Blogstorm alert

There is a blogstorm raging these days for those of you with inadequate workplace supervision.  Check here for the latest post from ground zero.

The synopsis is: scientist releases paper showing strong correlation between belief in conspiracy theories, free market ideology, anti-science attitudes and the rejection of climate science; climate skeptic blogger community sees conspiracy and scientific fraud.  (To their credit, I have not yet seen the accusation of "socialist".)

I don't have much to say about it, I am as embarrassed for these folks as I am amused by the irony of it all.  I should acknowledge my part in it as one of the blogs posting the survey.  I was however unable to attend the secret meeting so can't comment on the conspiracy that was behind it all.

On a more serious note: is the result really that surprising?

More like this

Well, yes, actually. Assuming, for the avoidance of doubt, that you mean "belief OF conspiracy theories" (we all believe IN them, don't we?) then the proportion of Americans who believe conspiracy theories but eschew free market ideology has been widely touted as "99%" for just over a year now.

By Ian Kemmish (not verified) on 11 Sep 2012 #permalink

No, that's not what the paper is going on about.

How liable are you to believe in a conspiracy is what the paper is about.

How did you manage to come to the wrong idea so easily? Did you not read?

This is in the wrong spot I know - sorry Coby - but I don't know the best thread for this. Check this out:

"....We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history...."

Signed - Dr Roy Spencer (and a few others).

Spencer is supposed to be a scientist, and has been quoted often by many of our denier friends. But when someone says crap like that - they have just shredded any semblance or credibility that they may have still had to speak on scientific issues.

More on Professor Stephan Lewandosky, the psychologist from the University of Western Australia, who published the paper on climate change denial and conspiracy theories discussed in this thread. That paper generated a predictable reaction from deniers, many of them alleging a cover up or conspiracy in the production of the paper (gee – go figure!). Wattsupmybutt was one of the most obvious, and if you want your brain to explode you can check out some of the reactions here:…

There are other threads on Watts’ site, and you can search for them if you want – they certainly are worth a laugh to see inside the deluded little minds of the deniers.

But the best part of this is that all the comments on blogs were data that Lewandowsky has now used for a follow up paper. It is about to be published in an open access journal, here (click on the “Provisional PDF” link on the top right hand corner of the page:…

Since it is open access, I am sure Professor Lewandowsky wouldn’t mind me providing a few quotes from the paper”

”Because peer review tends to eliminate ideas that are not supported by evidence (e.g., questioning the link between HIV and AIDS lost intellectual respectability decades ago; Nattrass, 2010, 2011), much of science denial involves the internet. The internet provides a platform for individuals who reject a scientific consensus to confirm each other's feelings of persecution by a corrupt elite" (McKee & Diethelm, 2010, pp. 1310{1311). Internet sites such as blogs dedicated to a specific issue have therefore become hubs for science denial and they arguably play a major role in the creation and dissemination of conspiracist ideation.”

“Rejection of the scientific consensus thus calls for an alternative explanation of the very existence of that consensus. The ideation of a secretive conspiracy among researchers can serve as such an explanation (Diethelm & McKee, 2009; McKee & Diethelm, 2010; Smith & Leiserowitz, 2012). Moreover, the ideation of a conspiracy may also serve as a \fantasy theme" that permits groups to develop and share a symbolic reality. Such fantasy themes (e.g., the denier as “Galileo" who opposes a corrupt iron-fisted establishment) operate as bonding agents that build group cohesion by creating a shared social reality. Fantasy themes are known to play a major role in climate denial (McKewon, 2012b, 2012a).”

“….much of science denial takes place in an epistemically closed system that is immune to falsifying evidence and counterarguments (Boudry & Braeckman, 2012; Kalichman, 2009). We therefore consider it highly unlikely that outreach efforts to those groups could be met with success……This indicates that the recursive theories, while intensely promoted by certain bloggers and commenters, were largely contained to the “echo chamber" of climate denial”

So not a lot of surprises there. Deniers live in their own little world of Faux News and Wattsupmybutt, and never actually read real science or expose their views to the disinfectant of rational thought. But I believe that the most interesting comment is contained in the last quote I provided. Outreach efforts and evidence will NEVER reach these people. They are like creationists – nothing will ever persuade them that they are wrong, despite the evidence being obvious to anyone with eyes and ears.