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« Guardian moderates | Main | Josh »
Thursday
Jan142010

PSU inquiry to be held in private

The inquiry into the Michael Mann's conduct launched by Penn State University in the wake of the Climategate revelations is to be held in private, with only PSU staff present.

The initial probe involves a committee of just three, all of whom are Penn State employees with a clear interest in preserving the reputation of a university ranked ninth in the nation in receiving government research and development grants. It may raise some eyebrows to know that no outsiders will monitor the proceedings.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. The perception of integrity in the climate research community will likely determine whether trillions of dollars are pumped into less-developed nations in the form of virtual reparations to atone for 150 years of unequal occupation of the so-called “carbon space” by more prosperous nations.

Still, the public is asked to trust the findings of a secret probe conducted by the colleagues of the accused.

Meanwhile there is no information at all about the parallel inquiry into CRU. I'm trying to rectify that and will report back as soon as I know something.

 

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Reader Comments (18)

I have done 'closed' audits on 'projects' with a problem.

I never initiated the audit, but those who did had a clear idea about the result they wanted. That was not communicated to me.

When I received the mandate, nobody came up to me and said this is the result we want to achieve. it does not work like that. Professional integrity does exist even if it is a veneer. However, in choosing the person there is confidence that the right result will occur.

You are well aware of other players (adversaries) who are looking to take advantage. You also meet people you like (however incompetent/ill-suited to their roles.) And you will get phone calls: "how is it going" with guidance following (nothing infringing integrity.)

And the Summary (because the details are never read)? There will be a request to review before publication. Again nothing obvious will be said like "remove this" but statements like "that is a strong phrase to write" or "are you sure that can be backed up?" etc.

Closed reviews/audits like this will, by their very nature, arrive a particular result envisaged when the review was called.

It does not have to be a huge conspiracy theory, just an understanding of human nature.

A closed inquiry like this has no meaning in relation to 'truth'.

Jan 14, 2010 at 8:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Morning

Thank you all for coming along today. A few words before we start. This is a difficult situation but I'm sure all those involved will maintain the high professional standards that all employees of Penn State Uni consistently demonstrate in their work. A fine example of this would be our dear colleague Michael Mann who has...erm...ah....oh crap.

Guys, I think there might be a bit of a problem with this when the public sees the final report. By the way, who's got the report? I finished it yesterday to speed things up a bit. Anyone seen it?

Jan 14, 2010 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohnRS

Some years ago I ran an inquiry into a case of an undergraduate cheating in an examination. I was advised "Whatever you do, try to keep this out of the courts."

Jan 14, 2010 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

Yep - same in the "internal resolution" process favoured by health professionals:

"We are all professionals here working with difficult and confidential issues and we are grateful to our esteemed colleague for their excellent work ...." etc etc

Jan 14, 2010 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Bishop Hill

CRU investigation


1. Here are the relevant extracts from the media re the terms
(and intended completion date: 'Spring of 2010') of the CRU
investigation!


2. The original terms as stated by Prof Trevor Davies of the
University of East Anglia on 24 November (ie three days after the
UEA confirmed the hack on 20 November) were confined to an
'independent review, which will address the issue of data
security, an assessment of how we responded to a deluge of
Freedom of Information requests, and any other relevant issues
which the independent reviewer advises should be
addressed':

----
Per the University of East Anglia on 24 November 2009:

http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/2009/nov/CRUupdate

'CRU update 2

Tue, 24 Nov 2009

The University of East Anglia has released the following press
release and statements from Prof Trevor Davies,
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, Prof Phil Jones, head of the
Climatic Research Unit, and from CRU.

...

[Prof Trevor Davies]

...

Given the degree to which we collaborate with other
organisations around the world, there is also an understandable
interest in the computer security systems we have in place in
CRU and UEA. Although we were confident that our systems were
appropriate, experience has shown that determined and skilled
people, who are prepared to engage in criminal activity, can
sometimes hack into apparently secure systems. Highly-protected
government organisations around the world have also learned this
to their cost.

We have, therefore, decided to conduct an independent review,
which will address the issue of data security, an assessment of
how we responded to a deluge of Freedom of Information requests,
and any other relevant issues which the independent reviewer
advises should be addressed.'


