After long delays[1], GMU has come down with a self-contradictory whitewash on the plagiarism case against climate delusionist Edward Wegman.  One committee conceded plagiarism on a paper that had already been retracted by the journal in question, and recommended a reprimand, while another cleared Wegman of all charges, against the judgement of every external expert who’s looked at the case, and in the face of copious evidence of direct cut-and-paste copying.

With this and the Cato takeover, I think those both on the left and parts of the right who have presented views extremely critical of the “Kochtopus” network can rest their case. Any institution that relies on Koch Brothers money, whether it presents itself as a university, a thinktank or a grassroots organization, has to be regarded as a propaganda outfit.

That’s true, even if, as in the case of Cato and GMU, some genuine and valuable research is produced. The use of genuine material as a cover for industry propaganda is now a well established technique – the most famous blogospheric example was that of Tech Central Station.

For people working at Koch-controlled organizations who value a capacity to undertake independent research and to maintain a credible claim to independence, this is a big problem. Not everyone is in a position to write a presignation letter like that of Julian Sanchez, but the alternative of staying on is not particularly attractive either.


fn1. Which I will claim as an excuse for posting this several weeks after the event

12 thoughts on “KBU

  1. GMU founding member of the neocon-neoliberal poison ivy league?

    If knowledge is true justified belief, then Koch money can purchase ignorance defined as truthy right-justified belief.

  2. I think those both on the left and parts of the right who have presented views extremely critical of the “Kochtopus” network can rest their case. Any institution that relies on Koch Brothers money, whether it presents itself as a university, a thinktank or a grassroots organization, has to be regarded as a propaganda outfit.

    The audacity of the Koch Bros, to exercise their property rights in a free market outfit, has seen an unseemly union of opposites. Everyone is now in furious agreement, corporate money is bad money and has no place in politics.

  3. I’m not sure it’s restricted, strictly and directly, to the “Kochtopus” network.

    Ahem, http://www.ccsg.uq.edu.au/

    “The aim of the Centre for Coal Seam Gas (CCSG) is to be a world leading centre of excellence that serves the research and educational needs of stakeholders in the Australian CSG/LNG industry. CCSG supports leading practice policy development and help ensure that Australia becomes the primary source of new knowledge, technology and skilled graduates for the industry as it develops world-wide.”

    Now, I’m certainly in no position to be casting aspersions, but… isn’t there a potential ‘perception’ problem here?

    Where’s the department at UQ which has been given $20million and is “Committed to excellence in sorting the industry spin from the truth to ascertain whether this whole fracking caper isn’t just a ponzi scheme which will devastate the aquifers and productive croplands of Australia or whether it really is the best thing since sliced bread and we’ll all be rolling around in cash with the best publicly funded health, public transit and education system the world has known AS WELL AS saving the climate by reducing the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere”?

    The UQ press release ( http://www.uq.edu.au/news/index.html?article=24166 ) tells us:

    “The Premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh, today (December 7) launched a $20 million partnership encompassing industry, government and researchers to further increase the knowledge and skill needs of the growing coal seam gas industry.

    Gas is a vital enabler of renewable energy technologies and therefore coal seam gas will play a key role in this cleaner energy fuel for the future. Queensland is in a prime position to help fulfil this need.

    The University of Queensland, QGC, Santos and Arrow Energy have committed up to $20 million for the first five years of the CCSG.

    It has been working with other universities in Australia and has held talks with international universities in the UK and US to discuss future collaborations in the CSG and broader unconventional gas areas.”

    Nope, nothing there to put the mind at ease. I haven’t the technical expertise to do a ‘Kevin Bacon’ on UQ’s CCSG + GMU + Koch, but I have a feeling it would come in at quite a few less than 6.

  4. But in the US, due to a perverse legal interpretation of a law, originally written to benefit blacks, post civil war, corporations have.all the human rights of a living and breathing humans.uman.

  5. If it takes a thousand litres of water to produce a litre of milk and i buy this milk from the supermarket for $2-$4 dollars?
    The human body also requires calcium ,to absorb calcium from milk, the absorption process depleting calcium levels.

