on the state of affairs when scientists risk harm because of their views.

  2. We have had to supply police protection for speeches by climate scientists. It’s a sad reflection on the state of affairs when scientists risk harm because of their views.

  3. You have to wonder why he isn’t asked questions debunking his views. Maybe because he doesn’t allow them to be asked? He carefully screens the questions so he has to answer softball questions. After his speeches he doesn’t throw the floor open for questions but answers written ones. That way he only answers questions that he wants to answer.

  4. You have to wonder why he isn’t asked questions debunking his views. Maybe because he doesn’t allow them to be asked? He carefully screens the questions so he has to answer softball questions. After his speeches he doesn’t throw the floor open for questions but answers written ones. That way he only answers questions that he wants to answer.

  5. John, his refusal to countenance questions from denialists is obvious: any question attempting to debunk his claims is necessarily predicated on false assumptions. Mr. Mann’s claims have been through the wringer of scientific peer review, as well as plenty of very close scrutiny by others. Some years ago, they did find a tiny flaw in his analysis. He corrected the flaw, which did not affect his end results.

    The arguments raised by denialists have been thoroughly and utterly refuted at every turn; yet they simply keep repeating them mindlessly. I spent years on blogs carefully explaining the science at work, thinking naively that a simple, clear explanation would satisfy them. Instead, they simply ignore the scientific explanations and keep repeating their false claims. I have lost patience with denialists. However, I remain open to explaining the science to any genuine skeptic — that is, somebody whose mind is open to explanations. Denialists are another matter entirely: they have made up their minds and no amount of science will change them.

  6. John, his refusal to countenance questions from denialists is obvious: any question attempting to debunk his claims is necessarily predicated on false assumptions. Mr. Mann’s claims have been through the wringer of scientific peer review, as well as plenty of very close scrutiny by others. Some years ago, they did find a tiny flaw in his analysis. He corrected the flaw, which did not affect his end results.

    The arguments raised by denialists have been thoroughly and utterly refuted at every turn; yet they simply keep repeating them mindlessly. I spent years on blogs carefully explaining the science at work, thinking naively that a simple, clear explanation would satisfy them. Instead, they simply ignore the scientific explanations and keep repeating their false claims. I have lost patience with denialists. However, I remain open to explaining the science to any genuine skeptic — that is, somebody whose mind is open to explanations. Denialists are another matter entirely: they have made up their minds and no amount of science will change them.

  7. Penn State DID NOT do a serious investigations on Micheal Mann after the Climategate scandal broke. They did an IN HOUSE investigation. In house investigations of this sort are done so you can SAY you did an investigation but you have a foregone conclusion in that you did nothing wrong. Penn State investigated itself in clearing Mann. Are they going to pronounce themselves guilty? Would you have accepted an investigation by a huge corporation on itself? Why accept it from a university? They too are effected by funding and have a vested interest. If they were SERIOUS they would have had an outside independent investigation done by real professionals. He complains about FOIA requests. Simple solution post EVERYTHING on an Internet site. That is the raw data, the programs he uses and the reasoning’s behind it. This could be done once a week or so by a student for work study. He can then point to the site and not have to worry about it because everything would be right there.

  8. Penn State DID NOT do a serious investigations on Micheal Mann after the Climategate scandal broke. They did an IN HOUSE investigation. In house investigations of this sort are done so you can SAY you did an investigation but you have a foregone conclusion in that you did nothing wrong. Penn State investigated itself in clearing Mann. Are they going to pronounce themselves guilty? Would you have accepted an investigation by a huge corporation on itself? Why accept it from a university? They too are effected by funding and have a vested interest. If they were SERIOUS they would have had an outside independent investigation done by real professionals. He complains about FOIA requests. Simple solution post EVERYTHING on an Internet site. That is the raw data, the programs he uses and the reasoning’s behind it. This could be done once a week or so by a student for work study. He can then point to the site and not have to worry about it because everything would be right there.

  9. I have not seen the current, “…downright mild-mannered and, in places, even cheerful” Dr. Mann. I do know that he has been emitting massive amounts of CO2 globetrotting around the planet on his book tour, and from the authors description he sounds like any other person who acts nice when he’s trying to sell you something, like a book perhaps. Would you expect him to be anything but charming? A book tour is nothing more than a PR campaign and no one should be naive enough to believe that such self-promotion is reality. It is all scripted like a Hollywood Movie.

    IMO, a much better way to determine the true character of someone is to read their diary. We don’t have Dr. Mann’s diary but we have something close, the CG2 emails which provide a 10+ year look at the man in his own words and the words of other scientists and peripheral people in his life. That is what I read and while he is not Genghis Kahn, he certainly isn’t little miss goody two shoes. There are several instances where Dr. Mann is not “downright mild-mannered and, in places, even cheerful” and in some instances he threatened to retaliate against those that disagreed with him or that criticised his tree ring reconstruction. To me, the headwinds that Dr. Mann faces today are just a case of him reaping what he sewed, a matter of Karmic balance.

    In the end none of it matters as science goes on with or without him. There are numerous new reconstructions of historical temperature records using newer proxy methodology than what Dr. Mann used and that do not agree with Dr. Mann’s reconstruction. It will all eventually sort itself out.

  10. I have not seen the current, “…downright mild-mannered and, in places, even cheerful” Dr. Mann. I do know that he has been emitting massive amounts of CO2 globetrotting around the planet on his book tour, and from the authors description he sounds like any other person who acts nice when he’s trying to sell you something, like a book perhaps. Would you expect him to be anything but charming? A book tour is nothing more than a PR campaign and no one should be naive enough to believe that such self-promotion is reality. It is all scripted like a Hollywood Movie.

    IMO, a much better way to determine the true character of someone is to read their diary. We don’t have Dr. Mann’s diary but we have something close, the CG2 emails which provide a 10+ year look at the man in his own words and the words of other scientists and peripheral people in his life. That is what I read and while he is not Genghis Kahn, he certainly isn’t little miss goody two shoes. There are several instances where Dr. Mann is not “downright mild-mannered and, in places, even cheerful” and in some instances he threatened to retaliate against those that disagreed with him or that criticised his tree ring reconstruction. To me, the headwinds that Dr. Mann faces today are just a case of him reaping what he sewed, a matter of Karmic balance.

