GMU contradictory decisions on Wegman: Plagiarism in CSDA, but not in 2006 congressional report

[Updates, Feb. 23-24: I have added extensive discussion "below the fold", starting with the section entitled GMU Process. The summary has been updated with additional links to side-by-side comparisons  to enable readers to make their own judgments.]

Dan Vergano of USA Today reports on an “all faculty” announcement from George Mason University concerning the outcome of two faculty committee  investigations of plagiarism charges against GMU statistics professor Edward Wegman.

One investigation concerned a 20o8 article by Wegman protege Yasmin Said, Wegman himself and two others in Computational Statistics & Data Analysis (CSDA). The committee upheld CSDAs previous plagiarism finding; as “team leader”, Wegman was found to bear responsibility and has been asked to retract the article and apologize to CSDA’s editor. GMU has also issued an official letter of reprimand confirming that finding of research misconduct.

A separate GMU committee investigated the 2006 congressional report commonly known as the Wegman Report, a critique of the Mann-Bradley-Hughes “hockey stick” reconstruction. That investigation held that “no scientific misconduct was involved”,  only “extensive paraphrasing of another work” that was “referenced repeatedly”.  [That finding holds that there was no plagiarism in Wegman Report background material derived from Raymond Bradley's Paleoclimatolgy; readers may judge side-by-side comparisons of the passages on tree-rings and ice core and coral proxies for themselves].  However, in a bizarre twist, it appears that the committee did not even consider side-by-side comparison of the Wegman Report’s long and unreferenced background section on social network analysis, part of which was reused in the later CSDA article and gave rise to the plagiarism finding in the other GMU case!


The two Wegman misconduct cases originated with a confidential complaint from “hockey stick” co-author Raymond Bradley in March 2010. It was based on my revelations concerning apparent copying from Bradley’s own work in Wegman Report background subsections on tree-ring and ice core temperature proxies.

A month later, Bradley updated GMU with my additional evidence concerning the report’s lengthy background section on social networks, which appeared to be copied from unattributed sources including two text books (including Wasserman and Faust’s classic Social Network Analysis), as well as the Wikipedia article on the subject. Bradley also pointed out my discovery that some of that material was reused in the subsequent 2008 CSDA article by Wegman, Said and two other GMU co-authors.

The GMU statement from provost Peter Stearns says the case “received wide publicity … inappropriately”. He also defended long delays as a result of both “federal requirements” and “due process”. However, Bradley went public only after GMU missed deadline after deadline. And the initial inquiry phase even appears to have lasted beyond May 2011, when the CSDA retraction of Said et al 2008 was announced. That occasioned a Nature editorial lambasting GMU for the unconscionable delay.  All of that seems a flagrant violation of federally mandated timelines, which require the inquiry phase to conclude within a few months.

The decision to separate the initial inquiry into two separate inquiries is also highly questionable, since the CSDA case involved a virtually identical subset (less than half, in fact) of unattributed social network material in the Wegman Report. [In a comment, "Rob" points out that the separate inquiries could make sense, especially as the CSDA article was also reported in a separate complaint to NIH Office of Research Integrity, and was not immediately passed on to GMU.  It is not known when the CSDA inqury began. ]

Even worse, as we shall see, there is strong evidence that the Wegman Report inquiry did not even consider this social network analysis material in its deliberations. If so, the GMU process went off the rails almost at its very start.


The finding of research misconduct in the CSDA article was obvious, especially as the investigation followed the journal’s own retraction and finding of plagiarism nine months ago. GMU has attempted to minimize the seriousness of the finding, referring to plagiarism occurring in a “contextual section” as a result of “poor judgment”. Despite that, this is an indelible black mark and will no doubt have further repercussions for Wegman and indeed GMU’s overall reputation. Much will depend on the subsequent automatic review by the Office of Research Integrity, which oversees much federally funded work.

The summary of the decision in the Wegman Report  case is worth quoting in full.

The committee investigating the congressional report has concluded that no scientific misconduct was involved. Extensive paraphrasing of another work did occur, in a background section, but the work was repeatedly referenced and the committee found that the paraphrasing did not constitute misconduct. This was a unanimous finding.

The reference to “extensive paraphrasing of another work” that was referenced “repeatedly” implies inevitably that the committee considered only the issue of whether passages derived from Bradley’s 1999 text, Paleoclimatology: Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary, constituted plagiarism. Even this narrow consideration of a smaller part of the evidence is problematic. The first long paragraph in the tree-ring passage is virtually identical to Bradley’s text, and the citation at the end of the third paragraph – a page away – does not attribute the preceding text and only applies to the calibration step in any event. Moreover, the sub-section on ice cores and corals also contains many phrases identical to Bradley, and has no attribution whatsoever.

But all this pales beside the apparent failure to evaluate another background section, that on social network analysis. As I showed in my discusson of this part of the Wegman Report(a section that ran a full five pages), almost all of that material was virtually identical to three antecedent, and completely unattributed, sources. Those sources are:

  • Wikipedia article – Social Networks (January 2, 2006 version) – Available online at
  • Stanley Wasserman and Katherine Faust, Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications. New York, Cambridge
    University Press, 1994.
  • Wouter de Nooy, Andrej Mrvar and Vladimir Batagelj; Exploratory Social Network Analysis with Pajek. New York, Cambridge
    University Press, 2005.

