Drilling into noise

By Stephan Lewandowsky
Professor, School of Experimental Psychology and Cabot Institute, University of Bristol
Posted on 17 September 2012
Filed under Cognition
and Klaus Oberauer

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.

Numerical skills alone are often insufficient to understand a data set—indeed, number-crunching ability that's unaccompanied by informed judgment can often do more harm than good.

This fact frequently becomes apparent in the climate arena, where the ability to use pivot tables in Excel or to do a simple linear regressions is often over-interpreted as deep statistical competence.

The graph below illustrates this problem with the global temperature data: although there is no question that the trend is increasing, it is always possible to cherry pick periods for analysis during which there is no significant increase in temperature. Of course, those “analyses” are a meaningless distraction from what is actually happening on our planet (the only one we've got, by the way).

Similar comments apply to some of the analyses reported in the blogosphere of our recent data on rejection of science and conspiracist ideation. We have already dealt with the "scamming" issue here and here, and we will not take it up again in this post.

Instead, we focus on the in-principle problems exhibited by some of the blog-analyses of our data. Two related problems and misconceptions appear to be pervasive: first, blog analysts have failed to differentiate between signal and noise, and second, no one who has toyed with our data has thus far exhibited any knowledge of the crucial notion of a latent construct or latent variable.

Let's consider the signal vs. noise issue first. We use the item in our title, viz. that NASA faked the moon landing, for illustration. Several commentators have argued that the title was misleading because if one only considers level X of climate "skepticism" and level Y of moon endorsement, then there were none or only very few data points in that cell in the Excel spreadsheet.

Perhaps.

But that is drilling into the noise and ignoring the signal.

The signal turns out to be there and it is quite unambiguous: computing a Pearson correlation across all data points between the moon-landing item and HIV denial reveals a correlation of -.25. Likewise, for lung cancer, the correlation is -.23. Both are highly significant at p < .0000...0001 (the exact value is 10 -16, which is another way of saying that the probability of those correlations arising by chance is infinitesimally small).

What about climate? The correlation between the Moon item and the "CauseCO2" item is smaller, around -.12, but also highly significant, p < .0001.

Now you know why the title of our paper was “NASA faked the moon landing—Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science.” We put the "(climate)" in parentheses before "science" because the association between conspiracist ideation and rejection of science was greater for the other sciences than for climate science.

(As an intriguing aside, by the logic that's been applied to our data by some critics, the larger correlations involving other sciences would suggest that AIDS researchers—keen to get their grants renewed?— scammed our survey to make AIDS deniers look bad.)

But we can do better than extract a signal by simple correlations.

Far better.

This brings us to our second issue, the role of latent variables.

To understand this concept, one must first consider the fact that on any cognitive test or survey, any one item, however well designed, will not provide an error-free measure of the psychological construct of interest. No single puzzle can tell you about a person’s IQ, no single question will reveal one’s personality, and no single moon landing will reveal a person’s propensity for conspiracist ideation.

So the correlations we just reported constitute a better signal than the noise that overwhelms a selected few cells of an Excel spreadsheet, but they are still "contaminated" by measurement error or item variance—that is, the data reflect the idisosyncracy of the particular item in addition to information about the construct of interest, in this case conspiracist ideation.

What to do?

Enter latent variable analysis, also known as structural equation modeling (SEM).

SEM is a technique that estimates latent constructs—that is, the hypothesized psychological construct of interest, such as intelligence or personality or conspiracist ideation. SEM does this by considering multiple items, thereby removing the measurement error that besets individual test items.

We cannot get into the details here, but basically SEM permits computation of the error-free associations between constructs, such as one's attitudes towards science and one’s conspiracist ideation. It is because measurement error has been reduced or eliminated, that correlations between constructs are higher in magnitude than might be suggested by the pairwise correlations between items.

And because SEM removes measurement error, the associations between constructs are particularly resilient, as we showed earlier when all observations are removed that might conceivably represent “scamming.”

