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« Public opinion on shale and energy | Main | Book review: The Age of Global Warming »
Monday
Aug052013

Lewandowsky: Backdating

This is a guest post by Shub Niggurath.

Steve McIntyre has a post on the Lewandowsky affair. It is a key one, so a summary might be useful.

The notorious 'Fury' paper from the Lewandowsky group is, at time of writing, in chronic 'temporary withdrawal'. The 'Moon' paper has data issues that invalidate the paper. When questioned how he reported on skeptics in the Moon paper without surveying them, Lewandowsky said he had asked skeptics in 2010 to host the survey. He didn't say who they were. This came as a surprise. Searches showed no messages from Lewandowsky. Several skeptic bloggers reported no receipt. Subsequently, others fished out the survey emails. It was realized they were sent under assistant Charles Hanich's name. The bloggers contacted each other and dug up the emails rapidly. This was summarized on Jo Nova's blog and other venues on a running basis.

A day before this, a post appeared on the Shaping Tomorrow's World blog. In it, Lewandowsky posted names of the sceptical bloggers to whom he sent survey requests. The Lewandowsky group rely on this chronology: the Fury paper states the names of the bloggers "...became publicly available on 10th September 2012, on a blog post by the first author of LOG12". 'LOG12's first author is Lewandowsky.

Steve McIntyre shows evidence that Lewandowsky actually published the post on the 11th of September - after skeptics announced their discovery of the survey emails - backdating it so that it would appear as if the discovery was made possible by his post.

The 'Moon and Fury' saga is now no longer in the realm of a science debate. There are three incidents involving the behaviour of Lewandowsky and his group about which they have been directly confronted: 

Stephen Lewandowsky has [yet] to respond to any of them.

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Reader Comments (35)

Lewandowsky may prove as invaluable to sobering up the climate debates as ever Mann was (and still is) to forcing climate science back to the proper scientific method ...

By means of embarassing the uncorrupted.

Let's all hope that both stay at it!

Aug 5, 2013 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N

No he doesn't have to do anything...it's already common Mann Made Global Warming (tm) operating procedure that so called climate scientists working for "the cause" do not have to respond to denialist claims/request because to do so would be admitting there are issues.

Mailman

Aug 5, 2013 at 12:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

I'm afraid I am rapidly losing interest in Lewandowsky (not that I ever had very much) just as I am losing interest in Adam Corner and Gleick and all the numerous other climate charlatans.
Not one of them, as far as I can make out, has any qualification which entitles him to be taken any more seriously than me on the subject of climate change. They all behave (along with other similar hangers-on like Cook and Nuccitelli) like adolescent groupies who get their kicks by sucking up to their heroes and trying (and regrettably in some cases succeeding) to persuade the gullible that they are some sort of expert by pretending that they can see into the minds of those who challenge the dubious science that underpins the global warming hypothesis.
In reality all they are doing is re-working the prejudices that infest their own somewhat limited imaginations presumably in the hopes that thereby they will give meaning to what Tom Lehrer would have called "their drab, wretched lives".

Aug 5, 2013 at 12:50 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I find it shocking that this man has the title "Professor" and that he occupies a University Chair in Cognitive Psychology:

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/expsych/people/stephan-lewandowsky/index.html
//
Expertise

I am a cognitive scientist with an interest in computational modeling. That is, I try to understand how the mind works by writing computer simulations of our memory and decision-making processes. Recently, I have become interested in how people update their memories if things they believe turn out to be false. This has led me to examine the persistence of misinformation in society, and how myths and misinformation can spread. I have become particularly interested in the variables that determine whether or not people accept scientific evidence, for example surrounding vaccinations or climate science.
//
I also find this 3m10s piece of his, to camera, shocking:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8wVfxoPqPA

Aug 5, 2013 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

No he doesn't have to do anything...it's already common Mann Made Global Warming (tm) operating procedure that so called climate scientists working for "the cause" do not have to respond to denialist claims/request because to do so would be admitting there are issues.

Mailman
Aug 5, 2013 at 12:41 PM Mailman

I think Shub probably meant ".... Stephen Lewandowsky has yet to respond to any of them..."

Aug 5, 2013 at 12:55 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"Stephen Lewandowsky has to respond to any of them."

