Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.


Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe

Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...

Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts


Climate Hustle

AGU Fall Meeting sessions on social media, misinformation and uncertainty

Posted on 16 July 2012 by John Cook, Stephan Lewandowsky

We have proposed several sessions for the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco on 3-7 December: on social media, misinformation and uncertainty. AGU members are invited to submit abstracts for the sessions - the deadline to submit an abstract is August 8. Details of the sessions are:

PA013: Social Media and Blogging as a Communication Tool for Scientists

Session Abstract:
Social media and the Internet has become an increasingly indispensable tool for scientists and communicators. This session will feature key figures in the climate blogosphere who have adopted novel and effective methods of communicating climate change science on the Internet. They will discuss the risks and rewards of new media, covering issues such as the challenges and advantages of crowd sourcing, viral marketing, Internet marketing and traffic generation, the use of smartphones, the management of online communities and social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Convenor: John Cook

Invited Speakers:

  • Michael Mann
  • Michael Tobis
  • Peter Sinclair
  • Zeke Hausfather

ED042: Understanding & Responding to Misinformation

Session Abstract:
Scientists face many challenges in effectively communicating science to the public, not the least being the presence of misinformation. However, there are actually positive educational opportunities available in the correction of misinformation. This session will explain the psychology and origins of misinformation, the cognitive processes at play when correcting misconceptions and recommended approaches to effective myth debunking. The session will be relevant to scientists seeking to explain their science, to communicators wishing to effectively outreach to the public and educators who may need to respond to misinformation in the classroom.

Convenors: Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook

Invited Speakers:

  • Daniel Bedford
  • Max Boykoff

GC014: Construing Uncertainty in Climate Science

Session Abstract:
Uncertainty forms an integral part of climate science, and it is often cited in connection with political arguments against mitigative action. However, the implications of uncertainty are not always well understood. In particular, uncertainty is often misunderstood to imply that the risk from climate change may be minimal, whereas in fact greater uncertainty translates into greater risk. This session will examine how uncertainty can be misconstrued, how such misconstrual can be avoided, what the implications of uncertainty are for risk management, and why the notion of uncertainty plays such an important role in cognition and decision making as it relates to climate change.

Convenors: John Robert Hunter, Stephan Lewandowsky, James Risbey

Invited Speakers:

  • Naomi Oreskes
  • Gerard Roe
  • Paul Baer
  • Mike Raupach

AGU Members, click here to submit an abstract for either session.

0 0

Bookmark and Share Printable Version  |  Link to this page


1  2  3  4  Next

Comments 1 to 50 out of 155:

  1. Nice. Meta-science seems to be fixed on the menu so may as well prepare the dish properly, within the context of the scientific community.
    0 0
  2. Wow, it's quite a team of speakers!

    Any chance of having it recorded & posted? Even if it's only audio? (although video wouldn't hurt...)
    0 0
    Response: AGU video record and post select sessions but which they select is up to them. They posted my talk on misinformation at last year's AGU Fall Meeting (thanks to Peter Sinclair for YouTubing it)
  3. Is there any way to post a response to something from John Cook and know he reads it?
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [DB] I have sent a message on your behalf to him.
  4. curiousd, John Cook like most of the contributors to SkS is very busy, and not paid for his contributions to SkS, nor for hosting it. I am sure that he attempts to read the comments on a regular basis, so that commenting here or on the SkS facebook page are probably among the most reliable ways to contact him. There is, however, no guarantee. For what it is worth, I have drawn attention to the fact that you are trying to contact him on another forum I know he frequents. There is no guarantee that he'll read that, either, and even if he does he may well be too busy in any event.
    0 0
  5. John Cook,

    I am working on the project quite seriously. But there are many issues to consider and some of this may even require travel on my part.
    0 0
  6. I see John and Stephan are going to be convening a meeting together on Understanding & Responding to Misinformation in December 2012
    There's a lot of speculation on the net at the moment about the Lewandowsky paper which  has been announced about scepticism and belief in conspiracy theories.
    (-Snip-) Could you, John Cook, please clarify whether SkS posted a link to Lewandowsky's survey between Aug and Oct 2010, or helped in any other way, eg by providing email addresses of potential respondents?
    many thanks
    Geoff Chambers
    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [DB] References to stolen intellectual property snipped.

