Saturday, October 09, 2010

Auditing Assessing Climate Change

UPDATE: See the chicken or the Wegman Report for a possible answer to the many questions raised here

Capital Climate reports that Donald Rapp has emerged in USA Today to post a comment which fills in some holes and opens others. Dr. Rapp provides a letter that he wrote to Ray Bradley and a Mr. Fedor, who most likely is associated with Elsevier. Elsevier owns Academic Press, the publisher of Bradley's Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary.

Dear Mr. Fedor and Dr. Ray Bradley:

You recently wrote to Praxis/Springer Publishing, the following message:

"Thanks to everyone for your prompt reply. I've copied author Ray Bradley and a couple of representatives from our Legal team on my reply. This is a bit of a complicated scenario. Dr. Edward Wegman (author of the Wegman Report) originally plagiarized from Bradley, and from what we can tell, some of that same content was then used by Rapp without attribution. The details can be found in the links below. Once you've had the opportunity to investigate this further, please let me know how best to proceed. We've yet to hear back from George Mason on the Wegman situation. I've had the misfortune of having to manage plagiarism throughout my career, but this is the first triangular instance. If Rapp did plagiarize, he did it from a report that isn't ours, but some of the content in that report is ours. Bit of a head scratcher."
Elsevier is concerned that it's copyright has been breached. They leave no doubt about their certainty that the Wegman report contains plagiarized material, but are not sure about Dr. Rapps's book, which they believe has substantial material from the Wegman Report including some of the plagiarized material. They are not certain of how to proceed. Since Dr. Rapp's book, Assessing Climate Change, was published with Springer, Elsevier's beef, if they decide there is any there, is with Springer.

Dr. Rapp continues
My book: Assessing Climate Change" published by Praxis/Springer contains 1,348 specific citations to references giving credit to authors for their work. It also includes 411 specific quotations by authors with their own words included in quote signs. In addition, my book provides the specific attributions to Dr. Wegman:
Note the claims here. 1348 citation and 411 specific quotes. As we shall see, this may have nothing to do with the case. The issue is whether sections have been taken directly from the Wegman report, if so whether they are are a) cited or b)shown as quotes and whether any sections, if any, taken from the Wegman report are among those which the Wegman Report took from Prof. Bradley's book. Bunnies who wish to follow along can read the text on Google Books, but before we get to that let us look at the rest of Dr. Rapp's comment.
  • "A team led by Professor Edward J. Wegman performed an independent examination of the hockey stick controversy (Wegman, Scott, and Said, 2006). They produced a lengthy report, full of details. According to Wegman, Scott, and Said (2006):"
  • "Wegman, Scott, and Said (2006) performed a calculation..."
  • "Wegman, Scott, and Said (2006) went on to say...:"
  • "Wegman, Scott, and Said (2006) performed a calculation..."
  • "The findings of Wegman, Scott, and Said (2006) are quite lengthy and only a very brief summary is given here."
  • "Adapted from Wegman, Scott, and Said (2006)."
  • "Wegman, Scott, and Said (2006) have suggested that the field..."
  • "Wegman, Scott, and Said (2006) also said...:"
  • "According to Wegman, Scott, and Said (2006)...:"
  • "A team led by Professor Edward J. Wegman performed an independent examination of the hockey stick controversy (Wegman, Scott, and Said, 2006). They produced a lengthy report, full of details. According to Wegman, Scott, and Said (2006):"
  • "Wegman, Scott, and Said (2006) have suggested that the field, temperature history of the Earth, is dominated by a cadre (cabal) that is vitally concerned about the potential impacts of global warming, and supports the hockey stick result, as well as the procedure used to derive it. Wegman, Scott, and Said (2006) said:"
It is possible that in a few places, I may have slipped up and used words from a paper and forgot to give attribution. Let's suppose I did this 10 times, or 20; big deal.
Well, as was said above, none of this really meets the issue of whether sections of Dr. Rapp's book were taken from the Wegman Report without attribution or quoting and whether any of those sections were the ones which came from Prof. Bradley's book, but as we are quite used to now, Dr. Rapp closes with the sue John Abraham ploy
I am warning you now that if you persist in spreading the idea that I committed plagiarism, I will sue you for all you are worth. If I ever find out who the jerk is who put this on, I will sue him for all it is worth.

I also plan to contact Wegman in case he feels that he should sue Ray Bradley who is clearly at fault here.
Given what we know about the George Mason University inquiry and investigation some, not Eli to be sure, might find the ultimate statement in Dr. Rapp's comment not as reassuring as Dr. Rapp does.
By the way, this is what Wegman had to say in a recent email: “It is my opinion that Dr. Rapp has not plagiarized anything and I hold him harmless” and claims that these are “wild conclusions that have nothing to do with reality”.

Donald Rapp
Eli thought that it would be useful to compare what Dr. Rapp had written and the Wegman Report. Deep Climate had shown the similarities of a paragraph dealing with tree rings between the Wegman Report and Dr. Rapp's book, but Eli will cover the entire section. This will establish whether or not there is a substantial overlap between the two, and whether, where there is a substantial overlap, there has been a proper acknowledgement.

The rules of the game are that direct quotes must be acknowledged as such and paraphrases acknowledged by citations. Eli will provide the text from the Wegman report in black and additions, deletions from Dr. Rapp's book in red. Some, not Eli, may conclude that Dr. Rapp has simply copied most this section from the Wegman Report, with very minor grammatical changes and a very occasional substitution of a minor word. But wait, there are a couple of sentences that are not in the Wegman Report and a long quote from Dr. Soon and Dr. Baliunas added toward the end.

Still, there is no reference to the Wegman Report in this section of Dr. Rapp's book. Perhaps it was simply one of those ten or twenty careless errors. But remember the rules, direct quotes must be indicated as such. In something of this sort it is very important to provide a complete record which Eli will endeavor to do so as to be as fair as possible to Dr. Rapp. On page 2 of Dr. Rapp's book and page 13 of the Wegman Report, we read
Tree Rings – A cross section of a temperate forest tree shows variation of lighter and darker bands that are usually continuous around the circumference of the tree. These bands are the so-called tree rings and are due to seasonal effects. Each tree ring is composed of large thin-walled cells called early wood and smaller more densely packed thick walled cells called late wood. 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. Obviously there are many confounding factors, so the problem challenge is to extract the temperature signal and to thus distinguish the temperature signal from the noise caused by the many confounding factors. Temperature information is usually derived from inter-annual variations in the ring width as well as inter-annual and intra-annual density variations. Density variations are valuable in paleoclimatic temperature reconstructions because they have a relatively simple growth function that, in mature trees, is approximately linear with age. The density variations have been shown empirically to contain a strong climatic temperature signal. Two values of density are measured within each growth ring: minimum density representing early wood and maximum density representing late wood. Maximum density values are strongly correlated with April to August mean temperatures in trees across the boreal forest from Alaska to Labrador, Schweingruber et al., (1993). Both tree ring width and density data are used in combination to extract the maximal climatic temperature signal.

The Cclimate signal is strongest in trees that are under stress. Trees growing in sites where the climate does not limit growth tend to produce rings that are uniform. Trees that are growing close to their extreme ecological range are greatly influenced by climate. Climate variations that strongly influence annual growth increments. Two types of stress are commonly recognized:, moisture stress and temperature stress. Trees growing in semiarid regions are limited by water availability, and thus variations in ring width reflect this climatic moisture signal. Trees growing near to their ecological limits either in terms of latitude or altitude show growth limitations imposed by temperature and thus ring width variations in such trees contain a relatively strong temperature signal. However, the biological processes are extremely complex so that very different combinations of climatic conditions may cause similar ring width increments. Tree growth and carbohydrate production by a tree in one year will precondition the tree for strong growth in the subsequent year so that there is a strong autocorrelation in the ring width time series. Photosynthetic processes are accelerated with the increased availability of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and, hence, it is conjectured that ring growth would also be correlated with atmospheric carbon dioxide. Robinson, Robinson and Soon (2007) and Idso and Idso (2007) provide data and references that indicate that plant growth is stimulated by increased CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, particularly at warmer temperatures. There is some evidence that long lived, 1000 to 2000-year old pine trees have shown a sharp increase in growth during the past half century. Other examples are provided by Robinson, Robinson and Soon (2007). In addition, oxides of nitrogen are formed in internal combustion engines that can be deposited as nitrates that also contributeing to fertilization of plant materials. It is clear that while there are temperature signals in the tree rings, the temperature signals are confounded with many other factors including fertilization effects due to use of fossil fuels in the 20th century.

