Year 2, Month 5, Day 27: What Matters Is That He Could See That Far!

The Wegman Report, used by Republican politicians to justify inaction on climate change, has been withdrawn by the journal which originally published it, following revelations that the whole thing was both filled with errors and substantially plagiarized. Heh heh heh.

Evidence of plagiarism and complaints about the peer-review process have led a statistics journal to retract a federally funded study that condemned scientific support for global warming.

The study, which appeared in 2008 in the journal Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, was headed by statistician Edward Wegman of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Its analysis was an outgrowth of a controversial congressional report that Wegman headed in 2006. The “Wegman Report” suggested climate scientists colluded in their studies and questioned whether global warming was real. The report has since become a touchstone among climate change naysayers.

The journal publisher’s legal team “has decided to retract the study,” said CSDA journal editor Stanley Azen of the University of Southern California, following complaints of plagiarism. A November review by three plagiarism experts of the 2006 congressional report for USA TODAY also concluded that portions contained text from Wikipedia and textbooks. The journal study, co-authored by Wegman student Yasmin Said, detailed part of the congressional report’s analysis.

A commenter at Daily Kos put the idea into my head about Ken Cuccinelli’s dilemma, and I decided to put it into a letter. Sent May 16:

So the “Wegman Report” from George Mason University turns out to be both flawed and plagiarized. This poses a problem for Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, whose harassment of climate scientist Michael Mann is predicated on Mann’s funding from the University of Virginia. Given that George Mason University receives extensive state and federal support, it’s inescapable: Edward Wegman’s academic misconduct qualifies as a misuse of public funds, and we may confidently expect Mr. Cuccinelli to pursue legal action against Wegman and GMU. Let’s pause a minute to let the hilarity subside, and remember that George Mason University also receives substantial funding from the notorious Koch brothers, well-known supporters of climate-change denialism. While Republican legislators are unlikely to repudiate the Wegman report, perhaps this scandal might inspire our more ignorant politicians to do some of their own science homework, rather than relying on the grownup version of a term-paper service.

Warren Senders

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