  7. I guess I'd have to ask, Geoff: Who's speculating, where are they speculating, who wants to know and why?
    0 0
    Moderator Response: TC: The following is the text of Geoff Chamber's post, accidentally deleted by John Hart. I am posting it here as the natural response to Daniel's question:

    "Daniel Bailey Just about everyone at Lucia's blackboard, Bishop Hill, and Joanna Nova's. I've seen the names of Mosher, McIntyre Jeff Id, Andrew Montford, Anthony Watts, among others. Some of the speculation is about the identity of the sceptical blogs which Stephan contacted and which refused to cooperate. Some is about the data itself, which is now available at Bishop HillL My question is on the specific point as to whether Skeptical Science participated in the survey in any way. A simple yes or no answer will do."
  8. @geoffchambers #6:

    If you want to determine whether SkS posted a link to Lewandowsky's survey between Aug and Oct 2010, you can use the site's archive to access all of the articles posted during this time-frame. It is not incumbent on volunteer SkS authors to do this research for you.

    If you want to know how John Cook interacted with Stephan Lewandowsky on his survey, you best send a querry to John via email. He's a very busy person and no longer has time to read all of the comments posted on SkS.
    0 0
  9. @geoffchambers #6

    I inadvertendly deleted your second post. I'm hoping that Daniel Bailey can restore it.
    0 0
  10. Sorry, JH. Only JC can do that.
    0 0
  11. To put Geoff Chamber's posts in context, here's the text of the Aug 31 post on Bihop Hill titled,"Landowsky's Survey."

    "Geoff Chambers has obtained Stephan Lewandowsky's survey data which can be seen as an attachment at the bottom of this post. Of course it's anonymised, so we are not going to get to the bottom of the question of the number of sceptics he approached, but you may be interested."

    Geoff and his cohorts at Bishoip Hill seem to be intent on making a mountain out of a molehill.
    0 0
  12. geoffchambers @6, a quick google search of SkS shows no hits for "Lewandowski" plus "survey". Beyond that, any questions you have should be directed to John Cook.

    For those who are interested, Lewandowki's paper is available online here.

    I note that, having read the methodology, the claims being made about it by various deniers are entirely unwarranted. It might justly be claimed that the paper has not sampled "skeptics" in general, or "skeptics who comment on the internet", but only "skeptics who comment on science based blogs" which may not be a representative sample. It may also be suspected that the number of "skeptics" participating may be to small to draw any significant conclusions. It is not clear to me where Lewandowski reports the proportion of respondents with low scores on the Climate Science part of the survey.

    More importantly, in my opinion, the title of the paper is not justified by the results, and is needlessly sensationalizing and offensive. Lewandowski found a -.866 correlation between free market ideology and acceptance of climate science, but only a negative 0.197 correlation between acceptance of conspiracy theories and acceptance of climate science. Clearly the link to free market ideology is the big result, and the limited link to conspiracy theory ideation should only be a footnote in this study.

    Having said that, the link between a significant group of "skeptics" and conspiracy theorizing is easily established by their own words, with suggestions that climate scientist fake data either to advance the cause of one world government, or to undermine the US economy, or simply to defraud tax payers all being common and all being, in the strictest sense, conspiracy theories. Of course, this only has bearing on those "skeptics", such as Monckton, who advance such theories; and is in no way a reflection on the more rational "skeptics" such as Jeff ID and Lucia.
    0 0
  13. Further to my comment @12, and following up on John Hartz @13, I had a look at Lewandowski's data. Of interest to me is that 43 out of the 64 people who most strongly disagreed with global warming, as measured by their disagreement with the claim that:

    "I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years has increased atmospheric temperature to an appreciable degree."

    also strongly agreed with the claim that:

    "The claim that the climate is changing due to emissions from fossil fuels is a hoax perpetrated by corrupt scientists who wish to spend more taxpayer money on climate research."

    That is, 67% of the hard core "skeptics" surveyed are conspiracy theorists in the strict sense; even if their conspiracy theories are restricted to global warming.

