Lasaga – From Penn State to Yale and Back

In 2002, Antonio Lasaga, an extremely eminent scientist then at Yale, was sentenced to 20 years on charges of possession of child pornography and sexual assault against a minor. Given the focus of the present controversy on the Penn State football program, it is instructive to revisit the handling of a scandal involving a star academic. Lasaga had relevant connections to Penn State, as it was at Penn State that he achieved academic stardom in the late 1970s. At his sentencing, no one from Yale stood up for him, but three professors from his past, two from Penn State and one from Harvard, spoke on his behalf (all three being described by the prosecution as the most out of touch he had ever encountered). After his imprisonment, Lasaga has continued to publish academic articles with Penn State associates and presently lists his academic correspondence address as State College PA. It’s a remarkable story that deserves a serious look by someone.

Lasaga was born in Cuba in 1949 and moved to the US at the time of the Cuban Revolution. He attended Princeton, graduating in 1971, described by a professor at the time as not simply the most talented in his year, but the “most creative student at Princeton in the past 10 years”. He started grad school at Harvard in 1971 and by October 1971 had already published an article in Science as lead author (co-authored by Heinrich Holland who spoke on his behalf in 2002.) Lasaga received his Masters in 1973 and PhD in 1976. He joined the Penn State faculty in 1977.

Lasaga’s specialty was kinetic reactions in geochemistry and, during this period, Lasaga developed what was later described as “his beautiful analysis of the mathematics of non-steady-state diagenesis” and he “solved the diffusion equation for the exchange of cations between neighboring crystals of silicate minerals during retrograde metamorphism”. Lasaga published a series of outstanding articles and, in 1979, at the age of just 30, was awarded the Clarke medal by the Geochemical Society. During this time at Penn State, Lasaga published several articles with Hiroshi Ohmoto of Penn State. (Ohmoto recurs later at Lasaga’s sentencing hearing and as a coauthor of his most recent articles.)

Lasaga’s dark side also began to emerge around this time. In 1981, he was charged by State College police with inappropriately touching a 9-year old boy and an 11-year old boy at a local pool. Lasaga denied the charges, passed a lie detector and the charges were later dropped. At a pre-sentencing hearing nearly 20 years later (in 2000), evidence was given that the 1981 lie detector test was flawed.

Lasaga moved to a new post at the Yale department of Geology and Geophysics (G&G) in 1984 following a visiting professorship in 1982 and continued to publish outstanding articles. In 1986, he was winner of the Mineralogical Society Award – the first winner of both awards. Lasaga married his wife Evelyn around this time. They had two sons, one of whom was born around this time.

In 1981, Lasaga had published a seminal memoir on geokinetics, later much expanded into his 800 page magnum opus, published in 1998, “Kinetic Reactions in the Earth Sciences”. The opening motif of the book was : “Old geochemists never die; they just reach equilibrium”.

Lasaga’s darker side continued. According to a report in 2000 here, in 1986, Lasaga, then a Yale professor, was accused of inappropriate touching at a Hamden, Connecticut YMCA pool. The complaint apparently never went further than YMCA officials. Five years later, in the same pool, another parent complained to the staff that Lasaga had molested her son. Again that complaint went no further. As at 2000, Hamden police supposedly had no record of either complaint.

In the early 1990s, Lasaga’s demons intensified and his story now begins to be documented in case reports and judgements.

In 1991, he volunteered for a mentoring program with the New Haven Board of Education. The Board does not appear to have done any background checks, reasoning that, if he was “good enough” for Princeton, Harvard and Yale, he would be good enough for the New Haven Board. The young boy so mentored was accompanied by Lasaga to many events. According to a 2004 judgement, at some time between 1992 and 1997, Phillip Ihinger, a junior Yale academic now in Wisconsin, observed Lasaga and the abused child in delicto but did not do anything about it:

Ihinger, a Yale University professor testified at his deposition that at some point between 1992 and 1997, he saw the plaintiff with his pants down by his ankles in front of the defendant Antonio Lasaga in a classroom at Yale University. Ihinger did not report this incident to anyone until 1998, days before Lasaga was arrested for sexually assaulting the minor plaintiff.

