May 16, 2011

Expert Denialists in Disarray

The "expert" witness for Reps Joe Barton's and Ed Whitfield's 2006 Climate Change denial panel, Prof Edward Wegman of George Mason University, is not having a good year. USA Today reported yesterday that the paper he and Dr. Yasmin Said (who obtained her PhD under Dr. Wegman and works with him still) published in the Journal of Computational Statistics and Data Analysis was being retracted amid evidence of plagiarism and the poor peer-review process that allowed it to be published originally.

Wegman's testimony before the House committee in 2006 was a major part of the climate deniers "proof" that there were scientists who disputed the data that the world is warming and the retracted paper built on the Wegman Report where they reported the scientific peer process (providing the data to independent scientists and having them review the study for scientific correctness) could lead to invalid results due to undue influence.

In the CSDA study, the researchers compared the normal "entrepreneurial" style of collaboration between top scientists against papers written as collaborations among students of one "mentor" professor. "The authors speculate that the entrepreneurial style leads to peer review abuse."

USA Today's Dan Vergano asked an expert on this topic what she thought of the paper and she said she thought it was an opinion piece, not a scientific study and furthermore, Wegman and Said didn't provide any evidence that could be used to form this conclusion.

What is even more ironic, is the way this paper was produced was using precisely the model that Wegman testified was more likely to produce good science than the way true scientists work.

And Wegman's excuse?

In a March 16 e-mail to the journal, Wegman blamed a student who "had basically copied and pasted" from others' work into the 2006 congressional report, and said the text was lifted without acknowledgment and used in the journal study. "We would never knowingly publish plagiarized material" wrote Wegman, a former CSDA journal editor.

Because this paper was funded in part by Federal tax dollars, the consequences to Wegman and Said could be quite harsh.

Scientists are still waiting to hear the results of George Mason's review of the original charges of plagiarism first reported by Deep Climate in regards to the work done by Prof Wegman and his students. Perhaps one of the Koch-sponsored scientists will have to find a new job soon.

Posted by Mary at May 16, 2011 02:08 PM | Environment | Technorati links |