Consensus messaging – again

I’ve written before about my views with respect to consensus messaging. It seems to be a topic that divides opinion, but there was a recent paper suggesting that

perceived scientific agreement is an important gateway belief, ultimately influencing public responses to climate change.

Dan Kahan, however, has apparently found a serious problem with this paper and has pronounced that

the announced conclusions in the paper are not supported by the data.

There are indications that Dan Kahan may well have found a genuine issue with this paper. However, he appears to have been rather critical of this work, and of the authors, for quite some time. In the latter of his posts, though, it took me a while to – I think – convince Dan that he was misrepresenting what they had asked in their survey. It’s maybe good that he might now have found a genuine issue; if you look hard enough…..

As far as I can tell Dan Kahan particularly dislikes consensus messaging. The reason seems to be that it is polarizing and toxic and aims to make certain groups seem stupid. Consequently he seems to regard it as ineffective and, quite possibly, doing more harm than good. On the other hand, if trying to make others seem stupid is an ineffective way to convince them of your position, then – based on my brief interactions with Dan – he clearly has no interest in convincing me of his position.

I don’t really know if consensus messaging is effective, or not, but there are others – such as Lawrence Hamilton – who seem to indicate that it might be effective in certain circumstances. I also might take Dan Kahan’s criticism of consensus messaging more seriously, if didn’t appear as though he was desperately keen to find problems with studies that do indicate an effectiveness, and wasn’t so openly insulting of those who undertake this work. I’d also take it more seriously if those who latched onto his claims weren’t also those who seem to most dispute the consensus position with respect to AGW.

The latter point is one reason I’m not convinced that consensus messaging is so ineffective. If it is so ineffective, why do those who seem to most dispute the consensus position seem so gleeful whenever anyone criticises consensus messaging. Surely if it is ineffective, those who don’t want the public to accept the consensus would want it to continue being used? Okay, that’s maybe not a very good argument, but it does seem strange.

My own position is really quite simple, as might be expected of a physicist who doesn’t claim to understand what might, or might not, work.

  • If one considers relevant experts, or the relevant literature, there is clearly a strong consensus with respect to anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Essentially, that there is a consensus is true.
  • If one is going to undertake some kind of messaging, it should be based on something that is true.
  • Arguing against a messaging strategy that is based on something true, seems – to me – a little odd. Maybe those who do so should be doing so in a constructive manner and be presenting a viable alternative that is also based on a truth?
  • If a messaging strategy based on a truth is indeed polarising and toxic, maybe this is – in itself – interesting; why does promoting a truth end up being divisive?
  • How do we get people to accept the reality of AGW if we shouldn’t highlight the level of agreement amongst relevant experts and within the literature?
  • If we do downplay, or ignore, the existence of a consensus, won’t that allow minority views, that are not regarded as credible, to be given more credence than is warranted?

To be clear, I don’t know if consensus messaging is effective, or not, but people I respect argue that there is evidence for its effectiveness. Also, I’m certainly not suggesting that consensus messaging should be the be all, and end all, of how we communicate this topic; my own preference would be to try and explain the science more thoroughly, but that’s apparently failed too. My basic issue is with the idea that we should avoid a strategy that is based on something that is true.

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204 Responses to Consensus messaging – again

  1. John Mashey says:

    Medical science developed a consensus on the idea that smoking was bad for health, in the US this was in Surgeon General 1964 report.

    Was it a good idea or bad idea to promote that as a scientific consensus?
    (And if irrelevant, why did Big Tobacco spend so much effort to generate doubt?)

    Is there any parallel? Try Big Tobacco, Big Fossil Power Machinery of Doubt.

  2. Instead of speculating about Kahan’s motives, you could of course also check his arguments.

  3. Richard,

    Instead of speculating about Kahan’s motives

    I didn’t mention Kahan’s motives. Reading comprehension problem again?

    I notice you didn’t respond to this

  4. John Hartz says:

    If consensus messaging doesn’t work, there would be no need for the climate science denier crowd to challenge its existence.

  5. Actually Dan Kahan’s objections appear to be threefold.

    first, because it misunderstands the nature of the problem;

    second, because it diverts resources from alternative approaches that have a much better prospect for success; and

    third, because it predictably reinforces the toxicity of the climate chagne debate for our science communication environment.

  6. L Hamilton says:

    As ATTP (and cited tweet) allude, there’s a paper out there in review — inspired, actually, by earlier feedback on this blog,
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/guest-post-the-elephant-in-the-room/

    Cthulhu knows what the reviewers will make of it, but said paper consults seven years of surveys to ask,
    1. Is public belief in the reality of ACC rising? (yes)
    2. Is public belief that most scientists agree ACC is real, also rising? (yes)
    3. Is polarization on either point widening? (no)
    4. Do changes appear gradual rather than event-driven? (yes)

    A plausible explanation for these results, and additional details, is the accumulation of public evidence that most scientists agree.

  7. Lawrence,
    Interesting, thanks.

    This seems a key point to me

    4. Do changes appear gradual rather than event-driven? (yes)

    I don’t think anyone would expect any kind of messaging to be effective over-night. It seems quite likely that it could take quite some time for people to accept the existence of a consensus. If so, continuing to highlight the existence of this consensus would seem quite important if we are interested in the public being informed.

  8. Francis says:

    This may sound snarky, but it’s really not meant that way.

    I thought that a core principle of science is that people should be free to study whatever they want. This includes possibly painful topics like the inheritability of intelligence, the distribution of athletic and/or cognitive skills within and across certain groups, and the existence or lack thereof of a consensus in a community on a particular point. So long as the research is done with integrity and in accordance with scientific principles, then no one should be objecting.

    Of course, there’s no guaranty that anyone wants to fund your research program or publish the results.

    So why the objection to conducting what is really just a particular kind of poll? Polling is a legitimate science used in any number of disciplines.

  9. Francis,

    So long as the research is done with integrity and in accordance with scientific principles, then no one should be objecting.

    Yes, I agree.

    So why the objection to conducting what is really just a particular kind of poll? Polling is a legitimate science used in any number of disciplines.

    I don’t quite get the context of what you mean here. Who is objecting to conducting a poll?

  10. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Marketing, then.

  11. John Hartz says:

    As you may be aware, Joe Romm has been, and continues to be, extremely critical of the way the US mainstream media has covered manmade climate change. His most recent post on this topic, The Insidious Way The Media Downplays Climate Science (Climate Progress, May 19, 2016), begins with a discussion of why the Consensus Gap exists.

    According to Romm the reasons for the gap are:

    The multi-decade disinformation campaign funded by the fossil fuel industry is certainly a key source of their confusion. And that confusion is amplified whenever the media disproportionately favors scientists who reject the basic scientific consensus on climate change. A 2014 study makes clear this false balance remains commonplace.

    But there is another more insidious source of confusion for the public, and that’s when the media’s language on climate science is itself ridiculously watered-down.

  12. Eli Rabett says:

    Dan Kahan particularly dislikes messaging that disagrees with the message he made his bones on. Richard Tol dittos.

  13. Tom Curtis says:

    I cannot see how Dan Kahan has found a problem. Specifically, Maibach et al report that consensus messaging results in a statistically significant increase in perceived scientific agreement; that an increase in perceived scientific agreement results in a statistically belief that climate change is real, that it is man made, and also in worry about global warming. Finally, the report that changes in those two beliefs, and that attitude also result in a statistically significant change in support for action. Because this is a cascade of responses, the sample progressively reduces for each claim. Thus, the relevant sample for the first claim is the entire population sampled. For the second claim, it is only that portion of the population whose belief changed from a view that climate change was not real to a belief that it was real. Similarly for the third and fourth claim. Of necessity, the sample size for these three claims is much smaller than the original sample, but all three claims will have the same sample size. For the final three claims, the sample size is reduced still further.

    Kahan does not examine any of these claims. Rather, he examines the claim that consensus messaging results in a statistically significant increase in belief that climate change is real among the entire population, not just among those whose belief about the scientific consensus changed. He also examines the change in support for action in the entire population, not just those whose belief that climate change was real, or whose belief that climate change was human caused, or whose concern about climate change increased. Because these are (according to Maibach et al) the consequences of a cascade in beliefs, the expected uncertainty for these changes is much higher than that for the changes Maibach et al actually examine.

    To disguise the nature of his misanalysis, Kahan repeatedly misrepresents the results of Maibach et al, claiming:

    ” VLFM claim that their data show that being exposed to a consensus message generated a “a significant increase” in “key beliefs about climate change” when “experimental consensus-message interventions were collapsed into a single ‘treatment’ category and subsequently compared to [a] ‘control’ group” (VLFM p. 4).”