In 1997, Ihinger was co-author with Lasaga in “Influence of water on nucleation kinetics in silicate melts”. In early 1998, Ihinger joined Jeffrey Park as co-leaders of Yale Geology and Geophyics course GG120b “Global Change”. Park later emerged from the debacle as a leader of the department’s effort to recover from the scandal and was quoted on a number of occasions in later articles. In the early 1990s, Park had co-authored several articles with Michael Mann, then a graduate student in the Yale G&G department, receiving his PhD in May 1998.

In October 1998, Lasaga’s secret life finally began to unravel as described in a 2004 appeal decision

On October 23, 1998, Victor Sletten, a Yale graduate student, informed Paul Gluhosky, a Yale employee responsible for ensuring that the geology department computers were functioning properly, that another student, Ian McGuinness, had notified Sletten that the defendant had downloaded child pornography onto his geology department office computer, referred to as “the sandbox computer.” 4  Consequently, Sletten decided to monitor the defendant’s download activity.

The “sandbox computer” refers to Lasaga’s geology department computer, which had a network address of “sandbox.geology.yale.edu.” Curiously, this is still shown as Lasaga’s email address in his profile as a participant in the NASA Astrobiology program.

The case report goes on to describe events leading up to Lasaga’s arrest:

From October 23 through October 30, 1998, Gluhosky continued to monitor when the defendant downloaded new material into the file directory in which the other images had been discovered.   On October 30, Gluhosky notified his direct supervisor, Professor Ron Smith, that he believed the defendant was downloading child pornography.   Smith instructed him to continue monitoring the defendant’s computer activity.   On November 2, Gluhosky and Smith met again and decided to contact Yale legal counsel, who referred Smith to Russell Kozak, a lieutenant with the Yale University police department, and Daniel Rainville, a detective with the Yale University police department.   Smith informed the officers of what Gluhosky had told him regarding the defendant’s computer activity.   On November 3, Gluhosky met Kozak and Rainville at the Yale police department and told them that he believed that the defendant had used his comuter to acquire child pornography.

Kozak and Rainville of the Yale police department immediately notified FBI agent Lisa Tutty, who in turn notified the US attorney. Warrants to search Lasaga’s residence at Yale (Saybrook College) were obtained:

On November 3, 1998, Lisa Tutty, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), met with Kozak and Rainville at the Yale police department.   Tutty reviewed and copied the materials, including the logs, compact discs, and printouts of the images that were on the disc that Gluhosky had provided to Kozak and Rainville.   At the end of the meeting, Tutty instructed the Yale police department not to do anything further until she talked to someone in the United States attorney’s office.   On November 4, Tutty telephoned Gluhosky and they discussed the same information that she had discussed with Kozak and Rainville.   During the conversation, Gluhosky informed Tutty that the defendant had downloaded more child pornography that afternoon.
On November 5, 1998, Tutty filed an affidavit in support of an application for “a warrant to search the premises known as 90 High Street, New Haven, Connecticut, also known as the residential quarters of the Master of Saybrook College and attached office ․ and to seize fruits, instrumentalities and evidence of and concerning violations of title 18 of the United States Code, § 2252A (a)(5) ․” 7  That same day, United States Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel signed a search warrant authorizing the search of “[t]he premises known as the residential quarters and office for the Master of Saybrook College, Yale University, located at 90 High Street, New Haven, Connecticut as depicted below.” 

On November 6, 1998, Tutty and eight to ten other law enforcement personnel arrived at the Saybrook College Master’s House at 90 High Street to execute the search warrant.   Because the defendant did not respond to repeated requests, telephone calls, and doorbell rings, the agents forced their way in through the front door.   As they entered the first floor of the residence, they encountered the defendant, who was descending the stairs.   Tutty informed the defendant that they had a search warrant for the premises and interviewed him while other law enforcement members searched the premises.

