Federal Official: Monnett suspension unrelated to “drowned” polar bears

A polar bear swimming

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As some WUWT readers theorized yesterday, something, perhaps even more egregious is the root of the suspension. The AP obtained an internal memo from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, sent via email circulated to staff.

From the Sacramento Bee:

JUNEAU, Alaska — A federal official says the suspension of Alaska wildlife biologist Charles Monnett is unrelated to a 2006 article Monnett wrote about presumably drowned Arctic polar bears.

Michael Bromwich also says it’s unrelated to Monnett’s scientific work and instead a result of new information on a separate subject recently brought to light.

========================================================

Related WUWT posts:

Read the investigation transcript:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/07/29/inspector-generals-transcript-of-drowned-polar-bear-researcher-being-grilled/

Announcement of suspension:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/07/28/al-gores-drowned-polar-bear-ait-source-under-investigation/

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172 thoughts on “Federal Official: Monnett suspension unrelated to “drowned” polar bears

  1. It would be symptomatic for the whole CAGW mess if the information about this ridiculous polar bear paper came out by accident during the investigation of other mischief.

  2. Am I the only one that thinks that there is something weird going on here? The man has been suspended and not told why.

  3. Polar bears can swim. Don’t believe the hype.

    “A polar bear swam continuously for over nine days, covering 687km (426 miles), a new study has revealed.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_9369000/9369317.stm

    “…a radio-collared adult female polar bear in the Beaufort Sea made a continuous swim of 687 km over 9 days…”

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/032201r34q534455

    Polar bears have survived an ice free Arctic Ocean. Don’t believe the hype.

    Evidence of an ice free Arctic ocean during the Holocene

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2010.08.016

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2007AGUFMPP11A0203F

  4. So the science is sound. But the doubt mill got some mileage out of the story and that’s all the oil companies really need.

  5. No, the whole thing is weird. I was wondering what could have triggered the investigation because I didn’t believe for a moment that bad science alone could be the reason.

    Wait and see.

  6. Of course, the paper is still crap, now that we’ve had a chance to read it and to see Monnett’s explanation of his methods.

    But if it was unrelated, why were the investigators asking about it? Or did PEER selectively edit the transcript?

    Still very odd.

  7. Is it necessary to (re)produce a transcript with so many natural pauses and breathing spaces?

    “Yes, uh, we only looked at that superficially, uh, and not in any, uh, great detail.”

    The questioner is quoted flawlessly, I note.

  8. So the two issues are completely separate and it was only speculation that he was being suspended because of his work related to the polar bear. Shouldn’t there be a correction to the original posting? It is quite misleading, especially if someone accidentally stumbles upon it while browsing the web.

  9. Rhoda, there has been “weird things going on around here for many years”! I wouldn’t doubt he is trying to figure out which of many things has been discovered. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

  10. @Rhoda Ramirez July 29, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Monnett reportedly has been told why he has been suspended, but not specific charges.

    http://www.adn.com/2011/07/28/1989382/arctic-scientist-under-investigation.html

    “The federal agency where he works told him he’s being investigated for “integrity issues,” but a watchdog group believes it has to do with the 2006 journal article about the bear.”
    [...]
    “Investigators have not yet told Monnett of the specific charges or questions related to the scientific integrity of his work, said Jeff Ruch, the watchdog group’s executive director.”

    This is fairly standard procedure, in both the government and private sector. In fact, prior to investigation, specific charges would be — to put it gently — premature.

    Heck, I knew a guy who was suspended, then fired without being told even this much (and in violation of his contract); once into arbitration, the company did give a reason, but proceeded to change its tiny collective mind every day of hearings.

  11. Well, it sounds like someone got to whoever it is who thought Monnet’s piece was crap.

    After all, if the quality of the science were at issue James Hansen would have been out on his backside without a pension long ago.

  12. PhilJourdan says:
    July 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Then why were they grilling him on the polar bears? The plot thickens!
    =======================================================
    yeah right……
    We spent half of our interview on something that didn’t matter………….

  13. Mike says:
    July 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm
    So the science is sound. But the doubt mill got some mileage out of the story and that’s all the oil companies really need. Not sure what angle you’re trying to play here with the oil companies. Did you know that some of the intital funding for the CRU was from “Big Oil”? Did you know they don’t have a problem with taxing carbon–even if they’re the ones producing it? Shucks, no: They figure another tax just binds their relationship with the government that much tighter. Can you say “collusion”?

    PS. Find anybody that’s a Skeptic that receives a check from “Big Oil” for their work as a skeptic/critic and I’ll match it.

  14. Yep, nothing to see here… move along folks.

    Why did we depose him over the polar bear study?

    We were testing the polygraph.

  15. Uh, it’s too many parking tickets. Yeah, that’s it! He had too many parking tickets, violating the division’s moral turpitude standards.

    They have to can him on charges unrelated in order to maintain the illusion that his work stands up to real scrutiny. Then they can say.. “Sorry, we can’t comment on that, because he doesn’t work here anymore.”

  16. Dunne at 1:16 p.m.

    I agree. Typically it is not necessary for transcripts to include things like “uh”, “um”, etc. These are normal pause sounds in English (other languages have different pause sounds), that are used as the individual searches for a word. It is not necessary to include them in a transcript. Precious few of us would have the ability to respond to a series of questions without including plenty of pause sounds, and it is generally considered unfair to reproduce quotes with lots of pause sounds in order to make the person sound foolish.

    The one exception might be if in a proceeding there were a question about whether the responder was trying to avoid questions or whether the very manner in which the responder responded was relevant to the issue at hand. In that case, one might look at the pause sounds and try to draw some kind of conclusion about the responder’s conduct during the interview itself. If we’re just trying to find the underlying facts, however, it is not necessary to include all the pause sounds, and really amounts to a mild form of ad hominem

  17. I guess he has been suspended for another lie, not that one.

    Liars must have good memories to keep track of their lies.

    “A liar begins with making falsehood appear like truth, and ends with making truth itself appear like falsehood.”- William Shenstone

  18. What does this mean?

    That same day, July 13, a stop-work order was issued for a polar bear tracking study, entitled “Populations and Sources of Recruitment in Polar Bears.”

    I’m probably just ignorant, but how does one recruit a polar bear?

  19. Mike what science that set out observe something else saw some polar bear bodies in the water and then went out on a speculation ‘all you can eat fest ‘.

  20. Still weird that they’re so tight-lipped about the specific allegation. It would appear that maybe doing something questionable that could influence an endangerment finding is a big no-no, but I can’t say for sure.

  21. PhilJourdan says:
    July 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm
    Then why were they grilling him on the polar bears? The plot thickens!
    ======
    +1

  22. Re:Shaun Dunne says:July 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Is it necessary to (re)produce a transcript with so many natural pauses and breathing spaces?

    Yes. The transcript is a verbatim, official record of the session.

    The questioner is quoted flawlessly, I note.

    Probably because the interviewer is more practiced at these kind of ‘viva voce’ style sessions. If an academic can’t defend their work at that kind of level then they perhaps have no business managing $50m in funding. The polar bear session is for us possibly a bonus, for the interviewers more likely establishing sloppiness and perhaps a similar lack of robustness when it comes to accounting for where that $50m ended up. Following that kind of money is worth investigating, the shoddiness around the polar bear paper is just a windfall.

  23. It may well be unrelated, but given the transcript of his interview with the IG, all they asked about was the polar bear papers. Nothing else.

    If it is unrelated, we’ll have to wait and see what they suspended him for.

  24. Uh , Mike , Monnet himself admitted that his work was “sloppy” . Except within the discipline of climatology , sloppy science is not sound science . Read the interview .

  25. ha ha ha!
    this is very good. they know what it means if this political groupie in a lab coat gets called to account, don’t they? it means that their poster bear suddenly becomes the skeptic’s poster bear.
    it’s like losing your queen in a chess match. when poster.bear no longer elicits donations from the gullible but concerned, when the previous believers and check signers see poster.bear as a reminder of their gullibility – they gonna be angry.
    poster bear with a hockey stick comes next – and everything poster.bear touches is tainted.
    they wired poster.bear into the psyche by repetitiousness and post normal insistence – now it’s there and can’t be removed. but now it will have the completely opposite meaning.
    poster bear says: only you can prevent agw fraud. crush all phonies dead out.
    the coming days will be a treat – i can hardly wait to hear the shuddering cricket chorus of romm, gavin, revkin, monbiot and the rest.
    delingpole should have some fun comments on this, too.
    sharpen the mocking needles, then, cuz this will be the one if they can’t stfu the message – and it seems they aren ‘t going to be able to do that this time.
    finafreakinly – head on a post!

  26. I still cannot believe the transcript is real. If it is then “Beargate” is surely on the cards.

  27. Purely speculative on my part, but when $50 million is being spent, misappropriation of public funds is always a possibility.

  28. The real story is that the Polar Bears didn’t drown, but were executed by the DOJ to shut them up about the GunWalker program. Polar bears are squealers.

  29. Mike says:

    Oh please… the science is sound? Let me boil it down for you. They flew over 11 square miles and saw 3 dead bears. They then extrapolated and “calculated” the number of dead bears that must be “out there” in the areas where they didn’t fly over. They further asserted that those bears had died from drowning due to the AGW-caused loss of terra-firma habitat (magnificent bit of veterinary medicine).

    Using the same logic I should be able to convince my bank that my mortgage is fully paid. Perusing 1 week of entries on my bank statement, I note that there is one mortgage payment and therefore I can deduce that the other 51 weeks of the year must also have had a mortgage payment. Ergo… debt free. Yahoo!

    Using the same “sound science” they could have just as easily asserted that 3 bears were drowning per hour. To paraphrase Hitler: if you’re going to pull something out of your arse, might as well make it big.

  30. In the source transcript hosted by PEER, the inital pages replay the introductions and the request from PEER for a complete verbal transcript. As awkward as it is to read those ‘uh’s and ‘uh-hm’s, that’s typically how most of us speak in conversation, when we’re not consciously presenting in a public speaking mode. Anyhow, PEER’s request suggests to me the reason for every vocalization.

  31. So the same day he is suspended they also stop the Polar Bear tracking project and we are supposed to believe it is unrelated? Why did they talk about it so much when he was questioned?

    This cult will do anything to save face.

  32. Just read the full Monnet interview transcript and the interviewer was really interested in those dead bears. It seems that three were seen on the set transects, and one off. Details were kept in note form as they didn’t have a input code for dead Polar Bears on the computer program they were running on the laptop in the plane. Apparently no dead bears were seen in earlier years, according to verbal communications Monnet had with other team leaders, something the interviewer seemed surprised by.
    Monnet might have ended his career with his present employers with his rant at the end, he might question the wisdom of that in the future.
    An interesting look into how tax dollars etc are spent.

