Copygate

As readers know, Raymond Bradley’s allegation that “text was just lifted verbatim from my book and placed in the Wegman Report” has been widely publicized following Bradley’s interview with USA today. The allegation pertains to Wegman’s boilerplate section (2.1) describing proxies, a section in which neither MBH98-99 nor MM2003, 2005abcd are mentioned, and on which no Wegman conclusions depend. Nor does it affect the under oath endorsement of Wegman conclusions given at the House Committee hearings by Gerald North and Peter Bloomfield – see here.

There seem to be several related issues. Although Wegman cites Bradley no fewer than six times in the approximately 1640 words of section 2.1, there are some suggestions that this was insufficient homage. The more problematic issue pertains to the lifting of text with very slight paraphrasing. This issue is not unique to the Wegman Report. As shown below, substantially similar situations arise with the Oxford Companion to Global Change, the Climate Change Study Guide, Enviropedia and Luterbacher et al 2010, and, under a zero-tolerance policy, with Bradley 1999 itself.

Plagiarism is not a topic that has been discussed much at Climate Audit. Nonetheless, given the lengths to which the Team has gone from time to time to avoid the slightest acknowledgment of Climate Audit, I welcome this new zeal on the part of climate scientists against plagiarism, which, by definition, also includes using the “ideas” of “another person without giving appropriate credit”

Zorita
CA readers will be aware of the discussions at Lucia’s, Jeff Id, WUWT, Judy Curry, Keith Kloor, Deep Climate and elsewhere. Eduardo Zorita, generally a sane voice, at Klimazwiebel attempted to provide a balanced view of Bradley’s allegations as follows:

It is quite possible that Wegman made heavy use of paleoclimatology text books to prepare this chapter, among which Bradley’s book is very well known. It seems that Wegman did not include the citations in place that are commonly used in scientific texts, although Bradley’s book appears cited at the end of the report in the literature list. If I had been in Wegman’s place I would have included a couple of sentence explaining that, since Wegman himself is not a climate scientist, he had freely used material from this and that book to convey the necessary introduction for the policy makers. Honestly, I do not think this a big deal, and certainly not a cause for litigation – but what is not possible in paleoclimate science these days ?

As an entry to the dispute, I thought that it would be useful to analyze whether Wegman had in fact not included “citations in places that are commonly used in scientific texts”, by analysing both the report itself and several scientific texts or reports. I’ve also reviewed the original Deep Climate concordance of the tree ring subsection. I realize that there are issues related to Wegman’s exposition of social networks, but, given the detail that I like to examine things and my available time, I’m going to limit my analysis for now to the tree ring section that initially prompted DC’s analysis. To test Eduardo’s unfavorable contrast of Wegman’s citation of Bradley 1999 with practices “commonly used in scientific texts”, I’ve looked at corresponding practices in other “scientific texts”, including an article in which Eduardo himself was a coauthor.

Wegman References to Bradley
The section in dispute is section 2.1 of the Wegman Report entitled “Background on Paleoclimate Temperature Reconstruction”. This is a boilerplate description of proxies in which neither Mann et al 1998, 1999 nor the MM critiques are mentioned. Nothing in sections 3-5 nor any of the conclusions rely on this section. In section 2.1, Wegman cites Bradley no fewer than six times (Bradley 1999 four times; Bradley and Eddy 1991 twice), including the following closing direction concluding the subsection on Tree Rings:

See Bradley (1999) for a discussion of the fitting and calibration process for dendritic-based temperature reconstruction

Although Deep Climate had accused Wegman of not attributing his comments on tree rings as follows:

No attribution is given for this passage, although Bradley is cited for another section two pages earlier.

,

this is untrue or misleading on several counts. As noted above, the subsection on Tree Rings closes with an explicit reference to Bradley 1999, a style of reference that, as shown below, is not dissimilar to the corresponding reference in IPCC AR4 section 6.2. In addition, DC implies that Bradley is cited only once and in “another section”. In fact, as noted above, Bradley is cited not once and not in “another section”, but six times all in section 2.1 “Background on Paleoclimate Temperature Reconstruction”, as well as in the bibliography.

IPCC AR4 Section 6.2

IPCC section 6.2 entitled Paleoclimatic Methods is slightly longer (~1920 words) than Wegman section 2.1. It contains no references for statements in the running text. In its opening paragraph, it states, using a reference style not unlike Wegman’s reference to Bradley 1999 at the end of the Tree Ring subsection:

this methods section is designed to be more general, and to give readers more insight to and confidence in the findings of the chapter. Readers are referred to several useful books and special issues of journals for additional methodological detail (Bradley, 1999; Cronin, 1999; Fischer and Wefer, 1999; Ruddiman and Thomson, 2001; Alverson et al., 2003; Mackay et al., 2003; Kucera et al., 2005; NRC, 2006).

Oddly, Bradley 1999 in this context is unexpectedly not the textbook. (Perhaps this is an error, since Cronin 1999 is a rival textbook.)

This is presumably the sort of statement that Eduardo recommended and I agree that a sentence like this at the start of section 2.1 (rather than the less explicit reference language at the end of the Tree Ring subsection) would have been preferably. However, I doubt that any of the direct recipients or readers of the report were inconvenienced. However, to the extent that IPCC AR4 section 6.2 represents an example of citation practice “commonly used in scientific texts”, the running text otherwise contained virtually no references and does not show a relevant difference from Wegman.

NAS 2006 Overview
The NAS 2006 report on Surface Temperature Reconstructions contains a section in its Overview discussing proxies of almost identical length to Wegman section 2.1. It contains no references whatever, stating:

This Overview is written for a nontechnical audience and uses minimal referencing. The arguments and evidence to support the committee’s findings are discussed and referenced in Chapters 1–11.

The second sentence has to be read carefully: boilerplate observations in the Overview about proxies are not necessarily supported in Chapters 1-11. Again, the citation practices in the Overview do not impugn the practices in the Wegman report.

Bradley 1999
Here is a paragraph from Bradley 1999, which comes into play in the allegations against Wegman.

A cross section of most temperate forest trees will show an alternation of lighter and darker bands, each of which is usually continuous around the tree circumference. These are seasonal growth increments produced by meristematic tissues in the tree’s cambium. When viewed in detail (Fig. 10.1) it is clear that they are made up of sequences of large, thin-walled cells (earlywood) and more densely packed, thick-walled cells (latewood). Collectively, each couplet of earlywood and latewood comprises an annual growth increment, more commonly called a tree ring. The mean width of a ring in any one tree is a function of many variables, including the tree species, tree age, availability of stored food within the tree and of important nutrients in the soil, and a whole complex of climatic factors (sunshine, precipitation, temperature, wind speed, humidity, and their distribution througnout the year). The problem facing dendroclimatologists is to extract whatever climatic signal is available in the tree-ring data from the remaining background “noise”.

The caption to Figure 10, referenced in the above paragraph, stated:

The earlywood is made up of large and relatively thin-walled cells (tracheids); latewood is made up of small thick-walled tracheids.

Once again, there are no references and again, to the extent that this is representative of citation practices that Eduardo believes to be “commonly used in scientific texts”, this does not impugn the corresponding Wegman section.

Nor does Bradley 1999 avoid reference requirements because (contrary to Deep Climate’s assertion) its description of tree rings were somehow “seminal”. In fact, none of the above concepts are “original” to Bradley 1999. Bradley excluded references in this section not because the ideas were “seminal”, but because they were “common knowledge”. (See here for a discussion of plagiarism and “common knowledge”.) The fact that everything in this paragraph is “common knowledge” and not original to Bradley 1999 affects analysis of plagiarism. It’s hard to see how plagiarism of “common knowledge” can occur, only, at most, plagiarism of the form of expression of common knowledge.

Some language in Bradley 1999 was lifted almost directly from predecessor language, such as the following language from Lamarche 1975 (New Scientist), which is almost identical to corresponding language in Bradley 1999:

The earlywood is made up of large, thin-walled tracheid cells and the latewood, of smaller, thicker-walled cells.

Here one runs into the problem that there are only so many ways of expressing this idea. Virtually identical language recurs in Hatfield, Brooks, McKane 2003:

The earlywood is made of long thin-walled tracheid cells. .. Latewood is composed of small thick walled tracheid cells compressed tightly together that appear much darker in color.

To the extent that Bradley complains about a passage in Wegman expressing a similar point:

Each tree ring is composed of large thin-walled cells called early wood and smaller more densely packed thick walled cells called late wood.

one feels that the weight of Bradley’s complaint might be mitigated by the fact that Bradley had himself lifted similar language from a predecessor and that there are few ways of saying the point.

Oxford Companion to Global Change
The Oxford Companion to Global Change, edited by David J. Cuff and Andrew Goudie, contains a section entitled “Climate Reconstructions”, written by Larry Peterson (presumably here at the University of Miami.) The webpage here appears to be identical to the section in the book. It states:

Variations in tree-ring widths from one year to the next have long been recognized as an important source of chronological and climatic information. The mean width of a ring in any one tree is a function of many variables, including the tree species, tree age, availability of stored food within the tree and of important nutrients in the soil, and a whole complex of climatic factors (sunshine, precipitation, temperature, wind speed, humidity, and their distribution throughout the year).

Corresponding text in Bradley 1999 is as follows:

Variations in tree-ring widths from one year to the next have long been recognized as an important source of chronological and climatic information… The mean width of a ring in any one tree is a function of many variables, including the tree species, its age, the availability of stored nutrients in the tree and surrounding soil, and a host of climatic factors, including temperature, precipitation and availability of sunlight.

The language is obviously either identical or negligibly paraphrased. Bradley 1999 is listed in the references to this topic, but was not directly cited in the running text.

Climate Change Study Guide and Enviropedia
The Climate Change Study Guide, written by Joe Buchdahl, online here contains the language shown below. The wording in the online Enviropedia is identical.

A cross section of most temperate forest tree trunks16 will reveal an alternation of lighter and darker bands, each of which is usually continuous around the tree circumference. These are seasonal growth increments produced by meristematic tissues in the cambium of the tree. Each seasonal increment consists of a couplet of earlywood (a light growth band from the early part of the growing season) and denser latewood (a dark band produced towards the end of the growing season), and collectively they make up the tree ring. The mean width of the tree ring is a function of many variables, including the tree species, tree age, soil nutrient availability, and a whole host of climatic factors (Bradley, 1985). The problem facing the dendroclimatologist is to extract whatever climatic signal17 is available in the tree-ring data from the remaining background “noise” (Fritts, 1976).

The corresponding text from Bradley 1999 is as follows:

A cross section of most temperate forest trees will show an alternation of lighter and darker bands, each of which is usually continuous around the tree circumference. These are seasonal growth increments produced by meristematic tissues in the tree’s cambium. When viewed in detail (Fig. 10.1) it is clear that they are made up of sequences of large, thin-walled cells (earlywood) and more densely packed, thick-walled cells (latewood). Collectively, each couplet of earlywood and latewood comprises an annual growth increment, more commonly called a tree ring. The mean width of a ring in any one tree is a function of many variables, including the tree species, tree age, availability of stored food within the tree and of important nutrients in the soil, and a whole complex of climatic factors (sunshine, precipitation, temperature, wind speed, humidity, and their distribution througnout the year). The problem facing dendroclimatologists is to extract whatever climatic signal is available in the tree-ring data from the remaining background “noise”.

The language is virtually identical. It’s intriguing that the Enviropedia version references Fritts 1976 for a point where Bradley 1999 has no reference.

Luterbacher et al 2010
This next interesting example was spotted by WUWT reader ZT here and involves Eduardo and a number of other prominent climate scientists, including Phil Jones. Luterbacher et al 2010, url, “Climate Change in Poland in the Past Centuries and its Relationship to European Climate: Evidence from Reconstructions and Coupled Climate Models” is chapter 1 of R. Przybylak et al. (eds.), The Polish Climate in the European Context: An Historical Overview. Coauthors are Jürg Luterbacher, Elena Xoplaki, Marcel Küttel, Eduardo Zorita, Jesus Fidel González-Rouco, Phil D. Jones, Marco Stössel, This Rutishauser, Heinz Wanner, Joanna Wibig and Rajmund Przybylak.

It commences as follows:

The knowledge of climate and its variability during the past centuries can improve our understanding of natural climate variability and also help to address the question of whether modern climate change is unprecedented in a long-term context (Folland et al. 2001; Jansen et al. 2007; Hegerl et al. 2007; Mann et al. 2008 and references therein). The lack of widespread instrumental climate records introduces the need for the use of natural climate archives from ‘proxy’ data such as tree-rings, corals, speleothems and ice cores, as well as documentary evidence to reconstruct climate in past centuries (see Jones et al. 2009 for a review). The focus of many previous proxy data studies has been hemispheric or global mean temperature (see Jansen et al. 2007; Mann et al. 2008 and references therein), although some studies have also attempted to reconstruct the underlying large-scale spatial patterns of past surface temperature and precipitation changes at continental scales.

This introduction is, shall we say, “remarkably similar” (TM- climate science) to the opening paragraph of Mann et al 2008, which reads:

Knowledge of climate during past centuries can both improve our understanding of natural climate variability and help address the question of whether modern climate change is unprecedented in a long-term context (1 [Folland et al 2001]; 2 – [Jansen et al 2007]). The lack of widespread instrumental climate records before the mid 19th century, however, necessitates the use of natural climate archives or ‘‘proxy’’ data such as tree-rings, corals, and ice cores and historical documentary records to reconstruct climate in past centuries. Many previous proxy data studies have emphasized hemispheric or global mean temperature (3–14), although some studies have also attempted to reconstruct the underlying spatial patterns of past surface temperature changes at global (15, 16) and regional (6, 17, 18) scales.”

The DC Concordance
After considering the above precedents in climate science literature, let’s re-evaluate the allegations about the tree ring section of Wegman, as originally framed at Deep Climate here here and here, together with DC’s concordance of the two texts here.

DC summarizes the results of his comparison as follows:

Total words: 702. Striking similarity (SS) 67%, Trivial Changes/identical (TC+ID): 51%, Identical (ID): 38%. Issues: 8 major, 3 minor Regular font indicates substantially close wording between the two sources, italic represent paraphrased sections, bold represents significant departures of Wegman et al from Bradley, and bold italic represent points of outright contradiction between the two. Paragraphs have been reformatted for easy comparison. Passages with changes that introduce various issues have been underlined, but for the most part not analyzed at present.

DC’s calculations cannot be taken at face value. Without any doubt, a portion of the Wegman discussion on Tree Rings contains language that is “substantially similar” to Bradley 1999, but the majority of the subsection is expressed in
Wegman’s paraphrase and includes specific points of disagreement ( indeed, DC takes particular umbrage at such disagreement.)

I’ll go through his concordance in reverse order, since the issues diminish as one goes through the article. In DC’s concordance, regular face shows “substantially close wording”, italics paraphrase and bold “points of outright contradiction”. It seems impossible “points of outright contradiction” to also be plagiarism. In representing DC’s concordance below, I’ve accordingly modified his conventions, showing the alleged points of “substantial similarity” in italics.

Wegman para 3
Here is the first part of Wegman paragraph 3, the first three sentences of which were classified by DC as being “substantially similar” to Bradley and the last sentence a “point of contradiction”.

Wider rings are frequently produced during the early life of a tree. Thus the tree rings frequently contain a low frequency signal that is unrelated to climate or, at least, confounded with climatic effects such as temperature. In order to use tree rings as a temperature signal successfully, this low frequency component must be removed. This is typically done by a nonlinear parametric trend fit using a polynomial or modified exponential curve. Because the early history of tree rings confounds climatic signal with low frequency specimen specific signal, tree rings are not usually effective for accurately determining low frequency, longer term effects.

Here is the corresponding excerpt from Bradley sections 10.2.3 in the concordance, unquoted portion marked in square brackets. The overlap between Wegman and Bradley here is nothing like the corresponding situations in Luterbacher et al 2010 or the Oxford Companion to Global Change.

It is common for time series of ring widths to contain a low frequency component resulting entirely from the tree growth itself, with wider rings generally produced during the early life of the tree. In order that ring-width variations from different cores can be compared, it is first necessary to remove the growth function peculiar to that particular tree. Only then can a master chronology be constructed from multiple cores. Growth functions are removed by fitting a curve to the data and dividing each measured ring width value by the “expected” value on the growth curve (Fig. 10.9). Commonly, a negative exponential function, or a lowpass digital filter is applied to the data. [Cook et al 1990 recommend that a cubic-smoothing spline be used, one in which the 50% frequency response equals ~75% of the record length(n). This means that the low frequency variations in the data with a period >0.75 n] are largely removed from the standardized data, so the analyst then has an explicit understanding of the frequency domain that the resulting series represents (Cook and Peters 1981).]

Wegman paragraph 3 continues as follows, with only the last sentence being classified by DC as “substantially similar” to Bradley. In fact, it is nothing of the sort as the last sentence is a reference to Bradley.

