I wrote before about the conspiracy ideation of Anthony Watts and Brandon Schollenberger in regard to a survey being conducted by John Cook of the University of Queensland (well known for his award-winning website SkepticalScience.com). The Auditor got hot and bothered over it too, suggesting people scam the survey. (Some of the obsessives are even dissecting and analysing and second-guessing the programming of the internet survey.) Now Alec Rawls is jumping into the fray on WUWT. His article is a good demonstration of how the mind of a conspiracy theorist works - or should I say, doesn't work.
Anatomy of a Paranoid Conspiracy Theory
Assumed nefarious intent: The thrust of Rawls' article is mainly premised upon an assumption of nefarious intent. This is one of the markers of conspiracy ideation as described in Recursive Fury.
Climate science is a hoax: The underlying assumption Rawls makes is that climate science is a hoax. Probably more for reasons described here, but you never know, it could be this (which isn't unrelated, just more extreme).
Let me highlight some of the passages, which are followed by my comment in bold italics, some hyper-linked to explanations:
Rawls: Is John Cook planning to use systematically biased “correct” survey answers to make unbiased skeptics look biased? Sou: The title of his article - suggesting from the outset an assumption of nefarious intent.
Rawls: The likely shenanigan has to do with how the rating rules are applied. Sou: Assumed nefarious intent.
Rawls: It seems impossible that Cook could actually have gotten large numbers of authors to apply his rating scale to their papers. Sou: Logical fallacy of personal incredulity.
Rawls: John Cook, creator of the pathologically credulous Skeptical Science website Sou: Rhetoric, false statement
Rawls: ...some kind subterfuge is planned, especially since he asked different bloggers to post survey links with different tracking tags without mentioning this in his invitation letter. Sou: Assumed nefarious intent.
Rawls: Mr. Cook is welcome to avail himself of this assessment if he thinks it strengthens the case for a genuine scientific consensus. I have a different interpretation. My anecdotal sampling, if it turns out to be representative, strongly supports the skeptical charge that climate science is thoroughly dominated by a tyrannical politically-fabricated and monetarily-enforced “consensus.” Sou: Another admission that Rawls belongs to the "climate science is a hoax" brigade.
Rawls: In all, a clear picture of ideological bullying, self-censorship and rent-seeking, exactly what we should expect from a politically created and controlled branch of science. Sou: Strawman fallacy.
Rawls: I suspect that Cook is instead planning on using the systematically high author ratings to accuse participants from skeptic blogs of bias for estimating less consensus conformity than the authors themselves. Sou: Unsupported assumption plus more assumed nefarious intent conspiracy ideation.
Rawls: At the same time he can count on participants from credulous blogs to overrate the degree of consensus conformity, making them look less biased and more honest than skeptical participants when they are actually more biased and less honest. Sou: Unsupported statement plus more assumed nefarious intent conspiracy ideation.
Rawls: As we all know, and as Cook would know, there is widespread belief amongst climate alarmists that it is okay to misrepresent specifics in support of the “larger truth” that human impacts on the planet need to be dramatically curtailed. Sou: Unsupported statement.
Rawls: According to the late Stephen Schneider, one of the founding fathers of climate alarmism: Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective and being honest. Sou: Rawls distorts the statement by cherry-picking a sentence from a longer quote by the esteemed Dr Schneider, which continues with: "I hope that means being both".
Rawls: One indication that he is thinking in this direction is the failure to mention in his invitation letter that different survey links were provided to each invitee. This omission suggests that he was trying to get away with something. In a court of law such behavior is taken as an indicator of “guilty conscience.” So what was his sneaky purpose? Sou: Assumed nefarious intent, big time.
I'll just add one excerpt from one of the comments. After the dissection above and the way Rawls portrays John Cook, it seems to me to be particularly weird:
atheok says:Update: One more. I couldn't resist this comment :D
May 8, 2013 at 10:57 pm Impressive post Alec!
Still, I believe you are imparting your scientific honor and clarity of intention where it is not deserved nor likely to be demonstrated.
I applaud your professional courtesy towards Cook’s survey; ...
Moe says (my link):
May 9, 2013 at 12:10 am I haven’t been so conned since I was told the Oregon petition was legit.
Are Conspiracy Theorising Fake Sceptics Running Scared?
With so much angst and navel gazing by the fake sceptics over a straight-forward internet survey, one might jump to the conclusion that they are scared. Scared that they will be unable to persuade people that global warming isn't really happening and that tens if not hundreds of thousands of scientists from widely disparate scientific disciplines and from all over the globe have managed to align their research findings almost exactly to all point to the same conclusion, and by so doing have perpetrated a giant hoax on the world, that can be traced back nearly 200 years.