Why Wegman Matters

Readers around the climate-o-sphere will be familiar with the great work done by Deep Climate and John Mashey back in 2009/2010 pointing out questionable scholarship in the Wegman Report (W06) and in Wegman’s subsequent work with Said and others.

As DC points out, and DeSmog details, a paper by Said, Wegman et al 2008 has been pulled from the journal Computational Statistics and Data Analysis.

From DC:

The study, which appeared in 2008 in the journalComputational Statistics and Data Analysis, was headed by statistician Edward Wegman of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Its analysis was an outgrowth of a controversial congressional report that Wegman headed in 2006. The “Wegman Report” suggested climate scientists colluded in their studies and questioned whether global warming was real. The report has since become a touchstone among climate change naysayers.

This development might, as DC points out, spur George Mason University to conclude its “endless” investigation into Wegman’s scholarship.

The skeptics are denying that this discrediting has any import — surprise surprise surprise! It doesn’t matter. It’s of no significance. Move along, nothing to see here…

DC and Mashey’s discrediting of Wegman et al matters because Wegman’s work is held up by deniers as evidence that paleoclimate is flawed, and that climate science is a junk. Wegman is trumpeted as an authoritative expert on statistics, a true scholar, who is of the stature that his word and work holds real weight. Wegman’s 2006 report to Congress is held up as a credible refutation of the MBH paleoclimate reconstruction, ergo the IPCC TAR, ergo climate science in general, ergo the need for policy action to halt global warming.

These “pillars” of the AGW theory are thus destroyed, Samson style, as is the foundation for policy action on greenhouse gasses.

Here’s Barton on Wegman and the report:

Dr. Edward Wegman, a prominent statistics professor at George Mason University who is chair of the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, agreed to independently assess the data on a pro bono basis. Wegman is also a board member of the American Statistical Association.

About the Wegman committee: Dr. Wegman assembled a committee of statisticians, including Dr. David Scott of Rice University and Dr. Yasmin Said of The Johns Hopkins University. Also contributing were Denise Reeves of MITRE Corp. and John T. Rigsby of the Naval Surface Warfare Center. All worked independent of the committee, pro bono, at the direction of Wegman. In the course of Wegman’s work, he also discussed and presented to other statisticians on aspects of his analysis, including the Board of the American Statistical Association.

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Here’s a statement early on by McIntyre on the Wegman report and Wegman:

Readers interested in a third party view of the matter are far better off consulting the North Report,the Wegman report, (particularly) Wegman’s Reply to Questions and Richard Smith’s account of the 2006 American Statistical Association session. All of these individuals are vastly more eminent than Ammann and Wahl. Wegman, in particular, has been Chair of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Theoretical and Applied Statistics and is a legitimate statistical expert. His comments on the Wahl and Ammann preprint are very acute and have not received appropriate consideration.

Nothing yet from Wegman’s biggest supporter – McIntyre – on this latest development.

Here’s Anthony Watts:

So, no problem from my view. I expect the report will be rewritten, with citations where needed, maybe even adding extra dictionary definitions of words and their origins to satisfy the imagined slights against our lexiconic ancestors envisioned by DC and Mashey man,  and they’ll resubmit it with the very same conclusions. That’s what I would do.

Watts talked up the Wegman report in a post about Mann:

Hey Doug! Did you read the Wegman Report? He said the Mann Analysis was “bad science” and “incorrect mathematics”  so which part of that didn’t you understand?

I think we should let Wegman shoot this lame nag through the head:

Based on the literature we have reviewed, there is no overarching consensus on [Mann’s work]. As analyzed in our social network, there is a tightly knit group of individuals who passionately believe in their thesis. However, our perception is that this group has a self-reinforcing feedback mechanism and, moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that they can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility.

I love it! Here’s Watts talking about Wegman’s credibility, his literature review and social network analysis, especially in light of this comment by the expert in social network analysis who taught one of Wegman’s students, who called Wegman’s work nothing more than an opinion piece...

Q: (How would you assess the data in this study?)

Data: Compared to many journal articles in the network area the description of the data is quite poor. That is the way the data was collected, the total number of papers, the time span, the method used for selecting articles and so on is not well described.

Q: (So is what is said in the study wrong?)

A: Is what is said wrong? As an opinion piece – not really.