I doubt if he will do; maybe the sentence should be "Lewandowsky has yet to respond to any of them."

Aug 5, 2013 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

I have become interested in how people update their memories if things they believe turn out to be false

Lew has a very deep personal interest in that.

And the Royal Society is a Society of Fools.

Aug 5, 2013 at 12:59 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

"This has led me to examine the persistence of misinformation in society, and how myths and misinformation can spread."

Omnologos - perhaps we'll find that it is all part of some bigger ongoing experiment and that there is a carefully and thoughtfully written Ethical Statement which predates all this, where he describes in detail the twists and turns he will make and the reasons behind them...

Aug 5, 2013 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Mike,
Things are different with this. What McIntyre's saying is: "Here, it looks like you lied". If true, it means Lewandowsky fabricated dates. Is that a normal thing for a professor? For anybody?

The change of dates is important. Lewandowsky was working through his university system trying to get "ethics" clearanace (how mindful) while the bloggers in question realised on their own they might have received the survey emails. Till that point, he had held back for about 9 weeks.

His publication date, as it stands, gives the appearance that no one looked for emails from him even though he provided "search phrases" and struggled through the university system to get some official clearance. None of this would hold if he had published it a day after.

He uses this fact in his now suspended peer-reviewed paper. So the alleged fabrication is no more merely in the realm of blog battles.

Aug 5, 2013 at 1:14 PM | Registered Commentershub

[Snip - OTT]

Aug 5, 2013 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

Good summary though I disagree with the word "backdating". We knowt that the date was manually entered and is incorrect. We don't know that it was backdated (which implies it was deliberate), based on incorrect calculation of time differences or some other reason.

Above all though, we know that the date cannot be later relied on as evidence, which Lewandowsky seems to have done.

Aug 5, 2013 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndyL

The Fury paper has been withdrawn from the link you give, with an apology and an explanation, but is still available on another part of their site, at
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3600613/
where there are also links to four papers which cite this temporarily non-existent paper, which has already been twice withdrawn and corrected following complaints from Jeff Condon and Foxgoose.
Under the link you give is a long thread of comments from me, Barry Wood, Leopard, A Scott and others. It’s just about the best demolition of the paper you can read, and it’s right there where the paper should be.

Aug 5, 2013 at 1:26 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

But, but, but Professor Lewandowsky has been identified by the Royal Society as "high quality reseacher" who needs extra money to stay and produce "important work" in the UK.

God help us.

Aug 5, 2013 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Mike Jackson (Aug 5, 2013 at 12:50 PM)
You may not be interested in Lewandowsky, but a lot of people are, following his articles in the New Yorker, Scientific American, Huffington Post etc. which all appeared after his two papers had been demolished on numerous sceptic blogs. I’ve got comments up at several places (e.g. the Conversation) pointing out that Lewandowsky is a liar, but it has absolutely no effect. “Conspiracy theorist” is now as established an epithet for us as “flat-earther” and “denialist”.

Your reference to Tom Lehrer was no doubt prompted by his song about Lobachevsky. A rewrite is called for, I think.
For younger readers, it contained the immortal verse:

Plagiarise
Let no one else’s work evade your eyes.
That’s why the good Lord made your eyes
So don’t shade your eyes
But plagiarise
(Only be sure always to call it research)

Aug 5, 2013 at 1:38 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

"This has led me to examine the persistence of misinformation in society, and how myths and misinformation can spread."

Is Lew really really clever and spreading the myths and misinformation of global warming and the myths and misinformation of why people are skeptical to see whether this nonsense can be transformed to a persistent social meme in the face of the physical, scientific and mathematical evidence to the contrary. Or is he just really really stupid?

Aug 5, 2013 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterTrago12

@Trago12
I expect he is extremely stupid.

