The involvement of conspiracist ideation in science denial

By Stephan Lewandowsky
Professor, School of Experimental Psychology and Cabot Institute, University of Bristol
Posted on 5 February 2013
Filed under Cognition

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.

My colleagues and I published a paper recently that found evidence for the involvement of conspiracist ideation in the rejection of scientific propositions—from climate change to the link between tobacco and lung cancer, and between HIV and AIDS—among visitors to climate blogs. This was a fairly unsurprising result because it meshed well with previous research and the existing literature on the rejection of science. Indeed, it would have been far more surprising, from a scientific perspective, if the article had not found a link between conspiracist ideation and rejection of science.

Nonetheless, as some readers of this blog may remember, this article engendered considerable controversy.

The article also generated data.

Data, because for social scientists, public statements and publically-expressed ideas constitute data for further research. Cognitive scientists sometimes apply something called “narrative analysis” to understand how people, groups, or societies are organized and how they think.

In the case of the response to our earlier paper, we were struck by the way in which some of the accusations leveled against our paper were, well, somewhat conspiratorial in nature. We therefore decided to analyze the public response to our first paper with the hypothesis in mind that this response might also involve conspiracist ideation. We systematically collected utterances by bloggers and commenters, and we sought to classify them into various hypotheses leveled against our earlier paper. For each hypothesis, we then compared the public statements against a list of criteria for conspiracist ideation that was taken from the previous literature.

This follow-up paper was accepted a few days ago by Frontiers in Psychology, and a preliminary version of the paper is already available, for open access, here.

The title of the paper is Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation, and it is authored by myself, John Cook, Klaus Oberauer, and Michael Marriott.

I enclose the abstract below:

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.

Bookmark and Share

86 Comments


1  2  Next

Comments 1 to 50 out of 86:

  1. Wearing my computer science hat, I originally wondered if this would yield only 1 level of recursion, but it appears to generate at least several.
  2. This study is funny. Is that allowed?
  3. One obvious question, and excuse me if I missed it in the paper: was this second study conceived as part of a two part project, the first part being LOG12?
  4. No, this wasn't conceived as a two part project - the intense reaction to LOG12 was not anticipated (although in hindsight, perhaps it should have been). What took us aback was the complete lack of self-awareness in those promoting the conspiracy theories.

    Interestingly, one of my favourite recursive theories was that the LOG12 paper was originally conceived to provoke the very reaction documented in Recursive Fury. It's a deliciously recursive theory when you think about it - suggesting that the LOG12 result linking conspiracy ideation to denial wasn't a real study but that the conspiracy theorising reaction to LOG12 was real. Hard to figure out the thinking that went into devising that theory.
  5. John, you must read Rabett Run more. The lack of self-awareness amongst the cranks has been a constant theme. Of course, the Idiot Tracker had it spotted too
  6. Eli, I consider myself properly chastened :-)
  7. A very interesting study, and I look forward to seeing the cranks' responses to it!

    So why are there so many conspiracy theorists?
  8. I would strongly endorse A Scott's suggestion to read the articles and blog comments here that he makes at Frontiers of science where the abstract is available.
    Despite the numerous deletions from posters unable to abide by the clearly stated moderation rules enough of the petty-minded pedantry uninformed by any methodological knowledge still remains to afford a great deal of ....shadenfraude to any informed reader.
    izen
    Moderator Response: Descending through the turtles, the primary threads of interest are here, here and here. Descending deeper will yield more turtles.
  9. It is useful to study conspiracist ideation, however there appears to be some risk that it supports the creation of a straw man to discredit political opponents instead of actually supporting inquiry. Few would argue that man is not affecting the climate, but many reasonable people would argue against the centralized political solutions purported to be a viable response to it.

    Disagreement about the latter does not imply rejection of the former, but studies like this do much to reinforce the disingenuous conflation of the two for shabby political ends.
  10. Well James, propose something. What Eli sees is that those with a particular economic philosophy spend their time throwing bananas against the concept that man is affecting the climate and the outcome will not be rosy. Given that, they, maybe you, discredit themselves. The messenger becomes the message. Only you can stop climate change denial.
  11. Steve Metzler at 11:47 AM on 7 February, 2013
    "Few would argue that man is not affecting the climate..."

    Right then, James. So why is it then that prominent AGW denial sites like WUWT spend virtually all of their time trying to convince us that it's anything *but* anthropogenic causes that has brought us to where we are today. Instead, it's allegedly one or more of:

    * Recovery from the Little Ice Age
    * Natural cycles caused by X (and you can pick your periodicity too. There are so many to choose from)
    * Climate scientists fudging the temperature record
    * Climate scientists applying dodgy statistical methods to the paleoclimate data
    * We haven't studied this problem for long enough to know anything
    * The climate has changed before
    * Climate models are completely useless
    * It hasn't warmed in the last X years
    * et. al.

    Oh, wait, you're not one of those 'few'. So then, given that you actually purport to acknowledge that we have a problem on our hands regarding AGW, the most obvious and plausible solution is to wean ourselves off fossil fuels and onto renewable sources of energy. Is that proposed solution 'political' in your estimation?
  12. Any comment on the paper getting pulled from the journal website?
  13. As I noted over at Bishop Hill LOG12 didn't find "evidence for the involvement of conspiracist ideation in the rejection of scientific propositions" because of its failure on methodological grounds (previously discussed on this blog). I further noted that this failure is surprising given the apparent standing of the authors (although I noted that the one author of LOG12 with any background in methodology stopped putting his name to the posts over here).

    These issues raised in respect of LOG12 received no acknowledgement from the authors, so hardly surprising then that reasonable people started to ask if the authors might have other motives than scholarship for their publishing adventures.

