José Duarte is a psychology PhD candidate. He is able to make sense of issues in the “Moon Landing Paper” by Stephan Lewandowsky, with some new angles in a way I haven’t seen before. He makes a convincing case for the paper to be retracted, about six times over. My initial analysis of this paper still stands: “This could be the worst paper I have seen — an ad hom argument taken to its absurd extreme, rebadged as “science”.
I recommend Duarte’s whole long analysis, though there is language there that for legal reasons I won’t repeat or endorse. What we see is sloppy science and grand “incompetence“.
Duarte focuses on the deception of a title based on only 10 responses, some of which were fakes, none of which was disclosed to the reader:
Lewandowsky, Oberauer, Gignac titled their paper “NASA faked the moon landing—therefore, (climate) science is a hoax: an anatomy of the motivated rejection of science.”
Why is their title based on the variable for which they have the least data, essentially no data?
Why in the abstract are they linking free market views to incredibly damaging positions that again, they have [...]
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 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 [...]
I wondered who was funding Oreskes to fly all the way around the world to deliver two seminars in Perth to audiences of mostly evangelical believers. Michael Kile (Quadrant magazine) reveals more of the details. Presumably she is funded by the Professors-at-large program at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Western Australia (UWA). We still have no details on the amounts.
UWA think achieving “international excellence” is so important they’ve put it in their logo.
We see below how many of the UWA hosts benefit from climate change grants, and thus would potentially gain from promoting a baseless smear against critics who threaten their funding or status. These hypocrites are happy to promote the untruth that skeptics are funded to speak, when the they themselves are the ones who benefit financially from a dubious scare campaign. The professors-at-large program is supposed to foster public debate, but four of the ten Oreskes hosts signed a letter seeking to silence a skeptic from speaking at another university.
Who would sponsor an expert that is ignorant of 99.99% of their topic?
Oreskes claims skeptics are funded by big-oil, but misses that most oil companies [...]
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