How Rampant Is Plagiarism In Climate Science?

Germany’s Defence Minister (Dr?) Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is under heavy fire amid allegations he plagiarised other works and included them in his doctoral thesis, read short report here.

Unlike Climategate, the media here is doing its work and reporting on these developments which are now breaking, thanks in large part to the work of bloggers.

The case against zu Guttenberg appears to be hardening, at least that’s what we are hearing from the media. If it turns out that he did indeed plagiarise, then his doctorate will be revoked, and he will be under massive pressure to resign. Others of course say that everyone makes mistakes, and so he ought to stay. I think he ought to resign if he did indeed plagiarise.

Although the media hype surrounding zu Guttenberg is immense, the general public is a bit more calm about it. Most Germans here will tell you that they would not be surprised if many doctoral degree holders probably have done the same to a greater or lesser extent.

This got me thinking about climate science and all the professors and scientists out there. How many were really honest in their doctoral theses? In climate science we’ve seen a lot of shady dealings, criminal activity, corruption and downright fraud. It certainly would be interesting to examine a few theses from some of these leading warmist scientists.

I’ll just come out and say it. Any scientist that has the habit of manipulating, torturing and misrepresenting climate data probably was also less than honest in writing his/her thesis. Dishonesty starts very early on in life. Sure, this is a dangerous path to take, and one that is probably best avoided. It would indeed signal the start of a whole new level of mud-raking that might do more harm than good. Even honest people make mistakes, after all. Everyone has lied at one time or another. Yet, while some people rarely lie, others are pathological.

Shouldn’t the public know?

Sometimes it is not even clear what is a lie. Many tell half-truths, which is a way of deception. At this blog I tend to tell only one side of the story – because I feel the other side has been told ten times already. Does that make me deceptive?

Shall we have a look at some doctoral theses?

35 responses to “How Rampant Is Plagiarism In Climate Science?”

  1. Slimething
  2. Brian G Valentine

    “Any scientist that has the habit of manipulating, torturing and misrepresenting climate data probably was also been less than honest in writing his/her thesis.”

    I don’t know if we can go that far. I think people who have been less than honest in their “climate” work may have been swept up in a fad. Peer pressure or the hope of some recognition can be a powerful influence to provide people with the ability to “see things that aren’t there.”

  3. RCS

    I think theses are difficult because the student may be influenced (to put it mildly) by the inbuilt predjuces of the supervisor.

    Certainly when I did my PhD ( at a major UK university), there was absolutely no check on the validity of data and the path by which this entered a thesis. I’m told that some US universities take a much tougher line on this, and rightly so.

    The object of doing a PhD is to show “independent and critical thought”. However, this may easily slide into groupthink when the candidate should be absolutely rejecting preconceived ideas unless the ground for believing them is very strong. After gaining one’s thesis, bad habits may persist, but this is not prima facie scientific fraud. What is more common is that unconventional and non-mainstream scientific ideas may be very difficult to develop in a non-critical academic environment and a different standard of scepticism is applied to them than to ideas that fall within the concensus.

    I agree that many PhDs are absolute tosh, but once one has one, it confers a mantle of scientific “authority” on the holders that may not be justified.

    What matters in a PhD is the rigour of the student, the supervisor and the external examiners.

    1. Brian G Valentine

      To his credit Marc Morano investigated the backgrounds of people included in his “skeptic” report (the American ones anyway)

      I don’t think a “denialist” ever had any allegations of misconduct directed against them. Hooray!

      The best that global warmers have come up with so far is, “so and so consulted for a group that consulted for a tobacco company and therefore so-and-so is no good”

      People would be stupid to stick their necks out if they have done something like “plagiarize their doctoral thesis” or lie about academic degrees. They are going to get found out, because there are enough people willing to expend the time to investigate them if they don’t particularly care for somebody’s point of view.

  4. DirkH

    Pierre, the media and the left is trying for months now to bring zu Guttenberg down. It was a frantic search for scandals and errors. I have no sympathy for this. If a politician is corrupt he has to resign, no doubt about it, but for cheating in a thesis? BTW speaking about corruption, the current boss of the opposition party SPD, Sigmar Gabriel, once became the boss of a media agency, and on that very same day this agency got a huge contract from VW for promoting the goals of the car maker, and Gabriel immediately scurried off to Brussels to lobby for VW. Sigmar Gabriel never resigned from anything… and he’s still good enough to be the boss of the SPD. The guy who awarded his company the contract was Peter Hartz, who later got into trouble for bribing the VW worker council bosses (Betriebsrat) with prostitutes…

    This is a desperate search by the left groups for dirty laundry.

