Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Awww! Poor little Anthony Watts Ego Trips to Nonentity-Land. It's a conspiracy!

Sou | 10:40 PM Go to the first of 24 comments. Add a comment

Update: Current count of editors resigning from Frontiers in protest at it caving in to intimidation from science deniers = 3 (three).  See Graham Readfearn's article at DeSmogBlog for details.

Poor, sensitive little Anthony Watts is upset.  He wrote a letter and sent it to all and sundry and no-one took the slightest bit of notice.

Today he's complaining (archived here) that Professor Ugo Bardi, (former) Specialty Chief Editor of the journal Frontiers in Energy Research, has resigned from Frontiers.  He resigned because, as he wrote:
...my opinion is that, with their latest statement and their decision to retract the paper, Frontiers has shown no respect for authors nor for their own appointed referees and editors. But the main problem is that we have here another example of the climate of intimidation that is developing around the climate issue. ..
...The climate of intimidation which is developing nowadays risks to do great damage to climate science and to science in general. I believe that the situation risks to deteriorate further if we all don't take a strong stance on this issue. Hence, I am taking the strongest action I can take, that is I am resigning from "Chief Specialty Editor" of Frontiers in protest against the behavior of the journal in the "Recursive Fury" case. I sent to the editors a letter today, stating my intention to resign. 

You can read Professor Bardi's full explanation and commentary on his blog.

This is even longer than my usual fare, so to save bandwith for people not interested, I've split it.  Click here to read more. It might amuse you - if you're a closet watcher of the weird and wacky world of conspiracy-theorising climate science denial and the unfathomable thought processes of The One who regards himself as The Fearless Famous Leader :)

Just some guy...

Anthony Watts, part-time local radio weather announcer and pseudo-science blogger of conspiracy theories and other nonsense, wrote:
It is important to note that Mr. Bardi is NOT the editor of Frontiers in Psychology, where Lewandowski’s Recursive Fury paper was published, then retracted. He’s just some guy that works for the same publisher on another publication. His resignation would be akin to some middle level division manager at a company resigning because some other division manager made a decision he didn’t like, even though the decision doesn’t even affect his division.

Just some guy? Akin to a middle level division manager?  This is what passes for a put-down by a middle aged guy from Chico, who's sole claim to success is a wordpress blog pandering to science deniers, conspiracy theorists (of the One World Government, Agenda 21 kind) and pseudo-science quacks.

Anthony Watts has a much grander impression of himself than anyone else does.  The admiration of Anthony's staunchest fans pales by comparison with Anthony's admiration of himself.

Ugo Bardi, on the other hand, is Professor Ugo Bardi, who is a more modest, unassuming man going by how he describes himself on his blog and elsewhere. (Or maybe he just has a lot more self-confidence than Anthony Watts and doesn't see the need to boast.)
Ugo Bardi teaches physical chemistry at the University of Florence, in Italy. He is interested in resource depletion, system dynamics modeling, climate science and renewable energy. 

Professor Bardi doesn't bignote himself.  You have to dig deeper to find that he is a member of the Club of Rome, founder and former president of the Italian section of ASPO. That until fairly recently he did research in solid state physics. Now he researches depletion of non-renewable resources and sustainability models and is Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Firenze.  I had to go to Google Scholar to find his publication history, and what I found was extensive.

Hey someone, anyone, look over here, this is world-famous denier blogger Anthony Watts wanting your attention

Poor little Anthony Watts is, as I said, most upset that no-one is paying his silly letter any mind.  Anthony wrote:
Seems there’s a little too much emotion with this one, Ugo Bardi, who seems to have a burr up his butt for WUWT (in comments to his own article) while completely ignoring complaints like this one.

