Wegman on Deep Climate (and “climategate”)

John Mashey has released an updated version of Strange Investigations at George Mason University [SIGMU PDF at DeSmogBlog], which tells the story of GMU’s slow-as-molasses misconduct  inquiry of Edward Wegman through various email exchanges between paleoclimatologist Raymond Bradley and GMU. Mashey now includes correspondence involving one Donald Rapp, retired engineer/physicist turned climate contrarian author. Rapp has been complaining far and wide about the indignity of plagiarism complaints lodged at the University of Southern California and at his publisher Praxis/Springer, even going so far as to exhort USA Today reporter Dan Vergano to spread one email exchange “all over the internet”.

All this will no doubt prove fascinating reading and provide fodder for weeks to come, as it has in the past. (Highlight from early 2009: “But the donkeys on deepclimate.org are the Taliban of climate change – and just as dangerous”). But for now I want to focus on two emails from Wegman himself, both forwarded by Rapp. Wegman has some choice comments about the “totally unsavory” blog of yours truly, claiming it to be – wait for it – “developed in retaliation” for enquiries into the “obvious misconduct made clear” by climategate.  But the problem is not just some obscure Canadian blogger; according to Wegman, even Bradley’s complaint to GMU itself is nothing more than “a smear campaign that attempts to deflect scrutiny from the real misconduct revealed by the climategate emails”.

When the story of the Wegman misconduct inquiry first broke in USA Today, Wegman plaintively protested “We are not the bad guys”, leaving one to wonder just who the “bad guys” might be, at least in Wegman’s fevered imagination.  Now, we have the answer in Wegman’s latest outrageous and unsubstantiated accusations against climate scientists.

Wegman’s eventual entanglement with Rapp resulted from a plagiarism complaint that was apparently lodged with University of Southern California, just as Rapp’s part-time adjunct position at the Space Engineering Science Center (SERC) was up for renewal.  In the email exchange forwarded by Rapp to USA Today’s Dan Vergano we see how SERC director and noted climate contrarian Joseph Kunc went to bat for Rapp, urging outright dismissal of the complaint, and enlisting Edward Wegman’s support. Kunc had been  involved in the anti-science petition kerfuffle at the American Physical Society, ably exposed by John Mashey. (Astonishingly the standoff continues, as SERC continues to list Rapp as “participating faculty”, while showing Rapp’s private email along with a phone number in a different area code from USC’s location).

Here is Wegman’s reply to Kunc (all the emails and Mashey’s commentary are covered in SIGMU, p. 11-15):

Date: Tue, 7 Sep 2010 09:23:19 -0400
Subject: Re: Question from Prof. Kunc

Dear Dr. Kunc,

The web blog deepclimate.org is, in my opinion, a totally unsavory operation. They have developed conspiracy theories and have consistently made charges of plagiarism not only against Dr. Rapp, but against me and my colleagues in our report to Congress. They have never spoken with me and have jumped to wild conclusions that have nothing to do with reality. Interestingly enough, they have posted copyrighted material from my website on theirs without acknowledgement. What is even worse is that they hide behind anonymity. It is my opinion that Dr. Rapp has not plagiarized anything and I hold him harmless. This web blog seems to have been developed in retaliation for the enquiries associated with the climategate email releases and the obvious misconduct made clear by those email releases.

Ed Wegman

As noted before, we have here the supreme irony of Wegman’s dismissal of ever-mounting evidence of misconduct as “wild conclusions”, while blithely charging “obvious” (yet utterly vague) misconduct on the part of climate scientists. And, as I mentioned just a couple of days ago, I’ve been blogging regularly on climate science disinformation since early 2009, and started the blog back in 2008.

The copyright comment was somewhat mystifying to me, until Google led me to this statement from the home page of George Mason University’s statistics website:

This page and all pages on this server (www.galaxy.gmu.edu) are copyright (c) 1996-2010 Edward J. Wegman and the Center for Computational Data Science, George Mason University.

Oh, I see: “Le centre, c’est moi”. So Wegman may have in mind Yasmin Said’s 2007 presentation that told the inconvenient truth about Barton staffer Peter Spencer’s hands on involvement in the Wegman et al report – a presentation that mysteriously disappeared from GMU’s website the same week that the GMU inquiry committee finally met for the first time.

As for Wegman holding Rapp harmless, neither one of this hapless pair seems to realize that copying something without attribution does not confer the right to let someone else copy it too. Quite the opposite, in fact. Not only that, but the case against Rapp includes far more than just the material appropriated from Bradley via Wegman. My cursory examination showed a large swathe taken from the Oak Ridge Laboratory web site and even careful removal of several Bradley citations from a Willie Soon block quote. (Perhaps Rapp could contact Soon to get his blessing as well). Even Rapp has allowed that this supposed inadvertant copying without attribution may have happened “10 times, or 20”. Then again, I only looked at part of Chapter 1.

At any rate, here is the second email a week later, this time in response to Rapp himself. Wegman allows that the “zealots” have also targeted him with a plagiarism complaint, just like Rapp.

From: Edward Wegman
Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2010 13:36:10 -0400
To: Donald Rapp
Subject: Re: Charges of Plagiarism by the Climategate Folks

Dear Dr. Rapp,

Thank you for your recent email. It is at least some comfort to know that the zealots aren’t targeting me alone. My Dean and Vice President for Research have asked my not to comment until the charges leveled against me have been resolved. However, the official definition of plagiarism involves copying the ideas or words of someone else and presenting them as your own. Of course, in the so-called Wegman report, we make it clear that we were not trying to represent ourselves as the inventors of paleoclimate reconstruction via tree rings as Bradley implies. Indeed, we explicitly say that these materials were included so as to give the Congressional audience a balanced picture of the area. The deepclimate website is full of crackpot conspiracy theories. I avoid reading it in order to keep a semblance of normalcy. I believe the GMU inquiry will vindicate me and my co-authors. (Rice University has already concluded that the charges against David Scott have no merit.) In any case, I have been in touch with counsel and subsequent to the GMU resolution, perhaps we can meet and decide further actions. I do agree that this is a shabby attempt at a smear campaign that attempts to deflect scrutiny from the real misconduct revealed by the climategate emails.

All the best,
Ed Wegman

Once again, Wegman appears to misunderstand the concept of plagiarism. Interestingly, though, at this point Wegman didn’t acknowledge the obvious copying of social network analysis material in the Wegman report and the follow up Said et al. He rectified that later by expanding the list of fields he was not claiming to have invented:

… we have never intended that our Congressional testimony was intended to take intellectual credit for any aspect of paleoclimate reconstruction science or for any original research aspect of social network analysis.

Wegman also took comfort from the quick exoneration of co-author Scott, while neglecting to mention that it came only after Wegman himself assumed responsibility for the sections forming the basis for Bradley’s complaint.

I do wonder, though,  whether Wegman still wants to meet with “loose lips” Rapp and “decide further actions”, despite all they have in common. After all, even before this latest batch of revelations, Rapp had already aired various private statements from Wegman at ClimateAudit and WattsUpWithThat. With ever so discreet friends like that, who needs enemies?


123 responses to “Wegman on Deep Climate (and “climategate”)

  1. Yes, Wegman is clearly an impartial arbiter of the validity of paleoclimatology, just like Barton and Spencer ordered, but don’t quote him on that.

    Is a “web blog” kind of like an intertube log?

    Janitors, trash collectors, and hash slingers unite. There is a lot of cleaning up to do.

  2. “We are not the bad guys”?
    It is not just the bad guys who are in question … but who are “We”? Wegman & Barton? The whole denialist nexus?

  3. Well, at least you know McI reads your “web blog.”

  4. Rattus Norvegicus

    I’m sure Wegman is aware of all the internet traditions, too.

  5. Susan Anderson

    Yup, internet traditions like those so ably described by Jeff Masters (2009):

    (I’m referencing this, no plagiarism intended!):
    begin quote –
    “standard package of tricks learned from decades of serving the tobacco industry:

    – Launch a public relations campaign disputing the evidence.

    – Predict dire economic consequences, and ignore the cost benefits.

    – Use non-peer reviewed scientific publications or industry-funded scientists who don’t publish original peer-reviewed scientific work to support your point of view.

    – Trumpet discredited scientific studies and myths supporting your point of view as scientific fact.

    – Point to the substantial scientific uncertainty, and the certainty of economic loss if immediate action is taken.

    – Use data from a local area to support your views, and ignore the global evidence.

    – Disparage scientists, saying they are playing up uncertain predictions of doom in order to get research funding.

    – Disparage environmentalists, claiming they are hyping environmental problems in order to further their ideological goals.

    – Complain that it is unfair to require regulatory action in the U.S., as it would put the nation at an economic disadvantage compared to the rest of the world.

    – Claim that more research is needed before action should be taken.

    – Argue that it is less expensive to live with the effects.
    -end quote (lot’s more, Jeff Masters is great):

  6. This is very revealing. When the Wegman Report first came out, although I knew it was a politically-motivated document initiated by Barton, I didn’t have clear reason to think Wegman himself was personally biased. I like to assume good faith and integrity until shown otherwise. It’s hard to do that when nearly every “skeptic” out there displays this sort of behavior.

    “The deepclimate website is full of crackpot conspiracy theories. I avoid reading it in order to keep a semblance of normalcy.”

    So he never reads this site, but he knows the content?

    • He wasn’t there; he didn’t do it; and nobody saw him.

    • This is very revealing. When the Wegman Report first came out, although I knew it was a politically-motivated document initiated by Barton, I didn’t have clear reason to think Wegman himself was personally biased.

      Huh. I assumed he was from the beginning, because of who selected him, and why (counterbalance to the NRC report, which one knew would be ultra-professional).

      Why would Barton have selected someone who might in any circumstance return a report that would make Barton unhappy?

      Barton would have to be totally stupid to choose someone who might do so. If he was interested in an objective report, he would accept the NRC effort.

      Let the scales drop from your eyes, and let you never be blinded in the future by such transparent dishonesty …

  7. Well, to be fair, he might have once read it, but stopped.
    However, SIGMU2, p.11 or A.2.10, p.34 quotes him saying:

    “It is my opinion that Dr. Rapp has not plagiarized anything and I hold him harmless”

    1) In the day elapsed between Kunc email and his reply, did Wegman obtain a copy of Rapp’s book and check?

    2) In any case, as revealed by Rapp, p.14 (or p.39), Rapp had not actually yet seen the complaint as of September 11, so I doubt that Wegman had either. Read pp.38-40 for context.

  8. I’m personally fond of Wegman’s sense of irony: he doesn’t read DC because its full of crackpot conspiracy theories but all of “this” (presumably the university investigating serious charges of plagiarism against him) is a “shabby attempt at a smear campaign that attempts to deflect scrutiny from the real misconduct revealed by the climategate emails”.

    And the fact that Kunc (Willie Soon’s PhD supervisor, don’t forget) solicits Wegman to support Donald Rapp’s re-appointment is wonderful.

  9. Somewhat related, mosher seems to think that McIntyre would post a summary of your findings to CA, re: M&M’s red noise hockey sticks and their use in the Wegman report. Assuming he would, and I doubt it, it would be fun to watch the resulting wagon circling that “skeptics” allegedly don’t participate in.


    • I’m not sure I’d want to post at CA, after reviewing the Lorax treatment.

      But that thread at Lucia’s has two good quotes on the subject of Wegman’s due diligence – toto’s and yours:


      RomanM: Now, in my consulting experience, that would be to first ensure that the mathematics of the code was written correctly and that the code would generate results of the sort claimed. He did this.
      The problem here is that if DC is factually correct, then it appears that Wegman did not even bother to read the code, much less “ensuring” anything about it.
      Claiming a given process consistently produces a certain result “in every independent replication”, and then showing the 1% largest results from a different process is frowned upon in some circles.


      Wegman reproduced the same “hockey sticks” that appeared in the M&M paper and in the supporting samples. They were identical. Despite repeated calls to release “their” code, Wegman et al have not. I seem to remember similar controversies except with different names.

      I wrote that post almost two months ago. The silence was deafening. But I guess there’s no harm in trying to get them to address it.

    • What would be the point of DC posting at CA, a website whose moderator is not generally regarded as, ahem, particularly honest? What little I’ve read at CA of McI’s weak examples and counter-accusations of “plagiarism” against others doesn’t raise my expectations of a useful interchange occurring at CA. DC’s post on “Replication and Due Diligence, Wegman Style” and others by DC and Mashey have put the known facts on the table, despite McI’s and Wegman’s considerable effort to conceal their methods and motives. If McI has something to add or a useful response to make, why hasn’t he done so here?

      Of course, it would be really helpful if McI released all of his e-mail exchanges with Barton, Spencer, Wegman, Friends of Science, and Marshall Institute in the period leading up to Wegman’s testimony at Barton/Whitfield’s 2006 Energy and Commerce Committee hearings. In a more perfect democracy, these already would have been the subject of a subpoena as part of an investigation into Wegman’s misleading testimony.

    • I bring it up because it was recently suggested that “skeptics” and “lukewarmers” don’t take attacks on their credibility personally because they aren’t defending a “consensus” or “weak” actors. I don’t put much stock in this theory, but it would be interesting to test it.

  10. He appears to have added the (c) 1996-2010 Edward J. Wegman between 2008 and now, when it read

    This page and all linked pages on our server are copyright (c) 1996-2007 Center for Computational Statistics, George Mason University. All rights reserved. There are more than 1100 pages of content and nearly 1000 web files on this server. The URL for this page is http://www.galaxy.gmu.edu/.

    Don’t think you have much of a problem under fair use and such.

  11. Mark Shapiro

    I listened to the Barton/Wegman hearings and read the Wegman report. I believed at the time that Wegman revealed that he was denier-friendly at several points:

    1) He said that since CO2 was heavier than air, it might settle at low altitude and not affect the entire atmosphere.

    2) He said that since daily temperatures swing more than 2 degrees, he didn’t think that a global 2 degree rise would be harmful (though he recanted somewhat the next day. I wonder who called him?)

    3) He admitted that he worked directly with McIntyre to get his code working, but did not work with Mann at all.

    4) The report contained long tracts about dendrochronology that were not only irrelevant to his task and completely outside his expertise, but also seemed vaguely disparaging. Thanks to DeepClimate and John Mashey, we now understand exactly what that was about: a direct attack on the science of paleoclimatology created by slapping some negative adjectives into plagiarized text. This attack was then replagiarized by Rapp, with Wegman’s blessing, of course.

    And even with Deep’s best efforts, as of now Wegman and Rapp are largely getting away with it.

  12. As an experiment, picked a section of Rapp’s text book that I was interested in (Chapter 3, “Temperatures in the past century”). I looked for a sciency-sounding sentence and pasted it into google. Sure enough, it was un-attributed quotation (from Hansen 1999). He does cite the source, but he doesn’t identify that he is quoting it word for word. My guess is his entire book is a gigantic string of verbatim quotes not identified as such, with the occasional quotation marks sprinkled in.

    Here’s page 101 from his book:

    Here’s the sentence that I picked:
    “Data collected and recorded by thousands of individuals with equipment and procedures subject to change over time inevitably contain many errors and inconsistencies, some of which will be impossible to identifiy and correct.”

    That is the first sentence of Hansen, et al. 1999 section 3.

    Click to access 1999_Hansen_etal.pdf

  13. Here’s another example from the same page:

    “Studies of temperature change over land areas are routinely made by several groups based on measurements of the meteorological station network.” – Rapp, Assessing Climate Change pg. 101

    “Studies of temperature change over land areas based on the meteorological station network are routinely made by groups such as the University of East Anglia (UEA), United Kingdom (Jones et al. 1982, 1999), GISS (Hansen and Lebedeff 1987; Hansen et al. 1999), and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) (Peterson and Vose 1997; Quayle et al. 1999). “ – Wang et. al. Intrinsic versus forced variation in coupled climate model simulations over the Arctic during the Twentieth Century

    Note: there appears to be no reference to the Wang et.al. article.

  14. Here’s another quote but this one is at least referenced, although there is no quotation around the quote nor indentation to indicate a direct quote, despite it being almost verbatim:

    “As a consequence of the sun’s rotation we cannot exclude [the possibility ]that energy transport to the surface and its emissions into space is anisotropic. Anisotropy is therefore an additional potential source of variabilitiy. Some anisotropy is caused by the 27[-day] solar rotation (Beer, Mende and Stellmacher, 2000). “Rapp p. 146 [indicates difference from original wording]

    “As a consequence of the Sun’s rotation we cannot exclude that the energy transport to the surface and its emission into space is anisotropic. Anisotropy is there- fore an additional potential source of variability. Some anisotropy is caused by the 27 d solar rotation as visible in the spectral excess (cf. Fig. 3).” Beer, Mende and Stellmacher, 2000.


  15. More:

    “Additionally, the range of temperature experienced over the course of a day, a season, a year, or decades is typically very large. A lowland tropical region experiences far less difference in temperature over the course of a year than does a highland temperate region. Determining the year-to-year temperature change in one location does not indicate how temperature varies in a region with a variable geography.” Rapp, Assessing Climate Change, p. 108 (no citation at all in the entire paragraph)

    “Additionally, the range of temperatures experienced over the course of a day, season, year or decades is significantly different depending on location. A lowland tropical region experiences far less difference in temperature over the course of a year than does a highland temperate region. Determining year-to-year temperature change in one location does not indicate how temperature changes in a region with different geography.” Soon and Baliunas, Lessons and Limits of Climate History, p. 4.

    Rapp does discuss Soon and Baliunas further down on the page but there is no indication that the paragraph I quoted was theirs. I wonder how much we’d find if we kept on with this?

  16. Mark:
    “And even with Deep’s best efforts, as of now Wegman and Rapp are largely getting away with it.”

    We’ll see, but I don’t think so. Some things take time. Do recall that Rapp’s contract was not renewed, for example.

    “I wonder how much we’d find if we kept on with this?”


    “I have surveyed the wide field of global climate change energy and I am familiar with the entire literature of climatology.”

  17. My impression was that the parts of Rapp I looked at were mostly cut-and-paste strung together with minimal editing. Sometimes blockquoted and cited, but often not.

    Rapp himself allowed that he may have forgotten to attribute 10 or 20 times. At this rate, I would say it was more like 50 or 100, but who knows for sure. However, it’s a safe bet that the complaint to USC was based on more than just the portion of chapter 1 I looked at (and there were already 4 or 5 there, although I didn’t document all of them).

    I don’t see how Praxis-Singer could possibly defend this sort of thing (well, Praxis is a kind of almost vanity imprint, but Springer should know better).

    By the way the same passage I found from Oak Ridge is also in Rapp’s Ice Age book. So who knows how much cut-and-paste there is in that one. And much of the rest of the Praxis catalog is, um, very interesting too. So much trash to collect, so little time. (I guess I’ll have to start a new thread for Rapp and Praxis).

  18. Mark Shapiro says:

    I listened to the Barton/Wegman hearings and read the Wegman report. I believed at the time that Wegman revealed that he was denier-friendly at several points:

    1) He said that since CO2 was heavier than air, it might settle at low altitude and not affect the entire atmosphere.

    And, since that time, Wegman signed on to this letter http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=164002 , which goes well-beyond any (supposed) expertise he has in the statistical analysis in producing climate proxy reconstructions, and talks about climate science, a field about which he displayed some pretty appalling ignorance about in his appearance at those Congressional hearings!

  19. Oh yeah, and I might add that by signing it, he aligned himself with such illustrious fellow-signer climate scientists as Tim Ball, Ernst-Georg Beck, Sonja A. Boehmer-Christiansen, Richard S. Courtney, Don Easterbrook, Gerhard Gerlich, Zbigniew Jaworowski, Lubos Motl, Ian Plimer, Tom Segalstad, and Brian Valentine ! That’s quite an impressive list, including several people who deny the CO2 rise is anthropogenic and think that the greenhouse effect violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics!

  20. Wow, that list of signatories is quite the Who’s Who of climate science denial, fabrication, falsification, and outright lying and fraud. Have these people no sense of decency? Have they no shame? Haven’t they done enough?

    • You forgot stupidity. Either you honestly believe these absurd claims, in which case you are too stupid to deserve whatever qualifications you’ve managed to acquire, or you don’t, in which case you are so stupid that you think others will be taken in by nonsense you don’t even believe yourself.

    • TS is referring to the “yous” who signed the letter, I think, not to TLE. The stupidity vs. mendacity question keeps arising here. It’s important to keep in mind they aren’t mutually exclusive.

