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Posts Tagged Mashey

NZ Herald’s turn to offer propaganda as opinion – De Freitas’ links to cranks hidden from readers Gareth Renowden Sep 12

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The new “compactNZ Herald has taken a downmarket tabloid approach to informing its readers by running an opinion piece about the recent courtroom defeat for NZ’s climate cranks by prominent climate sceptic and Auckland University geographer Chris de Freitas, without explaining de Freitas’ long history of association with the cranks he’s defending. In the article, de Freitas overstates the uncertainties associated with temperature records, even going so far as to imply that the warming trend over the last hundred years might be “indistinguishable from zero”1. He also overplays the importance of temperature series to policy-makers — a line straight out of crank litigant Barry Brill’s playbook, and self-evident nonsense.

Despite this transparent partiality, the opinion editors at the Herald credit him like this:

Chris de Freitas is an associate professor in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland.

But, as the Herald opinion team well know, de Freitas is much, much more than a mere associate professor in the School of Environment. He has a track record of activism against action on climate change that stretches back two decades. Here, for the poor misled readers of the new Herald‘s opinion pages is a handy, cut-out-and-keep guide to de Freitas’ long history of climate denial activism.

This long list is far from complete — not least because it doesn’t include all the sceptic nonsense he’s presented as opinion at the NZ Herald and National Business Review over the years3, but it should serve to give a flavour of the man that Herald readers might think was a humble and respectable geographer at the University of Auckland.

The Herald has no excuse for failing to explain de Freitas’ interests in this issue, and should print a clarification as soon as possible. Carrying a good piece by Brian Rudman may “balance” CdF’s effort in some eyes, but the paper really needs to do better. What next? An opinion piece criticising the Labour party by prime minister John Key, where he is described as “a retired banker”?

[Updated 13/9 to add CEI link, and CdF's publication record.]

  1. “Temperature trends detected are small, usually just a few tenths of one degree Celsius over 100 years, a rate that is exceeded by the data’s standard error. Statistically this means the trend is indistinguishable from zero.”
  2. It didn’t.
  3. A rough count suggests that since 1990 he has published around 77 opinion
    pieces about climate change – with 32 in NBR and 27 in the Herald – partial publication record here.

From the trenches: Michael Mann on Wegman and the climate wars Gareth Renowden Mar 08

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The latest video from Peter “Climate Crocks” Sinclair in his new series at The Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media is an extended interview with Michael Mann about his new book (reviewed by Bryan here), and gives an excellent overview of the hockey stick issue — including the Mashey/Deep Climate discovery of plagiarism in the Wegman Report. Michael Mann, the Hockey Stick … and the Climate Wars is well worth watching, if only for the frankly incredible way that Wegman answers a question about carbon dioxide.

The Climate Show #24: John Mashey digs into organised denial Gareth Renowden Mar 04

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It’s been a long summer (not a hot one) for the The Climate Show, but Glenn, Gareth and John are back with a good show for the new year. Feature interview — and it’s a cracker — is with Californian computer scientist John Mashey, who has been digging deep into the networks of organised denial, tracking the flows of money and malpractice from plagiarism to zombie chairmen. Plus John Cook introduces his Debunking Handbook, a look at Arctic ice and its impact on European weather and a report calling for “dramatic action to avert a collapse of civilisation”.

Watch The Climate Show on our Youtube channel, subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, listen to us via Stitcher on your smartphone or listen direct/download from the link below the fold.

Follow The Climate Show at The Climate Show web site, and on Facebook and Twitter.

The Climate Show

News & commentary: [0:02:00]

2011 was a cool hot year: 2011: a hot cold year …but La Niña is on its way out (NIWA seasonal forecast).

Warm winter in most of the US, but very cold snap in Europe: third paper published confirming link between Arctic sea ice loss and synoptic change: BBC, Climate Progress.

