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« Fleshing out the cosmoclimatogy hypothesis | Main | +++Michael Gove responds to Climate Control+++ »

Ethical confirmations

As if any confirmation were required that Lewandowsky's papers were ethically compromised the expressions of dismay from the wilder fringes of the green movement provide it in buckets.

Ugo Bardi, an Italian chemist who seems to have something to do with the Club of Rome, has resigned from the editorial team at Frontiers in disgust, penning a long protest article here. In it we learn that although he has no opinion on the ethical or legal aspects of the paper he is convinced that Frontiers has let Lewandowsky down.

It is not for me, here, to discuss the merits and demerits of this paper, nor the legal issues involved (noting, however, that the University of Western Australia found no problems in hosting it on their site). However, my opinion is that, with their latest statement and their decision to retract the paper, Frontiers has shown no respect for authors nor for their own appointed referees and editors. But the main problem is that we have here another example of the climate of intimidation that is developing around the climate issue.

And, as if to put the seal on the conclusion that the paper was bunk, support for Bardi's decision comes from Peter Gleick, a man with long and deep experience in the area of ethical compromise:

Not retracting academically flawed papers is bad for a journal; so is retracting academically sound ones.

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Reader Comments (103)

When is Lewandowsky making a public presentation in Bristol?

Apr 9, 2014 at 6:46 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

Ah Geoff - you're right, of course.

Fury is only a blog diatribe now - except it's also a prize exhibit on the UWA website,

The lawyers would want to go after UWA for the deep pockets - but Lew could also be sued here for the reasons you mention I guess.

Apr 9, 2014 at 6:54 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

NASA Faked the Moon Landing - Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax 18 June 2014 12:30 - 13:30
BS1 4QA Bristol | View map
BIG Green Week Festival talk by Prof. Stephen Lewandowsky, Chair of Cognitive Psychology at Bristol University, in partnership with Bristol...

Apr 9, 2014 at 6:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

None of the sceptics that I know is a smoker and neither am I. I have not quizzed those sceptics on their attitudes to the link between smoking and lung cancer so I suppose it is just possible that some of them believe there is no link but are against smoking for other reasons, of which there are plenty. Nevertheless I would be utterly astonished if any of them believed there was no link.

Are my sceptic friends and I untypical of climate sceptics in our attitudes towards smoking? I am perfectly aware that no statistician would claim that any firm conclusions can be drawn from such a sample, but I would need some convincing that Lewandowsky's samples were more representative.

Apr 9, 2014 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy


From Marriott's about (as linked to by Barry Woods)

"In order to have a real understanding I’d need to pursue a Bachelor of Science and post-graduate degrees to be able to speak authoritatively on climate science."

or stay at a Holiday Inn Express. :)

Apr 9, 2014 at 7:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil R

Anybody noticed the tumbleweed drifting across SkS while Lew makes his last stand.

Almost as if they've disowned him.

Apr 9, 2014 at 7:25 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

you can tell it is really bad - SkS won't even mention it.. ;-) LOL

also don't forget John Cook is a co-author of Fury, and involved with LOG12 And Marriott. Fury -co-author is also a SkS insider (writing rebutalls for SkS, despite no science quals)

Apr 9, 2014 at 7:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Roy - my 'environmental skepticism' dates from fifth grade, mid-1960s, when my teacher coached me into presenting an anti-SST screed at a school assembly for parents that I concluded in later years was complete crap.

I've had several relatives whose health has clearly been harmed by smoking; none contracted lung cancer but I wouldn't dispute the potential linkage. I've also had relatives killed by firearms. But I'm still not convinced, in these cases, that the expansion of state authority to prevent something is a greater evil than that which it intends to prevent.

Apr 9, 2014 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

s/is a greater evil/is NOT a greater evil/

Apr 9, 2014 at 7:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

They'd already disowned him back in 2010. As I mentioned in a comment under Lew's latest post at Shapingtomorrowsworld, it's astonishing how the fifty plus comments in the TreeHut files which mention Lewandowsky (all but one from Cook) elicit no reaction from his fellow hut members. Cook has a crush on the Prof, and everyone else maintains an embarrassed silence. Cook and Lew wrote the antidenier pamphlet together, and only one fellow-hutter expresses a bit of appreciation. Tom Curtis, in 2012, went so far as to say that Lewandowsky had nothing to do with SkS.
And in the middle of Cook's crush, in July 2010, Lew asked Cook to do him a favour, and Cook turned him down. Then a month later, Lew hired Cook to do the dirty work on “Fury”, giving Cook the priceless cachet of a coauthorship of a peer-reviewed scientific paper.
Something's missing in this story. Did Cook drop a scented handkerchief from his balcony that escaped Turnill's FOI requests? Has Cook got something on Lew, something worse than Moon Hoax and Fury?
Who cares what the temperature will be in 2100 while questions like these remain unanswered?

