Wordsmithing

Looks like the word is going to be Copygate for the Wegman report investigation. I concur with Lucia who writes:

Skepticgate.

Keith [Kloor] campaigns in favor of his skepticgate writing:

I don’t think copygate has quite the same ring as skepticgate, but good for Jeff for noting it.

I’m betting one of the other of these words is going to catch on. I like “copygate” because the issue has to do with “copying”, where as “skeptic” could mean any number of possible issues. On the other hand, if literal connection to the precise issue governed these things, “climategate” might have been called “emailgate”.

I’m going to be using copygate for now. We’ll see what catches on.

My search shows “Copygate” to be in greater use already. Here’s the thread on Jeff Id’s blog and over at Keith’s  Collide-a-Scape.

Given how Keith impatiently reacted to all this, I’ve moved him from “Lukewarmer” and put his blog link in with the others he consorts with. His attempt at maintaining that cool dispassionate psychologist illusion suffered from too many emissions. Too bad really, since we had so few true Lukewarmers.

FYI Andy Revkin coined the phrase “skepticgate” in a tweet, and Mr. Kloor is pushing that word at his blog, but didn’t coin it. IMHO it is too broad, since not all skeptics are under investigation, just one.

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55 thoughts on “Wordsmithing

  1. So, because Kloor echoed a “warmer” he must believe in catastrophic climate change? If, say, I agreed with one of Plantinga or Swinburne’s criticisms of The God Delusion would I be a Christian?
    REPLY: No, actually, his current essay was a “tipping point” for me. The bulk of balance offsets came prior. -Anthony

  2. Re: chek
    I assume from your comment that that you think it should be “skepticgate”. Could you explain why?
    The report in question was about the statistics used in a climate reconstruction and not about climate. As far as I am aware the author of the report (Wegman) has never publicly stated whether he is skeptical of the science or not. Since neither the report nor the author has anything to do with being skeptical why should this be called skepticgate?

  3. Over at the Air Vent, Jeff put up the definition of what plagiarism is. Basically it is what you think it is: Trying to pass off someone else’s work as your own original work.
    As Jeff shows it is a little hard to do that when you put a fricking footnote in referencing Bardley’s book.
    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/as-copygate-turns/#more-10584
    So that leaves only a Copyright angle of complaint, which falls apart on the grounds of Fair Use:
    http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107
    This is just Warmers being Warmers and lashing out. To me this was a very dumb tactic and in the end will hurt them more then help. I wonder in George Mason’s University’s report on Wegman we will see how they cleared him on the grounds of how much money he brings in?

  4. What’s everyones gut feeling? Does this investigation actually call in to question the reports conclusion?
    Although could it be that alarmists are trying to discredit the report through under handed tactics? I mean if they can sully enough of the authors reputation then they will successfully lay enough doubt about the report to maje people think twice even if the investigation changed nothing in the conclusion of the report.
    Mailman

  5. ‘SkepticGate’. Hah, poor fools. This budges no thermometers, no feedback of water vapor, no stat of Mann, and no echo in the chamber. A tempest in climate’s deep teapot.
    ===============

  6. I started the read Mashey’s report, but frankly is seemed more like more like an outlet for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I couldn’t get through it. He’s gone through and color coded things based on whether he thinks they are PR talking points versus “good science”. It all comes across like he is a bit deranged. So maybe OCDgate would be a better term. Or maybe Wegman Derangement Syndrom. In any case, this story isn’t going to get traction with the press unless there’s clear, simple evidence of outrageous misconduct by Wegman. I haven’t seen it. Can anyone point to an example of the purported plagiarism?

  7. “Yeah-But Gate” is the appropriate gate in this case.
    Vicky Pollard background cultural information available here:
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zExc6SK4kpA&fs=1&hl=en_US]

  8. Anthony,
    as you first mentioned, it’s been over a day now and there is still no post at C-a-s on the resignation of Hal Lewis from the APS. It seems like the perfect topic for KK’s little blog. I think what we have here is “head in the sand gate”.

