John Mashey replies to Peter Wood's hit piece

John Mashey and Rob Coleman have a guest post at The Chronicle of Higher Education's blog replying to Peter Wood's hit piece.

Wood's article misused the platform of CHE. Its relevance to the concerns of CHE was minimal. It had little purpose but to damage the reputation of one of us, John Mashey, and the climate scientist Michael Mann, whom Wood has often denigrated elsewhere. The political false-association tactics were obvious. Climate scientists are under incessant attack, a fact strongly decried the day before Wood's article by the AAAS Board. The muddy battlefield of blogs and media has now arrived on the CHE premises, easily seen in the comments.

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I partially don't begrudge the CHE for providing the alternate view, but they provide all that BS under their different blogs- much of it under the "Innovations" blog- Peter Wood and Richard Vedder both contributing amongst other people. And their affiliations barely cover all the hats they wear for think tanks and what have you. It is just complete propaganda laundering, and what I would like to know is who is paying for it?

Kerry Emmanual's peice in NAS is a great read. This part should be sent to The Oz, so they can more easily understand why they were so wrong to give such prominence to Brady's views on sea-level rise;

"There are and will always be mavericks in science, and this is a good thing as it combats any herd behavior that might develop.... Once in awhile, these mavericksâ ideas prove to have merit. But when extra-scientific organizations embrace maverick views, one can be sure that politics are at play...

But it turns out that there are not enough mavericks in climate science to meet the mediaâs and blogosphereâs insatiable appetite for conflict. Thus into the arena steps a whole host of charlatans posing as climate scientists. These are a toxic brew of retired physicists, TV weather forecasters, political junkies, media hacks, and anyone else willing to tell an interviewer that he/she is a climate scientist. Typically, they have examined some of the more easily digestible evidence and, like good trial lawyers, cherry-pick that which suits their agendas while attacking or ignoring the rest. Often, they are a good deal more articulate than actual scientists, who usually prefer doing research to honing rhetorical technique. Intelligent readers/viewers should demand to know the actual scientific backgrounds of these posers and recognize that someone with a background in particle physics or botany may in fact know very little about climate science. Does he/she have a background in atmospheric physics? Can they answer elementary questions about radiative and convective heat transfer, or about the circulation of the ocean and atmosphere? More precisely, does their expertise actually bear on the particular points they are making? It may sound elitist these days, but there is a point to credentials."

Emmanuel's article is very good.

I was very very disappointed in CHE for printing such an obvious badly disguised hit piece. I've been active trying to engage people in comments out of frustration with it. It has not resulted in what I would call enlightened academic debate. Mostly just sidling insinuation of intolerance, arrogance, etc.

Some go over the top though. There's one guy infatuated with Wegman. I was also called a jihadist (by association admittedly) in the comments to Wood's Thuggery article by a Mike Mangan. Apparently, I want to assimilate him.

Not sure if that guy is for real, though. Too much a cartoon to be believable.

By Stephen Baines (not verified) on 04 Aug 2011 #permalink

Oh dear.
Peter Wood, apparently, is used to verbally assaulting climate scientists who don't expect to be attacked and who really don't know how to reply to ad hominum attacks and slander. It's not really in the job description.

All of a sudden he has decided to assault someone who is not a climate scientist, albeit rather knowledgeable in the field, and who does not have to worry about funding, career goals, etc.…

So basically Wood has taken on someone who knows the area much better than Wood appears to and is perfectly willing and able to kick ass.

Mashey and Coleman : ...we were surprised to find articles and comments by Wood in CHE that could be considered libelous. We value the academy for open discussion and seeking truth. We both take academic misconduct seriously and have filed formal, detailed misconduct complaints.

Oops Mr. Wood, always check which bee hive you're stirring up. And when Dr. Mashey says 'detailed' he means 'detailed'. :)

By jrkrideau (not verified) on 04 Aug 2011 #permalink

Peter Wood's hit piece.

Sorry, did you drop a consonant there?

Kevin C wins the internets today!

"But it turns out that there are not enough mavericks in climate science to meet the mediaâs and blogosphereâs insatiable appetite for conflict. Thus into the arena steps a whole host of charlatans posing as climate scientists."

This is an amazingly concise description of the problem. (Even if I do have a background in Botany...)

It wasn't clear to me from the Mashey report, whether it included the (missing from Media Matters action network) Scaife 2005+ funding
(Scaife funding was $200k in 2009, $250k/yr from 2000-2008, $300k/yr from 1994-1999, and various amounts before then)

(oops never mind, it's on p. 24)

By Anna Haynes (not verified) on 05 Aug 2011 #permalink

FYI Tim, Mashey's coauthor is _Robert_ Coleman. (here he is) *[Thanks. Fixed. Tim]*

By Anna Haynes (not verified) on 05 Aug 2011 #permalink

One of the advantages of Wood's piece is that it clears the air about whether or not he (and the people who echo him) might conceivably be sincere. Someone might step on your foot in a crowded room by accident. If they put on sharpened steel cleats for the occasion? Well, not so much.