  5. Bernd Felsche

    In my final year of studies, we were asked to do a literature study on an Engineering subject of our choosing.

    It turned out that there were very few books on the subject that I chose but that there was lots of literature in journals, predominately in German … which surprised me for a sciences library in Australia. I started making notes on “cards” which were files on a floppy disc, containing the salient points in all the literature available locally coming to about 40 items in the bibliography. At the end, I printed out copies of all the cards and marked up what would be most-useful.

    I then composed the paper; and the initial draft was well over what was expected (at 100+ pages) so I whittled it down some more until it was under 60 pages. (20 pages had been requested). But I could whittle no further without cutting fatal wounds into the thread. So, with just a few days left before the due date, I did the final check of the layout; more proof-reading and finally the “binding” and submitted the report with minutes to spare. And hoped that it wouldn’t be rejected due to the weight.

    The staff member posted marks a couple of weeks later. I did reasonably well and he told me that although he’d been surprised at the length, that he’d not felt that there was any surplus material. The marked papers were to be left outside of his office the following Monday… but mine disappeared before I got to the stack. Not to worry. I still had my “pre-print” copy.

    I had a chance to look again at the paper a few weeks later because I had some more ideas. So I took my draft copy back to the library and pulled out a couple of the sources which I recalled to have dealt with those ideas in detail.

    To my shock and astonishment, there were stretches of paragraphs that were almost identical with the sources! It seems that I’d unconsciously adopted that prose of the best sources without a direct copy, but the paraphrased snippets on the “cards” being expanded back to nearly the original form.

    So I’m not going to prejudge what has been written to be plagiarism. The reliable test is always that the author be able to express aspects of the work in an oral quiz; to respond either in pretty much the same manner, or to express ideas that are developed from what was previously written.

    I read subsequent to my experience that when one reads; one thinks along with the author. If only they’d told me before the exercise!

  6. R. de Haan

    Watch out for the Carbon Brief!
    They are worried about the damage skeptic blogs cause in India?

    And they want to do something about it.

  7. Brian G Valentine

    The people who I don’t have “high hopes for” are the “PhDs” under people like Mann, Trenberth, and Santer.

    It is difficult to imagine that these students won’t be “climate catastrophists” who can (will) find “climate catastrophe” looming in the most meager of data or in consequence of the most ill-thought-out “theory.”

  8. Brian G Valentine

    And to reinforce your conviction that there is little hope for climate “science” as science, we have “Doctor” Brenda Ekwurzel, expatiating upon the mysteries of snow fall and other things you may have wondered about but never knew.

  9. DirkH

    Recently, Der Spiegel reported about the ongoing breakup of the African continent in Ethiopeia. Now, they have an interesting report about the magma lake of Nyiragongo; a volcano near the city of Goma.
    Report in German with 25 must-see photos:,1518,745303,00.html

    The photos come mostly from an expedition by these guys:

    1. R. de Haan


      Thanks for these link, great pictures.
      The alarmist report about a pending eruption and an overflowing lava lake is too far fetched in my opinion.
      There is at least 150 to 200 meter crater rim to overcome as you can see from the overview pictures.

      This is a dangerous volcano for the town of Goma, no doubt about that, but I wouldn’t suspend my holiday if I had a hotel booked over there for next week.

    2. R. de Haan

      It’s a bit like this report about an earth quake near Koblenz a few day’s ago if you know what I mean.

      We have a small earthquake swarm and the claim of a pending volcanic eruption is made?

      I really detest this kind of reporting.

      1. DirkH

        I read about the quake and thought “a small one, nothing extraordinary” and didn’t care any further. But, the fact that alarmists always jump on the tiniest risk; including many journalists, makes me think they suffer from this:
        “Innumeracy is a neologism coined by analogue with illiteracy; it refers to a lack of ability to reason with numbers.”

  10. R. de Haan
  11. R. de Haan

    Pierre, this week E10 was introduced in Germany at lower prices than Euro 95. In fact Euro 95 has become more expensive.

    Mixing Ethanol with gasoline is a criminal act.

    Not only because it kills car engines.

    It also kills people.

    Please write a piece about the subject.


    Most German’s are very pleased with this new cheap fuel.

    They deserve a Government like this.
    If you can sell them the Ethanol scam, you can sell them everything.

