McIntyre takes down Lewandowsky's fabricated statistical claims

Conspiracy-Theorist Lewandowsky Tries to Manufacture Doubt

By Steve McIntyre

As CA readers are aware, Stephan Lewandowsky of the University of Western Australia recently published an article relying on fraudulent responses at stridently anti-skeptic blogs to yield fake results.

In addition, it turns out that Lewandowsky misrepresented explained variances from principal components as explained variances from factor analysis, a very minor peccadillo in comparison. In a recent post, I observed inconsistencies resulting from this misdescription, but was then unable to diagnose precisely what Lewandowsky had done. In today’s post, I’ll establish this point.

Rather than conceding the problems of his reliance on fake/fraudulent data and thanking his critics for enabling him to withdraw the paper, Lewandowsky has instead doubled down by not merely pressing forward with publication of results relying on fake data, but attempting to “manufacture doubt” about the validity of criticisms, including his most recent diatribe – to which I respond today.

In a post several days ago, I temporarily considered other issues in the Lewandowsky article beyond the reliance on fake responses, reporting on my then progress in trying to replicate results – not easy since his article omitted relevant methodological information. Separate from this, Roman Mureika and I (but especially Roman) have made further progress in trying to replicate the SEM steps – more on this later.

I reported a puzzle about explained variance results as reported in Lewandowsky’s article – results that could not be replicated using a standard factor analysis algorithm. Roman Mureika also tried to figure out the discrepancy without success. I pointed out that Lewandowsky’s factor analysis did not seem to have much effect on the downstream results where the real problems lay.

The reason why we were unable to replicate Lewandowsky’s explained variance from factor analysis was that his explained variance results were not from factor analysis, but from the different (though related) technique of principal components, a technique very familiar to CA readers.

The clue to reverse engineering this particular Lewandowsky misrepresentation came from a passim comment in Lewandowsky’s blog in which he stated:

Applied to the five “climate science” items, the first factor had an eigenvalue of 4.3, representing 86% of the variance. The second factor had an eigenvalue of only .30, representing a mere 6% of the variance. Factors are ordered by their eigenvalues, so all further factors represent even less variance.

Eigenvalues are a term that arise from singular value (“eigen”) decomposition SVD. As an experiment, I did a simple SVD of the correlation matrix – the first step in principal components, a technique used in principal components and was immediately able to replicate this and other Lewandowsky results, as detailed below. Lewandowsky’s explained variance did not come from the factors arising from factor analysis, but from the eigenvectors arising from principal components. No wonder that we couldn’t replicate his explained variances.

But instead of conceding these results, Lewandowsky fabricated an issue regarding the number of retained eigenvectors in this analysis, a point that I had not taken issue and which did not affect the criticism, as I’ll detail.

Please read the rest here: Conspiracy-Theorist Lewandowsky Tries to Manufacture Doubt

As a side show note, here’s a window into the mind of Professor Lewandowsky:


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Too much hair on the head, not enough on the chin. He cannot possibly be a Climate Scientist!!


(I am posting this again, as the quote I included disappeared within its brackets)
The quote below from Lewandowsky can only come from someone who is very consciously pulling the leg of his readers:
“Now you know why the title of our paper was “NASA faked the moon landing—Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science.” We put the “(climate)” in parentheses before “science” because the association between conspiracist ideation and rejection of science was greater for the other sciences than for climate science.”
The guy is trolling with abandon. There is no other way to interpret this statement about parenthetical marks that exclude what they supply.

That video is amazing. It is like an Onion skit but the punchline is that he is a real person.

Lady in Red

Ah, nah. *This* is a much more insightful gaze into the mind of Stephan Lewandowsky. The free-floating, pompous pretension is clearly evident here:

….Lady in Red

I watched the video and the bit on banking, I concluded that I AM a conspiracy theorist. When I looked at Cap and Trade, I see the only folks that win in that game are the traders and the big industrial corporations who get free allowances. They win at the expense of everyone else, even the environment. Who knew?


Not about the analysis, which I haven’t read yet, but about the video. Psychiatrist heal thyself is what springs to mind. He seems to be completely deluded. It’s a wonder his minder lets him out in public.
FWIW, Diana was killed by a drunk driver, Sadam only had a few, possibly useless WMDs, NASA put men on the moon, and not just the once, smoking increases lung cancer risk, all my children are vaccinated, 9/11 was committed by a bunch of religious zealots (look in the mirror prof), I have no opinion on the Kennedy assassination other than it looked a bit amateur, homeopathy is even more wacko than CAGW (which at least is a severe overestimation of humanity’s capability of influencing the climate), and organic food is for hippies. I think I might have missed a few, but I’m sure you get the picture.
More to the point, however, is the logical fallacy in the assumption that if someone believes a whole bunch of outré theories then nothing that believe can be true. Utter tosh from start to finish.

Lady in Red

I don’t know if poor Dr. Lewandowsky has a wife….? …but, at minimum, he needs a handler, to dress him, style him, help him appear less creepy in public….
….and, most definitely, collar and cage him so he doesn’t make too many more of these little YouTube jewels into the secrets of the workings of his mind…
I hope that someone is making an archive of these gems (however many there are). They will be valuable for understanding the state of climate “science” a generation from now.
…Lady in Red


Just when you thought nobody could shoot themselves in the feet like climate scientists do, they get henchmen like that!

Lewandowsky chose the wrong words to use as a headline at his blog. Recall the concluding paragraphs of my 9/11/12 WUWT guest post about the ‘OTHER’ problem with Lewandowsky’s paper (
” …. accusation that skeptic scientists are paid to manufacture doubt about man-caused global warming. It certainly appears that what we have instead is around two decades of efforts by enviro-activists to manufacture doubt about the credibility of the skeptics. So, how many more attempts to smear skeptics can be thrown on this pile before the whole thing collapses?”

This guy is scary.

Fred Allen

If the YouTube link is the face of climate change alarmism, then the skeptics have the argument and public opinion in the bag.

A Lovell

“This guy is a total tool. And actually that is what students in Uni of Western Australia call him – A Tool – he is one of the most disliked “professors” on the campus. And yeah, get a bath and shave you grub.
ivanv1952 ”
The above is from the comments on yet another youtube diatribe by Lewandowsky. Telling, if even his students have this opinion.

Mickey Reno

Lewandowsky publishes a POS paper, but then defends his assertions, not by talking about IT, but by talking about an anecdotal instance of one person’s criticism of him in the Aussie media? This guy is, in my Internet Opinion (IO) going nuts, but yet perfectly represents an entire class of academic chicken littles in today’s society.
Here’s what Edmund Burke wrote in 1790 about “men of letters” in France just as the reign of terror was cranking up. I have added a few comments in square brackets, and added emphasis is mine.:

a new description of men had grown up, with whom [the monied interest of the non-nobility] soon formed a close and marked union: I mean the political men of letters. Men of letters, fond of distinguishing themselves, are rarely averse to innovation. Since the decline of the life and greatness of Louis the Fourteenth, they were not so much cultivated either by him, or by the Regent, or the successors to the crown; nor were they engaged to the court by favors and emoluments so systematically as during the splendid period of that ostentatious and not impolitic reign. What they lost in the old court protection they endeavored to make up by joining in a sort of incorporation of their own; to which the two academies of France, and afterwards the vast undertaking of the Encyclopedia, carried on by a society of these gentlemen, did not a little contribute.
The literary cabal had some years ago formed something like a regular plan for the destruction of the Christian religion. [I draw your attention to the similar goal of today’s academics forming up around the idea of destroying “climate deniers”] This object they pursued with a degree of zeal which hitherto had been discovered only in the propagators of some system of piety. They were possessed with a spirit of proselytism in the most fanatical degree, and from thence, by an easy progress, with the spirit of persecution according to their means. What was not to be done towards their great end by any direct or immediate act might be wrought by a longer process through the medium of opinion. To command that opinion, the first step is to establish a dominion over those who direct it. They contrived to possess themselves, with great method and perseverance, of all the avenues to literary fame. Many of them, indeed, stood high in the ranks of literature and science. The world had done them justice, and in favor of general talents forgave the evil tendency of their peculiar principles. This was true liberality; which they returned by endeavoring to confine the reputation of sense, learning, and taste to themselves or their followers. I will venture to say that this narrow, exclusive spirit has not been less prejudicial to literature and to taste than to morals and true philosophy. These atheistical fathers have a bigotry of their own; and they have learnt to talk against monks with the spirit of a monk. But in some things they are men of the world. The resources of intrigue are called in to supply the defects of argument and wit. To this system of literary monopoly was joined an unremitting industry to blacken and discredit in every way, and by every means, all those who did not hold to their faction. To those who have observed the spirit of their conduct it has long been clear that nothing was wanted but the power of carrying the intolerance of the tongue and of the pen into a persecution which would strike at property, liberty, and life.

