Letter to Oxford University Press

Oxford University Press recently published on line an article by Uscinski, Douglas and Lewandowsky which repeated a number of lies were used to hearing. I commented briefly here

https://cliscep.com/2017/11/15/oxford-university-press-on-climate-conspiracy-theories/

and here I reproduce my reply.

They jumped the shark, swallowed the polar bear, and spewed out anthropobscenities about us climate sceptics to make your hockeystick stand on end. I’ve just sent my request for the retraction of the article by Uscinski, Douglas and Lewandowsky to oxfordonline@oup.com and will report on any reaction.

What follows is my letter to the OUP. It’s rather long and boring, and I don’t expect many to be interested enough to wade through it all. There’s a lot of references, and I’m aware that I didn’t acknowledge as I should have the contribution of many of this parish, including Barry, Danny, and Kevin.

I make a point in the conclusion that I haven’t seen made before. Comments welcome.

From:

Geoff Chambers

Request for the Withdrawal of the Article “Climate Change Conspiracy Theories”

http://climatescience.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/

acrefore/9780190228620.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228620-e-328

by Joseph E. Uscinski, Karen Douglas, and Stephan Lewandowsky

from the Oxford Encyclopaedia of Climate Science

Contents:

1. Grounds for requesting the withdrawal of the paper

2. Introduction and Definitions

3. Treatment of Climate Scepticism in the article.

4. An error in the work of Professor Uscinski

5. An error in a paper by Karen Douglas

6. The three key papers by Stephan Lewandowsky

6.1 Introduction

6.2 The three key papers

6.3 Citations of the three papers in the OUP article

6.4 The fraudulent nature of the papers

6.5 Brief Résumé of the order of events

7. The “Moon Hoax” Paper

8. “Recursive Fury”

9. “Recurrent Fury”

10. Conclusion

Notes

1. Grounds for Requesting the Withdrawal of the Paper

1.1 This article contains numerous false or tendentious statements about the opinions, motivations and psychology of climate “sceptics” or “deniers.”

1.2 The sources cited in support of the key claims about the existence and nature of “conspiracy ideation” among climate sceptics are almost entirely the work of the three authors, and also contain a number of false statements.

1.3 One of the papers cited, Lewandowsky, S., Cook, J., Oberauer, K., & Marriott, M. (2013), has been retracted and republished in a slightly altered form. Citing a retracted a paper is ethical misconduct, as is republishing it in an altered form. The retracted paper (but not the altered, republished version) is on the list of recommended reading at the end of this article. Recommending a retracted paper as a source of scientific information is also grave academic misconduct.

1.4 The retracted paper contains a number of defamatory statements about named individuals (I am one of them.) This article, which cites the paper several times, is therefore itself also potentially defamatory.

2. Introduction and Definitions

2.1 What follows is a critical analysis of that part of the OUP article which treats the question of conspiracy theorising (or conspiracy ideation) among climate sceptics, concentrating on the three papers by Stephan Lewandowsky which form the core evidence in the scientific literature for a link between climate scepticism and conspiracy theorising.

2.2 “The article” refers to the OUP article throughout, while I use the term “paper” for the sources cited, whether they are peer-reviewed scientific papers or opinion pieces. Page references are to the 43-page PDF version of the article. Numbers in square brackets refer to sources in the notes at the end of this document.

2.3 The term “climate sceptic” is used here to refer to anyone who is regularly described thus in discussion on the climate. It therefore includes not only those who are openly sceptical of the claims made by the scientific “consensus,” but also those, like Lord Lawson, Bjorn Lomberg, or even blogger Steve McIntyre, who declare themselves NOT to be sceptical of the official position on man-made global warming, but critical of certain scientific claims, or of the efficacity of policies proposed. Such people sometimes refer to themselves as “lukewarmers,” but defenders of the consensus view refuse to admit the distinction and it seems pointless to insist.

2.31 Some defenders of the consensus object to the term “sceptic” being appropriated by those opposed to the “scientific consensus” on the grounds that all scientists are sceptical by nature, and those who “deny the science of global warming” should be termed “denialists,” the term favoured by Lewandowsky and his co-author John Cook, owner of a popular anti-sceptic blog called, confusingly, “SkepticalScience.”

2.4 Defenders of the orthodox or consensus view of climate change are referred to as Warmists, even though it is also sometimes considered derogatory. It is used here simply because, as Cook has pointed out, no-one has come up with a better term. [1]

2.5 The use of the term “consensus” does not imply acceptance of the claim, made in the article and universally promoted by warmists, of an overwhelming (97%) belief among experts in dangerous man-made global warming.

2.6 One important distinction to be made is between sceptics in the general population and those who are the subject of the three Lewandowsky papers examined below (Sections 7-9.) The latter are defined by Lewandowsky as “denizens of climate blogs” i.e. those who write, read, and comment at blogs treating the question of climate. The most popular sceptic blog, WattsUpWithThat, has a readership of hundreds of thousands, possibly a million, every month, [2] and almost certainly includes the entire population of climate sceptics in the sense used by Lewandowsky. The readership of warmist blogs is probably rather less, but their views are more widely broadcast via the environmental blogs of pro-consensus media. Informal readership surveys and simple observation reveal that the “blog denizens” as defined by Lewandowsky are atypical of the general population, with a large proportion of highly educated (post-graduate) scientists, engineers and professional people. (Statisticians and accountants figure largely among sceptics.) With “blog denizens” – both sceptics and warmists – numbering in the low millions at most, and a population of the English speaking world of around 400 million, it is clearly illegitimate to draw conclusions from one group to the other.

3. Treatment of Climate Scepticism in the article.

This article contains a number of false and derogatory statements about climate “sceptics” or “denialists,” clearly implying that those who criticise or question parts of the scientific “consensus” on man-made climate change do so for base motives, or for reasons of ideology or personal psychology. It is a fundamental rule of research in the social sciences that examination of difference of opinion on controversial subjects should start from a position of neutrality as to the subject of contoversy. It is legitimate to examine why people think as they do, but not on the basis of a prior assumption that they are wrong. Tthere may be cases where it is legitimate to assume that they are mistaken (in the case of Flat-Earthers, or certain cult members, for example.) It is not legitimate in the case of those who criticise or question the “overwhelming” climate consensus.

3.1. Examples of false or tendentious statements in the article summary.

3.11. The first sentence of the first paragraph of the summary of this article states:

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.”

and the point is repeated (p.2)

“… global warming is happening, is human caused, and presents a global problem.”

No references are cited for the first claim, and none of the six references cited in support of the latter formulation mention “deleterious consequences” or “a global problem.” They simply derive from the literature (or in one case, from an opinion poll) evidence for a consensus on the existence of man-made global warming. The elision of one concept into another is a standard part of the rhetoric used in the climate debate.

3.12. The summary 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. Resistance, in this latter case, sometimes referred to as climate skepticism or denialism‘ …

“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. 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.”

The above typology divides resistance to the climate consensus into three groups: 1) spokespersons for the carbon-based energy industry; 2) ideologues; and, 3)perhaps the most alarming and visible,” “those who … 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.”

There is no room in this typology for reasoned criticism of aspects of the science or of current mitigation policies, or even for the simple observation that science proceeds by trial and error, that scientists make mistakes, and that there is enormous uncertainty in our understanding of the climate, and in particular of future climate change.

3.13. The summary continues:

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. 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.”

Again, no evidence or references are provided for this statement. While it is quite true that many climate sceptics “suggest the well-publicized consensus is either manufactured or illusory,” the number who believe that “some nefarious force …want[s] to use climate change as a cover for exerting massive new controls over the populace” is rather small, as Lewandowsky’s own research has determined. [3] And the “conspiracy-laden rhetoric” occurs only in the three papers by Lewandowsky which form the main, if not the sole, evidence for conspiracy theorising among climate scepticism. These papers will be examined in detail in sections 6 – 9. Before proceeding to a detailed criticism of these papers, a couple of serious errors in the work of the other two authors of this article should be noted.

4 . An Error in the work of Professor Uscinski

Professor Uscinski has 6 sources listed in the bibliography, quoted 33 times in the text. By far the most frequently cited source, quoted 27 times, is his book, “Uscinski, J. E., & Parent, J. M. (2014). American conspiracy theories. New York: Oxford University Press.”

Professor Uscinski is an expert on conspiracy theories, but not on climate conspiracy theories. The only substantive mention of climate change I could find in his book is on p.29, where he says:

Perhaps the most well-documented evidence of backlash involves psychology professor Stephan Lewandowsky. He and several colleagues examined the link between conspiratorial thinking and the rejection of climate science. Upon publication of their findings, conspiracy theorists accused the authors of a plot to smear climate change skeptics by fabricating data, misanalyzing the findings and purposefully biasing their study so as to achieve a preordained conclusion. Some accused the corporate media and the Australian government of being in on the ruse as well. Conspiracy theorists even conjectured as to which of the co-authors was the stringpuller behind the plot.

Maths prof Kevin Judd is the mastermind behind [the study]. He is apparently a brilliant mathematician, chess and go player and computerwhizz. He is a typical reclusive mad scientist. There is no doubt he is behind [the studies].”

This anecdote is referenced to Lewandowsky’s retracted article “Recursive Fury,” but the quote has been altered in Uscinski’s version. Judd is not a co-author of Lewandowsky, and there is no mention of any “studies” in the original quote, which is from one Donald Woerd, which means “Donald Duck” in Dutch. The comment quoted, from the popular climate sceptic blog WattsUpWithThat, was the only one which Donald Woerd/Duck has ever made anywhere on the internet, according to Google. There is no evidence that he was or is a climate change skeptic or a conspiracy theorist. [4]

I wrote twice to Professor Uscinski pointing out that his one example of a link between climate scepticism and conspiratorial thinking was based entirely upon one altered quote from a non-existent person, or duck, but he hasn’t replied.

5. An error in a paper by Karen Douglas

The paper by Wood, M., Douglas, K., & Sutton, R. (2012) “Dead and alive: Beliefs in contradictory conspiracy theories” claims that conspiracy theorists tend to hold contradictory beliefs, and cites as an example a survey in which there appeared to be a correlation between belief that Princess Diana was murdered by government agents, and belief that she was still alive. This paper assumed an importance in Professor Lewandowsky’s formulation of conspiratorial thinking, since it is the sole evidence cited for one of the traits of conspiracy theorists, namely “unreflexive counterfactual thinking” or an inability to think straight.

Blogger Steve McIntyre wrote to lead author Dr (now Professor) Wood requesting the data for the survey. His request was refused, but he obtained it via a Freedom of Information request. It revealed that there was no-one in the survey who believed these two contradictory propositions. An apparent correlation between the two beliefs was a statistical mirage, produced by the fact that the overwhelming majority of respondents disbelieved both propositions. McIntyre suggested that Wood might withdraw the article, but Wood refused. This paper is on the short list of recommended reading at the end of this article. Citing and recommending a paper containing material which is known to be false is academic misconduct. [5]

6. The three key papers by Stephan Lewandowsky.

6.1 There are eleven papers by Lewandowsky cited in the article. One of them, Lewandowsky, Gignac, et al. (2013)frequently cited in the article – reports the findings of a nationwide survey of Americans on belief in conspiracy theories. It finds a weak link among the population at large between conspiracy theorising and climate scepticism. It also finds a fairly large proportion of the population who believe in certain conspiracy theories, larger by nearly a magnitude than the proportions of “denizens of climate blogs” who believed in the same conspiracy theories, thus confirming my observation above (section 2.6) that one cannot draw conclusions about one population from findings about the other. That members of the public who are suspicious of authorities in one field should also be suspicious in another is hardly surprising, and this uncontroversial study is therefore not dealt with here.

6.2 The three key papers which deal with climate sceptics active on internet blogs are these:

Lewandowsky, S., Oberauer, K., & Gignac, G. (2013). NASA faked the moon landing—therefore (climate) science is a hoax: An anatomy of the motivated rejection of science. Psychological Science

Lewandowsky, S., Cook, J., Oberauer, K., & Marriott, M. (2013). Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation. Frontiers in Psychology

Lewandowsky, S., Cook, J., Oberauer, K., Brophy, S., Lloyd, E. A., & Marriott, M. (2015). Recurrent fury: Conspiratorial discourse in the blogosphere triggered by research on the role of conspiracist ideation in climate denial. Journal of Social and Political Psychology

I shall refer to them as “Moon Hoax,” “Recursive Fury,” and Recurrent Fury.”

6.3 The importance of these three papers is underlined in the article thus: (p10)

Perhaps the most telling study of conspiracy talk is by Lewandowsky, Cook, Oberauer, and Marriott (2013) [Recursive Fury] and Lewandowky, Cook, et al. (2015) [Recurrent Fury]. 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) [Moon Hoax]. 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) [Recurrent Fury].

Recurrent Fury is also cited in support of the statement that “individuals with elevated levels of conspiratorial thinking are more likely to deny the existence and severity of anthropogenic climate change” (p.2)

and in support of the statement that “Some deniers argue that the scientific knowledge produced in the current academic environment is a tool for “collectivist” coercive policies. From this perspective, academic scientists, regulators, political activists, and even businesses that may profit from climate mitigation (e.g., the solar industry) have created a “climatism cartel” that unnecessarily imposes social costs on all citizens by increasing energy prices. This conspiracy-laden line of reasoning was also used by the tobacco industry:…. The same conspiratorial language has been found to be endemic in climate-denying discourse as well.” (p.14)

Recurrent Fury and Moon Hoax are cited in support of the statement that: “recent studies by Lewandowsky and colleagues suggest that underlying conspiratorial thinking does indeed drive the rejection of the scientific consensus on climate change” (p.9)

and in support of the statement that Perhaps the best evidence showing that conspiracy thinking drives climate denial are works from Lewandowsky et al. who show that conspiracy thinking has a positive relationship with climate change denial” (p. 22).

Moon Hoax is cited in support of the statement that: Finally, more studies should expand upon the important works of Lewandowsky et al. These works provide the best evidence of a link between conspiracy thinking and climate change attitudes.” (p.25)

6.4 The fraudulent nature of the papers.

There is nothing in these three papers which supports the claimed link between conspiracy thinking and climate change denial. Nothing at all. The three papers, are all fraudulent, in their different ways, and Lewandowsky’s active campaign in the press and on blogs in their defence has been marked by an astonishing level of insinuation, vindictiveness, and outright lies. Thanks to the solidarity of the academic world (except for Frontiers in Science, which retracted the second article) and the supine ignorance of environmental journalists in the mainstream press, Lewandowsky’s claim that “conspiratorial thinking drives the rejection of the scientific consensus on climate change” has been established as a fact in the minds of a large section of the public.

6.5 Brief Résumé of the order of events

6.51 At the end of August 2010 Lewandowsky posted a questionnaire at a free on-line polling agency which was to be the basis of the Moon Hoax paper. The questionnaire was linked at a number of “pro-science” (i.e. anti-sceptic) blogs. Three weeks later he announced preliminary results based on 1100 responses in a presentation at Monash University.

6.52 Nearly two years later, in mid-July, Psychological Science announced the forthcoming Moon Hoax paper. A “pre-publication” version of the paper was made available at an article in the Guardian on the 27th July. Two blogs, one British, the other German (but in English), picked up the story on 29th July, and the Supplementary Material, containing most, but not all, of the raw data, was made available at a sceptical blog on the 31st August. The story was picked up by other blogs and continued throughout September and into October.

6.53 Between the 3rd and the 19th of September 2012 Lewandowsky published no less than ten articles at the University of Western Australia blog ShapingTomorrowsWorld taunting and insulting sceptics who posted questions and criticisms of his article.

6.54 5th February 2013 Recursive Fury was “prepublished,” then “removed for typesetting” and published on 18th March in two different versions.

6.55 25th March 2013 Moon Hoax was finally published at Psychological Science, eight months after its “pre-publication.”

6.56 27th March 2014 Recursive Fury was retracted, following “a small number of complaints, some of which were cogent and well-argued.” Lewandowsky immediately claimed falsely that the retraction was in response to “threats” from critics. Three editors resigned from the board of Frontiers in Science.

6.57 In April 2013 Lewandowsky received the prestigious Wolfson Merit award from the Royal Society, (a “five figure sum” designed to encourage “outstanding talent” to establish itself in the UK) and joined Bristol University as Professor of Cognitive Psychology.

6.58 On 8th July 2015 Recurrent Fury was published. This is the retracted Recursive Fury paper with 27 of its quotes anonymised and altered in an (unsuccessful) attempt to make them untraceable on Google, and the addition of a “blind test,”- an opinion poll among postgraduate students who said in effect: “yes, it sounds conspiratorial alright.”

7. The “Moon Hoax” Paper

NASA faked the moon landing—therefore (climate) science is a hoax: An anatomy of the motivated rejection of science.” reports the result of an on-line survey conducted in August/September 2010. A link to the questionnaire was published at seven “pro-science” (i.e. anti-sceptic) climate sites in late August 2010, and commenters remarked at the time that the purpose of the poll was clearly to label climate sceptics as conspiracy theorists. [6] As all the sites involves were “warmist” sites, dedicated to combating climate scepticism, this was not seen as a problem. In late September, just three weeks after the survey launch, Lewandowsky was able to announce preliminary results based on 1100 responses in a presentation at Monash University.

Psychological Science announced the forthcoming paper in mid-July 2012, and an article at the Guardian on 27th of July [7] provided a link to a “pre-publication” version of the paper. Criticism of the paper began on sceptic blogs on 29th of July at the British site BishopHill [8] and the German NoTricksZone [9]. Criticism focussed at first on the statement that: “Links were posted on 8 blogs (with a pro-science science stance but with a diverse audience); a further 5 “skeptic” (or “skeptic”-leaning) blogs were approached but none posted the link.” When the list of 8 “pro-science” blogs which linked to the survey was published, it was noted that they were all vehemently anti-sceptic. No link was found at SkepticalScience, by far the most important of these blogs. Blogger Barry Woods contacted Lewandowsky who assured him that the link had been published at SkepticalScience. I separately asked for confirmation at SkepticalScience, and Cook emailed me privately, and after some prevarication, stated “I did link to the survey,” which indeed he had done, on Twitter. An FOI request later confirmed that Cook’s reply to Lewandowsky’s request to link to the survey had been to offer a tweet, and to link at some future date. Internal correspondence at SkepticalScience later confirmed that around October 2010, Cook was discussing the possibility of conducting on-line research into blog users at some future date. [10]

To counter criticisms of the methodology of collecting the opinions of sceptics via sites devoted to countering the views of sceptics, Cook conducted an internal audit of readers at SkepticalScience, and established that a small but significant proportion of commenters did hold sceptical views, a point which was irrelevant, since the survey was never linked there.

Comment at sceptic blogs turned to the claim that “5 skeptic’ (or ”skeptic’-leaning) blogs were approached but none posted the link.” All the major sceptic blogs checked their mail and were unable to find any such approach. Lewandowsky met the request to provide details with the absurd claim that he would require ethical clearance before revealing the names of blogs he had approached. When Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit finally discovered a mail from one Charles Hanich, with no indication of a link to Lewandowsky or the University of Western Australia, Lewandowsky released the names of the blogs approached. In the meantime, he had refused to provide the simple information necessary for identifying the request (the name of Hanich, for example) and had mocked the sceptics’ failure to find the emails on his university blog Shapingtomorrowsworld. [11]

On the 31st of August BishopHill provided a link to the supplemental Material to the paper containing most, but not all, of the raw data, [12] and it soon became clear, thanks to the work of British blogger Manicbeancounter, that the headline claim about a link between climate scepticism and belief that the moon landing was a hoax was based on just ten respondents, representing just under 1% of warmists and just over 2% of sceptics. Figures for belief in conspiracy theories were so low that the claim to be able to detect a correlation from a sample of 145-175 sceptics (depending on the definition) was clearly groundless. Sociologist José Duarte later identified just three respondents who believed that both climate change and the moon landing were hoaxes. [13] The story was picked up by other blogs and continued throughout September and October. In the end, well over a hundred blog articles were written, eliciting at least ten thousands comments.

In March 2013 the ”Moon Hoax” paper was finally published, with a few small changes, including corrections of false statements made about sceptical bloggers Steve McIntyre and Jeff Condon.

McIntyre and others provided convincing evidence that at least two of the respondents were falsely claiming to be sceptics, since they claimed to be absolutely convinced of the truth of all, or all except one, of the conspiracy theories. [14] It is known that there were many attempts to “scam” the survey, since the paper admits to removing over a hundred responses, either because they were from duplicate IP addresses, or because they reported impossible ages of over 95 or under 10. (In a separate Lewandowsky survey on opinions on climate change, social scientist José Duarte discovered several minors and one respondent over 32 thousand years old.) [15] Such gross incompetence in a commercial survey would lead to rupture of contract and possibly legal action. Even without these basic errors, the survey’s claim to establish psychological findings about a few hundred thousand active climate sceptics on the basis of a few dozen responses to an anonymous on-line survey is absurd. The paper is worthless.

8 “Recursive Fury”

On 5th February 2013 the online journal “Frontiers in Personality Science and Individual Differences” pre-published “Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation”by Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook, Klaus Oberauer and Michael Hubble-Marriott. Following complaints from two bloggers that their views were misrepresented which mentioned the possibility of legal action, the pre-published version was twice “removed for typesetting” and finally published on 18th March 2013.

According to the abstract:

This article analyzes the response of the climate blogosphere to the publication of LOG12 [“Moon Hoax”]. We identify and trace the hypotheses that emerged in response to LOG12 and that questioned the validity of the paper’s conclusions. Using established criteria to identify conspiracist ideation, we show that many of the hypotheses exhibited conspiratorial content and counterfactual thinking. For example, whereas hypotheses were initially narrowly focused on LOG12, some ultimately grew in scope to include actors beyond the authors of LOG12, such as university executives, a media organization, and the Australian government.”

The “content analysis” which forms the basis of the paper consists of a search of articles at sceptical websites about the “Moon Hoax” paper during the period August-October 2012” using the search term “Stephan Lewandowsky.”

In fact, the anlysis began on 29th August, while serious criticism of the Moon Hoax paper began on 27th July. The research was limited to the top thirty sceptical sites, and the search term “Stephan Lewandowsky” naturally eliminated any reference to the author which failed to give his full name, or (a frequent occurrence) spelt it wrong. (His co-author John Cook refers to him as “Steve” on his own blog.) The research was carried out by authors Cook and Marriott, both of whom run blogs attacking sceptics (SkepticalScience and “Watching the Deniers”) and neither of whom had any relevant qualifications or experience in this kind of research.

Six criteria for conspiracy ideation were established from the literature, and ten conspiratorial hypotheses identified in blog comments, illustrated by 36 quotes from blogs, chosen from 172 listed in the supplementary material. ,Among the 172 quotes from alleged “climate deniers” was one from professor Richard Betts of the British Meteorological Office. When this was pointed out, it led to the only known example of Professor Lewandowsky admitting a mistake. Bullies only cede before superior force.

Between the 3rd and the 19th of September Lewandowsky published no less than ten articles at the University of Western Australia blog ShapingTomorrowsWorld mocking and insulting sceptics who posted questions and criticisms of his article. Responses to Lewandowsky’s taunts were included as evidence for conspiratorial thinking. [16]

Table 3 of the paper names five people as originators of the ten conspiratorial hypotheses. Three are owners of well-known blogs, Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts and Jo Nova, and two completely unknown, myself and the anonymous “RAM.” Both Steve and I have quotes attributed to us which are not ours. Of the ten conspiracy hypotheses aired, four are true, and the others are either not proven or were reasonable hypotheses, given that information to establish the truth was not provided, either in the paper, or by Lewandowsky when requested. Given that the search of websites began 29th August, fully a month after the paper became available and the first critical comments appeared, the claim to have identified the “originators” of conspiracy theories is worthless.

Attached to the list of hypotheses in Table 3 is a list of the symptoms of conspiracy ideation demonstrated by each of the five people claimed to be the originators of each of the hypotheses. These include “pervasive self-perception … as the victims of organized persecution” and “counterfactual thinking” or an inability to reason, demonstrated by the ability to believe two contradictory hypotheses. The only reference for this latter characteristic is the paper by Wood and Douglas mentioned above (section 5) which established a correlation between belief in Princess Diana’s murder and belief that she was still alive, based on a sample of zero respondents.

The editors of the journal received “a small number of complaints, some of which were cogent and well-argued,” and on 27th March 2014 Recursive Fury was retracted. At least two of the complaints, from Steve McIntyre and me, pointed out that the attribution of psychological traits such as feelings of persecution and an inability to reason was defamatory. [17]

The announcement of the retraction by the journal “Frontiers..” at their blog, formulated in the presence of Lewandowsky’s lawyer, [18] provoked further reaction, with Lewandowsky and his supporters falsely claiming that the retraction was due to “threats” received by the publishers, leading to two further statements from the editor, stating, inter alia Frontiers did not ‘cave in to threats’; in fact, Frontiers received no threats.” [19]

There were many more articles in the mainstream media, on the lines of: “Identification of conspiracy theorising among climate sceptics leads to conspiracy theorising,” [20] as well as at the influential site Retraction Watch. [21] Meanwhile, Lewandowsky has widened his campaign against climate scepticism in a number of articles and papers proposing limitation of access to data to “accredited scholars” and complaining of persecution of climate scientists and those associated with them. [22]

9. “Recurrent Fury”

This paper, published on 8th July 2015, describes itself as an anonymized and updated version of the thematic analysis reported by Lewandowsky, Cook, et al. (2013), together with two additional studies involving blind and naïve participants that confirm the initial conclusions advanced in Recursive Fury.”