He should be grateful that Ugo Bardi mentioned him at all, even if it was only to write ...Oops! Sorry about this. I honestly didn't realise what it was that Professor Bardi wrote about WUWT till I searched the comments - and after all my talk about unassuming modesty....  Anyway here is Ugo's one and only comment about WUWT in his article:

Ugo Bardi April 8, 2014 at 2:23 PM
Maybe you know this blog: http://blog.hotwhopper.com/ - they debunk WUWT every day. But it doesn't seem to help against the Stockholm syndrome of WUWT readers

Complaints like this one

What Anthony was referring to when he wrote "complaints like this one" was a letter he sent off to anyone and everyone.  Firstly to the Vice-Chancellor at the University of Western Australia and the Editor of Psychological Science, presumably for publication of the paper "NASA Faked the Moon Landing therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science"  Then four days later he sent the exact same letter to Frontiers in Psychology presumably for publishing the paper "Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation".

Malice aforethought and more...

If you want to read Anthony's grand effort at letter writing, you can see it archived here.  Otherwise, read on for some of his Very Important Points.

Malice aforethought! This early point is classic! If you've read Recursive Fury, you'll know that attributing nefarious intent is one marker of conspiracy ideation.  Get a load of this.  
I make this complaint because I believe that this research was not only done improperly, but with malice aforethought.

I'll give you a minute to clean your keyboard :)  Are you ready for more?  Okay, let's go.

Waaaa! Look at me, look at me. This next point is all about how Anthony Watts is a Very Important Person (aka a real, dinky di VIP) who Does Not Tolerate being ignored.  But just in case these inconsequential know-nothings haven't heard of VIP Anthony and his Most Important Blog, he writes:
I operate the most popular climate related blog in the world, WattsUpWithThat.com (WUWT) which typically logs approximately a million unique visitors per month, with typical months having 4 million page views. WUWT also recently approved its one millionth comment. By the definitions given in the LOG paper, WUWT would be a “popular climate blog”.

The World's Most Famous Pseudo-Science Blog: Oh, don't fret, there is more where that came from. WUWT is Influential! He's still a bit worried that the ignorant academic intelligentsia outside of the deniosphere might not recognise His Importance, so he continues:
WUWT is widely read by both sides of the debate and has been the subject of national television interviews, international print and web media stories, as well as the impetus for some congressional investigations into irregularities in climate science. While the audience is primarily of the climate skeptic nature, suffice it to say that WUWT is read by those who both embrace it and those who hate it due to its wide reach.

It's all true. It's been the "subject of national television interviews" (and reports from their ombudsman) and "international print" ... oops, wrong Anthony Watts, try this "international print"... and even "web media stories".

By the way, does anyone know what "congressional investigations" Anthony is taking credit for?  It can hardly be the Wegman review. That faked up investigation was precipitated in 2005, with the Wegman report prepared in 2006. AFAIK, this was before Anthony started blogging at all, let alone about climate science. (He started on climate science after a fitful attempt to blog about technology and other miscellany didn't pan out. AFAIK his first blog post wasn't until November 2006 and he didn't get started on science denial until April/May/June of 2007.

The Punch Line: Confirmation bias! Huh?

He was ignored. Oh, the ignominy! He writes:
The reason for my compliant (sic) is that Dr. Lewandowsky, his co-authors, and his assistant excluded WUWT from the LOG paper data sampling process, and by doing so, created a situation that created a result that confirmed their expectations. This is not a case of hurt feelings or concerns of being left out, quite the contrary, my concern one of data gathering accuracy as it relates to the LOG paper. It seems that they created a confirmation bias by the procedure chosen.

So, they created a situation that created a result that confirmed their expectations.  I'm not at all sure what Anthony is alleging here. (Although this letter of Anthony's isn't doing too badly in that regard.)  Is he saying that if WUWT had published the survey (which he could have copied from Junk Science, which he reads, if he'd wanted to), then the findings would have been different? Perhaps the association between free market ideology and climate science denial would have come out more strongly?  Or perhaps he's arguing that the weak association between conspiracy theorising and science denial would have emerged as being stronger.

On the other hand, maybe in a roundabout way, Anthony is letting the University and journals know that in his opinion, fake sceptics don't ever read any blogs other than denier blogs, or pseudo-science blogs, or conspiracy theorising blogs.  You might think that's the case but it's not.  And that's not what LOG12 found.  Nor is it what you'll find here, or at Deltoid, or at Tamino's place or at any other normal climate blog.  We don't just get lurkers, we get science deniers making comments. By my estimate, 17% of the 1,145 respondents to LOG12 were science deniers, which is more than the general population as far as I know. Twelve per cent agreed that climate science is a hoax which should be way more than the general population.

