Recursive Fury goes recurrent

By Stephan Lewandowsky
Professor, School of Experimental Psychology and Cabot Institute, University of Bristol
Posted on 21 March 2014

Some 18 months ago I published a paper with colleagues Oberauer and Gignac that reported a survey of visitors to climate blogs which established a small, but significant, association between the endorsement of conspiracy theories and the rejection of several scientific propositions, including the fact that the earth is warming from greenhouse gases. The effects reported in that paper have since been replicated with a representative sample of Americans. No scholarly critique of either paper has been submitted for peer review to any journal to date.

Publication of the first paper (now known as LOG12) engendered a sustained and ongoing attack on the research and my work in general. Most of these attacks have been pursued by defamation on the internet, but they have also involved activities beneath the surface hidden from public view. I have already written about this Subterranean War on Science.

The strategies employed in those attacks follow a common playbook, regardless of which scientific proposition is being denied and regardless of who the targeted scientists are: There is cyber-bullying and public abuse by “trolling” (which recent research has linked to sadism); there is harassment by vexatious freedom-of-information (FOI) requests; there are the complaints to academic institutions; legal threats; and perhaps most troubling, there is the intimidation of journal editors and publishers who are acting on manuscripts that are considered inconvenient.

Together with colleagues Cook, Oberauer, and Marriott, I also published another paper last year, entitled Recursive Fury, in the online Journal Frontiers. This article reported a narrative analysis of the blogosphere’s response to publication of LOG12. The blogosphere’s response bore a striking resemblance to the very topic of LOG12: our finding that rejection of climate science is associated with conspiratorial thinking triggered elements of conspiratorial discourse among those who sought to deny that denial of climate science involves a measure of conspiratorial thinking:

Recursive Fury attracted some media attention (e.g., in the New York Times) as well as critique. It should come as little surprise that this critique did not involve a scholarly response, such as submission of a rejoinder for peer review, but that it entailed a barrage of complaints to the University of Western Australia (UWA), where I was based at the time, and the journal Frontiers.

While not retracting the paper, Frontiers removed the article from its website in March 2013. The journal then commenced an arduous process of investigation which has now come to a conclusion.

Frontiers will post (or has posted) the following statement on its website today:

“In the light of a small number of complaints received following publication of the original research article cited above, Frontiers carried out a detailed investigation of the academic, ethical and legal aspects of the work. This investigation did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study. It did, however, determine that the legal context is insufficiently clear and therefore Frontiers wishes to retract the published article. The authors understand this decision, while they stand by their article and regret the limitations on academic freedom which can be caused by legal factors.”

In other words, the article is fine but Frontiers does not want to take the legal risk that its restoration on the website might entail.

This is not the first time that legal fears have led to the withdrawal of a paper.

The authors were involved in drafting the retraction statement and sanction its content: We understand the journal’s position even though we do not agree with it.

Until January 1st of this year, the U.K.—where I now reside and whose laws are therefore applicable—was the country made in heaven for people who wanted to use “defamation” as a tool to suppress inconvenient speech, to the point that President Obama recently signed a law to make U.K. libel judgments unenforceable in the U.S. That law (PUBLIC-LAW 111-223) explicitly cites the “ability of scholars and journalists to publish their work” as motivating reason for making foreign libel judgments unenforceable in the United States.

Richard Dawkins rightly noted some time ago that scientists in the U.K. were operating in "an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty" under the libel laws. The law has now been reformed and, since January 1st, it contains some protections for scientists, a point to which I may return in future posts.

As far as we can tell, Recursive Fury attracted more attention than any other paper in psychology ever published by Frontiers. It attracted 9,124 full text views, and the count of abstract views was 29,324 when we last checked (at which time the article that we identifies as runner-up had 12,086 abstract views and 1,091 full text views).

Given its popularity, and given that approximately 29,300 viewers did not complain about our work, it would be a shame to deprive the public of access to this article. Because the work was conducted in Australia, I consulted with the University of Western Australia’s chief lawyer, Kim Heitman, who replied as follows:

“I’m entirely comfortable with you publishing the paper on the UWA web site. You and the University can easily be sued for any sorts of hurt feelings or confected outrage, and I’d be quite comfortable processing such a phony legal action as an insurance matter.”