By Jeffrey Davis (not verified) on 05 Aug 2011 #permalink

The most interesting aspect to me is that Wood in his original hit pieces and his authentic or otherwise support choir seem to be confident in their opinion that tabloid level rhetoric and innuendo in place of having a reasoned, well argued viewpoint will be acceptable to their target audience, who presumably expect at least the basic conventions of scholarship.

Of course, Curry and Montford's rabbles are predictably wetting themselves at the excitement of some obscure, academic farting boldly but inconsequentially in the general direction of climate science, but I doubt that their mob of cranks and paranoids were the intended primary consumers.

Well done John Mashey and Robert Coleman for taking the battle back to Wood's chosen ground and rubbing his nose in in his own partisan driven ignorance.

Drs. Mashey and Coleman,

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amongst other things, your article was a beautiful take down of Peter Wood. What an angry man Peter Wood to be him.

By MapleLeaf (not verified) on 05 Aug 2011 #permalink

I'm not sure the hordes have twigged yet to who Rob Coleman is, besides being an award-winning Professor of Chemistry at a serious university.

1) He was one of the experts quoted by Dan Vergano on plagiarism, and is *very* familiar with the whole mess.

2) He chairs the Academic Misconduct committee at a Ohio State University.


By John Mashey (not verified) on 05 Aug 2011 #permalink


> Of course, Curry and Montford's rabbles are predictably wetting themselves at the excitement of some obscure, academic farting boldly but inconsequentially in the general direction of climate science, but I doubt that their mob of cranks and paranoids were the intended primary consumers.

chek, you don't understand the modus operandi:

1. Get some inactivist junk published in some venue, any venue.
2. Spam links to the junk all over the inactivist blogs -- 'oh looks, we has article published in The Chronicle of Higher Education!'
3. Puff up the importance of the junk and the supposed independence of the junk creator e.g. 'Renowned leading independent academic writes unbiased scathing review of Michael Mann's work in leading peer-reviewed prestigious mainstream publication'.
4. At this point, it doesn't even matter whether Curry and Montford's audience of wackos will even read the actual article. All they'll remember is that last headline.

-- frank

> vote more than once

Double check that; seems to me that while you can go back after an interval and have the button appear to be available, if you click it again, it changes to unavailable, but after the first time, the total count doesn't change.

Your browser may vary. That Discus software demands both web bugs and cookies to function, as it tracks you across all of the browsers using Discus where you've commented. Peculiar stuff.

As far as I could tell, I could vote again the next day and it would change the number of votes (using Internet Explorer). I'm not registered to make comments there, and perhaps that makes a difference. Also my browser is set to get rid of some cookies each time I shut it down. And Superantispyware gets rid of some bugs.

By Holly Stick (not verified) on 06 Aug 2011 #permalink

For convenience of Deltoid readers, I repost a note I just posted at CHE:

As discussed in the 34-page writeup (p.10 especially), the extent to which Peter Wood speaks for the NAS membership is unclear. Contrary to some people's fantasies , I am actually *happy* when people identify themselves and express their positions publicly.

Although I'm not sure he said this anywhere, Keith Whitaker, who used to work for Wood @ BU, is on the NAS Board:
But otherwise, I haven't noticed much participation from clearly-identified NAS members. So in the interest of encouraging further discourse by people who must be NAS members, I sent email to everyone listed on the NAS Affiliates web pages, to call this discussion to their attention.

52 names were listed (44 M, 8 F (AR, AK, GA, KS, KY, MO, NY, SC, VT))
2 bounced with permanent email failures (FL, SC), 1 (MO) is in "connection refused, will try for 5 days" state. Anyway, that leaves 49.

This is what I sent to the list:
"Subject: Invitation to join discussion at Chronicle of Higher Education regarding Peter Wood articles

Dear heads of NAS Affiliates:

I got your names from .

I am not an academic and had never heard of NAS before, but DR Peter Wood has written several articles at the Chronicle of Higher Education blog that mentioned me.

I researched him and NAS and wrote a 34-page analysis, and then (with Rob Coleman of Ohio State University ) wrote the following post at CHE, which links to the relevant articles:…

It seems that Dr. Wood is the main voice of NAS, but I am unable to understand the extent to which he speaks for the NAS membership or for himself, for reasons noted in the 34-pager.

I encourage you to post your views as comments on that post, either individually or in groups, or perhaps seek a guest post from CHE.

So far, there has been little comment on any of the posts by clearly-identified NAS members. I would be happy to see your comments on climate science, Dr. Woodâs articles, our article, Kerry Emmanuelâs article last year at NAS, Dr. Woodâs portrayal of the AFA meeting in June, etc. I am not sure if you read this section of the CHE, since Dr. Woodâs articles there usually appear at the NAS website, so it seemd useful to alert you and seek your participation.

I do hope you will come and join the discussion, and perhaps encourage your local membership to do so as well.


John R. Mashey, PhD"

By John Mashey (not verified) on 07 Aug 2011 #permalink

John Mashey, I've replied:

> To the original blog post author:

> Au contraire, it looks more like you're trying to smear good people such as John Mashey, Robert Coleman, and Michael Mann, and you're doing this by posting fact-free, evidence-free, content-free insinuations that they're being "thuggish".

-- frank

re: 22
yes, WebCite is good.
Amusingly, note the Eco pressed web ad ...

By John Mashey (not verified) on 09 Aug 2011 #permalink

The Association's officers are not answerable to its members, who are a fig leaf that's brushed away in official docs: according to its 2008 and 2009 IRS Form 990s (Part VI Section A), the Association doesn't _have_ members (line 6), members don't elect the officers (line 7a), and the decisions of the governing body are not subject to members' approval (line 7b).

Yours truly continueth:

> > Talk of climate change "denial" or "denialism" is pretty creepy, if not outright "thuggish" especially when the parallel is made with holocaust denial

> Oh great, so now merely using a word can be considered "thuggery"!

> Well, if you ask me, the word that can be considered a prime example of thuggery will be "Climategate". In the word is encapsulated a pathetic attempt to paint a wrong as a right -- a pathetic attempt to portray criminal acts of information burglary, privacy invasion, and reputation smearing as some sort of heroic deed. The word "Climategate" is, indeed, the very essence of anti-science thuggery. We should drop the term "Climategate" and call the CRU cyber-attack by its correct name: "SwiftHack".

Und so weiter...

-- frank

Another comment I posted over at the NAS blog; let's see if they publish it:

> Jonathan says,

> > I do think the "skeptic" scientists have behaved better than the AGW proponents, on the whole.

> This is of course exemplified by the sterling example of The Climate Skeptic Who Must Not Be Named. Indeed, we can see that neither Peter Wood, nor Glenn Ricketts, nor Jonathan dare to utter his name.

> But I'll utter his name anyway: Professor Edward Wegman.

> Wegman, the statistics professor whose "Wegman Report" criticizing Mann et al.'s 1998 paper formed the basis of much of the climate inactivists' criticism of Mann.

> The professor whose "Wegman Report" turned out to be largely plagiarized with distortions and misrepresentations.

> The professor who turned out to be a serial plagiarist.

> The professor whose peer-reviewed paper purporting to analyze Mann et al.'s social network was retracted... for plagiarism.

> Someone might want to attribute Wegman's habitual plagiarism to the "thuggishness" of those evil warmists.

-- frank

Just in case anyone wondered how the hordes descended on CHE (400+ posts among the 3 articles) likely a site most had never heard of:

1) Andrew Montford, Bishop Hill (UK)… (35 comments) (174 comments)

2) Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That? (California)…

3) Judith Curry, Climate, Etc (Georgia)… (497 comments)
[JonasN is there, Peter Wood visits, August 3]
"John Mashey strikes back" (only a little)

4) The Climate Scum (?)

Oddly missing was Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit,

By John Mashey (not verified) on 10 Aug 2011 #permalink

The Climate Scum is a parody.

By Tim Lambert (not verified) on 10 Aug 2011 #permalink

But a very clever parody. I have formulate a new Law, similar to Poe's Law. It's called Monckhofen's Law, and The Climate Scum is the initial example. I'm embarrassed to say it fooled me for a while.

Well, Friends of Gin&Tonic had me fooled for a while, too

BTW, Media Matters (which used to have much useful info on National Association of Scholars funding, but no longer has much) is being difficult - their old site ( ), had info that the newer site ( ) does not - but today when I try to go to the old one, it redirects to the newer, missing-data site. Grrrr.

Join me in sending them feedback please, something like this:
The new site,, is missing data that was present on the old site,; so please restore the latter. I don't mind looking in two places; but I *do* mind having data disappear.
(Test case: Sarah Scaife foundation grants to the National Association of Scholars - or *any* foundation's grants to National Association of Scholars from ~1990-2005)

By Anna Haynes (not verified) on 13 Aug 2011 #permalink