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Earth Science

Michael Mann Vindicated (Again) Over Climategate 961

An anonymous reader writes "Michael Mann, a climatologist at Pennsylvania State University, was one of the central figures involved in the 'Climategate' controversy, which saw many private email conversations between researchers posted publicly. Now, an investigation (PDF) by the National Science Foundation has found "no basis to conclude that the emails were evidence of research misconduct or that they pointed to such evidence." Phil Plait points out that other investigations have found similarly that claims of Mann's misconduct took his statements out of context. 'A big claim by the deniers is that researchers were using "tricks" to falsify conclusions about global warming, but the NSF report is pretty clear that's not true. The most damning thing the investigators could muster was that there was "some concern" over the statistical methods used, but that's not scandalous at all; there's always some argument in science over methodology. The vague language of the report there indicates to me this isn't a big deal, or else they would've been specific. The big point is that the data were not faked.'"
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Michael Mann Vindicated (Again) Over Climategate

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  • A little late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:57PM (#37208258)

    The "scientists are tricking us" motif is already well cemented in the minds of the GW deniers. Coming out with vindications this far from the initial story is like farting in the wind.

  • Re:A little late (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:58PM (#37208282)

    If we assume cognative dissonance then it's safe to say that this will just be taken as additional proof that the establishment is self-serving/incompetent/oppressive.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:01PM (#37208318) Homepage Journal

    issue from the beginning. It was never a big deal to be who work in scientific fields.

    It's what happens when a 'news' channel is a arm of a specific ideological group.

  • Re:A little late (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kenboldt ( 1071456 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:03PM (#37208338) Homepage

    use of the term "deniers" is already well cemented in the minds of the warmers. Trying to convince them that we need to properly employ the scientific method is like farting in the wind.

    Science is NEVER settled, it is only through questioning and skepticism that science can progress.

  • Re:AGW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:03PM (#37208340)

    1: CO2 doesn't absorb as much IR as generally accepted theory states.
    2: Volcanoes emit more CO2 in one explosion than all of humanity in one year.

    There. That was easy. I think understand why people like to post these statements. It's so easy, you get to feel so smug, you don't need to read actual research papers or do real research..... Man, being ignorant is kinda cool. Maybe I can even make money off of it... although that field is awfully crowded right now.

  • Re:A little late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:21PM (#37208732)

    No, but at some point the evidence is clear enough and compelling enough to take action on.The accuracy of the assumption that dumping huge amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is harmful is much better supported than the notion that we can dump whatever we like without consequence.

    Had we taken heed 30 years ago and done something about it, the cost would have been substantially lower and ultimately if we were wrong it would be dirt cheap to go back to our old ways.

    That being said, deniers need to come up with some actual credible science if they wish to engage in this debate.

  • Re:A little late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:25PM (#37208814) Journal

    This is nothing more than a clever restatement of epistemological nihilism. Basically restated it says, "Because we cannot produce a perfect theory, we can have no theory whose predictions we can have a high degree of certainty about,"

    It's a moronic position when you consider that the same basic fact that no theory is complete applies to all theories, including theories like Newtonian mechanics and Quantum mechanics, both of which despite obvious missing pieces and flaws are among the most successful theories ever developed.

    A theory does not need to be complete to have explanatory power. Maybe you should stop trying to defend oil company shills and inventing bullshit claims about how science works, and, you know, actually learn how science fucking works.

  • by superwiz ( 655733 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:30PM (#37208912) Journal
    Only that the interpretation of the data was far fetched. That argument still stands. The "trick" that was the subject of the Climategate email was to splice 2 time series together and present them in the same context. In one of the contexts (presentation to the laymen) it was actually presented as one chart. What the conclusions of the "study" didn't mention is that one possible interpretation for discrepancy in the data is not an "error" (as they claimed) but that some of the variables in data collection were not accounted for. He was vindicated of the most brazen accusation. But the emails indicated the frame of mind of the scientists which is consistent with the accusation that they more than willing to overstate the certainty of their conclusions. What exacerbates this overstatement is their claim that peer-review is an adequate method for such fact finding. Peer review is only useful for repeatable experiments. Obviously, whether measurements are not repeatable. So peer review is wholly inadequate for this type of research. Fact finding based on non-repeatable events must be conducted through adversarial review. And that's precisely what they are trying to avoid.
  • Re:AGW (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lgw ( 121541 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:37PM (#37209024) Journal

    Further, if we're tlaking science we should stop using the term "greenhouse effect". A greenhouse works by stopping convection; its effect on IR radiation actually cools the inside.