When the long-term temperature trend is ignored in favour of a few years of declining temperatures after a unique scorcher, this is missing the statistical forest not just for a tree but for a little twig on a tree.

Likewise, when the associations between latent constructs in our data are ignored in favour of one or two cells in an Excel spreadsheet, that’s missing the statistical forest not just for a little twig on a single tree but for a single leg of a pinebark beetle on that twig that’s eating its way northbound through the Rockies as the globe is warming.

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474 Comments


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Comments 1 to 50 out of 397:

  1. I am unaware of any sceptic producing a graph that you show that describes how they see global warming.

    In fact, I notice you reproduce a graph of how the 'sceptic debunking' blog Skeptical Science' 'thinks' sceptics view global warming. Perhaps you could ask a sceptic, rather than produce this graph where provide no evidence that any sceptic thinks this..



    A graph that might be more closely looked at, is the IPCC graph that is frequently described as showing accelerated global warming. Where the trend lines were inserted and the graph produced after the expert IPCC reviewers had seen a toatlly dfferent trend line..

    Dr Paul Matthews documents his concerns here.
    https://sites.google.com/site/globalwarmingquestions/howtheipccinventedanewcalculus

    Perhaps Prof Lewandowsky would like to contact Dr Paul Matthews (Reader of Mathematics, Nottingham Uni) for some advice on this, as mathematics is not Prof Lewandowsky's specialist area of expertise

    A couple of references:
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2012/3/23/accelerating-global-warming.html#comment17460414

    The actual sceptic blog, Bishop Hill takes a look at these various graphs:
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2012/2/3/cherrypicking.html
  2. Love the link to Dr Matthews insistence that progressive changes in the trend going back 25, 50, 100 and 150 years aren't really changes in trend. Very funny, Barry, and not a bad example of what the article is about.

    You can also look at Roy Spencer's charts to see the effect. He shows a temperature difference above a 30-year average that goes almost to the present day. Sure, anyone looking at his chart will quickly see that the temperatures in the first half of the period are mostly below average while the temperatures in more recent years are mostly above average. But it still fools some people into downplaying or even dismissing the continuing rise in temperature, as you can see from the comments.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/09/06/uah-global-temperature-up-06c-not-much-change/
  3. Change is just a collection of jerks. Think about how this relieves stress.
  4. Barry Woods - "I am unaware of any sceptic producing a graph that you show that describes how they see global warming."

    Barry, you are mistaken. The graph comes from a true sceptical science blog. (-snip-). Although they were kind enough to email me my forgotten password for a login here (-:)
    Moderator Response: Off-topic snipped.
  5. 6 respondents out of 1133 voted they "Strongly Agreed" the moon landing was fake.

    4 respondents out of 1133 voted they "Agreed" the moon landing was fake.

    65 respondents out of 1133 voted they "Disagreed" the moon landing was fake.

    1058 respondents out of 1133 voted they "Strongly Disagreed" the moon landing was fake.

    Very approximately 150 of the 1133 were likely skeptics.

    Whether 10 out of 1133 total respondents or 10 out of the appx. 150 likely skeptics, there is no equation or process that will show any association whatsoever between the moon landing being fake and skepticism.

    Taking the data as a whole, perhaps you can find some specious link between conspiracy and rejection of climate science. But you cannot then say becasue we find an overall association therefore it is true there is an association between belief the moon landing was fake and climate skepticism.

    The data shows that effectively the entire sample rejects the conspiracy theory the moon landing was fake. Including essentially all the skeptics.
    Moderator Response: Your comment is non sequitur (your conclusions do not follow from your premise you establish). Please reword and resubmit as this comment will be deleted.
  6. I would like to see Professor Lewandowsky provide a link or reference to an actual sceptic blog, or any other reference with produces this graphic that Prof Lewandowsky states is how sceptics see global warming.


    Rather than state this graph produced by Skeptical Science, (a blog that Prof Lewandowsky is associate with), which states this represents 'sceptics' views. As I see no evidence beyond the Skeptical Science blog assertion, that this graph produced by them, represents the majority of sceptics views (or even any minor sceptic blogger) with respect to global warming.

