JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Dear John, you want “deniers” to help you do a fallacious survey eh?

John,

Thanks for the invite to assist with the crowd sourced online survey.

Unfortunately I just can’t see this working.

1. The survey is profoundly anti-science, it’s exactly the kind of thing I debunk on my blog. Consensus is the stuff of politics, not science. Science is not a democracy, and we don’t vote for the laws of physics, which are either right or wrong and not “97% popular”. Hence, any answer you get in this survey (and it appears you already have the answers) has got nothing to do with understanding the climate of Earth. It may possibly be helpful in psychosocial analysis of groupthink in modern science, or the effect of monopsonistic funding on scientific progress, but that brings me to problem 2, even if it were useful for that, you are not the researcher to study that. See point 2.

2. You still refer to us as “deniers” in much of your work. You admitted there was no such thing as a “climate denier” a few months ago (albeit after five years of using the term), but you have not adopted a more useful name, or apologized for abusing the English language. Clearly you think skeptics are [...]

Royal Society calls Lewandowsky “outstanding”, gives him money, loses more scientific credibility

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky

Over Easter, psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky moved from Perth to Bristol  (lucky UK). He’s the psychologist who is expert in an imaginary group of humans called “Climate deniers”. Neither he, nor anyone else has ever met one but he discovered their imaginary motivations by surveying the confused groups who hate them. As you would, right?

None of the so-called researchers can explain what scientific observations a climate denier, denies. It’s an abuse of English, profoundly unscientific, but has some success in shutting down public debate, if that’s what you want.

Can humans change the weather and stop the storms? If you know we can, Lewandowsky calls that “science”. If you wonder “how much”, you are a denier.

The Royal Society, possibly reaching a tipping point in its rush to abject scientific decay, has immediately awarded him the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. It’s effectively a top-up on his salary for the next five years, just in case the UK might lose him. While Australia is grateful, scientists everywhere, cry. Hat tip to Geoff Chambers

[The Royal Society]

Value and tenure

The scheme provides up to 5 years’ funding after which the award [...]

Lewandowsky, Prof of Psychology, thinks the Labor Government doesn’t benefit if he calls their opponents “stupid”.

Stephan Lewandowsky’s work is a case study in government funded inanity. Some Australians are sure that burning coal will make storms stronger. Others are not convinced. In November 2012 Lewandowsky’s intellectual contribution to science in Australia was to call the unconvinced “stupid”. If that’s not inane enough, at the same time he claimed that he didn’t recieve funding from any organisation that would benefit from his article.

How many taxpayer dollars went towards funding that? No conflict of interest?

Are Australian Research Council funds used as a form of third party advertising for Labor Government policy?

Writing in “A storm of Stupidity, Sandy, Evidence and Climate Change” on The Conversation, his reasoning is like this: some scientists reckon that a very bad storm called “Sandy” has “links” to man-made emissions of a trace gas. Lewandowsky reasons that because those scientists are called “experts”, anyone who questions them should be called stupid. (He thinks this article and that tweet were overdue). Though, in a twist, apparently he doesn’t actually think the unconvinced are actually stupid, he thinks they are ethically “disembodied” people who “mislead”. (As an aside, notice how he approves of news articles that call them stupid even though [...]

Lewandowsky, Cook claim 78,000 skeptics could see conspiracy survey at Cooks site where there is no link

The MoonLanding paper is finally here. Eight months after Lewandowsky was so sure he had a “peer reviewed” conclusion that he announced his results in The Guardian and The Telegraph , the paper has finally been published.

Lewandowsky et al claimed to show skeptics are nutters who believe any rabid conspiracy like the “moon-landing was faked”.  Their novel method for discovering the views of skeptics involved surveying sites frequented by those who hate skeptics.

The survey questions included conspiracies likely to appeal to a small percentage of conservative or free market thinkers, and largely left out conspiracies that would appeal more to supporters of bigger government (like the idea that the rise of “climate denial” was a big-oil funded conspiracy). It studied big-government conspiracies and ignored big-corporate ones. There are gullible conspiracists who also believe in global warming, but there was no danger this survey would find them. The survey bias was so obvious, even alarmist commenters said they feared few “denialists” would take it. The results that were headlined in newspapers were based on a tiny sample of ten respondents to an anonymous online survey. Not surprisingly Lewandowsky’s university (UWA) received many complaints about ethics, methods, and the dismal quality [...]

