The Moon Hoax has Landed

The Paper by Lewandowsky Oberauer and Gignac NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science” (hereafter LOG12)

has finally been published in Psychological Science

The very fact of its publication proves that we deniers are guilty of counterfactual thinking, since everyone who bothered to read the paper in its prepublished form back in July 2012 was convinced that such a pile of Findus would never see the light of day.

How wrong we were. Here it is:

http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/03/25/0956797612457686

I’ve played “spot the difference” and found a few minor changes.

- “… a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that the CIA killed Martin-Luther King..” becomes “…a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that the Federal Bureau of Investigation killed Martin Luther King, Jr…”

- The belief falsely attributed to Jeff Condon is replaced by a totally different attributed belief. Instead of: “climate deniers believe that temperature records have been illegitimately adjusted to exaggerate warming (e.g., Condon, 2009)” we have “climate deniers believe that communists, socialists, and a ‘global elite’ have manufactured global warming as the ‘biggest scam in history’ (Sussman, 2010, p. 215)”.

- One odd unsupported non-sequitur is reworded: “By definition, denial is difficult to practice in the peer-reviewed literature” becomes “By definition, the peer-reviewed literature does not promote denial”. 

- And the claim that Steve McIntyre testified before the British Parliament has been removed.

Something I’ve learned from a careful reading of the text (others can look at the statistics) is that Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts are the real targets of the paper. I’ll explain.

Under the heading “Potential Objections” the authors state:

“We acknowledge that our sample is self-selected and that the results may therefore not generalize to the population at large. However, this fact has no bearing on the importance of our results: We designed the study to investigate what motivates the rejection of science in individuals who choose to get involved in the ongoing debate about one scientific topic, climate change. As noted earlier, this group of people has a demonstrable impact on society, and understanding their motivations and reasoning is therefore of importance”. 

The only earlier statement which can be interpreted as demonstrating that sceptics have a demonstrable impact on society reads as follows:

“Accordingly, climate-“skeptic” blogs have become a major staging post for denial, although blogs are also used by supporters of climate science to disseminate scientific evidence. The influence of blogs should not be underestimated: For example, one skeptic blogger (Steven McIntyre of the “Climate Audit” blog, at climateaudit.org) has triggered several congressional investigations, and one anonymous proscience blogger (“Deep Climate”) uncovered a plagiarism scandal involving a report skeptical of climate change for Congress, which ultimately led to the retraction of a peer-reviewed article. Popular climate blogs can register upward of 700,000 monthly visitors, a self-selected audience that is by definition highly engaged in the increasingly polarized climate debate.”

Steve is named, not for anything he’s said, but for the fact of having triggered investigations, and WattsUpWithThat is hinted at, but not named.

Steve’s criticisms of LOG12 are hinted at in an unexplained addition. After a long section discounting “Another objection that might be raised”, namely, “..the possibility that our respondents willfully accentuated their replies to subvert our presumed intentions” the following sentence has been added:

“The Supplemental Material also shows that the results are robust to the removal of potential outliers”.

We also get a hint that the unnamable Anthony Watts is on their minds with this:

“Conspiracist ideation is, by definition, difficult to correct because any evidence contrary to the conspiracy is itself considered evidence of its existence… Thus, increasing global temperatures are reinterpreted as being the result of government agencies selectively removing thermometers that show a cooling trend and retaining only those that show the “desired” warming trend.”

Unlike the dozens and dozens of irrelevant examples referring to tobacco, AIDS, assassinations, etc., this “conspiracy theory” is not referenced. That it is obviously an example of delirious paranoia is suggested by what follows:

“Sunstein and Vermeule suggested that instead of rebutting single conspiracy theories, scientists and policymakers should try to rebut many at the same time. This conforms with our finding that conspiracist ideation tends to be quite broad. Multiple rebuttals also raise the complexity of possible conspiracist responses (not only must there be a conspiracy to remove thermometers, but there must also be a conspiracy to launch a false “decoy” theory about the absence of a plane hitting the Pentagon on September 11 in order to detract from the real conspiracy, which was to destroy the Twin Towers, and so on)”. 

Attributing the belief about the selective removal of thermometers to Watts, and associating it with the “false conspiracy theory” theory about 9/11 might leave them open to charges of defamation. So the thermometer theory remains anonymous – a peer-reviewed Chinese Whisper.

The published version of the supplemental  material repeats the lie that the survey was publicised at skepticalscience, and at last reveals why Lewandowsky and Cook have persisted in this falsehood, despite the evidence of the Wayback machine, FOIA -released emails between Cook and Lewandowsky, and emails between Cook and myself. They say:

“All of the blogs that carried the link to the survey broadly endorsed the scientific consensus on climate change (see Table S1). As evidenced by the comment streams, however, their readership was broad and encompassed a wide range of view on climate change. To illustrate, a content analysis of 1067 comments from unique visitors to http://www.skepticalscience.com, conducted by the proprietor of the blog, revealed that around 20% (N = 222) held clearly “skeptical” views, with the remainder (N = 845) endorsing the scientific consensus. At the time the research was conducted (September 2010), http://www.skepticalscience.com received 390,000 monthly visits. Extrapolating from the content analysis of the comments, this translates into up to 78,000 visits from “skeptics” at the time when the survey was open (although it cannot be ascertained how many of the visitors actually saw the link.) 

For comparison, a survey of the U.S. public in June 2010 pegged the proportion of “skeptics” in the population at 18%.. “

But there was no link at Skeptical Science for the 78,000 sceptical visitors to see. All there was was Cook’s tweet. See:

http://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/lews-lies-2-trick-or-tweet/

since the survey was never publicised at Skepticalscience. They need to pretend it was, in order to justify the highly unlikely hypothesis that a quarter of the so-called “proscience” blog readers who filled in the questionnaire were sceptics.

A letter will be going off to Psychological Science pointing out this unfortunate inaccuracy and suggesting that the article be withdrawn.

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25 Responses to The Moon Hoax has Landed

  1. Don B says:

    I suppose this means The Economist believes the moon landing was faked. :)

    The editorial is titled: “Apocalypse perhaps a little later.”

    http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21574490-climate-change-may-be-happening-more-slowly-scientists-thought-world-still-needs

    The article about the failure of the earth to warm as much as climate models predicted is here:

    http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21574461-climate-may-be-heating-up-less-response-greenhouse-gas-emissions

  2. Climate Daily says:

    Reblogged this on Climate Daily.

  3. Skiphil says:

    Geoff, you and Barry are to be warmly congratulated for such major progress in bringing light to the Lewandowsky & Cook miasma:

    http://climateaudit.org/2013/03/28/lewandowsky-doubles-down/

  4. Seth Roberts says:

    “They need to pretend it was, in order to justify the highly unlikely hypothesis that a quarter of the so-called “proscience” blog readers who filled in the questionnaire were sceptics.”

    I don’t follow your reasoning. Surely Skeptical Science is almost entirely read by non-sceptics.

  5. bernie1815 says:

    Does the SI include actual comments and the source?
    As to skeptics visiting Skeptical Science, I do. However, and I believe others may feel the same way, I decline from commenting there because its stridency makes me believe that my identity would not be protected. Am I being paranoid?

  6. Ben Pile says:

    “The only earlier statement which can be interpreted as demonstrating that sceptics have a demonstrable impact on society …”

    It is remarkable that ‘bloggers have become the extent of the formal opposition to environmentalism. Environmentalists have needed an ‘other’ to explain the failure of climate politics. Especially so, since reflecting on what may have caused it to fail from within is so painful. The irony, of course, is that this *makes* climate scepticism, and elevates it. I can’t remember which old communist said it, nor the exact wording: ‘once you give something a name, you’ve won the argument’. I think this is perhaps one reason for the inability of green untellectuals to ‘engage’ in debate is because dialogue reveals their myths as just that.

  7. Ben
    A question I’ve raised a few times in comments at Climate Resistance, and which I keep meaning to explore further, is what Environmentalism arose in opposition to, before bloggers existed. I’ve traced the roots of a sociological tool called the New Environmental Paradigm to “Ark II”, a book from the seventies by Pirages and Ehrlich in which they contrast it with the Dominant Social Paradigm.
    It’s easy to see where they’re coming from. A dish of soft-left puritan disapproval of our materialist commercialised society, spiced with a dash of Kuhn – to be opposed by something pure, clean and Thoreau-ish.
    The New Environmental Paradigm, and it’s new version the New Ecological Paradigm,is just a battery of questions that everyone can “strongly agree” with when stopped in the street by a market researcher, of the type “the earth’s resources are limited”, we live on a fragile planet”, “I’d like to teach the world to sing”, etc.
    It’s feelgood social science for academics who are too busy advancing their careers to engage in the kind of politics they’d like to, if only they didn’t have this deadline…
    Once ecologists stop being researchers who get their feet wet in swamps, and morph into radical worriers about the fragile planet, their enemy is no longer the property developer or oil prospector, but anyone who thinks rationally. Which nowadays means bloggers.
    See you at New Left Project.

  8. Seth Roberts
    I’d guess a fair proportion of SkepticalScience’s regular readers are sceptics. But they’d naturally be among the most combative sceptics, interested in what the “enemy” had to say about them. How many of them would fall into what many readers of Tamino etc saw as an obvious trap?
    John Cook was keeping a record of opinions of commenters at SkS. Here are two comments of his from the Treehut Files:

    8 October 2010
    “a while ago, I added a bias field to the user database and a bit of code so as comments came in, I could specify whether the user was skeptics or warmest / proAGW / mainstream (still haven’t found a satisfactory term for our side). I only assign bias if its obvious from the comment. I haven’t done anything with that data yet, I’m not even sure why I’m doing it other than my obsessive compulsion to collect data. The other day, Steve Lewandowsky (cognitive scientist) asked if I had any numbers on the ratio of skeptics to warmists so I dove into the database and counted up around 100 assigned skeptics and around 400 assigned warmists.”

    6 October 2010
    “I’ve been having some intriguing conversations with Steve Lewandowsky who’s throwing cognitive experiment ideas at me to see what’s technically possible. Having a significantly sized group of people classified as skeptic or proAGW makes all sorts of interesting experiments possible.”

    You can see that the proportions (100 assigned skeptics and around 400 assigned warmists) correspond to the figures in the supplementary material. But the dates are after the end of the survey fieldwork, suggesting that Cook had no idea what Lewandowsky wanted of him. Note that Lewandowsky had already announced provisional results of his survey at Monash 23 September, and 8 October Cook is saying in a private email, “I haven’t done anything with that data yet”.

  9. DGH says:

    “To illustrate, a content analysis of 1067 comments from unique visitors to http://www.skepticalscience.com, conducted by the proprietor of the blog, revealed that around 20% (N = 222) held clearly “skeptical” views, with the remainder (N = 845) endorsing the scientific consensus.”

    According to bitly stats, the link that @skepticscience tweeted generated fewer than 76 responses – less than 10% of the total. But an analysis of comments on the site conducted entirely by the proprietor of SKS (without the benefit of peer review) suggests that “…their readership was broad and encompassed a wide range of view on climate change.”

    hmmm….

  10. Reposted from comments at

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/03/28/mcintyres-dissection-of-the-cook-lewandowsky-lyingdeceivingincompetence-complex/

    jorgekafkazar says:
    March 28, 2013 at 5:55 pm
    Did you ever notice that if you rearrange the letters in “What Lysenko Spawned” you get “Stephan Lewandowsky?”

  11. Mooloo says:

    Seth Roberts says:

    I don’t follow your reasoning. Surely Skeptical Science is almost entirely read by non-sceptics.

    What you and I would call non-sceptics.

    But these people think Pielke Jr is their enemy. Eli Rabbett and Josh Halpern consistently troll his blog as a result (and have a new friend in “Albatross”). This despite Pielke’s repeated insistence that he agrees with the theory that carbon dioxide is warming the earth, perhaps dangerously. He refuses to toe the official line, so must be a “sceptic”, despite not actually being particularly sceptical about the underlying science.

    So by Lew’s and Cook’s lights, perhaps 20% of SKS’s visitors are “sceptics”.

    Hilariously, they even managed to make Richard Betts a sceptical conspiracy theorist.

  12. Geoff, mooloo
    I have a slightly related question.

    Lewandowsky and co-authors state in their paper that they found 222 unique comments from skeptics (“comments from unique visitors”) for the month of September 2010, from a total of 1067 comments.

    I am looking at the Waybackmahine. I can see that Skepticalscience received far more comments in the past than it does now. Threads have, on an average about 25 comments per thread. And this is on average, and there were lots and lots of threads being posted back then, and several threads have >50 comments and a few have >100 comments.

    In Sept 2010, Skepticalscience actually had a total of about 3096 comments. (How do I know the number? We’ll get into that later). This corresponds closely to the posted comments on the site: ~2900 comments.

    Next, I went over a few threads from Sept 2010. They longer ones have comments no doubt – but they have the usual phenomenon going; a lone sceptic, or a couple, or at the most a handful, arguing with the regulars who appear, as is to be anticipated, greater in number. It is hard to see where the 222 unique commenting skeptics are.

    So, two things:
    The close to 3000 comments are available at the Skepticalscience website: from page (http://www.skepticalscience.com/comments.php?p=1290&t=84508&amp ;) to page http://www.skepticalscience.com/comments.php?p=1232&t=84508&amp ;). That’s about 58 pages of comments. These should have the 222 unique skeptical people. That would make it 7%, not 20%.

    Second, the numbers on their website just don’t add up to the description in the paper (3096 versus 1067). What analysis did Cook actually perform? Time to ask Cook for the raw data of the comment analysis?

  13. I didn’t put those smileys in there. :)

  14. dearieme says:

    Everybody knows that the JFK assassination was faked, to leave Kennedy free to assassinate MLK, after which he was free to impersonate Neil Armstrong and go to the moon, in preparing for which he learned some piloting skills that proved useful when he crashed a plane into the Twin Towers. Yes I do believe in Catastrophic Man-made Global Warming; why do you ask?

  15. alexjc38 says:

    There’s a good comment by Foxgoose (#32) at the latest post on “Shaping Tomorrow’s World”:

    http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/Recursive-Fury-Facts-misrepresentations.html

    I’ve saved a screenshot, just in case it vanishes (you know how these things happen). No sign of a response yet.

    https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=18AF3D68DF495B81!470&authkey=!AEO7JWmaaN_ssnc

  16. johanna says:

    Geoff, slightly OT, but can you (or another reader) steer me to a saved version of the notorious Table 3 in Recursive Fury? While I am not quoted by my real name (I don’t use it for reasons to do with the need for food and shelter) I certainly recognised one of the quotes attributed to me, but not the other. Since my memory is less than eidetic, it might be right. But given all the other howlers that have been exposed, I’d like to check.

    Thanks in advance.

  17. Skiphil says:

    a note on Lewandowsky’s incoherence, evident malice, and double-standards (cross posted with CA if I may):

    Since Lewandowsky is already on record (last Sept.) insisting that various bloggers should have perfect email records and recall for any unsolicited two-year old request(s) from his assistant Hanich, Lew has unwittingly set the bar very high for himself.

    While the skeptic bloggers had no reason in 2010 to know the name Hanich (or even Lewandowsky), or to care about a spammy request from the equally obscure Univ. of Western Australia, Lewandowsky reviles and ridicules them for not instantly sorting out the long lost details two years later.

    Yet, Lewandowsky and Cook, still cannot now after many more months, provide a precise, accurate accounting of the details of their own studies and email correspondence pertaining to such work.

    This is incompetence of a peculiar kind, drowning in hypocrisy, malice, and ignorance. The Cook-Lewandowsky team can be proud!

  18. Snafu says:

    @ alexjc38

    There’s a good comment by Foxgoose (#32) at the latest post on “Shaping Tomorrow’s World”:

    I’ve saved a screenshot, just in case it vanishes (you know how these things happen). No sign of a response yet.

    Comment removed completely with no explanation.

  19. alexjc38 says:

    @ Snafu, there’s now a moderator response under Barry Woods’s comment (#23): “Moderator Response: [JC] Mandas’ comment that contained an ad hominem remark has been moderated. I have also moderated a number of comments featuring accusation of deception or inflammatory remarks.”

    There is another moderator response that now appears to be missing (along with the comment accompanying it, I’m assuming): “Moderator Response: John Cook does not moderate at this site. Cease with that particular conspiracy theory; it is now OT.”

    Foxgoose responds (#39): “So, John, if you don’t moderate this site, who is the “JC” moderating today?”

    Darrel Harb (#40): “”J.C.”? It’s an Easter Sunday miracle!”
    :)

  20. steveta_uk says:

    “I only assign bias if its obvious from the comment.”

    “The other day, Steve Lewandowsky (cognitive scientist) asked if I had any numbers on the ratio of skeptics to warmists so I dove into the database and counted up around 100 assigned skeptics and around 400 assigned warmists.”

    So the 400 are commenters that Cook sees as having a warmist bias. How outragiously loony do you have to be for Cook to think you’ve got a warmist bias?

  21. steveta
    In another comment Cook complained that he didn’t have a better word than “warmest” (sic) to describe his position. A. Scott ad Shub Niggurath have been doing some analysis to try and establish the real proportion of warmists to sceptics at SkepticalScience. See Shub’s comment above.

    Sorry If I haven’t been replying. There’s been a lot going on, with letters to editors, etc. I imagine everyone’s seen Steve McIntyre’s post at ClimateAudit, which puts Barry’s and my interactions with Lew and Cook into a rigorously logical format. Steve can do things that I can’t, being a published climate science expert.

    Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible with the usual rudeness and vulgarity. Or maybe not. There’s a lot more to be said about Lew’s attempt to marginalise and silence us. It’s about freedom of speech as much as about conspiracist ideation.

    Lewndowsky is moving to England this week to take up a visiting professorship at Bristol University. This will certainly delay events, but I’ll post any relevant information that comes my way.

  22. JunkPsychology says:

    I have no idea where Cook got those numbers.

    Looking at the 287 commenters at SkS during September 2010 (they left 2933 comments), I found 189 warmists (leaving 2174 comments), 68 skeptics (leaving 716 comments), and 30 I couldn’t classify (who left just 43). 23.7% skeptical commenters, leaving 24.4% of the comments.

    My criterion for “skeptic” was very loose—I included anyone who seemed willing to buck the SkS party line on either science or policy. Not knowing most of the players, I looked only at comments from September 2010, not including earlier or later comments at SkS or appearances at other blogs.

    A Scott and Shub N have both done their own analyses, Googling commenters when they weren’t sure how to label them, and using a stricter criterion for “skeptic” (they both added a “lukewarmer” category).

    You can see all three analyses over at Climate Audit.

    It’s obvious from any such analysis that “Skeptical Science” was and is a dogmatic warmist site where any decent argument questioning the party line will be swarmed over by the resident CAGW proponents.

    It’s not where you would go looking for skeptics to fill out a survey. And of course there’s no evidence of the Lewandowsky survey being posted there.

    The only SkS comment from Lewandowsky during September 2010 was on another topic entirely; he never mentioned his survey, even after he’d given a talk about it that included preliminary results. His only comment that month was left on September 29.

  23. Pingback: Lewandowsky et al 2013: surveying Peter to report on Paul | Watts Up With That?

  24. Pingback: Lewandowsky et al 2013: surveying Peter to report on Paul – Shub Niggurath Climate

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