Sceptic lawyer John O'Sullivan writes on the legal issues around the Michael Mann furore which is currently under investigation. His email to CO2 Insanity is reproduced in full below. It emphasises the view of this blog that climate scientists are not immune from the law any more than medical researchers who fudge test reports on a new drug who would be probably be jailed for such misconduct .
But if we take the heat out of the argument for a moment and just ponder the essential legal issues, we may see some plain blue sky rather than the fog of opprobrium currently emanating from some quarters.
What is Fraud?
I would urge readers to be clear in their mind on this, as it is crucial to understanding the significance of Mann’s conduct. Fraud may legally be defined as “A false representation of a matter of fact—concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury”
What are the Five Key Elements?
Whether you are warmist or sceptic and whichever legal authorities you refer to on this, you will find that the basic common law requirements in proving fraud must fulfill five separate elements, as follows:
(1)There must be a false statement of a material fact:
(2) Knowledge on the part of the defendant that the statement is untrue;
(3) Intent on the part of the defendant to deceive the alleged victim;
(4) Justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on the statement, and;
(5) Injury to the alleged victim as a result.
How Do The Elements Apply to Michael Mann?
Ok, let’s play prosecutor and apply the above to Mann’s case:
(1.) Michael Mann presented his hockey stick graph-a consolidation of various paleoclimatic data-without clarifying that he had not applied such proxy data throughout. Mann had, in fact, secretly grafted onto his graph the actual temperature records from the 1960’s and dispensed with the tree ring proxies. He never admitted to such deceit. This was to ‘hide the decline’ in the reliability of his proxies. Moreover, he claimed to have used a large data sample-he didn’t. Analyst, Steve McIntyre uncovered that the whole scam spins around one tree!
(2.) The leaked Climategate computer folders marked “CENSORED” and “FIXED,” affirm that a 14 bristlecone pine series had been consciously and deliberately excluded by Mann in his calculations and thereafter kept from scrutiny. Thanks to a whistleblower, we now have at least some of the data despite Mann’s best efforts to keep it from independent auditors’ eyes. Despite having seen his methodologies exposed as both unsound and unethical Mann refused to correct his findings. Thus we may infer conscious and deliberate persistence in his deceit (mens rea).
(3.) In numerous interviews and publications Mann may be shown to have made repeated statements that his graph is a robust attempt at a proxy of past GLOBAL temperatures. This is a lie. At best, because he cherry-picked data so vigorously, his graph merely represents a localized proxy of North America.
(4.) Mann’s work is heavily cited by the IPCC. World governments acted on such ‘evidence’ and continue to invest heavily in remedial and unnecessary climate measures because they were persuaded that modern temps were potentially ‘catastrophic’ based on the spurious greenhouse gas thesis of Mann and his colleagues.
(5.) The total cost already paid globally by taxpayers is estimated to be in the tens of billions. Food aid projects have been impacted and hunger and starvation was precipitated by needless enterprises like biofuel farming. Mann may be held accountable for a proportion of that financial and human loss.
‘A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush’
Thus we have sketched out the basics of a case; while a more thorough analysis would no doubt fill a large filing cabinet-similar to that empty one in the corner of Mann’s office marked ‘Proof of My Integrity.’
Dr. Judith Curry has made the point that others may also have been engaged in such egregious conduct. Of course, Mann wasn’t acting alone and this is not a ‘witch-hunt.’ But rather than exonerating Mann, such an apologist argument merely mires him deeper in a conspiracy to defraud. And busting the wider conspiracy is any prosecutor’s goal.
Anti-corruption investigators proceed by pinpointing one fraudster at a time so that others may be more readily fitted into the conspiratorial puzzle; and taxpayers will be glad to see an end to that junk science gravy train.
No More Scientific Dystopia
It’s heartening to find that Dr. Curry shares in the desire of skeptics for improvements in climate science ethics generally. Hopefully, we can find common cause to more quickly rid ourselves of the bogus greenhouse gas theory.
Until that pseudo-science is buried I fear we still risk plunging downward into the spiral of scientific dystopia now more generally referred to as ‘post-normal science.’
Newton and Einstein would be spinning in their graves!
John O’Sullivan is a legal advocate and writer who for several years has litigated in government corruption and conspiracy cases in both the US and Britain. Visit his website. Any opinions he expresses are his own and do not necessarily represent those of the site owner.