Stephan Lewandowsky (and John Cook) got excited that Barack Obama ‘retweeted’ the (fallacious) 97% consensus study. In The Conversation, Stephan Lewandowsky made it the leading line (right under the name-calling headline):
“When President Obama last week tweeted that “97% of scientists agree: climate change is real, man-made, and dangerous” it drew the attention of his 31 million followers to the most recent study pointing to the consensus in climate science.”
As a Professor of Psychology on a academic site, we might assume Lewandowsky might be more factual and less like a direct marketing campaign. (Dear Stephan, there is no chance 31 million followers read his tweets. Twitter is not like that. Obama is following 662,021 people. You think he reads them?)
Worse, that tweet was not by Barack Obama. The @barackobama account is run by an activist group called Organizing for Action (OFA). It’s the fourth biggest twitter account in the world, but Obama gave the account to OFA earlier this year, and he doesn’t appear to have used it since. (Still it’s not like Lewandowsky’s career depends on understanding how people work, and how to spot a fake right? Oh. Wait… )
OFA use Obama’s photo and his name, [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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. [...]
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 [...]
Some skeptics wonder why I bother pursing and documenting the problems with Lewandowsky et al 2012 and with the blog ShapingTomorrowsWorld. They figure that all skeptics now know the papers dismal failings, and it’s clear that Lewandowsky is unlikely to be grateful for the help.
But Lewandowsky exposes people higher up to awkward questions. Why do they fund work so unscientific? Why do they allow such hypocrisy and bias on a government funded publication? Are standards at the University of Western Australia (UWA) so low that they can’t find a Professor who understands the scientific method, and can reason without name-calling? Aren’t other statisticians at UWA concerned at what Lewandowsky is doing to the reputation of “UWA Statistics”? Finally, aren’t the scientists who missed out on ARC funding angry that our taxpayer funds are given instead to someone who apparently uses the funds to promote his personal political views, instead of in the pursuit of knowledge? (See: Lewandowsky gets $1.7m of taxpayer funds to denigrate people who disagree with him)
The abject incompetence is a gift to us. Rarely is a study so outrageously bad that people with no scientific background [...]
Stephan Lewandowsky, Gilles Gignac, Klaus Oberauer
Stephen Lewandowsky’s paper, soon to be published in Psychological Science, appears to be drawn from one or two grants from the Australian Research Council that total nearly a million dollars (though it’s not entirely clear which grants apply to the paper).
“If you wonder, like I do, whether the Australian taxpayer gets value for money, ponder that somewhere a cancer researcher was denied funding in order for Lewandowsky to do his work”
One grant, which he shares with coauthor Dr Klaus Oberauer, was for $694,000 for research on “Keeping Memory Current: Updating and Discounting of Information“. Apparently it is of national benefit, because: “Basic research in psychology is of particular national benefit because the available national research funding is commensurate with the requirements of world-class research in psychology.” “World class” does not usually mean research based on a logical error with a sample too small to be statistically significant and using a self-selecting, unsecure, sample from sites that detest the research group. Aside from that, the sentence itself is circular bureaucratese-babble. What does it mean? Is he suggesting that research in basic psychology is useful because taxpayer funds are only given to world class [...]
Stephan Lewandowsky is rattled. Not surprisingly. Right now, his blog has gone from a steady run of zero-to-three-comment-posts up to 200, and the skeptics are armed with cutting questions.
But the more he writes, the worse it gets. Skeptics have picked apart his methods, his data, his transparency, and his conclusions. His latest responses are childish taunts with variants of name-calling. What place does an unrelated smear have in a science debate? It’s an effort to distract people.
His paper, in press, has been shown to have a misleading headline, with worthless conclusions based on statistically insignificant number of responses, using a clumsy one-sided test — the aim of which was obvious to most readers. When asked for data he provided answers to 32 questions but still hides the results obtained to a quarter of his original survey, including the basic demographics. He changed the order of questions depending on the blog he sought replies from — effectively putting different versions of the survey up (see below for his explanation). He himself emailed or was named in emails to alarmist anti-skeptic bloggers, while he used an unknown assistant to email skeptical blogs. These non-standard methods were not described in his paper.
Steve McIntyre audited Stephan Lewandowsky’s data to weed out the obvious fake responses. That people would “game” the test was predictable given the clumsy nature of the survey, the one-sided nature of the conspiracies investigated, the virulently anti-skeptic sites where it was hosted, and the comments on the threads where it was announced. Obviously the survey hoped to show skeptics were nutters, and when it was posted in front of those who-hate-skeptics, readers obliged.
Steve McIntyre weighs in with a lengthy post, several original graphs, and concludes:
“Lewandowsky, like Gleick, probably fancies himself a hero of the Cause. But ironically. Lewandowsky’s paper will stand only as a landmark of junk science – fake results from faked responses.
As Tom Curtis observed, Lewandowsky has no moral alternative but to withdraw his paper.”
When the number of responses to conspiracies are graphed against the share that is “skeptical” of man-made global warming McIntyre reveals an interesting pattern. The “Oklahoma” point on the bottom right of the graph was the most popular conspiracy theory — but percentage-wise, “alarmists” were more likely to support this theory than so called “skeptics” were.
The line across the graph represents the proportion of the total responses which [...]
Steve McIntyre weighs in:
“As others have observed, the number of actual respondents purporting to believe in the various conspiracies was, in many cases, very small. Only 10 respondents purported to believe in Lewandowsky’s* signature Moon Landing conspiracy. These included a disproportionate number of scam responses. Indeed, probably all of these responses were scams.
However, Lewandowsky’s statistical analysis was unequal to the very low hurdle of identifying these scam responses. Lewandowsky applied a technique closely related to principal components to scam and non-scam data alike, homogenizing them into a conspiratorial ideation.”
Josh is so quick these days :- ) Thank you Josh. An excellent job.
* Correction: “Curtis’s” should have been Lewandowsky.
Josh is so quick these days :- ) Thank you Josh. An excellent job.
What can I say? Prof Lewandowsky, expert in conspiracies, thinks we are postulating a conspiracy — but the bad news for him is that we are postulating straight out incompetence, no conspiracy required.
How does Lewandowsky define “conspiracy”? However he wants.
I hate to say I told you so, but I did. Back in May 2010, before Lewandowsky posted his survey, he foresaw the results:
“This attribute of conspiracy theorising applies in full force to the actions of climate “sceptics” who operate outside the peer reviewed literature” [ABC Drum]“
and I foresaw what he would do with them:
“Lewandowsky uses the name-calling to “poison the well” against people who don’t even believe in a conspiracy [about man-made global warming], but happen to also be skeptical…Jo Nova May 2010“
Graham at OnLine Opinion (OLO) has posted Part II of a Fish rots from the Head and it’s quite something to see.
This post will look at the question of what is a conspiracy, and also what constitutes “conspiracist ideation”. The conclusion, just to save you reading to the bottom, is that Lewandowsky has no clear idea so adapts it to what fits his thesis. This is [...]
There were only ten positive responses.
There are many questions to be answered about this paper in “Psychological Science.“ Questions worth asking at all kinds of levels.
The authors, Lewandowsky, S., Oberauer, K., & Gignac, C. E., drew conclusions about skeptics by largely surveying alarmist sites. They got hardly any positive responses, some of which may have been faked (who can tell?). Then with a tiny ten positive responses out of 1147, the authors drew inferences about a group of people which must number between one hundred thousand to one million or more individuals. Worse, of the ten who thought the moon landing was faked, only three or four were skeptics. In the UPDATE below note that there appear to be three different forms of the survey, a point that surely needs some explanation.
The headline of the study “NASA faked the moon landing—therefore (climate) science is a hoax: An anatomy of the motivated rejection of science” is drawn from only those ten responses. Do I need to say it’s a sample size too small to draw any conclusions? I shouldn’t. But this point alone should have been enough for the paper in its current form to fail review, yet [...]
I‘m putting on a conservative, understated hat. This could be the worst paper I have seen — an ad hom argument taken to its absurd extreme, rebadged as “science”.
Professorial fellow Stephan Lewandowsky thinks that skeptics who are “greatly involved” in the climate debate believe any kind of conspiracy theory, including that the moon landings never happened, that AIDS is not due to HIV, and that smoking doesn’t cause cancer. But he didn’t find this out by asking skeptics who are “greatly involved” in the climate debate or by reading their popular sites. He “discovered” this by asking 1,000 visitors to climate blogs. Which blogs? He expertly hunted down skeptics, wait for it… here:
Deltoid, Tamino Scot Mandia, Bickmore, A Few Things Ill Considered, Hot-Topic (NZ) Trunity (unconfirmed?) John Cook (through twitter, h/t Barry Woods at Climate Audit)
This is the point where the question has to be asked: Did Lewandowsky, Oberauer, and Gignac really think they would get away with it? Did none of the reviewers at “Psychological Science“ think to ask if the “sampling” of alarmist blogs would affect the results?
The paper is titled:
“NASA faked the moon landing — Therefore (Climate) Science is a [...]
What kind of organization receives all its funding from one source, then claims to be “independent?” (Yes, spot another GONGO idea).
The Conversation trumpets that it is “Independent” but it’s funded with $6 million from … the Government. As Tim Blair said “it’s a baby ABC“. (A Government organized “non government” organisation).
The Conversation gets 20,000 readers a day (apparently). According to the Alexa Stats, I single-handedly get about half the global traffic they do. They have an entire nation of university staff to help write stories. I’ve had ten guest authors and have written over 700 posts myself.
(If what they do costs $6 million, does that mean my site is worth $3m? Am I grossly underpaid, or are they grossly overpaid?)
This is another example of the self-growing-cycle of big-government. The site is dominated with stories that favor statist-big-government policies. They break laws of logic and reason, claim that experts are writing, but we non-experts working from home can point out the errors of those with professorships in our spare time, and with no PhD.
Consider the wit and wisdom of one Stefan Lewandowsky — who writes as a Professorial Fellow of a misnamed topic [...]
“Climate denial and the abuse of peer review“
Can someone get Stephan Lewandowsky his medication? His new marketing message is that “deniers” don’t do peer review papers. There’s a curious case of acute-peer-review-blindness (APRB) occurring. It doesn’t matter that there are literally thousands of pages of skeptical information on the web, quoting hundreds of peer reviewed papers, by people far more qualified than a cognitive-psychologist, yet he won’t even admit they exist.
…most climate deniers avoid scrutiny by sidestepping the peer-review process that is fundamental to science, instead posting their material in the internet or writing books.
Dear Stephan, deny this: 900 papers that support skeptics. What is it about these hundreds of papers published in Nature, Science, GRL, PNAS, and Journal of Climate that you find impossible to acknowledge? (And do tell Stephan, if people need to publish peer reviewed material before they venture an opinion on climate science online, how many peer reviewed articles on climate science have you produced?)
Obviously, the real deniers are the people who deny the hundreds of papers with empirical evidence that show the hockey stick is wrong, the world was warmer, the climate changes, and the models are flawed.
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