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« Anthony on PBS | Main | Virginia court rules against ATI »
Tuesday
Sep182012

Lewer and lewer

The Lewandowsky story rumbles on, demonstrating an abilitity to generate new storylines that I'm sure few of us thought it ever could have.

Over at Climate Audit, Steve McIntyre reports that he has been unable to replicate Lewandowsky's results and, in the comments, reports some major concerns over Lew's statistical acumen.

I think that the Lewandowsky data set may have a chance of entering the robust regression textbooks.

OLS methods (of which a correlation matrix is an example) are VERY poor methods for this sort of data set. Lewandowsky may set a sort of incompetence landmark in this respect that will take many years to surpass.

...his discussion of correlations is beyond bizarre. He has so little understanding that it’s hard to know where to begin.

Meanwhile, statistician Matt Briggs has similar feelings:

Everything that could have been done wrong, was done wrong. Every bias that could have been manifested, was manifested. Every fallacy pertinent to the matter at hand was made. The conclusions, regurgitated from unnecessarily complicated statistical procedures, did not follow from the evidence gathered, which itself was suspect. In its way, then, the paper is a jewel, a gift to the future, a fundamental text to how easy it is to fool oneself.

The story is, even now, rumbling on. Lewandowsky has posted further thoughts in a new blog article, while Hilary Ostrov notes one of Lew's most active supporters now claiming that the paper's title, linking climate sceptics to the moon landings, was actually a joke. Beyond bizarre, indeed.

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Reader Comments (36)

According to Matt Briggs, "Everything that could have been done wrong, was done wrong".

Hyperbole like this might be amusing, but since it clearly isn't true at a trivial level (e.g. was every single word misspelled?) it allows the Lewandowsky followers a way to just ignore it.

Shame really.

Sep 18, 2012 at 7:50 AM | Registered Commentersteve ta

The man needs to get hold of a professional hole digger and have a chat, failing that maybe RC the PR experts can give him some advice on digging holes.

You got to love the way the faithful (Glore be the IPCC) come out of the wood work to defend the indefesible, Briggs doesn't even get past the first sentance before trashing the paper.

Sep 18, 2012 at 7:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

Can't see what all the fuss is about really. Just drawing shonky inferences from a dodgy sample that violates all the necessary underlying statistical assumptions.

Par for the course for journalism.

I'm beginning to sound like Briggs.

Sep 18, 2012 at 8:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterHAS

linking climate sceptics to the moon landings, was actually a joke.

I think there's a key word or two missing here, Your Grace. In the interest of truth in posting (a concept that appears to be completely foreign to Lew), perhaps you would consider amending the above so that it reads:

"linking the beliefs of climate sceptics to belief in moon landings conspiracy theories ..."

Hilary

P.S. Thanks for the mention!

Sep 18, 2012 at 8:11 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Agree with steveta I'm kinda getting tired of the "authoritative" dismissive hyperbole such as the Briggs article - that is moving towards the domain of the Sks types - that is just my opinion though ;)

Briggs is a stats guy he should show not tell.

Sep 18, 2012 at 8:17 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

comments on CA:

Barry Woods: The paper is NOT in Septembers journal (online today)
http://pss.sagepub.com/content/23/9.toc

And Prof Lewandowsky sent it peer reviewed, (in press) to Dr Adam Corner (Guardian Environment blog) late July.
shapes of IPCC, publish, headlines, soundbites, data come later. (poosibly even revised paper, or not at all?)

Stan: The website of the Psychological Science journal http://pss.sagepub.com/ where this is or was presumably going to be published has a section called “Online First” where subscribers can download upcoming articles. It was last updated Sept 13 and Lewandowsky’s paper is not on that list, nor does it appear on the list of articles in the September issue.

I wonder if this paper was just intended as a prank, never submitted or even meant for publication?