The raid led to the discovery of 150,000 child pornography files on Lasaga’s computers and to what was then described as Lasaga’s resignation (though he remained as a tenured employee for nearly three more years.) Yale authorities were at first evasive about the reasons. On Nov 11, 1998, the New Haven Register reported as shown below. Richard Brodhead, later the Duke University President who precipitously condemned the lacrosse team, told the Yale community that Lasaga was leaving for “personal reasons”. He described Lasaga as “an extraordinarily energetic and devoted master, as well as a popular teacher and a leading scholar in the field of environmental sciences”. An article by the Philadelphia Inquirer a few months later quoted Brodhead as saying that Lasaga was “a man of intellectual eminence. He’s not just another professor; he was a great citizen of this place.” The Nov 10 article in full:

The unexpected resignation of a Yale residential college master has touched off rampant speculation on the campus about the reasons for his abrupt departure.

School officials, however, are saying little about Antonio Lasaga ’s decision last week to leave his post as master of Yale’s Saybrook College.

Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead told students Friday Lasaga was leaving for ‘‘personal reasons,’’ and urged them not to inquire about his sudden departure.

A professor in the geology and geophysics department, Lasaga asked for and was granted a leave of absence from the faculty, Brodhead said Monday.

‘‘I announced he was leaving for personal reasons and that’s all I intend to say,’’ said Brodhead .

Lasaga has been replaced by Harry Adams, a professor at the Yale Divinity School who from 1987 to 1997 was master of Yale’s Trumbull College.

Adams said he received a call from Yale President Richard C. Levin asking if he’d be interested in filling in for the departing Lasaga.

‘‘The president didn’t say why he was leaving and I didn’t ask,’’ Adams said Monday.

Lasaga could not be reached for comment.

In a letter to the Saybrook College community, Brodhead describes Lasaga as ‘‘an extraordinarily energetic and devoted master, as well as a popular teacher and a leading scholar in the field of environmental sciences.’’

‘‘I recognize that this news comes as a surprise, but one of the meanings of community is that people turn to one another in times of transition,’’ the letter states.

Lasaga had been master of Saybrook College, one of Yale’s 12 residential colleges, for the past three years.

‘‘Nobody is saying anything about why he left, which is unusual,’’ Yale geology professor Jeffrey Park said.

Yale college masters oversee the daily operation of the dormitory facility and advise students.

On Nov 13, 1998, the Yale Herald had more on the story revealing details of the child pornography discovered at Lasaga’s residence. One of those interviewed was Daniel Schrag (who’s been mentioned from time to time here) then at Harvard. Schrag had been a former student of Lasaga’s and, like everyone else, was taken aback by the revelations.

Among the computer files were videotapes of Lasaga performing sexual acts with the boy that he had been mentoring. In mid December, Lasaga was arrested with the next events proceeding under seal because of the involvement of a minor. The Philadelphia Inquirer reviewed events in early 1999 here.

Adding to the confusion at Yale at the time, a month later, student Suzanne Jovin was brutally murdered, with her body was found about two miles from campus, in one of New Haven’s finest residential neighborhoods. She had been stabbed in the back 17 times.

In 1999, the boy (Joseph Doe) and his mother sued Lasaga, Yale, and the New Haven Board of Education, which oversaw the volunteer program. Lasaga did not contest the civil lawsuit and a large judgement was awarded against him. However, he had transferred his house to his (now divorced) wife and was by then in prison and the judgement remains unsatisfied. The claim against the New Haven Board was dismissed on the basis that they were not negligent in being unaware of the incidents buried deep in Lasaga’s past. The case against Yale turns mainly on whether Ihinger, then a young academic, was negligent in failing to inform authorities. Yale has denied liability. In 2010, Yale made a variety of motions seeking to dismiss the action, all of which were denied.

After his arrest, legal proceedings against Lasaga moved slowly for several years. There were both federal charges (child pornography) and state charges (sexual assault.) The federal charges got tied up pending constitutional arguments about the constitutionality of federal legislation on child pornography. Lasaga also contested the legality of both the search and warrant, claiming that the initial examination of his computer by the Yale IT students had been done without a warrant.

After his arrest, Lasaga refused to resign from Yale and continued on full pay as a tenured professor (“academic freedom”). For the first time in its history, under rather archaic provisions, Yale convened a tribunal to revoke Lasaga’s tenure. Even after this ruling, Lasaga filed an appeal to the Yale corporation. (Jeffrey Park is quoted in a contemporary article as exasperated.) In March 2001, Lasaga’s tenure was finally revoked and he was fired.

The rebuilding of the Yale department began in September 2001, with the hiring of more climate-related staff, inclduing Steven Sherwood and David Evans.

In February 2002, nearly 3 1/2 years since his arrest, Lasaga pleaded guilty. At his sentencing hearing, no one from Yale spoke on his behalf, but his former mentors and associates from happier times at Harvard and Penn State spoke up – see here here. Heinrich Holland, coauthor of his first article in 1971, spoke on his behalf, as did Hubert Barnes and Hiroshi Ohmoto of Penn State. The Hartford COurant quoted Ohmoto as follows:

I don’t believe Tony had any sexual interest in boys,” said Princeton Professor Hiroshi Ohmoto, suggesting that the abuse was merely a misunderstanding.

Prosecutor David Strollo summarized the professors contribution as follows:

In all my years as a prosecutor, I have never heard people deliver comments so disconnected with reality.

Lasaga has continued to write and publish academic articles. In 2002, just before sentencing, he stated:

But Lasaga said he does not see incarceration as the end of his career as a scientist.

“No matter where I am, I can always contribute [to science] at the top level in the world,” he said.

And, despite his conviction, Lasaga has continued to publish regularly in academic journals. One editor, Frank Podosek, opposed publishing his articles, but was overruled by his editorial board. One blogger described the situation in 2001 as follows:

Lasaga’s defenders have pointed out that no one has impeached Lasaga’s academic work, either in his role an associate editor of the American Journal of Science and editor in chief of Chemical Geology, or as the author of several important books on geophysics and kinetic theory. Frank Podosek, the editor of the academic journal of the Geochemical Society, has tried to prevent Lasaga from publishing more work, but has been overruled by his board. From the perspective of the academy, Lasaga’s personal failings are apparently a matter for the man to deal with in his own private way, and in no way prevent him from living as a respected member of the scientific community.

The blogger drew attention to the startling contrast between the apparently more severe attitudes of academics towards Bellesiles than towards Lasaga.

In the early 2000s, Lasaga renewed his association with Penn State’s Ohmoto (with whom he had published in the early 1980s. In 2001, he and Ohmoto made a presentation to the 2001 Goldschmidt conference entitled “Modeling the Long-Term Evolution of Atmospheric Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide”. Over the next decade, they would publish articles in the European Journal of Mineralogy (2003, 2004), American Mineralogist (2004), Journal of Physical Chemistry B (2005), Earth and Planetary Science Letters (2008), Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta (2008), Chemical Geology (2008), among others, and make conference presentations at the Goldschmidt Conference, AGU (2006, 2009) and most recently at the Geological Association of America (October 2011.)

Lasaga’s address for most of the period has been “State College PA 16801″. In one of his earlier papers, he was listed as “Geosolutions International”, a company owned by Ohmoto. More recently, he is shown as “Geokinetics, State College”.

What is the moral to all of this?

If nothing else, the case stands against the simplistic attribution of the Penn State scandal to football. Lasaga’s case had nothing to do with athletics but has a number of features in common with the football scandal, including the moral paralysis of a young employee. While Yale moved promptly to involve police in November 1998, that they were seeking to dismiss civil claims through motions in 2010 is hardly a contribution to healing the damage perpetrated by Lasaga.


43 Comments

  1. mondo
    Posted Nov 14, 2011 at 9:33 PM | Permalink

    Line 3: (all three being described by the prosecution as the most of touch he had ever encountered). I think that there may be a word or two missing.

  2. Ed_B
    Posted Nov 14, 2011 at 10:06 PM | Permalink

    Not much to say, other than genius sometimes has a dark side. It is tragic for all that he did not seek therapy for himself, if there is such a thing.

  3. justbeau
    Posted Nov 14, 2011 at 10:11 PM | Permalink

    Great work by Sletten, Gluhosky, Smith, Tuttle, Kozak, Rainville, and Strollo to put Lasaga behind bars.
    snip

  4. R Barker
    Posted Nov 14, 2011 at 10:37 PM | Permalink

    Connections!