    In the end none of it matters as science goes on with or without him. There are numerous new reconstructions of historical temperature records using newer proxy methodology than what Dr. Mann used and that do not agree with Dr. Mann’s reconstruction. It will all eventually sort itself out.

  11. John, there were at least four separate investigations of the ClimateGate emails, and every one of them exonerated the parties of all wrongdoing. Your dismissal of the Penn State investigation is based upon your own suspicions, not any actual evidence. And in fact the evidence that we do have exonerates Mr. Mann of any wrongdoing.

    Mr. Mann has several excellent reasons for resisting the FOIA “fishing expedition” requests. First, some of that material is personal in nature; although nowadays most people in sensitive positions are careful to separate their business communications from their personal communications, that is a recent development and we can be certain that Mr. Mann’s personal communications are mixed in with the professional communications.

    Second, science is nowhere near as neat a process as most non-scientists think. The initial efforts are full of trial and error, with mostly error. Suppose that opposing attorneys in a litigation were able to subpoena recordings of every conversation engaged in by their opponents, including conversations over meals and in the bathroom. Suppose further that they would be free to cherry-pick quotes taken out of context and publish those on the web. Do you believe that this would improve our justice system? I don’t.

    Scientists should be free to shoot the breeze with each other without fear of hearing a distorted version of what they say coming out of Glenn Beck’s mouth. Indeed, I would suggest that privacy is a universal desideratum, something to be intruded into only when there are serious reasons for doing so. That’s why we have things like subpoenas and search warrants: the government is not allowed to go snooping around without an independent judge approving the specifics of their search.

    One could counter argue that a scientist’s work is public property if it is paid for by the public. This is correct — but it applies only to the scientist’s OUTPUT — the results of their efforts. The public does not own a scientist’s thoughts or personal communications — just their results.

    Sundance, I too have read the climate gate emails and I believe that you are grossly misrepresenting Mr. Mann’s demeanor. Yes, on two occasions he revealed some anger at the abuses he was suffering. But there were far more instances of his dealing with difficulties in a pleasant and accommodating tone. You are cherry-picking your data.

  12. John, there were at least four separate investigations of the ClimateGate emails, and every one of them exonerated the parties of all wrongdoing. Your dismissal of the Penn State investigation is based upon your own suspicions, not any actual evidence. And in fact the evidence that we do have exonerates Mr. Mann of any wrongdoing.

    Mr. Mann has several excellent reasons for resisting the FOIA “fishing expedition” requests. First, some of that material is personal in nature; although nowadays most people in sensitive positions are careful to separate their business communications from their personal communications, that is a recent development and we can be certain that Mr. Mann’s personal communications are mixed in with the professional communications.

    Second, science is nowhere near as neat a process as most non-scientists think. The initial efforts are full of trial and error, with mostly error. Suppose that opposing attorneys in a litigation were able to subpoena recordings of every conversation engaged in by their opponents, including conversations over meals and in the bathroom. Suppose further that they would be free to cherry-pick quotes taken out of context and publish those on the web. Do you believe that this would improve our justice system? I don’t.

    Scientists should be free to shoot the breeze with each other without fear of hearing a distorted version of what they say coming out of Glenn Beck’s mouth. Indeed, I would suggest that privacy is a universal desideratum, something to be intruded into only when there are serious reasons for doing so. That’s why we have things like subpoenas and search warrants: the government is not allowed to go snooping around without an independent judge approving the specifics of their search.

    One could counter argue that a scientist’s work is public property if it is paid for by the public. This is correct — but it applies only to the scientist’s OUTPUT — the results of their efforts. The public does not own a scientist’s thoughts or personal communications — just their results.

    Sundance, I too have read the climate gate emails and I believe that you are grossly misrepresenting Mr. Mann’s demeanor. Yes, on two occasions he revealed some anger at the abuses he was suffering. But there were far more instances of his dealing with difficulties in a pleasant and accommodating tone. You are cherry-picking your data.

  13. My main concerns are raw data, the computer programs he uses and the reasoning behind them. I am suspicous of Penn State as I would be of ANY INSTITUTION that investigates itself. Inhouse investigations are conducted to clear the institution of any wrongdoing at best. At worst they are to find any evidence of wrong doing and get rid of them.

  14. My main concerns are raw data, the computer programs he uses and the reasoning behind them. I am suspicous of Penn State as I would be of ANY INSTITUTION that investigates itself. Inhouse investigations are conducted to clear the institution of any wrongdoing at best. At worst they are to find any evidence of wrong doing and get rid of them.

  15. First, I think you are being overly dismissive of in-house investigations. The purpose of an in-house investigation is not necessarily to whitewash any wrongdoing; in many cases, the institution in question wants to make absolutely certain that nothing like the triggering event ever happens again. If the institution in question values its reputation, then its internal investigation will be aggressive. The advantage of an in-house investigation is that it can access information that the institution does not wish to make public; this can be personnel information, trade secrets, or military secrets. The other reason for an in-house investigation is that it usually enjoys greater candidness from its witnesses. Thus, when the issue at hand relies heavily on personal testimony, an in-house investigation often gets closer to the truth than an independent investigation.

    As to the raw data and the computer software, there’s a bit of a personal irony for me. Today I’m working on some code that I’ll soon be releasing to others. Much of the code is clean, but there are some places where it’s a complete mess, and I’m trying to both clean it up and document it properly. It’s a huge, ugly job that I’ve been putting off for months, because I have other tasks that require my attention. Preparing code for others to peruse is a big, ugly, time-consuming task, and I can sympathize with ANYBODY who’s reluctant to release their code.

