• September 3, 2015

Penn State U. Panel Clears Climate Scholar of Research-Misconduct Allegations

Closing a four-month investigation, a Pennsylvania State University committee said Thursday that there is "no substance" to allegations that the prominent climate scientist Michael E. Mann had deviated from accepted scholarly practices in his research on global warming.

The committee's unanimous 19-page report ends one of a series of investigations growing out of last year's "Climategate" controversy, in which e-mail messages stolen from servers at the University of East Anglia were used to cast doubt on the findings and integrity of climate-change scientists. None of the investigations has turned up evidence of wrongdoing to date.

The Penn State investigation was prompted, the university said, by complaints the university received about Mr. Mann after the theft from "alumni, federal and state politicians, and others, many of whom had had no relationship with Penn State."

Mr. Mann, a professor of meteorology at Penn State since 2005, is best known to the public as the co-creator of the 2001 "hockey stick" graph showing that global temperatures, after remaining stable for several hundred years, rose sharply in the 20th century. He has been a frequent target of those who question whether global warming is real, and is now the focus of an investigation by Virginia's attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, into whether Mr. Mann relied on manipulated data to seek grants while he was a faculty member at the University of Virginia.

In January, a different Penn State committee cleared Mr. Mann of allegations that he had suppressed or falsified data, deleted or concealed information, or misused privileged information. But that committee recommended that a separate panel review whether Mr. Mann had "seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities."

The panel's report on Thursday said he did not. It did say, though, that he had been "careless" about showing other scholars' unpublished research to third parties without permission.

On his Web site, Mr. Mann posted a message saying he was pleased by the report, which he said, "should finally put to rest the baseless allegations against me and my research."


1. gharbisonne - July 02, 2010 at 08:15 am

Oh good. When I get a MS to review in future, I'll totally ignore all of the journal's waffle about confidentiality. Passing it around my pals so we can collect a rationale for rejecting it will merely be considered 'careless'.

2. prje8199 - July 02, 2010 at 11:27 am

well of course you can't kill the latest rage in pop-culture - even if it means academic excellence and ethical scholarship must suffer. After all

3. prje8199 - July 02, 2010 at 11:32 am

Sorry, my last message went unfinished - fat fingers...to continue...After all, any genuine debate about global climate change is all buut dead on campus because it has become a political issue with popularity, not scientific reality at stake.

I don't think Dr. Mann committed any wrong doing - I simply think he over-stated his limited evidence and soon after political voices, not academic minds, immediately demanded an end to all debate over the issue.

4. dank48 - July 02, 2010 at 11:32 am

But now, when the boys come by, what's Tom Sawyer going to have them coat the fence with?

5. megginson - July 03, 2010 at 09:56 pm

Re gharbissonne (#1): In fact, reading the report shows that the panel went beyond that, by describing the action as "careless and inappropriate"; The latter part should also have been included above, since it is obviously relevant. The report also follows this with this passage, which is included here FWIW:

"The Investigatory Committee would like to note that Dr. Mann, after being questioned by the Investigatory Committee about this issue, requested and received confirmation that his assumption of implied consent was correct from the author of one of the papers in question. This 'after the fact' communication was not considered by the Investigatory Committee in reaching its decision."

But regarding the science: A good, nontechnical read for those who worry that the science on this isn't rock solid is Mark Bowen's "Thin Ice". I highly recommend it.

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