Open letter to Dr. Erickson, President of Penn State University

(Reader Reed Coray submits this letter)

I have to admire Penn State’s chutzpah. Smack dab in the middle of one of the biggest ethical scandals in recent collegiate history, Penn State schedules an “ethics seminar” entitled “An Ethical Critique of the Climate Science Disinformation Campaign” (Tuesday, 29 November 2011, Donald A. Brown, Associate Professor Environmental Ethics, Science, and Law, Director, Collaborative Program on Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change, Rock Ethics Institute, Penn State University).

The seminar title is ambiguous in that it doesn’t define “disinformation.” Disinformation could mean either/both (a) the information put out by Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) proponents (who collectively are referred to as the “team”) or (b) the information put out by AGW skeptics (who collectively are referred to as “deniers”).

If the seminar addressed the former, then I applaud Penn State. If, however, as I believe to be the case, the seminar addressed the latter, then the phrase “You’ve got to be kidding” best characterizes my initial reaction.

 

Has anyone in Penn State’s “Ethics Department” read any of the Climategate 1 E‑mails (made public in late 2009) much less read any of the recently released Climategate 2 E‑mails? Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State’s faculty is one of the principal Climategate 1 and Climategate 2 E-mail correspondents. Any, and I mean any, reasonable reading of some of Dr. Mann’s Climategate 1 and Climategate 2 E-mails would cause the reader to question Dr. Mann’s ethics. Even Penn State’s administration held that opinion as shown by the fact that when the Climategate 1 E‑mails became public, Penn State held an internal investigation to determine if Dr. Mann’s behavior violated Penn State’s ethical canons. As I recall, the results of that investigation were that although Dr. Mann’s behavior might not have been above reproach, his behavior was consistent with Penn State’s high ethical standards.

When I read Penn State’s ruling, I concluded that Penn State’s definition of high ethical standards doesn’t agree with my definition. You can believe Dr. Mann’s behavior as represented by the Climategate 1 E‑mails and Penn State’s subsequent investigation into Dr. Mann’s behavior are both in accordance with the highest ethical standards; I’ll believe what I want to believe.

Fast forward to November 2011–(a) allegations of sexual misconduct during his tenure at Penn State are made against Jerry Sandusky, (b) a portion of Penn State’s response to those allegations becomes public, and (c) additional “team” E-mails (the Climategate 2 E‑mails) are made public. Items (a) and (b) have no direct bearing on the contents of Dr. Brown’s “ethics seminar”, but they do have relevance to the timing of Dr. Brown’s seminar and to Penn State’s definition and practice of “high ethical standards.” Item (c) has direct relevance to the seminar topic.

Independent of the science of global warming, in my opinion the behaviors of Dr. Mann and many other “team” members as revealed in the Climategate 1 and Climategate 2 E‑mails reeks of at best pettiness and at worst a coordinated effort to suppress in the “peer-reviewed” literature opposing scientific points of view. Refutation of opposing scientific viewpoints is a normal part of the scientific process; suppression of those viewpoints is not. Penn State may consider attempts to suppress opposing scientific viewpoints as being “highly ethical,” I and many others don’t.

As evidenced by your television ads where a chorus proudly proclaims “We are Penn State,” you are obviously proud of your university. If you want the general public to believe such pride is deserved, try holding fewer “global warming ethics seminars” and start behaving in a highly ethical manner. You may believe Dr. Mann’s Climategate 1 E-mails and Penn State’s assessment of those E‑mails are both consistent with “highly ethical principles,” but if so I believe you are in the minority.

I would characterize Penn State’s assessment of Dr. Mann’s actions as being more consistent with the principle of “keep global warming study funds flowing into Penn State” than being consistent with “highly ethical principles of science.” Bottom line, you want respect, earn it, don’t proclaim it.

Thank you for your time,

Reed Coray

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

And others think similarly. For example, this letter appeared in the newspaper The Centre Daily Times today. For those who don’t know, that is the State College, PA newspaper, and Michael Mann and his peers are sure to read it.

Remove the Climategate clouds

12:01am on Nov 30, 2011

I am deeply saddened by the recent events in State College. A culture of cover-up appears to have become embedded at Penn State, and a thorough house cleaning needs to occur now.

A good place to start is for Penn State to reopen the Michael Mann Climategate scandal investigation. This phony whitewash of an investigation was conducted under recently fired Penn State President Graham Spanier’s watch. An all-Penn State group of professors exonerated one of their own while keeping their methods and deliberations secret.

The most contentious charges were prematurely dismissed in the inquiry stage of the investigation causing MIT professor Richard Lindzen to express “amazement” and to “wonder what is going on.”

Mann’s hide-the-decline emails that came to light in the Climategate scandal clearly reveal a pattern of deceit apparent to anyone outside of academia.

I ask all Penn State alumni to contact Penn State President Rod Erickson and demand an open and independent investigation of Mann.

Ramsay Barrett Marshall, Va.

The writer is a Penn State alumnus.

Read more: http://www.centredaily.com/2011/11/30/3003629/yourletters.html#ixzz1fGLO1OL3

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50 Responses to Open letter to Dr. Erickson, President of Penn State University

  1. Penn State culture of coverup:

    a) Michael Mann’s hide the decline
    b) the Penn State Climategate Whitewash Committee
    c) the Administration’s “look the other way” treatment of Sandusky

    Penn State may have become the most infamous and unethical college in the USA.

  2. Bloke down the pub says:

    They will only take the proper action with regards to these letters when it starts to hit them in the pocket. Only when the supply of funds is squeezed will they be enlightened as to the real value of ethical behaviour.

  3. John Marshall says:

    To paraphrase a TV ad. running in the UK:-

    ‘Not just ethics but our ethics’.

  4. Leon Brozyna says:

    Penn State … where ethics are taught, not practiced.