    I also notice the climate realist graph described by Prof Lewandowsky, was simlar to the graph that was originally seen by the IPCC expert reviewers (which also received criticism, by the reviewers)

    But, this 'climate realists' graph was not the graphic used in the IPCC report, a different graph was inserted, which the expert reviewers did not see, the graph with the shorter trend lines. Which is fully documented and critiqued by Dr Paul Matthews, in the link in my first comment.

    With respect to the Climate Realists graph which is credited to Skeptical Science, Is it based/reproduced from any peer-reviewed published climate science literature, or just their own view.

    (lease provide any links if possible)
  7. 4# Skeptical Science produced the garphic, how Skeptic View global warming, as Skeptic Science is a blog debunking climate sceptics, this is just their claim.

    Yet I see no link or reference to any sceptical blog, or graphic that shows any actual sceptic thinks like this or has produced a graph like.

    Thus it is merely a Skeptical Science graphic, with no evidence provided beyond their assertion that this is what sceptics think.
  8. Not only do the lambs leap over each other to the slaughter, they're shown the knife and attempt to suckle on it.

    And even with their lips wrapped around the cold, sharp steel, they still can't fathom their fate.
    Moderator Response: This comment is off-topic and will be deleted unless changed to be meaningful.
  9. Barry, are you seriously trying to say that you've never seen anyone sing out "global warming has stopped" or "there hasn't been any warming since 1998, 2005, 2010"? That's the point of the chart.

    Heck you get even get guest posters (not just commenters) on WUWT claiming that we're on the verge of an ice age and/or the world is about to get cold again. Even some television weather people (and weather forecasters) have been saying for years that 'any day now' the world will start cooling again.
  10. If blink comparator plots from climate activist sites are acceptable here, I think we should bear this one in mind
  11. 9# All I'm saying I'm not aware of any sceptic as having produced a graph like this.. it is a construct of Skeptical Science

    As a more 'lukewarm' person myself, I would, if shown any graph with some short term trend lines drawn on, ask why not add all the short term trend lines, ie both positive and negative rates.. over the timefram shown on that graph.

    ie 30's warming, 80's warming, etc..

    All the trend lines, or none, not selectively

    (like the IPCC did selectively adding lines, but not showing earlier simalar trend lines, with their accerlating graph, which the IPCC reviewers did not see)
    as in the link in 1#

    It is of course of great interest to why over the last 10 years or so temp rises have stalled, paused, or however you want to describe it, and how long this will continue for is obviously of interest.. to sceptics and climate scientists alike. (we should be able to discuss this, without saying it proves/disproves anything, either way)
    Moderator Response:

    Your final statement is a form of snipe hunt as it ignores ocean heat content (where the vast majority of global warming is occurring), and is thus a non-credulous diversion:

    [Source]

    The ability to discuss myriad things on these threads, as long as proximally related to the OP, does not given leave to posting falsehoods and strawman arguments at will. Please desist in that practice.

  12. Once again you've raised a chuckle - I especially like your last paragraph, Barry, (also the fact you want more trend lines drawn on temperature charts but still don't seem to be seeing what's wrong with Dr Matthew's complaint).

    (I'm tempted to call Poe's Law!)
  13. Stephan,

    Thanks for the graph. Does this mean that over the last 40 years the earth has warmed nearly 1 degree centigrade? Frankly that is terrifying.
  14. Sou -

    Ithink you misundertsnd:

    I am saying, not to selectively put trend lines on, to paint a story.

    If as the IPCC does, wish to put some trend lines on (25 yrs, 50 yrs on) then they should put all of the trend lines on in the graph, so all I'm asking for is consistancy

    I will also take a Reader of Mathematics critique, over a few anonymous comments made on the internet, that as far as I'm aware is by someone who no qualifiactions or expertise in maths.. As for chuckling, well the readers can look at the links for themselves.
  15. 13# actually no. the consensus is since 1880 the earth has warmed ~0.8C.