The evidence in the side-by-side comparison is overwhelming. And apparently the other GMU committee agrees (not to mention CSDA itself), even though the CSDA article used less than half of the social network material in the Wegman Report. For greater certainty on this point, here is the side-by-side comparison of the social network material used in the CSDA article with its antecedents. Unlike John Mashey, I didn’t do a three-way comparison and only used one column for the derived text. Why? Because the differences between the CSDA text and the corresponding text in the Wegman Report were so few that the trivial exceptions were easy to identify and note along the way.

The inevitable question, then, is how this investigation committee could possibly have failed to consider this part of the Wegman Report.  The most plausible explanation is that the committee was never even asked to consider it, and that the additional information provided by Bradley in April 2010 was not even incorporated in the preceding inquiry report.

And it should be also mentioned that there are still other problematic sections in the Wegman Report, including the remaining background section on PCA and noise models, and several of the summaries in the appendix (the latter analysed by John Mashey). But at least GMU could reasonably claim to be unaware of those problems, unlike the social networks material.

It’s also worth noting that the Wegman Report’s central analysis of the MBH “hockey stick” reconstruction  is also deficient, but that’s a story to be continued another time.


Much as GMU would like to “move on”, and consider the matter closed, that won’t be possible. For one thing, since the CSDA article was supported by federal funding from the National Institute of Health, that investigation will necessarily be reviewed by the Office of Research Integrity, which may elect to impose further sanctions.

As for the GMU investigation of misconduct in the Wegman Report, it is not clear (to me, at any rate) whether that would fall under federal review, as the congressional report was not peer-reviewed and was not supported by federal funding.

However, the clear failure to consider evidence presented by the complainant himself, along with failure to adhere to federally mandated timelines in the inquiry phase, constitute evidence of a major breach in the GMU response to this complaint. These clear failures of process are more than enough to warrant a complete investigation of the matter by the ORI, or at the very least, send the matter back to GMU for a reconsideration of the evidence. All of it, this time.

And the problems don’t end there. There still has been no apparent consideration of problems in recent PhD dissertations within Wegman’s group. [In a comment, "Rob" notes that possible plagiarism in three dissertations were reported to the GMU  Provost in October 2010. GMU has not provided updates since it is being treated as a "personnel matter".]

Nor have palpable problems in other work by Wegman and Said been addressed. That list includes two long review articles in the journal they co-edit (along with Wegman report co-author David Scott), WIREs Computational Statistics, as previously detailed in the following posts:

My understanding is that Wiley (the publisher of the WIREs series) is well aware of those issues, but it is not clear at present to what extent they have been addressed. The 2009 WIREs article Roadmap to Optimization, and its apparent unattributed reliance on 13 Wikipedia articles (!) and two other online pieces, was even covered by USA Today’s Vergano in October of last year.

And there is yet more evidence of problems involving Wegman and Said in two separate chapters in the Handbook of Statistics: Data Mining and Data Visualization, edited by Rao et al (and co-edited by Wegman himself).  That was published by Elsevier in 2005, thus even predating the Wegman Report.

So while the GMU decisions issued yesterday represent an important milestone along the way, this saga is far from over.

94 responses to “GMU contradictory decisions on Wegman: Plagiarism in CSDA, but not in 2006 congressional report

  1. Holy cow, what else can we expect this week?!

    • Hnnn. Call me cynical, but I’m a little suspicious of the timing. I can’t help but wonder if the GMU administration used the Heartland Affair as cover to release their tepid conclusions, hoping that the public’s eye would be distracted.

      As it stands however, all that GMU has done is drawn attention to the fact that its bureaucracy is not capable and/or willing to engage in impartial and appropriate investigation of academic misbehaviour by certain staff. The taint now extends to the administration as well as to Wegman’s group, and unfortunately to the faculty of GMU who are innocent of any academic wrong-doing.

      This is a purely hypothetical musing, but could the plagiarised authors seek ‘restitution’ in civil court? An independent (and impartial) legal scrutiny would likely come to a very different conclusion,with the bonus of costs and damages (even if they are largely nominal) awarded.

      And the result would be about the worst that Wegman et al and GMU could ever have hoped for…

  2. The Supreme Court of Virginia will rule on Cuccinelli’s case against UVA/Dr. Mann at the beginning of March. Maybe March 2 or so.

  3. Sounds like a whitewash? Greywash? I would be quite depressed if I were faculty at George Mason.

  4. Re Wegman: ” [T]he university will forward the investigation reports to federal authorities. The National Institutes of Health and the Department of the Army supported the 2008 study” (Vergano).

  5. I would be quite depressed if I were faculty at George Mason.

    Actually, no, you wouldn’t. Think about it …

    Now perhaps you would be if you were on staff of a less ideologically-driven University …

    • I disagree. I’m sure there are some at GMU who will be very upset. You simply can’t generalize about the faculty there.

    • dhogaza:

      DC’s right here. I asked two of my contacts at GMU, who are faculty members based at other departments there. They’ve been following the Wegman affair ever since Nature weighed in, and both are dismayed by the contradictory decisions as well as the ridiculous amount of time taken to investigate Wegman and Said. “Not one of our finest moments” as one of them wrote.

    • GMU biology student here. I don’t think most of the university is ideologically-driven. I know the biology department faculty knows about the Koch involvement at the university and the stuff that Wegman did, and they’re generally angry at the whole debacle; one of my professors, a senior faculty member in the department, told me that nobody on either of these sides approached anybody from the biology, geology, or environmental science programs at GMU, at least, to talk about it.

