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Wednesday
May222013

On the science communication value of communicating "scientific consensus": an exchange

So either (1) I am a genius in communication after all (P = 0.03), having provoked John Cook and Scott Johnson to offer thoughtful reflections by strategically feigning a haughty outburst (I acknowledge that I expressed my frustration in a manner that I am not proud of). Or (2) Cook & Johnson are sufficiently motivated by virtuous commitment to intellectual exchange to create one notwithstanding my bad manners (P = 0.97).  

I don’t propose we conduct any sort of experiment to test these competing hypotheses but instead just avail ourselves of our good fortune.

To enable them to have an expression of my position that admits of and is worthy of reasoned response, I’ve reduced the source of my exasperation/frustration with the Cook et al. study to 4 points.  John and Scott’s replies (reflecting their points of view as a scholar of science communication and a science journalist, respectively), follow. 

What should follow that, I hope, are additional reflections and insights from others in the “comments” thread.

Kahan:

1. Scholarly knowledge. The Cook et al. study, which in my view is an elegantly designed and executed empirical assessment, doesn’t meaningfully enlarge knowledge of the state of scientific opinion on climate change. The authors find that 97% of the papers published in peer-reviewed journals between 1991 and 2011 “endorsed” the “scientific consensus” view that human activity is a source of global warming. They report further that a comparable percentage of scientists who authored such papers took that position....

continue reading

Cook:

Many thanks to Dan Kahan for the opportunity to discuss this important (and fascinating) issue of communicating the scientific consensus. I fully concur with Dan’s assertion that we need to be evidence-based in how we approach science communication. Indeed, my PhD research is focused on the very issue of attitude polarization and the psychology of consensus. The Cultural Cognition project, particularly the paperCultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus, has influenced my experiment design. I’m in the process of analysing data that I hope will guide us towards effective climate communication.... 

continue reading

Johnson:

Let me preface this by laying out my biases. I’m thinking about more than just this study/story, though I did cover it. (So there’s that.) I like to cover new studies, and I’d rather not hear that the hard work I put in to that end is pointless, so I’m reacting to Dan’s opinion as it relates to media coverage of studies like this. As an educator with a science background, I also have deficit model motivations—even as I understand that buckets aren’t lining up to be filled and that many are equipped with strainers and sometimes check valves. I am still, in essence, a pourer of what I judge to be useful knowledge. If I didn’t think that was the case, I’m not sure why I’d be trying to communicate (unless it somehow made for lucrative reality television, I guess)....

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Reader Comments (43)

"If the public have heard ‘over & over & over that there is "overwhelming scientific consensus" on AGW’, then why is public perception of consensus so low, even among liberals?"

Probably because they're reporting their beliefs about the consensus on a different question.

The primary issue I see with all these surveys is that beliefs about climate change exist on a spectrum. Some think it doesn't happen at all. Some think it's mostly natural and of no concern. Some think it's currently mostly natural but may be a concern for the future. Some think it's mostly manmade, but not a big concern. Some think it's manmade and concerning but not worthy of panic. Some are convinced disasters and extinctions and the end of civilisation are imminent. Some fear a Cytherian tipping point in which the oceans will boil and the planet melt.

I think we can agree that very few scientists think the climate doesn't change at all, and very few scientists think the planet is going to melt. But where do they stand on all the points in between?

If you're only going to ask one question, then for the public's purposes the one to ask is: "Will there be climate catastrophes?" On the question actually asked, the likes of Anthony Watts and Lord Monckton would fall into the 97%, too. (As do Nir Shaviv, Craig Idso, and Nicola Scafetta, it is reported.) Is it a useful categorisation for understanding the debate?

Or do you think it is a fact worth reporting that, on this aspect at least, we are all on the same side?

---

The second major issue I see with these surveys is the 'Nullius in Verba' point. Few of them ask whether the views of the scientists are well-founded. Is the opinion based on a critical assessment of the evidence, or is it simply what the scientist has been told is what science says - as any interested member of the public has been told - and that they have accepted on that authority alone?

It was Tom Wigley who said "No scientist who wishes to maintain respect in the community should ever endorse any statement unless they have examined the issue fully themselves." But he also apparently believed that many do, and that public statements reporting their endorsement of a position they were not qualified to assess were also problematic.
(Interested readers can Google the quote for context.)

These surveys effectively present many thousands of such endorsements, but it is not clear on what basis they are issued. Has every one of the authors listed "examined the issue fully themselves"? We don't know. We're not told. And yet, it seems to me, to be the vital information needed to interpret its significance.

That may be a specifically individualist rather than a communitarian viewpoint, of course. It's quite evident that a lot of people see the question quite differently.

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

In this day of online communications, it seems to me that it ought to be possible to design a study that demonstrates (if my hypothesis is correct) that one group of people are posting, in self congratulatory fashion, 97%, you stupid idiots! type posts being read almost exclusively by their fellow climate change "believers". And that in an alternative online universe another group is sharing posts on a theme of "this is just another pile of crap generated by self serving science elites enriching themselves with research grants that toe the dictated warmist line".

I think that a few additional layers ought to be added to this conversation. One has to do with the additional effect of professional "climate of doubt" instigators (as mentioned by Cook). These are people highly skilled at tribal marketing techniques, starting years ago with such things as "The Marlboro Man" or "You've come a long way, baby". So when a study like that of Cook et al comes out, I picture clever operatives coming up with ways to refute this that re-enforce tribal boundaries. And, just to be fair, I need to note that my own e-mail in box received more than a few: "97%! We have to get this message out!! Send us money now!!! " messages.

And another point interesting to me: When I shared Dan Kahan's post on "What's to Be Done", I got this link from a commenter in response:
http://www.staatvanhetklimaat.nl/2013/05/17/cooks-survey-not-only-meaningless-but-also-misleading/
I don't read Dutch, but the blog conveniently posted this in English. I find this intriguing because it is, IMHO, plausibly believable, even though false. It is therefore a very effective counterpoint to circulate in opposition to the work of Cook, et al. And the more one side says: "97% you idiots!" the more opponents can point to things like this blog and say "what a pile of science elite crap!" So what was supposed to have the effect of proving once and for all that global climate change is a generally accepted scientific understanding, may in fact be having the opposite effect.

In my opinion, the reason this works is that scientific research is generally very narrowly focused and thus so are the resulting research publications. And especially their abstracts.

Take for example the research of Dr. Richard Feely. I know Richard Feely to be major researcher in carbon cycling and ocean acidification. His work was instrumental in identifying ocean acidification as the cause the collapse of oyster hatchery production in the Pacific Northwest.

Richard Feely's latest listed published paper is this one: Easley, R.A., M.C. Patsavas, R.H. Byrne, X. Liu, R.A. Feely, and J.T. Mathis (2013): Spectrophotometic measurement of calcium carbonate saturation states in seawater. (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/ipdf/10.1021/es303631g), Environ. Sci. Tech., 47(3), doi: 10.1021/es303631g, 1468–1477.
This paper is available online. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/ipdf/10.1021/es303631g The introduction to this paper starts out: "Introduction of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) to the oceans has reduced global surface seawater pH by approximately .1 since the pre-industrial era." There is no question where Richard Feely and his fellow researchers stand regarding anthropogenic global climate change.

