Wegman investigated for plagiarism, “skepticgate” looms

by Gareth on October 9, 2010

George Mason University has confirmed that it is investigating allegations of plagiarism by Professor Edward Wegman, author of the hockey stick hatchet job “Wegman Report”. According to USA Today, the investigation began earlier this year after a letter of complaint from Raymond Bradley (as in Mann, Bradley and Hughes) whose textbook Paleoclimatology: Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary was extensively copied and crudely altered in the report to Congress. USA Today credits the investigation by Canadian blogger Deep Climate and the extensive report on errors in Wegman’s document compiled by John Mashey (covered here last month). Wegman declined to comment, but has confirmed that litigation is involved. Informed speculation suggests that this may be related to copyright issues — likely to be a problem for anyone who lifts 30% of a report from other people’s work. The story has also been picked up by the Washington Post, and Andy Revkin at Dot Earth has dubbed the affair SkepticGate. This scandal may be about to go mainstream — and not before time.

More coverage at Deep Climate, Things Break, Rabett Run and The Cost Of Energy.

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave, London October 9, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Correction: Edward Wegman, not George.

Dave, London October 9, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Now corrected, I see.

Gareth October 9, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Yes, thanks. Spotted on my mobile…

(He’s lucky I didn’t call him Edward Mason)

silence October 9, 2010 at 2:18 pm

If this is treated typically by the US press, we’ll see a brief mention (mostly in the back pages) and then it will completely disappear. And that will be the end of it.

The left in the US just doesn’t have the ability to force the press to cover things.

toby October 11, 2010 at 12:33 am

Deniergate, not “Scepticgate”.

The name is justified because the scandal is Washington-associated, and involves senior political figures (Congressmen Barton and Whitfield).

R2D2 October 11, 2010 at 9:09 am

Wow get excited Gareth. Their is a big difference between this (if it is true) and ‘Climate Gate’. If paragraphs were plagiarised that would reflect badly on Wegman. But it would not falsify his argument. The climate gate emails showed that decenting voices to were being shut out from the litriture, and that the small cadre of lead climate scientists themselves were unable to explain recent temperature trends. This was a much bigger issue.

Gareth October 11, 2010 at 10:20 am

Paragraphs? 30% of the report! Read my original story and John Mashey’s investigation report. The Wegman Report was thrown together to meet an entirely political objective, its conclusions predetermined.

The stolen emails did not show dissenting voices were excluded from the literature, or unable to explain recent temperature trends. But that subject is OT here…

RW October 11, 2010 at 10:47 am

What abolute rot. “Small cadre”? You are one of the most persistent trolls on this forum, and your repetitiveness shows that you have learnt nothing from the informative replies that have been made to you. Your respect for the facts is at about the level of your spelling.

R2D2 October 11, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Haha tru teh spelin wasnt the gratest in that won! Will do beta profing in the futcha

CTG October 12, 2010 at 7:49 am

What a hypocrite you are, R2.

Here is a genuine instance of scientific fraud, and all you can say is “no biggie”.

It looks as though Wegman lied to Congress, which could see him spend time in a federal prison. Although given that big oil finances GMU, I’m sure he won’t be short of funds for his defence.

John D October 12, 2010 at 9:47 am

I am not entirely sure that plagiarism is “scientific fraud”

It is certainly something that warrants investigation, but a PhD student who did this would maybe told to rewrite a section of their thesis and/or correctly attribute the work.

I wouldn’t expect them to go to jail over it

Gareth October 12, 2010 at 11:19 am

A first year university student who did this would be disciplined. A masters or doctorate candidate who did this would be unlikely to be given a second chance, probably failed. For a senior academic to do this could be career-ending.

John D October 11, 2010 at 10:58 am

Whether the charges of plagiarism stick or not, will it change the fact that the short-centred principal components analysis that Mann used can produce hockey sticks from red (i.e random) noise?

Gareth October 11, 2010 at 11:24 am

Nice attempt to distract. Mann’s techniques did not “mine” for hockey sticks. Hockey sticks emerge from the data whatever statistical techniques you use. Further discussion OT.

John D October 11, 2010 at 11:28 am

Hockey sticks emerge from the data whatever statistical techniques you use

Er, that is what I was saying. Even if your input data is random.

Gareth October 11, 2010 at 11:54 am

You misunderstand. Any hockey sticks shapes from random data are orders of magnitude smaller than “signal”. But with real data hockey sticks emerge whatever techniques you use

bill October 11, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I agree with Gareth; try checking out the actual scale on any of those graphs Monckton uses!

Richard C1 October 12, 2010 at 8:33 am

And this is why deniers will eventually lose. Well, this and the fact that harvests wont be as productive, fishing boats will return with smaller catches, etc.
The debating technique that John D uses here is common in denialism, deliberately misinterpret a point, even if it doesn’t make sense, to attempt to claim some sort of point. Denialism is all about point scoring. Except it never stands up to scrutiny, and it doesn’t work on the slow timescales of politics or science.

tomfarmer October 11, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Perhaps of note: D-list trolls almost always pump the “bigger issue” meme..

Thought to be enabling.. for those in need.. as opposed to scientists who know what these are and have little need to express/re-express them.

John D, subject to GT’s okay, would you like another actual origin — I’m asking because you will not like it — to the belief-based assertion you made above.?

John D October 11, 2010 at 2:09 pm

“D-list” troll? I am flattered!

So perhaps you’d like to show me some research that validates Mann’s short-centering PCA algorithm, and justify why he used it.

By the way, there seems to be very little of substance to the plagiarism claims, reading Tom Fuller’s synopsys.I don’t know why they are bothering when all it’s going to do is get us “D-Listers” out of the woodwork and pull out all the skeleton’s out of Mann’s cupboard again.

Aren’t you better to let it go and pretend the Hockey Stick never existed?

Gareth October 11, 2010 at 2:56 pm

JD: “there seems to be very little of substance to the plagiarism claims, reading Tom Fuller’s synopsys”.

Well now, why would you trust Tom Fuller’s word? Why not go to Mashey’s report and read it for yourself? The plagiarism is obvious and extensive — particularly in the “social network analysis” section (p119 of Mashey, link in post above). Wegman’s university thought it serious enough to investigate, remember…

adelady October 12, 2010 at 12:16 am

John D, this is science, not lit. crit.

Even if it were litcrit, what would we say about Mann’s opus? Oh well his first major work needed better ….. (some literary jargon or other) …. but his talent shone through regardless. His later work has developed all those positive signs and the rough edges have been smoothed away.

Science is a bit different. Early work is just the groundwork for the scientist personally or the scientific community generally to produce further work. NOBODY CARES that an early, original work could have been better had the writer had the benefit of the advice and experience that all later projects in the field have done. Every single thing we do could have, should have, would have been done better if we’d had the advantage of hindsight, or advice, or guidance from someone who’s already been there.

The only question is whether it is valuable for the field generally. The answer has to be Yes. Why? Because so many people have picked up the baton and run with it. And the man himself has been able to do further work on it. If it had been valueless, people would simply have ignored it.

John D October 12, 2010 at 9:09 am

You might want to read The Hockey Stick Illusion by A W Montford.
Apparently it has hit big time on Amazon


Of course, if you don’t read it then you’d have less ammunition to argue with. That’s your choice.

Gareth October 12, 2010 at 11:27 am

Or you might not: here’s a rather telling review – The Montford Delusion. Turns out its a work of propaganda…

John D October 12, 2010 at 11:51 am

Link to RealClimate as evidence of propaganda?

Please, I am not that stupid.

Phil Scadden October 12, 2010 at 11:59 am

You could just CHECK the statements at RC and then decide which is the honest portrayal dont you think?

