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.]

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6 Responses to Lewandowsky on Sex and the Single Scholar

  1. TinyCO2 says:

    You have to see Dr Lew as a symptom of the human tendency to lie to themselves and all around them if they have no idea how to solve a problem. They latch onto a cause and throw all their efforts in that direction to give the impression they’re doing something. If the effort has no effect, they don’t admit they don’t know the answer, they just redouble their efforts.

    Example – teen pregnancies. For a long time there has been a myth that teen pregnancies are caused by ignorance. Well, even apart from the ins and outs of actual insemination, that’s completely wrong. It’s been decades since many pregnancies were caused by not knowing how babies were made or about contraception. Explaining the facts of life to younger and younger kids will not solve the problem. Then all of a sudden the rate has started to drop. There are many reasons but one of them is the embarrassment factor of being seen to not know how babies are made. Another is the inhibiting nature of having a baby stopping you going out and getting pissed and a third is the rise on online lifestyles where although kids can view and create porn, there is often no exchange of actual bodily fluids. In other words- shame, hardship and separation. The exact ways former generations prevented unwed mothers.

    Dr Lew et al have no idea how to cure climate scepticism. Instead of tackling the hard job of determining really why it comes about they jump at an easy explanation. Since it’s not the right explanation the solutions don’t work. So they try even harder and achieve nothing. He’s trying to embarrass us out of our scepticism or at least prevent others from joining us. With teen pregnancies it can be a powerful tool but we’re talking about basic energy here. Nobody is going to be embarrassed into giving up a 21st century lifestyle for a dubious one powered by renewables predicated on flimsily demonstrated reasons.

    Irrespective of the truth, climate science is weak. I’ve tried to explain the difference between ‘true’ and ‘convincing’ to various warmists but they can’t see past their own prejudices to admit that their cherished science is not good enough. There is a recent international survey demonstrating that education and knowledge of climate science are not factors in key western countries in determining belief or scepticism. What they fail to see is that many people have gone past a generalised acceptance of science and realised that it can be flawed. We don’t reject the process of science, we reject the specifics. Thus it’s pointless to tar people with conspiracy ideation when they’re just responding to their own perceptions of an issue, sometimes deserved, sometimes not. Are there conspiracies? Sure there are. What are the most common? Covering up mistakes or sexing up plans that people are not going to like. What’s the name for someone who never suspects a conspiracy? Gullible.

    Dr Lew is part of a conspiracy to try and hide how shit climate science is and how inept and hypocritical its followers are. Climate, made made or otherwise, doesn’t even get a look in.

  2. Steve McIntyre says:

    Altermatt, 2010. Published in March 2010. Climatic warming increases voltinism in European butterflies and moths. http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/277/1685/1281.short

  3. I must admit I came here to find out whether something i suspected about Lewandowsky was true. So, I can’t get all pontifical and claim any moral high ground. But if you are hinting at what I think you are, then even Lewandowsky deserves his privacy (despite his own depravity toward decent human beings).

  4. Thanks Steve.
    I see Jones and Moberg get a mention. The author Florian Altermatt (≈ old flowery Alpine meadow – really) has data going back to the 19th century but only gives us pre- and post- 1980. Butterflies have found their Kinsey, but not, alas, their Havelock Ellis.

    Scottish Sceptic
    I don’t think I’m hinting at anything I shouldn’t be. I take it for granted everyone knows what a porn site is. I cut from the article an anecdote about when I was learning to draw, and bought a job lot of “Health and Efficiency” magazines from a market stall. The stall holder winked and said: “Doing a research project into naturism are we?”

  5. fritz says:

    Geoff,
    Est-ce que vous vous êtes inscrits dans le club des climato réalistes?
    http://www.skyfall.fr/?p=1611

  6. Ça y est, c’est fait. Et j’ai lancé un appel aux anglais residants en France à
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/unthreaded/

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