Dan Vergano in USA Today reports:
Officials at George Mason University confirmed Thursday that they are investigating plagiarism and misconduct charges made against a noted climate science critic.
“I’m very well aware of the report, but I have been asked by the university not to comment until all the issues have been settled,” Wegman says, by phone. “Some litigation is underway.” Walsch confirms that the university has asked Wegman not to comment.
“Clearly, text was just lifted verbatim from my book and placed in the (Wegman) report,” says Bradley, who is also one of the authors of the 1999 Nature study. In response to earlier concerns raised by the Deep Climate website, Bradley says he wrote a letter in April to GMU, noting the possibility of plagiarism and demanding an investigation of both the 2006 report and a subsequent, federally-funded study published by some of Wegman’s students. “Talk about irony. It just seems surreal (that) these authors could criticize my work when they are lifting my words.”
USA Today also has a letter to Bradley sent by Roger Stough, Vice-president for Research and Economic Development, on July 28, 2010. In the letter, Stough promised a resolution of the inquiry phase by September 30, apparently more than six months after the initial complaint was brought by Bradley. The purpose of the inquiry phase is to determine if a full-blown proceeding is warranted. Yet even that intermediate deadline has apparently been missed, though it was already well beyond GMU’s own established timelines.
Many bunnies will miss the significance of this. When a formal research or professional misconduct complaint is received, universities are required to open an inquiry. This is a less formal procedure, usually conducted by administrative personnel with or without academics taking part. it is very confidential. Only when the inquiry finds strong evidence of misconduct is a formal investigation opened.
Yes, Virginia, while your 17th-century AG was hunting witches in the UVa email archives from 2003, his alma mater George Mason University was sitting on a case of plagiarism and academic misconduct involving the author of the so-called “Wegman Report”, upon which much of his witch hunt was based.
Wegman declined to comment, but has confirmed that litigation is involved. Informed speculation suggests that this may be related to copyright issues — likely to be a problem for anyone who lifts 30% of a report from other people’s work. The story has also been picked up by the Washington Post, and Andy Revkin at Dot Earth has dubbed the affair SkepticGate. This scandal may be about to go mainstream — and not before time.
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.
As an aside- many of the champions of the Wegman Report (e.g Steve McIntyre) took up Wegman’s claim “Method Wrong + Answer Correct = Bad Science” as a sort of incantation, chanting it as though it might somehow dispel the fact that reality appears to have a hockey-stick-shaped bias. I am sure that these same people will maintain their integrity and immediately disavow the Wegman Report and its conclusions.
The further the deniers, their tactics, and their funding sources are dragged out of the shadows and into the bright, disinfecting sunlight of public scrutiny, the better it will be for climate science and everyone who depends on the public policy it informs.
Lucia Liljegren doesn’t seem to think very much of the case:
As a note I would like to point out the shocking(!) similarity between one of my sentences and a sentence in USA Today today … I hope USA Today doesn’t sue!!!
Funny, but I’m not seeing any mention of the story over at WUWT or Climate Depot, or Planet Gore.
At WUWT (and after Kloor posted), Tom Fuller
I don’t like the weblog Deep Climate, and I very much respect the report Edward Wegman put out. I understand what the report said and I agree with its conclusions. So I’m hoping this investigation is thorough, quick and that Wegman’s work stands.
But there’s no way we can ignore this and complain about a lack of vigor in finding out what went wrong with CRU, Climategate and the Hockey Stick. This is bad news (for me). But it is news.