Thursday, November 13, 2014

Confirming Lewandowsky: More self-sealed conspiracy theories at WUWT

Sou | 4:50 PM Go to the first of 39 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts today has highlighted the curious ongoing obsession fake sceptics have with stolen emails written in the dim distant past (archived here). He's pointed to an article in Environmental Research Letters by Stephan Lewandowsky.

Don't confuse conspiracy theorists' obsessions with general public interest

Professor Lewandowsky's article is a perspective piece about a paper published in ERL earlier this year by William R L Anderegg and Gregory R Goldsmith. The abstract:
Anderegg and Goldsmith (2014 Environ. Res. Lett. 9 054005) use Google Trends to examine the impact of specific media events - the so-called "climategate" imbroglio and the glacial-melt error in the IPCC's 2007 report - on public opinion regarding climate change. There has been an overall decline of public interest in climate change after 2007, accompanied by spikes of interest with a half-life of six days for these two media events. The brevity of public interest in "climategate" stands in contrast to the continued and growing fascination of the "skeptic" blogosphere with that event. These results document the assertion that conspiratory obsession by a small number of people should not be mistaken for general public interest.

Indeed. It would be hard to mistake the conspiratory obsession by the small number of people at WUWT with general public interest about anything. For example, is the general public really interested in fake skeptic allegations that climate science is a hoax because climate scientists use email? And is the general public really interested in Tim Ball and his theories about how Tom Wigley has become the ruler of the world?  Is the general public really interested in the WUWT paranoid conspiracy theories about the IPCC?

Who's the wackadoodle?

Although he probably hasn't read the paper, Anthony Watts doesn't seem to like what Professor Lewandowsky wrote, and said:
A new paper by Stephan Lewandowsky once again projects his own conspiracy ideation onto skeptics...
One known element of conspiratorial thinking is its ‘self-sealing’ quality (Keeley 1999, Bale 2007, Sunstein and Vermeule 2009), whereby evidence against a conspiratorial belief is re-interpreted as evidence for that belief. In the case of ‘climategate’, this self-sealing nature of conspiratorial belief became evident after the scientists in question were exonerated by nine investigations in two countries (including various parliamentary and government committees in the U.S. and U.K.; see table 1), when those exonerations were re-branded as a ‘whitewash.’ This ‘whitewash’ response can be illustrated by U.S. Representative Sensenbrennerʼs published response to the EPAʼs endangerment finding
...Basically, the gist of it is that being interested in Climategate, makes you a conspiracy theorist.
What a wackadoodle.
h/t to Barry Wood. 

Which is funny on a few counts. First of all, there's no hint of any conspiratorial thinking on the part of Professor Lewandowsky in his article.  Anthony is just trying to be "clever" and failing. And yeah, being consumed by a desire to find something, anything in the stolen emails that will "prove" that climate science is a hoax - is a prominent sign of conspiracy ideation. Finally - h/t Barry Wood. Of course!

Empty vessels

The Lewandowsky paper closes by observing that the empty vessel effect is evident. People think there are more deniers than there actually are, because they make so much noise. He writes:
It is known that the perception of the prevalence of ‘skeptic’ opinions is grossly over-estimated compared to the actual extent of ‘skepticism.’ In a representative Australian sample, (Leviston et al 2013b) found that only around 6% of respondents denied that climate change was happening, whereas the publicʼs estimate of the prevalence of that opinion was in excess of 20%—more than three times greater. 

He then discusses the miconceptions about scientific consensus and how that can shape people's attitudes. He wrote:
Given the well-known linkage between the perception of a consensus and actual opinion (e.g., Lewandowsky et al 2013b), peopleʼs mis-calibration of the perceived public-opinion landscape—in particular the inflation of a small minority into 1/5 of the population—raises the possibility that peopleʼs attitudes are disproportionately shaped by a small but very vocal minority. 

And he notes that scientists themselves are not immune to the influence of the empty vessels, writing:
It must be of particular concern that the scientific community does not appear to be immune to such misperceptions. There is some evidence that ‘skeptical’ voices are affecting—and arguably distorting—the course of climate science and the communication of its findings (Freudenburg and Muselli 2010, Brysse et al 2013).