New report prepared by ’Blue Planet’ prizewinners for Rio+20 finds civilisation faces unprecedented ’perfect storm of ecological and social problems“:

In the face of an “absolutely unprecedented emergency”, say the 18 past winners of the Blue Planet prize — the unofficial Nobel for the environment — society has “no choice but to take dramatic action to avert a collapse of civilisation. Either we will change our ways and build an entirely new kind of global society, or they will be changed for us”.

Download report.

Rio+20.

No-waste circular economy is good business — ask China: New Scientist

Heartland document leak and repercussions:

NZ sceptics funded by Heartland

Mashey report

Documents leaked:What becomes of the broken Heartland?

Peter Gleick confesses: (Not So Simple) Twist Of Fate

Education as propaganda: Heartland on education: they’d like to teach the world to lie

Interview [0:25:50]

John Mashey, digging into: the Wegman report, Heartland, Singer et al. For reports check DeSmogBlog and Deep Climate.

Debunking the sceptic [1:04:00]

John Cook from skepticalscience.com rejoins the show to tell us all about The Debunking Handbook and backfire effects.

http://sks.to/debunk

Solutions [1:16:30]

Liquid flow battery could recharge in three minutes.

Improved lithium ion battery could double current storage.

Thanks to our media partners: Idealog Sustain, Sciblogs, Scoop and KiwiFM.

Theme music: A Drop In The Ocean by The Bads.

Heartland on education: they’d like to teach the world to lie Gareth Renowden Feb 26

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This is the Climate Reality Project‘s response to plans by the Heartland Institute to create a ’Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Schools’ in the USA that ’isn’t alarmist or overtly political’, as revealed in the recently leaked documents. Heartland wants to “teach the controversy” about global warming, and has budgeted US$200,000 for the project. The CRP video is very effective, but if you think that Climate Reality might be slightly over-egging the pudding — that perhaps even Heartland wouldn’t go that far — then have I got news for you. The indomitable John Mashey has released a special report on Heartland’s history of attempts to get its distortions of climate science taught in schools — he’s dubbed it Fakeducation — and it stretches back over a decade.

In an attempt to counter the success of An Inconvenient Truth, Heartland released a DVD called Global Warming: Emerging Science and Understanding, together with supporting teaching materials, and a web site: globalwarmingclassroom.info. There’s a trailer for the DVD here, and further excerpts available here. They are remarkable for cramming just about every item in the climate crank catechism of cliché into just a few minutes, but it’s the teaching materials that I find most interesting. Virtually nothing in them is true. In fact, you could argue that Heartland was aiming to teach children to lie.

Take a look at the first “lesson plan” designed to accompany the DVD. These are the lesson goals:

  1. Students know the different atmospheric gases that absorb the Earth’s thermal radiation and the mechanism and significance of the greenhouse effect.
  2. The students will learn how the earth’s temperature is highly variable and that it has been stable or declining in recent years while carbon dioxide continues to increase.
  3. The student’s will learn that temperature precedes change’s in carbon dioxide, not the other way around as previously thought.
  4. The students will learn that when all of the emerging science is considered, man-caused global warming is not a forgone conclusion agreed upon by all scientists. There is great debate within the scientific community.

Also in lesson one:

Massive Data Fraud in NOAA and NASA: […] The data used by NOAA and NASA is shown to have excluded temperature data from northern latitudes and high elevations since 1980 which automatically shows greatly increased temperatures that supposedly shows great man-caused global warming. Also discusses Britain’s Climate Research Unit’s (CRU) massive data manipulation called Climategate.

Oh really? Does systematic libel of scientific organisations really belong in the classroom?

The list of “discussion questions” to be raised after viewing the video is frankly amazing. Everyone knows that deniers are obsessed with hockey sticks, but this is what Heartland wanted the children of North America to learn:

MBH98 or ’The Hockey Stick Curve’ is widely used by environmentalists and the United Nations to support global warming, but the paper was never audited by peers. Why is it important for research to be audited by peers?

Auditing holds people accountable for their work and looks for errors. Simple errors can cause data to be wrong and lead to false assumptions. Tragically, many of these scientists will not allow other scientists to look at their data. That is what happened with the Hockey Stick Curve controversy.

