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The 5 characteristics of global warming consensus denial

Posted on 28 May 2013 by John Cook, dana1981

All movements that reject an overwhelming scientific consensus show 5 inevitable characteristics. They celebrate fake experts, cherry pick the data, argue using misrepresentation and logical fallacies, indulge in conspiracy theories, and demand impossible expectations of what research can deliver.

These characteristics are seen in the movements that deny the scientific consensus on vaccination, HIV and AIDS and the link between smoking and cancer. They are also abundantly evident in the movement that denies the scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming.

Industry and conservative groups have been attacking scientific consensus for decades. As far back as 1991, Western Fuels Association launched a $510,000 campaign to "reposition global warming as theory (not fact)" in the public perception. A memo from communications strategist Frank Luntz leaked in 2002 advised Republican politicians to "continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate." In a recent analysis of syndicated conservative opinion pieces spanning 2007 to 2010, the most popular myth was “there is no consensus”.

While opponents of climate action have persistently sought to manufacture doubt, the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming has grown so robust, it now manifests itself in a number of ways. Scientific organisations of many types and nationalities endorse the consensus. Several surveys of the climate science community measure overwhelming agreement. A 2004 analysis of peer-reviewed research found zero papers rejecting the consensus.

It's within this context that the Skeptical Science analysis finding 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming has drawn an incredible amount of media attention. Hundreds of media stories documented our survey and results. Our team members participated in a number of interviews to discuss the paper, including on Al Jazeera, CNN, and ABC. President Obama even Tweeted about our results to his 31 million followers.

The story has been so popular mainly because our results present a simple but critical message. There is a wide gap between the public perception and the reality of the expert consensus on human-caused global warming. Additionally, research has shown that perception of consensus is linked to support for climate policy. This is true along most of the ideological spectrum – when people are aware of the expert consensus on human-caused global warming, they are more likely to support taking action to solve the problem.

The 5 characteristics of consensus denial

Thus although our results were straightforward and consistent with previous research, we were not surprised when they met with resistance from certain groups, and we anticipated the critiques with an FAQ. However, in reviewing the various criticisms of our paper, we noticed some common threads amongst them. A 2009 paper published in the European Journal of Public Health by Pascal Diethelm and Martin McKee discussed five characteristics common to movements that deny a scientific consensus:

1) Cherry picking;
2) Fake experts;
3) Misrepresentation and logical fallacies;
4) Impossible expectations of what research can deliver; and
5) Conspiracy theories;.

These characteristics were present throughout the criticisms of our paper, and in fact we found examples of each of the five characteristics among them.

Cherry picking several scientists out of 1,200

For example, the author of one blog post contacted a handful of the scientists whose papers were included in our survey and claimed that we had 'falsely classified' their papers. Climate economist Richard Tol also echoed the criticism of our paper in this blog post. This particular criticism manages to check off three of the five characteristics of scientific denialism.

Specifically contacting these few scientists is a classic example of cherry picking. Our survey received responses from 1,200 climate researchers; the author of the post in question carefully selected a few of them who all just happen to be well-known climate 'skeptics'. The purpose of getting 1,200 scientists to classify their own research was to independently check our ratings against the very authors who wrote the papers. The result - independent confirmation of an overwhelming consensus:

The growth of the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming in the peer-reviewed literature from 1991 to 2011, from Cook et al. (2013)

Magnifying the dissenting minority

The fake expert strategy is really about manufacturing the appearance of ongoing debate. Usually it involves using non-experts who have done no actual climate research as dissenting voices.  Another variant of this strategy in the textbook authored by John Cook and G. Thomas Farmer, Climate Change Science: A Modern Synthesis:

"A variation of the Fake Expert strategy is to take the handful of remaining dissenting climate scientists and magnify their voices to give the impression of more significant disagreement then there actually is."

The handful of scientists contacted for this blog post are among the less than 3% of climate researchers who dispute human-caused global warming. As a result, the voices of this small minority of 'skeptics' are magnified.

Third, this is a misrepresentation of our study (we'll come to more misrepresentations and logical fallacies shortly). The Skeptical Science team categorized the papers based solely on their abstracts, whereas the scientists were asked about the contents of their full papers. We invited the scientific authors to categorize their own papers, so if they responded, their 'correct' classifications of the full papers are included in our database. As illustrated in the graphic above, we found the same 97% consensus in both the abstracts-only and author self-rating methods.

Unrealistic expectations - a tactic perfected by the tobacco industry

Another characteristic of movements that deny a consensus involves unrealistic expectations. The tobacco industry perfected this approach in the 1970s, demanding ever-more stringent levels of proof that smoking caused cancer in order to delay government regulation of their products. This technique of unrealistic expectations was illustrated in another blog post claiming that only papers which quantify the human contribution to global warming count as part of the consensus. Most climate-related research doesn't quantify how much global warming humans are causing, or specify the human contribution the abstract; there's simply no reason to.

We didn't expect scientists to go into nitty gritty detail about settled science in the valuable real estate of the abstract (the short summary at the start of the paper). However, we did expect to see it more often in the full paper, and that's exactly what we observed. When scientists were asked to rate the level of endorsement of their own papers, in the 237 papers that actually specified the proportion of human-caused global warming, over 96% agreed that humans have caused more than half of the recent global warming.

Misrepresentations and logical fallacies

Christopher Monckton, who John Abraham exposed as habitually misrepresenting climate scientists' research, has also misrepresented our results. Monckton compared apples to oranges by looking at other consensus studies in an effort to argue that our results show a 'collapsing' consensus. On the contrary, using a consistent apples-to-apples comparison over a two-decade span, we showed that the consensus on human-caused global warming is growing.

In recent years, fewer papers have taken a position on the cause of global warming. This was predicted by Naomi Oreskes in 2007, who noted that scientists will move on to focus on questions that are not settled. Some blogs advanced a related logical fallacy by claiming that this shows 'an increase in uncertainty.' However, if uncertainty over the cause of global warming were increasing, we would expect to see the percentage of papers rejecting or minimizing human-caused global warming increasing. On the contrary, rejection studies are becoming less common as well. That scientists feel the issue is settled science actually suggests there is more certainty about the causes of global warming.

Conspiracy theories

Finally, a conspiracy theory has been proposed, suggesting that the consensus is simply a result of scientific journals refusing to publish papers that reject human-caused global warming. Our survey included results from 1,980 journals publishing papers by over 10,000 scientists from over 70 different countries. For all of these nearly two thousand international scientific journals to block 'skeptic' research would involve a massive conspiracy indeed.

Due to the importance of our results, we fully expect the resistance to continue, and we fully expect those who resist our findings to continue to exhibit the five characteristics of scientific denialism. However, we have used two independent methods and find the same 97% consensus as in previous studies. Our results are robust

This post was adapted from a Guardian article by Dana Nuccitelli.

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 81:

  1. Congratulations to John and his team, again.

    I think future historians (let's hope the are some around long term :)) will highly value this contribution to "the science of doing science", or "the science of science interfaced with politics" in the early 21st century. Meta-science?

    It's immediate practical contribution is to de-bunk the fake-sceptic argument (made now mostly by politicians like Mitt Romney) "We can't do anything until the scientists make up their mind".

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  2. This post says:

    This technique of unrealistic expectations was illustrated in another blog post claiming that only papers which quantify the human contribution to global warming count as part of the consensus.

    Referring to a post which quotes arguments I have made.  As I am a target of this criticism, I feel I am obliged to respond.  My response is twofold.  1) Where in that post, or anywhere else, is it claimed "only papers which quantify the human contribution to global warming count as part of the consensus"?  As far as I can tell, that post never defines the consensus.  It merely (and accurately) says:

    When stripped down to the bare truth, the actual number of studies in the Cook sampling that can be said to endorse the position that human activity is responsible for most of the experienced global warming is — get ready for this (drum roll …) — sixty-five.

    That doesn't say only 65 endorse the "consensus."  It says only 65 endorse a particular position.  That particular position may or may not be the "consensus."

    2) There is no clear, much less explicit, definition of "consensus" in the Cook et al paper.  None was provided on Skeptical Science either.  Obama's tweet about this paper, which Skeptical Science has used for publicity, describes the consensus found by this paper as something it could not possibly be.  It's cheeky to criticize people for using a different criterion for the "consensus" when you never bothered to provide one of your own.

    Unless or until a clear definition for the "consensus" is provided, it is silly to criticize people for using a different one.

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  3. Brandon #2,

    What is wrong with the dictionary definition?:

    1. majority of opinion: The consensus of the group was that they should meet twice a month.

    2. general agreement or concord; harmony.

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  4. Brandon...  You know, with the amount of time you've spent trying to discredit Cook13 you could have actually done something useful and started up your own research project to see if you can replicate Cook13.  You know, that would be the "skeptical" thing to do.

    My only takeaway, at this point, can be that you folks don't really believe the position you're putting forth.  It seems the only thing that is important to you is to "manufacture doubt" (to borrow a phrase) rather than test the ideas you have.  

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  5. Brandon:

    As they say, "If the shoe fits, wear it."

    BTW, The more comments you post, the more likely that John Cook will write a sequel. 

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  6. Rob, the reason "they" don't do the research is that "they" can't substantiate "their" comments by factual information that research would provide. It is enough for the prevaricators and deniers to state an opinion.  Facts are not important!

    Kudos to John and the Team!