Stephan Lewandowsky rounds off the article cautioning people not to confuse the obsessions of the small number of fake sceptics with the wider public interest. And refers again to the Anderegg & Goldsmith paper, which showed that:
... the wider public astutely lost interest in ‘climategate’ long ago.
Not being as astute as the wider public, Anthony Watts and his fake sceptics at WUWT are still obsessed, turning innocent conversations from innocuous fifteen year old emails into grand conspiracies of climate hoaxes.

Self-sealing conspiracy theories from the WUWT comments

If you go to the WUWT comments, you'll find confirmation of what Professor Lewandowsky wrote in his paper, which Anthony Watts quoted above, about the "self-sealing" quality of conspiracy theory advocates.
...whereby evidence against a conspiratorial belief is reinterpreted as evidence for that belief. ...
WUWT readers decided to prove the points made in the paper. I saw scant evidence of self awareness in the comments. See the self-sealing in action, from Anna Keppa, who wrote:
November 12, 2014 at 6:29 pm
What a crock. It isn’t a case of evidence of a conspiratorial **belief** that matters, it’s evidence of the conspiracy itself. In the case of climategate, there were no independent or disinterested investigations, just parties either invested with stakes in the outcome or on record as having held the same position of the warmistas.

Will Nitschke tries to fudge, but fails to hide his self-sealed conspiracy theory:
November 12, 2014 at 6:42 pm
People don’t trust “internal” police investigations because of the obvious conflict of interest. That’s why police are usually investigated by special and separate branches of the police, or in some cases anti-corruption special judicial appointments.
The issue needs to be correctly framed. Not, that ‘conspiracy’ or more correctly, ‘self interest’ is impossible or highly unlikely, but rather, with any group behaviour, can one expect it to NOT operate? It seems like a rather absurd proposition. It’s rather self evident that conflict of interest is normative in any field of human endeavour.

Malcolm is another self-sealer and says:
November 12, 2014 at 8:21 pm
The primary purpose of these ‘investigations’ was to exonerate the scientists. This point is completely lost on most people. 

Chip Javert decides that Professor Lewandowsky is part of a conspiracy to curtail his freedom to indulge in conspiracy thinking:
November 12, 2014 at 6:54 pm
Oh good. Some witch doctor climbs out from under the psychology rock to defame a community attempting to conduct a legitimate science discussion.
He easily demonstrates a firm grasp on bovine excrement, but how much math & physics does he understand? 

ossqss says he knows from experience that psychologists are nuts. He's married to one, he said, so he knows!
November 12, 2014 at 7:01 pm
Mr. Lew’s continued behavior speaks to psychological issues of his own. I am not a psychologist, but I married one. I have viewed this type of behavior through studies helping my better half get that credential. Just sayin, fixation through facination can lead to strange things. Perhaps one of our credentialed viewers could comment further, but he seems to have a serious internal problem with no known way out of it now. A plateau has been reached in more ways than one for him. 

Konrad. agrees with ossqss and says that because he analyses the fake sceptic psyche he must be nuts, and maybe he's right :)
November 12, 2014 at 7:46 pm
Yes, strange isn’t it? Every time complete foamer Lewandowsky goes to write another of his turgid psychology papers, he keeps coming back to his own crazed conspiracy ideation about sceptics. It’s like a dog returning to its vomit.
I fear there is no hope for a “physician heal thyself” solution. For Lewandowsky it may be time for the quiet clinic in the country where all the nurses speak softly, the furnishings are padded and all the utensils are plastic…

Anderegg, William RL, and Gregory R. Goldsmith. "Public interest in climate change over the past decade and the effects of the ‘climategate’media event." Environmental Research Letters 9, no. 5 (2014): 054005. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/5/054005

Stephan Lewandowsky. "Conspiratory fascination versus public interest: the case of 'climategate'" Environ. Res. Lett. 9, no. 11 (2014): 111004 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/11/111004


  1. A slight aside...I always read the "Lew" in Lewandowsky as "lev", not "loo". Is that right?

  2. Having attended psychology lectures by Stephan Lewandowsky, I can confirm that he pronounces his name the "American" way, phonetically, not the "Polish" way I was used to. It's "Loo" not "Lev".

    1. Thanks! A shame, really, I was hoping that all those mocking his name had got it wrong. Ah well ;)

  3. Let's pause to consider what's in a name. A name like "climategate", for example.

    What associations does "climategate" evoke?