  33. The quote I noted from the interview referred to it lasting over one and a half hours – the pieces i’ve seen quoted so far don’t add up to that much, so we are only seeing certain bits. I would not trust PEER’s extracts to be complete since they are – by definition – making a case for Monnett being hounded – although they have had the side-effect of showing just how poor the science was in the paper. I am not sure how much of the transcripts are now available – Anthony again focussed on the questions around the polar bear study.

    i still think the investigation is about something else/more – you don’t sent two investigators to Alaksa to ask about polar bear numbers.

  34. My apologies, it’s Monnett with two ts and was that three or four dead Polar Bears? (sorry couldn’t resist the last bit).

  35. There is no truth to the rumor that Monett is under investigation for being a real Alaskan. None at all.

  36. Actually in the transcript it says exactly what they are investigating:

    ERIC MAY: Well, the scientif- – well, scientific misconduct, basically, uh, wrong numbers, uh, miscalculations, uh –

  37. dunno why it’s said that they didn’t reveal the topic under investigation because they did.
    “7 General‟s Office is that we receive allegations, and we go out
    8 and investigate those allegations. And the reason we are here
    9 today is that received, our office received some allegations
    10 pertaining to scientif- – potential scientific misconduct
    11 perpetrated by you and your, uh, coworker, Mr. Gleason, okay?
    12 So that‟s what the scope of this interview is going to be is
    13 your participation in the bowhead – the BWASP program?”

    http://www.alaska.boemre.gov/ess/bwasp/xbwasp.htm

    that’s their transectual adventure, um, ah, er, you know?
    the polar bears were apparently not the subject of the study, so one can make believe the investigation isn’t about polar bears…lol
    but it is.

    “ERIC MAY: Well, and, and let me – it, it – so incidental
    17 sightings of marine mammals, which are not the focus and target
    18 of the survey, do not represent, statistically speaking, the
    19 valid data and, therefore, wouldn‟t it be questionable as to why
    20 the data was used to extrapolate such new scientific findings as
    21 your manuscript presented?”

    it IS all about the polar bears and nothing but the polar bears.

  38. Monnet saw them from a plane and presumed they drowned, from that he deduces the survival rate of the remaining bears, if any. Well, if that isn’t a scientific observation of the first order, I have never seen one.

  39. gnomish says:
    July 29, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    ha ha ha!
    this is very good. they know what it means if this political groupie in a lab coat gets called to account, don’t they? it means that their poster bear suddenly becomes the skeptic’s poster bear.
    it’s like losing your queen in a chess match.
    ***********
    More like having your queen taken by a pawn on your back rank. Your queen becomes his.

  40. Monnet might have ended his career with his present employers with his rant at the end, he might question the wisdom of that in the future.

    Unless he expects to get some Tides prize for it. Watch him show up in six months making twice as much at Greenpeace.

  41. This is messy but you can see how it could happen. IF for example (and this has NOT HAPPENED) Bob Brown or Christine Milne of Greg Combet were found out / caught at doing something seriously wrong or inappropriate you can imagine the headline and the mileage the media and blogs would get out of it. I seem to remember a quote regarding Caesar (or his wife) needing to be above reproach…… Maybe we need to sit and wait to see what it is this chap has actually done / of is charged with having done……

  42. “OLD44 says:
    July 29, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Monnet saw them from a plane and presumed they drowned, from that he deduces the survival rate of the remaining bears, if any. Well, if that isn’t a scientific observation of the first order, I have never seen one.”

    Not sure if there was sarcasm there or not.

    If not, Monnet’s problem in this paper is his sample size. 4 dead bears out of 11 seen swimming in a single year. Since his survey area was only about 11% of the total and his observational time frame was only a single year, he really didn’t have a lot of data to go on. As a “scientist” he really should have known better.

    But lack of data never stopped a good ecomentalist story.

  43. the transcript was great. peer reviewed my arse. fraud is more the truth on this.

    …….call me doctor …rich !

  44. Monnett saw polar bears every year, mostly on land.

    ERIC MAY: Okay, understood. During your participation in the BWASP, did you observe – well, you did observe polar bears.
    CHARLES MONNETT: Absolutely, every year.
    ERIC MAY: Okay, can you elaborate on your observation of polar bears and what years and be a little bit more specific?
    CHARLES MONNETT: What years?
    ERIC MAY: Well, I mean, what was the first year you observed a polar bear?
    CHARLES MONNETT: Oh, I don‟t know. I imagine I saw a polar bear the first year I was out there, so that would be ‟99, but I don‟t know. I don‟t remember. I didn‟t review the reports. That‟s, that‟s too far back.
    ERIC MAY: Okay.
    CHARLES MONNETT: We saw polar bears under three sets of circumstances generally. One was polar bears out on the ice, offshore, which were dispersed over in a large area. Another was polar bears on barrier islands all along the coastline, and then there were a couple of places, particularly one at Kaktovic, where the bears concentrated at a bone pile, a bowhead whale, it was, it was left over from the harvest. The Natives would drag all the carcasses, and the bears would gather around there. In a normal year, you could count on seeing 20 or 30 polar bears at certain times of the year there. So all you had to do was go look; they‟d be scattered around the village. And so we made a point to – another was Cross Island, which is also a, a whaling site, and so we made a point to visit those sites a, a couple of times to document the numbers. And we also made it a point to record any bears we saw out on the ice. And we had a few behavioral variables that we – that were in the database specifically for polar bears. One was if they were on a kill and, otherwise, I think they were pretty general.

  45. Where’s ‘Creaky’ Gates? Only ‘Mike’ dared pop his head up with a slightly fuzzy attack on the story, NOT a ‘defense’ of the ‘scientist’.
    Even the faithful, dyed in the wool Warmists are staying away from this one…wow!
    As DirtyOilBerta…said above – the Polar Bear can now be used as a rod to beat the Alarmists!
    (pardon the mixed metaphor)

  46. Rhoda Ramirez says:
    July 29, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Am I the only one that thinks that there is something weird going on here? The man has been suspended and not told why.
    In my experience, when Government funds are involved, and the research starts to look dodgy, a suspension is normal operating procedure if The GAO becomes involved, which means an audit of everything; fuel, computer time, money, food, etc.

  47. I’m betting it’s not about the bears.

    I think it’s about the billing for the flight times. When you’re paying millions of dollars for rental and fuel for aircraft, it becomes trivially easy to start adding in “extra” flight times for things like vacation trips (or, more likely) kickbacks from pilots and air charter services for billed flights that were not actually taken… which would make the questions about the “bear” flights more pertinent. If you list events that are supposed to have taken place on flights that didn’t happen, it’s easy to get caught. They could probably make some really good headway if they cross-referenced flights with weather and ground/ocean visibility records.

  48. Because the guy has been proved a liar doesn’t mean his lies about global warming are lies.

  49. Re Brian R says:

    “If not, Monnet’s problem in this paper is his sample size. 4 dead bears out of 11 seen swimming in a single year. Since his survey area was only about 11% of the total and his observational time frame was only a single year, he really didn’t have a lot of data to go on. As a “scientist” he really should have known better.”

    There’s nothing wrong with what he reported. He pointed out that his extrapolation to 27 bears dead was under the assumption that the observations were of 11% of the population. It’s perfectly reasonable to consider what you’ve seen in an area in terms of the greater area.

    That is quite an important thing to report – that if the other 8 transects were similar to the one they surveyed that indeed the number of dead bears was probably about 27. I mean that’s only what anyone reading the paper is going to calculate anyway. Noone in their right mind is surely going to expect all the dead bears just happened to fall in the transect they covered.

  50. This is good, page 36 of the interrogation.

    http://www.peer.org/docs/doi/7_28_11_Monnett-IG_interview_transcript.pdf

    ERIC MAY: Okay. Well, your manuscript, so when you put this together, was it peer-reviewed?
    CHARLES MONNETT: Oh, yeah.
    ERIC MAY: By whom?
    CHARLES MONNETT: Uh, well, it was, it was reviewed here. 25 Um, Lisa Rotterman, my wife, who is a, you know, Ph.D. ecologist, um, reviewed it and, and, you know, she took the first cut. 1 Cleve Cowles, um, gave it a thorough read. I think Paul Stang 2 did, who‟s a manager, and I wouldn‟t call that a peer review. 3 That‟s a, that‟s a political correctness review.
    ##############
    First he mentioned his wife, then the political correctness review.
    Is this guy really in charge of 50 million dollars when he speaks like this in a deposition??
    “We were out there flying around, dude,” page 67
    “Well, that‟s not scientific misconduct 19 anyway. If anything, it‟s sloppy.” page 83, the 50 million dollar man accuses himself of being a sloppy scientist
    #############
    ERIC MAY: Uh, in your, in your manuscript, you use a 11 lot of, um, like, uh, “we speculate,” “we further suggest,” “potential,” “may pose.” If you –
    CHARLES MONNETT: Yes, meticulously so (laughing)
    #############
    “Oh, yeah, four dead polar bears. Okay, that‟s kind of cool.” (yeah sloppy dude!)

    But after a slow skim of this whole thing I am not sure what he has done wrong, except being a terrible verbal communicator.

  51. Mike says:
    July 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    So the science is sound. But the doubt mill got some mileage out of the story and that’s all the oil companies really need.
    ============================================

    Mike, did you read the same transcript that I did? More, history has already deposited the paper in the dust bin of posterity. Have there been more storms there? Yes. Is there less ice? Yes. Have we found more polly bear floaters? No. Then the paper was nothing but an unintelligible blathering of gibberish. It should have never been published by anything. And, it certainly can’t be passed off as science.

    Let’s review…… they saw 4 dead polar bears in the water. One day and only one day, after years and years of flying over the same areas.

    From that we extrapolated, 1) that they drowned. 2) that shortage of ice was part of the causation 3) there were probably many more occurrences. 4) this is likely to increase in frequency.

    That’s not science. That’s not even rational reasoning.

  52. Beesaman says:
    (…)and was that three or four dead Polar Bears?

    I reckon there were three polar bears and one Cartesian bear, which is nothing but a polar bear under a different coordinate system. :)

  53. nofreewind says:
    July 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    ………
    But after a slow skim of this whole thing I am not sure what he has done wrong, except being a terrible verbal communicator.
    =====================================================

    He’s not done anything (that I can discern from the transcript) but produce horrible science. I believe the horrible science should be cause for dismissal. My goodness I hate to think how much we’re paying him to look for whales. If he wants to produce horrible science have him do it on someone else’ dime and time.

  54. nomnom says:
    July 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm
    “There’s nothing wrong with what he reported. He pointed out that his extrapolation to 27 bears dead was under the assumption that the observations were of 11% of the population. It’s perfectly reasonable to consider what you’ve seen in an area in terms of the greater area.”

    Where are the bodies?

  55. gnomish says:
    July 29, 2011 at 2:21 pm
    i can hardly wait to hear the shuddering cricket chorus of romm, gavin, revkin, monbiot and the rest
    Wait no longer.
    livescience.com just posted an article entitled,”Polar Bear Researcher Suspended, Spurring Alarm”
    Here is a small taste:

    The suspension has caused “outrage” in the climate science community, NASA Goddard climatologist Gavin Schmidt told LiveScience.

    “If the suspension has anything to do with the OIG or the anonymous complaint about the polar bears then this is completely inappropriate,” Schmidt said.

    Maybe Gavin is next on the investigative chopping block.
    That wouldn’t be an outrage, that would be righteous !

  56. Let’s see… in the interview transcript Dr. Charles Monnett indicates he’d
    gotten a “personnel action” (warning? reprimand?) for not completing
    the work on an annual report.

    This was at the time his was working on his paper part of the time, working
    on his two postings for meetings, managing a slew of programs which
    included where some of the funding he oversaw went, interviewing
    former observers or their “Team Leaders”, and still putting in a lot of
    time getting to and flying the transects.

    The side questions relating to him being visually farsighted and not
    using field glasses or a spotting scope to make observations of whales
    up to a mile away at 1,500 ft +/- altitude are unsettling.

    I have the feeling a great many readers of the transcript wonder if
    Dr. Monnett could pass an unannouced “physical” exam.

    Dude.

  57. Derek Sorensen says:

    What does this mean?

    That same day, July 13, a stop-work order was issued for a polar bear tracking study, entitled “Populations and Sources of Recruitment in Polar Bears.”

    I’m probably just ignorant, but how does one recruit a polar bear?
    ————————————————-
    Recruitment is the term for adding new members to a population, usually through reproduction. Its usually used when reporting whether a population is growing or declining. “The recruitment for polar bears has been good over the last 40 years” indicates an increase in the population and that population may not be yet in equilibrium.

  58. R.S.Brown says:
    July 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm
    I have the feeling a great many readers of the transcript wonder if
    Dr. Monnett could pass an unannouced “physical” exam.

    Dude.
    =====================================================================
    That was my first thought……………………..LOL

  59. “Then why were they grilling him on the polar bears?”

    How much money was “spent” on the study?

    It’s about money, how it is acquired, how it is spent, and if spent efficiently. The Feds probably leaked the Polar Bear interview part for laughs..

  60. cirby says:
    July 29, 2011 at 4:58 pm
    I’m betting it’s not about the bears.

    I think it’s about the billing for the flight times….
    ————————————————————————————————–

    I think you are very close to the true reason. They probably realized that this guy was spending millions of dollars and has almost nothing to show for it. The polar bear paper is just on of the most glaring example of this.

    You spent how many millions of dollars and how many years and you only saw 11 bears?

    Exposing the fraudulent science is just a very nice bonus. If this was just about disproving the effects of AGW you would never see a federal official involved in this current administration and you would certainly see the circling of wagons. This is about misappropriation of funds and everyone else involved is running.

  61. Now that i’ve read the whole transcript I suspect that the commenter above is correct. His rant against the agency at the end of the interview accusing the agency (the ex MMS) of scientific misconduct is the reason he was placed on administrative leave. Just my guess, unless they found kiddie porn on his hard drive.

  62. Rattus Norvegicus

    His rant at the end of the interview was well after he was suspended. I don’t think that’s directly related unless he had started ranting about it prior to the suspension.

    And he’s hardly the only scientist to rant against MMS – they had a 50% turnover rate in the polar areas, a lot of which was apparently due to restrictions on actual science.

  63. Uh , Mike , Monnet himself admitted that his work was “sloppy” .

    No, he didn’t. He was characterising the nature of the allegation, differentiating it from mendacious. He was making the point that if sloppy calculations is what he is accused of, then that does not require a formal investigation, which examines allegations of deceit.

    The level of calculation in Monnett’s observational note is so basic that even mathematical illiterates (including myself) could work it out in seconds.

  64. I guess he has been suspended for another lie, not that one.

    Seems someone hasn’t learned the the old saw about assumptions.

  65. http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=1503

    Suspended on ‘full pay and benefits’ – I suppose that this is marginally less pathetic than being paid to whip up fear among school children – but what happened to ‘employment at will’ in the United States of America?

    Do free market concepts only apply to the people doing productive work*?

    *’productive work’ (for those readers from governmental institutions) means – something which is honest, is customer-centric, commands a market price leading to a profit, and makes other people’s lives better and/or more productive.

    Thanks to people like Monnett, Schmidt and their ilk – a large percentage of the US labor force are currently looking for productive work.

  66. I know it was a goof, but shouldn’t the last line of Rattus’ comment be snipped? Monnett may be something a joke himself, but he is a real, live human being. Comments like that aren’t appropriate.

    {WUWT moderates with a very light touch. Comments like the one you refer to are routinely apporved; it is up to those with another point of view to deconstruct them. Eventually, readers are able to sift the truth from the chaff. That is science in action, and it is the reason that WUWT is the internet’s “Best Science” site. ~ dbstealey, mod.]

  67. So when does sloppy science become misconduct? Never?

    “We saw one dead bear and one live bear, we extrapolate that 50 % of the bear population died”.

    I disagree with readers that an even (random) distribution across the entire research area can be presumed. This event required a convergence of a number of factors: the storm, the sea bound bear population, and their flight which covers 11 % of the area had to find them within the required time frame.

    Do bear populations cluster? I would have thought so.
    Did the storm cover the whole area as is presumed? Do they normally? The same intensity across the whole area?
    How often do they fly?
    How often do they fly WHEN stormy weather is around? They admit this stops them flying, they can spend weeks in the cabin (darts? poker? administering Wikipedia?)

    The transcript describes one flight, or transect, in which the bears were observed swimming. Then a storm hit. Then they went out again in pristine weather (better than Hawaii) and observed the carcasses. Ideal viewing weather following a storm. How often does this occur? Often stormy weather persists and you’d never make a flight whilst the bears are out there getting dunked.

    I don’t believe they couldn’t have observed one dead bear in all the years prior to this. These aren’t immortal bears outside of global warming triggered bear ravaging events.

    And lets remember their primary reason for being there, for doing these flights, was to record whale movements. So this whole bear stuff was peripheral to their main purpose and wasn’t even recorded in the main computer log. Obviously this fact doesn’t bode well for the assumption that previous flights would have recorded dead bears if they were seen, they might not have bothered. In fact it’s admitted that some observers just didn’t have the ‘eyes’ of experience to record some aspects that others did.

    It would be interesting to note how many and what papers have been released by this division in total. I hope their $50 million budget hasn’t only produced ‘drowing bear’ papers when that isn’t even their reason for existing.

  68. Monnett complains about suppression of scientists (the rant), and the agency puts him on administrative leave?

    The guy who reports on dead and swimming polar bears, the one everyone here wants to see fry, is complaining of suppression of his and others’ views and work by the Federal Government Agency he is working for?

    You sure this is the narrative you want to spin, Rattus?

  69. How much money was “spent” on the study?

    None. Monnett’s observations were made during flights scouting for bow whales – that was the main area of research he was undertaking at the time. Details on other wildlife were recorded as well.

  70. I don’t believe they couldn’t have observed one dead bear in all the years prior to this.

    This was the first time dead bears had been observed floating in the open sea. Read the original report. It tables previous observations, which Monnett used as a reference.

  71. nofreewind says:
    July 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    …”But after a slow skim of this whole thing I am not sure what he has done wrong, except being a terrible verbal communicator.”
    ==============
    Well said, now we await the true meaning of the words, an explanation is sure to come.

  72. Hmm. This wasn’t bad science. The paper wasn’t anything more than an unusual observation noted by someone experienced in a particular field. You get these sorts of paper in ornithology (for instance) all the time. The paper/note doesn’t purport to be anything more than it actually is. Not all science is double blind 10,000 subject experiments you know. Perfectly reasonable thing to publish: he flies over an area for years and never sees dead polar bears in the water, and then manage to get in the air after a big storm and see 4 temporally close together. That is an unusual observation. The sort of thing that should be recorded for other polar bear researchers to know about in the future.

    (It should be noted that the “survival rate” appeared in the discussion without any confidence intervals and not as a statistic in the results and as Monnett himself points out in the interview, there just wasn’t enough data to do anything else.)

    Where Monnett has come unstuck is that other politicized parties have taken this paper as something more than it is – an interesting observation – and promoted it as hard evidence of the impending human induced mass extinction of polar bears. Now someone doing normal science is getting hammered for what others have made of his data.

    I don’t quite see why so many on here want to get stuck into Monnett. He’s the wrong target. The polar bear sob story is frustrating, but no real scientist would take Monnett’s note and make anything of it other than an interesting observation.

    As I said in another comment on the Monnett case, It’s not just skeptics who get a raw deal if they cross their backers. He who pays the piper calls the tune. This is pretty common when there are vested interests involved, e.g. the Pusztai GM case and many other unpublicised cases that I know about from colleagues.

  73. Abysmal Spectator says:
    July 29, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    As I said in another comment on the Monnett case, It’s not just skeptics who get a raw deal if they cross their backers. He who pays the piper calls the tune. This is pretty common when there are vested interests involved, e.g. the Pusztai GM case and many other unpublicised cases that I know about from colleagues.
    ======
    Try another blog, comments like this get digested before breakfast here.

  74. Paul Deacon says:
    July 29, 2011 at 3:16 pm
    gnomish says:
    July 29, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    ha ha ha!
    this is very good. they know what it means if this political groupie in a lab coat gets called to account, don’t they? it means that their poster bear suddenly becomes the skeptic’s poster bear.
    it’s like losing your queen in a chess match.
    ***********
    More like having your queen taken by a pawn on your back rank. Your queen becomes his.

    Glad someone(s) actually plays chess (well).

  75. That is quite an important thing to report – that if the other 8 transects were similar to the one they surveyed that indeed the number of dead bears was probably about 27. I mean that’s only what anyone reading the paper is going to calculate anyway.

    No it is not what anyone reading is going to calculate. Not even close.

    Let’s make a quick and dirty back of the envelope test. Assuming we did say that they were drowning through some warming related event. Then we might say take a Poisson distribution, put the mean drownings (lambda) at one per transect, then calculate the chance that any transect has at least 4 drowned bears. The probability is 1.9% for each transect, so about 12% when allowing for the fact there are 8 transects. In other words the 95% margin for error reaches down as low as about 7 drowned bears from our original observation. (Of course the upper estimate could be as high as 80 easily.)

