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« Nurse raises eyebrows | Main | Lewandowsky teeters on the brink »
Monday
Sep032012

The plot thickens

The pressure is ramping up on Stephan Lewandowsky at quite a rate of knots. The illusion that his paper was a bona fide contribution to the academic literature has faded away with the news that his headline - linking denial of the US moon landing and AGW scepticism - was not even supported by his data. The first allegations of academic fraud have been made.

To make things worse for Lewandowsky, Simon at Australian Climate Madness has submitted an FOI request for his correspondence related to the paper. Lewandowsky has admitted that no sceptic blogs carried his survey, but I think it's fair to say that nobody actually believes his convenient claim that his approaches to sceptics were spurned. If nothing is turned up by the FOI request it seems likely that the allegations will be widened to include a clear and deliberate intention to commit academic fraud.

Lewandowsky has published a rebuttal (of sorts), notable more for what it doesn't discuss than what it does. I think it's fair to say that this is not the last we are going to hear of the Lewandowsky affair.

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Reader Comments (60)

there \re of course three authors of this paper, they presumably are all equally responsible?

Stephan Lewandowsky
University of Western Australia

Klaus Oberauer
University of Zurich and University of Western Australia

Gilles Gignac
University of Western Australia

(in press, Psychological Science)
http://websites.psychology.uwa.edu.au/labs/cogscience/documents/LskyetalPsychScienceinPressClimateConspiracy.pdf

and as Dr Adam Corner Tweeted (whan the CarbonBrief tweeted, it was draft)
that it had passed peer review (Adam digging a hole for the peer reviewers as well)

perhaps some questions should be raised by the journal and the quality of the review?

Sep 3, 2012 at 8:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Less ambiguous in its shabbiness, and thus more readily exposed as such, but, for all that, a study with no less explanatory and predictive power than the now infamous Hockey Stick.

Sep 3, 2012 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterchippy

I originally searched for Lewandowsky and had had no returns. In a comment at Lucia's, I gave permission for Lewandowsky to identify me if they had sent me an email that I hadn't located.

In Lewandowsky's post today, he reported that the inquiry was not sent out by him personally but by his research assistant. I searched again this time under the term "uwa.edu.au" and located an email from Charles Hanich on Sep 6, 2010 asking that the survey be posted by Climate Audit and a second request two weeks later.

Like many people, I get lots of emails. I didnt know Hanich and I didn't pay any attention to the request at the time. I didnt reply.

Lewandowsky stated that the blogs in question "likely replied to my requests under the presumption of privacy and I am therefore not releasing their names." Given that I made no reply, I don't understand why their original inquiry would raise confidentiality issues.

The study itself looks pretty goofy and to be compromised by fake (Gleickian) answers from readers of Tamino, Deltoid etc , but that is another story.

Sep 3, 2012 at 10:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

Steve - would it be a breach of privacy to disclose the text of the request? Did it say anything about "we're posting this survey to get a better idea of skeptics frame of reference (or whatever) to contribute to a paper, or just "would you post this survey on your blog?"

The entire framework of this study continues to puzzle me - If we go with the assumption that they asked 5 "skeptic" blogs and 8 "pro-science" blogs, and agree with the paper's assertion that blog audiences are self-selected, he asked >60% non target audience, and <40% target audience blogs to participate, and ended up with 100% non, 0% target. If I had reviewed this paper that would have been the first question. Kind of like trying to glean insight into the thinking of Democrats by posting survey at freeRepublic and FoxNews, or Republicans at DailyKos and the Huffington Post. The methodology just seems really, really odd to me.

Sep 3, 2012 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryMN

The methodology just seems really, really odd to me.
Sep 3, 2012 at 10:41 PM TerryMN

I don't think Stephan or his collaborators cared about the methodology - or ever expected to have to justify it.

I think they dreamed up their dramatic headline conclusion of "climate sceptics are nutters" and worked back from there.

Once they got headline exposure in a couple of major newspapers, their mission was accomplished.

"If it wasn't for those damn kids they might have got away with it..............

Sep 3, 2012 at 11:06 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Re Steve's post.

I believe that the paper and associated press articles said the sceptic blogs had "declined" to post the link.

I don't think failing to respond to a stranger's email is "declining" anything.

It would be fascinating to compare the approaches made to sceptical and activist blogs - to see if the two options were pursued with equal enthusiasm & diligence.

Sep 3, 2012 at 11:15 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

For information, Charles Hanich has worked on surveys with Prof. Lewandowsky in the past, and was also the contact point for a survey I completed in June. Upon first sight of the Guardian article, I erroneously thought that this might me the very questionnaire of the article currently under discussion. However, it turns out I picked up on the test trial of another survey. The new one has less conspiracy theories, more on political/religious views, and on other science (vaccines / GM foods).

