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Judge Quashes Subpoena of UVA Research Records

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the closing-the-climategate dept.

Earth 293

esocid writes "An Albemarle County Circuit Court judge has set aside a subpoena issued by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to the University of Virginia seeking documents related to the work of climate scientist and former university professor Michael Mann. Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. ruled that Cuccinelli can investigate whether fraud has occurred in university grants, as the attorney general had contended, but ruled that Cuccinelli's subpoena failed to state a 'reason to believe' that Mann had committed fraud. He also set aside the subpoena without prejudice, meaning Cuccinelli can rewrite it to better explain why he wants to investigate, but seemed skeptical about the underlying claim of fraud. The ruling is a major blow for Cuccinelli, a global warming skeptic who had maintained he was investigating whether Mann committed fraud in seeking government money for research that showed the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming. Mann, now at Penn State University, worked at U-Va. until 2005. 'The Court has read with care those pages and understands the controversy regarding Dr. Mann's work on the issue of global warming. However, it is not clear what he did was misleading, false or fraudulent in obtaining funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia,' Peatross wrote. The ruling also limited Cuccinelli to asking about only one of the five grants issued, which was the only one using state funds."

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293 comments

Judge Does Something Smart? (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#33420886)

Interesting.

Re:Judge Does Something Smart? (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33420942)

They're not all bad...I know that the judges at our local courthouse (which is less than a mile away from our apartment...keeps crime down:-)) vary greatly.

Re:Judge Does Something Smart? (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#33420962)

So do the local ones around me. It'd be nice for a little more consistency.

Re:Judge Does Something Smart? (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421210)

In general, local politicians (not really the right term for a judge, I know) tend to be a bit easier to work with than the higher ups. I know a lot of the judges in local courts that I've visited/juried in/etc. tend to be very shrewd people who take their role as an arbiter of the law very seriously. Similarly, most city-council politicians I know tend to work very hard to keep in touch with their voter base and to enact seemingly sane policies. Politics and law at the local level tend to be pretty mild and generally accessible. It's when you start dealing with folks who work on the State level and above that you run into the real D-bags.

Re:Judge Does Something Smart? (2, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#33422244)

Similarly, most city-council politicians I know tend to work very hard to keep in touch with their voter base and to enact seemingly sane policies.

In my experience, it's the city council politicians who run based on personal agenda and then push that agenda as much as they can while in office. They also know that they can pass all kinds of stupid "pronouncements" with little to no real meaning other than making themselves look great to the loudest nutcases, so they don't have to worry about what they pass.

They can also schedule all their meetings so that no sane person could possibly attend them all, thus creating a lack of competition for the next election. Ours meets on the first and third Monday at noon AND at 7PM, and has commissions they are part of that meet on various weekdays at 7:30AM or 8PM. If you are in any way employed you are almost certain not to be able to attend all the meetings, so even if you did get elected you'd get kicked off the council for failing to attend meetings. Except for one council favorite who keeps taking time off to make illegal trips to Cuba and displays a Cuban flag pasted to the top of his city-funded laptop, he gets excused whenever he asks.

Re:Judge Does Something Smart? (3, Insightful)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 3 years ago | (#33420958)

Judges are not stupid, unlike a lot of people who think the Courts are an extension of the Political machine. People may appoint Judges for political reasons but they should never bow to those reasons.

Re:Judge Does Something Smart? (3, Interesting)

memyselfandeye (1849868) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421144)

I tend to agree. I'm a political junkie by nature, so take this with a grain of salt, but it seems to me that Judges do a good job of holding true to law. The big news going around about stem-cells has a lot of my peers -I work in a University- roiled, but let's face facts, if it's true that he ruled based on a 90s law that forbids stem cell research, then maybe it's time to change the law and not bend it? Same goes for this case, as it was for the big evolution case in PA where a conservative appointed judge ruled that evolution is a real scientific theory and intelligent design was a ploy to rename creationism and thus illigal to teach in public schools.

2.5 cents.

Re:Judge Does Something Smart? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33421310)

Intelligent Design is renamed Creationism, they even found the 'smoking' version of 'Of Pandas and People' showing the 'evolution' of the book. One of these days the people will finally realize that these sort of people are out for political gain over the truth but I don't hold my breath.

I am just glad there are Judges who follow the law even if they may not like the law. Even if the ruling is against what I believe in....

Good (5, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#33420908)

If this is not a political prosecution, I don't know what is. As a Virginia taxpayer, I don't mind politicians bloviating, but I don't like them chewing up public resources to do so.

Yes, very disturbing (5, Insightful)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421304)

It comes down to suing researchers out of existance if their results conflict with a political stance

This is beyond scary, it is a sign of America moving from a world leader in research to a has-been backwater

Re:Yes, very disturbing (4, Insightful)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 3 years ago | (#33422042)

Eh? It seems to me that it comes down to needing a subpoena in order to get access to a public employee's work product.

If you want to talk scary, that's scary. Mann worked/works for public universities paid for with tax dollars. Explain why getting access to anything that he does while on tax payer time isn't as simple as saying "hey dude, can we see your work?"

Re:Good (1, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421462)

This isn't even a prosecution yet. It's an investigation....

And you have no clue if it's politicians bloviating with public resources or not until something is found or nothing is found. As the judge said, the argument could be made, it just wasn't on the warrant, to investigate the use of the one grant.

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421662)

the argument could be made, it just wasn't on the warrant, to investigate the use of the one grant.

Is the Virginia Attorney General qualified to do that investigation?

