BREAKING: Mann Quits Climate Science

UPDATE Our inbox is overflowing—readers who would like to wish Dr Michael E. Mann well in his life beyond science are invited to Tweet him directly. Thank you!

UPDATE 2 Further analysis of this game-changing news can be found here.

—B.K.


Love him or hate him, Michael Mann will leave an irreparable hole in science. The NY Times—reliable as ever—has the definitive coverage of today’s shock reveal that Prof. Mann intends to recuse himself from the climate debate:

masthead nyt-logo

Washington, D.C.—Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University, has used an appearance in the nation’s capital today to announce his retirement from science, which he called “the highest and noblest human vocation.”

Explaining his painful decision, Mann told reporters that “a campaign of ad hominem attacks on my data, findings, data hygiene, math, sample size, proxy selection criteria, proxy exclusion criteria, methodological candor, algorithms, verification scores, disclosure thereof, Fortran code and varve orientation” had made it “impossible to get any real science done for ten or 20 years now.”

So far climate skeptics have failed to deny responsibility for the assaults, though they dispute that they’ve had a negative impact on the scientist’s science.

“Mann’s work has never been better,” to quote a statement issued this afternoon by Stephen McIntyre, a leader within the denial community.

Mann, a groundbreaking researcher, cited “the ordeal of being dragged through the courts by deniers on both sides of the [US-Canadian] border” as another stressor distracting him from his true love: groundbreaking research.

“The growing trend towards litigating science in the courtroom instead of the literature is something that should be deplored by all scientists,” said Mann today, choking back tears. “We never signed up for this!”

Dr Mann, who has directed PSU’s Earth System Science Center since 2013, knows even better than the average climatologist about suffering for one’s science. In 2014 he was hospitalized for a week after two men approached him on the Washington Metro and assaulted his arguments without provocation. The culprits were never caught.

“But this is nothing new. The climate has been hostile to scientists for decades,” said Mann.

“And the climate hasn’t changed one bit since 1998 or so, unfortunately. Not only has there been zero change in the climate, it’s actually gotten worse, I think.

“They can’t attack the science, so they attack the statistics, thermometer placement, logic, sample selection, software, disclosure practices, data retention, data sharing, choice of hypothesis, experimental setup, reproducibility… even the validity of the temperature proxies!

“Anything but the science—which is sound, as anti-scientists know perfectly well.”

Dr Mann said he’d lost the will to do science sometime in the late nineties.

“My wife suggested I sleep on it, and if I still felt the same way in twenty years I should give in my notice.”

Dr Mann also revealed today how close he’d come to quitting several years ago. Ironically, it was only the release in 2011 of the second tranche of illegally-stolen emails from the University of East Anglia—a crime dubbed Climategate 2.0—that convinced him to stay.

“Those emails were a wake-up call. For the first time, we saw just how deeply denialism had seeped into supposedly-legitimate scientific circles.

“How could I walk away [from the climate wars] then, when people I’d assumed were my friends were saying things behind my back like, ‘Mann’s graph is very shoddy work,’ Stephen McIntyre ‘may have a good point’ and ‘Mike is defending the indefensible?’”

To give up then would have been to cede climatology’s upper echelons to the forces of denial and debate, he said.

Only in the last couple of years, continued Dr Mann, has he felt comfortable about the prospect of abandoning the profession.

“Now that the evidence has grown so much stronger, I thought, yeah: the field is ready to stand on its own two feet. Science can probably survive without me now.”

Following his prepared remarks, Mann threw the floor open to questions. The first came from the Times’ own cadet Kay Phabe. Blushing and starstruck, Ms Phabe managed to stammer: “Distinguished Professor Mann, could you give us an example of the ‘new evidence’ that’s made ‘the science’ so much ‘stronger’ in recent years?”

Dr Mann was about to answer in depth and to the satisfaction of even the most skeptical person in the room when he abruptly cut the conference short. Handlers for the former scientist apologized, explaining that he was late for court.


35 thoughts on “BREAKING: Mann Quits Climate Science

  1. The guy who masterfully used lawyer right left and centre has the audacity to complain about the ordeal of “being dragged through the courts by deniers on both sides of the [USA-Canada] border”????????? Excuse me but last time I checked all these court actions were Mann versus someone else. Correct me if I am wrong.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. You forgot ‘Big Tobacco lawyer.’

    No doubt they figured: if anyone can win Mann’s case it’s John B. Williams, the guy who got Joe Camel off on charges of advertising to minors.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Is Mann so devoid of scientific process that he believes all the criteria he views as “attacks” can and should be questioned in the search for scientific truth? or does he believe his mantra is beyond question?
    “Explaining his painful decision, Mann told reporters that “a campaign of ad hominem attacks on my data, findings, data hygiene, math, sample size, proxy selection criteria, proxy exclusion criteria, methodological candor, algorithms, verification scores, disclosure thereof, Fortran code and varve orientation” had made it “impossible to get any real science done for at least ten or 15 years now.”

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Bravo Dr Mann. You should have given up science long ago. Maybe at the start.

    Science should be approached with a modicum of humility and by persons with egos that can tolerate correction.

    I hope this decision will help you find the peace you could not find in exploring the mysteries of Nature.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Paul,

    Hmmm. We’re all disappointed but I’d probably call my article ‘read-bait.’

    A.k.a. ‘an article.’

    Like

  6. Frederick, minor correction:

    ‘Bravo Dr Mann. You should have given up science long ago. Maybe at the start.’

    He did. And now he’s given up climate science too.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hilary,

    loved your story. Brilliant opening salvo:

    ‘A little over four months ago, Dr. Judith Curry had excerpted and commented on what I would call a meeting of the mindless, i.e. a joint whine paired with cheesey (and unsubstantiated) allegations, co-authored by two self-declared “experts” – psychologist, Stephan Lewandowsky and climate scientist, Michael Mann – who share an extreme aversion to disclosing the data and code behind their contributions to the annals of so-called “peer-reviewed” literature in their respective fields.’

    Haha! I recommend clicking on reading it.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. You deniers will never learn. Dr. Mann has an intellect that brings shame on Leibniz’s and comparing his accomplishments with those of Aristotle is just plain ridiculous.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Replying to: BRAD KEYES, 08 May 16 at 4:37 am

    Witty article, but if you’re going to use the New York Times banner may I suggest some sort of disclaimer somewhere in it, e.g.:
    ——-spoof———.
    Or don’t use the banner. Just to avoid confusion. Thanks.

    Like

  10. Paul,

    thanks for the interesting suggestion.

    However, I did choose the New York Times brand precisely so that readers wouldn’t mistake it for anything reality-based. A kind of caveat lector, if you will. Labelling it a “spoof” would seem rather redundant. 🙂

    Like

  11. Ian, that’s an awesome idea—but could we do it on an IP-address-by-IP-address basis? In my experience it’s our American readers who would benefit the most from such a system.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hilary, my apologies for the above comment—I meant specifically our readers located between, but not including, Mexico and Canada, in case that was unclear.

    Like

  13. Paul, I hope I addressed that travesty (with a [sic] after the redressal, but nonetheless…) in the followup post.

    Like

  14. I disagree with your choice of banner without some notice that it is a parody or spoof. Copyright laws give license to use such things for the purposes of criticism or satire, but such things must be clearly delineated. The category you have it posted in is “news”, and their is no mention of any satire in the article. The un-discerning or casual reader can’t make the distinction, as my Inbox this morning attests to.

    You are on shaky legal ground, IMHO. Continue without such notice at your own risk.

    Anthony

    Like

  15. Thanks Anthony.

    I hadn’t actually noticed how WP was tagging my stories. We’ve now moved it from News to Newsiness.

    Like

  16. Ahrgg, Here I am googling (like a fool!) for a backup source to read more about Mann’ retirement. Oh well………

    Like

  17. Hi Henry. Wishful thinking I’m afraid. Just for my own curiosity: did you read the article first, or go straight to google?

    Like

  18. Pingback: Mann Retirement: Analysis, Reax | Climate Scepticism

  19. I have spotted a possible typo: shouldn’t the last word in ” [Mann] used an appearance in the nation’s capital today to announce his retirement from science, which he called “the highest and noblest human vocation” be vacation?

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Hehehe. Well, the NY Times’ spell checkers will be getting a stern letter from me. Where is all the traffic to this story coming from today? How did you find out about it, Alan?

    Like

  21. Alan, I was thinking more along the lines of: how was it that a year-old post came to your (and hundreds of other people’s) attention[s] today, of all days? Did you see a Tweet? Not that I’m complaining, I just find Twitter’s referrals opaque sometimes.

    Like

  22. Brad. It just came up as a “Recent Comment” this morning. I didn’t originally note that it was a May posting until after I had responded today. Took me a couple of paragraphs before I twigged; you should come with a health warning.

    Liked by 1 person

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