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« Diary dates, CCS edition | Main | "Should we celebrate CO2?" - Cartoon notes by Josh »
Friday
Oct162015

The man the Royal Society honoured not once but twice

There is a man that the Royal Society has chosen to honour not once but twice: first with a Wolfson Merit Award, and second with his own volume of their flagship journal. This post is about that man.

The man the Royal Society honoured not once but twice wrote a paper claiming that global warming sceptics believed that the moon landings were a hoax. This was despite the fact that his survey data had been collected at stridently anti-sceptic blogs. Worse,  his data showed precisely the opposite of what he claimed (and leaving aside that only ten of his 1145 respondents believed in the moon hoax anyway). Yes really - the man the Royal Society honoured not once but twice wrote a paper the title of which was completely, utterly and obviously refuted by his own data. This is a man who lied about the participants in his survey, the people who had given their time for scientific research.

Similarly, the man the Royal Society honoured not once but twice reported that endorsement of free markets predicts the rejection of other established scientific findings, such as the facts that HIV causes AIDS and that smoking causes lung cancer. This was despite the fact that his survey data showed that free market endorsers overwhelmingly supported both of these propositions.

 

The man the Royal Society honoured not once but twice performed his surveys under university ethical clearance he had obtained for a project about public understanding of statistical trends. After informing his university's ethics department of a "slight" change to the plans he proceeded with two completely different projects. His original ethical clearance was for anonymised surveys, but in one of the subsequent projects he purported to have identified "psychopathological characteristics" in named individuals. This despite the fact that this was a direct breach of relevant research policies. This is the man that the Royal Society has honoured not once but twice.

The man the Royal Society honoured not once but twice declared in the SI to his paper that a substantial body of global warming sceptics would have had access to the survey. This claim was based on analysis of the traffic at a website that he said was one of those that had hosted it. Subsequent analysis showed that the survey had never appeared there (a point confirmed here).

The man the Royal Society honoured not once but twice wrote another paper that claimed that those who reject scientific propositions "often" support conspiracy theories too. The correlation calculation with which he supported this claim of "often" was based on just 2 of his 1100 respondents. In the earlier paper the number had been 2 from 1145. The man the Royal Society honoured with his own volume of their flagship journal made claims based on sample sizes of two.

The man the Royal Society honoured not once but twice collected survey data from minors, without having ethical clearance to do so.

This then is the man the Royal Society honoured not once but twice.

Which leads us inexorably to this question. Does the Royal Society care nothing for its own reputation, or indeed for the reputation of science?

 

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Reader Comments (137)

Fellows should do something about the corruption at the top of the RS.

Oct 16, 2015 at 12:10 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Philip
I was just going to say- where are the complaints about these actions from the other RS fellows- they can't all be up to their ears in this disgraceful behaviour, can they?
Or is it, as Mr Messenger has just said, inertia? Or indolence? Or indifference?

Oct 16, 2015 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Messenger: Or is it ignorance of what is going on?

Oct 16, 2015 at 12:21 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The only response I have from Professor Lewandowsky when I questioned him about whether his survey was held at Skeptical Science (which the claim of a diverse audience, and 20% prevalence of sceptics depends on) survey is below.

I do not think anybody at the journal has ever directly asked him to prove his claim.
His response to me, is right up there with 'my dog ate my hoemework' and "I did it really, honest, but I lost it'

Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2012 11:00 AM
To: barry.woods
Subject: RE: Links to surverys – Skeptical Science – Guardian Article about you recent paper.

Hi Barry, the survey was done about 2 years ago, and I don’t have the link to SkS: I worked with John Cook directly at the time and he posted it (and I made a note of it), but I don’t have the actual URL to the survey dating back to the time when he posted it. I suspect he removed it when the survey was closed because then the link would have been dead.
Regards Steve
---------------------------------

Yet, The internet wayback archive shows that this is simply not true/possible

https://web.archive.org/web/20100905061442/http://www.skepticalscience.com/
https://web.archive.org/web/20100910195646/http://www.skepticalscience.com/
https://web.archive.org/web/20100917153809/http://skepticalscience.com/
https://web.archive.org/web/20100923190351/http://www.skepticalscience.com/
https://web.archive.org/web/20100930234758/http://www.skepticalscience.com/
https://web.archive.org/web/20100830081833/http://www.skepticalscience.com/

Tom Curtis confirmed this
http://bybrisbanewaters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/skeptical-science-and-lewandowsky-survey.html#more
http://climateaudit.org/2013/04/03/tom-curtis-writes/

Oct 16, 2015 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

You cannot under any circumstances undermine "the cause"

Oct 16, 2015 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

I seem to recall, possibly seen here, that several Fellows were unhappy about the RS stance on AGW & wanted it to be more uncertain at least. What has happened to them? Have they become part of the great "retired"? It will come to a stage when one will just not believe anything they say! "Heavier than air flying machines are impossible!", Lord Kelvin, President of the RS, 1895.