    What was that you say? Criminal conspiracy? Corruption at the top? Dirty politics? Cover-up? Lies?

    Now, who bestowed that name on the CRU email hack?

    The very same people who deny being conspiracy theorists.

  4. There's two possible options for deniers:

    1. The scientific establishment, involving every prestigious scientific institution, in a wide band of disciplines, knows less than Anthony Watts.

    2. The scientific establishment, involving every prestigious scientific institution, in a wide band of disciplines, is in a massive conspiracy.

    Neither of these would be exactly sane.

  5. About "climategate" (which richly deserves the scare quotes): It bears repeating that the purely scientific point is moot, since the overall conclusions of the Mann et al. paper have long since been amply confirmed with independent evidence.

    The deniers have no interest in the truth -- their entire goal is to score points and sow doubt.

  6. Sou, and then there are the Andy West crazy posts about SL.


  7. I think we'll shortly have to add "Lewandowsky's law" as an addendum to Lewis's law.

    "Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism."

    Lewandowsky corollary to Lewis's law.

    Comments on any article about conspiracy ideation demonstrate conspiracy ideation.

  8. "Konrad" did not cover himself with glory in the SalbyStorm.

    do a PDF Search: {Konrad} in the aggragated comments for 5 hits, such as:
    "03{Konrad} says:
    July 9, 2013 at 2:29 am
    I just sent a quick email to the Dean,
    Att. Dean of Science, Macquarie University
    Dear Sir/Madam,
    As you will no doubt be aware, claims concerning the treatment of Dr. Salby
    by your university are now spreading rapidly across the Internet. These claims
    should significantly increase the circulation of this video -
    Allow me to extend my congratulations to your staff for their efforts in
    discrediting the post normal pseudo science of global warming.

    "20{Konrad} says:
    July 10, 2013 at 8:48 am
    “However, we feel in this instance it is necessary to do so in order to correct
    Macquarie University conducted disciplinary hearings in Dr. Salby’s absence
    and cancelled airline tickets without informing him. Does Macquarie
    University dispute this? No. They say he was in breach of his employment
    contract. Do they produce such a document? No.
    It appears some of the fellow travellers in the AGW hoax are incapable of
    working out what losing an information war in the age of the Internet means.
    This is not like anything that has gone before. Their actions are now a matter of
    permanent record. Spin will not work in the long term. A few hundred
    thousand sceptics is not the issue. As the hoax inevitably collapses, billions of
    individuals with Internet access will be searching for the names of the guilty.
    Macquarie University have just written themselves into history. On the wrong
    Sceptics will never forgive and the Internet will never forget."

    (and more)

    1. A revealing look at McQuarie “university”.
      Is this higher education in Australia?


    2. FDink, who cannot spell Macquarie, provides a link to a dumb denier article on an extremist right wing website and asks if this is higher education in Australia.

      Answer: The question does not make any more sense than the article FDink linked to.

      I will add that although Australia does have its share of nutters like any country, the dumb denier who wrote the Quadrant article is not a typical product of higher education in Australia.

      They are not even typical of Australians in general. Most Australians know the difference between coral bleaching and damage from Acanthaster planci (crown-of-thorns starfish), even without attending an Open University class.

      Most Australians are smart enough to know that climate science is not a hoax.

      I suppose FDink's comment is relevant to the lead article here, being another example of conspiracy nuttery.

    3. "Most evidence indicates that elevated temperature is the cause of mass bleaching events."


      I notice this article mentions about 12 causes of coral bleaching and still does not mention the crown of thorns starfish.

      And this article does not mention the starfish either:

      I conclude, after 5 minutes research, that the crown of thorns starfish is not the prime cause of coral bleaching.

      I wonder why the author of that article could not check before sounding off. I can imagine it now - "Thinks, I have heard of the crown of thorns starfish damages coral. So that must be the answer. This course is rubbish!"

      Then self-styled independent thinkers like FDink come along and swallow such ignorance whole. A product of higher education? I think not.

    4. The COT starfish has caused a lot of damage to the reef over the past few decades (which has nothing to do with coral bleaching). The latest outlook report (2014) from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, however, states:

      Climate change remains the most serious threat to the Great Barrier Reef. It is already affecting the Reef and is likely to have far-reaching consequences in the decades to come.