If only they'd asked us, the results would have been different!

Here's a bit more and maybe it will give a clue as to what Anthony meant by "bias".  He wrote:
Based on this behavior, I suggest that the LOG sampling was biased by design, with specific intent to create a predetermined outcome, because had the LOG authors contacted WUWT and had we run their survey, or if the other skeptic blogs had noticed and run the request from the unknown Mr. Hanich, I suggest the data sample gathered would very likely not support the premise of their paper.

Now what I'm wondering is whether or not Anthony even read the moon landing paper.  You'll recall, the main finding of the moon landing paper was that:
Rejection of climate science was strongly associated with endorsement of a laissez-faire view of unregulated free markets, and
 ...endorsement of free markets was highly predictive of rejection of climate science 

If Anthony did read the paper, and assuming by some giant stretch of imagination he understood it, what he is therefore alleging has to be one of the following:

  1. Rejection of climate science is not strongly associated with endorsement of a laissez-faire view of unregulated free markets.
  2. Endorsement of a laissez-faire view of unregulated free markets is strongly associated with acceptance of mainstream climate science.

Of course, Anthony might not have been referring to the main finding.  He might have been referring to one of the other findings.  For example (my bold italics):
A second variable that was associated with rejection of climate science as well as other scientific propositions was conspiracist ideation....The relative importance of those two constructs differed between climate science and the other scientific propositions. We suggest that free-market ideology was more important for climate science than conspiratorial thinking.

Could Anthony have been suggesting the opposite is the case?  That conspiratorial thinking is more important for climate science (rejection) than is free market ideology?

Maybe so. Or maybe he's referring to the third finding.
The third construct, the perception that previous environmental problems have been solved, turned out to predict rejection of climate science, but not of the other sciences.
Anthony could be alleging that people who think that previous environmental problems have been solved are more likely to accept climate science.

There is one more choice.  The research suggested that:
Finally, we replicated the finding that perceived scientific consensus is associated with acceptance of science.

If it's that one Anthony is thinking of, then what he is alleging is that people who don't believe there is scientific consensus about climate science are more likely to accept mainstream climate science.

Summing up Anthony Watts' hypotheses

I'll sum up the options and you can all take a wild guess as to just what is rattling around in that denier brain of Anthony Watts. His hypothesis could be one, some or all of the following:
  • Option 1. Free marketers are more likely to accept climate science.
  • Option 2. Conspiratorial thinking is a better predictor of climate science denial than is free market ideology.
  • Option 3. People who think past environmental problems have been solved are more likely to accept mainstream climate science.
  • Option 4. People who don't accept the scientific consensus around climate science are more likely to accept mainstream climate science.

Oh, and don't forget, Anthony Watts himself decided the scientists had nefarious intent, yet he rejects mainstream climate science.  That gives some support to his Option 2, I guess.  

Might be worth bearing in mind what the paper stated, too.  Going by the above, Anthony may never ever budge from the view that someone is out to get him :)

 Conspiracist ideation is, by definition, difficult to correct because any evidence contrary to the conspiracy is itself considered evidence of its existence.

This article is already way too long, so I'm leaving out the usual "From the WUWT comments".  Click here to read the article about how he's been ignored by "just some guy" - with comments of the usual calibre.


  1. Another editor resigns in protest. Shame that Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen didn't resign out of shame over the infamous iron sun paper.

