An update on my birth certificates

By Stephan Lewandowsky
Professor, School of Experimental Psychology and Cabot Institute, University of Bristol
Posted on 7 September 2012
Filed under Cognition

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

First, a world-renowned expert on the peer-review process asked me to release the names of the people who reviewed my paper. I will leave it up to the commenters below to explain why I couldn't possibly conform to that request.

Another, more modest, request was as follows:

“It is my understanding that there were two and possibly three different forms of the survey sent out to Blog Sites:

Survey ID=HKMKNF_991e2415

Survey ID=HKMKNG_ee191483

Survey ID=HKMKNI_9a13984

Are you able to confirm that 3 different instruments were used in your survey and, if that is the case, could you provide me with the different copies and indicate the reason they were used.”

I laud the stirring dedication to investigative Googling. Alas, this highly relevant detective work is far from perfect.

If I am not mistaken, I can indeed confirm that there were 4—not 3—versions of the survey (unless that was the number of my birth certificates, I am never quite sure, so many numbers to keep track of… Mr. McIntyre’s dog misplaced an email under a pastrami sandwich a mere 8.9253077595543363 days ago, and I have grown at least one tail and several new horns over the last few days, all of which are frightfully independent and hard to keep track of).

Versiongate!

Finally this new friend from Conspirania is getting some legs.

About time, too, I was getting lonely.

Astute readers will have noted that if the Survey ID’s from above are vertically concatenated and then viewed backwards at 33 rpm, they read “Mitt Romney was born in North Korea.”

To understand the relevance of Mr Romney’s place of birth requires a secret code word. This code word, provided below, ought to be committed to memory before burning this post.

So here it is, the secret code. Read it backwards:  gnicnalabretnuoc.

Translations are available in any textbook for Methodology 101.

Bookmark and Share

214 Comments


1  2  3  4  5  Next

Comments 1 to 50 out of 211:

  1. So you'd still rather play games than just be upfront and open. As I said on the other thread, how very professional of you. Versiongate? No. Sorry, that one won't stick. Lewpapergate is the one that's catching on fast. H/t Foxgoose @ Bishop Hill. ;)
  2. Ok I decode now that you say that the different surveys are part of a counterbalancing procedure.

    I find a deescription of "counterbalancing" that says:

    wording a test so that an affirmative answer is scored in the direction of the attribute being measured in half of the questions and in the opposite direction in the rest


    This implies counterbalancing *within* the scope of a single survey but I don't doubt there are other types of counterbalancing methods. For instance from what I know of from archives found for these two surveys:

    survey ID=HKMKNF_991e2415
    Survey ID=HKMKNI_9a13984


    They have pages of questions appearing in different orders.


    This isn't mentioned in the paper is this an oversight? Or is it automatically assumed to be happening on surveys like this?

    Now I think in chemistry it doesn't think it matter if you pick up the pippette before the test tube before mixing but it does often matter which order chemicals are mixed.

    I hear that there is a similar phenomena in psychological studies - where the order of questioning is likely to effect the outcome.

    If there were randomising of surveys then the samples they randomised over would have to be quite large wouldn't they?

    If there was a system of randomised surveys used don't you think it should have been mentioned in the Method section of the paper?

    I think we know that Steve McIntyre and the JunkScience site were offered one flavour of survey so I would assume that the other skeptic sites were at least offered the others to mix this up. Is this what happened? This seems a hard to manage randomising technique that can't be controlled for. Were attempts made to control for balancing the counterbalancing over the cohorts* of "pro-science" and "skeptic" targets?

    *Apologies if I am using the wrong meaning of cohort, I am new to both epidemiology and pyschology! :)
    Moderator Response: You are basically spot on. We used different question orders in different versions of the survey, distributing the different links across blogs in a quasi-random manner. This practice is so standard that we did not explicitly mention it in a Method section for a paper that had to fit within 4000 words.
  3. Another sensible question was, what about the data from the Junk Science survey

    or did the allready mentioned proverbial dog eat it.

    As you claimed 5 blogs rejected it. Junkscience did not.

    Or was this a mystery 6th blog contacted, not one of the 5.
    Who knows, because Prof Lewandowsky insists on playing games.

    Perhaps the approach of ignoring questions, being rude to Mcintyre and playing silly games works in academia. But away from the ivory towers it just seems unprofessional.

    And eventually enough people decide to keep asking questions, despite, or because of the various tactics of being rude or diversionary. So it would seem rather counterproductive.

    (snip)
    Moderator Response: Part of this comment has been snipped due to violation of 'No inflammatory tone' part of our Comments Policy.
  4. Ok that explains it. Counterbalancing (i.e., reordering the questions) on a questionnaire like this would be standard procedure. The idea is that if there are any question order effects that they average out over the different orders. This type of procedure would be assumed unless reported otherwise, which explains why it wasn't included in the method. For a journal like Psychological Science which publishes only short papers, any standard methods would be omitted in the interest of efficient presentation. This journal practice is also standard across most scientific journals.

    So I hope that helps, but i have to say as a casual obsever I find the behavior of most of the commentators on this blog to be deplorable. I won't be surprised if it doesn't.
    Moderator Response: Spot on, thanks.
  5. (snip)
    Moderator Response: Part of this comment has been snipped due to violation of 'No inflammatory tone. No off-topic' part of our Comments Policy.
  6. 4. gm at 18:34 PM on 7 September, 2012
    The idea is that if there are any question order effects that they average out over the different orders.

    That implies some automated system is required to provide a great variation of different page order randomly each time the link was clicked doesn’t it?

    However I don’t see any Page Randomization capability offered by the Kwik Surveys tool. It appears that you can only randomise answer and/or question order within a page, but not page ordering.

    If the study tried to get round this limitation by creating only 4 different surveys with a different page ordering on each, then it would seem that whole blogs sites had access to only one flavour of survey each, does that not need factoring in and a mention in the Method?