    This sentence compounds quotes from different sentences in Maibach et al, thereby misrepresenting their reference. It is “out of context quotation”, which is undoubtedly academic malpractice. The only paragraph in which the words “significant increase[s]” and “key beliefs about climate change” both appear reads, in part:

    “On average, being in one of the treatment groups (vs. the control group) significantly increases respondents’ estimate of the scientific consensus (by 12.80%). Moreover, a change in a respondent’s estimate of the scientific consensus significantly influences the belief that climate change is happening, human-caused, and the extent to which they worry about the issue (note that belief in climate change and human causation also directly influence level of “worry”). Changes in these factors, in turn, significantly predict support for public action on climate change. As hypothesized, the effect of the treatment (i.e. increased belief in the scientific consensus) on the expressed need for public action is fully mediated by the intervening variables (i.e., key beliefs about climate change). Similarly, the effect of the treatment on the key-belief measures is fully mediated by perceived scientific agreement.”

    In that paragraph, the “significant increase” is only ascribed to the “estimate of the scientific consensus”.

    In short, Kahan sets up a strawman by out of context quotation, then tears that strawman apart. He at no stage shows the statistical connections in Maibach et al to not be supported by the data, and nor does he show the reported results of Maibach et al to be false.

  14. Tom,
    Thanks, I’ll have to have a closer look at that. He certainly did something similar in my last discussion about their work where he tried to claim that they were instructing the survey participants to assume “human caused global warming is happening” when in fact it was a question that aimed to address how much of the warming was human caused if they believed that it was happening and followed from a question that asked whether or not they believed it was happening.

  15. T-rev says:

    JH: If consensus messaging doesn’t work, there would be no need for the climate science denier crowd to challenge its existence.

    I have long maintained the reason to challenge it’s existence is to help delay reforms via obfuscation. That’s all questioning consensus is really about, you’re not going to change the mind of the people espousing denial, the reasons why lost in the mists of behavior science. Sometimes this delaying is deliberate eg Exxon, sometimes coincidentally but as a strategy it works. Scientists are being ‘played’, or manipulated if you will, to defend strawman and the public would rather watch the Eurovision Song Contest and get their information on climate science on a news pull through at the bottom of the screen. I shit you not, my mother is Prima facie evidence of this, so the nuance is lost on them.

    What’s the end game here (I speak generically, not this site specifically) ? Scientific ‘debate’ for the purposes of a jolly good argument or assessing the underlying causes as ‘alarming’ and then implementation of reforms ? I do understand that transfers it to the Engineers and Politicians but we seem to have disappeared down the rabbit hole chasing our own tail in regards moving the debate forward to the best ways to deal with this.

    Mitigation seems to be a strategy we have effectively abandoned (albeit it is still politically unacceptable to say that pubically), so we’re left with adaption, or help us, geo engineering. There are many (?) climate scientists who insist 4C is an impossible world but we’re on track for RCP8.5 and 4C is smack in the middle of this… and yet we seem stuck with ‘defending consensus ?

  16. wheelism says:

    aTTP: “I notice you didn’t respond to this”

    I’d sooner expect diversity within the Heterodox Academy than a straight answer from “Stonewall” Tol.

  17. Francis says:

    aTTP: I was commenting on Kahan’s dislike of consensus messaging, and the apparent disagreement that some have with discovering whether a consensus even exists.

    To me, (a) the question as to whether a consensus exists is a science question; (b) the decision to develop a message to non-experts intended to affect public policy which is based around the scope of consensus is entirely personal to people engaged in that public policy; and (c) the question as to whether a particular message was ‘effective’ first requires a test for effectiveness and then is just another science question.

    We discuss the difference between good science and public policy a fair bit here. What’s interesting about this particular post is iterative nature of the intersection of these two. First, people contend that a consensus exists. Then, people argue about the wisdom of creating public policy messaging based on that research. Then people argue about the science analyzing whether the message was effective. Now, if that last analysis was any good, it should affect the development of the message, which in turn could affect the original consensus (because scientists are humans and most everyone likes to back a winner.)

  18. John Hartz says:

    We must keep in mind that educating people about the reality of manamde climate change is one thing, getting them to act on that knowledge is quite another.

    Here’s how Bill nye has decided to address this dilemma.

    Since the presentation of the facts and science concerning global warming and climate change have been heretofore insufficient to motivate enough of us voters, I am now challenging the deniers directly. By showing enough people the techniques and ignorance of the deniers, I believe we can make warming and climate change a campaign issue, which will swing the upcoming U.S. presidential election in favor of a candidate who is not out of touch with our worldwide climate situation.

    Why I Choose to Challenge Climate Change Deniers by Bill Nye, Huffington Post, May 19, 2016

  19. Anders,

    [To Tol] I didn’t mention Kahan’s motives. Reading comprehension problem again?

    There are indications that Dan Kahan may well have found a genuine issue with this paper. However, he appears to have been rather critical of this work, and of the authors, for quite some time. In the latter of his posts, though, it took me a while to – I think – convince Dan that he was misrepresenting what they had asked in their survey. It’s maybe good that he might now have found a genuine issue; if you look hard enough…..

    As far as I can tell Dan Kahan particularly dislikes consensus messaging. The reason seems to be that it is polarizing and toxic and aims to make certain groups seem stupid.

    What he may have missed is the lead sentence of the first paragraph I quoted above:

    There are indications that Dan Kahan may well have found a genuine issue with this paper.

    Further down:

    I also might take Dan Kahan’s criticism of consensus messaging more seriously, if didn’t appear as though he was desperately keen to find problems with studies that do indicate an effectiveness, and wasn’t so openly insulting of those who undertake this work. I’d also take it more seriously if those who latched onto his claims weren’t also those who seem to most dispute the consensus position with respect to AGW.

    First sentence *appears* to be another mention of (possible) motive, followed by a comment on tone and an association with other persons holding similar views.

    I’m not opining that you’re out of bounds for doing these things. I do, however, agree with Tol that you *seem* to be imputing motive.

  20. Adam R.. says:

    aTTP: “I’m not convinced that consensus messaging is so ineffective. If it is so ineffective, why do those who seem to most dispute the consensus position seem so gleeful whenever anyone criticises consensus messaging.”

    Indeed, and if consensus messaging is so ineffective, why has the deniosphere been emitting bogus, counter-consensus propaganda messages like the Oregon petition for going on 20 years?

    The fact that the world of science is in massive agreement about anthropogenic climate change is the main target of the deniers’ false doubt campaign. It is hard to see how directly countering that campaign could be unhelpful. On the contrary, failing to do so would be aiding the Dark Side, in whose shade Dan Kahan seems to dwell.

  21. Magma says:

    With respect to communication and consensus messaging I’m simple-minded.

    1. With one or two very mild exceptions over the years I haven’t personally observed any vocal climate “skeptics” changing their minds however detailed, diplomatic or objective the persuasion used.
    2. There’s a substantial somewhat uncommitted majority of the general public that still has little investment and even less knowledge of the topic of anthropogenic climate change. It would be good to reach out to more of this group quickly and effectively.
    3. It may be old hat, but the observation that over 95% of actively publishing climate scientists agree with the scientific consensus on AGW (insert a generic definition of one’s choice) is both a defensible fact and news to many in 2).
    4. The skeptics/deniers hate consensus messaging. Either this is an emotional reaction and they dislike the thought that they are being made to look ignorant and isolated, or it’s because they feel it’s an effective tactic. The former would really only be an issue if it was locking more people into denier camps than it was dissuading from joining in the first place. The latter probably counts as a success.
    5. That consensus messaging should work with many member of the general public seems intuitively reasonable. I know that if I were to dip into a technical topic that I know little about, and learn from reliable sources either that A), the vast majority of specialists think “X” is correct, or B) that hypothesis “X” is hotly contested with no general agreement on the topic among specialists, which one of the alternate cases holds would very likely influence my own shallow view of matters.

  22. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “If it is so ineffective, why do those who seem to most dispute the consensus position seem so gleeful whenever anyone criticises consensus messaging. Surely if it is ineffective, those who don’t want the public to accept the consensus would want it to continue being used? Okay, that’s maybe not a very good argument, but it does seem strange.”

    Actually, I’d say it’s a really bad argument. Surely, you don’t think that we should be evaluating the value of an argument on the basis of what “skeptics” think… ???

  23. Joshua says:

    Tom C –

    Would you have any objection if I cross-posted your comment at Dan’s blog?