Sep 3, 2012 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

So if all the sceptical blogs that were asked just missed the relevant emails due to high traffic, does that say something about the warmist sites that did host the survey? Everyone sing ‘Cause I'm all alone. There's no one here beside me. My problems have all gone, there's no one to deride me.’

Will some enterprising Nigerian place their emails addys on a list of those susceptible to dodgy, unsolicited mail?

Sep 3, 2012 at 11:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Lewandowsky is known for strong anti-sceptic views:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10742945

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/nov/23/attacks-climate-scientists-real-climategate

http://theconversation.edu.au/climate-change-denial-and-the-abuse-of-peer-review-1552

etc....


Is he suitable to conduct a survey on sceptic views? I think not.

Sep 3, 2012 at 11:36 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

"I recently published a paper on the motivated rejection of science that is forthcoming in Psychological Science."

It's all about me. Mind you, the way things are going, his co-authors might be grateful if he takes all the credit.

Sep 4, 2012 at 12:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

Aside from the controversy, it reads as if written by students with a poor grasp of English.

Sep 4, 2012 at 12:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris S

author, gilles gignac is connected to genos emotional intelligence company. i can't get my head around any of the titles of his papers, tho:

Genos International
http://www.genosinternational.com/emotional-intelligence/research-papers

UWA: Gilles Gignac Publications
https://www.socrates.uwa.edu.au/Staff/StaffProfile.aspx?Person=GillesGignac&tab=publications

Sep 4, 2012 at 12:17 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Sep 4, 2012 at 12:10 AM | Chris S: "Aside from the controversy, it reads as if written by students with a poor grasp of English."
---------------------------------

Sorry to have to agree with you Chris but THAT is the state of Australian education today.

Sep 4, 2012 at 12:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

The request to Steve McIntyre was made on Sep 6th, a full week after the survey had already been publicised ar Tamino’s and Deltoid, where commenters had discussed how to game it, whether sceptics would fall for it, etc.

Sep 4, 2012 at 1:07 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Here is the text of the email from Charles Hanich:

Dear Mr McIntyre,

I am a research officer at the University of Western Australia, and I am seeking your assistance with a web-based survey of attitudes towards climate science (and other sciences) and skepticism. The survey has been approved by the University’s ethics committee and carries no risks for participants. Completion should take less than 10 minutes and all data will be analyzed anonymously and without monitoring or identifying individual responses. We collect no personal identifying information,
save for age and gender.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could perhaps post the link below, which goes directly to the survey, on the Climate Audit blog,
so that your readers could participate if they chose to do so. We do not ask you to endorse the survey in any way, simply to make it available to your readers.

Link: http://www.kwiksurveys.com/online-survey.php?surveyID=HKMKNI_9a13984

Thank you very much for your assistance and do not hesitate to contact me for further information.

Kind regards,

Charles Hanich.

Sep 4, 2012 at 1:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

Lewandowsky is on thin ice, considering previous examples of scientific malfeasance by psychologists as documented by Discover blogger, Ed Yong.

Yong has some fascination by how easy psychologists find statistically significant results in their researches, and he keeps tabs on those who have been dismissed or resigned from their jobs due to academic fraud or malfeasance. In June, he said (quoting one of his own Nature articles on the subject):

“[Joseph Simmons] recently published a tongue-in-cheek paper in Psychological Science ‘showing’ that listening to the song When I’m Sixty-four by the Beatles can actually reduce a listener’s age by 1.5 years7. Simmons designed the experiments to show how “unacceptably easy” it can be to find statistically significant results to support a hypothesis. Many psychologists make on-the-fly decisions about key aspects of their studies, including how many volunteers to recruit, which variables to measure and how to analyse the results. These choices could be innocently made, but they give researchers the freedom to torture experiments and data until they produce positive results. [Note: one of the co-authors behind this study, Uri Simonsohn, has now been revealed as the whistleblower in the Smeesters case- Ed, 28/07/12, 1400 GMT]

In a survey of more than 2,000 psychologists, Leslie John, a consumer psychologist from Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts, showed that more than 50% had waited to decide whether to collect more data until they had checked the significance of their results, thereby allowing them to hold out until positive results materialize. More than 40% had selectively reported studies that “worked”8. On average, most respondents felt that these practices were defensible. “Many people continue to use these approaches because that is how they were taught,” says Brent Roberts, a psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.”