  5. wws says:

    Penn State’s “Ethics” are pretty easy to define:

    Definitions, according to current Penn State standards:

    “Ethical” – any action, policy, or belief, which serves to maximize our current financial posture and our future profit potential.

    “Unethical” – any action, policy, or belief which threatens our financial interests, either current or future.

    There’s really nothing more to it than that.

  6. geoprof says:

    If they would hide and protect a child abuser, why should they be honest about what their climate department is spewing?
    SMU got the “death penalty.” So should Penn State, both in football and climate science…

  7. Frank K. says:

    Some questions for current Penn State students:

    (1) How much are your tuition and fees these days?
    (2) Are they continuing to go up?
    (3) Do think you are getting your money’s worth, given that Penn State hires people of the caliber of Don Brown to teach “ethics”.
    (4) Should you consider a different school?

  8. Harry Kannry says:

    The committee that explored Dr. Michael Mann’s action is akin to a bunch of wolves investigating the fox after the fox at all the chickens in the hen house. It was nothing more than the blind leading the blind. All of my contributions to Penn State have ceased, except those to THON, and will not start again until Mann is fired due to his lies and distortions. It is all about, :Hide the Decline”.

  9. Area Man says:

    Pennsylvania is an interesting and “different” state in many ways (just ask anyone from out of state who tries to buy beer or wine in a grocery store). For example, it is the only state that does not allow local police to use radar for speed detection.

    That leads to a scenario where the state Dept. of Transportation is tasked with evaluating speed detection technology without necessarily having the technical expertise to do so, which in turn leads to approval of flawed devices without even performing field testing.

    Couple that with an out-dated FOI law (recently improved but still with significant loopholes) and Pennsylvanians are stuck with substandard technology.

    Such an atmosphere does not paint a picture of a state government that values scientific accuracy over politics. It will be interesting to see if/when/how the state government ever steps into the controversy regarding climate science at Penn State.

  10. henrychance says:

    It sure looks like the Board of Trustees want to save face. Whitewashing Mann in the past was an attempt to save face.
    Mann wants to sue any party that threatend his reputation. He didn’t consider he is the biggest threat to his own reputation. For the good of the planet, out children, peace and compassion, the right thing to do is resign.

  11. polistra says:

    An open letter from EPA or DOE or NSF, accompanied by a cancellation of all grants, would make a difference. Open letters from mere humans do not exist.

  12. Jason says:

    Mike Mann has books to promote you know. The fact he is raking it in and has been caught threatening to dish dirt on McKintyre is obviously not unethical.

  13. DirkH says:

    In a post-normal science like climate science, misinformation is information that is detrimental to The Cause. (just guessing.)

  14. Coalsoffire says:

    This open letter would have been more effective if it contained more evidence. It’s not enough to simply assert that the inquiry was a whitewash. And quoting only Lindzen for support is insufficient. Most readers will not know who he is. Fortunately the inquiry itself, in its reasons, provided adequate evidence of the whitewash. All the writer had to do was cite the following from the findings. These paragraphs are ample evidence that no real inquiry took place and further are stark and amazing evidence of the culture of coverup that seems to pervade this college. If a colleague can “obtain funding”… well he’s GOT to be good:
    _____
    “This level of success in proposing research, and obtaining funding to conduct it, clearly places Dr. Mann among the most respected scientists in his field. Such success would not have been possible had he not met or exceeded the highest standards of his profession for proposing research…”

    “Had Dr. Mann’s conduct of his research been outside the range of accepted practices, it would have been impossible for him to receive so many awards and recognitions, which typically involve intense scrutiny from scientists who may or may not agree with his scientific conclusions…”

    “Clearly, Dr. Mann’s reporting of his research has been successful and judged to be outstanding by his peers. This would have been impossible had his activities in reporting his work been outside of accepted practices in his field.”

  15. “Climate Science Disinformation Campaign”

    Campaign?

    campaign [kæmˈpeɪn] n
    1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a series of coordinated activities, such as public speaking and demonstrating, designed to achieve a social, political, or commercial goal .

    It is clear from both ‘Climategate’ releases that AGW alarmists (Mann, Jones, Trenberth et al.) are “campaigning” (see email exchanges) to delete or hide climate information and punish skeptical scientists, with the goal of suppressing dissenting views. Who is “coordinating” on the skeptical side?

  16. SSam says:

    Penn State, with it’s indigenous pedophiles and Michale Mann waving around his hokey stick… want to preach ethics?

    I think any and all State and Federal government based funding should be pulled. PERIOD.

    Let them stuff that up their ethics pipe.

  17. I think the extensive use the term Team and the references to team sports language in the Mann emails, when combined with the recent sexual misconduct by a team sports coach, the blind eye from the athletic department and university administration toward both, suggests a deep, endemic ethical problem in P. State’s culture. This open letter is overly polite but that is okay. I suspect it will be mostly ignored as Cognitive Dissonance is far to will entrenched.

  18. Charles.U.Farley says:

    “Bloke down the pub says:
    December 1, 2011 at 5:42 am

    They will only take the proper action with regards to these letters when it starts to hit them in the pocket. Only when the supply of funds is squeezed will they be enlightened as to the real value of ethical behaviour.”

    Agree, so thats where part of the concentration of efforts needs to go, to their funders.
    Who wants to be associated with a charlatan for instance?
    Once such association starts to impact on their backers and funds start to be withdrawn ( and thats what we should all be aiming for- starve them) then things will start to change.
    Its clearly been demonstarted that Penn state uni is operating under a different set of less than morasl/ethics to any reasonable person so who on earth ( or is that gaia? :D) would want to be supporting that and having such qualities rub off on their corporate image?

  19. Gail Combs says:

    I did some “Follow the threads” on Penn State.

    Never forget that a University is also a BUSINESS and the goal is to make enough money to continue to run and pay everyone great salaries. The only difference between a Non-profit Charity, a University or a regular business is the accounting tricks. They all run on money and anyone who forgets is kidding themselves. [Brian Gallagher, CEO of United Way, currently earns $1,037,140]

    Here are some interesting articles that give a major clue as to what is behind Penn State’s circling the wagons behavior.