  24. > you don’t think that we should be evaluating the value of an argument on the basis of what [contrarians] think…

    Perhaps not, but we do evaluate arguments on what contrarians say about them all the time.

  25. Joshua says:

    JH –

    ==> “If consensus messaging doesn’t work, there would be no need for the climate science denier crowd to challenge its existence.”

    There’s a rather significant logic problem there, IMO. I’m not particularly impressed with the reasoning of many “skeptics.” I certainly wouldn’t reverse engineer from “skeptics” belief that “anti-consensus” messaging is effective to then concluding that “consensus-messaging” is effective. I think that to feel confident that “consensus-messaging” is effective, actual evidence its effectiveness should be a basic requirement.

    There is obviously some dispute about whether the paper that Dan criticized is such evidence. I was pretty convinced by Dan’s post, but after reading Tom C.’s comment, I have to think about it all a bit more.. But even if I am persuaded by Tom C’s counter-argument to Dan, I would still remain unconvinced about the usefulness of “VLFM,” because it doesn’t utilize a real world context for evaluating the effectiveness of “consensus-messaging.”

    IMO, “consensus-messaging” in the real world is most likely to be seen by those being “messaged” as fitting into an already established taxonomy of messages related to climate change. For the most part, IMO, “realists,” who are already persuaded that continued BAU poses risk, will for the most part think that “consensus-messaging” is communicating something important, and that it is an effective means of influencing public policy development. And for the most part, “skeptics,” who are already persuaded that there is no significant risk to BAU, will reject “consensus-messaging” just as they’d reject anything else that would be in contrast to their predetermined beliefs about climate change. IMO, for the most part, anyone who isn’t already inclined to view “consensus-messaging” in such a way as to confirm their preexisting beliefs is more than likely to just go “meh” and get on with their life, rather unconvinced one way or the other w/r/t “consensus-messaging.”

    Research conducted in a contrived context, IMO, is of very limited usefulness for evaluating the impact of “consensus-messaging” in the real world, where no “consensus-messenger” (or “anti-consensus messenger” for that matter) will be seen as a neutral communicator. As an example, more or less 1/2 of the American population will be entirely unmoved by Obama saying that 97% of scientists agree about climate change, with a certain subset of extremists – likely corresponding more or less to Tea Partiers and hardcore libertarians – being all that much more convinced that climate change is nothing to worry about because Obama is “messaging” on the subject. And it isn’t coincidence that the same sub-category of the American public hates Obama.

  26. Joshua says:

    willard –

    ==> “Perhaps not, but we do evaluate arguments on what contrarians say about them all the time.

    Not sure I understand…but if I do…I’m not suggesting that we not look at the flaws in the arguments that “skeptics” present. Quite the contrary. I’m saying that the obvious flaws in the arguments of many “skeptics” suggest to me that I shouldn’t evaluate the effectiveness of “consensus-messaging’ on the basis of (1) what “skeptics” say about it or, (2) what “skeptics” do in response to “consensus-messaging” (even when there seems to be a huge disconnect between what they argue about it and how they act in response to it. I certainly don’t expect there to be logical consistency between what “skeptics” argue and what they do. For example, it’s pretty funny that so many “skeptics” argue that the prevalence of agreement among climate scientists is irrelevant and that considering the size of that % of agreement is anti-science, but then turn around and spend huge chunks of their time arguing about whether there is a “consensus” and what the proper quantification of that “consensus” is even as they rely on the prevalence of shared expert opinion on many topics on a more or less daily basis as pretty much everyone does and even as they then go on to actually refer to the prevalence of shared opinion among “skeptics” as a way to (fallaciously) dismiss sky-dragons and the like).

  27. Tom Curtis says:

    Joshua, if you want to cut and past to Kahan’s blog, by all means.

    “I would still remain unconvinced about the usefulness of “VLFM,” because it doesn’t utilize a real world context for evaluating the effectiveness of “consensus-messaging.””

    But does not this create a catch 22? In contrived situations we can determine the effects of a particular strategy in that situation, but the real world will have complicating factors which may nullify the strategy, or even cause it to have the reverse of the desired effect. But because the real world has those complicating factors, it is difficult or impossible to determine the effectiveness of real world examples of persuasion. Particularly on complex, and controversial issue.

    IMO, the correct approach in such situations is to assume that the contrived situations provide genuine information about the persuasiveness of different strategies in the real world. Yes, in the real world there are those who will have a perverse response to consensus messaging by Obama (or John Cook, or any source associated with affirming AGW), but they will equally have a perverse response to any sort of messaging from those sources that does not agree with their already held opinions. That in no way helps us to determine which is the best strategy to employ. On the other hand, for those who are undecided and open to persuasion, or AGW accepting, but underplaying the threat, it is likely that what works in the contrived situations will also work with them.

    If not, we can just throw our hands in the air and say that we cannot, and never will know what will work in the real world.

    If I were to criticize VLFM it would be on the basis that they do not test consensus messaging against other viable communication strategies (ie, leading with the science; or ignoring the science and finding reasons within their own values why opponents of anti-AGW strategies would want to support those strategies anyway).

  28. Tom Curtis says:

    Joshua, I work on the assumption that leading “skeptics” are in fact quite intelligent; and that whatever blinders they have on that prevent them from effectively analysing climate science will not apply across all fields. Given that, and given that the leading “skeptics” have been far more effective at communicating their viewpoint than have the supporters of climate science, I think the meta-induction from “AGW “skeptics” don’t like consensus messaging” to “Consensus messaging must be one of the more effective strategies for communicating science” is reasonable.

    This is particularly the case given that the anti-consensus messaging has a long history in other fields of anti-science (notably creationism); and that the anti-consensus messaging was promoted as an explicit strategy by people whose most noteworthy achievement was the ability to sell a poison as a recreational activity (the smoking industry).

  29. Joshua says:

    Tom —

    ==> “If not, we can just throw our hands in the air and say that we cannot, and never will know what will work in the real world.”

    I have no particular objection to “consensus-messaging.” I don’t know what the effect is, although I have some guesses. My objection is to arguments which seem overly-certain about it’s effectiveness (or for that matter, overly-certain arguments about its ineffectiveness). One of the reasons that I see some of those arguments as being overly-certain is because they project outcomes in a contrived context into a messy real world.

    Along those lines:

    ==> “On the other hand, for those who are undecided and open to persuasion, or AGW accepting, but underplaying the threat, it is likely that what works in the contrived situations will also work with them.”

    I think that is entirely possible. So then the question is, for me, what do we know about what #’s might fit into that category in the real world? In other words, how many people will there be who are basically neutral to Obama or Cook or whoever else might be doing the messaging in the real world, to the point that we couldn’t predict their response to messaging from Barack or John or whoever else simply on the basis of who is doing the messaging? Or, how many people are there who are predisposed to trusting Obama or Cook but who currently underestimate the strength of the “consensus” and who, when we take into consideration the decreasing effect size of the cascade of outcomes as you discuss above, will therefore change in their views because Barack or John told them of a 97% agreement among scientists? While I don’t think that Kahan’s arguments of a counterproductive effect are sufficiently evidence-based, I also question whether the number of people who would fall out in the end as being more accepting of climate mitigation policy is very significant at all. Especially when we add into the mix, the myriad other factors and biases that influence public opinion about risk of high impact low probability risk over very long time horizons. Since I don’t see evidence to support a conclusion that the effect is counterproductive, there is no particular reason, IMO, to not do “consensus-messaging” except to the extent that there might be opportunity cost (but to know that I’d have to know what would be more effective, and I don’t know that).

    One thing that interests me is that although there has been a discussion of the underestimate of the “consensus” among liberals, there hasn’t been (at least that I’ve seen) any analysis of whether there is a corresponding indication that those liberals who underestimate the “consensus” haven’t already heard “consensus-messaging.” For all we know, they may have already heard “consensus-messaging,” in which case what do we know about whether more “consensus-messaging” will have an impact? Of course, there is also the issue of whether there is an influence on them from “anti-consensus” messaging. Whether or not “consensus-messaging” is increased will not alter the amount of “anti-consensus” messaging that will likely take place. Perhaps “consensus-messaging” cancels out “anti-consensus messaging,” but how could we know because that cancelling out effect would be hidden? It all seems very messy, to me.

  30. > I’m saying that the obvious flaws in the arguments of many [contrarians] suggest to me that I shouldn’t evaluate the effectiveness of “consensus-messaging’ on the basis of (1) what [contrarians] say about it or, (2) what [contrarians] do in response to “consensus-messaging” (even when there seems to be a huge disconnect between what they argue about it and how they act in response to it.

