Wegman scandal: GMU investigates

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.”

Deep Climate:

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.

Eli Rabett:

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.

Steve Scolnik:

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.

Gareth Renowden

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.

Richard Littlemore

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.

Things Break

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.

Lou Grinzo

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!!!

Keith Kloor:

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.

Comments

  1. #1 Katharine
    October 13, 2010

    As for Kook-inelli, this idiot is the attorney general of my state.

    This is the dude who got squeamish because there were boobies on the state seal.

  2. #2 Michael
    October 13, 2010

    ” I, being both a scientist and an accomplished system engineer, have demonstrated a rare talent to move into a field, read hundreds of papers and dozens of books, and assimilate them into a synoptic, comprehensive overview of the entire field. I have done this in a number of areas. ” – Rapp

    And textbooks, like the ones Rapp writes, are notoriously full of errors (mostly minor, but not always) in regards to the speciality fields they cover.

  3. #3 Katharine
    October 13, 2010

    Cars. Engines. Oil. Petrol. Steel. Coal.

    And that an engineer has a job with building stuff where the number of papers you wrote is much less important than the buildings you made keep standing (absent, of course, the WTC, whose collapse was likely due to someone cutting corners in the construction, but never caused any engineer any come-back).

    But the point of that is that if an engineer goes off the rails and into cloud cuckoo land, their academic standing can be rock bottom, but as long as he builds workable stuff, he’s still employable.

    Or, in other words, opportunity.

    I thought it was their curriculum, which contains essentially just chemistry, physics, and mechanics/optics/whatever before getting into the wonky engineering design stuff whose only scientific content as far as I’m aware is the various equations they use to build stuff and the characteristics of the materials they use.

    Pulling up a sample engineering curriculum (mechanical engineering, MIT, where ‘subject’ means ‘credit’ – http://web.mit.edu/catalog/degre.engin.ch2.html ), one can see that the only science component of it is material properties. Nothing else.

  4. #4 Wow
    October 13, 2010

    That’s kind of the point with Rapp.

    He doesn’t have any training but thinks he doesn’t need it.

    His hysterics don’t impact on his work because he doesn’t live on papers published and cited, so if his academic qualification is in the gutter, it doesn’t put him out of a job like it would for, say, Michael Mann (if he’d done half the things he’s accused of and was found doing it, he would be unemployed).

    So a working scientist who needs to prove his acumen in science has no opportunity to talk BS about climate science.

    An engineer has plenty of opportunity.

    Look at it this way: the C*O’s rate of embezzlement is MASSIVE compared to the number of C*O’s when rated against everyone else.

    Yes, the C*O tend to be somewhat more criminal (self selection: the honest and upright get fewer perks and more pressure than those who apply and abuse the position), but what they have that the Janitor doesn’t is the opportunity to embezzle.

    So engineers are no less (or not provably more) likely to BS about science, but they don’t have the downsides when caught at it, so the few who are just plain criminal about it are free to do so. Equally criminal climate scientists quickly get killed off in academia (they then go on the lecture circuit if lucky).

  5. #5 Boslough
    October 13, 2010

    Many of the signers of the Oregon petition, who claimed to be scientists, are actually engineers. I wonder what would happen to me if I used my signature to certify an engineering report, claiming that I was an engineer? What if I signed a prescription, claiming to be a physician? Why is it o.k. for engineers and M.D.s to masquerade as scientists, but not the other way around? This is “Impersongate,” #5 on the top-ten Clusterpuck list (see comment #163).

  6. #6 Wow
    October 13, 2010

    > I wonder what would happen to me if I used my signature to certify an engineering report, claiming that I was an engineer?

    If you’re not an engineer?

    As long as the engineers didn’t sue you for it, nothing.

  7. #7 Dave R
    October 13, 2010

    >Pulling up a sample engineering curriculum (mechanical engineering, MIT, where ‘subject’ means ‘credit’ – http://web.mit.edu/catalog/degre.engin.ch2.html ), one can see that the only science component of it is material properties. Nothing else.

    My mechanical engineering degree included thermodynamics and heat transfer and I doubt if it was that unusual.

    It certainly isn’t enough to make one a climate scientist but the idea that the curriculum of an engineering degree is either the reason or an excuse for denialism is bunk.

    Anyone who has done a course like that is capable of understanding enough, as long as they’re not blinded by ideology.

  8. #8 Katharine
    October 13, 2010

    Dave R, there is a twofold reason for the argument I was making:

    1) Thermodynamics and heat transfer do fall under the scanty scientific requirements, but honestly they’re not enough. I don’t know how much an engineering department really fosters the scientific method and a scientific way of thinking as much as a science department does. It doesn’t seem to me as if there’s as much of a focus on getting things empirically down pat.

    2) Capable, probably, but that doesn’t mean they have left their ideologies behind, unfortunately, and that doesn’t mean they don’t still need to be taught.

  9. #9 Boslough
    October 13, 2010

    >If you’re not an engineer?

    >As long as the engineers didn’t sue you for it, nothing.

    I’m not an engineer, I’m a scientist. I am not competent to certify a bridge, structure, or well. Are you telling me that if I signed off on an engineering design for a building, nobody but a real engineer could go after me for falsifying my credentials? It seems like a prescription for fraud if non-engineers can approve plans by claiming to be engineers, and nobody can do anything about it. What happens when the bridge I approved falls down?

