Lewandowsky et al 2012 – Data Analysis part 1

Katabasis offered in the comments at Jo Nova’s blog to provide the raw data for the paper

“NASA faked the moon landing  — Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax:

An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science”

  Lewandowsky, S., Oberauer, K., & Gignac, C. E. (in press) Psychological Science

I took Katabasis up on the offer. Here are some preliminary results.

Please see DR_UK’s comment below

The CONSENSCO2 question was

Out of 100 climate scientists how many do you think believe that human CO2 emissions cause climate change?

In other words is it a questions about what you believe about what others believe. The comparison should be with the results of the four questions on the respondent’s own beliefs in Climate Science to be found on Page 27 of the paper. The results I hope to post up later today. The sample skew is the similar. 75% of the respondents have strong beliefs in climate science, 14% have weak beliefs and just 11% – 125 respondents – reject the science. I will post later on the revised tables. 

Q. Was the sample size sufficient?

Lewandowsky et al 2012 say

We report a survey (N > 1100) of climate blog users to identify the variables underlying acceptance and rejection of climate science.

However they do not state the proportion of respondents on which they based the results – that is those who reject the science. The data summarizes the climate results as “Consensus C02” on a scale of 0 to 100. That is 0 is complete rejection through to 100 as complete acceptance. The CONSENSCO2 question was

Out of 100 climate scientists how many do you think believe that human CO2 emissions cause climate change?

I divided the results into 5 bands to see the skew.

Fully 86% of responses largely accept the C02 consensus respondents believe that the vast majority of climate scientists believe that human CO2 emissions  and just 3% (32) strongly reject it. believe that a the vast majority are concealing the truth or lying.

This is not surprising, as the survey was only published on militant alarmist blogs such as SKEPTICALSCIENCE, TAMINO and DELTOID. Jo Nova has so far contacted 24 “skeptic” blogs, not one of whom says they received a request to publish the link to the survey.

Some of the raw results

Some quick pivot tables against the results.

Moon Landings

Comment: “Alarmists” are just as much conspiracy theorists as “Skeptics”

JFK Assassination

Comment: Not much difference here either between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics”

Martin Luther King Assassination

Comment: Not much difference here either between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics”

Diana “Assassination”

Comment: A slight much difference here between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics” – by 5 or 6 skeptic responses.

9/11 Conspiracies

Comment: Not much difference here either between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics”

Pearl Harbour Conspiracies

Comment: Not much difference here either between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics”

SARS Conspiracies

Comment: Not much difference here either between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics”

Preliminary Conclusion

Readers the climate alarmist blogs are full of weird conspiracy theories. Where people that frequent these blogs rate themselves on acceptance of the CO2 Consensus makes little difference to this conclusion. Given that these blogs exist to discourage any views but their own, it is not surprising that their readership:-

  1. Share a similar, unbalanced, way of evaluating evidence to the blogs authors.
  2. Are predominantly in agreement with the views promoted.

The Bias of Climatology – Pulling Recent Strands Together

David Evans has provided a succinct explanation of why climate scientists’ theories, ignore some fundamental data. The views that feedbacks amplify the effects of CO2 (see Evans’s diagram below) is due to a highly selective reading of the data in a number of different ways.

Now we need to pull the recent strands together.

On actual temperature history we are getting evermore examples of data manipulation, whether on US temperatures (A Watts), Australian Temperatures (See Jo Nova), or the GISSTEMP global surface temperatures (Steven Goddard).

On past temperature history, we have the famous hockey stick graphs, starting with Mann et al in 1998 and culminating in the recent Gergis et al Australasian temperature reconstruction. All need a combination of one, or a few, very poor data sets that are promoted to prominence by statistical techniques unique to climatologists, and ignoring better quality data sets.

Something else needs to be added to the mix to obtain the high role for feedbacks – climate modelling. If recent temperature trends are exaggerated AND past temperature fluctuations smoothed out, then running a model that tries to look at relative influence of natural and anthropogenic factors on temperature will massively over-estimate the anthropogenic over the natural influences.