Oct 16, 2015 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

I think the RS as a credible scientific organisation has to be written off. Newton has to be spinning in his grave!!!

Oct 16, 2015 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterMoncurC

Does the Royal Society care nothing for its own reputation, or indeed for the reputation of science?


NO

Oct 16, 2015 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

I have looked into this individual's claims as well.
The hypothesis that belief in conspiracy theories predicts rejection of (climate) science is effectively falsified by the two surveys researching the matter. Instead, people with strong opinions in controversial area tend to have strong opinions in other controversial areas.
http://manicbeancounter.com/2014/04/10/conspiracist-ideation-falsified/

The hypothesis that Free-market ideation predicts rejection of (climate) science has little evidence. Much strong evidence is present for the correlation between extreme left-environmentalist views and belief in climate catastrophism.
http://manicbeancounter.com/2014/04/21/extreme-socialist-environmentalist-ideation-as-motivation-for-belief-in-climate-science/

Oct 16, 2015 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

Sad and shameful that such a post is necessary.

Respect and thanks to those taking the time and trouble to expose this appalling charade to the light.

As others have noted - "What say the Fellows?"

And - "What say the funders?"

http://www.wolfson.org.uk/

Oct 16, 2015 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

If only the man the Royal Society honoured not once but twice had asked this climate sceptic if he believed the Moon landings were fake...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wptn5RE2I-k

Oct 16, 2015 at 12:48 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

The Royal Society is hardly now the epitome of honesty + truth.

I doubt that many subscribing members of learned societies and professional bodies actually have the time or inclination to follow the politics of those that push themselves forwards as functionaries of these groups - inevitably driven by the intoxication of having influence and doing what they can get away with to promote personal agendas..

That the RS has a pretty handsome budget of public/taxpayer funds - which in turn gives the funders some say in the disposition of those funds ( in some cases the funders don't appear interested in what the money's spent on!) seems just wrong to me. They are essentially remote from real scrutiny and beyond effective challenges.

That they choose to import from the other side of the planet and handsomely reward a "psychologist" with a very dubious ethical and technical record who conveniently happens to revel in provoking their critics by deploying contrived and insulting rubbish tells its own story.

The dishonest and cowardly nabobs of the RS are hiding behind this clown because they have no appetite for honest debate and are determined that their conceit + status prevails - sod the evidence.

The RS will never be perfect but the present shameful antics are way, way outside what should be tolerated...

- top rant Bish.

Oct 16, 2015 at 12:51 PM | Registered Commentertomo

It's all just pure politics now, isn't it? I really shudder when I consider just how much long-term damage the whole global warming fiasco is doing to science. How many opportunities to advance human knowledge, and reduce human suffering, will go begging in the future because of the damage these idiots are doing?

A bit old now, but my take on Lewandowsky, Cook and their various published papers is here...
https://jonathanabbott99.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/a-conspiracy-unmasked/

Oct 16, 2015 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Abbott

Bish your frustration shows. This is because you're still spellbound by the old notion that the Royal Society be a reputable organisation.

Please get back in touch with reality. The RS has a long history of foolishness and it's always been a quaint group of people who mostly knew about their topic and could not be able to deal much with the rest of the world apart from with naivety and fashionable self aggrandisement.

Lew is the norm.

Oct 16, 2015 at 12:53 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

If you read hisLOG12/13 - NASA faked the Moon landing, therefore climate science is a hoax - paper it is clear that the authors were very concerned about the impact of climate sceptic blogs and their readers and their influence in the public sphere. But the survey, did not survey this group, it surveyed blogs and readers that hated climate sceptics, and then came to conclusions about ‘climate sceptics?!

