Who is Wegman?

I’m wondering a bit if I took Prof Wegmans credentials a bit too much on faith.

A commenter on the previous post wrote I’m not too knocked out by Wegman’s credentials as a prof at George Mason U, nor do I think he, who was leader of Reagan’s idiotic “Star Wars Program”, could be seen as an impartial, unbiased person. Sounds like the psycho Republicans like Barton are just calling on the old white guy network…. Is this fair? Was Wegman really leader of Star Wars? (only a bit; still that looks like a reasonably impressive CV).

The NRC people do seem to have had impeccable credentials. So what about WSS? One of WSS is Scott, whose publication list looks rather thin to me (he may just have let it get out of date?). But I’m not so good at interpreting credentials of statisticians.

Does anyone out there have any good links, and/or anything to say?

Oh, and before you start off on the obvious “you should judge their report, not their credentials” – I have, in the prev post. And it looks like a regurgitation of M&M, with some climate mistakes thrown in. The only reason to take them seriously is their credentials.

[Update: via Deltoid, I find John Quiggin has some interesting things to say about the network analysis that WSS did

UUpdate: he traces his descent from Hermite

UUUpdate: Said was Wegman’s student at George Mason, there are lots of rightwing policy types at George Mason which houses Fred Singer’s SEPP among other things says EliR at Deltoid

UUUUpdate: James Annan has a snarky aside about a mistake that all the “auditing” by stats “experts” has failed to pick up… (third-to-last para)]

21 thoughts on “Who is Wegman?”

  1. if it walks like a duck & quacks like a duck, it’s a (right-wing) duck! 😉

    anyway he’s hardly the “stats leader” the McIntyre camp is touting him to be. Universities of Iowa, North Carolina, George Mason U? Not really computing & stats powerhouses are they. And Scott’s big pubs are the annual “US Army Conference on Applied Statistics.” Sounds like the “old boy network.”

    Hmmm, reminds me of, errr, McI & McKitrick’s less than stellar credentials.


  2. From Wegman’s and Scott’s CVs, (both of which impress me with respect to stats and computing):

    Both have worked for the Office of Naval Research. Wegman worked at the Strategic Defense Initiative, and Scott worked extensively at the National Security Agency among others. Both have worked at the Interface Foundation for Computing and Statistics, funded partly by the National Security Agency. In the WSS report they acknowledge help from ONR and Mitre Corp (a high tech think tank doing lots of govt work). So they both work on massive computer systems with huge budgets, for extremely powerful (and secretive) people.

    Mere citizens such as myself are not allowed to know all that they have done, but they are as connected to power as one would want to be. So is their bias toward power?


  3. Good luck trying to say that Mann knows more about stats then Wegman. Wegman is the real deal. Mann makes dumb errors and then lacks the nads to admit or clarify them. Look at RC with that latest RC post by Ritson where he took first differences before an AR calculation (totally messing it up, when conventional methods were available.) Mann was asked about it several times and kept disagreeing without checking (and Ritson HAD taken the first differences). On the third request, he finally bothered to check and yes the commenters were correct. Mann still lacke the balls to admit it posted the most opaque statement, I’ve ever seen. (“What was used is what was written.”)


  4. Wegman:

    “With clinical trials for drugs and devices to be approved for human use by the FDA, review and consultation with statisticians is expected. Indeed, it is standard practice to include statisticians in the application-for-approval process. …”

    Ha. Haha. Hahaha. Damn.

    Dr. Wegman considers the FDA good standard practice:

    New England Journal of Medicine:
    FDA Standards — Good Enough for Government Work?
    Jerry Avorn, M.D.

    “…there is one area of biomedicine in which the government allows — even defends — a minimal standard that would be unacceptable anywhere else in research. It is the set of evidentiary requirements maintained by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the approval of new drugs.

    “This is not to suggest that the FDA condones sloppiness — quite the opposite. Like a patient with obsessive-compulsive disorder, the agency is single-mindedly preoccupied with demanding the meticulous performance of a series of relatively simple acts — proving that a new medication is superior to a usually irrelevant comparison treatment (such as placebo) in achieving a potentially irrelevant outcome (such as a surrogate measure). The sloppiness resides not in the quality of execution the FDA requires, which is high, but in the questions it asks.

    “Several drug-approval decisions illustrate the problem. …
    —> Got that? Wegman describes what should be the best practice — and he must know that’s not actually happening.

    Here’s a doctor writing for the New England Journal of Medicine saying the FDA’s hurrying to prove the drug is:

    “superior to a usually irrelevant comparison treatment
    ….in achieving a potentially irrelevant outcome…”

    Why yes, that does sound exactly like what Rep. Barton wants to prove about the skeptical climate science, doesn’t it?

    I have to say, I think Wegman’s slipping the knife in here, subtly enough that Barton is not noticing the point made.

    Read the last line of the Wegman report. Wegman says the 20th Century global warming is clearly evident both in the measurements and in the proxies, and very significantly different than anything in the past.

    The man’s being honest — he did what he was asked to do, knowing he’d been asked to attack something irrelevant, and he gave back just a little more than Barton wanted, the truth at the end — the problem’s real.

    Hmmm. Nothing’s simple, is it?


  5. *yawn* that just means he has connections; being Reagan’s “Star Wars” guy must have helped! 😉

    But nary a Nature or Science paper from these ‘experts’? HAHAHAHAHA

    And couldn’t they find any statisticians from Harvard, MIT, Stanford, etc?


  6. Wegman & North & McIntyre are hicks, the rest actually have real credentials. I’m no Mann fan, but when you see who is on McI’s side, i.e. redneck Republican nutjobs who think “Creationism” is science, you have to wonder about the “climateaudit” idiots.

    North’s credentials are solid:


    He was the chair of the recent National Academy of Sciences report on “Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years.” If you don’t like North’s credentials, then you must not like Tom Crowley’s. They worked together fairly often over the last 30 years.

    It looks to me like a pretty good panel.


  7. I should add (so you don’t think I “hate” the panel) — Hans von Storch, who co-authored a great reference book on statistical methods in climate science, smokes all of these other clowns. It will be interesting to hear him (and he doesn’t care for American politics and is more interested in Daffy Duck than George Bush :-).


  8. I just caught a couple of minutes of the question period. Sen Wexman was asking Dr. North some questions. THe usual congressional style but they all show very clearly that MBH does not matter very much to the current view of global warming.

    For example he brought up Mears & Wentz and asked if their results would be changed if MBH was never written.

    [!?! Thats a weird question. How can anyone ask that? -W]

    Looking at the pannel composition I don’t think anyone else could address this point – what if MBH is wrong. Wegman has already said the MBH is not relevant to the current view. McIntyre isn’t qualifyed either and I didn’t recognize other sceptics there.

    Barton may try to spin this but I find it hard to see that it is anything other than a failure for him. Everyone seems to say that it is interesting, there may be problems, but it does not matter one bit.

    ANyone else have a take on it.


  9. > asked if their results would be changed if
    > MBH was never written.
    > [!?! Thats a weird question. How can anyone ask that? -W]

    How? This is directed to the religious worldview that Barton and, perhas even more, Inhofe is locked in. It’s the view that there’s a founding, original document and if that can be disproved, everything “based on” it falls down.


    “Yesterday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) attacked Al Gore and global warming science, claiming that Gore was “full of crap” on global warming.

    “Appearing on Glenn Beck’s radio show and CNN television program, Inhofe said that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which concluded that global warming was real and caused by humans, used “one scientist.” Inhofe added: “[A]ll of the recent science…it confirms that I was right on this thing. This thing is a hoax.”

    Same thing the Rep from Florida was doing Thursday when, looking at Gore’s book at the chart from Lonnie Thompson’s borehole icecap data, he said that since Gore took it from the IPCC, it had to be based on Mann, so the chart was misidentified in the book by attributing it to someone else.

    They believe any temperature series showing warming has to go back to Mann for its validity, and they can disprove the whole field of science if they can call Mann’s work flawed.

    Think of it as a religious debate — at least on their side.
    They’re trying to cast a Holy Book in doubt to throw down a heresy.

    Heinlein wrote this up in Revolt in 2100.


  10. NC has a history of very solid stats. It’s where Hotelling founded the department. In some ways its the birthplace of American academic statistics. Read the Hotelling article on teaching statistics. Read his Nobel Prize citation. In any case, it is not a hick school regardless. It is a solid, large top of it’s state, state uni. No, it’s not Harvard. But it is fine.


  11. “Wegman is the real deal.”

    And he’s alarmed about sea level rise:

    “The instrumented temperature record makes it clear that global temperatures have risen since 1850 CE. How this present era compares to previous epochs is not clear because the uncertainties in the proxies. However, it is clear that average global temperature increases are not the real focus. It is the temperature increases at the poles that matter and average global or Northern Hemisphere increases do not address the issue. We note that according to experts at NASA’s JPL, the average ocean height is increasing by approximately 1 millimeter per year, half of which is due to melting of polar ice and the other half due to thermal expansion. The latter fact implies that the oceans are absorbing tremendous amounts of heat, which is much more alarming because of the coupling of ocean circulation to the
    atmosphere. (See Wunsch 2002, 2006).”

    I wasn’t that bothered about it before, but now he’s got me worried about it.


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