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  7. Brandon, there are several ways your argument could be interpreted since frankly it's totally illogical, comparing every single implicit and explicit rejection/minimization (Categories 5-7) to explicit endorsements with quantification (Category 1).  If you'd prefer, we can describe it as a misrepresentation of our survey, since you're comparing incomparable categories.

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  8. shoyemore, I was less clear than I should have been.  The definition I'm referring to is not the definition of the word "consensus," but rather, the definition of the specific "consensus" being examined by Cook et al.

    John Hartz, given I believe this issue is an important one, that could only serve to encourage me.  I would like discussion to continue.

    dana1981, you yourself have suggested comparing categories 6 and 7 with category 1.  Given category 6 has as much (or rather, as little) quantification as category 5, what makes my inclusion of category 5 so much more illogical?  Why should it be okay to include category 6 but not category 5?

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  9. Brandon...  You might note there is nowhere in Cook13 where it states that only 10 papers out of 12,000 reject AGW.  That would be as equally an unsupportable statement as saying only 65 papers endorse AGW.

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  10. Brandon...  Instead of nitpicking the definitions (I would hold that no matter how Cook13 had defined it, you would still be nitpicking) why not write your own categories, do your own research and see what results you get?

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  11. Brandon, let me second Rob's suggestion


    Cook et al 2013 is a scientific paper. The time honoured method of critiquing or checking a piece of science is through replication. Someone seeks to replicate the earlier work. All other approachs, comments on blogs, self appointed 'auditors' etc are just a farce by comparison.

    Replicate the study Brandon. Or even better, design your own study method and go for it.

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  12. I've never suggested comparing Categories 6+7 with 1.  Category 7 is comparable to 1, and 6+7 are comparable to 1+2.

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  13. I'm kind of thinking this is going to end up being like all the hockey stick graphs.  Lots of complaining about methods and data and such.  But never, ever, will the "skeptics" do their own research on this one, simply because their results would never support their preferred conclusions.  And that is what makes them fake skeptics.

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  14. Rob Honeycutt, I'm at a loss as to how this is "nitpicking the definitions."  You and your associates felt examining a consensus was worth a great deal of effort.  You also felt it was worth a certain amount of money gotten from your readers.  If examining something was worth that much, surely it is worth stating what that something is.

    Glenn Tamblyn, this site has posted many critiques of papers.  Why should I refrain from doing the same?  As for replication, you guys spent a great deal of time on this study.  It is unreasonable to suggest nobody criticize your paper without having spent an equal amount of time working on an issue.  That is especially true given that I am but one person, and you were 24.

    dana1981, you have suggested exactly that.  I've even quoted you as suggesting exactly that.  While I can understand you may have forgotten having done so, it is unwise for you to state it so categorically.  My statement is fairly easy to verify.

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  15. " I'm at a loss as to how this is 'nitpicking the definitions.'"

    You don't seem to agree with how the categories were defined.  So I'm suggesting you create your own and perform your own survey.  If you think the way Cook13 was crafted has unduly influenced the results, then I think everyone would be extremely interested to see you show how.  And I mean that genuinely.  

    "You also felt it was worth a certain amount of money gotten from your readers."

    What are you referring to?  Are you talking about the money raised so that John could make the paper open access?

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  16. Brandon @8, I (not Dana) have compared various permuations of the results to see if various criticisms of the paper actually have any impact on the result.  For example, assuming a vary large number (50%) of false positives among affirmations only reduces the headline result from 97.2% to 96.2%.  Such calculations in no way endorse the arguments being tested.  Nor do they endorse the claim that 50% (or whatever) of the affirmations are false positives (or that false positives are only to be found among affirmations).  They merely show how robust the results are even if the criticisms are given far more weight than they deserve.

    In fact, the nearest I have come to the comparison you make (from memory) is to compare categories 1&2 as a percentage of categories 1,2,5,6,&7 (92.76%).  (And no, I am not endorsing the absurd notion that no category 3 rated abstracts actually affirm the consensus.)

    The silly thing is that I have to make these calculations.  Where the critics of the paper making a serious analysis, they would perform these calculations themselves.  Doing so they would conclude that the paper was interesting, and together with other papers analyzing the consensus showed that it is almost certain that papers endorsing the conensus (>50% warming anthropogenic) constitute >90% of all papers discussing the topic, and likely that they constitute >95% of such papers.  We might then quibble about whether that is best called a "consensus" or merely an "overwhelming majority".

    Serious analysis is, however, not the purpose of those blogs; most certainly not the purpose of your blogs.  The purpose of the blogs is found in this graph:

    Those attacking this paper, with few exceptions, know the overwhelming disconnect between public perception of the state of scientific opinion and the reality.  They also know that that disconnect helps maintain strong political pressure against effective actions to combat climate change.  Therefore they are bent on preserving the false perception by the public.  They are determined to keep the public decieved for their own political ends.  Hence they provide talking points, not analysis,  in their attack on Cook et al 2013.  Taking note, no doubt of Lincoln's dictum, they set their ambition on fooling enough of the people, enough of the time. 

