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« Get on board for a Green Future - Josh 180 | Main | Fisking Emmott »
Wednesday
Aug292012

Lewandowsky's conspiracy paper goes mainstream

Hilariously, the Telegraph has published an article promoting Stephan Lewandowsky's "conspiracy theorist" paper - you know, the one that surveyed readers at all the main non-sceptic blogs and discovered that sceptics were all conspiracy theorists (see first comment here).

The article is written by one Jonathan Pearlman. Bad journalist or green activist? Anyone know?

 

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Reader Comments (93)

No reason he can't be both.

Aug 29, 2012 at 7:54 AM | Unregistered Commentermrsean2k

Lewandowsky's paper recycles all the old lame lefty laments

Researchers from The University of Western Australia (UWA) have examined what motivates people who are greatly involved in the climate debate to reject scientific evidence.
[ARROGANT BLIND ASSUMPTION THAT ALL THE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE POINTS TO CAGW - CHECK]

The researchers, led by UWA School of Psychology Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, found that free market ideology was an overwhelmingly strong determinant of the rejection of climate science.
[ONE-SIDED DENIAL TO NOT NOTE THE REVERSE - CHECK (in that communist ideology is an overwhelmingly strong determinant of the acceptance of climate science)]

“There has been much research pointing to the role of free market ideology in rejecting climate science, but this is the first time it’s been shown that other scientific facts, such as the link between HIV and AIDS, are also subject to ideological rejection,” said Lewandowsky.
[DEMONISE AND DENIGRATE OPPONENTS - CHECK]

“It is important to understand the role of perceived consensus because it highlights how damaging the media’s handling of climate issues can be when they create the appearance of a scientific debate where there is none
[SHUT DOWN ANY PUBLIC DEBATE - CHECK]:
More than 90 in 100 climate researchers agree on the basic fact that the globe is warming due to human greenhouse gas emissions
[IRRELEVANT STRAWMAN ARGUMENT - CHECK]

Aug 29, 2012 at 8:02 AM | Registered Commenterrickbradford

The report appears to be strongly political: 'The paper says that a staunch belief in free markets was an overwhelmingly strong factor in the rejection of climate science and was a stronger factor than conspiratorial thinking.

So, if you're not a Marxist, you're a conspirator for the evil Koch Bros......

Aug 29, 2012 at 8:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Pay no attention. Lewandowsky is just a psychologist (and I won't say what I think of them) and no-one will read this rubbish. For the few who have ever heard of him, he's a sick joke.
Like Robert Manne, he has zero impact in Australia.
Incidently, we've had a pretty cold miserable winter here and it's not over yet.

Aug 29, 2012 at 8:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterLevelGaze

Like many of you, I read most of the key sceptic blogs every day and didn’t see this survey once. As an amateur psychologist I set myself this multiple choice quiz.

I did not see this survey ‘why?’
a) I am now blind
b) I am now senile
c) The survey was so heavily disguised I mistook it for an advertisement for Viagra
d) The survey did not appear on any sceptic blog

If the answer is d) then the next question is ‘why not?’
a) The person setting the survey couldn’t use web search tools to find a sceptic blog and/or was too shy to ask directions
b) The person thought the places they set the survey looked like the ugly, evil places sceptics would hang out
c) The person couldn’t find a sceptic blog owner dumb enough to fall for this attempt at smearing sceptics
d) The person didn’t want real sceptics answering the survey and proving to be highly rational types so put the surveys where warmists could pretend to be sceptics and paint them as crazy

If the answer is d) then ‘why would a they do this?’
a) because the end justifies the means
b) because climate science allows you to predetermine the answer
c) because global warming is always good for grant money in any field
d) because labelling those who disagree with you with a mental aberration is both fun and effective
e) all of the above

For the record, I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, I don’t even think AGW is a hoax. I think it’s a hugely complex issue that is polluted by bad science and endemic advocacy. Professor Lewandowsky merely adds another shovel load to the ugly mix. My survey is in light hearted jest, what’s his excuse?

Aug 29, 2012 at 8:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

People like me must terribly confuse them. Avid free marketeers but quite open to the idea that climate change is happening as a result of human caused emissions.

Aug 29, 2012 at 8:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterTim Worstall

ie the paper went to great lengths to ignore that staunch state-worship was an overwhelmingly strong factor in the acceptance of state-funded climate science.

Aug 29, 2012 at 8:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterReg2

But Tim, you can easily prove there can be no CO2-AGW because the experimental data in HITRAN, the basis of the US Military's MODTRAN software, shows that water vapour reduces the IR emissivity [hence absorptivity] change when you increase CO2.

By ~10% relative humidity at ambient, there is no change so no CO2-AGW. As the IPCC calculates AGW as the sum of that for individual gases assuming no interactions, its predictions are worthless from this single error, let alone the rest. As for the physics, it really is fascinating how different is the real explanation from that claimed. but of course, I am a science-obsessive..........

Aug 29, 2012 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Having a quick peek at the Telegraph article led me off to String Theory: Hundreds of Physicists Can’t Be Wrong from Dummies.com. In fact the article makes quite clear that hundreds of physicists can be wrong - and ends with the mystery of the brilliant Ed Witten. Refreshing.

Aug 29, 2012 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

TinyCO2

Your survey has at least as much merit as the state funded one, please feel able to apply for free money in order to extend the work, you only need to add a statement submitting your allegiance to the masters of the environment.

Certainly put a smile on my face and to ensure that your uncertainty bars are precise for the finished data then after long and careful consideration I submit d), d) and e), accuracy in these matters is paramount.

Aug 29, 2012 at 8:52 AM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

I'm taking the liberty of reposting a whimsical piece I put in the Discussion forum earlier when Lewandowsky's paper was mentioned by Corner:-

I've been trying to think of an analogy for Steve Lewandowsky's eccentric view of the scientific method and the best I could come up with was this:-

I am (hypothetically) a young, gay Australian academic. I have a lot of young, gay friends with similar interests and concerns – one of which is equal treatment of gay people under the law.

We all believe that gay people should be allowed to get married in exactly the same way as straight people and we are distressed that a vocal group of mainly conservative, religious older people are opposing this.

I don't like these sort of people. I think they are smug bigots – they also tend to be fat and play golf.
I don't actually know any of them because, I mean, honestly who would want to hang out with creeps like them?

I feel so strongly about this issue I decide to use my academic position to do some research into exactly what makes these people into the kind of narrow-minded pompous fools they so obviously are.

I discuss my plans with my buddy John who runs the local gay bar. He says he very occasionally gets a few of these old conservative, religious bigots in there and agrees with me that they are pretty nasty types.

I decide the best way to expose the truth about these indescribably unpleasant people is to find out what they think and write a paper about it. To find out what they think, I'll use the well proven technique of getting them to fill in a questionnaire.

I grab a clean sheet of paper and sit down to design my questionnaire. What sort of questions should I ask to get to the truth about these revolting characters? It's a bit tricky since I don't actually know any of them – but I've got a gut feel for the sort of things they might get up to.......

1.Do you believe in God?
2.Do you regularly play golf?
3.Is your waist size in excess of 38 inches?
4.Have you stopped beating your wife yet?
5.Have you ever wondered what it would be like to put a cute little kitten in the microwave?
6.Have you ever been tempted by the thought of sexual intercourse with farm animals?
7.Do you ever think that Hitler might have had a point after all?

I'm pretty happy with that – seems to cover all the bases – now to decide where to distribute it.

I take a bunch of them along to John's club and put 'em on the bar. It's always pretty busy in there so they should be no shortage of takers.

A few of the regulars pick one up and read it. They seem to find it quite funny and snigger a bit – but I decide, as a serious scientist, I should ignore sniggering.

I take a stack of them round all the other clubs where I'm a regular and leave them.

A couple of weeks later, I go round and collect all my questionnaires, take 'em home and read them. As I read them, I feel a strange mixture of emotions. Horror – because these people are obviously just as evil as my worst imaginings – but also a warm glow of satisfaction because my diligent academic research will finally expose them for what they really are.

I write up my paper, scattering the raw meat of the questionnaire replies with a seasoning of the statistical formulae and algebraic notation that's the internationally accepted mark of a true work of science. Then I send it off to the publishing journal.

In due course of time, a few thousand miles away on the other side of the planet, a naïve young scientist who shares my interests spots the synopsis of my paper on the internet and reads it.

He is horrified – his worst suspicions are confirmed. He picks up the phone and calls a friend, who happens to be an editor at Gay News. “I've just read this awful piece on the internet that says people who oppose gay marriage also beat their wives, roast kittens, have sex with animals and support Hitler”.

His friend is a bit less naïve, but does have a paper to fill “Are you sure about that – it sounds a bit, sort of, OTT?”.

The young scientist delivers his killer blow “It's all true - it's in a published scientific paper”.

How can the editor refuse such an impeccable source - “OK zip me over 5000 words and we'll get it in”.

Meanwhile, a few thousand miles away in the other direction, deep in his dark and malodorous tomb, the body of the long dead Professor Feynman rotates so fast that pieces of his putrifying corpse rattle onto the inside of the rotting casket.

It's science Richard – but not as you knew it.

Disclaimer – I once wrote a piece of whimsy on Bishop Hill that included references to witch doctors, natives with spears and a met office official with a pretty young assistant. The forces of political correctness rained down on my head for about a week with allegations of racism, sexism and all possible combinations thereof. I want to point out therefore that this piece is just a puny attempt at satirical observation of the phenomenon of confirmation bias. I have no knowledge of, or opinion on, the sexuality of anyone involved in the episode referred to – or indeed anyone else.

Aug 29, 2012 at 8:57 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

I know three conspiracy theorists and they are all rabid global warmers.

Aug 29, 2012 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

TinyCO2
The correct answers are
1 c
2 c+d
3e
At the first comment linked by the Bish above, Barry Woods gives a list of the sites used. You can find articles promoting the survey by searching the archives for August 2010. At Tamino there are many comments suggesting that regular warmist readers knew what was going on and may have acted accordingly. Lewandowsky threw out more than 30% of replies for multiple posting, absurd demographics etc.
The exception is Skeptical Science, where no article appears, which is very odd, since Cook in the leaked SkS emails makes multiple references to his admiration for Lewandowsky and their frequent discussions on how to use his reader database.
Barry Woods wrote to Lewandowsky asking for vital background information such as the number of “sceptics” in his survey. I don’t know if he received a reply. Can anyone with more statistical savvy than me work out an idea of the possible number of sceptics from the meagre information in Lewandowsky’s paper? It must have been above some minimum number for him to have derived statistically significant results.

Aug 29, 2012 at 9:04 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Aug 29, 2012 at 9:01 AM | Jimmy Haigh

I should have added that all three conspiracy theorising warmongers I know are all pretty wierd people.

Aug 29, 2012 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Bish the journo's name is Jonathan Pearlman not Stephen.[Fixed, thanks. BH] Looking through his history he looks like the usual lazy journo who doesn't really create any input by putting any thought into stories I'm guessing he spends most of his time kicking back on Bondi beach with a G&T faxing the press releases to London ;)

The fact that this Lewandowsky paper is clearly a rubbish piece of hack work designed for party political impact, is by the by, this hack has just regurgitated it because of the catchy headline it brings (Neil Armstrong's death probably helps in his mind).

The fact that Pearlman has been based in Australia long enough to observe and write about...

The climate change debate had become increasing acrimonious in Australia and had led to the downfall of successive leaders on both sides of politics.

without putting 2 and 2 together to wonder why social science papers about climate from Oz are so unhinged and biased like this doesn't seemed to have factored into his idiot brain ;)

Aug 29, 2012 at 9:09 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Nobody asked me.

I'm quite happy to believe that the moon landing was real. Those who think otherwise are just away with the fairies.

And I am equally happy to believe that Diana Spencer - no towering intellect she - was stupid enough to get into a large powerful car with a bunch of drunks, not wear a seatbelt and then meet an unfortunate end pretending that the streets of Paris were Monaco on Grand Prix weekend.

Aug 29, 2012 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

If you will indulge me I'll add the comment (it took quite a lot of research to put together).
Remember Dr Adam Corner, had written a similar article in the Guardian(without checking too hard it seems)

Guardian: Are climate sceptics more likely to be conspiracy theorists?

"research finds that sceptics also tend to support conspiracy theories such as the moon landing being faked"
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/jul/27/climate-sceptics-conspiracy-theorists

My Comment:

How many ‘actual’ scep­tics will have seen these survey, or answered them..as this paper based its research only from 8 ‘anti-sceptic’ blogs.

They asked 5 skep­tical blogs to post a link…Who refused. (sus­pecting motives?, like those that com­mented below did)

The 8 blogs actu­ally sur­veyed were so called ‘pro-science’ blogs ! (who are all very anti-sceptic, with a lot of very derog­atory lan­guage & rhet­oric about deniers.

The blogs who posted the links are claimed to be:

http://www.skepticalscience.com

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/

http://tamino.wordpress.com

http://bbickmore.wordpress.com

http://www.trunity.net/uuuno/blogs/

http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/

http://profmandia.wordpress.com/

http://hot-topic.co.nz/

even the locals didn’t think the ‘den­iers’ would fall for such a trans­parent survey…

http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/survey-says/#comment-44097

“Yeah, those con­spiracy theory ques­tions were pretty funny, but does anyone think that hard­core den­iers are going to be fooled by such a trans­parent attempt to paint them as paranoids?”

Actual links to the ori­ginal art­icles.. these were the links I found:

http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2010/08/counting-your-attitudes/
http://profmandia.wordpress.com/2010/08/29/opinion-survey-regarding-climate-change/
http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/08/29/survey-on-attitudes-towards-cl/
http://hot-topic.co.nz/questionnaire/
http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/survey-says/
http://bbickmore.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/take-a-survey/

I haven’t found the links yet to:

http://www.skepticalscience.com
http://www.trunity.net/uuuno/blogs/

where even the locals thought it was a trans­parent and poor survey, an attempt to try to describe scep­tics as para­noids or nut.. ie. very likley, by the com­ments that the ‘anti-sceptic’ locals had some fun with it..

