Anatomy of the Lewandowsky Scam

The recent article by Lewandowsky et al, “NASA faked the moon landing, Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science”, has attracted commentary at Jo Nova, Bishop Hill, WUWT, Lucia’s and Skeptical Science, as well as by Lewandowsky himself. The data was placed online at Bishop Hill here.

Tom Curtis of Skeptical Science observed that at least “10 of the respondents have a significant probability of being produced by people attempting to scam the survey” and that the “paper has no data worth interpreting with regard to conspiracy theory ideation”. The scam identified by Curtis was that these respondents were almost certainly warmists caricaturing skeptics. Their caricatures were grotesque: two respondents, claiming to be skeptics, purported to believe in every single conspiracy, no matter how wacko. That the US government was complicit in 9/11; that the Moon Landings were fake; that SARS and AIDS were government plots, etc etc.

As others have observed, the number of actual respondents purporting to believe in the various conspiracies was, in many cases, very small. Only 10 respondents purported to believe in Lewandowsky’s signature Moon Landing conspiracy. These included a disproportionate number of scam responses. Indeed, probably all of these responses were scams.

However, Lewandowsky’s statistical analysis was unequal to the very low hurdle of identifying these scam responses. Lewandowsky applied a technique closely related to principal components to scam and non-scam data alike, homogenizing them into a conspiratorial ideation.

In today’s post, I’ll extend Curtis’ analysis, identifying another “tell” that, in my opinion, can be used to identify scam responses that are not as overtly in-your-face grotesque as the scams already identified by Curtis. I’ll also consider whether the scam responses say something about the psychology of the scammers.

Peter Gleick

Before considering the Lewandowsky scam, let’s first review the Peter Gleick scam and, in particular, how it’s been sanitized in warmist legend, a legend to which Lewandowsky himself has been a notable contributor.

As is well known, Gleick impersonated a Heartland director, tricking a secretary into sending him board documents. But having got the board documents, Gleick did not simply announce his coup and distribute the documents under his own name. Instead Gleick forged a grotesque memo and distributed it, along with the other documents, pretending to be a “Heartland Insider”.  It was this forged document that generated the most lurid commentary by the Guardian and other sympathizers.  Gleick’s tendentious forgery was characterized by Megan McArdle of the Atlantic as reading “like it was written from the secret villain lair in a Batman comic. By an intern.”

Lewandowsky saw nothing wrong with any aspect of Gleick’s conduct – not even the forgery. In an editorial last February,  Lewandowsky compared Gleick’s deception to Winston Churchill misdirecting the Germans on invasion plans, concluding that “it is a matter of personal moral judgment whether that public good justifies Gleick’s sting operation to obtain those revelations”.

Dehumanizing Language

A few months ago, in an article in Nature Climate Change, Paul Bain, another Australian psychologist, repeatedly used the term “denier”  to refer to climate skeptics. Bain defended this usage at Judy Curry’s on the basis that it would “activate the strongest confirming stereotypes” in his target audience:

By using the term “denier” we wanted to start with something that would activate the strongest confirming stereotypes in this audience

Bain’s usage was sharply criticized by skeptic blogs (though it was not an issue that I bothered with.)   Judy Curry made the following interesting suggestion:

Somebody needs to research the sociology and psychology of people that insist that anyone that does not accept AGW as a rationale for massive CO2 mitigation efforts is a “denier.”

Judy’s  invitation unfortunately was not followed up in the comments. Had this been done, people would have made the surprising discovery that, in his “day job”, Bain primarily wrote about the use and function of derogatory epithets (e.g. cockroach in the Hutu-Tutsi and other racially charged terms). Bain observed that a primary function of dehumanizing language is to reinforce the self-esteem of the “in group”:

For example, Bain observed

Subtle forms of dehumanization are often explained with reference to …the idea that the in group is attributed “the human essence” more than outgroups, and  hence outgroups are implicitly seen as “non-human”. ..

People typically evaluate their in-groups more favorably than out-groups and themselves more favorably than others…

such labeling has the effect of denying full humanness to the out group, reinforcing the self-esteem of the in-group..

The denial of full humanness to others, and the cruelty and suffering that accompany it, is an all-too familiar phenomenon…

Despite Bain’s prolific writing on the use and abuse of dehumanizing epithets, he was oddly oblivious to the function of the term “denier” as a means of dehumanizing IPCC critics.

The concept of dehumanization is also applicable to the Gleick forgery. Initial interest was obviously dominated by the then mystery. But, in retrospect, the form of Gleick’s forgery ought to have been of interest because of what it said about Gleick. As well as being fraudulent, Gleick’s forgery intended to dehumanize his target, making the target seem less fully human than members of the in group. In Bain’s terminology, it reinforced the self esteem of the in group. [Sep 9] Gleick’s use of the term “anti-science” to describe his targets is, from this perspective, a dehumanizing term, intended to make his targets seem, in Bain’s terminology, infra-human. Curiously, it was also one of the “high-entropy” words that initially confirmed Mosher’s original identification of Gleick as the author of the forged memo.

Lewandowsky’s Caricature

In May 2010, Lewandowsky published an editorial sneering at those who had the temerity to question the Climategate “inquiries”, an editorial replete with dehumanizing language (in Paul Bain’s sense). Lewandowsky referred to “armies of irate pensioners”. Skeptics were said to “obsessively yelp”. But Lewandowsky’s central image used to dehumanize skeptics was his comparison of skeptics to believers in outlandish conspiracy theories: that NASA faked the moon landing, that 9/11 was an inside job of the Bush Administration, that Prince Philip ran the world drug trade.

Lewandowsky’s editorial came in the immediate wake of the Oxburgh “inquiry” – which had been widely derided by skeptics. Lewandowsky compared derision of the Oxburgh inquiry – a quick-and-dirty inquiry that maintained no transcripts, took no evidence from critics, asked its participants to destroy their personal notes – to a refusal to accept findings of a thorough and bipartisan US Congressional report into 9/11.

Little noticed at the time was Lewandowsky’s caricature of what skeptics actually believe – a caricature clearly serving to dehumanize his targets.  Consider that, for example, Richard Lindzen, the leading skeptic, unequivocally agrees that temperature had increased and that increased CO2 has contributed to the temperature. Lindzen disputes the estimated impact of doubled CO2, both on global temperature and on negative impacts. John Christy and Roy Spencer, two other leading skeptics, are the architects and developers of the satellite record. They regularly report temperature data showing an increase in global temperature since 1980, but like Lindzen, believe that climate sensitivity is less than assumed in IPCC models and that the negative impacts will be less than advertised by IPCC, WWF and Greenpeace The opinions of the most prominent bloggers regarded by warmists as “skeptical” (Anthony, Lucia, Andrew Montford, Jeff Id, myself) are more or less along these lines. Arguably even Joe Bast of Heartland.  This does not preclude holding an opinion that the surface temperature indices of Phil Jones and Jim Hansen are biased somewhat warm. Christy and Spencer believe this, as does Lindzen.  While I’ve not surveyed blog readers on the point, my guess is that most “denizens” of “skeptical” blogs hold similar opinions. This is not to say that there aren’t a few extreme skydragons who challenge whether CO2 has had an impact on global temperature, but my guess is that they make up only a very small percentage of readers of skeptical blogs. I’ll return to this point later.

However, in his editorial, Lewandowsky characterized climate skeptics in terms of an opinion that (in my reading) is not held by the overwhelming majority of blog readers: a disbelief in even the warming observed in the satellite record as follows, described by Lewandowsky as follows:

The further fact that the satellite data yield precisely the same result without any surface-based thermometers is of no relevance to climate “skeptics.”

The form of Lewandowsky’s incorrect caricature of skeptics is a point that I’ll return to in my analysis of his data.

Lewandowsky’s editorial was not widely covered outside of Australia. Nor was it mentioned at any “skeptic” blog. It was however covered by Tim Lambert, a strident Australian anti-skeptic and long-time blogger, who warmly endorsed Lewandowsky’s comparison of skepticism to crank conspiracy theories.

Lewandowsky’s Survey

A few months later, Lewandowsky decided to test his theory by an online survey of blog “denizens” on conspiracies.  Although Lewandowsky’s professed interest was the study of “skeptics”, Lewandowsky’s first distribution of his survey was to eight of the most stridently anti-skeptic blogs: Lambert’s Deltoid, Tamino, Skeptical Science plus five blogs with little traffic: Bickmore, Hot Topic, Scott Mandia, Ill Considered, Trunity.) Curiously, the survey was apparently not sent to Real Climate, the leading anti-skeptic blog.

Lambert and the other stridently anti-skeptic blogs promptly invited their readers to participate in the survey with invitation posts between August 28 and 30. Lambert identified Lewandowsky’s connection to the survey (a connection not disclosed in the invitation later sent to me) as follows:

Stephan Lewandowsky is conducting a survey on attitudes towards climate science and related issues and is interested in responses from readers of pro-science blogs.

Lewandowsky’s connection to the survey was also known to the proprietor of Hot Topic, who issued the following invitation:

Prof Stephan Lewandowsky describes it thus: “the rationale behind the survey is to draw linkages between attitudes to climate science and other scientific propositions (eg HIV/AIDS) and to look at what skepticism might mean (in terms of endorsing a variety of propositions made in the media)”. He’s particularly interested in the views of people who follow science blogs.

An invitation was apparently also posted at Skeptical Science, a blog operated by John Cook, a close associate of Lewandowsky. However, Skeptical Science rewrites its history from time to time and the original posting, apparently deleted in one of its occasional pogroms, is no longer online. [Update: it appears virtually certain that Skeptical Science did not publish a link since none appears in contemporary Wayback records. The stories of Lewandowsky and Cook on this point are not credible. It appears that Cook made a tweet referring to the Lewandowsky survey; nothing more.]

[Sep 9] Several of the notices included the Gleickian term “pro-science” as opposed presumably to the infra-human out-group “anti-science” blogs. The high-entropy term is used at Deltoid, Ill Considered and in an inline comment at Mandia, suggesting that the term may have been used in the original invitation from Lewandowsky to the anti-skeptic blogs.

The survey contained 14 questions about conspiracies, including questions about the 9/11 and Moon Landing conspiracies featured in Lewandowsky’s earlier editorial. Lewandowsky asked respondents to respond in one of four categories (Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree) with the following:

• The Iraq War in 2003 was launched for reasons other than to remove Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD from Iraq.

• A powerful and secretive group known as the New World Order are planning to eventually rule the world through an autonomous world government which would replace sovereign governments.

• SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) was produced under laboratory conditions as a biological weapon.

• The U.S. government had foreknowledge about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor but allowed the attack to take place so as to be able to enter the Second World War.

• U.S. agencies intentionally created the AIDS epidemic and administered it to Black and gay men in the 1970s

• The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. was the result of an organized conspiracy by U.S. government agencies such as the CIA and FBI.

• The Apollo moon landings never happened and were staged in a Hollywood film studio.

• Area 51 in Nevada is a secretive military base that contains hidden alien spacecraft and or alien bodies.

• The assassination of John F. Kennedy was not committed by the lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald but was rather a detailed organized conspiracy to kill the President.

• The U.S. government allowed the 9-11 attacks to take place so that it would have an excuse to achieve foreign (e.g., wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) and domestic (e.g., attacks on civil liberties) goals that had been determined prior to the attacks.

• In July 1947 the U.S. military recovered the wreckage of an alien craft from Roswell, New Mexico, and covered up the fact.

• Princess Diana’s death was not an accident but rather an organised assassination by members of the British royal family who disliked her.

• The Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols did not act alone but rather received assistance from neo-Nazi groups.

• The Coca Cola company intentionally changed to an inferior formula with the intent of driving up demand for their classic product later reintroducing it for their financial gain.

• The claim that the climate is changing due to emissions from fossil fuels is a hoax perpetrated by corrupt scientists who wish to spend more taxpayer money on climate research.

A week later (Sep 6), an invitation to the survey was sent to me by Charles Hanich, an assistant to Lewandowsky, an invitation that did not disclose the connection to Lewandowsky known to Lambert and Hot Topic.  I did not respond to or acknowledge the invitation. I don’t recall why I didn’t respond. The email invited me to click a link. I am extremely wary of clicking links in emails from people unknown to me and perhaps that was the reason. Or perhaps I was busy and just missed it. On Sep 23, Hanich sent me a reminder. Again, I didn’t respond. Again, I don’t recall why. Had I followed the link and evaluated the survey, I am very doubtful whether I would have invited Climate Audit readers to participate in that particular survey anyway.

On Sep 23, Hanich appears to have sent a similar invitation to Junk Science, which posted a link to the survey on Sep 23 with heavy caveats:

I went through the above and felt it has numerous problems – questions are framed in absolute terms but lack useful definition (climate change is used frequently but is not defined, do they mean CAGW, natural variability with some anthropogenic component or what?). Climate scientists is used as a generic term without distinguishing between modelers (PlayStation® Climatology) or physical scientists (very few geologists are impressed by claims of CAGW, for example).

Basically it seems to be fishing for conspiracy theorists in an effort to associate them with CAGW skepticism. I suspect Hanich & HREC are likely to get a lot of complaints about this framing.

In any event, virtually all of the respondents appear to have come from the eight stridently anti-skeptic blocs, with most presumably referred by Deltoid, Tamino and Skeptical Science.