— Kimberley Heitman, B.Juris, LLB, MACS, CT, General Counsel, University of Western Australia

So here, then, is Recursive Fury.

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164 Comments


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Comments 101 to 150 out of 155:

  1. chek

    Do the initials FOI resonate in whatever organ you substitute for a brain?

    The dialogue McIntyre quotes is all legally obtained public information.

    I'd love to think he'd track you down and sue you for the blatant libel - but I doubt he'd feel you were worth bothering with.

    If he were Hokeystick Mann of course - you'd need to be worried.
  2. chek

    Look up the initials FOI.


    …. and be glad Steve McIntyre is a more well balanced and forgiving individual than Michael Mann.
  3. chek

    Do yourself a favour and Google the initials FOI.

    Then be thankful Steve McIntyre is a more forgiving & balanced character than Michael Mann.
  4. geoffchambers at 09:17 AM on 25 March, 2014
    Foxgoose (comment n 99) is reporting that the conclusions of the UWA investigation into Lewandowsky's paper LOG12 were written by Lewandowsky himself. Can anyone here at UWA enlighten us?
  5. Sorry all.

    I haven't gone Lewpy - Safari locked up on page 2 & I couldn't see my posts.

    Profound apologies to chek for insulting him more than once.

    ;-)
  6. Is there any truth in the rumour that UWA is about to be renamed The University of West anglia?
  7. Jonathan Cook at 10:19 AM on 25 March, 2014
    Hi Stephan,

    I was reading the ethics procedures at your current university. Do you think Bristol University would have approved research proposals and or deviations to the original proposal for both "Log12" and "Recursive Fury" in the same way UWA did? Otherwise would Bristol University have required either a more stringent or less stringent approval process and corresponding research proposal?

    http://www.bristol.ac.uk/red/research-governance/ethics/uni-ethics/index.html
  8. Dear Foxgoose, I do hope that this shocking revelation that ethics approval was obtained and an ethics complaint was investigated and responded to will not detract you from continuing our ongoing discussion. After all, you still have some references to provide and a point to respond to. (Please address the actual point this time, not a minor detail or something completely different. The exact point is spelled out in my previous reply.)
  9. phinniethewoo at 11:18 AM on 25 March, 2014
    Is Bristol the UK university that got an exemption to profile and character analyse people nowadays ?

    Can we expect similar statistics on conclusions from Bristol university professors on for example:
    -who gets benefits and what do they think while getting them
    -Which slivers in society benefit the most from putting windmills in the fields
    -Who is been put in jail and for what crimes and what race gender and sexual inclination do they have and what does that tell us about our justice system

    oh and what is the imbecilic hiroshimas counting widget about on your site, lol.
    For starters you do not know what the calorific content is of system earth, neither do you know how it is evolving. If you would have any idea about it, you would maybe stop peddling the "global temperature anomaly" which is some comic geographically weighted average of cherrypicked sites , over the years.
  10. phinniethewoo at 11:20 AM on 25 March, 2014
    BBD,

    are you the wizzard who spoilt the bishophill pages for months on end 3years ago , postering your ignorance about all and everything ?

    You must be "working" at the university of Bristol, then

    ha ha ha
  11. phinniethewoo at 11:27 AM on 25 March, 2014
    I did not know Bristol university was the place hwere insulting people is fair game at Bristol university, it seems.Good that i know, I'll be visiting it then more often.

    For starters I think it would be nice if "professors" would get more exposure in public life, telling their wisdom to people in the city , not just the young impressible ones.

    50% of their time should go in THAT, not in filling your pockets doing the dirty business of windmill lobbies.

    I think a Lewandowsky should be made to present his insults to a representative group of the public, not the self congratulating bien pensant variety that frequents BBC QT.

    I think it is okay actually for people to insult the ones who pay for their posh salaries..They get thereby the freedom to return the favour, and then some more, I hope ?

