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How many climate scientists are climate skeptics?

Posted on 22 June 2010 by John Cook

There have been various surveys or petitions claiming that thousands of scientists are skeptical that humans are causing global warming. The thing is, when you peruse these lists, you find very few scientists who actually have expertise in climate science. So what do the experts think? A 2009 survey found that over 97% of actively publishing climate scientists are convinced humans are significantly changing global temperatures (Doran 2009). Now a new study has digged into this topic a little deeper and broader. As well as covering a larger number of climate scientists, they also researched how many papers each scientist published and how often their work was cited (Anderegg 2010). How many published climate scientists think most of recent global warming was due to human activity? Between 97 to 98%.

The results are strikingly consistent with Doran's earlier work. The overwhelming majority of climate experts think humans are causing climate change. Next, they dig a little deeper. They examine the number of publications by each scientist as a measure of expertise in climate science. What they find is the average number of publications by unconvinced scientists (eg - skeptics) is around half the number by scientists convinced by the evidence. Not only is there a vast difference in the number of convinced versus unconvinced scientists, there is also a considerable gap in expertise between the two groups.


Figure 1: Distribution of the number of researchers convinced by the evidence of anthropogenic climate change and unconvinced by the evidence with a given number of total climate publications.

An alternative measure of the quality and credibility of a scientist's contribution is the number of times their work is cited by other scientists. Again, there is a considerable gap between the number of citations of papers by convinced scientists and unconvinced scientists.


Figure 2: Distribution of the number of researchers convinced and unconvinced of human caused climate change with a given number times cited for each researcher’s average of the first through fourth most-cited papers.

Skeptics claim there is no scientific consensus, that there are many scientists who don't think humans are causing global warming. However, when it comes to climate experts, we have a numbers gap, an expertise gap and a credibility gap between the scientists convinced of human caused global warming and climate skeptics.

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 130:

  1. Survey is not surprising. Would you be surprised to find a survey of Catholic priests found only 3 to 5 percent are agnostic?
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  2. Geo Guy... I'm curious how you think that a contribution to IPCC reports would somehow disqualify a scientist from having an opinion on an issue for which they have extensive experience. That's seems tantamount to not asking certain oncologists their opinion on your tumor because they've contributed to a report on cancer.
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  3. "In my view, we are only going to arrive at a more accurate synopsis of what is happening to our climate by involving scientists from across the spectrum." Maybe we should use more pictures?
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  4. Doug # 43 My apologies if that how my comments are interpreted, as that is what I did not intend. By all means do use research from climatologists, but keep them independent of those who contributed in some fashion to the IPCC reports. Also realizes that the science of climate and climate changes involves a plethora of scientific thinking that transects disciplinary boundaries. In my view, we are only going to arrive at a more accurate synopsis of what is happening to our climate by involving scientists from across the spectrum. Finally I believe we have to place less emphasis on peer reviews and more on the process followed by scientists in arriving at the various conclusions we read about today. One observation I have made with a number of publications is that the authors tend to jump to the conclusion that climate change is the cause of the observations they have recorded without linking the two. A paper to illustrate this observation was the one referenced about the disappearance of lizards in various habitats around the world where the author has pointed the finger at climate change. More recently a paper was published about the disappearance of snakes in essentially the same habitat, however instead of pointing the finger at climate change, the author indicated in the report that more works needs ot be done to understand what the cause is - which IMHO is the more pragmatic approach to take. While not scientific, I did peruse the source of the scientists used by Anderegg et al, 2010 and found a lot of scientists that had signed various documents that are cited, to have been involved/participants in the generation of the IPCC reports - hardly independent sources. http://www.eecg.utoronto.ca/~prall/climate/list_sources.html Unfortunately I find this type of misleading profusion to be upsetting as it detracts from following proper process. If you have independent reports that support the IPCC's findings then that is one thing - to use reports or "letters" involving the same scientists that participated in the IPCC process to me is fraudulent.
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  5. Ian # 49 - Your phrase "denier" says it all. I could use the same arguments to discredit those who have signed petitions and letters supporting AGW but that serves no purpose. Also to state that those scientists who did sign the OIM petition were essentially all lemmings is equally unconvincing. Finally to say there hasn't been any misleading and inaccurate reports supporting AGW is equally misleading. It seems that when some people want to discredit the opposing view on the basis of certain parameters, they feel they can, however when those same parameters are used to support their view, all of a sudden they are acceptable. As the saying goes, you cannot have your cake and eat it to!! :)
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  6. Moderator, correct me if I am wrong, but I do not think Pielke Jnr's proposal relevant to the story at hand? What is perhaps relevant is Pielke et al. trying to make it sound like there is some nefarious "black list" when there is in fact none. Going off on tangents about Pielke is seemingly an attempt to detract from the incredibly inconvenient findings (for those in denial of AGW or those skeptical of AGW) of this study.