Stan: @Wayne2
The paper is also available at uwa. In both places, the cover page says: “In press, Psychological Science”

I don’t understand how a paper that’s “in press” at a supposedly major journal is already widely available online in other places. And I don’t understand how, if it’s already “in press” at the journal, it doesn’t appear in the “forthcoming articles” list that Psychological Science makes available online to its readers ahead of printing, here: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/recent

I am beginning to suspect that this paper was either flatly rejected by the journal, or that it was never even submitted.

http://climateaudit.org/2012/09/16/trying-unsuccessfully-to-replicate-lewandowsky/

Sep 18, 2012 at 8:33 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

It has always struck me as a joke - I think Lew is probably laughing his head off.

He will soon publish a peer reviewed paper on the lack of humour among climate deniers - it will probably be extremely well documented.

Sep 18, 2012 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeorgeL

@pat

You say:

'I am beginning to suspect that this paper was either flatly rejected by the journal, or that it was never even submitted'

Hmm...surely even Lewandowsky would know that to claim a paper was 'in press' if either had occurred (or in the second case not occurred) was a very very high-risk strategy. It would only take one guy to blow the whistle and his academic credibility would be in tatters.

So I guess that - following the blogostorm of contempt, ridicule and general ordure that has come upon his head - the editor has decided to withdraw it - probably for ever in its current form. And maybe he's a mate of Lewandowsky or Lewandowsky has something on him or whatever

So it was done discreetly in the hope that nobody would notice. The public humiliation that was handed out to Gergis was clearly something they wanted to avoid.

My guess is that the paper will never appear

Sep 18, 2012 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

"I think Lew is probably laughing his head off"

So why the long and tortured defence? Psychologists usually take themselves far too seriously, IMO, and really hate it when taken to task on something like their maths (which they would regard as trivial).

Sep 18, 2012 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Pat, Barry, I don't know how things work in that field, but in some fields, a paper can be 'in press' for quite a few months before appearing on the publishers webpage. Someone should look at some papers in the Sept issue and see when they were 'accepted'. If that was ages ago, then this journal may be one of the slow ones. Then again, something may be happening to this paper - but best not to jump to conclusions.

Sep 18, 2012 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Harvey

Sep 18, 2012 at 9:03 AM | GeorgeL

It has always struck me as a joke - I think Lew is probably laughing his head off.

He will soon publish a peer reviewed paper on the lack of humour among climate deniers - it will probably be extremely well documented.

That is a good point. Of course psychology has always the luxury of being able to pull that meta trick because it is such a rigorous and trustworthy "science" ;)

I think they are trying the same trick at CERN too - you know - claiming they have found the Higgs Boson when they hadn't really - in the hopes it will trick one into spontaneously appearing !

Sep 18, 2012 at 9:56 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Latimer Alder, Jeremy Harvey -

didn't mean to confuse. i was only pasting the comments from CA, no comment from me.

however, given Adam Corner published his article in late July, and wrote "new research to be published in a forthcoming issue" i guess some people were properly expecting it would at least be "forthcoming" by the September issue. maybe it will and it simply isn't in the "online first" listings.

Sep 18, 2012 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Jeremy is right - the publication process can be very slow even though the journal has virtually no 'typesetting' to do these days.
The articles in the Sept volume were accepted in Jan/Feb.
The ones on the 'online first' list were also accepted around Feb.

Sep 18, 2012 at 10:24 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

BREAKING: SOURCE OF PROBLEMS WITH PROFESSOR LEWANDOWSKY'S COMPUTATIONS DISCOVERED.

The Internet Cafe he has to write and work from, doubles up as a restaurant.

Sep 18, 2012 at 10:46 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

`linking climate sceptics to the moon landings, was actually a joke.`

Post normal humour?

Sep 18, 2012 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered Commenterbanjo

Sep 18, 2012 at 9:17 AM | Jeremy Harvey

Jeremy, I agree that we should not "jump to conclusions". I just checked http://pss.sagepub.com/content/23/9.toc and most of the articles indicate that they were "first published" in July or August.