John D October 12, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I could CHECK the comments at RC, but | know that RC is heavily moderated and that they delete comments that don’t fit the party line.

I have also read Montford’s book. It is not an easy read, but it certainly doesn’t read like propaganda

I have also read Judith Curry’s comments on the HSI. Since she is a mainstream tenured professor in Climate Science, I think that her comments are worthy of note.

Realclimate is a propaganda website, administered by Gavin and his attack dogs to prop up their shady careers, people who have done the name of science untold damage.

Gareth October 12, 2010 at 12:19 pm

You really have drunk the denialist Kool-Aid, haven’t you? RealClimate features working scientists writing about real science, and is essential reading. There is no equivalent on the “sceptic” side because — well, none of them do any real science. The people who do the “name of science untold damage” are “advocacy scientists” such as Fred Singer and Pat Michaels (who coined the term to describe his own activities).

adelady October 12, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Propaganda at Real Climate? I’m old enough to have lived through real propaganda (grew up during the Cold War, lived through the 60s & 70s infatuation with Marxism and the rest).

I rarely contribute at RC. Not because of a failure of conformity or politics or propaganda, but because my knowledge and skills base is just not up to the standard usually required. We’ll just ignore the fact that I choose not to do the hours of reading and other work needed to get up to speed.

I feel that many, don’t know about you in particular, who complain about RC are simply unwilling to put in the effort required to keep up. There are a couple of commenters who get on my wick because they push a barrow that just scrapes past the moderation – though I suspect they’ll shortly get cut altogether if they don’t lift their game.

If all these science sites were visual arts sites, how much space would be allowed for people chipping in with comments about “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like”? And that’s really the standard of comments we’re talking about.

Doug October 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Yes you are.

Well just based on everything you have said on this site. Still waiting for some actual science from you. You know articles in peer reviewed journals that actually support your case. By the way what is your case that climate scientists are part of a conspiracy to make vast amounts of money on science grants?

bill October 12, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Reply to John at 28 (reply function not working (due to being too deeply nested?)

Realclimate is a propaganda website, administered by Gavin and his attack dogs to prop up their shady careers, people who have done the name of science untold damage.

In reality RealClimate is the most boffiny of all the blogs where the debates are frequently so technical they’re way over my head, and, I’d suggest, well over yours! Responses on key issues are long and frequently highly detailed. Hardly a feature of a propaganda site.

And as for these ritualised bleating bully/victim ‘we’re being censored’ claims regarding posts there – do you know this from your own experience? No, I didn’t think so. Perhaps you’re just repeating something ‘everyone’ at WUWT ‘knows’?

Judith Curry is ‘worthy of note’ solely because she’s says some stuff you like, but Gavin Schmidt only merits blatant defamation!

Could you be any sillier?

RW October 12, 2010 at 2:53 pm
Gosman October 11, 2010 at 6:01 pm

This is how you deal with dodgy science, by pointing out flaws in research technique and the results. You don’t do it by shutting down the debate or refusing to talk to people you disagree with.

Richard T October 11, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Nor do you do it by intimidation, harassment, threats of and actual legal action, abuse, making knowingly false accusations, indulging in ad-hominem attacks, conducting organised smear campaigns, lying, etc, etc. All topics which deniers are very familar with.

You do it by making reasoned balanced arguments and backing them up with evidence. Hmm, seems the deniers aren’t too familair with this tactic. You will earn the right to be listened too when you disavow the former and practice the latter.

John D October 11, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Richard T

Is this comment aimed at anyone in particular?

Or is it just a random attack on the Evil Deniers(tm)

Richard T October 11, 2010 at 9:37 pm

I was half-agreeing with Gosman. I had in mind NZCSC, CSET, and ACT. I have listened to denier arguments for over 25 years now, in the early days some points may have had merit, but careful research and a huge effort by the science community has on the whole set these concerns aside. It is very frustrating to see so many of the now discredited arguments mindlessly repeated and more latterly the introduction of a politically inspired hate-campaign against climate-scientists. Some deniers are evil, some are thick as pig s**t, the majority are neither but are ignorant of science and let their political sympathies too strongly influence their thinking on this topic.