Once there is reasonable confidence that the tree ring signal reflects a temperature signal, and then a calibration is performed using the derived tree ring data and instrumented temperature data. The assumption in this inference is that when tree ring structure observed during the instrumented period that is similar to tree ring structure observed in the past, both will have correspondingly similar temperature profiles. As pointed out earlier, many different sets of climatic conditions can and do yield similar tree ring profiles. Thus tree ring proxy data alone is not sufficient to determine past climate variables. See Bradley (1999) for a discussion of the fitting and calibration process for dendritic-based temperature reconstruction.

The excerpt from Bradley 10.2.4 matched by DC is shown below. Wegman’s language is clearly not derivative from Bradley, with Wegman differing on some points.

Once a master chronology of standardized ring-width indices has been obtained, the next step is to develop a model relating variations in these indices to variations in climatic data. This process is known as calibration, whereby a statistical procedure is used to find the optimum solution for converting growth measurements into climatic estimates. If an equation can be developed that accurately describes instrumentally observed climatic variability in terms of tree growth over the same interval, then paleoclimatic reconstructions can be made using only the tree-ring data. In this section, a brief summary of the methods used in tree-ring calibration is given.

If Wegman paragraph 3 sets a precedent for “plagiarism”, it would be a wide net indeed.

Wegman paragraph 2
The first part of Wegman paragraph 2 (italicized here) is classified by DC as “substantially similar” to Bradley, while he classifies the second part somewhat inconsistently as both a paraphrase and a “point of contradiction”.

Climate signal is strongest in trees that are under stress. Trees growing in sites where climate does not limit growth tend to produce rings that are uniform. Trees that are growing close to their extreme ecological range are greatly influenced by climate. Climate variations strongly influence annual growth increments. Two types of stress are commonly recognized, moisture stress and temperature stress. Trees growing in semiarid regions are limited by water availability and thus variations in ring width reflect this climatic moisture signal. Trees growing near to their ecological limits either in terms of latitude or altitude show growth limitations imposed by temperature and thus ring width variations in such trees contain a relatively strong temperature signal. However, the biological processes are extremely complex so that very different combinations of climatic conditions may cause similar ring width increments.

Photosynthetic processes are accelerated with the increased availability of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and, hence, it is conjectured that ring growth would also be correlated with atmospheric carbon dioxide; see Graybill and Idso (1993). In addition, oxides of nitrogen are formed in internal combustion engines that can be deposited as nitrates also contributing to fertilization of plant materials. It is clear that while there are temperature signals in the tree rings, the temperature signals are confounded with many other factors including fertilization effects due to use of fossil fuels.

The excerpt from Bradley 10.2.1 matched by DC to this section is as follows:

In conventional dendroclimatological studies, where ring-width variations are the source of climatic information, trees are sampled in sites where they are under stress; commonly, this involves selection of trees that are growing close to their extreme ecological range. In such situations, climatic variations will greatly influence annual growth increments and the trees are said to be sensitive. In more beneficent situations, perhaps nearer the middle of a species range, or in a site where the tree has access to abundant groundwater, tree growth may not be noticeably influenced by climate, and this will be reflected in the low interannual variability of ring widths (Fig. 10.3)…

In marginal environments, two types of climatic stress are commonly recognized, moisture stress and temperature stress. Trees growing in semiarid areas are frequently limited by the availability of water, and ring-width variations primarily reflect this variable. Trees growing near to the latitudinal or altitudinal treeline are mainly under growth limitations imposed by temperature and hence ring-width variations in such trees contain a strong temperature signal.

However, other climatic factors may be indirectly involved. Biological processes within the tree are extremely complex (Fig. 10.4) and similar growth increments may result from quite different combinations of climatic conditions.

While the second half of the Wegman paragraph is not matched within Bradley, the Wegman sentences commencing “Trees growing in semiarid regions…” and “Trees growing near to their ecological limits…” are slightly paraphrased versions of the corresponding Bradley sentences, as is the sentence about “biological processes”. The points are all “common knowledge”.

Wegman paragraph 1 second half
Except for one sentence, the second half of Wegman paragraph 1 is classified by DC as “substantially similar”:

Temperature information is usually derived from interannual variations in the ring width as well as interannual and intra-annual density variations. Density variations are valuable in paleoclimatic temperature reconstructions because they have a relatively simple growth function that, in mature trees, is approximately linear with age. The density variations have been shown empirically to contain a strong climatic temperature signal. Two values of density are measured within each growth ring: minimum density representing early wood and maximum density representing late wood. Maximum density values are strongly correlated with April to August mean temperatures in trees across the boreal forest from Alaska to Labrador, Schweingruber et al., (1993). Both tree ring width and density data are used in combination to extract the maximal climatic temperature signal.

The corresponding excerpt from Bradley 10.2 is shown below, with elisions in the DC concordance added back in square brackets.

Climatic information has most often been gleaned from interannual variations in ring width, but there has also been a great deal of work carried out on the use of density variations, both inter- and intra-annually (densitometric dendroclimatology). Wood density is an integrated measure of several properties, including cell wall thickness, lumen diameter, size and density of vessels or ducts, proportion of fiber etc. Polge 1970. Tree rings are made up of both earlywood and latewood, which vary markedly in average density and these density variations can be used, like ring width measurements to identify annual growth increments and to crossdate samples Parker 1971. ] It has also been shown empirically that density variations contain a strong climatic signal and can be used to estimate long-term climatic variations over wide areas (Schweingruber et al., 1979,1993).[ Density variations are measured on x-ray negatives of prepared core sections (Fig 10.2) and the optical density of the negatives is inversely proportional to wood density (Schweingruber et al 1978).

Density variations are particularly valuable in dendroclimatology because they have a relatively simple growth function (often close to linear with age). [Hence standardization of density data may allow more low-frequency climatic information to be retained than is the case with standardized ring width data (see section 10.2.3).] Generally, two values are measured in each growth ring: minimum density and maximum density (representing locations within the earlywood and latewood layers, respectively), although maximum density values seem to be a better climatic indicator than minimum density. For example, Schweingruber et al. (1993) showed that maximum density values were strongly correlated with April-August mean temperature in trees across the entire boreal forest, from Alaska to Labrador, whereas minimum and mean density values and ring widths had a much less consistent relationship with summer temperature at the sites sampled (D’Arrigo et al.,1992). [Maximum latewood density values are calibrated in the same way as with the ring width data using the statistical procedures described in section 10.2.4.] However, optimum climatic reconstructions may be achieved by using both ring widths and densitometric data to maximize the climatic signal in each sample (Briffa et al., 1995).

This is not word-for-word lifting like Luterbacher et al 2010, though the section is clearly derivative.

Wegman paragraph 1 first half
The most problematic portion is the opening half of Wegman’s paragraph 1, which, rather ironically, is precisely the same text implicated in the Oxford Companion to Global Change, the Climate Change Study Guide and Enviropedia. Wegman;

A cross section of a temperate forest tree shows variation of lighter and darker bands that are usually continuous around the circumference of the tree. These bands are the so-called tree rings and are due to seasonal effects. Each tree ring is composed of large thin-walled cells called early wood and smaller more densely packed thick walled cells called late wood. The average width of a tree ring is a function of many variables including the tree species, tree age, stored carbohydrates in the tree, nutrients in the soil, and climatic factors including sunlight, precipitation, temperature, wind speed, humidity, and even carbon dioxide availability in the atmosphere. Obviously there are many confounding factors so the problem is to extract the temperature signal and to distinguish the temperature signal from the noise caused by the many confounding factors.

This is clearly derivative from the corresponding Bradley text (shown below), with a few sentences essentially identical. Paraphrasing is light to non-existent.

A cross section of most temperate forest trees will show an alternation of lighter and darker bands, each of which is usually continuous around the tree circumference. These are seasonal growth increments produced by meristematic tissues in the tree’s cambium. When viewed in detail (Fig. 10.1) it is clear that they are made up of sequences of large, thin-walled cells (earlywood) and more densely packed, thick-walled cells (latewood). Collectively, each couplet of earlywood and latewood comprises an annual growth increment, more commonly called a tree ring. The mean width of a ring in any one tree is a function of many variables, including the tree species, tree age, availability of stored food within the tree and of important nutrients in the soil, and a whole complex of climatic factors (sunshine, precipitation, temperature, wind speed, humidity, and their distribution
througnout the year). The problem facing dendroclimatologists is to extract whatever climatic signal is available in the tree ring data and to distinguish this signal from the background noise.

Conclusion

“Plagiarism” is not an issue that arises in business situations. “Boilerplate” is regularly recycled in securities offerings. Lawyers prefer to use proven language rather than take risks with irrelevant paraphrasing. See here for a discussion of the peculiarly academic nature of “plagiarism”. The concern of academics over plagiarism appears to arise primarily out of a desire to stake out a sort of property right, as opposed to protection of the public.

Plagiarism cases involving academic staff typically seem to involve incidents where one academic is accused of appropriating another’s idea for the purpose of advancement, rather than the form of language used to express “common knowledge” (boilerplate, so to speak), although the latter seems to be a very common issue among undergraduates. See here for an interesting discussion observing that standards of appropriateness for referencing may vary by situation.

Without detailed study of plagiarism cases, I can’t express an opinion on how much lifting of boilerplate language is countenanced under academic practices.

If it is zero-tolerance, then Bradley 1999 is itself guilty, since Bradley lifted at least some boilerplate language from a predecessor article (Lamarche 1975) and perhaps there are other examples within Bradley 1999.

The most problematic portion is the opening half of Wegman’s paragraph 1, which, rather ironically, is precisely the same text implicated in the Oxford Companion to Global Change, the Climate Change Study Guide and Enviropedia. The amount of lifted text appears to be about the same order of magnitude as the amounted lifted by Luterbacher et al 2010. Citation of the lifted articles was worse in the other articles than in Wegman.

Interestingly, Bradley is an “aggrieved” party to all five incidents. Since Bradley is involved in all five incidents, if his concern is about plagiarism, as opposed to exacting revenge on someone who had the temerity to criticize MBH, then he should be filing complaints against the authors and editors of the Oxford Companion to Global Change ( Larry Peterson, David Cuff, Goudie), the authors and editors of the Climate Change Study Guide and Enviropedia (Joe Buchdahl and others) and the coauthors of Luterbacher et al 2010: Jürg Luterbacher, Elena Xoplaki, Marcel Küttel, Eduardo Zorita, Jesus Fidel González-Rouco, Phil D. Jones, Marco Stössel, This Rutishauser, Heinz Wanner, Joanna Wibig, and Rajmund Przybylak.

Since Bradley has taken the position that plagiarism allegations should be pursued even in what Zorita regarded as a rather minor situation, this certainly opens the door for pursuit of incidents where Team authors have “used the ideas or words of [Climate Audit] without giving appropriate credit”, even such incidents as Gavin the International Man of Mystery, Mann’s SI changes, the Kaufman Corrigendum and Hansen’s He Who Must Not Be Named.

And if Bradley is sincerely committed to the extirpation and punishment of plagiarism, then he should also file a complaint against Wahl and Ammann, who plagiarized the reply of Mann, Bradley and Hughes to our 2004 Nature submission (the reply was also summarized in various realclimate posts). I’ve previously alluded to this plagiarism incident in passing, but will discuss it in more detail on another occasion. Standing to file such a complaint is not limited to the direct victims of the plagiarism (Mann, Bradley and Hughes), but can be filed by anyone.

Perhaps the best way to honor Bradley’s newfound anti-plagiarism zeal would be for someone to file a plagiarism complaint against Wahl and Ammann, taking care to recognize Bradley’s anti-plagiarism commitment in the covering letter.

225 Comments

  1. pax
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 4:57 PM | Permalink

    I can’t help feeling that this is a massive waste of time. Who cares, really…

    • windansea
      Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 5:04 PM | Permalink

      it’s worth defending Wegman, the alarmists can’t refute his math so they try to smear him with this

  2. windansea
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 5:03 PM | Permalink

    nicely done as usual Mc

  3. Sara Chan
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 5:06 PM | Permalink

    A picky point…. Should “Although Deep Climate had accused Bradley of not attributing his comments on tree rings as follows” be “Although Deep Climate had accused Wegman of not attributing his comments on tree rings as follows” ?

    Steve – yep. fixed.

  4. David S
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 5:06 PM | Permalink

    Thanks Steve. Your attention to detail is remarkable. Let’s hope that somehow one or two of the media commentators who ignored the Wegman report but wrote up Bradley’s allegations can be persuaded to take a slightly more rounded view.

  5. Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 5:20 PM | Permalink

    Wow … very well done, Steve. It seems to me that “The Team” isn’t doing very well at all these days; it’s as though you grabbed the puck and left them flailing on the ice as you scored goal after goal into an unguarded net!

    When will they ever learn, eh?!

    • justbeau
      Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 8:45 PM | Permalink

      Nice, thanks.

  6. Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

    Steve,
    Your readers might have a better idea of what really happened here if you pointed to my detailed comparison of Wegman and Bradley on tree-rings:

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/12/22/wegman-and-rapp-on-tree-rings-a-divergence-problem-part-1/

    The updated side-by-side comparison is here:

    http://deepclimate.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/wegman-bradley-tree-rings-v20.pdf

    There is no indication whatsoever that this very long passage, clearly copied for the most part from Bradley, comes from that source. Also note the underlined portions; these denote errors where slight changes have introduced errors, due to incompetence or bias.

    The sections on ice cores and corals are also largely copied from Bradley.

    http://deepclimate.org/2010/01/06/wegman-and-rapp-on-proxies-a-divergence-problem-part-2/

    http://deepclimate.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/wegman-bradley-ice-cores-corals-v2.pdf

    Once again, there was no attribution.

  7. Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 5:40 PM | Permalink

    Steve, your forensics are terrific!

    Just a marginal extra thought.

    The purpose of the Wegman Report was to evaluate work by Raymond Bradley and others. In so doing there could be no profit in “plagiarising” Bradley by means of paraphrases, since Wegman’s purpose was to critique Bradley, not promote Bradley’s work as if it was Wegman’s own work.

    The Wegman Report is similar to a book review, and it would be absurd if every author sued all reviewers for plagiarism when they merely summarise the book under review’s plot and characterisations.

    The final section of Wegman includes detailed summaries of various works by or co-authored by Bradley, but Mashey e.g. at p.212 and by implication Bradley infer that possibly inaccurate or incomplete summaries by Wegman of a paper like MBH 1998 clearly cited at the top of the page constitute plagiarism. That is another absurdity.

    Bradley’s complaints should have been dismissed out of hand by GMU, and I believe there is a case to be made that Wegman should sue Mashey and Bradley.

    • ad
      Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 6:03 PM | Permalink

      Wegman should sue DeepClimate as well for insinuating that Rapp ghost-write the Wegman Report.

  8. oneuniverse
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 5:59 PM | Permalink

    Sterling work, thank you, and I imagine also on behalf of Wegman et al.

    My only worry is that now you’ve written up the evidence, the University will ignore it following the fashion of recent regulatory investigations of climate scientists.

  9. Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 6:01 PM | Permalink

    I see now that you did point to the detailed discussion. However, the other three references are no doubt useful.

    • sleeper
      Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 7:08 PM | Permalink

      Re: Deep Climate (Oct 12 18:01),

      DC-
      Over at Lucia’s I posted a question for you that I’m assuming you didn’t see, so I’ll re-post it here:

      While conducting your exhaustive investigation of Wegman, I’m sure you must have examined some or all of his research papers looking for other instances of plagiarism. You know, the pattern-of-behavior thing. What did you find?

      • SOI
        Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 9:09 PM | Permalink

        Sleeper,

        Great question. Come on Deep Climate, what is your answer?

        • Carrick
          Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 9:15 PM | Permalink

          I think he did and there were… if I remember correctly, it tracks with his coauthor Said. Perhaps DC can expand on this.

        • Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

          I think DC/Mashey only looked at material relating to the Wegman Report. But yes, on Mashey p 119 et seq, he looks at a paper by Said, Wegman et al published 2008 in the journal Computational Statistics & Data Analysis. It is on the social networking material from the WR, and contains some of the same pasted text from Wikipedia, as well as from the books of DeNooy and of Wasserman.

  10. Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 6:02 PM | Permalink

    Dear Dr. McIntyre:

    I have admired your work for years and I hope you continue unabated.

    However, I am disappointed that the climateaudit.org website is playing into the hands of the hockeystickers by joining in the chorus of those more interested in the petty comparisons of wording, than they are in the fact that leading paleoclimatologists, Al Gore and U. N. have perpetrated misinformation on the world at large, which may in the end cost all of us trillions of dollars. And while you at climatreaudit.org and Wegman have shown that the hockey stick is false, they continue to purvey it to our schoolchildren and the public at large.

    T R C Curtin is right on target. There was nothing to be gained by Wegman. He was clearly reviewing Bradley’s work and he was reviewing it negatively. That is manifest. Plagiarism involves taking credit for work that you think is valuable.

    The hockeystickers have also accused me of plagiarizing Wegman, even though my book (Assessing Climate Change) has over 400 direct quotes with attribution (including quite a few from climateaudit.org) and over 1,400 specific references to about 400 references. It also includes 12 specific attributions of passages to Wegman. Wegman himself has specified that he is perfectly happy with my coverage of his work.

    The truth is that the hockeystickers have no technical answers for the criticism by you or that of Wegman, but they will try to find means of discrediting those who spread the word of their errors by means of personal attacks.

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 8:11 PM | Permalink

      “Plagiarism involves taking credit for work that you think is valuable. ”

      This is the essence, though I would have used “… work reported by others, that you think is valuable” in this context.

      We meet plagiarism in photography – maybe it’s increasing as more people get into digital manipulation. As a part-time person examining this for a Society, no big deal, our group uses the guideline “Was the act committed with intent to gain an unfair benefit?” It’s not a legal guideline, but it’s a useful way to select examples that will proceed.

      “Intent” is the key word.

    • stephen richards
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 3:58 AM | Permalink

      Donald

      Weel said, well expressed.

    • Dave H
      Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 2:55 AM | Permalink

      > There was nothing to be gained by Wegman.

      Yes there was – credibility. The report set out to criticise many aspects of MBH, and climatology as a whole but was written by authors with no prior experience in this field. When the supporting material which purports to demonstrate an understanding of the very thing they are criticising turns out to have sections that not only appear to have been copy-pasted, but also with *errors* introduced during rewording, the credibility of the authors grasp of the fundamentals takes a knock. Why should anybody believe the authors have a clear grasp of the basics, let alone enough expertise to provide a meaningful critique, if those basics are not expressed in the authors’ own words?

      • Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 7:00 AM | Permalink

        Re: Dave H (Oct 14 02:55), You can argue “credibility” for exactly the opposite scenario. In Jeff Id’s comparison of texts, my impression is that Wegman reworded in a way that (a) showed he had grasped the concepts (b) avoided language that other auditors checking his work, and needing a tutorial in the basics, might not understand so easily. That, it seems to me, would represent a good habit which every competent auditor should develop.

        • Dave H
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 1:17 AM | Permalink

          I’m making the simple point that Donald Rapp is wrong to claim that the allegations are absurd on their face because Wegman stood to gain nothing. This stance is unsupportable – he clearly stood to gain something. That you claim to have read his work and come away with the impression of credibility in this area just proves my point.

      • Dave Dardinger
        Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 8:38 AM | Permalink

        Re: Dave H (Oct 14 02:55),

        When the supporting material which purports to demonstrate an understanding of the very thing they are criticising turns out to have sections that not only appear to have been copy-pasted, but also with *errors* introduced during rewording, the credibility of the authors grasp of the fundamentals takes a knock.

        I’ve been somewhat avoiding this subject since while it’s gaining some traction now, it’s been around for quite a while. But this is a point which could use some examination. Would you be so kind as to copy (with attribution, if you feel it necessary), something from DC which provides such an error in the changes from Bradley’s original which you think is material? I know I could go myself, but when answering a charge, it’s always advisable to look first at what your adversary thinks is his/her strongest point.

  11. ZT
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 6:10 PM | Permalink

    Some more “copyings” which Bradley might want to investigate – if he were interested

    1)

    Original – has Bradley as a coauthor:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=8J-rKogtXPwC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q&f=false

    The copy – does not – and I don’t believe that the original (if that is what it is) is cited. The introduction is copied:
    http://doc.rero.ch/lm.php?url=1000,42,2,20050719132815-TU/1_beniston_smr.pdf

    2)

    Original Bradley, 1999 text:http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_T92Z7M_4jDc/TLPyeUV8X3I/AAAAAAAAAUM/vz_YbBwyS4o/s1600/bradley1999.PNG

    Finds a new home in a paper on Chinese climate http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_T92Z7M_4jDc/TLPyLoaaRiI/AAAAAAAAAUE/UqZxd3xdEXY/s1600/xing.PNG

    3)

    And an example where Bradley seems to have borrowed some text from an earlier work from another author (without attribution, though Bradley is listed as a contributor to the 2007 report):
    Original, Vuille, 2007:
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_T92Z7M_4jDc/TLPu-OK2mdI/AAAAAAAAAT0/pKoeIgA0TxQ/s1600/Vuille2007.PNG

    Vuille, Bradley, and others, 2008:
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_T92Z7M_4jDc/TLPu1ZSZBBI/AAAAAAAAATs/HSn31PKgb_I/s1600/Vuille2008.PNG

    So, it appears that even Bradley borrows earlier text.

    I agree with Steve that copying and pasting text from one paper to the next is not exactly a huge concern. From my limited look into this, it appears to be a rather common activity in climatology. On the face of it, I might have thought that it would be possible to find more constructive things to do with their time and grant money – but what do I know of climatology?

    (Apologies in advance if I have not put the links in correctly above…)

    • Watchman
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 6:38 AM | Permalink

      This is autoplagiarism – the unattributed use of material by the same author. It is worryingly common in academia because it does not carry the same stigma, which is odd, because it is a recognised disciplinary offence for students…

  12. PDA
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 6:10 PM | Permalink

    Wegman paragraph 3 continues as follows, with only the last sentence being classified by DC as “substantially similar” to Bradley. In fact, it is nothing of the sort

    That would certainly seem to be an erratum, as he notes:

    Wegman’s final passage discusses calibration of the proxy to the instrumental record, before pointing to Bradley (finally) for further information. Just before that, though, we have this extraordinary, unattributed (and unsubstantiated) statement:

    As pointed out earlier, many different sets of climatic conditions can and do yield similar tree ring profiles. Thus tree ring proxy data alone is not sufficient to determine past climate variables.

    Interestingly, the last sentence above seems to be taken from Rapp and spliced in there.

    he classifies the second part somewhat inconsistently as both a paraphrase and a “point of contradiction”.

    I don’t get this – DC has no typographic indication for something that is both a paraphrase and a contradiction. One section is paraphrased and one section is contradictory, and both are clearly marked.

  13. John M
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 6:24 PM | Permalink

    I note that some were cheering that Elsevier (the publisher of Bradley’s book) might have gotten involved with the complaint to GMU on the basis of copyright infringement.

    Climate scientists shouldn’t be too happy about this. It’s not just a matter of “fairness” that copyright laws be applied uniformally, it’s legally required.

    http://mediamatters.org/strupp/201005070024

    So the “get Wegman” campaign may actually end up grinding up some other highly published “academics”.

    • John M
      Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 6:35 PM | Permalink

      Well, I guess my reference pertains to political campaigns, so may not be relevant here. Of course, based on something I just read in WaPo by a climate scientist…

  14. Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 6:30 PM | Permalink

    Nice work Steve. The reality is that when writing elementary material there are only so many ways of saying it. We run into the issue at the university. You have to cite sources and not present someone else’s work as your own, but close paraphrases with attribution to source are hard to avoid in some cases. I have had cases like this go through the process of examination for plagiarism. In one case when the source was cited but verbatim quotes were not indicated, it was deemed not a violation. In another a finding of plagiarism was made, because the student was using source wording in a context where original wording was implied, and sourcing was not adequate.

    The last 50 pages of the Mashey report only serve to show that the summaries of the underlying papers made liberal use of the original wording in those papers. In each case the paper was identified and the discussion was entitled a “summary”. Using the author’s own wording is arguably the best way to ensure accuracy in the summary, and in the context nobody could have inferred that the Wegman team was claiming authorship. Although it would have been possible to enclose in quotes everything being quoted, it would have made the material very choppy and unreadable. To find exact equivalents in wording just for the sake of novelty would have been unnecessarily time consuming, and then would have opened them up to accusations of not getting the nuances correct.

  15. ben
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 6:30 PM | Permalink

    Devastating. More absurdity from the Team. Exposed yet again. When will they learn?

  16. Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 6:35 PM | Permalink

    The intent is pretty clear. The method was pre-meditated, so to speak, as Rapp points out above.

    ‘Plagiarism’ is a punishable offence, inside academia. If the Wegman report can be framed as academic output and stuffed through the needle’s eye of ‘plagiarism’, material consequences can be extracted, which can then be used to discredit the analytic content and conclusions of the report.

    Examine the converse situation. When the IPCC report was caught out replicating chunks of text from sources of shady repute, no one accused it of plagiarism. The context defined what everyone understood instinctively. A report such as Wegman’s on the IPCC’s, which is by definition a secondary work, examining other primary sources, can be adorned with ‘plagiarized’ material – it makes no difference.

    • John A
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 1:51 PM | Permalink

      The intent is clear from Mashey’s introduction to his screed:

      …the real missions [of the Wegman Report] were: #1 claim the hockey stick broken and #2 discredit climate science as a whole.
      All this was a façade for a PR campaign well-honed by Washington, DC thinktanks and allies, under way for years.

      …in other words part of a vast scary conspiracy (Steve and Ross included as willing dupes).

      What is it about some computer scientists who think that because they have a PhD, they can pontificate about other sciences they haven’t studied and construct bizarre fantasies of scientific adequacy?

  17. Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

    There is one section of the Mashey report that I think raises points that need to be answered (on which more when I post my response). The rest is obsessive conspiratorial ranting. The 3-minute summary of Mashey is right here.

    • Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 9:45 PM | Permalink

      you both have more patients than I ever will. Mashey’s “report” is unintelligible to me in several instances. It was so bad that I simply gave up after a half hour. No posts at tAV from me because I don’t plan to live that long.

      • Steven Mosher
        Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 10:42 PM | Permalink

        It was Nash like

        • j ferguson
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 6:45 AM | Permalink

          Ogden or kelvinator?

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 12:36 PM | Permalink

          john

  18. Günther Kirschbaum
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

    Perhaps the best way to honor Bradley’s newfound anti-plagiarism zeal would be for someone to file a plagiarism complaint against Wahl and Ammann, taking care to recognize Bradley’s anti-plagiarism commitment in the covering letter.

    Woof woof!

  19. Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 8:15 PM | Permalink

    Plagiarism is primarily the appropriation of another’s IDEA as your own. Wegman did a poor job of citation for a scientific paper and an advocacy book, but that is not what the history or intent of plagiarism rules were meant for. Nobody in the US congress would pre-suppose, or unless politically necessary, accept that Wegman was representing the basics of paleoclimatology or social networking as his own efforts. Instead, it was a summary for their reading.

    BTW Steve McIntyre Oilers just knocked out Ivanans of the Calgary Flames. A little Canadian know-how rearing it’s head?

    • AlanG
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 2:25 AM | Permalink

      Talking about ice hockey – the Team should never have waved a hockey stick at a Canadian. It’s personal with those guys. Eh?

    • Patrick M.
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 7:59 AM | Permalink

      “Steve McIntyre Oilers just knocked out Ivanans of the Calgary Flames”

      A HA! I knew there was a connection to “big oil”!!!

  20. Ron Cram
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 8:27 PM | Permalink

    Excellent job, Steve. I remember the Hockey Team saying the Climategate emails were completely innocent when seen in context. But when you showed the context, the emails were even more damning. Here is Bradley on his high-horse about Wegman plagiarism when Bradley stole the same passage from Climate Change Study Guide! It is very like a Monty Python skit “Hey, I stole it first!” Even funnier, CCSG cited Fritts and Bradley didn’t even credit Fritts!

    What Deep Climate has a hold of here is a dead parrot. I pity the ineptitude.

    Steve: Climate Change Study Guide got the text from Bradley – probably an earlier edition. The additional Fritts citation is a dig here. Someone needs to look to see if older editions of Bradley had a reference.

    • B Adams
      Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 9:11 PM | Permalink

      It is understandably difficult to shoot straight when riding a moving high-horse.

    • Ron Cram
      Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 10:49 PM | Permalink

      Steve, I see you are correct. That does take some of the fun out of it for me, but still, if Bradley is going to go after plagiarism he (or anyone else I gather) is going to embarrass some Bradley friends.

  21. Bernie
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

    Excellent work Steve. Mashey’s piece was utterly confusing. It will go down as a case example of obfuscation. My sense, based on a somewhat cryptic statemnt attributed to Wegman, is that Wegman may be launching some of his own litigation.

  22. EdeF
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 9:59 PM | Permalink

    Wegman was trying to explain some routine elements of climate science. He made no attempt to take credit for this. He was doing a public service.

  23. hunter
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 10:08 PM | Permalink

    Now it is time to shove the vast library of IPCC, CRU, Hansen, Schmidt, Gore, Ehrlich, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. through and look for ‘borrowed phrases’, unattributed cut-n-pastes, and such in the AGW promotion industry.
    It is nice to find out, years after the fact, that Wegman wrote something worth paying attention to. The AGW community pretended for years it did not exist. Now they are admitting it does. And all they can do is whine about how a non-academic paper was not written to academic standards.
    Watching the AGW social movement run off the rails is the bestest entertainment ever.

  24. Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 10:21 PM | Permalink

    I have never met Wegman personally but having read his report and having read much of the writings and postings by the Team, I suspect they will sincerely regret opening this attack. I doubt that Wegman is intimidated: indeed, I think the familiar maxim concerning bricks and glass houses may soon find a new appropriation — I would have repeated the maxim itself, but wasn’t sure whom to cite as primary source!

  25. DG
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 10:34 PM | Permalink

    One would think Wegman is running for Congress and his incumbent opponent knows the voters are about to boot his keister out, so why not accuse the new guy of everything and anything in hopes the voters will turn against the “extremist”.

  26. Tom Fuller
    Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 11:21 PM | Permalink

    Mashey accuses you and McKitrick of ‘being recruited, trained and funded by the George Marshall Institute.’ Over at Collide a Scape he tried to provide his justification for that accusation. I think you have been libeled.

    • Günther Kirschbaum
      Posted Oct 12, 2010 at 11:50 PM | Permalink

      “Perhaps someone could call them and say that’s not nice.”

    • johnl
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 2:05 PM | Permalink

      It’s not libel because it wouldn’t make it harder for McIntyre to find work as a mining consultant if he was funded by George Marshall.

      • manicbeancounter
        Posted Oct 17, 2010 at 5:41 PM | Permalink

        This is not quite correct. A libel could merely damage someone’s reputation, without any financial impact. However, that damage would be dependant on people being swayed by the statement. A valid defence at Collide a Scape is that they change no-one’s opinions. There is plenty of evidence that high quality empirical analysis does nothing to sway views, let alone unfounded conspiracy theories.

  27. geo
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 12:56 AM | Permalink

    I can’t help but think the point re a public investigation (this was a congressional submission) report vs an academic publication for credit, is the important one here.

    I mean, really. Let Wegman say “On reflection, I wish I’d added a few more explicit cites, and would be happy to do so now for the benefit of future scholars who wish to review the report” and be done with it.

    Much ado about not much, in my book. The agenda here is transparent –try to discredit the work by not attacking the work, but by attacking the author.

  28. Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 4:23 AM | Permalink

    It seems nowadays the accusation of plagiarism has become a standard weapon in political/academic struggle globally. For example in China, there was quite a similar case to Wegman vs. The Team earlier this year. The attacks evolved for several rounds and even made it into mainstream newspapers and national televisions, with digging of evidence of plagiarism from both sides.

    The result: the party who first utilized the plagiarism tool failed (because the evidence was too weak, as in the Wegman case), but their target scholar was badly hurt. So no one could claim victory. I wish Dr. Wegman could survive this dirty process. And I wish the plagiarism hunting would not extend to Steve and Ross (although I am afraid it would).

    Reference: http://www.china-daily.org/China-News/Zhu-Xueqin-respond-to-plagiarism-accusations-claiming-a-justification/

  29. Aynsley Kellow
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 5:03 AM | Permalink

    Excellent forensic job, Steve. I had looked at Mashey’s claims but quickly concluded they were a beat-up and didn’t bother spending too much time on them. The giveaway was his complaint that there were works listed in the bibliography that were not cited in the text, which demonstrated a total lack of understanding of basic scholarship. Ross McKitrick about captures the situation in universities. I have initiated charges, acted upon them as a department head, and sat on discipline committees hearing appeals against ‘convictions.’ Mashey’s case is a a crude attempt to beat Wegman over the head with, not a hockeystick – perhaps a golf club. A Mashey-niblick, perhaps?

  30. Taylor
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 5:21 AM | Permalink

    It’s worth remarking that outside of the folks who follow Climate Audit and Watts Up With That, Joe Barton, James Inhofe and a few hundred oil industry lobbyists, very few people have heard of or care about Wegman’s “report,” “summary,” “book review,” “plagiarized propaganda,” or whatever you choose to call it. It’s interesting that, on the one hand, skeptics praise Wegman as the undoing of all peer-reviewed science on anthropogenic warming (nothing of the sort). On the other hand, to Climate Audit fans Wegman is merely a report to Congress intended to “educate the public,” and thus can’t be held to the same standards as academic papers that have passed through peer review. So which is it? Solid research or trivial fluff? You seem to want it both ways.

    Plagiarism is now an arcane medieval concept that can be safely ignored when considering matters of little scientific import, depending on the circumstance (I hear echoes of Alberto Gonzalez calling the provisions of the Geneva Conventions “quaint”). Never mind that Wegman’s report was very carefully and deliberately contrived to avoid academic standards of peer review; never mind the obvious overt and covert political influence that was brought to bear on its conclusions from inception through execution. Never mind the flaws in Wegman’s analysis and conclusions that have been extensively critiqued by numerous peer-reviewed and reputable scientific bodies. Even Wegman’s vast ignorance of climate science is touted as evidence of his pristine lack of taint.

    Wegman’s report gets cited by VA AG Cuccinelli (to his detriment and ridicule, and to any sane person’s embarrassment) and by no one else in the field of peer-reviewed climate science who hopes to be taken seriously. MBH’s paleoclimate reconstructions have remained intact and confirmed by subsequent independent studies. They are not the Achilles’ heel of climate science that Wegman’s fans fervently wish to believe they are.

  31. Michale Larkin
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 6:44 AM | Permalink

    Many thanks for this, Steve. Whatever would we all do without your painstaking forensic skills?

  32. EW
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 7:26 AM | Permalink

    This seemed to me as yet another storm in a teacup, but I’m gradually getting scared.

    In my own articles I often use the author’s own wording when citing their research and that without quoting marks or suchlikes. One reason for this is that I’m not a native English speaker, the other is, as already said here, that there’s only a limited possibility to say the same thing in different words. And the best sentence is usually the original one. I also noticed that other authors did the same when citing my work, so apparently no big deal there. Therefore I was surprised about the “copygate”.

  33. Stacey
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 7:41 AM | Permalink

    Why now?

  34. TomFP
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 7:49 AM | Permalink

    Perhaps next time I get a parking ticket I’ll try repudiating it on the grounds that, other than than time and place, it appears to be plagiarised from the last one I got, which I assumed was an original work.

    Slightly OT, but for an example of a man who made a fascinating artistic exploration of counter-authenticity, does anyone remember Boggs?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._S._G._Boggs

    er, source – Wikipedia, OK??

  35. Craig Loehle
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 8:07 AM | Permalink

    The Wegman report was not an academic publication, but a report to a government body. It is hard to see where these picky standards even apply. In the relevant sections it was clear that he was summarizing the current state of the art, with plenty of citations. If he had not used pretty much the exact wording, he would have been accused of getting it wrong.

  36. Craig Loehle
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 8:13 AM | Permalink

    IPCC in many places copies entire paragraphs without attribution from either the work of its authors or of various sources–often gray literature like Greenpeace or WWF reports. I sure hope Greenpeace sues them for plaigarism.

    • Manfred
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 2:11 PM | Permalink

      “Standing to file such a complaint is not limited to the direct victims of the plagiarism, but can be filed by anyone.”

      Filing such a complaint against the IPCC could actually be an efficient way of removing Greenpeace and WWF pamphlets from previous reports and stoping their usage in future reports.

      • ianl8888
        Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

        What a truly wonderful thought !

        Is there any chance it may be true as well ? If so, how do we start ?

  37. Jim
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 8:15 AM | Permalink

    I suspected that this was just another drive-by shooting by the Tree Ring Gang, you have verified my suspicions in your usual thorough manner.

  38. Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 8:43 AM | Permalink

    -snip OT-

    Getting bored with my case, they turned on Wegman. Bradley is now accusing Wegman of plagiarism (as you know). Bradley says in an email that he will not prosecute Wegman if Wegman removes his report from the Congressional Archives. This is a desperate attempt to avoid technical criticism.

    -snip

    Don Rapp

    • Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

      I’ve posted about this. D’you mind telling me your source?

    • Aynsley Kellow
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 6:54 PM | Permalink

      You mean he thinks he can remove something unfavourable from the historical record??? If so, this is beginning to sound uncannily closer to Lysenkoism than anyone would have thought.

    • Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 7:26 PM | Permalink

      Re: Donald Rapp (Oct 13 08:43), I see you’ve been snipped, I guess OT as well as OTT. But I saw your web page and I think awareness of your story, and the invasion of your personal space by the same folks is quite relevant here.

  39. Geoff
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 8:45 AM | Permalink

    I note the comment from the Office of Research Integrity of the US Department of Health & Human Services:

    ORI’s definition of plagiarism provides the following caveat:
    “ORI generally does not pursue the limited use of identical or nearly identical phrases which describe a commonly-used methodology or
    previous research because ORI does not consider such use as
    substantially misleading to the reader or of great significance.”

    http://ori.hhs.gov/education/products/plagiarism/

    • Ron Cram
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

      Nice contribution, Geoff!

  40. Messenger
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 8:49 AM | Permalink

    FW 7.26am
    In my experience, in an academic paper, if you want to quote what an author has said without using quotation marks, you can always say something like:

    As noted by Blank’s recent research,….(then say what he said, using your own words as far as reasonable) … then put a foot/end note ref to Blank’s work at the end of the paragraph you have written.

    The direct and exact use of chunks of Blank’s words within your own sentences should be in quotation marks, should be short (no more than two lines) and foot/endnoted.

    For longer direct quotes from an author’s text, they should be in a separate paragraph, indented both sides and foot/endnoted.

    • Faustino
      Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 3:41 AM | Permalink

      I’ve used that approach in publications (mainly government economic papers) for decades. It’s clear what your source is and whether or not you are quoting verbatim or rewording for the purposes of your own publication. I also made it clear when material in the passage was my own rather than part of the cited author’s work. This is fairly standard practice, and I would suspect that it would be Wegman’s general approach.

  41. Steve Fitzpatrick
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 8:58 AM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Thanks for your careful work on this.

    It is clear that Bradley was extremely unhappy with Wegman’s congressional report. I know you do not like discussions of motives, but in this case it seems too overwhelming to ignore.

  42. Ben Tennen
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 9:12 AM | Permalink

    Steve,

    I think “would have been preferably.” should be “would have been preferable.”

    Thanks for the sharing your knowledge,
    Ben

  43. Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

    “The language is virtually identical. It’s intriguing that the Enviropedia version references Fritts 1976 for a point where Bradley 1999 has no reference.”

    Harold C. Fritz wrote the ‘bible’ on dendrochronology and climate called “Tree Rings and Climate” in 1976 (Academic Press). It is this that is referenced by Buchdahl, but Bradley is strangely silent.

    Interesting earlier work by Siren (New Scientist, July 4, 1963) “Three Rings and Climate Forecasts” predicted cooling in the northern hemisphere.

    • Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 10:22 AM | Permalink

      Re: ScientistForTruth (Oct 13 09:20), “Three Rings and Climate Forecasts” by Siren

      ah, you must be referring to the famous “Three Rings”, er, siren song?

      One Ring to rule them all
      One Ring to find them
      One Ring to bring them all
      And in the darkness bind them

  44. Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 9:25 AM | Permalink

    The issue with Bradley is the copying plus the distortions introduced. There is also Wegman’s social networks material, which passes itself off as new science while lifting page after page after page of material from wiki and other uncredited sources. All of which McI doesn’t mention.

    Steve: Your statement that I didn’t “mention”
    the social networks issue is untrue. I stated the following in my post:

    I realize that there are issues related to Wegman’s exposition of social networks, but, given the detail that I like to examine things and my available time, I’m going to limit my analysis for now to the tree ring section that initially prompted DC’s analysis.

    As an editorial policy, I try to have threads stick to relatively narrow topics. The topic of this thread is Bradley’s complaint about his textbook. Let’s keep this thread on Bradley’s complaint so that we can isolate the issues pertaining to it.

    • Jim
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 9:34 AM | Permalink

      Does quoting a Wiki in a report to Congress require a reference? It isn’t written by one person and I believe the people writing it might not even be published on the Wiki. This is not an academic paper. You are grasping at straws. This is nothing more that another sophomoric attempt by the Hockey Team to control public perception and dialog. When are they going to figure out that this sort of thing makes them look either stupid or lacking in character?

      • Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

        Page after page, with hardly a word changed. Also ripping off De Nooy, Mrvar and Batagelj. In something that was introduced as original thought (a social networks analysis of climate science). No its not an academic work, just something presented to THE US CONGRESS re the most important environmental issue of the day. So its okay to give them any old crap, then, is it? La De Dah.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 9:52 AM | Permalink

          As I said in my post, I welcome the newfound zeal of climate scientists against plagiarism. However, if Bradley’s motive is anti-plagiarism, then isn’t he obligated to also complain against Luterbacher et al 2010, Enviropedia, Oxford Companion to Global Change?

        • Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 9:58 AM | Permalink

          Doing the pretend lawyer thing, are we?

          Steve: just raising a simple issue. Perhaps you can answer. Do you think that Luterbacher et al 2010 plagiarized Mann et al 2008? Yes or no.

        • Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 10:18 AM | Permalink

          No. In the three sentences at issue, Mann et al 2008 are ref’d twice. Seems to me that’s how its supposed to be done.

          (This message also appears a bit down the page. Sorry for that)

        • EJ D
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

          lol, in the plagiarized section, Mann et al are referenced three times sure, but not as being the source for the plagiarized section. How obtuse can you be?

        • Carrick
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

          bigcity, I think the issue being raised is plagiarism of Bradley’s monograph, not Mann 2008.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

          So, referencing without quoting is ok? Is that your position?

          Wegman referenced bradley.

          1. is there a guideline you can point to for writing works for congress that establishes the proper citation guideline?
          2. How many references per sentence are required?
          3. style for the reference, placement etc.

          Bradley was referenced. You may not like the style. You may not like the location, you may not like the frequency. Point to the governing style guide and we can discuss it ( crap all those graduate classes in bibliography ARE useful after all)

          CITATION is used to show the source of the IDEA.
          Quotes are used to show the MANNER of the acknowledged borrowing.

          get that? When you Cite ( Bradley 1999) you are SHOWING the SOURCE of the IDEA.
          when you QUOTE, you are indicating the MANNER of your borrowing.
          His idea, his words
          His idea, my words

          As a researcher I always want to check a paraphrase. A paraphrase ( unquoted) carries less weight with me. Anyway

          That leaves you with two arguments on the bradley issue:

          1. failure to indicate the MANNER of the borrowing, which broaches the copyright
          issue.
          2. failure to paraphrase correctly, which is not a plagiarism issue or copyright issue.

          So, sticking to the topic which issue do you want to examine first.

          1 or 2.

          Bradely was CITED so there is no issue of Wegman passing this overview of climate reconstruction off as his own ideas. So you are left with the two issues above.

          Which would you like to discuss.

        • Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 6:09 PM | Permalink

          Sorry to step in but I think you’ve got it quite right here. IMHO, Bradley was cited he has no claim whatsoever, others will make the final determination of that though. As Nick pointed out, the wiki copy without reference is a different issue.

          In the wiki policy they ask for author to be cited, I’ve found that incredibly difficult as those phrases were copied so many times. Looking through hundreds of revisions on the wiki page a tAV reader found the wiki editor but whether he was the original author or not is still difficult to determine. I gave up trying to figure out who the author was after 15 minutes. The paragraphs are so commonly repeated on the internet in unattributed fashion, I’m not sure attribution is even proper – much of the Wiki page in question appears to be unreferenced copies of older work. In the phrasing in Said’s paper the same things are copied. Wegman may have been an unwitting casualty of Said’s work rather than the originator of the copy.

          We don’t know, and it only is a discussion of the very basic descriptions of paleo and social networks so it is not represented as Wegman’s contribution to science and it doesn’t matter to the conclusions in any way.

        • Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 6:10 PM | Permalink

          That was supposed to be a reply to Steve Mosher.

          Steven Mosher
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 12:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

          Sometimes the reply button doesn’t work for me.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 12:55 AM | Permalink

          Ya, I’ve said in several places that the SNA stuff is different.

          but I’d like to see how people work through the bradley issues first.

          oh I have some kool work on nightlights, just finished. post in a bit

        • Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 2:30 PM | Permalink

          Steve,
          I appreciate your efforts to maintain focus – I really do. But why divert to a discussion of a disconnected paper by Luterbacher et al when Wegman 2.3 is out of bounds?

          Steve: As I noted, “plagiarism” is an academic rather than a business concept. I’m trying to understand other precedents and situations to see what people agree as being plagiarism. Luterbacher et al 2010 seems like a relevant comparison.

        • Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 7:00 PM | Permalink

          “As I noted, “plagiarism” is an academic rather than a business concept.”

          Steve, this is not far off bullshit. “Business” produces all sorts of reports and studies and white papers and whatever. Often, they want these reports to be taken seriously. In such cases, if your report contains pages of stuff copy & pasted from elsewhere, you will get called on it by every business journalist in the country that knows how to use Google. And you, if you produced that report, may well get sacked.

          It isn’t really that difficult.

          (Sorry again: this comment appears twice. I haven’t quite mastered the system here)

        • Stephen Parrish
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 7:24 PM | Permalink

          Plagiarism will reanimate the corpse, eh?

          Sounds more like…

          …What also floats? Very small rocks.

        • Doug Badgero
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 8:30 PM | Permalink

          I have written technical procedures and prepared license amendment requests for a nuclear plant. What matters is commonality of understanding and you are encouraged to copy liberally from previously written and approved documents. The last thing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants is a change of intent based on the misguided idea that you need to write your own unique text to convey a commonly understood idea.

        • Doug Badgero
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 8:31 PM | Permalink

          Previous is a reply to bigcitylib@7:00pm.

        • Stephen Parrish
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

          Doug, I had started the exact same response as you regarding numerous calculations I’d written as a nuclear engineering supporting the license and design bases of the nuclear plants in my company’s fleet.

          Lots of plagiarism there, with references only provided when I was employing a method or leaning on a source of input.

        • Carrick
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 8:39 AM | Permalink

          I agree with the other commenters. bigcity obviously has no experience at all with reports/documents given to businesses, if he thinks plagiarism is always discouraged there. Some reports are mere aggregations of existing work—the value added is the aggregation not the individual contents in that case.

          Ironically, legal departments want you to follow existing documents, and not deviate from it (not even in formatting). I had a document I prepared a few days ago that was returned to me reformatted and reworded to more closely follow the template given to me.

          Perhaps Steve McIntyre could comment further on the differences between business and academic models. (It’s certainly not true that the press avoids plagiarism, as another example—quite the opposite.)

        • Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

          Thats an interesting point. I’ve seen legal groups do this as well. Why re-invent the wheel when it has already been done.

        • TAG
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

          With use of standard wording, one has the ability to refer to past judgments to get clear interpretations of the text issued and reviewed by judges. If one uses a novel wording then one is at risk that a judge may rule that it means something that you did not quite expect.

          For example one may write that a computer is connected to a network. Does this mean a physical or a logical connection? What would “disconnect” or similar words mean in this context? Would that be a physical of software operation? In a law suit there would be experts supporting both interpretations. If one uses a standard wording then one will already have a judge’s interpretation of it.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 4:01 PM | Permalink

          I was looking through bradley’s appendix which cites a bunch of lab work. basic stuff on carbon 14 dating etc.

          That’s one highly likely place to find him not quoting properly. Anyone else interested and I may go out and buy bradley’s book and scan it,
          R has some cool text processing stuff

        • Kan
          Posted Oct 16, 2010 at 10:06 PM | Permalink

          “With use of standard wording, one has the ability to refer to past judgments to get clear interpretations of the text issued and reviewed by judges. ”

          Yep, the ultimate in peer review.

        • Skip Smith
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 9:08 PM | Permalink

          Can you give an example of “plagarism” in a business field leading to someone being sacked, or some other negative fallout?

        • Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 10:29 PM | Permalink

          Skip,
          How about the recent story of Scott McInniss, leading contender in the Republican primary for CO Senate. Accused of submitting plagiarised contracted reports on water issues to the Hasan Foundation. They wanted their money back, and McInnis lost the primary.

          But I suspect most business consequences are not public. I’ve done a lot of contract consulting in my time, and I’m sure if the clients found their reports included pasted Wiki stuff, they’d take it up with my superiors and I’d be in big trouble. But probably nothing public.

        • TAG
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 6:44 AM | Permalink

          In my experience, it would be quite the opposite. A client is paying a consultant at an hourly rate to produce a report. That client is not going to be be happy if teh consultant spends his time and the client’s money to generate an original version of some background material. Can you imagine a client getting an invoice for 10 or 20 hours work for the writing of an original version of an explanatory text for which a versions ae already available on Wiki or in some reference book. The client would not be happy and would likely refuse to pay.

          I know of clients who have experience with padded bills. In one direct case, they did a line by line accounting of the invoices to detect and remove the padding. The consultants didn’t like this but they knew that the client would not pay the bill without a law suit if they did not agree.

        • jak
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 8:04 AM | Permalink

          Nick,

          You say you have done a lot of contract consulting. As someone who has commissioned a lot of contract consulting, I can assure you I would have no problem if you cut and pasted an introductory section from Wiki. In fact, if you had spent significant time reinventing the wheel, that would probably be the last contract you ever performed for me. I want my dollars (and your time) spent on the value-added analysis, not on you trying to re-word something that has already been adequately discussed.

        • jak
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 8:14 AM | Permalink

          Oh, I see TAG had already posted the same thought. This point is probably clear to people in the corporate world but not obvious to those in academia where even background material / introductory sections are expected to be original. That may be good academics, but it is bad and inefficient business.

        • Skip Smith
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

          Nick,

          In the Scott McInniss case, my understanding was that the real issue was that the plagiarism led to a breach of contract, since the Hassan Foundation was paying him for original research.

        • James Sexton
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 11:02 PM | Permalink

          Typically, in a commercial enterprise, its called copyright infringement. As far as I know, “plagiarism” isn’t against the law, so businesses don’t care as long as there aren’t any financial repercussions. I suppose, if a textbook copied without proper attribution, then a case could be made, under the copyright laws. Nick Stokes is correct, if it reflected poorly on the company, then one would be in a bad spot.

        • James Sexton
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 11:04 PM | Permalink

          Steve, I don’t come by as often as I should, apparently posting techniques change from time to time? Anyway, I’ll try this avenue.

          James Sexton
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 8:47 PM | Permalink | Reply
          Your comment is awaiting moderation.

          This has probably been done already, and is obviously known for most, but I think it bares repeating.

          Let’s define plagiarism. A quick stop at dictionary.com shows us, plagiarism as “the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.” to make sure this is the generally accepted definition, scroll down the page and one will see the Encyclopedia Britannica definition as “plagiarism—-the act of taking the writings of another person and passing them off as one’s own. The fraudulence is closely related to forgery and piracy-practices generally in violation of copyright laws. ”

          It goes beyond the stretch of any imagination that Wegman was trying to declare this part of the paper his original work. By my count, Bradley was mentioned 23 times in the report both as a reference and subject. This wasn’t an academic essay nor was it a commercial enterprise.

          Any claim to plagiarism is a purposeful mischaracterization and an attempt to defame the authors. Wegman et al are the only ones that should be angry, the rest of us should just point and laugh at the accusers.

        • QBeamus
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 9:25 AM | Permalink

          Giving attribution doesn’t generally avoid copyright infringement (though on the margin it might be a factor weighed in deciding whether the use constituted fair use).

          I do think you’re on to something with your larger point, though. Business simply don’t care about plagarism, because the goal of business is to identify the ideas that work, rather than generating new ideas. The average level of silliness in academic work is the result of the reverse priorities.

        • j ferguson
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 2:39 PM | Permalink

          Assuming our US law discourages capricious actions, is it possible that these plagiarism complaints would be found unconvincing should they ever find their way to court for at least two reasons?

          The first might be timeliness. If Dr. Bradley was injured by the publication of his words in someone else’s work, shouldn’t he have complained as soon as he discovered the alleged plagiarism?

          Second, isn’t he also obligated to pursue all similar plagiarisms of his work as our host suggests?

        • Doug Badgero
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 9:44 PM | Permalink

          They will be found unconvincing in a court because they relate to a report requested with the imprimatur of Congress. As I understand it no claim of plagiarism or copyright infringement can apply. Note I am plagiarizing this idea from others on WUWT, but I believe it to be accurate.

        • Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

          Re: Doug Badgero (Oct 13 21:44),

          They will be found unconvincing in a court because they relate to a report requested with the imprimatur of Congress. As I understand it no claim of plagiarism or copyright infringement can apply. Note I am plagiarizing this idea from others on WUWT, but I believe it to be accurate

          IANL, but I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as legal action for plagiarism. Ever. So, i think no judge would entertain a suit about plagiarism because it’s not a legal tort. If Bradley wants to take this to a court, he has to make a case for copyright violation, which is different.

          Now on to the Speech and Debate Clause. I wrote noting that in comments at Judy Curry’s a lawyer brought up the US Constitution Speech and Debate Clause as it relates to material presented to Congress. His discussion touches on copyright not plagiarism. He doesn’t go so far as to say Wegman is shielded– but he says that this is an issue that would need to be considered. I suspect no one can say more without knowing the full fact pattern for the legal case. (For example: Did wegman circulate the report? Or is it presented to the public by Congress? Etc.). Read more details here– See Rick A in comments.

          Anyway, the presentation to Congress is a complication we don’t ordinarily see in a copyright case. It may make it much more difficult for Bradley to prevail in any copyright tort. (I think it would already be difficult. But then… INAL.)

          Now. for the difference between copyright and plagiarism. You can take legal action for copyright infringement. The standards for copyright infringement are not set by academics but by legal statutes as interpreted by courts.

          Plagiarism and copyright both involve copying, but you can easily do one without the other:

          I think these are examples that explain the difference.
          * Chinese book publisher copies a textbook in it’s entirety, fully credting the authors etc. They sell the book for $10 which undercuts the market for the original which sells for $100 in US stores. This is a copyright violation, but not plagiarism.

          * Cook A breaks into CookB’s recipe box and discovers the secret list of ingredients required for CookB’s “famous recipe X”. Supposed CookB is famous for this dish, sells it in his restaurant and has never published it.. Cook A writes a recipe for “his” version of “famous recipe for X” including the list of ingredients but coming up with his own words to describe how to make the recipe. This is (probably) not a copyright (because copyright doesn’t cover recipes that are no more than lists of ingredients see copyright.gov.)

          But it may be = plagiarism because CookB is stealing credit for coming up with the combination of ingredients that results in the “deliciousness” of dish X. However, plagiarism isn’t against the law.

          Mind you, the cook who stole the recipe might be subject to some other legal tort or criminal violation. (I can see breaking and entering. Maybe something to do with industrial espionage and stealing secrets– but he’d be guilty of both even if he never published the recipe. But it seems unlikely he violated copyright.

          As I said, I’m pretty sure there crime or tort of plagiarism.

        • QBeamus
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 2:00 PM | Permalink

          In your recipe example, Cook B would have a trade secret cause of action (for taking and using the recipe), and also an unfair competition cause of action (for taking, using, and/or mis-attributing the recipe)

        • jak
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 3:06 PM | Permalink

          A more obvious example of plagiarism which is not a copyright violations is to copy text from a book where the copyright has expired.

        • Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 3:27 PM | Permalink

          jak–

          Agreed. That’s a better example. If publish a play in my name and my play is identical to McBeth, that’s plagiarism. (No one will believe me, but it’s still plagiarism.)

        • TAG
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

          All artists take material from heir predecessors and Shakespeare was not exception. There were many plays about princes of Denmark and Hamlet before Shakespeare wrote his. Plagiarism is a very complicated subject

        • QBeamus
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 9:06 AM | Permalink

          To answer your questions:

          1. Yes, a claim by Bradley at this point might well be defeated as untimely.

          2. No, there is no obligation in the law to pursue all potential defendants in order to sustain a claim against any one, or few, of them.

        • TAG
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 4:59 PM | Permalink

          I did some reading on this. There seemed to be two legal concepts. One was the recognition of the customs of local residents and the other was “acquiescence by silence”.

          From SMc’s evidence, it seems that a custom has grown up among scientists and climate scientists in particular that it is permissible to quote extensively from prior works for the purpose of background explanations. Climate scientist have acquiesced to this practice and Bradley in particular did not assert any proprietary rights for several years. Bradley’s silence can reasonably be interpreted as a recognition of this customary practice in response to Wegman’s report. Bradley therefore has no valid objection to Wegman’s use of the cited passanges

        • TAG
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 5:03 PM | Permalink

          Indeed one of the precepts of modernist literature is that the author must set his/her work int eh traditions of the community and the field. Allusions to past literature and even quotations are used to link the work to the body of traditions. This was considered produce works of greater significance than those that consisted of shallow innovations.

          T.S Eliot’s work consisted of this. It links directly back to past works

        • Günther Kirschbaum
          Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

          Maybe do Wegman first as a precedent and then take it from there?

          Steve: the trouble with using Wegman as a precedent is that Bradley’s complaint seems to be motivated by factors other than the copying of text. It would be a much more convincing precedent if Bradley filed a complaint against Luterbacher or the Oxford Companion and then applied that precedent against Wegman.

    • Xenophon
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

      bigcitylib: Perhaps you missed the section where our host wrote:

      “I realize that there are issues related to Wegman’s exposition of social networks, but, given the detail that I like to examine things and my available time, I’m going to limit my analysis for now to the tree ring section that initially prompted DC’s analysis.”

      Perhaps our gracious host will follow up with an additional post on the social networks section.

    • TerryMN
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 4:31 PM | Permalink

      Care to post a corrigendum, bigcitylib?

  45. dl
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

    From this month’s Atlantic

    Published research is most often wrong

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/8269

    There are many interesting aspects to this paper. Here is one selection from the article that summarizes some of the research findings. Peer review as a way to exclude opposing views. Published research is biased to favour the views that the researcher and the community desire.

    The link to the controversies in cliamte sceince is clear.

    He chose to publish one paper, fittingly, in the online journal PLoS Medicine, which is committed to running any methodologically sound article without regard to how “interesting” the results may be. In the paper, Ioannidis laid out a detailed mathematical proof that, assuming modest levels of researcher bias, typically imperfect research techniques, and the well-known tendency to focus on exciting rather than highly plausible theories, researchers will come up with wrong findings most of the time. Simply put, if you’re attracted to ideas that have a good chance of being wrong, and if you’re motivated to prove them right, and if you have a little wiggle room in how you assemble the evidence, you’ll probably succeed in proving wrong theories right. His model predicted, in different fields of medical research, rates of wrongness roughly corresponding to the observed rates at which findings were later convincingly refuted: 80 percent of non-randomized studies (by far the most common type) turn out to be wrong, as do 25 percent of supposedly gold-standard randomized trials, and as much as 10 percent of the platinum-standard large randomized trials. The article spelled out his belief that researchers were frequently manipulating data analyses, chasing career-advancing findings rather than good science, and even using the peer-review process—in which journals ask researchers to help decide which studies to publish—to suppress opposing views. “You can question some of the details of John’s calculations, but it’s hard to argue that the essential ideas aren’t absolutely correct,” says Doug Altman, an Oxford University researcher who directs the Centre for Statistics in Medicine.

  46. Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

    No. In the three sentences at issue, Mann et al 2008 are ref’d twice. Seems to me that’s how its supposed to be done.

  47. Steve Milesworthy
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

    If I were Bradley my motivation for complaining would not be because I was plagiarised. It would be to highlight the issues that suggest that the report was not the authoritative critique of the science and science cliques it purported to be.

    Was *any* real work actually done on the report, or was it an unfiltered list of criticisms already made by M&M padded out with copied texts and pseudoscientific social network theory?

  48. pyromancer76
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 10:59 AM | Permalink

    Excellent research as usual. Steve, you have an uncanny ability to set the record straight with readable prose for non-specialists. I enjoy the calm, reasonable, laser-like focus on each issue and wish that there was some public shaming ceremony for those who bring false claims. If Bradley’s claim were true, “then he should be filing complaints against the authors and editors of the Oxford Companion to Global Change (Larry Peterson, David Cuff, Goudie), the authors and editors of the Climate Change Study Guide and Enviropedia (Joe Buchdahl and others) and the coauthors of Luterbacher et al 2010: Jürg Luterbacher, Elena Xoplaki, Marcel Küttel, Eduardo Zorita, Jesus Fidel González-Rouco, Phil D. Jones, Marco Stössel, This Rutishauser, Heinz Wanner, Joanna Wibig, and Rajmund Przybylak.”

    I think that Donald Rapp’s concerns 10/13-8:43 am) are very important and deserve a renewed public hearing. “It is now several years since McIntyre, McKitrick and Wegman showed that the methods used by Mann, Bradley and Hughes, as well as their followers at CRU to process hundreds of proxies lead to false conclusions. Yet, none of these authors have responded at all to these technical criticisms.”

    In my understanding, the “technical criticisms” prove falsified “science” — a much more serious claim than plagerism.

  49. Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    1/3

    The statistics quoted are based on the updated side-by-side comparison of Wegman et al tree-ring section and Bradley, available here:

    http://deepclimate.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/wegman-bradley-tree-rings-v20.pdf

    There is no indication whatsoever that this very long passage, clearly copied for the most part from Bradley, comes from that source. Also note the underlined portions; these denote errors where slight changes (and additions) have introduced errors, due to incompetence or bias.

    Steve: You did not define how you did your calculations. What are your operational definitions of each category?

    • Ron Cram
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

      DeepClimate,
      Given the contribution by Geoff at 8:45 am today, how does your comment help your cause in the least?

  50. Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

    snip

    Steve - sorry, you’re editorializing about too many things.

    • Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 1:28 PM | Permalink

      Steve:

      I must confess that I don’t find the issue of whether anyone committed plagiarism in reviewing other people’s work as worth discussing since it is an oxymoron – it cannot happen – by definition. I do think that understanding the motivation for charges of plagiarism by alarmists, and the implications of the Wegman Report for the alarmist position are more interesting. However, its your website and your right to steer it where you choose.

  51. Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

    2/3

    Steve: “The topic of this thread is Bradley’s complaint about his textbook. Let’s keep this thread on Bradley’s complaint so that we can isolate the issues pertaining to it.”

    So you and your readers will certainly want to look at Wegman’s sections on ice core and coral proxies.

    http://deepclimate.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/wegman-bradley-ice-cores-corals-v3.pdf

    Again there is no attribution – and Bradley is clearly the source for these entire sections.

    Steve: Yes, I agree that those sections are relevant to Bradley’s complaint. Nonetheless, I’d prefer for now to work through the tree ring section first since I’ve looked closely at this aspect of the topic (I’ve only got so much time).

    • EJ D
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

      Astounding that a report on MBH would contain, you know, passages from MBH works.

      Cool part is that the report stung so bad that years later the long knives are still out. If you have the facts, pound the facts. If you have the law, pound the law. If you have neither, pound the table!

    • Steve Fitzpatrick
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 12:53 PM | Permalink

      I think you overstate the case a bit.

      Nobody (certainly not Wegman) claims that he is an expert in climate proxies. It is not like Wegman is trying to claim the information in his summary sections is the product of his original work. To use portions of a book, referenced in a bibliography, as part of a technical background summary, but without putting quotes around specific phrases from that book is perhaps a bit sloppy. But claiming an attempted theft of ideas is, well, way over the top. If Wegman were talking to Congressional staffers to explain background technical issues, would he also be obliged to tell his listeners where each specific piece of information came from? It is really an issue of proportion. Were Wgeman writing a formal research publication, the standard for citing sources would be higher, of course. But this background section seems to me pretty informal to be held to the standards of a research publication.

    • Ron Cram
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 4:09 PM | Permalink

      DeepClimate,
      Again, based on the contribution by Geoff above regarding the policy of the Office of Research Integrity, how does this help your cause at all?

  52. Dominic
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 11:45 AM | Permalink

    Plagiarism is passing off someone else’s idea or original research results as your own. Clearly this was not what Wegman was doing. He was perhaps cutting a few corners in order to produce his report quickly and should maybe have said this upfront. After all, reading all those papers and having to regurgitate them in your own words does seem unnecessarily tiresome.

    This whole affair just stinks of rancour. I hope it rebounds on Bradley.

  53. Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 11:55 AM | Permalink

    3/3

    For when you get around to it, here is the updated side-by-side comparison of Wegman et al 2.3 and three sources on social networks (two text books and Wikipedia):

    http://deepclimate.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/wegman-social-networks-v-2.pdf

    Also up thread, someone asked about other instances.

    http://deepclimate.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/said-et-al-social-networks-2.pdf

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 12:49 PM | Permalink

      DC, I’m trying to understand standards and practices in this field through precedents and similar cases. Can you comment on whether you regard the copying in Luterbacher et al 2010 as plagiarism, so that I can get a better handle on your view on what constitutes plagiarism?

  54. Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

    Perhaps recognizing the weakness of their Plagiarism accusations, both Deep and Mashey have begun shifting ground, raising the possibility that Wegman et al. may have committed (gasp) Copyright violations. This is rich — have they never heard of Fair Use?

    I think this is mostly over at http://www.collide-a-scape.com/
    –but all this stuff (except Steve’s) runs together. Mashey, in particular, writes as if he’s not a native speaker of English. Bradley in particular is coming out of this looking pretty foolish.

  55. TomRude
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 2:22 PM | Permalink

    So who is “DC”? Washington? LOL

  56. manicbeancounter
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

    A minor, but potentially significant, point in all of this is the timing issue. The Wegman Report was published in 2006. Given the Hockey Stick Team are keen to pick up on any points that may undermine any criticism of their scientific work, why has it taken four years to pick up on this accusation of plagiarism? Surely Bradley (or a student reading around the subject) would have read this important report before now?

  57. nevket240
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 7:28 PM | Permalink

    Now that the Warmistas hace discovered ‘ethics’ I wait for Mr Mashey to sue on behalf of the Polar Bear whos’ photo is an AGW Artic icon.
    Not holding my breath though.
    regards

  58. James Sexton
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 8:47 PM | Permalink

    This has probably been done already, and is obviously known for most, but I think it bares repeating.

    Let’s define plagiarism. A quick stop at dictionary.com shows us, plagiarism as “the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.” to make sure this is the generally accepted definition, scroll down the page and one will see the Encyclopedia Britannica definition as “plagiarism—-the act of taking the writings of another person and passing them off as one’s own. The fraudulence is closely related to forgery and piracy-practices generally in violation of copyright laws. ”

    It goes beyond the stretch of any imagination that Wegman was trying to declare this part of the paper his original work. By my count, Bradley was mentioned 23 times in the report both as a reference and subject. This wasn’t an academic essay nor was it a commercial enterprise.

    Any claim to plagiarism is a purposeful mischaracterization and an attempt to defame the authors. Wegman et al are the only ones that should be angry, the rest of us should just point and laugh at the accusers.

  59. DocMartyn
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 9:32 PM | Permalink

    So now it comes to who has the best lawyer to resolve changes in climate changes?

  60. Tom C
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 10:34 PM | Permalink

    Let me get this straight. Wegman prepares a report and testifies to Congress regarding the work of Mann et. al. which includes Bradley. This report contains embarrassing if not damaging findings, is widely reported on and discussed, and is readily available on the internet. Yet, Bradley reads this report and does not recognize his own words being quoted, “page after page” no less. He recognizes this only 4 years later after a blogger does extensive google researches.

    Yeah, right, this is really a big deal.

    These people poison everything they touch.

  61. JRR Canada
    Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 11:45 PM | Permalink

    Brilliant PR. Now people will be drawn to read the Wegman report instead of the accepting the past media avoidance of it.This is akin to shooting your feet off to improve your stance.Wegmans report still stands and sums up the sciency nature of team IPCC completely.I guess if you truly believe everyone else is stupid its possible you really are, otherwise why draw attention back to this documented exposure of the statistical incompetence of the team? AWG is collapsing at an ever increasing speed. Maybe by Christmas we will get to see the teams science for ourselves.(assuming actual data and methodology does exist of course)

  62. Carrick
    Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 1:04 AM | Permalink

    Nick Stokes:

    I’ve done a lot of contract consulting in my time, and I’m sure if the clients found their reports included pasted Wiki stuff, they’d take it up with my superiors and I’d be in big trouble. But probably nothing public.

    I really doubt anybody is going to care if you included relevant Wiki material in an internal report as background material, otherwise you have some seriously weird clients.

    • Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 3:55 AM | Permalink

      Carrick,
      The likely response of companies is – we paid for your expertise – we can paste from Wiki ourselves.

      This is the basic issue with the Wegman report. It’s supposed to be a top statistician speaking. Especially with the social networks stuff. The text from Wiki was essentially persuasive – how and why SNA works. If you think this is coming from Prof W, you’ll feel differently about it than if it comes from Wiki.

      • Vernon
        Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 5:58 AM | Permalink

        Nick,

        Anyone that has done consulting work knows that your claim is baseless. What clients generally want in a report (Wegman Report) is for an expert (Wegman) to answer a question, not produce original work. They especially are not paying for a consultant to reinvent the wheel. Not saying that there are no gigs where original work is not contracted for but the vast majority are not and it is apparent that what Wegman was asked to do was not one of them. So how about presenting an argument that has some possibly of being based in reality.

        • Carrick
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 8:49 AM | Permalink

          Vernon, if they are expecting original work, the budget usually goes up accordingly. Unlike academics, they are looking at bang-for-the-buck.

      • RomanM
        Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 6:41 AM | Permalink

        C’mon, Nick, stop exaggerating.

        If you think this is coming from Prof W, you’ll feel differently about it than if it comes from Wiki.

        It IS coming from Prof. W.

        Wiki is not a source of original work – it is by its nature an informative description of the results of work done by others. Any professional in a given area of expertise should be able to judge whether that information is correct. By quoting it, he was attesting to its correctness so indeed, it came from him.

        The information in question was a description of statistical procedures (originated by others, not Wiki) which Prof. Wegman intended to apply to a situation. Before he used that methodology, he wanted to explain to the readers of the report (who are not experts in the area) what that method purported to do. He apparently decided that the Wiki description was good enough for the purpose so he used it. I sincerely doubt that he was relying on its accuracy (would you???) since he would have been well aware of that fact BEFORE he read Wiki.

        Yes, he may have been at fault for neglecting to spell out the origin of the text. However, the relevant correctness and relevance of the results of the analysis itself does not depend in any way shape or form of this particular sideshow created by those who seek to divert attention from the meat of the report. The criticism of that needs to be done by actually considering those results.

      • Carrick
        Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 8:48 AM | Permalink

        Nick as I’ve pointed elsewhere, businesses have other concerns than originality of the words of the text. If the report is nothing but wikipedia cut and paste, perhaps you have a point. Other than that, you’re exaggerating terribly. The aggregation of the information can itself be the “original work” that you are paid to do.

        I suppose you’ve never done a “market research” study.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 4:09 AM | Permalink

          Re: Carrick (Oct 14 08:48),

          Ha, back in the day it was xerox the work you wanted to use.
          cut
          paste.
          write edits on the pasted piece of paper
          hand it to the typist

      • Steven Mosher
        Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

        Funny,

        when I did the biographies of the players in climategate I had to reference Wikipedia and web site biographies. I’m pretty sure I got all the references correct and paraphrasing a biography is no simple task. I’m not even sure it would pass the mashey/DC test.

        Clearly, getting that job quoting/referencing done RIGHT, did not prevent me from making other mistakes, and getting it wrong does not invalidate other points.

        • Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 8:09 PM | Permalink

          I’m not even sure it would pass the mashey/DC test.

          Good thing it’s a meaningless test, then, eh?

  63. Phil
    Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 2:31 AM | Permalink

    It is my understanding that the primary purpose of the Wegman report was as testimony before Congress. Given that, the charge by Bradley and others that (paraphrasing) “Wegman said the same thing that I did!” falls a bit flat. In fact, it supports Wegman’s testimony as truthful.

    Imaginary exchange between a Congressperson and Wegman:

    “Congressperson: Isn’t it true that (referenced paragraphs) match almost word for work with what has been published on certain webpages by Wikipedia?

    “Wegman: Yes.”

    How would such an exchange demonstrate that Wegman’s testimony was either (a) false, (b) misleading or (c) unsupported? I would submit it would, instead, support Wegman’s testimony as (a) truthful, (b) accurate and (c) supported.

    Had the complainants shown that (a) Wegman’s text was copied from Wikipedia AND (b) Wikipedia’s was (a) false, (b) misleading or (c) unsupported, THEN I would think that somebody had found something really interesting.

    However, even in the Wikipedia case (IMHO perhaps the strongest evidence of direct copying), I don’t believe it has been shown that the copied material from Wikipedia was (a) false, (b) misleading or (c) unsupported. Quite the contrary.

    Focusing on points of disagreement between Wegman and relevant source material would seem to be the only thing of relevance here.

  64. Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 6:38 AM | Permalink

    This is fine for internal reports. Not for the kind of thing you might want to put before the public. To give you a Canadian example, the CBoC recebtly got nailed with plagiarised material in their report on illegal file-sharing. That report went down poorly, lets just say.

    http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/techsense/archive/2009/05/26/will-the-real-blackbeard-please-stand-up.aspx

    • Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 6:39 AM | Permalink

      Last message was a reply to Vernon.

      • Carrick
        Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 8:52 AM | Permalink

        This link ironically demonstrates once again how politics often drives charges of plagiarism.

        • Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

          It was plagiarism no matter what the politics were.

        • Mark F
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 3:30 PM | Permalink

          I think you just proved his point, ironically…

        • Michael Smith
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

          BCL wrote:

          “It was plagiarism no matter what the politics were.”

          But the question is, of what possible significance is this alleged plagiarism? Are you arguing that it refutes Wegman’s conclusion that MM’s criticism of Mann is valid? If so, that’s just ad hominem.

          But if you are not arguing that, then what is the relevance of this alleged plagiarism to the hockey stick issues? I don’t see that it has any relevance at all — it just smacks of desperation on your part.

          You can’t win on the facts so you shift to a personal attack? I guess that shouldn’t surprise me.

        • Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 5:44 PM | Permalink

          If you chuck the stolen bits as indicating that Wegman didn’t know enough to write those parts of his report up himself, you are left with his rather trivial affirmations of the rather trivial points made by McI and MciT. But, given that Wegman clearly KNEW SO LITTLE about dendo and coral growth and etc. that he had to recycle text, how can you even assume he did the work required to confirm M&M?

          Von Storch, for example, has arguedthat the AHG (artificial hockey stick effect) is tiny.

        • Aynsley Kellow
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 6:45 PM | Permalink

          BCL,
          You are getting desperate. Wegman was quite open about not being a dendro guy, which is why he used what Steve has called a ‘boilerplate’ account of that area of scholarship. Nothing surprising about that. As several posts here have made clear, this is standard practice and is not regarded as plagiarism. Regardless, your leap of logic in raising the question ‘how can you even assume he did the work required to confirm M&M?’ is remarkable and a deliberate smear that betrays your lack of impartiality. He says he performed it and provides the results of that. Do you have any actual evidence that he did not do so. If not, you owe him an apology for the smear. Perhaps you have forgotten: it was North who did no original work and just ‘winged it’. Your many posts reek of desperation.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

          1. Congress was asking him his opinion on the trivial points.

          2. he affirmed Mc’s trivial points

          3. IF they were trivial, why is it so hard for others,like mann, to agree with them,when an outside expert can see that the trivial point is correct.

          Maybe cause they are not so trivial.

          And maybe that explains why people focus on the triviality of proper citation.

          ya think

        • Michael Smith
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 4:02 PM | Permalink

          bcl wrote:

          But, given that Wegman clearly KNEW SO LITTLE about dendo and coral growth and etc. that he had to recycle text, how can you even assume he did the work required to confirm M&M?

          I can assume he actually did the work because:

          A) Confirming (or refuting) M&M falls squarely into Wegman’s area of expertise.
          B) It is what Congress asked him to do.
          C) It would be tremendously risky to put his entire reputation and career on the line by simply using invented data to make figures 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.6 and 4.7 that appear in his report — especially given the highly charged atmosphere of this debate. It is beyond difficult to believe that he would risk total ruin by faking his results.

          What’s more, your “argument” is a non-sequitur. It does not follow that since Wegman knew little about dendro and coral growth, there are grounds for raising doubts about whether or not he even did the work to generate the results in his report. I seriously doubt that Michael Mann is an expert in the science behind all the proxy data he works with — especially given his tendency to use some of it upside down — but that hardly constitutes grounds for accusing him of completely faking his results.

          You guys appear really desperate.

  65. Jimmi
    Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 6:40 AM | Permalink

    Surely you are all missing the point with the obsessing about copyright and plagiarism? Having 30 pages of a report showing strong similarities to other material is one thing, but the real problem seems to be that in places the copy was not exact i.e. changes were made which altered the meaning of the original. This surely is dishonest by anyone’s standard.

  66. Craig Loehle
    Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 7:54 AM | Permalink

    I hypothesize that Bradley could not bear to read the Wegmen report until recently. We know that Mann doesn’t read his critics. That’s why the 4 year delay.

  67. Will J. Richardson
    Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 9:13 AM | Permalink

    Perhaps I am missing the point. As I understand the issue from this post and the comments, Wegman is accused of using Bradley’s material on background matters without proper attribution and of using Wikipedia material on background matters without proper attribution.

    The post and the comments do not suggest that any part of the background information allegedly “copied” by Wegman was inaccurate. Neither the comments here, nor the posts on the websites accusing Wegman of plagiarism, contend that Wegmam’s statistical analysis or social network analysis rely on the background material which is at issue.

    Can someone please explain to me, assuming the accusations of plagiarism against Wegman are true, why Wegman’s statistical and social network analysis should be considered compromised or erroneous?

    Regards,

    WJR

    • Faustino
      Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 4:13 AM | Permalink

      Good point. The issue was the quality of the statistical work, Wegman’s area of expertise. The US House Committee on Energy & Commerce noted in a press release on Wegman’s eport 12 July 2006 that:

      “Report Raises New Questions About Climate Change Assessments

      “It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community; even though they rely heavily on statistical methods they do not seem to be interacting with the statistical community. Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent. Moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that this community can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility. Overall, our committee believes that Dr. Mann’s assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis.’
      – Excerpt from Wegman report.”

      This finding does not depend on whether or not Wegman appropriately acknowledged sources.

      • Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 6:57 AM | Permalink

        There’s actually little statistical work in the report, so it’s hard to say anything about its quality. But in fact, the conclusions you quoted barely relate to anything in the body of the report.

        To test the basis for the conclusion that paleos don’t talk to statisticians, I searched the whole report for the fragment “statistic”. It shows up no basis for that statement outside the findings and recommendations.

        Likewise a search for “peer review” – well, outside the exec and findings it appears twice in the intro para of the SNA section as something they might apply SNA to, but then nothing.

        The same with “hottest” – it appears twice in the summary of MBH99, but only in the paraphrasing – there’s no argument as to why “hottest decade” might be wrong. They don’t ever calculate temperatures themselves.

        Maybe I’ve missed something and you can show where these conclusions are supported in the text. But if not, you’re right in a limited sense. The plagiarisms in the report don’t affect these conclusions, because they have nothing to do with the report.

        • Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 8:45 AM | Permalink

          They are simply saying that MBH et al don’t write joint papers with professional statisticians – and they should. No detailed analysis is needed to make this statement. The same conclusion came out of the Oxburgh report.

        • theduke
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 9:39 AM | Permalink

          Nick Stokes wrote: “To test the basis for the conclusion that paleos don’t talk to statisticians, I searched the whole report for the fragment “statistic”. It shows up no basis for that statement outside the findings and recommendations.”

          Try “statistical methods.” I haven’t, but it might give you a different result.

          Regardless. I don’t know how many papers by paleos Wegman looked at, but if he looked at, say, ten seminal papers and found unorthodox statistical methods in all of them, wouldn’t he be obligated to make that clear? I believe he is making a general conclusion here in his area of professional expertise, which is what he was hired to do. He may have also had some sensitivity to trampling on professional reputations and didn’t want to name names. I’m sure if you asked him privately, he could provide evidence for this conclusion.

        • Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 7:25 PM | Permalink

          duke,
          My search would have found “statistical methods” or any occurrence of “statistic”.

          Stating conclusions undiscussed in the report is just bad report-writing. They may be right, but if they are unsupported in the body of the report, then what is it for?

          But I’m answering the issue – did the plagiarism affect the conclusions? If the conclusions don’t follow from the report, then yes, the plagiarisms don’t affect them. What could?

        • John M
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 7:34 PM | Permalink

          Nick,

          So what conclusions in the report did Gerry North agree with and what were they based on?

        • Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 8:53 PM | Permalink

          He may well have agreed with them all – they aren’t particularly controversial. Conclusion 3 is pushing the barrow of the narrow community of statisticians, and may have less appeal.

          As to what they are based on – well, the main thing is, they aren’t based on the body of the Wegman report.

        • John M
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 9:37 PM | Permalink

          For those wondering about Wegman’s conclusions, which I’m happy to see Nick now finds noncontroversial, they can be found on p. 51.

          http://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2007/11/07142006_wegman_report.pdf

  68. kuhnkat
    Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 1:28 PM | Permalink

    Nick Stokes,

    “Accused of submitting plagiarised contracted reports on water issues to the Hasan Foundation.”

    Were the plagiarised sections substantive as opposed to background? Your example is pointless without details as to whether it applies to this case.

  69. Steven Mosher
    Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 3:56 PM | Permalink

    Heres a challange. take bradley’s first paragraph and paraphrase it. Actually try to. You’ll see that its hard to paraphrase without using the same words AND get the idea right.

    That’s a challenge directly to BCL.

    “A cross section of most temperate forest trees will show an alternation of lighter and darker bands, each of which is usually continuous around the tree circumference. These are seasonal growth increments produced by meristematic tissues in the tree’s cambium. When viewed in detail (Fig. 10.1) it is clear that they are made up of sequences of large, thin-walled cells (earlywood) and more densely packed, thick-walled cells (latewood).”

    a slice of more than half warm forest trees will present a juxtaposition of darker and less dark bands, wrapped around the tree. These bands are incrementally put on as the tree grows and they are seasonal in nature. The meristematic tissue in the trees cambium produces them. If you look at them close up( fig 10.1) you will see that they are made up of sequences of cells. There are two types of cells know as the earlywood cells which have thin walls and latewood which have thicker walls and are packed closer together.

    whew. damn I sure wish Wegman had spent more time paraphrasing Bradley. That’s what congress wanted him to do, right?

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

      From the reference that Geoff provided at Office of Research Integrity

      http://ori.dhhs.gov/education/products/plagiarism/10.shtml

      In sum, the reality is that traditional scientific prose and diction do not always facilitate paraphrasing. To illustrate the difficulties inherent in paraphrasing highly technical language, let’s consider the following paragraph from a report recently published in Science (Lunyak, et al., 2002).

