Defending the consensus, again!

I find myself defending the consensus project again, and it’s getting both rather tedious and rather confusing. In particular, because some of those who are critical of the consensus project appear to completely accept that the scientific consensus associated with anthropogenic warming (AGW) is strong; i.e., a large majority of climate scientists agree that most of the warming since 1950 has been anthropogenic and that if we continue to increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations, we will continue to warm in line with IPCC projections.

So, what are the typical issues? I’ll try and highlight and discuss them below.

  • The consensus project did not actually address the strength of the evidence. Or, only 64 of the abstracts directly addressed the warming since 1950.

Let’s clarify something. It was a consensus study. It wasn’t an attempt to address the strength of the evidence; it was an attempt to determine the level of agreement in the literature. If I want to understand the level of agreement about Newton’s Law of Gravity, I don’t go and only look for papers that directly study gravity; I look at how many papers use gravity and what fraction of those use Newton’s Law of Gravity (almost all, apart from those that need to use GR and those that are considering modified forms of Newtonion gravity).

Similarly for AGW. You find all papers that are considering/using AGW and determine what fraction of those accept the IPCC position. For example, if a paper uses results from a global climate model (GCM) to understand the possible future impact of AGW, that paper accepts/endorses the consensus position. Why? Because – as far as I’m aware – there is no GCM that suggests that less than 50% of the warming since 1950 was anthropogenic. Therefore any paper that uses results from a GCM either implicitly or explicitly endorses the IPCC position.

So, if you’re going to criticise the paper itself, at least try and understand what it was doing.

  • The study was unethical because one of the goals was to influence policy makers and the public.

Let’s think about this for a moment. A group of scientists/social scientists recognises that both the public and policy makers’s understanding of the consensus with respect to AGW is likely very different to the actual level of agreement. They decide to do a study to quantify the level of agreement (the consensus) and the goal of this study is to address this gap between the actual consensus and the public/policy makers’s perception of the consensus. I see no problem with this at all. We all do research for some reason. We don’t just do random things. We identify something that is not well understood and we study it. We do so in the hope that we will gain more understanding of whatever we’re studying and in the hope that this research will have a broader impact. Arguing that something is unethical because they’d already decided what impact they were hoping to have seems patently absurd. Feel free to convince me otherwise, but I’m really struggling to see the logic in this argument.

Having said that, if someone could show that those involved in the consensus project fraudulently generated their results so as to present something that wasn’t a reasonable representation of the actual position, then that would be unethical. However, you can actually go to the consensus project website and you can download a file that contains the ratings for all the abstracts. You can also go to an interactive rating system and rate abstracts yourself. If you find a huge discrepancy between your rating and the consensus project rating, then maybe you’d be able to start questioning their honesty. Without that, though, you’re simply making claims based on nothing other than hearsay, in my opinion at least.

  • The messaging associated with the consensus project is ultimately ineffective and possibly damaging

I’ll accept that this may be a valid argument. It may well be that the messaging hasn’t been effective and that ultimately it’s done more harm than good. Although – having said that – I do think that there is some evidence to suggest that it has been effective, but I don’t actually know if it has or hasn’t. In my view, however, there are two issues with this argument. One is that – in my opinion at least – the impact that a paper/study has does not necessarily reflect on the paper itself. Even if this has done more harm than good, it doesn’t mean that the consensus study was flawed or that the results are wrong. It simply means that the publicity associated with the study did more harm than good (and, to be clear, I don’t know if it did). You could argue that they shouldn’t have done the study, but then you’re starting to cross into academic freedom territory and that just seems too ironic to consider further.

The other issue with the argument that the consensus project has done more harm than good, is that those making this argument appear not to dispute the existence of a strong consensus. So, what they seem to be saying is that they don’t dispute the consensus, but that pointing out this self-evident truth has done some kind of damage. This may be true, but that would seem to reflect more on those who responded poorly to this self-evident truth than on those who pointed it out. Additionally, what impact have those who keep claiming that it’s damaging had on this situation? What would have happened if they’d all simply said “yes, we agree that the consensus is strong. Let’s accept this and move on.” I find it hard to believe that their own position hasn’t also done more harm than good. It’s difficult for me to see how it’s acceptable to suggest that pointing out something that is true is the wrong thing to do.

So, I find this whole situation immensely irritating and very confusing. If everyone agrees that the consensus is strong, why have we not all simply spent a bit of time pointing this out so that we can all move on to much more important matters. Arguing that consensus messaging itself is preventing this, just seems both counter-productive and ironic because one of the reasons for consensus studies is because people seem to attack them whenever they take place. If people – who agree with the consensus – stopped doing this, maybe consensus studies would no longer be needed. Anyway, FWIW, that’s my view. However, maybe I’m wrong, so if you think that I am, feel free to point it out. And, if you can’t point it out because I’ve banned you, maybe you should have tried harder to stick to the moderation and comment policies in the first place.

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572 Responses to Defending the consensus, again!

  1. verytallguy says:

    The messaging associated with the consensus project is ultimately ineffective and possibly damaging

    No.

    No.

    And thrice no.

    The reason it’s objected to so vehemently is precisely because it *is* effective.

    The same reason that the hockeystick, the surface temperature record, GCM outputs etc etc are objected to. Because they provide answers people don’t want to hear.

  2. vtg,
    That was certainly my view. Just surprised that many who accept the strength of the consensus object to the messaging.

  3. verytallguy says:

    surprised that many who accept the strength of the consensus object to the messaging

    Citations?

  4. There’s today’s Guardian article. Andy Revkin’s recent post. I think there are a number of prominent British climate scientists (who’s names I won’t mention) who hold this view.

  5. OPatrick says:

    Just surprised that many who accept the strength of the consensus object to the messaging.

    Suppose your goal, for whatever reason, was to prevent, or delay, significant action being taken to address the threats from anthropogenic climate change – what tactics would you choose to use? I don’t know how many, if any, that is. But the problem is nor do I know how many it isn’t.

  6. OPatrick says:

    There’s today’s Guardian article.

    This one?

  7. OPatrick says:

    I’m not sure I see Adam Corner’s piece as objecting to the messaging as such, rather saying that on its own it’s not going to achieve much – but then I’m not sure anyone is arguing that it is. He says, in a comment to Dana, (in the wrong hands) the consensus is as ineffective as any other fact. But ineffective is not the same as counterproductive. Is there anyone sensibly arguing that it is counterproductive?

  8. OPatrick,
    Yes, I agree it doesn’t object strongly, although he did suggest that it was diversionary, which implies some negative aspects to consensus messaging.

  9. verytallguy says:

    I think there are a number of prominent British climate scientists (who’s names I won’t mention) who hold this view.

    I think you should.

    Pretty please.

  10. VTG,
    Given that I’m not sure of this, I probably shouldn’t 🙂

  11. Has anybody noticed that Andy Revkin is more interested in promoting his bluegrass skills than in science? I realize he did go through a health scare and that changes one’s life perspectives but the part about “intellectual silos” is projecting a bit too much.

  12. BBD says:

    Oh not this again.

  13. BBD,
    You really should join Twitter. It’s fabulous. I’ve learned so much. Of course, much of what I’ve learned I’d really rather I hadn’t, but if it doesn’t kill you, I guess it makes you stronger.

  14. VTG, you can check twitter discussions to get some answers to your question. Which makes it a bit odd that he won’t name them, since it’s all in the public domain.

  15. verytallguy says:

    They can always visit here and put you right

    Name and shame.

    It won’t kill them, it will make them stronger 🙂

  16. verytallguy says:

    Paul,

    Twitter? I spend too much time already on this, without adding another addiction

  17. BBD says:

    VTG
    +1
    Time and inclination issues

  18. AnOilMan says:

    Who ever wrote that guardian article seems a bit clueless as to the long and sordid history here. Between Denial of a Global Warming problem and the relatively early attacks on Global Warming consensus. The Denial community has been very active in altering public perception of the problem and the concern.

    I guess you could say they shot first. I’m also cognizant of the fact that the science was initially picked up by the nut job eco freaks, and this has conflated the two groups. Something frequently brought in dealing with the denial community.

    Here’s Frank Luntz who instructed the Republican Party and Oil Industry to shift words (call it Climate Change, not Global Warming), make it out that there is a debate and the science isn’t certain, because its hard for people to understand. (i.e. in Canada, global warming = increased snow pack. As Shaggy would say, “Zoiks! Like huh?”)

    In the last 5 minutes of the full documentary, Frank Luntz apologizes for this mistake and the damage its causing. He also understands the reality of global warming.

    Funding for the Denial Machine has skyrocketed with the creation of Donor’s Trust and its untraceable donors.
    http://www.desmogblog.com/2013/12/23/detailed-study-exposes-dark-money-flows-climate-science-denial

    Lastly, I believe the article is hitting on the core of this. Everyone now says (what the key scientists said 20 years ago) that global warming is real. It has been argued ad infinitum over the internet for the last 15 years.

    There is no where left for the denial community to go, except get shriller, shoot messengers, and inflate any concerns. Essentially the denial community has been reduced to Nit Gallops and Grammar Police. They have nothing else to offer.

    In 4 years of hunting I haven’t been offered any evidence that Global Warming isn’t a real concern. These days they steadfastly refuse to offer links often claiming they don’t need evidence. (And they think I’m the cultist…)

  19. jsam says:

    I’m with VTG. Most of the people kicking against the 97% are doing so because it works. A very few dislike it for other reasons. On the whole it is better to have it than not.

    Besides, turn it around somewhat. If the results were, say, 55-45, the 45ers would certainly want to be heard.

  20. “Who ever wrote that guardian article seems a bit clueless”
    That would be Dr Adam Corner, University of Cardiff, author of many published papers on public opinion on climate change, and himself something of a climate activist.

  21. AnOilMan says:

    Paul.. it just seemed like so much chaff out there. The reason the Denial Community attacks it, is to make it appear as though the science isn’t settled. In the court of public opinion, controversy is all that’s required.

  22. Read the post. It is not about “the denial community”. It is about people who are concerned that climate change is a serious problem, but don’t think that going on about 97% is very sensible.

    As well as Adam Corner this includes Dan Kahan, see the latest series of posts at his cultural cognition blog. And several climate scientists who ATTP for some reason is reluctant to name.

  23. AnOilMan says:

    Paul… You know, you can call in sick for work, but you can’t call in stupid. “Sorry, I should be here today. I’m too stupid, I’ll probably screw up. Its best if I don’t touch anything.” This is such a day for me.

  24. Steve Bloom says:

    Corner has indeed seemed to me to be a bit clueless, and that article (and the report it promotes) only enhances that view. Quoting Hulme seals the deal.

    But while these studies clearly show the value of communicating consensus in an experimental setting, the findings are difficult to square with recent history. Scientists, campaigners, and politicians have relentlessly reiterated the fact that scientists agree that humans are changing the climate for the worse. In response, ‘merchants of doubt’ have tried to muddy the waters by exaggerating scientific uncertainty.

    I don’t find them hard to square at all. Of course the usual suspects have pushed back; that’s what they do. But notice how the hockey stick, “Climategate” and thermometers have faded away as topics. Now the focus seems to be on the “hiatus” (a shaky proposition, the days of which are numbered) and the consensus. I call that progress. Importantly, argument about the consensus operates to shift the Overton window in the correct direction.

    Re the climate communication problem generally, it’s easy to take the media as a given and instead blame ourselves. But it’s entirely clear that our task is far more difficult than it should be because much of the media remains run by people who can’t get enough of fake controversies and boffin-bashing, and for that matter, because they lack science backgrounds, don’t understand the severity of the climate problem or how science in general is different from politics and sports. Over time that has been improving, and will continue to improve, but it’s a slow process (people have to retire and be replaced).

  25. Steve Bloom says:

    Please to fix the tags on that last so the quoted passage is clear. TIA.

  26. Steve Bloom says:

    Thanks for the pointer to Kahan’s recent stuff, PM.

    But I notice he was able to write this in one of his recent posts:

    No one should have to choose between knowing what’s known to science and being who they are; certainly kids can’t be expected to learn effectively when put in that position.

    It’s rather telling that he thinks so.

    With climate change, we should not forget that denial crystallized over a rather brief period of time, which makes it not so much the immovable object that some seem to imagine.

  27. JasonB says:

    I can’t help but feel that the Guardian article is missing the point.

    The “deeply polarised” world of climate change really comes down to the beliefs and actions of the small percentage of the population that the Yale surveys categorise as Dismissives and, to a lesser extent, Doubtful.

    It is true that the consensus figure does nothing to change their views. Indeed, if the figure were actually 100% they would merely see that as proof of a conspiracy and/or group-think. They probably know just as well as we do what the level of consensus is because they would have been trawling through the scientific literature for years looking for support, and they would know every single one of the “skeptical” papers that have actually managed to sneak into the literature.

    The real target that both sides are battling over is the large majority of the population for whom there are no idealogical barriers to accepting the science. The same people for whom climate scientists are the most trustworthy source of information on the subject of climate science. Right now the vast majority of those people do not realise just how overwhelming the consensus is, with only 12% thinking that more than 90% of scientists have concluded that AGW is happening, and the Merchants of Doubt are determined to keep it that way, because, as the infamous Luntz memo for the Bush administration said:

    Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate

    (Emphasis in original.)

    They are simply following the game plan laid down by Luntz all those years ago, and for good reason.

    It really doesn’t matter if correcting the misapprehension among the majority of the population about the level of agreement in the scientific community annoys certain people or even makes them more “polarised”. Appeasing them by not mentioning it again merely helps them to achieve their aim, which is a misinformed public. Of course they’re annoyed every time we bring it up.

  28. OPatrick says:

    Paul Matthews, I’m to be convinced that Adam Corner is significantly critical of the ‘97%’ consensus – has he said more elsewhere? The worst he’s said about the ‘97%’ in the linked article is that it is ultimately a distraction

    In fact, this idea gets to the heart of why debating the precise proportion of scientists who endorse the mainstream position on climate change is ultimately a distraction. The more pressing challenge is creating a massively expanded social reality for climate change – one in which the things that people love and wish to protect are clearly linked in their minds to policies for confronting climate change.

    He adds, in a comment:

    Thanks Dana – definitely not saying ‘give up’ on communicating the consensus any more than saying ‘give up’ on the facts of climate science.

  29. OPatrick,
    Yes, I didn’t see his article as arguing against the existence of a consensus, just the consensus messaging may be a distraction. It may well be, but – AFAICT – if there wasn’t consensus messaging, something else would be used as a distraction.

  30. BBD says:

    One almost has to admire the denialati. First they deny that there is a consensus. Then when a strong consensus is demonstrated, they attack the study. Finally, exasperated commenters and scientists say FTS! This isn’t helping! And the denialati win another round. Indeed, they can even join in on the consensus side in bemoaning the furore over consensus messaging.

  31. BBD says:

    They led this dance, every step of the way.

  32. BBD,
    Indeed and I’d have more time for those who said it isn’t helping, if they spent as much time criticising those who spout scientific nonsense as they spend criticising those who are pointing out something that they agree is self-evidently true.

  33. JasonB says:

    Anders: Indeed. I find it very odd.

  34. BBD says:

    Jason B; ATTP

    It goes beyond odd. It’s bloody annoying. More introspection and less blithering would be a great improvement.

  35. John Hartz says:

    If you have not already done so, you will wnat to read the Chill wind of climate denial by Elaine McKewon, Sydney Morning Herald, June 17, 2014.

  36. John Hartz says:

    This OP and comment thread bear witness to how easily “our side” can tie itself into knots without really trying. To put this discussion into perspective, we must remembert that the “there’s no agreement among scientists” messaging by the Climate Denial Spin Machine has been going on for decades. As we all are painfully aware, the folk in Deniersvilee keep banging on this drum incessentaly despite what scientific bodies like the IPCC and national science associations have proclaimed in recent years. This is why a small group of Sleptical Science volunteers expended a cosnisderable amunt of blood, sweat, and tears on producing the analysis summarized in Cook et al (2013). For anyone in the scientific community to assert that Cook et a l (203)is “distracting” lacks a basic understanding of the propaganda war being waged over the issue of the climate change.

  37. Eli Rabett says:

    See War on Gore and usual suspects.

  38. Jason B, yes it’s about the general public. But read the Kahan posts. One of the points he makes is that the huge amount of publicity around Gore’s AIT in 2007 seems to have had no effect on public opinion.

  39. Paul,

    yes it’s about the general public.

    What does the general public have to do with the existence – or not – of a scientific consensus? Surely that is, and should be, independent of what the general public think or want to think?

  40. Rachel M says:

    My view is the consensus project has had a huge impact on the proportion of the population in the unmoved group, which is – according to Jonathan Rowson – 63.9% of the population. These are the people in my acquaintance and I’ve noticed a shift in their opinions since the consensus project hit the headlines. I think it largely served its purpose in educating the public and policy-makers on the strength of the scientific consensus of climate change. But change is not going to happen overnight. It’s small steps like these which add up over time to eventually bring about change. Hopefully.

    The study was unethical because one of the goals was to influence policy makers and the public.

    Personally I think this is nonsense. Why is it unethical to want to influence policy-makers and the public? When I write letters to minister of transport to get them to build more bike paths I’m trying to influence them. What’s wrong with that?

  41. > The study was unethical because one of the goals was to influence policy makers and the public.

    The general claim that a study is unethical because it has policy klout falters on empirical grounds. See for instance:

    The cholesterol factor is of minor importance as a risk factor in CVD. Of far more importance are smoking, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, insufficient physical activity, and stress.

    http://chriskresser.com/cholesterol-doesnt-cause-heart-disease

    (Source: http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/is-climate-science-falsifiable/#comment-25312)

    This position rests on studies which will certainly have an effect on policy makers and the public. To claim that such study would be unethical because would be absurd.

    Therefore, the general claim is false.

  42. > Gore’s AIT in 2007 seems to have had no effect on public opinion.

    That surely must mean something.

    For instance, that must mean efforts such as Gore has a polarizing effect.

    A polarizing effect on what?

    Oh, wait.

  43. andrew adams says:

    Anders,

    What does the general public have to do with the existence – or not – of a scientific consensus? Surely that is, and should be, independent of what the general public think or want to think?

    But it’s the general public who are the target audience for the consensus project, and for most of those who attack it. This is all about trying to they the public onside with what you are trying to achieve, whether it’s to get action on climate change or to prevent it.

  44. andrew adams says:

    I must admit I’d never seen the “unethical” argument until Doug McNeall made it yesterday. I’ve never even seen the skeptics make that argument, although admittedly I haven’t followed the whole saga that closely so I may well have missed it if they have.

    I have to say as much as I like and admire Doug I find it a bizarre argument. Why is it inherently wrong to produce research whose intention is to educate the wider public on a particular aspect of the subject in question? Doug calls it “manipulating” public opinion, but you could equally say that about any attempt to inform the public on any issue where public opinion could sway policy one way or another.

  45. Steve Bloom says:

    Perhaps in part because of the somewhat fraught position the Met Office is in, some of the people there have strange ideas. They see to like to imagine a world in which if everyone behaved just so, they wouldn’t constantly be under fire for this or that. Sorry, Met Office denizens.

  46. Steve Bloom says:

    Bad example, Rachel. Everyone, well, that is to say everyone who really matters, knows that bicyclists are filthy commies plotting for the overthrow of everything that is right and good.

  47. Rachel,

    When I write letters to minister of transport to get them to build more bike paths I’m trying to influence them. What’s wrong with that?

    Nothing, as long as you have no professional experience planning bike paths. Otherwise, you’d be a polarizing advocate responsible for the deadlock and lack of bike paths.

    If you have professional experience planning bike paths, it’s an unforgivable offense to share that expertise with the relevant officials. Your only ethical choice would be to sit back and let uninformed crackpots spread misinformation about how bike paths kill birds, the economy, and millions of poor people.

  48. Joshua says:

    VTG –

    ==> “The reason it’s objected to so vehemently is precisely because it *is* effective.”

    Could be.

    Or it could also be that “skeptics” think that challenging the “consensus” is an effective tactic’; in fact, they like the promotion of the “consensus” message – because it helps to rally the troops and solidify group identity among “skeptics.”

    I don’t think it’s really all one or the other, but I am often skeptical of theories that climate war combatants do what they do because they fear that the strategies of the other side are effective. “Skeptics,” frequently, claim that “realists” do what they do because they’re afraid of the effectiveness of “skeptics'” tactics. Just downstairs Michael 2 employed that logic. Seemed weak to me. I don’t think it works in the other direction either.

  49. Joshua says:

    JasonB –

    You and I have had an interesting discussion (IMO, anyway) on this issue before. You make a good argument, although I’m not yet convinced.

    I don’t buy the argument that we know that the messaging has no positive effect of increasing awareness of the risk of climate change – because we don’t know what public opinion would be had that messaging not taken place. But for the same reason, i don’t by certain arguments that consensus” messaging is effective. I think that there is no conclusive evidence about the impact of “consensus” messaging – so I don’t get why people are so confident in their views one way or the other.

    But anyway, let me ask you a question. Assuming your argument adds up:

    ==> “Right now the vast majority of those people do not realise just how overwhelming the consensus is, with only 12% thinking that more than 90% of scientists have concluded that AGW is happening….

    So then, given that the situation is what it is (large %’s don’t think that AGW is a high priority, large %’s underestimate the “consensus”) despite consistent messaging about a “consensus,” Do you think something needs to change to make the messaging more effective?

  50. Rachel M says:

    Steve Bloom, Dumb Sci, HAHA 🙂

  51. I think I’ve read somewhere an article whose title was Who cares about climate change communication articles?

    I’m not sure where.

  52. Steve Bloom says:

    Entirely lame. Jim Bouldin should be ashamed of himself.

    Come to think of it, what role did Jim play in the struggles of the last couple decades between scientists and the creationists/”intelligent design” types. As far as I ever heard… little or nothing.

    Oh, but that was probably just because he’s not named Steve.

  53. How fascinating that critics of Cook et al. keep ignoring the authors’ own ratings of their own entire papers, not just the abstracts. What percentage of papers taking a position on evolution do they think endorse the mainstream view?

  54. John Mashey says:

    “The study was unethical because one of the goals was to influence policy makers and the public. ”

    Well, then I guess the 1964 US Surgeon General report was really unethical, had no business informing the public that medical research had pretty strong evidence that cigarette smoking might be bad for people.

    Given that the tactics of doubt creation about climate (starting in the 1990s) were inherited from the tobacco companies (starting in 1950s, more or less), deja vu.

  55. > Entirely lame. Jim Bouldin should be ashamed of himself.

    Why? It seems to be quite mild to me:

    Just to be clear, I am not questioning that there is a strong consensus among climate scientists w.r.t. the effect of humans on the climate–both definitely exist (a consensus and a strong effect, and moreover, the consensus derives largely from the evidence, IMO). Nor do I have anything against the authors. Those are not the issues here. What is very much at issue for me, is the methodology they used, and the fact that it got published in ERL and had such popularity without much critical commentary from scientists.

    http://ecologicallyoriented.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/our-new-consensus-study/comment-page-1/#comment-5535

    I asked Jim to show scientists the way, by the way. If he writes a critical commentary, so much the better, no? What matters is always the next paper, and this could improve it.

  56. Steve Bloom says:

    As with Tamsin Edwards, the (political, ironically) objection seems to be to scientists becoming at all political.

  57. David Young says:

    Willard, you read my mind. I was going to post Jim’s quote. This trend could be dangerous.

  58. Anyone on the front lines of the creationist struggle would notice the parallels between creationists and climate contrarians.

    In my experience, creationists are more polite than climate contrarians, and seem more genuinely curious about science. For instance, creationists never cussed at me or accused me of being a Nazi communist eugenicist anti-American genocidal mass murderer trying to bring about a new dark age.

  59. Steve Bloom says:

    Willard has become quite skilled at anticipating Climateball moves, DY.

  60. JasonB says:

    Joshua:

    I think that there is no conclusive evidence about the impact of “consensus” messaging – so I don’t get why people are so confident in their views one way or the other.

    Part of my “confidence” springs from the other side’s own research telling them the same thing (namely, the Luntz memo, which I believe was the result of focus group testing). The very fact that 88% of Americans radically underestimate the level of scientific agreement on AGW is strong evidence, to me, that the other side’s campaign (coupled with the media’s false balance problem) has worked.

    Also, the first two sentences of Cook et al are:

    An accurate perception of the degree of scientific consensus is an essential element to public support for climate policy (Ding et al 2011). Communicating the scientific consensus also increases people’s acceptance that climate change (CC) is happening (Lewandowsky et al 2012).

    I don’t see any evidence to the contrary.

    In addition to that, I think those of us who are informed have a duty to educate those who are not. This obviously applies especially to scientists on the public payroll, but I see it as merely being a good citizen, in exactly the same way I warn people about a phone scam I become aware of (the last one, posing as someone working for Microsoft, tried to get me to log in to my PC and type what he asked into it; I strung him along for a bit to reduce the time he had available to attack some other poor sod who might actually think that Microsoft was personally calling 200 million people world-wide to help them check for viruses…).

    IOW, if people have a misconception about something, or are ignorant of something, then I try to educate them, often explaining in great detail (much to my wife’s chagrin) so they are then in a position to educate others.

    Because of that, I would still support proclaiming the consensus far and wide even if it made no difference other than correcting the misconception about the level of scientific agreement. If people then chose to ignore the consequences, well, at least they’re making an informed choice.

    But, having said that, all the research and polling I’ve seen suggest that it would make a difference anyway, including the Luntz memo. (Actually, I think the willingness of people to act on climate change is greatly underestimated, especially when those actions have co-benefits. My father installed a 5 kW PV system on his new house because he liked getting a cheque back from the power company so much due to the 5 kW PV system he had on his old house; this is despite the FIT being slashed in between the two installations and subsidies being almost non-existent the second time around. He just loves the idea that the electricity is “free”, and now he has a reverse cycle A/C that he runs 24/7 and still manages to get a small cheque back every month. I very much look forward to the day when I have an electric car powered by PV as well. Maybe a Tesla. 🙂 Based on PV performance in my area and how far I drive every day, even a 2.3 kW system would be enough to keep it charged during winter.)

    So then, given that the situation is what it is (large %’s don’t think that AGW is a high priority, large %’s underestimate the “consensus”) despite consistent messaging about a “consensus,” Do you think something needs to change to make the messaging more effective?

    Well, firstly, I think Cook et al is really the first of several studies on the level of consensus over the years to have broken through in any way to a more general audience, so I don’t really accept the “consistent messaging” portrayal; indeed, I would not be surprised if, for a large percentage of the general population, stories about that paper were the first time they had any idea that the scientific community was not more-or-less evenly divided on the issue.

    Even then, quite a few would have failed to notice it until now. I wouldn’t expect everyone’s misconceptions to be corrected overnight.

    More importantly, I have seen signs that the media have taken it on board, which is a very good start. I also liked the John Oliver piece, which I’m sure wouldn’t have happened without Cook et al.

    My instincts tell me, however, that something that might make the “messaging” more effective (I don’t really equate “educating the public about basic facts” with “messaging” so I’ve quoted the term) would be if scientists who actually agree with it would spend less time wringing their hands in public about how “unhelpful” it is.

    It appears to me that what they’re concerned about is upsetting those in denial and making them even more rabid than they already are. “Getting along” seems more important, even if that means appeasement.

    My view is: “F*ck ’em”. They won’t be convinced by beating them over the head with the facts, sure, but they also won’t be convinced by mollifying them and toning down the message.[*] The key point is they won’t be convinced. They have dialled themselves out of the conversation because they don’t like the conclusions, not because of the way those conclusions have been presented. In the meantime, the efforts to appease them really do make scientists seem divided, which is exactly what they want.

    Thankfully, those in denial really are a small minority, and we don’t need to convince them — we just need to convince the majority of the population who aren’t impervious to reason. Indeed, they can actually be a great resource, because there are so many cranks in their ranks that they can serve as an example of the kinds of people who reject science. Let them wear the consequence of their own unwillingness to correct each other’s mistakes.

    * Indeed, every time a scientist tries to engage with them and, in some cases, takes a pot shot at some of the key targets like Mann, or Jones, or the consensus, or the IPCC, apparently in an attempt to fit in, they see it as a victory and confirmation that they were right all along, cementing their positions. When one of these “good scientists” then tries to correct a few of their more basic misconceptions they quickly turn, as we saw on BH a few months back. The good will lasts only as long as the scientist says what they want to hear. Hmm… wasn’t someone saying something about cult-like behaviour, recently?

  61. JasonB says:

    Jim Bouldin’s post is quite revealing. When someone decides to caricature something by exaggerating the aspects they dislike, they provide a key insight into the misconceptions they had. As such, it can be valuable, because he may not be the only one to have misread it so badly.


  62. In my experience, creationists are more polite than climate contrarians, and seem more genuinely curious about science. For instance, creationists never cussed at me or accused me of being a Nazi communist eugenicist anti-American genocidal mass murderer trying to bring about a new dark age.

    except for the bouncer big dave springer. remember the kid that packs rocks in snowballs? that’s him.

  63. David Young says:

    “I’m not going to “go private”, i.e. anonymous, just so I can say what’s really on my mind–I decided that a long time ago. I don’t want to live that way and can’t imagine why anyone would. It seems to backfire with about everyone who tries it, as far as I can tell. I just call ‘em as I see ‘em and let the chips fall as they may, or as Bob Dylan once said “I try my hardest to be just like I am”.” Jim Bouldin

  64. OPatrick says:

    That link to Jim Bouldin gives one answer to the question about serious people who are questioning the use of the 97%, but I agree with Steve Bloom – Jim Bouldin should be ashamed of what he wrote. And I also agree with JasonB that Jim Bouldin’s caricature is more revealing about his own misconceptions and biases than anything about the study.

    One thing I find particularly insulting is the start of his second paragraph, where he says

    One way to address this question would be to actually present the various arguments and evidence that have been offered on the matter.

    Given that this is directed at the people who are responsible for setting up Skeptical Science, the implication that they are doing this study in place of presenting the various arguments and evidence is, to be frank, contemptible.

  65. Marco says:

    JasonB:

    “The consensus view among us is that these reviewers are completely independent and objective; their common participation at our web site devoted to presenting pro-selection arguments, but nothing to the contrary, is just not relevant in this case”.

    Everyone who has actually read the paper knows the potential bias is explicitly acknowledged and addressed. So, does Jim just have a misconception, or did he willfully misrepresent the paper on this element?

  66. Philip Hardy says:

    The consensus project showed that there was strong agreement In all relevant scientific papers for AGW. However, the media often says there is strong agreement among scientists for AGW which is not the same thing and may not be true. I suspect the percentage of all scientists believing in AGW is low and about the same as that of the general public who believe in AGW. Most scientific societies and institutions issue politically correct statements agreeing with the consensus project but I suspect a survey of their members would reveal a different picture.

  67. JasonB says:

    OPatrick: Indeed.

    I also think that recasting something in a different context (so, for example, accurately creating an analogue to Cook et al in the Evolution context, or smoking-lung cancer context) can be a useful sanity check. But if you recast it in a different context and, at the same time, exaggerate and misrepresent the original, how do you know if what appears ridiculous in the analogous piece is due to the change in context or due to the misrepresentations?

    Here’s an initial stab:

    Studies have found that the majority of Americans believe there is still a great deal of disagreement among biologists about whether evolution can explain the diversity of species on this planet. As a consequence, Creationists have had some success in recent years in convincing school boards to teach Intelligent Design alongside evolution in science class rooms, making sure students are informed of both sides of the debate. However, studies of scientists and the scientific literature have shown repeatedly that there is no debate about the origin of species within the scientific community. In the most comprehensive analysis performed to date, Talk.Origins members have examined a large sample of the scientific literature on biology, published over a 21 year period, in order to determine the level of scientific consensus that evolution is very likely responsible for most of the speciation that has occurred throughout earth’s history.

    Methodology:

    In March 2012, we searched the ISI Web of Science for papers published from 1991-2011 using topic searched for ‘species’. We classified each abstract according to the type of research (category) and degree of endorsement, using written criteria provided to raters:

    (1) Explicit endorsement with quantification: Explicitly states that evolution is responsible for more than half of speciation events throughout earth’s history.

    (2) Explicit endorsement without quantificaton: Explicitly states that evolution is responsible for speciation or refers to evolution as a known fact.

    (3) Implicit endorsement: implies evolution is responsible for speciation. E.g. research assumes evolution causes speciation without explicitly stating it is the cause.

    (4a) No position: Does not address or mention the cause of speciation.

    (4b) Uncertain: Expresses position that evolution’s role in speciation is uncertain/undefined.