  10. #10 Marco
    October 13, 2010

    Katharine, in all seriousness: it’s the education that matters, not (just) the curriculum. I’m pretty sure the average MIT engineer is a better scientist than quite a few scientists educated at various other US universities.

    Perhaps, but Dave R better correct me if necessary, the one major difference between engineering and science is that the latter more often deals with unknowns and thus with developing new theories. Engineering is, again, more often, the application of new ideas in practice.

    As a result, scientists may be more willing to accept unknowns, and reason around them, or even in sometimes difficult-to-explain ways *incorporate* them. Engineers are more likely to abhor unknowns, as it makes accurate prediction difficult. And if it doesn’t work, it usually is blamed on the engineer…

  11. #11 Dave R
    October 13, 2010

    I’ve replied re engineering [on the open thread](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/10/open_thread_54.php#comment-2855385) as it is getting OT here.

  12. #12 Neven
    October 13, 2010

    What happens when the bridge I approved falls down?

    Blame the eco-fascists.

  13. #13 Wow
    October 13, 2010

    > Are you telling me that if I signed off on an engineering design for a building, nobody but a real engineer could go after me for falsifying my credentials?

    Ah, love the engineering of quick goal-post-shifting.

    Go look at the Oregon petition.

    Go look for any name on there that has faced fall-out.

    Why would a “Peterborough petition” be any different? Just because it’s engineering?

  14. #14 Wow
    October 13, 2010

    > Engineers are more likely to abhor unknowns, as it makes accurate prediction difficult.

    Bull.

    The loadings for bridges are over-engineered to take at least 2x the rated load and to withstand an event that has <0.1% chance of happening.

    Engineers are absolutely OK with uncertainty and inaccuracies. In fact, they demand them.

    It’s the false engineers, the ones who deny global change (or ones pretending to be engineers to garner unearned authority) who believe that engineers demand certitude and accuracy.

  15. #15 Boslough
    October 13, 2010

    Here’s an engineering petition that’s just as stupid as the Oregon Petition. I don’t know any scientist who would be willing to masquerade as an engineer in order to sign it. Engineers are much more willing to impersonate scientists that vice-versa.

    “1337 verified architectural and engineering professionals and 10051 other supporters including AE students have signed the petition demanding of Congress a truly independent investigation.” (that 9/11 was an inside job).

    http://www.ae911truth.org/en/home.html

  16. #16 Wow
    October 13, 2010

    > I don’t know any scientist who would be willing to masquerade as an engineer in order to sign it. Engineers are much more willing to impersonate scientists that vice-versa.

    But to be scrupulous and fair, many of the Oregon Petition signees were not impersonating scientists. The pushers of the OP were pushing the signees as “30,000 scientists”, but many people signed as Dentist or Hairdresser or Lord of the Sith as appropriate.

  17. #17 Cedric Katesby
    October 13, 2010

    Warning.
    Off-topic.
    Apologies all round:

    :(

    Mr Lambert, please call/contact James Randi now.
    It’s happened again.
    The whole global warming denialism zombie thing has reared it’s ugly head.

    The latest article on the JREF website is a plug for the on-line Reason Magazine.

    This is bad.

    Reason Magazine is a platform of libertarian climate denialism.
    I don’t care about their political views but I do care about the climate denialism part.

    Our friends at Reason magazine have a cruise on the horizon! We would like to invite interested skeptics to join Reason’s all-star cast of investigative journalists, policy wonks, and assorted warriors for freethinking and free markets for a week at sea. It’s Reason’s first-ever seven-day cruise!

    When you click the link at the bottom and go to the Reason magazine website itself, you get this precious piece of wisdom as they advertize the very same cruise….

    Of course, there’s more to this cruise than just lazing on decks. You’ll hobnob with some of the most incisive writers and thinkers in America (…) Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey who can explain why the Florida coast we are sailing from will still be there a century from now no matter what global warming activists tell you.

    Type in “global warming” on their web-site and you get a host of articles poo-pooing global warming in general. Pretty much every single prominent climate denier out there gets a favourable mention at one time or another courtesy of Reason.com.

    These people are science deniers. Their political ideology is skewing whatever critical thinking skills they may or may not have.

    They are no friends of the JREF.

    Please, please, please say something. Bring this to somebody’s attention.
    Please.

    (I’ve sent this same post to a couple of my favourite science blogs in the hope that somebody influencial will do something positive. I have nothing but respect for Mr Randi but I don’t want to see a repeat of the fiasco where Randi effectively hemmed and hawed over AGW and cited as evidence the Oregon Petition of all things.)

    Skeptics should be genuinely skeptical.
    Not suckers.

  18. #18 Marco
    October 13, 2010

    Wow, safety margins is different from unknowns. Let’s take a bridge as an example, as you do, and order an engineer to work with a material for which we have no information on its ability to handle long-term strain. Will he do it, or prefer to resign, for fear of the bridge collapsing in a few years?

  19. #19 MarkB
    October 13, 2010

    Wegman’s social network is not too impressive.

    Rapp rant stats:

    Number of the times the following word/phrase is mentioned.

