Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Dummy's Guide to Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report

John Mashey has published a very long analysis of Scholarship in the Wegman Report, but some dummies including the editorial writer at the Richmond Times Dispatch need a Dummies Guide. Ms. Rabett and Eli enjoy short attention span sports and this looks to be one of them, with John's two pounder leaving many overloaded. Eli, always eager to please provides some help, but because dummy's are slow, the bunny is splitting this into a bunch of parts.

Even Dummies realize that Mashey is analyzing the scholarship, better put the lack of same in the Wegman Report, and GMU is looking for research misconduct based on multiple complaints, so here Eli will pick out those sections of the Wegman Report which constitute probable (really probable) research misconduct, the sort of thing that gets the NIH Office of Research Integrity on a university's butt.

Deep Climate uncovered strong evidence that two sections of the WR were plagiarized, one involving sections from Ray Bradley's book, Paleoclimatology: Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary (Bradley) section 10.2, and the other from a number of sources on social network analysis. The two links are side by side comparisons of the text in the Wegman Report and the plagiarized sources. The amount of direct copying with minimal if any changes leaves no doubt that this constitutes plagiarism. Even when a citation is provided, word for word copying without indication that is is a direct quote, is plagiarism, and this is also the case if the grammar or spelling is improved a bit, or a word here and there are changed.

Anyone doubting that this was a serious matter should please explain why the publishers of Bradley's books have complained to GMU about the plagiarism. Stay tuned tho, there may be more.

Further, John Mashey (pp 189 in Strange Scholarship) points out that the Wegman Report Appendix purporting to paraphrase important paleoclimate papers also meets the definition of plagiarism, cutting and pasting sections of text from the source without indication. As an alternative the report could have given the full text of the abstracts (saying that this was being done) with a paragraph or more of their own added at the end, but what was done was plagiarism. Nope, pass the library glue.

For anyone still entertaining doubts that this conduct is plagiarism, allow Eli to quote from the NIH Office of Research Integrity Policy on Plagiarism

ORI Policy on Plagiarism

Although there is widespread agreement in the scientific community on including plagiarism as a major element of the PHS definition of scientific misconduct, there is some uncertainty about how the definition of plagiarism itself is applied in ORI cases.

As a general working definition, ORI considers plagiarism to include both the theft or misappropriation of intellectual property and the substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work. It does not include authorship or credit disputes.

The theft or misappropriation of intellectual property includes the unauthorized use of ideas or unique methods obtained by a privileged communication, such as a grant or manuscript review.

Substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work means the unattributed verbatim or nearly verbatim copying of sentences and paragraphs which materially mislead the ordinary reader regarding the contributions of the author. ORI generally does not pursue the limited use of identical or nearly-identical phrases which describe a commonly-used methodology or previous research because ORI does not consider such use as substantially misleading to the reader or of great significance.
The Wegman report should be withdrawn.


Anonymous said...

Posted today at the Richmond Times Despatch. It hasn't appeared yet. Probably delayed by the numerous links. Essentially a quick post culled largely from the intro to JM's magnum opus to get in before the zombie armies have a go.

The Wegman report was not what it was purported to be:

It was promoted to Congress by Representatives Joe Barton [$1,727,07 42% Coal, 58% Oil] and Ed Whitfield [$367,801 58% Coal, 42% Oil] as “independent, impartial, expert” work by a team of “eminent statisticians.” It was none of those.

A Barton staffer provided much of the source material to the Wegman team.

The report itself contains numerous cases of obvious bias, as do process, testimony and follow-on actions.

Of 91 pages, 35 are mostly plagiarized text, but often injected with errors, bias and changes of meaning.

Its Bibliography is mostly padding, 50% of the references uncited in the text. Many references are irrelevant or dubious.

The team relied heavily on a long-obsolete sketch WHICH HAD BEEN CAREFULLY DISTORTED (see: A Dummy's Guide to Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report II ) and very likely on various uncredited sources.

A lot of the commentators here need to read this: 'A Dummy's Guide to Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report' (for URL see below)

References / acknowledgements:

DeepClimate for discovering the evidence that strongly suggests plagiarism-plus. Where the meaning of the original unacknowledged text has been radically altered by what can only apparently be deliberate changes to the text.

Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report : A Façade for the Climate Anti-Science PR Campaign - John R. Mashey

A Dummy's Guide to Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report

A Dummy's Guide to Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report II

Barton's Dirty Energy Money

Whitfield's Dirty Energy Money

Background reading
Plagiarism? Conspiracies? Felonies? Behind the Wegman Report and Decades of Related Anti-Science Attacks John R. Mashey

Koch Industries Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine

COVERT OPERATIONS: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama. by Jane Mayer

The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party

Charles and David Koch's company, Koch Industries, the largest private corporation in America, has also denied direct links to the Tea Party. However, new footage clearly showing David Koch interacting with his tea party foot soldiers has come to light.

Deeper Background Reading
Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco's Tactics to Manufacture Uncertainty on Climate Science

John Mashey said...

Eli: you may be amused to note that some folks here an there have happily selected only the last sentence from the ORI section you quoted, to prove that ORI would not care.

Once again, Lewis Carroll to the rescue:

"Beware the JabberwORI, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!"

David B. Benson said...

Just for the record, here is a quite decent paper on an aspect on climatology from authors @ GMU:

John Mashey said...

David: yes, and anyone involved with WR bothered to ask some of them, and listened, they might have produced a different report.
It is my belief that some entities at GMU are normal academic departments, some reasonably good [according to people I know who know people in several.] I have actually sent heads-ups to several people there.

Other entities appear to act more like arms of the Koch brothers.

It is unclear the extent to which the former act as facades for the latter, in fact with many people not even realizing that.

This tactic is fairly common, such as in the Environmental Literacy Council, which mostly seemed reasonable, EXCEPT regarding climate. See CCC, section on ELC.

This of course is quite similar to the WR itself, ots of reasonable citations as a facade for the 2 key messages.