Yet Lewandowsky has claimed (variously) that he has "recently published ... [this] forthcoming" paper and that typesetting of this paper is not complete.

How could he have "published" a paper for which typesetting is not complete?! I suppose it's possible that in CogPsych-speak, "published" may have been ... uh ... "redefined".

Then again, Lewandowsky seems to have convinced himself that an E-mail from Hanich should be recognized by all and sundry as an E-mail from Lewandowsky.

So who am I (a mere pre-post-modernist Psych and English major) to question Lewandowsky and his infinitely superior communication skills, eh?!

Sep 18, 2012 at 11:07 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

I see at comment #11 that Lewandowski's moderator accuses Barry Woods of being 'non-credulous'.

That figures. Barry is non-credulous because Lewandowski is incredible.

Sep 18, 2012 at 11:18 AM | Registered CommenterDreadnought

If only their desire to destroy 90% of the economy (and thus 90% of people) was a joke.

Sep 18, 2012 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

Lewandowsky is working on the basis of all publicity is good publicity. He'll gladly put up with being 'ripped a new one' by the sceptics as the warmists will look on him as taking one for the team like their other hero Gleick.

Sep 18, 2012 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

He has had to get his mates in to comment

Doug Bostrum, is a SkS team member and contributer (I wonder who else is posting anonymously)

Sep 18, 2012 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Barry Woods - Doug Bostrom would have difficulty passing high school physics.

Sep 18, 2012 at 1:27 PM | Registered CommenterGrantB

So who am I (a mere pre-post-modernist Psych and English major) to question Lewandowsky and his infinitely superior communication skills, eh?!

Hilary, honey, you're one of my fav commenters in the climate blogosphere, do you know that?

Sep 18, 2012 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Hilary, is a pre-post-modernist just a humble modernist?

Sep 18, 2012 at 1:39 PM | Registered CommenterGrantB

Anyone notice the BBC getting on the same wagon ?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01mqmyw

"We might think our views about global warming, nanotechnology or the value of IQ tests are based on scientific evidence. But the beliefs we hold about these issues often say more about our ability to screen out the evidence we dislike than it does about the scientific facts."

Sep 18, 2012 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

"his discussion of correlations is beyond bizarre" (Steve Mc)

Tsk, tsk, Steve, you made a simple mistake there. You thought the results were supposed to correlate with sceptics' opinions. The correlation with Lewandowsky's opinions is virtually perfect.

Sep 18, 2012 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve C

Not only does Lewandowsky believe "denialists" deny moon landings and probably gravity, they also "believe that Prince Phillip runs the world’s drug trade" and should be treated with the same contempt as Thabo Mbeki and the beetroot treatment for AIDS which is responsible for at least 330,000 deaths.
http://permaculturenews.org/2010/03/12/climate-debate-opinion-vs-evidence/

The term "Denialist" is legitimate as it is used by " The world’s pre-eminent scientific journal, Nature".

Therefore "richly deserved contempt around the world...awaits denialists of climate change".
QED

Sep 18, 2012 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterBetapug

Not only does Lewandowsky believe "denialists" deny moon landings and probably gravity, they also "believe that Prince Phillip runs the world’s drug trade" and should be treated with the same contempt as Thabo Mbeki and the beetroot treatment for AIDS which is responsible for at least 330,000 deaths.
http://permaculturenews.org/2010/03/12/climate-debate-opinion-vs-evidence/

The term "Denialist" is legitimate as it is used by " The world’s pre-eminent scientific journal, Nature".

Therefore "richly deserved contempt around the world...awaits denialists of climate change".
QED

Sep 18, 2012 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBetapug

Sep 18, 2012 at 1:29 PM | sHx

Thanks ... *blush* :-)

Sep 18, 2012 at 4:47 PM | Betapug

Wow ... talk about wearing one's green-activist heart on one's sleeve! Lewandowsky does it in spades in http://permaculturenews.org/2010/03/12/climate-debate-opinion-vs-evidence/

His magnificent obsession clearly precludes any critical examination of the actual evidence in support of the tropes 'n factoids on which he depends.