    This brings me back to an important point Stephan raised in a previous post:
    One might therefore presume that attention would focus on those blogs that provided entry points to the survey, not those that did not, because it is entirely unclear how the latter might contribute to the results of the survey.

    The entry point is important to which survey? The entry point funnels people through the survey, the surveys differ by page order of question therefore this seems a problem that may have been overlooked.

    I concede that if the Kwik Surveys used automated page ordering on a “per-click” basis then in that case this would not be an issue. Otherwise counterbalancing seems to be poorly handled and documented.
  7. Morning Professor!

    (-snip-)
    Moderator Response: Part of this comment has been snipped due to violation of 'No inflammatory tone, no off-topic' parts of our Comments Policy.
  8. I'd like to thank Stephan for facilitating here.

    But most of all I'd like to thank our skeptic friends for providing the material in undoubtedly the most enjoyable thread ever in the climate blog wars.

    To quote the psychiatrist from Fawlty Towers, "there's enough material in here for an entire conference"
  9. I love the idea that interrogating research amounts to 'conspiracy theorising'.

    It amounts to: 'Anyone who disagrees with me is a conspiracy theorist', or 'anyone who thinks my research is opaque, and my method flawed is a conspiracy theorist'.

    It is graceless, and raising the tone does nothing to answer the observation that there are problems with the design and execution of your research. (snip)

    That's not a conspiracy theory. In the same way, someone telling me that 2+2=5 is not a conspiracy -- it either means they're not very good at arithmetic, or they're deliberately picking a fight they're bound to lose.

    (-snip-)
    Moderator Response: Part of this comment has been snipped due to violation of 'No accusations of deception' part of our Comments Policy.
  10. Ben Pile @9,

    You tell it like it is, Ben! I mean, nobody has accused Prof. Lewandowsky and his colleagues of deliberately excluding data and manipulating survey questions so they could come to a predetermined conclusion, have they? (Shut up and get back into the attic, Foxgoose and Barry Woods!)

    The fact is that the Professor's survey must be wrong, because it's ridiculous to suppose that people who believe climate change conspiracy theories would be more likely to believe other conspiracy theories. I mean, can he name a single prominent example that would have led him to form this hypothesis in the first place? (Wait! It's no fair pointing out that Christopher Monckton has gone around pushing climate change conspiracy theories, and now is making the rounds of the Birther circuit. Who listens to him? Ok, so maybe he has been asked to testify before the US Congress several times, and Rep. Joe Barton called him "one of the most knowledgeable, if not the most knowledgeable, experts from a skeptical point of view." But Monckton has invented a miracle cure-all, after all, and Obama really was born in Kenya, wasn't he?)
  11. BB@9 - "The fact is that the Professor's survey must be wrong, because it's ridiculous to suppose that people who believe climate change conspiracy theories would be more likely to believe other conspiracy theories."

    I think it's been established that there is little evidence -- even in SL's own data -- that there is anything special about climate scepticism and conspiracy theories, particular to climate scepticism. And it has been observed that the survey didn't test for the conspiracy theories that environmentalists are equally seemingly prone to.

    The point then, which nobody is making, is *not* that 'it's ridiculous to suppose that people who believe climate change conspiracy theories would be more likely to believe other conspiracy theories.'

    The point is that SL's work does not show it.

    If you think that scepticism begins and ends with Monckton, then you raise Monckton's profile, and you get the political opponent you deserve.
  12. Thanks Stephen. These threads are great fun to read and your good humour is admirable. I look forward to reading your paper when it comes out too.
  13. Apologies for misspelling your name in my last comment Stephan.
  14. Oh, I totally agree with you, Ben Pile @11. I mean, Lewandowsky and co. should have given just as many "left-leaning" conspiracy theories as "right-leaning ones". Ok, someone could object that most of the ones they did include in the survey weren't related to a particular ideology in any straightforward way, but everyone knows that only right-wingers believe that Diana was assassinated by the Royals, Area 51 is an alien cover-up, the US government staged 9-11 to provide an excuse for warmongering, Neo-Nazis helped Timothy McVeigh, Lee Harvey Oswald didn't act alone, and the US government had Martin Luther King assassinated. So Lewandowsky's results were just restating the obvious, after all.

    What's more, you're absolutely right that it's the "alarmists'" fault that Monckton has a high profile among "climate skeptics". In fact, those darned alarmists are probably the ones who drugged Joe Barton and brainwashed him into inviting Monckton to testify before Congress multiple times. So the fact that Monckton promotes all kinds of nutty conspiracy theories (and has developed a miracle cure-all, and pretends to be a member of Parliament!) has nothing to the rest of the skeptic community. I'm sure the skeptical luminaries are just about to come out with some strong statements about how Monckton does not represent their views, and how it's a total coincidence that Anthony Watts keeps posting articles by Monckton on his blog, and Dick Lindzen keeps appearing on panels with Monckton, and so on, and so forth.

    In fact, I bet YOU were just about to say that you aren't impressed by Monckton, and that the other climate skeptics should publicly disavow him, too. Go ahead....
  15. Oh God, the poor souls just can't help themselves. Do they have any idea how completely ridiculous and desperate they look? This thread suggests no.

    This was amusing for a while, but the faux skeptics are now just getting too silly for those of us inhabiting the real world.
  16. BarryB's sarcasm obscures any possible point he makes. Perhaps that is the point -- sarcasm without any real object, to create the effect that something meaningful, or perhaps even devastating, has been said. In the same way, SL has able critics in his own putative camp at sKs, but he prefers to write rebuttals to cartoon criticisms -- which don't actually seem to owe much to what has been said by his critics.

    The point stands then, that any attempt to gauge a group's vulnerability to conspiracy theories must be careful not to reflect the researcher's prejudices -- i.e. in the selection of conspiracy theories. And these have been discussed. The 'oil-funded denial machine' being my favourite, and one which wasn't simply promoted by fringe activists online, but by the then president of the UK's Royal Society, and various Secretary's of State.

