Activity Blog

April 27, 2013

For my extracurricular activity this semester, I went to the talk and discussion by Tom Jackman, a reporter are the Washington Post, about Dr. Michael Mann and the investigation on his climate research that is ongoing. Jackman started by claiming that he believes in open government agencies, but that he was strictly displaying facts and not opinionsā€¦but we’ll get back to that in a bit. Dr. Michael Mann is a climate scientist at Penn State, but from 1999 to 2005 was doing research that the University of Virginia. Since then the research project has been closed, but the American Tradition Institute (ATI) has requested that Dr. Mann releases the nearly 12.000 emails that were made during his research to the public. The former EPA lawyer now representing ATI David SchnareĀ said that “while research was in process, the creative process should be protected. But once the research is published, the public should be entitled to see the process and data behind it” (Jackman 2012). This is a pretty legitimate point to make being that tax payers were technically funding his research and therefore have a right to know all aspects of the project now that is has concluded.


Dr. Michael Mann


This proposes a problem however because the protection of academic freedom is at risk. Dr. Mann states that his emails were not made with the intention to be public but were strictly conversations between scientists and therefore should remain private. If what seemed to be private conversation was forced to be displayed to the public then a climate of fear among all scientists conducting research will be put in place and far less scientific risks for the sack of bettering society will happen. Tom Jackman stated during the talk that the ultimate goal of ATI in investigating these emails is to be able to find errors in his logs and emails that could eventually disprove his work as a scientist and eventually disprove global warming all together.

Recent Global Climate Change Data

Recent Global Climate Change Data from

I found this case to be very interesting because I can understand both sides of the case. On one hand, the public deserves to know what their tax dollars are being used for, but on the other scientists need to feel free to take risks and possibly make mistakes without fear of being disproven. Because these emails were created under the notion that they were private, I believe the Supreme Court should rule that Dr. Mann should not have to give then to ATI and the freedom of the academic process should be upheld. Here is Tom Jackman’s article about the lawsuit. Hopefully the Supreme Court stays in favor with Dr. Mann and the academic process remains protected.

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