    This much more plausible hypothesis for the blogosphere's response received no attention in the latest attempt.
  14. Rejection of the scientific consensus thus calls for an alternative explanation of the very existence of that consensus.
    The ideation of a secretive conspiracy among researchers can serve as such an explanation


    Occam's Razor - Why do you choose a complex answer when a far simple explanation exists. Sceptic's hold no Conspirational ideation in the main, rather they hold that consensus science has not proved their case sufficiently by the scientific method or conversely that the hypothesis of Feedback aided global warming is sufficiently disproved. The Null hypothesis, that natural variation is the predominant factor in rising temperature has not been disproved. This is clearly a prerequisite for acceptance of man-made global warming hypothesis.

    The only scientific hypothesis that has been observationally proven in this whole debate is Svante Arrhenius's demonstration of CO2 warming - The requisite feedback magnitude to demonstrate catastrophic warming consistent with IPCC forecasts is hotly contested in scientific circles (and demonstrably wrong using simple mathematical methods). I remain amazed at this. (For example the hypothesis of +3 gain posits a feedforward loop gain of 0.95 after known negative feedbacks are accounted - which is physically impossible especially given there are temporal lags in the system you are discussing)

    Unless the researcher is capable of understanding the sceptics scientific basis for rejection of the CAGW hypothesis any speculation on motives of these sceptics becomes tainted by the preconceptions and naievity of the researcher.
  15. Oh by the way, I find it deliciously ironic that the researchers posit a conspiracy among sceptics to derail science - perhaps an inward view of why the researchers believe such a fairytale might be useful follow up - I'll wait eagerly to see that paper published
  16. Bobl really goes the extra mile to demonstrate that some "skeptics" base their skepticism on not knowing what they're talking about. He talks about feedback magnitudes, but then discusses feedforward loop gain. That is a new one - not sure I've ever seen someone argue the climate system is a feedforward control system (unless it is engineers using "feedforward" to mean "positive feedback"). Climate scientists generally model it as a combination of forcings and feedbacks, some of which are positive.

    He also illustrates a lack of understanding of the research itself if I'm not mistaken, by presuming that the authors "chose a complex answer instead of a simple one" for no good reason.

    Anyway, illustrating it is always better than describing it, I say ;-)
  17. Hmm, my last posting seems to have hit the bitbucket
  18. Something is broken here when I submit I get logged out. I will post my response a bit later...
  19. Both this new work itself and John Cook have repeatedly stated the supplemental information and data for LOG12 is available online. The refusal to provide this information was one of the key reasons for the difficulty in assessing and reviewing the original paper. It also makes any recreation or replication more difficult as well.

    I have asked several times for a link to the source of the online supplemental information to the LOG12 paper as referenced in the "Recursive" paper and by the authors, and have received no response.

    I'll make the legitimate request to the authors yet again here ... please provide a link to the LOG12 supplemental source.
  20. HAS (at 19:33 PM on 7 February, 2013)

    Actually the authors of the paper did respond to some of the attempts. The response is right here in the various posts in this blog. It was, to most impartial observers, largely to taunt and ridicule the efforts.

    As my post above notes, as do you, there was no effort, despite a number of requests, by the authors to provide information on methods, or to provide Supplemental Info etc., which would have helped the review.

    In my opinion the current paper is even more shallow. It is a thinly shrouded further attack on those the authors disagree with - and largely and exercise in excuse making for the work contained in LOG12.

    Rather than engage those critical of their work and support their efforts they stretch credulity almost to the breaking point in trying to conjur up something they can pass of as scholarly work.

    The true tell is the basis of their paper is, compared to other papers on similar topics, their attracted a proportionally huge number of critical responses.

    Once again any rational adult easily understands the reason for that.

    They chose to include a decidedly non-scholarly, headline grabbing title ... an inflammatory title intended solely for the media they pre-released the paper to. They chose a sensationalized title, regarding a minor claim of the paper - with a conclusion that was supported by the thinnest of threads, which dissolved altogether when the almost certainly "gamed" responses were removed.

    None of the other papers had remotely similar inflammatory, sensationalized titles. And while I have not read them, I suspect its safe to say none of those papers reported thinly supported minor findings as their title.

    The authors actions with the LOG12 paper, and this new article, appear clearly intended to attack and denigrate those who oppose them. This new paper offers nothing beneficial to the field - to the understanding of the relationship of blogs and science.

    And the proof there is the authors ignoring addressing the validity of the critics claims. It is not a conspiracy to try to review, verify accuracy and dispute the alleged scientific claims of others - challenge is the most basic premise of science.

    If the authors work is robust it should easily stand up to review. They should be willing and able to address any criticism, including providing the information necessary to facilitate review by others.

    To date the author have refused to do so, and now 'double down' with another thinly veiled attack against those who would dispute their work.

    That is not the "scientific method" I learned growing up. It is however a clear example of the significant problems, and serious effect on the science, when scientists are activists and advocates as well.
  21. To Lotharsson

    Firstly the Models do not directly model any feedback process, Gain (of 3) is inferred by the model - its the output of the scalar model they use, this is the amplification needed to be applied to CO2 warming to make the model approximate reality. Problem is, that this presupposes that all the forcing magnitudes are correct.

    I use the term feedforward to describe the positive feedbacks in a collection of largely unrelated feedbacks both negative and positive. Ie it is the positive feedback component after negative feedbacks are applied.

    Now, let's presuppose that the models are correct and the overall gain is 3. This Implies a net loop gain of 0.67 or so. But the situation is more complex than that, the climate system actually has many nested feedbacks of different gains and importantly with different lags. A better way to look at the problem (to test the reasonableness of this conclusion) is to apply the gains separately. The Negative feedbacks amount to a gain of about 0.2, the final climate system gain is posited at 3. Therefore after negative feedbacks are applied you need an overall system gain of 15, implying a positive feedback component loop gain of 0.95, given that the feedbacks are not time coherent, the idea that such a gain can exist in the climate given it;s stability is fanciful. The Hypothesis of a Net gain of 3 fails a simple sanity check on reasonableness when considered in the light of the real world.
  22. On the subject of Conspiratorial ideation let me expand my comment about Occams razor. A much simpler explanation for scepticism is that sceptics do not subscribe to a critical element of the warmist belief system. Let me give an example.