  5. Sean
    Posted Nov 14, 2011 at 11:30 PM | Permalink

    Contrast this with the summary judgement by more than 80 Duke University faculty members regarding members of their lacrosse team. Faculty privileges indeed.

    • Charles
      Posted May 7, 2014 at 11:25 AM | Permalink

      I immediately thought of this, too, Sean. Small coincidence, I suppose, that Richard Brodhead, who stuck up for Lasaga at Yale, and who subsequently moved to Duke, was one of the key players in condemning the lacrosse players in that sorry event.

  6. Posted Nov 14, 2011 at 11:51 PM | Permalink

    Gives a whole new (and highly unsavoury) meaning to “academic freedom”.

  7. Ron Cram
    Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 12:26 AM | Permalink

    Wow. Just wow.

  8. theduke
    Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 12:59 AM | Permalink

    Joe Paterno might justifiably be accused of being an enabler in the current Penn State case. How many enablers at Yale and Penn State are there in the Lasaga case?

    I read a lot of newspapers and try to keep current on the affairs of the day, but I do not recall reading a report on the Lasaga case during the time it was in the news. I can’t avoid the news on the Penn State/Paterno case. And I have a feeling I will be hearing about it on a daily basis for months to come.

    Why such a huge discrepancy in coverage and emphasis?

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 9:39 AM | Permalink

      Re: theduke (Nov 15 00:59),

      I didn’t notice encounter any articles on the Lasaga scandal in national media. Contemporary articles referred to here were nearly all from university papers with a few from local papers, including one 2002 article from the New York regional edition of the New York Times (here) which is the closest that I saw to a mention in national press.

      Yes, the difference to the Penn State scandal is quite striking.

      • Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

        The way things come to prominence is a mystery. But eventually they do. The fact that abuse of minors can be tolerated or overlooked by ‘upstanding academic leaders’ is something that should not only attract national press attention but cause a lot of hard questions to be asked about how these institutions have reached such a pass.

        That’s the link with the very different concerns we have with climate academia. Atrocious leadership in one area is unlikely to excel in the other.

        And in the involvement of Neil Wallis in the phone hacking scandal still unfolding in the UK and in lending a hand to UEA’s dreadfully dishonest PR efforts post-Climategate we have another example where one part of the story is very prominent within the mass media and the other completely ignored.

        Till now. Such artificial boundaries between openness and self-censorship cannot forever endure.

    • Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 11:17 AM | Permalink

      Why such a huge discrepancy in coverage and emphasis?

      Everyone knows who Joe Paterno is… The general public and the media don’t know who… Uhm… What was the name of this scientists again????

  9. Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 1:58 AM | Permalink

    Steve: I had been doing precisely what you recommended but was offline overnight.

    • Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 4:33 AM | Permalink

      Spot on Maurizio. Sliming under the cloak of humour and anonymity is completely unacceptable, here or anywhere.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 8:34 AM | Permalink

        yes, I ask readers first to take care to focus on procedural issues rather than moralizing and second to avoid juvenile jibes, a couple of which have been deleted.

  10. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 3:42 AM | Permalink

    We are in strange territory here. Earlier I posted (while travelling and away from my library) that Lasaga was not a name tossed around at the time in the geochemical world that I infested. Given Steve’s longer header above, the reason is probably because geochemists fall into two main groups, those who aim to dicover valuable goods (exploration) and those who aim to publish (academic). This classification is a little rough on individuals in both groups and nothing personally insulting is meant to anyone.
    Because this is a blog about climate auditing, it comes to mind that there seems to be a personality type that inhabits the climate science world, just as in academic geochemistry. Maybe the strong point in common is the immersion of this psychological type in matters of science that are hard to impossible to prove. I know some eminent geochemists and geologists who would contest even the presence of water in silicate melts in Nature, let alone publish extensively among a close group that awards mutual medals. One wonders how much Science can be advanced with the apparatus and opportunities available in a prison cell. Is there such a place as a dreamland for scientists, a dreamland that forms into a clique with a cloak of respectability?
    It is too difficult to generalise far down this path, so we won’t go into the unacceptable private conduct area. In the exploration geochemistry world, I have never encountered strange sexual or intellectual conduct, not even gossip about it, nothing I can recall about anyone going to the little room to break big rocks into small rocks.
    Climategate was something of a window, albiet an alien one, into the minds of several. For example, read the sign-off from Keith on Mon May 12 21:26:29 2003. This was probably a joke, but Climategate did give a strong impression a cult behaviour; and when there are cults, who knows how strange they can be.
    Steve, thank you for once more drawing attention to the strange personal properties that can be acquired by some scientists. The one that bothers me most is the departure from the generally accepted “scientific method” in the loose sense. It seems that it is often accompanied by departure from the norms of general social conduct, such as a reticence to conduct an honest inquiry, a dogged defence of inventive methodology that is plausibly flawed and so on to areas seldom discussed.

    • Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 9:03 AM | Permalink

      Lasaga’s fortes were/are computer models and transferring common ideas from physics and chemistry to geology.

    • ChE
      Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

      A month or so ago, Judy Curry had a thread on a study of Jungian psychological profiles of climate scientists vs other physical scientists, and the results were quite striking. They are indeed, very, very different. It isn’t just your imagination.

    • Posted Nov 18, 2011 at 7:14 PM | Permalink

      Geoff, I followed the trackback here (also placed on at least one other thread). “The Policy Lass” has written Denialist Porn-Chum — A New Low where she compares Steve’s lead articles here to blood sprinkled in the sea to attract sharks.

      I was shocked at that blog’s reading into your words here, intents that I know, and that seem clear to all but a warped mind, are not there. Particularly I was shocked at the level of slime of this blogger, when further searches showed up this article of yours.

      I thought this needs pointing out here. I cannot stand folk going behind people’s backs to make comments, particularly not biassed, rabble-rousing comments like those. The only place where going behind someone’s back is reasonable, is in cases where, as here with Mann, the “front door” approach has been tried and has become impossible. In this case, sober examination of bloody data, as is done here, is necessary.

      I trust PL will check my words here. In fact, I would be happy to see this issue raised to its own thread here, not to inflame, but to douse an already-smouldering fire.

      • Posted Nov 20, 2011 at 4:34 PM | Permalink

        Just checked Policy Lass and found your recent posts there, also Rattus Norvegicus and Ford Prefect speaking to the echo chamber. Too much hysteria for replies to be any use, IMHO.

        I still think it deserves a thread here or at WUWT, to answer the lot, which makes exactly a clique such as you talked about, and includes such nastiness as this comment by Ian Forrester November 18, 2011 at 10:07 am

        What utter tripe Sherrington. Please give us evidence that you were “a participant in some of these investigations”. Reading about it on lying denier blogs does not count as “participation”.

        Are there no limits to the depths that you deniers will go to further your dishonest vicious treatment of climate scientists?

  11. Stacey
    Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 3:49 AM | Permalink

    In any profession or occupation reputation is based on many things but two of the most important are skill and trust.
    After having abused the trust placed on him by parents and his employer why would anyone trust anything else he does?
    That he continues to publish shows the moral dynamic the science rags are happy to support and promote. Ie if your are a pervert we’ll publish , if you pervert the scientific method we’ll publish but we’ll be damned if we will publish anything that does not agree with our editorial position.

  12. Speed
    Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 6:14 AM | Permalink

    Unlike real ones, virtual bloody corpses are often found under academic and clerical carpets.

  13. Sean Inglis
    Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 8:35 AM | Permalink

    There’s been an interesting (but not unexpected) reaction to this series of posts by other online commenters, and on Twitter.

    Most follow the same route of faux outrage that claims that CA has compared paedophilia and climate science to score points:

    ” Comments on McIntyre and Watts’ disgusting equation of pedophilia and climate science http://bit.ly/ujmlg9

    @AGW_Prof Scott Mandia

    Of course CA has not made that link, but instead calls into question the reliability and diligence of investigations into Mann, given the way that the (IMO far more serious) Sandusky incidents were handled.

    This isn’t a difficult distinction to make, and it’s clearly one worth recognising and exploring it’s implications.