  9. OK, hang on, I’m now getting a better understanding of the problem. Apparently Wegman did not comply exactly and precisely with the MLA rules of citation. He does cite the work that he was quoting, but failed to individually cite specific instances. The specific violation seems to related to the following rule:
    “Place the parenthetical reference as close as possible to the material being documented and where a pause would naturally occur, preferably at the end of a sentence”.
    So I think the best name for the scandle would be — Wegmandidn’tcomplywiththeMLAcitationstyleguideandshouldhaveknownbettergate
    I remember getting marked down for this very same thing in my Introduction to English Literature class. I think I lost 3 points. Very serious stuff.

  10. How about ‘SpeciousGate?’
    Or perhaps ‘SpuriousGate?’
    Both would seem to apply, what with the vain attempts by the warmists to muddy the truth every chance they get …

  11. mpaul: OK, hang on, I’m now getting a better understanding of the problem. Apparently Wegman did not comply exactly and precisely with the MLA rules of citation. He does cite the work that he was quoting, but failed to individually cite specific instances.

    Yeah, right. Small error. Repeated in 35 pages. A whopping 40% of the total document.
    Plagiarism is not so bad, every single (undergrad) does it so it becomes the rule.
    It is Skeptigate for you.
    REPLY: BTW, You might want to consider changing your handle. It is being confused with “DeSmog”, you know those paid political ranters over at the inconsequential DeSmog Blog? You might consider Desmon G or some other variation to delineate. – Anthony

  12. Athlete, Re Harold Lewis’ resignation letter to the APS, I sent it to Andy Revkin of the NYTimes’ DotEarth blog essentially challenging him to launch a new thread around Lewis’ resignation and his rationale. I will post any response that I receive from Revkin.

  13. 1) I’m not “campaigning” or “pushing” anything. I actually think the gate suffix is ridiculously tacked on for every controversial story (e.g. “splattergate). I merely noted (wryly, I thought) that copygate didn’t have the same catch as skepticgate.
    2) Based on your reading of my post (and my comments in the thread), who am I cavorting with? Seems like you have a pretty thin skin, like that other guy I tend to be critical of.
    REPLY: Thanks for the note. The post content at CAS and demographics of your commenters speaks for itself. But more importantly, when will you be putting up a thread on the APS/Hal Lewis resignation? – Anthony

  14. This investigation might actually set a very valuable precedent. If this kind of nitpicking punctiliousness is to be the de facto standard for “climate science” a little retrospective application of that standard should send the vast majority of CS to the ash heap. Virtually the entire output of the IPCC would fail to meet the standard and, if Wegman’s failure to properly format his footnotes disqualifies his work, Mann’s continued abuse of the Tjilander proxy should certainly disqualify his own. Briffa’s exaggerated pruning of his tree ring data set, Jones’ “the dog ate my data”, Hansen’s hysterical boosterism, Schneider’s moral flexibility, etc. should all be more dispositive than a lack of proper punctuation of footnotes.

  15. The warmistas will abuse their position as long as they hold it. They still are in control of the US and European governments and have a stranglehold on the executives of most of the world’s scientific societies.
    Wegman is the latest of the scapegoats, but will not be the last.

  16. Lesse – so far we have “copygate”, “skepticgate”, “facetiousgate”, “DesperationGate”, “ClutchingAtStrawsGate”, “OCDgate”, “Yeah-But Gate”, “head in the sand gate”, “Wegmandidn’tcomplywiththeMLAcitationstyleguideandshouldhaveknownbettergate”, “SpeciousGate”, and “SpuriousGate”. Like I commented on Lucia’s blog (where thay had several other suggestions), we’re gonna have ‘gate’-gate pretty soon at this rate.

  17. Scapegoatgate
    Teacupgate
    Distract-a-gate
    Thimblerig-gate
    I think Mashey’s having a hissy fit because Cuccinelli’s going for Mann the bully and Bradley is promoting Mashey as a nice thimble hiding an invisible pea, no doubt with backup from Mann. I just don’t believe the charge of plagiarism, except as possible tiny details or oversights.

