LewWorld is a busy place these days. Claims of conspiracy theory are supplemented with even more claims of conspiracy theory when some obvious flaws to data and methodology are pointed out, like faked responses. Faked responses abound in the Lewandowsky “moon landing” paper because there were not any adequate quality controls.
Further compromising the data integrity, yesterday Steve McIntyre discovered that Lewandowsky’s assistant, Charles Hanich offered the survey to staff and faculty at UWA, but there’s no mention of this in the peer reviewed paper, and no record of whether those results were excluded or not.
Here’s the announcement from UWA’s list server aggregator:
UWA researcher Charles Hanich is seeking participants for a web-based survey of attitudes towards climate science (and other sciences) and skepticism. The survey carries no risks for participants. To participate in the survey please use this link:
Completion should take less than 10 minutes and all data will be analyzed anonymously and without monitoring or identifying individual responses.
[Notice approved by:
Human Research Ethics Committee,
Research Services, University of Western Australia ]
In the paper:
Lewandowsky, S., Oberauer, K., & Gignac, C. E. (in press). NASA faked the moon landing—therefore (climate) science is a hoax: An anatomy of the motivated rejection of science.. Psychological Science.
We report a survey (N > 1100) of climate blog users to identify the variables underlying acceptance and rejection of climate science.
There’s no mention of surveying academic peers. Thus we don’t know if the survey data was polluted by peers at UWA who are/are not climate blog users.
What is interesting though is Lewandowsky’s and Hanich’s admission of the way they setup the Kwiksurvey participation rules. From the paper:
Following standard recommendations (Gosling, Vazire, Srivastava, & John, 2004), duplicate responses from any IP number were eliminated (N = 71).
An on Sept 13, 2010 Hanich replied to Dr. Roger Pielke Jr:
Subject: Re: Survey link post
I am sorry for not replying earlier. You have raised a very valid point. We are aware of methodological issues, one of which is dealing with repeated replies.
When we published the surveys, we had two options:
a) Use the provision offered by the hosting company to block repeated replies using IP addresses. This, however, will block legitimate use of the same computer, such as in our laboratory, where numerous participants use the same PCs.
b) Not to block multiple replies and allow for the possibility of repeated replies when evaluating the data.
We chose option b), which was more practical in our situation.
I took the liberty of attaching an paper by Whitehead (2007) [SM - see here], addressing some of these issues.
What their method does is remove repeat respondents attempting to vote stuff the survey with identical responses, but it does nothing to exclude participation within your own organization (UWA) where departments might run network proxy portals to reduce bandwidth or to increase network IP availability. These typically present a single IP address.
Lucia discussed the IP issue, and the lack of quality control methodology here.
Without knowing how many respondents came from blogs, and how may came from UWA peers, it pretty much makes this survey and paper useless. Add it to the growing pile of fatal flaws that have been ignored in order to paint climate skeptics as “nutters”.
Tom Fuller summed it up pretty well in this comment at Lewandowsky’s blog:
thomaswfuller at 01:17 AM on 14 September, 2012
The problem is that your mental model (perhaps you should think of it as a Mental Trap of Preconception) caught more warmists believing in conspiracies than skeptics.
More people on your side of the fence believe in conspiracies than do skeptics.
And, Steve McIntyre has shown today in Lewandowsky’s Fake Results that:
Removing the outliers (which removes the most grotesque fake responses, but not all of them), Lewandowsky’s signature conspiracies (MLK, Moon, MLK) – all of which have negligible adherence – are now disproportionally held by warmists.
The problem is (as demonstrated by the multiple taunting missives of the last week from him) Lewandowsky simply doesn’t care about errors, the vote stuffing by pals he invited, or how he’s seen by others. In his mind, since he has already attracted worldwide press attention before the paper has even been published, it’s a case of “mission accomplished” for him.
Even if the paper is retracted or rejected by the journal, it will still be used as a tool to bash climate sceptics, much like the now long debunked 97% of climate scientists myth.
Marc Morano sees it as a case of desperation.
Given the lack of journalistic curiosity these days, I doubt that much in the way of retraction/rejection of the paper in scientific circles will reach the public, but the myth of “skeptics believe the moon landing was faked” will live on even though it has no basis in reality or data. Our best defense is to vociferously complain and point out the multiple fatal flaws any time we see Lewandowsky cited.
The sad part is that Dr. Stephan Lewandowsky has demonstrated himself to be a psychological propagandist, and he’s accomplished what he set out to do, and fake data doesn’t matter to him. It is clearly another case of noble cause corruption where the end justified the means.