No-So-Manly Mann

In my Weekly Standard Climategate 2.0 article I refer to Michael “hockey stick” Mann as the Fredo of the climate mafia, because of his endless bluster and the obvious embarrassment he brings to his fellow scientists.  Today he has a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal complaining about the whole matter.  (If it’s behind a subscriber firewall, Greg Pollowitz has posted the whole letter over on NRO’s PlanetGore.)

At this point it is difficult to tell if Mann is simply delusional, or a deliberate liar.  He asserts:

Our original work showed that average temperatures today are higher than they have been for at least the past 1,000 years. Since then, dozens of analyses from other scientists based on different data and methods have all affirmed and extended our original findings. . .

In 2006, then-Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R., N.Y.) asked the National Academy of Sciences to look into studies like the hockey stick. It affirmed our conclusions.

That’s not how I recall the NAS report, which not only said we could not have any confidence in Mann’s findings beyond about 400 years back, but was also sharply critical of Mann for his lack of transparency about both his source data and statistical methods used to interpret the data.  In fact, here’s what the NAS report actually says:

Substantial uncertainties currently present in the quantitative assessment of large-scale surface temperature changes prior to about A.D. 1600 lower our confidence in this conclusion compared to the high level of confidence we place in the Little Ice Age cooling and 20th century warming. Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that “the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium.”  (Emphasis added.)

Note that the NAS report draws back from validating Mann’s main claim, which he repeats again in today’s letter.  Read those three key words: “even less confidence.”

The NAS also included this polite rebuke of Mann’s uncooperative attitude toward scientists who wished to review his data and methods:

The committee recognizes that access to research data is a complicated, discipline-dependent issue, and that access to computer models and methods is especially challenging because intellectual property rights must be considered. Our view is that all research benefits from full and open access to published datasets and that a clear explanation of analytical methods is mandatory. Peers should have access to the information needed to reproduce published results, so that increased confidence in the outcome of the study can be generated inside and outside the scientific community.

There’s lots of snippets in the new and old batch of emails that many of Mann’s colleagues would like to figuratively give him the Fredo treatment, or at least send him on a long boat ride.  No wonder he’s in high dudgeon about the embarrassment of the leak, as he continues:

Mr. Delingpole ends his piece by saying the anonymous hacker or hackers who stole emails from me and my colleagues deserve thanks. What they deserve is to be brought to justice. But British police have not determined who stole the emails. Recent reports of police expenditures suggest they may be devoting far fewer resources to it than other similar investigations.   Celebrating theft is silly.

Question for Dr. Mann: Does he believe Daniel Ellsberg should have been jailed for his theft and leak of the Pentagon Papers?

NB: This leaves out the entire matter of the BEST study, which throws serious doubt on Mann’s interpretation of the data.  But that’s a long post for another time.  Keep in mind, though, that the BEST study would never have come about without Climategate 1.0 in 2009.

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