In addition to the ordinary problems of an online survey, Lewandowsky’s decision to distribute his survey via anti-skeptic blogs had other shortcomings. Whatever anonymity the survey might have had was tainted by the association of the survey with Lewandowsky at the Deltoid, Hot Topic and (perhaps) Skeptical Science. In addition, potential respondents had already read the feedback of previous survey takers. At Tamino’s blog, commenters wrote:

You missed the long series of questions about various conspiracy theories. Those were fun!..

I guess they’re trying to use those survey questions to identify the nuts haha… All those conspiracy ones were a bit ridiculous…

Yeah, those conspiracy theory questions were pretty funny, but does anyone think that hardcore deniers are going to be fooled by such a transparent attempt to paint them as paranoids?

Similar observations were made at Lambert’s blog:

The questions seemed to be picked in hopes to see “climate change deniers” “denying” also everything else there is a consensus at…

I think the “conspiracy theory” section is too heavy-handed to be useful. There’s no chance that people won’t figure out what the survey is looking for here, and everyone knows that “conspiracy theory!!” is pejorative. So I suspect that a lot of people who actually do think that climate scientists are rigging the data will hide their beliefs, even in an anonymous survey, because they’re worried that they’re going to be painted as conspiracy theorists. Maybe with good reason, maybe not

Lucia sized up Lewandowsky’s methodology (in her usual to-the-point style) as follows:

These sorts of surveys almost scream out and say “Please, please! Enter fake data!!” Of those who fake, the most likely thing is that a “skydragon” will enter a ridiculous survey pretending to be an alarmist and vice versa. But you can never be sure

Identifying the Scam
Lewandowsky made much of his data available on August ^. It took very little time for even sympathizers to recognize that numerous responses had been faked – that warmists had pretended to be skeptics, and, in some cases, responded in grotesque caricature. Tom Curtis, an editor at Skeptical Science and no friend to skeptics, drew attention to two respondents, who identified themselves as skeptics and as libertarians, and who claimed to strongly believe in every single conspiracy as well as denying any connection between HIV and AIDS or smoking and lung cancer:

I have been looking through the survey results and noticed that 10 of the respondents have a significant probability of being produced by people attempting to scam the survey. I base this conclusion on their having reported absurdly low (<2) consensus percentages for at least one of the three categories.

An additional response (#861 on the spreadsheet) represents an almost perfect “warmist” caricature of a “skeptic”, scoring 1 for all global warming questions, and 4 for all free market and conspiracy theory questions. There may be wackos out there that believe every single conspiracy theory they have heard, but they are a vanishingly few in number, and are likely to appear in a survey with such a small sample size.

A second respondent (890) almost exactly mirrored respondent 861 except for giving a 3 for the Martin Luther King Jr assassination, and lower values for the scientific consensus questions. Again this response is almost certainly a scam. Combined, these respondents account for 2 of the strongly agree results in almost every conspiracy theory question; and the other potential scammers also have a noticable number of strong agreements to conspiracy theories.

For most conspiracy theory questions, “skeptics” only had two respondents that strongly agreed, the two scammed results. Given the low number of “skeptical” respondents overall; these two scammed responses significantly affect the results regarding conspiracy theory ideation. Indeed, given the dubious interpretation of weakly agreed responses (see previous post), this paper has no data worth interpreting with regard to conspiracy theory ideation.

It is my strong opinion that the paper should be have its publication delayed while undergoing a substantial rewrite. The rewrite should indicate explicitly why the responses regarding conspiracy theory ideation are in fact worthless, and concentrate solely on the result regarding free market beliefs (which has a strong enough a response to be salvageable). If this is not possible, it should simply be withdrawn.

Further Analysis

Although Curtis felt that nothing could be gained from analysis of the Lewandowsky data, in my opinion, further analysis of the data can reveal considerably more about the scam. Proper statistical analysis requires more than Lewandowsky’s method of simply feeding lousy data into a Mannian meat-grinder.

Figure 1 below shows, for each conspiracy, the total count for each conspiracy (ranging from 10 to 289) against the proportion of “skeptics” for that conspiracy (as measured by agreement on the CO2HasNegChange question – a distinction that I’ll return to). The horizontal line shows as a benchmark the proportion of “sceptics” to all respondents (0.22).

The scatterplot shows a great deal of difference in the properties of each conspiracy. Lewandowsky smudged this information into a conspiracy ideation, but the actual data contains a great deal of texture not summarized in one principal component.

Figure 1. For all ‘skeptics’ disagreeing with CO2HasNegChange, showing count for each conspiracy against skeptic proportion.

Only two conspiracies had over 250 agree-responses: JFK and Oklahoma, the two conspiracies that, by Lewandowsky’s Moon Landing metric, are perhaps relatively “reasonable”. (Lewandowsky withheld results from the Iraq WMD question.) The differentiation between warmist and skeptic responses was more distinct in the wacko conspiracies with very small counts. In conspiracies with larger counts, the difference was much reduced, with the Oklahoma conspiracy actually accepted by a somewhat higher proportion of warmists than the overall population.

The results for 9/11, the signature conspiracy of Lewandowsky’s previous editorial, were hardly consistent with Lewandowsky’s expectations, though this was not disclosed in his writeup. Of the 69 respondents who purported to agree with the 9/11 conspiracy, the proportion of warmists and “skeptics” was in almost exact proportion to their overall self-identification.

The conspiracies with heavy and disproportionate skeptic shares are limited to the small-count wacko conspiracies: the Moon Landing, AIDS, Area 51, Roswell etc. and in absurd answers to questions about the relationship and consensus on HIV to AIDS and smoking to lung cancer – an association that, in my opinion, strongly supports heavy contribution of fake responses related to the wacko conspiracies.

Despite Lewandowsky’s contrary statements and implications, even for most of the wacko conspiracies (e.g. the cluster around Moon, AIDS), more respondents professed to be warmists than skeptics. The only conspiracy (or wacko beliefs) with a purported majority of “skeptics” are: the New World Order conspiracy; and purported disbelief in the connection of HIV to AIDS and smoking to lung cancer, both with vanishingly small samples (16 and 11 respectively) and evidently contaminated by fake answers. The anomalous results for the New World Order conspiracy is very suggestive of a second strategy of fake response (in addition to the simple vote-stuffing commented on by Curtis) – a strategy in which the fake respondents were concerned to avoid exclusion by agreeing with the most wacko conspiracies (as, for example, Swami et al 2009, an article cited by Lewandowsky, had excluded Elvis sightings.)


In Lewandowsky’s zeal to tar skeptics with conspiracy theory labels, Lewandowsky overlooked a fundamental  stratification of respondents – one that clearly separates a Climate Audit-style skeptic from the caricature in Lewandowsky’s editorial, a caricature also held at the anti-skeptic blogs. Consider the following two questions:

CO2TempUp – I believe that burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric temperature to some measurable degree.

CO2HasNegChange – I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years has caused serious negative changes to the planet’s climateAc.

Actual skeptics at the major climate blogs, in line with Lindzen, Christy and Spencer, would agree with the first and disagree with the second. However, a fake skeptic response, constructed according to the caricature in Lewandowsky’s editorial, would disagree with both.

In fact, “skeptic” respondents in the survey were almost evenly divided on this point: 122 purported to disagree with both propositions (the pattern hypothesized to be associated with fakes), while 127 agreed with the first and disagreed with the second (the pattern hypothesized to be associated with actual skeptics.) Only 5 disagree with the first while agreeing with the second.

In addition to fakes, it is possible that there are some skydragons in the first pattern. Unfortunately there is no control information on the proportion of skydragons at skeptic blogs. I would not estimate the proportion as higher than 20% (and less than that at Climate Audit), though this is nothing more than an impression. That would suggest that as much as 75% (90) of the skydragon-style responses are fake. If there were only 10% (12) fakes in the skydragon pattern, that would imply 46% skydragons in the skeptic population – a proportion that is inconceivable in my opinion as a long time blog operator. (These are mere checks for consistency to show the definite possibility, even probability of a large fraction of the skydragon responses being fake.) [Sep 9 – looking fresh at the barplots below, my guess, as someone who’s looked at lots of data in his life, is that about 50 of the skydragon responses are fake i.e. ‘skydragons’ are about 1/3 of the combined skeptic response.]

As noted above, there is an absolutely astonishing interaction between “conspiracy” ideation and this stratification, as shown in the next figure, plotted for skeptics as above, but excluding skydragons, real or fake. Lewandowsky’s supposed “conspiracy” ideation has completely disappeared. For every conspiracy, even New World Order, fewer than proportional conspiracies are held. For several of the most wacko conspiracies, including Lewandowsky’s signature Moon Landing conspiracy, there are zero respondents (as one would expect in a “pro-science” blog.)

Figure 2. As for Figure 1, but restricted to “true” skeptics, i.e. excluding skydragons.

[Sep 9] To further show the remarkable difference in “conspiratorial ideation” between skydragons (real-and-fake) and skeptics (lukewarmers), here is a barplot showing counts by conspiracy for each category. Both groups have nearly equal populations – 122 versus 127 – so I haven’t normalized further in this barplot.

The next barplot shows the fraction of adherents to each conspiracy, adding in warmists to the barplot. The conspiracies are ordered in order of overall count. It further illustrates the extremely low adherence of lukewarmers to the wacko conspiracy theories.

Skydragons – Real and Fake
The precise proportion of fakes in the skydragon population is impossible to assess, given Lewandowsky’s abysmal methodology, but, as noted above, there is strong evidence that it is a substantial percentage.

In my opinion, there are two main lines of fake response: (1) respondents who had fun with the survey, filling in multiple fake conspiracy beliefs; (2) respondents who attempted more limited gaming, commonly pretending to adhere to the New World Order conspiracy. Overall, a remarkable 40% (49) of skydragon respondents purported to believe in one or more of the 8 most wacko conspiracies(CYNewWorldOrder, SARS, CYAIDS, CYMoon, CYArea51, CY911, CYRoswell and CYDiana). 20 purported to believe in two or more of the wacko conspiracies with 10 purporting to believe in 4 or more wacko conspiracies, and 3 in all eight. Tom Curtis has drawn attention to the implausibility not just of someone seriously holding such positions, but of the additional implausibility of multiple such paranoids turning up on cue at the Lewandowsky poll. In my opinion, his arguments on this point are irrefutable and the strained attempts of Skeptical Science commenters to challenge him on this point defy credulity.

In the article itself, Lewandowsky had alluded to the possibility of fake responses, but bizarrely (for someone supposedly competent in the field) argued that multiple fake responses could only occur with a “conspiracy”, overlooking the entirely plausible (and in this case, probable) situation of a small but significant fraction of respondents making fake responses in a situation that, as Lucia observed, practically invited fake responses satirizing skeptics:

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. This seems unlikely because subsets of our items have been used in previous laboratory research, and for those subsets, our data did not differ in a meaningful way from published

Lewandowsky’s argument is completely insufficient to dismiss the possibility that 4-5% of the responses were warmists having some fun pretending to be skeptics. Nor do I think that the faking was entirely one way. In my opinion, some of the “warmist” responses with high conspiratorial ideation were fakes as well.

Lewandowsky, like Gleick, probably fancies himself a hero of the Cause. But ironically, Lewandowsky’s paper will stand only as a landmark of junk science – fake results from faked responses.

Tom Curtis observed that the paper should be rewritten to indicate why the responses concerning conspiracy ideation are “worthless” and, “if this is not possible, it should simply be withdrawn”.

It is my strong opinion that the paper should be have its publication delayed while undergoing a substantial rewrite. The rewrite should indicate explicitly why the responses regarding conspiracy theory ideation are in fact worthless, and concentrate solely on the result regarding free market beliefs (which has a strong enough a response to be salvageable). If this is not possible, it should simply be withdrawn.

[SM note Sep 14- Tom Curtis asked a few days ago that I amend my characterization of his comments. I believe that my original characterization was justified. Nonetheless, I’ve taken exception in the past to how my comments have been characterized and have therefore removed the 10 words that he requested and added the above paragraph. I’ve removed the words rather than overstriking, since the preservation of overstrikes in such situations seems very arch to me.]

Curtis said further:

Unless it is acceptable practise for scientists to knowingly allow falsehood to be published under their name, on hearing of a significant flaw in their paper, the paper must be re-written if there is time; withdrawn and re-written if there is not time for a rewrite before going to press; or have a correction published if it has gone to press. Because these are minimal standards of proper conduct, suggesting that an as yet unprinted paper be re-written or withdrawn is no more offensive than suggesting that it contains major flaws. The only way my suggestions can be considered offensive is if it is insulting to suggest major flaws in somebodies paper. Such an ettiquette is, however, entirely inconsistent with the vigourous review that is the sin qua non of science. Such an ettiquette may have grown up among scientists by custom; but in that event it is irrational and I will not pander to it.”

Curtis did not allege “fraud or other scientific wrong doing” on Lewandowsky’s part. According to Curtis:

At most Lewandowsky has been too casual in screening for gamed responses; and slightly over interpreted the results. That represents a major flaw in the paper (if I am correct); but has no implications whatever about Lewandowsky’s integrity as a scientist. IMO, Lewandowsky’s choice of a title is, and should be, far more damaging to his reputation as a scientist than the other flaws (IMO) in his paper.