The quote above is from a Yong blog post about a Dutch Psychologist, Dirk Smeesters, who was found guilty of misconduct and sacked from his job. Yong again:

The notable thing about this particular instance of misconduct is that it wasn’t uncovered by internal whistleblowers, as were psychology’s three big fraud cases – Diederik Stapel (exposed in 2011), Marc Hauser (2010) and Karen Ruggiero (2001). Instead, Smeesters was found out because someone external did some data-sleuthing and deemed one of his papers “too good to be true”. [Emphasis original. -sHx]

Now, why am I mentioning this apart from obvious reasons?

That's because it is my suspicion -nay, my hypothesis!- that neither Ed Yong nor Adam Corner will pursue Lewandowsky's case, simply because doing so will harm 'the cause'.

My mind is mostly made up about Adam Corner: I don't trust him, notwithstanding the grovelling enthusiasm some of the leading members of the BH community shows for him and his heavily moderated blog. If Adam Corner wants to earn some trust, then he ought to show the courtesy of visiting our little village for once and tell us why he thinks we are wrong and Lewandowsky is right here, instead of shouting it from afar as he has always done. In all honesty, I don't even scan any comment in these threads that begin with, "I posted this comment on Adam Corner's blog. I am not sure if it'll make through the moderation so I am posting it here anyway".

As for Yong however, I am not sure whether his vision is unblinkered because he seems to think uncovering cases of scientific misconduct/fraud/malfeasance/whateverthename by means other than an internal whistleblower is something of a revelation. He talks about data-sleuthing and statistical techniques to look for fraudulent papers, like a kid who has seen the Sun for the first time.

Sticking to bad psychologists in his quest to stamp out bad science enables Yong to maintain his ideological purity with regard to the looming climate catastrophe, for if his alarmist membership were on scientific grounds he would have shown the same critical attitude towards the shonky instances in Climate Science as well. If he has ever done so, I'm not aware of it. There hardly is any difference between Bishop Hill writing about how SteveMc busted Michael Mann's Hockey Stick by data-sleuthing and use of correct statistics and Ed Yong talking about someone who busted a Dutch psychologist by doing similar work. Yet, one will be condemned as a denier in the pay of the Big Oil, while the other will be lauded for doing proper journalism.

I've been meaning to ask Ed Yong for sometime about his double standards but he could wriggle his way out of a question like that by saying he is more interested in and more informed about Psychology than Climate Science. This time however, with the Lewandowsky appearing to be a devious psychologist authoring a dubious study with unbelievable results, Yong won't be able to ignore my question.

In any case, I don't have to worry whether my question will make it past the moderation because unlike Adam Corner, Yong does not have a professional and personal attachment to Lewandowsky. We shall see.

Sep 4, 2012 at 2:08 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

From one of Pharos' links:

Stephan Lewandowsky receives funding from the Australian Research Council and the Swiss National Science Foundation. As is standard around the world, the funding agencies expect the grant holder to produce high-quality peer-reviewed research but do not dictate or expect any particular outcome.

Looks like they got the exact opposite.

Sep 4, 2012 at 2:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Sep 4, 2012 at 12:10 AM | Chris S: "Aside from the controversy, it reads as if written by students with a poor grasp of English."
---------------------------------

Sorry to have to agree with you Chris but THAT is the state of Australian education today.
Sep 4, 2012 at 12:33 AM | Streetcred

I dunno. As far as I can see, his English looks impeccable. ;-)

Sep 4, 2012 at 2:47 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Personally I'm thrilled to see that Stephan Lewandowsky sports one of those little "climate expert beards".

Sep 4, 2012 at 3:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Blofeld

Rick: "Looks like they got the exact opposite."

I'm sure they got exactly what they wanted ... until it went boom.

Sep 4, 2012 at 7:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

There is a depressing report in the NYT about ever increasing malfeasance in science:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/17/science/rise-in-scientific-journal-retractions-prompts-calls-for-reform.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1334958458-PxivQM3BpvGZR636Xup/Qw&pagewanted=all

There is also the blog “RetractionWatch” wherein the problem seems to be rife mainly in biomedicine. A search for psychology reveals a good number of retractions and resignations etc although there are some astonishing stand-out performers. Lewandowsky search does not find.
http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/?s=psychology

Sep 4, 2012 at 7:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterBob Fernley-Jones

Steve McIntyre -
I realize this is hypothetical, but if the Hanich email had come to your attention, and you went to the survey to check it out, what do you think your reaction would have been? You can see (most of) the questions posed in Table 2 of the Lewandowsky et al. paper.

