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Recursive Fury: Facts and misrepresentations

Posted on 21 March 2013 by John Cook, Stephan Lewandowsky

Our paper Recursive fury: conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation has been published. The paper analyzed the public discourse in response to an earlier article by Lewandowsky, Oberauer, and Gignac (LOG12 for short from here on), which has led to some discussion on this blog earlier.

Refreshingly, the journal Frontiers makes all papers available for free with no paywall. Another unique feature of this journal is that readers can post comments directly beneath the abstract. Unfortunately this has led to the posting of a number of misrepresentations of the paper.

In this post, I’ll be addressing some of these misconceptions (but being careful to practise what I preach, will adopt the principles of the Debunking Handbook when I debunk the misconceptions). So here are some key facts about the Recursive Fury paper:

Conspiracy theorists are those who display the characteristics of conspiracy ideation

Yep, just stating the obvious, right? Recursive Fury establishes, from the peer-reviewed literature, the traits of conspiracist ideation, which is the technical term for a cognitive style commonly known as “conspiratorial thinking”. Our paper featured 6 criteria for conspiratorial thinking:

  1. Nefarious Intent: Assuming that the presumed conspirators have nefarious intentions. For example, if person X assumes that blogger Y colluded with the New York Times to publish a paper damaging to X, then X presumes nefarious intent on the part of Y.
  2. Persecuted Victim: Self-identifying as the victim of an organised persecution.
  3. Nihilistic Skepticism: Refusing to believe anything that doesn’t fit into the conspiracy theory. Note that “conspiracy theory” here is a fairly broad term and need not involve a global conspiracy (e.g., that NASA faked the moon landing) but can refer to small-scale events and hypotheses.
  4. Nothing occurs by Accident: Weaving any small random event into the conspiracy narrative.
  5. Something Must be Wrong: Switching liberally between different, even contradictory conspiracy theories that have in common only the presumption that there is something wrong in the official account by the alleged conspirators. Thus, people may simultaneously believe that Princess Diana faked her own death and that she was assassinated by MI5.
  6. Self-Sealing reasoning: Interpreting any evidence against the conspiracy as evidence for the conspiracy. For example, when climate scientists are exonerated of any wrong-doing 9 times over by different investigations, this is reinterpreted to imply that the climate-change conspiracy involves not just the world’s climate scientists but also the investigating bodies and associated governments.

We then went on to identify responses to LOG12 that exhibited these criteria. Our analysis was entirely based on whether or not public statements conformed to the criteria just listed—we made no comment on the merit of any criticism (except in cases where speculations were plain wrong).

A common misrepresentation of Recursive Fury is articulated by one commenter who says “conspiratorial ideation is defined in such a way that any criticism of LOG12, whether true or false, comes under that heading.” Actually, our criteria for conspiracist ideation come from a number of peer-reviewed examinations of conspiratorial thinking and have nothing to do with the substance of any criticism of LOG12. Our objective in Recursive Fury was to demonstrate that some of those criteria arguably applied to the public discourse surrounding LOG12. It does not follow that any criticism of LOG12 involves conspiratorial thinking. Of course not. But if some (not all) critics of a paper on the role of conspiratorial thinking in science denial engage in, well, conspiratorial thinking in response, that’s of scholarly interest.

The criteria for conspiracist ideation are applicable without regard to a statement’s truth or falsity. Recursive Fury is not about defending LOG12. On the contrary, this latest paper puts on the scholarly record many criticisms of LOG12 that had previously been limited to blogs, and it did so without evaluating or rebutting the substance of those criticisms. Some defence!

A few critics have complained that we didn’t include their methodological critiques of LOG12. Such critiques do not fit the conspiracist criteria, which is why they weren’t included. Those critics are welcome to submit rejoinders or comments on LOG12 to the journal in question.

A range of different conspiracy theories are posted in Recursive Fury

Recursive Fury reports and analyzes a number of conspiracy theories regarding LOG12. These range from “global climate activist operation” to “ringleader for conspiratorial activities by the green climate bloggers,” to Stephan Lewandowsky receiving millions of dollars to run The Conversation.

Some folk are able to overlook these many documented instances and insist that “There is no ‘conspiracy’ Mr. Lewandowsky - no matter how many times you try to manufacture one.” Recursive Fury documents a whole spectrum of conspiracy theories. As you get further into the paper, the conspiracy theories become broader and more extreme until you get to my personal favourite – maths professor Kevin Judd being the grand poobah of the “global climate activist operation” at the University of Western Australia. Somehow, those who insist "there are no conspiracies" manage to skip over entire sections of the paper.

It appears that “conspiracy denial” may be another phenomenon associated with climate denial. One blogger cannot see that his claim that climate scientists “colluded with government officials to avoid the law” is conspiratorial. Similarly, another blogger thinks accusing the University of Western Australia of being “a base for this global climate activism operation” is not a conspiratorial hypothesis because he didn’t use the word “conspiracy”.

The Supplementary Material is “raw data”

As well as the Recursive Fury paper, we also published Supplementary Material containing excerpts from blog posts and some comments relevant to the various observed recursive theories. In the paper, we characterise this as “raw data” - all the comments that we encountered that are relevant to the different theories. In contrast, the “processed data” are the excerpted quotes featured in the final paper, where we match the various recursive theories to the conspiracist criteria outlined above.

One misrepresentation of Recursive Fury is that we accuse Professor Richard Betts of the Met Office of being a conspiracy theorist because one of his quotes appears in our raw data. This inclusion of a relevant comment in the raw data of a Supplementary Material document was reported in hyperventilating fashion by one blogger as a spectacular carcrash. However, there is no mention of Professor Betts in our final paper and we are certainly not claiming that he is a conspiracy theorist. To claim otherwise is to ignore what we say about the online supplement in the paper itself. The presence of the comment in the supplementary material just attests to the thoroughness of our daily Google search. 

Nevertheless, I can see how this misunderstanding arose. The Supplementary Material features the heading "Excerpt Espousing Conspiracy Theory" referring to the excerpted quotes that we pasted into the spreadsheet. In hindsight, the heading should have been  "Excerpt relevant to a recursive theory", because the criterion for inclusion was simply whether or not they referred to one of the hypotheses. The analysis of conspiracist ideation occurred after that, and involved the criteria mentioned at the outset.

In this context, it is important to point out that one reason we made the raw data available is for other scholars to be able to cast an alternative interpretative light on the public discourse relating to LOG12. As we note explicitly in the abstract, it is possible that alternative scholarly interpretations can be put forward, and the peer-reviewed literature is the appropriate forum for such analysis.

LOG12 is in press

The original “Moon Landing” paper (referred to as LOG12) is still in press and due to be published soon. The fact that there was a long delay between acceptance and publication is one of the quirks of the peer-review publication process. Sometimes a paper can move from acceptance to publication with surprising speed (as was the case with Recursive Fury). Sometimes it can take months.

However, this random timing has been over-interpreted by many parties, consistent with the “Nothing occurs by Accident” criteria. For example, one commenter argues that “LOG12 was fundemenatlly [sic] flawed from the start, and throughout. It offered no valuable insight or understanding as a result. It is clear to any rational outside observer it had one purpose - to be used to promote the authors advocacy of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming - and to demean and denigrate those who do not believe as he does. The fact this paper has never been published, as Lewandowsky's repeatedly claims, confirms this finding.” It will be interesting to see whether this commenter resists the “Something Must Be Wrong” urge when LOG12 is published or continue to assert that the research is “a fraud”.


Hindsight is always 20:20 but perhaps we should have anticipated the response to LOG12. The results of LOG12 implied that conspiratorial thinking is linked to climate denial, and hence might emerge in turn to defend climate denial against cognitive analysis – and that’s what happened, as we document in Recursive Fury.

Note: this post was cross-posted on Shaping Tomorrow's World.

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 112:

  1. Tom Curtis:

    "The question is, why do you find it so absolutely intolerable that I should give my opinion of events in my own terms?"

    I don't.

    And since you attempt to (incorrectly, as it turns out) indicate my opinion, I'd appreciate if you did so by quoting me.

