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Lewandowsky hopes we meant “Conspiracy” but we mean “Incompetence”

What can I say? Prof Lewandowsky, expert in conspiracies, thinks we are postulating a conspiracy — but the bad news for him is that we are postulating straight out incompetence, no conspiracy required.

How does Lewandowsky define “conspiracy”? However he wants.

I hate to say I told you so, but I did. Back in May 2010, before Lewandowsky posted his survey, he foresaw the results:

“This attribute of conspiracy theorising applies in full force to the actions of climate “sceptics” who operate outside the peer reviewed literature” [ABC Drum]”

and I foresaw what he would do with them:

“Lewandowsky uses  the name-calling to “poison the well” against people who don’t even believe in a conspiracy [about man-made global warming], but happen to also be skeptical…Jo Nova May 2010

Graham at OnLine Opinion (OLO) has posted Part II of a Fish rots from the Head and it’s quite something to see.

This post will look at the question of what is a conspiracy, and also what constitutes “conspiracist ideation”. The conclusion, just to save you reading to the bottom, is that Lewandowsky has no clear idea so adapts it to what fits his thesis. This is not science because he moves the goal posts to a spot where he will get a positive correlation. It more or less doesn’t matter where he kicks the ball, it will land in the goal because the goal will move to accommodate the ball.

The key point here is that some conspiracies are real, most are not. Those who believe all of them are nutters, but those who believe none are gullible patsy fools. So who has the wand of truth? Who decides what is “real”. As I said in May 2010 “Conspiracy Theorist” is his name-calling fairy dust.

Lewandowsky uses his Magic Fairy Debating Dust to preemptively stop discussions of climate science evidence.  If anyone complains against any mainstream position on anything, he can define whatever it is as  a “conspiracy theory”. Then his omnipotent powers as a cognitive scientist kick in. I quote: “The nature of conspiracy theories and their ultimate fate is reasonably well understood by cognitive scientists”.He who knows can foresee the ultimate fate of all conspiracy theories. A handy talent which could save us doing expensive Royal Commissions, or Supreme Courts, or heck, we could just use this talent to save us the bother of any courts or commissions or investigations at all.

So God and Lewandowsky, apparently, can always tell the difference between a whistle-blower and conspiracy theorist.

The Prof of Psychology chews through the English language, converting the normal use of the word “conspiracy” into something different:

Lewandowsky tries to define conspiracist ideation in terms of belief in “mad” ideas, such as that the moon landing was faked, but by doing this he ends up with a definition that is really only limited to belief in certain conspiracies, not a tendency to believe in conspiracies per se.

What’s the truth and what’s a false conspiracy? There is often no way to know. The conspiracies which made the list appear to be the ones Stephan “knows” are false:

… his first problem is that what he defines as a conspiracy (which in his terms seems to be something which people believe in, but which he doesn’t believe exists) is that there is no objective test of whether the conspiracy exists or not.

So he decides on a subjective basis what is a conspiracy, which means he has no scientific basis for his definition.

Graham makes the astute observations that some conspiracies were not included in the survey.

There is a conspiracy theory that global warming skeptics are funded by big oil. Lewandowsky excludes this from his list. His writings confirm that he believes in this conspiracy. Why isn’t it on the list? The fact that it isn’t indicates that he isn’t interested in “conspiracist ideation” in general, but only specific conspiracies.

Here’s the big money conspiracy Stephan didn’t ask about, that’s posted on hundreds of blogs. Here’s a typical example:

[Stolen documents that are] Revealing to the public the active, vicious, and well-funded campaign of denial that seeks to delay action against climate change likely constitutes a classic public good.

Who believes this baseless line about the big funds that no one can document?  Stephan Lewandowsky (h/t Foxgoose). Any funds sent to Heartland are dwarfed by the money rolling through science, carbon trading and renewables. Who thinks that stealing documents through deception is OK, if it reveals 1% of his pet conspiracy? Professor Lewandowsky.

Who believes that corporate funded media could deceive large segments of the population?

…without vigorous competition and meaningful legal checks, there is no reason why a privately-owned media conglomerate could not create an Orwellian environment that deceives politicians and large segments of the public alike.

Stephan Lewandowsky The Conversation, 29 August 2011

Graham points out that if you only look for “big-government” type conspiracies, but leave out “big-corporate” ones, it’s hardly surprising when you find a link where people who don’t believe official government answers tend not to believe in the biggest big-government theory there is: man-made global warming.

If we looked for people who don’t trust the free market, we’d quite probably also find people who believe big-corporate conspiracies.


 Don’t miss Part II of a Fish rots from the Head. Drop in, read it all, and thank Graham


PART I  Lewandowsky – Shows “skeptics” are nutters by asking alarmists to fill out survey

PART II  10 conspiracy theorists makes a moon landing paper for Stephan Lewandowsky (Part II) PLUS all 40 questions

PART III here Lewandowsky hopes we meant “Conspiracy” but we mean  “Incompetence”

PART IV  Steve McIntyre finds Lewandowsky’s paper is a “landmark of junk science”

PART V Lewandowsky does “science” by taunts and attempted parody instead of answering questions



(If you could call it that)

Lewandowsky, S., Oberauer, K., & Gignac, C. E. (in press). NASA faked the moon landing—therefore (climate) science is a hoax: An anatomy of the motivated rejection of science.. Psychological Science.


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