Sep 4, 2012 at 7:51 AM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

quoted by sHx above:

In a survey of more than 2,000 psychologists, Leslie John, a consumer psychologist from Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts, showed that more than 50% [of psychologists] had waited to decide whether to collect more data until they had checked the significance of their results.
This would explain why, a week after the survey was posted at 6 or 8 warmist blogs, Lewnadowsky’s assistant got round to asking the help of Steve McIntyre. Two weeks later he’d got his results (though without the help of any sceptical blog) and was posting them at a slide presentation.

Sep 4, 2012 at 7:52 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The really silly thing is the "conspiracy" strawman. Noone is suggesting the state is secretly furthering its own interests in sponsoring alarmism. To any but the wilfully blind, it's no surprise at all - any more than tobacco companies sponsoring science that declared smoking to be healthy.

Sep 4, 2012 at 8:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterTomcat

The journal that is alleged to have the paper in print is under the auspices of the APS (Association of psychological “Science”)

They have an email webform here and I made a complaint three days ago:
http://www.psychologicalscience.org/contact/index-new.cfm

OK, there is no reason to expect a reply but at least they should have pause if informed of all the debunking that is going on.

Sep 4, 2012 at 8:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterBob Fernley-Jones

sHx

My mind is mostly made up about Adam Corner: I don't trust him, notwithstanding the grovelling enthusiasm some of the leading members of the BH community shows for him and his heavily moderated blog.
Ouch!

Most people don’t trust lawyers or politicians either. They see a lawyer chatting happily to his criminal client, then with the prosecuting counsel, then grovelling before the judge. They see politicians who fought like cats in a sack in the Commons socialising in the Lords. It looks like rank hypocrisy.
Thing is, courts and parliament, unlike blogs, are places where things get done. Other sets of social rules apply. As long as we stick to the “like him, don’t like him” set of rules that we apply when we choose our pub or tv channel, we’ll continue to be two sets of bloggers facing off in mutual hostility, ignored by the rest of the world. Except that they’ve got the government, the media, the universities, and the Royal Society, and we’ve got Delingpole.

One enormous psychological advantage we have is that we can stay human, criticise each other (ask Foxgoose). Look what happened at
http://www.skepticalscience.com/AGU-Fall-Meeting-sessions-social-media-misinformation-uncertainty.html#comments
where I “stirred the ants’ nest” (to use the expression John Cook used to describe Lewandowsky’s acitivities) by turning up with a simple question at a dormant thread. One of the SkS authors decently distanced himself from Lewandowsky, and the rest are running round like headless chickens.

Look at Corner’s article on his semi-official blog,
http://talkingclimate.org/are-climate-sceptics-more-likely-to-be-conspiracy-theorists/
where I persuaded him to accept comments. Half a dozen of the BH boys turned up with their hair combed and their shoes polished and behaved impeccably. No reply from Adam’s side. Treat them nice and they don’t know what to do.

Sep 4, 2012 at 8:24 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I don't think Yong has anything to gain by entering the climate change waters. It's a battleground and we're just too used to it to appreciate how bad the war waged by the alarmists actually is.

Just ask James Randi.

Sep 4, 2012 at 8:40 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Steve McIntyre says he

located an email from Charles Hanich on Sep 6, 2010 asking that the survey be posted by Climate Audit and a second request two weeks later.
That brings us to September 20th
23rd of September Lewandowsky gave a presentation at Monash university which included the following slide:
Lewandowsky & Gignac (forthcoming)
•Internet survey (N=1100)
•Endorsement of climate conspiracy (“hoax by scientists to get grants”) linked to endorsement of other conspiracies (“NASA faked moon landing”)
•Conspiracy factor without climate item predicts rejection of climate science
So three days after (unsuccessfully) asking for cooperation in fieldwork, Lewandowsky is publicy announcing the results.

Analysis is clearly superfluous.

Sep 4, 2012 at 9:38 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Treat them nice and they don’t know what to do.
Sep 4, 2012 at 8:24 AM geoffchambers

Where your argument fails, Geoff, is - they don't need to do anything.

As you put it yourself - "they’ve got the government, the media, the universities, and the Royal Society".

"They" are now the establishment and, like all past establishments, they are sitting pretty with their politicians perks, academic grants and quango salaries - most of them with future inflation proofed pensions sufficient to insulate them from any of the "green" sacrifices they're so keen to inflict on the rest of us.

They will play the "let's put our differences aside and have a civilised discussion" game with you forever. That's what they're paid for; to wear down opposition with endless & pointless debate as long as it's kept out of the sight of the lumpen proletariat.

Since we're not "blood in the streets" people, like some of our southern neighbours - the way forward is to make enough noise to put the primal fear of the electoral rabble into the politicians.

As I've said to you before - we'll know we're winning the day we see a really rude headline in the Sun. "Stick Your Windmill's Up Your Ar*se Cam" maybe - or, more topically, "Bend over Lord Stern - It's Your Turn".

