Stephan Lewandowsky's ethical lapses allowed his science to be published without oversight

Cook_lew-ethics

John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky – smear masters hiding behind “ethically approved” research.

As if there could be any more ludicrous antics from this plonker, we now find that Dr. Stephan Lewandowsky pulled a bait and switch on ethical approvals for his psychological research papers at the University of Western Australia that were designed from the start to smear climate skeptics. It’s so unreal, it can only be called science fiction, or perhaps Lewdicrous SciFi.

Steve McIntyre observes in More False Claims from Lewandowsky:

…I’ve been mildly interested in Lewandowsky’s claims about people subscribing to contradictory beliefs at the same time, as for example, the following:

While consistency is a hallmark of science, conspiracy theorists often subscribe to contradictory beliefs at the same time – for example, that MI6 killed Princess Diana, and that she also faked her own death.

Lewandowsky’s assertions about Diana are based by an article by Wood et al. entitled “Dead and Alive: Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories”.

He goes on to say:

…nowhere in Wood et al 2012 is there any explicit statement that only two respondents purported to believe in the Faked Death theory that was highlighted in the abstract. Had readers been aware that only two people purported to subscribe to this theory, then they would obviously not expect “many people to give high endorsement to both theories”. Unfortunately when zero people subscribed to both theories, one cannot justifiably assert that “In Study 1(n= 137), the more participants believed that Princess Diana faked her own death, the more they believed that she was murdered”.

Got that? Zero.

A new FOIA on the ethical approval process for Lewandowsky’s research has been obtained by Australian Climate Madness.

Simon there has done a Yeoman’s work in getting to the bottom of Lewandowsky’s machinations, and it illustrates vividly why FOIA is so important in verifying if researchers have behaved ethically and professionally when nobody is watching them.

Shub Niggurath has done a summary of the whole affair laid bare by Simon’s work and it is a case study in noble cause corruption in my opinion:

The now-withdrawn Lewandowsky Fury paper (link) is possibly one of the egregious examples of ethically compromised research encountered.

The approval was granted as a “follow-up” study to the ‘Moon’ paper. The ‘Moon Hoax’ paper was itself was approved under an application for “Understanding Statistical Trends”. As recounted here, “Understanding Statistical Trends” was a study where Lewandowsky’s associates showed a graph to shopping mall visitors and asked questions (link pdf). This application was modified to add the ‘Moon hoax’ questions on the day the original paper was accepted for publication. The same application was modified for the ‘Recursive Fury’ paper. Each modification introduced ethical considerations not present in the previous step. Nevertheless, three unrelated research projects were allowed to be stacked on to a single ethics approval by the university board. In this way, Lewandowsky was able to carry out covert observational activities on members of the general public, as they reacted to his own work, with no human research ethical oversight.

Complaints to the University of Western Australia have been deferred, complaints to journals (including mine) have been ignored.

Won’t somebody, anybody, in a position of authority stand up for decency, honesty, and integrity when it comes to Lewandowksy’s bogus ‘science’? Or are you all too timid and complicit in protecting one of your own?

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Jquip

Wut. So asking people questions is an issue of ethics in human experimentation? I assume by this that we’re all on board with the idea that the students need ethical waivers if they wish to query the teacher.

Sorry to say, the answer to your last question is no. Lewandowsky created a meme, and even though now thoroughly discredited, the acolytes will continue to use it until called upon it.

Tim Walker

He is a member of the enlightened ones and as such must be protected for now. It will be a good sign when the worst offenders get tossed out of the enlightened ones protection.

Jim Cripwell

Anthony, you ask “Won’t somebody, anybody, in a position of authority stand up for decency, honesty, and integrity when it comes to Lewandowksy’s bogus ‘science’? Or are you all too timid and complicit in protecting one of your own?”
I am glad to see someone else asking the same question that I have been posing for weeks. You can refer to my contributions to WUWT. I have asked the same question wherever I can. I am afraid you will get the same answer as I have got. NO!!! As Roy Spencer put it in the same sort of question. No-one has the gonads to stand up to The Team, backed by the Royal Society, the American Physical Society, all the other learned scientific organizations, and virtually the whole of academia. We are David fighting Goliath, without a slingshot.

JohnWho

Won’t somebody, anybody, in a position of authority stand up for decency, honesty, and integrity when it comes to Lewandowksy’s bogus ‘science’?
But, if they did that with Lewandowsky, then they would have to do it for all the scientists.
Oh, wait… never mind.
🙂

Ethics smethics!!!
Perfect.