    As it happens, however, 37 of those 64 had conspiracy theory ideation above average. That is, 50% of hardcore "skeptics" surveyed give significant credence to at least one, or some credence to at least 6 bona fide conspiracy theories other than those associated with climate change.

    0 0
  14. One further comment. Geoff Chamber's wrote at Bishop Hill:

    " Cook is quite clear in private correspondence that Lewandowsky’s denier / conspiracy theorist survey was something separate from the schemes he was cooking up with Lew.
    One possibility is that he contacted the commenters directly by email. This would be better survey practice, since it prevents commenters from exchanging views, as happened at Tamino’s, and also would avoid any possible bad publicity. Would it be considered unethical?"

    Clearly his questions have been answered already. Skeptical Science and John Cook are not associated with Lewandowski's study.

    Curiously, Geoff Chambers followed that comment by espousing his own, bizarre conspiracy theory. Given that he thinks the "... whole survey is a fuss about nothing ...", I have to wonder why he is making a fuss.
    0 0
  15. JohnHartz #8
    Thank you. I have already done the search. It’s not there. Neither is it on the Wayback machine, who took snapshots of SkS every week during the relevant period.
    (-Snip-) Lewandowsky mentions SkS in his list of eight “pro-science” ( -Snip-) sites used, and when challenged, said that perhaps Cook had deleted the link.
    There is no suggestion of anything underhand here. The link from the participating blogs to the commercial organisation who set up the survey was deleted once the fieldwork period was over. My interest in finding the link here was in reading the comments of bloggers. It is puzzling that Sceptical Science did NOT take part, given the great interest that Cook shows in Lewandowsky’s work.
    (-Snip-) ( -Snip-) (-Snip-)
    So it seems that Lewandowsky was mistaken when he said that SkS took part in the survey, and we’re left with the puzzle of how he obtained 1100+ responses from just six (possibly seven) blogs, given the sparse and largely negative comments from the couple of dozen bloggers who discussed the survey on the blogs concerned.
    ( -Snip- ).
    0 0

    [John Cook] Skeptical Science did link to the Lewandowsky survey back in 2011 2010 but now when I search the archives for the link, it's no longer there so the link must've been taken down once the survey was over.

    [DB] References to stolen intellectual property, statements about religions & ideology and general off-topic hypothesizing snipped.

  16. John Cook
    Are you sure the questionnaire you posted at SkS in 2011 is the one to the current Lewandowsky paper? Lewandowsky says the fieldwork was carried out between August and October 2010. The six sites where articles have been found all posted between the 28th and the 30th August 2010.
    There’s a similar questionnaire from UWA (though with different structure and different questions) being discussed at
    and another one (or possibly the same one) was mentioned by junkscience. Clearly, several different surveys have been or are being conducted.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [DB] References to stolen intellectual property snipped.
  17. What an interesting conversation.

    There's a lot to learn here but it's not about the mechanics of a survey, more about what happens when uncomfortable information is delivered through research. The response in some quarters to Lewandowsky's paper seems an inadvertently authored metaphor for the larger problem of societal acceptance of climate change research, amusingly complete even in the detail of perusing purloined communications for hints of wrongdoing.

    Might be worth pausing to think about that.
    0 0
  18. "The response in some quarters..."
    Exemplifies nutjobbery in general and (-self snipped-) in specific. Durned Comments Policy prohibits most of what comes to mind to describe this.
    0 0
  19. From the Lewandowsky paper: "Rejection of climate science was strongly associated with endorsement of a laissez-faire view of unregulated free markets."

    The implied cause and effect is one of the numerous hazards of this type of research. There is a disagreement over the cost of externalities of fossil fuel use which is tied to disagreements over sensitivity, attribution, accounting for costs, and ignoring benefits. Certainly the skeptic community needs to be more responsive to the CO2 externality problem but that doesn't mean ulterior motives or preconceptions trump analysis of the facts and science.
    0 0
  20. You snipped this part, which doesn’t come from stolen intellctual property.
    “Lewandowsky claims in his paper that the fieldwork was completed by October 2010, and that Skeptical Science participated. Apparently one or other of these claims is mistaken”.
    0 0
  21. Eric (skeptic) @19, the fact something is trumping "analysis of the facts and science" in general within the "skeptic community" is easily demonstrated by such examples as Monckton and Anthony AHI* Watts. That the motive of the more rational "skeptics" is not scientific is demonstrated by the fact that the intellectual sins of their, frankly, absurd companions in arms is not considered reason to distance themselves from them. Clearly the merits of Anthony AHI Watts is judged by Pielke and McIntyre, not on the basis of the scientific virtues of his blog, but on the political impact of that blog.

    The question then, is not have the great majority of "skeptics" divorced themselves from the scientific tradition; but why have they done so?

    (* Antarctic Heat Island)
    0 0
  22. That seems to raise a straightforward question of fact - did Skeptical Science post a link to Stephan Lewandowsky's survey during the stated fieldwork period prior to October 2010?

    Presumably, in the interests of openness transparency and credibility, John Cook can clear up this little point for us.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [DB] A straightforward statement of fact: in the interests of openness, transparency and credibility, John Cook already has, here. Presumably, you must have missed that little point.
  23. Tom, in a recent example, McIntyre criticized the Tobs portion of Watts' paper. I believe that Watts, Pielke or McIntyre should be critiqued in specific cases as has been done numerous times here. People can then make up their own minds on motives The Lewandowsky paper takes a broad brush approach and that is quite unscientific even without considering suspect methodologies.
    0 0
  24. Eric (skeptic) @23, I can understand your not liking the paper, but I though you were better than to manufacture falsehoods about it. In fact Lewandowski is quite specific that the results only apply to "skeptics" who debate on blogs, rather than to all people who reject climate science:

    "One potential objection against our results might therefore cite the selected nature of our sample. We
    acknowledge that our sample is self-selected and that the results may therefore not generalize to the population at large. However, this has no bearing on the importance of
    Motivated rejection of science 13 our results|we designed the study to investigate what motivates the rejection of science in individuals who choose to get involved in the ongoing debate about one scienti c topic, climate change."

    Nor is any attempt made to suggest that all "skeptics" are free market ideologues, or accept conspiracy theories other than those explicitly related to climate change:

    "Although nearly all domain experts agree that human CO2 emissions are altering the world's climate, segments of the public remain unconvinced by the scienti c evidence. Internet blogs have become a vocal platform for climate denial, and bloggers have taken a prominent and in
    uential role in questioning climate science. We report a survey (N > 1100) of climate blog users to identify the variables underlying acceptance and rejection of climate science. Paralleling previous work, we nd that endorsement of a laissez-faire conception of free-market economics predicts rejection of climate science (r ' :80 between
    latent constructs). Endorsement of the free market also predicted the rejection of other established scienti c ndings, such as the facts that HIV causes AIDS and that smoking causes lung cancer. We additionally show that endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that the CIA killed Martin-Luther King or that NASA faked the moon landing) predicts rejection of climate science as well as the rejection of other scienti c ndings, above and beyond endorsement of laissez-faire free markets. This provides empirical con rmation of previous suggestions that conspiracist ideation contributes to the rejection of science. Acceptance of science, by contrast, was strongly associated with the perception of a consensus among scientists."

    There is no broad brush approach.

    As I have previously noted, the title does not reflect the most important finding of the paper, and is offensive. There are also problems with the methodology, but those problems are very difficult to avoid at a reasonable cost (ie, at a cost within the budgets likely to be available to researchers), and are common to most research of this type.

    More importantly, the paper reveals nothing we did not already know. The activity of the free market is known to by highly rated by most blog "skeptics", and acceptance of conspiracy thinking has been directly observed in the very common charge that global warming is a conspiracy designed to bring about one world government - a theory endorsed by Monckton, which endorsement has had no appreciable impact on the willingness of other prominent "skeptics" to take him seriously. More recently, Monckton has publicly endorsed another conspiracy theory (birtherism) with no apparent loss of regard by other "skeptics".