  18. Science isn’t like the law. Science doesn’t rule out evidence because of some technical issue to do with the way it was presented. So whether or not Wegman plagiarised earlier work has no relevance for the correctness of what was written. Facts must be refuted with facts, not disqualified for issues of style.
    Plagiarism is a matter of degree. All scientists use the work of others. Plagiarism is failing to give proper credit for that use and in its most extreme form involves claiming the work of others as your own.
    Mr Wegman is clearly not simply stealing the work of another. He may have indulged in excessive overquoting with inadequate referencing, but a reference to the original work was given. It might not have been an adequate reference but it was there. Furthermore the use Mr Wegman made of the quoted material was original to him as he used it to construct an argument antithetical to the conclusions of the original author.
    The word for word nature of some of the quoting is definitely an issue, but as a scientist I view this less seriously than my colleagues in the arts would. Whereas in the arts, credit is given for the literary merit of each word of deathless prose, in science it is ideas and results that count, not the words they are cloaked in. Whether or not those ideas are presented in their original form or paraphrased is of lesser importance to me than whether proper credit for the ideas, results and scientific work involved was given.
    If Wegman is guilty of nothing more than excessive overquoting then this would be worthy of mild censure in my opinion. However if he turns out to have claimed to have done experiments or analysis that were the work of another then that would be a more serious matter.
    None of this in any way refutes the scientific merit of the work. This is an issue of attribution and not of the correctness of the work in question.

  19. This reminds me of an F my son received in a college course because of a quotation in his final paper that wasn’t cited exactly the way it was supposed to (he said it had something to do with an improper number in the reference). Was the citation there? Yes. Was the citation incorrect? It was incorrect. Should he have failed the entire class because of it? Well, I suppose so–the professor was apparently more interested in making a point on properly citing references than helping a student understand where he had made a technical mistake; either way is the professor’s perogative.
    Sometimes academia is like that–so my son retook the class from another professor and passed with a high grade and learned a lesson in the process. What did he learn? Basically that the first professor was far more interested in failing him than helping him pass the course.
    I think the parallels here are abundant.
    But was I hopping mad about the whole incident? Not really–I wasn’t expecting much of the first professor (or any others, for that matter) and he didn’t disappoint.

  20. I’m horribly reminded of the outcome of the original Wegman “vs” North event. North said to reporters (or reporters understood) that the HS had been vindicated, and only in close questioning did North admit he did not disagree with Wegman on key issues – ie the HS was NOT vindicated.
    HOWEVER (drrrrum rrrrrrroll) that’s not what newspapers reported. They reported victory for North and vindication of the HS over Wegman. And that’s what people remember.
    Are these [self snip] squirting mud in the hope that some will stick onto the previous cakes of mud?

    Wegman again? Oh yes, he was discredited last time, found some more, plagiarism this time, how dreadful. And to think Cuccinelli is drawing on someone who’s been discredited twice now, terminally, incontrovertibly discredited, to make his strawman case against Mann………

    Here’s Mashey’s accusations Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report: A Façade for the Climate Anti-Science PR Campaign
    and here’s Jeff Id’s comparisons of the exact “plagiarism” gripe passages

  21. Slightly OT but while we are banging on about gates I’m wondering if the whole global warming, climate change morphed into climate disruption fraud could be called Gaiagate. The fraud that humans are causing irreparable harm to mother earth.

  22. Doug in Seattle says:
    October 9, 2010 at 12:50 pm
    “Wegman is the latest of the scapegoats, but will not be the last.”
    Scapegate?

  23. Just read Jeff Id’s comparison at http://noconsensus.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/wegman-bradley-tree-rings-v201.pdf.
    It does not look like copying, but more like each was describing the same thing in a precise manner.
    Both use the style of description that is common in science publications. The similarities appear to be a result of using that style. It would also seem to me to be another tempest in a teacup.
    The only reason this has gained any traction is that Bradley is involved with a complain agaisnt the guy who rightly shot down his most famous paper.

