(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,
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.