MBH98 never “audited by peers”? Presumably they mean that Monckton has never read it…

Lesson plan two, is if anything, even worse. Here are the learning goals:

  1. Students will learn that most scientists agree that policy should be based upon empirical, scientific evidence and not on political agendas.
  2. The students will learn that the United Nations’ IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is a political body and not a scientific one. And they will learn that the “Summary for Policy Makers” published by the IPCC was actually written months before the actual document. Furthermore, that in writing the Summary, available scientific evidence was ignored when it contradicted the agenda of the Panel.
  3. Students will learn that General Circulation Models, GCM’s, are not reliable because the actual climate systems that they attempt to calculate and simulate are far too complex.
  4. Students will learn that because of the complexities of the earth’s climate, the patterns generated by the GCM’s do not always line up with the actual observed climate patterns. The “fingerprints” don’t match.

And once more the “discussion” section is packed with falsehoods. Here’s a question about the IPCC’s Summary For Policmakers:

When is the summary issued? When is the document issued?

It is written before the actual document that the scientists write. It is published months before the body of the document is written.

Which is, of course, completely untrue.

Given the tenuous relationship between reality and what Heartland thought the kids of America should know about climate science, it’s perhaps not surprising that in the leaked Heartland “fundraising” document, the lobby group laments that its previous attempts to infiltrate schools “had only limited success.”

Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective. Moreover, material for classroom use must be carefully written to meet curriculum guidelines…

Of course, reality has a well known liberal bias. That’s why Heartland’s new curriculum project is going to set them back US$200,000. They’re going to have to be just a tad more subtle than last time, not least because now the whole world’s watching.

[Blearggh - for all sorts of reasons, most of them having to do with good taste.]

(Not So Simple) Twist Of Fate Gareth Renowden Feb 21

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Something I didn’t expect: Peter Gleick, the director of the Pacific Institute, a vocal opponent of climate denial and a highly respected scientist, turns out to have been behind the leak of the Heartland Institute board meeting documents that have been creating waves for the last week. Gleick made the admission in an article at Huffington Post earlier today (NZ). He reports that he received:

…an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute’s climate program strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute’s apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy. I do not know the source of that original document but assumed it was sent to me because of my past exchanges with Heartland and because I was named in it.

In order to attempt to verify that document’s contents, he:

…solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name. The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget.

Gleick goes on to apologise for what he calls “a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics”.

As you might expect, the usual suspects are all over Gleick’s admission like a rash, but it’s important to retain some perspective here. The people so ready to decry Gleick’s actions were notably silent about the theft and release of private emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. The Heartland Institute was central to promoting discussion of those emails, and continues to paint their contents as a scandal. Their hypocrisy, and that of Watts, McIntyre and the rest of the Heartland fellow travellers, is breathtaking.

Nevertheless, Gleick should not have done what he did. However valuable the public service he performed in exposing the reality of Heartland’s climate lobbying and the roots of its funding — and that information is hugely important to any “rational discussion” of why, more than 20 years after the problem was first identified, the USA and the world remains unable to take meaningful action on emissions reductions — the means he chose were not those we would expect from a respected senior scientist.

However this plays out in the longer term, it’s clear that Peter Gleick played the role of whistleblower, bringing the attention of the world to the nefarious activities of a well-funded right wing lobby group with mysterious “anonymous donors” and zero accountability for their actions. It’s a job that any worthwhile investigative journalist would have loved to have done — and which should have been done long ago.

Together with the sterling efforts of John Mashey, the leaked documents confirm in detail what many had suspected. Heartland have made a career out of subverting the truth, the law, and the democratic process.

Gleick might pay a heavy price for his indiscretion, however laudable his goals. Heartland, its funders and the pet “scientists” on their payroll must be made to pay the higher price. Their actions have condemned future generations to far worse than any lapse of judgement or ethics. The real price of Heartland’s policies will be paid in human suffering, and for that there will be no forgiveness.

