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The journal that gave in to climate deniers' intimidation

In February 2013, the journal Frontiers in Psychology published a peer-reviewed paper which found that people who reject climate science are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories. Predictably enough…

The threat of legal action can have a “chilling effect” on academic freedom. Shutterstock

In February 2013, the journal Frontiers in Psychology published a peer-reviewed paper which found that people who reject climate science are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories. Predictably enough, those people didn’t like it.

The paper, which I helped to peer-review, is called “Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation”. In it, cognitive scientist Stephan Lewandowsky and his colleagues survey and analyse the outcry generated on climate skeptic blogs to their earlier work on climate denial.

The earlier study had also linked climate denial with conspiracist thinking. And so by reacting with yet more conspiracy theorising, the bloggers rather proved the researchers' point.

Yet soon after Recursive Fury was published, threats of litigation* started to roll in, and the journal took the paper down (it survives on the website of the University of Western Australia, where Lewandowsky carried out the study).

A lengthy investigation ensued, which eventually found the paper to be scientifically and ethically sound. Yet on March 21 this year, Frontiers retracted the paper because of the legal threats.

The episode offers some of the clearest evidence yet that threats of libel lawsuits have a chilling effect on scientific research.

Legal context “insufficiently clear”

In announcing its retraction, Frontiers made the following statement:

In the light of a small number of complaints received following publication of the original research article cited above, Frontiers carried out a detailed investigation of the academic, ethical and legal aspects of the work. This investigation did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study. It did, however, determine that the legal context is insufficiently clear and therefore Frontiers wishes to retract the published article. The authors understand this decision, while they stand by their article and regret the limitations on academic freedom which can be caused by legal factors.

The retraction of Recursive Fury has attracted sharp criticism from the scientific community.

In the course of private discussions, I have learned that a number of scientists who had submitted work to Frontiers fired off letters to express their dismay at the retraction and to seek assurances that their studies would not be retracted under similar circumstances.

Other researchers went public with their remonstrations. One scientist who lists 23 peer-reviewed scientific publications on her Frontiers profile page bluntly challenged the journal’s judgement and commitment to academic freedom in a comment posted under the retraction announcement:

I am dumbfounded to see a scientific paper retracted by the editor because of threat of libel. The fundamental job description of a science editor should include the defense of academic freedom. I certainly expect my newspapers to defend freedom of the press; do scientific publications now hold themselves to lower standards?

The inside story

As one of the peer-reviewers of Lewandowsky’s paper, I am also profoundly disappointed by its retraction. Here, I’ll share my experience with the review, publication and retraction processes and provide some more context to the story.

Early last year, I accepted the journal’s invitation to review Recursive Fury, a narrative analysis of blog posts published by climate deniers** in response to Lewandowsky’s earlier work in which he and his colleagues showed that endorsement of free-market economics and a propensity for conspiratorial thinking are contributing factors in the rejection of science.

(**A note here on the use of the term “denier”. Denial is defined as “a refusal to accept that something unpleasant or painful is true” – eg. “The patient is still in denial.” No fewer than 97% of climate scientists now endorse the scientific consensus on the reality, causes and significant risks associated with climate change. The term “climate change denier” or “climate denier” describes an individual who rejects the science of climate change and the considerable body of evidence on which it is based. It has no further meaning or connotation beyond this.)

Recursive Fury was theoretically strong, methodologically sound, and its analysis and conclusions – which re-examined and reaffirmed the link between conspiracist ideation and the rejection of science – were based on clear evidence. Satisfied that the paper was a solid work of scholarship that could advance our understanding of science denial and improve the effectiveness of science communication, I recommended publication. Two other independent reviewers agreed.

The paper names and quotes several blogs and individuals. Shortly after publication, Frontiers received complaints* from climate deniers who claimed they had been libelled in the paper and threatened to sue the journal unless the paper was retracted.

After taking the paper down from its website, Frontiers began its investigation and arranged a conference call so that the journal’s manager, legal counsel, editors and reviewers could discuss how to proceed.

The journal’s lawyer, who is based in England (as was Lewandowsky by that time), was very concerned about the journal being sued for libel. At that time, British libel laws left scientists, peer-reviewed journals and journalists exposed to potentially ruinous lawsuits for publishing fair criticism of a company, person or product. (Of all the jurisdictions in which academic journals are published, the UK has historically been one of the most generous to libel claimants.) That changed on January 1 this year, when Britain’s libel laws were amended to reverse the chilling effect on science and legitimate public debate. Claimants must now show that they have suffered “serious harm” before launching legal action.

But in February 2013, the journal had no such protection, and the lawyer raised concerns about two sentences in the paper that had been the subject of threats of litigation. By the end of the 20-minute conference call, we had all agreed that, if the authors made minor modifications to these sentences, the content would remain intact and the paper could be re-published without fear of successful legal action.

Before the call ended, three academics, including me, argued that scientific journals must not be held to ransom every time someone threatens litigation. In response to our concerns, we were assured by the journal’s representatives that the legal matter would be considered settled once the two sentences had been amended as agreed.

Yet the paper remained in limbo while the journal’s investigation into the academic and ethical aspects of the study dragged on for more than a year. Finally, the journal reached the conclusion that there was no academic or ethical case to answer; in the meantime, Britain’s Defamation Act 2013 had kicked in to provide scientific journals greater protection against threats of litigation, by privileging statements contained in peer-reviewed studies.

It is hard to imagine a set of outcomes that would have better remedied each issue flagged by Frontiers as a matter of concern. So it came as quite a shock to hear that the journal had decided to retract the paper ostensibly because “the legal context is insufficiently clear”.

Clear intimidation

Just how clear would the legal context need to be for Frontiers to stand up to intimidation and defend academic freedom? First, the two sentences discussed in the conference call had been amended as agreed, which satisfied the journal’s lawyer even under the former libel laws. Second, Britain’s new libel laws offer science journals greater protection for precisely this kind of situation.

In any event, the journal’s management and editors were clearly intimidated by climate deniers who threatened to sue*. So Frontiers bowed to their demands, retracted the paper, damaged its own reputation, and ultimately gave a free kick to aggressive climate deniers.

I would have expected a scientific journal to have more backbone, certainly when it comes to the crucially important issue of academic freedom.

*Since this article was published, Frontiers has issued a statement denying that it received “threats”, but acknowledging that it received “complaints”, and reiterating its earlier statement that the paper was retracted for legal reasons. Professor Lewandowsky has responded to the new statement here.

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  1. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. In reply to Gary Luke

      Comment removed by moderator.

    1. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to John Phillip

      Assuming the author is correct - it's a clear case of good guys vs bad guys - it's a shame we don't hear any details of what the deniers have said or why their threats might have created fear.

      The details seem to be all over the skeptic blogs.

      It's like having a recording from inside the plotters' den and forgetting to use it. What a missed opportunity!

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    2. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to James Jenkin

      just read blogs like Watts and Nova on the paper and their comments section reactions should explain all, astroturfing

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    3. David Peetz

      Professor of Employment Relations at Griffith University

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Yes, the University of Western AUstralia's position is very important, and gratifying.

      Congratulations to the authors of this article, and of the original paper.

      This episode reflects poorly on Frontiers in Psychology.

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    4. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to cindy baxter

      Cindy, the link quotes McIntyre as follows:
      "The Lewandowsky article made a variety of defamatory and untrue allegations against me with malice. I accordingly sent a strongly worded and detailed letter to the journal formally requesting that they withdraw the allegations and retract the article. I didn’t “instigate a libel lawsuit” or get “a lawyer involved” but the letter was a formal one. It was my hope that the journal would recognize the many defects of the Lewandowsky article and behave responsibly, as they eventually did."
      He expilicitly states that he did NOT threaten the lawsuits.
      Perhaps, given the discussion about the protection of/from free speech that the Con is hosting, the UNI decided that the Lewandowsky piece may indeed be defamatory and withdrew it for those reasons?
      Seems that there's a lot of conspiracy theories being suggested on this site at the moment.

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John Phillip

      John, the journal withdrew the article, the University of WA has not done so and stands by it - see Mike Hansen's post above this.

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    6. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to John Phillip

      They do not threaten lawsuits, they do however whip up their followers into a frenzy to do so, wee comments at blogs like nova and Watts,
      clearly their were threats, that is undeniable

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    7. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to john byatt

      Bit like what happens at Real Climate et al. Whenever you get sites acting as one end of a polemic, you're going to get that type of repsonse from some individuals. The author doesn't really go into much detail at all about the pressures applied. Neither does the article that Cindy linked to (desmoblog), so the statement "They do not threaten lawsuits, they do however whip up their followers into a frenzy to do so" is contentious.

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    8. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to John Phillip

      so you have evidence of real climate whipping up attacks on people?

      not contentious, fact

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    9. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to James Jenkin

      "it's a shame we don't hear any details of what the deniers have said or why their threats might have created fear.

      The details seem to be all over the skeptic blogs."

      So you did hear the details then. How can you say "we don't hear any details"?

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    10. Sou from Bundanga

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      You'll see that at the time of Professsor Lewandowsky writing his article, there had been 29,300 views. As of now, not yet two weeks later, their paper at Frontiers has been viewed 43,580 times :) That's got to be close to a record for the journal itself. Other popular papers don't seem to have had anything like the number of views.

      Of course most views are only of the abstract. I expect the full paper at UWA has been downloaded a bit since then too.

      http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00073/impact#impact

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    11. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    12. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to helen stream

      Helen, thanks for proving the point made by the paper under discussion.

      It is clear that you are a climate change denier, and it is also clear that you believe in some great conspiracy involving the U of WA, CSIRO, the BoM, etc.

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    13. Brett Lanyon

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to helen stream

      Wow I hope you're not a science teacher, that vitriol takes the cake!!

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    14. In reply to Tom Fisher

      Comment removed by moderator.

  2. Paul Richards

    integral operating system

    Appreciate the article and context related to the current (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report. What is interesting it is the conservatives in North America and Australia that are behind climate denial, taking a contrary position to other conservatives in most developed countries. Even our constitutional parent the United Kingdom's conservatives are acting on climate change.
    What most of us forget is this denial fits with five stages of grief or the Kübler-Ross model. The anger demonstrated in the threats to sue consistent with a shift in thinking through the stages of grief. The positive side of this reaction to climate change is that it signifies that the others stages of bargaining, depression and acceptance follow. How quickly and in what order is the unknown.

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    1. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to John Newton

      Appreciate the comment and context.
      John Newton wrote; " Those opposing climate change in America and australia are not true conservatives ..." The issue of conservative and non conservative is very subjective. However the context of the comment might better be seen as; neo liberal [NL] conservatives and 'true conservatives' in Europe are already adapting to the opportunities of climate change.
      To illustrate this European NL mindset Peter Brabeck's Nestle chairman and former CEO outspoken position…

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  3. Jack Bowers

    Learning Adviser

    If the journal has withdrawn the article, then I would imagine that this action also ends its copyright entitlements over the article. Therefore, it frees the authors to offer the article to another journal for publication.

    Given the added interest in the article generated by the spinelessness of the original editors, it's an excellent opportunity for editors of an alternative journal to show their mettle. Let's hope some still survive.