Apr 9, 2014 at 8:12 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

One more editor resigns from Frontiers. A neurobiologist.

Apr 9, 2014 at 8:13 PM | Registered Commentershub

Barry Woods:

anti-Semitic set of innuendoes

In light of the sensitivity of the subject, it should be clarified that it was an accusation of anti-Semitism, not an anti-Semitic accusation.

Apr 9, 2014 at 8:27 PM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

shub - Brembs history shows a genteel sort of leftism, nothing too interesting. He doesn't really seem to have digested the issues at heart in this matter.

Apr 9, 2014 at 8:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

These resignations could be honourable protests.

Or they could be confected outrage.

Or perhaps Frontiers has realised any editors or reviewers supporting Lewandowsky are a liability to its future if it wants to be taken seriously as journal and they have taken the opportunity to clear out the jetsam and flotsam...

(Other opinions are available)

Apr 9, 2014 at 8:33 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

That Bjorn Brembs appears to exhibit the same tendencies as Lewandowsky:

Last month, I was alerted to an outrageous act of a scientific journal caving in to pressure from delusionals demanding the science about their publicly displayed delusions be hidden from the world

And then goes on to say:

Essentially, this puts large sections of science at risk. Clearly, every geocentrist, flat earther, anti-vaxxer, creationist, homeopath, astrologer, diviner, and any other unpersuadable can now feel encouraged to challenge scientific papers in a court. No, actually, they don’t even have to do that, they only have to threaten court action and publishers will cave in and retract your paper.

Quite frankly, these words strike me as those of someone who appears ill-informed on the facts. Or perhaps he thinks its ok to libel people whose opinions you don't agree with, and label them as suffering from mental illnesses on no evidence.

My advice to Bjorn is to read Steve McIntyre's letters of complaint and check the evidence for himself. But still, if he wants to make fool of himself in public, I'll enjoy the spectacle. I do love a bit of righteous indignation mixed with confected outrage.

Apr 9, 2014 at 8:45 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

Foxgoose (5:16 PM): Very happy to add my name.

thinkingscientist (6:46 PM): Lew's presentation in Bristol is on 18th June. See that thread for who is or may be going.

Apr 9, 2014 at 8:46 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

JEM, are you a closet Unix-nazi? :-)

Apr 9, 2014 at 8:47 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

Thanks Richard. I need to check my diary.

Apr 9, 2014 at 8:52 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

Richard Drake - a week too early for me, will be trolling the Brooklands auto museum the following week enroute to Italy...

Apr 9, 2014 at 8:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

thinkingscientist - whenever I hear a date earlier than 1/1/1970 I reach for my revolver ;)

Apr 9, 2014 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

Just posted the following on Bjorn's blog

"Hi Bjorn, I wonder if you have taken the time to read the letters of complaint by Steve McIntyre, a recognised statistical expert with peer reviewed papers to his name? It might open your eyes to the truth behind this retraction.

And of course you can find more of the back story at



Apr 9, 2014 at 9:00 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

JEM, good one! I confess I had to look it up though.

Apr 9, 2014 at 9:05 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

When is Lewandowsky making a public presentation in Bristol?
Apr 9, 2014 at 6:46 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

I don't know. He is not listed in the upcoming seminars that I could find. However, four of the seminars will take the form of a departmental pub-crawl. I wish I could be there.

Apr 9, 2014 at 9:10 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

TS, Slight correction: They will all take place at The Green Man (a case of nominative determinism?).

Experiment repeated on Sat 3, Fri 9 and Sat 10 May 17:00 - 23:00 The Green Man, 21 Alfred Place, BS2 8HD; The Portcullis, 3 Wellington Terrace, BS8 4LE; The Victoria, 2 Southleigh Road, BS8 2BH

Apr 9, 2014 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Jeez, I didn't get after two attempts. I'm getting furious with myself. Best read it yourself.

Apr 9, 2014 at 9:20 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Dont't expect that crowd to read anything not peer-reviewed by them. Not classy.

Actually, not fully true. I attempted to post a comment on their blog. It disappeared, so someone probably read it:

I find it strange that Ugo Bardi would resign to protest a treatment of an article he did not read.