From the paper:

“Accordingly, climate-“skeptic” blogs have become a major staging post for denial, although blogs are also used by supporters of climate science to disseminate scientific evidence. The influence of blogs should not be underestimated: For example, one skeptic blogger (Steven McIntyre of the “Climate Audit” blog, at climateaudit.org) has triggered several congressional investigations, and one anonymous proscience blogger (“Deep Climate”) uncovered a plagiarism scandal involving a report skeptical of climate change for Congress, which ultimately led to the retraction of a peer-reviewed article. Popular climate blogs can register upward of 700,000 monthly visitors, a self-selected audience that is by definition highly engaged in the increasingly polarized climate debate. Climate-blog denizens therefore present a highly relevant population for the study of variables underlying endorsement or rejection of the scientific consensus on climate. We surveyed blog denizens on (a) their views on climate science and a range of other scientific propositions; (b) two constructs that we hypothesized to be associated with rejection of science (endorsement of free-market ideology”

From the paper:

“Links were posted on eight blogs that have a pro-science stance but a diverse audience
(see the Supplemental Material for more on audience composition);
an additional five “skeptic” (or “skeptic”-leaning) blogs were approached, but none posted the link.”
Supplementary Material (the content analysis is undocumented, and has been requested, yet not supplied)
Prevalence of \skeptics" among blog visitors

All of the blogs that carried the link to the survey broadly endorsed the scientific
consensus on climate change (see Table S1). As evidenced by the comment streams,
however, their readership was broad and encompassed a wide range of view on climate
change.

To illustrate, a content analysis of 1067 comments from unique visitors to
www.skepticalscience.com, conducted by the proprietor [John Cook] of the blog, revealed that
around 20% (N = 222) held clearly \skeptical" views, with the remainder (N = 845)
endorsing the scientific consensus. At the time the research was conducted (September
2010), www.skepticalscience.com received 390,000 monthly visits.

Extrapolating from the content analysis of the comments, this translates into up to 78,000 visits from
\skeptics" at the time when the survey was open (although it cannot be ascertained how
many of the visitors actually saw the link.)

------------------------------
The claim of a broad readership with a wide range of views, is quite laughable for anyone that knows of these blogs.
Mr John Cook spelled this out in an interview with Yale Climate Connections in December 2010, just weeks after the survey was held.
http://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2010/12/skeptical-science-founder-john-cook/

“The kind of people who visit my site regularly are not the same people who look at the skeptic sites,” Cook said. As for skeptic sites that he sees as his competition, “the closest thing to mine in Australia” is joannenova.com.au, which he said gets about the same level of monthly traffic as his own site. He identified Anthony Watts’ WUWT site as a counterpart American skeptics blog, “though he gets an order of magnitude more traffic than my site gets.”

Pointing to climate change sites such as Tim Lambert’s Deltoid, Tamino’s Open Mind, and Michael Tobis’s Only In It For The Gold, Cook said that “all the climate bloggers, we all keep in pretty close touch. There’s a whole bunch of them.” – John Cook Yale December 2010

The group of blogs, the ‘whole bunch’ that keep in touch that Mr Cook refers to (Deltoid, Tamino, etc,) is the very group that opposes climate sceptic blogs that Professor Lewandowksy invited to participate in his survey, via their private Google group email. Professor Lewandowsky is also a contributor at Skeptical Science, was a member of the private moderators forum, and has even co-authored Skeptical Science publications with Mr John Cook. He has to be very aware that the blogs and readers of these that actually took the survey are not representative at all of the people that read climate sceptic blogs.

Please note this: “The kind of people who visit my site regularly are not the same people who look at the skeptic sites,” – John Cook – Yale interview December 2010

Yet, for Professor Lewandosky’s paper, John Cook duly provided his PhD supervisor with a content analysis (undocumented), of 20% prevalence of sceptics, and a broad readership with a wide range of views. Press release were made, resulting in headlines and photos like this:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2012/jul/27/climate-sceptics-conspiracy-theorists
Yet 99.7% of the survey participants rejected, the moon hoax conspiracy and climate change is a hoax.
Only 3 anonymous people agreed with that statement, and the comments under the surveyed blogs, indicated the ‘fun’ that was had with the conspiracy theories.

Oct 16, 2015 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

The News is that the official skeptics CSICOP have just made those serial deceivers fellows
"CSI goes downhill! Makes Cook, Lewandowsky, Oreskes, Mashey, fellows"

..for God's sake they are supposed to be ambassadors for skepticism yet they push dogma and suppression of free discussion.

It's CSICOP who have left the skeptic movement ..not us.

I searched for them discussing it openly, but nothing..just the story on their sister body's CFI Facebook page hardly any discussion on Twitter either. Climate dogmatism is killing the Old Science Skeptics movement the same way it killed the green movement.
- See how far Skeptical linquirer has fallen by looking at the Alarmist hype photos on the articles on their Facebook page

Oct 16, 2015 at 1:00 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

A timely and important post to highlight those markers of the top-down contempt within the Royal Society for its own ideals.

Oct 16, 2015 at 1:10 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Could it be that none of them knows Latin?

Oct 16, 2015 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterjferguson

Which is most alarming - that they know almost nothing about Lew's work, they know but don't care how bad it is or they know about it and think his methods are just fine?

Oct 16, 2015 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

What an excellent post!

One has to ask the Royal Society how it considers the Peer Review process. Based on this consistent pattern of evidence of using flawed data, the logical conclusion must be that the Royal Society considers Peer Review to be a bureaucratic obstacle to be overcome, rather than part of the scientific process itself.

Why the Royal Society should now be taking such a cavalier attitude is unclear, but they may be relying on the next King Charles for current Royal approval and consent. Such a relationship has historic precedence, though not necessarily of long term mutual benefit.

An element of mistake and failure in innovation is inevitable, but reliance on flawed data to prove flawed theories, will inevitably lead to failure. One has to question whether the Royal Society has supported and honoured flawed theories based on flawed data in other fields of science such as medicine, and whether the Royal Society has any standards of care and quality, that the public should trust.

Oct 16, 2015 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The Society of right royal bottom feeders, advocates and overt liars, Lewandowsky is a sham academic tailored - a perfect fit.

I am minded to posit, did the RS rot really set in circa 1997?

Namely, it was Bliar's Cultural Marxist psychos laying it on thick, a canker, the ZANU Labour poison which was super injected into all the offices of all public UK institutions. Their jackboots echoing from the goosestepping echelons of Common Purpose - remember what this is - they tramp all on the 'Long March'.

Vital in all of this societal engineering, thus did the RS have to be turned, about 1997, although the RS disease goes back, maybe as far as Thatcher and Crippen Tickell? Aye and Bliar's lot just furthered the process, of the demolition of scientific empiricism and probity in science, not forgetting torpedoing open and properly published methodology, peer review or should I call it 'pro peer prejudice'..........think UEA and that redoubt of dodgy climate shills - the CRU, albeit the CRU goes back to the times of cooking up prognostications related to the Ice Age - it's the way you tell 'em I suppose and nothing to do with science - was it ever?

Elevating that halfwit, a malignant charlatan, is very much par for a totally diminished institution - it might be pertinent to beg the question, are the RS so desperate for publicity? To wit, as they say, all publicity is good.............. even bad publicity..

Oct 16, 2015 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

For the first part of this post I thought you were talking about Ehrlich.

In fact, much of this could be said about ANYONE in the Climate Change scam...

Oct 16, 2015 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

You only have to go unto CIF , with care , to see how may many of the CAGW faithful are also 9/11 truthers , firmly believe 'Zionist ' and the USA are behind all the worlds ills and that some one is out to get them , to see that when it comes to conspiracy nuts 'Lew papers ' own side is far more likely place to find them than in CAGW sceptics.

So even if you set aside the many problems with his poor work , his claims simply do not pass the 'sniff test'

That the RS and Bristol Uni have chosen to prise sing for him, is to both their disgrace and to general amazement, is another issue . Although it is clear for some time that the head of the RS rejects it own motto, taks no bodies word for it , and much prefers another 'trust me I am a scientists' So a follow travel is also likely to receive a warm welcome no matter how badly they smell.

Oct 16, 2015 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

@lapogus:Whilst I would never, ever, condone violence........................Nice One, Buzz!

Oct 16, 2015 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Surely the only solution for the fellows of the Royal Society and also for Greenpeace, WWF, FOE etc is for members to set up new organisations and then migrate to 'The New Royal Society' and the World Wildlife Fund (as opposed to the World Wide Fund for nature). These new organisations make it clear that they are only funded by members and not government, EU, UN etc and they tell the truth.