    I am sure the "contracts" are safe for a lewandowsky Sturmtrooper but they aren't that safe for the ones higher up, at least not for decennia.
  12. As a past HSR committee chair at my own university, I can tell some here (who seem to think they have a serious complaint to make) that studies involving voluntary participation in opinion surveys are not considered to be particularly sensitive (by contrast, if the subject were, for instance, sexual assault, the recruitment process, confidentiality and questions to be asked would be examined very carefully). It's interesting that so much attention (along with howls of outrage) is being focused on routine communication between researchers and personnel responsible for communicating with them about work involving human subjects in a very non-intrusive way-- and that so little attention is being paid to the evidence that resulted from the study. One might even think a 'look over there' distraction campaign were underway.
  13. Bryson, I do hope that Lethbridge would have given some thought to questionnaires that were going to result in purported psychological diagnoses and demanded "[a] comprehensible description of reasonably foreseeable harms and benefits that may arise from research participation" (Policies and Procedures HSR Committee).

    Or perhaps they've tightened up since your day.

    I might add that some time ago I had a close look at the "evidence" that resulted from the study, and frankly as someone that has a bit of bent for experimental design felt it was all a bit under-graduate (along with the subsequent attitude of our host).

    All good sport, but best kept to the debating club or the common room (as it were).
  14. I'm certainly glad to see this paper's retraction but there is much more to say, as several commenters have already pointed out.

    On a certain level it is simple - we can see here and elsewhere first-hand critical commentary from those named directly. These comments demonstrate clear methodological and ethical flaws within the paper. What is damning by it's absence is any commentary at all from the authors addressing these concerns. The concerns are easy to understand. Read Geoff's blog. You'll find it clear, nuanced and insightful. You'll find criticisms of the paper that deserve answers. You'll look for those answers from the authors and see that there aren't any - they either have no response or they do not deign to give any. Either way it looks very very poor.

    Following this I started to look around further, and found other criticisms of this and the original Moon Hoax paper - at McIntyre's blog, for example. These are serious and substantiated, well set-out, the reasoning clear. Again, what I cannot find is any sort of response that deals with these specific and clear allegations. It seems a rejection of principles of decency to comment in an academic forum on a named individuals motivations and then refuse to engage with them. What a failure of the scientific process that 'peer review' can be used a shield from intelligent criticism, criticism levelled by the objects of the study. Interestingly, as Geoff points out, Recursive Fury is now a simple blog post outside of the peer reviewed literature. I doubt that will make the slightest difference to the authors, whose hatches are firmly battened down.

    To anyone interested: look at the paper, look at the criticisms linked above and the comments concerned. If you still fall on the side of the paper's authors - explain why. Comment on: (1) the accusations of sloppy quoting of named individuals. Comment on: (2) the alleged methodological flaws, and on the alleged failure to post the survey on SkS. Comment on: (3) the ethical issues that have been raised. If you have critical faculties and any level of inquisitiveness at all then don't rely on any sweeping statement from the UWA or from Frontiers, but rather address the specific criticisms from first-hand commenters that desire and deserve answers.
  15. I'm certainly glad to see this paper's retraction but there is much more to say, as several commenters have already pointed out.

    On a certain level it is simple - we can see here and elsewhere first-hand critical commentary from those named directly. These comments demonstrate clear methodological and ethical flaws within the paper. What is damning by it's absence is any commentary at all from the authors addressing these concerns. The concerns are easy to understand. Read Geoff's blog. You'll find it clear, nuanced and insightful. You'll find criticisms of the paper that deserve answers. You'll look for those answers from the authors and see that there aren't any - they either have no response or they do not deign to give any. Either way it looks very very poor.

    Following this I started to look around further, and found other criticisms of this and the original Moon Hoax paper - at McIntyre's blog, for example. These are serious and substantiated, well set-out, the reasoning clear. Again, what I cannot find is any sort of response that deals with these specific and clear allegations. It seems a rejection of principles of decency to comment in an academic forum on a named individuals motivations and then refuse to engage with them. What a failure of the scientific process that 'peer review' can be used a shield from intelligent criticism, criticism levelled by the objects of the study. Interestingly, as Geoff points out, Recursive Fury is now a simple blog post outside of the peer reviewed literature. I doubt that will make the slightest difference to the authors, whose hatches are firmly battened down.

