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Virginia High Court Rejects Case Against Climatologist Michael Mann 420

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-to-go dept.
ananyo writes "The Virgina Supreme Court on Friday tossed out an investigation by the state's conservative attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, into Michael Mann, the former University of Virginia climatologist whose work on the now-famous hockey-stick graph has become a lightning rod for climate skeptics. 'In a dense and conflicted 26-page ruling (PDF) covering a century and a half of case law — including references to kings as well as modern "functional incongruities" that divided the judges themselves — Virginia’s high court ruled that the university is not a "person" and thus is not subject to Cuccinelli’s demands under the state’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.' The 'climategate' scientist has been cleared of wrongdoing by a number of investigations."
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Virginia High Court Rejects Case Against Climatologist Michael Mann

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2012 @10:16AM (#39231061)

    It can easily be seen by your reference to "hiding the decline" that you simply don't understand what youy're talking about. One doesn't "hide" anything by publishing papers about it that get hundreds of citations. A piece of advice: read less denialist propaganda, more actual scientists' work. Michael Mann didn't "hide" his work, reproduced it more than once, and his results have been supported by all other work in this area -- with decentered PCA, without it, using other statistical methods etc. Heck, even Wegman trying to discredit Mann had to remain content with the "bad method, good results" diagnosis. You're just throwing the same old mud that didn't stick the first time -- while each year, as more reserach is done, Mann's work is more vindicated. No wonder the denialosphere is getting openly hostile to science in general -- there's no other way to ignore the fact that science unequivocally supports Mann, not you.

  • Re:An agenda (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2012 @10:31AM (#39231177)

    Unlike the pretenders to the throne, I am a real scientist. I can back my claims. I worked in hyperspectral satellite data acquisition at one point in my career and the relative IR impact of water, methane and CO2 is common knowledge. Maybe we should stop the water cycle instead of the carbon cycle (yes, that's a joke).
    Water vapor H2O ~54 %
    Carbon dioxide CO2 ~9%
    Methane CH4 ~7 %
    Ozone O3 ~5 %

    Further From New Foundations for Classical Mechanics:
    **BEGIN QUOTE**
    Celestial Mechanics is the crowning glory of Newtonian mechanics. It has
    revolutionized man’s concept of the Cosmos and his place within it. Its
    spectacular successes in the 18th and 19th centuries established the unique
    power of mathematical theory for precise explanation and prediction. In the
    20th century it has been overshadowed by exciting developments in other
    branches of physics. But the last three decades have seen a resurgence of
    interest in celestial mechanics, because it is a basic conceptual tool for the
    emerging Space Age.

    The main concern of celestial mechanics (CM) is to account for the motion of
    celestial bodies (stars, planets, satellites, etc.). The same theory applies to the
    motion of artificial satellites and spacecraft, so the emerging science of space
    flight, astromechanics, can be regarded as an offspring of celestial mechanics.
    Space Age capabilities for precise measurements and management of vast
    amounts of data has made CM more relevant than ever. Celestial mechanics
    is used by observational astronomers for the prediction and explanation of
    occultation and eclipse phenomena, by astrophysicists to model the evolution
    of binary star systems, by cosmogonists to reconstruct the history of the Solar
    System, and by geophysicists to refine models of the Earth and explain
    geological data about the past.

    To cite one specific example, it has recently
    been established that major Ice Ages on Earth during the last million years
    have occurred regularly with a period of 100,000 years, and this can be
    explained with celestial mechanics as forced by oscillations in the Earth’s
    eccentricity due to perturbations by other planets. Moreover, periodicities of
    minor Ice Ages can be explained as forced by precession and nutation of the
    Earth’s axis due to perturbation by the Sun and Moon.
    **END QUOTE**

  • by pnewhook (788591) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @10:40AM (#39231253)

    No sorry, this is clearly a witch hunt.