      Then there's the dredging threat, pollution from agricultural run-off, ocean acidification etc.


  9. I actually agree that Lewandowsky is a wackadoodle.

    I think for his own sanity he should move on. He's obsessed with creating a link between Conspiracy Ideation and a healthy scepticism of the Climate Change activist movement (which he seems totally unaware of). "Big oil" conspiracy theories and personal digs at "Deniers" masquerading as peer reviewed literature are his MO. I'd give him an A+ for wackadoodletude.

    1. To a conspiracy theorist, anyone who writes about why people get caught up in conspiracy ideation is "obsessed". The word pops up a lot at WUWT in the comments. Trying to belittle scientists is a coping mechanims, helping them cope with their unreality.

      Stephan Lewandowsky does a lot more research and publishes on a heap more subjects than deniers and conspiracy theorists. Deniers only get their "science" from WUWT and other conspiracy theory blogs, so they wouldn't know that.

    2. I think this bloke explains it all about deniers.

      He studies the human brain by studying when it has been damaged by accident or tumour etc.

      This gives insight into the correct function.


    3. Sou,

      The language is a little loose in the meaning but I hope you're not implying that I'm a "Conspiracist". I've never Conspiracy Ideated about anything in my life.

      The "Big Oil" conspiracy theory that's pushed by the "wackadoodles" is the pick of the bunch. Apparently our "lack of concern" over climate change is costing $1billion/yr to sustain. Like I said, the Lewandowsky/wakadoodle types could do with a little time off to resolve their mental health issues.

    4. Dispute it all you like, KBO. Your own words give you away.

      That comment of yours (and the previous one) suggests you do indeed have a tendency towards conspiracy ideation, while not being a specific conspiracy theory itself.

      You are effectively arguing that Professor Lewandowsky, a cognitive scientist, must be crazy on the grounds that he studies cognitive science. Your weird convoluted thinking is in the same league as ossqss and Konrad.

      I know you're a science denier - you've indicated as much here in this thread (and on previous occasions here). For example, you said up thread that "He's obsessed with creating a link between Conspiracy Ideation and a healthy scepticism of the Climate Change activist movement".

      Since Stephan writes about conspiracy ideation in the context of science denial and "climate science is a hoax", one can only conclude that you think that fake sceptics who indulge in weird conspiracy theories are merely demonstrating a "healthy scepticism". Ergo, you don't see "climate science is a hoax" as a conspiracy theory. Ergo...

      Even you should be able to see where this is heading... (but maybe not - conspiracy theorists and deniers live in a world of their own).

    5. Sou,

      You daft old bat; everything you write is illogical!

      "That comment of yours (and the previous one) suggests you do indeed have a tendency towards conspiracy ideation, while not being a specific conspiracy theory itself. "

      Like all the rest of your stuff, you "invent" and, if convenient, look for things that suggest(?). I'd spend a little more time concentrating on what's actually said, rather than your imaginings. As a side note I'd add that ALL your articles/post are like that.

      Lewandowsky IS obsessed with the whole climate denier, conspiracy ideator thing and the papers he produces are very poor/get withdrawn because of his dubious judgement. The "Big Oil" mote in his eye should send alarm bells ringing. Wackadoodle may not be the nicest way of describing his condition, but it is fair.

      In what kind of society would this 56yr old man be considered "normal"?
      We may not agree on the answer, but you can see where I'm coming from at least.

    6. Ha ha. I didn't just concentrate on what was actually said - I quoted you directly, KBO. Don't tell me that in your excitement you didn't notice that.

      I see that you've extended your "must be crazy" argument from Professor Lewandowsky to myself. That's what deniers have done in the past. In fact there have been whole threads at WUWT about how Sou must be crazy. When they don't have a leg to stand on and can't argue the evidence, deniers often resort to "she's just a crazy old bat".

      Your argument goes like this:

      Anyone who studies mental models is crazy and/or obsessed, particularly if they study what is behind conspiracy theories like "climate science is a hoax".

      Anyone who ridicules science denial is crazy and/or obsessed, because climate science really is a hoax.

      Anyone who for years spends hours each day posting comments on denier blogs that "climate science is a hoax" is just a regular, sane, well-adjusted person.

      Got it.

