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Discussion > Grauniad: Are climate change sceptics likely to be conspiracy theorists?

Did you see what he did there? Conspiracy theorists don't believe in MMGW and so all sceptics must be conspiracy theorists and thereby classified as mentally ill.

Question: which one of the 3 statements below best describes your viewpoint? -

1) The moon landing was faked
2) 9/11 was set up by the US government*
3) The Grauniad isn't really a serious newspaper

For me it's 3) no question

* though the unprecedented(!) and spontaneous collapse of Building 7 and reports of finding one of the terrorists passports at the scene deserve some scepticism

Jul 29, 2012 at 7:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

It was brave of you to mention your scepticism about 9/11 at the end there. I’m old enough to remember the first Kennedy assassination. Serious questions about the crime and the investigation were aired at great length in serious newspapers. The horror of 9/11 prevented this from happening. The principle was established that some subjects were just too serious to be subjected to investigative journalism.

That is the real link between 9/11 and global warming, not the trivial and predictable fact that people who are sceptical about one thing are more likely to be sceptical of another.

Jul 29, 2012 at 8:49 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Nearly wet myself laughing when I found out the names if the 8 blogs surveyed were

They are ALL warmist/consensus blogs.....

Teaser. One of them was Tamino ;-) ;-)

So the exact opposite, 'conclusion' should be drawn


Poor old Adam Corner and the Guardian, they should really check his sources better.

Jul 29, 2012 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Any clue where the blogs used in the surveying is listed?

Jul 29, 2012 at 1:40 PM | Registered Commentershub

The moon landings could not have been faked because then they couldnt have discovered the Decepticon spaceship you dummies!

Jul 29, 2012 at 1:46 PM | Registered CommenterDung

The Landowsky article is so bad one doesn’t know where to begin. He says this:

Researchers in history and sociology frequently cite the “manufacture of doubt" by vested interests and political groups ....Oreskes and Conway documented that a small number of organizations and individuals have been instrumental in those contrarian activities ..
and follows up with this:
Another variable that has been associated with the rejection of science is conspiratorial thinking, or conspiracist ideation, defined here as the attempt to explain a significant political or social event as a secret plot by powerful individuals or organizations
So, according to Landowsky, WE are conspiracy theorists, while THEY are researchers who document how “a small number of organizations and individuals have been instrumental in ... contrarian activities”. I’ll try and summon up strength to read the rest, and to read the comments on the Corner article in the Graun. There’s still a day or so left for commenting there. I hope someone’s trying, though I‘d understand if they didn’t. Perhaps they’re trying to wear us down by making us lose the will to live?

Jul 29, 2012 at 3:01 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The on-line questionaire was posted between August and October 2010 on 8 blogs. I’ll try and follow up Barry’s research by searching likely candidates between those dates.

Of the 1377 responses to the Lewandowsky survey, (all from blogs with what the article calls a “pro-science science stance” [sic]) 71 were eliminated as coming from a duplicated IP number, and 161 responses “were eliminated because the respondent's age was implausible (< 10 or > 95) or values for the consensus items were outside the 0-100 range, or because responses were incomplete”. So 17% of respondents were manifestly p*ssing about. What proportion of the rest were doing the same, but entered a believable age (eg 10 or 95)? What proportion of the sample were “skeptics”? I can see no raw numbers in the paper at all. Does anyone know where the supplementary information can be had, or how to tease out some basic information from the tediously predictable (and predictably opaque to non-specialists) statistics? It would bes so easy for a small proportion of the Tamino (eg) faithful to filll in spoof answers. No conspiracy needed.
This article is so offensive, it really should be demolished.

Jul 29, 2012 at 7:33 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I asked the lead author.

another blog was John Cook's Skeptical Science. !!!!

You know the one that calls sceptics deniers and cranks!

Another one was.

Wait for it.


the hockey stick wielding super hero,defending Mann to the last.

All the blogs actually surveyed would described by most sceptics as 'alarmist' or hard core consensus.

