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August 20 2012

10:00

See No Evil, Speak Little Truth, Break Rules, Blame Others

The "Wegman Report", led by Edward Wegman of George Mason University (GMU) got criticized in 2010's Experts claim 2006 climate report plagiarized.  Experts called it "obvious" even "shocking" plagiarism.  GMU's incompetent handling, mistreatment of complainants and flawed rulings were mostly documented in March, but recent FOIAs expose more untruths.

Is the harsh title fair?  Read on, then study the 69-page attachment.

GMU Provost Peter Stearns' February letter to GMU faculty made claims of non-plagiarism that contradicted not only experts, but themselves.  The process consumed almost two years to assess four (4) pages of text.  

Stearns' letter was even more untruthful than previously known.  It  fabricated an imaginary second investigation committee, seemingly to somehow excuse crucial contradictions.   This seemed an attempt to defend the Wegman Report at all costs, even with potential problems from Federal agencies who expect schools to handle misconduct properly.  They fund much of GMU's actual research, done by faculty that to the best of my knowledge are normal, credible researchers.

However, a few groups in GMU are closely, even uniquely enmeshed with people behind the machinery of anti-science, such as Charles Koch, Ken Cuccinelli, David Schnare, Fred Singer, and Pat Michaels, plus the Heartland Institute and key Washington think tanks.  GMU even has a long history of tobacco connections, oddly relevant.

Following are a few brief summaries to motivate the title's phrases:

See No Evil: Via FOIA, the only investigation committee took 200 days to produce a 9-page report.  It ruled on Ray Bradley's three complaints based on Canadian blogger Deep Climate's early discoveries:

  • 2.5 pages of text mostly from Ray Bradley's book: paraphrasing, not plagiarism although serious plagiarism experts said otherwise long ago.
  • 5.5 pages of near-verbatim plagiarism of social networks text: never mentioned.
  • 1.5 page subset re-used in later paper: plagiarism, likely unavoidable, since the publisher had forced retraction in May 2011. This is an obvious contradiction.

But there was more, found by Deep Climate and others:

  • Another 70 pages of formally-reported plagiarism, 27 in WR alone, in 6 more articles, half Federally-funded, and four PhD dissertations: never mentioned.
  • Alleged falsification in the Wegman Report: never mentioned.

Speak Little truth: GMU VP Roger Stough rarely told complainants much and when he did, he was often wrong or misleading, now seen more clearly by FOIA replies.  Stearns' letter   fabricated committee(s) and processes that never happened, casting doubt on the credibility of anything thereGMU never informed Ray Bradley of any result.  GMU acknowledged receipt of other complaints, which then seemed to vanish into limbo. Complainants got no status reports.

Break Rules: FOIA replies exposed large policy-breaking schedule slips, at best poorly explained, at worst misleading.  GMU ignored its policy of pursuing all significant issues -  Stearns said there were no more investigations.   GMU's seemed to maximize discouragement and stonewalling of external complaints, even from distinguished academics like Ray Bradley or Ohio State's Rob Coleman, an experienced misconduct expert.  One can imagine GMU's handling of internal complaints, especially from junior faculty of students.

Blame Others:   GMU violated its "retaliation" policies by making false or misleading claims about Bradley, impugning his reputation and helping incite vitriolic blog attacks against him.   Universities are supposed to guard complainants from retaliation, repair it if need be, not do it themselves.  GMU owes Bradley many apologies.

Why would they do this? FOIAs have revealed actions far outside GMU's own policies, the norms of academe and possibly Federal rules.  Big universities are expected to know how to follow misconduct policies, so mere incompetence seems an insufficient explanation, especially with experienced administrators who should know better.

We cannot know exactly what happened, but GMU has some unusual connections that might help explain this.  No explicit pressure need be assumed, but a few parts of GMU are deeply involved in climate anti-science activities, so it is no surprise that something like the Wegman Report was written almost entirely by GMU faculty and students.

Funding. Charles Koch is by far the largest single foundation funder for each of GMU Foundation, its Mercatus Center and Institute for Humane Studies (IHS).   His donations to these usually exceeded the research grants of most government agencies. His lieutenant Richard Fink cofounded Mercatus and is a  Director of it and IHS. Koch is a Director of Mercatus and Chairman of IHS

Money comes from other Koch allies, such as Richard Mellon Scaife, Searle Freedom Trust, Earhart Foundation, L&H Bradley and  DONORS Trust+Capital, the second largest foundation giver, which anonymizes the real givers' identities.  The recently-discovered Knowledge and Progress Fund seems to send Koch money only to DONORS.  It is a real money maze.

Governance. Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhauer is the Vice-Rector of the GMU Board of Visitors. She was a Koch Industries lobbyist and an executive of Americans For Prosperity.  The Board also includes Kimberly Dennis (Searle Freedom Trust, DONORS) and Mark McGettrick, Executive VP at Dominion Resources, a large utility that has donated well to the campaign of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, as has Koch Industries.

