I really didn’t want to write anything more about the ridiculous Lewandowsky / Frontiers fiasco, and hoped that it would quietly fade away following the clear statements from the Frontiers in Psychology journal that explained the retraction of Lewandowsky et al’s ‘Fury’ paper and vindicated the complainants.
But the idiocy continues, with a seemingly endless parade of Lewandowsky apologists mindlessly regurgitating the nonsense that they have read in the Guardian or at some green activist blog.
A week ago, an article appeared in something called “scholarly kitchen” written by Kent Anderson (left) a journal publisher. Anderson falsely accused the journal of being ‘disingenuous’ in describing the people referred to as subjects. He quoted very selectively from the Frontiers statements, and even tried to make out that the retraction would lead to the end of entire fields of research, such as economics and literature. Anderson falsely stated that the critics were ‘claiming this is part of a conspiracy’ and provided a link, which instead of doing the honest thing (linking to what the critics actually said) goes to a green blog.
There is no excuse for Anderson’s misrepresentation of the facts, since comments on an earlier blog he wrote pointed out and corrected his errors.
In the comments below, a blog contributor called David Crotty (right) shows even lower standards. He claims “This sort of analysis is common practice” and gives a list of five links, supposedly to support his claim. These links all turn out to be articles about historical figures, such as Thomas Jefferson who died in 1826! Even when commenter Udik points the false analogy, Crotty stubbornly refuses to admit the difference, and repeats Anderson’s absurd claim that “this would make it impossible to do research in fields such as economics, sociology, history”. This would perhaps be unremarkable if Crotty was just a run-of-the-mill activist blogger. But it’s quite worrying that he is in fact a senior editor with Oxford University Press.
Yesterday an article appeared at Discover blogs by an anonymous blogger calling himself “Neuroskeptic”. I came across him at retraction watch, where following a comment linking to Climate Audit and WUWT, he made the statement that “Neither of those are respected blogs, even within the climate-skeptic sphere.” This intrigued me – why would anyone make a fool of himself by making a statement that everyone including himself knows is untrue?
In his Discovery article he notes the change of tone from the first Frontiers statement suggesting there were no ethical issues to the second saying that there were. Presumably he’s unaware that he first one was written jointly with Lewandowsky himself. He tries to claim that the people referred to in the paper are not subjects or participants at all, using the absurd argument that the ‘Fury’ authors did not use the word ‘subjects’. Neuroskeptic does not seem to have bothered to look at any ethical guidelines for psychological research, such as these at UWA (Lewandowsky’s former university) that make it clear that participants include anyone who is identified in a record or databank. Rather than check any facts, or rely on the judgement of the journal editors who investigated the situation carefully for a year, he prefers his own ill-informed opinion.