Unpaid students to review AR5. This is rigorous expert science right?

The Risk Monger (David Zaruk) was astonished to receive an advertisement from the Dutch government looking for 60 young PhD students to help with the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

They salary is “none”. But they are not just looking for any old student. You don’t need experience, but to qualify you need “an affinity with climate change”. I guess they are not looking for skeptical students who feel an affinity with logic, reason, and empirical evidence?

The reasons for asking the unpaid students is actually described as an “ambitious plan” to do a “thorough review” because there were “errors in the fourth assessment report…”. O.K.

The Risk Monger:

Maybe I am jumping to conclusions, but with all of the mess of the last IPCC Assessment Report (including a non-scientific WWF campaign document predicting the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers getting through the review process and becoming one of the IPCC’s main conclusions), shouldn’t they try to do a more rigorous review process this time around? Students, working for free, are not perhaps the ideal choice of reviewers needed to challenge the experts

What troubles the Risk-Monger more here is that many environmental activists are working on their PhDs and [...]

IPCC Lead Author calls Lewandowsky “deluded”

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 [...]

Three times as many Australians think the ABC has a pro-Labor bias

The ABC will declare that “most Australians don’t think the ABC is biased” but while half the nation thinks it’s balanced, 30% don’t know, and of the 20% who are sure there is bias, there are three times as many who think it’s pro-Labor as those who think it’s pro-Coalition. Bear in mind ABC1 only has about 10% of the Australian audience, so 90% of the nation prefers to watch something else. Did the survey ask respondents if they watch the ABC? We might find that of the 20% of the population who are familiar with ABC coverage, most think it’s biased to the left.  With some probing questions, we might also find that people of different political persuasions define bias very differently. Could it be that those more likely to vote for the Coalition tend to value free speech even if they don’t agree with the views?

On the other hand those more likely to vote Labor or Green seem to think balance means skeptics shouldn’t speak at all. Is their idea of bias just “if the ABC allows skeptics to comment”. The Centre for Independent Journalism had a whole forum devoted to asking whether “balance” meant they still [...]

ABC, Dr Helen Caldicott sinks to mocking the unwell, Monckton calls for her to be deregistered

Helen Caldicott and the ABC have excelled themselves in the Art of Ad Hominem. So much so, that Christopher Monckton is not only writing to the ABC, but also to medical registration boards as well, calling for Caldicotts’s de-registration.

On ABC Radio National (about 25% into the program). Reader Steve, writes that “Helen Caldicott declares that climate change sceptic Christopher Monckton has “got thyrotoxicosis and bilateral exophthalmos”. She gives the impression that such conditions should prevent Monckton from engaging in the public debate. Waleed Aly said nothing to stop Dr Caldicott’s ad hominem attack on Monckton’s alleged medical condition.”

Is she not aware Monckton had Graves?

Caldicott is a doctor and also the co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, “an organization of 23,000 doctors”. [See her Bio]. Perhaps she thinks it would be “socially responsible” to start a show where panels of doctors speculated on the medical conditions of celebrities they had never met? They could make fun of fat politicians and disabled sports stars? What fun. How about the laughs of picking on Stephen Hawking?

Stephan Lewandowsky could be a regular guest, pronouncing that non-Labor-Green fans were paranoid conspiracy [...]

Lewandowsky’s “research team”. Who is Mike Hubble-Marriott?

The fourth name on the new Lewandowsky paper is Mike Hubble-Marriott, from “Climate Realities Research, Melbourne”. What isn’t listed on the paper, is that Mike’s “climate research” is published under the anonymous moniker of Mike, on a site called WatchingTheDeniers A site incidentally, which is linked in the paper. Perhaps they ought to have disclosed that?

Climate Realities Research has no website, it doesn’t appear to be a registered business, and Googling doesn’t shed any light on it. Just how serious is his research?