      Don’t ask me to speak for most of the rest of the students; I choose not to spend my social time there as most of them frankly can’t be trusted to add 1+1. I’m sure most of them are entirely unaware of the political machinations on their campus.

    • “…most of them frankly can’t be trusted to add 1+1.”

      Explains a lot ;)

  6. The chastisement for plagiarism seems mighty weak … again, not expected. Actually, it’s stronger than I’d expected.

  7. Well, in 709 days, GMU labored to rule on the ~6 pages of plagiarism that DC had found and transmitted in Ray’s 2 complaints. See SIGMU for the process, showing GMU’s continual violations of its own process.

    Recall Strange Scholarship, where I used DC’s WR/CSDA material to do a 3-way comparison, starting about p.118.
    CSDA is ~40% of that section of text from the WR.

    It is hard to understand how CSDA can be plagiarism, and the substantially larger text from which it came in WR, with zero citations, is NOT. Ray’s complaint pointed at the WR and to DC’s analysis of both.

    Elsevier forced a retraction over Wegman’s objections and Editor Azen’s resistance, see STaE.

    The “see no evil …” monkeys are perhaps a good theme.

  8. GMU: as I have said many times, there are many reasonable people at GMU, but it is clear that {Kochs, et al} heavily fund {Mercatus Center, Institute for Humane Studies} and Law/Economics and I think Public Policy and PoliSci. (People may recall I read Form 990s.)

    Many departments are sensible and do reasonable work.

    • “Many departments are sensible and do reasonable work.”

      See the rather nifty bibliographic software Zotero which comes from GMU.

      Excellent work.

      Still I’m not sure I’d want GMU on a shiney new sheepskin at the moment,

    • I’m certainly not proud of the fact that my undergrad degree will be coming from GMU. I would have rather gotten it from UVA or William and Mary, or even Virginia Tech or the University of Mary Washington, but I didn’t get in the first two (3.58 GPA for transfer not good enough for you guys?), and got in the latter two but deemed them too far away and having a biology program worse than GMU.

      The best I can do is build up my research background, which I am doing quite well (I spent a summer at the Smithsonian last year and may spend a summer at Woods Hole this year), and hope they think my record is good enough and proven to be scientifically rigorous and sufficiently full of integrity and that they can see the strengths of our biology department (which is worthy of respect, I think) that GMU’s administration’s nastiness will be overlooked.

    • @jrkrideau
      “See the rather nifty bibliographic software Zotero which comes from GMU.
      Excellent work. ”
      Huh. Cosmic irony?

  9. Oops, more.
    By their (and Federal) rules, they have to have notified the Federal agencies at the time at which the inquiry committee said an investigation was needed. They didn’t say whether they did that or not.

  10. Gavin's Pussycat

    …the university will forward the investigation reports to federal authorities. The National Institutes of Health and the Department of the Army supported the 2008 study.

    I suspect we haven’t heard the last of this. It’s a relief that, finally!, GMU extracted itself from the critical path.

  11. > Wegman was found to bear responsibility and has been asked to retract the article

    But the article has already been retracted, by the journal itself. How can Wegman retract it again?

    Also: it seems to me that they haven’t released their report, only a summary of the conclusions. Does that differ from any other well-known cases?

  12. The panel was split on two charges of Research Misconduct. On plagiarism in the Congressional Report, they found that no misconduct occurred; on plagiarism in the CSDA paper, they found that misconduct occurred and imposed sanctions. Just so all parties are clear, plagiarism is one form of misconduct in scholarship, and so Wegman was found to have committed Research Misconduct.

    I think the sanction is fair. Sloppy plagiarism in a small, largely irrelevant article in a cr***y journal merits an apology and retraction, and puts a huge black mark on the career of Wegman. We also have to remember that the NIH and DOD will likely recommend further sanctions. Wegman could be barred from federal funding for some specified period of time, or he could be barred from serving on federal panels.

    I never thought any panel would find misconduct in the Congressional Report, largely because I think it was outside their purview, despite one “expert” saying the plagiarism was “fairly obvious.” What that “expert” really meant (so I am led to understand) is that the plagiarism in the report was so obvious that it jumped out and hit you upside the head with a baseball bat. I think the “expert” thought better of such colorful language.

    • “The panel was split on two charges of Research Misconduct”.

      Although at the university level it was a “split decision”, in fact there were two separate investigation panels. I might consider altering the post title to “contradictory decisions”.

      “I never thought any panel would find misconduct in the Congressional Report, largely because I think it was outside their purview”

      Apparently, the previous inquiry committee decided it was inside their purview. But now the big question is: Will the Wegman Report be within federal oversight purview (e.g. ORI)? As far as I can tell that’s far from obvious.

      ” … the plagiarism in the report was so obvious that it jumped out and hit you upside the head with a baseball bat”

      Or a hockey stick.

  13. Out of curiosity, does anyone know what GMU does to students who are found guilty of extensive, serial plagiarism?

    • They’re pretty strict about it. At least in my department, thankfully.

    • It depends on the level. In a thesis or dissertation, the degree is revoked. I’ve seen an Honors Thesis withdrawn and the Honors Degree changed to a regular degree. I’ve seen doctoral degrees revoked. For undergrads, they always fail the assignment and usually fail the class, especially for upper division classes.