    To anyone interested: look at the paper, look at the criticisms linked above and the comments concerned. If you still fall on the side of the paper's authors - explain why. Comment on: (1) the accusations of sloppy quoting of named individuals. Comment on: (2) the alleged methodological flaws, and on the alleged failure to post the survey on SkS. Comment on: (3) the ethical issues that have been raised. If you have critical faculties and any level of inquisitiveness at all then don't rely on any sweeping statement from UWA or from Frontiers, but rather address the specific criticisms from first-hand commenters that desire and deserve answers.
  16. Ed, let's not forget this research had ethics approval and was peer reviewed before publication as well as investigations by the journal and the institution after publication. All found no major flaws in the research.

    On the other side there are a few vocal and verbose (o my God the verbosity) people who either found or think they found some minor issues and act like they have found WMD in Iraq.
    I have been trying to engage in the past 50 comments or so, but it is very hard to get any specifics on what is actually supposedly wrong with the research. "One of eight things was tweeted instead of blogposted as claimed!" "Something was approved by an ethics officer instead of and ethics board!" "Get the pitchforks!"
  17. Ed

    A very thoughtful post - which, sadly, will be ignored by the Lewandowsky et al cheerleaders on here.

    The reason that neither the authors, nor their supporters, will substantively discuss any of the carefully detailed and documented criticisms here and elsewhere isn't hard to fathom.

    Exactly the same pattern has been followed by many of Lewandowsky's fellow travellers in the physical science area of the climate field,

    Highly controversial conclusions, based on sloppy and unsupportable science, are hyped (often well in advance of a paper's actual publication) to achieve dramatic headlines from supportive media elements.

    Headlines of "Climate deniers believe NASA faked the moon landings" were in print in the Guardian and NYT long before anyone had a chance to discover that the paper's data didn't remotely support that position.

    Once that goal is achieved, the detail of the work is sept under the carpet and any attempt to carefully analyse its deficiencies by meticulous outsiders like McIntyre can br brushed aside with cries of "conspiracy theorist!"

    It's a well-trodden path now and Lewandowsky has emerged as its most skilled practitioner - although the recent revelation of him intervening in his own ethics investigation might eventual prove to be career limiting.

    Commenter Eric above provides a wonderful example of the unthinking and ideologically blinkered support that the climate change devout offer to this kind of fraudulent science.

    He thinks the fact that the largest cohort of the group that Lewandowsky elected to study were never actually exposed to his questionnaire is a minor irrelevant detail which can be brushed aside with a facile comment like "One of eight things was tweeted instead of blogposted as claimed!".

    It's quite hard to see how to deal with this level of ignorance and superficiality.
  18. "Do the initials FOI resonate at all... "

    Of course silly, it's the new innovation - science by FOI.
    The Van der Graaf generator of noise in crank blogs.
  19. Right on cue - chek provides another prime example of avoiding the issue undef discussion by means of fatuous, irrelevant rhetoric.
  20. Eric

    What you hear is the deafening noise of empty buckets clanging.

    What you do not hear is the sound of a coherent, well-supported scientific counter-argument to the strong scientific consensus on AGW.

    But when you have nothing, then you must make something and that is what we see here.

    What we do not see are more and more papers in high-impact journals challenging the established scientific consensus and demonstrating that there is a serious flaw in our understanding of radiative physics, physical climatology or paleoclimate behaviour.

    Fake sceptics who use legal threats to shut down academic freedoms should never be allowed to forget what the bigger picture really looks like. Otherwise their already fragile grasp on their actual position in the scheme of things might slip altogether and then where would they be?
  21. Having debated fanatical anti-abortion activists, I don’t think much of superficial attempts to claim high moral ground. The standards of ethical practice in psychology and other social sciences are quite high, and potential harm to subjects is always a serious concern. But a study based on voluntary participation in an anonymous online survey poses little risk to those participants beyond the possibility that they may not like the results. And that is not an ethical flaw in the study. When others who don’t like the results manage to hack a website and reveal the identities of some participants, some harm to reputation or self-image may result—but that isn’t an ethical flaw in the study either.
  22. mybrysonb

    You seem awfully confused about this.

