Thursday, August 4, 2011

Of Bear-Faced Frauds And Facts

THE Climategate emails erupted out of nowhere. One day they were briefly and mysteriously posted on a Russian server, copied immediately, re-posted all over and soon thereafter rendered searchable, all in the space of 36 hours. They have remained the largest and most comprehensive catalogue of the money, ambition, venality and spite driving the great corruption of our age. Now we may be well be witnessing Climategate II, this one a naked and more readily comprehensible example of not just science’s corruption, but of how far the cancer that has eaten into politics, education, journalism and popular culture. Climategate I was pointillism – lots of little dots that only made sense from a distance. The ongoing investigation of the scientists behind the Great Polar Bear Swindle boasts the sharpening clarity of a photographic print in a bath of fixer. This latest scandal is a landscape shot, broad and full of rich detail. Even at what is now but first glance, you can almost see the cash sticking out of the careerists’ pockets.

The deeper you read into the evidence released so far, and it amounts at this stage to the transcripts of two long interviews conducted by US federal agents with the polar biologists whose 2006 paper started it all, the more the picture emerges -- although just at the moment it is more than somewhat fogged by a distinct reluctance in some quarters to acknowledge its ugliness. The meme in the verdant precincts of the tax-and-trees left is that somehow, by means devious and foul, the suspension of Charles Monnett is part of a conspiracy by corrupt bureaucrats, Big Carbon and, improbable as it would have seemed just a year or two ago seem, President Obama. Apart from demonstrating how low the US president’s stocks have fallen, a cheering thing in itself, it proves that gullibility is perhaps the hardest of all addictions to break.

Prof. Stephan Lewandowsky hews to the conspiracy theory, as you might expect of Alene Composta’s special friend, and he has been wailing of treachery and dark forces from his little locked room beneath the eaves at The Jaspan Home For Otherwise Unpublishable Nonsense. This time, perhaps for the first time in his career, Lewandowsky actually serves a useful purpose, as his raving makes a fine foil for the truth. Every single paragraph of his Conversation article is opposed by the actual evidence of the agents interview with co-author Jeffrey Gleason, so comparing Lewandowsky's delusions with the written record should do much to cast each in the appropriate light. Incredibly, Lewandowsky links to that same Gleason transcript! It is clear he has never read it or, if he has, that the details of the scandal it bares are simply beyond his ken to accept.

Below you will find Loondowsky’s dribble, followed by extracts from the agents’ interview with avian biologist Jeffrey S. Gleason, the junior of the 2006 paper’s co-authors. His former colleague, the defensive Charles Monnett, has already been questioned and will shortly be grilled again. In the meantime he has been stood down.

And remember, the Monnett and Gleason paper suggested (but did not specifically assert) that polar bears are in a lot of trouble because global warming is melting the ice sheets on which they hunt.  The bears must therefore swim much further, with many more drowning on their way to breakfast. This theory, swallowed and broadly regurgitated (often with an additional whisk of the beat-up machine), has become one of the prime tenets of a warmist creed now so entrenched that even CocaCola has rather slyly joined the choir.

Here goes:

LEWANDOWSKY: Something does not add up.

About two weeks ago, a scientist working for the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Enforcement and Regulation (BOEMRE), Dr Charles Monnett, was placed on administrative leave.

In effect, he was banned from his place of work and formally placed under investigation.

For what?

REALITY: For not being sure if he saw three drowned bears or four, as the Gleason transcript reveals. For exchanging phone calls with another polar biologist who appears to suggest those dead bears might make a very nice a meal ticket, as it also reveals. Below, investigator Eric May refreshes Gleason’s memory:
ERIC MAY: Okay, let me read an email from Monnett to you, and it says, "Just got off the phone with my co-supervisor from my PhD, who's an Arctic ecologist, and I mentioned the dead polar bear sightings. He thought we might be onto something with the global warming angle. In any case, he recommended we get in touch with Ian Stirling" – who you just mentioned – "to discuss our observations. It might be worthwhile to get his views on the topic."
Remember the name Ian Sterling. Also bear in mind Andy Derocher, of the University of Alberta, who parlayed the drowning-bears paper into a $1.2 million research project of his own. Both are mentioned as peer reviewers in the Gleason transcript, and each will attain a much greater prominence as this scandal unfolds. Bet on it. Until then, here is Derocher furthering the polar bear scam and promoted his own career.