Oct 16, 2015 at 2:21 PM | Registered CommenterDung

the 10 that "believed" in the moon hoax probably did say so, as a joke :)

I mean when a libtard website asks for my opinion I will NEVER tell them anything useful

Oct 16, 2015 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCO2

Didn't the Global Warming Policy Foundation force the Royal Society to re-issue its guidance on global warming following the embarrassing revelations about climate scientists manipulating 'science' following ClimateGate?

It seems some people in the Royal Society have some form of memory loss issue, concerning their previous errors and mistakes, which required them to instigate corrective measures.

Those that actually care about the Royal Society would no doubt appreciate some links if anyone has access?

Also, does Lewandowsky hold the honour of the Royal Society, and simultaneously, some form of record in terms of the most number of papers to have resulted in humiliation and/or 'retraction', in such a short time frame since ClimateGate? His Guardian Angel must be on some kind of productivity bonus scheme, to ensure such protection.

Oct 16, 2015 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Nuttiest in verba.

Oct 16, 2015 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Imagine the howls of protest if Bristol students treated Lewandowsky and his employers, the same way the rabble rousers incited hatred of Lomberg in Australia, simply because he did not respect the consensus view fabricated for the benefit of the Global Warming ruling elite, including Lewandowsky.

Oct 16, 2015 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Do they think that more Lew paper will clean up the mess?

Oct 16, 2015 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

The RS finds Lewandowsky's work appealing, not simply for the climate content, but for his elevation of the academy and scientific institutions. Lewandowsky doesn't feel that he is accountable to the objects of his study -- ordinary people -- and he does not feel he has to explain his work to them. For example:

Lew: "Science is debate, and I have been participating in this debate for 30 years. I therefore welcome any critique of my work that survives peer review or is cogent in other ways or addressed through proper channels."

It doesn't matter that anybody has the ability to pick apart Lew's work. On his view, only criticism from his peers in academia counts. Criticism from without the academy is 'bullying and intimidation', he says. So whereas the principle of academic freedom was protected on the understanding that research faced downward pressure from tyrants above, Lew inverts it. Now Lew claims that criticism from below -- from the public -- injures his independent inquiry. No matter that he has libelled people he has a political disagreement with, academics should be free from criticism from the hoi polloi, even when he has identified people, made claims about them, and given them no right to speak for themselves.

The problem, of course, is that the processes and institutions of peer-review -- the 'proper channels' -- are not open to the public. Even reading academic journals -- never mind writing them -- is beyond the means of most people. That's not to say it's impossible, but that if you want to read a journal article which is not open access, you have to find an academic library that will let you in to read (typically only your alma mater will let you do this, with exceptions in some cases, and the British Library). And the emphasis is on reading, not borrowing. You cannot take copies home with you. Whereas academics have institutional access to most journal articles, even from their homes, the public are locked out from the research *they* *paid* *for*. And try submitting an article to a journal without affiliation to an institution. It is unlikely to happen. It is *very* unlikely to happen, and the unpaid time you have spent would cost you as much as the fees for publishing, thanks to the almost feudal system of academic publishing. Every stage of the process, from grant-giving to gate-keeping, is heavily controlled, and intended to keep a status quo which has been centuries in the making. In this respect, academia now more resembles the scholasticism that was overthrown in the Enlightenment, in which scholars defended dogma.

Erstwhile RS president, Bob May, translated the RS's motto as 'respect the facts', whereas it had earlier been understood to mean 'on the word of no one'. Whereas scientific facts seemed to speak for themselves, now it was the custodians -- and guardians -- of the "facts" (factoids) that now spoke on their behalf. Facts were too much for the humble, lay mind to comprehend, on this logic. Concomitantly, the emphasis that the RS puts on scientific understanding is not a desire to create an educated, uplifted, knowledgeable society, but to create an obedient public. 'Respect the facts' is equivalent to 'respect this authority' -- the scientific academy has precisely inverted the ethic that its motto institutionalised. Even May's successor, Rees, worried about what would be unleashed by a knowledgeable public -- we might make bombs. Thus he predicted that 'bio-error or bioterror' would could the deaths of more than a million people in one event by 2020, and that the chances of the human race surviving this century are just 50/50. In other words, Rees doesn't seem to want a scientifically-informed public at all -- it's too dangerous, and even science must be regulated, kept locked away, lest terrorists get hold of the information it has unleashed.