As no data is avail­able yet, it would be very inter­esting to see a break­down based on refer­ring URL’s as the blogs men­tioned some are MUCH more high traffic than others, which begs the ques­tion. did most of the survey res­ults come from just a few of these blogs (who detest sceptics) —

The per­centage of actual scep­tics taking this survey must be tiny…

making the Guardain art­icle con­clu­sions and claims rather laughable.

Aug 29, 2012 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

They would like to paint us all as loony conspiracy theorists, but that effort is ALL PART OF THE CONSPIRACY. :-)

Aug 29, 2012 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda Klapp

TinyCO2

Perhaps I should add to my above comment on your survey that I do not have any conspiracy beliefs but would appreciate a copy of any resultant paper prior to the 20/12/2012 as I may be indisposed from then onwards.

Aug 29, 2012 at 9:21 AM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

I know three conspiracy theorists and they are all rabid global warmers.
Aug 29, 2012 at 9:01 AM | Jimmy Haigh

This chimes in with my own experience. Amongst the people I know there is a massive correlation between faith in Homeopathy, belief in 9/11 conspiracies, passive smoking, a belief in the concept of Gaia, and unquestioning acceptance of CAGW.

It goes without saying that those folk are all on the left from Labour activists through to SWP and Occupy supporting zealots.

Thinking about it, I don't know anyone who believes in Homeopathy who isn't a CAGW activist.

Where can I get a grant to research this?

Aug 29, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

more details about just how bad the survey was here: ie the author of the paper, was actually a contributor to one of the anti-sceptic' blogs surveyed..

http://www.bishop-hill.net/discussion/post/1904675

Aug 29, 2012 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Moon hoaxers are I think just people who enjoy a wind up. They come up with old lot of nonsense, like fake moon landings or all those ones about the Queen, to see what legs it has. They are fundamentally harmless and can be really quite funny, neither of which can be said for ecoloonies.

I think it was Fortean Times who once gave page space to someone or other to set out the whole moon-landings-were-faked account of events, with a rebuttal of it on the facing page.

It must be said that the hoax arguments were quite well thought through to the extent that someone had clearly had a lot of fun thinking them up.

For those not familiar, they depended on claims such as:

- none of the astronauts was that awed by the experience (presumably The Onion's legendary front page - http://members.shaw.ca/rlongpre01/moon.html - was more in tune with the correct reaction)
- the cameras had no viewfinders so the photographs were too good to have been taken by astronauts in helmets
- some of the photographs had reproduction marks on them with rocks in front indicating that the marks were actually bits of the 'set'
- various of the lighting angles were wrong or conflicting.

...and so on.

The obvious weakness is that they take no account of the possibility the astronauts might have been handpicked, meticulously trained men.

Probably the funniest rebuttal was this one: http://stuffucanuse.com/fake_moon_landings/moon_landings.htm

Aug 29, 2012 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

LevelGaze is correct, nobody outside soft science academia takes Lewandowsy seriously. His "research" speciality is climate change denial and I believe he presents undergraduate lectures on the subject.

Apart from that, he's an idiot.

Aug 29, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Registered CommenterGrantB

Adam gets a good kicking on hit blog? But I fear its all for nothing as it doesnt seem to be a high visibility site to start with?

But lets be honest here people. We all know the paper is all rubbish, and I'd think that the vast majority of catastrophiliacs will know the paper is full of sh1t. However, because they want to believe, neigh...because they HAVE to believe that deniers are anti-science loons, funded by big oil/big coal/big fossil fuel then they will just accept this paper without question as it gives them the answer they want to hear about why the so called deniers are so successful in their anti-science distortions!

Mailman

Aug 29, 2012 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

I think you guys should get of Lewandowsky's case. Yes, he cherry picked data to obtain the desired result, but at least he didn't base his conclusions on a single activist blog from Siberia!

As far as I can tell, neither has he "lost" data, "adjusted" data, nor truncated data where it diverges from the party line.

So overall, I think Lewandowsky's work is a bit of an improvement over what normally passes for climate "science". Yes, it's utter b*ll*cks, but so is all politically motivated science!

Aug 29, 2012 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterHeide De Klein

My daughther went to school with Jonathan Pearlman - OZ born and bred. Clever boy from clever family - but first significant job with Sydney Morning Herald - which is run by a worker's soviet - and a useless board and is going broke at a rapid rate. It has mixed up editorial with news - pandering to the "luvvies" and "greenies" as its former conservative readership has deserted in droves. It is showing signs of change amid massive downsizing of staff. I don't know whether Jonathan still works with Fairfax/SMH but he has been over-exposed to their Flannery view of the world. Their "ace" (unless he has taken redundancy) eco-nut is a reporter called Ben Cubby. Still nowhere near as bad as their Melbourne paper, The Age or that beacon of dangerous BS, the Guardian.