You did a brilliant job in "turning" Curtis on Lewandowsky's paper, but it won't change anything at SkS and peer pressure there will pull him back into line. The real victory was to be able to use his statement to completely destroy Lewandowsky's credibility - hopefully permanently.

I can't remember whether I've bored you with this story before - but I've had some personal experience of direct conflict with politicians. I once had a small hi-tech business threatened with extinction by a legislative issue. After months of endless & pointless meetings with civil servants up to PUS level (even once on a Saturday due to my persistence!) - I ran out of time & patience and spent a morning on the phone to tabloid hacks. A piece on the front page of the Daily Express, followed by a couple of TV news items, and within 48 hrs I was sitting in the then Trade Minister's office, with my MP by my side, asking what they needed to do to "resolve the situation".

Unlike civil servants, academics, advisers, quangocrats and hangers-on, politicians are uniquely aware that their place on the gravy train is a voter-activated ejector seat. Politicians are hyper-sensitive to public mood and will cheerfully turn on a sixpence and knife their erstwhile supporters in the back if they sense a change coming on.

That's why I think our best weapons are loud & continuous public rhetoric and ridicule - not earnest attempts to get them to "see our point of view".

I know you don't agree ;-)

Sep 4, 2012 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Foxgoose:

I've had some personal experience of direct conflict with politicians. I once had a small hi-tech business threatened with extinction by a legislative issue. After months of endless & pointless meetings with civil servants up to PUS level (even once on a Saturday due to my persistence!) - I ran out of time & patience and spent a morning on the phone to tabloid hacks. A piece on the front page of the Daily Express, followed by a couple of TV news items, and within 48 hrs I was sitting in the then Trade Minister's office, with my MP by my side, asking what they needed to do to "resolve the situation".
...
That's why I think our best weapons are loud & continuous public rhetoric and ridicule - not earnest attempts to get them to "see our point of view".

I think we need both. What we must avoid is coming across as angry, unstable nutters. Once people grasp we're not that, ridicule is an essential part of the armoury. But good ridicule isn't anything like as easy as it sounds. Gordon Brown going from Stalin to Mr Bean worked a treat but many other insults tossed out in the Commons just make the speaker themselves sound like a petulant child.

What has come to irritate me over time are insults on BH when all we have here (pretty much) is an echo chamber. It's not exactly bravery from people whose petulance very often doesn't even cost them anything in reputation stakes. What Geoff and others achieved on Adam Corner's blog was I think magnificent. It's extremely striking that nobody could find any kind of response. As Geoff says earlier to sHx, we need to realise how things really get done and wise up. We now have some very good examples to follow.

And we have Delingpole. What fun it was to see his views on Paul Nurse quoted by the New York Times:

James Delingpole, the waggishly influential conservative blogger for The Telegraph, lampoons Dr. Nurse as “easily my favorite Nobel Prize winner after Yasir Arafat, Al Gore and Barack Obama.”

That works because it's truly witty. As others have said, many will read the whole article and this is the message they will take away. The fact the Times included it represents considerable progress in the painfully slow culture wars over climate.

Sep 4, 2012 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Sep 4, 2012 at 1:25 AM | Steve McIntyre

The request from Hanich to Steve is written in a neutral way as you would expect and indeed on a couple of the sites - where you can still see the original request e.g. Tamino - the survey request is placed in similar neutral terms.

However there are examples of contamination on these sites:

A Few Things Ill Considered

Your answers are desired as the reader of a “pro-science” blog, they are confidential and will be used for a research project.


Deltoid

Stephan Lewandowsky is conducting a survey on attitudes towards climate science and related issues and is interested in responses from readers of pro-science blogs.

Hot-Topic (NZ)

The Cognitive Science Lab at the University of Western Australia has put together an internet survey to test people’s attitudes to science. Prof Stephan Lewandowsky describes it thus: “the rationale behind the survey is to draw linkages between attitudes to climate science and other scientific propositions (eg HIV/AIDS) and to look at what skepticism might mean (in terms of endorsing a variety of propositions made in the media)”.

These sites knew the source and purpose of the survey and that it originated from Lewandowsky and was flattering the reader by telling them they are "pro-science".

To my naive eyes, not being a pseudo-scientist chugger, the whole study is contaminated up the ying-yang with targetting, priming and overt omissions.

Sep 4, 2012 at 10:32 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Yep, gamed from the word go. But that's climate for you.