    I cannot help but feel that the main reason "skeptics" are hot under the collar about this paper is not the title, but the fact that the very sober reports in the actual paper are a genuine reflection of reality - and they know it.
    0 0
  25. So this is how the fake skeptics deal with cognitive dissonance. Said fake skeptics are doing a brilliant job if behaving just as predicted and demonstrating the very traits they are trying to rail against. That they are oblivious to that fact and keep scoring own goals by continuing to post is fascinating. This is yet another thread that could keep psychologists busy for a while ;)

    Moreover, the desperate attempts by conspiracy theorists to try and deny that they are conspiracy theorists by suggesting that a conspiracy is afoot would be hilarious if it were not so pathetic.

    Just a gentle reminder to everyone that the topic of this post is:

    "AGU Fall Meeting sessions on social media, misinformation and uncertainty", and not the Lewandowsky paper.

    That we have to have a special session at AGU with that title is so very unfortunate, but is demanded by the habit of fake skeptics to misinform and attack scientists as demonstrated by their behaviour on this very thread.
    0 0
  26. Tom, the best argument for the paper is that "skeptics" must be quoted as you did and we have yet to determine the definition. All in good time.
    0 0
  27. John Cook’s response does not clear the point up, since he mentions a post in 2011, while the fieldwork ended in Oct 2010, according to Lewandowsky’s paper. The six blogs known to have posted the survey all did so between 28th and 30th of August. 2010.
    Cook says “Skeptical Science did link to the Lewandowsky survey back in 2011 but now when I search the archives for the link, it's no longer there so the link must've been taken down once the survey was over”.
    But the survey was already over by November 2010.
    0 0
    Response: [John Cook] My apologies, it was 2010, not 2011 (have updated the original response).
  28. Here's a thought: Lewandowsky 2012 itself is a stimulus created for the purpose of experimentation.

    0 0
  29. #28 doug bostrom
    Thanks to Stephan for the stimulus. Hope he’s enjoying the response.

    Thanks to John Cook for the correction. The announcement of the survey provoked quite a lot of comment at Tamino’s and Deltoid. Does anyone remember what the response was in comments here?
    0 0
  30. @geoffchambers #29:

    In my opinion, the hornet's nest about Lewandowsky's research that you stired up on the Bishop Hill blog site is "Much ado about nothing."

    Is this wild-goose chase really the best and highest use of your time and energy?
    0 0
  31. John Hartz
    Lewandowsky gave the names of eight blogs as the source of his data. At two of them there is no evidence of the survey having been mentioned. One is totally inactive. The other is the highly active and influential SkepticalScience. John Cook says the post about the survey was deleted after the survey was completed. (Why?)
    He gave the wrong year, then corrected it on prompting, but still with no precision as to the month. (Why not?) A little more precision would help us to confirm his statement with the Wayback machine.
    Now we learn from a comment at`
    that Kwicksurveys, the free service which conducted the survey, was hacked and all their data lost. This happened in June, just weeks after Lewandowsky had put up a second questionnaire aimed at deniers - which was publicised here and at Watchingthedeniers.
    I repeat my request. Does anyone here at SkepticalScience remember the survey in August 2010?

    Or not?
    0 0
    Response: [DB] Inflammatory tone snipped. [John Cook] I don't remember the month, presumably August or September is the ballpark.
  32. Geoff: Does anyone remember what the response was in comments here?

    Why not ask the expert blog science dumpster divers? Apparently a copy of the entire SkS database ca. 2010 is kept somewhere as an object of obsessive and unhealthy fascination, so other than maintaining a histrionic posture why ask here?

    John: Is this wild-goose chase really the best and highest use of your time and energy?

    If laughter and fun are our highest and best purpose then we should sweep off our hats and bow low in recognition of Geoff and Crew's superior efforts.
    0 0
  33. @geoffchambers #31:

    The bulk of the many questions that you have posted on the SkS comment threads should have been posed directly to John Cook via email. Please stop cluttering this comment thread with an endless stream of queries.
    0 0
  34. I agree with Tom about the title. To me it's unnecessarily combative. But the fact that it highlights the "conspiracy" results over the "free-market" results is probably because Dr. Lewandowsky sees that result as being the "new" finding, while the free-market result is already well established.

