The following is an analysis of Table 3 in the paper: “Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation”: by Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook, Klaus Oberauer and Michael Hubble-Marriott. This table presents in summary form the findings of the main part of the paper, which is the content analysis of blog responses to the first Lewandowsky paper: LOG12 (here entitled: Moon Hoax) conducted by Cook and Marriott.
Thanks to Jo Nova for suggesting I undertake this fascinating task. There are certainly errors and omissions, and I’d be grateful for any corrections or suggestions.
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One thing Lewandowsky sort of got right in “Recursive Fury”, the second of his two papers about climate sceptics, was this, from p37 “Implications for science communication”.
“despite the amount of attention and scrutiny directed towards LOG12 over several months, the publication of recursive hypotheses [i.e. criticism by bloggers] was limited to posts on only 24 websites, with only 13 blogs featuring more than one post. This indicates that the recursive theories, [i.e. criticism] while intensely promoted by certain bloggers and commenters, were largely contained to the “echo chamber” of climate denial [i.e sceptic blogs]. Although LOG12 received considerable media coverage when it first appeared, the response by the blogosphere was ignored by the mainstream media. …Thus, although an understanding of science denial [i.e. scepticism] is essential given the importance of climate change and the demonstrable role of the blogosphere in delaying mitigative action [!], it is arguably best met by underscoring the breadth of consensus among scientists…rather than by direct engagement”.
Translated from Lewspeak, this means that the best way of dealing with criticism, of climate science or of whatever it is that Lewandowsky does, is to ignore it and keep on about the consensus, since no-one in the mainstream media is listening to the sceptics.
Though several people have independently sent detailed letters of complaint to the publishers of the two papers, there has been no overall attempt to describe in detail what is wrong with them, particularly with “Recursive Fury”, which, unlike “Moon Hoax” contains no statistical analysis and no hidden data. A proper criticism of Lewandowsky, his fellow authors, his publishers, and the University of Western Australia would be book-length. Such a thing may yet happen. In the meantime, here is an analysis of the heart of “Recursive Fury” – Table 3 and the blog content on which it is based.
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This is Table 3 (reformatted for ease of reading) together with the explanatory notes.
Summary of recursive -and at least partially conspiracist – hypotheses advanced in response to LOG12 during August – October 2012
ID Date Orig Summary of hypothesis Criteria
1 29 Aug JN Survey responses “scammed” by warmists NI, PV, MbW, SS
2f 29 Aug JN “Skeptic” blogs not contacted NI NS PV
3 3 Sep ROM Presentation of intermediate data NI, NS, MbW, UCT
4 4 Sep GC “Skeptic” blogs contacted after delay NI, NS, MbW, NoA, UCT
5 5 Sep SMcI Different versions of the survey NI, MbW, UCT
6f 6 Sep SMcI Control data suppressed NI, NoA
7f 10 Sep SMcI Duplicate responses from same IP number retained NS, MbW
8f 14 Sep SMcI Blocking access to authors’ websites NI, PV, NoA
9 Various Miscellaneous hypotheses See text
10 12 Sep AW Global activism and government censorship NI, PV, SS
Attribution is based on where and by whom a hypothesis was first proposed in public.
JN = Jo “Nova” of joannenova.com.au;
ROM = Anonymous commenter with pseudonym ROM at http://www.bishop-hill.net;
GC = Geoff Chambers (commenter at http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org);
SMcI = Steve McIntyre of http://www.climateaudit.com;
AW = Anthony Watts of wattsupwiththat.com.
NI = nefarious intent; `
NS = nihilistic skepticism;
PV = persecuted victim;
MbW=must be wrong;
NoA = no accident;
SS = self sealing;
UCT = unreflexive counterfactual thinking.
The table summarises the “discourse analysis” part of the paper, listing eleven conspiracist hypotheses (two of them subsumed under “various miscellaneous hypotheses”), identifying for each one: the first mention of the hypothesis; the person mentioning it for the first time; and the types of “conspiracist ideation” it exhibits. The letter “f” after the numbers 2, 6, 7, and 8 in the list indicates that the hypotheses are known to be false (according to Lewandowsky).