3. However when on 3 December the BBC reported that the
University of East Anglia had appointed Sir Muir Russell to
conduct the 'independent review', the terms of the CRU
investigation as reannounced at the same time were completely
altered from the original terms as stated on 24 November. The
terms of review now included, in first and second place:
* An investigation whether 'there is evidence of suppression
or manipulation of data'
* A review of 'CRU's policies and practices'.
The assessment of assessment of 'how we responded to a deluge of
Freedom of Information requests' had become, in third place, now
reworded in less prejudged--but also, it should be
said, still potentially limiting--legalese terms:
* A review of 'CRU's compliance or otherwise with the UEA's
policies and practices regarding requests under the Freedom
of Information Act'
And the review of data security was only listed last in fourth
place:

----
Per the BBC on 3 December 2009:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8393449.stm

'Chair for climate e-mail review

Sir Muir Russell will head an independent review into the
e-mails leaked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in Norwich,
UK.

...

UEA has said the review will:
* Examine e-mail exchanges to determine whether there is
evidence of suppression or manipulation of data at odds with
acceptable scientific practice which "may therefore call
into question any of the research outcomes".
* Review CRU's policies and practices for acquiring,
assembling, subjecting to peer review and disseminating data
and research findings, and "their compliance or otherwise
with best scientific practice".
* Review CRU's compliance or otherwise with the UEA's policies
and practices regarding requests under the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) and the Environmental Information
Regulations (EIR) for the release of data.
* Review and make recommendations about the management,
governance and security structures for CRU and the
security, integrity and release of the data it holds.

...

UEA has asked for the review to be completed by the Spring of
2010 and this will be made public along with the university's
response.


4. I hope the above information helps!


5. To comment on your post, in my view the CRU investigation
principally concerns people who prefer raking over the ashes of
the past to attempting to give a new, correct direction to
affairs in the future.

Much more hopeful are signs that there is a 'party' of
scientists in the Met Office (and possibly also the Climatic
Research Unit) who wish to restore the scientific credibility of
the CRU's temperature data, and analysis of the temperature
data, by a three-year project of re-analysing the data:

----
Per the Times on 5 December 2009:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/article6945445.ece

‘The Met Office plans to re-examine 160 years of temperature
data after admitting that public confidence in the science
on man-made global warming has been shattered by leaked
emails.

The new analysis of the data will take three years, meaning
that the Met Office will not be able to state with absolute
confidence the extent of the warming trend until the end of
2012.

...

The Government is attempting to stop the Met Office from
carrying out the re-examination, arguing that it would be
seized upon by climate change sceptics.

...

The Met Office is confident that its analysis will
eventually be shown to be correct. However, it says it
wants to create a new and fully open method of analysing
temperature data.’


6. A British Government, unwilling to admit possible flaws in
the evidence for global warming before the impending Copenhagen
Climate Change Conference on 7 December, does indeed seem on
5 December, the same day, to have forced the Met Office to deny
the Times story:

----
Per the BBC on 5 December 2009:

http://www.wsmweather.co.uk/?p=3102

‘The Met Office (MO) is to announce it will publish the raw data
it uses to analyse man-made global warming.

It follows a row about the reliability of data from the Climatic
Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia which has
been dubbed “Climategate”.

The MO has written to 188 countries for permission to publish
the historic data it says proves that the world is warming up
due to man-made emissions.

A spokesman denied reports ministers had tried to block the
publication.

...

The MO’s database is a main source of analysis for the UN’s
climate change science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC), which joins talks next week at the
long-awaited Copenhagen summit.

An MO spokesman denied it would spend up to three years
re-examining the climate change data, and said it had already
planned to publish the material long before the “Climategate”
controversy broke.

...

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk/8396696.stm

Published: 2009/12/05 05:31:20 GMT’


7. But it does seem to me that the better approach is to
continue to seek, with the highest priority, the re-confirmation
after Copenhagen of the real existence of that three-year
Met Office project of re-analysing the CRU's data, and maintain
no more than a simple watching brief on the CRU investigation.

Stephen Prower

Stevenage

Thursday 14 January 2010

Jan 14, 2010 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Prower

I cannot get away from the simmilarities in behaviour between the AGW crowd and the worst excesses of some within the Church of Rome:

No you can't see the data, you are not qualified to look at it / no you can't see the Dead Sea Scrolls you are not qualified...

This is an internal Penn State / Church matter...