    The Earth's climate is mostly convection as well, with IR radiation from the surface a lesser form of surface cooling. As blackbody radiation goes with the forth power of temperature, and the upper atmosphere is pretty cold, it's not obvious why surface-emitted IR warming of the atmopshere would make make difference to surface temperatures. The underlying mechanism also isn't explained very well - though the current Wikipedia article at least takes a stab at it.

    The "greenhouse effect" is in the same state that evolution was 20 or so years ago - the commonly available resources do such a poor job of explaining it that a bright skeptical mind comes away still skeptical. The archive made huge strides in explaining evolution, and addressing arguments in great detail, but AGW proponents mostly just assert that disbelievers are ignorant rubes, which is no way to convince anyone of anything.

  • Re:Bring it on! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:43PM (#37209138)

    Structures built on permafrost will have to be completely rebuilt once the permafrost goes. Permafrost is also sequestering significant amounts of methane. Don't knock the status quo until you have tried the alternatives.

  • by Arlet ( 29997 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:43PM (#37209142)

    Obviously, whether [sic] measurements are not repeatable.

    The weather itself is not repeatable, but the measurements around the world to establish the proxy record of that temperature is perfectly repeatable. You can still examine trees, coral, drill holes, and so on. In fact, since Mann's work, it has been repeated several times, confirming his original graph.

  • by ericfitz ( 59316 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:03PM (#37209514)
    Exactly! I was about to post the same thing.

    The initial investigation by the university was a whitewash, amounting to "they said they didn't do anything wrong". Look in my history for my comments on that. The NSF report (I just read the summary) seems pretty professional and thorough, but it "exonerates" Mann against a charge that no one seems to have made, i.e. that he falsified data. I have not read any such claim anywhwere credible (and in fact the NSF report explains at the beginning that their investigation was self-generated, not based on external complaints anyway, so I guess NSF just decided to look into it on their own).

    Most of the NSF report basically sums up as "NSF didn't fund his research so our standards don't apply". The whole problem with Mann and with Hadley CRU is not that they falsified any data, but (1) that their methods were incredibly biased towards the outcome they wanted (support for AGW), and (2) that a small amount of research by a small number of individuals was used to try to change public policy, out of proportion with the weight of the evidence, coupled with the clear intent to suppress conflicting studies and voices.

    I have no qualms with the NSF report. However it doesn't address my concerns with Mann or Hadley CRU.
  • Re:AGW (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:14PM (#37209720) Homepage Journal

    Here is the problem:

    People who believe that drek, will read it and agree. And it will propagate.
    SO it's important to note that, in fact, those statement are blatantly false. Not for the poster, but for the readers

  • Re:AGW (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:14PM (#37209726)

    > Now run those experiments,

    Yes, run the experiment..... oh yea, we can't because we don't have a couple of spare earths around.

    So everyone runs computer models and expects us to believe the results of that instead. But I have seen some of what passes for climate modeling and it is pathetic. And it has NEVER produced a testable result. There are ZERO predictions made by a 'reputable' climate scientist from 10 or twenty years ago that matched reality 10 or twenty years later. No model can predict the weather a day in advance 100%, none can predict a week or a month out with much skill and by the time you move from weather to climate the skill is pretty close to random chance, i.e. zero skill. There are no models that any scientist would be willing to bet his life savings on to predict the climate a year, five years or ten years out. Yet they every one line up in front of Congress telling us that we MUST spend trillions because they have models of the next hundred years that they claim to have great confidence in... oh and by the way another billion in research grants would be nice thank you very much. In the end science is about testable, repeatable results and there are none in climate science yet.

    AGW also isn't falsifiable so it isn't science yet, only faith. Don't believe me? Think I'm trolling? Then show me. Tell me how one puts AGW to a falsifiable test. And remember that such a test won't prove AGW if it passes but it has to be such that a fail would stick a fork in it. Think Michelson - Morley [] and classical physics.

    And as for the NSF whitewashing Mann, what did anyone expect? The whole AGW industry, including the NSF, is so invested in Mann that to discredit him would end the gravy train for all of them. But after his hockey stick fraud anyone with eyes knows he is nothing but a scam and anyone who refuses to disown him is in on it. Anyone with half a clue can look at that and see it was so wrong it couldn't have been an honest mistake; it just doesn't pass the smell test. So non-scientists like myself look at all of the scientists who refuse to speak up and wonder if they are all just bottle washers and button sorters more interested in keeping the grant money flowing than seeking the Truth and kicking the infidels out of the Temple of Science. Science has no place for frauds and by covering up obvious fraud the reputation of all science suffers. The world is a complex and dangerous place and we really need to be able to trust scientists.