Definitions of the seven types of “conspiracist ideation” are in “Recursive Fury” pp10-12. I’ll be looking at these and Lewandowsky’s sources in a later article. For the moment, it’s worth pointed out how limited in number, relevance, and scientific content are the sources for his definitions of the seven forms of conspiracist ideation. For example, (Keeley, 1999) which is referenced seven times, is an opinion piece in a philosophy magazine. (Goertzel 1994) is an opinion piece by a retired sociologist in a microbiology journal. Diethelm and McKee (referenced nine times) are public health experts uniquely interested in the propaganda activities of the tobacco industry. I’ve dealt with the activities of Dr Swami (referenced six times in the paper, and listed four times at New Frontiers, in combination with others or alone, as peer reviewer of the paper) at
The second column of the table indicates the date on which the particular hypothesis was first put forward, and the third column the name of the person proposing it.
According to the Method section (Recursive Fury p8):
“…the present project was conducted in “real time” as the response to LOG12 unfolded, thus permitting a fine-grained temporal analysis of the emerging global conversation. Moreover, the tight focus of the response on a single paper permitted the content analysis to be quite encompassing while still remaining manageable in size. […] The second phase of the search traced the response to LOG12 in the blogosphere. An on-going web search in real time was conducted by two of the authors (J.C. and M.H.M.) during the period August-October 2012. This daily search used Google Alerts to detect newly published material matching the search term “Stephan Lewandowsky.” If new blog posts were discovered that featured links to other relevant blog posts not yet recorded, these were also included in the analysis. To ensure that the collection of hypotheses pertaining to LOG12 was exhaustive, Google was searched for links to the originating blog posts (i.e., first instances of a recursive theory), thereby detecting any further references to the original hypothesis or deviations from it.
Although the second phase of the search encompassed the entire (English-speaking) web, it became apparent early on that the response of the blogosphere was focused around a number of principal sites. To formally identify those sites, we began by analyzing the 30 most-frequently read “skeptic” websites, as identified by Alexa rankings. […] Each of those 30 sites was then searched by Google for instances of the name of the first author of LOG12 that fell within the period 28 August-18 October 2012…”
There are two major problems with this “fine-grained .. quite encompassing .. exhaustive” analysis.
1) The content analysis only begins on August 28th, while the earliest blog comments on the paper occurred on July 19th at Huffington Post (though without a link to the paper) and on July 29th at the Guardian, where a link was provided. Though there were 436 comments at the Huffington Post, and 1354 comments at the Guardian, little of interest seems to have been raised on these two threads. However, Notrickszone, BishopHill, Manicbeancounter and Talkingclimate all had articles with critical comments in late July or early August, eliciting hundreds of comments. Practically all the important criticisms of “Moon Hoax” had already been aired four weeks before Cook and Marriott started their content analysis.
2) By limiting their analysis to the thirty top sceptic blogs as measured by audience size (see Table 1 of Recursive Fury) Cook and Marriott ensure that they omit the important criticisms on threads of smaller sceptic blogs, such as Manicbeancounter and Katabasis, who did important work on this subject, as well as the threads on non-sceptic blogs where important discussions took place, such as the paper’s editor Frontiers in Science, and John Cook’s own blog SkepticalScience.The search term was also clearly unsatisfactory, since many bloggers misspell his name, and he was frequently referred to as “Lew”, while his co-author Cook regularly calls him “Steve”.
Among the most important threads eliminated by the search terms were:
(where on August 2nd Barry Woods first discussed the mystery of the missing link at SkepticalScience)
(where my question to John Cook elicited his untruthful claim to have posted a link to the survey at SkepticalScience, and where SkepticalScience author Thomas Curtis joined in the general criticism of the paper, denying any link between Lewandowsky and SkepticalScience).
(note: the article has been removed from this site, but is still available online at
and of course the ten articles at Shapingtomorrowsworld by first author Lewandowsky between September 3rd and September 19th, and the 12 articles by fourth author Marriott at Watchingthedeniers between August 24th and September 17th
* * *
The originators of the nine conspiracy theories are named as:
Steve McIntyre 4 theories
Jo Nova 2 theories
anonymous commenter ROM
(one theory each)
Given that the dates of the survey, the number of blogs surveyed, and the search term were all truncated in an apparently arbitrary fashion, the name of the persons responsible for first mention of a hypothesis might just as well have been pulled out of a hat. They clearly weren’t, though. Jo Nova has been a penetrating critic of Lewandowsky for many years; McIntyre and Watts are the most respected internet climate sceptics. McIntyre is referred to by name in the Moon Hoax paper, while Watts is clearly referred to, though not named, in the comment: “Popular climate blogs can register upward of 700,000 monthly visitors”. My inclusion might have been an act of spite by Cook for having put him on the spot about his non-linking of the Moon Hoax survey or it might be a pure random act, like the choice of ROM.
Lets look at the claims for priority for each of the hypotheses:
1. “Survey responses “scammed” by warmists” attributed to Jo Nova, 29th August.
This refers to her post at
where she says:
“Given that the survey audience was mostly alarmist (see the blog list above), and the survey’s intent was clear to commenters on those sites (see their comments below), its possible the team has “discovered” that some alarmist readers are prepared to fake the answers that they’d really like to see. The survey was so transparently designed to link climate skeptics with “conspiracy nutters” it would hardly be surprising if a percentage of alarmists readers of those blogs understood what was required, and dutifully performed”.
She’s quite right of course. But the same point had already been made by Ocoonassa at the Guardian on July 29th 2012:
“In fairness I’d have trolled the bejaysis out of that survey and I suspect I’m not the only one. Not only is the result not scientific because it’s a self selecting sample it’s unscientific because it happened in a virtual world which is full anonymous liars and jesters”.
and by me on July 29th at
“17% of respondents were manifestly p*ssing about. What proportion of the rest were doing the same, but entered a believable age (eg 10 or 95)? .. It would be so easy for a small proportion of the Tamino faithful to fill in spoof answers. No conspiracy needed”.
2. “’Skeptic’ blogs not contacted” attributed to Jo Nova, August 29th, and marked as false in Table 3.
In an update to the article linked above, Jo Nova says:
“Lewandowsky claimed he asked 5 skeptical bloggers to host the survey, but he refused to name them for weeks after that claim was made in the mainstream“.
It was Lewandowsky’s claim to have contacted Sceptical blogs which was false. The contact was attempted by his unknown assistant Charles Hanich, so searches for the missing emails using the name of Lewandowsky by sceptical blogs were fruitless. Lewandowsky unconvincingly claimed that he couldn’t release the names of the blogs he’d contacted for ethical reasons, and also failed to indicate that the emails had been signed by Hanich, not by Lewandowsky, causing dozens of sceptical blogs to undertake a fruitless search. JoNova, Anthony Watts at Wattsupwiththat, and Steve McIntyre at ClimateAudit and others acted in good faith in saying they couldn’t find the emails. Lewandowsky acted dishonestly in sneering at their fruitless efforts while failing to indicate the name of Hanich which would have resolved the problem.
In discussion of this hypothesis (Recursive Fury: p17) Lewandowsky says:
“The names of the ‘skeptic’ bloggers became publicly available on 10 September 2012, on a blog post by the first author of LOG12;
Steve McIntyre has convincingly demonstrated that this is false, and that the post in which Lewandowsky claims to have made the names “publicly available” was purposely backdated in order to support his claim of priority. See:
3. “Presentation of intermediate data” attributed to ROM, 3rd September
This refers to the fact that Lewandowsky presented interim results of his research at Monash University on September 23rd, while his assistant was still sending out reminders to Sceptical blogs inviting them to participate in the survey on September 20th or 23rd. Clearly, if a sceptical blog had posted a link, an entirely new wave of respondents might have resulted, changing radically the results. The fact that it didn’t happen doesn’t alter the fact that it is extraordinarily bad research practice to publicise interim results while data is still being collected.
On p. 19 of “Recursive Fury” is a quote:
“he didn’t send out final emails inviting his primary sources (sceptic blogs) to participate until September 20th. It almost seems as if he had decided on the number and nature of responses before the final data could possibly have been received” which is linked to
But this link is to a comment by Steve McIntyre on hypotheses 2 and 4, and on errors made by Lewandowsky in “Moon Hoax” where it was mistakenly claimed that McIntyre had “testified to the UK Parliament … as a blogger”. (These errors were corrected in the published version). There is no mention at all of hypothesis 3.
It’s in the comment immediately following that the quote attributed to McIntyre is to be found, and it’s made not by ROM, nor by McIntyre, but by Foxgoose.
However, Foxgoose can’t claim the honour of a place in table 3 as the originator of a conspiracist hypothesis, because three comments above McIntyre’s is a comment from MikeH which says:
“geoffchambers @ 3. This is your post at Skeptical Science at 19:01 PM on 4 September, 2012:
“McIntyre says he received the request from Lewandowsky’s assistant 6th September, (a week after the survey had been posted at Tamino, Deltoid etc) and a follow up request two weeks later. That brings us to 20th September. 23rd of September Lewandowsky gave a presentation at Monash University in which he anounced the results of the survey, with the current sample size of 1100 (i.e. after the elimination of false data and duplicated IPs). So three days after asking for cooperation in fieldwork, he’d processed the results and written his conclusions and announced them.”
So you already knew that McIntyre received the email on the 6th September.
What us – conspiracy theorists – never!”
So it looks as if I am the originator of the hypothesis, on John Cook’s own blog, and John Cook didn’t know, despite turning up on that thread and instigating a private email conversation with me.
(Except I wasn’t. I must have got the information about the Monash talk from someone else, possibly ROM).
4. “’Skeptic’ blogs contacted after delay” attributed to Geoff Chambers, 4th September
This perfectly true hypothesis is illustrated by a quote from Lucia Liljegren from her blog article at
Why it is attributed to me is a mystery
5. “Different versions of the survey” attributed to Steve McIntyre, September 5th
This is illustrated with a quote (Recursive Fury p.20) from Anthony Watts at:
“. . . the most troubling new revelation appears to be that some climate skeptic blogs got different questionaires [sic] than their counterpart AGW advocate blogs. . . . this negates the study on the basis of inconsistent sampling”
Lewandowsky claims that there were not different versions of the survey, but that:
“question order was counterbalanced between different versions of the LOG12 survey, [and] links to the various versions were quasi-randomly assigned to participating blogs..”
There are two falsehoods here. 1) Links were not assigned quasi-randomly. Sceptical blogs were offered one version, and “pro-science” blogs were offered a choice of two others, and told to toss a coin to decide which to use. That’s not random assignment. It’s slap-happy, devil-may-care sloppiness. The humblest street interviewer would get sacked for doing that on a dog food survey.
2) Claims about different questionnaires can’t be verified, since they are based on screenshots of the Kwiksurvey first pages, which only reveal that the first few questions were different. This may have been due to altering of question order, as Lewandowsky claims. However, proper “counterbalancing” which is his explanation for the different versions, would have involved altering the order of questions within sections, and also altering the “directionality” of the questions, and not merely reversing the order of whole sections. So either there are different versions of the questionnaires (with and without the “lifestyle” questions, for example) or the survey was not “counterbalanced”.
The story is complicated by the fact that Kwiksurveys, the free on-line survey company which administered the survey, was hacked in June 2012, lost a lot of data, and closed.
The only extant copy of the survey is one published by Graham of OnlineOpinion in an article at
which was quoted by JoNova at
Both Jo’s and Graham’s articles are dated September 6th (in Australia) but are quoted by Anthony Watts in an article dated September 5th (in California). Perhaps that’s why Lewandowsky gives the Watts quote priority in table 3, despite the fact that Watts starts his article with the statement:
“I’m a bit of a latecomer to this affair, as Lucia and Jo Nova took an early lead..”
Why he then attributes priority to McIntyre in Table 3 is another mystery.
6. “Control data suppressed” attributed to Steve McIntyre, September 6th, and marked as false
Though marked as false, this hypothesis is quite true. Among the suppressed data are: all the demographics; an indication of source blogs for each respondent, which would help clear up the mysteries surrounding the non-linking at SkepticalScience and the “unofficial” linking at JunkScience; the results for a question on Iraq WMD; and the results from a follow-up “control” group of <80 respondents recruited on campus at UWA in October 2010.
Lewandowsky deals only with the accusation of suppression of results from the UWA control group, quoting Steve McIntyre who asked at:
“What was the results of UWA staff who actually took the survey. Surely this would have made an interesting comparison group with the bloggers who are the target of the Moon-landing paper. It would have been a logical comparison. Was it done and discarded? If so, why? If it wasn’t, why wasn’t it done?”
Lewandowsky answers McIntyre’s questions thus:
“Because this invitation returned only a small number of respondents (N < 80), only the sample of blog denizens was reported in LOG12”. with a footnote: “The authors subsequently obtained a control sample via a professional survey in the U.S: This representative sample of 1,000 respondents replicated the results involving conspiracist ideation reported by LOG12 (Lewandowsky et al., 2013)”.
The reference is to:
“Lewandowsky, S., Gignac, G. E., & Oberauer, K. (2013). The role of conspiracist ideation and worldviews in predicting rejection of science. Manuscript submitted for publication”.
Well, that’s something to look forward to.
7. “Duplicate responses from same IP number retained” attributed to Steve McIntyre, September 10th, and marked as false
From Recursive Fury p.21:
LOG12 filtered the data such that whenever more than one response was submitted from the same IP address, all those responses were eliminated from consideration. This was stated in the LOG12 Method section available for download in August 2012 as “. . . duplicate responses from any IP number were eliminated.” Some members of the blogosphere interpreted this statement to mean that LOG12 “. . . accepted multiple responses from the same IP address as long as there was a slight variation in any answer”
Although this statement was initially qualified by noting that it was “only an interpretation”, this parenthesized qualifier was dropped from subsequent re-posts of the allegation by other bloggers. The re-posts thus presented the unqualified claim that multiple responses from the same IP address could be included in the LOG12 data”.
Translated fromLewspeak this means: “Steve McIntyre noticed that the term ‘duplicate responses from any IP number’ was ambiguous. Instead of providing the correct interpretation on-line, we kept schtum while we monitored bloggers’ discussion of what it meant in order to catch them indulging in conspiracist ideation”.
8. “Blocking access to authors’ websites” attributed to Steve McIntyre, September 14th, and marked as false
On the comments thread to
Steve McIntyre noted that access to Lewandowsky’s Shapingtomorrowsworld site and John Cook’s SkepticalScience seemed to be blocked, and speculated that it was being done deliberately, particularly as he managed to access them using “HideMyAss”. Other commenters reported that they, too, appeared to be blocked. Since some of them were not frequent visitors to these sites, it seemed unikely that this was being done deliberately. Steve McIntyre accepted the explanation offered, that access to Australia was temporarily unavailable and HideMy Ass could get through used a different route. Some commenters made clearly ironic comments that Lewandowsky had been blocking and unblocking access in an attempt to provoke conspiracy theories.
Steve McIntyre thought he was being blocked; there was considerable on-line discussion, as a result of which he decided he probably wasn’t. A hypothesis was proposed; an alternative one was proposed and accepted. A non-story. “Recursive Fury” devotes two pages of discussion to it, including a comparison to the 9/11 conspiracy theory.
9. “Miscellaneous hypotheses” attributed to “Various”
Two hypotheses were considered under this heading. Here is the full discussion of the first one (Recursive Fury p. 24) under my heading:
9.1 Tom Curtis’s criticisms as a false flag operation.
From Recursive Fury p24:
A regular contributor to the blog of the second author of the present paper (www.skepticalscience.com) posted a public critique of LOG12
While this post was welcomed and reposted by critics of LOG12, one commenter treated it with suspicion, arguing that: “In fact it looks more that your critisism [sic] of Lewandowsky article title was a false flag operation meant to confuse/ distract scrutiny of SkS [skepticalscience.com] dubious involvement in this unreliable survey. It failed. You have not shot yourself in the foot but somewhere else, more fatal”
This reasoning is reminiscent of the “decoy theory” just described in the context of 9/11 and illustrates the self-sealing nature of conspiracist reasoning (SS).
The first link in the above analysis is to the first of 23 critical comments on the SkepticalScience thread by Tom Curtis, a SkepticalScience author and moderator (i.e. a colleague of John Cook) who claimed (in his first three comments, (which followed in quick succession) that:
– ”Skeptical Science and John Cook are not associated with Lewandowski’s [sic] study”.
– That the evidence in the paper that “hardcore skeptics” were conspiracy theorists was “scary”.
– That “the title of the paper is not justified by the results, and is needlessly sensationalizing and offensive”.
– That “the claims being made about it by various deniers are entirely unwarranted”
– That I was a conspiracy theorist
There is much to be said about Tom Curtis’s interventions which will have to wait for another article. I’ll just point out here how:
1) By continually misspelling Lewandowsky’s name, even in answer to comments which spelt it correctly, Curtis can explain his inability to find him in a search of the site on which he is a moderator.
2) He made a number of spirited defences of “Moon Hoax”, mingled with a number of quite savage attacks.
3) John Cook turned up to contradict him about the association of SkepticalScience with “Moon Hoax” and then started an email correspondence with me, by the end of which Cook’s claim at SkepticalScience that “Skeptical Science did link to the Lewandowsky survey” had morphed into “I did post the link”.
The second link is to a reply by AnthonyofIndia to Tom Curtis on a different thread on a different subject. AnthonyofIndia is accusing Curtis of backtracking on previous criticism of Lewandowsky and of muddying the waters by his interventions.
[SkepticalScience blog owner Cook seriously shafted Lewandowsky in August 2010 when he promised to put up a link to his survey, then didn’t. SkepticalScience author and moderator Tom Curtis seriously shafted Cook and Lewandowsky in September 2012 when he denied the link between MoonHoax and SkepticalScience and started a long series of blog comments which caused much embarrassment at SkepticalScience and did much to raise his reputation among sceptics. By this time, when it had already been revealed that Lewandowsky and Cook had lied about the posting of Moon Hoax at SkepticalScience, Lewandowsky and Cook were already launched on the Recursive Fury project. There is much that remains mysterious about this, and which will be the subject of another article]
Here is the full discussion of the second “miscellaneous” hypothesis (Recursive Fury pp24-25) under my heading:
9.2 Moon Hoax as bait for Recursive Fury
A further hypothesis supposed that the real purpose of LOG12 was to provoke conspiracist ideation from climate deniers:
“Here’s a conspiracy theory for you: This is the subject of the study, not the survey. The reactions of the skeptic community to a controlled publication with obvious flaws, presented as caustically as possible and with red herrings presented for them to grasp at. There’s some evidence for this theory in internal mails at SkepticalScience, where John Cook can be heard talking enthusiastically about his discussions with Stephan about gaming blogs”
This theory inconsistently assumes (a) that LOG12 does not contain valid results, although (b) for this theory to be true, the conclusions of LOG12 (a positive correlation between climate denial and conspiracist ideation) must be true because otherwise no such expectation about the “skeptic” response can be formulated. Notwithstanding its inconsistency, the existence of the present article is consonant with this theory.
The quote is the abbreviated version of a comment by me, the first two sentences of which (up to “grasp at”) was my quote of a previous comment by Thomas Fuller. Because all Fuller’s comments had been removed by the moderator, they were reduced to quoting me.
But Fuller was not the first to propose this hypothesis. Back on August 3rd, long before Lew and Cook had started plotting their revenge paper, Omnologos had said at: http://bishophill.squarespace.com/discussion/post/1904675
“Damascene turnarounds by psychology students are very, very, VERY suspicious and most likely a front for future “gotcha!” papers demonstrating what a bunch of idiots the skeptics are”.
10. “Global activism and government censorship” attributed to Anthony Watts, September 12th is not the description of a recursive hypothesis, but a smokescreen attack on the article at
which reveals the close links between Cook and Lewandowsky, and a number of other comments about Lewandowsky’s funding, plus his requests for ethics approval for “Moon Hoax”. (No request for ethics approval was made for “Recursive Fury”). As the paper admits, it’s entirely irrelevant to the question of recursive theories – “that is, hypotheses that were spawned by LOG12 and pertained to the methodology and results of LOG12”.
Cook and Marriott made such a dog’s breakfast of their analysis that it seems a shame to return to it (Proverbs 26:11)
However, as a kind of Coda, and a hint for their next paper, here are just a sample of possible conspiracy theories which were put forward on just one of the blog articles they missed. From:
1. Lewandowsky was a regular blogger at the “pro-science” sites which linked to the survey (Barry Woods, July 29th 2012)
2. Lewandowsky is a conspiracist ideationist. Quote from the Moon Hoax paper: “..a small number of organizations and individuals have been instrumental in those contrarian activities..” (Geoff Chambers, July 29th 2012)
3. In November 2010 Cook and Lewandowsky conspired to place false sceptical comments at SkepticalScience. (Geoff Chambers, July 30th 2012)
4. Lewandowsky, Oberauer and Gignac conspired to utter a falsehood when they said in “Moon Hoax” that the survey was linked at SkepticalScience (Geoff Chambers, July 30th 2012)
5. The relation between Lewandowsky and the owners of the blogs where the survey was linked resembles a circle jerk rather than a relationship between scientists and science publicisers (Foxgoose, August 3rd, 2012)
6. The six blogs which linked to the survey do not generate sufficient traffic to have possibly produced 1300+ responses (Geoff Chambers, August 3rd, 2012)
and so on. An’
Mcintye’s name was mentioned in the ‘Moon Hoax’ paper, thus innuendo,
Impressive work, Geoff, what a remarkable slog through the dismal land of Lewspeak. I can’t take it all in right now but will be back soon for closer reading. As you say, it will take a book-length exposition to cover a fuller range of Lewandowsky et al. failings. I suppose it’s no surprise that a 4th rate academic like Lew found even dimmer bulbs like Cook and Marriott to carry his sludge.
Great work, Geoff. Incidentally, somewhat o/t but definitely related … I think you might enjoy this view from another Canadian (with a far greater reach than many of us Canucks!) He royally skewers Lew (and the RS amongst others!)
You’ve put a lot of effort in, Geoff, and it’s very necessary – but my first reaction to reading it was deep depression.
In every field of endeavour that I’ve ever been involved with – academia, engineering, publishing, advertising, finance etc etc – there was always an ethic that required obvious errors and untruths to be corrected. I was just something that professionals did as a matter of survival as much as integrity. Only politics seemed immune from this discipline.
It is beyond comprehension that the field where basic standards of truth and honesty have been most completely abandoned should be academia – the only field of human endeavour where “truth” was actually the end product rather than just a desirable concomitant.
On reflection, though, I think there’s light at the end of tunnel. Gradually we’ve learned to distrust politicians, businessmen, journalists, administrators – and now scientists have joined the list.
I don’t know about you, but before I buy any product now, I check the user reviews on Amazon; before I book a hotel or restaurant, I check user reviews on Trip Advisor and before I waste my time reading a piece if journalism, I skim the readers’ comments to see if they’ve caught the author out in obvious lies or disinformation. Now scientists have joined the list of the mistrusted and we scour the internet for the other side of the story – whenever they tell us something.
So really, the antics of the Lewandowskys, Manns & Nurses, combined with the convenient appearance of the interweb – have led us everymen back to the original 17th century Royal Society dictum – “Nullius in verbia”.
So it’s everyman for himself in the information game and I’m happy again.
Thanks Barry. Corrected.
A tour de force! Thanks for wading through Lew’s tortuous prose and pinning down his shifty evasions on our behalf!
Thanks to all for the encouragement.
Simon Turnill has put all the Lewandowsky-related emails which he obtained by FOI requests up at
I’ve got a couple of comments about them in moderation at ClimateAudit, quoting Lew’s opinion of Steve McIntyre. The main finding so far is that the UWA had a form letter ready which they sent out to all complaints, and Lewandowsky justifies his work thus:
“The good news is that my work has provided some reprieve for the climate scientists whom xxx would otherwise be persecuting instead.” (xxx is McIntyre).
If you are referring to the suggestion at BH from me that you undertake this post – I should clarify that I am not Jo Nova! Wish I was sometimes, though :).
Just thought I should clear that up, unless of course Jo also suggested this to you. But she always posts under her own, full name AFAIK.
Now I’ll go back and read your post, after pouring a stiff drink. Thanks in advance for going where a lot of people would prefer not to go.
OK, I have donned the hip-waders and waded with you. What a shambles!
The point about my two comments as cited in Table 3 being inaccurately characterised, which I mentioned at CA and BH, relates to the following.
My comment #41, posted at Shaping Tomorrow’s World, related – as the text in the table demonstrates – to the inappropriateness of presentation of results while the survey was still open. This is item (3) in Lew’s List of Sins, although at least he doesn’t have the gall to claim that it is unquestionably false. But the comment has been categorised as an example of (6) – control data suppressed, which he claims to be definitely false.
My other comment, #44, published at Bishop Hill, is along the same lines, and even cites the previous comment at STW. Again, it has been put into the wrong category; instead of (3) it is identified as (6).
These are such dumb errors that they would disgrace a first year undergraduate. I wonder how many more there are? And without getting into conspiracist ideation, once again we see errors which support the premise of the “researcher” – that dissenters subscribe to stuff that is just plain wrong.
Also, well done for pointing out the narrow time frame for sampling comments. I know I made earlier critical comments about the methodology (the lack of proper sampling in the original survey is a glaring problem that comes to mind) which were missed by this later example of lack of proper sampling.
I just cannot get my head around how this guy got headhunted and given a pay rise by Bristol University as part of a campaign to attract “excellent” researchers.
If it is feasible Geoff, it would be worthwhile sending an email with a link to the table and your post to at least some of the others cited for checking. I suspect that I am not the only one whose comments have been so sloppily dealt with.
Oops! Thanks for the correction Johanna-with-an-h.
Agreed. It would be great if everyone could check the quotes attributed to themselves. A mail as you suggest has already gone off, but I don’t imagine the likes of Lucia and Anthony Watts will want to waste many hours hunting down Lew’s (or rather Cook’s) false attributions of quotes.
We get an idea of what’s going on from the FOI emails I mentioned above. As the complaints flood in from late August, the admin people at UWA flap around trying to organise some kind of blanket response, while Lewandowsky provides a snide commentary – often from a conference in Switzerland or somewhere. See Foxgoose’s excellent comment at
About September 5th he’s already talking about his “team” that he’s got recording our comments. That’s Cook and Marriott, who did the donkey work – and donkey work they did. I’d guess the whole mess could be explained by their difficulty manipulating the Excel spreadsheet where they recorded all the comments – reading down the wrong column or something.
I don’t see how the declining trust in the professions is going to be rectified by the likes of user reviews on Amazon or Tripadvisor. The IPSOS/MORI trust poll has become one of the defining statistics of our society, as important as GNP or inflation. It was politicians’ desire to latch onto the trust enjoyed by scientists that got us into this mess. Imagining that you can run a complex society with a show of hands on the internet – it’s a nice populist libertarian idea, but as likely to succeed as the Levellers and the Diggers in the seventeenth century. The powers that be have spotted the power of the internet and tried to harness it with their zombie blogs. When they see how pointless it is they’ll find another way of asserting their authority. Lewandowsky says several times “I’m peer reviewed, and I’ve got the mainstream media on my side”.
You may well be right about the wrong attributions being due to technical ineptitude.
What is it with alarmists and their inability to use Excel?
A further thought – people like Lucia and A. Watts take slurs on their integrity very seriously. And I hope you included Steve McIntyre in your email round.
Here’s hoping that this is the stone that started the avalanche. – j
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