A Few Things Ill Considered

Experts claim 2006 climate report plagiarized

The wheels continue to fall off the Wegman Report.

“It kind of undermines the credibility of your work criticizing others’ integrity when you don’t conform to the basic rules of scholarship,” Virginia Tech plagiarism expert Skip Garner says.

Further down:

Allegations under review

“The matter is under investigation,” says GMU spokesman Dan Walsch by e-mail. In a phone interview, Wegman said he could not comment at the university’s request. In an earlier e-mail Wegman sent to Joseph Kunc of the University of Southern California, however, he called the plagiarism charges “wild conclusions that have nothing to do with reality.”

The plagiarism experts queried by USA TODAY disagree after viewing the Wegman report:

• “Actually fairly shocking,” says Cornell physicist Paul Ginsparg by e-mail. “My own preliminary appraisal would be ‘guilty as charged.’ ”

•”If I was a peer reviewer of this report and I was to observe the paragraphs they have taken, then I would be obligated to report them,” says Garner of Virginia Tech, who heads a copying detection effort. “There are a lot of things in the report that rise to the level of inappropriate.”

•”The plagiarism is fairly obvious when you compare things side-by-side,” says Ohio State’s Robert Coleman, who chairs OSU’s misconduct committee.

But plagarism is not the worst or most relevant problem. Apparently, far from an independent review of the “Hockey Stick”, Wegman simply reproduced the critique from McIntyre replete with errors addressed in follow on peer reviewed papers, papers Wegman did not cite.

My take on the Hockeystick wars remains unchanged: probably used suboptimal statistical methods but that was not relevant to the final results. These results have been confirmed by all manner of other studies using all manner of methods and data. Temperatures 1000 years ago are not central to the case for man made climate change today.

Comments

  1. #1 mandas
    November 23, 2010

    I think this whole issue highlights the extreme difference between the science side of the debate, and the denialist side.

    There are strong parallels between the Wegman report and the emails stolen from CRU. In both cases, the real issue should have been about what was actually in the documents; ie do they reveal some sort of scientific fraud, etc. But they have become more about the process.

    The big difference is how they are being treated. The stolen emails went viral straight away, and became front page news and were held up as supposedly revealing flaws in the science – despite not doing so. And in the aftermath where the scientists involved were completely vindicated of any wrong doing, not one blogger or newspaper has admitted their error. It seems denialists can throw mud and it will stick and can not be washed off.

    In the case of the Wegman report, it is only being discussed quietly on the blogosphere, and the mainstream media has not picked it up at all to any degree. And despite the fact that there clearly was fraud involved (well, academic fraud anyway) the authors will still be held up as a bastion of integrity by those with political viewpoints about AGW over-ride their scientific viewpoints.

    I think it speaks volumes for the integrity and ethics of the people involved.

  2. #2 Juice
    November 23, 2010

    The Wegman report just used suboptimal citation methods.

  3. #3 pough
    November 23, 2010

    And in the aftermath where the scientists involved were completely vindicated of any wrong doing, not one blogger or newspaper has admitted their error.

    They simply claimed that the vindication was also corrupt.

  4. #4 John Mashey
    November 24, 2010

    Plagiarism is merely the easiest piece for most people to see and understand. SSWR documented numerous errors, changes of meaning, biases pervading the WR, and pointed out there actually was *no* serious new statistical analysis, i.e., rerunning the code doesn’t do it.

    DC had already been busy digging in on that, and then discovered the horrific cherry-pick … sampling from 1% picked to support you. If you wanted to prove human males average 6’6″, a good way to do it is to take a sample from those you just happen to find on an NBA basketball court.

    BUT, really the plagiarism is just the tip of the iceberg, and people are *way* underestimating what’s going on behind the scenes. Also, let us say that I certainly don’t know everything on this, but I do know a lot that is not yet published. Some will be … and there is *worse to come*.

  5. #5 skip
    November 24, 2010

    Thanks for popping in, John.

    Do you have any intelligence on the extent to which your detailed document of the matter has been the centerpiece or not of the investigation?

    I am assuming so but wondering.

  6. #6 John Mashey
    November 27, 2010

    Skip:
    1) Well, so far, in terms of what’s in the press, the centerpiece would be the collection of plagiarism posts from Deep Climate, especially:
    a) The ones of Bradley and
    b) The SNA section

    Despite various confusions of attribution (people have confused me and Deep Climate on occasion), those are what the original complaints were based on in March/April, as we discovered rather later.

    2) For the first stories, likely my piece was mentioned because it does integrate everything into one report. Also, DC suffers a bit from being anonymous, whereas I’m not, and even better, Dan Vergano knows people who know me.
    Some newspapers have serious difficulties citing blogs and anonymous bloggers, even when the information is excellent. Wikipedia has a similar issue. (In general, given the signal-to-noise ratio, avoiding blogs is generally good, but sourcing checkable information (as opposed to opinion) from them should be easier.)

    3) I believe more stories are forthcoming, and in some cases might originate more with my extensions beyond DC’s work. Of course Vergano talks to a lot of people and checks things out, so DC’s or my pieces are really only starting points anyway/