    I’m left wondering in exactly what proportion stupidity and self-interest have to mix to allow someone to conflate and trumpet that idiotic accusation publicly.

    -snip

    • ChE
      Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 11:32 AM | Permalink

      That, btw, is a standard rhetorical device. Usually, it’s phrased that so-and-so is “comparing” [good guy] to [really bad guy]. This is a sloppier variant, actually claiming equation. In actual fact, this is comparing, and comparing isn’t inherently wrong; it depends on the basis of comparison. Since the basis is stated clearly (it’s about Penn State’s conduct in both cases), it’s a fair comparison. So that tweet fails on two counts.

    • steven mosher
      Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 1:42 PM | Permalink

      Mandia of course is making it harder for people to examine the real issue.

      It’s not that hard.

      When an engineer screws up one job we look to see what else he worked on.

      re inspection

      http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/11/13/2500577/inspectors-record-raises-questions.html

      • S. Geiger
        Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

        …not an engineering screw up in that case (?)

      • Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 2:32 PM | Permalink

        Re: steven mosher (Nov 15 13:42),
        What else who worked on?

        [Steve:] Penn State inquiries; Wendell Courtney; under the overall supervision and policy towards due diligence of Graham Spanier
        .

        Why exactly is CA writing about a Yale scientist (not climate) who was involved in pedophilia and was once at Penn State? Was there any failure of duty by Penn State there?

        Steve: last year, I discussed the BP oil spill which didn’t relate directly to climate. Given the public outcry about the Penn State scandal, it seems reasonable to examine responses to a somewhat similar scandal at Yale. Given the present concern over the victims at Penn State, it is somewhat disquieting that no attention seems to have been directed toward victim(s) at Yale and that Yale has not settled its civil liability.

        • Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

          Re: Nick Stokes (Nov 15 14:32),
          But how were Courtney and Spanier involved in investigating Lasaga?

          Steve: they weren’t. They were involved in the Climategate inquiry. I presumed that Mosher’s comment referred to the issues at Penn State, not at Yale.

        • steven mosher
          Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 7:14 PM | Permalink

          as steve notes they were not. I’m refering to the issues at Penn state and Mandia’s mis characterization.

        • steven mosher
          Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 7:12 PM | Permalink

          the entire penn state administration. I would imagine a lapse of this magnitude would automatically initiate an entire look at every process, every decision, a full blown check on everything.

          If you have ever been in an organization that was caught breaking the law or caught in some form of negligence than you would not be surprised by a full blown audit.

          Corporate responsibility.

        • John M
          Posted Nov 19, 2011 at 12:12 PM | Permalink

          Can you site me the NSF investigation finding that relates to encouraging others to delete e-mails related to a FOIA inquiry?

  14. Sean Inglis
    Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 8:37 AM | Permalink

    And of course there are parallels with Donna L’s expose: commenters obtusely ignoring the fact that she is investigating corruption of the process and not the “science” itself.

  15. ChE
    Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 10:27 AM | Permalink

    Shades of Polanski. Special creeps are special.

  16. Craig Loehle
    Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

    There seems a common thread to confuse status and accomplishment with virtue. For his former mentors and colleagues to claim it is just a misunderstanding when he is on videotape is just…astonishing.

  17. blueice2hotsea
    Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

    In 1993, Ihinger was also a co-author with Lasaga on “Significant T-t hysteresis of the nucleation rate of lithium disilicate–melt speciation kinetics?” Faculty Website

  18. John Whitman
    Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 3:43 PM | Permalink

    I see a common academic process, occurring almost instantaneously at the hint of trouble, involved in the PSU-Sandusky, PSU-Mann, UVa-Mann, CRU-Jones and Yale-Lasaga situations.

    All 5 cases, it can be argued, indicate academia’s inherent desire to internally control all knowledge and discourse about situations which they expect to reflect negatively upon their institutions and faculty. They loathe any compromising public knowledge wrt university faculty misdeeds; even when there are possible violations of an academic institution’s legal obligations to report faculty misdeeds to authorities; and even to report when their faculty may have produced non-faculty victims. If there are directly victimized children it is sickeningly abhorrent.

