Cognition

War or Peace? Psychology's Contribution

Posted on 17 October 2013 by Stephan Lewandowsky

Human beings have been fighting each other in organized warfare since time immemorial. The 20th Century has often been characterized as one of the bloodiest ever. Does this mean that war is inevitable? Will human beings continue to slaughter each other on a large scale?

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FAQs for PLoS1 paper by Lewandowsky, Gignac, and Oberauer

Posted on 2 October 2013 by Stephan Lewandowsky

This post contains FAQs and answers to the paper by Lewandowsky, Gignac, and Oberauer that was published in PLOS ONE in 2013, entitled The Role of Conspiracist Ideation and Worldviews in Predicting Rejection of Science.

The abstract of the paper is reproduced below, and because PLOS ONE is an open access journal the paper itself can be accessed here:

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The scientific consensus on climate change: Still pivotal and more pervasive than ever

Posted on 16 May 2013 by Stephan Lewandowsky

Science is debate. It’s a debate that takes place at conferences or in the peer-reviewed literature, and scientific debates contribute to the error-correction process that has served science and the public well for a century or more.

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Recursive Fury: Facts and misrepresentations

Posted on 22 March 2013 by John Cook

Our paper Recursive fury: conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation has been published. The paper analyzed the public discourse in response to an earlier article by Lewandowsky, Oberauer, and Gignac (LOG12 for short from here on), which has led to some discussion on this blog earlier.

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The involvement of conspiracist ideation in science denial

Posted on 5 February 2013 by Stephan Lewandowsky

There is growing evidence that conspiratorial thinking, also known as conspiracist ideation, is often involved in the rejection of scientific propositions. Conspiracist ideations tend to invoke alternative explanations for the nature or source of the scientific evidence. For example, among people who reject the link between HIV and AIDS, common ideations involve the beliefs that AIDS was created by the U.S. Government.

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Emotive Short-Circuitry vs. Deliberative Reasoning: The Australian vs. the ABC

Posted on 27 December 2012 by Stephan Lewandowsky

Updated 1/1/13

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The pivotal role of perceived scientific consensus

Posted on 29 October 2012 by Stephan Lewandowsky

The embargo on my latest paper on the cognition of climate change, published in Nature Climate Change, has now been lifted. The paper and abstract are available using the doi: 10.1038/10.1038/NCLIMATE1720.

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Inferential Statistics and Replications

Posted on 10 October 2012 by Stephan Lewandowsky

When you drop a glass it'll crash to the floor. Wherever you are on this planet, and whatever glass it is you were disposing of, gravity will ensure its swift demise. The replicability of phenomena is one of the hallmarks of science: once we understand a natural "law" we expect it to yield the same outcome in any situation in which it is applicable. (This outcome may have error bars associated with it but that doesn't affect our basic conclusion).

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A simple recipe for the manufacturing of doubt

Posted on 19 September 2012 by Klaus Oberauer

Mr. McIntyre, a self-declared expert in statistics, recently posted an ostensibly unsuccessful attempt to replicate several exploratory factor analyses in our study on the motivated rejection of (climate) science. His wordy post creates the appearance of potential problems with our analysis.

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Drilling into noise

Posted on 17 September 2012 by Stephan Lewandowsky

The science of statistics is all about differentiating signal from noise. This exercise is far from trivial: Although there is enough computing power in today's laptops to churn out very sophisticated analyses, it is easily overlooked that data analysis is also a cognitive activity.

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Climate denial a “warmist” hoax?

Posted on 13 September 2012 by Stephan Lewandowsky

Understanding people means to have a Theory of Mind. A model of other people’s thinking.

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Faking that NASA faked the moon landing

Posted on 12 September 2012 by Stephan Lewandowsky

Data integrity is a central issue in all research, and internet-based data collection poses a unique set of challenges. Much attention has been devoted to that issue and procedures have been developed to safeguard against abuse. There have been numerous demonstrations that internet platforms offers a reliable and replicable means of data collection, and the practice is now widely accepted.

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Bloggers' Hall of Amnesia

Posted on 10 September 2012 by Stephan Lewandowsky

The publication of my paper on conspiracist ideation was met with several nearly-instant accusations. First out of the gate was the claim that I did not contact 5 “skeptic” or “skeptic-leaning” blogs to link to the survey.

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An update on my birth certificates

Posted on 7 September 2012 by Stephan Lewandowsky

My inbox has become a kaleidoscopic staging post of human diversity. A few requests are noteworthy for tutorial reasons:

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Confirming the obvious

Posted on 6 September 2012 by Stephan Lewandowsky

The public response to my forthcoming paper in Psychological Science, entitled "NASA faked the moon landing—Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science," has provided a perfect real-life illustration of the very cognitive processes at the center of my research.

In fact, the cascading eruption of allegations and theories about the paper and myself have illustrated the impoverished epistemology of climate denial better than any mountain of data could have done.

It is helpful to analyze some of the theories that have sprung up in response to my paper.

First out of the gate was the accusation that I might not have contacted the 5 "skeptic" bloggers, none of whom posted links to my survey. Astute readers might wonder why I would mention this in the Method section, if I hadn't contacted anyone.

In an exercise more reminiscent of juvenile hyperventilation than adult cognitive control, several individuals jumped to the conclusion that I must be guilty of academic misconduct because no skeptic blogger could recall having been contacted by me. And of course, those bloggers know more about my research, or that in any other scientific discipline, than myself or any of my scientific colleagues.

This theory, alas, is now in terminal decline. First, one individual recovered his search skills after launching wild accusations against me and found that he had been contacted not once but twice.

Oops.

We now also know that two of the people who were contacted even replied to my assistant's query.

Oops. Oops.

Let's move on quickly. There must be another gourd somewhere.

And thus, as sure as night follows day, the second theory was born, arising like Phoenix from the ashes of the first one. The second theory revolves around the dates of certain events: It turns out that I gave a talk at Monash University in Melbourne, during which I alluded to these data briefly, after having done a very rough preliminary analysis. This event occurred a few days after Mr. McIntyre had been contacted with a request to post a link.

Oh how nefarious! I reported data only 3 days after contacting a blogger to collect data!

Never mind that the first theory claimed I never contacted anyone. That's sooooo 2011. Let's move on to the next conspiracy.

Only 3 days and I reported data from 1100 subjects. The travesty of it!

I wish this theory well, and I suspect much more analysis of dates, involving multi-colored Gantt charts, will be performed once the identity of the other 4 bloggers will (hopefully—I am working on it) have become public in the near future.

Reality-based readers may now note that it doesn't matter whether 3, 30, or 666 days elapsed between Mr McIntyre ignoring an email and me giving a talk about data gathered from other blogs.

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The Inescapable Implication of Uncertainty

Posted on 26 March 2012 by Stephan Lewandowsky

In a previous post, we saw that uncertainty is not your friend. In a nutshell, if there is uncertainty, things could be worse than anticipated as well as better.

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Uncertainty is not your Friend

Posted on 6 March 2012 by Stephan Lewandowsky

The Australian Future fund is tasked with delivering high risk-adjusted returns on public funds, such as the Australian Government’s budget surpluses, in order to cover the Government’s unfunded superannuation liability arising from entitlements to public servants and defence personnel.

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Debunking Handbook: update and feedback

Posted on 23 January 2012 by John Cook

When we published the Debunking Handbook, I have to admit, we completely underestimated the impact it would make. A few days after the launch, it suddenly went viral with over 150,000 downloads in a single day. This week, it just ticked over 400,000 downloads. We always planned that the Handbook would be useful not just for climate myths but for communicators having to deal with any type of misinformation. Nevertheless, it was surprising to see the Handbook featued on websites as diverse asRichard Dawkins and Silobreaker. A website devoted to debunking MLM myths saw it as "useful when debating with brainwashed members of MLM organizations". A Muslim forum speculated that it "Should be useful when engaging people who believe lies about Islam". Currently, several educators are looking to integrate it into their curriculum.

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The Debunking Handbook: now freely available for download

Posted on 27 November 2011 by John Cook

The Debunking Handbook, a guide to debunking misinformation, is now freely available to download. Although there is a great deal of psychological research on misinformation, there's no summary of the literature that offers practical guidelines on the most effective ways of reducing the influence of myths. The Debunking Handbook boils the research down into a short, simple summary, intended as a guide for communicators in all areas (not just climate) who encounter misinformation.



The Handbook explores the surprising fact that debunking myths can sometimes reinforce the myth in peoples' minds. Communicators need to be aware of the various backfire effects and how to avoid them, such as:

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The Debunking Handbook Part 4: The Worldview Backfire Effect

Posted on 23 November 2011 by John Cook

The Debunking Handbook is an upcoming guide to debunking myths, by John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky. Although there is a great deal of psychological research on misinformation, unfortunately there is no summary of the literature that offers practical guidelines on the most effective ways of reducing the influence of misinformation. This Handbook boils down the research into a short, simple summary, intended as a guide for communicators in all areas (not just climate) who encounter misinformation. The Handbook will be available as a free, downloadable PDF at the end of this 6-part blog series.

This post has been cross-posted at Skeptical Science

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The Debunking Handbook Part 3: The Overkill Backfire Effect

Posted on 20 November 2011 by John Cook

The Debunking Handbook is an upcoming guide to debunking myths, by John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky. Although there is a great deal of psychological research on misinformation, unfortunately there is no summary of the literature that offers practical guidelines on the most effective ways of reducing the influence of misinformation. This Handbook boils down the research into a short, simple summary, intended as a guide for communicators in all areas (not just climate) who encounter misinformation. The Handbook will be available as a free, downloadable PDF at the end of this 6-part blog series.

This post has been cross-posted at Skeptical Science

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The Debunking Handbook Part 2: The Familiarity Backfire Effect

Posted on 18 November 2011 by John Cook

The Debunking Handbook is an upcoming guide to debunking myths, by John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky. Although there is a great deal of psychological research on misinformation, unfortunately there is no summary of the literature that offers practical guidelines on the most effective ways of reducing the influence of misinformation. This Handbook boils down the research into a short, simple summary, intended as a guide for communicators in all areas (not just climate) who encounter misinformation. The Handbook will be available as a free, downloadable PDF at the end of this 6-part blog series.

This post has been cross-posted at Skeptical Science

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The Debunking Handbook Part 1: The first myth about debunking

Posted on 16 November 2011 by John Cook

The Debunking Handbook is an upcoming guide to debunking myths, by John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky. Although there is a great deal of psychological research on misinformation, unfortunately there is no summary of the literature that offers practical guidelines on the most effective ways of reducing the influence of misinformation. This Handbook boils down the research into a short, simple summary, intended as a guide for communicators in all areas (not just climate) who encounter misinformation. The Handbook will be available as a free, downloadable PDF at the end of this 6-part blog series.

This has been cross-posted at Skeptical Science.

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Reducing Electricity Use in Households (and Businesses)

Posted on 20 July 2011 by Carmen Lawrence

Well before the recent fuss about increases in energy prices, the reduction of electricity use by households and businesses had already been identified as an important national policy goal, with benefits for the climate, the electricity supply sector, business costs and household budgets. However, despite increasing costs to both users and producers and warnings about the impacts of climate change, consumption of electricity continues to rise and is predicted to continue rising over the coming decades. This increased demand, and the need to shift away from fossil fuel sources, is driving costly investment in the electricity generation and distribution networks, further increasing the cost of power. These higher electricity prices, in turn, are causing heightened community sensitivity to price, and problems for some household budgets, particularly those of low income earners (although as a proportion of household budgets, power costs are not rising). While the probable effects on prices of the introduction of a price on carbon are being wildly exaggerated by the tabloid press and political opportunists (and the compensation overlooked), it is clear that helping households and businesses cut their electricity consumption would assist in reducing the impact of rising prices. And by all accounts, there is plenty of room to move without compromising current standards of convenience and comfort.

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Experiencing Climate Change

Posted on 18 July 2011 by Ben Newell

Examples in the media of regular beachgoers who see no evidence for sea-level rise, farmers trusting long-term experience over Bureau of Meteorology forecasting, and Antarctic sea-captains whose memories of pack-ice from years past conflict with reported trends in ice-contraction, all provide grist to the mill for those who are skeptical about the scientific basis of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

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Climate Change and Scientific Debate - The Messenger Matters

Posted on 4 July 2011 by John Gregg

What a week it’s been for the climate debate in Australia. The furore surrounding Christopher Monckton’s visit, the letter signed by 50 academics calling for a cancellation of his speaking engagements, the ensuing backlash against those petitioners by readers of The West Australian and of course Tony Abbott’s very public swipe at the calibre of our leading economists.

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What rising inequality and materialism does to us

Posted on 30 June 2011 by Carmen Lawrence

The emphasis on growth as the pre-eminent social goal has seen rises in inequality within societies. In developed economies, the degree of income inequality has been shown to be associated with a wide variety of health and social problems, including reduced trust and civic engagement, which may themselves reduce overall well-being.  One of the consequences of the tendency for people to assess their position relative to others – rather than in absolute terms - is that high levels of inequality in wealth and income are likely to produce greater levels of unhappiness. More people see themselves as losing out, even when they are well off. While there is continuing debate about the exact nature of the relationship, a recent study (Verme, 2011) which investigated a very large global sample found that income inequality has “a negative and significant effect on life satisfaction” and that the result “persists across different income groups and across different types of countries” (p 111). Wilkinson and Pickett (2010) argue that such ill effects of income inequality are not the result of income differences per se but rather are a consequence of social stratification and the associated “social evaluative stress” people experience.

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Communicating about Uncertainty in Climate Change, Part II

Posted on 22 June 2011 by Michael Smithson

(This is a two-part post on communicating about probability and uncertainty in climate change. Read Part I.)

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Communicating about Uncertainty in Climate Change, Part I

Posted on 31 May 2011 by Michael Smithson

(This is a two-part post on communicating about probability and uncertainty in climate change. Read Part II.)

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Environmentalism: The Case for Radical Incrementalism

Posted on 8 May 2011 by Stephan Lewandowsky

Clive Hamilton makes a strong case in favour of a radical environmentalism. Citing the suffragettes and the U.S. civil rights movement as precedent, he proposes a similar radicalism as the way forward for the environmentalist movement, and in particular for stimulating long overdue action on climate change.

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Economic Growth and Human Wellbeing (Part III)

Posted on 5 May 2011 by Carmen Lawrence

(This post is the final post of a three-part series. See Part 1: Introduction and Part 2: Revisiting Limits to Growth.)

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Economic Growth and Human Wellbeing (Part II)

Posted on 3 May 2011 by Carmen Lawrence

(This post is the second of a three-part series. See Part 1: Introduction and Part 3: The Psychological Down Side of Growth.)

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Economic Growth and Human Wellbeing (Part I)

Posted on 1 May 2011 by Carmen Lawrence

Economic Growth and Human Wellbeing in Three Parts

The current debate about our planetary future is infused with fear that we may lose some economic prosperity during the transition to a low-carbon economy. Although those fears are largely misplaced, it is nonetheless important to examine to what extent our wellbeing as a species relies on economic growth. Do we need growth to be happy?

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The Challenge of Understanding Accumulation

Posted on 15 March 2011 by Stephan Lewandowsky

As the physical understanding of climate change within the scientific community has become more and more robust, paradoxically the public debate has become progressively more disconnected from the scientific literature.

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