Is what is said new results? Not really. Perhaps the main “novelty claim” are the definitions of the 4 co-authorship styles. But they haven’t shown what fraction of the data these four account for.

Here’s a commenter over at Keith Kloor’s place:

This is not a newspaper story. it is a report of a mathematical investigation that can be evaluated. Plagiarism is a collateral issue that does not affect the issues raised by the paper.

This obsession with supposed plagiarism and other irrelevancies trivializes a grave issue. Where are the Marx Brothers when we need them?

One of the “tricks” of deniers, as developed in the tobacco case and replicated in the climate science case, is to create a smokescreen of fake experts and papers that are purported to discredit the mainstream science. These “experts” and “papers” are then trumpeted around the internet and in various bogus “scientific conferences” as proof that there is no consensus and thus no need to enact policy to address greenhouse gas emissions.

Remember to keep your eye on the trickster’s sleeve — don’t look where he is directing you — look where he doesn’t want you to look — that’s where the real trick is being played.

A decline in public / policy maker perception of the validity of climate change / global warming science. That’s the real trick.

How is the trick performed?

You need credible magicians who are able to prestidigitate with some skill — enough to fool the unknowing observers.

In climate Denialism, the credible magician might be a person who can claim some expertise, even if it is not directly equal to those who do actual climate science. Say, an expert in statistics, an expert in policy, an expert in some allied science, or even someone with no real expertise but who is a statistical genius has a credible aura to them. Someone who knows the right way to cast doubt, call into question, make innuendo. Dog-whistle.

You need a credulous public who lacks knowledge and expertise in science and its processes and procedures other than the abstract motherhood and apple pie axioms that we all are fed in high school science class. Since they lack this knowledge or expertise or judgement, you can fill them up with false claims about science or unrealistic expectations from science that no science meets or is able to meet at all times.

In prestidigitation, you need to divert attention away from that the left hand is doing, by focusing their eyes on the right hand. Instead of focusing on the hand that holds the card, the truth, you focus their gaze on your desired target — the other hand, your eyes, your face. Anything so that they don’t look at that hand holding the card, slipping into the sleeve or pocket.

W06 has been held up time and again as proof that there is no consensus among experts, that the basis for arguing that temperatures in the 20th/21st century are warmer than in the past and that CO2 is the culprit — paleoclimate, in other words — is discredited.

It being discredited is rather poetic.

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About Policy Lass

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65 Responses to “Why Wegman Matters”

  1. Lovely. And I’ve learned a new word today – prestidigitation. George Mason University still seems to be dragging its heels on this matter, but getting rid of the paper should be enough to discredit Wegman’s ‘contribution’ to the ‘debate’, and do away with the notion that there has been a ‘debate’ at all.

    Good to see you again 😀

    • It’s a pseudo-debate created by denialists and the media that feels compelled to produce so-called balanced journalism which somehow thinks that there are two sides of equal merit.

      Prestidigitation – the real trick to create a decline — in public support for climate action. 🙂

  2. Wegman has shown absolutely zero appetite for getting back into this debate. I guess from his perspective he did his job back in 2006 and had no plans to revisit it. Since the various DC claims surfaced the approach appears to be to ignore it and hope it all goes away, we know for sure the “auditors” aren’t interested in anything surrounding whether there are problems with a report on climate to Congress (when the conclusion is of a certain type).

    I wonder who the poor grad student is, if such exists. This one-way view of responsibility reminds me of more than one boss I’ve worked for!

    • Rather than man-up that they didn’t do a credible job, they try to blame some poor grad student. But what I want to know is this — what kind of grad student plagiarizes? By the time you reach grad school, plagiarism should be beaten out of you. I could see some iffy paraphrasing slipping through but outright lifting of text without attribution should never occur. What kind of school is this?

      • Ah, but Susan, what kind of PROFESSOR would plagiarize?

        And as I and others noted elsewhere, Wegman is actually made it worse for himself by essentially admitting he took somebody’s work without proper attribution. That this work wasn’t original either is a footnote. Wegman admitted plagiarism!

        • I agree — what kind of prof wouldn’t check the work of a grad student working on a congressional report under his signature? A sloppy one? One who didn’t take it seriously, perhaps? Who wouldn’t give proper attribution to works used? That goes against everything we train students to do in the first years of their university education.

