In the wake of the Climategate scandal establishment figures have been helping circle the wagons and head off unwelcome scrutiny by legal experts. The latest wagon-circler is Dr. Judith Curry, a member of NASA's Climate Research Committee for three years. Now she is the self-appointed apologist for the unethical and some say, fraudulent, conduct of Penn. State University’s climate professor, Michael Mann.
In an interview with Thomas Fuller of the Environmental Policy Examiner (May 4, 2010) this respected establishment scientist criticizes Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for doing his job. Dr. Curry somehow confuses an honest mistake with a deliberate pre-meditated criminal fraud.
Her tirade was prompted by Cuccinelli’s legal demand for access to Mann’s records from his former employers at Virginia State University where the tree-ring researcher benefited by almost $500,000 in taxpayer funding.
The Evidence Shows Probable Cause
As someone who has studied the available evidence in great detail I share Cuccinelli’s concerns. I fear government scientists may have been complicit in foisting junk science upon us to help world governments introduce unwelcome cap and trade tax policies.
The only reason Mann’s British counterparts are not in jail is because they evaded prosecution on a mere technicality. Across the board climate researchers are shown to be guided by “subjectivity” leading them to cherry pick their data.
I recommend that Dr. Curry and other warmist sympathizers pay heed to science fraud experts like James Sheehan.
James Sheehan is an Associate US Attorney working out of the US Attorney’s Office, US Department of Justice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mann’s new stomping ground. Sheehan confirms that fraud in scientific research is a widespread problem. (1.)
Studies prove that 40% or more of surveyed researchers knew of scientific misconduct but did not report it (2.). In the field of medical science alone, 17% of surveyed researchers personally knew of fabrication by colleagues over the previous 10 years (3.)
Scientific fraud can and does happen because researchers either crave professional recognition or adamantly believe they have the “right” answer, despite evidence to the contrary. Scientific swindlers, being highly educated and intelligent, are extremely adept at falsifying data and documents. We are talking here about cases such as the Korean stem cell cloning fraud and Britain’s MMR vaccine-autism scandal. These remind us that society must stay vigilant in such matters.
Specialist US attorneys, like Sheehan, routinely apply criminal fraud statutes, such as section 1001 of title 18 of the US Code (18 USC §1001), to nail such crooked scientists. Thus, Attorney General, Cuccinelli and US attorney Sheehan are clearly on the same page, but Dr. Curry won’t even look at the right book.
Science fraudsters give off “warning signs” that Sheehan says are clearly “suggestive of fraud or conflict of interest.“ He goes on to say that law enforcers “should not hesitate to take a second look at the research results and other relevant documents.”
In Sheehan’s world Cuccinelli is simply doing his job.
The Criminal Fraud Standard
U.S. prosecutors who identify a fraud merely apply, “the standard of good faith and fair dealing as understood in the community, involving deception or breach of trust, for money.”
Sheehan reports that juries will hold an individual researcher responsible “if they are convinced that he or she knowingly deceived others and had a plausible motivation to cheat.”
A fraud jury only convicts if they are convinced there has been a breach of the ‘community standard.’ In other words, only when “a lie or a false document has been perpetrated with the intention of creating a false impression.”
Upholding Transparency in Government
I urge Dr. Curry to rethink her position on this issue. According to independent audits of what little evidence has come light, it has been shown that Mann’s infamous ‘hiding the decline’ of global temperatures was statistical sophistry, not science.
If Professor Mann is innocent then he will have nothing to hide. But despite repeated requests for access to Mann’s data, independent auditors have been denied. Thus, Cuccinelli smells a rat and was compelled to use the law to force disclosure.
Dr. Curry and other apologists for unethical scientists should respect the rule of law. While such scientists remain under suspicion they should receive no further government funding unless they provide utter transparency and cooperate fully in all such lawful investigations. Particularly in such harsh economic times, voters have the right to know how these scientists have spent our hard-earned tax dollars.
(1.) Sheehan, J.G., ‘Fraud, conflict of interest, and other enforcement issues in clinical research’ Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, Volume 74, Supplement 2 (March 2007)
(2.) Ranstam J, Buyse M, George SL, et al. Fraud in medical research: an international survey of biostatisticians. ISCB Subcommittee on Fraud. Control Clin Trials 2000; 21:415–427. 7. Geggie D. A survey of newly appointed consultants’ attitudes towards research fraud. J Med Ethics 2001; 27:344–346
(3.) Gardner W, Lidz CW, Hartwig KC. Authors’ reports about research integrity problems in clinical trials. Contemp Clin Trials 2005; 26:244–251.