Lewandowsky Compares Watts to Hitler

A great man once said: “The definition of sanity is doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different result until you get carted away in a straitjacket. Then you win.”

Which is why I’m coming back to the subject of Professor Lewandowsky, who is on record as stating that his research has led him to the conclusion that discussion with climate sceptics/deniers is a waste of time. In fact this is not a conclusion, but a premiss of his work, as can be seen from this article published two years before the “NASA faked the Moon Landing, therefore Climate Science is a Hoax” paper that made his name. It dates from May 16, 2011 and it’s a reply to an article published just four days earlier by Professor Garth Paltridge, emeritus professor at the University of Tasmania and ex-chief research scientist at the CSIRO Division of Meteorological Physics.

Here is what Professor Paltridge has to say, reproduced in its entirety so that we know what we’re talking about:

The scientific community is polarised on the matter of climate change. On one hand there are those within what might be called the climate research establishment. They should know what they are talking about, and generally support in public the thesis of dangerous global warming. On the other hand there are those – mainly from other disciplines or from the various ranks of amateur scientists, but nevertheless also including a fair number of quite respectable climate scientists – who for one reason or another are sceptical about climate change. They openly maintain that the whole concept of dangerous man-made global warming is probably nonsense. The scientists in the middle tend to say very little. At least in public.

The problem for the scientific community is that this polarisation is seriously threatening the public’s perception of the professionalism of scientists in general. Setting aside the issue of who is right in the debate, it seems that some of the more vocal of climate researchers have fallen into a mode of open and almost vicious denigration of climate sceptics (“deniers” is the rather offensive popular terminology of the day). They insist that only researchers directly within the climate-change community are capable of giving authoritative advice; and they insist that one can find true and reputable science only in peer-reviewed climate literature. There are also reports of highly unscientific practices – for instance, that outsiders and known sceptics are denied access to important data on which climate science is based.

Sceptics on the other hand have in many cases been too personal in their attacks on climate science and climate scientists. They have made full use of the various sceptical climate weblogs to get around the discipline of peer review. A lot of their scientific arguments are “hairy” to say the least; and in general they have not been greatly constrained by the checks and balances built into the normal scientific system. Some of them just like being a nuisance. All this is discussed extensively and publicly on the web. There are arguments to explain and justify the less flavoursome attitudes of either side.

But whatever one might think of the rights and wrongs of the business, the fact remains that a situation has developed which is reminiscent in many ways of religion in the Middle Ages. The priests of that time opposed translation of the scriptures from Latin into the local languages. Only people fully trained in the theology of the time were capable of interpreting the scriptures correctly, they said. It would, they said, be highly dangerous to allow non-trained people to have direct access to the Word of God because the chances were high that they would get it wrong. And the priests of the time were not exactly backward in applying their peculiarly nasty forms of denigration on those who thought otherwise about the matter. Suffice it to say that, despite their strong whip hand (there was no internet at the time!) they ultimately lost both the battle and much of their public support.

All of which leads to the following.

Since the research establishment is presumably the more “grown-up and sophisticated” of the two sides in the debate – it certainly has by far the lion’s share of resources and public access – it seems appropriate to expect the establishment to take the first steps in any attempt to bridge the divide between the sides. One of the steps might be to formally recognise that not all climate sceptics are rogues and vagabonds. We should remember that it is probably more of a rule than an exception for new ideas in any particular field of research to come from the outside. We should also remember that some weblog sceptics have access to a quite remarkable store of unpaid and enthusiastic scientific labour. Perhaps however, the very first step should be for climate scientists to make a conscious effort to read some of the documentation appearing in the more respectable sceptic weblogs: Climate Audit and Whats Up With That for instance. Climate researchers need to develop a first-hand appreciation of the mind-set of the sceptics, and thereby understand how best to engage with them, to take advantage of their ideas (and perhaps of their access to unpaid enthusiasts!), and to be positive and helpful when identifying errors in some of the more extreme ideas.

And here is how Lewandowsky replies Professor Paltridge’s reasoned pleas for dialogue between conflicting points of view. He starts with a lesson in basic Aristotelean logic:

All polar bears are animals. Some animals are white. Therefore, some polar bears are white. Is this conclusion logically implied or not? There is a 75% chance you might endorse this conclusion despite it being logically false.

Really, Stephan, is this the way to address an Emeritus Professor of Meteorological Physics?

Lewandowsky continues:

..whether due to mere ignorance or ideologically-driven mendacity, denier illogic can be revealed for the nonsense it is by translating it into an everyday equivalent. Consider the famous denialist two-step, often uttered in the same breath: “it’s not warming… but it’s natural variation.” This is logically equivalent to the claim: “decaying teeth don’t exist… but they fall out naturally.”

What’s wrong with this (apart from accusing professor Paltridge of ignorance or ideological mendacity)?

1) No denialist has ever uttered in the same breath or even in separate breaths the two statements above, and Lewandowsky provides no evidence that they have. What has often been said is that “it hasn’t warmed since x” and this statement has often been true. If you want a dental analogy, it would be ‘my teeth have not decayed since x.” And of course, teeth do fall out naturally, decayed or not. And who has been evoking natural climate variation (= “teeth sometimes fall out for unknown reasons”) over the past twenty years if not the defenders of the consensus?

2) A century ago Freud convincingly linked obsession with tooth loss to guilt about masturbation. Lewandowsky should keep his dental fantasies to himself.

After this logical self-abuse on the subject of teeth, Lewandowsky cuts to the quick with this observation:

No one would place much faith in that dental opinion and no one should place any trust into equivalent illogic when it comes to climate. In other instances, compromised reasoning can be more subtle, especially when couched in calm and civil terms..

and he links to the article by Professor Paltridge, thus accusing him of making the above logical error, (though couched in calm and civil terms) ..

At first glance, Emeritus Professor Paltridge makes very reasonable points… Alas, the pernicious illogic lurking beneath this veneer can be revealed in its stark menace by translating the argument made about climate change into the context of HIV/AIDS.

