Climategate and Penn State University
This story originally appeared on CampusReform.org and has attracted thousands of viewers. Samuel Settle, a Penn State students and leader of the Young Americans for Freedom, is the author of this piece.
Editor’s Note: Students and community members will hold a Rally for Academic Integrity this Friday to demand a fair and full investigation of Climategate scientist and Penn State professor Michael Mann. Read the story below.
I am a sophomore at Penn State. Climategate is an embarrassment to my school, and to every student of Penn State. The university’s so-called “internal inquiry” into Michael Mann’s scientific misconduct concluded with the virtual exoneration of his behavior, and ignored key evidence in the Climategate scandal. In short, inquiry was little more than a whitewash—an assault on academic integrity.
The university’s internal review consisted of a mere three Penn State employees, who have strong incentives to protect the school’s reputation and the millions of dollars it receives from global warming research grants. There was no external oversight. The inquiry was set up in such a way that there was a conflict of interest. This is bad not just for science (which thrives on impartiality), but also for our university: even if the inquiry was thorough, Penn State’s reputation would still be stained simply by refusing to allow an outside investigation.
What’s worse, the review consisted of looking at a mere 47 emails (out of thousands in question), interviewing Mann, analyzing materials he submitted, and asking only two biased sources about his credibility. Penn State hardly conducted a “thorough investigation” of alleged wrongdoing by Mann.
Consider the following extract from the university’s report:“•He [Mann] explained that he had never falsified any data, nor had he had ever manipulated data to serve a given predetermined outcome;“•He explained that he never used inappropriate influence in reviewing papers by other scientists who disagreed with the conclusions of his science; “•He explained that he never deleted emails at the behest of any other scientist, specifically including Dr. Phil Jones, and that he never withheld data with the intention of obstructing science; and “•He explained that he never engaged in activities or behaviors that were inconsistent with accepted academic practices.”
In short, Mann’s own claim of innocence is taken as proof of his innocence. Moreover, parts of the report are almost fawning in their description of Mann (e.g. “All were impressed by Dr. Mann’s composure and his forthright responses”). This type of language would be more appropriate in a letter of recommendation than in a serious investigation.
Furthermore, Penn State’s internal review ignored key passages in the emails under scrutiny. While the committee examined the use of the word “trick” in correspondence between Mann and colleague Phil Jones, it failed to explore the purpose of Mann’s “trick” to “hide the decline [in global temperatures],” which clearly suggests a manipulation of the data.
Penn State’s internal review of a few emails by vested interests inspires no confidence that Mann did not engage in scientific misconduct—which is precisely why an independent and external investigation of Michael Mann and Climategate is essential in order to reach a credible conclusion.
Students, residents and community leaders will join together to demand a fair and independent investigation, which eliminates the University’s obvious conflict of interest, on February 12th, at noon, in front of the Hetzel Union Building (HUB) on Penn State’s University Park Campus (Pollock Road entrance). This Rally for Academic Integrity is jointly sponsored by PSU Young Americans for Freedom and The 9-12 Project of Central PA, with assistance from the Commonwealth Foundation.
For further information contact:
Young Americans for Freedom