Lawyers. Ken Cuccinelli, his Deputy Wesley Russell and his ex-partner Milton Johns (Wegman's lawyer) all got their JD degrees at GMU in the 1990s.  So did David Schnare, of the American Tradition Institute (ATI), well-known for FOIA harassment of UVA, Michael Mann, James Hansen, Andrew Dessler and Katharine HayhoeFOIA has legitimate uses, but can also be employed for harassment.  The reader can decide which these are.

Schnare is also an Adjunct Professor who recently taught a GMU course on how to do FOIAs, use the Data Quality Act, using this outline.  it starts:

'This course is an introduction on how to sue the government when it does what it should not do. Citizens, advocates of small government and Tenth Amendment proponents engage in this kind of litigation practice to address the imbalance between federal authorities and state and individual sovereignties.'

He also offers "externships" to give students practice, via a new 501(c)(3) "public charity," originally (and legally still) the George Mason Environmental Law Clinic.  it is now called the Free Market ELC, consisting of him and Chris Horner, as at ATI.  He was looking for students to file FOIAs against some Virginia university, likely not GMU.

Conclusion. We cannot know whether the strange process and absurd rulings came from overt pressure or implicit GMU culture.  A few parts of GMU form a very large gear in the machinery of anti-science and they defended Wegman at all costs.

Public funding of research depends on credibility, of which little is found in GMU's handling of this case.  Maybe it is time for a first-ever institutional debarment from Federal funding until they rebuiild a track record of normal behavior.  Given the credibility problems of key people, this may require outside teams.

Finally, people might recall the potential felony issues raised here  and wonder if this process might add more obstruction of justice to the mix.  The old saying may apply: "It's not the crime - it's the cover-up."

Image Credit: andere andrea petrlik  / Shutterstock .

AttachmentSize see.no_.evil_.speak_.little.truth_.pdf3.05 MB

February 17 2012

04:23

It’s a bird; it’s a hockey stick; it’s a faked document!

 

Heartland response would be a useful PR tactic

The Climate Strategy that was emailed to the DeSmogBlog with a package of material from the Heartland Institute’s Jan. 17 Board of Directors meeting is serving as an excellent distraction from the legitimate issues raised in the other documents and reinforced by the excellent research paper by DeSmogBlog contributor John Mashey.

The DeSmogBlog has no evidence supporting Heartland's claim that the Strategic document is fake. A close review of the content shows that it is overwhelmingly accurate (“almost too accurate” for one analyst), and while critics have said that it is “too short” or is distinguished by “an overuse of commas,” even the skeptics at weatherguy Anthony Watts’s WUWT say that a technical analysis of the metadata on the documents in question does not offer sufficient information to come to a firm conclusion either way.

But in the tradition of the famous, and famously controversial “hockey stick graph,” the challenge to the single document has afforded the DeSmogBlog’s critics – and Heartland’s supporters – something comfortable to obsess about while they avoid answering questions raised by the other documents.

In the case of the hockey stick, people such as Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit have led a chorus of criticism for years, alleging that a supposed statistical flaw in Michael Mann’s excellent and prescient work should be sufficient justification to dismiss not only Mann’s original graph, but all of climate science. This, notwithstanding the fact that dozens of other climate reconstructions have validated Mann’s conclusions and replicated the hockey stick shape of his graph. Thus, the hockey stick has been a convenient weapon for those (like Joe Bast, President of the Heartland Institute) who would like to take people’s attention from the legitimate science of climate change.

Now, we have a case where Bast admits that some dope on his staff emailed Heartland's whole board package to a stranger. Yet rather than praising the opportunity that this provides for independent observers to judge the performance of a taxpayer-subsidized body (Heartland is a registered charity), as Bast did when someone stole the so-called ClimateGate emails from leading scientists such as Mike Mann, the Heartland boss has attacked the veracity of the Climate Strategy and used that to attempt to dismiss the legitimacy of the other material (Heartland Institute Responds to Stolen and Fake Documents).

The deniergang echo chamber has since jumped on that chorus, with sites like Marc Morano’s Climate Depot, Steve Milloy’s Junkscience, and Anthony Watts at WUWT all sputtering in outrage, even as Watts confirmed that, well, the information in the document pertaining to him was, but for a rounding error, almost too accurate.

The DeSmogBlog is committed to accuracy. Joe Bast says the document is a fake, a statement we take with a grain of salt given the Heartland Institute’s previous dissembling on the subject of climate change and its discredited position on teh safety of second hand smoke.  In the circumstances, if the Heartland Institute can offer any specific criticism of the Climate Strategy or any evidence that it was faked and not, actually, written on Joe Bast’s laptop, printed out and scanned, we would be pleased to consider that evidence.

In the meantime, how about everybody take a moment to look away from the shiny penny in the magician's left hand and concentrate instead on the 100+ pages of damning evidence falling out of his right sleeve.

 

read more

August 02 2011

21:26

NAS President Peter Wood: wrong, dishonest or hopelessly compromised?

New Mashey Report Disrobes Climate Disinformer

What would cause a senior anthropologist such as Peter Wood to stagger outside his field of expertise and launch a bitchy, personal and error-ridden attack on a climate scientist and his defender? Wrong-headedness? Ideological blindess? Great wads of Richard Mellon Scaife's cash? What?

