Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Lewandowski strikes back  -- and misses

Poor old Lewandowski has been reduced to publishing his latest brain-fart in an "author pays" journal.  In the circumstances, even the loquacious Ben Pile (below) dismisses the effort with some brevity

Lewandowski's latest effort is purportedly a survey of critical reactions to his earlier paper but the various swingeing criticisms of it that I have put up on this blog (e.g. here) are not mentioned -- which is made particularly amusing by the fact that I seem to be the only fellow-psychologist to have given his paper a roasting.  I obviously located the skeletons in the cupboard far too accurately

UPDATE: Even an "author pays" journal has some shame. Lewandowski's second paper has now also been pulled -- on the grounds of deliberate misrepresentation -- JR

Readers will no doubt remember climate change psychologist, Stephan Lewandowsky and his attempt to connect climate change denial and scepticism to conspiracy theories.

Lewandowsky et al’s paper, ‘NASA faked the moon landing|Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science‘ was published on the author’s university web site, though it was presented as ‘in press’, shortly to be published by the Journal of Psychological Science. However, in spite of being ‘in press’, the article never made it to hard copy.

We might reasonably be allowed to speculate what the reasons for the paper not making it to print were. One reason may be that it was, as has been widely observed, utter BS. Even Lewandowsky’s own colleagues pointed out its many flaws in methodology, and its naked attempt to diminish Lewandowsky’s opposites in the climate debate — climate bloggers.

Lewandowsky has returned, apparently with an analysis of the reactions to his unpublished, non-peer-reviewed paper. And it is published, in an ‘open-access’ journal: 

"Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation"

Conspiracist ideation has been repeatedly implicated in the rejection of scientific propositions, although empirical evidence to date has been sparse. A recent study involving visitors to climate blogs found that conspiracist ideation was associated with the rejection of climate science and the rejection of other scientific propositions such as the link between lung cancer and smoking, and between HIV and AIDS (Lewandowsky, Oberauer, & Gignac, in press; LOG12 from here on). This article analyzes the response of the climate blogosphere to the publication of LOG12. We identify and trace the hypotheses that emerged in response to LOG12 and that questioned the validity of the paper’s conclusions. Using established criteria to identify conspiracist ideation, we show that many of the hypotheses exhibited conspiratorial content and counterfactual thinking. For example, whereas hypotheses were initially narrowly focused on LOG12, some ultimately grew in scope to include actors beyond the authors of LOG12, such as university executives, a media organization, and the Australian government. The overall pattern of the blogosphere’s response to LOG12 illustrates the possible role of conspiracist ideation in the rejection of science, although alternative scholarly interpretations may be advanced in the future

It’s all the more remarkable that the reaction to the first, unpublished paper (referred to in the new paper as ‘LOG12′) should be the subject of a second paper, published in a journal with arguably far less credibility. Indeed, there is not even a link to LOG12 in the new paper, other than the citation: 

Lewandowsky, S., Oberauer, K., & Gignac, G. E. (in press). NASA faked the moon landing|therefore (climate) science is a hoax: An anatomy of the motivated rejection of science. Psychological Science.

Still ‘in press’. Or is it? Perhaps the journal has decided, wisely, not to let themselves get dragged into Lewandowsky’s political war. Either way, readers of the new journal don’t get to see the substance of Lewandowsky’s earlier paper, nor the substantive criticisms of it — merely those which, on Lewandowsky et al’s view, demonstrate conspiracy theory ‘ideation’.

It’s a bit like comprehensively losing a football match 7-nil, but to only include in your retelling of the game one successful tackle. And that’s being generous to Lewandowsky. Because, not only does his new paper deny its readers a précis of his previous paper, he frames responses to it as ‘conspiracy ideation’, whereas in fact they were largely trying to establish exactly what it was he had done.

For instance, the new paper presents an unfolding story of sceptic’s reactions to the original paper:
“Skeptic” blogs not contacted (2). Initial attention of the blogosphere also focused on the method reported by LOG12, which stated: “Links were posted on 8 blogs (with a pro-science science stance but with a diverse audience); a further 5 `skeptic’ (or`skeptic’-leaning) blogs were approached but none posted the link.” Speculation immediately focused on the identity of the 5 “skeptic” bloggers. Within short order, 25 “skeptical” bloggers had come publicly forward ( to state that they had not been approached by the researchers. Of those 25 public declarations, 5 were by individuals who were invited to post links to the study by LOG12 in 2010. Two of these bloggers had engaged in correspondence with the research assistant for further clarification.

