In 2006, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), then the head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, launched a personal crusade against the science underlying global warming. The congressman dragged in climate experts for scrutiny before Congress and, along with fellow Republicans, claimed that it was “false” that there was a “consensus” about the science of man-made climate change. As a part of this crusade, House Republicans compiled a report attacking the methodology of leading climate scientists. The report, assembled by George Mason University statistician Edward Wegman, became a major piece of propoganda used by global warming deniers.
Now, a review by USA Today finds that the Wegman report, as the document came to be known, plagiarized numerous sections of the 1999 textbook Paleoclimatology: Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary, written by Dr. Raymond Bradley — ironically, one of the scientists that the report criticizes. An analysis by retired computer scientist John Mashey finds that at least 35 of the report’s 91 pages are guilty of plagiarizing from Bradley’s textbook:
An influential 2006 congressional report that raised questions about the validity of global warming research was partly based on material copied from textbooks, Wikipedia and the writings of one of the scientists criticized in the report, plagiarism experts say.
Review of the 91-page report by three experts contacted by USA TODAY found repeated instances of passages lifted word for word and what appear to be thinly disguised paraphrases. […]
In March, climate scientist Raymond Bradley of the University of Massachusetts asked GMU, based in Fairfax, Va., to investigate “clear plagiarism” of one of his textbooks.
Bradley says he learned of the copying on the Deep Climate website and through a now year-long analysis of the Wegman report made by retired computer scientist John Mashey of Portola Valley, Calif. Mashey’s analysis concludes that 35 of the report’s 91 pages “are mostly plagiarized text, but often injected with errors, bias and changes of meaning.” Copying others’ text or ideas without crediting them violates universities’ standards, according to Liz Wager of the London-based Committee on Publication Ethics.
“It kind of undermines the credibility of your work criticizing others’ integrity when you don’t conform to the basic rules of scholarship,” Virginia Tech plagiarism expert Skip Garner told USA Today. “It’s nothing personal. I don’t want these guys fired or anything,” Bradley told the paper. “They should just retract or withdraw the report as you would any scientific publication that has these sort of problems.”
Last month, George Mason confirmed that Wegman was under investigation for “plagiarism and misconduct charges” related to the report. “I’m very well aware of the report,” Wegman said at the time, noting that “[s]ome litigation is underway.” “Clearly, text was just lifted verbatim from my book,” Bradley said upon news of the investigation.
Perhaps the most alarming thing about the presence of plagiarism in the GOP’s 2006 report is the the man behind document, Congressman Barton, is considered a front runner to once again become chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Many political observers expect Republicans to again pursue their witch hunts against climate scientists, and with the recent revelations about their 2006 report coming to light, one has to wonder what sort of ethical boundaries they are willing to cross in their upcoming war on science.