    You may all be aware of the statement limitig emmisions to a 2C global temp target, this is from pre-industrial temps, thus we have 1.2C to go from now.

    Many do seem to think it is an extra 2C from now, when in fact this is not the case, the scientists mean we only have 1.2C to go !

    (which is also why I ask where those graphs come from, as they do not seem to appear in any IPCC literature, easy to misinterpet and as you point out seems to indicate a temp increase of 1C since 1973, perhaps a more appropiate graph -from the literature - could be added)

    Actually I see why you misunderstand this, the graphic is of 'land' temperature, not 'global'....

    perhaps a global temperature graphic could be used, or some comment made in the text, as the Heading of the graph provided by Skeptical Science (not from peer reviewed literature?) states

    'How Climate Realist view Global Warming'
    (yet the data is for land, not global) allowing the mistake to be made from a casual look at the graph)
  16. 11# Moderatin graphic at 11#

    I'm puzzled why you reproduce a graph of Global Ocean Heat content...

    when we are talking about Global Air Temperatures..

    why not show hadcrut?
  17. I was commenting on a graphic which was of Land temps (air), not even 'global' as the heading suggested, and which alarmed comment 13#

    so a little unfair to through ocean temps into the equation..

    though this may be an explanation for the 21st century air temps!

    the 2C target is for air temps, and it is of course plausible, that what has been observed in air temps over the last 10-12 years, could be explained by the heat going into the oceans..

    but I belive your claim of falsehood is unwarranted.
    Moderator Response:

    You focus on a tree and miss the entire oceanic forest:

    So we can agree that your statement, as noted previously, is thus dissembling. Please desist.

  18. 17# oops, typing to fast through = throw

    Am I not correct in comment 15#, if we can agree on somethings, we may be able to discuss things sensibly.
  19. Now some, not Eli to be sure, believe that global ocean heat content is the last refuge of the Pielke.

    BTW, watch the apples and oranges graphology in that one.
  20. Actually, the topics are a) signal vs noise, and b) the role of latent variables.

    To bring back on-track, the BEST chart was used as an illustration of how noise can be used to mask even a strong signal - if you aren't careful. (Worth adding that only looking at land or global surface temperature, although a useful indicator, can mask the totality of change because it doesn't include the energy accumulating in the oceans.)
  21. I think it would be fair, if you could also embed in the comments this official graphic of temperature for the Northern Hemisphere, Sounthern Hemisphere and Global from the Climatic Research Centre, UEA, which reinforces what I was saying about temperature, in the last 12 years.

    (I hesitate to choose a phrase to describe observed temps in the 21st century,as I'm not sure what is aceptable here)

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/_nhshgl.gif

    We are not at odds on this, an explanation for the observed temps from an official source(from UEA) could indeed be what is happening in the oceans..

    This graphic is located on this page, where the official temp datasets are available
    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/

    Hopefully you could embed, this official graphic, as it is from an impeccable source. UEA/CRU and think a more informative that the incorrectly headed graphic, acredited to Skeptical Science (ie states 'global' but plots 'land' tempertures)
  22. What is the meaning of a negative correlation coefficient in this context?
  23. Barry - the chart axis is clearly labelled 'global land temperature anomaly'. (The gif chart labels - How 'Skeptics'/Realists view Global Warming - is completely correct as was demonstrated in this thread.)

    (Ooh, look, a squirrel - or if from my part of the world - a wombat!)
  24. Oh dear: for all those readers drawn here by commentary to the effect that Lewandowsky and his co-authors are idiots with an appalling grasp of science and statistics - "how did this paper ever pass peer review?" - you all seem to be back-pedalling rapidly into desperate "yeah, but what about ... ?" territory. It's pretty to watch.
  25. Eli reads form 990s, what do you do for giggles?
  26. Can Professor Lewandowsky confirm whether he understands that the graphic he posted from Levitus et al 2012 was their estimate of ocean heat content.

    Other estimates vary widely of course.