    ***hole: 2
    Alarmism: 1 (surprisingly only one mention!)
    Asinine: 1
    Donkey: 1
    Fanatic: 1
    Fervor: 2
    Idiotic: 1
    Janitors, trash collectors and hash slingers: 2 (yes, that phrase is in there twice, and what’s with the elitism?)
    Moron/Moronic: 3
    Orthodoxy: 5
    Religious/Religion: 6
    Satan: 1
    Taliban: 1
    Venom: 1
    Worship: 1
    Zealous/Zealot: 4

    http://www.spaceclimate.net/

    This is a guy who wrote a textbook on climate science that college students read. I suggest someone might want to forward these comments to his publisher and perhaps to some of the universities that “recommend” the book (VA Tech is one). His tirade is very revealing. I guess this is the kind of thing science is up against.

    His most unbelievable statement in the commentary is the following:

    “My mind is open.”

    As if.

  20. #20 Katharine
    October 13, 2010

    MarkB – which department? I’ll forward it to them.

  21. #21 Damian
    October 13, 2010

    Remember ‘Hal Lewis’, who resigned from the American Physical Society,
    http://climateprogress.org/2010/10/11/hal-lewis-resigns-from-the-american-physical-society/ ?

    The APS responded :-)
    http://www.aps.org/about/pressreleases/haroldlewis.cfm

    Apart from setting the record straight, the APS is also setting up a working group on physics and climate change.

  22. #22 Katharine
    October 13, 2010

    That dude is chair of the PRINCETON physics department?

    I knew Princeton was the screwball in the Ivies.

  23. #23 MarkB
    October 13, 2010

    Katharine,

    VA Tech Climate Change

    Rapp’s book is the first in “Selected library resources”.

    I’m not sure it’s enough to point to an extreme tirade. The argument would be that someone can go off their rocker from time to time but write a good book. This isn’t a good book though. It’s got its own citation problems.

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2010/10/auditing-assessing-climate-change.html

    But mainly, it presents a very slanted inaccurate view of climate science that relies heavily on the Wegman Report, blogs, and other poor sources. Maybe the Rapp tirade would cause them to take a closer look.

  24. #24 Dave E
    October 13, 2010

    Re: 205 – Interesting that two of the leading “climate dissidents” at APS are Bob Austin and Will Happer… both of whom are in Curt Callan’s department at Princeton. I wonder if any of their opposition may be grounded in internal departmental politics, as much as in real issues over science.

  25. #25 John Mashey
    October 13, 2010

    re: #205, #207

    Callan is just fine.

    Happer and Austin are NAS members, tenured.
    Happer is a long-time Board member of the George C. Marshall Institute, and has been Chairman since 2006.

    I don’t think it has anything to do with Princeton politics, and Princeton is mostly pretty sensible, I have friends there.

    If you want to know more about these guys, read my 2009 piece on the APS petition, including the demographics (old guys, some angry), in which Happer & Austin were 2 of the organizers, and each has an entry.

    (Note: Happer and Austin have me on their Very bad List.)

  26. #26 V. infernalis
    October 13, 2010

    @Catherine,

    Oh FSM, why is it always an engineer?

    (Not to malign engineers who are sane, but seriously, this is a variant of the Salem Hypothesis in action.)

    I’d never heard of the Salem Hypothesis before . . . I’ll have to add that to my quiver of Internet debate terms alongside Poe’s Law and Godwin’s Law.

    I wonder if it has something to do with the way engineers are taught? Do they see science as received wisdom – an orthodoxy rather than a way of thinking – and take this as an invitation to be heterodoxical?

  27. #27 Lotharsson
    October 13, 2010

    > Ah, love the engineering of quick goal-post-shifting.

    I don’t see any goalpost shifting. I think you misread the analogy.

    1st leg: Engineer signs off on scientific claims citing his engineering qualifications as scientific credentials

    vs

    2nd leg: Scientist signs off on engineering claims (citing his scientific qualifications as engineering credentials)

    > Go look at the Oregon petition.

    > Go look for any name on there that has faced fall-out.

    That is precisely the first leg of the analogy, which does not address:

    > I wonder what would happen to me if I used my signature to certify an engineering report, claiming that I was an engineer?

    which is the second leg of the analogy.

  28. #28 RealSkeptic
    October 14, 2010

    Re: 206

    >VA Tech Climate Change

    The Rapp book needs removed from the VA Tech selected reading list immediately. I don’t think VA Tech would want plagiarized material on their reading list! Does anybody on this forum have a VA Tech connection? I’m sure they will remove it if they are told that it contains plagiarized material.

    Rapp’s self-aggrandizing quote made me laugh out loud.

    >”I, being both a scientist and an accomplished system engineer, have demonstrated a rare talent to move into a field, read hundreds of papers and dozens of books, and assimilate them into a synoptic, comprehensive overview of the entire field.”

    But he’s so gullible and incompetent that he lapped up Wegman’s barf and thought it was so good that he pretended it was his own creation! Such a rare talent.

  29. #29 Bart Verheggen
    October 14, 2010

    While serious issues have surfaced regarding the Wegman report, I think this could potentially backfire, since it seems the kind of game that “skeptics” usually play. Attacking them with their own weapons may not be how we’re gonna win the war.

