The Wegman scandal

… is not just plagiarism. John Mashey has written a 250 page report on the Wegman scandal.


  1. #1 John Mashey
    September 27, 2010

    But don’t read more than the 6-pager – somewhere in the chain between my PDF and Deep Climate/Wordpress, some fonts got mangled (Bold Times new Roman turned into something else, and URLs got extra rectangles.] Hopefully, this will get fixed in a few hours, when DC gets back online.]

    But then do take a look, first at the 6-pager, and then at the ~25-page main discussion. Most of the rest is detailed backup, including many annotated pages of the Wegman Report, and derivatives.

    I think this matters, because:

    1) The Wegman Report remains a key prop for climate anti-science, around the world. I found it in recent books form the US, Canada, UK, and Australia [Plimer quotes extensively from it.]

    At least 6 submission to the UK Parliament on “Climategate” had it.

    It turns out several Australians helped me out quite a bit with this, some named, some anonymous.

    John Cook created the fixed numbered version of Skeptical Science science list for me, invaluable as the Wegman Report is *pervaded* by these things.

    Garry Robins @ U Melbourne kindly helped out quite a bit with Social Networks Analysis (A topic in which he’s an expert, unlike Wegman’s team.)

    And there were more.

    2) Unlike many of fights, this one actually identifies some *actionable* problems, at the very least:

    – Substantive plagiarism of at least 3 books [identified by DC], plus snippets from Wikipedia, several other books. That accounts for about 10 pages of the WR’s 91.

    – Then it turns out that WR co-author Yasmin Said’s PhD dissertation has 5 pages plagiarized (with a few howler errors) from a website on ethanol.

    – Then, the WR’s social networks plagiarized text turns up again in 2 dissertations of 2 more Wegman students.

    – It turns up again in an amazing journal paper accepted in 6 days,with no revisions, attacking climate peer review. That one also acknowledges 3 US Federal research contracts, none of whose missions obviously include paying for low-quality social networks analysis that leaps to unwarranted conclusions about peer review in a discipline unfamiliar to the authors. [Garry kindly let me print his expert opinion on this paper.] This might have been unwise, but maybe the agencies can explain if they realized this.

    – Some might say, “no big deal”, but this is just the start.

    Another 25 pages of Summarized Papers is mostly plagiarized from those papers. “mostly” means: ~50% of the total words are locally word-for-word identical in-order cut-and-paste. Another ~30% are trivial changes, simple text moves, minor rephrasings. If people think that isn’t plagiarism (since the original sources are known),they will want to read the various university policies quoted in my report.

    – Of the 80 references in the Bibliography, 40 aren’t even cited in the text, some are cited very weakly, many are irrelevant, some are “grey literature.” The most important document for understanding the WR is vaguely referenced, but never cited anywhere … an MM talk sponsored by the George C. Marshall Institute.

    Of course, the best, or at least the most bizarre, was revealed here at Deltoid, Wegman and Black Helicopters.

    And there’s way more, including an Appendix on McShane-Wyner(2010), which managed to be a remake of the WR – better special effects, similar plot.

  2. #2 Rattus Norvegicus
    September 27, 2010

    The comments from Garry Robins rate a big ouch!

  3. #3 Wow
    September 27, 2010

    > Of the 80 references in the Bibliography, 40 aren’t even cited in the text

    Maybe you ought to check if Nassif Nahle is in on the writing there, he’s big for putting a reference to a work he never cites (and, as a bonus, referencing work that says he has it wrong).

    But NN is probably a fake. His self-elected bio states he has several degrees within the space of three years. Impossible or lies. If it’s not a lie, then he doesn’t exist.

  4. #4 John Mashey
    September 27, 2010

    OK, the font problems are fixed, we think.
    The title should be Times new Roman, Bold, and URLs not have strange rectangles. If anyone reading it sees mangled fonts, please report over at Deep Climate.

  5. #5 John Mashey
    September 27, 2010

    re: #3 Wow
    re: NN: See APS Petition, p. 112. While it would have been amusing to have found a connection, I found no evidence for such.

  6. #6 Rattus Norvegicus
    September 27, 2010


    Nasif is just a random crank. Nothing to see, move along.

