Student Journalists Lead

Laura Nichols of the Penn State Daily Collegian Online here is way ahead of other journalists on the Penn State investigation – which was off the mark even faster than CRU.   She reports that the investigation was convened under Policy RA-10, which describes the procedure for breach of standards set out under Policy AD-47.

A panel of personnel within the university is reviewing all of the e-mail correspondence between Mann and scientists at the University of East Anglia in England that was illegally leaked in November. University spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz said Penn State officials are conducting the inquiry, which began last week, under policy RA-10.

Nichols reported that Senior Vice President for Research Eva Pell is charged by the policy to head up the inquiry committee and did not return calls for comment by press time Tuesday and that Director of the Office of Research Protections Candice Yekel said while she is part of the committee, she cannot comment on the inquiry while it is still in progress.

The article continued:

More than $760 million in grants are given annually to research within Penn State, Mountz said. There will be no sanctions or restrictions placed on Mann or any grants during the inquiry. The university will also not be able to take any action or make any concrete determinations until the search has been completed, Mountz said.


43 Comments

  1. ac
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 1:41 PM | Permalink

    Why would the investigation be limited to the leaked e-mails? I would think that the leaked e-mails are cause for an internal review of all communications between Mann and the CRU.

  2. Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

    It’s too bad they wont be investigating the systematic throwing out of data which doesn’t agree.

    • BlueIce2HotSea
      Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 3:27 PM | Permalink

      Yes. They have already determined that it is the leak that is illegal. Too bad, they didn’t report on how they know it wasn’t a whistle-blower revealing the crime of evading FOIA requests. In that case, I believe the UK Whistleblower Act protects the leak, so long as your site, Jeff, can be recognized as ‘media’.

  3. Ed Snack
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

    My guess is that this won’t be a case of “OMG, it’s worse than we thought !”

  4. Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

    Me too, why isn’t the investigations focused on truth? Can’t Penn State do simple statistics.

  5. Chris
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 2:40 PM | Permalink

    I e-mailed the PSU President back on November 28 regarding Mann and received this reply:

    Dear Chris:

    Thank you for your email. As Vice President for Administration, I help the President respond to emails and important issues brought to his attention. Let me share with you that Professor Michael Mann is a highly regarded member of the Penn State faculty conducting research on climate change. Professor Mann’s research papers have been published in well respected peer-reviewed scientific journals. In November 2005, Representative Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) requested that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) convene a panel of independent experts to investigate Professor Mann’s seminal 1999 reconstruction of the global surface temperature over the past 1,000 years. The resulting 2006 report of the NAS panel (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11676) concluded that Mann’s results were sound and has been subsequently supported by an array of evidence that includes additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions.

    As you know, in recent days a lengthy file of emails has been made public. Some of the questions raised through those emails may have been addressed already by the NAS investigation but others may not have been considered. The University is looking into this matter further, following a well defined policy used in such cases. No public discussion of the matter will occur while the University is reviewing the concerns that have been raised.

    Thanks again for writing.

    Sincerely,

    Tom Poole

    Thomas G. Poole, Ph.D.
    Vice President for Administration

    It doesn’t look to me like the investigation is off to an auspicious start.

    • Gary
      Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 2:57 PM | Permalink

      A response to this letter is appropriate, pointing out Dr. Mann’s research methods errors (mis-identified series, mis-used series, statistical procedures, and most importantly continued use of bristlecone pine series after NAS told him not to) demonstrate that his results are far from “sound.” Best send by alumni, however.

      • fFreddy
        Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 3:54 PM | Permalink

        Also, be sure to point out the key conclusions from the Wegman Report. Hell, make sure they are aware of the Wegman Report – clearly Mann has not told them about it.

    • Jryan
      Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 3:24 PM | Permalink

      “published in well respected peer-reviewed journals”

      Yeah, they don’t seem to understand the evidence against Michael Mann….

    • Kay
      Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

      Funny, I got exactly the same response from Poole.

  6. Robinson
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 2:42 PM | Permalink

    If someone could get hold of annual grant awards going back, say, 30 years, I wonder if it would be hockey stick shaped?

  7. Sean Peake
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

    The emails are obvious. What happened with the data is the question.

  8. dirac_delta
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 2:48 PM | Permalink

    >dfbaskwill
    >Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 2:06 PM | Permalink | Reply
    >An internal investigation at PSU which is investigating an >entity that brings in 100’s of millions of dollars to the >University is doomed to be a whitewash.

    This is precisely so. The university’s primary concern is to protect it’s cash cow–research funding. I expect PSU to spin things in a way as to mitigate the damage to its reputation as a research institution, regardless of what the reality may be. I imagine they will throw their full support behind Mr. Mann and go with the “unfortunate use of language” defense.

    • fFreddy
      Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 5:48 PM | Permalink

      Surely the figure of $760mn a year refers to their total amount of grants, of which climatology is only a very small part ?

      • boballab
        Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

        I am going by face value of the PR person and they said that PSU got that much not Mann. Remember that Phil Jones only got a little over 20 mil in 20 years.

        Now here is another fact the UEA is a small school who’s claim to fame is the CRU. THey hang there hat on it and get a lot of money from it. Now on the other hand PSU is a very large school, remember Dr. Jarvik invernted the artificial hear there, and Mann is just 1 among many. So if you go by the figures for Phil Jones Mann probably gets 1 to 2 mil per year in grants. Now compare that to the PSU football team that will rake in over 6 mil for 1 bowl game. Where UEA has a large financial stake in Jones and the CRU, PSU doesn’t have a large stake in Mann. What he brings in per year is a drop in the bucket and PSU doesn’t need him for funding.

  9. Sisyphus
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

    The way to get a really focused investigation is for a few of the big research sponsors withdraw – the same as big sponsors withdraw when a major sporting star goes astray. It would be a metaphorical whack in the head with a 3 wood!

  10. Follow the Money
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 2:55 PM | Permalink

    “More than $760 million in grants are given annually to research within Penn State”

    Laura Nichols, congratulations. One of the few, maybe only reporter to imply funding might be an issue.

    No crisis, no money.

  11. Calvin Ball
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    A panel of personnel within the university is reviewing all of the e-mail correspondence between Mann and scientists at the University of East Anglia in England that was illegally leaked in November.

    That suggests which way they’re headed.

    • Kay
      Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

      They suggested which way they were headed the day they announced the investigation. They claimed in their statement that Mann is a highly respected member of their faculty and that his work had been upheld by NAS…not only did NAS NOT do that (even if they somehow decided that Mann was right even if his methods were wrong)… they totally failed to mention Wegman. For starters.

      • fFreddy
        Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 3:56 PM | Permalink

        It is entirely possible that they have never heard of the Wegman Report.

        • shawn
          Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 5:10 PM | Permalink

          does anyone have a working link for this Wegman Report

          in google, this site comes up but the link does not work, im guessing because of the recent server change?

          anyways, anyone have a link so that i may read this?

          thanks

  12. Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 3:03 PM | Permalink

    There must be sensible students at PSU, too. After all, I have known several of them – including a sexy Ukrainian particle physicist who rides horses. ;-)

    I liked the “Don’t Hide the Decline” message on the wall, as reported by the magazine. Nevertheless, my main reason to post this comment is to check whether my Gravatar will be shown here.

  13. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 3:04 PM | Permalink

    I stand behind my opinion that PSU will clear Mann and that he will forever use that as his vindication in any number of matters.

  14. Bob Hamilton
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

    I think the $760 million is the total outside funding for all researchers at Penn State.

    That being said, this investigation will obviously be a whitewash. The academics have all closed ranks behind the so-called climate researchers in the past. Why would they change?

  15. Jacob
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 3:14 PM | Permalink

    They should check the whole content of his server or hard disk, which supposedly belongs to the U.
    Investigating only the “stolen” mails is not enough.

  16. Jacob
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 3:15 PM | Permalink

    And also his trash can or recycle bin, and all backups.

  17. theduke
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

    I agree that Mann will probably be either lightly reprimanded by the university or exonerated completely. But I don’t think it’s that important. His reputation has been tarnished in the past six years. Support for AGW will continue to erode as more thinking people catch up to what has been going on.

    The next big battle will be the temperature stations and how accurately the data has been processed. If it can be proven that the rise in temperatures in the past 25 years is largely due to mishandling or misinterpretation of the data, that will undermine further the entire AGW narrative. That’s a big if, but I’ve seen a lot of info, most recently Willis Eisenbach’s work at WUWT, that suggests it’s very possible.

  18. VG
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 4:06 PM | Permalink

    At last SM real finding on MSM TV.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5953132n&tag=contentBody;housing

    Any comments on the Willis work on Darwin Temp data (ie: an audit of an audit?)

    Steve: I wouldn’t encourage you to get too excited about the Darwin thing. It’s foolish to get all excited about something that’s one minute old and you don’t know what’s in the analysis other than you like the result. There are many issues that are well analysed.

