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Royal Society: "Please give it up for the rogues"

In a move no doubt timed to coincide with the Paris climate conference, the Royal Society's Phil Trans A has decided to hand over a full issue to that pillar of scientific integrity Stefan Lewandowsky.

You can imagine the calibre of author that Lew has chosen to enlighten us. There's Naomi Oreskes. There's James Risbey of "let's just's make stuff up about climate sensitivity" fame. There's a guy from the Environmental Defense Fund. Quite the collection of rogues and an astonishing step for an allegedly scientific journal to take.

The willingness of academic institutions to stand behind wrongdoers is always a wonder to behold. Why do they do it?


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Reader Comments (43)

"Why do they do it?" Money.

Oct 14, 2015 at 10:05 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Why do they do it?
Money. Status. Kudos. Political influence. Arrogance.
Any other reason that comes into heads.

Oct 14, 2015 at 10:07 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Some clever tailors Lewandowsky and Pancost have sold the Royal Society a whole wardrobe of the finest clothes.....

Look how the intro ends...

"We know from uncertainty, with near certainty, that climate change is a problem that must be taken seriously."


Oct 14, 2015 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Why do they do it?

At least part of the answer has to be that due to the way Western academia has evolved - they cannot be effectively challenged. Not a perfect analogy but pre-Henry VIII monasteries come to mind.

Yesterday evening R4 ran a piece on (lack of) apprenticeships where an academic bureaucrat intoned that the solution was more money for more academic bureaucracy. I listened as I parked my car at the local university and spent a couple of hours in the expensively gilded cage which obviously seeks to cosset its inmates into another, separate reality to the rest of us....

As an aside - the sky-glow from over-lit sports fields can be seen from 10+ miles away.

Oct 14, 2015 at 10:19 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Why do they do it?

Where's all the money at?

Oct 14, 2015 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterRB

In one sense its a shame. that sense being that the Royal Society was an organisation of the highest standards that was completely behind the industrial revolution and helped usher in the greatest rise in human prosperity in the history of mankind. That sense.

On the other hand maybe it's only fitting that it is there at the destruction of the very thing it created. Topping and tailing the process, so to speak.

Newton, Hook, Wren etc will all go down in history as the creators of modern science.

Lewandowsky, Nurse and the current board will go down in history alongside Lysenko.

Immortal fame. Just not thte kind they imagined.

Oct 14, 2015 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Because to admit it now would be to destroy science forever. They're in too deep. We need to wait for a generation of scientists to retire and die off before the good ship science can recover from this bout of insane millennarianism.

Oct 14, 2015 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

So the Royal Society went full retard.

Oct 14, 2015 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

Why do they do it?

In this case it is because they are rather scared that the Paris jamboree will be a complete failure and the gravy train will hit the buffers hard and then what will they do especially if the common people turn against them.

Oct 14, 2015 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterivan

This brought Sir James Frazer to mind, so I went and checked the last few pages of the 1922 abridged version of The Golden Bough:

In the last analysis magic, religion, and science are nothing but theories of thought; and as science has supplanted its predecessors, so it may hereafter be itself superseded by some more perfect hypothesis, perhaps by some totally different way of looking at the phenomena - of registering the shadows on the screen - of which we in this generation can form no idea. The advance of knowledge is an infinite progression towards a goal that for ever recedes.

What might be the shape of this new hypothesis, the fourth wave of thought, post science? And will we get there, given that so many scientists now seem preoccupied with advancing beliefs, rather than knowledge?

Oct 14, 2015 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterOld Forge

Environmental Defense are represented on the board of the Grantham Institute, by Fred Krupp, the President of the Environmental Defense Fund, US, which receives funding from Grantham. Another board member receiving funding from Grantham is Carter Roberts of WWF-US.
Oh yes, Sir Paul Nurse is on there, as is Sir Keith Onions and Lord Rees, plus quite a few that happen to have good reason for promoting global "carbon" trading. We mustn't of course, forget the climate adviser to the Pope.