Sep 18, 2012 at 6:56 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

I don't know who Doug Bostrum is - though I assumed he's associated with SkS - but his trying to claim the title of the paper is meant to be a joke is rather bizzare.

Unless one considers that these guys are ok with joke science.

Sep 18, 2012 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

So will they sack Lewandowsky for faking Data and bringing the Reputation and Scientific Integrity of the University of Western Australia into Disrepute.

It was just a personal jokey comment that aint no defence. Not when you claimed it was a proper scientific survey.

Sep 18, 2012 at 10:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Hilary, I was just trying to decode fairly typical academic speak. Academics tend to speak of a paper as being 'in press' or even almost 'published' once it has been accepted by the journal. But as I said, some journals take ages to go from that stage to actually releasing the paper on their webpage. Paul confirms this journal is one of those. The date the paper goes up on the journal's webpage is the one the journal will call the paper's publication date. And, still more confusingly, the papers in the 'September' issue may have been first made available on the webpage in August or even earlier, so have been published then - not September. So plenty of dates when the paper may have been said to be published. In brief: I don't think there's necessarily anything fishy with this paper not having appeared yet, despite Lew referring to it as 'published'. Though who knows what might happen next.

Sep 18, 2012 at 11:59 PM | Registered CommenterJeremy Harvey

I guess that the problem many of us unimaginative, poldding slaves to fact have is understanding how a paper that is still being written can have been 'in press' a couple of months ago.

Does this journal accept papers before they have been written?

Sep 19, 2012 at 12:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

More demolition of Lew on Climate Audit:

Lewandowsky’s Fake Correlation

Sep 19, 2012 at 3:42 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Sep 18, 2012 at 11:59 PM | Jeremy Harvey

Hilary, I was just trying to decode fairly typical academic speak. Academics tend to speak of a paper as being 'in press' or even almost 'published' once it has been accepted by the journal. [...]

I don't think there's necessarily anything fishy with this paper not having appeared yet, despite Lew referring to it as 'published'. Though who knows what might happen next.

Jeremy, I appreciate that, and I agree there is probably nothing fishy about the whole thing!

Some of my best friends are academics, so I do have a passing familiarity with the trials and tribulations en route to publication! Yes "in press" and "almost published" I can understand ... but "recently published ... forthcoming" and "typesetting incomplete" just doesn't make a lot of sense to me! So I thought it was worth highlighting another data-point** that does very little to enhance Lew's credibility as an effective communicator - or as a thoughtful, articulate psychologist:-)

**Along with the survey, his use of stats, his determination not to respond to reasonable questions, and his insistence that those who failed to divine that an E-mail two years ago sent by Hanich was from him owe him an "apology".

As for what might happen next ... as you said, who knows?!

But while I'm here ... readers may (or may not!) be interested in knowing that I have found an APS blogger who didn't get Lew's title "joke", either!

Sep 19, 2012 at 8:27 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Hilary, Nice find on that APS blogger Herbert Wray!

There is no way that the title of the Lew paper can reasonably be construed as some light joke without malevolent effect -- as Wray and many others recognized immediately, the title was meant to falsely associate CAGW 'skeptics' with those who believe in a NASA hoax over all the moon landings.

The statistical basis for the Lew paper is being thoroughly demolished at Climate Audit. Soon all that Lew has left is his dishonest title as a kind of nasty ad hom against us all ("nah nah you're all a bunch of moon landing deniers!") No we're not. yes you are...... stop lying.... no you stop lying.....

This is the quality of public and scientific "discourse" facilitated by scoundrels like Stephan Lewandowsky.

Sep 19, 2012 at 9:49 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Its been an interesting time at Lew's blog the last week or so ;-).

You all should know if you haven't - Steve McIntyre has a new post up you'll want to see.

Friday should be very interesting.

Sep 21, 2012 at 8:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterA. Scott

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