Lewandowsky on Sex and the Single Scholar


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

which she followed up with this

Joanne’s articles are responses to Lewandowsky’s articles at

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 , | 4 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.


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


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]


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


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]


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).


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)]


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.”


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”:
“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


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

New Triple-Thickness Lew Paper

Lewandowsky has a new paper out with co-authors Cook and Marriott, called “Recurrent Fury: Conspiratorial Discourse in the Blogosphere Triggered by Research on the Role of Conspiracist Ideation in Climate Denial”. You can read it at

Lew has a blog article about it at
and some FAQs on the same blog at
It’s simply “Recursive Fury” with the names left out, and the quotes (which were already frequently mangled, truncated, censored and misattributed) now reworded to make identification difficult using a search engine. To this Lew has added two “behavioral studies involving naive participants”. In other words, he showed some poor unsuspecting students some quotes which Cook and Marriott had identified as being conspiratorial (because they had the word “conspiracy” in them, or something) and some other quotes which Cook and Marriott didn’t think were conspiratorial, and, would you believe it, the students agreed with them!

Lew has falsely claimed in the past that the sole objection to “Recursive Fury” was that the subjects were identifiable. By hiding the names of the commenters and the blogs they were commenting on, and rewording the quotes to make them untraceable, he can triumphantly announce that his “new” paper demonstrates that some people once said something somewhere on the internet which some other people thought sounded conspiratorial. Or he would be able to, except that whereas the data for parts two and three of the study have been, or will be, made available, the data for part one, which is simply the data for “Recursive Fury”, won’t. So all we have is the false, defamatory Recursive Fury paper with the evidence for its falsity and the names of the people defamed left out.

But at least it no longer names his subjects, so it can be published without danger of threats, harassment, or bullying. Except that he then rather spoils the effect in his blog article by giving a detailed account of the story of the retraction of Recursive Fury, and linking to an article by Graham Redfearn at
which mentions Steve McIntyre as one of the writers of a letter of complaint to UWA; links to my blog article in which I reproduce my letter of complaint to Frontiers; and also manages to mention Anthony Watts and JoNova as well. So, lew and behold, the names of the four people defamed in table 3 of “Recursive Fury” and so carefully expunged by Lewandowsky from “Recurrent Fury” are back in circulation, named and shamed all over again.

Lew also links to the site at the University of Western Australia that used to harbour “Recursive Fury” after it was retracted for ethical reasons, but which now links to the new Lew paper, with added blind-tested strength.
So if you’re not one of the lucky 65,000 to have seen “Recursive” at Frontiers in Psychology, or one of the 13,000 to have downloaded it from the site of the University of Western Australia, at least you can have a good guess from Lew’s accompanying blog post at the names of the people identified in it as paranoid mental defectives.
Hey ho. Now I’ll have to dust off my complaint letter to Frontiers, add a couple of paragraphs, and send it to Journal of Social and Political Psychology. It’s no fun living with a persecution complex.

Posted in Stephan Lewandowsky | 1 Comment

Lew’s Lost Conspiracy

At the end of my post summarising Lewandowsky’s Recursive Fury” paper,
I presented the list of conspiracy theories found in the Supplemental Material, with the number of quotes supporting each theory.

There are 22 conspiracy headings in the Supplemental material, and only eleven conspiracies listed in the paper. Of course, there’s plenty of botching, as you’d expect from Cook and Marriot, who did the analysis. One theory – “Gravy train” -is listed twice, each time supported by one quote. Six other conspiracy theories are supported by just one quote. Only four theories are supported by more than ten quotes. They are:
1) Warmists faked data (38)
2) Methodology flaws (35)
3) Didn’t email deniers (29)
4) SkS conspiracies (15)

The first three are among the eleven or so (depending how you define them) conspiracy theories analysed in “Recursive Fury.” The fourth one, “SkS conspiracies”, isn’t. The fourth most frequently mentioned conspiracy theory in the Supplemental Material (the raw material for the analysis) mysteriously disappears from the paper.

The fifteen quotes under the heading of SkS conspiracies are listed at the end of this article, giving source and quote, or in the Cook/Marriott nomenclature, “Title; URL; and ‘Excerpt Espousing Conspiracy Theory’.”

Among the fifteen quotes under this heading, the greater number – numbers (1)-(5), all from the same BishopHill thread, plus numbers (9) and (11) – all stem from my observation (first noted by Barry Woods) that the Moon Hoax survey didn’t appear to have been publicised at SkepticalScience, contrary to the claim made in the paper.
(The latter two quotes, by me and Steve McIntyre, clearly assert that the survey wasn’t publicised at SkepticalScience. This point had already been raised at TalkingClimate, at SkepticalScience itself, and at Lewandowsky’s blog, Shapingtomorrowsworld. None of these three blogs were analysed in “Recursive Fury”.)

