In this article I signalled a new article at The Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Climate on Climate Change Conspiracy Theories by Joseph E. Uscinski, Karen Douglas, and Stephan Lewandowsky. (thanks to Paul Matthews.)
The Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Climate has 170 articles which you can browse here of which 10 deal with the dynamics of climate systems and just 14 deal with, er, climate change including one on Celebrities and Climate Change and another on “Countering Climate Science Denial and Communicating Scientific Consensus” by John Cook.
On the other hand, 113 out of 170 articles deal with Climate Change Communication, which tells you all you need to know about climate change, and The Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Climate, and, incidentally, something rather disturbing about the Oxford University Press.
For four centuries the OUP and the Cambridge University Press had the monopoly of publication of the Authorised Version of the Bible, in defiance of modern laws of copyright. This goldmine enabled them to publish thousands of unprofitable volumes which advanced the frontiers of human understanding (or sometimes not. But that’s science for you.) Now they’re just two more publishing houses, one of which has a website which, unfortunately, is manned by idiots who think that an article about Celebrities and Climate Change is an article about climate change, and that John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky are honest, intelligent experts on something or other.
[It’s come to something – hasn’t it? – when a brand new website like ours, manned by a ragged band of amateurs, can announce without fear of contradiction that a website run by one of the world’s most prestigious publishing houses linked to one of the world’s oldest universities is a load of shite. But that’s the Brave New Internet World for you.]
I intend to write to OUP asking them to retact the article. I wrote to Professor Uscinski on October 4th 2017, and again on October 16th pointing out the errors in his book and in the OUP article, and offering to hold off on a complaint to the OUP until I hear from him. I haven’t yet received a reply.
So what does the OUP article say?
The first sentence of the first paragraph is as follows:
An overwhelming percentage of climate scientists agree that human activity is causing the global climate to change in ways that will have deleterious consequences both for the environment and for humankind.
This is false. There is no research, by Cook or anyone else, which quantifies the number of climate scientists who agree that “human activity is causing the global climate to change in ways that will have deleterious consequences both for the environment and for humankind.” None.
The first paragraph continues:
While scientists have alerted both the public and policy makers to the dangers of continuing or increasing the current rate of carbon emission, policy proposals intended to curb carbon emission and thereby mitigate climate change have been resisted by a notable segment of the public. Some of this resistance comes from … the carbon-based energy industry. Others oppose policies intended to address climate change for ideological reasons… But perhaps the most alarming and visible are those who oppose solutions to climate change because they believe, or at least claim to believe, that anthropogenic climate change is not really happening and that climate scientists are lying and their data is fake.
Three groups of “skeptics” or “denialists” are identified. None of us here at Climate Scepticism fall into any one of the three groups, as far as I know. (Hands up anyone being paid by the carbon-based energy industry, or who has ideological reasons for opposing policies intended to address climate change, or who believes that anthropogenic climate change is not really happening. Anyone? No? So the whole article is revealed as belonging to Never Never Land.)
Resistance, in this latter case, sometimes referred to as climate “skepticism” or “denialism,” varies from region to region in strength but worldwide has been a prominent part of a political force strong enough to preclude both domestic and global policy makers from making binding efforts to avert the further effects of anthropogenic climate change.
Oohooh, a conspiracy theory! But a failed conspiracy, since everyone and his Earth Mother believes that the Paris Agreement is a “binding effort to avert the further effects of anthropogenic climate change.” It’s not of course, but that’s what we’re told.
Climate skeptics suggest the well-publicized consensus is either manufactured or illusory and that some nefarious force—be it the United Nations, liberals, communists, or authoritarians—want to use climate change as a cover for exerting massive new controls over the populace.
Certainly the well-publicized consensus is illusory, manufactured by John Cook among others, on the suggestion of Stephan Lewandowsky, who in 2010 pointed out to his future doctorate student that believing that everyone else believes something is the royal road to making them believe that thing. But the credit is not Lewandowsky’s. The ultimate source is (Orwell,1948.)
As for the nefarious force of “..communists..“ who “..want to use climate change as a cover for exerting massive new controls over the populace,” as a supporter of the French Communist Party, I plead not guilty. And a quick glance at the policies of the Russian and Chinese governments, and at articles at sites like the overtly communist http://www.spiked-online.com/ suggests that communists and ex-communists and neo-communists are too busy trying to improve the living standards of ordinary people to worry about such a nebulous concept as climate change.
This conspiracy-laden rhetoric—if followed to its logical conclusion— expresses a rejection of scientific methods, scientists, and the role that science plays in society.
No. It expresses a rejection of the anti-scientific methods employed by Cook, Lewandowsky and Douglas (all authors of articles here at the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, CLIMATE SCIENCE, and all proven liars and charlatans) and the role that they play in the perversion of the social sciences in the service of a delusional ideology.
Further on we find this:
.. individuals with elevated levels of conspiratorial thinking are more likely to deny the existence and severity of anthropogenic climate change (Lewandowsky, Cook, et al., 2015; Lewandowsky, Gignac, & Oberauer, 2013, 2015; Lewandowsky, Oberauer, & Gignac, 2013). While the effect of conspiratorial thinking on climate change attitudes pales in comparison to that of partisanship, the effect is nonetheless pernicious.
“Partisanship” to social scientists like Lewandowsky means voting for rightwing parties. People who vote right tend not to like taxes, and people who don’t like taxes tend not to like taxes to finance ludicrous renewable energy schemes, and tend to view plans to raise such taxes as a government conspiracy. And people who understand this stuff – engineers, accountants, and businessmen – tend to be the first to notice that climate alarmism is a huge scam. Which doesn’t prevent a motley bunch of marxists, libertarians and ordinary apolitical citizens like us at cliscep.com from coming to the same conclusion.
Note that “conspiratorial thinking” “pales in comparison” to political attitudes as a determinant of attitudes to climate change. It’s of minor importance. The authors say so, and they confirm it on page 2 when they say:
The voluminous research into opinions toward climate change indicates that people’s ideologies, that is, their set of deeply held worldviews, is largely responsible for the acceptance or denial of climate science (citing seven sources). Of particular note are studies showing that a general propensity to engage in conspiratorial thinking is also associated with opinions toward climate science: that is, individuals with elevated levels of conspiratorial thinking are more likely to deny the existence and severity of anthropogenic climate change. While the effect of conspiratorial thinking on climate change attitudes pales in comparison to that of partisanship, the effect is nonetheless pernicious. (citing three sources, all by Lewandowsky)
But that doesn’t stop them from rabbiting on about it for another 41 pages.
Since all the evidence for conspiracy theorising among climate sceptics (or “skeptics” as they spell it in Oxford) comes from papers from Lewandowsky, I think we can safely assume that the meat in the paper is written by him. For example this (p10)
Perhaps the most telling study of conspiracy talk is by Lewandowsky, Cook, Oberauer, and Marriott (2013) and Lewandowky, Cook, et al. (2015). They examined the online comments that were made in response to their previous 2013 paper, “NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science” (Lewandowsky, Oberauer, et al., 2013). The authors noted that the study elicited an inordinate amount of controversy for an academic paper, and in measuring the commentary, they found much of it to contain conspiracy talk. For example, commenters accused Lewandowsky and his colleagues of faking data to make climate denialists look irrational. The analysis of these online criticisms and accusations of conspiracy became the basis of a published paper, “Recursive Fury: Conspiracist Ideation in the Blogosphere in Response to Research on Conspiracist Ideation.” The paper was retracted by the publisher (conspiracy theorists had threatened to sue); the paper was later retitled, additional data were reported, and it was re-published in 2015 at a different journal (Lewandowsky et al., 2015)
There are a couple of outright lies in this paragraph. 1) The authors didn’t “measure the commentary.” Two of them, Cook and Marriott, trawled a few thousand comments from scores of blog articles and extracted a hundred or so which they thought sounded conspiratorial, truncating them, misquoting them and attributing them to the wrong person. No measurement took place. 2) “The paper was retracted by the publisher (conspiracy theorists had threatened to sue)” suggests that the paper was retracted because conspiracy theorists had threatened to sue. This is false. Two individuals (Foxgoose and Jeff Id) wrote to the editors complaining about false statements attributed to them in the prepublished version of the paper, and pointing out that legal action might follow, as a result of which the paper was revised twice, with the embarrassing result that three different versions of the paper were available on the internet at the same time. There were no further threats to sue, but simply assertions by certain critics in letters to the journal editors (Steve McIntyre and me, and possibly others) that the article was defamatory.
But the interesting bit is this:
The paper was retracted by the publisher… the paper was later retitled, additional data were reported, and it was re-published in 2015 at a different journal (Lewandowsky et al., 2015).
I wrote up (Lewandowsky et al., 2015) at
I pointed out a number of lies in the article and noted that:
This must be the first time in the history of social research that the author has:
1) Admitted to deliberately altering his data
2) Deliberately hidden the source by suppressing names of websites and people quoted
3) Boasted that the data isn’t available.
But here in the OUP article, Lewandowsky goes further, claiming that (Lewandowsky, Cook et al 2015) is simply (Lewandowsky, Cook et al 2013) republished. This claim is of course, false. Republishing a retracted article is a serious scientific misdemeanor, and a cause for re-retraction. It’s not true, since the assertion that Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts, Jo Nova and I were paranoiac and incapable of rational thought has been removed, and similar assertions about dozens of other individuals, including Professor Richard Betts of the Meteorological Office have been hidden, since the supplementary materal for the 2013 article is no longer available for the 2015 “republished” version.
The OUP article must of course be retracted, since it is almost wholly based on three articles by Lewandowsky, one of which has been retracted, one of which should be retracted (according to Lewandowsky) and one of which is a load of bollocks. But how to break the news to the Oxford University Press? Should I simply send them a link to this article, or should I do something more academically acceptable?