Wegmangate: first blood

by Gareth on May 17, 2011

Plagiarism by George Mason University professor Edward Wegman and his team — first revealed last year by John Mashey and Canadian blogger Deep Climate — has now been acknowledged by Computational Statistics and Data Analysis. The journal has retracted a paper (Social networks of author-coauthor relationships, by Said, Wegman et al, CSDA 2008) by Wegman’s co-author Yasmin Said and Wegman himself, citing — according to a report by Dan Vergano in USA Today — “evidence of plagiarism and complaints about the peer-review process”. Sections of the paper, itself based on the social networks section of the Wegman Report on the statistics of paleoclimate reconstructions, were copied and pasted from Wikipedia. It was rushed into print in a matter of a few days — extremely unusual in academic publishing.

Most interesting, however, is that Said et al seems to provide an example of an extremely rare beast: a self-refuting paper. Said, Wegman et al suggested that studies where scientists collaborated between institutions could be more liable to bias than papers where the “principal author tends to co-author papers with younger colleagues who were his students”. Said was a PhD student in Wegman’s department.

For the full story, refer to USA Today (original and follow-up), Deep Climate (one and two), with more at Deltoid, and especially at Stoat, where WMC provides an excellent dog/homework cartoon. Meanwhile, the world awaits GMU’s much delayed determination of the original complaints against Wegman and his report made last year…

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

bill May 17, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Not much of a week for our opponents, really, what with Wegmangate proving to actually have substance – unlike some other ‘gates’ we could name – and Watts’ finally-arrived-but-now-best-ignored-(*Squirrel!*) surfacestations paper confirming that the proper scientists – and Eli Rabett – were right all along!

(I’m confused; with Watts properly published does this mean peer-review is a good thing now? Probably not, as it still tends to yield the wrong results!)

No wonder Wrathall’s looking for a handout elsewhere on this blog…

bill May 18, 2011 at 11:30 am

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”…

USA Today Editorial

To me that’s a pretty accurate assessment of the level of kookery required to still subscribe to this stuff! It’s no coincidence that so many ‘skeptic’ fellow-travellers subscribe to both ‘theories’.

As Obama asked the egregious Trump, “did we land on the moon,” guys?

The BEST fiasco, Watts et al vs. Watts hitherto, now this; talk about a long overdue need to quit while you’re behind!

tom May 18, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Bill,

You did say “kookery”? At first sight of GMU above and then your k-word I was prompted to recall how kochbros – one or t’other – hath bought big into whole faculties there, putting up tutors, lectures etc.. likely also paid scholarship seeker students.. to graduate shortly and go spread their gospel .. Upsetting folks at GMU I’ve heard.. and USA Today has timely explanation for why.. as alluded to.

John Mashey May 23, 2011 at 4:56 am
cyclone May 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I find the excuse (by the presumably more senior co-authors) in shifting the blame to other co-authors simply not believable.

I guess the key question is what was it that Said said and when was it that Said said what she was supposed to have said?

bill May 23, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Whereas Had had had ‘had had’, Had Had had had ‘had’… ;-)

Ah, yes, the ‘throw the student(s) under the bus’ gambit… consistent with the associated ‘the dog ate all my review emails’ gambit!

John Mashey May 25, 2011 at 10:09 am

The “:rest of the story” is at DeSmogBlog.

It has the page-long email from Wegman to Elsevier trying to avoid retraction in favor of an errata sheet listing the missing citations.
Azen considered it, Elsevier didn’t buy it.

Put coffee down before reading Wegman.

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