Posted by Jeff Condon on January 16, 2013
Reader Skiphil has left a link to some incredible commentary by our good friend Stephan Lewandowski who apparently holds a PhD in bovine scatology. There is nothing wrong with being educated in scatology, however, Stephan’s propensity to practice his chosen craft publicly leaves one wondering if anyone actually believes his nonsense. Still, the Journal of Psychology took the time to interview this obviously dimwitted man, and then publish his answers under the guise of “observations”. What grabs my attention about his (and his coauthors) “work” is the delusional self-referencing that the paper and commentary glosses right over. The full paper is linked here.
The gist of the paper, which must seem complicated to the authors, is that information repeated, is assimilated better than information that is not. Also, information which “makes sense” to you, is more likely to be accepted by you. Haha… who would have guessed. Unfortunately, they took this basic concept of psychology and turned it into a highly biased political article which tells us more about the authors than about the population they allege to study.
From his interview:
Your paper indicates that social networking is a contributor to misinformation. Do you think that social media can also act to counter misinformation?
In principle, yes. And indeed there are some terrific science blogs with large numbers of twitter followers (e.g., skepticalscience.com) that have made it their mission to combat misinformation in specific arenas, such as climate science.
Now we all know that Skeptical Science is nothing but a political propaganda outlet designed to attack any reasoned discussion on global warming, which doesn’t support the alarmist agenda. Not just the science, but the agenda, and like politicians “helping the poor”, the blog’s name has nothing to do with its intent.
Do mainstream media outlets care about retracting misinformation?
In my experience, sadly, not always. Some media outlets are better than others, but in my experience some media outlets act quite irresponsibly with far-reaching consequences: There is fairly good data to suggest that, overall, viewers of Fox News are the most misinformed across a range of crucial issues whereas listeners of National Public Radio are the least misinformed.
It seems to me that in the past year this sort of commentary on Fox News being a disinformation outlet has become a commonly repeated theme in the leftist dialog. Although, I get my news from all sources, I strongly disagree with Stephan’s claim because Fox is the only source which doesn’t require a full blown dissection to remove the biased nonsense, not that some parsing isn’t required. Each time I watch/listen to a leftist news outlet like CNN, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, or National Public Radio, I hear literally dozens of twists and half-truths and it leaves me wondering just what kind of uneducated people don’t recognize that they are being repeatedly lied to. Compound that with the nearly 100% leftist print media, and the entire globe is saturated with repeated left-wing dogma. Hell, China state news is more conservative than the New York Times. So then Lewandowsky, with obviously extreme political views, writes that Fox news viewers are misinformed, in a paper which purports to be analyzing the difference between reality and endlessly repeated misinformation. It is a funny world when lies have changed places with truth even in science. It has become a modern fact that yellow journalism is empowering yellow science, and to me the government/media/science collaboration can only lead only to very bad places.
The paper is rife with similar points for which their veracity can be discussed ad-naseum:
In one study, retractions of nonfictitious misperceptions (e.g., the mistaken belief that President Bush’s tax cuts in the early 2000s had increased revenues; the idea that there were WMDs in Iraq) were effective only among people whose political orientation was supported by the retraction (Nyhan & Reifler, 2010). When the corrections were worldview-dissonant (in this case, for Republican participants), a “backfire” effect was observed, such that participants became more committed to the misinformation.
I mean, isn’t the issue of taxation/revenue more complicated than a snapshot statement. After all, the economy lags any impetus by some amount of time. Bush inherited a recession, so the question becomes did the tax cuts create more revenue than the government would have received from the point they were enacted to the far future, not whether they immediately gained more. Still, it is stated here as though lost revenue from tax cuts were fact. It is a true irony that this “fact” of lost revenue is heavily repeated in left-wing media outlets and comports with the authors worldview. While the revenue of the federal government shows an initial drop in the 9-11 recession (blue line below), they quickly rose upward until the 2008 recession. Certainly, this alleged “fact” deserves some proper discussion, yet it is presented as a known reality in their paper. What’s worse is that economics are also polluted by the same “cash for results” feedback which exists in climate science. More economic tax papers are blatantly leftist than neutral or conservative, and like Steig’s Antarctic work, it is not because of their superior accuracy.
Lewandowsky’s left-saturated mental state seems to penetrate every aspect of his thoughts.
Is there a correlation between misinformation and education?
Not necessarily. In fact, when it comes to global-warming misinformation, there are data to suggest that education can have an ironic effect. Specifically, for Republicans, increasing education translates into a decreasing concern with climate change and a greater willingness to accept misinformation over the true state of the science—so worldview trumps facts, and education can increase that disparity.
This paper is chock full of half-truths and blatant falshoods. I compare it to a MSNBC report on climate change or listening to an Obama speech on gun control. To read it properly, you must check every sentence for accuracy or exaggerated meaning. For example:
Similarly, people who oppose climate science because it challenges their worldview may do so less if the response to climate change is presented as a business opportunity for the nuclear industry (cf. Feygina, Jost, & Goldsmith, 2010). Even simple changes in wording can make information more acceptable by rendering it less threatening to a person’s worldview. For example, Republicans are far more likely to accept an otherwise identical charge as a “carbon offset” than as a “tax,” whereas the wording has little effect on Democrats or Independents (whose values are not challenged by the word “tax”; Hardisty, Johnson, & Weber, 2010).
So the first sentence indicates that most people who understand the really obvious anti-industrial bias in climate science, and further recognize that the proposed “green” solutions are malarkey, also recognize that nuclear energy is the only economically and physically functional improvement we can technologically do that can even dent the issue. Lewie twists it into something else entirely. The second sentence indicates to me that either that the language in the questionnaire tricked some people, or the study is statistically biased as government funded left-wing studies so often are. Yellow science stated as fact.
For other examples of the disease penetrating government science, Obama is about to legislate more funding for gun control studies. Does anyone really question whether these government funded studies will garner more left-wing authors than conservatives or what these studies will conclude? How many will tweak the stats, and how many citations will they get from Lewandowsky? The same is true for the fake second hand smoke studies which have been repeated so often that left-saturated people like Madonnna flip out on stage at the sight of a cigarette. These ideologically saturated actors and musicians do heavy street drugs, yet are panicked about second-hand smoke at a distance! All caused by government funded yellow science.
I like to make controversial statements here, in case you didn’t notice, so I’ll add another. The yellow journalsim, misinformation and yellow science are far more prevalent in the left-wing agenda than the conservative. This fact occurs just for the reason stated in Lewandowsky’s paper. The leftist-version of “facts” are repeated over and over in the global media so often that they cannot be escaped by the public and retractions are not even considered. Higher tax = more revenue, business = anti-little guy, global warming = doom, etc… Additionally, their thought process is based on central government control of every aspect of the population empowered politicians are the beneficiaries of the groupthink and are all too happy to provide funding for more of the same. It is an obvious feedback loop which I don’t expect we can escape from easily. In my opinion, Lewandowsky is just an unknowing halfwitted cog in the human grinding machine. The function of his cog to use taxpayer money to create yellow science that promotes the left-wing central planning agenda.