Lewandowsky – call your office: Correlation is Meaningless

Readers may recall this survey: A poll to test the Lewandowsky methodology The results are in, which is why we can’t say global warming proponents support pedophilia.

Guest essay by Brandon Schollenberger

They don’t. The fact there is a correlation (0.14) between believing global warming is a serious threat and saying pedophilia is good is meaningless. The fact this correlation is “statistically significant” (at the 99.99% level) is meaningless. Anyone who looks at the data can immediately see the results are bogus (a small jitter value was added to allow us to see the density of responses):

Fig1

There are only 20 or so respondents (out of over 5,000) who claim to believe global warming is a threat and claim to support pedophilia. It’s likely those responses were false. Nobody can seriously claim that proves global warming proponents are pedophiles.

The issue of false responses received a lot of attention with Stephan Lewandowsky’s paper, “NASA faked the moon landing—Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax. In that paper, similarly false responses created spurious correlations. Unfortunately, the focus on false responses meant a more fundamental issue got missed. Namely, the entire idea behind this approach is nonsensical. The approach is like taking the data displayed above and drawing this line:

Fig2

The line fits okay in the bottom left corner where most of the data lies. That means there is positive correlation between the two data sets. However, that corner clearly shows a correlation between thinking pedophilia is bad and being a skeptic. It tells us nothing about global warming proponents or pedophiles. Similarly, when I said global warming proponents support genocide, I was doing this:

Fig3

If we put this in words, the argument is:

Skeptics believe genocide and pedophilia are bad. Global warming proponents are the opposite of skeptics so they must believe genocide and pedophilia are good.

Change a few words, and you have Lewandowsky’s argument for why we should believe skeptics are conspiracy theorists:

Global warming proponents believe the moon landing was real. Skeptics are the opposite of them so they must believe the moon landing was faked.

With this corresponding image:

Fig4

All of these results are “statistically significant.” However, all of these results assume skeptics must hold the opposite view of global warming proponents on all things. Assuming that guarantees the results. We can do that to criticize any group we want. Just follow these simple steps:

1) Ask group X if they think the moon landing was real. They’ll say yes.
2) Assume group Y would answer the opposite way.
3) Conclude group Y believes the moon landing was faked.

You can replace “the moon landing was real” with anything you want. I showed this by doing it with genocide and pedophilia. Had Lewandowsky asked about those, he could have concluded skeptics are pedophiles. He could have probably got it published too. After all, he didn’t do this just once. He published a second paper using the same approach (with a slightly less skewed sample).

And he’s not the only one who uses it. Lewandowsky’s recent paper cites the paper, Dead and alive: Beliefs in contradictory conspiracy theories. That paper argues conspiracy theorists are so loony they’ll accept multiple, contradictory conspiracies. It’s namesake comes from the “statistically significant” correlation between believing Princess Diana and/or Osama Bin Laden was killed in a conspiracy and believing he/she is still alive. The image for this claim would be:

Fig5

The scale in that image is correct. Let it sink in.


There is no justification for this methodology. Even so, three scientific journals have approved of it. Dozens of scientific articles approvingly cite its results. Half a dozen people have been paid papers using it. It has been promoted hundreds of times in the media. It is widely accepted in the global warming debate. It is complete and utter nonsense, but people like the results so they don’t mind.

And if my suspicions are correct, it’s probably been used in many other papers.

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107 thoughts on “Lewandowsky – call your office: Correlation is Meaningless

  1. Is Lewandowsky so stupid that he actually believes that his papers are meaningful, or is he so smart in believing that there are many who are stupid enough to accept his work? I think it is a fundamental tenant of the anointed academics that their personal brilliance is so great, that it is morally acceptable to lie to the ‘ignorant masses’ at will, as long as it is for a ‘good cause’.

    Ironically, the ignorant masses see through this in a heart beat. It is his fellow academics who appear to be persuaded by this garbage.

  2. Wow, it’s amazing that someone has the audacity to a publish such obvious dreck. Even if the methodology was correct (which it is not), a correlation of 0.14 is as close to meaningless as anything I’ve ever seen. Personally, I never believe correlations less than about 0.90. These folks seem deranged.

  3. Bob Tisdale, it was my pleasure! Except for the rewriting part. This is actually the fourth version of the post. I kept trying to find ways to make the mathematical underpinnings of the post interesting for lay readers. That was painful. I’m glad I decided to take a simpler approach.

    Dave, yup. I included genocide in the survey so I’d have something bad to “pin on” warmists, but I always knew I’d use pedophilia as the transition into showing why this approach is despicable. I wanted to show this approach lets you “scientifically prove” the people you dislike are the most vile things you can imagine.

    That is, if we accept this methodology, anyone can be labeled a pedophile via “science.”

  4. Dave says:
    January 23, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Point understood, but pedophilia?
    Really?

    Did not get the point? I’ll spell it out: It’s easy to demonise a sector of society with an abuse of statistics.

    (That sector of society is sceptics, not paedophiles – thought I’d better spell that out for you.)

  5. It’s quite easy to get some subjects from the dense block at the lower left to the block at the upper right. You have always some people who don’t understand the instruction and mark ‘agree very much’ when they mean ‘disagree very much’. Sometimes they are called outliers. BTW, are the significances based on the assumption of normally distributed variables?

  6. Hitler believed in the theory of gravity! That proves that gravity isn’t real.

    I mean, seriously, it seems that warmists will try anything to avoid any discussion of what the actual facts are and what conclusions, if any, can be drawn from those facts. The personality of a believer is not a test for truth. Even if it were true that every single person who denies AGW believed that the moon landing was faked it would have no relevance to whether or not the AWG theory is true.

  7. Mindert Eiting, yup. The fact the data isn’t remotely close to having a normal distribution is actually why one can get “statistically significant” results that are obviously nonsensical. One could use transformations to make the data have a normal distribution then repeat the calculations. The results be wildly different.

    Earlier versions of this post discussed that, but they dragged on too much. I couldn’t find a way to keep people from falling asleep while I explained, mathematically, what the problem was, how one could address it and how doing so would change the results.

  8. It also speaks to the “peer review” process. Clearly the reviewers of such papers either do not possess or choose not to exercise the same level of critical thinking as evident in this straightforward but insightful illustration.

  9. “However, all of these results assume skeptics must hold the opposite view of global warming proponents on all things.”

    Really? It’s worse than I thought, then.

  10. F.A.H., that reminds me of an important point. I discussed the point I made in this post with Michael Wood, author of the last paper I cited in this post. I posted about our exchange here. I challenge anyone to read his responses to me and not be amazed. The part I find most mind-boggling part is when he said:

    This is because we don’t have any reason to believe – either in the case of Diana or this hypothetical abortion study – that there is some discontinuity at the midpoint of the scale that changes the form of the relationship between the two variables (there’s no shortage of examples of people holding mutually contradictory beliefs at the same time), and in fact if we had a larger data set we would by default test for a linear effect anyway.

    He openly acknowledged his results came from one end of the scale but argued that’s okay because we don’t know there’s a discontinuity that changes the relationship between the variables. That’s like someone using the tactic I described in this post then saying, “Well, we don’t know skeptics aren’t pedophiles so it’s okay to use this methodology.”

    He basically admitted the problem then said it isn’t a problem because I can’t prove his baseless assumption false.

  11. jorgekafkazar says:
    January 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    “However, all of these results assume skeptics must hold the opposite view of global warming proponents on all things.”

    Really? It’s worse than I thought, then.
    ———————————————————————————————————–
    Which proves that you’re a warmist, cos that’s what they keep saying.

  12. Brandon gave a more theoretical explanation of the dot analysis here.
    Although the survey was a bit of fun, to demonstrate that Lewandowsky’s correlations were meaningless, the first three questions on opinions on global warming were:-

    1.       Do you believe global warming is a real?
    2.       Do you believe humans are responsible for most global warming?
    3.       Do you believe global warming poses a serious threat?

    The “Moon Landings” paper had referred to the Doran and Zimmerman 2009 opinion survey to show that skeptics were at odds with the consensus of climate scientists. This was the first paper that claimed the magical 97% figure. The two questions asked were:-

    1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
    2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

    Compared with Doran and Zimmerman, Schollenberger
    – Asked about belief in the predicted future climate catastrophe.
    – Allowed for a much larger range of positions, not just agree or disagree.
    In particular from the results of the Schollenberger survey, it is possible to separate the catastrophists from those who believe humans are warming the planet, but see this as a trivial issue.

  13. Brandon Shollenberger:

    Thankyou, that is a clear, insightful and cogent explanation of the flaws in the analytical method used by Lewandowsky.

    Please submit a paper explaining those flaws to the journal ‘Psychological Science’ which published the Lew. paper.

    Richard

  14. Jim Clarke says: January 23, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Is Lewandowsky so stupid that he actually believes that his papers are meaningful, or is he so smart in believing that there are many who are stupid enough to accept his work?

    I think you should read Steve McIntyre’s post More False Claims from Lewandowsky to answer the question for yourself.

  15. richardscourtney, I’ve considered that, but I believe I’d have to pay a fee if Psychological Science was publishing it. I don’t like the idea of spending my money that way. Part of it is simple finances. I’m not getting paid to do this. Paying to publish would mean I’m losing not just time, but money.

    But the biggest part is they screwed up, badly. They shouldn’t get to make money off forcing people to do work to correct their screwups. The only way I could see wanting to publish with them is if they gave a waiver of any and all fees. Otherwise, I’d want to publish somewhere else.

  16. Henry Bowman says: @ January 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Wow, it’s amazing that someone has the audacity to a publish such obvious dreck….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    It is even more amazing that Stephan Lewandowsky not only got his papers using this method peer-reviewed but the mass media then used the papers to paint skeptics as lunatic conspiracy nuts.

    Brandon Schollenberger does a beautiful job of satirizing Lewandowsky’s method and results by turning the tables on him and the Warmists.

  17. Brandon, this was both the most outrageous (in the raging use of the term) and hysterically funny article I have read in a looong while. Have you really found that many “scientific” journals who support this nonsense?

    Many Thanks.

  18. Brandon Shollenberger:

    Thankyou for the reply to me which you provide to me at January 23, 2014 at 4:05 pm.

    OK. I understand that and it makes sense. Please let me know if I can help with publication elsewhere.

    Richard

  19. “Skeptics believe genocide and pedophilia are bad. Global warming proponents are the opposite of skeptics so they must believe genocide and pedophilia are good.”

    Obviously you can’t assume the two groups have no overlapping beliefs and just ‘invert’ beliefs like that. I’m pretty sure that’s not what Lewandowsky does though. It’s hard to tell because I found his paper to somewhat hard to follow (what is his ‘Loading’ variable for example. Weighting? Normalization factor?)

    I downloaded and looked at the data myself in a way I can understand and there does seem to be obvious group correlations. This shouldn’t really be surprising or alarming though and I see no point in attacking it. It’s not imaginary, it’s not a figment of data processing, the relationship is there, but so what? For example, few would deny the relationship between CAGW belief and belief in the value of economic freedom (or freedom in general). It’s a pretty obvious and strong correlation. Every group has it’s fringe. Some on the left probably are more tolerant of pedophilia as was evidenced by the defense of Roman Polanski a couple of years ago. Those who suspect deception in every government statement and action (conspiracy theorists) are more likely to think global warming is a nefarious plot as well. That’s hardly surprising. These belief clusters do exist. It’s real. Again though, so what?

    Lewandowsky and many others in the climate community are being childish by even going down this route. It’s an attempt to stereotype everyone in a group as being fringe by identifying that a group does have some fringe. It’s equivalent to saying “crime is highly correlated with black people, therefore blacks are criminals.” Statically, blacks do commit more crimes per individual, but to make such a blanket statement about ALL blacks is clearly illogical and racist. The same goes for labeling ALL skeptics. It’s a game unworthy of playing.

  20. i do not know if this is relevant, but in the world of natural resources, all observations in one particular deposit should fit a log normal distribution. if they don’t, then the data is almost certain to be fraudulent.

    Is that relevant in any way in regards to Lewandowsky’s ‘research’ findings?

  21. Well, as I have pointed out before, statistical mathematics is a rigorous, and exact mathematical discipline, just like trigonometry, or Euclidean plane geometry . Text books define and explain the various and sundry concepts of statistics, from means and quartiles, to standard deviations, and confidence levels.

    These are all defined properties of ANY data set of already exactly known elements or numbers; they are tabulated in the data set.

    The numbers in the data set, could be calculated rigorously from some closed form algebraic equation, or they can be numbers, no two of which are related to each other in any way. They could be the weights of pieces of concrete being carted away from a recently imploded building site.

    The results of any statistical analysis, of any of these completely known data sets, are equally valid, if the algorithms were applied correctly in all cases. They are an intrinsic property of that data set.

    And, they can tell you exactly nothing, about anything else not in that data set; nor can they predict ANYTHING, that is not already known.

    Statistics, is just about as enlightening, as contemplating the lint in your navel ! But it is still a rigorous branch of mathematics.

  22. Ian Schumacher, why are you “pretty sure that’s not what Lewandowsky does”? I demonstrated that’s exactly what his methodology does. He may not intentionally assume that, but his methodology does. You can do that by calculating the source of the correlations. I’ve posted an example of that (with Wood’s paper instead of Lewandowsky’s). You can do the same with any of the data sets.

    Peter Miller, that is relevant. Simple correlation tests like those being discussed here assume a normal (multivariate) distribution. It doesn’t indicate fraud when the data isn’t, but it does indicate the tests are inappropriate. One would normally try to transform the data to fit that distribution before applying such tests.

  23. David, UK says:
    January 23, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    … I’ll spell it out: It’s easy to demonise a sector of society with an abuse of statistics.

    (That sector of society is sceptics, not paedophiles – thought I’d better spell that out for you.)

    Heh.

    I’m glad you cleared it up, David. I know people who would not want to see any poor misguided pedophiles demonized by association with vile CAGW skeptics like me.