    In my opinion, the contrarians’ reactions or opinions on consensus messaging are simply irrelevant, because they may not the targetted audience. Consensus messaging could very well be polarizing that it may not impact the effectiveness either. It depends upon what we expect as effective consensus messaging.

    My point was more general – we evaluate what we say based on our interlocutor’s feedback. Depending on the contrarians’ reactions, we can see if our arguments work or not. That doesn’t mean an argument A is valid because contrarians don’t have anything against it. We’d need better contrarians for that.

  31. Joshua says:

    Tom –

    ==> “Joshua, I work on the assumption that leading “skeptics” are in fact quite intelligent;”

    As do I.

    ==> ” and that whatever blinders they have on that prevent them from effectively analysing climate science will not apply across all fields.”

    Agreed. But I do think that the same kind of identity-related biases will play out in other fields where their identity-orientation is similarly stimulated. One thing I think that generalizes is that someone who exercises a poor control for their own biases in one area is at least somewhat likely to not be particularly good at controlling for their own biases in other areas as well. I think that controlling for bias is, to some extent, a learned skill as well as a function of one’s general commitment to controlling for personal biases.

    ==> “Given that, and given that the leading “skeptics” have been far more effective at communicating their viewpoint than have the supporters of climate science, I think the meta-induction from “AGW “skeptics” don’t like consensus messaging” to “Consensus messaging must be one of the more effective strategies for communicating science” is reasonable.”

    Hmm. That’s an interesting argument, IMO. First, I wonder how you determine that “skeptics” have been more effective at communicating their viewpoint. Second, what I conclude from how “skeptics” respond to “consensus-messaging” is that “skeptics” hate consensus-messaging. But that could well be because they hate anything basically anything that their “opponents” say. What I conclude from how “skeptics” respond on a whole host of issues is that (for the most part), they’re rightwingers (who hate leftwingers).

    Indeed, contrary to the arguments many of them make, many “skeptics” employ the equivalent of “consensus” messaging quite frequently Consider Judith Curry’s “no one who is serious in the room, no scientists that I listen to, doubts the GHE or that humans contribute to warming” (paraphrasing) . So yes, maybe the contradictory nature of how they approach “consensus-messaging” suggests that they fear that it is an effective methodology…but I have a hard time going from (1) they’re smart and (2) they hate/fear “consensus-messaging” therefore, it’s probaboy effective.

    ==> “This is particularly the case given that the anti-consensus messaging has a long history in other fields of anti-science (notably creationism); and that the anti-consensus messaging was promoted as an explicit strategy by people whose most noteworthy achievement was the ability to sell a poison as a recreational activity (the smoking industry).”

    Yes.. All good points. But as for smoking, it wasn’t really a polarized issue in the same way as climate change is. There weren’t huge swaths of the public who had an ideological identification on the issue of whether or not smoking is unhealthy. Yes, the advertising about the “health benefits” of smoking worked, and to some extent I’m sure that people were attached to those beliefs, but I doubt that they were ideologically attached to those beliefs in the same way as people are ideologically attached to their views on climate change.

    Gonna have to think about the evolution situation before responding.

  32. Joshua says:

    Comment stuck in moderation…

  33. Joshua says:

    willard –

    Thanks for the follow-up explanation:

    ==> “My point was more general – we evaluate what we say based on our interlocutor’s feedback.”

    Yes. But when you don’t trust that the interlocutor is engaging in good faith, interpreting feedback in that condition becomes considerably more complex. Is their feedback an outgrowth of their wisdom or insight or biases or poor analysis? Is it crafted with poor-faith intent? Is it based on their inability to distinguish between what you said and what their poor-faith led them to conclude you were saying?

    ==> “Depending on the contrarians’ reactions, we can see if our arguments work or not.”

    By “work,” do you mean achieve a desired result in them? I’m kind of confused as to the concept of whether or not arguments “work.”

    ==> “That doesn’t mean an argument A is valid because contrarians don’t have anything against it. We’d need better contrarians for that.”

    Yeah. Better contrarians would be nice! All it would take, IMO, is some good faith. Is that really too much to ask for?

  34. Joshua says:

    ‘Nite folks.

  35. John Hartz says:

    If consensus messaging doesn’t work, there would have been no advertisements along the lines of “Nine out of ten dentists agree that…”

  36. angech says:

    Consensus messaging – again by …and Then There’s Physics
    “To be clear, I don’t know if consensus messaging is effective, or not, but people I respect argue that there is evidence for its effectiveness”.
    Yes, those people are right. Advertising works purely on that basis of getting the message out and get paid handsomely.

    The problem with advertising is that the meal may not be up to the message.
    This particular paper is an example of reading the fine print and when read the paper is intentionally misleading.
    What was needed was a paper that actually did what it said and there would be no problem.
    Hence,
    “If one is going to undertake some kind of messaging, it should be based on something that is true. ”
    Lots of examples of true consensus exist so best to just message these.

  37. angech says:

    Joshua says: May 20, 2016 at 1:32 am
    ”Actually, I’d say it’s a really bad argument. Surely, you don’t think that we should be evaluating the value of an argument on the basis of what “skeptics” think… ???”

    Must admit to being puzzled Joshua. How can you have an argument in the first place if there were not some skeptics.
    You do not need to argue at all when you have a consensus.
    So yes, evaluation is only needed when skepticism is introduced.

  38. angech – notice the quotes around ‘skeptics’ – this means pseudoskeptics, i.e., deniers. You can’t have a good faith argument with deniers. This is opposed to all logical, rational people who are always skeptical of claims until sufficient evidence is produced to support the claim. You’re treating ‘skeptics” and skeptics as if they are the same – they are not.

  39. Joshua,

    But when you don’t trust that the interlocutor is engaging in good faith, interpreting feedback in that condition becomes considerably more complex.

    Correctly divining intent isn’t required to read words on a page and deal with what is written.

  40. Willard says:

    > But when you don’t trust that the interlocutor is engaging in good faith interpreting feedback in that condition becomes considerably more complex.

    I’m not sure why. Interpreting feedback is simpler when you just take it for what it is – a response (or a non-response) to what you said. If your objective is to build a ClimateBall ™ playbook, there is little point in delving into beliefs. I’d rather try a minimal route first, say by applying something like the principle of charity. It’s not that I distrust otters’ faith – I just find it’s none of my business. You could say that I’m agnostic:

    This agnosticism makes me acquaint myself with all kinds of people without too much problems, once that distance is acknowledged and embraced.

    ***

    As for your questions, they’re making me work too much for the time I can commit. To save up energy, I’d be tempted to answer them in a way that would induce you to reconnect with your recurring thinking points, but it might put an undue burden on your trust in my good faith. So it’ll wait.

    Good. Is everybody ready? Is everybody looking at me? (He looks at Lucky, jerks the rope. Lucky raises his head.) Will you look at me, pig! (Lucky looks at him.) Good. (He puts the pipe in his pocket, takes out a little vaporizer and sprays his throat, puts back the vaporizer in his pocket, clears his throat, spits, takes out the vaporizer again, sprays his throat again, puts back the vaporizer in his pocket.) I am ready. Is everybody listening? Is everybody ready? (He looks at them all in turn, jerks the rope.) Hog! (Lucky raises his head.) I don’t like talking in a vacuum. Good. Let me see.

  41. Brandon,

    First sentence *appears* to be another mention of (possible) motive, followed by a comment on tone and an association with other persons holding similar views.

    What motive, though? Why does he dislike consensus messaging so much, assuming he does?

  42. angech,

    This particular paper is an example of reading the fine print and when read the paper is intentionally misleading.

    Actually, if Tom’s comment is correct (and I think it probably is) it’s not the authors of this paper who are being misleading.

  43. Dikran Marsupial says:

    ATTP wrote “Arguing against a messaging strategy that is based on something true, seems – to me – a little odd. “

    Well quite! It is hard to understand why people would complain about promulgating correct and relevant information on matter of socio-politico-economic importance.

    Dan Kahan says “second, because it diverts resources from alternative approaches that have a much better prospect for success; and”

    I doubt writing papers criticising studies on the consensus is likely to focus resources back on those alternative approaches. How do we know if those alternative approaches are better if we don’t also perform research on the effectiveness of consensus messaging?

    Regarding comments on advertising/marketing, so you are complaining that people research how best to communicate correct information on climate change? Seems like an eminently sensible thing to do to me!

