theConversation

On May 13th, John Cook, PhD student at the University of Queensland, published this article at the Conversation
http://theconversation.com/the-things-people-ask-about-the-scientific-consensus-on-climate-change-59243

There were 414 coments in the next few days. 257 of them have since been removed by moderators

On 17th May 2016 the Conversation sent me eleven messages which all began as follows:

Hello Geoff,
Your comment on ‘The things people ask about the scientific consensus on climate change’ has been removed. There are several reasons why this may have occurred:
Your comment may have breached our communit standards. For example it may have been a personal attack, or you might not have used your real name.
Your comment may have been entirely blameless but part of a thread that was removed because another comment had to be removed.
It might have been removed for another editorial reason, for example to avoid repetition or keep the conversation on topic.
For practical reasons we reserve the right to remove any comment and all decisions must be final, but please don’t take it personally. If you’re playing by the rules it’s unlikely to happen again, so feel free to continue to post new comments and engage in polite and respectful discussion.

And they appended the removed comments, which were as follows:

1
No. We don’t know each other. Yet another false statement from the believers in the 97%. Though it’s true I have met Robin Guenier, who is a barrister and a very interesting chap. Disclosure statement; my brother-in-law sold him a lawn mower. I hope it’s working well.
2
“Nothing wlll be gained by continuing to engage with them.‘
What an interesting statement. “Don’t engage if you can’t gain anything.”
A perfect definition of the relation of 97% with those who they imagine to be the 3%; or of the predatory capitalist west with the “undeveloped” nations. Keep it up Alice. Your argument against engagement is most engaging.
3
You ask why we “deniers of action” are here. In my case, for the same reason that you post so often – because I care about policies I support. Those are generally socialist policies, involving ideas like social justice and the elimination of poverty. Proponents of AGW are the enemies of social justice, since they support billionaire hedge fund managers and their government subsidised investments in useless windmills and smart meters for Africans to be able to recharge their mobile telephones without having recourse to nasty fossil-fuel-based cheap efficient energy supply. Belief in dangerous AGW is not only mistaken – it’s evil.
4
Well get used to it, because COP21 envisages channelling a trillion dollars per decade to third world countries to buy stuff from China approved by Green Blobbers at the World Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Oxfam. If you think that’s going to happen without capitalists taking a rake off you’re either a full-blooded supporter of predatory capitalism or living in fairyland. Which is it?
5
”The evil you see is in actions that result from beliefs not from the beliefs themselves.”
I accept the correction in your last sentence. Those are wise words, and I shall try and remember them and quote them. My excessive statement was not aimed at children or saints, who may well be misled by what they read, or even at John Cook, who is probably a bit of both, (and also, like me, a would-be illustrator). I’m thinking – continually – of politicians with multi-billion budgets to spend; of heads of the Royal Society who don’t understand the nature of science; and even of Professors of the History of Science or Cognitive Psychology who think – I don’t know. That people who point out that they‘re wrong are worms to be trodden underfoot? One has assimilated us in a peer-reviewed paper to vile anti-semites. Who knows what they think? They don’t say.
6
You haven’t addressed Robin Guenier’s point.
Let’s accept for the sake of argument that quantum mechanics needs to be true for my computer to work. Well I just switched my computer on and it worked. In your world, I’ve just proved the theory of quantum mechanics.
On the other hand, my other computer doesn’t work. Can I have my Nobel prize?
What would count as evidence for AGW to be true, according to you? A big rise in temperatures perhaps? Bigger than before we started puttng greenhous gases i the atmosphere? Have you seen one?
What would count as evidence against AGW? A smallish rise in temperatures, hardly different from rises in the past? A pause of eighteen years? Nothing at all?
7
“My co-authors and I even participated in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on the online forum Reddit, answering questions about the scientific consensus.”
That’s not quite true, is it? You only answered questions you wanted to. Many other questions were wiped by Reddit, making nonsense of the title of their forum. What were the questions which were removed? Were they asked by members of the 3%, or by would-be climate scientists eager to test your theory that “you get rewarded if you prove an established idea wrong”? We shall never know.
8
Does the photo at the head of this article of alll those arms raised in salute have any connection with this photo?

9
I’ve never really bought the argument that environmentalism = fascism. Yes, there are similarities, but there are similarities between any contemporary phenomena. Think of the Workers’ Education Association, Boy Scouts and the rambling fad that had its heyday in the thirties, or fascist art in Italy and Germany and the very similar art in Britain, Australia and the USA at the time.
True, consensus is a theme common to fascism and to the subject of this article. It’s interesting to note how often in the literature of the thirties the writer emphasises consensus as one of the significant characteristics of fascism. I’m thinking of Nabokov’s lovely short story “Cloud, Castle, Lake,” but you can find it in the works of dozens of writers who escaped totalitarian régimes (Koestler, Canetti, Mann…) and even in Evelyn Waugh’s wartime trilogy.
Cook embarked on his attempt to establish the existence of a scientific consensus at the suggestion of his PhD supervisor, Professor Lewandowsky, who claims that there is evidence that people are more likely to believe something if they believe that everyone else believes it. What a strange view of the educator’s task! Particularly coming from someone who claims in a peer-reviewed article that one of us climate deniers called him a fascist zionist kike.
Of course, none of this explains why Cook distributed photos of himself dressed as a Nazi.
10
I haven’t either. How do you do it? I clicked on my name, but couldn’t see how to add a profile.
11
”All that I can see that Brad is doing is trying to cast doubt on all of the above by doing all he can to confuse the issues.”
That’s because you haven’t understood what Brad is saying. I wouldn’t boast about it.
Do you know what Oreskes did? Or Anderegg, or Doran and Zimmerman or Cook et al, to get their 97%s? Do you care? I once gave some details at a Conversation thread but my comments were disappeared.
The next ,day I received this

Hi Geoff,

Your account on The Conversation has been locked follow your posting comments with abusive and potentially defamatory content.

Regards,

Cory Zanoni Community Manager
cory.zanoni@theconversation.edu.au

I have replied to Cory Zanoni as follows:
In your mail justifying your decision to prevent me from commenting at the Conversation you accuse me of posting comments with abusive and potentially defamatory content. I assume this refers to the eleven comments on this article
http://theconversation.com/the-things-people-ask-about-the-scientific-consensus-on-climate-change-59243
which were deleted by the moderator the day before your decision to ban me. For simplicity I have listed the comments at this blog article, and I refer below to the numbers used in my blog article.
I have tried to identify comments which might be considered “abusive and potentially defamatory” and have identified the following:
comment 7 “That’s not quite true, is it?” addressed to author Cook
comment 8 which links to a photo of author Cook dressed as a Nazi
comment 9 which refers to the same photo, which was one of a series in which Cook and his collaborators apparently photoshopped photos of themselves in Nazi uniforms and put them up on the private part of their site SkepticalScience where they were discovered by Brandon Schollenberger. I took this information from this site
https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/06/skeptcial-science-takes-creepy-to-a-whole-new-level/
but the Conversation has established a rule that any comment citing this site (the world’s most popular scientific site) will be removed.
I note that accusing me of posting comments with abusive and potentially defamatory content is in itself potentially defamatory. I have indeed accused your second and third most frequent contributors of articles on climate change, John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky, of being liars and charlatans on my site, but not on yours. Neither are climate scientists. Both are liars and charlatans.
I am preparing a letter of complaint to my own university and to other British universities which finance your site. Your moderation policy, as evidenced by the comments removed on this article (numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 9) and on other articles demonstrate clearly that you are practising a policy of censorship of opinions which contradict the received opinion which your blog propagates: that opposition to current policies on climate change comes from the political right. As I indicated in one of the comments removed, I support the Communist party in France, where I have lived for thirty years.
Before I write to the universities which provide your financial support, I invite you to justify your claim that I have posted comments with abusive and potentially defamatory content. I look forward to your reply.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

New Blog: cliscep.com

Most of my blogging activity is being transferred to a new blog – a co-operative effort which we hope will expand to fill the space left by our previous individual blogs. I explain why at
http://cliscep.com/about/
According to the gas laws, if I remember correctly, the smaller the volume, the greater the pressure we should be able to exert. This blog will remain active for logging things too boring for the general public, like dissection of Lew papers.
My original idea was to dilute my activity in a joint venture in order to liberate time to spend on more worthwhile activities. But the buzz from coôperating with abunch of likeable people means it might not work out like that. Watch that space (not this one).

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Ubu President

President Hollande has just given a 25 minute speech to launch December’s COP21 Paris Climate Conference. It was such a monument of scientific, economic and geopolitical stupidity that I thought I’d preserve it for posterity here. Here are some extracts, which I’ll update and translate when I can.