    Read here: http://spectator.org/blog/2010/05/17/top-mann-nemesis-hes-not-a-fra [spectator.org]

    it was an extremely odd audience reaction: McIntyre received a standing ovation upon his introduction, thanks to his dogged research and unrelenting demand for information and accountability, but then his blase' attitude about scientists' behavior -- particularly Mann's -- left most of the audience cold and some even angry. The applause for McIntyre was tepid upon the conclusion of his remarks.

    Clearly the supporters of the audit are not interested in the truth, they are only interested in seeing Mann fail, regardless of the evidence. Get off your high 'this is fraudulent use of tax dollars!' horse and actually look at the evidence and conclusions - not what the crackpot right wing tells you to think.

  • Re:personhood (Score:5, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @10:46AM (#39231289)

    UVa is an agency of the state of Virginia. It is not a corporation, it is a part of the government which means it can assert sovereign immunity.

  • by tgibbs (83782) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @11:12AM (#39231525)

    Actually, no. McIntyre proved that there was a technical flaw in Mann's method of statistical analysis that could occasionally cause an artifactual upturn (or, with equal probability, a downturn) at the end, but despite analyzing a large number of noise data sets, he was not able to find even one case that generated an upturn that approached the magnitude of Mann's "hockey stick" analysis. So, correctly interpreted, McIntyre's results proved that it was highly unlikely that Mann's Hockey Stick curve could result from the artifact. So it is not surprising that numerous subsequent studies, using analyses not subject to this error, and also looking at other types of climate data, have confirmed that the hockey stick is correct. [skepticalscience.com]

    So in the end, McIntyre's technical criticism of Mann's approach (which at worst involved a subtlety of statistical analysis that no reasonable scientist would have called a "fraud") turned out to be correct, but irrelevant to Mann's conclusion.

  • Re:An agenda (Score:5, Informative)

    by colinrichardday (768814) <colin.day.6@hotmail.com> on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:09PM (#39231955)

    We're 200 years into a 1000 year cycle of magnetic pol revrsal.

    You're off by a factor of 100. The average time between reversals is 100,000 years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth's_magnetic_field [wikipedia.org]

  • by budgenator (254554) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:19PM (#39232029) Journal

    Peer review,

    A valuable resource for those in traditional medicine as well as complementary practitioners, Homeopathy publishes peer-reviewed articles that will appeal to a multi-disciplinary audience. Homeopathy [elsevier.com]

    It is only as good as it's reviewers. A big part of what Cuccinelli was trying to determine was whether the research was in fact peer-reviewed or cronie-reviewed

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:25PM (#39232075)

    Have you even been in a university, and made the comment that the domain you're the expert in directly contradicts climate change ? (just take one of the many mathematical problems that affect applied sciences) See the effect. At once people who work in administration claim that they know your domain. People from biology know with certainty that combinatorial mathematics can't possibly have anything useful to say about statistics, and that you're wrong anyway. And they actually band together on this ! It is so unbelievably stupid.

    Oh and point out that the first 2 IPCC ARs (ie. the basis for the Kyoto accords) were flat-out wrong ... and you've just caused a shitstorm. Yet there can be no mistake. They predicted A, and ~A happened. Simple, testable, and, according to just about the entire scientific community, wrong. WTF ?

    And the worst of it is, by stating that you will have made a few enemies.

    For those who don't know, there's gaping holes in the mathematical underpinnings of pretty much every science with only one small exception (it's not maths, only a very small subset of maths, sadly). And yes, climate change is particularly bad for a supposed exact science, being only based on indirect historical non-repeatable observations and not even claiming to have the laws that govern the climate. I said "climate", the only laws we have that apply are about interactions of very small numbers of molecules, in situations with extremely low entropy. Yet climate science applies those laws to a system that has so many secondary effects it isn't even funny and literally enough entropy to entire villages of the map on a monthly basis.

    Technically we "know the laws", but the laws prohibit drawing conclusions once you pass a certain rather trivial volume or complexity (the so-called chaotic behaviour). Needless to say, the atmosphere is so far beyond that limit that it's not at all funny. The measurements are so extremely limited it's just plain sad. The athmosphere is a 100km shell above the earth's crust. We measure (and this is being generous) a ~ 1m shell, and have point measurements, spaced far apart in both space and time outside of that tiny shell. It's like the nuclear fusion problems. We are perfectly aware of every possible interaction that can occur in the reactor vessel, just as long as it involves less than a few thousand ions and neutrons. Of course a real reactor vessel involves billions of billions of billions of ... of ions and slightly less neutrons (initially we thought neutrons would stay out of the way ... seems almost funny today. Believe it or not, reactor vessels have edges, superconductors have to actually exist somewhere and when neutrons meet either of those, hilarity ensues). We have models, simulations, laws, supercomputers, ... you name it. And every time they turn on that vessel a few hundreds of billions of ions decide to band together and try to blow it up in a new, very exciting, very bad and very unexpected way.

    In reality the workings of climate science, never mind it's hypotheses and theories, don't pass the standards of most applied sciences. They certainly don't have anything like the rigour that is applied to fusion designs or lhc experiments. Climate scientists should be laughed out of conferences, yet just about everywhere I go one such presentation is made to make the conference "socially relevant". It is without exception a bunch of pretty pictures, accompanied by mathematics a first-year high school student should know to be horribly wrong. Yet lo and behold : ... at these presentation you get the questions like "what can we do to help this ?". Every single speaker at a maths conference gets torn to shreds, either because they're wrong, or because they bruised the ego of one of the senior researchers (very easy to do, just prove something that just might be useful for proving their research is never going to work). Just by comparison, in one of my present

  • Re:An agenda (Score:2, Informative)

    by Barsteward (969998) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:39PM (#39232165)
    "God-given brain" - the brain is not given by a god
  • Re:An agenda (Score:3, Informative)

    by EkalbG (872803) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:06PM (#39232383)
    Actually, the research of Michael Mann and many other climate scientists has concentrated very specifically on understanding cyclical patterns, volcanic eruptions and other natural processes that impact climate. One of the key challenges has been to figure out how to provide accurate and reliable temperature reconstructions going back a significantly long period of time (way before there were thermometers to perform direct measurements) in order to ferrit out the relative impact of cyclical patterns, single event effects (like volcanic eruptions) and anthropogenic effects on temperature. The primary method to do this has been to use proxy data derived from things such as tree rings, ice cores and the like. Because this data exists overlapping periods when direct temperature measurements could be taken the proxy data could be calibrated to within a certain error factor. The resulting findings have shown that even allowing for the effects of cyclical patterns and single occurance events the anthropogenic impact has been the dominate contributor over the last half century. Another thing to understand, and an issue even in this article is the incorrect use of the term "skeptic". These people are not skeptics (skeptics can be convinced in the presence of new data). These people are deniers who ignore data that disagrees with their world view. Scientists by their vary nature are skeptics and so to have this large of a consensus in the scientific community is even more of an indication of the validity of the conclusion that 1) the climate is warming by an unpresidented rate and 2) the dominant contributor is anthropogenic.
  • Re:Can't be sued? (Score:5, Informative)

    by J'raxis (248192) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:23PM (#39232531) Homepage

    The university is probably a "person" whenever it wants to be, but isn't whenever it wants to be.

    We're fighting a similar case in New Hampshire. A couple decades ago, the University of N.H. employed their legal "political subdivision" label in order to protect themselves against another party in a lawsuit. And the court duly recognized their status as a political subdivision of the State of New Hampshire.

    So recently a group of activists tried to challenge [freekeene.com] the UNH's firearms policy by pointing to N.H. RSA 159:26, which states that no political subdivision of New Hampshire can regulate firearms; only the Legislature may do so. The university of course tried to argue they're not a political subdivision.

    If the legal system here was even remotely non-corrupt, this would be a slam dunk. The principle employed here is called "collateral estoppel" in legal parlance. "You can't have it both ways" might be another way to describe it. Or "blatant hypocrisy."

    Guess which way the Superior Court ruled.

  • Re:An agenda (Score:4, Informative)

    by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @02:03PM (#39232833) Homepage Journal

    I'd really like a citation for that little statistic in there...

