It would be an understatement to say that much of the focus in villifying skeptics has been on the skeptic’s funding. The storyline goes that skeptics are only fighting the obvious because they are paid off by oil and coal companies.
But of course, it turns out that global warming alarmists get far more funding than skeptics, likely 100x as much or more (funding for skeptics is at most a million dollar or two a year, and that may be high — funding for alarmists by governments alone is in the billions a year). The quick reply of leading alarmist scientists is that the money is incidental.
I am generally willing to take them at their word — I find trying to look into other people’s hearts to be a hopeless exercise. And besides, does anyone really think the folks who, say, believe in or oppose string theory are taking those positions for the money. If I really had to discuss incentives, I would argue that prestige and wanting to belong are actually stronger motivations for alarmist scientists, as preaching doom seems to lead to fame while being a skeptic seems to lead to academic shunning.
So I have generally avoided the topic of monetary motivation of alarmists, but what am I to think when Penn State makes the case in its report on Michael Mann? In a rather straight-forward way, they make the case that Mann is a good climate scientist because he is good at obtaining funding
This level of success in proposing research, and obtaining funding to conduct it, clearly places Dr. Mann among the most respected scientists in his field. Such success would not have been possible had he not met or exceeded the highest standards of his profession for proposing research…
Had Dr. Mann’s conduct of his research been outside the range of accepted practices, it would have been impossible for him to receive so many awards and recognitions, which typically involve intense scrutiny from scientists who may or may not agree with his scientific conclusions…
Clearly, Dr. Mann’s reporting of his research has been successful and judged to be outstanding by his peers. This would have been impossible had his activities in reporting his work been outside of accepted practices in his field.
This argument is OK as far as it goes, but implicitly defines a great academic as “someone who goes along with the pack.” Note that skeptics cannot claim to get a lot of research grants, because the alarmists control the funding. Skeptics can’t get into peer-reviewed journals, because, as the East Anglia emails make clear, a small group of alarmist scientists are blocking their publication. Mann’s research has been judged outstanding by his peers because he agrees with his peers.
In a large sense, Penn State’s only test of Mann’s ability is that he is currently a member in good standing of the small in-crowd that dominates climate science. His science is good because it comes to the right conclusions.
Unlike many skeptics, I have no desire to “get” Professor Mann. I don’t need him fired or even investigated by Penn State. The way to refute him is to refute him, not haul him in front of tribunals.
That being said, Penn State did start and investigation and as such has some responsibility to do the thing right. And boy was this a joke. The most charitable thing I can say is that his work is fraught with more questionable decisions and practices and approaches than anything I have ever seen that was taken this seriously. We could talk about it for days, but here is one example to get you thinking.