Recursive Recursiveness

The sensation of wanting to laugh and cry at the same time often occurs when talking about climate deniers.  It sounds like there was an interesting study done on the fever brains of climate deniers.  The study found that climate deniers are prone to believe in conspiracy theories.  What followed was a conspiracy among the conspiracy theorist, climate deniers to sue a journal for libel if they published a study correlating their climate denialism to believing in conspiracy theorists.  Let me quote from the link, which is less confusing:

In February 2013, the journal Frontiers in Psychology published a peer-reviewed paper which found that people who reject climate science are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories. Predictably enough, those people didn’t like it.

The paper, which I helped to peer-review, is called “Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation”. In it, cognitive scientist Stephan Lewandowsky and his colleagues survey and analyze the outcry generated on climate skeptic blogs to their earlier work on climate denial.

The earlier study had also linked climate denial with conspiracist thinking. And so by reacting with yet more conspiracy theorizing, the bloggers rather proved the researchers’ point.

Yet soon after Recursive Fury was published, threats of litigation started to roll in, and the journal took the paper down (it survives on the website of the University of Western Australia, where Lewandowsky carried out the study).

A lengthy investigation ensued, which eventually found the paper to be scientifically and ethically sound. Yet on March 21 this year, Frontiers retracted the paper because of the legal threats.

Another tragic-comedic story unfolds.  A bunch of climate denying conspiracy theorists conspire to suppress scientifically sound article on their recursive fury.  Welcome to the house of mirrors.


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