Jul 29, 2012 at 7:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

ALL of the blogs... not a single blog 'surveyed' was a sceptical blog

another was Deltoid !!!

Jul 29, 2012 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Wooods

Lmfao. I hope the cornered guy from the Graun comes to visit and discovers the 'mentally ill' pulling him and his idiot article to pieces.

Jul 29, 2012 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

The lead author of the paper has had regular guest author articles at one on the 8 warmist/consensus blogs surveyed!!!

Jul 29, 2012 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

The Lewandowsky survey was put up at Tamino’s here:
Here are a few of the comments:

-I got as far as question 2. and decided not to continue.
-You missed the long series of questions about various conspiracy theories. Those were fun!

The survey leads leads to an ad. Not even any info on my IQ. But I know that I did really well.

I guess they’re trying to use those survey questions to identify the nuts haha…

Yeah, those conspiracy theory questions were pretty funny, but does anyone think that hardcore deniers are going to be fooled by such a transparent attempt to paint them as paranoids? Also, here are two words that, when put together, ought to make anyone critical of this research: “online” and “survey”.

Jul 29, 2012 at 11:14 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Paul Matthews listed all the blogs used in Lewandowsky’s survey in a comment at

I can’t find the link at Skeptical Science. Comments were minimal and uninteresting at most sites, except at
From which I extract the following:

It has the usual failing of such questionnaires, but stands a fair chance of demonstrating whether or not the instinctive classification of deniers is valid. The main weakness is not the design, however, it’s the administration. This online survey format is very insecure. I could easily script a bot to take it a hundred times or more with responses designed to skew the results.

I agree with Tony; at first, I thought the survey was bogus. Of course, I haven’t seen the thinking behind the survey so I cannot comment with much authority, but some of the questioned seem rather ill-posed. And why no 5-point Likert scale? The whole online survey format is also methodologically suspect.

I would have thought that inviting Deltoid readers to participate in a questionnaire of this sort is likely to produce statistically skewed results since it likely to encounter a preponderance of respondents who are “pro-science” rather than “skeptical of science”.

The survey is a tedious and transparent piece of agit-prop, designed, no doubt, at a UWA struggle meeting.

I think the “conspiracy theory” section is too heavy-handed to be useful. There’s no chance that people won’t figure out what the survey is looking for here, and everyone knows that “conspiracy theory!!” is pejorative. So I suspect that a lot of people who actually do think that climate scientists are rigging the data will hide their beliefs, even in an anonymous survey, because they’re worried that they’re going to be painted as conspiracy theorists. Maybe with good reason, maybe not.

Jul 30, 2012 at 11:44 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

still looking for Skeptical Science link and this one.

though SkS one will be more interesting as Lewandowsky writes thereand has co-authered a book debunking deniers !!

can anyone go hunting?

Jul 30, 2012 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Funny isn't it they're all ready to lap up Oreskes' fabrications about the Marshall Institute, and the conspiracy theorists would be on the skeptical side?

It's like with "denial", the alarmists deny history but the first thing they do is label "denier" everybody else.

ps sorry Geoff...I see you've already made the same point!

Jul 30, 2012 at 3:01 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

I’ve been trawling through John Cook’s private emails trying to find the invitation to take part in the Lewandowsky survey at Skeptical Science and I came upon this::

First up, I met with Steve Lewandowsky and some other cognitive scientists who are interested in the phenomenon of science blogging and how it's being used to educate and communicate science. In particular, they wanted to test the impact of blog comments on how people processed information. Did a blog post with all negative comments have a different impact on how people retain information compared to a blog post with all positive comments? So we sat down and designed an experiment to run on SkS to see if this has a discernible effect on blogs. Later I asked Steve, isn't there a risk that there is no effect and it will all be a big waste of time? He said this was the risk every time you planned an experiment. So will be interesting to see how this pans out.
Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it sounds to me as if Austalia’s top science blogger and the psychology professor are planning to make up comments on a thread...

omnologos: Don't apologise. I frequently make the same point over and over and over again...