    They say you're entitled to your own opinions, not your own facts. But I'm generous enough to allow people to have their own facts, too. Like your "fact" whereby the blogs that were contacted last (the science-defending blogs) were contacted first, and the blogs that were contacted first (the misinformation blogs) were contacted last. Sure, you've got historical facts inverted, but I respect your right to believe as you do. Just try not to attribute the inversion to other people (like Geoff), please.

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  2. Tom:

    Geoff Chambers ... didn't want to make AGW "skepticism" look bad. Brad Keyes (@50) insists on reminding us that he is way to (sic) late.

    Tom, you may find this hard to believe but I don't doubt the reality of AGW. My only agenda, or axe to grind if you like, is defending the integrity of science.

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  3. BaerbelW @57, the blogs contacted first by Lewandowsky (and hence described as misinformation sites by Brad) are:


    1. Skeptical Science (posted by tweet only, Aug 27th, 2010)
    2. Climate Asylum (posted Aug 28th, 2010)
    3. Open Mind (posted on Aug 28th, 2010)
    4. Deltoid (posted on Aug 29th, 2010)
    5. Global Warming: Man or Myth? (posted Aug 29th, 2010)
    6. A Few Things Ill Considered (posted Aug 29th, 2010)
    7. Hot Topic (posted Aug 30th, 2010)
    8. Climate Change Task Force (posted as an addendum to a July 17th post, presumably in late August, 2010)

    (The dates are the times the surveys were posted.)

    The blogs contacted second, and hence defined by Brad as "science defending" are:

    1. Steve McIntyre Climate Audit
    2. Dr Roger Pielke Jr (he replied to the initial contact)
    3. Mr Marc Morano (of Climatedepot; he replied to the initial contact)
    4. Dr Roy Spencer (no reply)
    5. Mr Robert Ferguson (of the Science and Public Policy Institute, no reply)

    He has also specified that WUWT, Jonova and Biship Hill as "good examples of pro-science sites".  The list speaks for itself and demolishes any claim he makes to be "defending science" or to accept AGW.

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  4. Brad Keyes - thanks for clarifying what I thought was the case: your definitions are diametrically opposed to mine (and, just in case you are not aware of this, I'm part of the SkS-team, so this shouldn't really come as a big surprise).

    Your definition also explains why your repeatedly stated sequence of events (one example here) of which blog(type) was contacted when is a red-herring. There is no discrepancy in the actual events, you just turn them on their heads by arbitrarily re-defining which blogs fall into which category compared to the paper's authors.

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  5. Tom:

    The blogs contacted second, and hence defined by Brad as "science defending" are:

    No, I define them as "science defending" because they defend science, not because they were contacted second.

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  6. My only agenda, or axe to grind if you like, is defending the integrity of science.

    There's arguably considerable evidence to the contrary on the special Deltoid thread that Brad Keyes is confined to posting on. I recommend to those considering engaging with Brad Keyes invest in a quick perusal to see what they're dealing with in terms of both content and discussion tactics. You probably won't get through all 4000+ (and counting) comments, but the first few hundred should give you a pretty good idea.

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  7. BaerbelW:

    your definitions are diametrically opposed to mine (and, just in case you are not aware of this, I'm part of the SkS-team, so this shouldn't really come as a big surprise).

    No, I had no idea.

    Firstly, thanks for mucking down and addressing me commenter-to-commenter, (-snip-).

    Secondly, given the 100% risk of definitional disputes, which sidetrack all subsequent dialogue, as we've just experienced, perhaps it would be better to designate the two sides in the traditional manner, i.e. according to their respective views, rather than by the question-begging premise that one side, and not the other, agrees with science. Calling your side pro-science and mine pseudoscientific, "skeptical" or science-denying is loaded language, to put it very mildly.

    I'm sure you were annoyed when I reversed the bias. I trust I made my point.


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    Moderator Response: [DB] Inflammatory tone and off-topic snipped.
  8. Thanks for the plug, Lotharsson!

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  9. It's not a trivial task to apply nomenclature that both parties find appropriate. I'd tender 'mainstream' and 'heterodox' where the climate change heterodoxy holds that Charney sensitivity is most likely to be below 2C.

