LETTER- Even climate scientists must follow the law

In [the May 21 news story] "Fighting back? UVA mulls options for Cuccinelli climate demand" the response of UVA to the legal request by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for documents of ex-UVa climatologist Michael Mann are couched in terms of "defense of academic freedom." Rather than open up the halls of academic freedom to the light of day, UVA is presumably spending taxpayer monies to hire an international law firm to seek other options. Is there something to hide in Mann's documents? What aspect of academic freedom is being threatened?

Public funding comes with legal strings attached, and the public is entitled to know that assumed academic integrity is being upheld. The A.G. has stated he is not investigating the scientific merit of Mann's work. He need not. Others, including Canadians Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, and a 2006 U.S. Senatorial (the Wegman report) investigation have already done so.

In 2001, Mann effectively re-wrote global temperature history with his "hockey stick" graph of an unperturbed temperature record until a rapid upswing in the modern industrial age. His flat-line portion of the plot erased the warmer medieval and the cooler little ice age periods, both documented in written and pictorial history. Canadian researchers eventually demonstrated that the hockey stick graph was an artifact of the data processing algorithms used by Mann. An input of random numbers fed into the same process also produced hockey stick graphs. The Wegman commission noted that Mann considered his data his intellectual property, choose to withhold it from his peers, and thereby from peer review.

The UVA response echoes that of the cabal of celebrity climatologists involved in the 2009 "climategate" scandal. U.K. climatologist Phil Jones actively eluded Freedom of Information Requests for his data. "Hide the decline" is now linked to Michael Mann. Penn State continues to investigate Mann.

Academic freedom does not obviate academic accountability.

Charles G. Battig, M.D.