They’ve jumped the shark by accusing everyone who disagrees with the most radically alarmist views on climate of mental illness.
This brutal tactic might have worked, had it been tried a few years ago, but since the number of people who have doubts about whether more taxes will save the climate now constitutes a majority, the joke is falling flat.

I learned recently that it was Dr Seuss who coined the word “nerd”.
(This is not off topic.)

Mycroft

“Won’t somebody, anybody, in a position of authority stand up for decency, honesty, and integrity when it comes to Lewandowksy’s bogus ‘science’?”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
NO! this what passes as science and academic behaviour these days, you only have to look back at the first batch of Climategate emails to see how this sort of scientists conduct their research.. and ultimately themselves. And to think he’s now been allowed to come and teach in the UK!!

Peter Miller

“Plonker”
Definition: A peddler of pseudo-science, and/or a senior figure in an ineptocracy, such as ‘Climate science’. More commonly used in the context of someone who has difficulty in walking and chewing gum at the same time.
Lewandowsky?

David L. Hagen

Steve McIntyre concludes:

That Lewandowsky should make untrue statements will hardly occasion surprise among CA readers. However, drawing conclusions from a subpopulation of zero does take small population statistics to a new and shall-we-say unprecedented level.

As C.S. Lewis wrote: ““I wonder what they do teach them at these schools?”

Ken G

“While consistency is a hallmark of science, conspiracy theorists often subscribe to contradictory beliefs at the same time – for example, that MI6 killed Princess Diana, and that she also faked her own death.”
Another example would be the idea that a particularly cold season is just weather but warm one is climate, no? Or early snows burying the western US is just weather, but tropical storm Sandy was global warming.
Seems to me I hear those contradictory arguments from the same people who spin tales about big oil funded conspiracies. I think Lew is onto something.

Lil Fella from OZ

Unfortunately this person did operate in my land. Please, can some other country adopt this self exalted brilliant man. Note, I did mention ‘self’ appraisal. Sadly, we have these types, taking over a scientific debate and at the same time ruin the standard of science, trashing it. I think he should wear one of those trackers so we know where he will appear next with another irrational ‘master-piece’.

Crispin in Waterloo

Truth is the foundation of all virtues. Without truth, there is no moral foundation. A purposeful omission is as crafty as a lie. By their fruits ye shall know them. The revolution comes when those in authority are realized to be otherwise untouchable. When a civilization is in decline, it does not slide, it totters. Once tilted, the descent is inexorable.
Patience friends, the lamp of climate ignorance is sputtering. It is a strange thing, that lamp, for though it is fed precious oil and burns, it casts a penetrating darkness.

No-one has the gonads to stand up to The Team, backed by the Royal Society, the American Physical Society, all the other learned scientific organizations, and virtually the whole of academia. We are David fighting Goliath, without a slingshot.
I don’t expect anyone in academia to stand up to the team, after all, the academics are mostly self-centered cowards. But we do have a slingshot; and that would be mother nature. CO2 has nothing to do with the recent small warming up-tick. (ok, maybe a tiny bit) The simple fact of the matter is that cold winters and cool summers will finally make fake-Dr. Mann and his team’s bs unsupportable and then one day everyone will say that they were skeptical all along. Someone will even say that he had a computer model that showed that we were entering a cooling phase all along. (I’ll find him and @#$@#$-slap that fellow)
Now some may say that calling most of the academics self-centered cowards is over the top. It might even get me moderated for the first time ever. But time after time throughout history the majority of academics have sought to protect their job rather than stand up for the truth. Besides, they are mostly state worshiping rent seekers.

Alex

And when you blow a gasket and do something remotely out of the ordinary (to try and draw attention to an egregious transgression of intellectual ethics in furtherance of the manipulation of all of society and to the detriment of the poor), you will be labelled a “kook” who doesn’t go through the proper academic channels.
They own those institutions and they ain’t gonna be held to account. In my own state, the %$^% Virginia Supreme Court redefined the University of Virginia a “private corporation” to thwart Cuccinelli and protect Mann/UVA from embarrassment. Ahhh, my tax dollars at work against me.
Lawsuits are an expensive and blunt tool, but they sometimes work. Maybe.

The emperor has no clothes.

