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.

A good place to start is John Mashey’s helpful timeline chart, which compares GMU’s stated process and nominal deadlines to the actual progress made in the case.

Mashey also gives the following timeline for the first few steps of the GMU process, assuming receipt of the allegations by GMU on March 15 and execution of following steps within the stated time lines.

Date Total days Int. days Stage/milestone
03/15/10 0 0 A. Allegation received.
03/29/10 14 14 B. Dean or Institute Director determines if inquiry warranted
04/12/10 28 14 C. If so, Provost appoints committee, followed by possible challenges.
D. First meeting of inquiry committee
06/11/10 88 60 E. Inq. Com. completes report and makes recommendation. Investigate? (Y/N)
06/25/10 102 14 F. Dean/Director reviews and makes final determination. Investigate? (Y/N)

The rest of the process can take up to 10 months or more, including the full investigation itself (120 days) and possible appeal to the university president (100 days).

The allegations and initial reactions

The story really starts with my first piece on the Wegman report just over a year ago, which noted unmistakable copying of unattributed antecedent sources in background sections on tree ring proxies (taken from Bradley’s text book Paleoclimatology: Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary) and on social networks (identifying Wikipedia, as well as and Wasserman and Faust as obvious sources). I noted that the copying – and subtle distortion – of the Bradley passages was particularly troubling. And, presaging subsequent revelations concerning the Wegman panel process and its inspiration from a key George Marshall Institute presentation, I observed the close co-operation of “hockey stick” critics Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick with the PR disinformation campaign run by Tom Harris at APCO Worldwide, among others. (Of course, I also identified several unattributed passages from Wegman et al in a text book by physicist turned climate change gadfly Donald Rapp, who has provided endless entertainment ever since. But I digress.)

My immediately following (and more detailed) analyses of Wegman et al’s sections on tree rings, as well as ice cores and coral proxies (also largely copied from Bradley’s text book) eventually came to Bradley’s attention, apparently via Richard Littlemore at Desmogblog. Soon after, Bradley began a long convoluted series of communications with George Mason Umiversity, all of which can be seen in Mashey’s Appendix A2, starting at page 19 of SIGMU. Bradley’s first complaint on March 5 included my initial side-by-side tree ring comparison (cited by Littlemore), along with Bradley’s own highlighted version of Wegman et al’s  ice core section.  (My most recent side-by-side comparisons for tree-rings, and for ice cores and corals feature more detailed highlighting and comparison).

As well, Bradley sent his complaint to Rice University (David Scott’s home institution); apparently the letter took ten days to reach Rice preseident David Leebron, one day longer than Rice took to resolve the matter! In a reply to Bradley dated March 24, Rice vice president James Coleman stated their inquiry had exonerated Scott, as there was “persuasive evidence” that Wegman himself had taken “full responsibility for preparing the allegedly plagiarized text” and that Scott had played no role in that section of the report. Coleman also promised full co-operation with GMU’s research misconduct proceeding, if any.

GMU itself did not reply until April 8; even at that early date problems were already apparent. For starters, April 8 was already well beyond any reasonable time to determine if an initial inquiry were warranted, yet research vice-president Roger Stough implied that even that limited determination had not been made, referring to an as yet incomplete “initial stage”.

Stough also stated that he was forwarded the complaint by university president Merton, as he was the “senior official responsible for processing complaints of this type”. But this too was not in accordance with GMU’s misconduct policy, which states:

Allegations received by a person other than the respondent’s Dean or Institute Director should be promptly referred to the Dean or Director.

The reason for this is quite simple; it is the respondent’s dean, not the research vice-president, who is responsible for making the initial determination that an inquiry is warranted. Since Wegman is on the faculty of the Department of Computational and Data Sciences, College of Science Dean Vikas Chandhoke should have immediately been forwarded the complaint.

Not only that, but Stough flatly states that Bradley should expect no update until the whole process has run its course. Yet the GMU policy clearly states that it is up to the Committee of Inquiry to recommend “whether the complainant should be notified of the results of the inquiry”. And since Bradley himself was one of the aggrieved parties, it’s hard to imagine a more compelling situation where a complainant should be updated of progress. So all in all, this was a very unpromising start by GMU.

And there the matter lay, until I completed my analysis of the Wegman et al background section on social networks, a section used by Wegman et al as a launching pad for accusations of supposed inadequate peer review among an intellectually incestuous social network. In addition to the Wasserman and Faust text book and the Wikipedia article I had identified in the very beginning, I also found material copied from another text book, by de Nooy et al. In fact, almost the entire five pages of this section could be traced to these three antecedents, most of it verbatim, without any attribution whatsoever.

Even worse, some of the same copied material also found its way into the introduction of a 2008  follow up paper on co-authorship styles by Said, Wegman and two other Wegman proteges, Walid Sharabhati and John Rigsby. (Rigsby had also been credited with contribution to the Wegman report, while Sharabati had produced an extensive analysis of Wegman’s own co-authorship network that was used in Wegman’s response to supplementary questions by Rep. Bart Stupak and then recycled in Said et al).  Social Networks of Author–Coauthor Relationships had sailed through a cursory six-day peer review at Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, where Wegman was (and remains) a longtime advisory board member, and Said had been editor. The authors also acknowledged funding from the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (Said) and the Army Research Office (Wegman). The NIAAA is under the umbrella of the National Institute of Health, thus bringing this paper under the ultimate oversight of the federal Office of Research Integrity.

The post, entitled Wegman and Said on social networks: More dubious scholarship, ran on April 22 and featured detailed side-by-side comparisons (since updated for both Wegman et al Section 2.3 and for Said et al 2008 introduction). The large swathes of copied material and minimal desultory editing was, if anything, even more obviously problematic  than the Bradley based sections.

On May 13, Bradley updated GMU with this new “further evidence” of plagiarism, pointing directly to my “extensive analysis”. He  went on to note the obvious implications of the federal funding of Said et al 2008:

The reported plagiarism also points to a number of federal grants that may be implicated in this matter, which raises a whole set of additional oversight concerns of which you should be aware.

This time, the response from GMU was stunned silence. So on July 13, now more than four months after the original complaint, and two months after the updated complaint, Bradley tried again.

GMU finally rouses itselfwith a little nudge

On July 28, Stough finally gave Bradley the first substantive update on the matter:

The committee was formed April 2010. Its work was slowed with the checkerboard absence of the faculty members constituting the inquiry committee from campus. I expect the committee to complete their work by the end of September 2010.

Apparently frustrated by the slow response and incessant delays accompanied by weak excuses, Bradley copied Elsevier science publisher John Fedor on his next inquiry in mid-August:

Dear Dr Stough,

Please feel free to discuss this matter with John Fedor of Elsevier or  any member of the Elsevier Legal Department.


Ray Bradley

Stough replied tersely:

John, yes we plan to have a report on this matter by end of September. Roger

Fedor thanked Stough for promising to deliver a report (which is already an improvement on Stough’s previous refusal to update Bradley until the very end of the process). But he was far from satisfied:

Hi Roger,

Thank you for confirming that a report will be submitted to Elsevier by the end of September. However, I will need updates prior to September 30 indicating that progress is being made with regard to a response directly from Edward Wegman regarding this issue. This is extremely important and I will continue to follow up with you until I have evidence that you and your team are looking into this matter. The unattributed use of Ray Bradley’s content is obvious, and I will continue to reach out to you until we have an indication that you are taking this matter as seriously as Elsevier.

Best, John

Finally, Stough grudgingly gave out some details, leaving the distinct impression that scrutiny from Elsevier was engendering hasty improvisation:

Our process involves initially a review by the Dean of the College of Science, the home of Dr. Wegman. The Dean’s review resulted in a call for an inquiry. Following that a committe was formed but it was not possible to get the very highly qualified team of three on the committee together even for an initial formative meeting due to end of semester congestion and the fact that at least one of the members was away from campus at all times until the end of this week. The initial meeting of the Inquiry meeting is being scheduled for early next week at which time the Committee will go to work on this matter. The committee has been asked to prepare a report on the inquiry with recommendations before the end of September and sooner if at all possible. So we are moving with dispatch at this point. Roger

Four days following this exchange, Edward Wegman placed the following note on his Facebook page (as noted much later by Deep Climate reader Derecho64):

Want to know a bad week? All in the same week. 1) accused of plagiarism, felony, anti-science, misleading Congress because of your climate science testimony, 2) have a rule made up, which only applied to you, that blocks you from mentoring graduate students, 3) have a friend tell you he was not happy with you because you were awarded a patent.

As Mashey points out, this turn of events raises a host of questions in retrospect (SIGMU, p. 12). For one thing, the GMU process states that the respondent (Wegman, in this case) is to be notified of the formation and composition of the committee, and even has the right to appeal for removal of members. Yet Wegman appears to have been surprised to learn that the committee was about to meet. Among Mashey’s questions are:

  • Did GMU actually form an inquiry committee in April?
  • If so, was Wegman notified according to procedure?
  • If so, did he take it seriously at that time? Why did August events seem to be a surprise?
  • If not informed, why not? That would seem a rules violation
  • If not in April, was the committee really formed in August in response to Bradley or Elsevier?
  • When did Wegman first learn about the complaints to GMU?

Another pertinent question is why a committee that was supposed to report within 60 days would include a member who happened to be unavailable for a full four months. That fact alone should raise questions about GMU’s good faith and transparency in this matter.

