the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

If you don’t know the answer, Scream it as loud as you can!

Posted by Jeff Id on May 20, 2011

I found a link to Wegman Said’s paper recently retracted by the journal for improper citation.   It has created a bit of a stink in the believer world as it shows that Wegman, the man who confirmed for congress the obvious fact that decentered PCA is stupid, was accused of plagiarism by a Canadian guitarist/ global warming groupie.

Since the link is public, I guess we can discuss any part of it we want openly. First, we should look at some of the Earth shattering conclusions and claims as they certainly affect all aspects of anthropogenic global warming.

Here is a doozy:

Wegman et al. (2006) suggested that the entrepreneurial style could potentially lead to peer review abuse. Many
took umbrage at this suggestion. Nonetheless, there is some merit to this idea. Peer review is usually regarded as
a gold standard for scientific publication. Clearly it is desirable that the peer reviewer have three important traits:
independent, unbiased, and knowledgeable in the field. As any hard-working editor or associate editor knows, finding
independent, unbiased, and knowledgeable referees for a paper or proposal is a difficult chore. This is especially true
in a rather narrow field where there are not many experts so that issues of independence arise quickly. Clearly as a
field becomes increasingly specialized, there are not as many independent experts. Thus finding someone who is both
independent and knowledgeable is difficult.

And another!

Of course because referees are not identified, getting hard evidence of independence, unbiasedness and knowledgeable
expertise is not readily available. The social network analysis can therefore only be suggestive. It is our contention,
however, that safeguards such as double blind refereeing and not identifying referees invariably lead to the conclusion
that peer review is at best an imperfect system. Anyone with a long history of publication in their heart of hearts knows
that they have benefited or have been penalized, probably both, by imperfect peer review.


The social network analysis of an entrepreneurial style suggests the following. There are many tightly coupled groups
working closely together in a relatively narrow field. It is clear that closely coupled groups have a common perspective.
Thus it is very hard to find a referee that is both knowledgeable and independent. Because of the common perspective, in
addition it is very hard to find an unbiased referee. Thus this style of co-authorship makes it more likely that peer review
will be compromised.

It’s like reading a study as to whether being tired makes you fall asleep.

Indeed, the paleoclimate discussion inWegman et al. (2006), while showing no hard
evidence, does suggest that the papers were refereed with a positive, less-than-critical bias. In contrast, the laboratory
style of co-authorship is somewhat less prone to peer-review problems in that the laboratories themselves, rather than
individual scholars, become the publishing unit, and as such, tend to be somewhat more competitive with each other.
Nonetheless, we note that many discussions of concerns about peer review seem to take place in medical/biological
related journals. Finally, the mentor style of co-authorship, while not entirely free of the possibility of bias, does suggest
that younger co-authors are generally not editors or associate editors. And often they are not in a position to become
referees, so that the possibility of bias is much reduced. Nonetheless, even here, a widely respected principal author has
the possibility of smoothing the path for his or her junior collaborators, while the papers of a high reputation principal
author may not be as critically reviewed as might be desirable.

Definitely controversial stuff. So lets read the conclusions – in their entirity.

Social network analysis of author–coauthor networks at the very least gives an interesting insight into the sociology
of scientific workers. The fact that there are distinct modes of authorship readily identifiable by the block model, while
interesting in its own right, also provides insight into the why certain fields of study may have migrated into a more
politically driven framework.

There, I’ve quoted probably 20 percent of the paper.   Most of it qualified opinions and suggestion of problems.  It is very much like reading about tired people potentially falling asleep more often than those who are less tired, unless of course they feel some important need to stay awake.  Read the whole thing, it shouldn’t take more than five minutes.  The paper was retracted due to non-citation of wiki entries on background information.  So what do we receive from the AGW believer crowd on this blog’s threads.

Here’s a few quotes:

frank — Decoding SwiftHack said

May 18, 2011 at 8:54 am e

Well said, Neven.

I’m still waiting to hear what sorry excuse Jeff Id may give for Wegman’s passing all the blame to some graduate student (Denise Reeves), when he didn’t even attempt to credit her work in the paper in first place.

There are two possibilities: either

(1) Wegman or Said committed plagiarism, in which case the blame is all theirs, and Wegman’s being a dishonest lying liar by passing the blame to a student; or

(2) Said and Wegman did indeed use material from Reeves, in which case they were trying to steal credit for work which they did not personally do — which, again, means Wegman’s being a dishonest lying liar.

