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University Of Virginia: Attorney General’s Actions ‘Directly Threaten Academic Freedom’

The Executive Council of the Faculty Senate of the University of Virginia has now weighed in on Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s civil investigative demand, which sought a wide range of documents dealing with the work the climate scientist Michael Mann. Mann’s former colleagues write that the “unusual” request appears to be motivated by a difference of opinion with Mann’s findings and threatens academic freedom:

We maintain that peer review by the scientific community is the appropriate means by which to identify error in the generation, presentation and interpretation of scientific data. The Attorney General’s use of his power to issue a CID under the provisions of the Virginia [Fraud Against Taxpayers Act] is an inappropriate way to engage with the process of scientific inquiry.

His action and the potential threat of legal prosecution of scientific endeavor that has satisfied peer-review standards send a chilling message to scientists engaged in basic research involving Earth’s climate and indeed to scholars in any discipline. Such actions directly threaten academic freedom and, thus, our ability to generate the knowledge upon which informed public policy relies.

Read the whole statement, issued in the name of Faculty Senate Chair Ann B. Hamric, here