Aug 29, 2012 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterML

These oeuvres should be welcomed because they can be shot down in one's sleep.

Come to think, is there any intellectual heavy gun that has bought CAGW? Minions, lackeys, the lazy and the idiotic aplenty.

Perhaps this should've been expected when science became somebody's day job.

Aug 29, 2012 at 10:29 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

I don't know Jonathan Pearlman or Stephan Lewandowsky. It is quite possible that in a few years, for example, Lewandowsky or Pearlman no longer remember what they have written. Think for instance of Cass Sunstein, who currently is the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration and who co-authored in 2008 the working paper "Conspiracy Theories". In that paper Sunstein et al. write: “We can readily imagine a series of possible responses [to conspiracy theories]. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. [...]” One cannot rule out the possibility that a lot of people think that their proposal, "the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups" is the best response. Today Sunstein answers (to Luke Rudkowski) apparently when spoken to something like: "I hope I didn't say that things."

Live long and prosper [BTW, it seems, by looking, for example, at James A. Lovell (today 84 years old), John W. Young (today 81) und Eugene A. Cernan (today 78), that the journey to the Earth's moon is a good cure and that the harmful effects of (so-called?) dangerous radiation, which appears at least when the astronauts are passing the Van Allen radiation belt, is very relative and has no serious influence on their health. The previously deceased "moonwalkers" died quite "ordinary" deaths, all of them! It appears that nuclear radiation is not always a problem.]!

Aug 29, 2012 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterSeptember 2011

The comments section of Adam Corner's blog post mirroring his Guardian article Are climate sceptics more likely to be conspiracy theorists? is invaluable to this latecomer to the argument (thanks Bish). I like for example the honesty of 'jim':

Conspiracy the­or­ists abound on both sides of the cli­mate and enviro fight. ... Far and away, the weight of con­spiracy the­ories lies most heavily on the Green Mob, which is driven by apo­cryphal fear of tech­no­logy and of social and envir­on­mental collapse.

But what are conspiracy theories? In the Telegraph seven modern examples are given:

1. the moon landing was faked
2. Princess Diana was murdered
3. there's no link between tobacco and lung cancer
4. there's no link between HIV and Aids
5. the CIA killed Martin Luther King
6. the United States allowed the September 11 attacks
7. SARS was produced in a laboratory as a biological weapon.

Strangely there's no mention of the following option, from Alex Cull on Adam Corner's thread:

The “oil-funded cli­mate deni­alist con­spiracy theory” (for want of a better and more suc­cinct name) appears to be a variant of the crop of ideas that were rampant about Jewish plu­to­crats a cen­tury ago, but with Exxon and the Koch brothers standing in for the Elders of Zion.

In 1930s it was the conspiracist worldview around the fabricated Protocols of the Elders of Zion, combined with the false science of eugenics, that goaded the paranoids of that generation into building the gas chambers of Treblinka and Auschwitz. And this, more than anything else, has given conspiracy theories of all kinds a dreadful name in the West - though not in the Middle East and many other parts of the world.

Painting 'deniers' as conspiracists I realise ticks all the boxes as black propaganda. But it doesn't explain the parallels Alex Cull sees with the wild theories and paranoid smears of the alarmists themselves - as I do also.

Note that the Nazi Party was one of the few organizations in modern history that actively boasted, among its members, that it was a conspiracy. In the face of this reality it was possible to be too credulous in the anti-conspiracist direction. One naturally thinks of Neville Chamberlain and his meeting with Hitler in Munich in September 1938 but what about Winston Churchill and Konrad Henlein, the Sudeten German politician, in London in May of the same year? Henlein was in the pay of the Nazis, though both parties denied this, as is the way with real-world conspirators. And Churchill was totally taken in, as he met the Sudeten, "looked him in the eye" and largely trusted his Hitler-inspired sob story about his downtrodden people.

Not of course that the parallel necessarily stands - that we have a bunch of dangerous and delusional paranoids in our own day, a fanatical core of whom are also eager conspirators. But history would warn us from completely discounting the possibility.

Aug 29, 2012 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Having surveyed readers of climate sceptic blogs I suppose Stephan Lewandowsky will follow up his ground breaking piece of scientific research by carrying out a similar survey of readers of conspiracy theory blogs and discover the people who think that Elvis is still alive, the Moon landings were faked and Princess Di was assassinated on the orders of the Duke of Edinburgh also believe that the world's climate scientists are engaged in a gigantic conspiracy to get billions of research funding.

That will confirm the findings of his original paper and so create a consensus among psychologists that people who are sceptical of the theory of man-made global warming are conspiracy theory cranks who ought to be ignored. Consequently the editors and journalists in respectable news media such as the BBC and the Guardian will regard it as their duty to ignore all sceptical arguments (if they did not already ignore them) and to demonise anyone who thinks sceptical arguments deserve a hearing.

Yet another research project for Stephan Lewandowsky (I seem to be writing his CV for him!) would be to carry out a survey along the lines suggested by Foxgoose. It should not be too difficult to find evidence that climate sceptics are racists and homophobes, providing you identify the "correct" data and discard the "incorrect" data like certain climate scientists are reputed to do in their efforts to prove the theory of Mann-made global warming.

Aug 29, 2012 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

And here I was thinking The Telegraph is a Conservative-leaning rag. Has the body politic in the UK really been corrupted so much by the green agenda, that blatant Marxist drivel is now given credence across the board? Sheesh!!

For the record, Latimer Alder has it spot on. Climate change skeptics are about as far from conspiracy theorists as it is possible to get. Poor silly Diana, may she rest in peace. We just don't like being lied to, continually over 25 years. How long did Lysenkoism last? More than 30 years.

Aug 29, 2012 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

What a useless piece of research, what an idle piece of journalism.

Most conspiracy theorists are government agents!

Aug 29, 2012 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

... nobody outside soft science academia takes Lewandowsy seriously ...
Which presumably is why we are devoting a blog post and 29 comments to him, Grant? No?
I hear what you are saying and within academia you are probably correct but he is saying what a lot of people want to hear, especially the loonier fringe of the eco-warrior tendency enough of whom have the ear of, or are part of, the media and so his inane ramblings and dishonest pseudo-science will get lapped up, regurgitated and spoon-fed to the undiscriminating masses.
Like all his kind the man is dangerous. We dismiss them at our peril.

Aug 29, 2012 at 10:56 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

So what's Delingpole's take on this latest disaster? Pecunia non olet?

Aug 29, 2012 at 10:58 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Wow, just WOW. Nothing more that a blatently flawed attempt to link scepticism with conspiracy theorists or others on the extreme.

The structure is:

- Free market thinkers are more likely to be sceptical of AGW Alarmism.

- Conspiratorial thinkers are more likely to be sceptical of AGW Alarmism.

- Therefore sceptics are Conspiracy Theorists and Free Market thinkers.

Just where do you begin with such garbage?

Aug 29, 2012 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Lewandowsky's 'impartiality' can be assessed from the tenor of his opinions on Climategate, proudly aired by the Guardian here:-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/nov/23/attacks-climate-scientists-real-climategate?commentpage=1#start-of-comments

Aug 29, 2012 at 11:07 AM | Registered CommenterPharos

Roy, "Having surveyed readers of climate sceptic blogs ..." - he didn't, that's the main joke. He surveyed 8 rather extreme activist blogs. He claims to have asked 5 sceptic blogs but when asked which these were, refuses to answer the question.

I'm sure the Torygraph realises that this is complete nonsense but put it up to wind up readers.

Aug 29, 2012 at 11:13 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Pharos, thanks for the Guardian link. I ought to have known Lewandowsky. For example all that Farcebook and Tweet trash that emerged through Lewandowsky's snide Guardian article.

Aug 29, 2012 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterSeptember 2011

The exception is Skeptical Science, where no article appears, which is very odd, since Cook in the leaked SkS emails makes multiple references to his admiration for Lewandowsky and their frequent discussions on how to use his reader database.

Aug 29, 2012 at 9:04 AM geoffchambers

I think you nailed it when you dug up those SkS emails Geoff.

I think Lewandowsky's "research" was just another piece of green activism dreamed up with his buddy John Cook - then tarted up with academic sounding waffle and fired off to gullible groupies like Adam & his mates at the Graun.

It's an exact parallel to Adam's publicly funded "academic" blog Talking Climate - which just happens to be run in collaboration with lifetime green activist George Marshall.

As far as I can tell, neither has he "lost" data, "adjusted" data, nor truncated data where it diverges from the party line. So overall, I think Lewandowsky's work is a bit of an improvement over what normally passes for climate "science". Yes, it's utter b*ll*cks, but so is all politically motivated science!
Aug 29, 2012 at 10:16 AM Heide De Klein

I think what he did was, in a way, worse than losing, adjusting or truncating the data.

He went looking for data only in places where he knew it would confirm his prejudices.

The former is fraudulent science - the latter isn't science at all.

Aug 29, 2012 at 11:21 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

"Like all his kind the man is dangerous. We dismiss them at our peril."

Aug 29, 2012 at 10:56 AM | Mike Jackson

You are right Mike. There is is something profoundly disturbing that Lewandowsky could:

1. Think this up;
2. Get it published; and
3. Think he'd get away with it.

Aug 29, 2012 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

It's this Pearlman, right? He's an Aussie as well, which leads me to believe he's shilling for a friend here.