In Ireland in particular, the Church was so close to the Government, that for many years, crimminal activities were left well alone by an garda siochana (the police) while the perpetrators were transferred to other parishes to abuse again and again.

The parallel here is the AGW crowd are so close to the politicians that...

Yeah, I suspect a whitewash, but perhaps all at Penn State would do well to look at the up to date outcomes of Church cover-ups in Ireland and elsewhere:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_sexual_abuse_scandal_in_Ireland

- if they want their university to survive - there are not many young church goers in Ireland since the scandals started to become public - far better the abusing priests had been handed straight to the crimminal justice system for trial.

Keith

Jan 14, 2010 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

Oh boy, three black pots investigating a black kettle.

Nothing out of balance in that scenario.

Jan 14, 2010 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred from Canuckistan

Nothing says 'cover up' like secret reviews of obviously flawed projects.
This does nothing at all but confirm that AGW theory is failed, and those promoting it are corrupt, and that a lot of people are making money fleecing tax payers by way of grants.

Jan 14, 2010 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Are we sure there isn't a terrorist angle?

Jan 14, 2010 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Keith,

Perhaps the (Catholic) Church would like to review it's approach to birth control since overpopulation is obviously having a greater, adverse, effect on the planet than CO2 emissions…

Jan 14, 2010 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterPetrodini

Here is another example of high level white washing. This from a Brazilian cardinal, living in Rome who may have to have looked on a map to figure out where Ireland is:

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2010/0114/breaking24.htm

Keith and I understand the reality of Ireland.

Do I expect any better from a university regarding professors who are doing the "politically correct" thing?

Ask Cardinal Claudio Hummes.

Jan 14, 2010 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Being a non person ( fortunately no one listens to me ) would now not be a good time to open a site to collect names for a petition to demand (yes demand ) all relative documents from UEA CRU under the freedom of information ?
Why are the police involved, if not to help us, a few thousand signatures from the blogs might just get things moving.

Jan 14, 2010 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred Lightfoot

This observation is coming from memory... In the FOIA emails, I saw a note from PJ to MM(?). It said in effect that Phil had talked with with a vice-? at EAU about the hack... Next, when the police arrived he had to show them on screen what was now on the web, to stop an investigation based on FOI laws in the UK... after his thirty minute dog and pony show both the police and the vice-? agreed to keep it under wraps until they knew more... I wonder just what it was that Phil was showing them? It sure looks like hand in glove to me. Why should PSU be any different? The AGW money is all coming from the same well.

Jan 14, 2010 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom

Tom:

I think you are refering to this from Jones:

"When the FOI requests began here, the FOI person said we had to abide by the requests. It took a couple of half-hour sessions—one at a computer screen, to convince them otherwise, showing them what Climate Audit was all about. Once they became aware of the types of people we were dealing with, everyone at the University of E ast Anglia (in the Registry (administration) and in the Environmental Sciences School—the Head of School and a few others) became very supportive. I’ve got to know the FOI person quite well, and the Chief Librarian—who deals with appeals. The Vice-Chancellor is also aware of what is going on—at least for one of the requests, but probably doesn’t know the number we’re dealing with. We are in double figures."

From email #1228330629

Jan 14, 2010 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I hope no one had hopes that Penn St was going to go after Mann. They are going to do whatever minimum they think will keep the legislature off their backs.

Jan 14, 2010 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan

The outcome of any inquiry must be known 'before' any such inquiry is called.

Jan 14, 2010 at 8:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterTony Hansen

I don't now about English law, or even British law, but in the USA the FOIA means replying to whomever the request came from as long as the information is covered by the FOIA. I didn't realize that in East Anglia, one could chose not to respond because:

Once they became aware of the types of people we were dealing with, everyone at the University of E ast Anglia (in the Registry (administration) and in the Environmental Sciences School—the Head of School and a few others) became very supportive.

Must be nice to be able to discriminate because of the types of people we were dealing with.

Sounds like BS, MS, Ph.D The last acronym means Piled Higher and Deeper.

Jan 14, 2010 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Thank you Phillip Bratby, Yes, that was the email I had in mind. As to who will take MM to task it is the PSU alumnus association. They have posted their demand letter on line. I think they will be pushing for the truth on MM's work. If we do it Stalin's way we will see that he was right; "A committee is just another way to tell your lie."

Jan 14, 2010 at 10:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom

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