  44. izen says:

    There was a body of research carried out a couple of decades ago to investigate how best to shape public opinion on this issue. Perhaps the most famous part of that research is the Frank Luntz memo advocating the promotion of doubt about the science at all levels.
    http://bigthink.com/age-of-engagement/the-luntz-memo-and-the-framing-of-climate-change

    Consensus messaging is just a response to the doubt messaging used by the opponents of rational responses to climate science projections.

  45. danialcblog says:

    I wish there was a coherence filter on all sites upon which Willard posts.
    Mate you really should ditch this obscure and prolix indulgence. I’m sure you have interesting stuff to say and if you adopted the clarity of say Anders or Tamino you might just find someone interested in listening to it.

  46. Willard says:

    > What motive, though?

    To find problems with studies that do indicate an effectiveness in consensus messaging.

    ***

    Thank you for your concerns, DanialC.

  47. L Hamilton says:

    The structural equation modeling (SEM) approach used by van der Linden &c does not progressively reduce sample size. You might think of their Fig 2 as roughly isomorphic with a set of 5 multiple regressions, each one regressing a particular variable (such as pre/post change in perceived scientific agreement) on the variables farther to its left. Also included among the predictors in each equation, but omitted for readability in Fig 3, would be a set of background variables (age, gender, education and political party).

    SEM estimates the model in more sophisticated way, but that’s a sketch of the basic idea (and seems to yield very roughly comparable results).

  48. Lawrence,
    Do you have any sense of whether or not Dan Kahan’s criticisms are valid? It seems to me that he has somewhat changed how the data has analysed is isn’t quite addressing the same point as addressed in van der Linden et al., but then I don’t really have a good sense of how their analysis actually works.

    One thing that confuses me about Dan Kahan’s criticisms is how you compare with the control for the later changes. I can see how you can compare to see what exposure to consensus messaging does, but the later changes seem to be based on how being exposed to consensus messaging influences ones estimate of the consensus, which then influences ones belief in whether or not it is real, human caused, something to worry about, etc. Since the control were not exposed to consensus messaging, I don’t really see how comparing to the control makes sense with respect to the consequences of a change in ones estimate of the consensus.

  49. fwiw . .I identify as an approachable, layman sceptic unless ridiculed whereupon I typically respond more like a denier. Polarising the debate doesn’t help to convert or inform. I’ve yet to see a paper where the consensus is, in my view, accurately defined.

  50. I’ve yet to see a paper where the consensus is, in my view, accurately defined.

    Cook et al. (2013): Humans are causing global warming.

    Doran & Zimmerman (2009): …. human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures (phrased as a question).

    Carlton et al.: …. human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures (also phrased as a question)

  51. verytallguy says:

    warofthewolds,

    perhaps if you don’t want the debate polarising, you could choose not to “typically respond more like a denier”? when you don’t like the style of others in the debate.

    Just a suggestion.

  52. Dikran Marsupial says:

    waroftheworlds (if you mean the Tom Cruise version, by halfway through I wanted the aliens to win ;o) wrote “Polarising the debate doesn’t help to convert or inform.”

    I don’t really understand how estimating and communicating the level of consensus is in any way polarising.

    I’ve yet to see a paper where the consensus is, in my view, accurately defined.

    Consensus on what? I think the IPCC WG1 report is as good a statement of the mainstream scientific consensus view on climate change in general. However you can’t establish the level of agreement with that from a survey of the literature, so you have to opt for a reasonable proxy instead, which does allow the level of consensus to be estimated. AFAICS all of the papers accurately define their proxy, which is all they can be reasonably expected to do (and we need to use our common sense in interpreting what the proxies tell us about the actual consensus position – not everything, but quite a lot).

  53. I guess that what this backlash against ‘consensus messaging’ comes down to is that ‘skeptics’ want to be able to assert in blogs, articles—and anywhere else they can get away with it—“scientists disagree about the causes of climate change” (or words to that effect), without anyone providing evidence that they’re lying.

  54. izen says:

    @-“Mate you really should ditch this obscure and prolix indulgence. I’m sure you have interesting stuff to say …”

    Sometimes the interest is only in the indulgent obscurantism.

  55. L Hamilton says:

    They are analyzing the data in different ways. Putting Kahan’s critique into my own framework — if you just regress pre/post change in scientific agreement on the treatment alone (or equivalently, regress post-sci-agree on pre-sci-agree and treatment), you get a 0-order treatment effect of about 12.8 (p <0.001), similar to that in Fig 2. Performing 0-order regressions of changes in happening, worry, causation or support on treatment obtains significant positive effects for worry and causation, but not for happening or support. That seems congruent with Kahan's Fig 4.

    But the SEM approach does something different. Also omitted (to make van der Linden &c Fig 2 readable) are arrows for disturbances or error terms, leading from nowhere into each variable except treatment (and the unseen background predictors). Such error terms represent effects from "everything else" that is not in the model. Everything else (besides treatment & background) in fact accounts for most of their variance, as is often the case; and treatment/background just a small fraction.

    So the arrow shown from, say, worry to support is [not ] intended to represent not just an effect passing along indirectly from treatment. (There is a multiplication rule for calculating indirect effects, but I'm not going there now.) Rather, the arrow from worry to support, with coefficient 0.19, estimates the effect from all of the variation in worry, whether caused by treatment or everything else. I should mention again that by "worry" and similar shorthand here I'm referring to pre/post change in this measure. Anyway, Fig 2 shows that changes in worry, happening and causation, from whatever sources, are significantly predictive of change in support. The PLOS ONE paper accurately describes this analysis. I'd have to see the authors' Stata code to replicate it, and no doubt am doing some things differently; but these quick-and-dirty approximations seem to land in the same ballpark.

    Jumping back to the big picture, does consensus messaging work in the real world? In nonexperimental settings it's impractical to separate deliberate "consensus messaging" from all the other ways that scientific agreement on this topic is communicated, such as the endless stream of new studies. Surveys generally don't attempt such separation, but they do measure public acceptance that most scientists agree — and that acceptance appears to be rising. In this broader sense, it does seem that the existence of a scientific consensus is slowly getting across.

  56. L Hamilton says:

    One too many “nots” in 1st sentence of my 3rd para.

    [I del’ed the second one. -W]

  57. Joshua says:

    Brandon –

    ==> “Correctly divining intent isn’t required to read words on a page and deal with what is written.”

    Looks like you and (if I understood his comment) willard crossed.

    Been thinking about this a bit. So your short comment will get a long response and I won’t penalize you if you bail because you don’t find it interesting or comprehensible.

    When I offer an argument (say that “consensus-messaging” is not particularly effective) and I’m dealing with someone who engages with a presumption that I’m not lying, accepts that she may not have interpreted my words in accord with my intended meaning, is open to controlling for her own biases if I were to offer a suggested description of them, will answer questions related to my attempts to interpret their meaning, won’t refuse to acknowledge potentially fallacious reasoning on her own part, doesn’t attack me at a personal level for expressing particular views, doesn’t impugn my motivations because she disagrees with me, perhaps most importantly actually engages with what I’ve argued instead of straw men and red herrings, etc. then I have a much less complicated task when interpreting their responses to my arguments than if none or some of those conditions are not true.

    When those conditions are true, then I can more easily focus my energy on what they have argued, and I don’t have to try to run their arguments through filters that try to catch the ways that the lack of such conditions can alter the meaning of what it is that they’ve argued. For example, if I feel that someone is open to my input w/r/t her potential biases, and she presents a conflicting opinion in that regard, it is much easier for me evaluate the validity of that counter-argument if I think taht she isn’t prone to not being open or even truthful about her own beliefs. If I think that she could quite likely reject any suggestion on my part related to her biases, because she is not engaging in good faith, then I have to add that consideration on top of a purely abstracted interpretation of her counterargument. No, any of those conditions I listed not being present won’t alter the words that are written in their arguments, but they directly impact upon my ability to interpret the meaning of my interlocutor’s views. Communication is a dynamic process, and much of what is communicated in words is not directly apparent in the words themselves. Context matters.

    Now, of course, part of the complication is, indeed, that I’m also talking about the influence of my own defensiveness and ego and “motivations” when reading. When someone I’m in discussion with makes it obvious that any or all of those features I’ve listed above (I’m sure there are many more) are lacking, then I have an added task of controlling for my own increased propensity to allow for my own biases to influence my understanding. Even if I were to agree that an existence or lack thereof, of a commitment to good faith exchange on the part of my interlocutor shouldn’t affect my interpretation of their argument because the words that appear on the page are not contingent on the attributes of their exchange, I am quite aware that it often does complicate my task of interpretation.

