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Idle scientists

The pressure put on anyone or anything that doesn't toe the AGW alarmism line is something to behold. As we have seen, the merest hint that Owen Paterson might have doubts on the subject has been enough to provoke a frenzy of campaigning journalism from the BBC and the Guardian.

I've reported in the past on the article at the Chronicle of Higher Education, in which Peter Wood wondered, quite reasonably, if Penn State University's willingness to cover up the Sandusky child abuse affair suggested that they would also find it within themselves to cover up wrongdoing by Michael Mann.

This has now generated the most extraordinary set of letters from Mann's supporters in the academy, each claiming, implausibly, that Wood is trying to suggest that Mann is a child abuser.

Don't they have jobs to do?

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Reader Comments (13)

Logic. They don't understand it.

Sep 18, 2012 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterLuis Dias

I've just read Monbiot's Guardian diatribe against Paterson. Monbiot claims:
"A letter about windfarms he sent to his district council is riddled with schoolboy howlers of the kind that are endlessly repeated by climate change deniers. For example, he expresses the belief that if the capacity factor of a wind turbine is 30%, this means that "the wind blows sufficiently to generate useful electricity, typically, only 30% of the time"."

Quite. Paterson should have said 'typically less than 25 %' (aside from Monbiot's feeble swipe intended to establish his in-depth understanding of the complex subject of capacity factor).

But what are Harrabin and Monbiot really on about over Paterson? Paterson's observed, rightly, that windmills don't save much in the way of CO2 emissions, whereas gas-fired generation does (c.f. what's happening in the USA). So really, Paterson's the right man to save the planet, and Moinbiot and Harrabin just want windmills whether or not they cut emissions.

Sep 18, 2012 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Phraseology suggests this is yet another conspiracy that came out in the open. The paid staff of Desmog has ample spare time to help people write letters, given the disappearing visitors at the blog.

Obviously Mandia & co. are used to deal with spineless editors. And I see that one of the least gullible commenters is already asking, whatever happened to the legal threat?

Sep 18, 2012 at 12:28 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

The old pea & thimble trick?
Try to make out that the complaint is that Mann's a kiddy-fiddler, rather than Penn State's keeness to ignore accusations of kiddy-fiddling may mean that they're even less likely to robustly investigate accusations of academic malpractice.

Sep 18, 2012 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

They are incompetent, or to look at it another way, they are the hysterical Muslims of science, violently defending their religion, consensus climate science. These are the consequences of a general belief in false but unquestioned dogma in any field of human endeavor.

Any physicist, like Scott Mandia (writing in response to Peter Wood in the same Chronicle of Higher Education) who defends Michael Mann is simply unworthy of any respect from other scientists and the public. And Mann's false temperature-trend "hockeystick" is just one link in the chain of incompetent climate science. The false correlation of the supposed global temperature trend with rising CO2 is simply the result of matching that rising CO2 with the short temperature trend from 1975 to 2000, and ignoring the lack of correlation over the longer time period of the last century (see this graph, presented to the public on USAToday two years ago, for example). Defending that consensus approach -- as all of our suborned institutions have been doing -- is fraud on the part of those who should know good science, pure and simple, and every academic doing so (and specifically, those attacking Peter Wood, as referred to in the above post) deserves to be summarily dismissed from his/her academic position.

Sep 18, 2012 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

In a sense, Mr. Mann is abusing all of us. His actions certainly abuse the future of our children. He especially has abused my Science degree from PSU. The fact that his supporters wish to deflect the truth by these means, shows their desperation and malfeasance. And Mr. Mann is still being paid for doing nothing in Happy Valley. Unless you include Twitter as a work activity.

Sep 18, 2012 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterdfbaskwill

Harry Dale Huffman-

"...they are the hysterical Muslims of science, violently defending their religion, consensus climate science."

The letter writers are not the mob in the street, but the shepherds of the flock. The faith has its share of shrines and sacred places.