The aim of Paris, apart from garnering $100 billion per year from developed nations, is a global "carbon" price to underpin this virtual commodity market. Read about the mechanics of "carbon" trading here, by a company that is involved in insuring against its failures, the author waxes quite lyrically about the subject. Part 2 is linked in the article.

Oct 14, 2015 at 11:15 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

Money is the root of all evil - and these people have it in spades.

Oct 14, 2015 at 11:26 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Will the actual fellows of the Royal Society have anything to say about it?

Any of them care to comment here?

Oct 14, 2015 at 11:34 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Why do they do it? Because they can.

The Royal Society has demonstrated how a noble institution can be corrupted. The Metropolitan Police were described as being institutionally corrupt, and the definition includes reference to a lack of trust and confidence, from those they depend on for support.

Why should taxpayers support the Royal Society, when it insists on proving it is not worthy of trust?

Oct 14, 2015 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

A day of reckoning for the RS.

Any RS Fellow who stays silent whilst they promote the drivel of Lewandowsky hammers another nail into the coffin of "excellence in science its development and use for the benefit of humanity".

Mission and priorities

Our mission and priorities

The Society’s fundamental purpose, reflected in its founding Charters of the 1660s, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

The Society has played a part in some of the most fundamental, significant, and life-changing discoveries in scientific history and Royal Society scientists continue to make outstanding contributions to science in many research areas


Oct 14, 2015 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Why do they do it?

Because funding is in the political gift.

You have no idea what pressure is on academia and other state funded institutions...

Oddly the way to stop this malarkey is at the ballot box. Not through 'good science'...

And that means counter propaganda.

Oct 14, 2015 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterLeo Smith

why do they do it?

a good question because history will make them the dunces rev2 of course.

they probably chose fo the good life now and dont care about their legacy as they arent in fact scientists at al. a scientist, if you peek through the propaganda brushes cultivated around them for lefty institutional reasons, are mostly obsessively driven people who for some reason want to know and find oit something against all odds and foremost , against the consensus.

these are very insecure people.
comsensus people.

they would have no shred of a doubt that earth is the centre of the universe...

Oct 14, 2015 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCo2

From the archives...

Lewandowsky Doubles Down

Oct 14, 2015 at 1:10 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"Why do they do it?"

They are fascists.

Oct 14, 2015 at 1:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

Surely, the reputation of the once great RS must now be near rock-bottom?

By the way, it is Stephan Lewandowsky - no "f". Otherwise you can't make the anagram "What Lysenko spawned" from it. :)

Oct 14, 2015 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

The Decline and Fall of the Royal Society won't be as grand in scope, nor as interesting and enlightening, as Gibbon's work is, but I do think it is worth considerable effort by scholars.

Two positives from the handing over of an edition of Phil Trans A to such as Lewandowsky: one is that is by itself evidence of the decline, and second, that the contents, which are presumably carefully considered, and possibly even 'peer-reviewed', works by the participants in this sorry event will be clearly 'on the record' and available for critical study over the years to come as people strive to understand what on earth was happening to the Society.

Oct 14, 2015 at 2:06 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

"Why do they do it?"

A basic desire of human nature is to feel important. This is mostly ego feeding.

Oct 14, 2015 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterSlywolfe

As Nurse leaves the post of President of the RS in December, maybe this is his last ditch attempt to be remembered. Oh, I think he will be........for the decline and fall of the RS, as John Shade says above.

Oct 14, 2015 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

"How over confidence in the beliefs of psychological tricksters destroyed the Royal Society", will be a paper never peer reviewed by members of the Royal Society.