    Mar 11, 2011 Corbett’s Budget targets the wrong special interests “Montgomery County Community College faces a 10 percent cut in Corbett’s proposal paired with a 50 percent cut to the Pennsylvania System of Higher Education….” http://www.dailylocal.com/articles/2011/03/11/opinion/srv0000011127457.txt

    From other articles, and reading between the lines, some time in the 1980′s/90′s Penn State and other Univs started hurting for money. They had to “Get with the Program” in order to get Alumni to make up the difference. No doubt this was a major reason for hiring Mann.

    An interesting player is Edward R. Hintz. He was President of the “Institutional” investment firm Hintz, Holman & Heckscher the place that handled Penn States Endowment Fund. He is now president of Hintz Capital Management, a private money-management firm. (Private firms allow you to hide just WHERE the money is invested.) Hintz is vice president of the Penn State Board of Trustees and Past Chairman of the Board. He served as chair of the Grand Destiny Campaign for Penn State. See the blockquote below. From: http://www.smeal.psu.edu/about/advisory/bov/hintz.html

    Bryce Jordan was the president of the Penn State from 1983 until 1990. His field is musicology. So he was replaced by a financial type savvy to bring in the money.

    News Article: Observer-Reporter Apr 24 1999

    …It has 70,000 alumni who donate regularly.

    “It’s an Attempt to, I would say, make more permanent the culture of philanthropy at Penn State” said Hintz President of Investment firm Hintz, Holman & Heckscher

    Penn State’s endowment fund… $650 million is 5 percent of Harvard’s $13 billion endowment, the nation’s largest…

    “It’s my hope that we jump three or four spaces on the Big Ten list by the end of the campaign” Hintz said.

    One reason Penn Sate lags is its late start. Until the 1980′s state appropriations and tuition were the major funding sources, with private giving an afterthought….

    Fund raising is a relatively new activity for us” Spanier said…..

    “Especially now, with neither state legislator nor students very interested in giving more.”

    Penn States first effort [was] under Bryce Jordan in the 1980′s…. This effort is more significant, involving not just 180 staffers but also 400 volunteers – all donors themselves – who bring a personal touch to the sales pitch. About 60 faculty are involved this time. [You are going to need a rock star and that is what Mann is.]

    This weekend’s kick-off “broadcasts the campaign far and wide” Hintz said. On Friday potential donors attended a series of seminars on Penn research and a kick-off celebration.

    The Grand Desiny” campaign name was pulled from an 188? speech by former President G. W. Atherton…. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2519&dat=19990424&id=q2leAAAAIBAJ&sjid=SGENAAAAIBAJ&pg=3308,2952642

    The fund raising efforts managed to triple the worth of the endowment fund between 1999 and 2011.
    “As of June, 2010, Penn State’s endowment fund was over $1.5 billion.”

    “Penn State’s Endowment Fund was valued at $1.7B as of June 2011.”
    (from a google search for “Penn State endowment fund” but actual links have been wiped)

    3-21-97 Endowment Grows By $205 Million In Five Years

    http://www.psu.edu/ur/archives/news/endowment.html

    Market Value Of Penn State Endowment More Than Doubles Over Five Years

    March 17, 2000
    Hershey, PA. — The total market value of Penn State’s pooled endowment fund reached $790.7 million as of Dec. 31, 1999–more than double its value of five years ago….the Treasurer’s office says that the $434 million increase in the pooled endowment fund over the past five years reflects both new gifts and reinvested earnings.

    During the 1999 calendar year alone, the pooled endowment grew by $114 million. This increase consists of over $41 million in new gifts and $99 million in investment returns, offset by $26 million that the University directed to program support.

    “We’re pleased to have such positive results from our long-term asset mix,” said Associate Treasurer David E. Branigan…. http://www.psu.edu/ur/2000/17botmarendow.html

    …..

    Penn State has bought the United Nations “Sustainability” aka Agenda 21 It is a big money maker and backed by the large international corporations and banks their Alumni work for. This is why we see asuch a buy in among most of the Universities.
    Penn State Center for Sustainability: http://www.cfs.psu.edu/

    Exporting “sustainability” world wide: http://www.cfs.psu.edu/programs/reca.html

    Don’t miss this one (Smeal College is part of Penn State)
    LION TRADER
    “…Since the launch of the Smeal College Trading Room in the fall of 2001, the Trading Room has taken enormous strides in completing its mission to bring Wall Street closer to Penn State….” J. Randall Woolridge, Director of the Smeal College Trading Room and The Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Smeal Endowed Fellow
    http://www.smeal.psu.edu/traderoom/liontrader0103.pdf

    There is the Goldman, Sachs & Co. connection for anyone not thinking the Bankers/financiers are not in on this whole mess. Remember Sustainability ===> the United Nation’s Agenda 21.

    <blockquote …Smeal Sustainability Council

    Advisory board members lend their experience and expertise to the Sustainability Council and serve as conduits to the latest corporate developments in sustainable business practices. The board assists in guiding Smeal’s sustainability agenda by helping to match the college’s strengths with the sustainability issues that the board members encounter as they lead their corporations’ sustainability efforts…. http://www.smeal.psu.edu/sustainability-council/advisory-board-members

  20. SSam says:

    henrychance says:

    “It sure looks like the Board of Trustees want to save face. ”

    Well, here they are. These are the self serving “people” who are more interested in keeping the cash rolling while turning a blind eye to outright rape and fraud that goes on in their prestigious “university.”

    http://www.psu.edu/trustees/membership.html

  21. Walt The Physicist says:

    Why would anyone suggest cut in research funding to a prominent research university based on bad science practice by a single faculty member? Shell we disband whole NASA because of Schmidt and Hansen? Dr. Mann, however badly we think of him, didn’t do anything illegal (compare for example to Jan Hendrik Schön – the biggest fraud in physics). Mann actually did what all untalented academics do – aggressively promote their opinion. Although the number of such untalented people in academia seems to be rather high, the truth always prevails at the end and cheaters are exposed. From my long time experience with federal funding agencies – most of the time they do good job in funding valid science. They do sometimes fund uncertain science; however, without that there will be no rapid and disruptive progress. Actually most of us scientists are advocating for increased funding of uncertain science in order to speed up the progress. Then, inevitably, some number of bad scientific projects and, possibly, some fraudulent projects will be funded. However, the benefit will be greater than loss. So, let’s keep some perspective and separate great science done at Penn State from Mann’s political shenanigans. And let’s continue exposing these shenanigans without becoming aggressive, militant and unreasonable as those folks are.