    Consider my exchange with Tom C. above. Because he engaged with my ideas with, what I perceived to be a degree of respect, I was more open to interrogating his views that stand in contrast to my own with an openness to change and persuasion. Maybe such a feature is fairly unique to me, or at least not applicable to you or others who are more able to disengage from personal-level biases, but I am aware that there is a lot of work related to conflict resolution that stresses the importance of establishing trust, good faith, shared interests, etc., as a means of enhancing openness and productive exchange.

    I’ll offer you this: I’ve read some of your exchanges over at Lucia’s, and my impression is that quite a few folks there have engaged with you in poor faith. Maybe you don’t agree with my assessment, but if you do, do you think that your task of interpreting the implications of their arguments to the validity of your own arguments wouldn’t be simplified if your interlocutors were clearly engaging in good faith?

    A final point – one that I think is pretty important…is that I don’t actually interpret “motivations” when I look for the condition of good-faith exchange. I don’t know what someone’s motives might be for poor-faith exchange.I assume that there could be many. And I think that it’s quite possible for people who have motives that I don’t particularly care for to exchange views with me in good faith. Now you mentioned “intent” which isn’t exactly the same as “motive” – but the only “intent” that I’m looking for is the intent for good-faith exchange. Or perhaps even more accurately, I’m not looking for “intent” of good faith exchange because even if the “intent” is there, the actual features of good faith exchange might be lacking. Someone might be intending to take my arguments seriously, but still constantly put forth straw man interpretations of my view and still display an inability to account for the straw man nature of their interpretations. So about “intent”… hmmm. That’s a bit tricky.

    Of course, determining whether that intent is there is complex, and it is quite easy to make mistakes in that regard. I think that “charity” is a good idea when trying to make that determination – but I also think that at some point, charity is pointless as, IMO, exchange with people who aren’t engaging in good-faith brings a limited return. I don’t think that exchange with someone who exhibits poor faith is completely useless, as you might get something of value from reading the feedback of people who are engaging in bad faith – but the idea of shared benefit is pretty much out the window, and I think that any value you’d get would be less and more arduous than what would happen if they were exchanging in good faith.

  58. Joshua says:

    Anders – comment in moderation. Be advised, you may well drive down your readership if you put it through as it’s probably pretty painful to read….

  59. John Hartz says:

    johnrussell40 hit the nail squarely on the head when he wrote:

    I guess that what this backlash against ‘consensus messaging’ comes down to is that ‘skeptics’ want to be able to assert in blogs, articles—and anywhere else they can get away with it—“scientists disagree about the causes of climate change” (or words to that effect), without anyone providing evidence that they’re lying.

    We are engaged in a propganda war with a very well-finance and sophisticated foe, i.e.. The Climate Science Demnial Spin Machine. Consensus messaging has been, and continues to be, an effective arrow in our quiver.

  60. John Hartz says:

    Why consensus messaging is an effective arrow in our quiver is documented quite nicely in:

    Answers to Critics of Climate Change Consensus by John Cook, Real Clear Science, May 16, 2016

  61. L Hamilton says:

    There are a number of arguments from first principles, experiments and surveys why consensus messaging is worth trying. The most forceful counterargument seems to be that it’s counterproductive or “toxic,” causing polarization to grow. I don’t see that happening on surveys that track views over time; instead, polarization seems to have slightly declined. But what about the experiments?

    In the context of van der Linden et al’s data, polarization implies interaction effects. They mention testing for such effects, but don’t show results (which did not support polarization).

    Easy enough to test for interactions in a basic regression framework. The only significant treatment*party interaction I noticed involves perception of scientific consensus, which is also where treatment had the strongest effects. And in that instance, treatment seems associated with de-polarization. Here’s the image:

  62. VTG – if only I were so perfect!
    ATTP – thanks for the links
    DM – I love the original despite being somewhat dated.(for example, the way the female companion is treated by the prof.)
    “I don’t really understand how estimating and communicating the level of consensus is in any way polarising” I think it’s useful to have an overview of the professional opinion. How that is used in argument thereafter can be polarising. Us or them – who you side with – you must be wrong because . . etc. As for the ‘accurately defined’, I may find what I’m looking for in the papers ATTP linked to.

  63. Willard says:

    > How that is used in argument thereafter can be polarising.

    Of course it can, but is it the case?

    Shifting from ought to is may not help.

  64. Dikran Marsupial says:

    waroftheworlds wrote “How that is used in argument thereafter can be polarising. ”

    In other words, consensus “messaging” per se is not polarising.

    “Us or them – who you side with – you must be wrong because . . etc.”

    I don’t recall reading anything of that nature in e.g. Cook et al. etc. The point is that there is a “consensus gap” between the public perception of the level of scientific consensus and the actual level of scientific consensus. Consensus “messaging” is not actually aimed at the “skeptics” but at the general public (who generally don’t have a side – yet).

    Of course the same could be true of explaining scientific facts, for instance that we know the rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic, but many “skeptics” don’t accept this. Does that mean we shouldn’t explain scientific facts because that too is “polarising”?

    The real problem is that some people don’t react rationally to evidence that shows them to be wrong, but does that mean we should stop pointing out they are wrong when they promulgate their misunderstandings of the science. I would argue the answer to that is “no”.

  65. danial,
    I think you may have commented here under a few different names. Maybe stick to one? Also, you don’t need to try and work out what Willard is getting at, but there can be some benefit in doing so.

  66. Anders,

    What motive, though? Why does he dislike consensus messaging so much, assuming he does?

    Here’s how I read you: he doesn’t want it to be effective.

  67. Brandon,
    That wasn’t what I meant and isn’t what I actually think. My impression is he really doesn’t like it – which seems pretty obvious from what he says publicly – but I don’t know why, and I don’t think I said anything that suggested any reason for why. If I were to guess, I would think Eli is closest.

  68. Willard,
    I’d forgotten your post about this. Very good. This is still the bit that confuses me (again, I hear you say)

    Granted that “cultural cognition” and “consensus messaging” are two competing research programmes

    They might be competing research programmes, but in what way is cultural cognition a messaging strategy? I thought it was mainly a recognition that cultural influences can play a big role in what people accept. I haven’t seen a cultural cognition argument as to how to overcome this.

  69. Joshua,

    That was a rather longer response than I would have expected from my one-liner. However, one *intent* was to provoke some thought so I’m not disappointed. A few of your repsonses jumped out at me:

    Maybe such a feature is fairly unique to me, or at least not applicable to you or others who are more able to disengage from personal-level biases, but I am aware that there is a lot of work related to conflict resolution that stresses the importance of establishing trust, good faith, shared interests, etc., as a means of enhancing openness and productive exchange.

    I can only speak with authority for myself: our thinking in such a scenario is similar.

    I’ll offer you this: I’ve read some of your exchanges over at Lucia’s, and my impression is that quite a few folks there have engaged with you in poor faith. Maybe you don’t agree with my assessment, but if you do, do you think that your task of interpreting the implications of their arguments to the validity of your own arguments wouldn’t be simplified if your interlocutors were clearly engaging in good faith?

    We agree, with the caveat that it’s impossible to have a … reasonable … discussion with people who either can’t or don’t want to have one. My emotions on that thread have ranged from despair, discouragement, frustration, hurt, anger all the way up to righteous fury and moral outrage. Others I’ve blissfully forgotten. When it gets to that point, I have to walk away, and I did.

    When I came back, I played the ball as it lied … dual meaning intended. I can still advance my message against a hostile crowd. In addition, without pointing to it directly or speculating much about why they’re doing it, I can advance a secondary message: these people aren’t dealing with me in a straightforward manner. You’ve gotten that secondary message, and you’re not the only one. That’s where I find some of my motivation to continue … so thanks.

    A final point – one that I think is pretty important…is that I don’t actually interpret “motivations” when I look for the condition of good-faith exchange. I don’t know what someone’s motives might be for poor-faith exchange.I assume that there could be many.

    I challenge the notion that you don’t actually interpret motivations or intents. I can’t challenge the notion that you try not to *when* your main intent is to hae a good-faith conversation, debate, negotiation or argument. Attempting to predict what other people are likely to do or say is hardwired into us — it’s a survival trait, especially in adversarial situations. I agree with you that others could have many motives, intents, wants, desires, etc. — some of which they may not even be consciously aware of. I also know that I go a bit nuts when I try to sorth through the possibilites *before* responding to them.

    So I have a … rule … emerging of late when I find myself thinking too hard about a response: just speak to the truth of my own message as I understand it and let the chips fall as they may. Others reveal themselves in increments as I go.

