Pharyngula

The climate change denialists are a bit thin-skinned; they’ve also been exposed as a bit on the wacko side. The journal Frontiers in Psychology is about to retract a paper that found that denialists tend to have a cluster of weird beliefs (NASA faked the moon landings, the CIA was in charge of the assassination of political figures in the US, etc.) because the denialists screamed very loudly.

This outrage first arose in response to a paper, NASA faked the moon landing–Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science (pdf) which analyzed voluntary surveys submitted by readers of climate science blogs, in which the respondents freely admitted to having a collection of other beliefs, in addition to climate change denial. That paper found something else interesting, and was the primary correlation observed: a lot of denialists are libertarians. Are you surprised?

Rejection of climate science was strongly associated with endorsement of a laissez-faire view of unregulated free markets. This replicates previous work (e.g., Heath & Gifford, 2006) although the strength of association found here (r ~.80) exceeds that reported in any extant study. At least in part, this may reflect the use of SEM, which enables measurement of the associations between constructs free of measurement error (Fan, 2003).

A second variable that was associated with rejection of climate science as well as other scientific propositions was conspiracist ideation. Notably, this relationship emerged even though conspiracies that related to the queried scientific propositions (AIDS, climate change) did not contribute to the conspiracist construct. By implication, the role of conspiracist ideation in the rejection of science did not simply reflect “convenience” theories that provided specific alternative “explanations” for a scientific consensus. Instead, this finding suggests that a general propensity to endorse any of a number of conspiracy theories predisposes people to reject entirely unrelated scientific facts.

Oh, how they howled. Even libertarians seem to be embarrassed at being affiliated with libertarians, I guess. And conspiracy theorists, too? Why, the accusation itself is clearly evidence that there’s a conspiracy out to get them. They protested that because the respondents to the survey all found it through mainstream science blogs, all the responses were false flag operations put out by Big Climate.

What they didn’t realize was that they were generating more data to support the hypothesis. The authors of the first paper then wrote a second paper, the one that is now being retracted by the cowardly publisher, called Recursive Fury: Conspiracist Ideation in the Blogosphere in Response to Research on Conspiracist Ideation, in which they scanned public posts and comments on the first article, and analyzed the text for evidence of conspiracist tropes (it’s a nefarious scheme, they’re out to get us, it’s an organized movement to defeat us, etc.) and found that yes, conspiracist reasoning was quite common on climate change denial blogs.

They also rebutted some claims. The claim that the authors never bothered to contact the denialist blogs to host their survey was shot down pretty easily: they had the email, and further, they had replies from denialists who later claimed they never received any request to host the survey.

Initial attention of the blogosphere also focused on the method reported by LOG12, which stated: “Links were posted on 8 blogs (with a pro-science science stance but with a diverse audience); a further 5 “skeptic” (or “skeptic”-leaning) blogs were approached but none posted the link.” Speculation immediately focused on the identity of the 5 “skeptic” bloggers. Within short order, 25 “skeptical” bloggers had come publicly forward9 to state that they had not been approached by the researchers. Of those 25 public declarations, 5 were by individuals who were invited to post links to the study by LOG12 in 2010. Two of these bloggers had engaged in correspondence with the research assistant for further clarification.

Those emails were also revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request.

The squawking reached a new crescendo. Steve McIntyre wrote a strongly worded formal letter demanding that the defamatory article be removed, and accusing the authors of malice. Further, they complained that analyzing the content of blog posts and comments, public, openly accessible work, was an ethics violation.

Ludicrous as those claims are, Frontiers in Psychology is apparently about to fold to them. For shame.

You know, my university had a meeting with our institutional lawyers yesterday — I was called in to attend the information session for some reason, like having a reputation as a trouble-maker or something — and I was impressed with their professionalism and their commitment to actually defending the faculty and staff of the university. I guess not every organization is lucky enough to have good lawyers of principle.

Oh, well. All I can say is that, thanks to the denialist ratfuckers, now everyone is going to be far more interested in reading the two papers by Lewandowsky and others. I recommend that you read Motivated rejection of science (pdf) and Recursive fury(pdf) now, or anytime — they’re archived on the web. You might also stash away a copy yourself. You make a denialist cry every time you make a copy, you know.

Comments

  1. […] By PZ Myers […]

  2. #2 jane
    March 21, 2014

    One of my favorite authors, John Michael Greer, once observed that while non-mainstream beliefs or opinions on a variety of subjects exist within every civilization, industrial-era Western civilization seemed to him unique in having a “rejected-knowledge movement” in which people who hold one non-mainstream belief are inclined to accept any other such belief that presents itself, even on totally unrelated subjects. He did not suggest any explanation for why this might be. However, it seems to me that beliefs held in suites are not confined to cranks, but are a general feature of our culture. Some spokesmen for “science” think you must share every single one of their opinions or be counted among the intellectual reprobate. Our two-party political culture tells us that if you believe in gay rights you should also believe in gun control, and if you believe in low taxes you should also oppose regulating pollution, and so forth, even though these subjects have nothing whatsoever to do with one another. Most Americans have a more or less Manichaean worldview. And people do tend to adjust their beliefs to fit in with the people they associate with.