GMU hunkers down

But things were to go from bad to worse. There was no further update from GMU, and the September 30 deadline passed in the continuing silence. Meanwhile USA Today reporter Dan Vergano had started following up on John Mashey’s comprehensive treatment of the Wegman Report. This presented Bradley with the opportunity to break his silence on the matter – seven long months after his original complaint. And yet, GMU remained unrepentant, signalling that there was no end in sight in an email on October 11:

Dear Dr. Bradley, our process has taken a bit longer than expected. So it will be a while yet (a few weeks I would guess) before we have completed the review of your plagerism allegation. Thanks, Roger

Although the actual final email exchange is unavailable, Mashey reported that the latest exchange on December 6 was even more discouraging:

Bradley asked again, reply from Stough said he can not comment as it was a personnel matter.

Thus, more than nine months after Bradley’s initial formal complaint, it is still not known whether GMU has managed to complete its inquiry, or whether there will be a formal investigation. What is clear, however, is that every step of the way GMU has not respected its own procedures and timelines, leading to unconscionable delay and obfuscation.

Even worse, it appears that GMU has flagrantly disregarded its obligations with respect to possible misconduct in federally funded work. The Office of Research Integrity’s Sample Policy and Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct lays out a sample policy with a very pertinent purpose:

This sample policy and procedures complies with the PHS Policies on Research Misconduct (42 CFR Part 93) that became effective June 16, 2005.

Over and over, we can see that GMU’s process falls short of the established  practices recommended or mandated by the ORI.

For example, contrast GMU’s stonewalling of Bradley, with this recommended policy on complainant’s evidence:

The complainant is responsible for making allegations in good faith, maintaining confidentiality, and cooperating with the inquiry and investigation. As a matter of good practice, the complainant should be interviewed at the inquiry stage and given the transcript or recording of the interview for correction. …  [Option: As a matter of policy or on the basis of case-by-case determinations, the institution may provide to the complainant for comment: (1) relevant portions of the inquiry report (within a timeframe that permits the inquiry to be completed within 60 days of its initiation); …

Now check out the ORI’s expectation of the inquiry time of completion:

G. Time for Completion
The inquiry, including preparation of the final inquiry report and the decision of the DO [Deciding Official] on whether an investigation is warranted, must be completed within 60 calendar days of initiation of the inquiry, unless the RIO [Research Integrity Officer] determines that circumstances clearly warrant a longer period. If the RIO approves an extension, the inquiry record must include documentation of the reasons for exceeding the 60-day period.

In contrast to the vague, “best efforts” approach in GMU’s policy, the ORI  obligates the institution to respect this deadline as a matter of course, or show cause as to why it can’t be met. The dubious “checkerboard” availability excuse obviously would fall short.

GMU’s shameful foot–dragging and secrecy is in marked contrast to the expeditious, transparent process at other universities. Like, say, Penn State University, which dealt forthrightly with the spurious accusations against Michael Mann, even though that case was pressed by a mysteriously funded smear campaign notable for its complete lack of evidence, or for that matter any coherent complaint.

Is it any wonder that Raymond Bradley lost patience and went public? And yet despite the increased scrutiny, GMU seems in no hurry to finally do the right thing. Indeed, the entire episode calls into question GMU’s commitment to integrity (although that’s hardly a surprise given GMU’s roots as an adjunct to various think tanks). And don’t forget about the growing plagiarism scandal concerning Wegman’s recent PhD students and their dissertations, with three clear cases already (oops, make that four).

And who knows what else is lurking in the scholarship of Yasmin Said, as in, say, this opening to her chapter on genetic algorithms in a text book edited by (who else?) Edward Wegman and two others. (Rest assured we’ll be returning to that one, all right).

Perhaps, then,  the obvious next step should be considered – a formal complaint to the Office of Research Integrity. And not against Wegman and Said, but against George Mason University itself. In fact, it is high time to recognize the obvious: GMU is simply not up to administering their own misconduct policy. Isn’t it time to hand the job over to an organization that can?


94 responses to “George Mason University’s endless inquiry

  1. In a bizarre sidenote, substantial amounts of the text from Yasmin Said’s chapter in Data mining and Data Visualization” (published by Elsevier in 2005) also appear in 2 other books “Evolutionary intelligence: an introduction to theory and applications with Matlab” by S. Sumathi, T. Hamsapriya, P. Surekha published by Springer in 2008 and “Computational Intelligence Paradigms: Theory & Applications Using MATLAB” by S. Sumathi, Surekha Paneerselvam published by CRC press in 2009.

    For example use Google Books to search for “may permit researchers to carry”

  2. Although the actual email exchange is unavailable…

    One cannot help but muse that if such behind-the-scenes information were to appear courtesy of Wikileaks (whatever one might think about their methods), there would be a much more heightened and pervasive interest in the matter of the Wegman scandal and GMU’s handling of it.

    As an aside, having been involved myself with a committee investigating the research misconduct of an RA in another institution, I suspect that GMU’s heel dragging itself speaks volumes about their perception of the Wegman group’s appalling ‘scholarship’. The trouble is, that they bring no credit upon themselves with their recalcitrance, and indeed they could inestimably damage the university’s reputation with their obstinate hesitancy – even further than that reputation has already been damaged.

    Oh, and that committee I mentioned? When the misconduct was investigated, the institution in which it occurred made sure to include committee members from outside itself, and indeed from other cities. Whilst they might not want to have heard the truth, they were nevertheless very careful to ensure that proper and defensible procedure was followed. Why GMU didn’t immediately go off-campus to fill the committee, if its own faculty was too busy playing chess, is completely beyond me.

    It’s almost as if they believe that there was something to hide…

  3. In addition to a formal complaint to ORI, as John Mashey’s report notes (under Section 3, p. 11), GMU’s next accreditation review is scheduled in Spring 2011. A formal complaint to SACS, the accreditation authority for GMU, certainly appears warranted and overdue.

    Given the numerous instances of plagiarism and many cases of incestuous, inadequate peer review among Wegman’s cohorts and mentees enumerated by DC and John Mashey, it’s particularly ironic that the subject of any of GMU’s “research” papers would be social network analysis. One could argue that they “wrote the book” on this subject simply by their own behavior.

  4. This situation is ridiculous and completely unacceptable. Penn State would have thrown Mann under the bus in a heartbeat to save their integrity or to avoid having to deal with the Office of Research Integrity. The investigation was a waste of everyone’s time and money though, because he Mann had done nothing wrong.

    DC, John Mashey and Dr. Bradley have been infinitely patient. I say the time to step up the game has long past.

    GMU seem to think that they can wish this away, and/or play “chicken”– this fiasco cannot be allowed to continue. GMU have, IMHO, allowed this to drag on sufficiently long now that they are now seriously tarnishing the institution’s integrity.

    It is high time that someone made an official complaint to the Office of Research Integrity.

    • If, as an adjunct to the Koch Foundation, they had any integrity to tarnish. I’d think some members of GMU’s alumni and faculty would be concerned enough about their own reputations to file formal complaints with ORI and SACS. Or perhaps Mr. Fedor of Elsevier would?

    • More than one someone has. One someone filed a complaint with NIH ORI in April of 2010. ORI mistakenly held up forwarding the allegation because they were awaiting further information. One of those someones inquired on 10/14/10, and was told that the ORI would be promptly in touch with GMU. That same someone sent ORI an email this afternoon, noting that more than 60 days had likely elapsed, and that someone requested an update. This very same someone will share any information that is not confidential.

  5. This really is unbelievable. What was GMU thinking? Were they unaware that they had guidelines/procedures to follow? It’s as if they never thought to consult their own rules.

    Were they hoping the issue would all just blow over? Are they still hoping for that? A lot (pretty much all) of the hard work for determining whether or not an investigation was warranted had been done for them, on the internet. They didn’t need a committee of three to actually sit at the same table. The evaluation could have been done electronically. In the meantime, the wait has allowed further screw-ups to be unearthed. Huh, maybe they’re hoping DC and JM can do all of their work for them.

  6. Re: GMU & Kochs & Richard Fink
    I mentioned somewhat, but missed this fellow: Richard Fink.

    • To be fair, simply taking Koch money doesn’t compromise your institution’s integrity. MIT takes it in spades.

    • Nice try. The topic at hand is not MIT , but GMU.
      Nobody thinks, merely taking money proves nothing, but the question is the pervasiveness of influence at GMU.

      GMU’s behavior is increasingly strange. GMU gets much money from the Kochs. A key Koch guy cofounded Mercatus, etc, etc.

    • Relax, John. Just a reminder, that’s all, to not simply point out a funding connection and expect people to be impressed. It takes more work than that, and yes, you guys are doing that work.

    • CE, I think your point is valid, and I agree the issue isn’t just the sources of funding, but what GMU has developed a reputation for doing with said funds. I wouldn’t defend everything that has been done at MIT, and if there were similar allegations against one of their researchers, as an alumnus I’d strongly support a vigorous, thorough, and expeditious investigation. There’s hardly any better way for a university to demonstrate its commitment to the highest standards of integrity. That’s why GMU’s behavior in the matter of Wegman et al. is so puzzling. One could speculate on the reasons for it, but few, if any of them I can imagine are favorable for their reputation.

  7. ——
    I suppose P.S. and S.P. are the same person?

    > S. Sumathi, T. Hamsapriya, P. Surekha (2008)
    > S. Sumathi, Surekha Paneerselvam (2009)

  8. G. Thomas Farmer, Ph.D,.

    It is past time to forward all materials concerning this matter to the accreditation entity that oversees GMU. It may be the “Southern Association of Colleges and Universities” but I’m not sure. I will check and post a subsequent response. Accreditation is a very serious matter and from the institution’s behavior they should be in danger of losing it.

