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. For Huffpost, he wrote Big Tobacco, Big Fossil Power Machinery of Doubt (December 2015).

FOIA Facts 1 - More Misdeeds By Ed Wegman, Yasmin Said, George Mason University

The Wegman Report was not pro bono, and George Mason violated Federal rules

05/20/15: The full report is now posted, as side-effect of $2M lawsuiit by Ed Wegman, Yasmin Said, Milton Johns.
New Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) replies have exposed more misdeeds by Professor Edward Wegman and Yasmin Said at George Mason University (GMU),  closely involved with the Kochs, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and many others known for attacks on climate science. This post reviews background and attaches FOIA files that unearthed evidence for:

-pervasive mis-use of Federal funds for inappropriate work,
-plagiarism* or falsification** in documents used to seek grants or credit,
-GMU violations of Federal rules for reporting misconduct, atop an already-absurd procedure.

Readers unfamiliar with the history might first read the background below the fold and then return here for a summary of the posts to follow in this series:

FOIA Facts 2 - Wegman and Said used existing grants from the Army Research Office and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for efforts on the 2006 Wegman Report, showing “pro bono” claims made to Congress as false. That was not the only funds mis-use. Together, they claimed 48 inappropriate papers or talks, easily consuming more than half their effort. Grants of $492K produced attacks on climate science  and much foreign travel, but almost nothing in peer-reviewed research journals.

FOIA Facts 3 - More plagiarism and falsification are documented in 13 total works by Wegman and/or Said, including a few new ones and at least 7 claimed for grant credit. Wegman also wrote a half-million-dollar grant proposal, but evidence shows that roughly half the text was copy-paste-edit plagiarism. Luckily for Wegman, it was rejected.

FOIA Facts 4 exposes worse misbehavior at GMU, which badly mishandled simple plagiarism complaints, including one on a Federally-funded paper. That was retracted in May 2011 and finally ruled as misconduct in February 2012. Federal rules required multiple notifications to several agencies, but FOIA requests found no trace of them. GMU seemed to ignore Federal rules, but perhaps other funding and influence are more important.

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

TEA Party: Tobacco Everywhere Always

TEA Party: Tobacco Everywhere Always, its origins with Big Tobacco

Climate change doubt is a key belief in the TEA Party, sparked by the Koch-related Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks. Big Tobacco was heavily involved from the 1980s onward, and by 1992 the “Tea Party” was already in play. Extensive new research has unearthed the real history. 

“‘To quarterback behind the scenes, third-party efforts’: the tobacco industry and the Tea Party” by Amanda Fallin, Rachel Grana and Stanton A Glantz, was published online last week in BMJ Tobacco Control, a high-impact peer-reviewed journal. They write:

“Rather than being a purely grassroots movement that spontaneously developed in 2009, the Tea Party has developed over time, in part through decades of work by the tobacco industry and other corporate interests.”

Fakery 2: More Funny Finances, Free Of Tax

Money falls from the sky, anonymously

Follow the money.  October 23, PBS Frontline's Climate of Doubt gave viewers an hour's coverage of the tactics of climate anti-science, its advocates and a quick look into the funding behind it. Read on to follow the money deeper into the funny finances, all free of tax.

Last February, Fake Science, Fakexperts, Funny Finances, Free Of Tax explored some of those issues in detail. More information has been unearthed since, especially on DONORS TRUST, which Robert Brulle discussed with Frontline. Charles Koch and others use DONORS TRUST to anonymize their funding of policy/advocacy groups.  The attached revision exposes more detail of the $311 million given through DONORS between 2002-2010, managed by Whitney Ball.

See No Evil, Speak Little Truth, Break Rules, Blame Others

Pinocchio tells some really big lies

The “Wegman Report”, led by Edward Wegman of George Mason University (GMU) got criticized in 2010's Experts claim 2006 climate report plagiarized.  Experts called it “obvious” even “shocking” plagiarism.  GMU's incompetent handling, mistreatment of complainants and flawed rulings were mostly documented in March, but recent FOIAs expose more untruths.

Is the harsh title fair?  Read on, then study the 69-page attachment.

GMU Provost Peter Stearns' February letter to GMU faculty made claims of non-plagiarism that contradicted not only experts, but themselves.  The process consumed almost two years to assess four (4) pages of text.  

Stearns' letter was even more untruthful than previously known.  It  fabricated an imaginary second investigation committee, seemingly to somehow excuse crucial contradictions.   This seemed an attempt to defend the Wegman Report at all costs, even with potential problems from Federal agencies who expect schools to handle misconduct properly.  They fund much of GMU's actual research, done by faculty that to the best of my knowledge are normal, credible researchers.

However, a few groups in GMU are closely, even uniquely enmeshed with people behind the machinery of anti-science, such as Charles Koch, Ken Cuccinelli, David Schnare, Fred Singer, and Pat Michaels, plus the Heartland Institute and key Washington think tanks.  GMU even has a long history of tobacco connections, oddly relevant.

Following are a few brief summaries to motivate the title's phrases:

Ed Wegman Promised Data to Rep. Henry Waxman Six Years Ago - Where Is It?

Shell game for Wegman Report's code

George Mason University’s Edward Wegman and Yasmin Said are back in the news, having just silently disappeared as Editors of a Wiley journal in which they had authored two plagiarized articles.

But now, FOIA information shows that Wegman first misled Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and then never released code and data he promised.  During Summer 2006, David Ritson tried to get climatology statistics code from Wegman, to no avail, so he appealed to Waxman, who contacted Wegman.  Waxman forwarded the reply to Ritson, who wrote at CA (or at Deep Climate for more discussion):

'The key paragraph in Wegman’s reply was

'… Material based on our report is being prepared for peer review journals(1) at present. It is not clear to me that before the journal peer review process is complete that we have an academic obligation to disclose the details of our methods. Nonetheless, I assure you that as soon as we are functional again, I will create a website(2) that fully discloses all supporting material related to our report to the extent possible. (Some of the code we used was developed by former and current students working at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia and may not be disclosed without approval through the Navy’s public release process.)“(3)'

Almost everything there was false or at best misleading/wrong.

Illinois Coal Association Emerges As Heartland Denial-a-Palooza Sponsor

stack of coal

Following the May 4 shocking Unabomber billboard campaign and subsequent departures of more of Heartland's corporate donors, Heartland was likely heartened to add the Illinois Coal Association as a new Gold Sponsor for its forthcoming ICCC-7 “climate” conference.  Although ICA was not on the 05/09/12 sponsor list,  it joined the usual collection of thinktank sponsors  no later than 05/14/12,  Maybe the billboard finally convinced them to come out publicly?

In the 2012 Fundraising plan p.24,  Murray Energy gave $100,000 in 2010 and was expected to give $40,000 in 2012.   Its subsidiary, The American Coal Company is a member of the ICA, along with Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, among others.

In the PDF at Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax, pp.84-85 I showed Heartland's Environment and Climate News to have consistent views on some topics:

Negatives included the EPA (2160 mentions), renewable (761), wind farm (333), wind power (277), solar power (209), wind turbine (188).

Mercury (941 mentions) was generally viewed as OK, in fish or the environment, unless it came from CFLs.  Coal (935) was often praised.

In any case, the ICA's post-billboard sponsorship of ICCC-7 is a bold public leap.

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.

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.

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. (Fakery 2  10/25/12 updates this post with more data.)

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.

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