  24. Having looked at the structure of the Wegman committee report, it struck me that the overall format and references of the report were not to APA, MLA, or CMS standards. In fact, I didn’t see a single correctly structured citation in the report, only references to papers and authors as commentary and side notes. The report was clearly not intended to be structured as a professional paper but rather a loose report borrowing from many sources which I assume are properly represented in the reference section of the report. This is fairly typical work of a committee that is interested more in getting their findings out rather than write a professional paper.
    Had there been any attempt to follow professional publication standards, I would not cut Wegman any slack but I see no attempt whatsoever for the committee to produce a professional publication to any standard other than their own. A professional paper, according to publication standards, must not be ambiguous or cause the reader confusion regarding what is the author’s own work and the work of others. However, it is evident when I read the report, it is fairly well understood that almost none of the work presented is intended to be the original work of the authors but rather a synthesis of many different works with some commentary thrown in. As such, I wouldn’t hold the report to the same standards as a professional paper.
    My personal take is if the Wegman committee is to be criticized for the report it would be that they followed their own ad-hoc format rather than adopt a professional format. But who was the audience? Politicians. Write a professionally formatted paper and expecting a politician to actually make sense of it might be asking too much particularly when they can’t even read bills written in language they’re supposed to understand.
    I submit justplainunprofessionalformatgate for consideration.

  25. Does wegman even know what copy means?
    Copygate . . . pfft ha ha, why not just s(ch)tickma(n)n gate for Mann’s drawing of half a stick lying down foot up? :p

  26. More from yeah-but-gate.
    http://www.geo.umass.edu/climate/papers2/mann2008.pdf
    First sentence: “Knowledge of climate during past centuries can both improve our understanding of natural climate variability and help address the question of whether modern climate change is unprecedented in a long-term context”
    http://faculty.washington.edu/mkuettel/docs/Luterbacheretal_Springer_2010.pdf
    First sentence: “The knowledge of climate and its variability during the past centuries can improve our understanding of natural climate variability and also help to address the question of whether modern climate change is unprecedented in a long-term context”
    The second sentence in both papers begins
    “The lack of widespread instrumental climate records”, Mann et al
    “The lack of widespread instrumental climate records”, Luterbacher et al (Jones is a coauthor)
    Coincidence – right?
    (I posted a similar comment on Bishop Hill’s site today).

  27. I’d pretty much forgotten about the Wegman report until this came up. Are we now going to have lots of people discussing it again?
    Cool.

  28. The warmist crowd tends to act first, and retract later. My hunch is that this will eventually be retracted, splattergate style.

  29. Just another example of climatological recycling:
    http://www.ambiente.gob.ec/userfiles/2092/file/Cambio%20Climatico/Adaptacion/CLIMATE%20CHANGE%20IN%20THE%20TROPICAL%20ANDES%20PART%201.pdf (2007):
    “In the arid and semiarid regions of the tropics and subtropics more than 80% of
    the freshwater supply originates in mountain regions, affecting more than half of the
    earth’s population (Messerli, 2001). Much of this water is initially stored as ice in
    mountain glaciers and then gradually released over time. Mountain glaciers, such as those found in the tropical Andes, therefore act as a critical buffer against highly seasonal precipitation and provide water at times when rainfall is low or even absent. At the same time these glaciers are particularly sensitive to climate change because they are constantly close to melting conditions. They are arguably the most visible indicator of climate change, due to their fast response time, their sensitivity to climate variations and the clear visibility of their reaction (glacier growth or shrinkage) to the public.”
    http://www.geo.umass.edu/climate/papers2/vuille2008.pdf (2008):
    “In the arid and semiarid regions of the tropics and subtropics more
    than 80% of the freshwater supply originates in mountain regions,
    affecting populations downstream (Messerli, 2001). Much of this water
    is initially stored as ice in mountain glaciers and then gradually released
    over time.More than 99% of all tropical glaciers are located in the Andes
    (Kaser, 1999) and Andean countries, such as Bolivia or Peru, rely to a
    great extent on freshwater from glaciated basins during the dry season.
    Mountain glaciers, such as those found in the tropical Andes, therefore
    act as a critical buffer against highly seasonal precipitation and provide
    water for domestic, agricultural or industrial use at timeswhen rainfall is
    low or even absent. At the same time these glaciers are particularly
    sensitive to climate change because they are constantly close tomelting
    conditions. They are arguably the most visible indicator of climate
    change, due to their fast response time, their sensitivity to climate
    variations and the clear visibility of their reaction (glacier growth or
    shrinkage) to the public.”
    Looks to me as though the later paper, which includes Bradley as an author, has failed to cite the earlier paper, even though the papers have many words in common.
    Bradley is acknowledged as a contributor to the earlier paper – but even so, one might have thought that the desire to conduct new research work might have led to a itch to do a little more than simply cut-and-paste a chunk of text from one (uncited) paper into the next.

