Foxgoose, McIntyre & Me v. Nuccitelli (and the Cook that spoils the broth)

Here’s a correspondence I’ve been having with the Readers’ Editor at the Guardian:

From Geoff Chambers to Guardian Readers’ Editor 30 March 2014:

Dear Readers’ Editor,

 I’m writing to complain about this article,

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/mar/21/contrarians-bully-climate-change-journal-retraction

which is factually incorrect and defamatory of myself and of Steve McIntyre.

The headline: “Contrarians bully journal into retracting a climate psychology paper” is contradicted by the journal itself, as is explained by commenter TLITB1 in the second to last comment on the thread (26 March 2014 11:22am) where the journal editor is quoted as saying:

This decision had nothing to do with caving in to pressure and was driven by our own analysis of various factors and advice received”.

Author Dana Nuccitelli provides no evidence within the article itself of “contrarians bullying the journal” or that the journal “finally caved to these threats”. Instead, in the sentence:

Very soon after its publication, the journal Frontiers was receiving letters from contrarians threatening libel lawsuits (Graham Readfearn has some details)”

there is a link to an article by Readfearn at DeSmogBlog.

The evidence for “bullying” and “contrarians threatening libel lawsuits” provided in the Readfearn article comes in the final section, under the subheading: “Gagging orders hide libel threats”, the second paragraph of which reads:

One blogger, Geoff Chambers, wrote to Frontiers asking that the paper be withdrawn because it was defamatory towards him”.

and which links to an article on my blog

http://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/lews-talk-costs-libels/

which reproduces my letter of complaint to the journal. In the letter I point out that the paper (now retracted) is defamatory, and I end:

I therefore respectfully suggest that the wisest course might be to withdraw this paper.”

The third and fourth paragraphs refer to a complaint made by a blog commenter called “Foxgoose” who points out that a quote had been falsely attributed to him, and that this was potentially defamatory. But this error (one of many in the paper) was rectified before publication, so can have had no part in the journal’s decision to retract the paper.

The fifth paragraph refers to two complaints made by Steve McIntyre. They are couched in legal terminology and also use the word “defamatory”, but make no mention of legal action.

It is clear from the above, and from the statement by the editors of the journal themselves, that the accusation of “bullying” in Nuccitelli’s article is baseless. Since the only evidence for bullying and threats of libel lawsuits is a link to the Readfearn article, and since that article links directly to my letter of complaint, and mentions Steve McIntyre, (who has also published his letters of complaint at his blog ClimateAudit) it is clear that the accusations in Nuccitelli’s article are aimed at me and McIntyre.

It seems fairly pointless to publish a correction on an article on which comments are closed and which is now ancient history, in internet terms. In the case of a previous article at Guardian Environment by Bob Ward which made remarks about climate blogger Andrew Montford which Montford considered defamatory, the solution found was to give Montford a right of reply in an article at Guardian Environment. I suggest that this would be a suitable solution in this case.

I shall be forwarding this letter to Steve McIntyre, but will not otherwise publicise it.

Hoping to hear from you soon

Geoff Chambers

__________________________________

Guardian Readers’ Editor to Geoff Chambers 22/04/14 21:09

Thank you for your email, and I’m sorry it has taken some time to reply to your request for a right of reply.

As you say neither you or Steve McIntyre are mentioned in the Guardian article.

You are, however mentioned in the blog by Graham Readfearn, to which the Guardian article links.

The Readfearn blog in turn links to

a) An article by Lewandowsky and Cook, with comments. (Your own comments appear there.)

b) Your own blog

c) Posts made by Steve McIntyre

c) The letters and emails received by Frontiers and/or UWA and obtained through an FOI request.

The Readfearn blog links to both yours and Steve McIntyre’s online publications regarding this matter. Your point of view and your own statements are reflected in the places where you are named and I don’t believe there is any need for a further reply in the Guardian.

Best wishes

Barbara Harper

Follow us on Twitter: @GdnReadersEd

_____________________________________

From Geoff Chambers to Guardian Readers’ Editor 22 April 2014

Dear Ms Harper,

Thank you for your reply, three weeks late, which is no reply at all.

I wrote to complain that Dana Nuccitelli’s article accusing unnamed people of threatening and bullying the publishers of Lewandowsky’s paper “Recursive Fury” was factually incorrect, since the editors of the journal have categorically denied having received any threats. The only evidence Nuccitelli provides for his baseless accusation is a link to an article by Graham Readfearn (also a Guardian journalist) which provides as “evidence” a false statement about Foxgoose, a quote from Steve McIntyre, and a link to my blog. Anyone looking for evidence of the accusation of bullying in the headline will be naturally led to believe that these three individuals are the bullies.

Instead of dealing with this clear example of an article which is false and defamatory, your letter merely points me to some links in the Readfearn article, one of them to my own blog, and one of them, you say, to “an article by Lewandowsky and Cook, with comments. (Your own comments appear there.)”

But there is no link to an article by Lewandowsky and Cook at Readfearn’s article (there is one to an article by Lewandowsky and Oberauer). Neither I nor Readfearn mention Cook. So where did you get Cook’s name from?

There is a link to an article by Lewandowsky and Cook in Nuccitelli’s article, and there are comments there by me. But what has that to do with the false statement in the Guardian article that the journal “Frontiers in Science” gave in to bullying, and the defamatory link that implies that Foxgoose, Steve McIntyre and I were the bullies?

The fact that you bring Cook into the story in a wholly irrelevant way, and that neither I nor Readfearn, whom I cite, had mentioned him, suggests to me that your letter was written in large part by Dana Nuccitelli. Am I right?

What action will you be taking to rectify the false and defamatory claim of bullying in the article’s headline?

PS This has nothing to do with anything, but I learnt recently that I am related to C.P. Scott. When my great aunt Rebecca Scott mentioned long ago that her father had worked for the Guardian, I asked her if he was C.P. Scott, and she laughed and said no. When she died recently I found among her papers the long obituary of C.P. Scott which appeared in the Guardian on his death in 1932, and there I learned that he had two brothers who also worked on the Guardian.

Small world, isn’t it?

yours

Geoff Chambers

__________________________________________________________

PPS, which I didn’t mention to Barbara: C.P.Scott, the famous editor of the Guardian, coined the slogan which adorns the Guardian’s comments page: “Comment is free, but facts are sacred”. I claim to have invented the version made popular by Delingpole: “Kommentmachtfrei” – but since I did it in a long since deleted comment at the Guardian, there’s no way of proving it.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

“Recursive Fury”: a Summary

[The retraction of the Lewandowsky/Cook “Recursive Fury” paper has been generally greeted as a great victory for us sceptics, and many commenters have opined that we can forget about it; it's history. I disagree, for the following reasons.

The same defence of Lewandowsky's scandalous pseudo-science is still being offered in the same quarters, with the additional message that he is the victim of an organised campaign of bullying. The message that climate sceptics are conspiracy theorists has entered the mainstream, and has been repeated by a British government minister and a website published under Barak Obama's name.

Simply pointing out that something is wrong is no guarantee that it will go away. Society has never worked that way, and the fact that the way information is transmitted, challenged and retained has been revolutionised by the internet means that the transmission of information is even more of a mystery than it has ever been. Lewandowsky understands this, and so do governments, private companies (including scientific publishers) and pressure groups, who are tentatively feeling their way round, as we all are.