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    1. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Jack Bowers

      Yeah I was wondering this as well.
      I would have thought another journal could pick this up - can someone shed light on this?

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    1. John Campbell

      farmer

      In reply to Roger Jones

      I have a word for the sort of reply you received 'crapology'. Generally the stringing together of many high sounding words that mean absolutely nothing.

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    2. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Roger Jones

      Frontiers said: "Frontiers is not engaged in the climate science debate, but is clearly engaged in favor of solid science, and that it is of regret that the weight of the different factors involved led us to the conclusion that we had to retract the article."

      A very polite and non critical choice of words that makes it clear that the article was withdrawn because it did not meet the criteria for "solid science".

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    3. Roger Jones

      Professorial Research Fellow at Victoria University

      In reply to Chris Harper

      No. As stated above:

      Frontiers carried out a detailed investigation of the academic, ethical, and legal aspects of the work. This investigation did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study.

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    4. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Chris Harper

      The concerns of the sceptics were legitimate

      "This is just another paper trying to hide the fact that AGW is nothing more than a ruse to bring in a one world government run by the anti christ by trying to make us all look like utter nutters who reject the moon landings"

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    5. David Roth

      Postgrad History Student

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Chris, so much for the freedom of speech for all individuals you were only yesterday so ardently defending in respect of proposed changes to the RDA. As the article said, there were no issues with the ethics or science. What was that about a right to make speech which offends others? So are you going to defend Lewandowsky's freedom of speech?

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    6. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Roger Jones

      "it is of regret"

      How can there be regret and not caving in at the same time?

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    7. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to Roger Jones

      They gave their reason as not being engaged in the climate science debate, but in science itself.

      Which is precisely what many of us are also arguing.

      Just because they didn't give you the answer you were looking for, Roger, does not make it a non-answer.

      You too by your actions merely cause me to lose even more faith in what passes among certain parties these days as "science".

      Good reason I opted so many years ago for independence as a research scholar, allowing the data to speak for itself in preference to unwarranted domination and distortion by campus-bound academics and their endless politics.

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    8. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to John Campbell

      Science, and the climate science debate, are plainly two different animals.

      Declining engagement with climate change debate does nothing to discredit science; quite to the contrary, it reflects discipline and rigour.

      Where this business needs to be finally if action is to be taken toward ameliorating the impact of human species rampancy on this planet.

      And then, as we also know, allowing another 200 years at least before any turnaround is evident.

      Everything else in the meantime is just more hot air.

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    9. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      "Just because they didn't give you the answer you were looking for, Roger, does not make it a non-answer."

      Strawman by false presumption.

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    10. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to Elaine McKewon

      Aha, Elaine, so their 'very polite' way of not saying anything at all, especially in your view as a journalist they should not do science without having to deal with controversy, becomes pretext for you and your ilk to beat up even more controversy, and confront them with it even further?

      I remain appalled.

      All I can see in the outcome, because our trust and confidence in science is being so systematically and abusively destroyed, is less and less likelihood that action will be taken.

      Go figure.

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  4. John Campbell

    farmer

    You better believe, in its own way this is war. Don't ever underestimate to what lengths the denialist industry will go to to silence or discredit opposition to their world view or comfortable existences.

    After all this sort of thing is hardly new. Imagine just how much money would have been paid to the Russian hackers to break into personal emails for example, and there are many other cases of litigation, or the threat of it used against scientists etc.
    Not to mention the amounts of money that have been poured (generally secretly) into the coffers of denialist groups.

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  5. Edward Campbell

    Old Left-wing Geek at Northern New Mexico high desert country

    Cowardice is not a scientific virtue.

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  6. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    It obviously is great for scientists to have scientific journals in which they can publish papers and though you would have to be of a certain appreciative type to work your way through some papers ( the one in question though claimed to be theoretically strong and methodically sound, rather heavy on many references at the start at least and not an encouragement to continue reading so judgement waived ), I can see how some people could have adverse thoughts.
    For instance:
    " he and his colleagues…

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    1. In reply to Greg North

      Comment removed by moderator.

    2. Craig Read

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg you are a contradiction to your own statement: "It could be quite likely that conspiracists will not have such an open mind on their judgement of the paper."

      When it comes to AGW, your mind is a steel trap closed for all eternity. I honestly don't think anything will ever convince you that it is happening. Even if you had the sea lapping at your doorstep, you'd still find a reason why we shouldn't do anything.

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    3. Rob Honeycutt

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg North... Your link goes to a... peer reviewed comment published in a reputable journal?

      Nope. Not even close.

      It goes to icecap.us, which is a website funded by the fossil fuel industry.

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    4. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Rob Honeycutt

      Rob, I did not look behind who supports or funds that site and I half suspected somebody would come up to inform me on that and yet it was more the parallel or basis of information on which 97% is claimed, that 97% btw being re articles from as far back as 1991 according to the link Elaine gives.
      It is somewhat defeatist for supporters to continually use 97% without full examination as leverage and then criticise other information just because of where funding may have come from.

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Greg North

      No, Greg, as ever you ignore the bits you can't answer. Not only did Rob cite the funding source (which, frankly, in this context, IS suspicious) he also pointed out that it was in no way validated or peer reviewed, let alone published in an even vaguely respectable journal. That, more than anything, is what makes if pretty much worthless.

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    6. William Daffer

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Greg North

      It's somewhat self-defeating when arguing against claims that "endorsement of free-market economics and a propensity for conspiratorial thinking are contributing factors in the rejection of science" by complaining about a peer reviewed paper and posting as a counter-example a website hosted by a petroleum lobbying group (e.g. endorsing free-market economics) and claiming that the 97% 'might not be so' with no more evidence but your say so. (a species of conspiracist ideation, in my book)

      Clearly…

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    7. Andy George

      logged in via email @yahoo.com.au

      In reply to William Daffer

      It's interesting how people are able to completely disregard anything either funded by or directly done by a carbon based industry due to the "conflict of interest", yet there is more than certainly a conflict of interest with climate scientists too.
      So, a climate scientist says "here's a problem, give me $2 million in funding to look into it", how is that not a conflict of interest?
      I can certainly see both sides (bit like the tobacco industry doing medical studies and concluding there's no harm…

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    8. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Andy George

      If Andy has this much distrust and disrespect of academics and scientists, why is he at The Conversation other than to lobby?

      We need a FRI (Frequently Raised Issues) section so that rather than answering the issue of whether scientists are just as biased as the oil and coal companies, we can just refer to the FRI.

      In fact it is interesting to see just how many of the common denier memes have been raised here already. How many times has each of these issues been debated? Yet here we are again rebutting the same old.

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    9. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Good enough reason is audit and analysis, Michael.

      Which is precisely the sort of data on which Stephan Lewandowsky based his paper.

      I'd be curious to know how a similar work based on comments here would be received by its subjects, and in that whether any consistency in the argument would emerge in the analysis.

      Just so you know that behind the scenes is a lot more science than you may be prepared to acknowledge.

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  7. Chris O'Neill

    Retired Way Before 70

    "deniers' intimidation"

    And they have the hide to complain about restriction of their freedom of speech. Shameless lying hypocrites.

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  8. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. cindy baxter

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Indeed that was not the case. The statement made by Frontiers included these words:

      <i>"This investigation did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study."</i>

      Frontiers made it very clear it was the legal aspects that forced the withdrawal of the paper.

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    2. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Yes Chris please put up or... Well you know the rest.

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    3. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Chris Harper

      No, you just have a poor understanding of the scientific method, statistical analysis and peer review process.

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    4. In reply to Fred Smith

      Comment removed by moderator.

  9. Comment removed by moderator.

  10. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. In reply to Rex Gibbs

      Comment removed by moderator.

  11. Geoff Henley

    Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

    There are two sides to every story but predictably the editors only allow the side with which they personally agree with to be published. The author’s assertion that this is merely a journal being intimidated by sceptics (not deniers) is deceptive and misleading.

    As Paul Matthews, associate professor and reader in mathematics at the University of Nottingham, noted in a comment at the Frontiers site:

    “While the retraction of this paper is to be welcomed, the claim that the “investigation did…

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    1. Rob Painting

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Over the course of many years online, I generally find many contrarians all too willing to indulge in conspiracy theories, so the findings of Lewandowsky are hardly a surprise.

      None of which changes the reasons for the retraction as stated by the journal - they simply lack the backbone to stand up for valid research.

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    2. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      "its conclusions were not supported by the data."

      Whats this?, i thought that they were all complaining that they did not have access to the data, re letter to UWA

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    3. In reply to john byatt

      Comment removed by moderator.

    4. Patrick Maher

      Retired Doctor of Psychology and Academic

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Then why didn't they not publish the paper along with a clear notice of your concerns and the precise calls on validity that you make? These must have been known at the time. Seems to me that the points you make would be of considerable substance and interest to other Psychologists and Scientists and would also be a significant contribution as an Editorial Addendum to a published paper. It would not be the first time I had seen reasoned and substantiated editorial caveats on research articles and…

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    5. Patrick Maher

      Retired Doctor of Psychology and Academic

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff, thanks for this link.

      I have tried to see this from both your side and the Vice Chancellor's and I guess I can't see in your request for information to the University that your purpose for wanting access to the data is academic. That does make me think, well, maybe...

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    6. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff, I think many become tired of reading conspiracy theorists and their ideas. There is one side which can substantiate the vast body of evidence, and the other which cannot.
      Quadrant prefers the latter.
      Why would anyone here be interested in the opinions of the loon- right

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  12. Ben Marshall
    Ben Marshall is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Writer

    Someone else recently pointed out that while scientists and those of us who follow the science of climate change are defensively debating the issue, our opponents are kicking and punching.

    There is no equivalent organisation to tackle the Murdoch press anti-science campaign, and only small, pockets of poorly financed pro-science proponents to take the fight to the Koch brothers, Fox News and the Heartland Institute's big money war on science.

    Just as Big Tobacco is waging a deliberate, prolonged…

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    1. Rob Painting

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      We just have to deal with the cards we are dealt. Considerable harm and suffering is already dialled into the climate system because of the inertia of the oceans. A sizeable El Nino appears to be building in the equatorial ocean, so it will be interesting (and possibly depressing) to see how the Great Barrier Reef copes with another marine heatwave this coming summer. I suspect we could see a major die-off of the reef.

      Also, there's no need to mimic the behaviour of people in denial, but there are lessons to be learnt. For example simple messaging. Climate trolls plaster their nonsense all over the internet, and many of them stick because they are easy to remember. Climate science communication should be simple and "sticky".

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    2. Patrick Maher

      Retired Doctor of Psychology and Academic

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      Got this dead right Ben.

      I wonder if the deniers can exercise enough humility and vulnerability to even read the IPCC report : http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/.

      They are now deeply buried up to their armpits in the excrement of their own failed arguments and stupid faux science that they can't admit they were wrong. Dead wrong.

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    3. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Rob Painting

      The Australian theme for earth hour was prophetic Rob

      LIGHTS OUT FOR THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

      The QLD government is listening to the FF lobbyists and not people like Ove, I think we will lose it mid century

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    4. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to john byatt

      John, I'm afraid that regardless of what we do now, what measures we take on emissions, it is already lost - at least in its present form and scale. The system doesn't respond swiftly and it will take many hundreds of years to see CO2 reduced to pre-industrial levels, meanwhile both temperate will continue to rise and pH will continue to fall.

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    5. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Very sad but true Peter - it is now too late to save the GBR in its present form.

      That so many (all?) conservation and environmental groups still talk as if we can take action to save the GBR shows just how much these groups have failed the environment.

      The Australian Conservation Foundation has released a scorecard and a policy comparison table to help explain the positions of the Liberal, National, Labor, Palmer United and Greens parties on eight critical environmental issues that will be…

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    6. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Wrote a letter to the editor in reply to QLD environment minister's propaganda piece stating exactly that peter, it was headed REEF DOOMED

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    7. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Then let the Labor party know that if they do not change their policy to accept the 19% reduction 2020, they can get lost

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    8. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to john byatt

      Under Gillard's carbon tax plan, the reality of meeting the 5% cut by 2020 was that:

      1 - If you make the start year 1990 (instead of 2000)
      2 - If you ignore land clearing, and
      3 - If you only look at domestic emissions,

      then Gillard's plan was for a 43% INCREASE in emissions.

      So though a 19% reduction sounds good, it is in effect still a 29% increase.

      And note that Labor is also supportive of rapid expansion of coal exports - which could be enough to provide 25% of the carbon needed to take the world to 2 degree warming.

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    9. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      and we are going to plant 20 million trees by 2020 at the same time as we clear one hundred million trees over the same time period,

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    10. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      Ben, the American Union of Concerned Scientists give it a fair shot - worth contributing, if you're able.

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    11. Cory Zanoni

      Community Manager at The Conversation

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Interesting thread guys but could you veer discussion back towards the article? Much appreciated.

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  13. Paul Bart

    IT professional

    I have

    The author claims that "No fewer than 97% of climate scientists now endorse the scientific consensus on the reality, causes and significant risks associated with climate change." This claim is based on an article to which a link is provided. The article states "We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global climate change…

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    1. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Paul Bart

      Your logic is poor read the paper at SKeptical science

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    2. Tony Duncan

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Paul Bart

      One could argue that 99.99% of all astrophysics papers have no opinion about whether the earth revolves around the sun.

      If there any support for the idea that those 67.3% of papers do not support ACC by an overwhelming margin, I would be happy to consider it.

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    3. Roger Jones

      Professorial Research Fellow at Victoria University

      In reply to Paul Bart

      This is another paper, not the one under discussion here, but anyway perhaps you'd like to do the maths behind these numbers:

      32.6% of 11944 papers is about 3900 papers. The number of papers rejecting AGW is roughly 100.

      Given that this is the number of papers, the sample size is quite large enough to say 97% of authors who wrote them endorse the science, don't you think?

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    4. Paul Bart

      IT professional

      In reply to john byatt

      There is little wrong with my logic, the numbers are clear

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    5. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Tony Duncan

      But all their papers surely begin with a statement that the earth does revolve around the sun Tony,

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    6. Paul Bart

      IT professional

      In reply to Tony Duncan

      Reply to Tony Duncan

      I am not arguing either way, I am simply pointing the preposterous nature of the proposition that 97% of all climate scientists support AGW based on the paper quoted.

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    7. Paul Bart

      IT professional

      In reply to Roger Jones

      Reply to Roger Jones

      You may correct, but you are missing the point. I am not taking an issue with the paper that was used to substantiate the 97% claim. I did not look past the abstract.

      My point is that to claim that 97% of all climate scientists support the AGW is clearly wrong based on that paper.

      You have said "Given that this is the number of papers, the sample size is quite large enough to say 97% of authors who wrote them endorse the science, don't you think?"

      Are you suggesting that excluding roughly two thirds of the original sample and then saying the rest supports it is justifiable science?

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    8. Rob Painting

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Paul Bart

      Actually, not only we did rate abstracts of the scientific papers, but we invited scientists who wrote papers we evaluated to also rate them - based on the contents of the full paper. The consensus of the scientists was a little higher than our evaluation - 97.2% IIRC.

      And yes, many papers were classified as neutral because the abstract made no mention or inference as the to cause of global warming. This is hardly surprising, the abstract is valuable real estate and we fully expected many authors were not going to waste space in stating the obvious.

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    9. In reply to Paul Bart

      Comment removed by moderator.

    10. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Paul Bart

      See you do not even know what the consensus is

      that the observed modern day global warming is unprecedented and is very likely caused by humans ( since mid century)

      nothing more nothing, nothing less

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    11. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to John Campbell

      Appreciate the comment and context.
      John Campbell wrote; " ... I don't know why so many people seem to bother." My first comment in this thread covers the stages of grief.
      The parallels between the emotive responses over GCC are familiar to anyone who has had to deal with tragedy and the response of those close. We have seen the stages played out with the families of the MH 370, they eventually will accept the losses and shift levels of thought.
      As for climate change deniers, all we can do is be very aware of the quite natural range of disbelief due to personal life conditions. Not engaging in debate works and we often see contributors here stepping off certain responses in comment.
      The other issue is that of North American and local conservative agencies seeding comments using pseudonyms.
      Either way the risk of feeding the denial drivers is there on any related thread. So I agree totally with your comment.

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    12. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Paul Bart

      Paul,
      The Cook paper is clearly misleading. If you look at the paper clearly, you will find that only 64 (1.6%) of the papers expressing a view explicitly endorse a view that humans are responsible for most of the warming. The 97% represents those who think that humans contribute in some way to warming (it could be 5% to 95%) but we don't know.

      The authors also fail to account for 66% of papers who express no opinion. This makes the 97% figure invalid.

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    13. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Read the paper geoff, it allowed for self appraisal for the 66%, yet you claim to have read the paper?l

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    14. Paul Bart

      IT professional

      In reply to Rob Painting

      Rob

      I have no issue with your paper, as I have said I did not read past the abstract. The issue I have that the author in the article above cherry picked the best number i.e. 97.2% and stated "No fewer than 97% of climate scientists now endorse the scientific consensus on the reality, causes and significant risks associated with climate change." The author did not qualified her position in any way (self assessment, valuable real estate etc.). The crux of her assertion is "97% of climate scientists now endorse...."
      My point is quite simple, if a thinking undecided citizen reads such statement they will see the fallacy of that argument and reject it. The cause of climate science is not advanced by poor science.
      One could excuse such behaviour in popular press, but I thought authors in The Conversation should be held to a higher standard.

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    15. Paul Bart

      IT professional

      In reply to john byatt

      John

      I know what consensus is, to illustrate a very long standing consensus was that the Sun orbits the earth etc. If you questioned such consensus, you were declared a heretic and dealt with accordingly

      I also know that consensus has absolutely nothing to do with science.

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    16. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Paul Bart

      Yes it does because the consensus is the science, not a show of hands

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    17. Paul Bart

      IT professional

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Yes, sadly statistics is poorly understood branch of mathematics in these arguments. And you make precisely the point I was alluding to. However as Rob, one of the authors points out, the abstract is a valuable real estate and the scientist may not want to wasted on the obvious. So it must be safe to assume, that if they wanted to state the obvious, we would would get to the 97.2%. Problem solved :).

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    18. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Paul Bart

      Helped if you had a telescope at the time Paul.

      Science is about observations and adding stuff up and seeing what best fits with those observations at the time. That's where consensus comes in ... what is considered by those with the data and the theoretical grasp to make most sense of the observations.

      True every now and again some utterly brilliant insight will find an explanation of better fitness - but usually this is in the company of a new basis of observation often a new bit of gadgetry. We see something new - a surprise... something not predicted by the theory.

      Such paradigm shifting insights rarely come from politically motivated cranks sitting out in the shed with a calculator and a fahrenheit thermometer - getting their peer-review from blogs, chat rooms and talkback radio.

      Such sweaty browed fanaticism is in fact the whole thesis of the original article - and the reason it was so hotly attacked and suppressed ... too close to home by half.

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    19. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      So, Geoff, the fact that your post doesn't specifically and overtly mention that you acknowledge the existence of gravity means that you are currently levitating?

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    20. David Roth

      Postgrad History Student

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      What irritates me, Peter, is that some of the support for suppression of the article comes from (apparently) ardent supporters of free speech and the right to offend.

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    21. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to David Roth

      It is their right to offend others that is sacrosanct David... other people that don't matter. But as with most of the Glibertarians they get very precious indeed when personally slighted ... take offence very easily ... good enough for the Grand National really.

      But the most interesting aspect of this dreadful business is their utter disregard for any science that doesn't fit their established world view... so rather that put forward a contending view using acceptable scientific method to establish their sanity, they demand that the work be burned.

      I think that is called QED really - what better proof of Lewandowsky's thesis is required.

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    22. Paul Bart

      IT professional

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Why is necessary to hurl insults Peter, I quote:

      1)politically motivated cranks sitting out in the shed with a calculator and a fahrenheit thermometer - getting their peer-review from blogs, chat rooms and talkback radio.

      2)Such sweaty browed fanaticism is in fact the whole thesis of the original article - and the reason it was so hotly attacked and suppressed

      Are you suggesting that people that do not subscribe to your view have all the qualities you have listed above.?

      The original article suppressed? The "pro" posts are running at about 5 to 1 to the opposing ones.

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    23. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Paul Bart

      Not insults Paul - just describing the reality of DIY shed science... characterised in particular by the utter lack of training or education in the disciplines involved. Everything is disputed ... the data, the interpretation, the theory ... the motives of those IPCC types their white coats stuffed with UN rubles.

      I respect science. I think it is the best way we have for establishing facts and developing concepts to describe the operations of complex processes.

      These guys don't. They just…

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    24. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Yes that is correct, recently we had a doctor from Noosa total rebut the carbon dioxide greenhouse effect using nothing more than a fish box and some glad wrap, a Nobel no doubt

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    25. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to john byatt

      A Nobel fer sure John - or would be if the Nobel Committees were merely the playthings of Jews, Socialists and hippy scum suckers.

      We here at the Woolibuddha Institute for Intuitive Science are planning to establish our own series of prestigious awards for common sense sciency sort of stuff ... to rival and eventually crush the Nobels ... awards qwith generous cash prizes will go to paradigm shifting homespun truthy projects that demonstrate the utter superiority of the obvious and the simplistic over nasty unpalatable notions full of big words. This doctor of yours sounds at least worthy of a nomination.

      To quote one of our patrons - watch this space.

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    26. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to john byatt

      If you had read the paper, you would know 2 things:

      1) The oft-quoted 97% still excludes the 66% of papers which express no opinion.
      2) That of a sample of these 66%, just over half (53.8%) were self-rated as 'endorsing the consensus'.

      If this percentage were to be applied to all papers expressing no opinion then the percentage of all of the 12,000 or papers included in the study that 'endorse the consensus' drops from 97% to around 68-69%. But of course this only the percentage that believe human activities have some effect on warming and not the percentage that believe than humans are responsible for most of the warming which is much, much lower.

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    27. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      actually you missed the point, that was, that you had clearly not read the paper while trying to appear that you had

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    28. Fred Smith

      Electrical Engineer

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      I was wondering that exact thing and was about to ask the question until I read your answer. Cheers.

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    29. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Gary Luke

      Nothing to do with being a problem Gary the consensus does not even ask that ,it is basically that the evidence for human caused warming is indisputable and that most of the warming mid twentieth century is due to humans,

      please go to the IPCC and read what the consensus is,

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    30. Gary Luke
      Gary Luke is a Friend of The Conversation.

      thoroughly disgusted

      In reply to john byatt

      Some people understand numeric statistics, some need to refer to an authority acknowledged by others. This 97% business is not a statistic about a complex and in part not understood phenomenon like the weather or the climate, it's a simple summary of views expressed in documents by people. Their views have no effect on climate or weather. Whether they agree that AGW is a major problem or not will have no effect of any kind on the interplay between CO2 and temperature. Even so, there are too many…

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    31. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to john byatt

      "please go to the IPCC and read what the consensus is, "

      If you had actually read Cook's paper you would know that the quoted 97% does not apply to the consensus as defined by the IPCC.

      Anyone who has read Cook's paper and actually knows something about statistics can quite easily determine that only 64 (1.6%) of the papers expressing an opinion explicitly state that humans are responsible for most of the warming.

      I think all you do is regurgitate cook's findings without understanding how they are arrived at. I actually look very closely at the methodology of the the paper which reveals a number of flaws with the paper.

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  14. Comment removed by moderator.

  15. Warren Pearce

    logged in via Twitter

    Hi Elaine

    Thanks for writing this, very interesting.

    You say "threats of litigation rolled in". This seems to imply there were a few, which I want aware of. Could you quantify how many there were at all?

    Also I was wondering about this sentence: "No fewer than 97% of climate scientists now endorse the scientific consensus on the reality, causes and significant risks associated with climate change" and link to Cook et al (2013). I have two questions about this:

    1. Cook et al didn't just survey climate scientists. The paper surveys papers in IS I, which covers a whole range of expertise. Isn't it a big jump to call all those authors 'climate scientists'? Aren't they just authors who mentioned climate change?

    2. Cook et al measures attribution of global warming, not the risks. So why do you say 97% endorse the consensus on risks? And what is this consensus?

    Thanks, Warren

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    1. Tony Duncan

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Warren Pearce

      Warren,

      you make a good point. People like Tol, Lomborg fall into the 97%.,
      my guess is that something over 90% think that it is a very serious problem, maybe 5% think it COULD be a serious problem, and the rest, think it not likely
      being familiar with quite a few of the scientists who say there is nothing to worry about, I have seen no science that actually undermines current ACC theory. there are a number of uncertainties, and possible areas where copra understanding is wrong, but there is no competing theory that is a counter to ACC, and the arguments against ACC are based on no actual empirical evidence

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    2. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Tony Duncan

      Tol and Lomborg do not fall into the 97%. They do not and have not published climate science.

      You are misinformed.

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    3. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Tol's paper referenced in the paper (Cook) even though on the economics of climate change does support the consensus in the abstract, even though he was furious, but did not understand what the consensus was

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    4. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Actually I may be wrong about Tol. But Richard Tol was a contributing author to the WG2 report so I am not sure what your point is.

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    5. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Cook abstract,

      We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus…

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  16. Patrick Maher

    Retired Doctor of Psychology and Academic

    Makes me so very proud of UWA.

    They supported this paper long before the IPCC report: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/

    I wonder why the limp-wristed Frontiers of Psychology didn't change their name to something like "The Rear-View of Psychology". What Frontiers? Sounds more like the name given to a government department that is devoted to destroying psychology.

    This article made my blood congeal. I am so grateful to Elaine McKewon and the Conversation for airing this ridiculous saga. I use the term 'ridiculous' deliberately. It has made the Frontiers of Psychology to be considered laughable and it has earned and provoked ridicule and derision among Psychologists, Scientists and Commentators around the world. "Ridiculous" comes from the 1540s Latin "ridiculosus" meaning "laughable", from "ridiculus" meaning "that which excites laughter", and from "ridere" meaning "to laugh".

    Champion!

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  17. Roger Davidson

    not really a Student

    I dont agree with lawsuits. If you disagree with the paper (and it was rather flawed) then publish your own paper in rebuttal.

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    1. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Roger Davidson

      if you believe it was rather flawed then you should publish a paper, claims not back by anything at all are very annoying

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    2. Patrick Maher

      Retired Doctor of Psychology and Academic

      In reply to Roger Davidson

      Great to see a student contributing to the debate. Here's a decent topic for you to explore with a wise mentor. I would seriously look forward to reading your paper. It would be well researched with proper citations and references and have a well reasoned arc of argument and it would fairly explore both sides of the argument and at the same time it would it would allow you a view of these issues while standing on the shoulders of giants. It would give you a 'voice'. Whats to lose? You have entered the debate - now see it as a real challenge.

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    3. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Patrick Maher

      +1, the comment master wants ten characters, that is enough

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    4. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Roger Davidson

      Oh, goody, goody. I am going to be instructed on the shortcomings of Lewandowsky use of multivariate statistical analysis. No?

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  18. Comment removed by moderator.

  19. Comment removed by moderator.

  20. Comment removed by moderator.

  21. Mike Pope

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    It is asserted that by succumbing to quasi-threats of litigation, Frontiers action of withdrawing the Recursive Fury Paper, could have a “chilling effect” on (future) research. I fail to see why this should be. Surely the only “chilling effect” is on the reputation of Frontiers Editors who surely merit being awarded white feathers.

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  22. Comment removed by moderator.

  23. Cory Zanoni

    Community Manager at The Conversation

    Hi all,

    Please keep our community standards in mind while posting. A lot of comments on this article have been removed so far – keep your comments on-topic, respectful and constructive.

    Thanks for reading and for providing interesting discussion,

    Cory

    https://theconversation.com/au/community_standards

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  24. Philip Shaw

    logged in via email @tekvision.com.au

    "(A note here on the use of the term “denier”. Denial is defined as “a refusal to accept that something unpleasant or painful is true” – eg. “The patient is still in denial.” No fewer than 97% of climate scientists now endorse the scientific consensus on the reality, causes and significant risks associated with climate change. The term “climate change denier” or “climate denier” describes an individual who rejects the science of climate change and the considerable body of evidence on which it is…

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Philip Shaw

      Philip - nothing wrong with questioning or being skeptical.

      But someone is only genuine with this if they admit that they have not yet looked into the evidence.

      With climate change science there is very good evidence, for example the recent IPCC reports.

      You have chosen to DENY all of this evidence. And you (and any other denier) have yet to put up some new evidence that casts serious doubt on the IPCC report.

      So why is it wrong to call you a climate change denier?

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    2. Philip Shaw

      logged in via email @tekvision.com.au

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael, obviously you missed the point of my comment. I do not deny that climate change occurs. Of course it occurs - it always has. Why then would you call me a "climate change denier" in what has become a widely used pejorative tone?

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    3. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Philip Shaw

      The word "denier" as it is now used is a bit of a misnomer. It has been hijacked to some degree and now its meaning is used by many in the debate to describe anyone who denies human induced global climate change even if they accept natural climate change.
      Perhaps we needed a new word that did not lump natural and anthropic climate change together, but the horse has bolted and the language with its new meaning is here to stay.

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    4. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Philip Shaw

      Philip - I have trouble believing that you are serious.

      The "I'm not a climate change denier because I accept that climate change occurs" point is just an oft repeated debating point designed to waste everybody's time. We have heard it all before.

      Do you accept the big picture on climate change as put by the IPCC? If not why not? And if not, why is it not appropriate to call you someone who denies the science in the IPCC reports?

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    5. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Philip Shaw

      "climate change denier"

      Similar sort of thing to calling someone a "warmist" which prima facie implies that if you don't accept climate science then you believe there is no global warming from any cause.

      So I'm sorry that the term "climate change denier" has been taken over to mean "climate science denier" but this sort of thing has already happened, viz "warmist" has been taken over to mean "acceptor of climate science".

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  25. Geoff Henley

    Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

    The idea that because someone who questions the theory of CAGW is somehow more susceptible to believing in nutcast conspiracy theories is absurd.

    Professor Lewandowsky, unable to come to terms with the fact that people actually disagree with him, invents some highly flawed study to paint them as nutty conspiracy theorists who believe that the moonlanding was filmed in a Hollywood studio.

    When people point out the many flaws in this study, Lewandowsky creates another study to paint these people as conspiracy theorists of his conspiracy theory paper. Then when the paper is retracted, he cries foul and calls them bullies.

    Why is taxpapers money being wasted on this nonsense?

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    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      "...because someone who questions the theory of CAGW is somehow more susceptible to believing in nutcast conspiracy theories is absurd."

      Well you've got it right there Geoff ... questions are fine ... they are the basic toolkit for the curious and skeptical ... demonstrate a hunger for knowledge and explanation. Why is it these denialist types never EVER ask questions of the authors ... they just know - apriori - before they've finished the headline that the science is wrong wrong wrong.

      Questioning…

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  26. Brandon Young

    Retired

    A simplistic view of the psychology of climate change denial and conspiracy theories:

    We have two minds: the thinking mind, and the believing mind. When we slow down and suspend certainty, and contemplate things for ourselves, we are using the thinking mind. When we automatically fall back on habitual responses we are using the believing mind.

    Only a properly developed thinking mind can understand complex ideas, and both climate change and political systems are very complex.

    If our intellectual…

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Brandon Young

      Brandon - I believe that the big problem is that those who accept the science are not thinking.

      What we see at The Conversation is an endless back and forth between the deniers and those who accept the science.

      I've yet to see a single denier change their mind. I believe that some of the deniers are lobbyists and thus they don't care what the other side says. And I'm sure that some of the deniers are genuine people who, as you say, can't think properly about the science.

      But the key point…

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    2. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Chris - by deniers I meant those posting frequently here on The Conversation.

      As I said, I can't recall ever seeing one of these people change their mind based on the good science presented in the articles or the strong rebuttals defending the science posted by those who accept the science.

      The deniers on The Conversation, who are actively involved in the debate where they should be reading the articles here and the responses, are very different from a normal member of the public who hasn't…

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  27. Tom Fisher

    Editor and Proofreader

    My concern here, again, has nothing to do with science or in the case in point with climate change, anthropogenic or otherwise, but as I and others have asked repeatedly, what has it to do with journalists and their readers?

    Having been trained myself in scientific method and carried out over 20 years of fairly rigorous field research, acquiring in the process clear data from which, along with matching data from many other research projects, certain human criminogenic propensities can no longer…

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    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      Tom, I reckon you need a resident sub on your shoulder there mate ... what are you trying to convey, other than an editorial contempt for journalists?

      From what I can gather you appear to arguing that the sort of fact denial and conspiratorial dementia characterising the "debate" on climate change should be given equal weight as actual science. Is that right?

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  28. Leopard Basement

    Carnivore

    <blockquote>But in February 2013, the journal had no such protection, and the lawyer raised concerns about two sentences in the paper that had been the subject of threats of litigation.</blockquote>

    Regarding the "two sentences" changed; this would seem to be a reference to Jeff Condon who is the only person AFAIK to mention having had agreed changes to the Recursive Fury paper at about this time.

    Condon had already had a disputed claim about his belief in temperature adjustments removed from…

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