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View Diary: USA Today: Key climate denier report was plagiarism (162 comments)

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  •  There were also distortions and bias (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    True North, jrooth, arlene, tomasyn

    According to the USA today article:

    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 Ethic

    So they took material from people who knew what they were talking about, and changed the context, changed the language to inject bias, and added errors.  

    There were only a few samples in the article, but even those few are instructive. Look at this sample:
    Original Bradley report

    The mean width of a ring in any one tree is a function of many variables, including the tree species, tree age, availability of stored food within the tree and of important nutrients in the soil, and a whole complex of climatic factors (sunshine, precipitation, temperature, wind speed, humidity, and their distribution throughout the year). The problem facing dendroclimatologists is to extract whatever climatic signal is available in the tree ring data and to distinguish from the background noise."

    Wegman report

    The average width of a tree ring is a function of many variables including the tree species, tree age, stored carbohydrates in the tree, nutrients in the soil, and climatic factors including sunlight, precipitation, temperature, wind speed, humidity, and even carbon dioxide availability in the atmosphere. Obviously there are many confounding factors so the problem is to extract the temperature signal and to distinguish the temperature signal from the noise caused by the many confounding factors."

    The first, original report notes factors that influence the tree ring, and straightforwardly states the problem. To me, that is the typical preface in a scientific report to describing how that that problem was dealt with, how the "noise" was screened out.

    Compare that to the second where the author added "obviously" and used "confounding" twice, a way to subtly bias the audience about the possibility of screening these factors out.

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