Oct 14, 2015 at 3:07 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Lewandowsky is a key figure in the climate change discussion in that he is a highly visible academic who has been showed to have knowingly lied in a scientific paper when he claimed that his survey had been posted at John Cook's SkepticalScience blog. Barry Woods and I have accused him of lying at a number of very visible outlets (Scientific American, the Conversation, Retraction Watch, Chris Mooney's – I've lost count) and Steve McIntyre publicised and supported our accusations in the article at Climate Audit linked by MartinA above.

It was always possible that the Royal Society and the Wellcome Foundation were unaware of the fact that he is a liar and a charlatan when they enticed him to Britain with a medal and a five figure sum. It is simply not possible that word has not got round since.

The usual way of dealing with dodgy members of academia (as in many professions) is to sideline them and politely ignore them until they fade away. This is not going to happen to Lewandowsky, apparently.

As long as the truth about this scientific scandal remains within the tiny closed world of climate scepticism, then nothing will happen. We need to stage a Marquess of Queensberry moment. But how?

Oct 14, 2015 at 3:41 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I have to ask , does the world really need yet more 'Lew paper ' it is hardly environmentally friendly is it?

Meanwhile let use hope that Lew and friends go OTT in this, and given their toxic mix of massive ego and contempt for others that is quite possible. For such a public display of their 'quality' can nothing but good for the very people they hate .

Has for the RS , they stepped of that pair a long time ago , like the MET office it will take a clear out of epic proportions to get rid of all the BS they have piled deep and high on their own doorstep, in the name of 'the cause'

Oct 14, 2015 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

See here, about RS

The Royal Society's motto 'Nullius in verba' is taken to mean 'take nobody's word for it'. It is an expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment.

facts and experiment – Do words no longer have meaning?

Oct 14, 2015 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn F. Hultquist

In the case of 60 Minutes and the fake Bush National Guard memos, it was the lesser team of 60 Minutes II that engaged in the fraud for which Dan Rather lost his job.

Here it is Phil Trans A, while the B team held up and forced the release of data from Briffa(with a part played by Bishop Hill).

Oct 14, 2015 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

geoffchambers, I am aware of your valiant efforts! Perhaps you could publish (here?) a list of his highly publicised papers and what the publishers susequently did about them following controversy?

I expect Lewandowsky has some unique knowledge about the perception of the words fraud, lie, dishonest, cheat etc, and their appropriate usage in a legal context, and he may want to rewrite anything you have written.

A nice factual summary would be a handy reference for his past and present and future employers, scientific journals, and of course those students having to endure his novel techniques in academia.

Is there some guidance on the number or nature of papers being withdrawn, before an author's credibility becomes risky by association alone?

Oct 14, 2015 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

to be fair WHATLYSENKOSPAWNED made a serious contribution to the field of progressive
statistics, with sophisticated methods allowing conclusions inferred from ZERO sized data sample subpopulations

Oct 14, 2015 at 5:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCO2

golf charlie
I've bored myself to death writing 30-odd articles on the Lewandowsky saga at

His “Recursive Fury” paper was retracted, and has since been republished in another journal as “Recurrent Fury”, using precisely the same data. I pointed out to the journal that this was contrary to their own ethical guidelines and got the normal brush off.

There's been a lot of backstage discussion between those involved in the retraction campaign as to how to proceed. A plan of action (code name: “Repulsive Ferret”) may yet emerge. Watch this space.

Oct 14, 2015 at 5:40 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Uncertainty as knowledge
Stephan Lewandowsky, Timothy Ballard, Richard D. Pancost
Published 12 October 2015

From the Abstract...

"This issue of Philosophical Transactions examines the relationship between scientific uncertainty about climate change and knowledge. Uncertainty is an inherent feature of the climate system. Considerable effort has therefore been devoted to understanding how to effectively respond to a changing, yet uncertain climate. Politicians and the public often appeal to uncertainty as an argument to delay mitigative action. We argue that the appropriate response to uncertainty is exactly the opposite: uncertainty provides an impetus to be concerned about climate change, because greater uncertainty increases the risks associated with climate change. We therefore suggest that uncertainty can be a source of actionable knowledge."