    Other than that, people need to pay special attention to what the paper actually says about it's target audience and how the correlation goes. Hint, it is not skepticism about climate science as being all conspiratorial. See Tom's post.
    0 0
  35. A further comment on the methodology of the paper:

    I was talking to my wife about the Lewandowsky paper yesterday. She noted two points in particular. First, the absence of a neutral (I don't know/I know nothing about it) option in the questions was a serious methodological flaw. This is particularly the case for the conspiracy theory questions, in which at least one of the conspiracy theories are obscure (IMO), and not inherently implausible:

    "CYOkla: The Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols did not act alone but rather received assistance from neo-Nazi groups."

    I have never before heard of this conspiracy theory, and it is not inherently implausible that terrorists should receive aid from extremist political groups. Indeed, most terrorists have received such aid. As to whether McVeigh and Nichols did? I have no relevant information.

    If I had taken the survey, upon coming to this question I would have left it blank. That would be a perfectly rational, and the only honest response. My doing so would have excluded my responses from the sample.

    The consequence of this lack of a neutral response combined with excluding all results that do not complete all questions is to:
    1) Bias the sample by excluding some people who are trying to complete the survey accurately;
    2) Force some of those who do complete the survey into more definite responses than they actually hold.

    In my wife's opinion, this flaw alone is enough to make the survey scientifically worthless; and I trust her judgement on this issue.

    My wife further said that she would automatically reject a paper with Lewandowsky's title as being politically motivated. In the social sciences, politically motivated papers are a major problem, and generate an excess of background noise and confusion. Part of my wife's response to that is simply to ignore as worthless clearly politically motivated papers. I can see her point, but disagree with the response. Data is data, and so long as you are clear as to how it was obtained, and the results obtained, can be interpreted without consideration of the views expressed in the paper.

    What is more, in this case the views expressed in the paper are sober analysis. The title makes the paper seem very much worse than it is.

    Never-the-less, given title, and given the (several) methodological flaws discussed in this post and in my post @12, this has confirmed my opinion that this paper is an "own goal" for opponents of "skepticism" about AGW. It contributes nothing of value scientifically to understanding AGW "skepticism", and its title is a disaster.
    0 0
  36. John Hartz #33
    Why on earth should a question about the contents of this blog be addressed to John Cook in a private email? (-Snip-)
    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [DB] You have already received a public response from John Cook. Should you wish more detail, please submit an email to him. This is a forum founded and administered by him. Therefore questions of the nature you have been posting should more rightly be submitted to him in private correspondence.

    Continuance in this behavior now constitutes grandstanding and sloganeering, and will be moderated accordingly. FYI.

  37. A (hopefully) final comment on Lewandowski (in press):

    I have been looking through the survey results and noticed that 10 of the respondents have a significant probability of being produced by people attempting to scam the survey. I base this conclusion on their having reported absurdly low (<2) consensus percentages for at least one of the three categories. An additional response (#861 on the spreadsheet)represents an almost perfect "warmist" caricature of a "skeptic", scoring 1 for all global warming questions, and 4 for all free market and conspiracy theory questions. There may be wackos out there that believe every single conspiracy theory they have heard, but they are a vanishingly few in number, and are likely to appear in a survey with such a small sample size. A second respondent (890) almost exactly mirrored respondent 861 except for giving a 3 for the Martin Luther King Jr assassination, and lower values for the scientific consensus questions. Again this response is almost certainly a scam.

    Combined, these respondents account for 2 of the strongly agree results in almost every conspiracy theory question; and the other potential scammers also have a noticable number of strong agreements to conspiracy theories. For most conspiracy theory questions, "skeptics" only had two respondents that strongly agreed, the two scammed results. Given the low number of "skeptical" respondents overall; these two scammed responses significantly affect the results regarding conspiracy theory ideation. Indeed, given the dubious interpretation of weakly agreed responses (see previous post), this paper has no data worth interpreting with regard to conspiracy theory ideation.

    It is my strong opinion that the paper should be have its publication delayed while undergoing a substantial rewrite. The rewrite should indicate explicitly why the responses regarding conspiracy theory ideation are in fact worthless, and concentrate solely on the result regarding free market beliefs (which has a strong enough a response to be salvageable). If this is not possible, it should simply be withdrawn.
    0 0
  38. Tom Curtis #37
    Well said. Your point about the two odd outliers has already been made by Manicbeancounter on his blog. Nice to see some agreement about scientific and methodological questions across the great divide.
    Moderator DB
    OK. What’s his email address?
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [DB] At the bottom of every SkS page is the link to the Contact Us form.
  39. In reply to geoffchambers at 16:17 PM on 1 September, 2012

    the editor wrote:

    [DB] References to stolen intellectual property, statements about religions & ideology and general off-topic hypothesizing snipped.