Either way, Wegman’s a dishonest lying liar, period. But I’m sure Jeff Id will continue to excuse his actions beyond all reason because he’s fighting imaginary communists in his head or something.


From Neven:

And you dare accusing climate scientists of a circling-the-wagon mentality? Every accusation seems increasingly to be a severe case of ‘ill-doers, ill-deemers’. Apparently the end justifies any means. Amazing, simply amazing. Jeff Id and Carrick, you scare me. You will stop at nothing. You are pure hatred, intolerance and violence. I really hope for you guys that AGW is the hoax you portray it to be, because if it isn’t, you’ll have blood on your hands.

Then there’s this:

frank — Decoding SwiftHack said

May 19, 2011 at 12:34 pm e

Jeff Id:

Science is winning slowly, but you come here make one false accusation after another, now including intolerance and even violence. I am getting tired of being lied to, misrepresented and generally treated with no respect from both yourself and Frank.

Sorry, your attempt at playing the ‘Help! Help! I’m being repressed!’ card doesn’t work, because it was I who first proposed a compromise — and it was you, Jeff, who refused to accept a compromise.

Second, you can’t pretend to merely want compromise and respect while maintaining that anyone who disagrees with you is an agent of evil communists.

So, please carry on, keep fighting your phantom communist enemies.

And while we’re at it:

Number of papers co-authored by Mann which have been retracted: 0
Number of papers co-authored by Wegman which have been retracted: 1There’s a reason for this, but you won’t find it through wingnut reasoning.

then this:

frank — Decoding SwiftHack said

May 19, 2011 at 12:43 pm e


“But either way, even if Michael Mann and his Team are frauds and criminals and propagandists, I don’t think this justifies showing the exact same behaviour as alleged. If you think it does. If you believe your end justifies any means, then all you will get in your life is misery.“Well said. Jeff Id continues to believe that every moral lapse, every wrongdoing, of Wegman can be shrugged off as merely an innocent ‘human error’, because he’s fighting phantom ‘communists’.


May 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm e

Jeff Id:

I now see your twisted strategy: projection, projection, endless projection. You simply deflect any criticism of your ‘methods’ and ‘arguments’ by throwing the same criticism back, except without the facts.

But no matter how many mind tricks you play on yourself, no matter how much you spin things all in the name of ‘fighting evil communists’, at the end of the day there’s one thing you still can’t deny:

Wegman’s paper has been formally retracted.

Now put that in your pipe and smoke it.



Jeff Id:

We need different technologies if AGW alarmists are right. The best way to develop technologies is to allow the freedom and wealth to continue. I fully believe that if we do nothing now, not one damned thing, we will produce less CO2 than if we choke industry with taxation and fake solutions. And I think the leftist morons of the world who believe that fuel economy rules, regulation on oil drilling and coal burning, wind turbines, biofuels and PV arrays are solutions or will in any way help are the true idiots.Well, it figures, doesn’t it? Jeff Id is fighting phantom communists in his mind, and all of Jeff’s ‘facts’ spring from there.

How Jeff Id’s ‘math’ works:

Premise: We’re fighting evil communists!
Conclusion: Any project that requires me to fork money to the government is obviously ‘government waste’! Unless, well, it’s explicitly stated that it’ll be used to fight communists.
Conclusion: Wind power doesn’t work! Biofuels don’t work! Solar panels don’t work!
Conclusion:And, Wegman right! Wegman right! Wegman right!Note, however, that in Jeff’s world, oil and nuclear are obviously good things, even though both are heaviliy subsidized by his very taxpayer money — because the oil and nuclear tycoons are claiming to fight phantom communists, which to Jeff is the only thing that matters.

– frank

Then my favorite

Cedric Katesby said

May 20, 2011 at 8:39 pm e

The one thing you can’t/won’t touch is Wegman’s deconstruction of Mann’s errors.

The ones in the retracted paper?
Not much in the way of innuendo there.
It’s retracted.

Don’t worry about it. No doubt they will come back in a couple of weeks when Wegman whips out a revised report.
Any minute now.
Child’s play.

AGW is being used to further the socialist, global government agenda.
…you should be aware that the “commies” are an AGW advocate’s best friend. All you have to do is check out their web pages. Hey, now that former AGW supporter, Osama Bin Laden, is toast…

Yeah, sure.