However, technically speaking, according to the terms of the Cook et al study it is only the abstract that was evaluated. " We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'" This work of Feely et al is typical of many scientific journal publications. The abstract limits itself to the items actually being studied. The research is narrowly focused. It is not about the "why" of calcium carbonate saturation states in seawater, it is about how one might measure them and what data from these measurements was collected. So in the abstract any average person could see that nothing is said about climate change. After some technical science-y looking equations with logs and strange symbols, the closest the abstract gets is to say" The method yields high quality measurements of two important, rapidly changing aspects of ocean chemistry and offers capabilities suitable for long term automated in-situ monitoring." "Changing" ocean chemistry does not imply any related "warming" a reasonable person could conclude. Even "cooling" seems possible.

Generally, it is only abstracts that are publicly available online. And abstracts are written in a really condensed fashion. So even I think that it is unlikely that many abstracts have what would seem to a scientist like a gratuitous "This paper supports anthropogenic global climate change" sentence tossed in. It could be reasonably argued that this particular paper is about analytical chemistry, techniques and the data generated using these techniques, not climate science. But I think my commenter would find that to be resorting to a technicality. My commenter would agree with the blog post supplied that reading abstracts such as this one and then including the authors in a 97% figure would amount to making stuff up. I'm a little suspicious myself, but only if forced to limit my thoughts to the abstract. There is climate analysis in the body of this paper. And the data collected supports it.

I'm wondering if the blog isn't right in concluding that the analysis of Cook et al is a bit circular. If there had been such a paper in a scientific peer reviewed journal as one titled: "A new ice age is coming tomorrow" would they have found it?

One of the very powerful things about Dr. Feely's work, and the Washington State Governors Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification of which he is a member is that it is fostering a change in the parameters of the discussion of increasing CO2 levels. First and foremost, there is a serious economic threat to a key industry. It is the industry itself that raised the alarm and asked for help in identifying the cause. A number of people are going to lose much of their ability to raise and market shellfish if the current, clearly observable trends continue.

In my opinion, it is going to be conversations centered on these sorts of real issues that will get people to begin to think things through.

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

NiV--

These surveys effectively present many thousands of such endorsements, but it is not clear on what basis they are issued.

There are two issues in there:
1) The basis on which the endorsement were issued and
2) Whether a large set of paper given ratings of (3) can be said to clearly state "endorsement".

As for basis: Many of the ratings are from mitigation and impact papers and the research presented does not involve anything remotely approaching an attribution nor anything touching on attribution. (eg would include a fair number of papers on economic modeling, policy, biofuels, ecology and so on.)

As for whether an endorsement is made: In many of the paper touched on above, AGW is assumed implicitly. And example would be some papers presenting research on biofuels. The motivation for biofuels is in part AGW, though it is also in part energy independence and to some extent finding new products for agricultural products. (Not sure we need those.) It's not clear to me that in these cases the "endorsements" are necessarily "endorsement".

I believe you are a lawyer, right? If so, you are familiar with counter factuals: Like "For the purpose of discussion, let's stipulate that X is true" after that you proceed on with an argument. The decision to stipulate that X is true is not necessarily a statement that X is true. Moreover, when stipulating X, you are unlikely to go into great detail, nor to present any counter argument that X might be false. Yet, it appears that when rating papers, this sort of stipulation was interpreted as "implicit endorsement". The a good chunck "endorsement" papers fall in that category.

Mind you: I think it likely that most of the authors writing those papers do endorse "X".

But it is not clear all would. someone interested in developing biofuels, or who likes the "no regrets" strategies might very well work apply for funding, obtain it, work on biofuels and include global warming in his abstract or introduction. For that matter, someone interested in the nesting habits of sea turtles and the potential for extinction due to any source might similarly take funding from a program that exists to uncover the impacts of AGW on the biosphere.

But you cannot say that the endorsement can be detected from the words in the abstract merely because the stipulation represents the 'motivation' for the work. At least hypothetically, the author could have a range of views. Whether any individual abstract containing that stipulation endorses X is to some extent speculative. That it is speculative matter if this study is to be represented as <I>taking measurements by diagnosing text in abstracts.

So while I think it quite likely most those authors do endorse AGW, and most would have endorsed whatever the prevailing IPCC statement was at the time they published their work, that doesn't mean the Cook et al paper actually <I>measured endorsement by when counting all papers that used AGW as a motivation as endorsement.

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlucia

@Lucia:
Yes, that sounds right to me.

May 22, 2013 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

" It's not clear to me that in these cases the "endorsements" are necessarily "endorsement"."

Indeed. My point was that they were being presented as endorsements.

As has been noted elsewhere, there are scientists appearing on Cook's list who insist themselves that they are not endorsing any such statement. To persuade people to endorse a statement without examining it, as Wigley complained about, is one thing. To assert that people endorse your statement without even asking them, based on an interpretation of an abstract they once published, is something else entirely. But I was trying to focus on a limited number of points that we might conceivably get agreement on.

"I believe you are a lawyer, right?"

Scientist in industry. (Physics/maths, not climate science.) I don't discuss it any more specifically than that because my employers would not be keen on being associated with my views.

"If so, you are familiar with counter factuals: Like "For the purpose of discussion, let's stipulate that X is true" after that you proceed on with an argument."

Those would be conditionals. Counterfactuals are things that could have happened but didn't. But yes, I agree. A lot of papers are investigating what the consequences of AGW would be without asserting it, or simply cite other work in order to assume it. Some are careful, and state only that "scientists say...". Some are even more careful and say only "If a certain amount of AGW, then ...". There are lots of ways that an abstract can be not an endorsement.
And that's not even counting all those who say it to get the grants or to get it past the reviewers.

But I, too, think that if you actually asked them, most of the authors probably would endorse the statement. 20th century warming is about 0.8 C. Half of that is about 0.4 C, from a 40% increase in CO2 (and an even bigger increase in GHG CO2-equivalent forcing). I really don't think it's that big a stretch to think more than 0.4 C of the observed warming is likely to be due to CO2!

If they explained what the statement actually means, I suspect most sceptics would be part of the 'consensus', too.

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

until some one actually writes down a specific, non vague, non shallow, not ambiguous actual definition of this 'scientific consensus' - it is rather meaningless as NiV points out..

I'm pretty much in agreement with WG1 IPCC science, and subsequent papers, though tending on the low end of the range of climate sensitivity. but would be considered a sceptic, a lukewarmer, or even a 'denier' by different people. or even named in a paper as a conspiracy theorists, along with climate scientist Richard Betts, who thought and said the authors of that consensus paper were 'deluded' - publically

similar to Tom Wigley.. former director of the Climatic Research Unit (Cru)

The full email from Tom wigley is worth a read (climategate 1 emails).. Mike Hulme (Tyndall) and 11 other signatories were seeking a 'consensus' asking people to endorse a letter to influence policy makers at Kyoto..

