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