Lew continues:

"Inspired by some philosophers of ethics, I consider the rejection of climate science to be at least morally negligent and sometimes actively immoral. There is a crucial distinction between skepticism, which expresses itself in the peer-reviewed literature, and active rejection of scientific facts, which expresses itself in other fora and which does not seek peer review. People are entitled to question everything in good faith, but I do not believe they are entitled to spread disinformation or intentionally mislead the public. Opinions have ethical consequences."

There is research. And there is the policing and engineering of public values. Lew, and the Royal Society seem confused about which one they are doing....

Lew: "To illustrate my position, Dr. Lawrence Torcello, a philosopher at the Rochester Institute of Technology, put it succinctly: '… Some issues are of such ethical magnitude that being on the correct side of history becomes a cipher of moral character for generations to come. Global warming is such an issue. History inevitably recognizes the moral astuteness of those loudly intolerant of ignorance and corruption. Those who offer polite hospitality to injustice must learn from history that they are complicit to the harms they enable'."

On Lew's view, and apparently on the RS's view, the 'rejection of climate science' is 'unethical'. As has been pointed out at length, however, those who Lew and the RS accuse of 'rejecting climate science' do no such thing. Rather than taking at face value the arguments of people who seem to him to be 'rejecting climate science' -- i.e. in the spirit of academic debate -- Lew has instead sought to probe the minds of his counterparts in both academia and the public, to see what might be motivating such a rejection. He has even hypothesised that climate scientists' minds are vulnerable to sceptics 'memes' (i.e. the 'pause'); thus in fact undermining scientific institutions such as the IPCC, which, he claims, has reproduced them. That is to say that on Lew's view even merely *considering* the alterative position -- i.e. investigating the pause -- is 'unethical'.

Do not be misled by the superficially scientific content of Lew's research, and of the RS's elevation of that work. The argument is political. This politics precedes the climate debate. Presidents of the Royal Society merely need to know that bad people criticise climate policy, and are free to ad-lib from there on in -- to invent conspiracy theories about 'well-funded denial-machines', and speculate about the motivations of anybody who criticises their naked political ambition. The RS's favoured research are not careful studies into the actual condition of the natural environment and our relation to it, or well-argued responses to criticism of the policies they have lobbied for. Instead, they are arguments, mostly post-hoc speculation, for a particular political order, which reorganises the relationship between the public and government, and which places academe in general -- and the scientific academy in particular -- well above the public's reach. They are, in short, grotesque reinventions of Plato's Philosopher Kings -- a long-standing tendency of the establishment to seek ways to protect itself from the masses, who claim to have the public's best interests at heart.

Lew would no doubt call this a conspiracy theory. But he wants it both ways: he wants the academy's production of truth to reign in decision-making processes and he wants to exclude any counter-position from the academy, and to ignore any argument from without it. He wants to be free to probe minds -- to make statements about people as individuals and as groups -- but he doesn't think those minds should be free to speak for themselves, much less even to be asked to account for themselves.

But is it a conspiracy? If anything is to be implied by the RS's credululity, it is that rather than being some kind of Machiavellian manoeuvring, what is going on is that a historically mediocre cohort has found itself at the helm of an extremely old institution, and cannot believe its luck. Brilliant minds do not need to flatter themselves by diminishing others. The RS will believe anything that flatters it.

Oct 16, 2015 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Athelstan
I think you're being a touch unfair to Thatcher in this instance.
She was one of the genuine scientists to reach the upper echelons of government in the UK since .... forever?
The fact that someone with her qualifications initially fell for Tickell's Tale tells you all you need to know about the plausibility of the whole scam and goes some way to explain its success.
No reputable scientist is going to start off by assuming anything other than that his/her co-workers, in disciplines which he/she may well not be familiar with, have done all the necessary due diligence before coming to a firm conclusion.
I'm sure some of them are still genuinely unable to believe otherwise.

Oct 16, 2015 at 4:11 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Surely what is needed is that a person(s) of a high profile would make a complaint to the Privy Council that the action of the Royal Society is disreputable and likely to be embarrassing to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Oct 16, 2015 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterNick

Does the Royal Society care nothing for its own reputation, or indeed for the reputation of science?
Based on what you have told us, obviously not, on both counts.

