Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Anthony Watts cooks up a new conspiracy theory

Sou | 3:22 AM Go to the first of 5 comments. Add a comment

Or more proof that science deniers don't read

WUWT is home to many a conspiracy theorist.  Now Anthony comes up with another conspiracy ideation.

He's decided that a survey by John Cook is "biased from the start".  The survey is asking people to rate abstracts of scientific papers as to the extent to which they support the fact of human-caused global warming.  The abstracts are selected from a larger sample of 12,000 papers that mentioned 'global warming' or 'global climate change'.

Why does Anthony think the survey is "biased from the start"? He quotes his mate, Josh who writes:
...a selection of papers based on John’s own idea of which should be chosen.
Well, Josh and Anthony, it is John Cook's survey.  Usually the person designing a survey is the one who decides 'which should be chosen'. So what is the problem?

Anthony sees a conspiracy because instead of a random selection of 12,000 abstracts, participants are offered a random selection of a sample of these.  The sample from which the ten choices are randomly provided is restricted to abstracts that have 1000 words characters or less and which received a 'self-rating' by the authors.

John Cook explained how the survey is randomised and gave his reasons for the sample as follows:
I use an SQL query to randomly select 10 abstracts. I restricted the search to only papers that have received a “self-rating” from the author of the paper (a survey we ran in 2012) and also to make the survey a little easier to stomach for the participant, I restricted the search to abstracts under 1000 characters. Some of the abstracts are mind-boggingly long (which seems to defeat the purpose of having a short summary abstract but I digress).
What an horrendous bias - not!  All aimed at making it easier for people.

Since Anthony seems to have found the above 448 characters too much to get his head around, I doubt he'd manage to work out what even one abstract of 1000 characters meant.  Anyway, we all know that Anthony enjoys feeding his audience conspiracies - and Brandon thrives on conspiracy theories as well.

Not to worry.  I expect there are plenty of other people who can manage the survey.


  1. If he's going to criticise the study for bias, it would be more sensible to criticise the wording of the question or the criteria for sorting. A random selection of abstracts is the least likely place for bias to be introduced.

    1. Anthony just wants to criticize full stop. It doesn't have to make sense (in this case it doesn't make any sense at all).

      Anthony and Brandon Shollenberger see a bogey man behind every ('warmist') door. In Tony's case I think it's part posturing for the sake of his conspiracy-fearing fans. In Brandon's case he seems fixated by conspiracies - they are all around him.

      Anthony doesn't need an excuse other than the survey is from John Cook, who Anthony sees as a prominent 'warmist' and therefore the enemy of Anthony and WUWT (in Tony's small mind). Going by the WUWT cartoon, I don't think Anthony read or understood Brandon's post, he just saw an opportunity to pander to the mob's fear factor.

  2. ...and selecting those abstracts that have already been rated by the authors is what makes the survey genuinely interesting.

    I confess to having done it twice - once at home, once at work - and in each case was interested to discover that I was more conservative than the authors! (That is, I rated papers as more neutral, and the authors rated them as more 'warmist')

    And I'm a 'warmist' if ever there was one.

    I think Willard Tony really doesn't want the troops doing it, and certainly doesn't want the troops to be able to be collectively identified in doing it! There's a reason he vented so much spite at Lewandowsky...

    1. Perhaps Anthony will enlighten us as to why he and The Auditor buried the Lewandowsky look-alike survey that A Scott ran on WUWT :D

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