“Mike” gave it away on The Conversation blog a long time ago, sort of, saying “my real name which is Michael Marriott – thus, any charges of anonymity can be dealt with.” Hubble-Marriott, or Marriott, what’s the difference? Hmm. (See Watching the Deniers) In his other life, he worked for a law firm as an information services manager. Perhaps he still does? But now apparently he’s a climate researcher. OK.

I’m not fussy about qualifications, there are plenty of Profs who can’t think. But Lewandowsky and Hubble-Marriott think qualifications are all that matter. Hypocrisy anyone?

Mike commented on this blog in March 2010 as “Mike” on this thread, but in the end failed the logic and [...]

Wipeout poll. Labor down 6 percent. Polls swinging wildly

In the last week, Australia was flooded or burned, Gillard called an election 9 months ahead, two of her highest ranking party members said they would quit, Gillard cut down a long serving senator to pop in her “captains pick” candidate, and one of her former party members was arrested with 150 charges to be laid. Labor is back to the polling territory it spent most of last year at — a 32% primary vote and the Greens at 9%.  But these polls are swinging wildly.

I can’t think why Gillard likes this uncertainty, and doesn’t call an election immediately…

The Australian:

The poll puts Labor’s primary support at 32 per cent – a wipeout of the six-point gain recorded between December and January – as the Coalition’s support rose four percentage points to 48 per cent in the past three weeks.

With the Greens steady on 9 per cent and “others” going from 9 per cent to 11 per cent since the poll in January, the two-party-preferred figure has the Coalition back with a huge election-winning lead of 56 per cent to 44 per cent.

Ms Gillard’s support as preferred prime minister fell four percentage points from 45 per [...]

Monckton returns to Australia, book now… :-)

He’s dangerous. During his last Australian tour he debated at the National Press Club, and a phenomenal 9% of the polled audience changed their mind in an hour. Fifty university academics (including Lewandowsky) tried to get Monckton banned from speaking at a university. Activists were so scared they intimidated a few venue operators into canceling his speeches at the last minute (but the show always went on bigger and better somewhere else).

Monckton was escorted right out of Doha after speaking the bleeding obvious from the floor, he leapt from a plane in Durban, and he convinced the prof who wanted to execute skeptics to withdraw it with an apology.

GetUp are so afraid Australians might hear more of Monckton and people like him, they panicked and ran a whole ad campaign packed with conspiracy theories at the mere hint that libertarians might like to set up a Fox news equivalent in Australia. The travesty!

It’s an election year, we’re subject to a heatwave of weather propaganda. It’s the perfect time for Christopher Monckton to make an entrance, and right now he’s on a plane on the way. Officially the tour starts in South Australia, on February 2. See the [...]

American Geophysical Union – cheat, deceive, steal, “It’s OK”.

The American Geophysical Union – can it be saved?

Seriously: the 2012 Convention included Mann, Gleick, Lewandowsky, Oreskes and Cook.

If you are one of the 58,000 members, you could ask yourself if you want to be aligned to an organization that thinks “science” means sometimes you need to impersonate someone else, steal their documents, and hide your own data. Is it AGU science if you use algorithms so badly that you could replace your data with a phone book and produce the same result? What if your data is used upside down? The AGU thinks you should speak twice.

Is it the AGU’s idea of “rigorous” if you make headlines out of irreproducible results that use flawed samples, fake data, and issue a press release months before your paper is even ready to be published? Is a sample size of ten in a self-selecting internet poll enough to publish a paper? Do you find out the opinions of one group by interviewing the people who hate them, but then present the results as if you surveyed the first group? Is it OK to call people who disagree with you insulting names? John Cook does, and he was invited [...]

Parncutt Death Threat: Uni of Graz “shocked”, Monckton gets it withdrawn with apology. John Cook says nothing.

Christopher Monckton and many other skeptics have been writing to Prof Richard Parncutt who had posted a dissertation telling us “logically” influential climate skeptics should be executed. (His words recorded at Webcite). Below, Monckton points out it is a hate-crime, and he will begin notifying Austrian prosecutors, Interpol, the International Criminal Court, and possibly Australian authorities too. In response, Parncutt unconditionally apologizes and withdraws the suggestion. [For some reason, lots of people can't see anything at this link, but it works for me. Try cut and pasting < http://www.uni-graz.at/~parncutt/climatechange.html?]

Meanwhile, does John Cook seemingly endorse care enough to post or even tweet or email an objection to the original shocking threat that skeptics should recant or die. So far, no? His ad hominem ambush site (misleadingly called “SkepticalScience“)  was referred to as “evidence” by Parncutt. (See also Debunking un-SkepticalScience). Five posts have gone up since Christmas, WUWT has heard from Dana (of Cook’s site), yet neither Dana nor Cook has not issued a single sentence indicating that he doesn’t think killing skeptics is a good idea.* (Dana apparently says privately, We of course don’t agree with giving denialists the death penalty, which is good to hear, though Dana’s baseless namecalling [...]

Maurice Newman fights back: No slur is too vicious for Robyn Williams and the ABC

When Robyn Williams recently equated skeptics to paedophiles on the ABC “Science” Show the skeptic-most-targeted was Maurice Newman, former chairman of the ABC itself. Newman responds to these deplorable and unscientific insults in today’s Australian and throws down the challenge to the current board.

ABC clique in control of climate by: MAURICE NEWMAN From: The Australian December 18, 2012 12:00AM

On November 24, Robyn Williams intoned to his audience on ABC’s The Science Show, “if I told you that pedophilia is good for children, or asbestos is an excellent inhalant for those with asthma, or, that smoking crack is a normal part and a healthy one of teenage life, you’d rightly find it outrageous. Similar statements are coming out of inexpert mouths again and again, distorting the science”. My article was given as an example of an anti-scientific position.Really? Questioning climate science is like advocating pedophilia, abetting mesothelioma and pushing drugs to teenagers? Well yes, according to the ABC’s science man. Stephan Lewandowsky, a guest on the program, asserted that those with a free market background were, according to his research, more likely to be sceptical of science. As well as climate science, “they are also rejecting the link between [...]

BREAKING: Skeptics equated to pedophiles — Robyn Williams ABC. Time to protest.

Hat tip to Graham Young editor of Online Opinion.

“That is worse than anything Alan Jones said. ” Follow Graham Young on twitter.

A bad-taste joke by Alan Jones in October created a national storm. These comments in the “science” show were supposedly considered, deliberate and researched.

This morning on the “science” show Robyn Williams equates skeptics to pedophiles, people pushing asbestos, and drug pushers. Williams starts the show by framing republicans (and skeptics) as liars: “New Scientist complained about the “gross distortions” and “barefaced lying” politicians come out  with…” He’s goes on to make the most blatant, baseless, and outrageous insults by equating skeptics to people who promote pedophilia, asbestos and drugs.

“What if I told you pedophilia is good for children, or that asbestos is an excellent inhalant for those with asthmatics, or that smoking crack is a normal part and a healthy one of teenage life, to be encouraged? You’d rightly find it outrageous, but there have been similar statements coming out of inexpert mouths, distorting the science.”

“These distortions of science are far from trivial, our neglect of what may be clear and urgent problems could be catastrophic and now a professor of [...]

Are ARC grants for science or a form of government advertising disguised as research?

ARC Grants have just been announced for 2013

Let’s look at what won a grant in light of the fact that nearly 80% of all the applications for ARC funding fail. (Indeed Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt wonders if our best scientists are hobbled by an arduous waste-of-time process where they spend up to 30% – 50% of their working life applying for grants.)

Looking at the current round of successful grants. How do you beat four out of five candidates for funding? Here’s one successful method:

Step One: Use statistically insignificant results obtained by dubious techniques to generate a paper with conclusions that grab headlines.

Step Two: Make sure these “results” support contentious Labor Party policies, and actively promote the spurious conclusions in the media prior to publication.

Step Three (optional): Possibly go on to publish the paper, then again, maybe not.

Step Four: Apply for more money.

Apparently the ALP need to find budget savings from the science program to deliver their promised “surplus”. They are thinking of a grants freeze — which is a good way to create uncertainty and encourage the best researchers to leave the country. Here’s [...]

Stephan is back: climate, cancer, what’s the difference?

Stephan Lewandowsky is back, reminding us why argument-by-distant-unrelated-topic is a quick way to get confused.

Should we spend money trying to change the weather? Spin the wheel: Did smoking cause cancer? “Yes!” Was that money well spent? “Yes!” Is climate sensitivity 3.3C! “Yes” . The heck, it must be, because some different scientists were right about a different topic, in a different subject, in a another era. Look at how similar the problems are?  No one was sure if any particular lung cancer was due to smoking, just “like” no one will ever know if Sandy was caused by your SUV. Climate starts with “C” and so does Cancer. Spooky eh?

The answer to planetary dynamics comes from tactical analysis of PR strategies by people who oppose The Consensus. Why do we even bother with satellite measurements, cloud microphysics or ARGO buoys?

No atmospheric evidence will convince Lewandowsky, he’s  looking for code words in the commentariat.

The tobacco industry claims that smoking does not cause cancer, preferring instead to think of medical science as an “oligopolistic cartel” that “manufactures alleged evidence” linking smoking to cancer.

Climate deniers likewise accuse climate science of being “riddled with corruption” and of manipulating or [...]

Government funds anti-science name-calling crowd: “deniers”, skeptics are old “will be gone soon”

There’s a mindset, a world view here that’s profoundly unreal, anti-science, and of course, fully funded by the Taxpayer from start to end (how could it be any other way?).

From the researcher who holds childish assumptions and misunderstands his own results, to the site that posts it all as if it were “higher thought”, to the trained communicator of science who then parrots the mistakes and insults half the population at the same time. Cheers! Private money couldn’t fund a satire like “The Conversation”. (Well, it could if it were funny.)

The Conversation recall was funded with $6 million.

Stephan continues his war on science

Lewandowsky’s bread and butter stuff is breaking the central tenet of science — namely, that evidence is more important than opinions. His mission (though I don’t think he’s aware of it) appears to be to return us to pre-Enlightenment days when Bishops controlled the public conversation. In this post-post-modern era, some things are so post they’re posterior – some parts of science are returning to unscience.  This “science” is not about your data or reasoning, and not about your results — it’s about your ability to get a grant, a title, a university badge. [...]

Gergis hockey stick withdrawn. This is what 95% certainty looks like in climate science.

In May it was all over the newspapers, in June it was shown to be badly flawed. By October, it quietly gets withdrawn.  The apology and press release are coming soon…right?

Thanks to help from the Australian Research Council it only took 300,000 dollars and three years to produce a paper that lasted all of three weeks. But it scored the scary headlines! It was “confirmation”, it was “unprecedented warming”, and it was a scientific certainty that was based on “27 natural climate records” and  “over the last 1000 years”. What could possibly go wrong? They had 2 whole proxies that went right back a thousand years, and they’d used computers (!) to rehash the data 3000 ways!  Frankly, I’m surprised it lasted three weeks. Let’s remember that if one single journalist had simply asked “how much colder was it in 1200AD?” Gergis, Karoly and the rest would have had to say “0.09 of a degree”. No one asked. But Gergis et al, had a proxy in Tasmania, and another in New Zealand, and they were “confident” they could calculate the whole grand continental collective temperature to nine one hundredths of a degree? Seriously.

As Mike E then pointed out [...]

Lewandowsky — A paper of questionable ethics, approved in a last minute switch

Prof Stephan Lewandowsky had to make an ethics committee application in order to survey anti-skeptics to “find out” whether skeptics are conspiracy mad nutters (as you would). Simon Turnill launched an FOI to ask for information and has received some  information.  Turnill wondered why the application seemed so unrelated to the survey. I pointed out that  I’d seen a different Lewandowsky paper that fitted the description in the application. Simon hunted and found Popular Consensus: Climate Change Set to Continue (where Lewandowsky shows people in the Hay St. Mall, in Perth, some “stock market” graphs and asks them to extrapolate the trend).

Lewandowsky appears to have obtained an ethics approval for this bland paper, and then put in a last minute request for a “slight modification” which was for an entirely different survey for a different purpose and an unrelated paper, and which, as it happens, uses an internet survey rather than a face to face one. But apart from that… it was nearly the same.

Worse, Turnill found that by the time Lewandowsky was finalizing the ethics application in August 2010, he’d already done that bland survey fully 7 months before, and the paper was almost finished. The [...]