Jul 30, 2012 at 3:42 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

It seems Skeptical Science did’t take part in the survey, because 2 June 2011 (6 months after the fieldwork) John Cook says:

What's interesting is Steve Lewandowsky has done some research showing there is a high correlation between conspiracy theorists and climate deniers. This is a theme that could be explored further.
The two conspirators seem to have carried out their plan to plant false comments on SkS threads, however. 30 July 2011 Cook says:
thanks for bringing up that research by Eckar (coauthored by Steve Lewandowsky who I'm doing the current SkS science blog experiment with).
Cook and Lewandowsky are a right couple of scallywags. Here’s Coook again (8 February 2012):
...Or even more interesting (although I might struggle to get ethics approval), let loose our denier bot on warmist blogs, let it respond to the science based arguments with denial and see what happens. I must be hanging around Steve Lewandowsky too much, he loves poking ants nests with a stick because that idea is very appealing to me.
And I know what you're thinking - I won't let loose a denier bot on the SkS comment threads without warning you all first :-)

Jul 30, 2012 at 5:09 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The article is now repeated at Talking Climate (there are some good comments from Ben PIle, Paul Matthews (v critical) and Alex Cull (mine took a bit of twitter prompting to pass moderation)

my lateset comment (pending mod) I think indicates that the readership of te blogs surveyed likely includes a very low number of sceptics. (as the survey was only ~1000 readers of 8 blogs, how did that break down referring urls, anyway - not very useful research)

Talking Climate Comment (currently pending):

When the Guardian art­icle was written, was the author aware of which blogs had been sur­veyed (listed in the 1st com­ment) it has been sug­gested these have a very low % scep­tical read­er­ship. (des­pite claims to a diverse readership)

one blog was men­tioned above, as having a number of neg­ative art­icle about Monkcton..
it is quite clear to any reader by those that are com­menting, that the scep­tical read­er­ship place of this blog (as the others) is min­imal, using one mon­ckton art­icle as an example, from the month before the survey.

ie the read­er­ship appear to be very much on the ‘strong con­sensus’ anti-sceptic’ side.
a real who’s who (amongst very many more)

Gavin Schmitt (Real Climate),
Raymond T. Pierrehumbert (Real Climate)
John Cook (Skeptical Sci)
Prof Scot Mandia, Mandia blog)
Ray Ladbury,
Tim Lambert (Deltoid),
William Connolley, (Realclimate, Stoat, wiki),
Josh Halpern (Rabbet Run blog)
A Corner (COIN, PIRC)
James Annan,
Tenney Naumer,
Michael Tobis,
Dana Nuccitelli (Skeptical Sci),
Anna Hayes (har­rased A Watts),

I’m abso­lutely NOT a fan of Monckton (Ben can testify to that ! ) but I merely think this shows that the read­er­ship of that blog, is very much a strong con­sensus one. (ie also includes the owners of three other blogs in the survey)

I’d never even heard of this blog!

Aug 3, 2012 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I think Corner's found a role model in Lewandowsky - pioneer of the "lunatic fringe activist masquerading as a publicly funded serious academic" genre.

For the record - I just posted this on Corner's site, which is "in moderation" at present:-

Visiting Barry Wood's links to the Climate Activist blogs Lewandowsky amusingly describes as "pro-science" (no bias there of course!) provides some interesting results.

It turns out that Lewandowsky himself is a regular contributor to some of these blogs - and a bit of a hero to their proprietors and contributors.

Here is one of his his articles in the rabidly activist Desmog Blog:-

Here he is getting a plug from his buddies at Tim Lambert's even more hysterical Deltoid blog:-

.... and best of all here is Desmog Blog hyping the "Debunking Handbook" co-authored by Lewandowsky and John Cook - ex-cartoonist proprietor of the (extremely unsceptical) Skeptical Science Blog:-

So when Adam says -

"Stephen Lewandowsky and his col­leagues at the University of Western Australia posted a link to an online ques­tion­naire on 8 climate-related blogs with a diverse read­er­ship, in order to cap­ture people’s views about eco­nomics, sci­ence and con­spiracy the­ories."

