New Mashey Report Drills into Academic Misconduct
The 2006 Wegman Report to Congress, already under investigation for extensive plagiarism, also appears to be guilty of falsifications, misrepresentation and frabrications that could give rise to a charge of academic misconduct, according to a new report by computer scientist and entrepreneur John Mashey (attached, below).
Mashey and the Canadian blogger DeepClimate have analysed Wegman extensively in the past, primarily for the plagiarism of which Wegman is so clearly guilty. But Mashey digs deeper in the current report, questioning whether the numerous errors, oversights and misrepresentations in the report can be explained by inadvertence or incompetence, or whether Wegman and his prinicpal co-author Yasmin Said were intentionally distorting the information they were plagiarizing and, in the process, pointedly misrepresenting science.
The Wegman Report was commissioned by Congress as an “investigation” into a controversial “hockey stick” graph that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had used prominently in an effort to illustrate the reality of climate change. Although Edward Wegman’s report was highly critical of that graph, later analysis (mostly by DeepClimate) showed that, in mounting the attack, Wegman had extensively cribbed one of the graphs own authors, Raymond Bradley.
What Mashey now demonstrates is that, in addition to misrepresenting Bradley’s words as his own, Wegman also twisted, misrepresented or completely changed the meaning of some of Bradley’s work, without explanation or reference to any other source that might justify the manipulations.
As Mashey says – showing an extensive analysis of Wegman against the original: “Bradley is methodically weakened, silently contradicted or even directly inverted ….”
These errors could have been attributable to “mere serious incompetence and poor scholarship, including inability to understand a textbook well enough to summarize it correctly,” Mashey says. But he later adds, “I think most of this is purposeful.”
Mashey’s analysis is compelling. He reveals minor, but annoying changes, such as when Bradley is talking about a “strong temperature signal” available from tree rings and Wegman, in the midst of a purloined paragraph, amends Bradley’s text to add the word “relatively” – as in a “relatively strong temperature signal.”
Indeed, having relied overwhelmingly on Bradley’s text to present himself as an expert on the use of tree rings to create a reconstruction of historic temperatures, Wegman then changes a final sentence to arrive at a conclusion exactly opposite to Bradley’s own. Bradley, explaining both the strengths and weaknesses of using tree rings, says this:
“If an equation can be developed that accurately describes instrumentally observed climatic variability in terms of tree growth over the same interval, then paleoclimatic reconstructions can be made using only the tree-ring data.”
Wegman, who had added confusing or “confounding” references in the midst of several earlier paragraphs, removes Bradley’s positive conclusion and adds instead this flatfooted statement, instead:
“Thus tree ring proxy data alone is not sufficient to determine past climate variables.”
Finally, Mashey demonstrates that Wegman was also guilty of that most obvious of undergraduate cheats: bibliography padding – the inclusion of numerous irrelevant references to give the impression of careful scholarship.
Mashey writes: “Bibliography-padding can also be a form of fabrication, and 40 of 80 references (in Wegman) are never cited, leading one to wonder if the (Wegman Report) authors had actually ever studied them. Many are clearly irrelevant or found in dubious sources inappropriate for such a report. A tabloid writer’s 1987 ozone article in a fringe technology magazine is listed as an “Academic paper.” It cannot possibly be relevant.”
As usual, Mashey’s own report is painstakingly annotated and he generously credits the previous excellent scholarship by DeepClimate. Wegman, who must surely have been humiliated by having a related paper thrown out of a scholarly journal – also for plagiarism – must surely stand accountable soon, lest the reputation of George Mason University be permanently damaged by its tolerance of this poor and political performance.