    In fact if a wildly unexpected result, which is never repeated, comes to light the first thing I think is that it is an outlier. The assumption that the other transects have similar rates doesn’t come into it.

    Noone in their right mind is surely going to expect all the dead bears just happened to fall in the transect they covered.

    Why not? The cause could be something entirely discounted in the whole discussion about which we are unaware. Some disease or local weather condition.

  76. Abysmal Spectator says:
    July 29, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    “I don’t quite see why so many on here want to get stuck into Monnett. He’s the wrong target… no real scientist would take Monnett’s note and make anything of it other than an interesting observation.”

    Indeed. The real story here always has been how this nonstory – some polar bears, like some people, have always drowned – was transformed into a giant AGW scare story. Same for the ‘cannibal polar bear’ story.

    The best thing about this development is that it exposes the inconvenient truth that the whole myth is only based on four dead bears, in one place in one year. Shouldn’t the place be littered with them by now?

  77. @Abysmal Spectator

    You seem very well informed.

    Where would you rate the science of “I saw three dead polar bears on one day a couple of years ago” in relation to the science of crop circles, cattle mutilation, or ufology?

  78. How about this. What is the likelihood of a group of guys who like shooting things chartering a boat in Alaska to do some exotic hunting probably interested in whales or walrus or anything. As luck would have it they come across a polar bear swimming, shoot it, drag it aboard. The carry on over a day or so to see if they can find any others and they find two more. They do the same and pose for photos on the boat. Now they can’t take the bears back to the mainland as they would get into trouble so they, say, extract the canines as souvenirs and dump the carcasses over board.

    Pretty unlikely. How unlikely? Once in 23 years unlikely? Hmmm.

  79. Drave Robber says:
    July 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    I reckon there were three polar bears and one Cartesian bear, which is nothing but a polar bear under a different coordinate system. :

    rofl!!

  80. Re Mooloo says:
    “(Of course the upper estimate could be as high as 80 easily.)”

    Exactly. And that’s why the number is important, he is conveying the point that the 3 dead polar bears he observed were in just a 11% section of the area, and therefore it is highly likely there are more than 3 dead bears in the total area. As far as sample error goes, it will go both ways.

    He is not stating the numbers are definite, in fact he’s clear that accurate estimates are not possible given the sample size.

    Precise numbers are not required for the point of the paper though. The paper is really about the subject of bear mortality from storms during low ice conditions. The paper claims, whether it’s true or not, that this mortality factor on bears has not been considered before. The paper links to other studies that only consider bears use of energy when swimming long distances, not the impacts of storms.

    The study seems more than just ok to me, it is even beginning to look quite good as it’s bringing new considerations into light. It’s saying we cannot ignore the impact of storms on swimming polar bears during low ice conditions. That low ice conditions will increase in the future has obvious impacts on this.

  81. With a changing climate we aren’t likely to see _new_ things happen but find the same things happen at a different frequency and/or intensity.

    We don’t go from no dead bears one year to 30+ dead bears the next.

    One part of me wants to go easy on this guy, he shouldn’t be used as the fall guy for everyone else’s rubbish, but then again, gotta start somewhere…. he (they, 2 authors) shouldn’t have attached the climate change link in the discussion, they flew their flag right there.

  82. Hey, dude.. tears of mirth down my cheeks on reading the transcript. Having now seen one comedian posing as a scientist I am extrapolating that all (climate or green) scientists are comedians. And my wife peer reviewed it…

  83. cirby says:
    July 29, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    and others, I agree, the cost of all the flights seems most likely to be where the real interest is. The polar bears are just a delicious side dish.

  84. Many are commenting here without having read the transcript. Others are upset by
    the ums and ahs and the odd apostrophes. Here are a few extracts. Sensitive souls please avert their eyes

    ERIC MAY: How many observers are on a flight? I mean, who’s actually on the plane during a mission?
    CHARLES MONNETT: A standard flight would be the, the pilot, the copilot, a Team Leader, who was an observer, a person that was designated as an observer, and it usually was a right-left aircraft thing. And then we would have the – I don’t remember what we called them, our data, uh, entry person, and that person was at a window and might or might not look out the window. Um, usually if there, if there was lots going on, they were too busy entering data, um, but if something interesting was seen, they might look out the window, or if it was slow, they might look out the window.
    [...]
    ERIC MAY: Okay. At the end of the year, um, is there a final report?
    CHARLES MONNETT: There’s supposed to be an annual report, and when I inherited the project, Steve was two years behind because, unfortunately, our managers don’t, they don’t, they don’t recognize the amount of work adding something like this on generates.And then, uh, it took me a very long time to do this report, just because I was too busy. And we had, uh – if you look in the reports, you’ll see that they’re very heavy on graphics and, and calculations and things and summary tables. And we had programming for a while that helped generate a lot of that, but primarily we worked with a GIS contractor, someone, you know, that, that the unit here I had a contract with that came every day and would work with data and produce graphics and summaries and that for us. And that person’s time was, um, heavily in demand and, and I got pretty good support, um, up to about ‘07.
    And then they got rid of them shortly after that. So I had – that – they don’t even have software – so we’re out of the mapping business. [note: Monnett had previously mentioned that he was sometimes grounded by bad weather and spent 30 days “in his room”]
    [...]
    CHARLES MONNETT: Okay, how come you’re so, so careful about your own title, but you won’t call me “Doctor”?
    LYNN GIBSON: Ah.
    ERIC MAY: Oh.
    CHARLES MONNETT: (Laughing).
    ERIC MAY: All right, I apologize for that, Dr. Monnett.
    CHARLES MONNETT: I never use that except for when somebody denies me it, then I – (laughing).
    ERIC MAY: Oh, understood. All right, Dr. Monnett. All right, Dr. Monnett,
    [...]
    ERIC MAY: Okay. And did these observations all get recorded or –?
    CHARLES MONNETT: No. Um, well, I think the, um – they got recorded, but I can’t remember whether we punched them in the program. We were recording them in our book, because that’s one of the anomalies I was talking about that we really didn’t have any way to signify a dead polar bear. And so rather than have that in the database when really what we wanted to analyze were live polar bears – remember, the stuff is all automated.
    ERIC MAY: Right.
    CHARLES MONNETT: And so somebody has got to go through and delete it, um, or do something, um, and I, I don’t remember whether it’s – we recorded the location in the database or just wrote it down. I’m guessing we recorded the location, uh, but it would have been shown as a live bear.
    CHARLES MONNETT: So the, the, the drowning part, the dead bear part is in our books. It’s not in the database. I, I, I think – and I don’t remember whether the bears are in the database or not at this point.
    ERIC MAY: Okay.
    CHARLES MONNETT: They might be.
    MONNETT: – you know, in the, in the profession, you write little Notes. Jeff Gleason, I don’t know if you saw some of the stuff. When Jeff was here, he was being, uh, very creative in these. He, he saw some mallards eating salmon one time in a stream up north, and he checked all the literature and found that nobody had ever documented that before. And he wrote a Note, and it got published in some little crummy journal.
    ERIC MAY: Okay. Well, your manuscript, so when you put this together, was it peer-reviewed?
    CHARLES MONNETT: Oh, yeah.
    ERIC MAY: By whom?
    CHARLES MONNETT: Uh, well, it was, it was reviewed here. Um, Lisa Rotterman, my wife, who is a, you know, Ph.D. ecologist, um, reviewed it and, and, you know, she took the first cut. Cleve Cowles, um, gave it a thorough read. I think Paul Stang did, who’s a manager, and I wouldn’t call that a peer review. That’s a, that’s a political correctness review.

  85. Thinking outside the box…
    He said his observations included ships, that he could see down to a depth of 100ft, and that he reported to people other than his employers.
    He could’ve been spying on the US navy for a foriegn power. Given that potential, the US authorities would want to be sure they had a “sound”
    man in that post.

  86. I read most of the transcript and it confirms what I have always assumed about environmentalists, if the shameless lack of respect for the truth by the mainstream Green organisations reflects the professional standards of this branch of “science”.
    He sees four dead bears once and extrapolates a population mortality rate!
    At that standard Kipling’s Just So stories, such as “How The Leopard Got His Spots” would have been a PHD thesis.

  87. Read the transcript of the interview with Eric May and cry! It has to be explained to Eric May that 9×11=99 which is close to 100. With due respect to Mr May he did admit he has not been trained in scientific method but junior school mathematics? I find it hard to believe but it is there in plain print. Mr Eric May should be ashamed of his ignorance and if he is a fair representative of his profession then our civiliastion has no hope.

  88. jason says:
    July 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm
    “Beargate”

    Oh, did you have to do that !

  89. From the article written by AP’s Becky Bohrer: ” Monnett and Gleason were conducting an aerial survey of bowhead whales in 2004 when they saw four dead polar bears floating in the water after a storm. They detailed their observations in an article published two years later in the journal Polar Biology.”

    If they were out there getting paid to count whales and then it turns out they spent their time writing a paper on drowning bears and global warming, that could indeed have raised some questions about funding, scientific misconduct, etc……

    Best,

    J.

  90. Mike Hodder:
    “Read the transcript of the interview with Eric May and cry! It has to be explained to Eric May that 9×11=99 which is close to 100. With due respect to Mr May he did admit he has not been trained in scientific method but junior school mathematics? I find it hard to believe but it is there in plain print. Mr Eric May should be ashamed of his ignorance and if he is a fair representative of his profession then our civiliastion has no hope.”
    It is not relevant whether May is arithmetically challenged in not realising that 99 is near enough to 100, but that how can anyone speak as a scientist while spouting nonsense.
    Times have obviously changed. When I was a graduate student fifty years ago, fatuous nonsense like this would have been gleefully ripped to shreads by one’s collegues. I saw it happen. Nowadays it is complicit silence until someone sends in the Feds. Good luck to Monnett with the support that he will get from his erstwhile friends!

  91. Will the Warmsters circle the wagons, or throw him under a bus? I can bearly wait for the outcome to all this.

  92. If they were out there getting paid to count whales and then it turns out they spent their time writing a paper on drowning bears and global warming, that could indeed have raised some questions about funding, scientific misconduct, etc……
    Not necessarily. I work in mycology and while pursuing collections and research on the original project, I find other interesting things not directly related. And I research them a bit and write about them as well. Do you think a researcher should intentionally forget or ignore anything not related to the original project, that was observed while researching it? That would be a stupid idea.
    The problem isn’t whales OR bears, the problem is the shoddy collection data method and the fact, that the paper was made a political icon.

  93. Mike Hodder (3.44am) is shocked by the investigator’s ignorance of arithmetic. But the whole 10.8=11, divided into 100 = 9 calculation was entirely irrelevant. Eric May is trying to understand why Monnett brings it up. My impression is that Monnett is embarrassed by the simplicity of the calculation (4 divided by 3) and tries to make it seem more complex (4X9 divided by 3X9) in order to face down the investigator. And did you get how he insists on being addressed as “Doctor”? And the paper peer-reviewed by his wife? Of course, none of this is in the press reports.

  94. Updates:
    1) The suspension is related to Monnett’s oversight and management role in respect to a research project being performed by Andrew Derocher, Ph.D., University of Alberta, entitled “Populations and Sources of Recruitment in Polar Bears: Movement Ecology in the Beaufort Sea
    2) A little web research show that Dr. Derocher is a signatory to WWF ads as a “concerned scientist”

    Observations:
    What in the heck were Monnett’s so-called lawyers (for of them on the call) doing in letting him ramble on off-topic when he is the subject of a criiminal investigation? Note, after the investigator had indicated that the interview was complete, no less? Legal incompetence.

  95. Given all we know about how this administration behaves in matter related to AGW, can anyone really imagine they would have allowed anyone to go after this guy over concerns about the veracity of his drowning polar bear claims?

  96. there was a really Bad report on polar bears swimming and losing babies on the trip due to no ice..they admitted the females were tagged, but they had no way to tag the young, and so no g/tee the young were even alive or swimming. that greensection of a pommy paper, about two? weeks ago.. remember going off about the crummy assumptions at the time.

  97. Here is my thought about the investigation: If the funding was about whales but significant time on that dime was spent on polar bears, that is misuse of designated funds. If the person under investigation wanted to study polar bear mortality in severe weather, it should have been under its own funding, not “borrowed” funding. Each research proposal must include a beginning budget and then a financial statement on how that money was spent. Since this money was for whales, I wonder how they recorded the time and money spent chasing bears on the whale’s dime?

  98. “So the data recorder allowed you to log polar bears …on land, polar bears swimming, but not dead polar bears?”

    “…normally, if the bear was alive, we would record it… up to that point, we had never seen a… dead bear to record. Um, we did have swimming … as one of the behavioral choices, because whales swim.”

    Sometimes, whales die. And this program for the study of whales didn’t allow recording dead whales, but did allow recording all living bears? Did it allow for the recording of whales on ice? On land?

    How does bear tagging affect their survival chances? Any studies on that?

    Michael Bromwich, named in the PEER complaint of July 28, was appointed director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (previously MMS) by Obama in June, 2010. He’s a litigation attorney with an interesting background [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_R._Bromwich] [http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/president-obama-announces-bromwich-fix-oil-industry-oversIght].

  99. Drave Robber says:
    July 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    “I reckon there were three polar bears and one Cartesian bear, which is nothing but a polar bear under a different coordinate system. :)”

    Nah, it was a Schrödinger bear.

  100. ZT wrote: “@Abysmal Spectator

    You seem very well informed.

    Where would you rate the science of “I saw three dead polar bears on one day a couple of years ago” in relation to the science of crop circles, cattle mutilation, or ufology?”

    Before I start, a bit of a disclaimer – I have nothing to do with polar research or climate research, and I am an AGW skeptic, just in case anyone thinks by defending Monnett that I am some CAGW shill. I’m also assuming the transcript is indicative of what this case is all about, and that relevant game changing stuff isn’t being hidden by PEER.

    What seems to be happening here is that a note on an unusual observation is being given a weight that the authors probably never intended it to have, both by the people commenting on this topic and by the CAGW crowd. This makes boths sides look slightly deranged.

    Skeptics get it in the neck enough without providing ammunition to the other side by showing an ignorance of what is reasonable practice, misrepresenting what is in the interview transcript (as well as being reviewed by his wife and colleagues, it was also reviewed by three anonymous reviewers for the journal and this was clearly stated in the transcript), and suggesting that he has been remiss in his duties of counting bowhead whales because he published a note on incidental observations that arose during his work. Burn the witch! Yeah! I get annoyed when I see other skeptics acting like “axe grinding cranks, ” as it makes the message easy to dismiss.

    So here is my perspective based on my experience:

    In certain parts of science, especially in some areas of biological sciences, because of the way in which experimentally unrepeatable observational information arises, these sorts of notes are quite common and acceptable. (They wouldn’t be acceptable in solid state physics, or biochemistry where unusual observations are amenable to experiments – context is everything.) You’ll get notes reporting sightings of species in strange places, or unusual behaviour for example. Unusual observations should be recorded. They are viewed as anecdote by other scientists. Not all published science is equal and that is recognised by every practitioner I have ever met. Politicians and campaigners, on the other hand, don’t seem to make these distinctions, and that is where the strife starts…

    As a reviewer, you’d take the nature of the paper into account when recommending it for publication or not. The article is very brief, reports an observation and its context. If this was my area of expertise and I had received the article for review I would probably have said “yes, publish it.” On the other hand, if Monnett and Gleason had submitted something twice as long and tried to make some grand claims with attendant statistical analyses based on 3 or 4 dead polar bears, I would have torn the thing to shreds.

    If I had been subjected to the interview that Monnett had been, I would have been lawyered up and reacted more or less the same way he did – nervous, defensive, confused and wary about the strange line of questioning, and when finally realising that all it was about was some high school math in a throwaway note (that had admittedly become emarrassingly politically prominent) would have been thinking “WHAT THE F$#&?!”, been pissed off I had been grilled and was being judged by someone who had difficulty with fractions and understanding context, and had a good ol’ rant like he did at the end of the interview. And then, when it had all sunk in, I’d have been pretty disturbed about just how much the piper wanted to call the tune.

    As I said before, in my opinion that last bit is the important conclusion of this debacle. In my experience happens too much in “modern” science. I certainly know of people who have had their careers destroyed because they spoke out on some topic or another, either by their funders (medical science is rotten in this respect) or by powerful colleagues with a different viewpoint. That is the real poison in the system.

    I apologise if this perspective is too balanced and reasonable.

  101. David says:
    July 29, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    I don’t believe they couldn’t have observed one dead bear in all the years prior to this.

    =====

    Maybe polar bears prefer not to swim when they are sick and don’t swim unless they can see a hauling out place (maybe on an ice flow) they are sure they can reach. That’d mean that you’d only see dead bears as a result of unexpected events.

    The general assumption in these polar bear threads seems to be that polar bears are really dumb and will voluntarily set off on swims they can’t complete. I can’t think of one reason to believe that they are either stupid or suicidal.

  102. Abysmal Spectator (July 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm) says:
    “I apologise if this perspective is too balanced and reasonable”.
    No need to apologise. And I won’t apologise for pointing out that Monnett comes over as arrogant, defensive, confused and incompetent. He has trouble explaining why he divided three by four, when the investigator clearly thought it would be more reasonable to divide three by (3+4).
    But who cares? He admits it was only a note in a “crummy journal” (his words) that made headlines round the world. And if that fourth dead polar bear had been on transect instead of off (or was it?) he’d have had a survival rate of zero instead of 25%. And if he’d seen just one more cadaver, there’d be a negative number of polar bears. And if he thought people were drawing unwarranted conclusions from his three dead bears, why didn’t he correct them? Trillions of dollars are being spent on the basis of trash evidence like this. Monnett, and his supporters, and the hundreds of journalists who’ve blindly reported nonsense like this, have a lot to answer for.

    There’s a much clearer and more readable transcript of this superb piece of surrealist theatre at

    https://sites.google.com/site/mytranscriptbox/home/20110223_pe

  103. @Abysmal Spectator

    No doubt you are a very balance and reasonable person. However, you did not answer the question:-

    ‘Where would you rate the science of “I saw three dead polar bears on one day a couple of years ago” in relation to the science of crop circles, cattle mutilation, or ufology?’

    And no doubt your reams of obfuscation are well intended. I have no complaint concerning your comments. I also have every sympathy with Monnett and his arduous professional chore of disposing of the tax payer’s $50m in the most inane fashion possible.

    However, his speculations concerning the causes of unusual observations can rightly be questioned, IMHO. That after all is the scientific method – or does that not apply in this case?

  104. Pamela Gray says:
    July 30, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Having read a good portion of the transcript already, I think we can take Dr. Monnett at his word that his team spent relatively little time looking for polar bears. Which is why his extrapolations and assumptions about polar bears (a “fifth-grade” calculation of proportions, which Monnett admitted is “not a statistic”), are only so much horse manure.

  105. I drove from Uniontown, PA to Cincinnati, OH and saw six (6) dead deer along side the road. As far as I could see to either side of the highway, there were no live deer. Ergo, the survival rate of deer between Uniontown and Cincinnati is zero (0) percent. I wonder if I can get that peer reviewed by my friends and get it published? Heck, if I say it was an unusually warm day and blame it on climate change, maybe I’ll even get a government grant. My wife was traveling with me so I could probably slip her a few thousand dollars to help me with my calculations. 100% dead means 0% survival doesn’t it? Or maybe it’s 200%, or 67%? Dang, these numbers really confuse me.

  106. I read most of the transcript…

    He sees four dead bears once and extrapolates a population mortality rate!

    He sees four dead bears in the open water for the first time in a quarter of a million kilometers of flying time over a decade, and checks aerial data for the decade previous (comparing apples with apples) and finds this is the first record of dead bears in open water. He also sees more bear swimming in the water in that year than ever before. Recorded data shows 12 bears swimming in the sea for the period 1987 – 2003. In 2004, one year alone, Monnett spots 10 bears swimming and four dead. Only three of those fall within the transect, so he omits the fourth and does a straightforward extrapolation, noting the estimate is insufficient due to lack of data.

    Monnett notes that the region has been warming and the ice retreating, suggesting this may put stress on polar bears. That’s hardly controversial. He speculates what may occur if the ice continues to retreat in a warming world.

    Monnett does NOT present a case for AGW in his note, but notes that if global warming continues to occur, bear populations may become further stressed.

    Later on, his work referenced by other groups with an environmental agenda. This is not his fault.

    Where would you rate the science of “I saw three dead polar bears on one day a couple of years ago

    That’s not science, nor does it reflect the study, I would rate it ‘poor’ scientifically, and ‘irrelevant’ WRT this discussion.

    There’s plenty of grist for deconstructing Gore’s polemical film, but Monnett is a bystander.

  107. Jesse, if you want to analogise, spend 9 years driving that stretch of road and record what you see, live deers and all. Then compare your observations with those made by others for the decade before your own observations. Cross-reference. Speculate, and explain the limitations of your speculation. After your wife has reviewed your notes, show them to your colleagues and your boss, and if they approve, submit it for an independent review by anonymous experts in the subject. If they clear it for publication, you now are now in the same boat as Monnett.

    But to complete the circle, you are investigated for an allegation that your accusers refuse to disclose, and they interview you about your notes and your calculations, when it is clear that they have trouble with basic maths. News of the investigation makes the news cycle.. People who don’t like your work explain that you are a liar and a fraud on internet blogs. When news arrives that the investigation is not about your work or about the deer-sightings, people still think your paper on deers is a fraud, while some accept the news and one of those suggests you may be being investigated for “kiddie porn,” potentially an attempt at humour (but the joke isn’t that funny).

    Viola, you are now Charles Monnett.

  108. Onion2: I was just pointing out the error of the poster who thinks it logical to conclude from one event a whole population. Nothing could be further from the truth. I wasn’t suggesting the paper much such unfounded leaps.

    The real test is whether the unusual event is repeated. If it is just a once-off virtually nothing can be concluded sensibly from it.

    (Incidentally, I think I made some errors in my stats calculations, but the general point holds.)

  109. I looked up the quote about polar bears in gore’s film, to see what it actually said.

    So there is a faster build up of heat here at the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean and the Arctic generally than any where else on the planet. That’s not good for creatures like polar bears that depend on the ice. A new scientific study shows that for the first time they’re finding polar bears that have actually drowned, swimming long distances up to 60 miles to find the ice. They did not find that before.

    http://www.global-warming-truth.com/environmental-tv-movies/unofficial-transcription-of-an-inconvenient-truth-part-2.html#a19

    I assume that refers to the Monnett study. The content is factual, but in the context of the film, it rises to polemic.

  110. barry:

    I write to offer some friendly advice.

    Attempts to defend the indefensible make the defender look foolish.

    Monnett’s “study” was an extraploation of an anecdote: it was not science and, therefore, it is not defensible that the”study” was presented in a journal as being a scientific finding..

    Richard

  111. Here is my thought about the investigation: If the funding was about whales but significant time on that dime was spent on polar bears, that is misuse of designated funds.

    water

    On the contrary, doing extra work gets more bang for your buck. And it was normal practise for those expeditions to collect data on other animals.

    Monnett: “Hey is that another polar bear?”

    On-board agency rep: “You are tasked to monitor bow whales, not polar bears.”

    Monnett: “But there are no whales to see just now. We always note other animals.”

    Rep: “You: close the notebook and put the pencil down. Mr Monnett, if you keep doing work extra work, I will have to advise the comptroller that you are wasting taxpayer’s money.”

    Monnett: “My eyes are on the water, someone else is making notes. Look! Another bear. And there’s the third seal for the day.”

    Rep: “I ask you again to cease making observations outside your remit. We may interview you at some point in the future…”

  112. Now that it established that Dr.Monnett’s administrative leave is unrelated to his observation of drowned polar bears, I found this section from an article in the
    Alaska Dispatch rather revealing :

    ….oil companies have raised specific concerns about Monnett and some of the studies he has directed be done in his role as the official who oversees contractors for BOEMRE.

    Action comes as Obama under pressure to drilling in the Arctic
    This week, BOEMRE began issuing stop work orders to some of those contractors, leaving them without funding to finish the work they’d started. One study that tracks polar bears is being continued through the researcher’s own funds, according to letters sent to BOEMRE and obtained by PEER.

    Increasingly, the Obama administration has come under pressure to approve drilling operations in the Arctic Ocean. Although those same permits were on hold or challenged during the Bush years, it is the Obama White House that is taking flack from industry as well as environmental groups in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t kind of way.

    http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/why-scientist-offshore-oil-agency-under-investigation

    BOEMRE has been under a lot of pressure to approve sign off on Chukchi Lease Sale 193.
    Not only from the White House, but also from Alaskan politicians :

    http://www.alaskanewspapers.com/article.php?article=1128begich_pushes_for_arctic_oil_gas_development

    and of course from the oil/gas industry directly :

    http://www.aoga.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/07112011-API-AOGA-Comments-RDSEIS-LS193-FINAL.pdf

    With Monnett pointing out qualitative flaws in the environmental studies and the process BOEMA is supposed to perform (see Monnett’s interrogation) he may be considered an obstacle to reek in these billions of dollars the American Petroleum Industry is talking about.

    The head of BOEMA did not waste time announcing the change in course :

    http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/boemre-director-bromwich-weighs-suspension-arctic-scientist

    Note that Bromwich does not mention Monnett by name, states rather surpisingly that his dismissal has nothing to do with Monnett’s science or his dead polar bear observation, but instead “it was the result of new information on a separate subject brought to our attention very recently.” and leave little doubt that Monnett would not return.

    I wonder if this “new information on a separate subject” may be related to Chukchi Lease Sale 193….

  113. barry wrote:
    He sees four dead bears in the open water for the first time in a quarter of a million kilometers of flying time over a decade, and checks aerial data for the decade previous (comparing apples with apples) and finds this is the first record of dead bears in open water.

    He did not have “a quarter of a million kilometers of flying time over a decade”—he had hearsay (anecdotes) from previous team leaders who didn’t remember seeing any dead bears. How reliable are your memories of events five or ten or fifteen years back? If someone else on the survey team had seen a dead bear, they still wouldn’t have had any record of it because the database they were using “did not have a way to record the dead ones in it.”

    barry wrote:
    Monnett notes that the region has been warming and the ice retreating, suggesting this may put stress on polar bears. That’s hardly controversial. He speculates what may occur if the ice continues to retreat in a warming world.

    And conflating the effects of the storm with the stresses from a warming world is logical? Was it reasonable to generalize that the high wind event that hit the 11% being surveyed had the same effect across the entire habitat when it “was actually not a very severe high”? Isn’t that like saying a Cat.2 hurricane that hits Galveston is simultaneously affecting New Orleans to the same degree?

  114. He did not have “a quarter of a million kilometers of flying time over a decade”—he had hearsay (anecdotes) from previous team leaders who didn’t remember seeing any dead bears.

    Nonsense, the flights he started undertaking in 1999 had been going since 1987. He stopped flying in 2006. From 1987 to 2004, the data period of Monnett’s note, nearly half a million kilometers had been flown. (The figures are in Table 1 of the report)

    The flight records over those years include notes on whatever animals they had time to include as well as bow whales. These records are his primary data.

    And conflating the effects of the storm with the stresses from a warming world is logical?

    Immaterial. The report doesn’t make that connection.

    Was it reasonable to generalize that the high wind event that hit the 11% being surveyed had the same effect across the entire habitat when it “was actually not a very severe high”?

    The note states that the high winds occurred “across the study area.” It is reasonable to extrapolate with appropriate caveats, which was done. This was not meant to be, nor was it pretended to be, a formal study on polar bear mortality.

    Read. The. Study.

    Not just the transcript.

  115. I still think the suspension is a case of misused Government funds, like surfing porn. All those lonely hours in airplanes counting whales must take its toll. It has to be one of the most boring things in the world. Interesting that he claimed he could sight whales that nobody else could see.

    In my opinion the polar bear study was a misuse of Federal funds in that the project was funded to count whales. The so-called study was obviously written to bolster Monnett’s resume. On top of this he testifies that he didn’t have time to produce the annual reports.

    I would have fired this malingerer.

  116. “No, the whole thing is weird. I was wondering what could have triggered the investigation because I didn’t believe for a moment that bad science alone could be the reason.”

    It could be that the investigation of Mann turned up something interesting in the emails, etc, and the Feds were asked for corroborating emails, evidence, etc?

  117. ERIC MAY: Okay. And did these observations all get recorded or –?
    CHARLES MONNETT: No. Um, well, I think the, um – they got recorded, but I can’t remember whether we punched them in the program. We were recording them in our book, because that’s one of the anomalies I was talking about that we really didn’t have any way to signify a dead polar bear. And so rather than have that in the database when really what we wanted to analyze were live polar bears – remember, the stuff is all automated.
    ERIC MAY: Right.
    CHARLES MONNETT: And so somebody has got to go through and delete it, um, or do something, um, and I, I don’t remember whether it’s – we recorded the location in the database or just wrote it down. I’m guessing we recorded the location, uh, but it would have been shown as a live bear.
    CHARLES MONNETT: So the, the, the drowning part, the dead bear part is in our books. It’s not in the database. I, I, I think – and I don’t remember whether the bears are in the database or not at this point.

    So a “live bear” in the database becomes a dead bear in his paper?

    ERIC MAY: Okay. Well, your manuscript, so when you put this together, was it peer-reviewed?
    CHARLES MONNETT: Oh, yeah.
    ERIC MAY: By whom?
    CHARLES MONNETT: Uh, well, it was, it was reviewed here. Um, Lisa Rotterman, my wife, who is a, you know, Ph.D. ecologist, um, reviewed it and, and, you know, she took the first cut. Cleve Cowles, um, gave it a thorough read. I think Paul Stang did, who’s a manager, and I wouldn’t call that a peer review. That’s a, that’s a political correctness review.

    Hahah! My” wife looked at it, and someone else made sure it was potically acceptible”… yeah, really stringent! :)

  118. kcrucible, you omitted what directly follows;

    And, uh, then we sent it to, um – well, we sent it to Andy Derocher, who’s internationally – he’s the, he’s the, the head of the IUCN, uh, polar bear, uh, specialist group and, uh, Ian Stirling, who’s probably the senior, like the dean, you know, the, the all-time most famous polar bear guy in the world… …and I had spoken to them on the phone about the result, and I just told them, “Hey, we saw, you know, some weird stuff this year, and what do you think?” And they said, “Well, that’s – you probably ought to write that up. Uh, you know, it would be useful to have that in the literature.”

    …And, uh, then we sent it to journal, and they sent it out to three peer reviewers, anonymous peer reviewers.

  119. barry says:
    July 30, 2011 at 10:24 pm
    I assume that refers to the Monnett study. The content is factual, but in the context of the film, it rises to polemic.

    That is incorrect. At best you can say it is logical. However since no autopsy was done on the bears, the cause of their demise remains undetermined. For all we know, a ship may have hit them, or they were shot with tranquilizer darts. The only fact is that they were found floating in the ocean. Gore again displays a decided lack of integrity of facts.

  120. A great interrogation of Gleason ends with this:

    ERIC MAY: One last thing, because this is an ongoing investigation, I need to ask you not to discuss what we discussed in here with anybody, particularly Mr. Monnett, you know, talking with us, because it is an ongoing investigation, okay?

    JEFFREY GLEASON: Okay. And if I might ask, “investigating”?

    ERIC MAY: The validity of the paper and the photos. Nothing? All right, that concludes our interview. It is now 12:42.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/29/transcript-jeffrey-gleason

  121. barry says:
    July 31, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Nonsense, the flights he started undertaking in 1999 had been going since 1987. He stopped flying in 2006. From 1987 to 2004, the data period of Monnett’s note, nearly half a million kilometers had been flown. (The figures are in Table 1 of the report)

    The flight records over those years include notes on whatever animals they had time to include as well as bow whales. These records are his primary data.