  14. Putting on my conspiracy theorist hat, I think GMU is trying to minimize the impact on Wegman’s career while appeasing its critics. A finding of misconduct on the CSDA article merely leads to a reprimand and an apology. But imagine what a finding of misconduct on the Wegman Report would have led to — it would be tantamount to saying that Wegman lied to Congress, which is a criminal act (and may also cause fallout on Joe Barton).

    – frank

    • Precisely. And don’t forget the headlines. No longer meh, ‘climate skeptic reprimanded for plagarism’. Instead you have ‘Report to Congress Casting Doubt on the Science on Global Warming Found to be Plagarized’, and louder as you migrated from the Times. It would dramatically elevate the whole affair, on top of the fallout for several people very close to the dirty energy industry, not least Barton, Rep. from Exxon.

      There are powerful people that simply wouldn’t allow ‘their’ instition be the cause of all that. And I’ve no doubt that’s how they see it.

    • While the motives suggested by Frank and Majorajam may be sufficient to explain GMU’s slow and inadequate response to Dr. Bradley’s complaint, it has long been my suspicion that GMU’s accreditation review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) was a significant factor. A year ago, my suspicion was as yet unsubstantiated; today, there’s more evidence to support this suspicion. And none of these motives touch upon the VA AG Cuccinelli’s baseless (i.e., based on Wegman’s report) civil investigative demands into Michael Mann’s research at U.Va.

  15. The Federal Government (or its Agencies) can agree or disagree with the decisions and/or the sanction. They can send either case back to GMU. I personally know of two cases where that happened, and the investigation process started over with a different panel of faculty.

    If new allegations come forward on the Wegman Report that are substantively different from the original allegations, then the case may be re-opened by GMU officials. This doesn’t seem likely to me, as the original allegations were detailed and thorough.

    However, if someone involved in the investigation becomes aware that the Respondent’s actions violate criminal or civil law, then GMU must make a decision on whether the violation should be reported to the Federal Government.

    The actual report is confidential and will not normally be released. It becomes part of the permanent record of the University.

    “Hockey stick…” DC: BRILLIANT! Really wish I’d thought of that.

    • I think Canadians use hockey sticks more.

      The report: Strange Investigations A.1 quoted the relevant parts of GMU’s policy, which generally seems a bit week. See p..22, item (h),
      “(h) Includes a recommendation as to whether the complainant should be notified of the results of the investigation and, if so, which parts of the report, if any, should be included in the notification;”

      Apparently, someone can file a complaint, and GMU decide enver to tell them anything.

      Rob seems to know his stuff, maybe he can comment on GMU’s policy.

  16. Absent from Provost Stearns’s comment was any reference to the problems found in several—ahem—prize-winning doctoral dissertations from Wegman’s students. Until those problems are publicly addressed, they represent a serious, long-term threat to GMU’s doctoral programs. Hiring committees evaluating recent Ph.D.s from GMU will make their own decisions about the value of a GMU degree. GMU might ignore the problems, but hiring committees won’t.

    If GMU faculty see their students’ careers at risk from this, they will pressure the administration to inquire into the dissertation problems and issue a public response. It might speed the process to publicize the problems more widely, at least within academic circles.

  17. I finally replaced “more to come” with “extensive discussion” (beginning at paragraph 4, GMU Process). So all comments before this time were based only on the opening summary, and all subsequent comments will presumably be based on the entire piece.

  18. DC,

    The CSDA complaint was made separately to the NIH Office of Research Integrity on April 26, 2010. The Wegman Report was not included in that allegation. They didn’t forward it to GMU immediately because they thought the allegation was incomplete. Thus, there is rationale for two separate investigations.

    The plagiarism in Said’s dissertation (as well as that in Sharabati’s and Rezazad’s dissertations) was reported separately to GMU Provost Stough on October 24, 2010. They have refused to provide updates, saying it is a personnel matter, so there is no indication that anything substantive has been done by GMU.

    • OK, those are good points. Of course, GMU could have started the CSDA inqury earlier, since it was in Bradley’s April 2010 communication with GMU. I’ll update the post accordingly.

  19. Anyone know the steps necessary to FOIA the reports?

  20. Ray reported the social networks stuff to GMU May 13th to GMU,
    referencing DC’s April 24th piece.
    The image is p.30 of Strange Inquiries at George Mason University.
    People might want to go back and refresh memories from the timeline there.
    Why on earth would there be 2 separate investigations?

  21. GregH,

    The reports are confidential since they are technically part of Wegman’s personnel records. I’ve written or helped write two. They often aren’t very informative, just conclusions. Most of the “facts” are in the allegations, which in this case were detailed.

    DC, a note has appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

  22. As context, people might read Curious Coincidences at GMU.

  23. Sounds like a Red Queen decision to me. Must have done wonders for GMU’s academic standing – not.
    Presumably, they have a commitment from the Kochs for continued funding and to cover any funding shortfall that results.

  24. GMU had to acknowledge the plagiarism in the paper because the journal had withdrawn it. The language GMU used is both interesting and dangerous
    ” occurred in contextual sections of the (CSDA) article, as a result of poor judgment for which Professor Wegman, as team leader, must bear responsibility.”

    Which means that GMU also has the responsibility of investigating and sanctioning whomever actually (according to GMU) plagiarized. Wegman’s responsibility is, according to GMU, not direct but derived. ORI could very well come back at them on this.

