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IPCC Lead Author calls Lewandowsky “deluded”

Posted By Joanne Nova On March 22, 2013 @ 5:08 pm In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

People across the UK are rolling in the aisles in laughter.

Lewandowsky’s latest paper, “Recursive Fury” (which has just reappeared),  categorized a comment by Richard Betts under the heading “Excerpt Espousing Conspiracy Theory” (in the supplemental data). But instead of being a comment from a rabid tin-foil-hat skeptic, Betts turns out to be Head of Climate Impacts at the UK Met Office and an IPCC lead author.

When Betts was informed about this by Barry Woods, he tweeted “Lewandowsky et al clearly deluded!

Here’s the comment by Betts that Lewandowsky et al think demonstrates conspiracist ideation. Betts is pointing out how easily the authors of the original paper (claiming that skeptics-believe-the-moon-landing-was-faked) could have posted their survey link in places where skeptics were actually likely to see it. The Moon landing paper — after all — claimed to analyze skeptics but ended up getting results only from sites that were virulently anti-skeptic.

Richard Betts: “The thing I don’t understand is, why didn’t they just make a post on sceptic blogs themselves, rather than approaching blog owners. They could have posted as a Discussion topic here at Bishop Hill without even asking the host, and I very much doubt that the Bish would have removed it. Climate Audit also has very light-touch moderation and I doubt whether Steve McIntyre would have removed such an unsolicited post. Same probably goes for many of the sceptic blogs, in my experience. So it does appear to that they didn’t try very hard to solicit views from the climate sceptic community.”

In this debate there were literally thousands of comments about the moon-landing paper. What bad luck that of all the ones they could have chosen as “raw data” demonstrating their theory, they pick one from someone who clearly shows how blind their tool is? How unfortunate. As head of a UK Met Office group, is Betts driven by his ideology?

It rather exposes the banality of it all. Betts made a reasonable point, didn’t posit a conspiracy, yet Lewandowksy et al think it’s an example of “recursive fury”.

On twitter @richardbetts asked author John Cook to explain: Hi @skepticscience, why was my comment here  espousing conspiracy theory?! Thats just crazy. http://t.co/PKWfisgnEs

John Cook replied:  supplementary data for Recursive Fury are any comments *related* to particular theory. It’s raw data, not final paper.

Betts to Cook: You included my remark in list entitled excerpts espousing conspiracy theory. This means you think I buy conspiracy theory.  So are you now saying that you agree that my remark was *not* espousing conspiracy theory?

Lucia jibes:  Thinking Lew authors didnt try hard to solicit skeptic views = evidence of conspiracy ideation. The rule is: criticism of Lewandowsky = Conspiracy ideation

Richard Betts: I think therell be a few laughs about this at the office tomorrow! Anyway, bedtime - night!

Cook now says people are misrepresenting the paper (by quoting it exactly? oh how cruel), and claims he and the other authors got the header wrong, but not that their entire methodology is flawed.

Cook:  “One misrepresentation of Recursive Fury is that we accuse Professor Richard Betts of the Met Office of being a conspiracy theorist because one of his quotes appears in our raw data. This inclusion of a relevant comment in the raw data of a Supplementary Material document was reported in hyperventilating fashion by one blogger as a spectacular carcrash. However, there is no mention of Professor Betts in our final paper and we are certainly not claiming that he is a conspiracy theorist. To claim otherwise is to ignore what we say about the online supplement in the paper itself. The presence of the comment in the supplementary material just attests to the thoroughness of our daily Google search.

Nevertheless, I can see how this misunderstanding arose. The Supplementary Material features the heading “Excerpt Espousing Conspiracy Theory” referring to the excerpted quotes that we pasted into the spreadsheet. In hindsight, the heading should have been  ”Excerpt relevant to a recursive theory”, because the criterion for inclusion was simply whether or not they referred to one of the hypotheses. The analysis of conspiracist ideation occurred after that, and involved the criteria mentioned at the outset.”

As usual, we can only wonder at Cook’s use of English. (The abuse of which seems to be a recurring problem).

Who is misrepresenting what here? It’s hardly the fault of commentators if they are quoting the paper accurately. Welcome to the wooly world of Lewandowsky-Cook-analysis where exact cut and paste quotes are called “misrepresentation”. It is yet another example of how the pair abuse the English language. We think through our words, and this is not just a typo. When it comes to the core concepts we discuss, like “deniers” and “conspiracies”, if you can’t define your terms accurately, sloppy writing means sloppy thinking. (But then, sloppy thinking attracts it’s own rewards:  sloppy  grants, and sloppy  journalists). Two million dollars and mass headlines is not much of a “deterrent”.

Lewandowsky, Cook, et al will claim that they didn’t filter comments according to whether they were accurate criticisms or not, which is true, they  “made no comment on the merit of any criticism.” But that is rather the point. If people made an accurate criticism, and pointed out a true flaw, what use is a tool that labels them “ideated”?

The Brits, who recognise Betts instantly, fell about and found this utterly hysterical. They discuss the rehashed paper and this “car-crash” moment (as Bishop Hill calls it). See also Geoff Chambers’ blogJeff ID laughed to tears when he heard.

Enjoy.

 

h/t Barry Woods.

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