John Mashey

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Dr. Mashey is an easy-to-Google and Wikipedia’d semi-retired Bell Labs (1973-1983) / Silicon Valley (1983-)  computer scientist/executive.   He has worked with a wide variety of scientists, many of whom have used software or hardware he helped create.  For the last few years he has been studying climate science & anti-science and energy issues, and for several years has written investigative reports mostly here at DeSmogBlog. He has penned a few articles for Skeptical Inquirer, whose parent Center for Skeptical Inquiry recently added him as a Scientific and Technical Consultant.

In Spring 2011, he lectured several times in British Columbia on climate anti-science. He has also lectured at UCSF in 2013 and Stanford in 2014 on Cigarettes, Climate and Confusion Creators. Lectures in 2015 included Penn State, Woods Hole Research Center (video), and Bristol University (UK). He is an active member of the Advisory Committee for UCSF’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, important for the close connections of tobacco and climate anti-science.  He is a member of AAAS, AGU, APS, ACM, IEEE CS.

Earlier reports were often attached to blog posts written by Richard Littlemore here, summarized in Science article recognizes John Mashey Updated: With complete list of Mashey Papers. One of the most important reports was Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report, which first appeared at Deep Climate, but was later copied here to DeSmogBlog for consolidation. Other related works include a review of James Powell’s The Inquisition of Climate Science at NCSE, July-August 2013, and several articles for Skeptical Inquirer: American Physical Society Rejects Climate Anti-Science March/April 2010 (print-only); Strange Problems in the Wegman Report, March-April 2011; Has Global Warming Stopped?, David Morrison, John Mashey, Mark Boslough, September/October 2013.

Pseudoskeptics Are Not Skeptics

Fake skeptiocism is not genuine

Genuine scientific skepticism is not just the unmoving rejection of evolution or climate change by fake skeptics, called pseudoskeptics.  The real thing avoids premature conclusions, recognizes uncertainty, motivates searches for good data and causes real skeptics to change their minds,  as put succinctly by John Maynard Keynes:

“When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?”

Familiar Think Tanks Fight For E-cigarettes

Anti-science think tanks learned tactics from the tobacco industry and got paid for their help by tobacco companies, who fostered the Tea Party with the Koch brothers. When the Kochs needed better PR, they knew who to hire, Steve Lombardo, an experienced tobacco operative.

People rarely get strong nicotine addiction after their teen years,* but teen smoking has slowly been dropping in developed countries, threatening tobacco's future customer base. So do advertising restrictions and smoking bans in many places.

What to do?

Answer: Use the classic formula — apply brilliant marketing while familiar think tanks provide pseudo-academic cover to public and policy makers. Clean coal anyone?

Koch Industries Hires Tobacco Operative Steve Lombardo to Lead Communications and Marketing

Q: What does Koch Industries do when it needs better PR?

A: Hire a veteran helper of the tobacco industry.

At O'Dwyer's, Kevin McCauley writes January 9 in Koch Bros Lure Burson PA, Crisis Chair”:

“Steve Lombardo, PA/crisis chair at Burson-Marsteller in Washington since April, is moving to Koch Industries next month for the chief communications/marketing officer slot.

The 53-year-old sees an opportunity to showcase how the $115B Wichita-based conglomerate works to improve the lives of people around the world, according to Politico.

Prior to B-M, Lombardo helmed Edelman’s StrategyOne research operation, ran his own shop for an eight-year span and served as vice chairman of Blue Worldwide, Edelman’s advertising unit.

Lombardo has been involved in Republican politics, recently serving as senior research and communications director for Mitt Romney presidential run.

KI is the firm of conservative activists Charles and David Koch. Their empire includes Georgia-Pacific, Koch Pipeline/Fertilizer, Molex (electronic components), Flint Hills Resources, INVISTA (chemicals), Matador Cattle and Odessa Power.

Lombardo and Edelman colleague Jackie Cooper wrote about the “Republican Brand Problem” in O'Dwyer's in December 2012.

PR firm Burson-Marsteller and Lombardo both have relevant histories with tobacco.

Study Details Dark Money Flowing to Climate Science Denial

Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle's long-awaited, peer-reviewed study “Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations” was published Dec. 20 in the journal Climatic Change.