    Reading the comments of Professor Bardi's blog is interesting. I notice that Richard S J Tol posted a comment. (He's proving to be quite a winger, now that Lomborg's centre is to close.
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/jan/23/bjorn-lomborg-climate-thinktank-close, and that he fell out with his peers at the IPCC)

    But what was of most interest was a comment by an obvious Wattie, a mikeishere1st who started with "I'm just an engineer", and claimed to be an "independent thinker" despite reeling off the typical denier memes, and sounding like YADC (yet another denier clone). His first meme was the 'no warming' cherry pick. What is it with deniers and their obsession with this most meaningless of memes, which has to be repeated like a mantra. Do they really think that after the thousandth time that it suddenly becomes meaningful? What is it about less than 1% of the climate system, and a particular noisy 1% at that, and choosing a super El Nino as a starting date that makes it pointless, they never seem to get? What scientist, or engineer for that matter, worth his salt, ignores 99% of the data, and selectively picks the RSS data set which is just a thin layer of the troposphere. Not even the surface record, or ocean temperatures, or the cryosphere, you know the other 99% of the data. (Perhaps because it doesn't fit with their deluded ideology) Pretty stupid if you ask me, yet this is the core tenant of the denier ideology, held up in reverence like it's some precious holy relic.

    His second point is clearly refuted with the latest AR5 WGII report.

    And his third point was "There remains ZERO empirical evidence that ALL of the CO2 in our atmosphere makes any measurable difference to earth's temperature". Another slayer, who seems to ignore over 150 years of evidence starting with Tyndall's work and ending with direct satellite observation of the energy trapped by increasing CO2. (There has not only been direct spectroscopic evidence from satellites, but there is also the fingerprint of stratospheric cooling.) Not only that there is the evidence in the rocks, of the temperature rise of the PETM, and then as the amount of greenhouse gases was scrubbed from the atmosphere, the temperature also fell. Clear as day evidence of causation. Zero empirical evidence my arse. (And I also notice that he has decided to venture onto this blog with some stupid rhetorical question.) How about this, instead of the usual staccato stampede of logical fallacies, rhetoric and misinterpretations, at least show us a couple of published papers in reputable journals that support your ideology. Show us some of this 'independent thinking', that you claim to possess, instead of demonstrating the diametric opposite, and reeling off the usual debunked memes that have been repeated so often, it's now become an annoying mosquito like drone.

    1. Thanks, Dave. I just went back to Ugo's blog. The deniosphere is full of crackpottery isn't it. I can't understand what that commenter thought he was doing. Did he mistake what blog he was on I wonder? His comment bore no relation to the article or the blog in general.

      The comments are probably quite an eye-opener to Ugo and his regular readers. Shows how wrong Frontiers were in regard to Recursive Fury and add weight to Ugo's decision to quit.

    2. Anthony attended the 2013 American Geophysical Union meeting in December, along with 20,000 or so scientists. I'm told he carried a case with big "W U W T" letters to enter the den of the lions ...
      but apparently nobody cared

    3. Before Pielke Sr set me into contact with Watts, I had not heard of WUWT and also my local colleagues do not know it. Maybe it is different in the States, but I would expect that most scientists have no idea what WUWT is.

    4. There's little reason for real scientists to know it, but I'd expect there'd be even less awareness at EGU than at AGU.

    5. When I mention wattsupwiththat or WUWT or Anthony Watts to people I know, I just get blank looks. He has a niche audience of people who deny science as a hobby.

      I'd never heard of him before HotCopper - and even then I didn't take much notice. After looking at some of the articles back then it looked like just another nutty pseudo-science/political blog that copied and pasted stuff you seen on other denier blogs (which I wasn't familiar with at the time either), with a few conspiracy theories thrown in.

      Now after looking at it more closely for the past year or so I know it better. And my first reaction has been confirmed many times over :)

  2. Sou, I think he is reading HotWhopper. The last WUWT post is:

    Study: WUWT near the center of the climate blogosphere


    1. When WUWT links to here I might get 40 or so visits from there - in total. That's not a tenth the number of visits a site like PZ Myers' or Phil Plait will send - in about an hour or two!

      Is it that WUWT is popular but its readers don't stray from the comfort of deniallism? Or is it that there are blogs that are way, way more popular than WUWT?

    2. Can it be that popular when one of its mods runs sockpuppets thereby upping the comment count?

    3. I wonder how many socks are running over at WUWT. There are plenty of similar comments, lots of anonymous (as in impersonal tags) and so much repitition.

  3. Thanks Sou for this comment. On one point, I think Watts is right: Really I am just some guy. It is just that sometimes you have to make a stand!

