A joint post by Ruth Dixon and Jonathan Jones
This is a joint post by Ruth Dixon and Jonathan Jones about our Commentary entitled ‘Conspiracist Ideation as a Predictor of Climate Science Rejection: An Alternative Analysis.’. [The link is now to the version of record, published in May 2015].
After nearly a year, two journals, and four rounds of review, our Commentary on two studies by Stephan Lewandowsky was published in Psychological Science on 26 March 2015. This post describes our findings in more detail than the tight word-limit in Psychological Science allowed.
In two papers published in 2013, Stephan Lewandowsky and his colleagues Gilles Gignac and Klaus Oberauer suggested that ‘conspiracist ideation’ (the tendency to believe in conspiracy theories) predicted scepticism about anthropogenic climate change. In our reanalyses of the data from both studies, we found that there was a curved relationship between these variables. Both climate-change sceptics and the ‘climate-convinced’ tended to disbelieve in conspiracy theories. The linear models used by Lewandowsky and colleagues were therefore not appropriate descriptions of the data. Both datasets show this effect, although they resulted from very different survey types (the first surveyed readers of ‘climate blogs’ (LOG13-blogs, published in Psychological Science) and the second surveyed a panel representative of the US population (LGO13-panel, published in PLoS)), so we are confident that our findings are robust.
As we describe in more detail later in this post, our main finding was that there is a curved relationship between belief in anthropogenic climate change (CLIM) and belief in conspiracy theories (CY). This curvilinear relationship is most clearly seen in the LGO13-panel dataset (Figure 1).
As we argue below, all this really shows is that people who are undecided about one fairly technical matter (conspiracy theories) also have no firm opinion about another (climate change). The complex statistical models used by Lewandowsky et al. mask this rather obvious and uninteresting finding.
During the debate in parliament on Monday 1 Dec 2014, Chris Grayling (Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice) was asked how many Judicial Review cases are brought against government ministers.
Julie Hilling (Bolton West) (Lab): The right hon. Gentleman says “all the time”. Will he give us a notion of how often that is—once a day, once a week, once a month? How many times have such cases happened since April, for instance? He is giving the impression that they happen all the time, but what does that mean?
Chris Grayling: A Minister is confronted by the practical threat of the arrival of a judicial review case virtually every week of the year. It is happening all the time. There are pre-action protocols all the time, and cases are brought regularly. Looking across the majority of a Department’s activities, Ministers face judicial review very regularly indeed. It happens weeks apart rather than months apart.
The minister gave no actual numbers in his answer. So, in this post I’ve looked at how many judicial review (JR) cases were received by central government departments (‘ministers’) over the past few years. This analysis relates to my work with Christopher Hood in the Politics Department at Oxford.
There is a good discussion of the wider issues raised by Chris Grayling’s responses during that debate by Mark Elliot on the Public Law for Everyone blog. In this post I just look at the numbers. Continue reading
Are some apparent CO2 emission reductions ‘too good to be true’? In this post, I discuss how the Kaya Identity leads to what might be called the ‘diamond law’ of CO2 emissions. This ‘law’ (in fact just chemistry) allows us to check the plausibility of apparently dramatic CO2 reductions. Continue reading
I enjoyed the conference, ‘Circling the Square’ (20-22 May 2014) organised by Reiner Grundmann and colleagues from the Science,Technology and Society Priority Group at Nottingham University. Bringing together academics from the natural and social sciences (and others), the conference explored how scientific knowledge is (or should be) used for policy. Some reactions have been collated by Brigitte Nerlich on the Making Science Public blog.
There were many facets to the discussion, but here I will make just a few observations. As a former natural scientist now attempting to become a social scientist, I appreciated the refreshingly frank (and generally good-natured) exchanges on the different world views across the natural/social science divide (or continuum).
13 Feb: A further comment from Richard confirms that the Met Office projections for UK sea level rise are 5 to 7 cm between now and 2030.
This is an edited version of a comment I made on Bishop Hill on 9 Feb:
In February 2014 the Met Office and Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) published a report called “The Recent Storms and Floods in the UK”. (pdf of original version here). The report makes an interesting prediction about sea level rise by 2030 on p.21 (the same figures are also given on p.2):
Sea level along the English Channel has already risen by about 12cm in the last 100 years. With the warming we are already committed to over the next few decades, a further 11-16cm of sea level rise is likely by 2030. This equates to 23-27cm of total sea level rise since 1900. We are very confident that sea level will continue to rise over coming decades as the planet continues to warm. These numbers represent our current best estimate for the UK.
That implies that the rate of sea level rise (SLR) in the English Channel will more than double in the next 16 years to 7 to 10 mm per year (on average) from the current 3 mm per year. And assuming that the rate of SLR does not leap to the new level in the first year, a linear increase from the current rate implies a rate of about 15 mm per year by 2030.
Is there something special about the English Channel? It’s hard to reconcile this with the IPCC projections in AR5 Chapter 13.
No citations are given for this statement in an otherwise well-referenced document. I’ll update this post if I find out more.
Update: Tim Channon has plotted a graph of how this prediction compares to past SLR at Newlyn, Cornwall (the national sea level monitoring station) http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/met-office-forecasting-skill-on-show
Update 2: Richard Betts is on the case…
Richard Betts (@richardabetts) February 10, 2014
Update 3: I think Tim Channon may have nailed the problem (2030 should be 2100?). Although, this would mean that the Met Office is expecting no acceleration of SLR over a century, while the IPCC expects it to at least double by 2080-2100. We’ll see what the Met Office comes up with.
Update 4: The Met Office have ‘clarified’ their statement, which apparently relates to a 1990 baseline. See Richard Betts’ comment below. See also Tim Channon’s new post and graph:
Update 5: A few final thoughts from me in a comment below.
Its real name is Pilea peperomioides, also called the Chinese Money Plant and the Missionary Plant, but in our family it’s ‘Nicked from Norway’ as my mother-in-law brought a small plant back from a visit to Norway, about fifteen years ago. Mine is a third- or fourth-generation offshoot of that original plant and this is the first time I’ve seen one in flower (or at least, in bud).
This post is about the intriguing story of how Pilea peperomioides came to be a popular houseplant, entirely below the radar of European botanists and horticulturalists.
A massive rock fall at Porthcothan Bay, Cornwall, has changed the beach dramatically.
I’ve been documenting the changes since I first noticed a hole in the rock in 2002 – but it’s all changed now!
And now – see photo in the Cornish Guardian – and more falls since then shown on Facebook and Sky News. There are some particularly spectacular photos in the Daily Mail (scroll down to the end) and some fine ‘before and after’ photos from the BBC.
Updated April 2014 with some first-hand photos: