Wegman again

It seems shame to root thorugh the trash, but people do, and JM points out the following weird ref in t' Wegman report:

Valentine, Tom (1987) "Magnetics may hold key to ozone layer problems," Magnets,
2(1) 18-26.

The odd thing is that is doesn't appear to be a ref for anything. What is it doing there? And what is this odd paper? Or is Wegman one of those people that wear magnetic bangles to cure rheumatism?

* Is this the same Tom V?
* Of course, you should read Deep Climate

More like this

I recall that every commercial map includes, somewhere, a fictitious name and location -- as a way of proving when some competitor has copied the map instead of creating a new one. Perhaps this is an instance of a fictitious cite, put there to detect anyone who copies a bibliography.

Or one put in by whoever actually wrote the thing to see if the people who signed it actually read it.

It kind of reminds me of a quite famous claim in a patent that was granted a few years ago:

"9. The method of providing user interface displays in an image forming apparatus which is really a bogus claim included amongst real claims, and which should be removed before filing; wherein the claim is included to determine if the inventor actually read the claims and the inventor should instruct the attorneys to remove the claim."

Just speculating, of course.

Has anyone actually asked? Is there even such a _journal_?

Oh yes, but I copy here a post that consolidates what we know...

Many of the references were sourced through Barton staffer Peter Spencer, according to Yasmin Said:
http://www.galaxy.gmu.edu/stats/colloquia/AbstractsFall2007/TalkSept7.p… p.5.

Of the ~80 references in the Bibliography, only ~30 are actually referenced in the body. Some are totally irrelevant, a 1.5 page review of Wunsch(2006). That is about Dansgaard-Oscher events, rather irrelevant to Mann's work, since the last occurrence was rather earlier. Some of the "reviews of important articles" have more seeming cut-and-paste.

In normal scholarship, when summarizing an article, one normally paraphrases to show that one understands it, or at least, block-quotes a few key pieces. One doesn't do undergrad-level cut-and-paste. [This isn't publicly written up yet, but will be, and will at least double the number of pages with problems like this.]

But ~50 of the ~80 references aren't even referenced, and some might be OK, but that is a high fraction. There are many more irrelevant or "grey literature" references ...

At best, this is bad scholarship, consistent with someone else selecting many of their sources for people who have little clue about relevance or importance. Some references only seem to appear there so repeat common anti-science memes. This is why seeming plagiarism is just the most obvious hint that something is wrong and makes one dig deeper.

But, Wegman, Scott, and Said wrote a report that included the following (unreferenced) reference, on p.57:

Valentine, Tom (1987) âMagnetics may hold key to ozone layer problems,â Magnets, 2(1) 18-26.

Without even seeing the article, it is unclear how a 1987 article about ozone layer in an (offbeat, non-scholarly) technology journal could have *anything* to do with the purported investigation of 1998-1999 papers on temperature reconstructions.

It turns out (H/T Michael Tobis & Anna Haynes) that Tom Valentine has written about psychic surgery, fuel-less magnetic engines, conspiracy theories on suppression of good inventions. He was the editor of "Magnets" 1988-1991, a step up from his earlier writing for the "National Tattler," but not a scholarly journal. He later ran a talk show that among other things helped publicize "black helicopters" to the world.

http://www.rexresearch.com/evgray/1gray.htm#1 fuel-less engines
http://www.rexresearch.com/nemes/1nemes.htm#magnets suppression
http://web.archive.org/web/20050208000510/tomvalentine.com/html/about_t… his bio
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_helicopter his radio show promoted

While Wegman, Scott, and Said did this pro bono, the salaries of everybody else involved in the House were paid for by US taxpayers ... and we got scholarship of this quality, because NAS was "unlikely" to address all of Mr. Barton's concerns."

By JohnMashey (not verified) on 02 May 2010 #permalink

No sign of the article in Google Scholar, and no indication of the journal in our university catalogue. Interesting...

Yes, Wegman may indeed be a pile of poo, but the real mystery must be why this critique of an ancient and long-superseded paper about the global surface temperature during the past 600 years is still being talked about as a live issue.

By Tony Sidaway (not verified) on 03 May 2010 #permalink

1) It *still* frequently gets referenced to this day in support or climate anti-science views, including at least one recent submission to Parliament.
2) In the USA, misleading the Amrican public ... is done all the time. BUT:

Misleading Congress can be a felony, up to 5 years, 18USC1001.
Conspiracy to commit a felony is also a felony, up to 5 years, 18USC371.
Misprision (not reporting it): up to 3 years, 18USC4.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 03 May 2010 #permalink


Also don't forget that the Wegman report is often cited as *the* prime example of literature that should not have been excluded from AR4, thus demonstrating the bias of the process. That's how the whole Curry-Wegman dustup started.

Just wait until AR5 gets going ... you will see a "review spam" that will make the FOI attack on CRU look like minor falling out of pen pals.

This is just the beginning of the "unjustified exclusion by IPCC" meme that will be used to complain about the exclusion from AR5 of all kinds of nonsense.

Expect the attacks on the credibility of AR5 WG1 to start the day the author list is announced (which will be within the month).

