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« Stott on Huhne | Main | Nature on the Hartwell paper »
Friday
May142010

The ascent of Mann

Climate Realists has an interesting article that looks at the extraordinary rise to prominence of the hockeystickmeister, Michael Mann. This is one of the angles of the hockey stick story that is still something of a mystery - how did such an obscure scientist, one who had just completed his PhD, get to be lead author on the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC?

 

Mann’s Ph.D ‘Rushed Through’

All was now well and Yale gave Mann his Ph.D in 1998. One eminent source in my enquiries confirmed Mann’s Ph.D. was, in fact “rushed through.

Instantly, Mann was then plucked from obscurity and appointed not just a contributing author for Chapters 7,8,12 of the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (1998-00) but also Lead Author for Chapter 2. And with no track record whatsoever in this field, Mann now with tree ring data thrust into his hand, famously carved out his infamous ‘hockey stick’ graph.

"So what miracle turned this problematic researcher’s life around?
If miracles happened for Mann, they came in the form of Barry Saltzman. You see, this struggling student’s career was transformed the moment Saltzman became his Ph.D adviser. Only after Saltzman applied his influence were Mann’s lofty credentials “rushed through.” Mann then turned himself into a makeshift tree ring counter, and overnight became the iconic figure in the IPCC Third Report (2001). The rest is history, as they say."

There's not a lot there, but if someone says Mann's PhD was "rushed through", then it may be that it is worth digging a little further.

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    [...]- Bishop Hill blog - The ascent of Mann[...]

Reader Comments (25)

Now were cooking on gas!

May 14, 2010 at 8:17 AM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

What a thin article! There is nothing there. Bishop, what gives?

May 14, 2010 at 8:21 AM | Unregistered Commentercuriousbloke

One would have thought that lead authorship of IPCC chapters would be given to people who had established themselves as scientists not to a PhD student immediately on finishing his viva. It is, as the Bishop says somewhat curious.

May 14, 2010 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Mann's Ph.D thesis is entitled "A study of ocean-atmosphere interaction and low-frequency variability of the climate system". I could not find an online copy. Is there one? It might make interesting reading.

May 14, 2010 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterSara Chan

How did such an obscure scientist, one who had just completed his PhD, get to be lead author on the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC?

Precisely!

Mann certainly did not have the scientific credentials to be a lead author. If I remember correctly even Phil Jones was surprised by Mann's sudden rise. Someone had to smooth way for that to happen. Step forward Barry Saltzman.

It is worth investigating because the selection of lead IPCC authors is controversial as it is seen as being basically ideological.

May 14, 2010 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Mann's resume shows:

"1998 Ph.D. Yale University, Department of Geology & Geophysics (defended 1996)"

What does "defended 1996" mean and why a 2 year delay?

May 14, 2010 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

It means his viva voce examination was in 1996 and he was required to make corrections. A two year delay suggests fairly extensive corrections which would normally require a second viva, but this might not be recorded.

May 14, 2010 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Mann was pretty busy after defending his thesis in 1996, and this often happens in practice that because of other pressing matters the final grant can be some years down the road. Most universities have a cut-off time, though: if the corrections are not done within, say, two years the whole PhD lapses, and I've known this happen with a friend who started work, got married, started a family etc etc, and then ran out of time to finish the corrections, so the whole PhD lapsed.

I can't see that Mann's PhD was rushed though. His first degree was in 1989, so from 1989 to 1998 he was doing a Masters, two MPhils and a PhD. That's no fast track!

Remember, after 1996 he was busy concocting his hockey stick and presenting it, for example

Mann, M.E., Multi-Proxy based reconstructions of large-scale surface temperature patterns during the past several centuries, AGU Spring meeting, Baltimore MD, May 1997.

'The Cross-Validation of Proxy Climate Data and the Instrumental Record', Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean, University of Washington, Seattle, Jun 23-25, 1997.

Co-convener/organizer, theme session ``Multiproxy Climate Reconstruction…”, Annual Fall meeting, American Geophysical Union, 1997.

Mann, M.E., Bradley, R.S., Hughes, M.K, Northern Hemisphere Temperature During the Past Half-Millenium: Implications for External Forcing and Natural Variability of the Climate, AGU Fall meeting, San Francisco, CA, December, 1997.

Of course, he was being funded for all this, quite apart from his academic salary:

1996-1999 Patterns of Organized Climatic Variability: Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Globally
Distributed Climate Proxy Records and Long-term Model Integrations, NSF-Earth
Systems History [Principal Investigator: R.S. Bradley (U. Mass); Co-Investigators: M.E.
Mann, M.K. Hughes] $270,000

1996-1998 Investigation of Patterns of Organized Large-Scale Climatic Variability During the Last Millennium, DOE, Alexander Hollaender Postdoctoral Fellowship [M.E. Mann] $78,000

A tidy little earner that was.

His meteoric rise in the IPCC process, however, is unseemly, especially when the final printed Mann, Bradley and Hughes paper that came out in 1998 was so evidently corrupt and a travesty of science. To think he taught courses in 'Data Analysis and Climate Change' at the universities of Massachusetts and Virginia, and 'Statistical Climatology' at University of Virginia after cooking the books in his papers is pretty creepy.