NASA: a hotbed of sekrit kommunists whose sympathies lie with Bin Laden.
Even the US Navy has been taken over by the sekrit kommunists.
Oh woe.

Konspiracy theories are for suckers.
Seriously, going off about Kommies in the 21 century and and a dead terrorist is silly.
If you have to twist yourself into such paranoid knots to justify completely ignoring every single scientific community on the planet…then it’s over. You have a total disconnect with reality.

There is nothing in the retracted paper about anything other than a potential for biased review, something now proven by cliamtegate emails.  Conspiracies, communists, Mann’s errors, are simply not the same subject yet jackalopes like these come by pretending knowledge and screaming it from the highest towers.

This is what frustrates me about blogging.  How is it that thoughtful people are on equal footing with idiots like these.  I’m starting to think Anthony Watts has it right, just snip the stupid.

18 Responses to “If you don’t know the answer, Scream it as loud as you can!”

  1. Jeff Id said

    And the total list of citations which went into this amazing 8 pages — including the title page:

    Granovetter, M., 1973. The strength of weak ties. Amer. J. Sociology 78, 1360–1380.
    Rigsby, J.T., 2005. Block Models and Allegiance, Thesis submitted to George Mason University in partial fulfillment of the M.S. in Statistical
    Wasserman, S., Faust, K., 1994. Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
    Wegman, E.J., Scott, D.W., Said, Y.H., 2006. Ad-hoc Committee Report on the ‘Hockey Stick’ Global Climate Reconstruction, A Report to
    Chairman Barton, House Committee on Energy and Commerce and to Chairman Whitfield, House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations:
    Paleoclimate Reconstruction.

    Too bad they left one off.

  2. willard said

    Snip. Go for it. You know you want to.

  3. Jeff Id said

    Different thread different rules.

    I snip nobody, unless they push me over the edge.

  4. Jeff Id said

    Actually, here’s my life. I’m the boss of a good size company. I have equal partners who don’t care to be involved with personnel. So every day I can/and have/ snipped all the people that any non-narcissist could possibly want. It is a lot of responsibility and I like a nice work environment. Until you’ve let go of people you like, you don’t get to understand that kind of experience. I really don’t mind the bloggers who think I’m nuts or a conspiracy whatever, what makes me crazy is those who won’t think. Bart Verheggen, Gavin Schmidt or Eric Steig are perfect examples. None of them has made me angry with their posts here, yet we rarely agree. They have the ability to express thought logically, so like John Pittman and Tom Fuller who have different political views from my own, it doesn’t bother me one little bit to let them write their opinions – because they are thoughtful.

    I’m a grumpy SOB some days, others not so much. My guess is that most people would be the same in my shoes.

  5. cementafriend said

    Jeff, you have a right to be grumpy with and snip comments of those who have not read a paper or do not understand the contents and are off-topic and abusive. Not so sure about Bart Verheggen, Gavin Schmidt or Eric Steig. It would be better if they admitted that they do not understand the complex issues that affect climate and the issues and errors involved in measuring and analysing data. I no longer read Bart’s blog because it contains so much nonsense. The comments I have read from Gavin while polite made no technical contribution and did nothing to show that he fully understands the issues. If Gavin really has some understanding the only conclusion is that he is spreading deliberately misinformation. The problems with Eric have been well canvased. It appears that his ego can not accept that others have a better understanding of data analysis. His comments discredit him as responsible scientist.
    By the way I do not agree with all your comments but am always interested in views which could clarify some of my imperfect understanding and experience. I like to read comments on diverse subjects by the chiefio (E M Smith) and for something different at Tallbloke which lead me to read Miles Mathis’ essays. If you have time could you make a post on one of Miles’ essays

  6. M. Simon said

    To make the post look pretty without a lot of work:

    1. Copy the pdf section
    2. Go to the bottom of the copied section
    3. Home Key
    4. Backspace Key
    5. Space key
    6. Goto 3 – continue until done.

    The above is mostly a mechanical rhythm until finished. It doesn’t take long.

    If you start at the top fixing it is a pain.

  7. M. Simon said


    This is human nature (not very scientific – in the short run) but it does tell us something important. Wegman hurt. Bad. The spike is at least temporarily removed from their sides. Whew. Relief. The vituperation? “Take that for hurting us.”

    And you know what else? Your critique of the redistributionists must still be paining them.

