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The Lewandowsky concoction

The Social Psychology of Morality, a forthcoming book from the Psychology Press, has a chapter on the interaction between "high moral purpose" and scientific integrity, and takes a brief look at the work of Stephan Lewandowsky, including this summary of the great man's work:

Understanding when people are and are not persuaded by science is an interesting and important area of research. But this curious case highlights the threat to scientific integrity that can stem from high moral missions. The notion that skeptics believed something so silly as the faking of the moon landing is yet another myth essentially concocted by the researchers.



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Reader Comments (80)

I often wonder why I had never heard of such a thing as the "faking of the moon landing" prior to the Lew paper.

Dec 11, 2015 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered Commentereyesonu

Good to see that not all psychologists are lackeys of the establishment and that they are concerned about the harm being done to scientific integrity by the noise from the trundling Bandwagon of Fear Over CO2.

Dec 11, 2015 at 3:10 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Well, not being a trick cyclist, but a humble Chartered Engineer, I have often thought how bonkers people are about CO2, & the mysterious powers it possesses, apparently, like being able to at one & the same time (to suit the argument) warm & cool the near surface atmospheric temperature!!! Jolly clever stuff!

Dec 11, 2015 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

I once worked with a a Moon Landing Denier, despite all the evidence such as the Lunar Ranging experiment and moon rocks he remained convinced it was faked. I suspect he'd be unconvinced by the photographic evidence of the last few years.

It would be a bit of a disappointment for the Clan McBain Society who own a piece of Tartan taken to the moon by Alan Bean

Dec 11, 2015 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I should have said that he was convinced about Global Warming (as it was then)

Dec 11, 2015 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

The Psychology Press is owned by Taylor & Francis.

Their Directors, and the Editor, are now, presumably, on a List....

Dec 11, 2015 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Any sane person could have told you that Lewandowsky's recent papers are made-up rubbish.

So 2 questions;

1) Why did a supposedly good University, like Bristol, hire him?
2) Why did the Royal Society, who really should know better, publish a whole "Theme issue" Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 2015; volume 373, issue 2055) edited by this academic charlatan?

Dec 11, 2015 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted


...I once worked with a a Moon Landing Denier,...

Did he not believe travel in space was possible at all, or did he just think the 1969 landings were faked?

I can imagine an arguable position that the Apollo 11 landing might have been faked in order to 'win the race with the Soviets', with the required evidence shipped up on a later flight. But it is hard to see where he thought all the Saturn 5s were going if he thought it was all a fake...

Dec 11, 2015 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Regarding moon landing hoaxers, I have a favorite from a past (brief) conversation trying to convince one. In the category of "how do you explain this", I asked how it is that thousands of amateur astronomers observed what is called the "trans-lunar injection burn" which was clear to anyone with even a basic telescope. And it happened 6 times.

The stock answer was that all those amateur astronomers were all "in on it". That's waaay more of a stretch than, for example, claiming the LRO photographs of Apollo landing sites were doctored.

Ironically, I believe people like Lewandowsky are exactly like Moon landing hoaxers. There is no skeptical argument that would ever convince him and anything reasonable could just be explained away (e.g. the pause).

Dec 11, 2015 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeC

I can imagine an arguable position that the Apollo 11 landing might have been faked in order to 'win the race with the Soviets',
Dec 11, 2015 at 3:40 PM | Dodgy Geezer

That is actually one of the best arguments. If the landings were faked, the Soviets would have spent extraordinary resources (and we're talking Cold War resources) to expose this.

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeC

That Lewandowsky got away with so much before people in his field started to call him out is symptomatic of the real problem in global-warming science: Most of the competent and honest individuals are probably just not even looking in detail at what the charlatans are saying. They have their own work to do and their own lives to lead.

If they are honourable themselves, then they probably make the working assumption that others are also honourable and competent too.

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Congratulations to Josh for confirming The Lewandowsky Hypothesis , witness many, many of the comments following.

