Lewandowsky and Cook lose the plot

It's Lew, no it's Cook, no Lew, Cook, Lew, er, hang on...

It’s Lew, no it’s Cook, no Lew, Cook, Lew, er, hang on…

[UPDATE 3 [8 Feb, 07.30 AEST]: Jo Nova has more on Mr Hubble Marriott here.

[UPDATE 2 [7 Feb, 18.40 AEST]: This is all in the public domain now, so I am sharing it here. The fourth author on this paper, Michael Hubble-Marriott, is the “Mike” who is responsible for the Watching the Deniers site (sorry, what are we denying again? Duh). Mike couldn’t contain his glee at being asked to be part of the team, so he revealed it all on his blog. I guess you judge people by the company they keep…]

[UPDATE: John Cook responds in the comments below.]

It’s typical isn’t it? You take a break and then, well, stuff happens. But this particular ‘stuff’ is too good to pass up.

The University of Western Australia’s very own Nutty Professor, Stephan Lewandowsky, goes full-on stupid, with best buddy John Cook of Un-Skeptical Pseudo-Science, by publishing another risible paper on the ludicrous “moon landing denier theory” previously discussed widely here and on the net (see here and here and here and here and plenty more).

But wait… This time, instead of labelling anyone daring to question any part of the climate consensus as a crazy conspiracy theorist, it’s anyone who questions Lewandowsky’s moon landing denier paper, who’s, er… a crazy conspiracy theorist.

It’s snappily entitled Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation, but what it actually represents isn’t recursive fury, but recursive idiocy: rational, if sometimes irritated, responses to an idiotic paper confected into yet another, this time doubly idiotic, paper. It’s bullshit squared, in other words.

So I assume that this post on ACM will be used as evidence to show that because I dare question this paper, I am (yet again) a crazy conspiracy theorist – and Lew will write a paper about that in due course. Will it ever end? [No – Ed]

Here’s part of the abstract:

This article analyzes the response of the climate blogosphere to the publication of LOG12 [shorthand for the ‘moon landing denier paper’]. We identify and trace the hypotheses that emerged in response to LOG12 and that questioned the validity of the paper’s conclusions. Using established criteria to identify conspiracist ideation, we show that many of the hypotheses exhibited conspiratorial content and counterfactual thinking. For example, whereas hypotheses were initially narrowly focused on LOG12, some ultimately grew in scope to include actors beyond the authors of LOG12, such as university executives, a media organization, and the Australian government. The overall pattern of the blogosphere’s response to LOG12 illustrates the possible role of conspiracist ideation in the rejection of science, although alternative scholarly interpretations may be advanced in the future.

No acknowledgement of the multitude of obvious failures in the original paper’s methodology, just more of the same ideology, plugged as science.

The full text is here (PDF). I’m proud to say that this humble blog gets three mentions – I will wear those mentions as a badge of honour.

I can’t be arsed (or assed for our American readers) to bother even reading it let alone wasting my time responding (I used the search function in my PDF app to find out where ACM was mentioned, by the way), it’s so laughable. I’ll leave it to the incomparable Ben Pile at Climate Resistance to eviscerate this latest steaming heap of ‘research’:

I have little interest in parsing the 57 pages of the new paper [yep, with you there, bro], to get the measure of the remainder of what Lewandowsky believes are conspiracy theories. It seems sufficient to say that, whether or not the comments in question do betray a tendency of the authors towards conspiracy theorising, they were a response to a poorly-conceived research exercise which was transparently intended to frame the debate as one between science on the one hand, and idology/conspiracy theorists on the other. If the internet has a gutter, in which thrive conspiracy theories and pointless interminable flame wars between people who have little grasp on the real world, Lewandowsky’s work is amongst it.

But what is remarkable, however, is that seemingly academic research should have fallen to this level. Lewandowsky reduces academia to a silly blog comment war. He drags journals, and research organisations into this war, undermining the value of research in general and trust in it. The thrust of Lewandowsky’s paper is ‘I picked a fight on the Internet, and this is what people said about me’, which, of course, omits any criticism of his work that may enable him to develop a better argument.

And that’s the point. Lewandowsky’s research is intended to reduce the phenomenon of ‘scepticism’ and ‘denial’ without taking any notice of what sceptics say, except when it confirms to the stereotype Lewandowsky wants to demonstrate the existence of. No doubt that’s a ‘conspiracy theory’ on his view, but the truth is much simpler: either his mediocre talents aren’t sufficient for the critical self-reflection necessary to produce robust research, or an inflated ego precludes critical self-reflection.

Ultimately, ‘research’ of this kind will bring the academy down with it, because drawing attention to, and publishing Lewandowsky’s work means demonstrating to the world the fact that quite often, academic researchers are as petty-minded, ‘idologically-motivated’, and pig ignorant as the worst of online commentary.

Are you hearing this, UWA?


  1. What a total waste of time and effort that was – pages of verbose self reassuring crud that seeks to dismiss any evidence outside the propaganda machine’s official version of events as being fantasy. Lewandowsky is deep inside the matrix and glosses over any evidence of the global governance agenda whilst subtly attacking all those beliefs that dont fit with his indoctrinated views. He gets paid to write that ?
    I still haven’t had a reply to my email Lewandowsky

    • Peter Hannan says:

      I’ve just signed up to your blog, so maybe it will take time for this to get through. I’m a teacher (in Mexico) and have to deal with modern ‘thought’ in training sessions, and in my own research on teaching. Amongst social ‘scientists’, psychologists and other humanists there is a philosophical plague rampant, called by various names, ‘constructivism’ and ‘social constructivism’ being two prominent ones. Now, constructivism in education, as a limited theory about how we learn and can or should teach, has much going for it. But the rest is unashamed and uncritical idealism, philosophically speaking, a la Bishop Berkeley; no relation to the criticism of rational observers, no acceptance of experimental tests, a closed circle of ‘I think therefore what I think is true.’ Lewandosky, on the basis of what I’ve read of his, is clearly in this camp, completely ignorant of and / or opposed to science as Karl Popper understood it, a critical method for arriving at objective truth (even if we never quite get there). When you’ve read a certain amount of this guff (and, really, universities and citizens are paying handsomely for this?), you get to recognise it, and drop it immediately in the nearest recycling project.

  2. Simon, you won’t read the paper so you quote another critic that also hasn’t read the paper? To be honest, I’m more interested in hearing more from commenter Stuart Edwards. Please, tell me more about this global governance agenda, Stuart.

    [REPLY – John, is there really any point in me reading it? No, of course not – but I will nonetheless (good job I downloaded a PDF this morning, it’s disappeared already from the web site – wonder why?). But I cannot for a minute imagine it will do anything other than repeat the same old claims that anyone who questions the “consensus” (even any part of the consensus, no matter how small) is an ideologue and a conspiracy theorist, and must have another agenda at work – like obsessions with “free markets”.

    The papers rarely make any distinction between “deniers” in the true sense of the word, and Lukewarmers, like myself and the majority of (proper) sceptics who accept fundamental greenhouse theory and plenty else, but question the magnitude/severity and the cost/benefit of climate action etc. That in itself demonstrates that the analysis is over-simplified and naive. Why bother to engage and try to respond? Nothing I say will make any difference! Unfortunately, Lew’s increasingly pitiful attempts to use psycho-babble to discredit and demean those he disagrees with polarises this debate even further than it already is. But if that’s how you and he want to play it, so be it. Simon]

    • Richard S Courtney says:

      Simon, you say

      it’s disappeared already from the web site – wonder why

      The recent paper by Lewandowsky has been withdrawn by the publisher because Jeff Condon objected to its containing an egregious falsehood.

      The difference between what Condon has said and the assertion in the paper is a fundamental difference of fact. That difference is of the same kind as the difference between, e.g.
      (a) ‘The recorded amount that was stolen has been altered’
      (b) ‘The theft reported to the insurers did not happen’.

      All the global temperature data sets are often altered such that recent temperatures are raised and temperatures from decades ago are lowered; e.g. see

      The changes to global temperature calculations increase the temperature rises indicated by the global temperature data sets. And it is reasonable to raise issues of scientific method and propriety when discussing these adjustments to the data.

      The disputed statement in the paper says something completely different. It says

      Conspiracist ideation is arguably particularly prominent on climate blogs, such as when expressing the belief that temperature records show warming only because of systematic adjustments (e.g., Condon, 2009) …..

      There is no dispute that global temperature data sets are often altered by adjustments and that these alter the degree of recorded global warming. The objected sentence says Condon has asserted there is no global warming indicated by the global temperature data sets except for the rise introduced by the adjustments to the data.

      The objected statement is egregious in several ways.
      It is factually incorrect but is cited as evidence in a research paper.
      The factually incorrect statement misleads about the reality of the subject of the paper.
      The paper assesses “conspiracy ideation” and the statement seems to provide evidence of a false belief in a conspiracy (i.e. global warming is ‘made up’ and not real).
      It misrepresents the views of Condon as being a believer in a false conspiracy
      It is personally offensive to Condon in that its misrepresentation is derogatory of the views Condon expresses on his blog.
      Use of fabricated evidence is sufficient reason for withdrawal of any paper from publication. The objected sentence provides a falsehood that has no justification: it is fabricated evidence.


    • Hey Johnnie…you..you…amazingly “learned person” you.

      We acknowledge, we are not worthy. But if it pleases your excellence, may I approach and offer some humble advice?

      Why, would you seek to sully your breathtaking intellect by interacting with someone so obviously low brow and beneath your enlightened status as commenter Stuart Edwards? His views on global governance, as you would be aware, are clearly delusional. And further to this your excellence, he probably has an offensive body door, being of such low intellectual status. Why put yourself in such an uncomfortable position I ask?

      Instead, you could should hear the sweet gems of pure knowledge that flow freely from the mouths of the magnificent specimens of society closer to your exquisite status; such as the fabulous Dr Bob Brown?

      Or…your superior investigative skills you could conduct some fascinating research into the mental state of Ottmar Edenhofer of the UN’s IPCC fame, who says:-

      “First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole”


      Or you could just read the…ahem..”Scientific American” piece entitled:- “Effective World Government Will Be Needed to Stave Off Climate Catastrophe”as you sip your soy latte at a trendy campus cafe.


      Yes, it’s a planetary emergency. Who will save us?

      ..and the children, won’t somebody think of the children???

  3. Dr Robert D Hare in his book ‘Without Conscience – The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us’ believes there are many psychopaths in everyday life who although not the extreme serial killer types we know from the press/films do cause untold damage in society. He calls them sub-criminal psychopaths.

    He goes on to say – In most cases they select professions in which the requisite skills are easy to fake, the jargon easy to learn, and the credentials are unlikely to be thoroughly checked… Thus psychopaths find it easy to pose as financial consultants, counselors, and psychologists.

    Remind me, what is Lewandowsky’s profession?

  4. I completed a science degree at this joke of a university. I really feel like sending it back. The credibility of science is being seriously damaged by Lewandowsky, Flannery, Karoly and other assorted cranks. I guess the only way to stop them is just to cut off their funding. Hopefully then they will crawl backs under the rocks that they came from.

  5. Does Lewandowsky really believe that he can pass his warped opinon of AGW sceptics ( or deniers as he prefers to call us) as scientifically based because of his ludicrous moon landing paper ? Is he really saying that all those who reject his “research” are guilty of “conspirascist ideation” and “counterfactual ” thinking? He can dress his bullshit up as much as he likes with complex phrasiology but the core of his work is an exerscise in petty minded ,reactionary name calling which would have no place in a junior high school debate let alone a tax payer funded tertiary institution.

  6. Surely it’s meant as a ‘spoof’ otherwise Lewandowsky and Cook have become the new Kath and Kim of the climate debate.

    ‘Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation’ … seriously?

  7. Simon, the point of reading the paper is if you’re going to criticise it, you really should understand what you’re criticising. Our analysis stresses that there is nothing inherently wrong with criticising the original ‘moon landing paper’. In fact, we even provide an example of an appropriate, non-conspiracy-theorising critique of the research (talk about handing it to you on a platter). ‘Recursive Fury’ examines the nature of the criticisms – when they involve accusations of deception, of nefarious intent, display persecuted victim complex, are self-sealing and broaden to include more and more conspirators, they display the characteristic traits of conspiracy theorising.

    An analytical critique of Lewandowsky’s statistical methods is fair game, even welcome. I heartily recommend you learn some structural equation modelling and obtain Lewandowsky’s data which is freely available online. But conspiracy theories like Lewandowsky being the puppet master of a global climate activist operation, of accusing scientists of lying about their methodology thus egging people to complain to UWA about unethical behaviour or accusing the UWA ethics department of being in on the conspiracy – these only serve to reinforce the findings of the initial result – that people who reject scientific consensus are prone to conspiracy theorising.

    [REPLY – 🙂 I have to smile! Despite all your soothing and reassuring talk about how Lew’s methods are “fair game” and how you have critiqued your own research etc, I’m just not buying it. I wish I could, but I can’t. I have read too much of both your and Lew’s writing (both at SkS and STW) on the climate debate over the years ever to be convinced that this research is anything other than a rather poorly executed attempt to discredit those who disagree with you. None of Lew’s pieces on climate show even an glimmer of humility or self-reflection – an acknowledgement that ‘gee, maybe I could be wrong on this’. On the contrary, they exhibit extraordinary arrogance and astonishing hubris. Neither of those traits would encourage me to change my view on his motives.

    If this research had come from a source that had not compromised his/her own position e.g. by not, in your case, being the creator of a site set up for the specific purpose of ‘exposing’ sceptics as frauds, by rejecting any possibility of doubt in the “consensus” (and therefore, logically, no need for any kind of free thought on the subject – “debate’s over”), and in Lew’s case, writing inflammatory posts on The Drum and The Conversation smearing “deniers”, it may (and I stress MAY) have had more credibility. But I’m afraid the present authors are too deeply tied up in the anti-denial movement to be regarded as anywhere near neutral on the subject.

    You and Lew have both nailed your climate colours firmly to the mast for us bystanders all to see – you cannot now write supposedly “impartial” academic papers and expect them to be taken at face value. Simon P.S. I still intend to read the paper]

    • By the way, I also know which nasty anti-denier website the fourth author on your paper writes. If people knew, it would blow what little credibility the research had remaining out of the water. The lack of judgment on display here is stunning.

    • And it gets worse… “Climate Realities Research” appears to be a fictitious organisation. A Google search reveals it literally didn’t exist until about five days ago, when this paper was first published. I think I’m reviewing my decision to even read this stuff.

    • Richard S Courtney says:


      I draw attention to my reply to you above. It is also pertinent here.

      Fabricating data to smear people [allegedly] is not acceptable in a supposedly technical paper.


  8. I agree with John Cook. You really should read the paper. You’ll learn a lot, Particularly from what is missing from the paper. [snip] John expresses several times his admiration for Stephan and the pleasure he takes in “poking the ants nest”. This was revealed in comments on the very blogs which are used as evidence in this latest paper. [snip] This is presumably the reason that the survey which is the basis for LOG12 was never advertised at Skeptical Science, despite the repeated assertions of the authors of this paper to the contrary.

  9. Geoff, it’s a shame that Simon snipped your conspiracy theories from your comment (fortunately I was emailed a copy having subscribed to this comment thread so your efforts were not wasted). Have you posted your theories on your own blog? Can you provide URLs?

    [If Geoff has provided a link, it will be via his name in the comment. Continue this elsewhere please – Ed]

    • I hope to post something on my Manicbeancounter blog in the next 24 hours. It has struck me that John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky display the worst excesses of conspiracy theorists. This includes:-
      – Highly discriminatory evaluation of the evidence or hypotheses dependent upon whether it supports or rejects their viewpoint.
      – Defining “quality” of evidence by who says it, rather the quality of what is said.
      – Use of pejorative language for opponents and laudatory comments for fellow believers.
      – Polarizing the argument into experts who can perceive the truth, against incompetents and liars.
      – Claiming to understand opponents better than they know themselves, whilst deliberately misstating their arguments. E.g. http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics.php?g=47
      – Complete failure to recognize alternative hypotheses, or downplay (“debunk”) those explanations.

      One positive thing that has happened of late. John Cook has removed the offensive labels from his SkS website – such as “Monckton’s myths”

  10. Well said Simon!

    Who knows, Cook and Lewandowsky are so much the type example of confirmation bias that perhaps in the future we will simply refer to it as “Cooklew syndrome”. As in “He’s so blind to the facts he suffers from Cooklew syndrome.”

  11. On the editor’s suggestion, I’ve posted on this at my site, explaining the snips and John Cook’z comment.

  12. Blackadder says:

    So why has the “paper” disappeared from the journal website John Cook?

    And did you ever answer the question of whether, as originally claimed, the “survey” for this piece of “research” was hosted at your site?

  13. Man Bearpig says:

    Lew’ writes that those that are critical of AGW are more likely to believe in conspiracies. Is that not a conspiracy theory in itself?

  14. Streetcred says:

    Nearly pissed my pants laughing at the climate clowns attempted paper … and the journal has pulled it already !! These guys have a lot in common with a puddle, soon they’ll just be evaporated into history.

  15. The world according to Lew and Cooke:
    – Water is the leading cause of drowning
    – Water is the main ingredient in herbicide and pesticide
    – 100% of all people exposed to water will die
    – Over consumption of water will lead to death
    – 100% of all rapists, serial killers and drug dealers have consumed water
    – Excess water has been linked to catastrophic floods
    Therefore water is evil!

  16. Would be very interesting to do a “conspiracy theory” survey of non-practicing acedemic psychiatrists and wannabee cartoonists. Bet it would come out showing they were as loopy as a box of fruit loops. !!

  17. Well said AndyG55. I find a great similarity in the way john chook and prof. loopaper et al stick together and the way s@#t sticks to a blanket.Nobody in their right mind denies climate change ,it’t natural.The cause is however another matter,If these morons really think that MANMADE CO2 is the cause, do the right thing and stop breathing top yourself.You know, I was 70 miles at sea the other day and found an empty bottle floating ,WHAT we found was Life ,A little Crab a few Barnacles and some weed,A microcosm of LIFE.The moral of the story “life goes on” even on a piece of floating rubbish.And life will go on when we are gone.

  18. It gets worse. From
    Sandy Hook massacre a ‘hoax’, say conspiracy theorists […]
    there are .. people who believe .. that September 11 was a Government plot, that grassy knoll aliens killed Princess Diana, and so on.
    According to Stephan Lewandowsky, a conspiracy theory expert and the Winthrop Professor at the University of Western Australia’s School of Psychology, the main reason is that it “explains away something that’s scary”…
    So do we ignore them? The problem is, once these ideas gain traction, they can influence more people and ultimately influence public policy. Prof Lewandowsky says conspiracy theories – and he counts climate change denial among them – are “extremely concerning”.

  19. Hey Baldrick do you remember the Petition at Cancun to Ban Di Hydrogen Monoxide.Would have been interesting in Dohahaha.

  20. The arrogance and hypocrisy burns but it is nice to demonstrate to John Cook that some websites (usually only sceptical ones) can deal with contrary opinion.
    I know for a fact that such dissent is not tolerated on his own website or youtube channel.
    Regarding the original paper be Lew it is a joke and, as a science graduate and tax payer I have already written to his employer to voice my disgust at what passes for multi-million dollar research at that establishment.

  21. Stuart Wissing says:

    Both Lewandowsky and Cook are just puppets…
    Misinterpretation scientists….of the most dangerous kind. Professor David Blair you need to address this immediately..! **Science the death of objectivity**your University has become a laughing stock in the minds of those who are well aware of the truth.
    This should be hallmark in you new university logo.
    Eugenicists don’t you just live em.

  22. John Cook says “if you’re going to criticise it, you really should understand what you’re criticising” It is a pity that he does not apply that to himself because it it very clear he has no understanding of the engineering sciences (ie thermodynamics, heat & mass transfer, fluid dynamics etc) necessary to understand the processes which affect the state of the atmosphere. If he does not understand the subject or the processes involve how could he make a judgement about what any person, who maybe more knowledgeable or even at his own level of ignorance, expresses an opinion on. One of the supposed gurus of Climate science, Dr Gavan Schmidt (of real climate fame) admitted he did not know about the Schmidt number so demonstrating lack of understanding of engineering science. If the gurus are incompetent, where would you rank the lesser mushrooms (good Australian saying kept in the dark and fed bulls—t).
    John Cook -do you know that there is a Professional Engineers Act in Qld which comes under the criminal code, also do you know that the is a Public Sector Ethics Act which applies to Universities as well as the public service and local government? The name of your site could be a breach of the Ethics Act and some of the content not only be non-ethical but also criminal.

  23. Peter Davis says:

    About the moon landing conspiracy discussion.

    The astronauts left a retro-reflector behind on the moon.

    Since that time, geodesists began to fire pulses of laser light at the retro-reflector. This enabled them to measure global distances and coordinates of high accuracy survey stations with unprecedented accuracy and precision. As far as I know, there may still be agencies which are using the retro-reflector.

    It must have gotten there somehow, and the only way how is by lunar landing.


  1. […] Update, Simon says: Lewandowsky and Cook lose the plot […]

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