The Drexel press release, “Not Just the Koch Brothers: New Drexel Study Reveals Funders Behind the Climate Change Denial Effort” gives a quick introduction to the findings:

'This study marks the first peer-reviewed, comprehensive analysis ever conducted of the sources of funding that maintain the denial effort.
Through an analysis of the financial structure of the organizations that constitute the core of the countermovement and their sources of monetary support, Brulle found that, while the largest and most consistent funders behind the countermovement are a number of well-known conservative foundations, the majority of donations are 'dark money,' or concealed funding.”

“Funding has shifted to pass through untraceable sources. Coinciding with the decline in traceable funding, the amount of funding given to denial organizations by the Donors Trust has risen dramatically. Donors Trust is a donor-directed foundation whose funders cannot be traced. This one foundation now provides about 25% of all traceable foundation funding used by organizations engaged in promoting systematic denial of climate change.”

Of course, many recipients engage in numerous other actiivities outside the climate issue, and Brulle's study did not and could not address the percentage spent on climate change.  The clear message is that tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations that spread climate denial get huge sums of dark money, and we really do not yet know exactly how they spend it.

Brulle has provided DeSmogBlog with the 120-page Supplementary Material, with detailed financial data and explanations of the methodology. Figs 1-4 are attached below. Fig 3 shows how the DONORS TRUST money anonymizer has grown:

Growth of DONORS

Defamation By Internet? Part 1 - Murry Salby's Short-Lived Blog Storm

Defamation? Murry Sa;by's Short-Lived Blog Storm

Climate anti-science adapted well to the Internet. A blog storm (in this case the “SalbyStorm”) can surge through well-linked blogs to spread misinformation or unsupported accusations.  Some blogs act as tribal echo chambers where people reinforce others' anger, in this case resembling a famed witch-burning scene, with Macquarie University as main, but not only, witch.

As in the “Climategate” blog storm, the noise was intended for the mainstream. This reached The Australian, but the main SalbyStorm lasted less than a week.

Some earlier storms generated serious harassment of targeted climate scientists. In pre-blog 1996, Frederick Seitz and Fred Singer made personal attacks on Ben Santer via the Wall Street Journal. Later, blogs were employed to continue, as by Paul Chesser in this or this(Warning: those URLs are OK, but every once in a while, WebCite gets overloaded and gives odd error message. Ignore for now and try later.)

Michael Mann has replaced Santer as favored target, but there have been many other victims, such as Katharine Hayhoe. Only a small fraction of readers need get angry enough to produce reputational damage, hate mail, death threats, a dead rat on the doorstep or floods of email.

Some “skeptical” bloggers routinely accept and repeat both silly anti-science ideas, and other unsuppported claims, as here. Apologies or corrections almost never occur and even if they do, they rarely flow through the network, leaving waves of misimpression there.  First impressions stick.

On July 9-12, Macquarie suffered this kind of attack (Wave 1).  Ex-Professor Murry Salby made serious, but unsupported and sometimes contradictory, accusations against Macquarie, by the unusual route of email to bloggers. Joanne Nova (Australia), Anthony Watts (Watts Up With That, USA), and Andrew Montford (Bishop Hill, UK) republished them.

After 4 days and 1,500+ comments at those blogs alone, SalbyStorm's Wave 1 ended quickly when Salby's checkered past was detailed at DeSmogBlog.  Discussions stopped, although with little apology or introspection about gullibility at “skeptical” blogs.  A very few people had wondered at oddities of Salby's claims, searched for his past history, and independently started finding problems within a few hours. Salby supporters did not do that, preferring to specualte and comment.

People believed the worst and repeated it, sometimes expanding defamatory accusations with little concern for evidence. A few of the phrases applied to Macquarie or mainstream climate science included criminal, dictatorial, barbaric, Orwellian, Nazi, Stasi, Deutsch Physika, Marxist, Stalinist, Lysenko, thugs, Mafia, and extended further to “goose-stepping, alarmist, fascist, progressives.”  Salby was praised as a science hero, compared to Galileo, Copernicus or Einstein,  despite the evident problems in his scientific claims.

