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Wegman Paper Retracted, Watts Growls

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMay 16, 2011 6:44 PM


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Anthony Watts bites down hard on sour grapes after reading the big news yesterday in USA Today. More on that in a minute. So Dan Vergano breaks the story and offers this helpful background:

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

Vergano cites what and who is responsible for the paper's undoing:

Computer scientist Ted Kirkpatrick of Canada's Simon Fraser University, filed a complaint with the journal after reading the climate science website Deep Climate, which first noted plagiarism in the Wegman Report in 2009. "There is something beyond ironic about a study of the conduct of science having ethics problems," Kirkpatrick says.

There is also something predictable about this reaction from Watts, who plays down the journal retraction and instead focuses on the anonymity of the critic who exposed the paper's plagiarism:

Well, congratulations to Deep Climate for being able to attack a man in another country without having having to put your name behind it. Such courage. You must be proud.

Fortunately, some WUWT readers exhibit more class and less partisanship than Watts:

I'm sorry, if the paper was sloppy enough to contain plagiarised text, then it is sloppy enough to contain other mistakes. Whether warmist or sceptic, we should be aiming for the highest standards and just because some annoying individual came out the blue and asked annoying questions which the journal properly investigated, we shouldn't be supporting bad papers.

If Watts is truly offended by someone "being able to attack a man in another country without having having to put your name behind it," then he might consider putting a stop to anonymous commenters at his site. UPDATE:

Bishop Hill is also not fazed by the journal retractio


As far as I can tell, nobody is disputing the paper's findings though.

How do you guys manage to twist yourselves into such contortions and stay upright? UPDATE: On Monday, In a follow-up piece online, Dan Vergano probes beyond the issue of plagiarism:

But how good was the study? We asked network analysis expert Kathleen Carley of Carnegie Mellon to take a look at whether the CSDA study, a "bibliometric" critique of publishing links between climate scientists, was any good in the first place. "I see this paper as more of an opinion piece," Carley says, by email.

Carley is a well-established expert in network analysis. She even taught the one-week course that one of Wegman's students took before 2006, making the student the "most knowledgeable" person about such analyses on Wegman's team, according to a note that Wegman sent to CSDA in March.

Be sure to read the whole article, which contains a Q & A with Carley.

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