A few years back as part of the attack on climate science (and in particular the famous ‘hockey stick’ graph) Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) commissioned an assessment of the work of Michael Mann and others from Professor Edward Wegman of George Mason University, along with his former student Yasmin Said and some others. This included, not only Wegman’s supposedly independent assessment of the statistical methods used by Mann but a ‘social network analysis’ of the relationship between Mann and his co-authors, which purportedly showed that Mann’s network of co-authors dominated the climate science field. As I pointed out at the time, Wegman et al started the analysis with Mann at the centre, so the primary result was that Mann had written a paper with every one of his co-authors! Nevertheless, a version of the paper was published in Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, in which Wegman took this analysis to the startling conclusion that senior academics should not collaborate with each other, but should instead work only with their students. Wegman follows his own advice in this respect, and now we can see why.

It’s just been announced that the paper is to be retracted on the grounds that it contains extensive plagiarism, much but not all of it from Wikipedia. Wegman’s response, showing the wisdom of his research strategy, is to blame his graduate student, who was not, however credited as an author. USA Today, which has taken the lead in following the Wegman plagiarism story, asked an actual expert to look at the paper and her reaction was about the same as my amateur assessment (Wegman and Said are also newcomers to the field, which may explain their heavy reliance on Wikipedia as a reference source).
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Eva Joly On Strauss-Kahn Perp Walk: Translation?

by John Holbo on May 17, 2011

Lots of folks are bemused by Joly’s apparently critical statement that New York justice “doesn’t distinguish between the director of the I.M.F. and any other suspect.” Obviously there is a natural presumption in favor of equality. But the Times article also contains a video link to the full interview in which Joly’s own next words are something like, ‘this is the idea of equality before the law, but clearly for a director of the IMF …’ and then, clarity be damned, my ear is incapable of catching the bit that finishes the thought. What does she say?

UPDATE: Obviously feel free to discuss Joly’s ideas more generally. The argument against a perp walk, because it is inconsistent with presumption of innocence, is cogent. And obviously famous/powerful people like IMF directors are the people who risk losing their presumption of innocence in this way. So we have that rare case in which formal equality amounts to effective bias in favor of the weak and powerless. But it seems like a big mistake to say it is all just Big Apple barbarism – or, rather, Rome-style triumphalism, the defeated Gaul chief paraded in chains for the populace to see! The wealthy and powerful are not exactly without power and wealth, after all, so the prosecutor’s office, in a town full of rich, influential people, should ideally have effective general strategies they pursue, as a matter of course, to make sure they aren’t steamrollered by that. What do you think?