‘Climategate:’ Penn State Mostly Lets Researcher Michael Mann Off the Hook

Feb 3, 2010 6:32pm

Michael Mann, a Penn State scientist who appeared prominently in those famously-hacked e-mails from climate researchers last fall, has been cleared on three of four points raised by a university panel investigating him.

You'll recall that the e-mails — more than a thousand of them — became public in November and were widely posted on the Internet.  They came from a server at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU)at the University of East Anglia in Britain.  To doubters of climate change, the e-mails were evidence of widespread scientific misconduct.  To those who worry about climate change, the e-mails showed scientists in the sometimes-intemperate process of trying to advance their work.

Penn State convened a panel under Henry Foley, its vice president for research.  It asked whether Mann had 1) suppressed or falsified data; 2) tried to conceal or destroy e-mails or other information; 3) misused confidential information; or 4) did anything that "seriously deviated from accepted practices" in scholarly research.

The answer from Foley's panel was no on the first three points; on the fourth, it said there was no evidence, but that a larger panel should take a look.  You can find the full text HERE.

Here's a sample passage:

"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."

Mann put out a statement of thanks — read the full text HERE — in which he said, "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."

Steve Milloy, who runs the JunkScience.com Web site, was not happy: "There needs to be a thorough and independent investigation of Climategate. PSU’s report is a primer for a whitewash."

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