..which Lewandowsky then proceeds to do, summarising Paltridge’s “pernicious illogic” in nine points, as if he were discussing AIDS, and finishing with:

This chillingly surreal narrative is far from hypothetical. Precisely this form of AIDS denial — for denial is what it is — was embraced by the former government of President Thabo Mbeki in South Africa. Although the U.S. National Academy of Sciences expressed the consensus in 1988, saying “the evidence that HIV causes AIDS is scientifically conclusive,” Mbeki’s government rejected that consensus, called Western medicine “racist”, and instead treated AIDS with garlic and beetroot, not anti-retroviral drugs. A recent peer-reviewed Harvard study estimated this denialism caused more than 330,000 deaths from AIDS. For that, Mbeki and his ilk are now held in richly deserved contempt around the world.

Let us return to climate change.

Yes, let’s. Because what the despicable Lewandowsky has just insinuated is that Professor Paltridge’s argument – that climate scientists should talk to sceptics – is somehow equivalent to causing a third of a million deaths. Then, after a mention of the 97% of domain experts who accept the scientific consensus on climate change, instead of returning to climate change, as he promised to do, he comes back to the subject of AIDS, (which rots your teeth, if it doesn’t make you blind):

In light of those facts, Professor Paltridge’s view of a “polarization” in the scientific community, in which there are scientists in the “middle” who “say little” and skeptics outside the “establishment” who are “reputable” appears misguided. Worse, it is tantamount to celebrating the few seemingly-credentialed individuals in the medical community who abused their academic privileges by feeding AIDS denial through bizarre publications or by side-stepping peer review altogether as heroes. No, the handful of AIDS denialists within the medical community are not heroes. On the contrary, they have blood on their hands. In light of current WHO estimates of 150,000 annual deaths from climate change, any appeal to those chimerical “reputable” skeptics runs a similarly grave moral risk. Posterity is likely to judge that stance at least as harshly as AIDS denial.

So far, according to Lewandowsky, simply suggesting that climate scientists would be well advised to talk to sceptics is the equivalent of mass murder. Paltridge has blood on his hands, because he advocates discussion of different points of view.

Lewandowsky continues:

Finally, what about those “reputable” skeptic blogs, such as WattsUpWithThat, recommended by Professor Paltridge? What about their enthusiastic followers? The plethora of content provided by WattsUpWithThat defies summary in a few words, although it is nicely illustrated by the considerable effort this blog expended on a photograph of Professor Ray Bradley taken in a hallway at the University of Massachusetts. The backdrop to this picture happened to be a large graph of ice-core data affixed to the building’s wall. The “reputable” blog thereupon spent several frantic days on the alleged shortcoming of this incidental backdrop to a photo. In the end, enthusiastic followers sought to strip Professor Bradley of all scientific credibility based on the presumed graphical impropriety of… a wall in a university building. It is difficult to see any merit in such verbiage other than to reveal the obsessions of the originator.

The article in question is about a photo of Bradley – not any old photo, but his official portrait on the University of Massachusetts website posed in front of a graph showing a hockeystick labelled “Greenhouse Gas Record from the Vostok Ice Core.” Except it’s not. It’s a wavy Vostok record with a modern global temperature hockeystick blade tacked on. It’s no more a graph of the Vostok record than a horse with an icecream cone taped to his muzzle is a unicorn. Bradley is lying in an official photo on his university site. And Lewandowsky thinks that pointing out a lie by a prominent scientist is “verbiage.”

And this may explain why pre-emeritus scientists do not see fit to devote part of their 80-hour work weeks to patiently defending their university’s hallways against assault by a crowd that almost defies parody.

The “crowd that almost defies parody” is of course us, the “enthusiastic followers” of Anthony Watts. And “pre-emeritus scientists” are chaps like Stephan, youngish alpha-males working a sixteen hour day (at the weekends he enjoys gliding and rock-climbing, according to his CV, and still finds time to write articles like this one – forty one at the Conversation alone) and “pre-meritus” is added to emphasise the fact that the professor whose views he is demolishing is retired, probably gaga, and has leisure for such futile pastimes as recommending debate between opposing views.

But Lewandowsky is not finished:

Sometimes, building bridges in times of conflict is a valiant and commendable endeavour. But there are other times, readily evoked by the name Neville Chamberlain, where the attempt to seek reconciliation is inadvisable because it misjudges the situation.

You understood that right. Talking to Anthony Watts would be like negotiating with Hitler.

Is Lewandowsky simply the miserable little lying, whingeing shit we’ve all come to love and cherish, or is he actually seriously mentally deranged? And are either of those alternative possibilities valid grounds for removing his Royal Society gold medal and the five figure sum paid by the taxpayer to attract him to Britain?

Professor Paltridge is 77. This was his one and only article at the Conversation. Professor Lewandowsky can count his article a success.

47 thoughts on “Lewandowsky Compares Watts to Hitler

  1. Wow, what a case of projection.
    Lewandowsky is not a climate scientist. Yet he has self-declared himself the arbiter of how people, especially academics in the climate related fields, had better think if they know what’s good for them. His condescending or ignorant disrespect towards an actual climate scientist’s actual accomplishment is interesting. Lewandowsky is the Beria of the climate consensus, making his lists and destroying by fear and nonsensical dialectic any who dare to disagree…so far.

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  2. Unfortunally, according to Lewandowski’s behaviour, he got his title out of a Kelloggs cerial box (which all contain detectable traces of Glyphosate, the main component of Roundup pesticide …)

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  3. Geoff
    Have you ever considered that you are giving Lewandowsky too much credit for understanding of which he writes? When he wrote:

    “Sometimes, building bridges in times of conflict is a valiant and commendable endeavour. But there are other times, readily evoked by the name Neville Chamberlain, where the attempt to seek reconciliation is inadvisable because it misjudges the situation.”

    You, and any informed person might extend this to “Talking to Anthony Watts would be like negotiating with Hitler.” But Lew doesn’t mention Hitler.