Tom was withering in his contempt: best in full

Tom Wigley

Dear Eleven,

I was very disturbed by your recent letter, and your attempt to get
others to endorse it. Not only do I disagree with the content of
this letter, but I also believe that you have severely distorted the
IPCC "view" when you say that "the latest IPCC assessment makes a
convincing economic case for immediate control of emissions." In contrast
to the one-sided opinion expressed in your letter, IPCC WGIII SAR and TP3
review the literature and the issues in a balanced way presenting
arguments in support of both "immediate control" and the spectrum of more
cost-effective options. It is not IPCC's role to make "convincing cases"
for any particular policy option; nor does it. However, most IPCC readers
would draw the conclusion that the balance of economic evidence favors the
emissions trajectories given in the WRE paper. This is contrary to your
statement.

This is a complex issue, and your misrepresentation of it does you a
dis-service. To someone like me, who knows the science, it is
apparent that you are presenting a personal view, not an informed,
balanced scientific assessment. What is unfortunate is that this will not
be apparent to the vast majority of scientists you have contacted. In
issues like this, scientists have an added responsibility to keep their
personal views separate from the science, and to make it clear to others
when they diverge from the objectivity they (hopefully) adhere to in their
scientific research. I think you have failed to do this.

Your approach of trying to gain scientific credibility for your personal
views by asking people to endorse your letter is reprehensible. No
scientist who wishes to maintain respect in the community should ever
endorse any statement unless they have examined the issue fully
themselves. You are asking people to prostitute themselves by doing just
this! I fear that some will endorse your letter, in the mistaken belief
that you are making a balanced and knowledgeable assessment of the science
-- when, in fact, you are presenting a flawed view that neither accords
with IPCC nor with the bulk of the scientific and economic literature on
the subject.

Let me remind you of the science. The issue you address is one of the
timing of emissions reductions below BAU. Note that this is not the same
as the timing of action -- and note that your letter categorically
addresses the former rather than the latter issue. Emissions reduction
timing is epitomized by the differences between the Sxxx and WRExxx
pathways towards CO2 concentration stabilization. It has been clearly
demonstrated in the literature that the mitigation costs of following an
Sxxx pathway are up to five times the cost of following an equivalent
WRExxx pathway. It has also been shown that there is likely to be an
equal or greater cost differential for non-Annex I countries, and that the
economic burden in Annex I countries would fall disproportionately on
poorer people.

Furthermore, since there has been no credible analysis of the benefits
(averted impacts) side of the equation, it is impossible to assess fully
the benefits differential between the Sxxx and WRExxx stabilization
profiles. Indeed, uncertainties in predicting the regional details of
future climate change that would arise from following these pathways, and
the even greater uncertainties that attend any assessment of the impacts
of such climate changes, preclude any credible assessment of the relative
benefits. As shown in the WRE paper (Nature v. 379, pp. 240-243), the
differentials at the global-mean level are so small, at most a few tenths
of a degree Celsius and a few cm in sea level rise and declining to
minuscule amounts as the pathways approach the SAME target, that it is
unlikely that an analysis of future climate data could even distinguish
between the pathways. Certainly, given the much larger noise at the
regional level, and noting that even the absolute changes in many
variables at the regional level remain within the noise out to 2030 or
later, the two pathways would certainly be indistinguishable at the
regional level until well into the 21st century.

The crux of this issue is developing policies for controlling greenhouse
gas emissions where the reductions relative to BAU are neither too much,
too soon (which could cause serious economic hardship to those who are
most vulnerable, poor people and poor countries) nor too little, too late
(which could lead to future impacts that would be bad for future
generations of the same groups). Our ability to quantify the economic
consequences of "too much, too soon" is far better than our ability to
quantify the impacts that might arise from "too little, too late" -- to
the extent that we cannot even define what this means! You appear to be
putting too much weight on the highly uncertain impacts side of the
equation. Worse than this, you have not even explained what the issues
are. In my judgment, you are behaving in an irresponsible way that does
you little credit. Furthermore, you have compounded your sin by actually
putting a lie into the mouths of innocents ("after carefully examining the
question of timing of emissions reductions, we find the arguments against
postponement to be more compelling"). People who endorse your letter will
NOT have "carefully examined" the issue.

When scientists color the science with their own PERSONAL views or make
categorical statements without presenting the evidence for such
statements, they have a clear responsibility to state that that is what
they are doing. You have failed to do so. Indeed, what you are doing is,
in my view, a form of dishonesty more subtle but no less egregious than
the statements made by the greenhouse skeptics, Michaels, Singer et al. I
find this extremely disturbing.

Tom Wigley

http://foia2011.org/index.php?id=5339
-------------------------------------

this other email is even more telling/concerning..
About how to distribute this Influence Kyoto statement) cynically manipulating media for the cause re- 'no-one is going to check'

http://foia2011.org/index.php?id=5334

"Distribution for Endorsements --
I am very strongly in favor of as wide and rapid a distribution as
possible for endorsements. I think the only thing that counts is
numbers. The media is going to say "1000 scientists signed" or "1500
signed". No one is going to check if it is 600 with PhDs versus 2000
without. They will mention the prominent ones, but that is a
different story.

Conclusion -- Forget the screening, forget asking
them about their last publication (most will ignore you.) Get those
names!

--------------------

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

That conclusion, was the climate scientist's - not mine!


----

perhaps this is why so many are cynical about consensus' and endorsemnet letter.. plus the misuse of Doran, and the very poor Anderegg survey.. Cook's work is supposedly building on Oreskes work..

Here is what Tom Wigley said about that:

"Analyses like these by people who don’t know the field are useless.
A good example is Naomi Oreskes work." - Wigley

I wonder what Tom would make of Cook et al

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Climate activists always wonder why the public acceptance of "the consensus" is so low. They through around Big claims such as "oil funded campaigns", "tribal leaders preaching to the converted" and other such theories.

In all my life, the simple answer is nearly always the correct answer. So to the question of why public acceptance of "the consensus" is so low, I'd say they simply just don't believe you.

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDale

@Dale:
Okay. That is definitely the correct answer.
But here is the next question: Why don't they believe them?
And who are they?
How do they feel about nuclear power? Nanotechnology? How about legalizing marijuana?
Keep it simple here, too.
I'm serious.

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdmk38

NiV

If they explained what the statement actually means, I suspect most sceptics would be part of the 'consensus', too.

But the paper does provide a definition.

One of the big weaknesses of the paper-- and I consider it huge-- is that the introduction provides the only definitional statement of consensus that does not match not match the discussion in methods and which, if used as their definition of the consensus makes the only true results reported in the conclusion in-accurate.

The definitional statement in the introduction

We examined a large sample of the scientific literature on global CC, published over a 21 year period, in order to determine the level of scientific consensus that human activity is very likely causing most of the current GW
(anthropogenic global warming, or AGW).
(Highlights and bold mine.)