A few points to note. He apparently believes that:
– the point of the conference is to reduce global temperatures by 2°C.
– smart meters, subsidies for home insulation, electric cars and public transport will make people richer
– the majority of refugees are fleeing climate change
.. and he’s calling on the Minister of Education to hold Climate Weeks in schools, with debates simulating COP21 and the election of “eco-delegates”…
__________________________________________________________

Aujourd’hui nous avons montré que notre pays était capable de s’engager pleinement pour la conférence sur le climat, la COP21. C’est sûrement la conférence la plus importante que   notre pays a reçue, au regard de son enjeu, mais également du nombre des délégués, des invités – ceux qui viendront parce qu’ils sont invités, et d’autres qui viendront même s’ils ne le sont pas. Des dizaines de milliers de personnes, peut-être encore d’avantage. Et je pense aussi à tous ceux qui seront reliés à un moment à la conférence par les nouvelles technologies, par l’internet et qui seront aussi vigilants.

Car il ne s’agit pas simplement de faire une reception, de faire preuve d’hospitalité. Nous pouvons avoir d’autres occasions de la montrer, cette hospitalité. Il s’agit d’être capable de réussir, de réussir ce qui est le rendez-vous surement le plus essentiel que le monde s’est donné a lui-même. Nous n’avons pas la prétention de penser que nous avions, parce que c’est la France, la capacité de réussir où d’autres ont échoué. Mais au même temps

il se trouve que c’est en France que cette réunion se fait. Et comme Laurent Fabius l’a dit, c’zst tard, c’est peut-être trop tard. Donc nous avons et l’urgence, et la durée. L’urgence parce que c’est maintenant qu’il faut agir, et la durée parce que ce que nous déciderons là à la fin de l’année 2015, c’est pour les 20, les 30 prochaines années que le monde va pouvoir décider d’engager.

Alors, quel est l’enjeu précis? C’est à la fois de réussir un accord – un accord universel, un accord durable, un accord contraignant – ça c’est le fondement juridique de ce qui va être décidé. Et puis il y a un autre enjeu qui est d’ailleurs lié au premier – c’est le financement. S’il n’y pas les annonces qui sont attendues – mais pas simplement les annonces, les preuves qu’il y a bien cent milliard de dollars à partir de 2020 et chaque année – alors il n’y aura pas de conclusion de la COP21, de la conférence de Paris.

Où en est-on aujourd’hui? Il y a des progrès. Ils sont minces, trop minces encore, et donc il y a une incertitude. Je ne dit pas ce mot simplement pour donner un coté mysterieux à ce qui va se produire et à créer une forme de suspense quant aux résultats. Non. Il y a à la fois des progrès et des inquiétudes. Le progrès est que la prise de conscience, elle a considérablement avancé.

Le cinquième rapport du GIEC qui a apparu il y a un an a sérieusement retreci le champ et le camp des climato-sceptiques et réduit leurs arguments à néant. On en trouvera bien toujours un qui nous dira que ce n’est pas vrai, mais il sera bientôt tout seul. Les scientifiques ont su depuis vingt ans rassembler tous leurs travaux – et je veux ici les saluer – pour montrer à l’humanité que le rechauffement climatique est, non pas un phenomène naturel, mais est lié à la combustion des energies fossiles et au comportement humain. Ça a été bien dit. Ce n’est pas la planète qui se dérègle, c’est le vivant qui est lui-même responsible de cette déterioration, et c’est lui, le vivant, qui est en cause.

[…]

Il est possible de réussir. Et puis nous devons être néanmoins lucides…. Mais nous ne pouvons pas néanmoins conclure qu’en aggregeant toutes ces contributions que nous serons bien dans l’objectif de réduire de deux degrées le rechauffement de la planète d’ici à la fin du siècle.

“Nous ne pouvons, nous ne pourrions pas, dire si nous étions interrogés que nous ne savions pas. Alors, je dirais, pour reprendre une formule qui a été hélas trop utilisée, le 21ième siècle sera solidaire ou il ne sera pas. C’est-à-dire, est-ce que nous pouvons marquer suffisamment d’actes pour que la solidarité puisse être réelle? ou alors il y a une risque pour l’humanité, et y compris durant ce siècle.”

… le nationalisme climatique est vide de sens. Nous sommes dans un mondialisation climatique. Alors…

Et puis il y a les forces spirituelles, les grands mouvements de pensée, les grandes confessions qui se sont engagées. Nous avons rassemblé – c’etait à la grande conférence économique et environnementale – ce qu’on appelait le sommet de conscience – comme si une conscience pouvait être à son sommet – mais c’était l’idée de là encore réunir, assembler les mouvements spirituels différents, mais en même temps portés par le même engagement, par la même conception de la vie, et c’était très important qu’il puissé avoir les textes qui pouvaient être publiés, celui du Pape était forcément un éveil de consciences particulièrement utile et entendu et qui va bien au-delà de l’influence simplement du Vatican et de l’hiiérarchie catholique.

“Nous devons combattre l’insouciance, l’insouciance est de ne pas connaître, et c’est la raison pourquoi il est très important que le ministère de l’education nationale puisse faire évoluer son programme des activités scolaire dans cet esprit et puisse aussi dans l’occasion de la conférence de Paris, simuler des négotiations dans les classes, dans les établissements, faire une semaine de climat, créer des eco-délégués dans les établissements scolaires, ceux qui vont porter cette belle idée, ceux qui vont diffuser ce qu’ils connaissent de l’enjeu..”

14’36”
Et puis il y a une autre risque qu’on connait bien, c’est l’insouciance. Il y a toujours dans l’esprit humain l’idée que nous sommes tellement puissants, nous, les hommes, les femmes, que nous pourrons toujours avoir la réponse au moment venu aux risques qui sont devant nous, aux ménaces qui nous gagnent, qu’il y aura bien une solution, un savant – il y en a beaucoup dans la salle – qui nous trouvera la réponse pour éviter de faire nous même l’effort. Non, il n’y a pas la réponse, il n’a pas de miracle. Il n’y a que ce que la science, la recherche, pourront faire pour atteindre l’objectif. Et à cet égard la conférence sur le climat, c’est une conférence de progrès scientifique, de culture de l’innovation, et de grande confiance justement dans la recherche et dans la science pour mettre les technologies au service de l’ambition qui est la notre.
Et puis il y a aussi – j’ai évoqué ce que peuvent penser un certain nombre de pays vulnérables, de pays pauvres, qui se demandent

16’15”
Et à l’échelle de notre propre pays il nous faut mettre en place des méchanismes pour que les plus modestes ne vivent pas la lutte contre le rechauffement climatique comme un risque pour leur pouvoir d’achat. Mais ça a été démontré. C’est avec les dispositifs que nous avons mis en place, des crédits d’impôts, des subventions, des certificats d’energie, tout ce que nous pouvons mettre en place pour que ce soit un gain de pouvoir d’achat – en plus d’être un gain de croissance – un gain de pouvoir d’achat lorsque les batiments sont isolés, lorsque il y a des compteurs intelligents, lorsque’on peut utiliser d’autres modes de transport que son propre véhicule personnel, lorsque les transports collectifs eux-mêmes peuvent être modernisés, lorsqu’il ya une prime pour les véhicules électriques – voilà ce que nous pouvons aussi apporter à travers la conférence sur le climat.

…et il ne faudra pas que l’urgence humanitaire à laquelle nous efforçons de répondre puisse éffacer d’autres urgences. Toutes les urgences sont finalement cohérentes entr’elles, hélas. C’est parce qu’il ya aussi des guerres qu’il y a des mouvements de population. C’est parce qu’il ya du terrorisme qu’il y a ces familles qui fuit. C’est parce qu’il y a des dicatateurs qui utilisent des armes chimiques que des populations cherchent un abri et une protection. Mais le plus grand nombre de déplacés, de refugiés, sont provoqués par le rechauffement climatique.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Lewandowsky on Sex and the Single Scholar

 

Joanne Nova was the first climate blogger to pick up on Lew’s peculiarities with this article

http://joannenova.com.au/2010/03/picasso-brain-syndrome/
which she followed up with this
http://joannenova.com.au/2010/05/name-calling-fairy-dust-conspiracy-theorist/

Joanne’s articles are responses to Lewandowsky’s articles at
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-03-11/33178
and
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-05-03/33900

Back in March and May 2010 Lewandowsky was already announcing the conclusions that he would draw from the survey that he was to conduct several months later, and Joanne in her articles brilliantly demolishes the paper which Lewandowsky was to publish three years later about the criticisms that Joanne and others were to make to the paper summarising the conclusions of the paper announcing the results of the survey that Lewandowsky hadn’t yet conducted.

From Joanne’s second article:

“Lewandowsky uses his Magic Fairy Debating Dust to preemptively stop discussions of climate science evidence. If anyone complains against any mainstream position on anything, he can define whatever it is as a ‘conspiracy theory’. Then his omnipotent powers as a cognitive scientist kick in. I quote: ‘The nature of conspiracy theories and their ultimate fate is reasonably well understood by cognitive scientists’ […] Lewandowsky uses  the name-calling to “poison the well” against people who don’t even believe in a conspiracy, but happen to also be skeptical…The “conspiracy theorist” smoke bomb is multi-purpose. Because it judges people, and not the physics, the ad hominem slur can be applied ad lib.”

I was struck by something Lew says in his first article:

“Anyone can experience this scientific consensus hands-on in a few seconds: Google “climate change” and you get nearly 60 million hits. Now go to the menu labelled “more” at the top, pull it down and choose the “scholar” option. 58 million hits disappear. The remaining scientific information will get you in touch with the reality on this planet…”

So far this is just the standard Lew argument from authority, but he follows it up with:

“…in the same way that applying the ‘scholar’ filter after googling ‘sex’ eliminates 500 million porn sites and leaves you with civilised discourse about sexuality.”

..which to my unscientific mind completely destroys his argument. Is he really saying that if you want to know about sex, a peer-reviewed article is the place to look? Or that a civilised discourse about sex is preferable to 500 million versions of the naked truth? And what does that tell us about the climate? That “civilised discourse” is better than raw data, preferable to facing up to the harsh reality of typhoons and floods and droughts, not to mention Mediaeval Warm Periods and the Roman Optimum?

We all know that “..spends a lot of time on the internet” is a transparent euphemism and a handy put-down. Is Lew trying to defend himself from some unspoken accusation?

Did he realise that his linking of climate sceptics with people who believe that Prince Philip is running the international drug trade is a fantasy too extreme even for one of the 500 million websites which cater to fans of extreme fantasy? Is that why a few months later he attempted to turn his fantasy into reality by contacting the readers of blogs run by his friends who share his fantasies, inviting them to participate in a survey?

Lew comes back to the subject in his second article:

“The conspiracy theory known as climate “scepticism” will soon collapse because it must be extended to include even the macrolepidoptera… Yes, the European moths and butterflies must be part of the conspiracy, because they mate repeatedly every season now, rather than once only as during the preceding 150 years. There will always be people who believe that Al Gore issues mating orders to butterflies via secret rays sent from Pyongyang.”

I typed “randy butterflies” into Google and turned up a measly 422 hits. Google Scholar produced none. So much for scholarship.

[Note to myself: Lewandowsky’s articles were published in March and May 2010. Both were updated 29th September 2010, a month after he’d launched his survey, and just a few days after he’d announced preliminary results at Monash University. That’s something for a suspicious-minded conspiracy theorist to look into.]

Posted in Stephan Lewandowsky | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Lew’s Conspiracist Classification Criteria

I intend to put up all my research on Lewandowsky’s new paper here as I complete it. I don’t expect many people to find it interesting. It is intended as a research tool for anyone who is preparing an analysis, a letter of complaint, or a scientific paper on the subject.

The full text of the “Conspiracist Classification Criteria” section of “Recurrent Fury” is reproduced as an appendix. I refer to Recurrent Fury” as RC2 and the original paper “Recursive Fury” as RC1.

I’ve already analysed the Conspiracist Classification Criteria of RC1 in the letter of complaint to Frontiers which I reproduced at https://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/lews-talk-costs-libels/

and in more detail at https://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/lews-thinking/

The Conspiracist Classification Criteria section in RC2 is essentially the same as in RC1. I note below the only significant changes – four of them. Bold type indicates a significant change, or text present in one version but not in the other.

1)

RC1: “First, the presumed intentions behind any conspiracy are invariably nefarious”

becomes:

RC2: “The first criterion is that the presumed motivations behind any assumed conspiracy are invariably nefarious or at least questionable

[comment: the toning down of the criterion renders it incoherent. So is it invariably nefarious or not? Obviously not, if it’s sometimes only questionable]

2)

RC1: “When presenting the results, we refer to this criterion by the acronym NI, for nefarious intention”

becomes:

RC2: “When presenting the results, we refer to this criterion as Questionable Motives, or QM for short

[comment: Description watered down pointlessly. Conspiratorial intentions are necessarily nefarious. It’s in the definition]

3)

RC1: “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. Accordingly, low trust (Goertzel, 1994) and paranoid ideation (Darwin et al., 2011) feature prominently among personality and attitudinal variables known to be associated with conspiracist ideation. The short label for this criterion is NS (for nihilistic skepticism).

becomes:

RC2: “Thus, nothing is at it seems, and all evidence points to hidden agendas or some other underlying causal mechanism. We label this criterion Overriding Suspicion or OS.

[comment: I pointed out somewhere that Geoertzel’s study found that conspiratorial beliefs were most prevalent among the young, blacks, and Hispanics, not in Lew’s target group of old white men. He had to go. I pointed out too that the word “paranoid” attached to a concept attached to named individuals was defamatory, so out it goes too. The word “nihilistic” was borrowed from a throwaway remark by Keeley in his philosophical musings on the meaning of conspiracy and just tagged on to “skepticism”. It’s science aping the worst sort of theology. Anything goes as long as there’s a source in scripture. Jesus wept. (John 11:35)]

4)

RC1: “’… the specifics of a conspiracy theory do not matter as much as the fact that it is a conspiracy theory at all’ (Wood et al., 2012, p. 771). Thus, the specific claims and assumptions being invoked by conspiracist ideation may well be fluctuating, but they are all revolving around the fixed belief that the official version is wrong. In consequence, it may not even matter if hypotheses are mutually contradictory, and the simultaneous belief in mutually exclusive theories – e.g., that Princess Diana was murdered but also faked her own death – has been identified as an aspect of conspiracist ideation (Wood et al., 2012). We label this criterion MbW, for “must be wrong.”

becomes:

RC2: “the specifics of a conspiracy theory do not matter as much as the fact that it is a conspiracy theory at all” (Wood et al., 2012, p. 5). We label this criterion Must be Wrong (MbW).

[comment: Steve McIntyre found, after intimidating and bullying Wood’s university with an FOI request, that the Princess Diana anecdote was baed on a sample of zero.]

So two or three of the changes correspond to criticisms made by McIntyre and me, and no doubt by others. Will our help be acknowledged in the supplemental material I wonder? Or did Lewandowsky come round to our point of view off his own bat?

Appendix: “Conspiracist Classification Criteria” section from “Recurrent Fury”

To process the corpus and to test for the presence of conspiracist discursive elements, we derived six criteria from the existing literature (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 first criterion is that the presumed motivations behind any assumed conspiracy are invariably nefarious or at least questionable (Keeley, 1999): Conspiracist discourse never involves groups of people whose intent is to do good, as for example when planning a surprise birthday party. Instead, conspiracist discourse relies on the presumed deceptive intentions of the people or institutions responsible for the “official” account that is being questioned (Wood, Douglas, & Sutton, 2012). This criterion applies, for instance, when climate science and research on the harmful effects of DDT are interpreted as a globalist and environmentalist agenda designed to impoverish the West and push civilisation back into the stone age (Delingpole, 2011). When presenting the results, we refer to this criterion as Questionable Motives, or QM for short (see Table 3).

A corollary of the first criterion is that the person engaging in conspiracist discourse perceives and presents her- or himself as the victim of organized persecution. At least tacitly, people who hold conspiratorial views also perceive themselves as brave antagonists of the nefarious intentions of the conspiracy; that is, they are victims but also potential heros. The theme of the victimization and potential heroism features prominently in science denial, for example when isolated scientists who oppose the scientific consensus that HIV causes AIDS are presented as persecuted heros and are likened to Galileo (Kalichman, 2009; Wagner-Egger et al., 2011). We refer to this criterion as Persecution-Victimization or PV for short.

Third, conspiracist ideation is characterized by “(…) an almost nihilistic degree of skepticism” (Keeley, 1999, p. 125) towards the “official” account. This extreme degree of suspicion prevents belief in 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 underlying causal mechanism. We label this criterion Overriding Suspicion or OS.

Fourth, the overriding suspicion is often associated with the belief that nothing happens by accident (e.g., Barkun, 2003). Thus, small random events are woven into a conspiracy narrative and reinterpreted as evidence for the theory. For example, the conspiracy theory that blames the events of 9/11 on the Bush administration relies on evidence (e.g., intact windows at the Pentagon; Swami, Chamorro-Premuzic, & Furnham, 2010) that is equally consistent with randomness. We label this criterion Nothing is an Accident, or NoA for short.

Fifth, the underlying suspicion and lack of trust 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 (Wood et al., 2012). In the case of LOG12, the “official” account is the paper’s conclusions that conspiracist ideation contributes to the rejection of science; and it is this conclusion that must be wrong according to this criterion. At that higher level of abstraction, it does not matter if any particular hypothesis is right or wrong or incoherent with earlier ones because “ (…) the specifics of a conspiracy theory do not matter as much as the fact that it is a conspiracy theory at all” (Wood et al., 2012, p. 5). We label this criterion Must be Wrong (MbW). Finally, contrary evidence is often interpreted as evidence for a conspiracy. This idea relies on the notion that, the stronger the evidence against a conspiracy, the more the conspirators must want people to believe their version of events (Bale, 2007; Keeley, 1999; Sunstein & Vermeule, 2009). This self-sealing reasoning may widen the circle of presumed conspirators because any contrary evidence merely identifies a growing number of people or institutions that are part of the conspiracy.

Concerning the rejection of climate science, a case in point is the response to events surrounding the illegal hacking of personal emails of climate scientists, mainly at the University of East Anglia, in 2009. Selected content of those emails was used to support the theory that climate scientists conspired to conceal evidence against climate change or manipulated the data (see, e.g., Montford, 2010; Sussman, 2010). After the scientists in question were exonerated by nine investigations in two countries, including various parliamentary and government committees in the U.S. and U.K., those exonerations were re-branded as a whitewash (see, e.g., U.S. Representative Rohrabacher’s speech in Congress on 8 December 2011), thereby broadening the presumed involvement of people and institutions in the alleged conspiracy. We refer to this criterion as Self-Sealing, or SS for short.

Posted in Stephan Lewandowsky | 2 Comments

Googling Lew: Repulsive Ferret Revisited

Lewandowsky’s claim to have anonymised the material in “Recurrent Fury” so as to render blogs and blog commenters unidentifiable is entirely false, as I discovered in five minutes on Google.
I’ve already quoted this paragraph from the article Lewandowsky wrote to announce the publication of “Recurrent Fury”:
http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/rf2015.html
“All content is anonymized and all quotations have been extensively paraphrased to prevent identification of authors. Similarly, the corpus of text underlying the analysis is no longer publically [sic] available. These step [sic] was undertaken to guard against intimidation of the journal…”
This paragraph is odd for a number of reasons. This must be the first time in the history of social research that the author has:
1) Admitted to deliberately altering his data
2) Deliberately hidden the source by suppressing names of websites and people quoted.
3) Boasted that the data isn’t available.

The other oddity is the reason given for doing so:
4) Frontiers gave as their reason for retracting the paper that: “the article categorizes the behaviour of identifiable individuals within the context of psychopathological characteristics.” Yet Lewandowsky gives a completely different reason for anonymising the data: i.e., “…to guard against intimidation of the journal…” and this despite the fact that the journal which retracted the original “Recursive Fury” paper stated that: “Frontiers did not ‘cave in to threats’; in fact, Frontiers received no threats.”

So the evidence for Lewandowsky’s thesis (whatever that is) now consists of a few extremely truncated extracts from quotations which have been “extensively paraphrased” from anonymous commenters at unidentified blogs.

(Someday someone is going to have to gently interrogate the Journal of Social and Political Psychology on the advisability of publishing research whose data has been doctored in order to protect the journal itself from intimidation. It might be justifiable in an article quoting people who’d infiltrated Islamic State or something. But in the psychology of climate scepticism…?)

In the meantime; I did a simple test to see if Lewandowsky had succeeded in his self-appointed task of protecting the weak and defenceless (science and its journals) against the mighty forces of the anonymised bullies, threateners and intimidators.

I had a look at the first five references to the data, (which Lewandowsky identifies by numbers in square brackets preceded by the letters DC) to see how anonymised it was.

First Reference. The first direct quote from the data (p150) is contained here:
“the concern was expressed that the LOG12 survey was (a) designed to link ‘skeptics’ with ‘conspiracy nutters’…” [DC3]

I typed into Google “conspiracy nutters” plus “September 2012”. The first hit was to an irrelevant article from 2007; the second to the PDF of the supplemental material to the “Recursive Fury” article, (which is as far as we know identical to the supplemental material to Recurrent Fury, but with sources of quotes named); and the third to the article at joannenova.com which is the source of the quote.

So at the first try I’d obtained all the data I need to demonstrate that “Recurrent Fury” is just “Recursive Fury” with some added interviews with undergrads. I’ve got all I need to harass, bully and intimidate JSPP into retracting Recurrent Fury. But in the interest of science I carried on.

The Second, Third and Fourth References to the data all quote the same data point, or quote, namely [DC79].

The Second Reference to the data quoted just three words “almost certainly” and “skeptics”. [DC79] so I left it alone.

The Third Reference quotes just two words “impression” and skeptics”. Lewandowsky’s analysis of this reference ends with: “…this was taken to imply that up to three quarters of those replies were ‘fake’ [DC79].”
Putting “responses were fake” + “September 2012” into Google turned up
1) https://climateandstuff.wordpress.com/2012/09/
which is a site which quotes and ridicules climate sceptics. Watts, McIntyre and JoanneNova are all mentioned, and McIntyre is quoted as saying: “around 20% identified themselves as “skeptic”, but some of these responses were fraudulent. The actual number of respondents appears to be much less than that. My guess is that over half of the “skeptic” responses were fake.”
2) “Recurrent Fury”
3) http://www.climateaudit.info/correspondence/lewandowsky/complaint%20uwa%20-%20material%20falsehood%20final.pdf
which is Steve McIntyre’s letter of complaint to UWA, reproduced from his website.‎
4) http://www.climateaudit.info/correspondence/lewandowsky/complaint%20defamation%20to%20frontiers.pdf
which is Steve McIntyre’s letter of complaint to Frontiers in Psychology, also reproduced from his website.‎

Discussion of the Fifth Reference [DC78] said:
“On 23 September it was reported that a further 48 participants had been identified who registered zealous support for free market ideology.”
Putting “a further 48 participants identified support for free market ideology” + “September 2012” into Google produced: first hit “Recurrent Fury”, second hit “Recursive Fury”, and third and fourth hits two other articles by Lewandowsky. He really has cornered the market in a certain kind of research.

So Lewandowsky’s claim to have anonymised the material in such a way as to “..guard against intimidation of the journal” is a monstrous failure, which doesn’t matter of course, since the supposed intimidation, or bullying, or harassment, of journals is nothing but a paranoid fantasy of Lewandowsky’s.

Likewise, the need to anonymise the material was another of Lew’s lies, since those of us defamed in “Recursive Fury” have been shouting from the rooftops about it. We’re not threatening journals or trying to suppress science. We’re trying to stop this vindictive charlatan from soiling the name of science and dragging those who have associated themselves with him (Bristol University, the University of Western Australia, the Royal Society, the Wellcome Foundation) down into the gutter with him.

Of course, it’s possible that Bristol University, the University of Western Australia, the Royal Society, and the Wellcome Foundation are quite happy where they are with Lewandowsky. But that’s another story.

Posted in Stephan Lewandowsky | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Mister <1%: Lew Screws Up Again

I’m browsing through the new Lewandowsky paper, and after just three pages have found some interesting anomalies. He says in his blog article at http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/rf2015.html

“… the corpus of text underlying the analysis is no longer publically [sic] available. These step was [I’m going to be sic again] undertaken to guard against intimidation of the journal…”

But in the “Recurrent” paper (p147) he says: “Credentialed scholars can obtain further information about the corpus by contacting the first author.”

At his blog he says: “Recurrent Fury reports an anonymized and greatly extended set of studies that builds on Recursive Fury. Specifically, Study 1 is an improved version of the study reported in Recursive Fury”.

“Greatly extended” might be a reference to the daft conspiracist identity parades known as Study Two and Study Three, but “improved version” suggests that some new analysis has been done. Yet in the article (p147) he says: “Items [i.e. of mentions of recursive theories] in the corpus of 172 recorded instances are referred to… below.”

Now the Supplemental Material to “Recursive” contained precisely 172 quotes, which is odd, given that the new study is an “improved” and “greatly extended” version of the old one.

There’s a change at Table 3. The list of first mentions of each theory has gone, together with the names of those accused ((almost always falsely) of being the first to put forward the theory.

If you’re not a credentialed scholar and a gentleman, you can still discover the names of the bullies and intimidators suffering from feelings of persecution by comparing Table 3 in “Recurrent” with Table 3 in “Recursive”, which is still available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3600613/

Or alternatively, read Lewandowsky’s blog article, which links to the Redfearn article which names me and Steve McIntyre as complainants and mentions “blogs managed by Anthony Watts and Australian Joanne Nova”, thus neatly getting back in the public sphere precisely the four names that were removed from the text of “Recursive” in its reworked “anonymised” version. Jackpot. Only the mysterious ROM has had his anonymity preserved in the new paper.

And there’s a new column, of “total number of mentions in the corpus” for each theory. This number varies from two to 37, with only two conspiracy theories scoring more than five mentions. And the grand total of mentions of conspiracy theories “in the corpus” now stands at 62.

The incomplete list of blogs which I put up at https://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/lewandowsky-timeline/ has a total of 4,613 comments in the relevant time period. The relevant blog articles by authors Lewandowsky, Cook and Marriott in the same period have a total of 2,666 comments. That’s 7,279 comments in all, of which rather less than one percent were conspiratorial. By an amazing coincidence, that’s precisely the proportion of the sample of the LOG12 survey who believed the Moon Hoax conspiracy which gave Lew the catchy title to the epic paper which set off this whole ghastly saga.

Update 18th July 2015

The UWA website which linked to the “Recursive Fury” paper since its retraction in March last year

http://www.psychology.uwa.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/2523540/LskyetalRecursiveFury4UWA.pdf

now links to the new paper and says this:

In July 2015, an article was published that reported the material from the original “Recursive Fury” together with two further studies that extended and confirmed the original findings…”

So the data for “Recurrent” is the same as the data for “Recursive”, only anonymised and altered to render it unrecognisable to a search engine.

Posted in Stephan Lewandowsky | Tagged , | 3 Comments