Sunday, October 10, 2010

An Aside On Wegman And Plagiarism

One quickly developing meme in the Wegman Plagiarism case is the whole idea that its all really over-blown, not such a big deal, if an academic work by author X borrowed page upon page from author Y without attribution. Tom Fuller seems to be of that opinion. As Tom in his pre-Examiner days used to be a real journalist, it may be useful to remind him what happens when plagiarism occurs in that context:

Sun Media regrets that it is ending the daily Advice Guy column, but we’re compelled to do so after learning the columnist used material in a recent column published by another source.

-The Editors

Note that Sun Media is a chain of Canadian tabloids, occasionally forced to deny that they publish hate speech. But, in the end, they have standards. Tom seems to think these standards are too rigid for academe.

PS. The fellow whose column was terminated was picked in a "nationwide competition". He was the second choice, the first one apparently not working out either. Maybe this journalism thing-cranking out words day after day after day--is harder than it looks.


Deno said...

"Bishop Hill has so far said what needed to be said most succinctly:

there are two possibilities in play:

Wegman et al are guilty of plagiarism; short-centred principal components analysis is biased and can produce hockey sticks from red noise

Wegman et al are not guilty of plagiarism; short-centred principal components analysis is biased and can produce hockey sticks from red noise."

So much for the hockey stick!


Steve Scolnik said...

I think someone once said:
"Method Wrong + Answer Correct = Bad Science."
He might have been a statistician or something. Oh, yeah, here it is, Wegman:

Steve Bloom said...

Hmm, what evidence is there of "real journalism" in Fuller's past? IIRC he's made some claim about a longish stint working for the Guardian on something research-related, but it didn't sound like journalism as such. Is there anything else? I wonder about this since he's obviously lying about being a liberal.

Deno said...

"Wegman’s report examined the relationships between the very small community of scientists working in and around the field of paleoclimatology. This is because after Mann’s Hockey Stick chart began receiving criticism, a flurry of papers were suddenly published supporting his results–and they all received prominent attention and temporarily saved Mann’s reputation. But, as Steve McIntyre pointed out, these scientists were all closely connected to Michael Mann, being co-authors, co-bloggers, mentors and advisers of his. Worse, they used the same suspect data and the same discredited analysis techniques.

Wegman formalized an examination of Mann’s compatriots using a relatively new discipline called Social Network Analysis. And in his report to Congress, when Wegman explains what Social Network Analysis is, he copies someone else’s introduction of the science and doesn’t attribute it at all. (It looks like Wikipedia is copied, which means that someone else probably got copied to get it into Wikipedia. There is even the slight chance that Wikipedia copied Wegman, considering dates and such, but that would be just too delicious, so it probably didn’t happen that way.)"

No one is disputing Wegman’s finding that Mann’s Hockey stick is a load of crap so instead of defending Mann they go after Wegman’s definition of Social Network Analysis.


jfjmurphy said...

It's touching (and a touch sad) to see people still desperately trying to claim that the hockey-stick is broken (despite all those other hockey-sticks produced since then - but they must be ignored); and still bigging-up McIntyre, the deniers' prophet, and he who must be praised at all opportunities.

OK, it's more sad than touching...

John Mashey said...

Oh yes, I am disputing the WR's findings about Mann, and I did so in detail.

I also looked hard at the SNA material, talked to top-notch SNA researchers, quoted one of several, which I thought was enough. Dead horses are dead, one can stop beating on them.

It is amusing to see someone call SNA a relatively recent discipline, especially since it goes back into the 1920, and is certainly older than Wegman's Computational Statistics.

Read: Linton C. Freeman, The Development of Social Network Analysis, 2004, Empirical Press, Vancouver.

Contrary to popular belief, "social networks" didn't start with LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.