Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Playing plagiarist games at WUWT

Sou | 8:02 PM Go to the first of 14 comments. Add a comment

This is weird.

I just noticed that Anthony Watts elevated a comment by "Brad Keyes" (archived here), who I assumed was the same "Brad Keyes" who made a brief appearance here back when HotWhopper was very new, thread-bombing as he is inclined to do.  Anthony says he doesn't agree with Brad or think he's sincere, but he's making Brad's comment prominent in the interest of fairness - or something like that.

Thing is the writing style doesn't match up well with the "Brad Keyes" some of us have had to tolerate on various websites.  That "Brad Keyes" is a pedant.  This one isn't displaying that tendency to quite the same degree, though it's there if you look for it.  However there is a twitterer who does bear a remarkable resemblance to the other "Brad Keyes" who links to the same blog as the WUWT "Brad Keyes". So I figure they are one and the same.

Anyway it's not all that relevant to the point I want to make here.  The comment was elevated because Anthony chose this as a "Quote of the Week" (archived here) and everyone at WUWT piled on Brad Keyes calling him a plagiarist, accusing him of being a scientist etc etc.  (I think some mistook him for an actual climate scientist, which is hilarious if you've ever come across Brad Keyes.)  This was the quote that started it all:
Susan Crockford writes
…commenter Brad Keyes at The Conversation defends the use of the “Ursus bogus” image with this astonishing statement:
The problem is, only sensational exaggeration makes the kind of story that will get politicians’—and readers’—attention. So, yes, climate scientists might exaggerate, but in today’s world, this is the only way to assure any political action and thus more federal financing to reduce the scientific uncertainty.

Here's the link to the comment made by Brad Keyes at The Conversation - you may have to click "read more".

In Brad Keyes' response at WUWT he wrote:
To those who have described my comment as “plagiarism” (a mastertrope of dog-whistling, ad hominem and Islamophobia obviously intended to liken me to Edward Wegman’s “foreign,” “non-American,” “A-rab!!!” grad student):

Brad hasn't specifically said his comment wasn't plagiarism.  And right up top of that same article he wrote:  "As the poster of the “astonishing statement,”", rather than "as the author".  So again, he's not claiming authorship.  However, elsewhere he wrote:
The passage you thought you recognized was, in fact, a PARAPHRASE of the climate-scientific ethics Schneider expounded so memorably in a wide-ranging Discovery interview.

Again, Brad doesn't claim authorship of the statement.  He claims it was a paraphrase of a statement by Stephen Schneider, presumably this one:
On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

So Brad Keyes is wrong.  One could hardly claim that the following is a fair or accurate paraphrase of the above.  Stephen Schneider would never have countenanced "sensational exaggeration".  Why would he?  The facts are sensational enough on their own.
“The problem is, only sensational exaggeration makes the kind of story that will get politicians’—and readers’—attention. So, yes, climate scientists might exaggerate, but in today’s world, this is the only way to assure any political action and thus more federal financing to reduce the scientific uncertainty.”

But back to the point of this article.  Did Brad Keyes plagiarise?  Let's see.   I did a Google search of some of the text.  I wasn't looking to check who first wrote the statement.   I did what I often do, search a fragment of text to find the source.  In this case I was wanting to find the comment at the Conversation.

To my surprise instead I found the following, from a letter to the New York Times back in April 2009 (my bold italics).

“The Civil Heretic” was a perfect example of what Freeman Dyson disagrees with: blatant and unfounded exaggeration. Dyson is not a “global-warming heretic”; he does not dispute the science. He simply says, and rightfully so, that the science is both uncertain and very much exaggerated. It is no secret that a lot of climate-change research is subject to opinion, that climate models sometimes disagree even on the signs of the future changes (e.g. drier vs. wetter future climate). The problem is, only sensational exaggeration makes the kind of story that will get politicians’ — and readers’ — attention. So, yes, climate scientists might exaggerate, but in today’s world, this is the only way to assure any political action and thus more federal financing to reduce the scientific uncertainty.
Applied Mathematics and Atmospheric Sciences
Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.

Not just identical word for word but identical punctuation!

Those of us who've had the misfortune to trip over comments by "Brad Keyes" in the past are well aware that his favourite pastime is playing games - or, more accurately, trolling and thread-bombing.

It looks as if he's enjoying playing games still.  But this time with Anthony Watts and his crew at WUWT.

How delicious!

PS It looks as if I wasn't the only one to stumble across Brad Keyes' plagiarism.  I've just noticed in the archive that David at WUWT did as well.


  1. Brad did the same dishonest thing, or actually worse, at Greg Laden's blog, with Schneider's statement. IN the process he also managed to make up something Trenberth supposedly said.

    The problem with him is that *his* interpretation must be right, and everyone must accept his interpretation.

