University of Western Australia … challenged

Some skeptics wonder why I bother pursing and documenting the problems with Lewandowsky et al 2012 and with the blog ShapingTomorrowsWorld. They figure that all skeptics now know the papers dismal failings, and it’s clear that Lewandowsky is unlikely to be grateful for the help.

But Lewandowsky exposes people higher up to awkward questions. Why do they fund work so unscientific? Why do they allow such hypocrisy and bias on a government funded publication? Are standards at the University of Western Australia (UWA) so low that they can’t find a Professor who understands the scientific method, and can reason without name-calling? Aren’t other statisticians at UWA concerned at what Lewandowsky is doing to the reputation of “UWA Statistics”? Finally, aren’t the scientists who missed out on ARC funding angry that our taxpayer funds are given instead to someone who apparently uses the funds to promote his personal political views, instead of in the pursuit of knowledge? (See: Lewandowsky gets $1.7m of taxpayer funds to denigrate people who disagree with him)

The abject incompetence is a gift to us. Rarely is a study so outrageously bad that people with no scientific background can understand why it has no value and was never likely to produce anything useful. Behind the scenes, people are writing to the staff at the University of Western Australia at several levels.

Michael Kile (see below) has gone a step further and has raised the issue at the last UWA Convocation meeting on Sept 21 to put it on the official document trail. The Vice Chancellor was in attendance. The Chairman, who is Warden of Convocation, also happens to be on the board of the blog: ShapingTomorrowsWorld, where Lewandowsky  writes. Hmm.

It may be purely coincidental, but since this meeting Lewandowsky has not posted anything on his blog. Steve McIntyre has posted two further articles (here and here). Has someone had a quiet word to Lewandowsky? Plus, we note, Psychological Science must be due to release its October journal, but there is no mention of the paper … yet.

I particularly like Kile’s point that the blog policy declares that No ad hominem attacks are allowed (Note 4). So commenters are warned against using the words conspiracy or denier, and yet Lewandowsky himself can write a peer reviewed paper which does exactly that. His research apparently amounts to rank namecalling, discussing “deniers” who believe in any conspiracy – as such, the paper is just peer reviewed defamation by any other name.

If no further progress is made there is an option to call an Extraordinary Meeting of Convocation at UWA to resolve this issue, which would attract attention. Oh yes, this would be quite unusual step. When I searched for ‘“Extraordinary meeting of convocation” UWA’ it turns up only one hit globally (which, as it happens, is for a different university).

If you happen to be a member of Convocation at UWA please get in touch with me, “joanne AT joannenova.com.au”. We would like to hear from you.

– Jo

Guest Post by Michael Kile

STATEMENT TO THE SECOND ORDINARY MEETING OF CONVOCATION

Keep reading  →

About Tom Harley

Amateur ecologist and horticulturalist and CEO of Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Inc. (Tom Harley) Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Incorporated Kimberley Environmental Horticulture (KEH) is a small group of committed individuals who promote the use of indigenous plants for the landscaping of parks and gardens. Rehabilitation of Kimberley coast, bushland and pastoral regions are also high on our agenda. This includes planting seedlings, weed control, damage from erosion or any other environmental matter that comes to our attention. We come from all walks of life, from Professionals and Trades oriented occupations, Pensioners and Students, Public Servants and the Unemployed. We have a community plant nursery where we trial many old and new species, with a view to incorporating these into our landscaping trials. Our labour force are mainly volunteers, but with considerable help from the 'work for the dole' program, Indigenous Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) groups and the Ministry of Justice, with their community work orders; in this way we manage to train many people in the horticultural skills needed for indigenous plant growing. We constantly undertake field trips that cover seed and plant collection in the Kimberley. Networking around the Kimberley region and the east Pilbara is a necessary part of promoting our activities. We consult on a range of Environmental and Landscaping matters that deal with our region. Our activities involve improving Broome's residential streetscapes by including 'waterwise' priciples in planting out nature strips. Sustainable environmental horticulture is practised by members of our group. We use existing vegetation as the backbone of any plantings, using these species to advantage when planning to develop tree forms or orchards. The Broome region is sensitive to development. Subsequently many weed species have become dominant in and around developed areas. The use and movement of heavy machinery is the biggest single cause of environmental degradation. We dont live in a 'Tropical Paradise' but on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert. The plants that survive best here, grow in well-drained pindan sand, and are found from the Dampier Peninsular southward to where average rainfall is below 600mm. When we use rainforest species, detail is important when planting, water catchment, sunlight and understorey species are all considered. The use of recycled 'grey' water is an advantage here as well as treated waste-water, although many local species do not fare well with nutrients from this source. We use waterwise planting methods which include harvesting asmuch rainwater as possible, with swales designed to hold up to 200 litres, to help recharge the local groundwater aquifer. There has been a serious decline in this aquifer over the last few years. With the fast expansion of the Broome peninsular, more and more land is being covered by concrete, iron and bitumen so that much less water is available to replenish the aquifer, allowing the salt content to become significantly higher. The small Broome Peninsular is on the south-western corner of the Dampier Peninsular (bound by Broome, Derby and Cape Leveque at the northern tip). Compaction by vehicles also inhibits water retention due to the content of our local pindan sand, hard as concrete in the dry, going to soft and sloppy mud after rain. None of us are botanists, inevitably we have got some names wrong, names changed, or have not gone to sub-species level. If you note a photo or description may be wrong, please e-mail to kimenvhort@yahoo.com.au
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