      “Mammalian histone lysine methyltransferase, suppressor of variegation 39H1 (SUV39H1), initiates silencing with selective methylation on Lys9 of histone H3, thus creating a high-affinity binding site for HP1. When an antibody to endogenous SUV39H1 was used for immunoprecipitation, MeCP2 was effectively coimmunoprecipitated; conversely, aHA antibodies to HA-tagged MeCP2 could immunoprecipitate SUV39H1 (Fig. 2G).”² (p. 1748)

      Here is an attempt at paraphrasing the above material:

      A high affinity binding site for HP1 can be produced by silencing Lys9 of histone H3 by methylation with mammalian histone lysing methyltransferase, a suppressor of variegation 39H1 (SUV39H1). MeCP2 can be immunoprecipitated with antibodies prepared against endogenous SUV39H1; on the other hand, immunoprecipitation of SUB39H1 resulted from aHA antibodies to HA-tagged MeCP2. ²

      Unlike the previous examples of appropriate paraphrasing, the above example does not embody as many textual modifications. For the exact meaning of the original Science paragraph to be preserved in the present case, many of the same terms must be left intact in the paraphrased version. Although synonyms for some of the words may be available, their use would likely alter the meaning of the original. For example, take the word affinity, which is defined as “that force by which a substance chooses or elects to unite with one substance rather than with another” (Dorland, 2000). Roget’s Thesaurus (Chapman, 1992) lists the following synonyms for affinity: accord, agreement, attraction, friendship, inclination, marriage relationship, preference, relationship, similarity, and tendency. Although it might be possible to rewrite the first sentence using the synonym “attraction”, this alternative fails to capture the precise meaning conveyed by the original sentence, given how the term is used in this area of biomedical research. The fact of the matter is that the word affinity has a very specific denotation in the context in which is being used in the Science paragraph and it is the only practical and meaningful alternative available. The same can be said for other words that might have synonyms (e.g., binding, silencing, site). Other terms, such as methylation and antibodies are unique and do not have synonyms available. In sum, most of the terms (e.g., immunoprecipitation, endogenous, coimmunoprecipitated) and expressions (e.g., Ha-tagged, high-affinity, mammalian histone lysing methyltransferase) in the above paragraph are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to substitute without altering the intended meaning of the paragraph. As a result, the paraphrased version looks somewhat similar to the original and thus, applying the strict definitions of paraphrasing, such as those provided by some writing guides would render our paragraph as a borderline or outright case of plagiarism.

      Perhaps in recognition of the fact that highly technical descriptions of a methodology, phenomena, etc., can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to properly paraphrase, ORI’s definition of plagiarism provides the following caveat:

      “ORI generally does not pursue the limited use of identical or nearly-identical phrases which describe a commonly-used methodology or previous research because ORI does not consider such use as substantially misleading to the reader or of great significance.”

      The above considerations may underlie the reason for the absence of an operational definition of proper paraphrasing.

      • QBeamus
        Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

        A linguistics professor of mine liked to say that modern English was the most technologically advanced natural language (which you might expect, since it’s the most recently created). One of its technological advantages, he said, was its remarkable ability to convey fine gradations of meaning through word order and sentence structure (as opposed to through word choice–though, with modern English’s massive lexicon, that’s also true, as your example illustrates).

        Technical and scientific writing seeks to be as precise as feasible. It’s not surprising, therefore, that it takes advantage of that virtue. The natural consequence, of course, is that it suffers more from forced re-wording.

        It makes me wonder what rephrasing, say, a technical article written in German to avoid allegations of plagarism would be like.

      • Taylor
        Posted Oct 17, 2010 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

        “ORI generally does not pursue the limited use of identical or nearly-identical phrases which describe a commonly-used methodology or previous research because ORI does not consider such use as substantially misleading to the reader or of great significance.”

        As this policy states, ORI doesn’t consider the use of paraphrasing to be misleading per se, i.e., as long as the reader knows that the author is paraphrasing another source’s cited work and doing it honestly, without the intent to mislead, neither of which are true in Wegman’s case. There are numerous instances, as documented by DC and John Mashey, where the “paraphrasing” was done with the clear intention of changing the meaning in such a way as to mislead the reader. Paraphrasing does not relieve the author of the responsibility of properly citing the sources of paraphrased material, nor does it exonerate Wegman for misrepresenting Bradley’s work.

        Another issue, as John Mashey and DC have carefully documented, is that the Wegman report was deliberately conceived and commissioned by Joe Barton and his staff through a highly partisan and biased process to avoid peer review and produce a desired result. As I asked previously, is the Wegman report supposed to be solid scholarship or is it trivial fluff? You can’t have it both ways, although clearly this is what Barton and his staff wanted: an authoritative-sounding paper that needn’t be held to academic or peer-reviewed scientific standards.

        From Mashey’s Executive Summary:
        ” – Barton and Whitfield rejected an offer of a normal National Research Council (NRC) report, then recruited Wegman via an obscure route likely to find a team to produce the desired results.”

        Keep in mind that the problems with Wegman go well beyond plagiarism.

    • Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 5:56 PM | Permalink

      Steven Mosher
      Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 3:56 PM

      “Heres a challange. take bradley’s first paragraph and paraphrase it. Actually try to. You’ll see that its hard to paraphrase without using the same words AND get the idea right.”

      That’s actually Mashey’s main beef with Bradley, that he took the text but just changed words, and in the process got the idea wrong. So his objection is more to the attempt to disguise the derivation.

      • Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 5:57 PM | Permalink

        I mean, of course, that Wegman took the text…

        • theduke
          Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 10:00 PM | Permalink

          Which doesn’t consider the possibility that Wegman had read the material and was trying, from memory, to write it in his own words.

          Which is what you are supposed to do in writing papers.

        • Faustino
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 4:18 AM | Permalink

          No, you wouldn’t do it from memory, you’ld do it with source in front of you.

        • theduke
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 9:17 AM | Permalink

          Or from notes from the source.

        • theduke
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 9:18 AM | Permalink

          Seems to me all three are possible here. Have you asked him?

      • Layman Lurker
        Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 10:13 PM | Permalink

        Nick, the WR used more than one source for it’s tree ring background info. Is it your view that the passages in question either copied Bradley or departed from Bradley to intentionally misrepresent?

        • Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 11:39 PM | Permalink

          LL,
          Well, he wasn’t misrepresenting, because he wasn’t representing the material as Bradley’s. I haven’t studied it enough to affirm Mashey’s contention that Wegman sought to modify the text so it wouldn’t look like Bradley’s, making errors in the process, but he’s made the case in some detail.

          He also suggests that the changes were in the direction of reinforcing Wegman’s view. That’s one of the problems of poor attribution. If Wegman is supposed to be so naive in dendro that it’s OK to just copy Bradley, then what is the status of dendro text that varies from Bradley. Is it then on Wegman’s authority?

        • Layman Lurker
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 1:39 AM | Permalink

          I haven’t studied it enough to affirm Mashey’s contention that Wegman sought to modify the text so it wouldn’t look like Bradley’s, making errors in the process, but he’s made the case in some detail.

          Not likely “making errors in the process”, but rather using a different source, which then accounts for the departure from Bradley. In fairness to DC he has at least (grudgingly) acknowledged this possibility in a recent comment at his blog.

          He compares one of these ‘Bradley departures’ as follows: Wegman’s ‘departure':

          Thus tree ring proxy data alone is not sufficient to determine past climate variables.

          Bradley’s text:

          If an equation can be developed that accurately describes instrumentally observed climatic variability in terms of tree growth over the same interval, then paleoclimatic reconstructions can be made using only the tree-ring data.

          With a search of other sources from the bibliography I found this from Moberg et al:

          “A view has been expressed that only tree-ring and other high resolution data are useful for quantitative large-scale temperature reconstructions3,8. Tree-ring data, however, have a well-documented difficulty in reliably reproducing multicentennial temperature variability17.”

          This statement is actually a premise for Moberg’s reconstruction methodology. The citation at the end of the statment was for Briffa 2001, also listed on the WR bibliography:

          “Such reconstructions represent interannual to multidecadal variations in temperature with a very high level of fidelity, but the indexing procedure used in assembling the earlier chronology predictors prohibits the representation of temperature variability on time scales of about a century or longer.”

          You will note that the original Bradley text shown above makes no distinction about time scale. For all we know this same point may be discussed in the book.

          It did not take me long to find this. If this example is an indication, then there hasn’t been much done to track down or rule out other possible sources for the ‘Bradley departures’. Yet there sure is a lot of innuendo floating around about bias or incompetence or deliberate misrepresentation or fabrication.

        • Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 8:04 AM | Permalink

          LL,
          I agree, he could be using other sources. We don’t know what – but we only know when he’s following Bradley by comparing texts. That’s the problem with loose citation.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 4:01 AM | Permalink

          Re: Nick Stokes (Oct 14 23:39),

          Nick he cited bradley.

        • Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 5:25 AM | Permalink

          Yes, but for example he added something about CO2 fertilisation, which seemed to appeal to him, but wasn’t in Bradley. Who’s speaking at this point?

        • Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 7:50 AM | Permalink

          Re: Nick Stokes (Oct 15 05:25),
          Your arguments become ever more ridiculous. When Wegman quotes Bradley directly, you criticise him. When he changes something slightly, you criticise him!

        • Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 8:12 AM | Permalink

          I haven’t criticised him for closely following Bradley – actually I’ve consistently said that the major problem is with SNA, sec 2.3 and not with Bradley’s stuff. I just reported Mashey’s complaint that W had followed Bradley with deviations toward his agenda.

          But as I’ve also said elsewhere, the Mashey report is not that Bradley-focussed either. I think people here are seizing on the minor Bradley stuff maybe because he’s the one who contacted GMU. Or maybe because it changes the subject away from the extensive copying in Sec 2.3.

        • Dave Dardinger
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 9:01 AM | Permalink

          Re: Nick Stokes (Oct 15 05:25),

          he added something about CO2 fertilisation, which seemed to appeal to him, but wasn’t in Bradley.

          Here’s the first reference to the CO2 fertilization that I can find in the Wegman Report. It’s on page 13:

          Photosynthetic processes are accelerated with the increased availability of carbon
          dioxide in the atmosphere and, hence, it is conjectured that ring growth would also be
          correlated with atmospheric carbon dioxide; see Graybill and Idso (1993).

          As you can see, it has an explicit reference to Graybill and Idso who were the ones who were interested in CO2 fertilization. Some of the team articles mention it too to explain various things, including stripbark Bristlecone pine results, but it’s pretty well proven on this site that the stripbark hockeysticks are a physical result of the stripbark process itself and has little or nothing to do with either CO2 fertilization or temperature (either local or teleconnected.)

          In any case it’s clear that Wegman was referencing Graybill and Idso for CO2 fertilization and not “distorting” any Bradley material that he was using as general background.

        • Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 4:26 PM | Permalink

          Dave D,
          The one I’m referring to is where he says:
          ” The average width of a tree ring is a function of many variables including the tree species, tree age, stored carbohydrates in the tree, nutrients in the soil, and climatic factors including sunlight, precipitation, temperature, wind speed, humidity, and even carbon dioxide availability in the atmosphere. “

          That’s straight out of Bradley, with the same factors listed in the same order, except he’s added in CO2.

          That’s the issue – if you claim it’s OK to just quote without saying so, then what happens when the quote is embellished? Who’s talking then? Is there really evidence that CO2 affects tree-ring width, or did W make it up?

        • Dave Dardinger
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 5:57 PM | Permalink

          Re: Nick Stokes (Oct 15 16:26),

          Is there really evidence that CO2 affects tree-ring width, or did W make it up?

          Of course there’s evidence that CO2 affects tree-ring width, though that’s not, apparently, what caused the increase in stripbark bristlecone pines. Don’t forget that Dr. Idso has been looking at the CO2 fertilization effect for decades and that’s at least part of why the bristlecones were studied in the first place. It’s rather ironic that a skeptic like Dr. Idso is at least partially responsible for producing the proxy most important in getting multiproxy paleoclimatology off the ground. His theory was that with only a small portion of a tree left alive, the more productive that part could be in CO2 fixation, the larger the ring growth would be and that’s why they sought out such trees to take cores from. What they didn’t realize is that it was a transient effect and after a few decades a “decline” in tree ring growth would ensue.

          Now Wegman might not have been as up on this sort of thing as regulars here are (and you should be too). But it wouldn’t have taken him much reading here and in the M&M papers to understand some of the details and he probably figured it should be added as one of the ring-width factors in the backgrounder. I would have too in his place.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 12:48 PM | Permalink

          Ya, the C02 fertilzation got my attention as well.

          Then I looked at the math and saw that this opinion about fertilization had nothing to do with the math. its a wheel that doesnt turn in the analysis. And what would be the point of focusing on a wheel that doesnt turn?

        • Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 4:30 PM | Permalink

          There are a lot of wheels that don’t turn. Most of the section doesn’t affect the math, and the math doesn’t affect his conclusions and recommendations. So it’s pretty hard to say much about the mechanism at all. But still, we keep hearing about the Wegman Report, so presumably something is supposed to matter somewhere.

        • John M
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

          Nick,

          You’ve never answered the question regarding what Gerry North found worthy in the Wegman report to agree with, which is why I suspect so much energy is being expended to discredit something that supposedly doesn’t matter.

      • Steven Mosher
        Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 4:06 AM | Permalink

        Re: Nick Stokes (Oct 14 17:56),

        I’m not seeing any cases where he got the ideas wrong AND where that even matters in the analysis sections. In short, irrelevant.

        What would make a good case is where Wegman got bradley wrong and where that mistake cascaded to the math.

        For example, if wegman switched early and late wood descriptions, who cares.

        So very clearly shpw the mistake: and show how it played anyrole in the analysis.

        Cant. because the stuff wegman copied is boilerplate background.

        • Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 5:33 AM | Permalink

          Well, I said above that it’s their argument, and I hadn’t looked at it closely. I have looked more, and listed it in my response to T Curtin below.

          What I found on looking further was that the Bradley claims are not the dominant part of Mashey’s report. There are only two pages, 116 and 117 (half), with some mention elsewhere. There’s far more on the SNA.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 12:51 PM | Permalink

          ya, my suggestion to people on the DC side of the debate is to focus on the SNA stuff.

          1. The bradley stuff is cited
          2. The bolierplate doesnt impact the analysis.
          3. The brdley stuff may blow up in their face in a way they cannot
          anticipate.

          The SNA stuff is a better. Just saying.

      • Carrick
        Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 5:33 PM | Permalink

        Nick Stokes:

        So his objection is more to the attempt to disguise the derivation

        Assumption of motive here?

  70. Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 5:02 PM | Permalink

    The issue is not whether Wegman committed plagiarism as a technicality, but rather, who cares? Obviously, Wegman had nothing whatever to gain from using words written by Bradley in reviewing Bradley’s work. Lost in all this is the question of whether Wegman was right – and I believe that he was. If Wegman was right, then the various hockey sticks prepared by Mann, Bradley and Hughes, Esper Cook and Schweingruber, Mann and Jones, and Mann et al. are all bogus. While dozens of people continue to file their comments on whether it was plagiarism or it was not, that is akin to fiddling while Rome burns. Meanwhile, the hockey stick continues to spread through our schools and textbooks like a plague, while Bradley desperately tries to protect his turf from the truth by discrediting Wegman personally. Proof of this is that Bradley has offered to stop his prosecution (persecution?) of Wegman if Wegman will remove his report from the Congressional Register. It is like a burning of the books. Farenheit 451 all over again.

  71. TinyCO2
    Posted Oct 14, 2010 at 7:02 PM | Permalink

    Plagarism is not a crime but copyright is a real minefield. Eg, you could steal the plot for a movie and there’s little that can be done but if you pinch recognisable bits of the dialog you’re in trouble.

    There has been a big move into copyright suits against blogs and aggregator sites for example the Las Vegas Review-Journal articles.

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/07/copyright-trolling-for-dollars/

    The statute of limitations on copyright is 3 years but it gets really complicated if stuff appears online or if hard copies are still available. The three years only starts from the point the infringement stops (ie the copy is removed/changed). It gets even murkier if you add that the infringement was known about but the plaintiff didn’t do anything about it.

    http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2006/03/30/statute-of-limitations-in-copyright-law/

    Academic instances of plagarism are a bit different and tend to be dealt with by Universities but I don’t know if that is purely because people don’t want to create too much fuss. These two links are about repeated possible plagarism incidents by a well know UK TV psychiatrist. The instances seem much more pronounced than in the Wegman case.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2005/dec/28/broadcasting.highereducation

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/jun/18/mentalhealth.health

    If this starts in earnest I’m not sure where it would stop. Despite the referencing of one work by another being standard in science literature, theoretically I suppose an author could be sued for anything the referenced scientist didn’t want included.

  72. Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 12:24 AM | Permalink

    Nick Stokes as always grabs the wrong end of the stick “.. I haven’t studied it enough to affirm Mashey’s contention that Wegman sought to modify the text so it wouldn’t look like Bradley’s, making errors in the process, but he’s made the case in some detail… He also suggests that the changes were in the direction of reinforcing Wegman’s view…”

    Mashey is at pains throughout his tedious and libellous screed to show how similar Wegman’s summary is to Bradley’s orginal. And that was actually his intent in order to fulfil his terms of reference:

    “The Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce as well as the Chairman of
    the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations have been interested in an independent verification of the critiques of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) [MBH98, MBH99] by McIntyre and McKitrick (2003, 2005a, 2005b) [MM03, MM05a, MM05b] as well as the related implications in the assessment. The conclusions from MBH98, MBH99 were
    featured in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report entitled Climate
    Change 20013: The Scientific Basis. This report concerns the rise in global temperatures,
    specifically during the 1990s. The MBH98 and MBH99 papers are focused on paleoclimate temperature reconstruction and conclusions therein focus on what appear to be a rapid rise in global temperature during the 1990s when compared with temperatures of the previous millennium. These conclusions generated a highly polarized debate over the policy implications of MBH98, MBH99 for the nature of global climate change, and whether or not anthropogenic actions are the source.”

