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Opengate - Josh 158

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It looks like John Cook and co at Skeptical Science are in a bit of a tizzy because their secret forum has been exposed to public view. Their complaint is that they have been hacked though John Cook admits that their security is almost non-existent.

What is interesting, in reading some of the excerpts from the forum posted here, is the similarities between the SkS secret forum and the Climategate emails - i.e. we know the facts don't support what we say but don't tell anyone!

That's ok, guys, your secrets are safe with us ;-)

Cartoons by Josh


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Reader Comments (163)

Jan (Mar 29, 2012 at 10:47 PM)
You don’t have tho feel guilty about reading this. The only part from the SkS files is the Cook quote. The stuff by Monbiot is in his article.
We only have Cook’s word for it that Monbiot’s article was effectively written by the rapid response team. Presumably he got the information from the CSRRT themselves, so it’s not quite a smoking gun.
Similarly with Cook’s article for The Age, it doesn’t really show unethical journalism. It shows Cook getting an article in via an acquaintance, and it shows the Age in a poor light for apparently publishing a counter-article for no other reason than that the original Carter article provoked a lot of protest. Pusillanimous, but not corrupt.
The Consensus project was highlighted by the original leaker, and it really is grotesque, but so was the original Oreskes article. The methodology was so bad, it should have provoked howls of protest for bringing social science into disrepute. But this is part of the overall CAGW story - scientific method is being distorted by “success”. Mathematical models as evidence; appeals to authority; consensus; peer-review as gatekeeping; arbitrary decisions as to who is allowed to participate in the debate: science is what you can get away with.

Mar 30, 2012 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Thanks Geoff. Not to worry. I'm not losing any sleep over any unwholesome interest in SkS internal postings. I just feel somewhat guilty that I find them rather naive and somewhat comical given that I know the 'communicators of science' are deadly serious.

Mar 31, 2012 at 1:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterJan

With apologies to LC for answering his question this late.

"Does the thread you refer to also include a copy of the complaint to the lecturer's dept head?"

I wanted to answer that more substantially but I am getting cold feet on this. This is more serious stuff. People's careers may be adversely affected by this, and even the SkS tree-hutters are aware of that as they draft the follow up letter in the thread. I leave this to Bishop Hill's judgement

In short answer to the LC, the original letter of complaint is not known to the SkSers either. The tree-hutters learn about its contents from the PhD student and CSIRO researcher who asks SkS for help. Mr PhD Hopeful hears about what the skeptic lecturer is alleged to have said in his lectures from his friend who was the boyfriend of the eco-warrior who made the initial complaint to the departmental head. All three (the eco-worrior, the PhD student and the skeptic lecturer are all affiliated with the same university. So although their paths may have crossed on the campus, it is not clear in the SkS thread whether the parties are personally known to each other.

The letter the tree-hutters concocted is there in all its stupidity however. One would have thought the answer they got from the first complaint would be good enough lesson to last them a life-time. They got no reply to the second. It does not appear the tree-hutters were homoured for the second time.

Apr 1, 2012 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

There's one I haven't reported yet, required a bit of effort to do right and folks seem to have lost interest.

Basically, John Cook in cahoots with a Uni of Western Australia professor Steven Lewandowsky conducted some kind of denial social experiment using students as guinea pigs.

John Cook:

I've been conducting a psychological experiment with UWA cognitive scientists testing for the effects of blog comments on readers' comprehension. The first stage of the experiment was live on SkS and we've analysed the data and found that for a warmist blog post, there was no difference in reader comprehension when the reader was exposed to all warmist comments or no comments. However, when the reader was exposed to all skeptic comments, their comprehension dropped.

So it's officially been quantified - reading the comments threads on denier blogs will make you stupid.

(2011-09-21-Need a handful of comments from SkSers for our blogging experiment.html)

They exposed the students to examples of internet posts in one of 4 categories:

Warmist post, warmist comments
Warmist post, skeptic comments
Skeptic post, warmist comments
Skeptic post, skeptic comments

... and ummm, analysed something-or-rather, which isn't too clear.

So how did they source these 'internet posts'? They manufactured them themselves!

So get this, the tree-hutters were asked to add comments on the topic of climate change -- pretending to be skeptics/deniers -- and these were then used in a formal university experiment.

John Cook:

As the second part of our experiment on science blogging, we'll be showing 4 conditions to lab participants at the Uni of W.A. The condition for this thread is Warmist Blog Post, Skeptic Comments. So would be great if a handful of SkSers could post scathing, very skeptic comments to our "How we know..." blog post - posted here in this forum thread. We need exactly 10 skeptic comments.

The 4 threads used to capture theses cases are:

2011-09-21-BLOG EXPERIMENT CONDITION 1_ warmist post, warmist comments.html
2011-09-21-BLOG EXPERIMENT CONDITION 2_ warmist post, skeptic comments.html
2011-09-21-BLOG EXPERIMENT CONDITION 3_ skeptic post, warmist comments.html
2011-09-21-BLOG EXPERIMENT CONDITION 4_ skeptic post, skeptic comments.html

(each contains a similar introduction as per JC's quote above)

Do skeptics have a tendency to suffer Tourettes? They do seem to be trigger happy on the explanation mark key.

So why wouldn't they just grab the real skeptic and warmist comments from his own blog? Oh would it be that he deletes all the skeptic comments? Or are they not crazy enough for his experiment? Or is he just too academically sloppy to provide real data? Take your pick.

And it gets worse.

After having exposed these experiment participants -- i.e. real people -- to manufactured data does he seek to make amends for any misunderstanding that might create?

Well he does have one concern...

John Cook:

Steve recommended we hand the participants who read the denier blog post a flyer as they leave, explaining what was wrong with the denier blog post (just to ensure we don't convert too many into deniers). So that's something I need to whip up shortly as the experiment will be run soon.

But on the topic of that manufactured data...

Glenn Tamblyn (someone gets it, bold is his):

Once your experiment is complete it might be good to actually do a post on it, showing all 4 versions and commenting prominantly that both warmist and skeptic comments were written by the same people

John Cook (hoodwinking people - What, Me Worry?) :

[title] Will definitely post about the experiment

Probably after it's been accepted or published though, best not to pre-empt the peer-review process.

Not sure if I'll post the actual article and comments - that will be something to ponder way down the track. Could have a bit of fun with it.

(2011-09-26-Blog Experiment.html)

No John, it's not about posting details of the experiment on your blog which no one reads. He's telling you it's unethical to expose people to manufactured data which may influence their opinion about major controversial topic and then not giving an ass about it.

Apr 2, 2012 at 7:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

David, that's quite a find. As good as your earlier revelation (March 30, 6:21AM) of the connections they had with the Wikipedia.

I checked Prof Lewandowsky's publication record, and it seems no paper has yet been produced on this 'experiment'. However, I found this paper entitled Popular Consensus: Climate Change Set to Continue:

Most domain experts agree that human CO2 emissions cause anthropogenic global warming (AGW), reflected in increased global temperatures during every decade since 1970. Notwithstanding, some public figures have claimed that warming stopped in 1998. In a large experiment (N = 200), participants extrapolated global climate data, presented graphically either as share prices or temperatures. Irrespective of attitudes towards AGW or presentation format, people judged the trend to be increasing, suggesting that presentation of climate data can counter claims that warming has stopped."

Facts be damned. Presentation and perception is the king in winning the CAGW debate, or so the tree-hutters have been told by their cohorts in the academia.

People do lose interest in this kind of revelations once the wow factor is over. If people already have enough info on the mendacious activities of the SkS, who needs more evidence, however damning, to confirm the initial finding. But the archive remains open to those who have ongoing interest in how climate consent is manufactured and propagated in the climate doomsday blogosphere.

Look at Wikileaks. Despite all the efforts to drag out the shock of revelations over a longer time frame by releasing the cables in smaller numbers, people gradually lost interest. When the entire cache was released, it was news for only a few days. Yet, the diplomatic cables still remain an important source of information for those interested in the US foreign policy.