    Since you asked, most Americans don't grasp it yet, but the truth is that the global elite are absolutely obsessed with population control. In fact, there is a growing consensus among the global elite that they need to get rid of 80 to 90 percent of us. The number one commandment of the infamous Georgia Guidestones is this: "Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature." Unfortunately, a very high percentage of our global leaders actually believe in this stuff.

    This philosophy is now regularly being reflected in official UN documents. For example, the March 2009 U.N. Population Division policy brief begins with the following statement:

    What would it take to accelerate fertility decline in the least developed countries?

    This agenda showed up again when the United Nations Population Fund released its annual State of the World Population Report for 2009 entitled "Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate".

    1. 1) "Each birth results not only in the emissions attributable to that person in his or her lifetime, but also the emissions of all his or her descendants. Hence, the emissions savings from intended or planned births multiply with time."
    2. 2) "No human is genuinely "carbon neutral," especially when all greenhouse gases are figured into the equation. Therefore, everyone is part of the problem, so everyone must be part of the solution in some way."
    3. 3) "Strong family planning programmes are in the interests of all countries for greenhouse-gas concerns as well as for broader welfare concerns."

    The population control agenda is also regularly showing up in our newspapers now. In a recent editorial for the New York Times entitled "The Earth Is Full", Thomas L. Friedman made the following statement:

    You really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we’ll look back at the first decade of the 21st century — when food prices spiked, energy prices soared, world population surged, tornados plowed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all — and ask ourselves: What were we thinking? How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we’d crossed some growth/climate/natural resource/population redlines all at once?

    But Friedman is quite moderate compared to many others. For example, James Lovelock stated in an interview with the Guardian earlier this year that "democracy must be put on hold" if the fight against global warming is going to be successful and that only "a few people with authority" should be permitted to rule the planet until the crisis is solved.

    The Finnish environmentalist Pentti Linkola is openly calling for climate change deniers to be "re-educated", for a world government to be established and for humans to be forcibly sterilized and for the majority of humans to be killed.

    This agenda is even being taught by professors at many top universities. Professor of Biology at the University of Texas at Austin Eric R. Pianka is a very prominent advocate of radical human population control. In an article entitled "What nobody wants to hear, but everyone needs to know", Pianka said:

    *First, and foremost, we must get out of denial and recognize that Earth simply cannot support many billions of people.
    *This planet might be able to support perhaps as many as half a billion people who could live a sustainable life in relative comfort. Human populations must be greatly diminished, and as quickly as possible to limit further environmental damage.
    *I do not bear any ill will toward humanity. However, I am convinced that the world WOULD clearly be much better off without so many of us.

    CNN Founder Ted Turner

  • Re:personhood (Score:4, Informative)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @02:13PM (#39232903)

    Just wait a few months for the SCOTUS to rule on Esther Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum (aka Shell). Based on what the conservative majority was saying during the hearings, it looks like they're getting ready to rule that corporations are not persons when it comes to suing them for human rights violations, thus making them immune to the law suits. They'll be able to commit whatever atrocities they want in the third world, and their victims' only recourse will be through the corrupt local courts.

    The case can be traced back to that scandal from the 90s where some Nigerian villagers were protesting Shell's destruction of their local environment, so Shell collaborated with a local junta to have them all murdered. Shell payed a settlement for that one, but they're working on having carte blanche for this sort of thing moving forward.

    But of course, they'll still be "persons" in the sense that lets them buy off politicians.

  • Re:An agenda (Score:2, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @02:17PM (#39232941)

    Phrenology and cold fusion were never widely accepted scientific views.

    Eugenics is scientifically valid, and repugnant politically.

    Aether was always a problematic idea. Read the history; the properties needed for it to be real were always contradictory to observations.

    The only idea that you listed that was in fact widely accepted that doesn't fit what is known now was the fixed universe.