This definition matches the AR4 (2007) summary statement on attribution. We could argue about whether it matches the TAR (2001) statement. (Some could claim yes, some know. Based on text it's pretty close to the bubble.) The statement far exceeds any endorsement in the 1996 SAR or 1990 FAR . Given that most the ratings are "3" (implicit endorsement) and many predate the TAR and even more predate the AR3, it is a huge stretch to claim that papers that 'implicitly endorsed' in 1991 were implicitly endorsing IPCC statements that would not be made for at least a decade.

Results like 97% endorsement are based on counting these "3" type implicit endorsements in papers as far back as 1991. So it is clear that whatever number they computed, it ought be described as "at least the level of endorsement in the 1990 FAR.

But-- since the only description of "endorsement" in the paper seems to be to endorse a AR4 like statement, the paper gives the impression that they have measured and reported the % of scientists who endorsed the AR4 IPCC attribution statement.

In comments at my blog, some have claimed this is not a problem because anyone who read the method section would realize that the endorsement must be for something more mild and FAR like, and so we can just ignore the rest. But my view is that if a person reading only introduction and conclusion would be misguided at to the main result, then the paper is seriously flawed.

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlucia

"Analyses like these by people who don’t know the field are useless.
A good example is Naomi Oreskes work." - Wigley

A useful check on Cook et al's analysis would have been for them to ask the original authors what they thought and compare their ratings to Cook et al's.

Oh, wait, we did.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Skuce

Lucia,

Good point about the dates. I hadn't noticed that.

As far as communicating with the general public goes, what matters is stuff like Obama's tweet and all the media coverage. Most people won't read the paper.

Only small interested groups on either side will actually read the paper. One group will send out reports of it like Obama's tweet. (Which I didn't notice the authors rushing to correct.) The other will send out reports like all these analyses of issues with the paper. And the messages diffuse through the social networks to the general public. Some will read only the Obama tweet. Others will seek out reasons to dismiss it, and find them.

One side I think see the paper only as a excuse to generate supportive messages for the public. The other side see this as a propaganda effort, and both sides become ever more entrenched in their views.

It's not right to say it doesn't work, because on a subset of the population it obviously does, but having got this far, it's not going to close the gap.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Hey Andy. You endorsed Mike Marriot's verified bullshit description of one om my WUWT articles.. so no. You are not credible to me. Perhaps thats good enough for SKS readers and Al Gore, but it ssys volumes to me sbout SKS.

But on a wider point, how will the general public react? Indifference. Just sounds like marketing to them?

Aditionally, I just noticed your co-author -Dana - publically calling Prof Richard Tol a Denier for his criticism of Cook et sl. Some of Tol's pspers were surveyed.

Way to go! on building that consensus. Insulting IPCC lead authors.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

One of the lead authors publically calling Prof Richard Tol a 'denier' and a liar' really is not going to help the SkS and this paper very much.. What is very interesting is that Dana feels so unconstrained to behave like this.. perhaps the psychologists could investigate his lack of awareness of how a disinterested public my perceive him, academic or activist?

Richard Tol ‏
@RichardTol 21 May
The Cook paper comes further apart http://www.populartechnology.net/2013/05/97-study-falsely-classifies-scientists.html …

Richard Tol
‏@RichardTol 22 May
Cook survey included 10 of my 122 eligible papers. 5/10 were rated incorrectly. 4/5 were rated as endorse rather than neutral.

Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981 @RichardTol You might want to actually read our paper before claiming it's 'coming apart' based on ignorant and wrong claims.
5:22 AM May 23rd

Richard Tol
‏@RichardTol 3h
.@dana1981 Don't worry. I did read your paper. A silly idea poorly implemented.

dana1981
@RichardTol Have to say I'm disappointed. Didn't have you pegged as a denier before. Fine to dislike our paper, but don't lie about it.

RichardTol
@dana1981 I published 4 papers that show that humans are the main cause of global warming. You missed 1, and classified another as lukewarm

RichardTol
@dana1981 I published 118 neutral (in your parlance) papers. You missed 111. Of the 7 you assessed, you misclassified 4.

RichardTol
@dana1981 Most importantly, consensus is not an argument.

Foxgoose ‏@Foxgoose
@hro001 @RichardTol @dana1981 Interesting how these fake scientists reach for the "D" word at the first hint of criticism. Pure actvism!

RichardTol
@Foxgoose interesting they apply the D word to me, one of the 1st to show the A in AGW, argued for carbon taxes for 20 yr @hro001 @dana1981


------

Now who would the 'public' side with, a Professor and IPCC lead author, or a perceived actvist (because of rhetoric like 'denier' and lies) like Dana and Skeptical Science.. when the 'sceptics' point this out..

I really do not understand why the think calling people 'denier's is a good idea still, perhaps they've been listening to expert climate communicator (and total activist) George Marshall for too long?

Marshall:
"Look at the word “sceptic”. It’s a very carefully chosen word.

- I rather use “denier” – and I’m delighted to say it works."

http://www.joabbess.com/2010/04/17/sceptic-backlash-questions-answered/

I don't see an academic paper, I see activists (unconciously, not that they identify like this) seeking to cretate a msesage, to wave at the public, to encourage them to demand policy action

But what policy action?

But what then, hypothetically, say this paper worked, and say 97% of the public agreed with the '97% of the scientists about a vaguely defined consensus. We would probably have Bill Mckibben, or some other misusing it, waving 97% of the public want Keystone stopped, or 97% want a carbon tax, or want renewables..


What if the USA public said, yes we agree about AGW, but no to carbon taxes, or carbon trading, that just makes middlemen rich, but we want nuclear and shale gas to replace coal, (which is/would cut emission) forget windturbines, they kill to many birds and invest massively in fusion research and thorium, and fast breeder reactors. Or any number of other possible policy options

Would that be OK? Would that be the right policy action?
sorry to be flippant, but would we than have survey's saying scientists, or economists saying 97% want ' a specified policy action'

I just don't see any point in this work, beyond a crude attempt at climate messaging

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Richard Betts ‏
@richardabetts
@dana1981 Not that I approve of "Denier" but @RichardTol isn't one anyway. We publish together http://www.economicsclimatechange.com/2010/05/climate-change-impacts-on-global_04.html … and he's an IPCC CLA

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

@dmk38

Why don't they believe it anymore? That's pretty simple too. It's been completely politicized and preached by activist groups/individuals. The majority of people are suspicious of politicized and activist speech.

Plus, there has been a complete overload of "we're going to burn up", "billions will die", etc etc etc.

Yet that hasn't happened.

Life goes on.

People move on.