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  17. And yes, Brandon, we did think it was worth a great deal of effort.  The critiques of Doran, Anderegg, Oreskes and others have been that they were small sample sets.  We were curious if doing a large sample of papers would change the results.  

    We put in a lot of hard hours and the results were consistent with previous research.

    If you think we did it wrong, then show us how to do it right.  Craft your own and get it published.

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  18. Rob @17, I think he would need to include a self rating system.  I am sure he could come up with any result he pre-ordains if he crowd sources the rating at WUWT.

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  19. Brandon Shollenberger - "...this site has posted many critiques of papers. Why should I refrain from doing the same?"

    You should by all means feel free to present a critique. 

    However: A scientific critique include data, measures, replications of the work with different conclusions, or references to same (features of most rebuttals to 'skeptic' arguments, including those on SkS). You have presented none of the above, just attempts at redefining the various categories to definitions that were not used by the raters or the consulted authors, as far as I can see. In other words, you have presented redefinitions irrelevant to the work you critiqued. You have done nothing that should be taken seriously in a scientific context. 

    Please, feel free to disagree. But don't expect to be taken seriously until and unless you do some work - rate a thousand or so abstracts (as per Oreskes 2004), present your data, and demonstrate your hypothesis. Until then, I for one will have to regard your 'critiques' as nothing more than empty rhetoric, an attempt to discredit work you dislike - without putting forth the effort for actual science. 

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  20. There seems to be some confusion (by exactly one poster) about the purpose of the paper in regards to consensus. Put simply - that there is a consensus has been shown repeatedly in the literature. So you can think of this paper as showing how much consenus there is - is it:

    51%?

    65%?

    80%?

    90%?

    95%?

    Nope!

    It is over 97%! (which we actually knew from previous work - but compare to public's perspective).

    So the answer to what is the defintion of consensus is kind of the wrong question - the question is how much consensus was there (and of course, if the data showed it - how much *lack* of consensus was there). There is 97% consensus - even more if you weight the papers you look at to after 2000 - then it is over 98%.

    Now where are you getting lost?

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  21. Tom @18...  Yes.  Exactly.

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  22. "That is especially true given that I am but one person, and you were 24."

    Brandon...  First off, most of the ratings were done by 12 people, so you're only half right.  But John Cook was but one person.  He merely enlisted the help of friends.  If this is such an important issue that you feel the need to spend dozens of hours arguing the issue, surely you have the time to find a dozen friends who could also spend dozens of hours compiling a similar body of research.

    I would even go as far as to suggest that you really don't need to do 12,000 papers.  Even 1200 randomly selected papers would give you a statistically significant sampling.  Thus, you could perform the experiment with a fraction of the effort that the SkS team contributed to Cook13.

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  23. <i>"That is especially true given that I am but one person, and you were 24."</i>

     

    When you see skeptics making excuses like "We don't have the time, or we don't have enough people", remember that Anthony Watts likes to brag about how much more traffic, how many more visitors, how many more comments, etc. that his site gets than do sites like skepticalscience.com, realclimate.org etc.

    If we are to take Watts at his word, then that would mean that he has access to far more warm bodies to throw at a problem than skepticalscience does.  So the above excuses simply don't fly.  If Watts and Co were serious, they could easily "crowd-source" an even bigger project than the Cook13 effort.

    Furthermore, a quick bit of Googling will confirm that Mr Shollenberger has an *immense* amount of free-time on his hands.   The "I don't have enough time or access to enough manpower to organize my own study" simply doesn't cut it, as far as I'm concerned.

    A good way to distinguish genuine skeptics from "pseudoskeptics" is that genuine skeptics produce *results* while "pseudoskeptics" produce excuses.

    And all we've seen in response to Cook13 is excuses.

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  24. Rob Honeycutt, my posts here have said nothing about the definitions of the categories. As such, the conversation here could not be about the definitions of the categories. The conversation is about the definition of the "consensus" Cook et al repeatedly refer to. As I've pointed out multiple times, this "consensus" has never been defined. There is no reason to avoid that simple issue by changing the subject.

    And yes, I do believe the people who donated $1,600 to help the examination of this "consensus" are entitled to know what it actually is. A single sentence to define a key aspect of a paper is hardly a burdensome requirement.

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  25. KR, my critiques of this paper have included data and measurements as provided by the authors. My critiques have also provided different interpretations of the same data as used by the authors, providing a form of replication. In short, I have done exactly what you say I have not done. The most you could say is my data and replication were not independent, but that is not what you said.