We’ll soon see whether Lewandowsky’s allegiance to the Cause and to his own self-importance is greater than his commitment to science. If Lewandowsky ignores Curtis’ call to withdraw the paper and, despite knowing of important flaws, proceeds to, in Curtis’ words, “knowingly allow falsehood to be published under [his] name”, it will also provide an interesting test of the relative strength of Curtis’ allegiance to the Cause relative to his commitment to science.


  1. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 6:19 PM | Permalink

    I’ve obviously been blog quiet since I left for England and then Italy in August. It’s not that there hasnt been things to say and do. I’ve gotten very tired once again.

    I need to report on my trip and will try to do so.

    • Laurie Childs
      Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 10:20 PM | Permalink

      No, you don’t need to report on your trip at all. For goodness sake man listen to what your body is telling you and stop! Lock the filing cabinet, shut the laptop, switch off the lamp and walk away from it all. Take a complete break from the whole damned issue for six months. Or even a year. Whatever it takes. Nobody should expect you to do more than you’ve already done. Nobody. Go sit in the sunshine somewhere and read “50 Shades of Grey” or whatever it’s called. Leave the Lewandowskys and the Manns of this world to stew in their own juices for a while. They’ll still be stinking the place up when you’re ready to return. You need to go rediscover your mojo. Seriously.

      • tlitb1
        Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 2:02 AM | Permalink

        Agree totally with Laurie Childs.

      • TAC
        Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 5:43 AM | Permalink

        I cannot speak for Steve, but I wonder if his exhaustion results not from his work here but rather in part from the deliberate, outrageous, and “dehumanizing” treatment he has received from the “in” group. ClimateAudit may be cathartic for Steve.

        I am not saying that Steve is not entitled to a vacation, just that ClimateAudit is important. First, it provides a permanent record of this appalling episode in the history of science. The world needs to know what happened here, how climate science went so far astray, how an entire field came to be dominated by a handful of charlatans who managed to defraud so many of their colleagues.

        Second, if not for the thoughtful and meticulous work of McIntyre, Lindzen, Pielke(s), Watts, McKitrick, and a handful of others, the world might have enforced and extended Kyoto-like policies calling for rapid decarbonization with correspondingly profound economic consequences. We know too well how bad statistical analyses can cause disaster: The failure to comprehend the fragility of the mortgage-backed-securities industry, for example, put the U.S. and global economies in a tailspin, cost millions of families their homes, undermined pension plans, and continues to threaten the global economy. Most of us are poorer today because there was no McIntyre scrutinizing the soundness of credit default swaps.

        The fraudulent research of Michael Mann and his colleagues needed to be exposed. Steve did this. He may never go to Stockholm, and we may never see Michael Mann in shackles, but let’s not underestimate the importance of Steve’s work.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 6:34 AM | Permalink

          I appreciate the good wishes from readers but please don’t over-interpret my getting tired.

          Mostly it’s lack of exercise. I sprained my ankle badly earlier in the summer. I was playing against 30-years and trying too hard, jumped and really turned my ankle. It’s a chronic injury – I’ve probably sprained it 8 times in my life, but this was the worst since my original injury. (Which oddly enough was at Ross McKitrick’s University of Guelph when I played rugby against them.)

          I’ve done a very poor job of rehab-ing. In the process, I’ve put on weight. I rely on squash or tennis for exercise because I really like playing and dislike gym work. Its hard to exercise with an ankle sprain as well. I know what I need to, but it’s a matter of will power.

        • Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

          Swimming may be the right option, it offers thinking time while you flex the ankle in a supportive medium without putting full weight on it.

          Great for building upper body strength too.
          All the best Steve


      • Jeff Alberts
        Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 9:51 AM | Permalink

        Plesase! NOT 50 shades of stupidity!!

    • jorgekafkazar
      Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 12:00 AM | Permalink

      Thanks for posting. Find a hobby that you really enjoy and do just that to gather energy. Rest. Read. Paint. Draw. Whatever makes you happy. We’ll be here when you get back.

    • krischel
      Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 9:00 PM | Permalink

      As for weight and exercise, I highly suggest the following reads:

      Why We Get Fat, by Gary Taubes
      Slow Burn Fitness Revolution, by Fred Hahn

      tl;dr – Weight is a matter of insulin response, fixed by a low-carb high-fat moderate-protein diet. Exercise is best done through slow strength training for only 30 minutes a week.

      Much like the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming trope, our low-fat diet dogma, and calories in/calories out dogma, is based on shoddy science.

      • Shevva
        Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 7:57 AM | Permalink

        Take it from someone that has been injecting insulin from the age of ten weight and exercise are very easy to understand, when you eat carbohydrates your body has two ways of using it up 1) burn it up from activity 2) produce insulin to turn it into fat (When your body doesn’t produce insulin it has a third way which is your kidneys remove it through your pee which has the added side effect of kidney failure eventually). The best way to lose weight is what everyone dreads exercise followed by a no/low carbohydrate meal.

        I sit at a desk all day so my carbohydrate in take is low and my waist line to, the best I can say is meat and veg are your friends the down side is beer as about 4 bottles of your favourite bud is the equivalent to a nice big plate of carbohydrates and the secret to keeping your weight off is watching what you eat, oh and in my case not eating sugar for 27 years.

    • michael hart
      Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 8:34 AM | Permalink

      Maybe ask Anthony etc. for advice about spreading/out-sourcing your workload.

    • Jeff Wood
      Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

      I wish I had known you were in Italy, Steve. If you had been in the same area as me I would have been sure to buy you a drink.

  2. BobM
    Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 6:27 PM | Permalink

    welcome back. I think you meant “Lewandowsky concluded” in this sentence:
    Gleick concluded that “it is a matter of personal moral judgment whether that public good justifies Gleick’s sting operation to obtain those revelations”.

    • TerryS
      Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 6:11 AM | Permalink

      In the “stratification” section you’ve written:

      Only 5 disagree with the second while agreeing with the first.

      Shouldn’t that be “agree with the second” (CO2HasNegChange) and “disagree with the first” (CO2TempUp).

  3. dearieme
    Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 6:36 PM | Permalink

    “The Iraq War in 2003 was launched for reasons other than to remove Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD from Iraq.” I’m puzzled: is agreeing wth that or disagreeing with it taken to be a sign of being looney?

    • Coldish
      Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 4:12 PM | Permalink

      Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 6:36 PM | Permalink | Reply

      “The Iraq War in 2003 was launched for reasons other than to remove Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD from Iraq.” I’m puzzled: is agreeing wth that or disagreeing with it taken to be a sign of being looney?”

      Good question. (a) evidence indicating the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Iraq was dodgy or non-existent; (b) no WMD were found after the invasion.
      Nonetheless, some or all of those responsible for launching the war may have sincerely believed that WMD were indeed held in Iraq. In which case the war may indeed have been launched in order to remove WMD (real or imagined).

      Similarly ‘warmers’ may (sincerely) believe that ACO2 could cause CAGW, whatever tbe evidence. If they denigrate ‘sceptics’, this may be part of their campaign to save the earth. Most warmers I have met (including some of my friends) seem to come into this category. Other warmers may have other motives…

    • michaelozanne
      Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 3:55 AM | Permalink

      “The Iraq War in 2003 was launched for reasons other than to remove Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD from Iraq.” I’m puzzled: is agreeing wth that or disagreeing with it taken to be a sign of being looney?”

      Well this is the thing, are we supposed to forget that no significant quantities of chemical or biological weapons were actually found, once we’d finished taking the country to bits. I’m not sure that the question could ever be simply phrased to negate this small detail of post event knowledge.

      Even then, if someone noticed that eliminating an apparent (if not real) threat to national security, *also* had an economic benefit in increasing the supply of oil, does that make it an evil conspiracy?

      We don’t really have the evidence to say for sure, that the WMD’s were a *deliberate* fabrication used to launch a resource war, people are more commonly stupid than they are evil.

      At the risk of being boring, I don’t see how any phraseology trying to ascribe these events to cock-up or conspiracy is going to overcome the hurdle of what we actually know i.e the decision making process was appallingly incompetent and the key intelligence wrong….

  4. Mark W
    Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 6:38 PM | Permalink

    A clinical and precise analysis. I particularly like the way you have discovered the “true skeptic” position in the data. Judging by the way Lewandowsky preaches on his blog I think he denies the existence of “true skeptics”.

  5. Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

    “claiming to be of them purported to believe in eveskeptics” – a bit of a cut and paste error I think.

  6. durango12
    Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 6:52 PM | Permalink

    The Lewandowsky gig smacks of yet another publicity-seeking put down of a conjured stalking horse. I am not sure that treating this kind of thing seriously is a reasonable investment of time. As in the old Jack Paar joke, “Don’t pay attention to them; it only encourages them.”

    • ianl8888
      Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 9:28 PM | Permalink


      I’ve made this point several times. Giving Lewandowsky the oxygen of on-going attention is self-defeating, IMO

    • Neil Fisher
      Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 12:05 AM | Permalink

      Sorry, I can’t agree with that. Given the propensity of The Team to take published studies as The Bible until shown conclusively and incontrovertibly wrong, it is important to point out the flaws as soon as possible.
      That Steve once again sticks to the data and methods and makes cogent arguments based on them, this is an important critique that should not be “hand-waved” away as so many of Steve’s critiques are. Time will tell, but I suspect that this paper will, at some stage, be shown as “evidence” of the ridiculousness of being skeptical.

      • Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 7:10 AM | Permalink

        I agree; it’s become tiresome to see near every challenge to a consensus position, irrespective of how it is made, framed as if the challenger were claiming it as a conspiracy.

        In a neat piece of self-reference, commenters on Lewandosky’s blog frame criticism of Lewandowski as if it required buying in to a conspiracy, rather than merely pointing out that his personal behaviour is disgraceful, and his methodology weak and lacking in rigor.

  7. Brendan
    Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 7:13 PM | Permalink

    Check out Lewandosky’s latest post on the valid questions he has been confrtonted with.

    The tragedy is that this puerile response is from a senior academic at an Australian University, who has received significant public funds for his research.

    He goes further in now alleging that Steven is using the ‘dog ate my homework’ defence, with this comment

    “Mr. McIntyre’s dog misplaced an email under a pastrami sandwich a mere 8.9253077595543363”

    Having bothered to read his entire post, I’m not sure words can describe my astonishment that he wrote this.

    The tragedy is that someone at Lewandowsky’s level actually believes this is a valid response to just as valid questions about his ‘peer reviewed’ paper.

    • Martin A
      Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 9:58 AM | Permalink

      “I’m not sure words can describe my astonishment that he wrote this”

      Nor mine. I’ve archived it in case it were to disappear and I began to doubt that I had ever read it.

    • Skiphil
      Posted Mar 30, 2013 at 3:54 PM | Permalink

      Lucia now has a succinct summary of several aspects of incompetence in how Lewandowsky as been framing issues wrt how skeptic bloggers were “contacted” for the survey:

      When they knew Hanich was the contacting person that
      1) Confirmed Lewandowsky never contacted them
      2) Confirmed a member of the team had contacted them
      3) Confirmed those who said Lewandowsky has not contacted them were truthful.
      4) Confirmed JoAnn Nova’s list of people not contacted Lewandowsky was accurate.
      5) Confirmed that contact with skeptic and non-skeptc blogs exhibited differential treatment.
      6) And Lewandowsky’s response gave us more evidence of the sort of weasel he is.

  8. Joe Prins
    Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 7:22 PM | Permalink

    Did this paper pass “peer” review? If so, what were the reviewers looking at? Has to be pal review. That people like this get to keep their job is incredible. What are they teaching our kids?

  9. RayG
    Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 7:24 PM | Permalink

    Mr.. McIntyre, the posting date indicates that you posted this on
    august 31 at 11:06. Is this correct?

    Steve: No. I posted it simultaneous with my comment. Dunno why. Probably because I was working off an earlier draft that I placed in pending. I’ll fix the date.

    • Bob Koss
      Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 8:08 PM | Permalink

      I’ll butt in with my presumption that that date might be when he started working on a draft of this post. It wasn’t actually published prior to today.

      • Bob Koss
        Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 8:11 PM | Permalink

        Oops. Once again I’m a dollar short and a day(1/2 hour) late.

  10. Jeff Alberts
    Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 7:45 PM | Permalink

    There are several misspellings of “Lewandoswky” as “Lewandowky”. Might want to do a search and replace.

  11. Les Johnson
    Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 8:06 PM | Permalink

    I am unable to post any more at “Shaping Tomorrows World”. I suspect that they have bunkered up, and are unwilling to enagage with “skeptics”.

    I am also really curious as to why people like Lewandowsky poke Steve M with a stick, not expecting a well documented and researched response.

    Monkey never learns….

  12. Les Johnson
    Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 8:09 PM | Permalink

    Actually, I don’t know why any sane, intelligent person would jab at Lucia and Steve both, as they do at Lewandowsky’s.

    OK, I see my mistake. I assumed sane and intelligent.

  13. Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 8:18 PM | Permalink

    One test often used to validate engaged and honest respondents to an online survey is called the rare items test. In a survey of sufficient length, the respondent is asked if he owns a rare item or purchases an unusual service. Later, the respondent is asked if he owns another rare item or purchases another unusual service. Respondents who say yes to both have their data removed from the survey.

    This is typical good hygiene. It certainly seems as if it was not used here.

    Welcome back–good to see you in print again.

  14. Les Johnson
    Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 8:43 PM | Permalink

    Tom: OT, but where are we in our bet with Joe Romm?

  15. Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 8:57 PM | Permalink

    Hiya Les, I think we’re ahead on points–we’re at 0.14C so far, if I’ve read correctly.

  16. JerryP
    Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 9:14 PM | Permalink

    “Only 5 disagree with the second while agreeing with the first.”

    Shouldn’t that be “Only 5 disagree with the first while agreeing with the second?”

  17. RB
    Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 10:05 PM | Permalink

    I get that the conspiracy-theorist part smells and that (in Curtis’ words) “significantly flawed”.

    .. it will also provide an interesting test of the relative strength of Curtis’ allegiance to the Cause relative to his commitment to science.
    I’m afraid I’m too slow here as to what you expect further from Curtis. Are you implying that you would like him to audit one from his own team, like you do?

  18. Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 10:16 PM | Permalink

    Wow, thanks for the tremendous amount of work.

    In the very last clause of the post, don’t you mean “Lewadowsky’s alleigance to the Cause,” rather than Curtis’?

    Actually, I suppose it could eventually be a test of how Curtis responds to Lewandowsky’s failure, but the real test is of Lewandowsky.

  19. theduke
    Posted Sep 8, 2012 at 11:26 PM | Permalink

    Hey, it’s climate sociology!

  20. Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 12:33 AM | Permalink

    Glad you’re back! This will be a long read!

    Meanwhile, the link to data at Bishop Hill doesn’t work.

    • Laurie Childs
      Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 1:10 AM | Permalink

      Hu, try this one:

      • Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 7:48 AM | Permalink

        It may work for you, but still doesn’t for me.

        Maybe the paranoid conspiracy has sabotaged my computer? 😉

        • Michael J
          Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 6:15 AM | Permalink

          Maybe your system (or your network providor) blocks .xls files as they can contain virus macros. Many corporate systems do that.

      • GPhill
        Posted Sep 11, 2012 at 5:10 AM | Permalink

        Can anyone point to where the data set can be obtained?
        I am keen to get a copy.

        thank you

        • RomanM
          Posted Sep 11, 2012 at 5:25 AM | Permalink

          Try here.

        • GPhill
          Posted Sep 11, 2012 at 9:16 AM | Permalink

          I consistently get a “page not found result”. Tried using 2 different computers, both with IE though. Can you still access the page?

          Help appreciated.

        • RomanM
          Posted Sep 11, 2012 at 12:59 PM | Permalink

          Worked this morning, but the link seems to be fouled up now.

          I can email you a copy if you wish. You don’t have to tell me your email address.

        • Skiphil
          Posted Sep 11, 2012 at 1:25 PM | Permalink

          try this:

          There is a link within that post to the Excel spreadsheet with data

        • GPhill
          Posted Sep 12, 2012 at 2:04 AM | Permalink

          Thank you both. Have downloaded data via link provided by Skiphil.

  21. DaveA
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 1:06 AM | Permalink

    So I take it a Skydragon was considered to be one who answered No to CO2TempUp?

    I’m sensing a misalignment of understandings here. Steve has basically written off those who disagree that CO2 causes measurable warming – the skydragons – though for the warmies it suits their agenda to presume, at least in their public discourse, that the skeptic label applies almost exclusively to those such people; hence deniers and believers. It simplifies the issue and their task to have it that way. I won’t editorialize further other than to say the public at large are more frequently “getting it”.

  22. AndyL
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 1:46 AM | Permalink


    Please define skydragons before you dehumanise them 🙂

  23. Peter Miller
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 2:16 AM | Permalink

    One thing this ‘survey’ highlights is the need for sceptics to clearly make their viewpoint known:

    1. Most sceptics believe a little AGW has happened and on balance the effects have probably been beneficial. Likewise, a little AGW is continuing to happen, but this effect is almost irrelevant in comparison to natural climate cycles, which we can do nothing about.

    2. Almost all sceptics believe CAGW to be complete nonsense, an unscientific theory not supported by the geological record and requiring gross/fraudulent manipulation of data and results to ‘prove.

    Alarmists are always shrill in their statements that sceptics think AGW is a denialist conspiracy, when in reality warmists deliberately choose to confuse the subjects of AGW and CAGW to suit their own purposes.

  24. tlitb1
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 2:57 AM | Permalink

    Fantastic analysis by the way. Your point about Bain having previously published studies acknowledging “dehumanizing language is to reinforce the self-esteem of the “in group” is particularly interesting.

    The fact that Bain went on to effectively do just that, and dehumanise a section of his studied group, seems analogous to what Lewandowsky has done in this study – i.e. a psychologist has subconsciously applied a previous finding merely as a tool in his later work rather than as a warning against self-deception.

    Geoff Chambers at BH pointed out that Lewandowsky had previously published a study that includes the observation:

    More than half of blog users seek out blogs that support their views, whereas only 22% seek out opposing blogs, leading to the creation of “cyber-ghettos” ..

    This important observation is nowhere shown to be considered when Lewandowsky applied his apparent crude “counterbalancing” technique of sending 4 different studies to different blogs.

    It doesn’t matter that these psychologists previous findings were correct or not – it is the fact they blithely go on to ignore them in later studies that seem to indicate they are practicing something other than real cumulative science.

    Psychologists – heal thyself! 😉

    • Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 4:58 AM | Permalink

      extending the quote is more intersting!

      Click to access LewandowskyEcker.IP2012.PSPI.pdf

      “Blog readers employ selective exposure to source information from blogs that support their existing views. More than half of blog users seek out blogs that support their views, whereas only 22% seek out opposing blogs, leading to the creation of “cyber-ghettos” (T.J.Johnson, Bichard, & Zang, 2009). These cyber-ghettos, in turn, have been identified as one reason for the increasing polarisation of political discourse (McCright, 2011; Stroud,2010)”

      Lewandowsky has managed to polarise the situation even more..

      • HaroldW
        Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 7:00 AM | Permalink

        Barry Woods: “Lewandowsky has managed to polarise the situation even more.”
        Perhaps that was his intention.

      • Skiphil
        Posted Nov 28, 2012 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

        Now this link is broken:

        404 – File or directory not found.
        The resource you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.

        • HaroldW
          Posted Nov 28, 2012 at 8:18 PM | Permalink

          Skiphil (Nov 28, 2012 at 7:41 PM)
          Try this URL instead.

  25. TGSG
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 3:08 AM | Permalink

    The resolution, to justify the use of military force against Iraq, cited 12 seperate reasons . A simple search by our esteemed Mr. Lewandowsky et al would, I guess, have been too much work. One of many highly misleading questions.

    • MikeN
      Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 1:39 PM | Permalink

      Steve put up a post comparing the case for WMD in Iraq to climate science.

  26. Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 4:37 AM | Permalink

    Once Lewandowsky’s paper gets into the flagship journal Psycological Science, job done.
    as it will no doubt be cited many times, even if many responses are made to the journal..

    Furture papers will cite it, and in the media and amongst scientist they will merely wave away any questions with, did you not see the ‘peer reviewed’ paper that showed all sceptics are conspiracy theorists. Newspaper headlines, have already been generated saying this.. Slashdot, Think Progress, Readfearn and many others will just repeat that simple message. No one will ever look at the paper, nor ask for the data

    JUST like the Doran Zimmermann paper, some may even read the paper that states the 97% of scientists say, BUT I doubt anybody will actually read the original source cited within the Doran Paper, M-Zimmermanns 150 pg MSc thesis, and the detail of her survey..

    I noticed that Lewandowsky himself, in the paper cites Doran.. But I bet he has NEVERY read Zimmermann.. (where much of the feedback to the survey is very critical) I bought the paper and wrote about it, a while back..

    IF the paper gets into print, I’m sure we will be hearing, ‘peer reviewed paper shows all sceptics are conpiracy theorists’ for year. Much like we still hear about the ‘97% of scientists say’

    Perhaps Lewandowsky should read the papers thatthe papers he cites cite.. and he might learn something

    M Zimmermann had this to say after completeing her survey (which is IN the cited paper, nobody ever reads)

    “This entire process has been an exercise in re-educating myself about the climate debate and, in the process, I can honestly say that I have heard very convincing arguments from all the different sides, and I think I’m actually more neutral on the issue now than I was before I started this project. There is so much gray area when you begin to mix science and politics, environmental issues and social issues, calculated rational thinking with emotions, etc.” M – Zimmermann – The Consensus on the Consensus.

    I believe the journal has a new incoming editor (and they had a paper or 2 retracted recently), has anybody sent the editor a copy of this blog post yet..

    Or, we will hear for ever more Michael Mann, George mONBIOT, Gleick, Mooney, Cook, and all th emedia, writing about how peer reviewed science has hsown all sceptics to be nuts..

    • Skiphil
      Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 10:44 PM | Permalink

      So well summarized, Barry! (and thanks for all your fine work on these topics) I know there are some who don’t think these are important issues compared to “real” climate science matters, but I differ: Lew & Corner* & friends are trying to establish this media meme of nutty “deniers” who believe the moon landings were faked and so naturally (“therefore” in Lew’s title) cannot believe anything climate scientists tell us. It is a vicious, calculated strategy to try to discredit and smear all of us. Lewandowsky is a leader in that contemptible campaign to shove all of us beyond the margins and out of all public debate.

      *for those who haven’t followed it at BH, Adam Corner is a UK psychologist and green activist who immediately flogged the Lewandowksy paper in the Guardian to push Lew’s messaging widely across the UK public.

  27. KnR
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 5:25 AM | Permalink

    Even at its best such approaches to gather data are highly problematic, a fact taught to any undergraduate thinking of using such surveys .And this far from being ‘at its best ‘
    Its be clear there is probable people who are sceptics that hold what look like mad views on other subjects, because people who are AGW sceptics come from all types , religions, races etc and that means they just a likely to hold full range of opinions as anyone else .
    Its actual an AGW proponents game to claim that AGW sceptics are ‘sepcial’ , in their case they mean this an insults and Lewandowsky work forms part of this approach to paint sceptics as not just wrong , but as ‘mad or bad ‘
    While its therefore true AGW sceptics can be 9/11 ,UFO conspiracy nuts etc that is equally true of AGW proponents . There have after all been some great scientists that I have held strong religions beliefs.

  28. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 5:40 AM | Permalink

    Steve, please take a rest for your health. I’m older than you and know how tired spells can hurt.

    There has been little discussion about the nature of people who would respond to a survey of this type. I see at first a 2 x 2 table with ‘scientifically experienced/not experienced’ then ‘disinterested in survey because questions are junk/ will follow the survey so I can find the source in case I wish to develop matters.’ This 4-group classification applies to both ‘sides’ if there is indeed such a siding and not a continuum.

    The most valuable potential responses, one would hope, would be from the experienced scientists. The majority would regard the questions as junk – that is, they would be people who did not respond, thereby placing an immediate and huge bias of skills into the response. I would think the most numerous actual respondent group would be inexperienced in science, rather badly so, because it takes little time to be satisfied that many of the questions cannot be answered with satisfaction because the are posed ineptly, ambiguously, illdefined, etc. That leaves the group of experienced scientists who wanted to keep in the system to see where it led. This is where I suspect that the highest portion of true sceptics would reside. I think that both of us would know people inquisitive enough to say “OK, I’ll go along for the ride”.

    If that is the case, then those going for the ride would probably pay little attention to the questions. From this it would follow that an analysis of the results would be pointless because it was not representative of a population. That, as I read it, is what your analysis does show.

    I apologise for yet another poor showing by Australia.

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 5:51 AM | Permalink

      Seconded, apart from being younger!

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 8:47 AM | Permalink

        Re: Robert Christopher (Sep 9 05:51),

        My 89-year old mother just returned from a trip to Moose Factory up at James Bay. Her expedition included a 5-hour canoe trip with two of my sisters – she was paddling, not a passenger.

        • Geoff Sherrington
          Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 1:35 AM | Permalink

          Surveys show that the female is the stronger, more durable demographic at our ages.

  29. X Anomaly
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 6:14 AM | Permalink

    “Only 5 disagree with the second while agreeing with the first. ”

    Don;t you mean “Only 5 disagree with the first while agreeing with the second.”

  30. pjm
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 6:39 AM | Permalink

    Lewandowsky et al should have been published on April 1st.

  31. Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 7:11 AM | Permalink

    With Iraq I think what Lewandowsky was after was the idea that the US administration and UK deliberately deceived the public regarding WMDs in Iraq in order to gain public support for the invasion. Often his phrasing of questions is not well thought through.

    I actually think it would be likely that those influenced by conspiracy theories – or at least some conspiracy theories – would be more likely to be climate sceptics – but I am not sure why we should make to much of that. An exception might be those anti-GM or anti-vaxers who have a general suspicion of big corporations. Most conspiracy theorists might be climate sceptics, but that doesn’t mean that most climate sceptics are conspiracy theorists. Anymore than most conspiracy theorists believe the US and UK governments deliberately deceived over Iraqi WMDs, but most people who believed the governments were deceptive are not conspiracy theorists.

  32. manicbeancounter
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 7:13 AM | Permalink

    Thanks Steve for the excellent analysis. When reading it clarified something on which I have commented on elsewhere.
    Lewandowsky opens the paper with the words

    More than 90% of climate scientists agree that the global climate is changing largely
    due to human CO2 emissions

    The second of two references – Doran and Zimmerman 2009 – was a survey of scientists based on two simple questions

    1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
    2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

    Lewandowsky’s first two questions are

    CO2TempUp – I believe that burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric temperature to some measurable degree.
    CO2HasNegChange – I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years has caused serious negative changes to the planet’s climate.