A public officer needs to have some basis for any investigation he starts. Unless he has the proper scientific qualifications, or has received reliable information from an expert in the field, anything he does is nothing but political pressure.

And you have no clue if it's politicians bloviating with public resources or not until something is found or nothing is found

Unless something is found, it's the Virginia Attorney General who must prove he had cause to start that investigation. If he didn't have anything concrete, then he's at least guilty of wasting the state's resources.

Re:Good (0)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421880)

Is the Virginia Attorney General qualified to do that investigation?

I don't know about the Virginia Attorney General specifically, but typically, yes, it's their (Attorney General's) duty to oversee investigations. They might not participate in them directly, but they can cause them to happen as well as the actual prosecutions. Think of the AT as more like a front man for the entire justice department and all the offices authorized under it.

A public officer needs to have some basis for any investigation he starts. Unless he has the proper scientific qualifications, or has received reliable information from an expert in the field, anything he does is nothing but political pressure.

Why would you think that? If scientist A got a grant to study process Y, and it was found that process Y was fakes by Scientist B while Scientist A knew all along, science doesn't even come into play on the fraud charge associated with obtaining and misusing the grant. There are plenty of avenues that do not even come close to needing any expertise in science or any field in general in which an investigation can be initiates.

Unless something is found, it's the Virginia Attorney General who must prove he had cause to start that investigation. If he didn't have anything concrete, then he's at least guilty of wasting the state's resources.

Well yea, but as I said, you have no idea right now as nothing has been able to be looked into yet. If is somewhat of a powerful word here but something you should remember is that it's reliant upon and action yet to happen.

BTW, you can have cause to investigate something without anything ever being found to support the idea a law was broken. This happens every day, you just need to have cause (which is different from evidence). Suppose you are packing your car full of luggage one night while getting prepared to go on vacation the next day. Now suppose I saw you doing that and called the law saying that someone is stealing all your shit. When the cops show up, they will investigate what you are doing, they will probably also find that you broke no laws, would you call that a waist of tax payer money? *even if the reason I called the law was because I got confused to what block I was on and thought the house belonged to someone else- who was already out of town on vacation?

US Constitution Fourth Amendment (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33422016)

you can have cause to investigate something without anything ever being found to support the idea a law was broken

No.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Unless there's a reasonable cause to suspect a law has been broken, and unless that cause is proved by oath (meaning that if the oath is false whoever made it is guilty of perjury) no investigation at all can be initiated by any government agent.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33422130)

When any investigation is started by a public officer he should have a reasonable reason for suspicion. There's ample precedent for that, confirmed all the way to the Supreme Court.

A typical example is drug related offenses, many people have been released after being caught with drugs, just because they were black and the police officer didn't have any other reason to check them out.

In this case, unless the Virginia AG had some reason to suspect the scientist of fraud, the AG is in serious trouble.

Like in the drug cases I mentioned above, the scientist may even have committed fraud, the AG couldn't have initiated an investigation without a valid reason.

BTW, in the hypothetical example you mention, you call the police because you saw someone packing a car full of luggage, you could be sued for libel and defamation. Don't try that unless you have a good reason. Saying "oops, my mistake" won't get you free from an expensive court suit.

Re:Good (3, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421994)

"until something is found or nothing is found."

As you are well aware, Mann has been repeatedly investigated by political hacks and repeatedly cleared. This is just another politically motivated fishing expedition amoungst the constant stream of FOI requests, death threats, and political investigations he and his team are subjected to on a daily basis.

We've talked before and I have a fair idea of your political views, I strongly suspect that if it was not about climate change you would be screaming about government oppression and Mann's right to be left alone.

Re:Good (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33422200)

Oh, it is politicians bloviating. This guy is a right wing nut. Since he took office less than a year ago, he has issued opinions prohibiting universities from considering sexual orientation as a basis for discrimination and requiring clinics providing abortion services to meet unreasonable hospital -like regulations.

It was Fraud (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33421508)

If the government, any member of it even, requires a subpoena to attain research documents from a government funded study - there was fraud.

Re:Good (-1, Troll)

The AtomicPunk (450829) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421736)

... and apparently you have no qualms about the possibility that someone wasted even more government money. Then again, that seems to be par for the course in the global warming religion. :)

Re:Good (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#33422236)

What people still have not realized after hundreds of year is just because an authority figure forces other to say something is true doesn't mean it is true. The church torturing Galileo did not make the earth the center of the universe. The church torturing and burning Servetus did not change the function of the heart from pumping blood to regulating it's tides. If the indiana Pi bill had passed, the value would sill be 3.14...

No matter how many people are killed, no matter how much legislation is enacted, no matter how many judges say thing like 'separate but equal', reality is still reality. I think this is why some of us are much more willing to let the chips fall where they may. Instead of imposing our will on others, in effect playing god, we are willing to let the objectives observation take us where the universe wants us to go.

Way to ruin somebody's career. (2, Funny)

kenaaker (774785) | more than 3 years ago | (#33420936)

OH NO, what shall he do now.
Attacking climate change was his stepping stone to national prominence...
His life is ruined, ruined I tell you.

Re:Way to ruin somebody's career. (5, Funny)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421354)

Maybe he can sue reality for not conforming to his imagination

Re:Way to ruin somebody's career. (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421830)

I'm told he's planning to launch that law suit immediately after the conclusion of his investigation into Virginia scientists promoting a controversial theory that the earth is round.

Politics And Science Don't Mix (5, Interesting)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#33420940)

Cuccinelli is trying to use professor Mann as a political piñata to further his career. I'd shit in my hat if I thought for one second Cuccinelli gave a rat's ass about science (except for how science affects the teaching of evolution in schools).

If a climatologist is the biggest fish on Cuccinelli's radar then he needs to take a closer look at local problems that directly affect his constituents. I'm not saying global warming wouldn't directly affect his constituents ... just that trying to silence a scientist just because he doesn't agree with his findings shouldn't be a top priority for politicians (such as those in Cuccinelli's position).

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421020)

Yeah, I'm weary of AGW paranoia, but Cuccinelli is a clown.

It's odd that Mann shifted from one coal state to another. The fool.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33421040)

A) The cat's already out of the bag, so it's sort of silly to think this is an effort to silence Mr. Mann.
B) It is interesting (and very bigoted of you) to assume anyone who is a AGW skptic is anti-science and pro-intelligent design. You should be on TV. That leap in logic would get you over the Grand Canyon.

Causation and Correlation (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421170)

It is interesting (and very bigoted of you) to assume anyone who is a AGW skeptic is anti-science and pro-intelligent design

Well, an argument often seen here on Slashdot is that "correlation does not imply causation".

However, correlation is a good argument for further studies on causation. And there's a very strong correlation between being a global warming skeptic and having a strong anti-science and pro-creationist stance.

Re:Causation and Correlation (1)

Tacticus.v1 (1102137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421240)

You also have to take into account his homophobic bigotry

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (1, Insightful)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421242)

Well stereotypes have survival value and when you consider that 99.99% of research and 100% of reputable research supports the conclusion that mans efforts at living the good life have effected the climate in such a way that polar ice caps are melting, storms are getting stronger and weather patterns changing. It will be funny to see Cuccinelli trying to get votes from those portions of Virginia like Hampton and Norfolk are as under sea level as New Orleans. Speaking of which they had better build those leevies higher down there.

There is no dispute certainly that there is global warming. The only dispute might be what percentage is due to man's activity. So arguing about who put the hole in the boat while your sinking seems to be counter productive. In this case it effects business, like who needs to add the cost to the planet for their business practices, or who might get sued over their business practices. So he might not be anti science, just pro-"Take the money and run"

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421624)

Wow.. 99.99% of all research and 100% of all reputable research, that's amazing. Where can I find out more about these outrageously large or inflated values? Are you sure you aren't just suffering from selection bias or something? Perhaps the old saying that goes something like 80% of all percentages are made up on the spot?

So arguing about who put the hole in the boat while your sinking seems to be counter productive.

Ahh,, I get it now, you simply do not understand the argument. It's not about who put the hole in the boat, it's about where the whole is, how it was created which indicates a little about how can be plugged or if it even needs to be plugged, and if we are actually sinking or just taking on water. And no, just because you are standing in water doesn't mean you are taking on water in a boat. It could be water from the fresh water source or the piss running down you leg from being scared.

In my speed boat, there is a plug at the very back of it that allows water to completely drain from it. There is also a bilge pump installed in two separate locations. This means that yes, the boat is designed to take on water and deal with it. But as long as you deal with it, you are not sinking. So the question becomes do you turn on one pump? Which one? Both pumps? Or neither pump and just open the drain plug while going full throttle. Or do you do nothing until it gets worse and the answer to those questions become more obvious.

And of course, I have used all 5 of those answers at some point in time. If AGW and Global warming was as simple as you attempt to make it, it would be obvious to everyone, not just the believers.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (1, Interesting)

Doomdark (136619) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421726)

Ahh,, I get it now, you simply do not understand the argument. It's not about who put the hole in the boat, it's about where the whole is, how it was created which indicates a little about how can be plugged or if it even needs to be plugged, and if we are actually sinking or just taking on water. And no, just because you are standing in water doesn't mean you are taking on water in a boat. It could be water from the fresh water source or the piss running down you leg from being scared.

It could also be that despite all observations, measurements and calculations, earth could still be flat, and no more than 5000 years old.

But it still makes more sense to base one's actions on more commonly held estimates for shape and age of said planet. And specifically regarding global warming, actions taken to reduce human co2 output are also good more generally since other local and global pollutants are reduced nicely by most actions. Burning non-renewable fossil fuels is also beneficial outside context of co2 emissions.

Still, the most important thing that is missing from "non-believers" (quotes, because I don't consider this a matter of faith or beliefs as much as many others do) is just that there is lack of credible alternate theories. This is suspiciously similar to stances of creationists: the main focus is no denying the main credible scientific theory, pointing at found or alleged holes, instead of trying to come up with better explanation for observations. This is done at multiple levels, from arguing against existence of observe trends to arguing about whose fault is it anyway. And it also aligns with current conservative political views, which are focused likewise on "just say no" way of argumentation. This is why it is very tempting to lump all said groups into one basket.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (2, Insightful)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#33422064)

So why are so many people saying that the boat is not taking on any water, or saying that until it's proven that it's taking on water we should take no action about it, or even if the boat is taking on water there's nothing we can do about it anyway? Why not take the safe cource of action and turn on a pump, any one? If it's later determined that it wasn't sufficient or that it was more than necessary, at least we took action.

Can you come up with a rational argument for not reducing carbon dioxide emissions?

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (4, Informative)

the gnat (153162) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421262)

It is interesting (and very bigoted of you) to assume anyone who is a AGW skptic is anti-science and pro-intelligent design.

