Stephan Lewandowsky

Wed, 2014-04-09 17:11Graham Readfearn
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Editors Resign From Frontiers Journal Over Retracted Paper That Upset Climate Science Deniers

Three university professors are resigning as editors at a scientific publisher in protest at its decision to retract research linking climate change scepticism to conspiratorial thinking.

Professors Ugo Bardi, of the University of Florence, Italy and Björn Brembs, of the University of Regensburg, Germany, launched scathing attacks on the Switzerland-based publisher Frontiers. Professor Colin Davis, of the University of Bristol, has also resigned in protest.

The academics said the journal should have stood by the authors of the research, with one saying the publishers had caved in to pressure from “delusionals.”

Frontiers staff and the three research authors, led by cognitive psychology professor Stephan Lewandowsky of the University of Bristol, had signed agreements preventing them from discussing the nature of the complaints, but DeSmogBlog revealed sceptics had claimed the research was defamatory.

Frontiers last year formed a partnership with the publishers of the high-profile Nature journal.

Brembs described Frontiers' retraction decision as “an outrageous act of a scientific journal caving in to pressure from delusionals” who, he said, were “demanding the science about their publicly displayed delusions be hidden from the world.”

Thu, 2014-03-20 19:42Graham Readfearn
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Science Journal Set To Retract Paper Linking Climate Change Scepticism To Conspiracy Theorists After Sceptics Shout Libel

A psychology journal is said to be preparing to retract a scientific paper that found a link between conspiratorial thinking and the rejection of global warming science after climate sceptics claimed the paper was defamatory.

DeSmogBlog has learned the paper's four authors, led by Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, the chair of cognitive psychology at the University of Bristol, have signed gagging orders preventing them from discussing the nature of the complaints about their work, carried out when Lewandowsky was a professor at the University of Western Australia.

News of an alleged pending retraction, by the Switzerland-based journal Frontiers in Psychology, has leaked onto climate sceptic blogs but the journal is yet to make a formal announcement.

But DeSmogBlog can reveal that Freedom of Information documents obtained last June but revealed here for the first time show that climate sceptics complained that the work was defamatory.

Fri, 2012-12-21 10:37Guest
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So-Called Skeptics Clinging To Slippery Strands Of Climate Science Denial

This a guest post by Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, of the University of Western Australia.

THE guy next to you in the pub turns around and says, “Popcorn doesn’t exist”… and he adds, “but it grows naturally on trees! And it’s good for you!”

Popcorn doesn’t exist but grows naturally on trees and is good for you? Would you entrust that fellow with the lives of your children if their future depended on logical coherence? No. No one would place any confidence in such incoherence.

Sadly, the public in some countries - in particular in Australia and the U.S. - is drenched in such incoherence in the form of climate denial. This incoherence often goes undetected.

To see why, it is helpful to analyze those messages from purported “skeptics” in some detail. For example, earlier this week on the same day that Australia’s only national broadsheet, the Rupert Murdoch-owned The Australian, received an adjudication by the Press Council against them for likening wind energy to pedophilia - yes, they really did say that - the paper also ran a piece that proclaimed future global warming to be minimal and beneficial to the planet.

Yes they really did say that, by dutifully reprinting a piece that ran in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal the day before. Is there any truth to this comforting news?

No. To see why, it is helpful to survey the three major strands of climate denial.

Thu, 2012-12-06 23:34Graham Readfearn
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Freedom of Information Laws Used By Climate Sceptics To Rifle Through Scientists' Daily Emails

FREEDOM of Information laws across the world were introduced as a way to open governments and their agencies to public and journalistic scrutiny and to extract the kind of information that tends not to make its way into press releases and government pamphlets.

But seen through the eyes of some climate change scientists, it is a law which appears to have been hijacked by climate science sceptics and free market think tanks as a means to rifle through their inboxes in search of anything which, when taken out of context, might be used to make them look bad.