    The whole point at issue with Lewandowsky's second paper is he identified individuals who HADN'T volunteered or given consent.

    I have no idea where you got the story about the "hacked website" either.

    Are you sure you're on the right thread?

    Please explain what you mean.
  23. Foxgoose, comment #96 is the one I'm waiting for you to reply to. You have a claim to support (exactly the one you again rely on in comment 117) and a reference to provide. I'd appreciate more substance and less invective.
  24. Eric

    Very odd that your reading & comprehension difficulties only come into play when you've lost an argument.

    You've had a comprehensive set of links - if you're not interested or bright enough to find and read the published Supplementary Information to the paper, it's not our problem.

    If, on reading it, you find it differs from what Barry Woods and I have claimed - please come back and we can argue about it - just stop asking to be spoon fed everything.
  25. You have claimed right here in this thread that "[the survey] never reached the largest target group defined in the paper's methodology" (c.82) and that "the largest cohort of the group that Lewandowsky elected to study were never actually exposed to his questionnaire" (c.117). I am asking you to back those claims up.

    Firstly, where in the paper is the largest target group defined as "SkS readers"? A page number will suffice.
    Secondly, support your claim that "SkS readers" never saw the survey. It is not disputed that SkS tweeted a link to the survey, the only thing disputed is whether or not a link was included in or below a blog post. Furthermore, might there be some overlap between the group "SkS readers" and readers of the 7 other blogs where the link was posted?

    I have read some of the posts you linked to, and have not encountered considerations such as these. Since you are making your claims here, I am asking you to address this here. (Preferably without personal attacks or references to extremely long posts - a dozen or so sentences should be enough to answer the above.)
  26. Foxgoose

    It is *self-evident* from any moderately prolonged interaction with fake sceptics that there are many conspiracy theorists amongst their number.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing you can possibly say will change this because it is a matter of fact.
  27. geoffchambers at 05:15 AM on 26 March, 2014
    Eric (comment 125)
    “It is not disputed that SkS tweeted a link to the survey..”
    SkS didn't tweet the survey, John Cook did. At the time of the tweet he had about a thousand followers. SkS claimed (I think) about 60,000 readers a week. The claim that the survey was linked at SkS was made in a peer-reviewed paper, finally published about five months after Barry Woods and I had pointed out to the author and the blogowner that it wasn't. This is clear deception.
  28. See above geoffchambers

    There's two types of commenter on this:

    - those trying to shut academic freedom down

    - those pointing out that it is a matter of fact that many fake sceptics are conspiracy theorists

    And there's nothing you can say that will change this.
  29. Not confused, Foxgoose, but I am a bit puzzled. Since when do we consider evidence gathered from published material such as blog posts to be 'off limits' for academic analysis and discussion?
  30. geoffchambers, again I run into this claim that was made in a peer-reviewed paper. It is the bane of my existence here. It keeps haunting me. Again I'll have to beg you please to provide a proper reference. What paper? What page number?

    Three times already have I asked for this basic information but I have yet to get an answer. It's not even that I don't believe that the paper says that; all I want is to read exactly what the paper says, so we can continue this discussion based on facts instead of hearsay.
  31. Eric

    This painful pretence that you can read or count is getting wearing.

    You know very well which paper we're discussing.

    Read it and the supplementary material and come back with any comments or questions.

    You've been supplied with all the links and presumably you know how to cut and paste.

    I can only imagine that this continual bleating for page references is just another pathetic attempt to throw sand in the eyes of anybody following the dialogue.

    If so - it won't work.
  32. mybrysonb

    I see you completely changed you story from claiming the subjects were volunteers and that information was obtained from some unspecified hack.

    That's progress of a kind I guess.

    Sadly, your latest offering is also doomed to crash & burn.

    No university on the planet allows its academics to introduce third parties into psychology research without their informed consent.