    • GMU is listed as accredited by SACS here, with details here.

    • 1) I looked at SACS months ago and SIGMU of course mentions it, Section 3, along with some other past issues. Read the report circa 2001 cited there, footnotes 57 and 58.

      2) However, unlike most universities and ORI, which have simple instructions for reporting research misconduct (many involving standard definitions of FFP – falsification, fabrication, plagiarism), a quick perusal of SACS did not reveal an obvious simple way to report “such and such university has violated X…” If someone wants to do some helpful work, figuring that out would be a service. (I’ve got at least 2 more activities stacked up ahead of that one, and it is ski season, too.)

      3) If one studies the various ORI pages I cited, such as this, one will find that given an academic misconduct complaint, ORI will certainly assess a university’s handling and actually does have the power (never used) to debar an institution. See this, section (12).

      I doubt this would happen (since for any place that wants to be a credible research university, a (typical) 3-year debarment would be The End), but this may be getting into unknown territory, since generally, nobody messes with ORI.

      4) Of course, if anyone has filed a complaint with ORI, they wouldn’t be likely to publicize it.

      5) Anyway, people might well investigate SACS further and report back.

    • Third-party comments for Track B institutions scheduled for accreditation review in 2011 are due January 15, 2011. GMU is listed in Track B, which consists of member institutions offering graduate degrees.

      The policy for third-party comments from the public states, “If third-party comments lead to findings of non-compliance with the Principles of Accreditation, the Committee will include formal citations in its report. In accord with Commission policy, the institution will have time and opportunity to respond to any formal findings before the Commission’s Board of Trustees takes action on its accreditation status. …Third-party comments must be in writing and include a clear statement describing the institution’s performance in terms of compliance with the Commission’s standards for accreditation, the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement. …All third-party comments must be signed.”

      I’m not sure that a flood of third-party comments would be helpful. I think quality, not quantity, would be preferable, i.e., comments from respected academics who might have experience in misconduct investigations at other institutions where they handled things with more seriousness than GMU seems to be capable of.

    • Taylor B
      For sure, an incoherent floss of complaints is counterproductive. Can you point at us at the specific chunks of that 48-pager that cover GMU’s handling if this?

    • I think the primary policy that GMU appears not to be upholding in their response to Bradley’s complaint is Integrity and Accuracy in Institutional Representation, which is also cited in Chapter 1 (p. 11) of the Principles of Accreditation (see link above). In particular,

      “…evidence of withholding information, providing inaccurate information to the public, failing to provide timely and accurate information to the Commission, or failing to conduct a candid self-assessment of compliance with the Principles of Accreditation and to submit this assessment to the Commission, and other similar practices will be seen as the lack of a full commitment to integrity. …The policy is not all-encompassing nor does it address all possible situations. …Failure of an institution to adhere to the integrity principle may result in a loss of accreditation or candidacy.”

      The foot-dragging investigation of Bradley’s complaint and inaccurate, misaddressed, and dilatory statements made by GMU’s spokesperson appear to violate several of these principles.

      Further, Section 4 (p. 37) of the Principles of Accreditation addresses Federal requirements, specifically Title IV of the 1998 Higher Education Amendments and other federal programs, which I would assume include meeting the requirements of the ORI.

      Another approach (in addition to third-party comments) that could be taken would be to file a complaint against the accredited institution, although a number of restrictive policies apply to this procedure, which is designed to keep the Commission from becoming embroiled in disputes. The following may be applicable in the case of Bradley’s complaint against GMU:

      “…the Commission’s usual practice is not to consider a complaint that is currently in administrative proceedings, including institutional proceedings, or in litigation. However, if there is substantial, credible evidence that indicates systemic problems with an accredited institution, the Commission may, at its discretion, choose to proceed with the review.”

      . However, it’s important to note that “the
      Commission will not act on complaints submitted on behalf of another individual or complaints forwarded to the Commission.” This would appear to require that Bradley submit his complaint to SACS himself, failing an adequate response from GMU, which hasn’t been forthcoming.

    • Taylor B:

      Thanks, I’ll go look closer at SACS items you mentioned. I’ve been off skiing, and my wife had a bit of a scare (good thing she wears a helmet), so last few days have been crazy.

      Also, while there can be issues with funding anywhere, I suggest the following exercise:
      1) Start with myCCC, Appendix A.6, pp.92-95, the matrix of funders X fundees. Specifically, see GMU and its related entities, with ($) the approximate total from the 3 Koch-controlled foundations.
      p.94 CMPA, GMU ($25M)
      p.95 InstHumn ($6M), Mercatus, ($8M), Stats

      In fact, of the $32M from Charles G. Koch Foundation on that chart, ~$30M went to GMU+: GMU ($19.7M) + Mercatus ($8M) + InstHumn($2.5M).

      Now, see MMAN, which shows where the money goes. They sprinkle money everywhere, in many cases to causes no one could argue about. But you can go through the Grants of the 3 Koch-related funds (and the numbers are higher now) and see how other schools compare to GMU+. You can see the total financials, which for example, show C.G. Koch @ ~$52M total, of which ($30M) ~60% has gone to GMU+, compared to $.25M to MIT. To be fair, D.H. Koch gave MIT another $.8M, but then DHKoch+CRLambe gave $8.3M to GMU+. So, overall, I think the score runs something like $1.05M for MIT, $38M+ to GMU+ spread over years.

      This, pp.174- shows research expenditures for top 200 schools in US. (take with grain of salt.) MIT was ~$614M, GMU at $58M.

      On p.54, Annual Giving, MIT was $312M, GMU was $24M.
      To calibrate all this, MIT gets 10X more money in general than GMU, but GMU+ gets ~35X more money from Kochs…

      It’s a lot of work to put all the numbers together, but I’d suggest that:
      a) GMU+ gets much more money from the Kochs than any other school
      b) GMU+ gets more money from Kochs than all other schools put together

      I’d happily be proved wrong, if someone wants to go through the 3 Koch-related lists and consolidate by school, but from eyeballing them, the big chunks of money go to thinktanks, fronts (like Americans for Posperity and FreedomWorks, i.e., tea-party backers) … and GMU+.

  9. George Mason University’s official school newspaper is Broadside. I just sent this link to them. Perhaps others could do so also:

  10. Sadly, GMU has company this year in being less than transparent with an investigation. See the example of Harvard and Dr. Hauser. If I’m not mistaken, the Feds (Office of Research Integrity) did start poking around in that case. Still, it looks like Harvard did an infinitely better job than GMU is doing here. Harvard’s main fault was in not giving the public and the guy’s colleagues timely information on what he actually did wrong. But papers were retracted and the professor was put on leave.

  11. People who are academics or have academic friends might ask them to take a quick look, even if just at the timeline, and pass along some sense of opinions. Some people are absolutely sure there is nothing to all this, but sadly, have rarely cited credible academic experience or even showed much evidence if studying the published material.
    I have a bunch of academic friends, but most have not encountered a mess of this caliber before. Especially look for folks with knowledge or experience with ORI.

    • Previous summaries of findings of research misconduct and administrative actions by ORI may be useful guides. For 2010, one of nine cases resulting in findings of misconduct involved plagiarism of data presented in a doctoral thesis. None of the cases listed from before 2006 through 2009 that resulted in findings of misconduct involved allegations of plagiarism. One case involved a negligent homicide.

      Among the cases that were considered by ORI and closed without findings of misconduct during the period from 2004-2007 (the most recent year listed), there were five cases involving alleged plagiarism, four of which were resolved in 2004. The allegations of plagiarism in these cases weren’t supported by ORI’s review.

      There was also a finding of misconduct in 2010 in which the respondent admitted that he had “increased statistical significance of the calculated means and standards of deviation [sic] of the… data presented by discarding certain experimental data and thus presented data that was falsified. In addition, as the… conclusions reached based on these data that included falsified data, those values and conclusions are fabricated.” This sounds not very different than Wegman’s “replication” of McIntyre’s code, which preferentially cherry-picked “hockey sticks” from a subset (1%) of PC1 simulations, while discarding the data that didn’t support his conclusions (although possibly Wegman didn’t understand exactly what McIntyre & McKitrick’s ‘s code was doing [!]). In Raymond Bradley’s May 13, 2010 letter to GMU, as quoted in John Mashey’s report on GMU’s strange and interminable inquiry (Section 1, p. 3), he noted “The work of Dr. Edward Wegman was supported in part by the Army Research Office under contract W911NF-04-1-0447.”

  12. G. Thomas Farmer, Ph.D,.

    Taylor B. is correct. The accreditation is by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  13. I am a professor of biology and conduct research not at all related to climate change. However, after following this scandal on line from a number of blogs (this the best on the investigation) I am appalled that GMU has done so little, and has delayed so long. If a faculty member at my institution was found to have so clearly plagiarized others as Wegman (and Said) I suspect the investigation would be completed in 60 days, and if clear evidence of plagiarism was found the faculty member would be removed from the graduate faculty immediately, and possibly dismissed from the university. This is really serious, and I am surprised The Chronicle of Higher Education has not reported on this case. I strongly suspect that Said is the source of the plagiarism, but given that other Wegman students seem to have had plagiarism lapses, one wonders about the quality of the mentorship Wegman supplies. I hope the Office of Research Integrity will take a hard look at this scandal. The Mashey report is so convincing, any investigation can only end with the conclusion that the Wegman Report was unethical in its absence of attribution of others work.

    • The Chronicle of Higher Education has pretty much all the available information on this matter. They didn’t seem overly interested. Perhaps someone else should contact them, other than this someone.

