Nielsen-Gammon interviews North and others on Wegman – plagiarism may be related to a cultural misunderstanding by foreign exchange student

Nielsen-Gammon interviews North and others on Wegman – plagiarism may be related to a cultural misunderstanding by foreign exchange student (May 19, 2011). Anthony Watts decides it still might be worth trying to claim that the plagiarism scandal embroiling Dr. Wegman and his co-authors are all just a misunderstanding. After all, his associate Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon is trying to talk himself into believing it.

Says Anthony, sagely;

I’m surprised too, at the reaction of North and others. They may have a point.

Here’s the problem, Anthony: The clear plagiarism shows that the authors were operating outside of their expertise. This undermines everything they wrote. They couldn’t even correctly summarize the relevant bodies of knowledge in their paper! Their statistical criticisms were fundamentally irrelevant to the result they were trying to undermine (Dr. Mann’s 1998 historical temperature reconstructions often called “the Hockey Stick“) and their loopy cronyism accusations were unsupported.

Perhaps this has an uncomfortable echo for you, Anthony.

Wegman responds to USA Today

Wegman responds to USA Today“. Another hollow denialist trophy – the politically driven, unqualified, lazy, plagiarized, misrepresentative, incompetent, padded, 2006 Wegman Report crumbles but Anthony Watts clings to it tighter than ever.

Recent, and damning, attention to it on the Deep Climate website and by John Mashey has dragged a defense from Dr. Wegman, four years after he promised to show how he “confirmed” the errors in Dr. Mann’s famous 1999 paper Northern hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: Inferences, uncertainties, and limitations (PDF here). That defense? Apparently it’s all just “conspiracy theory”. And he had to “work faster than [he] might like”. And he “never intended… …to take intellectual credit.” Yeah, that’ll stick. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, Anthony.

So how did Dr. Edward Wegman get himself into so much trouble? In 2006 he produced a report for Congress at the request of Republican Congressman Joe Barton that supported Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntyre’s criticism of Dr. Mann’s global temperature reconstruction “Hockey Stick”. If Dr. Wegman used the same carefully selected starting points as McKitrick and McIntyre and the same un-released but evidently biased code he could, surprise, produce precisely the same “damning” trends they did. He also announced that there was evidence of cozy scientific relationships among “mainstream” climate scientists. This “social network analysis” was off-the-cuff conjecture ginned up to support resentful denialist claims of conspiracies. Attention-getting claims though, if he could make it stick.

Dr. Wegman’s report was widely criticized by knowledgeable people at the time and largely contradicted by a concurrent impartial analysis produced by the National Research Council. It nevertheless became a favorite denialist talking point as they could pretend that the report was peer-reviewed, that it ‘must be true because it was congressional testimony’, and the author was a real scientist (albeit a statistician without climatology expertise).

Unfortunately the Wegman Report has been shown to be a massive exercise in plagiarism, performed with such ham-fisted incompetence that it also revealed the author’s ignorance of the subject. It also contained crude attempts to twist the record to support his desired conclusion and frankly demonstrated a deep ethical lapse. Oh, and the “social network analysis”? Well if applied to Wegman, it shows that in direct contradiction to his statements, he was taking orders pretty much directly from Congressman Joe Barton’s staff.

What did Dr. Wegman’s Report say about man-made Climate Change? Nothing. How could it? He knows nothing about the subject and has proven it.

Here’s a comparison of the IPCC’s temperature reconstructions from their 2001 and 2007 Reports. Did the complaints of McKitrick and McIntyre or Wegman make any difference to the scientific reality? Nope. If anything the new reconstructions amplify the trend.

IPCC temperature reconstructions from AR3 and AR4 on the same time scale. AR3's chart is Mann, et. al. 1999, AR4 adds newer reconstructions, based on new data and techniques. Click to see (slightly) larger version.

You’ve hitched your wagon to a bolting nag, Anthony and you’re going to be dragged all over town.