    So you agree that previous flights may have seen dead polar bears, but that the crew didn’t have “time” to include that in their notes. Except for the fact that previous team leaders claim that they didn’t see any dead polar bears – which is hearsay.

  122. barry says:
    July 31, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Katherine says:
    Isn’t that like saying a Cat.2 hurricane that hits Galveston is simultaneously affecting New Orleans to the same degree?

    The note states that the high winds occurred “across the study area.” It is reasonable to extrapolate with appropriate caveats, which was done. This was not meant to be, nor was it pretended to be, a formal study on polar bear mortality.

    A paper that implies conclusions that rely on a Galveston hurricane affecting New Orleans is irresponsible regardless of the number of disclosures included.

    I can’t count 5 horses in my neighbor’s backyard, calculate that my neighbor’s backyard is 1/1000th the area of my town, and then conclude that my town has a horse population of 5,000 regardless of the number of disclosures I include. It’s a bad scientific conclusion. Bad science isn’t made acceptable by disclosures.

  123. So you agree that previous flights may have seen dead polar bears, but that the crew didn’t have “time” to include that in their notes. Except for the fact that previous team leaders claim that they didn’t see any dead polar bears – which is hearsay.

    You work with the data you have. If everyone says they can’t remember sighting a dead bear, and the notes corroborate that, then you are left with the first recorded sighting of dead bears floating in the water.

  124. However since no autopsy was done on the bears, the cause of their demise remains undetermined.

    It does. They presume the bears drowned because they were all between 34 and 104 kilometers from land when discovered after a storm. They presume it because no one has seen a dead bear in the water before and here are four in the one season,far out from land after a storm. No, they don’t know the cause of death for sure, but drowning is likely enough to build…. a hypothesis.

    Does the paper claim the bears were definitely drowned?

    No.

    Does it say that there are definitely more than 4 dead bears?

    No.

    Does it say that AGW caused the bears to drown?

    No.

    Does it say that the dead bears corroborate that global warming is happening?

    No.

    Does it say there have never been drowned polar bears or dead bears in the sea before?

    No.

    Does it build a hypothesis from a small data packet and call for more investigation on bear mortality while swimming?

    Yes.

    If you answered yes to all but the last question, you either haven’t read or don’t understand the observational note Charles Monnett wrote in 2005.

    It’s a hypothesis, not a formal analysis of polar bear mortality from swimming. Essentially the message is this: these dead bears we saw may have drowned due to less sea ice and a storm that caused normally calm waters to be rough, and there were likely more bears affected by these conditions than we saw. Someone should look into it because there’s nothing about this kind of event in the scientific literature, so we could be missing a part of the polar bear life/death cycle, and we may see more events like it if sea ice cover continues to shrink.

    That’s really all it is saying, plus some data and illustrative figures. Read it and see for yourself.

    http://www.alaskaconservationsolutions.com/acs/images/stories/docs/Polar%20Bears-ExtendedOpenWaterSwimmingMortality.pdf

  125. Barry,

    Since you seem to have all the answers, please explain the article’s title for those of us who would like to know the reason for Monnett’s suspension.

  126. God himself smote the bears. Said bears had apparently been complaining amongst themselves about the lack of ice and the odious distance they were required to swim. It was, of course, somewhat warmer than usual and bears don’t much like warm, so they were in a bad mood.

    God summoned forth a wind storm to teach the unruly bears a lesson.

    “Go forth and swim ‘ye unruly bears,” bellowed God.

    God is English, by the way.

    God’s intent was not to have the fate of these unruly bears be widely known. It was a message to other bears, not a message to Man. It was mere happenstance that a couple of researchers happened by and observed the smote bears. Or is that smitten bears?

    Anyway, not satisfied with the mere smiting of the bears, God summoned his Legion to investigate, to . He could have picked a couple of Legion that passed high school math, but they were busy “doing God’s work” at Goldman-Sachs.

  127. We sort of figured that out anyway… nobody gets investigated simply for being an idiot. Of course, the investigation did manage to highlight how bad the original work was. Too many assumptions that were unsupportable ultimately led to extrapolations that had floor to ceiling error margins.

    Of course, stating that the good Dr. is under investigation for his ethics regarding contract management doesn’t do a whole lot of good for his reputation as a scientist, either. The ABC article makes that claim almost with glee failing to realize that the “they didn’t like his science” angle no longer works. “It has nothing to do with his bad peer reviewed science, rather, it is because he cannot be trusted with government money!” just doesn’t do it for me.

    Mark

  128. Hi Smokey,

    Check David Hagen’s article. It appears Monnett is being investigated for how he awarded a (more recent) joint study on polar bears.

  129. Thanks, Barry. As I speculated much earlier in this thread, misappropriation of public funds could well be the issue. Monnett hired his wife – which certainly raised some eyebrows. Really a stupid move on his part, no?

    I was formerly the Secretary-Treasurer of a statewide organization, and I was very surprised, and frankly shocked, at the tendency of so many with sticky fingers who had been entrusted with membership funds. Dual signature checks should be required in every government grant, and an outside audit should be an annual requirement. Anyway, it will be interesting to see what the IG’s investigation uncovers. I suspect illegal conversion will be charged.

    That said, this investigation has publicly exposed more corruption of climate peer review and government grants for all to see. It is grant-gaming with a friendly elbow to the ribs, along with a wink and a nod; everyone’s in on the scam, and the taxpaying public is none the wiser, eh? And Monnett’s peers like Mann and Schmidt are no different — which is why Monnett is being so fiercely defended by their ilk. [IMHO, as always. YMMV.]

  130. Monnett hired his wife – which certainly raised some eyebrows. Really a stupid move on his part, no?

    Is that so? I thought he only showed his wife an early draft of his work. Did he actually pay her for anything?

    That said, this investigation has publicly exposed more corruption of climate peer review and government grants for all to see.

    I might be old fashioned, but I tend to wait for the trial to conclude before hanging anyone. We only learned today what the allegations are (if that is in fact what they are).

  131. barry says:
    August 2, 2011 at 10:12 am

    You work with the data you have. If everyone says they can’t remember sighting a dead bear, and the notes corroborate that, then you are left with the first recorded sighting of dead bears floating in the water.

    1. Hearsay shouldn’t be used as data.

    2. In the absence of adequate data, conclusions shouldn’t be offered regardless of the disclosures used.

  132. Does the paper imply the bears were drowned?

    Yes.

    Does it imply</em that there are definitely more than 4 dead bears?

    Yes.

    Does it imply</em that AGW caused the bears to drown?

    Yes.

    Does it imply</em that the dead bears corroborate that global warming is happening?

    Yes.

    Does it imply</em there have never been drowned polar bears or dead bears in the sea before?

    Yes.

    Does a paper like this allow people like Al Gore to make irresponsible inferences?

    Yes.

  133. barry says:

    In 2007, the US Department of the Interior – the same department hassling Monnett today – issued directives restraining scientists traveling abroad from talking about climate change, Arctic sea ice,and polar bears.

    Probably because they had been embarrassed by too many “scientists” making unscientific claims that weren’t supported by sound data collection.

  134. 1. Hearsay shouldn’t be used as data.

    The data was 18 years of direct observations of polar bears,recorded at the time of sighting from research planes. The study period of 1987 to 2004 totaled 370 bear sightings. Monnett was on most of the research flights from 1999 to 2006.

    2. In the absence of adequate data, conclusions shouldn’t be offered regardless of the disclosures used.

    They offer no conclusions. Even the investigating agents pointed out the heavily qualified, inconclusive language.

    Read the paper. Don’t rely on hearsay.

    REPLY: Oh puhleeze. Unless there were autopsies or direct hands on inspections of the dead bears, its ALL HEARSAY. For all we know, the bears could have been shot and then run to the water, which is their nature. The entire issue is based on an incomplete data point. 3 or 4 dead bears, no established reason why. – Anthony

  135. barry says:
    August 3, 2011 at 8:54 am
    The data was 18 years of direct observations of polar bears,recorded at the time of sighting from research planes.

    So they can then comment on LIVE polar bears, not dead ones since no recordings or records were kept. Ergo that is hearsay. Please stick to the facts, and not your opinion or your “feelings’ on the subject.

  136. barry says:

    The data was 18 years of direct observations of polar bears,recorded at the time of sighting from research planes.

    Except for the fact that it WASN’T recorded. The inclusion of 370 live polar bears doesn’t imply that dead polar bears would have been entered into the record.

    They offer no conclusions. Even the investigating agents pointed out the heavily qualified, inconclusive language.

    They absolutely “offer” conclusions. Learn the difference between arriving at a definitive conclusion and offering conclusions. Conclusions were most certainly offered.

  137. Oh puhleeze. Unless there were autopsies or direct hands on inspections of the dead bears, its ALL HEARSAY. For all we know, the bears could have been shot and then run to the water, which is their nature. The entire issue is based on an incomplete data point. 3 or 4 dead bears, no established reason why.

    Hearsay is rumour or the reporting of someone’s words by a third party. These were direct recorded observations that included longitude and latitude of the observation, and whether the bears were in the water or on land or sea ice. This is not second-hand verbal testimony, which is the point I was making to wobble, who thinks that the data was acquired entirely by calling other researchers. wobble gets this idea from comments throughout this and the other thread/s, I suppose, where this erroneous impression is given many times. I wish you had made the correction, because the misapprehension would have died more quickly with your imprimatur.

    In mounting a hypothesis, it is best to make plausible presumptions. The notion that all four bears were shot is less plausible than that they drowned in the storm. The evidence most strongly points to that conclusion, so it is used as a premise. This is Occam’s razor in action.

    Criticism of the kind you and others are making rests on the faulty notion that this is a formal study on bear mortality and cause, instead of a hypothesis based on the information to hand, calling for more investigation so that the hypothesis may be tested. This is normal practise, so what people really have a problem with is the scientific method. Monnett asked experts if his observations and hypotheses were worth publishing, and they encouraged him to do it, and three anonymous reviewers gave his study a tick. So I guess now the complaint will be that there is a conspiracy amongst polar bear researchers to present bad science.

  138. Heh. So funny….

    Note that Monnett was on the majority of flights from 1999 to 2006. No dead bears seen except in 2004, when he did his report. Even if he hadn’t checked with previous team leaders, the sudden appearance of four dead bears (3 on transects, hence extrapolable to the full area) is way out of line from previous observations.

    Anthony – Occams Razor is against you. 16 bears swimming in ’04, when a max of 5 had been seen at any year before that? And I’ll note, swimming bears were a regular entry. Then a Beaufort Scale 5-6 storm, and a bunch of dead bears in the water? Drowning is the most reasonable explanation, no matter how you try to parse it.

