"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cuccinelli v Mann - The Debate Rages!

The Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinello has ordered the University of Virginia to produce documents relating to Michael Mann's work as he was in receipt of nearly $500000 in grant money prior to being named in the Climategate papers.

If Cuccinelli succeeds in finding a smoking gun like the purloined emails that led to the international scandal dubbed Climategate, Cuccinelli could seek the return of all the research money, legal fees, and trebled damages.

“Since it’s public money, there’s enough controversy to look in to the possible manipulation of data,” says Dr. Charles Battig, president of the nonprofit Piedmont Chapter Virginia Scientists and Engineers for Energy and Environment, a group that doubts the underpinnings of climate change theory.
Mann is one of the lead authors of the controversial “hockey stick graph,” which contends that global temperatures have experienced a sudden and unprecedented upward spike (like the shape of a hockey stick).
UVA spokesperson Carol Wood says the school will fulfill its legal obligation, noting that the scope of the documents requested mean it could take some time. Mann had not returned a reporter’s calls at posting time, but Mann— whose research remains under investigation at Penn State— recently defended his work in a front page story in USA Today saying while there could be “minor” errors in his work there’s nothing that would amount to fraud or change his ultimate conclusions that the earth is warming as a result of human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels.
Lubos Motl of the Reference Frame is totally behind the investigation of Mann and has a differnet opinion than that of Steve McIntyre below.
Is Cuccinelli bullying Mann? You bet. Is that wrong? Holy crap: Cuccinelli is the Attorney General. It's his job to be the #1 bully in his state. Steve's assertion that "Cuccinelli’s own expenditures on this adventure should be under equal scrutiny" as Mann's grants is completely preposterous.

Cuccinelli's very job description is to investigate potential criminals who have damaged the citizens of Virginia and he's clearly doing so. In fact, his office may be the most natural institution to do such things - especially in the atmosphere when the biased AGW advocates have filled many layers of the government and the Academia - layers that should normally be responsible for the "checks and balances" but they can only offer "whitewashes".
No other public official exists in Virginia to investigate and prosecute the Attorney General for his choice of the cases he pursues and that's true for a good reason: Virginia is a democracy so its Attorney General is actually elected in direct elections and Cuccinelli received 58% of the votes last year. (This paragraph originally stated that the AG is named by the governor.) On the other hand, Mann's job description has never been to push science towards particular policy goals or to bully skeptics. Mann was employed by UVA as a scientist which is something completely different.

Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit , one of the leading sceptics in the blogosphere has criticised Cuccinelli's approach :
To the extent that there are issues with Mann or Jones or any of these guys, they are at most academic misconduct and should be dealt with under those regimes. It is unfortunate that the inquiries at Penn State and UEA have not been even minimally diligent, but complaints on that account rest with the universities or their supervising institutions and the substitution of inappropriate investigations by zealots like Cuccinelli are not an alternative.
Unfortunately Mann and his associates have taken a major place in a political exercise and for Steve Mac to say this may only be academic misconduct is naive in the extreme. The cheques being written on the basis of research by Mann and  his cronies stagger the imagination ,and with trillions of dollars at stake , Cuccinello is playing hardball to get information denied by the machinations of a cadre of politically motivated scientists.
Mann dealt himself in when he and Jones et al contrived to subvert the  peer review process to prevent opposing views being considered in the biggest political and financial decions of our times. Cuccinello is definitely playing politics and he is good at it , and in this case the end does justify the means.

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