    Moreover, you claim my critiques have been limited to redefining things yet ignore the fact a primary point I've raised is that no definition exists for the "consensus." Something cannot be redefined if it has no definition in the first place. Moreover, I haven't offered a definition for the "consensus" so I couldn't possibly be offering a (re)definition of any sort.

    actually thoughtful, for us to measure a "consensus," we have to be able to define that "consensus." How else could we possibly know how many people endorse it?

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  26. Tom Curtis, given the accusations of dishonesty (and the conspiratorial ideation displayed) in your comment, I don't think I could respond while abiding by this site's rules.

    caerbannog, the amount of time I may have to spend pursuing matters related to climate change doesn't indicate how much time I have to spend on any particular topic. Spending time on one issue forces me not to spend time on other issues, even if the total amount of time I have is "immense." As for getting people to help, I don't think many people I could ask for help would find this sort of project meaningful enough to justify doing.

    Even if I could find the time and people to repeat this project's general approach, the burden would be enormous. And it'd say absolutely nothing about the issues I have raised here. One need not do something "right" to show someone else did it wrong.

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  27. Brandon@ 24...  But the categories are what create the definition within the paper.  So, my position still stands.  If you think Cook et al did a poor job of crafting the research, by all means, show us how to do it correctly.  Being that you're not offering any data or references to substantiate your position I would suggest that performing research of your own is the only way you're going to definitively resolve this issue.

    And the $1600 was merely to allow the paper to be open access rather than offer any assistance in the "examination of this consensus."  In fact, the $1600 came immediately prior to the paper being published, long after all the actual "examination" occurred.  

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  28. Brandon Shollenberger:

    You keep going on about how Cook <i>et al</i> 2013 didn't "define" consensus. Yet you brushed off the simplest explanation, provided by shoyemore upthread.

    Why must Cook <i>et al</i> come up with some newfangled definition of consensus when a quite satisfactory definition can be found in, effectively, every dictionary of the English language currently in print? Are people reading science papers now so uneducated that unremarkable words like "consensus" can't be correctly parsed? Should we now begin to quibble over what the meaning of "is" is?

    As far as I can see you are setting up a very mobile goalpost indeed if the definition of consensus has to satisfy you but, mysteriously, can't be the already commonly-accepted definition.

    (I might also add that the above response is far more thought-out than, frankly, I think your attempts to criticize Cook <i>et al</i> 2013 on this thread or elsewhere deserve.)

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  29. Frankly, Brandon, I would think that if you genuinely believed that there was a critical error in how Cook13 was crafted (or defined "consensus"), you and others would be racing to perform your own research.  

    Think of the impact!  If you did a better study that better defined the terms, then performed the reserach – even at the 10% rate I suggested – and the results showed that public perception is actually correct...  That would be huge!

    If you were able to get such research published in a quality journal then you would completely change the broad discussion on the climate change issue.  You would prove that there actually is serious debate over this issue!

    Why would you not want the opportunity to do that?

    Unless you just don't believe the results would be different.

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  30. Rob Honeycutt, if that is true, we should be able to define the "consensus" by looking at those categories and their definitions, both of which are provided on this site.  That should make it a simple task anyone could do.  Why then has nobody done so?  Why have people made over a dozen responses to me without bothering to respond to a key point I raised?

    As for the money, I believe publishing results is part of the process, especially in peer-reviewed science.  We couldn't have much of an examination of this issue if the results were never published.  That is, unless you're claiming the only people who examine it are the authors.  I'm not sure what you'd say everyone else is doing then.

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  31. So...  Brandon...  You have free access to Cook13, thanks to the generosity of those who jumped into to make the paper open access.  You should be able to use any of the data available to craft your own version of the research.

    "I believe publishing results is part of the process..."

    The results were going to be published either way, with or without the $1600.  The money only allowed people like you and many others free access to the paper, without having to purchase it through the journal.

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  32. When it comes to repeating research to disconfirm the results, Mr Shollenberger seems reluctant at best ... oh.

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  33. Composer99, I have no idea how you can say I "brushed off the simplest explanation" when I directly responded to the commenter you refer to. I specifically acknowledged his point and explained why it doesn't address what I've been trying to say. Repeating a point I promptly responded to while claiming I ignored it seems... strange.

    Rob Honeycutt, I have little belief as to what the results of a well-designed project would be. I say this work is flawed because it's flawed. We shouldn't ignore problems with a paper just because it gets a "right" answer.

    Beyond that, without a definition for what the "consensus" examined in this work actually is, there's no way to intelligently discuss its results. Even if I liked the results, I couldn't reasonably promote them without knowing what they are.  I cannot sensibly tell people there's a "97% consensus" if I don't know what the consensus says.