    1. Proving my point :)

      I hope anyone who is tempted to cave in to intimidation from climate science deniers (or bullying from any source) takes heart from your actions, Ugo.

  4. Two more editors have resigned from Frontiers in protest. That makes three all up.


    Frontiers is not coming out of this looking good at all.

    1. And every time another editor resigns, the nutters respond by swarming all over their blog just to prove that they are really frigging crazy. The lack of self-awareness amongst the loons is quite something to see.

    2. I reckon the four or five nutters who've been going on and on and on about this must have boilerplate comments that they plaster all over any blog that mentions Stephan Lewandowsky or Recursive Fury.

      That obsessive repetitive behaviour is worth a paper in its own right. It's been going on ever since the moon landing paper came out more than 18 months ago- all from the same few people. They haven't shown any sign of letting up.

      BTW, sorry for the delay, MikeH. Google caught your comment in the spam folder for some unknown reason. It seems to happen sometimes at random.

    3. They are insane and malevolent in equal measure, Sou. They won't stop now. They can't.

      Incidentally, if you have any way of informing the moderators at STW that "Darrell Harb" is in fact Brad Keyes, please do so. There is no doubt at all.

    4. I don't know who moderates there BBD. It's not Stephan himself AFAIK. From the look of it the moderator hasn't been back for a while or most of the comments (including probably some of mine) would have disappeared. The discussion has veered way off topic and has degenerated into repetition. A fair bit of material for Recursive Fury II or similar.

    5. Sou said:

      I reckon the four or five nutters who've been going on and on and on about this must have boilerplate comments that they plaster all over any blog that mentions Stephan Lewandowsky or Recursive Fury.

      Yup. And as you've found out (I'm Steve M. over on shapingtomorrowsworld), there's no use trying to engage with them. They have so many CTs to choose from! Duane Gish would have been proud.

    6. Sou

      I don't know who moderates there BBD. It's not Stephan himself AFAIK.

      That's a real shame, because they are suffering from a Class 4 Brad Keyes outbreak, and they need to do something about it right quick.

      I don't think the world (even the academic world) needs any *more* material from Brad Keyes. There's enough out there already to last several lifetimes.

  5. One thing most people appear to have missed is that the original retraction statement is the official one that already appears in print at Frontiers in Psychology (PDF file). The follow-on is not a 2nd retraction but a statement posted on the Frontiers blog. Given the mutual legally binding agreement, that statement may never see the light of day, as is (in print/PDF) or as a modified/edited/revised official retraction statement to appear in print at Frontiers in Psychology at some future point in time.

    The 2nd thing is that Fury will live on indefinitely in Frontiers in Psychology HTML format at both PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PubMed Central (EuropePMC);


    (The 2nd link might just be a redirect to the 1st link?)

    Anyhow Fury lives on at UWA and PubMed, long live Fury.

  6. And it appears as though Frontiers has gone and shot themselves in the foot yet again: The problem I have with this is that it will be virtually impossible to do this sort of textual analysis of public statements if the standard they propose here becomes the norm. I think they are very foolish in hewing to this view.

    1. Indeed. One wonders how if they say the identity of people in a psychology paper must be protected, they could have even remotely considered publishing the paper in the first place. It is plainly a stance they have taken after the fact, and this about-face reflects very badly on them.

      There must be a clear precedent for researchers being allowed to publish studies of public comments somewhere out there, probably quite a few if you start digging. Frontiers gave into the deniers on the threat of legal action. End of story.

      It would be a different situation if the comments were being classified using DSM/ICM criteria. But they weren't. It was a study of self-reinforcing group think/conspiracy ideation.

    2. Yes, they are reaching further and further. That article is plain wrong in it's assertion of "well-accepted" - it's not, from what I've been reading about the norms and ethics of internet research. The people mentioned weren't subjects so his analogy is all wrong. The paper wasn't attributing any pathology to individuals, it was exploring development of ideas.

      Plus, he's back to contradicting the mutually agreed statement.

      As for his "mistake" - ha! Is he saying they made up the rule after the fact and under duress (by deniers) or is he saying the editors don't read papers before publication?


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