Peter Wood deliberately treaded onto sacred territory, the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Anthony Watts deliberately treaded onto sacred territory, the PBS NewsHour.
Bjorn Lomborg deliberately treaded onto sacred territory, the environmentalist bookshelf.
These sacrilegious utterances in sacred locations required immediate reaction from the congregation's leadership.

Bishop Hill says "Don't they have jobs to do?"

I am confused by your comment.
These letters represent the most important function of an activist scientist with a leadership role in consensus-based 'science'. In essence, this is what their government research grants pay them to do.

Sep 18, 2012 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

I don't think I read that Peter Wood piece first time out - I wonder how many others will be directed to it too now? ;)

It is an interesting piece in that it seems to be approaching the Mann case as an incidental situation rather than as climate point scoring. Wood barely touches upon it only to basically say that the problems at the University (and he mentions others) have reduced the standing of his "exhoneration"

"Penn State has a history of treading softly with its star players."

This coordinated (yes it is! stop it!) monotone whining seen in these letters seem so poorly written and thought-out that it just draws attention to its plaintive inanity.

I venture a newly arriving person to this subject will be left thinking "Why is there no persuasive reasoned defence - that doesn't rely on shrillness - from just one of these great minds?" ;)

Sep 18, 2012 at 1:23 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Paterson should have said 'typically less than 25 %'

I wouldn't advise that. First off, never tell politicians what to say because the chances are that they will but at the wrong time and in the wrong place.

More seriously, the data show that wind-powered turbines on mainland Britain are typically producing something for about 80 per cent of the time. In that sense, Moonbat is right (assuming I'm understanding him correctly - I've just had my lunch and do not want to imperil it by reading Georgie-Porkies).

The problem is that for most of that time what they produce is insignificant, roughly comparable to the noise in the turbine hall at the power station.

When at last the wind picks up (almost when expected - but not quite), they produce significant amounts of electricity but do so in a randomly varying manner that grossly undermines the efficiency of the conventional plant whose output they are intended to displace. The effect is to negate the potential for significant reductions in the consumption of fossil fuels. That is the sense in which it can meaningfully be said that wind power is inefficient. Its load factors measure the availability of "fuel", not their efficiency.

Sep 18, 2012 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

Interesting that the "extraordinary set of letters" includes one from Scott Mandia who says:

Multiple international investigations, including one from the National Science Foundation, have carefully reviewed Dr. Mann’s email messages and have found no misconduct whatsoever. (For more on these investigations see

The link is to's "What do the 'Climategate' hacked CRU emails tell us?" article and includes the section heading "Mike's Nature trick" and "hide the decline".

Given Shub Niggurath's 7 September post on this blog highlighting Mann's apparent role in skepticalscience's rebuttal, (Michael Mann and SkepticalScience: well-orchestrated) it is amusing, though not entirely uncharacteristic, for a climate scientist to support an exoneration of Mann by quoting what Mann had put so much effort into orchestrating.

Sep 18, 2012 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterHK

Word has it that one US University hosts a Professor of Climate Change Ethics who opined as early as the year 2000 that skeptics should be considered criminals against humanity.

No prize to guess which University it is.

I am starting to believe nothing that Penn State touched can be considered as innocent, unless there is strong evidence for that.

ps how did go for Singer and the "State Pen" remark?

Sep 18, 2012 at 3:53 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Michael Mann is running for his life, whereas his skeptics, although many, have long since become reluctant to devote time to an issue which should have been obvious long ago to governments, politicians, and the mainstream ("lamestream") media.

Keep his feet to the fire.

Sep 18, 2012 at 9:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterGoFigure

Mr Mann is notoriously thin skinned. If his research had any merit, he would have no reason to defend anything - because his results would be easily repeated by anyone.

The "letters of support" from these people demonstrate nothing but lingering doubt in their minds about Mr Mann and the whole global warming charade. The feigned "indignant" tone emphasizes this emphatically.

Sep 19, 2012 at 1:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrian G Valentine

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