      If science deniers gang up and threaten a weak editor with legal action, and get a paper withdrawn, it "proves" the paper is wrong - when in reality it only proved the editor was weak and unprincipled. As KBO is aware, an independent panel found nothing wrong with the paper. Neither did UWA, which still has it on its website:


      Anyone who hasn't read it should do so. It may provide some enlightenment in regard to KBO's defensiveness of climate science denial and pushing of the "climate science really is a hoax" meme.

    7. Sou

      "Your argument goes like this:"

      "Anyone who studies mental models is crazy and/or obsessed, particularly if they study what is behind conspiracy theories like "climate science is a hoax"."

      "Anyone who ridicules science denial is crazy and/or obsessed, because climate science really is a hoax."

      "Anyone who for years spends hours each day posting comments on denier blogs that "climate science is a hoax" is just a regular, sane, well-adjusted person."

      I never said any of those things Sou. You're "Ideating" it all to fit your preconceptions and prejudices, which is actually all a bit sad :(

      Case closed I think.

      And, oh yeah, Got It.

    8. You claim you never said any of those things. They weren't direct quotes. I paraphrased. What you did say was:

      "You daft old bat; everything you write is illogical!"

      "Lewandowsky IS obsessed with the whole climate denier, conspiracy ideator thing"

      "the Lewandowsky/wakadoodle types could do with a little time off to resolve their mental health issues."

      "He's obsessed with creating a link between Conspiracy Ideation and a healthy scepticism of the Climate Change activist movement'"

      Want to try again?

      As you know, Stephan Lewandowsky and other cognitive scientists have found a weak association between climate science denial and conspiracy ideation. The stronger predictor is free market ideology.


      Given his findings and how you've misrepresented them, taken together with the fact that you call anyone who you disagree with obsessive/crazy/daft - one reasonable conclusion is that you are a hypersensitive climate science denier.

      Given that you blow up the known funding by companies of climate science denial (or do you dispute it entirely), are you trying to dissociate your own denial from that of other science deniers?

      Perhaps you are simply wanting to say that you deny science for other reasons and you don't really think climate science is a hoax. You just think it's been made up by thousands of scientists colluding with each other over decades.

      Now, back to the subject at hand. The main point of the perspective article was that it's important to not confuse the loud noises made by the empty vessels of science denialism with general public interest. And KBO is making a loud noise here.

      A subsidiary point was the self-sealing nature of conspiracy ideation. KBO is "self-sealing" the findings about conspiracy ideation and science denial by claiming that Stephan Lewandowky is "obsessed" and has "mental health issues" and that I am a "daft old bat". He/she thinks that is sufficient to disprove the perspective article and maybe even all cognitive science findings that help explain why people reject science.

    9. Sou,

      You are an illogical daft old bat and Lewandowsky is obsessed- to the extent that he comes across as a bit of a mentoid. You'll get a flavour of the man from the video above.

      "Stephan Lewandowsky and other cognitive scientists have found a weak association between climate science denial and conspiracy ideation."

      Lewandowsky's papers are highly controversial and there is more Conspiracy Ideation (See Mashey below) on your blog than was revealed by lew's "science".

      Honestly, you are always "reading between the lines", adding, imagining, "things"- I'd try and keep to what's said as first pass if I were you, your imaginings aren't a reliable guide for anything never mind an argument.

    10. Repeating your "self-sealing" conspiracy ideation (daft/crazy/obsessive) doesn't make it go away, KBO. All it does is help confirm the points I've already made.

      Professor Lewandowsky's cognitive science papers are not controversial in his field. On the contrary, they are supported by other cognitive science studies. They are only "highly controversial" on denier blogs.

      As for "reading between the lines" - there's no need. I've quoted you directly as you've confirmed with your repetition of what you probably consider your strongest argument. Scientists are "mad" therefore you can dismiss their findings.

      That dismissal of science is simplistic, dumb and not at all effective on this blog. You'd do better with that line of "argument" at conspiracy websites like WUWT.

    11. We can see that any science, any methodical study can be dispensed with by the rejectionists if it gets in the way of their self-sealed narrative. Such is conviction...it always trumps mere evidence.