    Whereas 9/11 and Diana conspiracy theories might, after some sociology, be found to reside in the heads of isolated individuals or perhaps alienated and marginalised groups, conspiracy theories about the failure of political environmentalism are advanced in broadsheet media, and by public intellectuals and social commentators. I've never noticed a right wing dimension to the 9/11 'truthers'; having first come across such arguments coming from Michael Moore. As for UFO conspiracy theories; although they have popular cultural appeal, and are a jolly good for a giggle about stupid rednecks (ha ha ha) I haven't seen any compelling evidence that it's a theory which holds the attention of a significant number of people, to any significant material effect.

    I don't see any need to 'disavow' Monckton, since we have different ideas about the science and politics of the debate.

    My thoughts on Monckton, and how he is made and elevated by his opponents are here - http://www.climate-resistance.org/2011/02/mythologising-monckton.html
    Moderator Response: Part of this comment has been snipped due to violation of the 'No ad hominem attacks' part of our Comments Policy.
  17. (-snip-)
    ---------------

    Pretty obvious who the conspirators (-snip-)are.
    Moderator Response: Part of this comment has been snipped due to violation of 'No extensive copying and pasting; no ad hominem' parts of our Comments Policy.
  18. #17 thomaswfuller
    I think you are remiss by not posting the different iterations of the survey online, labelled by which blog fed them.
    It would also be useful to label the responses with the blog on which they replied. Sceptical responses and pro-conspiracy responses seem to cluster at certain points in the list. Assuming that responses from a particular blog are all listed together, this might indicate that sceptics and/or conspiracists might be coming from particular blogs.
    It would also be handy to have a definitive list of the blogs used. In the paper you mention eight, but mentions of the survey were only found at six. Of the other two, Trunity seems to be dormant, and at SkepticalScience, John Cook informs me that he can find the email correspondence about the survey, but not the blog posting, which has apparently been deleted and does not appear on the Wayback machine.

    The more one looks, the more lacunae and methodological errors one finds. It’s just about credible to fish for sceptics at anti-sceptic blogs (much as you might look for Moslem activists at Zionist blogs). But testing for pro- or anti-science attitudes against scepticism on anti-sceptic, “pro-science” blogs is frankly bizarre. Even if you had found credible statistically significant results (which is what is being questioned on most sceptical blogs) there is no way they could have been generalised to any other group outside the eccentric little coterie of people who answered the questionnaire.
  19. Ben Pile @16,

    Your last post wasn't silly, at least, so I'll be serious in my reply.

    Prof. Lewandowsky's research design included conspiracy theories about climate change and a bunch of other topics that, for the most part, aren't so easy to pigeonhole as appealing to a certain political ideology. There is no obvious reason, as far as I can tell, why political ideology would play into beliefs about aliens, and so on. There were some that might appeal to one side or the other, but it seemed like they were pretty balanced. E.g., the New World Order conspiracy obviously would appeal to the extreme right, but I would think the JFK and MLK assassination plot theories would appeal more to the extreme left.

    More importantly, none of the other conspiracy theories really had anything to do with environmental issues. If you want to design a study to find out if there is a connection between conspiracist ideation in one realm (climate change is a hoax) and conspiracist ideation in general, you have to compare the climate change results to questions about seemingly unrelated conspiracy theories. So unless you have some argument for why the other conspiracy theories discussed were weighted toward the right, you don't have any case to reject the results on the basis that no other environmental conspiracy theories were mentioned.

    As for Monckton, I appreciated the article you linked. But honestly, if I were on your side of the climate change fence, and I saw members of Congress repeatedly asking Monckton, of all people, to testify for their side, I would be livid. I would be contacting my representatives and saying, "Can we please restrict ourselves to witnesses with some credibility in the area, and who doesn't pretend to be a member of Parliament?" I would definitely not restrict myself to mentioning on a few blogs that "I don't happen to find Monckton's arguments convincing, but I see no reason to disavow him."

    It seems a bit disingenuous to me that you (and many others) will complain that climate realists focus so much on Monckton, when WE aren't the ones who invited him to testify before Congress, invited him to speak at every single Heartland conference, posted his ramblings on the most popular contrarian blog (WUWT), and so on. You're quite right when you say that the other side is gleefully attacking Monckton instead of focusing on contrarians who have less dodgy arguments. But if you guys set a loon like that up as one of your most prominent spokesmen, you deserve whatever you get. The fact that you complain about us focusing on Monckton, while not making any significant effort to diminish his influence, tells me that you want to give Monckton free rein to convince whatever rubes will listen, but still insist that the other side politely ignore him.

    Just look at what happened when a Republican congressman recently made headlines by opining that women can magically shut down their reproductive processes when they are "legitimately raped". The Republican Party bosses asked him to step down from the race. I appreciated this, because I'm a Republican, and I don't want to be associated with that. We have enough trouble with crackpots already.
  20. thomaswfuller and several others make completely relevant comments and observations. They deserve a response from Mr. Lewandowsky.

    It is not standard to create a couple different versions of a survey. Randomization/counterbalancing is part of a proper survey approach, but is more complex than simply doing a few different version of the survey. And KwikSurvey does offer randomization and a number of other tools in their paid version, which would be the proper way to accomplish this goal.

    The method used and the actual different survey forms (question order) should be provided. As should the referring sources for the data.

    What is truly unfortunate is that Mr. Lewandowsky makes conclusions that smear skeptics of global warming, while acknowledging that NO skeptic sites actually participated ('none of the 5 skeptic site replied').

    Mr. Lewandowsky, please respond on how you can draw such conclusions about global warming skeptics, when essentially all of the data, by your own admission, was collected thru AGW proponent sites, many of which actively delete and/or ridicule dissent?
  21. A. Scott @21,

    I'm one of the blog proprietors who participated, and I can testify that the only people I shoo off my blog are the ones that either can't stop with the abusive/threatening/profane language, or who just can't move on from their pet conspiracy theory for which they offer no credible evidence. That is, I usually only boot off people who are bona fide nutters. The contrarians that are left don't seem so bad to me, even if I disagree with them.