John D October 12, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Eisenhowers words were :

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite

(h/t Willis @ WUWT today)

Gareth October 12, 2010 at 12:53 pm

“Could” being the operative word. In fact, the policy making process in the US has become captive to the interests of the corporate wealthy.

Phil Scadden October 12, 2010 at 3:02 pm

JohnD – you read a book and claim that now you dont know need to check RC claims. WTF. Your claims about RC are patent denialist propoganda but somehow you believe it. The right way to find how who you trust and who isnt reliable is to check the claims, THEN decide.

John D October 13, 2010 at 2:05 pm


I will trust the guys at RC over my dead body.They are all heavily implicated in the Climategate emails.

No one has explained this email


Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis.

Can you also email Gene [Wahl] and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address.

We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.

I see that CA claim they discovered the 1945 problem in the Nature paper!!



Phil Scadden October 13, 2010 at 2:46 pm

JohnD – science is something that can be checked. Check then decide. As to that comment – well Phil Jones having a bad day after repeated FOI harassment. Gavin described it as an ill-advised suggestion on RC. If you want fraud and misrepresentation, go to skeptic sites.

RW October 13, 2010 at 4:35 pm

It’s your “scientist” denialist heroes who can’t be trusted – along with their followers – in your case, a tedious troll endlessly repeating your mantras in the hope that reality will just go away and not trouble you or anyone else.

John D October 13, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Another outstanding contribution from RW, whose only line of argument is to call everyone a “tedious troll”

I did provide you some information for you after you accused me of “mental masturbation”. I don’t recall a reply. Were you otherwise engaged in self-pleasure?

So, I have provided peer-reviewed evidence in the past. I have asked questions about this email, which in my view is possible evidence of criminal activity, and I get called a “tedious troll”.

Thanks again for your contribution.

RW October 14, 2010 at 7:14 am

Your arguments and “information” have already been discredited many times over. I see no general necessity to repeat the refutations. And when I have directly challenged one of your idiot tribe on a specific point, the response has always been a deafening silence. You have a hell of a nerve to talk about fraud in this context. Go and consult with, say, the idiots who have slandered Jim Salinger and others – see if between you you can come up with amything even remotely convincing. I won’t hold my breath.

JMurphy October 14, 2010 at 6:09 am

John D wrote : “You might want to read The Hockey Stick Illusion by A W Montford.
Apparently it has hit big time on Amazon”

At the moment, it has hit the dizzying heights of…598.

Big time !

To any ‘so-called skeptic’, a book like this being in the top 1000 means the public are anti-AGW, the scientists are all in a big conspiracy and the UN New World Order will soon be brought crashing down by self-appointed blog ‘scientists’ and auditors.

tomfarmer October 14, 2010 at 8:28 pm

John D @ 21,

Your need to get out there more is pretty obvious. Annotating yourself a D-list troll when I had specifically made the pertinence and point of that description clear ( ie not aimed at you at all) PLUS thereafter referred to you by name.. adds up to amazing. Nay, incredible, for thence your taking it as a compliment!

Anyway, fyi, the so-called centering question is not for me to answer. It would more properly be addressed to M&M with their present and past cohorts. If you’ve gotten the balls to follow through.

As to the email content later related by you, what business if any at all, is that of yours? Or do you have a preference for some other role also.. like accessory-after-the-fact.?

JMurphy October 16, 2010 at 12:22 am

Sorry, I was wrong about that Montford fiction book : it is actually at 1294 now.
Still hitting the big time…

Eco Divad October 16, 2010 at 1:28 pm

If you have specific questions about this book, you could address them to the author, since he does read this blog, and also links to this site on his blogroll.

As far as I know, the book has no reference to “New World Orders” or any such nonsense. You can find all that in the UN online documentation.

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