    12. "It’s a little known fact the Stefan first came to Australia as part of the former Yugoslavia’s justice department’s witness protection program. Djordje, as he was once known, was the victim in what became known as the “The Martinović affair” – a disturbing incident where two climate deniers, disguised as Albanians, were accused of an unprovoked attack. … Djordje (aka Stefan) will no doubt live with this horror for many years, …" wackadoodle comment by KBO 3.47 pm 7 November on another blog site where sociological imaginations meets vaudevillian slapstick.

    13. ...comes across as a bit of a mentoid. You'll get a flavour of the man from the video above.

      I am a little puzzled why this video is regarded as evidence of someone being "mentoid". (The use of the word mentoid is just, well, mentoid). Thousands of people and celebrities joined in this campaign and it is estimated to have raised $100,000,000 for charity.


      If having a bit of a laugh and raising money for charity is regarded as sinister by deniers I think that self-seals their conspiracy ideation.

  10. Sou:
    I'm not sure why you care about an anonymous commenter who apparently has never read the American Petroleum Institute's GCSCT 1998, with such items as:

    "GCSCT members who contributed to the development of the plan are A. John Adams, John Adams Associates;
    Candace Crandall, Science and Environmental Policy Project; David Rothbard, Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow; Jeffrey Salmon, The Marshall Institute; Lee Garrigan, environmental issues Council; Lynn Bouchey and Myron Ebell, Frontiers of Freedom; Peter Cleary, Americans for Tax Reform; Randy Randol, Exxon Corp.; Robert Gehri, The Southern Company; Sharon Kneiss, Chevron Corp; Steve Milloy, The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition; and Joseph Walker, American Petroleum Institute."

    For a description fo who everybody is, and some of the known funding flows, see
    Crescendo to Climategate Cacophony, pp.19-20, 93-95. Kochs, Scaife and ExxonMobil were pitching hard.

    1. You're right, John. It's for the benefit of lurkers.

      KBO, like all fake sceptics, doesn't like it when their distorted thinking and mental models are put under a spotlight for all the world to see. They splutter and splurt that it's the scientists - not the poor little "climate science is a hoaxers" - who have it wrong. Weird, huh?

  11. Maybe someone could clarify something for me. I've never really bothered reading much of Stephan Lewandowsky's work, but when I did have a scan of his Moon Landing paper, it seemed that it was suggesting that conspiracy ideation is a predictor for climate science denial, not that climate skeptics/deniers are conspiracy theorists. Does anyone who has looked at this more thoroughly than I have know if I've interpreted it correctly. If I have, I might be tempted to to try and point this out to those who keep claiming that Stephan Lewandowsky is suggesting that climate skeptics are conspiracy theorists. Can I ask that if anyone discovers me trying to do this, please try and stop me. I still haven't quite learned to avoid wasting my time with people who clearly either have trouble with basic reading comprehension or basic honesty, or some combination of the two.

    1. Yes, that is correct as I read it, too, ATTP and many of us pointed it out at the time. It fell mostly on deaf ears of climate science deniers.

      Not only that but the study found only a weak association with conspiracy ideation. The stronger predictor was a strong free market ideology.

      Ironically it was that work, which deniers chose to misinterpret, that generated vast amounts of material for another paper Stephan co-authored, the Recursive Fury paper. That's when many deniers went beserk on conspiracy theories, which a lot of people noticed and thought particularly fitting. Deniers are still hard at it with their conspiracy theories. Some more than others. They brought the mockery on themselves and as we see, they are still doing it.

      This perspective article points to the fact that it's quite small numbers who promote conspiracy theories, but they make a lot of noise, which can make it seem like there are more of them than there really are.

    2. ATTP

      Sounds about right to me. From Lewandowski et al. (2013) The Role of Conspiracist Ideation and Worldviews in Predicting Rejection of Science:

      Free-market worldviews are an important predictor of the rejection of scientific findings that have potential regulatory implications, such as climate science, but not necessarily of other scientific issues. Conspiracist ideation, by contrast, is associated with the rejection of all scientific propositions tested. We highlight the manifold cognitive reasons why conspiracist ideation would stand in opposition to the scientific method. The involvement of conspiracist ideation in the rejection of science has implications for science communicators.