Aug 5, 2013 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRC Saumarez

I’ve got comments up at several places (e.g. the Conversation) pointing out that Lewandowsky is a liar, but it has absolutely no effect.
Precisely, Geoff. It has absolutely no effect.
If I have to make the effort I would rather attempt to persuade politicians of the benefits (or indeed necessities) of fracking than trying to counter the pompous arguments of self-opinionated psychos. In due course they will be seen for what they are.
I am reminded of the story of two Soviet generals strolling down the Champs Elysee after the Soviet Union had finally conquered Europe and one saying to the other, "I wonder who won the air war." The point being that the fly-boys can take pot-shots as long as they like but wars are won by the boots on the ground.
They can try to psycho-analyse me and my motives till they're blue in the face. When we are swimming in shale gas and the richest nation on earth or when we are shivering in our hovels or even when we are sitting looking across the arid desert that used to be Norfolk — whichever — their inane prattling will still be inane prattling and I doubt there is anything you or I can do to stop some idiots treating them like a cross between Isaiah and the Archangel Gabriel!

I can't remember which of Lehrer's songs that was attached to. If I recall it was part of a link. Your quote is apt. Are you sure it wasn't Nikolai Ivanovich Lewandowsky? :-)
The other thing that comes to mind when considering climate change is Victor Borge's comment about his uncle(?): "He invented the cure for which there was no disease .... Unfortunately he later caught the cure and died!"

Aug 5, 2013 at 2:26 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Shub sez:

"A day before this, a post appeared on the Shaping Tomorrow's World blog. In it, Lewandowsky posted names of the sceptical bloggers to whom he sent survey requests."

Wherein "A day before this" is September 10.

This is misleading given the careful chronology presented by Steve McIntyre. While Shub subsequently states the post was actually created on September 11 and backdated by Lewandowsky to September 10, the wording of the preceding line quoted above suggests the STW post appeared there correctly dated.

How about: " A post appeared on the Shaping Tomorrow's World blog dated September 10, a day before this. In it, Lewandowsky posted names of the sceptical bloggers to whom he sent survey requests."?

Aug 5, 2013 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Norman

Mike Jackson

When we are swimming in shale gas and the richest nation on earth... their inane prattling will still be inane prattling..
You’ve got the causality backwards. Those who could be persuading government to turn on the shale gas are currently huddling together at blogs like this one chatting among themselves, precisely because “their inane prattling” has persuaded the world that we are flat-earthers and conspiracy theorists.
Who’s going to correct that if not us? We can’t do anything to persuade the world that temperatures are not going up in 2100 or shale gas is a winner as long as the Lewandowskys and the Bob Wards define who we are. It would be nice to play against more worthy opponents, but we’re just not in the Premier League or whatever it’s called.

Aug 5, 2013 at 3:23 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Geoff

“flat-earther”

But IIRC, the Flat Earth Society believes in AGW (which must have come as a shock to Obama's speech-writers).

Aug 5, 2013 at 3:39 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

It's a shame that all the 'missing emails' palaver has overshadowed the main point here - the sceptic blogs did not post the link to Lew's survey, and therefore the Moon paper does contain any significant number of responses from sceptics. The survey is thereby greatly devalued.

Lew wrote the survey up anyway, then claimed that the sceptics involved *must* have received, read and understood his emails but declined to act on them for their own nefarious purposes. Conspiracist ideation, anyone?

That's before considering his own desire to remain anonymous to the sceptics, claiming that knowledge of the purpose of the survey might bias the responses. He chose to identify himself to the so-called 'pro-science' sites, presumably aware that the same bias would result, but happy to accept the bias from that side.

Those are the real problems, as I understand it. Misrepresentation of the date of a blog post is a separate and less important issue, I feel.

Aug 5, 2013 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris Long

geoffchambers
I take your point, of course I do.
My point is that I am an aged ex-hack with an ability to string a few words together and living in a (reasonably) comfortable retirement in rural France.
I have no clout at all and the best I can do (see my posting no 151 on the Balcombe heats up thread) is urge people to pester their MPs with facts while I try, to little avail I am sure, to do the same here.
Note that nothing in that posting mentions global warming or climate change.
This is what I meant by "boots on the ground". The battle is to ensure that the civilised world continues to have access to cheap, reliable energy. I don't care if the politicians want to continue believing in the myth of runaway climate change and I don't think they pay much attention to the ramblings (or prattlings) of self-important academic psychologists if the truth be told.
Ward needs challenging at every opportunity; Lewandowsky and Corner are just pissing in the wind. The only people listening to them are their fan club.
You are right when you imply that their fan club is bigger than is healthy but unless you happen to be Richard Tol who is "acceptable" in the 'right' circles and so likely to command some respect and therefore a hearing (mebbe!) all you are doing — in the eyes of the fan club — is confirming what Lewandowsky et al are saying.
Neat, eh? Did I mention Catch-22?

Aug 5, 2013 at 4:01 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Stephen Lewandowsky > Stephan?

Aug 5, 2013 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterHK

@Trago12
I expect he is extremely stupid.
-------------------------
Depends how you define 'stupid'. If it means having a succession of comfortable, well-paid academic posts with all expenses paid overseas trips thrown in as the definition of 'stupid' well, that is up to you.

There are many ways to define intelligence. Climbing up the greasy pole might not fit your personal preference. Of course, it is quite separate from academic achievement.

Aug 5, 2013 at 5:17 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Mike Jackson
Lots to agree with there too, except that Lewandowsky’s fan club includes the Royal Society, and Adam Corner’s many fan clubs are DECC-financed and churn out stuff direct to government. Lewandowsky is a weak link in the complex chain (I think we can agree) so it’s maybe worth going at him with our rusty old saws.
I too live in France. I keep meaning to write something about Frog greenery, possibly about shale gas, which is a no-go area in France because of the Greens in the government If you feel you can contribute something, drop me a line at my blog.

HK
Yes it’s Stephan, though his co-author John Cook calls him Steve. So when Cook did the content analysis for Lew’s “Fury” paper using the search term “Stephan Lewandowsky” he managed to overlook all his own contributions. That’s the level of their Royal Society medal-winning research.

Aug 5, 2013 at 6:02 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Jeff [Norman], you are right. Slightly different wording here:

http://nigguraths.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/lewandowsky-backdating/

Aug 5, 2013 at 7:07 PM | Registered Commentershub

Lewandowsky says: "People who deny the overwhelming evidence that the earth is warming due to human activity, typically do not publish scientific articles". (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8wVfxoPqPA)


The problem for Lewandowsky is, we do not have to prove that his CAGW God exist's. While those who do believe in the Religion of CAGW do!
And this they have not done.

Aug 5, 2013 at 7:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Stevens

Mark Stevens:
"The problem for Lewandowsky is, we do not have to prove that his CAGW God exist's. While those who do believe in the Religion of CAGW do!"

From a scientific point of view I'm sure you're right, but from the view of politicians grateful for any chance to exert more control and demand more money and a public being Institutionally pushed an energy-unbalanced 'precautionary principle' ...?

http://wondermark.com/279/

Aug 5, 2013 at 7:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerekP

Geoff Chambers - any chance of posting on Table 3 of Recursive Fury - I know you're busy, but it would be a worthwhile exercise to pull that travesty together and present it to the University of WA, Bristol and the RS as an example of their academic standards.

Aug 5, 2013 at 7:58 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

arrogance beyond belief (John Cook, co author Fury, about critics of Moon Hoax):


John Cook ‏@skepticscience 14m
Are moon landing conspiracy theorists champions of scientific method cos they don’t believe moon is made of cheese? http://gu.com/p/3hkz4/tw

Aug 5, 2013 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

johanna
Good idea. I’ll do it. I’m only busy in the sense of being a busybody.

Aug 5, 2013 at 9:36 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

johanna

"Depends how you define 'stupid'. ..."

Down here we'd probably say that L is "as cunning as a s...house rat", rather than stupid. Those who employ him are the stupid ones.

Aug 6, 2013 at 2:30 AM | Registered CommenterMique

"Hi, my name is professor ..."
...so Lewandowsky starts his introduction with a lie and maintains his standard throughout.

Aug 6, 2013 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterEugene S Conlin

btw:

"I am a cognitive scientist with an interest in computational modeling. That is, I try to understand how the mind works by writing computer simulations of our memory and decision-making processes."

It'd be great to see the code and data! :-)

Aug 7, 2013 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Geoff @Aug 5, 2013 at 6:02 PM

"...So when Cook did the content analysis for Lew’s “Fury” paper using the search term “Stephan Lewandowsky” he managed to overlook all his own contributions..."

Hilarious

Aug 7, 2013 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterHK

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