Thanks, John and Deep Climate. I had already noticed with some puzzlement the appearance of the "Wegman was ignored by AR4" meme--new to me because I don't follow the conspiracy blogs or go out of my way to talk to conspiracy nuts--on one of the Curry threads on Kloor's blog. I wouldn't think either MBH 98 or any of the statistical analyses would have much of a place in a summary of the physical basis that is to be published nearly two decades of field research and refinement of statistical methods later.

Then again, these chaps always remind me of Wile E Coyote and his "I'm sure if I try just one more time" approach.

By Tony Sidaway (not verified) on 03 May 2010 #permalink

Ahh, glad to see my post #2 finally appeared. Fished from the spam bucket, was it?

II suspect the spam filter isn't keen about helicopters of a certain color, surgery of a certain type, odd magazines, etc. :-)

By John Mashey (not verified) on 03 May 2010 #permalink

OK, who was supposed to do the audit on this report?

> why this critique of an ancient and long-superseded
> paper ... is still being talked about as a live issue.

Tony, I've commented before on the pattern; it shows up in the C*ists' attacks on D*win, as well as the nutjobs who are disproving R*ativity by attacking E*stein. It's a fascination with the notion of One True Origin, One Deep Root -- that must be destroyed to topple the entire edifice that has been built upon it.

It's a religious notion, lower case r. It completely misses the point about science, of course. Good results can grow from a science paper that isn't even right, let alone perfect -- if it leads others to do their own work in the same area and produce interesting results.

Science grows like kudzu, not like the mighty oak.
In parts of society where scientific thinking isn't understood, people go through their lives without doing their own research into what they're told to be true.

Hank Roberts writes: Science grows like kudzu, not like the mighty oak.

Nice. Is that your own metaphor, or did you pick it up somewhere else? Either way, I like it.

It isn't the misapprehensions about science that strike me most clearly, it's the stupidity and pettiness. Climategate? Just a few hours exposure to "skeptical" arguments should be enough to convince most undecided people. They typically depend on the listener buying into the assumption that scientists are blithering idiots who cannot spot the truth of whatever nonsense the "skeptic" has latched onto. *Null points*, at least as far as intelligent, sane people are concerned. Yawnsville for most of the rest.

By Tony Sidaway (not verified) on 03 May 2010 #permalink

re: #9
who was to have done audit?

See REply to Stupak p.7

This was *not* a peer review in any normal sense: Wegman asked (mostly) a bunch of colleagues (of various flavors) to take a quick look at it.

We do not yet know how much time they got to study a 91-page report, whether there were formal reports back, or what.

I believe DC will have a post coming out, so I won't scoop him ...

By John Mashey (not verified) on 03 May 2010 #permalink

Nice work in #2, JM! Actually Valentine sounds a bit like Monckton.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 03 May 2010 #permalink

> kudzu

Had to look that up. I always (well, not always, but you know what I mean) thought of it like brambles. A bit of a mess, lots of thorns, but you do get blackberries.

I'm curious--I know from this newsletter of the American Statistical Association
(including extensive quotes from Dr. Wegman) that they planned a meeting including him:

"... we plan a special issue of Statistical Science, including specially invited papers from Professors Wegman and Wallace and a number of discussants. This will allow more detailed airing of the issues behind the Wegman report and how both statisticians and climate scientists view them. Second, there will be an ASA work- shop of invited participants whose purpose is to establish "A Statistical Consensus on Global Warming" ..."

I gather that was held at NCAR:

I haven't found a summary or proceedings from the meeting and don't know if Dr. Wegman attended.

The ASA did publish a consensus statement on global warming: http://www.amstat.org/news/climatechange.cfm

I think I recall that Dr. Wegman has gone public with a different opinion? There must be some story told about what happened. Anyone know if it's available to the reading public?

I'd say science grows like a bonsai -- constant attention & pruning & care required. Kudzu is just wild & chaotic and no order.

But kudzu is much harder to get rid of and does not have a simple trunk like bonsai's ... and it is marching North to Canada. U Toronto folks think it will survive in lower Ontario within ~decade.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 04 May 2010 #permalink

Totally off topic (although Wegman et al do mention the Arctic at least once). But isn't it time to snark about Arctic sea ice again?

Two points of view to kick start the season:

1) Lawrence Solomon in the National Post (sigh ...)


2) Xiangdong Zhang, "Sensitivity of arctic summer sea ice coverage to global warming forcing: towards reducing uncertainty in arctic climate change projections" (February 15, 2010, Wiley InterScience):

"Substantial uncertainties have emerged in Arctic climate change projections by the fourth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report climate models. In particular, the models as a group considerably underestimate the recent accelerating sea ice reduction. To better understand the uncertainties, we evaluated sensitivities of summer sea ice coverage to global warming forcing in models and observations ⦠The projected ice-free summer Arctic Ocean may occur as early as in the late 2030s using a criterion of 80% SIA loss and the Arctic regional mean surface air temperature will be likely increased by 8.5 ± 2.5 °C in winter and 3.7 ± 0.9 °C in summer by the end of this century."