The desperate delusions of the Lewandowsky apologists

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 thatNeither 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.





13 thoughts on “The desperate delusions of the Lewandowsky apologists

  1. Like you I’m longing to leave the Lewandowsky story alone and talk about something more interesting. Lots of people whose opinion I respect say we’re wasting our time, it’s because I see a disturbing trend in the way the support for Lewandowsky is widening far beyond the frontiers (ha!) of his regular supporters at and around SkepticalScience that I keep going. When journalists with a reputation to lose like Chris Mooney persist in their support in the face of incontrovertible evidence that Lewandowsky is spouting nonsense, you have to wonder what’s going on.
    Adam Corner of talkingclimate launched Lewandowsky in the British media with his Guardian article on Moon Hoax, but has not commented on Recursive Fury, I think. Nor has Michael Woods, who withdrew as a peer reviewer. Some academics must realise that Lewandowsky is poisonous, and are distancing themselves. Why don’t journalists do the same?

  2. This Lewandowsky nonsense might almost have been deliberately designed to decoy good, intelligent, well-informed people away from dealing with really important issues.

    Perhaps it was.

  3. if you (and others) are labelled a ‘conspiracy theorist’ – Robin – because an RS medal winning Chair of Psychology says so in the peer reviewed literature..

    no one will listen to you about the ‘important issues’

  4. To my mind, the fact that such a “brilliant” climate scientist as Michael Mann has joined forces with Lewandowsky (as he indisputably did last November) suggests to me that the movers and shakers of the IPCC – and all who hang onto their every word – may well be in far bigger trouble than they thought!

    Add to this Lawson’s recent presentation and Sweden’s Lennart Bengtsson’s decision to join forces with the GWPF – not to mention Bengtsson’s “The whole concept behind IPCC is basically wrong” added to Judith Curry’s highlighting of John Christy’s “hockey stick” experience …

    Well, YMMV, but I’d say that perhaps the world just might step back from the brink of this UN generated madness in perpetual self-serving motion!

  5. “no one”? Well I, for one, have no idea who has been so labelled. But, assuming the list includes you and Geoff, knowing that doesn’t have the remotest effect on my listening to either of you as you both have valuable and interesting things to say. My only regret is that you’re spending less time on those valuable and interesting things because of your preoccupation with the Lew nonsense. My view is probably true of a lot of people. Then I daresay there’s another category of people who regard being so labelled as a badge of honour: they may well listen even more attentively than before.

    I’d be interested if you could give me an example or two of categories of people who would have listened to you and Geoff but now won’t do so because of the labelling.

  6. I first heard about the crap reviewed Frontier piece last year, I said, oh yeah, another heap of nonsense, whatever, nobody will bother, life goes on, etc.

    This isn’t even a climate science issue, an energy issue, a physical world issue, etc.

    Now I realized there is something deep. serious, here. People are backing-up this crap, but why? What is the point?

    What would happen should the Lewandowsky “peer reviewed” meltdown become an official scientific failure?

  7. Ed Davey was waving around cook’s 97% consensus (peer reviewed science)
    just tryingto prevent, Obama, Davey, Milliband, potentially waving around Lewandowsky’s paper[s] – peer reviewed science says climate sceptics are conspiracy theorists.. which will just make things harder, for everybody..

    as for the politicians, can’t be bothered with them any more on policy, they are paid and elected not to be so dumb, let them sort out their own mess. Lewandowsky is achievable and an afront to science

  8. Peer reviewed “science” should “prove” that dems are knowledgeable, clever, enlighten, and have moral values, and that reps are know-nothing with despicable values.

    It should be published in “Truths-shut up deniers! shut up bastards!”, the Ultimate peer reviewed journal.

  9. Barry: first, its unlikely that Obama etc. will wave the Lew nonsense around. But, even if they did, it couldn’t make things any harder for people they already condemn as deniers, flat-earthers etc. In any case, few people (of the even fewer who are concerned about climate change) have even heard of the Lew nonsense – and are unlikely to be particularly interested if they did.

    Sorry but I’m unconvinced: you and other good people are wasting valuable effort on this. And it’s not impossible that that was its purpose and that you’ve been successfully duped.

    As for the politicians, it’s they whose foolish policies are so damaging. They must therefore be the prime targets, however difficult it may be to make an impact. As I’ve said elsewhere, the next 20 months should be crucial as it becomes increasingly obvious that the so-called ‘international community’ has no intention of cutting emissions; and that therefore the UK’s climate policies are pointless as well as damaging. Now’s the time to keep up the pressure on that message and not waste time on trivial distraction.

  10. Barry: I’m hoping to be able to join you at the Walport talk. Three problems: (1) it’s full up & I’m only on the wait list; (2) I have a hearing problem so have difficulty following a talk – depending on the clarity of the speaker (I always struggle with the Q&A session); (3) his subject is about “efforts to communicate climate change to the public”, so policy unlikely to be covered (or relevant). Nonetheless, hope to see you there & that we’ll be able to continue our above discussion in the pub afterwards.

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