    (5) Implicit rejection: Implies evolution has had a minimal impact without saying so explicitly, e.g. proposing spontaneous creation by a deity as the main cause of speciation.

    (6) Explicit rejection without quantification: Explicitly minimises or rejects that evolution is the cause of speciation.

    (7) Explicit rejection with quantiication: Explicitly states that evolution is responsible for less than half of all speciation events.

    Abstracts were randomly distributed via a web-based system to raters with only the title and abstract visible. All other information was hidden. Each abstract was categorised by two independent, anonymised raters. Initially, 33% of endorsement ratings disagreed. Raters were then allowed to compare and justify or update their ratings through the web system, while maintaining anonymity. Following this, 16% of endorsement ratings disagreed; these were then resolved by a third party.

    We also made the web-based rating system available online for others to replicate our results. We made all of the ratings available for download (both the final ratings used to calculate the figures present in the paper and the first and second ratings), along with the survey protocol and the (anonymised) ratings of the authors of the papers.

    Results:

    Among abstracts that expressed a position on the cause of speciation, 97.1% endorsed the scientific consensus.

    We also emailed 8547 authors an invitation to rate their own papers and received 1200 responses. 2142 papers received self-ratings from 1189 authors. Among self-rated papers that stated a position on the cause of speciation, 97.2% endorsed the concensus.

  68. Philip,
    But there is more than one study. It’s not all Cook et al. There are others that have looked at papers. There have even been survey’s of scientists. In my discussions with some climate scientists who don’t like consensus messaging, one comment made was “the result is self-evidently true. Just ask a climate scientist”. So, there have been various different methods used to determine a consensus, all (or most) get something near 97%.

    Most scientific societies and institutions issue politically correct statements agreeing with the consensus project but I suspect a survey of their members would reveal a different picture.

    So, what? We’re talking here about the consensus amongst experts, not the views of members of scientific societies. However, I would still be surprised that if such a survey didn’t return a majority who accepted the consensus.

  69. JasonB says:

    Marco:

    So, does Jim just have a misconception, or did he willfully misrepresent the paper on this element?

    I found many similar examples reading through his post but as to the cause, I don’t know. What are we to make of “but the authors of this thing and their supporters have been so outrageously over the top on it that I had to start saying something”? Exactly how can one be “over the top” in reporting the results of an easily-replicable survey of the scientific literature? How “outrageous” is it compared to the outright misrepresentations of the science by those now lining up to pat him on the back?

    One of the more intriguing comments would have to be this:

    Just to be clear, I am not questioning that there is a strong consensus among climate scientists w.r.t. the effect of humans on the climate–both definitely exist (a consensus and a strong effect, and moreover, the consensus derives largely from the evidence, IMO).

    (Emphasis mine.)

    How does he know that?

    I sure hope it wasn’t by surveying the scientific literature himself (since, if a team of people associated with SkS are biased then an individual scientist must be) nor by asking scientists what they think (since that’s what Cook et al did). I’d love to know what his methodology for ascertaining the consensus was and how he can be so confident that it “definitely” exists.

  70. JasonB says:

    Philip:

    However, the media often says there is strong agreement among scientists for AGW which is not the same thing and may not be true.

    Then you should contact those media organisations and tell them that the strong agreement is among those most qualified to have a position on the subject and doesn’t necessarily translate to “all scientists”.

    I suspect the percentage of all scientists believing in AGW is low and about the same as that of the general public who believe in AGW.

    Nitpick: “Believing in” should be “accepting”.

    Actually, it’s higher than that of the general public, and gets higher the more relevant their expertise:

    (Doran 2009)

  71. Marco says:

    JasonB:
    Maybe we should consider a second option, in which Jim Bouldin has written a caricature of a criticism of the Cook et al. paper, to show how silly the criticism actually is. It would explain a lot…

  72. Marco says:

    Philip, I am curious to know on what you base your opinion about the beliefs of “most scientists” about AGW.

    I am also curious to know on what you base your claim that scientific organizations issue “politically correct” statements and therefore agree with the consensus. In particular, in what sense are they supposed to be “politically correct”? I wonder in particular about the strong statements from American scientific organizations, that during the haydays of Republican negation of AGW (let alone the risks) have continued to issue dire warnings. Thus, such strong statements are surely not “politically correct”.

    There is a multitude of other examples of countries where the scientific assessment of the evidence of climate change makes the scientific organizations issue statements that are not necessarily “politically desirable” by the political establishment in those countries. For example, Australian scientists issued strong statements well before any government was in favor of action. Russia has not been a big supporter of climate action, but most of its scientific organizations are quite clear. In Canada there is deliberate silencing of individual scientists on climate change, but still the scientific organizations are clear in their message, despite it being “politically incorrect”.

  73. verytallguy says:

    Well, I found Jim’s article quite interesting actually. He comes across to me as extremely dedicated and committed and with an incredibly strong moral purpose in all his writing.

    He’s seems arguing that rather than survey the literature to demonstrate a consensus, we should investigate the evidence. Thing is, of course, this has already been accomplished:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/

    I can’t help but wonder that there is more than a little academic jealousy in the adverse responses of academics to the paper, particularly given that they all (even Tol!) agree with the conclusions. How many prizes have they won recently?

    http://skepticalscience.com/SkS-consensus-paper-ERL-best-article-2013.html

  74. Eli Rabett says:

    Philip Hardy is the type who would consult a Doctor of Fine Arts about a broken ankle.

  75. ATTP,

    My impression has been from the beginning that the main argument against the consensus project is none of those you mention. The main argument is:

    1) There’s no doubt that almost all climate scientists agree on AGW at the level required for being part of the 97%.

    2) That’s nearly irrelevant, because many more than 3% of them do not agree that AGW is so strong that’s it needs to be addressed urgently. Only few of the papers present views on this issue even when they indicate acceptance at the level of point (1).

    The relevant percentage that we should know is that referred in (2), not the 97%. It has been repeated time after time that Lindzen, Christy, Spencer, and many others have expressed clearly that they belong to the 97%, but do not accept the urgency.

  76. Pekka,
    That may well be an argument, but it’s as bad as any of the others. If you read the paper, it is simply to address the point that almost all climate scientists/papers/abstracts agree on AGW and that it has dominated the warming since 1950 and will continue to produce warming if we continue to increase our emissions. The paper does not address whether or not we should specifically do something about this, or what we should do. So, criticising the paper because some scientists who claim to be in the 97% don’t think there’s any urgency is a strawman. Of course, Lindzen and Spencer claiming that they’re in the 97% is rather laughable. Lindzen thinks that equilibrium climate sensitivity is 1 K, which I would think is almost certainly wrong and is not consistent with the IPCC position. Spencer’s signed the Cornwall Alliance’s Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, so I rather fail to see why his views on global warming should be regarded as credible (to be clear, I have no issue with someone believing that the world was created 6000 years ago and that God would not allow the Earth to change in a way that would be damaging to humans. I just fail to see how this view is consistent with the best evidence available).

    If everyone agrees that most climate scientists agree about AGW, why is there such a fuss about this paper? It’s pointing out something that most seem to agree is self-evidently true.

  77. Is Dr. Spencer part of the 97%? As recently as 2012 he’s tried to claim that “most of the warming we’ve seen could well be natural”.

    Also, burning fossil fuels (and deforestation) are responsible for about 200% of the atmospheric CO2 increase. In 2008, Dr. Roy Spencer wrote Oceans are Driving CO2 which claims that “The long-term increases in carbon dioxide concentration that have been observed at Mauna Loa since 1958 could be driven more than by the ocean than by mankind’s burning of fossil fuels.” In 2009, he wrote Global Warming Causing Carbon Dioxide Increases: A Simple Model

    Dr. Spencer seems to have claimed that the ~200% anthropogenic contribution to atmospheric CO2 increase could actually be less than 50%. How is that significantly different from item #7 on his list of “skeptic” arguments that don’t hold water?

    Those blog posts still haven’t been retracted. Has Dr. Spencer retracted his claim that “oceans are driving CO2” elsewhere? Maybe not. It wasn’t too unusual when Tom Stone almost accepted that argument #7 was wrong, but reverted just two minutes later. However, it was unusual for Dr. Spencer to write that blog post, then say he likes that last quote from Richard Courtney’s article: “The existing data is such that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration can be modeled as being entirely natural, entirely anthropogenic, or some combination of the two. And there is no data which resolves the matter.”

  78. jsam says:

    Cook et al have been incredibly successful. The most cited paper on ERL. And a wonderfully viral Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjuGCJJUGsg.

    It seems to be quite good communication. Most people pay almost no attention to global warming. They might remember a sound bite or an amusing anecdote. So it behooves us to make sure we have such in our armoury.

  79. OPatrick says:

    Is Dr. Spencer part of the 97%?

    It seems that if someone says something about what their position is we have to take them at their word, even if it is contradicted by their actions, or even by their words in other places.’I agree there is a consensus, but…’.

  80. OPatrick,
    I’m of the other view, that if anyone explicitly states their position or their characteristics, they’re probably wrong. “I’m not a ….” doesn’t instil confidence.

  81. ATTP,

    Why is there such a fuss?

    The reason is, of course, that all those who criticize see the paper and the way it’s presented in public as extremely misleading. It’s presented to public as evidence that 97% of science agrees on conclusions that are directly relevant to policy, while it’s very far from the truth that all, who belong to the 97% agree on policy conclusions.

    If the paper would really be presented as telling only what it does tell, no fuss would have been generated, but then president Obama had not picked the 97% of this paper to his policy talk.

    The paper is not primarily a study of sociology of science or of well defined classification of climate science papers. I cannot see the paper as anything else than an attempt to influence policy by a clever trick of studying something and anticipating that the results will be misinterpreted in the direction the authors wish.

    That has worked, but that’s disingenuous. For some it’s fine that the trick works and the cause is noble, for me it’s not.

  82. OPatrick says:

    Anders – yes, that was a climateball ‘have to’.

  83. OPatrick says:

    Is it presented as that, Pekka, or might there be an element of it being presented as being presented as that? Obama’s tweet is a clear example, but whilst high (!) profile it doesn’t necessarily represent the presentation as a whole.

    Also “all”? Are you sure? How are you sure?

  84. Pekka,
    But you’re doing the same as everyone else. You’re criticising a paper because of how it’s been used. How it’s been used has no real bearing on the paper itself, in my opinion at least. Also, can you find any significant examples of where people said “Cook et al. show that 97% of climate scientists agree, therefore we must install wind turbines in the Scottish Highlands” (I’m exaggerating for effect). Saying “97% of scientists agree about AGW, therefore we should act” is not, in my opinion, policy prescriptive. It’s is a statement that we should start considering the policy options. It doesn’t tell us what they should be. The term “act” includes adaptation, mitigation, carbon capture, …… All it precludes – maybe – is doing absolutely nothing, but I fail to see how doing absolutely nothing is a sensible policy option. Although, if I was being pedantic, it could include having a serious discussion about the policy options and deciding that doing nothing is the best one.

  85. ATTP,

    I criticize the paper for its use, because I’m about 97% sure that what I describe in my comment was intentional. I don’t believe that the paper was written thinking that 97% of papers agree at the level on which Lindzen, Christy, and Spencer agree. To me such an alternative is not credible. it’s even less credible taking into account other activities of the principal author, ant the way it was presented by them.

    I do really think that this was an intentional trick.

  86. verytallguy says:

    Pekka,

    ascribing malign motives to others does not make for a civil discourse.

    Of course the motive was to influence the public – to influence the public from the position where they don’t believe a consensus to one where public opinion more accurately reflects reality.

    To call this a “trick” is just bizarre. It’s an honest attempt to help public discourse be based on the reality of a scientific consensus rather than deliberately manufactured doubt.

    The “fuss” is partly because scpetics don’t like the result, but mainly because it is effective.

  87. Pekka,
    Of course, you’re free to criticise how something’s been used. As you probably have worked out, my point was simply that how something is used, does not mean that it itself is flawed or wrong.

    I do really think that this was an intentional trick.

    Personally I have an issue with attributing intent without lots of evidence. Having said that, I have no doubt the goal was to influence public opinion. However, I see no issue with that if what is presented is factually correct and how its determined was not fraudulent. In my opinion, people who argue against such studies (and I’m not saying you have) are starting to stray into academic freedom territory and I would object to that very strongly.

  88. VTG,

    What’s the science of that paper?

    Does it have some value for climate science?

    I cannot see, how anybody would say that it has.

    Does the paper have value for social sciences?

    This is less familiar territory for me, but I cannot believe that it has any scientific value of that kind either. After all:
    – A threshold was selected that’s passed by everything except most absurd crackpot material acceptable only to the worst journals that can make a claim of peer review.
    – It was found that 97% passed that trivial threshold, when a judgment was possible.

    Is there anything of any real interest in that observation? The only explanation I can offer for doing the exercise is the one I have explained above. As the authors are obviously not stupid or strangers for climate discussion, I consider it virtually certain that they knew before they started, what the outcome will be, and how it can be presented to public to give an misleading impression.

  89. NIck Barnes says:

    I propose a series of experiments using amphibians and garden vegetables, to study possible anomalies in Newt-onion gravity.
    (first in a series of amphibian-themed jokes, Kill me now, before I strike again).

  90. Pekka,
    Others have made similar arguments. I think arguing that a paper that has clearly had the kind of impact that this one has had, has no value is a little odd. If it had no value, it would have no citations and been completely ignored. Also, this kind of argument comes across as “I don’t like what this paper has done, therefore I think it shouldn’t have been published and it has no value”. I think people can construct better arguments than that.

    Nick,
    A few more jokes like that might actually be just what I need 🙂

  91. When only a small percentage of the American public recognize that there *is* a consensus, then there is clearly a need to educate them. If a new report came out every other week for a year each restating the results, at the end of the year we might find the public’s knowledge better reflects reality.

    To that end Cook et al is only a start. It may seem trivial, it may seem redundant, but replication studies are needed. Another team of researchers should make use of the abstracts and reproduce the results and publish yet another consensus report.

    Anyone need a volunteer rater?

  92. The paper is of obvious interest for its attempt to influence policy. It has been supported and reviewed positively by people who like it’s role in influencing policy, it has been attacked by those of the opposite opinion. Neither set of references tells anything about its scientific value.

    (As a side remark, I’m puzzled by the criticism by Tol. Such criticism would be relevant if the nature of the paper would be more scientific. It’s, of course, possible to scrutinize the details of the methods used. Such a scrutiny might help in improving methods of other statistical studies, but the potential technical weaknesses are not the real issue in this case.)

  93. Pekka,
    I missed this,

    I consider it virtually certain that they knew before they started, what the outcome will be, and how it can be presented to public to give an misleading impression.

    Can you please explain in what way it has presented a misleading impression to the public. I thought you agreed that there was a strong consensus? As far as I’m aware “97% of abstract endorse the consensus”, “97% of papers endorse the consensus”, “97% of climate scientists agree with the consensus” are all defensible statements. I fail to see how aiming to convince the public of something that we all agree is self-evidently true can be framed as being misleading.

  94. Pekka,
    I have scutinised Tol’s analysis of Cook et al. (2013). In my opinion it is mostly completely wrong. My view on Tol’s criticisms is mainly because I have yet to see him present anything that makes any sense, both logically, statistically, or mathematically.

  95. OPatrick says:

    Pekka, that’s bizarre. How can you defend criticism of the Cook paper but criticise criticisim of Tol’s? That does not seem consistent.

    Could you also explain what Cook et al should have done differently if there aim was (as seems obvious to me it was) to demonstrate the level of support in the scientific community for the view that humans are causing more than 50% of the observed warming?

  96. verytallguy says:

    Pekka,

    I agree that the result was a foregone conclusion.

    I note that the public perception is very different, and that “absurd crackpot” material is routinely promoted in mainstream media, and that the public believe there is genuine debate on these points.

    I believe the difference between this perception and the reality is interesting, and that the quantification methodology used in the study provided novel data on this and thus provided value.

    I do not believe the way it has been presented by the authors is in any way misleading, indeed it is genuinely informative to those naive to the strength of the scientific consensus.

  97. verytallguy says:

    Pekka,

    I note that you are merely “puzzled” by Tol’s actions but convinced of the “intentional trick” by Cook et al.

  98. VTG,

    I’m puzzled by Tol’s work, because I cannot see that it has much effect at all. Not for science, nor for policy discussion.

    I see a very clear reason for Cook et al, but I don’t like the reason I perceive.

    I’m a bit purist in thinking that science wins best in the long run, when it’s not pushed too hard, and in ways not acceptable in purely scientific connections.

    Public policy related discussion is different, and follows different rules. Maintaining the difference rather than switching to the looser rules is what I would prefer. People like Stephen Schneider and Gavin Schmidt have spoken on, how to communicate presenting the problems I see as essential. I agree on much they have presented, but my final conclusion is a bit different.

    It has been interesting to notice that from all the regular commenters on this site I find what Joshua writes often closest to my own thinking.

  99. OPatrick says:

    Ah, that makes more sense – I read you the first time as “I’m puzzled by the criticism of Tol.”. Sorry!

  100. Pekka,
    I have to go and play some golf (which could be interesting as I haven’t for quite some time) but a quick comment. Cook et al. isn’t science as I would describe it (at least physical science). It’s social science. It highlights a strong consensus in the literature and has a goal of illustrating this consensus to the broader public. I fail to see how doing this and potentially improving the public’s understanding of this situation shouldn’t be seen as worthwhile and valuable.

    I will add that it’s hard from me to believe that those who object are not essentially saying “it’s not fair,. you’ve convinced policy makers of a truth that makes it less likely that my policy preferences will be adopted”. As far as I’m concerned, if more informed policy makers make it more difficult for you to convince them of your policy preference, then it’s hard to see that your policy preference is particularly credible (although I’m not implying you here specifically, Pekka).

    It has been interesting to notice that from all the regular commenters on this site I find what Joshua writes often closest to my own thinking.

    Yes, I find Joshua’s comment very valuable. I wonder what that suggests?

  101. OPatrick,

    Could you also explain what Cook et al should have done differently if there aim was (as seems obvious to me it was) to demonstrate the level of support in the scientific community for the view that humans are causing more than 50% of the observed warming?

    If that was their purpose, they should have studied that. They would have found a rather small number of papers make a statement on that. Out of that smaller number of papers, some other value that 97% would have come out as supporting more than 97%.

    (To make it clear: I do consider the IPCC statements that most of warming since 1950s is AGW well justified, and I have argued for that immediately after publication of the report).

    You just demonstrated my point. You interpreted the 97% as referring to something it does not refer to.

  102. Eli Rabett says:

    Perhaps Eli’s statement of the AGW consensus could help Pekka

    Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere at current rates will increasingly cause bad things to happen. Over the next one to two hundred years this will lead to VERY BAD things happening.

    The rest is detail.

    Does he seriously think that less than 97% of climate scientists would agree with this

  103. verytallguy says:

    Pekka, I note you are still merely puzzled by Tol’s motives and still happy to ascribe malign intent to Cook et al.

    Perhaps this will help on Tol:

    I have three choices:
    a. shut up
    b. destructive comment
    c. constructive comment

    a. is wrong
    c. is not an option. I don’t have the resources to redo what they did, and I think it is silly to search a large number of papers that are off-topic; there are a number of excellent surveys of the relevant literature already, so there is no point in me replicating that.

    that leaves b

    and this on Cook’s motivation:

    people believe scientists are still split about what’s causing global warming, and therefore there is not nearly enough public support or motivation to solve the problem.

    http://skepticalscience.com/97-percent-consensus-cook-et-al-2013.html

    Both seem very clear to me.

  104. Pekka,

    You interpreted the 97% as referring to something it does not refer to.

    I think you’re wrong. Maybe “level of support” was not quite the right terminology, but I think OPatrick has essentially explained the motivation and it might be you who doesn’t understand. If I want to understand the level of acceptance of Newtonian gravity, I won’t simply look for papers that directly address Newtonian gravity, I will look for what fraction of papers that use gravity, use Newtonian gravity. It’s a consensus (level of acceptance/agreement) study, not a study that was attempting to directly determine the strength of the evidence.

  105. VTG,
    Yes, it does appear as though Pekka is suggesting that a paper intending to improve public understanding is misleading while one with the explicit intent of destroying a paper that is intending to improve public understanding is simply puzzling.

    Anyway, lunch and then golf. I hope everyone behaves themselves while I’m away 🙂

  106. verytallguy says:

    Pekka,

    You just demonstrated my point. You interpreted the 97% as referring to something it does not refer to.

    Codswallop.

    It is entirely reasonable for OPatrick to infer from a 97% consensus in the papers on science to a 97% or other high number % agreement amongst scientists. Not proven by the paper, but a reasonable inference. Indeed, the opposite conclusion (that it’s NOT supported by a very high % of scientists) is clearly unsupportable.

    You are nitpicking. Which I think is Eli’s point.

  107. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    work then cycling for me 🙂

    If you think people will behave while you’re gone, I fear you’re toad-ally mistaken. (H/T Nick Barnes above)

  108. Joshua says:

    Pekka –

    ==> “1) There’s no doubt that almost all climate scientists agree on AGW at the level required for being part of the 97%”

    I will note the difference between what you wrote and what Tol wrote:

    “Published papers that seek to test what caused the climate change over the last century and half, almost unanimously find that humans played a dominant role.”

    I don’t think that is a trivial difference, and Tol’s statement is more relevant to the points of disagreement in the climate wars.

    The following statement of yours is inconsistent with what I read at the same blogs that you read:

    ==> “The reason is, of course, that all those who criticize see the paper and the way it’s presented in public as extremely misleading.”

    There are those who have different reasons. For example, some think that the existence of a “consensus” is irrelevant. Some think that focusing on whether or not a “consensus” exists is, in fact, reflects a misunderstanding of the scientific method.

    I wonder, what do you think the results would be of a survey of the scientists represented in the literature on climate change, where they were asked: (1) whether or not it is extremely likely that more than 50% of recent warming is anthropogenic in nature and, (2) whether such a rate of anthropogenic contribution to warming represents a risk of harmful climate change.

    Your statement that

    ==> “2) That’s nearly irrelevant, because many more than 3% of them do not agree that AGW is so strong that’s it needs to be addressed urgently.”

    is misleading because it implies that Richard Tol’s statement:

    “Published papers that seek to test what caused the climate change over the last century and half, almost unanimously find that humans played a dominant role.”

    is not true. It is just as misleading when Spencer and company say that they are in the 97% consensus – because they are implying that they agree there is a high certainty that anthropogenic contributions to climate change “played a dominant role,” when clearly they don’t agree.

    The problem is that people on both sides leverage ambiguity and a lack of agreed upon terminology to score rhetorical points.

    And then there’s this from you:

    ==> “If the paper would really be presented as telling only what it does tell, no fuss would have been generated, but then president Obama had not picked the 97% of this paper to his policy talk.”

    If I’m not mistaken, there was quite a “fuss” about the paper well before Obama made any statements about the 97%. There was a fuss about the prevalence of a “consensus” even before Cook et al., was published and there was a fuss about Cook et al. well before Obama referenced that study.

  109. JWhite says:

    I have lurked around this site for a bit and thought I might finally contribute, probably worthlessly.

    Though not a scientist (more of a science enthusiast) I certainly recognize humans are warming the planet and that it is likely, an extremely risky activity. I am cognizant a ‘consensus’ exists, in that among those expert in the field, there is some widespread agreement we shouldn’t be dumping GHGs into our atmo.

    The apparent demise of this recent ‘consensus’ (below) does allow for some reasonable skepticism of consensuses (consensi?… send the grammar police) in general. I would accept an argument that the human body is far more complex and mysterious than our planetary physical systems, but still.I’m surprised this hasn’t become a thread at WUWT or Climate Etc.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/science/09tier.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  110. I don’t claim for a lack of clear majority of scientists for stronger statements about AGW, but there’s no evidence that the share would be 97% (it’s pretty clear that it would be less, but the study does not tell, how much less). One of my main problems is that the number that was determined by a major effort is so irrelevant. Numbers that tell about agreement on more than 50% since 1950s would be more relevant, so would many other values. I have told, what i think to be one major reason for choosing to calculate the least relevant number.

    Yes, warming is going on. Therefore I consider the TCRE (Transient Climate Response to cumulative carbon Emissions) to be most relevant for long term considerations (and TCR for the first 100 years).

  111. Joshua,

    Starting from your last point. Yes there was fuss immediately after the paper was mad public. The reason is that people saw immediately, how it will be taken. They were right. That all these people realized immediately the significance of the paper for policy discussion strengthens my belief that Cook realized that already before the paper was published.

  112. > Jim Bouldin should be ashamed of what he wrote.

    Again, why?

    As Don Cherry would say, finish your check.

  113. Joshua says:

    Pekka –

    Even if the paper had focused on the precise consensus of belief that AGW plays a dominant role in warming and presents a significant risk, it would have generated Jell-O flinging because of policy implications. I think that it would be naive to attribute concerns about the policy implications of Cook et al. to the ambiguity w/r/t how “consensus” is defined. That’s a smoke screen from “skeptics.”

    But sure, anyone following this debate could have anticipated the reaction to Cook et al. A failure to distinguish any contribution to warming from ACO2, from a dominant (and potentially dangerous) contribution, is well established – as is a willingness to leverage that ambiguity for rhetorical purposes (on both sides).

    Cook et al. is same ol’ same ol’. It is an ink blot. People see in it what they want to see.

  114. > That all these people realized immediately the significance of the paper for policy discussion strengthens my belief that Cook realized that already before the paper was published.

    The same applies to just about anything say Nic Lewis wrote so far. The same applies to say Tol’s destructive comment.

    And your point is?

  115. JCH says:

    97% of me thinks this subject is mostly boring, so I went and listened to Revkin’s bluegrass. I’m 97% convinced it’s mostly not inspired by Flatt and Scruggs, and now I know why I’ve mostly never trusted the guy.

  116. Joshua,

    The paper has been a success story in the sense that it has influenced policy discussion outside the small circle of active followers of climate blogs.

    All of us who spend time on climate blogs get easily a distorted view of much of the argumentation. Almost solely people who have already committed themselves to some view see this discussion and due to the commitment the are usually not affected. Only every now and then something gets more publicity. This is one of those cases.

    But even in this case we can ask, what’s the real influence on opinions and on future policies. Is the case again that the conclusions lead and arguments are picked to give the impression that the conclusions are based on those arguments?

  117. > [W]e can ask, what’s the real influence on opinions and on future policies.

    Yes we can. But will we?

    Instead we could raise the question, contemplate it, open ourselves to the awe it produces, and wave our arms in communion.

  118. At some level communication is required. Science produces improved understanding. Valid results will ultimately be accepted as virtually certain. They will in some way be communicated to people who make decisions. All this may occur in a way that’s not observable at all.

    Much of the climate science controversy is about speeding up the process, and about problems that speeding up the process may create. The problems may be of first and second kind, i.e. valid knowledge may be dismissed or given too little weight, and erroneous results may be accepted as true and end up as basis for counterproductive decisions.

    The speeding up of the process is probably necessary, because the standard scientific process is too slow. It cannot support decision making early enough to minimize damage from AGW.

  119. NIck Barnes says:

    A few more jokes like that might actually be just what I need 🙂

    A man rides into a bar on the back of a huge and damp amphibian.
    “Barman, two beers, please. One for me, and one for Tiny here.”
    “Tiny? Why do you call him Tiny?”
    “Because he’s my newt.”

  120. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Frog odd’s snake, Barnes!

  121. Joshua says:

    Pekka –

    ==> “The paper has been a success story in the sense that it has influenced policy discussion outside the small circle of active followers of climate blogs.”

    In a meaningful way? I suspect not. It has been used in policy discussions in entirely predictable ways among people who are already convinced about the positions they advocate.

    JasonB and Rachel and others think it has had, or will have, measurable impact among those who aren’t already convinced one way or the other – to push them into raising concern about the ACO2 effect on climate to a higher level of priority. I have my doubts about that. So….

    ==> “But even in this case we can ask, what’s the real influence on opinions and on future policies.”

    I think minimal. For all the claims that it is counterproductive, for all the claims that the paper’s flaws represent the corruption of pure science and are yet more evidence of the end of the enlightenment, and for all the claims that the paper will make a significant contribution to turning the tide towards the development of new policy approaches to mitigating ACO2 emissions, I say that the paper and the reactions show that

    ==> “[It] [i]s the case again that the conclusions lead and arguments are picked to give the impression that the conclusions are based on those arguments?”

    The forces that will have “real influence on opinions and on future policies” are complex, indeed, and IMO, will play out over a much longer time frame…a time frame in which all this bickering about Cook et al. will amount to a drop in the ocean.

    I think the fuss about the “consensus” is a perfect microcosm of the climate wars. Hulme, Tol, Cook, Watts, Curry, Revkin, Obama….they all leverage the issue to advance a preexisting agenda.

    Same as it ever was.

  122. dana1981 says:

    The number of people coming from all angles to attack the consensus in general and our study specifically has been pretty crazy. We had deniers attacking the paper with various bogus arguments, Tol accepting the consensus is real but making a big math error to argue it’s 91% instead of the correct 97%, Kahan arguing that the 97% message is polarizing, Corner saying the delivery is more important than the message (that’s actually not an attack – Corner’s piece was fine, though I disagree with parts of it, as noted in my comment), McNeall saying there’s something wrong with doing a study to educate the public, etc. etc. Bouldin’s starting to become very rude too.

    I think the reasons behind these attacks vary. Deniers know the importance of the consensus in terms of what matters most to them – public opinion and hence support for climate policies. I think a lot of scientists were taken aback by the amount of attention our paper got, and either want a piece of that themselves (Tol) or feel like there’s something wrong with it (McNeall, Bouldin). There have certainly been a lot of reactions that we didn’t expect to see.

  123. John Hartz says:

    Joshua: if you believe that Cook et al (2013) is just another “ink blot”, why are you spending so much time and energy on this comment thread discussing it?

    Wouldn’t your time be be better spent directlty inflluencing puublic opinion?

  124. Joshua says:

    JasonB –

    Joshua:

    Part of my “confidence” springs from the other side’s own research telling them the same thing (namely, the Luntz memo, which I believe was the result of focus group testing). The very fact that 88% of Americans radically underestimate the level of scientific agreement on AGW is strong evidence, to me, that the other side’s campaign (coupled with the media’s false balance problem) has worked.

    I think that Luntz’s strategy capitalizes on existing polarization rather than creates new polarization in those who are unaligned – but even if I’m wrong about that, I was kind of hoping we wouldn’t focus on the discussion of whether or not in a theoretical sense, “consensus” messaging (or whatever term might be better) is influential in either direction, but assuming for the sake that it is, how it would be structured so as to affect a real difference from what currently exists in public opinion

    If someone like Cook, or Obama, presents a message about a “consensus,” it will fit right into the preexisting matrix of beliefs about climate change with ideology as the moderator (or perhaps even mediator).

    Also, the first two sentences of Cook et al are:

    An accurate perception of the degree of scientific consensus is an essential element to public support for climate policy (Ding et al 2011). Communicating the scientific consensus also increases people’s acceptance that climate change (CC) is happening (Lewandowsky et al 2012).

    I don’t see any evidence to the contrary.

    I’m not sure I do either. But I don’t see what I consider to be solid evidence to support the claim nonetheless.

    IOW, if people have a misconception about something, or are ignorant of something, then I try to educate them, often explaining in great detail (much to my wife’s chagrin) so they are then in a position to educate others.

    I think that if that is your frame of reference, that you are informing those who have a misconception or are ignorant of something, then their receptivity to what you are saying will, necessarily, be moderated by how they “identify” you vis-à-vis their own self-identification.

    Because of that, I would still support proclaiming the consensus far and wide even if it made no difference other than correcting the misconception about the level of scientific agreement. If people then chose to ignore the consequences, well, at least they’re making an informed choice.

    You are assuming a cause-and-effect that I don’t think exists. Just because you proclaim that there is a “consensus” will not necessarily result in their misconception being corrected.

    Well, firstly, I think Cook et al is really the first of several studies on the level of consensus over the years to have broken through in any way to a more general audience, so I don’t really accept the “consistent messaging” portrayal; indeed, I would not be surprised if, for a large percentage of the general population, stories about that paper were the first time they had any idea that the scientific community was not more-or-less evenly divided on the issue.

    It’s hard to set back out of the climate-o-sphere bubble once you’ve stepped in, but I have a hard time believing that there are many people who are regularly exposed to mass media who have not already heard it said that there is widespread agreement among climate scientists that ACO2 affects the climate, explains a significant amount of recent warming, and presents a risk of dangerous climate change with BAU. My point is that you can’t assume that because people don’t perceive that there is a consensus that therefor, they haven’t heard it said that there is a consensus. They might, and I would argue do, persist in their belief despite having heard otherwise because they filter out and discount evidence that contradicts their preexisting beliefs.

