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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Turnbull axes Lomborg Centre. No one who questions the holy power of Wind and Solar allowed in Australian academia.

The Turnbull government has announced that that the offer of funding has now been withdrawn for the The Lomborg Consensus Centre in Australia. The bullies, and emotional hysterics win this round. At UWA he was called “dangerous”. At Flinders Uni people were “repulsed” by Lomborg . But the irrational emotional language means the fear of the freeloaders is on display. They are very very scared of critical press releases from any credible sources. No one who questions the holy power of the Wind and Solar Gods can be employed in Australian academia. Can wind-farms stop the storms? Thou shalt not ask!

We’ll spend $10 billion on “Clean Energy” but not even $4 million to analyze whether that money was well spent. Did it change the global climate? Anyone?

Lomborg accepts the establishment science, but even with a $4 million sweetener he is too threatening to the monoculture of Australian universities. Turnbull must know that Lomborg’s economic analysis would have awful news for the renewables industry and would show up the emissions trading scheme for the pointless waste of money that it is. This tells us exactly how much Turnbull cares about academic freedom, the Australian taxpayer and the environment.

Should we [...]

Flinders Uni in panic, “repulsed” by hint of semi-skeptic, Bjorn Lomborg

What’s scarier than an Endless Global Drought? The fear that the public might… hear from a skeptic. Skeptical arguments are so dangerous that even the whiff of one will kill a $4million dollar project stone dead at conception. Be Gone Freak! Guess who has no answer to the questions skeptics ask? How they do advertise the dire state of their intellectual ammo? You might think I’m exaggerating.  Bjorn Lomborg believes the IPCC science 100%, and uses the “denier” term to distance himself from the scientific skeptics. It’s like cloaking himself in garlic, except it doesn’t work — true believers still hate him and seek to shut him down.  Lomborg wants to stop fossil fuel subsidies, the arch-enemy in the believers world, and that’s not enough. Furthermore he wasn’t going to work at the Australian Consensus Centre and it wasn’t going to discuss the climate, but two steps of purification is not enough. Lomborg commits the unforgivable sin of wanting to spend enviro-gravy in ways that actually help the poor and protect the environment. He wants measurements and accountability. And that makes him “repulsive” — just ask the students of Flinders University. The modern University needs no logical reason, [...]

Lomborg’s Centre cancelled: UWA caves in to bullies who use anger to silence debate

There is no saving our universities. The Lomborg Consensus Centre has been axed in response to pure emotional hysteria. The Abbott government should immediately set up the Centre anyway, make it independent from the universities, which don’t deserve another cent.

Bjorn Lomborg, who believes the IPCC science but disagrees with their economics, is too “dangerous” for UWA. Poor petals! He wants to get more environmental and human benefit from government spending – which is a disaster for the Green Gravy train.  Lomborg commits the unforgivable sin of failing to feed friends of big-government. So he had to be punished, nothing is more scary that “funding a skeptic”. (See Tim Flannery’s reaction). But ponder how they have overplayed their hand: Lomborg is not a skeptic of the science, the Consensus Centre wasn’t going to write on climate change, and yet, it was unthinkable?

ABC news:

UWA cancels contract for Consensus Centre headed by controversial academic Bjorn Lomborg

The University of Western Australia has cancelled the contract for a policy centre that was to be headed up by controversial academic Bjorn Lomborg after a “passionate emotional reaction” to the plan.

There is no free speech in academia, only the illusion of it.

If UWA taught students [...]

Bjorn Lomborg gets funding for a new centre at UWA, howls and protests begin

UPDATE: What an extraordinary moment. UWA has announced that due to the unexpected “passion” of the staff and students they have to cancel the Lomborg Consensus Centre (May 8th 2015). They give no rational reason — this is caving in to bullies. The government needs to fund this centre as an independent unit. Academia in Australia is beyond saving. “Lomborg commits the unforgivable sin of failing to feed friends of big-government.”

Bjorn Lomborg writes in The Australian reasonably often, so he is fairly well known amongst the thinking set in Australia.

The Consensus Centre is coming to UWA, my old alma mater, and former home of Steven Lewandowsky, and PhD candidate John Cook. Strange company indeed. It is promising that something rational will probably come forth from UWA for a change. It’s also promising that the Abbott government seems to recognise the need to break the monopoly in funding by a small amount. The choice of UWA might not be as outlandish as people think. It is as politically as pathetically correct as any university, but it doesn’t have a major climate gravy train. Their climate science courses page says it all — they only have a generic enviro-science major, [...]

Lewandowsky — Do we hate our participants?

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 [...]

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 [...]

Lewandowsky part VIII: Formal moves for a Governance Review of the STW blog.

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 [...]

Lewandowsky does “science” by taunts and attempted parody instead of answering questions

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 finds Lewandowsky’s paper is a “landmark of junk science”

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 on Lewandowsky (and Josh)

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.