    The main problem as I see it is the bias and misrepresentation in the Wegman report rather than the plagiarism per se. That seems to be getting lost in some outlets. And the pushback is already being organized: http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/1301868857/perhaps-the-best-way-to-honor-bradleys-newfound

    See also http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/skeptic-gate-wegman-gate-copy-gate-everything-gate-gate-gate/

  30. #30 chek
    October 14, 2010

    It seems to me Bart that the ‘sceptics’ are trying to define the issue with their adoption of the ‘copygate’ meme which attempts to minimise it to some dull academic procedural crediting violation that nobody especially cares about.

    As John Mashey explains at comment [#147](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/10/wegman_scandal_gmu_investigate.php#comment-2854543) the important issue is the evidence of an organised campaign (and I’m avoiding the ‘C’ word) to mislead Congress. That’s the real meat.

  31. #31 J Bowers
    October 14, 2010

    Re. 212. Bart, as Nature put it, it’s a streetfight. If a gang are going to fight increasingly dirtier and more vicious then at some point they’ll ride the ambulance, too. Inhofe, Limbaugh, Barton, Cuccinelli, to name but a few, are bringing baseball bats and pickaxe handles to what should actually be a lively debate over a few beers; Cuccinelli especially is playing for keeps, and his baseball bat has nails in it. Those guys don’t seem to know when to stop, when they’re just plain wrong, or, if they do, then that just makes it worse because they have motives that can’t be reasoned with. The real fallout will be on the next generations.

  32. #32 Bart Verheggen
    October 14, 2010

    Chek, I agree that that’s an important issue. It’s inherently difficult to prove though.

    J Bowers, the question is if we want to engage them in the street. In the academic world, “we” have by far the better weapons (scientific understanding). In the street, arguably “they” are better prepared.

    Doesn’t “the art of war” already warn about only picking a fight that you stand a good chance of winning?

  33. #33 SteveC
    October 14, 2010

    @ Bart 212:

    If [IF] this is the same game that the anti-(climate) science movement is playing, so what? Why can’t “they” be made to wear the same sort of dung they’ve flung? As to “win the war”, no-one said it had to be a one-off once-and-for-all thing. Sometimes a number of small skirmishes strung together can make something.

    All that said, I think (FWIW) you’re rather underplaying the significance of the “serious issues … regarding the Wegman Report” – it is after all one of the lynchpins of the anti-climate science crew, the same mob who endlessly and monotonously repeat ‘climategate’ at every and any opportunity they can.

  34. #34 SteveC
    October 14, 2010

    @ Bart 215:

    the question is if we want to engage them in the street

    To the extent that the blogosphere = ‘the street’, then I think we’ve been engaged for some years. Otherwise, why do Joe Romm, Deltoid, Stoat, Keith Kloor, WTFUWT, McI and even your own blog (to name but a few) exist?

    But perhaps what you’re pointing at is not the climate subset of the blogosphere, but the MSM – and particularly the Murdoch-owned outlets. In that case, IMO any subtle (or even in your face) distinctions drawn between “bias and misrepresentation” and “plagiarism” in respect of Wegman are going to be lost amid the usual slag-fest whose inevitable conclusion is “It’s all a con” and “it’s one-world government” and “Al Gore!!!11!1″

  35. #35 J Bowers
    October 14, 2010

    Re. 215 Bart.

    Bart, to use Sun Tzu you need to assume there’s a general. That’s not the case, and there’s no grand strategy. I do disagree, though, that scientists can’t hold their own in a streetfight. Just because they’re not used to it doesn’t mean they can’t do it.

    Here’s one who could hold his own, played the game, but also knew the science inside out:
    http://www.soil.ncsu.edu/about/century/hugh.html

    And this is what happens when the school bullies are allowed to get away with it, and nobody else will stand up against them either:
    http://riskman.typepad.com/perilocity/2005/01/tsunami_smith.html

  36. #36 John Mashey
    October 14, 2010

    1)If people read the 1st page, and the Executive Summary of SSWR, plagiarism is maybe 10%, and p.34 has a long list of issues, many of which are way more serious.

    2) It’s simply the easiest to understand.

    3) Arguing about the science is playing defense.

    4) SSWR isn’t, because it actually caught some key people doing *actionable* wrongs that have serious consequences.

    5) The blogosphere is busy inventing and going on record with claims about plagiarism and copyright:

    a) Given with 100% certainty.

    b) Simply wrong, proving that they have no clue.

    In some cases, they don’t realize that certain arguments to make plagiarism go away turn material into FABRICATION, which is even worse…

    6) But again, plagiarism(and copyright in some cases) are only the tip of the iceberg … or more properly, the trigger of a fuel-air bomb, of which a helpful image can be found at Eli’s.

  37. #37 frank -- Decoding SwiftHack
    October 14, 2010

    J Bowers:

    Dr. Bennett’s example shows the importance of forging alliances, whether in ‘mainstream’ venues or in more unorthodox ones. The climate science communications scene can certainly learn from this, instead of having everyone do his own thing and fight silly turf wars.

  38. #38 Vince Whirlwind
    October 14, 2010

    Bennett:

    “It seems to take something like a disaster to awaken people who have been accustomed to great national prosperity, such as ours, to the presence of a national menace.”

    Sounds familiar!

    Bob Carter should read this. Or have his nurse read it to him.