Well, the question must be rhetorical, unless the President of the National Association of Scholars chooses to answer it himself. According to his fields of study, Wood is an "expert" in art, aesthetics, Catholocism and culture. He neither claims nor can demonstrate the tiniest academic mastery of atmospheric physics or any other aspect of climatology.

Yet he has used his launching pad as president of the NAS (suspiciously rendered with the same acronym as the National Academy of Sciences) and a podium at the Chronicle of Higher Education to try to dismiss both Michael Mann and John Mashey as huckster fellow travellers of P.T. Barnum.

As the attached report demonstrates, that was a mistake. Because Wood doesn't fare at all well when someone turns the investigatory camera on him. Wood has long had a tendency to question climate science or to laud whacky climate change deniers such as Christopher Monckton or Fred Singer, but his most recent outburst followed an excellent short feature of John Mashey by the journal Science. As Wood says, "Science reports that retired computer scientist Dr. John Mashey is attempting to patch the tattered reputation of 'hide the decline' Michael Mann, the climate scientist whose famous 'hockey stick' chart shows exponentially increasing global temperatures in the near term."

Beyond correctly identifying Mashey as a computer scientist, Wood appears to be wrong on all fronts. Far from being "tattered," Mike Mann's reputation has been hardened in the fires of hell. Despite a pitched attack on his character and scientific output going back nearly a decade, every inquiry appears to exonerate his personal behavior and reaffirm the quality of his science. I suspect Mann's work has been cited more in the last six months than Wood's has in his entire career.

Neither was it Mann who penned the famous (and famously misquoted) "hide the decline" line from the stolen East Anglia emails. And the important part of Mann's hockey-stick chart was not the exponential increase in global temperature: you can see that in any rendering of the actual instrumental record. The defining work in Mann's graph (and in every other climate reconstruction that has been done since) is the demonstration that, before humans started pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, we had enjoyed at least a thousand years of remarkable climate stability (constituting the shaft of the hockey stick that came before the exponential blade).

So Wood either doesn't understand any of this or doesn't want us to. And Mashey, a ferociously energetic researcher, has created a 34-page report pondering Wood's own frailties and setting forth some possible explanations of why the (less credible) NAS president could be so far off the rails.

There is, of course, ideology. Although the NAS declines to identify itself as a bastion of "conservative" thought, it seems to spend a surprising amount of time digging its nose into issues that are more of interest to its well-healed conservative funders than those that are centrally reflected in the organization's own mission statement. (I dare you to find much "reasoned scholarship" or "civil debate" in Wood's original salvo or in any of the back-and-forth commentary that followed.)

Mashey also points to the coincidence that the big donors to the (less credible) NAS are also suspiciously generous to organizations such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the George C. Marshall Institute - two of the most prominent climate science denying think tanks in the country. Now, it could be purest chance that all these organizations share a passion for spreading climate confusion.  Just as it could be possible that the devastating weather events that have marred America so far this year are entirely unrelated to climate change ....

You also have to admit the possibility that Dr. Wood just isn't that smart - that he is doing all this work in purest good faith, but that he has the terrible misfortune to have consistently and repeatedly got all the details wrong.

Certainly, it was a case of misfortune that he attacked Mashey, or else the encyclopedic evidence of Wood's connections and previous protestations would not have been gathered in this handy reference.

Alas, when you look at the clownish Monckton, the discredited Singer or Steve Milloy and, now, the unfortunate Peter Wood, you have to wonder that the oily barons can't afford more impressive champions for their increasingly incredible cause.

AttachmentSize bottling nonsense.pdf1.53 MB

June 09 2011

21:44

Science article recognizes John Mashey

Updated: With complete list of Mashey Papers

Computer scientist, entrepreneur, periodic DeSmogBlog contributor and "one of the good guys" John Mashey is the subject of an extremely favorable profile this week in Science

Science writer Eli Kintisch looks back over the last couple of years at the research and reports that Mashey has produced. Calling Mashey "an amateur" (which, on the question of climate science, he freely admits to being), Kintisch then looks for some journalistic "balance," interviewing one person who is defensive and critical in the face of Mashey's work (the confused and compromised physicist Will Happer) and one who is reassured and delighted ("hockey stick" co-author and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State, Michael Mann).

"Both sides can agree on one thing, however: Mashey has become one of the most visible of a new generation of climate warriors."<!--break-->Kintisch canvases the reason that Mashey got involved in the first place - why he spends his retirement from designing computer systems by feverishly documenting "climate anti-science."

"Mashey became upset that they (friends in the climate science community) were being attacked by bloggers and lawmakers and subjected to anonymous threats. '(Science historian) Naomi (Oreskes) is a friend, and she gets death threats. Mike Mann’s a friend, and he gets death threats. It pisses me off,' Mashey says. 'They get harassed and discouraged for doing a good job for everybody’s grandchildren.'”