  7. #7 John Mashey
    September 27, 2010

    re: #6 Rattus
    Oh, actually not … in the sense that a random selection of crank would tend to find ones near the middle of crankdom, and I’d say NN is at least 3 sigmas out.

    But, NN is completely irrelevant to the Wegman discussion; the only reason I ever looked was that I saw his name on that petition, which was interesting both because:

    a) They apparently thought having his name on there was useful.

    b) He was unusual in *not* being an obvious member of the social network that included most of the signers.

  8. #8 Michael
    September 28, 2010

    A few minor errors I noticed in the Exec Summary,

    P.3. an for a – “It is a distortion of an sketch already obsolete by 1992, but supported strongly and used repeatedly”

    P. 4 on M&W 2010; duplicte word ‘text’? – “but from which it plagiarizes earlier errors plus text Wikipedia text.”

    Good work guys.

  9. #9 John Mashey
    September 28, 2010

    re: 8 Thanx, fixed.

  10. #10 Wow
    September 28, 2010

    re 5: Darn.

    Well maybe Nahle is influential and is being used as a template.

    This would probably make him proud.

  11. #11 P. Lewis
    September 28, 2010

    I note over at Deep Climate you mention the Valentine reference. The “full” details (well, extra bits of “useless” info) are

    Tom Valentine, 1987. “Magnetics May Hold Key to Ozone Layer Problems: Going Back to Michael Faraday for Answers,”Magnets in Your Future (published quarterly by L.H. Publishing Agency, P.O. Box 580, Teme-cula, Calif. 92390.)

    which I got from the refs listing on p. 150 of Maduro and Schauerhammer’s “The holes in the ozone scare: the scientific evidence that the sky isn’t falling” (available as a pdf if you search on the book’s title). Haroun Tazieff’s Foreword to that book contains this gem:

    As for the greenhouse effect, supposedly generated by CO2 released by the burning of petroleum and its derivatives and from burning coal or wood, this seems to me also imaginary and just as unreal as the
    destruction of the ozone of the upper atmosphere.

    That book’s publisher, 21st Century Science Associates (Washington, DC), espouse this about their magazine 21st Century Science & Technology:

    21st Century Science & Technology magazine challenges the assumptions of modern scientific dogma, including quantum mechanics, relativity theory, biological reductionism, and the formalization and separation of mathematics from physics. We demand a science based on constructible (intelligible) representation of concepts, but shun the simple empiricist or sense-certainty methods associated with the Newton-Galileo paradigm.

    Our unique collection of editors and scientific advisers maintain an ongoing intellectual dialogue with leading thinkers in many areas, including biology, physics, space science, oceanography, nuclear energy, and ancient epigraphy. Original studies by the controversial economist Lyndon LaRouche have challenged the epistemological foundations of the von Neumann and Wiener-Shannon information theory, and located physical science as a branch of physical economy. In science policy areas, we have challenged sacred cows, from the theory of global warming to the linear threshold concept of radiation.

    21st Century is the successor to Fusion magazine (published from 1977 to 1987), and has sister publications in French and German, both called Fusion.

    I suspect the reason that ozone and it’s hole are referenced (sorry, listed in the ref listing) in the WR is not because of concern with the chemistry aspect as it relates to AGW, nor in how it might relate to the statistical inquisition over the result of a hockey game, but with the reasons behind whomsoever did not want CFCs and HCFCs banned in the first place. Yes, the Valentine reference probably does say a lot about the scholarship of the WR, and it says a lot more about who were feeding his coterie information. It speaks volumes, IMHO.

  12. #12 John Mashey
    September 28, 2010

    P. Lewis: many thanks, but oh no:
    21st Century Science and Technology: LaRouche..

  13. #13 P. Lewis
    September 28, 2010

    Yes, I thought the gag reflex would kick in at the mention of that dirty word 🙂

  14. #14 MapleLeaf
    September 28, 2010

    John Mashey,

    Any idea whether or not the Dept. of Justice is going to move on these revelations? Surely they must be aware of this fiasco by now?

  15. #15 Marion Delgado
    September 28, 2010


    This, and the stuff about Leake, North, etc. is using science blogging to help right the balance a bit. It’s an amazing contribution.

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