    You're free to make whatever assumptions you want about my beliefs or motivations, but no matter what you believe about me, it is perfectly reasonable for anyone to ask what the "consensus" actually is.  Assuming nefarious intent on my part doesn't change anything.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] You are once again skating on the thin ice of sloganeering and excessive repitition. If you cannot cease and desist from this unacceptable behaviour, your comments will be deleted.

  34. Brandon...  If I tell you that your responses are "flawed because they're flawed" that really doesn't communicate much substance.

    The only thing I can come up with here is that you're experiencing a form of cognitive dissonance, where the paper gets the "answer right" but is still flawed over the definition of a commonly understood word.

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  35. And I have to add...  Your grasping at the $1600 thing is another sign that you need some reason to reject the findings, even though the findings are the right answer.

    The $1600 is a glaring innocuous element of the issue.

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  36. Brandon - You have clearly attempted to redefine the categories as used by the raters to values not used in the paper, as in this extended post. Exclusive choose-one categories used by raters (and authors) who were well aware of the consensus view, and judged the abstracts and papers regarding endorsement or rejection according to how they matched that view. 

    That's not a reexamination of the data on your part - that's a redefinition, a "black is white" or "up is down" Newspeak claim that the rating judgements were somehow not what was used in the Cook et al paper. Judgements entirely supported by the existing literature, and confirmed by the author self-ratings, I'll point out. 

    Again; if you feel this is in error, do the work. Evaluate some abtracts with your particular critera, present your data, and see if it holds up. Oreskes managed it on her own; surely you can - if you actually think the data supports your point of view. But this repeated claim that the rater judgement criteria were not what was actually used, that the raters repeatedly misinterpreted ambiguous abstracts as wholly endorsing the consensus, is simply silly; one of the most clearly absurd objections to the consensus. 

    [ In fact, this approach of 'auditing' of climate papers is but an absurd parody of science - no new facts, measures, or analysis, just nit-picking of others results (often simply semantic, as in this case) with an apparent aim of discrediting them. Nothing new, nothing gained, nothing creative - just insinuations of doubt. I (IMO) consider this one of the trademarks of false skepticism; these objections without contributions. ]

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  37. Shollenberger need not have his intent assumed when he has a long and rich history on SkS of clearly demonstrating said intent. I would caution all by emphasizing that any attempt to engage in anything productive with him will be a complete waste of time. DNFTT.

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  38. Sceptics don't deny the fact that putting more co2 molecules in the air will lead to more warming.

    They only question two things:

    1. But how much warming will that be ?

    2, And how bad is that warming ?

    Off course the are scientific projections with uncertainties.

    The main uncertainties: clouds and oceans.

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  39. Peter...  I would beg to differ:   Principia-Scientific.

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  40. A certain breed of "sceptic" does this - usually referred to as lukewarmers. So classification of what you mean by "sceptic" is tricky. In all those polls that ask "do you believe in man-made climate change", I am happy to agree that those that say "no" are not "sceptic" - bringing a fine word into disrepute - but simply and accurately deniers.

    However a real skeptic is critical of all evidence. Faux skeptics fete any paper that suggests low sensitivity or reduced effects and attack any paper suggests high sensitivity or expensive consequences. (Of course same criticism of lack of skepticism can levelled at the greenpeace crowd but in reverse).

    For the policy maker though, you have to go with consensus position and precautionary principle.

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  41. Brandon Shollenberger maybe you could analyse the motives of the tiny remnant that is the 3% and see what irreconcilable differences they have. You will find that that they are all just like you! Bert

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  42. It may help readers to understand Brandon Shollenberger's point if you read his statement of it at Lucia's Blackboard.  He is restricted from stating the point clearly here because he has made his point by quoting from hacked forum contents which the moderators do not typically allow to be reposted on this site.  Essentially he quotes John Cook as saying that neither of two possible precise criteria of the AGW are satisfactory, but that the raters will be able to rate based on informed judgement.  He further partially quotes Dana on the purported assymettry of the classifications.

    I will not quote from the hacked forum material without specific permission from the moderators.  Those who want to read Shollenberger's quotes from the hacked discussions can follow the link above.  I will merely note that Shollenberger ignores relevant context from other forum threads which significantly weaken his point.

    Having said that, the more important point is that both John Cook and Dana were wrong in the quoted comments.  Specifically, the paper does contain an implicit definition of what is meant by "endorses AGW"  and "rejects AGW".  This follows directly from the fact that different occurences of the phrases should be given the same meaning if that can consistently be done.  Failing to give them consistent meaning results in constructing a straw man to critique.  It means that the criticism is based on the inconsistency of the phrases, when a consistent interpretation is possible which may well avoid the criticism.

    From this it follows that in the phrases "(1) Explicit endorsement with quantification", "(2) Explicit endorsement without quantification" and "(3) Implicit endorsement", the term "endorsement" (meaning endorsement of AGW) has the same meaning.  However, "endorsement" is defined in (1) as "Explicitly states that humans are the primary cause of recent global warming".