  14. I have been following this issue with much interest since day one, but at the end of the day (as we like to say in Ireland): does a report to congress fall under the same remit with regard to plagiarism as even a doctoral thesis?

    IMO, the lack of rigor/due diligence in the statistics portion of the Wegman Report (well documented here by DC in its own right) is the fault that Wegman will ultimately be hung out to dry on.

    • The substance of the statistics is indeed what ultimately matters, and is probably of higher interest to most. That’s a topic to be hashed out by the normal process of science, but DC has probably given that a bit of a boost. I don’t know if anybody else was really looking at the Wegman report in much detail, after so much time.

      Matters related to plagiarism, on the other hand, are the realm of university administration-led investigations and the ORI.

  15. Re: Congressional report
    1) I do not believe any law makes such reports immune from plagiarism (and copyright, don’t forget that).

    2) The plagiarism experts quoted by Dan Vergano certainly didn’t think such were immune. As far as I can tell, the only people absolutely sure that they are immune are posters at a few blogs, none of whom appear to have an relevant experience, merely intense beliefs.

    3) FFP is an acronym to learn:
    Google FFP falsification

    I believe the Wegman Report has plenty if falsification or fabrication as well, but maybe DC will open am FPP thread, so thus thus one can stick with GMU.

  16. John Mashey writes: “People who are academics or have academic friends might ask them to take a quick look, even if just at the timeline, and pass along some sense of opinions.”

    You might find it useful to compare to the Ward Churchill affair at the University of Colorado. The timeline for that case is roughly as follows:

    3-29-05: Written complaint received by the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct (SCRM). (There had been a lot of noise before then, but AFAICT this was the date of the first formal submission.)

    6-13-05: Complaint amended (additional allegations made.)

    7-9-05: Inquiry completed. SCRM decides that a full investigation is appropriate.

    The next four months appear to have been devoted to assembling the Investigative Committee, which included experts from outside the University (three inside, two outside). This committee first met in January 2006, and issued its report on 5-9-06 . This report was accepted by the SCRM on 5-16-06. As most everyone knows, the final result was the dismissal of Professor Churchill.

    So, after the first written complaint, about three months were required for the initial inquiry. The subsequent investigation was delayed by about four months, presumably due to the need to include outside experts in the Investigative Committee. Once the Investigative Committee formed, however, they completed their task in five months.

    • Many thanks. That report us well worth reading, not just for timelines ( fit a complex case), but for some fascinating parallels.
      For example, Wegman has continued to insist Bradley was not plagiarized.

      Also useful is the discussion if reasons why academic misconduct is often not found very quickly. Finally, there are are good comments on fabrication and falsification.

    • Also, if anyone else knows of public academic misconduct reports, please post pointers. I think plagiarism is well covered already, but more examples if actual interpretations if falsification and fabrication would be really helpful, especially if they go beyond the flavor where someone changes data it just makes it up. Put another way, near-verbatim plagiarism, once found, is obvious to people other than those who know that it cannot be plagiarism under any circumstances. As appears in the Churchill report, sometimes an investigation committe’s views depend on patterns, not an individual case, and it would really help to have a few more cases like the Churchill case to better calibrate.

      Anyway, any help would be appreciated.

    • There are many examples in Wegman et al (and McShane and Wyner for that matter) of incorrect implicit or explicit citations, often in support of incorrect information. These errors appear to be a result of a failure to consult the original cited peer-reviewed literature, while relying on hidden (and poorly understood) non-cited grey literature sources.

      It can easily be argued that such instances rise to fabrication, but probably not to the extreme deliberate fabrication seen in the Ward Churchill case. Thus the consequences of a finding of fabrication in such cases are likely to be less severe. I would say that such “source hiding”, which appears to have as its purpose “meme laundering” (e.g. getting dubious findings from grey literature into the peer-reviewed literature) is not adequately addressed in misconduct policies.

    • Re: meme laundering not adequately addressed: yes,probably because as best as I can tell, it is rarely seen innuendo academe. The Churchill case is useful because it does give a parallel of someone trying to claim something contrary to underlying sources. Needless to say, if any one has any parallel examples, the more the merrier. Academics I’ve talked to have often never seen anything quite like this mess.
      DC: what’s your classification of the M&W ellipsis ?

      [DC: I think I cleaned up the iPhonisms, but am not 100% sure. I’ll have a considered answer to that last question tomorrow. ]

    • The Churchill case was also notable for the highly politically charged environment (post-9/11) in which the misconduct allegations were brought. The committee acknowledged this in the Executive Summary:

      “The motivation of the complainant, as well as the context in which the complaint is developed, is not part of the committee’s deliberations so long as there is merit to the allegations. In the Churchill case, the SCRM shares the concerns expressed by the Investigative Committee regarding the timing and context in which the allegations against Professor Churchill were raised. However, at each step of the process, the SCRM was careful to restrict its review to the allegations of research misconduct, without consideration of issues that have received widespread attention by others interested in Professor Churchill’s work. In particular, the SCRM’s deliberations were devoid of any discussions of Professor Churchill’s ‘9/11 essay,’ or of issues of academic freedom or free speech in general. Rather, our work was specifically and narrowly focused on the findings of the Investigative Committee with regard to research misconduct.”

      There’s no question what motivated Joe Barton, Peter Spencer, M&M, and others who commissioned and provided material that found its way into the Wegman report, which was a blatant, politically motivated attack on science, not an independent review. One wonders whether the GMU inquiry is taking pains to insulate itself from the politics of climate policy, and is focusing only on the merits of the plagiarism allegations.

      John Mashey, I’d be interested in your further thoughts on the SACS accreditation review process, above, particularly the applicability of the Integrity and Accuracy policy cited in Principles of Accreditation, and whether a threshold has been reached for Dr. Bradley to file a formal complaint against GMU with the accreditation review commission. I’ve quoted some relevant excerpts from the SACS’ Complaint Procedures above, and would add the following:

      “The procedures for the review of complaints involving member institutions enable the Commission to address possible violations of its Principles of Accreditation, the Core Requirements, and policies or procedures, as well as to address possible violations of an institution’s own policies and procedures, if related to the Principles.”

      It’s hard to argue that GMU has followed it’s written policies and procedures in the case of the inquiry into Dr. Bradley’s complaint against Dr. Wegman, and it certainly looks to me as though they’ve violated the policy of Integrity and Accuracy in several respects.

    • JM, Sorry for the bad link, which I meant to point to this discussion for quoted excerpts from SACS’ policies. Of course, I’m also interested in DC’s and others’ thoughts about submitting third-party comments or a formal complaint to SACS.

    • I was curious about the background of one of the panel members at the Guardian’s “Climategate” debate, Doug Keenan, who made very critical remarks about the Muir Russell & Oxburgh reviews of the CRU hacking incident, and found that he had made formal allegations of research fraud against Professor Wei-Chyung Wang of SUNY-Albany and Phil Jones. For Keenan’s version of events, see his website and his article in Energy & Environment (a clue to the seriousness of the allegations). A synopsis of the allegations is presented in the journal Nature, here (both journal articles are linked from Keenan’s website). At any rate, it seems like a recent and relevant example of a misconduct investigation that was handled expeditiously, if not to Keenan’s satisfaction.

      It’s been my suspicion (unsubstantiated so far) that GMU is dragging its feet on the Wegman investigation to avoid having to deal with it in any detail during their accreditation review by SACS. They can simply say they’re investigating the matter.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      > suspicion… SACS…

      Sharp observation Taylor B. I wonder if it really works like this.

      About the Guardian “debate”, I’m still miffed about Monbiot agreeing to moderate, and the “equal rights for cops and robbers” approach on inviting people. It will be a while before I’m able to take the Guardian or Monbiot seriously again, if ever.

      BTW on Keenan:

      …as the saying goes, he’s a “piece of work”.

  17. “plagerism” is what they call it at GMU?
    If they can’t spell it, how can they find it?
    turns up, among other oddities, these:
    “STATEMENT ON PLAGERISM—GMU’s Department of English Policy”
    Department Of Computer Science Spring 2010
    ISA 562 – Information Security Theory and Practice
    “I have finished grading exam 3 and posted you final grades to Patroit Web.”

    ??”Patriot Web”??

    • Their athletic teams are named the Patriots. They gained national attention with a Final Four run some years back.

  18. Hank,
    That’s the same spelling as Stough used in his October 11 email to Bradley:

    “So it will be a while yet (a few weeks I would guess) before we have completed the review of your plagerism allegation.”

    There does seem to be a fair amount of federal funding for cyber security research at GMU.

  19. Moderation may be a little slow over the next day or two. 🙂

    And with that, I wish all of you a wonderful holiday and a happy New Year.

  20. > spelling
    Yeh, that’s why I looked for it at GMU.
    And stumbled into …. ewww …. this:

  21. PolyisTCOandbanned

    John: Look at the Bell Labs site for the Shoen report. (It was not academic, but the research was all published, not internal. Interesting case and I just finished Plastic Fantastic in a day after getting for Xmas.)

    Also there was a professor Wang, who was accused (and found not guilty) of FFF or whatever it is, by a skeptic. See length and all there.

  22. More info on the Schon case here:

    As for Keenan’s accusations against Jones and Wang, I find the case most notable as yet another “sceptic” meme gotten wrong by Fred Pearce.

    And when, in 2007, Jones finally released what location data he had, British amateur climate analyst and former City banker Doug Keenan accused Jones and Wang of fraud.

    He pointed out that the data showed that 49 of the Chinese meteorological stations had no histories of their location or other details. These mysterious stations included 40 of the 42 rural stations. Of the rest, 18 had certainly been moved during the study period, perhaps invalidating their data.