    Supposing the other blog proprietors have similar policies to mine, I would suspect that the Professor would have gotten MORE nutty respondents by linking someplace like WUWT. Watts lets conspiracy theorists make blog posts, not just comments, at his site.
  22. BarryB ... had never been to your blog, so I visited. With your "About" statement beginning thusly:

    "I’ve recently been involved with other scientists and scholars in Utah trying to stop the spread of outright lies, half-truths, abuses of data, and distortions about climate change."

    Do you really believe respondents from your site provide a remotely credible sampling of "skeptic" views, and second, just how many total "skeptic" responses do you think you site might have generated for the survey?

    (-snip-)

    Various commentary has noted that Mr. Lewandowsky was speaking publicly about findings, including if I recall N=1100 of so numbers - essentially the totality of all responses according to the paper, days before the offer allegedly went out to those "5" skeptic sites - none of whom he, incorrectly it seems, claims responded.

    The appearance at least is he obtained the data he wanted, thru the cooperation of the 8 "pro-science" sites. He then made what appears to be a very limited, token attempt, with no effort at followup, after he he had already received over a thousand responses thru pro-science sites.

    (-snip-)

    Mr. Lewandowsky as far as I can see has responded to the legitimate questions by posts like this - largely including ridicule, rather than by simply answering the straightforward questions from those like thomasfuller etc.

    (-snip-)
    Moderator Response: Parts of this comment has been snipped due to violation of the 'No accusations of deception' part of our Comments Policy.
  23. @ 22. Barry Bickmore
    I would suspect that the Professor would have gotten MORE nutty respondents by linking someplace like WUWT.

    I also note a similar quote from you on your blog:
    Is it really such a stretch to suppose there is “some sort of relationship” between conspiracy theorists and climate change contrarians?

    This seems to be a prevalent feeling amongst passionate defenders of climate science judging from similar repsonses to the study I have seen stated on SkS, sampled below:
    The findings of this survey fall into the category of 'blindingly obvious'.

    Face it. Lewandowsky's survey just stated the obvious.

    The study findings should not be surprising to anyone...

    I read the Lewandowsky paper and it looks pretty typical to me. The conclusions are not surprising.

    The study itself says this about its significance:
    However, to our knowledge, our results are the first to provide empirical evidence for the correlation between a general construct of conspiracist ideation and the general tendency to reject well-founded science.

    My emphasis above.

    From this I can see there is a lot of prior emotional investment riding on this *first* study that will reify what has been just an instinctual feeling in so many passionate people for so long, and so can understand the reluctance to engage any of the real criticism and the preference to dismiss it as an example of what the study was trying to prove.


    I suspect the journal will plough ahead and the study will get published nonetheless - it may even retain the title.

    But aren't you worried that the lack of criticism from the very people with the highest emtional investement in its success just devalues its worth? I would say this isn't science it is emotional need in journal form.

    Good luck when waving this in peoples faces later on ;)
  24. A. Scott @23,

    I don't know whether the contrarians who hang around my blog (and there are a number) are "representative" of those who hang around climate-centric blogs, in general. I guess we would have found out if McIntyre and whoever else had posted a link. (Someone mentioned that JunkScience had posted a link, but there was a statement with the link that would have discouraged anyone from doing it.) All I can say is that the nuttiness of the contrarians who hang around on my site PALES in comparison to that displayed on some sites like WUWT.

    In any case, what does the statement you quoted from my blog have to do with your question? The fact is that a number of people who disagree with my views regularly post on my blog. Would a statement like mine scare off everyone but the nutters? I have no idea, but the fact is that I shoo off the real basket cases, and WUWT commenters and posters are WAY more nutty, in my opinion.

    It's pretty easy to point out POTENTIAL problems in studies like this. Why not take it a step further and provide evidence that things like this really did bias the results?
  25. @2
    Moderator Response: You are basically spot on. We used different question orders in different versions of the survey, distributing the different links across blogs in a quasi-random manner. This practice is so standard that we did not explicitly mention it in a Method section for a paper that had to fit within 4000 words.


    Thanks for responding to my post @2. Although you must understand mine (and others) point about the coarseness of the counterbalancing technique remains. 4 different surveys offering single entry points across 8 blogs doesn't strike me as a well controlled way to implement this. Could you tell us if the supplemental material explains this in more detail, i.e. is there a record of which survey version is associated with each response? And is the supplemental material available for access yet?

    Perhaps the 15 words expended mentioning the unimportant omission of skeptic blogs would have been better used towards mentioning the use of the counterbalancing technique of varying 4 versions of the survey split across the 8 blogs? ;)
  26. tlitb1 @24,

    I admit that when I read something that doesn't surprise me in the least, my first inclination is not to go on a massive hunt for problems. People are like that.

    But at least I can say for myself that I'm more than willing to let others (like you guys) take a crack at it, if you feel so inclined, and listen to what you have to say. Some of the questions that have been posed here are reasonable, but they would take a lot more work to answer, or are impossible to answer. Many of the questions could have been answered by reading the paper. Many of them reveal only that the questioners have no idea how this kind of research is done. Some are downright nutty, and reinforce the conclusions of the paper.

    Therefore, I see no reason to change my mind from my original impression, and it's good fun to see people launch conspiracy theories about how they were unfairly characterized as conspiracy theorists.
  27. BarryB @20 - "Prof. Lewandowsky's research design included conspiracy theories about..."

    My criticism was not about what SL *included*, but what he omitted. As I explained, there do seem to be conspiracy theories that environmentalists are vulnerable to, but which have been ignored by climate change psychologists like SL, Adam Corner at Cardiff, and Krosnik amongst others. They seem interested in diminishing their political opponents' cognitive functions. I suggested that there were conspiracy theories particular to environmentalism -- part of its mythology, perhaps, and certainly part of its' broader 'ideology' in its proper, broader and softer sense than you've used it -- which clearly has a material effect on the political debate.

