Scientific misconduct and skepticgate

I have been interested in scientific misconduct recently – partly as a result of the Hauser scandal. Consequently I was reading about a recent conference on the subject. The documents included plagiarism right up there with the more commonly accepted forms of misconduct like falsification of evidence.

Plagiarism is the use of text from others’ writing without attribution. Now I realised that this was a big issue for student assessment at universities but apparently it is also an issue for scientific journals. Many journals now use a computer programme to check out submitted papers for plagiarized content.

Just imagine, though, there is a whole field of scientific publishing where such things would not be routinely checked. I am referring to popular science articles, newspaper articles – and reports to clients, including governments.

Well, the proverbial seems to be hitting the fan for one such report – the Wegman report. Gareth at Hot Topic briefly reports this in his article Wegman investigated for plagiarism, “skepticgate” looms.

What is the Wegman report?

This report is frequently quoted by climate change sceptics, contrarians and deniers. It is central to the “Hockey Stick Controversy” they promote*. This refers to climate change sceptics/deniers attempts to discredit the work of Michael Mann and his co-workers on historic trends in global temperature. In fact the claim that Mann’s work has been discredited is one of the central myths deniers use. See my post  Climate change deniers’ tawdry manipulation of “hockey sticks” which was a response to a local manifestation of this myth by blogger Poneke (13 years of Climategate emails show tawdry manipulation of science by a powerful cabal at the heart of the global warming campaign). Poneke even claimed, at the time, that the IPCC had dropped Mann’s work.

Climate change skeptics managed to get the US House of Representatives to hold Committee hearings on Mann’s “hockey stick.” As part of the political maneuvering some republicans formed the Wegman Committee to investigate and report on Mann’s work. Hence the Wegmann Report.

Incidentally around the same time other members of the House asked the authoritative  National Research Council to do their own investigation. This resulted in the report  Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years. Its very thorough, authoritative and was itself thoroughly reviewed. It basically supported Mann et al’s findings (with some criticisms), so you don’t often find deniers mentioning it* (although they will sometimes selectively quote extracts in a distorting way).

I have read both reports, was impressed with the National Research Council report but found Wegman’s report biased, and actually disingenuous.

Plagiarism found

For a while now the Canadian blog Deep Climate has been uncovering aspects of the political maneuvering behind the Wegman Committee. It has also been reporting a very detailed analysis of the Wegman report which found extensive and crude plagiarism. One of the persons plagiarised, Raymond Bradley a co-author of Michael Mann’s,  formally complained to Wegman’s employer which began an investigation (see University investigating prominent climate science critic).

Deep Climate has also released an analysis by John Mashey which exposed extensive plagiarism by Wegman and his students in other publications. Including some Ph.D. theses by students. (See Strange Scholarship - pdf file).

The Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (a political climate change denier) is currently carrying out a witch hunt against Michael Mann and the University of Virginia (see Ken Cuccinelli seems determined to embarrass Virginia). Ironically, one of the documents he relies on is the Wegman Report. Perhaps he should be directing his legal attentions at Wegman and his employer George Mason University – which after all is in his state.

This story is going to be interesting so keep an eye open for the results of the investigation.

The story has been picked up by several blogs and newspapers (see below) – strangely most of the usual critics of climate change science are so far silent.

*In my review of Ian Wishart’s book AIR CON, for example, I noted that he quoted extensively from the Wegman report and ignored completely authoritative National Research Council report (see Alarmist con).

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16 responses to “Scientific misconduct and skepticgate

  1. I’m sure the worlds media are poised to expose this and give it the same international coverage they gave to the stolen emails from UEA!

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  2. Yeah, right!

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  3. Any minute now.
    Just you wait.

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  4. Note, when SSWR was written, I didn’t know Air Con mentioned Wegman, but it is in the next iteration, giving NZ an entry in the book sweepstakes.
    Amazon tells me it’s from “Howling at The Moon Publishing,” a publisher with which I am unfamiliar, but a quick search brought me this page, worth perusing in its entirety.

    (Note: sad to say, I haven’t visited NZ for a few years, after ~12-13 yearly visits.)