I honestly don't think people such as Cook and SkS can turn this around. Changing the communication is not going to make a difference when the people stopped listening years ago.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDale

Dan, I think that the study of Cook, et al ought to be investigated for culturally cognitively driven bias based on the keywords chosen for the search. It is my hypothesis that scientists who accept global climate change may use different terminology to describe their work than those that are more skeptical. Additionally, since our acceptance of global climate change is so ingrained, we may not recognize that we speak of it in terms that are a culturally determined dialect. This is in addition to my note above that much of the time scientists are researching and publishing papers in narrowly defined areas in which, despite great relevance to the topic of global climate change, those terms are unlikely to appear in the abstract at all.

I'd like to relay this question to Cook, et al, because they are the ones who ought to be all set up to perform searches based on varying keyword choices.

My approach this morning was to to the website of MIT atmospheric physics professor Richard Lindzen and look at the abstracts of the publications for which he has chosen to conveniently provide a pdf (another bias, of course, and anecdotal besides).

1. ADVANCES IN ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES, VOL. 27, NO. 6, 2010, 1233{1245
Observational Diagnosis of Cloud Phase in the Winter Antarctic
Atmosphere for Parameterizations in Climate Models
Keywords: cloud phase, mixed-phase clouds, polar cloud, cloud radiative eÆect, cloud parameterization
Too narrow.

2. Space observations of cold-cloud phase changes Proc .Nat .Acad. Sci., 107, 11211-11216
Keywords: aerosol cloud interaction ice nucleation mixed cloud phase super cooled water cloud radiative
effect
Too narrow

3.On the determination of climate feedbacks from ERBE data GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 36, L16705, doi:10.1029/2009GL039628, 2009

See: http://www-eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen/235-LindzenGRL.pdf

IMHO, this paper ought to be spot on. No keywords are listed, but I don't see terms "global climate change" or "global warming" in the abstract.

Lindzen describes climate feedbacks, climate sensitivity and radiative forcing.

What if you searched the climate science literature from the perspective of FORCING? Isn't it highly unlikely that you'd find that the statistics so generated would indicate that a large majority of scientists support the concept that any forcing mechanisms were changing global climate in ways that were significantly linked to human activities?

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

@Dale Cheers for you. I really liked your comments.

As to why the public does not buy the consensus, here are my 2 cents.

If we consider the underlying science as a small, hard rock at the top of a snowy hill and assume that I, the public can only view the rock once it has rolled down the hill and reached me, then the problem seems to be clearer. As the rock rolls down the hill it picks up adhesions/material that only relate to the structure of the rock by being somewhere on the hill between the top and me. These adhesions are almost always politically driven and tenaciouslly attach to culturally important rocks.
I, the public, receive the initial small rock now surrounded by 1000 times its volume of adhesions. If I am to see the rock clearly, someone (not me. I am too busy.) has to remove the adhesions or I will assume that there is no rock.

Rock obscuring adhesions include (but are not limited to ;-) ):

1. This 'science' comes from the UN. They are untrustworthy everywhere else, why should I believe them here.
2. The presentation of this 'science' starts with 'only a scientist could understand this', 'We are from Harvard. (yep the same people who brought us the economic disaster that is the US, clearly politically motivated).
3. Al Gore or Barack Obama endorses this conclusion. (So it must be completely political and not real)
4. Only Republican, Conservative, morons would disagree with this conclusion. (Not exactly a good way to get me, whatever my belief system, to pay attention to the science.)
5. We, the people presenting this information, are exactly right. (What about last year when you said the opposite?)

So the small rock of facts gets swamped by thousands of aggressive, disbelief inspiring adhesions before it ever reaches me at the bottom of the hill. No wonder I can't see and won't believe the core science.

@Johnson I loved your journalist's perspective.

All, I had no time today to read this post and its comments. Yet, I did. Wonderful discussion. Please keep it up.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric Fairfield

@Eric

While I reject nearly all of what you say in your post, I'm in strong agreement with your last paragraph. Many thanks to Dan, John and Scott for a very interesting and thought provoking exchange. Lots here to chew on.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarlowe Johnson

Eric - you forget that some of us are not from the USA. !
and have absolutely no clue who anybody is in USA politics (except for Obama and Hilary)

Also some of the comms does not come from the UN but websites like Skeptical Science.. or Bob Ward of the Grantham Institute

Dana (Cook's co-author) further twitter exchange with Prof Richard Betts (UK Met Office) are enlightening

Richard Betts
‏@richardabetts 50m
@dana1981 How is Denier defined? What is being denied? Can someone be in the 97% who accept AGW and still be a denier?

Dana Nuccitelli
‏@dana1981 48m
@richardabetts Broadly speaking, one who encourages Morano, Watts, and Poptech behaves like a denier (not necessarily same as denying AGW)

Richard Betts ‏
@richardabetts 22m
@dana1981 So basically this is politics then.

Dana Nuccitelli
‏@dana1981 15m
@richardabetts No, it’s half misrepresenting our paper, half encouraging deniers to do the same.

Richard Betts
‏@richardabetts 8m
@dana1981 I meant “denier” seems to be a political label – not talking specifically about Richard T’s views on your paper.

---------

so who appointed

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Why don't they believe it anymore?

Irrespective of the validity of Cook, et. al ...


Who are "they?"
What is "it?"
Did "they" once believe it and then stopped?
Do "they" not believe it now?

Do you base your views on evidence?

Here's the evidence I've seen:

http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/q30.jpg

Now there are some problems with ambiguity in the questions, but what this shows is that this issue is complicated. First, the "they" here is associated with political affiliation. Second:

http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/trust.jpg

even taking the political associations of "they" into account, we see that, actually, perhaps many of "they" do trust climate scientists, but are not well-informed as to the prevalence of opinion among climate scientists.

Third, among the "they" that don't trust climate scientists (and thus, don't believe "it?"), perhaps they never did believe "it."

You can't do a longitudinal analysis with cross-sectional data. Where are your longitudinal data that you are using to formulate your conclusions? The relevant longitudinal data that I have seen don't support your contention (i.e., belief in the potential danger represented by climate change has dropped somewhat from it's peak, but in general, it is pretty stable).

Is this, perchance, an example of "skeptics" projecting their own beliefs onto a wider public without supporting evidence?

Could it be, dare I say, an example of motivated reasoning?

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

I was not try to state my own beliefs. I was trying to get the conversation to move farther and to get to the heart of why things are not believed.

I would love to know the reasons for Marlowe's disagreement with my putative adhesions. I think that the disagreements, by all participants, is at the core of the problem. If we bring the reasons for the disagreements into focus, maybe we can see the rock better. Actively removing the adhesions before the rock reaches the bottom of the hill, would be much appreciated.

As to a non-US perspective, I do not know that perspective as well as I need to. (And my fingers got tired from the typing that I did do so I did not expand the perspective even to the extent of my limited knowledge. ;-) )

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric Fairfield

Eric Fairfield, I believe that the core problem has more to do with the adhesions you describe obscuring key points of common agreement regarding mutually known facts than it does in obstruction of the underlying science.

Take a farmer. Picture said farmer spending much of his day in a tractor cab with a radio tuned into talk radio. On the other hand, the farmer is also much more connect to the natural surrounding environment and in particular in local weather changes over time, than are many city dwelling, cubical working folks.