    As to raw data, I can offer another personal anecdote. About 12 years ago I participated in a scientific project that generated about ten terabytes of data. The raw data is a mess: there are gaps in the data, mislabeled portions, overlaps, and all manner of other infelicities. For years nobody would touch the data because it was such a mess. About two years ago I sat down and went to work with it. It took about five months to sort through the mess, clean up overlaps, and assemble it all into a dataset that somebody else could use. In many cases I was able to resolve ambiguities only because I happened to have been there and I recalled some detail that cleared up the mystery. In one case I had to email another participant with a query.

    Fortunately this field of research is so obscure that nobody cares about it, but if there were a pack of wolves baying for my blood, nipping at every slip I made, I’d keep the raw data hidden, too. I’d be damn sure to consult with the other scientists in the project to make certain that my assumptions and approximations were correct, but I’d never release the raw data to a hostile crowd, because they would pore over every byte of that data, looking for any weakness, and they’d pepper me with a thousand questions, demanding that I justify every single decision I took during the analysis effort. I didn’t have enough time to carry out every analytic technique I wanted to try; I certainly don’t have time to answer a pack of wolves who really don’t give a damn about the science, but instead seek only to discredit me.

    If, on the other hand, a genuine scientist approached me with a request for anything from my analysis, I would happily spend as much time as it took to satisfy his needs. I certainly want to advance science; I don’t want to waste my time with a bunch of politically motivated charlatans.

  16. First, I think you are being overly dismissive of in-house investigations. The purpose of an in-house investigation is not necessarily to whitewash any wrongdoing; in many cases, the institution in question wants to make absolutely certain that nothing like the triggering event ever happens again. If the institution in question values its reputation, then its internal investigation will be aggressive. The advantage of an in-house investigation is that it can access information that the institution does not wish to make public; this can be personnel information, trade secrets, or military secrets. The other reason for an in-house investigation is that it usually enjoys greater candidness from its witnesses. Thus, when the issue at hand relies heavily on personal testimony, an in-house investigation often gets closer to the truth than an independent investigation.

    As to the raw data and the computer software, there’s a bit of a personal irony for me. Today I’m working on some code that I’ll soon be releasing to others. Much of the code is clean, but there are some places where it’s a complete mess, and I’m trying to both clean it up and document it properly. It’s a huge, ugly job that I’ve been putting off for months, because I have other tasks that require my attention. Preparing code for others to peruse is a big, ugly, time-consuming task, and I can sympathize with ANYBODY who’s reluctant to release their code.

    As to raw data, I can offer another personal anecdote. About 12 years ago I participated in a scientific project that generated about ten terabytes of data. The raw data is a mess: there are gaps in the data, mislabeled portions, overlaps, and all manner of other infelicities. For years nobody would touch the data because it was such a mess. About two years ago I sat down and went to work with it. It took about five months to sort through the mess, clean up overlaps, and assemble it all into a dataset that somebody else could use. In many cases I was able to resolve ambiguities only because I happened to have been there and I recalled some detail that cleared up the mystery. In one case I had to email another participant with a query.

    Fortunately this field of research is so obscure that nobody cares about it, but if there were a pack of wolves baying for my blood, nipping at every slip I made, I’d keep the raw data hidden, too. I’d be damn sure to consult with the other scientists in the project to make certain that my assumptions and approximations were correct, but I’d never release the raw data to a hostile crowd, because they would pore over every byte of that data, looking for any weakness, and they’d pepper me with a thousand questions, demanding that I justify every single decision I took during the analysis effort. I didn’t have enough time to carry out every analytic technique I wanted to try; I certainly don’t have time to answer a pack of wolves who really don’t give a damn about the science, but instead seek only to discredit me.

    If, on the other hand, a genuine scientist approached me with a request for anything from my analysis, I would happily spend as much time as it took to satisfy his needs. I certainly want to advance science; I don’t want to waste my time with a bunch of politically motivated charlatans.

  17. Internal investigations are typically whitewashes, PERIOD. If they find anything else they may tell the people inside QUITELY and verbally while any documentation to the outside will show no problems, That is how they are done. I guarantee Penn State will reveal NOTHING that might jeopardize the millions of dollars they get from the AGW gravy train!!!

    I realize that programming can be a big, ugly. time consuming task. Nevertheless when you work on the public dime with millions of dollars of funding and you are asking for policies that run into the hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars making it available is part of the job. If you don’t want the hassle don’t take public funds and don’t try to re-order society based on it and just expect everyone to trust you.

    If you are taking public funds and trying to re-order the entire society based on your research you better make sure the raw data is clean. How can ANYONE replicate your research if you withhold raw data? Again this is part of the job. You can’t expect everyone to just trust you and take your word for it if it means a disruption of their lives. If it were a matter of minimal importance it wouldn’t matter so much but if you want major changes in society the bar is raised higher. You can’t expect people to change their behavior just on your word.

  18. Internal investigations are typically whitewashes, PERIOD. If they find anything else they may tell the people inside QUITELY and verbally while any documentation to the outside will show no problems, That is how they are done. I guarantee Penn State will reveal NOTHING that might jeopardize the millions of dollars they get from the AGW gravy train!!!

    I realize that programming can be a big, ugly. time consuming task. Nevertheless when you work on the public dime with millions of dollars of funding and you are asking for policies that run into the hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars making it available is part of the job. If you don’t want the hassle don’t take public funds and don’t try to re-order society based on it and just expect everyone to trust you.

    If you are taking public funds and trying to re-order the entire society based on your research you better make sure the raw data is clean. How can ANYONE replicate your research if you withhold raw data? Again this is part of the job. You can’t expect everyone to just trust you and take your word for it if it means a disruption of their lives. If it were a matter of minimal importance it wouldn’t matter so much but if you want major changes in society the bar is raised higher. You can’t expect people to change their behavior just on your word.

  19. After carefully considering the comments above and the overall direction of this climate debacle, we can be satisfied with our progress in exposing the truth and reversing the broad political support that climate activists used to enjoy. The general public and ordinary citizens now understand that our global climate is stable and not as dangerous as they had previously been told, and for this we can be thankful. Smile, rejoice and let’s share our happiness with others. Climate can be a lot of fun when we let go of our petty fears and learn to enjoy it. Have a Happy Climate Day.