May 14, 2010 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI3383.1

The end first

"Acknowledgments. The authors would like to thank
Anthony R. Hansen and Michael E. Mann for sharing
their knowledge of Saltzman’s work and its influences."


"Well into the late 1980s, Barry Saltzman led the re-
vival of the theory that variations of atmospheric CO2
are a significant driver of long-term climate change. He
clearly recognized the importance of greenhouse forc-
ing prior to the time when direct evidence for variations
of CO2 (and CH4) became available from ice core
records. As a true scholar, Salzman remained keenly
aware of the historical ideas put forth concerning the
impact of CO2 on climate (e.g., Arrhenius 1896; Cal-
lendar 1938; Plass 1956). Further development of his
dynamical-systems approach led to the explicit inclu-
sion of atmospheric CO2 as a prognostic variable (Saltz-
man 1987, 1988). The idea that there were potentially
many positive feedbacks within the carbon cycle was
discussed in detail by Saltzman and Maasch (1988a).
This model produced an asymmetric, saw-toothed near
100-kyr free solution, with a phase relationship be-
tween paleoclimate proxies for global ice mass and at-
mospheric CO2 over the last 500 kyr, consistent with
available paleoclimate records of these variables (Saltz-
man and Maasch 1988a,b). The idea that inclusion of a
long-term tectonically forced decrease in atmospheric
CO2 can lead to a bifurcation of the system from a
steady-state to a near 100-kyr auto-oscillation was illus-
trated by Maasch and Saltzman (1990) and Saltzman
and Maasch (1990, 1991)."

Something else I picked up is the string of manipulative people.

Then there is this gem which in context of Mann is curious

"for problems of paleoclimate. Most of this work was
done with his then Ph.D. student Bob Oglesby, to
whom Saltzman gave as a specific charge the task of
learning how to use these models. They subsequently
worked together to apply GCMs to numerous problems
of paleoclimate."

May 14, 2010 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim Channon

"To think he taught courses in 'Data Analysis and Climate Change' at the universities of Massachusetts and Virginia, and 'Statistical Climatology' at University of Virginia"

He's an academic by definition his teaching will be shite....or done by someone else.

May 14, 2010 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn

The Wegman report contains a summary of Mann's PhD thesis, if anyone's curious.

May 14, 2010 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter B

Maybe the final stages of Mann’s PhD was conveniently fast tracked as IPPC selection is not only relative expertise but regional and if there was no other “suitable” volunteer for the work in the region, gis-a-job! I can do that…kindly steps in.

Choo Choo says author selection for AR5 should be complete next month which is about 3 years prior to publication a similar sort of time scale for AR3 selection perhaps.

What a twisted mind I have.

May 14, 2010 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

I can't see that Mann's PhD was rushed though. His first degree was in 1989, so from 1989 to 1998 he was doing a Masters, two MPhils and a PhD. That's no fast track!

I seem to remember reading that his Masters degree was in Physics, while his PhD was another department (Climate related). Sometimes, a student doesn't pass the doctoral qualifying exam, and thus, can only receive a Masters degree in that department. In order to get a PhD, these students must either change departments or change schools. I'm not aware of the details of how and why Mann changed fields, if he did actually change fields. If he did change fields, that might explain the lengthy time period in graduate school.

On the other hand, sometimes, a very good student will take a long time to receive his PhD because of the nature of their research. I've known guys who take their time because they are interested in doing very good research. It may also help in getting a faculty position if they have established a name for themselves while doing their doctoral research.

May 14, 2010 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJason Lewis

I recall a comment on CA or elsewhere, maybe 5 months ago, suggesting strong ties between Mann and John Edwards, a very prominent Democrat in the USA. Made the hair on my neck bristle...

May 14, 2010 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark F

When I was in grad school the requirement for beginning PhD research was to pass the qualifier exam, 3 days, 8 hours per day, that covered all of physics. This was given twice a year and you had three tries. If you passed you were given a Masters degree. If you failed after three tries you also got the Masters and a handshake with some help at finding a different school if you were really determined to go on.

I passed on the first try but took seven years to get my PhD because the experiment turned out to be so difficult.

May 14, 2010 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul from Boston

Mann's education:

1998 Ph.D. Yale University, Department of Geology & Geophysics (defended 1996)
1993 M.Phil. Yale University, Department of Geology & Geophysics
1991 M.Phil. Yale University, Department of Physics
1991 M.S. Yale University, Department of Physics
1989 A.B. (double), University of California-Berkeley, Applied Math, Physics (Honors)

May 14, 2010 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

Sara Chan et al.


Mann's Ph.D thesis is entitled "A study of ocean-atmosphere interaction and low-frequency variability of the climate system". I could not find an online copy. Is there one? It might make interesting reading.


All Ph.D Theses granted in the US are archived at UMI and are available from Proquest. You can buy a PDF copy of most recent theses.