  25. I like the “poor judgement” part- they could use it anywhere. “Dick and Jane showed poor judgement when they decided to rob a few banks and shoot up the town.” The statement is written as if plagiarism is this new-fangled invention, a wild west of unknowns and vague rules about what is and isn’t plagiarism.

  26. Well, we now have this gem from student-run Connect2Mason.
    It mixes up DC and I, and quotes Wegman saying SSWR was conspiracy theory and such. Of course, from the emails in SIGMU Wegman certainly knew about this blog, and certainly knew about my report … and one might think the committees might have noticed… One would think someone on the committees would have watched this blog like a hawk.

  27. Hmm… I’d kind of be curious (and a bit nervous) to see what would happen if DC and Mashey were to train their eagle eyes on my own PhD thesis and WIRES review paper… I would hope that nothing would come up, but… in the process of writing any long document, it isn’t inconceivable that something cut and pasted from another document as a temporary “placeholder” might end up becoming part of the text, especially when multiple authors are involved… I feel like the Wegman examples are much more blatant than anything accidental that could have happened in my works – the one area I might be worried about is the “methods” sections of my computational papers which drew heavily on previous methods sections of other papers (but I feel like that is justified – why rewrite a model description once you’ve gotten it down right? Obviously, there’s a reference to the original paper, but there has to be a certain minimum amount of description in all the subsequent works so that each work can stand alone, and I don’t see why that mini-description shouldn’t just be repeated… again, this isn’t what we see in Wegman…).


    • something cut and pasted from another document as a temporary “placeholder”

      It should go without saying, but I think this is a very dangerous and error-prone practice, one which warrants a big honking “DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME” warning.

      Me, I’d probably either (1) express the content I want to express in my own words, immediately; or (2) not copy it at all, and perhaps put in a citation first with a note to expand on it.

      – frank

    • Another alternative, if I know I want to cite and possibly quote, is to copy and paste the block *and* the reference, perhaps along with a short in “my own words” summary. There should also be indication (either indenting or quotes) that it is copied from somewhere else. Then you can’t miss it when returning to it. In fact, that’s often how the body of my longer blog posts starts out, for what it’s worth – an outline with links added in order, along with some block quotes and some little one-phrase summaries.

  28. MMM
    I don’t think anyone gets too excited when someone in their field uses similar formulations or even phrases. It s quite easy for someone who has read extensively to have picked up good phrases and long forgotten where they came from.

    In all of this, the issue is “pattern or practice.” That’s why I spent so much time on Wegman Report: some examples might be OK, but as a totality … no way. That wasn’t just for plagiarism, but for the biases and errors.

    Anyway, there is a real difference between a neophyte grabbing text to cover lack of knowledge, and someone knowledgeable using standard stuff.

  29. shenderson has some more good analysis here.

    • Oops wrong thread … my 6 displays and 20 windows were working overtime.

      People might go back and review SIGMU. WHo knows, maybe Dr. Rapp will come forth again.

      1) In those emails, were there any traces of having parallel committees?
      I could find none, and there is no trace of any in some later events that are not yet public.

      2) SIGMU contains the relevant parts of GMU Policy 4007, which I’ve been told by an expert is weak, perhaps not in compliance with Federal rules. If anyone knows anything about that, more info would be useful. Their process certainly seemed to be unusually opaque/defensive. Many schools actually require that upon naming of committee, both complainant and respondent are told names of committee members, and often the complainant actually gets the reports. Usually the complainant gets notified, rather than hearing about it indirectly.

      3) See especially SIGMU p.21:
      ‘In conducting the investigation, the committee –
      (a) Uses diligent efforts to ensure that the investigation is thorough and sufficiently documented and includes examination of all research records and evidence relevant to reaching a decision on the merits of the allegations;
      (b) Interviews each respondent, complainant, and any other available person who has been reasonably identified as having information regarding any relevant aspects of the investigation, including witnesses identified by the respondent; and
      (c) Pursues diligently all significant issues and leads discovered that are determined relevant to the investigation, including any evidence of additional instances of possible research misconduct, and continues the investigation to completion.’

      SO, did GMU ever contact {DC, me, others here who filed formal complaints}? I can answer for me: no.

    • I wasn’t contacted by GMU. But I would not expect expect them to get in touch with an anonymous blogger.

    • And did people get Acks back from GMU?

  30. DC: indeed, given that it took them 15 months to think of trying to contact Ray, GMU wouldn’t have you very high on the list :-) On the other hand, some institutions would try, if they had a policy like GMU’s and actually wanted to execute it.

    • John,

      These committees can interview who ever they want, within reason. I don’t really see why they would have wanted to interview Bradley, and the complaint to the NIH ORI would have simply been forwarded to GMU, so there would have been no one to interview for that complaint. In the two cases on which I have sat, we had no interest in interviewing the Complainant, as all the information we needed was in the complaint. In the Wegman matter, the plagiarism was clear, and there should have been little to discuss. It is for the conspiracy theorists to speculate on why it took so long.

  31. 1) A *diligent* committee (as described above) might well ask “do you know of any more that has come to light since?” One would think an email adequate.