    Yes, your argument that there are many, in fact a majority, who aren’t locked into a perspective is problematic for the argument I just made – but I think that there is something lost in the data that suggests that a strong majority is highly malleable. While there might be many who say that they aren’t locked into a particular perspective on climate change, they nonetheless receive their information on climate change through a polarized source. They decide (unconsciously) whether to accept or reject a message based on how they locate that source within the constellation of their political/ideological/social universe.

    Even then, quite a few would have failed to notice it until now. I wouldn’t expect everyone’s misconceptions to be corrected overnight.

    My instincts tell me, however, that something that might make the “messaging” more effective (I don’t really equate “educating the public about basic facts” with “messaging” so I’ve quoted the term) would be if scientists who actually agree with it would spend less time wringing their hands in public about how “unhelpful” it is.

    Hmmm. I think that it is unrealistic to think that a particular segment of the public is influenced by a relatively tiny % of scientists who criticize the “consensus” messaging, when that % is most likely considerably smaller and less influential than the number of scientists who participate in “consensus” messaging.

    It appears to me that what they’re concerned about is upsetting those in denial and making them even more rabid than they already are. “Getting along” seems more important, even if that means appeasement.

    I agree with you here. That is, essentially, my disagreement with Hulme, or Edwards, etc. – because I think that they are also assuming an cause-and-effect merely as a projection of their own views. In fact, I think that the “counterproductive” effect that they are concerned about is tiny in magnitude, if it exists at all. The only people, IMO, who are turned away by “consensus” messaging are those who are already locked into an oppositional stance

    My view is: “F*ck ‘em”. They won’t be convinced by beating them over the head with the facts, sure, but they also won’t be convinced by mollifying them and toning down the message.[*] The key point is they won’t be convinced. They have dialled themselves out of the conversation because they don’t like the conclusions, not because of the way those conclusions have been presented.

    So I agree there.

    In the meantime, the efforts to appease them really do make scientists seem divided, which is exactly what they want.

    And kind of agree there – because it does make scientists seem divided, but the only people who really pick up on that seeming division are those who are already convinced.

    Thankfully, those in denial really are a small minority, and we don’t need to convince them — we just need to convince the majority of the population who aren’t impervious to reason. Indeed, they can actually be a great resource, because there are so many cranks in their ranks that they can serve as an example of the kinds of people who reject science. Let them wear the consequence of their own unwillingness to correct each other’s mistakes.

    I fail to understand why you think there will be some significant change in the dynamics that have been in place for quite a long time.

    — I’m guessing that I probably screwed up the formatting above – but I assume that if I did, you’ll be able to get through it (if you have the fortitude to get through the rambling aspect)…

  125. Steve Bloom says:

    Willard, I shall ‘splain to you the bleedin’ obvious:

    JB is a scientist who understands the urgency of the climate problem, more or less.

    That post was unconstructive, and quite consciously so, with regard to the problem.

    He should be ashamed.

    (I do agree that a constructive criticism of the paper would be fine.)

  126. Joshua says:

    John –

    Joshua: if you believe that Cook et al (2013) is just another “ink blot”, why are you spending so much time and energy on this comment thread discussing it?

    Wouldn’t your time be be better spent directlty inflluencing puublic opinion?

    I wonder if in asking that question, you are implying that I don’t really think as I described, and instead I’m a “denier” or an “appeaser?”

    Anyway, I don’t have an answer to your question. There are a ton of things I could be doing instead that from a purely rational perspective, would be more productive in one way or another. I think that anyone here would be hard pressed to provide a well-reasoned and rational explanation for why they’re hear.

    About the best I can do is offer this:

    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fxkcd.com%2F386%2F&tbnid=0JDOjcPPBYzZXM:&docid=7GiNB03uLhoDmM&h=330&w=300

  127. Steve Bloom says:

    “I have a hard time believing that there are many people who are regularly exposed to mass media who have not already heard it said that there is widespread agreement among climate scientists”

    But how much have they heard it? Repetition is important to changing views.

    “I fail to understand why you think there will be some significant change in the dynamics that have been in place for quite a long time.”

    And yet, significant change does happen. How?

    A paper like Cook et al. ca make an important contribution to shifting public consciousness without being some sort of magic bullet.

  128. AnOilMan says:

    dana1981: Lets not forget that the consensus report was incredibly incredibly open to non-experts. It included papers published in political science journals. aka… pal review factories like Energy and Environment;
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Energy_and_Environment

    If you can’t get it published in a real journal you can do it there. And does anyone really think political scientists study physics? Anyone? Anyone at all? Bueller? (I suppose if I had dropped out of engineering I could have been a political scientist like Sonja.)
    http://www.desmogblog.com/sonja-boehmer-christiansen

    By the way, I have read a number of the papers from that journal. (Hard to come by given no actually reads it.) Those papers are incredibly biased, and just plain wrong. Here’s Craig Loehle going down the up escalator.
    http://www.ncasi.org/Downloads/Download.ashx?id=7503

    http://www.desmogblog.com/craig-loehle
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Craig_Loehle

    Finding unqualified people to publish poor quality papers in political science journals is hardly an accomplishment, but was included in the consensus report.

    The number is way over 97%.

  129. jsam says:

    Dana – no good deed goes unpunished – Letitia Baldrige.

    Or look at this way. There is no such thing as bad publicity. The deniers could have ignored it – after all there have been prior studies coming to the same conclusio – and it might have disappeared as a one day wonder. That they didn’t says you’re probably right. That they won’t let go now says they’re probably wrong. They just let their dread and hatred of the success of SkS countering their nonsense get the better of them.

    Joe Public just hears “97% consensus”. The communication has worked well.

    Well done Cook et al. A follow-up is in order.

  130. John Hartz says:

    Joshua: You can rest assured, I do not consider you to be a “denier-in-disguise.” You do, however, have a propensity to critque the comments of others in very detailed fashion,like a lawyer responding to an opponent’s brief. If that is what turns you on, so be it. Personally, I find it to be a bit of overkill and rather tedious to read. . .

  131. kdk33 says:

    Seems to me that there is a fundamental misunderstanding about the consensus.

    The consensus does exist and 97% of academics agree that they want funding.

    See! cleared it all up for you guys.

  132. John Hartz says:

    Joshua: You also misconstrued my question. I was not asking you a global question of why you spend time posting comments on threads like this. Rather, i was asking a specific question, i.e, , Why are you spending so much time on this particular thread given your stated belief that Cook et al is just a mere ink blot?.

  133. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    I do want to point out that you’ve previously said I should just not direct comments your way. Hopefully, you are extending to me an exchange in good faith

    ==> “But how much have they heard it? Repetition is important to changing views.”

    I think that would have to depend on their receptivity to the message. Repeating a message that assumes ignorance or a misunderstanding is not always going to change views, or certainly isn’t always going to change views in the desired direction.

    ==> “And yet, significant change does happen. How?”

    It’s an interesting question. Take, for example, the significant change we’ve seen over a short period of time w/r/t views on homosexuality. Maybe there’s a parallel there that works in favor of consensus messaging; views have changed over time despite ideological obstacles. But it is a very complex comparison and I’m not sure that generalizing from the one context to the other really translates. Still, I have to think that one significant factor of difference is the extent to which the debate affects people, obviously, on a day-to-day basis. Climate change has some structural issues related to risk assessment in the face of uncertainty that don’t really apply to considering whether freedoms related to sexual preference presents risks. People cannot determine that climate change presents risk as easily as they can see that sexual preference doesn’t. I’m not suggesting that advocacy, even aggressive advocacy, is never effective. Obviously, it sometimes is.

  134. jsam says:

    Thank you, kdk33. Just keep repeating “97% consensus”. 🙂

  135. dana1981 says:

    Pekka, I have to admit I’m not entirely clear on what you’re saying. Another unfortunate aspect of the criticisms of our paper is that many are quite cryptic and don’t just come out and say exactly what they’re criticizing us for (I had this problem with Kahan and Bouldin yesterday).

    If I’m understanding your arguments, you’re making several errors. First, the 96-97% consensus is that AGW since 1950 is >50%. The 97% consensuses (consensi?) from both our abstract ratings and author self-ratings put any abstracts/papers that minimized the human contribution ( or 50%).

    Second, while Spencer has claimed several times that he’s part of the 97%, he’s wrong and he’s not. You can look at our abstract ratings yourself. We captured 5 of his papers in our literature search. 4 were rated as ‘no opinion’ and 1 as an implicit minimization/rejection. That puts his research in the < 3%, not the 97%. We also invited him to rate his own papers, though I don't know if he participated (and those self-ratings are confidential in any case).

    As for the results being policy prescriptive, as ATTP notes, the fact that the climate science literature says humans are the main cause of the current global warming certainly should lead people to conclude that we need to do something to address the issue, given the rate of the warming and climate change we've been causing.

  136. dana1981 says:

    AOM – we excluded E&E because it’s a social science journal.

  137. Joshua says:

    John –

    I spent (to much) time on a lot of threads, of different types. I can’t participate meaningfully on technical threads, so my drug of choice are threads on issues that reference political components of the debate and how reasoning is affected by biases. This thread is a twofer.

    I am posting on this thread because I disagree with some of the arguments (from different angles) that have been presented on the Cook article and the issue of a “consensus.”

  138. AnOilMan says:

    dana… oops. thanks. 97% it is then. 🙂

  139. Joshua says:

    dkd –

    But that’s not the only consensus:

    Another consensus exists where 97% of “skeptics” attribute the AGW consensus to political conspiracies and greed on the part of scientists.

    Glad to clear that up for you.

  140. AnOilMan says:

    Has anyone else been watching The Years Of Living Dangerously?

  141. Steve Bloom says:

    I’m easier to ignore, Joshua, as I don’t put up a high volume of tl;dr comments like you do and, probably in part because I have more experience with/knowledge of politics, social science and climate science than do you, the ones I do put up tend to be more carefully thought out than yours.

    Maybe you should think some more about your answers to my questions. Consider on the one hand the nature of the total information environment in which individuals operate, and on the other the process by which climate change denial became (relatively) common to begin with. Kahan e.g. isn’t very helpful on either of those points.

  142. nobodyknows says:

    I wonder if I can join the endorsement group if I say that doubling of co2 give an increase of 1,8 C, atmospheric warming, or where do you set a limit.

  143. Joshua says:

    John –

    ==> “Personally, I find it to be a bit of overkill and rather tedious to read. . .”

    Understood. You aren’t exactly the first to point that out.

  144. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    ==> ‘I’m easier to ignore, Joshua, as I don’t put up a high volume of tl;dr comments like you do and, probably in part because I have more experience with/knowledge of politics, social science and climate science than do you, the ones I do put up tend to be more carefully thought out than yours.”

    You forgot smarter and better looking, also. 🙂

    Just couldn’t do it (good faith exchange), could you? It always strikes me how some “realists” engage in the same form of (bad faith) engagement that do so many “skeptics.”

    ==> ” Consider on the one hand the nature of the total information environment in which individuals operate, and on the other the process by which climate change denial became (relatively) common to begin with. Kahan e.g. isn’t very helpful on either of those points.”

    Perhaps that was extremely well thought out, but I’m just not smart enough to understand the thinking involved. It looks like an argument by assertion to me.

    So then take into consideration my relative lack of experience with/knowledge of politics and social science and explain to me what about it is about the nature of the total information environment that makes it clear that your understanding would be more helpful than that of Kahan.

  145. KR says:

    From the infamous Luntz memo:

    “Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field.” [Emphasis as per the original]

    Misinformation on expert opinion can affect (distort) public policy, and such misinformation has been a political goal for some over decades. There is the “trick”, there is the unethical action.

    I fail to see how _correcting_ information on the expert opinions regarding a complex subject can be a bad idea.

    Note: Cook et al isn’t the only indication of consensus. For a _far_ more detailed read on the consensus, see any of the IPCC reports which summarize the science as currently known. Those detail that climate change is real, is driven by anthropogenic forcings, and (in the Impacts documents) that there will be significant and costly effects.

  146. Dana,

    Looking at the paper it seems clear that the percentage applies to the sum of positions 1), 2), and 3). If it applies to 1) alone, then I have misunderstood the paper.

  147. BBD says:

    nobodyknows

    I wonder if I can join the endorsement group if I say that doubling of co2 give an increase of 1,8 C, atmospheric warming, or where do you set a limit.

    Too low. See #yesbutpaleoclimate.

    Again.

  148. Steve Bloom,

    You claim that this is bleedin’ obvious:

    > JB is a scientist who understands the urgency of the climate problem, more or less. That post was unconstructive, and quite consciously so, with regard to the problem. He should be ashamed.

    If we accept your argument, Jim Bouldin might not be the only scientist who should be ashamed. One could even surmise that most of the scientists that participate in ClimateBall ™ should be ashamed too for what they do. I could even start paying due diligence to this very thread if you please.

    Jim only wrote a parody. It was OK. I’m sure he enjoyed writing it. Sure, it was more a satirical comment than anything else. Who cares?

    Do you really think it matters one bit if will fuel all those who would see this as the final nail in the final coffin in which we find the final stake in the final heart of the final straw? I don’t think it does. In fact, I’m quite sure that DaveY or PaulM would reach just about the same conclusions and raise the same concerns regarding all this anyway. More generally, we can’t escape the double bind between “More Omertà?” and “Scientists speak out at last!”.

    ***

    Take it from the other the other side, Steve. Do you think that “Jim should be ashamed” is constructive? If you’d like Jim to provide constructive criticism, I suggest you go first. You may also need to revise your concept of obviousness, reflect a bit more on shame, or think about what the hell you’re doing in the ClimateBall ™ field.

    Just like you, Jim’s a free man and your concerns regarding how Jim spends his free time are duly noted.

    Thank you for your concerns.

  149. Eli Rabett says:

    A man rides into a bar with a frog on his head.
    “Barman, a beers, please.”
    And what would you like the barman says to the frog
    “Will you get this guy off my ass”

    As to Eli’s short take, yes, it is a way of concentrating the argument so it cannot be nit picked or denied. No one tried. Now reissued as a tweet.

    Increasing CO2 at current rates leads to bad things. Over the next 100 years or less VERY BAD things happen. The rest is detail.— eli rabett (@EthonRaptor) June 20, 2014

    if it can be said in 140 characters and no one can quibble with it that is excellent communications.

  150. Steve Bloom says:

    Agreed about the minor to null impact, Willard, but if we’re to bother discussing such things at all we should do so on their own terms.

    “If you’d like Jim to provide constructive criticism, I suggest you go first.” But I don’t have any particular criticism of Cook et al. Did your rhetoric get ahead of your reasoning skills there?

    To restate my point, those who have a grasp of the problem should proceed in a serious way. Lightheartedness, joking or even satire aren’t necessarily in conflict with that, but this one was.

    Thank you once again for your operational lack of concern.

  151. Joseph says:

    Joshua

    I think you are overestimating the number of people who identify with one political group or another and therefore are not open to arguments in favor of AGW. In a recent Gallup poll 35% identified themselves as “moderate.” Why do you think people in this group who don’t have a rigid position on AGW can’t be persuaded?

  152. > [T]hose who have a grasp of the problem should proceed in a serious way.

    Agreed. What’s missing from this claim for “Jim should be ashamed” to follow is an “only” somewhere. Naming and shaming is not that serious, or perhaps too serious (as in “esprit de sérieux”) to be taken seriously. I generally don’t mind much, but when it’s done while commenting on seriousness, something in me cringes.

    ***

    That Eli wins the thread with his communication efficiency illustrates my point very well.

    My own canned tweet to express my lack of concern is this one:

  153. AnOilMan says:

    Joke? I wish he denial community would stop committing faux pause….

    (Best I could do… kinda sleepy these days.)

  154. dana1981 says:

    Pekka, 97% comes from (1+2+3)/(1+2+3+5+6+7). The denominator includes papers that minimize AGW. For those who prefer to only consider explicit quantifications, in the self ratings 1/(1+7) = 96%. The sample size was small in the abstract ratings (75 abstracts in 1+7 vs. something like 250 self-rated papers), but 87% consensus there too.

  155. Joshua says:

    Joseph –

    First, even moderates lean and given the high level of polarization around climate change, the degree of identification with one side or the other seems pretty strong.

    Second, I’m not convinced about who can or can’t be persuaded – but I do question those who do seem confident not only that people can be persuaded, but that they know an effective way to do so, and further that consensus messaging has a clearly beneficial net benefit.

    JasonB says above:

    ==> “The real target that both sides are battling over is the large majority of the population for whom there are no idealogical barriers to accepting the science. ”

    Using the “Six Americas” framing – perhaps only the 6% who are “disengaged” are the ones who might be open to persuasion by “consensus” messaging – but maybe even they don’t really care enough to move one way or the other.

    Maybe the 67% who are “alarmed” “concerned” or “cautious” already identify ideologically and: (1) already know that there is a prevalence of view among climate scientists that believe that AGW explains more than 50% of recent warming and/or (2) think that the anthropogenic contribution risks harmful climate change. As such, they won’t have their views significantly altered by people telling them that there is a consensus because either they’re already concerned or they think that the risks posed by climate change are real, but too distant to their day-to-day to make them commit to mitigation-oriented policy (not something that the existence of a “consensus” speaks to directly).

    Maybe the 25% who comprise the “doubtful” and “dismissive” could hear about the “consensus” until the cows come home but they will dismiss any such claims as unpersuasive because (1) their identification leads them to do so or, (2) they don’t trust the source of the evidence of a “consensus” (not that those two lines of thinking are mutually exclusive).

  156. John Hartz says:

    Hot off the press and directly related the OP and this discussion thread…

    “Earlier this week, Dan Kahan published a blog post questioning the value of consensus messaging. He generously allowed me to publish a guest post, An “externally-valid” approach to consensus messaging, responding to his issues. For starters, I examine Dan’s idea that the consensus gap (the gap between public perception and the 97% consensus) is due to cultural cognition. I point out that there is a consensus gap even among liberals:”

    An externally-valid approach to consensus messaging by John Cook, Skeptical Science, June 30, 2014

  157. When the ratio is (1)+(2)+(3) over all papers, it does include also all papers that do not specify, how strong the warming is, also those which only imply acceptance of a human contribution that’s not minimal. The weakest case on the negative side is stated as “humans have had a minimal impact on global warming”.

    Based on those definitions, I cannot see anything wrong in my above criticism.

  158. Pekka,
    Let me ask you a question (and I’m king of hoping you’ll actually answer this one). Do you agree that a paper that uses results from a GCM endorses the consensus that most of the warming since 1950 is anthropogenic?

    If so, do you agree that it is possible to identify abstracts that implicitly endorse the consensus (i.e., they may not quantify it explicitly but it is clear from the abstract that what they’re doing is consistent with the consensus position and not some kind of lukewarmer position)?

  159. ATTP,

    Not necessarily. That may be the case, but a GCM may be used for other reasons as well.

    Once more: I do think that a great majority of climate scientists accepts IPCC estimates. Some consider them too low and some are likely to consider the low end of the range more likely, but in general I would expect wide acceptance of the IPCC estimates or something not far from those estimates.

    What I’m criticizing here as I have in other cases is the use of arguments that I don’t accept as valid. Typically my view is that those arguments add essentially nothing to what we think otherwise. They are consistent with earlier thinking, but they do not provide significant additional confirmation. They are used as proofs to be presented to those not as convinced before, but I consider them false proofs that should not be presented.

    To me the general understanding of climate is something obtained by combining a large amount of evidence, but evidence that is not structured in a way that would allow for an entirely objective use of the evidence. It’s too dispersed and sparse for that, and therefore dependent of subjective judgment.

  160. I never believed that a GCM could tell one anything over and above what some simple first-principles calculations could. As an example of something that is actually not easy to do with first-order approximation is the electronic band structure of a semiconductor, such as silicon.
    With that knowledge of how something that is seemingly so erratic may be the result of a mix of much less erratic periodic components, I give you the behavior of ENSO
    http://contextearth.com/2014/05/27/the-soim-differential-equation/
    This is still not trivial, but it can be described in a Wolfram Alpha one-liner.

    Climate is not some “angry beast” — it just looks like that to us ants. To an observer far away, the climate looks like a slight perturbation around a quiescent temperature point a few hundred kelvin above absolute zero.

  161. Pekka,
    This isn’t a complicated question. Please think about it a little longer. I’ll elaborate. As I understand it, there is no GCM today that suggest (with any certainty) that most of the warming since 1950 is NOT anthropogenic. Agreed? Therefore any study that uses a GCM (for any reason) is using something that implicitly endorses the consensus. Therefore, any study that uses a GCM (for any reason) is implicitly (or explicitly possibly) endorsing the consensing – whatever it is using that GCM for. Do you agree?

    You seem to be confusing a consensus study (which is simply an attempt to understand the level of agreement) and an attempt understand the strength of the evidence itself. The latter is essentially what the IPCC tries to do and – in an ideal world – is all we would need. We, however, don’t live in an ideal world.

    You’ve in the past accused me of making strawman arguments. I seriously suggest (assuming you’re intending to hold yourself to the same standards that you seem to require of others) that you consider that your arguments are verging on being strawman-like.

  162. I noticed that Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch don’t like at all the way their study on the level of consensus has been used by Bast and Spencer.

    http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.fi/2014/06/misrepresentation-of-bray-and-von.html#more

    It’s not easy to figure really out, how far the scientists agree, or where their disagreements are. It’s also typical of surveys that they get misinterpreted by various interested parties.

  163. ATTP,

    GCMs do many things. They are used to answer many different questions, They are known to be incomplete and fail on many details. When a scientists decides that it’s possible to learn something about a question he or she has in mind by the use of a GCM that does most definitely not imply any endorsement of other results obtained from the said model.

  164. Pekka,
    That doesn’t make any sense. How can you possibly argue that a paper that uses results from a GCM does not endorse the consensus (or, at least, that one cannot argue that it does). Think about it a little. You appear to both be making strawman arguments and dodging and it makes me think that maybe you should refrain – in furture – from criticising others.

  165. ATTP,

    To me your argument does not make any sense. How can you possibly argue as you do?

  166. Joshua says:

    Pekka –

    You say:

    ==> “When a scientists decides that it’s possible to learn something about a question he or she has in mind by the use of a GCM that does most definitely not imply any endorsement of other results obtained from the said model.

    We’re not just taking about using a GCM, but relying on the results of a GCM to write scientific paper.

    Are you saying that a scientist would use some of the results of a GCM when writing a paper even while considering other results of the GCM somehow as not scientifically valid? That seems very unlikely to me. Reliance on one aspect of a GCM’s results while considering other aspects of the GCM’s results as invalid would seem to necessarily have to be addressed in the discussion or stated as limitations. Perhaps such a discussion might be missing from the abstract.

  167. Pekka,
    Well, I guess I would ask the same of you, but I’d rather just give up. If you really think that a paper that uses a GCM (for whatever reason) is not a paper that can be regarded as endorsing the consensus, then you carry on believing that. I guess it’s possible that the authors actually think “well, I don’t believe that most of the warming since 1950 was anthropogenic, but all I have is data from this GCM – which suggests it was – and so I guess I’d better use it”. I have no interest in engaging in one of our lengthy and discussions about this. You carry on making whatever argument you like. I’ve rather lost interest.

  168. Michael 2 says:

    Unless I am really unique (possible), my doubt stems from a lack of challenge to the consensus — not the existence of a consensus per se, but a lack of challenge to the consensus view (or collectively the claims and policies).

    Deductive logic is compulsory (more or less), given an agreed-upon starting point (premise) and using proper logic, the conclusion is compelled.

    For instance, ATTP says that if the climate would naturally be cooling right now (lower solar input and end-of-Holocene decline), the fact of warming means the forcing is actually greater than would be the case in a stable climate. The conclusion is compelled. Of course, it isn’t clear that the climate should be cooling right now, but it is certainly plausible.

    Inductive logic is also used. That is when you see something (rising temperatures particularly if you baseline at 1970) and you guess at how it came to be. Testing the guess is not usually straightforward — the thing has already happened and what you see is the result.

    In theory a large, possibly infinite number of possibilities exists as to how a thing came to be including a “Matrix” like assertion that it doesn’t exist at all and you, right now, are only imagining that you are reading this comment (“Bacon’s Problem” if I remember right).

    This is also where Occam’s Razor kicks in and you decide that Martians are not shining a heat-ray at Earth and you choose not to spend much money or time proving that Martians do not exist.

    But that creates a wee bit of confirmation bias. You look for a thing (a bear), you find the thing (a small brown bear), and you feel vindicated and stop looking — alas, just around the corner is the big Mama bear. You should not have stopped looking.

    What I don’t know, and that’s why I have not taken a side, is how stringent have been the efforts to disprove the prevailing view. If the prevailing views resist challenge for a long time, they can stand as essentially proven (maybe some undiscovered nuances exist).

    How long? Plate Tectonics was in dispute for 50 years and it was never controversial, near as I can tell. No one stood to make, or lose, billions of dollars on the outcome.

  169. Michael,
    But lots of things are in dispute. Much of the details are still uncertain. Also, even things like climate sensitivity has a large uncertainty range, but most scientists would argue that ECS is probably not less than 2 degrees and that most of the effects that we have yet to experience will likely make it larger, rather than smaller. So, you should consider that much work is still ongoing, it’s just that noone credible really think that continuing to increase our emissions will not cause temperatures to rise and to rise to levels never before experienced by the human species and that it ill likely (almost certainly) have damaging impacts.

  170. Models are used, when they are consider fit to the purpose. It’s very common in all fields, where complex models are used that it’s known that the models fail badly in some other use.

    We know that climate models fail to produce correct regional results. that does not stop their use for something else. The same applies to the climate sensitivity of the model when it’s used for something not directly linked to climate sensitivity.

    That’s fully normal in science.

  171. Pekka,
    Yes, all of that is true and – as I can see it – rather irrelevant to what we are discussing. I guess, though, if you want to believe that someone who wants to study the orbits of satellites around the Earth won’t necessarily accept that the same equations can be used to describe the orbit of the Moon around the Sun, don’t let me stop you.

    Anyway, let’s leave this because it’s rather going in circles.

  172. dana1981 says:

    Pekka,

    “When the ratio is (1)+(2)+(3) over all papers, it does include also all papers that do not specify, how strong the warming is, also those which only imply acceptance of a human contribution that’s not minimal. The weakest case on the negative side is stated as “humans have had a minimal impact on global warming”.

    Based on those definitions, I cannot see anything wrong in my above criticism.”

    There are two things.

    1) You seem to be applying your own definition of “minimal.” Our defintion was a paper implicitly or explicitly stating that the human contribution to global warming since 1950 is < 50%. If you're assuming a different definition of 'minimal', that's the first thing you've got wrong.

    2) You're still ignoring the 96% consensus among papers that explicitly quantified AGW.

  173. Dana,
    I presume you mean > 50% 🙂

  174. ATTP,
    Weather models are in many ways similar to climate models, in some cases they share common code. Weather models would, however, not necessarily work as climate models even with infinite computing power. GCMs are built and tested using specific procedures. They involve semiempirical parameterizations of many small scale phenomena. The resulting climate sensitivity depends on various properties and input to the models.

    Much of the use of models in research involves comparison of model runs done using different input for some factor. Such comparisons may be considered useful even, when it’s known that all runs fail on some point. It’s not at all uncommon that a model is used that’s otherwise much worse than other existing models.

    It’s really not possible to conclude that the scientist who uses a model thinks that the model is more generally correct. The only claim stated explicitly or implied is that the model is judged useful for the particular purpose.

  175. Pekka,
    I really don’t know what to say to you about this. The equations and assumptions in a standard GCM when applied to the period 1950 – now would produce a result that suggested that most of the warming is anthropogenic. If someone uses the same set of equations for something different, that doesn’t mean that these equations would no longer produce results that suggested that most of the warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. Whether the person who uses the equations for the latter use knows this or not, is rather irrelevant. They are using something that effectively endorses the consensus.

    Can I ask you a favour though. This is turning into one of those remarkably irritating discussions that we seem to have regularly now. I’m finding it incredibly frustrating. Please don’t make another comment about this until you’ve actually thought about it and read my other comments again. And, if I was you, I would take that to mean, don’t make another comment for a large number of hours.

  176. Michael 2 says:

    WebHubTelescope says: “I give you the behavior of ENSO
    http://contextearth.com/2014/05/27/the-soim-differential-equation/

    Very interesting and some good discussion follows on that page. I’ve bookmarked the page and have been following FFT and Wavelet attempts to do that very same thing.

    I take issue with this red herring that reveals your confirmation bias: “and BTW, one of those models deemed not to exist by the climate science deniers.”

    Oh? Can you name a single person that says your model does not exist? I can see where a few billion people don’t know of its existence but that’s not quit the same as denying its existence.

  177. Joshua says:

    Pekka –

    ==> “We know that climate models fail to produce correct regional results. that does not stop their use for something else. The same applies to the climate sensitivity of the model when it’s used for something not directly linked to climate sensitivity.”

    You’re pretty familiar with a lot of articles related to climate science. Can you cite a couple where the results of climate models are used, but where an assumption of implicit endorsement of GCM results showing a greater than 50% would not be justified?

    I don’t think that anyone is arguing that reliance on GCM results in a paper implies the acceptance by the author that all results from all GCMs are accurate.

  178. @Wotts
    I’m with Pekka.

    Much GCM work has little to do with detection and attribution of climate change, and many of the researchers involved would not feel comfortable taking a position on other people’s research just because they share a toolkit.

  179. Michael 2 says:

    Re: Dana “definition of ‘minimal.’ Our defintion was a paper implicitly or explicitly stating that the human contribution to global warming since 1950 is < 50%."

    Thank you — I didn't actually know (or I didn't remember it from the paper although it's probably there) — this is a generous definition for minimal. Anything deemed greater than minimal must therefore be substantial and significant.

  180. Richard,
    And, as with Pekka, you appear to entirely miss the point and clearly do not understand the word “endorse”. Are you really sure you’ve read and understood Cook et al. From what you said in your Guardian article and in the comments there, it really seems that you don’t.

    Oh, and this is not about the position the other researchers take. They don’t really have much choice. It’s not about them. It’s about the model they’re choosing to use, unless you’re actually suggesting that researchers could really say “I’m going to use this model for my project, but I do not endorse any of the other results from this model”. That would seem remarkably unscientific, if so.

  181. Richard,
    While you’re here. What happened to your Twitter account a few days ago? Did you finally say something so outrageously rude that your account got suspended? If so, I’ve love to know what it was. It must have been a cracker.

  182. Joshua,

    I don’t think that anyone is arguing that reliance on GCM results in a paper implies the acceptance by the author that all results from all GCMs are accurate.

    Exactly.

  183. Richard Tol, you just submitted a paper that argues that the Cook data are inconsistent and invalid, and you claimed to find an extra ~300 rejection abstracts that either explicitly or implicitly argued that the human contribution to global warming since 1950 is < 50%.

    A careful scientist would, of course, be able to list these papers. Otherwise their reputation would be in tatters. Could you please list those extra ~300 rejection abstracts you found in the Cook sample?

  184. Could you please list those extra ~300 rejection abstracts you found in the Cook sample?

    And maybe also explain how, by your own reasoning, there would have been -500 reject abstracts prior to the first round of error correction. That sounds a little nonsensical to me, but maybe you can convince me that it makes sense.

  185. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP — I actually agree with you on this: “rise to levels never before experienced by the human species and that it ill likely (almost certainly) have damaging impacts.”

    I’ll admit to enjoying a bit of squirming among the hoity-toity as they explain where the heat went and I expect it likely that it’s a sine-on-a-slope and will likely resume with a vengeance, probably as a perverse side effect of the Chinese cleaning up their power plants.

    Please do not confuse my caution regarding public policy with disputes about specific research.

  186. dhogaza says:

    Michael 2:

    “Inductive logic is also used. That is when you see something (rising temperatures particularly if you baseline at 1970) and you guess at how it came to be. Testing the guess is not usually straightforward — the thing has already happened and what you see is the result.”

    You don’t know much about the history of climate science, do you?

  187. dhogaza says:

    Not to mention that you have the same misunderstanding as Watts does of the effect of changing baselines on trend calculations (i.e. zero).

  188. dana1981 says:

    Hah, I’m guessing that’s the last we’ll hear from Richard here 🙂

    Michael 2, this is the definition of Cat 5 (implicit minimization/rejection) in Table 2 of our paper:

    “Implies humans have had a minimal impact on global warming without saying so explicitly E.g., proposing a natural mechanism is the main cause of global warming”

    Key word being ‘main’. Other than that, we weren’t particularly explicit about what qualified as ‘minimal’, but that’s the definition we were using in our ratings, because > 50% is the IPCC consensus position (and yes ATTP, minimal is < 50% human contribution to AGW since 1950).