Apr 9, 2014 at 9:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurious George

Michael - he is not making a presentation at Bristol uni..
he is making one at Big Green week in Bristol

NASA Faked the Moon Landing - Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax 18 June 2014 12:30 - 13:30
BS1 4QA Bristol | View map
BIG Green Week Festival talk by Prof. Stephen Lewandowsky, Chair of Cognitive Psychology at Bristol University, in partnership with Bristol...

Apr 9, 2014 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

My response to Bardi would be that from both an ethical and academic perspective, Lewandowski's paper is deservedly lacking of respect.

My reply to Gleick would be "No worries. Frontiers hasn't retracted an academically sound paper."

Apr 10, 2014 at 12:19 AM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

"alan kennedy:

can I ask why Professor Lewandowsky's research merits this degree of interest?

It is because it is cancerous pseudo-science masquerading as legitimate research, and the problem with not addressing tumours is that they have a nasty habit of spreading and of becoming malignant.

Apr 9, 2014 at 9:57 AM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson"

I think that Lewser's pseudo science is quite malignant.

More resignations? Seriously? Supposedly independent decisions to resign? or more proof of climate conspiracies?

Sure sounds like that racketeering word. Where's RICO?

Apr 10, 2014 at 12:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

RE: Thinking Scientist's "Lewandowski is out of his depth"

I believe that has been apparent for some time.

Made worse by the fact that psychology is not particularly deep water.

Apr 10, 2014 at 12:45 AM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

Peter Gleick:

Not retracting academically flawed papers is bad for a journal; so is retracting academically sound ones.

So is claiming that academically flawed papers are academically sound ones.

Apr 10, 2014 at 5:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterCarrick

This thing is escalating, not long before the MSM notices.

Something that people like Richard Betts need to consider - is Lew's work the best battleground for warmist credibility?

Apr 10, 2014 at 8:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Getting support from Peter Gleick is like getting CRB approval from Ian Watkins.

Apr 10, 2014 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterRightwinggit

The biggest joke is that Lew's own data - even badly collected from alarmist websites - showed that believers in catastrophic global warming were also the biggest believers in the conspiracy theories he listed. You can reach that conclusion by simple arithmetic. That Lew derived the opposite conclusion from rank bad stats is only a sign that he was overly motivated in getting the idea out there and repeated; whether it was right or wrong. That he left out the biggest conspiracy theory in this entire farrago - that skeptic commentators/bloggers are supposedly funded by big oil (a Michael Mann favourite) - is a blatant omission that by itself invalidates the thesis.

Lest we forget, psychology is the absolute worst field for false pronouncements and rank bad papers getting published but there is no shortage in the other soft sciences. Bad science may even be the new normal.

Apr 10, 2014 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG


Peter Gleick:

Not retracting academically flawed papers is bad for a journal; so is retracting academically sound ones.

So is claiming that academically flawed papers are academically sound ones.

I think Peter has caved to the hazard of commenting on stuff he hasn't read. The example was his attack on Donna's compilation of IPCC author qualifications for "errors" it didn't make.

If he writes comments like the one you quote, he can still save time by not reading the paper and yet have his bases covered.

Apr 10, 2014 at 1:02 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

I see another Bristol University Psychology Prof has resigned in a tantrum over Frontiers' retraction of Lew's peer-reviewed tantrum.

I'm a bit puzzled because he apparently holds the chair in "Cognitive Psychology" - which I thought was held by our own dear Lew.

Which kind of begs the question - how many Chairs of Cognitive Psychology does a city the size of Bristol need?

In fact, looking though the list of academics in that department - how many experimental psychologists do we need altogether.

I've been wondering also when the discipline of psychology changed from aiming to find out stuff about us, to help us be happy - to finding out stuff about us, to help us be manipulated.

Does anyone else think the world suffers from a massive surfeit of useless academic research?

Apr 10, 2014 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

The scholarship of Lewandowsky and Cook

Lewandowsky calls what they did a "narrative analysis of public discourse in the blogosphere in the aggregate." He offers an example of the scholarly activity.

This is the difference between saying "Joe is a racist" and saying "When Joe and Fred get together in a bar at night their discourse contains racist elements based on application of the following scholarly criteria."

What happened is something slightly different, Dr Lewandowsky?