  30. ZT, I encourage you to keep looking for other instances of what they claim Wegman has done.

  31. @Gerald,
    Wegman was cited in the peer-reviewed paper that proves that mankind’s contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere is responsible for global warming.
    Oh wait, no such paper has ever been published. To convince people that mankind is responsible for GW is why the IPCC was created, and I don’t think they cited him. I believe he cited them. So nevermind…

  32. I just spent a few minutes looking for obvious duplications of Bradley text in other publications. This cursory inspection showed that the practice of copying text from one publication to another is commonplace in climatology.
    Society gets what it rewards – in this case – climatologists (of the non-scientist variety) copying and pasting scare stories for a living. Probably quite congenial work – for those who cannot find anything more constructive to do.

  33. >blockquote>Freddy says:
    October 9, 2010 at 10:46 am
    DesperationGate.
    Or, maybe, ClutchingAtStrawsGate.
    Close, but Strawgate with all of the Huffing and Puffing has some interesting merits.
    More to the point may be Warmersloo.

  34. @Chris S
    Shorten it to ObfusGate?
    I was thinking of that, too 🙂
    In any event, I’m sure they’re not going to be very happy with ….
    Can we trust the IPCC’s evidence?
    [excerpts]

    “As people in the UK’s science community took to the streets yesterday over science cuts at the Science is Vital rally in London, elsewhere science itself is more mired in controversy.
    […]
    Even then, the IPCC faces a fundamental problem that no amount of procedural reform can fix – its reports have political purposes, with a wide spectrum of interest groups seeking to use it as a neutral font of knowledge to wield for their own purposes. IPCC reports are used by politicians to legitimise cutbacks and taxation, by environmental campaigners to oppose oil exploration, and by the 10:10 campaign to justify the exploding of dissident schoolchildren in a recent advert.

    or with …
    Green fatigue hits campaign to reduce carbon footprint”

  35. Richard Sharpe says:
    October 9, 2010 at 6:49 pm
    “ZT, I encourage you to keep looking for other instances of what they claim Wegman has done.”
    Looks like ZT found a “cookie-cutter” paper, and his claim that the 2008 paper not referencing the 2007 is true.
    The 2008 paper did reference what sounds like a similar report:
    “Vuille, M., 2006. Climate change in the tropical Andes — observations, models, and simulated future impacts on glaciers and streamflow. Mountain Research and Development”
    I was unable to find that, but did find a reference to it as well as to the 2008 paper in an NSF grant, under “PUBLICATIONS PRODUCED AS A RESULT OF THIS RESEARCH”:
    http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=0836215
    Curiously the site shows a grant start date of January 15, 2008, and the 2008 paper was received in May 2007.
    An NSF grant for ” Impacts and Consequences of Predicted Climate Change on Andean Glaciation and Runoff” in 2008
    “Climate change and tropical Andean glaciers: Past, present and future” in 2008
    “Climate Change in the Tropical Andes – Impacts and Consequences..” in 2007
    “Climate change in the tropical Andes — observations, models, and…” in 2006
    The “cookie-cutter” originated either with the 2007 paper, which was a “report for CONAM and the World Bank” or the 2006 report, which appears to be a report for “Mountain Research Initiative”.
    Is it possible that this main author, Mathias Vuille, was paid to do original research in 2006, then basically copied it with some frill thrown in and got paid for it again in 2007, then published basically the same thing in 2008 in a science journal, then got one or more government grants to report on the same thing?

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