  20. After carefully considering the comments above and the overall direction of this climate debacle, we can be satisfied with our progress in exposing the truth and reversing the broad political support that climate activists used to enjoy. The general public and ordinary citizens now understand that our global climate is stable and not as dangerous as they had previously been told, and for this we can be thankful. Smile, rejoice and let’s share our happiness with others. Climate can be a lot of fun when we let go of our petty fears and learn to enjoy it. Have a Happy Climate Day.

  21. John, I think that the dogmatism of your attitude towards internal investigations is the best evidence against it (your attitude). And no, when you accept public money, you do not automatically accept a responsibility to jump to the call of any and every nitwit with a crackpot theory. Your performance in a science grant is evaluated by the community of scientists in general and the granting agency in particular. If your results are received favorably, if they are often cited by others, then you are considered to have a good job. If instead you wasted your time dancing to the tune of non-scientists, then you won’t accomplish much and you’ll lose funding. The ultimate task of a scientist is to produce science — science as defined by the community of actual scientists, not science as defined by a bunch of politically motivated shysters.

    In the specific case of Mr. Mann, he never generated any raw data: his contribution is a methodology for assembling data he obtained from other scientists. If you want his raw data, go to the sources he cites in his papers. You HAVE read his papers, haven’t you?

    bqrq, you’re welcome to draw your own conclusions, but the political leaders in most countries are more interested in the conclusions of the people who have actually studied the problem.

  22. John, I think that the dogmatism of your attitude towards internal investigations is the best evidence against it (your attitude). And no, when you accept public money, you do not automatically accept a responsibility to jump to the call of any and every nitwit with a crackpot theory. Your performance in a science grant is evaluated by the community of scientists in general and the granting agency in particular. If your results are received favorably, if they are often cited by others, then you are considered to have a good job. If instead you wasted your time dancing to the tune of non-scientists, then you won’t accomplish much and you’ll lose funding. The ultimate task of a scientist is to produce science — science as defined by the community of actual scientists, not science as defined by a bunch of politically motivated shysters.

    In the specific case of Mr. Mann, he never generated any raw data: his contribution is a methodology for assembling data he obtained from other scientists. If you want his raw data, go to the sources he cites in his papers. You HAVE read his papers, haven’t you?

    bqrq, you’re welcome to draw your own conclusions, but the political leaders in most countries are more interested in the conclusions of the people who have actually studied the problem.

  23. @ Chris Crawford

    I presented no data in my comment, and I’m not sure what you are accusng me of “cherry picking”. Your standards of behavior seem to be lower than my standards of behavior and that may be why we end up with different interpretations of Dr. Manns behavior. I found far more than two instances of questionable behavior in CG1 and CG2 and that is probably another reason we see things differently. I make no assumptions or complaints about your comments because I don’t presume to know how you process information and I don’t presume to know what and how you should think. If you are rational you will be able to understand that you are incapable of knowing what and how Ithink and hoe I arrived at my conclusions about Dr. Mann. If you think you do know, then you are projecting and allowing your imagination to override objective thought. Let me be clear; your beliefs about my interpretation of what I read are your fantasy not reality.

    So while you give Dr. Mann a pass, and I’m OK with that because I don’t presume to know your reasoning process and level of behavioral standards, based on my standards and my perceptions, he does not get a pass. You have stated your feelings and I have stated mine. Your opinion holds no more value than mine and I am happy with that and hope you can be happy with that too. If you have a problem with my opinion again let me be clear it is YOUR problem YOUR fantasy.

  24. @ Chris Crawford

    I presented no data in my comment, and I’m not sure what you are accusng me of “cherry picking”. Your standards of behavior seem to be lower than my standards of behavior and that may be why we end up with different interpretations of Dr. Manns behavior. I found far more than two instances of questionable behavior in CG1 and CG2 and that is probably another reason we see things differently. I make no assumptions or complaints about your comments because I don’t presume to know how you process information and I don’t presume to know what and how you should think. If you are rational you will be able to understand that you are incapable of knowing what and how Ithink and hoe I arrived at my conclusions about Dr. Mann. If you think you do know, then you are projecting and allowing your imagination to override objective thought. Let me be clear; your beliefs about my interpretation of what I read are your fantasy not reality.

    So while you give Dr. Mann a pass, and I’m OK with that because I don’t presume to know your reasoning process and level of behavioral standards, based on my standards and my perceptions, he does not get a pass. You have stated your feelings and I have stated mine. Your opinion holds no more value than mine and I am happy with that and hope you can be happy with that too. If you have a problem with my opinion again let me be clear it is YOUR problem YOUR fantasy.

  25. Sundance, the data to which I was referring was your citation of “several instances” in which Mr. Mann was rude about somebody else. I’ve read those. But I’ve read many if not all of Mr. Mann’s stolen emails, and when I look at the entirety of the evidence, I see a working scientist who is generally upbeat and cooperative. Yes, he got mad a couple of times. Can you say that you’ve never voiced irritation about anybody in the last ten years?

    I cannot fathom what you are referring to when you accuse me of engaging in some sort of fantasy about your thinking. I really don’t care what you think, I was responding to what you wrote.

    In any case, don’t you think that arguing over the question of whether Mr. Mann is a nice guy seems a waste of time?

  26. Sundance, the data to which I was referring was your citation of “several instances” in which Mr. Mann was rude about somebody else. I’ve read those. But I’ve read many if not all of Mr. Mann’s stolen emails, and when I look at the entirety of the evidence, I see a working scientist who is generally upbeat and cooperative. Yes, he got mad a couple of times. Can you say that you’ve never voiced irritation about anybody in the last ten years?

    I cannot fathom what you are referring to when you accuse me of engaging in some sort of fantasy about your thinking. I really don’t care what you think, I was responding to what you wrote.

    In any case, don’t you think that arguing over the question of whether Mr. Mann is a nice guy seems a waste of time?