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  7. robhon # 53 Conflicts of interest have to be managed. For instance a scientist might be asked to review or support an article that reports results that could refute a hypothesis that he has defended for over twenty years. Similarly he might be asked to support a petition that is being used to further support work he did on a paper or published report. In either case there is a clear conflict of interest involved with the actions. issue is not their experience but rather the underlying supposedly independent support they are giving themselves to the work they carried out.
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  8. #38 doug_bostrom at 03:53 AM on 23 June, 2010 how about some data? [...] Pielke-gripe awarded cohort Wow. That's four hundred million bucks (Awarded Amount to Date $393,767,453). Top six are
    • $172,942,477 (0856145) Management and Operation of the National Center for Atmospheric Research
    • $64,449,492 (0711134) A National Institute for Computational Sciences to provide leading-edge computational support for breakthrough science and engineering research
    • $15,031,990 (0425247) Center for Multi-Scale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (MMAP)
    • $13,669,386 (0735156) UNAVCO Community and Facility Support: Geodesy Advancing Earth Science Research
    • $7,385,125 (0434946) UCAR Educational Outreach Program and Other UCAR Activities
    • $6,407,036 (0410014) Joint Office for Science Support (JOSS)
    That's $279,885,506 which is 71% of the sum distributed among 254 projects. It serves well as a suggestion about actual priorities.
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  9. Geo Guy >... to state that those scientists who did sign the OIM petition were essentially all lemmings is equally unconvincing. Except nobody said that. Read the post before trying to comment on it. >Finally to say there hasn't been any misleading and inaccurate reports supporting AGW is equally misleading. Nobody said that either. Inaccuracies exist in all scientific disciplines, they will always exist, who here is claiming otherwise? You're arguing against strawmen.
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  10. Doug B writes: "Checking in at WUWT, I see the Anderegg paper is being celebrated, with Anderegg et al likened somewhat paradoxically to both Nazis as well as Communists." National Socialism and "scientific" Marxism-Leninism aren't so different. Both were pseudoscientific ideologies that masqueraded as "science"...
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  11. BP it's fun rummaging through that database. I don't think facilities substantially devoted to synoptic weather forecasting, engineering models are really very controversial. Do you? You'll notice big expenses wherever hardware is involved, for instance where actual physical experimentation is being undertaken. Models and experiments both cost a lot of money, thinking less so. W/regard to your earlier remarks, there are actually quite a few arguably fundamental projects on radiation, thermodynamics and the like, fundamental in the sense of being theoretically oriented and offering opportunities for experimental investigation. Nobody's going to get funding to reproduce the stuff that was done and accepted decades ago; I suspect that as one digs further back, the more fundamental the research. The really foundational physics behind "ACC" were largely explored prior to the inception of NSF, which is why in their database one sees a lot of more detailed investigation of troposphere-stratosphere flux, validation of models via occultation, etc. Snapple: pseudoscientific ideologies that masqueraded as "science" WUWT in a nutshell, for sure. Geo Guy: By all means do use research from climatologists, but keep them independent of those who contributed in some fashion to the IPCC reports. How exactly would that work? The work product directly related to climate and flowing into IPCC comes from climatologists some of whom actually participate directly with the IPCC synthesis process and some who don't. One of the very positive features of the IPCC synthesis work process is that it draws explicitly from the talents and direct efforts of the most productive and up-to-date researchers, meaning that the idealized survey you envision would automatically be substantially at variance with the state of the science. Inconvenient truth-- those words were chosen carefully and work in a lot of contexts.
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  12. Asking if human activity is a "significant" contributor to global warming is the wrong question. As far as I know, virtually everyone, skeptics included, agrees that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and doubling it can be expected to produce 0.75 degree of global warming. That's significant, so sure. The correct question would be something along the lines of "Is human produced CO2 the cause of a global warming climate crisis?" Even more interesting would be "Are climate models an accurate predictor of climate?" Since measurements are running below two-sigma of the predictions, that would tell how many climate scientists are paying attention. It's not difficult to count the names of at least 300 qualified published climate scientists who are skeptics. Since climate science is a very narrow specialty, that enough to prove there is no consensus. Because the climate models are clearly not working, and the only basis of crisis theory is the models, if there is a consensus, then there shouldn't be. Validation of a scientific theory comes from observation of valid predictions, not a poll.
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  13. e - # 60 While it didn't say that it certainly implied that. To say some 30,000 scientists were beguiled by some fraudulent paper and hence they all signed the petition because they all believed the same fraudulent paper is the same as 30,000 lemmings following 1 lemming over a cliff in my book. With regards to my mention of inaccuracies was to emphasis the fact the petition was rejected because of inaccuracies yet many reports and publications supporting AGW are equally misleading but are not being rejected because of that. Doug_b # 63 It is a simple. Given that there appears to be tens of thousands of climate scientists it should be rather easy to find those that have not been involved in the IPCC work to assess it and then provide a yea or nay. Allowing those who were involved with the IPCC work to subsequently provide a yea is like having those same scientists be a reviewer of their own work. "One of the very positive features of the IPCC synthesis work process is that it draws explicitly from the talents and direct efforts of the most productive and up-to-date researchers, meaning that the idealized survey you envision would automatically be substantially at variance with the state of the science. Inconvenient truth-- those words were chosen carefully and work in a lot of contexts." Sorry I disagree - there is a blatant bias to the result of the survey when 50% of the participants were in fact involved in the matter on which the survey was made. I really fail to understand your difficulty in grasping this concept. We don't allow students to mark their own papers so why should we allow scientists to be involved in a process that provides a level of quality or acceptance on something they themselves were involved in producing? Just makes no sense!!!
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  14. The thing that always strikes me about the "funding bias" line of attack is that people who believe it tend to present it as self-evident...even as they subject every aspect of the consensus view on AGW to every sort of abstruse nitpicking. There's not enough evidence in the world to justify a belief in AGW, it seems. But hearsay and presumption are more than good enough to support accusations of groupthink, funding bias, conspiracy, etc. It's been said before, but this double standard is not what one would expect from real skeptics.
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  15. Roy Latham, It's not difficult to count the names of at least 300 qualified published climate scientists who are skeptics. Since climate science is a very narrow specialty, that enough to prove there is no consensus. Because the climate models are clearly not working, and the only basis of crisis theory is the models, if there is a consensus, then there shouldn't be. Validation of a scientific theory comes from observation of valid predictions, not a poll. Did you read the PNAS paper? It's not a poll.
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  16. "We don't allow students to mark their own papers so why should we allow scientists to be involved in a process that provides a level of quality or acceptance on something they themselves were involved in producing?" Doing so is only a problem if you assume that international, interdisciplinary, multi-decade collusion is not only possible, but likely. Most of us, I think, are not prepared to do that without at least as much evidence as "skeptics" demand for AGW. Absent that evidence, you're basically just engaging in the fallacy of circumstantial ad hominem. Which is really a waste of time for all concerned, IMO.
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  17. Berényi - a quick scan on the NSF search engine you pointed out using the term "radiative" found 10 funding opportunities, 5 or 6 of which (depending on how you read the summaries) are directly tied to climate change. These include "Water Cycle Research" involving latent heat transport versus radiative, "Synthesis of Arctic System Science" for studies of the Arctic, "Paleo Perspectives on Climate Change", "Decadal and Regional Climate Prediction using Earth System Models", and so on. Lots of funding opportunities. "Atmosphere thermal" gave five categories. Searching on "Climate" gave 101 funding opportunities, just within NSF. I'm certain you could submit radiative research to NSF, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (which funded the Trenberth 2009 paper, on very similar topics), or some other agency. And if it was a decent proposal, it would have a competitive chance of acceptance.
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  18. Geo Guy... I guess what has always bothered me about the Oregon Petition is that it casts a very wide and ambiguous net. So, 30,000 have signed it. That relates to what denominator? A million "scientists?" Ten million? who could potentially sign the petition? The 30,000 is a tiny tiny fraction of the broader scientific community as defined by the petition itself. But the way it's structured we have no idea. A numerator on its own tells us very little. At least the Anderegg study above makes the attempt to give us both a denominator and a numerator.
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  19. #61 doug_bostrom at 07:23 AM on 23 June, 2010 The really foundational physics behind "ACC" were largely explored prior to the inception of NSF That is not the case. Different estimates of entropy production in the climate system has quite a range. Non-equilibrium thermodynamics and the production of entropy: life, Earth, and beyond. Kleidon, A. and Lorenz, R. D. (eds.) © 2004 Springer Verlag, Heidelberg. ISBN: 3-540-22495-5 REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS, VOL. 48, RG2003, 27 PP., 2010 doi:10.1029/2008RG000275 Radiation entropy flux and entropy production of the Earth system Wei Wu & Yangang Liu The former gives an estimated entropy production rate of 900 mW m-2 K-1, while the latter one settles on 1279±7 mW m-2 K-1 It is a 30% error margin. It does not sound like an area largely explored prior to anything. I wonder how computational climate models can do any useful work in describing the behavior of an intricate heat engine while one of the most basic state variables is essentially unknown.
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  20. Sigh. Geo Guy: ...there is a blatant bias to the result of the survey when 50% of the participants were in fact involved in the matter on which the survey was made. I really fail to understand your difficulty in grasping this concept. The concept I grasp is that the participants know what they're talking about, they're the people who come closest to understanding the topic, everybody else understands less. It's axiomatic. ...why should we allow scientists to be involved in a process that provides a level of quality or acceptance on something they themselves were involved in producing? Because they know what they're talking about and selecting people who don't know as much about the topic necessarily means inferior judgment? But let's back up for moment. This is a truly ridiculous discussion, a synthetically created argument, a dance choreographed by artistes having zero interest in scientific research. Our partners are bereft of useful arguments about actual scientific results, so we instead are locked in a conversational embrace about a process having nothing to do with the pursuit of climate research. We somehow find ourselves earnestly talking about whether scientists are qualified to talk about science, in particular whether experts should have a voice in their own field. How very absurd. The reason we're unwillingly enrolled as clowns in this theater of the bizarre, why we're seeing papers of the sort brought up in this post is in part because people who have no useful scientific arguments turn to impressionism, they resort to such concoctions as "there is no consensus." This tactic was suggested w/regard to climate research by a political consultant called Luntz (look it up) having originally been used in earlier "controversies" such as tobacco-related illnesses, chlorofluorocarbon impacts on the ozone layer and the like. Kabuki-style quibbling about whether scientists will disagree with the collective published research record is the work product of public relations experts and has no utility in the advancement of human understanding of our natural world. On a parenthetical note, it's ironically amusing that even as Roger Pielke Jr. is whining about politics infecting science, he's a funded expert on this sort of degenerate meta-discussion. He's obtained money from the NSF for researching such important matters as this: Understanding symbols in political discourse is important because symbols shape how policy problems and options are framed. This project focuses on understanding the origins, evolution, and dynamics of the concept of "basic research" in science policy discourse. Perhaps he's becoming a case of selection bias.
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  21. In regards to argumentive tactics - creating doubt, questioning expertise, nitpicking a small point and saying that invalidates a large body of evidence, and calling consensus into question, especially those from Luntz - you might want to take a look at "Thank You For Smoking", either the book or the movie. This is a very funny and illuminating look at the diversionary tactics taken by an industry hellbent on protecting itself from science. I have a personal connection with this - my brother had that job for years, of apologist/denier, for a major US tobacco firm. He gave me a copy of the book shortly after he started - he was very amused that Buckley had nailed it so cleanly. 'Tho he did get a bit tired of the "how much does a soul go for" questions at family gatherings...
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  22. Doug @70, great post. IMHO, you just hit the nail on the head (well, several times it seems). It is depressing how effective the tactics used by the "skeptics" are. I guess they had ample opportunity to perfect them during the tobacco and CFC "wars". I didn't see this spin about an imaginary list coming....the "skeptics" are very creative and can keep up this take for decades. Roy Spencer has entered the fray and (on his blog) is making similar accusations as those made by Pielke Jnr. And very hypocritical of Pielke Jnr to cry foul over funding when he has in fact received NSF funds to do research.
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  23. Geo Guy > To say some 30,000 scientists were beguiled by some fraudulent paper and hence they all signed the petition because they all believed the same fraudulent paper is the same as 30,000 lemmings following 1 lemming over a cliff in my book. Again, you should read the post before you attempt to criticize it. Nowhere does it say anything even remotely close to what you are describing - i.e., that the were being "beguiled" by a fraudulent paper. The main argument being made is summarized at the top of the post if you don't feel like reading: "The 30,000 scientists and science graduates listed on the OISM petition represent a tiny fraction (0.3%) of all science graduates. More importantly, the OISM list only contains 39 scientists who specialise in climate science." The same point is also brought up by robhon in his comment here.
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  24. This is from the paper's abstract: "(i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers." I concur with Anderegg et al., those skeptical of ACC (to use their abbreviation, anthropogenic climate change) have, for the most part, little expert credibility when it comes to climate science. That fact has dogged the "skeptics" from day one, and one of the reasons they had to generate several "petitions". Problem is, hardly any reputable climate scientists signed their petitions, and a petition is not as credible or subjected to rigorous vetting and critique (both prior to and after publication) as papers published in reputable peer-reviewed journals. All this bluster from the "skeptics" is not going to further their cause and only further undermines what little credibility they have left...it will get the faithful "skeptics" all riled up though, and perhaps that is the point. That or the belief held by some that the best form of defense is offense.