  189. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    Presumably, like Pekka, you are also familiar with quite a few published articles on the topic of climate change. Can you cite a couple where the results of climate models are used, but where an assumption of an implicit endorsement (by the article’s author) of GCM results showing a greater than 50% anthropogenic contribution to climate change would not be justified?

    Surely, with the amount of time you’ve spent exploring the methodology of Cook et al., at least one or two would have caught your attention? If you come with one or two you think might fit the description, maybe we could contact the authors to see if whether they reject the extremely likely > 50% attribution.

    We’ll see if Pekka can think of any, but I would have to wonder whether – if you and Pekka can’t come up with any between the two of you (given the familiarity that each of you has with the literature) there might just not be many of them about?

  190. Rob Painting says:

    Dana, I think you’re forgetting Tol’s behaviour on the comments section of his post at The Guardian, and at his own blog. He simply ignores legitimate questions about his work, even when he participates in the comments thread.

    That’s fine if you expect people to accept what you say without question, but if he expects to be taken seriously outside his small band of followers, he going to have to explain the justification for conjuring up 300 rejection papers from thin air in his recent paper submitted to Energy Policy.

  191. JasonB says:

    Joshua:

    Using the “Six Americas” framing – perhaps only the 6% who are “disengaged” are the ones who might be open to persuasion by “consensus” messaging – but maybe even they don’t really care enough to move one way or the other.

    As I already explained when we were discussing the Yale studies:

    I mis-remembered the significance of the Disengaged, though; they’re actually only 5%, whereas the Alarmed (16%), Concerned (26%), and Cautious (25%) collectively form a strong majority of 2/3 of the American population. “Dismissives”, by comparison, represent just 13%, despite appearing to account for a much larger proportion of the elected conservative party members in both Australia and the US.

    But my point stands — there’s no point wasting time trying to convince those who have proven themselves impervious to reason; we just need to convince the Concerned and Cautious, who have no a-priori reason to disbelieve the science but who have perhaps been mislead about the certainty of the science due to the media portrayal.

    Figure 5 of the 2012 report summarises nicely the point I was getting at; 37% of the Concerned and 46% of the Cautious think there is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether global warming is even happening! Given that they are already Concerned/Cautious even with that misunderstanding, it seems that papers like Cook et al have a good chance of making those two groups in particular — representing 55% of the population — more engaged and maybe, just maybe, reduce the discrepancy in representation between conservative politicians and the wider population.

    In other words, I think the only reason that Dismissives have been so successful in gaining parliamentary representation way beyond their relative proportion is because they are very politically engaged and the silent majority hasn’t noticed or cared enough to do anything about it.

    (Emphasis added.)

    In other words, given that there are a large percentage of the population who are already concerned or cautious despite a sizeable number of them not realising the level of agreement among the relevant scientists, there’s a good chance that knowing the truth will cause them to be more alarmed and more politically engaged and maybe take back control from the tiny proportion of ideologues who have managed to gain such influence to date that e.g. even conservative politicians in the US who actually accept the science have to declare loudly that they do not if they want preselection.

    I note that you’ve expressed doubt in that view multiple times but I haven’t seen anything that might pass as an argument in support of that doubt so I’m unconvinced that my intuition, which happens to agree with the peer-reviewed literature cited earlier, is incorrect.

  192. JasonB says:

    Pekka:

    I criticize the paper for its use, because I’m about 97% sure that what I describe in my comment was intentional. I don’t believe that the paper was written thinking that 97% of papers agree at the level on which Lindzen, Christy, and Spencer agree. To me such an alternative is not credible. it’s even less credible taking into account other activities of the principal author, ant the way it was presented by them.

    I do really think that this was an intentional trick.

    You are wrong about Lindzen, Christy, and Spencer, and that is trivial to check because you only have to search the online database to see how their papers were rated:

    Lindzen: 4 papers: 1 x level 3, 1 x level 5, 2 x level 6.

    If we are to conflate scientists with their publications, I doubt one “implicit endorsement” is sufficient to elevate someone into the 97% given an implicit rejection and two explicit rejections.

    Christy: 5 papers: 3 x level 4, 2 x level 5.

    The only papers that take a position on the issue implicitly reject it.

    Spencer: 5 papers: 4 x level 4, 1 x level 5.

    The only paper that takes a position on the issue implicitly rejects it.

    So, they are clearly not in the 97%, despite you claiming “A threshold was selected that’s passed by everything except most absurd crackpot material acceptable only to the worst journals that can make a claim of peer review.” I’m sure Lindzen, Christy, and Spencer would object to your characterisation of their work.

    What’s interesting, however, that not only do you think Cook and his co-authors have misrepresented their paper (when, clearly, you have), you then accuse them of deliberately setting out to do so. As far as I can see, they are innocent of the allegations you have made, but you’ve gone even further and convinced yourself of their intentions. That would seem to say a lot more about you then about Cook and his co-authors.

  193. Joshua says:

    JasonB –

    So according to that evidence, 37% of 26%, and 46% of 25% = @ 21% of the public who fit into those categories despite not realizing the level of agreement among relevant scientists.

    You say that there’s a good chance that knowing the truth will cause them to be more alarmed and politically engaged and take back control from “dismissives.”

    Well, I’m dubious that moving them from, say, a view that 40%-60% of the relevant scientists are in agreement to a view that 97% are in agreement will occur for all of that 21% simply from hearing more that there is a 97% consensus (particularly given that they will hear the “consensus” messaging in a polarized context along with many conflicting messages). Further, I doubt that moving from the 40%-60% view to a 97% view will, as a single changed variable, move all of that 21%from the “concerned” and “cautious” category into the “alarmed” category.

    But suppose I’m wrong. Would moving some 21% more of the public from the “concerned” and “cautious” categories into the “alarmed” category move the needle in terms of policy development? Could be. Seeing as how it’s not likely that the “consensus” messaging is going to let up, I hope that you’re right.

  194. John Hartz says:

    Michael2: You began a comment upstream by stating:

    Unless I am really unique (possible), my doubt stems from a lack of challenge to the consensus — not the existence of a consensus per se, but a lack of challenge to the consensus view (or collectively the claims and policies).

    Unless your statement is part of an elaborate ruse on your part to come across as a sincere bloke who’s just raising “insightful” questions, you lack a basic understanding of how what is now defined as a consensus among scientists has come about over recent decades. In other words, the challenges to what is now the “consensus” occurred years ago.

    Given your political ideology, I suspect you are intentionally raising a red herring as a ruse.

  195. Joshua says:

    JasonB –

    Apologies – upon rereading I see that my version of your argument was exaggerated. You didn’t say they would move into the “alarmed” category or that they would adopt a 97% consensus view – only that they would move in those directions.

  196. I will pile on Pekka as well. The only way a GCM would show cooling is if they parameterized the model so that extra atmospheric CO2 would lead to cooling. But if some researcher did this to a GCM and tried to publish it, the paper would be rejected because it introduced an invalid premise.
    And that is what I think AT is getting at when he says that “Therefore any study that uses a GCM (for any reason) is using something that implicitly endorses the consensus. “

    How exactly could it not? As Andrew Lacis is fond of pointing out, it is the external forcing perturbations that drive the global temperature trend in a GCM, not some emergent “wild beast” behavior.

  197. A GCM codifies a large body of research. GCMs are large, complex models. The fact that someone chose to work, perhaps incentivized by a grant, on a small part of that model, reveals no information about their opinion on the other parts of the model.

  198. Jason B writes: “What’s interesting, however, that not only do you [pekka] think Cook and his co-authors have misrepresented their paper (when, clearly, you have), you then accuse them of deliberately setting out to do so. As far as I can see, they are innocent of the allegations you have made, but you’ve gone even further and convinced yourself of their intentions.

    It is at this point, where confident belief runs into contrary facts, that you find out whether the dialogue has been between parties interested in truth, knowledge, and understanding or whether one side has been playing a masquerade.

    pekka, it’s time to step up and admit that what you believed was wrong.

  199. Susan Anderson says:

    These tactics are as old as the hills. No doubt the cavemen figured out how to distract from the truth way back when. Schopenhauer nailed it in 1831, anyway, a long way after the cave people:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Art_of_Being_Right

    Reasonable intelligent people need to stop letting their intrinsic fairness be used against them.

  200. Richard,

    reveals no information about their opinion on the other parts of the model.

    Maybe you could actually think about this for a little longer. It’s really not complicated. The opinion of the researcher is irrelevant. If they choose to use a GCM they’re endorsing the consensus, whether they like it or not.

  201. Again, Richard Tol, you just submitted a paper that argues that the Cook data are inconsistent and invalid, and you claimed to find an extra ~300 rejection abstracts that either explicitly or implicitly argued that the human contribution to global warming since 1950 is < 50%.

    A careful scientist would, of course, be able to list these papers. Otherwise their reputation would be in tatters. Could you please list those extra ~300 rejection abstracts you found in the Cook sample?

  202. Dana,
    Yes, sorry I misunderstood what you meant. I thought you meant the minimum endorse position, rather than the reject position.

    Susan,
    Thanks for the comment. Maybe easier said than done?

  203. Since I’ve managed to have a good night’s sleep, maybe I should respond more to what Pekka’s been saying. The issue I’m having with our discussion is that you’re saying things that I agree with. Nothing I’m saying (or that is addressed in the consensus project) is about whether the consensus position is right or wrong. Similarly, I’m not arguing that GCMs are right, I’m simply pointing out (as others have too) that there is no GCM that would produce results suggesting that the warming since 1950 was NOT mostly anthropogenic. Hence, anyone who uses a GCM (for any reason) is effectively – in my opinion – endorsing the consensus.

    So, if you do want to continue this in any way, can you at least indicate that you understand what I’m saying. Simply saying something about how GCMs work and whether they’re “right” or not, is not addressing the point. I agree with all of what you’ve said about GCMs, I just don’t see how it’s relevant. I also don’t really see the point of continuing a discussion where you repeat things that I will likely agree with, but which don’t address the issue we’re discussing.

  204. @Wotts
    I’ve worked with GCMs. Never felt like an act of endorsement. I was interested in changes in water resources with and without routing.

  205. Richard,
    It doesn’t matter what you felt. What you felt has no bearing on whether or not the GCM you used would have produced results suggesting that most of the warming since 1950 was anthropogenic. That’s the beauty of science. What you feel has no bearing on the results you get. Is that not the case in economics too?

  206. In search for an example I started from A, or actually Annan. The first paper that was given rating at level 4 is J.C. Hargreaves, J.D. Annan: Using ensemble prediction methods to examine regional climate variation under global warming scenarios

    From the full paper we can read:

    In this paper we do not aim to make a confident prediction of the effect of anthropogenic forcing on the THC—indeed, given the limitations of the model and intractability of the problem, it will be clear that we cannot give such a prediction.

    They continue:

    Rather we wish to illustrate the range of behaviours present in an ensemble where all members are well-tuned to present day conditions and also we also aim to give some guide as to the magnitude of error in prediction that may be incurred by using an ensemble that is not well-tuned.

    That’s exactly what I have been claiming. Models are used without endorsement of their value in estimating rate of warming.

    This is really ubiquitous. I would guess that most of the papers where models are used fall in this category, if not most, then at least a very sizable fraction. Most scientific papers try to isolate the question being studied as far as possible in order to maximize the generality of the results.

    It’s mostly not possible to categorize papers as endorsing the view that most of warming is of human origin unless they state that. Thus I cannot believe that this criteria has really been applied for levels 2 and 3.

    (The level 6 ratings of two papers of Lindzen and the level 5 ratings of papers by Christy and Spencer are also very questionable based on the declared criteria, but changing these ratings would only increase the percentage up from 97%. In all these cases the alternative would be level 4, unless the criteria are modified to say that even looking at the possibility of relatively low sensitivity or negative feedbacks means minimizing or rejecting AGW.)

  207. Pekka,

    Models are used without endorsement of their value in estimating rate of warming.

    Again, I think that’s irrelevant.

  208. Dana,

    I have made another attempt to find, where your material says that levels (2) and (3) refer to more than 50% AGW or that minimal impact refers to less than 50%. All that I can find are the stated definitions of the levels, which by my reading tell something totally different. They seem to tell that “minimal” is what people usually understand by “minimal”, i.e. only a small fraction of base level.

    The definitions of levels (2) and (3) cover a far wider range, and the examples given make that even more clear. To me it seems obvious that the 97% must include mostly papers that do not indicate what the authors think about climate sensitivity or share of AGW. For other reasons I do believe that most (or almost all) of the authors would accept the classification of mostly AGW, but that’s not stated or implied in the papers.

    I remain in the belief that your paper cannot tell much about that.

    I would have been curious to see the papers of categories (1) and (7), but couldn’t figure out a way of finding them as such a search is not supported by the search engine.

  209. ATTP,

    If that’s irrelevant then why so many have asked me for an example.

  210. Pekka,
    Because I don’t think that the example you gave is a good example. It’s a paper that’s trying to understand the range of behaviours or GCMs, all of which – I think – produce results that suggest that most of the warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. Even though the paper says

    In this paper we do not aim to make a confident prediction of the effect of anthropogenic forcing on the THC

    it does not – in my opinion – mean that we can’t regard this as being a paper that effectively endorses the consensus. It’s doesn’t have to say “we endorse the consensus”, it’s using models that represent the consensus position. Remember, that we’re not using endorse here to mean “the consensus is right” or to mean that the authors would do so. We’re trying to determine the level of agreement in the literature and I fail to see how this paper isn’t one that hasn’t effectively taken some kind of position.

    Having said that, I’ve now explained my position a number of times so if it’s still not clear or you still disagree (which is, of course, fine) I think I’d really rather just leave it at that.

  211. Here are the abstract ratings, which can be used to sort abstracts like this:

    grep ‘[123].$’ erl460291datafile.txt > all_endorsements
    grep ‘[567].$’ erl460291datafile.txt > all_rejections

    grep ‘[1].$’ erl460291datafile.txt > explicit_endorsements
    grep ‘[7].$’ erl460291datafile.txt > explicit_rejections

    For extra credit, read through the explicit_rejections papers until they tell a consistent, physically plausible story. Or until your head explodes from all the self-contradictions. Whichever comes first.

    Again, why won’t Richard Tol release his data showing the extra ~300 rejection abstracts? He testified before the U.S. Congress at the invitation of Republicans who used his claims to manufacture even more unwarranted doubt about climate science. Surely Anthony Watts or The Auditor will FOIA Richard Tol into releasing his data showing the extra ~300 rejection abstracts. After all, the data Richard Tol refuses to release would disprove Cook et al. 2013. Right?

  212. ATTP,

    You should not add anything to a scientific paper. The proper way of writing and reading scientific papers is to be explicit on everything, and not to read anything between the lines.

    When a paper does not mention something, it does not endorse it. Of course, it does not reject it either.

    In this case the paper is explicit in stating that the model cannot predict the effect of anthropogenic forcing on THC, because THC is what’s being studied. To what extent that’s due to not being able to determine climate sensitivity is not discussed, but part of the uncertainties of the model predictions are probably related to that. In any case the paper does not make statements on that and does not imply anything on that.

    Accepting my interpretation of level 3, this paper belongs to level 3. Using the interpretation Dana has presented above in this thread it does not. After my additional reading, my present view is that Dana’s interpretation is in direct conflict with the actual research. If the people doing the assessments have used one explicit definition, the definition cannot be reinterpreted afterwards as Dana seems to be doing.

  213. Pekka,
    Firstly, I’m not adding anything to a paper. I’m also not reading between the lines. I’m not claiming that this paper is saying anything that it isn’t. The papers are not being rated on what they say, but on whether they endorse, reject, or take no position with respect to the AGW consensus. I’m suggesting that the paper you’ve highlighted, takes a position (i.e., it is trying to understand GCMs all of which are consistent with the consensus position). Again, I think you’re completely missing the point of the consensus project and what it was trying to illustrate (and it would be nice if you could maybe illustrate that you’ve at least given this possibility a little thought). That is, however, my opinion. I will add that rating these papers is not an exact art and I can certainly see how one could have rated this as a 3, rather than a 4. I, however, have presented an argument as to why it could be rated as a 4. You appear, very obviously, to disagree. I, however, plan to leave it at that.

  214. Pekka,
    Okay, hold on, I’ve been confused. You think Annan & Hargreaves should be 3, rather than 4? If so, I agree. What are we arguing about? I immediately read it as endorsing the consensus and assumed you were arguing against that (my bad for not reading your comment more carefully). It seems to have been rated as “no position”, according to your earlier comment. I think it’s an example of what I’ve been trying to illustrate. As I said above, though, rating abstracts isn’t an exact art and – as I understand it – there are some who think the raters were too conservative.

  215. jsam says:

    Free the Tol 300!

  216. In fact, he really just needs to free the 1 that he has a good chance of finding if he were to rate a random sample of 50 abstracts.

  217. @Wotts
    So, if I understand you correctly, implicit endorsement is by association? Once upon a time, I dated a girl who later worked at CERN. Does that mean that I endorse the Higgs boson?

  218. Richard,
    I doubt you understand me. I don’t know if dating a girl who later worked at CERN means that you would have some understanding of the Higgs Boson, but it might explain why she decided to move to Geneva 🙂 . I’m also not sure what “endorse the Higgs Boson” means. If you think it means something and is somehow relevant to our current discussion, that may explain your confusion.

  219. ATTP,
    To make it completely clear:

    That paper of Hargreaves and Annan is based on accepting some warming from added GHGs.

    It’s not dependent on the value of climate sensitivity or share of AGW in recent warming.

    It belongs to level 3, when that is defined as stated:

    Implies humans are causing global warming. E.g., research assumes greenhouse gas emissions cause warming without explicitly stating humans are the cause

    It does not belong to level 3, if we accept what Dana wrote above:

    1) You seem to be applying your own definition of “minimal.” Our defintion was a paper implicitly or explicitly stating that the human contribution to global warming since 1950 is < 50%. If you're assuming a different definition of 'minimal', that's the first thing you've got wrong.

    I do think that what Dana wrote is not true. That’s quite amazing taking into account that he is one of the authors. Their definition was evidently not what he claims, it must have been what’s written in the paper and what can be found from their consensus project pages.

  220. Pekka,
    To be honest, I think that this discussion is starting to really just go in circles. I’ve certainly started to get confused about what you’re saying (and have become rather confused about what I’m saying, to be completely honest) and have no real interest in trying to work it out. In my opinion this discussion has run its course. I do think, however, that you need to consider categories 1, 2, and 3 in light of the definition of categories 5, 6, and 7 under the assumption that no abstract can have more than one rating. But I’ll leave you to think about that.

  221. jsam says:

    I think the implication of Richard dating is that he likes women.

  222. ATTP,

    I agree that there seems to be no hope that we get any closer in our thinking. Your latest comment changes nothing in that. I have already considered all that as well.

    My comments have been a little confusing at one point, because I erred in thinking that Dana tells correct information about their project. Then I looked at the project material and paper once more and found out that his claims contradict all that.

  223. “A threshold was selected that’s passed by everything except most absurd crackpot material acceptable only to the worst journals that can make a claim of peer review.”

    It would be nice nice if this was seen as a absurd position, but the large number of category 4 and 5 blogs of the list at GlobalWarmingSolved support this position. There is a consensus within the Tea Party Conservatives in the USA that supports this position. And a number of social scientists seem to be unable to distinguish between the position and science.

    You could make another study, with other questions, but that would simply be another study that studies another question. I am sure that it is possible to come up with a question that is only supported by 50% of climate scientists, especially if you start introducing vague and political terms. But that is all just another study and not a refutation of the current one.
    .

    JWhite, yes just because there is a consensus that does not mean that it has to be right. The discussion here is about the question, whether there is a consensus. The weight of the evidence is discussed in books, textbook, the IPCC reports and if you have even more time in the scientific articles.

    The weight of the evidence is much stronger in climate science as in nutritional science, you are referring to. Human bodies are too complicated to say something based on first principles; comparing arteries to plumbing as an argument against eating fat is horribly unscientific. And we cannot make experiments where we feed humans various diets over at least 2 generation, which would be needed for solid advice. The experiments typically only take a few weeks at best and the rest are observational studies, which are suggestive, but not conclusive. And we would not only have to change the diet, but also many other aspects of the life styles.

    No matter how well they work, the nutritional sciences can never give more than just educated guesses. I feel they should be more honest about that. Their advice on diet and lifestyle is clearly overconfident. In communicating to the general public you have to simplify your message, but someone looking for the information should be able to get a fair judgement of the weight of the evidence. I am missing an IPCC report for the nutritional sciences.
    .

    I guess you can make a study using a GCM without endorsement of the consensus. I worked on improving the radiative transfer in a weather prediction model, that is also used as regional climate model, and I would not say that doing this means that I support the consensus or that my papers on it do so. Given that the papers in the consensus project also mention global warming or climate change in their abstracts, I would expect that such cases are very rare in the Cook et al dataset and I do not expect that this invalidates their results.

    Any scientific paper is imperfect and suggests things we could do better. The normal response is to try to estimate how important the imperfections are rather than to relentlessly attack a paper (and often paradoxically simultaneously acknowledge that the result is about right). The relentless attacks should be reserved for the cases where you can proof that the imperfection has serious consequences.

    Free the Tol 300!

  224. Pekka,
    Indeed. I might add that maybe you should consider the meaning of the word “causing”.

    I erred in thinking that Dana tells correct information about their project.

    I was going to say something about what you’ve said here, but I think I’ll just leave it. Probably best not to say any more. Maybe you could consider doing the same.

  225. Joshua says:

    Pekka –

    Thanks for the example. I still don’t quite understand your reasoning, however.

    From your example:

    In this paper we do not aim to make a confident prediction of the effect of anthropogenic forcing on the THC—indeed, given the limitations of the model and intractability of the problem, it will be clear that we cannot give such a prediction.

    I think that there is some ambiguity there. As far as I can tell, from that statement alone, it is possible to speculate that the authors think that it is not extremely (or very, depending on when the article was published) likely that the contribution of ACO2 to recent warming is > 50%.

    But let me ask you whether or not you think such speculation would be validated if the authors were questioned? I was asking you for an example where you think that an assumption of endorsement of extremely likely > 50% would not be justified.

    Of course, there are two ways to look at “justification” there. One is in a more theoretical sense. In other words, it would be theoretically possible that such an assumption would not be valid. Maybe your example fits that qualification.

    The other is in a more practical sense, and that is the one that I’m more interested in. Can you cite a real world example of a paper that relies on the results of GCMs, and for which an assumption of endorsement of a very likely >50 ACO2 contribution to warming would turn out to be wrong because, in fact, the authors did not agree that it is very/extremely likely that ACO2 has contributed > 50% to recent warming?

    Keep in mind that Richard has concluded that:

    “Published papers that seek to test what caused the climate change over the last century and half, almost unanimously find that humans played a dominant role.”

    IMO, the theoretical possibility of being wrong isn’t meaningless, but what’s true in the real world is also important. If between you and Richard you can’t come up with some examples where an assumption of endorsement would be invalidated, I think that has real world implications.

  226. Victor,
    I think we should start a freetheTol300 hashtag on Twitter.

  227. JasonB says:

    Pekka,

    The level 6 ratings of two papers of Lindzen and the level 5 ratings of papers by Christy and Spencer are also very questionable based on the declared criteria, but changing these ratings would only increase the percentage up from 97%. In all these cases the alternative would be level 4, unless the criteria are modified to say that even looking at the possibility of relatively low sensitivity or negative feedbacks means minimizing or rejecting AGW.

    Previously you claimed that the authors of Cook et al had misrepresented their findings (even claiming they deliberately set out to do so) based on your interpretation of their rating scheme.

    You were told that you were wrong in your interpretation, and examples of papers that were classified as rejecting the consensus were provided.

    You now claim that, according to your interpretation of the rating scheme, those papers should not have been rated as rejecting the consensus.

    Yet clearly they were.

    This is consistent with what you have been told about how the authors of Cook et al applied their own rating scheme that they devised.

    It is also consistent with how those same authors have been promoting the paper.

    So, either they interpreted their own rating scheme they devised “wrongly” in these particular cases, and intentionally misrepresented the results of their paper

    -or-

    You interpreted the rating scheme they devised wrongly, these papers were classified by Cook et al correctly according to their rating scheme, and their promotion of the results of the paper have been correct.

    It seems to me that you owe somebody an apology.

    Two more misunderstandings you have that I’ll briefly mention:

    1. The Annan paper must be rated by using the abstract alone, not the content. I would also rate it as implicit endorsement based on the abstract.

    2. Your new claims that Dana is misrepresenting the rating system are also wrong. You need to look at all of the levels together, and remember that only one may apply in any given case. If a paper says anything that can be interpreted as level 5 or 6, then it cannot be a level 3.

  228. This is my last comment to this discussion, unless something comes out that I feel that I must answer to.

    My statements about views of Lindzen, Spencer, and Christy was based on what I have elsewhere learned about their present and recent thinking and on the definitions of the levels as found in the paper of Cook et al and on the web site. Based on that I do think that their views fall rather on the positive side than on the negative.

    I continue to believe that the only logical interpretation of the definitions of levels 2, 3, 5, and 6 is the one I had originally before being confused by Dana. All the contributors saw these definitions, and the examples given for each level as far as I understand. Based on that I see only one possible interpretation. Minor nuances in interpretation do certainly vary from reader to reader, but I cannot see any possibility for accepting the claim of Dana in this thread.

    That well known skeptics end easily up in levels 5 and 6 is understandable, but there are also some funny cases. Nicolas Scafetta has papers both in level 1 and in level 7. The paper of level 1 is also one of the main inputs to another paper of the same year that got classified to level 5 based largely on that particular data, but with a little different formulation of the text of the abstract. That tells about the reliability of the classification. This came out, when I checked, which papers got into levels 1 and 7. This check raised also many other questions, but I don’t plan to continue on this.

  229. Pekka,
    Here’s – I think – the abstract of the Scafetta paper that was rated as 1.

    We study the role of solar forcing on global surface
    temperature during four periods of the industrial era (1900–
    2000, 1900–1950, 1950–2000 and 1980–2000) by using a
    sun-climate coupling model based on four scale-dependent
    empirical climate sensitive parameters to solar variations.
    We use two alternative total solar irradiance satellite
    composites, ACRIM and PMOD, and a total solar
    irradiance proxy reconstruction. We estimate that the sun
    contributed as much as 45–50% of the 1900–2000 global
    warming, and 25–35% of the 1980–2000 global warming.
    These results, while confirming that anthropogenic-added
    climate forcing might have progressively played a dominant
    role in climate change during the last century, also suggest
    that the solar impact on climate change during the same
    period is significantly stronger than what some theoretical
    models have predicted.

    I’ll make two points.

    1. The raters had to base their ratings on what was said in the abstract only.
    2. Rating an abstract on the basis of the authors would – I think we might agree – be wrong. I also believe that the ratings were done without knowledge of the authors.

    I”ll leave it up to everyone to decide if this abstract endorses the consensus position and quantifies it (or, if we’re being open minded, that an argument could be made in favour of this endorsement rating).

  230. As some kind of answer to Joshua’s latest comment I break my above promise by this.

    I have written above:

    I do consider the IPCC statements that most of warming since 1950s is AGW well justified, and I have argued for that immediately after publication of the report.

    and

    I do think that a great majority of climate scientists accepts IPCC estimates. Some consider them too low and some are likely to consider the low end of the range more likely, but in general I would expect wide acceptance of the IPCC estimates or something not far from those estimates.

    But I have written also

    That has worked, but that’s disingenuous. For some it’s fine that the trick works and the cause is noble, for me it’s not.

    and

    I’m a bit purist in thinking that science wins best in the long run, when it’s not pushed too hard, and in ways not acceptable in purely scientific connections.

    I hope you can figure out the way I think. If not, further explanations are unlikely to help.

  231. Pekka,
    I have never doubted that you hold the position that you claim to hold. I just don’t understand why that requires that you take the position that you have about the consensus project. Having said that, I don’t want you to explain. All I wanted to do with this comment is acknowledge that any disagreement that we might have is not because I think you hold an in-defensible position with respect to the science.

  232. Tom Curtis says:

    I am finding this discussion very fascinating for the way it reveals Pekka’s true colours. Apparently he is prepared to turn a blind eye to any evidence in order to undermine any strong consensus claim, no matter how well evidenced – and to make baseless accusations of scientific fraud and dishonesty in lieu of providing substantive evidence for his views.

    At least after this discussion, nobody here will mistake him for a disinterested seeker after truth.

  233. John Hartz says:

    Tom Curtis: My sentiments exactly. Thank you for you for posting.

  234. JasonB says:

    I can’t help noticing how those who argue strongly against Cook et al seem the least knowledgeable about how it was conducted.

    It wasn’t a survey of scientist’s opinions, it was a survey of the scientific literature. The fact that that papers by well-known “skeptical” scientists like Lindzen, Spencer, and Christy ended up in the “rejection” category despite the fact that the reviewers had nothing to go on other than the title and abstract (they did not know who the authors were nor their affiliation) means the rating system worked as advertised.

    The fact that the same author might have had one paper in category 1 and another in category 7 only suggests an error if one of the two papers is misclassified. My view is that a paper that says “anthropogenic-added climate forcing might have progressively played a dominant role in climate change during the last century” (emphasis added) while quantifying the “significantly stronger” than predicted solar impact as “45–50% of the 1900–2000 global warming, and 25–35% of the 1980–2000 global warming” can hardly be said to clearly not be a category 1 paper regardless of who the author is — I read it as clearly acknowledging that anthropogenic forcings are dominant but that solar may have contributed as much as 35% in the recent past. If the second paper uses a “different formulation of the text” then of course it could be classified as a rejection — we only have the words to go on, after all, and changing them changes everything.

    I cannot see how Pekka’s interpretation that the barrier to entry in the 97% is incredibly low (“passed by everything except most absurd crackpot material acceptable only to the worst journals that can make a claim of peer review” — looks like he owes an apology to Lindzen, Spencer, and Christy as well) can be sustained, especially in light of the examples given in this thread. Here’s a simple exercise:

    Try to formulate an abstract that suggests that the human contribution to global warming was less then 50% in any way, and then explain why it isn’t captured by one of the categories 5-7 but instead mistakenly ends up in 1-3.

  235. JasonB says:

    Joshua, just a final comment on the subject of the Yale studies:

    I reported that “37% of the Concerned and 46% of the Cautious think there is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether global warming is even happening!”. Note that this is much weaker than the 97% reported by Cook et al, which says that the consensus is not only that global warming is actually happening, but that we are the cause. I don’t know what percentage of the Concerned and Cautious think the scientists have reached a consensus on that, but I think it’s safe to say it would be lower.

  236. John Hartz says:

    My take on Pekka Pirilä’s performance on this thread —

    Pekka starts by digging himself into a hole and then proceeds to smash ever ladder that ATTP and others give. Given how long Pekka can keep shoveling, it’s obvious that he is a seasoned veteran of hole digging. Eventually Pekka decides it’s time to eat and then exits by activating the jet pack strapped on his back.

    Will Pekka ever return to this particular hole?

    Who knows?

    Who cares?

    [Eli made me do it!] ]

  237. OPatrick says:

    Tom, I wouldn’t put it as strongly as that, but reading this has certainly moved my opinion of Pekka in that direction. However, if Pekka has been dissembling since first commenting here then he is very, very good at it and I’d rather try to understand how he is arguing something that seems so insupportable (or why I’m seeing as insupportable something that Pekka feels he can argue so strongly).

    It appears to me that an unrealistic level of precision is being demanded of any attempt to quantify the consensus, and that the inevitable failure to meet these levels is being used as a reason to reject (the validity or worth of) the conclusions. This might be valid if any claim of certainty about the results were being made, but that’s not what I’m seeing.

  238. Tom Curtis says:

    Seeing we are discussing the Scaffeta paper, here is what he had to say about Cook et al classification:

    ” “Cook et al. (2013) is based on a strawman argument because it does not correctly define the IPCC AGW theory, which is NOT that human emissions have contributed 50%+ of the global warming since 1900 but that almost 90-100% of the observed global warming was induced by human emission.”

    And:

    “By using the 50% borderline a lot of so-called “skeptical works” including some of mine are included in their 97%.”

    And:

    “Please note that it is very important to clarify that the AGW advocated by the IPCC has always claimed that 90-100% of the warming observed since 1900 is due to anthropogenic emissions. While critics like me have always claimed that the data would approximately indicate a 50-50 natural-anthropogenic contribution at most.