    The cavalier mixing of measured data with adjusted, estimated and modeled figures has become characteristic of climate science - and is one of the reasons it is so widely mistrusted.

    If the professor really wants to convince those sceptical of climate science by better communication - he could start by asking his climatological colleagues to be more rigorous with their data presentation.
    Moderator Response:

    You conflate estimate with a lack of precision. To be more rigorous, try reading the study; failing that, look at the error bar presentation:

    Please resume discussion of the OP rather than continue following this side-track diversion.

  27. Mrs. Lewandowsky and Oberaurer,

    The sub-title of the paper in question here is "NASA faked the moon landing—Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax".

    From the paper itself and the "we used analysis" defense above, I'm willing to believe that possibly as many as 3.3% (5/150) of climate deniers believe that the moon landing was fake. I further am willing to believe that this is greater than the population at large, or at least greater than the population of climate science blog visitors.

    But the title contains the word "therefore". Can you please post a follow up paper explaining what statistical technics were used to establish that there's causality in the correlation?
  28. Professor Lewandowsky (or whover moderated my last post)

    From Levitus et al 2012 :-


    We provide updated estimates of the change of heat content and the thermosteric component of sea level change of the 0-700 and 0-2000 m layers of the world ocean for 1955-2010.


    Adding error bars to estimates doesn't magically transform them into observed data.
    Moderator Response: Neither is using an abstract as a proxy for the full paper.
  29. Mods.

    I was alluding at #8 to the blithe obliviousness of the previous commenters to the mounting case against their disparagement of LOG12. Perhaps the metaphor is inappropriate for the thread though, so feel free to delete it.
  30. Carrie, it's a joke, intended to convey the paper's finding that -some- people have a tendency to substitute fables for facts and that this fallibility can be found spanning different topics.

    Believe it or not, many people find the elaborate stories spun around climate science to be funny, almost as amusing as the "Moon hoax" narrative. When a slight connection is discovered between the two, the humor potential becomes irresistible.

    Look around and you'll find loads of puns and gags embedded in the titles of scientific publications.

    A few folks are getting their shorts in a painful twist over the title. It's no fun to be laughed at, but at the same time are we taking ourselves too seriously? I wonder how that could be quantified.
  31. @31: I am sorry, Doug, but if the title of the paper was a joke, should we conclude that some of its text might also be a joke? What exactly does the paper state seriously, and how do you differentiate whether a particular part of it (the name of the paper is most definitely a part of it) is serious or is a joke? Thank you.
  32. I've attempted to replicate the factor analysis results reported in the paper and have not been able to do so based on the information available.

    Given the sketchy description of methodology in the paper, I suggest that you place the script for your results online. I've regularly done this and found that it both clarifies methodology for readers and adds to their interest.

    Your assertion that "SEM permits computation of the error-free associations between constructs," is a very bold statement in statistical terms and a script implementing that claim would definitely be worth sharing.
  33. Doug #31,

    If it's a joke, it's a joke with a butt. Does making your "study group" the butt of a joke show some form of bias? Is there room for bias in a scientific study? I'd prefer to think it's not a joke, and that there's reason to express a causal connection. If not, it should be removed.

    For example I am now making the title of this comment:

    (-snip-).

    I have no evidence to make that assertion, but it's a joke, therefore under your regime it would be okay for me to make it the title of a comment that goes on to prove something other than that you are cripple dumb. My only interest is to show specifically that your defense of Lewandowsky's paper is inadequate, that you've possibly expressed something mildly dumb, but that isn't enough to show that you yourself are dumb, let alone cripple dumb. Nevertheless, (-snip-). I haven't done so. Is the title of this comment appropriate? Of course not. See?

    So I'd still be interested in Lewandowsky's defense of his assertion of causality.
    Moderator Response: Inflammatory snipped.
  34. Why would anyone (except perhaps someone who thinks the moon landing was a hoax and accepts climate science) take exception to the title?

    It's light-hearted but, as the paper and the articles here show, it's relevant to the findings. Read the paper and the articles to see the connection.