John West

philjourdan says:
“Sorry to say, the answer to your last question is no. Lewandowsky created a meme, and even though now thoroughly discredited, the acolytes will continue to use it until called upon it.”
No. They will continue to use it even after its been refuted, debunked, disproven, and thoroughly invalidated.
Case in point: 97%. Need I say more?

@John West – You are correct. I meant that they will use it with impunity until proven wrong, then they will move on to the next unsuspecting target and use it. They will continue to use it, just not against those who are informed and prove them wrong.

mikemUK

Jquip @ 1.16pm
Unless I’m mistaken you have misunderstood a point at issue here – getting approval from UWA for one study by submitting necessary relevant details, and then piggy-backing two further and unrelated ‘studies’ without submitting relevant details, just handwaving to the university rules.

Gunga Din

The problem with Lewandowsky isn’t that he’s a clown. The problem is that too many people don’t know he’s a joke.

tommoriarty

Re: Peter Miller
“ineptocracy”
That is a great word. I like it.

rogerknights

Hans Erren says:
November 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm
The emperor has no clothes.

ICPP!

Robin Hewitt

Peter Miller says: “Plonker” Definition: A peddler of pseudo-science
Is that right, I always thought it meant someone drunk on cheap wine. ie: drinker of plonk

Jim Cripwell

Markstoval, you write “But we do have a slingshot; and that would be mother nature.”
You are correct. However, we have to wait for Mother Nature to give us the right ammunition. That is taking a long time, and I am not sure how much more time we have, before irreparable damage is done.

Jquip

mikemUK — “Unless I’m mistaken you have misunderstood a point at issue here ”
Wouldn’t doubt in the least that I’m confused here. As I understand it, Lew baby is in the dock for not get an ethical sign off to ask questions. Which, certainly, would be a violation of process. But if so, I’m completely lost on the idea that you need permission to ask questions. Or that it is somehow related to human experimentation rather than basic chit-chat.

lurker, passing through laughing

Pleading for his peers to do something about his faux science only makes you look weak, anthony.
Lew is not worth this much attention. He is just another academic hack, rent seeking and posing with non-academics and other proven academic hacks.
Psychology is a disreputable science precisely because his peers won’t, for whatever reason, police their own. Lew’s phonied up work is fairly comoonplace in psychology, from what has been shown in the past.
Lew is a loser. Don’t let neverwuzzers like him get under your skin.

Anthony, you operate an ethical, legitimate and creditable website. You downgrade yourself by giving some of these guys any space or time. They are gleeful to see skeptical websites publish or mention their nonsense.
So why not ignore them like they don’t accept any skeptical views.

I don’t follow the nonesense creatures such as Lewenducky peddle, but I am often forced to endure the memes. It’s nice to know why the memes are false.

Tom J

To refer to Lewandowsky’s shenanigans as noble cause corruption is to give them far more dignity than they deserve. Everything that comes out of his mouth is more like an ignoble barf eruption.

I’ll go a step further: Lewenducky knows his cause is ignoble, at best.

Mac the Knife

Jquip says:
November 8, 2013 at 1:16 pm
Wut. So asking people questions is an issue of ethics in human experimentation? I assume by this that we’re all on board with the idea that the students need ethical waivers if they wish to query the teacher.
Jquip,
Is this more of your ‘game theory’ dissembling? Setting up a strawman to knock down? Really???
Honesty, integrity and self-respect are not ‘games’ or ‘theory’. They are absolutes. You either have them engrained….. or you don’t. If you have them engrained, you are ethically bound to not lie, cheat, or mislead to ‘win’ personal or political advantage. It is clear that ethics do not constrain Mr. Lewandowsky. How ’bout you?
In the movie The Alamo, John Wayne stated it succinctly “There’s right and there’s wrong. You gotta do one or the other. You do the one, and you’re living. You do the other, and you may be walking around, but you’re as dead as a beaver hat.”
MtK
http://youtu.be/RtXq1dPMBqM

Mac the Knife,
Thanks, I have been looking for that clip ever since I first saw it. Couldn’t remember what movie it was from. There’s a lot of good advice there. Got it bookmarked now.

Jquip

Mac the Knife: “… you are ethically bound to not lie, cheat, or mislead to ‘win’ personal or political advantage. ”
Fair cop, let’s try you out. Ah wait, we cannot as you didn’t address the substance of the post. One might accuse you of an ethical lapse by misleading things rather than addressing the topic. So short bus words for you:
Do you consider asking questions, like this one, human experimentation?

Since I’m dummer than MtK, I’ll play this game for the entertainment value, and ’cause I’m bored waiting to drive to the woods and murder defenseless antlered animals.
Asking questions can be a form of human manipulation. For instance, I can ruin a weekend with family by asking my retirement-age and somewhat feeble mother pointed questions about her belief in deity. The ethical oversight is specifically targeted at creatures such as Lewenducky who target the public with questions intended to /=(_)(/, with people. At this juncture, it is clear that he intentionally manipulates research and reports to mislead the public. Such creatures should not be permitted the authority that association with scientific organizations affords.
Should students need ethics committee permission to ask professors questions? !-!!=_!_!_ no! Professors and students are private individuals who have agreed to engage in academic study and instruction. Consent and competence to consent is pre-established. Random individuals in shopping malls, however, are no more informed regarding participation in purportedly scientific surveys than the antlered mammals at which I will point my firearm.

M Courtney

Dale Hartz says:

So why not ignore them like they don’t accept any skeptical views.

Sorry, I strongly disagree.
The people we disagree with might be right. They should be heard. We should defend their right to be heard so we can learn from them.
And then when they are fools they can be exposed as such.

Anything is possible

Lil Fella from OZ says:
November 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm
Unfortunately this person did operate in my land. Please, can some other country adopt this self exalted brilliant man. Note, I did mention ‘self’ appraisal. Sadly, we have these types, taking over a scientific debate and at the same time ruin the standard of science, trashing it. I think he should wear one of those trackers so we know where he will appear next with another irrational ‘master-piece’.
======================================
He’s over here now (UK) – thanks for nothing!
Will you take him back if we let you regain the Ashes?

wayne

I agree with Dale Hartz , why let WUWT be their greatest loudspeaker?
What happened to all of the great science contrarian papers and articles spelling out why they are all wrong? Not all of those papers, like any, even the proponents “peer reviewed” pseudo-sceince, are not 100% correct but the bulk of the information held within is correct and this is one of the only sites to find it. Hit ’em where it hurts.

It will be interesting to watch the scramble over to the other side when all this DOES break, because break it will. To me, though, this is already criminal. I used to think these people were misguided, but now I know better – this is all very deliberate and has been for a long time.
By the way and O/T – Bishop Hill is down, I’m getting a “No such account exists” message. The Bish was there this morning.

M Courtney

Mr or Mrs Anything is possible, Steady on!
We don’t want Lew to work in the UK.
We don’t want Lew to work in Oz.
We don’t want Lew to work anywhere if he’s going to keep on working without integrity.
But we do want to keep the Ashes.

Txomin

Lewandowsky needed to fool the “system” (that is, very specific people needed to be fooled). In other words, the “system” was not complicit but taken advantage of (that is, very specific people were taken advantage of). Lewandowsky will find it harder to do this again. And this is so partly because of our host, Mr. Watts. Thank you, my friend.

Khwarizmi

The phrase “conspiracy theorist” is just an Orwellian epithet designed to pathologize people who recognize problems with official accounts of certain events. It is the modern version of the words blasphemy, sacrilege or heretic, deployed to create and maintain taboo.
When an extremely alarmed taxi driver grew desperate in his effort to change my mind about climate change on April 27th last year, he resorted to asking if I thought “it” (climate mania) was “all just a conspiracy.
I replied, “Yes I do! But if you prefer to call it a Universal Failure of Intelligence that resulted in thousands of western politicians and journalists and climate experts marching in goose-step to warn us of an imminent danger that turned out to be nothing more than a sexed-up fantasy, then that’s fine by me. Just so long as you understand that it was a fantasy.”
The driver was a skeptic by the time I paid my cab fare.

Mac the Knife

Jquip says:
November 8, 2013 at 3:20 pm
Mac the Knife: “… you are ethically bound to not lie, cheat, or mislead to ‘win’ personal or political advantage. ”
Fair cop, let’s try you out. Ah wait, we cannot as you didn’t address the substance of the post.

Jquip,
Certainly I addressed the substance of the post. It is clear that ethics do not constrain Mr. Lewandowsky.
Perhaps you were referring to your comment at 1:16pm? Clearly you did set up and knock down a strawman, as I pointed out. As such, I believe you have already ‘tried me out’, even as I have ‘outted your try’. ‘Nuff said for today.
MtK

KNR

‘Won’t somebody, anybody, in a position of authority stand up for decency, honesty, and integrity when it comes to Lewandowksy’s bogus ‘science’?’
in the name of ‘the cause ‘ ALL THINGS are justifiable.
This is the man the RS choice to hand a load of cash to and that Bristol University choice to take on when he escaped from Australia.
Frankly if I was student at Bristol I would demand to have my work marked on his ‘standards ‘ as I could put any old rubbish in and pass no problem .