    In the end we are not talking about science, the end game is Action on climate change, and specifically in Australia the Carbon (Dioxide) Tax. Let me show you how easy it is to be sceptical. To agree with "Climate Action" an individual must agree with all of a Number of statements.

    1. They must agree with Arrhenius and believe CO2 is a Greenhouse gas (most sceptics do)
    2. They must agree that net feedbacks are significantly positive
    3. They must believe that CO2 rise coupled with warming is somehow dangerous.
    4.They must agree that climate can be cooled through human action
    5. They must also agree that the outlay of approximately 1 Quadrillion dollars per annum (based on Australia's Carbon (Dioxide) tax is a worthwhile investment to constrain warming to 2 degrees
    6. They must agree that action on climate is more important that feeding starving children, curing cancer, immunizing the worlds children against measles, or even the possibility of pensioners dying from fuel poverty in winter because of the intended effects of anti carbon dioxide measures

    The failure to subscribe to any one of these ideologies results in a rejection of the justifications for Climate change action - a sceptic is born.

    No conspiratorial beliefs are necessary, the motivation of Sceptics simply requires the rejection of one or more of these statements. It's hard to see why more people haven't rejected "Climate action", the misanthropic "Nature is more important than people" nature of the climate lobby (for example supporting the burning of food for fuel, and leaving pensioners to freeze in winter fuel poverty or afraid to switch their air conditioners on in summer) should have turned many, many more people away. The waste and misanthropy certainly astounds me.
  23. Firstly the Models do not directly model any feedback process...


    I think you might want to clarify that.

    Here's a simple exercise.

    1) List all of the widely acknowledged climate processes that are appropriately considered to be feedbacks when discussing anthropogenic climate change.

    2) Download the source code of any of the research climate models whose code is freely available.

    3) List all of the modelled climate processes in (2).

    4) Report the results of (1), (3) and the intersection of the two sets.
  24. ...this is the amplification needed to be applied to CO2 warming to make the model approximate reality.


    This reads like you're putting the cart before the horse. Do you agree that there's no abstracted "CO2 amplification" parameter in the models? That models are mostly based on well-known physics which can be quite well simulated and parameterisations for processes that are currently difficult to simulate well? That any "amplification" is an emergent property of making the model approximate reality as much as possible? That there aren't that many parameters that can be tweaked, especially not if you were to try and influence the model's implied climate sensitivity without screwing up model performance on multiple other simultaneously assessed metrics?

    The next part of your analysis appears to be at odds with itself. You have suggested that the forcing magnitudes are perhaps suspect, but then go on to apply an analysis that relies on both the forcing magnitudes and your claims about the total magnitude of negative feedbacks both being essentially accurate in order to reason about positive feedbacks - whose total magnitude you seem to suggest is uncertain or unknown - but certainly incorrect ;-) You can't have it both ways - forcings cannot be both accurately known and suspect! And you can't argue (without a great deal more justification than you do) that we are highly confident about the total magnitudes of everything EXCEPT positive feedbacks.

    You also claim "the idea that such a gain can exist in the climate given it;s stability is fanciful".

    Saying it does not make it so.

    Firstly, you just finished saying that the TOTAL loop gain needs to be somewhere around 0.67 - well within the range of stability of a simple feedback model. A simple feedback model that has both negative and positive feedbacks which together sum to less than 1 is stable, EVEN IF the sum of all positive feedbacks is 1 or above. It is erroneous to apply the overall loop gain criterion for determining stability of a simple feedback model to anything other than the overall loop gain - e.g. applying it to the total magnitude of any subset of feedbacks, e.g. the subset of feedbacks that are positive feedbacks. And that disregards the fact that it's ALSO an error to rule out a total loop gain of 0.95 for a system which is observed to be stable. Yes, varying lags complicate the picture, but simply touting them doesn't make your case either.

    Secondly, it's worse than that. The simple loop gain stability criterion is based on a simple feedback system which doesn't have range-limited and varying strength feedbacks like the climate system does. Arguing from a grossly simplified engineering abstraction isn't valid unless you can show why the conclusions you draw must still hold in the simplified model if they are true of the more complex climate system.

    You speak of sanity checks, although yours is based on erroneous analysis. Here's another simple sanity check. Calculating the average surface temperature of an Earth without the greenhouse gas effect, and compare it with (a) the average current temperature and (b) the average current temperature of an Earth with no feedbacks, but with a CO2 greenhouse gas effect. IIRC you'll find (a) is about 33 C warmer than the non-greenhouse Earth, and (b) is about 9 C warmer at best. This gives a "gain" of more than 3 - bearing in mind that it's a rough sanity check, not a rigourous method for calculating climate sensitivity.

    There are other simple sanity checks too, such as looking at ice age to interglacial variations and even looking at the amount of warming since pre-industrial times (despite the fact that all of the resulting warming hasn't been realised because equilibrium hasn't been reached). They suggest "gain" values in similarish ranges.
  25. In the end we are not talking about science, ...


    There's an anti-talking point if I ever heard one! I don't think you're supposed to say that one out loud! ;-)

    Half of the rest of your post is indeed not talking about science. That's ... interesting, blatantly shifting the goalposts in public on a thread discussing rejection of science.
  26. Lotharsson first

    The thread is about Conspiratorial ideation, not climate science. I have said that to prove Conspiratorial ideation in a group the researchers should have to prove.

