Wegman and Black Helicopters

Lifted from comments. John Mashey writes:

The saga continues... inspired by Deep Climate, I've been examining the Wegman Report in detail. Plodding patience pays off... but the latest is an example of breathtakingly-bizarre incompetence.

Many WR references were sourced through Barton staffer Peter Spencer, according to
Yasmin Said p.5. I've been studying them, and I find BAD, WORSE, and AWFUL.


Of the ~80 references in the Bibliography, only ~30 are actually referenced in the body. Some are totally irrelevant, a 1.5 page review of Wunsch(2006). That is about Dansgaard-Oscher events, rather irrelevant to Mann's work, since the last occurrence was thousands of years before. Some of the "reviews of important articles have yet more seeming cut-and-paste.

In normal scholarship, when summarizing an article, one normally paraphrases to show that one understands it, or at least, block-quotes a few key pieces. One doesn't do undergrad-level cut-and-paste. [This isn't publicly written up yet, but will be, and will at least double the number of pages with problems like this. This will likely show up at Deep Climate's place.]

But ~50 of the ~80 references aren't even referenced, and some might be OK, but that is a high fraction. There are many more irrelevant or "grey literature" references ...

At best, this is bad scholarship, consistent with someone else selecting many of their sources for people who have little clue about relevance or importance. Some references only seem to appear there to repeat common anti-science memes. This is why seeming plagiarism is just the most obvious hint that something is wrong and makes one dig deeper.


But, Wegman, Scott, Said's report included the following (unreferenced) "reference," on p.57:

Valentine, Tom (1987) "Magnetics may hold key to ozone layer problems," Magnets, 2(1) 18-26.

Without even seeing the article, it is unclear how a 1987 article about ozone layer in an (offbeat, non-scholarly) technology journal could have anything to do with the purported investigation of 1998-1999 papers on temperature reconstructions.


It turns out (H/T Michael Tobis & Anna Haynes) that Tom Valentine has written about topics mentioned below, as well as psychic surgery. He was the editor of "Magnets" 1988-1991, a step up from his earlier writing for the "National Tattler," but not a scholarly journal. He later ran a talk show that among other things promoted the dreaded "black helicopters."

fuel-less engines

suppresion of inventions, H/T MTp

his bio, read carefully, H/T AH

promoted the black helicopters

While Wegman, Scott, and Said did this pro bono, the salaries of everybody else involved in the House were paid for by US taxpayers ... and we got scholarship of this quality, because NAS was "unlikely" to address all of Mr. Barton's concerns."

So I googled Tom Valentine and found this beauty:

Prior to becoming Fed boss, [Greenspan] promoted gold. Upon becoming head of the sinister PRIVATE central bank, upon orders, he downplayed gold and promoted paper money. The monopoly press ignores what was shown in the 1970s, namely there is no actual world bullion grade gold at Fort Knox. The bulk of the gold depository was quietly shipped in 1968 to stem a run on the gold of the Bank of England.[Hard-hitting independent journalist Tom Valentine and his then publication, National Tattler, now defunct, documented the absence of real gold at Fort Knox. At the time, his publication had a campaign demanding the Fort Knox vaults be opened for auditing.]

More like this

It seems shame to root thorugh the trash, but people do, and JM points out the following weird ref in t' Wegman report: Valentine, Tom (1987) "Magnetics may hold key to ozone layer problems," Magnets, 2(1) 18-26. The odd thing is that is doesn't appear to be a ref for anything. What is it doing…
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…
This is a little off the beaten path, but it's a silly little diversion with some classic "the press lacks numeracy skills" complaints as a bonus. Thomas Frank writing in the Wall Street Journal has written a rather wild piece - One Cross of Gold, Coming Up: How the government could get even with…
Joe Barton's Committee has released a report they commissioned on the hockey stick by Wegman, Scott and Said (WSS). The focus of the report is much narrower than the NRC report and the results are basically a subset of the NRC report. In particular, both reports find that "off-centre" method used…

At the time, his publication had a campaign demanding the Fort Knox vaults be opened for auditing.

So he was running "GoldAudit" before the Web went mainstream? McIntyre is such a newbie ;-)

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 03 May 2010 #permalink

So a kooky reference to magnet study ended up in a plagiarized report that skeptics have unquestioningly relied upon for support for several years? Who cares?

Hey, did you hear that a few Finish temperature stations were messed up for March 2010? That completely invalidated the surface record.

the auditors must have missed the Wegman report. pure chance, of course!

Lotharsson says "Such a shame that perpetual motion invention/no-fuel engine never was commercialised - it would have solved the CO2 problem in a single stroke!"

Yes, magnets seem to be a panacea.

They were also used before the advent of antibiotics to remove dead/decaying flesh and thereby prevent gangrene.

Could it be someone started by writing down the desired conclusions, then Googling on those words to find papers containing them and putting them in the bibliography?

"The nation that controls magnetism will control the universe!"

From the Said PDF file linked above:

"We were invited by the Provost, the Dean of the College of Science, and the Vice President for Research at GMU to explain our testimony."

Anyone seen that? It might well be helpful.

Here is the background on the provenance of the Wegman report, including the role of Barton staffer Peter Spencer, who appears to have selected the references that Wegman et al relied on.


As John Mashey says, expect an analysis of the Wegman et al reference list relatively soon.

In the mean time, let me point out that the peer-reviewed comments on M&M's 2005 GRL article, by von Storch and Huybers, are among the ~50 references not cited at any point in the body of the report.

As well, Wahl and Ammann's Climatic Change article, the most in depth peer-reviewed discussion of the M&M critiques extant, was cited (on p. 47) but only in a footnote dismissing its relevance.

It should be noted that the 80 references include about 60 "Academic articles and books" and about 20 under the heading "Other Literature Including Articles in the Popular Press". The latter include a WSJ op-ed piece by Richard Lindzen and M&M's 2005 presentation to the George Marshall Institute. Thankfully, these are not cited.

Oddly, though, this category also includes such supposedly "non-academic" efforts as the landmark NOAA/USSCP 2005 study on temperature trends in the lower atmosphere, and the IPCC TAR WG1 report itself.

Yes, I noticed that back when I first discovered the Said presentation, although I didn't bring it forward.

Obviously, it's time GMU took a second look.

Re: #10

Tom Fuller doesn't think too highly of himself, by his own standards.

Not long before the CRU hack and his subsequent book with Mosher...

âI actually donât believe men of honour publish correspondence without permission. Nor do I believe men of honour would select portions of the email that donât correspond to the entire message.â


Tom Fuller clearly believes that Tom Fuller is not a man of honour.

Regarding the references made in the report to free energy machines. Unfortunately there are also some 'green' campaigners that look for miracle energy sources to solve the worlds problems.

Super magical machines that produce energy from nothing are a hot green subject for some.

I don't know what it is, but the world of conspiracies is populated by a wide range of people.

Yes, there are disbelievers in Conservation of Energy everywhere.

But rarely are frequent authors of such material seriously cited in a supposed expert report to Congress.

To my knowledge, when the UK parliament asks for expert studies, it doesn't expect this either, but certainly the "submissions" (as in the recent brouhaha) can certainly include fantasy.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 03 May 2010 #permalink

dmabu is a very unwell person, he is hitting blogs and forums all over the place - ignore, do not feed the troll as all it does is provoke.

By Watchingtheden… (not verified) on 04 May 2010 #permalink

dmabu reads likes a poor imitation of Hartlod (TM) remember him?

Maybe dmabu is the love child of Hartlod (TM) and Graeme Bird?

OT (sorry) but hasn't Monckton had time to check up on Pinker and then correct himself? That should be fairly simple, shouldn't it?

Just a thought -- the "great founder" delusion is easy to fall into. Wegman is old stuff, in the same sense the early climate work is old stuff.

As John points out, there is good contemporary science being done. I'm going to follow his good example and try to develop the habit of pointing to the contemporary work each time someone brings up Wegman.

Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander, ya know.

It's terribly tempting to get caught up in "that old paper was wrong so everything based on it is based on bad information" -- for people who _have_ based their current _policy_ thinking on old info and remain attached to it, they've got a problem.

But a pointer to new good science is always appropriate, eh?

Tom Fuller clearly believes that Tom Fuller is not a man of honour.

Tom Fuller is not alone ...

Tom Fuller might also keep in mind that one might be judged by the company one keeps, i.e. Steve "Piltdown Mann" Mosher.

I've been in two minds about Deep Climate's excavation of Wegman, briefly commenting at stoat, in response to which Deep Climate and John Mashey each raised reasonable points about its value.

The bottom line, I think, is that the controversy over MBH 98 has likely run its course. Everybody likely to be convinced that global warming stands or falls on the validity of the hockey stick has made his mind up. I also think discussing Wegman further inflates its importance, which distorts public perceptions of the science.

With those caveats, however, I find Deep Climate's research of great historical value. It's not often that an ostensibly scientific document used in Congressional testimony is shown to be so thoroughly dishonest.

But at bottom, Hank makes a good point. Beware the "great founder" fallacy. The science of global warming was never heavily dependent on MBH 98, and was never likely to be overturned by Joe Barton and his chums.

By Tony Sidaway (not verified) on 04 May 2010 #permalink

Tony Sidaway, but I still want to see Wegman dressed in orange...

By Martin Vermeer (not verified) on 04 May 2010 #permalink

For public policy, note, I'm in absolute agreement with

> I find Deep Climate's research of great historical
> value. It's not often that an ostensibly scientific
> document used in Congressional testimony is shown
> to be so thoroughly dishonest.

Although there are plenty of other examples one could dig up of 'advocacy science' -- it all has to be looked at much harder.

re: #23 Tony

May I assume you've looked at CCC, which provides some larger context for DC's fine investigations?

1) {MBH98/99} were never a "pillar" of climate science, no matter how much Inhofe said so. Science long ago decided they were useful, if imperfect early research, long supplanted, but more-or-less confirmed. Any controversy is extra-science.

2) However, the 2006 Wegman Report is *still* referenced today, including in the submissions to parliament earlier this year. it is much more a pillar of climate anti-science than MBH was of climate science. (I still think the hockey stick chart got used in the TAR primarily because it led to a simple, powerful graphic that most people could quickly understand, not true of many of the other studies.)

3) But read CCC to understand why this case might matter more than most.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 04 May 2010 #permalink

Thanks for the reminder about John Mashey's piece. I will make a note to read it when I have access to a proper computer. This little telephone doesn't read PDF, unfortunately.

By Tony Sidaway (not verified) on 05 May 2010 #permalink

Another tidbit or two.

Valentine, Tom (1987) "Magnetics may hold key to ozone layer problems," Magnets, 2(1) 18-26.

The complete name of the magazine was Magnets In Your Future.
Googling that doesn't find much, but it does find:

N-machines, about machines that extract energy from space ... "indeed a situation where energy is being previously unknown and unexplained source."

By odd chance, that same website offers "My summary disproving AGW", so maybe there is a correlation of viewpoints.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 07 May 2010 #permalink

Mabus precedes most of the cranks you'd compare him to, and is some sort of psychotic. That being acknowledged, there's no point in Middle Ages fun - poking the stick into the cage to watch the loonie shriek and gibber.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 27 Sep 2010 #permalink

> Beware the "great founder" fallacy. The science of global warming was never heavily dependent on MBH 98

A point overstated since there isn't anyone on the IPCC's side that thinks that AGW is heavily dependent on MBH98.

Denialists do so as to have something easy to attack.

Since they get an easy attack vector and they don't care about fallacies (especially if they don't affect them), cautioning about the founder fallacy to "warmists" is rather pointless.