Yet more Wegman plagiarism

Said and Wegman 2009 does contain original and accurate material. Alas, the original material is not accurate and the accurate material is plagiarised, mostly from Wikipedia. Deep Climate has the details:

This paper is the fifth major work that I have analyzed from Wegman and Said. From the 2006 Wegman report to Congress, up to this year’s “Colour Theory and Design”, so much of Wegman and Said’s recent work demonstrates extreme reliance on unattributed antecedents, as well as numerous errors and incompetent analysis.

Wegman did not reply to USA Today’s Dan Vergano request for a comment.

Andrew Gelman piles on:

It’s almost as if English is not Wegman’s first language, or as if he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and trying very very carefully not to make any mistakes. Or as if he didn’t write it at all . . . but that can’t be! His name is on the article (he’s the second author, behind the less-celebrated Yasmin Said), so I can only assume he has fully read the article and takes responsibility for its content.

John Mashey:

a) My modest formal O.R. background was long ago, and the article was obviously a weird mishmash on first read, even it me.

b) I showed it to someone whose PhD was in optimization decades ago, whose first reaction was “some poor rehash of Hillier&Lieberman?”

c) I sent it to a real O.R. expert at a leading university, who found so many problems in the first few pages that he stopped there.


  1. #1 Michael
    October 12, 2011

    Mann’s current difficulties – zilch.

    Other than having enough time to continue his copius production of high quality research.

    Wegman, OTOH, – “difficulties” is serious understatement.

    All respondents must keep in mind that our visitors from ‘Bishop Dill’ spent the entire ‘Mashey’ thread being critical of those who expose plagiarism and defending/excusing the perpetrators of plagiarism.

    ‘Nuff said.

  2. #2 Richard Simons
    October 12, 2011

    Barry @75

    Good, we’re all (mostly) agreed that the extended critique of Wegman et al is political in nature (while scholarly in form).

    I think you and GSW (who doesn’t count) are the only ones here who are trying to turn this into political action, although perhaps you could also include Wegman, who made it a political issue in the first place by presenting a flawed report to the House Committee.


    Who ‘normally’ does this auditing?

    Anyone who is interested. Any decent scientist, when reading a paper, will automatically conduct their own audit, checking the information given against their own experience and expectations and for internal consistency. That is how I noticed, for example, that a paper had switched the effects of phosphorus and potassium.

    In the past, people would publish take-down papers, letters, notes, etc in scientific journals or give papers at conferences (which can get very vociferous). These days, the internet is often used instead.

    As for the ‘best’ outcome, I basically agree with Chris.

  3. #3 Richard Simons
    October 12, 2011

    A former colleague who moved to Canada from Wales said he and three others, one from the West Indies, one from India and the third from China, were in a small-town cafe in Georgia. A customer joined his friends at the next table and said “Who are they?” indicating my colleagues. “I don’t know”, said another, “but they must be Canadian.”

  4. #4 Richard Simons
    October 12, 2011

    Sorry – that comment was intended for a completely different site. I’ve no idea how it got here. I’d visited about 6 other sites in the interim.

  5. #5 John Mashey
    October 12, 2011

    re: 95 Katharine

    I’m sorry, but…

    See SIGMU.

    Read all p.17 (which has the same names, plus a few more, as Wegman has had several departmental affiliations and therefore several Deans). With possible exception of one Dean/DH pair, everybody there has to be involved, including the GMU Asst Attorney General Mancure.

    p.24: The original complaint went to President Merten, so either he just passed it along and then ignored it, or he knows all about it.

    As for possible reasons for this:

    a) read p.16.

    b) Finally, SPECULATION, NO DATA.

    There is one really weird possibility. p.33 has Wegman’s Facebook lament in August 2010. IF they blocked him from mentoring grad students without following due process, he might well have grounds for a lawsuit against GMU. Maybe the academics who read this can comment.

  6. #6
    October 12, 2011

    Critics mix politics with science, and they have rightly and consistently been condemned for this.

    Wrong and fundamentally stupid and intellectually dishonest.

    But before I try to make my case further

    Talk about “fulsome”.

  7. #7
    October 12, 2011

    Do you see the difference GSW? Wegman, Cucchinelli et al’s attempts at bullying are “dirt”. Mashey et al’s presentations might be said to be highlighting “dirt”. It takes a rather herioc effort at reality avoidance not to see that these are entirely different!

    As I have noted, lying is the only strategy that denialati like GSW have, so fabricating, and ignoring inconvenient truths, is really quite easy for them; it is only for those committed to truth that it is difficult.

  8. #8
    October 12, 2011

    “politics: the complex or aggregate of relationships of people in society, esp those relationships involving authority or power”

  9. #9
    October 12, 2011

    I agree “As I have noted, lying is the only strategy that denialati like GSW have, so fabricating, and ignoring inconvenient truths, is really quite easy for them; it is only for those committed to truth that it is difficult.”

  10. #10 John Mashey
    October 12, 2011

    re: 98
    [Firefox+Greasemonkey+KILLFILE work here, as I’ve often, so in some threads I only see some of the comments.]

    This is not about politics, it is about defending science and scientists from political attacks, of which the Barton/Whitfield/Wegman attack was just one part of a long campaign that I’ve studied. See items 1) 2) and especially 3) here. The WR issues were a small fraction (the “newshook”) in item 3), which tracked 20+ years of political attacks on climate science.
    (At some point, I’ll return to this, but meanwhile, look up Roger Clemens, 18USC1011 and related felonies. There are far worse potential penalties for some people than article retraction and funding disabarment.)

    Of course, the defense of academe’s “brand” against dishonesty and politics is more than enough reason for people to get involved, including quite a few with zero connection with climate science. We’ve gotten a *lot* of help from such people behind the scenes.

    Good academics *hate* FFP. When I was teaching Operating Systems (PSU CMPSC 411) 40 years ago, I told students Day One that this class would be a lot of work, but if they did it, they’d learn a lot. (The class was normally rated #1 in the “too much work” category … but in post-graduation surveys, it normally rated #1 for most useful course, maintaining my faith that honest students were OK.)
    I also told them that every term, a few students tried to cheat and copy term projects, and if they did, I’d give them an F, which I did. Sometimes they’d try to argue, at which point I’d produce the detailed documentation, and that was that.

    Honest students used to tell me afterwards how glad they were that I did this, because they’d worked really hard for their grades, they knew who wasn’t working very hard (because, this was card-deck era, and students knew who was in the computer center day and night, and who wasn’t.)

    That was 40 years ago. Computer folks might be familiar with SPEC, of which I was one of the cofounders. Different arena, same principle … an almost everyone reading this online is using a computer designed iin aprt with SPEC benchmarks geared to lessen cheating.

  11. #11 barry
    October 13, 2011


    “I think you and GSW (who doesn’t count) are the only ones here who are trying to turn this into political action”

    I think there is a consensus on that notion here;

    “although perhaps you could also include Wegman, who made it a political issue in the first place by presenting a flawed report to the House Committee.”

    Certainly. I thought it went without saying. Steve McIntyre, Joe Barton and Ed Whitfiled (to name a few) made it a political issue, and Wegman et al abetted that with shoddy work.

  12. #12 ianam
    October 13, 2011

    Different arena, same principle

    But don’t expect Mr. idee fixe to apologize for his scurrilous charges against you (e.g., “it begins to look more like a vendetta than rational enquiry”) for upholding this principle.

  13. #13 ianam
    October 13, 2011

    Going back to this:

    It seems to me that an academic flensing of specific material has evolved into a partisan agenda born of impatience.

    This is really such a stupid comment and consists purely of projection. barry has made it clear that he cares about only one thing — e.g., “specific material” and “I am sure that Mashey’s and DC’s work is solid. I used to read it fairly attentively up until they shifted focus”. That is “a partisan agenda” … when Mashey pursues academic malfeasance beyond climate science, barry loses interest other than to come up with the most incredibly idiotic objections (no wonder GSW shares them).

    I think it matters how the discourse is conducted.

    Yeah, how’s your method (accusing John Mashey of vendettas, partisanship, and tribalism here) working out for you, bar?

  14. #14 ianam
    October 13, 2011

    shoddy work

    Is that how you characterize FFP, barry? Merely of low quality?

  15. #15 GSW
    October 13, 2011

    Sorry All O/T, but ianam’s last post reminded me.

    “It seems to me that an academic flensing of specific material has evolved into a partisan agenda born of impatience.”

    I wasn’t too clear about barry’s use of the word ‘flensing’ so I googled it – The urban dictionary gave two possible definitions;

    Flensing: Throwing your shoulders back in an effort to hide your man-boobs during sex.

