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Lewandowsky and the paleoparticipant

José Duarte has been taking a look at another paper by Stephan Lewandowsky and, hard though it is to believe, it's almost as bad as his previous ones. The study is apparently a survey of a sample of the US population and purports to show that conservatives have a propensity to reject climate science.

José's post is unmissable, but here's a flavour of the thing:

A much more serious problem, however, is that there is fake data in the PLOS ONE sample. Most consequentially, there is a 35,757-year-old, a veritable paleo-participant. (Data here.)

There are also seven minors, including a 5-year-old and two 14-year-olds.

This would be a serious problem in any context. We cannot have minors or paleo-participants in our data, in the data we use for analyses, claims, and journal articles. It's even more serious given that the authors analyzed the age variable, and reported its effects. They state in their paper:

--- "Age turned out not to correlate with any of the indicator variables."

This is grossly false. It can only be made true if we include the fake data. If we remove the fake data, especially the 32,757-year-old, age correlates with most of their variables. It correlates with six of their nine conspiracy items, and with their "conspiracist ideation" combined index. It also correlates with views of vaccines – a major variable in their study.

At this rate Paul Nurse will be making him a fellow of the Royal Society.

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Reader Comments (89)

"a sample of the US population and purports to show that conservatives have a propensity to reject climate science"

Well, if "climate science" is what produces AGW propaganda, doesn't that make sense?


Jan 6, 2015 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Stephan Lewandowsky will not stop no matter what the real world says. He lives in a strange deluded world where no matter what he does, he must be right.

Sir Paul Nurse real Nobel Laureate, however seems to have the same clouded (and puerile) judgement as the pretend Nobel Laureates.

Jan 6, 2015 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

When someone points out an error in my work my attitude is to be grateful and correct it. If the work has already been published and the error is significant I will issue a correction. I thought that was normal scientific practice.

What word would you use to describe someone who refuses to correct his work even though an error has been pointed out, it certainly wouldn't be "scientist"

Jan 6, 2015 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

The existence of the 32757-year-old paleoparticipant was noted by commenter "corpus" (Probably Brandon Shollenberger) at Lewandowsky's blog in October 2013. No response there. Also here is the direct link to the comments on the PLOSONE paper - no response to Joe Duarte's August comment.

Jan 6, 2015 at 5:32 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Let’s call the roll: Michael Mann, shoddy workman, arrogant child, power hungry jerk. Go to hell. Peter Gleick, thief, liar and fool–you too. Stephan Lewandowsky, charlatan, pimp and village idiot–begone,wretch.

The quote is from a post by Tom Fuller who was unhappy at the damage done by such alarmists on the environmental movement.

Jan 6, 2015 at 5:53 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Don't warmists need a few 5 year olds to pad out their support?

Jan 6, 2015 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

@ Arthur.

I think you are mistakenly applying scientific practice to something that aspires to be a science but is actually a social science, like economics. Psychology, Economics and indeed a whole host more disciplines are NOT true sciences because they cannot discriminate detail. They can conjecture and suggest broad-brush relationships, consequences, outcomes, etc. but they cannot predict or dare I say model, discreet or individual outcomes. Which I suppose also puts climatology in the same bracket.

Indeed considering climate science as a social science explains a great deal, after all economists are always predicting outcomes and consequences that rarely execute as predicted, especially in macro-economic areas, just as psychology almost completely fails at predicting individual response and action.

Jan 6, 2015 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter C

I see from Jose Duarte's that Lewandowsky is using a significance level of P=<0.01, not P=<0.001. I guess he learnt statistics from the same idiot as Oreskes

Jan 6, 2015 at 6:09 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Stephan Lewandowsky will not stop no matter what the real world says.

I hear Michael Biehn saying "He can't be bargained with. He can't be reasoned with. He doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever, until everyone who is wrong is diagnosed as mentally ill." :)

Jan 6, 2015 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered Commentertarran

Lewandowsky's next paper will show that Real Climate Pigs can fly, and it is only due to historic conspiracies, that the general public believe that they can't.

Jan 6, 2015 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Yet the Vatican and other allegedly enlightened and wise groups worldwide has been sold and delivered on this.

Jan 6, 2015 at 6:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I'm deeply disappointed. Imagine meeting a 32757 year old, and all you ask is "who shot JFK?"

Jan 6, 2015 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Jose says PLOS1 has been notified. The interesting question is, what will they do.
University of Bristol should also be notified (where I believe Lew currently is on faculty). Minors is an IRB breach. Not issuing a corrigendum after the notice Jose has given the authors is academic misconduct. Both are serious matters.

Jan 6, 2015 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

Where are the grown-ups to put a stop to this nonsense?

Jan 6, 2015 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie1815

"Stephan Lewandowsky will not stop no matter what the real world says."

Why should he?

In his world he has all the fame, peer respect, post at top university, money, travel, his name as an authority, support of the Head of the Royal Society.

In his world – and the world of absolutely everyone he speaks to – he is gold-plated. He has it all.