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

The authors are from from Rutgers and Stanford, so more difficult to ignore than we are. They pick up on just one of the errors in one of the Lew papers. He's argued before that the emphasis on the moon landing item was just a bit of a joke to make a good title, and those who criticise it lack a sense of humour.

Criticism won't go further because, once you start digging, you find that much academic research in the behavioural sciences into people's beliefs and opinions uses methods which wouldn't be acceptable in market research. There's stuff in the peer reviewed literature that wouldn't be allowed in the Sun.

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:18 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

"That Lewandowsky got away with so much before people in his field started to call him out.."

It's a start. But he continues to enjoy relatively lucrative employment at the University of Bristol, and, as far as I'm aware, is still 'in' with the climate change hysteria brigade. So a way to go yet.

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

michael hart, at 4:07 PM. Well said.

But how can outstanding scientists be persuaded to take time out to study climate knowledge? It would need a sea change in politics, whereby instead of spending tens of billions in trying to bolster the flaky case for alarm over our CO2, a far more modest sum could be spent to reward, generously, competent scientists with a different objective. Theirs would be to push aside the Potemkin facades we have been presented with for decades, and give us a solid appraisal of where we stand. In an ideal world, the IPCC would have done that, but it was just a piece of scheming by fanatics such as the late Maurice Strong, and it unfolded just the way they wanted it to. The NIPCC reports have made a big effort in the right direction by seeking to develop and expound upon scientific results and ideas which run counter to the facade, but it seems they do not have adequate recognition, and virtually no resources, to break through to the policymakers.

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:46 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

I bet we are mostly men of a 'certain age' and white though! What do you reckon...the average age of the contributors of this blog are??

Dec 11, 2015 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn

look at Lew and his co-authors, white-males of certain age and privilege.

Dec 11, 2015 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

John, the IPCC reports contain some excellent science, it is the Summary for Policy Makers where it all breaks down. A lot of Pollys think they know what is in the main report when all they have done is scan ( or get a researcher to scan and bullet) the summary which bears little if any resemblance to the technical report.

Dec 11, 2015 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

Indeed Barry, similar story across all sectors.

Dec 11, 2015 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn

John Shade should be of better courage-- the NIPCC report has won the approbation of dozens ,

if not hundreds

of scientists under the age of 90 .

Dec 11, 2015 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Russell, there’s only a conspiracy if Dr Lew was paid to produce shoddy work. We think he’s just a natural at it. We think AGW is a conspiracy in the same way socialism and anti capitalism are conspiracies – idiots truly believe in them and act accordingly. However their belief doesn’t mean they’re right. Those who disagree with those beliefs have every right to object and don’t have to be displaying an abnormality to do so.

Dec 11, 2015 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Stephan Lewandowsky provides a useful service to the climate debate.

Anyone who isn't angered or embarrassed on reading the works of Stephan Lewandowsky is clearly a dangerous idiot. Such people would accept anything; no matter how fraudulent, no matter how offensive, no matter how harmful - they would accept it if it's on "the right side".

Stephan Lewandowsky is a fanaticometer.

Dec 11, 2015 at 5:55 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Stephan Lewandowsky is a fanaticometer.

Dec 11, 2015 at 5:55 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Indeed. There are several that come to mind: Mann's Hockey Stick, "97%", and Lewandowsky. All are red flags.
Readers will note that not even trolls like Russell make an attempt to defend Lewandowsky, but prefer the fallback position of attacking the critics.

Dec 11, 2015 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

What Lysenko spawned.

Dec 11, 2015 at 6:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

When I hear about Lewandowsky, I just can't help being reminded of the Monty Python Ann Elk theory:

Dec 11, 2015 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered Commentersamson

What makes Michael Hart think I'm not criticizing Lewandowsky along with his lawful prey ?

Doesn't he read the comments in RC ?

Dec 11, 2015 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

michael hart,
Mann's Hockey Stick was the centre piece of Al Gore's movie. If that's your introduction to the subject and you haven't looked into it much then it's quite understandable that you would believe that. It's a sign of disinterest. That's not fanaticism.

