Readers around the climate-o-sphere will be familiar with the great work done by Deep Climate and John Mashey back in 2009/2010 pointing out questionable scholarship in the Wegman Report (W06) and in Wegman’s subsequent work with Said and others.
As DC points out, and DeSmog details, a paper by Said, Wegman et al 2008 has been pulled from the journal Computational Statistics and Data Analysis.
The study, which appeared in 2008 in the journalComputational 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.
This development might, as DC points out, spur George Mason University to conclude its “endless” investigation into Wegman’s scholarship.
DC and Mashey’s discrediting of Wegman et al matters because Wegman’s work is held up by deniers as evidence that paleoclimate is flawed, and that climate science is a junk. Wegman is trumpeted as an authoritative expert on statistics, a true scholar, who is of the stature that his word and work holds real weight. Wegman’s 2006 report to Congress is held up as a credible refutation of the MBH paleoclimate reconstruction, ergo the IPCC TAR, ergo climate science in general, ergo the need for policy action to halt global warming.
These “pillars” of the AGW theory are thus destroyed, Samson style, as is the foundation for policy action on greenhouse gasses.
Here’s Barton on Wegman and the report:
Dr. Edward Wegman, a prominent statistics professor at George Mason University who is chair of the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, agreed to independently assess the data on a pro bono basis. Wegman is also a board member of the American Statistical Association.
About the Wegman committee: Dr. Wegman assembled a committee of statisticians, including Dr. David Scott of Rice University and Dr. Yasmin Said of The Johns Hopkins University. Also contributing were Denise Reeves of MITRE Corp. and John T. Rigsby of the Naval Surface Warfare Center. All worked independent of the committee, pro bono, at the direction of Wegman. In the course of Wegman’s work, he also discussed and presented to other statisticians on aspects of his analysis, including the Board of the American Statistical Association.
Here’s a statement early on by McIntyre on the Wegman report and Wegman:
Readers interested in a third party view of the matter are far better off consulting the North Report,the Wegman report, (particularly) Wegman’s Reply to Questions and Richard Smith’s account of the 2006 American Statistical Association session. All of these individuals are vastly more eminent than Ammann and Wahl. Wegman, in particular, has been Chair of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Theoretical and Applied Statistics and is a legitimate statistical expert. His comments on the Wahl and Ammann preprint are very acute and have not received appropriate consideration.
Nothing yet from Wegman’s biggest supporter – McIntyre – on this latest development.
Here’s Anthony Watts:
So, no problem from my view. I expect the report will be rewritten, with citations where needed, maybe even adding extra dictionary definitions of words and their origins to satisfy the imagined slights against our lexiconic ancestors envisioned by DC and Mashey man, and they’ll resubmit it with the very same conclusions. That’s what I would do.
Watts talked up the Wegman report in a post about Mann:
Hey Doug! Did you read the Wegman Report? He said the Mann Analysis was “bad science” and “incorrect mathematics” so which part of that didn’t you understand?
I think we should let Wegman shoot this lame nag through the head:
Based on the literature we have reviewed, there is no overarching consensus on [Mann's work]. As analyzed in our social network, there is a tightly knit group of individuals who passionately believe in their thesis. However, our perception is that this group has a self-reinforcing feedback mechanism and, moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that they can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility.
I love it! Here’s Watts talking about Wegman’s credibility, his literature review and social network analysis, especially in light of this comment by the expert in social network analysis who taught one of Wegman’s students, who called Wegman’s work nothing more than an opinion piece...
Q: (How would you assess the data in this study?)
Data: Compared to many journal articles in the network area the description of the data is quite poor. That is the way the data was collected, the total number of papers, the time span, the method used for selecting articles and so on is not well described.
Q: (So is what is said in the study wrong?)
A: Is what is said wrong? As an opinion piece – not really.
Is what is said new results? Not really. Perhaps the main “novelty claim” are the definitions of the 4 co-authorship styles. But they haven’t shown what fraction of the data these four account for.
Here’s a commenter over at Keith Kloor’s place:
This is not a newspaper story. it is a report of a mathematical investigation that can be evaluated. Plagiarism is a collateral issue that does not affect the issues raised by the paper.
This obsession with supposed plagiarism and other irrelevancies trivializes a grave issue. Where are the Marx Brothers when we need them?
One of the “tricks” of deniers, as developed in the tobacco case and replicated in the climate science case, is to create a smokescreen of fake experts and papers that are purported to discredit the mainstream science. These “experts” and “papers” are then trumpeted around the internet and in various bogus “scientific conferences” as proof that there is no consensus and thus no need to enact policy to address greenhouse gas emissions.
Remember to keep your eye on the trickster’s sleeve — don’t look where he is directing you — look where he doesn’t want you to look — that’s where the real trick is being played.
A decline in public / policy maker perception of the validity of climate change / global warming science. That’s the real trick.
How is the trick performed?
You need credible magicians who are able to prestidigitate with some skill — enough to fool the unknowing observers.
In climate Denialism, the credible magician might be a person who can claim some expertise, even if it is not directly equal to those who do actual climate science. Say, an expert in statistics, an expert in policy, an expert in some allied science, or even someone with no real expertise but who
is a statistical genius has a credible aura to them. Someone who knows the right way to cast doubt, call into question, make innuendo. Dog-whistle.
You need a credulous public who lacks knowledge and expertise in science and its processes and procedures other than the abstract motherhood and apple pie axioms that we all are fed in high school science class. Since they lack this knowledge or expertise or judgement, you can fill them up with false claims about science or unrealistic expectations from science that no science meets or is able to meet at all times.
In prestidigitation, you need to divert attention away from that the left hand is doing, by focusing their eyes on the right hand. Instead of focusing on the hand that holds the card, the truth, you focus their gaze on your desired target — the other hand, your eyes, your face. Anything so that they don’t look at that hand holding the card, slipping into the sleeve or pocket.
W06 has been held up time and again as proof that there is no consensus among experts, that the basis for arguing that temperatures in the 20th/21st century are warmer than in the past and that CO2 is the culprit — paleoclimate, in other words — is discredited.
It being discredited is rather poetic.