    1. That holding such a view flies in the face of indisputable facts AND (not or) violates the scientific method. IE that sceptics are not reasonably entitled to hold that view.

    AND they must show that

    2. There is not a simpler explanation for the holding of such a viewpoint.

    In this case the researchers are talking about the possibility of a conspiratorial view being held among sceptics of climate change action. This is either expressed or implied by the linkage to free market thinking. There is no attempt anywhere to separate the belief of the science from the belief in the economic action taken to mitigate the effects of alleged CO2 warming. The researchers bundle all sceptics into one basket and charge them with believing in a conspiracy theory. I might add that in a survey a couple of years ago over 53% of the population fit this description. My post discusses a counter explanation for the existence of a large sceptic community based on the simple disagreement with the many beliefs that must be held to be in support of Climate action - It is a perfectly valid criticism. The more you learn about "Climate Change and "Climate action" activism the more you are faced with these questions, eventually pretty much everyone who understands these topics and isn't misanthropic comes to disagree with one of the underpinning ideologies and drops out of the activist camp
  27. Lotharsson, you clearly don't know much about feedback. 0.67 loop gain is not in the stable range and the probability that 0.95 with lags is stable is 1 in a billion or so. Occams razor say the explanation is simpler - IE that the Nett gain is not 3.

    Experiment, take an analogue - An Amplifier, apply a lagged negative feedback to give a gain of 0.2 then apply a differently lagged positive feedback loop to bring the gain to 3. See what happens to this amplifier. Simpler, go to any EE at UWA and ask this question.

    Now to your other errors, the 33 degree rise you cite is largely due to the nature of the atmosphere. Energy is freely exchanged through the atmosphere, assuming equilibrium the total energy in any part of the atmosphere is a constant or very nearly, but we live in a gravitational well. Things at height have potential energy, when the atmosphere gains height, it follows that average kinetic energy (Temperature) must fall so that the total energy (Potential + Kinetic) is the same. This implies that in an atmosphere temperature must decline by altitude (on average) and therfore the surface therefore warmer. Any variation to this represents energy moving through the atmosphere. So the 33 degrees isn't the product of CO2 Warming its a product of gravity.

    Look at Jupiter, it has no greenhouse gasses but is estimated to have a core at up to 35,000 degrees, due to this effect

    or
    The ideal gas law says PV is proportional to T, PV represents volume density, so Temperature of a gas is proportional to its volume (molar)density, and volume density is proportional to gravitational field strength.

    Even so if I take the assumption that CO2 causes all the 33 degrees warming and not that CO2 absorption is 85% in its stop band, then I can conclude that the maximum warming (For 1 ATM and 100% CO2 atmosphere)is less that 5.6 degrees including all feedbacks. The IPCC instead posits that a 100% CO2 atmosphere will be between 105 and 210 degrees warmer (with No liquid water on earth). If one accepts the science that earth began with a largely CO2 atmosphere it becomes clear that this in fact does not happen, otherwise Earth would still be an inhospitable CO2 shrouded globe. The IPCC estimates of 105 - 210 degrees for a CO2 atmosphere is implausible - Simple explanation - an overestimation of climate feedback gain.


    Now I ask - I have given 2 plausible reasons why I should reject the Hypothesis of a significant positive feedback in the climate. Am I entitled to hold the view that the Null hypothesis (that global warming is predominately natural) has not been disproven by the IPCC science ?

    Whether I am right or wrong (Because whether I am wrong here has no bearing on the topic at hand, (that is Conspiratorial Ideation) given my calculations show that IPCC prediction are unreasonable and that Feedback in all plausibility cannot have an element with a lagged positive loop gain of 0.95 and remain stable. Am I therefore entitled to be sceptical of CO2 driven global warming WITHOUT holding a conspiratorial belief?
  28. Bobl writes:

    The thread is about Conspiratorial ideation, not climate science.


    Yep, but the key is that the ideation is about scientific propositions. You previously made scientific claims which you allege were reasonable bases for skepticism about certain scientific propositions.

    They're not. And that provides a lovely illustration of your "1.", i.e. "skeptics" claiming unreasonable bases for skepticism.

    You may genuinely believe that those reasons are a reasonable basis, but that doesn't change the analysis. Either way "skepticism" of scientific propositions based on genuinely believing falsehoods, typically from a position of personal scientific incompetence/ignorance is an interesting phenomenon. Whilst it is in the realm of Dunning-Kruger, it seems like it also fits under the Lewandowsky et al. criterion.

    And then you shifted the goalposts again:

    There is no attempt anywhere to separate the belief of the science from the belief in the economic action taken to mitigate the effects of alleged CO2 warming.


    Firstly, saying it does not make it so, not even if you say it about the original LOG12 paper. Did you look at the questionnaire for LOG12, and can you substantiate the claim that it treats "skepticism" of economic action without skepticism of the underlying science as "skepticism" of science?

    Secondly, you try to argue that they're treating skepticism of economic action as skepticism of scientific propositions this way:

    This is either expressed or implied by the linkage to free market thinking.


    But that does not follow. Standard "free market thinking" includes the concept of capturing negative externalities by (say) imposing taxes, or using other regulatory or governmental measures. The Carbon Tax is very much in the mainstream of standard free market economics, even if someone argues to the contrary from personal ignorance.

    Additionally, you have not shown that this "linkage" causes the authors to erroneously treat skepticism of economic action as skepticism of scientific propositions. You've merely asserted it.

    But thirdly, as the OP says and as you apparently reject [my emphasis]:

    There is growing evidence that conspiratorial thinking, also known as conspiracist ideation, is often involved in the rejection of scientific propositions.


    We seem to agree that the subject isn't skepticism of public policy or economic action, it's skepticism of scientific propositions, but you appear to allege that the paper treats the latter as if it were the former. However, given that this paper analyses responses to LOG12, a paper which advanced scientific propositions in the realm of psychology and which to my knowledge did NOT tout any particular economic actions or public policy - then those responses by definition are skepticism of scientific propositions.