    • Taylor B,

      You are right. I used “you” in 2 different senses. Apologies for any confusion.

      As you say, any combination of stupidity and mendacity fits the bill.

    • On the question, “Are they evil or just stupid?” this evidence appears to indicate both, but weighs heavily toward the former conclusion.

  21. If you use Viper plagiarism detection software on all of Rapp’s book (First Edition), you get the following plagiarism quotients (proportion of material available elsewhere on the web):
    Chap 1: 37%
    Chap 2: 20%
    Chap 3: 11%
    Chap 4: 10%
    Chap 5: 20%
    Chap 6: 22%
    Chap 7: 32%
    Chap 8: 54%
    Chap 9: 2%

    This analysis does not consider the historical sequence (e.g., someone may have copied Rapp rather than the other way around) but it is highly suggestive of a pattern, and my extensive spot checks reveal that the source on the web always predates Rapp’s book.

    For comparison, a chapter from Bradley’s book comes in at 5%, and virtually all of those hits are from DC’s site and his analysis of the overlap with Rapp/Wegman. Bradley’s work thus confirms the obvious; viz that it is possible to write scholarly books that are original and do not trigger red flags when sent through plagiarism software.

    Rapp’s approach, by contrast, does not appear to fall within reasonable bounds of academic scholarship, and it is distressing that he was not only contracted to write a second edition but that this edition seemingly inherited the dubious sections of the first edition.

  22. “And even with Deep’s best efforts, as of now Wegman and Rapp are largely getting away with it.”

    Actually, not …
    1) Rapp’s contract at USC was not renewed, despite strong lobbying from Kunc and Rapp. Again, the likeliest explanation seems to be that Rapp won’t agree to an investigation that USC demands for him to be rehired, which is odd, since he has seemed *so sure* there was no plagiarism.

    The Rapp / Springer issue seems yet to be pursued, but that’s certainly still there awaiting effort, and more examples seem to be accumulating.

    Actually, I don’t think that’s the right term for pervasive behavior.

    if anyone knows anyone on Praxis Editorial Board, they might ask what’s going on with John Mason (SIGMU2, p.15).

    2) Even with all the GMU footdragging, Wegman was not pleased 08/21/10.

    3) After 24 years on EB for CSDA journal, Wegman seems to have dropped off about a month ago. The timing might or might not be coincidence.

    However, since the actual filing of {misconduct, funds mis-use} of complaints tends to be kept quiet, their existence is often unknown until:

    a) They get resolved and the complaint is upheld.
    b) Somebody reveals them (as both Rapp and Wegman did, respectively).

    • John, the “sloppy” was meant to be an understatement. 🙂 If done once or twice, it could be considered sloppy but repeated again and again and it’s much worse.

  23. John and Deep – thanks again.

    Some justice may be done.

  24. Tim Ball…. That’s quite an impressive list, including several people who deny the CO2 rise is anthropogenic and think that the greenhouse effect violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics!

    And don’t forget about the Velikovsky fan. That would be one Tim Ball. Details here: http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/31141

  25. Ha ha! I read Velikovsky when I was 10 years old! LOL! Kid lit!

  26. Speaking of Velikovsky, can anyone find the article of fn3 of this Wikipedia page?

  27. Marion Delgado

    I think Steve Goddard’s adiabatic warming paradigm resembles one of Velikovsky’s early conceits. It also, of course harkens back to before people like Sagan and Hansen had struggled with and surpassed questions like his when regarding Venus, but it does have a Velikovskian ring. It’d be nice to go back to Lumo’s earliest pronouncements on that, and show their crank nature (before he back-pedaled). Wegman’s CO2 picture reminds me of Velikovsky’s paper that assumed the atmosphere doesn’t mix.

  28. Trenberth has just been caught plagiarizing. Will you guys investigate this as well?


    • In the very paragraph posted on WUWT, Trenberth cites Hasselman – please tell us how its plagerism when the source is cited????

  29. Trenberth has just been caught plagiarizing. Will you guys investigate this as well? (skip smith 2011)

    His quote was cited, exactly as I cited you above.

  30. Even Dave Scott Springer (the infamous “DaveScot” of Uncommon Descent co-moderator fame) understand that the claim is bull:

    Ummm… please disregard my previous. Trenberth cited Hasselman thus I don’t see any nefarious actions afoot. So what if he copied it? It was properly cited. (Dave Springer 2011)

  31. As any undergraduate student can tell you, lifting text verbatim without quotation marks is plagiarism. It’s not enough to just stick a citation at the end of the paragraph.

  32. Sure, the cited passage (and following sentences) should have been blockquoted. But Hasselman *was* cited, his text *wasn’t* distorted and the amount of material was *comparatively minimal*.

    That’s three huge differences from what Wegman and Said did with their uncited, distorted and massive copying in both the Wegman Report and Said et al 2008. Not to mention presenting slightly edited (and distorted) copy-and-paste pastiches as their own original summaries in the Wegman Report appendix. Or Said’s PhD dissertation, and her Genetic Algorithms chapter, both supervised by Wegman.

  33. So you admit this was plagiarism.

    [DC: Not if it was done in honest error, which appears likely. At any rate, it’s extremely minor and I’m not sure it would rise to plagiarism. But perhaps experts can weigh in as to how such cases are usually handled.

    I have made a similar comment about the opening of McShane and Wyner 2011 although I’m not sure I posted that – I’ll check. There are of course numerous other scholarship problems with M&W. ]

    • Trenberth cites Hasselmann both at the end of that para and again at the end of the article. He omitted to use quotation marks, or some other obvious means such as use of italics, to indicate the extent of the quote.

      This is an omission of punctuation or format, nothing more. A plagiarist would hardly have cited the source at all. To claim “plagiarism!” is dishonest or stupid beyond belief.

      Better still: what does Hasselmann think?

    • Re: “what does Hasselmann think?”
      I wouldn’t want to follow Wegman and Rapp’s rationalization, whereby Rapp claimed he couldn’t have plagiarized Wegman’s previous plagiarism, fabrication, and falsification of Bradley, because Wegman had supposedly held Rapp harmless:

      “It is my opinion that Dr. Rapp has not plagiarized anything and I hold him harmless ” (from Wegman’s Sept 7, 2010 letter to Dr. Kunc at USC).

      Of course, the ludicrous (and possibly unique) example of Rapp and Wegman attempting to exonerate each other for their serial dishonesty couldn’t be approached by Trenberth, even *if* there was a case to be answered over a trivial and easily corrected editorial lapse of formatting or punctuation of a properly cited quote. But I’m pretty sure that Hasselman’s opinion wouldn’t be decisive or even necessary.

  34. Situational ethics. I love it.

    [DC: The only lack of ethics I see here is a stream of false and exaggerated accusations coming from the contrarians. Over and over.

    By the way, recognition of “honest error” is part of most misconduct policies that I have examined . Is that “situational ethics” in your opinion?]