          My hubby teaches at the local uni and just had a case of a couple of students lifting whole quotes off wikipedia without attribution. Where he works, cases of potential plagiarism are taken out of his hands and a committee takes over to investigate.

          In this case, the students are first and second year students who not only copied off each other — which twigged him onto the problem — but they also plagiarized from wikipedia and other sources. That this kind of conduct takes place in a congressional report by an “eminent” professor is hard to believe.

          • The ‘fun’ part is also that Wegman (or rather, his lawyer) admits he had a significant part of the report written by a student.

            It’s starting to look more and more like a report written by ghost writers, where some people added their name to give it an air of credibility.

  3. Very nice, thoughtful post.

    Actually, Wegman has kept at this all along.
    See SSWR:
    pp.63-66 Time to Move on?
    pp. 80-82 Interface 2010

    And a new Appendix A.6.6.

    The grad student is real, and a bit ill-used, I suspect.

    There is more to come…

  4. “It being discredited is rather poetic.”

    When Wegman and his gang began
    spreading major lies,
    Becoming Barton’s hatchet man,
    why not plagiarize?

    If they didn’t care much if the sea
    level gauge would rise,
    If they just craved uncertainty,
    why not plagiarize?

  5. Nothing yet from Wegman’s biggest supporter – McIntyre – on this latest development.

    But no doubt an intensive, hard-hitting audit is even now in prep.

    A disinterested, hard-headed, no-nonsense type like McEye isn’t going to let this pass.

    Can’t wait.

    • I’m surprised that McIntyre didn’t already find these flaws and errors. He’s probably just too busy in his new role as Director of Trelawney Mining and Exploration.

      Mr. Steve McIntyre has been appointed as Director of Trelawney Mining and Exploration Inc with effect from April 4, 2011. Mr. McIntyre has more than 30 years experience in the mining and mineral exploration business, including over 10 years with Noranda Mines Ltd. and 20 years as an officer and director of several junior mineral exploration companies, including Dumont Nickel Inc., Northwest Explorations Inc., Timmins Nickel Inc. and Vedron Gold Inc. Most recently, Mr. McIntyre has achieved international prominence through statistical analysis of climate research. In 2010, he was named as one of “50 People Who Matter” by the New Statesman, an English magazine, and was co-winner of the Julian Simon Award from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

      Interesting that he got the Julian Simon Award from the CEI.

      What conflict of interest? 🙂

      • What are “junior” mining companies?

        • Broadly speaking, “junior minings” refers to small companies that offer very speculative investment opportunities based on the prospect of discovering primary resources: gold, oil, uranium, etc. An example of a junior mining company:

          http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/overview?symbol=TRR.V

          If their they are traded for a buck or less, they can also be called “penny stocks”. An example of a junior mining, penny stock company:

          http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/overview?symbol=OYL.V

          The two concepts overlap but are not equivalent.

        • Been trying to understand that one myself. Small? Not much capital investment?

          Here’s a quote from Investopedia:

          Junior Companies Play a Senior Role
          A junior mining company is an exploration company that looks for new deposits of gold, silver, uranium or other precious minerals. These companies target properties that are believed to have significant potential for finding large mineral deposits.

          Junior exploration companies are a major source of future mine supply. They find promising properties, prove the resources, stake the raw material and bring mines into production. With highly trained geologists, geophysicists and engineers on staff, it is the junior mining company that typically is best positioned to determine whether a property is economically viable. Juniors are critical players in the early stages, bridging the long lag time between when a new deposit is found and when it is brought into production.

          Fields Of Green And Brown
          There are two types of exploration: green field and brown field. Green field exploration refers to uncharted territory, where minerals are not already known to exist. Brown field exploration refers to areas where deposits were previously discovered. Not surprisingly, green field exploration is riskier and more expensive than brown field, but the potential payoff is much higher, too. (This exploration is similar to green field and brown field investments, which deal with companies choosing to build new production facilities or lease/purchase old ones.)

          Once a site has been selected, junior exploration companies then map the geological characteristics of the area in great detail. Geologists will use both on-the-ground analysis and remote sensing devices from the air to evaluate the physical properties of prospective ore bodies. Target areas are then chosen for more in-depth research, including ground-based seismic surveys and gathering samples to get a clearer picture of where to start digging.

