Wegman Paper Retracted for Plagiarism

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The journal Computational Data and Statistics Analysis (CSDA) has withdrawn a paper by George Mason University Professor Edward Wegman and his student Jasmin Said for plagiarism, USA Today has reported.

The newspaper quotes CSDA editor Stanley Azen (who is denying responsibility for what appeared to be a rushed, one-man review of the Wegman/Said paper), saying the journal’s legal team has decided to pull the study because of the evidence of plagiarism from Wikipedia and textbooks.

The Wegman work is part of a flurry of “analysis” (at least one expert derides this particular paper as “an opinion piece”), that Wegman and Said conducted on behalf of U.S. Congressman Joe Barton (R-Texas), who was using the material to attack the climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann.

Barton commissioned an earlier and similarly problematic report for a Congressional hearing in which he argued that Mann’s iconic “hockey stick” climate reconstruction was statistically unsound. Wegman and Said went on to author the CSDA report, using what they called a “network analysis” to argue that Mann and a small group of climate scientists were short-circuiting the publication process by getting friends to peer-review one another’s studies. That puts Editor Azen in an awkward position. A friend of Wegmans, who was himself an editor of CSDA, Azen has no record of anyone other than himself reviewing the Wegman/Said paper, and Azen has no particular expertise in the relatively new field of network analysis.

Although “broken” in the mainstream news by Dan Vergano at USA Today, credit for this story must go to blogger DeepClimate, who was the first to document Wegman and Said’s plagiarism. Several others, notably John Mashey and the Simon Fraser University Professor Ted Kirkpatrick, also launched complaints to CSDA and George Mason University about Wegman’s shoddy work. GMU has yet to respond.

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