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Earth The Courts News

Virginia High Court Rejects Case Against Climatologist Michael Mann 420

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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  • personhood (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @10:31AM (#39230813) Homepage

    Interesting-- so corporations are persons, according to the Supreme court, but universities aren't, according to the Virginia court.

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

    by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @10:35AM (#39230837) Homepage

    Everybody's got an agenda.
    There is no fact.

    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." []

    --Phillip K. Dick.

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

    by medlefsen ( 995255 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @10:42AM (#39230869)

    Tell that to the computer you're using which depends on two centuries worth of scientific advancement. The goal of science is to account for bias and get closer to truth in spite of it, and it's obviously worked. The same system that brought you electromagnatism, antibiotics, and plastic has now brought you climate change. You can bet against them but history isn't on your side.

  • by KiahZero ( 610862 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @10:47AM (#39230901)

    The real takeaway is "Don't do research that irritates Republicans, or they might conduct partisan witch-hunts devoid of any actual basis."

  • King's privilege (Score:4, Insightful)

    by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <> on Saturday March 03, 2012 @10:49AM (#39230911) Homepage

    From the decision:

    ...a "person" is defined as "any natural person, corporation, firm, association, organization, partnership, limited liability company, business or trust."


    Because UVA is indeed a public corporation, and the term "corporation" can be found in the definition of a "person" under FATA, Code 8.01-216.2, the circuit court ended its investigation at this juncture. We find that this conclusion ignored several significant reasons why "person" in Code 8.01-216.2 cannot properly be read to include agencies of the Commonwealth.


    See, e.g., Whiteacre v. Rector, 70 Va. (29 Gratt.) 714, 716 (1878) ("It is old and familiar law . . . that where a statute is general, and any . . . interest is diverted or taken from the king, . . . the king shall not be bound unless the statute is made by express words or necessary implication to extend to him.")

    Government is above the law. All hail the king. Welcome to Braveheart.

  • by KiahZero ( 610862 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @10:51AM (#39230923)

    "If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment." - a stupid sentiment, regardless of who said it.

    Anyhow, your assertions have been investigated and found to be false.

  • by pnewhook ( 788591 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @11:08AM (#39231011)

    No sorry. This conservative witch hunt against this work has been clearly shown to be politically biased and non factual. Stop perpetrating the myth.

  • Reproducable data (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @11:25AM (#39231135) Homepage

    You do know how easy it is to lie with statistics don't you? Oh right scientists can do no wrong in your world view and we should dispense with reproducibility of their claims

    You are aware that right now six different independent groups are analyzing the temperature records, using ground, ocean, balloon, and satellite measurements, and getting very consistent results?

    You are aware that an independent analysis, "BEST" (by U.C. Berkeley), was set up (and funded by, among other things, many skeptics) with the explicit purpose of doing an independent analysis without the purported "biases" that critical claim other temperature groups had. []

    Here's a quote from leading skeptic Anthony Watts about that BEST study (March 2011):

    “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.the method isn’t the madness that we’ve seen from NOAA, NCDC, GISS, and CRU.That lack of strings attached to funding, plus the broad mix of people involved especially those who have previous experience in handling large data sets gives me greater confidence in the result being closer to a bona fide ground truth than anything we’ve seen yet. Dr. Fred Singer also gives a tentative endorsement of the methods.Climate related website owners, I give you carte blanche to repost this.

    Guess what-- the results are still the same. The data showing the planet is warming is real. []

    How much "reproducability of their claims" do you want?

    Satellite measurements, ground station measurements,ocean measurements, balloon-sonde measurements, microwave measurements-- very different techniques, same answers.

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

    by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @11:38AM (#39231239)

    That's a weak argument -- essentially a mass scale argument from authority. The strong argument is that the data support the conclusion that the climate is warming and that much of that warming is due to human activity -- and no other possible cause has been shown to be sufficient to cause what has been observed.

    THAT is why the smart money is on continued warming and on conservation or other measures to contain it.

  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @11:41AM (#39231259)

    No. The scientists were being attacked because they dared to publish science results that some politicians didn't like. Those politicians were Republicans. You're entitled to your own opinions but not to make up your own facts.

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

    by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @11:53AM (#39231367)
    Fascinating that you sometimes need to quote a guy who at one point hallucinated being taken over by the prophet Elijah to some people, because he makes more sense than their ramblings, Scary, actually, given how often I have to use your quote myself.
  • Re:An agenda (Score:4, Insightful)

    by funwithBSD ( 245349 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @11:58AM (#39231405)

    It also gave us eugenics, Aether, the fixed universe, phrenology, and Fleischmann/Pons cold fusion.

    Many scientific theories that are accepted as truth at the time turn out to be false, or are superceeded as science finds out more.

    And sometimes, as in the case of phrenology and eugenics, people are harmed in the name of science.

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:38PM (#39231739)

    Looks like I've got to add a step to the list.

    The Republican 9^H10 Step Global Warming Denial Plan

    1) There's no such thing as global warming.
    2) There's global warming, but the scientists are exaggerating. It's not significant.
    3) There's significant global warming, but man doesn't cause it.
    4) Man does cause it, but it's not a net negative.
    5) It is a net negative, but it's not economically possible to tackle it.
    6) Litigate against scientists that don't follow the Republican party line.
    7) We need to tackle global warming, so make the poor pay for it.
    8) Global warming is bad for business. Why did the Democrats not tackle it earlier?
    9) ????
    10) Profit.

