Smokey Joe Strikes Out Again?
Turns out climate skeptics' favorite report might not be as scientific as Congressman Joe Barton claims.
To prove that climate scientists have been wrong about their predictions, Barton and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) enlisted Edward Wegman, a statistician at George Mason University, to write a report evaluating studies of man-made global warming. The Wegman Report, released in 2006, has been much-touted by climate skeptics in the years since. But it now looks like large parts of the report used information that was plagiarized, pulled from Wikipedia, or taken out of context—and it appears that Barton's office may have been feeding Wegman's team the information to include in the report.
Wegman's report primarily attacked the "hockey stick chart," first published in a 1998 report co-authored by climate scientists Michael Mann (now of Pennsylvania State University), Raymond Bradley of the University of Massachusetts, and Malcolm K. Hughes of the Laboratory for Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona. The chart grew much more notable after it was included in the 2001 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and a version of it was featured in the movie An Inconvenient Truth several years later. But, now, in a searing piece in USA Today, reporter Dan Vergano reveals numerous problems with the Wegman report which purported to debunk the hockey stick. Studies of the 91-page text "found repeated instances of passages lifted word for word and what appear to be thinly disguised paraphrases," the piece notes.
Much of the reportedly plagiarized text came from a book written by Bradley, who has asked George Mason University to investigate the matter. Analyses of the text show that some phrases were largely reproduced, and at some points tweaked in order to change the meaning. This was revealed in a lengthy report from retired computer scientist John Mashey of California, who concluded that 35 of the report's 91 pages "are mostly plagiarized text, but often injected with errors, bias and changes of meaning."