Wider rings are frequently produced during the early life of a tree. Thus, the tree rings frequently contain a low frequency signal that is unrelated to climate or, at least, confounded with climatic effects such as temperature. In order to use tree rings as a successful temperature signal successfully, this low frequency component must be removed. This is typically done by a nonlinear parametric trend fit using a polynomial or modified exponential curve. Because the early history of tree rings confounds the climatic signal with low-frequency- specimen- specific signals, tree rings are not usually effective for accurately determining low-frequency, longer-term effects. Once there is reasonable confidence that the tree ring signal reflects a temperature signal, and then a calibration is performed using the derived tree ring data and instrumented temperature data over the (comparatively recent) period during which actual climatic temperature measurements were made. The assumption in this inference is that when tree ring structure observed during the recent instrumented period that is similar to tree ring structure observed in the past, both will have correspondingly similar temperature profiles (Beckman and Mahoney, 1998). However As pointed out earlier, many different sets of climatic conditions can (and do) yield similar tree ring profiles. Thus tree ring proxy data alone is not are unlikely to be sufficient to determine past climate variables. See Bradley (1999) for a discussion of the fitting and calibration process for dendritic-based temperature reconstruction. (Mann, Bradley and Hughes, 1998).

As Soon and Baliunas (2003a, b) pointed out:

Long quote from S&B placed here

Despite these repeated warnings and cautions by a number of scientists, paleoclimatologists have used tree rings widely and repeatedly to infer past temperature variations, although the variations from investigator to investigator are large (Esper, et al., 2005 a)

Anon. (N) provides further details on the use of tree ring proxies.
Eli reports, you decide. The Bunny invites others to continue this audit.


rab said...

The very least that can be said is that Wegman and Rapp both have unusually low standards of scholarship. I don't know of any scientist who would feel comfortable echoing even a single sentence without attribution. 1345 is a large number, but entirely irrelevant; the tolerance should be zero. Further, Rapp seems to confuse plagiarism with copyright infringement. He seems to think that plagiarizing from a willing donor is perfectly alright.

Anonymous said...

Are legal eagles needed to guide these comments? Based on watching many courtroom dramas, I'd say that 10 or 20 non-attributions might be dismissed by some as just plagiarism among friends - but non-attribution is still called 'plagiarism'.

Everyday derision seems appropriate, for the declaration that the plagiarized textbook author, "is clearly at fault here."

The stone

Anonymous said...

Dr. Rapp's nerves seem to lie bare. Looks like his comment did not appear immediately (moderation queue?), so he shot off another comment two minutes later:

You dirty coward. Why don't you print my comment?

Horatio Algeranon said...

"Dr. Edward Wegman (author of the Wegman Report) originally plagiarized from Bradley, and from what we can tell, some of that same content was then used by Rapp without attribution...Bit of a head scratcher"

A double plagiarism that has even the umpires scratching their heads.

Very impressive.

This might turn out to be a good World Series after all.

n-g said...

Rapp appears have plagiarized, but he also everyone a service by improving the grammar. ;>)

n-g said...

Which I will do now. "also did everyone"
Word verification: penaus...a genus of shrimp.

bigcitylib said...

Since Rapp's first legal threats against DC were from months ago, wouldn't he have to have acted on them already if he was going to?

Boris said...

Basically Rapp says: "I committed plagiarism 10 or 20 times. Big Deal. But I'll sue you if you tell anyone I committed plagiarism!"

The guy is clueless.

David B. Benson said...

Do more than rapp his knuckles.

Andy S said...

Wabett rote: "Dr. Rapp provides a letter that he wrote to Ray Bradley and a Mr. Fedor, who most likely is associated with Elsevier. Elsevier owns Academic Press, the publisher of Bradley's Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary."

According to this, one John Fedor is "Publisher, Earth & Environmental Science at Elsevier, Albany, New York Area"

Anonymous said...

I am currently writing my first draft of my PhD thesis and I am finding this discourse on Wegman very enlightening.

My own writing efforts can now be described as, if you will allow me to paraphrase a certain UK PM

"never in the field of academic endeavour has so much citation been owed to so little actual content"

Cheers Doug

Anonymous said...

Doug said: "never in the field of academic endeavour has so much citation been owed to so little actual content"

If that were so, why copy it in the first place? One of many reasons plagiarism is wrong is that it imputes the expertise behind the written phrase to somebody else who probably does not have that expertise.

Cheers, Someone Who Actually Wrote a Dissertation Mouse.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Rapp's legal eagles are Huffe, Puffe, Delay and Dissapear. Don't they represent Monkton?

John McManus

CapitalClimate said...

"Don't they represent Monkton?"
No, that's Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe.

Steve Bloom said...

Eli, it looks as if "to be" near the end of that last long paragraph should also be in red.

Anonymous said...

I did do a complete comparison of Rapp and Wegman.


The actual comparison with additions and deletions is here:

I also looked at Rapp's use of a long block quote from Soon and Baliunas, also based on the Bradley passages that Wegman et al used (!). That quote was properly cited, but as in the Wegman case, all citations to Bradley were carefully removed. Smoking gun, no?

So we have the extraordinary situation where Rapp has made extensive use of two “grey” sources that both rely primarily upon the same root source, even resulting in repetition of the same information. And yet somehow all references to that source has been excised; in fact, Bradley’s Paleoclimatology text book is not listed at all among Rapp’s references.

I also pointed out other problems in Rapp's section 1.2, which was largely based on based on a web page entitled “A quick background to the last ice age” from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. There are no doubt other problems lurking and waiting to be discovered.

Anonymous said...

John Mashey seems to have some difficulty understanding in what constitutes plagiarism. In common parlance plagiarism involves using other’s work as if it is one’s own, and a necessary condition for this to be true is that the plagiariser does not acknowledge the source of materials he uses under his/her own name.

Mashey has published a 250-page attack on the Wegman Report (W, 2006) that critiqued the “hockey-stick” graph claiming the Medieval Warm Period (c1000-1300) was no warmer than the Little Ice Age (c.1400-1720) and was featured on the cover of the IPCC’s TAR (2001).
A certain Bradley, one of the co-authors of the first hockey stick paper (Mann Bradley Hughes 1998), has joined Mashey in accusing WR of “plagiarism”.

But in W p.10 we read: “Table 1 based on Bradley (1999) illustrates the wide variety of these natural phenomena that may be used as proxies. Some proxies measure very low frequency (slowly varying) climatic variables and thus are not useful for measuring average annual temperature changes. Table 2 found in Bradley (1999), which was reproduced from Bradley and Eddy (1991)…”.

Then in Mashey (Section 2.6) we read “W.2.1 introduces serious Biases in plagiarizing Bradley (1999) on tree rings” . However in W.2.1 we find on p.11 “Table 1: Principal Sources of Proxy Data for Paleoclimatic Reconstructions After Bradley (1999)”.

In W p.12 Table 2 we find “After Bradley and Eddy (1991)”.

W pp.13-14 has a discussion of use of tree ring proxies to determine historical temperature trends which Deep Climate (aka Mashey?) shows to be quite close but not identical to material in Bradley 1999, but in W. p.14 at the end of the para. in question we find W saying “See Bradley (1999) for a discussion of the fitting and calibration process for dendritic-based temperature reconstruction...”