  39. #39 Katharine
    October 14, 2010

    I’m going to email the Virginia Tech folks and direct them to Rapp’s website. Here’s an email. Indicate whether you’re a Virginia resident or not – they’ll listen to you.

    lener at vt dot edu

  40. #40 Katharine
    October 14, 2010

    Here’s the email I sent:

    Mr. Lener,

    I am a biology student who is planning to transfer to Virginia Tech and in addition a Virginia resident, and I have a vested interest in the quality of Virginia Tech’s education and resources.

    With that in mind, I would like to raise a problem:

    In your resources for climate change, linked at http://www.lib.vt.edu/subjects/sustainability/climate-change.html , there is a book called “Assessing Climate Change: Temperatures, Solar Radiation, and Heat Balance” by a man named Donald Rapp.

    This Dr. Rapp (who is approximately old enough and appears to have the same background as the individual who wrote this textbook) has a website at http://spaceclimate.net ; if you browse through the website, it is evident that not only is this man an individual who denies the conclusions found from data gotten from climatologists on climate change, especially with respect to anthropogenic global warming, but is also pretty much off his rocker otherwise.

    I suggest you evaluate his website. I would not be surprised if this seriously damages his credibility and the credibility of this resource.

    Thanks –

    name

  41. #41 Katharine
    October 14, 2010

    Someone else tell Lener it’s plagiarized; it might be weird if I send another email.

  42. #42 Katharine
    October 14, 2010

    I live 15 minutes down the street from GMU and may transfer there. I am not kidding. I live right down the street from where Wegman works. It’s pretty nuts.

    Actually, almost nobody has a fucking clue this is going on.

  43. #43 RealSkeptic
    October 15, 2010

    I predict that the discredited book by Donald Rapp will be off the VA Tech list very soon. You can’t get caught plagiarizing and expect to have your books recommended by educational institutions. And if you’re going to steal ideas and claim them as your own, at least steal them before they are mangled.

  44. #44 peterd
    October 15, 2010

    Katharine, #223:
    I had a quick look at Rapp’s website; thanks for the link. It’s amusing that Rapp professes not to care about DC’s comments while launching ad hominem attacks on “morons”, etc. I think Rapp doth protest too much. Nevertheless, I do not find the website wholly nutty. The piece about booms, bubbles and busts, with special reference to the USA, seems to me to contain much truth and is in line with the thinking of some left-wing commentators and economists (e.g., Richard Wolff- “Capitalism Hits the Fan”). Let’s keep his treatment of climate issues separate from the rest.

  45. #45 Stu N
    October 15, 2010

    Rapp’s website is like a mini-timecube.

    He’s definitely ‘gone emeritus’.

  46. #46 Wow
    October 15, 2010

    > I don’t see any goalpost shifting. I think you misread the analogy.

    I think you missed the original statement:

    > I wonder what would happen to me if I used my signature to certify an engineering report, claiming that I was an engineer?

    Certifying means saying “I agree with this report”. Just like the OP had signees who agreed with the report, none of whom (apart from the top few) created the report.

    Just signed “I agree”.

    Which was transformed into:

    > It seems like a prescription for fraud if non-engineers can approve plans by claiming to be engineers

    now no longer “agreeing that the report is good” but “creating a report as the author”.

  47. #47 Wow
    October 15, 2010

    > Wow, safety margins is different from unknowns

    If you know what is going to happen, why do you need a safety margin?

    Because there ARE unknowns.

    Maybe some who go through engineering are being brainwashed into thinking that this isn’t the case, in which case, there’s a reason for engineers themselves to put themselves toward this errant position of “Engineers would not countenance such uncertainties!”.

    But because they believe this to be true, doesn’t make it so.

  48. #48 Wow
    October 15, 2010

    PS:

    > Let’s take a bridge as an example, as you do, and order an engineer to work with a material for which we have no information on its ability to handle long-term strain

    But this isn’t the case with anything in climate either.

    Cloud feedbacks are not completely unknown, for example.

    You’re making up a strawman.

    Engineering completely owns the idea of uncertainties. It may be hidden in this idea of “safety margins” but it is still the same thing.

    See also: tolerances.

  49. #49 Katharine
    October 15, 2010

    Katharine, #223: I had a quick look at Rapp’s website; thanks for the link. It’s amusing that Rapp professes not to care about DC’s comments while launching ad hominem attacks on “morons”, etc. I think Rapp doth protest too much. Nevertheless, I do not find the website wholly nutty. The piece about booms, bubbles and busts, with special reference to the USA, seems to me to contain much truth and is in line with the thinking of some left-wing commentators and economists (e.g., Richard Wolff- “Capitalism Hits the Fan”). Let’s keep his treatment of climate issues separate from the rest.

    Eh.

    The site is primarily about climate, let’s treat it like a climate website.

  50. #50 Wow
    October 15, 2010

    > I don’t see any goalpost shifting. I think you misread the analogy.

    I don’t think so.

    Originally it was:

    > I wonder what would happen to me if I used my signature to certify an engineering report, claiming that I was an engineer?

    It was then changed by someone else to:

    > Are you telling me that if I signed off on an engineering design for a building

    Different things.

    Hence goal: shifted.