    Keenan told the Guardian: “The worst case was a station that moved five times over a distance of 41 kilometres”; hence, for those stations, the claim made in the paper that “there were ‘few if any changes’ to locations is a fabrication”. (The full statement in the original 1990 Nature paper reads: “The stations were selected on the basis of station history: we chose those with few, if any, changes in instrumentation, location or observation times.”) Keenan demanded that Jones retract his claims about the Chinese data.

    Further down, we have what is a clearly untenable interpretation of the original statement:

    In all, that meant that no fewer than 51 of the 84 stations had been moved during the 30-year study period, 25 had not moved, and eight she could not recollect.

    Wang, however, maintained to the university that the 1990 paper’s claim that “few, if any” stations had moved was true. The inquiry apparently agreed.

    The original claim was *not* that few of the 84 stations had moved. The claim was that each of the 84 stations had had “few, if any” moves. One can understand Keenan getting this completely wrong, but Pearce?

    Presumably, this also means that the stations that were not chosen moved more often; that would be relatively easy to check for the set of stations from the DOE report. But did Pearce bother to check this? Not a chance; he was too busy glorifying Keenan and accepting his false assertions at face value.

    As for the process, it was more rigourous, expeditiois and transparent than GMU’s (although the timelines did slip). For example, Keenan received a copy of the inquiry report.

    Also notice Keenan’s own falsification – of the inquiry report:

    The Committee unanimously concluded that “there was no data” (thus implicitly concluding Wang must have fabricated data) and that a full investigation should be undertaken


    That “implicit” conclusion is an utterly false misinterpretation of the inquiry report. But given Keenan’s original fanciful misinterpretation, hardly surprising.

  23. Slightly off topic
    DC or others
    I need to respond to a comment, regarding climategate emails, at a YouTube video about Tim Ball/climategate.
    [“From: Kevin Trenberth
    To: Michael Mann
    Date: Mon, 12 Oct 2009 08:57:37 -0600
    ….The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate…..”]

    I know this is a cherry pick from the emails and Trenberth is not talking about global temperature, but don’t know where to find the blog post where I read about this.
    Here’s the youtube video where I have been commenting


    • I know this was addressed several times in comments at RC, but I’m not aware of a post on the subject of Trenberth’s “travesty” quote.

      Response: The quote about the ‘travesty’ is taken completely out of context. Trenberth was talking about how we don’t know specifically what is happening during a short period of time, and why we need more observations stations. The fact that we can’t specifically explain exactly what happened during one ten-year period is not the same as saying that 10-year periods of trends different than the long term average are unexpected. He was not suggesting there was some fundamental problem with our understanding. As we already wrote, you need to read Trenberth’s recent paper (here). In any event the myth about ‘global warming stopping’ is not even true, as explained succinctly in the document at, as well as at several recent posts here at Realclimate (e.g. here and here–eric]

      Trenberth’s paper is An imperative for climate change planning: tracking Earth’s global energy.

      Planned adaptation to climate change requires information about what is happening and why. While a long-term trend is for global warming, short-term periods of cooling can occur and have physical causes associated with natural variability. However, such natural variability means that energy is rearranged or changed within the climate system, and should be traceable. An assessment is given of our ability to track changes in reservoirs and flows of energy within the climate system. Arguments are given that developing the ability to do this is important, as it affects interpretations of global and especially regional climate change, and prospects for the future.

    • Here is one of several good responses to the common denialists’ selective out-of-context quote of one of Kevin Trenberth’s e-mails in the hacked CRU archive:

  24. Some of you mentioned the Ward Churchill case. I started my blog because of Churchill. I noticed his lies before he became famous for his 9-11 screed. Ward Churchill often celebrated the murders of people before his 9-11 essay. That essay was nothing new for Churchill, if you know his writings. He celebrated the execution-murder of two injured FBI agents at Pine Ridge. He said they died like Custer. He also calls elected Indian leaders “stooges” of the US government and “Quislings.” Churchill has even claimed in the KGB and Cuban-sponsored “Covert Action Information Bulletin” that the FBI sponsored death squads that killed 342 Indians in the 1970s. It is all just made up. He claims in his writings that a woman named Candy Hamilton told him about the 342 Indians. I neve saw her write anything about these apocryphal mass murders, but she is one of the last people to see the murdered Anna Mae Aquash alive before she was murdered in 1975 by soldiers in the American Indian Movement. Two of them have been convicted, but higher people gave the orders. Sometimes Churchill says 60 were killed. He just says anything. Churchill makes jokes in THREE of his books that American mothers should “snuff” their babies and kill themselves to keep down the population. He says that Madeleine Albright should be in the shadows of a gallows. He is always saying who deserves to be hanged, shot, stabbed, or “snuffed.”

    The University of Colorado did not study his 9-11 essay, but I found loads of factual errors in it. Here they are. He can’t even spell the names of the people he writes about. He gets events out of order. IT’s a mess.

    Some people who attacked Ward Churchill try to compare the climate scientists to Ward Churchill, but that’s not true. The scientists are honest. The people who malign them–like Cuccinelli and others–are the dishonest ones.

    Ward Churchill made up a story about how the US army deliberately gave the Mandan Indians smallpox. This is part of the Soviet-era propaganda about the US government. The KGB spread the lie that the US Army scientists made AIDS to kill blacks. Finally they admitted this lie.

    The Russians also attacked our climate scientists in their media. Pravda on-line was even citing Fox News. In his brief to the EPA, Cuccinelli even cites an RIA Novosti English version of an article in Kommersant that attacked the British scientists. The Kremlin-friendly Kommersant is owned by the Gazprom operative Alisher Usmanov. The article was published right after the EPA ruling on CO2, and the “scientist” Kommersant cited was Andrei Illarionov, an economist who worked for Putin, Gazprom, and the Libertarian Cato Institute.

    Churchill is generally considered on the left, and climate deniers are on the right; but they are both propagandists who make up their facts to justify their ideology instead of trying to research what is true.

    • Snapple,
      I haven’t read but a few excerpts of Ward Churchill’s essays, but there’s no question his opinions are highly controversial and unpopular. A discussion of Churchill’s writings and opinions would take us far off-topic. Without defending Churchill, I’m strongly in favor of the principle of academic freedom and I don’t think holding controversial or even repugnant opinions equals academic misconduct. As the SCRM noted, their deliberation of the conclusions and recommendations of the report of the investigative committee into the misconduct allegations against Churchill avoided the subject of academic freedom and free speech. The SCRM limited their consideration to the specific content of the allegations of misconduct against Churchill, not their context or motivation. I think this was the only way to approach their task, given the political controversy over Churchill’s writings and the highly-charged atmosphere in which the allegations were brought.

      The protracted delay of GMU’s inquiry naturally leads to questions about whether GMU is addressing Bradley’s complaint without political considerations or pressure, given that Wegman’s report was, in the opinions of many with whom I agree, a deceptive political attack on science disguised as an independent statistical analysis.

  25. IIRC, Trenberth is talking about global temperatures, but he is saying that the energy that we know is arriving is not accounted for in his famous energy balance paper. “Our observing system is inadequate” is exactly right, but when you look at the complexity of the global climate, hardly surprising. Deniers just like to jump on statements like this to make the illogical conclusion that, since we can’t observe the system perfectly, global warming is no longer a problem. All the evidence points to a long term warming of the climate.

  26. Ward Churchill made up a story about how the US army deliberately gave the Mandan Indians smallpox. This is part of the Soviet-era propaganda about the US government.

    Well, the British did so, on at least one occasion, so it’s not quite as far-fetched as you might imagine.

  27. There seem to be a lot of “bombs” primed to go off in this investigation.
    The facts show that it is inevitable that Wegman or the co-authors of the report have engaged in plagiarism.

    This is complete speculation on my part, but in investigating the plagiarism charge, I wonder if there is risk of making public the details of interactions between Wegman and his co-authors, and Congress, which powerful parties would rather keep secret (as may be their right). Those interests could be pressuring the University at the highest levels to carefully define the parameters of the investigation. This may be why the investigation is taking so long, why an investigative committee has been hard to seat, why no one outside the univesity has been involved in the investigation, and why the principals involved on GMU’s side are being so vaguely slow.

    GMU’s behaviour just doesn’t make sense without some additional unseen factor.

  28. Thanks for all the responses on the Trenberth topic

  29. One of the books that Churchill cites for his smallpox canard actually says:

    “Mischief makers tried to provoke the Indians against the whites by telling them that they were to be exterminated by smallpox, introduced in clothing sent to them”—Stearn and Stearn. The Effect of Smallpox on the Destiny of the Amerindian (102)

    Churchill can’t use the fact that he is controversial and advocates violence as a defense against his very flagrant research misconduct. Indian people–like his dead wife’s Canadian Indian tribe–complained about Churchill. Indian artists complained that Churchill sold his paintings as authentic “Indian art.” Nobody at CU listened to the Indians complain; instead they listened to that loudmouthed fake Indian Churchill. Churchill was always saying who should be killed. It was only when he said it about the 9-11 victims that people noticed. No scholars seemed to notice that Churchill trashes elected Indian leaders stooges of the US government and is an apologist for terrorists who took over the whole Indian village of Wounded Knee, drove people from their homes, held others hostage, and killed people. They lived in the people’s houses and trashed them. They even deficated on their floors. They did drugs. They burned down buildings and stole people’s stuff. The town was ruined. That’s what really happened. People were murdered and buried. Churchill defends the ringleaders who pillaged and murdered.