  35. Here’s the opening from McShane and Wyner 2011, seen as minor changes from the Wikipedia article on paleoclimatology.

    “Paleoclimatology (also Palaeoclimatology) is the study of climate and climate change taken on over the scale of the entire history of Earth.”

    There is other wording in that paragraph that appears to come from Wikipedia. My comment (part of a long analysis of McShane and Wyner scholarship):

    The following is a side-by-side comparison of probable antecedents for the ideas and wording of McShane and Wyner’s opening sentences. While this may not rise to actionable plagiarism, it does appear that McShane and Wyner have consulted Wikipedia articles (or other web sources incorporating Wikipedia) to obtain a background understanding of paleoclimatology. The sentences also presage the heavy reliance on Wegman et al (2006) instead of the relevant peer-reviewed scientific literature, as elaborated below.

    Of course, in this case there is no citation, so the case would be stronger. Nevertheless, this appears to be more a case of hidden citation, where the authors seek to hide the source of their information. Not because they are attempting to take credit, but more to avoid the embarrassment of reliance on non-scholarly sources.

  36. I don’t blame you for changing the subject.

    [DC: I answered you forthrightly, gave a short comparison of the Trenberth and Wegman cases and gave another example that I don’t consider to be plagiarism, even though the case is stronger.

    That’s changing the subject? Nice try.]

  37. Skip Smith:
    This manuscrip is the text for a verbal presentation by Trenberth. I’m sure that when speaking he used air quotes. Problem solved.

    Eli likes air quotes, thinking they are bunny ears.

    • The talk hasn’t happened yet:

      Wednesday, 26 January 2011: 1:45 PM
      609 (Washington State Convention Center)
      Kevin E. Trenberth, NCAR, Boulder, CO

      # Manuscripts ClimategateThoughts4AMS_v2.pdf (269.5 kB)

      This talk is in honor of my friend and colleague Stephen Schneider, who was pre-eminent in communicating climate change to the public. I have given many public talks on climate change, and I have always tried to emphasize the observational facts and their interpretation, rather than the less certain projections into the future. I will illustrate how I have always tried to present the material in a fairly policy neutral way, and I have pointed out ways to encourage discussion about value systems and why these lead to potentially different actions about what one does about climate change. For many years now I have been an advocate of the need for a climate information system, of which a vital component is climate services, but it is essential to recognize that good climate services and information ride upon the basic observations and their analysis and interpretation. The WCRP Observations and Assimilation Panel, which I have chaired for 6 years, has advocated for the climate observing system and the development of useful products. Moving towards a form of operational real time attribution of climate and weather events is essential, but needs to recognize the shortcomings of models and understanding (or the uncertainties, as Steve would say). Given that global warming is unequivocal, the null hypothesis should be that all weather events are affected by global warming rather than the inane statements along the lines of “of course we cannot attribute any particular weather event to global warming”. That kind of comment is answering the wrong question.

  38. Sorry. I was blinded by the fact that the paragraph in question was both properly cited and referenced.

  39. It’s kind of sad to see the desperation that drives these kind of attacks. Even if the Trenberth item were plagiarism (which I don’t think it is), what would be the point of the argument? That plagiarism is OK, since Wegman et al. aren’t the only culprits?

    The fundamental issue with the Wegman Report isn’t that substantial parts of it were plagiarized; it’s that substantial parts of it were wrong – e.g., falsified/fabricated. Wegman didn’t just plagiarize – he plagiarized and distorted, in order to reach the conclusion he wanted, without regard to the evidence. Even if one conceded that the Trenberth item were plagiarized (which I do not), there’s no equivalency here.

    The argument is a complete red herring. Does Mr. Smith realize that? I think it’s safe to assume that Anthony Watts does realize that.

  40. Some commenters at Climate Audit think it’s a pre-print version. I wonder if anyone tried emailing Trenberth about it, since his email address is given.


  41. Skip Smith | January 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Reply

    As any undergraduate student can tell you, lifting text verbatim without quotation marks is plagiarism. It’s not enough to just stick a citation at the end of the paragraph.

    the requirements ( quantitative) for a charge of plagarism to be sustained have never been laid out by the accusers (DC or any others) We can speculate why this is so. Bradley, Wegman, McShane, Trenberth have all failed to adhere to the strictest standards in documenting the sources of their work and the manner in which their sources were used ( bradley, wegman and Trenberth all citing without using proper quotation) . I would say the same thing about Trenberth that I said about Wegman. There really isnt an established style guide for the writing situation in question. Whatever shortcomings they exhibit are easily remedied by submitting a text that has full and proper citation with the appropriate textual marks to indicate where phrases are borrowed.

    Luckily for Trenberth the talk hasnt happened yet. So, he will get to make the changes required and prove the point that in its current form the document is flawed. If he fails to include the required quotation marks, then his behavior will vindicate Wegman.

    [DC: Do you really think that Wegman et al could be saved just by adding quotation marks and all of the missing citations? Of course not – the report contains numerous errors and long swathes of lightly edited copied portions (which also contain introduced errors and interpolated additions, sometimes within the same sentence). The actual plagiarism is only the tip of the iceberg. Face it, it can’t be fixed. ]

    • The silliness of SM’s false assertions of equivalence between a couple instances of possible errors by others, in comparison to Wegman et al.’s report, demonstrates how far some people will go to be deliberately obtuse. None of the examples he’s cited comes anywhere close to the pervasive copying and distortion found throughout the Wegman report, nor do they absolve Wegman for producing a work so bad it can hardly be credited as junk science because it’s just misleading propaganda.

      After all that DC and Mashey have exposed regarding Wegman’s (actually McI’s) failed statistical analysis, his ignorance of the subject matter, and the hypocrisy of his social network analysis, I’m wondering what part of the Wegman report SM actually believes is worth defending. It would be interesting to see him quote his favorite part of the report and try to defend its validity.

      SM repeats as one of his counter-examples the assertion of Bradley’s “plagiarism,” a charge which SM apparently cribbed uncritically from ClimateAudit, despite this claim having been refuted thoroughly here and elsewhere–there’s simply no substance to it.

      “As any undergraduate student can tell you, lifting text verbatim without quotation marks is plagiarism. It’s not enough to just stick a citation at the end of the paragraph.”

      Read McI’s nonsense “Copygate” post again and you’ll find McI himself and several others gleefully asserting (on Wegman’s behalf) that ORI provides exceptions for just this sort of lapse “because ORI does not consider such use as substantially misleading to the reader or of great significance.” What DC and Mashey found in the Wegman report is quite the opposite (i.e., it is substantially misleading throughout). It contains patterns of pervasive scholarship problems that are difficult to understand as resulting from any unintentional error or sloppiness, rather than willful misconduct. It cites sources that were obviously never consulted, much less understood by Wegman, and uses citations more as a way to provide a respectable veneer of “scholarship” than to accurately inform the reader. For Wegman’s apologists, then, to claim that his indefensible report was not intended as a work of scholarship and therefore not subject to the same rigorous standards, while defending it with authoritative-sounding yet irrelevant ORI references, is just an attempt to stand the world on its head. Wegman himself testified, misleadingly, that his team’s report was rigorously peer-reviewed, much like an NRC report. Are we supposed to believe he made this claim in order to discredit his own work?

