I’ve been away from blogging for quite a while, but I still read the climate blogs with relish. There have been a number of issues raised that almost drew me back, but this one clinched it. This post is still in progress and will be added to over the next few days as I get time.
Since the posts at Deep Climate on the Wegman report, the issue of plagiarism in the Wegman report has been brewing. The Mashey Report details a number of anomalies in the Wegman report, including instances of direct copying without adequate attribution, copying with slight changes without adequate attribution, to name a few. Now, it seems that Bradley has raised the issue and George Mason University, Wegman’s employer, is formally investigating the claims.
Many blogs, including the usual suspects, have discussed DC’s posts, with the predictable denials and hand-waving on the part of lukewarmers, skeptics and deniers alike. Sure, they say, maybe Wegman did copy a lot of text without enough citation, but so what? Minor details. What counts is that the conclusions are still valid.
Now, McIntyre has a post up insinuating — dog whistling — that Bradley in turn copied and pasted a whole lot of material from Fritts. What is interesting and very sly is that McI does this under the guise of picking apart DC’s comment that Bradley’s work is “seminal” but I call BS on that. It’s clear that McI is trying to discredit Bradley by making it seem as if his copying text from Fritz is the same as Wegman’s poor scholarship.
Does McIntyre directly claim they are the same? No. He doesn’t have to. All he has to do is whistle.
I don’t have an appropriate image to use, but this came to mind from my former days as a student of social and political thought:
That is for Willard.
According to Dave Dardinger:
The point is that the DC complaint is that Wegman copied from Bradley 1999 without sufficient attribution. But Bradley 1999 copied from his 1985 book likewise without sufficient attribution. And the 1985 book copied from Fritts 1976 with proper attribution for the most part. So it would seem we have a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
Pot and kettle is the repeated cry from the chorus.
This is from TallBloke:
I wonder if the Team can rearrange the following words into a well known phrase or saying:
Their, hoisted, petard, on, own.
From what I can see, Wegman is not Bradley. The fact that McIntyre tries to make that claim is laughable but with skeptics and deniers, the facts don’t matter as much as the optics. Make a smear and even if it isn’t valid, the mere existence of smears convinces those not in the know. The echo chamber at CA is doing the usual — patting McI on the back and cheering, mostly ignorant of the way things work in science or academia or politics.
When I first came across the whole “McIntyre broke the hockey stick” meme around 2007, one of the first documents I read was the Wegman report. I thought it was mostly crap from the get-go. Yeah maybe Wegman did agree with M&M about the de-centred PC analysis not being valid, but that was the extent of his contribution. Even the recommendations and conclusions are pretty vapid. And the social network analysis? Pure pseudoscience. One could do such an analysis on Wegman’s own scholarship and would find the same problem, as would any similar analysis on most small sub-disciplines in science. A small network of scholars in itself is not evidence of poor science. Again, broad claims are made with no real evidence to back them up. Just more innuendo.
Now, being a policy wonk and longer-time government scribe (on and off since 1994 to be exact), I am quite familiar with the whole government report business. I’ve actually written one myself that was published, presented to a commission and is now gathering dust on a shelf. I hasten to distance my report from Wegman’s report, since I actually wrote it like a straight academic paper, including correct citations and attributions of any and all quotes. In fact, when I set out to write the paper, I had no idea where my research would take me and was given free rein to write the paper that my research uncovered. In other words, not your typical government paper. The findings were not pre-determined. This is because I worked for an arms-length government agency that had little clout and less public support, so anything we produced could be easily dismissed if the government in question felt so inclined because there was no public nor “stakeholder” appetite for policy action.
The first thing a neophyte to this world should know is this — reports are not usually requested and authors not usually selected unless those requesting have been assured that the writers will come to the proper — read: politically appropriate — conclusions. Especially about a very politically sensitive policy issue.
It would be political suicide otherwise.
Politicians are in the business of keeping themselves in power, first and foremost. They often do stupid things and lose elections, but it is not because they fail to consider the optics. Instead, it is because they misjudge them.
In other words, I give most government reports about as much credit as they deserve — and the amount of credit depends on how close to the political action the players are. Wegman is no different. Wegman might be an eminent statistician, but it seems from the analysis done by DC and Mashey and a quick look at the provenance of the report that it is neither independent nor on the level, in terms of scholarship, of other reports looking at Paleoclimate — especially the NAS Report.
In other words, Bradley is not Wegman.
To understand Wegman, we have to start by examining the provenance of the Wegman report: Joe Barton, (R) of Texas, an engineer by education, and former advisor to Atlantic Richfield Oil and Gas before being elected to the House. Pardon me while I laugh.
Of the 16 bills Barton sponsored, including one on Hugo Chavez and the government of Venezuela, (LOL!) , such as Bill HR 7032, which has the following purposes (among others):
(1) respond to the Nation’s increased need for domestic energy resources;
(2) facilitate interagency coordination and cooperation in the processing of permits required to support oil and gas use authorization on Federal lands, both onshore and on the Outer Continental Shelf, in order to achieve greater consistency, certainty, and timeliness in permit processing requirements;
(3) promote process streamlining and increased interagency efficiency, including elimination of interagency duplication of effort…
In other words, to speed up the process of issuing drilling permits on Federal Land…
Barton is also the sponsor of the amendment to Bill HR 2643:
Amendment sought to strike section 501 which states as the sense of Congress that there should be enacted a comprehensive and effective national program of mandatory, market-based limits and incentives on emissions of greenhouse gases that slow, stop, and reverse the growth of such emissions at a rate and in a manner that (1) will not significantly harm the United States economy and (2) will encourage comparable action by other nations that are major trading partners and key contributors to global emissions.
An amendment to strike section 501 expressing the sense of Congress on Global Climate Change.
During his career, Barton received a total of $17M in contributions, over $2.8M of which came from petroleum interests.
Is it just me or does this not suggest Barton is not the most objective person when it comes to examining the issue of global warming?
Note from the opening of the Wegman Report the following:
The Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce as well as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations have been interested in an independent verification of the critiques of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) [MBH98, MBH99] by McIntyre and McKitrick (2003, 2005a, 2005b) [MM03, MM05a, MM05b] as well as the related implications in the assessment.
Right from the start, honest individuals should have their alarm bells ringing.
First: this is Congress. Congress is a political body. Its members have political agendas. They are funded by a number of private interests. As I noted above, Barton received significant funding from corporations such as EXXON and others. These Congressmen are reliant on those funds to assist them in getting elected and re-elected.
Any report on climate science he requested must be seen in this light.
Second: the questions asked reveals as much about our position as the statements we make.
Barton did not want an independent verification of the findings of MBH98 or MBH99, which is the science. He wanted independent verification of the critiquesof that science by M&M – two non-scientists. In other words, he wanted independent verification of the work of two specific AGW skeptics and the implications of those skeptics’ work.
To put it bluntly – the purpose was to verify climate science skepticism. Barton did not go to a science body and ask them to investigate claims made by M&M about MBH — he turned down an offer from NAS to do so.
Is it any surprise that Wegman dismisses paleoclimatology and verifies M&M?
No. It was a foregone conclusion.
Anyone who takes Wegman seriously is either in denial or a denier.