Monday, November 22, 2010

USAToday continues on Wegman/Bradley matter

In a piece titled Experts claim 2006 climate report plagiarized, Don Vergano at USAToday suggests that text in a report by Edward Wegman of George Mason University contains copied material:

Review of the 91-page report by three experts contacted by USA TODAY found repeated instances of passages lifted word for word and what appear to be thinly disguised paraphrases.

This allegation had previously been reported in USAToday: Surreal moment: criticizing the work while copying it?

The recent USAToday piece also included the text:

The report was requested in 2005 by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, then the head of the House energy committee. Barton cited the report in an October letter to The Washington Post when he wrote that Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann's work was "rooted in fundamental errors of methodology that had been cemented in place as 'consensus' by a closed network of friends."

The Wegman report criticized 1998 and 1999 reports led by Mann (Bradley was a co-author) that calculated global temperatures over the last dozen centuries. It also contained an analysis of Mann's co-authors that appears partly cribbed from Wikipedia, Garner says.

Lisa Miller, a spokeswoman for Barton, reiterated the congressman's support of the Wegman report on Monday, saying it "found significant statistical issues" with climate studies.

A 2006 report by the National Research Council (NRC), which examines scientific disputes under a congressional charter, largely validated Mann, Bradley and the other climate scientists, according to Texas A&M's Gerald North, the panel's head. The NRC report found the Wegman report's criticism of the type of statistics used in 1998 and 1999 papers reasonable but beside the point, as many subsequent studies had reproduced their finding that the 20th century was likely the warmest one in centuries.

The USAToday piece did not mention previous interplay between Rob Bradley and North:

Bradley apparently wrote a letter to North including the text:

I see that you are going to be part of a panel at the Friday AAAS meeting on Climategate. Some of us fear too much downplaying. You were a consultant for me at Enron for several years on climate science and watched the fall of the company with great interest. So I would like to challenge you to interpret Climategate in terms of the fall of Enron.

Here are some themes from Enron to consider applying.
1) Slippery slopes where small deviations from best practices escalated into problems that were not anticipated at the beginning of the process.
2) A lack of midcourse correction when developing problems were not properly addressed.
3) Old fashioned deceit when the core mission/vision was threatened (for Enron it was ‘to become the world’s leading company’–for Jones et al., it was there is a big warming and a climate problem developing)
4) The (despised) short sellers busted the Enron mirage. Ken Lay at the last employee meeting even likened the short sellers to ‘terrorists” (this was just a few months after 9/11). Question: does mainstream climate science regard Internet ‘peer review’ of Jones et al. like the Enron faithful regarded the short sellers who first discovered the problems of Enron?
5) Enron suffered from the “smartest guys in the room” problem. Does Climategate reveal arrogance and a lack of humility among “mainstream” climate scientists?
6) Denial: we employees were almost all in denial when the problems at Enron first surfaced. Have you and others who are close to the scientists of Climategate been slow to recognize the problem? Has Nature and Science also been slow? If so, What does this say about human nature.
7) Taking responsibility. Skilling and Lay never did and, in fact, they joined together in a legal cartel where the unstated strategy was to not blame each other for anything and sink or swim together. Has this happened, or is it still happening, with Climategate if you believe that scientific protocol and/or legal rules were violated?

In passing, North was one of two expert witnesses in the Penn State investigation of Mann.



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