          Here’s a description from GoldSeek.com

          Junior Mining Companies and as such are primarily involved with exploration; that is to say that most of them are not producers. The good news is that almost all of these companies are not “Grass Roots” meaning that they’ve already completed a good deal of work on their projects. This could encompass anything from geophysics, to mapping to trenching to drilling. As the supply demand fundamentals for the PM markets come more into focus, the Senior Mining Companies will definitely be on the lookout for the next one to five million ounce deposit. I do believe we have several of them on our list.

          Long Term Options

          Junior mining companies are high risk—high reward scenarios and I want everyone to recognize as much. When you are dealing with these types of companies you are in actuality placing a bet on what could be likened to a long term option on gold, silver, molybdenum or whatever the underlying commodity might be. The one big difference is that there is no time decay on the position and therefore it becomes a much more effective “call”.

          We are dealing with leverage and as you well know leverage can work for you or bite you in the butt so you do have to be careful. I am not fond of traditional options and futures for neophytes although in the hands of professionals, they can serve a purpose. By the same token, professionals can just as easily lose money. Here is the one key difference in derivatives between the big boys and the smaller investor. “Da big boyz” have much deeper pockets and as such are able to wait longer and manipulate their positions (black box or automated trading) to a more efficient degree in order to create a profitable situation. Think of it like this. If you keep doubling down on your blackjack bets, sooner or later, you are going to win. The question is—can you sustain an extended losing streak without going broke? Regardless, I wouldn’t recommend it.

          Yes, Alice, there really is Manipulation!

          We need not act like children any longer and pretend to see the world as it ought to be: a pristine universe of truth and justice. The financial world in particular is filled with sharks just waiting to feed on those aforementioned neophytes at the first sign of blood. Yes, Alice, there really is manipulation in all the US and London markets and it manifests itself in a thousand different ways. If you play in this sandbox you’d better be looking over your shoulder because the power elite doesn’t give a hoot about a fair market. They are motivated to take your money as fast as they possibly can; especially in the derivatives markets. Do I sound jaded or realistic? Good, because if you don’t understand this basic concept you’re going to have a bucket or two of sand kicked in your face.

          However, if you play your cards right and allow the “trend to be your friend” while exercising patience and choosing well managed (junior mining) companies, that leverage will indeed be your friend. In other words, you’ll make some money. If you jump around like a cat on a hot tin roof, ignore the principals of investing in these kinds of companies; principals such as knowledge, patience, and discipline, you might as well not even begin the exercise of investing in the sector at all. Are there sharks in these waters? Does a wild bear waltz in the woods? But there are also well run companies with ethical managers controlling excellent projects and those are the ones with which we want to be involved.

          Very interesting.

          • Here’s some wild speculation based on reports that the Arctic is being carved up right now by various countries. Is Steve’s new company going to look for stuff in the melting Arctic?

          • The trick here is that in spite of those engineering quality reports, a lot of these things don’t pan out, in which case the investors money goes down the tubes. If large companies supported these things then there would be deep pockets to go after. In some cases it is a heads I win tails you lose proposition where if the junior company hits big, somehow the money all ends up with insiders.

            Very much the same model as with drug discovery these days with the risk of new lead compounds being carried by small startups. When they get through Phase II bit pharma buys them out for phase III.

        • Many of these are exploratory companies, aligned with foreign investors for gas, minerals, oil and other energy resources also. Anything that gets people excited about buying low for a big payoff in the end. They get traded on the smaller, less regulated stock exchanges, or on “pink sheets”.

      • Check out the hockey-stick graph on slide 5 of this presentation. This chart ends in mid-April at a peak of the stock price, since which time the Trelawney stock has gone down by 27%. Don’t get me wrong, chums, I’m not suggesting anybody has been hiding the decline but I can’t be held responsible for conclusions drawn by other commentators on this blog.

      • So who is now going to run ClimateFraudit? Welcome back SheWonk.

  6. Ted Kirkpatrick Reply May 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    PL (and other readers) the student wrote the social network background section under express restrictions (no citations were allowed, I believe) for the Wegman report. The student may not even have expected it to be included in the final report and certainly had no expectation that their section would ultimately wind up in a journal article. I doubt the student even knew they were an inadvertent (and unacknowledged) CSDA author until this retraction came out. As ever, keep your eye on the illusionist—Wegman.