    "... unless you have some argument for why the other conspiracy theories discussed were weighted toward the right..."

    Not my argument. It was yours: "... should have given just as many "left-leaning" conspiracy theories as "right-leaning ones"." And as has been revealed over at sKs, the numbers do not reveal any significant adherence to conspiracy theories in sceptics. Yet we know that green conspiracies persist.

    If you read a few more posts on my blog, you'll find that I don't think the climate debate divides on left/right grounds, and that these are empty categories in any case. This is a point I've made to climate change psychologists such as Corner, and to Chris Mooney, who do want to sustain the idea that there is a left/right dimension to the debate, and that this can be understood by cognitive science. Mooney even suggests there may be a genetic component, and that people of different political perspectives have different 'wiring'. If climate sceptics are conspiracy theorists, the fantasy that seems to afflict their counterparts is straight out of some corny science fiction novel.

    Whatever, the phenomenon of positivism's apparent revival in the social and human sciences is far more interesting than what the occasional sceptic thinks, and why they get it wrong.

    "...if I were on your side of the climate change fence,..."

    If you really were, you'd know that my argument is that the mythology of the debate precedes it. The division into sides, for instance, gives the debate its geometry. But this causes people to misunderstand, or completely overlook the actual substance of the arguments being made.

    (-snip-)
    Moderator Response: Part of this comment has been snipped due to violation of 'No ad hominem' part of our Comments Policy.
  28. Barry,
    I'm sure the skeptical luminaries are just about to come out with some strong statements about how Monckton does not represent their views,

    When at last we learn who the 5 "skeptics" are we'll also learn whether any of the skeptic luminaries have criticized Monckton. As things stand, it seems that while Lewandowsky finds room inside the privacy requirements to quote the contents of the sois-dissant private emails so they can be quoted at Climate Progress, the privacy policy doesn't permit him to say who the five bloggers are. Consequently, I remain in the dark as to whether I am one of the five bloggers. But I believe you are well aware that I have certainly criticized Monckton and my readers are well aware he does not represent my views.

    to see people launch conspiracy theories

    Since you seem to know what conspiracy theory Stephan is alluding to could you help me out? Could you describe the conspiracy some are supposedly theorizing? Because I'm mystified. For example, I would like to know

    Who is supposed to have been involved in the conspiracy? By definition, a conspiracy involves more than 1 person. So... could you tell me who is supposedly involved?

    What where these people conspiring to do? Merely publishing incompetent research is generally not something people call a conspiracy theory.

    Who supposedly believes this particular conspiracy theory? Can you post links to it showing that anyone believes that groups of people conspired to do that particular thing?

    Because quite honestly, this (-snip-) has been discussed at length at my blog and I haven't read any conspiracy theories!

    (-snip->

    (-snip-) you would realize that the reasons for sending out random surveys have been discussed at blogs and your method of implementing it criticized. It would make sense to create a four surveys and then create a random number generator assigned each visitor a different survey without regard to which blog they came from. But instead, it appears you designed a system whereby every single person arriving from Blog A got a specific survey while those arriving from Blog B got a different one. Whatever order effects might exist in the survey would be aggravated, not corrected, by your design.

    (snip)

    There is also the difficulty that it appears your graduate student sent invitations to Steve McIntyre after the first surveys has already been disseminated and discussed at Skeptical Science. This cannot be a good practice. There are other difficulties.


    The fact that your paper does not fully describe the methodology may have obscured these boners from the peer reviewers, but perhaps not. After all, it seems to have taken nearly 2 years for a paper analyzing a very small amount of data to be published. So, who knows?

    (-snip-)

    For example:
    Another objection might raise the possibility that our respondents willfully accentuated their replies in order to subvert our presumed intentions. As in most behavioral research, this possibility cannot be ruled out. However, unless a substantial subset of the more than 1,000 respondents conspired to coordinate their responses, any individual accentuation or provocation would only have injected more noise into our data.


    (-snip-)

    I don't think something that could be accomplished by 1 person could be said to require "a substantial subset of the more than 1,000 respondents" to conspire (to use your word) or even coordinate anything to pervert your result. (-snip-)

    (-snip-)

    The only way for you to demonstrate that anonymous proxies were not used to pervert your results is to release all the IPS and let people who know how to check the list of anonymous proxies that existed back in August-Oct 2010 check the IP. I suspect both releasing the IPs and checking the list of proxies is impossible at this point. But the fact that it can no longer be done does not erase this obvious flaw.

    You should have used a survey company that blocked anonymous proxies or required email registration or something to protect against voting using anonymous proxies.


    (-snip-)

    As fare as I can see people are criticizing your survey and interpretation as incompetent.

    They would like you to fully describe your methodology. Some bloggers would like to know if they happened to be the ones you contacted and they are asking you to reveal those blogs so they can know whether they were involved. I have no idea why you have jumped to the conclusion that criticism of your methodology or interpretation or natural curiosity are evidence that one thinks you have conspired with ... uhm.. who? Yourself? (That's not a conspiracy.) To do... what? Poor research? (That would be an odd thing to 'conspire' to do.)

    (-snip-)


    As for this,
    I know how difficult it is to locate individual emails among thousands received in a year, and a double check may therefore be quite prudent.


    If you did email me, I don't remember your doing so. I don't feel any need to apologize for saying that: I don't know why I would remember such a thing and I said I don't remember your doing it.

    As to your suggestion I search my email: my hard drive crashed in 2011. I managed to get important stuff off -- but I would never have considered an email from you important. I certainly wouldn't have considered an email inviting me to promote your survey in my blogger capacity private. Depending on my mood, I might have posted it, made fun of the questions (-snip-) Or.. not.

