An update on my birth certificates

By Stephan Lewandowsky
Professor, School of Experimental Psychology, 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.

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214 Comments


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Comments 201 to 209 out of 209:

  1. Let's get back to the issues.
    There are two. The first set of issues relate to the
    methodology of the study. Tom Fuller has a list of good questions.

    The second issue is this. Are the concerns over who was invited to participate and what was their response "conspiracy" thinking.

    Let's dispose of the second.

    What is a conspiracy?

    "Science is about weeding out bad ideas,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “With conspiracy theories, you start out with a theory and stick to it no matter what the evidence. So it is not that surprising that conspiracy theorists would not accept scientific propositions ."


    Let's accept this definition.

    What's the theory?

    The theory is/was that Dr. Lewandowsky
    A) Did not contact Skeptic blogs
    B) Did not receive emails refusing to participate.

    That theory sent people off in search of evidence. Nobody I've read believes in this theory in the face of evidence to the contrary. A) is true. His associate did the contacting
    and B is unclear.

    Now, if the good doctor produces email from bloggers who REFUSE to participate and then IF people claim he "faked" those mails ( ala Gleick) Then you have a conspiracy.

    As it stands now, you cant have a conspiracy according to the definition, because we have no evidence that nuts would reject.
  2. Joe:
    Um...#140 is accusing the collective effort of this blog of censoring posts.


    Well OK then, according to my Merriam-Webster a conspiracy is "A secret plan by a group of people to do something unlawful or harmful."

    As a fact of the matter, Les made no accusation towards a "collective effort", that's a phrase you invented. Les discussed "censorship". Censorship on a blog is neither harmful, illegal, or if part of the blog policy, secret.

    You don't need a conspiracy to have censorship, since it only takes one person acting alone for that (e.g., Tamino's blog). Even it is a collective applying censorship towards unpopular views, that still faills the definition of conspiracy.
  3. layzej:
    It is telling that Watts has to specifically ban the following from WUWT [etc]


    Yes from this we can draw the inference it's a climate blog. Really cosmic. Thanks. :-P
  4. @ 206

    Yes, let's.

    There is one prime issue - the irrational response to the revelation of the survey.

    I particularly liked how one hapless individual was squawking 'FOI, FOI!!'.
  5. @209

    And what "revelation" is that Michael? That 10 people in a sample of >1000 went with moon landing fakery? That 3 were AGW sceptics? That the Professor then inverted this result in his paper title? That friendly journos swallowed it whole?

    Interestingly, estimates of the number of 'moon fake' conspiracy believers in the US range from 10-25 million. Do the math. There is no (or a negative) correlation in the (Snip) survey results.

    (Snip)
    Moderator Response: Inflammatory snipped.
  6. Sorry all for the triplicate post! Technical difficulties.

    Hi Carrick @203/208. I wouldn't expect a science blog would need to have a policy on conspiracy theories. This would not be an issue at most sites.
  7. If counterbalancing was an important consideration, why were all the anti-skeptic blogs sent one of the same two versions, while all the skeptic blogs sent one of two different versions? Shouldn't you have randomized?

    (-Snip-)
    Moderator Response: Inflammatory snipped. Please refer to this site's comments policy before composing further comments as comments are now being audited.
  8. You're in real trouble now, Professor. You've come to the attention of The Auditor. He has asked you Questions. You now have two choices:-

    (1) You could assume the questions are posed in good faith, The Auditor is genuinely interested in the knowing the answers, and will make constructive and reasonable use of the information. This would be a category error. It's like those email scams where if you respond the spammers know the address they've hit is real. Next thing you know there will be a second round of followup questions, and so on ad nauseum. Dr Gerald North writes:-

    "This guy can just wear you out. He has started it with me but I just don’t bite. But there are some guys, Ben Santer comes to mind, who if they are questioned will take a lot of time to answer. He’s sincere and he just can’t leave these things along. If you get yourself in a back-and-forth with these guys it can be never ending, and basically they shut you down with requests. They want everything, all your computer programs. Then they send you back a comment saying, “I don’t understand this, can you explain it to me.” It’s never ending. And the first thing you know you’re spending all your time dealing with these guys.”

    Do you really want that?

    (2) You ignore the questions. This will lead to a post at the Audit weblog using words like 'stonewall', 'petulance', 'refusal'. You won't be directly accused of malpractice or fraud, naturally, however the comments will be a playground where those with a desire to speculate about 'What is Lewandowsky hiding?' will be given free rein. There will then be a short hiatus during which you may think your life is getting back to normal, but then the orchestrated FOI requests for any and all emails relating to the paper will start ...

    Do you really want that?

    There is no 3rd choice.
  9. Stephan - in the commendable spirit of your blog ('The posts on this site are generally written by domain experts, specialists and scholars with an interest in these problems and we hope they will generate informed and constructive debate.') could you comment on (Snip)

    Many thanks indeed in advance for your comments.
    Moderator Response: Inflammatory tone and accusations of deception snipped.
  10. Thought you might find this of note. A lot of climate skeptic sites are saying you are not answering their legit questions and censoring their comments about the quality of the data used to prove AGW. They do not understand your objection to the term "fake" when you used the term yourself. see below:

    By The Daily Lew | Watts Up With That? on Sep 10, 2012 at 4:29 PM
    [...] Lewandowsky Censors Discussion of Fake Data « Climate Audit Rather than answer the question, Lewandowsky, the author of a paper entitled “NASA faked the moon [...]
  11. @ 211

    That's the sound of the nail being hit on the head.

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