In the US, Penn State University climate scientist Professor Michael Mann - he of the famous 'hockey stick' graph -  recently fought off a long running attempt by the climate science denial think tank the American Tradition Institute to gain access to his emails.

As The Guardian has reported, the ATI, led by one of its directors Christopher Horner, has pursued several other scientists using FOI laws to gain access to their email inboxes. Mr Horner has also made specific requests for correspondence between scientists and journalists.

Mann has described such cases as an “abuse of public records and FOIA laws”, saying the efforts were “frivolous and vexatious”.  

Lawyer with the Climate Science Legal Defence Fund Jeff Ruch told The Guardian that the requests were “basically a spying operation” to “find material that is potential of use in discrediting a scientist.”

Wed, 2012-09-05 13:42Graham Readfearn
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Research Links Climate Science Denial To Conspiracy Theories, But Skeptics Smell A Conspiracy

IF the world's conspiratorial blogosphere was broken up into food items on a wedding buffet table, then an eclectic array of plate-fillers would surely be on offer.

There would be canapés topped with faked moon landings and hors d'oeuvres of Government-backed plots to assassinate civil rights leaders.

Sandwich fillings would come from US military staff at Roswell in New Mexico (cheese and alien, anyone?). The alcoholic punch would be of the same vintage as that which the British Royal family gave Princess Diana's chauffeur, as part of their plot to kill her. All of the catering would be provided by the New World Order.

Then there's the salad of human-caused climate change being a hoax, with the world's climate scientists, national academies and the declining Arctic sea-ice all in on the conspiracy.

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Western Australia (UWA), is about to publish research which shows that a strong indicator of the rejection of climate science is a willingness to accept conspiracy theories.

Wed, 2011-11-30 09:16Chris Mooney
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The Science of Debiasing: The New “Debunking Handbook” Is a Treasure Trove For Defenders of Reason

For quite some time here at DeSmogBlog, I’ve been writing about the growing science of irrationality—in other words, our ever-better scientific understanding of why people reject clearly correct information. I believe we can’t possibly get to a better place, in debates over issues like global warming, until we understand why getting facts across turns out to be so difficult.

A large amount of psychological science has now been published on this matter—but boiling it all down into a practical, usable guide for someone who wants to communicate in a scientifically-informed way? Not so much.

Not until now.

I simply cannot believe that John Cook of Skeptical Science and psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky managed, in just 8 pages, to create something as magnificent as their new Debunking Handbook. It is packed not only with wonderful graphics, but also with a clear explanation of why many attempts to defeat misinformation fail, and what steps must be taken to do a better job.

The core issue, of course, is one that I’ve written much about—too many scientists assume that that facts win out on their own, but that isn’t actually true. If you base your communication strategy on this misconception, you will fail very badly.

Instead, Cook and Lewandowky explain that there are a variety of “backfires” that can be triggered by uninformed communication styles. Stating a myth before debunking can actually reinforce it. Debunking a myth with an overload of information can also backfire. And attacking a worldview can backfire most of all.

So what do you do? You should read their guide, but basically it boils down to several principles:

Tue, 2011-09-06 06:15Guest
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Australia's Climate Scientists Expose Shock-jock Distortion Tactics

Authored by Stephan Lewandowsky. This post originally appeared at The Guardian. Re-printed here with permission.

Australia has unwittingly become a social experiment. A ruthless experiment on the fate of a society when a single media conglomerate, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, owns 167 newspapers and controls around 70% of the printed media market.

After the phone-hacking scandal rocked Britain, News Corp officials in Australia struggled to put some daylight between its local operations and the rest of the empire, assuring the public that the country was spared phone hacking and other unethical practices. It is perhaps unlikely that wire tapping or phone hacking was practiced in Australia, simply because the local specialty of the Murdoch organs and their shock-jock allies has been a fairly low-tech reliance on outrageous spin.

Nowhere has the reliance on spin been more apparent than during the coverage of the climate “debate” by the Murdoch media and allied shock jocks.

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