If psychologists want to be taken seriously, and want psychology to be called “a science”, they need to elect a director who knows what science is.
The Climate Study group in Australia published a half page advert in The Australian last week – Psychology and Climate Alarm: how fear and anxiety trump evidence. In reply, Prof Lyn Littlefield, Executive Director of the Australian Psychology Society wrote a letter to The Australian protesting — claiming that the Climate Study Group are the ones suffering from the confirmation bias they accuse climate scientists of.
“The advertisement, ‘Psychology and the New Climate Storm’ misuses psychology-based arguments to add credibility to myths and misinformation about climate change. In doing so, the authors illustrate aptly the very error bias (confirmation bias) they are erroneously attributing to the climate science community.”
It’s the “the pot calling the kettle black”, exclaims Littlefield. But since her arguments are entirely fallacies, this is the kettle calling the pot calling the kettle black. The Climate Study Group mentioned many scientific observations, and in reply Lyn Littlefield can’t find an error in any of them, she can only cite “the consensus”. So instead of using a thermometer to measure the temperature, she wants to use keyword studies in abstracts of publications, and pronouncements of sub-committees of scientific associations. Hey, it’s not like consensuses have been wrong before, or grants committees, journal editors, and scientists could possibly have any personal motivations, training deficits, or biases, right? But who would expect a psychologist to spot those…
Littlefield seems to think that scientists are robots. She talks of “vested interests” of the skeptics, but is blind to the 3500:1 ratio of funding for climate “belief”. Then she accuses skeptics of cherry picking and bias. It’s projection, projection all the way down.
The world cooled for 37 years while CO2 rose. Does that matter? No, says Lyn, the Royal Society was founded in 1662. Welcome to a conversation with a blind believer. Seriously, the good scientific psychologists need to speak up lest the fawning confused believers in their profession stay glued to the public mouth-piece. (Lucky Jose Duarte has spoken, and Littlefield should read his blog. Where are the other good psychs?)
Littlefield wants to talk “fallacies”, so let’s take her “jumping to conclusions” fallacy and raise it. Those who jump to assume long reports from human committees are “facts” are falling for the fallacy known as “argument from authority”. Real scientists look at the data — which is exactly what the Climate Study Group did.
The danger of believing press releases — there is a reason “argument from authority” is a fallacy
Littlefield seems to think that if an association issues a statement it’s an accurate reflection of the members, but these societies almost never survey their members. Those of us who understand the psychology of groups know that most associations speak on behalf of the six most motivated volunteers who signed up for the sub-committee on Climate Thingys. (You’d think, maybe, a psychologist might know that?) It’s just another reason the scientific method does not include “opinions of associations”. We have almost no evidence of what the members opinions are because no one asked them, and it wouldn’t matter anyway because it’s not evidence about the climate. (Perhaps we should start a new society to supplant the Royal Society for people like Littlefield — maybe the Royal Gossip or the Royal Opinion?)
Lucky Professor Littlefield, director of The Australian Psychology Society, does not assess surveys for a living, eh?
Surveys show there is no consensus among scientists
For the record if Littlefield did some (any) research before writing to newspapers, she’d know there are a few surveys of scientists but they pretty much all have devastating news for naive fans of a “consensus”. Empirical data shows only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, that 52% of meteorologists think natural causes are more important and only 43% of climate scientists (fergoodnesssake) agree with the biblical certainty expressed in the IPCC. Clearly skeptics outnumber believers, but as a scientist, I’d never use that to defend my views. It all comes back to real evidence instead — observations from stuff like satellites, sediments, ice cores and boreholes.
Define “climate science denial” — is that where psychologists deny the empirical evidence?
Littlefield understands that the work “empirical” is a good word to use to sound scientific. If only she knew about empirical climate data, instead of empirical data of online-anonymous-surveys. One sort of data matters:
There is a growing body of empirical research into the psychology of climate science denial, and a number of these characteristics are on display in the Climate Study Group’s advertisement.
The Climate Study Group can back up their statements with empirical data, which unequivocally shows that the models are wrong, the hot spot didn’t appear (even according to the IPCC), the surface stopped warming when it shouldn’t have, and the warming started long before it was supposed too (1680 versus 1900). Logically the “climate science deniers” are the ones who think 28 million weather balloons don’t matter, but ten anonymous responses in a survey of unskeptical sites do.
A real discussion we need to have is about the pathetic state of psychology
Are the successful scientists and corporate directors misusing psychology, or is it the psychologists misusing psychology?
There are questions the Australian Psychology Society really need to answer. “Climate denier” is an abusive form of namecalling; does it have a place in university psychology? It defies any literal definition; no one denies we have a climate and no one denies the climate changes. There don’t appear to be any people who fit the definition. Even PhD students of psychology (like John Cook) are being encouraged to use it. Does accurate English matter in psychology?
Does Littlefield think it’s OK for psychologists to generate derogatory media headlines based on three anonymous responses? Does she think it’s useful to survey sites that are hostile to skeptics to find out what skeptics think? (Would she survey Jews in order to understand what Palestinians feel?) Is it acceptable to claim that 78,000 skeptics saw a link to a survey on a site run by a co-author that never hosted the link? Does the APS care about truth, or does the ends justify the means?
These kinds of “climate” psychology studies start from the “consensus” fallacy (despite the empirical evidence that the consensus does not exist) . Do they serve the taxpayer, or is it just a way of improving propaganda in order to bilk the public for more big-government funds?
There’s a unspoken potential vested interest here. Corporates, miners, and skeptics don’t funnel much money on the climate issue to research psychologists because they know how pointless it is. Big-government however seems happy to fund psychologists who use the money to promote their own personal political (big-government) beliefs. Does psychology suffer from its own “confirmation bias”? Aren’t “climate” psychologists just government-funded activists in the Climate Change Scare Machine?
The evidence Littlefield either denies or is ignorant of is that the climate models depend on assumptions about feedbacks that observations have long proven to be false.
The models not only fail on global decadal scales, but on regional, local, short term,  , polar, and upper tropospheric scales  too. They fail on humidity, rainfall, drought  and they fail on clouds . The hot spot is missing, the major feedbacks are not amplifying the effect of CO2 as assumed.
–see the scientific references for those.
The consensus that doesn’t exist, depends on models that don’t work. Can anyone spot a problem?