Wegman paper retraction by Journal

Wegman paper retraction by Journal” (May 16, 2011). Anthony Watts tries to dismiss the retraction of the denialist’s beloved Wegman Report because of “the caterwaulings of the anonymous Canadian named Deep Climate and his accusations of plagiarism”. Anthony sneers: “congratulations to Deep Climate for being able to attack a man in another country without having having [sic] to put your name behind it. Such courage. You must be proud.”

I always get a chuckle when Anthony’s howls for blood flip to whimpers of pain. It’s purest irony when a victim-bully accuses someone of cowardice.

Unfortunately, Deep Climate’s accusations were true. Wegman’s Report to Congress in 2006 was a sloppy piece of work produced to meet the political needs of the denialist Republican Congressman Joe Barton. Although widely rebutted, denialists held the Report up as evidence of both faulty statistical underpinnings for Dr. Mann’s so-called global temperature “hockey-stick” and of corruption in the scientific publication process. That Report[‘s” social network” accusations were] hastily reworked as Said, Wegman, et. al. (2008) in the un-related journal Computational Statistics and Data Analysis which has now, to their undoubted reluctant embarrassment, retracted it.

This is not a little technical “oops”, this is academic incompetence and ethical failure. Still, it’s an easy “spoonful of sugar” fix according to Anthony:

So, no problem from my view. I expect the report will be rewritten, with citations where needed, maybe even adding extra dictionary definitions of words and their origins to satisfy the imagined slights against our lexiconic ancestors envisioned by DC and Mashey man,  and they’ll resubmit it with the very same conclusions. That’s what I would do.

It sucks when something that denialists like yourself have been falsely clinging to for years is pulled down by a couple of intelligent observers, doesn’t it Anthony?

Extra irony: The Said, Wegman, et. al. (2008) paper was personally reviewed” by CSDA chief editor Stanley Azen. Exactly the kind of cosy ‘social network’ peer-review manipulation they tried to accuse Dr. Mann and his co-authors of.

Update on May 18, 2011: Anthony has elaborated on his “no problem” plagiarism assessment, clarifying that he is in fact opposed to plagiarism. Also, Anthony has been the victim of it so he knows what he’s talking about. Anthony’s referring to the fact that someone (Dr. Menne) discourteously took his loud allegations of poor surface station data quality and proved him wrong using his own claims (this is now confirmed by Anthony’s own lame-duck paper). And then Menne failed to attribute a photo of a weather station to Anthony’s website!!!!!!!! Horrors. But that’s “attribution” not “plagiarism”.

10 thoughts on “Wegman paper retraction by Journal

  1. See hoist petard own (no attribution needed I changed the order of the words). I am also a sneaky Canadian hiding behind anonymity: except for my name below.

    [We Canadians should take our example from “auditor” Steven McIntyre who, although admitting his identity, slips and slides in his accusations. – Ben]

  2. Will the credibility of Wegman and students really be enhanced when citations to Wikipedia are added to the end of paragraphs? Contrary to Anthony, academics use citations to acknowledge and point to ideas, not as excuses for verbatim copying.

  3. Not so minor quibble: the CSDA paper that is to be retracted is only a part of the Wegman report, so it is inappropriate to make it sound as if the Wegman report has been retracted. Such broad sweeping (and in essence false) claims we can expect from Anthony Watts, but shouldn’t be here.

    [True. I simplified a bit, although the title is Anthony’s and the USA Today story focuses on the full Wegman Report… In the larger picture the Wegman Report’s statistical criticisms were pretty much debunked shortly after he made his claims and his baseless “social network” accusations were a goofy foray outside his area of expertise. The retraction of this published fragment further contaminates the overall Wegman’s Report, but it’s doubtful that Congressman Barton will complain. – Ben]

  4. In the larger picture the Wegman Report’s statistical criticisms were pretty much debunked shortly after he made his claims

    Inasmuch as the Wegman Report’s statistical criticisms were just a rehash of McIntyre’s, they’d been debunked before Wegman even made them.

    [Exactly. – Ben]

  5. It is just a little technical “oops”!!!
    No problem from my view! All blown way out of scope.
    ~ ~ ~

    Didn’t the Nixon Administration say something along those lines regarding the arrest of those Watergate burglars?

  6. Deep Climate opened the door, but John Mashey wrote the book. In a guest post at Deep Climate, John Mashey on Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report, he provides links to access the Executive Summary. And the 25 page main discussion with its 200+ pages of appendices.

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

    UPDATE……………………. Anthony states that he really is opposed to plagiarism… “My issue is how this whole affair was conducted.” And, “It’s ugly the way it was handled:”
    For which he blames Deep Climate and John Mashey.

    Even though the ball has been in Wegman’s court since December, 2009 when Deep Climate first began posting examples of plagiarism. But Wegman did nothing and the analysis continued.

    Anthony suggests that there is a simple correction – of mere added attribution. The details suggest otherwise. For example, it may be hard to provide a scholarly explanation for copying someone’s text, and then changing the conclusion.

    [No question John Mashey made a massive contribution to the exposure. Perhaps Anthony wanted to keep the facts out of the discussion and instead falsely wail about ‘tone’. – Ben]

    • “Even though the ball has been in Wegman’s court since December, 2009 when Deep Climate first began posting examples of plagiarism. But Wegman did nothing and the analysis continued.”

      Actually, the ball has been in Wegman’s court since his false testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearings headed by Republican Congressman Joe Barton in 2006 (the following is Wegman’s testimony, as quoted in John Mashey’s investigative report, “Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report” [2010]):

      “Subsequently, we have been preparing papers that will be peer reviewed for the Applications Section of the Journal of the American Statistical Association19, another for the journal called Statistical Science6 published by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and finally for a more popular outlet called Chance. In addition, we are preparing a paper motivated by our social network studies on the styles of co-authorship.‖
      ― 6 The Statistical Science article will have even more rigorous scrutiny than a normal peer review. It will be a discussion paper meaning that discussants will have an opportunity to comment in writing for the audience to see.‖”

      John Mashey (2010) writes:

      “That was July 2006. Perusal of Wegman‘s 2010 C.V. [WEG2010] shows the only result: [SAI2008], a paper with quite serious problems [the retracted CSDA article by Said, Wegman, et al.], W.5.6.
      Were the first 3 papers actually ever written and submitted? Richard Smith mentioned Statistical Science issue, but that seems not to have happened, A.3.‖

      As John Mashey and Deep Climate have shown, the problems with Wegman’s report to Congress, his false testimony, and faulty statistical “analysis” go well beyond the lack of appropriate citations. Anthony Watts’ complaints about the “way it was handled” should appropriately be directed to Joe Barton, his staffer, Peter Spencer, and Wegman and his coauthors.

  7. Perhaps Anthony wanted to keep the facts out of the discussion and instead falsely wail about ‘tone’.

    Or maybe it’s more difficult to belittle John, a PhD with a long history at Bell Labs and later at Convergent, MIPS and SGI, and retired from SGI as Chief Scientist.

    It’s a little easier to knock down a “whiny little anonymous furrin’ interloper”.

    [Yes, John is a formidable critic. Anthony knew what he was doing trying to shift the focus away. Deep Climate has chops too though! – Ben]

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