I find that I can have very intelligent conversations with farmers regarding climate change. These conversation can be extrapolated globally, because, after all, foodstuff production is part of global economies. In addition to Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and that gang, part of what is coming through on radio is commodities reports. Thus, a farmer in the US is very interested in growing conditions elsewhere. And is thus likely to be knowledgeable on future trends regarding agriculture, and therefore also climate trends in such distant places as Argentina, Russia, and India.

In my experience, these conversations can be carried out in perfectly rational and scientifically correct fashion as long as the poison phrase "global climate change" is not uttered. If it does, some sort of Rush LImbaugh/Glen Beck knee jerk reaction takes over. And real discussion grinds to a halt.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

Gaythia,
Thanks. I agree on the farmer analogy and on adhesions diverting from the areas of agreement.

I also think that denigrating Rush (see "El Rushbo" by Ze'ev Chafets a reporter for the NY Times for an illuminating biography, Rush deliberately provokes liberals because their knee jerk and out of context disgust gets him more listeners {a fascinating part of his showmanship}) out of hand is one of the diverting adhesions that needs to be scrubbed away. In its place, as least to me, I try to put an understanding of why Rush is popular to an audience that is more intelligent than most (Chafets again). I try not to bring up any such adhesions in conversation because they tend to shut down communication. I try to focus on the rock. This is tricky to do since the adhesions are so sneaky and sticky. Just a thought.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric Fairfield

Eric -

As to why the public does not buy the consensus,

Who is "the public," what is "the consensus," and how do you know that [the public] "does not buy" [the consensus]?

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Eric Fairfield, Great comments. It would take considerable effort to remove my Rush Limbaugh disgust reaction, although I already try to disguise this problem in discussions with those who may be in his listening audience.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

@Joshua I view the 'public' as the averaging over a lot of really interesting people. I try to treat each one as a person when I interact with them. For more insights, I tend to view 'the public', 'consensus', et al. as, typically, red herrings that detract from effective communication.

I defer to Dan or anyone else who wants to roll with these terminology rocks.

@Gaythia,
Gosh, thanks.

As to Rush, once I read the book, I found parts of Rush and his persona that I really liked. I also found points of agreement in the extended version of what he was saying, not in the sound bites that are deliberately provocative.
When I talk to those who like Rush, I talk about our points of agreement, not so much about our disagreements. In that way, I don't disguise anything.
As has been pointed out here lots of times, those who disagree with any point of view are much better at detecting 'disguise' than the speakers think they are. Also many smart people will detect the disguise but never mention that they detected it. So I try to find agreement and skip the disguise phase. This has led me to stunningly open conversations with lots of people. Just my two cents.

As a point of background, I am a molecular biologist/problem solver currently making working models of the brain, driven by the detailed underlying biology. I talk with people of widely varying political and scientific backgrounds every day. I am really motivated by trying to make the communications more open and effective. Very slowly this openness is occurring. When it does, I am greatly enriched.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric Fairfield

Eric -

@Joshua I view the 'public' as the averaging over a lot of really interesting people.

In that case, I'd say that your statement of :"...the public does not buy the consensus..." is not based on an accurate reading. Unless you mean by "interesting people" a particular political subset of interesting people (and, of course, your very term of "interesting people" is quite subjective and likely and adhesion and certainly not 100% rock).

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Joshua

"They" are the public who are part of Cook's "don't identify with consensus science". "They" are the entire purpose of this paper (ie: how can we brainwash them into believers so we can force political action). "They" could have once been believers and now not, or "they" could have never been, or "they" could be the ones who never even gave crap from the beginning (ie: the ones who have/will never listen).

"It" is the consensus view on AGW ("global warming is real and humans are the cause"). That was pretty obvious.

The sad reality is Cook's study's purpose is NOT for science. It is 100% solely for political motivations. Cook states it openly in the paper and on SkS. The paper's purpose is to help find out how to communicate to the ~50% of people (US was cited) who do not identify with the "scientific consensus on climate change" to force Govt policy change.

That is NOT science. That is political activism. Cook's study will do the cause more harm than good, since it will solidify the reasoning for not believing the consensus (ie: "I don't believe because the whole thing is politically motivated"). Then when people find out that Cook identifies "deniers" with right-wing free-market conservatives (in his latest post at SkS) and that person happens to be a left-winger, then it will complete close that person to further communication and turn them off to being receptive to the whole idea.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDale

@Eric

I think I misinterpreted your list as an endorsement rather than as a series of 'filters' that some people possess which leaves them less inclined to believe in the consensus on climate change. apologies.

@Dan
I'm curious to hear your thoughts about the effectiveness of the disinformation campaign that began decades ago with the global climate coalition, bob lutz, and various astroturf organizations. If notions around 'consensus' aren't important to securing political support then why was undermining that consensus a core part of their campaign?

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarlowe Johnson

. If notions around 'consensus' aren't important to securing political support then why was undermining that consensus a core part of their campaign?

Simply the existence of initiatives to affect public knowledge about a consensus does not in itself mean that if more people better understood the prevalence of opinion among experts - it would result in wider acceptance (or rejection) of the view that climate change presents a danger. Certainly, there are those who would interpret any evidence to reinforce their preexisting conclusions. What would have to be proven is that some % of people - who would not out of hand sort any evidence to reject (or accept) a "consensus" view - would change their views based on access to evidence about the prevalence of "expert" opinion.

I'd say that % of people exists, but is likely quite small.

It is interesting, however, given that many "skeptics" quite frequently dismiss the importance of assessing the prevalence of opinion among "experts" seem to be so focused on affecting and arguing about that the prevalence actually is. It almost makes me think that they actually believe that the prevalence of expert opinion is more important than they what they state.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Dale -

""They" are the public who are part of Cook's "don't identify with consensus science."


Thanks. But if you say that they don't believe it "anymore," then it seems to me that you are saying that they once did. So then I am confused by this:


"They" could have once been believers and now not, or "they" could have never been, or "they" could be the ones who never even gave crap from the beginning (ie: the ones who have/will never listen)."

As for this:

"The sad reality is Cook's study's purpose is NOT for science."

Well, I think that is a bit simplistic. It is directed on the PR related to the science. I'm not sure I think that's a sad reality as much as it is a reality - but even beyond that, it is impossible to extricate the science from the politics on this issue. From what I've found, when people state that they have separated the two, they are not being fully comprehensive and they are being influenced by their own biases.

"That is NOT science. That is political activism."

I think that it is possible to approach distinctions between the science and the politics as the extreme end of the spectrum, but to hold any advocacy in this debate to some mutually exclusive paradigm seems to me to be an unrealistic standard.

"Cook's study will do the cause more harm than good, since it will solidify the reasoning for not believing the consensus (ie: "I don't believe because the whole thing is politically motivated"). "

I doubt it. Lack of belief (or belief) in the "consensus" seem to me to be rather fixed phenomena. Almost invariably, a person's opinions in this debate are predictable by their own political orientation independently of some objective interpretation of a political influence on the actions of others (assuming such an objective evaluation would be possible). Those inclined to agree with Cook et. al will not be turned in the other direction. Those inclined to disagree with them would interpret whatever they did to be evidence to disprove the "consensus" viewpoint. Same as it ever was. There might be some exceptions there, but it is a small group, as is the number of people who are not predisposed in one direction or the other. And my guess is that the vast majority of those not predisposed in one direction or the other never have, and never will, know anything about Cook et. al, and if they did, they would be completely indifferent on the issue.

People in this climate war bubble have a tendency to forget that they are outliers.

"Then when people find out that Cook identifies "deniers" with right-wing free-market conservatives (in his latest post at SkS) and that person happens to be a left-winger, then it will complete close that person to further communication and turn them off to being receptive to the whole idea."

That seems extremely improbably to me.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Joshua

Thanks. But if you say that they don't believe it "anymore," then it seems to me that you are saying that they once did. So then I am confused by this:

From Cook's own research on US citizen polling, he found that acceptance of the consensus dropped from 80% to 50% over time. This means that as of right now, the majority of people in the US who now do not accept the consensus, used to. So they don't accept it "anymore".

Well, I think that is a bit simplistic. It is directed on the PR related to the science. I'm not sure I think that's a sad reality as much as it is a reality

Of course it's simplistic. But it's also the whole truth. From Cook's own words:

Awareness of the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming is a key factor in peoples' decisions whether or not to support action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, there is a gap here due to the public's lack of awareness of the consensus. Thus it's critical that we make people aware of these results.
Source: http://skepticalscience.com/97-percent-consensus-cook-et-al-2013.html

What Cook is saying, is if people accept the 97% meme then they will push for policy action. Do I need to explain political lobbying to you?

Science is NOT advanced by "consensus", only policy is. Therefore, Cook's study is pure political activism and NOT science.

Lack of belief (or belief) in the "consensus" seem to me to be rather fixed phenomena.

Not it's not. As explained above, the reason for Cook's study is to address the change from 80% acceptance to 50% acceptance over time (US cited). That is rather the complete opposite of "fixed" don't you think? ;)

That seems extremely improbably to me.

I suggest you read his activist site Skeptical Science (badly named IMO). After only a few articles you'll see the clear "deniers are right-wing oil-funded free-marketers". They do not hide that at all.

---------------------------

Here's the bottom line:
1. The science of catastrophic AGW is shaky at best, relying on inaccurate computer models and circular confirmation of each other.
2. Since the science is shaky, advocates must then rely on unscientific methods to push the message and try to force policy through Argument by Authority and other fallacies and memes.
3. Yes humans can influence the environment around us, and yes we need to get off fossil fuels. But activism such as Cook, Romm, McKibben, Hansen, Mann et all will result in the goal backfiring since people will eventually grow jack of the scare-mongering and push the other way. Happens all the time.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDale

Dale -

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/files/2013/04/2013-04-22-Gallup-in-your-lifetime.gif

There are many data sources. Now it seems that you see reason to rely exclusively on your interpretation of Cook's data - but I would suggest that before forming such hard and fast conclusions, you consult with other sources as well.

But independently of that....

From Cook's own research on US citizen polling, he found that acceptance of the consensus dropped from 80% to 50% over time.

It appears that you may be conflating two phenomena - the one is the public's view on the prevalence of opinion among climate scientists and the other is the public's view on climate change. While the first may be changing over time, the second has been relatively stable.

Cook's article references the public's view on the prevalence of opinion, not the view on climate change:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics/consensus_gap.jpg

And keep in mind, the data for this survey were collected over two years ago:

http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/q30.jpg?w=500&h=325

At that time, a significant number of Republicans (about 1/2 the American public) pegged the prevalence of scientists who "think global warming is happening" at between 41%- and 60%, and among Tea Partiers, a significant number pegged it at between 20%-40%. Even among Dems, many pegged it at below 61%, and a large % in all groups responded "do not know enough to say."

And in fact, when I asked you to describe "it" - you responded thus:

It" is the consensus view on AGW ("global warming is real and humans are the cause"). That was pretty obvious.
This is referencing a view of climate change, not a view on the prevalence of opinion amongst climate scientists.

You seem to again, repeat the same conflation later:

This means that as of right now, the majority of people in the US who now do not accept the consensus, used to. So they don't accept it "anymore".

Do not accept "the consensus," or do not access the prevalence of opinion among climate scientists as Cook see it to be?

Which is "it" that you are talking about? Are you talking about the public's view on climate change (which many data sources show to be relatively stable over time), or are you talking about the public's view on the prevalence of opinion (which according to one data source appears to have dropped) among climate scientists


This is why I asked you what "it" is, but from your answers, I still can't decipher the meaning because it appears to be a bit of a moving target.


Of course it's simplistic. But it's also the whole truth. From Cook's own words:

Which doesn't address my point (that you quoted as if you were responding to). Feel free to address my point or not, but I see no particular reason to respond to that comment.

Not it's not. As explained above, the reason for Cook's study is to address the change from 80% acceptance to 50% acceptance over time (US cited). That is rather the complete opposite of "fixed" don't you think? ;)

See above.

I suggest you read his activist site Skeptical Science (badly named IMO). After only a few articles you'll see the clear "deniers are right-wing oil-funded free-marketers". They do not hide that at all.

This, also, does not address the point I made (that you quoted as if you were responding to). Feel free to address the point I made or not - but I see no particular reason to respond to that comment.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Interesting;

21. Do you think scientists who report that global warming is happening AND is caused by human activity make conclusions (mainly on the basis of scientific evidence) or (mainly on the basis of their own economic or political interests)?

6/21/2012
Mainly on the basis of scientific evidence 53 [%]
Mainly on the basis of their own economic or political interests 35 [%]
Both (VOL.) 9 [%]
Neither (VOL.) 2 [%]
Don’t know/Refused 1 [%]


Pretty damning, right? 35% of the pubic thinks "pro-consensus" scientists are drawing conclusions on the basis of their own economic or political interests.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

uh oh.

22. Do you think scientists who report that global warming is NOT happening OR NOT caused by human activity make conclusions (mainly on the basis of scientific evidence) or (mainly on the basis of their own economic or political interests)?

6/21/2012
Mainly on the basis of scientific evidence 44 [%]
Mainly on the basis of their own economic or political interests 49 [%]
Both (VOL.) 3 [%]
Neither (VOL.) 1 [%]
Don’t know/Refused 2 [%]

[use the Washingtonpost prefix]/wp-srv/national/documents/global-warming-poll-2.pdf


As bad as it is for the "pro-consensus" scientists, at least they are significantly more trusted than the "anti-consensus" scientists.


And keep in mind, that 35% that think that the "pro-consensus" scientists are promoting biased conclusions includes conservatives, Republicans, Tea Partiers, etc.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Joshua

There are many data sources. Now it seems that you see reason to rely exclusively on your interpretation of Cook's data - but I would suggest that before forming such hard and fast conclusions, you consult with other sources as well.