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

    by larkost ( 79011 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:46PM (#39232215)

    How exactly is eugenics (as a science) a bad thing? As a science all it is is the observation that we humans have changed the evoluionary pressures on our own species, with the exensino that it is in ways that most likely will favor mutations that we don't really want. For example poor eyesight is no longer a negative evelutioary pressure so you can expect it to grow in the general population.

    That is the science bit, what you are probably objecting to are the mass steriliztions in the US (if you are aware of them) or the influence those same ideas had on some of the Nazi justifications for the death camps. But the science is reposnible for neither, just as you can't blame the mass killings of the Khmer Rouge on the philophy of equality.

    And if you think that eugenics (the science) has in any way been proven false, then you are completely mistaken.

  • Re:An agenda (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2012 @02:08PM (#39232399)

    No one's denying that climate change exists or that the earth is getting warmer. What is up for the debate is the largely left-wing interpretation of climate change as something a) caused by man and b) preventable by man. This debate always turn into a "dumb Republicans don't believe in science" line of bullshit, but the reality is that many of them do believe it. They just question whether government should be spending our tax dollars trying to counter a force of nature that will do what it does regardless of how many "green" laws are put into effect.

    Also, climate change legislation provides very clear benefits to one political party and its supporters over another, and for that reason (as well as the can-we-even-stop-it reason above), it should be roundly criticized and analyzed every time it comes up.

  • Re:personhood (Score:2, Insightful)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @02:14PM (#39232457)

    Then why do corporations have free speech?

    Because it would be a violation of the rights of the people who make up that corporation, if they didn't.

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

    by qeveren ( 318805 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @02:41PM (#39232679)

    So... other than "experts" (nice fear quotes), who should they be listening to? The layman who doesn't know any better?

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

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @03:14PM (#39232907) Journal

    It's hardly a technocracy. If it was, you would probably be facing the end of using petroleum products for producing energy tomorrow. As it is, governments do just enough to appear to be doing something.

    But beyond that the question becomes "If the vast and overwhelming majority of researchers in a certain field say [i]X[/i] is happening", your response should be:

    A. Wow, that sounds serious, what are the solutions?


    B. That would cost a few billion a year, so fuck you.

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

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @03:18PM (#39232953) Journal

    An appeal to authority is only fallacious when the authorities being invoked are not in fact authorities. If you defend a diagnosis of macular degeneration because your dentist says that's what you have, that's a fallacious appeal to authority. If you defend a diagnosis of macular degeneration because your opthamologist says that's what you have, it is not fallacious.

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

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @04:00PM (#39233277) Journal

    Freedom doesn't mean liberation from reality. The universe actually doesn't give one sweet fuck about your freedoms.

  • Re:personhood (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jagapen ( 11417 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @04:34PM (#39233511)

    I don't understand this argument, unless a corporation is a Borg-like entity to which the component persons surrender their individual rights and indepedent intention. That is not the case in our society, so granting "free speech" rights to corporations gives the leaders of those corporations all of their individual free-speech rights, plus extra free-speech privileges through the corporate structure. Put another way, the government (which creates corporations to begin with) could regulate the ever-livin' hell out of 'em, and that wouldn't affect an actual human-person's free-speech rights one whit.

    On the other hand, when a certain American political party advances that argument, I tend to take it as further evidence that they really do want workers to have no rights...

  • by mbkennel ( 97636 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @06:41PM (#39234379)

    I'd find it funny if it weren't so depressing. The denialists of the human influence on climate use these two talking points over and over, not even understanding enough science (or more likely, not caring about truth as opposed to winning economically) that they are simultaneously contradictory!

    Point 1) Water, not CO2, is the dominant greenhouse forcing!!!

    Point 2) All those evil computer models that them hoaxing climate modelers put out are lying, because they stuff in these mumbo-jumbo complex feedforwards to the sensitivity computed by God's-honest-truth-Bolztzmann, in order to make the problem "alarming" instead of insignificant.

    In scientific truth, yes water is a major greenhouse effect. And that's just the point of those supposedly 'mumbo-jumbo' feedfowards---it's the fact that as air warms up, it can absorb more water vapor, and yes this extra water vapor (clear, not clouds) certainly does ADD to the greenhouse effect. D'oh!

    So the more you push #1 (which is true), the more you justify including the feedfowards which result in the mainstream estimate of climate sensitivity which points to a serious problem in the future. In fact it's misleading NOT to include these feedfowards.

  • Re:personhood (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @06:44PM (#39234399) Homepage Journal

    But according to settled law, more than a century old, corporations are legally persons. A lot of people think a lot that's wrong with this country has resulted from that. I think they may be on to something.

    The big difference, of course, is that one votes with ballots, the other with dollars.

  • Re:personhood (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gma i l .com> on Sunday March 04, 2012 @10:40AM (#39238875) Journal

    Oh man not this shit again. Money is bribery. Speech is speech. Speak with your words, not your dollars.

Would you people stop playing these stupid games?!?!?!!!!