Jquip

Mac the Knife: “Certainly I addressed the substance of the post.”
A review from the big, bold bit in the OP — “Each modification introduced ethical considerations not present in the previous step.”
That is, his survey questions raise ethical considerations because they fall under human experimentation as defined by the University. So now that you’ve studiously avoided the topic and question at hand, and continue to attempt to mislead and derail with Red Herrings, then we have established that you are an unethical individual. Or just plum stupid,. I’ll let you pick which.

KenB

I guess with time and the way truth tends to come through eventually, there is a huge opportunity for others to study and report on Lewandowsky and the curious pairing with Michael (I am a victim) Mann, the wonderful background of the CRU emails, the use of propaganda and its role in the memes associated with Global Warming, should spawn a whole new industry, something to keep warm in a cooling world!!

KenB

Actually it’s a Lewmann disaster for them!

johanna

Jquip says:
November 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm
mikemUK — “Unless I’m mistaken you have misunderstood a point at issue here ”
Wouldn’t doubt in the least that I’m confused here. As I understand it, Lew baby is in the dock for not get an ethical sign off to ask questions. Which, certainly, would be a violation of process. But if so, I’m completely lost on the idea that you need permission to ask questions. Or that it is somehow related to human experimentation rather than basic chit-chat.
———————————————————————
Jquip, it is not about “needing an ethical sign-off to ask questions”, as even a cursory reading of the relevant posts would reveal.
At a fundamental level, if you are going to ask questions of people and use their responses for your research, you need to inform them and get their permission.
But what Lewandowsky did was much worse. He wrote a form letter to UWA claiming that his new paper was just based on reactions in the public domain, thus not requiring any scrutiny for ethical purposes. What he actually did was participate in a debate on his blog, and use that material (inter alia) for his “Recursive Fury” paper, now withdrawn and never likely to be seen again. He not only misled UWA, he broke just about every rule in the book about both ethics and research methodology.
The paper itself is so riddled with errors, misattributions and just plain libel that it is now snuggling up with Gergis et al at the bottom of the sea, in between the Treasure Chest and the mermaid.
Oh, and Bishop Hill has crashed for me as well. Hope it’s nothing serious.

Grant

I believe Diana was killed in a car crash because she entered a tunnel supported by pillars with no guard rails in a limo driven by a drunkard. Yes we went to the moon, those strange horn noises in the sky are from TRAINS, Shell oil is not drilling in the Arctic with nuclear bombs and Ozwald made a decent shot that was not impossible or surprising.
So why would I believe in catastrophic anthroprogenic global warming?

u.k.(us)

I kinda like to think of myself as a “Fury”.
So, now what… next victim ?

charles nelson

Jquip.
Asking questions of individuals, recording the answers, then using the data collected as the basis for a ‘scientific’ theory, requires a degree of structure and strictness which clearly was not present in this case.
Your obtuse clinging onto this small irrelevant point marks, whilst wilfully ignoring the ‘big picture’ marks you out as a ‘Believer’…tell me it’s not so!

Stephan Lewandowsky has one of these of ethical systems:
1) a mystical ethical system, a supernatural entity is the source of ethical values
2) a collectivized ethical system, ethical values are derived from criteria about what is good for society.
3) subjective ethical system, all ethics are merely arbitrary based on ones emotions and whims
4) an individual focused ethical system based on the nature of individual human capacity for reason and knowledge.
I think Lewandowsky’s lack of professional integrity is caused by his ethical system being based on subjectivity. It looks like he is just making up stuff in his research and justifying it ethically by his arbitrary whimsical emotions such as righteous feelings.
Wrt those commenters suggesting that Lewandowsky is too unimportant to be getting so much skeptical attention, I am in partial agreement. But also think that periodically mentioning his work in the context of its demonstrated falseness is necessary for speeding and aiding science’s self-correction process.
John

john abercrombie

Science and Lewandowsky. Two words that should never appear in the same sentence.

OssQss

If one defames another in public, they are liable for damages if such is an untruth. It is that simple.
Sue, or shut up is what I have been told.
In most cases, the perpetrator has monetary gains in play from such liable action.
When faced with the repercussions of their actions, most perpetrators fold quickly.