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  5. Hi John.

    If interested you could also have a look at Wishart’s blog TBR.cc ». He is going off at another tangent now but until recently the promotion of denier stories was his constant task.

    Howling at the moon is Wishart’s own publishing company – I don;’t think it publishes anything besides his books (and maybe his Investigate magazine).

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  6. Richard Christie

    He published this flight of fantasy too:
    A Mother’s Story: the Civic Creche Child Sex Trial
    By Joy Bander (not her real name but apparently one of the loudest of the witch-hunters)

    http://www.mightyape.co.nz/product/Book/A-Mothers-Story-the-Civic-Creche-Child-Sex-Trial/7512765/

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  7. I didn’t know that Richard.

    I wonder what other books he has published besides his own. Thinking about it I would expect there would be a number if local conspiracy theory driven or conservative Christian authors who could have published through him. But I have not really bothered following Wishart or his company over the years.

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  8. Richard Christie

    The Creche thing comes complete with satanic torture fantasies. A subject not unrelated to Wishart’s other areas of interest. [Sorry for thread sidetrack.]

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  9. The Creche thing comes complete with satanic torture fantasies.

    Child care facilities that are really secret satanist sanctuaries.
    Oh sure.
    Right. :(

    Dumb, dumb, horribly dumb.
    People actually went to jail for this make-believe crap.
    The hysteria and paranoia that can trump the justice system in multiple countries so easily is frightening.
    A justice system is supposed to be more robust than that.

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  10. Richard Christie

    Thanks Cedric, but in my mind that subject deserves links to more than a movie.

    Christchurch (Peter Ellis) case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Hugh_McGregor_Ellis

    McMartin case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McMartin_preschool_trial

    Wee Care case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wee_Care_Nursery_School

    I could go on.
    [Declaration of interest: I provided much of the preceding Ellis article, the case has been a long-standing research interest of mine.]

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  11. John Mashey proved long ago that he is not the brightest candle in the chandelier.

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  12. Sounds like you have an axe to grind, Tom. And haven’t considered John’s analysis of Wegman’s report at all.

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  13. Richard Christie

    Tom, too many snide remarks in that link of yours for me to read too far.

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  14. How bright do you have to be to be guilty of palgiarism?
    Wegman deserves everything coming to him.

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  15. Word for Word, A statement by Dr Freidrich Seitz former president of the Academy of Science,, I have never witnessed a more distubing corruption of the peer review process than the events that lead to this IPCC report, . Dr Seitz was commenting on the 1995 IPCC second accessment report which had been corrupted to suit the alarmist view. The IPCC has been found to be corrupt, the so called leading Scientific body sending its reports around the world has proven to be corrupted, according to Former President of the National Academy of Science, Dr Freidrich Seitz.

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  16. A statement by Dr Freidrich Seitz former president of the Academy of Science…

    Dr Freidrich Seitz?

    You name-dropped Seitz?

    (….stunned silence…)

    (….giggle…)

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha :)

    You have rocks in your head. Dumb doesn’t even cover it.
    Where did you find this name from?
    Some site somewhere?
    Do you have any idea who Seitz is/was?
    Did it ever occur to you to do some digging first?
    Nope.
    You got hypnotized by the Authority Fairy.

    The Authority Fairy came along and said “Oogity-boogity-boo. Here’s some name with a “Dr” in front of it. A “President”! A former president of “The National Acadamy of Science”.

    That was good enough for you. You lapped it up.
    In fact, you asked for a double-helping.

    …Dr Freidrich Seitz former president of the Academy of Science(..)according to Former President of the National Academy of Science, Dr Freidrich Seitz.

    Wow.
    I love it how you have to mention it twice just in case we were not all suitably impressed the first time around.

    (Oh, and it’s not the “National Academy of Science”. There’s no such thing. It’s the National Academy of Sciences.)

    Would you like to know a little bit about Dr Seitz?

    (…McDonald J looks a little lost and confused. His name-dropping did not go as planned. He nods his head cautiously…)

    Good.
    Learn.
    Watch.
    Then have the good grace to be embarrassed.

    32000 Scientists

    Like

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