  7. Why would no citations be allowed for a report to Congress?

    • That’s a totally bogus argument anyway — the WR has in-text citations when referring to the main journal articles and pieces of research. This sounds like pure laziness or being given a lack of time to adequately paraphrase. IOW it was thrown together with little thought.

      Here, for example:

      Photosynthetic processes are accelerated with the increased availability of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and, hence, it is conjectured that ring growth would also be correlated with atmospheric carbon dioxide; see Graybill and Idso (1993).

      • Ted Kirkpatrick Reply May 17, 2011 at 8:58 am

        Yes, the final report had citations. But there are some claims that the student was told not to put citations in the “background information” they collected. As John says below, the authorship of the Wegman report is so confused that it’s not clear what was going on.

        I stand by my main point: The student’s role was in the Wegman report was minor and there’s indications they might be blameless. The student is almost certainly blameless in the reuse of that material for CSDA.

        The real focus needs to remain on Wegman. To the extent we criticize the student, we are letting Wegman’s misdirection succeed.

        • I don’t mean to attack the student but only to point out how unrealistic it is to offer this paltry explanation for sloppy and dishonest work. Obviously, there are all kinds of stories being told and the one with the least power is the one to get thrown under the steamroller and flattened.

  8. Hold this till some more info comes out. it is not clear that the student understood the context very well, but of course, simple cut-and-paste is a funny thing for a grad student to do, with or without citations.

    For one thing, the SNA part of the Wegman Report was written by a different person than the rest of the report so the comparison with tree-ring material doesn’t hold.

    Nobody could make up the real story, but it is clear that cut-and-paste started in Wegman-land well before the Wegman Report.

    • During my tenure as a grad student (5 years worth) I did a number of annotated bibliographies where I had to summarize the literature in a given area. You did not copy and paste. If I was asked to just lift whole passages from a source without attribution I would talk to my prof because that kind of activity sets you up to plagiarize. If I knew I was working on a congressional report? I’d be freaking out about doing a first-rate job.

  9. It’s obvious that there is significant lifting of text without attribution in the WR and his other work. There is the use of text without citation, poor paraphrasing, etc. There can be only a few possible explanations:

    – Wegman handed work on an important congressional report to a grad student(s) and told them not to cite any sources, which they didn’t –through no fault of their own.

    Not believable without an explanation from Wegman for the direction to not use citations.

    – Wegman handed work on an important congressional report to a grad student(s) and the student did poor work and Wegman didn’t check the work thoroughly or at all.

    Possible.

    There are probably other options, but neither speaks well of Wegman and his crew and calls into question the seriousness with which Wegman took his mandate and the validity of the report itself. This, coupled the other revelations about Wegman’s stats, discredits the WR.

  10. 1) USA Today editorial today is:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2011-05-16-Report-puts-climate-change-deniers-in-hot-seat_n.htm

    although too bad that title didn’t stick.

    “Coincidentally, USA TODAY’s Dan Vergano reported Monday, a statistics journal retracted a federally funded study that had become a touchstone among climate-change deniers. The retraction followed complaints of plagiarism and use of unreliable sources, such as Wikipedia.

    Taken together, these developments ought to leave the deniers in the same position as the “birthers,”

    2)Stoat has a good cartoon:
    here.

  11. Re: Reeves
    People were asking questions, so Vergano updated
    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2011/05/retracted-climate-critics-study-panned-by-expert-/1

    with more information, so now we’ve got something from her side.

    • I feel bad for her, and hope that she isn’t squashed by this. It is Wegman’s name on the report after all. He shouldn’t have been satisfied with the final product. All these excuses of it being a congressional report and not needing citations etc. are bogus. In my view, that means it should be even more precise because it is to the frickin US Congress!

      IOW, it should have been more like the … why, the NAS report!

  12. I believe that “DC and Mashey’s discrediting of Wegman et al…” is worded less than optimally. If Wegman et al. hadn’t acted dishonestly and illegally, they couldn’t have been caught! Therefore it is Wegmen et al. who have been hoist by their own petard when they attempted to discredit Mann; Bradley & Hughes and the Hockey-stick. DC and John Mashey deserve full credit for their dogged investigation and discovery of the source of the nasty smell emanating from Wegman et al.; McIntyre; Smokey Joe Barton and the rest of the Koch-funded denialist creeps.