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  10. Tom Curtis I can’t answer you in detail for reasons I can’t explain. It’s about belief being interesting.

    As you say, LCOM13 contained errors. More than 3; more like 30. It was wrong. Three or four people getting together in private in order to do something wrong is a conspiracy.

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  11. Tom Curtis at 19:26 PM on 24 March, 2013

    So invitations to participate in LOG12 weren’t published at SkepticalScience, and the information provided by John Cook was incorrect. Will he be issuing an apology?

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  12. It's just amazing to see the conspiracy ideation grow and thrive, even here, where the point is to try to recognize the conspiracy ideation and to get people to try to be more rational.

    John Cook should apologize!

    LCOM13 had errors!

    Barry was misrepresented!

    Brad has scored points!

    The whole thing is comical, and sad.

    Of course, at least part of the core of the real problem, as best evidenced by Brad's comments, is that the conspiracy crowd has created their own little tribe.  They've created a community that defines the argument not in the context of the issues, facts, etc. (which is how science works), but instead in terms of sides, villains, and those-who-are-out-to-get-them.

    That to me is the real distinction.  In some corners of the Internet people really do discuss the science, but those tend to be rational, clear-thinking people, and it doesn't take long before everyone reaches a consensus based entirely on the evidence -- which is pretty hard to distort or refute.

    But then you get into the conspiracy theorist corners, and everything goes off the rails.  Suddenly it's not discussing the science, it's a debate, with two sides trying to win, and one of those sides is evil and uses dirty tactics and is just in it to make money, etc., etc.  And the other side is full of noble, clear-thinking folk who are just trying to do the right thing, to stop those villainous cads, and to give truth, justice and the scientific way an ultimate victory over the weasley cabal of anti-scientists that have somehow taken over the entire world of climate science.

    Brad and Geoff and Barry can throw the word "science" around all they want, but in the end, no matter how much they say it, it's not about the science, it's about the sides -- and the only reason there are sides is because they've redefined the discussion as such.  And once they have their sides, everything revolves around fighting a war instead of understanding the universe.

    I'm a little surprised that Josh hasn't designed a battle flag for them all to use.

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  13. Tristan—'mainstream' versus 'heterodox' is unfortunately a consensus-dependent, and thus volatile, nomenclature.

    What's wrong with the normal system in use everywhere else, in which credal groups are named for their views?

    E.g. '[C[A[GW]]]' 'believers' versus 'deniers.' Or 'climate activists' versus 'climate inactivists.' 

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  14. No joke, Sph.  What I find bizarre is that, apparently, for GC et al., the only studies worth giving critical attention are those that have rhetorical value where the general public is concerned -- Mann, Marcott, Lewandowsky, Shakun -- anything that gives the public a simple and powerful takeaway.  Would that this intense scrutiny--this intense <i>skepticism</i>--be applied to the likes of Eschenbach, Spencer, Tisdale, etc., . . .

    I'm not saying it's evidence of conspiraphilia.  It's just selective skepticism, an oxymoron (or carbon di-oxymoron, as the case may be).


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  15. Brad,

    The problem is that there are no two sides to some faux debate.  There are facts and discussions worth having among reasonable, educated people.

    And then there is a self-identified community, entirely tangent to reality, who are focused on fabricating this bizarre, elaborate controversy.  They must be heard!  They are important!  This is a crisis!  They alone are right, and people must be made aware!

    The whole concept of sides in this is warped.

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  16. Sphaerica, sorry, we cross-posted. I substantially agree with your latest comment:

    The whole concept of sides in this is warped.

    (Now that it's clearer what your position is, I take back my "speak for yourself" remark.)

    Yes, it's unfortunate that a scientific controversy should play out along partisan lines. Nevertheless, it's possible (and appropriate) to acknowledge that it has done so, without necessarily condoning it.

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  17. "Yes, it's unfortunate that a scientific controversy should play out along partisan lines."


    What scientific controversy?

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  18. Brad,

    I'm not going to engage you, because this is silly.  John Cook's paper says it all, and I have no intention of spending my time arguing about "sides" that have been entirely fabricated by a small community of "victims" who have identified themselves as separate and special.