    The thread is here:
    With the usual thread-bombing of Brad. He's done the same at David Appell's place here:

    1. I'm not surprised at Brad Keyes misrepresenting stuff. It's what he does. What puzzles me is how did he find that passage to copy and paste. I wonder if that's something he does all the time?

      Maybe he just copies bits and pieces from all over the net and puts them into OneNote or somewhere so he can regurgitate them later.

      Very weird.

    2. I may have discovered where he got it from. Andrew "proud to be ignorant" Bolt posted it on his blog back in 2009 and thanked Benny Peiser of the GWPF. So it was doing the rounds of liar deniers back in 2009 when they were twisting the words of Stephen Schneider. It petered out and Brad's trying to revive it.


      Brad's collection would be from denier blogs, not the NY Times.

      Deniers have been at each others throats a lot this week at WUWT.

      First the pattern journal got them all picking sides and having a go at each other. Then Perennially Puzzled Bob Tisdale got stuck into Denier Don Easterbrook and WUWT-ers were again busy taking sides. Now they are piling on Brad Keyes.


  2. Serial plagiarism? A conga-line of plagiarizing suckholes?

    I note Brad is blaming Wegman's grad student for the plagiarism, and implying critics are racist to make anything of it. Now I understand how they can continue using the Wegman report as a source - it wasn't Wegman's fault! It was the grad student! (Which hardly gets Wegman off the hook, since the grad student he blamed wasn't credited as an author!)

    They really have no standards ...

  3. Oh dear, you've mentioned him by name. You realize he's like Beetlejuice, don't you?

  4. Yes, Google Brad Keyes and the craters of his B-52 style thread carpet bombing pop up everywhere. I read one of them, and his tell becomes readily apparent. He obviously comes from the tradition of silver-tongues who would tour the countryside convincing everyone that the world was flat. I am reminded of the famous Keating insult, 'All tip and no iceberg.' Rather than discussing any science, he rates his success by how many ASCII encoded electrons he has angrily flicked into the ether, and there certainly has been a lot of them. He is a local fallacy tornado, twisting and turning, using a logical fallacy to support a previous logical fallacy. A bitter and fanatical nutter, wearing you down with an infinite loop of misrepresentation and misquoting. Like your average denier, but with the madness turned up to eleven and feedback through a 1000W amp, so in the end all you hear is a painful squeal.

    Of course an A-grade superstar in Willard's books.

    1. No, Anthony doesn't think much of him at all. That's one thing I found hilarious. All the other deniers got stuck right into Brad Keyes, too. They want nothing to do with him.

      It's infighting week at WUWT.

    2. I hadn't made that clear in the article. I've amended the article to clarify.

    3. Oh, I must have misinterpreted your term 'elevated'. (I don't actually go to WUWT and I rely on your account. I feel 'dirty' after going to his blog, which I suppose is why I like your blog. You do all the heavy lifting, the 'dirty-work' and we get to enjoy your dispatch.) With Brad's history, I would have thought he would have been a perfect candidate as a guest poster. Given the new angle on the situation, it seems WUWT do have limits. I mean look at what happened when the tobacco smoking conspiracy went too far. But yes, it is kinda funny watching their vexatious laser of sledging turned to one of their own. Karma eh?

  5. Keyes famously engaged in the same behaviour at Shaping Tomorrow's World after Lewandowsky after the conspiracy ideation paper. Given the amount of effort that "Brad" has put into trying to refute science I wonder who he really is, and who is behind him.

    There's some serious self-serving factoid-manoeuvring coming from the Keyes corner.

    1. I don't think Brad Keyes anything more than a bit of a nutter with too much time on his hands. He enjoys playing word games. He tries to play mind games but isn't very good at it. He's popped up at Curry's blog too. Hopefully he'll stick to playing his games with deniers from now on in.

    2. He's recently been going around accusing Naomi Oreskes of anti-Semitism because some of the people mentioned in Merchants of Doubt have Jewish-sounding names.


  6. My last conversation with Mr Keyes ended with:

    "Technically that would make Venema a f___wit, not an activist."

    Since then he is blocked on twitter. Such people are best ignored, just negative energy and no substance.

  7. Brad is a troll's troll. At climate science sites he's a frothing denier. At skeptical sites he's a ranting alarmist. Whatever will get him the most attention. And quote mining lets him sound sincere without actually knowing that much about the arguments.


Instead of commenting as "Anonymous", please comment using "Name/URL" and your name, initials or pseudonym or whatever. You can leave the "URL" box blank. This isn't mandatory. You can also sign in using your Google ID, Wordpress ID etc as indicated. NOTE: Some Wordpress users are having trouble signing in. If that's you, try signing in using Name/URL. Details here.

Click here to read the HotWhopper comment policy.