Mann's Hockey Stick, Climategate, and FOI – in a nutshell

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On the Climate Audit thread, The Vergano FOI Request the irascible Nick Stokes provokes another commenter “mpaul”, to lay out all the history in a simple summary that even Nick might understand. I thought it was worth repeating here for readers who have not followed the twists and turns in detail, and also in the hope that Dr. Michael Mann might read it and get a clue. Obstruction doesn’t pay.

From this Climate Audit comment:

mpaul

Posted May 30, 2011 at 1:16 PM | Permalink

But I don’t think snooping through people’s private emails is a dignified activity.

Nick, I’ll turn the sarcasm off for a moment. I agree with you on this point. I have been an advocate for Cuccinelli CID process. Say what you will about Cuccinelli’s motives, but the American justice system provides protections for the accused and standards of procedure that do not exist in the court of public opinion.

We have arrived at this point in history along the following path:

(1) Steve wanted to replicate MBH98 and asked for data. Mann initially complied, but then began to obstruct.

(2) Steve successfully obtained the needed data and demonstrated serious flaws in Mann’s approach.

(3) Mann defended his work by saying that other Hockey Stick reconstructions validated his method and his conclusions.

(4) Attention turned to replicating the other reconstructions. By now, the Team had become extremely defensive and a sort of bunker mentality took over. Years of obstruction followed.

(5) Those seeking the data and methods used in the HS reconstructions became more and more aggressive, eventually turning to FOIA as a tool to pry loose the information.

(6) Then “a miracle happened’. A file containing materials and emails requested under FOIA turned up on the internet. Most everyone would agree that the contents of the emails warranted an investigation. The only investigation that specifically looked into Mann’s conduct was undertaken by Penn State. Penn State cleared Mann noting that Mann stated:

(a) he had never falsified any data, nor had he had ever manipulated data to serve a given predetermined outcome;

(b) he never used inappropriate influence in reviewing papers by other scientists who disagreed with the conclusions of his science;

(c) he never deleted emails at the behest of any other scientist, specifically including Dr. Phil Jones, and that he never withheld data with the intention of obstructing science; and

(d) he never engaged in activities or behaviors that were inconsistent with accepted academic practices.

(7) Critics have charged that the Penn State investigation was inadequate. Michael Mann has subsequently stated that he did, in fact, participate in an orchestrated effort to delete emails covered under FOIA, raising questions about the veracity of statements he made to the Penn State investigators. Penn State seems untroubled by this.

A real, independent investigation, subject to rules of evidence and judicial procedures, is needed. Such an investigation is the only way to put and end to Climategate and is the only way to restore the tattered reputation of climate science. I think both Virginia and Pennsylvania should conduct an investigation. However, if UVa continues to obstruct the CID, then FOIA is the only option and Mann will be afforded no protection of his privacy.

Mann and UVa are playing a losing game. Its sheer folly to attempt to frustrate a State AG in a law enforcement investigation. Cuccinelli has nuclear weapons at his disposal and UVa has water pistols. If Cuccinelli loses the CID battle, he will simply file a lawsuit and obtain the materials through discovery. Or, if UVa really pisses him off, he will convene a Grand Jury. For Mann personally, this would be catastrophic. Mann and UVa should cooperate with the CID process.

It’s sad that we have arrived at this place. But at every juncture in this journey, Mann has chosen the wrong path.

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ShrNfr

If I lie to a Federal Official, no matter if I am under oath or not, it is considered obstruction of justice and hence a crime. I am not sure what Mann said to who, but if it involved Federal authorities and he stated one thing and then another later, he had better get a good lawyer. There is a potential to prosecute him for this.

James ibbotson

The old method of show your work…….. Would have put a stop to this if there was nothing to hide.
It’s the basic premis of all professional work. Document document document, so that anyone can follow your work, working as part of a team.

cgtoronto

re: getting a clue
Dr. Michael Mann couldn’t get a clue even if his mom dropped him off in front of the clue store and handed him a clue coupon.

Autochthony

Why is this not required reading for legslaors – and commentators – everywhere?
In a walnut-shell.
mpaul – so many thanks!
A.

Theo Goodwin

Please, Dr. Mann, please keep stonewalling. Please provoke a grand jury inquiry. Then maybe some of the Climategate Elite will learn how the everyday taxpayer lives.

RockyRoad

“Or, if UVa really pisses him off, he will convene a Grand Jury. For Mann personally, this would be catastrophic. Mann and UVa should cooperate with the CID process.”

Actually, what could be more refreshing than to finally uncover the truth, albeit at the sacrifice of Dr. Mann. (I’ve reached the point in life that I’m looking back evaluating if my contribution to mankind has been worth the effort. For Dr. Mann to do so would be a big negative–a wasted life, a felonious one at that.)

crosspatch

The argument that it is somehow an unsavory act to snoop though someone’s email doesn’t seem to come into play when someone wants all of a government department’s email, does it? I mean, I seem to remember a lot of hoopla surrounding the scooping up of a bunch of Bush Administration email.
When you have research that is conducted with public money and you have the results of that research possibly influencing the allocation of orders of magnitude more public money, and when you see activity consistent with attempting to hide the data and methods used in that research, the public has a right to the correspondence concerning that research. Granted, the public has no right to someone’s discussions with their proctologist, but that is not what is at issue here. This is correspondence pertaining directly to that research.

at every juncture in this journey, Mann has chosen the wrong path.
The best way to ensure people trust you, is to demonstrate that you are your own worst critique: to proactively seek to have your work cross checked and validated. The fact that Mann had made a mistake was not a problem, so long as he was prepared to acknowledge that mistake and deal with it. Instead of dealing with his mistakes, he has continually tried to pretend there was no mistake.
Every real scientist makes mistakes, indeed the best ones probably make the biggest mistakes. So what marks out the great scientists is that they learn from their mistakes and improve their work as result thereby gaining tremendous credit amongst their opponents.
In contrast Mann just can’t get it out of his thick skull, that when you’re in a hole, the worst possible strategy is to keep digging.

Scott Covert

mpaul, it may sound petty but I am so disgusted with the whole hockey team I can’t express.
At this point I would rather see them continue on the path of obstruction till they burn themselves alive than to see them cooperate.

Jack

The tragedy here is what isn’t being said. These so-called climate scientists, Mann, Jones, et. al., have been lying about their dishonest methods. They have been conspiring to prevent the publication of other scientists work. They have been misleading the public. And they have done all of it at the tax payers expense.
What scientist wouldn’t want their work to be scrutinized, if they knew they were correct?
What scientist would want their work scrutinized if they knew their work to be wrong, and stood to lose standing, funding if they were found out? Mann, Jones, and the rest are of the second sort.

James Sexton

What’s funny is people believe this could or would put an end to the climate madness we’re in. Even if Cuccinelli goes nuclear and even if he finds felonious behavior, it won’t stop the machine.
I remember arriving in D.C. some time ago. The mayor of this nation’s capital had just been video taped smoking crack! Every where I went, there were t-shirts worn with words something akin to “The female dog set him up!” Anyway, trail and prison interrupted his running for mayor, but after he was done with that, he became mayor of our nation’s capital once again. He’s sitting on the council now.
It just works like that. For people that liked the mayor, there was nothing that could be shown about him the would change their mind about him. It didn’t matter what he did or didn’t do. The same would be true about MM and the minions that believe in the cause he champions. Nothing else will be seen as relevant.

Steeptown

Why does Nick Stokes continually make himself look as bad as Mann? Why does he continue so strongly to defend the indefensible? What is it about the character of these people that makes them that way?

Frank K.

crosspatch says:
June 2, 2011 at 1:49 pm
When you have research that is conducted with public money and you have the results of that research possibly influencing the allocation of orders of magnitude more public money, and when you see activity consistent with attempting to hide the data and methods used in that research, the public has a right to the correspondence concerning that research.

Crosspatch is entirely correct. The reason that this is being fought tooth and nail (to the tune of $0.5 million +) has EVERYTHING to do with the influence this “research” (via the IPCC and other world entities) is having on our daily lives through: (1) cap and trade legislation, (2) energy production restrictions, (3) overzealous EPA regulation, (4) restrictions on vehicle production, and on and on…
In short – there are billions of dollars wrapped up in the climate industry. Climate scientists are basically trying to protect their stash, while simultaneously aspiring to be “rock stars” in the extreme eco-advocacy arena (cf. Jim Hansen).
And remember – they don’t care about YOUR job – just theirs…

starzmom

Re ShrNfr comment: Martha Stewart went to jail for way less than this. I hope for his sake, too, that Mann has a good lawyer. I am also really glad I am not a Virginia taxpayer having to foot the bill for a state institution to obstruct and defy the state attorney general in a legal matter.

pesadia

Never have so many been decieved by so few.
With apologies to Winston Churchill

Wouldn’t it be funny if everyone sent Mann a squirt gun?