Aug 29, 2012 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

My research shows that Pearlman is now with the Asia News Network. He wrote a June 15, 2012 on how the decision to build the world's largest marine park in Australia. Apparently UNESCO had threatened the Barrier Reef's heritage listing unless greater care was taken to protect the area, especially from gas and mining. The more than 3 million square mile reserve that would include the Coral Sea angered commercial and sport fishermen.

His stories seem to have an environmental bent. US readers may be fascinated to know he is the link that proves that the bioregional movement we call Agenda 21 to restrict the development of metropolitan areas is alive and well in Australia as well. A report by Michael Dernee called "Sydney: Post Urban Sprawl" cites a June 18, 2002 story by Pearlman called "Answering the Cusp call of the Urban Sprawl." Both Pearlman and Dernee are sad the general population still prefers the quarter acre block that is behind urban sprawl in search of available affordable land.

Dernee's report mentions Pearlman's story and then states that "although the 'ecological footprint' of urban sprawl is disgraceful, urban consolidation is yet to be comprehensively addressed. This is due to the attachment to the great Australian dream and fear of change."

I quoted that for a reason. That attitude and the report itself is what is called the Regional Equity Movement in the US. It is what Agenda 21 was created to implement by dealing with local and state officials to stealthily make it a fait accompli. If you are not familiar with REM and how it fits into the UN's Education for Sustainable Development and Distributive Justice movements, I wrote about it here a few weeks ago. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/distributive-justice-is-not-enough-we-must-break-the-illusion-of-the-unitary-self/

I explain there why the Regional Equity Movement fits with everything I have read about the Belmont Challenge and the Future Earth Alliance that the UN, US, UK, Europe, and Australia are all heavily involved in. Still scheduled to go operational at the beginning of 2013.

Pearlman's writing reminds me of the theme of ESD globally. The stated desire to "create a feeling of global responsibility" in each individual. The idea is for it to invisibly guide daily behavior at an unconscious level.

Some people are accusing others of conspiracies to deflect attention from the fact that they appear to be involved in a coordinated effort organized around a common purpose of shifting the world away from capitalism, individual liberty, and the primacy of the nation-state. Pearlman seems awfully close to writing stories concerning UN bureaucrat's "hearts desires" for the 21st century.

You and I would just call it mass servitude.

Aug 29, 2012 at 11:26 AM | Registered Commenteresquirerobin

This came up a month ago, I believe, and I commented on it then:

Politics Spreading the Delusion: A Case in Point

Aug 29, 2012 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

OK, Pearlman really does have an interest in the Bioregional approach of limiting devlopment and telling people where they can and can't live. His wording in this story from May 13, 2011 suggests he is not sure he agrees with Professor Rae Duffy's assertion that "the government should not force people to settle beyond the cities."

http://www.aims.sg/newspaper/au/Aust5.pdf . Pearlman's story is called "Easing the urban squeeze Down Under."

Aug 29, 2012 at 11:46 AM | Registered Commenteresquirerobin

Mike Jackson, I'm not saying we should ignore the likes of Lewandowsky, only that we should not take him seriously. In fact he is useful. At my local boozer, golf club etc they know my background and whenever they're standing around flapping their arms and whinging about the cold when the Brisbane maximum gets slightly below 20 deg C (which it has this winter), I always chirp in with something like, "well that's global warming for you and a carbon tax will make it even colder". They all, as far as I can tell, think global warming and the carbon tax are bullshit so I enjoy pointing out that there are highly paid academics such as Lewandowsky in Oz researching their mental frailties.

I sadly think the scientific debate is all but lost. Not because of the science itself but because the full range of views never gets a run in most of the main stream media and especially in the ABC. And the average bloke isn't interested in it anyway and why should he be. This will be decided finally at the ballot box and not by a scientific debate that most are not interested in.

IMHO derision and piss-taking are highly effective options and from my experience they work. Point out the string of failed predictions, point out the waste of taxpaye'rs money, point out the hypocrisy, point out that the majority of these windbags are bone noodlers (Flannery), ethicists (Hamilton), psychologists (Lewandowsky), data deniers (Gergis et al) and a battalion plus of tenured historians and social scientists. It works.

A few of you here do it. I think Latimer Alder does it particularly well.

Aug 29, 2012 at 11:59 AM | Registered CommenterGrantB

The fact that they've switched to blaming climate realism on psychological stereotypes, is an implicit admission that they can't get the hokey science past us. This sort of erudite psychobabble propaganda has a long and disgraceful history.

All those erudite people and their studies, research and papers, lent a spurious legitimacy and authority to the whole thing and having laid that essential groundwork, facilitated what inevitably followed.

http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/the-real-bastards/

Pointman

Aug 29, 2012 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

"The blogs who posted the links are claimed to be:

http://www.skepticalscience.com
..."