All we have is the truth.

And the small comfort that he'll be in the history books alongside Lysenko.

Jan 6, 2015 at 7:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

LOG12 (Moon Hoax) paper (v similar survey - Lew said the PLOS One paper replicated it!

NASA faked the Moon Landing, therefore (climate) science is a hoax - Lew et al (Psychological Science)

included minors 10-17 - (according to it's methodology!)

And each conspiracy theory had less responses agreeing, than the PLOS One survey!

Lew hasn't released the full dataset (he stripped out age, gender 300 (dodgy) responses, and url referring data)

Jan 6, 2015 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

You people are just age-ist. Frankly it's what I'd expect from filthy climate sceptics. LOL.

Jan 6, 2015 at 7:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Where are the grown-ups to put a stop to this nonsense?

Jan 6, 2015 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie1815

I too, have often despaired of waiting for the cavalry. It can be frightening to think that so much stupidity can be allowed to persist for so long. When people up to and including the President of the United States (or his speech writers and the twittering brain-dead) cite these types then it is, well, alarming to say the least.

Fortunately, I also know that human CO2 emissions will continue rising, and I have a good laugh at their expense.

Jan 6, 2015 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Still more of
what Lysenko Spawned

Jan 6, 2015 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Sadly Lew papers rubbish ability to carry out honest research has in no way held back his career in the past , and in climate 'science' he has found a home where this is actually rewarded. So why should he make any changes.

Jan 6, 2015 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Lysenko was in the forefront of my mind also. Can you imagine being a student in Lewandowsky's class or, potentially even worse, Oreskes'?

Jan 6, 2015 at 8:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie1815

That's a great anagram!

Jan 6, 2015 at 8:10 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

It has be shown, close to categorical proof, that Lewandowsky data for this LOG'13 paper is critically flawed. The authors claim about their own data is a sham.

Lewandowsky et al: Surveying Peter to report on Paul

Jan 6, 2015 at 8:48 PM | Registered Commentershub

For anything even marginally related to climate and climatology, the only sensible starting point is to adopt a Paxmanesque approach and ask oneself:

'What is this lying bastard lying to me about this time?'

Maybe a few good ones will be unfairly tarnished, but I haven't seen many of them in much of a hurry to denounce their 'colleagues' for clear misconduct. That's just the price they pay for their collegiate silence.

As we say in the real world 'shit happens'.

Jan 6, 2015 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

It is not often this retired engineer ventures to the coal face to look at data referred to on this blog but I did look at the Excel spreadsheet linked above and quickly came across the 35,757 year old. I have to say it made me laugh out loud. I can't believe that this glaring, obvious, monstrous mischief is sitting there in black and white and owned by a Royal Society medallist and faculty member of one of our more senior Universities. The world truly has gone mad. Open the cage!!!

Jan 6, 2015 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Hanwell

How anyone can view Lewandowski as anything other than a joke is beyond me.

I almost wish I could sign up for a course of his, just for the entertainment value.

Jan 6, 2015 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

[snipped by request]

Jan 6, 2015 at 9:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Wow... Usually "real Neanderthal" is just a figure of speech. But apparently Lewandowsky has found a real "real Neanderthal"!

Jan 6, 2015 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurt

If these are the Lew papers that pass peer review what are the ones that get rejected like?

Jan 6, 2015 at 9:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

I take that back.

Jan 6, 2015 at 9:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Let's not forget this other point blank refusal by the Vice Chancellor the University of Western Australia, to provide data for LOG12

the request for the data was for the stated purpose of submitting a comment to Psychological Science (which had been suggested to me as the thing to do, by the Chief Editor - Prof Erich Eich)

From: Paul Johnson
Sent: Friday, March 28, 2014 8:08 AM
To: Barry Woods
Cc: Murray Maybery ; Kimberley Heitman
Subject: request for access to data

Mr B. Woods

Dear Mr Woods,

I refer to your emails of the 11th and 25th March directed to Professor Maybery, which repeat a request you made by email dated the 5th September 2013 to Professor Lewandowsky (copied to numerous recipients) in which you request access to Professor Lewandowsky’s data for the purpose of submitting a comment to the Journal of Psychological Science.

It is not the University’s practice to accede to such requests.

Yours faithfully,
Professor Paul Johnson,


yes - I was surprised he put that in writing..

Disappointing for me? (yes)

Devastating for the credibility of the University, journal and the field of psychology?

I leave Lewandowsky et al out of that list as it appears that they cant help themselves (activists) but the academy should protect it's own credibility?

My request, that prompted this response is here:

Jan 6, 2015 at 9:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

From the earlier and similar survey- LOG12 paper - Lewandowsky et al (Psychological science)

"An additional 161 responses were eliminated because the respondent’s age was implausible (< 10 or > 95 years old), values for the consensus items were outside the range of the rating scale, or responses were incomplete. This left 1,145 complete records for analysis."


thus, in the flagship journal of the APS 9psychological Science) , it seems that 11-17 yr olds are both plausible and appropriate.....

how many of the tiny number of respondents that believed in the conspiracy theories, were minors?

don't know, Lewandowsky et al, UWA, APS, Psychological Science will not release the data
(if they've lost it, well that is just as bad)

Jan 6, 2015 at 9:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Is Lewandowsky intending to offer Michael Mann access, to the 32, 757 year old neanderthal, so he can provide witness evidence in court, that the climate has warmed since his chilhood in the ice age?