Bryan A

It is truly unfortunately that, in all likelihood, If Mann and others were brought before the Grand Jury in an effort to clean up the entire mess, they would ALL likely plead the 5th to avoid self prosecution. So unless one volunteers to turn states evidence, nothing is likely to come of the effort

MarkW

They say it’s not the initial actions which get you in trouble, it’s the cover up.
In Mann’s case, it will probably be both.

Fred from Canuckistan

So many hundreds of billions of dollars have been wasted, misdirected into futile and sometimes criminal public policy initiatives, enriching may of the great promoters of AGW in their careers and or their bank accounts.
Justice will be done and the fools will be made to pay.

golf charley

Under US Law, are there charges that could be brought against those within UVa, that have aided and abetted the obstruction?
Or will graduates of UVa have to suffer being the butt of jokes for years to come? Along with Penn State graduates of course.
Climategate has only confirmed what many thought of UEA in the UK. See Monty Python sketch on Village Idiots

Dave L.

If you have not read Montford’s “The Hockey Stick Illusion”, then you are likely not up to speed regarding this post. It is advertised on the right hand column of this website.

stan

No one went snooping through e-mail. CRU prepared the file. The file didn’t contain all e-mails, only the ones that were responsive to the FOI request.

Phil Clarke

(2) Steve successfully obtained the needed data and demonstrated serious flaws in Mann’s approach.
(3) Mann defended his work by saying that other Hockey Stick reconstructions validated his method and his conclusions.

And by demonstrating that the criticisms had an insignificant effect on the conclusions.
(5) Those seeking the data and methods used in the HS reconstructions became more and more aggressive, eventually turning to FOIA as a tool to pry loose the information.
MBH98/99 are now over a decade old, all the data and code for Mann 2008 were published with the paper.
Michael Mann has subsequently stated that he did, in fact, participate in an orchestrated effort to delete emails covered under FOIA,
Tosh, possibly libellous. He forwarded a mail, without comment, to Gene Wahl, who states: For the record, while I received the email from CRU as forwarded by Dr. Mann, the forwarded message came without any additional comment from Dr. Mann; there was no request from him to delete emails. . Mann commented:- Mann said, “I felt Eugene Wahl had to be aware of this e-mail … it could be used against him. I didn’t delete any e-mails and nor did I tell Wahl to delete any e-mails.”
Orchestrated campaign? Participate? Pure Handwaving.

golf charley

Dave L
I second that recommendation for the Hockey Stick Illusion by Andrew Montford.
If only the politicians would read it, they might realise how they are being conned into wrecking the economies of the developed world.
Though not covered in the book, the developing world has seen no benefit from measures to restrict CO2 emissions, and has actually led to less investment in infrastructure. People are not dying from global warming, but a lack of clean drinking water and electricity, denied to them by the myth of man made global warning.

Kev-in-Uk

I am not a conspiracy theorist by any stretch of the imagination – but the lack of transparency in this particular issue (and of course many others) is somewhat damning. As has been said many times before, if you have nothing to hide, then why hide?
As far as I am concerned, the data and workinsg were most probably flawed. Further, Mann and the ‘Team’ probably knew that it was flawed and could easily be discovered.
If there was clear scientifically based proof of AGW – we wouldn’t be here discussing. Those that promote the theory really need to put up or shut up!

Green Sand

Dave L. says:
June 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm
If you have not read Montford’s “The Hockey Stick Illusion”, then you are likely not up to speed regarding this post.

It is also a damn good read and a more than useful ongoing reference book.

Kev-in-Uk

I did intend to add that the progress and timescale of the HS problem has prevented ANY possible chance of the perpetrators (Gore included!) ever being able to hold their hands up and say ‘oops, we made a mistake’ – now, it’s just fraud, plain and simple!

crosspatch says: June 2, 2011 at 1:49 pm
“The argument that it is somehow an unsavory act to snoop though someone’s email doesn’t seem to come into play when someone wants all of a government department’s email, does it? I mean, I seem to remember a lot of hoopla surrounding the scooping up of a bunch of Bush Administration email.”

