Lewandowsky et al. 2012 MOTIVATED REJECTION OF SCIENCE – Part 1

The paper Lewandowsky, Oberauer & Gignac – NASA faked the moon landing|Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science (in press, Psychological Science) is one of the most biased and pernicious surveys I have come across. This posting is about the opening remarks.

The paper starts by accepting the validity of science is from beliefs of scientists.

More than 90% of climate scientists agree that the global climate is changing largely due to human CO2 emissions (Anderegg, Prall, Harold, & Schneider, 2010; Doran & Zimmerman, 2009)

The first paper simply says that of the climate scientists who are convinced of climate change arguments as far more numerous and publish far more than scientists that are unconvinced. The most positive spin you can put on this is that those who believe in and are passionate about what they are doing tend to succeed more than those who don’t. You would probably find similar proportions of belief within New Testament theology or Marxian economics. It says nothing about the truth and the validity of the main claim – unless we act quickly to reduce global carbon emissions, the planet is heading for catastrophic global warming.

The second paper asked two questions:-

1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

It is only the second question that mentions the human element. In maths “largely” (i.e. > 50%) is a subset of “significant” (a measurable part). Neither is CO2 the only human factor causing climate change (Methane plus other gases increase the greenhouse effect, aerosols offset the warming). Further, the Doran and Zimmerman paper is (to put it charitably) is a hugely flawed survey. Reference to it in another “peer reviewed” survey shows does not bode well for the quality of the results.

Analysis of the Survey Questions here and actual questions here


  1. Well, to be fair McAleer isn’t a “skeptical journalist”.He’s a gadren-variety Skepticism and denialism are not the same thing.”But what am I supposed to do the next time I wake up and someone whose name I don’t know has produced another plausible-seeming account of bias in the climate-change science? Am I supposed to invest another couple of hours in it? Do I have to waste the time of the readers of this blog with yet another long post on the subject? Why? Why do these people keep bugging us like this? Does the spirit of scientific scepticism really require that I remain forever open-minded to denialist humbug until it’s shown to be wrong? At what point am I allowed to simply say, look, I’ve seen these kind of claims before, they always turns out to be wrong, and it’s not worth my time to look into it?Well, here’s my solution to this problem: this is why we have peer review. Average guys with websites can do a lot of amazing things. One thing they cannot do is reveal statistical manipulation in climate-change studies that require a PhD in a related field to understand. So for the time being, my response to any and all further “smoking gun” claims begins with: show me the peer-reviewed journal article demonstrating the error here. Otherwise, you’re a crank and this is not a story.”(Known hotbed of Communist sympathies)If somebody was actually interested in checking out a science source on scientist’s stolen e-mails “controversy” then you could always read…(A vital cog in the conspiracy.)Or, at a pinch, (Don’t be fooled by the title! Oh no.)Or just check out the latest “Crock of the Week” video by Sinclair.He has this really sneaky way of addressing the issue.He actually…reads…the emails.(gasp!) Key question from the video: Are climate deniers really that stupid? and…

  2. manicbeancounter

     /  19/09/2012

    Thanks, as always, for editing.

    Ad hominem attacks were already part of climate science. Lewandowsky is spreading this to psychology as well.

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