Another plonker from Lewandowsky

UPDATE: It seems another poll/study flies in the face of what Lewandowsky claims about “Free Market Thinkers” Ouch, that’s gotta hurt. See below. NOTE: The section after the graphic has also been updated for clarity by contributor A. Scott. – Anthony

From the “if you keep saying it enough people will believe it”department and the patron saint of conspiracy ideation, Stephan Lewandowsky, comes yet another paper which tries to make people believe that a good portion of climate skeptics think the moon landing was faked, and that free market advocates are likely to be climate skeptics. It also looks like he recycled questions from previous Lewpaper efforts.


The paper data gathering effort supposedly polled 1,000 Americans.

A. Scott writes:

Lewandowsky’s “Recursive Fury” work referenced a new paper undergoing peer review at the time –that used a professional survey firm to survey a random panel of 1,000 people in the US.

That new paper; “The Role of Conspiracist Ideation and Worldviews in Predicting Rejection of Science,” has recently been published in PLOS ONE.

This new paper is comprised of 39 questions, including approximately 20 of the original questions from the Lewandwsky “NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax…”  (LOG12) paper.

In addition to adding questions on GMO foods, vaccines etc., the new paper makes another significant change. The LOG12 paper used a 4 point Likert scale for its answers, while this new paper converts to a 5 point Likert scale. This change addresses one of the criticisms of the LOG12 paper, that the 4 point scale Lewandowsky chose purposely forced ‘either/or’ answers by failing to provide a ‘Neutral” answer option.

While PLOS ONE is a ‘pay to publish’ journal it does have positives, including that papers are not firewalled and are readily accessible to all, and they have an open data policy. It appears Lewandowsky has complied – the paper includes the aggregated response data in a table, and Lewandowsky appears to have made the raw data available at his site as well (link below).

PLOS ONE outlines a defined peer review process, which uses “Academic Editors” who “work together to orchestrate the peer-review process.”


The AE evaluates the paper and decides whether it meets the editorial criteria for publication:

“AEs can employ a variety of methods, alone or in combination to reach a decision:

  • They can conduct the peer review themselves, based on their own knowledge and experience
  • They can take further advice through discussion with other members of the editorial board
  • They can solicit reports from further referees”

There are no peer reviewers listed on the paper – only an Editor, Tom Denson, from the University of New South Wales, Australia. Professor Denson kindly and quickly responded to my inquiry, noting the paper was sent to multiple reviewers who provided anonymous feedback to himself and the author, that the paper was revised in accordance with those comments, and was eventually accepted for publication pursuant to meeting the PLOS ONE criteria. He indicated it was PLOS policy that reviewers remain anonymous.

Although anonymous, at least the paper received outside review. Prof. Denson also appears to be qualified as Editor.

PLOS ONE notes that after publication:

“… all articles are opened up for interactive discussions and assessment in which the whole scientific community can be involved”


It will be interesting to see how that works, but it does open the door Lewandowsky and the other authors needing to professionally to engage with their critics.

Comments are currently open at the PLOS One page for this paper noted below.

In the “Moon Landing” paper, Lewandowsky set out to obtain responses regarding the beliefs of climate change “skeptic’s.”  Unfortunately Lewandowsky’s methods and protections were seriously flawed, and as such his data collection effort was rightfully challenged.

Although they collected approximately N=1300 responses, these were almost entirely obtained thru promotion at sites openly critical of the skeptic positions and beliefs. Analysis of the data they obtained identified that only approximately N=150 of the total could be considered legitimate skeptic responses.

In this new paper, Lewandowsky uses a professional U.S. survey firm, and a random “panel” of 1,000 U.S. citizens. Ignoring the findings themselves for a moment – this new survey data should provide a professionally and independently obtained “base line” data set.

Lewandowsky’s email comment to Guardian on the new study:


”There are some other more subtle differences, and despite all that, the results are pretty much identical: Free-market worldviews are strongly associated with rejection of climate science and conspiratorial thinking is associated with the rejection of all scientific propositions tested, albeit to varying extent. This is a pervasive pattern now that has been shown multiple times in the literature by a number of different authors. I am now fairly convinced that wherever there is science denial, there is also a conspiracy theory waiting to be aired.

I cannot be sure of the causality, but there are multiple lines of evidence that suggest that the involvement of worldview, such as free-market principles, arises because people of that worldview feel threatened not by climate change or by lung cancer, but by the regulatory implications if those risks are being addressed by society. Addressing lung cancer means to control tobacco, and addressing climate change means to control fossil-fuel emissions. It’s the need to control those products and their industries that is threatening people with strong free-market leanings.”


Setting aside the analysis and findings, it would appear to me, supported by Lewandowsky’s comments noted above, that my past stated beliefs he would use this new paper – with its independent data collection source and methods – to try to rehabilitate the  serious deficiencies and compromised work he has published to date in this series.

I would note the Lewandowsky “Recursive Fury”  paper was removed by Frontiers in Psychology in April 2013 due to numerous complaints. Going on 7 months later, no action has occurred regarding Frontiers promised swift review of the issues.

I would also note Lewandowsky’s original LOG12 paper – “NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax…” was finally published online after a long delay. This paper was received by the journal Psychological Science May 22, 2012, accepted by them July 7, 2012, was released by Lewandowsky to the media in August 2012, but was not actually published online by the journal until March 26th, 2013.

Both the Moon Landing and Recursive Fury papers received significant exposure in the media, being used to smear those skeptical of the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming claims.

And the ever reliable Guardian, continues that process with this new paper.

The paper is open access, you can read it here:

The Role of Conspiracist Ideation and Worldviews in Predicting Rejection of Science

Stephan Lewandowsky, Gilles E. Gignac, Klaus Oberauer

DATA for the paper available fro Lewandowsky site here:


”FAQS” on the paper at Shaping Tomorrows Worlds:

Here is a Guardian Article on the Lewpaper3 – headline: “Climate sceptics more likely to be conspiracy theorists and free market advocates, study claims




Politico – Study: Tea partiers know science

By Tal Kopan

10/17/13 2:04 PM EDT

A finding in a study on the relationship between science literacy and political ideology surprised the Yale professor behind it: Tea party members know more science than non-tea partiers.

Yale law professor Dan Kahan posted on his blog this week that he analyzed the responses of a set of more than 2,000 American adults recruited for another study and found that, on average, people who leaned liberal were more science literate than those who leaned conservative.


However, those who identified as part of the tea party movement were actually better versed in science than those who didn’t, Kahan found. The findings met the conventional threshold of statistical significance, the professor said.

Kahan wrote that not only did the findings surprise him, they embarrassed him.

“I’ve got to confess, though, I found this result surprising. As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I’d be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension,” Kahan wrote.

To view online:


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Conspiratorial thinkers also reject propositions from organized religion, government, medicine, and even other conspiratorial thinkers. So, there are inadequate control questions in this study.
I really like PLoS One, but, this sounds like a clunker of an article.


“Trust in science has been declining since 1970’s.”
Besides the error of attributing emotion (trust) to something that is inanimate (science), the article errs in that the decline in trust has been with scientists (not “science”) – that people believe that (many) scientists have been corrupted by grant money and a lust for recognition, and/or that their skills are 2nd-rate.


From the abstract he appears to be taking a potshot at the Anti GM guys like David Suzuki and much of the CAGW crowd? That could be entertaining.

Still trying to shoot the messenger. I guess some people are so far gone down their rabbit hole, they have lost touch with reality. Lewandowsky should make himself a subject of his papers. At least he kind of knows about that subject.

PLOS ONE is a pretty good journal (hell, I published there!), and their refereeing standards are usually excellent. In the recent prank played on open access journals by John Bohannon at Science Magazine , PLOS ONE came out looking very good. But they’ve clearly screwed up dismally here. Shame.


PLoS One is the money-making arm of the PLoS family of journals. It will publish anything that reviewers consider “scientifically sound” regardless of potential impact. All papers are reviewed, but the quality varies considerably. They published 25,000 papers last year. With their author pays model, it generates considerable revenue that is used to support the other, more rigorous PLoS journals. I am deeply suspicious of PLoS One papers in my field.

Jimmy Haigh.

“Climate science” is all about bullshitters making up bullshit.

Mark Bofill

Seems to be a man of one idea, doesn’t he. It gets stale after awhile though.


I note that you report

Guardian Article on the Lewpaper3 – headline “Climate sceptics more likely to be conspiracy theorists and free market advocates, study claims”

So, the pro-AGW propagandist rag the Grauniad (Brits will understand that spelling) headlines that the study “claims” and does not headline that the study finds or reports.
Some things are so wrong that even their supporters can see it.


Watts: “He STILL is using the “Free Market” beliefs are associated with climate denialism.”
That wouldn’t surprise me at all, actually. Those that are suckers for every sales spiel thrown at them don’t tend to be free market types. They desparately need someone to babysit them and safeguard them from their lack of incredulity about used cars and combovers.

I would have to agree that free market advocates are likely to be client skeptics (and quite likely the converse as well). Why? Clear thinking and careful consideration of all available evidence.

David L.

What a horribly written title! He should take a writing class.

chris y

techgm says: October 17, 2013 at 4:12 am
“Trust in science has been declining since 1970’s.”
Besides the error of attributing emotion (trust) to something that is inanimate (science), the article errs in that the decline in trust has been with scientists (not “science”) – that people believe that (many) scientists have been corrupted by grant money and a lust for recognition, and/or that their skills are 2nd-rate.
Bingo! Well said.
I think the terminology chosen is deliberate. It is inconceivable that Lewandowsky et al. are that stupid.

The Iconoclast

“Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”
— Milton Friedman

Bernd Palmer

See here some Q&A from one of the Authors, Oberauer:
I would like to see the questionnaire in order to see how they measure e.g. “Free-market worldviews” and how they determine a causals relationships.


Plenty of academics have built an entire career by republishing the same thing over and over. Lewandowsky struck gold with this nonsense, why change? It’s either this or unemployment.

These efforts by Lew are little better than the right-wing aligned ‘scientific opinions’ expressed by some during the 1930s that Bolsheviks and certain ethnicities were somehow ‘inferior’. Now wholly discredited, of course.
Both views are memetically driven; Lew is merely a mouthpiece for invasive memetic culture he’s failed to gaurd against. The same level of discredit is inevitable, one day.

Lewandoski and McKibben in the morning before I’ve had coffee? You are not a nice man this morning, Mr. Watts.

multiple lines of evidence that suggest The preferred term used by the unethical to promote something that has no statistical significance. See also: 97% consensus.

Bernd Palmer

“Sadly, the public is currently prevented from exercising that right, especially as it relates to climate change, because the media coverage in many countries fails to reflect the overwhelming and strengthening scientific consensus.”
Is there any evidence for this? Show me the proof! Over the past years, climate scare stories were all over the media in virtually all papers over the world.
“Science is debate, but that debate takes place in the scientific literature and at scientific conferences. In the history of science, we are not aware of a case in which a serious scientific issue was adjudicated by tabloid journalists or their modern-day equivalents such as blog commenters. Anyone truly interested in scientific debate can contribute to it by submitting papers to the relevant journals for peer review.”
As long as climate science is communicated to the public in the form of apocalyptic messages, rational people (including scientists) tend to question the science output. Given the proven miscommunication by the IPCC and associates (not to forget the Nobel Prize winner Gore), the public has the right to ask for critical reviews; the IPCC is not God!

Bill Illis

Lewandosky just wants everyone to agree with his personal viewpoints, in climate change and his left-wing economic and political philosophy.
And since some people don’t agree with him, he wants to show that there is something wrong with them. Lewandosky takes this to such a ridiculous level that it is verging on an all-consuming obsession.
Science has nothing to do with it.

François GM

I’ve always had the feeling that those on the right tend to be more rational than those on the left, who seem more emotional. Evidence: differences in political leanings between Arts and Science students. A rational approach to science is, of course, preferable. So it is not surprising to me that more conservatives than socialists (liberals in USA) question climate Science.
As to conspiracies, it is the CAGW crowd that sees Koch and Big Oil conspiracies where none exists.

“Monkeys may soon fly out of my bu**”, study claims.
[Language. Mod]

D. Holliday

Seriously? Conservatives don’t believe in science? What we don’t believe in are “consensus” driven, politically motivated statements by supposed scientists like this dork Lewandowsky.


So those who deny the science about GMO’s should be a good group to test this theory.
Do those who reject GMO food fulfill Lewandowsky’s ‘science’?

Rick Bradford

I could equally easily write a paper entitled “Hippie Environmentalists, Professional Activists and neo-Marxist drones are more likely to accept climate change alarmism” and it would be equally true.

Gary Pearse

“..conspiratorial thinking is associated with the rejection of all scientific propositions tested…”
“…It’s the need to control those products and their industries that is threatening people with strong free-market leanings.”
No Lew, analytical skepticism is an integral part of the scientific process. ‘Authorities’ have a vested interest is silencing skepticism. Even a soft science like psychology should understand this pillar of the scientific process.
The second quote is pure projection. All the huff and puffery including your own is motivated by the anguish that you guys have been unable to ‘control the products and industries’. Oh and the free market is the source of ALL real wealth. Lewandowski is the face of what would be controlling the rest of us if allowed to achieve their goals. One thing I will say in his favor is at least he is honest about his socialist-elite control motivation.

Margaret Hardman

Or he could have sampled 1000 comments here to see how many seem to mention free market ideas (eg smaller government, fewer taxes) or conspiracy ideas (eg scientific fraud, climate”gate”). I wonder what picture that would paint?


As far as I am aware there is only one conspiracy theory which relates directly to climate science: this is the theory that climate skeptics are well organized and well funded by “Big Oil”. Surprisingly, this conspiracy theory didn’t appear in the surveys on which Lewandowsky based his papers. I wonder why not. This theory is ideation in spades !
When Lewandowsky first came out with his rubbish, Jo Nova tried to engage with him. She explained the scientific basis behind climate skepticism and invited Lew to refute it. He didn’t accept the challenge, instead falling back on the Appeal to Authority fallacy. So, who is “rejecting the science” ? There isn’t any indication that Lewandowsky knows the difference between the science and a sceance.


“Trust in science has been declining since 1970’s.”

For why, see for a start Dan Greenberg’s Science, Money, and Politics and Henry Bauer’s Dogmatism in Science and Medicine.


The Abstract shows he is not seriously seeking a relationship between science and politics. He is ignoring that lefties reject the science on GMO foods, on nuclear energy, and are shown in study after study to be more poorly educated in general.
Also, it would be fun to link which political wing holds more people who believe in auras, karma, astrology, new age stuff in general, etc.
Frankly Lewandowsky is boring.
I would suggest our host simply ignore this faux researcher in the future.
He is derivative, unoriginal and like so many others who feed at the trough of AGW, ethically challenged.

James Strom

Lewandowski seems to be a man in pursuit of a fallacy. Let’s suppose that his work is pristine and he has proved that there is an unusually high number of conspiracy theorists among people who reject CAGW. What would that tell us about the work of someone like Lindzen, to pick just one example of many? Nothing. So what is the point of his research? If he were doing serious cognitive science he would have to be using radically different methods. It is shocking that he continues to be funded and published.

Addressing lung cancer means to control tobacco, and addressing climate change means to control fossil-fuel emissions.

I don’t have experience where he lives, but in the US, education has been more effective than access controls with the decline in smoking and drunk driving. America’s “War on Drugs” leans on access controls and has nothing to show for its cost (other than fostering street crime). shows the addiction rate vs expenditures – the addiction rate stays around 1.5% for the entire graph.
This is not to say education can control fossil-fuel emissions though it (as propaganda) has increased the number of “solutions” that have failed to control fossil-fuel emission. (Well, the CO2 released by buring fossil fuel, such power plants try to consume, not emit, fossil fuels.)


“I am now fairly convinced that wherever there is science denial, there is also a conspiracy theory waiting to be aired.”
And that, folks, was the winner of the October unconscious irony contest.


So the free market thinker looks at the measured and observed weather and climate of the last 15 years and notes –
Global Temperatures have not risen.
CO2 levels have maintained their continued rise unabated.
Hurricanes, and cyclones have reduced in number and also to some degree in intensity.
Tornadoes have reduced.
Droughts have been declining.
NH winters appear to becoming colder, longer, or more intense.
No increase or acceleration in sea level rises.
The Arctic is still frozen during the summer.
The Antarctic has seen an increase in sea ice levels.
Greenland has not significantly melted.
The tropics are still in the temperature range that they have been during the whole of instrumental record keeping.
Given all the above would it be sane for anyone to believe the CO2 as a greenhouse gas is destroying our globe? I for one do not. The climate is too complex for those simplistic climate models, and modelers to accurately track.
Certainly Lewandawsky et al want us all to accept without question the theory of CO2 ‘greenhouse gas’ forcing the climate to a catastrophic state, and not to acquiesce to such prognostication require that we are ridiculed and called names.

Pamela Gray

All I can say is that I am forever in debt for a very good class in Research Design and Critique taught by a very good college professor who will always remain dear to my heart for his no-holds-barred dogged, relentless commitment to the task of turning out well-prepared graduate students.
The above paper would be one in which we would have panned endlessly. By the way, there is quite the back story about faked papers. There is even a website called “retractionwatch”. If you choose a pay-to-publish online journal, you tread on thin ice.

Pamela Gray
Pamela Gray

That is not to say that the current paper is fake. But it does give reason to think that if a well-done faked paper with fatal flaws can get in, a less well-done real paper with poor design and unsupported conclusions can get in.

Bob Shapiro

“He STILL is using the “Free Market” beliefs are associated with climate denialism.”
Wait! He actually might have something here. By implication, he says that socialistic beliefs are associated with climate catastrophism. Sounds right to me.

Gerry - England

Since governments have got so involved with funding science, is it such a surprise given the mess governments make of everything they go near that the populace are more sceptical about their claims? In Booker & North’s book Scared To Death, they highlight how much governments get wrong based on just one flimsy report. People also use their personal experience. With vaccination for example, I believe it is generally good, but the MMR vaccine has questions against it with regards to autism. I have a close friend and have worked with somebody who have both experienced a child becoming autistic having received the MMR vaccine. The doctor who suspected a link was subjected to the full force of the establishment to say he was wrong. I believe his evidence has been satisfactorily countered but there does seem to be a lack of enthusiasm to look further at why normal children become autistic shortly after received the MMR jab.
Given that the government will be in trouble should a link be proved, they won’t be keen to fund it. The pharma companies that make the vaccine won’t be keen either. And given the hounding the only person who has questioned it received, why would somebody of limited means put their career on the line?
On free markets, if wind and solar power was so great and profitable, private companies wouldn’t need to be bribed with taxpayers’ money to get involved would they?


Lewandowsky should refer to Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, “Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity…. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.” i.e., the Government gets the research results it pays for. It isn’t ‘conspiracy’, per se, but a natural result of the way research is now funded.

Pamela Gray

I too wonder why this author continues to beat his own drum. The history of published research is significantly colored with puke. Which sometimes leads to considerable harm, even death. If Lewandowsky is more than a one-note “player”, he should be going after climate puke papers. That he has not done so leads me to believe he may not know good papers from bad, even though there are plonkers on both sides of climate science research, indeed on both sides of ANY topic of research.
But I also suspect that most serious climate science researchers consider his work as extremely low hanging fruit, if not already rotting on the ground. Especially so when it comes to “survey” research. In my opinion, this form of research is an easy Ph.D. degree and one I give little time considering.

Steve Keohane

The label for the photo, Lewpaper3.png with a minor spelling correction, says it all.

David Chappell

Two words sum up Mr Lewandowsky – intellectually dishonest.

RC Saumarez

@Pamela Gray,
“Climate puke”! So much better than Climate Porn!
Unfortunately, this weapons-grade idiot is coming to the UK, thereby lowering our academic standards still further. But at least he’ll have the same working hours as most of the Guardian readers.


I am now fairly convinced that wherever there is science denial, there is also a conspiracy theory waiting to be aired.

Is that right, Stephan? There was an awful lot of denial of science in Stockholm a few weeks ago in preparing the AR5 Summary of Political Malfeasance, with the scientific evidence now having to be rewritten to match the political statement (as per standard IPCC procedures). Are you convinced that a conspiracy theory is waiting to be aired that explains the political denial of a climate refusing to comply with models? Come on then, out with it.
A whole load of projection, as ever.
Lewpaper – I like it 😀

Pamela Gray

Continuing on with puke papers I found this at retractionwatch. The Sokal quote is priceless.
“Sokal told us he thinks the case raises other issues:
‘Last but not least, there is a huge open question, which concerns not Fredrickson and Losada but the entire psychology community, and particularly those people working in “positive psychology”. How could such a loony paper have passed muster with the reviewers at the most prestigious American journal of psychology, netted 350 scholarly citations, and been repeatedly hyped by the “father of positive psychology” (and past president of the APA), without anyone calling it into question before a first-term part-time Masters’ student in Applied Positive Psychology at the University of East London came along and expressed his doubts? Where were all the leaders in the field of positive psychology? The leaders in the application of nonlinear-dynamics models to psychology? Was everyone really so credulous? Or were some people less credulous but politely silent, for reasons of internal politics?'”


Oh, and he missed a sitter for Poland against England the other day…

GeneDoc says October 17, 2013 at 4:30 am

They published 25,000 papers last year. With their author pays model,

(bolding mine)
Sounds like the shortwave broadcasters’ model (the actual *owners* of the transmitters, not those whose voice you hear); for 50 to 75 dollars an hour on a yearly contract-commitment basis you, too, can have a national voice on a par with Lewandowsky or Alex Jones preaching or ranting on the subject of your choice …


You can get a much better appreciation of where this paper is coming from if you replace the words ‘Free-Market Worldview’ with ‘Libertarian worldview’ – and just how the author wants to control that which is a threat to his worldview.