I realize that this isn't universally true, but I've noticed a large overlap - specifically, the vast majority of creationists appear to be "AGW skeptics", and they are certainly anti-science, and very militant about it. When I see the cretins from the Discovery Institute reading from the same script as the anti-AGW crowd, I'm naturally suspicious of the latter. This may seem unfair to you, but it's no more unfair than accusing climate scientists of wanting to force society back to a pre-industrial state.

Which brings up a more accurate point: while the "skeptics" may not all be anti-science, they definitely come across as anti-scientist.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (3, Funny)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421414)

They're no more anti-scientist than the conservatives who are skeptical of the theory of relativity [conservapedia.com] . Oh, I see. I guess you do have a point. I wonder what they'll be "skeptical" of next...

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421960)

Wow, that list is bad. I mean, painfully, horribly bad.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 3 years ago | (#33422154)

#28 In Genesis 1:6-8, we are told that one of God's first creations was a firmament in the heavens. This likely refers to the creation of the luminiferous aether.

Check, and Mate.

As an aside, I love how there is a link to 'Counterexamples of the Bible' which only goes on to state: "There are no counterexample to the Bible." Fucking brilliant.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421638)

Which brings up a more accurate point: while the "skeptics" may not all be anti-science, they definitely come across as anti-scientist.

Which is worse, saying we should believe everything scientists say, or being anti-scientist? Maybe neither, but there's definitely blind faith on both sides in this debate.

Also, good that the judge knocked the AG down.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (1)

the gnat (153162) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421816)

Which is worse, saying we should believe everything scientists say, or being anti-scientist?

Both are a bad idea, and as a scientist myself, I've learned to keep my BS detector set to "11". But when faced with a choice between believing actual scientists versus the propagandists at the Discovery Institute, I'll side with the scientists every time.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (3, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421878)

Then listen to this one [wsj.com] . It isn't like the science is settled (of course, some of it is). As he says,

The notion that complex climate "catastrophes" are simply a matter of the response of a single number, GATA, to a single forcing, CO2 (or solar forcing for that matter), represents a gigantic step backward in the science of climate. Many disasters associated with warming are simply normal occurrences whose existence is falsely claimed to be evidence of warming. And all these examples involve phenomena that are dependent on the confluence of many factors.

You don't have to present a false choice between the Discovery Institute and 'scientists.'

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (2, Insightful)

Doomdark (136619) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421826)

I don't think many claim people should believe everything scientists say. It would be silly, too, since unlike various movements, scientists as a group do not really have much of coherent message -- not more than a herd of cats.

But even when considering specific domain (like climate science), I disagree in that there is equivalence between trusting scientific community's consensus and discrediting it completely: positions are rather asymmetric. Especially when latter is not done by specific argumentation against consensus by presenting credible alternative theories; or providing reasons as to why such expertise should be discarded. Mostly arguments are along lines of "but you can't prove any of it!" or "it ain't necessarily so". It is ok to be sceptical, but over time one should produce some actual counter-proposals. "Beyond reasonable doubt" is necessary for court of law because of significant losses that convicting innocent people causes; but it is not the level that is needed for engineering efforts and society-level planning of environmental issues.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (2, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33422124)

Counter-proposals like what? That the receding sea ice is caused in large part by reduced cloud coverage? Or that the glacier retreats on Kilimanjaro are caused by deforestation? Or that a difference of a degree probably isn't enough to discern any trend from anyway? Just because you haven't looked for alternate explanations doesn't mean they aren't there.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33421978)

It is the opposite. Here is the scientific method:

1. Characterization
2. Hypothesis (a theoretical, hypothetical explanation)
3. Prediction (logical deduction from the hypothesis)
4. Experiment (test of all of the above)
5. Conclusion (an objective conclusion based on #4)

There is no "hide the decline" nor "boycott journals publishing the opposing view" nor "delete data requested through Freedom of Information Act" in the scientific method. In fact, the AGW theory failed at number 3. 1998 was the hottest year despite the rising population and therefore, the increase of the greenhouse gases. CO2 is a greenhouse gas - that's proven scientifically, but that does not mean it is the sole factor in the climate systems.

Pro-science people should want to look at this objectively. We would want to be able to see the data, recreate the experiments, reaffirm or disprove the theory based on facts without political slandering. The fact that the proponents deleted the data to avoid FoIA request said a lot about the quality of the research and should put a doubt to the outcome and anything built over this suspect foundation is suspect as well. Not to mention the fact that the Mann-made hockey stick graph has been proven to be made up by Mann over and over.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33421268)

The term "AGW skeptic" is a misnomer. Skepticism in the typical scientific or philosophical sense is about asking for evidence for claims. The problem with "AGW skeptics" is that evidence for AGW is plentiful and evidence against it is scant. Someone who refuses to accept evidence presented, no matter how scientifically sound the evidence is, is not a skeptic. The more accurate term is "AGW denier".

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (2, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421494)

"deny" implies that there is no shadow of a question about the factuality AGW (or how significant it is), which is just not true-- hence why it is a theory. I would reserve the term denier for actual factual historical events, not theories which can never be more than theories.

If you dont understand or agree, it may be helpful to recall what the difference between historical fact and scientific theory is, and whether theories can ever be exhaustively proven.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421562)

You may want to read [amazon.com] a bit [wikipedia.org] about denialism [scienceblogs.com] so you can recognize [conservapedia.com] it when you see it.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (4, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421598)

No, to deny merely means to refuse to accept the claim regardless of what evidence has been put forward. The word makes not assumptions as to whether the claim is true or untrue. It's possible to disagree with AGW without being a denier, but such a person would be open to the possibility of it being accurate.