    2) Obvious cut-paste-edit plagiarism stands on its own, regardless of who sent it, This plagiarism was instantly obvious (especially in the later cyan/yellow aligned side-by-sides) to everybody except:
    a) Certain bloggers
    b) One of the committees
    c) Roger Stough (VP Research), Peter Stearns (Provost), Alan Merton (Pres.)
    Hey, it was even obvious to that one “expert” whose language was mild. :-)

    3) So, why on earth would GMU seek a phone interview with Ray, especially 15 months after his initial complaint? I do not know, but there is data.

    a) Wegman certainly was fighting this very hard, as seen in Strange Tales and Emails.

    b) 05/13/11 Dan Vergano’s USA Today story was the first mention of Wegman’s lawyer (past law partner of Ken Cuccinelli) Milton Johns, who had not appeared in the earlier stories Fall 2010. Of course, it is unknown when Johns was engaged and how he happened to be selected.

    c) 05/31/11 GMU asked for a conference call with Ray, who originally agreed, and in preparation, sent them this plus andrewt’s notes on item [a].

    d) Before the meeting, I’d dug back into the GMU policy, which continues beyond the part I quoted before:
    ‘The committee ensures that any interview conducted during the investigation is recorded, that a transcript of the recording is prepared, that the interviewee is provided a copy of the transcript for correction and the opportunity to comment on its contents, and that the transcript and any comments of the interviewee are included in the record of the investigation. The respondent may attend interviews of the complainant and witnesses and direct questions to them. The committee notifies the respondent at least 14 days in advance of the scheduling of his or her interview and any interview he or she is entitled to attend so that the respondent may prepare for the interview and arrange for the attendance of legal counsel or another authorized representative to advise the respondent at the interview, if the respondent wishes.”

    e) The meeting got delayed, Ray thought about this, and decided that that being grilled by Wegman and his lawyer seemed counterproductive, and offered instead to respond to written questions. [They never sent any].

    4) SO, put this together with the chronology from Strange Tales
    As of 03/16/11, Wegman was still hoping to avoid the CSDA verdict, but it’s hard to believe a lawyer would have let him write the email quoted there.
    By 05/13, the retraction was forced, and Wegman had acquired a lawyer.

    One might conjecture that:
    - GMU believed this would all go away if the CSDA thing went away.
    - When it didn’t, Wegman finally lawyered up.
    - When the retraction was publicized, 2 weeks later, GMU asked Ray for interview.

    Finally, I can find no mention anywhere of parallel committees until Stearns’ letter.

  32. DC, with respect to your question, rhetorical though it may have been, imagine you set out to quash a complaint of plagarism from a scientist whose work was plagerized, and you noticed that the evidence for plagarism was even more unequivocal for other author’s work? I’d guess you’d be pretty hell bent on interpreting that complaint narrowly. I know I would.

    GMU’s exclusion of the social network stuff is down to the way they defined the complaint down to include only Bradley’s work. For the same reason, my guess is there are no other investigations going on unless there have been complaints filed by the authors of the copied work (in which case those too will be stuck in ‘process’ ‘committee’ or whatever other absurdities GMU has been throwing against the wall, unless of course one of the complaintants goes public). Clumsy though it was, if the answer had to be assured, it was a necessary step in the process.

    Anyway, I think the damage is done to Wegman, Said, GMU and all those that relied upon its work. I have to commend you especially, for your contribution in bringing these truths to light.

  33. majorjam:

    Copyright != plagiarism, and anyone can file the latter complaints.
    (and several people did).

    As I will point out in some length in the near future, GMU is the recipient of Federal research funds, which generally are supposed to assume that academe is reasonably good at self-policing. [I believe that is actually true, and that most universities strongly guard their reputations in this. People spend much time on relatively thankless tasks like misconduct committees, for which they get no publications or grants, and for which they may get hassled. Within a day after PSU named the investigatory committee for Mike Mann, its members were getting email nastygrams.]

    • John, I’m not confused as to the distinction- save perhaps to the extent you would imagine I was- just wasn’t aware that anyone could file a plagarism complaint.

      But you’re right that I was wrong to highlight the complaint in the first place as being the trigger for any actual investigation of anything by GMU. The gist of my comments, especially the parenthetical, got at what is clearly the actual trigger for action, which was bad publicity. This is revealed by the abject lack of progress before Bradley went public, the subsequent glacial pace of the inquiry up until the CSDA decision and the statements about the inquiry’s findings revealing lament about the ‘impropriety of public airing of these complaints’.

      I’m not saying anything interesting here, I know, but it never ceases to amaze me how much public discourse involves dancing around the patently obvious.

      As an aside, I don’t particularly think that academia is good at policing academics, just like politicians aren’t good at policing other politicians, just like the law is a lot more leniant on white collar criminals than blue collar criminals, because of whose law it is. It’s just that policing is not really necessary in the normal course of academic endeavor, because incentives are aligned- frauds are exposed as researchers try to poke holes in one anothers work and outdo the other. And you can’t keep up in that environment being a plagarist.

      It is only in this decidedly unnatural turn of events- in particular an attack on an entire field of science orchestrated by non-scientists- where incentives cease to be aligned that ‘policing’ becomes relevant. As I see it that is.

  34. How many other publications are there from Wegman that acknowledge federal support, and which contain plagiarized text? It is simple matter to contact John Dahlberg at the NIH ORI and file an allegation.

  35. Rattus Norvegicus

    Meanwhile, in other Virginia news, the VA Supreme Court tosses Cucinelli’s CIDs “with predjudice”. Score one for the good guys.