  51. #51 peterd
    October 15, 2010

    Katharine (#232); NO, the Rapp site is NOT “primarily about climate”. At the top it says it’s “a website dedicated to space exploration, climate change and other topics”. Have a look at the list of links at the bottom. Many (most?) of them link to topics on space science, which is not at all the same thing as climate science (though the two fields may overlap to some extent). Please, let’s be accurate.
    That said, I am sufficiently impressed by Rapp’s idiosyncratic interpretation of climate science and AGW to be moved to write my own private epistle to Rapp. I wonder whether I too will be called an “asshole” or “moron”.

  52. #52 John Mashey
    October 15, 2010

    A few more Rapp items:

    He is on staff of University of Southern California SERC, along with Joseph Kunc and Mike Gruntman, all 3 signers of Petition to the APS. Kunc was the thesis advisor for someone familiar to many here, Willie Soon.

    Recent Rapp:

    webpage with bio.

    spaceclimate (already discussed, here for completeness.

    Rapp comments to DC, edited.

    Rapp comments to DC, unedited

    The good stuff, a small sample:

    “The Internet provides a platform for all manner of donkeys to bray at will, hiding behind the cloak of anonymity provided by their use of pseudonyms. One particular egregious example is deepclimate.org, a weblog that specializes in moronic commentaries about climate change. The names and backgrounds of the followers and participants in deepclimate.org are unknown, and it seems likely that they may be mainly janitors, trash collectors and hash slingers, based on the idiotic comments that they send in. They subscribe to a belief system like a religion, and like all religious zealots, strike out at anyone with differing views.” (and much more)

    Rapp @ WUWT #1.

    Rapp @ WUWT #2.

    Rapp @ WUWT #3.

    Rapp @ WUWT #4

    Rapp @ WUWT #5.

    Rapp @ WUWT #6.

    Rapp at ClimateAudit, various comments.

    Actually, Rapp may deserve a new thread of his own, although some of this is weirdly interwined with GMU.

  53. #53 frank -- Decoding SwiftHack
    October 15, 2010

    The British denialists at the Global Warming Policy Foundation have responded to the Wegman scandal by outsourcing their ‘fact-checking’ work to Steve McIntyre:

    http://thegwpf.org/climategate/1693-steve-mcintyre-copygate.html

    Have fun.

  54. #54 frank -- Decoding SwiftHack
    October 15, 2010

    And here’s a totally useless he-said-she-said article on the Wegman scandal:

    http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2010/oct/15/ed-warm15-ar-563786/

  55. #55 V. infernalis
    October 15, 2010

    @237

    The commenter named “Follow_Facts” on that article sounds like either an acolyte of Judith Curry, or Curry herself. Nearly every post of his/hers refers to “post-normal science”.

  56. #56 adelady
    October 16, 2010

    I’m starting to think that “post-normal science” is going to keep on bobbing around like “hockey-stick”. You know, when your mate’s carefully cleaned the pool ready for the barby and there’s always, always some bit of grot that just won’t go away – it just resurfaces a couple of metres away.

  57. #57 Lotharsson
    October 16, 2010

    > Different things.

    True, and yet not **significantly** different *for the purpose of the analogy*…

  58. #58 TrueSceptic
    October 16, 2010

    235 John,

    I’m glad that you referenced the [Deep Climate post](http://deepclimate.org/2009/12/17/wegman-report-revisited/) that started all this. Originally DC noticed the text that appeared in both Wegman and Rapp, and speculated on the latter’s possible involvement in the former. DC quickly withdrew his suggestions but it was clear that something odd had gone on.

    Firstly, why did Rapp not simply explain the reason for the similarities? Had it been genuine, it would have been sufficient to embarrass DC. Rapp, however, did not do this. Instead, he said, in separate comments,

    Unfortunately it is 100% bogus

    It may be b”brilliant work” but it is all wrong.

    But 100% wrong

    If I can find out your name I will sue you for defamation of character. I never met Wegman, I never corresponded with him, I know nothing about him. I just found his report on the internet. This entire thing is bogus.

    This told us that Rapp is both unreasonable and nasty. Since then we have seen the following from [Rapp](http://deepclimate.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/rapp-comment-2010-01-01.pdf)

    Their belief system is the orthodoxy that global warming in the 20th century was entirely due to greenhouse gases, mainly CO2,

    This tells us that Rapp is either dishonest or incompetent, and certainly unfit to write a textbook on “Assessing Climate Change”. He also said

    I don’t know who the morons on deepclimate.org are. They mostly hide their true names and affiliations. Of the few that did appear to (perhaps unwittingly) reveal what appears to be their names, further use of Google suggested that they are ardent blog contributors with no technical expertise in climatology or indeed any other branch of learning.

    So, he’s much keener to spew vitriol and engage in extreme ad hominem attacks than to discuss the issues. It’s also worth reading his [other posts](http://www.spaceclimate.net/)

    No, Dr Rapp, I have no technical expertise in climatology, but many who disagree with you do. Moreover, you have no expertise in the subject either, and have demonstrated repeatedly that you are so blinkered and biased by both your arrogance and your ideology that you are unable to examine the subject impartially.

  59. #59 Bernard J.
    October 16, 2010

    Further to [John Mashey’s listing of Rapp’s comedy routine](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/10/wegman_scandal_gmu_investigate.php#comment-2860393), it now transpires that [I am not asking Zen-master Rapp the “right question”](http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/08/on-wegman-who-will-guard-the-guards-themselves/#comment-509151).

