We’ve posted several stories on the work of S. Lewandowsky. He makes climate change deniers and conspiracy theorists rather angry; angry enough to call him names and file complaints about the papers.
A rundown of the rather complicated history of his disputed papers about climate change deniers can be found here.
Two years ago, a group of researchers published a paper with a provocative title: “NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax.” In the paper, they noted that a subset of the community that has a hard time accepting the evidence for human-driven climate change tends to more generally believe conspiracy theories.
Ironically, the community responded with… conspiracy theories. Which some of the original authors then analyzed in a paper that was accepted for publication in the journal Frontiers of Psychology. But shortly after its appearance, the article was pulled from the journal website and has existed in an unusual academic limbo since. Today, Frontiers has confirmed that the paper will be pulled permanently—not due to any flaws in it or misconduct by its authors, but because its “legal context is unclear.” All indications are that lack of clarity involves some of its subjects threatening defamation suits.
I read about the retraction from Retraction Watch.
A year after being clumsily removed from the web following complaints, a controversial paper about “the possible role of conspiracist ideation in the rejection of science” is being retracted.
The paper, “Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation,” was authored by Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook, Klaus Oberauer, and Michael Marriott, and published in Frontiers in Psychology: Personality Science and Individual Differences.
According to Retraction Watch blog, the journal has a small number of complaints regarding the paper and determined “the legal context is insufficiently clear”. They informed the authors and pulled the paper. Sadly, this is the state of the world. Litigiousness. The journal did not wish to take that legal risk. The DeSmogBlog has additional information on this (PDF). In one piece, a complainant rails about Lewandowski’s research at UWA calling him a “third rate academic”.
Frontiers had removed the paper when the dispute erupted. The lead author, Lewandowsky, blogs about the situation here. Recursive Fury goes recurrent. He notes that no scholarly critique of either paper has been submitted for peer review to any journal to date. The complainants chose to take this less savory route.