Oct 16, 2015 at 4:36 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

The above summary should be sent along with a complaint to the minister in charge of funding the RS.

Oct 16, 2015 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

As corrupted as the APS (ignored Koonan's committee of inquiry into CAGW, forcing him to resign the assignment and go the the WSJ op-ed) and the AGU (honoring Gleick). The incredible damage to formerly august scientific institutions is probably irreparable.

Oct 16, 2015 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

Lewandowsky put himself up on a dating site "mid 50s solvent male academic with good GSOH"

One of his jokes "in a bid to stop rising ocean levels, the government has implemented a new rule.
Children are no longer allowed to throw stones into the sea".

PS i lied about the good sense of humour

PPS and being an academic

Oct 16, 2015 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Charlie continues to prove the wisdom of Nullius in Carolo

Oct 16, 2015 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

With all this nonsense originating in our colleges and universities, isn't it about time we cut their funding by about half? Maybe the remaining funding would be devoted to REAL science.

Oct 16, 2015 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimB

Look on the bright side - maybe this is the last kick of a dying presidency! Nurse gets to leave his cock-eyed legacy to science and the world as presidents do.

Oct 16, 2015 at 5:54 PM | Registered CommentermikemUK

When at school my daughter (16yr) was asked to write about her experience of drugs, she said she started on cannabis at 11, soon converted to cocaine, but had been mainlining on heroin for the last 3 years. Jackass questions deserve jackass answers. Lewandowsky's "research" for this paper has no credibility at all.

Oct 16, 2015 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterBudgie

some of them not fast enough.

Oct 16, 2015 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Here is the top secret Lewandowsky/RS/BBC plan for the UK:

https://youtu.be/N9XXGhOM8z0?t=12m57s

Oct 16, 2015 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Lewandowsky is a con-artist and the RS Fellows, involved with his honours are gullible idiots.

Oct 16, 2015 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

Cheeer up, Budgie- she might have started chasing the Sky Dragon at 13, snorting Iron Sun at 16 , before moving on to the had stuff like, underwater volcanos and cosmic rays.

Perhaps you can wean her on to aromatherapy.

Oct 16, 2015 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

This is just like the American Physical Society and Steve Koonin of the APS, just reversed. Steve had the audacity to ask questions of both sides to the climate change debate. Sometime after asking those questions and prior to publishing an APS position statement, Koonin was kicked out of the loop. Clearly there are a lot of people in the climate change movement who are very good at placing gate keepers on both sides of the pond.

Oct 16, 2015 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean

Being a fellow of the Royal Society should be an enormous honour to any scientist. Short of a Nobel Prize there should be hardly anything greater. If the existing fellows, or scientists whose achievements put them in the running to become fellows, wish that position to remain an honour they should speak out now.

If only the existing fellows would read this blog!

Oct 16, 2015 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Wow, those guys at the Daily Onion have done their best parody yet.
I mean no serious institution devoted to science would ever confuse the work of Lewandowsky with "science". Much less "legitimate science". Or would they?

Oct 16, 2015 at 7:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Lewandowsky is an 800+ hour glider pilot with an experienced pilots ability to find academic funding updrafts, as he soars effortlessly between countries and institutions. Does anyone know his actual citizenship? http://websites.psychology.uwa.edu.au/labs/cogscience/

That the updrafts are fueled by Psych. Dept. "research" into how to cause updrafts is cause for alarm. The UWA School of Psychology's, Centre for the Study of Social Change, which, sounding more like the Propaganda Bureau,
"applies research findings to devise workable public policy solutions to current and emerging problems"
is directed by career politician and former President of the Australian Labor Party, now a Lewandowsky fellow Winthrop Professor. http://www.psychology.uwa.edu.au/research/social-change

His new Fellows at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, where "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" is the watchword, may want to review his recent research on wrongthought laundering. http://websites.psychology.uwa.edu.au/labs/cogscience/publications/MythDebunking_Oct-2012.pptx

Oct 16, 2015 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

" Lewandowsky is a con-artist and the RS Fellows, involved with his honours
are gullible idiots."

Who did honour him? .The only fellows I know from the 'climate' side are Brian Hoskins and Keith Shine and surely they wouldn't have anything to do with him. I'm not quite sure why Bristol University think so much of him.

Oct 16, 2015 at 8:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

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