    Flensing: The act of Jiggling a woman’s breasts without her consent. Especially if her shirt has been ripped off or soaked in water.

    Obviously, trying to relate this to subject at hand was a problem, academic or not, there is no place for this sort of stuff on the internet.

  16. #16 ianam
    October 13, 2011

    The urban dictionary

    GSW’s primary source of information, apparently.

  17. #17 Bernard J.
    October 13, 2011

    >I wasn’t too clear about barry’s use of the word ‘flensing’ so I googled it – The urban dictionary gave two possible definitions…

    It seems that GSW’s capacity for vocabulary research is of the same pitifully inadequate level as is his capacity for understanding scientific research.

    Barry, at what point is it exactly that you claim that Mashey and DC became “political” rather than “academic” in their investigations? By way of contrast, when in the process were the denialists “academic”, and when were they “political”?

  18. #18 GSW
    October 13, 2011


    Sorry chaps, just made me laugh that’s all. Not as amusing as watching you guys argue your case/justify your hypocrisy admittedly, but some entertainment nevertheless.


  19. #19 Rattus Norvegicus
    October 13, 2011

    GSW, for more information on flensing, read “Moby Dick”. You might learn something — besides it’s a rollicking good read!

  20. #20 SteveC
    October 13, 2011


    Well done, did you look that one up in a dictionary too? Can you remember what the word meant?

  21. #21 John Mashey
    October 13, 2011

    Tim’s original post was about academic misconduct of the most bizarre kind, which astonishes my academic friends.
    None of that post or this has anything to do with Mann, Barton, etc … Debunking the WR was defending science from political attack, this one is just defending academic publishing’s brand from {ego? greed? craziness? beats me.)

    How odd that some people want to talk about anything except this topic. (“Look! a squirrel!” or Al Gore (I’m surprised he hasn’t been dragged in :-), even more extraneously than usual.)

    Two Editors-in-Chief (Wegman & Said) wrote two articles for their own journal, which they proclaim is peer-reviewed. Serious folks might read author’s guide, p.12:
    “Our editorial process starts with the review of your manuscript by qualified experts in the field and by the WIREs: Computational Statistics editors. We will pass reviewers’ comments on to you and request that you make any necessary changes. In addition, we will discuss with you any editorial changes that may be necessary.
    In some cases the reviewers will have no comments, and the manuscript will be processed for composition. In other cases, reviewers’ and our own editorial comments will give rise to further correspondence. The Editors reserve the right to cut, to request more information from the author, to revise, and in some cases, to add publicly available material. If the Editors’ changes are extensive, you will have an opportunity to review the changes before the manuscript is sent for production.”

    See also Wiley touting this journal.

    W&S may have a different idea of peer-review than most. See SSWR, pp.49-60.

    Both articles were massively-plagiarized pieces hacked together from other sources.

    Said maintained a false rank (professor) and affiliation (Oklahoma State) for nearly 2 years.

    The 3rd Co-editor, David Scott, has published 6 articles of his own in this journal, and in fact, about 25% of the total articles are by the Editors, their students or other coauthors/close colleagues. Many of these may be just fine, others might make one wonder. About 25% of the articles are by the editors, their students and their coauthors. Many look like reasonable articles, but some make one wonder a bit.
    Has *anyone* ever heard of another case like this? I’d love to hear of examples.

  22. #22 ianam
    October 13, 2011

    @John Mashey

    “barry” thinks that it’s “disingenuous” or “misguided” to think that you actually care about academic misconduct per se.

  23. #23 ianam
    October 13, 2011

    Rather than respond to arguments (e.g., that to distinguish between Mann and Wegman is not hypocrisy because the charges against the former are false whereas the charges against the latter are true), he merely expresses his amusement at their being made, and then repeats his charge. Imagine how science would have progressed had that been its standard of discourse. Even Jonas N does better. GSW contributes nothing of value, rather being a purely disruptive influence … a troll who considers this his playground. I urge Tim to treat him appropriately.

  24. #24 dhogaza
    October 14, 2011

    GSW’s whale of a fuck-up regarding the meaning of “flensing” pretty much sums up his ability to contribute positively to any conversation between grown-ups …

  25. #25 Rattus Norvegicus
    October 14, 2011

    This is far O/T but may be of interest to JM and Tim.

    Dennis Ritchie, one of the inventors of “C” and the Unix operating system, died recently. In the wake (excuse the pun) of the great adapter Steve Jobs death, the death of a true innovator, whose inventions powered the development of the internet, has gone virtually unnoticed.

  26. #26 John Mashey
    October 14, 2011

    BTW, Retraction Watch offers good examples of the range of retractions:

    Good: Two from PNAS.
    “Given all of that, Lipardi — who worked for Paterson at the NIH until joining Merck recently – should get credit for two things:

    One, this is a very detailed retraction notice. There’s really no doubt that this was an honest error.

    Two, they seem to have done everything they could to try to prove their results wrong the first time around — a hallmark of good science — and yet still had to retract the paper. That can’t have been easy to swallow.”

    Bad: That’s a Mori! Seven more retractions brings latest count to 30

    People make honest mistakes, but finding them and retracting maintains their reputations for honesty, but obvious serious misconduct = trouble in academe, which cares about its reputation overall.

    ianam: KILLFILE works.

  27. #27 ianam
    October 14, 2011

    has gone virtually unnoticed

    It would seem so. I spent several decades as a Unix systems developer and C programmer (I even worked for someone whom John Mashey had earlier worked for) and this is the first I’ve heard of it. Good grief.

  28. #28 John Mashey
    October 14, 2011

    re: 118
    OT, but yes, Dennis was an old friend, and I’d heard this yesterday from Doug McIlroy.
    See this for how Dennis, Steve Bourne and I evolved my PWB stuff into UNIX V7’s environment variables. Dennis in particular suggested the idea of just making them a 2nd argument list, which kept most of it out of the kernel and kept simple semantics.

    Fortunately, Dennis got Computer History Fellow Award a while back, among others.

    While sad, I’d like to remember that Dennis had fun, as with Rob Pike in this prank on Arno.

    Dennis has already been covered by NPR and is getting lots of other press, as he should.

    But, while Dennis and Steve were about as far apart as you could get in personality and nature of accomplishments, honoring DMR takes nothing from Steve. Both were great, just in very different directions. Of course, it is interesting that the iPhone runs a UNIX-derivative with apps written in a C+Smalltalk derivative.

    But, this should probably go to another thread.

  29. #29 ianam
    October 14, 2011

    I actually ported PWB to VAX/VMS while working for Heinz Lycklama and Ted Dolotta (but not at Bell Labs).

  30. #30 ianam
    October 14, 2011

    Oh, and sort of in the vicinity of the topic, Heinz Lycklama, “PhD in Nuclear Physics” (it seems that he obtained one in 1969, before embarking on his computing career), offers his “analysis” of global warming as an “independent scientist” at . Not surprisingly, his “analysis produced some surprising results”.

    Heinz also has the distinction of having his own page at the [Creation Wiki](

  31. #31 Eric Lund
    October 14, 2011

    John Mashey @115 asks: About 25% of the articles are by the editors, their students and their coauthors. Many look like reasonable articles, but some make one wonder a bit. Has anyone ever heard of another case like this? I’d love to hear of examples.

    There was one case where the editor of an Elsevier mathematics journal was either fired or forced to resign after reports emerged that he had been publishing at a disproportionate rate in his own journal (I don’t recall the exact fraction) and that several of those papers were dubious. In that case, as with the W&S retraction, Elsevier seems to have moved with reasonable speed to clean up the situation once they were made aware of the problem: the editor in question left the journal about three months after reports about this editor’s publication record started circulating on the internet. Also, to my knowledge nobody has claimed that the editor in question did not actually write those papers.

    I agree that having such a large fraction of papers authored by the editors or their close associates in a journal that’s more than a year or two old is a red flag. (I would expect a brand-new journal to draw heavily from the editors and their close associates, since the editors would want people to submit to their journal, and they would tell their friends first.)

  32. #32 chek
    October 14, 2011

    GSW @ #109 there is no place for this sort of stuff on the internet.

    … and that from the Jonases’ chief fluffer.

  33. #33 bluegrue
    October 14, 2011

    > The Editors reserve the right to cut, to request more information from the author, to revise, and in some cases, to add publicly available material.

    “___add publicly available material___” at the editor’s discretion?!?!? Note that the author has no say in this, unless the change is substantial. This is Wiley boilerplate found in the instructions for other journals, as well, but this is the first time I come across something like this. How common is this?

  34. #34 Rattus Norvegicus
    October 14, 2011
  35. #35 P. Lewis
    October 16, 2011

    It seems to me that blogging on any new Wegman and/or Said unattributed cut & paste jobs from Wikipedia and from other sources, whilst not of itself counterproductive and of no mean value, seems to have little impact on the glacial stasis of GMU’s procedural activities in this matter (which is not to say that other examples, should they exist, shouldn’t be brought to the attention of GMU’s investigative committee and the plagiarised, and then blogged about perhaps after a suitable interval).

    I don’t think Wegman and/or Said could be hurt more now by any new revelations (their reputations surely lie in ruins — or ultimately will anyway), but the perceived lack of activity on GMU’s part is a different matter. It is this perceived lack of progress and why this is that should be the issue.

    So, it seems to me that GMU should be the focus. Why shouldn’t retiring GMU President Alan Merten not be asked to comment? Who is to be his replacement? Why should they not be put in the spotlight on this? Why not the VPs, the Provost, and the Deans too?

    Has mention been made of this affair in the student rag, Broadside?

    What about the senators of GMU’s Student Government?

    Are they all complicit in the silence and perceived lack of progress towards a resolution?

  36. #36 John Mashey
    October 16, 2011

    re: #130

    Journalists are getting more interested in GMU.

    Nature of course “encouraged” them to move faster.

    Various editors of Broadside have been informed over the last year or so, but I can’t honestly say that it would be positive for a student editor to run a story (just as I’ve advised Katharine here to be careful.)

    I hear this through a back-channel:
    “what I have learned from the reasonable people at GMU that makes me…almost despair. There are a great number of them, but for the most part incredulity/outrage has given way to resignation.”

    I’ve also heard other interesting stories of GMU that I can’t repeat, which I’d summarize by saying there a lot of skeletons in the Wegman/Said/GMU closet who are banging on the door wanting out.

    Right now of course, one issue is in Wiley’s

  37. #37 P. Lewis
    October 17, 2011

    I’m slightly heartened by the ‘journalists’ comment JM, but only just. Unless there is an overarching back story, such as one involving wider corruption or political shenanigans, then I can’t at this time see this leading to a “positive outcome”. Dan Vergano’s piece of 5/10/2011 in USA Today doesn’t appear to have borne fruit on the stonewalling by GMU, so will anything? But perhaps I’m being overly pessimistic and there’s a back story that’s falling into place.

    And whereas I can understand Broadside not wishing to upset the local applecart, I think it’s long past the time that Nature should have revisited their previous editorial in view of the WIREs “problem”. But perhaps there’s been contact with Wiley and there are reasons for keeping quiet for the moment.

    Both the above instances are extremely frustrating. Are there things afoot that the general public can’t know about yet, for example? Or is it that the stonewall defence is nigh on impregnable?

    Anyway, it seems to me that any GMU student found guilty of transgressing their ‘Honor Code’ (particularly in this context with regard to its plagiarism aspect) might have grounds for kicking up an unholy stink. Have any students at GMU been failed for plagiarism?

    I suppose it would be unfair to say ‘GMU, the place where students may be failed on account of plagiarism but staff can seemingly get away with it by stretching the investigation until their retirement date’, would it? So I won’t say it.

  38. #38 Joihn Mashey
    October 17, 2011

    The nature of all this is that whether or not some problem is published, to report it privately to some entity and give them a reasonable chance to handle it via their own processes, which sometimes legitimately take a while.

    Some entities have responded promptly, others haven’t, but it takes a while to know the latter, and sooner or later, people do get tired waiting and are willing to start talking about it.

    Actually, the journalist comment is not so much heartening, as indicative of a large gulf between the faculty and admin. Again, the whole top people of GMU admin has to know about this. But there is a lot going on that is not public, yet.

  39. #39 ligne
    October 17, 2011

    is it possible that the slow progress is in fact due to said skellingtons in the closet requiring a lot of attention (and much placation with delicious brains)?

    either way, it’s good to know that this embarrassing tale is finally starting to attract the attention it truly deserves. well done for not letting this story die!

  40. #40 P. Lewis
    October 18, 2011

    I don’t particularly like unattributed sources, but perhaps it’s time for a few them in press stories. Maybe ‘a source close to the enquiry’ said …, ‘a source in GMU admin’ said…, ‘a source in GMU’s Dept of Statistics’ said, or even ‘a source close to Professor Wegman’ said…

    And as ligne said, keep up the good work DC and JM.

  41. #41 Lesley
    November 2, 2011

    Fantastic post I very much enjoyed it, keep up the good work.

New comments have been disabled.