  • Re:AGW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GooberToo ( 74388 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:22PM (#37209844)

    The main problem is, we honestly have no clue what's going on. Anyone who says we have this all figured out is either an idiot or someone pandering for funding.

    There is lots of contradictory data and that's ignoring the fact that some of the data is extremely suspect from the start. Hell, some of the data has several multiples more noise the then signal they hope to detect. When questioned, literally the official response is, "Shhhh....noise doesn't effect our signal." Which is, of course, a major WTF??!?

    Seriously, should we learn more about it? Absolutely! Should we be wary of absolute claims? Absolutely! Again, we honestly have no idea what's going on. Some 20% of climatologists admit this. Some 80% of meteorologists admit this. Please note, meteorologists don't get their funding from "Climate change grants."

  • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:28PM (#37209962) Homepage Journal

    actually I don't know what excuse they're on these days, all of those have been disproven.

    All of them. It doesn't really matter which, since the conclusion ("We don't have to do anything") is foregone, and the rest is just details. Disprove one and they'll switch to a different one, and when you disprove that they'll jump back to the first, hoping you've forgotten about it.

    They're still stuck with explaining how they, an ignoramus who would have failed high school algebra if they hadn't cheated off the nerd in the next row, is somehow more informed about climate modeling than the scientists. That's where the Global Socialist Conspiracy comes in.

  • Re:A little late (Score:1, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @02:49PM (#37210282)

    Newtonian physics is good enough we can use it to fling probes to the edge of the solar system. That proves its predictive power. The computer I'm typing this on would not work if quantum mechanics wasn't pretty close to the final theory of the small end of the universe.

    Name one useful prediction of AGW theory. Now tell me how many attempts have been made to falsify it. Hint: zero because such a test can't be devised and wouldn't be funded if it could. Such a test can't be devised because AGW makes no testable predictions.

    > actually learn how science fucking works.

    Can't speak for the original poster you were flaming, but I know how science fucking works. That is what causes an anger like a thousand exploding suns to well up inside me every time I see this shit about AGW. The damage you guys are doing to the reputation of science with this false religion makes me want to punch you guys right in the nuts. We NEED science. We need scientists to be believable to the general public. We need a wall between science and politics more than a wall between politics and religion.

    The science is settled. Bullshit, and anyone saying that can't be a scientist or care one whit about it. Science is always one result away from a revolution. One testable, repeatable result trumps any theory. Every. Fucking. Time. Or it isn't science anymore. The only people who want a consensus are politicians and when I look at the warmers that is all I see, politicians trying to wrap the same stale socialism in the cloak of science. And I see scientists too afraid of losing grant money from the politicians to speak up.

  • Re:AGW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cartman ( 18204 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @03:19PM (#37210712)

    Nope, a greenhouse works by preventing convection. The article you linked says this, and not what you claimed.

    You may not have read the entire article you linked. It starts off by saying: "If you've ever heard an explanation of how a greenhouse works, it was most likely based on the differing transparency of glass to solar and thermal infrared radiation", but then the article goes on to show how that explanation is incorrect.

  • Re:AGW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Myopic ( 18616 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @03:35PM (#37210960)

    I work at a weather company. We are very good at predicting the weather a day out. More than ten days and it slips into random territory.

    Luckily for the climate scientists, that has absolutely nothing to do with their ability to predict the climate. You know how December is colder than July? That's climate. Trying to say we can't predict the climate is like saying that next December could be warmer than the following July. If you believe that, or if you pretend to believe that in order to make stupid points in internet forums, then you are a blockhead.

  • Re:A little late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sarhjinian ( 94086 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @03:42PM (#37211056)

    The money scientists have "gobbled up" amounts to a rounding error on the balance sheets of the petrochemical industry. So, yeah, if we use the "follow the money" reputational test the scientists still come up looking better.

  • Re:A little late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Myopic ( 18616 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @03:43PM (#37211066)

    Science is never theoretically settled, but I'm bored by people pretending that suddenly tomorrow gravity could become a repulsive force, or electrons could suddenly double their mass.

    No, dude, some science is settled. In fact, a lot of it is. AGW isn't quite one of those things, but it is above the threshold of reasonable denial, until a mountain of evidence appears to overturn it. Until then, there is only unreasonable denial.

  • Re:A little late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wolfemi1 ( 765089 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @06:19PM (#37213142)
    True, one testable, repeatable result is all that is necessary to falsify something. What would you propose? Your definition of science is really really narrow. Is astronomy not science, because we can't perform experiments on black holes at the center of the galaxy? No, because we observe natural phenomena, make theories as to whether they would happen, and then test the implications of those theories by other observations. Just like with AGW.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky