The actions of Skeptical Science as of late have gotten it and its affiliates into a bit of trouble, even having a paper pulled from a reputable journals site! Why? This quote from Climate Resistance (via Australian Climate Madness)
Readers will no doubt remember climate change psychologist, Stephan Lewandowsky and his attempt to connect climate change denial and scepticism to conspiracy theories.
Lewandowsky et al’s paper, ‘NASA faked the moon landing|Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science‘ was published on the author’s university web site, though it was presented as ‘in press’, shortly to be published by the Journal of Psychological Science. However, in spite of being ‘in press’, the article never made it to hard copy.
We might reasonably be allowed to speculate what the reasons for the paper not making it to print were. One reason may be that it was, as has been widely observed, utter BS. Even Lewandowsky’s own colleagues pointed out its many flaws in methodology, and its naked attempt to diminish Lewandowsky’s opposites in the climate debate — climate bloggers.
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.
The Conspiracy Crew of Skeptical Science
…[John Cook] and his psych sidekick Dr. Stephan Levandowsky are big on conspiracy theory studies as a tool to smear skeptics, quite certain that climate skeptics are mentally aberrant, even though they never gave the readers of this blog a chance to vote in their horridly self serving and skewed survey. Given that, I think a case could easily be made for psychological projection in Cook’s thinking. That flawed sampling of actual skeptic websites could be why Lewandowsky’s paper was recently pulled from publication by the scientific journal…. But, this behavior is pretty much par for the course given the juvenile antics we’ve seen from the cartoonist turned conspiracy theory publisher and the whole crew at SkS… (WUWT)
Who runs Skeptical Science? Popular Technology Blog explains:
Skeptical Science is a climate alarmist website created by a self-employed cartoonist, John Cook. It is moderated by zealots who ruthlessly censor any and all form of dissent from their alarmist position. This way they can pretend to win arguments, when in reality they have all been refuted. The abuse and censorship does not pertain to simply any dissenting commentator there but to highly credentialed and respected climate scientists as well; Dr. Pielke Sr. has unsuccessfully attempted to engage in discussions there only to be childishly taunted and censored while Dr. Michaels has been dishonestly quoted and smeared. The irony of the site’s oxymoronic name “Skeptical Science” is that the site is not skeptical of even the most extreme alarmist positions.
John Cook is now desperately trying to cover up his background that he was employed as a cartoonist for over a decade with no prior employment history in academia or climate science.
Thanks to the Wayback Machine we can reveal what his website originally said,
“I’m not a climatologist or a scientist but a self employed cartoonist” – John Cook, Skeptical Science (mouse over pic below to see it)
On the same expose of Skeptical “Science” we find two bios of skeptics:
Patrick J. Michaels, A.B. Biological Sciences, University of Chicago (1971); S.M. Biology, University of Chicago (1975); Ph.D. Ecological Climatology, University of Wisconsin-Madison (1979); Research and Project Assistant, Center for Climatic Research, University of Wisconsin (1976-1979); Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia (1980-1986); Virginia State Climatologist (1980-2007); President, Central Virginia Chapter, American Meteorological Society (1986-1987); Executive Board, American Association of State Climatologists (1986-1989); Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia (1986-1995); President, American Association of State Climatologists (1987-1988); Chair, Committee on Applied Climatology, American Meteorological Society (1988-1999); Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies, Cato Institute (1992-Present); Visiting Scientist, Marshall Institute (1996-Present); Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Member, Association of American Geographers; Member, Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society; Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia (1996-Present); Contributor and Expert Reviewer, IPCC (1990, 1992, 1995, 2001, 2007)
Roger A. Pielke Sr., B.A. Mathematics, Towson State College (1968); M.S. Meteorology, Pennsylvania State University (1969); Ph.D. Meteorology, Pennsylvania State University (1973); Research Assistant, Pennsylvania State University (1968); National Science Foundation Trainee, Pennsylvania State University (1968-1971); Research Meteorologist, Experimental Meteorology Laboratory, NOAA (1971-1974); Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia (1974-1977); Distinguished Authorship Award, NOAA (1974); Leroy Meisinger Award, American Meteorological Society (1977); Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia (1978-1981); Chief Editor, Monthly Weather Review (1981-1985); Fellow, American Meteorological Society (1982); Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University (1982-1985); Abell New Faculty Research and Graduate Program Award (1984); Deputy Director, Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (1985-1988); Professor of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University (1985-2000), Abell Research Faculty Award (1987/1988); Researcher of the Year, Colorado State University Research Foundation (1993), Pennsylvania State Centennial Fellow (1996); Alumni of the Year, Pennsylvania State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (1999); Colorado State Climatologist (1999-2006); Engineering Dean’s Council Award, Colorado State University (2000); Adjunct Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Duke University (2003-2006); Fellow, American Geophysical Union (2004); Visiting Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona (2004); Senior Research Scientist, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado-Boulder (2005-Present); Senior Research Associate, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado-Boulder (2005-Present); Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University (2007-Present)
What is done then is summed up well by a forum post after quoting a doctorate holding climatologist who is skeptical of the claims that man is driving the climate change we see (or don’t see):
So, what John Cook has done with his various statements is to draw a cartoon version of what skeptics like Professor Lindzen have said and then debunks it. The end result is about as accurate as a bugs bunny cartoon explaining quantum physics. But then, what would anyone expect of a website ran by a self employed cartoonist?
And as Popular Technology Blog points out those who are more serious about climate have concluded through critique or obfuscation the cartoon’ish character of Skeptical Science:
- Refuting 104 Talking Points from Skeptical Science (PDF) (28pgs) (Lubos Motl, Ph.D. Theoretical Physics, March 29, 2010)
- Skepticalscience – Rewriting History (Shub Niggurath Climate, October 10, 2011)
- Roger Pielke Sr at the SS.com: A dark day in the climate science debate (Shub Niggurath Climate, September 18, 2011)
- Skepticalscience.com quote surgery on Pat Michaels (Shub Niggurath Climate, January 18, 2012)
- My Interactions With Skeptical Science – A Failed Attempt (So Far) For Constructive Dialog (Roger A. Pielke Sr., September 17, 2011)
- Final Comments On My Interaction With Skeptical Science (Roger A. Pielke Sr., September 21, 2011)
- Response To Skeptical Science On A Series Of Weblog Posts (Roger A. Pielke Sr., October 25, 2011)
- A Response to Skeptical Science’s “Patrick Michaels: Serial Deleter of Inconvenient Data” (Patrick J. Michaels, January 17, 2012)