So, with a computer programer's zest for detail, Mashey wades through the flawed and contradictory material that constitutes the attack on climate science, producing voluminous and carefully credited reports that, in at least one recent case, result in the embarrassment of warriors on the other side of the argument and in a restoration of accuracy in the published record.

The Science article concludes:

"Mashey believes that vanquishing scientists’ foes will serve a higher purpose. 'It’s up to some of the rest of us to help get these guys off your backs so you can do the science,' he tells his scientist allies. He thinks discrediting their opponents also allows society to focus on the biggest problem: the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 'Goal number two is, try to help lessen the impact of climate antiscience on public policy before it commits the U.S. to be an increasingly bad place to live,' he says."


The Mashey Papers

1) Another Attack on Global Warming’s Scientific Consensus – A Case Study of Personal Harassment and Amplification of Nonsense by the Denialist PR Machine, DeSmogBlog, March 23, 2008, 40p.

2) Science Bypass – Anti-science Petition to APS from folks with SEPP, George C. Marshall Institute, Heartland, DeSmogBlog, Nov. 11, 2009, 128p.

3) Crescendo to Climategate Cacophony - Behind the 2006 Wegman Report and Two Decades of Climate Anti-Science, DeSmogBlog, March 15, 2010, 185p. (CCC)

4) Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report - A Façade for the Climate Anti-Science PR Campaign, DeepClimate, Sept. 26, 2010, 250p. (SSWR)

5) "Strange Inquiries at George Mason University …and even stranger comments, DeSmnogBlog, Jan. 04, 2011, 45p.  (SIGMU)

6) Strange Tales and Emails: Said, Wegman, Sharabati, Rigsby (2008), DeSmogBlog,  May 26, 2011, 17p.  STaE.

7) Strange Falsifications in the Wegman Report, DeSmogBlog, May 27, 2011, 12p.  SFWR


PRESENTATION AND VIDEO

The Machinery of Climate Anti-Science, April 7, 2011, University of Victoria, B.C., Canada.


June 05 2011

20:27

Wegman Report: Not just plagiarism, misrepresentation

New Mashey Report Drills into Academic Misconduct

The 2006 Wegman Report to Congress, already under investigation for extensive plagiarism, also appears to be guilty of falsifications, misrepresentation and frabrications that could give rise to a charge of academic misconduct, according to a new report by computer scientist and entrepreneur John Mashey (attached, below).

Mashey and the Canadian blogger Deep Climate have analysed Wegman extensively in the past, primarily for the plagiarism of which Wegman is so clearly guilty. But Mashey digs deeper in the current report, questioning whether the numerous errors, oversights and misrepresentations in the report can be explained by inadvertence or incompetence, or whether Wegman and his prinicpal co-author Yasmin Said were intentionally distorting the information they were plagiarizing and, in the process, pointedly misrepresenting science.<!--break-->

The Wegman Report was commissioned by Congress as an "investigation" into a controversial "hockey stick" graph that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had used prominently in an effort to illustrate the reality of climate change. Although Edward Wegman's report was highly critical of that graph, later analysis (mostly by Deep Climate) showed that he had extensively cribbed one of the graphs own authors, Raymond Bradley, in mounting his attack.

What Mashey now demonstrates is that, in addition to misrepresenting Bradley's words as his own, Wegman also twisted, misrepresented or completely changed the meaning of some of Bradley's work, without explanation or reference to any other source that might justify the manipulations.

As Mashey says - showing an extensive analysis of Wegman against the original: "Bradley is methodically weakened, silently contradicted or even directly inverted ...."

 

These errors could have been attributable to "mere serious incompetence and poor scholarship, including inability to understand a textbook well enough to summarize it correctly," Mashey says. But he later adds, "I think most of this is purposeful."

Mashey's analysis is compelling. He reveals minor, but annoying changes, such as when Bradley is talking about a "strong temperature signal" available from tree rings and Wegman, in the midst of a purloined paragraph, amends Bradley's text to add the word "relatively" - as in a "relatively strong temperature signal."

Indeed, having relied overwhelmingly on Bradley's text to present himself as something of an expert on the use of tree rings to create a reconstruction of historic temperatures, Wegman then changes the last section to arrive at a conclusion exactly opposite to Bradley's own. Bradley, explaining both the strengths and weaknesses of using tree rings, says this:

"If an equation can be developed that accurately describes instrumentally observed climatic variability in terms of tree growth over the same interval, then paleoclimatic reconstructions can be made using only the tree-ring data."

Wegman, who had added confusing or "confounding" references in the midst of several earlier paragraphs, removes Bradley's concluding sentence and adds instead this flatfooted statement, instead:

"Thus tree ring proxy data alone is not sufficient to determine past climate variables."

 

Finally, Mashey demonstrates that Wegman was also guilty of that most obvious of undergraduate cheats: bibliography padding - the inclusion of numerous references to give the impression of careful scholarship.

Mashey writes: "Bibliography-padding can also be a form of fabrication, and 40 of 80 references (in Wegman) are never cited, leading one to wonder if the (Wegman Report) authors had actually ever studied them. Many are clearly irrelevant or found in dubious sources inappropriate for such a report. A tabloid writer's 1987 ozone article in a fringe technology magazine is listed as an “Academic paper.” It cannot possibly be relevant."

