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Thu, 2012-03-15 21:55John Mashey
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See No Evil At George Mason University

Image credit: Joy Brown / Shutterstock

George Mason University (GMU) has labored for 2 years on simple plagiarism complaints.  It has just written self-contradictory findings that avoided seeing plagiarism in the 2006 Wegman Report (WR) while admitting the same text elsewhere was plagiarism.

In March 2010, climate scientist Ray Bradley complained to GMU of 2.5 pages of plagiarism of his paleoclimatology book by the Wegman Report.  In May he added 5.5 pages of WR Social Networks Analysis  plagiarism  and a 1.5 -page subset in a Computational Statistics and Data Analysis (CSDA) paper.

All were based on the work of Canadian blogger Deep Climate, who kept finding more problems. The known total of 80+ pages has 4 PhD dissertations, some lectures, a patent and 7 papers.

Edward Wegman and Yasmin Said published two largely-plagiarized papers in a “peer-reviewed” Wiley journal they edit with David Scott.  Wikipedia pages they copied were better. 

In May 2011, CSDA publisher Elsevier finally forced retraction of the CSDA paper.

Mon, 2012-02-20 10:38John Mashey
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Fakeducation For Years From Heartland

Is Your Child Being Indoctrianted or Educated?

The NY Times, LA Times and many others criticized Heartland’s inept plan to hire David Wojick to create an alternate-reality K-12 climate science curriculum. But Heartland's school ground attack on science is nothing new, as is evident in the organization's own commentary: “Heartland has tried to make material available to teachers, but has had only limited success. Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective.”

One of the best known Heartland incursions into the schoolyard occurred in 2008, when the institute mailed teaching materials to 11,250 schools in Canada. In 2009, Science derided Heartland for sending copies of The Skeptic’s Handbook to 14,000 US school board officials. Heartland's Environment and Climate New mocked one school board president for his refusal to use it. 

But Heartland began its classroom misinformation campaign much earlier. During 2002-2003, E&CN ran ads exhorting readers to “discuss an E&CN article with your school-age child… and his or her teacher.” I hope parents avoided the common “Smoker’s Lounge” ads in those issues.

Tue, 2012-02-14 15:08John Mashey
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Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax

Modern anti-science was created by the tobacco industry in the 1950s and then used against climate science, often by the same well-experienced think tanks and individuals.  Tobacco anti-science is strangely entangled with climate anti-science, as the attached report shows in detail involving Fred Singer's SEPP, Joseph Bast's Heartland, and more.

Wed, 2011-11-30 06:00John Mashey
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Skeptics Prefer Pal Review Over Peer Review: Chris de Freitas, Pat Michaels And Their Pals, 1997-2003

anti-science pot calling science kettle black

Imagine for a moment that climate change skeptics actually submitted their anti-science arguments for publication in a credible peer-reviewed journal. Now imagine that, after thorough examination and debunking by their peers, these skeptics finally admitted their many false claims and assumptions, and perhaps some or all moved on to contribute meaningfully to the vast body of science confirming manmade climate change?

Ok, back to reality.

Instead, the skeptics' greatest and most-often cited (by them) “peer-reviewed studies” appeared in the journal Climate Research between 1997-2003. This journal has been considered credible at certain points in its history, and many fine papers have appeared there.

But according to my new analysis [PDF] of the papers published in Climate Research, there is a very clear gap in credibility during the years 1997-2003 when Chris de Freitas served as one of the journal's editors. During this time, de Freitas oversaw the publication of 14 papers from notorious skeptics - half of them authored by fossil fuel industry pal Pat Michaels - many of which would not have survived rigorous and honest peer review at any other credible journal. 

A few months ago, another journal's editor resigned over a paper that should not have been accepted due to a poor peer review process. It reminded many of us of the more drastic case of Climate Research (CR), where several editors resigned in 2003 in the wake of a colossally poor paper by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, accepted for publication by none other than Chris de Freitas.

It was certainly not the first de Freitas-endorsed paper to pass weak editorial processes at Climate Research, but when incoming Editor-in-Chief Hans von Storch suggested the paper should not have been published, he endeavored to fix editorial processes to prevent such problems.  The publisher did not agree, so von Storch and other editors resigned.

Tue, 2011-11-01 13:26John Mashey
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Weird Anti-Science - Donna Bethell, SEPP, and Sandia National Laboratories

Back to school, dunce.

Donna Bethell recently complained to the Washington Post about an article that mentioned human causation of global warming:

It also cited two well-known skeptics of this claim. Were those skeptics allowed to explain why they are skeptics? No, they were only allowed to say that climate change is a political issue. Well, duh.”

The “skeptics” in the article were Rush Limbaugh and Marc Morano.  Lawyer Bethell's husband is political writer Thomas Bethell, whose book, The Politically Incorrect Guide(TM) to Science (2005) promoted intelligent design and AIDS denialism, but scoffed at any dangers from global warming, radiation, dioxins, DDT, loss of biodiversity, etc.  It lauded Fred Singer and fictioneer Michael Crichton.  Donna rated it highly and urged people to buy it:

Sun, 2011-10-30 21:40John Mashey
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Curious Coincidences at George Mason University: Ed Wegman, Milton Johns and Ken Cuccinelli

Image of Lady Justice, with scales and sword.

Nearly two years ago, Canadian blogger Deep Climate found the first few pages of plagiarism in the Wegman Report.  Since then, he and others have found many more, whose chronology is graphed in Plagiarism chains involving Edward Wegman and/or students, 10/07/11, going back to 1996.

After 17+ months beyond the first of many formal complaints, and despite exhortation from a Nature editorial in May 2011 to move faster, George Mason University (GMU) is still reviewing the situation.

Dan Vergano of USA Today reported on 05/16/11 that

Neither Dr. Wegman nor Dr. Said has ever engaged in plagiarism,” says their attorney, Milton Johns, by e-mail. In a March 16 e-mail to the journal, Wegman blamed a student who “had basically copied and pasted” from others' work into the 2006 congressional report, and said the text was lifted without acknowledgment and used in the journal study. “We would never knowingly publish plagiarized material” wrote Wegman, a former CSDA journal editor.”

But who is Milton Johns, to be so confident of his firm statement?

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