Hey...wait a second, all those blogs heavily moderate reasonable skeptics away so few stick around very long. But they are also chock full of very activist AGW enthusiasts who would find it quite fun to spoof answers to such a survey, that being a quick and easy analogue to the ongoing practice of faked hate crime incidents on college campuses.

Weird lefty guys like this "scientist" are helping charge kids a hundred grand to spit out one psychologist graduate for every four teachers produced by universities, so many that it has become one of the lowest rewarded degrees, I believe $30K a year average. What astounds me, delightfully, is how many soft science and liberal arts power house departments have all now gone on record as supporting a scientific theory that completely relies on correct temperature predictions to avoid serious backlash. That suggests last gasp desperation is at work, culturally. The green movement has in devilish fashion seduced formerly insider activist and corrupt social study intellectuals out into the public square to rage against those who simply predict that the temperature wont actually skyrocket this century.

Quickly searchable Internet record of their wrath against reason I suspect prevents them from backing down even in the face of growing ridicule. A faked moon landing is one of the most laughably odd conspiracy theories around so it really shows a severe lack of emotional intelligence on the part of those who would send us to re-education camps if they could. The blogs listed in the study are in fact quite creepy places (whereas skeptical blogs suffer from a sort of nice old man hyper normality).

I call foul on this study, completely, as in I'd like confirmation of the identity of those who responded, or for it to be repeated by regular posters on the skeptical blogs listed on the WUWT blogroll. I think you'd find a fair percentage of basic religious rejection of Darwin at various levels of sophistication, but I have not even run into a single persistent skeptic who overlaps with the conspiracy theory crowd. I distinctly recall one showing up on WUWT and getting laughed at when his web site was then commented upon by regulars. In fact, AGW skeptics are the exact audience who are most likely to not fall for a wild and unsupported conspiracy theory.

Yet all this time scientific "skepticism" societies have been themselves bashing AGW skeptics. How so very odd is Western society churning along as it separates the men from the boys, publicly!

A study that delves into highly activist green party watering holes that censor competent skepticism in order to study "skeptics" is not just laughable but brazenly corrupt.

Aug 29, 2012 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

New insights from science and behaviour change could lead to significantly improved outcomes, and at a lower cost, than the way many conventional policy tools are used.

MINDSPACE: Influencing behaviour through public policy was published by the Institute for Government and the Cabinet Office on 2 March 2010.

The report explores how behaviour change theory can help meet current policy challenges, such as how to:

reduce crime
tackle obesity
ensure environmental sustainability.

Today's policy makers are in the business of influencing behaviour - they need to understand the effects their policies may be having. The aim of MINDSPACE is to help them do this, and in doing so get better outcomes for the public and society.


We outline nine robust influences on human behaviour and change. These principles are underpinned by considerable research from the fields of social psychology and behavioural economics. They are therefore presented as the most robust effects that policy-makers should understand and, if appropriate, use. The
following sections briefly explain these effects, which we have arranged according to the acronym: MINDSPACE.

Messenger.... we are heavily influenced by who communicates information
Incentives.... our responses to incentives are shaped by predictable mental shortcuts such as strongly avoiding losses
Norms.... we are strongly influenced by what others do
Defaults.... we "go with the flow" of pre-set options
Salience.... our attention is drawn to what is novel and seems relevant to us
Priming.... our acts are often influenced by sub-conscious cues
Affect... our emotional associations can powerfully shape our actions
Commitments.... we seek to be consistent with our public promises, and reciprocate acts
Ego.... we act in ways that make us feel better about ourselves

Just goes to show that understanding the mindset of the sceptic is important in political circles so that behavioral changes can be implemented to implement a better different lifestyle.

Aug 29, 2012 at 12:12 PM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

NikfromNYC: a good analysis. Basically,, we're educating acolytes for the Greenie Priesthood, a Gaia worshipping caste intent on killing off 10s of millions so they can maintain their emotional purity.

Aug 29, 2012 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Here are a few examples of Pearlman's journalism that I found. I think he is just a general journo, Sydney based, who happens onto the various environmental stories as they come along.

He is doing a lot for the Telegraph these days, just google Jonathan Pearlman Telegraph. Do the same for SMH and get lots more links, he is very prolific, although some will be syndication.

Some great reports:

"Cannibal Killers delay Papua New Guinea Poll"

"Australian MP 'framed' over prostitute expenses"

"Wheel Clamp Man with his hard hat and angle grinder on the streets of Perth"
"A caped crusader in green lycra, multi-coloured socks and black Speedo swimming trunks has been hailed a hero by motorists."

This global warming article from 2009, does show a propensity for hype, in the selection of a great picture of a red dust storm to accompany the piece:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/9143901/Australias-climate-warming-at-alarming-rate-report-warns.html

Aug 29, 2012 at 12:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennisA

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