    • A work of beauty. Not comprehensive in the sense that Dover was, but a beautiful slapdown regardless.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      Legally perhaps… the argument seems to be that the law Cuccinelli tried to use doesn’t apply to government institutions. Sounds too much like a ‘trick’ for my taste. Wonder what C will try next.

    • Sounds too much like a ‘trick’ for my taste.

      By cutting it off at the knees, the VA supreme court has made it clear that rogue AGs can’t go after records of state employees this way. It’s a far-reaching result that I am sure makes a lot of people, not just Mike Mann, not just researchers, feel a lot more comfortable about their state jobs.

      The lower court ruling (and the dissenting opinion in the supreme court case) was much more narrow, leaving open the door for an AG who’s better prepared to be able to successfully gain access to such records for criminal prosecution.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      this was meant to appear here…

  36. Rattus– isn’t this a great day! The Union of Concerned Scientists has a good statement.

    The court basically said Cuccinelli had no standing because UVA is the state. The majority opinion address the issue of no probable cause. A lawyer explained it all to me, but it was over beers on a Friday, so poof!

  37. Correction: The majority opinion DID NOT address the issue of no probable cause. A lawyer who retired from the DOJ actually explained it it me, but I was drinking beer. I am really happy!

    • Well, sure, because once it is established that UVa is not a “person” for the purposes of CID (i.e. the state can not serve a CID on itself, or part of itself), the matter was disposed of. So there was no need to consider the merits of the other arguments, e.g. whether or not Cuccinelli had shown probable cause. Mind you, the lower court had already ruled against him on that anyway, and Cuccinelli didn’t a winnable case on that point either.

    • So there was no need to consider the merits of the other arguments, e.g. whether or not Cuccinelli had shown probable cause.

      Apparently, there was a dissenting opinion which did hold that the GA could serve a CID on UVa, and therefore the dissenter went on and reviewed the probable cause ruling of the lower court.

      And pretty much agreed with the ruling.

      I got that second-hand elsewhere from someone who’s typically reliable, I’ve only read the majority opinion, not the dissenting one.

      But the lower court’s ruling seemed strong, and the dissenting opinion gives weight to that.

      Though having it totally tossed out is gratifying :)

    • Rattus Norvegicus


      That is correct, the concurring opinion is attached to the majority opinion. Basically he disagreed with the majority’s finding on personhood, which seemed odd given the long established law underlying the decision, but did agree with the lower court decision to throw the CIDs out for lack of stated basis.

  38. Strangely linked together are:
    1) GMU J.D.s include:
    - Cuccinelli
    - His lieutenant Wesley Russell, who wrote these things
    - MIlt Johns, past law partner of Cuccinelli,. and Wegman’s lawyer.

    2) Then there is the curious timing of the first appearance of Johns and other events thereafter.

    3) Of course, related to the funding hunts in the recent Heartland exercise one finds that {GMU, Mercatus, Institute for Humane Studies} share a lot of funders with certain thinktanks.

    Fred Singer used to be affiliated with Institute for Humane Studies, and spoke @ GMU a few days ago.
    CATO’s Pat Michaels was/(is?) a Distinguished Senior Fellow for School of Public Policy, taught this class in 2010. Study carefully.

  39. What about that sketchy David Schnare? Don’t forget about him. According to this blog, David Schnare may have FABRICATED information that suggested he had permission from his employer the EPA to represent the ATI. Schnare is a lawyer and he has a scientific baackground.

  40. Another amazing find, Mr. Mashey.

    So our Patrick Michaels got paid by GMU to teach uncertainty about AGW. I see that Baliunas appears late in the syllabus, which then ends with Michaels and Knappenberger casting aspersions on the EPA and its endangerment finding.

    “Professor” Michaels found a way to get paid to push his Cato stuff. (And now the Kochs are suing to take Cato over completely. . . )

    • John Mashey

      Mark:re: “Michaels’ class,
      I might put it differently. Read Chris Mooney’s book “The Republican War on Science.” especially on Daubert and Data Quality Act.

      I can might imagine someone teaching a reasonable class with most of that syllabus, but one could easily teach “how to create doubt about science via legislation or courtroom.

  41. Another interesting course at GMU is Environmental Economics (Economics 335).

    There are familiar names in the required reading list:

    The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjorn Lomborg . (BL)
    The Ultimate Resource 2by Julian Simon (JS)
    Global Warming ond Other Eco-Myths by Ronald Bailey (RB)
    Free Market Environmentalism by Terry Anderson and Donald Leal (AL)
    The Doomsday Myth by Charles Maurice and Charles Smithson (MS)

    Fred Singer and Patrick Michaels show up in week 10

    Week l0 Global Warming, Ozone Hole and Acid Rain
    (BL) Chapters 16,24
    (AL) Chapter 11
    (RB) Chapter 1

    Suggested Books
    Patrick Michaels, Meltdown
    Patrick Michaels, Sound and Fury: The Science and Politics of Global |l/arming
    Robert Balling, The Heated Debate
    Dixy Lee Fiay, Trashing The Planet
    s. Fred Singer, Glabal climate change, Human and Natural Influences

    • John Mashey

      Fred goes *way back* with GMU.
      See Crescendo to Climategate Cacophony,:
      pp.96-98, Fred Singer row.