... the truth is -

"Stephan had a word with his collaborators & fan club at the climate activist blogs where he hangs out and authors - to see if they would agree with him that people who don't share their their mutual activist obsession are a bit weird".

I think it's what our US cousins would call - a bit of a circle jerk.

Science it definitely isn't.

I also put this on Twitter - as a reminder of Corner's rather tenuous relationship with truth in his public statements:-

Aug 3, 2012 at 10:45 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Dot Earth's comments are showing quite clearly how rampant conspiracy theorism is now among anti-frackers (a group usually coinciding with CAGWers and anti-GMO's)

Aug 3, 2012 at 10:53 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Adam Corner’s recent Guardian article on Lewandowsky’s research is now up at
with some perceptive comments - all from BH regulars. The tone and intellectual level is rather different from that of comments to the same article at the Guardian. Funny, that.
It’s amusing to see the government sponsored talkingclimate turned into a branch of Bishop Hill.

Aug 3, 2012 at 12:18 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Just posted on Corner's blog:-

Fascinating Geoff.

It seems more and more that a familiar pic­ture is emer­ging, of uni­ver­sity aca­demics who use their pub­licly funded roles to con­duct appar­ently impar­tial sci­entific “research” on various aspects of the cli­mate debate — while con­cealing par­allel roles as polit­ical act­iv­ists on one side of the argument.

On that sub­ject, I appre­ciate that Adam Corner has been very fair and open in allowing so many crit­ical com­ments here and I think it would be very useful for him to make a clear state­ment on an aspect of his per­sonal pos­i­tion which has caused a lot of concern.

At the Policy Exchange “Communicating Climate Change on the Right” Symposium on May 1st this year, Adam addressed a group including senior par­lia­ment­arians and the chairman of an HOC com­mittee, pre­fa­cing his state­ment with the words “I am a researcher not a campaigner”.

Many of us on this side of the argu­ment are quite aware of Adam’s activ­ities as a par­ti­cipant in cli­mate act­ivist street demon­stra­tions, a one time Green Party pro­spective par­lia­mentary can­didate and a dir­ector and adviser of sev­eral cli­mate cam­paigning groups including COIN and PIRC.

On the face of it, Adam would appear to have told a direct untruth and mis­rep­res­ented him­self to an important group of decision makers and I think, if we are to con­tinue con­structive dia­logue here between the opposing sides of the cli­mate debate, he should explain his position.
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Aug 3, 2012 at 12:50 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Aug 3, 2012 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I see talkingclimate let your “circlejerk” comment through, but the one above is in moderation.

On the face of it, Adam would appear to have told a direct untruth and misrepresented himself to an important group of decision makers and I think, if we are to continue constructive dialogue here between the opposing sides of the climate debate, he should explain his position.
Maybe he should, maybe he shouldn’t. Maybe he’ll just say “Why should I talk to you?” and ban you, which would be a pity.
Compare what we’ve got at talkingclimate with what happened on the thread to the same article at the Graun. Intelligent, reasoned criticism from some of the finest minds at BH (ok, not “some of”). No trolls. It’s a New Found Land. Do we try and parley with the natives or massacre them?
I appreciate your “They don’t like it up ‘em” attitude, but there’s a time and a place. When I’m invited to tea by a rich maiden aunt, I adopt my best manners and don’t ask about the source of her private income.

Aug 3, 2012 at 2:48 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I hereby confirm Adam's beliefs by stating that Damascene turnarounds by psychology students are very, very, VERY suspicious and most likely a front for future "gotcha!" papers demonstrating what a bunch of idiots the skeptics are.

Aug 3, 2012 at 3:00 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos