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Turning up the heat

I am writing to respond to Travis Ortiz's Oct. 19 column ("Scientific freedom"). Although I commend Ortiz for his opposition to the civil investigative demand by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli against former University Prof. Michael Mann, I felt that I needed to clarify a few items regarding Mann and his work. In particular, the statement regarding the "individual realities" of withholding data, suppressing alternative findings and manipulating results - attributed to Mann - is just not true and we should all be extremely careful when making such potentially slanderous comments.

Albemarle County Judge Paul Peatross' basis for the rejecting the civil investigative demand was the lack of credible reason to believe any fraud had been committed. Consequently, Peatross did not think an investigation was justified. Claims of alleged scientific misconduct related to stolen e-mails from the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit have been rejected by multiple distinct investigations in the United Kingdom. Additionally, an investigation by Pennsylvania State University, where Mann is now a faculty member, found no evidence of Mann's misconduct. These reports are available for anyone who cares to read them.

To address the other aspects of the statement made by Mr. Ortiz, all raw data, intermediate data, and now computational source code related to the contested work by Mann are freely available to the research community as well as in public archives. And finally, it is just not true that alternative findings related to climate change have been suppressed by Mann. In fact, there is a vibrant debate in the greenhouse warming scientific literature - largely related to feedbacks of warming, such as cloud effects - that has long since moved beyond the "hockey stick." The spike in global temperatures since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution has been described in numerous studies - not just Mann's - is supported by the instrumental record - not climate proxies - and is widely accepted in the scientific community, even among climate change skeptics.

To suggest that withholding information, suppressing opposing views and falsifying results are "realities" of Mann's scientific endeavors is in itself false, misleading and damaging.\n\nHoward Epstein\nCLAS '10