      See p.89 for:
      ‘SIPP1993 – Singer, GMU, Moore, GMU International Institute– 06/24/93
      ―Scientific Integrity in the Public Policy Process‖
      People: This was Singer‘s first listed conference; speakers included Fred.Smith (CEI), Peter Huber
      (Manhattan), Jastrow, Lindzen, Singer, Robert Hahn (AEI). Seitz attended.’

      That link seems broken, but have no fear, Here it is.

      Then Fred was affiliated with GMU’s Institute for Humane Studies, ~1994-2000, (see InstHumn on p.95 for who might fund that.
      [Oh, my, Carthage, Sarah Scaife F, Claude Lambe F (Kochs), D.Koch, with some help from their friends.]

  42. Fred Singer recently stopped by at his old stomping ground for a lecture on climate models. Here is the SEPP announcement.

    Wed, Feb 29, 4:30 to 5:40 pm
    Fred Singer will be speaking at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.

    Room 124, Science Technology I

    General title: “The Climate Debate: NIPCC vs. IPCC, the Hockey-stick, and Climategate.” Impacts on energy policy and everything else. [Emphasis added]

    It turns out this is part of Colloquium in Earth System Sciences (GGS900) Environment, Climate and Food Security

    Time and Location
    Spring 2012, 4:30-5:40 PM (Wednesdays)
    Room 124, Science Technology I

    Week six: 02/29 Climate Change: Models and Observations [PPT] Dr. Fred Singer [Emphasis added]

    The difference in lecture titles is quite remarkable. Perhaps the colloquium leaders had no idea what they were getting into.

  43. I am going to show all of this to my administrators. We send a lot of kids over there. Maybe we shouldn’t. Those NIPCC materials might be fine in a class on propaganda, but that’s not how they are being used.

    I am going to ask them to call the school and confront them about the infiltration of industry propaganda disguised as scholarship.

    I am also going to show this to the science teachers. I showed some teachers about these NIPCC books already. They could see that the NIPCC materials were fakes of the real IPCC books.

    Someone asked me about educational materials a few days ago. Well, here it is. Of course, in college, students have to begin to learn about authentic versus bogus scholarship, but these materials are very tricky.
    They often do quote from real scholars, but selectively.

    These courses may not be taken by really smart kids who are taking advanced science courses. They will be taken by people who hope to go into government.

    • Cuccinelli quotes newspaper articles for his “science.” He even quotes the Russian petrostate’s press agency RIA Novosti trashing climate scientists.

      Since Cuccinelli is Catholic, perhaps he should at least consider what the internationally-renowned scientists of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences –such as Crutzen and Ramanathan–are saying.

      The Vatican supports the IPCC process and here they support the 2007 IPCC document. Crutzen and Ramanathan also advise the IPCC.

      Cuccinelli might also read what a chief of the National Intelligence Council said, instead of relying on bloggers and the Russian government’s official news agency.
      Cuccinelli says he is against “big government,” but he quotes RIA Novosti, the Russian petrostate’s official organ, as an authoritative source on the “tricky” western scientists. Perhaps it’s just our big government that he doesn’t like.

      On May 10, 2007, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations H.E. MSGR. Celestino Migliore, addressed the United Nations on the issue of global warming and climate change.

      MSGR. Migliore said:

      The scientific evidence for global warming and for humanity’s role in the increase of greenhouse gasses becomes ever more unimpeachable, as the [United Nations] IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 4th Assessment Report] findings are going to suggest; and such activity has a profound relevance, not just for the environment, but in ethical, economic, social and political terms as well. The consequences of climate change are being felt not only in the environment, but in the entire socio-economic system and, as seen in the findings of numerous reports already available, they will impact first and foremost the poorest and weakest who, even if they are among the least responsible for global warming, are the most vulnerable because they have limited resources or live in areas at greater risk…Many of the most vulnerable societies, already facing energy problems, rely upon agriculture, the very sector most likely to suffer from climatic shifts.”

      Here is the NIC:

      “Our primary source for climate science was the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, which we augmented with other peer-reviewed analyses and contracted research. We used the UN Panel report as our baseline because this document was reviewed and coordinated on by the US government and internationally respected by the scientific community.“
      —Dr. Thomas Fingar, former Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis (June 25, 2008 before Congress)

      I am not a scientist, but when the US government and the Vatican scientists are on the same page, I don’t think it’s a commie hoax.
      Catholic schools are going to teach what the scientists and the Vatican are telling us. Because I was ignorant, I voted for Cuccinelli, but then I paid attention and I see that he is trying to trick me. He wants power and money; he doesn’t care about serving the people and upholding the law!
      Cuccinelli is no conservative; he is a radical who is trying to subvert our legal and educational institutions.

  44. Back to GMU.
    Here’s Free food for students.

    GMU is plugged in, at least with: GMI, SEPP, CATO, NCPA (Sterling Burnett), CFACT, CEI, one way or another.

  45. Pingback: Wiley coverup: The great Wegman and Said “redo” to hide plagiarism and errors | Deep Climate

  46. Pingback: Wegman and Said leave Wiley journal and Said disappears from GMU | Deep Climate

  47. Then there’s LSE’s deep embarrassment when accepting funding from the Gaddafi regime took them to an awkward place.

    When I lived in Australia, I was involved in green politics, and the Greens had a code of ethics on funding sources. If it has smelly fingerprints on it, don’t take it.

    The party didn’t have as much money to throw at campaigns, but could maintain its integrity, in the long run a more valuable currency, as faith in the bigger parties has eroded.

    Universities could learn from that.

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