  27. >John, I think that the dogmatism of your attitude towards internal investigations is the best evidence against it (your attitude). And no, when you accept public money, you do not automatically accept a responsibility to jump to the call of any and every nitwit with a crackpot theory

    Can you give ANY REASON why a university or any other institution would air their dirty laundry in public when it is in their best interest to hush it up? Would you have been satisfied if Exon did its own investigation on the oil spill in Alaska? What about Enron doing its own investigation that it was cooking the books? What about the CIA doing its own investigation into its backing of various dictators during the Cold War? These are no different than Penn State doing its own investigation on its own misdeeds. There is a MASSIVE conflict of interest!!

    >And no, when you accept public money, you do not automatically accept a responsibility to jump to the call of any and every nitwit with a crackpot theory.

    I am not asking them to, just to publish ALL their information.They can do so on an internet site then they don’t have to jump to anybody. You want wholesale changes in people’s lifestyles and government you better PROVE that it is worth the cost. You can’t base policies costing hundreds of billions of dollars on trust.

  28. >John, I think that the dogmatism of your attitude towards internal investigations is the best evidence against it (your attitude). And no, when you accept public money, you do not automatically accept a responsibility to jump to the call of any and every nitwit with a crackpot theory

    Can you give ANY REASON why a university or any other institution would air their dirty laundry in public when it is in their best interest to hush it up? Would you have been satisfied if Exon did its own investigation on the oil spill in Alaska? What about Enron doing its own investigation that it was cooking the books? What about the CIA doing its own investigation into its backing of various dictators during the Cold War? These are no different than Penn State doing its own investigation on its own misdeeds. There is a MASSIVE conflict of interest!!

    >And no, when you accept public money, you do not automatically accept a responsibility to jump to the call of any and every nitwit with a crackpot theory.

    I am not asking them to, just to publish ALL their information.They can do so on an internet site then they don’t have to jump to anybody. You want wholesale changes in people’s lifestyles and government you better PROVE that it is worth the cost. You can’t base policies costing hundreds of billions of dollars on trust.

  29. John, I can give an excellent reason for an institution to carry out an internal investigation: to determine the nature of the wrongdoing and demonstrate to the world that they have dealt properly with the problem. Reasonable people will read the report of the investigation and determine whether it makes sense. Unreasonable people will refuse to read the report and dismiss it out of hand as a whitewash.

    You want them to publish ALL their information. As I explained earlier, ALL the data a scientist possesses constitutes a huge pile that makes no sense. A scientist could publish a bunch of files with titles like “arfm102a” containing lots of numbers, but without explaining it and organizing all the data in a neat way, it’s just GIGO. The point I am making is that preparing data for other’s perusal is a huge job that takes a scientist away from their real task: doing science.

    And by the way, scientists already have a reliable system for determining the veracity of somebody’s work: they ask for what they need to verify it to their own satisfaction. Scientists realize that they’re placing a burden on others when they ask for internal details, so when they make a request, they explain exactly what they want to do with the information; this helps minimize the amount of work required. When somebody sends a request along the lines of “Send me everything you’ve got because I want to nose around in it to discredit you” a scientist is perfectly justified in telling them to go jump in the lake. Real science is done with all the disclosure that scientists need. The fact that it isn’t enough for know-nothings is the problem of the know-nothings.

    You reveal the political (as opposed to scientific) nature of your interest when you write:

    “You want wholesale changes in people’s lifestyles and government you better PROVE that it is worth the cost. You can’t base policies costing hundreds of billions of dollars on trust.”

    The work of science is to determine the truth, not affect policy. Scientists, like any other citizen, are entitled to their political opinions, but what’s at issue here is not the political opinions of the scientists but the science itself. There’s a huge community of scientists out there evaluating all the evidence regarding climate change and they have come to a solid conclusion that this is definitely happening and it will definitely pose a threat to our well-being. Reasonable people start with the facts as established by the best experts, then proceed to determine policy based on those facts. Ideologues start with their preferred policies and work backwards to draw the scientific conclusions that satisfy their political preferences.

    Lastly, deferring action on climate change is a policy that will cost us trillions of dollars. There’s no lazy man’s way around this problem: if we act too aggressively, then we waste money. If we act with insufficient energy, then we waste money, too. In politics, you never wait until you have proof; you act on the best available information. Mr. Bush had no proof that Mr. Hussein possessed WMD, but that didn’t stop him from invading Iraq, a decision that has cost the USA well over a trillion dollars so far.

  30. John, I can give an excellent reason for an institution to carry out an internal investigation: to determine the nature of the wrongdoing and demonstrate to the world that they have dealt properly with the problem. Reasonable people will read the report of the investigation and determine whether it makes sense. Unreasonable people will refuse to read the report and dismiss it out of hand as a whitewash.

    You want them to publish ALL their information. As I explained earlier, ALL the data a scientist possesses constitutes a huge pile that makes no sense. A scientist could publish a bunch of files with titles like “arfm102a” containing lots of numbers, but without explaining it and organizing all the data in a neat way, it’s just GIGO. The point I am making is that preparing data for other’s perusal is a huge job that takes a scientist away from their real task: doing science.

    And by the way, scientists already have a reliable system for determining the veracity of somebody’s work: they ask for what they need to verify it to their own satisfaction. Scientists realize that they’re placing a burden on others when they ask for internal details, so when they make a request, they explain exactly what they want to do with the information; this helps minimize the amount of work required. When somebody sends a request along the lines of “Send me everything you’ve got because I want to nose around in it to discredit you” a scientist is perfectly justified in telling them to go jump in the lake. Real science is done with all the disclosure that scientists need. The fact that it isn’t enough for know-nothings is the problem of the know-nothings.

    You reveal the political (as opposed to scientific) nature of your interest when you write:

    “You want wholesale changes in people’s lifestyles and government you better PROVE that it is worth the cost. You can’t base policies costing hundreds of billions of dollars on trust.”

    The work of science is to determine the truth, not affect policy. Scientists, like any other citizen, are entitled to their political opinions, but what’s at issue here is not the political opinions of the scientists but the science itself. There’s a huge community of scientists out there evaluating all the evidence regarding climate change and they have come to a solid conclusion that this is definitely happening and it will definitely pose a threat to our well-being. Reasonable people start with the facts as established by the best experts, then proceed to determine policy based on those facts. Ideologues start with their preferred policies and work backwards to draw the scientific conclusions that satisfy their political preferences.

