Benefit of the Doubt(er)

April 18, 2013 9 Comments
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By Amfortas:

The raging of Global Warmists against the doubters, calling them ‘Deniers’ and worse, often much worse, seems not matched by the doubters’ considered and more instructive observations about them. There is something deeply psychological about the disconnect in GW fanatic’s minds which, although I spent 25 years as a psychologist, frankly I just cannot be arsed figuring out.

In Oz we have an arch-GW apologist/defender/advocate who is also a psychologist and does give an arse. But not about figuring out and providing a balanced and accurate assessment of his ‘opponents’. ( I never had any ‘opponents’ in my modest private-sector career, but this chap does. I had clients or patients). In fact he finds ‘opponents’ everywhere. No, he is a Professor, so research and analysis and even clients are beneath him. Politeness too. He can go straight to conclusion without the need to discuss evidence.

A rat’s arse from me is countered by a pig’s ear from him, knitted from the remnants of a taxpayer’s silk purse.

But Joanne Nova is on the case.

Stephan Lewandowsky’s work is a case study in government funded inanity. Some Australians are sure that burning coal will make storms stronger. Others are not convinced. In November 2012 Lewandowsky’s intellectual contribution to science in Australia was to call the unconvinced “stupid”. If that’s not inane enough, at the same time he claimed that he didn’t receive funding from any organisation that would benefit from his article.

How many taxpayer dollars went towards funding that? No conflict of interest?

http://joannenova.com.au/2013/04/lewandowsky-prof-of-psychology-thinks-the-labor-party-doesnt-benefit-if-he-calls-their-opponents-stupid/

Jo has been harassing the GW set in general, and the Psych in question lately in particular, with careful analysis and detective work for several years now and terrifies those she gets in her sights. She is formidable ( and quite a pretty sort too!). She writes:

In the end, a government appointed group of “experts” like the Climate Commission, declared that humans made a storm worse, and a government funded psychologist says they’re right and everyone else is dumb (or as good as liars) because they are not convinced we are changing the weather.

And she is kind too. She could go for the throat of any number of greedy GW sods, including the ‘chain of command’ that hands public monies to the likes of the Professor in WA. But instead she simply looks deeply into their competence.

Stephan Lewandowsky is a Winthrop Professor according to his CV. UWA tells us that is the highest level of researcher, earning $ 162,396. And that says a lot about standards at UWA, in the School of Psychology, and at the mostly government funded “Conversation” (which got $6 million in grants to get started). Lewandowsky’s name is listed on ARC grants totalling $2 million since 2007. (See here and here). More often, his “Disclosures” simply say he gets money from the ARC and has no commercial interest.

Stephan Lewandowsky is funded by Australian Research Council Grants (ARC). The ARC is headed by a Labor Party Minister (though you’d have trouble figuring out which one, after Julia Gillard’s emergency reshuffle). The ARC site has a link to a “Minister” which now points at eight ministers. The top dog, probably, is The Hon Craig Emerson.

No Conflict of Interest?

For variety of subject and source I will put a sporting quote in here. From say, Tennis. “ARE YOU SEEERIOUS?!!”

The Australian Labor Party is an organization which has hinged everything on a belief that man-made climate change is a problem worth spending billions on. Their future and status are arguably “improved” if seemingly independent experts write about how smart they are, and how stupid the voters are who disagree with their climate policy. The Labor Party is not funding Lewandowsky directly, but Labor party members are in Government now, and decide what the Australian Government funds. The ARC is “an independent body” whatever “independent” means when the panel appointments, and the size of their funding is determined by the Government (and amount to about $880 million per annum). The ARC mission is to deliver policy and programs that advance Australian research and innovation globally and benefit the community. Note the word “policy”.

Fundamentally, Lewandowsky and most academics are reliant on big-government handouts. He scorns the small-government crowd, and thinks they are the blindly driven free-market-people who can’t make rational decisions:

“People who subscribe to a fundamentalist conception of the free market will deny climate change irrespective of the overwhelming strength of the scientific evidence.”

Which only goes to show how little he knows about the free market, and how divided on tribal lines this is. The free market ultimately is what provides the funds for big-government to feed its fans. It’s not perfect, but irrational decisions don’t last long in a competitive market.

Yet, here is a Prof of Psychology, apparently unable to see even the potential for a “conflict of interest” in this chain. His entire career depends on big-government, and he thinks he can write quasi-science-opinions that slur opponents of big-government policies and pretend there is no conflict?

Blinded by his own ideology perhaps?

It is quite common for some in the Blogocracy’s ‘ below-stairs’ to look for Conspiracies. Not Jo. She surveys the field and finds no need. Not when layers of sheer incompetence is a far likelier rationale. Heck, these are Lefties she is looking at.

I may be called a “Conspiracy Theorist” for pointing out the conflict. But there’s no conspiracy necessary here. I’m suggesting a systematic failure and incompetence on every level. Craig Emerson probably has no idea how badly ARC funds are spent. The ARC may not know either. I seriously don’t think anyone higher up has ever phoned Lewandowsky to ask him to write this kind of fallacious and barren prose. As far as I can tell, he is pursuing his own personal belief rather than being “hired” to do so. The editors of The Conversation didn’t see the inanity, possibly because it’s their personal pet topic too, they are a product of big-government, and they were never trained in logic and reason either. And all of the lack of rigour is funded by the taxpayers of Australia. Layers and layers of sloppy thinking that would never survive in the free market.

The real problem here is that someone is responsible for handing hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to incompetent people, and no one has demanded that Professors of science follow the tenets of science or the laws of reason. Lewandowsky, of course, is welcome to call us stupid deniers if he feels that way, but why is the taxpayer funding this kind of unscientific namecalling?

Jo has received several prestigious awards in the blogosphere. She is adored by a growing number of critical thinkers, analysts and writers as good as she. As a mere scientific novice and all round lazy sod, I happily read what she says after she has done all the work, and thank the Lord above for such a smart, readable woman.

(Note: The ‘Conversation’ referred to is a website originally set up to be a mouth for University bods of note, but which publishes mostly crap from Post-Grads who cannot crack the learned journals. And Profs like the Psycho in question)

9 Responses to Benefit of the Doubt(er)

  1. James
    April 18, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Great read!

  2. Radical Rodent
    April 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    I felt that I had to make some comment when I saw Prof. Lewandowsky’s logic on this “Recursive Fury” site, “exposing” the “conspiracy theorists”, who he obviously is convinced make up the “deniers”:

    • Nefarious Intent: Assuming that the presumed conspirators have nefarious intentions. For example, if person X assumes that blogger Y colluded with the New York Times to publish a paper damaging to X, then X presumes nefarious intent on the part of Y.
    • Persecuted Victim: Self-identifying as the victim of an organised persecution.
    • Nihilistic Skepticism: Refusing to believe anything that doesn’t fit into the conspiracy theory. Note that “conspiracy theory” here is a fairly broad term and need not involve a global conspiracy (e.g., that NASA faked the moon landing) but can refer to small-scale events and hypotheses.
    • Nothing occurs by Accident: Weaving any small random event into the conspiracy narrative.
    • Something Must be Wrong: Switching liberally between different, even contradictory conspiracy theories that have in common only the presumption that there is something wrong in the official account by the alleged conspirators. Thus, people may simultaneously believe that Princess Diana faked her own death and that she was assassinated by MI5.
    • Self-Sealing reasoning: Interpreting any evidence against the conspiracy as evidence for the conspiracy. For example, when climate scientists are exonerated of any wrong-doing 9 times over by different investigations, this is reinterpreted to imply that the climate-change conspiracy involves not just the world’s climate scientists but also the investigating bodies and associated governments.

    Can he not see that this applies more to those who are convinced about the impending horrors of AGW than those who are doubtful?

    Mind you, I do think that the term “denialist” is ascribed to the wrong people, i.e. those who are merely unconvinced; those who are truly in denial are those who deny that there could be any questioning of the science; deny that there could be another explanation – they even deny that the temperature has been at a standstill for a decade and a half!

  3. April 18, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    “calling them ‘Deniers’ and worse”

    Good point. I think we’ve tended to forget how appalling that was as a kind of mass ad hominem. Intentional too, let’s not forget that.

  4. David A. Evans
    April 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Have you seen the videos of this guy?
    Damn, if he was a sceptic I’d begin to doubt my scepticism.
    As for Jo, apart from the middle initial…
    DaveE.

  5. mona
    April 19, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Just go to Geoengineering watch.com open your eyes please.

    • Radical Rodent
      April 19, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      mona:

      Giving us the correct title for a link would give greater credence to your argument. (Or perhaps I am presuming too much that you mean geoengineeringwatch.org.)

  6. Greg Tingey
    April 22, 2013 at 8:29 am

    GROW UP
    GW is real.
    It is almost certain that mankind’s activities have a large part in the recent increase (i.e. the past 50 years or so)
    We can’t afford to mess with this one ….

  7. Andrew Duffin
    April 22, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Greg: and the flatlining and cooling that’s also happened during the last fifty years? Is that our fault too? What’s the mechanism here, that sometimes increasing CO2 causes warming and sometimes it doesn’t?

    And what has any of this to do with growing up?

  8. Radical Rodent
    April 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Andrew, don’t bother poking Greg. He is a rather grumpy bunny who could not spot any truth that was in direct contradiction to his devoutly-held beliefs that the only way out is to the left (way, way to the left); only the State can provide the solution, no matter how wrong that solution may be. From his days childishly hugging trees, he has Grown Up, and now hugs windmills.

    :roll:

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