In Mashey p.34 we find him still claiming Bradley was plagiarised in W Section 2.1: “Bradley (1999), plagiarismW.2.1” despite no fewer than SIX citations of Bradley by W. in section 2.1.

The last 50 pages of Mashey still claim plagiarisms by W. in its summaries of the key hockey stick papers including those with Bradley as co-author. Each page of the W summaries cites the paper being summarised. If that is plagiarism, what would not be?

Anonymous said...

It seems that a group of smart folks have not been sitting around totally idol. They have been working the country for Green... How about, U2?

"The aides identified by the Journal say they didn't profit by making trades based on any information gathered in the halls of Congress. Even if they had done so, it would be legal, because insider-trading laws don't apply to Congress.

A few lawmakers proposed a bill that would prevent members and employees of Congress from trading securities based on nonpublic information they obtain. The legislation has languished since 2006."

Is it time for action yet, are we reaching THE tipping point? You are worried about an invisible gas that is a building block of life on this world. Please tell us Eli, which is the more pressing threat? The trace gas that surrounds us or the greed and pride we harbor within ourselves? This would be a ethics problem for a scientist, feel free & spend some serious time, on your answer.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous Cheers, traces matter or try cyanide for a drink. Even in the ozone layer the concentration of ozone is at most 1/500 of CO2 in the troposphere and this is in much thinner air. But life on the planet is not possible without that wee bit of ozone.

Ozone, by the way, is an extremely potent poison, at least as harmful as cynanide.

RR Kampen, NL.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"John Mashey seems to have some difficulty understanding in what constitutes plagiarism. In common parlance plagiarism involves using other’s work as if it is one’s own, and a necessary condition for this to be true is that the plagiariser does not acknowledge the source of materials he uses under his/her own name."

Anonymous needs to look at some actual guidelines for plagiarism, not what he would like for the to be. says:

"As a College student you are expected to have your own ideas. To read information and explain it in your words. If you complete an assignment by copying material, you are not showing that you understand something. Only that you can repeat what the textbook says. This does not show that you understand."

See what I did Anonymous? I used quote marks. In a previous response I said the same thing in my own words.

If you read the Wegman report, since it is not explained in their own words, how can you tell how much they really understand? Answer: you can't. This is crucially important, for this report was being touted as an statistical expert's "review".

Someone Who Actually Grades Lab Reports and Checks for Plagiarism Mouse

Anonymous said...

RR Kampen, NL

Please don't try drinking fifty liters of water in one hour either, that too will kill you. What is your point; that we are unable to read the warning label? We need the little pictures because everyone is just too stupid? When was the last time you drank a bottle of Iodine? A bottle of Ozone? Sighosnide?

You don't seem to comprehend, that a bigger threat faces us all. Right now. You don't see that the people of the world are going to address the issue of freedom, before we ever get around to COO. According to your science, we have at least until 2035:) Like they were saying on the TV "Remember November". What do you think that was all about. You are smart, and you still don't get it. We do.

What, you worry?...


Anonymous said...

This is OT for me but I have to say: About all this plagiarizin going on... When I first entered MSU as a freshman I took an Econ 101 class, which was taught by a highly regarded Prof. In his very first class, he told us that he had just received a grant from the Govt. to do a 'study' and that the very next step in his process, was to plagiarize large sections of the report. He was joking about the system... That was in 1970, my first class with this guy... you fill us in--- tell the truth now--- how common is it in academia; to borrow or whatever the word or words that you use to explain the situation? Not just when you have a bone to pick, 'how common', is plagiarizing to your knowledge, no names required:) You all seem to have been in the system for years. You know the answer... Omerta.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Cheers, 'we do'?

I (not 'we') responded to your phrase 'trace gas', because I was under the impression that you used a well-known denialist's quasi-argument as to the reality of AGW, this being the main subject matter of this blog.

I agree with you on the matter of 'greed and pride'. I also agree with you on the people of this world adressing the dangers of freedom erosion, although perhaps the people are a little too free as they invade the sciences like the Inquisition used to do - but I submit it is that 'we' who might be responsible for the erosion. Freedom starts, ends and runs with 'I'. And 'you', of course.