  22. Frank K. says:

    bladeshearerJack Maloney says:
    December 1, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Climate Science Disinformation Campaign

    Campaign?

    Actually, I consider myself part of the Skeptic Insurgency :^)

  23. Hugh Pepper says:

    Speaking of ethics….. To equate the Sandusky affair (alleged child abuse) with “Climategate”, an issue which has been thoroughly investigated already, is profoundly unethical. YOur intention is probably to generate a revival of the conversation about the stolen E-mails, thereby deflecting attention from the FACT that the research conducted by Dr Mann at al, has been accepted in the legitimate scientific community and has recently been reviewed positively by the Muller group.

  24. More Soylent Green! says:

    How many of us can honestly say our Alma Maters are really any better? We certainly hope they are, but I suspect this don’t rock the boat, keep your mouth shut and pray the public never finds out mentality is endemic in our universities.

    How many academics complained about the first ClimateGate whitewash? None, that I’m aware of. How many academics have complained about the Virginia AG’s investigation of Mann at UVA? Quite a few.

  25. David Larsen says:

    I thought we had the end of Planet of the Apes after Russia collapsed. Now we have it again with climate change and global warming. Someone needs to put those apes back in their banana trees so they can watch the horizon.

  26. Smokey says:

    Hugh Pepper,

    Suzuki and others are indoctrinating young children with outright lies and propaganda. That is child abuse, just a different kind from what Sandusky and others did to children. Both are child abuse, and Pepper is being an apologist for child abuse.

    In addition, Pepper deliberately misrepresents the situation when he says emails were “stolen”. But if something was stolen, what exactly is missing? And what evidence does Pepper have that the emails were not put online by someone with legitimate access to them? Answer: none.

    Folks, Hugh Pepper is just another alarmist apologist who has no ethics and no moral compass. He is defending a fraudulent “investigation” in which Mann was actually allowed to huddle with his co-conspirators at the university before the official questioning, to decide which questions would be asked. And not one opposing witness was even permitted to attend those faux “investigations”, much less make a single statement for the record.

    I’d like to give Hugh Pepper the benefit of the doubt and write him off as a clueless lunatic. But I think he knows exactly what he is doing: carrying water fror unethical and dishonest scientists by trying to spin their scientific misconduct into something acceptable. It’s not acceptable, it is defrauding the public that pays the bills.

  27. Roger Knights says:

    H. Pepper says:

    research conducted by Dr Mann at al, has been accepted in the legitimate scientific community and has recently been reviewed positively by the Muller group.

    Not the dendro stuff, surely. Muller et al. dealt only with the last 60 years.

  28. Martin C says:

    Hugh Pepper (8:58am)
    . . hey, you forgot the tag to your post . . . ( what, you didn’t forget the tag . . ? )

    The comparison between the Sandusky issue and Climategate is that they were blatantly wrong actions that were BOTH COVERED UP.

    IF you really believe that the ‘investigation’ that was done concerning the ‘hockeystick’ issue truly cleared Mann of doing anything wrong, you are clueless . . .

  29. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Hugh Pepper says:
    December 1, 2011 at 8:58 am

    … YOur intention is probably to generate a revival of the conversation about the stolen E-mails, thereby deflecting attention from the FACT that the research conducted by Dr Mann at al, has been accepted in the legitimate scientific community and has recently been reviewed positively by the Muller group.

    I’m sure that if your claim the Muller reviewed Mann’s work positively is a FACT as you say, that you can provide some evidence or a citation to back it up.

    Equally, I’m sure that your failure to back it up will greatly increase the odds that rather than being a FACT, it is simply (to use your inimitable style) your FANTASY.

    Muller, AFAIK, has said nothing about Mann’s paleoclimate work. He did say:

    The Climategate thing was a scandal. It was terrible what they did. It was shameful the way they hid the data.

    That’s your pal Michael Mann he’s talking about there, Hugh, hiding the data. Muller doesn’t seem so impressed with Mann there.

    w.

  30. gnomish says:

    trust them to educate your kids.

  31. Bob Rogers says:

    Gail Combs says:
    “Penn States first effort [was] under Bryce Jordan in the 1980′s…. This effort is more significant, involving not just 180 staffers but also 400 volunteers – all donors themselves – who bring a personal touch to the sales pitch. About 60 faculty are involved this time. [You are going to need a rock star and that is what Mann is.]”

    As a Penn State Alumni, I can tell you I never heard of Mann prior to reading about him on this website. I get calls from those volunteers all the time. They just ask for money — they never try to justify it by talking about research the University is doing. If they did, it would definitely be things from inside your college. The last girl who called was telling me about how the building where the College of Business has its offices had been renovated and I wouldn’t recognize it.

    I don’t think I’ve ever even seen an article about Mann in the alumni magazine (“The Penn Stater”). He’s not a bilp on the alumni radar.

    When Bryce Jordan retired from Penn State, his fundraising abilities were celebrated. IIRC, that’s why they hired him in the first place — because he had a successful track record in those regards. He was a long term strategist. Despite having three degrees in Music, he caused the University to build a world class basketball arena, in order to be able to host tournaments, in order to be able to recruit better ball players. Probably with a mind towards getting the university mentioned in the media more often.