    I once suggested that a compromise we could all live with is trees. It is low cost and might even return a profit. The problem with that (if as I suspect the real motive is to cripple the US) is that North America is a net carbon sink.

    The deal is though from an environmental perspective China needs a LOT more trees to retard desertification. A twofer.

    You can see where all that leads – the AGW crowd are not environmentalists. They are watermelons. Green on the outside red in the middle. And you are outing them.

  8. M. Simon said

    Let me add that when I get the kind of criticism shown in your post it makes blogging worthwhile for me. You made them out themselves. Kudos.

  9. andrewt said

    Jeff I think you are under-estimating the changes that would be necessary to meet Elsevier’s ethical standards. Said&Wegman contains slabs of text almost verbatim from at least 3 sources (Wasserman&Faust, de Nooy et al & Wikipedia) All those pieces of text would need to become quotations with citations. And then there is the question of Denise Reeves apparently producing a non-trivial fraction of the of the text without co-authorship, or even apparently being aware her text was used – an ethics committee might be nervous about unacknowledged work by grad student. Unless the quotations are so extensive that there are copyright issues, I think that covers the legal/ethical issues with the papers itself.

    But the journal’s editor immediate acceptance of a paper outside his field of expertise and outside the journal’s main area, and authored by a friend & a journal associate editor – also might raise ethical concerns at Elsevier.

    And as an aside converting the cut-and-pasted text into quotations may fix ethical concerns, but its unlikely that a reviewer, if there was one, at a technical journal like CSDA would accept such extensive quotation – even if Wikipedia wasn’t involved.

  10. M. Simon said


    Fine. The paper does not meet proper standards of crediting various bits found in the paper.

    Next question. Setting that aside does the paper make valid points? If not where does it go wrong?

    A short summary of the paper: People often favor their friends. T?/F?

  11. Brian H said

    Citing clichéd boilerplate without attribution is not a crime. Wegman is being “centered out”, in order to distract from his cogent conclusions.

  12. Vadim said

    Absolutely incredible. Well done for A+ detective work.

  13. andrewt said

    M. Simon the paper seems weak and unconvincing, including the supposition co-authorship patterns give you insight into peer review but I know nothing of the area. Kathleen Carley, who judging by google scholar, must be one of the top people in the area was less than impressed with the paper.

  14. stan said


    Who cares? Was Wegman correct that Mann butchered his stats? Yes. Does it matter that Mann made a mess? Yes, Mann’s hockey stick was the subject of more news coverage than any paper in the history of science. Is Wegman the only one to show Mann’s work is junk? No, lots of people have done likewise.

    Will foamers’ hurting Wegman rehabilitate the hockey stick, Michael Mann, or the crusade for CAGW? Not in the least. You can torture Wegman all you like, but it doesn’t salvage Mikey or his movement. Crap is still crap.

    Reading the ravings of the alarmist foamers about Wegman is much like trying to discuss the importance of the Declaration of Independence and being distracted by people in a lather about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. It just doesn’t matter. The theory of relativity would not become invalid if we were to learn that Einstein stole the idea from his maid, tortured squirrels in his spare time, or used improper footnote form.

  15. kim said

    Alarmists cry out
    Loudly, harshly, out of tune.
    Cacaphonic cranks.

  16. M. Simon said



  17. RomanM said

    I tarted up some thoughts into a post on the subject. Hopefully, it can add some context to the elements of the discussion.

  18. joaquin said

    I knew it would only be a matter of time before one of Miles Mathis’ groupies made a plug for his crank website. Mathis is a hostile, jealous, socially inept crackpot who writes thousands of pages of completely unsupported musings on science in complete isolation without benefit of review, revision or editing. He, according to his own bio, was called a genius once in high school and never got over it. He has never done the hard work it takes to become a scientist and instead took a degree in philosophy. His lack of understanding of physics, mathematics and general undergraduate level science is breathtaking.

    His absurd pi=4 “paper” has garnered a lot of attention because it is wrong and because it is perhaps the easiest of his articles to follow and refute. He has refused to retract or correct it or propose an experiment which would confirm a predicted result using pi=4 for kinematic situations. He won’t propose an experiment because he knows he’s wrong, he won’t retract the article because he never edits and he won’t correct the article because he’s a crank and cranks never admit they’re wrong even about the smallest thing.

    Mathis isn’t worth it. His snake oil methods of attracting uninformed groupies are just that: promise much, deliver nothing.

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