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  19. dhogaza:"What scientific controversy?"This is a climate-change website. The scientific controversy has to do with how the global average temperature has responded and will respond to industrial carbon-dioxide emissions, and whether the effects will be net-beneficial or net-detrimental, and whether we need to do anything to moderate them.
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  20. Sphaerica, you refer to

    a small community of "victims" who have identified themselves as separate and special

    It sounds like you're skeptical (as it were!) of their claims that they were targeted by an organised email campaign of death threats and had to relocate to higher-security facilities. I share your cynicism. Their victimhood was... convenient. :-)

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  21. Brad,

    He didn't ask "what controversy?"

    He asked "what scientific controversy."

    The fact that you'd like to argue doesn't make the argument worth having.

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  22. Brad,

    You can't see the irony?  Really?

    2 0
  23. Sphaerica,

    You can't see the irony? Really?

    Er, if we could both see it it wouldn't be ironic, would it?

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  24. @John Cook:

    Do you now have enough raw material from this comment thread for another paper in your series?

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  25. Geoff Chambers @61, that again?  Obsess much, do we?

    OK, John Cook tweeted the survey for LOG12 rather than posting it on SkS proper.  He then advised Lewnadowsky that the survey had been posted, and a year later when you questioned him, remembered only that it had been posted, and not that the post had only been by tweet.  Indeed, he's a busy person so posting on SkS proper may have slipped from his mental "to-do" list to his mental "done" list almost immediately.

    What follows?

    Is LOG12 distorted by an under representation of acceptors of the IPCC concensus as a result?  Does it make any substantive difference to the paper?

    The answer clearly is no to both.  The "error" in the paper is properly corrected prior to publication by a footnote saying that the SkS notice was tweeted rather than blogged; and is of so minor consequence it requires no erratum after publication.

    Only those determined to find every fault and blow them up without regard to any sense of proportion would care, let alone care and be pursuing the issue a year later. That you are doing so tells us nothing about the quality of LOG12, but shows that as a reviewer of LOG12 you are obsessive and biased.  That you are a conspiracy theorist suggests why.  The thesis of LOG12, ie, that people prone to conspiracist thinking are also more prone to anthropogenic global warming denial than are the rest of the population, strikes a little too close to home for your comfort. 

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  26. Geoff Chambers @60:

    "I can’t answer you in detail for reasons I can’t explain"

    In that case the evidence from your WUWT will have to stand.  And on that evidence you believe strongly at least three of the LOG12 survey conspiracies, including at least one involving assassinations. 

    "LCOM13 contained errors. More than 3; more like 30. It was wrong."

    No where near 30.  More like three, or possibly 4 substantive errors which at least one of the authors wants corrected prior to the paper being in print; and no error invalidating the primary thesis.

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  27. Brad Keys @69

    You have missed dghoza's point completely.

    There is no controversy, because:

    1 - climate change is well established by science and evidence. Thrre is no controversy about it at all, except in the minds of those who deny science.

    2 - there is no controversy about the well established fact that many climate change deniers are also conspiracy theorists.  Anyone who has spent any time at all on climate change blogs knows that - from beliefs like scientiists are faking the science to obtain grant money, to its all a conspiracy to impose a socialist world government.  I have seen them all, time and time again.  Now there is supposed to be a conspiracy by Lewandowsky and Cook to discredit climate change 'sceptics' by equating them with conspiracy theorists.  My irony meter explodes every time I read threads like this. It is one of the most entertaining and hilarious things I get to read each day.

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  28. Tom Curtis

    I’ve added a couple more errors at Frontiers, including the one which you admitted here. (-snip-).

    The point is, when you accuse named people of “counterfactual thinking” in a scientific paper, you need to be whiter than the whitest sepulchre. And when you insist on the fact that the authors of the content analysis have been chosen for their lack of bias; and (-snip-).

    On me and conspiracy theories:

    I tend to find it credible that the fascist Timothy McVeigh had assistance from his fascist friends; that the communist / CIA agent Lee Harvey Oswald had assistance from his friends of one kind or another, and so on. I would regard those who deny such possibilities as “conformist”.

    It’s odd, don’t you think, that those like Lewandowsky who treat the questioning of the official version of events as psychologically deviant, consider themselves as radical? I have no difficulty in imagining that the CIA (and possibly Texan Oil interests) conspired in the murder of Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Therefore I am a Big Oil funded conservative. Go figure.

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Moderation complaints and Inflammatory snipped.

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

    Moderating this site is a tiresome chore, particularly when commentators repeatedly submit offensive or off-topic posts. We really appreciate people's cooperation in abiding by the Comments Policy, which is largely responsible for the quality of this site.

    Finally, please understand that moderation policies are not open for discussion. If you find yourself incapable of abiding by these common set of rules that everyone else observes, then a change of venues is in the offing.

    Please take the time to review the Comments Policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it.

  29. @geoffchambers:

    Out of curiosity, what is your position on Agenda 21?

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  30. Out of curiosity, how many readers of this thread have used the word, "recursive" in casual conversation during the past twelve months or so?

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  31. JH: many readers of this thread have used the word, "recursive" in casual conversation during the past twelve months or so?

    Raises hand. 

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  32. Out of curiosity, how many readers of this thread have used the word, "recursive" in casual conversation during the past twelve months or so?


    When discussing implementation strategies for an algorithm?  Not exactly casual, but it has been done...

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  33. RE: John @ 80....

    As opposed to how many people have used the term "fury" over the same period.  :-)

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  34. I'm so glad that Tom Curtis explained that Brad Keyes imagines sites like Skeptical Science, Real Climate, and Open Mind are anti-science, whereas SPPI, Morano, Bishop Hill et. al. are 'science defending'. His perception of reality is completely flipped. I thought I was going crazy there for a while the other day reading the comments here, but now I understand why Brad has a thread all to himself on Deltoid. One word: containment.

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  35. It all seems to me that denial of having symptoms of conspiracist ideation is on the rise. When plotted as a time dependant function it looks just like the dreaded 'hockey stick' so often derided by deniers of AGW. There is a positive feedback in all this denial of having conspiracist ideation. Even when redefining your posts as being on the side of science or defending real science it is adding to these symptoms. Bert

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  36. Geoffchambers @78

    "...I tend to find it credible that the fascist Timothy McVeigh had assistance from his fascist friends; that the communist / CIA agent Lee Harvey Oswald had assistance from his friends of one kind or another......I have no difficulty in imagining that the CIA (and possibly Texan Oil interests) conspired in the murder of Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Therefore I am a Big Oil funded conservative...."

    No Geoff. Those things do not make you a conservative - they make you a conspiracy theorist.

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  37. Geoff Chambers @78:

    1)  Each recursive theory which shows "unreflexive counterfactual thinking" shows counterfactual thinking in that they could only be valid criticisms of LOG12 if at least one of the "skeptic" blogs had posted the survey.  As none of them did, the theories in question presupose counterfactual conditions for relevance.

    This is most obvious in theory 5:

    "Di fferent versions of the survey (5). Because question order was counterbalanced between di fferent versions of the LOG12 survey, links to the various versions were quasi-randomly assigned to participating blogs. The existence of di fferent versions of the survey gave rise to several hypotheses, for example that ". . . the most troubling new revelation appears to be that some climate skeptic blogs got di fferent questionaires [sic] than their counterpart AGW advocate blogs. . . . this negates the study on the basis of inconsistent sampling".  This hypothesis rests on counterfactual thinking: Even if survey versions had di ffered on some variable other than question order, given that none of the "skeptic" blogs posted the link and hence did not contribute responses, any claim regarding the published data based on those di fferences among versions rests on a counterfactual state of the world. Arguably, this hypothesis also rests on the presumption of nefarious intent and the belief that something must be wrong (NI, MbW )."

    (My emphasis)

    Clearly the quoted claim that the different question order "negates the study" is counterfactual in that, as the "skeptic" blogs never published the survey, the different question order for "skeptic" blog versions of the survey had no impact on the data collected.  Ergo it has no impact on the published paper.

    This is explained in LCOM13 each time the claim is made.  It is even explained that the claim that "skeptic" blogs were contacted later "... never matured to the point of clarifying how this delay could have had any bearing on the outcome of the study ...", but it is included as counterfactual in that any criticism of the database and hence paper based on the delayed contact must necessarilly be counterfactual.   

    Your inability to understand the explanation represents neither a flaw in the paper, nor a slander of any person (named or otherwise).

    2)  The fact that John Cook notified people of the survey on the SkS twitter feed rather than on the blog site itself is not an error in LCOM13 as LCOM13 does not make any claim to the contrary.  Rather, they quote a claim in LOG12, which does make that claim.  That is entirely appropriate because the actual event is not germaine to LCOM13, whereas the reported event against which the various hypotheses where directed was.

    3)  I am disinclined to say anybody is without bias, myself included.  More importantly, so were LCOM13, who only indicated that the two authors of LCOM13 who were also authors of LOG12 had a particular cause of bias, and that as a control for that, they were excluded from the data collection.

    Consequently, your claim that LCOM13 "... insist on the fact that the authors of the content analysis have been chosen for their lack of bias", is pure bunk and a straightforward misprepresentation of the claims in LCOM13.  Where I as hypercritical as you are, I would no doubt charge you with lying here.  Instead, I suspect you are simply so upset by the paper that you have not bothered to read carefully what it actually says.

    Again, your inability to read and comprehend what was written in LCOM13 is not a valid criticism of LCOM13

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  38. Geoff Chambers @78 (conspiracy theory).

    Well, I'm glad we have that sorted.  I cannot help noting, however, that your "I tend to find it credible" is considerably weaker than your WUWT statement that "I strongly agree".  It is also a far cry from considering it credible that CIA agents may be tempted to perform illegal acts, and considering simply part of their job (as indicated at WUWT).

    For the record, I have no opinion on Timothy McVeigh because I lack relevant information (and have never tried to find it).  I consider a plot to kill Kennedy or Martin Luther King Jnr implausible, and that while there is some suggestive evidence in the first case (I have not examined the second), it is insufficient to overcome the inherent implausibility of the theory and there is counter evidence.  So, my response is to refuse to answer the McVeigh question as any answer would mispresent my opinion; to weakly disagree on the Kennedy assassination, and to strongly disagree on the Martin Luther King assassination.  I strongly disagree with all other CY theories on the survey.

    All three scenarios are sufficiently plausible that they could be true (absent all evidence); but not sufficiently plausible that you would accept them in the absence of strong evidence.

    The question though, is not whether they are true or not.  In LOG12, the survey tests for the likelihood of accepting a conspiracy theory.  Somebody who accepts only one theory is still a conspiracy theorist but is not particularly prone to accepting them.  Somebody who accepts three, particularly somebody who strongly agrees with three...  Well, it seems to me they are setting a very low bar for acceptance for conspiracy theories.  They are reasonably classified as prone to conspiracist ideation.

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  39. Tom Curtis

    Please stop analysing my answers. I gave Timothey Mcveigh etc as examples of things I might say in an online survey. Or not. Since I see what you’re getting at, I’ve decided that I no longer believe that Prince Philip killed Lady Di. So there.

    See what I mean? Ask someone face to face who they’ll vote for and they’ll likely give you an honest answer. Ask questions on-line about subjects hardly anyone knows about , with no possibility of saying you don’t know and anything can happen. Or nothing.

    I know nothing about McVeigh, so the only honest answer would be “don’t know”. But this wasn’t permitted in the survey, and so I would have been tempted to go for ”strong belief” one way or the other. I believe strongly in people having strong opinions. I don’t believe in on-line surveys, (-snip-).

    By the way, the age range was from 10 to 95, according to the paper. Another reason for naming LOG12 as Unusual Survey of the Year.

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    Moderator Response: [DB] Inflammatory snipped.
  40. Geoff Chambers @89, if I understand you correctly, you have asked me to not analyze what you say because you feel free to express opinions you do not believe online.  Is that correct?

    If so, there is indeed no point in analyzing, or responding to any thing you write; for there is no reason to suppose you willingness to express opinions you do not hold is limited on any point.

    It also raises an interesting point for the moderators.  What exactly is the comment policy on people who accuse themselves of dishonesty?