    And even if you think it would be "prudent" for all unnamed climate blogs who don't remember getting an email to scurry to their search functions to spare you the effort of naming the 5 blogs you invited, there are reasons why this might be difficult for some people. It is for me. That is why my response has been to say

    1) I don't remember.
    2) I did not check my email but am going on memory
    3) I have granted you permission to state whether I was one of the bloggers and
    4) I stated that do not give you my permission to conceal whether I was one of the blogs.

    I have encouraged others to also grant you permission to reveal them. I'm a bit taken aback that you claim you would love to reveal the names and yet jump to the conclusion that people who also wish you to reveal this information and who take steps to make it easier for you to reveal this information are somehow caught up in some sort of "conspiracy theory".

    No: People are trying to give you permission to do something you say you want to do but which you claim you do not have permission to do.

    I know currently, there is still a possibility that you will be refused permission to reveal which blogs you invited. However, since Joe Romm quotes the contents from the posts-- citing you as the source-- it appears you can quote from the emails. So, if you fail to obtain permission release the names of the blogs, why don't you just post the contents of those emails? Knowing the full contents would surely help the skeptical blogs identify the proper search terms that might dredge up the emails. Otherwise, it's a bit silly for you to expect people to search for emails without knowing what names or words to enter into our search tools.

    Or better yet, you could spare us the wait and just reveal the contents of the emails-- as that seems to be permitted by your privacy policy. Then we will all be better informed and we don't need to worry about the views of your review board.
    Moderator Response: Parts of this comment has been snipped because they openly explain how to commit fraud. Parts has been snipped due to inflammatory tone.
  29. James In Footscray at 10:15 AM on 8 September, 2012
    I'm interested in the validity and ethics of a study that aims to associate people with a certain political viewpoint with a psychological 'problem'.

    For example, what if I proposed a research project investigating whether Liberal Party voters have violent tendencies? Or whether Greens voters are stimulated by images of totalitarian dictators?

    I suspect some ethical eyebrows might be raised.
  30. Perhaps "conspiracy theorist" does not adequately or accurately describe the rantings of the contrarians, or whatever they wish to be called.



    Get over it already guys, you are just making yourselves look worse and worse (I thought you had hit rock bottom a few days ago, but you are still at it), it is alarming and that you simply cannot help yourselves.

    The logical fallacies of the arguments used by contrarians is very odd. Does Lucia, whoever s/he might be, not know how to search her/his inbox? That is not difficult, it is so simple a Grade 1 can do it, and avoids the problem of having to rely one one's poor memory.

    They are also arguing something like this, "I have given you permission to "shoot" me, so please do it already". The problem is that some are beholden to ethics and professional rules etc. that prevent us from doing as requested-- basically we are not permitted to do so, and thank goodness!

    The stupid it hurts!
    Moderator Response: Part of this comment has been snipped due to violation of the 'No ad hominem attacks' part of our Comments Policy.
  31. James In Footscray at 10:42 AM on 8 September, 2012
    Tyger, you suggest contrarians are 'paranoid' and 'obsessive'.

    Do you see any issues labelling critics with psychological conditions?

    This is what worries me about the study. I know in conversation we all throw around these terms. But Stephan Lewandowsky is an academic and a psychologist, bound by professional ethics.

    Am I barking up the wrong tree (or possibly 'mad')?
  32. James #32,

    I am not generalizing as you suggest, but referring (primarily) to the comments posted here at "Shaping tomorrow's world".

    I would suggest that you read the "Debunking handbook". Sadly, these traits shown by a small percentage of the population are not fabricated, but very real. We have already been through this with evolution, tobacco and AIDS/HIV etc.

    "But Stephan Lewandowsky is an academic and a psychologist, bound by professional ethics."
    Exactly, that why he IS qualified to speak to this and why he cannot reveal the details of those contacted!

    So yes, you are barking up the wrong tree.
  33. So now even the lukewarmers are positing theories as to why the survey is wrong - a thousand people could have faked an ip address.

    This is getting weird beyond extremist right wingers and conspiracy theory nutters. (Maybe Lucia accepts a certain amount of climate science but rails against it nonetheless - at very long length! I really don't know much about Lucia to say - but this little study has certainly grabbed wide attention. Gives deniers and lukewarmers something to discuss while the Arctic sea ice disappears.)
    Moderator Response: Part of this comment has been snipped due to violation of the 'No ad hominem attacks' part of our Comments Policy.
  34. Tyger
    Does Lucia, whoever s/he might be, not know how to search her/his inbox?

    Please note: "my hard drive crashed in 2011". If your know how to information off hardrives when Apple and other recovery services do not, let me know.


    "I have given you permission to "shoot" me, so please do it already". The problem is that some are beholden to ethics and professional rules etc. that prevent us from doing as requested-- basically we are not permitted to do so, and thank goodness!

    I hardly think telling people whether he sent me an email in 2010 would be equivalent to shooting me. It may very well be that some board thinks it's ok for Stephan to reveal the contents of the emails skeptic bloggers sent him but not the names of those who sent them. I'm willing to believe this. But that would hardly mean that my giving him permission to reveal my name so that he can present that to the board for their consideration amounts to my harboring a "conspiracy theory".

    Exactly, that why he IS qualified to speak to this and why he cannot reveal the details of those contacted!

    Could you explain why he can quote the contents of the emails they sent him?

    In any case, as he has revealed the portion of the contents or these private emails it pleases him to reveal, I would request he reveal the entire contents of those emails. Alternatively, he can explain why the bits he revealed can be revealed while other bits cannot.
  35. The spectacle of science rejectors (in one form or another) falling over one another to see if they were of sufficient profile in the scientific community - is something to see.

    Stephan, if you ever are able to release those emails, you are bound to put some noses out of joint.
  36. Lucia,

    OK, fair enough about the hard drive. I'm not sure why they would have sent an obscure person (blogger?) an email to participate. So it is not clear what you are trying to say. The fact is that people like McIntyre did receive an email, and so did others. Or are you suggesting that Dr. Lewandowsky is lying or being deceitful?