  3. #3 GregH
    March 21, 2014

    This is too hard to believe! You’re making it up!

  4. #4 Composer99
    http://composer99.blogspot.ca
    March 21, 2014

    Stephan Lewandowsky posted a PDF of the paper online with the following comments from the University of Western Australia regarding having it at UWA’s website:

    Given its popularity, and given that approximately 29,300 viewers did not complain about our work, it would be a shame to deprive the public of access to this article. Because the work was conducted in Australia, I consulted with the University of Western Australia’s chief lawyer, Kim Heitman, who replied as follows:

    “I’m entirely comfortable with you publishing the paper on the UWA web site. You and the University can easily be sued for any sorts of hurt feelings or confected outrage, and I’d be quite comfortable processing such a phony legal action as an insurance matter.”

  5. #5 Phoenix Woman
    March 21, 2014

    Who came up with the term “crank magnetism” to describe the phenomenon described by these two papers?

  6. […] assassination of political figures in the US, etc.) because the denialists screamed very loudly.This outrage first arose in response to a paper, NASA faked the moon landing–Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Read full article […]

  7. #7 Nat Philosopher
    http://whyarethingsthisway.com
    March 22, 2014

    I have started a new blog. Post 1 surveyed the actual scientific literature (not the imaginary one Pediatricians and many others probably including you believe must surely exist) and showed the literature quite clearly establishes that vaccines in the first months of life, especially containing aluminum, are dangerous. Post 2 remarked on how the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies wrote a 270pp survey last year exactly on the question of safety of the vaccine series, and managed to ignore all of the dozens of mainstream journal papers cited in my survey while finding no other cogent papers on the subject (but discussing large numbers of papers on strawman issues, sound familiar?)

    Post 4 points out that the examples of Vaccinism and Global Warmism empirically falsify the mental model almost all of us have of how people such as Pediatricians and Climate Scientists form their opinions. It discusses instead the psychological model of Gustav Le Bon (1895) which explains the observed data much better, including aspects such as the punishing of deniers and the religious intolerance. Le Bon’s book, The Crowd, although not widely cited today, was arguably the text that had the most influence on the shape of the 20th century since it served as a manual for, among others, Teddy Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Lenin and Stalin, Mussolini, and Madison Avenue.

    So the explanation of why deniers in one field are deniers in another is likely they are less prone to crowd think.
    http://whyarethingsthisway.com/

  8. #8 GregH
    March 23, 2014

    “the punishing of deniers”

    When? Did I miss it because I don’t watch FOX News?

  9. #9 dean
    March 23, 2014

    and showed the literature quite clearly establishes that vaccines in the first months of life,

    There’s a live one here (live denier and quack, at post 7, that is)

  10. #10 Christopher Winter
    Droughtland California
    March 23, 2014

    I like the phrase “confected outrage.” Kudos to Kim Heitman for coming up with it.

    I’ve got a pretty good idea of the identities of those five “skeptic” blogs, but I could be wrong, so I’ll hold on that for now.

  11. #11 Christopher Winter
    March 23, 2014

    @Nat (#7):

    So you finally uncovered The Truth — and not only about the harmfulness of vaccines, but about the non-harmfulness of global warming. I eagerly await the news of your trip to Stockholm.

    But I’m not holding my breath.

    In the meantime, you might want to check your blog. Sez the W3C Validator: “12 errors, 7 warnings found while checking this document as HTML5!”

  12. #12 Not Czar
    Not Santa Cruz
    March 24, 2014

    Czar is a pedo!

  13. #13 czarangelus
    Santa Cruz CA
    March 24, 2014

    Maybe if the government would stop lying about literally everything, doctors would stop charging $200 for a handful of aspirin, the ICC would prosecute war crimes instead of covering them up, scientists weren’t readily buyable to say this quickly recalled drug or that is 100% safe, and preachers no longer act like dogs sleeping in a cattle trough (not eating and not letting the cattle eat;)

    I’d be prepared to take seriously a word they say about, well, anything really.

  14. #14 Not Czar
    Not Santa Cruz
    March 24, 2014

    czarangelus of BanniNation.com is a PEDOPHILE

  15. #15 gary van zyl
    westen cape RSA
    March 24, 2014

    we all know one thing the WWW Belongs to the ILLUMINATI and they thought we never would find out,well wake the f up

  16. #16 GregH
    March 24, 2014

    Come on you guys! This is about the fake moon landings.

  17. #17 Nat Philosopher
    March 25, 2014

    Christopher, I won’t get a Nobel because they don’t give Nobel’s for reading the science literature. Any competent scientist can do it. And I’m not the first to do it. But I am not only telling you what it says, I’m drawing you a road map, laying out cites with links to literally dozens of papers in mainstream medical journals showing danger from vaccines. But won’t benefit, will you, because you won’t go look and think for yourself.

    Now you see the problem. There is a scientific literature, it shows danger. There are millions of people, Pediatricians even, who imagine that its safe, and won’t pay attention when people show its not. That’s where we are.

    http://whyarethingsthisway.com/
    http://whyarethingsthisway.com/2014/03/08/example-1-pediatrician-belief-is-opposite-the-published-scientific-evidence-on-early-vaccine-safety/

  18. #18 ChrisSamsDad
    Eccles, UK
    March 25, 2014

    It’s the well known Streisand Effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect in action.

  19. #19 ChrisSamsDad
    March 25, 2014

    Nat Philosopher – quick! – there are some goats trying to get over your bridge. it’s a conspiracy!

  20. #20 Peter
    March 26, 2014

    The greentards will lead us into poverty and death.
    Why is it, the only solution is always taxes, carbon tax, green tax, snot tax ect. If you don’t support this, your working for the oil company, nonsense. I don’t support it because it solves nothing, and kills industry, its stupid.
    When they asked china, why they are building so many coal plants don’t you know they pollute.They answered that they need the cheapest electricity possible. So we can make you, those solar panels for you. Where you will pay 100 times more for electricity and go bankrupt. These things can never power a steel mill. We will have the jobs the factories and the future.
    You might think that without any polluting factories, we be healthier but you be wrong. As you get poorer you will start loosing access to hospitals clean water sanitation you will see a world of sickness and death. Rich country’s have the money and resources to clean it up, if desired.
    Do you guys even understand that C02 is not a pollutant without it we would die. In fact in the past there were times when this level was much higher and the plants and animals did better because of it. We went through 7 ice ages and the, higher C02 levels at the time, helped to protect the planet. There are even scientists that are arguing that our C02 levels are too low, to protect us from the next ice age. Let me see 7 ice ages and it wasn’t man made. I wonder what could of caused them, and the next one that’s sure to come. Must be global warming my greentard friend, said so.

  21. […] Speaking of wrong ideas, a recent paper examining conspiracy theorists stirred up a ruckus when it reported an overabundance of Libertarians among the sampled CT crowd. You know what happened next: […]

  22. […] ruckus when it reported an overabundance of Libertarians among the sampled CT crowd. You know what happened next: Oh, how they howled. Even libertarians seem to be embarrassed at being affiliated with […]

  23. […] Speaking of wrong ideas, a recent paper examining conspiracy theorists stirred up a ruckus when it reported an overabundance of Libertarians among the sampled CT crowd. You know what happened next: […]

  24. […] Speaking of wrong ideas, a recent paper examining conspiracy theorists stirred up a ruckus when it reported an overabundance of Libertarians among the sampled CT crowd. You know what happened next: […]

  25. […] It’s a conspiracy! […]

  26. #26 Kemmy Landurm
    March 30, 2014

    Retractions of paper are common. Why do you make a conspiracy out of it? Maybe it has some serious flaws? I don’t know, but I doubt that some skeptics blogs have the power to enforce a retraction.

  27. #27 David Marjanović
    Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
    April 1, 2014

    C02

    No, it’s not C zero two. It’s C O two, a molecule composed of a carbon atom and two oxygen atoms.

    If you don’t even know this, I’m not surprised you don’t understand how it heats the air when the ground beams IR at it.

    We went through 7 ice ages

    A lot more. Your knowledge is several decades out of date.

    There are even scientists that are arguing that our C02 levels are too low, to protect us from the next ice age.

    Cite one such paper.

    I wonder what could of caused them, and the next one that’s sure to come.

    Milanković cycles, duh, and the next one is scheduled to begin in 50,000 years.

    Retractions of paper are common.

    On what planet?

    Here on Earth, retractions are extremely rare. I’m not aware of a single paper in my field, for a very wide definition of “my field”, that has ever been retracted.

  28. #28 ankastre set
    http://www.ankastreset.com.tr
    April 1, 2014

    Le Bon’s book, The Crowd, although not widely cited today, was arguably the text that had the most influence on the shape of the 20th century since it served as a manual for, among others, Teddy Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Lenin and Stalin, Mussolini, and Madison Avenue.

  29. #29 otel ekipmanları
    istanbul
    April 4, 2014

    otel ekipmanları Aksesuarları ve Islak hacim ekipmanları pazarında tasarım ve AR-GE ekibinin özgün model üretimiyle lider firma konumuna gelen MUNDANE, otel, hastane ve işyerlerine yönelik 700′ün üzerinde yüksek kalitede ürün gamı ve 1000′in üzerinde satış noktasıyla kesintisiz hizmet sunmaktadır

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