A quick google search established that the effort to anonymise quotes was fruitless, since the search leads back to the Recursive Fury paper, which is still available on the journal’s website. [23]

The account here at the OUP article is slightly different: “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).” [emphasis added]

Retitling and republishing a retracted paper is academic misconduct. Claiming threats of legal action, when no such threats were made, is defamation.

10. Conclusion

The material in this article at the OUP Encyclopaedia of Climate Science is almost wholly based on the findings of three papers of which the first author is Stephan Lewandowsky. The first, the “Moon Hoax” paper, draws conclusions about the mental health of a few hundred thousand climate sceptic “denizens of climate blogs” based on a sample of 175 anonymous untraceable on-line respondents who claimed to be climate sceptics, only a few of whom believed in conspiracy theories. In the follow up paper “Recursive Fury,” four climate sceptics are named, accused (falsely) of being the originators of specific conspiracy theories, and attributed psychological labels (“irrational,” “persecution.., “counterfactual..” etc.) which are clearly defamatory. Dozens more cited in the paper or in the supplementary material are similarly defamed.

Either those named are indeed suffering from grave psychological defects (feelings of persecution and an inability to reason), in which case Lewandowsky is insulting and denigrating named persons with mental problems, (serious misconduct in a psychologist) or they aren’t, in which case the remarks are defamatory.

I request that you remove the article from the OUP Encyclopaedia. I further request that the authors apologise to me and to the other people defamed in the article, and that they desist from making such defamatory remarks in the future.

Notes:

[1] Cook, in conversation with his co-authors on the SkepticScience site

[2] Lewandowsky, in the introduction of his “Moon Hoax” paper (p.7 of PDF) mentions that “Popular climate blogs can register upward of 700,000 monthly visitors,” presumably referring to Anthony Watts’ “WattsUpWithThatblog.

[3] The number of “denizens of climate blogs” (the subjects of Lewandowsky’s research) who believed such conspiracy theories in his first paper was vanishingly small, and none of the 172 quotes which form the data for his second paper makes this point, as far as I can remember.

[4] A detailed analysis is at

https://cliscep.com/2017/10/04/lewandowskys-favourite-conspiracy-theory/

[5] A detailed analysis is at

https://climateaudit.org/2013/11/07/more-false-claims-from-lewandowsky/

[6] For a selection of quotes from comments at ”pro-science” blogs, see my comment (Jul 29, 2012 at 11:14 PM) and (Jul 30, 2012 at 11:44 AM) at

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/discussion/post/1904675

[7] byAdam Corner at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/jul/27/climate-sceptics-conspiracy-theorists

[8]http://bishophill.squarespace.com/discussion/post/1904675

[9] http://notrickszone.com/2012/07/29/australian-psychologists-claim-climate-science-skeptics-are-the-moon-landing-conspiracy-theorists/#sthash.agKlJykF.dpbs

[10] For a selection of quotes of Cook’s encounter with Lewandowsky, see my comments at (Jul 30, 2012 at 3:42 PM) and (Jul 30, 2012 at 5:09 PM) at http://bishophill.squarespace.com/discussion/post/1904675

[11] See e.g. http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskyCCCresponse1.html

for an example of the tone of Lewandowsky’s interactions with the people whose opinions he is supposedly analyising in a”’scientific” paper. Having hidden his involvement behind the name of an unknown assistant, and having refused to help bloggers in their legitimate efforts to find the emails he claimed to have sent, he mocks them for their inability to find them.

[12]http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2012/8/31/lewandowskys-data.html

[13]http://www.joseduarte.com/blog/lewandowsky-fraud

[14]https://climateaudit.org/2012/09/08/lewandowsky-scam/

[15]http://www.joseduarte.com/blog/minors-lewandowsky-and-ceremonial-ethics

[16] http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/ccc1.html

http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/ccc2.html

http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskyCCCresponse1.html

http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskyVersionGate.html

http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskySouljah.html

http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskyGof4.html

http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskyScammers1.html

http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskyDH.html

http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskySEM.html

http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/oberauerEFA.html

[17]Steve McIntyre’s letter to “Frontiers..” is at

http://www.climateaudit.info/correspondence/lewandowsky/complaint%20uwa%20-%20material%20falsehood%20final.pdf

My correspondence with “Frontiers” is at

https://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/lews-talk-costs-libels/

https://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/lewandowsky-my-part-in-his-downfall/

[18]The retraction statement is here

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00293/full and an update is here

https://www.frontiersin.org/blog/Retraction_of__Recursive_Fury__%3Cbr%3EA_Statement/812

[19]

https://www.frontiersin.org/blog/Retraction_of__Recursive_Fury__%3Cbr%3EA_Statement/812

[20] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/mar/21/contrarians-bully-climate-change-journal-retraction

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-deniers-intimidate-journal-into-retracting-paper-that-finds-they-believe-conspiracy-theories/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/elaine-mckewon/why-this-is-a-dark-time-for-the-field-of-climate-science_b_5174083.html

[21]http://retractionwatch.com/2013/03/28/why-publishers-should-explain-why-papers-disappear-the-complicated-lewandowsky-study-saga/

http://retractionwatch.com/2013/04/03/update-lewandowsky-et-al-paper-on-conspiracist-ideation-provisionally-removed-due-to-complaints/

http://retractionwatch.com/2014/03/21/controversial-paper-linking-conspiracy-ideation-to-climate-change-skepticism-formally-retracted/

http://retractionwatch.com/2015/07/08/recursive-recursiveness-retracted-lewandowsky-et-al-conspiracy-ideation-study-republished/

[22] http://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/the-subterranean-war-on-science

[23]For a detailed analysis see

https://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/new-triple-thickness-lew-paper/

https://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/mister-1-lew-screws-up-again/

https://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/googling-lew-repulsive-ferret-revisited/

120 thoughts on “Letter to Oxford University Press

  1. It’s rather long and boring, and I don’t expect many to be interested enough to wade through it all.

    Well, what are the early hours for when one has toothache?

    This is a wonderful, restrained and painstaking summary of a disgusting bit of history, now afforded its place in, and thus defiling, the OUP. Here it is for the record. Thank you.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. A splendid piece of work – thank you.

    I await the outcome, with great interest.

    Like

  3. Brandon S has destroyed Lewandowsky’s work at the technical level. I don’t know if that
    would be a useful reference.

    Like

  4. In the circular rationalization of the extremists, pointing out issues with the case against skeptics is proof of the deranged wickedness of skeptics.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Any branch of “science” that feels the need of Lewandowsky’s support, is short of supporting science.

    Like

  6. I await with immense trepidation Lenandowski’s judgement. Surprised we haven’t had it yet. Perhaps his minders cannot agree upon the appropriate strategy.

    Like

  7. That seems more of a letter to your friends than to OUP – it is hard to imagine anyone at OUP reading all of that. I certainly didn’t. But on skimming the first bits I saw:

    “The above typology divides resistance to the climate consensus into three groups: 1) spokespersons for the carbon-based energy industry;…”

    That is not what the text you quoted says and I doubt it is exclusively what the authors meant.

    “There is no room in this typology for reasoned criticism …”

    Yes, there is, unless you think that none of those three groups present reasoned criticism of some form, however flawed the reasoning. Most reasoned criticism comes from within the scientific world in papers and conferences and is just part of normal science. Maybe you think none of the skeptics you know or those here fit the categories? My impression is most fit in some way into the third, perhaps with the second as a second influence and bias implanted by the first underlying much.

    Like

  8. Len Martinez, do you think Mann was correct to flatten out the MWP and LIA from the shaft of his Hockey Stick, and where is the uptick to match the blade? Lewandowsky’s believes in Mann, why do you?

    Like

  9. Overinterpretation Barry.

    I seem to be the only person so far to reply to Uscinski:

    pointing to Cliscep’s own

    So far I haven’t been blocked by the professor of political science. I doubt he is going to love the discussion but his twitter feed gives me a few glimmers of hope.

    We all agonise on what the right way is to respond to this stuff but I consider your critique nugatory in this case. I stand by what I wrote in the first comment. “Here it is for the record.” Who cares in what dishonest ways it is portrayed or the transient emotions of those doing so. Truth matters.

    Like

  10. ‘Recursive Fury, ‘ or rather, ‘ Reconcocted Fury.’

    ‘…Table 3 of the paper names five people as originators of the ten conspiratorial
    hypotheses. Three are owners of well-known blogs, Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts
    and Jo Nova, and two completely unknown, myself and the anonymous “RAM.”
    Both Steve and I have quotes attributed to us which are not ours. Of the ten
    conspiracy hypotheses aired, four are true, and the others are either not proven
    or were reasonable hypotheses, given that information to establish the truth was
    not provided, either in the paper, or by Lewandowsky when requested. Given that
    the search of websites began 29th August, fully a month * after* the paper became
    available and the first critical comments appeared, the claim to have identified the
    “originators” of conspiracy theories is worthless. ‘

    Ironic that @ (3) [22] Lewandowsky is complaining of persecution of climate scientists.

    Like

  11. Beth: ‘Reconcocted Fury’ is better than all previous candidates. And thanks for that reminder of Judy deriding clewless Lew way back in September 2012. What really struck me though is this at that time from Bert Rutan to Larry Bell:

    Larry, I’ve done all I plan to do on this for now, and have moved on to other interests. This debate will all get sorted out…

    Will it now?

    Geoff’s brilliant work here is something I would neither be capable of nor, frankly, willing to put the necessary time into. But I enormously value it. Many of us have to “move on to other interests” like Rutan, at least from time to time. And still the Royal Society funded climate sewage pipe disgorges stuff like this. Lewage we might call it. And the problem is indeed the age that, we are learning, it takes to reach its smelliest and then finally, hopefully, seep away.

    I didn’t expect the OUP to remove the piece, though von Storch is worth a try. I didn’t expect Uscinski to reply to me on Twitter. Indeed I assumed he might block me. That he hasn’t done. Yet. But, when people finally revisit this horrific debasement of science, presumably because of populist rebellion on energy prices, this will be here to explain exactly how it all went wrong. Unless the totalitarian history-rewriters end up deploying state-directed mass violence. Like Matt Ridley in September I don’t think we can completely rule it out. But in what he’s done here Geoff has made the worst case less likely.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Richard (13 Jan 18 at 9:18 am)
    Did Uscinski reply to you? My ancient browser won’t let me into the proper Twitter thing, only the mobile version and I can’t work out how to send a tweet. I enter the @ address for Joe, then what?

    The letter isn’t brilliant, simply a hard slog over the same old ground. I thought of spreading the letter around, as Paul suggests above, but decided to let the official channels do their thing. Joe might have picked up my article via Google since a ”less than a week” search for his name picks up this article.

    LEN (12 Jan 18 at 7:46 pm)

    “…it is hard to imagine anyone at OUP reading all of that.”

    It is, isn’t it? But someone will have to, because of the words “defamatory,” “academic misconduct” etc. Not only will they have to read this, they’ll have to read the 40 pages of the OPU article, about a hundred pages of Lew’s articles, and take a look at the approx. 35 references I provide, including ten articles by Lew at Shapingtomorrowsworld. My guess is that this thankless task will fall to some underling, who will have to make a summary for his boss, since he or she will have to decide whether to ask for legal advice, which is expensive.

    Like

  13. Geoff,

    But someone will have to, because of the words “defamatory,” “academic misconduct” etc.

    Why do you assume this? I see no reason why they wouldn’t simply ignore it. I probably would. Random person on internet writes letter making accusations against authors of paper – ignore.

    Like

  14. Geoff: He hasn’t replied and he hasn’t blocked me, as I half expected, as of 10:55am GMT. I didn’t expect him to reply.

    Remote debugging your use of Twitter could be hard. Ping me an email?

    Like

  15. And Then (13 Jan 18 at 10:38 am)

    I see no reason why they wouldn’t simply ignore it. I probably would.

    In which case I will take up Paul’s suggestion and write to Hans von Storch saying: “You’ve published an article which recommends a retracted paper as a source of information. What are you going to do about it?” Not all scientists are as obtuse as you seem to be suggesting, and some editors care about the reputation of their publications.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Geoff nobody will read it.. and Lew will lovinginly file it as another ‘attack on science’, by deniers trying to retract inconvenient papers, that show deniers to be.nutters.. well done, you’ve helped Lewandowsky. I sympathise, I really do.. the stats method had been pulled to pieces by Brandon,McIntyre. Dixon and Jones have shown in peer review that the conclusions of Moon are nonsense. Anyone can look at the Dead and Alive data and see it is nonsense. Other academics have published in peer review literature, that the authors political motivations were obvious, and that the conclusion was a myth essentially concocted by the researcher (Jussim et al)
    But nobody cares.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but Bristol now refuse to release any Lewandowdky data to anyone who is not an academic linked to an institution. Which means I can never submit a comment to Psychological Science. It does not matter that Lew lied to me about SKS involvement.

    Like

  17. Barry,

    Which means I can never submit a comment to Psychological Science.

    This is wrong. They collected data, analysed it, and presented an interpretation of that analysis. There is nothing stopping you from doing something comparable to either confirm, or rebut, what they suggest. You don’t need their data to do this.

    Like

  18. Ken. My comment require Lewandowsky’s metadata. As I dispute a conclusion of his.. based on his data/methodology. This is the nature of my comment

    As a comparison. It required Lewandowsky data, to show a flaw in his PLOS One data/paper.. at the time that data was available.. he had a 32,000 year old in it..

    It needed his data to resolve this, not to repeat a survey

    My concern with Lewandowsky’s paper was that he did not actually survey SkS, his metadata, referring URLs would confirm/deny this.. how on earth would me performing my own survey.. get to the bottom Lewandowsky”s screwup in his methodology of his paper..

    Like

  19. I’ve just posted a link at
    http://retractionwatch.com/2014/03/21/controversial-paper-linking-conspiracy-ideation-to-climate-change-skepticism-formally-retracted/

    Barry was world champion at the thankless task of correcting, linking, and arguing at numerous sites when this story was live, aided by a very small number of people, including Maurizio, Paul, Shub and myself among Cliscep contributors. I can’t be sure, but I think it’s thanks to our boring insistence that you will no longer see Lewandowsky’s work cited by Chris Mooney or Adam Corner, or at the Guardian, Scientific American, or the Conversation. So I don’t understand his pessimism.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Thanks Barry. Lewandowsky’s response, delivered no doubt with that irritating chuckle of his, amounts to: “If you say I’m wrong, that proves I’m right.” It’s a successful debating gambit at the Conversation but will it work at Oxford University Press?

    Like

  21. it got published. so yes, it will work, and he will bring out his “I’m attacked like this quite often” narrative, and everyone will nod along in sympathy and think him such a martyr in his efforts to defend science from attack.

    ie – he who controls the ‘narrative’ wins – (to cite George Marshall/COIN)

    [edits to punctuation by RD!]

    Like

  22. We mustn’t forget the famous anagram, which shows that God, nature, … the force has a sense of humor:

    Stephan Lewandowsky = What Lysenko Spawned

    Liked by 1 person

  23. It’s kind of surprising to see that Joe Uscinski has a lot of retweets for Reason and Reason writers like Nick Gillespie and Katherine Mangu-Ward. Lew appears to be contemptuous of libertarians.

    Like

  24. Canman
    Uscinski had an article at Reason.com some time ago. I thought he was a big name in the social science of conspiracy theories, but he doesn’t seem to have had much success publicising his book.

    Like

  25. It seems puzzling that he’d want to be associated with Lew. If he’s familiar with the quality of Lew’s climate work, he should recognize that it’s potentially toxic.

    Like

  26. I noticed that ATTP is playing the “well just publish your rebuttal” climate ball card. The problem here is that when a paper is so ridiculously wrong and slanderous, it simply should be repudiated by senior scientists in the field and retracted. The rebuttal card works in “normal” science, not in politicized science. That’s particularly true if the slandered parties are not members of the appropriate scientific field and don’t have time to do a lot of work on a submission. Further, we’ve seen this movie before with McIntyre.

    My experience is that when an important finding calls into question the fundamental soundness of a field’s the literature, the paper is published but ignored.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Canman: As an aside, I heard Nick Gillespie speak at The Battle of Ideas in London in October. Claire Fox paid handsome tribute to his encouragement of her fledgling Institute of Ideas in 2001, which led to the Battle of Ideas. The subject for the panel was Censorship and identity: free speech for me but not for you? and I met Toby Young, another panellist, on the way in. I also happened upon Nick later, walking down the stairs in the Barbican, and three of us got discussing the global warming issue. I described the basic principles of the GWPF, having discovered Nick didn’t recognise Nigel Lawson’s name: that even if the IPCC is right on the science the policies said to address the problem make no sense. He said that was very much his position – and I think he implied the same for Reason, which he edited until 2008.

    I like others was struck by this strand in Uscinski’s Twitter feed therefore. Would he call Nick Gillespie a ‘climate change denier’?

    Liked by 1 person

  28. CANMAN (13 Jan 18 at 8:12 pm)
    I don’t see that Lew is contemptuous of libertarians, only elderly white libertarians defending their economic interest by resisting higher taxes and fuel costs. Lew is fine with leftwing libertarian climate activists, just as long as he’s careful to keep off the subjects of fracking, GM crops and other forms of science denial.
    (13 Jan 18 at 8:31 pm)
    As for Uscinski associating with Lew, if his familiarity is limited to a quick skim through Moon Hoax and Fury, he won’t necessarily see anything wrong. The papers are structured alright, according to the rules of the game: a quick gallop through the literature, followed in the first paper, by some stats that demonstrate a link between this and that and, in the second, some garbled quotes torn out of context which suggest on a quick reading that his critics are a bunch of upset obsessives.

    You have to be a very upset obsessive to actually examine the stuff and discover that his stats are based on a few dozen respondents, that his most significant criterion for conspiracy ideation is based on one study by Dr (now Professor) Woods with zero respondents; and that his most referenced source is Dr (now Professor) Swami, author of “the Science of a Beautiful You” and expert on female bottoms. Oh, and that the unemployed cartoonist who screwed up the analysis for Lew’s “Fury” paper and then lied to him about it is now an assistant professor at George Mason University.

    Given that Professor Lewandowsky of the Royal Society Distinguished Medal, Dr (now Professor) Woods, Dr (now Professor) Swami, the folks at the Oxford University Press Climate Encyclopaedia, Professor Uscinski of Miami and late visiting professor at the Cambridge Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, plus the unemployed cartoonist, are all part of the same little world, I think our chances of influencing anything are pretty slim. Still, it’s fun trying.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Try looking at this matter from the point of view of Oxford University Press. They are only going to do something if there is a definite and substantial threat to their finances or to their reputation. I doubt, given the firepower of those who would strongly oppose retraction of the paper that they would consider the reputationsl threat to be real. They might also consider the controversy to be beneficial in terms of boosting publicity and sales (perhaps encouraging new product). The only way I can see OUP withdrawing the paper is if they are hit by multiple lawsuits that their lawyers tell them they are at some risk of losing.

    Like

  30. So Len and Ken, fully signed up members of the Tufty Club resent all criticism of their club.

    But, Len and Ken, does this Lew paper add anything to scientific knowledge and is it worthy of publication?

    Because you are Tufty Club members you see nothing wrong in its hilariously incompetent methodology.

    But, maybe one day you will reach maturity and wonder whether it was worthwhile hanging out with the morons in the Tufty Club.

    Obviously it won’t be anytime soon.

    Most reasoned criticism comes from within the scientific world in papers and conferences and is just part of normal science

    Too funny for words. Len the clown lives!

    Like

  31. aTTP wrote:

    “Geoff,

    But someone will have to, because of the words “defamatory,” “academic misconduct” etc.

    Why do you assume this? I see no reason why they wouldn’t simply ignore it. I probably would.”

    I genuinely find this extremely interesting. Maybe it’s because I’m a lawyer, but if I received a letter that used words like “defamatory” and “misconduct” I would take that very seriously indeed, at least to start with, and would read it from beginning to end. Depending on the content, I might or might not take it seriously after I had read it, but I WOULD read it.

    Apparently, however, academics receiving correspondence with words like “defamatory” and “academic misconduct” in it would simply ignore it, and wouldn’t even be interested in finding out if misconduct or defamation had taken place. I find that both strange and worrying. I think it says quite a lot about the world of academia, or at least the climate-related part of it, today.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Mark,
    You’re a lawyer, so presumably you can do better than this?

    Apparently, however, academics receiving correspondence with words like “defamatory” and “academic misconduct” in it would simply ignore it, and wouldn’t even be interested in finding out if misconduct or defamation had taken place.

    I was (as I thought was obvious) referring to this specific case. Maybe someone will read all of Geoff’s letter (but I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave up without finishing it). I very much doubt that they would do this (as Geoff claims)

    Not only will they have to read this, they’ll have to read the 40 pages of the OPU article, about a hundred pages of Lew’s articles, and take a look at the approx. 35 references I provide, including ten articles by Lew at Shapingtomorrowsworld. My guess is that this thankless task will fall to some underling, who will have to make a summary for his boss, since he or she will have to decide whether to ask for legal advice, which is expensive.

    Here’s the best that I can imagine happening. Someone contacts Stephan Lewandowsky. Stephan Lewandowsky points them to any of the posts/comment threads here (or elsewhere) where his work is discussed by Geoff/Barry/…… Nothing further happens.

    Like

  33. Ken. I’m saying the letter is pointless… academia wagons circled. Science under attack narrative, well established. So what is your beef with me.. I’m just happy with Prof Markram. Telling me Lew and co authors were political activists not to be trusted. (And abusing science as a weapon) and Prof Jussim’s ( peer reviewed) Lew’s – political motivations were obvious. And a myth essentially concocted by the researchers… If I wanted to ‘attack’ anyone it would be a series of blog posts at WUWT. Yet I stopped blogging years ago… All this, is just chat amongst a tiny number of people on obscure climate blogs, that nobody knows exist

    Like

  34. Barry,

    So what is your beef with me

    I don’t have a beef with you. If you’re asking why I included your name in the above comment, it was simply as an example of someone who has engaged in extensive criticism of Stephan Lewandowsky’s work on blogs.

    Like

  35. ALAN KENDALL (14 Jan 18 at 1:24 pm)
    I do try and look at this from the point of view of OUP, and in this I think I differ from most blog commenters. I googled “letter to the OUP” and there’s at least two other letters of complaint out there, one complaining that their site for scientific papers has gone haywire, and the other complaining that the Oxford Junior Dictionary has suppressed words like “acorn” and “catkin” in favour of “cut and paste.” (I’m with the Greens on this.) But my article is there too, so I expect someone is employed permanently to field these things.

    I googled Oxford University Press + Lewandowsky. First up was the OUP article, second the Harvey article on Crockford of which Lew was a co-author, and third was this article, reproduced by a blog called Iowa Climate Science Education, with this article no 6 after some stuff by one Lewandowski. What’s Iowa Climate Science Education, I thought? Could it be some operation by the Tea Party or some group of religious fundamentalists? Imagine the reaction if OUP found that my article was being touted by Jehovah’s Witnesses. So I googled again, and Iowa Watch, though promoting the official AGW line, seemed to give them the all clear. This is what I do when I’m trying to be serious and effective (which is not always, I’ll admit.) Barry Woods and Ben Pile and all the regulars here do the same, but it’s long and time consuming, and the others have jobs and possibly a life.

    Obviously we can’t threaten their finances. Can we threaten their reputation? That depends who we reach. With a daily readership up in our two years of existence from the hundreds to the low thousands, I believe we can get outside the sceptical bubble. A thousand years ago King Cnut gave the definitive answer to those of his court who thought man could control sea level rise. Who now remembers the names of the 97% of barons who formed the feudal consensus? Yet Cnut is a name on everyone’s lips.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. MARK HODGSON (14 Jan 18 at 7:29 pm)
    I am extremely interested in the opinions of a lawyer on this. I’ve long thought that the legal (or philosophical) approach of weighing the arguments, and never mind how long it takes or how abstruse and complex it gets, is the one that works in our favour.

    One of my favourite documents in the history of climate science is the judgement of Mr Justice Burton in the case of Dimmock v. the Secretary of State for Education
    http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2007/2288.html
    on the use of the Inconvenient Truth film in schools. The judge managed to destroy Al Gore’s film by the simple method of comparing everything he said with the findings of the IPCC. It’s a massacre, but conducted by a gentleman. A week later, Al Gore and the IPCC shared a Nobel prize and the Burton judgement and their scientific differences was alas forgotten.

    Steve McIntyre and I knew what we were doing (though there was no connivence on our part) when we used the word “defamatory.” Revealing the total dog’s breakfast that is “Recursive Fury” is simply to reveal that the editors and the peer reviewers didn’t do their job. The publishers “Frontiers” were never going to admit they’d looked at that and found themselves wanting. So their formula, that the paper “does not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects” got them off the hook, and they skated over the question of the quality of the paper with the formula: “This investigation did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study” without going into the question of whether they’d actually tried to identify any such issues. Lew and his supporters in the media interpreted this as meaning that there were no academic issues, allowing Lew to republish the same article, with the evidence distorted (hopefully out of recognition) and the names suppressed.

    Frontiers’ second article
    https://www.frontiersin.org/blog/Retraction_of__Recursive_Fury__%3Cbr%3EA_Statement/812
    while assuring their contributors that “One of Frontiers’ founding principles is that of authors’ rights” contains some barbs which would wound a soul a mite less thick than Lew. By saying “Frontiers did not ‘cave in to threats’; in fact, Frontiers received no threats” they effectively accuse Lew of lying.

    “Frontiers informed the authors of the conclusions of our investigation and worked with the authors in good faith, providing them with the opportunity of submitting a new paper for peer review that would address the issues identified and that could be published simultaneously with the retraction notice. The authors agreed and subsequently proposed a new paper that was substantially similar to the original paper and, crucially, did not deal adequately with the issues raised by Frontiers.”

    Read this carefully, and it means that Lewandowsky was incapable of producing a version of his paper that didn’t, to quote Frontiers” formulation, “categorize the behaviour of identifiable individuals within the context of psychopathological characteristics.” In other words, there was nothing in it except the accusation that we sceptics are nutters.

    There. A reply to a lawyer that has taken me five times the time to formulate as my usual comment, what with checking quotes and so on. No wonder I often prefer ridicule.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. It’s intriguing to see that Ken is sticking to the excuse that “I, an academic, am too illiterate to be expected to read and understand a letter of a few thousand words but these fools should be ignored for reasons that I am too stupid and incompetent to expound”

    It says it all about these crooks, doesn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  38. While I was replying to the interesting comments by Alan Kendall and Mark Hodgson, Ken ‘AND THEN THERE’S PHYSICS) Rice commented:

    Here’s the best that I can imagine happening. Someone contacts Stephan Lewandowsky. Stephan Lewandowsky points them to any of the posts/comment threads here (or elsewhere) where his work is discussed by Geoff/Barry/…… Nothing further happens.

    Nothing further happening would obviously be the best that Ken could imagine happening, since it would avoid attention being focussed on the question of what a sensible astrophysicist involved in the search for exo-planets (surely one of the most exciting scientific projects of our time) is doing co-authoring papers with swivel-eyed loonies like Cook and Lewandowsky.

    I imagine astrophysics literature includes a lot of complicated mathematical formulae and therefore doesn’t lend itself to bulk reading. But I think I can assure Ken that reading 140 pages of manuscript is not beyond the ability of most editors, or their lawyers. This will be read. And if there is no response, there will be a follow up. And – who knows? – perhaps a reference to an article co-authored by Ken Rice. And to his comments here.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Geoff,

    Nothing further happening would obviously be the best that Ken could imagine happening

    I meant best from your perspective, not best from mine. I may, of course, be wrong, but I would guess (and I do have some experience with this) that if they did take this any further all that would happen is that someone would point out that the typical tone of your comments are

    co-authoring papers with swivel-eyed loonies like Cook and Lewandowsky.

    and they would simply not take it any further.

    Like

  40. Ken, unlike you, most legal professionals are able to read more than 100 words without fainting. The ample proof from your comments that you are not exactly clever might work against you

    Liked by 2 people

  41. Geoff I have had blog posts at WUWT, that have tens of thousands of views. Nobody I ‘know’ in real life knows WUWT exists.. nobody cares….
    Climate will sort itself out on the end.. it has to. Because it is basically energy policy now.. and you can’t fake energy.. pyschology will never it seems sort itself out.. despite replication crisis in psychology itself, social sciences and other more hardcore fields. IE medicine. I don’t really have a big issue with Lew and his co-authors, activist probably believing they are doing good ‘science’. it is the enablers I see as a bigger problem.. academia,journals, peers, the wagon circulars

    Liked by 1 person

  42. …AND THEN THERE’S PHYSICS (14 Jan 18 at 10:01 pm)

    …if they did take this any further all that would happen is that someone would point out that the typical tone of your comments are “co-authoring papers with swivel-eyed loonies like Cook and Lewandowsky.” and they would simply not take it any further.

    We’re talking about editors here, and their lawyers. Unlike blog commenting astrophysicists, they’re not allowed to cherrypick their quotes, choosing my comments to you over my rather serious accusations to them. “This guy isn’t’ serious. He’s been rude to someone called Ken Physics on his comment thread.”
    OK, you’re a serious scientist, but my being rude to you wouldn’t count much against my making serious accusations against Lewandowsky and Cook. I accuse them of being liars and charlatans, and present my evidence. You defend them, with no counter evidence. Where does that leave you? And, more seriously, where does that leave proper science – astrophysics – for example?

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Geoff, I think that part of the problem is that Ken thinks that Lew is doing science. Again, it’s not a great pointer to Ken’s scientific credibility. But he prefers to be part of the Tufty Club

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Geoff. Why should what Ken writes here have any impact upon the science of astrophysics? There are numerous examples of scientists having peculiar or idiosyncratic beliefs – perhaps the most noteworthy being Newton who searched for the philosopher’s stone and believed in astrology. Not that I believe our Ken is in the same league. Idiosyncratic scientists are almost cliche.

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  45. BARRY WOODS (14 Jan 18 at 10:28 pm)
    I’ve just “liked” your comment for this: “it is the enablers I see as a bigger problem.. academia, journals, peers, the wagon circlers”

    I have had blog posts at WUWT, that have tens of thousands of views. Nobody I ‘know’ in real life knows WUWT exists.. nobody cares….

    Yes. I too had a post at WUWT. It’s great, isn’t it, to see your readership grow from hundreds to hundreds of thousands?

    Then you think: “What’s the use?” And you adjust your strategy. Getting our message beyond the sceptical bubble of the several hundred thousand viewers of WUWT involves strategic thinking. This is not one of my natural talents, but I’m trying. Are you saying that I shouldn’t bother?

    Liked by 2 people

  46. I emailed a suggestion the other week.. attend events. Like that Climate Justice one this Friday. Like I attended a climate justice event in November at my old Uni.

    Like

  47. aTTP, I don’t have to “do better than this”. Your own words condemned you, and your follow-up comment to mine compounds your error.

    “I was (as I thought was obvious) referring to this specific case. Maybe someone will read all of Geoff’s letter (but I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave up without finishing it).”

    Yes, it was obvious you were referring to this specific case, but what difference does that make? You can ignore allegations of defamation and misconduct because you’ve co-authored a paper with the person complained of, and you think he’s a good egg? You can give up reading a letter part-way through, because you think the author of the letter is wrong about other stuff, even though the parts of the letter that might establish defamation and/or misconduct might be near the end?

    You can do better than that. But unfortunately you choose not to.

    FWIW I also suspect that the wagons will circle and the authors will be protected, but if someone at OUP takes it seriously enough to involve lawyers (who are capable of reading a letter to its end), then who knows? If they advise the allegations of misconduct and defamation are unfounded (and I express no opinion one way or the other, since I’m retired, and it would be wrong of me to offer advice) then that will be the end of it, probably. But if they recognise that Geoff makes some good points, it won’t be. Lawyers advise on the evidence, not on the strength of their beliefs or who they like or dislike.

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  48. Geoff,

    OK, you’re a serious scientist, but my being rude to you wouldn’t count much against my making serious accusations against Lewandowsky and Cook. I accuse them of being liars and charlatans, and present my evidence.

    It’s got nothing to do with you being rude to me. I’m simply suggesting that your conduct here (and elsewhere) would lead people to conclude that it’s not worth taking your views seriously and, hence, they would probably not follow up your complaint. I may be wrong, of course, but that’s all I’m suggesting.

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  49. Mark,
    Sigh, wasting my time probably. I’m certainly not suggesting that accusations against researchers should always be ignored. All I’m really pointing out that it is quite likely that they will be in the case of a random person on internet writing letter making such accusations, especially if it is pretty straightforward to demonstrate that that individual has been engaged in an online vendetta against that researcher for quite some time. I’m not even really claiming that this is what should happen, I’m pointing out what I think will happen.

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  50. aTTP

    Sigh, wasting my time probably.

    Geoff is not “a random person on internet writing letter”. He has written a thoroughly-researched and carefully-structured letter direct to the organisation of which he complains (to which he has then given publicity on the internet), and made specific allegations about defamation (against himself) and misconduct.

    Any intelligent person receiving such a letter would read it through carefully, or at least pass it to their lawyers to do so. I appreciate you clarifying that “I’m not even really claiming that this is what should happen, I’m pointing out what I think will happen” but if you’re right, then it’s not a healthy state of affairs. Inconvenient stuff (inconvenient truth?) just gets ignored because it’s deemed to challenge the current dogma?

    But thank you also for this: “I’m certainly not suggesting that accusations against researchers should always be ignored.” I’m pleased to learn it.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. …AND THEN THERE’S PHYSICS (15 Jan 18 at 9:25 am)

    I’m simply suggesting that your conduct here (and elsewhere) would lead people to conclude that it’s not worth taking your views seriously

    You’re probably right there. For example, I made a silly joke, which Len Martinez interpreted as an unpleasant attack on you, so I’ve removed my comment and his. I want this thread looking nice and tidy for when the people from the OUP pop in.

    And of course Alan Kendall is quite right when he says (14 Jan 18 at 10:56 pm) that your opinions here have nothing to do with your astrophysics job.

    I’m most interested in the whole question of strategy, which is why Mark Hodgson’s remarks are so interesting. As he says, lawyers read things to the end, ands so do accountants, because missing something may cost them their jobs. Journalists and academics tend not to, in my experience. I wonder whether reading things to the end may not be a general characteristic of sceptics.

    One part of my strategy is to try and peel people away from the Lewandowsky nexus. It seems to have worked with Adam Corner, who was the first to publicise the Moon Hoax paper in a Guardian article which attracted 1300 comments. It was at my suggestion that he opened his Climate Outreach blog to comments, and it was when he reposted the Guardian article there that Barry and I and a tiny number of Bishop Hill regulars took the Moon Hoax paper apart in a public forum, a month before WattsUpWithThat and the other major blogs. Adam does psychological research into climate scepticism at Cardiff University, just round the corner from Lewandowsky at Bristol. Yet Adam never mentions him, and vice versa. It’s a small point, but we sceptics learn to be satisfied with small victories.

    Liked by 1 person

  52. Mark,

    Inconvenient stuff (inconvenient truth?) just gets ignored because it’s deemed to challenge the current dogma?

    No. There’s a thing called academic freedom, which essentially means that researchers should be free to study what they want without feeling as though doing so would carry any significant risk to their career, or their person. It clearly does not protect from everything. Clearly there are ethical issues to consider. Clearly there is an expectation that they have not committed some kind of fraud, or plagiarism.

    So, if someone is going to make an accusation against a researcher, it will probably have to be pretty specific and quite clear. Not liking what they publish is not going to qualify. Not liking what they’ve done in the past is not going to qualify. Appearing to find an error also probably doesn’t really qualify – you could ask them to correct it, or you could publish a response, but making a mistake isn’t academic misconduct.

    So, unless the complaint is pretty clear and pretty watertight, it’s quite likely that organisations will favour the researcher over the complainant. They may be wrong to do so in some cases, but this is likely to be the default position unless there are strong reasons to do otherwise. This is probably especially true when the research area is one that is clearly contentious. In my view, we should be careful of allowing politically-motivated complaints to undermine people’s ability to undertake research.

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  53. ATTP, I don’t disagree with your view of how academic pocedures work, which is probably why science is losing respect from the public. Journals are little more than trade magazines with all the mistakes, exaggeration and self promotion those waste paper bin fillers deal in. Who cares if academics waste public money eh?

    Dr Lew should be condemned by warmists because he’s wasting resources. He’s no idea why people are sceptic of AGW and/or renewables and the only value to the warmist cause is his campaign of trying to make people think that being a climate change denier equates to being an idiot, therefore people will be warned off. Such a technique might work superficially but it won’t get people to fundamentally change their attitude. If he was a half decent psychologist, he’d be examining people’s actions, not their stated positions. It would be an eye opener. But that would be real science.

    We are tired of the hectoring priest class, telling us that we’re all sinners but with no proof to back up their claims, let alone evidence in their behaviour that they believe their own lies.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Documenting just how bad the paper is, as Richard has pointed out, a good thing in and of itself.
    But have no doubt that offering the analysis to OUP is a pearls before swine effort. The circular process they use instead of thinking makes the immune to critiques, especially critiques from those they are dehumanizing. When people in the hey day of communism would offer critiques and warnings about the nightmares of communism, the critiques were typically dismissed.
    The NYT famously kept a journalist on staff who woukd write deliberate falsehoods glorifying Stalin’s rule and the great achievements of the USSR. Lewandowsky and the OUP are in good company as they work to deceive and distract oeople about climate and skeptics.

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  55. tiny CO2,
    ATTP is so full of crap he might even have convinced himself. Why waste time on such a cowardly twit?
    He still doesn’t allow skeptics to post on his site while having the arrogance to post his drivel here.

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  56. I feel very strange. Apart from Ken’s last sentence, I agree with his. 11.34 post pretty much in its entirety. This places me in an unknown position.

    However if a publication contains falsehoods that the author should have known were such (i.e. adequate scholarship was not done), like in the Harvey et al. 2017 paper, then this cannot be justified on the grounds of academic freedom. Academic freedom is not a licence to break the law. From what I have read of Geoff’s complaint letter he is complaining that 1) Uscinski, Douglas and Lewandowsky breaks the law and 2) it relies upon literature (much of it written by the same authors) that similarly breaks the law. Accordingly a defence of “academic freedom” should not prevail.

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  57. I should have been more specific: the falsehoods I talk about are those that falsely brand or stigmatise individuals or groups – like falsely linking skeptics with conspiracy theorists when there is no evidence supporting such a claim. That’s not just bad science but is defamatory.

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  58. does no one in academia care if the work is total crap?

    an example- The Dead and Alive paper , that gets cited so much.. despite not a single one of the 137 2nd year 20 year old psychology students actually – simultaneously agreeing the ‘novel finding’ – they just screwed up the stats model..

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  59. Alan: to quote

    Prof Lee Jussim (Rutgers, social Psychology)..

    “The implication that climate skeptics believe in the faking of the moon landing is another phantom fact. Out of over 1,145 respondents, there was a grand total of 10 who believed the moon landing was faked. Among the 134 participants that ‘rejected climate science” only THREE people 2% endorsed the moon landing hoax. The link asserted in the title of the paper did not exists in the sample.”

    “…The notion that skeptics believed something so silly as faking of the moon landing is yet another myth essentially concocted by the researchers” – Jussim, Crawford, Stevens, Anglin, & Duarte (2016). Can high moral purposes undermine scientific integrity? – The Sydney Symposium on the Social Psychology of Morality.

    and:

    Quillete article about this here:
    http://quillette.com/2015/1

    “…Jussim pointed out that the level of obfuscation the authors went to, in order to disguise their actual data, was intense. Statistical techniques appeared to have been chosen that would hide the study’s true results. And it appeared that no peer reviewers, or journal editors, took the time, or went to the effort of scrutinizing the study in a way that was sufficient to identify the bold misrepresentations.

    While the authors’ political motivations for publishing the paper were obvious, it was the lax attitude on behalf of peer reviewers – Jussim suggested – that was at the heart of the problems within social psychology.” – Quillete

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  60. and the ethical/conflict of interests issues..

    Lewandowsky, chose as an ‘independent researcher’ Michael Marriott. (Librarian, Watching the Deniers – blogger) for Recursive Fury (and Recurrent Fury) co-author

    Michael, who thought he was at war with the people he was researching, wrote attack blog posts about the people he was researching, publicly called the people he was researching names, liars, cranks, deniers, bullshit, etc, and interacted with the people he was researching, pushing them to answer his questions, about the very topic he was researching..

    having psychology “researchers” that are openly at ‘war’ with the people they are ‘researching’ is I thought, and being abusive towards them, NOT a good look for psychology.. where even the perception of a conflict, would be of a concern (or so I thought – as does the national statement of research ethics)

    oh, and Marriot in doing the above.. broke Lewandowsky’s UWA (low risk, joke?) ethics approval, observe, no interaction of any sort.

    UWA ethics department found ‘nothing wrong’ though the report is super confientail, ie noone has seen it. Fronter’s rejected this, and retracted anyway.

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  61. ALAN KENDALL (15 Jan 18 at 12:10 pm)

    “I feel very strange. Apart from Ken’s last sentence, I agree with his. 11.34 post pretty much in its entirety.”

    What’s wrong with Ken’s last sentence? I agree with every word of it. The problem is, like practically everything said about climate sceptics, it just doesn’t apply to my letter. But how would Ken know that, since he hasn’t read it?

    I am most certainly not accusing the authors of breaking the law. It’s about academic misconduct. I stuck these words, plus “defamatory” in right at the beginning, to get their interest. Ken is quite right that finding an error is not enough. It’s easy enough to demonstrate that the methodology was rubbish, the questionnaire was rubbish, the creation of the criteria for conspiracy ideation from the literature was rubbish, and the analysis was rubbish. But that’s not enough to get the paper withdrawn, for the reasons Ken gives.

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  62. SandervanderLinden
    Social Psychologist @Cambridge_Uni #fakenews vaccine. Director, Social Decision-Making Lab @CambPsych, Fellow @ChurchillCol & blog @sciammind views my own

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  63. I confess I’ve never looked at the references that Barry gives, I suppose because I knew he was doing it. This illustrates a grave drawback to our kind of informal internet-based collaboration, which is probably a drawback to any kind of internet activity. We see ourselves as each adding a piece to the jigsaw, whereas all we are really doing is each taking a piece of the jigsaw, examining it, and putting it back in the box. Some day someone has to actually put the thing together. Andrew Montford understands this, which is why his blog BishopHill is now dormant.

    Thanks Barry. I’”m going straight to Jussim and Marriott, just after I’ve checked SandervanderLinden on the genealogy of Donald Duck in Dutch.

    Done. Sander’s mistake comes from not having put quotation marks around Donald Woerd. But he’s right about Donald Duck having a father, something I didn’t know.

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  64. Geoff I do not believe anyone should be able to get away with slandering another and plead “academic freedom”. I am a strong defender of AF but it should not be abused. I believe slander is “breaking the law”.
    As to Ken’s last sentence, I don’t necessarily disagree with it: it just seemed to me to open up a can of worms that I haven’t even yet thoroughly thought through. I didn’t wish to agree with it and regret doing so later (especially when discussing legal matters, and even more when a lawyer lurks! Hi Mark).

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  65. My question to all psychology academics…

    “Is it normal, in psychology,to have a “researcher”,who is at war with you politically, interacts with you publicly,writes abusively about you on his blog.To also be researching you..(unknown to you) (before,during,after- the research period? ”

    just asking?

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  66. Geoff. “Andrew Montford understands this, which is why his blog BishopHill is now dormant.”
    It is true that the blog is dormant, or at least moribund, but BishopHill in its entirety certainly isn’t. A loyal band keep the “discussion” and “unthreaded” sections still very active. For how long, may be problematic.

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  67. Alan
    I used to go to the discussion and unthreaded pages all the time when the Bish was active. Now I don’t. Isn’t that completely irrational? A piece of the puzzle I don’t even take out of the box any more.

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  68. For Konsensus Klowns like ATTP, “academic freedom” = “free to deceive and abuse”. Quite telling, actually.
    Sort of like his being free to post where people post that he is too afraid to allow to post at his own blog.

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  69. I think the most likely outcome is that Geoff won’t get any response from OUP. That is why I suggested sending it to Hans von Storch as well.

    Another possibility is that you will get a brief reply saying something like
    “Oxford University Press take issues of defamation very seriously”
    and then never hear from them again.

    Recall that it was OUP who published the polar bear paper, that defames lots of people (not just Susan Crockford and Anthony Watts, but all the others falsely labelled as AGW deniers in the SI: Bish, Lomborg, GWPF, Ridley…) . This issue has had a lot of publicity, yet OUP have done nothing.

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  70. Slightly off-topic: There’s yet another piece of junk pseudoscience published by OUP.

    If the Express, Times and Sun are to believed, it says that one drink a day will poison your brain and give you dementia. It doesn’t say that. What it does claim is that
    “Cognitive performance declined as alcohol consumption increased beyond 10 g/day (Fig. 1).” But if you look at their fig 1, it doesn’t show this at all. It shows that performance improved beyond 10g/day up to about 20g/day, that’s two units.

    See this from the excellent David Spiegelhalter, who says tactfully “it would seem inappropriate that this paper, as it stands, is part of the scientific literature.”

    I’ve written to the editors of that journal pointing out the false claim in the paper and asking for a retraction. It will be interesting to see if there’s any more luck in this case than in the climate examples.

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  71. I’ve been busy all day, so have just caught up with aTTP’s comment at 11.34 a.m. Just like Alan Kendall at 12.10pm, I find it largely uncontentious and can broadly agree with it. We’re close to arguing about very little now.

    I believe absolutely in academic freedom, and agree also with (the contentious?) final sentence offered up by aTTP at 11.34 a.m.:

    ” In my view, we should be careful of allowing politically-motivated complaints to undermine people’s ability to undertake research.”

    But the problem is that I think (or perhaps I should say you create the impression, in my mind at least, that) you regard the complaint under discussion as being politically motivated (and therefore as invalid, or at least highly suspect) whilst not having any sort of issue with the possibility that the paper under criticism is itself arguably politically motivated.

    It is my view that IF the paper is politically motivated, that does not invalidate it if it can be shown to be methodologically and otherwise academically good work and if it does not defame anybody. But by the same token, criticism of it, if the criticism does demonstrate defamation and/or academic misconduct, does not cease to be valid criticism just because (assuming, solely for the sake of argument) it is politically motivated.

    Academic freedom, extremely important though it is, does not IMO trump the requirements to behave ethically and to avoid defaming people. And to return to the point where we started, anybody, whether publisher or academic, would be wise to take seriously (at least to start with) and to read from start to finish any letter of complaint alleging misconduct or defamation.

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  72. I believe what was nagging me about Ken’s final sentence is that in some types of research ethical considerations are important and are decided upon by committee (sometimes by lay people in the local area). Committees can be influenced by political considerations or be accused of being so influenced.

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  73. Paul
    I’ll wait and see if I get a reply before trying von Storch, since I don’t want to appear to be harrassing them. Exploring the OUP Encyclopaedia site you link to http://climatescience.oxfordre.com/
    I found this:

    Here are some of the benefits of publishing in the ORE:
    Peer review: Your article, like all articles published in the ORE, will be peer reviewed by other experts in the field.
    Impact on future research: Your work will publish fast and will be distributed worldwide. It will be discoverable online, indexed in key databases, and promoted at international conferences.

    I feel slightly optimistic, simply because of the way organisations work, and I imagine that von Storch is far from being part of the organisation in a “hands on” sense. No underling is going to take the responsibility of binning my complaint, and so there’s got to be a conversation at some point between underling and overling and between overling and authors. At some point, the question of the retracted article has to come up.

    – So this paper, was it retracted?
    – Yes, but only because of threats.
    – What threats?
    – Legal threats of a libel action.
    – But the complaint says that according to the editors there were no threats
    – They’re lying
    – Who, the editors or the complainant?
    …and so on.

    I posted a comment on one of the many articles on Recursive Fury at Retraction Watch.http://retractionwatch.com/2014/03/21/controversial-paper-linking-conspiracy-ideation-to-climate-change-skepticism-formally-retracted/#more-19285

    Since it’s old news and possibly no-one will see it, could someone please tweet them with a link?

    By the way, the only name on the editorial board I recognised was Matthew Nisbet, associate professor of communication at Northeastern University and an affiliate researcher with the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University. Remember him? He’s one of two Nisbets, both professors of communications, who write on climate change at the Conversation. He’s the nice one.

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  74. The mouthing of the “academic freedom” dogma is completely irrelevant to this issue. Lew can do what he wants and there should be consequences for defamatory, unethical, and shoddy research. There is no contradiction. This is an example of why the public is justly losing confidence in science and in disingenuous “communicators” like Rice, Gleick, Mann, and Lewindowsky. Medicine realized long ago that those who were a discredit to the profession should be disciplined or defrocked in order to maintain public confidence. And there is state licensing. Science generally it would seem has no such regulation nor much self-awareness.

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  75. Dyp6629. Sorry but you’ve missed the point, most published academic papers have already been judged by peer review. The editors of the journal chose several people that they consider able to make a fair judgement of the paper. Publication means their judgement was essentially favourable ( or in rare cases the editor overruled the reviewers). So if the paper is controversial, it usually is one person’s opinion against another (with authors having support from peer review and editor’s opinion). Differences in opinion are usually fought out by publishing discussions and replies. In my experience, and I have been author, reviewer and editor in my time, the review system works well, even in the case of controversial papers. The system clearly, however, depends upon the availability of people willing to give unbiased judgements and that seems to be the problem with papers dealing with climate science and closely related subjects.

    Also in my experience, the only two reasons for a paper’s retraction have been the inclusion of false data or plagiarism, discovered after peer review. In the past, published papers could not be retracted, they were on the printed page and that was that. The best that could be done was to print a statement in a later edition of the journal identifying the plagiarism or false data. So paper retraction is all a product of these new fangled electronic publication thingies. What is the world coming to?

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  76. ATTP has zero experience in this subject. His field involves speculating about far off galaxies and stars. Academic freedom ought to be absolute, as long as the work and product remains ethical and free of conflicts of interest. This is the same guy who speaks ill of the people in this blog all over the internet – I see it on Twitter everyday – and then comes here to participate in conversations as though nothing happened.

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  77. Shub
    ATTP is better placed than I am and many others here to comment because he presumably knows more physics and stuff. And I don’t hold it against him if he’s rude about us on Twitter or elsewhere. It’s like swearing; there are places and times it’s ok and others where it’s not. If he comes here with a polite comment I try and reply politely.

    What I note with ATTP and some others is their inbability to construct a logical argument that one can grapple with. Since it’s obviously not due to a lack of intelligence, I deduce that the problem is with the case he’s trying to argue.

    Liked by 1 person

  78. While we’re on ATTP, there was one word yesterday morning that I thought deserved comment. But first, this was Mark Hodgson’s reply:

    Geoff is not “a random person on internet writing letter”. He has written a thoroughly-researched and carefully-structured letter direct to the organisation of which he complains (to which he has then given publicity on the internet), and made specific allegations about defamation (against himself) and misconduct.

    Any intelligent person receiving such a letter would read it through carefully, or at least pass it to their lawyers to do so.

    I agree with all of that. ATTP had just written:

    I’m certainly not suggesting that accusations against researchers should always be ignored. All I’m really pointing out that it is quite likely that they will be in the case of a random person on internet writing letter making such accusations, especially if it is pretty straightforward to demonstrate that that individual has been engaged in an online vendetta against that researcher for quite some time. I’m not even really claiming that this is what should happen, I’m pointing out what I think will happen.

    The word that’s stayed with me through the toothache (which is now way better, thanks for caring everyone!) is vendetta. This links to what Geoff’s just said and to Barry’s critique earlier. Of course he had a vendetta, for very good reasons, as this letter to OUP shows. The reason I originally wrote:

    This is a wonderful, restrained and painstaking summary of a disgusting bit of history, now afforded its place in, and thus defiling, the OUP. Here it is for the record.

    was partly because Geoff has not always been so restrained. And quite right too, because it really is a disgusting bit of history. But explaining how bad it has been to the OUP required restraint.

    My point is about consistency of the narrative. If ATTP believes that nothing too bad was done by Lew and co he has done nothing I have seen to demonstrate this. If things are as bad as Geoff has described here it would be a nonsense not to have used withering scorn, and possibly even some naughty words, since it all began with the ridiculous, malevolent Moan Hoax paper. Call that a vendetta if you care nothing for the defamation, misconduct and plain dishonesty. I call it being completely consistent.

    Liked by 1 person

  79. Recursive Fury coauthors Marriot AND Cook directly interacted with Geoff during the research period – in a confrontational manner about LOG13 paper and Lewandowsky. Whilst they also ’employed’ as ‘researching’ him and other sceptics comments about LOG13 paper. Marriott was actually aggressively asking sceptics, and Geof by name, what they thought of Conspiracy Theories!.

    They had an ethics approval to observe only. NO interactions of ANY sort..

    they BROKE Lewandowsky’s ethics approval. As of the ‘sceptics’ identifiable by name in the Recursive Fury paper. Geof ( a retired guy, living in France) had more psychopathological traits associated with him, than anyone else..

    good research or payback. !!

    even the ‘perception’ of it might be payback, is really really bad look for psychology.. Which is the main point I made to Frontiers, when I spoke to the editors there. Yes, I gave them the examples, of those interactions. It was pulled a few hours later.

    Liked by 1 person

  80. Well Alan, I’ve been involved in the peer review system myself over the last 40 years. I’m less sanguine that it works well. I would argue that its a flawed system. Over at Science of Doom I have a lengthy series of comments discussing these issues and quoting extensively from many of the house organs of science on why there is a serious problem. It’s not clear to me that its gotten worse over the last 60 years. It’s just that the importance of science has grown quite rapidly, so the consequences of errors are growing.

    https://www.nature.com/news/registered-clinical-trials-make-positive-findings-vanish-1.18181

    “Loose scientific methods are leading to a massive false positive bias in the literature”

    How do you explain that Lew’s recent string of “conspiracy ideation” papers have gotten published when they are clearly wrong and use terribly flawed methods.

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  81. Dpy666. I was only giving my experience of the peer review process within my subject of geology – I admit not a particular hotbed of controversy (although we have our moments). From what I know from former colleagues in other single subject sciences (ecology, statistics, meteorology and the like) they also have had no problem with peer review.
    Recall also that I wrote “The system clearly, however, depends upon the availability of people willing to give UNBIASED judgements and that seems to be the problem with papers dealing with climate science and closely related subjects.”
    I would argue that where there is a problem with peer review it is caused by an unavailability of these kinds of people, a condition perhaps exacerbated by a process of driving such independent reviewers and editors out of the system – as Climategate illustrated.
    I am not arguing that peer review anywhere doesn’t have its problems occasionally, only that these problems are not universal.
    I think a small part of the problem is caused by the anonymity of reviewers. I always gave my name and contact details when I reviewed manuscripts, and I have refused to review for journals where anonymity is demanded. I have made good friends and new colleagues from submitting hard hitting but constructive reviews. With an appreciative author, that’s how peer review works at its best. Possibly a far remove from how sceptical climate science manuscripts are received today. Another reason for believing climate science is sick.

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  82. Alan,

    1. It’s very persuasively shown in the reference I gave you that there is a strong positive bias in the literature in medicine. This is due in no small part to people wanting to show “good” results that help them get more soft money.
    2. I know from personal experience that these forces operate in my field and produce a very biased literature that portrays a much higher level of skill for CFD than it really has.
    3. I also know from experience that there are whole classes of work that can be pursued by top people in the field that simply are wrong. In the most egregious case the senior researcher simply published a whole string of papers selling his flawed idea and never included any contradictory evidence, even though most specialists knew his method was deeply flawed. I think the alpha male syndrome played a role here. This guy thought he was a far smarter than he was. The problem here is since no-one has strongly rebutted the idea in the literature, the bad idea keeps coming back over and over again.
    4. I would say the most pervasive bias is that science knows more than it really knows. There is a tendency to understate uncertainties. Everyone in a field benefits from this, until the shit actually hits the wall and someone in the real world tries to rely on the literature.
    5. There is no such thing as an “unbiased reviewer.” Unless its a very senior person, they are enmeshed in the soft money struggle and the publish or perish struggle just like the papers authors.

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  83. “ATTP is better placed than I am and many others here to comment because he presumably knows more physics and stuff”

    I wouldn’t bet money on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  84. DPY666
    “There is no such thing as an “unbiased reviewer.” Unless its a very senior person, they are enmeshed in the soft money struggle and the publish or perish struggle just like the papers authors.”

    Sorry but this is utter rubbish. I can say with complete confidence that I, and I believe all of those who took the trouble to review my papers were unbiased (sometimes overly harsh perhaps). For myself, I never had trouble getting research monies and those awards were gained on merit. I did, towards the end give up applying but by then I had plenty of data to keep publishing, and having previously worked for government and industry, never felt the need to publish or perish (I suppose I perished in that I never became a professor in the UK, but so what?). I was always more interested in teaching than enhancing my research reputation.

    I do recognize that in my subject there is a strong tendency to over interpret, which is not corrected by peers (but then they are probably just as guilty). This is probably your point 4.

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  85. As a total coincidence, I was browsing the online archive of the London Review of Books and came across a piece by the late Jerry Fodor on studies of brain imaging
    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v21/n19/jerry-fodor/diary

    Some thoughts struck chords from the Chambers keyboard

    I’m old enough not to be surprised when people are interested in things that seem to me not to be interesting: golf, the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and the adulteries of politicians are three examples in a plethora. Since, in most such cases, we’re not competing for resources, I don’t mind at all. But science is different. Science is expensive, and it’s largely publicly funded, and there’s never enough money to do all the research that might be worth doing. In particular, brain imaging is expensive compared to other ways of trying to find out about the mind. If you put your money (which is to say: our money) into the elaborate technology required to establish neural localisations of mental functions by imaging techniques, you almost certainly take it out of other kinds of psychological research. Likewise in respect of the time and money that is required to train people to do the science; graduate students, too, are a limited resource. So I’m increasingly concerned when I find that yet another Tuesday has come around, and the Times is still interested in the neural localisation of mental functions and I still can’t figure out why. It occurs to me that maybe we’re heavily invested in finding answers to which we don’t know the corresponding questions. Maybe the availability of the new technology is running the science rather than the other way round. It would hardly be the first time. A research technology tends to develop its own constituency, especially if it is capital intensive. Look upon the space programme and despair.

    I once gave a (perfectly awful) cognitive science lecture at a major centre for brain imaging research. The main project there, as best I could tell, was to provide subjects with some or other experimental tasks to do and take pictures of their brains while they did them. The lecture was followed by the usual mildly boozy dinner, over which professional inhibitions relaxed a bit. I kept asking, as politely as I could manage, how the neuroscientists decided which experimental tasks it would be interesting to make brain maps for. I kept getting the impression that they didn’t much care. Their idea was apparently that experimental data are, ipso facto, a good thing; and that experimental data about when and where the brain lights up are, ipso facto, a better thing than most. I guess I must have been unsubtle in pressing my question because, at a pause in the conversation, one of my hosts rounded on me. ‘You think we’re wasting our time, don’t you?’ he asked. I admit, I didn’t know quite what to say. I’ve been wondering about it ever since.

    Liked by 2 people

  86. Geoff, my observation was directed at whether ATTP knows anything about the ethics of internet research.

    That a researcher would write a second paper psychoanalyzing his critics requesting data from his first paper is mind-boggling, and so obvious an ethical misstep anyone should be able to see it. Why can’t ATTP? I would suspect the fact that he’s an active collaborator with Lewandowsky and Cook simply blinds him. He likes these people, he admires them and actively sought their friendship.

    The test is pretty obvious: Is he willing to state, for the record, that he believes Recursive Fury is a product of ethically conducted ‘research’? If he cannot do it, he doesn’t have any business defending Lewandowsky. He should remain content making ‘Recursive Fury’ jokes on Twitter and elsewhere.

    Liked by 2 people

  87. Alan, Perhaps I overstated my point about objective reviewers. Say 20 years ago, our reviewers were generally very positive about our work. Perhaps it was excellent work, or perhaps they didn’t really verify a lot of details, I don’t really know. As I’ve moved into statistical areas, I’ve gotten more blinkered reviewers who tend to blind faith in statistical methods while ignoring first principles proofs that those methods understate the true uncertainty, in some case very dramatically (like showing a small uncertainty) while in fact its locally infinite (ie., the problem is singular).

    As a reviewer my experience is that negative reviews are often overruled. I’ve reviewed a lot of mediocre work that didn’t deserve to be published. My former boss had the same experience. Generally, one of my issues generally is that virtually no papers really fairly state opposing arguments or contradictory data.

    Liked by 2 people

  88. MAN IN A BARREL (16 Jan 18 at 10:08 pm)

    I loved the Jerry Fodor piece, though I don’t agree at all. I also am old enough not to be surprised when people are interested in things that seem to me not to be interesting, like brain scanning. But I’m also old enough to remember when a politician after votes and a cheap laugh would pick on the money wasted on useless research by academics (or “boffins” as they were called) studying something like the sex life of snails. So along came efficiency, measurement by results, short term contracts, and at least one expert on the sex life of snails turned to climate change, and got landed a juicy contract to write a report for the BBC, telling them why they shouldn’t interview the likes of Andrew Montford and Lord Lawson, thus proving that his scientific expertise hadn’t been a total waste of time.

    Back to brain scans. It was some ancient Greek who proved that the earth was a sphere, a piece of information that proved totally useless for 2000 years. (Though some other ancient Greek did cross the equator, and may have got as far as the Cape, but Herodotus knew he was lying, because he claimed absurdly to have seen the noonday sun in the north.) So don’t throw those brain scans away just yet.

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  89. SHUB

    Yes. My remark about ATTP and others being unable to construct a logical argument extends to arguments about ethics, which are extremely simple, because the ethical rules are laid down by universities, editors, professional associations etc. in very clear terms. My point is that when ATTP says “I don’t see…” we know he’s just pretending, but we can’t prove it. So we tend to get angry (at least I do) which is bad strategy, but not unreasonable, in certain circumstances.

    For ATTP to say he doesn’t know whether the research is valid or ethical is absurd, but no more absurd than the defence of the 97% argument, or the statement that seven independent Climategate enquiries found the scientists innocent, etc. This kind of barefaced lying is quite rare in human discourse I think. You don’t hear politicians, or Rabbis and Imams and Bishops, slogging it out like that. They’re far too reasonable. And they know they’d be found out if they did. What is it about scientists which makes them think they can lie like market traders and not be found out?

    Liked by 2 people

  90. Geoff,
    I think you’re missing what I’m trying to suggest. Research is about uncovering truths, even if they’re uncomfortable. There may be some cases where it would be unethical to undertake some research, but I don’t think that studying an association between conspiracy ideation and climate skepticism qualifies.

    So, if you’re going to challenge some research you can do two main things. Demonstrate that it’s wrong, which would normally require a published response. Demonstrate that it involves some form of misconduct, which – again – would often require some kind of published response (although not always).

    Attempting to publicly villify a researcher because of what they’ve published is unlikely to achieve much, because most would support the researcher over their critics. You have people on this comment thread acknowledging that this is a form of vendetta. Your own conduct has been less than polite/civil.

    So, what are you actually trying to achieve? If it’s simply to make yourself feel better by venting through letters, blog posts, and blog comments, maybe you’ll be successful. If it’s actually to somehow address the research you’re criticising, then I think you will fail.

    The problem that I can see, though, is that if you approach from the perspective of trying to demonstrate that the conclusions of the research are wrong, you run the risk of having to acknowledge an association between climate skepticism and conspiracy ideation. I can see why that might not be an attractive strategy.

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  91. MiaB, thank you for that very stimulating excerpt from Fodor. This resonated a lot:

    It occurs to me that maybe we’re heavily invested in finding answers to which we don’t know the corresponding questions. Maybe the availability of the new technology is running the science rather than the other way round. It would hardly be the first time. A research technology tends to develop its own constituency, especially if it is capital intensive. Look upon the space programme and despair.

    I’ve often thought “maybe the availability of the new technology is running the science” as I survey the General Circulation Model scene and other climatic use of computers, including off-the-shelf stats libraries. Fodor may be wrong in what he says to do about it (as Geoff I think suggests) but the problem here is a very big one, from where I sit, with some experience of writing software.

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  92. Richard, I think Fodor’s point about technology running the research is spot on. Re brain imaging, his analogy is that knowing where the different parts of the engine are is not much help in understanding exactly how that engine works. Knowing which neurons are firing does not tell us much about consciousness or how we think. Arguably it tells us less than we know from gunshot wounds – what happens to people’s minds when bits of the brain are shot away. But that is another debate. The problem is that the brain imagers are, at the moment, just playing at being scientists and there the similarities with climate science resonate very strongly. Bad data being used to drive bizarre insupportable conclusions. At least in brain science it is not being used to justify idiotic policies

    Liked by 1 person

  93. “Take back the compliments, guys, ATTP is not clever”

    He’s developing quite a talent for clown dancing though.

    Mind you, he gets plenty of practice.

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  94. ATTP

    Research is about uncovering truths, even if they’re uncomfortable.

    There’s nothing uncomfortable about the truth, not to us anyway.

    if you’re going to challenge some research you can do two main things. Demonstrate that it’s wrong, which would normally require a published response.

    OK. The data for Recursive Fury consists of 172 quotes – many truncated, all pulled out of context, some mangled, with two quotes from different people being run together, some falsely attributed to the wrong person – not one of which demonstrates a tendency to conspiracy ideation. Some make joking or sarcastic references to conspiracy theorising – who wouldn’t? – but most simply discuss the subject, as you and I are doing now.

    I could prove the above point in a 400 page document. Or point you to the number of examples of the errors which have been documented by various bloggers. What good would that do? As you suggest, it would probably be ignored. Only twice did the editors budge, when they received letters mentioning legal action. They removed the offending items and sent the paper back to the same peer reviewers, who passed the paper, again and again and again. (Yes, it was peer-reviewed four times.) Only once did Lewandowsky admit to an error, when it was pointed out that he’d insulted a professor at the Met Office. Insulting the rest of us is ok you see – because we’re really suffering from feelings of persecution? Or because we’re not professors at the Met Office?

    Demonstrate that it involves some form of misconduct, which – again – would often require some kind of published response (although not always).

    Demonstrate? Follow the link provided by Barry above and you’ll see Lewandowsky’s co-author Marriott insulting and taunting Barry and me at the same time as he was collecting evidence of our conspiracy ideation. What more evidence do you want? Samples of spittle of rage from his computer screen?

    The problem that I can see, though, is that if you approach from the perspective of trying to demonstrate that the conclusions of the research are wrong, you run the risk of having to acknowledge an association between climate skepticism and conspiracy ideation. I can see why that might not be an attractive strategy.

    But of course there’s a connection! Conspiracy is two or more people getting together to do something wrong. Recursive Fury is wrong, factually and ethically. Therefore it’s a conspiracy, in the everyday sense of the term. The whole point of Lewandowsky’s bizarre formulation of conspiracy ideation is to silence critics by demonstrating that any criticism is an accusation of conspiracy. And what better way of making the accusation stick than to get together with a few likeminded colleagues, publish the biggest load of bollocks imaginable, and await the reaction?

    Liked by 3 people

  95. Another example of technology running the science which Fodor mentioned (and he’s quite right of course) was given by France’s most notorious climate sceptic, Claude Allègre, who was a famous vulcanologist. He claimed that when undersea cable replaced shortwave radio for worldwide communications, hundreds of atmospheric physicists who’d been studying the Heavyside Layer and so on suddenly found themselves out of a job. “There must be something else important going on up there” they said to themselves. And climate science was born.

    Liked by 1 person

  96. “Studying” an association between conspiracy ideation and climate skepticism by framing the arguments of those who request a researcher of data as “conspiracy ideation” is wrong, and unethical.

    It is what was actually done in the real world that is at question.

    Not some imaginary scenario that people abstract in their minds from what was done.

    You DO NOT build an academic career by accusing your critics of conspiracy ideation for not questioning your own practices as an academic.

    “There may be some cases where it would be unethical to undertake some research…”

    Boom. That’s the best we will get, from a mealy-mouthed academic ready to defend his colleague come what cost may. I’ll take it. When pushed, there is not a single SKS/ATTP kid who can defend Lewandowsky and Cook’s actions. Not a single one.

    Lewandowsky has issues understanding what constitutes conflicted research. The polar bear paper is afflicted with the same problem as Recursive Fury though not to a direct extent, namely, researchers writing a paper attacking one of their critics for not following the ‘mainstream’ view which they define as being constituted by their own papers.

    The very fact that Lewandowsky wrote a Recurrent Fury where he (a) deidentified the analysed evoked responses toward him (b) made people other than himself analyse said responses, shows he understood and implicitly accepted criticisms that were made against the original paper.

    This alone should disqualify Lewandowsky citing the retracted paper for any purpose other than referring to the fact that it was retracted.

    Liked by 2 people

  97. “I see no reason why they wouldn’t simply ignore it. I probably would.”

    “Ignore” is the latest word to have been reclaimed by climate warriors, and to have been made their own word.

    At the same time Ken was ignoring Geoff’s letter, he also wasn’t typing about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  98. I’ve been reading Steven Mosher’s book (not the climate Mosher) on population. He was fired from his Stanford PhD where he undertook anthropological research. Mosher’s crime: he published pictures of women forced to undergo abortions, with their faces visible. Perhaps worth mentioning here.

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  99. I’ve just bumped into an interesting article, which reminded me of this…

    Research is about uncovering truths, even if they’re uncomfortable.

    I wonder if that’s true. I don’t mean it as some idle metaphysical speculation. The production of knowledge, for sure, would offend people if it deliberately sought untruths. But most of what is produced on campus turns out to be untrue. And I’m not even talking here about what passes for ‘academic’ research these days, under the rubric of ‘social justice’, but that’s significant, all the same.

    I meant two articles. Briefly, the first says (in the wake of the Peterson-Newman interview)…

    Shepherd had lots of exposure to a social justice perspective, but only from within the perspective itself. She was taught social justice beliefs but had never been taught to critique those beliefs. When she came across a professor who did just that—Jordan Peterson—she found it interesting and new, even while disagreeing with him. (She later came to realise he may have been right about the legislation he was criticising.) So she shared a clip of the debate with her students, and only afterwards did she discover that not only are critiques of social justice not taught, they aren’t even to be acknowledged.

    “Truth” doesn’t exist ‘out there’. It is a judgement. It may even approximate to the best possible judgement for the time. But I think there’s a confusion running through much hand-wringing about truth, which confuses the judgement of science with the objects of science, precluding reflection on ‘truth’.

    The second article is a review of Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions in the TLS: https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/scientific-revolutions-thomas-kuhn/?CMP=Sprkr-_-Editorial-_-TheTLS-_-Unspecified-_-TWITTER

    In Structure, Kuhn developed a historical philosophy of science that comprises three major conceptual movements. The first is from pre-paradigmatic science, in which several paradigms compete for a scientific community’s allegiance, to normal science, in which a consensus paradigm guides scientific practice. Unfortunately, paradigms do not fit or match up perfectly with natural phenomena, and anomalies eventually arise between what a paradigm predicts and what is observed empirically. If the anomalies persist, a crisis generally ensues – leading to the second movement – and the community enters a state of extraordinary science in the hope of resolving it. If a new, competing paradigm resolves the crisis, then a paradigm shift or scientific revolution occurs – the third movement – and a new normal science is established. This cycle recurs with no clear end point as science advances.

    Without depending on Kuhn’s schema too much, I think it sheds some light. The uncomfortable truth some of us discover, is that another camp’s uncomfortable truth has been a half-century of failed prognostication.

    A crisis has indeed ensued. And it is up to the psychologist to rescue the physicists and earth scientists — the paradigm. (Indeed, my argument elsewhere is that the crisis precedes even the seemingly scientific paradigm, but that’s another story.)

    The problem being that he makes a damn hash of it. His tools are blunt. His microscope is filthy. His whole bloody laboratory is contaminated by detritus flung during the over-exuberant examination of deniers’ cadavers. Nonetheless, he publishes his thesis.

    But rather than producing the damning conclusion that arrests the revolution, the shoddy work merely supplies more evidence to the other paradigm’s counter-thesis…

    Not that ‘CO2 is not a greenhouse gas’.

    Not that ‘climate change is not happening’.

    Not even that ‘man made climate change is not dangerous’.

    But that the ‘paradigm’ encompassing environmental science in general, and climate science in particular has well and truly exceeded any sensible conception of ‘climate’ or ‘environment’, to encompass far more than it is competent to explain. Indeed, the psychologist believes that the fact of CO2 being a GHG is sufficient to explain a cohort of individuals’ ‘conspiracy ideation’, or their removal from reality… without having even taken their arguments at face value, nor even having read them. Too much is expected of ‘climate science’ that it can reasonably bear.

    So in a way, as satisfying as it would be to see OUP take seriously Geoff’s extremely carefully written and measured response, the bloody-minded part of me hopes they don’t. Because, assuming that Kuhn has identified the nature of revolutions in our search for the ‘truth’, the more that the dominant paradigm resists criticism, the more complete the revolution might be, and the more comprehensive and traumatic will be the break for its daft adherents. The longer its intransigence persists, the more obvious the need to address the deeper crises it is only a single expression of will become.

    The point most sceptics make is that debate has been excluded from the quest for ‘truth’. It would be interesting then, to actually have those debates, in the way that we imagine debates should happen in academia, and in the public sphere, to arrive at something approximating knowledge about industrial society’s relationship with the natural world. But that debate is now surely all but pointless. The uncomfortable truth now needing discovery is why those exchanges were not allowed to happen. Physics has nothing to say about it. Indeed, physicists seem to have abandoned physics in favour of.. let’s call it Newtonian psychology. The fact that you can get as good a grounding in such shoddy cod psych at any barstool in the world does not strike them as a problem. It must be true!

    There is no quest for ‘truth’ in climate science. There is only a search for authority. If the institutions of ‘knowledge’ and ‘truth’ cannot cope with the criticism, they mark themselves as not fit for purpose. Never mind the structure of scientific revolutions, then, what needs to be understood is the structure of scientific inertia.

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  100. Pingback: Oxford University Press Lies and Lies Again | Climate Scepticism

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