    Also - just a reminder.
  35. Carrie, humor's a fairly inelastic thing. I can't -make- you think the paper's title is funny, though I find it so.

    I suppose if I were afflicted with inability to speak combined with some physical impairment I'd find your comment title personally offensive. I'm not so unfortunate, so to me it just appears as a sort of colloquial dud.

    But you probably don't believe the Moon landing was a hoax and you probably don't think there's an international plot to control geophysical research so I'm not sure why you find the title of the paper such a problem. Perhaps I'm wrong in my suppositions but I doubt it; statistics overwhelmingly suggest you're in tune with reality.

    Has anybody noticed a specific person complaining they believe the Moon landing was a hoax and that geophysics is warped by a government plot, thus feeling insulted by the paper's title? Nobody seems to take ownership of that problem, in public anyway.
  36. I find it interesting to note that there is no factual basis provided for the suggestion that people are looking at your data using Excel. The only people I am aware of looking at your data and trying to replicate the methods describe in your paper are using R. I know I am. As you know "Debate on, and criticism of, research work are essential parts of the research process." And you further know that "All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that published reports, statistics and public statements about research activities and performance are complete, accurate and unambiguous."
    Given that, it would seem that the debate people are having about the methods used could best be clarified by posting the computer programs used. As it stands your description in the paper and your description here is not complete or unambiguous. Were it complete, were it unambiguous, replication would be easy. Having replicated the work the work of GISS and CRU from their manuscripts, I have a fair notion of what constitutes an adequate unambiguous description of a method. In order to further debate on and criticism of research, I would think posting the code would be a reasonable to step to ensure that your description is complete and unambiguous.
    A) its reasonable
    B) nothing could be more complete
    C) nothing would be unambiguous.

    In short, debate and criticism are central to research. You have an obligation to ensure that your description is complete and unambiguous. Ambiguity exists, you have a reasonable path to resolve those ambiguities
  37. Nobody's biting, Brad. Maybe try one of those little bright green rubber squids, with a nickel-plate spoon?
  38. Sou,

    "Why would anyone (except perhaps someone who thinks the moon landing was a hoax and accepts climate science) take exception to the title?"

    You could find out if you asked me, but it sounds like instead you've just assumed it must be because of x and y. Sciencey :)

    Or maybe the question wasn't rhetorical: I take exception to the title because I think the title was designed to *imply* something that wasn't remotely shown in the paper, and even if you take the title at completely literal face value, leaving the implication aside, I believe it still asserted something that wasn't proved by the paper. In other words I take exception to the title because no matter how you interpret it, it's factually inaccurate. No one has ever said "I know the climate science is fake because the moon landing was faked". At least not as far as Lewandowsky has shown, unless I'm missing something. And as far as the implication, Lewandowsky's data shows that if you happen upon a random climate skeptic in the street, your default assumption should be that he DOESN'T believe in any conspiracy theories, and certainly not that he thinks the moonlanding was faked (by far the least commonly believed conspiracy theory according to Lewandowsky's data).

    re the reminder, ha ha, yeah, I assume my comment will be snipped. It should be. As should Lewandowsky's humorously insulting paper title unless it can be shown to indicate something factual.
  39. @Carrie - you seem to be making the same mistake lots of people are making. You have things back-to-front.

    The point made by the research is that if you meet a conspiracy theorist in the street the chances are they will reject a lot of science, including climate science. And if you meet an extreme right wing ideologue the chances are even higher that they will reject climate science in particular, but they may accept a lot of other science.

    However if you meet someone who rejects climate science, it doesn't necessarily follow that they are a wacky conspiracy theorist.
  40. @Carrie - I just re-read your post where you write "And as far as the implication ..." etc and it looks as if you have the findings of the paper the right way around. Which raises the question - why do you have such a problem with the title (which is the same way around as the paper's findings)?
  41. Carrie, taking the literal course you're following...

    Our anecdotal evidence is that in order to help explain away AGW, numerous people integrate various permutations of collaboration between scientists, civil servants, alternative energy vendors and environmentalists into hazy notions of plans even in extreme cases conspiracies.