Jan 6, 2015 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie


I very much doubt that Lew has ever felt the pain of rejection, that is reserved for people who buck the consensus. On message papers are fast tracked through the pal review process, especially if there is an IPCC deadline approaching.

Jan 6, 2015 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

Lew's up to his old trick of implying that those who support "free markets" reject "science".
I have put the average "Free-Market" response into average score bands (1= strong reject, 5= strong accept) and compared to the average score for the statement "smoking causes lung cancer".

FM band/causesmoking/No.
1 / 4.62 / 21
2 / 4.45 / 163
3 / 4.32 / 665
4 / 4.38 / 131
5 / 4.43 / 21
Tot / 4.36 / 1001

Like in a previous 2013 PLOS ONE survey, every group of political beliefs on average strongly supports the science, but those who are least sure are those who have the weakest political beliefs.

The abstract also says

Conversely, opposition to genetically-modified (GM) foods and vaccinations is often ascribed to the political Left although reliable data are lacking.

There is evidence from the questionnaire that those of the left being more likely to reject the science on GM foods, but not on vaccines.

FM band/AveGM/AveVaccine/No
1 / 2.63 / 4.06 / 21
2 / 2.74 / 3.89 / 163
3 / 2.88 / 3.60 / 665
4 / 2.81 / 3.85 / 131
5 / 3.00 / 3.99 / 21

It should also be noted that the "free-market" questions are somewhat value-laden. Two of the five are free-markets against environmental issues. Another is efficient free-market against "social justice".

Jan 6, 2015 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

Barry Wood's comments about the minimum age in the LOG12 paper being 10 and the point blank refusal of the point blank refusal by the Vice Chancellor the University of Western Australia, to release the data behind the paper. Unlike the PLOS-ONE paper, there was no information on age or gender. Given 161 responses had ages of <10 and >95, there were clearly a lot of scam responses. The scam responses let through may have been genuinely by children have a lark - or by adults wanting to falsely credit opponents with strange or extremists views.

Jan 6, 2015 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

When Duarte's states - "There are also seven minors, including a 5-year-old and two 14-year-olds" as 'participants', is it possible he is referring to the childish authors?

Jan 6, 2015 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterHot under the collar

DocBud TerryS, if Lew should ever feel the pain of rejection, it would prove (to him) his conspiracy theory was right.

Jan 6, 2015 at 10:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

MR 32757 "I remember when all this was ice fields as far as the eye could see. No fancy, smancy GM crops back then. Polar bears were ten a penny and the mamoth sales really sold mamoths."

Jan 6, 2015 at 10:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Where you quote, "fake data" in the first paragraph, Jose's post now shows "bad data" as in "A much more serious problem, however, is that there is bad data in the sample." However, his post still includes the other two uses of "fake data".

Jan 6, 2015 at 10:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDell Wilson

I wonder if psychologists in the future will use Lewandowsky's conspiracy psycho-social-babble papers as classic examples of projection?

Jan 6, 2015 at 10:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterHot under the collar

The excerpt above contains 35,757 and 32,757. José has corrected the former to now read 32,757 although he currently has one other instance of 35,757 in his post.

Jan 6, 2015 at 11:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

I, for one, appreciate the Lew circus and look forward to more of this superb publications. The man is a genius.

Jan 6, 2015 at 11:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

I tried some of that Lew paper ... it just smears the sh8 around.

Apologies in advance Your Eminence.

Jan 6, 2015 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

To be fair to Lew, at least he didn't name the participant this time around, although he left us enough clues to identifiy Stig , Barney and the Snargetts

Jan 6, 2015 at 11:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons always give dodgy answers. I usually try to avoid talking to them and take their opinions with a pinch of salt. I always think that if you have not adjusted to the modern world and are still stuck in your ice age/bronze age mentality you have no business even discussing most subjects.
That's just me...

Jan 6, 2015 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith L

Latimer Alder; 8:56

"As we say in the real world 'shit happens'."

This is a ridiculous statement - shit doesn't 'just happen.'

There is invariably an a$$hole in the immediate vicinity.

Jan 7, 2015 at 12:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterPolitical Junkie

Ah, the things Lysenko spawned..

Jan 7, 2015 at 12:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterMars Shmallow

The 32,757-year-old was me, and I do get a bit cranky when bothered by academics.
I am somewhat conservative as I prefer Auroch haunch roasted over a slow fire rather than toasted tofu on arugula.

Jan 7, 2015 at 2:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn F. Hultquist

[snipped response to earlier remark]

Jan 7, 2015 at 2:48 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

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