    Also, the academic administrations seemed consistently to expect the broader academic community to spontaneously step in to provide complete mitigation against external law enforcement investigations.

    Do I detect an academic presumption of being held to significantly more lenient legal standard than is applied to the rest of our culture? Definitely.

    John

  19. John Whitman
    Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 6:35 PM | Permalink

    Penn State’s board of trustees has hired a multinational public relations agency to help manage communications in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, according to Advertising Age.

    That publication reports that the university hired Omnicom Group agency Ketchum effective Nov. 6.

    The company helped with the trustees’ Nov. 8 press conference, according to the report. That is when trustees Vice Chairman John Surma announced that Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier were being fired.

    Link to article: http://www.centredaily.com/2011/11/15/2987731/psu-trustees-hire-ketchum-public.html#ixzz1dotLuhLo

    Does that sound familiar to CRU’s post-Climategate hiring the OO RR firm? The self-protection spin began Nov 8 at PSU.

    John

  20. PJB
    Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

    Had it been a janitor or a food services employee or even a TA, would there have been the slightest hesitation or the smallest support against total retribution and punishment?

    The issue is one of influence and appearances. The investigation must be thorough, no matter the subject or the issue. Complete disclosure and transparency assures accuracy and trust. Very germane as regards the Penn State execution of due diligence in their history of how to deal with “high profile” miscreants. The truth will out and justice will be served….eventually.

  21. Glenn Picher
    Posted Nov 15, 2011 at 7:18 PM | Permalink

    Who/what is Bellesiles? Only one confusing reference in the article to him/her/it.

    • Bill Drissel
      Posted Nov 17, 2011 at 1:45 PM | Permalink

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_A._Bellesiles

      Regards,
      Bill Drissel
      Grand Prairie, TX, USA

  22. Keith Sketchley
    Posted Nov 20, 2011 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

    Wow! Steve, I’m impressed by what you dug up and your writing to summarize it.

    Astute observation by Craig Loehle about confusing status and accomplishment with virtue. Being an “authority figure” lulls and intimidates people, and is used regularly by people like climate alarmists to deflect questioning. Organizational authority is used to discourage digging and revealing, be it universities, government agencies, or troubled companies.

    In Victoria BC recent news has been of a boy scout leader who was shuffled to another troop in the area with instruction to the head of that troop not to let him be alone with a boy. Um, how is that going to be enforced in activity that inherently requires interacting with boys? The “leader” has now being seriously investigated for several cases of sexual abuse of boys.

  23. Posted Nov 24, 2011 at 8:18 AM | Permalink

    This post is utter tabloid junk. you should get a job at the News Of The World

    • Posted Nov 24, 2011 at 8:33 AM | Permalink

      Phil, I see from your blog that you are a budding or would-be writer yourself. This is not written like a tabloid article at all, although the criminal acts it deals with, by a renowned earth scientist, are it is true classic tabloid fare. What I think is most important here is the comment from Lasaga’s prosecutor David Strollo:

      In all my years as a prosecutor, I have never heard people deliver comments so disconnected with reality.

      Strollo’s talking about senior, respected academics – academics that have shown far too much leniency to Lasaga throughout, including since his conviction. That is a real concern as we look at very different kinds of wrongdoing, including manipulation of the media, and the lack of proper oversight to correct such bad practice. But what Steve writes here has nothing to do with the terrible abuse of the UK tabloid tradition at the News of the World and other papers in recent years.

3 Trackbacks

  1. [...] I am gobsmacked — literally gobsmacked at the latest from McIntyre… [...]

  2. By "climategate" 2.0? - SLUniverse Forums on Nov 23, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    [...] and now Penn State, involved in Climate-gate I and the recent Sandusky scandal and the previous Lasaga scandal there certainly appears to be a pattern. To make any claim that the behavior of a university proves [...]

  3. By Antonio Lasaga的故事 | 无限江山 on May 27, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    [...] 来美国后,想起来这个人,就查了一下,发现他“进去了”。今后终于看到一个全版的:http://climateaudit.org/2011/11/14/lasaga-yale-and-penn-state/ [...]

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