Sep 4, 2012 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

The Australian skeptics organisation as a policy that we should be skeptical about everything except climate change
-http://www.skeptics.com.au/latest/announcements/australian-skeptics-position-on-climate-change-sceptics/

I wonder if it was written by Stephan, since he has an opinion piece also prominently posted on the skeptics website,
-http://www.skeptics.com.au/latest/blog/climate-debate-opinion-vs-evidence/

Sep 4, 2012 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Lowe

Leopard
Thanks for that.It’s these tiny details which help fill in the whole picture.
I used to work in market research, and I can’t imagine what a client would think if you worded a questionnaire that way:
“I work for Whiskas, and we want to ask you dog owners what food you think cats prefer...”

Sep 4, 2012 at 11:28 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Prof Stephan Lewandowsky responds a second time..

http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/ccc2.html#comments

I have added this comment:


Barry Woods at 20:54 PM on 4 September, 2012
Professor it is stated in the press that you recieved replies rejecting your request from 5 sceptic blogs.

Steve Mcintyre has said that he now found an email from your research assistant, after initially looking for one from yourself. but he states that he did not reply, just ignored it in a mountain of email he recieves (ie from someone unknown to him)

Perhaps you could clarify, what has been reported as recieving rejections. ie no reply - is not the same as a rejection email.

And again, why not say which bloggers you sent an email to, to stop everybody wasting their time searching old emails.
It is of course possible that some rejected (ie sent a no thanks) to a unknown research assistant, but don't recall that, vs they would probably recall such an email from yourself.

Additionally, much of the fuss is perhaps generated from the media, particulalry the Telegraph headline, which made a sweeping very negative generalisation, almost as silly as all muslims are terrorists. Perhaps you can understand the response because of this headline, which was tweeted and retweeted apprivingly around the world's activists/media and some high profile scientists.

Telegraph: Climate change deniers 'are either extreme free marketeers or conspiracy theorists’

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/9503044/Climate-change-deniers-are-either-extreme-free-marketeers-or-conspiracy-theorists.html

as an example, I'm sure you would not categorise (Nor would most climate scientists) Steve Mcintyre for exmple like this. So perhaps a lot of criticism has come your way, because of a lazy media or activist journalists, and perhaps because of a slightly hyped up press release, which gave the impression that every sceptic is like this..

from your own data, it would seen there are a similar number of conspiracy theorists amongst the more extreme climate concerned readers of those pro-science blogs.

In fact a read of the comments at the Guardian, when Dr Adam Corner wrote, pre-press release about the same paper, you will see a large number of left politically leaning climate consensus readers, speculating about 9/11, as a conspiracy (CIA plot or whatever, to give Bush an excuse), thus at extremes we find conpiracy theorists, not a surprise to anyone..

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/jul/27/climate-sceptics-conspiracy-theorists

this also recieved a lot of criticism, additionally at Dr Adam Corner's own blog where it was reproduced
http://talkingclimate.org/are-climate-sceptics-more-likely-to-be-conspiracy-theorists/


BUT on the basis of 10 responses to moon landing hoax conspiracies, of a survey of a 1000, of readers of non-sceptic blogs, we have that title of the paper, and a headline that has been tweeted around the world (ie by Michale Mann, George Monbiot, other journalists like Alice Gray- Telegraph) or Sunny Hundal of the politically influential, and ironically titled 'Liberal Conspiracy' blog.

in effect, this paper was seen to equate all sceptics as conspiracy theorists. As I'm sure you would agree is not the case, in the same way as not all of the climate concerned (consensus) are any of the daft things a FEW people say about them.

perhaps you could clarify whether the paper justifies the sweeping generalisation ofthe Telegraph headline, or not.

Sep 4, 2012 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Another tiny detail Geoff:
Lewandowsky had written his conclusions in May 2010, months before starting the 'research'. Policy-based evidence building again.
Ironically the title is "Evidence is overrated when you're a conspiracy theorist".

Chris (below) - it's also interesting that Hanich, who seems to have done most of the hard work, is not an author and does not even get an acknowledgement in the paper.

Sep 4, 2012 at 12:54 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Hanich's email to Steve McIntyre was very bland, and I would suggest more than a little sneaky in not identifying the principal researchers to a well-known 'skeptic'. By contrast it seems likely that the majority of alarmist survey-hosting bloggers were in the know about the survey's intended outcome.

Sep 4, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

A reader inquired about how I would have answered the questions. The only question that sort of caught my interest were the pairing of a very weak belief in the relationship of increased CO2 to temperature (one that Lindzen or any lukewarmer would agree with) with the question (said to be "Climate Science") that burning of fossil fuels over the past 50 years has already caused serious negative damage to the climate. On that point, I think that not only can reasonable people disagree, but that one is obliged to disagree as to whether serious negative damage has been caused. (To the extent that this has not happened, I think that it is through good luck rather than good management.) my answers for what they're worth. 1- StrDis; 4 - StrAgr.