  19. fFreddy
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

    Chris, Kay, and any other alumni writing to Penn State : do not assume that Thomas G. Poole, Ph.D., Vice President for Administration, knows anything about global watrming other than what he has heard on the evening news, and what Michael Mann has told him.

    I find it easy to read Poole’s letter as being from a perectly honest man who doesn’t know diddly about the subject, but is just relying on his local expert – who, unfortunately, is Michael Mann.

    I could be wrong in this, of course, but I think it is worth being optimistic for a while yet.

    Try writing back to Poole, explain about the Wegman report and it’s conclusions that MBH’s “analysis cannot support its conclusions”, that the North report explicitly does not disagree with Wegman, and that it instructs that bristlecone pines should not be used for these reconstructions (without which Mann’s hockey stick goes away).
    Tell Poole to ask someone in his Maths department to have a look at the Wegman Report. I’m sure they will give it the thumbs up.

  20. Mike S.
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 4:09 PM | Permalink

    I did note that PSU is getting a little outside pressure to do this right (http://spectator.org/blog/2009/12/03/heat-on-mann-at-home):

    “For good measure state Senator Jeffrey Piccola, chairman of the Education Committee, wants to make sure PSU president Graham Spanier follows through, as he explained in a letter he sent today:

    ‘The allegations of intellectual and scientific fraud like those made against Dr. Mann are serious against anybody involved in academics, but the impact in this case is significantly elevated. The work of Dr. Mann and other scientists at the CRU is being used to develop economic and environmental policies in states and countries across the world. Considering the saliency of the work being conducted by the CRU, anything short of the pursuit of absolute science cannot be accepted or tolerated.’

    Piccola’s take-home message for Spanier is if his investigation is a whitewash, then the PA Senate Education Committee will conduct its own look-see-find.”

    Not sure if PSU will treat this as a bluff, or if Piccola can back it up, but we shall see how it all plays out.

  21. Paul Oksnee
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 4:09 PM | Permalink

    “A panel of personnel within the university is reviewing all of the e-mail correspondence between Mann and scientists at the University of East Anglia in England that was illegally leaked in November. University spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz said Penn State officials are conducting the inquiry, which began last week, under policy RA-10.”
    “…illegally leaked…”???? Nothing like an impartial investigation.

    • David
      Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 6:19 PM | Permalink

      Paul, they were illegally leaked. That’s a fact. But lots of illegal leaks have lead to important revelations that would not otherwise come to light. At least they did not say they were hacked.

      It seems pointless to complain about a simple and direct statement of fact.

      • Greg F
        Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

        David, The UK has a whistle blower statute. The legality of the leak/hack is still in question.

  22. Paul Oksnee
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

    Below is the response I received from Iowa State University of which I am an alumnus.

    Mr. Oksnee,

    Our program in regional climate modeling was launched in the mid 1990s by a rather large grant from the Electric Power Research Institute ( http://my.epri.com/portal/server.pt?). According to their website the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is an independent, non-profit company performing research, development and design in the electricity sector for the benefit of the public. They were pleased with our work and provided a couple of smaller follow-on grants to hold a workshop.

    Since about 2000 we have had funding from various sources for our research, including NASA, NOAA, DOE, Iowa Department of Transportation, and the National Science Foundation. We currently have a grant from MidAmerican Energy Company headquartered in Des Moines and are about to confirm a grant with the National Center for Asphalt Technology on climate change impacts on roadways.

    With your background in chemistry you will no doubt be interested to know the position of the American Chemical Society on climate change. From their website (and attached) you will find the following:

    GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
    ACS POSITION

    Careful and comprehensive scientific assessments have clearly demonstrated that the Earth’s climate system is changing rapidly in response to growing atmospheric burdens of greenhouse gases and absorbing aerosol particles (IPCC, 2007). There is very little room for doubt that observed climate trends are due to human activities. The threats are serious and action is urgently needed to mitigate the risks of climate change.

    The reality of global warming, its current serious and potentially disastrous impacts on Earth system properties, and the key role emissions from human activities play in driving these phenomena have been recognized by earlier versions of this ACS policy statement (ACS, 2004), by other major scientific societies, including the American Geophysical Union (AGU, 2003), the American Meteorological Society (AMS, 2007) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, 2007), and by the U. S. National Academies and ten other leading national academies of science (NA, 2005). This statement reviews key global climate change impacts and recommends actions required to mitigate or adapt to currently anticipated consequences. More…

    http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_SUPERARTICLE&node_id=1907&use_sec=false&sec_url_var=region1&__uuid=

    Gene Takle

    Eugene S. Takle
    Director, Climate Science Initiative
    Professor of Atmospheric Science
    Professor of Agricultural Meteorology
    3010 Agronomy Hall
    Iowa State University
    Ames, IA 50011
    Voice: 515-294-9871
    Fax: 515-294-2619
    Home Page: http://www.meteor.iastate.edu/faculty/takle/
    Climate Science Initiative: http://climate.agron.iastate.edu

    Ooohhh! Dazzle me with credentials.