LEWANDOWSKY: This is where things get murky, especially because Dr Monnett apparently has not been informed of the charges against him. 

What is known, however, is that Dr Monnett published a paper in 2006 that reported the discovery of several floating bodies of polar bears, presumed drowned while trying to swim across long ice-free distances in the Arctic ocean. This article attracted a lot of attention at the time and helped put the fate of Arctic animals, and the effects of climate change in the Arctic, onto the political agenda. 

REALITY: Technically, that may be true, but only because formal charges have not yet been filed. But the issues at the centre of the probe are nowhere near murky, not in the least -- and certainly not in the Gleason transcript. From the thrust of his own interview with Agent May and the substance of Gleason’s session, Monnett must by now be uncomfortably aware of what the G-Men are after.

Here is one thing the agents are bulldog-keen to unravel – deceptively bad mathematics which the paper’s peer reviewers allowed to pass uncorrected. Agent May allows Gleason to blather for a bit, then explains the fraud:
JEFFREY GLEASON: The numbers of polar bears that we observed are solid numbers. Those aren't mathematically sort of tweaked or modeled or anything. Those are simple observations. …  I think the Regional Director was most concerned about those numbers, not the fact that we observed some dead polar bears. It was this sort of extrapolation … a simple "X times Y." You know, it's a fairly straightforward calculation.
ERIC MAY: Well, and the reason I bring it up, this "straightforward calculation," that's a great segue, because I had my folks who are experts in numbers/statistics, and they found that there was error in the extrapolation methodology that suggests that the survival rate of the polar bears in 2004 was 57 percent as opposed to the 25 percent reported in the manuscript. That's quite a difference in terms of 25 percent is very, "Wow, that's huge."
ERIC MAY: Polar bears are going to be dying a lot more, versus 57 percent. So how would you explain the difference with the calculations there?
JEFFREY GLEASON: Is there a potential we made a mistake, and the peer reviewers didn't catch it? Possibly.
ERIC MAY: But that's a pretty substantial mistake … Because if you reported 57 percent in your manuscript, what we talked about earlier, how people were taking this and exaggerating the results, probably may have not have happened in terms of the world taking your study as attributing global warming.
Now, back to the padded cell. 

LEWANDOWSKY: It is not entirely surprising, therefore, that Dr Monnett’s suspension was greeted with glee and delight by those who deny the fact that the Earth is warming due to human greenhouse gas emissions. Their conclusion, as obvious to them as it was unwarranted by the available information, was that Dr Monnett’s scientific work was under investigation and hence should not be trusted. 

The polar bear, the Arctic, and the planet are just fine now, and CO2 emissions nothing to worry about, because one biologist has been placed on administrative leave. 

REALITY: Overlook that Lewandowsky plays with sarcasm and loses. The paper’s methodology and mathematical accuracy are very much under scrutiny, but that aspect is only the investigation’s starting point. The real focus is on the $50 million empire of grants Monnett garnered, both for his own research and the projects of mates in the “polar bear community.”

It was some of those same mates – the aforementioned Sterling and Derocher amongst them – who reviewed the paper, did not deign to correct the shonky sums, and then cashed the research cheques that built careers and furthered the original deception.

