Monthly Archives: December 2010

George Mason University’s endless inquiry

By Deep Climate

A year ago, I first identified scholarship issues in the 2006 Wegman report, the contrarian touchstone commissioned by Republican congressman Joe Barton as part of his concerted campaign to discredit the “hockey stick” temperature reconstruction and the scientists behind it, especially Michael Mann. (The report was produced by lead author George Mason University statistics professor Edward Wegman, along with co-authors Rice University professor David Scott and Wegman protégé Yasmin Said, although Scott seems to have had little to do with it).  Eventually, I demonstrated apparent plagiarism in 10 pages of background sections in the report, as well as in an obscure (but federally funded) follow-up article by Said, Wegman and two other Wegman acolytes. At the time, it seemed a matter of interest only in the blogosphere, while the mainstream media ignored the issue in favour of the bogus “climategate” scandal.

But it turned out that my work had come to the attention of at least one important player in this drama – paleoclimatologist and “hockey stick” co-author Raymond Bradley. Back in March, Bradley quietly filed an initial complaint with GMU alleging plagiarism by Wegman et al of Bradley’s own work, attaching some of my initial analysis. Two months later, Bradley updated GMU with my further evidence of more “widespread” plagiarism, including wholesale copying of passages from two social network text books and Wikipedia, in both the Wegman report itself, and the follow-up 2008  article by Said et al. Bradley also took special care to point out the discovery of federal funding for the latter, which made the apparent breaches of misconduct policy all the more serious.

None of this was known until the ever patient Bradley went public, notably in recent statements in online and print articles by USA Today science reporter Dan Vergano. Now, a comprehensive report by John Mashey, based on the complete communication between Bradley and GMU research vice president Roger Stough, along with an analysis of GMU’s academic misconduct policy, shows exactly why Bradley finally came forward. Strange Investigations at George Mason University [PDF 2.6 Mb ], presents a shocking picture of foot-dragging and lack of transparency at GMU. Despite the copious evidence presented by Bradley, no substantive action ensued until the belated August convening of the inquiry committee. That committee was supposed to have reported within 60 days of its ostensible nomination in April, and had only to consider the limited question of whether the allegations were substantive enough to warrant a full-blown investigation. Yet even the committee’s belated start only came after the intervention of Elsevier environmental sciences publisher John Fedor. Even worse, GMU’s Stough failed to provide promised progress reports, and the inquiry committee missed Stough’s stated September 30 deadline for delivery of its report. And Stough’s last substantive response in October to Bradley vaguely referred to needing “a few weeks more” to wrap up the inquiry phase, while since then he has stonewalled all further requests for updates.

So more than nine long months after Bradley’s initial complaint, GMU has yet to clearly reach the end of its initial inquiry, a phase that should have been pursued rigorously and resolved easily within GMU’s own timelines. That is especially so given the compelling evidence and the impetus of the serious issue of federal funding, which normally requires resolution of a misconduct inquiry within 60 days as a matter of law. All of this calls into serious question GMU’s misconduct policy and process, and indeed the university’s very commitment to fundamental principles of academic integrity.

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Open Thread #7

By Deep Climate

Yes, Wegmania continues on and on, but readers no doubt would like to discuss other topics as well.

The return of the Daily Mail’s David Rose and his claims that global warming “has halted” [h/t MapleLeaf] has brought forth a scathing rebuttal from the Guardian’s George Monbiot, apparently with the able assistance of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team. For background on Rose, see my post on  Rose’s first coverage of climategate and Mojib Latif’s supposed twenty-year global-cooling prediction, as well as the later gullible regurgitation of Steve McIntyre’s “hid the decline” falsehoods, complete with fake graphs.

Also from the Guardian come tales of Christopher Monckton’s shenanigans [h/t Holly Stick] at the climate conference in Cancun (where the government of Canada has been earning “Fossil of the Day” awards – five so far -  and no doubt will garner the overall “Fossil of the Year” award). Meanwhile, the UNFCCC process appears to be in deep trouble, as the political will to support effective action on climate change seems weaker than ever.

Wegman et al miscellany

By Deep Climate

John Mashey has suggested a new thread for general talk about various aspects of the Wegman Report, and I’m happy to oblige. Of course, the immediately preceding Replication and Due Diligence, Wegman Style will remain open for discussion of Wegman et al’s, ahem,  statistical analysis. But other Wegman Report discussion should happen here for now, pending further posts (and there are a few in the pipeline).

To get us started, here are excerpts from some interesting comments that came in over the last few days, comments which clearly show that the emerging expert assessments of plagiarism in the Wegman Report are showing just the tip of the iceberg (sounds like a good title for a future post).

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