    Libertarians seem to have been against Churchill, and Libertarians also attack climate scientists. Maybe this is because of some high politics of oil issues on the reservations, but I don’t know. Maybe Churchill was an easy target that could then be extended against honest scholars like Dr. Mann. I know for a fact that some of the Churchill critics also attack climate scientists. They were right in their obervations about Churchill, but have shown themselves to be no better than he because in the end they were ideologues. They now mischaracterize what scientists say.

    In fact, I saw that Climategate file posted on the comments of an anti-Churchill blog on November 14, 2009. That was before people tried to post it on Real Climate. I didn’t really understand what it was until later when the story broke. I knew from what they said that it was something stolen. I didn’t like to look at it too long because it was stolen. The blogger removed the comment, but he said he might do something with it later. I never paid attention to global warming until I noticed they were defaming the scientists with the same sort of kompromat tactics that the Russians used in their campaign to blame AIDS on the Pentagon scientists. These are Churchill’s tactics, too.

    So I know the same people who attacked Churchill are attacking the climate scientists. Some of them call themselves Libertarians. They pretend to be defending American values. But all I see is that they are discrediting government agencies like the EPA that protect us and quoting from Kommersant, a newspaper owned by the Gazprom operative Alisher Usmanov, who has an educational and career course that suggests he is affiliated with the KGB.

    I am against Churchill because he tells lies , trashes Indian leaders who stand up to him, incites people to crimes, and is always saying how people he doesn’t like should be murdered. Churchill tries to turn it into a free-speech issue, but it is a research misconduct issue.

    Do you think a professor should be making “jokes” in three of his books about how mothers should “snuff” their children and kill themselves to save the planet? Do you think this is just “controversial”? Read his books, but you have to check every singe fact and every single footnote. Very slick propaganda. Ward Churchill even counted the number of books written about JonBenet Ramsey and published this number in one of his books. He discusses JonBenet Ramsey in the same paragraph as he talks about how Madeleine Albright should face the gallows for the supposed death of 500,000 Iraqi children. Churchill gets all his facts wrong about Albright.

    He says how we should rise up and hang our leaders, but he trashes ELECTED Indian leaders as government stooges.

    Chuchill fabricated his story about the Mandan being infected by the US army. There was no army there. It was a trading post, not an army post. The Indians and whites were married to each other and working together in the fur trade. A person on a boat that arrived was infected, and he passed it to the Indians. The whites there tried to innoculate the Indians, but it didn’t work. The white men there had Indian children who died. There is a long, well-documented history in this country of trying to innoculate Indians against smallpox.

    I am familiar with the British plan to infect the Indians, but smallpox is rarely spread by fomites–things. It is spread by close contact with infected people. Nobody needed to deliberately give Indians smallpox. This disease was everywhere and Indian people had no immunity because they hadn’t been dying from it for thousands of years like people in the old world. Their populations had no immunity.

    I actually know a lot about Churchill and CU’s’ research into his academic misconduct. He makes up stuff. His footnotes don’t support what he says they say. He writes things, has other people take credit, and then he cites them in his articles. He even told the Denver Post that he taught the Weathermen how to make bombs. He falsely got his job by claiming Indian ancestry. He is an apologist for the American Indian Movement leaders from the 1970s who kidnapped and murdered Indian people and others. Churchill actually minimizes what Nazi leaders did.

  30. According to the CDC:

    Smallpox is usually spread from one person to another by infected saliva droplets that expose a susceptible person having face-to-face contact with the ill person…Rarely, smallpox virus has been spread from one person to another through airborne or fomite transmission [objects].

    Reliable historical accounts report that the Mandan were infected by a sick passenger who arrived on a steamship. In “The Effect of Smallpox on the Destiny of the Amerindian,” E. Wagner Stearn and Allen E. Stearn write that an eyewitness named Francis A. Chardon claimed in his journal that an Indian stole a sick traveller’s blanket. Chardon offered the Indian a new blanket if he would return the stolen one. (Stearn and Stearn p. 81). There is nothing in this book about the Army distributing infected blankets to the Mandan. [For Churchill’s misuse of books by the Stearns and other scholars, see Thomas Brown, “Did the U.S. Army Distribute Smallpox Blankets to Indians? Fabrication and Falsification in Ward Churchill’s Genocide Rhetoric” in Plagiary.]

  31. sailrick | December 27, 2010 at 2:28 pm
    Slightly off topic
    DC or others
    I need to respond to a comment, regarding climategate emails, at a YouTube video about Tim Ball/climategate.

    A worthwhile OT question deserves a worthwhile OT answer:

    Although this is not related to Trenberth/”climategate”, this juicy bit might come in handy for bludgeoning folks who like to quote Tim Ball:


    Scientific Reaction To Velikovsky Symptomatic Of Climate Science Debacle
    By Dr. Tim Ball Thursday, December 16, 2010

    Many years ago a colleague approached the President of the University with our plan to hold a conference on the ideas of Immnauel Velikovsky. He angrily rejected the plan saying he would not allow anything on campus associated with that charlatan. The President was a physicist and Velikovsky had challenged prevailing scientific views. In some ways it doesn’t matter whether Velikovsky was right or wrong. The problem was the reprehensible actions of the scientific community. His treatment holds many lessons for today’s debate over climate change.


    Velikovsky’s major ideas built on the claim that Earth has experienced natural global disasters throughout its history. The major cause of natural catastrophes was brushes with other objects in the solar system and beyond. It’s probably thanks to Velikovsky that Walter and Luis Alvarez were able to propose the claim that a collision with an asteroid 65 million years ago led to the extinction of dinosaurs. The father/son connection serendipitously allowed cross-discipline discussion between physics and geology. The intellectual isolation of specialization has undermined the ability to understand.
    Science Is The Ability To Predict

    In the end Velikovsky succeeded because he passed the ultimate test of science; the ability to predict. More important, they were in contradiction to prevailing views. He made many and apparently none are incorrect to date. The interesting one was the temperature of Venus, which was almost double what the textbooks said. The same textbooks that incorrectly use Venus as an example of runaway CO2 induced Greenhouse Effect.

  32. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Mashey, you could look at the Bellesiles affair for insight.

    From the report of the committee, it looks like they spend 2-3 months doing their investigation. Quick scan did not find a good chronology of when fraud issues were first raised (there are comments about 2 years of controversy). What seemed to spark Emory to action were Lindgren publications in Yale law review. (not making a comment pro or anti Emory or Bellesiles, and not 100% sure if it helps or hurts your thesis that GMU is slow. But it’s another comparison. Even has some blogger dimensions as I think a lot of kvetching started on blogs. Anyhoo have fun.)

  33. Things are wandering off topic, so tighter moderation will no doubt ensue. Hint: keep things on misconduct proceedings and don’t forget about the Open Thread #7 for other climate science comments. Thanks!

  34. Here’s a trove of cases of plagiarism, including a poll of readers about “how much plagiarism should editors tolerate?”. Unfortunately, it’s not a poll of editors, but the results and comments are interesting. As one of the blog authors, Adam Marcus, writes in a posting titled “Sultans of swap,” “We confess that we’re puzzled by the attitude that a little plagiarism is no big deal.”
    And here is an interesting perspective on plagiarism by Andrew Burd, who offers these additional resources for policies on plagiarism:
    –The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has created a series of *copyrighted* flowcharts that “are designed to help editors follow COPE’s Code of Conduct and implement its advice when faced with cases of suspected misconduct.”
    –World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) policies on publication ethics
    –The Council of Science Editors’ White Paper on Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications, 2009 Update

  35. Another one, about “Plagiarists plagiarized” from the trove above (or is it a slew?):

    “Dr. Bhatnagar’s paper in Anesthesia & Analgesia was retracted because it contained text taken from a paper by Dr. Munir. However, Dr. Bhatnagar’s paper in the Journal of Palliative Medicine is one of the source journals for the plagiarism by Dr. Memis. To give you an idea how widespread this is, we recently rejected a paper that copied large blocks for text from a paper by Dr. Memis.”

  36. Thanks to all for examples. (After ski trip that illustrates once again that warmer climate and big snowstorms go together, as long as still cold enough to snow.) I’ll go look.

    For now, here are a few meta-comments.

    1) freedom of speech is important, especially in academe, and people shouldn’t get zapped for saying unpopular things.

    2) But, one of the reasons that academe takes academic misconduct seriously is that academe as a whole in effect has a *brand* to protect. The whole enterprise is based on the idea that people can argue, people can make mistakes, but that people who purposefully fabricate or falsify contaminate the shared body human knowledge. Reputation matters, and credit is supposed to be given, and sources specified so people can check.

    Academe as a whole is expected to do quality assurance. That includes:
    A) PhD committees that are more than rubber-stamps.
    B) University administrations that pay attention to complaints either internal or external.
    C) Journals that say “wrong topic for this journal”, select associate editors carefully, and do credible peer review.

    Anyway, many entities have zero brand for truth, but academe does, and it protects it. Although I have a wide variety of academic friends, I’m still a little surprised at the close attention being paid to this in places around the world.

  37. “Dr. Bhatnagar’s paper in Anesthesia & Analgesia was retracted because it contained text taken from a paper by Dr. Munir. However, Dr. Bhatnagar’s paper in the Journal of Palliative Medicine is one of the source journals for the plagiarism by Dr. Memis. To give you an idea how widespread this is, we recently rejected a paper that copied large blocks for text from a paper by Dr. Memis.”

    So instead of turtles all the way down, it appears that reality is plagiarism all the way down …

  38. Remember the old saying:

    A watched whitewash never paints.

  39. Dahlberg (ORI) says the matter was sent to GMU and that he currently does not know where the process is. An investigation has been “initiated.”

    I am not sure when he will decide he needs to know something. Whoever lodged the other two allegations with ORI against Wegman should probably contact ORI too.

    • Is the ORI’s Dahlberg aware that a complaint with regard to the Wegman report was lodged with GMU in March, and that the complaint was updated to include Said et al 2008, with explicit reference to federal funding and oversight implications, in May?

    • Sam deserves much credit for taking the necessary steps and following up with ORI. It would also be good to know what the scope of ORI’s investigation will include. Will they look at plagiarism, fabrication, and falsification?

      Given that a GMU Task Force concluded in 2001 “that large segments of both students and faculty ignore the [Honor] Code’s provisions” (Section 3, p. 11 of Mashey’s SIGMU report) and GMU’s dilatory response to Bradley’s complaint, there appears to be a pattern of inadequate oversight of faculty and graduate students, insufficient remedial measures, and permissiveness for misconduct that permeates at least the College of Computational and Data Sciences in which Wegman works, and possibly other departments of the university. I think these patterns need to be considered as a whole by ORI, not just as isolated occurrences.

    • DC,


      I don’t know how long ORI will give GMU to act. GMU has received a plagiarism allegation on the Wegman report, Said, et al. (2008), and three doctoral theses from Wegman’s group. I believe that ORI has received three separate allegations on Said, et al. (2008), but I don’t recall where I heard that.

  40. 1) ORI only handles DHHS-related complaints, so Bradley’s original complaint would not be particularly relevant, but the May addition of Said, et al (2008) would be. Hence, from Sam’s comment, they certainly know about that.

    In any case, ORI knows the contents of SIGMU, since I sent them a link on 12/15….

    2) However, there is another issue of possible interest to ORI.
    Recall that Said went off to Johns Hopkins for 2005-2006 school year, then got a Ruth L. Kirchstein fellowship awarded mid-2006 (before the WR hearings; Wegman mentioned it at the hearings.)

    Now, this raises several issues:
    a) Her application for this Fellowship would surely have been based on extending the work of her dissertation, since she would have had little else relevant to show at that point Oops1.

    b) Many of her activities since have no obvious relationship to NIAAA alcoholism research… and she was still listed as Kirchstein Fellow this year.
    See SSWR:
    p.78, talk I1
    p.81: the amazing session @ Interface2010 with Jeff Kueter, Don Easterbrook, and her own talk.
    p.148 Said, et al (2008)

    For recent real fun, see JSM2010 (big PDF)

    Said organized 2 sessions:
    p.154 on Grid Computing, of whose 5 papers:
    4 included an author pair (Alnoshan, Rotenstreich), both of whom have coauthored with Wegman (SSWR p.74-75)
    1 was by Muhannad Said, who appears to be her younger brother, according to DC’s find of household.

    Well, you probably didn’t know Yasmin was a grid computing expert, but maybe that has some connection with NIAAA., or maybe that fellowship is done. But then:

    ““Environmental Statistics—Topic-Contributed
    Section on Statistics and the Environment, Scientific and Public Affairs Advisory Committee
    Organizer(s): Yasmin H. Said, George Mason University
    Chair(s): Yasmin H. Said, George Mason University

    2:05 p.m. Analysis of the Hockey Stick—◆Nan Chen, GMU
    2:25 p.m. Statistician’s Perspective on Paleolimate Reconstruction—◆Roger Shores, GMU
    2:45 p.m. Analysis of Climategate—◆Duane King, George Mason University
    3:05 p.m. Analysis of Wegman Report, National Academies, and Others—◆Sukhaynah Said, George Mason University
    3:25 p.m. National Academies Analysis of the Hockey Stick and Global Warming—◆Byeonghwa Park, George Mason University”

    (Yes, Sukaynah looks like Yasmin’s younger sister, and all of these seem to be students at GMU; Duane King is a systems engineer in College of Science, past student of Wegman’s. King & Shores have both coauthored with Wegman.)

    But sadly, we do not get to see the abstracts of these talks.
    In any case, both sessions were cancelled. Search for Said in:
    JSM 2010 online.
    Of course, it is unclear whether these sessions were ever even real and even if the authors knew about them 🙂 IF Said still has that fellowship, this sort of thing is hard to explain.

    Also at JSM, Wegman appears to have given the same talk again, despite having said it was time to move on, in 2006.

    • Ted Kirkpatrick

      The cancellation of the JSM 2010 sessions organized by Yasmin Said stands out. Of 419 distinct activities listed in the online program, only 3 are listed as cancelled. Two of those were Said’s. The third cancelled activity was a panel discussion entitled, “ASA members engaging Congress” (activity 510). That session seems perfectly reasonable, with a diverse panel of speakers who had direct experience visiting Congress when JSM 2009 was held in DC. Very different from Said’s sessions. Given how rare cancellations were, it would be interesting to find out who cancelled Said’s sessions and why.

    • Pure speculation, but maybe the reason for cancelling all three had to do with wanting to avoid the appearance of mixing politics with statistics. If only Said’s sessions had been cancelled, and the other one continued, perhaps there would have been accusations of bias against the “skeptics”.

    • John,

      Don’t forget that ORI notified DOD (DOE?) about the allegations on Said, et al. (2008). There are two federal agencies involved, one funded Said, the other funded Wegman.

    • Sam:
      I certainly have not forgotten the other agencies.
      People may recall SIGMU has a chart, top of p.5, that shows the funding flows.
      SAID Acked NIAA & ARL, Wegman Acked ARL+ARO, and there still remains the question about whether Rigsby did his work on NSWC time.

      (ARL/ARO) and NSWC are certainly all DoD, with wheich Wegman has had numerous connections over decades. I’ve never noticed any DOE.

    • Ted Kirkpatrick

      Alnoshan and Rotenstreich wrote a paper, “Distributed grid-type architectures”, in the May/June 2010 issue of Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Computational Statistics (WIREs: CS), a by-invitation journal whose editors-in-chief are Wegman, Said, and Scott. That’s the likely inspiration for this grid session.

      On the whole, the WIREs: CS article is a straightforward review of concepts in grid computing, peer-to-peer networks, and cloud computing. But there’s one aspect that’s truly odd. Near the end, the paper introduces results from another paper presented by—get ready for it—Alnoshan, Rotenstreich, Wegman, Said, and Rajput at JSM 2007. In the scheme used in SSWR A.6.1, the JSM 2007 article is #182 on Wegman’s CV. By itself, nothing too strange about people mentioning their own work. The weird part is that each of these references distinctly breaks from the style of the surrounding text and doesn’t really advance the point of its section. In fact, one summary of the JSM 2007 paper seemingly contradicts the point of the whole WIREs article containing it:

      Recent work Alnoshan et al.[70] shows that taking a grid computing approach is unsuitable because the Internet environment is evolving into a P2P environment whereas the grid computing environment depends heavily on client server architecture.

      This in an article whose abstract says it will “discuss peer-to-peer grids” without a hint of contradiction. And no, the section surrounding the above quote doesn’t provide any context for interpreting what grid computing might be “unsuitable” for.

      Every other reference to the JSM 2007 article is also jarringly distinct from its surrounding text. They are even substantially less grammatical than the surrounding text. It reads as though the WIREs article was written, copyedited, and then had these references to JSM 2007 added after and they were never integrated into the overall argument.

    • Here is the abstract for that JSM2007 paper (p. 54 of the JSM 2007 program). It was one of seven papers in the Hardware, Software and Algorithms session.

      Grid Computing

      Abdullah Alnoshan, George Washington University, 344 Maple Avenue West, 321, Vienna, VA 22180,; Shmuel Rotenstreich, George Washington University; Yasmin H. Said, George Mason University; Edward Wegman, George Mason University; Adil Rajput, BearingPoint

      Key Words: distributed systems, Resource allocation, peer-to-peer grid, utility function

      Research advances in the distributed computing has led to Grid computing, which is unlike many other areas of distributed computing focuses on large-scale resource sharing and discovery for better performance. Traditionally, Grid computing has been performed in a client/server format. However, recent advances in the area of peer-to-peer computing have brought a paradigm shift in the field of distributed systems and have forced researchers in the area of Grid computing to discuss peer-to-peer grids. We will review the work done in the area of peer-to-peer Grids and will provide the first step in defining a framework that provides incentive to the participating resources in a peer-to-peer grid environment. The framework provides the basis for defining a utility function that is used by participating nodes to efficiently allocate the resources that are available in a system.

      So far, so good – this is actually a discussion of of P2P grid computing. But far from simply asserting the unsuitability of grid computing in a P2P environment, the presentation appears to describe how the grid computing concept can be adapted to P2P. So whoever grafted the references to the JSM 2007 paper into the WIREs article does not appear to have understood the point of it. Where have I seen that movie before?

      Now take a look at this excerpt from the JSM 2007 overview from the Events page of the ASA Statistical Computing page, also showing the same 7 presentations.

