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”. We would like to hear from you.

– Jo

Guest Post by Michael Kile


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About Tom Harley

Amateur ecologist and horticulturalist and CEO of Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Inc. (Tom Harley)
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