I used Cook's interpretation because that is an indication of the assumptions he used for his study. Cook's posts at SkS state that US public perception of consensus on climate has dropped over time, and he correlates this to acceptance of consensus and push for action:

Several studies have shown that people who correctly perceive the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming are more likely to support government action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. This was most recently shown in McCright et al. (2013), recently published in the journal Climatic Change. People will defer to the judgment of experts, and they trust climate scientists on the subject of global warming.
http://skepticalscience.com/97-percent-consensus-cook-et-al-2013.html

Cook has used a correlation between the perception of consensus, the acceptance of consensus and the push for policy action. You may consider them two separate phenomina, but Cook does not. When interpreting the study, you must keep in mind the assumptions and definitions used by the author when conducting the study.

Which doesn't address my point

I did address your comment. It's a sad reality that Cook is trying to resort to communicating that scientists agree on something, rather than the science of what they agree on.

This, also, does not address the point I made

That just depends on what "seems extremely improbably to [you]". The fact Cook identifies "deniers" with right-wing free-market conservatives, or the fact some left-wingers may be turned off to further communication attempts by labelling them a "right-wing free-market conservative denier".

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDale

The problem for Cook is how to deal with or understand all those deniers that are not USA citizens.
We have learnt from Dana Nutticelli (co-author) that 'deniers', by his term can actually accept AGW, as most sceptics do, yet still be considered deniers. Why do Australians care about US politic quite as much, is interesting aswell.

When they go on about motivatiobs etc, which are so US centric, the non US sceptics just look on in bemusement

May 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Dale -

This will be my third and last attempt;

This following is not a reference to what you described as "it."

Several studies have shown that people who correctly perceive the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming are more likely to support government action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The following is a reference to perceptions of the prevalence of opinion among scientists

...people who correctly perceive the scientific consensus...


- it is not a reference to...

""It" is the consensus view on AGW ("global warming is real and humans are the cause")."

Once again, while it may or may not be true that there have been significant change in the public's perception of the prevalence of "expert" opinion, public opinion on the "consensus view on AGW," as you described it, has been relatively stable.


Further, to the degree that it has changed, I'd say it has primarily changed among a particular subset of the population, and indeed, it is quite likely that subset is not reacting to what climate scientists say about climate change, but out of an ignorance about what they actually say.

May 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

The key metric is "preponderance of the scientifically compiled evidence" not a poll of the number of scientists in favor of supporting conclusions based on scientific interpretation of that evidence.

As another example, in my opinion, there must be way more scientifically informed professionals knowledgeable about hydraulic fracturing within that industry than there are looking into it from the outside. I venture to guess that those insiders have a different perspective on the risk analysis of utilizing that technology than do outsiders. I refuse to conclude that that makes them more likely to be correct in their interpretations.

May 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

@all:

I propose you take the discussion to today's post.

I think it is unlikely anyone who doesn't accept or can't confidently evaluate whether there is "consensus" among scientists w/ the relevant expertise on climates is going to accept or be able confidently to evaluate a social scientist's methods for measuring the same. (The difficulty here is close to a logical conundrum.)

But such a person, I submit, would find the behavior of market investors -- who are betting their own money, & lots of it, on the science in question-- very useful evidence. That is the point of today's post.

May 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdmk38

I am pointing out the obvious when I state that all the discussions about "consensus" happen because the Cooks of this world have been unable to make a good scientific argument for AGW. In fact, there is no testable, mesaurable evidence that AGW exists. Thus: "Consensus!"

As for the 'consensus' claim itself, it is false. More than thirty thousand professional scientists, all with degrees in the hard sciences [including more than 9,000 PhD's] have co-signed a statement that more CO2 is harmless, and that it is beneficial to the biosphere. And as we see, the public is coming around to that view, helped along by the fact that as CO2 continues to rise, global warming has stopped: http://tiny.cc/7oxlxw

The Nobel Laureate [when that meant something] Dr. Irving Langmuir explains "pathological science", which clearly defines AGW:

Symptoms of Pathological Science:

• The maximum effect that is observed is produced by a causative agent of barely detectable intensity, and the magnitude of the effect is substantially independent of the intensity of the cause

• The effect is of a magnitude that remains close to the limit of detectability; or, many measurements are necessary because of the very low statistical significance of the results

• Claims of great accuracy

• Fantastic theories contrary to experience

• Criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses thought up on the spur of the moment

• Ratio of supporters to critics rises up to somewhere near 50% and then falls gradually to oblivion

As we can see, we are now at the final stage: more than half the population rejects the catastrophic AGW narrative, simply because the planet is not cooperating with the endless runaway global warming predictions made over many years.

These scares routinely appear. The difference with the AGW scare is the fact that money — $BILLIONS in annual grants — continues to flow into the pockets of individuals and institutions that promote the AGW scare. But scientifically, AGW is no more real than the ALAR apple scare, or the killer bee scare, or the ice-free Arctic scare, etc. They are all Malthusian in nature, and they all eventually fizzle out.

Eventually the money will dry up, and then the new scare du jour will appear. And the same individuals and institutions will show up with their hands out, promising to save us — if taxpayers will just provide more funding.

May 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSmokey

@Smokey:

So you are shorting all the stocks the value of which depends on global warming taking place?

Go to that discussion & propose that based on your argument. See what people say.

May 24, 2013 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

"I think it is unlikely anyone who doesn't accept or can't confidently evaluate whether there is "consensus" among scientists w/ the relevant expertise on climates is going to accept or be able confidently to evaluate a social scientist's methods for measuring the same. (The difficulty here is close to a logical conundrum.)"

A logical conundrum, indeed!

I think I can confidently assess whether there's a "consensus" amongst climate scientists - as I said, it depends what question you ask, but on the question asked here the surveys whose methodology I trust all give around 85%.

And I also think I can confidently assess a social scientist's methodology for the same. Some aspects of a different field do require specialist knowledge, but to a large extent all scientific experiments follow general scientific logic that any scientist (or informed layman) ought to be able to follow.

To measure a "consensus among scientists" you have to survey the scientists, not their papers. Otherwise it's like surveying public opinion by counting up the letters to the local newspaper. Some people write more than others. Some get published more than others. There's no test of whether they have "the relevant expertise", so it's not even assuredly testing the target population. It's also the wrong question to ask, and an unreliable way of assessing the answer. It's an absolutely dreadful experiment!

But different people can look at the same data and come to diametrically opposed conclusions. The logical conundrum is how one can tell which conclusion is more reliable, which brain is being biased, given that the only thing you have to test it with is one of the same brains you're testing. It's a puzzler!

Anyway, here's a survey that I regard as competently done, although by no means perfect. The sampling is problematic, but I think the questions asked and the fact climate scientists opinions are being observed directly are pretty good. I'd be very interested to know what you think.

May 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

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