As usual, Mashey's own report is painstakingly annotated and he generously credits the previous excellent scholarship by DeepClimate. Wegman, who must surely have been humiliated by having a related paper thrown out of a scholarly journal - also for plagiarism - must surely stand accountable soon, lest the reputation of George Mason University be permanently damaged by its tolerance of this poor and political performance.

 

AttachmentSize strange falsifications V1 0.pdf791.72 KB
Reposted by02mydafsoup-01 02mydafsoup-01

May 24 2011

06:35

Mashey Report Reveals Wegman Manipulations

Strange Tales and Emails: Said, Wegman, Sharabati, Rigsby (2008)

The discredited Dr. Edward Wegman tried to blame a student for the plagiarism in a paper that has since been retracted from the journal of Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, according to emails released in a new report by computer scientist Dr. John Mashey (attached below).

The emails, originally obtained by USA Today reporter Dan Vergano, reveal that Wegman and his friend, CSDA Editor Dr. Stanely Azen, both tried to convince the publisher Elsevier to allow the discredited paper to stand, perhaps with an errata sheet attached as what Azen described as "punishment" for the Wegman team's academic misconduct.<!--break-->

Mashey and the Canadian blogger DeepClimate have been the two most effective forces at discovering, analyzing and revealing the incorrect, plagiarized and academically incompetent work generated by Wegman, his collaborator and former student Yasmin Said, as well as other students including Walid Sharabati and John Rigsby in their ongoing attacks on climate scientists who contributed to the iconic "hockey stick" climate reconstruction graph (inset).

Earlier Mashey reports include Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report and Crescendo Climategate Cacaphony, both of which leverage DeepClimate's research and then canvas in extraordinary detail the connections and manipulations that mark the Wegman campaign. The retraction of the CSDA paper is the first obvious result of Mashey and DC's painstaking scholarship. This new report is yet more evidence that more dramatic punishments may still be in store for the Wegman team and for the Republican legislators (such as Joe Barton) and functionaries (including Barton's staffer Peter Spencer) who originally engaged Wegman to launch the hockey stick attack.

 

AttachmentSize strange.tales_.pdf1.57 MB

April 05 2011

20:45

John Mashey to lecture in Vancouver, Victoria

DeSmogBlog Tutor Examines the Trail of Denial

Three or four years ago, when the DeSmogBlog's comments were still unmoderated (and too often unintelligent), we began to notice the consistent high quality of input from a frequent reader named John Mashey. His analysis was so sharp and his breadth of knowledge so impressive that we couldn't resist tracking him down - to find out: who the heck is this guy?

Well, his Wikipedia page announces him as a "computer scientist, director and entrepreneur, " a veteran of Bells Labs and Silicon Valley who has recently turned his prodigious energy and evident intelligence to the task of sorting out who's saying what in the world of climate change denial and who's paying them for their efforts.

Mashey has become a teacher, friend and contributor to the DSB in more ways than one. Aside from the remarkable research papers (1, 2)  that he has posted on our site in the last year, his was the greatest and most valued contribution to Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming.

So, we're thrilled he's in "the neighbourhood," speaking in our hometown of Vancouver tomorrow (Wednesday April 6, 7:30 p.m. in Theatre C300 at UBC Robson Square, 800 Robson Street) and  in Victoria (Thursday, April 7, 7:30 p.m. at the Bob Wright Centre, Rm B150). The trip, which included a lecture last night at the University of Northern BC in Prince George, was organized thanks to the good graces of Dr. Tom Pederson, Director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.<!--break-->

The Vancouver poster is attached, and interested viewers can tune into the Victoria event via LiveStream here


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January 06 2011

18:14

GMU still paralyzed; Wegman, Rapp still paranoid

WegmanGate, SkepticGate:

Isn't it Time to Slam the Gate?

George Mason University continues to fritter away its reputation for academic integrity by failing to act on plagiarism charges against Dr. Edward Wegman - but the indefatigable John Mashey has not rested in the long interegnum since the complaint was filed.

Mashey's latest update is attached below and with his first edition, here. John recommends particularly the paranoic rantings of Dr. Donald Rapp (in the new Section 3) as well as Wegman's own unfolding commentary (Appendix A 3), which continues regardless of a GMU directive that he not comment on his investigation until the beleaguered braintrust at his university decides to recognize the obvious - or cover up.<!--break-->

 

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December 14 2010

23:06

GMU Paralyzed by Plagiarism Investigation

Plagiarism charges against George Mason University statistician Edward Wegman have brought the university's administration to an apparent standstill, according to the latest report from John Mashey (attached).

Wegman actually stands accused of having committed a host of infractions with the “AD HOC COMMITTEE REPORT ON THE 'HOCKEY STICK' GLOBAL CLIMATE RECONSTRUCTION” that he presented to Congress in 2006. The worst, however (and the easiest to prove) is that he or his co-authors plagiarized a huge amount of material from a book by one of their targets, Raymond Bradley. In many cases, the only differences between Wegman's lifted quotes and Bradley's original material occurred when Wegman (or his assistants) changed the text to change the meaning.

Per Mashey's report, Rice University received a similar complaint against one of Wegman's co-authors, David R Scott. Rice responded immediately, investigating the charge and clearing Scott as the culprit in nine days. Nine MONTHS later, GMU has made no finding. We wait with interest ....<!--break-->

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November 24 2010

19:35

Have We Found the Real “Climategate” Scandal?

This is a guest post by Mike Casey, cross-posted from ScalingGreen.com.
Despite overwhelming evidence that anthropogenic climate change is real, potentially catastrophic, and accelerating, the theft of the East Anglia emails a year ago was turned into “Climategate” by the dirty energy lobby.  This non-scandal was nothing but a bunch of hot air, perpetrated by “deniers,” and to a large extend funded by the leading dirty energy (coal and oil) industries. (For more on this subject, see the superb book, “The Climate War,” by Eric Pooley.)

Congressman Joe “Apologize to BP” Barton of Texas was among those honking on the “Climategate” horn the loudest. The problem is that Barton lacks intellectual integrity of his own. As Salon reports:

 

A couple of years ago, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, asked a statistician named Edward Wegman to produce a report that would cast doubt on climate change science, because Barton -- then the chairman of the House energy committee -- is less a citizen legislator than the whims of the oil and gas industries made animate and elected to Congress.

 

The report criticized some statistics used to prove that the last century was the warmest one in centuries, which means it proved that global warming is pretend, in the eyes of most Republicans…

 

The only problem, other than the fact that the report is overwhelmingly without merit, is that it was largely plagiarized.<!--break-->

 

"The report was integral to congressional hearings about climate scientists," says Aaron Huertas of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C. "And it preceded a lot of conspiratorial thinking polluting the public debate today about climate scientists."

 

But in March, climate scientist Raymond Bradley of the University of Massachusetts asked GMU, based in Fairfax, Va., to investigate "clear plagiarism" of one of his textbooks.

Bradley says he learned of the copying on the Deep Climate website and through a now year-long analysis of the Wegman report made by retired computer scientist John Mashey of Portola Valley, Calif. Mashey's analysis concludes that 35 of the report's 91 pages "are mostly plagiarized text, but often injected with errors, bias and changes of meaning." Copying others' text or ideas without crediting them violates universities' standards, according to Liz Wager of the London-based Committee on Publication Ethics.

 

In other words, it appears that we’ve found the real “Climategate” scandal here -- the relentless, well-funded propaganda effort to discredit climate science and climate scientists.  The deniers’ new plagiarism problem is just the latest in the fast-and-loose, fact-free zone in which they operate.

We have a call in to the House Ethics Committee, inquiring as to whether plagiarism represents a violation of House Ethics rules, and will report back what we hear.  As we’re waiting for an answer, keep in mind that Rep. Joe Barton, who requested the aforementioned report, is the same individual who infamously apologized to BP for how it was treated after it created one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of the country.

 

I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown.

 

No, the real “tragedy” is that people like Joe Barton get to come to Congress at all, not to mention rise to powerful positions.

By Mike Casey, cross-posted from ScalingGreen.com.

October 20 2010

17:23

Climate Audit: Is being offensive really the best defence?

In a breathless update on the tawdry Wegmangate tale of plagiarism, mining promoter and amateur statisitican Stepehn McIntyre (proprietor of Climate Audit) has tried to distract from the case at hand by imagining an earlier instance of plagiarism, allegedly committed by Edward Wegman's victim, Raymond Bradley.

For those just catching up, the blogger Deep Climate and his research partner John Mashey have produced a document that shows just how extensively the once-respected statisitician Wegman cribbed from one of his apparent victims (Ray Bradley) in a report that Wegman produced for Congress. Mashey argues that Wegman's errors and plagiarism were more than merely unprofessional: he says that they constitute a barefaced and illegal effort to mislead Congress. George Mason University is currently investigating the plagiarsim charges.

McIntyre has chosen to run interference on that complaint not by actually defending Wegman (whose shoddy work seems increasingly indefensible) but by attacking Ray Bradley, one of the authors of the iconic "hockey stick graph" that Wegman had been hired to attack. McIntyre points out in his post that Bradley had earlier used a series of figures from a 1976 book by H.C. Fritts and, according to McIntyre, provided inadequate credit.

This, however, seems less like plagiarism and more like an effort to build good science on a solid foundation. <!--break-->The first time Bradley used the Fritts work, in 1985, he said (and, to his credit, McIntyre quotes), "…the greatest strides in dendroclimatology hae been made in the last 10-15 years, largely as a result of the work of H.C. Fritts and associates at the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research in the University of Arizona; much of this work has been documented at length in the excellent book by Fritts (1976)."

Bradley then reproduced the figures and paraphrased some of Fritts earlier work, giving Fritts credit as he went. When Bradley produced a second book covering similar material in 1999, he used many of the same figures and credited Fritts about half as often.

Two points: First, there is no evidence here that Bradley was trying to hide the source of his material or that he was trying to claim credit for work done by Fritts. McIntyre's complaint - to the extent that it has any validity at all - is that Bradley didn't credit Fritts often enough. Fair enough, but this still appears to be the case of a scientist trying to advance the work of an admired senior scientist.

Second, and instark contrast, in the now infamous Wegman report to Congress, the authors made no effort to cite Bradley at all. Wegman's team just grabbed the Bradley material (unsourced) and, in several egregious instances, changed it to arrive an contradictory conclusions.

While Bradley was honoring the work of a leader in the field, Wegman's henchpeople were stealing material and then twisting it in what now appears to be an obvious effort to undermine the credibility of the original author.

And now, rather than make any effort to confront, explain or even defend the Wegman paper, McIntyre responds by throwing another clod of mud at Bradley. Bad form fellas. Typical, but still bad form.

 

October 12 2010

22:34

Joe Barton: Misleading Congress; Misleading America

Rep. Joe Barton, already implicated in an effort to mislead Congress about the science of climate change, is obviously choosing offence as his best possible defence, renewing his slander of Penn State climate scientist and "Hockey Stick" author Dr. Michael Mann.

As then-co-chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Barton was responsible in 2006 for inviting the increasingly controversial statistician Edward Wegman to prepare a critique of Mann's iconic hockey-stick-shaped graph illustrating a 1,000-year climate reconstruction. Although Barton has denied that he had a previous relationship with Wegman, implying that the subsequent report and hearing were not a set-up, John Mashey has documented the extensive direction that Barton provided to Wegman through Barton staff member Peter Spencer.<!--break-->

With Wegman and his collaborators in the hockey stick report now under investigation for plagiarism and for inadvertently or intentionally misleading Congress by misrepresenting the actual state of climate science, Mann is (justifiably!) nervous about a renewed Republican witch-hunt should the balance of power shift in the November elections. He wrote an opinion-page piece in the Washington Post (Get the anti-science bent out of politics) to that effect, prompting Barton's response in a letter to the editor.

Barton dredged up what is becoming an increasingly common line, "Mr. Mann is entitled to make up his own mind, but not his own truth." It's perverse, though. Mann's scientific conclusions have been borne out every time anyone else puts together a climate reconstruction. He has also been exonerated, repeatedly, for the comments he made in the too-famous stolen East Anglia emails. Barton, on the other hand, appears to have his mind firmly set on the position that most favours his oil industry funders - a position that has been repudiated again and again by the scientific community. His opinions appear to be a pointed afront to any reasonably documented set of facts.

An outbreak of Congressional hearings on this issue is, indeed, long overdue. But the record thus far indicates that Barton should be the subject (on charges of misleading the House AND the American people), not the facilitator.

 

October 08 2010

22:17

Hockey Stick Basher Wegman Under Investigation

Is Talk of Lawsuit A Trick to Hide His Decline?

George Mason University has confirmed that it is investigating its Professor Edward Wegman, the statistician who was point man in the 2006 political attack on the so-called "hockey stick" graph.

Wegman, who was chair of the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, was tapped in '06 by Republican representatives Joe Barton and Ed Whitfield to assemble a so-called "expert panel" to critique the famous hockey stick, a graph illustrating a thousand-year temperature record as reconstructed by climate scientists Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes. But Silicon Valley entrepreneur John Mashey has since demonstrated that, rather than convene a group of experts, Wegman tapped a couple of grad students and together they produced a report that was generously plagiarized from Bradley's own work and then twisted - or just misrepresented - to appear to undermine the hockey stick and its creators.

<!--break-->Now that the authorities are actually looking into this issue, Wegman himself seems to be suggesting that the charges against him are actionable. He told USA Today that "Some litigation is under way."

Well, none as it would apply to Mashey, who says he hasn't heard a peep from Wegman - or from anybody's lawyers - in response to his devastating critique.

Word is that that this is also just the first of several investigations in the offing. It's clear enough from Barton and Whitfield's own positions that they were hoping Wegman could wreck a few scientific reputations. As every new work seems to reaffirm the science behind the Mann, Bradley, Hughes hockey stick, it appears the reputation most at risk now is Wegman's own.

September 27 2010

17:48

Wegman, et al: Using Statistics to Mislead Congress?

The computer scientist John Mashey has called once again for the Department of Justice to investigate Edward Wegman on a charge of misleading Congress with his 2006 report on the famous and famously resilient "Mann Hockey Stick."

In a new report now available on the Deep Climate blog, Mashey doesn't exactly accuse Wegman and his team of lying, cheating and incompetence. Rather, he offers more than 200 pages of evidence: documented examples of Wegman and leading writer Yasmin Said plagiarizing material, padding their references, "crediting" reviewers who either never saw the report or whose comments were ignored, injecting errors into plagiarized text and failing to perform the actual statistical analsysis that the House Committee on Energy and Commerce had requested.

If Wegman hopes to maintain a shred of academic credibility, he must either sue Mashey for libel (and win) or apologize and admit that the 2006 report was a political put-up job. Given the weight of Mashey's evidence, a lawsuit seems laughably unlikely. A charge of misleading Congress, on the other hand, awaits only the interest of the DOJ.<!--break-->

March 17 2010

23:25

John Mashey: Crescendo Climategate Cacophony

A new paper by the computer scientist and entrepreneur John Mashey, (attached) digs ever deeper (and in an increasingly well-organized way), into the morass of deception and disinformation that has characterized the recent climate conversation. Mashey never uses the word "lies," but somehow it seemed an appropriate illustration of what he finds underlying the recent campaign against climate science, scientists and anyone who respects their work.

This and Mashey's previous paper point an unflinching finger at corporate front groups and free market think tanks that have worked so hard in the last two decades to spread confusion about climate science and to block public policy that would regulate the use of fossil fuels. Mashey makes a compelling case that Congress has been misled in the process - which is an offense against the democracy that think tankers claim to love (in addition to being a felony).

For a visual reckoning of the kinds of think tanks involved, Mashey has populated a Google Map locating the major and minor players - although care should be taken to sort out those tanks that have the worst record in all of this - say, the George C. Marshall Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute and the Heartland Institute - from some that are just going along with the pack.<!--break-->

AttachmentSize crescendo climategate cacophony v1 0.pdf3 MB

February 08 2010

00:37

Plagiarism? Conspiracies? Felonies? Breaking out the Wegman File

Did Edward Wegman's team commit plagiarism in preparing its 2006 Congressional report on the so-called MBH Hockey Stick? Objectively, yes.

Is there a conspiracy to confuse and distort climate science? Absolutely. If you doubt it, read the John Mashey paper attached (or our book, Climate Cover-up).

Have any crimes been committed? That'll be for a judge to decide. But given that misleading Congress is a felony offense, there might be some justifable nervousness among the people who coached Wegman through his attack on the scientistists behind the Hockey Stick.

The inspiration for these questions, and some fodder for the answers, is presented in painstaking and well-documented detail in the attached paper (see new version 1.0.1, updated Feb 11, 2010). Prepared by the computer scientist and entrepreneur John Mashey, it is a roadmap, a reference source and a timeline for the campaign of deceit that began in the 1990s and has come to something of a crescendo with the recent thefts of the East Anglia emails.<!--break-->

Mashey begins with a context-heavy review of the excellent research by the blogger Deep Climate, whose most recent revelations are described in greater detail here.

But Mashey doesn't stop there. He burrows back into the campaign of climate change denial, naming names and describing tactics. He is unfailingly cautious in making accusations, but the weight of his documentation is devastating for scientific sellouts like Dr. S. Fred Singer and for organizations like the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which have chosen to insert themselves in the the political process and in the public conversation - in a way that is, often, anything but forthright.

This document should be required reading for Congressional investigators and for any reporter who wants to cover this issue credibly.

We have been  told repeatedly, of late, that science has become politicized and that a cabal of conspirators are trying to make us believe something for which they have no evidence. That's absolutely true, but not in the way the Wall Street Journal or Canada's National Post would have you think.

As Mashey documents here, so well, this whole party has been a set-up, with scientists on one side, bound by the rules of evidence and by their own integrity, and think tanks, PR counsellors and their aides and allies on the other side, using any technique aailable  (including, apparently, obtaining, using and disseminating stolen emails), to defend the right of fossil fuel companies to continue, unrestrained, in the sale and distribution of a substance that is threatening the human habitability of planet earth.

We know that the scientists have been telling the truth - a couple of trivial exceptions help prove that rule. Mashey shows that the track record on the other side is considerably more checkered.

AttachmentSize plagiarism.conspiracies.felonies.v1.0.pdf2.21 MB plagiarism conspiracies felonies v1 0 1.pdf2.22 MB

November 11 2009

22:15

Another Silly Climate Petition Exposed

In the realm of silly petitions, manufactured by a small, agenda-driven group and leveraged to extend the fiction of a legitimate scientific controversy, no document has ever been studied to this degree.

Thanks to John Mashey, a technology consultant, entrepreneur, member of the American Physical Society and tireless researcher, this document lies completely exposed as another phony front group play for attention.

<!--break-->

Mashey's own explanation begins like this:

"The American Physical Society (APS) was petitioned by 206 people, about 0.45% of the 47,000 members, to discard its climate change position and declare decades of climate research non-existent. The Petition was “overwhelmingly” rejected, but this anti-science campaign offers a useful case study. The Petition signers‟ demographics are compared to those of APS in general. Then, the social network behind the petition is analyzed in detail, person by person for the first 121 signers. This might seem a grassroots groundswell of informed expert argument with the existing position, but it is not. Rather, it seems to have originated within a small network of people, not field experts, but with a long history of manufacturing such things, plausibly at the Heartland Institute‘s NYC climate conference March 8-10, 2009. APS physicists can, do, and will contribute strongly to solving the 21st century‟s conjoined climate+energy problem, but this petition was a silly distraction, and rightly rejected. However, its existence was widely touted to the public."

The whole, exhaustive document is attached. Fred Singer should be embarrassed.

AttachmentSize 2009 science bypass v3 0.pdf2.04 MB
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