I don’t think you’re remembering right – details? There was the hacking of Sarah Palin’s email, but did you ever see people going through them and looking for every gotcha?
What was noted about Bush Admain’s emails was the massive shift of government business onto private, mainly RNC accounts. Senior public servants like Karl Rove did all their business there. And on the official accounts, millions went missing. Later 22 million turned up which had been hidden away.
Makes Phil Jones’ attempt to get a few erased look small.
A bit more about some other email practices from those times:
Late Tuesday, the Bush Administration admitted that in reviewing documents requested by Democrats for their investigations, it discovered that as many as 50 of its staffers may have violated the Presidential Records Act. The staffers, the White House said, were using e-mail accounts, laptops and BlackBerries provided by the Republican National Committee for official executive branch communications rather than the exclusively political work for which they were intended. Because the RNC had a policy until 2004 of erasing all e-mails on its servers after 30 days, including those by White House staffers, and because some of those staffers may have deleted e-mails on their own, the White House said it could not assure Congress that they have not violated the PRA, which requires the retention of official White House documents. The White Houseofficials who may have broken the law include senior adviser Karl Rove, his deputies and much of their staffs.

golf charley says: June 2, 2011 at 2:46 pm
“Under US Law, are there charges that could be brought against those within UVa, that have aided and abetted the obstruction?”

Which obstruction exactly? Filing (and winning) a lawsuit?
Note mpaul’s point 2 above:
“(2) Steve successfully obtained the needed data and demonstrated serious flaws in Mann’s approach.”
Nothing was hidden.

R.S.Brown

Anthony/mpaul,
Mike Mann and a number of other “Team” members made presentations
to Congressional Committees over the years. However, to the best of my
recollection, Mike and the others never testifed under oath.
Nobody was under oath during the Penn State investigation.
One can put enough qualifiers into a statement in a presentation that makes
it sound like you’re saying something that’s a solid, undisputable fact.
An interview or a presentation that’s not done under oath is just a press
conference in disguise. That includes those nifty Powerpoint slide shows that
made the college circuits a couple years ago. When the sophistry is trimmed
away, there’s not much left but someone’s opinion and a ball of verbal goo.
You can’t be prosecuted for an opinion about weather, climate, good science,
bad science, or whatever, no matter how wrong or untrue it might be or be
proved to be in the end. (At least, not yet.)
You can be prosecuted for knowingly making fradulent statements
to obtain or renew contracts and grants. You can be prosecuted for
knowingly making false claims as to your study’s “results” to justify the
grant monies you burned through. You
can be prosecuted for
knowingly filing false expense reports.
If people got together in person (say at an academic conference or syposium),
corresponded by snail mail, or chatted over the phone or via e-mail about
getting fradulent material past the state or federal grant application reviews,
some folks might consider that/those activities “conspiracy to commit… “.

robinedwards36

The continuing (growing?) interest in Mann’s hockey stick is fascinating. Can someone indicate exactly where his original data for the 1998 paper can be found at present? I have a set (courtesy of Steve McIntyre) from many years ago, and I wonder whether the numbers that generated (synthesised) the graph at the start of this thread are exactly those that I am very familiar with. To be more detailed, these were a matrix of 112 columns of types of observation (plus a date column) and 583 rows (dates).
The methods I use produce no real hint of an HS shape, but otherwise demonstrate plenty of structure in the data.
Robin

DirkH

Nick Stokes says:
June 2, 2011 at 3:34 pm
“Nothing was hidden.”
The decline. Using Mike’s trick. Remember?

Steeptown says June 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm
Why does Nick Stokes continually make himself look as bad as Mann? Why does he continue so strongly to defend the indefensible? What is it about the character of these people that makes them that way?

Pay (directly paid; in the employ or service of).
Pecuniary interest (books or movie deals, perhaps some of those blokes owe him financial notes/loan paybacks).
Returning a favor (he owes him/them for some obscure reason).
He’s married to Mann’s (or someone else’s) sister (IOW: a brother-in-law thing)?
It really can be hard to tell …
.

1DandyTroll

Behind the stokes character is a communist. Behind the above mentioned nick that is.
Pathetic communists always go “above and beyond” in their belief.

Fred from Canuckistan

A suitable Mannian/Jonesian/AGWian epithet . . .
“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
-Eric Hoffer
(The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements)

HankHenry

Remember, “It depends on what the meaning of “is’ is?”
When Mann says:
(c) he never deleted emails at the behest of any other scientist
Does he mean the he didn’t and wouldn’t do it at anyone’s behest; that he just did it based on his own good judgements?

Robin Edwards says: June 2, 2011 at 3:38 pm
” Can someone indicate exactly where his original data for the 1998 paper can be found at present?”

Mann’s PSU site

Theo Goodwin

Bryan A says:
June 2, 2011 at 2:26 pm
“It is truly unfortunately that, in all likelihood, If Mann and others were brought before the Grand Jury in an effort to clean up the entire mess, they would ALL likely plead the 5th to avoid self prosecution. So unless one volunteers to turn states evidence, nothing is likely to come of the effort.”
Given a grand jury experience, Mann would have a nervous breakdown and never recover. He could not bear being that close to the unwashed.