But go the other way. Look at the more accurate satellite data for recent temperatures and the temperature rises do not track the CO2 rises nearly so well. Go back to the raw data from the thermometers (adjusting properly for UHI), along with homogenization techniques developed by professional statisticians and the C20th warming deflates.

Then take the widest range of proxy records over a long period (even leave in the lowest quality ones) and suddenly the picture looks very different.

Then look at the role of feedbacks from a number of different perspectives, like Sherwood Idso, (possibly further corroborated by Esper et al 2012) and the real picture becomes clearer. Global average temperatures have increased in the last 200 years. Not quite as much in recent years as the temperature records maintain, but are now significantly higher than in during the 17th century. Furthermore, there is circumstantial evidence that a part of this increase (even up to 0.4 Celsius if non-C02 GHGs are included) has been due to the human greenhouse gas emissions. But this is a curiosity for a few academics to ponder, whilst the thrust of the research effort is put into improving the accuracy and integrity of the data.

Defence of the Consensus

The response of mainstream climatology (and with it a vast array of hangers-on) is not to improve the standards and moderate their wilder comments. Instead it has been to shut down debate by attacking the opponents. Australia has the unfortunate achievement to be home to two of the vilest the proponents of this assault on dissent. Prof Stephan Lewandowsky’s latest instalment is publishing a survey which associates climate skeptics with the worst of the conspiracy theorists. John Cook, a climatologist, ignores expert etymologists to justify calling his site skepticalscience.com

Climatology does not rank as a true science, as it has long since abandoned the search for challenging questions and improvements in quality of answers. Rather than explain the anomalies and meet the challenge of alternative explanations, climatology protects itself by employing intellectual bully-boys.

BBC Newsround is misleading our children on climate change impacts

For nearly 40 years the BBC has shown “Newsround” a children’s version of the news. This morning I caught a glimpse of a report on Rio+20 at around 7.40am, with examples from the Isle of Man. In the main bulletin at 5.30pm a much fuller report was given. This later report was again from the Isle of Man, but with a very different slant. (UK based people view here) I have made two separate complaints:-

Complaint about the 7.40am report

Newsround reported on the Rio+20 meetings – aimed at getting agreements to combat global warming. Then switched to the Isle of Man. Mentioned about pollution, coastal erosion and oil running out. Then has a High School Girl show us the impact of recent coastal erosion. This gave the following misleading impressions.

1. Pollution is solely about global warming. It is not.

2. Man-made climate change caused the erosion. If it did (through contributing to a sea-level rise of less than 30cm in the last century) it was a very minor effect. Coastal erosion, with beach build-up elsewhere is a natural feature.

3. If one believes that CO2 is causing adverse climate change then oil running out is a positive thing. It should mention that Rio+20 is looking to find ways to encourage us to leave the stuff in the ground.

Complaint about the 5.30pm report

1. Local coal supplies were running out, which an elderly lady was finding more expensive. Missed out that this was (a) a local problem (b) coal is the worst of the fossil fuels for causing climate change (c) there are abundant global supplies (d) so Rio+20 is looking encouraging making it more expensive to leave the stuff in the ground.

2. A schoolgirl pointing to cliff erosion, the implication that this was caused by climate change. It was not pointed out that in the last 20 years sea levels have risen by just 0.06 metres, so the 20 metres of retreat of a soft cliff will be approximately 100% due to natural coastal erosion.

3. A schoolboy saying he can no longer kayak in the sea due to raw sewage being pumped into the sea. This is a local problem. In most areas of Europe this is reducing by national government action.


Newsround shows quite contradictory messages through editing. It creates the impression that only global governance can solve what are local problems; creates the misleading view that nasty humans are the cause of all the environmental issues; and fails to point out that the “solutions” to climate change involve making fossil fuels more expensive. That means old ladies who continue to use coal getting poorer; children being increasingly denied holidays in warmer countries; and parents spending less time with their children due to having to spend longer travelling by public transport, as car travel becomes too expensive.

Australian Climate Science Opinion Survey – Confirming Prejudices?*

This survey I took in June is not the one used in the recent Lewandowsky et al paper. The one I took at “Watching the Deniers” is a development that 2010 survey. There are less questions on conspiracy theories (but “NASA faked the moon landing”, along with Diana, JFK and MLK assassinations are are still in) along with exactly the same questions on Free markets v Environmentalism. But the new survey has more on political beliefs (a good thing in my view) along with new sections on religious beliefs and GM foods. It seems to be directed beyond the free-marketeers, to other groups like the American Religious Right.

The Psychology Department of the University of Western Australia, under psychology research assistant Charles Hanich is conducting a short questionnaire on Science and Society.

UPDATE – The survey questions are available here.


This study explores people’s beliefs about a wide range of topics, ranging from scientific propositions to claims made in the media and on the internet. In addition, the survey is interested in your attitudes towards your own life and issues confronting modern societies at the moment.

The questions all have five options – Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree and Strongly Agree.

The questions are from both perspectives, so that people who are anything but totally neutral will have to agree with some questions and disagree with others.

The sections as follows (My headings)

  1. Climate Change – 5 questions
  2. Genetically Modified Foods – 5 questions
  3. Vaccines – Benefits and harms – 5 questions
  4. Position of the Conservative / Liberal perspective (US definitions) – 7 questions
  5. Select neutral (check of the software, or check for spam?) – 1 questions
  6. Free market system v social justice / environment / sustainability – 5 questions
  7. Conspiracy theories (political) – 6 questions
  8. Conspiracy theories (scientific) – 6 questions
  9. Personal Spirituality & Religion – 8 questions
  10. Evolution – views upon – 7 questions
  11. Corporations – 13 questions
  12. Personal emotional outlook – 6 questions

That is 74 questions in total. Like a lot of surveys, it understates the questions (“about 40”) and the time taken.

Climate Change Questions

  1. I believe that the climate is always changing and what we are currently observing is just natural fluctuation.
  2. I believe that most of the warming over the last 50 years is due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.
  3. I believe that the burning of fossil fuels over the last 50 years has caused serious damage to the planet’s climate.
  4. Human CO2 emissions cause climate change.
  5. Humans are too insignificant to have an appreciable impact on global temperature.

There is a complete absence of questions about future projections of warming; whether that warming is catastrophic or benign; of the strength of the science or the uncertainties; our trust in what scientists are telling us; nor of the ability of policy to do anything successfully combat it. These are the questions that many sceptics, including myself, are grappling with.

Genetically Modified Foods

  1. I believe that genetic modification is an important and viable contribution to help feed the world’s rapidly growing population.
  2. I believe genetically engineered foods have already damaged the environment.
  3. The consequences of genetic modification have been tested exhaustively in the lab, and only foods that have been found safe will be made available to the public.
  4. I believe that because there are so many unknowns, that it is dangerous to manipulate the natural genetic material of foods.
  5. Genetic modification of foods is a safe and reliable technology.

In contrast these are questions do look at the benefits and costs of the science; the current impacts and future impacts; along with the strength of the science and the uncertainties.

NB the vaccines section follows more on the model of GM foods section rather than climate change.

The political spectrum questions I will leave for others to comment upon. It seems to be written by an American-influenced “liberal” who lacks knowledge of the full spectrum of political thought.

Free Markets v social justice / environment / sustainability

  1. An economic system based on free markets unrestrained by government interference automatically works best to meet human needs.
  2. The free market system may be efficient for resource allocation but it is limited in its capacity to promote social justice.
  3. The preservation of the free market system is more important than localized environmental concerns.
  4. Free and unregulated markets pose important threats to sustainable development.
  5. The free market system is likely to promote unsustainable consumption.

It is based on a notion of free-market anarchy against on the beneficial utopian society. No mention of awkward facts, like the worst environmental disasters and social injustices in the last century occurred in authoritarian regimes of left and right.

Conspiracy theories (political)

  1. A powerful and secretive group known as the New World Order is planning to eventually rule the world through an autonomous world government which would replace sovereign governments.
  2. The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. was the result of an organized conspiracy by U.S. government agencies such as the CIA and FBI.
  3. The Apollo moon landings never happened and were staged in a Hollywood film studio.
  4. The assassination of John F. Kennedy was not committed by the lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald but was rather a detailed organized conspiracy to kill the President.
  5. The U.S. government allowed the 9-11 attacks to take place so that it would have an excuse to achieve foreign (e.g., wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) and domestic (e.g., attacks on civil liberties) goals that had been determined prior to the attacks.
  6. Princess Diana’s death was not an accident but rather an organised assassination by members of the British royal family who disliked her.

Basically, if you read the communiques and the proclamations coming out of annual meeting like Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban that say we must have a strong global organization to impose climate change, you should consider yourself as much a crank or nutter as those who think George Bush was capable of the phenomenally detailed planning required to stage the 9-11 attacks (but totally failed to successfully bring peace through conquest in Iraq or Afghanistan).

Conspiracy theories (Scientific)

  1. 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.
  2. U.S. agencies intentionally created the AIDS epidemic and administered it to Black and gay men in the 1970s.
  3. The alleged link between second-hand tobacco smoke and ill health is based on bogus science and is an attempt by a corrupt cartel of medical researchers to replace rational science with dogma.
  4. The HIV virus causes AIDS.
  5. Smoking causes lung cancer.
  6. Lead in drinking water poses a serious long-term health risk.

The questions on climate and second-hand tobacco smoke lump two concepts together; a lot of money wasted for very little output along with the alleged motives of those practicing their research. In between is a particularly distasteful conspiracy theory, the very idea of which would be repellent to most people. The other three questions are simple statements of well-established science. There is no loading or controversy.

Religion and Evolution.

  1. God is important in my life
  2. I believe there is a life after death
  3. I get comfort or strength from religion
  4. There is no proof of God: if there is a God, he would have shown himself by now
  5. I think of myself as a religious person
  6. I have made a personal commitment to live my life for God
  7. I have had an experience of spiritual worship that was very moving and powerful
  8. I have experienced a definite answer to prayer or specific guidance from God
  9. Modern humans are the product of evolutionary processes that have occurred over millions of years
  10. The theory of evolution is based on speculation and not valid scientific observation and testing
  11. Most scientists accept evolutionary theory to be a scientifically valid theory
  12. There is a significant body of data that supports evolutionary theory
  13. Humans exist today in essentially the same form in which they always have
  14. Evolution is a scientifically valid theory
  15. Current evolutionary theory is the result of sound scientific research and methodology

This is meant to distinguish between the US bible-belt evangelical Christians and the atheistic scientific community. It does so in a non-partisan way, so that Muslims could answer as well. However, it does not take into account the more nuanced, earnest, balanced and thoughtful approaches to the interactions of hard science and the timeless spiritual truths, as typified, is not caricatured, by Dr Rowan Williams, The Archbishop of Canterbury.


  1. Corporations are not respectful of laws
  2. Corporations do not accept accountability for their actions
  3. People who run corporations will lie if doing so will increase company profits
  4. Corporations do not care about acting ethically
  5. Corporations will break laws if they can make more money from it
  6. Corporations put their own interests above the public’s interests
  7. Corporations are driven by greed
  8. Corporations care only about money
  9. Corporations want power at any cost
  10. Corporations take a lot more than they give
  11. Corporations intentionally deceive the public
  12. Corporations do not consider the needs of their employees when making business decisions
  13. Corporations exploit their workers

Any notion of balance goes completely out of the window. It is by far the largest section in a questionnaire on “Science and Society”. There is no switching between good points of corporations – such as technological breakthroughs, or much of our phenomenal prosperity. That includes the “Eco” technologies and the must-have gadgets from a fruity American 70s start-up. It is almost as if they want the more moderate participants to give up in disgust. Do avoid permanent psychological damage, they questionnaire end with a few personal questions about things in life you are thankful for, and people that you are grateful to.

The missing sections

No not the political spectrum one. The missing questions that a more balanced questionnaire might ask.

  1. General trust in climate science.
  2. Trust in carefully presented evidence, with questions respectively answered, as against the dogma of “scientists agree”.
  3. Questions for the Australian people, of whether carbon tax policies are worthwhile
  4. Questions on trust in government; the motives of politicians; the ability to deliver on promises. In relation to both Western democracies and tyrannies past and present.
  5. The importance of tackling climate change relative to other issues like unemployment and prospective financial meltdown in parts of Europe.


When devising a questionnaire, one must always try to eliminate bias, and avoid emotionally loaded the questions that will prejudice the answers. Neither should it contain multiple issues in a question. This survey does just the opposite. It is started off being deliberately designed to elicit certain polarized responses, ending up showing the deeply prejudiced and politically extreme position of the author.

*Please note. I am not aware of any copyright restrictions on reposting the questions. I accessed this from “Watching the Deniers” website, where there was no mention of copyright material. Neither was there any mention of copyright on the introductory front page. The doing a search I only came across a link to a 2010 survey. Neither could I find a link within The University of Western Australia Website, though it is on their servers.

John Redwood lights the “Global Warming” fuse again

John Redwood bravely touched on the global warming subject again in “Challenging establishment orthodoxies“.

One of the strange features of global warming theory is the reaction of its leading protagonists. They say it is scientifically derived, but then go on to say the science is proven and established. I thought the essence of scientific method was to reach a hypothesis that seemed to fit the facts, and then to keep trying to improve or destroy it by further testing or experiment. This seems to be a thesis where the aim is always to buttress it rather than test it. For many years scientists thought Newton had said the last word on planetary motion, but the twentieth century did not rest until they had replaced or improved on the Newtonian universe in a dramatic way.”

My comment (following from previous comments made on this blog) was

You will notice that whenever you mention “Global Warming” that you are guaranteed to get a greater number of comments compared to practically any other issue. Further the views are probably more polarized and politicized than any other issue.
However, the way to proceed might not be one of hypothesis testing. The data is complex and most of the science is about future events. Rather, it might be worth using the experience with which you are more familiar.
1. In business, a new investment proposal will just be assessed on the theoretical profits, but on the capacity to see that proposal through to actual success. The Stern Review allegedly gave the theory, but there was nothing on public policy issues of controlling policy costs, and maximizing policy benefits (CO2 benefits). Whatever the policy, this failure to focus and project management is a sure guarantee of policy disaster.
2. In politics, the greatest threat to extremist and untenable viewpoints has been from the majority who are able to compare these viewpoints to their other perspectives. That is why authoritarian regimes only can exist in an environment where they silence criticism. There is growing evidence of excluding contrary views without a fair hearing in our scientific institutions, in research funding, and in the mainstream media.
3. Science at the frontiers about making bold hypotheses that can be falsified by later testing. Similarly, the police in a crime investigation make conjectures and then gather evidence. Established science (on which policy should be based) is like a successful prosecution in a criminal case. It is about presenting the evidence and under-going a cross examination by the opponents. This to convince a randomly-selected group of people. My contention would be that the strongest evidence of catastrophic global warming is the most trivial, whilst the most alarming aspects of climate change are based on weak, circumstantial and hearsay evidence.

Two relevant references

Heartland Leak – The Implications

The stolen documents from the Heartland Institute have caused a lot of comment on the blogs. There are a number of things that will come out of this.

1. The consensus climate scientists and their cohorts cannot deal with numbers. Just as they have no sense of proportion with financial values (see Jo Nova on this), they likewise have no sense of proportion with sea level rise, temperature rise, or extreme weather events.

2. A better antonym of “sceptical” than “undoubting” or “believer” is “gullible”. Seems DeSmogBlog did not think to check out the authenticity of the damming 2012 strategy document, neither do they accept the Heartland rebuttal. It fitted the narrative, so they published within an hour of receiving the mail. Similarly The Guardian posted a number of one-sided reports (here, here, here), as did Roger Black of the BBC, without waiting to verify the facts. The most alarming 2012 strategy document is a fax (Judith Curry has other references)

3. A number of people, like me, will visit Heartland.org for the first time. They will find they have 7 policy areas employing 20 people, of which “Environment & Energy” employs 3. They specialise in providing cogent summaries of these issues to policy-makers. Whatever you think of their political stance, they are hardly the secretive, rabid backwoodsmen right-wingers that the alarmists project.