“Lewandowsky” will become a noun, an adjective and a verb, and they won’t be a positive ones.


“Brazen disregard for science” !!! Projection?


Lewandowsky illustrates the principle that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, even with the best statistical techniques and a ton of hand-waving.


Lewandowsky always dreamed of being a climate scientist like Michael Mann!… He’s dreaming too.

I listened to “evita” again recently (so sue me, I adore Webber) and a little snipped of the lyrics struck me as exactly the kind of thinking that is going through the head of Lewandowsky and his co-conspirators these days.
sung by Juan Peron:
“It’s annoying that we have to fight elections for our cause
The inconvenience of having to get a majority;
If normal methods of persuasion fail to win us applause
There are other ways of establishing – Authority.”

Chris Schoneveld

If this guy is not going to be sidelined by the UWA then all his colleagues will be tainted by association. If they don’t take action they will be guilty by association.

Ray Campbell

You, Sir are an absolute wanker with no clue whatsoever. Give up science and consider a career in comedy.

The title of McIntyre’s article is ‘Conspiracy-Theorist Lewandowsky Tries to Manufacture Doubt’.
That title could be adapted by substituting in Naomi Oreskes which would make it useful to describe her anti-skeptic smear job. She feverishly tried to manufacture doubt about skeptics in her fanatical konspiracy (intentionally misspelled to avoid WP filters) theory book ‘The Merchants of Doubt’.


The case of Jan Hendrik Schön (a physicist who worked for Bell Labs) comes to mind.
(from Wikipedia)
In 2001 he was listed as an author on an average of one newly published research paper every eight days.
Professor Lydia Sohn, then of Princeton University, noticed that two [of his] experiments carried out at very different temperatures had identical noise.
[This led to an investigation]
The committee requested copies of the raw data but found that Schön had kept no laboratory notebooks. His raw-data files had been erased from his computer. According to Schön the files were erased because his computer had limited hard drive space. In addition, all of his experimental samples had been discarded, or damaged beyond repair.
On September 25, 2002, the committee publicly released its report… They found that whole data sets had been reused in a number of different experiments. They also found that some of his graphs, which purportedly had been plotted from experimental data, had instead been produced using mathematical functions.

In the video listen to his tone when he talks about ‘the Climate Deniers’
Swap the aussie accent, and replace climate deniers with dissidents and recall a period in the last century which many pschologist would choose to forget.
I am a member if the public with views and opinions and a life, that does not revolve around climate science, but to actually hear an academic reduce someone to a label of ‘a climate denier’ is actually quite shocking

Mike Lewis

Wow, just wow. I watched and couldn’t convince myself that he was truly being serious. But he was and is – I was shaking my head in disbelief.

Nick in Vancouver

James Padgett – the punchline is that he is a (tenured???) professor. Cripesamighty. If he’s a professor then Western civilisation really is screwed, just not because of AGW.
Bob Tisdale
-to “Lewandowsky” a result?
-to Lew (skew) data so that your prejudices are always confirmed by your results.
-to perform a “Lewandowsky analyses” – that is to perform a statistical technique that is actually different from the one reported in your method.
When combined with the universally accepted climate science method of “the Trick” (TM) and the typical techniques of “shrinkage” (TM) – decreasing the sample size to only include data that fit the desired outcome. Any pro-AGW paper is guaranteed peer review, multiple citations, plaudits in the press and instant access to the gravy train.
Lewandowsky the man who put the “posterior” in posterity. I typed that without moving my eyebrows – it can’t be a conspiracy, it must be true.

Poor Lew. It looks like the RCMP are not the only Canadians, who always get their man …


Bertram Felden says: “….homeopathy is even more wacko than CAGW…”
From a scientific POV, you’re right. From an ethical POV, however, homeopathy at least complies with the principle of primum non nocere, “first, do no harm,” which the CAGW movement does not. [One could fairly argue about the negative effect of delay in seeking conventional treatment by focusing on homeopathy, or other alternative medical practise, but all those arguments have their parallel in CAGW’s diversion of $79 billion in resources better spent elsewhere.]
As an historical side note, from Peter Morrell’s fascinating site on (among many other things) the history of London Homeopathic Hospital during a time of cholera in the mid 19th Century:
“Thus, while, according to the Registrar-General, the rate of mortality in the allopathic metropolitan hospitals is 7.5 per cent, the deaths in the Homeopathic Hospital, including those from cholera, have not exceeded 4.6 per cent.”
Taking all the above into consideration, I’d say that qualitatively, CAGW and homeopathy, because of their shared myopic, if not monomaniacal, focus on minuscule trace substances, are equally wacko.

“…..the belief that the free market is the solution to all of societies problems”.
Yes, well, we now see the problem, don’t we? I’m probably one of the most avowed free market capitalists anyone would ever know, but I don’t believe free markets is the solution to all societal problems. Indeed, there is a universally accepted view that people need some sort of structured governance this is due to an understanding that free markets can not cure all societal problems. Even the most ardent Libertarian in the U.S. allows for the common defense of this country. Are there Australians advocating no government? Who are these imaginary people Lewy is arguing against? This of course says nothing towards his own delusional conspiracy theory.


Or, more correctly above, “wacko,” in quotes, since it’s not my word.


This guy looks like another failed Canadian or American emigre scientist who was accepted by a Australian University with Lower standards. They abound in Australian Academia


So… he pretty much faked the data and then he faked the analysis that he did on the data. The average shyster knows that that the two need to match. So this ain’t no average shyster 😉


That little rant sounds more like a socialist manifesto rather than a making a case for his position. The look of utter superiority on his face is sickening.
Also I guess there is a hair club for men in Austrailia also eh!

James Caffey

Barry Woods That’s NOT an Aussie accent. He’s an import from the States or Canada and as much a disaster to Oz as rabbits and cane toads. The video is appalling

Stephanie Clague

“climate deniers” ?
Who here denies we have a climate? Nobody could possibly deny we have a climate and that the climate warms and cools in cycles and in accordance with the seasons. Lewandowsky then examines just one reader contribution to just one report in the Australian and somehow in his mind equates this one persons single post with ALL sceptics and transposes this one persons purported strategy and intentions onto all sceptics and the supposed leaders of the sceptic movement. This is a ‘scientist’ who is able to take the views of one person and then extrapolates that every sceptic feels the same way. Millions of individuals become one formless shapeless mass in the mind of Lewandowsky, a single hive mind and single set of limited motivations with the prime one being the discrediting of climate scientists. Hey its all I think about every day and because I think it all of you do too, we are the borg hive mind and we will assimilate you(after discrediting you of course) sarc.
The real question has to be, if this man felt able to divine the standpoint of all sceptics from just one sample then what did he do in his research? I think the man started with a pre set and predetermined set of conclusions and he designed a method of confirming them, he started with the answers and then he worked out the questions. This man is a true believer, to him every unbeliever is not an individual seeking answers for themselves, to him deniers are a faceless mass. He knows in his heart what drives and motivates this mass, he knows all he needs to know, we are selfish self centred right wing free market capitalists bent on the wanton destruction of the planet to feed our insatiable greed. In his mind we sceptics are unbelievers, there is no worse crime in the eyes of a true believer than being an unbeliever, he is going to save humanity and the planet and all that stands in his way are those pesky sceptics, can you imagine the deep rage inside his soul? This chap needs a de programmer qualified in cult victim re education.


I think it is only fair to let Lewandowsky speak. Daily Telegraph 28th August he is quoted

With conspiracy theories, you start out with a theory and stick to it no matter what the evidence. So it is not that surprising that conspiracy theorists would not accept scientific propositions … If the scientific evidence is overwhelming and you don’t like the conclusion, you have to find a way to reject those findings.

The Debunking Handbook (co-written with John Cook) begins

It’s self-evident that democratic societies should base their decisions on accurate information. On many issues, however, misinformation can become
entrenched in parts of the community, particularly when vested interests are involved.
Reducing the influence of misinformation is a difficult and complex challenge.

Gordon Richmond

He sounds like a Canuck trying to emulate an Aussie accent.

Far to much credence is being given to this man’s opinions and his desire for publicity. McIntyre and others have discredited his pseudoscience for what is it “pseudoscience fiction”. As to the publicity remember it is better to allow the fools and true believers to sink into obscurity then to give them any form or recognition.

David L. Hagen

Obama has already incurred about $5 trillion in debt, or $50,000 additional debt per taxpayer, by spending a spectacular 40% more than revenues. Andwhat did that buy us?
In his centrally planned “Great Leap Forward” Mao caused about 60 million people to die of starvation or not be born in the consequent Great Famine of 1959-1961.
The IPCC’s 0.2C/decade models are already running 2 sigma hotter (>95%) of the actual historical satellite temperature evidence for the last 12 or the last 32 years! That earns them a D for Dogmatic, or F for Failure.
Now Lewandowsky et al. seek centralized UN control with universal taxation to force us incur US$1,900 trillion dollars per degree C to cool the planet.
Lord Monckton quotes: ‘When the premium exceeds the cost of the risk, don’t insure.’”
Prudent stewardship requires pragmatic action based on historic evidence!
Restore sanity.
Avoid “mitigation” via “cap and trade” or “carbon tax” at all costs.
Pursue prudent no regrets “adaptation”, such as cost effective energy efficiency.
Verify and validate the models with independent robust engineering grade “red team” evaluations.
Focus on the real rapidly impending crisis of constrained and declining crude oil.
See Robert Hirsch, on The Impending World Energy Mess and his publications.

I refuse to listen to anyone who uses the term “climate denier,” so as soon as he said those words I clicked off. It’s an absolutely meaningless term and shows the speaker to be uninterested in truth and only interested in propaganda. There is no one on this side of the argument who denies that there is a climate. Period. So he is accusing people of an absurdity. Which shows the lack of seriousness when the real dispute is not even addressed or acknowledged..
To make it crystal clear, here’s the pertinent analogy (the comparison to which fails):
Holocaust deniers claim that the Holocaust didn’t exist.
Climate deniers claim that the climate doesn’t exist.
Come back when you’re serious, Mr. Lewandowsky.

John Blake

“The law is a ass, a idiot” [Bleak House]. So is Lewandowsky. Aargh!


davidmhoffer says: “So… he pretty much faked the data…”
Too hyperbolic. More precisely, he sampled a different population than the population of interest, a statistical error so fundamental, I can’t imagine a freshman doing it. His methodology went downhill from there…


Planet Lew’s orbit continues to rapidly degrade and should crater into its sun any time now.

Peter Miller

Interesting video: the man obviously has a deep disdain for the free market – I guess that is a common trait of academic bureaucrats insulated from the machinations of the real world.
His stuff on consiparcy theories only reveals that he is fanatical believer in some kind of ‘denialist’ conspiracy theory.
The most interesting part of the little talk was his eyebrow movements, which I found fascinating, as they were totally unrelated to anything he said.
Every time Lewandowsky opens his mouth on the subject of his dodgy survey, McIntyre is going to slice and dice him. This is not original advice, but he really should take heed of ‘The Rule of Holes’, or be prepared to face the consequences of his own ineptitude.


He publishes mainly in JIR, right?


Lew’s accent drifts all over the place. As someone who has daily contact with clients from all over the world, I swear I heard Scottish, Irish, Southern US (Arkansas/Georgia), Canadian, and a very tortured Aussie accent throughout his diatribe…


The government of West Autralia really forked over 1.7 million to this guy?

Myron Mesecke

Bob Tisdale says:
September 21, 2012 at 8:37 am
“Lewandowsky” will become a noun, an adjective and a verb, and they won’t be a positive ones.

Another “L” word? We already have Lewinsky.

I haven’t been following this storyline, but am somewhat familiar with factor analysis. Too often in the past, using esoteric multivariate algorithms imbues an experiment with a false image of
“an exacting science at work,” whereas its reliability is only as good as the data being analyzed, as well as the hypothesis being tested – for example, analyses have to proceed with a hypothesis
concerning the nature of the factors themselves – are they correlated or not?, which would lead one to either an orthogonal or oblique factor rotation. Also, is the correlation between factors linear? How many factors does one hypothesize? Historically, factor analysis has provided little of value with respect to analysis of correlation matrices of scales based on human responses, for a variety of reasons – human psychological scales , excepting cognitive tests such as IQ scales, are notoriously unreliable, and the technique of using factors to explain human behavior has not
had noticeable success.
Lewandowsy, independently of any knowledge he may have of the mechanics of a factor analysis (all he needs is a program to do the calculations ), is clearly not familiar with psychometrics , which is the realm he has jumped into. For what value it might provide, such an analysis depends to a great extent on the sampling technique and especially the nature of the questions posed to the respondents – how the question is asked often has a very large effect on any responses obtained. Apparently he sampled bloggers at a particular website. He did not choose the sample, nor have any way of knowing who was responding, and set up a situation that practically guaranteed fraudulent responses. This simply cannot be considered a representative sample of any group of interest. Nor can any process that allows for voluntary inclusion in the sample – ALL those chosen for the sample must be tested and they must be chosen by the experimenter, not by themselves. A factor analysis is only as good as the data upon which it is based, which in this case is clearly unacceptable.
Finally, the entire thrust of Lew’s argument is based on the ad hominem fallacy – that one can win a scientific argument by demonstrating that those who oppose are jerks, etc. Science is not politics – one must convince fellow scientists, not the general public, on the basis of evidence.


OMG! That’s the fellow I always get trapped by at drinks parties!

Paul Westhaver

Whaoooo Buddy????
I watched that video of Lewandowsky chattering about some conspiracy theory individual. WOW.
The conspiracy theory individual was no doubt Peter Gleick himself, who faked being a member of the Heartland Institute or some other like-minded GW wack job in the the nettles of despair.
Did you see all his mugging and gesticulations, bugging eyes, forced articulations, teeth grimacing?…this guy is loony. I could barely listen to a word he said while looking at his goony expression parade.
So what about him? Seems to me that Lewandowsky has a problem with the free market.
Ok. I think that is the point isn’t it? The leftists… the anti-free-market wealth redistribution wack-jobs, to which Lewandowsky is no doubt affiliated, want to exploit fear generated by an exagerated global disaster, to have the UN assert control over global finance via a Carbon trading scheme, thereby transferring wealth from 1st world nations to entities (the UN especially) who have no such wealth. With wealth transfer come power transfer.
So…what is new…Lewandowsky is a socialist exploiting fake AGW to service his hatred of free market systems.
Big surprise.
This is the frigging point!! the abuse of science to service politics. This is what I hate about the whole AGW issue. Bulls-eye!