Climate Skeptics Try To Spin Penn State Exoneration of Dr. Michael Mann Into “Whitewash”

Wed, 2010-02-03 17:51Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

Climate Skeptics Try To Spin Penn State Exoneration of Dr. Michael Mann Into “Whitewash”

Penn State University’s inquiry into climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann’s conduct surrounding the emails stolen from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University concluded there is no evidence to substantiate the claims made by the right-wing media against Mann.

The Penn State panel cleared Dr. Mann of any wrongdoing in three of the four areas it probed, recommending only that a separate panel of faculty members pursue a follow-up investigation into the allegation that Dr. Mann “engaged in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting or reporting research or other scholarly activities.”

Dr. Mann’s response to the outcome:
“This is very much the vindication I expected since I am confident I have done nothing wrong.

I fully support the additional inquiry which may be the best way to remove any lingering doubts. I intend to cooperate fully in this matter – as I have since the beginning of the process.”

Pete Altman over at NRDC’s Switchboard blog notes: “That’s about as close to a silver bullet as you are going to find in terms of shooting down the conspiracy theorists who are touting their ‘climategate’ nonsense.”

Altman notes that Professor Mann has “has been the victim of an extended vicious and unfounded smear campaign.”

But none of that seems to sink into the brain of the self-titled “Junkman,” Steven Milloy, who instead screams “whitewash” and accuses Penn State of ignoring allegations that were never under question.  Milloy would rather Penn State investigate whether global warming is real to suit his own fantasies that there is a debate on that question.  He just can’t stand the fact that a formal inquiry launched by a prestigious university didn’t end up the way he wanted it to.

Compare Milloy’s headline “Penn State primes for the Climategate whitewash” with that of many mainstream outlets covering the Penn State inquiry:

Climategate melts away: Global warming expert exonerated – Kansas City Star.

Panel Absolves Climate Scientist – The New York Times.

US ‘climategate’ scientist all but cleared of misconduct – New Scientist.

‘Climategate’ inquiry shows scientist didn’t falsify data
– Montreal Gazette.

Milloy wasn’t the only one to try to spin Penn State’s exoneration of Mann into something it isn’t.  Witness:

Fox News: Penn St. Investigating Scientist Over Research Misconduct

Wall Street Journal:School to Probe Climate Scientist

James Dellingpole at The Telegraph: Michael Mann as innocent as OJ – possibly more so – finds internal Penn State investigation

The right wing outlets who screamed bloody murder over “Climategate” just can’t seem to handle the outcome of the inquiry that found no evidence of the data tampering or interference with information requests that they hoped would emerge.  They can’t tolerate the fact that Dr. Mann was vindicated.  So they resort to spin. 

Why am I not surprised?


To paraphrase the old legal rhetoric advice; when the evidence is in your favour, pound the evidence. When the evidence is against you, pound the desk. The denialists have been “pounding the desk” for a long, long time.

Alexis de Tocqueville Institution [AdTI] was linked to Lorillard and Phillip Morris corporations. AdTI is linked to Dr. Fred Singer in the tobacco documents, the Cooler Heads Coalition, Consumer Alert, Heartland Institute, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Fred Singer; have all been active in global warming denial

Thinktanks and individuals involved in denying links between Tobacco and cancer AND the causes and effects of climate change:
Cooler Heads Coalition; Consumer Alert; Heartland Institute; and the Competitive Enterprise Institute

Fred Singer; Steve Milloy; Fred Seitz

Compare with
Read: Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to Manufacture Uncertainty on Climate Science

Connection made via

They have a lot riding on Mann. Why he should be a lightning rod for them when there are so many others whose work supports him, I can’t imagine, but they seem to think if Mann can be felled, the whole AGW case collapses. If they had been picking away at my personal & professional integrity year after year, I’d have a few choice words for the sceptics myself!

Of course, even when the investigation clears him of any lingering doubt, the likes of Milloy and Monckton will spin it somehow. It would be very useful to have a tally of how many papers have reproduced Mann’s results using other proxies etc., and to draw the attention of Fox News et al of their conclusions. But I’m not holding my breath …

The interesting aspect here is that many supposed skeptics were joyful when Penn State announced the investigation. Now that the result does not go their way, it’s a “whitewash”.

But we should not be surprised about this. There is only one accepted outcome.

Dr Michael Mann has been exonerated a number of times by appropriate scientific and academic organisations. The denier industry know this full well but as we all know their objective is not to attack the data but the man.
I have to admire Michael Mann for his resiliance, any lesser mortal would have folded under all the pressure he has had to endure. I thank him for his persistence in the face of all the attacks against him, the world is a better place and science is being well served.

On a different note, I understand DeSmogBlog’s move to more closely moderate comments and applaud this. If one looks at some of the comments posted to the less well managed blogs, James Delingpole at the UK Daily Telegraph immediately come to mind, some are them are quite disgusting with foul language and even the occasional incitement to violence. Keep up the good work DeSmogBlog

I’ll have to buy Dr. Mann a beer if I ever make it back to State College again.

If you honestly are aware of such falsification you are ethically bound to expose it – specifically. Unsubstantiated general claims are themselves unethical because they effectively accuse everone you have had contact with – a form of slander.
The scientific community treats data falsification very seriously. It violates the very heart of scientific ethics. So any substantiated charge would be seriously dealt with.
Interestingly climate science and people like Mann and Jones have been scrutinized so thoroughly we can be pretty confident of their honesty Iwas so much impressed by what i saw at . It has been their critics, people like mad Monckton, who have been caught falsifying data and lying.
They need to “clean up their act” if they want to be listened to.

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This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

Energy giant Kinder Morgan was recently called insensitive for pointing out that “Pipeline spills can have both positive and negative effects on local and regional economies, both in the short- and long-term.” The company wants to triple its shipping capacity from the Alberta tar sands to Burnaby, in part by twinning its current pipeline. Its...

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