    And you assume that the Great Lewandowsky is capable of such flights of mental agility. What have you been told about making unsubstantiated conclusions?

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  4. Lewandowsky used the same ‘technique’ a year earlier in a public slide.. – linking Jo Nova/climate sceptics, to AIDS. MLK conspiracies. despite Jo, not believing in either.

    1.(b.) Conspiracy Theorists and Science

    •Conspiratorial thinking usually not isolated
    –If you believe in one (FBI assassinated MLK), you are more likely to also believe in others (e.g., AIDS created by U.S. government; Goertzel, 1994)
    –single factor for 14 conspiracies (34.6% of variance; Swami, 2009)
    –predicted by alienation and cynicism and disengagement from mainstream politics

    •Joanne Nova called 9/11 a “building accident”

    Lewandowsky – Melbourne September 2010

    [I think Paul has a copy of he slides, could he put them up as a link)

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  5. Additionally.. and of course..

    Jo NEVER called 911 a “building accident” – she never used those words.. and she certainly doesn’t believe in any AIDS, MLK moon landing, Diana conspiracies. this is a #FakeQuote

    Lewandowsky, is “quoting” co-author Michael Marriott (and Watching the Deniers blogger, Skeptical Science contributor) misrepresenting Jo Nova..

    Jo had written an article in response to Lewandowsky, where she mocked his attempts to smear by association Aids, MLK, Diana death & 911 conspiracy theorists, with climate scepticism..

    Original Lewandowsky article:
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-05-03/33900

    Jo Nova’s response.
    http://joannenova.com.au/2010/05/name-calling-fairy-dust-conspiracy-theorist/

    Michael Marriot’s, take on Jo Nova’s article, where he created the fake “building accident” ‘quote’
    https://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/jo-nova-claims-she-is-no-conspiracy-theorist-by-stating-911-was-a-building-accident/

    So when, Lewandowsky, entasked Michael Marriott to collect quotes from sceptics, for the Recursive Fury paper,, why would anyone, trust them to quote accurately! (or not have a massive ethical conflict)

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  6. Maybe I’m missing the point, but my understanding of what Stephan Lewandowsky is saying is that there isn’t really much point in engaging with some, if the intent is to try have some kind of constructive dialogue (for example, where one might hope to correct misrepresentations). I realise that I am only one person, but my experiences would suggest that he has a point. It’s not that there is no merit to engagement, but doing so in the hope that something meaningful/constructive will happen is, in many cases, not realistic.

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  7. yes – ATTP – he is saying that… (not much point engaining) he is also saying a lot else,which is what this article is about, (you keep focussing on your tiny point though)

    This article is about, the way he is saying it, that shows him to be a complete ********
    equating talking to them, to appeasing Hitler for example..

    When Lewandowsky wrote this (following earlier public slides – Monash University, September 2010)

    Two Classes of Contrarians
    •Free-market ideologues (Bolt)
    –pragmatic (?) and not overtly irrational
    –driven by opposition to any form of regulation
    –provide fodder for the second class …

    •Conspiracy theorists (Jo Nova)
    –outside mainstream politics and society
    –hyper-emotional and often irrational

    The Psychology of Climate Change Communication and “Skepticism”
    Stephan Lewandowsky – Monash Uni, Melbourne – September 2010

    he was indeed saying to people not worth talking to Jo Nova.. (and Bolt, his 2 main opponents in the media at that time) – he offers no references to back this up.

    The way he was saying it, was not but pointing out why she was wrong, arguing her points, referencing her, but arguably in a sexist, cliched misogynistic smear..

    cliches – women – Hyper emotional/irrational’.. (smack of women can’t do science)

    would he say that about any man.. comes across as pale male aussie privileged sexist academic. not a good look

    but what is perhaps worse a psychologist, publicly saying about another public figure that Jo was outside the bounds of mainstream politic society! – beneath the pale, at the fringe, etc

    His earlier quote, about she think 911 a “building accident” – no references, to that, for any of his audience to check the source. but, I bet they all nodded along.
    I had to track it down, he is just quoting Marriotts fake quote and smear.

    She was an opponent, in the media and on TV in Australia at the time (as was here husband) he sought to discredit her with smears. (imho)

    so- yes.
    Lewandowsky is telling people not much point engaging with these people.. with all his ‘authority’

    but do you trust him.. anyone can shoot down another, with racist, bigot, conspiracy theorist, mis quotes, fake quotes, etc rhetoric.. The political left have been very particularly good at this technique for years.

    Thankfully, it is much easier these days, to actually find out for yourself (ie “trust but verify”) whether they are actually racist, bigot, conspiracy theorist, by seeing what they actually said..andor in context.. rather than just taking their opponents word for it…

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  8. Personally, I just think it was payback, for when Jo Nova, said she was very willing to talk about scepticism with him, publicly (in the Q/A of one of his public debates, the same time she gave out 200 copies of her – The Skeptics Handbook – several months previously..

    Lewandowksy/Cook returned the favour, handing out Cook’s specially written debunking guide to Jo’s Skeptics handbook, (specially commissioned by Lew) that they had handed out in Jo Nova’s and Watts lecture, the month before these slides..

    (it does seem personal, the moon hoax paper, Fury, etc. just an expansion of his battles with Nova/Evans/Bolt in Australia)

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  9. Well, one can focus on unfortunate associations (which I have no interest in defending) from articles written 7 years ago, in which case constructive engagement remains unlikely, and we’re back to same ol’ same ol’. Or, one could consider that maybe it’s time to move on and see whether constructive engagement is actually possible (and, hence, that the suggestion that it is not is wrong). As I understand it, though, the point of the article is really that there are some with whom constructive engagement isn’t possible, which – based on my experiences – seems a reasonable conclusion (even if some of the associations are unfortunate).

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  10. ATTP

    no comment – on Lew using fake quotes about Jo Nova? – the “building incident”
    no comment – on sexist/cliched language and talking about the psychological state of Jo Nova..

    remember this is in public, about named people and an psychologist saying it – an ethic issue (see Goldwater)
    (not just a spat about psychological states between say Mann/Steyn)

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  11. why not move on.. because Lewandowsky is still doing it..

    see the Alice In Wonderland paper, the Harvey paper, both Recursive Fury papers..

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  12. it is a good thought..

    by your move on comment above..

    does that mean you acknowledge some problems exist – ie the examples given. and we can move on from it.. that would be great.. acknowledge it (ie this is respecting the people that complain about it)

    the problem is Lewandowsky has not acknowledged this as problematic, as less than good behaviour for a psychologist (see Goldwater) he in fact, doubled and tripled down.

    If he could – say, apologise for publicly calling Jo hyper emotional, irrational beyond the fringes of politics and society (without any evidence, and using fake quotes, and linking by association with actual conspiracy theorists) – ie his #Metoo moment then perhaps Jo could forgive him and move on..

    perhaps we could forgive him and also move on…

    and the onus IS on Lewandowsky, as an academic psychologist studying human behaviour, with high authority (RS fellow, etc,etc) the standards are much higher,and publicly speaking writing about people, than any random member of the public (again see – Goldwater)

    Hell freezing over chance though?
    He has built a body of #fake work on it.

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  13. — there isn’t really much point in engaging with some, if the intent is to try have some kind of constructive dialogue —

    And yet here you are, again. Again. Again.

    Climate activists — especially those claiming expert insight — cannot claim the monopoly on frustration that nobody listens to them. Indeed, it is incumbent on them to listen, but they are better characterised as intransigent. Lewandowsky offers only post-hoc justifications — special pleading — for institutional intransigence.

    The climate debate descends to ‘science’.

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  14. there are some with whom constructive engagement isn’t possible, which – based on my experiences – seems a reasonable conclusion (even if some of the associations are unfortunate).

    You are the constant of your own experience.

    You are also a constant, as far as I can tell.

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  15. BJW: — because Lewandowsky is still doing it..

    This is true.

    Lewandowsky has chosen not to find ways to improve the argument, but to belittle his political opposition, using academic institutions –not insight or understanding — as leverage.

    That is to say he squanders the authority of science. Scientists should reject his claims.

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  16. just remembered – Lewandowsky’s “Guess who” smear of Anthony Watts –

    making out Anthony “suffering” “Dunning Kruger” – remember this is the opinion of a senior academic psychologist, publicly talking about a named public individual… and alleged psychological traits. (Goldwater)

    (not withstanding conflict of interest, he actually organised a counter event, to a watts speech at UWA, and organised handing out of a booklet countering Watts/Nova event at their event – this shows he is a participant, not a neutral observer.)

    and of course his innuendo of – Anthony think “hot brick buildings contribute to climate change” a bastardized misrepresentation of Anthony think UHI has had an influence of the dataset- documenting instrumentation that failed to meet the standards, falls apart if you look at it..

    http://cabot-institute.blogspot.com/2014/11/are-you-poor-logician-logically-you.html?showComment=1415789105989#c6729485571897269555

    reproduced at that Cabot Institute – this was originally at the Conversation (when multiple responses were of course deleted. https://theconversation.com/are-you-a-poor-logician-logically-you-might-never-know-33355

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  17. Unfortunately, in this polarised universe, Lewandowski is seen as a figure of authority and leadership by many, including the anti-social media climate activist ‘mob’, which unfortunately includes SkS.

    As a psychologist of some standing he of all people should know that a real consensus on climate change and mitigation efforts can only be achieved through constructive dialogue and respect for all individuals and points of view, but instead has chosen to define an enemy and to engage in conflict.

    Lewandowki’s approach which includes personal insults and slurs can only ever have the effect of creating or reinforcing rejection of the merit of climate science and AGW theory by those who do not embrace all aspects of his (fanatical) position. And of course by fueling such irrationality within the climate skeptic community, the community unsurprisingly conforms ever more strongly to his psychological diagnoses and profiling. If I myself were susceptible to conspiracy ideation I would have no problem finding some inventiveness here.

    Lewandowski is only serving to make it ever more difficult to build consensus across political and social divides, which can only further impede future efforts to mitigate anthropogenic climate change, and I would have though – the very end he seeks.

    His actions and motivations are impossible to comprehend.

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  18. I see the subject of domain expertise, as it plays out in the climate science debate, as follows:

    There are experts in the application of statistical theory, who have no qualifications in climate science, and yet still deign to comment upon the application of statistical theory. There are experts in the vagaries and complexities of decision-making under uncertainty, who have no qualifications in climate science, and yet still deign to comment upon the vagaries and complexities of decision-making under uncertainty. There are experts in the epistemology and application of the scientific method, who have no qualifications in climate science, and yet still deign to comment upon the epistemology and application of the scientific method. There are experts in polar bear ecology who…

    Well you get my drift.

    In Stephan Lewandowsky we have an expert in psychology, who has no qualifications in climate science, and yet still deigns to comment upon climate science. By rejecting the legitimacy of sceptical commentary, emanating from those who are not qualified climate scientists, not only does he hoist himself with his own petard, he also allows his ignorance and prejudice to cloud his judgement regarding the legitimacy of significant elements of such commentary.

    Personally, I can’t take Lewandowsky seriously. He seems to be schooled in the theatre of the absurd. Furthermore, I’ve already seen enough of his work to have determined that he is not an expert on climatology, he is not an expert on the application of statistical theory, he is not an expert on the vagaries and complexities of decision-making under uncertainty, he is not an expert on the epistemology and application of the scientific method, he is not an expert on polar bear ecology…

    Well you get my drift.

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  19. ..AND THEN THERE’S PHYSICS (23 Apr 18 at 10:11 am)

    …one could consider that maybe it’s time to move on and see whether constructive engagement is actually possible (and, hence, that the suggestion that it is not is wrong). As I understand it, though, the point of the article is really that there are some with whom constructive engagement isn’t possible…

    You’re a co-author of Lewandowsky. H ave you had this conversation with him?

    Certainly there may be some with whom constructive engagement isn’t possible. But that’s not what Lewandowsky is saying. Just four days after an emeritus professor of meteorology suggests it might be a good idea to talk to Watts, Lewandowsky produces this long article saying it wouldn’t. He might have tried to show that Watts is a bad person, or he might have referred to something Watts said that wasn’t correct. Instead the sole evidence he produces is a reference to an article which demonstrates quite clearly that a major climate scientist is spreading falsehoods, accompanied by the suggestion that it’s trivial, and that talking to Watts would be appeasement. And this in the context of an article which suggests that the emeritus professor he is addressing doesn’t understand basic logic and that his argument is somehow similar to that of an African witchdoctor.

    How does he get away with it? The utter rudeness of it should have people shouting down phones, cancelling subscriptions, proposing motions for excluding him from learned societies – or something. Something more useful at any rate than my vulgar ranting. I’m genuinely fascinated by how he does it.

    A partial explanation is perhaps that he’s simply using standard marketing techniques and addressing a certain target audience. When we see a TV commercial that suggest that this new car will transport you to exotic landscapes in the company of a beautiful admiring model, we don’t complain to the Advertising Standards people. We accept that ads are not written under oath, that they’re just getting a certain message across to a certain kind of person. Similarly, Lewandowsky is not really addressing Professor Paltridge, but the average middle level academic with right-on lefty opinions on the climate who reads the Conversation. They’re not going to click on the WUWT link and see who’s right. They don’t want their worldview disturbed by nuance.

    Has anyone else had this experience talking to climate believers? You point out something that’s specifically wrong in the climate story, like burning wood chips, and they say: “Well of course, wood chips, who’s in favour of those?” Or you demonstrate that something said by Monbiot is false and they say: “Yeah, well, Monbiot. Who listens to him?” And so on. Climate change and the policies necessary to deal with it have acquired some strange metaphysical existence unattached to experience, reason or evidence.

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  20. BENPILE (23 Apr 18 at 11:37 am)

    Lewandowsky has chosen … to belittle his political opposition, using academic institutions –not insight or understanding — as leverage.

    JOHN RIDGWAY (23 Apr 18 at 5:54 pm)

    Personally, I can’t take Lewandowsky seriously.

    HANS ERREN (24 Apr 18 at 4:31 am)

    Lewandowsky is using brazen institutional bullying.

    BARRY WOODS (23 Apr 18 at 10:32 am)

    remember this is in public, about named people and a psychologist saying it – an ethic issue…

    Well of course, I agree. The question, is, how does he manage it? Over and over again. Complaints have been made to two universities, several journals, the Oxford University Press and in comments under hundreds of articles, all without effect. Even if they’re all dismissed, word must get around, surely, that there’s something not quite right with the man?

    He seems to be a master of networking, having teamed up with anti-tobacco activists, medical researchers, philosophers, at least two astrophysicists, not to mention Mann, Oreskes etc. Of course, he’s not the only mendacious clown in academia or the media, but normally there would be a push back. When a university professor asserts that Jesus Christ is a magic mushroom, or that Mao’s China is a utopia, he’s listened to politely because of his status, then he’s countered with arguments. He’s not given a five figure sum by the Royal Society to continue his lunacy. The media loves arguments, don’t they? Except about Syria, but that’s a life or death question for our civilisation. (I was forgetting, so is climate change.)

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  21. Every so often, ATTP says something interesting. He probably doesn’t mean it but it is illuminating all the same:
    “Well, one can focus on unfortunate associations (which I have no interest in defending) from articles written 7 years ago, in which case constructive engagement remains unlikely”.

    This from a man who believes that the only God is stuff published in peer-reviewed journals. If it is not in a peer-reviewed journal, then it is not making a point worthy of discussion.

    And yet here he says it is a waste of time to read and debate stuff published seven years ago in a peer – reviewed journal.

    By what bizarre mental contortions can someone maintain these two ideas and remain outside a strait-jacket? Of course it also shows how terrified these people are of debate and how desperate they are to cling on to their holy status. We will only debate in peer-reviewed journals, not face to face and definitely not via blogs, letters, emails, books etc. What is more we will only defend ideas published in the last month. There is no history of literature on this subject that we wish to defend. We will only quote it as a kind of holy writ. It was not refuted in the right way within the timescales we arbitrarily impose, therefore it will stand for all time.

    It is reminiscent of the intellectual activity of scholastic philosophy or casuistry – is it right to eat meat on Friday, or in what sense is the body of Jesus incorporated in a slice of bread.

    How did this style of thinking invade departments of science? Why do so many journos and politicians respect these people? Why are they not held up for the ridicule they deserve?

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  22. ATTP,

    “…if the intent is to try [to] have some kind of constructive dialogue (for example, where one might hope to correct misrepresentations)”

    Would you not agree that the true purpose of debate is to test the validity of one’s own ideas? Persuading your opponent that they are harbouring misconceptions or peddling misrepresentations may seem to be the objective, but it is only a means to an end. If you succeed in convincing your antagonist then you may feel more confident regarding the correctness of your viewpoint. However, if you fail, then this calls into question your position and this should be taken on board. Of course, your opponent may be bloody-minded or you may have simply failed in making your position clear, but the possibility that you are just plain wrong should not be discounted. The problem with the climate science debate seems to be that too many on both sides see no need to test their own ideas. They simply want to ‘correct’ the misrepresentations of their antagonists, and they can only see failure in this respect as being evidence of someone else’s obduracy or ignorance.

    Regards,

    John

    Like

  23. Geoff — how does he manage it? Over and over again. Complaints have been made to two universities, several journals, the Oxford University Press and in comments under hundreds of articles, all without effect. Even if they’re all dismissed, word must get around, surely, that there’s something not quite right with the man?

    There’s something not quite right with the institutions. It would be stating the obvious to say that they are not fit for purpose. It is hard to say what their purpose ought to be, and what purpose they were in fact serving. In Lew’s eyes, it would surely be conspiracy theory.

    The broader observation would reveal the extent to which the world of academia has detached from the ordinary world — reflecting the isolation of politics from ordinary life. It is only in academia that you can say that there is no biological basis for sex (i.e. ‘gender’, not the act) without raising eyebrows. Only in academia does it seem right to make ‘happiness’, rather than money (as in ‘who gets what, when, how…’) , the basis of politics. And only in academia can it be taken for granted that such fanciful ideas should drive ‘good governance’ — their word for settled politics.

    You say “Lew”, and I raise you Stern. A quick story…

    In the wake of the Stern review (2006), and while the UK Climate Change Act (CCA) was being drafted, Lord Adair Turner was chair of the Economic and Social Research Centre (ESRC) — the UK research-funding body. He conceived the need to supply academic research to the Climate Change Committee(CCC) that the CCA would create. So he established under the ESRC the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP). The CCCEP was sited at Leeds and the LSE, and was partnered with the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment — Jeremy Grantham’s vanity project — at the LSE and Imperial. The former body has been funded by approx £10m from the public, and the latter £12+ (at last count) from the multi-multi-multi-big-oil-millionaire. Upon creation, Lord Stern was appointed the chair of the CCCEP, and the Grantham Institute. Meanwhile, the CCA was passed, and Turner was made chair of the CCC. Since then, and cutting a long story short, Stern was appointed by the government to lead ‘An independent review of university research funding’. “Independent”.

    How to describe such an incestuous knot of panjandrums? The above barely scratches the surface or what would make even the most self-serving characters from Game of Thrones blush. Lew’s intransigence is nothing compared to Stern’s. And his use of public money to elevate himself, and his organisations’ fraudulent claims to public money to push his political agenda make Lew’s maneuvering look somewhat pathetic. Lew has simply seen the politicisation of UK academia as the opportunity for bare naked hacks that it has become, and jumped in, feet first.

    It is no surprise that the likes of Lew thrive in such a sea of bullshit. But the reasons lie elsewhere.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. The ATTP show continues. One does have to cavil that some show such incapability to actually think through counter arguments. Or perhaps they are capable but just too intellectually dishonest to mention the best arguments of other people. It’s what we see in politics all the time of course.

    The latest on the polar bear Harvey paper is a fine example. The post is titled “Truth Matters” and is just reiterating the trivial and scientifically unimportant proposition that “contrarian” blogs all cite a single polar bear authority who disagrees with the Harvey authors about a single issue in polar bear science. There is not a single word about this issue in polar bear science. In fact, the whole thing is a transparent attempt to simply deflect from that issue, where the Harvey authors seem to be scientifically quite wrong, or at least guilty of failure to update their model with new research.

    It just makes me more firmly convinced than ever that modern science is hopelessly contaminated by politics and careerism. I’ve reached the point where when I see a new paper, my first question is “how are they wrong” and “how have they skewed the evidence.” Usually, its quite easy for very senior people to spot the problems.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. BENPILE (24 Apr 18 at 1:06 pm)

    There’s something not quite right with the institutions.

    This is true. Since we’re not going to succeed in reforming the institutions at Cliscep, it seems right to start by analysing the crap the institutions are financing. I’m woefully aware that my attempts to demonstrate that Lewandowsky is illogical are not enough. Barry Woods has done more than anyone to demonstrate that he is unethical. Jonathan Jones and Ruth Dixon had to move heaven and earth to get published a short paper demolishing his Moon Hoax paper – which article Uscinski and Lewandowsky cite in support of their conspiracy theory theory! Joe Duarte and Steve McIntyre picked holes in his statistics and methodology. What else could they do? If Professor Eich, editor of Psychological Science had been an honest man, or even if he’d been a dishonest man, but boss of a third rate polling organisation anxious to preserve its reputation, he’d have thrown his paper in the bin and fired him.

    The broader observation would reveal the extent to which the world of academia has detached from the ordinary world

    Well hooray for that. It was when academia was well detached from the ordinary world that Burton could write the Anatomy of Melancholy, Bertrand Russell could write an introduction to Wittgenstein’s demolition of his (Russell’s) life’s work and get him appointed to the staff of Cambridge without so much as a single peer reviewed paper to his name, Eddington could test Einstein’s theories which threatened to overthrow his own beliefs, and Abelard and Eloise could correspond without Zuckerberg selling their confidences (and I’ll bet they were more interesting than the correspondence between Lewandowsky and Oreskes. But what do I know?)

    Your information on Stern is well worth a post, even though ATTP would describe it as ancient history. A few FOI requests might even turn it into a story for the mainstream media. But probably not.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. “This from a man who believes that the only God is stuff published in peer-reviewed journals.”

    Shouldn’t that be “pal-reviewed journals“?

    Like

  27. Alan Kendall (23 Apr 18 at 7:13 am)

    Have you ever considered that you are giving Lewandowsky too much credit for understanding of which he writes? … Lew doesn’t mention Hitler … And you assume that the Great Lewandowsky is capable of such flights of mental agility.

    Indeed I do. He is not stupid. He is a psychologist, and I am coming to the conclusion that my obsession with him is linked to a certain resemblance to my first boss, one of the founders of market research in Britain. This person launched what was once Britain’s favorite cigarette. It tasted horrible, but it had a quality that appealed to a majority of smokers. It was ordinary. Those smokers, or their children, with stunted IQs due to their parents’ habits encouraged by our efforts, are now the university lecturers who comprise the front rank of Lewandowsky’s supporters at the Conversation. Identify your target market, address your message to them, and never mind what the contrarians say. It worked for Britain’s favourite cigarette. Why not for its best nurtured mass hysteria?

    Lewandowsky launched his career with a move that was not ordinary. He co-edited a book on torture, a bad move in Bush’s America. He learnt the value of conformity when he published his first articles attacking climate non-conformists at the site of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and met his first opposition, in the form of JoNova (see Barry’s comments above.)

    He wrote the debunker’s handbook with John Cook, engineered Cook’s elevation from unemployed cartoonist to professor at a major American University, and got paid a five figure sum from the Royal Society and the Wellcome Foundation to immigrate to Britain, at precisely the moment that his key paper on climate sceptics’ conspiracy theorising was being retracted due to a “small number of cogent and well-argued” objections (ours.) He has never looked back, and I’m buggered if I know what to do about it, except crow from our (rather low) rooftops what a lying shit he is.

    Like

  28. anyone that would name there website – Shaping Tomorrows World – has rather grandiose pretensions?

    interestingly, the website has been down for a few months …
    and it appears to be completely memory holed..

    Stephan is now using the url for a blog one entry in 2011 (previous content gone)

    https://www.skepticalscience.com/Announcing-shapingtomorrowsworld-org.html

    I wonder.. did they achieve their long term goals..

    how it was announced.

    https://www.skepticalscience.com/Announcing-shapingtomorrowsworld-org.html

    From climate change to peak oil and food security, our societies are confronted with many serious challenges that, if left unresolved, will threaten the well-being of present and future generations, and the natural world. This new website http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org is dedicated to discussion of those challenges and potential solutions based on scientific evidence and scholarly analysis.

    The site was conceived by a team of academics at the University of Western Australia, and it was designed and implemented by Wendy and John Cook of http://www.skepticalscience.com. Seed funding for the platform was provided by the University of Western Australia, although it is now maintained entirely on a volunteer basis.

    Our goal is to provide a platform for re-examining some of the assumptions we make about our technological, social and economic systems. The posts on this site are generally written by domain experts, specialists, and scholars with an interest in these problems and we hope they will generate informed and constructive debate. We welcome contributions from experts and scholars around the world; please contact us on editors@shapingtomorrowsworld.org with proposals for posts or any other off-line comment.

    Our long-term goal is to provide an archival resource for debates and pointers to solutions to the many problems we are facing. Our rigorous comments policy will ensure that discussions remain civil and on track—please come and join the conversation at http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org. There is much to do, let’s move forward together.

    —————————

    LOL

    probably a good idea to lose the evidence of your co-author (Marriott-watchingthedeniers) hassling the very people he was researching!! (ethics approval said – observe only- no interaction of any sort -no risk

    https://web.archive.org/web/20121129183725/http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org:80/lewandowskySouljah.html

    Like

  29. let’s not forget – Lew had a ethics approval to deceive 5 bloogers, by inviting them to participate (unsolicited, by email) to host his survey. via emails sent by Hanich , not in Lewandowsky name, or any of his co-authors

    Three of them never responded – he had no idea they had ever received it. (‘contacted’ ?)
    one Morano, told Hanich – I’ll take a look – never got back

    and Roger Pielke junior exchanged a few emails with Hanich, asking questions and saying not a very good idea/survey..

    TWO years later, people were curious to find out who the 5 blogger that Lewandowsky had approached, but did not participate.

    Lewandowsky, started mocking these people, on his own blog, and in the media for not checking their inboxes, etc,etc.. Nobody knows who thy were so dozens of bloggers started checking for old emails, unread, etc from LEWANDOWSKY..

    and then went to OUT them

    note the ‘low risk’ ethics approval, has this now turned into ‘harm’?

    Lewandowsky could (SHOULD) have written to all 5, under his own name and explained that in fact a guy called Hanich had contacted them 2 years previously-unsolicited-, and that perhaps they were unaware of this and it related to Lewandowsky’s paper, unwinding his UWA ‘low risk’ ethically approved deception..

    But no.

    he was having too much fun, look up the Desmog blog interview where he mocks them. and his foi’d UWA emails where he is enjoying lots of bloggers trying to find out what had happened searching pointlessly for email from Lewandowsky just in case they had missed one from him (3 people had, including S Mcintyre ( but Hanich had sent them)

    Lewandowsky sought ethics advice before he released the identities… but stirred thing up on social media by ‘outing’ them..

    his ethics/legal advice was rather-extremely- flawed (technically)

    as the senior council thought, anyone could use google to find out who these people were.. !!

    quite how, anyone, could google an email, sent by a colleague of Lew (Hanich, whose name was unknown) to 5 unknown people, and into peoples private email boxes, is beyond me…..

    Outing people – a psychologist – wrt his research participants he had approval to deceive..

    FFS

    and nobody cares in psychology.

    Like

  30. And when Mcintyre complained in the Amnesisgat article comments – after he was ‘outed’ Lewnadowksy/Moderators – deleted him……

    …….and mocked him some more “audited”

    https://web.archive.org/web/20130316123452/http://shapingtomorrowsworld.org/news.php?p=1&t=118&&n=161

    stevemcintyre at 07:38 AM on 11 September, 2012
    (-Snip-)
    Moderator Response: Future instances of accusations of dishonesty/impropriety (snipped above) will result in a revocation of posting privileges, as all comments are now audited.

    Like

  31. Lew publicly outed people and mocked them, whom he had sort out ethics approval to deceive… and revealed their identities without ever informing them, or debriefing them as the National Statement of research ethics demanded.

    this is what should have happened: (particularly c-e)
    https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/e35.pdf

    17. RESEARCH INVOLVING DECEPTION OF PARTICIPANTS,
    CONCEALMENT OR COVERT OBSERVATION

    17.1 As a general principle, deception of, concealment of the purposes of a
    study from, or covert observation of, identifiable participants are not
    considered ethical because they are contrary to the principle of respect for
    persons in that free and fully informed consent cannot be given.

    17.2 In some fields of research, for example the study of human behaviour,
    there may be exceptional circumstances where studies cannot be
    conducted without deception, concealment or covert observation of
    participants. Before approving a research proposal which involves any
    degree of deception, concealment or covert observation, a Human
    Research Ethics Committee must be satisfied that:

    (a) the provision of detailed information to prospective participants
    about the purpose, methods and procedures of the research
    would compromise the scientific validity of the outcome of that
    research;

    (b) the precise extent of deception, concealment or covert
    observation is defined;

    (c) there are no suitable alternative methods, not involving
    deception, concealment or covert observation, by which the
    desired information can be obtained;

    (d) participants are not exposed to an increased risk of harm as a
    result of the deception, concealment or covert observation;

    (e) adequate and prompt disclosure is made and de-briefing
    provided to each participant as soon as practicable after the
    participant’s participation is completed;

    (f) participants will be able to withdraw data obtained from them
    during the research without their knowledge or consent; and

    (g) such activities will not corrupt the relationship between
    researchers and research in general with the community at large.

    —————————–
    hmm problematic c) – no suitable methods..

    because people see lewandowsky as an opponent and they hate him.. why would he even get ethics approval in the first place, the approval was a low risk approval originally researching anon, members of the public in the street and showing them graphs, and identifying trends.

    d) no risk of harm..
    Lewandowsky mocking them by name in the media, blogs, news sites and social media and ‘outing them, without consent. based on very flawed legal advice – lawyer thought people could find out identities, with google!!!

    e) – adequate and prompt disclosure is made/debriefing

    nope.. mocked them, did not contact them, then outed them in the media.

    ———-

    yet – the University of Western Australia and the journal Psychological Science, has said nothing wrong..

    FFS

    [Note: if ATTP hadn’t turned up, I would never have made any of these comments. counterproductive? of course ATTP would have deleted them all at his blog]

    Like

  32. It’s possible that Stephan Lewandowsky’s own father was a Nazi, so cut him some slack, please. Stephan is of that generation of Germans whose lives were shaped by a need to say sorry for what their parents had done. This can get tiresome and it can lead to some bad choices, but it’s understandable, no? And laudatory. Mostly. (Jeez, I didn’t half get fed up with it in the 80s. All that nudity and drugs.)

    German? Here’s Steve Lewandowsky in 1977:

    http://tinypic.com/r/2a9b8zp/9

    (His mum was R. His dad might have been an Ingolf. Or a Rudolf. Or just a Herbert.)

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Is that for real? what was it in/ some uni magazine?

    “… and though he laughs, there is an edge of contempt in his voice a slight trace of of condescension..”

    Geoff:

    remember Lewandowsky apologising for Peter Gleick phishing Heartland. First half of the article about Nazi Germany and dachau.. comparing Gleick’s lies to trick Heartland into sending him some documents, with Churchill lying to defeat the Nazi’s.. same moral issue – ref ‘lies’

    https://theconversation.com/the-morality-of-unmasking-heartland-5494

    then he gets onto ‘unmasking’ Heartland..
    (a director of Heartland, the last astronaut to leave the moon, and the only actual PhD scientist to go there and a former US senator.)

    oh dear (same pattern as above, comparing Watts to Hitler”) unmasking Heartland, same as Churchill lying to Nazi’s.. FFS

    seriously, is that article genuine.. how can I verify it? (me, a sceptic, afterall)

    Like

  34. VINNY BURGOO
    Fascinating article about the young Stephan (vacation job: cherry-picking in Canada – oh my.) How did you find it?

    Barry
    yes, it’s certainly genuine. How or why would you fake it? His German origins explain the strange accent, which wanders from Oklahoma (where he was a lecturer) to Australian and back again. I won’t mock his occasional spelling mistakes any more. No excuse for the Gleick and Paltridge comparisons though.

    Like

  35. Vinny,

    Let us not forget that ‘Lewandowsky’ is a Polish name (of Jewish ethnicity, if I am not mistaken). So if you delve back far enough you will find a Polish ancestry.

    John

    Like

  36. Geoff, R is the first letter of his mum’s name. I’m not sure I should give it in full. Dunno why. Just seems wrong.

    Is this what you found, Barry?

    https://archive.org/stream/washingtonelm197479wash#page/n393/mode/2up

    Elsewhere in that archive the German Embassy gave him a book for being one of ten students judged to have shown ‘outstanding performance in German’. Herzliche Glückwünsche, Herr Lewandowsky von Birkendorf, Baden-Württemberg!

    The complete 74-79 archive is available as a 350 MB PDF. It’s a wonderful way to waste time. For example, did you know that Allen Ginsburg charged $1,000 for a poetry reading and that his rider required that his tea and honey be ‘already prepared’ (how do you prepare honey?), that there’d be a coffee table for his incense, and that there’d be a ‘modest bunch of flowers’ somewhere? Or that in 1975 a Jesuit chemist was calling for solar and wind to replace fossil fuels and nuclear as energy sources? (This was to save the environment and promote self-sufficiency, but the article didn’t say how or why.) Or that in the 1970s America spent more money on fertilizer for golf courses and gardens than India did for all of its agriculture? (Supposedly. The source for that was a privileged leftie who reckoned there wasn’t any famine in China. Spy-turned-chaplain Bill Coffin Jr.) Or that a survey of a class of 19 women and 10 men could find only 15 students backing equality for women? (The survey was carried out by a philosophy prof who later became a vicar. I’m starting to see a trend here.) But this is all wildly off-topic.

    Like

  37. Ah yeah, Coffin of Skull and Bones. Hard to forget that name combo. Admitting Mao’s Great Famine would have placed emphasis on the death of the wrong kind of people, however.

    Like

  38. @Barry – thanks for the reminder of this Lew statement

    “1. When will an apology be forthcoming for the accusations launched against me? And how many individuals should now be issuing a public apology?

    To explore the magnitude of this question we must take stock of public statements that have been made about my research. For example, one blogger considered it “highly suspect” whether I had contacted any “skeptic” sites.

    Mr McIntyre expended time to locate and then publicize the name of the person within my university to whom complaints about my research should be addressed; time that we now know would have been better spent searching his inbox.”

    Sad that this person now can spout his cr*p in a UK educational establishment.

    Like

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