RR Kampen, NL.

Former Skeptic said...

@ 70's MSU frosh:

Maybe...justttttttttt maybe....and this is assuming you are telling the truth (as you don't want to give names)...your econs prof is a single black sheep? Maybe - and tell the truth now - if you'd smoked less hash and watched fewer Mafia flicks you'd know that not all of academia = one single - maybe fictitious - cherry picked anecdote? And maybe - you fill us in now - you haven't seen current university guidelines on plagiarism and how Wegman's report is a clear cut, indefensible example of that?

Anonymous said...

Former Skeptic, Why would anyone lie about a truth. He is human, just like you & I... it was his pride, speaking for him. Don't think so much... Listen more.

Anonymous said...

RR Kampen, NL., In the real world, a rational man needs to set priorities for himself. We have all three legs of the well known Chinese curse bearing their fruit today. CO2 is not the real threat; it is the system & others, who have been revealed to have a world-wide agenda. They want a New World Order. This is the pressing, tipping point. My guess is our lives will be dramatically different in just months not years. As they print money, our stored labor becomes worthless... This too is a pressing issue. I did not choose them. We are here... I do not know the outcome. Anyone....?


cRR Kampen said...

A. Cheers, I do not believe in that NWO. Even Europe is not getting ordered, let alone Africa, South-America, Asia; whereas there is no order to be seen across the world as a whole. In reality rather Cold War II has emerged, US - China.

As a parting remark to this discussion, which I think is inapproriate here, let me put this statement: the sun goes down in the west. But the twilight will still take a length of time. Neither do I know what will be next.

Ted Kirkpatrick said...

Eli, for the sake of people dropping in to the discussion, I suggest adding a disclaimer above the Wegman excerpt, noting that the quotations you give do not represent the scientific consensus, either at the time the Wegman Report was written or now. Casual readers might assume that you were endorsing Wegman et al.'s summary rather than just quoting them for comparison with Rapp. As DC has noted, the notion that tree ring width varies with "carbon dioxide in the atmosphere" was novel to the Wegman Report and not present in Bradley. No point in inadvertently sponsoring another zombie meme.

@n-g: "[Rapp] did everyone a service by improving the grammar"---bear in mind that technical book publishers have copy editors who smooth out the grammar of submitted manuscripts. The final wording is always at least a bit different from what the author originally submitted.

Anonymous said...

Donald Rapp wrote:
....It may seem strange and impossible to you but I can assimilate a new field in a couple of years, read hundreds of papers and dozens of books, and pull together a synoptic view of the whole field – something that no climate specialist has yet done to any degree of success....

Such irony, coming from someone who cited Gerlich and Tscheuschner as peer-reviewed when it wasn't.

Total cRapp

David B. Benson said...

In the days there were rather fewer of us, we all knew what honest writing was and so what plagarism was. With more of us, with ever higher expectations for reseach writings and with some rather stinky apples being exposed, institutions have had to go to the trouble of providing formal guidelines regarding plagarism and other forms of (dishonest) misconduct.

[word verification: "deader"]

Former Skeptic said...

@ 70's MSU frosh: about answering my questions? Have you tried listening...and the same time? :-)

Anonymous said...

You are a moron

EliRabett said...

No, Eli is a Rabett

Carmen S said...

The outcome from all of this will be that Bradley looks as big a toss as Mann, with the Hockey stick taking yet another public beating.

I thought Scientists were supposed to be bright.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Ya know, Carmen S., sweetie, There are a couple of dozen independent reconstructions, many using different proxies, and they all show pretty much the same trends. In fact, as Hank Robert's has pointed out, the main criticism one could raise against the original hockey stick is that maybe it looked more like a scythe. Is that really the message you want out there?

cRR Kampen said...

A scythe. Well, then maybe we can fit in the 19sixties and -seventies into the short sideways bend between the stick and the sharp :) A model succes at last!