Unlike the US State Department however, the SkS isn't going to be the same anymore. They have lost their perceived virginity for good.

Any academic or scientist associated with the SkS tree-hut would be best advised to pack up and leave, if they care about their career and credibility, now that the SkS has been shown to be about anything but science. Anyone who points at the SkS as a credible source will be confronted with these BH threads.

And remember, they are pleased that WUWT stayed out of this. So am I, because unlike Bishop Hill the WUWT community would have handled the revelations with far less care and with more anger than humour. The SkSers must be praising their gods that the expose was handled by BH. Although they know that Anthony is aware of it, they'll do their best not to attract WUWT's interest to the revelations.

As a fighting force, the SkS is grievously wounded and is effectively finished. It is unlikely it will ever return to the front lines in the Climate Wars. It may yet survive as a care facility for catastrophist war veterans.

Apr 2, 2012 at 4:53 PM | Registered CommentersHx

David (Apr 2, 2012 at 7:05 AM) : I think you've found the smoking gun. Unethical behaviour, fabricated data, ignorance of the scientific method...Cook comes out a bumbling cartoonist (sorry, Josh!) completely out of his depth.

It sorts of explain why Cook would become so convinced of AGW Belief.

And if Lewandowsky doesn't distance himself with that "research", somebody will be questioning the solidity of the rest of his (Lewandowsky's) scientific output as well.

Apr 2, 2012 at 5:09 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Celebrities! We have celebrities!

A deleted question found in 'comment.html':

Comment 52789
2011-06-01 00:50:35

Glenn at 61 Are you by chance related to Amber Tamblyn?

Reason: Off topic & too personal (Daniel Bailey, xxxxxxxxx@hotmail...)

Indeed, are they related?

Apr 2, 2012 at 6:14 PM | Registered CommentersHx

John Cook on the success of SkS astroturfing on Amazon to promote Mann's book "Cimate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines":

Definitely worth it. We were the 300 Spartans holding back the endless hordes of the Persians/WUWTians.

Minus the rippling abs :-)

And they lived to tell the tale. :)

Apr 2, 2012 at 7:19 PM | Registered CommentersHx

It seems Prof Lewandowsky is a serial doomsayer. I just found out he's written series of articles for ABC's The Drum, which describes him thus:

Stephan Lewandowsky is an Australian Professorial Fellow and Winthrop Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Western Australia. He is a cognitive scientist who has published more than 100 papers, chapters, and scholarly books on how people remember and think, with a particular emphasis on the role of skepticism in the updating of memories.

His latest book on “computational modeling in cognition” draws together strands from philosophy of science, mathematics, and computer science to illustrate how cognitive scientists can best learn to understand how a complex system such as the mind operates.

He is also an award-winning teacher of statistics.

You can find Stephan on Twitter @STWorg, and on the web he and his colleagues can be found at

There was also this on The Drum about his specialty: "His research addresses the distinction between scepticism, cynicism, and denial."

Maybe someone ought to tweet the good Prof and let him know that the fraudulent experiment he carried out with the help of the SkS is now exposed and that he'd better withdraw the paper before the matter gets worse.

Apr 2, 2012 at 9:13 PM | Registered CommentersHx

Good to see people are still following, the last one was a biggie.

I should make a small addition.

As I see it there are two outstanding issues -- after the obvious that it's crap science -- with the manufactured data:

- The experiment participants are misled.
- The reluctance to explicitly report the source of the data in any future write up, the truth of which undermines any derived conclusions.

Glenn Tamblyn's concern relates to the second only, and still doesn't go far enough and require it known that they weren't just produced by the "same people", but the same people who are all ardent supporters of the warmist cause.

And yes sHx, I too couldn't find any evidence of the data being used. It's possible Lewandowsky, being somewhat of a real scientist, quietly binned it after realising how amateur SkS's approach was.

Apr 3, 2012 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

See what happens to the deniers in Warm Front.

Jan 25, 2013 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark A. York

Unfair to children!


Mar 8, 2013 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith Sketchley

Unfair to children!


Mar 8, 2013 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith Sketchley

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