  23. Jordan
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

    Steve – are you aware of this:

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/science/monitoring/hadcrut3.html

  24. Jordan
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 5:23 PM | Permalink

    Sorry ’bout that – wrong link.

    Steve, are you aware of the publication of a subset of hadcrut3 data here:

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/science/monitoring/subsets.html

    I think there is a lot of the “value added” data rather than the “unprocessed”, and it’s not clear how to distinguish the two.

  25. John A
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 5:46 PM | Permalink

    Can I point out that Penn State is also the home of Robert Giegengack who definitely isn’t a fan of Mann’s sub-amateur statistical analysis, nor of Al Gore

    It depends on PSU’s nervousness about the future of federal funding if Republicans can the majority in Congress again and James Inhofe becomes majority chairman again, as much as “scientific integrity” and commitment to “scholarly standards in ethics”

    By no means do all PSU alumni support Mann

    • David
      Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 6:22 PM | Permalink

      Gigengack is at University of Pennsylvania, not Penn State.

  26. Mesa
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 5:47 PM | Permalink

    Steve –

    You have probably made about 10 comments now that you don’t think there is much to the case of the thermometer record being biased by urban heat effects. Do you think it’s possible that the changing population over time has caused any biases? In general you seem to think that the thermometer record is probably accurate to within .1 F or so? Is that fair?

  27. David
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 5:57 PM | Permalink

    Most of these comments are over the top, prejudging the fairness of the inquiry in the same manner that the commenters believe that Penn State will prejudge the results.

    As to the manner of conducting the inquiry, it seems to me that the principal questions are as follows:

    1. What information will they look at? Will they conduct a thorough search of computers where Mann kept his data and emails to determine what additional material is relevant?

    2. Will they conduct forensic investigations to determine what, if anything, was deleted?

    3. Will they look into how the “lost” data got lost?

    4. Will the people conducting the hearing have enough budget, staff and expertise to do these things adequately? They will need someone who can understand statistics and the underlying scientific principles and someone with expertise in database management. They also probably need someone, a lawyer perhaps, who is expert in basic investigational techniques.

    5. Will they make public the issues they are investigating, the means and methods of the investigation and the conclusions and the reasons therefore?

    The press and the blogs have an important role to play here by publicizing what the issues are and how a proper investigation of the issues should be conducted. It is not helpful to simply say that the Penn State inquiry will be a corrupt whitewash and leave it at that.

    To begin, it would be useful to understand the “established procedures” that Penn State says it will follow.

    I admit that some of the early press releases from Penn State don’t sound very objective. But Professor Mann is entitled to a fair hearing and to be free of prejudgment, though not of suspicion.

    It may well be that the University lacks the institutional power (completely apart from will or objectivity) to conduct an adequate investigation. A legislative investigation by Congress or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with subpoena power may be necessary. Whether there is presently just cause for a civil or criminal investigation by prosecutors is not clear to me at this time.

  28. Keith Herbert
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 7:14 PM | Permalink

    Mann and Penn State can safely state the hockey stick theory was vidicated by the NAS and Gerald North because North himself said it was vidicated.
    An article by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, quotes North as saying he came to the same conclusion as Mann’s Hockey Stick Theory.

    I emailed North about this last week and received a response. I’d post these but I don’t know how to post the graph he sent or other inserted items. Is there an instruction set for this?

  29. Warren Bonesteel
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

    I understand that Mann’s ‘department’ at PSU is somewhat separate from the rest of the university and that he gets most of his funding from resources other than PSU. Plus, I’ve read rumors where he’s been pretty high-handed with his peers and the administration at PSU, so… campus politics comes into play much more than it might under normal circumstances.

    How any friends does Mann have left at PSU and how far out on a limb will they go to protect him?

  30. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 9, 2009 at 8:21 PM | Permalink

    I’m going to close this thread to avoid people piling on.

One Trackback

  1. By Follow the climate money « TWAWKI on Dec 9, 2009 at 11:30 PM

    [...] Penn State University research grants $760 million [...]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,196 other followers

%d bloggers like this: