Watts explains why Lewandowsky paper on conspiracy theories is wrong: its a conspiracy between John Cook and the Prof

Gold plated bulls*t from Watts

Readers – I stand in awe at the complete lack of self-awareness of Anthony Watts and his merry crew of “sceptic” readers.

A wonderful post went up on “Watts up with that?” revealing the vast left-wing-academic conspiracy behind the NASA paper by Lewandowsky et.al.

Not content with the very public embarrassment of:

  • claiming that no sceptic blogs were contacted to participate in the survey for the NASA paper
  • only to have egg on their faces when it was revealed sceptic blogs had been contacted (see here for the lulz)
  • proving the point of the paper by engaging in an orgy of rage and conspiracy making…

…sceptic bloggers are now engaged in cascading episodes of jumping to conclusions.

These “sceptics” are behaving exactly as predicted - exactly as predicted.

Every one outside the sceptic bubble could see it playing out like this: in fact the way Watts et.al are behaving is fitting the criteria for conspiracy ideation.  

And it is hilarious.

Case in point – see Watts indulge in a text-book example of pattern seeking behaviour by cherry picking some “facts” about John Cook (of Skeptical Science) as an administrator for several websites:

There’s a lot that has been going on behind the scenes with the Dr. Stephan Lewandowsky “moon landing paper” affair. It turns out that Dr. Lewandowsky is part of a larger association that I dub the Cook-Lewandowsky Social-Internet Link.

Dum, dum, dum!

Watts then goes on to cherry pick random quotes from a variety places to “prove” the Lewandowsky-Cook-Hive-Mind-New-World-Order-Conspiracy.

Anyway, go over to Shaping Tomorrow’s world for some sanity, in which the authors of the NASA paper discuss their methodology:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, after various unfounded accusations against us have collapsed into smithereens, critics of our work have now set their sights on the data. It has been alleged that the responses to our survey were somehow “scammed,” thereby compromising our conclusions.

Unlike the earlier baseless accusations, there is some merit in casting a critical eye on our data. Science is skepticism and our data must not be exempt from scrutiny.

As it turns out, our results withstand skeptical scrutiny. We will explain why in a series of posts that take up substantive issues that have been raised in the blogosphere in turn.

Back to the Watts post – most precious of all is the comments which provide further text-book examples of conspiracy ideation.

Here’s some choice quotes:

tallbloke says:
September 12, 2012 at 2:54 pm

I wonder how much (if any) of the grant money awarded to Lewd Lew might have found its way into funds supporting Cook’s activities. I see a UWA investigation on the horizon.

Ah, the onanistic fantasy of all deniers – that somehow university admin people will rush in and correct the behaviour of naughty professors.

Then there is standard conspiracy theorising:

ocker says:
September 12, 2012 at 3:35 pm

It is all simpler than one might think. In AU, left wing governments supply “grants” and funding to left wing academics and “news” outlets. Right wing governments provide fewer “grants”. The market rules. If you wish to be funded by the government purse then you provide left wing propaganda.

I’m not sure how that makes sense, but to the poster it is axiomatic that left-wing governments give grants to left-wing academics. Wait a minute didn’t the Howard (conservative) government continue to fund the CSIRO and universities? Ah logic, how badly you can be twisted in the hands of a conspiracy theorist.

Science is left-wing propaganda. Indeed.

This is my favorite – the poster that tells people not to send their children to Australia:

Elizabeth says:
September 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Australia would be much better off if they let Asia just take it over. They are overgoverned, overrated, stuffy, overpoliced, controlled by politically correct minorities,full of themselves and their education system is now third world rated. Examples Gergis paper fiasco, Flannery, carbon tax now all this stuff with good ol Lew…its endless. Don’t send your children there to study my advice…

Australia, beautiful one day – North Korea the next.

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48 thoughts on “Watts explains why Lewandowsky paper on conspiracy theories is wrong: its a conspiracy between John Cook and the Prof

  1. [...] but very few anti-global-warming blogs did. This then devolved into literally the worst flame war I have ever seen on the Internet, centering around accusations about whether the study authors [...]

  2. [...] but very few anti-global-warming blogs did. This then devolved into literally the worst flame war I have ever seen on the Internet, centering around accusations about whether the study authors [...]

  3. [...] fury” dominated the pages of their blogs for several weeks. Sceptic bloggers engaged in (what appeared to be) a rash of conspiracy theory [...]

  4. [...] They’ve suggested the results were based on a flawed methodology and the product of a conspiracy between Lewandowsky and the founder of Skeptical Science, John Cook. [...]

  5. Mnestheus says:

    It’s hard to see why people bother with Hitler’s Downfall recaptions.

    Watts merry band guys are clearly ready for Desert Warriors if not SNL.

  6. Barry Woods says:

    the problem is the word significant (which was pointed out by many scientist that actually took part in the survey) as very ambiguous, ie a significant results is subjective in the mind of the respondent – ie 5% 50%, ( each respondent could have their own view.)

    (I wouldn’t have a problem,personally with 50%

    in the feedback, this was mentinoed a number of times as a problem (by the participants)

    I extensively quote from this in the WUWT article (saving you a couple of US Dollars)
    or you could spend a couple of dollars (shows as £1.50 to me) if you don’t trust me and just look for yourself, as can anybody else of course

  7. Barry Woods says:

    Steve the Doran Paper you quote, is NOT the survey.
    The Doran paper merely CITES another paper that conducted the survey (Zimmermann)

    it is all explained in the WUWT url..

    ZImmermann conducted the survey… Doran cites IT, both the 97% and Zimmermann’s quote come from M Zimmermann – The Consensus on the Consensus..

    Read the WUWT article again..

    • I already knew all that, Barry. That’s why I specifically asked you where the Zimmerman quote is from. Presumably the thesis…from 2008? If not there, where? It’s certainly not in the document that appeared ‘following that survey’ — the Doran & Zimmerman 2009 article (i.e. the peer-reviewed- journal-publlshed version of the thesis work). Zimmerman is co-author of the 2009 article, which notably doesn’t contain any of that naive patter you quoted about neutrality written by a fledgling master’s student. Quite the opposite: it ends with a plain statement about the near-unanimity of opinion among scientists who actually study climate. And I think Doran might be especially taken aback by your agenda-driven quote mining, given the way you noisy pseudo-skeptics earlier misrepresented his work on Antarctic temperatures and his views on AGW. He had to *correct* such mendacity from your side in 2006 http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/27/opinion/27doran.html?_r=0

      • Barry Woods says:

        the Doran paper – CITES the Zimmerman paper. the original work, is in the ZIMMERMANN paper..

        Why is this too hard to undertand…

        • It’s not. I know the 2009 paper cites the thesis. Academic publications are often outgrowths of — and refinements of — graduate theses, as you’d know, and not be surprised about, if you had a clue about how science is done. I presume (though you have yet to confirm) that the quote about ‘neutrality’ that you pulled by Zimmerman is from her thesis, because it certainly isn’t in her Eos publication.

  8. Barry Woods says:

    Hey – on the basis on the questions asked (ie very shallow) I would be one of the 97% ;-)

    I guess we differe wildly on our views on this. I’m sure your readers can form their own opinions (in conjunction with the WUWT link above), a copy of the survey/thesis is here:

    they were not duped, just went with the soundbite (nobody every reads the paper cited (it only came online last year)

    http://www.lulu.com/shop/m-r-k-zimmerman/the-consensus-on-the-consensus/ebook/product-17391505.html

    • Steven Sullivan says:

      …which, of course, is a link to a paywall, not to a ‘copy of the survey/thesis’. Which is perhaps explains why most have only read the Doran & Zimmerman 2009 paper that reported the primary results (I’m going to go out on a limb and presume Zimmerman, being co-author, endorsed the claims in that paper’s claims).

      • Steven Sullivan says:

        And if this question is so ‘shallow’ that even a pseudo-skeptic like you would answer ‘yes’ :

        2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing
        mean global temperatures?

        …then it’s all the more shameful that 53% of petroleum geologists and 36% of meteorologists in the survey didn’t.

  9. Barry Woods says:

    Ref the WUWT banner/article, I Like the verified bullshit stamp.. ;-) On what basis..

    article here…

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/18/what-else-did-the-97-of-scientists-say/

    (ie actual quotes from the scientists that took part in the Doran survey, from the appendix of thepaper cited)

    following that survey the author, and Doran co-author said (in the paper)

    “This entire process has been an exercise in re-educating myself about the climate debate and, in the process, I can honestly say that I have heard very convincing arguments from all the different sides, and I think I’m actually more neutral on the issue now than I was before I started this project. There is so much gray area when you begin to mix science and politics, environmental issues and social issues, calculated rational thinking with emotions, etc.”
    M Zimmermann

    • Steven Sullivan says:

      I wouldn’t put much stock in your cherry-picked quotes taken out of context on Watts’ sump. It’s furthermore amusing to see the explanation given in comments for why , if the Doran paper is so wildly out of whack, numerous respectable scientific organizations have publicly endorsed the ‘consensus view’: ‘they were duped’. Much as you dearly wish it otherwise, Mr. Woods, the 97% figure is not the joke that the Oregon Petition is.

      • Steven Sullivan says:

        And one wonders what Ms. Zimmerman (a Master’s student at the time) thinks of ‘the issue’ now, in 2012, rather than the >4 years ago when she was working on her thesis. The quote of hers you cite is NOT from Doran & Zimmerman 2009 (http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf). So, where’s it’s from? Her master’s thesis? And btw: “In analyzing responses by sub-groups, Doran found that climatologists who are active in research showed the strongest consensus on the causes of global warming, with 97 percent agreeing humans play a role. Petroleum geologists and meteorologists were among the biggest doubters, with only 47 and 64 percent respectively believing in human involvement. ” The claim is that 97% of *climatologists* who are actually doing research, agreed that AGW was real circa 2008. Your windy, shifty ‘auditing’ didn’t disprove that.

  10. Andy W says:

    Whoops, couple of typos:
    ‘cirst’ should be ‘first’ and I missed out the word ‘survey’ after the first time I typed Lew’s name.
    Serves me right for using my iphone to type whilst stood up on a packed train during rush-hour :)

  11. Andy W says:

    I notice it takes a sceptic (James) to make the cirst reasoned, thoughtful, and intelligent comment compared to all the other comments that just seem to take the form of snickering or mutual back-slapping.
    I have to re-iterate what James said: I have yet to come across any sceptic web-site that agrees with the ridiculous ‘faked moon landing/smoking doesn’t cause cancer’ rubbish.
    The Lewandowsky has many flaws. The most glaring being the extremely lopsided way that data was collected: a much greater number of alarmist sites were approached (with a personal
    invitation from Lew himself), whereas just a couple of sceptic sites were contacted (just sent an email from one of Lew’s assistants). Therefore, it stands to reason that the vast majority of responses would have been from alarmists. If those alarmist were filling out the survey truthfully, then it seems from the results that many who agree with the CAGW hypothesis believe the moon landings were faked, or were instead pretending to be sceptics when they submitted their answers.
    What does that therefore make some of the CAGW faithful? Either conspiracy freaks or liers.
    BTW why didn’t Lew approach WUWT? Was he worried about the results he might get? After all, WUWT is the most visited AGW site on the net.

  12. Bob says:

    I don’t think Lewandowsky’s conspiracy article is anything more than a parlor game. As a matter of fact, there may be money in that idea. Just think. Everybody holds a hand of Lewie conspiracy cards with details on the back. Dice are thrown to see who gets to guess who holds the NASA Moon card. If it is not held, then the one whose turn it is will draw an additional Lewie con card. Maybe that’s not the way the game is played.

    Oh, well. Some of you PhD guys can sort out the game details during your breaks at UWA.

    That would be a much better use of Lewandowsky’s data than pretending it to be some sort of serious science.

  13. mike williams says:

    And whilst we are on about conspiracies..the $CAGW$ crowd all believe that anyone who pokes holes in their science..is a part of a big oil/big tobacco conspiracy..
    So..keep up the “conspiracy” angle..please.!!!!
    Just do a Lewandowsky with my posts..you guys lose everytime their is free speech and debate..
    Gotcha :)

    • john byatt says:

      Did you really need a paper to find out that a lot of AGW deniers are conspiracy theorists?

      just read some of the comments at sites like WUWT, TCS Jonova and just grounds
      if you doubt the results of L’s paper,
      talk about discovering the bleeding obvious

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Lo! Love the $CAGW$ catchphrase! Gonna use that in a blog post. Like totally!

      I assume that implies the science is a cover for bankers and greedy scientists.

      I’m sure the Sheeple will wake real soon, and realise that the last 200-300 years of scientific knowledge is all part of a big scam.

      Nothing is as it seems… everything is connected… all shall be revealed….

  14. Steven Sullivan says:

    Obviously at this point the pseudo-skeptics are just echoing whatever desperate new talking points get cooked up by from what passes for their ‘brain trust’ (McIntyre, Watts, et al.), as each previous objection is batted away….alll the while muttering dark thoughts about conspiracy, and thinly-veiled threats about Dr. L’s funding. It would be funny if these bullies weren’t so predictable and so contemptible.

  15. Barry Woods says:

    not published yet… still in press…

    • James says:

      You are quite correct Barry, it is soon to be published in Psychological Science, but the paper has already been so widely circulated (and flagged as having passed peer review), I have slipped into treating it as if it is published. In my opinion it should be withdrawn. If we ever learn who were the reviewers who let this sloppy work through, there will be more questions to be answered IMO.

    • Barry Woods says:

      In press. I bet the title gets changed
      Given that it was touted to the Guardian, before the press release back in July
      And now September….

  16. James says:

    I think anyone who read the survey as I did would have immediately identified some concerns about potential flaws in the methodology which Lewandowsky didn’t cover. This included not providing an option of ‘Don’t know’ to many questions when in fact it would be reasonable that a large part of the population would not be able to offer an opinion on many of the questions asked. So the survey answers become meaningless. Another problem which has been mentioned at length was the ease with which the survey could be ‘gamed’ by ‘warmists’ pretending to be sceptics. By way of example it is shown that the ‘skeptics who supposedly believed the NASA Moon landings were faked, also believed smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer. Yet there is zero anecdotal or empirical evidence that skeptics hold this position in any number at all. I recall reading Jo Nova claiming that in over 130,000 posts by skeptics she has never read a claim that smoking does not cause cancer and has never heard a sceptic claim that. Lewandowsky chose to override the survey software’s ability to bloke multiple survey responses from the same IP addresses with a flimsy excuse that sometime a number of people use the same computer. In reality, the survey methodology would not normally have passed muster for undergraduate statistical work, not just for the above reasons, but also because not a single respondent could be verified as being real. But Lewandowsky compounded all those problems by drawing the longest of bows from the smallest sample to make the astonishing claim, and to title his paper – ‘The NASA Moon Landings Were Faked therefore Climate Change isn’t Real’ (or whatever the exact wording was – it isn’t even worth my searching that paper again.

    Lewandowsky further embarrasses his own professional credibility by claiming he couldn’t release the names of the skeptic sites he asked to host his survey because of ethical issues – a load of rubbish. And when skeptic sites contacted him to inquire whether they had been contacted, he wouldn’t even tell them, instead he suggested they search their in-boxes! Then it turned out there had been an innocuous email sent by an assistant to so far I think two skeptic sites – whereas Lewandowsky himself had sent personal invitations to non-skeptic sites. That alone breaks the first rule of administering survey research – consistency in delivery. Why would anyone even think to open an email from someone they didn’t know which required the clicking on a link?

    I am surprised (no, actually disappointed) that Lewandowsky’s paper passed peer review and was published by Psychological Science. But I guess that just demonstrates the extent of the politicisation of the Climate Change debate today.

    With regards the comment about Lewandowsky and Federal Government Funding, those interested may like to look at his University CV at http://websites.psychology.uwa.edu.au/labs/cogscience/documents/SLvita.pdf

    Here Lewandowsky proudly details his $4.4 million in grants. Which includes $762,000 specifically related to Climate Research funding in the last year or two, and none of that includes the $6 million the Federal Government provided him and a few colleagues to found and run ‘The Conversation’ which provides a substantial forum for his ‘Climate Change position’. I have looked and I haven’s found an example of a skeptic who receives funding like that from any source. Yet if you want to talk conspiracy theories, Prof Lewandowsky is always claiming that skeptics are funded by ‘big oil’ or ‘fossil fuel’ but has never offered any evidence of that.

  17. catweazle666 says:

    Ah, damn these denialists with their conspiranod fantasies.

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, the Kyoto Treaty is not going to get renewed, the French have completely reversed their policy on hydraulic fracturing and Germany commissions the first of 23 new coal fired power stations – over half of which are going to burn lignite, the dirtiest fuel going.

    Oh, and Tuvalu hasn’t sunk yet, they’re going to spend all the money they blackmailed the industrial nations out of on a massive expansion of airport capacity.

    Sleep well, folks.

  18. badgersouth says:

    There’s no longer any doubt. The Wattsonians are indeed from a parallel universe. It’s a damn shame they have the ability to cross over into reality..

    • NeilT says:

      No, no they come from several different parallel universes but all think they are on the same plane. If it wasn’t so funny to watch it might actually be painful.

  19. This is the first time I’ve found this blog…. And boy did it deliver. Lol. Thanks. I had been feeling a little down lately after engaging too much with the denial sphere. Thanks again.

  20. Roy Mustard says:

    Sir, you truly are the king of kings. Excellent post.

  21. The conspiracy is global. Maybe (gulp) more than global?
    Won’t someone think of the children?
    It would be funny if it weren’t for the fact these morons are endangering us all.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Yes, Watts et.al. are funny – and yes – the tragedy is “we” (as in our societies) paid attention to these fantasists.

  22. john byatt says:

    Even the Arctic is in on the scam

  23. [...] to actually be true, the denier blogs trotted out a new, and COMPLETELY INSANE conspiracy theory. Watts explains why Lewandowsky paper on conspiracy theories is wrong: its a conspiracy between John … You couldn't have created a better example of the link between climate denial and conspiracies. [...]

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