This post was prompted by a comment I made here:

Ben, the opening statement of Lew’s paper is like Tchaikovsky’s 1812 cannons going off, followed by the symphony itself, a particularly dreary affair composed by Lew & Mann (with a little help from the other two authors). But those ‘cannons’ are really the sound of Lew shooting himself in the foot (twice) with a double-barreled shotgun. In establishment climate change science, the “scientific method” has yet to make an appearance and therefore it certainly cannot claim to have yielded any “discoveries”. The things which imperil our lifestyles and impinge upon (fossil fuel) corporate vested interests are political/economic decisions driven by green ideological imperatives in combination with . . . . . green corporate vested interests.

So rather than watching paint dry, I thought I had better at least listen to Lew’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs from beginning to end, just in case there was something in it that sounded vaguely musical or tuneful. I think I’ve got the basic drift now. I did have to read the paper unfortunately, which was very triggering for me – in addition to inducing nauseous ennui, with not the slightest hint of musical appreciation, let alone the rapt entertainment of Tchaik’s 1812. Let me get a few niggly points out of the way first:

We outline the distinction between true scepticism and denial with several case studies. We propose some guidelines to enable researchers to differentiate legitimate critical engagement from bad-faith harassment . . . . .

What is “bad-faith harassment”? Is it the opposite of good-faith harassment? Is Lew’s continued dishonest, defamatory campaign against climate change sceptics an example of the latter? Whereas nasty, horrible sceptics may be presumed to be guilty of the former?

Keywords: rejection of science, public involvement in science, critical debate, transparency, harassment of scientists”

Not ‘words’ Lew, ‘phrases’. When you put words together in certain ways, they form phrases, which tend to convey more meaning than simply the sum of the individual words.

The ‘contrarians’, or the ‘pseudosceptics’ in LMBF 2016 are identified as follows:

People who deny scientific facts that they find challenging or unacceptable, by contrast, are by and large not skeptics. On the contrary, they demonstrably shy away from scientific debate by avoiding the submission of their ideas to peer review. Instead, the discursive activity of those individuals is largely limited to blogs and the media, accompanied by complaints to institutions and journals which can have no purpose other than to stifle, rather than promote, scientific debate.

So basically, if, as a member of the public, you run a blog which questions “scientific facts” but you don’t submit your questioning to peer review, then you are not ‘worthy’ to engage in scientific debate. The arbiter of what are “scientific facts” appears to be consensus opinion rather than evidence, especially in climate change science.

What is new with LMBF 2016, besides all the usual defamatory ‘observations’ [aka rubbish] about climate sceptics in particular and public scepticism of scientific research in general, is the identification of just one supposed glowing example of how a scientifically uninitiated and naïve member of the public engaged fruitfully with scientists to address a claim about which he (Brown) was sceptical. One very specific ‘exemplary’ illustration of ‘good practice’ in a field far removed from the contentious, politically charged, highly complex, emotionally fraught, high stakes arena of climate change science. Yet this one example is seemingly judged not only to be exemplary, but sufficient in its ‘exemplariness’ to form the basis of a new Lew Mann code of conduct for every member of the public everywhere who wishes to question “scientific discoveries” in any field, but particularly in climate science and medicine. This is the essence of LMBF 2016, the cojones of the paper, if you like. So I submit to you, my learned friends, the following question:

Is LMBF 2016 the “dog’s b***ocks” of depth climate psychology and/or does it provide a major new insight into managing the science/society interface or is it just simply complete b***ocks?

Please submit all responses via open peer-review.


  1. If any of Loopy Lew’s prolix nightsoil ever achieves the level of complete b***ocks, that will be a first.

    My cat regurgitates hairballs that are more insightful than anything he is capable of producing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you didn’t taint Ralph Vaughan Williams with this mental picture.


  3. The paper is basically little more than an advice column in journal form. ‘Dear Dr Lew, my paper has attracted the attention of the public, do I have to respond to questions about it?’ The overall message was ‘no’.

    It talks about ‘showing’ and does nothing of the sort. In my opinion ‘show’ has to have some logic to it that can be repeated. This was self justification, wrapped up in generic sound bites of good practice. What it didn’t conclude was that if the public had a genuine gripe, the author should deal with it irrespective of whether it was sent through the peer review system or not. Honesty not a requirement then?

    They didn’t use one of the most famous examples of a member of the non science fraternity ‘harassing’ a scientist and totally ignoring peer review – the case of Andrew Wakefield, he of the MMR/autism paper. Without Brian Deer’s persistance and one might say vendetta against a Dr just ‘doing science’ the guy would still be a Dr and the Lancet would still not have retracted the paper. But then Mann would hate that example because Deer only got the dirt on Wakefield when Wakefield tried to sue Deer for defamation and he had to comply with discovery and hand over his data.

    Bottom line, scientists don’t have to engage with anyone, let alone anyone outside peer review… but then we don’t need to listen to them either. We can talk about their work to our heart’s content and if they want to stay behind their ivory walls there’s not much we can do about it… other than persuade anyone who’ll listen. If you refuse to attend the debate, we’ll carry on with a tub of lard where you should be sitting.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Brilliant 1812 I love it 🙂

    I think now in future every time I see the same old rhetorical beats: IPCC not alarmist enough, Cook consensus, Seepage, Tobacco, Oreskes, Brulle, … those cannons will ring out at each well worn trope 🙂

    This latest paper does seem kind of curious to me. It seems an inept attempt to reel back the usual aggressive posturing advocacy you would expect to see from Lewandowsy et – with whoever he could draft in – at about this time of his publication cycle.

    But he’s not very good at it, it’s like dad dancing. It’s funny that he’s proud to have a token ‘layman’ to hang around with now, but when he (and Mann) try to act like they are big and cool enough to correct themselves they fudge it by not actually being able to point to a real fault they can concede to ever having had an “impact on the conclusions” of their works – they are soooo always right 😉

    It’s interesting that he has managed to draft in someone who has a reputation as coming from a non-academic background and also has made a small ripple in debunking some psychological work that no one would ever have heard of or likely have been threatened by its impact – and boy was he keen to emphasise that – you see, Nick Brown’s University library card is not enough to make him an academic! 😉

    My theory – hopefully reasonable and not conspiracist/torial at all – is that Lewandowsky has had some indication communicated to him of some credibility set backs recently and is trying to reposition himself as a little less scientism/authoritarian.

    I think Fyfe et al was a real wake up call to him. That work was a response to the building Cook, Lewandowsky, Chris Mooney social science media hegemony that threatened to not just observe but dictate what any actual consensus climate science was allowed to say or look like. It looked like that if you mildly acknowledged the reality of a hiatus even while accept the undercurrent of increasing temperature this was getting to be considered verboten by the political officers in social science.

    Kind of like that scene in Stalingrad with the politcial officers with megapones encouraging the troops equipped with no rifles to just keep going onwards 😉

    So Mann and Santer somehow got signed up to add their names to what seems to my, admittedly shallow interpretation, a Hawkins/Fyfe driven excersise. Perhaps the deal was they put their names to it and they limited the critique?

    Hawkins has indicated on his blog:

    “The first of the two sentences was far more critical of Lewandowsky et al in an earlier version of the paper. There is plenty of evidence that the period was unusual in whatever context.”

    Anyway I take some comfort in knowing that the layman Nick Brown, via association with Alan Sokal, will always have a lower Erdős number than Lewandowsky. I would be amazed if anyone with a lower number would work with him

    Liked by 3 people

  5. TinyCO2 wrote:

    We can talk about their work to our heart’s content and if they want to stay behind their ivory walls there’s not much we can do about it

    On a somewhat related note … speaking of “peer review” and “not much we can do about it”, not to mention Lew/Mann’s tendencies to attempt to disguise their autocratic edicts …

    I’m not sure if it’s hit your side of the pond yet, BUT I can’t help wondering how long it will take such magnificent forces of mediocrity to enthusiastically endorse and campaign for transfer of the governance of the Internet from the US – which has been sliding down the anti-democratic slope for far too long – to some UN affiliated body.

    Considering the performances to date of the many arms, elbows, hands, fingers etc of the UN, to my mind, this is definitely NOT a good thing. Nor would it be even if Obama had not declared that this transfer should occur by October 1 – of this year.

    For a summary of the history of this travesty and all the gory details, please see Judith Bergman’s assessment via Gatestone.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I can see good and bad reasons for governments wanting to control the internet, I’m just not sure that the ever changing nature of it will allow much success.

    Am I worried about it? Yes and no. In the scheme of things, climate sceptics have to be the fluffiest, nicest bunch of activists the world has ever seen. The world would be an incredibly safe place if the worst that anyone plotted was a sarcastic blog post or a lengthy objection to a university about a science paper. Sure there are the odd nutjobs out there but the amazing thing is that something as huge as climate change hasn’t spawned a bigger bunch of crazies. It’s testament to how disinterested the public are about the whole issue. As genuine sceptics we would dearly wish that there were no crazies at all, but I doubt there is an issue from pencil sharpeners to tofu that hasn’t got at least one psycho troll. I engage at a site about a midlands city’s history, that sees almost as many cat fights and moderator interventions as we see across the entire sceptic bloggosphere.

    So by that measure, governments and security divisions should have zero justification to interfere. There’s nothing we write that is threatening. There are no secret groups planning any dangerous activities, unless you count private emails inviting people to submit articles. Co-ordinated FOIs is hardly on the par of even a march or a sit in, let alone plotting to harm someone. You anarchists, you. Can you imagine the police infiltrating us? (Now there’s an idea for a comedy sketch).

    However, who said governments were sane? Already we see powers, reluctantly granted to governments to protect against terrorism, used for trivial purposes. eg councils using camera surveillance to track parking offences and small litter droppers where the cameras where supposed to be for serious crime prevention. Too often, police forces target the ordinary person with tools designed for organised crime, because the results are more pleasing. Ordinary people are much safer to tackle, less likely to go to court and are more likely to pay up.

    Late to the party, the US government is very keen on CO2 hysteria. In the UK, passions are cooling as they realise just how difficult cutting CO2 actually is. While originally they saw it as something where they could gain international plaudits for saving the planet, they now realise that it’s a thankless money pit. They really do have enough on their hands to worry About without trying to shut down a bunch of people who quietly grumble to each other on the internet. Once the US realises that a lack of success isn’t due to foreign incompetence, they’ll want to quietly drop the issue too.

    The real risk to sceptic debate is crusading internet communication billionaires. If they make a concerted effort to silence us, I’m not sure we could get round it. They can be very unbalanced on what they censor and what they don’t.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “If they make a concerted effort to silence us, I’m not sure we could get round it.”

    No doubt about it. Two kinds of control point exist: The “root DNS” and peering points. Alternate roots exist but work only for people using them (ie, not many) but there’s no way to bypass a peering point (that’s why it’s called a peering point). At the peering points traffic can also be inspected and prioritized.


  8. Next week I wonder if Lew Crew will be at this British Psychological Society Lecture
    @Swansea British Science Festival Tue 6 Sep • 17:00 – 18:00
    Panel Discussion : What can I do about climate change anyway?

    Is there a bigger challenge to our society than combatting climate change? Governments and policymakers have launched many campaigns to persuade the public that the path to tackle climate change lies in behaviour change on an individual level. Our panel explore what we can do as individuals, and how we should effectively engage the public in the fight against our changing climate.

    There are more greenblob lectures during the week 3 on Arctic Ice collapse (one by Tamsin), and a couple of romantic optimism about Solar Power.


  9. What can you do to tackle climate change on an individual level? Why, get a smart meter fitted of course. It will ‘save you money’and reduce your household emissions. The government needs to plug these spy-in-the-home energy rationing devices ruthlessly if it is to meet its emission targets and embrace the ‘smart energy revolution’ – not to mention avoid blackouts caused by its scandalous failure to implement a sane energy policy. Problem is, people are becoming very wary of these devices (with good reason) and, rather than ‘securing’ our energy supply, they may throw the national grid wide open to hacking attempts by the Chinese and other groups, such as terrorists.

    Liked by 1 person

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