Nick Stokes says:
June 2, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Note mpaul’s point 2 above:
“(2) Steve successfully obtained the needed data and demonstrated serious flaws in Mann’s approach.”
Nothing was hidden.

Now you are engaging in knowingly spreading BS in order to hide things. Do you think we were all born yesterday? Many of us frequent CA and know exactly why your statement above is crap, and that you know it to be crap. There is another word for someone who engages in pathological deception. Maybe you should look in the mirror — you will see it tattooed backwards on your thick forehead.

Mark T

True to form the captain of the cheerleading squad steps in, “defends” a point that nobody argues, ignores the rest, then declares victory. I hope you approach your profession with the same llack of critical thinking, Nick, because you’ll earn what you deserve eventually.
Mark

Eric Anderson

Nick: “Nothing was hidden.”
Nick, you are delusional. There was a very clear and concerted effort with the hockey stick to cover up what the data really showed. You’re of course going to point to vague and obscure footnotes or references that indirectly acknowledged what was going on and that no government policy reader could possibly have understood in its full implication from that way it was described by the Team. There is no question that while there were a couple of CYA’s hidden deep in the ancillaries, there was intent to represent the data as something other than what they showed. Was there intent to deceive? Perhaps not. More likely just intent to tell the “correct” story that they knew must be hiding there in the data and that just needed to be liberated for all to see. The Team tricked themselves and there is no point in you continuing to pretend everything was all on the up and up.

Joel Shore

Robin Edwards says:

The continuing (growing?) interest in Mann’s hockey stick is fascinating. Can someone indicate exactly where his original data for the 1998 paper can be found at present?

http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/shared/research/old/mbh98.html

Steve McIntyre

Nick Stokes says” Nothing was hidden”.
Unfortunately, Nick is disseminating disinformation too often these days and this is merely one more example. For example, at an early stage (and at later stages), I asked Mann for the actual reconstructions for the 11 steps (which he called “experiments”) i.e. his actual results. He refused. I asked Nature to require him to provide them; Nature refused. I asked NSF to require him to provide them; they refused.
That same summer, Mann supplied the same information to CRU, describing it as his “dirty laundry”, sent to them only because they were “trusted colleagues” and requiring them to make sure that the “dirty laundry” didn’t get into the wrong hands.
Mann’s actual results for the individual steps remain unavailable to this day.
Mann’s method of retaining principal components remains a mystery as well. Mann removed this section of his code from what he archived in 2006.
Mann’s recent materials are archived responsibly. In this he differs from (say) Lonnie Thompson, who has failed to provide a proper archive of any of ice cores, even ones drilled over 20 years ago.

James of the West

I would agree that it doesnt look good for Mann. He should share his data and methods openly without obstruction. I would say to those who are already saying he has comitted a crime, before he actually has a conviction, that caution is required. If he is acquitted by a grand jury where does that leave apparently libellous comments on a blog that state he is guilty before he has gone to trial? Please protect yourself and use words like allegedly or similar when making accusations before a trial has taken place. We can’t decide his guilt on a blog but we can allege that a crime may have taken place. He could also appeal that he could not have a fair trial because of media surrounding the case assuming his guilt. Tread carefully people. I am not a lawyer btw so dont take any of my advice seriously because its probably wrong.

John M

Nick Stokes

Nothing was hidden.

That’s like saying “nothing was hidden” by the Nixon Whitehouse because the WaPo dug most of it out.

Steve McIntyre says June 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm
Steve,
I repeat what mpaul said. You had the data, you had the code, and you were able to reproduce the results. In 2005 or earlier. That is all that science requires. And, as mpaul said, the code and data were the basis of your subsequent criticisms, echoed in the Wegman report.

TrueNorthist says: June 2, 2011 at 4:22 pm
” There is another word for someone who engages in pathological deception. Maybe you should look in the mirror — you will see it tattooed backwards on your thick forehead.”

TN, I think you’re getting irascible. What do you think was hidden by Mann re MBH98?

John M

Nick,
What thread is your comment on? It will be interesting to see the response.

No Mr Stokes, that is not all that ‘science’ requires. ‘Science’ requires a demonstration not only of the end result but its valid and defensible derivation as well.

John M

What do you think was hidden by Mann re MBH98?

What did he have to say about the R2 verification?