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« Virginian decision | Main | Climate Control in the Scottish Express »
Wednesday
Apr162014

The opinions of experts

Stephan Lewandowsky has launched the next round of the Recursive Fury saga, quoting an excerpt from the report of the expert panel that Frontiers commissioned to look into the ethical and legal issues surrounding the paper. The report says that there are divided opinions in the field as to whether analysing blog comments for a scientific paper would require informed consent, but seems to end up saying that the Fury authors' use of such comments was probably kosher.

I think I probably agree with this. I can't really see any objection to studying public blog comments. But I'm not sure that this doesn't miss the key objection to the Fury paper, namely that the authors published what amounted to diagnoses of the (alleged) psychological pathologies of identifiable individuals without their consent. I can see no way in which this could ever be acceptable practice for a reputable journal.

 

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Reader Comments (71)

Lewdicrus: adjective

Laughably foolish.

Apr 16, 2014 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

There's one thing no-one can deny, though: this "paper" is perfectly named. It keeps coming back and coming back, so it's well and truly recursive, and it really couldn't have been better designed to arouse fury. There ought to be some kind of award for such nominative appropriateness - is there already a Lewandowsky award?

Apr 16, 2014 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve C

So normally a diagnosis is made based on an assessment that looks into the persons life history, behaviours and statements made over time, medical history and current life issues and stressors (among other things) ........and Lewandowsky believes he can diagnose people from some blog statements ..........perhaps it's better he's doing "research" and not counselling people ....

Apr 16, 2014 at 7:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterGerry

Barry Woods & Professor Markram

Please accept my sincere apologies, I had Professor Lewandowsky in my mind when I
made that comment.

Mia culpa.

Peter Oneil

Apr 16, 2014 at 7:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

As Richard Feynman said 'Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts'.

Most of the so-called academia seem to believe the exact oposite.

Apr 16, 2014 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeA

Prof Lewandowsky just cannot admit there might be alternative and valid points of view, whether in "science", ethics, politics or data analysis. The hypothesis of "conspiracist ideation" causing "a motivated rejection of science" has not been properly challanged. In the "hoax" paper it was largely due to a couple of scam responses. In the follow-up US study there were a lot more believers in conspiracy theories. The data shows something different. For well-supported scientific propositions (like smoking causes lung cancer) the people with strong opinions about conspiracy theories (both for and against) had a stronger acceptance of the "science" than those in the middle. On "climate science" it was different. Those with strong opinions about conspiracy theories (both for and against) had also strong opinions on "climate science", but those opinions went both ways.
The professor has discovered a revolutionary concept. People with strong opinions in one area are likely to have strong opinions in other areas. But "conspiracist ideation" is a just a slur on conspiracy theorists.
http://manicbeancounter.com/2014/04/10/conspiracist-ideation-falsified/

Apr 16, 2014 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

The article doesn't say whose brain they are going to perfectly model. [Craig Venter famously sequenced his own genome, allegedly.]I imagine some brains could be done for a lot less than €1bn. Apr 16, 2014 at 9:39 AM | michael hart

Abby someone?
http://youtu.be/yH97lImrr0Q

Apr 16, 2014 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul in Sweden

I really don't like links to St. Lew. site shapingtom... since it actually could up his stats when we go look at. Would like a nice copy and paste in the blog plus a link if we really want to look. (2cents)

Apr 17, 2014 at 12:51 AM | Unregistered Commentertimothy Sorenson

Paul,
lol+1
:^)

Apr 17, 2014 at 12:53 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter


BH reported,


"The report [by ‘Frontiers’] says that there are divided opinions in the field as to whether analysing blog comments for a scientific paper would require informed consent, but seems to end up saying that the Fury authors' use of such comments was probably kosher."



Why not get the 'informed consent'?


Let's look at the possibilities of why:


If 'informed consent' was not obtained because it was too much effort to go back and get it then that is an intellectual integrity bypass and unjustifiable unprofessional laziness.


If 'informed consent' was not obtained because it would have alerted the subjects enough for them to have concerns over the intent and identity of the researchers then that is an intellectual integrity bypass and an unethical stance.

If 'informed consent' was not obtained because the authors thought it would have yielded research results that were not the results they wanted then that is an intellectual integrity bypass and intentional corruption of research.

If 'informed consent' was not obtained because the authors were told by the UWA that it did a detailed review of their research project and paper then it is an intellectual integrity bypass on the part of the authors and UWA.

If 'informed consent' was not obtained because the authors thought they could confidently manipulate the review and academic conduct systems of both ‘Frontiers’ and UWA to get what they wanted then that is a both an intellectual integrity bypass and intentional corruption of research. Not to mention it reeks ethically.

If 'informed consent' was not obtained because the authors were influenced by outside interests providing fundamental advice and strategy on the research project then it mitigates nothing wrt the author’s lack of integrity and ethics.

If 'informed consent' was not obtained because the authors think that is the way most research of this type is done then it mitigates nothing wrt the author’s lack of integrity, academic conduct and ethics.

John

Apr 17, 2014 at 1:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

John Whitman you missed one out , they could not get informed consent because mostly they made it up and therefore there was no one to get informed consent from.
Having names, apart from their main figurers for attack, would have meant its would easer to audit this Lew paper and that is not something they wanted . Having poor ethics and producing bad science does not means you stupid.
Nasty people can be smart too.

Apr 17, 2014 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

There is no need to get "informed consent" for using material that people have put out there in public - after all, that is what citation is.

But if I cite "Bloggs:2011" as an example of Bloggs being in the grip of some sort of delusion, I had better have a cast-iron case to support it. And I mean something like "Bloggs denies the existence of aeroplanes."

The whole Frontiers exercise has been interesting, though. The boss is clearly out of his depth, but his feet touched bottom only recently; we have seen once again how viciously and ruthlessly waverers from the Party line are attacked.

All we need now is another pompous piece of waffle from Mike Hulme, and the circle will be complete.

Apr 17, 2014 at 10:07 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

@ Pointman

http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/the-real-bastards/

Many thanks. Required reading. Also fully endorsed by my wife, whose grandfather spent 18 years in the camps and who cannot believe the speed with which her intelligent friends inside Russia are - apparently willingly and uncritically - toeing the Putinistas' line.

Apr 17, 2014 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

From the latest Lewdness at
https://theconversation.com/from-conspiracy-theories-to-climate-change-denial-a-cognitive-psychologist-explains-25731
“Stephan Lewandowsky receives funding from the Australian Research Council, the World University Network, and the Royal Society.”

Apr 17, 2014 at 11:33 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Geoff: Thanks. Here's what I posted on Climate Audit as a result, on the relevant November thread. (In moderation for now, due to mentioning 'conspiracy' no doubt.)

-------

Stephan Lewandowsky in interview with The Conversation yesterday:

There are some researchers who have linked conspiracy beliefs to personality variables. So yes, it is quite possibly a stable characteristic of some sort. The most striking thing is that conspiratorial thinking can be self-contradictory, for example people think MI6 killed Princess Diana while also thinking that she faked her own death.

The professor links to the Michael Wood/Karen Douglas paper discussed in this thread. Empty sets can go far in the new psychology. Striking indeed.

Apr 17, 2014 at 1:13 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

His Lewdness just updated his latest post on STW, regarding that expert of the 'expert panel' he posted. Demands that we get to see the entire report, not just snippets favorable for his victimized narrative ...

We 'learn' that he can't do that since:


"Some commenters have, quite reasonably, asked me to release the entire expert report. I cannot do so because it is still strictly confidential.

I released the above section of the report because it spoke directly to an issue on which Frontiers made public statements that were irreconcilable with both an agreement they signed and their own expert report. This was done after extensive legal consultation and after inviting the journal to correct its latest public statements. I posted this unabridged relevant section only after the journal declined the invitation to set the record straight.

If it weren’t for these special and legally vetted circumstances, I would have honoured the confidentiality of this report as I have honoured all other agreements. The confidentiality of the remainder of this report remains in full force."


I find it funny that Lew now has a legal team of lawyers (Lewyers?) whenever he deals with the journal and how they cope with his alleged 'science' ...

:-)

Apr 17, 2014 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N

Barry,

I see your rather damning post has been has been removed over at Lews place!

It's damning that posts are being removed, especially ones like yours which provide "the other side of the story". Lews clowns do thenselves no favours.

Mailman

Apr 17, 2014 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Jonas,

If once Lew had respected the right to privacy of the people he hates eh. He wouldn't be in the mess he's in now.

Mailman

Apr 17, 2014 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman


Apr 17, 2014 at 10:07 AM | Registered Commenter johanna said,


"There is no need to get "informed consent" for using material that people have put out there in public - after all, that is what citation is.

[. . .]"



- - - - - - - - - -


Johanna,


In the context of a formal psychology research paper published in a professional pyschology journal with the lead author being an active academic psychologist, your comment is highly arguable; as the ‘Frontiers’ review indicates very well. That is the context of the Lewandowsky situation wrt ‘informed consent’. N’est ce pas?

Within their profession there is profound debate of that context vs ‘informed consent’. The science code of conduct is not settled.

John

Apr 17, 2014 at 5:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

"Some commenters have, quite reasonably, asked me to release the entire expert report. I cannot do so because it is still strictly confidential."

Except, of course, bits that I want to quote...which are not "strictly confidential" because I, Lew, say it isn't.

At the risk of a distant diagnosis, this is a man with rather serious issues about boundaries.

Apr 17, 2014 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJay Currie

John Whitman, the problem was not that Lew cited things that people said in public. The problem, as you allude to, was that he attributed motives and beliefs to those people.

I could write a paper which did a straightforward content analysis of blog posts and comments using exactly the same raw material as he did, and there would be no ethical issue whatsoever. Arguably, there would be methodological issues still (i.e. around the selection of the material to be analysed), but simply counting the number of times certain themes or issues were mentioned is in itself not problematic. Nor is drawing conclusions from it - as long as there is no attempt to either criticise/praise the people who said certain things nor to pretend to get inside their heads. It is a common and perfectly ethical form of research.

Apr 17, 2014 at 9:18 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

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