    Lewandowsky’s control group of expert opinion is far more inclusive than the survey questions. He is comparing apples with pears.

  33. LearDog
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 7:30 AM | Permalink

    Great post Steve – but I think folks have fallen into Curtis’ trap of excusing this work as shabby academic analysis. IMHO the disconnect between the Title (Faked Moon Landing) and the Surveys own data reveals this to be a pure con job – and should be subject to investigation as academic misconduct.

    This is willful.

  34. MacDaddy
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 7:47 AM | Permalink

    When I read

    “Despite Bain’s prolific writing on the use and abuse of dehumanizing epithets, he was oddly oblivious to the function of the term “denier” as a means of dehumanizing IPCC critics”

    I immediately recalled a must-see, hilariously on-point interview on the Jon Stewart show:

  35. Tony Mach
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 7:56 AM | Permalink

    snip –
    Steve: no discussion of the underlying conspiracies please.

    • Tony Mach
      Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 2:50 AM | Permalink

      Steve, that video contained among others direct testimonies by the POUS and others from the US government, their direct words, what they have said themselves about WMD (and the other “reasons” for ware) and whether they had anything to do with the causes for war (what I would consider primary sources) – but OK.

      To be more ontopic: Lewandowsky should have included some control question, like made-up conspiracies.

      Or maybe he should have researched conspiracy theories better in the first place – while most of the conspiracy theories are total bonkers, there are some things that sound like a conspiracy theory, but that have actually happened (self snipping examples not included by Lewandowsky). What does it say about someone, when he believes something has not happened, that has actually happened?

      My view is that as much as he takes on faith for climate science, as much he does for conspiracy theories.

      And one more thing: You write that it is unreasonable to assume that someone believes in all conspiracy theories, no matter how bonkers. My experience is different. Anytime Anthony Watts publishes something about “Dark Matter”, the “Electric Universe” nut-jobs appear (for lack of a better description), who seem to believe in every BS under the sun, because the Bible is right and Science is wrong.

      And then, as another example of gullible people believing everything, there are the people who believe in “alternate”/”complementary”/”integrative”/”naturopathic”/”holistic” medicine (or any other of the codewords). These people tend to believe in every pseudo-medical BS under the sun: From homeopathy to reiki, from miracle-cancer-cures to “the secret”, from “vaccines kill us” to “all plants are good”. I haven’t seen one “medical practitioner” or “health activist” in that area who limits him- or herself to a few BS theories.

  36. ansel61
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 8:08 AM | Permalink

    As others have said, Steve, you really need to put yourself first for a while and an engrossing hobby is a great idea. For a break from computers and the digital life, why not get a 35mm film camera, put some black and white film in it and capture the world around you. If you like, you can visit my website for inspiration:

    Whatever, take care of yourself.

  37. Andy
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 8:13 AM | Permalink

    Well done.

    Look after yourself.

  38. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 8:38 AM | Permalink

    Here is an R-script to do the calculations and generate the graphics in this post. (It is edited from the version actually used only to improve the flow.)

    The script extracts the counts for skydragons (fake-or-real) and skeptics (lukewarmers). The dramatic difference can be illustrated in many ways and with a little thought perhaps more dramatically than the scatter plot, though that was how I approached it.

    Steve: WordPress garbled the script that I had placed online below. I’ve re-inserted it and will place a text version online directly.

    	dim(bak) #1145 32
    # [1] "CYNewWorldOrder" "CYSARS"          "CYPearlHarbor"   "CYAIDS"          "CYMLK"          
    # [6] "CYMoon"          "CYArea51"        "CYJFK"           "CY911"           "CYRoswell"      
    #[11] "CYDiana"         "CYOkla"          "CYCoke"          "CauseHIV"        "CauseSmoke"     
    #[16] "ConsensHIV"      "ConsensSmoke"   
    crankindex =c(13,14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23)
    ## Simple Counts
    #skydragons and skeptics
    rbind( NegChange=with(bak,table(CO2HasNegChange) ),
     	TempUp=with(bak,table(CO2TempUp) ) )
    #               1   2   3   4
    # NegChange    133 116 356 540
    # TempUp        58  69 198 820
    with(bak,table(CO2HasNegChange,CO2TempUp) )
    #              CO2TempUp
    #CO2HasNegChange   1   2   3   4
    #              1  53  41  36   3
    #              2   3  25  43  45
    #              3   0   3  99 254
    #              4   2   0  20 518
    #define skeptic
    	benchSkep=sum(temp1)/1145 #,111
    #define skydragon
    	temp2=bak$CO2HasNegChange<=2& bak$CO2TempUp<=2
    	(benchSky=sum(temp2)/1145) # 0.1065
    #define combo
    	Stat[j,]= c(sum(temp),sum(temp&temp2),sum(temp&temp1),sum(temp&temp0),sum(temp&!temp1&!temp2) ) 
    for(j in 14:15 ) {
    	temp= bak[,i]<3
    	Stat[j,]= c(sum(temp),sum(temp&temp2),sum(temp&temp1),sum(temp&temp0),sum(temp&!temp1&!temp2) ) 
    for(j in 16:17 ) {
    	temp= bak[,i]<50 
    	Stat[j,]= c(sum(temp),sum(temp&temp2),sum(temp&temp1),sum(temp&temp0),sum(temp&!temp1&!temp2) ) 
    #                count skydragon skeptic combo warmist
    # NewWorldOrder    70        44       7    51      19
    # SARS             42        13       3    16      26
    # PearlHarbor     146        25      16    41     105
    # AIDS              9         4       0     4       5
    # MLK              90        13       5    18      72
    # Moon             10         4       0     4       6
    # Area51           35        11       2    13      22
    # JFK             247        45      29    74     173
    # 911              69        12       3    15      54
    # Roswell          47        14       6    20      27
    # Diana            25         9       1    10      15
    # Okla            289        27      24    51     238
    # Coke            151        24      20    44     107
    # CauseHIV         16        12       1    13       3
    # CauseSmoke       11         7       0     7       4
    # ConsensHIV       14         8       1     9       5
    # ConsensSmoke     11         4       0     4       7
    	plot(share~count,Stat,pch=19,xlab="Conspiracy Count",ylab="'Skeptic' Share" )
    	title("'Skeptic' Share versus Conspiracy Count")
    	for(i in c(1:5,7:11,13,14,15,16) ) text(Stat[i,1],Stat[i,"share"],name0[i],col=2,pos=4,font=2)
    	plot(share~count,Stat,pch=19,xlab="Conspiracy Count",ylab="'Skeptic' Share",ylim=c(0,.8) ,yaxs="i")
    	title("Scatter Plot - 'True' Skeptic")
    	#for(i in 1:17 ) text(Stat[i,1],Stat[i,"share"],name0[i],col=2,pos=4,font=2)
    	plot(share~count,Stat,pch=19,xlab="Conspiracy Count",ylab="'Skeptic' Share",ylim=c(0,.8) ,yaxs="i")
    	title("Scatter Plot - Skydragon")
    	for(i in 1:17 ) text(Stat[i,1],Stat[i,"share"],name0[i],col=2,pos=4,font=2)
      	barplot(t(Stat[order1,2:3]),beside=TRUE,las=3,ylab="Conspiracy Count",ylim=c(0,50))
     	legend("topleft",fill=c("black","lightblue"),legend=c("Skydragon","Lukewarmer") )
    work= round(t( t(Stat)/count) ,3)
     barplot( t(work[order1,c(2,3,5)]),beside=TRUE,las=3,col=1:3,ylim=c(0,.45),ylab="Fraction Adherence")
    	legend("topleft",fill=1:3,legend=c("Skydragon","Lukewarmer","Warmist") )
    	title("Conspiracy Adherence")
    • Dave
      Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 9:09 AM | Permalink

      Off topic, but I thought some of your readers might be interested in this:

      Computing for Data Analysis – Roger D. Peng

      “This course is about learning the fundamental computing skills necessary for effective data analysis. You will learn to program in R and to use R for reading data, writing functions, making informative graphs, and applying modern statistical methods.”

      “About the Instructor(s) – Roger D. Peng is an associate professor of Biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health”

      Free online course from John Hopkins Bloomberg SoPH. The whole Coursera site looks interesting.

    • DaleC
      Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 11:55 PM | Permalink

      Anyone else been able to execute this code? I get an error at:

      #define combo
      > temp0=bak$CO2HasNegChange=3
      > Stat[j,]= c(sum(temp),sum(temp&temp2),sum(temp&temp1),sum(temp&temp0) )
      Error: object ‘temp’ not found

      Processes OK to this point.

      Steve: sorry WordPress is terrible with scripts. It gets mixed up by less-than and greater-than signs. I’ve replaced the text, but will also upload the script to in native form.

    • DaleC
      Posted Sep 12, 2012 at 11:50 AM | Permalink

      Thanks for the download link. The code now runs without error. The charts look OK except for the last one, “Conspiracy Adherence”.

      The values in t( t(Stat)/count) are wonky, for example JFK Warmist is an illogical 1.418032787.

      The chart as displayed in the main post above is correct (I verified using an independent survey processing software package) but the R code above does not replicate that I can manage. t(Stat)/count appears to be doing the right thing (divide the row values by the column totals) but I cannot see where the 1.418032787 is coming from. For JFK Warmist, the share should be 173/896=0.193.

  39. AntonyIndia
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

    Reading of Stephan Lewandowsky I notice 3 points:

    1)It reads more like political blog than a science blog.
    2)From the first blog posted in March 11th 2011 till September 3rd 2012 (about the above matter) Lewandowsky attracted an average of ~ 1 1/2 comments per post. This includes his 6 posts about his new book “The Debunking Handbook”, a guide to debunking myths.
    3)Since pre-publicizing the above mentioned article his blog replies shot up to ~ 48 per post.

    Lewandowsky still looks happy with that fuss created which surprises we from a debunking champion after seeing the little he showed about his survey research. Never saw a man laughing after shooting himself in the foot before.

  40. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

    I’ve added a barplot comparing conspiracy adherence of skydragons fake-and-real versus skeptics (lukewarmers). It is probably clearer than the scatter plot. The difference is really quite startling.

  41. Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 10:02 AM | Permalink

    How many respondents in total were classified as ‘skeptics’? And how many were classified as ‘conspiracists’?

    It’s actually fairly significant to know both numbers. First, you have to reach a minimum number to say anything significant (statistically) about a group. Second, if Lewandowsky classed anyone who qualified as a skeptic as a conspiracist, he is saying all skeptics are conspiracy theorists. Which would seem a bit odd.

  42. Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 10:06 AM | Permalink

    Good stuff

  43. Matt Skaggs
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

    “Proper statistical analysis requires more than Lewandowsky’s method of simply feeding lousy data into a Mannian meat-grinder.”

    …reminds me why this is my favorite blog! Perhaps the best term for the data in this study is “crowd-bodged.”

  44. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

    I’ve added a second barplot showing the fraction adherence to each conspiracy, adding warmists as well.

  45. stan
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

    Isn’t all of this a bit like criticizing witches for improper data collection, data archiving or statistical analysis in their use of entrails or tea leaves for prediction?

    • Will Richardson
      Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

      Good Stan, very good.

  46. Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 10:42 AM | Permalink

    “While I’ve not surveyed blog readers on the point, my guess is that most “denizens” of “skeptical” blogs hold similar opinions.”

    Steve, I can provide some sort of answer with some authority on that. Before I helped found the Scottish Climate & Energy Forum, I worked with sceptics online to find out what was the typical view or range of views.

    Eventually, thanks to a lot of comments I eventually found a form of words that seemed to reflect a “consensus” (albeit that part of the consensus was that there is not total agreement). Most sceptics who expressed an opinion at the time said they could broadly support this statement:

    The discussions leading to this can be found here:

  47. MikeN
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

    Never heard that Coke conspiracy theory. Perhaps skeptic blogs should become warmists, so that demand for skepticism would increase.

  48. Russell
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 1:04 PM | Permalink


    Steve: I agree with your point but it’s OT.

  49. Pharos
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

    Further to Lewandowsky’s May 2010 ‘sneering’ Climategate editorial, his post-mortem on the same theme 18 months later found favour (along with several other of his opinion pieces in the sidebar) in

    duly reposted by the UK’s Guardian on the same day

  50. MarkB
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

    Ignoring the obvious ideological hatchet job, it boggles the mind that an internet survey of any kind could be published in an academic journal. People magazine and Sports Illustrated do surveys. I would be humiliated to have my name associated with such an embarrassment.

  51. Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings.

  52. manicbeancounter
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 4:41 PM | Permalink

    Steve, you say

    If there were only 10% (12) fakes in the skydragon pattern, that would imply 46% skydragons in the skeptic population – a proportion that is inconceivable in my opinion as a long time blog operator.

    Whilst this reasoning might be correct, my own, reading is that to regularly trawl through articles with which you disagree – indeed attacks your views – takes a certain kind of person that may not be representative of the wider sceptic community. However, it is pure speculation, as the survey was not posted on a major sceptic blog. Either way, there is reason to believe it is not a representative sample.

    Steve: I’m only trying to guesstimate the number of fake proxies. It is possible that the proportion of skydragons is higher at the anti-skeptic blogs but there’s no real reason to think so. I’m not depending on this point for the estimate, i’m using it as a reasonability check.

    • Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 6:25 PM | Permalink

      Steve, as a regular denizen of a pro-science blog, I can tell you that the proportion of skydragon slayers (and worse) is certainly up around 50%. Former (and one current) “skeptical” denizens of SkS included a person who argued that not only is global warming caused by geothermal energy, but so also is the temperature gradient between poles and equator; and another who frequently argues that global warming is caused by radar. Skydragon slayers seem sane by comparison.

      Steve: Climate Audit is a very much a “pro-science” blog. When I criticize paleoclimate articles, I do so on scientific and statistical principles. Surely it is the refusal to, for example, admit even the simplest proposition (e.g. upside down Tiljander) that is anti-science. Or trying to build theories on fake responses.

      Whatever your complaint about other sites, I think that you will find Climate Audit to be almostly completely free of skydragon topics and commentary, which does not interest me and which is offtopic to the threads that I post.

      • Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 6:45 PM | Permalink

        I take your impressions seriously Tom. But so do I Steve’s. The explanation? There are different percentages on SkS and the blogs Steve is more familiar with, like CA, Lucia’s and Bishop Hill. Why? That’s a much more worthwhile question than those Lewandowsky paper purports to answer.

      • Skiphil
        Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 7:12 PM | Permalink

        Reasonable people critical of the gang of arrogant abusive control freaks at SkS would be most unlikely to waste their time playing there in such a fixed and biased game. Thus, sites like SkS will never have any balanced, representative group of “skeptical” visitors. SkS will only get a bizarrely skewed set of supposed skeptics who have some theory to peddle and who revel in the abuse.

      • Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 9:43 PM | Permalink

        Steve, your are entitled to your opinions, and to use tendentious labels (anti-skeptic) accordingly. I am entitled to do the same. That I disagree with your assessment of the nature of Skeptical Science is not, however, the germaine point.

  53. Russell
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 5:03 PM | Permalink

    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 1:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve: I agree with your point but it’s OT.

    Really ? The erased matter concerns set theory and the sociology of science – if you don’t like finding yourself on the inside of your own Venn diagram, try changing your mind.

    Steve: it is a long-standing policy of this blog to ask people to discuss thermodynamics and radiation elsewhere. Lucia is interested in the topics and it’s more in line with her interests. I’m sure that she’d be happy to accommodate a discussion on your points. I don’t try to cover all topics at this blog. Indeed, my policy was one of the reasons why she started her excellent blog. I see no reason to re-visit the policy.

  54. biff33
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 5:31 PM | Permalink

    Lewandowsky’s first question is:

    “CO2TempUp – I believe that burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric temperature to some measurable degree.”

    Has it been measured? If so, when, how, by whom, and what was the observed measurement?

    If not, why not?

    My answer to Lewandowsky’s question would be “strongly disagree.” Until now, I didn’t know that makes me a “skydragon.”

    • Nicholas
      Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 2:11 AM | Permalink

      This is a good point. I took A. Scott’s survey at WUWT which uses the same questions. I can’t remember exactly but I think I scored this one “disagree”, not because I don’t agree that increasing the % of CO2 in the atmosphere should create some warming (I think it probably will) but rather because I’m not sure that the increase to date is large enough to be stastically significant, given the potentially rather large sources of error in the measurements. The increase since 1900 due to CO2 may be say 0.4 degrees C but the error over that period may be 0.5 degrees C or even more (eg, due to differences in measurement instruments and methods over the last 100 years).

      So I think reasonable people can disagree with this question, at least partly due to the awkward way in which is it worded and that doesn’t necessarily make them trolls.

    • bmcburney
      Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 2:08 PM | Permalink

      This was my problem with that statement as well. Up to this point, I have considered myself a “lukewarmer”. To me, “measurable” means that it has been or could be actually measured. How can anyone agree with that? But even if “measurable” really means something like “an increase which would be large enough to be measured if all other influences were held stationary” in context the impossibility of that condition ever being met seems to require disagreement with the statement.

  55. cagwskeptic99
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 7:10 PM | Permalink

    I tried the first few questions of the ‘survey’. The questions were poorly phrased and should include a response choice like ‘idiotic question with no reasonable answer’. I am surprised if any serious people other than trolls actually answered the questions.

  56. Craig Loehle
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 7:22 PM | Permalink

    If you set out to prove something, are in a hurry, and the results are simply delightful, stop and do it over, get someone else to look at it, or put it away for a week or two. You have just done something horribly stupid and careless in your haste to prove your point.

  57. Just Tex
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Permalink

    This is fascinating stuff! Attempting to understand the motivations and mindset of hardcore CAGW believers has always been most difficult for me.

    This is (as always) another well thought through and deeply insightful post. Thank you again, Mr. McIntyre. Once you’ve recovered from jet-lag and feel more fully rested once again, I’m looking forward to reading about your next intuitive investigation.

  58. Jamesg
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

    what happened to the conspiracy theory that the coal and oil industries are funding disinformation campaigns about global warming?

  59. Joshua corning
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 8:40 PM | Permalink

    I am confused as to why my post was deleted.

    I pointed out that all the questions were designed to get a disagree answer as the “correct” one. Which seems strange becouse a person could simply answer all the questions “disagree” without reading them and get them all “right”. This does not seem like a proper way to set up such an experiment.

    I also pointed out that it did not include real conspiracies such as the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. This again would be a good control in that it would expose people just line answering the questions and people who just agrees with every crazy thing they heard or those who disagree with everything. Was that it? I did not know the US Tuskegee syphilis experiment was in question.

    Perhaps I should have used the example of Brutus and the Roman Senate assassinating Julius Caesar as an example of a real conspiracy. Regardless of what real conspiracy i use as an example the point is the experiment did not have them in the questions as a control.

    I also pointed out the wording of the first question about the Iraq war seemed odd. All the questions seemed to desire “disagree” for the “correct” answer but that one was more ambiguous. The Bush administration did say WMDs was one of the justifications for the war but they also claimed that Iraq was a state sponsor of terror. Is the fact that the Bush administration used these two justifications not just the one in question?

    I can provide links if you wish.

    I think examining the specific questions and their answers is Germain to the discussion and i think i found another flaw in them that was not previously discussed. Namely that the questions did not seems to have any controls to sort out people who answer the questions without thinking about them.

    If you choose to delete this comment like the last one I would like to know why.

    Steve: I didn’t want to get into discussion of conspiracies themselves. I wish to limit discussion to the data question: the existence and detection of fake responses.

  60. Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 9:04 PM | Permalink

    Dr. Lew’s latest:

    A Cabal of Bankers and Sister Souljah
    Posted on 9 September 2012 by Stephan Lewandowsky
    One of the many adverse consequences of knee-jerk science rejection is the voluminous noise generated in response to certain events, such as the recent publication of my paper on rejection of science and conspiracist ideation. Whenever baseless accusations are launched, whether against me or other scientists, this detracts attention from other potentially substantive issues.

    more at the link

    • kim
      Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 1:31 AM | Permalink

      The last refuse of a scoundrel.

  61. Iceman
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 9:35 PM | Permalink

    Steve’s reason of not opening the survey email is very smart. I get hundreds of emails daily. company and my policy is if you don’t know the sender delete it. Never click on a link from an unsolicited email as you will soon be sorry, or your computer will be.

  62. EdeF
    Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 9:38 PM | Permalink


    Most of us on the blog probably have similar views to yourself regarding AGW, and we are totally able to discriminate hoaxs or farces from real controversies. Its not even close. The climate community must have a thoroughly ignorant idea of what other scientists and engineers in other fields are thinking.

    I closing, I would like to point out that there was in fact only a single alien found at Roswell.

  63. Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 9:44 PM | Permalink

    I guess I am the only one who did not get the skydragon reference. Maybe I should get out more.

    Thanks for the great analysis.

    • bmcburney
      Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 2:12 PM | Permalink

      I didn’t get it at first either (but that’s what google is for–right?).

  64. Posted Sep 9, 2012 at 10:43 PM | Permalink

    Data obtained from Internet surveys is subject to so many distortions that to call it scientifically worthless is an overstatement of its value. In typical surveys, for example, it’s trivial for a single enthusiastic participant to skew the results massively by injecting a large number of responses purporting to be from many different respondents. (Basic countermeasures, such as checking for duplicate IP addresses, are easy to circumvent, and can themselves introduce biases.)

    So while I appreciate Steve’s attempt to extract signal from the observed data, I don’t think his results are particularly trustworthy, and I fear that they may end up doing more harm than good, as the credence he implicitly lends to the data itself may distract people from its fundamental untrustworthiness.

    (I have a similar concern about Steve’s analysis of proxy-based climate reconstructions: by quibbling over the minutiae of the statistical methods used, he may in fact be giving undeserved credibility to the proxy data itself, despite the glaring lack of actual physical evidence that the “proxies” in question ever correlate with historical climate except by random chance.)

  65. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 2:12 AM | Permalink

    In my jack-of-all-trades career I actually set up a telephone polling operation manned by head office staff after work. The questions were worded by a very experienced outsider. It’s trite to say that any poll is heavily dependent on the phrasing of the questions, so it is not uncommon to include questions to help get a feel for the ‘donkey vote’ and similar invalid responses.
    It is also most desirable that the person managing the poll knows the answers to the questions. Only that way can the balance of agree/disagree be calculated effectively. For this reason, it would help if Prof Lewandowsky published what he thought were the right answers. “Right” can mean factally correct and/or logically corect. As I posted in part at Jo Nova’s blog about the New World Order –

    Ill-posed question. In this case it hinges on the precise definition of ‘secretive’.
    8. A powerful and secretive group known as the New World Order are p[l]anning to eventually rule the world through an autonomous world government, which would replace sovereign governments.
    Refer to the paper “A New Growth Path for Europe” Authors Carlo Jaeger and 15 others, involves Potsdam Institute Germany, Oxford University England, Universite Paris Sorbonne and more. Dated 2011, commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation & Nuclear Safety. Two quotes:
    “Josef Ackermann: “Make no mistake: a new world order is emerging. The race for
    leadership has already begun. For the winners, the rewards are clear: Innovation
    and investment in clean energy technology will stimulate green growth; it will create
    jobs; it will bring greater energy independence and national security.”
    “After the global crisis of 1929, such a surge of investment in
    Europe as elsewhere was initiated by the perspective of military armament. Nowadays, this
    is obviously not an option. However, after the financial crisis of 2007–08, the perspective
    of sustainable development can mobilize investment in a similar way for a worthier purpose.” (That is, last time we felt this way, we started arming up for WWII, while telling Britain that war was not an option.)
    Logically, one can tick this as a “yes”, because there is a new world order forming, or fail it with a “no” because we know about it and it is therefore not secretive.

    So, how about some answers to your own questions, Professor?

  66. Okies
    Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 2:49 AM | Permalink

    While the above discussion is all well and good, even more to the point is the simple fact that open-access web polls are generally only used for entertainment purposes, as the results are frequently completely unrepresentative of any population (be it general or targeted), people respond multiple times, fake responses, etc. etc.

    That anyone could get academic publications based on instant web polls is surprising and a bit dismaying.

  67. Michael Larkin
    Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 2:50 AM | Permalink


    Thanks for the very readable and understandable analysis, even for a non-techie like me.

    BTW, regarding your sprained ankle, something that worked for me with a sprained wrist was an earthing band that can just as easily be put on the ankle. Try not to be too sceptical! 😉

  68. Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 3:19 AM | Permalink

    When I first encountered Lewandosky’s work, I could not believe that he was an academic; I now can’t believe that he is still employed in the School of Psycholgy at the University of Western Australia (Cognitive Science Laboratory, no less), where he has been since 1995. My taxes are paying for this nonsense!

  69. Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 4:01 AM | Permalink

    Prof Lewandowsky has yet another article, but is still not answering questions:

    I have added this comment:

    Professor Lewandowsky has now written 5 articles, but has yet to find the time to answer any of the substantive questions about the paper. Tom’s at 5# seems very important.

    Another is a major Factual error in the paper about data collection, which I might ask is corrected prior to publication.We now know the names of all 8 blogs claimed to have been surveyed. The paper states that 5 sceptic blogs were approached but did not publish it, thus no results would have been recieved from sceptic blogs (a failing in itself, given the title)

    To quote the paper here:

    Click to access LskyetalPsychScienceinPressClimateConspiracy.pdf

    “Links were posted on 8 blogs (with a pro-sciencescience stance but with a diverse audience); a further 5 “skeptic” (or “skeptic”-leaning) blogs were approached but none posted the link.”

    We now know this to be INCORRECT. as JunkScience (a 9th blog, one of the 5 sceptic blogs asked presumably?) DID publish the survey.As JunkScience has a high Alexa ranking, much higher in fact than the majority of the 8 ‘pro-science’ blogs surveyed. one might expect to see a significant number of results from this survey.

    Yet, the paper states INCORRECTLY that no sceptic blog published the survey.
    What effect on the paper is there when the high traffic Junkscience data is included?
    Why was this data not reported?
    Why was the claim made that no sceptic blog published the survey?

  70. Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 4:15 AM | Permalink
    survey Of 1,000 British adults in Jul 2008.

    The online poll, by film company 20th Century Fox·
    1 Area 51 exists to investigate aliens (48%)·
    2 9/11 was orchestrated by the US government (38%)·
    3 Apollo landing was a hoax (35%)·
    4 Diana and Dodi were murdered (32%)·
    5 The Illuminati secret society and masons are trying to take over the world (25%)·
    6 Scientologists rule Hollywood (17% )·
    7 Barcodes are really intended to control people (7%)·
    8 Microsoft sends messages via Wingdings (6%)·
    9 US let Pearl Harbour happen (5%)·
    10 The world is run by dinosaur-like reptiles (3%)

    Sceptics come out quite sane by comparison.

    Just for amusement value only please, another survey of a 1000 individuals, general population.Compared
    To Lewandowsky’s survey, even though the sceptic conspiracy theories may bevspammed.

    The sceptics seem to be doing quite well compared to general population, as do the readers of the pro-science blogs!


    So are the general public the problem for policy makers, not sceptics. 😉

    It would be nice if one of the authors could address my questions about the results of the JunkScience survey, above

  71. DaleC
    Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 5:34 AM | Permalink

    On attempting to run the R script, I get this error:

    #define combo
    > temp0=bak$CO2HasNegChange=3
    > Stat[j,]= c(sum(temp),sum(temp&temp2),sum(temp&temp1),sum(temp&temp0) )
    Error: object ‘temp’ not found

  72. Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 6:16 AM | Permalink

    Shaping Tommorrows World are now retrospectively snipping comments (that lasted days) ie I quoted Tom Curtis’ concerns from Skeptical Science.

    I have made this comment at:


    on another article I quoted Tom Curtis from the Sceptical Science blog..

    yet now find the quotes removed, because I have ‘copied and pasted comments against blog policy. YET they were fine for the last several days (a new policy, to spare blushes/criticism perhaps?)

    So it would now seem impossible to quote anybody.. this seems to be censorship of emabarrasing questions.

    May I ask how it is possible to QUOTE anybody accurately, if you have this policy, please reinstate my ‘quotes’.

  73. BFJ
    Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 7:09 AM | Permalink

    The moon landings were real.
    Therefore CAGW is true.

  74. Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 4:20 PM | Permalink

    “In addition to fakes, it is possible that there are some skydragons in the first pattern.”

    Steve, Richard Courtney vehemently denies being a ‘skydragon’, but offers cogent argumentation to support his position that any human effect on temperature is unmeasurable. He did it again today for example here:

    I think it’s a reasonable position, and that labelling people who hold similar positions as ‘skydragons’, even if purely for the purpose of identifying survey subgroups’ is divisive.

    Maybe you could analyse Richard Courtney’s comment and tell us where you think he is incorrect, or provide support for your own view that a human fingerprint on global temperature is measurable so we can consider your reasons for being sure that those who disagree with that position are a small ‘fringe’ of the ‘sceptic community’.



    Steve: nonetheless, there is a relevant distinction. You’re probably right that the group that I labeled skydragons are a larger proportion of the skeptic community than my initial estimate. I realize that no all respondents in this camp are in the thermodynamic camp.

    • Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

      Steve, thanks for the clarification, and for finding the time to respond to this tangential issue. Your main analysis is great IMO.

      Also IMO, Lew now ranks down there with Eysenck and Jensen with his dodgy IQ stats.

  75. Keith Sketchley
    Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 4:53 PM | Permalink

    That’s enough to spin my head around. I am not going to study it, hope you had some fun making it.

    Conspiracy theories are a hoot.

    (I do find the first question poorly stated, is “reasons other than” exclusive (i.e. not) or just that there were additional reasons (the most likely correct answer). Good survey writers are precise – but hey! Keith, these are conspiracy theorists (Lewandowsky is a theorist about climate skeptics, and those who put forth the theories listed in the questions. 🙂

    And the JFK assassination and McVeigh theories were probably widely publicized as suspicions and things to be investigated to be sure.

  76. Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 5:06 PM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre, you have over interpreted my words. It is fairly obvious that Lewandowsky can sincerely disagree with my (and your) analysis. If he did so, it would be immoral for him to rewrite, withdraw or correct. I would have thought the possibility of sincere disagreement was so obvious that nobody would draw the false moral implication from my words. This is particularly so from AGW “skeptics” who are hardly likely to subscribe to the view that disagreement with me is automatically immoral.

    As a further correction, you (correctly) quote me as saying there are ten suspect responses. Further analysis shows that only two of those have unusual response patterns with respect to conspiracy theories, so that only those two have affected the results. I am not sure whether I have stated that publicly prior to this. I am withholding further analysis until I have seen Lewandowsky’s response to some of the issues raised.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 5:26 PM | Permalink

      Tom. thanks for commenting. As someone who’s called out Cuccinnelli and Heartland, I’m glad to see someone on your side actually call out problems on your “side” rather than covering them up.

      Like you, I’ve actually looked at the data. Simply as someone who’s looked at a lot of data in his day, I think that the amount of contamination is very serious – not just a couple of series. Reasonable people can disagree on the extent to which Lewandowsky’s data has been contaminated by fake data, but not on its existence and on the defects in Lewandowsky’s methodology.

      BTW I believe that the distinction between responses of “skydragons” and lukewarm-skeptics is overwhelming as well and points to the serious defects in Lewandowsky’s model of conspiratorial ideation.

      As you say, it is possible that Lewandowsky has substantive responses to the issues of fake data, but thus far he’s refused to deal them in a straightforward way, instead making juvenile responses or simply deleting responses.

      BTW I’ve seen data from the new WUWT survey. It has about the same proportion of Moon Landing and wacko conspiracists. Unsurprisingly most of them purport to be warmists.

      I don’t think that you can safely assume that any of the Moon Landing conspiracists are anything but fake.

      • Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 6:18 PM | Permalink

        Steve, it is probably in any survey of this type that a number of responses do not represent the true opinions of the respondent; or are multiple responses from the same responses. Reasonable measures need to be taken to prevent this; but they cannot be entirely successful because of the lack of available information. Inevitably some gamed responses will leak through, which is reason for caution in interpreting the results but not reason for abandoning internet surveys as a method in social sciences. What concerns me is that two responses which are almost certainly fraudulent have been retained in the data, and their retention has consequences. The other possibly scammed responses I identified do not affect the results obtainable from the data, and so can be dismissed as inevitable noise.

        As it happens, I know Lewandowsky has redone the analysis excluding far more than the two suspect outliers, and obtained the same result. I suspect this is for two reasons which I shall discuss in detail in a blog post of my own later on. The main problem, as I see it is that his result does not analyse the detailed structure of the data as you have done, and that detailed structure is important. Put simply, your analysis appears to show that “AGW skeptics” are more inclined to conspiracy theory ideation, but that this is because of the properties of a subset of the data (the skydragon slayers), which is a very important qualification missed by Lewandowsky.

        There are other aspects of the detailed structure of the data also of interest, and which run counter to Lewandowsky’s narrative.

        Despite this interesting structure, the number of “AGW skeptics” of all colours in the survey are small, and drawn from a possibly non-representative sample. Consequently, while the detailed structure of the data is interesting, and I might add, hardly surprising, it is not consequential. It is drawn from too little data to safely generalize from. The size of the response regarding the Free Market, however, is sufficient to draw reasonable, but already established conclusions.

        The data gathered on acceptors of AGW, where the sample size is substantial (as these things go), and is likely to be representative of AGW acceptors who discuss AGW on AGW blogs. Unfortunately some AGW skeptic blogs have said some truly silly things about that data. So far as I can tell, all it tells us is that AGW proponents tend to be, but are not exclusively left wing; they tend to accept the existence of a consensus on climate change; and (possibly) they are less prone to accepting conspiracy theories than the normal population. No big surprise.

        Finally, I note that you have not corrected the part of the post which misrepresents my views. Would you please do so.

        Steve: I’ve been watching the US Open final for the last 5 hours and it’s late. I’m traveling tomorrow morning and will reconcile this tomorrow afternoon. If you send some suggested text that would be an acceptable characterization, I’ll take a look and do my best to accommodate. (I try to quote directly to avoid mischaracterization. I am regularly annoyed by Real Climate’s practice of self-serving paraphrase rather than direct quotation and feel that people have a right to be represented in their own words, whether or not I agree with them.)

        I strongly disagree with you on climate activists being less prone to conspiracy ideation: the theory that skeptics are lavishly funded by fossil fuel companies is laughable. The conspiracy is also relevant: the Oklahoma conspiracy, for example, was much more strongly adhered to in the survey of Deltoid, Tamino and SkS readers than of WUWT readers.

        Steve: I reviewed the post and do not understand where I misrepresented your views. I quoted extensively from your own words to be sure that I did so. There was no hint in your comment from which I quoted that Lewandowsky could at this point reasonably hold the opinion that his data set was free of fake data. You categorically urged him to withdraw the paper. In my opinion, this was wise counsel that Lewandowsky should pay attention to.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 11:23 PM | Permalink

          Re: Tom Curtis (Sep 10 18:18),
          a question. At SkS in your comment of Sept 5 8.45 am, you provide a lengthy quote from an earlier comment as follows:

          “Unless it is acceptable practise for scientists to knowningly allow falsehood to be published under their name, on hearing of a significant flaw in their paper, the paper must be re-written if there is time; withdrawn and re-written if there is not time for a rewrite before going to press; or have a correction published if it has gone to press. Because these are minimal standards of proper conduct, suggesting that an as yet unprinted paper be re-written or withdrawn is no more offensive than suggesting that it contains major flaws. The only way my suggestions can be considered offensive is if it is insulting to suggest major flaws in somebodies paper. Such an ettiquette is, however, entirely inconsistent with the vigourous review that is the sin qua non of science.

          Such an ettiquette may have grown up among scientists by custom; but in that event it is irrational and I will not pander to it.”

          I have been unable to locate the upstream comment from which this quote derives. Do you have a link handy for the original comment? Or has it been deleted?

        • Tom Curtis
          Posted Sep 11, 2012 at 3:02 PM | Permalink

          Steve, it is a quote from private correspondence, not an SkS comment.

        • Spence_UK
          Posted Sep 11, 2012 at 3:52 PM | Permalink

          So far as I can tell, all it tells us is that AGW proponents tend to be, but are not exclusively left wing; they tend to accept the existence of a consensus on climate change; and (possibly) they are less prone to accepting conspiracy theories than the normal population.

          The methods Lewandowsky uses are no different to unblinded “trials” of acupuncture, where both patient and acupuncturist know the outcome being sought. Such studies are worthless on the topic they are not blinded to and I am amazed to see people endorsing such results. (Although unexpected results – to which there was effective blinding – can still be meaningful)

          Even if we were to achieve a less biased polling method, I would expect to see more “corporate” type conspiracies (big pharma, big agri business and big oil) being rejected to convince myself pro AGW consensus were really less likely to swallow conspiracy theories. Also, I would expect the scientific consensus to include things like the consensus of scientists that GM foods are safe and that vaccines are a big benefit in disease control.

          I can’t imagine why Lewandowsky had so few of those (just one question: the coca cola one, which is hardly a mainstream conspiracy in 2012).

        • Tom Curtis
          Posted Sep 11, 2012 at 3:53 PM | Permalink

          Steve, even if we are entirely correct in our various criticisms, Lewandowsky may remain unconvinced. That may because of a personal blindspot, or a more generalized incompetence. Neither of these are moral offenses. Because of this, you have misrepresented me in interpreting a “he ought to do x because of the evidence adduced that p” as either “it is immoral for him to not believe p, and to do x accordingly” or “it is immoral for him to not act as though p where true regardless of his beliefs”.

          Further, I do not make the automatic assumption that I, or you, are correct in our criticisms. Neither of us are experts in psychology, social science or survey methodology, and I am not expert in statistics. It is entirely possible that our criticisms, while superficially plausible, fail because of some factor we have not considered, but which are well established in the literature on survey technique. I do not think this is the case (or I would not have spoken up), but I cannot preclude it until I have seen Lewandowsky’s full response to criticisms such as yours and mine (which is still forthcoming).

          In any event, if you were to delete the phrase, “Lewandowsky has no moral alternative but to withdraw his paper”, and just lead of with my quote, that would be much better.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Sep 11, 2012 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

          even if we are entirely correct in our various criticisms, Lewandowsky may remain unconvinced. That may because of a personal blindspot, or a more generalized incompetence. Neither of these are moral offenses.

          Tom, I agree with you that disagreeing with either of us is hardly a “moral offense”. However. using fabricated data is pretty serious. And both of us agree that at least some of the responses are not legitimate “skeptic” responses, but are fake responses by anti-skeptics pretending to be skeptics. Which, I submit, and, getting to the point, makes them “fabricated” responses.

          Neither you nor I believe that Lewandowsky himself was involved in the construction of the fabricated responses. However, I strongly disagree with you that Lewandowsky has the option to be stubborn about this, now that there is compelling evidence that some of the responses were fabricated.

          Lewandowsky has the additional problem that the risk that some of the responses might be fabricated/fake was not set out in the article as a major potential problem and there is therefore no guarantee that the editor and peer reviewers turned their minds to this particular issue.

          Here’s what I would recommend (and what I would do if I were in Lewandowsky’s shoes and were confronted by this particular mess right now). Lewandowsky should immediately notify the journal that serious issues have been raised about the potential that some of the responses are suspected of being fake responses by anti-skeptics pretending to be skeptics and giving fabricated answers. If Lewandowsky continues to believe (however implausible you and I may regard his belief) that the responses were honest, he ask the journal to re-peer review the submission with specific attention to the suspect responses.

          In his shoes, even if I believed that the responses were honest, I would be very worried that I was missing something and fooling myself and I’d want someone else to review the file and make an independent decision.

          If Lewandowsky takes the high road, then he transfers the problem from himself to the journal and the next peer reviewers. If they accept the article knowing of the potential fake responses, then Lewandowsky has an escape route. If they reject the article because they are unconvinced, so be it. The decision should be up to a properly informed editor and properly informed peer reviewers.

          If Lewandowsky doesn’t take the matter seriously, if he doesn’t inform the journal and ask for re-review, then he’s taking (in my opinion) a disproportionate risk that the data is subsequently found to be fake and his decision not to inform the journal of the suspect data and ask for re-review is found to be negligent.

          You seem pretty firm on that there is no advantage to cutting corners, something that I hope that we agree on.

          I hope that you think that Lewandowsky has a moral obligation to notify the journal of the problem, ask them for re-review and, in the meantime, ask the journal to withdraw the paper from publication. I ask that you reflect further on the line of conduct that I’ve proposed. If, on reflection, you do not agree with this, I will amend my description of your opinion. But I’d like you to re-confirm before I make the changes.

        • Posted Sep 12, 2012 at 7:59 AM | Permalink

          Steve, I recommend you read Lewandowsky’s latest blog post:

          Given this analysis, it is quite appropriate for Lewandowsky to take the view that probably scammed proxies have been identified, but that they make no difference to the result, so that there is no need for a rewrite or to contact the journal requesting a re-review.

          Having said that, I still have issues with Lewandowsky’s paper, and do not think he has resolved all the issues regarding the analysis itself. But I do not think the mere presence of the two suspect proxies place Lewandowsky in any moral quandary given the robustness of the explicit result.

        • Brandon Shollenberger
          Posted Sep 12, 2012 at 5:25 PM | Permalink

          Tom Curtis:

          Given this analysis, it is quite appropriate for Lewandowsky to take the view that probably scammed proxies have been identified, but that they make no difference to the result, so that there is no need for a rewrite or to contact the journal requesting a re-review.

          That analysis is poor, at best. In no way does it show faked responses aren’t an issue. The reason can be seen in this comment from it:

          In other words, if we discard the top 3% of the data, that is those part of the data which for conceptual reasons should arouse the greatest suspicion,

          There is no reason “the top 3% of the data” should arouse the greatest suspicion. What about the responses that claim zero out of 100 scientists would believe HIV causes AIDs smoking causes lung cancer?

          Or what about the responses where the answers to questions don’t make sense with one another? For example, people claiming to believe more strongly that burning fossil fuels “has increased atmospheric temperature to an appreciable degree” than “believe that burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric temperature to some measurable degree.” Are we supposed to believe people think burning fossil fuels has raised temperatures, but burning fossil fuels doesn’t raise temperatures?

          There 95 responses with nonsensical answers like that. Any analysis of the impact of fake data that doesn’t look at them cannot possibly hope to prove anything.

        • Brandon Shollenberger
          Posted Sep 12, 2012 at 5:37 PM | Permalink

          If we want to remove suspicious data, the first place I’d start is with those 95 responses. The next thing I’d do is remove 16 responses that claim fewer than 10 out of a 100 scientist subset believe HIV causes AIDs/smoking causes lung cancer. After that, I’d remove nine responses that rank belief for CO2 just as lowly.

          I’d also give serious consideration to removing another 20 responses where people give decimal values in response to statements beginning with, “Out of 100 X scientists.” They may not be fake, but if a person doesn’t read a question closely enough to realize you cannot have .9 of a person agree with something, there’s no reason to trust their answers to any questions.

          That’s a total of 140 responses basic sanity checking would call into question. If Stephan Lewandowsky’s wants to say his conclusions aren’t sensitive to bad/fake data, he needs to address them. He hasn’t.

  77. Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 9:04 PM | Permalink

    Thanks Steve. This is what we need you for – occasional detailed analysis of major issues.

  78. lurker passing through, laughing
    Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 10:10 PM | Permalink

    It is a pleasure to note that others also notice the similarity between SL’s bs and GLeick’s bs.
    Of course our host is much more eloquent and in his own civilized way, more damning as well.

  79. Colonial
    Posted Sep 10, 2012 at 11:25 PM | Permalink


    In the text above, there’s a date that was replaced by a caret:

    Identifying the Scam
    Lewandowsky made much of his data available on August ^. It took very little time …

    On my keyboard, the caret is above the number six (6). Was it August 6th?

  80. Skiphil
    Posted Sep 11, 2012 at 3:22 PM | Permalink

    While Lewandowsky et al (2012) have been rightly faulted on grave failing in their collection and analysis of survey data, the single greatest weakness of the paper as submitted was the wild, propagandistic over-reach of the title:

    NASA faked the moon landing|Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax:
    An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science

    I think almost all can agree with Tom Curtis that the title is the single worst aspect of the paper. Even if their data and analysis were basically adequate this title would be inept and highly misleading (I would add malicious).

    The authors go from a very limited correlation of *some* respondents with what they call “conspiracy ideation” to trying to tar *all* skeptics with a conspiracy brush.

    The “therefore” is the single most misleading aspect of an already awful title. There is nothing in their paper to suggest the cause-and-effect of a “therefore” in the title. At most it is a loose correlation which has no causal explanation provided in the paper.

    If Steve is correct (as seems to me the case) that it is a specific sub-set of “skeptical” responses which have some correlation with the authors’ “conspiracy ideation” hypothesis then the “therefore” of the title is even more inept — for there is no possible causal explanation for all of the skeptics who do NOT show the “conspiracist ideation”.

  81. Posted Sep 12, 2012 at 3:54 AM | Permalink

    I don’t know if anyone has pointed this out, but there are two additional(?) flaws in this “study”. The first is that you can’t answer “don’t know/no opinion” (how can I agree or disagree if I haven’t done my research?). The other is, or actually are, some of the questions themselves.

    “A powerful and secretive group known as the New World Order are planning to eventually rule the world through an autonomous world government which would replace sovereign governments.”

    Well, I don’t think anyone believes there is a “group” known as the “New World Order”. Actually, the New World Order (NWO) is a concept of global power, and the individuals behind it are more or less unknown (even if, for example, David Rockefeller admitted being behind it in his book).

    “The claim that the climate is changing due to emissions from fossil fuels is a hoax perpetrated by corrupt scientists who wish to spend more taxpayer money on climate research.”

    Well, even if I’m a sceptic I would probably strongly disagree on this one. It’s not that I’m not able to consider a conspiracy, rather it’s how this question is put (or not put). I find it strongly unprobable that scientists conspire in the mentioned way: actually I find it ridiculous to believe so (oh wait, the study was not meant to ridicule sceptics… or?). Anyway. The conspiracy that I find much more probable is that the funders of the climate science cherry-pick scientists that deliver the “correct” result (just see all those cases of former warmists that loose media coverage and/or funding after turning sceptic). These funders are those who conspire, and their goal is, as with most significant tendencies in the world today, to establish a one world government (just see by yourself in what direction all the climate “solutions” are heading).

  82. Tom Curtis
    Posted Sep 14, 2012 at 9:39 PM | Permalink

    Steve thank you for amending the post to more accurately reflect my opinions.

    Steve: de nada. Though I think that my original characterization was more favorable to you. BTW I don’t think (based on your comments in the “private” SkS forum) that you’ve correctly grasped the import of our MBH critique. There’s been so much disinformation on this, that it’s hard to peel back. Wahl and Ammann are not accurate arbiters – but that’s a topic for another day.

  83. Skiphil
    Posted Sep 27, 2012 at 6:26 PM | Permalink

    This update at TheAirVent belongs on this thread, I think:

    The journal’s editor has apparently agreed to remove the inaccurate and libelous citation of “Condon 2009” without acknowledging any inaccuracy.

  84. Alex Harvey
    Posted Oct 2, 2012 at 10:37 PM | Permalink

    I note

    As is well known, Gleick impersonated a Heartland director, tricking a secretary into sending him board documents. But having got the board documents, Gleick did not simply announce his coup and distribute the documents under his own name. Instead Gleick forged a grotesque memo and distributed it, along with the other documents, pretending to be a “Heartland Insider”.

    Last time I checked in it was only suspected but not proven that Gleick forged the grotesque memo. Can anyone update me as to whether or not this is still the case or has it finally been proven beyond doubt that Gleick also forged the memo?

    Steve: Gleick was originally named because of the forged memo, but has only confessed to the fraudulent identity theft and not to the forgery. To my knowledge, there has not been any investigation by the police. It amazes me that the police in the UK would spend years investigating Climategate with no leads, while the police in the US would avoid investigating Gleick where at least one felony was confessed.
    The institute that Gleick founded and led, Pacific Institute, re-instated him, but it is not known whether they investigated the forged document. Gleick has never provided a plausible explanation of the forged document nor has he provided any reason or evidence that someone else forged the document.

    • Posted Oct 3, 2012 at 5:33 AM | Permalink

      I don’t sense Steve is losing sleep about being sued by Gleick for stating the obvious, put it that way.

  85. DGH
    Posted Jan 15, 2013 at 8:43 PM | Permalink

    Call me crazy but I would have expected the Lewandowsky paper to be published by now. It’s been “in press” for 6-7 months. Is it common for an accepted paper to wait this long?

    A version of the PDF of the paper does appear on a website called . It appears to be identical to the original. Because the last modification date was 8/27 none of changes that were requested by Jeff Id have been addressed.

    • Skiphil
      Posted Jan 15, 2013 at 9:40 PM | Permalink

      Still no sign of the Lew paper being published. He does have this little interview in which he pretends to be an expert on cognition and the correction of misinformation:

      Funny that it appears on the website of the same journal, Psychological Science…. Can you say irony??

    • Skiphil
      Posted Mar 6, 2013 at 12:22 AM | Permalink

      Re: DGH (Jan 15 20:43),

      Update on bizarre aspects of Lewandowsky et al (20???) “Moon Landing” paper and the subsequent “Recursive Fury” paper…. can anyone obtain an honest accounting of the review and publication status of these two papers?

      A.Scott at WUWT on dubious publication status of TWO Lewandowsky papers

      …To review – the original Lewandowsky 2012 “Moon Landing” paper, which Lewandowsky, Cook et al, have claimed since July 2012, to be; peer reviewed accepted for publication by, and “in press” with, Psychological Science has not seen a one of those claims acknowledged or confirmed. The paper has not been published and no acknowledgement has been made by the journal of its acceptance.

      And the same type questionable conduct and issues are arising on the follow on “Recursive” paper as well.

      And all the while the authors of “Moon Landing still have failed/refused to provide the Supplemental Online documentation they claim contains the information necessary to verify and validate their work.

      These are simple, honest, fair questions. Each and every one ignored.

      Steve: Psychological Science (journal) has a long lead time from article acceptance to appearance in print. I think that Scott is drawing conclusions from the long delay when none should be drawn. However, he is correct that Lewandowsky has both failed to place a proper archive online and that Lewandowsky has refused to provide complete data to perceived critics. (Including me. Lewandowsky has refused to provide complete data. And the journal editor Eric Eich of U of Victoria has refused to require Lewandowsky to do so.)

  86. Climate Daily
    Posted Mar 23, 2013 at 6:17 AM | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Climate Daily.

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  1. […] it here. Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook share via Reddit Share with Stumblers […]

  2. […] Anatomy of the Lewandowsky Scam […]

  3. By The Third ‘Skeptic’ « Climate Audit on Sep 10, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    […] Climate Audit by Steve McIntyre Skip to content Hockey Stick StudiesStatistics and RContact Steve McProxy DataCA blog setupFAQ 2005Station DataHigh-Resolution Ocean SedimentsSubscribe to CAEconometric ReferencesBlog Rules and Road MapGridded DataTip JarAboutCA Assistant « Anatomy of the Lewandowsky Scam […]

  4. By The Daily Lew | Watts Up With That? on Sep 10, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    […] Steve McIntyre tears apart the survey, labeling it appropriately: “Lewandowsky, like Gleick, probably fancies himself a hero of the Cause. But ironically. Lewandowsky’s paper will stand only as a landmark of junk science – fake results from faked responses. […]

  5. […] like Steve McIntyre pore over the manner in which the Lewandowsky paper’s survey was conducted. But there is another basic problem with […]

  6. […] […]

  7. […] of some of the Professor’s recent antics. If you’ve got the time and interest, start here and work your way forward.  Again, make up your own […]

  8. […] deniers” with a gussed up survey and statistical slight of hand that turned out to be a an academic scam used as a tool to dehumanize people that have legitimate doubts about the […]

  9. […] Mcintyre did some research on Dr Paul Bain – the same who Jo Nova had a long correspondence with a few months […]

  10. By Lewandowsky Timeline | Geoffchambers's Blog on Mar 24, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    […] […]

  11. […] interestingly, they found that pretty much all of the link between global warming skepticism and stupidity was a couple of […]

  12. […] interestingly, they found that pretty much all of the link between global warming skepticism and stupidity was a couple of […]

  13. […] Please note that the referenced study appears to have violated most of the basic tenets of reliable public surveys.  You can read more than you ever wanted to know about problems with the underlying data at: <; […]

  14. […] Stephen McIntyre: Anatomy of the Lewandowsky Scam […]

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