Of the others, (6) to (8) and (12) to (15) discuss the relationship between Cook/SkS and Lewandowsky, often using the term “conspiracy” ironically.
(10) is about UWA and completely off-subject.

Two of the quotes under this heading reappeared at Recursive Fury (p.26) under the heading “Beyond Recursion”, which discusses the supposed extension of conspiratorial ideation to include other actors, including SkS, the University of Western Australia, the Australian government etc. But all mention of the suspicion about SkepticalScience’s non-participation in the survey disappears down the Cook/Marriott memory hole, adding savour to the paper’s claim (p.31) that the reason for choosing these two non-scientific nonentities to conduct the analysis was to avoid accusations of conflict of interest.

Note that the very first quote under the “SkS Conspiracies” heading has been truncated, leaving out the very quotes from Cook which made my point. It’s hardly surprising that in this, his very first peer-reviewed paper, Cook should suppress material which portrays him as a liar and a star-struck wally in thrall to his scientist-hero. But, as the paper notes in the paragraph devoted to eliminating conflict of interest, “… the availability of these raw data enables other scholars to bring an alternative viewpoint to bear during any reanalyses.”



1) Comment by geoffchambers on Aug 31, 2012 at 11:06 PM
“I think the following quotes from John Cook’s emails to fellow authors on his private email threads demonstrate that Skepticalscience did NOT participate in the survey – whatever else Stephan and John may have got up to together.”

[Strangely, Cook missed this comment from me on the same thread:
(Aug 31, 2012 at 12:04 PM)
”Where did the respondents come from? Only at Tamino’s did the survey announcement provoke any discussion, where a couple of dozen regulars made largely critical comments about how difficult it was to fill in honestly. The obvious answer is Skeptical Science, but there’s no mention of it at the site, and John Cook (who had developed quite a crush on Lew) can be seen in a private email ten months after the fieldwork mentioning to a colleague the research that his mate Lewandowsky had done, as if it was nothing to do with him.”]

2) Comment by Foxgoose on Sep 1, 2012 at 1:30 PM
I think a real showstopper is SKS moderator & author Tom Curtis’ reply to Geoff at SkS:- “…. in my opinion, the title of the paper is not justified by the results, and is needlessly sensationalizing and offensive”. I wonder if Lewandowsky groupie John Cook agrees.

3) Comment by omnologos on Sep 1, 2012 at 11:39 PM
He even invented most or all of SkS involvement.

4) Comment by Richard Drake on Sep 2, 2012 at 9:51 PM
My post at SkS has already been deleted without trace together with all posts since the one following Geoff’s last post – including the one accusing me of being a tinfoil hatter. Mass deletions with no record or reason given. I think we now know the answer to the question we’ve been asking John Cook. Perhaps he’ll have to start a new sub-section for “Cookie’s Cock Ups”

5) Comment by Paul Matthews on Sep 3, 2012 at 10:11 AM
Yes, the thread at Sks makes fascinating reading as the liars tie themselves in knots. People might want to take a copy in case it mysteriously disappears. First we are told (#14) that “Skeptical Science and John Cook are not associated with Lewandowski’s study.” Then we are told (#15) that they did host the survey in 2011. Geoff points out that this doesn’t make sense (#16), and Cook changes his story in #15 to 2010, despite the fact that Geoff says he has already searched the Wayback archive for the relevant period and it’s not there. Foxgoose asks for clarification (#22) and is referred to back to Cook’s muddled and false answer. Geoff again points out the contradiction in #27 and #31 and asks why they would delete the survey. That’s an interesting theory – that Tom Curtis’s comments may be designed to allow a Gergis-style climb-down

6)Stephan Lewandowsky’s slow motion Psychological Science train wreck
The striking thing is that we have John Cook’s Skeptical Science blog listed as presenting both the original as well as the most recent survey. It as been discovered that Cook is a co-author with Levandowsky on a similar paper. One wonders how much Cook contributed to the questions, based on his understanding of his readers likely responses. It is strange irony indeed that the paper discusses “debiasing”, when so many potential biases in Lewandowsky’s methods are clearly obvious to even the casual reader.

7)Anatomy of the Lewandowsky Scam
An invitation was apparently also posted at Skeptical Science, a blog operated by John Cook, a close associate of Lewandowsky. However, Skeptical Science rewrites its history from time to time and the original posting, apparently deleted in one of its occasional pogroms, is no longer online.

8)Lewandowsky update
from the buddy of John Cook at Un-Skeptical Pseudo- Science

9)Comment by Geoff Chambers
On 3 Oct 2010 Cook informs his colleagues: “..then I got involved with Steve Lewandowsky and some of his cognitive colleagues who is very interested in the phenomena of science blogging and they’re planning to do some research into the subject that I’m going to help them with”. 6 October 2010 he tells them: “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.” It makes no sense that he should be informing his fellow authors that he’s going to do something he’s just done two months ago. I therefore conclude that the survey was not publicised on Skeptical Science, and the eight blogs who are said in the paper to have provided respondents therefore shrink to six. How Lewandowsky managed to get 1300+ respondents from Tamino’s, Deltoid and Scott Mandia’s is a mystery he should be asked to explain.

10) The Cook-Lewandowsky Social-Internet Link
That’s quite a little activist organization they have running out of the University of western Australia. I wonder if UWA officials realize the extent that UWA has become a base for this global climate activism operation and if they condone it?

11) The SkS “Link” to the Lewandowsky Survey
In my opinion, the evidence is overwhelming that SkS never published a link to the Lewandowsky survey. In my opinion, both Cook’s claim to have published a link and Lewandowsky’s claim to have seen it are untrue. But even if Cook did post a link and then destroyed all documentary evidence of its existence, the situation is equally unpalatable. Update: Both Lewandowsky’s University of Western Australia blog shapingtomorrow and John Cook’s skepticalscience blog appear to have blocked me. Other readers report that they can access these sites, but here’s what I get.

12) BS detectors
The ‘conspiracy’ among green climate bloggers has been further revealed by the leak of John Cook’s secret forum (link). SkepticalScience seems to becoming the ringleader for conspiratorial activities by the green climate bloggers. All this is high entertainment for those of us who follow the climate blog wars. But take a step back, and consider how bad this makes you look, and how poorly it reflects on the science and ’cause’ that you are trying to defend.

13)Lew – a few final thoughts
He’s buddies with John Cook, he of climate alarmist heaven Skeptical Science fame

14) Skeptical Science conspiracy theorist John Cook runs another survey trying to prove that false “97% of climate scientists believe in global warming” meme
I felt this to be an important step to protect the recipient. From the language and pre-selection filters imposed, clearly there is no further doubt about the connection of John Cook’ s Skeptical Science effort to the advocacy disguised as science going on at the University of Western Australia with Stephan Lewandowsky.

15) Lewandowsky: ethical considerations for “moon landing denier” paper
http://www.australianclimatemadness.com/2012/10/lewandowsky-ethical- considerations-for-moon-landing-denier-paper/
This conclusion is lent weight by the close association between Prof Lewandowsky and the Skeptical Science web site, which is well known for ridiculing and demeaning anyone (including respected atmospheric and climatic scientists) who questions any part of the AGW consensus. Examples of the tone employed include sections entitled “Lindzen’s Illusions”, referring to MIT Professor Richard Lindzen, “Spencer Slip-Ups”, referring to Dr Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, Huntsville to name but two.

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Keep the Coal in a Black Hole and the Gas up Rusbridger’s Wassname

I was idly surfing the English language TV news channels looking for reactions to the Greek crisis, and came across two science items. In the first the presenter was interviewing a science correspondent who was holding a cuddly furry toy polar bear.
“Robust, robust, robust!” I thought she said, but it turned out she was talking about robots, so I switched channels and landed on another presenter interviewing another science correspondent. Here’s a rough transcript from memory:

Interviewer: So what’s in a black hole?
Science Correspondent: Well, until recently scientists couldn’t see many black holes since they’re hidden in massive gas clouds that you can see here. Now thanks to the new NASA telescope launched in 2012 we’ve discovered billions more..
Interviewer: So could you explain to viewers exactly what is a black hole?
Science Correspondent: Well, this may seem like rather obscure physics, but thanks to this new technique using high energy X-rays, we can see through the dust, which led to the discovery of Wi-Fi, so it’s really of enormous benefit…

I may have got some of the science wrong. Maybe it wasn’t WiFi that was discovered thanks to the search for black holes but frozen pizzas, but that doesn’t affect my argument, which is this:
How can you take seriously the explanations of a science correspondent who can’t understand a simple question like “What is it?” or “What’s in it?”
Suppose the subject had really been frozen pizzas and he’d been the cookery correspondent. Failure to understand the question “What’s in it?” would have got him the sack. But this is science, and science can’t be wrong, or irrelevant, or bonkers.

And the relevance to the subject of climate change, and to my disenchantment with the subject, is this:
Day after day someone like Andrew Montford at http://bishophill.squarespace.com/
reveals someone saying something wrong on the internet, or on the BBC, or in a declaration by the Royal Society, and day after day his attempts at clarification or correction are met with insults and obfuscation, never ever with a straight answer.
You can view the Bishop Hill blog, or the internet, or life itself, as a long unwinding courtroom drama with a verdict at the end where good men and true will announce the truth and the world will move on. Most of Montford’s fans seem to see things like that, but they’re mostly scientists, or at least people with a respect for scientific method and the rules of logic. You can call such people rational human beings, or, if you want to be rude and philosophical about it – “naïve realists”.
If they ever trouble their heads with philosophy, they’d probably agree with Wittgenstein that “the world is what it is and not another thing” and leave it at that – the corollary of Wittgenstein’s dictum being that if you point out to people who think the world is something other than what it is that they’re wrong, they’ll change their minds.
Those of us (arts graduates mostly) who realise that the world is not like that look for other explanations, other motives, and find them rather easily in the domain of psychology. Describing belief in catastrophic man-made global warming as a religious cult, or mass hysteria, and its proponents as liars, charlatans, eco-fascists, fruitcakes or (a new favourite among certain commenters at Bishop Hill) leftist scum – is fun, but ultimately pointless, since it eliminates all possibility of rational dialogue, and can only reinforce the warmists’ often-expressed belief that we sceptics are all liars, charlatans, Big Oil shills, fruitcakes and rightwing scum.
Some of us are, but not all of us. (But that’s the kind of admission that can only lead to more insults, which could bring me back to the Greek crisis – and it will in a minute – but I want for the moment to stay with that interview with the science correspondent.
A more fruitful pathway to an understanding the utter irrationality of the climate non-debate would be a sociological study of the warmist phenomenon. Tiny footsteps are being made in this direction by professional social scientists like José Duarte at
and less successfully, it seems to me, at Nottingham University. See my harsh and no doubt unfair criticism of Amelia Sharman at
and most successfully, as far as I know, by Rupert Darwall. See

My couch surfing which led me to the two interviews of science correspondents suggested to me a more fundamental explanation than mass hysteria or religious fervour. Could the unthinking acceptance of warmism – largely an Anglo-Saxon phenomenon – have deeper roots – in our attitude to science (and knowledge in general) and in the deformation of the language itself, caused by a wilful ignorance of basic rules of grammar and syntax – things like: a sentence of the form: “What is it?” requires an answer of the form: “It’s…”?
Demanding that a scientist holds a cuddly toy while explaining advances in robotics is so typical of media dumbing down of science that we don’t notice how odd it is. But hey, cricket is complicated too, but most sports reporters leave their teddy bears in the dressing room.
We demand (or rather, the media demands) that scientists keep it simple, but we don’t demand what any primary school teacher would demand – that they answer the question “What is it?” with a description of what it is, and not another thing.
I surfed on, and did find an item on Greece. It was the BBC’s Robert Peston blow-drying his hair below the Acropolis while meaningless garbage dribbled from his lips. This is a top economics correspondent, and what he said made no sense. Couldn’t he have gone back to his hotel room and written down what he wanted to say, if necessary delivering his message in front of a colour photograph of the Parthenon? I know he has a reputation for being peculiar, but does acceptable eccentricity extend to uttering nonsense?

I know I’m just a grumpy old man, and I’ve been criticised here for my grammatical mistakes – significantly by Maurizio Morabito, who writes as well in English as he does in Italian. And therein lies a clue.

I yield to no-one in my contempt for the news coverage of French TV (with the exception of the excellent France24 English language channel) but last night the two rolling news channels BFMTV and I-télé did an excellent job of covering the Greek referendum. For months they’ve been covering the Greek story with ten second shots of Varufakis getting on and off his motorbike, sandwiched between more interesting stuff like heatwaves and football. But yesterday was a referendum, which is a bit like a football match, and while waiting for the result the studios were filled with experts, journalists, politicians – even some Greeks. There was even a spokesperson for the socialist government dragged from her bolthole.
As usual, they all spoke at once, and as usual, the politicians, who don’t speak English, and therefore can’t follow events at
or at
were abysmally ignorant. But at least they all spoke in grammatical sentences, even when exchanging insults. The result was discussion, debate, politics – the fundamental particles of culture and civilisation. Anyone caught burbling would have been drowned out by his interlocutors and not invited again.
A politician in France who fails to accord an adjective correctly is ridiculed and considered unfit for high office. A prole-ish accent will get you ridiculed in England, and the better interviewers on BBC Radio 4 will sometimes demand that the interviewee answer the question, but as for forming connected thoughts in grammatical sentences, just see almost any transcript at Alex Cull’s

Don’t stop me if I’ve said this before (repetition is a privilege of the senile):
The great Austrian journalist Karl Kraus, who ran a journal called Die Fackel between the wars upholding the purity of the German language and denouncing stupidity in all its forms, was once challenged by a friend: “The Japanese are busy massacring people in Manchuria, and all you can worry about is whether people put their commas in the right place.”
to which Kraus replied:
“If people put their commas in the right place, then the Japanese wouldn’t be massacring people in Manchuria.”

Wrong but Wromantic. (And apologies to Maurizio for my erratic placing of brackets.)

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