    I don’t think most people have any real idea how large an institution Penn State is. There are nearly 100,000 students spread across the world enrolled with Penn State. There are 20 campuses with 80,000 full time equivalent students. The research budget this year was $870 million (about the same size as the endowment). The annual budget is about $4 billion (yes, that’s with a “b”).

    The President of the University probably isn’t even aware that there is an ethics seminar.

  32. Phil R says:

    Leon Brozyna says:
    December 1, 2011 at 5:52 am
    Penn State … where ethics are taught, not practiced.

    Heh, reminds me of the old saying, those that can’t do, teach. (No offense indended to teachers, there are tons of good ones, but a lot of incompetents end up teaching because they can’t do anything else.)

  33. More Soylent Green! says:

    Let’s face, the football team brings in more money each year than any academic department brings in in a decade.

  34. Doug in Seattle says:

    Walt The Physicist says:
    December 1, 2011 at 8:28 am
    . . . let’s continue exposing these shenanigans without becoming aggressive, militant and unreasonable as those folks are.

    As a scientist I sympathize with your view but disagree with your assessment of the funding world as it currently exists. Science funding from government sources has been hijacked by the likes of Michael Mann. Many of the once prestigious science publications have been co-opted and corrupted by Mann and the TEAM. Government agencies, such as the EPA and NOAA are similarly co-opted and corrupted.

    It is not non-aggressive, non-militant, and reasonable dealings from the skeptics that is succeeding in reversing their agenda.

    Three things have done this. These are the weather of the last 10 years, the tenacity and aggressiveness of climate bloggers (some more militant than others), and the sheer unadulterated luck that someone with both IT talents and a conscience was present at UEA when the FOIA requests started arriving (a possible fourth is the economy, but I’d like to think its was coincidental rather than causative).

  35. TomB says:

    Hugh Pepper says:
    December 1, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Speaking of ethics….. To equate the Sandusky affair (alleged child abuse) with “Climategate”, an issue which has been thoroughly investigated already, is profoundly unethical.

    They are equated. While you may not regard the so called investigation of Michael Mann as a whitewash, I certainly do. What this points to is an institutional bias to hush things up, quickly sweep them under the rug, and pretend they never happened. Since that’s their reaction on the Sandusky scandal (which we now know pre-dated the Mann “investigation”), it was a simple choice to follow the same route for Mann’s ethical infractions.
    It’s a cover-up reaction that’s endemic to the institution and it needs to change.

  36. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Mann/Hansen/Jones/IPCC/CRU/Penn State gets mentioned, and once again Hugh Pepper pops up with a press release-grade blanket denial of wrongdoing such as a professional damage control consultant would issue. Indeed, this one strives so hard to be positive and ignore facts in evidence (such as dissension over Mann’s work revealed in the emails) that it ventures into falsehood, just like this one.

    I’m starting to think “Hugh” is auto-summoned by a keyword search script with pre-written comment templates ready to launch, with subsequent comments based on keywords mined from any replies. The comments even look like they’re assembled from set phrases that are somewhat contextually-relevant with a few fill-in-the-blank elements.

    Look at what happened with Dave Middleton. His first WUWT guest post was on Dec 26, 2010. On that day, just hours later by the posting times, “Hugh” showed up at Dave Middleton’s blog and started an extended exchange defending ‘the integrity and robustness of legitimate climate science’ as well as ‘the urgent need for action’. On Middleton’s About page, of all places. Guess that exposure on WUWT was enough to get him listed on the rapid-response “Denial Alert System” and triggered the initial attack. ;-)

  37. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Area Man on December 1, 2011 at 6:25 am:

    Pennsylvania is an interesting and “different” state in many ways (just ask anyone from out of state who tries to buy beer or wine in a grocery store). For example, it is the only state that does not allow local police to use radar for speed detection.

    That leads to a scenario where the state Dept. of Transportation is tasked with evaluating speed detection technology without necessarily having the technical expertise to do so, which in turn leads to approval of flawed devices without even performing field testing.

    As I’ve long heard as a lifelong Pennsylvania resident, it’s the State Police themselves who don’t want the locals to have radar guns. And there’s a very good reason why the locals might not want them either.

    As I found over a decade ago when debating fighting a speeding ticket, what’s used instead of radar is VASCAR. It’s a simple system. There will be two white lines painted across a road, often 100 feet apart. VASCAR is a glorified stopwatch and calculator. The officer dials in the distance. When they see a vehicle go over the first line they flip a switch up. When it goes over the second line they flip it down. VASCAR then computes the average speed. There is no ‘evaluation of the technology’ needed.

    Radar guns need certification, tickets get thrown out if the calibration is out of date. There’s a verifiable paper trail. VASCAR has no such trail. So if the Fine Upstanding Officer is slow when starting the timing and/or quick to stop it… It’s your word versus the officer’s, and the calculator doesn’t lie. Send in the fine promptly, you have no defense.

    BTW, while bottled wine must still be bought from the state-run monopoly, and beer by the case or keg comes from private beer/soda stores, you can now get six-packs of beer from grocery stores… If they set up a special area for consuming on the premises with chairs, tables, and a separate door going outside the building. Our one local supermarket did that, sure looks weird with all those unused tables and chairs.

  38. jorgekafkazar says:

    misterjohnqpublic says: “Penn State culture of coverup:
    a) Michael Mann’s hide the decline
    b) the Penn State Climategate Whitewash Committee
    c) the Administration’s “look the other way” treatment of Sandusky…”

    There’s also d) Penn State administrators fired Joe Paterno in an attempt to push the blame downward, away from where the cover-up took place. Paterno reported the rape to his superior and to the head of PSU’s police, AND he has not even been charged with a crime (yet). Many colleges don’t kick players actually charged with rape off their football squads, since (and I quote from memory) “they have a right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.” I’m no Paterno fan, and he has a hell of a lot to answer for, but the higher-ups clearly acted prematurely, at best, trying to cover their own hypocritical butts.