    That's why Lewandowsky had to fake getting ethics approval and then insert himself into the ethics enquiry to get himself of the hook - as lucidly described here:-

    http://climateaudit.org/2014/03/24/lewandowsky-ghost-wrote-conclusions-of-uwa-ethics-investigation-into-hoax/

    I really don't know why you bother posting here if you can't be bothered to acquaint yourself with the basic facts of the matter.
  33. geoffchambers at 08:45 AM on 26 March, 2014
    Eric (comment 130)
    The claim that is in dispute is that the survey was linked at 8 blogs. It wasn't, it was linked at 7 blogs and a tweet. Why does it matter? Because it 's wrong, and it's in a peer-reviewed scientific paper, and Lewandowsky and Cook knew it was wrong months before the paper was published, and yet Lewandowsky went ahead and left the false claim in. Why? Probably because he was being criticised for trying to recruit sceptics from blogs which specialised in insulting sceptics, and the only blog which could conceivably have provided the survey with a reasonable number of sceptics was SkepticalScience, because of its large number of visitors.
    In your comment 96 you say:
    “the point is that 7 blog posts plus a tweet plus perhaps an 8th blog post do not lead to completely different results than 8 blog posts”.
    The point is you're not allowed to say things that are false in a scientific paper. Even if it doesn't make a difference. And not just in science. When I was a market researcher, I'd write reports and say things like “We interviewed people in London, Birmingham and Glasgow”. If the client came back and said: “Where are the interviews from Glasgow?” and I replied: “There weren't any. But it wouldn't have led to completely different results”, I'd have been sacked, and I would never have worked in market research again. Lewandowsky hasn't been sacked. He's been given a medal by the Royal Society and a five figure sum to bring him to England to work in one of the world's top thirty universities. And those who point out the truth about his research are told by distinguished professors and editors of scientific reviews and journalists on once prestigious newspapers that this doesn't matter.
  34. Introducing third parties into psychology research? What a curious turn of phrase. All academics draw on, analyze, cite and discuss published material. This practice is not treated as human subject research-- else everything I do and English profs do and even physicists do when discussing the literature would be human subject research. You seem to imagine that psychology is subject to special ethical review and constraints because it's psychology, rather than because it often requires direct participation from individual subjects-- something the Recursive paper did not.
  35. [condensed and paraphrased the discussion so far]

    59. Foxgoose: "The paper made a false claim!"
    60. Me: "Where in the paper is that exactly?"
    91. Foxgoose: "The paper made a false claim!"
    96. Me: "Where in the paper is that exactly?"
    117. Foxgoose: "The paper made a false claim!"
    123. Me: "Where in the paper is that exactly?"
    124. Foxgoose: "The paper made a false claim!"
    125. Me: "Where in the paper is that exactly?"
    127. geoffchambers: "The paper made a false claim!"
    130. Me: "Where in the paper is that exactly?"
    133. geoffchambers: "The paper made a false claim!"

    Sorry, but I give up.
  36. Steve Metzler at 11:11 AM on 26 March, 2014
    I read the Recursive Fury paper carefully this past weekend. Geoff Chambers and Barry Woods, could you please explain something to us - something that a lot of rational people are asking, if not overtly: regarding your incessant grinding and gnashing of teeth over the fact that the LOG12 survey was only posted on 7 pro-science sites instead of 8, exactly what difference do you purport that makes to the results? Or is it just that that's the only tiny, insignificant thing that you are capable of finding wrong with the paper, and thus you must latch onto it for all it's worth? Because, I can tell you, that's what it looks like from here.

    Since *none* of the 5 skeptic sites that were invited to host the survey agreed to post it, it cannot have mattered *one iota* that the 1377 survey results that were harvested came from 7 pro-science sites rather than 8.

    What, is Skeptical Science supposed to be somehow more important, or somehow different, than the other pro-science sites that did participate (and which a lot of skeptics also frequent)? Please elaborate on this (on second thought, no, actually, please don't!), because otherwise it just reinforces the Something Must Be Wrong finding of the Recursive Fury paper.