4. This support for spreading information in a concise, intelligible form also comes out in the sceptic-funding “exposes”. There is one-off support for Antony Watts who

proposes to create a new Web site devoted to accessing the new temperature data from NOAA’s web site and converting them into easy-to-understand graphs that can be easily found and understood by weathermen and the general interested public.” 

The, alleged, biggest recipient by far of monthly funding is Craig D Idso, who founded the co2science.org website. This provides summaries of climate science papers, collating their results to help give an overall picture of such as the medieval warm period, ocean acidification and the effect of CO2 on plant growth. For instance, I like this graphic summarising the proxy studies of the MWP showing that the Mannian Hockey Stick studies need to at least reconcile their claim that average global temperatures are warmer than in the last 1000 years.

5. It illustrates the upside-down nature of climatology, compared with conventional science. Conventional science is based on making bold statements and predictions that are substantiated by the evidence, with very clear and replicable methods. Over time it refines its techniques, strengthens its methods of analysis and sees its predictions confirmed. It does not need to denigrate, or attempt to silence its detractors. Like the historians of the holocaust, conventional science just points to the evidence and enlightens those who seek the truth. The real deniers of truth in history have been those who silence their opponents and fabricate distortions.

Overall, the leak exposes why the little Heartland Institute is so evil and dangerous to many. They threaten the jobs and reputations of tens of thousands of climate scientists, “policy-makers”, regulators, and powerful business interests in the alternatives to reliable energy. On the other hand, they are on the side of those made hungry by fuel crops competing with food, and of future generations globally, who will be worse-off by growth-sapping mitigation policies.

Another example of Censorship of Skeptics

The blog Zone5 (written by an environmentalist who is thoughtfully sceptical of global warming) has had an article taken down from what has been one of the more moderate pro-CAGW blogs. I left the following comment

The removal of your article is another small example of what you were writing about. Any attempt to offer counter arguments, or to criticize, is being shut down. This is true of blog comments or of peer-reviewed papers. But enough of the negative. Your article made some excellent points, particularly on Al Gore’s movie

First he misrepresents the science by claiming we are facing near certain doom, then he completely downplays the kind of changes we would have to make to prevent catastrophe if we accept the worst case scenario.

It is the crux of what I consider to be the problem of the climate change agenda. I believe there is quite strong science to back up the claim that a doubling of CO2 will cause about one degree of warming. Maybe the climate models are right, and this effect will be doubled or more by clouds feedbacks (though the virulence with which scientific papers that suggest otherwise have been attacked, and a similarly weak rebuttal suggesting the opposite praised greatly, suggests this is an Achilles heel). However, your comment on Al Gore’s film neatly summarises the issue in general. The potential effects of climate change are over-estimated in two ways – of magnitude and likelihood. The most important magnitude is time. For instance, the potential sea level rise is treated as if it would be in metres per year. So fast that large areas of land would be swamped before the harvest could be brought in. But even if global temperatures rose by five degrees in a generation (very unlikely), the resultant sea level rise would be sufficiently slow to relocate homes and agriculture, or to build dykes. People’s ability to adapt to rapidly to changes are remarkable, as emigrants from Britain to Australia (or from Asia to Britain) can testify, yet this is vastly underplayed.

The downplaying of effective policy issues is, if anything, even worse. It is assumed that with a little extra tax, everybody will switch to electric cars or bicycles, and plug a few drafts to cut heating bills by 90%. All this until we get a technological breakthrough in a few years to allow super-abundant carbon free power and near costless power. If Britain (or the EU) takes the lead, then everybody else will follow. No problem about over-running on costs, or pursuing the wrong type of green energy. No concern that a million or more families will enter fuel poverty every year, whilst still failing far behind on emissions reduction targets.

The overplay of risks / underplay of policy costs was put in a more sophisticated way in the Stern Review. I have attempted to analyse this at


Please continue to encourage people to think for themselves and compare the various perspectives.

Is this another example of shutting down any sort of dissent, like the increasing dogmatism & extremism of sceptical science? (see here