    Further, also on the grounds of consistency, the terms must be interpreted so that "endorsement" and "rejection" are mutually exclusive" and "(7) Explicit rejection with quantification" is qualified as "Explicitly states that humans are causing less than half of global warming".  If being the primary cause of recent warming is possible if, for example, anthropogenic factors cause 40% of the warming, while all other factors individually cause 10% or less, then the interpretation of "primary cause" allows a paper to both explicitly endorse and explicitly reject AGW with quantification.  For consistency, therefore, endorsing AGW in (1) must mean endorsing AGW as equal to or greater than 50% of the cause of recent warming.  It follows, on the grounds of consistency that that is the meaning of "endorses AGW" whereever it occurs in the paper.

    Ergo though John Cook may have lacked an explicit definition of endorsement, he and the raters had an implicit definition which is in the paper.  What is more, that implicit definition is, or is very close to the tacit definition actually used by raters in rating abstracts.

    Stating this recognizes a flaw in the implimentation of the paper.  Because the definition was implicit, it is not certain that all raters used it or a close approximation of it.  I am in fact (slowly) testing that hypothesis in the only reasonable way.  I am in fact rating papers chosen at random using the consensus project rating mechanism.  If I am correct about the tacit definition adopted by the raters, my ratings will closely coincide with the Cook et al ratings.  To date I have 100% agreement in the check (though not from cherry picked examples that have been posted on various blogs), although my sample size is still to small to be significant.

    Anybody else who wants to check can do as I am.  Not doing something equivalent, or simply relying on cherry picked examples, however, it no way to check if there has actually been a flow in the implimentation of the paper.  Showing that a flaw might exist is not the same as showing that it does exist, and certainly not the same as showing that it impacts the results.  Despite that, Shollenberger Lucia and the like are very big on trying to show the former, but then simply seem to assume that the mere possibility of a flaw means the paper has been demolished.  Even if they have to cherry pick or quote out of context to "show" that possibility.

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  43. Brandon - You have repeatedly claimed that the rater classifications were wrong, that they erroneously classified categories #2 and #3, endorsement of the AGW consensus (which is, to put it bluntly, that anthropogenic causes are the dominant factor in current climate change) instead of the no-position #4 or even rejection #5, 6. See for example your On the consensus and Why symmetry is bad posts.

    I find it stunning that you would deny it, since you've spent multiple posts expounding on just those points - with statements such as "The guidelines for rating these abstracts show only the highest rating value blames the majority of global warming on humans", which is not what either explicit or implicit endorsement of the AGW consensus means. 

    From IPCC AR4 WG1 Executive Summary:


    Human-induced warming of the climate system is widespread. [...] It is extremely unlikely (<5%) that the global pattern of warming during the past half century can be explained without external forcing, and very unlikely that it is due to known natural external causes alone. The warming occurred in both the ocean and the atmosphere and took place at a time when natural external forcing factors would likely have produced cooling.

    Greenhouse gas forcing has very likely caused most of the observed global warming over the last 50 years...


    [ Note that IPCC likelyhood terminology has defined values - "very likely" indicates >90% probability. Those are anything but vague statements. ]

    Your definition is not the criteria used by the IPCC, raters, nor by the authors. Your claims regarding erroneous classification are are therefore absurd. 

    ---

    Enough - you have been trolling this topic for more than long enough. The AGW consensus is clearly defined and understood (barring uninformed or deliberate misinterpretations), the raters and authors used their best judgement when classifying abstracts and papers, and therefore the Cook et al statistics hold.  

    Your entire approach is in essence an extended (and verbose) strawman fallacy - "...when a person simply ignores a person's actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position.", then arguing against that false position instead. Invalid and (IMO) trolling.

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] "you have been trolling this topic for more than long enough"

    Agreed.  The time has come to return this thread to more original dialogue.

  44. (-moderation complaints snipped-)

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Your previous comment was deleted for moderation complaints.  By me.  You have a long, protracted history of treating the Comments Policy of this site as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participation fairly observed without any incident by the vast majority of all participants in this venue.

    From the preamble to the Comments Policy:

    The purpose of the discussion threads is to allow notification and correction of errors in the article, and to permit clarification of related points. Though we believe the only genuine debate on the science of global warming is that which occurs in the scientific literature, we welcome genuine discussion as both an aid to understanding and a means of correcting our inadvertent errors.  To facilitate genuine discussion, we have a zero tolerance approach to trolling and sloganeering.

    Normally the moderation staff is loath to intervene and usually gives participants a wide latitude in composing their comments to adhere to the Comments Policy.  When situations occur where certain participants are deemed to be repeat, repetitive violators of the Comments Policy, a tighter level of enforcement of the Comments Policy ensues.  At the discretion of the moderation staff, a wide variety of interventions are possible, covering the entire spectrum of intervention modalities ranging from snipping and excising offending texts to comment deletions to Warnings to outright banishment (a revocation of posting privileges).

    Based on previous behaviors and on your behavior thus far in this thread, you are now issued a Final Warning:

    Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right.  This privilege can and will be rescinded if the posting individual continues to treat adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Moderating this site is a tiresome chore, particularly when commentators repeatedly submit offensive, off-topic posts or intentionally misleading comments and graphics or simply make things up. We really appreciate people's cooperation in abiding by the Comments Policy, which is largely responsible for the quality of this site.
     
    Finally, please understand that moderation policies are not open for discussion.  If you find yourself incapable of abiding by these common set of rules that everyone else observes, then a change of venues is in the offing.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it.  Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter, as no further warnings shall be given.

     

    Edit:  Let the record show that with his very next comment, Brandon chose to continue his pattern of moderation complaints and comment policy violations.  Please return this thread to the topics discussed in the OP.

  45. Petere, it sounds like you're defining "skeptics" as "people like me."  Troll around a bit on WUWT and you'll discover that people who call themselves "skeptic" fit a variety of definitions.  By the way, working scientists are, by definition, skeptics.

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  46. The utter lack of ethics shown by Brandon and Watts and co. in reading and publically quoting material stolen from our private discussion forum really irritates me.  Brandon is trying to dispute my assertions with stolen private comments I made what, a year and a half ago, before the ratings process began?  Give me a break.  It just shows they're not acting in good faith (shocking, I know).

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  47. Note - I'll withdraw my complaints about the quoting of our private discussions if Brandon and Watts and co. send me all of their email correspondences over the past year and a half.

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  48. Take solace in the fact that about 90% of climate science denialism rests on stolen e-mail from CRU and from Skeptical Science.

     

    If it weren't for felonious conduct, what would they have?

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  49. KR@36

    "Again; if you feel this is in error, do the work. Evaluate some abtracts with your particular critera, present your data, and see if it holds up"

    This indeed is why we can with confidence talk about denialists: The lack of relevant (scientific) evidence backing up their claims which contradicts the well known science.

    We have a excellent example: The claimed falsification done at CRU. Why is it that not a single denialist has taken any time to actually prove their claims (thus also proving that the label denialist is false)?

    The only case where the result was actually displayed AFAIK, was the BEST reconstruction, and that did not go the way the (then) sceptic crowd assumed, resulting instead to outright rejection (again without any tangible material to back them up), as well as a slew of argument fallacies such as 'true scotsman' and not to forget in one particular case, a total backtracking of earlier claim (you know who this was).

    The reality is, that as long as they choose to remain as bystanders spouting their anti-scientific belief-artifacts at the scientific arena, not participating using the scientific methods (ie. 'doing the work' as KR and many others in this thread expresses it), they will, by their own actions, remain denialists.

    Maybe the most comical part is that by voicing their poorly founded thoughts, the deniers are actually providing valid material for an objective analysis of the denial, as attested by the Lewandowsky et al. studies.

    Another absurdity is that the denialists continuously claim that the climate science has been politisized, yet their main method of critique is that found in politics (by innuendo, character assassination etc), not science.

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  50. I would normally not comment on this particular blog site, however, this post appears to reference some work that I did on the sole statistical "analyses" in the paper:

    Some blogs advanced a related logical fallacy by claiming that this shows 'an increase in uncertainty.' However, if uncertainty over the cause of global warming were increasing, we would expect to see the percentage of papers rejecting or minimizing human-caused global warming increasing. On the contrary, rejection studies are becoming less common as well. That scientists feel the issue is settled science actually suggests there is more certainty about the causes of global warming.

    Despite the shortage of expected tabular results of the various aspects of the data, it was possible to sufficiently reproduce the numeric data from Figure 2(b). You can plot the numbers yourself. I commented on this on the referenced Watts' thread in response to another comment:

    The number of papers rejecting AGW is increasing with almost half of them coming in the last five years of the study period. The percentage of such papers annually has indeed been decreasing because of the increases in the numbers of papers in the other two categories.

    I agree with some of the other comments that journal gatekeeping may have played some role in this process, but it seems much more obvious that the major reason for the proliferation of global warming and climate change papers is the many billions of dollars which have been allotted over the last 20 years to such research. (-snip-).

    My original criticism of the paper was that the regressions calculated and reported in the paper were inappropriately done as they were ignoring the changing numbers of papers in the various years. Perhaps you or someone else could comment  on why my critiques of the regressions are wrong and/or why this shortcoming should not be corrected in the publication itself.

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Off-topic ideology snipped.

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