    AND they must show that

    2. There is not a simpler explanation for the holding of such a viewpoint.


    Firstly, the applicable criterion is not which is the "simplest" explanation. It's which is the best one, given all the evidence. Ockham's Razor is only useful as a fallback when you have two competing explanations that are pretty much equally plausible, given the evidence. You haven't shown that this is the case here.

    Secondly, since you haven't provided a better explanation that stands up to scrutiny yet, and as far as I can see haven't referenced anyone else's either, so so far the authors' one seems to be in the lead...
  29. Bobl writes:

    Lotharsson, you clearly don't know much about feedback. 0.67 loop gain is not in the stable range...


    Oh dear.

    You're asserting that a gain of 3 is "not in the stable range". All of those amplifier manufacturers where gains go much much higher than "3" are going to be very very surprised at your stunning revelation, as are all of the university professors who teach Automatic Control, and all of their students. (Hint: what's the sum of the infinite geometric series 1 + 0.67 + 0.67^2 + 0.67^3 + ...? If you can't figure out whether this sum converges to a finite limit or not, ask a high school mathematics student.)

    ...the probability that 0.95 with lags is stable is 1 in a billion or so.


    Despite having it pointed out to you you're either erroneously misapplying the stability criterion or you're erroneously conflating the subset of positive feedbacks with the total set of feedbacks. No-one except apparently you claims that the Earth Climate system has total feedback of +0.95. Yet you repeat your error.

    You are most dedicated to illustrating the unreasonable bases of your "skepticism"!

    And when one argument doesn't work, you simply shift to another.

    So the 33 degrees isn't the product of CO2 Warming its a product of gravity.


    Nope!

    Firstly, no-one ever said 33 degrees was purely the "product of CO2 Warming". The 33 degrees are a combination of greenhouse gas warming and feedbacks, even if some of the feedbacks in operation are poorly understood!


    Secondly, the effect of gravity is already implied in the calculation of the planetary surface temperature in the absence of greenhouse gases because it is an equilibrium calculation. It does not, as you appear to believe, presume that the atmosphere holds zero energy. It presumes that the planet reaches equilibrium with incoming solar energy and outgoing infrared emissions in balance, and the atmosphere is in equilibrium with the surface!


    Here's another one.

    The ideal gas law says PV is proportional to T...


    Only under specific conditions, and even then only as an approximation that is often quite good. Can you show that these conditions are satisfied by Earth's atmosphere - which has radiative exchange with space and the sun?

    Here's another one:

    Even so if I take the assumption that CO2 causes all the 33 degrees warming and not that CO2 absorption is 85% in its stop band,..


    Firstly, as previously pointed out no-one is alleging CO2 all on its own produces 33 degrees of warming. I explicitly said "9 degrees" at the most!

    Secondly, the 85% absorption observation does not rebut the 33 degrees of warming, some of it due directly to CO2. Warming operates via absorption so it's not surprising that absorption is observed!

    The IPCC instead posits that a 100% CO2 atmosphere will be between 105 and 210 degrees warmer.


    Interesting. I don't recall them claiming that. Do you have a section number? And do you realise you're arguing with yourself by apparently alleging now that the IPCC thinks the "gain" is somewhere in the approximate range 20-40, not 3? Which one do they say? Is the difference resolved by "with No liquid water on earth", which almost all scientists rule out as a plausible scenario for Earth because we just don't receive enough solar energy to drive the system to that state?

    And here's perhaps the most important one.

    Am I entitled to hold the view that the Null hypothesis (that global warming is predominately natural) has not been disproven by the IPCC science ?


    Nope (although you clearly think you are thus entitled).

    Apart from the fairly severe flaws in most if not all of your attempted rebuttals of the science, that's a very poor choice of Null Hypothesis. Direct laboratory experiments demonstrate the greenhouse gas effect. We can measure downwelling infrared radiation and see that it is increasing, and we can measure changes in absorption spectra at the Top Of Atmosphere. We see a profile of atmospheric warming that is inconsistent with changes in insolation, but consistent with greenhouse gas warming. Night-times are warming more than days which is inconsistent with most if not all "natural" explanations.

    The most appropriate Null Hypothesis by now is that increasing greenhouse gases will warm the planet, and about a dozen other lines of other evidence suggest that the system "gain" is most likely in the range 2-4.5. There are a whole bunch of other lines of evidence that pin responsibility for much of the warming on human factors. You can either take them as strong reasons to reject your Null Hypothesis, or you can construct a much better Null Hypothesis that is quite difficult to reject - that anthropogenic factors explain most of the recent observed warming.
  30. Bobl writes:

    Whether I am right or wrong (Because whether I am wrong here has no bearing on the topic at hand, (that is Conspiratorial Ideation) ...


    Whether you are right or wrong DOES have a bearing on the topic.

    Your calculations, if correct, would imply that essentially ALL climate scientists the world over are either:

    a) incredibly ignorant about well-understood knowledge like feedback and stability, despite having gone through about 20 years of scientific education and then publishing their claims in scientific journals to be critiqued by any and every research competitor in the field, a field where one makes a name for oneself by showing that accepted explanations for the evidence are wrong - and NOT ONE of those competitors, nor anyone from engineering-heavy industries potentially impacted by policy arising from their scientific claims - has followed the strong motivation to improve their career and achieve scientific fame and fortune by pointing out the trivially demonstrated flaw in the house of cards.

    b) flat-out lying to non-scientists (and presumably coordinating their lies so it doesn't become too obvious).

    I'd suggest that both of these are examples of conspiratorial ideation - they invoke alternative explanations for the evidence which are not plausible under even brief and mild scrutiny.