This apparent failure to locate the “skeptic” bloggers led to allegations of research misconduct by LOG12 in blog posts and comments. Those suspicions were sometimes asserted with considerably {sic} confidence; “Lew made up the `5 skeptical blogs’ bit. That much we know” ( One blog comment airing the suspicion that “skeptic” bloggers had not been contacted also provided the email address to which allegations of research misconduct could be directed at the host institution of LOG12′s first author. This comment was posted by an individual (SMcI; see Table 3) who had been contacted twice by the researchers’ assistant.

But self-evidently, it was the opacity of the first paper (LOG12) and its method that led to the bloggers’ speculation. Had Lewandowsky and his researchers been upfront about which blogs they had approached and when and by whom, there would have been no confusion. But on Lewandowsky’s view, speculation about his methodology counts as ‘conspiracy ideation’, which is to say that wondering out loud about whether or not Lewandowsky had done what he had claimed to have done betrays a similar mode of thought that convinces people that the CIA organised the assassination of JFK.

Blog comments, like blogs, vary in their quality. They can be breath-takingly bad, or conversely, knock you out with insight. But it would be impossible to claim that any ‘side’ of any debate on any subject had the monopoly on low quality conspiracy theories. Indeed, the conspiracy theorising by ‘warmists’ in the climate debate isn’t confined to the blogosphere. You may remember George’ Monbiot’s belief, published in The Guardian that oil interests pay for armies of sceptic drones to undermine his arguments. And respectability and scientific expertise is no barrier to bad ideas, either. The Royal Society itself published an argument in its guide to climate change that,

There are some individuals and organisations, some of which are funded by the US oil industry, that seek to undermine the science of climate change and the work of the IPCC. They appear motivated in their arguments by opposition to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, which seek urgent action to tackle climate change through a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions… Often all these individuals and organisations have in common is their opposition to the growing consensus of the scientific community that urgent action is required through a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. But the opponents are well-organised and well-funded…

I have little interest in parsing the 57 pages of the new paper, to get the measure of the remainder of what Lewandowsky believes are conspiracy theories. It seems sufficient to say that, whether or not the comments in question do betray a tendency of the authors towards conspiracy theorising, they were a response to a poorly-conceived research exercise which was transparently intended to frame the debate as one between science on the one hand, and idology/conspiracy theorists on the other. If the internet has a gutter, in which thrive conspiracy theories and pointless interminable flame wars between people who have little grasp on the real world, Lewandowsky’s work is amongst it.

But what is remarkable, however, is that seemingly academic research should have fallen to this level. Lewandowsky reduces academia to a silly blog comment war. He drags journals, and research organisations into this war, undermining the value of research in general and trust in it. The thrust of Lewandowsky’s paper is ‘I picked a fight on the Internet, and this is what people said about me’, which, of course, omits any criticism of his work that may enable him to develop a better argument.

And that’s the point. Lewandowsky’s research is intended to reduce the phenomenon of ‘scepticism’ and ‘denial’ without taking any notice of what sceptics say, except when it confirms to the stereotype Lewandowsky wants to demonstrate the existence of. No doubt that’s a ‘conspiracy theory’ on his view, but the truth is much simpler: either his mediocre talents aren’t sufficient for the critical self-reflection necessary to produce robust research, or an inflated ego precludes critical self-reflection.


British eco-homes DOUBLED our energy bills: Resident rocked by £1,600 charge after just six months

So much for "energy saving"

They were described as the ‘homes of the future’, with an eco-friendly design that would keep bills low.

The 45 super-insulated houses, built with £5.6million of public money, were even held up as a ‘model’ of environmentally-friendly construction.

But 18 months after the social housing complex in Bradford was completed, residents have complained of bills that are double what is normal and faulty equipment that was supposed to save them money.

Council bosses admit there is a ‘serious problem’ with energy use at the Pavilion Gardens site and promised to reimburse residents for excessive bills, blaming the original builder.

Resident Danny Hall, 27, a redundant sales adviser, his wife Jacqueline, 28, and their three children have had problems ‘from day one’.

‘The houses were supposedly the most energy efficient in Bradford,’ he said.  ‘We weren’t really told what expected bills would be but with solar panels, heat exhaust and all this fancy stuff you would expect it to be considerably lower than what we used to pay.’

Instead the family received a £1,600 bill after six months.  Energy bills were almost double what they paid at their previous home, he said.

When the family moved in, there was no water in the toilets because the water recycling system had not been activated.

When it was turned on, water ‘poured through the light fittings’.

The homes are equipped with an eco-heat exhaust pump that recycles warm air, solar panels, and rainwater-harvesting systems to cut water bills.

Twelve of the homes, supposedly built to the highest standards for sustainability, are heated by a communal biomass boiler.

Sunny Tanday, 23, a tenant who lives with wife Raquel, 23, and their two young children, said it was proving an expensive disaster.

He said: ‘We thought it was going to be our dream house. 'They are lovely houses on a nice street, but they are not what we expected them to be in terms of power-saving and being cheap to run.

‘We moved in here to be a family, but it’s just tearing us apart because the big bills are making us argue all the time. There are people in the street who already want to move out because it’s just too expensive.’

Mr Tanday said his electricity bills averaged £500 a quarter since December 2011.  The highest was £949 and he has had to borrow to cover the charges.

A spokesman for Bradford Council said: ‘We appreciate that it is a serious problem and we are working with residents, the building contractor, the energy company and our managing agents to find a solution.’


These corals would find global warming a snack

Hoagy and his friends screech about a 2 degree temperature rise killing off Australia's coral reefs.  In the Persian gulf, however an extra 8 degrees doesn't bother corals. And the Warmists below admit their confusion

We tend to associate coral reefs with tropical seas of around 28 degrees, where even slight warming can have devastating effects on corals. But in the Arabian/Persian Gulf, corals survive seawater temperatures of up to 36 degrees Celsius every summer, heat levels that would kill corals elsewhere.

In their study, the NOCS team worked closely with NYUAD researchers to select and characterise model corals from the Arabian/Persian Gulf, which will facilitate future molecular-scale investigations into why they can tolerate heat stress.

“We have established successful laboratory cultures of Gulf corals,” said Dr Jörg Wiedenmann, Head of the Coral Reef Laboratory and Senior Lecturer at University of Southampton Ocean and Earth Science, both of which are based at NOCS. “This will greatly accelerate the progress of unravelling the mechanisms that underlie their surprising heat resistance.”

Reefs are made up of many species of coral, each of which have a mutually beneficial, or “symbiotic”, relationship with algae living in their tissue. These algae supply vital nutrition to the host but are sensitive to environmental changes including increases in seawater temperature.

Even a temperature rise of just one degree Celsius can harm the symbiotic algae, which in turn can increase mortality in corals. The associated loss of symbiotic algae is known as “coral bleaching” because the white skeletons of the corals become visible through the tissue depleted from the algal pigments.

“In Gulf corals, both the coral host and the associated algal partners need to withstand the high seawater temperatures,” said Dr Wiedenmann who led the study.

But the scientists were surprised to discover that the algae in Gulf corals belong to a group not known for its thermal tolerance.

“We see that the algae are indeed special but in a way that we did not expect,” said Dr Wiedenmann. “The algae that we found in most of the corals in Abu Dhabi reefs were previously described as a ‘generalist strain’ that is usually not found in corals exposed to high levels of heat stress.”

“The system seems to be more complex than it is commonly thought but now we are in an excellent position to tackle these important questions.”

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has recently granted funding to Dr Wiedenmann and the Coral Reef Laboratory, so that the team can do just that. The researchers will build on their previous findings and use their model corals to investigate the molecular mechanisms that allow corals to thrive at extreme temperatures.


Polar bear population on the rise

Global hysteria ensued after former Vice President Al Gore posed a theory in his film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” that polar bears were on the edge of extinction. Soon after, reports of fish shortages, cross-breeding between species and even polar bear cannibalism added to the global-warming debate.

These reports piqued the interest of Zac Unger, who wanted to become “a hero of the environmental movement,” proving how man-made global warming is affecting the polar bear population. He packed up his wife and kids and headed for Churchill, Manitoba, an isolated piece of land on the Hudson Bay in northern Canada accessible only by train or plane.

“I was going to write this mournful elegy for the polar bears, at which point I’d be hailed as the next coming of John Muir and borne aloft on the shoulders of my environmental compatriots,” he told NPR.

However, the researcher came away with a much different story, which became the premise for his new book, “Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye.”

“I started realizing polar bears were not in as bad a shape as the conventional wisdom had led me to believe,” he told NPR.

“There are far more polar bears alive today than there were 40 years ago. … In 1973, there was a global hunting ban. So once hunting was dramatically reduced, the population exploded,” Mr. Unger said.

Currently, there are an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears worldwide, and that number has increased steadily in the past 40 years since Canada, Denmark, Greenland, Norway, the United States and the former U.S.S.R. signed the International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears in 1973.

A federal court threw out a government proposal last month that would have designated a 187,000-square mile area of Alaska as a critical habitat for polar bears, the Daily Caller reports. The court ruled that the plan went too far.


Duke of Edinburgh invites climate change heretic David Bellamy to Buckingham Palace

Prince Philip has invited David Bellamy, who was allegedly banned from the BBC because of his views on global warming, to give a lecture at Buckingham Palace.

David Bellamy described how the BBC 'froze him out' when he dismissed global warming as 'poppycock'

The Prince of Wales warned in March 2009 that there were “less than 100 months to act” to save the planet from irreversible damage due to climate change. His father is known to be more sceptical.

Now, the Duke of Edinburgh has invited Britain’s best-known global warming heretic to give a lecture at Buckingham Palace.
David Bellamy, who described last month how the BBC “froze him out” when he dismissed global warming as “poppycock”, is to give the inaugural David Bellamy Lecture at the Palace next month.
Prince Philip is holding the event as honorary fellow of the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management.


Christopher Booker comments on the views of Prince Philip:

When in 2009 I published a book called The Real Global Warming Disaster it provoked contrasting responses from two members of the royal family. Prince Charles, protesting that he was ‘bemused’ by my views on climate change, struck me off his Christmas card list, where I had been for 25 years since we became environmental allies back in the 1980s. I was, however, startled and delighted to have a long, thoughtful and sympathetic letter about the book from Prince Philip, whom I had met only once, and which, inter alia, led me to be far from surprised when he last year made headlines for having dismissed wind turbines as ‘absolutely useless’.

Back in the 1960s, now to my shame, I once wrote a far from kindly profile of Prince Philip in Private Eye. Over the decades since, like many others, I have come to have ever more admiration for him, not least since he represents those values of robust masculine common sense which in the post-war years when I grew up were taken for granted, but which in our public life are today little more than a memory.

Last year one newspaper marked his 90th birthday by publishing a list of his ‘notorious gaffes’. Since then I have met several people who, like me, went through that list ticking off every one of his supposedly embarrassing comments with a nod of amused approval. How fortunate we are to have had such a man at the centre of our national life for 65 years.


Leftists Plan to Reduce Global Warming by Lowering American Living Standards

Regular readers may remember last year when I shared some remarkably silly data from the “Happy Planet Index,” which supposedly showed the United States ranked below very poor nations such as Cuba, Albania, and Venezuela.

It turns out that nations got lower grades based on their energy consumption. And since energy usage is one of the key indicators of prosperity, that explains why the United States also trailed such global garden spots as Pakistan, Palestine, Iraq, Moldova, and Tajikistan.

Well, the authors of the Happy Planet Index are not the only ones who explicitly embrace stagnation and decline as a strategy to deal with so-called climate change. A leftist think tank in DC is now arguing that we should work less, which means we will produce less and consume less energy.

But that means we will earn less, and therefore consume less. In other words, they are openly asserting that we should all endure lower living standards.  Here are some excerpts from U.S. News and World Report.
Working fewer hours might help slow global warming, according to a new study released Monday by the Center for Economic Policy and Research. A worldwide switch to a “more European” work schedule…could prevent as much as half of the expected global temperature rise by 2100, according to the analysis, which used a 2012 study that found shorter work hours could be associated with lower carbon emissions. The Center for Economic Policy and Research is a liberal think tank based in Washington. “…lowering levels of consumption, holding everything else constant, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions,”

writes economist David Rosnick, author of the study.  Gee, maybe we should be like Haiti and Afghanistan, the nations that “won” the top two spots for smallest “ecological footprint” in the Happy Planet Index.

I am a big fan of wilderness and nature and I recognize that – unless we figure out a way to extend property rights to water and air – there is a role for government intervention.

But I’m nonetheless quite skeptical of professional environmentalists. Why? Well, here are a few reasons.

The environmentalist-driven war on high-quality light bulbs.
The environmentalist-driven rule against working toilets.
The environmentalist-driven prohibition against washing machines that actually clean.
This environmentalist-driven example of EPA thuggery.
The environmentalist-driven pointless recycling mandates.

This is what we get from the sane environmentalists. The nutty ones are even more bizarre:

The environmentalist accusation that you’re racist if you oppose their agenda.
The environmentalists who don’t believe in bathing,
The environmentalists who sterilize themselves to avoid carbon-producing children,
The environmentalists who produce/use hand-cranked vibrators to reduce their carbon footprint.
The environmentalist claim that climate change causes AIDS.

Then there’s the super-nutty category:

The environmentalists who choose death to lower their carbon footprints.

So perhaps global warming is a real concern, but I think you can understand why I don’t trust environmentalists to be in charge of the issue. Though Al Gore has lots of followers, so I guess that’s all that matters.




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


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