Recursive Fury” is a magnificent subject for the content analysis which Lewandowsky and Cook attempted and made such a hash of. THere is material here for a book, or dozens of research papers. We have two faulty scientific papers, plus partial supplementary material. We have FOI material including correspondence between authors, blog owners, and university officials, ethical permission files, letters of complaint, letters to and from editors; we have Cook's private assessments of Lewandowsky from the leaked “treehut” files; we have hundreds of blog articles, tens of thousands of blog comments, and scores of articles by Lewandowsky on his own blog and in the mainstream media and “scientific” literature.

In order to facilitate examination of this monumental cock-up, this “slow motion train wreck” as Anthony Watts called it, I reproduce below a summary of the paper, referenced by page numbers. There's material here for dozens of papers; I'm working on “Lew's Lost Conspiracy” from the supplementary material, and hope to post it in the next couple of days. I don't expect many people will be interested in reading it all, but it's there for anyone who wants to do further research on it. Enjoy.]

______________________________________________

Summary of “Recursive Fury”

[All direct quotes from the paper are in italics. I've added some emphasis in bold to facilitate identification of sections]

Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation” by Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook, Klaus Oberauer and Michael Hubble-Marriott is a long (57 pages) paper provisionally published on-line by “Frontiers in Psychology” on 2nd February 2013. It was published on 18th March 2013, revised twice following complaints, and then “removed” on 27th March 2013 pending an internal enquiry. It was finally retracted on 4th April 2014.

The paper analyses the response of the climate blogosphere to the publication of a previous paper by Lewandowsky, Oberauer and Gignac (LOG 12).

The key contents of the paper are as follows:

pp3-6 [no subheading] consists of an analysis of the concept of conspiratorial ideation and its involvement in the rejection of science, with reference to the AIDS/HIV controversy, tobacco and health, vaccination and climate science.

pp6-8 Conspiracist ideation and rejection of science among climate blog visitors: summarises the results of LOG12 thus:

… endorsement of free-market ideology emerged as a strong predictor of the rejection of climate science. Free-market ideology was also found to predict the rejection of other scientific propositions. Of greater interest in the present context is the association between conspiracist ideation and the rejection of climate science and other scientific propositions, although the strength of this association was considerably less than that of free-market ideology.”

And goes on to say;

When the article by Lewandowsky et al. became available for download in July-August 2012, the climate denialist blogosphere responded with considerable intensity along several prongs: Complaints were made to the first author’s university alleging academic misconduct; several freedom-of-information requests were submitted to the first author’s university for emails and documents relating to LOG12; multiple re-analyses of the LOG12 data were posted on blogs which purported to show that the effects reported by LOG12 did not exist; and a number of hypotheses were disseminated on the internet with arguably conspiracist content. [...]

The remainder of this article reports a content analysis of the hypotheses generated by the blogosphere to counter LOG12. The extent and vehemence of contrarian activity provided a particularly informative testbed for an analysis of how conspiracist ideation contributes to the rejection of science among web denizens. Unlike previous analyses of web content, the present project was conducted in “real time” as the response to LOG12 unfolded, thus permitting a fine-grained temporal analysis of the emerging global conversation.”

pp8-10 Method

Two searches of the internet were conducted by coauthors Cook and Marriott. The first one obtained all peer-reviewed papers on conspiracy ideation published in 2012 (up to October 12).

The second phase of the search traced the response to LOG12 in the blogosphere. An on-going web search in real time was conducted by two of the authors (J.C. and M.H.M.) during the period August-October 2012. This daily search used Google Alerts to detect newly published material matching the search term ‘Stephan Lewandowsky’.”

The data was subsequently limited to the 30 most frequently read “skeptic” websites, as identified by Alexa rankings, and to the period 28 August to 18 October 2012.

pp10-12 Conspiracist classification criteria

lists six criteria of conspiracist ideation, with references to the literature. The authors say:

Our criteria were exclusively psychological and hence did not hinge on the validity of the various hypotheses. [...] The approach [...] avoids the need to discuss or rebut the substance of any of the hypotheses.”

These are the six criteria, together with abbreviations used in the text for each one, and explanatory extracts from the paper:

NI Nefarious Intent: “..the presumed intentions behind any conspiracy are invariably nefarious.”

PV Persecution-Victimization: “… A corollary of the first criterion is the pervasive self-perception and self-presentation among conspiracy theorists as the victims of organized persecution. The theorist typically considers herself, at least tacitly, to be the brave antagonist of the nefarious intentions of the conspiracy; that is, the victim is also a potential hero.”

NS Nihilistic Skepticism: “The conspiracy theorist refuses to believe anything that does not fit into the conspiracy theory. Thus, nothing is at it seems, and all evidence points to hidden agendas or some other meaning that only the conspiracy theorist is aware of.”

MbW “Must be Wrong”: “The underlying lack of trust and exaggerated suspicion contribute to a cognitive pattern whereby specific hypotheses may be abandoned when they become unsustainable, but those corrections do not impinge on the overall abstraction that `something must be wrong’ and the `official’ account must be based on deception.”

NoA “No Accident”: “To the conspiracy theorist, nothing happens by accident … Thus, small random events are woven into a conspiracy narrative and reinterpreted as indisputable evidence for the theory.”

UCT “Unreflexive Counterfactual Thinking”: “Contrary evidence is often interpreted as evidence for a conspiracy [...] the stronger the evidence against a conspiracy, the more the conspirators must want people to believe their version of events.”

pp13-27 Results

After a brief discussion of their search for other papers on conspiracy ideation published in 2012, which revealed that only LOG12 engendered “recursive hypotheses”, (Table 2) the authors turn to a discussion of “at least ten [...] hypotheses advanced against LOG12, irrespective of whether they addressed presumed flaws in the methodology or accused the authors of deception, incompetence, or outright conspiracies. [...] We do not comment on the validity of any hypothesis other than those that can be unambiguously classified as false (namely, hypotheses 2, 6, 7, and 8).”

Each hypothesis is backed up with quotes from comments on blogs. A total of 42 links to blog comments are given, though the total number of quotes referred to may be greater.

The hypotheses are summarised in Table 3, with the appropriate conspirationist criteria in brackets:

1. Survey responses “scammed” by warmists (NI, PV, MbW, SS)

2. “Skeptic” blogs not contacted (NI NS PV)

3. Presentation of intermediate data (NI, NS, MbW, UCT)

4. “Skeptic” blogs contacted after delay (NI, NS, MbW, NoA, UCT)

5. Different versions of the survey (NI, MbW, UCT)

6. Control data suppressed (NI, NoA)

7. Duplicate responses from same IP number retained (NS, MbW)

8. Blocking access to authors’ websites (NI, PV, NoA)

9. Various Miscellaneous hypotheses (See text)

[under this heading two hypotheses were considered: 9.1 Tom Curtis’s criticisms as a false flag operation; 9.2 Moon Hoax as bait for Recursive Fury. The titles are mine, since none were given in the text.]

10. Global activism and government censorship (NI, PV, SS)

pp27-28 Freedom-of-information release

Further conspirationist hypotheses are considered under this heading. The authors say: Because the FOI release occurred about a month after the last hypothesis spontaneously emerged in response to LOG12, it is considered separately from the other hypotheses summarized in Table 3.”

The FOI release occurred on 10th October 2012.

pp29-31 Discussion: Potential limitations

This section analysed a number of potential objections, including:

1) The “generality” of the results. The authors counter this by saying:

We therefore suggest that the present analysis illuminated not just an isolated incident but the broader propensity of climate denial to involve a measure of conspiracist ideation.”

2) That the analysis: “…considered the blogosphere as if it were a single entity, analyzed within the context of psychological processes and constructs that typically characterize individuals rather than groups.”

To which they reply: Our response is twofold: First, at the level of purely descriptive discourse analysis, our work fits within established precedent involving the examination of communications from heterogeneous entities such as the U.S. Government or the Soviet Union. Second, at a psychological level, numerous psychological constructs—such as cognitive dissonance, social dominance orientation, or authoritarianism—have been extended to apply not only to individuals but also to groups or societies…”

3) That “…the evidence falls far short of “real” conspiracy theories involving events such as 9/11 or the moon landing.”

To which they reply: We suggest that conspiracist ideation, like most other psychological constructs (e.g., extraversion), represents a continuum that finds expression to varying extents in theories of varying scope.”

4) “..critics might propose an alternative explanation for the behavior of the blogosphere based on a dissonance effect. Science denial commonly involves “skeptics’” self-perception of being the only rational consumers of information in a sea of corrupt or self-serving scientists). [...] this hypothesis is not in opposition to ours: We would expect that a person’s disposition to engage in conspiratorial thinking is more likely to become manifest when triggered by factors such as cognitive dissonance.”

5) Critics might furthermore argue that our analysis of the response to LOG12 was over-extensive, and that some of the hypotheses advanced by the blogosphere in fact constituted legitimate criticism. This criticism is rendered less potent by the fact that our analysis was conducted at a psychological level, without regard to the truth value of any of the hypotheses other than those that could be unambiguously classified as false (i.e., hypotheses 2, 6, 7, and 8 in Table 3). We remain neutral with respect to the question whether the remaining hypotheses presented valid criticisms.”

and they add: Our decision not to address the validity of any of the hypotheses also helps allay one important remaining issue: Two of the present authors also contributed to LOG12, and the present analysis may therefore be biased by a potential conflict of interest. This possibility cannot be ruled out [...][B]ecause data collection (via internet search) was conducted by two authors who were not involved in analysis or report of LOG12, the resulting “raw” data—available in the online supplementary material—cannot reflect a conflict of interest involving the LOG12 authors. Moreover, the availability of these raw data enables other scholars to bring an alternative viewpoint to bear during any reanalyses.”

pp32-35 Theoretical and pragmatic implications: Implications for understanding conspiracist ideation.

The criteria “Must be Wrong” and “Self-Sealing” are examined in more detail, and the authors suggest: “… that some of the variables that predict conspiracist ideation—viz. low trust and paranoid ideation were observable in the response to LOG12.”

They mention: “…the well-established fact that the rejection of climate science is strongly associated with right-wing political leanings and the embrace of “fundamentalist” laissez-faire vision of the free market”and add: One might therefore be tempted to consider conspiracist ideation another manifestation of the “paranoid style” in American politics—mainly focused on the political Right—that was famously highlighted by Hofstadter (1966).”

However:There are several indications that acceptance of this view would be premature: LOG12 found no association between conspiracist ideation and free-market ideology [...] and in a similar study involving a representative sample, Lewandowsky, Gignac, and Oberauer (2013) found conspiracist ideation to be negatively associated with free-market ideology and conservatism.”

Secondly:

we uncovered a potentially novel aspect of conspiracist reasoning when some of the later hypotheses were found to involve a residual impact of earlier, discarded hypotheses. For example, whereas critics initially argued that the results of LOG12 were invalid because “skeptic” bloggers were not contacted (hypothesis 2 in Table 3), upon release of evidence to the contrary, the same conclusion of invalidity was reached by other means; either because of a preliminary report of the data during a colloquium (hypothesis 3); or because of the presumedly faulty timing of the correspondence (hypothesis 4); or because “skeptic” bloggers were emailed different versions of the survey (hypothesis 5). All of those hypotheses rely on counterfactual thinking because no “skeptic” blogger posted links to the survey, and therefore neither the dates of correspondence nor the version of the survey (nor any other event involving those bloggers) could have affected the data as reported in LOG12.”

The third and final implication for understanding conspiracist ideation is that:

There are other streams of science denial that are detectable in the response to LOG12. For example, the repeated re-analysis of data, involving the elimination of “inconvenient” subsets of data points based on fairly fluid criteria...”and a parallel is drawn with reanalysis of health statistics by scientists working for the tobacco industry.

pp35-36 Theoretical and pragmatic implications: Implications for understanding science denial.

The authors say:

The vast majority of domain experts agree that the climate is changing and that human CO2 emissions are causing this change. Given this broad agreement on the fundamentals of climate science, what cognitive mechanism would underlie people’s dissent from the consensus? [...] Rejection of the scientific consensus thus calls for an alternative explanation of the very existence of that consensus. The ideation of a secretive conspiracy among researchers can serve as such an explanation. Moreover, the ideation of a conspiracy may also serve as a fantasy theme that permits groups to develop and share a symbolic reality. [...] Fantasy themes are known to play a major role in climate denial.”

pp36-37 Theoretical and pragmatic implications: Implications for science communication.

Although suggestions exist about how to rebut conspiracist ideations [...] we argue against direct engagement for two principal reasons. First, much of science denial takes place in an epistemically closed system that is immune to falsifying evidence and counterarguments. We therefore consider it highly unlikely that outreach efforts to those groups could be met with success. Second, and more important, [...] [a]lthough LOG12 received considerable media coverage when it first appeared, the response by the blogosphere was ignored by the mainstream media. This confinement of recursive hypotheses to a small “echo chamber” reflects the wider phenomenon of radical climate denial, whose ability to generate the appearance of a widely held opinion on the internet is disproportionate to the smaller number of people who actually hold those views [...] Thus, although an understanding of science denial is essential given the importance of climate change and the demonstrable role of the blogosphere in delaying mitigative action, it is arguably best met by underscoring the breadth of consensus among scientists rather than by direct engagement.”

 

pp37-47 References

p48 Author Note

p49 Footnotes

 

pp50-53 Tables

Table 1 simply lists the ten most popular climate sceptic blogs, six of which are quoted in the paper.

Table 2 lists the twenty papers on conspiracy theories published in 2012, together withy the total number of Google hits (443 for LOG12, and 124 for all the other 19 papers) and the number of recursive theories (10 for LOG12, 0 for the other 19 papers).

Table 3 lists the ten conspiracy theories, and attributes to each one the relevant conspiracy ideation criteria, as indicated in the discussion of Results pp13-37 above. It also gives the date on which each hypothesis was first proposed, and the name of the person proposing it. Four hypotheses are attributed to Steve McIntyre, two to Joanne Nova, one each to Anthony Watts, Geoff Chambers and “ROM”, and one to “Various”.

pp54-57 Figures

Figure 1 is the latent variable model from LOG12 presenting the results of that paper in diagrammatic form.

Figure 2 is the timeline of principal recursive theories developed by the blogosphere in response to LOG12. All comments were collected between 29th August and 23rd September, except for two comments collected on the 14th and 18th of October.

Numbers of comments per day and per hypothesis are recorded in different shades of grey, which makes counting difficult, but there see to be total of 62 comments recorded.

 

Supplementary Material

The Supplementary Material was placed on-line soon after the paper. It consists of a spreadsheet, with dates along the side and conspiracy theories along the top, with quotes from blog comments in the corresponding cells.

The conspiracy theories listed were:

Didn’t email deniers (29)

Inconsistent delivery/excluded skeptics (4)

Warmists faked data (38)

Methodology flaws (35)

Emailed warmists before deniers (4)

Intermediate Data (8)

SkS conspiracies (15)

Versiongate (8)

Hiding Data (6)

STW Censoring Comments (5)

Used multiple IPs (4)

Kevin Judd puppet master (3)

Tom Curtis faked criticism (1)

SL founded Conversation (1)

Lew gravy train (1)

Blocks IPs (2)

97% of deniers didn’t enter survey (1)

Paper isn’t going to be published (1)

Infowar`(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infowar) (1)

Unethical ethics application (3)

Gravy train (1)

Govt conspiracy theory (1)

 

(numbers of quotes for each conspiracy are listed in brackets)

 

 

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Sceptic Against Standers v. Anthropogenic Global Warming Helpers

In my unrelenting effort to track down the latest outbreak of Lewandowskyitis …

I’ll start again.

[Lewandowsky has already shot the last bolt (not that Bolt) in his armoury when he mentioned having received anti-semitic hate mail. I was going to start one post mentioning the lengthening of Stephan's nose, in reference to Pinocchio, and then (luckily) I thought: “Lewandowsky – anti-semitism – nose... No no no.”]

A little self-censorship is no doubt a good thing; but Lewandowsky isn’t into self-censorship. He’s into censorship <i>tout court.</i>)

In my unrelenting effort to track down references to Lewandowsky’s valiant efforts to defend himself, I came across this article

http://www.dagelijksestandaard.nl/2014/04/de-klimaat-agw-helpers-zien-de-skeptic-tegenstanders-graag-als-complot

at the dagelijkse standaard, which is one of the world’s top 50,000 weblogs, according to Alexa, and has 80% of its readership in the Netherlands (not surprisingly) and 12% in the United Kingdom (surprisingly, given that the Wiki article exists only in Dutch).

[I'm a big believer in language learning. (Just as well, since I've been teaching English to foreigners for the past twenty years.) Dutch is one of the languages on the boundaries of my capabilities. I'm sure I could beat it with a little effort, but what's the point, when my faltering attempts to speak it are always met with a response in perfect English?]

[I once bought a cupboard in kit form which was on sale at a 75% reduction because the assembly instructions were in Dutch. “No problem,” I thought. “Look! Half the words are instantly recognisable!” It took me several hours to realise that the Dutch word “door” meant “through”.]

Dutch is possibly the last language of which it is possible to make racist remarks. I remember an article which claimed that it was impossible to translate Shakespeare, and supported the claim by citing the Dutch translation of “Hamlet, I am thy father’s ghost”, which came out as “Omelette, ik ben uw papaspook”.

[Why is that funny? Possibly because English is a bastard language, and, unconsciously, the English realise that this is a lucky situation for them. Lucky Bastards.]

De Dagelijkse Standaard quotes

http://joannenova.com.au/2012/08/lewandowsky-shows-skeptics-are-nutters-by-asking-alarmists-to-fill-out-survey/

so you get a feeling of where they’re coming from. Then

De klimaat AGW helpers zien de “skeptic” tegenstanders graag als complot”

translates easily (thanks Google translate) as “the climate agw helpers see the skeptic opponents happy as conspiracy”

Goh !! Maar had dan toch gewoon die rechtszaak afgewacht en uitgevochten als je voor je principes opkomt als flinke prof.. Of was je zaakje toch zo zwak?”

becomes:

Gosh! But had then just waited for that lawsuit and fought when you stand up for your principles as big prof. Whether your thing was so weak?”

Whether your thing was so weak.” Goh! I wish I’d said that.

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IPCC: We still have Paris

IPCC WG III is out, and reading through the comments at

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2014/4/13/working-group-iii.html#comments

I stopped and smiled at this from TinyCO2:

Aunty BEEB and Granny Guardian are right behind you and if this year you’re not a success, there’s always COP21 in Paris next year.”

Next year is far away, and so many things might happen: a Russian invasion of the Ukraine; soaring gas prices; fracking; a ban on fracking; a winter cold spell, causing blackouts; a summer heat wave, causing George Monbiot to run naked through the streets of Camden flagellating himself (stop fantasising and get on with it…)

But Paris will still be Paris, and one of the few constants of European history is the capacity of the French for p*ssing off friends and enemies alike.

I’m no great shakes at political prophesy, but one thing I’m pretty sure about is that it will be the French who bring the European Union either to its knees or its senses. Greece, Portugal, and Spain have suffered more, but they have all experienced military dictatorships within living memory, and know that they are on parole. Italy is doing something under a charismatic leader. (Isn’t it amazing how many charismatic leaders Italy has produced in its 150 years of existence – many of them household names?)

The French president, who has done precisely nothing in the two years since his election, has a popularity rating of 18% (about the same as that of Brezhnev before the fall of the Soviet Union. But we don’t have a Berlin Wall to tear down, more’s the pity).

But we did have local elections last month and his Socialist party lost heavily, largely to the far right National Front.

I live in a town which has been in the hands of the same family, father and son, for – well – generations. The three main leftwing parties, the Socialists, the Left Front, and the Communists, wisely decided to amalgamate, which didn’t stop four other leftwing parties from standing – two Trotskyists, an ecologist and a Youf Party. The neo-fascist Front National came top, and the leftwing alliance, which just scraped through to the second round with a bare 10% of the votes, nobly desisted, recommending its voters to vote in the second round for the corrupt rightwing party, which I duly did.

(All parties are corrupt in France, but this could only happen in our town. In the previous elections a party official was found with his socks stuffed full of false ballot papers. It’s warm here in the South of France in May. People don’t wear socks. The election was annulled and in the following bye-election the governing party won by an even bigger majority. People reasoned that the opposition had brought the town into disrepute by making a fuss about the sock-stuffing..)

I love voting in France. The last time I voted was the first time European nationals were allowed to vote in local and European elections. The voting station was full of gypsy ladies decked out in their Sunday best. Just four people were indicated as having voted before me on the register open on the desk, and two of them had signed with an X. (The town where I live is reputed to have the largest sedentary gypsy population in Western Europe. And they’re good voters, as two generations of mayors can attest).

Of course, when I went to vote, they couldn’t find my name. I was voter number 000001, but on the supplementary list. So I went and stood in the queue at the problem desk, which has a hotline to the Town Hall. The guy in front of me was a gypsy, and the official behind the desk was patiently explaining: ”I’m sorry Monsieur X, but you’ve just come out of prison and you have not yet been accorded your voting rights.” To which the guy replied: “If I can’t vote, then my wife’s not voting either!”, which didn’t stop the mayor from getting elected…

But anyway, they sorted out my problem and found the supplementary register at the bottom of their chest of voting paraphernalia – an imposing volume one metre square when opened, with just two names, mine and some Dutch bloke. I duly voted and signed.

Next Sunday was the second round of voting, and as I entered the voting station the lady behind the desk nudged her neighbour and said: “It’s him!” By the time I emerged from the voting booth, they had the supplementary register proudly open for me to sign.

Media commenters this year were unanimous that socialist voters were fed up with the rightwing policies enacted by Socialist President François Hollande, so he did the only decent thing – he sacked his prime minister and appointed in his place the most rightwing member of the socialist party – Manuel Valls (This is practically a carbon copy of what happened in Italy, except that the Italian president is a 95 year-old figurehead, whereas the French president has powers which make Barak Obama look like an eight stone weakling.. By the way, I haven’t seen the news for three hours. Have we declared World War Three yet?)

And the new prime minister – like Matteo Renzi in Italy – has appointed a honed down cabinet, with some new faces, including Ségolène Royal as Minister of Ecology.

Now Ségolène Royal was the previous unsuccessful socialist candidate for the presidency seven years ago – unsuccessful, it has been widely suggested – because the socialist party apparatus, under its secretary, the current President François Hollande, sabotaged her campaign.

François Hollande is the father of Ségolène Royal’s four children.

Then there are the ecologists, the members of the party “Europe Ecology the Greens” who officially support the government, and are the recipients of 18 grace and favour seats

in parliament thanks to the socialist party, but who walked out of the government, (not because of any personal animosity towards Manuel Valls, of course, but because of his policies, which he hadn’t yet announced).

The Minister of Energy and Climate Change in Britain has certain well-defined responsibilities, such as keeping the lights on while ensuring that the planet doesn’t heat up unbearably – a heavy charge for a junior minister in a second-rate power.

The French Minister of Ecology has no such limitations. She has a minimal budget, and therefore zero power, but she has the responsibility for keeping France looking nice.

France gets 80% of its electricity from nuclear, which is low on CO2, but also unpopular with the public, who think they prefer wind turbines and solar.

The state owned (illegally of course, because, remember, socialist policies of state ownership are illegal under European law) EDF has been happy, so far, to take on a certain percentage of unprofitable wind and solar energy programmes because they can afford to, given the money they make selling nuclear energy to the Brits and others. Hence the numerous windfarms here in the south of France, which do nothing but kill a few eagles and keep the Greens happy.

The policy of the new Minister of Ecology is to reduce France’s dependence on nuclear, resist fracking, and go for renewable energy. There are 40,000 communes in France, 39,000 of which (my estimate) have a barren hillside somewhere they’re wiling to let out to a windmill company.

The country’s energy supply is still in the hands of the EDF, a nationalised company run by an intellectual élite educated under a system installed by Napoleon. “L’École des Mines” don’t just turn out coal miners. Like “Les Arts et Métiers” (the school my son went to, I’m proud to say) they prepare the scientific élite of a proud country for the job of running a modern technologically advanced society.

And confronting them are the Greens, a party which scores 3% in national elections, but which until recently merited two seats in government, and who have 80% of the population behind them when they demand the closing of France’s nuclear power stations.

Today the Leftwing parties called for a demonstration against the austerity programme of the leftwing government. Only about a quarter of a million people turned up, which is pretty feeble in French terms. It takes a demonstration of 2 or 3 million to get rid of a prime minister, something which only happens about once every 10 years – but just wait. Next week the government will be announcing details of the 50 billion euro cuts demanded by Brussels and Berlin, and the real conflict will begin.

In Paris in  2015 each French politician will be trying to make the environment his or her own. François Hollande, leader of one of the world’s top powers, will be demonstrating his commitment to the green cause in his own way. And next to him on the world stage, Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, failed candidate for the post of president, and mother of his four children, will be demonstrating her commitment in hers.

Meanwhile, I don’t doubt, the quarter of a million who demonstrated today will be still there. Their leaders in the parties of the left are among the most fervent defenders of the green cause of course. But frankly, I don’t expect reductions in CO2 emissions to rate high in the priorities of left-leaning voters contemplating the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2017. This summer or the next promise to be hot, but it won’t be about global warming.

Posted in France Italy & the rest | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Lew’s Cannons

I’ve been meaning to write up the developments in the Lewandowsky saga, but I’ve been so busy discussing it, e.g. at

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

and at

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2014/4/9/ethical-confirmations.html

that I haven’t had time. Briefly, for anyone who hasn’t been following the story at the above sites, plus ClimateAudit, (where Steve McIntyre has made startling discoveries about the ethics applications for Lew’s two papers) See e.g.

http://climateaudit.org/2014/04/07/the-ethics-application-for-lewandowskys-fury/

Wattsupwiththat e.g. at

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/04/journal-takes-lewandowsky-and-his-supporters-to-task-over-threats-over-retracted-recursive-fury-paper/

and JoNova’s; e.g. at:

http://joannenova.com.au/2014/04/journal-admits-lewandowsky-paper-retracted-because-it-failed-twice/

here’s a resumé of the story so far:

- Lewandowsky’s “Recursive Fury” paper has been withdrawn by the journal Frontiers in Psychological Science

- The news was announced in a scoop by Readfearn at DeSmogBlog, who also had a previously unknown bunch of FOI material from UWA

- Readfearn spoke of “threats” to the publishers, mentioning McIntyre, and linking to my blog. This link was picked up by a number of articles, including ones by Nuccitelli at the Guardian (which spoke of “bullying”)

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/mar/21/contrarians-bully-climate-change-journal-retraction

and by “Recursive Fury” peer reviewer Elaine McKewon at

http://www.socialsciencespace.com/2014/04/reviewer-journal-wilts-under-climate-of-intimidation/

and at

https://theconversation.com/the-journal-that-gave-in-to-climate-deniers-intimidation-25085

- I complained to the Guardian and socialsciencespace pointing out that Readfearn’s comment was defamatory (comments were closed at the Conversation) and the link to DeSmogBlog was broken at both sites. The editor from socialsciencespace sent me a polite and conciliatory letter. The Guardian’s Readers’ Editor has neither corrected their false and defamatory article, nor acknowledged receipt of my complaint.

- Frontiers issued a number of contradictory statements, but the latest, at

http://www.frontiersin.org/blog/Retraction_of_Recursive_Fury_A_Statement/812

makes it clear that there were no threats, and no intimidation.

- Lewandowsky has five articles on the subject so far, the latest of which is at

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

One of his lines of defence is that “Fury” is the most popular paper ever at “Frontiers”. He’s also boasting about how the paper is being hosted by the University of Western Australia now, and quoting the UWA’s legal person as saying “Bring it on, dogshit deniers, we’re insured!” (or words to that effect).

- Foxgoose, who was one of two plaignants (the other was Jeff Condon) to get changes to Recursive Fury before its brief existence as a peer reviewed paper at “Frontiers in Psychological Science” is currently arguing at Bishop Hill aænd at Shapingtomorrowsworld for a class action for libel against Lewandowsky and/or the University of Western Australia.

- two editors have resigned from “Frontiers” in support of Lewandowsky. This is less of a story than it may seem, since apparently, according to a commenter somewhere (where?) everyone and their kangaroo can be an editor at Frontiers.

However, just for fun, and to give an idea of the intellectual level of the opposition, I reproduce in full from

http://bjoern.brembs.net/2014/04/resigning-from-frontiers/

the post of one of the resigning editors:

__________________________________________

Recursive Fury: Resigning From Frontiers

In: News • Tags: contrarians, delusionals, unpersuadables

Last month, I was alerted to an outrageous act of a scientific journal caving in to pressure from delusionals demanding the science about their publicly displayed delusions be hidden from the world: the NPG-owned publisher Frontiers retracted a scientific article, with which they could not find anything wrong: The article attracted a number of complaints which were investigated by the publisher. This investigation did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study. It did, however, determine that the legal context is insufficiently clear and therefore Frontiers wishes to retract the published article.

Essentially, this puts large sections of science at risk. Clearly, every geocentrist, flat earther, anti-vaxxer, creationist, homeopath, astrologer, diviner, and any other unpersuadable can now feel encouraged to challenge scientific papers in a court. No, actually, they don’t even have to do that, they only have to threaten court action and publishers will cave in and retract your paper.

As if we needed any more evidence that publishers are bad for science.

Now even the supposedly “good guys” show that the are not really on the side of science. Instead of at least waiting for a law suit to be filed and perhaps at least attempting to stand their ground (as Simon Singh did), they just took the article down in what can only be called anticipatory obedience. This is no way to serve science.

A week or two ago, I talked with a Frontiers representative on the phone and she explained a few things to me which prompted me to read the paper in question, so I could make up my own mind. After reading the paper, any of the attempted explanations on the phone rang hollow: I’m certainly not a lawyer, but if taking publicly posted comments and citing them in a scientific paper, discussing them under a given hypothesis which has a scientific track record and plenty of precedence constitutes a cause for libel or defamation lawsuits, it is certainly the law and not the paper which is at fault. It is quite clear, why the content of the paper may feel painful to those cited in it, but as long as “conspirational ideation” is not an official mental disorder, I cannot see any defamation. If you don’t want to be labeled a conspiracy theorist, don’t behave like one publicly on the internet. Therefore, after reading the paper, in my opinion, Frontiers ought to have supported their authors just as their home institution (UWA) is supporting them as their employees.

As the Frontiers representative did not disclose any details and what she was able to disclose was both very general, hence not very convincing, and I promised not to disclose even that, one can only speculate what the motivations and considerat1ions might have been at Frontiers as to why they decided to throw their authors under the bus.

Clearly, if legal problems are cited, it’s always money that’s at stake, I’d be surprised if this were controversial. I have heard through the grapevine that Frontiers apparently may have felt some pressure recently, to make more money, to publish more papers. I was told that they have sent out literally millions of spam emails to addresses harvested from, e.g. PubMed, soliciting manuscript submissions. Obviously, a costly libel or defamation suit in the UK would not have been a positive on the balance sheets.

Alas, as much fun all of this speculation may be, it is not really relevant to my conclusion: Frontiers retracted a perfectly fine (according to their own investigation) psychology paper due to financial risks for themselves. It can only be seen as at best a rather lame excuse or at worst rather patronizing, if Frontiers were to claim to be protecting their authors from lawsuits by removing the ‘offending’ article. This is absolutely no way to “empower researchers in their daily work“. In the coming days I will send resignation letters to the Frontiers journals to which I have donated my free time for a range of editorial duties. Obviously, I will complete the tasks I have already started, but I will not accept any new tasks at Frontiers – at least not until they show more support of their authors.

Posted in Stephan Lewandowsky | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Bird in the Ear of the Episcopal Rhinoceros

Like all other British bloggers, I am parasitically dependent on Bishop Hill, eternally grateful to His Grace for a diet of numerous tasty tidbits, and for being the source of a steady trickle of new readers. Sometimes I try to return the favour, if it’s only by pointing out one or two interesting ticks in his outer orifices.

While the main Bishop Hill blog is mostly solid news, the Discussion page allows readers to release the bees in their bonnets (to vary the biological metaphor). It’s a rich source of information, often from specialists, but also a sounding board for all sorts of hunches, opinions and speculations.

One idea I launched there a while ago was the desirability of forming a proper society of climate sceptics. My thinking was strategic – cynical even. Organs like the BBC will only deal with spokesmen who represent something – either a body of experts, in the case climate scientists, or representatives of established institutions. (For us, that means Lord Lawson, as a member of the House of Lords and head of the GWPF, and the odd foreign scientist like Plimer or Curry, and -very rarely – an outsider like the blogger Andrew Montford.

(I remember Mary Whitehouse and her 50,000-strong National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association, who campaigned vociferously against the stream of satire, cynicism, and filth that the BBC was emitting in the 60s and 70s, and the fact that, despite her evident popularity, the BBC refused to treat with her because she hadn’t been elected by her Association, which was therefore, in the eyes of the Beeb, nothing more than a glorified fan club).

I argued that a properly constituted association of climate sceptics, with a few thousand members and a modest membership fee to cover travel expenses for its spokesman from Scotland or wherever to the BBC studios, would necessarily be considered a valid interlocutor on climate subjects. When AR5 WGII came out for instance, the editor of the Today programme would phone them up and say “What do you sceptics think?” and our spokesmen would reply. Of course, Bob Ward would complain: “What about me? I’m a qualified PR man with a salary paid by a very rich and important hedge fund manager!” and the Today editor would say: “Get stuffed.”

My suggestion was roundly rejected by the majority of commenters. It’s time has not come. Lots of people don’t like my style, which is a fact which I consider to be an argument in favour of my proposal. The whole point of associations is to link together people who wouldn’t naturally bond. I think of the International Working Men’s Association formed by a dozen British trade unionists and an eccentric foreign journalist called Karl Marx. You may prefer to consider the members of your local Rotary Club.

Anyway, there are lots of other ideas on offer at

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/discussion/

and I’ll just mention three which have caught my attention recently, and note that what they have in common is that they illustrate the fact that we sceptics are beginning to think strategically. People are giving a lot of thought to how to win the argument, or at least how to advance it, in a climate which is becoming less tolerant of alternative ideas, not more, despite the evident flaws in the consensus position.

Robin Guenier, at

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/discussion/post/2313902

argues that “current climate policy is pointless – we need a new approach”. None of us would disagree with that, I imagine. What Robin proposes is that we should drop the discussion about the science (which we can’t win) and concentrate on the Realpolitik. Robin and I frequently cross paths on threads at sites varying from New Left Project and New Statesman to some weird site (Robin will no doubt provide the address) financed by Middle Eastern airlines and hotel chains, evidently out to attract the profitable Green Jetsetting International Conference market. The fact that we don’t always agree doesn’t stop us from both being labelled as part of a conspiracy, but that’s consensus for you.

Stewgreen at

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/discussion/post/2318787

is discussing the Psychology of Climate Belief/Dis-belief, and, perhaps as a spinoff, Jiminy Cricket at

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/discussion/post/2320846

proposes a discussion of “Warmism, a new form of global cult?” Both threads allow for a discussion of the analysis of the nature of envoironmentalism / climate catastrophism which goes far beyond the usual political namecalling. This is the project which Ben Pile has been pushing at Climate Resistance for years, and which I hope to begin to tackle.

There are many other interesting discussions, but if I mention these three, it’s because what they have in common is a desire to think strategically about how to win a long and arduous battle. This is not about saying “Ha, ha, we’re right and you’re wrong! Look at Hadcrut / AR5 SPM / the latest nonsense from Lewandowsky / Bob Ward / Lord Deben”. It’s about thinking seriously about the nature of the environmentalist / catastrophist argument, and about how to combat it.

I’ve had enough interactions with people here, at BishopHill, at Climate Resistance and elsewhere to know what a bright and motivated lot we are. We can win if we interact and unite our forces. Exactly how this will happen is a mystery to me, and I suspect to everyone else, but the force is there. May it be with you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

Lewandowsky: My Part in his Downfall

Steve McIntyre has had a look at the complex dance of the emails between the University of Western Australia and the publishers of his “Recursive Fury” paper “Frontiers in Psychological Science” at

http://climateaudit.org/2014/03/21/lewandowskys-fury/

Now he’s examined the investigation by UWA into the ethics of the Moon Hoax paper

http://climateaudit.org/2014/03/24/lewandowsky-ghost-wrote-conclusions-of-uwa-ethics-investigation-into-hoax/

and has discovered that the key conclusion was written by Lewandowsky himself. Steve ends his article with a tantalising: “Today’s note pertains only to the ethics approval of Hoax. The circumstances surrounding the ethics application for Fury are much worse and will be discussed separately”.

There’s also an excellent article on other aspeccts of Lewandowsky’s psychology by Hilary Ostrov at

http://hro001.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/frontears-of-mediocrity-lewandowsky-mann-on-the-march/

In a normal world Lewandowsky’s career would now be over. But in a normal world his career would never have begun. He wouldn’t be a professor. He wouldn’t have been enticed to Bristol, one of the world’s top thirty universities, with a five figure sum and a gold medal from the Royal Society. He wouldn’t see his work praised in the Guardian, the Telegraph, the New York Times and the New Yorker, and his conclusion that climate sceptics are conspiracy theorists wouldn’t be cited by government ministers. He just wouldn’t matter.

It seems clear that, in addition to the matter of ethical clearance, and the supposed investigation by UWA, the complaints made to Psychological Science (publishers of “Moon Hoax”) and to Frontiers in Psychological Science (publishers of “Recursive Fury”) were almost certainly never examined. In both cases the publishers justified the delay in reporting on these complaints on the need to consult Lewandowsky and his fellow authors. What was the nature of this “consultation”?

Publishers are private companies and aren’t subject to Freedom of Information requests. TerryS in a comment at the first Climate Audit article linked above makes the excellent suggestion of seeing whether the can be forced to divulge information under Data Protection Acts. This would certainly seem to be a possibility for “Recursive Fury” where four of us are named in the paper, and dozens more in the supplemental material. I’ve hooked out the Swiss data protection act here http://www.dataprotection.eu/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Main.CH

and will get round to poring through it some time soon.

In the meantime, I reproduce my correspondence with “Frontiers” below, so that others can consult it. (I’ve corrected some spelling mistakes and one incorrect URL). If any other complainants to either publishers would like to do the same, it might be handy. I can reproduce it here or link to it.

_______________________________________________

23/03/13 From: g.chambers To: info@frontiersin.org

I have tried unsuccessfully to post this comment at http://www.frontiersin.org/Personality_Science_and_Individual_Differences/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00073/abstract

To the editors, Frontiers in Personality Science:

In table 3 of this paper, I am mentioned by name and identified as having been the first to have mentioned in public Recursive Conspiracist Hypothesis number 4 - namely that Sceptic blogs were only contacted after a delay. This hypothesis is quite true, as Professor Lewandowsky has admitted. Nonetheless, the fact of having been the first to make this accusation leads to me being accused of exhibiting the following symptoms of conspiracist ideation: nefarious intent, nihilistic skepticism,  “must be wrong”; “no accident”>, and unreflexive counterfactual thinking.

From the definitions of these criteria given in the paper I extract the following:

Nefarious Intent: “… A corollary of the first criterion is the pervasive self-perception and self-presentation among conspiracy theorists as the victims of organized persecution. The theorist typically considers herself, at least tacitly, to be the brave antagonist of the nefarious intentions of the conspiracy; that is, the victim is also a potential hero.”

Nihilistic Skepticism: “The conspiracy theorist refuses to believe anything that does not fit into the conspiracy theory. Thus, nothing is at it seems, and all evidence points to hidden agendas or some other meaning that only the conspiracy theorist is aware of.”

Must be Wrong”“The underlying lack of trust and exaggerated suspicion contribute to a cognitive pattern whereby specific hypotheses may be abandoned when they become unsustainable, but those corrections do not impinge on the overall abstraction that `something must be wrong’ and the `official’ account must be based on deception.”

No Accident”: “To the conspiracy theorist, nothing happens by accident … Thus, small random events are woven into a conspiracy narrative and reinterpreted as indisputable evidence for the theory.”

Unreflexive Counterfactual Thinking: “Contrary evidence is often interpreted as evidence for a conspiracy [...] the stronger the evidence against a conspiracy, the more the conspirators must want people to believe their version of events.”

These definitions clearly identify me as being irrational and paranoid, and are therefore defamatory. I therefore request you to withdraw this paper. 

I note further that , in the section on hypothesis (4) (“Skeptic” blogs contacted after delay) in which I am named, only one piece of evidence is produced, and that is a quote from Lucia Liljegren. If you don’t withdraw the paper, you might at least correct it and replace my name with that of Dr Liljegren.

However, that won’t absolve the authors of having defamed me. If we turn to hypothesis (3) “Presentation of intermediate data”, we see that the person accused of having been the first to pronounce it is Steve McIntyre. Despite the fact that this hypothesis also turned out to be true, it leads him to being accused of exhibiting the same irrational and paranoid tendencies as me, (except for “No Accident”).

The link provided 

http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/ccc2.html#22

leads to a comment by Dr McIntyre (comment 8) on an article by Professor Lewandowsky. However, Dr McIntyre’s comment is not about the presentation of intermediate data, but about four entirely different subjects. The reference to the presentation of intermediate data is in two previous comments by me to the same article (comments 3 and 6). In Comment 5, a commenter notes that I had already made the same point in a comment at SkepticalScience, a blog run by second author John Cook, which for some reason was not included among the blogs analysed, despite being one of the “Principal web sites involved in blogosphere’s response to the publication of LOG12” (title of table 2).

One reason for not considering SkepticalScience, despite the fact that this blog is widely regarded as one of the leading blogs commenting on climate scepticism, can perhaps be found in the paper, where, under the heading of “Potential Limitations”, it is explained why the content analysis of blogs was entrusted to authors Cook and Marriott:

Two of the present authors also contributed to LOG12, and the present analysis may therefore be biased by a potential conflict of interest. This possibility cannot be ruled out [...].  [B]ecause data collection (via internet search) was conducted by two authors who were not involved in analysis or report of LOG12, the resulting “raw” data – available in the online supplementary material – cannot reflect a conflict of interest involving the LOG12 authors.”

It might have been wise to indicate that:

1) the two authors whose data collection “cannot reflect a conflict of interest” both run blogs which concentrate on countering the views of sceptics (SkepticalScience and WatchingtheDeniers) 

2) John Cook of Skeptical Science is coauthor with first author Stephan Lewandowsky of “The Debunking Handbook”; and

3)SkepticalScience was the scene of some of the most lively debates about(LOG12) and of at least one of the first occurrences of a conspiracist hypothesis.

 I therefore suggest that, in the interest of accuracy, the authors replace the name of Dr McIntyre with mine, (since I do believe that my comment at Skeptical Science was the first to raise this hypothesis, the truth of which has been confirmed by Professor Lewandowsky) and my name with that of Lucia Liljegren.

I haven’t looked at the attributions of earliest mention to the other hypotheses mentioned in table 3. However, I noticed that a quote attributed to me is false, and it wouldn’t surprise me if there are other errors.

Finally,  I would like to point out that by the time Cook and Marriott began their content analysis (August 28), the paper (LOG12) had already been the subject of numerous comments on blogs for at least five weeks, beginning with

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wray-herbert/climate-change-denial-_b_1686437.html

19 July 2012 (400+ comments)

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

29 July 2012 (1300+ comments)

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/discussion/post/1904675

30 July 2012 (70 comments)

http://manicbeancounter.com/2012/07/30/lewandowsky-et-al-2012-motivated-rejection-of-science-part-1/

http://manicbeancounter.com/2012/07/30/lewandowsky-et-al-2012-motivated-rejection-of-science-part-2/

30 July 2012

http://talkingclimate.org/are-climate-sceptics-more-likely-to-be-conspiracy-theorists/. 

(August 2 2012)

The claim to have identified the earliest occurrences of the conspiracist ideation starting on 28 August is therefore moot. 

I therefore respectfully suggest that the wisest course might be to withdraw this paper.

27/03/13

Dear Mr. Chambers,

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are taking this email very seriously and will temporarily remove the article while we investigate your claims. Please feel free to forward us any further information that will assist us with our investigation. 

Best,

Adriana Timperi Senior Editorial Assistant

On behalf of: Carina Paraíso Journal Manager

Frontiers| Psychology Editorial Office

27/03/13

Dear Ms Timperi

Many thanks for your letter. I’ve just noticed that the article is still up on your site.

With respect to your request for further information:

There has been much criticism of of both this paper (“Recursive Fury”), and of the original paper (LOG12) on the internet. I have started to compile a chronological list of websites discussing the two papers on my blog at

http://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/lews-talk-costs-libels/

References to the “Recursive Fury” paper begin on 5 February 2013.

 Specific criticisms of the paper are too numerous to mention, and often difficult to enunciate because they demand a familiarity  with the original LOG12 paper, which still hasn’t been published, and in particular with the raw data, which is available here:

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2012/8/31/lewandowskys-data.html 

 The “Recursive Fury” paper is in two parts. The first part is a review of the literature on “Conpiracist Ideation”. This part has received no attention on the internet, as far as I know. I would just note that it relies heavily on one source: Keeley 1999 “Of Conspiracy Theories”, which is an epistemological study appearing in a philosophical journal. 

It is the second part, involving content analysis of blogs, which provoked criticism on the internet. I wouldn’t expect you to wade through all the articles listed on my blog, but I would recommend at least that you look  at :

1) the criticisms under the abstract on your website by A Scott, who has experience in conducting surveys, and whose original criticisms of LOG12 at SkepticalScience and Shapingtomorrowsworld have largely been censored, I believe. You might like to contact him directly. 

2) the comments under the article at

http://talkingclimate.org/are-climate-sceptics-more-likely-to-be-conspiracy-theorists/

This article, and most of the comments, appeared fully a month before the beginning or the “real-time” content analysis by Cook and Marriott, and the comments contain many of the substantive criticisms which were later used as evidence of “conspiracist ideation”. Note also that the author of the article, Dr Adam Corner, who is also a psychology researcher interested in climate scepticism, engages in constructive dialogue in the comments with us “sceptics”. 

 Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any specific questions. 

Yours Geoff Chambers

Dear Mr. Chambers,

Further to my email regarding your concerns of the Lewandowsky. I would just like to reassure you that we are still investigating into the matter and would like to know whether it would be okay for you if we forwarded along your concerns to the authors? Thank you for letting us know. 

Best,

Adriana Timperi Senior Editorial Assistant

On behalf of: Carina Paraíso Journal Manager

Frontiers| Psychology Editorial Office

02/04/13

Certainly you may forward it

grazie mille Geoff Chambers

03/04/13

Dear Mr. Chambers,

Thank you for your various emails on this subject.  You have made a general allegation of defamation; to allow Frontiers to investigate any claim of defamation we need to have specific references to quotes from the article, together with specific explanations of why you consider it or them to be defamatory.  Such latter explanations should include, where relevant, references to any other materials which support your allegation.

You will understand that Frontiers is neutral in this matter and simply wishes to establish the facts.  We need to handle this matter swiftly and must therefore request that your detailed response, in a form to be forwarded to the authors, reach me by Friday 5th April at 1400 CET.  If we have not received your materials by that time (which represents approximately three days since our original request) we will in principle have to proceed on the basis that you do not intend to proceed with your allegations.  

Please let me know if you have any further queries.

Many thanks and best regards

Adriana Timperi Senior Editorial Assistant

On behalf of: Carina Paraíso Journal Manager

5/04/13

Dear Ms Timperi

I enclose a final complaint, just in time, I hope. Have a good weekend.

Yours  Geoff Chambers

Recursive Fury Supplementary Complaint, concerning the criteria for inclusion of  blog material.

I enclose two paragraphs from the explanation of the content analysis carried out by Cook and Marriott, in the 3recursive Fury” paper, with my comments in italics. (Bold mine).

The second phase of the search traced the response to LOG12 in the blogosphere. An on-going web search in real time was conducted by two of the authors (J.C. and M.H.M.) during the period August-October 2012. 

In fact the research began on the 29th of August, thus missing all the unanswered questions and criticisms raised during July and August, (see list of relevant blogs below)

This daily search used Google Alerts to detect newly published material matching the search term “Stephan Lewandowsky.” 

Anthony Watts at Wattsupwiththat and Tom Curtis at SkepticalScience misspelt his name “Lewandowski”. Not everyone uses first name and surname. Bloggers frequently used the nickname  “Lew”, particularly in referring to his “Lew paper”. The search term was clearly inadequate for picking up relevant material.

If new blog posts were discovered that featured links to other relevant blog posts not yet recorded, these were also included in the analysis. To ensure that the collection of hypotheses pertaining to LOG12 was exhaustive, Google was searched for links to the originating blog posts (i.e., first instances of a recursive theory), thereby detecting any further references to the original hypothesis or deviations from it.

How can the research be considered “exhaustive”, when no references earlier than 29th August are recorded in the supplementary material?

 Although the second phase of the search encompassed the entire (English-speaking) web, it became apparent early on that the response of the blogosphere was focused around a number of principal sites. To formally identify those sites, we began by analyzing the 30 most-frequently read “skeptic” websites, as identified by Alexa rankings. Alexa is a private company, owend by Amazon, that collects data on web browsing behavior and publishes web traffic reports for the higher trafficked sites. This enables comparison of the relative traffic of websites covering similar topics.

What was the point of a “search encompassed the entire (English-speaking) web”, if it was thereafter arbitrarily limited to 30 sites chosen for their popularity? Much of the spadework of criticising this paper was carried out by relatively obscure sites. That’s how the blogosphere works. Notrickszone is an English speaking site based in Germany which publicised and linked to the paper 29th July. On the same day the Guardian newspaper published an article by Dr Adam Corner, a psychology researcher favourable to Lewandowsky’s work, which attracted 1354 comments in three days. This article was reprinted at Dr Corner’s government sponsored site Talkingclimate on 2nd August, and the 42 comments contain already a large part of the “conspiracist “ criticisms of which Cook and Marriott claim to have  discovered in their internet search starting 29th of August. The first attempt at analysing the results, obtained by one Katabasis, was reported by Manicbeancounter on the 30th July.

Immediately following the discussion of the criteria for inclusion of data, commented above, we read this:

We derived six criteria from the existing literature to permit classification of hypotheses pertaining to LOG12 as potentially conspiracist (see Table 3). Our criteria were exclusively psychological and hence did not hinge on the validity of the various hypotheses. This approach follows philosophical precedents that have examined the epistemology of conspiratorial theorizing irrespective of its truth value (e.g., Keeley, 1999; Sunstein & Vermeule, 2009). The approach also avoids the need to discuss or rebut the substance of any of the hypotheses.”

The majority of the hypotheses discussed were true, or probably true, or (in the case of the question of whether certain bloggers had been blocked from Lewandowsky’s and Cook’s sites, which was aired for an hour or two) at least likely. By defining their criteria as “exclusively psychological” and by “follow[ing] philosophical precedents that have examined the epistemology of conspiratorial theorizing irrespective of its truth value”, the authors manage to define perfectly legitimate requests for information and perfectly valid criticism as conspiracist ideation. 

For the love of science, withdraw this article.

list of blog articles referred to above, appearing before the content analysis:

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

http://notrickszone.com/2012/07/29/australian-psychologists-claim-climate-science-skeptics-are-the-moon-landing-conspiracy-theorists/ 

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/discussion/post/1904675

http://manicbeancounter.com/2012/07/30/lewandowsky-et-al-2012-motivated-rejection-of-science-part-1/

http://manicbeancounter.com/2012/07/30/lewandowsky-et-al-2012-motivated-rejection-of-science-part-2/

http://talkingclimate.org/are-climate-sceptics-more-likely-to-be-conspiracy-theorists/

08/04/13

Dear Mr. Chambers,

Thank you again for your email and having consented forwarding of your message to Prof. Lewandowsky. I would like to confirm that your complaint has been sent to Prof. Lewandowsky, who has agreed to treat complaints forwarded to him confidentially and not to publish them or comment on them publicly.  He has agreed to this but has pointed out that they may become public through other channels such as FOI requests or through the university’s complaints procedure.

 Please allow some time for this investigation to be carried out. Thank you for your understanding. 

 Best Regards,

 Adriana Timperi Senior Editorial Assistant

On behalf of: Carina Paraíso Journal Manager

 

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