Sunday, October 10, 2010

Climate Scientists Strike Back!

Climate Scientist Dr. Michael Mann reponds to Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli's efforts to impune his reputation and to discredit the science of climate change in an article titled "Get the Anti-Science Bent out of Politics" (Washington Post, 10-8-10).

In a related development:

"GMU [George Mason University] spokesman Daniel Walsch confirms that the university, located in Fairfax, Va., is now investigating allegations that the Wegman report [which attorney General Cuccinelli has cited to discredit Dr. Michael Mann] was partly plagiarized and contains fabrications."---U.S.A. Today (10-8-10)

Climate change skeptic Edward J. Wegman, the author of the "Ad Hoc Committee Report on the ‘Hockey Stick’ Global Climate Reconstruction (Wegman Report)," which was cited by Virginia's Attorney General Gen. Ken Cuccinelli in his second civil investigative demand (CID, a civil subpoena) against the University of Virginia, is himself under investigation by George Mason University for research misconduct (plagiarism and fabrications). The George Mason University confirmed the investigation on Thursday, October 7, and the story was first reported by U.S.A. Today (10-8-10).

I think that Attorney General Cuccinelli is a political thug who has hijacked the Attorney General's Office in order to persecute Dr. Mann on behalf of his patrons in the fossil fuel industry. Cuccinelli's patrons may even include Russian gas companies, which collaborate closely with the Russian government's political operations; but Cuccinelli's office has not yet disclosed the identities of his father's clients.

U.S.A. Today (10-8-10) reports:

Officials at George Mason University confirmed Thursday that they are investigating
plagiarism and misconduct charges made against a noted climate science critic.

In 2006, GMU statistics professor, Edward Wegman, spearheaded a Congressional committee report critical of scientists' reconstructions of past climate conditions -- notably the 1999 "hockey stick" paper in Nature, which concluded that the 20th Century was the warmest one in a millennium. A National Research Council report later that year largely validated the 1999 paper's research, but the "Wegman" report has knocked around in public debate over climate ever since.

GMU spokesman Daniel Walsch confirms that the university, located in Fairfax, Va., is now investigating allegations that the Wegman report was partly plagiarized and contains fabrications. Last month, a 250-page report on the Deep Climate website written by computer scientist John Mashey of Portola Valley, Calif., raised some of these concerns. Mashey says his analysis shows that 35 of the 91 pages in the 2006 Wegman report are plagiarized (with some of the text taken from a book, Paleoclimatology: Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary, by Raymond Bradley of the University of Massachusetts) and contain erroneous citations of data, as well...

"Clearly, text was just lifted verbatim from my book and placed in the (Wegman) report," says Bradley, who is also one of the authors of the 1999 Nature study. In response to earlier concerns raised by the Deep Climate website, Bradley says he wrote a letter in April to GMU, noting the possibility of plagiarism and demanding an investigation of both the 2006 report and a subsequent, federally-funded study published by some of Wegman's students. "Talk about irony. It just seems surreal (that) these authors could criticize my work when they are lifting my words."

In a July 28, 2010, letter to Bradley, GMU vice-president for research Roger Stough said he expected a university committee to complete its investigation of Wegman by the "end of September." University policies allow professors to appeal any finding of misconduct within 30 days. The university president has 100 days to respond to that appeal.

Rosalind Helderman, who has done an excellent job of reporting on Attorney General Cuccinelli's persecution of Dr. Mann, reports in an article titled "GMU investigating climate change skeptic cited by Cuccinelli"
(Washington Post 10-8-10):

A leading skeptic of climate change science whose work was cited last week by Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli is himself under investigation on charges that his work contained plagiarism and inaccuracies, a George Mason University spokesman confirmed Friday.

The investigation was first reported by USA Today, which quoted GMU statistics professor Edward Wegman as saying he knew of the investigation but he had been asked not to comment about it by the university.

Wegman headed up a 2006 congressional committee that reported problems with scientific research that showed the earth has experience rapid, recent warming, notably a 1999 paper by then-University of Virginia professor Michael Mann.

The Wegman Report was cited repeatedly in the civil subpoena filed last week by Cuccinelli's office to the University of Virginia seeking e-mails and documents related to Mann. The citations came in an attachment to the subpoena intended to show that there was reason to believe that Mann might have committed fraud as he sought state money for research.

Cuccinelli says he wants to investigate a $214,000 grant Mann received from the state. Mann says the grant funded research unrelated to climate change, but the civil investigative demand alleges that he might have used his earlier research on the topic to help get the funding.

In the subpoena, lawyers for Cuccinelli noted that the Wegman Report found the data in Mann's articles "poorly documented and archived."

But now it turns out that Wegman and his report are the subject of scrutiny as well. Other scientists have been posting analyses of his work online, indicating that portions are plagiarized and that the report contains inaccurate citations.

Dan Walsch, a spokesman for GMU, confirmed that the university was investigating charges that the report was plagiarized and that it contained inaccurate information.

Referring to the university's faculty handbook, he indicated such charges are investigated by a faculty grievance committee that turns over its findings to the university president. According to the handbook, tenured professors can be terminated for "violations of professional ethics" or for "a finding of research or scholarly misconduct."

USA Today quotes University of Massachusetts professor Raymond Bradley, a co-writer of Mann's 1999 paper, as saying he wrote GMU a letter in April raising concerns about Wegman's report. Scientists examining the Wegman report have found text that appears to be taken from Bradley's work. He received a letter from the university indicating that it anticipated completing an investigation into the charges by the end of September.

It's worth noting that climate change science has become such a hot potato that professors on both sides have come under scrutiny. Pennsylvania State University convened a panel to investigate charges of professional misconduct by Mann this year. It concluded that there was no evidence Mann falsified or suppressed data.

Cuccinelli, meanwhile, is trying to withstand scrutiny from a judge, who had found that an earlier demand for documents from U-Va. insufficiently explained why Cuccinelli had reason to believe that Mann might have committed fraud.

We've asked Cuccinelli's office for reaction to news of the GMU investigation and we'll bring you any response we receive.


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