See also; The Guardian, George Monbiot on why We need to know who funds these tinktank lobbyists, Union of Concerned Scientists report on How Corporations Corrupt Science at the Public’s Expense, Josh Rosenau on parallels between Heartland’s climate “education” tactics and that of creationists, plus Peter Sinclair on Heartland’s abject pleading for tobacco money as recently as 1999 — and let’s not forget they arer still getting it today, and are happy to have a “smoker’s lounge” on their web site.

[Amongst many, I like KT Tunstall, Jeff Tweedy and Bryan Ferry, but there's also a worthy Diana Krall, and of course His Bobness when he could remember how to sing.]

What becomes of the broken Heartland? Gareth Renowden Feb 20

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The ramifications of last week’s leak of internal documents from the Heartland Institute — the US lobby group up to its neck in organised climate denial in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and perhaps elsewhere — continue to make news. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Heartland money was used to fund Aussie climate denial campaigners in 2009 and 2010, with funds channelled through the “American Climate Science Coalition” — a member of the coterie of climate “science” coalitions spun off from the New Zealand original with Heartland funding. Heartland’s charitable status in the US — which allows donors to the group to claim a 30% tax deduction (effectively a tax-payer subsidy of Heartland activities) — is being called into question as a result of the latest Mashey report into the links between Fred Singer and Heartland, and the dodgy nature of Heartland’s overseas grants. There have also been calls for some of Heartland’s large corporate donors to cease providing financial support for an organisation so steeped in climate denial.

The Sydney Morning Herald‘s investigation traced payments to Australian denial groups:

Documents from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission show that a group funded by the Heartland Institute, via a thicket of other foundations and think tanks, provided the vast majority of the cash for an anti-carbon price lobby group in Australia in 2009 and 2010.

The Australian Climate Science Coalition, an offshoot of a conservative lobby group called the Australian Environment Foundation, received virtually all its funding from the International Climate Science Coalition, which has been financially supported by Heartland.

In 2010, the Australian group had an income of $50,920, and $46,343 of that came from the American Climate Science Coalition, an offshoot of the International Climate Science Coalition, the ASIC documents show. The amount of public donations received was nil.

In 2009, the US arm kicked in $60,699 in funds – virtually all the Australian organisation’s entire budget of $62,910 – the ASIC documents show. Donations from the public, at a time when debate over the federal government’s proposed emissions trading scheme was at a peak, were just $138.

It seems likely that these payments — made through the ICSC and its US affiliate, the Climate Science Coalition of America — are in addition to the sums declared in Heartland’s Form 990 returns for 2009 (excerpted here). A total of US$115,000 was granted to bodies in “East Asia and the Pacific” in that year, following on from US$180,000 shipped overseas (with no regional designation) in 2008. The largest overseas grant made by Heartland — US$120,000 in 2008, categorised as “research/publication” — remains untraced, but it seems likely that it will also have been paid to either Australia, Canada or New Zealand. One major denial publishing project under way at the time was Joanne “Nova” Codling’s Skeptics Handbook, which Heartland later distributed to 12,000 US school board presidents — perhaps one of the unsuccessful attempts to influence school curricula referred to in the leaked documents.

The Guardian reports that John Mashey’s massive effort to analyse the links and financial flows between Heartland, Fred Singer and the Idso family firm, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (CDCDGC), is leading to calls for an IRS investigation of Heartland’s charitable status. The funds sent to Australia and New Zealand over the last five years seem to be in clear breach of IRS rules1, and likely to cause Heartland and the recipients considerable embarrassment.

Heartland has also been attacked from its own heartland — the Republican Party. A group called Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP) has called for Heartland to stop campaigning against action on climate change. In a press release issued on Friday, REP said:

While Heartland has done commendable work in other policy areas, such as risk management, its climate operation has become a public relations servant of special interests–sowing confusion, misrepresenting science, and spreading distortions that pollute what should be a robust, fact-based debate about climate change.

That’s not conservative. As William F. Buckley once said, “Conservatism implies a certain submission to reality.”

Climate change is an opportunity for conservative organizations to actually be conservative, by acknowledging facts and laying on the table conservative policies for dealing with the climate issue.