    Prof. Lindzen of MIT is an excellent example of this; Lindzen frequently refers to an undercurrent of governmental power-grabbing as a chief reason for the emergence of AGW as a public policy matter, as well as mentioning environmentalists acting in concert with government.

    Lewandowsky (and his coauthors-- there's an obsessive focus on Lewandowsky here which is puzzling) has taken an approach to formalizing our anecdotes; the paper shows a connection between "conspiracist ideation" and -some- cognitive responses to climate change. They find that hypothesizing conspiracies is -sometimes- a substitute for other styles of cognition with regard to AGW and particularly rejection of mainstream science as it pertains to AGW. As Lewandowsky and Oberauer say above:

    Now you know why the title of our paper was “NASA faked the moon landing—Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science.” We put the "(climate)" in parentheses before "science" because the association between conspiracist ideation and rejection of science was greater for the other sciences than for climate science.

    It's really not very complicated, the title, and though it's funny it's also not very outlandish.
  42. Steve McIntyre,

    the hypothesis being tested by Lewandowsky et al is that a predisposition to believe conspiracy theories predicts rejection of science, and climate science in particular.

    Would you regard the implication made on your blog that Lewandowsky was not being truthful in contacting "sceptic" blogs as supporting evidence for this hypothesis?

    Further, would you regard the accusations that Cook and Lewandowsky blocked your IP address as additional supporting evidence?
  43. Brad, I take it from your comment and question that you haven't yet read the paper or Prof Lewandowsky's articles. Do that first.
  44. Brad: So the research was not about how climate "skeptics" think after all? It was about how conspiracy theorists think?

    Sometimes there's no border between how "climate skeptics" think and how "conspiracy theorists" think. So-called "climate skeptics" have a =slight= tendency above the average bear to be conspiracy theorists.

    Amazing what a lather we can get into over such an unremarkable thing. There are myriads of "climate skeptics" who don't refer to conspiracies to explain reality but for some reason many of those are sucked into this non-controversy. A shocking waste of credibility, says this concern troll.
  45. Actually, "Lewandowsky" is three people, if we want to be formal about it. Just count the authors on the paper: "1, 2, 3."

    Meanwhile, take a look at McAhab's site if you want to explore meta-conspiracies.
  46. Brad Keyes @49 - What Doug B said @51.

    Also re your 25 and 39, remember that the hypothesis was that a prediliction for belief in conspiracies *in general* predicted rejection of science, *not* that belief in particular climate related conspiracies predicted which side of the climate debate people sat. On that one, it's self evident.

    Mind you, a read of the paranoia dripping threads at CA also makes the Lewandowsky outcome pretty self evident too. And a read of the Watts threads brings ample anecdotal evidence too - which, incidentally a master comedic writer couldn't top.
  47. Leaving aside the strange remark about Lewandowsky's research focus, Brad's "He's interested in the 50% of the population that doesn't worry about climate change" is not accurate regarding public perceptions of climate change.

    Unfortunately it does not cover the entire globe, but Maibach's ongoing "Six Americas" longitudinal survey exposes the myriad of complications belying Brad's statistic. Well worth a look, regardless of your position.

    Global Warming’s Six Americas In March 2012 and November 2011
  48. Brad Keyes @54

    No, you may be right that McI himself doesn't explicitly reject the overall science. Those on his threads sure do tough
  49. Brad, what I've read is that among developed nations America is an outlier with regard to public perceptions of climate change in the sense that our "doubtful" and "dismissive" component is larger than elsewhere. Combine that w/the Six Americas finding that a minority of Americans actually -are- in the "doubtful" and "dismissive" category (~25% total) and it seems likely your 50% conjecture is erroneous, particularly when we see that the Maibach's "cautious" population covers a spectrum of belief centered on "global warming is a problem."
  50. Go back to the paper, Brad. The discussion of conspiracy ideation and science rejection starts at the bottom of page 4.

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