    "I hardly think telling people whether he sent me an email in 2010 would be equivalent to shooting me."

    Did you not see the quotation marks? That or you are arguing a strawman, because it was clearly a metaphor, that you failed (or chose not) to see that is your problem. You seem more interested in trying to argue than making any sense.

    "Could you explain why he can quote the contents of the emails they sent him?"
    Did the quotes betray the recipient or their personal/private details? No. Move on already.

    "I would request he reveal the entire contents of those emails. "
    When will you finally understand that that is not for you to demand. You grossly overvalue your importance and influence.

    But keep at it if you want, you just keep proving that Dr. Lewandowsky has you guys figured out to a "t" :)
  37. Sou, bless you! We need more rational and sensible souls like you out there.
  38. Tyger and Sou,

    That has to be the funniest few posts I’ve read here so far. Here you both are, commenting on climate change issues as if you know what you’re talking about and yet you seriously don’t know who Lucia is? Really? Never heard of Lucia Liljegren? Never heard of the Blackboard? Never been there? An extreme right winger eh? Ha Ha, I bet she loves that :) Hilarious. Hint: you don’t even have to google her, you can look her up on Wiki ;)
  39. Ben Pile@28;
    You say: "So when environmentalists talk about 'motivated reasoning', and 'ideology', they should take a more careful look at themselves first."
    Sure, we're all vulnerable to it. For instance, you clearly reveal the value judgements and motivated reasoning you bring to this discussion in the very first statement of your position on your blog, which reads as follows: "An unfounded sense of crisis dominates public discussion of environmental issues . . .".
    Unfounded is the key word there.
    The semantics of the title of your blog are noteworthy too - "Climate Resistance - Challenging Climate Orthodoxy".
    Anyhow, I make two points:
    1. In a nutshell, you object to environmentalism per se because it embodies an "anti-human ideology". Oh boy, I don't own a broom large enough to let me to make such a sweeping generalisation.
    2.In your "starting position" of 17 statements you say there's good scientific evidence that human activities are influencing the climate. Yet you add that "evidence is not fact". What other kind of scientific evidence is there?
  40. Tyger

    OK, fair enough about the hard drive. I'm not sure why they would have sent an obscure person (blogger?) an email to participate.

    Since the paper give no indication of which bloggers they picked or how they went about picking them, I also don't know who they might send an email. However,Lewindowsky claim to have sent emails to skeptic blogs and skeptic leaning blogs. I blog. I don't know if I'm "too obscure", "not too obscure" or "just obscure enough".

    I don't consider my blog a "skeptic" blog, but I'm listed as a lukewarmer blog. And it happens, I was the first blog to mention the CRU emails in a blog post. (See http://rankexploits.com/musings/2009/real-files-or-fake/ ) . For this reason, I sometimes make these lists.

    Out of curiosity it turns out Lewandowsky sent me an email will you tell him he should have picked someone more important? Or will you come to think I must be an appropriate choice?


    Or are you suggesting that Dr. Lewandowsky is lying or being deceitful?

    I'm saying this: JNova read L's paper and was trying to think of blogs Lewandowsky might have contacted. Though you have not heard of my blog, she had. So, she thought he might have invited me to post a link.

    I received her email and answered her question. My answer is to the best of my recollection he didn't ask me. But this is based on my memory only, not checking my email.

    I don't think my answer implies anything about Dr. Lewandowsky's truthfulness of which I have formed no opinion at all. (BTW: If you are going to call him Dr. Lewandowsky, please address me as Dr. Liljegren. Thanks.)

    I can observe that L's paper provides no evidence that would permit 3rd parties to confirm or refute the claim that he invited 5 skeptic bloggers and I consider that a lapse. This lapse is not an indication of deceit, but it is odd. I think he should remedy the lapse. I hope he does so.

    hat or you are arguing a strawman, because it was clearly a metaphor,

    It is never a strawman to respond to precisely what you said. Look up "strawman" and inform yourself as to its meaning.

    Claiming something is a metaphor does not excuse gross exaggeration or resorting to excess vividness. If you want to use a metaphor, that's fine. But you should use one that is proportionate to the thing you are describing. I think it is appropriate to point out ridiculously exaggerated hyperbole even if the exaggeration is achieved by use of metaphor decorated with "scare quote". I don't think it's necessary to say "by the way, I noticed you used a metaphor! (Ohhh!! Puhleez English teacher, please give me an A+!)

    You seem more interested in trying to argue than making any sense.

    Oh? Who's the one trying to pretend his argument falls outside the realm of criticism by pointing out he used "metaphor in scarequotes"?

    Could you explain why he can quote the contents of the emails they sent him?"
    Did the quotes betray the recipient or their personal/private details? No. Move on already.

    Excuse me? But could you please explain the rule that says he can't betray the recipients details but he can related everything they said. "Move on" is not an explanation. It's not a justification.

    "Move on" may work if you are a bouncer at a bar but refusing to answer questions is not the way to convince anyone you could produce a good answer if you wished to do so. It may be that Lewandowsky will have a reasonable answer and if he breaks his previous string of defense-by-sarcasm, maybe he will even provide it. But I suspect you can't think of a good reason and have decided "move on" distract some people into not noticing you can't think of a good reason.
  41. Laurie, you're right on the money. For the sake of Sou and Tyger and others here, Lucia isn't a even denier she's a "lukewarmer" (basically a science accepter but a "show me the money" type), and a person who has often been at loggerheads with the good Lord [footnote needed] Monckton. She criticizes him, I criticize him, McIntyre and Watts among others. What's up with that?

    Regarding the controversy over skeptical blogs being contacted, the issue for those of us who are truth-centered is whether Lewindowsky selected a representative sample of skeptical blogs. There are other controversies, the experimental design being one of them. Lucia has fairly represented our concerns. This blog author has managed only to caricature them, which either means he doesn't understand them or is unwilling to engage on these more technical issues.