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  25. There is way to much emphasis by climate change deniers on funding bodies and their alleged bias. They clearly do not know how science is done. Most academics have reasonably stable jobs doing a mix of teaching and research, and get a good supply of graduate students, who do most of the actual "work". Most of those graduate students are funded by their university or government - not by research grants - and their scholarships are generally based on their undergraduate performance and nothing else. It does not matter whether the academic or student is pro- or anti- AGW or any other theory. (Aside: those grad students generally want to make a name for themselves - and prove that their professor really is an idiot deep down - and so the good ones do their best to challenge accepted ideas - been there, done that, on both sides of the fence). In reality, funding is needed to purchase complex equipment, or do field trips to remote locations, or go to conferences. Nothing else. So if indeed there was a global conspiracy to deny funds to all climate change skeptics, it would cramp their research somewhat - but not stop it. Einstein didn't apply for any grants to do his work on Relativity. Neither did Heisenberg, or Bohr. Fermi did - to build the world's first nuclear reactor. Funding does help - but being a good scientist helps far more. So if AGW was a crock, and there was a global conspiracy, there would still be thousands of papers tearing it to shreds anyway, from really pissed off academics and lean, mean and hungry grad students. There isn't.
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  26. What Doug Bostrom said at 70 times 2!! Good summary of the argument.
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  27. Geo Guy ... why should we allow scientists to be involved in a process that provides a level of quality or acceptance on something they themselves were involved in producing? Let's say you had a medical problem and different doctors made conflicting diagnoses. Which one would you trust more: the doctor that was directly involved in your medical testing and has experience with your specific problem, or one that gave you a diagnosis over the phone and works in a completely different field of medicine? If we reject the consensus of experts then what's the point of having experts in the first place?
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  28. I seee here many examples of how the deniers don't understand what science is, or what logic is, or what a logical fallacy is. One member suggested "publication bias" "favoring conventional wisdom." This commenter didn't suggest any method of controlling for that--he just suggested it's a reason not to trust the study. This commenter didn't explain why "publication bias" hasn't kept us in the dark ages; why science has done so well in spite of its mortal weakness of "publication bias." Another commenter didn't even try to address any of the facts of the article, but instead said Lord Monckton is right, that's that, end of discussion. And on and on and on. It disturbs me that so many people think they know what they're talking about, when it's so easy to show that they don't.
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  29. Reading a thread like this induces in me a profound sense of depression, I don't what it must be doing to John Cook's sense of well being. The logic, if I am understanding the arguments from the usual suspects is that having 98% (who are the other 2%, that is bizarre?) of the scientists who work in the field of climate change in agreement on the fundamental thrust of the research is a bad thing, a cause for suspicion, and it would be better if only 2% of scientists accepted AGW because then the deniers would believe in it wholeheartedly. Or have I missed something?
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    Response: I'll give you my gripe about this discussion thread - that the subject of scientific consensus provokes so much interest and discussion compared to the subject of scientific evidence. This applies to both sides of the debate - frankly, you're all guilty! :-)

    Personally, I'm persuaded by the consensus of evidence much more than the consensus of scientists. Eg - that there are multiple lines of empirical evidence all pointing at the same answer - that humans are causing global warming. And this is where I try to keep the emphasis on this website.

    But the "there is no consensus" argument is so popular, occasionally it needs to be put into its proper perspective - that the vast majority of the people who matter, climate experts, are convinced by the evidence. The reason is simple - the consensus of scientists is due to the consensus of evidence.

    Anyway, I'll be returning back to a discussion of scientific evidence in the next post, thank goodness!
  30. David Horton: Amen, Brother. I've never seen a denier explain why billions upon billions of tons of CO2 above the baseline *wouldn't* affect climate change. GeoGuy's arguments look like an attempt to muddy the waters. These folk act as if the theory of CO2 as a greenhouse gas is in dispute. There is little attempt to falsify the theory; much more effort to confuse the average reader.
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  31. Yes, BP and that's why you see so many proposals having to do with chasing down seeming paradoxes by investigating such matters as tropospheric-stratospheric flux, as well as models and observations being set in direct collision with one another to see what happens. Like I said, the "easy" stuff is done. This is something that does not escape you, I suspect (though in the interest of consistency I must ask, where were you on the Lon Hocker thread, hmmm?) but I think is easily missed, trampled in the confusion of what resembles a dust-up in the stands of a soccer game while the point of the "game" is entirely missed. Leaving aside folks with massive financial considerations hinging on public policy outcomes, for researchers this is in fact not a game in the sense of operating a big business, not a political contest, not popularity poll, not primarily about score-keeping at all. To the extent that research is connected with egos, it's all about who explains the most the soonest, but egotistical aggrandizement is not the coiled spring in the heart of most scientists' gear-trains. The prime motivator of researchers is intellectual vacuum, the lack of knowledge, the inability to cogently describe. To the extent noticeable discrepancies or mysteries such as BP points out continue to exist, the more fascination this topic will exert on researchers. Unexplained and unresolved phenomena motivate researchers to rise from their beds in the morning, slog through grant applications, deal with university administrators, pay dues by sitting on review panels, sometimes are the only things that can prod an otherwise sane person into teaching yet another section of "Freshman Topic X 101" to students who see the class only as a barrier to life's progress. This sense of wonder and curiosity is so powerful that even when researchers' work inadvertently leads into the harsh public limelight, causes them to be vilified in untruthful newspaper articles, deposits mindless hate in their mailboxes, they keep on bird-dogging their fascination. I can't help but shake my head at superficial score-keeping and gamesmanship by the likes of Watts as exemplified by his silly blacklist artifice. Watts just does not get it. There's no "defeat" possible here; the more weirdly "wrong" climate research results appear in juxtaposition with predictions the more intensely devoted will researchers be to sorting out why. Coming back to BP's remarks, we don't see fundamental work on "C02 saturation" being funded because it's no longer mysterious, no longer poses any significant conundrums, is not interesting and so will certainly be invisible in the funding record. "Saturation" behaves as expected, is passe, boring, a brick many layers down in the wall, done. On the other hand, if it appears to pose a real mystery, the subject of the article BP cites will be pounced upon by hungry researchers who will first try to tear it apart and if unable to do so will then happily turn to beavering away at whatever legitimate questions it poses. Nobody will walk off the field in defeat because it's not that kind of game. By the way, BP, I would not call that article by Wu and Liu "fundamental" research. It attempts to refine application of fundamentals but it upsets no applecarts.
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  32. Even ScienceInsider found it appropriate to demolish Anderegg et al.... (Prall's quaint words about the behaviour of journal editors suggest he hasn't met many of them 8-) ) Forget funding, forget peer-review. This is what Anderegg et al. says: "We defined [unconvinced] researchers as those who have signed statements strongly dissenting from the views of the IPCC" How can the agreement about "the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change" be measured by what petitions have been signed by whom, given that petitions are necessarily policy-relevant and the IPCC is policy-neutral? And since when have scientists expressed their scientific opinions by way of petitions? How many researchers see their scientific output evaluated in terms of the petitions they get themselves involved with, and therefore spend any of their time writing and signing petitions instead of scientific articles? Also: what is the relevance for science, policy and politics of an either/or approach, dividing the world in "IPCC True Believers" and "Everybody else"? Those are the questions that should have arisen during the PNAS's peer-review process, whose abject failure is now so clear for all to see. Perhaps, just perhaps, somebody should have remembered that when two groups of people are analysed statistically and the result has a P value smaller than one hundredth of a trillionth, then it is highly likely that there is something very wrong with the test's design itself.
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  33. Who's the "outlier" at 650 or so publications?
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  34. Not me John, I'm not guilty, really. But (you knew there would be a but) I do find the mindset that rejects consensus as fascinating. For a scientist, as you say, a consensus of scientists reflects a consensus of science, what else could it do? And so the greater the consensus the greater the certainty in the correctness of the science. For a denier, a consensus of scientists is just another name for conspiracy, so that the greater the consensus the stronger the evidence of conspiracy. Hence my question about whether they would believe, say Michael Mann, if he was a lone voice in 100 scientists arguing against him. or what about 50-50, would that prove the science was correct? The logic is just nonsense. As in so may areas of fundamentally settled science, for the rebels to succeed in overturning the 98%consensus, they would have to demonstrate some absolutely fundamental flaw in the core of climate science. The only things I can think of would be disproving that CO2 was a greenhouse gas, or finding a feedback mechanism that will cut in after a few years of rising CO2 and temperature and reduce both automatically. Good luck with those. It isn't to say we know everything, and there is plenty of room for rebels questioning all sorts of minor details about rates of change, and ecological responses, and the precise nature of feedbacks and forcings. But all of that is only like the old joke - we have established what you are, now we are just haggling over the price.
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  35. In response to John's response to David at #79... I have to say (and keep repeating), as a non-scientist it is compelling to me that a large number of scientists working in the field believe one way. I can look at the multiple lines of evidence all day long but my capacity (even being a reasonably sharp guy) is limited in making an adequate assessment. I have to trust that the professionals who are looking at those multiple lines of evidence find it compelling. So, from the outside looking in, that is what is so interesting about this topic.
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    Response: Yeah, sorry about my grumpy rant, I'm a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to this topic :-)
  36. "The thing is, when you peruse these lists, you find very few scientists who actually have expertise in climate science." Again the argument "you are to dumb to understand", an argument which any rational thinker should completly ingore as being even remotely valid. Consider the title of the post, we can also ask question like "who many religious leaders are atheists?" (And one will be surprised to learn there are a great deal of them, but most will not admit it...)
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  37. #14 Berényi Péter, I look to you to provide balance to the pro-AGW majority on this site. This is probably your weakest counter-argument ever. What scientist who has ever approached NSF hasn't gotten a letter like this at least once? ALL ideas are interesting. NSF must be transparent and follow their own scoring and rating rules. Many more requests for funding come in that available funds. That Pielke went back to document the NSF "agenda" says a lot more about Pielke than it does about the NSF.
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  38. @robhon #95 Jim Prall posted a comment on Climate Progress that the intention of the paper was to close the discussion on the scientific consensus so relevant parties could focus on solutions. I presume it was aimed at the mass media and the politicians. Undermining denier's easy access to the media and to the political parties has provoked the waspish response from that quarter. Frankly, I hope it succeeds. We have been going around the mulberry bush of the same arguments for many years now. Maybe it is time for a move on?
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  39. tobyjoyce (#88): the political naivety apparent in the abuse of a scientific publication "to close the discussion on the scientific consensus so relevant parties could focus on solutions" is so large, given the glaring success called COP15, that I cannot imagine how warmists like those would be able to "focus on solutions" even if the whole human race were unanimously with them on this topic. In fact...what next? Unable to properly handle a scientific debate, how are the Pralls and Romms of this world going to handle a policy debate?
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  40. Karl_from_Wylie wrote : "Survey is not surprising. Would you be surprised to find a survey of Catholic priests found only 3 to 5 percent are agnostic?" Yes, I certainly would : I would be surprised if that few were atheists ! A far higher percentage would be agnostic, actually, so not surprising at all - just like the survey under discussion here. Very bad (and, frankly, desperate) analogy.
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  41. "Again the argument "you are to dumb to understand", an argument which any rational thinker should completly ingore as being even remotely valid." How ridicolous can it get? If you have concerns about a growing mole do you go to an oncologist or a philosophy professor? The sum of human knowledge has become so large that even geniuses cannot even beging to approach a satisfying level of understanding of every facet of it. Polymaths like Leonardo Da Vinci cannot exist in modern society. Our knowledge can only increase via specialization. Our modern society is based upon trust in the experts. The system cannot work if you don't trust the experts. It takes years to get a basic understanding of most complex subjects - you can't just spring up and claim your statements about climate science be given equally weight to those of a climate scientist with 20 years of experience. It would be like jumping into an operating room and pretending to perform open heart surgery after cramming an anatomy manual the night before. What is it about expert knowledge that people understand in medicine but in no other science? Is it having your life on the line - good old myopic egocentrism?
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  42. It's worth repeating a point often missed in this "debate": AGW is not a theory. It's a prediction of a general theory of climate. Anyone who wants to argue against AGW therefore has to undo this general theory, which has held up well for explaining things as diverse as ice ages on Earth, and the climate of planets as different as Mars and Venus. Arguments against AGW that do not address why the underlying theory is flawed are generally pretty useless, which is why so much of the anti-AGW hype is just that: hype.
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  43. LWeisenthal wrote : "A lone pathologist in Australia, with no "credentials" came up with the idea that ulcers were caused by a bacterium (helicobacter pylori). No one believed him. He couldn't get the work published. He certainly wouldn't have qualified for any funding. It took nearly 20 years for the world to come around to his way of thinking. In 2005 he (Robin Warren) won the Nobel Prize." Not quite. Robin Warren and Barry Marshall (the latter a Physician) developed their theory over 3 years until publishing in the Medical Journal of Australia in 1985, i.e. they HAD funding and they WERE published. Research into the bacteria had been going on for at least 20 years but no-one had linked all the studies or developed a coherent theory based on them. It only took a few more years for them to prove themselves against those who were sceptical. Read all about it here from the men themselves. Where are the Warren and Marshall of the so-called AGW Skeptics ?
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  44. KR @ 7 If you are forced to retract a paper, well, that means your paper was wrong, that clear mistakes have been pointed out. Nobody makes that kind of admission of error without proof - if there isn't clear proof of error, bad data, incorrect methods, etc., the paper will remain in the marketplace of ideas, and will be cited (or not) based on it's perceived worth. Shades of Galileo? I guess his ideas did last the distance but in the face of some fierce opposition. Toby Joyce @ 30 I'm delighted to see you quoting Stephen Jay Gould (one of my favourite writers)and especially some of his keenest insights. Bringing the subject back to Galileo, the evidence for a geocentric universe in his time was as good and maybe better than the evidence for a heliocentric world (and of course, today we all know the universe is not heliocentric). For what it's worth, the 'consensus' is no more than our best effort at understanding what's going on. Consensus should not become a Procrustean Bed. When facts don't fit the consensus as neatly as we'd like, we need to ask why. For example, if you run 20 studies all set at P < 0.05 signiifcance, at least one of those studies is likely to be false. If you run 20 studies all trending in the same direction with a P < 0.05, the probability that all the studies have yielded a valid result is 0.36. On the other hand, if 20 studies powered at P < 0.05 looking at the same variable all reject the null hypothesis, the probablity of the null hypothesis being true is virtually zero. However, we need to be wary of assuming that all studies included in such a sample are in fact evidence of the process in question. For example, this site ran a post on accelerating extinctions. Accelerating extinctions are not proof of AWG. AWG might well accelerate extinctions. However, accelerating extinctions in and of themselves tell us nothing. A common process could account for both AWG and accelerating extinctions. BTW, Arkadiusz, I read through the Polska Akademia Nauk (PAN) statement as per Toby Joyce @ 25 and it does endorse the consensus position strongly though I note the date is December 2007. Were you thinking of a more recent document? Or are you suggesting that a substantial minority of Polish scientists dissent from the 'consensus' but are held in higher regard than their equivalents in Anglo-Saxon circles?