    You might wish to argue that (for example) you aren't ideating (a) (or even (b)) because you haven't examined the implications of the possibility that your calculations are correct. (Although you have now - you read this thread. Ummmm...)

    Or you might wish to argue that your calculations are wrong, and therefore you can't be engaged in conspiratorial ideation based on their being right. Do you wish to so argue?
  31. Your last posting is instructive it shows a lack of first hand knowledge through an appeal to authority

    a) incredibly ignorant about well-understood knowledge like feedback and stability, despite having gone through about 20 years of scientific education and then publishing their claims in scientific journals to be critiqued by any and every research competitor in the field, a field where one makes a name for oneself by showing that accepted explanations for the evidence are wrong - and NOT ONE of those competitors, nor anyone from engineering-heavy industries potentially impacted by policy arising from their scientific claims - has followed the strong motivation to improve their career and achieve scientific fame and fortune by pointing out the trivially demonstrated flaw in the house of cards.

    This is surprising, I agree, however it is not my problem - it's theirs. Science does not come from Authority it comes from exploring the world around us, I have done so and shown a loop gain 0.67 is implausible. I am also correct, so I need no further reassurance, because my math is sound, feedback on CO2 warming is shown mathematically to be an implausible explanation for climate warming. It is not even relevant how many scientists oppose my views, all that is relevant to science is whether I am right. That doesn't get decided by a show of hands, it requires a proof.

    The IPCC by claiming 3.3-6 degrees warming per doubling through that unqualified claim also assert 100 odd to 200 odd degrees warming for a CO2 1 ATM atmosphere (after 30 odd doublings)

    By the way, it is not gain that causes instability persay it is feedback IE The LOOP GAIN that generates it. An amplifier can have ANY gain providing the inphase signal feedback from the output to the input does not approach the magnitude of the applied signal. Please learn about feedback - it's important that if you are going to engage in the debate you understand the math.

    Also I have shown there is no requirement for a conspiratorial viewpoint to be sceptical of global warming, simply believing the theory wrong is sufficient.

    I have made my point -I think i'll leave it at that
  32. Your last posting is instructive it shows a lack of first hand knowledge through an appeal to authority.


    I agree that my posting is instructive, but not in the way that you assert ;-)

    I fail to see the appeal to authority, especially not in the quote you provided. Feel free to clarify which authority you think I'm appealing to. Remember that appeal to authority proceeds by arguing that "Proposition X is correct because authority Y says so".

    Please specifically identify X and Y in my quoted statement. I think you'll find that difficult because my quote does not argue that any particular position is correct.

    I have done so and shown a loop gain 0.67 is implausible.


    You keep asserting that, but fail to deal with the basic flaws in your analysis - let alone your error when claiming that a loop gain of 0.67 means the system is "not stable".

    Worse still, a number of lines of physical evidence exist which are all roughly in agreement with each other, and which disagree with your conclusion. Math and statistics - even if they are correct - that are ungrounded in the physical evidence frequently lead people to draw incorrect - even unphysical - scientific conclusions.

    When you invoke your math you aren't actually arguing from the scientific evidence - you are arguing from a simplified model of a system with feedback that you think shows that the evidence just cannot lead to the inferences that it leads to. (The fact that you are wrong about the question of the stability of your simplified system merely compounds the error.)

    And speaking of unphysical conclusions:

    The IPCC by claiming 3.3-6 degrees warming per doubling through that unqualified claim also assert 100 odd to 200 odd degrees warming for a CO2 1 ATM atmosphere (after 30 odd doublings)


    Citation please!

    The first issue is that AFAIK in AR4 don't claim 3.3-6 degrees C warming per doubling. The most commonly cited range for likely values is 2-4.5 C, with significantly higher and slightly lower values being difficult to rule out.

    Furthermore IIRC this "per doubling" is only a valid approximation over a limited range of concentrations. That range does not extend on the upper end all the way to "100% CO2" so your conclusion is "unphysical" in the sense that it relies on extending a physical model outside of its valid range.

    Even worse, there is simply no way to double the current concentration of atmospheric CO2 30 times! The current concentration is (approximately) 400 ppm. 30 doublings from that concentration would reach "430,000 million parts per million" - a physical impossibility. This is a great example of why math devoid of grounding in the physical evidence leads one astray when analysing science!

    By the way, it is not gain that causes instability persay it is feedback IE The LOOP GAIN that generates it.


    Yes, I know! That's why I have been careful to distinguish the two! You will note that I used the value of the loop gain (0.67) when I asked you to evaluate the limit of:

    1 + 0.67 + 0.67^2 + 0.67^3 + ...

    I note that you did not do so, despite this being a standard high school mathematics problem and a well known equation modelling the effect of feedback, and despite your continuing assertion that it is you that properly understand both feedback and "the math" and that I do not.

    Your posts pretty clearly demonstrate that you don't understand the scientific case you reject. This matches my observation on your first post - that "...some "skeptics" base their skepticism on not knowing what they're talking about." But I also think that the subsequent exchange has adequately demonstrated that your claims lead directly to conspiratorial thinking as well, although you seem to be either ignoring where they lead ("it is not my problem") or asserting that they do not.

    Oh, well...
  33. "conspiracy theory" is a label. The term could easily become a tool to negate rational objection from the fringe. It is an umbrella term and it's use demonstrated in the above.
  34. "hippie" makes a picture in the mind, It was a label invented to silence dissent among a generation and to create social rejection of anti-war and anti-nuclear groups.

    "conspiracy-theory" is similar: anti ct's reject the findings and evidence presented by people outside the "scientific community" and accept sometimes unrealistic theories based on assumption from within.

    Labels are products of social engineering
  35. The study legitimizes dependence on authority for definition of reality. It negates free thought, free enterprise and any step away from the paid community who have access to more expensive measuring machines. Having a good set of data does not make you a better thinker.
    Data is like statistics and is manipulative, only as good as the person interpreting it. "conspiracy-theory" is a social labelling defence mechanism for the narrow minded and well paid
  36. Sapa is right.

    All through this dialogue I have been accused of over simplification, when it is climate science that uses the scalar model!

    I am labeled a conspiracy theorist when I fail to nominate any co-conspirators. The whole premise of the "Conspiracy theory" is a fear that a group of people are maliciously manipulating the truth. Clearly I don't believe that, (I just proved the premise that conspiratorial thinking is a common thread in climate scepticism) sorry that is put to bed, no such requirement exists.

    No investigation at all by these researchers goes into analysis of the more obvious conspiracy theory in this debate "That the sceptics are funded by Big Oil to the tune of mode $$$ than the proponents can muster"
    This whole premise clearly isn't science, it's "Witch-huntery". An attempt to label a community with well founded scientific basis - cranks and conspiracy theorists.

    As I have shown here conpiratorial ideation is NOT a precondition for Climate Action scepticism . There is plenty of reasonable grounds to be sceptical of both the science, and the economics of mitigation, without resorting to flights of fancy.

    As a consequence I would label the researchers outcomes as "Unproven".
  37. All through this dialogue I have been accused of over simplification, when it is climate science that uses the scalar model!


    How odd!

    You seem to think that climate science models are over-simplified, yet you yourself critique the climate sensitivity inferred from the models by analysing a much much simpler abstraction than climate models. Your own claim of "over-simplification" must therefore apply even more strongly to your own toy feedback model which should render your analysis invalid in your eyes - but clearly does not.

    I am labeled a conspiracy theorist...


    Citation please!

    I've said some of your claims lead to conspiratorial ideation if one considers the implications, but I've also noted that up until now you may not have considered the implications. That is not labelling you a conspiracy theorist! And no-one else seems to have done so either.

    I am labeled a conspiracy theorist when I fail to nominate any co-conspirators.


    One need not have co-conspirators to be a conspiracy theorist because personal involvement is not a requirement for the "conspiracy" in "conspiracy theory". And your definition of the "whole premise of the conspiracy theory" doesn't appear to match the definition used in psychology.

    As I have shown here conpiratorial ideation is NOT a precondition for Climate Action scepticism...


    Are you under the impression that this paper or the preceding one argued that conspiratorial ideation was a precondition for climate science or climate action "skepticism"? If so, why? Is your belief consistent with the presence of the word "often" in the first sentence of this post, to wit:

    There is growing evidence that conspiratorial thinking, also known as conspiracist ideation, is often involved in the rejection of scientific propositions.


    ...and with the word "many" in the abstract:

    ...we show that many of the hypotheses exhibited conspiratorial content and counterfactual thinking.


    (You also have about a dozen pertinent questions outstanding but I'm guessing from your previous responses that the chances of straightforward answers to them are quite low.)
  38. Sapa - someone, and I apologize for not remembering who, coined the term "Punitive Psychology" ... which seems to apply perfectly to what is occurring with Lewandowsky and his 'crew.'

    Don't like what those who disagree with and/or criticize you are saying ... respond with with what amount to little more than name-calling in the end - but done thru the sophistry of alleged "scholarly work."

    What is more frustrating is the authors of this smear hide behind the facade of allegedly scholarly works, but refuse to provide access to the work itself - ie: we have repeatedly been told the Supplemental Online Information contaiuns the information to support their work, and both subsequent papers and Mr. Lewandowsky and Cook, have all said this Supplemental is "available online."

    Yet the truth is it by all appearances is not available anywhere.

    I will repeat the request to the authors - please identify where the Supplemental Online information for LOG12 is available online.

    You released this paper to the media now some 8 months ago, and have claimed it to be "in press" for 6 months. You have quoted the LOG12 paper as a reference in several subsequent papers.

    Yet the Supplemental information remains unavailable. There is nothing "scholarly" or professional about this type action. Again - please indicate where the LOG12 Supplemental Information is available online as you have repeatedly claimed.
  39. Before the moaning commences, perhaps Sapa might look at the top of the Frontiers in Psychology page and see what research topic this paper is part of. Frankly Eli tires of the pseudomoaning.
  40. Lotharsson I don't normally argue a lot - I have made calculations on the claims and found them wanting. However if you want to look one at a time at your claims. I can do that, but I'll only take them one at a time since it becomes an exponentially more difficult task to address multiple issues per posting.

    One point you have correct however, there are only 12 and a bit doublings between 380 PPM and a million PPM my recallection was obviously off (I think 30 may have stuck in my memory instead of 13). This means the the IPCC implies 39-72 degrees warming for a 1 ATM CO2 atmosphere, still a bit fanciful, compared with an absolute maximum of 5.6 degrees using energy conservation

    So with that concession put your first argument.
  41. Poor bobl. All useless pet theories and mathturbation with no apparent regard for physical constraints or practical matters. A doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial levels of 280ppm to 560ppm (which we are on track to hit around 2050, if not before due to accelerating emissions and methane release due to 'permafrost' melt) will cause a 2 - 4.5C rise in average global temps, most likely about 3C. This will have a catastrophic effect on modern agriculture. We are already pushing the limits for being able to grow corn. Weather patterns would very likely change so much as well, that there will be either too much or too little rain in places that used to have a nice balance. You can see that this is already beginning to happen in, for instance: the U.S. 'breadbasket' states (extreme prolonged drought), Pakistan, Thailand, NE Australia, (too much rain) et. al. In short, we will have completely screwed up the 'goldilocks' (just-right) Holocene climate upon which modern civilisation is based. *This* is what the IPCC is really telling us, not your straw man interpretation of the facts.

    One more doubling to 1120ppm would increase wet bulb temps so much that it would render large parts of the globe uninhabitable, pretty much ending civilisation as we know it.
  42. Bobl, I already put forth a bunch of arguments. Feel free to take any one of them at a time that you take issue with.

    Since you've started on what you think the IPCC implies via climate sensitivity, you might want to keep going with that one. To begin with you'll need to at least correct the problems with your claim. Let me recap the first problem which I already pointed out above, and which you have so far not responded to. There's little point going further if this is not corrected because it means we can't even agree on what the facts are.

    The IPCC AR4 specified that the equilibrium climate sensitivity due to doubling of CO2 is likely to be within the range 2.0 to 4.5 C with the most likely value being somewhere about 3.0 C. They also said that it is very unlikely to be lower than 1.5 C.

    Your "3.3 - 6 C per doubling" numbers simply are NOT what the IPCC report says. You might want to check the IPCC report for yourself. If your numbers aren't accurate, then you might want to reconsider the reliability of the source that you obtained them from, and of anything else they claimed.
  43. Gentleman

    I hate to break into a personal discussion here, but your arguments about the rightness or wrongness of climate science et al are actually completely immaterial to the discussion and findings of the paper.

    The paper finds a link between rejection of climate science and conspiracy thinking. Note that it does not matter whether or not climate science is correct for that link to be established. All that matters is that the link exists.

    Even if climate science is 100% wrong (and I am not claiming for a second that it is), there may still be a link between the rejection of the science (or non-science depending on your view) and conspiracy thinking. The paper suggests that such a link exists.

    So you both can argue all you like about the correctness of feedback mechanisms et al - even though that has been done ad nauseum by real climate scientists. But if you want to make your discussion relevant to the topic of this thread you should probably do that elsewhere. The question is - is there a link between the rejection of climate science and conspiracy thinking? Professor Lewandowsky says that there is. Do you disagree? Why (or why not)?
  44. Mandas, I partly agree with your point about relevance - most of this discussion has been only tangentially related to the findings of the paper.

    My initial observation on Bobl's comments was that they illustrated someone convincing themselves for bad reasons that their "skepticism" wasn't motivated by conspiratorial thinking, but (as I initially suspected) poking at them a bit demonstrates that the logical conclusion of some of those reasons is conspiratorial thinking. I think you're right in that much of the subsequent discussion of the reasoning has generally become more removed the subject of the papers.

    Bobl also seemed to be under the impression that the papers in question attribute ALL "skepticism" to conspiratorial thinking, even though it seems obvious that they do not, which did seem to be quite relevant to the OP - recursively, perhaps, given that the OP and the paper abstract seems to rebut that assertion, as I pointed out.
  45. I'm not sure that psychologists should be allowed to have this much fun when doing research.
  46. Hi Lotharsson,

    It's probably a feature of most blogs related to climate change that the discussion generally turns towards the rightness or wrongness of the science, no matter what the original article was about. I certainly won't claim to be a saint in this regard, because I have been a fairly prolific commentator on this issue on a number of blogs.

    The problem is that I certainly am no expert, and my knowledge generally comes from being literate in science (I have 2 science degrees) and spend a great deal of time reading journal articles - often in response to comments made on blogs like this. But my 'literacy' in science extends to me being aware that my reading a lot of relevant journals does NOT make be competent to comment on the accuracy or otherwise of the science. Unfortunately, that knowledge does not appear to extend both ways, with a plethora of people who think that their reading of a few journals or articles on blogs renders them experts, and the spreadsheets they construct at 2 in the morning, overturns years of work by real experts. Your friend Bobl seems to be just one such person. They chuck in a few 'scientific' words they read somewhere and 'voila' - they have proved that climate change is all a lie! The Dunning-Kruger effect is strong in that lot.

    You are probably right. These people may not be of the 'faked moon landing' style of conspiratorial thinkers, but they almost certainly belong to the 'peer reviewed is broken and contrary thinking is excluded' or 'they are in it for the grant money' style of thinking.
  47. mandas ... since you brought up "peer review is broken" in the perspective of a derogatory tag ... how do you feel about peer review?

    For starters, do you believe peer reviewers should be impartial and independent from the authors/work they are reviewing?
  48. jrkrideau at 08:19 AM on 15 February, 2013

    My experience is that those doing serious research, as opposed to IMO blatant activism disguised as scholarly work, do not "have this much fun" ....
  49. Another question for you mandas ... do you believe a paper that has been alleged as "in press" for 8 months, but which has not actually ever been published, and which the authors admit they have been revising during such time, should be allowed to be used and cited as a reference for subsequent work?
  50. A Scott

    First of all, I am not saying peer review is broken. I am saying that the denier claims of peer review being broken are incorrect.

    As far as your questions are concerned, it is impossible for peer reviewers to be completely impartial and independent under all circumstances. Many fields of science are quite small and as a consequence many scientists are either colleagues of, or at the very least know, the person who's work they are reviewing. They may also have published on the same subject themselves, so would have views on the issue.

    But that isn't the point. Peer reviewers do not need to be either impartial or independent - they need to be ethical. They need to review the work on it's merits, whether or not they agree with the conclusions in the paper.

    And to be frank, any claims that peer reviewers do not do that don't stack up to scrutiny. Of course scientists are human, and they have their own biases. But if a scientist doing peer review consistently refused to accept any work that he/she disagreed with would eventually be found out and would lose credibility. There is more than one journal out there for most fields, and if you are rejected by one you can submit for publication in another. And if a valid work - one which stands up too scrutiny - is published after being rejected by a first, then questions will be asked.

    Science and publication is a blood sport. Many scientists like nothing more than to pull apart the work of another. That's why this crap about a 'conspiracy' to gain funding etc is just that - crap. Scientists are not going to endorse anything they think iis wrong. They are far more likely to destroy weak work than to endorse it.

1  2  Next

Comments Policy

Post a Comment

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or register a new account.