Salby sent accusations to bloggers who republished them with little visible effort to calm the mutually-reinforcing commenter outrage.  Finally, the story got repeated by The Australian.  Experienced watchers have seen this before, but  SalbyStorm makes a compact case study to document and recall in future storms.

Murry Salby: Galileo? Bozo? Or P.T.Barnum?

Murry Salby fired from Macquarie, had been debarred by NSF

UPDATE 03/09/16 Salby sued Macquarie U, judge ruled against him  on every complaint, similar pattern.

“They laughed at Galileo … but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown” might be appled to Murry Salby, who until May was a Professor of Environmental Science at Australia's Macquarie University (MU).  P.T. Barnum might fit better, as Salby has a well-documented history of deception and financial chicanery that got him debarred from Federal funding in the USA.

Galileo? In 2011, he proclaimed a recent rise in CO2 to be natural, not human-caused, which if true, would qualify for Galileo level.  This was received with great praise or at least taken seriously at The Sydney Institute (thinktank), Andrew Bolt in Herald Sun, JoNova, Jennifer Marohasy, WUWT (Steve Brown, Benny Peiser/GWPF, Ronald Voisin, Vincent Gray, Anthony Watts),  Bishop Hill (Andrew Montford), Climate Depot (Marc Morano), Climate Etc (Judith Curry,  who knew Salby at U Colorado), SPPI (Robert Ferguson reblogs Curry), NotrickZone (P. Gosselin), GWPF (reblogs Gosselin), The Hockey Schtick, to  name just a few.

Bozo? SkS lists “Murray Salby finds CO2 rise is natural” as #188 in the catalog of bad arguments, following this and this earlier articles.  MU Professor Colin Prentice took the time to write “How we know the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic”, but scientists rarely waste much time debunking wrong arguments. They wait until bad ideas get into credible peer-reviewed journals, beyond thinktank talks or even  poster sessions.

Fired in May, emailed ~July 8: Salby emailed a few bloggers laying out many complaints against MU, quickly published by JoNova (“Did Macquarie University sabotage, exile, blackban, strand and abandon Murry Salby?”), Watts (“Professor Murry Salby who is critical of AGW theory, is being disenfranchised, exiled, from academia in Australia”, reblogged by Tallbloke), Montford (“Climate of Fear”), Powerline (Steven Hayward, “The Climate Mafia Strikes Again…”). An article in The Australian was reblogged as Climate Chairman Left High And Dry By University by GWPF (of FOIA Facts 5) and Morano, who also wrote “the same.”   If a legal strategy, it seemed odd.

MU replied July 10, Statement regarding the termination of Professor Murry Salby.  Unlike bloggers, schools follow legal rules, so it was short, including:

FOIA Facts 5 - Finds Friends Of GWPF

Climate anti-science, social network accidentally exposed

People try to paint climate scientists as members of a cabal or conspiracy to hide the truth, but this idea is often promoted by thinktanks, politicians, bloggers, journalists and some economists, members of a tight social network themselves. Their emails are not usually subject to FOIAs, but the FOIA Facts research fortuitously found unexpected data.

Email to Ed Wegman highlighted close relationships between UK's main climate anti-science charity, Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), its counterparts in the US and Canada, and some key Congressional staffers.  Many email addresses were quite familiar, with a few surprises, including involvement of AIER, a previously unnoticed thinktank.

In the English-speaking machinery of climate anti-science, GWPF is the main UK gear, seen to be well-meshed with AEI, CATO, CEICFACT, GMI, Heartland Institute(HI), ICSC, IER, Mercatus (GMU), PERC, SEPP plus staffers for Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), among others.

FOIA Facts 4 - George Mason Takes The Money And Breaks The Rules

New Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) replies (1, 2, and 3) expose worse misbehavior at George Mason University. GMU badly mishandled simple plagiarism complaints, including one on a Federally-funded paper, retracted in May 2011, finally ruled as misconduct in 2012. Federal rules required notifications to several agencies earlier, but FOIA requests found no trace of any: Army 1, Army 2, GMU 1, GMU 2. [05/31/15 As a result of this $2M lawsuit, the full report  is now online, but in May 2013, was sent as a formal complaint to Aurali Dade, GMU's AVP for Research Integrity and Assurance.]

GMU gets $129M+/year in Federal grant funds, generally takes 30% for itself, but breaks rules.

A Nature editorial criticized GMU's handling, the Chronicle of Higher Education covered the retraction, Science discussed the process. USA Today's Dan Vergano later wrote in February 2012:

''”We took these charges very seriously,” (GMU Provost Peter) Stearns said, in a telephone interview, adding that the university will forward the investigation reports to federal authorities. The National Institutes of Health and the Department of the Army supported the 2008 study.'

Stearns had already written falsehoods to his own faculty, as detailed in See No Evil, Speak Little Truth, Break Rules, Blame Others, §6. GMU has many respectable faculty members, but the GMU administration ran a bizarre process far outside academic norms, GMU's own rules and Federal rules.

Was this just total incompetence by the administration of a 32,000-student university? Or was some part played by the powerful influence at GMU of Charles Koch and his associates, as discussed in See No Evil §A.5, §A.6?

In any case, Edward Wegman was appointed in Fall 2012 to a 3-year term on the GMU College of Science Promotion and Tenure Committee.

Then, in February 2013 GMU modified its already-opaque and complaint-discouraging process to be even more so.

FOIA Facts 3 - More Plagiarism - Get Grants Or Claim Credit

Copy-Paste plagiarism, Wegman and Said

As a byproduct of FOIA Facts 1 and FOIA Facts 2, Ed Wegman or Yasmin Said are now alleged to have included plagiarism or falsification in 9 papers or talks associated with funding from the Army Research Organization (ARO grants 0447 or 0059) or the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA grant 5876), 2005-2009.
[05/31/15 The full report  is now online, as a result of this $2M lawsuit.]

Of 6 plagiarized works already reported to George Mason University (GMU), Elsevier retracted one. By FOIA, the other 5 had either been claimed for credit on grants or cited to support Said's grant proposal. Study of grant claims unearthed 2 more works with problems.

Finally, Wegman wrote a 2009 grant proposal for half a million dollars, but evidence shows about half the text was plagiarized. Although unconnected with Federal funding, plagiarism or falsification are alleged against 4 more works. Of 13 total works with problems, 7 involved both Wegman and Said, and 3 by each alone, so they cannot blame all this on grad students.

FOIA Facts 2 - No Pro Bono - Federal Funds Mis-Used For Wegman Report And Much More

Wegman's mis-use of Army funds, irrelevant work outweighed relevant

As begun in FOIA Facts 1, Ed Wegman and Rep. Joe Barton repeatedly called the Wegman Report “pro bono”* but Wegman and Said later claimed it as work done for existing Federal  grants paid quarterly.  In response to Dan Vergano FOIA request  Wegman and Said each said the work was pro bono, years after claiming for credit it and much other irrelevant work. Together, they “charged” 48 inappropriate works to grants they effectively treated as slush funds.

Wegman was funded by Army Research Office (ARO) grant 0447, $217K for “Analytical and Graphical Methods for Streaming Data with Applications to Netcentric Warfare.” He claimed credit for 75 papers and talks, listed in the thumbnail at left or full-sized in Sheet §0.1.

Dark blue shows fit (possibly relevant) papers, but almost all acknowledged earlier grants and were published or mostly done before 0447. Wegman improperly claimed them again in late 2008, perhaps because he had done so little new relevant work in peer-reviewed research journals. Ignoring them leaves just cyan (light blue) talks, outnumbered by grant-unfit works: green for alcoholism, red for attempts to discredit climate science and orange for miscellaneous others unrelated to his or Said's grants.

The chronology matches well - fit papers essentially vanished after 2005, as Wegman plunged into climate and worked on alcoholism with Said, who claimed the Wegman Report for her grant. A 91-page report on unfamiliar topics and Congressional hearings had to consume much more effort than anything else. Even by simple counts, more than half of each person's works were inappropriate, but the grant time spent inappropriately was almost certainly larger. 

Lamar Smith (R-TX) might want to investigate obvious funds misuse before trying to meddle with the National Science Foundation.

“Congress has a responsibility to review questionable research paid for by hard-working American taxpayers. … Public funds should be used to benefit the American people.”