    …Penn State may have become the most infamous and unethical college in the USA.

    No, they’re just the one that karma caught up to first. The same “us-them” mentality and profound arrogance are found almost everywhere in academia. Those whom the gods would destroy, they first drive insane with hubris.

  39. SSam says:

    Walt The Physicist says:

    “Why would anyone suggest cut in research funding to a prominent research university based on bad science practice by a single faculty member?”

    It’s not a “single” faculty member. It’s a rampant culture of arse covering, white washing and protecting lucrative programs.

    I would be surprised if murder is not beneath these criminals.

    http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/DA-Who-Never-Charged-Sandusky-Has-Been-Missing-Since-2005-133615093.html

    Old saying… “If you sleep with dogs, you get fleas.”

    Every single “higher education” organization has been JACKING their tuition at rates well above inflation.

    Nah… CUT THE @#$$ FUNDING and let them prove that they have a beneficial reason to earn public money.

  40. Cary says:

    Hmmm…Penn State – maybe there’s a connection here with Pennzoil. How much of Mann’s research is funded by big oil?

  41. Damage6 says:

    As a father of two rapidly approaching college age kids (both honor roll students) I can tell you that I will be scrutenizing potential colleges to screen out ones who have benifited from the great green scam. I will also have no problem writing the ones screened out to let them know why. I would hope that other parents would do likewise.

  42. Area Man says:

    Kadaka (3:22pm), ENRADD is what I was referring to:

    http://alerts.motorists.org/nma-state-alert-for-pennsylvania-enradd-speed

  43. Tom says:

    I think we should applaud them for being on the razor sharp cutting edge of ethic diversity.

  44. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Area Man on December 1, 2011 at 6:06 pm:

    Kadaka (3:22pm), ENRADD is what I was referring to:

    I found a nice little one-page site that explains the technology. By the WHOIS info it looks like it really was put up by a concerned individual who wanted to get out truthful info about the system, not a company.
    http://www.enradd.com/

    So it’s just another glorified stopwatch and calculator, but the timing signals are generated using infrared beams by sensors on portable mounts, each mount made with a fixed 3 foot distance, two mounts for the two sides of the road. Which should make it more accurate than VASCAR with less possible human error. And there is regular calibration with a paper trail. Looks pretty good. The only major downside, speaking as a driver, is those VASCAR white lines are easy enough to spot, and you can remember where they are so you know where you really have to watch your speed. ENRADD is far more unnoticeable.

    At your link mentioning the woes of Earle Drack, electrical engineer, and his fight against ENRADD, the two links there do some strange redirects, so I found a direct link for the first one:
    http://alerts.motorists.org/pages/test-JojAv

    It mentions his first ticket in 2007. It didn’t mention that he lost his court case he filed in 2007 after PennDOT turned down the records request he made under PA’s Right-To-Know Law (RTKL):
    http://www.courts.state.pa.us/OpPosting/CWealth/out/2365CD07_6-11-08.pdf

    At that first link there’s apparently some details of his written testimony before the PA Senate Transportation Committee during a hearing on August 17, 2010. For a lot of it, it’s hard to tell here what parts are from the testimony and what aren’t. Basically, his argument seems to be vertical misalignment of the sensors can cause the beams to trigger on different parts of the vehicle (like first the front tire and then the front bumper), leading to calculating too-fast speeds. Well, the sensors are only three feet apart on a fixed mount, so it’ll take some doing to mess that up too much. There’s also a simple solution found in industry that can be used in future versions, have several sensors mounted vertically on the uprights and connected in parallel to establish a “curtain,” then the most-forward part of the vehicle’s profile will always be doing the triggering.

    Earle Drack looks to be an interesting person. He had another ticket in 2009, fought both of them. I found this March 22, 2010 TV report mentioning him, pre-dating (and leading to?) his PA Senate testimony (bold added):
    http://www.wtae.com/news/22910814/detail.html

    Earle Drack admits he likes to drive fast and has gotten his share of speeding tickets. And he says he’s always paid them without a fight. But the last ticket Earle got?

    Earle Drack: “I looked down at my speedometer when I was pulled over and didn’t think I was going anywhere near the speed they said. And so that got me looking into this device that supposedly clocked me.”

    As it says at the enradd-dot-com site, you could have been timed as going too fast long before you see the flashing lights and are getting pulled over. Well, given he didn’t mention fighting his 2007 ticket, and did mention his lead foot, I think Mr. Drack has merely found a way to perform serial obfuscation to cover his bad driving habits.

    I also found another reason for PA drivers to not want the locals to have radar. The TV piece mentions Dave Riesmeyer, links to a previous piece about when he beat a speeding ticket. He was charged with doing 64.5mph in a 50mph zone, but his commercial GPS unit showed he was doing 57. How did get off when he admitted he was 7mph over the limit, but wouldn’t have if it really was 14.5mph over?

    The difference is relevant because state law says a motorist must exceed the speed limit by at least 10 mph to get a ticket, if police aren’t using radar on a road with a speed limit less than 55 mph.

    So if the locals get the “more accurate” radar, the locals will be able to write lots more speeding tickets.

  45. Area Man says:

    Kadaka (12/1 11:51pm):

    In an attempt to bring this issue slightly on topic, I’d observe the following as being lessons learned from WUWT and climategate:

    1) a denied FOI request does not mean the denial was legitimate, nor does it mean the requester is incorrect regarding the technical/scientific issues.

    2) when one resorts to ad-hominem arguments, it’s usually because they have no scientific/technical rebuttal.

    3) idealized models are no replacement for real-world experimental data. In this case no road testing was done prior to approval.

    Here the beam heights are not fixed as you suggest but rather each of the 2 transmitters and 2 receivers is adjusted independently. Even if they were fixed, however, unless the road and shoulder areas are all perfectly flat alignment there would still be a problem.