    Regardless, given your now stated policy on being truthful in expressing your opinions online, I feel that I have no choice but to regard you as a troll in future.

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  41. Brad @52:

    "Tom, you may find this hard to believe but I don't doubt the reality of AGW. My only agenda, or axe to grind if you like, is defending the integrity of science.Tom, you may find this hard to believe but I don't doubt the reality of AGW. My only agenda, or axe to grind if you like, is defending the integrity of science."

    So in what way; which parts of 'science' need defending? From what?

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  42. mandas,

    there is no controversy about the well established fact that many climate change deniers are also conspiracy theorists.


    Climate change deniers do not exist.

    Climate change denial does not exist.

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  43. Glenn,

    So in what way; which parts of 'science' need defending? From what?

    From scientists who've found a balance between being honest and being effective.

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    Moderator Response: [JH] I am tempted to delete this comment for being "off topic", but will let it stand because it is so obtuse. I encourage Glenn and others not to respond under the "Do not feed the trolls" doctrine that we all should subscribe to.
  44. @Brad Keyes & Tom Curtis:

    Your recent exchange of comments about "Schneider's ethics" has been deleted because it was "off topic."  Please keep in mind that this comment thread (or the comment thread to any SkS article for that matter) is not a public chat-room.  Please stay on topic, or refrain from posting comments.  

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  45. Sorry JH, but I'm going to bit, quick'n dirty:

    The question: "So in what way; which parts of 'science' need defending? From what?"

    ~ ~ ~

    Science needs defending from people who misrepresent it.

    Science needs defending from people who believe it is OK to quote mind and cherry pick in order to defend a preconceived notion.

    Science needs defending from people who mangle the intellectual playing field and ignore the fact that no Earth Science study is ever perfect and the job of scientists is to separate the grain from the chaff.

    Science needs defending from people who forget that scientists learn from their mistakes, acknowledge doubts and flaws, and move forward in a nonstop effort to distill the best provisional consensus possible from the evidence that's available, as the pursuit of further understanding continues.

    Science needs defending from people who refuse to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes.

    Science needs defending from people who believe their political causes allow them commit intellectual atrocity after intellectual atrocity.

    Science needs defending from people who resort to paranoid and vicious personal attacks rather than focus on LEARNING !

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  46. citizenschallenge:

    Science needs defending from people who misrepresent it.

    Well said.

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  47. citizenschallenge,

    Shorter answer: Science needs defending from people who declare that science needs defending as an excuse to tear down actual science, because they don't like what the science is telling them.

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  48. (-snip-)

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Note to all participants: The posting rights of Mr. Keyes have been deemed forfeit due to dishonesty on the part of Mr. Keyes, earlier:

    Brad Keyes at 22:12 PM on 25 March 2013

    So in what way; which parts of 'science' need defending? From what?

    From scientists who've found "a balance between being honest and being effective."

    In a nutshell.

    Mr. Keyes then offered up this delineation of his first comment noted above with this:

    Brad Keyes at 22:49 PM on 25 March 2013

    DSL—I was alluding to Stephen Schneider's ethics.

    BBD performs a masterful, morally righteous takedown on it here.

    Mr. Keyes then confirmed his intellectual dishonesty on this thread with this statement:

    Brad Keyes at 00:11 AM on 26 March 2013


    I repeat: where have I referred to Schneider or his ethics?

    You're the only person on this thread who's talking about Schneider. Why? What's the relevance?

    There can be no place in this forum for those who abuse the presumption of inherent honest and integrity. Especially for those who torture the truth, stretching and distorting it beyond all recognition.

  49. Sphaerica at 02:01 AM on 26 March, 2013

    Shorter answer: Science needs defending from people who declare that science needs defending as an excuse to tear down actual science, because they don't like what the science is telling them.


    Well said.  I tip my hat to you sir.

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  50. Late to the party, as usual.


    I see that Brad Keyes has been quoting me, albeit now snipped. As I have explained to BK elsewhere, I was completely wrong in what I said and admit it freely. I have put some effort into un-fooling myself since. It would have been very easy to change my screen name when I changed my views, but I chose not to. This is periodically embarrassing, but I prefer to acknowledge my errors and post only under one screen name.

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