An economic system based on free markets unrestrained by government interference automatically works best to meet human needs. 2
I support the free market system but not at the expense of the environmental quality. (R) 2
The free market system may be ecient for resource allocation but it is limited in its capacity to promote social justice. (R) 3
The preservation of the free market system is more important than localized environmental concerns. 3
Free and unregulated markets pose important threats to sustainable development. (R) 2
The free market system is likely to promote unsustainable consumption. (R) 1
I believe that burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric temperature to some measurable degree. 3
I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years has increased atmospheric temperature to an appreciable degree. 3
I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years will cause serious negative changes to the planet's climate unless there is a substantial switch to non CO2 emitting energy sources. 2
I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years has caused serious negative changes to the planet's climate. 1
The problem of CFCs is no longer a serious threat to the ozone layer. 3
The problem of acid rain is no longer a serious threat to the global ecosystem. 4
A powerful and secretive group known as the New World Order are planning to eventually rule the world through an autonomous world government which would replace sovereign governments. 1
SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) was produced under laboratory conditions as a biological weapon. 1
The U.S. government had foreknowledge about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor but allowed the attack to take place so as to be able to enter the Second World War. 1
The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. was the result of an organized conspiracy by U.S. government agencies such as the CIA and FBI. 1
The Apollo moon landings never happened and were staged in a Hollywood lm studio. 1
The assassination of John F. Kennedy was not committed by the lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald but was rather a detailed organized conspiracy to kill the President. 2
The U.S. government allowed the 9-11 attacks to take place so that it would have an excuse to achieve foreign (e.g., wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) and domestic (e.g., attacks on civil liberties) goals that had been determined prior to the attacks. 1
Princess Diana's death was not an accident but rather an organised assassination by members of the British royal family who disliked her. 1
The Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols did not act alone but rather received assistance from neo-Nazi groups. 2
The Coca Cola company intentionally changed to an inferior formula with the intent of driving up demand for their classic product later reintroducing it for their f nancial gain. 1
In July 1947 the U.S. military recovered the wreckage of an alien craft from Roswell, New Mexico, and covered up the fact. 1
Area 51 in Nevada is a secretive military base that contains hidden alien spacecraft and or alien bodies. 1
The claim that the climate is changing due to emissions from fossil fuels is a hoax perpetrated by corrupt scientists who wish to spend more taxpayer money on climate research. 1
U.S. agencies intentionally created the AIDS epidemic and administered it to Black and gay men in the 1970s 1
The HIV virus causes AIDS. 4
Smoking causes lung cancer. 4
Out of 100 medical scientists how many do you think believe that the HIV virus causes AIDS. 99
Out of 100 medical scientists how many do you think believe that smoking causes lung cancer. 99
Out of 100 climate scientists how many do you think believe that human CO2 emissions cause climate change. 95

Sep 4, 2012 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

Steve Mc:

I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years has increased atmospheric temperature to an appreciable degree. 3
I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years will cause serious negative changes to the planet's climate unless there is a substantial switch to non CO2 emitting energy sources. 2
I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years has caused serious negative changes to the planet's climate. 1

I love that straight line. At what point did Steve McIntyre go 'anti-science' here? How dare a bunch of psychologists think that they can even begin to judge on that.

Sep 4, 2012 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

In Lewandowsky’s second explanatory piece to which Barry links above, he suggests that he sent something to someone, or possibly received somethng from someone, the 23rd September. He seems to be hinting that that was the date he contacted the four other sceptic blogs. But as I already pointed out elsewhere, he was already announcing the results of his survey the same day at Monash University. I’ve asked him to explain.

Sep 4, 2012 at 1:30 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I urge readers to look at the lewandowsky's presentation referred to by a commenter above - to a Monash University seminar on Sep 23, 2010 of the "results" (three days after his assistant sent me a reminder) . It's here: http://monash.edu/research/sustainability-institute/assets/documents/seminars/msi-seminar_10-09-23_lewandowsky_presentation.pdf

John Cook is listed on the presentation.

As another reader points out above, it's interesting that Deltoid knew that Lewandowsky was involved in the project, whereas this information was not disclosed in the request to me.

Sep 4, 2012 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

As pointed out by a certain Prof Lewandowsky in his most recent paper, people who believe they're fighting a conspiracy are very prone in acting conspiratorially themselves. This alones explains Lew's reticences at different stages of this saga.

Sep 4, 2012 at 1:46 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Ha! I didn't look in the right place when Barry said Lewandowsky has responded.

Isn't that sweet! Lewandowsky created another thread without addressng any of the polite cogent points on the previous one. A clear denier technique if ever I seen one. And he has the chutzpah to leverage Steve Mc's finding the Hanich communication as a display of admitting "denial", all mixed in with some rather feeble rambling about irrelevancies..

Good lord I've learned something from the believers - listen to the bleating "Gish Gallop, Gish gallop". It reminded me of Dustin Hoffman in Rainman, a comforting circular chant to deflect the pain. I now learn that "Gish Gallop" means something like - 'bombarding someone with a series of disconnected irrelevant claims with the intent of deflecting and overwhelming the opponent' .

Yet here we see the "Gish Gallop" mantra chanted in response to a simple and lucid set of related requests about a single paper, which are being deflected by some pretty overt and threadbare manouverings.

This guy has qualifications in psychological science!?

The guy is laughably projecting now.

I really might begin to feel sorry for him.

Sep 4, 2012 at 1:48 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Why do climate scientists of all ages reply to simple questions about their work like disturbed adolescents?

"It wasn't me, you don't understand anything - and anyway you stink!"

Sep 4, 2012 at 2:04 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Foxgoose - "That's why I think our best weapons are loud & continuous public rhetoric and ridicule - not earnest attempts to get them to "see our point of view"."

100% correct.

Sep 4, 2012 at 2:29 PM | Registered CommenterGrantB

GrantB: You've fallen for a false alternative. The 'correct' is therefore false and the '100%' loud and public rhetoric that is meaningless. Like so much fire and fury around here. The latest response of Lewandowsky deserves ridicule and is already getting it. But that's only obvious because of the patient, indeed earnest attempts to argue each point in turn by the likes of Geoff Chambers. He had the fortitude to do that and keep his cool. But thanks so much for your input.

Sep 4, 2012 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

I disagree Richard. We already have a carbon tax in Australia based largely on apocalyptic predictions from climate scientists and others such as Lewandowsky (psychologist), Hamilton (ethicist), Flannery (paleontologist), assorted social scientists, lawyers and others who "research the effects of climate change". Nothing anyone does here or anywhere else trying to explain genuine scientific scepticism and alternative views (at least as I new it when I was doing my theoretical physics PhD) will make the slightest difference to our politicians.

The carbon tax and all the nonsense associated with it will only end up in the dustbin of scientific history if people vote against it and the general population aint gonna do that by listening to science debates. Exposure and ridicule of blatantly incorrect predictions, rorted funding, inefficient and costly "Green energy schemes" and brief and understandable mentions of scientific drivel such as Lewandowsky's efforts stand a much better chance.

Foxgoose is 100% correct (and Delingpole is masterful).

Sep 4, 2012 at 3:35 PM | Registered CommenterGrantB

OK, you're Australian. One has to make allowances :)

On a slightly more serious note, blog discussions are a strange hybrid of the highly personal and the highly public - and I think we tend to forget the latter. Geoff, Barry and others have done incredibly well on some other people's blogs in the last few months. This takes some doing. I think we do well to take stock before resuming 'business as usual' below the line at Bishop Hill. That's the backstory for me here. And I agree about using ridicule - I just make the point again that really effective ridicule isn't quite as easy as it sounds.

And this thread should be about Lewandowsky so that's the last from me on the meta-discussion.

Sep 4, 2012 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Steve Mc has posted a brilliant response to Lewandowsky, with a number of polite but pointed questions, starting with the old chestnut "I presume that you are referring to me." Slimy though the psychologist has been in his wording so far, I can't see where he has to go now, except full disclosure of those invitations and why on earth his 'ethics department' let it go this way.

Sep 4, 2012 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

But there's another problem with the Lewandowsky paper: Who does he rely on for his broader references regarding the assertion that skeptic climate scientists are corrupted by fossil fuel industry money? None other than the usual suspects seen in similar papers analyzing the motivations of 'denier scientists' - Boykoff, Dunlap, Freudenburg, Lahsen, McCright, Mooney, Oreskes, Schneider.

Each in turn ultimately relies on a single source in their own writings and speeches to say skeptic climate scientists are paid by 'big coal & oil' to manufacture doubt about global warming: anti-skeptic book author Ross Gelbspan. No need to trust me on this, you may look it up for yourselves.

Gelbspan, meanwhile, seems to have every appearance of being the central figure behind efforts to manufacture doubt about the credibility of skeptic climate scientists.

People may attempt to analyze 'deniers' motivations all they want, but when a cornerstone premise within all of these types of papers - that skeptic scientists are corrupt - is literally unsupportable, then the analysis is fundamentally flawed no matter who they survey.

Sep 4, 2012 at 5:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell C

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