    What it is observed right now is utter dishonesty by the IPCC advocates. Instead of apologizing and honestly acknowledging that the AGW theory as advocated by the IPCC is wrong because based on climate models that poorly reconstruct the solar signature and do not reproduce the natural oscillations of the climate (AMO, PDO, NAO etc.) and honestly acknowledging that the truth, as it is emerging, is closer to what claimed by IPCC critics like me since 2005, these people are trying to get the credit.

    They are gradually engaging into a metamorphosis process to save face.

    Now they are misleadingly claiming that what they have always claimed was that AGW is quantified as 50+% of the total warming, so that once it will be clearer that AGW can only at most be quantified as 50% (without the “+”) of the total warming, they will still claim that they were sufficiently correct.

    And in this way they will get the credit that they do not merit, and continue in defaming critics like me that actually demonstrated such a fact since 2005/2006.”

    So, within six days of the publication of Cook et al (2013), Scafetta is absolutely clear that the Cook et al consensus position is that 50%+ of recent warming has been due to anthropogenic factors. That he then goes on to outrageously misrepresent the IPCC position, and to misrepresent the basis of rating his paper (whose conclusions in the paper are much stronger than those stated in the abstract) is not particularly relevant except as a cross check on the “skepticism” of those who still quote his paper as having been inappropriately rated.

    What I want to note is that while Scafetta clearly identifies the 50%plus level for endorsement, he was not called on it by anybody who now argues that that is not the C13 endorsement benchmark, neither at the time nor since then (that I have seen). Indeed, people who argue that the C13 consensus is so broad as to include Spencer, Christie and Lindzen continue to cite Scafetta has having been misrated as endorsing the consensus when it (purportedly) rejected the consensus. You can put that down to dishonesty or extreme cognitive dissonance as you see fit, but it demonstrates their critiques of C13 are not evidence based.

    Indeed, as I remember it, the argument about the consensus level only started being presented well after publication of C13, and only after it became evident that looking for supposed errors that you can actually point to was not going to get any traction due to the author survey. It have every sign of being a rhetorical “plan B” based on a preexisting determination to find fault with C13 people actually become aware of how strong the scientific consensus is.

  239. Tom Curtis says:

    OPatrick, I do not accuse Pekka of dissembling, and I apologize if that was insufficiently clear. I do accuse him of being a motivated reasoner with respect to climate change, something not always apparent because he restricts himself normally to highly technical arguments. No doubt he thinks of himself as being interested in getting the science right, but he applies (normally) highly technical barriers to accepting the science, and is far more condemnatory of the scientists and commentators who are more alarmed of the evidence than he is, rather than the “scientists” and commentators who flat out distort, cherry pick, and lie about the evidence to make it seem less alarming.

    What is interesting in this particular case is that the argument really isn’t that technical. Therefore his attempt to make his objections reasonable falls flat, showing that (whatever his intentions), it is the act of critiquing, not the reasonableness critique that is the more important motivator.

  240. John Hartz says:

    OPatrick: Re Pekka Pirilä, the straw that broke that camels’ back for me was his calling Dana a liar. If Pirilä perecieved and inconsistnecy between what Dana posted in a comment on this thread and what was stated in Cook et al (2013), he should have had the professional courtesy of asking Dana to clarify the seeming inconsistency. Instead, he chose to label, and perhaps libel, Dana.

  241. Tom Curtis says:

    I will add that Pekka is not entitled to the assumption that he has been acting in good faith given that he will not accept that assumption (indeed flatly contradicts it) with respect to the authors of Cook et al. Somebody who wants to be considered honest should certainly not be both arguing that the C13 consensus was for any level of anthropogenic warming (such that it includes Christy etc), while citing Scaffeta as a misclassification – given that Scaffeta’s grounds for the claim is that C13 inappropriately shifted the consensus level to 50% plus to include “skeptical” papers such as his, whereas (according to Scaffeta) the true consensus claim is near 100% anthropogenic warming since 1900.

    Whether entitled to the assumption or not, however, I would certainly want to extend it to him.

  242. Catmando says:

    Richard Tol, I’ll ask you a question that I’d like you not to ignore. Above you say:
    “A GCM codifies a large body of research. GCMs are large, complex models. The fact that someone chose to work, perhaps incentivized by a grant, on a small part of that model, reveals no information about their opinion on the other parts of the model.”

    I think the phrase about being incentivised by a grant is interesting. Have you ever been incentivised to do anything by a grant? If so, can you explain what it was since the phrase comes across as a bit of a slur. Perhaps they were incentivised by trying to establish the truth. Perhaps they were incentivised by wanting to do what they thought was right. To choose a phrase which we know is associated with the anti-science arguments is interesting, if nothing else.

  243. dana1981 says:

    Well, Rob Painting sure nailed this one:

    “Dana, I think you’re forgetting Tol’s behaviour on the comments section of his post at The Guardian, and at his own blog. He simply ignores legitimate questions about his work, even when he participates in the comments thread.”

    As for the Annan paper being discussed, based on its abstract and our rating criteria, I think it would probably be an explicit endorsement (Cat 2) because it talks about the effect of the anthropogenic forcing on the thermohaline (hence explicitly endorsing AGW), and doesn’t minimize the human influence.

    Again, if you’re unhappy about the lack of quantification, the self-rating consensus in quantification papers is 96%. The reason I suggested that we include categories for quantification papers was to address this very critique – I knew that if we didn’t include what ended up being Cat 1 and 7, people would say the consensus didn’t quantify the human contribution and was thus meaningless.

    We focused on the simple statement ‘humans are causing global warming’ because in polls, most Americans think climate scientists are divided on this, and the public are also divided on it. You can say ‘well skeptics believe this is true’, but a large segment of the public doesn’t, and thinks experts are divided on this simple question. For those who are better informed, we added Cat 1 and 7, even though the minimizing papers are also captured in Cat 5 and 6. In every case the consensus is 96-97%.

    As for Pekka, I have no clue why he’s arguing that my comments about our study are incorrect. I don’t follow his logic (or lack thereof) at all. But he seems determined to believe this is the case, and I’m not interested in arguing with someone of that mindset.

    ATTP has hit on a key point that Pekka and many others fail to understand. Our survey was not about opinions. If you want an opinion survey, see Doran and Anderegg. Oreskes 2004 and Cook et al. 2013 are surveys of what the peer-reviewed climate research says. If Scafetta publishes a paper saying that humans are responsible for most recent global warming, that’s an endorsement of the consensus position (explicit with quantification, at that!). If you believe that categorization is wrong because it was written by Scafetta, then you’re illustrating that you don’t understand how our survey was done, and you need to spend more time understanding it before criticizing it, or before claiming that my descriptions about it are inaccurate.

  244. > The fact that someone chose to work […] on a small part of that model, reveals no information about their opinion on the other parts of the model.

    It still indicates an endorsement.

  245. Of course I have understand all the time that the project is about counting papers. All my comments have been written taking this into account.

  246. > I’ve worked with GCMs. Never felt like an act of endorsement.

    Richard’s phenomenology is duly noted.

    I bought a soccer ball the other day. Never felt I was voting with my feet.

  247. Rating abstracts, Pekka, not counting papers.

  248. John Hartz says:

    Catmando: Spot on about Tol’s use of innuendo. It seems to be one of his favorite tactics.

  249. Counting papers based on abstracts. Therefore the example of Scafetta tells about a serious weakness of the method. Changing a few words in the abstract may move a paper from 5 to 1, when the author is not likely to mean anything different.

  250. Pekka,
    Maybe you should stop digging. Yes, it is clear that an abstract might not properly represent the paper. However, if an abstract is so poorly written that it can be interpreted as implying something that’s completely inconsistent with the paper itself, that would seem to reflect more on the authors than on those assessing the abstracts. Bear in mind (and Richard Tol makes the same error) the goal wasn’t to specifically determine the position of individual papers. It was to try and determine the level of consensus in the literature by rating abstracts (they were – in some sense – proxies). Now there are two reasons why this might be a reasonable approach. There have been other studies that have followed different approaches. So, this was a new approach that produced a result consistent with other studies. It also allowed a large sample to be assessed (do you really think that there’s a real chance of a group directly assessing 12000 papers, rather than 12000 abstracts). Secondly, they also asked the authors themselves. The author responses results in essentially the same consensus as determined by rating the abstract. As you yourself say, we can’t really expect abstracts to be identical to the full paper and therefore the individual paper ratings often differ from the abstract ratings, but the consensus determined via rating the abstracts is essentially the same as determined from the author self-ratings.

    when the author is not likely to mean anything different.

    If the author can’t write their abstract well enough to get the message across, that’s not the fault of those rating the abstracts.

  251. @Wotts
    Let me rephrase. In said paper, we couple a GCM to a CGE. If that means that Richard Tol implicitly endorses all features of that GCM, then that also means that Richard Betts implicitly endores all features of that CGE. Correct?

  252. Richard,
    No, not really. Again, you seem to be confusing people and papers (it’s quite hard to understand why you keep doing this, as it’s hard to see why you’d find this confusing). It’s not about whether or not the authors individually endorse some position. If, however, a paper uses a CGE or results from a CGE in a way that is consistent with the intended use of that CGE (i.e., it isn’t a paper that is illustrating why the CGE is wrong or why the results are wrong) then that paper could be regarded as endorsing a position that reflects the results from that CGE.

    You seem to be ignoring a number of questions that people have posed. You’re of course not obliged to answer, but we’re all becoming quite excited about the possible freeing of the Tol 300. #FreeTheTol300.

  253. Again, why won’t Richard Tol release his data showing the extra ~300 rejection abstracts? He testified before the U.S. Congress at the invitation of Republicans who used his claims to manufacture even more unwarranted doubt about climate science. Surely Anthony Watts or The Auditor will FOIA Richard Tol into releasing his data showing the extra ~300 rejection abstracts. After all, the data Richard Tol refuses to release would disprove Cook et al. 2013. Right? #FreeTheTol300.

  254. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Pekka, I agree about the oddness of the various ratings you’ve mentioned (Lindzen etc) but when some of the published examples that were supposed to illustrate the classification scheme disobeyed the very criteria they were supposed to be illustrating there’s not much point in worrying too much about the ratings of individual papers in the database. The cockup with the examples makes it very clear that some of the authors either misunderstood their own rating criteria or, more likely, used them as mere markers for one or more informal rating systems and that, while Cook et al was the dog’s bollocks as propaganda*, it was a dog’s breakfast as academic research.** It’s astonishing that it has been taken so seriously.

    ==
    *As propaganda for SkS, anwyay. I doubt that it has convinced many deniers or fence-sitters of the reality of AGW or of the necessity of doing something about it.

    **Cue poodles of the apocalypse getting up on their hind legs to accuse me of howling at the moon.

  255. More than a year after their first investigations, conceptual analysts find wiggling room between the concepts of authorship and scientist. Well played!

  256. Vinny,
    Well, maybe like Richard and Pekka, you don’t really understand the paper very well. Anyway, I have to go out for dinner, so will you ponder that possibility.

  257. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Why does dinner take precedence over continuing a lively debate? Aren’t you committed?

  258. John Hartz says:

    Willard: More than a year after their first investigations, conceptual analysts determine that if the Abstracts had been worded differently, they would have been rated differently. This realization marks the point that these analysts crossed over into La La Land.

  259. @Wotts
    Now I see.

    So said paper endorses the position that there are no frictions on the labour market, and that mass is not conserved?

  260. BBD says:

    What a farce!

    🙂

  261. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Wotts, I did such pondering months ago. When a non-expert spots apparent howlers in a high-profile paper if he’s got any sense his first reaction is to think it’s he who has screwed up.

    I covered the examples thing in comments in another thread here. I think it’s Levels 1 and 2 that are the problem. As I recall, one or two commenters here agreed that the examples didn’t fit the criteria (but they said this didn’t matter because of the authors’ self-ratings or because the full texts of the exemplar papers fitted the criteria or just because in the real world there’s a real scientific consensus).

    Other problems with the ratings system: categories that overlap or are subsets of others; confusion about what’s being endorsed – the scale of the human contribution to climate change or the scale of the warming.

  262. Catmando says:

    Pekka, you say:
    Changing a few words in the abstract may move a paper from 5 to 1, when the author is not likely to mean anything different.

    Problem with that is the author should be more careful to say what they do mean. Don’t blame the rather for the author being ambiguous. After all, the abstract is the bit that gets read most so I’d expect authors to be careful about that bit myself.

  263. BBD says:

    Vinny

    You always seem to me to be a reasonable enough chap. So, why all the fuss about C13? Does anyone conversant with this topic seriously dispute that there is a very strong scientific consensus? Do you?

    Why all the pushback against this study? Is it political? Is this something that some people don’t want the general public made aware of? Or what?

    What do you think is going on here?

  264. Catmando,

    If those words were about the real content of the paper and about what the abstract is supposed to tell, you were right, but here people try to extract from the abstract something that’s not there. Thus the fault lies on the end of the reader who is filling the gaps by his imagination.

    As an example Scafetta does not say anything about other contributing factors than solar and AGW, because the paper is not about them. He accepts at least some AGW, and he tells that solar is less than 50%. The rest is invented by the reader.

  265. BBD says:

    To be clear: a strong scientific consensus that post-1950s warming is substantially or entirely anthropogenic and BAU will cause dire problems by the end of the century and worse beyond.

  266. Bobby says:

    Tol is back! – Richard, please release the 300 abstracts!

  267. Well, maybe like Richard and Pekka, you don’t really understand the paper very well.

    .. or maybe we understand it too well.

    No. it’s definitely not about understanding, it’s about accepting as appropriate.

  268. Catmando says:

    Pekka,

    My reading was that Scarfetta agrees that much/most of the warming is anthropogenic. It is only fair that the words are allowed to speak for themselves but there was a process for checking. Anyway, I think it is an assumption on your part to say people try to extract something that’s not there. I do a lot of rating of this kind and have done for years. It isn’t difficult to get right yet our friend Richard Tol doesn’t seem to understand that this rating process is pretty standard the world over for marking criterion based exams.

  269. Vinny,

    When a non-expert spots apparent howlers in a high-profile paper if he’s got any sense his first reaction is to think it’s he who has screwed up.

    Well, in my experience, when a non-expert spots apparent howlers, it is they who are often mistaken. But, pray, tell us of these howlers. Of course, I don’t mean disagreements about some specific ratings, but real whoppers. Things that will make us go “my goodness, that is a howler!” Of course, you should bear in mind, that it is still my view that a true test would involve re-rating the abstracts and doing a comparison with the consensus project ratings.

    Pekka,

    No. it’s definitely not about understanding, it’s about accepting as appropriate.

    Are you really sure you meant to say that out loud?

  270. Richard,
    I can never really tell if you are being serious or not. For your sake, I kind of hope you’re just having a bit of a laugh, as the alternative seems a bit unfortunate for a Professor of Economics. Of course, this is a relatively serious issue. You’ve testified in front of the US congress about this and published a paper on this. Trying to pretend that you don’t have a clue, just seems rather unprofessional.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always been slightly concerned that the real Richard Tol is some shy and retiring fellow who is completely unaware of social media and that you’re just trying to make him look foolish (and succeeding). The alternative is, of course, that you really are Richard Tol and simply are foolish.

  271. BBD says:

    That’s the spirit.

  272. Joshua says:

    Pekka –

    ==> “As some kind of answer to Joshua’s latest comment I break my above promise by this.”

    Except it really isn’t much of an answer. I would have preferred if you had dealt directly with the question that I asked you more than once (Richard as well).

    Bickering about the paper is, IMO, same ol’ same ol’. Seems to me that there is something that might be more relevant – which is the actual question of the degree of ‘consensus,” with some sort of clarification for what is meant by “consensus.” I think that the value of that is limited, but that it is more valuable than same ol’ same ol’ (identity politics).

    I’ll try again. As before, it is up to you if you want to respond on point:

    Can you cite a couple of papers from within the relevant literature where the results of climate models are used, but where an assumption (on the part of the reader) of an implicit endorsement (on the part of the article’s author) that it is very/extremely likely that greater than 50% of recent warming can be attributed to ACO2 – would not be justified?”

    Justified in the sense of the assumption would be wrong, and the author(s) would, in fact, not agree that it is very/extremely likely that more than 50% of the recent warming is attributable to ACO2.

    I realize that the wording of my sentence is convoluted but I’m not sure why you have responded to post where I asked the question but you haven’t yet answered that question straight up. The answer to that question seems to me to be the more important aspect of what is being discussed more generally.

    This is like the Waiting for Godot-like quality of Richard leading the charge against Cook et al., when he says that:

    Published papers that seek to test what caused the climate change over the last century and half, almost unanimously find that humans played a dominant role.”

  273. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: I sincerely hope you don’t get indigestion by returning to this thread after eating dinner. It appears that Pekka Pirilä has in fact done so.

  274. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Do you care that Richard Tol refers to you as “Wotts” rather than “ATTP” as most commenters now do.

  275. Steve Bloom says:

    “it’s quite hard to understand why you keep doing this, as it’s hard to see why you’d find this confusing”

    Not at all. Even in the limited context of this blog, it’s been clear for many months that Richard likes notoriety, but doesn’t have any valid original ideas and doesn’t want to have to work too hard on what material he does have.

    It’s quite hard to understand why you keep doing this, as it’s hard to see why you’d find this confusing. 🙂

  276. Steve Bloom says:

    Why would Anders care about that, John? 🙂

  277. Vinny Burgoo says:

    BBD: ‘Why all the pushback against this study? Is it political?’

    If the ‘pushback’ is partly political (and it is) that’s because the study was almost wholly political.

    But I reckon most of the ‘pushback’ is because the study was rubbish.

    Plus perhaps a bit of resentment of the SkS cult^Wcrowd’s success.

    (I’m not sure what you meant by ‘C13’. If it’s what your subsequent comment defined then, yes, I agree that there’s a very strong scientific consensus for ‘C13’ – though with the caveat that ‘dire’ is relative and there are likely to be many direr problems, then as now.)

  278. John H.,
    Yes, I don’t care. I see Richard having a pet name for me as a sign of affection 🙂

  279. Vinny,

    If the ‘pushback’ is partly political (and it is) that’s because the study was almost wholly political.

    If you mean political in the sense that it was an attempt to provide information to policy makers about the true consensus, then sure. I, however, see no issue with that. It would seem odd to argue that a study should not take place since our policy makers might learn something from it.

    But I reckon most of the ‘pushback’ is because the study was rubbish.

    Rubbish, but got the “right” answer and noone has yet convincingly shown that the abstracts ratings are largely unjustified?

  280. @Wotts
    I’m just taking your position. You argue that a paper that uses a GCM implicitly endorses that most warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. That is indeed what most GCMs have found.

    At the same time, most CGEs assume frictionless labour markets. And most GCMs violate conservation of mass.

    Thus, we have a 97% consensus that there is no friction on the labour market, and that mass is not conserved.

  281. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Wotts: ‘But, pray, tell us of these howlers. Of course, I don’t mean disagreements about some specific ratings, but real whoppers. Things that will make us go “my goodness, that is a howler!”’

    What howler could be more whopping than exemplars that don’t exemplify? Read the paper, paying particular attention to Levels 1 and 2 in Table 2. Ponder as long as you like. It’s your blog.

  282. Richard,
    All computational codes violate conservation of mass, energy and momentum at some level. As you well know, this is not the consensus position. That is simply a consequence of computational modelling. I refer you back to my earlier comment. All people are foolish some of the time. That doesn’t mean that all people are fools, just some of them.

  283. Vinny,
    But that doesn’t tell me anything of these howlers. I have read the paper and have also pondered. I see no howlers yet, but am happy to be educated if they do indeed exist.

  284. Joshua,

    There are two issues (or perhaps three, as the second has two parts)

    1) Using all information available to make personal estimates of the extent of consensus.

    2) Executing a project and presenting the results as they have been presented.

    On the first issue, my views are probably not very different from most of the others that read this site.

    On the second I seem to disagree with many or most. Those, who disagree with me seem to think that the paper is all right, I don’t. I don’t for the reasons that I have stated so many times that I don’t repeat them any more except by the following sentence. Since I wrote my first message I have got only more evidence to make me even more certain that the results have been presented in a way that leads to misinterpreting, what the project has really been able to conclude from assessing all those abstracts. No attempt has evidently been made by the authors to reduce those misinterpretations, rather the opposite.

    Why am I nitpicking given that I agree in point 1)? That’s where my principles and my views of science kick in.

  285. Pekka,

    Why am I nitpicking given that I agree in point 1)? That’s where my principles and my views of science kick in.

    Well, when you decide to climb off your high horse, maybe you’ll realise that deciding that you’re more principled than those around you is a position that is often hard to actually justify.

  286. @Wotts
    This is not a matter of numerical approximation.

    Following your logic and Cook’s method, the vast majority of papers implicitly reject the conservation of mass.

  287. BBD says:

    Vinny

    Sorry: C13 = Cook et al. (2013)

    If the ‘pushback’ is partly political (and it is) that’s because the study was almost wholly political.

    But I reckon most of the ‘pushback’ is because the study was rubbish.

    What ATTP said, really. The contrarians are merchants of doubt, which is politics. C13 actually does demonstrate that there is a strong scientific consensus, and so the contrarians attack because it holes them below the waterline. The confected furore over C13 simply continues Policy Number One: foster doubt in the public and political discourse.

    Unsupported assertions that the study was “rubbish” confirm this view.

  288. Richard,
    Whether it is a consequence of numerical approximation or not, you’re still talking complete nonsense. Don’t let me stop you though, because I don’t think anything anyone said would actually achieve that. Of course, if you do choose to say something that is actually sensible, I will more than happily respond in kind. However, while you’re just messing around, I’ll do the same.

  289. ATTP,

    People have different principles. I have mine.

    I like the pondering of Steven Schneider on the double ethical bind. I don’t claim that one ethical principle is above the other, but I defend the one I personally consider more important for science, Not because it would be more ethical, but because I do believe that it’s ultimately better in all ways.

  290. Clive Best says:

    Pekka is right.

    Science is amoral and stands or falls on theory and experiment. The consensus argument is irrelevant and stupid. It speaks more to politics than true science.

  291. Pekka,
    I wasn’t suggesting that you don’t have principles. I was suggesting that you implying that yours are somehow better than those of others is something that is hard to actually justify. As far as I can tell, you aren’t defending your own, you’re criticising those of others. The publication of C13 in no way forces you to give up your principles.

  292. Clive,
    Good of you to pop in and make some remark that rather illustrates that you should probably get off your high horse too.

  293. John Hartz says:

    This thread has now devolved into the Gunfight at the OK Corral . Pass the popcorn please..

  294. John H.,
    It has rather. I should probably just close my laptop and concentrate on the movie we’re trying to watch 🙂

  295. Clive Best and Pekka are wrong.

    Even if we accept that science is value neutral (which is arguably false), and even if imagine that scientists can communicate in a value-neutral way, stasis theory predicts that it will be interpreted in a value-laden way (i.e. facts, causal explanations, etc.) will lead to arguments about value judgements and policy recommendations in deliberative democracies. This is known since at least Cicero:

    http://www.partiallyexaminedlife.com/2014/06/06/precognition-of-ep-96-oppenheimers-rhetoric/

    The relevant example is at 7:40.

  296. Williard,

    I didn’t make any claim contrary to your comment. Nor do I dispute anything in that.

  297. ATTP,

    We all value our own principles, otherwise they were not our principles.

    In this case I don’t think that the question is so much about principles than it is about judging whether one particular case contradicts them. That depends both on the principles and on, how we perceive that specific case. The way I perceive it strongly against my principles. I don’t accept such behavior in science.

  298. Pekka,

    I dispute everything Clive said. If what Clive said that you were right, then something’s got to give.

    Please take it with Clive. Meanwhile, I’m delighted to amend my comment and eliminate your name.

    Clive Best is wrong.

  299. Pekka,
    It’s getting rather late, so I don’t really want to go into another lengthy discussion. I’m not arguing against your principles in any way. I’m suggesting that you are implying (maybe imply is too weak) that the principles of others are deficient in some way. You’re of course free to make such an argument, but I don’t think you can expect to make it and not have others object to how you’re portraying them. It’s especially difficult because your argument relates to something that most agree is self-evidently true. Quite how it is unprincipled to illustrate something that is self-evidently true is something I’m finding hard to understand.

  300. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: I’ve been watching Bullit.

  301. I’ve been watching “Odd Thomas” which is indeed odd.

  302. ATTP,
    I tried to explain my reactions. That’s all.

    There are many possible reasons for the different reactions of others.

  303. Richard Tol writes: “I’ve worked with GCMs. Never felt like an act of endorsement. I was interested in changes in water resources with and without routing.

    I’m not sure if you’re referring to “CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON GLOBAL AGRICULTURE,” but if we assume that your comment is applicable to this paper I’m left wondering why your name is on it.

    I find it difficult to envision how the conclusions of the paper have any merit if you cannot endorse the GCM used (HadGEM1). Not to mention the paper’s various references that also relied on GCMs.

    Are you in the habit of publishing papers where you cannot endorse the tools you used to reach your stated conclusions?

  304. Catmando says:

    Kevin

    Not to forget that Richard has taken as his mantra science is not results, science is the method. If the method is wrong, the science is wrong.

    I guess that little bit of philosophy does not apply to economics.

  305. Steve Bloom says:

    Thanks for that link, Willard. It makes me wonder if there are any developments in that paradigm contemporaneous with the rise of the importance of climate science to policy. The only one I can think of is the creation of a class of non-scientist science policy experts/advisers (degree programs and all) who seek a key role for themselves to the exclusion of the older model of of scientist-turned-adviser exemplified by Oppenheimer (with Hansen as a current example). Are such folks truly a new step in the process?

  306. Steve,

    The only one I can think of is the creation of a class of non-scientist science policy experts/advisers (degree programs and all) who seek a key role for themselves……

    Are such folks truly a new step in the process?

    Good question. I’ve been engaging in a number of discussions with people who appear to be in that general area and – as yet – do not have a good answer to that question.

  307. John Hartz says:

    Willard: Can a person of principle play Climateball and win?

  308. John H.,
    I don’t think principled people play ClimateBallTM to win. I think they play it to not lose.

  309. BBD says:

    the creation of a class of non-scientist science policy experts/advisers

    As inevitable as it is troubling.

  310. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Recommend that your next post focus on the issues reaised by James Hansen in his blog post of June 19 titled, Too Little, Too Late? Oops?

  311. Tom Curtis says:

    Clive Best, the consensus argument is irrelevant to this discussion, which is about the consensus paper (Cook et al 2013, aka C13). Unless you wish to exclude sociology and the history of science as topics of academic research, examining the issue as to what extent scientific papers from a given field endorse implicitly or explicitly a specific proposition appears perfectly valid as a research topic. Further, given an assumption of academic freedom, it is even irrelevant as to whether you think it is a valid research topic. That the authors and publishers of C13 thought it was a valid research topic is, therefore, sufficient justification for the research and publication.

    That you appear to implicitly reject the research based on (from past experience) a misrepresentation of “the consensus argument” strongly suggests your rejection of the research is politically motivated.

  312. jsam says:

    Just out of interest, keying off Kevin’s link, how would the readers of this fine blog evaluate this abstract?

    “Based on predicted changes in the magnitude and distribution of global precipitation, temperature and river flow under the IPCC SRES A1B and A2 scenarios, this study assesses the potential impacts of climate change and CO2 fertilization on global agriculture. The analysis uses the new version of the GTAP-W model, which distinguishes between rainfed and irrigated agriculture and implements water as an explicit factor of production for irrigated agriculture. Future climate change is likely to modify regional water endowments and soil moisture. As a consequence, the distribution of harvested land would change, modifying production and international trade patterns. The results suggest that a partial analysis of the main factors through which climate change will affect agricultural productivity lead to different outcomes. Our results show that global food production, welfare and GDP fall in the two time periods and SRES scenarios. Higher food prices are expected. Independently of the SRES scenario, expected losses in welfare are marked in the long term. They are larger under the SRES A2 scenario for the 2020s and under the SRES A1B scenario for the 2050s. The results show that countries are not only influenced by regional climate change, but also by climate-induced changes in competitiveness.”

    Being both naive and not all that bright, I’d reckon that abstract implicitly accepts AGW – and fairly strongly too. But, then, what would I know?

    #freethetol300

  313. Tom,
    Yes, I had been tempted to point something like that out myself, but wouldn’t have managed to do so quite as articulately as you’ve just done.

  314. Joshua says:

    Geez, Pekka –

    Would it kill you to say, either “Yes, I have some examples and here they are….” or “No, I can’t come up with any examples.”

    I asked the question of Richard fully expecting he wouldn’t answer. I was hoping that you would.

  315. Joshua says:

    Clive –

    ==> “The consensus argument is irrelevant and stupid…”

    You seem to be prone to something I find to be true of many climate combatants: you confused opinion with fact.

    Actually, the fact that so many people spend so much time arguing about the consensus is what I would call evidence that it is relevant. Relevance is a subjective evaluation. It seems clear that it is relevant to many people, even if you don’t think it is irrelevant. For you to go from your opinion to a statement of fact is quite unscientific.

    ==> “The consensus argument is irrelevant and stupid. It speaks more to politics …”

    So following what seems to be your logic, you are arguing that politics is irrelevant, or the consensus discussion is irrelevant because it is political? That seems like an odd argument. Would you say that taxation or war or discrimination or economics are irrelevant because they speak more to politics?

    ==> “The consensus argument is irrelevant and stupid. It speaks more to politics than true science.”

    What is “true science?” Is it some sort of science that is not the product of human thought (all humans are, inherently biased to at least some degree)? Perhaps the science that you agree with?

    I am struck by how similar that comment was to the sort of comment Richard frequently makes – drive-by arguments by assertion, unsupported by any sort of explication, let along evidence, along with a failure to address any obvious and common-sense counterarguments.

    It’s funny, because prior to reading that comment from you, as someone who is not technically capable I assumed that I could use your “skeptical” brand of scientific analysis as a kind of touchstone for finding my way through the Jell-O flinging to something that approached a “middle ground” in the scientific dispute. It doesn’t really mean anything, of course, but after reading that comment I have significantly less trust in your technical input. Not so much because of the point that you made, but because of the display of sloppy thinking.

  316. Joshua says:

    JasonB –

    Re your 2:41. Point taken.

  317. Joshua,

    What is “true science?” Is it some sort of science that is not the product of human thought (all humans are, inherently biased to at least some degree)? Perhaps the science that you agree with?

    An issue I have with the “true science” argument is that it is almost as though some are arguing that there are certain questions that we should not be allowed to ask or answer. To be fair, there may be some questions that we should probably not try to ask or answer, but I find it hard to see why estimating the level of consensus in the scientific literature is one of them.

  318. jsam says:

    No true scientist…eerily familiar.

    No true Scotsman is an informal fallacy, an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion.[1] When faced with a counterexample to a universal claim (“no Scotsman would do such a thing”), rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original universal claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric, without reference to any specific objective rule (“no true Scotsman would do such a thing”),[2] creating an implied tautology. It can also be used to create unnecessary requirements.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

  319. David Young says:

    I thought very long about whether to comment here again, but perhaps it is worth saying for the benefit of Pekka, Willard, and others.

    There is a lot wrong with this approach of outsiders trying to survey the literature and that is what I think Bouldin had in mind. In fluid dynamics, the applications literature is not very reliable so if outsiders did a survey of this literature to answer the question as to whether there is a consensus that “properly run numerical modeling gives results generally within 2% of the test data being compared with” they would find a strong consensus. Scientifically, this means nothing because of selection bias. I could give you a few references to the literature showing huge variation in results when the codes are run blind. These negative papers are far less than 0.1% of all the papers. Most applications papers report results of codes that have often been tuned for decades in some cases for a “selected” class of problems. The negative results are far more reliable generally because most people have reasons to not publish them.

    Last week I had an extended conversation with one of the world’s top modelers and he listed 4 consensus propositions that seem reasonable and then asked “how many types of idiots are there that we need to reign in?” The fact of the matter is that in any new application of Navier-Stokes, a huge investment in tuning all aspects of the method is usually required. This long process is usually invisible when the results are published. The science is always a lot less certain than what is heard from those trying to sell the technology to their customers. That’s the import of the Economist editorial last fall about the fact that reproducibility of scientific results is poor in the view of a growing number of scientists. Non scientists usually have no basis on which to make an informed judgment about these matters merely by surveying the literature.

  320. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “…but I find it hard to see why estimating the level of consensus in the scientific literature is one of them.”

    I get the argument that the prevalence of view among experts should not be considered dispositive. I also do think that some “skeptics” do have a point in that sometimes “realists” argue as if a “consensus” should be considered dispositive – to further a goal of political expediency (although not nearly as often as “skeptics” claim).

    But where “skeptics” lose me is when they start to argue (as Clive did) that the prevalence of expert opinion is somehow irrelevant, or that giving some degree of weight to the most prevalent view (particularly when it strongly predominates) should be considered r somehow counter or antiothetical to some notion of “pure” science.

    The irony here is that I see such an argument as extremely political because I can’t imagine that anyone goes through life these days w/o evaluating probabilities related to expert opinion on topics of scientific controversy. Should we just ignore the prevalence of expert opinion as it relates to GMOs, or AIDS, or myriad issues? Am I supposed to believe that “skeptics” never have fairly certain opinions on any issues where they haven’t personally evaluated the scientific merits of all the contrasting arguments?

    That kind of selectivity strikes me, as I said, to be political.

    Am what am I supposed to do, since I can’t evaluate the science myself? Should I just pass my right to form my own opinions over to Clive because his name is “Best?”

    I have to evaluate all the evidence that I can understand to the best of my abilities. The prevalence of expert opinion is evidence, just as it is evidence when scientifically-minded people make weak arguments. Neither type of evidence is dispositive, but it is evidence that speaks to probabilities.

  321. Tom Curtis says:

    Richard Tol writes:

    “I’m just taking your position. You argue that a paper that uses a GCM implicitly endorses that most warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. That is indeed what most GCMs have found.

    At the same time, most CGEs assume frictionless labour markets. And most GCMs violate conservation of mass.

    Thus, we have a 97% consensus that there is no friction on the labour market, and that mass is not conserved.”

    In fact, the use of CGEs does assume that to a reasonable approximation, labour markets are frictionless. Likewise all GCMs (I believe) assume that to a reasonable approximation mass is not conserved. At least, they do allow the density of the atmosphere to increase with increased CO2 concentrations without reducing the gravitational acceleration to account for the carbon lost from the Earth’s crust to the atmosphere. (Richard no doubt has some other failure to conserve mass in mind, but the logical point I am making is unaffected by that.) If the authors of papers using CGEs think labour market friction is large enough to call their results into question, they should probably not be using CGEs to obtain a result, surely a point that Richard “method is more important than finding” Tol must agree with. Alternatively, they must at a minimum state clearly in the abstract that errors introduced by simplifying assumptions in the model are likely to be large enough to call the result into question. Likewise for mass balance and GCMs.

    Richard is welcome to apply this move to the endorsement of anthropogenic global warming. That is, he is welcome to concede that the use of GCMs only endorse AGW as “a reasonable approximation”, but endorsing anthropogenic causes as responsible for 50% plus of recent warming “to a reasonable approximation” is indistinguishable from simply endorsing AGW.

  322. > Can a person of principle play Climateball and win?

    No, but one can lose:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/5986919630

    ClimateBall ™ — the only losing move is not to play.

  323. dana1981 says:

    Pekka says of Scafetta’s abstract,

    “He accepts at least some AGW, and he tells that solar is less than 50%. The rest is invented by the reader.”

    I’m just glad Pekka wasn’t one of our raters.

    “We estimate that the sun contributed as much as 45–50% of the 1900–2000 global warming, and 25–35% of the 1980–2000 global warming. These results, while confirming that anthropogenic-added climate forcing might have progressively played a dominant role in climate change during the last century, also suggest that the solar impact on climate change during the same period is significantly stronger than what some theoretical models have predicted.”

  324. @Tom C
    Thanks. That is exactly my point. I can use a large, complex, community model without endorsing each and all of its features. The only model features that matter to my research are the features that potentially affect my findings.

    You cannot deduce anything about my opinion about the model features that do not materially affect my findings.

    Unless I do detailed atmospheric chemistry in a GCM, mass conservation is of little concern.

    Unless I do detection and attribution in a GCM, the causes of climate change are of little concern.

  325. Dana,
    That’s not an example of rating against rules. That’s an example of how bad source the abstracts are for determining what scientists think and even what the actual papers tell.

    I would have nothing to complain, if you would have written and promoted your results as telling only, what kind of words the abstract contains, or how they will be classified, when an attempt is done to extract meaning from short text that’s written to describe something different, related surely, but different. That’s, however, not how the results have been understood, and what kind of understanding has been promoted by you.

    My claim is that the result genuinely shows only something of little interest, but is made wrongly to say something that has raised a lot of interest.

    This is directly related to the way levels 2, 3, 5, and 6 are defined. They are not defined as you claimed higher up in this thread. You cannot change the definition, it’s written in the rules. The project is based on the written definitions. Only 1 and 5 refer to 50%. The same counterfactual claim has been used also elsewhere. That’s what I find so false.

  326. Good grief. Please stop throwing around accusations of disingenuous misleading false statements. Look, Pekka, I understand that Dr. Spencer has been spreading misinformation about the definitions used in the Cook et al. survey. You carelessly repeated his misinformation, which is unfortunate. But really that’s just one more reason to take anything Dr. Spencer says with a grain of salt. We’ve all been caught taking a contrarian at their word, because we all like to believe that people can be trusted. That is being used against us. Dr. Spencer is simply wrong, and you’re wrong to use his misinformation to fuel your bizarre attacks. I refer you to Cook et al. 2013:

    “Explicit endorsements were divided into non-quantified (e.g., humans are contributing to global warming without quantifying the contribution) and quantified (e.g., humans are contributing more than 50% of global warming, consistent with the 2007 IPCC statement that most of the global warming since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations).”

    Only 1 and 5 refer to 50%.

    Really?

    “(6) Explicit rejection without quantification – Explicitly minimizes or rejects that humans are causing global warming”

    “Minimizes” below the level given in the previous quote, which refers to the 2007 IPCC statement but could also refer to the 2001 IPCC statement that most of the warming since 1950 is likely due to our GHG emissions. This steadily strengthened statement (in 2001, 2007, 2013) is used as the dividing line for endorsement/rejection.

    “(7) Explicit rejection with quantification – Explicitly states that humans are causing less than half of global warming”

    Pekka, doesn’t “less than half” refer to 50%? Are you willing to admit that your claim that “only 1 and 5 refer to 50%” was wrong?

    Pekka, you’ve been reduced to supporting Dr. Spencer’s confused misinformation about the Cook survey, in favor of the actual text in the Cook paper and the explanations provided here by one of its co-authors. Please stop. I’ve developed some respect for your insights, and don’t want to watch in horror as you frantically dig a hole like Dr. Spencer and Dr. Curry.

    In response to other comments, scientists measure the consensus when writing every review article and every textbook. For instance, I don’t know enough particle physics to understand the strength of the evidence for the Higgs boson. I can either retreat into solipsism, take a few years to learn the requisite physics, or use a shortcut heuristic: the consensus among peer-reviewed papers taking a position on the existence of the Higgs boson.

    Obviously, I chose the third option. Here’s another example: I haven’t studied the biological effects of smoking, or ingesting lead or asbestos. But even though I don’t understand all the biology involved, I deferred to the consensus of biologists and doctors when I decided to keep my habit of chain smoking while drinking lead/asbestos shakes to the bare minimum.

    I actually think all people and all scientists use the consensus heuristic shortcut, except for omniscient internet ninjas who are apparently able to instantly understand all the intricacies of every subfield of science. Curiously, this omniscience seems inversely correlated with scientific experience at accredited institutions, and positively correlated with being astonishingly rude and making fractally wrong claims.

    There’s also been a massive misinformation campaign specifically devoted to convincing the public that there’s no scientific consensus on climate change. The very existence of the Luntz memo and the farcical Oregon Petition Project are proof that contrarians take consensus very seriously. For good reason: the public does too!

    Anyone with principles is welcome to perform their own survey and show everyone how to do it right. Just make sure your methodology would also be able to reveal a consensus we can (hopefully) all agree exists, like the fact that evolution explains the diversity of life.

    On the other hand, anyone who simply wants to help spread even more misinformation is welcome to continue throwing around accusations about misleading cults.

    And again, why won’t Richard Tol release his data showing the extra ~300 rejection abstracts? What is he hiding? #FreeTheTol300.

  327. oops, in favor -> instead

  328. Typing error. I meant 1 and 7.

  329. Then what about the actual #5?

    “(5) Implicit rejection – Implies humans have had a minimal impact on global warming without saying so explicitly E.g., proposing a natural mechanism is the main cause of global warming”

    If a natural mechanism is the main cause of global warming, humans couldn’t be. Doesn’t this also refer to 50%?

  330. OPatrick says:

    I would have nothing to complain, if you would have written and promoted your results as telling only, what kind of words the abstract contains, or how they will be classified, when an attempt is done to extract meaning from short text that’s written to describe something different, related surely, but different. That’s, however, not how the results have been understood, and what kind of understanding has been promoted by you.

    Pekka, I would find it helpful to better understand your position if you could give some examples of where you think the results have been understood differently and promoted differently.

  331. We see 97% in the news quite often, and virtually always in a form not supported by the paper. The authors don’t protest.

    We can read such a claim by Dana in this thread.

    We can read a similar claim in a response to Tol by the authors:

    C13 classified abstracts of climate science papers based on the level of endorsement that most of the recent global warming is man-made (AGW, Categories 1–3),

  332. Pekka, 97% isn’t always a reference to Cook et al. 2013. They could just as easily have been referring to Doran and Zimmerman 2009 or Anderegg et al. 2010. That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? The 97% consensus that humans are the dominant cause of global warming is robust, using different methodologies.

  333. Richard,
    Maybe Tom should confirm, but I think that if you’ve interpreted his comment as suggesting that you can use a model without implicitly endorsing it’s other features, then you’d be wrong. Again, you seem to be confusing the person using the model (whose views are largely irrelevant) and the use of the model in a study, which would imply endorsement. Of course, if your use of that model illustrated an issue with the model, then you wouldn’t be endorsing it. But if you’re simply using it as input to a bigger study, then that would be a form of endorsement.

    #FreeTheTol300

  334. jsam says:

    97%, replicated by multiple studies. 🙂

    Contrarians dislike (hate?) Cook. But they’re really afraid of the replication and its impact upon public opinion – particularly as events, dear boy, weather events, continue.

    http://skepticalscience.com/climate-contrarians-accidentally-confirm-97-percent-consensus.html

  335. OPatrick says:

    We see 97% in the news quite often, and virtually always in a form not supported by the paper.

    Sorry Pekka, maybe you misunderstood. It would help me to understand your position if you gave actual examples of statements not in a form supported by the paper.

    Could you also explain why the quote you give above, from ‘the authors’ in response to Tol, is misleading (is that the word you would choose for it?)?

  336. Derek,
    The data’s not saying what you think it’s saying. Also, have you read my most recent post? You might find it interesting. Then again, you might just say “fish”.

  337. Pekka, “they” in my previous comment referred to the news you mentioned. It’s odd that you quoted the response to Tol, because as I’ve shown all the rejection levels (5,6,7) include any papers implicitly or explicitly stating that the human contribution to global warming since 1950 is < 50%.

    But perhaps we disagree about this, because you originally claimed that only one level out of this group referred to 50%. Can we agree that all three rejection levels are based on implicitly or explicitly stating that the human contribution to global warming since 1950 is < 50%?

  338. OPatrick,

    The quote contains the same claim Dana has made here, and that I have discussed in many comments. I.e., it claims that the numbers refer to mostly human caused warming, while the specifications published and evidently given to the people, who made the assessment don’t refer to that.

    I made those three points, because they are easily specified. Most of the impression is recollection from the time this study was published. While that recollection is clear, it would be a significant effort to search for the reasons that led to the impression.

    My own judgment of the project is that it resulted in a outcome that has very little evidential power on anything of real interest. It tells about the count of certain types of expressions in the abstracts, but the levels are defined in a way that makes the result non-interesting as it really is. The result was, however, widely interpreted to tell something much stronger, i.e. something on
    – what the authors really wanted to say in the paper,
    and most importantly that
    – the papers support a predominantly human contribution to the warming.

    While those claims may very well agree with the views of the authors, this particular study was not designed to find that out, and could not find that out.

    The methodology has a low power in finding results of wide interest, but that was not made clear, on the contrary, the authors have made explicit statements that do not agree with the published facts.

    The errors and weaknesses are in order of importance:
    1) The ambiguity between some non-negligible human influence and dominant human influence
    2) The value of abstracts in drawing conclusions that go beyond classifying abstracts (i.e. tell about the full papers and about views of the authors)
    3) The ambiguities in classifying abstracts and in interpreting the outcome even when restricted to abstracts.

    All these weaknesses have had an influence on how the paper has been used in public discussion. The authors have contributed to that discussion.

  339. Pekka,
    I don’t about your academic experience, but in mine, if I asked the author of a paper to clarify something, I wouldn’t then accuse them of lying once they’d done so. I’d probably say “Thank you. That’s much clearer now.”

  340. ATTP,
    We are not discussing primarily an academic issue, we are discussing a case where a paper is used in policy related discussion.

    I have also presented my specific comments directly to Dana. He has not replied to the one that I have always emphasized as the most essential. He made a claim that I see as explicitly contrary to the facts.

  341. Pekka,
    Well, then that might explain the problem. I am discussing a purely academic matter. As I mentioned in the post, how a paper/study is used is largely irrelevant as to whether or not the paper/study itself has merit. To me, that you’re conflating these two things, undermines much of what you’re saying.

  342. Dana replied to your #1 claim, and so did I by quoting the paper. You just ignored us.

    1) All abstracts implicitly or explicitly stating that the human contribution to global warming since 1950 is < 50% were classified as rejection abstracts.
    2) The abstract ratings were confirmed by a survey of the actual authors' ratings of their own entire papers.
    3) Anyone with principles is welcome to perform their own survey and show everyone how to do it right. Just make sure your methodology would also be able to reveal a consensus we can (hopefully) all agree exists, like the fact that evolution explains the diversity of life.

  343. OPatrick says:

    Pekka, I’m not clear still what your issue is with this particular quote:

    C13 classified abstracts of climate science papers based on the level of endorsement that most of the recent global warming is man-made (AGW, Categories 1–3)

    The paper did classify abstracts based on that. I understand you have concerns about the reliability of the implicit element (but the percentages from the explicit endorsement sections and the authors’ own rating were more or less the same), but that doesn’t make the quote incorrect. I don’t think you can expect people to discuss every nuance every time they say anything about the paper. There is nothing, to my mind, fundamentally wrong with that quote.

    My memory of the reporting at the time the study came out, and of more recent discussions too (those that weren’t entirely dominated by the blatant attempts to undermine the findings of the paper by people who seemed obsessed with the paper whilst at the same time considering it irrelevant) was that this study was presented as one more piece of evidence to support the many pieces of evidence that already strongly suggested the result was correct. Surely though if the misrepresentation of the study was a pervasive as you say it should be an easy matter to search for contemporaneous media reports and find one that does what you imply it does.

  344. DumbSci,

    Their published paper contradicts that claim. It tells the rules of classification. They are not like that. It’s also impossible to perform such a classification.

    The only clear cases for such classification are the 75 abstracts that got level 1 and 7 papers that got level 7 (and even they have problems, but that’s not essential here).

    This is exactly the issue, where I have not got any real answer, only an unsubstantiated claim that cannot be true as implementing that is not possible.

  345. Apparently we can’t agree that all three rejection levels are based on implicitly or explicitly stating that the human contribution to global warming since 1950 is < 50%. Despite the quotes I've provided. I should stop now before losing any more faith in humanity. Good night.

  346. Pekka,
    Okay, let’s bear in mind that categories 2 and 3 both use the word “causing”. Not “contributing to”. Not “causing some”, but “causing”. Bear in mind that 6 and 7 have the words “minimal” or “minimise”. Also bear in mind that no abstract can have more than one rating. Therefore, it is my view that the description of the ratings is consistent with 1, 2 and 3 relating to humans causing more than 50%, and 5, 6, and 7 are those for which it is less than 50% (or, maybe, “most” and “not most”). The authors have also stated this to be the case. You also seem completely unwilling to consider that it is you who is mis-interpeting the paper or that maybe a more charitable view would be appropriate – maybe they could have described it better, but that doesn’t mean that the abstracts were not rated as the authors say they were. Your certainty about this issue does you no favours, in my opinion.

  347. nobodyknows says:

    What I want to know is: How many scientific papers claim that more than 50% warming is due to human contribution, and how many papers claim that it is less than 50%, And how many papers have no such claim? The next question is: How many papers are are allocated to the first two categories without explisitly claiming it?

  348. nobodyknows says:

    And is the sentence “humans are causing global warming” enough to belong to the endorsement group?

  349. nobodyknows,
    Define “causing”.

  350. jsam says:

    Is nobodyknows JAQing?

  351. OPatrick says:

    I’d have thought that if the entire abstract of your paper consisted of “Humans are causing global warming” that would fairly conclusively belong to the endorsement group. I suspect there are not many abstracts that are quite so succinct.

  352. I get the feeling that people are interpreting the word “causing” as “contributing in any way whatsoever”.

  353. Joshua says:

    Pekka –

    “The result was, however, widely interpreted to tell something much stronger, i.e. something on
    – what the authors really wanted to say in the paper,
    and most importantly that
    – the papers support a predominantly human contribution to the warming.

    While those claims may very well agree with the views of the authors, this particular study was not designed to find that out, and could not find that out.”

    Part of what is interesting about that aspect of this argument is that while “skeptics” claim ownership of “pure science” and truth and justice in the debate about the paper – claiming that C13 is being misleadingly promoted, they themselves often try to argue that the flaws in C13 somehow indicate that the “consensus” is a myth and something that can only be shown through fabrication and deception (and that is the reason why it has been misleadingly promoted).

    This is why I still find it annoying that you won’t answer my question. You argue that “those claims may well agree…” as a theoretical argument. But what is the value of arguing some this theoretical point? Does doing so promote some type of higher ethic? It seems to me that you could take steps to move this discussion from the theoretical to the real world, yet you’d rather for some reason argue within the theoretical realm.

    So are you saying that you are upset, as a ethical matter, that the results of the study might be misleadingly promoted even though you have no evidence that the results of the study are not accurate, and in fact that you have quite a bit of familiarity with the evidence and think that they are likely accurate? And you aren’t upset about the ethics of people seeking to gain publicity for attacks on the the results from a theoretical standpoint that don’t stipulate that the results are probably accurate?

    So here’s the bottom line. In the end, you are more upset, from an ethical standpoint, about the promotion of an accurate description of the nature of the literature that (you believe) was obtained invalidly and misleadingly portrayed than you are about the promotion of a false argument (by “skeptics:) that the flaws of the methodology, or the misleading nature (in your opinion) of how the results are being portrayed, means that the consensus is a myth.

    Pekka – it seems to me that your argument is about identity politics. If the concern is about what the public hears then why would you be more upset about them being given an accurate impression (in a misleading fashion) than a false impression (in a misleading fashion)?

  354. Joshua,
    It’s important that the arguments from the side of science are correct. That’s what makes science different from other claims. When that principle is given up, all arguments weigh equally much.

    You have often asked, what’s the evidence that such considerations matter. I cannot provide social studies that prove that it matters, but i do sincerely believe that it matters. It matters both as weaknesses in arguments give weapons to the opponents, and because giving up on the principles may develop further to the point, where both sides really start to present equally weak arguments.

  355. Pekka,
    I really don’t know what to make of what you’re saying. The consensus project isn’t science, or – at least – not physical science. It is essentially social science. It is an assessment of the scientific literature, not a scientific study.

    I also think your continued claims that others have given up some kind of scientific principle are insulting and in my experience an incredibly unscientific way to behave. The consensus project is simply a single piece of work that adds to other work that tend to show the same kind of result. It’s not the final word and, by itself, isn’t definitive. It may, to be honest, have not been done in the best possible way. It may well have rated the abstracts poorly. It may well have problems. I have, however, rated over 100 abstracts myself. I got a result that was consistent with the consensus project result. I’ve looked through their data and read the paper. I’ve yet to find something that really makes me think that there is a fundamental problem. I could still be convinced otherwise. But, continually asserting that those involved sacrificed their principles to get a result that most agree is self-evidently true, is not going to do it.

  356. nobodyknows says:

    ATTP. Here is my definition, or is it?. “Among abstracts expressing
    a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.”

  357. My new blog post on The Consensus has just been published: Five reasons scientists do not like the consensus on climate change. I could have added and why these 5 reasons are rather weak on further thought.

    I have asked the people who want to critique Cook et al for inconsequential and unavoidable weaknesses to this post. You know the arguments better and I would not be able to respond with the same civility and grace as ATTP.

  358. nobodyknows,
    That sounds right to me, but is there a catch that I’m missing?

  359. Victor,

    You know the arguments better and I would not be able to respond with the same civility and grace as ATTP.

    Thanks for saying that, but am not sure it’s strictly true anymore.

  360. nobodyknows says:

    There is a catch. “Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.” I agree with you: define “causing.”
    I had some questions. Let me try with one of them. “How many scientific papers claim that more than 50% warming is due to human contribution?”

  361. jsam says:

    nobodyknows is a second division climateball player.

    Does he agree that there is a consensus on AGW?

  362. John Hartz says:

    An observation……

    All of the wailing and gnashing of teeth by Richard Tol and his sidekicks on this comment thread and elsewhere has had virually no impact in the real world outside of the blogosphere. Whetehr or not it has had any meaningful impact in the blogosphere, except for the consumption of energy (human and electric) is also debatable.

  363. nobodyknows,

    “How many scientific papers claim that more than 50% warming is due to human contribution?”

    If you mean since about 1950, then according to the authors of about 2000 of the papers in the Cook et al. sample, about 97%.

  364. Tom Curtis says:

    Pekka:

    “It’s important that the arguments from the side of science are correct. That’s what makes science different from other claims. When that principle is given up, all arguments weigh equally much.

    100% agreed. That does not explain, however (indeed it makes it more perplexing) as to why you are so wedded to bad arguments on this issue. Restating that principle again and again in no way convinces us that it is not you who are trying to flout it. It is merely a device for you to claim the high moral ground in lieu of the substantive argument you seem unable to provide.

  365. John Hartz says:

    A question…

    Has anyone participating in this comment thread changed his/her views on the worthiness of Cook et al (2013″) by virtue of reading the comments of others?

  366. John Hartz, I think you can ask that question below any blog post. 🙂 Changing one’s opinion normally takes time. And it normally does no happen when commenting on blogs, but in conversations with ones peers. At least this post helped my gather my mind in writing my last blog post.

  367. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz — yes. By refining my understanding of the Cook study, largely as a result of the scrutiny and commentary here (and elsewhere), I have greater acceptance of it as it is. That is to say, essentially anyone could conduct the same study and arrive at seemingly the same results and, has been suggested elsewhere (WUWT if I remember right) doing it over is unlikely to produce significantly different results.

    Caveats: It does seem that the parameters were somewhat chosen for this outcome, and it seems that governments bias the outcome by funding specific kinds of studies, and all these “seems” could and ought to be resolved. But the Cook study itself is pretty solid and could probably be used as evidence of government selection.

  368. Michael 2 says:

    Victor Venema says: “but in conversations with ones peers.”

    Which is right here. I am not surrounded by scientifically literate persons with whom I can talk about these things. In fact, I can think of no one at home or work with the slightest interest in talking about these things. To shape my thoughts I have to come here, and to REALLY shape my thoughts, go in among the opposition. I do the same with my religious views. Challenge them (but not here, it’s OT).

  369. John Hartz says:

    Michjael 2: Well, I’ll be darned! You have driven a stake through my hypothesis. I will now eat crow for lunch.

    I am actually pleased to learn that this thread has served a useful “teacing” purpose. If it didn’t, I would lokk pretty foolish for participating in it.

  370. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua “where skeptics lose me is when they start to argue that the prevalence of expert opinion is somehow irrelevant … notion of pure science.”

    The idea is that the existence of gravity, for instance, is independent not only of observers but of scientific studies. Pure science discovers things. It could be discovered by a single person and qualify as “discovered”. However, the power of that one person to move society is close to zero.

    So yes, science is not politics is not science.

    “argument as extremely political because I can’t imagine that anyone goes through life these days w/o evaluating probabilities”

    As you say, you see the obvious. Political is what moves people and societies.

    “Should we just ignore the prevalence of expert opinion as it relates to GMOs, or AIDS, or myriad issues?”

    There is no “should”. That is a groupthink word. You decide for you and I decide for me, ranging in each member of society from totally ignoring experts (seems rather common), hearing the experts and then doing it anyway (also seems common), immediately believing experts but cannot discern actual experts from rain dancers (hmm, everything seems common), finally coming round to careful persons that SEEK experts, validate their qualifications to speak on a subject, carefully consider the costs and benefits, and then decided — with still varying decisions (uncommon).

    “what am I supposed to do, since I can’t evaluate the science myself?”

    You choose a horse and ride it where it goes. Along the way you observe that other people have chosen horses and some are going your way, some aren’t, and you decide that the ones not going your way are idiots — except for the possibility they are right and your horse is going the wrong way. It’s unsettling. So you hop on blogs and try to figure it out before your horse goes too far the possibly wrong way.

  371. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Because you created this monster comment thread by virtue of posting your OP, I believe that it is incumbent on you to summarize the points made by each and every commenter in an easy to comprhend set of bullet points..

  372. BBD says:

    Caveats: It does seem that the parameters were somewhat chosen for this outcome, and it seems that governments bias the outcome by funding specific kinds of studies

    If the scientific evidence was that modern warming was not anthropogenic then that is the result that government funding would have produced. Unless of course one believes that the entire climate science community is engaged in systematic scientific misconduct.

  373. BBD says:

    Cook study itself is pretty solid and could probably be used as evidence of government selection.

    What exactly do you mean by this, Michael?

  374. John Hartz says:

    Victor Venema: Your points are well taken. Patience is not one of my strong suits.

  375. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua: “what am I supposed to do, since I can’t evaluate the science myself?”

    Go there as much as possible. I have educated myself on the absorption spectrum of carbon dioxide. I have studied latent heat and the heat of vaporization. Blackbody radiation science and then where Earth differs and why. I have studied Kelvin waves and other oceanic phenomenon (some of it during my Navy career). Listen to claims and counterclaims, solve the difference yourself.

    You aren’t probably going to be expert in any science and yet literate in all of them, putting YOU in a better position to see the “big picture” than, I think, some of the scientists actually working in some branch of what is collectively called climate science. That is why the political leaders are not themselves scientists. Pachauri is a railroad engineer. Gore is a political scientist. He doesn’t even need to believe this stuff — his talent is making YOU believe it.

  376. dana1981 says:

    Is it just me, or is arguing with Pekka very similar to bashing one’s head against a brick wall?

    “I have also presented my specific comments directly to Dana. He has not replied to the one that I have always emphasized as the most essential.”

    Except here and here and here and here I suppose. Other than those 4 times, plus the responses from DumbSci, nobody has replied to your comments.

    And other than your arguments being totally wrong, they’re entirely correct.

  377. Michael 2 says:

    BBD says: “What exactly do you mean by this, Michael?”

    Hypothesis: A continuing series of funded studies all pointing to the same result seems unnecessary for scientific purposes. For political purposes (as in my conversation with Joshua), numbers are *everything*.

    In the latter scenario, having proof of relentlessly duplicated studies all pointing the same way suggests something more than seeking knowledge. Those scientists could be studying something NEW. The Cook study, therefore, could be cited (although I don’t know anyone doing so) as evidence of pointing many scientists at the same target *because* just one won’t suffice — and in what realm will one not suffice? Politics.

  378. John Hartz says:

    Michael 2: Kudos on the sage advice you have given to Joshua.

    (It appears that ATTP’s “civility potion” is affecting at least some of the commenters. Now if he/she could only perfect a “Thou will not repeat thousyself” potion…)

  379. > Other than those 4 times, plus the responses from DumbSci, nobody has replied to your comments.

    That is false:

    [C]riticising the paper because some scientists who claim to be in the 97% don’t think there’s any urgency is a strawman.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/defending-the-consensus-again/#comment-24421

    This was said, like, two days ago.

    You may need to take this opportunity to read through Pekka’s comments to improve your FAQ, Dana. Perhaps you should rename it “FUC”, for Frequently Underlined Concerns.

  380. John Hartz says:

    Dana: It’s definitely you.

  381. John Hartz says:

    Micahel 2: You have a propensity to denigrate the value of a swath of scientific papers by modifying them with the word “funded”. Exactly what do you mean by that?

    (I trust that you are not implying tha thte only papers of “true” scioentific value are those produced by scientists who are not compensated in any wy for their time and expenses.)

  382. BBD says:

    M2

    This is a strawman:

    relentlessly duplicated studies all pointing the same

    So is this:

    The Cook study, therefore, could be cited (although I don’t know anyone doing so) as evidence of pointing many scientists at the same target *because* just one won’t suffice — and in what realm will one not suffice? Politics.

    Earth system science is a huge, multidisciplinary field. The exploration of AGW within this sphere is a huge, multidisciplinary endeavour. Your claim is self-serving and wrong.

    You are inserting the “politicised science” meme into the discourse without the slightest evidential justification. You are projecting.

  383. Joshua says:

    Michael 2:

    I do spend time looking at the arguments made by smarter and more knowledgeable people. I try to understand those arguments and I sometimes ask questions when I can’t. But realistically speaking, given my ability and background, I can only skim the surface of the technical arguments. I am not as smart as you, and I don’t have even your technical background, as limited as it is.

    So on top of what I am doing, I also look to evaluate the logic surrounding the technical arguments that people make. I use weak logic in the surrounding arguments as evidence that speaks to the probability that someone who applies weak logic ton the surrounding arguments, often due to obvious biases, is also likely to not exercise optimal control over their biases when they make technical arguments. It’s the best I can do. Let me show you an example.

    ==> ” Gore is a political scientist. He doesn’t even need to believe this stuff — his talent is making YOU believe it.”

    I don’t believe much of what Gore has to say. Never have. I thought he was smarmy when he was Vice President, and my judgement of him was formed at that time. But I certainly don’t trust what he says merely because he says it, and actually, he is notably untalented in making ME believe what he says.

    So you see? You just made a very obvious error in dealing with simple logic. When I see that, and I see at other times that your are capable of sophisticated logic, I ask myself why someone who is capable of sophisticated logic and who is smarter than I would make such a simple logical error. When I see you make technical arguments that exceed my ability and capability to understand, I use the fact that you make obvious logical errors to help me understand the probability that your technical argument has merit – because I have seen where you fail to exercise even rudimentary control over your own biases (and biases that IMO, should be obvious to you that you have).

  384. Joshua says:

    and Michael 2;

    I will note that once again, IMO, you responded to my comment but you never actually addressed my point. And as a side note, I’ll point out that you lectured me about what I should do (albeit, without actually using the word “should:), after explaining that the notion that someone should do one thing or another is groupthink.

    I’m proud that you have educated yourself to evaluate technical issues. I don’t see how that is relevant to my points that (1) everyone relies on the “consensus” among experts to inform them on probabilities, (2) that is a logical thing to do when one is incapable of understanding highly technical and complex matters with a high degree of confidence (as long as they don’t assume that a “consensus” is dispositive, (3) there is no such thing as “pure science,” and (4) the notion of “pure science” is often used as a political battering ram in the climate wars and many similar controversial issues where science is used as a proxy for ideological battles.

    Feel free to address those points.

  385. dana1981 says:

  386. John Hartz says:

    Joshua: I think that you are more intelligent than you believe yourself to be. Having said that, i can understand your reluctance to immerse yourself into the science of climate change. All you need to be an effective contributor in discussions like this is a good understanding of the basic components of the science. One of the best ways to gain such an understanding is by carefully reading the summary reports on climate change that prominent scientific organizations such at the U.S. Nationaql Acadmey of Sciece and the UK’s Royal Socieity publish on a periodic basis..

  387. John Hartz says:

    Michael 2: After more careful review, I hereby withdraw my statement, “Kudos on the sage advice you have given to Joshua.” I shot from the hip without carefully examining the totality of your ciomment. Joshua’s responses to it have also provided a much needed context.

  388. John Hartz says:

    Michael 2:

    You stated in an upstream comment addressed to Joshua:

    I have educated myself on the absorption spectrum of carbon dioxide. I have studied latent heat and the heat of vaporization. Blackbody radiation science and then where Earth differs and why. I have studied Kelvin waves and other oceanic phenomenon (some of it during my Navy career). Listen to claims and counterclaims, solve the difference yourself.

    How does the fact that you have “studied” the set of issues you have listed qualiy you to make unbiased scientific judgements about the merits of “claims and counterclaims.”?

  389. @Dana
    Did you not know that you should be outside the 95% confidence interval 5% of the time? If you’re outside less often, your statistic suffers from overconfidence or confirmation bias. Your rejoinder to my critique thus further undermines your paper.