"97%" is widely reported and quoted by respectable authorities. If you only follow the mainstream media then it's quite understandable that you would believe that. It's a sign of lack of education. That's not fanaticism.

But Lewandowsky is only known by those who follow the debate closely. If you've been introduced to that kind of crazy then you are deep in the discussion (it's not a pleasant face on display for the casual bystanders). It's a sign of shamelessness. That is fanaticism.

Dec 11, 2015 at 6:26 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Doesn't he read the comments in RC ?

Dec 11, 2015 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

No, Russell, I don't. Why should I?
I used to go to such places, but they don't afford the same freedom of uncensored comment that Andrew Montford affords you here at Bishop Hill. You like to cite yourself elsewhere, when you have the freedom to say it here, if you wish.

Dec 11, 2015 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart


Dec 11, 2015 at 6:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

I work with health data, and you'd be surprised how many anti-vaxxers there are in my co-worker cohort. Scares the hell out of me, in some ways that a moon landing hoax believers doesn't.

BTW, believing in stupid things doesn't mean one is stupid, just gullible (there is a slight difference, perhaps). The best math(s) teacher I ever had would put aside time at the end of the year to tell us about Velikovsky.

The problem with conspiracy theorists is that they just don't know anything about numbers. They'll keep mentioning Watergate, for instance. Yet, that rather proves the opposite point, no? A half-dozen or so knew about the break and enter, a few more may have known a few more facts, a few more knew a bit more. Less than two dozen people, and it came unraveled in a few months.

A moon landing hoax would require hundreds to be in on it. A 9/11 hoax, probably more. Etc.

BTW, there are at least a dozen people who will tell you they were in on the JFK hit, some even claiming to pull the trigger. Yet nobody, other than Osama bin Laden has admitted to 9/11. Hmm...

Dec 11, 2015 at 6:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterCaligula Jones

Doesn't he read the comments in RC ?

Dec 11, 2015 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

No one in their right mind reads the comments at RC, except maybe the ones in their bore hole.

Dec 11, 2015 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

Michael, the bishop is a point of light in the authoritarian overcast that benights his cohort's echo chamber-- Watts resident censors are notorious, but It's a matter of whose infâme you want to écrasez


Dec 11, 2015 at 6:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

And yet it is curious that links acceptable to Reason don't work here .

Dec 11, 2015 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Regarding Lewandowsky,

1) His work related to climate change is so shoddy that I always figured it was only a matter of time before that observation came to be generally held.

2) As to why a university would hire him, I've read that his work on subjects prior to getting involved in the climate debate were not bad. Sort of akin to Peter Gleick, who is actually pretty good in his primary field of water issues. It seems like it wasn't until he got involved in climate change that he went off the rails.

I find both examples as evidence that climate change worrists are closer to being religious believers than scientists.

Dec 11, 2015 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

There are just so many bad Lewandowsky papers. He recently tried to tell the authors of 40 climate papers that they were mistaken and there was no pause. Even the Guardian's regular cheerleaders seem to recognise the bad smell.

To be honest, until Climate Science steps up and starts to call out stuff like this it's going to make Climate Science even more of a laughing stock than Psychology (how many papers were irreproducible?)

Dec 11, 2015 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterantman

Russell, you cited yourself at Real Climate. There is no honour in self-praise.

Saint Ferdinand of Englebeen has said that he stopped frequenting Real Climate because they were deleting his comments and criticisms. While I don't agree with everything Ferdinand says, he is knowledgeable, educated, polite, civil, helpful, and as others have alluded, has the patience of a saint.
I don't.

If Real Climate don't want questions from gentle people like him, then they have worse problems than the world ending in a CO2 fireball.

Fortunately, you are still able to articulate your support for Stephan Lewandowsky and his student John "97%" Cook here at Bishop Hill, should you choose to do so.

Dec 11, 2015 at 7:57 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

...and if you think that I'm going to click on a link to your attempt at a traffic-stealing-blog-by-passing-off, then you've got another think coming.

Dec 11, 2015 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

As recently demonstrated by GreenPeace beyond the shadow of a doubt, any doubt whatsoever, this book has been commissioned by BigOil and financed with dark money.

All details are publicly available at credible sites like Stoat, DeSmog, SkepticalScience, etc.

Dec 11, 2015 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterAila

The dumbest man to land on the moon

Does the moon really exist - Ali G ?

Dec 11, 2015 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

In years to come, the use of psychology to perpetrate dishonourable activities, may be known as doing a Lewandowsky.

For the time being, 'wwussell' will have to do ( but without the psychology)

Dec 11, 2015 at 11:43 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Credible sites like sceptical science?
Dark money?
Hahahahaha, thanks for the laugh dude

Dec 11, 2015 at 11:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

Often I get the sense that Aila is a cynical skeptic trying to pose as a really really daft CAGW-believer, writing comments that would be a caricature amalgam of all the stupidest attempts the CAGW-believers have ever tried. And of only those.

If so, I don't appreciate it.

Dec 12, 2015 at 12:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N

Aila, are those the same credible sites that give the impression that Lewandowsky is credible, because Lewandowsky said so, and even advises some sites what is credible?

This level of gullibility is unprecedented.

Dec 12, 2015 at 12:57 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The prominence that Lew and Cook have received shows has low climatology has gone. They completely turn science on its head. Normal science is about making conjectures about the real world that fail to be contradicted by the evidence. These conjectures stand or fail independently of who made them. Lewandology sees science through the beliefs of academic "scientists" about the world around them. So when the real world contradicts the "science" the data is adjusted to the beliefs. Lewandowsky did his bit to help eradicate the eradicate the recent warming cessation. But that means the "scientists" in physics, chemistry or psychology suddenly become experts on public policy choices, whereas academic specialists in those fields who are critical are falsely attacked. Roger Pielke Jnr. and Bjorn Lomborg are two prominent examples. As this chapter states, the believers end up being blinded to what the real world data tells them. Comparing the two Lewandowsky surveys together, for instance, shows that those with strong beliefs in climate science also have extreme left-environmentalist views. Compared with the American public, it is the proponents of climate mitigation rather than the opponents who are on the political margins.

Dec 12, 2015 at 1:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

Kevin Marshall, 97% of climate scientists know they will only keep their jobs if they keep saying they believe each other's fairy stories.

Dec 12, 2015 at 3:05 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Considering scenarios is important step in understanding issues, that's why Lew is tor alarmists.
"Skeptics are conspiracy Theorists" is a useful tool for alarmists, cos it puts people off from considering scenarios
It an error to fixate on a scenario where there is insufficient evidence, that is what happens in the case of genuine conspiracy.

In this case I raise a scenario whereby the Royal Society and University might have a black hole in their accounts and someone helps to fix that in return for a favour. Now brainwashed into thinking they have a just cause and that they are at war with a mass of oil funded denial they might say "yeh that favour is OK cos it helps our cause anyway". Furthermore Lew's work reinforces their own conspiracy belief.
- I do come across alarmists that tell me with a straight face "Of course we have to lie, this issue is too important and we at war with big oil"

BTW here is an alarmist's viewpoint about the Greenpeace sting against Happer

Dec 12, 2015 at 5:14 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

OK WUWT have opened up a large thread on this.
Where they reveal that
#1 Skeptic Jose Duarte is one of the authors
#2 Skeptic blogs have been given advanced access to the book.
... so it is hardly that mainstream psychology has officially come out against Lew

Dec 12, 2015 at 5:16 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Envy much? I submit reality as evidence.

Stephan Lewandowsky is the gold standard by which the scientific consensus is measured. That's a fact.

I dare you to prove me wrong. I d-a-r-e you.

Dec 12, 2015 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterAila

Sceptics have not been given an advance copy.. I read the Quillete article. Googled the symposium mentioned. And found the draft chapter on Professor Lee Jussim publications webpage.

Dec 12, 2015 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Is climatology alone in attracting and nurturing such a high proportion of voluble egotistical shysters?

Or is all of academe (with honourable exceptions known to us all) so infected?

Dec 12, 2015 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

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