Ken Cuccinelli is the Attorney General of Virginia. He’s a Tea Party favorite, and has been waging a pogrom-like witch hunt against climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann for years. Cuccinelli is a climate change denier, and has been hounding Mann and his research, using his power of subpoena to hamstring Mann and the University of Virginia, where Mann did much of research (he’s now at Penn State University). Ironically, Cuccinelli has been spending quite a large passel of taxpayer money to try to prove that Mann’s research was fraudulent and therefore a waste of taxpayers’ money*.
Anyway, as much as I dislike what Cuccinelli is doing, I also dislike what two Virginia legislators are trying to do: remove the Attorney General’s ability to issue subpoenas to people, called civil investigative demands. If the AG suspects fraud, he can issue these CIDs to get documents needed to investigate the case.
If the senators get their way, Cuccinelli would no longer be able to harass Mann, but if I understand this correctly it would also remove his ability to pursue cases of actual fraud. Read More
I’m happy to report that my alma mater, the University of Virginia, is not only fighting back against State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s witch hunt against climate scientist Michael Mann, they are also being pretty clear about their protest:
In its most strongly-worded court filing to date, UVA characterized Cuccinelli’s investigation as "an unprecedented and improper governmental intrusion into ongoing scientific research” and said that Cuccinelli is targeting Mann because he “disagrees with his academic research regarding climate change."
In other words, they’re saying this is a politically and ideologically motivated abuse of power, which I’ve been saying all along.
I’m thrilled to see the University standing firm. Cuccinelli’s actions, on purpose or otherwise, are sending out a message that academic research can be chilled due to political ideology, and that is something that must not be allowed. I fully support what UVa is doing, and hope they can stop Cuccinelli in his tracks.
The University’s court filing really is worth reading. Thomas Jefferson would be proud.
Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli really doesn’t like people thinking the Earth is warming up. He has used his position to continually attack scientist Michael Mann and his work done at the University of Virginia, claiming that Dr. Mann abused taxpayer money and knowingly used falsified data.
Cuccinelli was essentially riding on the coattails of the now totally-discredited Climategate fiasco. You may remember how lots of people got very upset that scientists were sending emails to each other that, when taken grossly out of context and misinterpreted, made it look like those scientists were engaged in cooking the data. Once people looked a little more carefully, it became clear that no shenanigans were going on. Interestingly, although it was hugely covered in the media and by the usual antiscience mob in politics, you hardly hear about Climategate anymore.
But Cuccinelli can’t let it go. Even though his subpoena for documents from UVa was dismissed by a judge, he retooled his claims and is now demanding that the University hand over some emails from Mann to colleagues. Apparently, he feels that
Specifically, but without limitation, some of the conclusions of the papers demonstrate a complete lack of rigor regarding the statistical analysis of the alleged data, meaning that the result reported lacked statistical significance without a specific statement to that effect.
Not surprisingly, Michael Mann — who has been repeatedly cleared of wrongdoing despite many attempts to smear him and his work — sees the situation somewhat differently:
Back at my alma mater, the University of Virginia, state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli continues to tilt against his windmill of climate change: he still wants to investigate climate scientist Michael Mann for possible fraud. As I’ve pointed out before, Cuccinelli is attacking Michael Mann despite Mann repeatedly being cleared of all wrongdoing. Cuccinelli subpoenaed UVa for records involving Mann, but the University filed an appeal saying (correctly) this would chill academic freedom.
The Daily Progress has an update: Cuccinelli won’t quit:
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli argued Tuesday that the University of Virginia must comply with his demand for a trove of documents related to the research of former UVa climate change scientist Michael Mann, saying that Mann’s academic freedom does not shield him from Cuccinelli’s probe into possible fraud.
Hear that choking sound? That’s the dying gasps of Climategate. The Pennsylvania State University’s investigation into allegations of misconduct by climate scientist Michael Mann found him innocent, specifically saying:
… the Investigatory Committee determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research, or other scholarly activities.
Mann, as you may recall, was a key figure in the so-called Climategate fiasco, where leaked emails were purported to show scientists fixing data to make global warming evidence appear stronger. Since Day 1 of this I have been calling it a non-event, a manufactured controversy by global warming denialists trying to make enough noise to drown out any real talk on this topic. And time and time again I have been shown to be correct.
This conclusion by the committee is yet another nail in Climategate’s coffin.
But let me be clear: that has almost no bearing on what the denialists will say or do. They will continue to beat this drum, have no doubt. Climategate may be dead, but the zombie attacks will continue.
Some good news today: The Daily Progress is reporting that the University of Virginia will fight the state attorney general’s attacks on academic freedom.
A few weeks ago, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli started investigating noted climate scientist Michael Mann. While at UVa, Mann was researching climate change. Cuccinelli has submitted a subpoena to get documents about Mann’s research, to see if he was abusing public funds. Cuccinelli’s motivations for doing this are suspect to say the least: Mann has already been cleared of any research wrongdoing. If Cuccinelli is trying to ride the "climategate" propaganda, he’s a day late and a docket short; that whole thing has already died with a fizzle.
Last week, I wrote about a second investigation clearing climate change scientists from any wrongdoing in the horrid manufactured controversy of climategate. In that post, and an earlier one, I mentioned that Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was starting a witch hunt, investigating the work of scientist Michael Mann while he was at the University of Virginia. Cuccinelli’s actions are transparently driven by political bias; Mann has been shown repeatedly to have worked honestly and above-board.
I’m not the only one who thinks that. Chris Mooney at The Intersection has quotes and links from a scathing Washington Post editorial, condemning Cuccinelli for his actions. And the Post doesn’t hold back, even calling UVa out, telling them to get a spine and stand up to this attack. Chris put up a second post about how scientists themselves have picked up this banner. Oh, and here’s a third post about the AAAS condemning Cuccinelli as well.
If you attend a scientific talk on a controversial subject, you may be entertained or discomfited by the sometimes spirited discussion it can engender. Scientists love to pick apart new ideas, try to find their strengths and weaknesses. That’s because they know that for an idea to survive scientifically, it must be attacked by scientifically experienced minds; any faults must be aired out. That which survives is stronger for the effort, and more likely to closely model reality.
The key phrase there is "scientifically experienced". When this happens with people inexperienced with the methodologies of science — or worse, those who actively oppose them — then the situation is very different. It changes from a way to strengthen our ideas on the Universe into a witch hunt. Instead of warming up people to discovery, it produces a chilling effect.
We’re seeing this play out in spades in the field of climate science.
To be clear: the climate is changing. There is zero doubt about that. None. Anyone telling you differently has an agenda to ram, and it’s one that is decidedly not realistic.
|"Hey, maybe I can stop global warming
by creating a chilling effect!"
And some of those people ramming through this agenda are using — I would say abusing — their power to do so. For example, über-conservative Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — the same guy who was so offended by the artwork of a naked breast he had it covered up on lapel pins — is investigating climate scientist Michael Mann. Cuccinelli is claiming that Mann may have defrauded taxpayers while trying to get grants to fund his research. Mind you, Mann has survived such attacks before as fallout from the nonsensical climategate "scandal" (which was a completely manufactured controversy with no substance at all).