Joe, Fred and Lew got together in a bar and Joe and Fred criticized Lew for writing a bad science paper about people like them. Joe and Fred hopped to the next pub and continued to discuss Lew's paper, and Lew secretly followed them. All along he had his tape-recorder running. He came home, applied scholarly criteria and showed how "when Joe and Fred get together in bars at night, their discourse contains racist elements based on application of the following scholarly criteria".

Research conclusion: "Therefore, people like Joe and Fred not only believe the moon landing is a hoax, but are racists"

Apr 10, 2014 at 2:06 PM | Registered Commentershub


The answers to your questions are None, none, when AGW arrived and Yes.

Apr 10, 2014 at 3:48 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

When Gleick is not busy committing id theft and internet fraud, he is also busy not reading articles and books he comments on. He already knows the position to take on issues, and does not need to actually read the books or articles, much less actually be the person he claims to be to make an opinion. And especially, those he hates do not even need to write or say the things he says they said or wrote or did for it to be true.
He is the poster boy of ethics in the modern world of climatocracy: Any theft, crime, deception, ruse, scam, con, libel or fib is OK if in the cause of promoting fear of climate, and in defending the AGW consensus from scrutiny.
In other words, he and Lewandowsky are peas in a pod.

Apr 10, 2014 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

thinkingscientist: Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes.

Apr 10, 2014 at 4:27 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

My polite - albeit critical - comment still not on Ugo Bardi's blog 24 hours after I posted it.

Apr 10, 2014 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterHK

Ugo is an end of the world nutter. Science is much better off with him out selling his bs elsewhere.

Apr 10, 2014 at 6:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Hunter, once again you are on to something. Not reading stuff has to be far more productive than actually working your way through it. Or maybe this is another outbreak of telecommunication. Somewhere in the Forest someone reads it and you infer the gist of it by telecommunication.

Apr 10, 2014 at 6:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterjferguson

oops, damned cell-phone. Make that teleconnection: books in the forest teleconnected to Gleick.

Apr 10, 2014 at 9:02 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

No, Ugo is a member of the Club of Rome, and infamous group preaching apocalyptic clap trap.
Ugo promotes faux studies about peak oil, a theory which requires ignoring reality and clinging to doomsday tripe.
Ugo is deeply associated with promoting- and making a living off of- end of the world stuff.
He is really not hidden away.Just google his name to read his bogus Paul Ehrlich-esque crap.
He wrote in the Oil Drum for goodness sake. He is just another misanthrope parasite hanging out in academia.
Perhaps you could give him a read and get back with us, instead of looking quite so foolish? Better yet, don't and stay just the way you are.

Apr 11, 2014 at 12:55 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Hoisted by my own petard. Please accept my apology for a ridiculously antagonistic post to you. My only excuse is that I have been up a very long time today and rushing to get home did not carefully read your post.
the irony that presents in reference to the content of your post is profound. In fact, I owe you thanks for a clever post regarding my critique of Gleick.

Apr 11, 2014 at 12:58 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

not to worry. I wrote it badly. you've reminded me how hard it is to write to be understood - speaking for myself alone. i must say I was really bowled over with the idea of Gleick's incredible productivity in his "not reading" activities.

Apr 11, 2014 at 2:32 AM | Registered Commenterjferguson

Thank you for your graciousness.
What I find amazing is how many Ugo's there are, selling academic snake oil, wrong over the span of a career, yet being rewarded for it. And Gleick- what is there to say about a confessed fraud and con-artist who gets appointed to the ethics committee of a group that holds itself as pro-science? Much less about the group that selected him for th ehonr?

Apr 11, 2014 at 4:00 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Commenter JohnM at Jo Nova's may have solved the conundrum of Bristol University apparently having two "Chairs of Cognitive Psychology".

He thinks Lew might actually occupy the "Commode of Cognitive Psychology".

Apr 11, 2014 at 9:53 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Another statement from Frontiers:

It ends:

Frontiers seriously investigates any well-founded complaints or allegations, and retraction only happens in cases of absolute necessity and only after extensive analysis. For the paper in question, the issue was clear, the analysis was exhaustive, all efforts were made to work with the authors to find a solution and we even worked on the retraction statement with the authors. But there was no moral dilemma from the start – we do not support scientific publications where human subjects can be identified without their consent.

Seems clearer to me now their business model allows a lot of leeway to the authors and reviewers to get a high throughput and in this case they got bit by a lack of good will.

They also say:

It is most unfortunate that this particular incident was around climate change, because climate change is a very serious threat for human civilization.

They seem not to realise that the reason this happened was almost certainly because it was around climate change. ;)

Apr 11, 2014 at 1:36 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

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