  390. Michael 2 says:

    Jsam: “how would the readers of this fine blog evaluate this abstract?”

    Affirmative to global warming based on the output of several models, silent as to the cause of global warming, and asserts an aggregate decline in agriculture because of it.

    In other words, the abstract describes an agricultural forecast made by a computer program.

  391. ATTP: Because you created this monster comment thread by virtue of posting your OP, I believe that it is incumbent on you to summarize the points made by each and every commenter in an easy to comprehend set of bullet points.

    I can at least confirm that such a summary of the interesting comments makes for a well-read post. At least for a small blog like mine. Seems to be a service that is well appreciated and you already have to read through all the comments to moderate them.

  392. Richard,
    Until you free the Tol 300, I really think you should stop digging even more holes. If you’re really suggesting that it should be precisely 95% inside the 95% confidence interval and precisely 5% outside or else it’s completely wrong then your confidence in statistical analysis fails by not being outside the 95% confidence interval often enough.

    #FreeTheTol300

  393. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz says: “One of the best ways to gain such an understanding is by carefully reading the summary reports”

    Whereas I think that’s a terrible thing to do if you stop right there. Summary reports are political.

    It did seem odd for you to offer any word of praise to me. Not PC 😉

  394. Marco says:

    ATTP, I’d rather Richard Tol admits that
    a) he made mistakes in his mathematical methods, causing the anomalous 300 extra “rejection” papers
    b) he misinterpreted a comment of one of the authors
    c) used material that was obtained through criminal acts

    I know he cannot do this, since a) would be an admission he’s really not as good at math as he thinks he is, b) an admission he suffers from strong confirmation bias, and c) an admission he used unethical practices in his work, but still…one may dream, no?

  395. Marco,
    Indeed we can all dream. It may be futile, but if it were to happen my opinion of Richard would rise quite substantially.

  396. jsam says:

    M2 – I’m sure the users of the models are less naive than you describe. I think they are perfectly aware that the models incorporate the physics of the climate – which is then loaded with additional CO2. That would imply acceptance of AGW.

    I’m not sure why you try to deprecate computer models. They are used to design chips, airplanes and bridges. To not use a computer today may be more worrying.

    Maybe journals should include a checklist for article publication. Do you believe in evolution? Plate tectonics? Quantum theory? Are you now, or have you ever been, a believer in manmade global warming.

    #freethetol300

  397. Richard Tol writes: “If you’re outside less often, your statistic suffers from overconfidence or confirmation bias.

    What? This is the exact opposite of what happens. If you’re outside less often you are underconfident. You’ve been too conservative and over-estimated the errors.

  398. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua, I believe I did answer your questions but maybe I need to state it differently (for John Hartz, too).

    “my points that (1) everyone relies on the ‘consensus’ among experts to inform them on probabilities,”

    Exactly so. That led to my discussion of WHY that is so, the evolutionary adaptation of human beings using consensus to separate liars that operate individually from real dangers seen by many. How many witnesses are needed depends on the grandiosity of the claim (obvious religious parallels here — how many witnesses exist of crying statues of the Virgin Mary and why don’t you believe them?)

    “(2) that is a logical thing to do when one is incapable of understanding highly technical and complex matters with a high degree of confidence”

    I would use the word “reasonable” but yes, no disagreement beyond this caveat: It is also reasonable (IMO) to be skeptical of grand claims for the very same reason, it is easier to hide mischief in complexity — think of people cold-calling you offering to fix your computer.

    “(3) there is no such thing as ‘pure science,’ ”

    Or many such things, making any particular claim of what it means of no particular certainty.

    “(4) the notion of “pure science” is often used as a political battering ram in the climate wars”

    Absolutely. The No True Scientist fallacy. If you cannot discount your opponent’s science, discount the opponent himself. John Hartz uses it right here challenging my “qualifications.” 😉

  399. jsam says:

    M2 – summaries are political? Is that intentionally self-referential?

  400. @Wotts
    The bootstrap is indeed such that 95% lies insides the 95% confidence interval, and 5% outside.

    The Tol300 are a statistical construct.

  401. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua – “should” is appropriate in a conditional statement of the “if-then” form. If you want “this”, then you should do “that”. In this context “should” implies that other means exist of getting “this” but one is preferred, easier, better and that’s the one you “should” choose.

    In the context of this discussion I recognize that sometimes the condition is implied and not expressed, “IF you want to stop global warming, then you should do X or not do Y” becomes just “you should do X or not Y”.

    A collection of shared assumptions creates a culture or system of beliefs allowing shorthand language. It is this collection that Willard speaks of when he speaks of “The People” as a distinct entity from Libertarians. Private language or “jargon” is a hallmark of a culture.

  402. BBD says:

    M2

    John Hartz uses it right here challenging my “qualifications.” 😉

    Well, you were a bit confused about the LIA thing…

  403. Richard,
    Yes, but only if the Bootstrap is indeed a completely correct representation of the data that you are testing. Please tell me that you do understand this?

    The Tol300 are a statistical construct.

    If that means “they don’t actually exist” then I agree. Of course you should still either acknowledge that what you wrote in your response to Cook et al. is nonsense (as it almost certainly is) or you should free the Tol 300. You can’t claim that existing in your statistical framework but not in reality is a remotely reasonable argument (sorry, of course you can say that, but then the word “bollocks” would be a suitable response). #FreeTheTol300

  404. BBD says:

    M2

    It is also reasonable (IMO) to be skeptical of grand claims for the very same reason, it is easier to hide mischief in complexity

    Are you suggesting nefarious intent on the part of climate scientists?

  405. Amanda Wreckonwith says:

    I’m joyously relieved that the Tol300 are a statistical construct…

    I arrived late to the piece and my quick scrolling highlighted Richards past dating history – then there were references to #freethetoll300…

    For some reason I was mis-construing the Tol300 as akin to the Boko Haram 300 and had visions of these poor girls stashed away in a lock up somewhere in Brighton – held prisoner by a mop headed polymath.

    Phew!

  406. Dana, in case you are still listening. How would the result be if you took out the impact studies? Some of these scientists are likely not very knowledgeable on climate science.

  407. Eli Rabett says:

    Allow Eli to pick a slight nit, which at root has some implications for the interpretation of C13. Pekka wrote somewhere above:

    My statements about views of Lindzen, Spencer, and Christy was based on what I have elsewhere learned about their present and recent thinking and on the definitions of the levels as found in the paper of Cook et al and on the web site. Based on that I do think that their views fall rather on the positive side than on the negative.

    Note the words PRESENT and RECENT thinking. C13 surveyed literature between 1991 and 2011. That, is a pile of IPCC reports ago. Recent thinking is not necessarily a guide to where the rankings 20 years ago would have been for individuals.

    Further, while the number of abstracts matching the search terms grows with time, what is interesting is that the percentage of abstracts and the self-rating of papers, both show that the consensus position, that AGW was significant, was as strong even in the early 1990s.

    Not only is there a strong current consensus that AGW is significant, but that consensus had formed before 1991.

  408. John Hartz says:

    Michel 2: Do you belivet that the report described below has a political bias? A simple “Yes” or “No” will suffice.

    Date: Feb. 27, 2014

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    U.S. National Academy of Sciences, U.K. Royal Society Release Joint Publication on Climate Change

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, the national science academy of the U.K., released a joint publication today in Washington, D.C., that explains the clear evidence that humans are causing the climate to change, and that addresses a variety of other key questions commonly asked about climate change science.

  409. John Hartz says:

    Micahel 2: When you brag about your techical expertise, your claims are open to scrutiny by others.

  410. Michael 2 says:

    BBD “Are you suggesting nefarious intent on the part of climate scientists?”

    The question is somewhat circular — I cannot know whether sinsister or merely selfish intentions exist unless I inspect it, and I won’t inspect it unless I suspect sinister possibilities. So I happily ignored this whole thing suspecting nothing and inspecting nothing until “Climategate” popped up on a somewhat sarcastic, but informative and entertaining tech geek website called “The Register”.

    As to WHO — follow the money and that won’t be climate scientists. They are the leaves on the branches of the trunk of the money tree.

    You can also follow politics which is sort of the same thing. What is the financial or public power of a climate scientist compared to the man that hires climate scientists?

    http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-businessmen/ceos/maurice-strong-net-worth/

  411. Michael,

    The question is somewhat circular — I cannot know whether sinsister or merely selfish intentions exist unless I inspect it, and I won’t inspect it unless I suspect sinister possibilities.

    Whether you intended it or not, I think this is a fairly fundamental point. It is certainly not normal practice to assume nefarious intent when it comes to research results. In fact, I suspect it would be frowned upon if this was assumed without good reason. That so many assume so when it comes to Cook et al. (a paper that has a result that few credible people dispute) is, therefore, somewhat disturbing.

  412. @Wotts
    The bootstrap indeed represents the data. By definition.

  413. jsam says:

    “I cannot know whether sinister or merely selfish intentions exist unless I inspect it, and I won’t inspect it unless I suspect sinister possibilities.”

    M2 is now suspected of being sinister. The Register for climate science – seriously – an IT rag?

  414. KR says:

    Richard, I wholly agree with your statement that “The Tol300 are a statistical construct.” A construct of your paper.

    Your assertions in T14 are that the consensus is only ~91%, not 97%, if only those poor misled Cook et al 2013 authors had been more careful. That assertion of yours requires that there be an extra 300 or so rejection papers in the Cook et al sample, some 5x the number they actually found. And if those 300 papers existed, I suspect that the last year of your attempts to attack Cook et al would have brought a significant number of those to light via other commenters, even if you (as you have) refused to actually evaluate any abstracts, to do the work.

    The extra 300 papers you constructed do not appear to exist. If you claim they do, then produce some of them – an extraordinary claim, since that requires the Cook et al raters to miss 80% of the consensus rejections. If you now claim they _don’t_ exist, then you are disavowing your own math, and should withdraw your Comment.

    Which is it, Richard? Are you claiming (unsupported) hundreds of phantom rejections, or are you disavowing your own math? There really aren’t any other choices.

  415. Richard,
    Shall we think about this for a minute. The bootstrap is based on the final distribution of the endorsement category ratings. Right? Any chance that the actual distribution may vary with time? I think that there is probably such a chance (of course we don’t really know). If so, the bootstrap would not be a perfect representation of the actual data. So, if the results lie outside the 95% confidence interval more/less than 5% of the time it could be because the bootstrap isn’t a perfect representation of the actual data, or because of issues with the ratings (or some combination of the two).

    Do you actually think about reality when you apply your statistical tests, or do you regard everything as a statistical construct? I get the impression that you simply think that you can take some data and apply some random statistical test without actually thinking about whether or not the test is relevant or not. You chi-squared testing the author and volunteer ratings is clearly one such example. Your error correction being another and that seemed to produce 300 more reject abstracts that exist in your statistical framework, but not in reality (which, if talking to the general public, would be translated as “I ran a statistical test that produced a nonsensical result but decided to carry on anyway”). I still think you should try to #FreeTheTol300.

  416. BBD says:

    M2

    The question is somewhat circular

    No, it’s straightforward. Are you suggesting nefarious intent on the part of climate scientists?

    Yes, or no?

    * * *
    El Reg’s Andrew Orlowski has form for climate misinformation. One has to be careful which pundits one follows – the evidence-based scientific consensus is a more robust and reliable indicator of the state of human knowledge on this topic.

  417. DY said:


    The fact of the matter is that in any new application of Navier-Stokes, a huge investment in tuning all aspects of the method is usually required.

    I don’t think you will ever be able to take on a CT such as DY unless you come up with a simple conceptual or abstract view which represents the principal fluid dynamics component operating on the climate. The issue with the full-blown Navier-Stokes representation is that it is open-ended and will only yield results to those that fiddle with a particular numerical model. It is very easy to fall in to the trap of the blind leading the blind.

    What we need instead is a conceptual breakthrough that can fit on one line. And have that explain something as significant as ENSO. Having something concise and representative of the actual physics would go a long way to allowing sides to help deconstruct what is happening.

    So what I always search for is the American Journal of Physics equivalent explanation. For those not familiar with AJP, it features articles meant to be used by teachers to explain some physics phenomenon.

    Yet, as far as I can tell, there is nothing like that to describe ENSO other than the typical phenomenological discussions of geographical winds, waves, etc.

    So what I am trying to do is create an abstract model of the principal sloshing behavior of ENSO and how that can be reduced to a more concise mathematical representation.
    http://contextearth.com/2014/05/27/the-soim-differential-equation/

    This is also useful in that it can be argued against. In other words, one can formulate an argument why this cannot work. That is often just as effective in gaining a common ground on our understanding. In this case it would explain why the sloshing of liquids that is adequately modeled at a macro-level (large containers filled with fluid) will not work at the super-macro-level of the ocean. So far, I hear the criticism that the Pacific Ocean is much too shallow in relation to its diameter for anything like this model to be applicable.

    If something like this would work, it makes the niggling questions of DY moot. It forces him to argue on the much more basic and abstract level of an AJP paper, completely subverting his intent of bafflegabbing us with complexity arguments.

  418. Michael 2 says:

    jsam wrote: “I think they are perfectly aware that the models incorporate the physics of the climate – which is then loaded with additional CO2. That would imply acceptance of AGW.”

    The question was how I would rate the paper based on the words of the abstract. You evidently impute the existence of AGW, I do not. Imputing AGW puts the cart before the horse, the conclusion before the evidence. It isn’t necessary to do that.

    Find the papers that SAY outright there’s AGW and ignore all of the papers that cite the primary research. That’s just an echo chamber.

    “I’m not sure why you try to deprecate computer models.”

    The abstract is a projection of agriculture, not a report on AGW. It uses a model to produce the projection. The model uses a computer. Computers depend on Charles Babbage. Was this abstract therefore about Charles Babbage? No, at some point I stop inferring things and just go with the words. The IRS has a similar “think” — if you own your home, and it is paid for, they “impute” income to you as if you were renting from yourself (or more precisely they can but it is not clear how often they do).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imputed_income “The concept of imputing income is logically extensible to any service people perform for themselves, such as cooking their own meals, washing their own laundry, or even bathing themselves.”

    So I tend NOT to impute things except in the rare instance I am actually looking for a hidden connection. Much foolishness emanates from “imputing”.

    “Maybe journals should include a checklist for article publication.”

    That’s where “peers” come in. Publishers are not scientists and sometimes let the SciGen papers get through. What matters is that a paper *seem* to be correct and to meet certain socially accepted norms (see “Sokal Affair”).

  419. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua — we are just words on a screen. You have spoken of probabilities — the probability is that The Consensus requires belief in a great many things and yet the chances that you subscribe to the whole menu is about as great as a Catholic subscribing to the entire catechism, weeping statues, the whole bit. (not very likely in other words). But do you reveal the parts where you don’t subscribe? Not until challenged on it. Membership in any consensus (including your friendly neighborhood church) has some benefits and so you keep silent on your non-conformity until some reason suggests otherwise.

    So there’s a bit of assuming going on while we find out about each other. And when it’s done, then what?

    I’m reminded of a line from “Ender’s Game” — to destroy your enemy, you must undestand your enemy. But when you understand your enemy, you also love your enemy.

    What I see in this battle is a lack of understanding, and from that, a lack of love (respect). My study causes me to understand people, and from that love/respect. I’m disappointed that Lewandowsky didn’t ask ME. Did he want the results he got (Fury paper)? Probably, he’s not stupid, but people do wrong things when they suppose they are doing something for the Greater Good.

  420. jsam says:

    Is “statistical construct” a well-defined term within the field of gremlinology? I couldn’t find a definition. I’d like to understand what one is and how I’d recognise it.

    #freethetol300

  421. Michael 2 says:

    BBD – Tell ya what, you give me the exact value of Pi, in the decimal (base 10) numbering system (*) and using only integers, and then I’ll be willing to give you a binary answer for a non-binary situation. I’m kinda putting myself out on a limb here so I hope you cannot actually do that.

    I’ll even let you use a ratio of integers! I am the considerate one.

    But no infinite series stuff. That’s not “yes or no” such as you want from me.

    * The reason for this requirment is that it would be easy to declare the existence of a Pi-based numbering system in which case the value of Pi is just “1” but everything else becomes irrational.

  422. @Wotts
    Wrong. The bootstrap is based on the empirical distribution.

  423. David Young says:

    I still think that the reasons a lot of scientists dislike this kind of literature survey paper are well founded. Scientists in private use some very strong language to characterize those doing the summarizing or presenting results without much knowledge of the deep science that may call those results into question or call for careful qualification. This thread contains a lot of very detailed arguments about the methodology and I think Pekka in his usual careful and very non confrontational way has made a good case.

  424. John Hartz says:

    How do you know that “a lot of scientists dislike this kind of literature survey paper”?

  425. > I think Pekka in his usual careful and very non confrontational way has made a good case.

    Indeed, see for yourself:

    [Pekka] It has been repeated time after time that Lindzen, Christy, Spencer, and many others have expressed clearly that they belong to the 97%, but do not accept the urgency.

    [AT] The paper does not address whether or not we should specifically do something about this, or what we should do. […] Lindzen and Spencer claiming that they’re in the 97% is rather laughable. Lindzen thinks that equilibrium climate sensitivity is 1 K, which I would think is almost certainly wrong and is not consistent with the IPCC position.

    AT has said “laughable”, so Pekka wins.

  426. John Hartz says:

    David Young: How do you know that “a lot of scientists dislike this kind of literature survey paper”?

  427. BBD says:

    Willard

    AT has said “laughable”, so Pekka wins.

    Even “risible” would not have saved the day. Luckily, there’s physics at silly mid on.

  428. John Hartz says:

    Per usual, Michael 2 adroitly avoids answering those questions posed to him which might expose his political ideological biases. On the other hand, the lenghty comments he does post confirm his ideological biases even though he tries his darndest to mask them with smoke and mirrors.

  429. BBD says:

    Per usual, Michael 2 adroitly avoids answering those questions posed to him which might expose his political ideological biases.

    To be fair, he did say this:

    Scientific American, on the other hand, seems to have discovered that the Earth really does have an edge and fell off on the left side if you take my meaning.

  430. Joshua says:

    John –

    ==> ‘Joshua: I thin.k that you are more intelligent than you believe yourself to be. ‘

    Thanks for that vote of confidence, but I have been told by many “skeptics” many times that I am not very bright. If fact, there seems to be a “consensus” on a couple of “skeptical” websites that I”m as dumb as a rock.

    Since I always go lockstep with a “consensus,” I’m afraid I have no choice but to conclude that I was fortunate to get out of kindergarten (of course, I had to repeat seven times and they only passed me on to first grade when I had a full beard and was taller than the teacher).

  431. John Hartz says:

    Joshua: I like your sense of humor. Plus, after enduring Pekka Pirilä’s barrage of repetitive nonsense posted on this thread, i take back any negative statements I have made about your posting style. I appreciate your sincere and down-to-earth personality.

  432. Amanda Wreckonwith says:

    John Hartz:
    ‘…even though he tries his darndest to mask them with smoke and mirrors’

    As a noob, I find it astounding that these tactics persist amongst the denialati. If someone approached me in the street surrounded by a billowing grey cloud and carrying a mirror ball, I would tend to be a little circumspect in my dealings with them.

    Maybe M2 has watched ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ a few too many times…
    “…tonight Matthew, I’m going to appear to be reasonable…”
    (apologies to the non UK readers)

  433. A group of physicists/programmers at the Azimuth Project are embarking on an open-source project to develop models for predicting El Nino:
    https://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/el-nio-project-part-1/

    DY is invited to join.

  434. jsam says:

    M2 seems to be in a shark jumping competition. He doesn’t impute except when he does.

  435. Richard,
    In what way does your response prove that what I said was wrong? All it seems to be proving is that you do indeed think that you can simply throw around statistical terminology without any thought to what it actually means (odd that, given your supposed expertise). Of course, what we do now know to be wrong is your error correction routine that produce 300 extra rejection abstracts that – you now acknowledge – are simply a statistical construct (i.e., they don’t actually exist). I really think you should either correct your claims about what this means (i.e., it means your error correction algorithm is nonsense) or find them #FreeTheTol300.

    In fact, since I have no problem actually explaining something in more detail, if you’d like me to explain to you why your error correction routine is wrong, I’m happy to do so. It’s remarkably simple and amazing that you could make such a silly mistake.

  436. DY,

    I still think that the reasons a lot of scientists dislike this kind of literature survey paper are well founded.

    Scientists dislike for such surveys may well be well founded and could well be entirely reasonable, given the views scientists typically hold. See Victor Venema’s recent post, for example. However, given that this is actually a social science study and given that it isn’t aimed at the scientists themselves, it would seem that the views of scientists are actually rather irrelevant.

  437. AnOilMan says:

    I’ll pay $1000 for Richard Tol’s mythical 300 papers.

  438. @AnOilMan

    [Mod: this bit is not necessary]

    Statistical error correction does not work by identifying papers that were wrongly classified. It works by applying the observed pattern of rating reconciliation on the fraction of ratings that should have been corrected but weren’t.

  439. Richard,
    It really doesn’t matter how it is meant to work. If it produces a result that is obviously nonsensical (as I hope you agree your error correction does) then it is itself nonsensical. As I mentioned above, if you’d like me to explain where you went wrong, I’m happy to do so. It’s not difficult and I’m surprised that you haven’t recognised this yourself.

  440. Eli Rabett says:

    Dear Richard,

    If you observe the wrong pattern of errors, you produce garbage.

  441. @Wotts
    I’ve seen a number of “explanations”, but no convincing one. I guess there are three ways to correct the ratings: algebraic (per Junior), conditional (per Tom C) and marginal (per Tol). I think my way is the fairest, but there are no strong arguments either way.

    There are also multiple ways to identify the incorrect ratings. I apply a uniform error rate. I guess a conditional one would lead to a larger correction.

    Anyway, this is all about a single sentence in a dense paper.

  442. Richard,
    Well, if your method suggests that there are 300 reject abstracts missed by the original raters and you can’t find these (which should be easy to do if they exist) then your method is wrong, fair or not. #FreeTheTol300

    Here’s a bit of a clue though about the problem with your method. Consider the rating changes figure in Eli’s post. If we ignore rating changes bigger than 1, then roughly half of the changes moved a rating up 1, and half moved it down 1. There are at least two ways that one could produce such a distribution. One way is if half of those changing from one rating value moved up and half moved down (as you assumed). The other is that roughly an equal number move from one rating to the next as moved in the reverse direction – i.e., as many 4s become 3s as 3s become 4s (what actually happened). Given that what you assumed happened isn’t actually what happened might be a very big clue as to why your method magically produces 4 times as many reject abstracts as were originally found in the entire sample.

  443. Richard,

    Anyway, this is all about a single sentence in a dense paper.

    If you think this is the only issue with your paper, you’d be sorely mistaken. But, to be fair, dense may be a fair description of your paper.

  444. @Wotts
    These are not new arguments.

  445. Richard,
    Indeed, but that doesn’t make them wrong. In fact, I would argue that that is what is most concerning about this. Your errors have been pointed out in great detail by many people and yet you continue to present results that are clearly flawed. Why would you do that? I really can’t think of a reason that reflects well on you, but maybe I just haven’t thought hard enough about this.

  446. Richard,
    Two things. Firstly, the person you’re rather condescendingly calling Junior did indeed make a mistake. That doesn’t matter though, because his mistake has no bearing on your method being nonsense. Secondly, your response to the 24 errors is embarrassingly bad (do you not think before you say and do things?).

    Since you seem to quite like condescension, the best response to an accusation of being condescending was by William Connolley who responded with “with you people, it’s hard not to be”. Of course, in William’s case he typically knows what he’s talking about.

  447. Marco says:

    Richard Tol appears to be part of a small subset of the scientific community which believes that a response, regardless of its accuracy and veracity, constitutes a “rebuttal”.

  448. @Wotts
    Junior did not make “a mistake”. He made several. Following his logic (rather than his math) does not lead to nonsensical results.

    The 24 errors doc is an exercise in obfuscation: Cook and co fail to engage with any of the criticism raised, instead try to distract the reader, except at three points where they attack their own paper (Healey, nature of survey, confidence interval).

  449. Richard,
    Junior’s mistake are irrelevant. If your result is not nonsensical than #FreeTheTol300. It won’t be difficult, you’ll only need to go through 50 or so abstracts to find a couple of ones that reject the consensus.

    I also think that it’s remarkably ironic that you’re accusing others of not engaging with any of the criticisms. You might think you engage with criticism, but there’s a massive difference between arguing with those who criticise you and actually considering what they’re saying.

    I think this discussion has probably run it’s course. It seems unlikely that you’re suddenly going to say “you’re quite right, I have rather messed this up”. Also, until you #FreeTheTol300, I’m unlikely to suddenly think you haven’t messed things up. Also, given your past behaviour, if we do continue it’s very likely that you’ll start throwing around accusations of libel and slander.

    In a sense, I find myself rather conflicted. I suspect our views on the seriousness of climate change are quite different. Therefore, it may seem beneficial – to me at least – to let you continue trashing your reputation to the point where noone thinks that you have any credibility left. On the other hand, I have no great desire to see an academic destroy their reputation for reasons I’ve yet to completely understand (or want to understand). I also don’t think you’re an idiot and and since you’re already playing a high-profile role in this topic, would much prefer that you chose to play a much more positive and constructive one. So, FWIW, I would much quite pleased if you were to consider the broader picture and actually starting thinking a little more about the implications and significance of what you choose to say and do.

  450. @Wotts
    As I said, every abstract in Cook’s data is fractionally part of the Tol300 set.

  451. Richard,
    That doesn’t make any sense. The abstracts can only have a single rating (surely you knew this). Therefore a single abstract can’t slightly reject the consensus while mostly accepting it. You really should #FreeTheTol300.

  452. Richard,
    FWIW, you are making me laugh. I don’t know if you’re joking or not, but would be happy to accept that you are if you were to suggest that that is all that you’re really doing.

  453. Come on, Wotts, you claim to be a physicist. Think of Heisenberg and his cat.

  454. Yes, Richard, but when you observe the cat the wavefunction collapses into a single state. The abstracts can’t exist in a super-position of states once they’ve been observed. Entertaining as this is, I really must go and do some final edits on the review paper that I need to submit by the end of the week.

  455. verytallguy says:

    Finally, Richard reveals to us what became of the Tol300. Schrödinger’s cat ate them.

    #FreeTheTol300
    #beyondparody

  456. Amanda Wreckonwith says:

    Perhaps the girl that left Richard for CERN got ‘a little bit pregnant’ then?

  457. Joshua says:

    How do you know that Gremlins didn’t eat them?

  458. Wow.

    Parody is right. But where else other than quantum-woo and absurd stats-fu does Richard have to “retreat” to now? If these rejection papers did in fact exist, there would be almost 400 in the total population – slightly more than 3%. So it should be dead easy to sample, say, 500* – or whatever you need for statistical representativeness – and find 10, 15 or so rejection papers. But we know they don’t exist.

    So off we go into “Look! Schrodinger’s squirrel!” territory.

    Embarrassing.

    #FreeTheTol300

    * Maybe thirty hours of work for reasonably competent raters. Although it would probably take Richard months to do this because he wouldn’t want his raters to get fatigued by rating more than one or two at any one sitting.

  459. dana1981 says:

    Victor,

    “Dana, in case you are still listening. How would the result be if you took out the impact studies?”

    I don’t know off the top of my head, but certainly not far from 97%.

    “The Tol300 are a statistical construct.”

    We finally agree on something! Though it would be more precise to say “The Tol 300 are a fabrication of an erroneous statistical testl” I like the Schrodinger’s cat hypothesis though, very amusing!

  460. Ian Forrester says:

    I think this cartoon summarizes this thread. I’m sure we all have our own idea of who is sitting alone on the scale.

    h/t to SkS.

  461. dana1981 says:

    “Yes, Richard, but when you observe the cat the wavefunction collapses into a single state. The abstracts can’t exist in a super-position of states once they’ve been observed”

    Essentially we opened the box and observed its contents. Then Richard closed the box and tried to come up with a probability distribution of its contents, except he screwed that up. Then he tried to argue that his screwed up estimate negated our observations.

  462. John Hartz says:

    Dana: Would that be Pandora’s?

  463. @Victor, Dana
    Actually, if the impacts & mitigation papers are omitted, the dissensus rate goes from 2% to 7%.

  464. jsam says:

    Ah, the 300 exist in the imaginary plane.

  465. Andy Skuce says:

    For a textbook case of chutzpah, here is Nir Shaviv blaming us for misclassifying his abstract while admitting that he was deliberately unclear in the way he wrote his paper to smuggle it past the reviewers.

    “I couldn’t write these things more explicitly in the paper because of the refereeing, however, you don’t have to be a genius to reach these conclusions from the paper.”

    http://www.populartechnology.net/2013/05/97-study-falsely-classifies-scientists.html

    ——–
    With apologies to Tennyson:

    “Forward, the Tol Brigade!”
    Was there a man dismay’d?
    Not tho’ the soldier knew
    Someone had blunder’d:
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die:
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the three hundred.

  466. AnOilMan says:

    I repeat. I’ll pay $1000 cash for Richard Tol’s mythical 300 papers.

    Does anyone else want to put their money where their mouths are?

  467. jsam says:

    I have an imaginary $1000 for his imaginary 300 abstracts. Does that count?

  468. verytallguy says:

    RichardTol

    Actually, if the impacts & mitigation papers are omitted, the dissensus rate goes from 2% to 7%.

    Is that an actual change from 2% to 7%, or merely a “statistical construct”?

    But seriously, to have any credibility you need to put up sufficient papers from a random sample which were misclassified. There need to be 300 in total.

    Otherwise, just have the courage to admit your paper was in error.

    Everyone will admire you if you do this. Even more so if you accompany that with an acknowledgement that your campaign to be “destructive” to someone else’s work has not proved a great way to do good science.

    #FreeTheTol300.

  469. AnOilMan says:

    I really will pay cold hard cash. I’m offering. I wanna see RIchard Tol’s mythical 300 papers. I wanna see them for myself. With Anthony Watts claiming there’s millions of people visiting his site, producing the 300 mythical papers shouldn’t be hard at all.

    $1000 any takers?

  470. Nobodyknows says:

    ATTP answers to my question: How many scientific papers claim that more than 50% warming is due to human contribution?
    “If you mean since about 1950, then according to the authors of about 2000 of the papers in the Cook et al. sample, about 97%.”
    I think that the consensus study report has no an answer to my question. When I look into the Cook et. al study (11944 papers) and try to find an answer (explicit endosement with quantification), I think it is less than 1 %.

  471. jsam says:

    Nobodyknows – try flicking through a year of journals. A quick test of your “analysis” mocks you. Why not try doing some evaluations on the supplied site?

  472. dana1981 says:

    “I think that the consensus study report has no an answer to my question. When I look into the Cook et. al study (11944 papers) and try to find an answer (explicit endosement with quantification), I think it is less than 1 %.”

    You’re talking about Category 1 (explicit endorsement with quantification): in the self-ratings it’s greater than 1%. Of the papers that explicitly quantify the human contribution, it’s 96% (with a bit less than 4% explicitly saying the human contribution to global warming is < 50% since 1950).

  473. John Hartz says:

    Most cherry-pickers wear clothes while they toil away in the trees. Nobodyknows does it naked.

  474. AnOilMan says:

    Mythological creature known as the Unicorn has been spotted;
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1025793/The-horned-deer-solve-mystery-unicorn.html

    Yet there is still no sign of 300 papers Richard Tol claims exist. I’d pay cold had cash to see such rare beasts. Yup… Cash.

    #FreeTheTol300

  475. “Someone once told me that I’m delusional …. I almost fell off my unicorn!”

  476. Nobodyknows says:

    jsam: try flicking through a year of journals. That is just what I tried.

  477. Nobodyknows,
    I hope you didn’t get fatigued 🙂

  478. AnOilMan says:

    Nobodyknows: Wow… that’s dedication. I’d pay you $1000 for Richard Tol’s 300 mythical papers if you could find them.

  479. John Hartz says:

    Meanwhile, back in the real world…

    NCDC Global Analysis – May 2014

    The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for May 2014 was record highest for this month, at 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average of 14.8°C (58.6°F).

    The global land surface temperature was 1.13°C (2.03°F) above the 20th century average of 11.1°C (52.0°F), the fourth highest for May on record. For the ocean, the May global sea surface temperature was 0.59°C (1.06°F) above the 20th century average of 16.3°C (61.3°F), making it the record highest for May and tying with June 1998, October 2003, and July 2009 as the highest departure from average for any month on record.