You start here:

http://disexpress.umi.com/dxweb

May 14, 2010 at 3:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Next time you hear that spring is arriving sooner because of AGW (not this year - but most years we hear that one), you might like to read Mann on the subject. In 1995 Mann wrote like a climate sceptic, or should we say a disinterested scientist simply reporting the unvarnished truth. I can only imagine that he was corrupted by the money that was being put on the table to find hockey sticks at all costs, and now there's no way back for him (and the money is still rolling in). How about this cracker:

Michael. E. Mann and Jeffrey Park: ‘Greenhouse warming and changes in the seasonal cycle of temperature: Model versus observations’, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol.23, No.10 pp 1111-1114, May 1996.

"Significant phase delays…are found in the simulations, opposite to the phase advances isolated in the observations…Much of the variability in the observational data is not predicted by the models…If observed changes in seasonality are consistent with an enhanced greenhouse effect, the observed trends in the seasonal cycle should resemble the predicted response of present-generation climate models to enhanced greenhouse conditions…The trend in phase for the models, however, is opposite to that observed, exhibiting a delay, rather than an advance, of the seasons…The dominant response in both the CCM1 and GFDL models to increased CO2 is one of substantial phase delays and amplitude decreases at high latitude oceanic regions…In contrast, the phase of the annual cycle has advanced along the eastern margins of Greenland, where a long-term winter cooling trend is observed [Jones and Briffa, 1992]…The annual cycle amplitude decreases in this location because winter cooling is offset by even greater summer cooling…the observed and model-predicted trends in the phase of the seasonal cycle show little similarity…It is possible that observed trends in phase…do not arise from greenhouse warming, but rather from natural variability…If, on the other hand, the observed variation in the seasonal cycle truly represents the “fingerprint” of greenhouse warming, the GFDL and CCM1 models do not appear capable of capturing the detailed responses of the seasonal cycle to greenhouse forcing. In particular, if the phase advances…are…causally related to greenhouse forcing, the predicted behavior of the models in these regions [continental interiors] would appear to be flawed…Discrepancies between the observed and model-predicted trends must be resolved before a compelling connection can be drawn between 20th century changes in the annual cycle in temperature, and anthropogenic forcing of the climate.”

May 14, 2010 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

I don't think this has any connection to the AG investigation. The AG is looking into use of funds. Hypothetically, if a scientist applied for a research grant, and then used some of the grant money to (1) hire a PR firm to promote the reputation of that scientist and to demonize anyone who disagreed with that scientist, (2) hire a person to troll around on Wikipedia eliminating any references that disagree with that scientists conclusions or in anyway question that scientist, (3) create a blog and pay people to moderate comments such that no comments challenging the conclusions of that scientist get through, etc, etc., then those uses of funds could be considered to be beyond the scope of the grant.

May 14, 2010 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

Should I take some comfort from the idea that my PhD is just as good as Mann's, even though his is from Yale and mine is not?

May 14, 2010 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBanjoman0

Banjoman0

What we are seeing with MM is the politicization of science. Actually, nothing new. Yale will be the loser in this over time as will Professor Saltzman. It may take a few years, but being on of his students will become the kiss of death.

Clearly, even with all his degrees, MM never learned the Scientific Method. Very sad. I wonder where he learned to sell his soul? I must start with Saltzman. What is this man's history?

May 14, 2010 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Ah, so I should have gotten a PhD in political science.

I am less sanguine about the reputation of Yale. President Bush seemed to dent it's reputation not at all.

May 14, 2010 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBanjoman0

For anyone interested in a complete PDF copy of Mann's Ph.D I have now have one and will happily provide on request. I am still pursuing information about who slotted Mann into his IPCC appointment. Anyone able to contribute further insight into this matter is most welcome to contact me. I can be reached via the messages section of Suite101:
http://www.suite101.com/profile.cfm/johnosullivan
or via Climate Realists.
Thanks.

May 15, 2010 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn O'Sullivan

Something else I picked up is the string of manipulative people.

Then there is this gem which in context of Mann is curious

May 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTim Channon

"for problems of paleoclimate. Most of this work was
done with his then Ph.D. student Bob Oglesby, to
whom Saltzman gave as a specific charge the task of
learning how to use these models. They subsequently
worked together to apply GCMs to numerous problems
of paleoclimate."

Here is Bob Oglesby; http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.geosciences.unl.edu/images/faculty/Oglesby2007.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.geosciences.unl.edu/people/faculty_page.php%3Flastname%3DOglesby%26firstname%3DRobert%26type%3DREG&usg=__KQvI9FyQTG9mI0jJyQTqr4vkSYs=&h=200&w=200&sz=9&hl=en&start=2&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=RkB46nvlyf2NsM:&tbnh=104&tbnw=104&prev=/images%3Fq%3DBob%2BOglesby%2Bsaltzman%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26tbs%3Disch:1

"

May 18, 2010 at 7:55 AM | Unregistered Commenterproiraq

"One eminent source in my enquiries confirmed Mann’s Ph.D. was, in fact “rushed through.”"

..."one eminant source ..."

or, rather, "...one emminent NOT-TO-BE=-NAMED source ...", yes?

This what is known as trafficking in rumour and innuendo.

Very persuasive.

Passes rather more as a comment on your character than on Dr. Mann's.

Mar 27, 2011 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJOHN THOMAS GILLICK

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