    Mashey has found no evidence that Wegman wilfully misrepresented the contents of papers co-authored by Bradley, as he and Bradley are determined to prove that Wegman plagiarised those papers, with paraphrases almost identical to the originals.

    After citing Bradley 6 times in his Section 2.1 Wegman goes on to summarise the work of McIntyre and McKitrick. Why has Mashey not induced Wegman’s GMU to undertake further plagiarism charges against Wegman on behalf of McKitrick?

    And indeed, public spirited as he is, Mashey should have asked Esper etal, Moberg, von Storch, Cubasch and above all Mike Mann to join in a general complaint to GMU, as all these and others as well McI and McK are summarised at various points in the Wegman report.

    Neither Stokes nor Mashey at any point undertake their own evaluation of the dendro analyses by MBH and MM. Why not? Surely they are the real issue?

    • Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 5:22 AM | Permalink

      Tim,
      I think you misunderstand the nature of the GMU investigation. It is GMU investigating all aspects of possible plagiarizing, to safeguard their own reputation. They don’t need Mashey to tell them who to investigate, or aggrieved authors to complain.

      The most readable account of the DC/Mashey complaints about the Bradley section are in this DC post. There’s an accompanying PDF. The title describes the relation between Bradley and the WR as a divergence, and DC says:

      “That comparison leaves no doubt that Wegman et al’s explication was substantially derived from that of Bradley, although the relevant attribution appears to be missing. There are, however, several divergences of note, also in the main unattributed, and some of Wegman’s paraphrasing introduces errors of analysis.

      But the real shocker comes in two key passages in Wegman et al, which state unsubstantiated findings in flagrant contradiction with those of Bradley, apparently in order to denigrate the value of tree-ring derived temperature reconstructions.”

      It’s not relevant to the plagiarism issue, but as a matter of maths I am interested in the PCA issues, and I have a recent post on my blog, which I want to take further. However, as I’ve said many times, the decentering issue is really old hat. There have been many other reconstructions since 1999, and none have used decentred PCA. All that cover 20C produce some kind of hockey stick.

      • Steven Mosher
        Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 4:24 PM | Permalink

        But the real shocker comes in two key passages in Wegman et al, which state unsubstantiated findings in flagrant contradiction with those of Bradley, apparently in order to denigrate the value of tree-ring derived temperature reconstructions.”

        im struggling finding this exactly

  73. UC
    Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

    Nonetheless, given the lengths to which the Team has gone from time to time to avoid the slightest acknowledgment of Climate Audit, I welcome this new zeal on the part of climate scientists against plagiarism, which, by definition, also includes using the “ideas” of “another person without giving appropriate credit”

    Fixing errors within hours etc., http://climateaudit.org/2008/09/02/uc-on-mann-smoothing/
    Of course, difficult to say whether this was exactly the first documented pointer to the error. And not sure if there are any rules for acknowledging anonymous blog commenters yet ;)

  74. Frank
    Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 2:09 PM | Permalink

    Steve: Although I agree with many of the points you make above, your analysis seems incomplete. The moment one copies and pastes ANY text into a document, one has an obligation to treat that material with appropriate intellectual honesty and respect – even if the ideas in the text are common knowledge. And one must take action immediately after pasting or risk plagiarism by losing track of the origin of the pasted material. One can “take action” by using quotation marks, but many copied passages require so many changes that quotation marks are impractical. It is certainly not intellectually honest to pretend that rephrasing someone else’s thoughts is equivalent to composing your own. An ordinary citation at the end of a paragraph can be inadequate when: 1) multiple sentences in a paragraph originate with another author and 2) READERS ASSUME THAT THE WORDS IN THE PARAGRAPH ORIGINATED WITH THE AUTHOR, not copy-and-paste. A reader of a contract with lots of legal boilerplate does not assume that the words are original, while the reader of the introduction to a scientific paper does. When you first read the Wegman Report or any of the comparison documents, did you anticipate that some sections had been done by cut-and-paste or cut-paste-and-rephrase? If so, you have been mislead. Misleading a reader is wrong, whether or not such practices occasionally occur in your field.

    The Wegman report could have shown more intellectual honesty and respect for its sources. Wegman could have said something like: “The above description of the effects of climate on tree rings is derived mostly from Chapter # of Bradley’s 1999 book.” Wegman could have lent his authority to and shown respect for the Wikipedia article by adding a sentence explaining why he chose this source: “The following description Social Network Analysis taken from Wikipedia is unusually clear.” Since Wegman was writing a pro bono report for the government (probably with a tight deadline) covering some areas where he was not an expert, Wegman was fully justified in re-using material from other experts with proper citation. Such wholesale appropriation probably wouldn’t be considered acceptable by the editor of a journal, the publisher of a book, or the NAS and the IPCC (who convene panels with appropriate expertise and adequate time).

    In this post, ClimateAudit showed respect for “reader ZT” by including both his name AND a direct link to his comment. The scope of ZT’s contribution is crystal clear.

    • Neil Fisher
      Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 5:25 PM | Permalink

      If I write a piece about why I find a statute “bad”, I might write something like “Statute x criminalises action y under circumstaces z. This is bad because a,b and c”.

      Clearly, the first part (sentence, in the above) is a summary of the law, while the second is my opinion of that law. I don’t believe most people would suggest that my summary (or synopsis if you prefer) of the law was plagerism – even should some of the wording be lifted directly from the law as written (with or without quotation marks). Some might argue that my summary was incorrect, or that it focused on an insignificant issue, or any of a myriad of other complaints, but none would suggest that it was plagerism. It was/is a summary as introduction to my main point as expressed in part (sentence) two – and what I write in that part most certainly could and should be called plagerism if I had lifted it from another author’s work without proper attribution.

      It seems to me that SM is suggesting the complaints of plagerism have arisen in the first part – from the introductory summary section of the WR. If this is indeed true, then I don’t think any reasonable person can or should support such allegations/complaints, as outlined above – by all means make the complaint that such summary is incorrect, or that it doesn’t include relevent points, or that it focuses on insignificant or irrelevent details. But to call it plagerism is, well, extremely odd and IMO, just plain wrong. How could anyone not already intimately familiar with what I was discussing have any idea what I was talking about if I only published part (sentence) two? If my piece is specifically aimed at people who have only limited knowledge of the subject (as the WR apparently was), leaving it out makes no sense. Littering such an introduction with references also makes no sense – I need only reference the work once, in plain sight and then present my summary because it is implicit that it is a summary and further that such summary is not a summary by the original author (and therefore may not follow the same direction or intent as the original author might in her summary).

  75. Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 8:55 PM | Permalink

    Nick Stokes, I despair of you, when will you show you understand the concept of “plagiarism”? Certainly not here, when you say “But I’m answering the issue – did the plagiarism affect the conclusions? If the conclusions don’t follow from the report, then yes, the plagiarisms don’t affect them. What could?”

    There was NO plagiarism of Bradley in Wegman, who had no reason to pass off Bradley’s work as his own, since he very clearly disagrees with Bradley’s conclusions. Wegman summarises Bradley in order to be able to address the criticisms by MM of MBH et al. Geddit?

    John Mashey has shown that the W summaries of Bradley are actually very accurate with just a few shortenings and the very occasional gloss, eg the mention of the role of CO2 in determining the response of tree rings to climate variations that is so very mysteriously ignored by B and MBH, I wonder why?

    Anyway, see if you can find Jon Lloyd & Graham Farquhar in Phil Trans of the Royal Society, no less:

    Effects of rising temperatures and [CO2]
    on the physiology of tropical forest trees
    Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B
    doi:10.1098/rstb.2007.0032
    Published online

    Their Abtract concludes:

    “Our model suggests that although reductions in photosynthetic rate at leaf temperatures (TL) above 308C may occur, these are almost entirely accountable for in terms of reductions in stomatal conductance in response to higher leaf to-air vapour pressure deficits D.This is as opposed to direct effects of TL on photosynthetic metabolism.

    We also find that increases in photosynthetic rates associated with increases in ambient [CO2] over forthcoming decades should more than offset any decline in photosynthetic productivity due to higher D or TL or increased autotrophic respiration rates as a consequence of higher tissue temperatures. We also find little direct evidence that tropical forests should not be able to respond to increases in [CO2] and argue that the magnitude and pattern of increases in forest dynamics across Amazonia observed over the last few decades are consistent with a [CO2]-induced stimulation of tree growth.”

    So the real issue with Bradley and MBH is why they refuse to discuss the role of atmospheric CO2 in tree growth and thereby on dendrochronology.

    Suppressio veri is a real academic offence, far worse than the non-existent plagiarism in Wegman. I have every intention of taking this up with the employers of MBH.

    Your own sublime ignorance on all this became clear when you admitted here you had never heard of the role of CO2 in tree growth.

    • Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 9:39 PM | Permalink

      Tim,
      You’re not very accurate with facts. I didn’t “admit” that I had never heard of the role of CO2 in tree growth. And I’m well aware that CO2 can enhance photosynthesis. I’m just pointing out that if you’re going to tell congress that CO2 is a factor with tree-rings, you need some evidence, and just inserting it in a passage from Bradley does not do that.

      But guided by this post, you have a one-eyed focus on the Bradley issue, which is a minor part of the Mashey report. The SNA stuff includes whole paras copied from Wiki and from two uncited texts.
      According to Mashey, 1700 words.

      • Kan
        Posted Oct 16, 2010 at 11:24 PM | Permalink

        “I’m just pointing out that if you’re going to tell congress that CO2 is a factor with tree-rings, you need some evidence,…”

        Talk about common knowledge. I think every 8th grade science fair expounds on this in some manner. (On second thought, that does not mean every congressperson would know this…)

  76. Posted Oct 15, 2010 at 10:36 PM | Permalink

    Nick: I dont accept your gloss on your comment about CO2 and trees, nor your latest:

    “I’m just pointing out that if you’re going to tell congress that CO2 is a factor with tree-rings, you need some evidence, and just inserting it in a passage from Bradley does not do that.”

    How many times? Wegman is not an academic paper, but a Report on MBH v MM. In summarising B, Wegman is setting the stage, and his inclusion of CO2 as a factor (not mentioned by Bradley) in itself nullifies the plagiarism charge.

    Then you say: “But guided by this post, you have a one-eyed focus on the Bradley issue, which is a minor part of the Mashey report”. hardly, and it is Bradley and Mashey who have instigated the GMU witch hunt.

    However I owe an apology to MBH 1998, as they do indeed discuss CO2 at some length. The main problem with that section is their blithe assumption that changes in [CO2] and GMT correlate:

    “The partial correlation with CO2 indeed dominates over that of solar irradiance
    for the most recent 200-year interval, as increases in temperature and CO2 simultaneously accelerate through to the end of 1995, while solar irradiance levels off after the mid-twentieth century. It is reasonable to infer that greenhouse-gas forcing is now the dominant
    external forcing of the climate system.”

    Actually my just submitted paper shows that correlations between [CO2] and GMT are spurious not just globally but even more so locally (in situ).

  77. Posted Oct 18, 2010 at 4:43 AM | Permalink

    My my, they are getting a bit desperate aren’t they? Reduced to defaming the authors of 4 year old reports. Anything to distract attention from the threadbare theory to which they adhere.

  78. Alex Harvey
    Posted Oct 27, 2010 at 12:06 AM | Permalink

    Dear Steve/others,

    One of John Mashey’s more serious allegations against Wegman et al. is that he has silently inverted some of Bradley’s conclusions. In particular, in Wegman ‘para 3′ it is stated

    “Because the early history of tree rings confounds climatic signal with low frequency specimen specific signal, tree rings are not usually effective for accurately determining low frequency, longer term effects.”

    From http://deepclimate.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/wegman-bradley-tree-rings-v20.pdf

    It seems there are three possibilities here:

    (1) Mashey is right, and Wegman really has silently distorted the Bradley text by substituting his own opinion or someone else’s uncited opinion here.

    (2) Mashey is wrong; there is no actual contradiction between what Wegman says and what Bradley says, and lay people like me are just confused.

    (3) Mashey is wrong; although Wegman is not following Bradley here, he is following another authoritative text which disagrees with Bradley that is listed in his bibliography. If so, the question would then become what is the text Wegman is following here?

    Can anyone help to resolve this mystery?

    Best, Alex

  79. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 6, 2011 at 11:13 PM | Permalink

    Deep Climate linked to this thread stating:

    Rapp had already aired various private statements from Wegman at ClimateAudit and WattsUpWithThat.

    I reviewed Rapp’s comments and none of them here, as far as I can tell, “airs” a private statement from Wegman. Perhaps he did so at WUWT, but doesn’t seem to have done so here.

    • Posted Jan 7, 2011 at 10:02 AM | Permalink

      Steve: I stopped paying any attention to DC a long time ago.

      The only private statement I can recall was that Wegman said: “It is my opinion that Dr. Rapp has not plagiarized anything and I hold him harmless.”

      It is noteworthy that Bradley says in an email that he will not prosecute Wegman if Wegman removes his report from the Congressional Archives. This is a desperate attempt to avoid technical criticism.

      Meanwhile, the hockey stick lives and flourishes while DC has the community dancing to his tune of “plagiarism”.

14 Trackbacks

  1. [...] Read the rest over at Climate Audit [...]

  2. By Manic Flail: Epic Fail | Watts Up With That? on Oct 12, 2010 at 11:30 PM

    [...] in conjunction with this essay, may I suggest that readers also visit Climate Audit and read Steve McIntyre’s careful evisceration of the “copygate issue”. – [...]

  3. [...] Steve McIntyre puts the Copygate scandal (paper here) of the 2006 Wegman Report into context. [...]

  4. By Top Posts — WordPress.com on Oct 13, 2010 at 7:14 PM

    [...] Copygate As readers know, Raymond Bradley’s allegation that “text was just lifted verbatim from my book and placed [...] [...]

  5. [...] Audit reader Geoff left this in the comments at the excellent CA copygate thread.  Not sure if this is Geoff Sherrington or not. Geoff Posted Oct 13, 2010 at 8:45 AM | Permalink | [...]

  6. By The Blackboard » Citation Plagiarism? on Oct 15, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    [...] touching on plagiarism. Particularly lively and interesting more recent discussions appear at climate audit ,the air vent and Judy Curry’s open [...]

  7. [...] going on about the Wegman report (Aka “copygate” Steve McIntyre sums it up pretty well here) and attribution to Bradley and a whole strange set of circumstances, it seems to me that after [...]

  8. By Wegman on Deep Climate | Deep Climate on Jan 6, 2011 at 10:36 PM

    [...] this latest batch of revelations, Rapp had already aired various private statements from Wegman at ClimateAudit and WattsUpWithThat. With ever so discreet friends like that, who needs [...]

  9. By Trenberth and Copygate « Climate Audit on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    [...] was just lifted verbatim from my book and placed in the Wegman Report”. See CA discussion e.g. here here – posts which included criticism of the Wegman Report in respect to its citation of [...]

  10. [...] was just lifted verbatim from my book and placed in the Wegman Report”. See CA discussion e.g. here here – posts which included criticism of the Wegman Report in respect to its citation of [...]

  11. [...] Virginia state educational institution. Bradley had accused Wegman of plagiarizing his work (more meaningless “boilerplate,” according to Climate Audit, irrelevant to Wegman’s findings) in his 2006 report that [...]

  12. [...] Copygate produced bluster over plagiarism of a book (by Raymond Bradley) by Edward Wegman’s report to Congress investigating hockey sticks before it was shown that Bradley had copied captions from a 1976 book, also without citation. Eventually Wegman was “slapped on the wrist” for ‘extensive paraphrasing’ and ‘poor attribution’. But lack of attribution seems common enough in climate science. Kevin Trenberth was caught out by Steve McIntyre and quietly added citations, while Anthony Watts handled attribution oversight by Matt Menne and NOAA in an exemplary manner.  At blog level Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate has certainly incorporated information without acknowledgement, probably out of pettiness as Steve McIntyre suggests. [...]

  13. [...] Copygate produced bluster over plagiarism of a book (by Raymond Bradley) by Edward Wegman’s report to Congress investigating hockey sticks before it was shown that Bradley had copied captions from a 1976 book, also without citation. Eventually Wegman was “slapped on the wrist” for ‘extensive paraphrasing’ and ‘poor attribution’. But lack of attribution seems common enough in climate science. Kevin Trenberth was caught out by Steve McIntyre and quietly added citations, while Anthony Watts handled attribution oversight by Matt Menne and NOAA in an exemplary manner.  At blog level Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate has certainly incorporated information without acknowledgement, probably out of pettiness as Steve McIntyre suggests. [...]

  14. [...] Copygate produced bluster over plagiarism of a book (by Raymond Bradley) by Edward Wegman’s report to Congress investigating hockey sticks before it was shown that Bradley had copied captions from a 1976 book, also without citation. Eventually Wegman was “slapped on the wrist” for ‘extensive paraphrasing’ and ‘poor attribution’. But lack of attribution seems common enough in climate science. Kevin Trenberth was caught out by Steve McIntyre and quietly added citations, while Anthony Watts handled attribution oversight by Matt Menne and NOAA in an exemplary manner.  At blog level Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate has certainly incorporated information without acknowledgement, probably out of pettiness as Steve McIntyre suggests. [...]

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