The dialogue below, which sees Gleason attempt to distance himself from the study’s flaws and the hubbub they generated, is particularly illuminating:
ERIC MAY: But you don't agree with what's being thrown out in the media about your report, do you?
JEFFREY GLEASON: I think it's went a long ways away from where the paper initially went. You know, I think it's mushroomed into this huge thing that we saw some dead polar bears, which was interesting. And there's potential with this additional source of sort of previously poorly documented or undocumented source of natural mortality that might have an impact on the population. But to go to selling cars, you know, or a few years back, there were Coke commercials or Pepsi commercials and all this stuff.
JOHN MESKEL: The polar bear drinking a Coke?
JEFFREY GLEASON: Yeah. All this stuff is odd.
ERIC MAY: Well, let me ask you, as a scientist, and you see all this false information being blown into a mushroom, as you state, as a scientist, do you think you're obligated to follow up with your findings in here for further research on this issue?
JEFFREY GLEASON: If I was a polar bear scientist, and I was still working up in the Arctic and doing research on polar bears, absolutely I would follow up.

Even the co-author no longer believes the paper to which he put his name! That does not bother Lewandowsky one bit.

LEWANDOWSKY: [The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management ] later issued a statement that Dr Monnett’s suspension had nothing to do with his scientific work in general or the polar-bear study in particular. BOEMRE said that Dr Monnett was being investigated for administrative matters, involving “collateral duties involving contracts.” The investigation, it was said, had “nothing to do with scientific integrity, [nor] his 2006 journal article."

REALITY: The first quote is from Macleans, a Canadian magazine, and the second from Mother Jones, which would say that. Each also has been superceded by this update, quoted in the Guardian:
“We intend to discuss actions taken in your official capacity as a biologist and any collateral duties involving contracts as an official of the US government,” Eric May, an official in the department of interior's inspector general's office wrote in the letter.
"Those actions include the procurement of a sole source, cost-reimbursable contract with the University of Alberta to conduct a study titled Populations and Sources of the Recruitment in Polar Bears."
The study was but the investigation’s starting point, the rotten root which has poisoned every research project growing out of it. That is Agent May’s real topic of inquiry.

Oh, and just by the by, Lewandowsky links to both the Guardian and the Gleason transcript. Apparently he is another warmist who cannot be bothered to read his own “evidence”.

Let us now rejoin Lewandowsky as his thoughts reach their climax in a frenzy of paranoia.

LEWANDOWSKY: …why did this same investigator, a certain Eric May who very evidently has no scientific training or knowledge, interview another scientist on the same issue of polar bear research in January 2011?...

... BOEMRE’s website clarifies it “is the federal agency responsible for overseeing the safe and environmentally responsible development of energy and mineral resources on the outer continental shelf.”

Accordingly, “BOEMRE is leading the most aggressive and comprehensive reforms to offshore oil and gas regulation and oversight in U.S. history.”

Last month, President Obama issued an order to speed up Arctic drilling permits.

Something does not add up.

Or does it?

REALITY: If you have a spare hour-or-so, read the entire Gleason transcript. There should be not the slightest doubt after that about Lewandowsky’s sanity or, rather, his lack of it. The evidence of warmist conspiracy is all there, yet Lewandowsky, a psychologist who should know a thing or two about projection, sees the exact same misbehaviour in his enemies.

And if you are still tempted to grant Lewandowsky’s sanity the benefit of the doubt, watch the video below. The immediate need for a padded cell is undeniable.
UPDATE: Two weeks after Derocher’s research was put on ice, so to speak, he has been given the go-ahead to resume. Whether it will continue as more revelations emerge from the Monnett/Gleason investigation remains to be seen. Take this news as further confirmation of a truth that is now beyond dispute: Climate research scams are a lot harder to kill than polar bears.


  1. "Take this news as further confirmation of a truth that is now beyond dispute: Climate research scams are a lot harder to kill than polar bears."

    Yes. On that one at least, The Science Is Settled™.

  2. This is hilarious,and pathetic. May is uncomfortably straddling the role of interviewer and judge. Did you notice? Nope.

    Special Agent May is trying to make Gleason feel guilty for the ways others have subsequently used his co-authored 4 page paper's findings.

    Hell,yeah! Why wasn't Gleason running around whacking moles from years back,instead of carrying out his current job description?

    Gleason: 'We never mentioned global warming...'

    May: 'But it's inferred. That's why the world took it up as a global warming tangent.'

    Gleason is a thought criminal!

    Lordy, we can't have independent others putting two and two together,can we? Gleason and Monnett must control every subsequent readers interpretations,like trustees of some literary estate.

    Bunyip: 'The evidence of a warmist conspiracy is all there.' LOL,you are a paranoid lil feller. There is certainly a maths error,which is trivial in the context that all the numbers after the four swimming,three dead were clearly noted as speculative and extrapolative from the 11% of the survey area that they had covered.Just thinking out aloud,which is not an indictable offense in a paper.In fact,it is the very raison d'etre of science publication. Anybody who reads the paper can follow the methodology and do the numbers. Conspiracy? Pfft.

    Bunyip:'Even the co-author no longer believes the paper to which he put his name.'

    Er,no,Bunny ,that's just a bit of stretch,a little over-the-top.In fact,bullshit. The "false information"[May's choice of words]being discussed is some of the inevitable,uncontrollable speculation that others have built partly from this noteworthy observation of Monnet and Gleason's. Life's like that. To Gleason,the paper is what it is,the product of the time and means available to the researchers.Publish and move on,letting others view the findings.

    Gleason would happily follow up on the original stuff IF HE WAS STILL EMPLOYED AS A POLAR BEAR SCIENTIST. But he ain't. Sorry ,Agent May.

    Gleason does not resile from his speculation in the slightest. He's just a little gob-smacked at the hysteria since,and particularly now.Who'd have guessed it would have agitated a bunyip half a decade later and half a world away?

  3. Man, Lewandowsky is one creepy guy...

    Just listening and watching him is enough to persuade me to reconsider the validity of a whole raft of conspiracy theories!

  4. Seeing this Lewandowsky ranting is frightening.
    Is it possible that an apparently mentally deranged person is allowed to play a role in interaction with the public?
    This only fact is enough to believe that this whole Mann-Jones-Polar bear-etc gang is a quasi criminal entreprise with the only target to suck a maximum of taxpayers' money for their "research".

  5. The word that comes to mind listening to Lewandowski is "facile". His disquisiation seems to assert two points: those skeptical about AGW are "cognitively" challenged because they believe that free enterprise is the solution to every problem; and your AGW skeptic is a paranoid conspiracy theorist of the stripe who think that jews run the world.

    You can't argue or reason with such people because they are simply not clever enough to appreciate the banality and stupidity of their effusions. No doubt Lewandowski thinks of himself as an intellectual, yet a moderately intelligent 12 year old could pierce these infantile over-simplifications.

    But it's all good. I'm not convinced either way about AGW, but it's comforting when you ascertain you can dismiss an advocate for one side or the other as not worth listening to.

  6. The video of Lewandowsky at the end reminds me of..

  7. Rafe at Catallaxy showing great flair with his headings.

  8. Brilliant report sir. Having worked in research alongside leftist academics I can vouch you're correct to hone in on the career/money trail. Among Principal Scientists I can assure you that's what it's really about -- cushy careers, handsome pay and a necessary and cynical exploitation of the media and public to fulfill their nefarious ambitions.
    Gleason sounds as if he may still harbor some lingering desire to be scientifically honest and may himself be a victim, both of his own naivety and the aforementioned cynical careerism of his supervisor. Gleason needs to get completely frank and open about this if he wants to salvage his own conscience.

  9. Nick starts his post with the words : "This is hilariarious, and pathetic." What an apt description of the subsequent ill-written bilge he then committed to print.

  10. Anonymous,my bilge was simply ill-understood.By you.

    For the [other?] anonymous,scientific careerism is axiomatic with corruption.How does this axiom stand for other professions? And how do you conclude that Gleason was not completely 'frank and open'? You can't,but suspicion is proof.

    Scientists interrogated=scientist guilty.

    Scientist resumes work=scientist guilty but also a damn good conspirator. Oh noes,they've gotten to everybody!

    The seemless tinfoil tent is strong with you,Bunyip