Kenneth Cuccinelli rebuffed

I wrote quite some time ago about Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli’s global warming witch hunt against Michael Mann. The courts have finally shut him down:

The Virginia Supreme Court says the state’s attorney general does not have the authority to subpoena emails from a global warming researcher.

And why did exotic pasta dish Cuccinelli want those emails? Because he’s a walking conservative caricature.

The science you won’t hear

Apparently a few global warming denialists skeptics have released some more DAMNING! emails from climate scientists. It appears that they’re actually from the same crop of hacked emails that were released awhile ago, but is anyone going to care? I make it a point to avoid FOX “News”, but I have no doubt that that station along with the other Republican propaganda machines out there will have no problem taking more things out of context whilst simultaneously presenting this stuff as brand new. Of course, what they won’t mention is this:

Climate-change skeptics have pointed to the emails as evidence that researchers were manipulating data to make global warming look more serious than it is. Multiple investigations by UEA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the British House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, several independent panels and [climate scientist Michael] Mann’s home institution, Pennsylvania State University, found no evidence that these claims were true. The House of Commons did criticize the scientists and UEA for not releasing raw data and for handling freedom-of-information requests poorly. A 2011 parliamentary report concluded that it was time to “move on” from Climategate.

I have a conservative friend who made a big deal out of all this when it was new. (You won’t believe it, but there are conservatives out there who don’t understand a lick of science. Crazy, I know.) Then an early study came out exonerating the scientists of all the nasty claims being made by the anti-science right (sorry to be redundant). He dismissed that study, saying “this if far from over”. I followed up with him as more and more investigations concluded, asking which parts were still alive and kicking. Unfortunately, my follow-ups were all online, so he used the tactic common to many people who are wrong on the Internet – he ran away like a coward. It was really quite symbolic of much of the far right on this issue. And every other scientific issue once they get shown the facts.

And speaking of those who aren’t interested in science, remember the excitement the faster than light neutrino stirred up? No, no, not the genuine scientific excitement. I mean the excitement in the creationist/Christian community. “Why”, they ignorantly said, “this just shows that science doesn’t know what it’s doing!” Yes, yes, we all realize the religious don’t like the fact that science embodies the antithesis of faith. They’re more than happy to abuse the inherent nature of science in order to attack science. If it isn’t dogmatic and sure (based upon nothing more than faith, i.e., an overt lack of evidence), then it just can’t be good, right? That’s probably why this study isn’t likely to show up on too many Christian message boards:

An international team of scientists in Italy studying the same neutrino particles colleagues say appear to have travelled faster than light rejected the startling finding this weekend, saying their tests had shown it must be wrong…

They argue, on the basis of recently published studies by two top U.S. physicists, that the neutrinos pumped down from CERN, near Geneva, should have lost most of their energy if they had travelled at even a tiny fraction faster than light.

But in fact, the ICARUS scientists say, the neutrino beam as tested in their equipment registered an energy spectrum fully corresponding with what it should be for particles traveling at the speed of light and no more.

This doesn’t mark the end of the research on this specific subject, but it does act as a superficial blow to those non-science people who got so excited over all this. I say “superficial” because whether neutrinos can or cannot travel faster than light does no harm to science; the deeper reality is that none of this – absolutely none of it – will favor the religious mindset. But so long as so many people wallow in a fundamental misunderstanding of how science works – it rests upon bodies of evidence, damn it – these new results are unlikely to be promoted by anyone outside the scientific community.

Ken Cuccinelli is on a witch hunt

The Attorney General of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, is on another witch hunt.

When Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli II on Monday revived his anti-climate science crusade with a new, 30-page civil subpoena demanding boatloads of documents from the University of Virginia, we wondered what he might have discovered recently about the work of former U-Va. researcher Michael E. Mann, the object of the probe, that would justify further investigation. The answer: essentially nothing.

Slapped down once by a Virginia judge in his effort to investigate Mr. Mann, the attorney general is trying again with a screed that rehashes a lot of the old arguments about Mr. Mann’s findings, including the complaint about his famous “hockey-stick” graph in 1998, which shows a spike in world temperature during the 20th century. What Mr. Cuccinelli doesn’t discuss is a 2006 inquiry from the National Academy of Sciences on reconstructing historical temperature data, which found that Mr. Mann might better have used some different statistical techniques but that his methods weren’t unacceptably poor. Instead, the academy stressed that his basic conclusions appear sound.

As I’ve said before, people like Cuccinelli don’t have the qualifications to read, understand, and appreciate scientific papers. It’s frustrating when jokes like this guy go out and attack good science out of political and economic ideology.

Oh, and the cost?

To defend itself from Mr. Cuccinelli’s investigation into the distribution of a $214,700 research grant, the University of Virginia has spent $350,000, with more to come, and that doesn’t count the taxpayer funds Mr. Cuccinelli is devoting to this cause. Sadly, though, that’s the smallest of the costs. The damage to Virginia’s reputation, and to its universities’ ability to attract and retain top-notch faculty and students, will not be easily undone.

The record of Ken Cuccinelli

Ken Cuccinelli is a sexually immature, anti-scientific, bigoted conservative who unfortunately holds the high position of Attorney General for Virginia. He has been in the news recently for a few things.

Among the documents Cuccinelli demands are any and all emailed or written correspondence between or relating to Mann and more than 40 climate scientists, documents supporting any of five applications for the $484,875 in grants, and evidence of any documents that no longer exist along with proof of why, when, and how they were destroyed or disappeared.

Pure witch hunt.

I find politicians being involved in science like this especially frustrating given my most recent college semester. I spent a lot of time reading and summarizing a number of scientific papers, so my familiarity with their complexity has only increased. There are a number of things I wouldn’t have understood just a year ago; there are even more things I would have thought I understood, but I wouldn’t have appreciated their importance to the paper. This stuff is not easy. So when people like Cuccinelli pretend like they have the knowledge, qualifications, or honesty to make the accusations they do, it’s frustrating. They have no idea.