    Of course, to any rational person it would appear that the “right question” in Rapp’s world is one that Rapp wants to answer, rather than one that he is able to answer…

    For the sake of posterity, I’ve saved the page in case the moderators decide to adjust the record to remove the emeritus hot-air island effect…

  60. #60 TrueSceptic
    October 16, 2010

    242 Bernard,

    Rapp simply and uncritically repeats the denialist claims about the “hockey stick” like a demented (and angry) parrot.

    Your question is perfectly reasonable to any rational person.

  61. #61 John Mashey
    October 17, 2010

    Bernard J:
    If for some reason you keep finding yourself engaged with Rapp @ WUWT, kindly do me a favor, below:

    From #235, Rapp #1, he quotes Wegman as saying:

    “By the way, this is what Wegman had to say in a recent email: “It is my opinion that Dr. Rapp has not plagiarized anything and I hold him harmless” and claims that these are “wild conclusions that have nothing to do with reality”.”

    Does Rapp think Wegman has no problem at GMU?
    (He’s not likely to answer me, but maybe if you ask…)

    Ask him why

  62. #62 Bernard J.
    October 18, 2010

    [John Mashey](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/10/wegman_scandal_gmu_investigate.php#comment-2863098).

    Unfortunately I don’t think that I’ll be able to get anything sensible out of Rapp.

    For all that he is a self-vaunted savant, [his last reply](http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/08/on-wegman-who-will-guard-the-guards-themselves/#comment-509718) demonstrates a consistent inability – or a consistent refusal – to address straightforward questions.

    I suspect that actually engaging in a sensible discussion about the matters that Ragg has involved himself in, is far beyond the man’s ability.

  63. #63 TrueSceptic
    October 18, 2010

    245 Bernard,

    It’s a shame that your excellent questions and comments at WUWT are wasted on such an arrogant and ignorant bigot (and that applies to most of the inmates too).

  64. #64 John Mashey
    October 19, 2010

    re: 245 Bernard J

    Well, you made a noble try at getting something sensible, not possible.

    But, What I’m looking for isn’t sensible, it’s something else.
    If you were to ask him what I suggested, he might just post something interesting (although not sensible). When the dust settles, I will make sure you understand what was going on, trust me.

    Of course, it may be that someone else has told him to be quiet.

  65. #65 Bernard J.
    October 19, 2010

    [John](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/10/wegman_scandal_gmu_investigate.php#comment-2867541).

    I’ve [posted](http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/08/on-wegman-who-will-guard-the-guards-themselves/#comment-511388) your question directly below Rapp’s last ramble, so it’ll be interesting to see if it a) passes moderation, and b) returns a coherent response.

  66. #66 John Mashey
    October 19, 2010

    Bernard J:
    Thanks, low probability, but one can always hope.

  67. #67 John Mashey
    October 20, 2010

    BernardJ
    Well, Tim Curtin is now on record in that thread. Maybe that will encourage Rapp to reappear.

  68. #68 Bernard J.
    October 21, 2010

    [John](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/10/wegman_scandal_gmu_investigate.php#comment-2869626).

    Rapp did indeed [reappear](http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/08/on-wegman-who-will-guard-the-guards-themselves/#comment-512215).

    He gave a long speil, but provided no sensible reply.

    I’m starting to build a profile of the emeritus…

  69. #69 John Mashey
    October 21, 2010

    re: #251 Bernard J
    Thanks, good try.

    Meanwhile, I see T R C Curtin shows up to insult Deep Climate.

    Can’t Australia take him back? I tried to get British friends to take back an unwanted import to the US, namely a certain Viscount, but they refused. The best offer I got wa to split the difference, i.e., mid-Atlantic.

  70. #70 Michael
    October 21, 2010

    I think Donald is in to a touch of puffing up his CV.

    His comment at WUWT says that he wrote the 2003 NASA technology report. The report lists him as the editor. It is a slightly different thing, though I’m sure he’ll say it’s just a quibble.

  71. #71 John Mashey
    October 21, 2010

    Well, Bernard J’s noble efforts at WUWT have elicited something I hadn’t heard before:

    says:

    “Tim Curtin is a distinguished climatologist. I have profited from his papers and reports from his website.”

  72. #72 Wow
    October 21, 2010

    > I have profited from his papers and reports from his website.

    Doesn’t actually mean that they were accurate. Just profitable.

  73. #73 Stu N
    October 21, 2010

    >Tim Curtin is a distinguished climatologist. I have profited from his papers and reports from his website

    Ouch. Well, I can see why. Curtin starts out with the presupposition that all our polluting can only make nature a better place, and works from there. This viewpoint suits certain batshit insane ultra-conservatives.

  74. #74 Lee
    October 21, 2010

    So now Tim “acidification will make ocean waters fit for irrigation” Curtin is a “distinguished climatologist.”

    What a cesspit…

  75. #75 chek
    October 21, 2010

    Come now Lee, in the rigorously academic world where you can copy write an explanatory book having assimilated an entire field of science previously unknown to you as an author after some light reading up on the subject, it should come as no surprise to find that Mr. Tim “make mine a pint of seawater, barman” Curtin is a “distinguished climatologist”.