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  45. chriscanaris (#94): "Consensus should not become a Procrustean Bed. When facts don't fit the consensus as neatly as we'd like, we need to ask why." But as Planck would have it, science (only?) progresses one funeral at a time... (the original quote is obviously much better: "Eine neue wissenschaftliche Wahrheit pflegt sich nicht in der Weise durchzusetzen, daß ihre Gegner überzeugt werden und sich als belehrt erklären, sondern vielmehr dadurch, daß ihre Gegner allmählich aussterben und daß die heranwachsende Generation von vornherein mit der Wahrheit vertraut gemacht ist.")
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  46. #81 doug_bostrom at 10:22 AM on 23 June, 2010 I would not call that article by Wu and Liu "fundamental" research. It attempts to refine application of fundamentals but it upsets no applecarts. Thermodynamics of open systems (those exchanging energy with their environment) is not settled, possibly never will. A proposed 45% increase in the alleged entropy production rate of Earth (from 893 mW m-2 K-1 to 1297 mW m-2 K-1) is not an easygoing move. More than twenty years after the science of climate is publicly declared to be settled, at least in principle, with uncountable millions pouring into computational models simulating khrrrm... what? I would be way happier with a paper discussing consensus in the climate science community not on AGW, but on a much simpler question. Is the entropy production rate of the climate system supposed to increase (I) or decrease (D) as a response to increasing atmospheric CO2 abundance? I or D? Which one? Percentage of scientists supporting either one of these noble causes? Degree of consensus? A story by Paltridge, one of the scientists on the list shows neatly how problematic fairly basic issues concerning non-equilibrium thermodynamics may get if one tries to apply them to climate (which is per definitionem a fairly steady state non-equilibrium process). Entropy 2009, 11, 945-948; doi:10.3390/e11040945 A Story and a Recommendation about the Principle of Maximum Entropy Production Garth W. Paltridge It is just a story, nothing serious. It tells more about the state of affairs in climate science than about climate itself.
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  47. LWeisenthal @ 27 & JMurphy @ 93 Alas, the peptic ulcer and Helicobacter pylori story is nowhere that simple. We do use antibiotics to treat peptic ulcer. However, acid suppressing drugs (known by the fancy name of proton pump inhibitors) remain a mainstay in the management of the disorder (often on a long term basis long after the antibiotics have been ceased). And yes, stress does give you ulcers. So does involvement in chronic interpersonal conflict. An excellent example of an area in which 'the science' is nowhere as 'settled' as is commonly perceived (which is not to debunk the contribution of the humble Helicobacter). Perhaps we should assess the prevalence of peptic ulcer disease in an AWG versus sceptical cohort. Some other research questions. Do sceptics feel besieged and stressed? Do AWG proponents feel overwhelmed by society's failure to address our ever-growing emissions? Do they delight in schadenfreude as they skewer sceptics? Do sceptics bask in ignorance blithely ignoring looming catastrophe? Do sceptics wake in fright overtaken by gnawing doubts?
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  48. chriscanaris wrote : "Shades of Galileo? I guess his ideas did last the distance but in the face of some fierce opposition." From the Catholic Church mostly but I suppose the so-called skeptics of today can be compared to them in the way they hold fast to their beliefs no matter what the evidence !
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  49. "Not quite. Robin Warren and Barry Marshall (the latter a Physician) developed their theory over 3 years until publishing in the Medical Journal of Australia in 1985, i.e. they HAD funding and they WERE published. Research into the bacteria had been going on for at least 20 years but no-one had linked all the studies or developed a coherent theory based on them. It only took a few more years for them to prove themselves against those who were sceptical. Read all about it here from the men themselves." You mean they weren't spending all their time whining about being blacklisted, rather than working hard to develop and publish their theory of the cause of ulcers?
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  50. Re. 95 omnilogos "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." -- Max Planck. Much better than the funeral paraphrasing.
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