  24. I often refer to our politicians as “elected magicians” because of the way they can put a spin, twist or manipulate situations to make it sound like they and their positions are the right ones for you to support.
    This is how the world works. Billions are spent effectively advertising products to consumers that pays off handsomely because consumers……….and voters can be tricked into believing something that sounds convincing.
    Most people don’t have the actual data needed or analytical skills to interpret it in fields that they are not experts on………….so, they trust the experts that sell the best sounding/most convincing and appealing sounding position, slogan or products.

    But very often, this can only work for so long. If you pay good money for a piece of shiiit, after it conks out, you realize it was a piece of shiiit.
    If you elect sometbody that makes a bunch of promises and………….never mind on that one, somehow politicians aren’t held to very high standards.

    However, regarding the global warming/climate change scare that was based on numerous very convincing sounding statements, positions, predictions and proposed costly solutions(some already in effect) time has already run out. Even faithful, brainwashed followers of global warming religion will be/are now having a hard time not seeing they bought a big piece of climate shiiiit.

  25. Edit: have been paid papers have been paid [for] papers

    Sceptics prefer oranges. Therefore Believers prefer to suck lemons. Or is it vice versa?

  26. it’s all down to the Finance Ministers now!

    24 Jan: Guardian Economics Blog: Lord Stern: I should have been fiercer in climate change review
    Global temperatures are set to be 4-5C higher in the next century and governments are fooling themselves if they think this will only have a modest impact on their economies, says Stern
    Posted by Larry Elliott in Davos
    Stern is in Davos beating the drum for an organisation called the New Climate Economy, headed by the former president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón. Its aim is persuade finance ministers rather than simply environment ministers that tackling climate change should be a top priority.
    This makes sense. Finance ministers hold the purse strings and dictate economic policy. They are much higher up the political food chain than environment ministers…
    Secondly, he says that someone is going to win the green race and at the moment the likeliest candidate is China…
    Finally, Stern says things have moved on in the eight years since his review. “I would have been much fiercer”, he says.
    ***“Emissions have gone up faster than I thought and some of the effects of global warming are coming through more quickly, such as melting of the glaciers and the polar ice caps. But technical change has been faster too.”…

    http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2014/jan/23/lord-stern-climate-change-review-davos

  27. What are we really sceptic about?
    The basis for the CAGW idea is the political decided UNFCCC.

    Would it not be smarter to label ourself as UNFCCC sceptics?

  28. READ ALL: 23 Jan: World Bank: World Bank Group President: This Is the Year of Climate Action
    Story Highlights:
    At the World Economic Forum in Davos, President Jim Yong Kim called for a price on carbon, requiring companies to disclose their climate risk exposure, and greater investment in green bonds in the fight against climate change…
    Kim also called for doubling the market for green bonds, which support climate adaptation and mitigation projects such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and carbon reduction, to $20 billion this year and $50 billion by the time a new international climate agreement is reached in Paris in 2015. He urged institutional investors to commit to green bonds targets in their portfolios…

    http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2014/01/23/davos-world-bank-president-carbon-pricing

    23 Jan: Blue&GreenTomorrow: ‘This is the year to fight climate change’, World Bank president tells finance world at Davos
    However, Kim stressed that financial leaders must also lead sustainability efforts.
    “The so called long-term investors must recognise their fiduciary responsibility to future pension holders who will be affected by decisions made today”, he said.
    “Corporate leaders should not wait to act until market signals are right and national investment policies are in place. Be the first mover. Use smart due diligence. Rethink what fiduciary responsibility means, in this changing world. It’s simple self interest.”
    He added, “Every company, investor and bank that screens new and existing investments for climate risks is simply being pragmatic.”
    Kim also called on financial regulators to enforce disclosure of climate risks, requiring companies and financial institutions to assess their exposure to climate related impacts…
    The World Bank president called for the use of green bonds, as described in the Green Bond Principles released this month, to “expand the universe of investors who are investing in green assets”, and called on institutional investors to “commit to purchasing specific significant amounts of green bonds for their portfolios.” …

    http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/2014/01/23/this-is-the-year-to-fight-climate-change-world-bank-president-tells-finance-world-at-davos/

  29. I sent an e-mail to both Stephan Lewandowsky and Michael Wood to notify them of this post. Based on my previous exchanges with them, I don’t expect a response, but it’ll be interesting to see if they say or do anything.

  30. Lewandowsky is the Paris Hilton of the “science” world. Not really good at anything except getting his name in the spotlight.

  31. Brandon Shollenberger,

    I’ll take your word for it. Unfortunately for me, Lewandowsky’s paper is a bit like jumping into the middle of a conversation and in some real sense, because he relies on a lot of previous work, I guess it is. I’m not familiar with structural-equation modeling (SEM) at all and since this paper relies heavily on it, I’m kind of lost.

    I do believe though that there are ‘clusters’, which I think are the best way to look at it (although maybe that’s just because I understand that approach) ;-)

    Either way, one is likely to find real correlation. I guess that’s my concern. We may be attacking Lewandowsky’s method when even a proper approach would still identify that, yes indeed, people that believe in conspiracy theories are also more likely to believe CAGW is a hoax. That is just a statistical reality. Both sides have their fringe members to be sure (there are more than enough in the world to go around). The fallacy is in then implying ALL skeptics should be treated as though they are fringe members. I would hope that fallacy is pretty obvious to all and so doesn’t really warrant refutation. I doubt even those that use this argument believe it themselves. They just want to annoy their ideological opponents ;-)

  32. I think I’ve permanently sworn off answering any poll that does not include a “your question is based on a flawed premise” response.

  33. Amazing stuff Brandon. Thanks.

    I had the opportunity to watch what real science and research can do [tonight]. I watched the atlas [rocket] launch at 9:33 eastern time. Amazing stuff, and confirmed by observation through technical scruitiny. Unlike Mr. LEW’S products of science by proxy.

  34. Eric Worral said “Is it possible Lewandowski is so stupid he actually believes in the validity of his technique?”. I say “given what we know about how the “survey” was constructed, undertaken, and “analysed”, how the heck can anyone answer “Yes” to Eric’s question? Given the number of steps taken to achieve the result, surely this has to be the work of one or more persons acting with a purpose (e.g. to create a powerful piece of “disinformation”), rather than honest, scientific research?

  35. Also, as a side note, a lot of responses assume people’s positions are thought out on a rational basis, even if the rationale ifs flawed.

    A surprising number of people live on the “my team vs your team” basis, or “tribalism” to put it another way.

    Roman Polanski was a member of the Hollywood Tribe, I don’t think most of his supporters spent much more time than that thinking about it. Some surely did, some surely didn’t, but my limited expose indicates the latter is more common.

  36. What was the basis for the political decided UNFCCC?
    Was it not claims from environmentalists(Greenpeace, WWF etc)? And they still are very central in the whole UNFCCC scheme.
    Bjørn Lomborg’s book “The Sceptical Environmentalist” raised some serious questions about the scientific basis for most of the scary stories the environmentalist have given us the last 40 years.

    So we might call us after 40 years of doom, sceptical of environmentalist doom?