    I don’t always follow that rule. Some times the evil gets in me and I begin to act in bad faith without being fully aware of it. Sometimes I speak in bad faith on purpose as a tactic. What I’ve been trying to do more of lately is owning my bad faith as I’m doing it or when called on it. The results can be … interesting.

    Bit of a random note, but it was fun for me to write. Hopefully it contains something worth reading. Thanks for yours, I enjoyed it.

  70. > They might be competing research programmes, but in what way is cultural cognition a messaging strategy?

    I’d have to search back in Dan’s iterations of more of the same to find more about his messaging strategy, but I’m quite sure it’s related to his Florida experiment:

    If we study how the Compact Counties created a political process that enables its diverse citizens to respond to the question “so what should we do about climate change?” with an answer that reflects what they all know, we are likely to learn important lessons about how to protect enlightened self-government from the threat posed by the science of science communication’s measurement problem.

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2014/6/27/what-se-florida-can-teach-us-about-the-political-science-of.html

    Here’s the abstract of the paper on the almost-a-line-long-name-problem:

    This paper examines the science-of-science-communication measurement problem. In its simplest form, the problem reflects the use of externally invalid measures of the dynamics that generate cultural conflict over risk and other policy-relevant facts. But at a more fundamental level, the science-of-science-communication measurement problem inheres in the phenomena being measured themselves. The “beliefs” individuals form about a societal risk such as climate change are not of a piece; rather they reflect the distinct clusters of inferences that individuals draw as they engage information for two distinct ends: to gain access to the collective knowledge furnished by science, and to enjoy the sense of identity enabled by membership in a community defined by particular cultural commitments. The paper shows how appropriately designed “science comprehension” tests — one general, and one specific to climate change — can be used to measure individuals’ reasoning proficiency as collective-knowledge acquirers independently of their reasoning proficiency as cultural-identity protectors. Doing so reveals that there is in fact little disagreement among culturally diverse citizens on what science knows about climate change. The source of the climate-change controversy and like disputes is the contamination of education and politics with forms of cultural status competition that make it impossible for diverse citizens to express their reason as both collective-knowledge acquirers and cultural-identity protectors at the same time.

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2459057

    I emphasized the bit about status competition which seems to explain Dan’s daily iterations of more or less the same ideas.

  71. Anders,

    That wasn’t what I meant and isn’t what I actually think.

    My mistake.

    My impression is he really doesn’t like it – which seems pretty obvious from what he says publicly – but I don’t know why, and I don’t think I said anything that suggested any reason for why. If I were to guess, I would think Eli is closest.

    I think I’ve previously read the Kahan post you cited. We agree that he doesn’t like it; but dangit here I go again, I do think you *hinted* at some reasons in your head post in a way that leaves room for … individual … interpretation.

    Quoting your link to Eli’s comments on this thread:

    Dan Kahan particularly dislikes messaging that disagrees with the message he made his bones on. Richard Tol dittos.

    Totally plausible, but again with a *seemingly* negative association with Tol.

    Let me try a different tack. Suppose I told you that I thought astronomy is a science not worth public funding because it doesn’t directly benefit society at large. I could then clobber the almost certain defence of your own work as you protecting your own gravy train.

  72. I do think you *hinted* at some reasons in your head post in a way that leaves room for … individual … interpretation.

    Possibly, I was certainly having a dig; that I’ll happily own up to. I didn’t actually say what I thought his motives were, though.

    I could then clobber the almost certain defence of your own work as you protecting your own gravy train.

    I’m not sure I’m getting your point here.

  73. Mentioning some previous ClimateBall ™ exchanges with DanK and invoking his dislikes of consensus messaging can be seen as ad hominem, AT. Doing so is not eo ipso fallacious – it’s relevant, it’s forthright to declare where one comes from, and as long as you don’t use these reminiscings to undermine DanK’s actual point, all should be well.

    That DanK’s own research program is (at least indirectly) in competition with consensus messaging should not be seen as nefarious. It may very well be helpful to look at what he has to say. Adverse criticism can be a good thing.

    On the other hand, his interpretations, his judgments, and his editorial comments need to be taken with a grain of salt. He has a dog in the fight and it shows.

  74. Tom Curtis says:

    brandongates:

    “Let me try a different tack. Suppose I told you that I thought astronomy is a science not worth public funding because it doesn’t directly benefit society at large. I could then clobber the almost certain defence of your own work as you protecting your own gravy train.”

    Not being familiar with the idiom, I checked and “made his bones” can be glossed as “made his reputation”; not as “made his income”. That being the case your analogy is inappropriate.

    For it to be suitably analogous, you would need a situation in which Anders had made a firm statement, and refused to correct it in the face of reasonable counter arguments, deploying arguments based on misrepresentation, strawmen, selective use of data etc in defense of the original position.

    Against that, were I interested in the task, I could show you copious occasions where Anders has not reacted in that way, supporting the idea that when Anders does defend his original position (even in exoplanetology), it is because he thinks it is the rational position – not because he is defending his income.

  75. Tom Curtis says:

    L Hamilton, thank you for your explanation of the statistical methods. Not being a mathematician, I have relied on what was said in the papers. Based on that, the key diagram is this:

    Even though the mathematical treatment considers the whole population, the β’s in the diagram are determined by the relationship between the members of the population satisfying the properties specified in each box connected by an arrow. Thus the β of 12.8 between the first box and the second, the relevant relationship is between members of the population shown a consensus message and those shown a consensus message who changed their opinion about the perceived scientific agreement. Likewise for the β of 0.12 from the second box to the upper box in the third column, the relevant relationship is between those members of the population who changed their opinion about the level of scientific agreement and those members of the population who changed their belief about climate change.

    My understanding is that as you go from right to left in the diagram, the number of people in the sample having the specified property generally decreases, and sharply decreases in the first step. I further believe that that decrease will tend to increase the uncertainty in the later steps of the chain. Is that correct?

    Further, would you agree that Kahan’s determination of no statistical significance for the relationship between those shown consensus messages and those who increase their support for action has no bearing (or marginal bearing at best) on the statistical significance of the individual steps in the diagram; and that his argument is against a strawman position?

  76. ATTP,

    Possibly, I was certainly having a dig; that I’ll happily own up to.

    I’m happy with that; it’s consistent with what I read into what you wrote.

    I didn’t actually say what I thought his motives were, though.

    Recognized and accepted.

    I could then clobber the almost certain defence of your own work as you protecting your own gravy train.

    I’m not sure I’m getting your point here.

    That defending the societal value of one’s work can always be cast in terms of self-interest, and arguably so. Hence when someone says climate scientists are only in it for the money, my stock response is: everybody’s gotta eat. Message being that appealing to self-interest motive is a zero-sum argument. Not only that, I consider self-interest a soverign human right, i.e., it isn’t inherently nefarious as is often *seemingly* implied.

    TL;DR: careful with that axe, Eugene … she’s dual-edged.

    You, Eli, et al. are closer to academia than I am. You certainly have more direct experience interacting with Kahan directly than I do (I have zero). Hence, I must consider that I’m (not for the first time) whistling in the dark here.

  77. Tom Curtis,

    Not being familiar with the idiom, I checked and “made his bones” can be glossed as “made his reputation”; not as “made his income”.

    Making and defending a reputation can be glossed as protecting or attempting to increase a revenue stream.

    For it to be suitably analogous, you would need a situation in which Anders had made a firm statement, and refused to correct it in the face of reasonable counter arguments, deploying arguments based on misrepresentation, strawmen, selective use of data etc in defense of the original position.

    I was honest with him about what I was reading into what he wrote in the head post and how he responded to Tol … namely that I was seeing a discrepancy I was having difficulty recognizing. His response to those challenges satisfied me.

    Against that, were I interested in the task, I could show you copious occasions where Anders has not reacted in that way, supporting the idea that when Anders does defend his original position (even in exoplanetology), it is because he thinks it is the rational position – not because he is defending his income.

    My assumption is that he does his science because he finds it interesting to the point that he expended a lot of effort and resources to become expert in his field. As I do in fact think his work has a societal benefit, I think he deserves be compensated for it. In short, his income requires no defence in my view.

  78. Tom Curtis says:

    brandonrgates:

    “Making and defending a reputation can be glossed as protecting or attempting to increase a revenue stream.”

    Only on the false assumption that all, or even most people are primarily motivated by commercial considerations. For many people, their reputation is independently valuable, and for many others, truth is more important than either income or reputation.

  79. Joshua says:

    Brandon –

    ==> “I challenge the notion that you don’t actually interpret motivations or intents. I can’t challenge the notion that you try not to *when* your main intent is to hae a good-faith conversation, debate, negotiation or argument.”