  • Re:An agenda (Score:5, Informative)

    by oiron (697563) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @02:44PM (#39233143) Homepage

    Since you asked, most Americans don't grasp it yet, but the truth is that the global elite are absolutely obsessed with population control. In fact, there is a growing consensus among the global elite that they need to get rid of 80 to 90 percent of us. The number one commandment of the infamous Georgia Guidestones is this: "Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature." Unfortunately, a very high percentage of our global leaders actually believe in this stuff.

    OK, I'm no American, but I'll play...

    First, let's keep the anonymous polemics out of this, eh?

    This philosophy is now regularly being reflected in official UN documents. For example, the March 2009 U.N. Population Division policy brief begins with the following statement:

    What would it take to accelerate fertility decline in the least developed countries?

    Not related to climate change, but let's read the report [un.org]:

    Fast population growth, fueled by high fertility, hinders the reduction of poverty and the achievement of other internationally agreed development goals. While fertility has declined throughout the developing world since the 1970s, most of the least developed countries still have total fertility levels above 5 children per woman.

    5 children per women is definitely a fertility level that's unsustainable in Nigeria. Or even here in India. This is nothing new - those countries with stable governments have been more or less going in the direction of lower fertility rates for decades. See this [gapminder.org] Gapminder plot, for example. In any case, the report says nothing about global warming. It's about health and happiness, not warming.

    This agenda showed up again when the United Nations Population Fund released its annual State of the World Population Report for 2009 entitled Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate".


    1. 1) "Each birth results not only in the emissions attributable to that person in his or her lifetime, but also the emissions of all his or her descendants. Hence, the emissions savings from intended or planned births multiply with time."
    2. 2) "No human is genuinely "carbon neutral," especially when all greenhouse gases are figured into the equation. Therefore, everyone is part of the problem, so everyone must be part of the solution in some way."
    3. 3) "Strong family planning programmes are in the interests of all countries for greenhouse-gas concerns as well as for broader welfare concerns."

    That would be this one [unfpa.org]

    The interesting thing is, this isn't really talking about eliminating 80% of the population of the world. Both reports talk about fertility rates, family planning and improved health. The second one is a little hyperbolic about climate change, but nevertheless, it's not a call to cull 80% of the world's population.

    The population control agenda is also regularly showing up in our newspapers now. In a recent editorial for the New York Times entitled "The Earth Is Full", Thomas L. Friedman made the following statement:

    You really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we’ll look back at the first decade of the 21st century

  • Re:An agenda (Score:4, Informative)

    by BlueParrot (965239) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @03:43PM (#39233567)

    I call bullshit on the parent. The complete failure to mention that water is saturated in the atmosphere, that any excess condenses out as rain, as well as pretending climate scientists ignore water vapour contribution, when every climate model in existence includes it as a positive feedback dependent on temperature, tells me that he either pretends to have higher qualifications in the field than he does, or he knows full and well that he is being deliberately misleading or lying through his teeth. In particular his "joke" absolutely stinks of the usual "lol climate scientists are so stupid" nonsense we hear all the time.

    Water is the main greenhouse gas in the earth's atmosphere, but it does not mean that the CHANGE in climate can be explained by water vapour, nor does it imply that carbon dioxide is irrelevant. The amount of water held by the air is largely dependent on temperature. If it gets hotter, more evaporates from the oceans, if it gets colder more will fall out as rain. Carbon dioxide on the other hand tends to stay in the atmosphere for a very long time, and is not absorbed by the oceans, plants or reactions with the earth's minerals at a rate quick enough to compensate for the vast quantities we put into the atmosphere.

    Consequentially increasing CO2 concentrations will produce a warmer atmosphere, which in turn increases water concentration, which means the warming from a given amount of CO2 will be greater than you'd expect from CO2 alone.

    ANY climate scientist worth his salt (or indeed anybody who even tried to learn about the topic ) would be well aware of this fact, yet the parent appears to either not know about it, or deliberately refraining to point it out in order to make a stupid joke. He's either incompetent or dishonest.

  • Re:An agenda (Score:2, Informative)

    by Tom (822) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @05:08PM (#39234181) Homepage Journal

    One of the strongest evidences for conspiracy theories is the style of selective quoting you show: Many short quotes by many different people, all well picked to create a narrative.