    What’s hard to understand is how you can both acknowledge that a “curtain” approach is what’s needed and what’s been proven to work, yet at the same time dismiss the points that were raised.

    It would seem to be a pretty clear case of a failure to do a thorough job of evaluating the scientific claims of accuracy, with the result being unwarranted costs born by (some) citizens. Sound familiar?

  46. Area Man says:

    “… borne by (some) citizens.”

  47. Jimbo says:

    Talking of ethics and scandals:

    “Penn State scandal sheds light on ethical gray areas”
    Alaska Dispatch 2 Dec 2011

    and

    “Enis scandal surprises backers of Penn State”
    Portsmouth Daily Times – Dec 24, 1997

    and

    “LEGISLATORS JOIN FRAY ON PENN STATE SEX FAIRE”
    Philadelphia Inquirer – February 28, 2001

    and

    “PSU PANEL URGES FIRING TENURED PROFESSOR”
    “A math professor at Penn State’s Wilkes-Barre campus has been recommended for termination based on accusations he plagiarized”
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – April 9, 2004

    and

    “Penn State professor murdered 3 in 1965″
    Post-Gazette – July 26, 2003

    and so on………………..

  48. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Area Man on December 2, 2011 at 3:35 am (parts out of sequence):

    Here the beam heights are not fixed as you suggest but rather each of the 2 transmitters and 2 receivers is adjusted independently. Even if they were fixed, however, unless the road and shoulder areas are all perfectly flat alignment there would still be a problem.

    What is fixed is the 3 foot separation, as can be seen in the pic of the mounts on the manufacturing company’s ENRADD page. Yes, the head heights are adjustable, you can see them in a different position in the Sales and Services brochure.

    But really, using a tape measure to set the heights at the same distance from the ground should be sufficient, to avoid that tire/bumper alignment issue.

    What’s hard to understand is how you can both acknowledge that a “curtain” approach is what’s needed and what’s been proven to work, yet at the same time dismiss the points that were raised.

    A curtain would remove a possible source of operator error, that tire/bumper issue, and simplify setup. But I wouldn’t say it was needed.

    You can point to several possible sources of error besides the large tire/bumper one, and they can add up. But, do they really add up to a lot? PA law sticks in that 10mph clause, which is a pretty large error margin. At that point it’s a given that you are speeding, you are guilty, all the arguing is just quantifying how guilty you are. Of all the advice I’ve heard with speeding tickets, the primary one is to go to the hearing, the chances are good that the busy officer won’t make the hearing and it’ll get dismissed. If that doesn’t happen, admit you were speeding but not that much, plead to a lesser offense. Or say you can pay the fine but you don’t want the points assessed on your license. Magistrates can be relatively lenient on such a simple offense, especially if your driving record is otherwise good.

    1) a denied FOI request does not mean the denial was legitimate, nor does it mean the requester is incorrect regarding the technical/scientific issues.

    A court ruled the denial of Mr. Drack’s request was legitimate, and the ruling noted he was provided with some relevant documents anyway, thus PennDOT obliged him beyond what they had to. While IANAL, I’ve read the ruling and can understand the reasoning. Mr. Drack can, of course, appeal to a higher court, could possibly find a lawyer to do it pro bono and there’s always the ACLU and similar groups. Perhaps with the new version of the RTKL a new request from him would be more successful.

    But on the technical/scientific issues, I find his main argument lacking, the tire/bumper thing. I just checked my little Neon, there is about 1’8″ (1.67′) between the tip of the bumper and the front tire. For my big old pickup, only 1′. So if I was doing 50mph, my PU would read (3/2)*50mph=75mph. The Neon would read (3/1.67)*50mph=90mph. Both would be rather glaring differences from the observed average traffic speed, which I must assume any competent police officer would note as an error.

    Look, to keep it simple, if you get pulled over due to ENRADD, insist on observing the setup, take pictures, take measurements. Prove that either the alignment error occurred or at least it was highly likely. Trying to argue the system is somehow inherently inaccurate and shouldn’t be used, really isn’t helpful. Besides, if it was true then I’m sure some “crusading journalist” would have pounced on it by now. That first TV news piece presented Drack’s theories, but really couldn’t find anything substantial. Personally, I agree with the ending of that piece:

    We spoke with the president of the company that manufactures ENRADD, and he says the device is just as accurate as radar if used properly.

    Jim Cowden of YIS/Cowden Group says, “Could somebody set this up wrong and screw the public with an erroneous reading? Yes. But they could do the same thing with radar. And at some point, the integrity of the police officer who is trained in the proper use of ENRADD has to come into play.”

    Another part:

    3) idealized models are no replacement for real-world experimental data. In this case no road testing was done prior to approval.

    Technically speaking, from what you’ve provided and I’ve found so far, I can find no requirement that any such road testing has been required for any such unit in PA.

    2) when one resorts to ad-hominem arguments, it’s usually because they have no scientific/technical rebuttal.

    It ain’t ad hom when I’ve considered the scientific/technical aspects but also wonder about Mr. Drack’s motivations. Heck, I’ve been there too, got a ticket, checked out the tech. But in Mr. Drack’s case, he, an admitted leadfoot, has transformed his search into a personal mini-crusade.

    It would seem to be a pretty clear case of a failure to do a thorough job of evaluating the scientific claims of accuracy, with the result being unwarranted costs born by (some) citizens. Sound familiar?

    Nah. There’s the 10mph error margin, and I can avoid any costs by simply not speeding. Can’t do that with the assorted (C)AGW taxes, open and hidden. For accuracy, the system is dead simple, a glorified stopwatch and calculator, when correctly set up it’s inherently accurate. The arguments against ENRADD boil down to questioning the competence and integrity of those taking the measurements, which is all that’s similar to the arguments against the (C)AGW-pushers.

