A few weeks ago, a bright young man by the name of Stephan Lewandowsky came into the blogospheric eye because of a study which found a correlation between climate denial and the belief in other conspiracy theories.
Now, possibly I have a warm spot in my heart for Dr Lewandowsky, having made much the same point on a number of occasions. But Lewandowsky didn't just spot the relationship, he demonstrated the association scientifically, in a tightly argued paper, now in press.
Climate deniers were upset by this.
The result has been Lewandowsky madness, a psychological disorder characterized by obsessive preoccupation with and demonization of a single, not-yet-published paper, whose crime was to provide evidence of something that anyone who has spent five minutes perusing their comment threads knows: a lot of deniers believe other silly things too.
Low point: Accused Lewandowsky of carrying out a “pogrom” after banning an abusive troll from his blog.
(UPDATE): More Deception in the Lewandowsky Data
Total posts: 15
Low point: Confirms the scientific community’s impression of his chops by referring to Lewandowsky as “Lewdandorky.”
Steven Schneider’s 1992 argument against balance in science reporting
The OTHER problem with the Lewandowsky paper and similar ‘skeptic’ motivation analysis: Core premise off the rails about fossil fuel industry corruption accusation
Total posts: 9
Low point: In “The Five Blogs” Lucia finds out her accusations of fraud and lying are totally unfounded after Lewandowsky gets permission from his university’s ethics committee to release the information that proves he’s tell the truth. Lucia decides he should apologize to her for making her wait.
Total posts: 9
Low point: N/A. Every word out of Jo Nova’s mouth is a new low for her and us.
10 conspiracy theorists makes a moon landing paper for Stephan Lewandowsky (Part II) PLUS all 40 questions
Total Posts: 9
Low point: In a massive failure of self-awareness, BH justifies his obsession: “The Lewandowsky story rumbles on, demonstrating an abilitity [sic] to generate new storylines that I'm sure few of us thought it ever could have.”
A total of
56 57 blog posts about one
not-yet-published social sciences paper. So far, they’ve failed to identify a single serious problem with the study. Lewandowsky himself has a PhD in clinical psychology and a resume chocked full of well-regarded research. Yet Lewandowsky madness rages on.
You might say, well, this isn't "madness," it's what the denialosphere does: they fixate on things. They fixated on the Hockey Stick, they fixated on Hansen's 1988 prediction. But this is very different. The Hockey Stick demonstrated and simultaneously provided an arresting visual image of global warming. Hansen correctly predicted the emergence of the global warming signal. This evidence is relentlessly attacked because it is important.
Lewandowsky's paper, while interesting, and as far as I can tell well done, is not in the same league. If I were a denier -- which, not to be immodest, I would be great at, given my amateur knowledge of science and significant reserves of indignation -- I would address Lewandowsky's paper like this:
But what do I know, eh? I actually believe we landed on the moon."As you may know, there's a paper in publication that finds a correlation between climate skepticism and conspiracist ideation. It will be interesting to see if this holds up, but it does not surprise me. It's obvious by reading the comment threads at WUWT, Climate Audit, and elsewhere, that some of the people who are ready to challenge the IPCC narrative believe some really strange things. But this argument is about ideas and evidence, not people. Sometimes good arguments attract strange people. At the heart of the anti-slavery movement was an extremist religious sect whose members were radically pacifist, refused to swear oaths and shook like seizure victims in the middle of church services."Maybe it's easier for people already mistrustful of society over other issues to accept the fact that, as hard as it may be to believe, a small group of climate scientist and power-hungry government officials have sold us a bill of goods. Be that as it may, it's only a distraction from the discussion we need to have; a serious discussion, like adults, about the other side's best story, not about the fringe, not the endless and pointless argument about whose loons are more loony. This interesting paper should not tempt us into that pointless shouting match."