These people are certainly deniers. Their counter-claims have little validity (most have none and many are outright fabrications) and most of their arguments lately have been ad hominem attacks on the researchers. So far, I have yet to see one of them acknowledge the strength of the data or admit to having made a mistake when they were shown to be wrong. They're deniers, pure and simple.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33421630)

It would be helpful to understand the difference between historical fact and scientific theory is before telling others to "recall" it. There's a reason why scientists will refer to "the theory of gravity", and it's not because gravity is not factual. Theories in science are things which attempt to explain historical facts and events. The theory component of AGW refers to how the process works. The factual component refers to whether the process exists at all.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421944)

To be fair, "historical facts" is a term generally reserved for human events that have been recorded in writing. In science, you typically call them "observations". A good set of terms is that the mathematics based on your observations that is supposed to predict future observations is a model or, if it's successful, a law. The explanation of why your model works and how that fits in to the rest of known science is a theory.

Which means for any reasonably complicated field that can be cast under one umbrella, "theory" is the word that will be applied to it, like "theory of gravity" or "theory of relativity" or "electromagnetic theory". It's a collection of models and some thoughts as to how it is they're all connected.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421954)

As a fellow skeptic, I have to ask you not to throw around words like "theory" so casually. Theory is actually pretty far along on the scientific spectrum of truthiness. If something gets to "theory," it's had a lot of work backing it up, which has held up to a good deal of scrutiny.

Dismissing something as "just a theory" just makes you look foolish to those who know just what a theory is.

And anyway, it gets in the way of the real goal, which is to keep government from trumping up GW and AGW to usurp more power and force huge lifestyle changes that won't even accomplish the goal of reducing the the thing they're ostensibly trying to prevent (Just because you're suffering, doesn't mean you're necessarily using less energy...), and due to all the hype, casting doubt on any real evidence that is collected.

If it weren't for the power-grab, there wouldn't be so much emotion getting in the way of evaluating what the researchers are really saying, right?

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (2, Insightful)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421574)

I'm not for or against global warming, I just don't care. It's just a change, which has happened any number of times in (pre)history. Some land will become less useful to humans, some will become more useful; some species which can't adapt will die off, others will thrive. If burning fossil fuels is a cause, well, we're almost out of those anyway. Methane from cow farts?, beef can't sustain a growing global population anyway.

I hate that some people have turned it into a virtually religious issue, and intentionally refuse to consider that the possibility that it might not be happening, it probably is occuring, but to attach labels like 'deniers' (I have to think this is an attept to emotionally link it to the jewish holocaust, but I might be wrong.) and to attack the speaker of the idea, instead of the idea itself is just wrong. That AG is wrong to use his position to attack the scientist; and it's also wrong to label someone who dosn't think global warming is happening as a troll, idiot, or worse.

Talking about the weather used to be 'safe', but now it's infused with conspiracy nuts, scientific cranks, and irrational believers, ON BOTH SIDES.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (2, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421804)

to attack the speaker of the idea, instead of the idea itself is just wrong.

It's just turnabout. Every time you talk with a denier, sooner or later they will accuse scientists of either deliberate deception for personal gain, or abject stupidity. I have never, not once, met one whose argument did not fundamentally rest on one of those two options.

When faced with such an argument, no amount of rational persuasion is going to be effective. When faced with somebody prone to consider such an argument, showing them papers and math is never going to be effective. It has passed out of the bounds of science, and into rhetoric.

That's unfortunate. And for rational, coherent, genuinely skeptical people, you don't have to go there; it's a matter of science. For everybody else, it's a matter of politics, which scientists are well advised to stay away from, except that they too have to live with the results.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421808)

If we're running out of fossil fuels, doesn't it make sense to start reducing our reliance on fossil fuels by improving energy efficiency and developing alternative energy sources?

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (2, Informative)

budgenator (254554) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421988)

The Annals of Applied Statistics is publishing a paper, A STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF MULTIPLE TEMPERATURE PROXIES: ARE RECONSTRUCTIONS OF SURFACE TEMPERATURES OVER THE LAST 1000 YEARS RELIABLE? [e-publications.org] (McShane and Wyner 2010) that says things like.
"On the one hand, we conclude unequivocally that the evidence for a ”long-handled” hockey stick (where the shaft of the hockey stick extends to the year 1000 AD) is lacking in the data. "
"Consequently, the long flat handle of the hockey stick is best understood to be a feature of regression and less a reflection of our knowledge of the truth."
"Climate scientists have greatly underestimated the uncertainty of proxy based reconstructions and hence have been overconfident in their models. "
"The real proxies are less predictive than our ”fake” data. "
which to me sounds about as close to call Mann a baldfaced liar as your going to hear in a professional journal. The gauntlet has slapped Mann in the face, his response will be interesting.

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (1)

GHennessy (614486) | more than 3 years ago | (#33422062)

which to me sounds about as close to call Mann a baldfaced liar as your going to hear in a professional journal Why do you think paper B saying they get different error estimates than in paper A means the author of paper A is a bald faced liar?

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (1)

machine321 (458769) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421312)

I'd shit in my hat

Please don't do that, this thing already fails the smell test.

Are these researchers gay or something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33420964)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/05/AR2010030501582.html

Seriously, Cuccinelli is a total asshole.

not misleading (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33420972)

Michael Mann published a graph which suddenly stops reporting data for a trend line that runs counter to his conclusion.

If you have every used Excel to create a graph, it's obvious that either A) you are missing a bunch of data (nearly criminal oversight for a scientist) for the missing trend line, or B) You deliberately removed the data line

Q: How can one carefully read on this and conclude there is no evidence?
A: You arrived at a predetermined conclusion (probably based on political affiliation)!

Naturally, I expect this to be modded to oblivion by people with the same affiliation.

Re:not misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33420994)

Naturally, I expect this to be modded to oblivion by people with the same affiliation.

Naturally. Just as you mod people down that don't agree with you. In this very thread!

Cuccinelli is a partisan hack (5, Informative)

Goonie (8651) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421018)

It appears that Ken Cuccinelli is a partisan hack who's using his position as Attorney-General primarily to advance right-wing interests, and thus further his own political ambitions.

Last week he was going after abortion clinics [theatlantic.com] .

This week it's Michael Mann.

Re:Cuccinelli is a partisan hack (1)

Robyrt (1305217) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421094)

The Albermarle County Circuit Court is not exactly a hotbed of left-wing activity. This judge isn't striking a righteous blow against Cuccinelli, he's doing his job.

Re:Cuccinelli is a partisan hack (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421942)

Maybe a contempt citation would convince Cuccinelli to do his.

Re:Cuccinelli is a partisan hack (1)

machine321 (458769) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421328)

Next week, Straw Mann.

Re:Cuccinelli is a partisan hack (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33421578)

The really scary part? In Virginia, the Attorney General usually has the inside track for his party's nomination for governor in the next election.

Re:Cuccinelli is a partisan hack (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 3 years ago | (#33422100)

> This week it's Michael Mann.

Guess there is more then one Burning Man ... :-)

If you're bothered by skepticism, it ain't science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33421022)

If the word "skeptic" is supposed to be pejorative, the subject must be religion and not science.

Re:If you're bothered by skepticism, it ain't scie (2, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421216)

True. But most self-proclaimed climate change skeptics are simply denialists.

Re:If you're bothered by skepticism, it ain't scie (0)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421282)

If you deny an alternate explanation for climate fluctuations in the 20th century is possible, what does that make you?

Re:If you're bothered by skepticism, it ain't scie (1)

DamienRBlack (1165691) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421412)

A skeptic. At least until your alternate explanation is even remotely plausible.

Re:If you're bothered by skepticism, it ain't scie (1)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421996)

So "natural variation", explaining as it does all climate fluctuations for the entire history of the planet, is not in your view remotely plausible? I find that view quite astounding.

Re:If you're bothered by skepticism, it ain't scie (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421474)

I don't see anyone denying that an alternative explanation is possible. Climatologists make the statement that the observed warming is most likely due to increased concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere [norvig.com] . In that statement is the very admission of an alternative explanation, otherwise they would say that they are 100% sure that the warming is due mostly to increased greenhouse gasses. If you have some evidence that something else is causing most of the warming, please don't keep it a secret!

Re:If you're bothered by skepticism, it ain't scie (1)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 3 years ago | (#33422030)

If you have some evidence that something else is causing most of the warming, please don't keep it a secret!

This is the God of the Gaps argument in scientific terms. Is there a satisfactory explanation for the medieval warm period, or the Roman Optimum? If not, does that mean it was AGW? It seems to me that for you any explanation, no-matter how implausible, is better than saying "we don't know".

skeptic != denialist (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421516)

If the word "skeptic" is supposed to be pejorative, the subject must be religion and not science.

Let's see what does "skeptic" mean:

- someone who habitually doubts accepted beliefs
- someone who demands physical evidence in order to be convinced (especially when this demand is out of place)

Okay, "skeptic" shouldn't be pejorative.

Now let's see who are the true skeptics. It's a well known fact (accepted even by skeptics who took the effort to do the experiments) that CO2 absorbs infrared radiation. Therefore, physical evidence is there.

If you doubt it, you can do the experiment in your kitchen table: get two clear plastic bottles and two calibrated thermometers. Use some vinegar and baking soda to generate CO2 in one of the bottles, let the other be filled only by pure air. Seal the bottles, put them in sunshine, watch the temperatures in both.

Now, if a group of people accept the belief that an increased CO2 content in the atmosphere does not cause global warming, the true skeptic will doubt that. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.

Re:If you're bothered by skepticism, it ain't scie (3, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421530)

I knew a guy in college who was a gravity skeptic. We were discussing the repeatable nature of science, and he said, "No, just because it's repeatable doesn't mean it's predictable." I slapped the giant pile of books and notebooks out of his hand. "See? Gravity works."

He shot back, "Just because you're pointing to one instance..."

Skepticism ends at some point. Skepticism ends when you get answers like, "The reason why WTC7 went down was because of damage from a large chunk of another building hitting it" or "All the evidence points to global warming" or "Obama was born in Hawaii and is currently a Christian." Skepticism doesn't continue after getting answers you don't like. That's paranoia and delusional thinking.

it's politicized, what did you expect? (-1, Troll)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421058)

The judge knows full well, if he authorizes a fishing expedition against Michael Mann, he'll have the wrath of the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, et al., directed against him, with the full complicity of the current administration, especially after they worked so hard to ignore the story, or bury it as deep as possible. After all, we can't allow facts to interfere with such a ripe target for government intervention, can we? Never mind so many other such expeditions which were cheered by the Fifth Column journos, when their enemies were the ones being investigated.

Re:it's politicized, what did you expect? (2, Insightful)

DamienRBlack (1165691) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421288)

The judge ruled that Cuccinelli's subpoena didn't include sufficient reason to suspect fraud. Cuccinelli is allowed to rewrite his subpoena if he wants to. Quit seeing liberal conspiracy where there is only conservative stupidity.

Politics aside (2, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421074)

Why should a public funded university not have to respond to such requests? Why, if I were to file a FOIA request for the same data would it be denied? My tax money has paid for it, I have every right as I do to FOIA the video tapes of a traffic stop.

As such a website that so often cries for "free information" - it is amusing to see "zomg good!" due to the motivations behind the request and why it was denied.

Re:Politics aside (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421606)

Occasionally there are legal reasons why *some* research records can't be released, particularly those containing subject information in human subject experiments. That's not likely to be the case there.

For other kinds of information, it can be an issue if people outside of broad academia try to jump in and play politics with the conduct of research - we already have peer review for that, done by people with a solid understanding of statistics and the standards of the field. We don't want our research popularised and then misrepresented by loud and uninformed people - perfectly reasonable studies, conducted and analysed well that would easily pass peer review could easily have some very stupid criticisms attached to them by showmen who cliaim to understand them, and people would be none the wiser.

Openness is great in principle, but the actual conduct and analysis of the studies belongs to the academes worldwide who understand it, not the common people. Voting, pundits, and public debate have no place and are not welcome in the discussion. It is our community - academia, that has driven knowledge.

Re:Politics aside (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33422032)

and as we all know, Mr. Mann refused to provide any actual climate data and advised some to destroy data.
The only way you get a M. Mann hockey stick is to falsify data, or truncate it so severely time wise it is statistically irrelevant. Politically motivated, why yes. Is the entire AGW fad political, why yes. Are there f#@cking HUGE taxes pending legislation BASED on this research, why yes. Do we all deserve to go broke trying to fix something we dont even really know if we can affect? FUNK NO.

Re:Politics aside (2, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33422082)

Our long term survival and health as a species is far more important than your petty complaints over taxes. To whatever extent we can steer this, we must.

Re:Politics aside (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33422146)

Openess is great until someone suggests that *I* might not get all of *MY* research funding. This is *MY* ivory tower. How dare you peons sugggest that *MY* ivory tower be imperfect.

Re:Politics aside (5, Interesting)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421616)

RTFA, it was not a FOIA request. That may have in fact been much more successful. It was a subpoena request for information based on trumped up(invalid) fraud charges. However a FOIA request would have been much less politically advantageous if it went through, which is all that this whole thing was really about, he wasn't looking for evidence he was looking to be able to smear the guys name with the fact that there may have been enough evidence against him to even start a full scale legally backed investigation.

You should be thanking this judge for setting this idiot in his place and not allowing him to abuse the legal system and your tax dollars purely for his own political gain.

It is also still left open for the guy to back up his trumped up fraud charges a little better and resubmit the subpoena request.

Sorry if I'm less than sympathetic towards the guy but his entire career reeks of abuse of power to push nonsensical politically advantageous policies while largely ignoring bigger problems. Global warming and its existence isn't even on my top TEN list of things for politicians to be worrying about.

Re:Politics aside (1)

p_trekkie (597206) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421840)

You mean this data?

Mann 1998/9 [psu.edu]

On the other hand, if you meant every email Mann sent in the past 10 years, go jump in a lake. We don't even get president's personal correspondence and notes until after they die! Why should it be any different for scientists?

Re:Politics aside (2, Informative)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421906)

State Freedom of Information Acts tend to be a lot less broad than the federal one (which only applies to the federal executive branch). Using Michigan as an example, you cannot request all documents relating to a given subject. You have to identify what documents you want, and be specific. In that regard, I highly doubt that you could say "I want all of the email sent by this professor to any of these 40 other people, for the last 5 years". That's absurdly broad. You probably could request all of the documents used to support a research grant application. But, that was to the state. I would think that therefore, the state would already have those documents, so requesting then seems more like harassment. (Unless you can get away with citing but not submitting papers with your grant? That would be weird to allow in the first place...) They also request a list of all documents that have been destroyed, and documents verifying the legitimate reason for their destruction. That one is almost insulting. It's like asking somebody to please list the times they have beaten their wife, and their reasoning for those beatings. Sounds pretty accusatory.

Re:Politics aside (1)

GHennessy (614486) | more than 3 years ago | (#33422044)

Filing a FOIA request does not get you the private emails or private computer programs of the faculty and staff of UVa.

Re:Politics aside (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33422198)

Cuccinelli wanted not just Mann's data but all his email and correspondence. Everything the university could find on it's servers or backups. Is that FOIA material?

Expect more of this sort of inquisition if republicans retake the house and get the power of subpoena. They have charges lined up and are writing the most absurd things as we speak. They are certain a crime has been committed against them and just need to dig for the evidence to prove it. Let Virginia with it's republican sweep be a warning of where politics are going.

Don't like either side (0, Offtopic)

jvillain (546827) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421086)

I don't care for politicians on political witch hunts. The resources of the state are virtually infinite and it is easy to get to the wrong answer by brute forcing a case. But I also don't like the fact that every time there is the slightest bit of good news on the warmist side it appears instantly on every forum and news site on the planet. But if I post any thing contrary I get modded down to -5 in seconds. That kind of abuse of the system is just as bad. This was a far bigger story today and not a peep about it. Link [nytimes.com]

Re:Don't like either side (2, Informative)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421314)

A far bigger story? How? A review panel finds that the UN's climate panel could be doing a better job but "...the way the United Nations panel goes about its work has 'been successful overall.'" That's big news?

Re:Politics And Science Don't Mix (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33421096)

The reality is that Michael Mann's data was put through a linear transformation and then a principal components analysis that resulted in a very convoluted fabrication of the global warming effect, but a fabrication nonetheless. If there was someone using political means to further their career it was Mann, not this Cuccinelli guy. The result was that if you put any red noise through Mann's filters you get identical data. Basically it is all a con, and I only expect the seasoned, educated readers of Slashdot to understand the implications of the fact that any red noise could recreate the warming trends. Moreover, the entire case for global warming (now modified to the ever more scary "climate change") is a distraction so that politicians and those people who are connected can install and profit from a carbon credit scheme. Wholly ignored in the climate change idiocy are the real environmental problems of pollution, habitat destruction and the planned de-industrialization of our country. In fact, blathering about climate change and CO2 (which is plant food) simply empowers the oligopolies to pollute at will. Please wake up.

Who's your crack dealer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33421334)

Dude, that stuff you've been smoking is AWESOME!

Michael Mann's data was put through a linear transformation and then a principal components analysis

Which linear transformation was that?

If it was put through a PCA then it has undergone a dimensionality reduction, which means the irrelevant parameters were sorted out and the true cause of global warming was found. I think that's pretty good.

The result was that if you put any red noise through Mann's filters you get identical data

Huh? You mean any data set that has 6 dB/octave noise will prove global warming? I don't think so. I have never seen any global warming in the inter-channel noise in my FM radio.

I only expect the seasoned, educated readers of Slashdot to understand the implications of the fact that any red noise could recreate the warming trends

Excuse me, but if you check my /. ID you'll notice I've been here since the last century. I hope I'm seasoned enough for you. Also, having been an Electronics Engineer since 1979 (both seasoned and educated), I fail to see any way to recreate warming trends by adding brownian noise to any data set.

What I know from my technical education is that CO2 does absorb infrared radiation, therefore atmospheric warming is an expected effect of burning fossil fuels. The burden of proof definitely falls on anyone who claims the contrary.

Before asking for the raw data that proves global warming, I ask for both the raw data and analysis of those who are skeptic about AGW. As Carl Sagan once said, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.

Re:Who's your crack dealer? (1, Informative)

Kernel Kurtz (182424) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421520)

As Carl Sagan once said, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.

Yes. And when neither side has any, then what?

Re:Who's your crack dealer? (2, Insightful)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421602)

Re:Who's your crack dealer? (1, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#33422084)

Ok, but then you have to propose things that actually will reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Banning nuclear power, and even LNG terminals really doesn't accomplish that goal.

Hint, natural gas comes off the top of oil wells. If the oil companies don't capture it and sell it, then they burn it off, and the extra reliance on coal burning because of it doesn't help things any, either.

Neither does Ethanol fuel help anyone but corn farmers.

Similarly "Carbon Offsets" mostly don't.

There is a raft of schemes and scams and wishful dreams out there that people are screaming, "We have to do something, and this is something, therefore we have to do this," that will ruin us if we fall for them.

Re:Who's your crack dealer? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33421848)

As Carl Sagan once said, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.

Yes. And when neither side has any, then what?

Which is not the case here. There's ample, extraordinary, proof that CO2 absorbs infrared radiation. It's an elementary physics lab experiment that any college student in physics, chemistry, or a number of related subjects has performed. There's absolutely no evidence to the contrary.

If you claim that an increased amount of CO2 in the atmosphere does not cause global warming, then the burden of proof is on you alone.

Cucinelli should be charged (3, Interesting)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#33421172)

He's abusing taxpayer money to fuel this religious right-wing witch hunt.

Why fight it if you're innocent? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33421650)

As a professor who has supplied documents on many open records request. If you've done nothing wrong, why fight it? I have never quibbled over giving documents or emails. I've given CD's with years of emails to fulfill requests. If y0u work for a state institution or on a government grant, they are public documents. The only thing I would fight would be FERPA protected data.

Re:Why fight it if you're innocent? (4, Interesting)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#33422080)

There are a couple reasons not to. This wasn't an open records request. This was a subpoena. When that happens the University lawyers get involved and their first instinct is to not comply. It's usually a good instinct, because someone serving a subpoena has an agenda which is probably against the interests of the University. Second, the professor in question is no longer at the University that was subpoenaed. It's likely, if not certain that he took is research records with him. The University of Virginia probably only has accounting records for the grant in question, and (probably) backups of emails. Penn State, on the other hand, doesn't have much to fear from a Virginia prosecutor with delusions of grandeur.

I don't have a problem with providing any information requested about my research, provided what is requested actually exists. But when it comes to my emails... show me the subpoena.

Re:Why fight it if you're innocent? (4, Insightful)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 3 years ago | (#33422102)

IANAL, but i strongly suspect that an "open records request" is very different from a subpoena as part of an accusation of fraud. I could certainly understand a professor being, er, open to one and hostile to the other. The attitude/method of the person asking can certainly make a difference in the response.

Transparency rules for thee but not for me (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33421762)

So transpanency rules except when it has to deal with global warming. Wikileaks is to be honored, yet research records concerning global warming should be protected from the public eye at all costs. Makes perfect sense. I can't stand right wingers, but the blatant liberal agenda is just as nausiating.

Hide the Decline (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33421828)

Hide the Decline.

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