  37. Merovign,

    Yes, there is a lot of unthinking tribalism. Supporting those on ‘your side’ without really knowing what it is you are actually supporting. Good point. I see that a lot here as well ;-)

  38. A number of people have wondered if Stephan Lewandowsky could have been stupid enough to have believed his methodology was appropriate. It’s an interesting question. Lewandowsky might argue it shows conspiratorial ideation, especially when people go beyond just asking like BoyfromTottenham did:

    Eric Worral said “Is it possible Lewandowski is so stupid he actually believes in the validity of his technique?”. I say “given what we know about how the “survey” was constructed, undertaken, and “analysed”, how the heck can anyone answer “Yes” to Eric’s question? Given the number of steps taken to achieve the result, surely this has to be the work of one or more persons acting with a purpose (e.g. to create a powerful piece of “disinformation”), rather than honest, scientific research?

    I believe the answer is unquestionably yes. It is possible for someone to be stupid enough to use this methodology and not see any problems. It is also possible for a person to be so close-minded they blind themselves to problems with this methodology. There are few limits to stupidity or self-delusion. What I find more interesting is, should we assume one of those explanations?

    Is it kinder to assume stupidity and the like, or is it kinder to assume dishonesty? I think the former is far more likely, but it seems more offensive.

  39. Brandon Shollenberger says:

    January 23, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    I sent an e-mail to both Stephan Lewandowsky and Michael Wood to notify them of this post. Based on my previous exchanges with them, I don’t expect a response, but it’ll be interesting to see if they say or do anything.
    =========================
    Why would anyone touch this with a 10 foot pole ??
    Unbelievable, that it got posted.

  40. Ian Schumacher, a remark I made when I first began discussing the results of my survey may help:

    Quick note, Stephan Lewandowsky built upon correlation matrices like mine by using factor analysis and structural-equation modeling (SEM). These cannot change observed patterns; they can only tease out additional ones. I am not replicating those steps.

    The terminology you’re uncertain about is basically irrelevant. Anything that is true for basic correlation matrices will be true for his paper as a whole.

    As for whether or not “a proper approach” would get the same results, it is easy to check whether or not one would not with the data used. I did that with Michael Wood’s data. The same test could be done with Lewandowsky’s (one of my links shows Steve McIntyre doing it with the moon landing result). It’s easy to check what data is responsible for any correlations that are found. It is theoretically possible one could collect data which showed the same conclusions, but the data these people used definitely does not justify their conclusions.

    And if you’re only talking about fringe elements, it’s highly unlikely one could get a large enough response rate from them to actually identify them.

  41. u.k.(us), I understand you may think the use of the word pedophilia makes a post unworthy of being published. I don’t think you’ll find many people agree. I think most people judge posts by the material in them, not whether or not they use a particular word.

    If you have a problem with me pointing out a methodology commonly accepted by global warming proponents is such that we could use it to label literally anybody a pedophile, please tell me what it is. If you don’t, but instead are just bothered by the word pedophile, I think you’ve made your point and can leave.

  42. Brandon –

    Let me point out that global warming alarmists DO, in effect, believe mass murder (genocide) is good, on several counts, and I am not just talking about those who explicitly want to drastically reduce the population of the Earth.

    Policies touted by global warming alarmists have been demonstrated to result in millkions of needless deaths and untold suffering. Carbon taxes made some 33,000 Britons unable to afford to heat their homes in the winter of 2013, with the result that they died of hypothermia. The ethanol program diverted enough corn from food supplies that food grains became unaffordable or unavailable in Third World countries, with some 2,000,000 dead from starvation in sub-Saharan Africa, and even some in Mexico. And this is A-OK with alarmists – I dare them to deny it. They will just say it’s “for the cause.”

    Not only is there 100 percent correlation between global warming alarmism and mass murder, there is positive, unarguable, specific, direct causation. Global warming alarmism is MASS MURDER, period.

    These people are like my former history professor colleague who was forever singing the praises of the Soviet system, bleating about how it was so much more efficient and humane than the US. When I confronted him about the 80 million people murdered by Stalin, his response was, “Well, that was a necessary step in reforming society.”

    Global warming alarmists are saying the same thing: mass murder is a “necessary step” in “saving the planet”.

  43. Brandon Schollenberger, congratulations on a brilliant set of scatter plot visualization of the dataset. A first class use of jitter. One I’ll remember.

    I suggest this improvement in your article and future paper:
    Let’s assume that researchers have fooled themselves by looking at the correlation coefficient matrix from the raw data.

    So, before you get to the scatter plots, play it straight and show the same tables in the same format as Lewandowski used. Show how you can generate bizarre correlations with a few lines of R code.

    Then hit your readers between the eyes with the scatter plots.

    The goal will be to build a list of papers whose authors committed the blunder and editors who accepted the papers.

    Then end with, “Don’t let this happen to you.”

    ———————
    I wish I could come up with a few bullet points of how to avoid correlation pitfalls short of eschewing correlation on ordinal data entirely. Hopefully some survey statisticians will chime in with some sage advice.

    One pitfall to avoid in ordinal correlation:

    Spearman rank correlation test does not make any assumptions about the distribution. The assumptions of Spearman rho correlation are that data must be at least ordinal and scores on one variable must be montonically related to the other variable. – (statisticsolutions.com)

    It would seem that any survey violates this assumption in spades. One person’s correlation between X and Y might be monotonic, but every person in the survey has a different correlation, possibly with different sign.

  44. Chad Wozniak, I don’t agree with your comment, but I don’t think that’s important for this post. However, you do show the danger of this approach. We can use it to get results which are utterly absurd (warmists think they’ve seen Bigfoot), but they wouldn’t be accepted by anyone.

    The danger is this approach lets us get results which aren’t necessarily crazy. If we genuinely believe something to be true, we can use this approach to “prove” it. That’s what likely happened with Stephan Lewandowsky. He came up with an idea that wasn’t obviously wrong then tested it with a methodology guaranteed to confirm his beliefs.

    I intentionally chose the topic of genocide because I knew some people would believe the results unless explicitly warned not to. The hope was it would be a lesson for all sides.

  45. “And if you’re only talking about fringe elements, it’s highly unlikely one could get a large enough response rate from them to actually identify them.”

    I’m not as optimistic. We’ve all seen the stories how 30% (or some similar high number) of Americans think dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth at the same time, or 30% (pick you select source high number) believe 9/11 was an inside job and so on. With that large base to draw from I think they could definitely be a factor. Just as there is a not-insignificant fringe of environmentalist that support genocide (didn’t you write an article about that), there is also a not-insignificant fringe of skeptics that believes 9/11 was an inside job. Ca La Vie.

    A non-mathematical problem with this survey and all like it though is that “people lie”. How many people would actually admit to supporting genocide, or pedophilia! If you are a conspiracy theorist aren’t you going to be at least a little paranoid about getting a knock on your door from men in black suits? ;-) Or if you support CAGW and you can sense the real purpose for this poll (and I think you’d have to be an idiot not to know it was destined for use as propaganda), might you lie in other areas to support your team? I would think so. If anything I suspect the ‘outrageous’ question responses are biased towards socially acceptable answers. Being a conspiracy theorist is one of the less outrageous labels on the survey.

  46. Actually now that I think about it. Wouldn’t some people be quite likely to do a ‘false flag’ operations and answer outrageously as if from the ‘other team’. Sounds like something I might even do (in the opposite direction of course).

  47. Stephen Rasey, I don’t deserve much credit for the use of jitter. I was looking for a way to just create circles whose size was proportional to number of responses. I just stumbled across this idea when using Google to try to figure out the other.

    As for your recommendation, I actually toyed with the idea. I generated a fairly crude rough draft of a document showing skeptics are racists. I even managed to relate the recent “Dark Money” argument into it. I decided to abandon it because I figured nobody would believe it.

    It’s not that they couldn’t have been fooled by it. I just would have needed to hide my association with it to do so. Since my name was tied directly to the survey, that wasn’t possible. Plus it would have involved waiting around a lot. I didn’t want that. Lewandowsky’s work has already been accepted for long enough.

    As for doing surveys properly, you highlight the major concern. To address that, one should check the distribution of the data to make sure it matches that required by the tests being used (this step includes looking for outliers, skew and other potential issues). In most cases, if it does, you can be confident your tests gave meaningful results.

    Mark Bofill, thanks!

  48. Ian Schumaker, I did write a post about people supporting genocide. It was facetious. I did as part of my effort to show what this post shows – this methodology generates bogus results.

    As for your thoughts about untruthful responses, that’s a major problem with surveys. I suspect it’s a major factor in the stories you mention. A group of researchers recently announced their estimation of the homosexuality rate in high school students was likely greatly overstated because of people giving false answers. The same is probably true of those. I know I’ve given bogus responses like that to surveys before.

    Anyway, checking for correlation between answers to questions pretty much doesn’t work unless the effect you’re examining is strong. There are too many confounding factors otherwise.

  49. Dan in Nevada says:
    January 23, 2014 at 3:49 pm
    So some warmists aren’t genocidal pedophiles?
    ======================================
    Some, but, they insist that we exercise tolerance and inclusiveness towards the ones that are.

  50. “Eric Worral said “Is it possible Lewandowski is so stupid he actually believes in the validity of his technique?”. I say “given what we know about how the “survey” was constructed, undertaken, and “analysed”, how the heck can anyone answer “Yes” to Eric’s question? Given the number of steps taken to achieve the result, surely this has to be the work of one or more persons acting with a purpose (e.g. to create a powerful piece of “disinformation”), rather than honest, scientific research?”

    I see it more, in a time climate is not conform to the UNFCCC, as provocation, distractions, establishing political correctness around UNFCCC, give the dog a bad name and let it hang, etc…
    Don’t waste your time trying to understand policy based studies?

  51. Brandon Shollenberger says:

    January 23, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    ……”If you have a problem with me pointing out a methodology commonly accepted by global warming proponents is such that we could use it to label literally anybody a pedophile, please tell me what it is. If you don’t, but instead are just bothered by the word pedophile, I think you’ve made your point and can leave.”
    ============
    I’ve been here for years now, not going anywhere soon.

    I’ve seen your likes, come and go many times.
    It is a bother, but, it usually doesn’t last long.
    I think I’ll stay.

  52. @Brandon Shollenberger at 8:08 pm
    As for your recommendation, I actually toyed with the idea.

    I think I need to clarify my suggestion. I did not mean for you to change the questions. What I thought I was suggesting was that you first show the correlation matrix of YOUR question responses in the same way and same format as Lewandowski did.

    In the main post above, you went straight to the scatter plots which makes clear the nonsense of any meaningful correlation. Correlation designed in the question

    The lesson to be delivered to the reader is the correlation matrix out of your favorite statistical program might deliver a corelation coefficient with a sign confirming your hunch while the scatter plot says bupkis. So you need to show the misleading matrix first. Better to show a plausible correlation matrix first. Then show a absurd correlation matrix. The lift the veil on the scatter plots.

  53. Brandon Shollenberger says:
    January 23, 2014 at 4:05 pm
    richardscourtney, I’ve considered that, but I believe I’d have to pay a fee if Psychological Science was publishing it. I don’t like the idea of spending my money that way. Part of it is simple finances. I’m not getting paid to do this. Paying to publish would mean I’m losing not just time, but money.
    But the biggest part is they screwed up, badly. They shouldn’t get to make money off forcing people to do work to correct their screwups. The only way I could see wanting to publish with them is if they gave a waiver of any and all fees. Otherwise, I’d want to publish somewhere else.

    Brandon,
    Perhaps you might reconsider publishing in Psych Science? If money to pay the fees is an issue, this is a forum that can readily generate modest sums for worthy projects that clearly refute crapstack science.
    Mac

  54. Good morning, Brandon. I’m back late because of time zones. Let me reiterate a point I already made. A basic shortcoming of this research is that you do not know whether there is a relationship between what people think and their reponses to your questionaire. In better research each question is at least asked twice in different formats. Next, reliabilities of the items can be estimated. Because it is so important, I would ask the genocide question at least four times in other wordings and formats.

    I am one of your subjects but I am sure you do not know that I often think that my left hand is my right hand. So it may happen that I mark ‘agree very much’ at the left whereas I should have marked the opposite at the right. It is possible that I am one of your outliers. You also can get extreme outliers because of jokers who do this on purpose.

    You don’t have evidence in your study, I appreciate very much, that you have measured any opinions at least reliably.

  55. “He came up with an idea that wasn’t obviously wrong then tested it with a methodology guaranteed to confirm his beliefs.” That particular modus operandi seems to be endemic in post-normal science, from the Hockey Stick onwards.

  56. An object lesson that while non-correlation always implies non-causation, correlation does not of itself imply causation. There’s just no way of getting around this!

    Perhaps of more interest: I rather agree with the Lew Paper to the extent it notes a correlation between a “laissez-faire conception of free-market economics” (which I take to mean right-ish wing political views) and “rejection of climate science” (in the Lew Paper sense).

    Why is it this – is there actually some causal process here?

  57. Re my last: perhaps my question can be better formulated “Why is it this – is there actually some causal process here (other than just aspiration to achieve political ends)?

  58. Randy says:
    January 23, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    They’re pop scientists that live in a pop culture. There’s nothing else to say.

    They’re Mod Scientists!

  59. So pedophilia is wicked? Come on, people, what’s so awful about a harmless foot fetish? It may not be exactly a standard deviation, but in Australia “footie” is enjoyed by hundreds of thousand of people.
    Maybe millions..

  60. TimC says:
    January 24, 2014 at 2:04 am

    An object lesson that while non-correlation always implies non-causation, correlation does not of itself imply causation. There’s just no way of getting around this!

    Perhaps of more interest: I rather agree with the Lew Paper to the extent it notes a correlation between a “laissez-faire conception of free-market economics” (which I take to mean right-ish wing political views) and “rejection of climate science” (in the Lew Paper sense).

    “Why is it this – is there actually some causal process here (other than just aspiration to achieve political ends)?

    See here:
    Chris H says:
    September 10, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    “To a limited degree Dessler is right in saying that opposition to big government and climate scepticism go together. However, his implication that the one determines the other is incorrect. As Melanie Phillips points out in her book “The World Turned Upside Down”, the liberal left mindset predisposes to a set of values that is in favour of AGW, “green” issues and big government….

    “In contrast, those on the right tend to be more pragmatic and look at what works and consider the evidence. As a consequence, AGW scepticism and opposition to the current US government … will go together without one “causing” the other.”

    ==============
    Roger Knights:

    If Global Warming Didn’t Exist, It Would Be Necessary to Invent It:

    … To lift climatology out of its backwater status …
    … To increase research funding for Academia …
    … To justify the de facto political empowerment of a sector of the scientific / academic elite, setting a precedent for the subsequent empowerment of other sectors of that elite.*
    … To refresh the raison d’être of the EPA & UN …
    … To move environmentalism from the fringes to the center of social concern …
    … To justify increased media coverage of environmental issues …
    … To give enviro-groups a powerful fund-raising and consciousness-raising tool …
    … and allow them access to the levers of national and international power …
    … To give activist & green parties a vote-getting wedge issue …
    … and a case-study justification for their habitual “hammer” (increased regulation and taxation) …
    … To provide at-a-loss “engagé/enragé” types with a new stick with which to bash the beastly bourgeoise…
    … To transfer wealth from the West to the South …
    … To fund alternative energy developers and researchers …

    (* See Pareto on “the circulation of the elites.”)

    So why not “warm” to global warming, if you’re:

    … a climatologist?
    … a bigshot in a boffins’ brigade?
    … a university administrator?
    … an environmentalist?
    … an environmental reporter?
    … an official of an environmental organization?
    … a UN official?
    … a socialist?
    … a natural-born “true believer”?
    … a country in the global South?
    … a worker or investor in an alternative energy company?

    For such as those, what’s not to like about “climatism”? It’s all upside—a gravy train that’s glory-bound. It would be tempting to get aboard, wouldn’t it? (Especially after your peers did so, threatening to leave you alone on The Wrong Side.)

  61. I vividly remember my very first stats lesson at college (more years ago than I care to remember) where the lecturer asked us to work through the amount of manure farmers produce compared to the number of cars sold. He then asked if we thought there was any meaningful correlation (of course, there was, but it wasn’t meaningful).

    It was a good lesson to learn; it stood me in good stead in later years when I read the Lew papers and realised my lesson in manure stats was not wasted.

  62. rogerknights says “So why not “warm” to global warming, if you’re ….a climatologist? … a bigshot in a boffins’ brigade? … a university administrator? (et al).

    Thanks, but I think the “warming” process you described is more of a reasoned political calculation than what I had in mind.

    I’m looking for people’s out of-the-box instinctive reaction when they first heard the suggestion that increasing levels of CO2 causes GW. My immediate reaction was along the lines “that can’t be right – the planet’s too large, the human species too small and the system (orbiting our massive local star and with the planet’s molten core beneath us) has run in stable cycles whatever might have happened within a mile or so of the surface”. But a great mate of mine (a PhD and uni lecturer) says (I paraphrase) “it’s happening, it’s going to get much worse..” – the difference being our political views, and I’ve often noticed that first reactions seem to correlate with political views.

  63. Global warming proponents believe the moon landing was real. Skeptics are the opposite of them so they must believe the moon landing was faked.
    =============
    “Skeptics are the opposite” is of course false. Skeptics believe the opposite on some issues, not all issues.

    This logical argument confuses people because the structure of argument itself is logically valid. But the conclusion is false because one of the premises is false.

  64. pat says: @ January 23, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    it’s all down to the Finance Ministers now!
    24 Jan: Guardian Economics Blog: Lord Stern: I should have been fiercer in climate change review…

    http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2014/jan/23/lord-stern-climate-change-review-davos

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    At the top of the present comment list is this nasty bit:

    curiousaltruistic
    23 January 2014 3:22pm
    The only meaningful way forward with climate change is to work towards making ‘opposition to and denial of the need for drastic action to limit anthropogenic climate change’ is to make such intransigence and anti-science denial a ‘crime against humanity and the biosphere’. Owen Paterson, would do you think ? Gideon Osborne, what do you think ?

    This is the problem with the crap that people like Lewandowsky put out. Skeptics are not seen as scientists with opposing views but as lunatics and criminals. They are deliberately inciting the mob to riot and kill.

  65. Gail Combs, I posted this reply on the Guardian:
    ___

    The only meaningful way forward with climate change is to work towards making ‘opposition to and denial of the need for drastic action to limit anthropogenic climate change’ is to make such intransigence and anti-science denial a ‘crime against humanity and the biosphere’.

    So freedom of speech is to be abandoned then?
    But then who will tell you when you are wrong? No-one is infallible.
    How can we gain an understanding of why the climate models have failed if we don’t allow anyone to ask the question?
    ___
    Interesting to see if it is censored or not in the context.

  66. Stephen Rasey, I see. I think I misunderstood because I did do what you seem to be describing. My initial post discussing my results was this one (republished on a couple sites, including this one). It claimed global warming proponents support genocide (and think they’ve never been wrong).

    I then wrote another post which was primarily focused on making replication of my results convenient, but concluded global warming proponents believe they’ve been abducted by aliens. That led to my favorite post, which began:

    I’d like to offer an olive branch to global warming proponents. I realize I offended some when I said they support genocide. I also realize people who believe they’ve been abducted by aliens get laughed at a lot. I didn’t mean to pile on. Let’s try to get past our differences and resolve things by recognizing some basic facts.

    1) Skeptics are conspiracy theorists.
    2) Global warming proponents believe they’ve been abducted by aliens.

    One side believes global warming is real and aliens are visiting Earth. The other side believes humans aren’t causing dangerous amounts of global warming and believes in conspiracies. Why not compromise? I propose we all agree to the following position:

    Dangerous amounts of global warming are happening, but it’s not caused by humans. It’s the results of an alien conspiracy to terraform Earth into something more habitable for their kind.

    The point of my series of posts was to begin with a remotely plausible correlation then move on to less and less believable results, eventually culminating in results nobody would believe. Unless I’m misunderstanding you, that’s largely what you had in mind.

  67. Mac the Knife:

    Brandon,
    Perhaps you might reconsider publishing in Psych Science? If money to pay the fees is an issue, this is a forum that can readily generate modest sums for worthy projects that clearly refute crapstack science.
    Mac

    It’s possible I will. There are a lot of issues that go into publication choices. One of the largest issues is the problem with Lewandowsky’s work is he applied statistical methodlogies to data that didn’t fit the the requirements of those methodologies. It’s an incredibly basic mistake.

    Those can be the hardest things to publish about. When a mistake is that simple, it’s hard to show a discussion of it is worthwhile. The initial reaction is, “Yeah, but that’s such a stupid thing to do, nobody needs to be told not to do it.”

    Anyway, I don’t know. I’ll have to look into publication options some. I’m not even sure what (if any?) fees I’d have to pay with that journal. I can just think of things I’d much rather do with the money!

  68. Mindert Eiting, there’s actually no inherent reason to believe asking a question multiple times produces results which more accurately or precisely represent the respondent’s view. Reliability ratings barely help since they only tell you how consistent a response is.

    I’ve discussed this issue a bit in relation to Lewandowsky’s latest paper. How should one feel if 20% or more of the data for a survey is inherently contradictory? As in, if one in five people give responses than cannot logically be true, can we really say the additional questions gave us more information? How do we know they didn’t mostly just introduce noise (especially by reducing data quality)? How do we know their combination reflects the view we’re interested in?

    Using multiple questions can certainly help. However, it is not inherently better. For example, the 200+ question survey I took in high school would have gotten much more accurate results from me and my friends if it had only been 50 questions long. Instead, it got a bunch of joke responses from us. There’s no telling how our answers would impact any attempt to combine questions.

    As with most things, an approach being more sophisticated does not mean it is better. It may be, but one should demonstrate it is before adding the complexity. At the very least, one needs to test that the combination of results gives a coherent picture.

    I’m mostly pointing this out because Lewandowsky’s second paper abused the use of multiple questions. It did stupid stuff. One of the weirder examples is it had a “balanced” question set by having reverse scored questions, but not an even amount. If one believes there is a bias, using reverse scored questions is silly if the number of them is different (and you don’t do some other test to check their effect). The paper also used an outdated question set and arbitrarily modified one it took from one of its sources. They didn’t even test to see if any questions were outliers (one was).

    There’s no particular reason to believe that would produce more meaningful results than my simple approach.

  69. BoyfromTottenham says: @ January 23, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    ……Given the number of steps taken to achieve the result, surely this has to be the work of one or more persons acting with a purpose (e.g. to create a powerful piece of “disinformation”), rather than honest, scientific research?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    “Polls” are used as political weapons all the time.

    After the 2010 elections in the USA a poll was specifically designed to defame the Tea Party (I am not a member BTW) This poll was then broadcast far and wide by the Mass Media to show the Tea Party was a party of racist whites. It is still used today and has pretty much killed the Tea Party as a threat to the two party system. This one poll with the willing aid of journalists was a very effective weapon against the emergence of a third party in the USA.

    The Tea Party is for reducing the size of the federal government. That is one of the main reasons they came into being. The other is they are opposed to raising taxes. The name means:
    Tax
    Enough
    Already
    Party

    A set of questions in a poll was asked:
    The answers are divided into, Tea Party Whites = TP and Non-Tea Party Whites = OW

    The ‘Non-Tea Party Whites’ would include whites who were democrats. Rassmusen finds that 41% of Likely U.S. Voters would vote for the Democrat and thirty-five percent (35%) would choose the Republican in the Congressional Ballot in November. Democrats are for big government in general so you are comparing a population that is around 40% or more for big government to a population that is close to 100% against big government and against more taxes. In that light the findings are rather surprising.

    Blair-Rockefeller Poll: Tea Party Distinguished by Racial Views and Fear of the Future

    TABLE 2. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TEA PARTY WHITES & NON-TEA PARTY WHITES NATIONWIDE
    Do you think it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that minorities have job equality with Whites, even if it means you will have to pay more taxes? (not the responsibility of the federal government)
    TP = 84.5% …… OW = 66.9%

    Do you think it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that minorities have schools equal in quality to Whites, even if it means you have to pay more taxes? (not the responsibility of the federal government)
    TP = 69.3% …… OW = 46.2%

    Do you think it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that minorities have housing equal in quality to Whites, even if it means you have to pay more taxes? (not the responsibility of the federal government)
    TP = 83.0% …… OW = 63.4%

    Do you think it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that minorities have health care services equal to Whites, even if it means you have to pay more taxes? (not the responsibility of the federal government)
    TP = 81.4% …… OW = 53.2%

    Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: We have gone too far in pushing equal rights in this country? (strongly agree or agree)
    TP = 62.8% …… OW = 39.4%
    [NOTE: The USA gives unqualified minorities an advantage over qualified white males esp. in government jobs/contracts. It is the opposite of 'equality' The following question and answer shows many understand this difference.]

    Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Our society should do whatever is necessary to make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. (strongly disagree or disagree)
    TP = 30.7% OW = 12.3%

    Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President? (strongly disapprove)
    TP = 69.3% OW = 19.0%
    [NOTE: The same question should have been asked about Bush as a control]

    Even though Tea Party members are against big government and against more taxes only 30.7% disagree with the statement “Our society should do whatever is necessary to make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.” The answer to that question nullifies the title of the report.

    The other trick in this poll is they report STRONGLY disapprove and disapprove combined sometimes and at others only STRONGLY disapprove. If you look at Rasmussen polls you see many people just do not care.

    Here is an example of Rasmussen reporting

    … 35% of Likely Voters believe the economy is at least somewhat fair to middle-class Americans, but that includes only six percent (6%) who think it’s Very Fair. Sixty-two percent (62%) think the economy is not fair to the middle class, with 20% who feel it’s Not At All Fair

    So most voters do not have strong feeling either way. If you wanted to tease ‘Racist” from these bias questions you would have to look at only the STRONGLY disapprove responses. Even then you would still have confounding with STRONGLY disapprove of big government and STRONGLY disapprove of more taxes.

    Maxwell’s Shifting Support for Democratic Party among American Elderly shows she is anything but neutral in her political leanings.

    …If these trends continue, the 2012 presidential election will require the Democratic Party to continue to bring young, and often unreliable, voters to the polls. Further, the Democratic Party must continue to make inroads into the growing Latino/Hispanic population. If the GOP is able to maintain its grip on older voters in the South, that tend to not only vote at high rates, but are also overwhelmingly conservative, Republican and willing to support GOP candidates the Democratic presidential campaign strategy will be forced to continue building winning coalitions without the assistance of most of the southern states…

    Maxwell is all about Democratic campaign strategy not truth. Lewandowsky is all about the CAGW campaign strategy not truth. The only difference between the two is Maxwell is a real pro and Lewandowsky is a bumbling amateur. Unfortunately the Journalist will still feed the results to the general populus where it will be gobbled up as ‘Truth handed down from on high’

  70. This type of data mining/statistical gibberish is common in the social sciences where a correlation of 0.15 is taken to be meaningful if p<0.01, even though you can get a correlation of 0.30 with random data. It is also common in the "bran muffins cure cancer….no wait, they don't" weekly news item. People (even scientists) want novel results (aka "news") not hard analysis.

  71. Thanks, Brandon, I can follow your argument. As a final point, take the scatter of genocide against threat. In the genocide responses the number in each category drops with about one tenth of the former (I cannot find your article of last Monday in which you gave the frequencies). In the most extreme category (totally agree) we would expect zero subjects but there are over twenty. These divide in two groups with extreme responses on the threat item. I would suggest that these respondents are jokers or people who give blindly extreme responses. Whatever kind of correlation you use, it may express aspects, like response bias, which have nothing to do with opinions. Of course, I am only saying this for sharpening the criticism of Lew’s research.

  72. Let me chime in by complimenting Brandon on a vivid demonstration. By coincidence, both of us had independently obtained the Wood data within a few days of one another. Wood’s Diana claims (cited by Lewandowsky) are a particularly bizarre example.

    A number of readers have attempted to assimilate this phenomenon to other issues. The phenomenon is not the same thing as “some loonies are skeptics/warmists”. And while it is a spurious correlation, it is a very specialized form of spurious correlation that warrants sunshine.

