Skeptics' Journal Publishes Plagiarist's Paper

Mon, 2008-03-24 15:53Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Skeptics' Journal Publishes Plagiarist's Paper

Despite dismissing the work as “a bit patchy and nothing new,” Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, editor of the skeptic's journal Energy and Environment journal, has published the work of the plagiarist Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte.

Dr. Schulte's “research” was first published last year on an industry-funded website called the Science and Public Policy Institute. Actually, it was excerpted in a long essay by the disingenuous Viscount Christopher Monckton (inset), who pronounced Schulte's paper serious, peer-reviewed science even while failing to admit his own part in its creation.

Following up on criticisms of Schulte's methodology and accusations that he had plagiarized earlier work by the oft-humiliated anthropologist Benny Peiser, the DeSmogBlog contacted Ms. Boehmer-Christiansen in September and asked how she could justify publishing Schulte's article.

In her response, dated Sept. 6, 2006, Boehmer-Christiansen said:

For your information, I have informed Dr.Schulte that I am happy to publish his own research findings on the effect on patients of climate alamism/'Angst'.
His survey of papers critical of the consensus was a bit patchy and nothing new, as you point out. it was not what was of interest to me; nothing has been published.
Sincerely
Sonja B-C
And as of September last year, nothing had been published. But the March issue of E&E proudly includes Schulte's work, pretty much unedited from the much-criticized version circulating last summer. We still await any actual research from Schulte on the effect of “alarmism” or “angst” on the health of his patients - or anything beyond his anecdotal reports that some among his patients find the threat of climate change (quite justifiably) anxiety inducing.
 
For the definitive review of both Schulte's unimpressive scholarship and the longer-running campaign to claim a legitimate ongoing scientific debate about global warming, see the attached paper by John R. Mashey. It is exhaustive and devastating - and pretty much every potential point of contention is backed up with links and direct references, creating a degree of transparency the likes of which appear to be entirely unfamiliar to Monckton-Schulte.
AttachmentSize
monckton schulte oreskes 7 0 (2).pdf379.02 KB

Previous Comments

According to Mashey (who bought the article), Schulte stated that

“patients with benign and malignant disorders are concerned that their disease may be caused by or related to `climate change’ and that they might have remained healthy without it”

…and somehow, in a bizarre leap of logic, this turned into “AGW alarmism hurts patients’ health” and “patients are worried about catastrophic global warming” (why else does the paper abstract talk about the “catastrophic” thing?).

http://tinyurl.com/2ormdn

Maybe Schulte should make up his mind on what exact phenomenon of “angst” he was talking about.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

I love it when Mashey uses phrases like “denialist PR machine” and “denialist entities”. Also, according to Mashey, the blogosphere appears to be “exploding” on a regular basis. The whole 40 page load of drivel reads like a drive-by smear piece by www.exxonsecrets.org. Seriously, a 40 page dissertation for Mashey to say he doesn’t like Schulte one bit?

Lastly, Schulte references Tim Lambert and George Monbiot to bolster his own claims but instead weakens his argument considerably. Both Lambert and Monbiot are widely recognized as rather flakey and not to be taken very seriously.

Ah yes, ignore all the evidence presented so you can accuse the “warmists” of having no evidence for their Uninformed Prejudice. That’s the denialist way, no?

Actually, for a minute I thought you were going to bring up Gore and Suzuki again.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

So, Paul, after Lambert and Monbiot now instead of your usual Gore and Suzuki? Also, you call THEM flaky? What does that make Schulte, Monckton, Singer, etc.? Irascible and troglodytes?

Schulte, Monckton and Singer are fearless, selfless seekers of truth whose unimpeachable integrity is being constantly besmirched by those of lesser motives. Stand back, cause The Truth is coming through!!!

;)

And here’s me thinking they were launching a Three Stooges revival!!

Fern Mackenzie

… and not to be taken seriously”?

Certainly, the phrase applies in this instance, but not those people.

As to the length and really stunning level of detail in John Mashey’s download, he said in reference to a side issue yesterday that he trained as a programmer and doesn’t like to leave loose ends hanging. And he has not. He has documented the following:

* That Christopher Monckton is more than willing to play fast and loose with the facts when it suits his purpose.

* That Klaus-Martin Schulte, working well outside his field of expertise, has created a work that is suspect at the very least, heavily reliant on the (already discredited) work of others and amateurish in its presentation and, especially, its citations.

There is, further, a circumstantial case to suggest that Monckton and Schulte were working together on this from the start. And, of course, the obvious conclusion that Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen will publish any stupid thing, even something that she herself has dismissed as - what was that phrase? - rather flakey and not to be taken seriously. 

Mashey’s reply is overkill in my view. He treats his opponents with such seriousness that others may believe his opponents are serious scholars.

In my opinion, if Monckton and Schulte are as unworthy of consideration as numerous people say they are, it is best to ignore them completely. But look! His Viscountness has now arrived on this blog!

Yeah, if Mashey’s reply isn’t this detailed, then it’s unfairly prejudiced. If Mashey’s reply is detailed, then it’s overkill. You can’t win!

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

As far as you’re concerned Frankie, you’re right, you can’t win. Give up.

“Dr.” Mashey says Mr. Schulte plagiarized my research. He did no such thing. It was he, not I, who conducted the research. “Dr.” Mashey was told this.

“Dr.” Mashey submitted his over-long complaint formally to Mr. Schulte’s academic institution, whose investigator rejected it on all counts.

“Dr.” Mashey is now himself under investigation for circulating his complaint publicly, in a form in which which inter alia he breaches doctor-patient confidentiality. For this reason, please remove all links to “Dr.” Mashey’s document.

One realizes that the news that the scientific “consensus” no longer believes in climate alarm (if it ever did) is unwelcome in certain political circles. But the science is the science.

Perhaps it would be better if “Dr.” Mashey were to write a peer-reviewed rebuttal of Mr. Schulte’s paper, rather than interfering in an unlawful manner on the blogosphere, which is not the best place for serious scientific discourse.

Your Viscountness,

1. I seem to have missed any reference in which John Mashey presents himself as a doctor or as a PhD. Perhaps you can explain your “Dr.” usage. (Update: A backcheck on Google confirms that Mashey is, indeed a Ph.D., but which leaves unanswered the original question of why Monckton is belittling or questioning that with the repeated use of “Dr.”.)

2. I am sure all of the readers hereabouts would be interested in the opinion of any impartial investigator who considered Schulte's work in light of John Mashey's well-documented criticisms. Feel free to post any record or evidence of this rejection in a comment. Or to send them directly to rlittlemore@hoggan.com and I will create a new, higher-profile post for that purpose.

3. I also missed the section where Mashey “breaches doctor-patient confidentiality.” (Maybe it would help if I know who was accusing whom of being a doctor.) If you can offer any evidence of this charge, we'll remove Mashey's document immediately. Otherwise, not.

4. This whole accusation of “interfering in an unlawful manner on the blogosphere” strains understanding, credulity or both. Would you be the same “Monckton of Brenchley” whose blogosphere diatribe here brought Schulte's then-unpublished work to public light in the first place? And, if so, doesn't that suggest that you consider the internet to be quite a good place for open discussion?

I, personally, don't think it's the best place for arguing science - which, in any case, appears to be outside our field of expertise (by which, yes, I mean yours and mine). I think science is best argued by scientists - the kind of people who can get published in real journals, not in second-rate skeptic mags that accept work that is “a bit patchy and nothing new.”

What do you think?

Someone calling themselves Monckton of Brenchley has repeatedly popped up online on threads addressing said Viscount’s silliness. This one looks very similar to the others, and they may all be genuine. So far the most common behavious is hit and run. Which might mean they are a common internet troll.
We’ll see. If this is the real Monckton, I’m sure you’ll be hearing from his lawyers, as he likes to bully people.

Our experience with lawyers suggests that they discourage bullying actions when their client is entirely in the wrong, and when the evidence of their perfidy is a) freely available and/or b) already in the hands of the proposed “defendant.”

But if Monckton wants to rattle a his weapon, I’ll be happy to provide the coordinates of our own lawyer, who gets great entertainment from answering insincere letters full of belligerence and bluster. 

While the deniers can tell their lies and spread their fraudulent tactics openly in the mass media and blog-sphere, they know that if they say the same things under oath in a court of law they will be charged with a very serious crime, perjury, which has very serious consequences, namely, spending time at one of Her Majesty’s motels for the criminally inclined.

I think that this is the key reason they are all bluster and quickly withdraw their accusations when it gets too close to actual court. See, for example, Tim Ball’s case.

Ian Forrester

If Your Viscountness could deign yourself to actually follow up on your numerous threats of legal actions…

“Perhaps it would be better if `Dr.’ Mashey were to write a peer-reviewed rebuttal of Mr. Schulte’s paper”

A paper published in the scientific equivalent of a tabloid needs no “peer-reviewed” response, although I agree that having one would be nice.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

…it might be ‘overkill’ ;-)

Viscount Monckton,

Please can you answer the following for me so that we can determine your credibility:

1. On George Monbiot’s webpage there is an email correspondence with you regarding unflattering changes to your Wikipedia entry, which appear to have originated from a computer with the same IP address as yours. How did these changes occur from a computer with the same IP address as yours?

2. The Scotsman alleged in 2006 that your original claim that you made that you had been forced to see your house over the original Eternity puzzle was untrue.
Fot info the original claim is here:
http://showcase.posiweb.net/media/property01.pdf
“Thus, rather than being in a position to reap the fruits of his labours, Mr Monckton now finds everything has gone
pear-shaped - and in order to raise the promised prize
money, he is having to sell off his ancestral home in northeast Scotland. Does he mind? “What do you think?” he
fumes. “I’m furious.”

The Scotsman article says:
http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland/Aristocrat-admits-tale-of-lost.3340554.jp
“A SCOTTISH aristocrat who claimed he was forced to sell his ancestral pile after losing a fortune on a $1 million puzzle has admitted that he invented the story to boost sales. Christopher Monckton, the third Viscount of Brenchley, owned up to the duplicity yesterday as he launched a new version of the world’s toughest jigsaw.
‘[The house sale] was the story which the PR people dreamed up after we had three months of the best sales that any puzzle had ever had,’ he said. ‘They wanted to keep the momentum going to take us through to Christmas.’ ‘I was selling the house anyway and they asked me if I would be willing to tell people I was selling the house because I was afraid somebody might solve the puzzle too fast. I said ‘yes’.’”

Was the Scotsman’s claim correct?

3. In this article: http://ff.org/centers/csspp/pdf/20061212_monckton.pdf you state “Finally, you may wonder why it is that a member of the Upper House of the United Kingdom legislature, wholly unconnected with and unpaid by the corporation that is the victim of your lamentable letter, should take the unusual step of calling upon you as members of the Upper House of the United States legislature either to withdraw what you
have written or resign your sinecures.”

Are you or are you not a member of the Upper House of the British legislature? Strangely, you are not listed as such on the official registers.

As an aside, I wonder whether there is a law against claiming to be a member of the House of Lords when you are not in fact one?

4. You criticise Mashey for not publishing a peer reviwed article on this. Please can you provide a list of your own peer reviewed articles on the science of climate. Web of Knowledge appears to list just one:
Title: Free speech about climate change
Author(s): Monckton, CW
Source: SOCIETY Volume: 44 Issue: 4 Pages: 14-17 Published: MAY-JUN 2007
Article Number: ISSN 0147-2011 Article Number: ISSN 0147-2011

As raf as I can tell this contains no original data (but I am happy to be corrected). You must surely have more than this?

Please be assured that I wish to see the answers to these merely to confirm your credibility so that we can continue the discussison.

I await your response with interest.

Mr. Schulte’s paper hasn’t passed a peer-review test, anyway. Energy and Environment is not recognized as a peer-reviewed journal by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI).

1) “Dr”
No big deal, but there *are* people around who claim things they’re not… so …

I happen to have an earned PhD from a credible university, so I guess I can be called “Dr” …
but most people I know don’t. My wife has one, many of our friends do, 10% of adults in our town do, Stanford (a few miles a way) has masses, and then there are the MD-doctors as well. To call everyone “Dr” would get wearisome. Competent professionals with track records rarely care much. Also, I’d hate to be grabbed on a plane to help with a medical emergency. :-)

But, given the extreme rarity of “mashey”, I’m really not that hard to find, and maybe that’s the first step for “investigators”:

Google: john mashey

First hit is a short Wikipedia entry, which points at the Computer History Museum Trustee entry from which I think it was mostly taken:
http://www.computerhistory.org/trustee/John,Mashey/

In more detail, since it’s been raised:
1968: B.S. Mathematics [& one course short of a 2nd degree in Physics]
1969: MS Computer Science
1974: PhD Computer Science

All from The Pennsylvania State University. If anyone is still concerned about fakery, they can contact the PSU Deans of Engineering and Science, both of whom know me.
====
I’d been recruited to work at PhD-dense Bell Laboratories, which *explicitly* discouraged “Dr” in normal usage:

a) With so many PhDs, calling us all “Dr” would just waste a lot of time.
b) But mainly, because what you accomplished was more important than the title.
c) About the only mention of degrees was in external articles, but even there, a bio would say “…PhD. Mr. X…”

Anyway, if Viscount Monckton wants to keep typing “Dr”, OK with me.

2) The plagiarism issue was found by Tim Lambert, and I just recorded it in detail, with as clear a chronology as I could, starting on page 19 of my document. The plagiarism wasn’t in the article submitted to E&E, it was in the threatening letter sent to Oreskes, and posted abotu a day later on teh SPPI website, and sent out on Businesswire by Rob Ferguson.

Peiser (with errors) –>
Monckton @ SPPI (with errors, but at least credited to Peiser)
—minor edits by somebody, with any mention of Peiser deleted –>
Schulte letter to Oreskes (with same errors)

In any case, it wasn’t Monckton’s “research” it was Peiser’s. Schulte credited neither Monckton nor Peiser in his letter to Oreskes. I have no idea who did the actual edits.

THE READER MAY ASSESS: was there plagiarism or not? If so, why, and was it really smart to broadcast it to the world? If it was plagiarism, I’ve known undergraduates who did better.

3) I indeed wrote letters to Mr. Schulte’s institutions in October. I have NHS friends and have lectured at King’s, and these are institutions I respect. This gave them a chance to handle it internally, if they chose to do anything. I then got busy with international trips and did not follow up.

Thanks to Viscount Monckton for reminding me! If I get time I’ll contact them again to see if they wrote something back that never got here, like an investigator’s report, as I would love to see that. If they actually found something factually wrong, I’ll happily update my memo. If they just didn’t want to do anything, that’s fine - I understand perfectly well how large organizations work, and they’re busy people, I’m sure.

Since I never mentioned these letters to anyone else, it is interesting that Viscount Monckton knows about them. Perhaps he and Mr. Schulte have remained in close contact?

4) “now himself under investigation…”
sure. Google: john mashey is a start.

“in a form in which which (sic) inter alia he breaches doctor-patient confidentiality.”

This seems very confused, although the Latin is OK. I’m a PhD-doctor, not an MD-doctor. Certainly, neither Mr. Schulte nor Viscount Monckton are patients of mine. I have never revealed any confidential medical records of either, nor have I ever had any access to such things, or sought any such access. I have doctors in the family, and I’ve signed hundreds of Non-Disclosure Agreements, so I’m quite careful of confidentiality issues.

On page 13, I observed that it was odd to find an endocrine surgeon involved in this mess, and quoted a published Guardian story:

‘On the other hand, Manthorpe writes about Monckton:
“suffers from a rare endocrine complaint, which has necessitated a series of operations…”
This may be just an interesting coincidence, and of course, doctor-patient confidentiality applies, so we will likely never know…. How they came to cooperate is irrelevant, but it is clear that they have cooperated closely.’

If someone caused a breach, it was not I.

If Viscount Monckton is indeed afflicted by endocrine problems, then he has my sympathy for that, as health problems are always difficult, from firsthand experience.

On the other hand, both he and Mr. Schulte might possibly be afflicted by the Dunning-Kruger Effect, but that is known to be curable if someone so desires.

5) My interest in all this was *not* to rebut the silly Schulte paper itself. Others had already done a fine job.

If I saw something wrong in a serious paper in a serious journal that was worth rebutting, I might try. But not E&E, be serious.

My interest *was* the study & documentation of using PR techniques and the blogosphere to spread disinformation, bypass any normal scientific publication process, and (in this case) manufacture personal attacks on real scientists.

6) “The science is the science.”

Yes, it is. I get my science, not just from extensive study on top of a math/physics/statistics/computing background, but from decades of personal contact with world-class people, not fifth-raters and fantasists. For examples, see #84 in:
http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/global-warming-payola/#comments

6) “rather than interfering in an unlawful manner on the blogosphere, which is not the best place for scientific discourse.”

a) The first part is truly fascinating. I’m not sure how I’ve interfered in the blogosphere, or what that even means. It’s like interfering with random chaos. I’ll ask some friends who are legal scholars.

In any case, as Richard points out, Viscount Monckton spread this into the blogosphere. Had Schulte’s article been published in in E&E, in a normal way, nobody would have cared much. I’ve published peer-reviewed articles, been a reviewer, have guest-edited journals, and this whole process was a parody of normal work that only a serious Dunning-Kruger afflictee could think was normal.

b) The second part *is* true. That’s why I’m a AAAS member, read Science, read IPCC reports, read other primary research, attend high-calibre lectures, and often talk to world-class scientists, as I have for decades. A supercomputer architecture I helped design a decade ago is still being used worldwide to help scientists do real science. Unsurprisingly, when I was Chief Scientist at Silicon Graphics, I spent a lot of time with such people.

7) I thought this issue was over, but maybe not. I am glad to have documented it when it was fresh, but there are a now a few fascinating new questions to investigate, and maybe, one of these days, Mr. Schulte will join the discussions himself.

I had more or less dismissed that post as someone pretending to be Monckton – that bit about doctor/patient confidentially is so outlandish I didn’t think someone of his position would ever make such a silly claim. But after reading your post & the one by Benny Lin above, it seems pretty clear that the fellow is a few sandwiches short of a picnic! I wonder whether he is entered in the Upperclass Twit of the Year competition? I’d bet on him to win. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSqkdcT25ss

Fern Mackenzie

Sorry, I forgot one interesting thing.

If he imagines I’ve somehow breached doctor-patient confidentiality, he must mean Schulte-Monckton doctor-patient confidentiality, since there no other doctor(MD) and patients I can find in this mess.

If there were no doctor-patient relationship, there could be no breach.

THE READER MAY ASSESS:
Is it possible that the Viscount has just publicly confirmed his doctor-patient relationship with Mr. Schulte?

Reading between the lines of his various magnum opi, as well as over and beneath them. I think that I have stumbled onto what is causing his condition.

I have found that there are two conditions which are causing him problems.

The first is he is suffering from an enlarged ganglial ochrea (which can be abbreviated as EGO) and secondly he suffers from low ileal artery receptor disease (which can be abbreviated LIAR).

I hope I have not breached doctor patient confidentiality by releasing this previously suspected, but not confirmed diagnosis.

Ian Forrester

Guthrie:
I’m curious: where else (besides Deltoid) did you see this?

Note of course, that since the Viscount is one of the very few people in the world that might find out about the letters I sent, one can guess that the post here was actually his with very high confidence.

Sorry for not replying sooner, I forgot about this thread.

Anyway, I havn’t seen Monckton make precisely these claims, I was walking more in general about his behaviour. The Scotsman website is not currently functioning correctly, so I cannot point you in the direction of the stories, but he turned up there at least once, spouting rubbish.

For those who might like to see the Schulte paper, but do not wish to pay $18 for the privilege to E&E, the Schulte paper is almost online at SPPI:

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/reprint/consensus_on_climate_change.html

I say “almost” because:

The *actual* paper at E&E has the following additional words:

after Klaus-Martin Schulte add:
MD, FRCS
Consultant in Endocrine and General Surgery, Department of Endocrine Surgery
Kings’ College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London SE5 9RS United Kingdom
Honorary Senior Lecturer of Surgery, Kings’ College London
E-Mail: Klaus-Martin.Schulte AT kch.nhs.uk

after the ABSTRACT, add:

1. INTRODUCTION

after “It is high time to reconsider the trend of global climate changes.” add:

2. DISCUSSION
The analysis of 539 abstracts revealed that only a small part of papers identified through this search mechanism contributed direct relevant data to the question of consensus as set out above.

and change “Conclusion” to:

By principle, Science does not rise or fall with consensus or its absence, but rather with the reliability of data and vigorous consideration. The prediction of consequences of changes that are only predicted to happen is burdened with serious methodological problems. This inherent degree of uncertainty and the herein shown lack of consensus do not support a further induction of fears of climate related illness and death in the medical world and its patients.

3. CONCLUSION
====

The formatting is also different, 2 columns instead of one.

Anyway, the paper posted at SPPI is *not* just a copy of the PDF from E&E, it presumably started as a word document of Schulte’s and then he (or Bob Ferguson) edited it.

This is just insane… In this day and age, why would one still be plagiarizing? Stupid tactic!

__ http://www.top3acaiberry.org