    The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the March–May period was 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average of 13.7°C (56.7°F), making it the second warmest such period on record, behind 2010.

    The March–May worldwide land surface temperature was 1.26°C (2.27°F) above the 20th century average, the third warmest such period on record. The global ocean surface temperature for the same period was 0.54°C (0.97°F) above the 20th century average, also the third warmest March–May on record.

    The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the January–May period (year-to-date) was 0.66°C (1.19°F) above the 20th century average of 13.1°C (55.5°F), the fifth warmest such period on record.

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/

  480. Michael 2 says:

    And the “obvious statement of the day” award goes to:

    John Hartz “When you brag about your techical expertise, your claims are open to scrutiny by others.”

    It can be no other way 🙂

    Actually doing so (scrutinizing) is close to not possible. Suppose for instance I gave you my Cisco certification number. You can verify that on Cisco’s website. However, what you cannot do is know that I (the person writing these words right now) am the person that goes with the number. Proof is not to be had over this network. Only words.

  481. corey says:

    AOM,

    Careful with that $1000 – a certain Goat in the Machine may decide that it’s public property.

  482. jsam says:

    If Tol can’t find the 300 maybe he should ask his IT expert [Mod: defamatory], Brandon, have a go.

  483. BBD says:

    “Goat in the Machine” is very good.

  484. KR says:

    Isn’t PopTech on Tols acknowledgement list? Surely with his skills at interpreting the literature (apparently closing one eye and squinting hard enough with the other makes some papers appear to reject the consensus) he could help Richard locate a few of the missing 300.

    Richard, your math produces absurd results, and is therefore _incorrect_. Whether or not you admit it, that is clear to everyone else, and your ongoing attempts to dodge the question look extremely bad. To put it mildly.

  485. John Hartz says:

    The following caught my eye. i believe it is relevant to the ongoing dialogue between Richard Tol and others on this comment thread.

    “The really interesting recent(-ish) physics case that ought to be a big part of a discussion of replication in physics and other sciences is the story of “supersolid” helium, where a new and dramatic quantum effect was claimed, then challenged in ways that led to some heated arguments. Eventually, the original discoverers “>re-did their experiments, and the effect vanished, strongly suggesting it was a noise effect all along. That’s kind of embarrassing for them, but on the other had, speaks very well to their integrity and professionalism, and is the kind of thing scientists in general ought to strive to emulate. My sense is that it’s also more the exception than the rule, even within physics.”

    The above is the concluding paragraph of the article,On Black Magic in Physicsby Chad Orzel on his blog, Uncertain Principles, June 16, 2014,

  486. > Isn’t PopTech on Tols acknowledgement list?

    Since it even includes my name, I suggest we take that list with a grain of salt.

  487. Poptech says:

    Dr. Tol’s paper is having such an impact destroying the manufactured 97% consensus that I added it to the highlights section of my list. Everyone I show it to feels like they have been scammed by Cook et al. and don’t believe the 97% anymore. “Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the literature: A re-analysis” is one of the best papers ever written, it is up there in the climate debunking hall of fame with McIntyre’s work.

    Also the traffic to my 97% debunking posts is through the roof.

  488. dhogaza says:

    “Everyone I show it to feels like they have been scammed by Cook et al. and don’t believe the 97% anymore.”

    Even though Tol himself, for all practical purposes, does.

  489. AnOilMan says:

    Poptech, I’ll pay $1000 for the 300 papers.

  490. Poptech says:

    “apparently closing one eye and squinting hard enough with the other makes some papers appear to reject the consensus”

    Strawman argument, the argument of “consensus” is irrelevant to the purpose of my list.

  491. Poptech says:

    dhogaza, I have had members of congress change their minds because of Tol’s paper, it is that good. They feel scammed by the green lobby and don’t trust them anymore. Cook et al. has done what I could have only dreamed of.

  492. corey says:

    “dhogaza, I have had members of congress change their minds because of Tol’s paper, it is that good.”

    Do tell.

    #TolsGoatEatsAbstracts

  493. BBD says:

    Bunch of liars fool stupid American politicians – hold the front page… not.

  494. @Willard
    You helped me sharpen my arguments, so you are rightfully included in the acknowledgements.

  495. BBD says:

    Nice one, Willard and KR.

    Please remember the old proverb: ‘naming calls’.

    Perhaps just initials next time?

    😉

  496. BBD says:

    Dr. Tol’s paper is having such an impact destroying the manufactured 97% consensus

    No, it isn’t. You are imagining things PT. Argument from fevered hallucination and all that.

  497. BBD says:

    it is up there in the climate debunking hall of fame with McIntyre’s work.

    Except McI’s error-riddled junk *didn’t* debunk MBH99, and that result still stands today – see eg. PAGES-2K.

    More fevered imaginings.

  498. dana1981 says:

    I would agree that Tol (2014) is in the same class as M&M (2004), though even more flawed! Let me fix this sentence though:

    “Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the literature: A re-analysis” is one of the worst papers ever written

  499. Poptech says:

    BBD, I have shown it to hardened environmentalists and they said “Wow, what a scam”. It has become childs play now to debunk the 97% “consensus”, just show them Dr. Tol’s paper.

  500. Poptech says:

    BTW, I know how much of an effect it is really having according to my mole at Skeptical Science. Cook is still so clueless who it is.

  501. corey says:

    “BBD, I have shown it to hardened environmentalists and they said ‘Wow, what a scam’.”

    You know Jim Steele? 🙂

    Really, how you find the time to assemble lists in between your meetings with Congress and organizing your spy ring?

  502. Poptech,

    I have had members of congress change their minds because of Tol’s paper, it is that good.

    How does this prove that it’s good? I might argue the reverse 🙂

  503. dhogaza says:

    Poptech and his endless delusions of adequateness …

  504. corey says:

    (O, for the ability to edit one’s post!)

  505. In fact if what Poptech says is true, then surely Richard must be devastated by that. He does not dispute the consensus, simply the method used by Cook et al. If his paper is now being used to convince policy makers that there is not a consensus, then it is being used to mislead and he should surely do his utmost to clarify this position. If a paper that illustrates a self-evident truth should not be used to convince policy makers of this truth, surely a paper that does not dispute this self-evidence truth should not be used to convince them of it’s non-existence.

  506. BBD says:

    PT

    It has become childs play now to debunk the 97% “consensus”, just show them Dr. Tol’s paper.

    I leave you to your delusions.

    * * *

    Consider the difficulties involved in “debunking” physics and paleoclimate.

    I’d laugh, but it’s more pitiful than funny.

  507. BBD says:

    ATTP

    That’s verging on the sub-Helleresque.

    🙂

  508. Michael 2 says:

    dhogaza, your sentence appears to have been cut off mid-sentence: “Poptech and his endless delusions of adequateness …”

  509. corey says:

    Catch 300.

  510. John Hartz says:

    My reaction to Poptech’s arrival:

    “There goes the neigborhood!”.

  511. AnOilMan says:

    What’s the difference between Tol’s 300, and Unicorns? Unicorns are real!

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1025793/The-horned-deer-solve-mystery-unicorn.html

  512. jsam says:

    Poptech is being double-agented by SkS? Delicious.

  513. pbjamm says:

    ABANDON THREAD!
    I hope we have all learned a lesson about invoking the name of POPTECH. Any hope of anything useful coming out of this thread has now been torpedoed.

  514. Richard,

    You helped me sharpen my arguments, so you are rightfully included in the acknowledgements.

    I’d really rather you avoided insulting the other commenters, especially as I’m also included in the acknowledgements 😉

  515. AnOilMan says:

    Its really an anagram for voldamort…

  516. Michael 2 says:

    I’ve mentioned it a few times without an obvious citation and I feel I should at least provide an example of what I occasionally complain about — not the consensus (little c) but The Consensus:

    This quote is from Richard Branson, civilian space entrepreneur, and very rich. That seems to be the common denominator of Do Something Now ™.

    “97% of scientists agree that humans are causing global warming.”
    http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/climate-change-is-no-joke

    So far as I know, no survey exists of 100 percent of scientists in order to glean a 97 percent value. Quite frankly it ought to be 100 percent of scientists since carbon dioxide is easily shown to be a greenhouse gas.

    Where you will get less than 100 percent consensus is for any specified level of disaster associated with that carbon dioxide.

    Notice that Branson makes no claims ABOUT it, just that it exists. Well, okay, so it seems.

  517. Rachel M says:

    This comment thread is beginning to resemble WUWT. Let’s tone it down a bit otherwise I’m banning the lot of you! Including AndThen.

  518. BBD says:

    Rachel

    Been telling you to do that since the beginning.

    Corey

    🙂

    Totes amuse.

  519. > Let’s tone it down a bit otherwise I’m banning the lot of you! Including AndThen.

    I agree, as AT is now stealing my thunder (I have in mind that wedge between Pop-the-censor and Richard). In his own place. What a lousy host… 😉

    I thought AT was in great shape today. His exchange with Richard was worth the read.

  520. KR says:

    My apologies for a rather snarky tone above – I’m just rather tired of Tols ongoing campaign to find fault where none exists.

    That said, PopTech has at least shown a willingness to look through some literature, unlike Tol – and perhaps he could point Tol towards some of the mythic 300 additional rejections his (mis)analysis requires.

    Of course, those additional 300 just don’t exist, hence Tols error analysis on ratings is completely without merit. Along with his arguments about composition/consensus, bias, rater fatigue, sample representation, and in fact the entirety of his Comment.

  521. To get more serious, I had an interesting Twitter discussion with someone about this today (I’ve embedded one of the tweets below). The argument they were making, which I think is correct, goes something like this. Consider you’re doing some kind of survey to try and find something, in this case abstracts that take a position wrt AGW. If you’re less likely to find abstracts that take a position than abstracts that take no position, then you’d expect to find – initially – more false positives than false negatives (i.e., more 1,2,3,5,6,7 abstracts that should be 4, than 4 abstracts that should be 1,2,3,5,6,7). Hence, any error correction routine should increase the number of 4s. Tol’s does the opposite which implies he’s assuming that initially there were more false negatives (no position wrt AGW) than false positives (position wrt AGW). I think this is another reason Tol’s error correction doesn’t make sense, but maybe someone else could think about this too and see if I’ve got it right. This may also just be another way of illustrating what’s already been said.

  522. @Wotts
    Why don’t you try and get your preferred error correction procedure published?

  523. Tom Curtis says:

    Richard Tol:

    “Junior did not make “a mistake”. He made several. Following his logic (rather than his math) does not lead to nonsensical results.”

    Following Junior’s logic (rather than his math) shows Tol’s “marginal” error correction method to predict an initial classification of approximately -213 papers as implicitly rejecting AGW. That shows, in turn, his marginal method to be nonsense as a method for error correction in this case. (Indeed, it represents nothing more than the mathematical fallacy of believing that the product of the means equals the mean of the products.) Tol is quite welcome to work through the maths fully to show this is wrong, something he has singularly failed to do (for obvious reasons).

    On a side note, using a conditional correction method does lead to a slightly higher predicted error rate as Tol suggests above, but does not lead to a large change in the consensus rate after correction.

  524. About 40% of the papers are on impacts, which by definition support the consensus, I guess. If you would remove all of them the consensus would go from 97.1% to 95%. Which is still a clear consensus, a clear general agreement.

    The reason to remove such papers would be that not all authors may be sufficiently knowledgeable about climate change to make their support interesting. However, I would expect from my experience that most of them will be knowledgeable. Thus the value is closer to 97% as to 95%. Quite robust result. Which is also illustrated by all the different studies, with different methods that all find a similar consensus. Amazingly robust for such a relatively fuzzy concept as a consensus on climate change.

    May I suggest to put the word poptech in the moderation list?

    #FreeTheTol300

  525. jsam says:

    Even Paulson says we should do something. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/22/opinion/sunday/lessons-for-climate-change-in-the-2008-recession.html?_r=0

    Thank goodness we can move beyond the consensus discussion, now that we all agree there is one.

  526. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: If you are looking for a less controversial topic for your next OP, you may want to address the issues raised by Chris Huhne in his op-ed, Nation states are too small to fix global problems posted in The Guardian, June 22, 2014. As Huhne sates, “We need a debate about tackling international problems, rather than hankering for some mystic past in which country was king.”

  527. Tom Curtis says:

    For what it is worth, rating 1-3 papers as a percentage of rating 1-3 & 5-7 papers is:

    98.04% for all papers;
    99.37% for category 2&3 papers (Impacts & Mitigation);
    92.81% for category 4&5 papers (Methods & Paleoclimate);
    98.64% for category 2 papers (Impacts);
    99.84% for category 3 papers (Mitigation);
    91.48% for category 4 papers (Methods); and
    97.69% for category 5 papers (Paleoclimate).

    What is misleading about quoting the 2&3 papers (as Richard Tol well knows) is that, first, there is no reason to think they are particularly irrelevant to the question. In particular papers assessing the probable temperature response to a given forcing scenario by 2100 would fall under the category of “Impacts”, and such papers are highly relevant, and would have been included if this was a survey of papers providing evidence (rather than papers endorsing) AGW.

    Second, there is no reason in general why papers in the Methods category would be particularly relevant as evidence of AGW. In fact the more purely they deal with methods, the less likely they are to either to either provide evidence in relation to, or take a position on AGW. A paper detailing the construction of an ARGO float is climate related but is of less direct relevance to the issue of endorsement or not than one on the likely impacts of an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Thirdly, (as always) Tol refuses to recognize the meaning of the word “endorse”. “Mitigation” papers are very relevant to the issue of endorsement. They show the extent to which reasonably informed scientists accept the results of the IPCC (and related climate science). As was once noted, anti-realism with regard to electrons became indefensible once they started building electron microscopes. The large mitigation literature shows that scientists are confident enough in the results of climate science (and that anthropogenic factors account for >50% of recent warming) that they are prepared to build a career on that assumption.

    Finally, the endorsement rate of category 2,4&5 papers is 96.36%. If Tol were serious about excluding papers that “must” endorse the consensus on the basis of their intent, that is the figure he would be quoting. His intent, however, is destructive criticism without any apparent additional commitment to the rationality of his criticism, however, so he chooses the lower figure simply because it is lower.

  528. Michael 2 says:

    Victor Venema: “About 40% of the papers are on impacts, which by definition support the consensus”

    I do not see it that way and I can see where raters would vary. I am doubtful that “implicit” should have any place in a scientific conversation. If 64 papers say unequivocally that global warming is happening and human caused, work with it. Ignore the rest.

    It is entirely appropriate to use a model, and consider agricultural impacts *without* agreeing that this is what is GOING TO HAPPEN.

    It is just part of Risk Management. Consider the risks, however unlikely or by what means caused, and mitigate it. That is all. Now it may be reasonable to consider the possibility that human beings are causing significant or substantial global warming, and it is reasonable to suggest mitigation strategies and one must also consider probabilities. That’s where the models enter the picture. It is not endorsement of AGW per se, but rather acceptance of risk of GW never mind the “A” part.

  529. Michael 2 says:

    Tom Curtis, while it doesn’t change much I hope you’ll consider your opinion on declaring mitigation papers to automatically endorse AGW.

    I believe it is more correct to assume they accept the possibility of GW and suggest mitigation strategies as part of risk management. The “A” part need not be part of the analysis — what difference does it make HOW global temperatures rise as to impact on agriculture? To be sure, mitigation strategies necessarily will include the possibility of human cause, and appropriate strategies related thereto — but it would be a failed risk assessment to ONLY consider human beings the cause of future warming (or cooling).

    Therefore I do not accept mitigation papers as endorsing AGW but I *do* accept having a category of implicit endorsement since it’s probably useful for something.

  530. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    ==> “@Willard
    You helped me sharpen my arguments, so you are rightfully included in the acknowledgements.”

    You sharpened your arguments?

    When?

  531. Richard,
    That response makes me think I may have a point. I don’t have a preferred error correction. I don’t have any particular reason to want to write a response to Cook et al. As far as I’m aware, their result is self-evidently true.

  532. @Wotts
    It should make think alright. For a year, you’ve lambasted me for daring to criticize a peer-reviewed paper. You are criticizing a peer-reviewed paper yourself now.

  533. Richard,
    I haven’t criticised you for criticising a peer-reviewed paper. I’ve criticised what you’ve said about the peer-reviewed paper (i.e., most of your criticisms do not appear to be valid) and I’ve implied that you could have done so in a more pleasant and constructive manner. I have no problem with someone criticising a peer-reviewed paper. That’s healthy. My issue is the manner in which it is done, not that it is being done. If you think the point I made above is wrong, feel free to explain why. I very clearly indicated that I wasn’t sure that it was right.

  534. There’s a lot of confusion regarding the words “mitigation” and “adaptation”. Cook et al. 2013 uses the standard definition of mitigation:

    “(3) Mitigation – Research into lowering CO2 emissions or atmospheric CO2 levels”

    This endorses AGW because there’d be no need to lower CO2 emissions or scrub it out of the atmosphere if we weren’t the dominant cause of global warming. Many people confuse the word “mitigation” with “adaptation” which instead refers to adapting to the changes our CO2 emissions are causing. Those wouldn’t necessarily endorse AGW, but neither Tom Curtis or Cook et al. declared that they automatically endorse AGW.

    Richard Tol, nobody’s lambasting you for daring to criticize a peer-reviewed paper. We’re asking you why you’re using nonsensical arguments to make destructive comments rather than constructive comments.

    I’m shocked to find you appealing to quantum physics to explain why you won’t release your extra ~300 rejection abstracts. This would be hilarious if you hadn’t just testified before the U.S. Congress at the invitation of Republicans who are using your claims to manufacture even more unwarranted doubt about climate science. This isn’t all about a single sentence in a dense paper. It’s about you aiding the misinformation campaign which threatens the future of our civilization.

    It would be wise to #FreeTheTol300 before Energy Policy wakes up and finally asks “Hey, did Richard Tol just claim the existence of an extra ~300 abstracts, and not provide a single shred of evidence that they actually exist in reality? Why did we publish his paper without asking that simple question during peer review?”

  535. Marco says:

    I’d rather see Richard Tol use his amazing intellect to:
    a) check his own papers for more gremlins – after all, if one contains so many errors and the correction required yet another correction because the first correction contained additional errors, what about all those other papers? Who knows, even that divide by zero issue might turn out to be not nearly as impossible as Tol claimed it was…
    b) check papers by his colleague Peter Nijkamp at the VUA. Seems an anonymous whistleblower has found some major apparent data manipulation in his papers, apart from the (self-)plagiarism issues. I’m sure Richard Tol can do his own analysis and find out whether his dear colleague is a serial data manipulator, and it may also be wise, considering the VUA’s apparent attempts to hide the problems with Nijkamp’s work, which by proxy will reflect bad on Richard Tol, too, since he is directly associated to that university. Oh, and an added benefit is that, if true, it would negatively impact Nijkamp’s position on the ranking of economists, giving Richard an opportunity to climb…

  536. afeman says:

    ATTP,

    I don’t have any particular reason to want to write a response to Cook et al. As far as I’m aware, their result is self-evidently true.

    Richard Tol felt the same way, but that didn’t stop him.

  537. OPatrick says:

    This would be hilarious if you hadn’t just testified before the U.S. Congress at the invitation of Republicans who are using your claims to manufacture even more unwarranted doubt about climate science.

    Quite. In these circumstances I don’t believe Richard Tol should be allowed to get away with any ambiguity about his views. ‘I don’t know if you are joking or not…’ is too generous to him.

  538. John Hartz says:

    Given that Michael 2 has brought up the topic of fthe costs of mitigation and adaptation and given that Richard Tol is an economist, it is appropriate to note the following hot-off-the-press article:

    Bipartisan Report Tallies High Toll on Economy From Global Warming by Justin Gillis, New York Tiems, June 24, 2014

  539. John Hartz says:

    Key paragraphs from the Gillis article cited above:

    ” ‘I have come to believe that climate change is the existential issue of our age,” Mr. Rubin said. “I believe that investors should insist that companies disclose their risks, including the value of assets that could be stranded.’

    “He was referring to warnings that assets worth trillions of dollars are at risk of being stranded, or rendered obsolete, including vast coal and oil deposits that will most likely have to be left in the ground if dangerous levels of global warming are to be prevented.

    “The campaign behind the new report, called Risky Business, is funded largely by three wealthy financiers who are strong advocates of action on global warming: Mr. Paulson, who with his wife, Wendy, has helped finance conservation efforts for decades; Thomas F. Steyer, a billionaire former hedge fund executive and Democrat who is pushing to make global warming a central issue in political races around the country; and Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, who now urges cities to confront the threat of climate change.

    “They commissioned an economic modeling firm that often does work for the oil and gas industry, the Rhodium Group to assemble a team of experts who carried out the risk analysis. Trevor Houser, a Rhodium partner who led the study, sought to insulate the findings from the political opinions of the sponsors, in part by setting up a committee of leading climate scientists and environmental economists who reviewed the work.

    “Mr. Houser called the analysis ‘the most detailed modeling ever done on the impact of climate change on specific sectors of the U.S. economy.’.”

  540. AnOilMan says:

    Richard Tol, I’m not kidding about the $1000 to see the 300 mythical papers. I feel that substituting easily read and verifiable scientific abstracts with a mathematical construct is just poor form and bad workmanship.

    I’m Extremely Confident that you would never be able to collect on it, because the papers don’t exist. They never did. They never will. I believe you know this.

    I wanna see those 300 abstracts. Until I can hold them in my hands, they don’t exist. That’s a verifiable fact!

    #FreeTheTol300

  541. John Hartz says:

    Given the release of the Risky Business report described in the Gillis article cited above, I suspect that we won’t be seeing much more of Richard Tol on this comment thread. He has more than likely been given new marching orders by the GWPF to find fatal flaws (real or imaginary) in the Risky Business report.

    Will Tol carry out his new assignment independently, or will he collaborate with Roger Pielke Jr.?

    \Stay tuned.

  542. AnOilMan says:

    John Hartz: Does he get Dental with that?

    vaporware:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaporware

    “Vaporware is a term in the computer industry that describes a product, typically computer hardware or software, that is announced to the general public but is never actually released nor officially cancelled.”

    “Seven major companies issued a report in 1990 saying they felt vaporware had hurt the industry’s credibility.”

    #FreeTheTol300

  543. John Hartz says:

    AndOilMan:

    Given Tol’s propensity to brush his teeth with gunpowwder, i would hope so.

  544. Michael 2 says:

    Dumb Scientist writes: “This endorses AGW because there’d be no need to lower CO2 emissions or scrub it out of the atmosphere if we weren’t the dominant cause of global warming.”

    I see your point and accept the distinction between mitigation papers that assume AGW from adaptation papers where AGW is just one of two or more possible causes of global warming.

  545. Pingback: Consensus, Criticism, Communication | Critical Angle

  546. dana1981 says:

    Just for the record, Jim Bouldin’s latest. No idea what triggered this or what exactly he’s threatening.

  547. Dana,
    All I can conclude is that Jim Bouldin doesn’t understand the words “self-absorbed” and “irony”.

  548. jsam says:

    I think Jim would like a more “pure” treatment of the science, with more nuance. One can sympathise. http://ecologicallyoriented.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/yeah-who-cares-about-climate-change-consensus-anyway/

    But if you want to change anything that needs masses of people you need to simplify and get to core messages.

    An analogy is diet. In the UK everyone knows “five a day” (portions of fruit and veg) is the goal. The science is way more complicated than that. But soundbites sell.

  549. There seem to be a lot of people who think that the consensus project is aimed at the scientists – who already know it to be self-evidently true – when it’s really aimed at those who do not know this.

  550. Pingback: Consensus, Criticism, Communication | Planet3.0

  551. dana1981 says:

    Bouldin seems to dislike any sort of simple messaging (i.e. 97% consensus, climate change makes wildfires worse), even when those messages are generally correct. Sorry if you don’t like it, but that’s just effective communication. It’s also kind of bizarre that the example he chooses to rant about is a figure caption that he agrees is technically correct (yes, climate change does make wildfires worse, it’s just not the only factor involved). I guess he’d prefer if the figure caption were several paragraphs long.

    Interesting that he calls me an attack dog. I wonder what that makes the guy who’s threatening to come after me with gun barrels blazing.

  552. Speaking of Jim, I left a few comments at Jim’s:

    C13, for all its faults, accomplishes something that should not be dismissed out of hand. Perhaps the moral of the story is that unless you’re willing to risk having your arm caught in the ClimateBall ™ machine, stay away from bitching.

    http://ecologicallyoriented.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/our-new-consensus-study/comment-page-1/#comment-5565

    I think Jim underestimate the effort it takes to provide constructive criticisms to C13. Perhaps Richard should warn him.

    Perhaps Dana should go there and have a talk too instead of yapping here.

  553. John Hartz says:

    Willard: We can always count on you to keep the pot boiling. People get their jollies in the strangest ways.

  554. nobodyknows says:

    Dana, sks: The evidence is crystal clear that humans are the main cause of the current global warming, and the expert consensus reflects the strength of that body of evidence. It’s not easy to convince 97% of scientific experts about anything – that requires some powerful scientific evidence.
    “The evidence is crystal clear that humans are the main cause of the current global warming.” This is endorsement level 1 I think,so it is about 17 % of scientific experts who have this meaning, perhaps.But if you use a special statistic methodology you can have some special conclusions.

  555. BBD says:

    John

    Willard: We can always count on you to keep the pot boiling. People get their jollies in the strangest ways.

    That’s a little harsh. Encouraging debate is to be applauded. But it’s up to Dana where he comments, I agree.

  556. John Hartz says:

    BBD: Willard’s choice of words leaves a lot to be desired. Snark isn’t civil discourse. Anywqy, I call ’em like I see ’em.

  557. Michael 2 says:

    Dumb Scientist writes: “This endorses AGW because there’d be no need to lower CO2 emissions or scrub it out of the atmosphere if we weren’t the dominant cause of global warming.”

    On further reflection, this does not necessarily follow. Supposing that decaying peat bogs were the primary source of CO2, and humans wished to stabilize the atmospheric component, putting scrubbers on power plants still makes sense regardless of the actual source of CO2. It is sort of a cap-n-trade thing at that point, reduce power plant emissions to compensate for increased peat bog emissions.

    So I think I’ll go back to my belief that papers that assert human caused global warming need to have that as their purpose and not merely incidental. Papers that discuss adaptation (weak assumptions) or even mitigation (possibly stronger assumptions) are not by themselves useful to determine whether and how much “A” is in “GW”. However, papers that specifically identify smokestack CO2 as the cause of global warming, and then propose to mitigate it, would likely count as a strong endorsement.

  558. spettro says:

    ATTP, apologies!

    Being totally absorbed in developing a new GW educational tool I only today saw this long thread on my favourite topic, namely the pot-holes on the way to communicating the costs and dangers of the human-caused increase in GHG emissions.

    Michael 2 says:

    “…What I don’t know, and that’s why I have not taken a side, is how stringent have been the efforts to disprove the prevailing view. If the prevailing views resist challenge for a long time, they can stand as essentially proven (maybe some undiscovered nuances exist).

    How long? Plate Tectonics was in dispute for 50 years and it was never controversial, near as I can tell. No one stood to make, or lose, billions of dollars on the outcome.”

    Michael, I suggest that your own pithy last sentence holds the answer to the uncertainty expressed in the preceding paragraph.

    Given the billions (actually trillions) of dollars at stake for the energy industries and their banking and political allies, we can be sure IMO that those companies have spent many, many millions on internal studies and research in the hope of finding some publicly credible and palatable silver lining to soften or conceal the truth of Black Death at the core of their business models.

    This in addition to the billions they have spent so far on greenacres advertising, pollution settlements, and political payoffs, all intended to confuse and paralyze the voting publics in the key countries that can drive global mitigation policy.

    Add the many millions in Heartland and similar think (my way!) tanks funding, along with other underwriting of what I call the Drive-By Deniers.

    Michael, be confident: my experience as a senior banking suit-type and corporate consultant says that there is simply NO way these eco-pirates would pay such a large portion of their profits if they were not *completely convinced after decades of research that there is NO demonstrable way to disprove the AGW hypothesis*.

    Further, again in my experience, this time with econometric-type models, far simpler than the GCMs, we will surely find new aspects of GW that need to be incorporated. But the probability of stumbling upon some causal, previously unsuspected natural phenomenon that could explain even a significant portion of the present runaway warming trends, is, I stress, IMO, effectively zero.

    We need to act now; the future of our descendents is burning up before our eyes.

  559. Hello spettro,

    I’ll let your comment stand, as it responds to M2’s comment with a circumstantial argument that has an original twist. Please beware that targeting motivation is rarely felicitous. It is a double edge sword that oftentimes leads to very “physical” play, where every ClimateBall ™ player becomes the accountant of the opponent’s industries.

  560. lorcanbonda says:

    As you say in this post, “I find myself defending the consensus project again, and it’s getting both rather tedious and rather confusing. In particular, because some of those who are critical of the consensus project appear to completely accept that the scientific consensus associated with anthropogenic warming (AGW) is strong; i.e., a large majority of climate scientists agree that most of the warming since 1950 has been anthropogenic and that if we continue to increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations, we will continue to warm in line with IPCC projections.”

    The question I would ask is the opposite. If everyone agrees with a consensus, why don’t you quote papers conducted in a better manner than John Cook’s. The beef with that paper is that the methodology is faulty. That being the case, it is natural for some scientists to have a problem with faulty research, because it undermines the hard work that they do on the subject. (i.e. if they could just make up numbers, why conduct actual research?)

    But even further, the argument against John Cook is not simply, “The study was unethical because one of the goals was to influence policy makers and the public.” That is a straw man argument. Nobody cares about the goals for the paper, they care about the bias of the raters. Biased raters do a poor job of assessing opinions. It’s like the old saw, “If you ask every carpenter how to fix a house, 97% will answer ‘with a hammer’. (The other 3% will wonder what the problem is only to discover that it is electrical.)”

    Richard Tol says it best — Politicians use the 97% as a hammer to bludgeon opposing view points without even understanding the paper. “Consensus has no place in science. Academics agree on lots of things, but that does not make them true. Even so, agreement that climate change is real and human-caused does not tell us anything about how the risks of climate change weigh against the risks of climate policy. But in our age of pseudo-Enlightenment, having 97% of researchers on your side is a powerful rhetoric for marginalizing political opponents. All politics ends in failure, however. Chances are the opposition will gain power well before the climate problem is solved. Polarization works in the short run, but is counterproductive in the long run.”

  561. I wasn’t going to bother posting your comment, but this was too funny to resist

    Richard Tol says it best

  562. lorcanbonda says:

    I’m glad I brought a small measure of humor to your life.

    Could you help me understand something about this “debate” — Why is it the knee jerk response to insult the messenger rather than rebut the message? I’ve never really understood that approach — to me it says more about you than it does about Richard Tol.

    Now, I’m sure there is no lack of supercilious jibes in climate change. From what I understand, Climate Change is the single most divisive issue in the nation. Rather than discuss the many unknowns of a massive technical problem — we lob witticisms over a sliver called the consensus and avoid any of the really difficult questions.

    In fact, one might call it a counter-productive polarization. I wonder if anyone has identified a possible root cause for that.

  563. anoilman says:

    It depends on the message lorcanbonda. Serial misinformers tend to get an unpleasant welcome. Its that simple.

    If you have issues with Cook.. fine.. go with Tol, and his 95% Consensus. Have fun with that!

    I’ve been looking for errors in Global Warming Science for some 10 years…

    … and I’m still waiting for an error to be pointed out.

    (By the way… you’re not new to this, and you’ve been goofing around actively in denial circles for some time now. Maybe you could find something more productive to do than dredge up an old blog thread, and lob witticisms.)

  564. Marco says:

    “rather than rebut the message”
    Your message and your history essentially said “I have made up my mind already”.

    What’s the use rebutting the message if you are extremely unlikely to consider the rebuttal anyway?

    But if you are honestly interested:
    “Nobody cares about the goals for the paper, they care about the bias of the raters. Biased raters do a poor job of assessing opinions.”

    *This* is what is a strawman argument. You see, Cook et al explicitly addresses this question *and* has given others a possibility to compare their ratings with your own assessment. They were *aware* of potential bias, and that does a lot to reduce the influence of said bias. Maybe even too much so: the evidence so far is that the people who rated the abstracts were, if anything, “biased towards the side of least drama”.

    Of course, Tol’s complaint about consensus is quite funny, considering his multiple papers where he draws a poorly substantiated curve through numerous estimates of the economical damage of climate change. If you think about it, it is an attempt to come to some kind of ‘consensus’ about what the economical impacts will be. If he believes that consensus is nonsense, he would just ‘ignore’ all the other studies, and just say that others have found higher/lower values than he gets. Period.

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