Anyone want to argue? Judith Curry's uncertainty monster becomes Lew's actionable knowledge.

Oct 14, 2015 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim

"By the way, it is Stephan Lewandowsky - no "f". Otherwise you can't make the anagram "What Lysenko spawned" from it. :)" --graphicconception

Quite so. I was about to point this out, myself. Thank you.

Oct 14, 2015 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

when Lew says in the abstract you quote from “...greater uncertainty increases the risks associated with climate change” he's not just saying that the less certain we are, the more care we should take (the precautionary principle). He actually believes that our lack of knowledge about the future increases the probability that something bad will happen, and that this is a mathematical fact, independent of anything in the real world. He wrote three articles purporting to demonstrate that it follows logically from the skewed fat-tailed shape of the graph of estimates of climate sensitivity that it's worse than we thought.

Is this the result of madness or simply a fail in his first year philosophy course? We shall never know. Next year he'll be elected an FRS and the Royal Society will be part of history, along with flared trousers and the Carry On films.

Oct 14, 2015 at 8:16 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The willingness of academic institutions to stand behind wrongdoers is always a wonder to behold. Why do they do it?

Thanks to "peer review" they are all in it together.

Oct 14, 2015 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Swift’s flying island Laputa is thought to be a satire on the Royal Society of his time: “… These people are under continual disquietudes, never enjoying a minutes peace of mind; and their disturbances proceed from causes which very little affect the rest of mortals …” and he “never met with such disagreeable companions”.

Oct 14, 2015 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

"Theme issue ‘Responding and adapting to climate change: uncertainty as knowledge’ compiled and edited by Stephan Lewandowsky, Timothy Ballard and Richard D. Pancost"

I looked at this, thought it was a joke, looked gain and thought it was madness.
Looked a third time and seriously considered slitting my wrists.

Oct 14, 2015 at 11:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Philip, its the love of money that is the root of evil. Money can be used for good or ill.

Oct 15, 2015 at 12:41 AM | Unregistered Commenternzrobin

The participation of elite academic institutions, organizations and journals on the warmist side has done a lot of harm. It makes the "consensus" seem larger and louder than it really is, and it probably helps to persuade journalists to give up checking statements for themselves; "the experts must know best." "Giving time to skeptics is like giving time to flat-earthers."

Why have many elite institutions gone wrong, and joined the equivalent of the evidence-free creationists? There must be some critical group of people trained in science who think it is more fun and rewarding to practice politics and journalism. To say the money is the motive is too simple. For the ones making money off warmist orthodoxy, the money is simply a confirmation of how right they are to keep dishing out their preferred mixture of truth, half-truth and, er, something else. When a group of people is moved in a certain way, some kind of idealism should never be discounted as a motive.

Oct 15, 2015 at 4:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterLloyd R

Corruption, high treason you name it...

Oct 15, 2015 at 5:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterTomRude

"Next year he'll be elected an FRS and the Royal Society will be part of history, along with flared trousers and the Carry On films."

Oct 14, 2015 at 8:16 PM geoffchambers

All to be laughed at, but not necessarily for the same reasons...

Oct 15, 2015 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

"Why have many elite institutions gone wrong, and joined the equivalent of the evidence-free creationists? There must be some critical group of people trained in science who think it is more fun and rewarding to practice politics and journalism. To say the money is the motive is too simple."

Firstly, I don't believe those "elite institutions" are all that elite, any more. That's sort-of why they fervently insist that they are still "elite", with all that peer-review codswallop. Secondly, why do you divorce politics and journalism, on the one hand, from money? Why do you imagine that those don't go together? A few people made a lot of money out of Solyndra, for instance, even if most of the suckers took a bath.

Oct 15, 2015 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

Time for a latter-day Thomas Cromwell, a visitation and a dissolution of the (tax-funded) universities.

Oct 15, 2015 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoseph Sydney

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