    (Incidentally tyger, I'd suggest reading a bit more about the current status of Dunning-Kruger as an accepted theory before trying to discuss it in blog comments Maybe start here?. )
  42. Hi Ben PIle @28,

    I don't think you understood what I was getting at. Lewandowsky's design was meant to see if people who accept one particular conspiracy theory (climate change hoax) have a greater tendency to accept conspiracy theories in general. It would ruin the research design to load the survey with other conspiracy theories that are obviously related to climate, therefore. I would think it a very bad idea to include any other questions about environment-related conspiracy theories, for instance.

    What you suggest is really another study. It would be interesting to see, for instance, what would happen if you targeted a conspiracy theory that liberals would be more prone to, and then used a suite of unrelated conspiracy theories to find a similar relationship. Personally, I would bet that you would get similar results. That is, people who buy into ANY kind of conspiracy theory are probably more likely to buy into others.

    This is why I said I thought the paper's results weren't surprising in the least. Not because I think all climate contrarians are kooks (I've seen Lucia say sensible things on many occasions, for instance,) but because I think the results are what one could reasonably expect, no matter what the conspiracy theory being targeted.

    P.S., you seem to imply that someone is saying "climate sceptics are conspiracy theorists," but certainly Prof. Lewandowsky never said that.
  43. Dr. Lucia Liljegren,

    Might I suggest that you first take a step back and a deep breath, then we can try and talk about this, because right now you are just being contrary, argumentative and pedantic.

    Doing so might serve your purpose of fabricating debate, and keeping people's emotions whipped up but other than that it is just talking in circles and rather pointless.

    It is troubling that a mechanical engineer seem to think that those credentials entitle her to speak about or critique Dr. Lewandowsky's paper or survey methods. Please tell us how many peer-reviewed paper on this subject you have published? Do you have any qualifications as a behavioral scientist or psychologist? How many surveys of this type have you undertaken. Have you ever had to deal with ethics committee on a study of this kind?

    Dr. Tyger
  44. Barry, I think it would be fair to characterize Stephan's views on climate "contrarians" a bit more sharply than that. It would seem he does not think engagement with "contrarians" to be helpful, nor I gather does he think education works in shaping public opinion. Perhaps with the good Lord [footnote needed] Monckton, he'd be right.

    Moderator Response: Part of this comment has been snipped due to violation of the 'No inflammatory tone' part of our Comments Policy.
  45. Lucia @29,

    I would, in fact, rate you as the #1 Monckton detractor among people willing to show their faces at a Heartland Conference. And the fact that Monckton appears to amuse you lets me know that you aren't a stiff. So what I said doesn't apply as much to you as others, but I don't think even you have really tried that hard to diminish His Lordship's influence. Have you ever complained to Joe Barton, or any other member of Congress after he has testified there, for instance?

    Here's how bad the situation is, aside from a few people like you who don't seem to be objecting very loudly. I first encountered Monckton when a biologist at my university was trying to get some department on campus to sponsor a talk by His Lordship. He forwarded an e-mail from Dick Lindzen, in which Lindzen said Monckton was a credible source on climate change. Now, the climate scientists I know mostly still have a great deal of respect for Lindzen, even if they think he's gone round the bend, lately. So when a guy like that can vouch for Monckton's credibility, what does that tell you about the "skeptic" community's tolerance for utter crackpots?

    Go on and admit it--my point was reasonable.

    As for the conspiracy theories being launched... Consider that Prof. Lewandowsky had 2 coauthors. Unless someone specifically states that they think Lewandowsky knowingly biased his results WITHOUT his co-authors' knowledge, I have to assume they are talking about a "conspiracy". It's not hard to find commenters on the last few posts here accusing Lewandowsky of knowingly biasing his results to come to a predetermined conclusion.

    Certainly, not all of the criticisms here would qualify as conspiracy theories. Most would qualify as 1) hypersensitive nitpicking, or 2) carefully crafted NOT to qualify as conspiracy theories by positing some number of evil individuals acting alone in unlikely ways. I think your bot hypothesis falls into the second category, for instance.
  46. Tyger:
    It is troubling that a mechanical engineer seem to think that those credentials entitle her to speak about or critique Dr. Lewandowsky's paper or survey methods.

    (-snip-)

    Look... science is democratic. If an idea is right, it's right regardless of who uttered it. Same idea for criticisms, mutatis mutandis. If there is something incorrect in Lucia's reasoning, the way you address it is by pointing out the errors in it, not by lauding Lewandowsky's credentials.

    Put another way, argument by appeal to authority isn't going to win many arguments, but it probably will make others suspect you yourself lack the ability to argue coherently on this topic. Seriously, that's the main outcome.
    Moderator Response: Part of this comment has been snipped due to violation of the 'No profanity or inflammatory tone' part of our Comments Policy.
  47. Carrick at #45,

    Can you please stop making multiple unsubstantiated comments and assertions. That post of yours is in danger of being a Gish gallop.

    Watts has not critiqued Monckton, at least not nearly as much as he ought to have done. Instead, he has given Monckton (a birther and conspiracy theorist) free reign on his blog and on many occasions defended Monckton. Anyone reading this can check that.
  48. Tyger, I never said Watts criticized Monckton. What are you talking about?

    Ready for the list of multiple unsubstantiated comments and assertions now.

    What are they?
  49. Carrick, you said @42,

    "She criticizes him, I criticize him, McIntyre and Watts among others. What's up with that?"

    I took that t o mean that Lucia, you, McIntyre and Watts amongst other shave criticized Monckton.
  50. Tyger never mind. I get it:

    She criticizes him, I criticize him, McIntyre and Watts among others. What's up with that


    Parse this as I criticize the following list of people: Monckton, McIntyre, and Watts, among others. (Probably should have used an Oxford comma here. ;-) )

1  2  3  4  5  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.