That’s a wonderful encapsulation of what we really need in a “climate debate”. Instead of the endless sniping at science and scientists, why not sit down and contribute to a solution? Heartland, of course, supplies the answer by being in thrall to the special interests of its funders.

Finally, allow me to commend an excellent article by Elaine McKewon at The ConversationThink tank’s talking points deepen the divide over climate change. Based on a recent study of the output of the Institute of Public Affairs, an Aussie think tank with close ties to Heartland, McKewon examines the fantasy world created by opponents of emissions reductions. She notes nine “fantasy themes” in common use:

The nine themes were grouped into two categories. In the first category, ’a plea for scientific truth’, there are four fantasy themes:

  • climate scientists as rent-seeking frauds
  • climate scientists as dissent-stifling elite
  • Plimer as Galileo
  • Plimer as the people’s scientist.

The second grouping, ’religious, political and economic conspiracies’, includes five fantasy themes:

  • climate science as religion
  • environmentalism as religion
  • climate science as left-wing conspiracy
  • green as the new red
  • climate change mitigation as money-spinning scam.

Sound familiar?2 McKewon points out that these themes, acted out by stereotypical heroes and villains create a self-supporting belief system:

Together, these fantasy themes construct a rhetorical vision — an alternative reality — that is consistent with the ideology promoted by neoliberal think tanks such as the IPA and the hostility they provoke towards traditional ’enemies’ such as the environmental movement and the political left.

These fantasy themes serve as important markers of group identity for the IPA and its coalition of associate scholars, editors, opinion columnists and readers. They repeat the narratives — for example, in letters to the editor or in online comments or discussion forums. This repetition is a strong indication that they see themselves as members of the group.

It’s a compelling analysis that underlines just how successful Heartland and its allies have been at co-opting a large sector of right wing opinion in the service of their paymasters, and how powerful the myths they’ve carefully created can be.

[Jimmy Ruffin]

  1. See Mashey’s Fake Science…, p64
  2. Most of these themes are on display in just about every comment posted here by Joe Fone, Roger Dewhurst and the usual denialist suspects.

The real Climategate: Heartland’s hypocrisy on display Gareth Renowden Feb 17

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It’s been a bad week for the Heartland Institute — the US lobby group recently shown to have funded New Zealand climate denialists. Documents leaked this week expose Heartland’s fund-raising and climate strategies to the cold light of day, and a major new piece of research by John Mashey demonstrates that Heartland has been acting outside of the rules governing the tax-exempt status it claims for itself.

Documents relating to a Heartland board meeting held in January were sent to a number of bloggers earlier this week, and have been made available by DeSmogBlog. The papers give a very full account of Heartland’s budget and plans for 2012, right down to individual staff salaries, and provide details of funding streams from players big and small. The largest — described as the “anonymous donor” — provided Heartland with $8.6 million over 2007-11 for its climate campaigns (see pps 20 and 21 of this document).

Key points from the documents:

  • Heartland plans to create a “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Schools” that “isn’t alarmist or overtly political”, and plans to pay Dr David Wojick $25,000 a quarter to develop the materials.
  • Heartland is planning to fund Fred Singer’s Not the IPCC project to the tune of $1.5 million over 2010-13, and is budgeting monthly payments of $11,600 to Craig Idso, $5,000 to Singer and $1,667 to Bob Carter during 2012.
  • Anthony Watts (of µWatts fame) is being funded to the tune of $88,000 to develop a web site featuring US temperature data.
  • Current funders include tobacco companies, fossil fuel interests, and even Microsoft.

Heartland claims the documents were stolen, and that one — relating to their strategy on climate denial — was faked, even though the main points in that “confidential memo” are corroborated by the other documents. The Heartland response includes threats of legal action against web sites and media carrying stories based on the documents, and says:

…honest disagreement should never be used to justify the criminal acts and fraud that occurred in the past 24 hours. As a matter of common decency and journalistic ethics, we ask everyone in the climate change debate to sit back and think about what just happened.