    It's exploiting a psychological quirk of human beings: That we are more easily convinced by consistent narratives than by complicated facts. There's a lot of very interesting, fairly recent (past few decades) research into this fascinating area.

    But that doesn't make it one bit true. It's fraud, plain and simple. Exploiting psychological weakness to make a point that facts can not support is a fraudulent activity.

    I'm not even saying your quotes are out-of-context or wholesale inventions, though I strongly suspect that at least some of them are. But that doesn't matter, because we know the facts and they don't match your nice story:

    1. The globe can sustain a population at the current level, provided we move to a pollution level per person much below the current one of the civilized world
    2. Food is a more important problem with overpopulation than pollution. Pollution and global warming are not by necessity tied to population levels, but to energy generation and our methods of doing so.
    3. Reducing population growth is indeed a serious issue that needs to be solved in the forseable future. Population reduction is such an extraordinarily claim that you need a lot better support for it than a couple of choice quotes. In fact, contrary to what I wrote above, I've actually downloaded the 2009 UNFPA report and guess what, your alleged quote doesn't appear in it. If you respond to this, kindly include the page number.

    In fact, I believe everything you've written is made up. I've checked the Ted Turner "quote" as well, and it appears exclusively on crackpot websites like "endoftheamericandream.com" - the domain name says it all. I could not find one single respectible source for it.

    Of course, that's all because the globale elite suppresses it through their control of the media. You need to pick up a good book on dissonance theory [wikipedia.org].

  • Re:An agenda (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tom (822) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @07:43PM (#39235033) Homepage Journal

    And your own technique is a very common one,

    You are right. Debunking is a common technique.

    my assertion and defense of the very groups and powerful, wealthy people advocating depopulation makes your own agenda questionable to an objective observer.

    I'm really curious what you would guess my agenda is...

    No, seriously. Let me know.

    the first quote starts on the bottom of page 21,

    Now that gives it the missing context. See, you put it into a context of depopulation, but the entire chapter is about population growth, and on p. 22 it puts the necessary depth into the debate by pointing out that the relationship is varied and in some countries the per-capita emissions are even falling.

    If you read the entire report - or just a few chapters - it doesn't seem to support your claim that some mysterious global elite is planning to kill most of the world population in the slightest. It's a calm review of what we know about the relationship between various factors such as population, consumption, transporation, energy consumption, etc.

    As for Ted Turner's quote, it (along with the entire context and his views) was first published in an interview given in 1996 to the magazine of the American conservation organisation The Audubon Society

    The reference is all over the net. The Audubon Magazine website itself doesn't seem to know about it: http://www.audubonmagazine.org/search/node/ted%20turner [audubonmagazine.org]

    Quotes get made up all the time, and once enough people are quoting it, everyone thinks it's real. There are a nice number of examples for this effect, and too few journalists who actually check the sources. In fact, one of the pet /. topics has an example: The estimate for losses to movie "piracy" are such a thing. Someone once made up a number, and that number has been quoted and re-quoted ever since, with everyone referencing someone else who only got it somewhere else, until it has so many references that it seems real.

    I'm serious, I've tried to find it. Now the funny thing is - I'm not alone. Search for "interview" in the comments here:
    http://www.mediaite.com/online/ted-turner-bashes-tea-party-calling-them-mean-spirited/ [mediaite.com]
    Someone else is asking some other one else the same question I am - and gets no reply.

    So, in the language of the IntarWeb: "Pics or it didn't happen".

    And yes, the burden of proof lies with you. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I am highly sceptical, but I can be convinced. I took a few months to make up my mind about 9/11, for example. I used to doubt that ECHOLON was real, but as more and more evidence has surfaced that I was wrong, I've come around.

    But depopulation on a massive scale? And advocated by the very people who have the most to lose from any major socio-political change? That's a crackpot theory and those spreading it are frauds and liars. And I say that in these clear words because I'm not on TV like Pen & Teller and thus I can say what I believe.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake

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