  49. Brian H says:

    Penn State: the country’s leading Cover Your Assiversity! Beating out a large and deserving slate of contenders.

  50. Area Man says:

    Re: kadaka on December 2, 2011 at 5:13 pm
    But really, using a tape measure to set the heights at the same distance from the ground should be sufficient, to avoid that tire/bumper alignment issue.

    This is exactly the type of thing that actual road testing would have verified if it was indeed the case, but no road testing was performed. I suspect you will find that getting the beam heights to within even ~0.5” of each other at every point across a real road with a real crown, real road unevenness, and real traffic during setup is a real challenge. What is the real error rate due to this error mechanism on real roads? No one knows because no one measured it.

    You can point to several possible sources of error besides the large tire/bumper one, and they can add up. But, do they really add up to a lot?

    Yes; for example, a vehicle passing in the opposite direction and breaking the stop beam after your vehicle has broken the start beam will cause an error anywhere from 0mph (if it breaks the stop beam just before you do) up to some very large number limited only by the max speed reading ENRADD can give which I believe is 120mph (if it breaks the stop beam right after you break the start beam). Do you really believe such a flawed system is a reasonable basis for writing citations? Do you really not understand that a thorough approval process would have caught such obvious flaws and required they be addressed prior to approval?

    PA law sticks in that 10mph clause, which is a pretty large error margin. At that point it’s a given that you are speeding, you are guilty, all the arguing is just quantifying how guilty you are.

    Unless the device is in error by >10mph, of course. See above and below. Even then, it’s not as if 10mph is subtracted from the measured speed; it just means the threshold is passed. So a device in error by 11mph results in a citation for 11mph over the speed limit, not 1mph over.

    But on the technical/scientific issues, I find his main argument lacking, the tire/bumper thing. I just checked my little Neon, there is about 1’8″ (1.67′) between the tip of the bumper and the front tire. For my big old pickup, only 1′. So if I was doing 50mph, my PU would read (3/2)*50mph=75mph. The Neon would read (3/1.67)*50mph=90mph. Both would be rather glaring differences from the observed average traffic speed, which I must assume any competent police officer would note as an error.

    So you find the argument lacking but agree it can produce errors up to +40mph. Wow. But you dismiss that because it will always be obvious. Uh, OK. And you are apparently certain that the errors will always be that big, never in the 10 – 20mph range? Think about it; for an angled lower bumper edge, a whole range of errors are possible depending on bumper angle, beam height, and mismatch. It’s hard to understand the motivation behind claims that such a flawed design is acceptable.

    As for the argument that every motorist should be obligated to observe the setup, take pictures, and prove an error, this turns the US justice system on its head. The way this was supposed to have worked is that a big initial effort in device approval testing and analysis should have been made precisely so individuals can have to each prove that the device is accurate. Same as is done with breathalyzers, blood alcohol tests, or any forensic testing for that matter. Great effort is typically made to keep evidence based on flawed devices and junk science out of courts.

    Besides, if it was true then I’m sure some “crusading journalist” would have pounced on it by now.

    Like the CapitolWire story?

    Jim Cowden of YIS/Cowden Group says, “Could somebody set this up wrong and screw the public with an erroneous reading? Yes. But they could do the same thing with radar. And at some point, the integrity of the police officer who is trained in the proper use of ENRADD has to come into play.”

    As Steve McIntyre would say, watch the pea carefully! The issue is not, of course, whether the device can be in error if set up “incorrectly”. That’s a red herring. The real issues are:
    1) whether it is possible to set up the device such that a reasonable error rate is achieved
    2) what that error rate is
    3) whether the device will alert the operator if the setup is not sufficient to maintain the reasonable error rate.

    Technically speaking, from what you’ve provided and I’ve found so far, I can find no requirement that any such road testing has been required for any such unit in PA.

    On this point we agree. While radar must be of a type approved by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (and thus the NIST), non-radar device approval is inadequate. That is the point.

    Heck, I’ve been there too, got a ticket, checked out the tech. But in Mr. Drack’s case, he, an admitted leadfoot, has transformed his search into a personal mini-crusade.

    Like McIntyre/Watts/etc.? The way I see it, the internet has made it possible like never before for an interested party with specific knowledge to expose false claims and bad science. Sometimes it happens quickly (remember “Memo-gate/Rather-gate” and how quickly the forged documents were picked apart?). Other times it takes a while.

    In this case I don’t agree with your logic; he admits he just pays his tickets when guilty, but fought and won in court in the ENRADD cases, then works to get the device evaluated properly so that others are not unfairly accused. What problems do you see with that motive? What should he do if he believes the device is flawed, ignore it and let others suffer? Is that how you would handle a similar situation?

    Nah. There’s the 10mph error margin, and I can avoid any costs by simply not speeding. Can’t do that with the assorted (C)AGW taxes, open and hidden. For accuracy, the system is dead simple, a glorified stopwatch and calculator, when correctly set up it’s inherently accurate. The arguments against ENRADD boil down to questioning the competence and integrity of those taking the measurements, which is all that’s similar to the arguments against the (C)AGW-pushers.

    You or anyone else cannot avoid tickets when the device is off by >10mph. You cannot (or at least should not) claim the device is accurate unless testing shows it to be. There are good reasons to believe it will mix spurious large errors among mostly accurate measurements. Using such a device to measure hundreds of vehicles in one session, even a 1% error rate will lead to a very large number of unfair citations state-wide. Remember, an error rate of 1% doesn’t mean that 1% of the citations are unfair; it means that 1% of the measurements are in error. If one in 20 vehicles is cited, then ~ 1 in 5 citations may be unfair. An error rate of >5mph in less than 0.01% of the measurements is probably a good goal for this type of system.

    As for Drack questioning the competence and integrity of those taking the measurements, where did that come from? Drack’s testimony is pretty clear that he sees this as a device approval issue and acknowledges the police are stuck with the technology they are allowed to use by the state.

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