Those persons who posted these documents and wrote about them before we had a chance to comment on their authenticity should be ashamed of their deeds, and their bad behavior should be taken into account when judging their credibility now and in the future.

Back in 2009, when the emails stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia first hit the web, Heartland president Joseph Bast wrote:

The release of these documents creates an opportunity for reporters, academics, politicians, and others who relied on the IPCC to form their opinions about global warming to stop and reconsider their position. The experts they trusted and quoted in the past have been caught red-handed plotting to conceal data, hide temperature trends that contradict their predictions, and keep critics from appearing in peer-reviewed journals. This is new and real evidence that they should examine and then comment on publicly.

The hypocrisy burns…

Meanwhile, the news that Bob Carter is retained by Heartland to undermine the work of mainstream science through the NIPCC is making waves in Australia (Graham Readfearn, SMH), but hasn’t yet been picked up in New Zealand. Carter’s role as a “science advisor” to the Heartland funded NZ Climate Science Coalition and its ICSC spin-off, as well as to Nigel Lawson’s secretive Global Warming Policy Foundation raises serious questions about just how lucrative denial can be, as well as illuminating the international web of climate denial.

See also:

Richard Black at the BBC

New York Times

LA Times

And [List updated17/2 - courtesy of Adam Seigel]…

Put it there pal: the real story of Chris de Freitas and Climate Research Gareth Renowden Nov 30

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The release of another batch of emails from the stash stolen a couple of years ago from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia may not have gained much attention in global media, but there has been a great deal of huffing and puffing at sceptic blogs such as µWatts and Climate Audit. Watts trumpets this news, for example:

BOMBSHELL An absolutely disgusting string of communications that shows the tribal attempt at getting an editor of a journal fired on made up issues — all because he allowed a publication that didn’t agree with ’the Team’. This is ugly, disturbing, and wrong on every level.

Introducing a post copied from a New Zealand sceptic blog, given the headline The tribalistic corruption of peer review — the Chris de Freitas incident — Watts adds:

This is outright malicious interference with the scientific process, and it’s damned ugly. I can’t imagine anyone involved in professional science who could stand idly by and not condemn this.

Unfortunately for Watts and the anonymous (and low profile) NZ blogger who wrote the article, a new analysis by John Mashey of 700+ papers published at Climate Research reveals that the tribalism on display came from a cabal of sceptical scientists, with Auckland University academic Chris de Freitas safely shepherding their papers — however poor the science they contained — through peer pal review.

Mashey’s report, published a few hours ago at DeSmogBlog, reveals that:

  • From 1990 to 1996, Climate Research published no papers by any of the following sceptic “pals”:

    Sallie Baliunas, Robert Balling, John Christy, Robert Davis, David Douglass, Vincent Gray, Sherwood Idso, PJ Knappenberger, Ross McKitrick, Pat Michaels, Eric Posmentier, Arthur Robinson, Willie Soon, and Gerd-Rainer Weber1.

  • de Freitas became an editor at CR in 1997 and then accepted 14 papers in the period up to 2003 from authors with whom he had close ties.
  • Papers from the “pals” accounted for half of his editorial workload.
  • de Freitas acted as editor on seven papers by Patrick Michaels, half of Michaels’ publication record over the period. Mashey describes Michaels as “king of the pals”.
  • After de Freitas resigned his editorial role in 2003, publications from the pals stopped appearing in Climate Research.

The cosy relationship between the pals and their tame editor finally came to an end with the publication of a paper by Soon and Baliunias, Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years2 (pdf), which purported to find that 20th century temperatures were not unusually high. The paper was published in 2003 and immediately hyped by opponents of action on climate change3. It attracted a rapid and robust rebuttal4. Stephan Lewandowsky at The Conversation gives an excellent account of the fall-out in Climate change denial and the abuse of peer review:

…three editors of Climate Research resigned in protest over its publication, including the incoming editor-in-chief who charged that ’…some editors were not as rigorous in the review process as is otherwise common.’