    Nothing learned from the past.

  12. R. de Haan

    Why is the application of ethanol criminal

    1. It makes fueling up more dangerous.
    Ethanol evaporates more quicker.
    Static chargers can easily ignite the vapor.

    2. Ethanol is carinogenic

    3. Ethanol is produced from food crops

    4. The current food riots in NA and the `middle East have been caused by price hikes partially caused by the bio fuel scam

    5. Ethanol reduces the milage per liter (Abzocke)

    6. Ethanol is extremely corrosive and eats away aluminum parts of the engine and dissolves rubber compounds, seals and tubing directly affecting the reliability of the car.

    7. Ethanol attracts water in the fuel tank.
    Ever tried to start a car with water in the tank?

    There are more negatives but this will do for the moment.

  13. mindert eiting

    May be something for Donna Laframboise. She is very good in this kind of stuff. We have had in The Netherlands also affairs about politicians who lied about their titles. One of them bought his title from some obscure institute. He resigned and began an own institute for people with damaged reputations. May be it still exists. He can earn a lot of money if that handsome Defence Minister and a crowd of climate scientists come along.

    1. DirkH

      There is, of course, also a Silly Con Valley startup for this.
      (just seen on BBC)

      1. DirkH

        Hey, that website looks exactly like what Mann, Steig, Hansen, Monbiot, Holdren and Ehrlich need.

        1. mindert eiting

          When they are retired, they should start a weather station in Mali or Micronesia and will never observe climate change again.

  14. R. de Haan
    1. DirkH

      Looks like current CO2 levels don’t stop the planet from cooling. Expect the warmist spin machine to break down from overload.

  15. R. de Haan

    Pierre, here is some more GOOD NEWS!

    1. Green Sand

      Yup, NYT carrying it as well

      “House Republicans Fire White House Climate Advisers as Frenzied Budget Debate Continues”

  16. DirkH

    Gavin Schmidt destroys Krugman’s claims:
    “There is no theory or result that indicates that climate change increases extremes in general.”
    (H/T Marc Morano, climate depot)

  17. Taylor

    Leaving “Climate-foo” aside:

    Concerning Guttenberg. How rampant is fraud in science?
    Take a look at the crowd sourcing efforts at
    OpenAccess and the Internet to the rescue.
    This is what it’s ultimately about.

    You, me, we, almost everyone should look at numerous things.
    Science not living up to what it is claiming when the common sense or simple but diligent inquiry confronts it with apparent, in this case mishaps and oversights as it is said…
    Well, yeah.

    Reading the whole thesis in its finally published form, his chronologically old reviewer surely is not as much to blame as to the extent some people in Germany want him to. It is a quite talkative and polished piece of paper to the uninitiated. Looking good. The first read and the looks of what the publisher made of it, hm, two years after the doctorate was granted, are somehow convincing. People and bodies that do not know what willing prosecutioners can and will do with the help of the Internet might grade it well.

    However, scientific rigor and thoroughness are nowhere to be found in this . Superficial examination should have raised some eyebrows . The wording, the bootlicking (to his grading authorities), the time-scale of his completing the document, the claimed “other duties” and “adventurous live”; do not get me started. Preliminary plag-soft-scanning should have triggered closer scrutiny. People involved in this field of “research”? Anyone opposed to diploma-mills? Google?

    Now we see a complete mash-up of texts, without scientific value, seemingly without _any_ original thought or contribution to the field with no direction of argument.
    This was just a Besinnungaufsatz zur Weltanschauung. Apparently enough.
    German science cought another serious blow. “Excellence-cluster”, whole new meaning to that construct.

    This was a complete fraud.
    Repeated lying and subsequent cowardice at public display.

    There is just one thing to be learned here.
    Science in its true form -the scientific method- rules supreme.
    But only, if it lives up to its own standard.
    And there is some serious fraud in this wonderful field.

    Question authority, form your own opinion, prove it.
    Truth prevails.

  18. Brian G Valentine

    Not exactly “funny”:

    I guess he will have to put up with this kind of thing until he is in obscurity someplace

  19. DirkH

    If you want to see how the authorities want to spin the abuse of the peer review system; they have ordered Richard Black to do the dirty deed.

  20. R. de Haan

    From the Global Warming news front.
    Record snowfall in India revives 2000 glaciers

    UN IPCC assessment report anyone?
    They come cheap now.

  21. Edwin_Adlerman

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