    This of course should not be news to any of Donald’s old fans who recall his previous strong showing in the [Summarise Proust Finals](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwAOc4g3K-g)

  76. #76 J Bowers
    October 21, 2010

    I just went to Tim Curtin’s website listing of his papers. I can’t find a single paper on climate.

    http://timcurtin.com/pub.htm

    I even rubbed my eyes, but, nope, no paper on climate. Has Donald Rapp mistaken one Tim Curtin for another? Or have I?

  77. #77 Country Member
    October 21, 2010

    Man, this site is fantasy land for true believers and zealots

    Could someone please explain to me what the heck Wegman was thinking when he plagiarised Bradley in a report to congress. I mean, what sort of fool would go to all that effort to paraphrase Bradley, when he could’ve skipped him and copied Fritts VERBATIM – Just like Bradley did.

    Methinks Bradley will end up being hoisted by his own petard. And that’s about as welcome a a fart in a spacesuit.

  78. #78 Country Member
    October 21, 2010

    Oh, sugar.

    It only just occurred to me many of you haven’t stepped outside this sandpit to see what’s going on in the real world. So you probably missed the brouhaha over at Climate Fraudit, as you like to call it. Stevie Mac has dug up a whole lota trouble for your boy Bradley.

    Now would be a good time to school yourself up with what’s going down.

  79. #79 Nathan
    October 21, 2010

    Country Member

    Methinks youhave been led astray by McIntyre.

    It’s actually perfectly normal (and resaonable) to copy things verbatim (I assume you mean the Figures here). And reference them. I couldn’t find a figure in that book that wasn’t copied from somewhere else. The publlishers has permission to do so. Have you ever read a textbook?

  80. #80 elspi
    October 21, 2010

    Apparently the “Country” this “Member” (cue beavis and buthead) is from doesn’t teach the difference between plagiarism and quoting in school.

  81. #81 Gaz
    October 21, 2010

    Ah that old one-liner from a parliamentary joust years ago…

    Comment – “I’m a country member!”

    Reply – “Yes, we remember.”

  82. #82 chek
    October 21, 2010

    Poor old Country Member.

    You know that scene in Kill Bill 2 where Thurman and Hannah have the sword fight in Madsen’s trailer home that culminates in Kiddo plucking out Driver’s remaining eye, leaving her flailing and falling about and furiously lashing out in utter futility at thin air?

    That’s Steve, that is.

  83. #83 Derecho64
    October 21, 2010

    Has anyone looked at Wegman’s FB page besides me?

  84. #84 J Bowers
    October 21, 2010

    Derecho64, just to say well done at NS so far ;)

  85. #85 jakerman
    October 22, 2010

    Check, do you mean that one-eyed Steve is now reduced to [flailing about](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ki42ZSIJjaU) as blind Mac?

  86. #86 Country Member
    October 22, 2010

    Chek baby,

    Kill Bill 2? Sorry no. Tarantino is such self-indulgent, psudeo-intelectual pap.

    What’s next? References to Avatar?

    ROFL

  87. #87 Stu N
    October 22, 2010

    >psudeo-intelectual

    Would you like to have another crack at that? The impact of your dismissive faux-film critic act is lessened by your elementary spelling mistakes.

  88. #88 Country Member
    October 22, 2010

    h m Gd! spllng mstk!

  89. #89 chek
    October 22, 2010

    Actually two mistakes CM, which together with your faithfully parroted flailings from McIntyre as an attempted distraction from Wegman’s falsified report, brings you up to three strikes within three posts.
    Impressive!

    I should add I’ve never heard Tarantino accused of being an intellectual of any sort including the pseudo kind before, although he is of course well on his way to being a master of his craft.

  90. #90 J Bowers
    October 22, 2010

    Tarantino? So used to using straw men, these pseudo-sceptics. He never pretended to be an intellectual.

    I had a lot of intellectual ideas, like wouldn’t it be great if this character bumped into that character? A lot of it was kind of cool, but if it just worked in a cool, fun, intellectual way, ultimately I ended up not using it. It had to work emotinally.
    — Quentin Tarantino interviewed by Gerald Peary

    As for Avatar, who cares what you think at the end of the day? Most people love it, and it’s seen one of the most return viewings by not just cult fans but the general public.

  91. #91 Bernard J.
    October 28, 2010

    Heh, I only just realised that Donald Rapp has been organising for Watts or one of the other mods to sanitise his posts.

    I’ve commented on the matter, and in the anticipation that I might at some point be completely expunged from the thread, I’ve archived my last posting, [here](http://backupurl.com/xqspmi). To their credit though, the folk at WUWT haven’t yet pulled the pin on me.

    I really hope that Rapp comes back for more, because I want to ask him again on what basis he made the claim that Tim Curtin is a “distinguished climatologist”.

  92. #92 John Mashey
    October 28, 2010

    re: #274 Bernard J

    You are doing noble work.

  93. #93 Gaz
    October 28, 2010

    My comment made it through moderation at WTFUWT:

    Tim Curtin is a distinguished expert in proportional rates of change.

    Perhaps the implied reference to TC’s difficulties with the concept on [this thread (see from around comment #228 onward)](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/03/tim_curtin_thread.php) was a bit subtle.

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