Curses!February 5, 2010
I’ve been a little slow to comment on the so-called Himalaya 2035 curse in the IPCC AR4, WG II; and that’s partly because I haven’t been particularly keen to spend my time figuring out what happened. As far as I’ve been concerned, it was sloppy science, done by appealing to the grey literature.
Looks like there’s a little more to it than that, as this nice overview from the Yale Forum points out. Seems as though it was a case of plagiarism; and if not plagiarism, then near plagiarism.
And that’s sorta what makes this interesting. Here’s a case where cribbing a sentence and adding one or two modifiers to that sentence isn’t really a major incident of plagiarism, but at the same time, this is arguably one of the biggest incidents of plagiarism and its repercussions that one can imagine.
Think of all of the attention now directed at these few sentences. It’s astonishing. This could well have been avoided not only by citing good studies, but also by compiling and interpreting the scientific reports rather than lifting them straight out of their source.