    Oh... and the most salient bit of the LOG12 paper wasn't that you were all CT nutters like you appear to be anyway, but that denial of the science behind AGW was strongly correlated (r ~= 0.8) with extreme free market ideology. The CT theme, and the frivolous title of the LOG12 paper, was only a sideshow laid on by Lewandowsky. But a lot of the skeptics made such a huge issue out of just the *title* of the original paper (don't make me go dig up all the references), that it made Recursive Fury almost a forgone conclusion; too good an opportunity for a researcher to pass up.
  37. To which I would add that the evasion itemised by an exasperated Eric at #135 is still awaiting an answer.

    In the meantime let's all empty our minds and listen to the crickets in the distance, while the denialiti confect a (no doubt less tham adequate) reply.
  38. Steve Metzler

    I can help with the LOG12 paper. If you look at the way the sample was selected it can tell you nothing about the population at large. It just samples those that frequent "pro-science sites" and who are motivated to have a go at a survey.

    Now within that population the sad news is that it doesn't take many who feel motivated to state extremes of views to paint denial of science with free market stuff, alongside the natural disposition of many in that population that naturally play the other end of each of those spectra and in no time you'll get a high correlation.

    Great journalism, lousy science.
  39. Steve Metzler at 22:44 PM on 26 March, 2014
    @HAS #138:

    Ah, but that's a different conspiracy theory: that the LOG12 survey was cleverly 'gamed' by non-skeptics to make the skeptics look bad, in just such a way as to completely fool very experienced psychological researchers like Lewandowsky and his team.

    But what does that have to do with whether the survey was hosted by 7 pro-science sites or 8? What difference could that possibly make to the results if *none* of the 5 skeptic sites didn't participate? The entire pool of results is still from sites with the same slant. And skeptics do frequent those sites, obviously.
  40. geoffchambers at 22:59 PM on 26 March, 2014
    Steve Metzler (comment 136)
    “regarding ... the fact that the LOG12 survey was only posted on 7 pro-science sites instead of 8, exactly what difference do you purport that makes to the results?”

    I neither know nor care. The entire survey is rubbish from beginning to end anyway. But the 8 sites is an outright falsehood. It must be corrected, which means retracting the paper.
    The retracted “Fury” paper which identified dozens of named individuals as suffering from various mental disorders, is still being defended here by Lewandowsky, and in the Guardian by Lewandowsky's SkS colleague Nuccitelli, with the claim that it was withdrawn because of legal threats. This has been denied by the editors of Frontiers.
  41. geoffchambers

    I neither know nor care.


    Bang goes your "argument" then.

    The entire survey is rubbish from beginning to end anyway.


    Argument from assertion is a logical fallacy. As is argument from personal incredulity.

    It remains a matter of fact that many fake sceptics are conspiracy theorists and no amount of frothing and ranting can change this.
  42. Steve Metzler at 02:58 AM on 27 March, 2014
    @geoffchambers #140:

    But the 8 sites is an outright falsehood. It must be corrected, which means retracting the paper.


    Pro tip: that's not the way scientific publishing works. You publish (peer reviewed) comments in response to the paper. And in those comments you purport to demonstrate why the 8 sites vs. 7 aspect materially affects the results. And in any case, papers don't get retracted because of small, irrelevant errors that don't affect the results.

    Instead, your ilk apparently work through vexatious FOI requests to the authors' university, and threatening the paper's publishers with legal action. You have some kind of weird, straw man, worldview about how scientific research and publishing is conducted.
  43. geoffchambers at 04:40 AM on 27 March, 2014
    BBD
    “It remains a matter of fact that many fake sceptics are conspiracy theorists and no amount of frothing and ranting can change this”.

    Well of course, people who distrust the official consensus story on one subject are likely to distrust the official consensus story on another story. What a discovery. Who could doubt it? But that wasn't the point of the story, was it? The point of this scientific article was to denigrate Watts and McIntyre (who were specifically referred to in the article) and other climate sceptics

    Steve Metzler
    My “weird, straw man, worldview about how scientific research and publishing is conducted” was simply the naïve belief that the system of peer review held scientific papers to a higher standard of accuracy than other forms of discourse. If that's not so, so be it.
    Barry Woods and I told Lewandowsky and Cook about an error in Lew's Moon Hoax paper five months before official publication. Instead of correcting the error they wrote another paper accusing us and many others of being afflicted by all kinds of psychological weaknesses. Would you do that? Would a journalist on Fox News?
    Since then he's gone on and on in article after article about it, (as I have on my blog, to be fair). Since Fury is no longer officially a scientific paper, there's no point in criticising it on scientific grounds, I suppose. It's just a polemic, like my blogposts, and a very peculiar one at that.
  44. "Well of course, people who distrust the official consensus story on one subject are likely to distrust the official consensus story on another story. What a discovery. Who could doubt it?"

    That's not true though is it?
    You don't distrust the consensus on the physics of how your computer works, the consensus on germ theory or a myriad other things.
    It might be said though that such a mindset is a sucker for covert and crafted political campaigns working for vested interests. Further research into that would be required, but there is some pattern there.
  45. Well of course, people who distrust the official consensus story on one subject are likely to distrust the official consensus story on another story. What a discovery. Who could doubt it? But that wasn't the point of the story, was it? The point of this scientific article was to denigrate Watts and McIntyre (who were specifically referred to in the article) and other climate sceptics


    The point was to illustrate that conspiracist ideation is not uncommon amongst "climate sceptics". And it was redundant. We have an internet full of clear, indisputable evidence that conspiracist ideation is fairly common amongst "climate sceptics".

    Are you *denying* this matter of fact, geoffchambers?

    Yes or no?
  46. Do any of the soi-disant "climate sceptics" on this thread *deny* that it is a matter of fact that many "climate sceptics" indulge in conspiracist ideation?

    Yes or no?

    Before lying about this, remember that there is an internet full of evidence everyone here can read. And quote.
  47. Steve Metzler at 22:44 PM

    I'm sure conspiracy theories can be used to explain any phenomena. But in the case of respondents gaming surveys (in this case whether skeptic or non-skeptic) it is a well understood risk. So well understood in fact that LOG12 try to deal with it in rejecting some responses and discussing in the risk note "As in most behavioral research, this possibility cannot be ruled out."

    Did they do that well enough, what was the source of the correlation and did they have the experience in the statistical techniques necessary to test for it? I'd say not.

    But moving on to the issue of the sample frame LOG12 the authors move rapidly from statements about this particular rather unusual sample to making theoretical statements about the population as a whole. All the claims being made by LOG12 sound much less impressive if they are prefaced by the statement that they only relate to a self-selected sample of respondents drawn from follows of SkS tweats and similar social media.

    L. et al. are either truly the grand scientists you claim and know this, and are deliberately over egging it, or they don't understand this basic principle of scientific inference, or possibly a bit of both.
  48. HAS has simply dodged a Yes/No question, which says little for his/her commitment to intellectual honesty.
  49. BBD at 07:15 AM

    The point I was addressing was Metzler's "most salient bit of the LOG12 paper".

    I therefore did think the question about 7 or 8 blogs a bit of a non-sequitur under the circumstances, and seemed more directed at others commenting on the thread.

    But to humour you 7 or 8 is irrelevant in the context of the results of the paper and any attempt to draw wider conclusions from it. The number of blogs in the sample won't save its poor design, or offer any greater ability to draw conclusions about classes of individuals in the population at large. Had a wider range of bogs been included it would have probably increased the diversity of the population, but we would still really know little about the biases of those that responded.

    This is why the survey is lightweight - journalism rather than science.

    However I understand the main point being made by others is that there was a technical issue (SkS Tweet not blog) that the authors were made aware of but wasn't corrected. Not sure that tells me much of significance about the study, particularly given my first point, but it tells me something about our host's attention to detail.
  50. Steve Metzler at 08:52 AM on 27 March, 2014
    I see that trying to engage with the likes of HAS and geoffchambers is pointless, but I suppose I already knew that. In their minds, there is no way a researcher can control for people trying to game the survey, even though this must be possible else the whole idea of an anonymous self-selected survey is a non-flyer.

    The fact that the LOG12 findings correlate well with the telephone survey he conducted in the States belies this fact, but hey, the armchair scientists obviously know more about this than experienced researchers. McIntyre's legacy, I suppose.

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