    • Gobsmacked.

      What more can I say? “Beware of Asian students”? ??

      Sounds like more under-the-bus-chucking, except with a racist overtone.

      Wegman may be a nice old chap, whatwhat, a good bloke to have a drink with, but clearly he’s far too busy and eminent to check on the work of his grad students in order to ensure that his report to Congress is top-notch…

      • “Wegman may be a nice old chap, whatwhat, a good bloke to have a drink with…”

        I think you should ask Prof. Mann and the other victims of Wegman’s McIntyresque hatchet-job what they think. The fact that Wegman agreed to take part in a witch-hunt, only to find that it blew-up in his face is such sweet justice.

        I hope Wegman gets what he deserves.

  13. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2011/05/retracted-climate-critics-study-panned-by-expert-/1

    Interesting. Denise Reeves attended a social network (1 week) course and wrote a memo on what it was. Her “draft overview” of the course was used by Wegman in the report and to generate the results. Apparently no further work was done to understand social networking.

    But if you wanted to make a point that this field was unusually close, like a conspiracy, shouldn’t you have studied a few other fields to see if the pattern diverged in the case of climate science? Nobody writes papers without referring to earlier work; science is always moving forward based on earlier work. Doh.

    Another interesting point is that the editor of the journal reviewed the ms. himself and turned it around in jig time. Strange behavior: was he blown away by learning of social network analysis, or a great friend of Wegman’s so he automatically published his paper, or ???

  14. From “Wegman: A Surprising Reaction”

    “Tom Crowley, now at Duke University:
    Now you will see the ugly side of the pro-warming faction ….”

    Wait, is it the “pro-warming faction” that says “CO2 is life” and “warming is good for crops and people”? Or is it the anti-warming side that says that?

  15. Watts has just shown his own central premise, used as the platform for mounting slanders too mumerous to itemise was wrong.

    McinTyres is off back to a senior position in global mineral exploitation, his classic stupidmath™ invention merely a means leading to Wegman (the central case against the hockey stick) who is also now exposed, pending a long and drawn out process, as a fr@wd.

    But hey, if the gig was only to last up until electing the 112th least intelligent, most corporately compromised Congress ever, then the five year, shatneresque mission was accomplished.

    Clarity after the event is one of the most useless things in existence.

    Good to see you back, SW.

  16. “Watts has just shown his own central premise, used as the platform for mounting slanders too mumerous to itemise was wrong.

    McinTyres is off back to a senior position in global mineral exploitation, ”

    Christy and Spencer provided the original template for why those hostile to human induced climate should not do real research. Their satellite data eventually was shown to be further proof of temperature increases. Watts has himself fallen for his own propaganda and ended up basically confirming the surface station data is a reasonable estimate of the change in the temperature.

    McKintyre is too smart a cookie to fall into that trap. He will not produce an independent reconstruction of recent historic temperatures as he will end up having to defend his work against new data. Lahole tried to kill the hockey stick with his reproduction and now I routinely post his updated paper as another proof that recent warming is greater than at any point over the past 1000 years.

  17. DC and Mashey’s discrediting of Wegman et al matters because Wegman’s work is held up by deniers as evidence that paleoclimate is flawed, and that climate science is a junk. Wegman is trumpeted as an authoritative expert on statistics, a true scholar, who is of the stature that his word and work holds real weight. Wegman’s 2006 report to Congress is held up as a credible refutation of the MBH paleoclimate reconstruction, ergo the IPCC TAR, ergo climate science in general, ergo the need for policy action to halt global warming.

    It would matter if this were to stop happening, but the evidence you have provide suggests the contrary.

    It being discredited is rather poetic.

    It has not been discredited in the eyes of those who credit it … which is the irony of our discordian reality.

  18. Still no word from McI, my guess is he is doing his damnedest to find pro warming papers that have parts plagiarised. Given the sheer volume he will be succesfull. But at a guess the first of the pile, things like MBH98 and so on turned up null for him.

  19. Still no word from McI

    Nor yet from The Climate Scientist of The Year, strangely. This despite threads entitled “On admitting and correcting mistakes”, “Brain Sprain” and (I kid you not) “Scholars and Scandals”.

  20. Same Ordinary Fool Reply May 24, 2011 at 12:22 am

    There’s an additional element, beyond the straight plagiarism. There are instances in which the words are copied, but then the conclusion is changed.

    Who would have done that?

    • Same Ordinary Fool,
      It’s ‘falsification’, much more serious than plagiarism, but plagiarism is easier to prove and is still academic suicide.

      Clearly, the plagiarism and falsification nearly worked. But like all high-risk strategies, it’s disaster when things go wrong.

      As for why? The only reasonable conclusion was that what was plagiarised didn’t fit the message that was desired, and the passages were altered accordingly.

      Wegman, Said et al. [excluding Scott] deserve to be humiliated, stripped of qualifications and kicked-out of academia. Doubtless they’ll be looked-after by Koch.

      • Why? They’ve had their use and are expendable. They’d be digging themselves even deeper if they would claim they were bought…

  21. McI has finally weighed in with Climategate documents confirm Wegman’s hypothesis.

    His timing was perhaps not great, as people should see the 17-page PDA @ DeSMogBlog, which annotates Wegman’s email to Elsevier and other interesting material.
    Do put your coffee down first.

    • Seriously, John, the audience at Climateaudit doesn’t care. Just see how they swallow everything he says hook, line and sinker. I mean, just see all the defense of his mate McKitrick, regardless of the many flaws in the McKitrick&Michaels paper. People there think the issues in MBH98/99 are truly grievous, but care nothing about the issues in the papers published by their “pal” network.

      I know I am putting it a bit black-and-white. Nick Stokes tries valiantly to put some sanity back in there, but McIntyre will have none of that.

  22. Marco: I am delighted to have seen McI’s post, I’d despaired of him going on the record before Strange Tales and Emails appeared, but he made it, just barely.

    I would be astonished if the CA crowd cared, but I’m happy to WebCite for future use.

    Here’s an Editorial in Nature today.

    Let’s see:
    1) CA crowd OR
    2) Editors of Nature

    Who should I try to convince? It’s hard to get both.
    I guess I’ll have to give that some thought … for at least a nanosecond.

    • John,
      I have been following both DC’s and your research and am jubilant that Nature has weighed in with an editorial. Let’s hope the investigations at GMU and elsewhere bear useful fruit. I also hope that it sends a message the the network of anti-science deceivers that they will be caught-out and eventually punished.

      Once again, massive thanks to you and DC. Without such dogged detective work and diligent perseverence, this would never have happened. Both of you deserve the gratitude of all people who appreciate science, scientists and detest the deceptions of the FF industry. Also thanks to the person who originally pointed DC in the right direction, whose name I forget.

  23. The Climate Audit faithfull are not the target. The target is showing the casual readers of newspaper blogs and the like that Wegman was not a clean pair of hands. When Wegman is presented as an unbaised referee in the hockey stick melodrama that can now be challanged by his disreputable work.

    When blog science first emerged about 5 years ago it was new and could present itself as a honest voice against a corrupt mainstream, but as the years have gone on and predictions failed, smeers collapsed and hosts of bad blog postings that can be brought up to show the lack of credibility of the blogger its value to the delayers has diminished.

    For me, when one of these blogs is held up as an authority its now usualy easy to show simple mistakes or defenses of bad science. This Wegman thing adds to the trend.

    I strongly suspect the advantage gained from the rise of the blogs is rapidly fading.

  24. I’m really ashamed of “my side”. This plagiarism thing has been breaking for a while and they have not called out the criminals for their behavior. And the plagiarism is systematic. Also sympotomatic of a general trashiness of the analysis. Just lazy and not digging into content enough. but they cheered it cause they liked the result and it was a big name. Big mistake. non Feynmannian.

    These guys are all bad news. Buncha nitanoid failures jerking off on the Internet. Cowardly equivocators.

    • TCO!

      What gets me is that many folks on your side are not skeptics in the truest sense of the word, for if they were, they wouldn’t trumpet every one-off paper that comes along that has even the hint of contrarian aroma or talk about weather being cold during winter… A true skeptic would interrogate both sides with equal fervour.

      I love Feynman but I suspect it was far easier for him to hold true to his scientific principles given his field of study and the times. He might find being a climate scientist in the current political environment a tad more challenging to his value system.

