10 Feb 2006

Hockey Stick Headed for a Showdown

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Penn State Professor Michael Mann’s famous hockey-stick graph allegedly demonstrating dramatic Northern Hemisphere temperature increases in recent times is one of the best known evidentiary exhibits cited when the case for the reality of Global Warming is being made. Mann’s tree-ring-based temperature chart first appeared in a 1999 paper and was rapidly adopted as the prevailing orthodoxy in climate science, despite its revolutionary revaluation of the significance of known climatic events over the past millenium.

The hockey stick has drawn serious criticism in scientific circles, and as the Wall Street Journal reports, Republican Congressional inquiries have finally produced an upcoming review by the National Academy of Sciences.

An 11-member academy panel will now study the accuracy and importance of such research, in particular the work of Dr. Mann, whose hockey-stick graph was included in a report issued by the United Nations in 2001. An academy spokesman said the report would be completed in about four months.

Dr. Mann’s critics, including two amateur Canadian climate researchers, say his work contains serious inaccuracies. Dr. Mann has denied that, but the debate has prompted several climate researchers to take a fresh look at temperature reconstructions.

Ideological instrusions into academic research leading to flawed methodologies and fudged results, first celebrated and acclaimed, but ultimately provoking major scrutiny and being debunked, have occurred before. Dr. Mann’s hockey-stick is likely soon to be joining Dr. Bellisles’ study of American probate records in the Academic world’s rogues gallery of exploded fabrications.

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