Steve McIntyre writes:
Lewandowsky Ghost-wrote Conclusions of UWA Ethics Investigation into “Hoax”
Following the retraction of Lewandowsky’s Fury, the validity of University of Western Australia ethics “investigations” is again in the news. At present, we have negligible information on the University’s investigation into Fury, but we do have considerable (previously unanalysed) information on their earlier and illusory “investigation” into prior complaints about the ethics application for Moon Landing Hoax (“Hoax”).
This earlier “investigation” (recently cited at desmog here and Hot Whopper here) supposedly found that the issues that I had raised in October 2012 were “baseless” and that the research in Hoax was “conducted in compliance with all applicable ethical guidelines”.
However, these conclusions were not written by a university investigation or university official but by Lewandowsky himself and simply transferred to university letterhead by UWA Deputy Vice Chancellor Robyn Owens within minutes after Lewandowsky had sent her language that was acceptable to him.
In today’s post, I’ll set out a detailed chronology of these remarkable events.
Hoax was published under the supposed authority of the University’s ethics permit RA/4/1/4007, a permit which had been originally issued for an entirely unrelated project under which pedestrians in Perth were interviewed about their “understanding of statistical trends in time series data”. The original ethics application included an ethics checklist, which, according to Australian policy, included the following question whether the research involved any deception or concealment: “Does the research involve active concealment of information from participants and/or planned deception of participants”. To which Lewandowsky answered “NO”.
By August 2010, Lewandowsky had become bored with the time series project and instead wanted to show that skeptics were conspiracy theorists. Instead of interviewing pedestrians in downtown Perth about trends, Lewandowsky wanted to do an internet survey about conspiracy theories.
Lewandowsky’s new project was so different from the existing approval that many important sections of the existing application ceased to apply (even the purpose of the study as stated in the original application no longer applied.) But instead of filing a new ethics approval for the entirely different project, Lewandowsky chose instead to pass off the new project as merely an amendment to his existing project, falsely assuring the ethics administrator in an amendment request that the survey would only be “modified slightly”: