4 p.m. A couple of quick points. Readers should understand that I have limited expectations from this sort of inquiry. What I do expect is that the authors not make untrue statements that can be easily disproven. (At least make them hard to disprove.)
Point 1. Penn State President Spanier is quoted as saying:
“I know they’ve taken the time and spent hundreds of hours studying documents and interviewing people and looking at issues from all sides,” Spanier said.
The only interviews mentioned in the report (aside from Mann) are with Gerry North and Donald Kennedy, editor of Science. [Since they are required to provide a transcript or summary of all interviews, I presume that the Inquiry did not carry out any other interviews.] What does Donald Kennedy know about the matter? These two hardly constitute “looking at issues from all sides”. [A CA reader observed below that “North [at a Rice University event] admitted that he had not read any of the EAU e-mails and did not even know that software files were included in the release.”] They didn’t even talk to Wegman. Contrary to Spanier’s claim, they did not make the slightest effort to talk to any critic or even neutral observer.
Point 2. The Penn State Committee stated:
The so-called “trick” 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.
This is untrue on a variety of levels. The “trick” is not a “legitimate” statistical method; its essence is the failure to show adverse data. See Climate Audit here or the DailyMail here. Did they do any investigation of the “trick”? They don’t even seem to have read the relevant Climate Audit post – only realclimate.
Point 3. The Report states:
The allegation inquires about whether Dr. Mann seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities. In 2006, similar questions were asked about Dr. Mann and these questions motivated the National Academy of Sciences to undertake an in depth investigation of his research.
Similar questions may have been asked in 2006 but the National Academy of Sciences panel did not carry out an “in depth” investigation into whether Mann had “deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities.” Ralph Cicerone of NAS, together with Gerry North, drew up terms of reference that specifically excluded such an investigation. This is discussed in CA post Sir Humphrey and the Boehlert Questions.
While the Science Committee had asked questions about MBH, Cicerone did not submit these questions to the NAS Panel. Cicerone framed the terms of reference as follows (See the Sir Humphrey post for context):
the committee will summarize current scientific information on the temperature record for the past 1,000-2,000 years, describe the main areas of uncertainty and how significant they are, describe the principal methodologies used and any problems with these approaches, and explain how central the debate over the paleoclimate temperature record is to the state of scientific knowledge on global climate change. The committee will address tasks such as identifying the variables for which proxy records have been employed, describing the proxy records that have been used to reconstruct surface temperature records for the pre-instrumental period, assessing the methods employed to combine multiple proxy data to develop surface temperature reconstructions, discussing the geographical regions over which proxy data can be reliably extrapolated, and evaluating the overall accuracy and precision of such reconstructions.
When Hans von Storch showed the Boehlert questions in a PPT slide, it caused great consternation for the panel – many of whom had never seen the Boehlert questions – and they had a hard time deciding whether they would entertain von Storch’s presentation on these matters.
Panelist Christy asked Mann whether he had calculated a verification r2 for the AD1400 step and what it was. Notwithstanding overwhelming evidence that the verification r2 statistic for this step had been calculated along with the RE statistic, Mann famously said that he had not calculated a verification r2 statistic as that would be a “foolish and incorrect reasoning”. No one on the panel asked Mann why he had shown verification r2 results for the AD1820 step or why it was calculated in the same step as the RE statistic – though they had been briefed on both points. Instead, North and the panelists sat there like bumps on a log. My contemporary post on Mann’s presentation is here and noted:
Christy did ask Mann: “Did you calculate R2?” ‘? Mann’s answer was: “We didn’t calculate it. That would be silly and incorrect reasoning”‘?. Whenever I hear this statement in my mind, the following phrase runs through my mind: “I did not have r2 with that statistic, Miss Lewinsky”.
We had discussed the verification r2 issue in considerable depth on the previous day, even showing a graphic in which Mann had shown verification r2 for the AD1820 step. However, no one on the panel challenged Mann either about his claim that they did not calculate the r2 statistic or why it would be “silly and incorrect reasoning”‘? to calculate the r2 statistic – a point which is not only not self-evident, but incorrect. Perhaps the non-statistical panelists were reluctant to step into an area where they were not experts, given Mann’s aggressive and dismissive response to Christy. However, Nychka and Bloomfield, as statisticians, should have stepped here. I’ve pointed out Nychka’s association with Ammann (he is acknowledged in Wahl and Ammann ); Nychka is a decent guy, but he should have made way for an independent statistician.
Mann arrived at the NAS presentation shortly before his presentation and left immediately after answering the panel questions (before any public questions.) I criticized the panel at the time for not resolving the verification r2 issue that had been specifically mentioned in the very first letter from NAS to the Barton Committee. North and the others sat there like bumps on a log. After the session, Nychka came up to me and said that just because they didn’t say anything about Mann’s verification r2 answer didn’t mean that they didn’t notice what had happened. But then they didn’t deal with it.
Update: 11 pm: The Inquiry Report stated that Mann “consented to the public release” of the report. RA-10 says:
A written report shall be prepared that states what evidence was reviewed, a copy of all interview transcripts and/or summaries, and includes the conclusions of the inquiry.
The Inquiry Report says that their interview with Mann was recorded and transcribed. Despite the RA-10 requirement that the written report include a “copy of all interview transcripts”, the Inquiry Report did not contain a transcript of the interview with Mann. The Inquiry Report stated that Mann provided a ten page supplemental written response to the matters discussed during his interview. Contary to RA-10, this was not included in the written report.
The Inquiry Report said that Gerald North and Donald Kennedy were interviewed. Once again, despite RA-10 requirements, the Inquiry Report did not contain a transcript and/or summary of the interviews with North or Kennedy.
RA-10 said that the Inquiry Report should state “what evidence was reviewed”. It also states:
Documentation in sufficient detail to permit a later assessment, if necessary, of the reasons for determining that an investigation was not warranted shall be maintained for a period of at least three years by the Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School, and shall be made available upon request to any involved Federal agencies.
Here is how the Inquiry Report describes what evidence was reviewed:
It was agreed that these individuals would meet again in early January and that they would use the time until that meeting to review the relevant information, including the above mentioned e-mails, journal articles, OP-ED columns, newspaper and magazine articles, the National Academy of Sciences report entitled “Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years,” ISBN: 0-309-66144-7 and various blogs on the internet.
Does the statement that they looked at “journal articles, OP-ED columns, newspaper and magazine articles, the NAS report and various blogs on the internet” constitute acceptable “documentation” at Penn State for a freshman essay, much less for an Inquiry Report required to provide “sufficient detail to permit a later assessment, if necessary, of the reasons for determining that an investigation was not warranted”.
Speaking of which – the only evidence said to have been considered by the Inquiry was what was already in the public record. They did not examine any of Mann’s correspondence that was not already on the public record. RA-10 states that “Relevant research records, documents, and/or materials shall be immediately sequestered.” This does not appear to have been done.