    Lastly, deferring action on climate change is a policy that will cost us trillions of dollars. There’s no lazy man’s way around this problem: if we act too aggressively, then we waste money. If we act with insufficient energy, then we waste money, too. In politics, you never wait until you have proof; you act on the best available information. Mr. Bush had no proof that Mr. Hussein possessed WMD, but that didn’t stop him from invading Iraq, a decision that has cost the USA well over a trillion dollars so far.

  31. The biggest problem is there was a number of suspicious things right from the start. Saying the debate was over before it really started was one big red flag to me. The debate is over when people are no longer interested in discussing it, not when some politician tells them it is. Changing it from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change” was another big flag. The climate on this planet has been changing for 5 billion years so you have to define what the change is otherwise it’s “Tails I win, Heads you lose”. They stopped calling it Global Warming at the same time the planet stopped warming. The fact that the Penn State investigation was internal was another big red flag. If you really are innocent and you really want to clear yourself you need to call for an outside investigation so you aren’t accused of whitewashing it. Trying to censor information by calling their opponents all sorts of names and making all sorts of accusations . Micheal Mann is complaining about hate mail and death threats? He didn’t say anything when it happened to his opponents or even doing so now. It is fine when they get hate mail but now when the shoe is on the other foot…

    Whether you like it or not policy is not going to change much unless you can convince the majority in the country that it is worth the price they will be paying. Belief in AGW is dropping like a stone and that won’t change as long as the data isn’t transparent and easy to get to and there is a real and honest debate about it with no trying to shut the other guy up with heated rhetoric.That problem now is on BOTH sides. If Mann is right we wasted a decade because it wasn’t done right the first time. If Mann needs a few months or years to get his data in order that is what he has to do. Now is the best time to start that. The earlier we have an honest debate with transparent research the earlier we can determine which policies need to be changed, if any. This can’t be done if the public thinks there is a cover up at Penn State and the CRU or that Global Warmists are trying to shut up critics. Politicians will not be re-elected if the public thinks their policies are based on fraud. Because of this there will be no meaningful changes unless this is done. There are VERY few politicians willing to commit political suicide. The biggest problem is there was a number of suspicious things right from the start. Saying the debate was over before it really started was one big red flag to me. The debate is over when people are no longer interested in discussing it, not when some politician tells them it is. Changing it from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change” was another big flag. The climate on this planet has been changing for 5 billion years so you have to define what the change is otherwise it’s “Tails I win, Heads you lose”. They stopped calling it Global Warming at the same time the planet stopped warming. The fact that the Penn State investigation was internal was another big red flag. If you really are innocent and you really want to clear yourself you need to call for an outside investigation so you aren’t accused of whitewashing it. Trying to censor information by calling their opponents all sorts of names and making all sorts of accusations . Micheal Mann is complaining about hate mail and death threats? He didn’t say anything when it happened to his opponents or even doing so now. It is fine when they get hate mail but now when the shoe is on the other foot…

    Whether you like it or not policy is not going to change much unless you can convince the majority in the country that it is worth the price they will be paying. Belief in AGW is dropping like a stone and that won’t change as long as the data isn’t transparent and easy to get to and there is a real and honest debate about it with no trying to shut the other guy up with heated rhetoric.That problem now is on BOTH sides. If Mann is right we wasted a decade because it wasn’t done right the first time. If Mann needs a few months or years to get his data in order that is what he has to do. Now is the best time to start that. The earlier we have an honest debate with transparent research the earlier we can determine which policies need to be changed, if any. This can’t be done if the public thinks there is a cover up at Penn State and the CRU or that Global Warmists are trying to shut up critics. Politicians will not be re-elected if the public thinks their policies are based on fraud. Because of this there will be no meaningful changes unless this is done. There are VERY few politicians willing to commit political suicide.

  32. The biggest problem is there was a number of suspicious things right from the start. Saying the debate was over before it really started was one big red flag to me. The debate is over when people are no longer interested in discussing it, not when some politician tells them it is. Changing it from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change” was another big flag. The climate on this planet has been changing for 5 billion years so you have to define what the change is otherwise it’s “Tails I win, Heads you lose”. They stopped calling it Global Warming at the same time the planet stopped warming. The fact that the Penn State investigation was internal was another big red flag. If you really are innocent and you really want to clear yourself you need to call for an outside investigation so you aren’t accused of whitewashing it. Trying to censor information by calling their opponents all sorts of names and making all sorts of accusations . Micheal Mann is complaining about hate mail and death threats? He didn’t say anything when it happened to his opponents or even doing so now. It is fine when they get hate mail but now when the shoe is on the other foot…

    Whether you like it or not policy is not going to change much unless you can convince the majority in the country that it is worth the price they will be paying. Belief in AGW is dropping like a stone and that won’t change as long as the data isn’t transparent and easy to get to and there is a real and honest debate about it with no trying to shut the other guy up with heated rhetoric.That problem now is on BOTH sides. If Mann is right we wasted a decade because it wasn’t done right the first time. If Mann needs a few months or years to get his data in order that is what he has to do. Now is the best time to start that. The earlier we have an honest debate with transparent research the earlier we can determine which policies need to be changed, if any. This can’t be done if the public thinks there is a cover up at Penn State and the CRU or that Global Warmists are trying to shut up critics. Politicians will not be re-elected if the public thinks their policies are based on fraud. Because of this there will be no meaningful changes unless this is done. There are VERY few politicians willing to commit political suicide. The biggest problem is there was a number of suspicious things right from the start. Saying the debate was over before it really started was one big red flag to me. The debate is over when people are no longer interested in discussing it, not when some politician tells them it is. Changing it from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change” was another big flag. The climate on this planet has been changing for 5 billion years so you have to define what the change is otherwise it’s “Tails I win, Heads you lose”. They stopped calling it Global Warming at the same time the planet stopped warming. The fact that the Penn State investigation was internal was another big red flag. If you really are innocent and you really want to clear yourself you need to call for an outside investigation so you aren’t accused of whitewashing it. Trying to censor information by calling their opponents all sorts of names and making all sorts of accusations . Micheal Mann is complaining about hate mail and death threats? He didn’t say anything when it happened to his opponents or even doing so now. It is fine when they get hate mail but now when the shoe is on the other foot…

    Whether you like it or not policy is not going to change much unless you can convince the majority in the country that it is worth the price they will be paying. Belief in AGW is dropping like a stone and that won’t change as long as the data isn’t transparent and easy to get to and there is a real and honest debate about it with no trying to shut the other guy up with heated rhetoric.That problem now is on BOTH sides. If Mann is right we wasted a decade because it wasn’t done right the first time. If Mann needs a few months or years to get his data in order that is what he has to do. Now is the best time to start that. The earlier we have an honest debate with transparent research the earlier we can determine which policies need to be changed, if any. This can’t be done if the public thinks there is a cover up at Penn State and the CRU or that Global Warmists are trying to shut up critics. Politicians will not be re-elected if the public thinks their policies are based on fraud. Because of this there will be no meaningful changes unless this is done. There are VERY few politicians willing to commit political suicide.

  33. John, you believe that public belief in ACC is “plummeting”, to use your word. I suggest you consult some of the polling data. Here’s a quick compendium of a number of polls:

    http://www.pollingreport.com/enviro.htm

    It shows that in fact public acceptance of climate change was reduced by the hacked emails. However, there’s still a strong majority that believe that action should be taken to reduce carbon emissions. I know that most deniers suffer from confirmation bias; I hope that is not the case with you.

    But we must also recognize that large numbers of Americans believe in astrology, demonic possession, UFOs, that Mr. Hussein possessed WMD, and 9/11 conspiracy theories. What with the likes of Glenn Beck and Fox News, it’s no wonder that so many Americans are so grossly misinformed. Here’s our problem: having the truth on your side is not sufficient — you gotta have a PR campaign. The fossil fuel companies have big budgets for PR against ACC. Scientists don’t spend money on PR, they spend it on more research. The research results have been piling up higher and higher, to the point where almost everybody who understands the science fully supports the ACC hypothesis. The ranks of the opponents of the ACC hypothesis teem with liars and charlatans.

    You say that your suspicions were raised when people said that the debate is over. They are merely reporting the facts: the scientific debate over ACC ended in the early years of this century. Indeed, as far back as the 1950s, people were saying that carbon emissions would ultimately lead to increasing temperatures. It’s just basic physics. When I was in grad school in the 70s, one of the professors discussed the applicable physics and the overall conclusion was that such climate change was inevitable, but as yet there was insufficient evidence in support of that expectation.

    There never really was any scientific opposition to the basic expectation that increasing carbon emissions would warm the earth; it really is first-year physics. The only arguments were about how soon, how much, and how fast. During the early 80s, the general consensus was that there still wasn’t enough data. But the data started piling up in the late 80s and by the early 90s, most scientists were convinced. There was still some serious debate all through the 90s, but by the turn of the century, the scientific debate was over; most scientists were convinced. So it really was correct to state afterwards that the debate was over.

    You say that your suspicions were further raised by the change from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change”. I’ll gently suggest that your suspicions are based on ignorance of the process leading to the change. “Global Warming” was used at first because it reflected the overall direction of the change. However, as climatologists began sorting out the complexities, they realized that some areas, such as the tropics, would experience no significant increases in temperature, while the polar regions would experience large increases. Moreover, many of the effects of this phenomenon would manifest themselves in ways other than temperature increases, such as sea level rise. They therefore shifted to “Climate Change” to more accurately represent their results. No, it wasn’t some deep dark conspiracy at work; it was the result of improved understanding.

    I’d like to challenge you: have you actually read the Penn State report? If so, what in particular do you find fault with? If you haven’t read the report, how can you criticize it in good conscience?

    This is obviously a matter of some importance to you; I therefore urge you to immerse yourself in the science so that you can understand the issues. Read the IPCC AR4 WG1 report; it’s freely available online. Yes, it’s huge, and yes, it’s technical, but let’s be honest: you are in no position to question scientific conclusions if you haven’t any idea of how those conclusions were reached.

    I will ask you a rhetorical question: are you absolutely certain that your opposition to the ACC hypothesis is based on an objective analysis of the scientific research results, or is your opposition based on political preferences? I have no objection to your political preferences, but if you permit those preferences to intrude into scientific judgement, I think you are making a serious error in judgement.

    Lastly, I remind you of the real policy issue here: if the ACC hypothesis be correct, we really are contemplating losses running into the trillions of dollars over the next century. Regardless of whether it’s Republicans or Democrats on one side or the other, doesn’t this prospect motivate you to want to determine the actual truth, rather than the political platforms?

  34. John, you believe that public belief in ACC is “plummeting”, to use your word. I suggest you consult some of the polling data. Here’s a quick compendium of a number of polls:

    http://www.pollingreport.com/enviro.htm

    It shows that in fact public acceptance of climate change was reduced by the hacked emails. However, there’s still a strong majority that believe that action should be taken to reduce carbon emissions. I know that most deniers suffer from confirmation bias; I hope that is not the case with you.

    But we must also recognize that large numbers of Americans believe in astrology, demonic possession, UFOs, that Mr. Hussein possessed WMD, and 9/11 conspiracy theories. What with the likes of Glenn Beck and Fox News, it’s no wonder that so many Americans are so grossly misinformed. Here’s our problem: having the truth on your side is not sufficient — you gotta have a PR campaign. The fossil fuel companies have big budgets for PR against ACC. Scientists don’t spend money on PR, they spend it on more research. The research results have been piling up higher and higher, to the point where almost everybody who understands the science fully supports the ACC hypothesis. The ranks of the opponents of the ACC hypothesis teem with liars and charlatans.

    You say that your suspicions were raised when people said that the debate is over. They are merely reporting the facts: the scientific debate over ACC ended in the early years of this century. Indeed, as far back as the 1950s, people were saying that carbon emissions would ultimately lead to increasing temperatures. It’s just basic physics. When I was in grad school in the 70s, one of the professors discussed the applicable physics and the overall conclusion was that such climate change was inevitable, but as yet there was insufficient evidence in support of that expectation.

    There never really was any scientific opposition to the basic expectation that increasing carbon emissions would warm the earth; it really is first-year physics. The only arguments were about how soon, how much, and how fast. During the early 80s, the general consensus was that there still wasn’t enough data. But the data started piling up in the late 80s and by the early 90s, most scientists were convinced. There was still some serious debate all through the 90s, but by the turn of the century, the scientific debate was over; most scientists were convinced. So it really was correct to state afterwards that the debate was over.

    You say that your suspicions were further raised by the change from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change”. I’ll gently suggest that your suspicions are based on ignorance of the process leading to the change. “Global Warming” was used at first because it reflected the overall direction of the change. However, as climatologists began sorting out the complexities, they realized that some areas, such as the tropics, would experience no significant increases in temperature, while the polar regions would experience large increases. Moreover, many of the effects of this phenomenon would manifest themselves in ways other than temperature increases, such as sea level rise. They therefore shifted to “Climate Change” to more accurately represent their results. No, it wasn’t some deep dark conspiracy at work; it was the result of improved understanding.

    I’d like to challenge you: have you actually read the Penn State report? If so, what in particular do you find fault with? If you haven’t read the report, how can you criticize it in good conscience?

    This is obviously a matter of some importance to you; I therefore urge you to immerse yourself in the science so that you can understand the issues. Read the IPCC AR4 WG1 report; it’s freely available online. Yes, it’s huge, and yes, it’s technical, but let’s be honest: you are in no position to question scientific conclusions if you haven’t any idea of how those conclusions were reached.

    I will ask you a rhetorical question: are you absolutely certain that your opposition to the ACC hypothesis is based on an objective analysis of the scientific research results, or is your opposition based on political preferences? I have no objection to your political preferences, but if you permit those preferences to intrude into scientific judgement, I think you are making a serious error in judgement.

    Lastly, I remind you of the real policy issue here: if the ACC hypothesis be correct, we really are contemplating losses running into the trillions of dollars over the next century. Regardless of whether it’s Republicans or Democrats on one side or the other, doesn’t this prospect motivate you to want to determine the actual truth, rather than the political platforms?

  35. This topic has accumulated over 5000 words yet nothing substantive has been accomplished because not enough people really care anymore and this has once again left us with an utter waste of precious time. This clearly illustrates the hopeless futility and pitiful emptiness of this old warn-out climate discourse. It’s time to move on and put this ugly saga behind us once and for all. Brothers and Sisters, let everybody say “Amen”

  36. This topic has accumulated over 5000 words yet nothing substantive has been accomplished because not enough people really care anymore and this has once again left us with an utter waste of precious time. This clearly illustrates the hopeless futility and pitiful emptiness of this old warn-out climate discourse. It’s time to move on and put this ugly saga behind us once and for all. Brothers and Sisters, let everybody say “Amen”

  37. bqrq, I think you might want to consult some of the polling data I referenced above; it demonstrates that your view is the minority view in the USA and the view of a tiny minority abroad. The citizens of the USA are not as well-informed as those in other developed countries, so they lag well behind them in their assessment of the problems of ACC. I am sad to say that this ugly saga is only going to get worse. I agree that the discourse is unproductive, but that is because the deniers simply refuse to learn the science, relying instead on talking points taken from websites. My hope is that by doggedly explaining the science, I can at least discredit the denialists in the eyes of lurkers.

  38. bqrq, I think you might want to consult some of the polling data I referenced above; it demonstrates that your view is the minority view in the USA and the view of a tiny minority abroad. The citizens of the USA are not as well-informed as those in other developed countries, so they lag well behind them in their assessment of the problems of ACC. I am sad to say that this ugly saga is only going to get worse. I agree that the discourse is unproductive, but that is because the deniers simply refuse to learn the science, relying instead on talking points taken from websites. My hope is that by doggedly explaining the science, I can at least discredit the denialists in the eyes of lurkers.

  39. For John Berndt: can you explain why you think you know anything about misconduct investigations?
    Have you filed any complaints? Any successfully?
    Are you familiar with the OSTP guidelines? ORI’s? Do you study university misconduct policies? Do you talk to VP Research/RIO folks? Do you author articles with people who’ve run university misconduct committees?

    As it happens, Penn State’s investigations of Mann was unusually transparent, followed the standard rules and involved some people I knew personally, of high integrity and honesty. They did an inquiry, published the report. They published the names of the investigation committee and they published the report. Actually, they did this even without getting a credible complaint, but rather a mishmash of emails and letters.

    If one wants to see a weirdly-related counterexample, which some might call a whitewash* try See No Evil At George Mason University. It broke their own (weak) rules, was seriously opaque and generated an absurd, contradictory result.

    *I wouldn’t, as I think that’s an understatement.

  40. For John Berndt: can you explain why you think you know anything about misconduct investigations?
    Have you filed any complaints? Any successfully?
    Are you familiar with the OSTP guidelines? ORI’s? Do you study university misconduct policies? Do you talk to VP Research/RIO folks? Do you author articles with people who’ve run university misconduct committees?

    As it happens, Penn State’s investigations of Mann was unusually transparent, followed the standard rules and involved some people I knew personally, of high integrity and honesty. They did an inquiry, published the report. They published the names of the investigation committee and they published the report. Actually, they did this even without getting a credible complaint, but rather a mishmash of emails and letters.

    If one wants to see a weirdly-related counterexample, which some might call a whitewash* try See No Evil At George Mason University. It broke their own (weak) rules, was seriously opaque and generated an absurd, contradictory result.

    *I wouldn’t, as I think that’s an understatement.

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About Cara

Cara Horowitz

Cara Horowitz is the co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law. The Emmett Institute was founded as the f…

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