      Hardware, Software, and Algorithms

      Contributed – Papers

      * WISDOM for µStat: Web-Based Support for the Analysis of Multivariate Hierarchical Data – Knut M. Wittkowski, The Rockefeller University
      * Creating Statistical Web Services Using ASP.NET – Neil Polhemus, StatPoint, Inc.
      * Grid Computing – Abdullah Alnoshan, George Washington University; Shmuel Rotenstreich, George Washington University; Adil Rajput, BearingPoint
      * Access Control Model for E-Learning System – Fahad Bin Muhaya, Imam University; Yasmin H. Said, George Mason University
      * A Web-Based Program for Computing Percentage Points of Pearson Distributions – Wei Pan, University of Cincinnati; Haiyan Bai, University of Central Florida; Shengbao Chen, JMW Truss & Components
      * minSpline: An R Package for Fitting Splines – Sundar Dorai-Raj, PDF Solutions, Inc.; Spencer Graves, PDF Solutions, Inc.
      * Calculating the Interatomic Distance Distribution from Small-Angle X-Ray Scattering via Curve Averaging – Lanqing Hua, Purdue University; Alan Friedman, Purdue University; Chris Bailey-Kellogg, Dartmouth University; Bruce Craig, Purdue University

      Take a good look at that third entry. That’s right – no mention of Wegman or Said. Like I said: curiouser and curiouser …

    • Ted Kirkpatrick

      DC, I wondered if ASA might have simply placed Said’s name on the fourth entry (“Access control model for e-learning”) by mistake. But Said is in fact listed as second author for that paper on the CV for Fahad Bin Muhaya (2005 Ph.D. from GMU). So it’s a genuine omission that she and Wegman aren’t listed as coauthors in the session list for “Grid Computing”. The curiosities accumulate …

  41. Actually, maybe Said’s grid computing session had other problems.

    Abstract – #309429
    Title: Networks and Computing
    Author(s): Muhannad Said
    Abstract: This talk is about networks and computing.

    No affiliation, no abstract. Hmmm …

    And Muhannad Said is *not* currently a student at GMU according to the GMU “People Finder”. Curiouser and curiouser …

  42. Let us return to Said, et al (2008), first unearthed by DC a seeming eternity ago, in April.

    More details were accumulated in SSWR, W.5.6, in particular, more discussion of the journal Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, of which Ted Kirkpatrick had some useful comments in the original DC thread.

    1) Wegman had been involved with CSDA since 1986, and was an an Advisor during the period covered by Wayback, 2004-2008.

    2) Currently, he is no longer listed, but unlike some other files, I wasn’t watching for changes.

    3) Is there someone with a subscription who can check back issues to see when he dropped off between mid-2008 and now?

    While not crucial, the timing of this might be of interest.

    • Ted Kirkpatrick

      The last CSDA issue to list E. J. Wegman on the Advisory Board was the February 2011 issue and he’s not listed in March 2011. The current latest issue is April 2011, so it appears issues are future-dated by about four months. Looks like he left the board no later than early December 2010.

      The last issue listing Y. H. Said as an Associate Editor was April 2010.

  43. Replace nnnnnn by the Abstract #s, and you will get to see the collection shown below, shown in their entirety. This covers the 5 talks in Said’s hockey stick session…

    Abstract – #309357
    Title: Analysis of the Hockey Stick
    Author(s): Nan Chen
    Keywords: Paleoclimate reconstruction ; PCA ; tree ring
    This talk focuses on the analysis of the Hockey Stick, which was based on the Congressional Testimony of Edward J. Wegman, David W. Scott, and Yasmin H. Said.

    Abstract – #309384
    Title: Statistician’s Perspective on Paleolimate Reconstruction
    Author(s): Roger Shores
    Keywords: Paleolimate Reconstruction ; Hockey stick
    This talk focuses on Statistician’s Perspective on Paleolimate Reconstruction, which lead to the Congressional hearing on Paleoclimate and the Hockey stick.

    Abstract – #309402
    Title: Analysis of Climategate
    Author(s): Duane King
    Companies: George Mason University
    Keywords: Climate gate
    This talk provides an analysis of Climategate.

    Abstract – #309421
    Title: Analysis of Wegman Report, National Academies, and Others
    Author(s): Sukhaynah Said
    Keywords: climate ; regression ; time series
    This talk focuses on the analysis of the Wegman, and National Academies Report on Global Warming and anthropogenic global warning.

    Abstract – #309367
    Title: National Academies Analysis of the Hockey Stick and Global Warming
    Author(s): Byeonghwa Park
    Keywords: Global Warming
    This talk focuses on the analysis of the Hockey Stick and Global Warming based on the National Academy Report to US Congress.

    • Ted Kirkpatrick

      The PDF version of the JSM program retains its printer’s marks at the bottom of pp. 61-79. Those give a date of July 1 2010 12:34 PM. So Said’s sessions were still scheduled about a month before they were to be held on Sunday August 1. Looks like they were cancelled at the last moment. By contrast, the other cancelled session (510) does not appear in the PDF, so it was likely cancelled earlier.

  44. Marion Delgado

    A PhD and whatever status is attendant on it is something you earn, not a right. With that in mind, I honestly don’t mind if Said’s academic career is stalled, derailed, or even ended.

    Having said that, the real culprit in a situation like this is always the one in Wegman’s position. Had these undergrads not been his, it’s highly unlikely they’d have played fast and loose with both rigor and originality. If they’re shafted, and Wegman survives, a great injustice will have been done.

    In fact, if they, including Said, were offered some other track with a different adviser – something in between awarding them credit for their non-work with Wegman and sending them to the curb – that wouldn’t necessarily be terrible.

    I like the focus on GMU – Wegman seems to be basically a partisan hack, introducing a postmodern focus on social networks as a substitute for proving a case on paleoclimate proxies and statistics. At a different university, he’d have been probably anxious about doing something like this. At GMU, clearly, feeding into GOP science-denialism is not only okay, but GMU will provide cover for you until the hue and cry over it die down.

  45. PolyisTCOandbanned

    [DC: Sorry – no go. Way off topic and over the top.]

  46. Pingback: Wegman and Said 2011: Dubious Scholarship in Full Colour, part 1 | Deep Climate

  47. Pingback: Retraction of Said, Wegman et al 2008, part 1 | Deep Climate

  48. Pingback: Why Wegman Matters « The Policy Lass

  49. Pingback: Climate deniers: Liars … « Homeless on the High Desert

  50. For those wondering how GMU’s “procrastigation” is “proceeding,” there’s this May 26, 2011 update on Dan Vergano’s USAToday article:

    Update: GMU spokesman Dan Walsch clarified in the May 26, 2011, Nature journal that the year-old investigation is still in its preliminary “inquiry” stage, rather than a full investigation.
    “In terms of my comments this past fall, my understanding of the internal procedure was not as clear then as it is now,” Walsch says, by email.

    Thanks for that clarification of “internal procedure,” Dan-o. How’s that accreditation review going?

  51. SACS has reaffirmed George Mason University’s accreditation status, as announced on their website on Dec. 15. It certainly makes me question the SACS’ commitment to their Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement. I wonder if SACS’ accreditation reviewers were even aware of GMU’s foot-dragging non-compliance with the university’s written policies. I suppose this should free GMU to continue their “endless inquiry” of their prolific plagiarist.

  52. livinginabox

    Reading Taylor B’s comment above and reference to the ‘Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement’ document (above), has an interesting chapter on integrity. GMU’s handling of Wegman et al. seems to be utterly incompatible with regard to the SACS chapter on integrity.
    [q]….The Commission on Colleges expects integrity to govern the operation of institutions and for institutions to make reasonable and responsible decisions consistent with the spirit of integrity in all matters. Therefore, evidence of withholding information, providing inaccurate information to the public, failing to provide timely and accurate information to the Commission, or failing to conduct a candid self-assessment of compliance with the Principles of Accreditation and to submit this assessment to the Commission, and other similar practices will be seen as the lack of a full commitment to integrity….. Failure of an institution to adhere to the integrity principle may result in a loss of accreditation or candidacy….

    It seems unlikely that Taylor B is wrong about this. GMU’s foot-dragging and highly questionable decisions about Wegman et al. must surely be strongly connected with the SACS accreditation process.

    Perhaps someone or more than someone should drop SACS an email?

  53. livinginabox & Taylor B:
    You may recall that Nature editorialized on this last May and contacted SACSCOC.
    “Perhaps it should fall to accreditation agencies to push for speedy investigations. Tom Benberg, vice-president of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools — the agency that accredits George Mason University — says that his agency might investigate if the university repeatedly ignored its own policies on the timing of misconduct inquiries. To get the ball rolling, he says, someone would have to file a well-documented complaint.”

    Since it has been 3 months since SACSCOC accredited GMU, perhaps the well-documented complaint that they were given by Jan 15, 2011 (that’s 2011, not 2012) might become public in the near future.

    • “…if the university repeatedly ignored its own policies on the timing of misconduct inquiries.” I’d think SACS would be interested in more than just the university’s timing. In addition to making misleading statements about the progress of their inquiry and investigation, it appears that GMU split the investigation into two committees, narrowed the scope, and wore blinders, as an effort to limit the damage to Wegman while giving the appearance that the allegations were being seriously investigated. It defies credulity that a committee could conclude that there was no misconduct involved in the Wegman report, which JM and DC have shown involved more questionable conduct than plagiarism. “The conduct applied to introductory elements of an article not to the essential research findings of the article,” said Stearns. “Had it been a more serious case, the sanctions would have been more serious.” Given that the Wegman report actually contained no “essential research findings” of any merit, one wonders if GMU’s investigative committee read it or was capable of understanding it.

      Thanks to *someone* who took the effort to file a well-documented complaint to SACS in January 2011, and I hope it does become public. The SACS accreditation review process handles third-party complaints differently than a direct complaint from the party involved (which would have been Ray Bradley, had he been motivated to submit a formal complaint to SACS), and that may have limited its impact on the accreditation review. GMU Provost Stearns claims that the lengthy review was necessary “in part because of federal requirements and in part to assure due process…” As JM has suggested, perhaps ORI will look further into GMU’s and Wegman’s compliance with federal requirements.