This highly unusual mass resignation was followed by an even more unusual public statement from the publisher that acknowledged flaws in the journal’s editorial process.

Three editorial resignations and a publisher’s acknowledgement of editorial flaws are not standard scientific practice and call for further examination of the authors and the accepting editor.

So who was guilty of “malicious interference with the scientific process”, as Watts so nicely puts it? The climate scientists complaining amongst themselves that yet another crap paper had been shepherded through peer review by a complaisant editor, or that editor himself — a man with a six year record of allowing papers of dubious quality written by his sceptic tribe to appear in a reputable journal? The real scandal was the abuse of peer review by the pals to further their political objectives.

There’s an obvious lesson, and it’s one I pointed out at the time of the original email release. When reading edited highlights of someone else’s emails, context is king5. If you ignore history, and take a carefully selected bunch of emails as your only source, you will end up in blind alleys. As the saying goes, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. To achieve prominence in the climate sceptic echo chamber one eye seems to be all you need.

[Richard Thompson, or Bob & Bing?]

  1. Mashey demonstrates that all these pals — many of them high profile “sceptics” — have worked for or with right wing think tanks in the US and elsewhere, notably the George Marshall Institute and the Heartland Institute. See table on p5.
  2. Climate Research, Vol. 23: 89—110, 2003
  3. It was read into the US Congressional record, for example.
  4. On Past Temperatures and Anomalous Late-20th Century Warmth, Mann et al, Eos, Vol. 84, No. 27, 8 July 2003
  5. As Canadian blogger Deep Climate nicely demonstrates in this excellent take down of email abuse by Ross McKitrick, one of CdF’s pals.

Wegmangate: first blood Gareth Renowden May 17

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Plagiarism by George Mason University professor Edward Wegman and his team — first revealed last year by John Mashey and Canadian blogger Deep Climate — has now been acknowledged by Computational Statistics and Data Analysis. The journal has retracted a paper (Social networks of author-coauthor relationships, by Said, Wegman et al, CSDA 2008) by Wegman’s co-author Yasmin Said and Wegman himself, citing — according to a report by Dan Vergano in USA Today — “evidence of plagiarism and complaints about the peer-review process”. Sections of the paper, itself based on the social networks section of the Wegman Report on the statistics of paleoclimate reconstructions, were copied and pasted from Wikipedia. It was rushed into print in a matter of a few days — extremely unusual in academic publishing.

Most interesting, however, is that Said et al seems to provide an example of an extremely rare beast: a self-refuting paper. Said, Wegman et al suggested that studies where scientists collaborated between institutions could be more liable to bias than papers where the “principal author tends to co-author papers with younger colleagues who were his students”. Said was a PhD student in Wegman’s department.

For the full story, refer to USA Today (original and follow-up), Deep Climate (one and two), with more at Deltoid, and especially at Stoat, where WMC provides an excellent dog/homework cartoon. Meanwhile, the world awaits GMU’s much delayed determination of the original complaints against Wegman and his report made last year…

Wegman investigated for plagiarism, ’skepticgate’ looms Gareth Renowden Oct 09

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George Mason University has confirmed that it is investigating allegations of plagiarism by Professor Edward Wegman, author of the hockey stick hatchet job “Wegman Report”. According to USA Today, the investigation began earlier this year after a letter of complaint from Raymond Bradley (as in Mann, Bradley and Hughes) whose textbook Paleoclimatology: Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary was extensively copied and crudely altered in the report to Congress. USA Today credits the investigation by Canadian blogger Deep Climate and the extensive report on errors in Wegman’s document compiled by John Mashey (covered here last month). Wegman declined to comment, but has confirmed that litigation is involved. Informed speculation suggests that this may be related to copyright issues — likely to be a problem for anyone who lifts 30% of a report from other people’s work. The story has also been picked up by the Washington Post, and Andy Revkin at Dot Earth has dubbed the affair SkepticGate. This scandal may be about to go mainstream — and not before time.

More coverage at Deep Climate, Things Break, Rabett Run and The Cost Of Energy.