    Brandon, I experimented with a different technique of showing the response size. I did a scatter plot but used a solid circle for the point (in R, pch=19) and then defined the radius of the circle to be proportional to the count (in R, cex= sqrt(count)). In a black-on-white plot, the small counts were invisible. However, with a sort of “starlight” plot, yellow-on-black, the faint counts were discernible. I don’t remember whether I did a post showing this, but I’ll either do one, or send you an example.

    Cheers,
    Steve Mc

  73. David, UK says:
    January 23, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    “Did not get the point? I’ll spell it out: It’s easy to demonise a sector of society with an abuse of statistics.

    (That sector of society is sceptics, not paedophiles – thought I’d better spell that out for you.)”

    Hey, maybe I am paranoid but I sense that a goodly portion of the warmist camp thinks that paedophilia is the lesser evil.

  74. Osama Bin Laden believed in CAGW therefore……………

    “BBC News – ‘Bin Laden’ blames US for global warming”
    ……Bin Laden.
    “All industrial nations, mainly the big ones, are responsible for the crisis of global warming,” the latest tape says.

    “This is a message to the whole world about those who are causing climate change, whether deliberately or not, and what we should do about that.”…..

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8487030.stm

    The moon landings were so faked that a group of those astronauts who did not land on the moon are sceptical of CAGW. Makes complete sense to me. By the way the Moon landings happened, it’s fact.

    April 10, 2012
    The Right Stuff: what the NASA astronauts say about global warming

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/04/10/the-right-stuff-what-the-nasa-astronauts-say-about-global-warming/

    April 12, 2012
    Former Astronauts & NASA Employees Letter on Global Warming
    Editor’s Note: This is the text of the letter sent by 49 former NASA employees to the agency asking it to stay out of what they see as a politicized and unsubstantiated field — human-caused global warming. It was originally posted on the blog Watts Up With That?

    http://www.livescience.com/19643-nasa-astronauts-letter-global-warming.html

  75. Thanks Brandon
    i think all that want to understand get the point now. I thought it was cherrypicking and data manipulation but it is just a poor grasp of statistics. Amazed it passed peer review but not all publications can have decent statisticians at the gates.

  76. Steve McIntyre, thanks. You’re right about this being a specialized form of spurious correlation. I’m still trying to work out how to write it formally. I feel like I should have focused on math instead of computers in school. Intuition is hard to put on paper.

    By the way, you did do a post using the technique you describe. I thought it looked better than this approach. I’m just not very familiar with R’s plotting options. I knew something like your cex=count (scaled however you want) would work, but I didn’t know the command/syntax. I’ll have to remember it.

  77. Mindert Eiting, I agree those responses are almost certaintly false. They’re not too important though. Every correlation I’ve discussed in regards to my survey would be “statistically significant” even if you removed all the responses claiming to support/believe crazy things.

    That’s the most remarkable thing about this methodology. You could publish a paper saying skeptics are racists without having anyone respond claiming to be a skeptic or a racist. You literally do not need any data for any group you’re drawing conclusions about.

    That said, outliers like the ones you highlight do influence the results. It’s important to check how much weight they have on the results. I made sure to do so. I just didn’t post the calculations since I’m trying to keep things simple enough anyone can immediately spot the problems. There are lots of details like that I can post if they become relevant.

    By the way, I didn’t post the frequencies for the data, only the correlations. The code I shared would make it easy to get the counts, but it might be better for you to look at this post. manicbeancounter posted some useful frequency tables.

  78. “And if my suspicions are correct, it’s probably been used in many other papers.”
    And if my suspicions are correct, it can now be used as toilet paper.

  79. New Journal: Pattern Recognition in Psychology

    Peer-Review rules: All papers to be reviewed by persons of the editors’ absolute and final discretion.

    Contents: (so far)

    Papers’ promoting climate hysteria published with obvious and substantial errors.

    Papers’ skeptical of climate hysteria subject to unprecedented publishing obstacles.

    Correlation between climate hysteria and disposable income.

  80. MishaBurnett said @ January 23, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Hitler believed in the theory of gravity!

    No he didn’t. Relativity was “Jewish Science”, not “German Science”.

  81. @Brandon Shollenberger at 5:15 am
    I did do what you seem to be describing.
    Yes, but you put them is separte posts a week apart.
    Not only that, but you did not link back to the Jan. 15 post on the correlation matricies.
    It is all in the delivery of the message.

  82. Stephan Rasey, anyone following my blog would have followed the narrative fine as the posts were made in relatively quick succession. I’m sure I could have improved on it, but I think it was good enough. The only real problem I see with the narrative is most of the attention to my writing was on other sites so most people didn’t see it.

    I’m not too worried about that though. I technically didn’t submit posts. I alerted several people of what I wrote and told them they could use what I had written however they wanted (an offer open to anyone). It was there call what to post. How much of the narrative to display, and what framing to use, was up to them.

    That said, I’ve always intended to create a document which stepped through the same narrative. I don’t know that there’d be much use for such, but it could be nice for anyone who “comes in late.” Plus it’d be easier to show to friends. I expect to post a .pdf of it Sunday. That might better address your concerns.

    Personally, I’m not big on packaging or promoting my work. I like to write. I don’t like to market.

  83. Brandon –

    I agree with you as to the mathematics here, and how they can be misused and can give misleading results. My object was not to dispute your points, but to underscore that genocide is more than a subject for analysis of perceptions or of how people arrive at their beliefs.

    I make my case for alarmist genocide by simple observation, without mathematical manipulation or statistical cutting and slicing. When alarmist agitation leads to policies like carbon taxes, and the cost of home heating fuel consequently goes up to the point where low-income people (and especially the elderly) cannot afford it and die from the cold as a result, this is an empirically observed and documented chain of events.

    As for the alarmists’ so-what/all for the cause attitude about these deaths, that too is a widely observed and reported fact. There are pages and pages in the UK press reporting instances of these deaths being written off as “trash” or “worthless old people” by people with known associations with the alarmist crowd. This is one of the ugliest sides of alarmism that is not getting the public attention it should.

    And no amount of statistical analysis can refute these sorts of direct observations, and denying them doesn’t make then any less true and factual. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said “correlation,” because such a statistic is irrelevant in this instance, the more so when there is such compelling physical proof.

  84. Since most skeptics also believe in AGW (but not the multiple x feed backs that constitute the religion CAGW) that must complicate the analysis for Loonandowsky et al.

    My latest question for annoying the scientifically literate warmies (a very rare subspecies):
    – what was the ex post climate sensitivity per doubling CO2? (The Mauna and HadCRUT4 data are publicly available and Excel has good regression tools.)
    – what reason do you have to believe the 21st century will show triple that?

    That always explodes their heads.

  85. Chad Wozniak says: @ January 24, 2014 at 6:47 pm
    ….I make my case for alarmist genocide by simple observation….

    As for the alarmists’ so-what/all for the cause attitude about these deaths, that too is a widely observed and reported fact. There are pages and pages in the UK press reporting instances of these deaths being written off as “trash” or “worthless old people” by people with known associations with the alarmist crowd. This is one of the ugliest sides of alarmism that is not getting the public attention it should….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Do you have any examples of that? I was aware of the deaths but not of the attitude although it does not surprise me.

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