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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Lewandowsky, Cook and the Barack Obama tweet that wasn’t

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

McIntyre v Lewandowsky — Can we call in a statistician at UWA to help Lew?

The Lewandowsky view is Drilling into noise. The McIntyre response: Lewandowsky’s Fake Correlation

My favourite Lewandowsky line is: “We cannot get into the details here…”

McIntyre can and does in gory depth. He posts the equations, the code, the tables, everything. He graphs the residuals, and shows the “severe non-normality” of them. He tests the correlation and finds that the two most obvious fake responses heavily affect the results:

“Lewandowsky is absolutely off-base in his assertion that the examination of outliers is inappropriate statistical analysis. In fact, exactly the opposite is the case: proper statistical analysis REQUIRES the examination of outliers.”

“One can readily see that the two super-scammers (889, 963) contribute essentially 100% (over 100%) actually of the negative correlation between CauseHIV and CYMoon in this calculation.”

Lewandowsky says: “no one who has toyed with our data has thus far exhibited any knowledge of the crucial notion of a latent construct or latent variable.”

McIntyre replies: “Principal components, a frequent topic at this blog, are a form of latent variable analysis.”

As a former graduate of UWA, this is embarrassing. Does UWA not teach and use rigorous statistical methods? Is there no one who can help him?

Plus, when […]

Lewandowsky gets $1.7m of taxpayer funds to denigrate people who disagree with him

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 […]