  12. Something I found amusing (in an ironic sort of way) was at the same time as people were promoting various blog posts in which the scientific community as a whole were being criticised for not openly opposing Stephan Lewandowsky's work, I was involved in a discussion with someone who brought up that climategate proved that climate scientists were actively trying to prevent the publication of certain bits of research. I've no idea if the latter is true or not (or if it's simply normally called "peer-review") but it is remarkable how some cannot see the irony in objecting to the publication of some work, while complaining about a process that stops the publication of other work. I guess "Academic freedom" is a rather fuzzy concept.

    1. Yes, they were trying to prevent publication of work that they considered to be fraudulent. I'd have thought that was what they ought to do.

    2. It doesn't even have to be fraudulent. Peer-review is about trying to catch papers that are wrong, or have errors that need to be corrected before publication. It's certainly not perfect, but it's better than nothing.

    3. The "preventing publication" idea comes from an exchange in the SlimeItGate emails regarding keeping an already published paper out of the IPCC report because it was trash (which it was, and still is). In the event, it was included. Details escape me, I'm afraid; it all seems such a long time ago. Upshot is that in the denier world an exchange about an already published paper became proof of an effort to prevent its publication. Par for the course, really.

    4. Maybe the ability to skip seamlessly from "how dare you try exclude that paper" to "why didn't you try and exclude that paper", without even stopping for a breath, should be regarded as a skill worthy of some praise? (just in case it's not clear, I'm not really being serious :-) )

    5. See:

      Scientists were trying to keep junk out.


  13. In the Salbystorm,
    "Salby's story confirmed their beliefs and 45% of this group amplified it into conspiracy ideas. For instance, although Salby was hired in 2008 and his odd ideas only appeared in 2011, at least 20 commenters seemed to think he had been “lured” to Australia to purposefullly harass him and sabotage his research, perhaps orchestrated by US or UK scientists. Even ignoring the time machine required, this seems an unusual hiring practice. "
    As a tiny sample from the PDF there:

    "03{dbstealey} says:
    July 9, 2013 at 2:56 am
    Agree with the remedy of legal action. Such action should be taken under U.S. jurisdiction, where there is a better discovery process. Prof Salby was enticed from the U.S.; actions were taken within this country, by agents of Macquarie. Dr. Salby suffered subsequent financial loss and damage to his professional reputation, which the university must be forced to explain. There are ongoing damages being incurred.
    As always, if financial support is required to right this wrong, I will contribute.
    Others here have indicated they will help, too. This is a battle worth fighting."

    02{Mark D.} #4
    July 9, 2013 at 1:40 pm · +34 -0 34 upvotes, people at Nova liked this
    Only one way to fight this and that is through law suits.
    Would it be paranoid to suggest that this was planned in advance? That
    Macquarie never intended to fulfill the contracts but instead intended to disrupt
    Salby in his research?"

    "20{tallbloke} says:
    July 10, 2013 at 8:27 am
    Basically, the university has acted in bad faith from the start. Maybe it’s
    purpose in offering Salby his position was to thwart his research and make sure
    his findings were delayed, suppressed and blocked from publication for as long
    as possible."

    "03{Andrew Parker} says
    July 9, 2013 at 12:40 pm
    mpainter says:
    July 9, 2013 at 11:42 am
    “Macquarie’s failure to register the contract may not have been an accident- it may have been deliberate.”
    I love a good conspiracy theory. I’ll take it a step further and propose that Macquarie may have lured Salby to Australia for the express purpose of isolating him, and silencing him if he went off the farm. Let us not forget the Team and the lengths they can go to to protect their ideology."

    ""If even a quarter of what Salby says is true, he's been treated badly - possibly
    disgracefully. Macquarie is Tim Flannery's university, and I doubt there'd be
    much argument on here about his status!"
    And his previous location at University of Boulder, Colorado is ground-zero
    for, errrm, Kevin Trenberth. Odd, that.
    Jul 10, 2013 at 11:19 AM | 04{michael hart}

    While many conspiracy theories develop over years, this affair generated a whole bunch of new ones, typically among people who repeatedly demonstrated cluelessness about university processes, legal procedures, Salby's back history, etc, etc.

    One must be careful not to over-interpret the data:
    a) Of the intense subset of climate dismissives who blog and comment about it on these blogs
    b) ~45% subscribed to one or more conspiracy theories of the from: "somebody we agree with has been dismissed, therefore (assume the worst)"

    c) This does not imply anything about belief in other conspiracy theories or anything about the behavior of other climate dismissives.


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