What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 7, 2010

A Revisit of Sorts

An astute reader mailed this in yesterday:
Between you and me, you’re way off base with your post “A Tale Of Two Papers.”

You must not have read the rest of Mike’s story. It includes an interview that offsets what the Climate Depot guy said. It chalks his words up to nothing more than “character assignation" that seeks to attack the person, not the issue. A very strong point, indeed. That wasn't part of your post. The story is very thorough and quotes Mann quite a bit, along with a Penn State spokeswoman. That's more than I can say for other media sources.
In case you missed it, this is the blogpost my astute reader critiqued.

Perhaps my astute reader is correct about my blog post. However after rereading my post and Cronin's story, I am standing by my piece.

My main point was that Cronin was spinning the story by skimming over the three allegations (including the one that was actually about whether Mann falsified data - he didn't) and quickly jumping onto the one allegation left unresolved. It's the context of the story that makes its spin obvious - it's found on the pages of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a paper let's remember that's no fan of climate science. Were Cronin to point out too stridently that the report found no evidence that Mann falsified data, then the Trib's narrative that "Climategate" undermines climate science would itself be undermined.

After reading Cronin's piece it still seems obvious to me that he spun the story in favor of his paper's bias against climate science.

My astute reader's argument about the skeptic and the interview that "offsets" the skeptic's charge is little more than a he said/he said situation. Is it true that Mann is a "statistical charlatan" as the skeptic asserts? It's not enough to just quote someone to disagree with him. In fact since the report from Penn State declares that there's no credible evidence that Mann falsified data, we can safely assume that he's not a charlatan.

So why include the skeptic's ad hominem attack at all unless Cronin was looking to toss some red meat to the other climate skeptics to be found among the Trib's readership?

As evidence, let's take a look at one of today's editorials:
The inconvenient truth about Penn State University's decision to further investigate only one of four "formal allegations" against Church of Climatology high priest Michael Mann -- one pertaining to the style, not the substance, of his "research" -- is that it's a self-protective blue-and-whitewash.

Professor Mann, a key figure in the Climategate e-mails scandal, created the discredited "hockey stick" temperature graph. The pass Penn State is giving him on allegations of suppressing or falsifying data, deleting or concealing e-mails and misusing privileged or confidential information is the result of "expert" academic parsing that reduced those e-mails' damning evidence to meaningless mush.
Here's how the report gives Mann a pass on the first allegation:
After careful consideration of all the evidence and relevant materials, the inquiry committee finding is that there exists no credible evidence that Dr. Mann had or has ever engaged in, or participated in, directly or indirectly, any actions with an intent to suppress or to falsify data. While a perception has been created in the weeks after the CRU emails were made public that Dr. Mann has engaged in the suppression or falsification of data, there is no credible evidence that he ever did so, and certainly not while at Penn State. In fact to the contrary, in instances that have been focused upon by some as indicating falsification of data, for example in the use of a “trick” to manipulate the data, this is explained as a discussion among Dr. Jones and others including Dr. Mann about how best to put together a graph for a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report. They were not falsifying data; they were trying to construct an understandable graph for those who were not experts in the field. The so-called “trick”1 was nothing more than a statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion by a technique that has been reviewed by a broad array of peers in the field.
But since the Trib's braintrust already knows the truth, no amount of evidence will convince them that the report is anything but a whitewash. Simple, really. No need to think.

And do we really need to go back to the "hockey stick" thing? Do I really need to point out that the National Research Council concluded that:
The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes both additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators, such as melting on ice caps and the retreat of glaciers around the world, which in many cases appear to be unprecedented during at least the last 2,000 years. Not all individual proxy records indicate that the recent warmth is unprecedented, although a larger fraction of geographically diverse sites experienced exceptional warmth during the late 20th century than during any other extended period from A.D. 900 onward.
There's less confidence the farther back you go, but to assert the hockey stick's "discredited" is just false.

But again this is the Trib. No amount of factual data will convince them. They know the truth. Anything that diverges from the truth is part of the conspiracy.

Funny thing - since The Pentagon seems to accept the reality of climate change here, how long must we wait before Richard Mellon Scaife's brain trust denounces the US Military for spreading socialism?

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