      There’s no need for SM to speculate about a lack of quantitative “requirements” for judging plagiarism. If he feels others are equally guilty, perhaps he should send out some complaints and see how quickly they’re dismissed. Many panels have investigated academic misconduct and have been able to make this judgment by applying their experience and accepted academic standards of care. The question is, why has GMU found it so difficult to complete even the obvious first step of their “inquiry?”

    • As any undergraduate student can tell you, lifting text verbatim without quotation marks is plagiarism. It’s not enough to just stick a citation at the end of the paragraph. (Mosher 2011)

      As a statement of faith, I expect you to claim that these are my words, not yours.

  42. Come, DC. If something needs quotes or block quotes, and it doesn’t have them, then it’s simply wrong. There’s nothing complicated about that, so don’t muddle it.

    Is one editing oversight in any way comparable to the huge volume of sloppiness and worse in Wegman and Rapp? No, but it’s still wrong.

    • I agreed it was wrong and should have been blockquoted – right at the beginning. I agree with you it was very likely an oversight, i.e. an honest error. It could be fixed very easily.

      But the issue here is the false equivalence asserted between this case (or even more absurdly Bradley supposedly copying Fritts), and the massive problems in Wegman et al.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      Actually I have seen this style of citation many times: a single full
      paragraph immediately followed by the reference in parentheses. In fact this is what they seem to teach
      students at our university…

      So, I don’t think this is plagiarism… on condition, of course, that the cited text matches the original 😉

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      …and I could add that I don’t actually like this style. Initially I even corrected my students using it, until they told me where they got it from…

    • GP,

      Interesting. But then how does one distinguish this block quote from citations that are attached to paraphrases (as the other two appear to be, both within the same paragraph, with the second cite at the end)? I guess I’d have to see an actual style guide to see.

      Anyway, my best guess is that this passage was copied with the accompanying citation with the intention of a block quote or later paraphrase.

      If I were Ternbreth, I’d correct the problem, and perhaps include the episode in his talk as yet another example of his personal experience of the false claims emanating from climate change critics.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      > But then how does one distinguish

      DC, indeed. Which is why I dislike this.
      The only style guide examples I am aware of are not in English.

  43. Let’s give steven mosher a little more space. Here’s what he wrote at WUWT:

    Bradley’s complaint against Wegman was not that Wegman didnt CITE bradley, he clearly did. His complaint was that he did not indicate the MANNER of his borrowing. he cited bradley, but didnt use quote marks to indicate that bradleys words were used.

    in every plagarism there are two issues at play.

    1. if you borrow ideas you have to cite the source of the idea
    2. if you borrow words you have to indicate that you borrowed them.

    so, you have to indicate sources and the manner in which they are used.

    Bradley, Wegman and Trenberth all fail to do a proper job of this. The situation is remedied by following established style guides.

    For the umpteenth time, Wegman et al didn’t cite Bradley in the passages in question. There was no indication whatsoever that those passages were from Bradley. Do you still not understand what the word “cite” means? I guess not.

    And I guess you missed the fact that McIntyre’s accusations against Bradley were bogus. (See the comment replying to dhogaza on another thread and follow the links). Just like those against Wahl and Ammann (two separate instances, with one misconduct charge dismissed out of hand – and rightly so). And many, many other cases …

    Now let’s try a little experiment. Rewrite the following sentence to correct the errors and give a proper (hitherto lacking) citation:

    The average width of a tree ring is a function of many variables including the tree species, tree age, stored carbohydrates in the tree, nutrients in the soil, and climatic factors including sunlight, precipitation, temperature, wind speed, humidity, and even carbon dioxide availability in the atmosphere.

    (Hints: there are two obvious errors, and the reference to carbon dioxide was added by Wegman et al)

  44. Another good exercise would be putting quotes and citations for all the copied material in Wegman et al section 2.3 (social networks, copied from Wasserman & Faust, De Nouy et al, and Wikipedia without *any* attribution whatsoever in Wegman et al, never mind citations).

    Again, for steven mosher’s benefit, that was also part of the complaint to GMU, as was the copying in Said et al. Of course, if he only reads WUWT or Climate Audit, he wouldn’t know that.

    I suppose in that case it would just be a bunch of block quotes strung together. That would also correct all the errors that were introduced, when the copied material was edited.

  45. LOL. I win.

    [DC: In your fevered imagination. ]

  46. It seems to me that McIntyre’s and Mosher’s strict definitions of plagiarism would imply that they have already judged Wegman guilty. Presumably, we can look forward to angry cries of “whitewash” from them should the GMU inquiry decide to exonerate Wegman.

  47. DC:
    But quoting the real SNA stuff would lose the wondrous “statues.”

    Given that the exact complaints have been published, one might think a few more people would read them, but I guess not.

    Dunning-Kruger is in great evidence.

  48. The first sentence in the Trenberth paper:

    >>”This article briefly summarizes my views that have formed in recent years on communicating climate change in the light of first hand experiences in so-called “climategate”.”<<

    O RLY?

    In this context the plagiarism is even worse. LOL.

    • Indeed! “Summarizes” seems like a misstatement. More like, “is my substitute for my thoughts…”

      Because it’s beginning to look like KT’s skull is a slightly cluttered echo chamber.

    • You’re welcome to submit your misconduct complaint, Skip. I’m looking forward to hearing the response. “LOL” (Skip 2011).

  49. Motl call the document “preprint” saying it has yet to be published. To me, that makes it a draft, part of the editing process.

    Who’s right, me or Tony?

    • It is a preprint, since the panel presentation hasn’t happened yet. I notice that it is version 2, so there is no reason why a third version could not be submitted before or perhaps even after the event (depending on the deadlines).

      From what I saw on the AMS site, very few of the participants have posted anything other than abstracts. Trenberth’s full document was the only one shown for his panel; the others were abstracts only. I’ll try and dig out that page later.

  50. The rules vary for block quotes, here or here, for example.

    The Trenberth text was properly copied, cited and referenced, in a separate paragraph.
    It likely should have been indented, or in a smaller font, or a different font, although if this were reformatted from a script, I’m not too surprised., but I’m told this was an earlier version anyway.

    It DID NOT need quote marks, although people do or do. (Well, HTML practices may send despair through old typographers.)

    One’s ideas of optimal usage vary according to style guides, and combination of:
    a) HTML
    b) paper
    c) Online PDF

    For b+c) I generally use indented, -1pt, but with quotes around (which are not strictly necessary, but make sure, and let me be visually unambiguous with a small indent, even near bullet lists and such),. It also means that when I or someone else copies the block quote into HTML, there’s a fighting chance the quotes will come with it, even though the indent will disappear.

    I find full-size indented block quotes of any size annoying in portrait 2-column mode or landscape 3-column mode, because they can get fairly narrow and use a a lot of column inches.

    I have become increasingly fond of the landscape, 2-column mode of SSWR or SIGMU2, as opposed to the portrait mode of the earlier CCC. I use 4 screens, all 1024-1080 pixels high. To see the full page in portrait puts it at 77%. that is OK for younger eyes, perhaps, but for me the 11-pt type is OK, but 10-pt for block quotes and footnotes is wearing. At 100%, the text is readable, but one cannot see the entire page, which means awkwardness for footnotes, or (if you are using 2-column portrait) having to scroll down, up, and down again. Screens are not exactly books.

    I’ve become fond of the landscape 2-column, because the entire page is visible even on the smallest (old 1280×1024) screen. I can (barely) read one column on an iPhone, but obviously, that is not an intended target.

    Anyway, this whole thing is silly, compared to the various FFP flaws of {Wegman Report, Said, et al (2008), Said(2005), Sharabati(2008), Rezazad(2009), McShane&Wyner(2010), and the various other related cases people have found.}

    Unlike some readers of DC’s blog (there are some real experts), it is quite clear that many people simply have not the foggiest idea of plagiarism rules in any direction. I am delighted to get them on record!

    • Rattus Norvegicus


      I would generally agree with you. The block quote was properly cited. The subsequent sentences were paraphrases, but he thing that McIntyre (as usual) fails to acknowledge were that they were:

      Were part of a paragraph which extended the truisms in the contested sentences.

      Pretty hard to make a plagiarism charge on that.

  51. There’s a difference between unintentional plagiarism and intentional plagiarism. They are treated differently in academic investigations, at least in my experience. As someone who has graded hundreds of undergrad essays, it appears that Trenberth improperly documented the long passage, and should have indented it to indicate it was a direct quote. He did cite Hassleman, so this is no big deal. He did neglect to document several passages. However, since he cited Hassleman earlier, I suspect that he neglected to document the passages he liked, perhaps forgetting that they were not his own words, and was therefore sloppy rather than making an outright attempts to steal Hassleman’s ideas and pass them off as his own. One runs the risk of doing this when one isn’t a stickler for documenting your work as you write and read.

    If he had not cited Hassleman at all and used verbatim quotes without citation, I would agree this was intentional plagiarism. So, sloppy, yes. Embarrassing, yes. Of the same extent as Wegman and Rapp? No. Of the same import? No. Wegman was a report to Congress and could — and likely did — influence public policy. Rapp was a “textbook” which might be used to miseducate unwitting students. Trenberth was an opinion piece. A “talk” given at a conference. Should he have properly cited Hassleman? Of course. He has time to correct this.

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      I’m not sure that I agree with you here since you basically support the McIntryre “reduction ad adsurbun” view of plagiarism. Given his standards one would have to cite the use of the word “the” :).

      The paragraph in question (the one following the block quote) which contains truisms (scientists make mistakes, assumptions impact findings, blah, blah) hardly rise to the level of plagiarism. These are well known facts. The contribution is his explanation of how the IPCC process tries to sort out the noise, something that Hasselman did not appear to address. Is a cite really needed for the word “the”? (Rhetorical question there…). Of course he could have written that paragraph as:

      “Scientists make mistakes and often make assumptions that limit the validity of their results (after Hasselman 2010). They regularly argue with colleagues who arrive at different conclusions (Hasselman, 2010). These debates follow the normal procedure of scientific inquiry (Haselman, 2010). The IPCC assessments are a means of taking stock and avoiding some of the “noise” created by the different approaches and thereby providing conservative but robust statements about what is known and what is not.”

      The first three sentences are truisms. Nobody would disagree with them, they are facts. I just can’t see why they would have to be cited. The last sentence in the paragrah is an original contribution built upon the the truisms presented, how could this possibly be plagiarism?

  52. and I neglected to spell Hasselman properly… Mea culpa.

  53. Rattus Norvegicus

    And why the heck aren’t lists considered to be kosher HTML in this damn thing?

    • Read the (very short) list of permitted HTML below the comments box. Links, bold, citation, blockquote, timestamp, italics, strikeout. That’s about it.

    • I use one of the following symbols to format short non-numbered lists in WordPress comments:

      – hyphens (-)
      – asterisks (*)
      – percentage sign (%)

      Today it’s hyphens.

  54. Rattus, with all due respect, I think you’re trying too hard. There are some truisms that one might get away with using without any citation, but I don’t believe the ones Trenberth used nor the way they were used count in this case.

    Not to belabour a minor point, but if a particular phrasing of a truism has been used countless times by other authors, it could be used without citation. If no one but a single author has phrased a truism (or set of them) a specific way, it should be cited even if the idea is a truism. In other words, yes, scientists make mistakes, argue with their colleagues who disagree, and yes this is part of normal scientific inquiry but to link these thoughts together in this specific way using these words is unique to Hasselman.

    I used the plagiarism checker and the only places that these lines shows up, “They regularly argue with colleagues who arrive at different conclusions. These debates follow the normal procedure of scientific inquiry”are in Hasselman or Trenberth. All 14 results on the net originate either in Hasselman (once in the Nature article) or Trenberth in excerpts which, BTW, are now being propagated across the denialosphere at WU, CA, Ice Cap, and other similar sites.

    In my view, it was a minor slip-up, it occurred in a pre-print, and can be easily corrected. If I were a communications advisor to Trenberth, I’d suggest a brief acknowledgement and correction and move on to what really matters. Defending something in yourself that you criticize in your opponent looks bad.

    • shewonk,

      I’m more or less with you.

      Except for this: “Defending something in yourself that you criticize in your opponent looks bad.”

      This might imply a false equivalence between the minor and almost certainly unintentional Trenberth case and the massive scholarship problems in the Wegman report.

  55. I don’t think there is an equivalence as I said in my earlier comment. One is minor and one is major. It’s always advisable to shoot for as high a standard as you can, admit mistakes and correct them, then move on. That’s the best policy.

    • I know you don’t think there is an equivalence, but the statement I pointed to could easily be construed that way. Don’t be surprised if it gets quoted out of context.

    • Point taken.

      One either must say/write nothing at all because of the risk of being misquoted and misrepresented or speak / write very carefully and be prepared to defend your words and admit mistakes. In my job, I’m used to thinking about the best way to respond to a political attack or faux pas, which is usually to deal with it swiftly / correct a mistake with little fanfare in order to get it over with and move on. Make new headlines.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      Saying nothing at all is not a very realistic option for scientists that are supposed to publish 😦

  56. The Trenberth document was quietly changed to add citations. LOL.

    • So Trenberth is willing to correct mistakes when they are brought to his attention (which John Mashey, and perhaps others, did). That is something that both Wegman and McIntyre have failed to do many times. Mind you, in the case of Wegman, it’s understandable as corrections would require a complete rewriting of the Wegman report. LOL.

      Of course, the previous version doesn’t appear to have been intended as the final one, since there are other changes as well.

      Trenberth’s version 3 is here:

      Click to access ClimategateThoughts4AMS_v3.pdf

      The session is here:

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      Yep… but now it’s no longer verbatim. The subsentence “what climate scientists have never seriously doubted” has dropped out, without an ellipsis.

      Sigh… expect v4…

    • “The Trenberth document was quietly changed to add citations. LOL.”

      The citation is there, presumably you meant quotes?

      Not that you’d understand the difference …

    • There are more citations, but no quotes of Hasselmann. Also some quotes, but some paraphrases. There are other changes as well (for instance, Thomas Freidman is quoted).

      I tend to agree with GP – it was hastily done, and there may be a v4.

    • You mean, like this:
      “LOL” (Skip “LOL” Smith, 2011).
      LOL. Uh-oh.
      “Jane, get me off of this thing!” (G. Jetson, 1962).

    • How do you know it wasn’t “noisily” changed? Were you in earshot?

  57. Gavin’s Pussycat wrote:

    Sigh… expect v4…

    If he notices on his own.

    Email? I suspect it will be flooded by the time he gets back from Europe. Morano has his email address plastered on the depot page not once, twice or three times, but 10. A bit much even for Morano, I believe, especially given recent events.

    • This is getting ridiculous. Why are we even having this discussion? Seriously, does anyone really give a damn about citations in a Trenberth’s draft? Do you think Watts or McI do? Please.

      Stop feeding the trolls, people.

    • Rocco wrote:

      This is getting ridiculous. Why are we even having this discussion? Seriously, does anyone really give a damn about citations in a Trenberth’s draft? Do you think Watts or McI do? Please.

      Do you mean to suggest that this might be some sort of a distraction? To keep the spotlight from falling McI’s bowl full of cherries or some such?

    • Distraction is always a possibility (it is one of the standard tactics of denial).
      But the main motivation is IMHO nothing more that basic trolling, i.e. to aggravate people.

      I expect this to happen more often now. After all, McI must be pretty p**sed that after years of blathering about (imaginary) plagiarism, the only real case is made against the only thing specifically made for his defense. But does he really care about those citations? Of course not. And neither should we. This kind of c**p is destined to stay within the noise-sphere, and there no reason for us to bring it out. Like I said, it just feeds the trolls.

    • I haven’t given it as much thought as I might like just yet, but I suspect that distraction may be the central strategy of denialism.

      Instead of discussing what should be done we are distracted by attacks on the science. Instead of discussing the cumulative weight of the evidence we are distracted by arguments concerning one point or another in isolation from the rest. Instead of focusing on evidence we are left defending scientists against a concerted smear campaign aimed not just at the scientists but the science itself.

      And still others are distracted by an ideology that certain industrial interests heavily invested in over decades. In defense of tobacco, CFCs, dioxin, asbestos, leaded gasoline, benzene, formaldehyde and a long list of other products that science had shown are injurious to human health. Those who stood to make a profit were indifferent to the evidence and through a multipurpose ideology they were able to raise armies of people who were similarly indifferent to the evidence even though they didn’t stand to make any profit and would in fact be subject to needless risk.

      All smoke and mirrors. All distraction.

    • Exactly, Stephen McIntyre and co. are running around screaming “squirrel” in a pathetic attempt to take our attention away from their beloved (and plagiarised and erroneous etc.) Wegman report. Stephen McIntyre has been crying wolf for years, only ideologues are listening to thugs like him now.

      3M’s (McIntyre, McKitrick and Morano) attack on and harassment of Trenberth, are unjustified and no more than a lame attempt at revenge for Wegman. Stephen and Morano can now etch Trenberth onto the long list of climate scientists on their headboards…..

      I will be all too happy to see any one of the 3Ms in court one day for libel, or for anyone one of them in court to face a suite for harassment.

    • Maple, I’m going to disagree. I don’t want any of them in court for libel, it will just make them into martyrs even more. It’s better to just show them wrong, time and time and time again (forget Morano, though, he really does not care being shown wrong, nor do his followers understand it when you show the facts. “Facts” are opinions to his followers, when they don’t fit the preconceived outcome, and vice versa, opinions are facts when they DO fit).

    • Marco, you may be right. But showing them to be wrong and wrong again on internet blogs is just not going to cut it, unless the major media gets hold of it and sticks with it.

      And they quite honestly do not care one iota about being wrong, unless there are consequences, as will hopefully be the case for Wegman. Maybe if GMU actually does its job and disciplines Wegman, some of those “skeptics” affiliated with universities might smarten up. But people like Morano, McIntyre, Motl, Watts and Monckton are not affiliated with a particular group are accountable to the law. If they break the law then it is time to make sure the law is upheld.

      Trenberth, Mann and others would be perfectly within their legal rights (and their rights do count for something here) to report certain individuals for harassment and/or libel. That kind of behavior is actionable under the law.

      The thugs can pretend to be martyrs, but I think that upholding the law and that there are consequences for despicable behavior is more important. This is not about shutting people up, it is to discourage them from engaging in despicable, unacceptable and potentially dangerous behavior. Until someone does something they will attack, defame and harass each and every high profile scientists who dares to speak out and speak the truth.

      Weaver has taken the National Post to task for libel and he has an excellent case. That has sent a very strong message to Corcoran et al. and IMO, since the case was filed the NP have been behaving better.

      Personally, I think we should care more about doing what is right by Mann et al. and the law, than worrying how the thugs might spin it. In fact, they are probably banking on us being paralyzed by having doubts . Let us not give them the satisfaction.

  58. Climate scientists should publish all the abusive emails they receive, including names and email addresses, fake or otherwise.

  59. Such anger! Such angst! LOL.

  60. Gavin's Pussycat

    Nervous giggle (Smith, 2011).

    Having a bottle cold for Wegman going down, LOL

  61. [DC: Deleted: Repitition. Continued troll behaviour. Etc. Thanks! ]

  62. Gavin's Pussycat

    Any progress on the GMU front? It has been a while…

  63. Nothing public.

  64. John,
    Does that mean that things are still happening behind the scenes, or are you not allowed to comment period?

  65. Some of you have probably heard about this, but a German minister is in trouble:

    Rising German minister hit by plagiarism scandal

  66. The BBC has a few stories on “Baron Cut-and-Paste” as well:

  67. Kevin Rutherford

    I see german academic institutions work faster than some of their American cousins:


  68. The links above about Guttenberg are rather lenient on him. 20% of the text has been identified as plagiarism already, two thirds of which are either lifted verbatim or with minimal editing from other works. The introduction starts out with some paragraphs lifted verbatim from a newspaper op-ed. You’ll also find parts lifted from student reports, newspaper articles. Many of these sources have been identified by a crowd effort, which started shortly after the first allegations hit the media.

    Here’s some coverage from the Spiegel (in English)
    and a link to the crowd effort (German only)