    For the lords sake DB, don't step all over the lead.
    0 0
  40. I would just like to second Geoff Chamber's comment and thank Tom Curtis for his honest and intellectually rigorous analysis of Stephan Lewandowsky's paper.

    I hope Stephan will follow his sound advice and rewrite or withdraw this seriously flawed work.
    0 0
  41. Have completly missed this hot topic!

    But it is nice to note that genuine skepticism is resulting in deeper analysis, which can only be good. It's better than all the fawning that goes on in the 'other' camp.
    0 0
  42. Tom,

    I have worked on public surveys (on Tobacco use) and when we analyzed the data we only deleted responses that contradicted themselves. It is very difficult to set up an objective measure to reject samples. You might be surprised how dogmatic some deniers are. Read the comments on WUWT for examples. People who believe in conspiracy theories often believe in a lot of theories.

    Lewandowsky has data he has collected. If you do not like his data you are welcome to perform a better survey and publish your results. If the consensus of scientists is that the data are not supportable than this paper will not be cited by anyone else. That is how science is normally done.

    I strongly doubt that mainstream scientists will continually cite this paper if the methodology is questioned. It is the deniers who cite papers that have been shown to be poor, since they have no good data to support their premises.

    I am interested in surveying High School students on Global Warming for publication. Albatross: do you do public surveys for publication?
    0 0
  43. Re - michael sweet at 22:40 PM on 3 September, 2012

    It would indeed be nice if that was how "science is normally done".

    In this case, however someone managed to get the erroneous conclusions of the paper headlined in two UK national newspapers before the paper was even press released, let alone published.

    It matters not whether serious scientists take the paper seriously - its conclusions are now imprinted on the public mind.

    The interesting question is - who organised the pre-release press exposure?
    0 0
  44. I made some observations about the Lewandowsky et al paper (on my own blog). I was fascinated mainly by the reaction of skeptics, for example on WUWT and in response to an article in the UK Telegraph. Responses from 'skeptics' lent considerable support to the findings of the paper to which they so strongly objected - that right wing ideologies are a predictor of rejection of climate science.

    In regard to those people who accept conspiracy theories as a matter of course (rather than 'skeptics' who just seem to think climate science is a giant conspiracy), I noted that there seemed to be too few respondents to draw any conclusions. This is likely to be for two reasons. Firstly, conspiracy theorists tend to congregate on conspiracy theory sites and are less likely to visit sites like this one. Secondly, I don't imagine they make up more than a tiny percentage of the world's population. (They make a lot of noise for such a small group though, and there are probably more of them than most of us think.)

    In regard to the survey design, it seemed adequate for the purpose. It was a shame there was not a greater proportion of responses from 'skeptics', although it's probably not that far from the proportion in the general community.

    I personally don't mind the tone taken in the study. This can be put down to the fact that I hold strong views about 'skeptics' and the antics of people who've set themselves up to delay action to mitigate global warming.
    0 0
  45. Foxgoose: It matters not whether serious scientists take the paper seriously - its conclusions are now imprinted on the public mind.

    The ox gored, so to speak. Horrible, isn't it?

    As for errors, those seem to hinge on the notion that we can say definitely that one response is a scam and another isn't. We actually can't do that. We can speculate but we can't say with any degree of formally defensible confidence. To become attached to firm conclusions by winnowing responses into "valid" and "invalid" buckets is to commit an error.

    There are much more subtle ways to manipulate a survey than jamming response knobs to one extreme or another. Go read about it.

    If any of us were to spend a career getting educated on survey methodology we might have something genuinely useful to say here.
    0 0
  46. One (?) other thought on this business of parsing a paper for clues as to its validity.