    The price of water?

  6. The GMU farce is probably a combination of i) money talks; ii) who you know; and, last but not least iii) ideological bed-fellows. With the shear quantity of unattributed copy + paste, spread across a major report to the US congress through to research articles appearing in at least one journal, the editorial board of which consisted (at the time) in part of submitting authors responsible for the copy + paste articles); well, in this light, it is rather difficult to paint a scenario in which it is reasonable to let the subject(s) of the plagiarism and misconduct charges off with little more than a slap across the wrist with a sodden lettuce leaf.

    A student—except, it seems, where they are protected by a boss with similar “judgemental lapses”—who performed such egregious examples of copy + paste plagiarism, would surely have failed whatever subject that happened in, or lost their masters or phd. May even have been expelled from the university itself. Nope, if your ideology is pointing in the same direction as the money flows, you’re basically shielded from ethics committees and the like. Good wicket to be playing on, that.

    Personally, I think this occurrence is simply another marker as to how money + ideology marrs the higher education system in too many western countries now. Ideology is probably the lesser of the two factors, but deep-seated conservative ideology is typically paired with the money trail. So much for the “liberal bias” universities are so often accused of. Quite the opposite bias is displayed far too often, and usually it is where the money is.

    I am regularly bemused by manner in which the conservative side make much ado about The Enlightenment, and yet it embodied many intellectual ideals that are explicitly rejected by the modern conservatives. The have a “pick and choose” philosophy in how they adopt only those Enlightenment principles that suit their current agenda, and quietly—without fuss—repudiate all other principles. The most glaring, most jarring, example in the modern era is the wholesale rejection of science, and with it the rejection of objective reality: the modern conservative must reject evolution, must reject CFCs as damaging to the ozone layer, must renounce Anthropogenic Global Warming in all its guises, must insist on some form of Creationism or Intelligent Design, and must embrace all Zombie Ideas in Economics, flying in the face of a mountain of evidence to the contrary. That is one hell of a lot of mental baggage for a modern conservative to carry in their saddlebags; it is a marvel of the modern era that such lop-sided characters, by merely persisting in flogging a dead horse, can grace the public arena so successfully.

  7. Megan: one never knows about industry/university collaborations. They can be very good to very bad, one never knows. Some really bad ones show up in Robert Proctor’s great new book, Golden Holocaust: The Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition. Although far from the worst, George Mason University shows up often (10K+ hits) in my perusals of the tobacco archives.

    On the other hand, ExxonMobil helps fund GCEP at Stanford, where I know some of the people and think they do fine research.

    Fracking: I’d suggest this ought to be an insurance problem more than anything else.
    As it stands, a lot of people either think fracking is absolutely safe or the End of the World.

    I suggest that:
    a) Overall, if fracking helps get rid of coal, it is very useful.
    b) The evidence so far is that fracking is probably safe, IF the frackers are careful in the well-building AND IF the geology is OK, a bit like oil wells. What that means of course, is that sometimes fracking will cause trouble.

    [I’m from Western Pennsylvania, used to work vacations for US Bureau of Mines, doing software for geologists. Mines and wells are not all identical: geology varies.
    W PA is where modern oil was discovered and coal was big in Appalachia. Years after mines had closed, people’s houses collapsed.]

    Since economics gets discussed here on occasion, maybe that’s a good separate topic:
    can one design an insurance framework so that people might sign off on nearby fracking and a) get compensated for any short-term hassle
    and b) be assured that if, a few years down the road, something bad happens as a result, they will get compensated fairly and expeditiously, without years of expensive lawsuits.

    [In PA, while people might want to believe that fracking will generate jobs and money, some do not necessarily trust every word from hydrocarbon companies. Those unfamiliar with Don Blankenship might read that as an example of why.]

    Insurance companies get paid to price risk and maybe using them is a partial answer.

  8. You may think they, the student, would surely fail but you are surely wrong. At schools ad in life,cheating has become a valuable skill.

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