      He was really funny, if you listen to his lectures.

  25. Back to the importance of Wegman… As Policy Lass asserts, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s conclusions are absolutely crucial to the narrative that has been built up at Climate Audit. I waited to post to see how McI would react and as I thought, he defended the conclusions using Climate-gate emails. He also attempted to sneak in Carley’s statement that

    she didn’t characterize anything within the article as ‘wrong’

    which is funny considering what she said about it. The importance of the narrative to CA is obvious. Otherwise the arguments are just about statistics and data. It’s difficult to argue results with experts, but much easier to create stories about those experts if they are part of a “Team” and that their results are not verified by independent, or non-interested parties, which McI has somehow convinced the CA culture that he is. Without the paleo-IPCC scientists looking like a bumbling, incompetant, network of biased fools, CA is reduced to short-centered PC’s and denied FoI’s.

    If SNA were not important to CA, the reaction would have been to run from Wegman and Said’s crap as fast as possible. But I’m convinced it’s a linchpin in the story.

    Sports question: Is anyone aware when the Kyoto Flames became the NHL’s first Japanese expansion team?

    • Grypo, McIntyre was ‘right’ in stating Carley did not characterize anything as ‘wrong’. Opinions are never wrong. They may be based on incomplete, biased, or simply wrong background information, but that does not make the opinion as such wrong.

      Of course, when we call McIntyre an idiot, that’s an opinion that definately is not ‘wrong’ either…

      • Rattus Norvegicus Reply May 29, 2011 at 8:51 am

        Actually, I think that she characterized it as “not even wrong”. It wasn’t in the pull quotes, rather it was in the paragraph which preceded them in the article, but she did say that Wegman, et. al. presented no data to back up their conclusions. That is pretty damning.

      • Yes, let me clarify. McI’s takehome message is that Carly said it’s not “wrong”. This is not Carley’s message however, of course, but Said’s methodology and paper are irrelevant to the CA narrative. As long as the idea or hypothesis isn’t proved “wrong”.

        In other words, perhaps Steve’s opinion of Said 08 is ‘right answer, wrong method equals good science’.

        Could this situation contain much more ironic occurrences?

        • She also didn’t say Wegman’s paper wasn’t pink or that it’s smell wasn’t pleasant.

          When people switch track and characterise the situation in a way which permits them to maintain their current position but distort or wilfully misinterpret evidence in order to do so it’s a sign they’re not thinking rationally. Other people thinking irrationally will join in and you’ll have a nice happy camp full of people who all agree.

          That basically summarises every post on McIntyre’s blog I’ve ever read.

          Occasionally someone will wade in and attempt a rational fact-based discussion of the topic (e.g. Nick Stokes recently) but this will never go well owing to incompatible approaches.

          “Could this situation contain much more ironic occurrences?”

          Remember, the entire IPCC report was discredited because 2035 was incorrectly included as the melt date for Himalayan glaciers.

          A group of people that have declared the entire output of climate science for several decades as “not good enough” think the Wegman report/paper is “good enough” despite the massive copy-paste exercise. That’s beyond irony.

  26. So, I’ve had independent, cordial email conversations with 3 top SNA people, 2 of whom are public and quoted. In chronological order, that’s:

    last summer
    1) Garry Robins, as per SSWR, section W.5.6.3, p.151.
    I guess those claiming there was no argument with the conclusions haven’t read that or somehow think they are SNA experts. It has only been 8 months.

    2)A second person, unidentified, who had similar comments, but I didn’t got to bother of getting public quotes, but it certainly confirmed the opinion.
    The horse was already dead and SSWR was already huge. He was delighted to see the retraction recently, and had the apt comment I wish I’d thought of:

    “Too bad you can only retract papers when it turns out they were plagiarized, when they should be retracted for not having any coherent or sensible argument.”

    3) Kathleen Carley, quoted recently in USA Today. Ironically, as noted in Strange tales and Emails, Carley came to Vergano’s attention by being mentioned by Wegman as an expert in his email to Elsevier.

    Now, no serious SNA person is going to waste their time publishing a paper to disprove a faux research paper that never would have survived the first look in any SNA journal and had no business being in CSDA. All 3 were kind enough to spend some time looking at the paper for strangers, all did it without knowing about the others.

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