    Necessarily Lewandowsky followed statistical clues about his hypothesis. The statistical description he claims to have derived necessarily does not map perfectly to any single individual. That said, the behavior of individuals gives us hints to whether they're a member of one general statistical class or another.

    For those following discussion of Lewandowsky's paper, consider whether a given individual is choosing to go down the rabbit hole of stolen database diving in hopes of uncovering some sort of plot, or if that individual is sticking to science, knows about or is getting educated on the topic of survey methodology, is carefully separating what can be definitely known versus what must remain in the realm of speculation.

    Paying attention to individual behavior can help us to understand the possible worth of Lewandowsky's paper as well as sort out who's worth listening to and who isn't.

    When I apply that standard here, I immediately see the "Tom Curtis" class and the "Geoff Chambers" class. They seem different. Tom's taken a bit of a mental swan dive in firmly ascribing "scam" to certain responses, but his analysis is a first brush at actually performing a critique of the paper that is numerically agreeable and possibly useful. Geoff Chambers appears to be in another class.
    0 0
  47. doug_bostrom
    (-Snip-) Why should I repeat what Tom Curtis said so well? The fact that I agree with him seems to irritate you more than anything. You don’t criticise anything I say, but merely the fact that I’m supposedly not qualified to say it.
    I used to run opinion surveys. I certainly didn’t spend a lifetime learning about survey methodology. The basics are not complicated. One thing you learn is, if you’re doing a survey on dog food, you don’t go back to the client and say “the dog owners we spoke to didn’t want to be interviewed, so we spoke to cat owners instead”.
    Lewandowsky’s analysis in terms of correlations between latent variables simply hides his lack of data. Causations derived from the anonymous on-line box ticks of a dozen or less people - you couldn’t make it up.
    Or could you?
    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Note that accusations of deception are in violation of the Comments Policy.

    Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right. This privilege can be rescinded if the posting individual treats adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it. Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.

    References to moderation snipped; accusations of dishonesty struck out.

  48. Geoff, I'm not irritated, I'm laughing. I know I'm not supposed to-- this is supposed to be deadly serious after all-- but I can't help it. The dumpster diving part just slays me.

    For what it's worth I don't care what you in particular think or believe so don't sweat it. For all you and I know of each other we're just data points. Everything is information, that's all I'm saying.
    0 0
  49. I read the Lewandowsky paper and it looks pretty typical to me. The conclusions are not surprising. I have not seen on this thread a single link to a scientific paper that contradicts Lewandowsky's result.

    Tom: is you wife an expert on surveys? You do not mention any expertise on her part and I wondered why I should listen to anything she says. What is your expertise that allows you to determine if a survey was properly done or not? Why were you not selected to do the peer review? This paper has passed a review by peers who actually have experience performing surveys of this type. You must support your opinion with peer reviewed data also. Your comments on this thread are below your usual standards. Your complaint about two samples is unsound.

    This is supposed to be a scientific blog. Can people refer to data and not just give their opinions. The paper itself cites many peer reviewed studies. Data is available if you want to become informed.

    Lewandowsky did not get very many skeptic replies. They did not want to participate. Small sample size is often a problem with surveys. Perhaps next time the skeptics will link the survey.
    0 0
  50. Some of Tom's earlier points have a long history of research. For example in analyzing the effect of question format on answer response styles: where they point out in section 3.2 "The issue of whether or not to offer a midpoint has been disputed for decades...". It essentially implies a possible response style bias in the context of Lewandowsky's survey, perhaps only allowing an extreme style of response to qualify.

    There is also a lot of research on the effects of question ordering and question wording on responses particularly when trying to determine causation. For example Lewandowsky could ask a random sampling of people whether they believe in free markets before and after the climate change questions. If the response to the climate question changes based on the whether it is before or after the free market question that would imply (although not prove) causation between free market ideology and rejection climate science.

    Considering the lack of information about the selection of the survey sample, the very short section on development of the questions, and the lack of any references on survey methodologies, I can't make any favorable conclusions about the value of the results. Perhaps more information will become available, or Lewandowsky can answer some of those questions here.
    0 0

1  2  3  4  Next

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or if you're new, register here.

The Consensus Project Website


(free to republish)

© Copyright 2019 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Privacy | Contact Us