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Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas) authorized the report attacking climate change research that was recently found to have been plagiarized.  (Source: Alex Brandon/AP)

Edward Wegman's report attacking the "hockey-stick" model has been shown by several sources to consist substantially of plagiarized passages.  (Source: George Mason University)

Ironically the man whose research the report attacked, Penn State University Professor Michael Mann, was recently implicated in academic misconduct himself. He was shown in leaked emails from the CRU, appearing to suggest subverting the peer review process to push his global warming viewpoint.  (Source: Penn State University)
The climate change debate these days is looking less like intellectual debate and more like dirty politics

These days the climate change debate seems to have devolved into a scene from the movie Dumb and Dumber.  Everyone seeming has an agenda and an axe to grind.  Unfortunately many involved in the debate on both sides seem to see little need to conduct themselves with integrity, commonly resorting to hyperbole and fakery.

The latest controversy is that a leading report touted by climate change skeptics has been found to be partially plagiarized.  Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas), a leading climate change skeptic in Congress, had requested the report in 2006 to counter assertions that man was causing climate change.  Rep. Barton contracted George Mason University statistician Edward Wegman to produce a report looking at the research for flaws.

The result was a report that attacked leading Paleoclimatologist Michael Mann's so-called "hockey-stick graph" that showed temperatures over the last thousand years.  The "hockey-stick" model was used in the UN International Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) 2001 report.

Despite acknowledging that the report by Professor Wegman correctly identified flaws in Professor Mann's study, the National Research Council concluded in 2006 that its criticisms were irrelevant due to the fact that more reliable later studies confirmed its conclusions.

Now Professor Wegman's report has been dealt another setback.

In a report in 
USA Today, three leading plagiarism experts -- Cornell's Paul Ginsparg, Ohio State's Robert Coleman, and Virginia Tech' Skip Garner concluded that significant passages in the "study" were lifted from "textbooks, Wikipedia and the writings of one of the scientists criticized in the report" without proper citation.  They call the academic misconduct, "actually fairly shocking," "inappropriate," and "fairly obvious".

Others have also noticed and complained about the plagiarism.  According to
USA Today:

[I]n March, climate scientist Raymond Bradley of the University of Massachusetts asked GMU, based in Fairfax, Va., to investigate "clear plagiarism" of one of his textbooks.

Bradley says he learned of the copying on the Deep Climate website and through a now year-long analysis of the Wegman report made by retired computer scientist John Mashey of Portola Valley, Calif. Mashey's analysis concludes that 35 of the report's 91 pages "are mostly plagiarized text, but often injected with errors, bias and changes of meaning." Copying others' text or ideas without crediting them violates universities' standards, according to Liz Wager of the London-based Committee on Publication Ethics. 

George Mason University is investigating the charges.  In the past Professor Wegman had responded to rumors that part of the report might have been plagiarized, calling them "wild conclusions that have nothing to do with reality."  Rep. Barton also appears to be standing behind the report.

Of course the plagiarism does not invalidate the report's criticisms, it just showcases the bias and incompetence that's marring the arguments of both sides of the climate debate.  It also represents a major black mark on the record of Professor Wegman.

Proponents of the theory that man is causing climate changes were recently caught up in a similar debacle when emails leaked from the Climate Research Unit in England.  While those emails seemingly implicated CRU director Phil JonesProfessor Mann, and others in clear and blatant academic misconduct and subversion of the peer review process, subsequent investigations largely exonerated those involved.  Professor Jones and Professor Mann were among those chastised, though, by various panels for their indiscretions in the scandal.  And they're lucky they didn't get worse -- given the seemingly damning nature of the emails, one has to wonder whether a bias wasn't involved in those exonerations.

At the end of the day the CRU scandal and the new scandal surrounding the Wegman report show off the embarrassing and disturbing state of climate research today.  

Understanding and reacting to the Earth's climate is absolutely critical and is a worthy topic of research.  However, with impassioned observers on both sides of the climate change debate seemingly willing to compromise their integrity to fallaciously promote their point of view, one has to wonder how this critical, yet broken field of research can be fixed and restored to honor.

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RE: Total Solar Input
By Ytsejamer1 on 11/24/2010 9:03:29 AM , Rating: 2
I didn't count nuclear as a natural resource, but I agree with you, we need nuclear as well. I totally dislike those "not in my backyard" peeps that want to power the world on happy thoughts.

Along with all of that investment in energy production, we need to improve our aging grid. There's lots of opportunity for expanding our domestic energy portfolio while at the same time improving our infrastructure. That will lead to both plenty of white collar and blue collar jobs that cannot really be outsourced...and with more people working, paying taxes, etc, the economy will get better. Without having to borrow hundreds of billions from China, just to send hundreds of billions to the middle east for their oil, we can make ourselves a bit safer. See the pattern here? There's a great opportunity for the US to improve itself by nutting up and taking on this issue directly rather than arguing about whether or not warming was caused naturally or by man. As I said, it has ZERO bearing on whether we should be working on developing clean, renewable energy from the world's natural resources.

As for debate and health care...debating should continue, as should there be improvements made in all facets of it. Is it perfect? No...not even close. Doesn't mean we don't move forward and try something else. If we wait back for some magic complete solution to every problem to just appear at no cost to anyone, we'll be waiting forever. It takes hard work, difficult decisions (hopefully more right than wrong), and time to make something happen in a positive direction.

Polls don't mean crap to me...there's so much more misinformation on the subject than there is legit information. I talk to fairly well educated people, but they're convinced President Obama is Muslim (he isn't), wasn't born in US (he was), and his wife is a racist (wrote about racism in a college paper and a single quote was taken out of a larger context)... People will believe what they want to and cling to any bit of information (true or not) that reinforces their outlook. You know what? God bless...everyone is entitled to their opinion.

RE: Total Solar Input
By tng on 11/24/2010 9:40:49 AM , Rating: 2
...but they're convinced President Obama is Muslim (he isn't)....
Agreed, this is just pathetic crap.

...wasn't born in US (he was)...
This is still a question in my mind. Don't know if he was or not, but the records on this have been locked up tight. If it is not evidence of foreign birth, there is something that he doesn't want known. There has been a Certificate of Live Birth released, but no Birth Certificate released. Yes they are different and yes it does matter. I don't think personally that it proves that he was not born a US citizen, but probably something else that is just embarrassing.

On the Michelle Obama racist issue, I haven't read the paper she wrote, so I wont comment on that, but she has made some provocative statements in the past. Probably regrets some of them now.

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