    Sure, it might have been hunters killing bears and then dragging the bodies 5-10 km offshore. Or a polar bear Fight Club. A really bad game of Rock Paper Scissors? It might have been lightning, or overly fattening food! But the parsimonious explanation (which Monnett suggested as only the most likely in the paper) is that they drowned.

    Monnett is being investigated for this paper, as is apparent from the transcripts of his and Gleasons interviews. This is (IMO) a political witchhunt by someone in or with links to the Department of the Interior, nothing more. Monnett reported his observations as anomalies, with appropriate qualifications – and it upset folks. So sad for them…

    I have to say, the apparent urge to blame the messenger for bad new is strong here. Tons of posts with ad hominems against a scientist who just reported what he saw, with the most parsimonious hypotheses (yes, hypotheses, with suggestions for how to test them!) possible. Followied by accusations of malfeasance, insults, critiques from people that obviously don’t know statistics from stomach contents… I’m saddened.

    Monnett reported what he saw. He extrapolated to the full region using standard techniques, used for biological sampling, cell biology, and estimating how many land mines are left in a particular area. The hypotheses as to why (and suggestions to test those) which include the effects of reduced sea ice, appear to be threatening to those who want to continue with business as usual, who wish to not have their (even theoretic) freedoms constrained by consequences, and hence the witchhunt. This is a massive attempt to blame the messenger. Nothing more.

  139. wobble, the data was recorded in a notebook. There are no records of dead bears in the sea, and other researchers have no memory of having seen one.

    Think about the sequence of events. Monnett sees 4 dead bears in the water. He’s never himself seen that before in 6 years of overflights. He checks the written records and sees that there are no other dead bears in the water recorded. Does he assume there have been none? No, he goes another step and checks with other researchers to see if they remember seeing any. This is a reasonable and obvious way to firm up the data.

    Monnett doesn’t assume that he has the whole story, but the data that he has strongly suggests a scenario. Look at the language in the intro to the note:

    We speculate that mortalities due to offshore swimming during late ice (or mild ice) may be an important and unaccounted source of natural mortality given energetic demands placed on individual bears engaged in long-distance swimming. We further <b.suggest that drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed regression of pack ice and/or longer open water periods continues.

    The rest of the note is the argument underpinning the hypothesis. Even the last section is qualified with language like this. And note that the authors speak of ‘natural’ mortality – this is a long way from comments upthread asserting that the note purports to tie the dead bears to global warming.

    Wobble, we may have different ideas on what conclusive means. Shortly, this note is self-identified as speculative. There is no ‘conclusions’ section. I can’t see how it could be read as a conclusive study. Perhaps you can provide examples of what you mean.

  140. barry & KR,

    barry says: “The notion that all four bears were shot is less plausible than that they drowned in the storm.” KR says something similar. That is simply a baseless opinion.

    The fact is that you don’t have sufficient information to make that judgement.

    KR adds: “This is (IMO) a political witchhunt…”

    You have a right to your opinion. But with the AG – an appointee of the current alarmist-friendly Administration who is conducting this extraordinary investigation – I would not be so hasty as to use the term “witchhunt.” Monnett had his wife in the loop, which indicates questionable judgement. And he was the person with authority over $50 million in public funds. I suspect there is a whistleblower involved, and even though the AG may not want to investigate Monnett, his hand may have been forced.

    $50 million is a big motive, no?

    And keep in mind that this investigation is not about the polar bear paper, which simply exposed typically atrocious government grant-driven science.

  141. Smokey

    I would actually be quite happy if the investigation is about misdirection of funding or nepotism, rather than an investigation intended to suppress reporting scientific anomalies. The more of that stamped out, the better. The interviews of Monnett and Gleason, however, do not reassure me on that point. I await actual charges or the dismissal of the investigation, whichever occurs.

    Occam’s Razor is a reasonable rule of thumb – the simplest explanation possible is the most likely. Monnett did not state that for a fact the bears drowned, but simply that drowning was the most likely explanation for the bodies. Far from baseless, given the weather in the previous week, and the ~8.5 km average distance from shore for the bodies. Would you have preferred a hypothesis of simultaneous coronary artery disease, aliens on a hunting expedition, or Gypsy curses?

    If the investigation is not about the polar bear papers, why did the investigators return to it over and over again when interviewing both authors?

  142. KR,

    With polar bear pelts going for $30,000+, gunshot wounds are every bit as plausible as polar bears drowning from storms.

    Much more plausible, in fact. Monnett admits that these are the first dead polar bears reported. But storms occur regularly – without any reports of dead polar bears. Therefore, Occam’s Razor indicates that storms are not the cause of polar bear deaths. QED

  143. But storms occur regularly – without any reports of dead polar bears. Therefore, Occam’s Razor indicates that storms are not the cause of polar bear deaths.

    This is a hypothesis based on even less data than Monnett’s, and ignores observed factors (lowest observed sea ice coverage coverage for the area, leading to choppier waters in high winds), and is, therefore, less plausible. The storm and low ice coverage was observed. Hunters were not.

    With polar bear pelts going for $30,000+, gunshot wounds are every bit as plausible as polar bears drowning from storms.

    You’re suggesting that hunters managed to let $30 000 float away – four times in the one season? You think that is as plausible as Monnett’s hypothesis?

    I think there is one hypothesis that is nearly as plausible as Monnett’s – disease. However, disease in polar bears is rare, and there are few (any?) records of bears having died from disease in the wild. My hypothesis relies on accepting more from less than Monnett’s.

    The truth is there is little known about polar bear mortality. People here are casting Monnett’s work as concluding something, when he is only suggesting he might have a piece of the puzzle. If criticism were directed towards activist groups’ use of Monnett’s work, I would agree with much of it.

  144. Smokey – Did you actually read the paper? 16 bears swimming, almost no sea ice, completely anomalous conditions – followed by a serious storm with no ice to damp it down? And then bear corpses, previously unseen?

    And you postulate hunters? When no dead bears had been observed in the previous years? And more bears in the water earlier by a factor of 3x over any recorded data? Really…

    Sorry, Smokey, 4 dead bears averaging 8.5 km offshore does not make hunting a plausible cause. It makes hunting a stretched excuse for data you don’t like…

    Now, I will be more than happy to note that storms don’t kill many bears, including since then. But that year, under those conditions, it certainly seems like the most likely explanation. And Monnett was certainly within scientific limits to present a hypothesis that decreased sea ice might be a factor in bear mortality if it continued. Going after him on the basis of the paper (if that’s the reason, as it appears) is completely unjustified.

  145. barry says:

    wobble, the data was recorded in a notebook. There are no records of dead bears in the sea, and other researchers have no memory of having seen one.

    Data that doesn’t exist can’t be recorded. Or are you suggesting that all the flights since 1987 had specially recorded, “No Dead Polar Bears Seen Today”?

    Telephone conversations with previous team leaders is a terrible way to collect data.

    Offering conclusions based on this is terrible. And don’t try to tell me that conclusions weren’t offered.

  146. KR says:

    “When no dead bears had been observed reported in the previous years…” See, there’s a difference… a big difference – which Monnett himself acknowledges.

    Anyway, Monnett isn’t being investigated for his grade school level pesudo-science. He is being investigated for criminal misappropriation of public funds. The polar bear fiasco is just icing on the cake for honest scientific skeptics.

    The truth will all come out in the wash.

  147. New Police Chief: There were no occurrences of jay walking between 1987 and 1999.
    Investigator: How do you know?
    New Police Chief: Because there is no record of jay walking in the past.
    Investigator: Were records of jay walking required to be kept in the past?
    New Police Chief: No.
    Investigator: Then why would there be any record of jay walking in the past?
    New Police Chief: I spoke with the old police chiefs and they don’t remember any jay walking.
    Investigator: So you’re relying on their memory, and your paper relies on hearsay?
    New Police Chief: No. There is no record of jay walking in the past.

    Investigator: Were records of jay walking required to be kept in the past?
    New Police Chief: No.
    Investigator: Then why would there be any record of jay walking in the past?
    New Police Chief: I spoke with the old police chiefs and they don’t remember any jay walking.
    Investigator: So you’re relying on their memory, and your paper relies on hearsay?
    New Police Chief: No. There is no record of jay walking in the past.

    Investigator: Were records of jay walking required to be kept in the past?
    New Police Chief: No.
    Investigator: Then why would there be any record of jay walking in the past?
    New Police Chief: I spoke with the old police chiefs and they don’t remember any jay walking.
    Investigator: So you’re relying on their memory, and your paper relies on hearsay?
    New Police Chief: No. There is no record of jay walking in the past.

    Investigator: I think we’re going in circles here.

  148. Monnett’s co-author on the 2005 note, Jeffrey Gleason, was also interviewed, a month before Monnett. Here’s the transcript.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/29/transcript-jeffrey-gleason

    Some things from this are clear. The investigation was definitely about the 2005 note, and whether the calculations were sound. The bulk of the interview (unabridged) is about the 2005 paper. Eric May (investigating agent) states that the paper is having an impact on policy.

    Gleason corroborates that they referred to a database for their data – 30 years of observations, according to Gleason.

    Gleason is questioned about the assumption that the bears drowned. He gives the same answer I did (my post was not permitted, for some reason, maybe repetitious). They constructed the most parsimonious hypothesis from the data available. This is sound reasoning. Invoking non-existent data (like hunters), is not reasoning, it’s guesswork.

    It’s fairly clearly inferred from the sequence of events that the agents were trying to find something wrong with the 2005 note, and when they did not switched tack to a new rationale for investigating Monnett.

    Far as I’m concerned this is political interference in science.

    We also discover that Charles Monnett thought there could have been a global warming angle to the paper, but it seems that the department didn’t want that in the paper, so no direct link was made.

    Side note: people often speculate (well, assert more often than not) that governments are pushing AGW. In fact, the Department of the Interior was trying to muzzle such discussion. There are even Dep Int memos (posted upthread), ordering scientists traveling abroad not to speak about polar bears, Arctic sea ice, or climate change.

  149. barry says:

    Gleason corroborates that they referred to a database for their data – 30 years of observations, according to Gleason.

    I bet there are no entries in the database for sightings of other aircraft. That doesn’t mean that other aircraft were never sighted.

    the Department of the Interior was trying to muzzle such discussion.

    This is a baseless accusation.

    There are even Dep Int memos (posted upthread), ordering scientists traveling abroad not to speak about polar bears, Arctic sea ice, or climate change.

    This is probably because smart people within the Dept of Int noticed that many of these opinions were based on junk science and were trying to protect the department from international embarrassment.

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