    Fair enough. I try not to.. I don’t always succeed. And I try, on those occasions when I catch myself not succeeding, to hold true to my belief that we generally (in these discussions) lack the needed information to assess motive or intent. I don’t always succeed at that, either – but I am often reminded of how easy it is to fall into that trap when I see others so easily slipping into misjudging my motive and/or intent.

  80. Eli Rabett says:

    The urban dictionary is a better guide to slang than the wikipedia, but the point was that Kahane and Tol are so identified with a particular position and have defended it so aggressively that they cannot retreat without a massive loss of face because they have beaten on so many others who even disagreed with them in the slightest. It has nothing to do with a revenue stream and everything to do with reputation.

    It would be like a gangster saying “Sorry about that” to the family of somebunny she killed (to use the Tol pronoun policy)

  81. Joshua,

    I think we have a similar approach, and obviously I also sometimes fail to obtain the ideal. Where we might differ is that I’m not always trying act in good faith. Not to pick on the other Brandon, but Shollenberger likes to make hay out of the fact that I “openly admit” this. He amuses me sometimes.

    Tom Curtis,

    I understand that not everyone is profit motivated and that reputation has (fiscally) intangible value. I also know that Anders’ adversaries have had a history of “accusing” him same. Or other motives. And that he hasn’t taken kindly to it.

    One point I’m making is that being critical of universal human motives might tend to leave one’s own flank vulnerable.

    Eli,

    It would be like a gangster saying “Sorry about that” to the family of somebunny she killed (to use the Tol pronoun policy)

    Thanks for that simile and clarification. I will perhaps have to read Kahan more closely from now on. That and/or dig thru the archives.

  82. I’m not sure who are the annoyed, but I guess it includes Kahan and me.

    Kahan can speak for himself, but if you read his blog it is pretty clear that he thinks that consensus messaging stands in the way of greenhouse gas emission reduction in the USA.

    My concern about consensus messaging is that it is used to exclude people from the debate on climate policy. That in turn leads to polarization, and hence reduces the quality of decision making, and alienation, and hence increases the electoral appeal of populists.

  83. Richard,
    That there is a consensus is true. Suggesting that one should avoid pointing out a truth is – IMO – a somewhat strange thing to do.

    My concern about consensus messaging is that it is used to exclude people from the debate on climate policy.

    Maybe, but I’ve seen no real evidence to support this. Not even Kahans really does so. At best it shows that it might be ineffective. Also, even if it is true, it excludes people who seem reluctant to accept something that most regard as trivially true.

    That in turn leads to polarization, and hence reduces the quality of decision making, and alienation, and hence increases the electoral appeal of populists.

    The irony of you being concerned about the debate and the quality of decision making is clearly beyond you. There are many reasons why the debate is polarized. The idea that this is primarily because of consensus messaging is utterly bizarre. If you don’t like consensus messaging you should stop attacking studies that illustrate the level of consensus. While you continue to do this, you can be pretty sure that people will continue to illustrate that you’re wrong.

  84. I find this bizarre

    Kahan can speak for himself, but if you read his blog it is pretty clear that he thinks that consensus messaging stands in the way of greenhouse gas emission reduction in the USA.

    If he wants greenhouse gas emissions, why doesn’t he go out and use his supposedly superior messaging strategy to influence policy. Instead he spends his time attacking a strategy that he regards as ineffective but that is at least aimed at influencing the public’s acceptance of climate policy.

  85. @wotts
    I presume you have ample experience in teaching, so you know that you can deliver the same lesson in many different ways, some of which actually teach your students, some of which just get their backs up.

  86. Richard Tol wrote “My concern about consensus messaging is that it is used to exclude people from the debate on climate policy”

    Specifically who is excluded from the debate on climate policy by pointing out the true level of scientific consensus on climate change?

    If the answer is “those who disagree with the scientific consensus” then that is obviously untrue, as demonstrated by the statements on climate change made by some of the American presidential candidates in recent times, or the testimony given by climate skeptic scientists at congressional hearings etc.

    Please provide some evidence justifying your concern.

  87. Richard,

    I presume you have ample experience in teaching, so you know that you can deliver the same lesson in many different ways, some of which actually teach your students, some of which just get their backs up.

    Indeed, but if a colleague were teaching in a way that I thought was ineffective and put the student’s backs up, I wouldn’t go around maligning them in public. analysing their teaching using a method with errors and that clearly produced a flawed result, and saying things about their teaching that were simply untrue.

    Here’s a summary of why I have little time for your supposed concerns and – in fact – have real trouble believing that your concerns are remotely true.

    1. Your public conduct about this topic is completely at odds with decent academic conduct. You have said things about the authors of consensus studies that are probably libelous and I think you should back these up (by which I mean show them to be true and have this accepted) or withdraw them. The only reason I think that those involved don’t take this further is because your reputation means that being libelled by you probably adds credibility, rather than damaging it.

    2. Your 2014 paper has an obvious error that you still won’t acknowledge and has an analysis that is obviously flawed. I’ve created a helpful graphic based on the numbers in your spreadsheet.

    3. Your 2016 paper has at least one claim that is almost certainly untrue (and that you almost certainly knew to be untrue prior to publishing) and another that indicates that after 3 years you still do not know how to reproduce the database search in Cook et al. (2013). Given that it took most others only a few minutes to work out how to do this, I find it bizarre that you think you’re in a position to critique their work. If you can’t work out how to repeat their database search, how can you possible regard yourself as being capable of critiquing their work.

    So how does maligning and libelling the authors of consensus studies, publishing papers with errors and flawed analyses, and making claims that are untrue, help to reduce polarisation and help to make things less divisive? Maybe you could explain, because it’s genuinely escaping me.

  88. Richard Tol wrote “I presume you have ample experience in teaching, so you know that you can deliver the same lesson in many different ways, some of which actually teach your students, some of which just get their backs up.”

    Indeed, if I gave a lecture and consistently refused to answer the students questions, I would imagine that would irritate the students and make them think I didn’t know what I was talking about.

    Reminder #1 Specifically who is excluded from the debate on climate policy by pointing out the true level of scientific consensus on climate change?

  89. Brandon,

    That defending the societal value of one’s work can always be cast in terms of self-interest, and arguably so.

    Yes, but there is a difference between defending one’s own work by highlighting its merits and doing so by attacking – at every opportunity – those whose work presents a potential counter to your own work.

  90. izen says:

    @-brandongates
    ” Attempting to predict what other people are likely to do or say is hardwired into us — it’s a survival trait, especially in adversarial situations. ”

    Yes, as social animals, we assume agency in others and attempt to divine intent. In face-to-face interactions we have an ersatz telepathy in the form of the mirror neurone system. A neutral observation of the communication behaviour of others might be a ideal goal, but is probably unattainable. Deriving meaning from what has been said usually requires some underlying narrative of the communicator being an intentional agent with motivations. Even a graph can be slanted.

    Although consensus messaging probably works empirically, the theoretical objections to it include the accusation that it is using an outdated and refuted a priori model of participants as neutral recipients who can be measured purely in terms of the amount of knowledge deficit they have. The source of the messaging is also measured in terms of the accuracy and form of the message, no intention, agency or motivation need be considered.

    In fact all recipients and broadcasters are intentional agents with individual historically contingent pre-existing motivations and an innate cognitive facility for imputing motivation in any interaction. All embedded in local, regional and national cultural ecologies that further shape and constrain the meaning derived from any interaction.

    The consensus message has neutral information about the degree of agreement about a subject in the scientific community because of the strength of evidence.
    But it will also be decoded for the motivation behind the message by those receiving it. What conclusions the recipient has about the motivation for the message will be shaped by their own perspective. The conclusions they come to may not be accurate about the motivation of those presenting the consensus message.
    But neither is the source without motive.

  91. “That defending the societal value of one’s work can always be cast in terms of self-interest, and arguably so.”

    It might also be cast in terms of correctly presenting the societal value of one’s work. Hanlon’s razor (or more temperately expressed versions thereof) is a useful guide – interpret others in the most favourable light consistent with the evidence, e.g do not assume that a scientists is being guided by self interest in promulgating their views, especially as most scientists are genuinely interested in the truth (as demonstrated by their willingness to give a straight answer to a direct question).

  92. Brandon wrote ” Attempting to predict what other people are likely to do or say is hardwired into us — it’s a survival trait, especially in adversarial situations. “

    Indeed, but one of the advantages of being rational is that we don’t have to act on our hardwired instincts and can choose to consciously disregard them if we are willing to make the effort. This is something that scientists are trained to do as these sorts of cognitive biases tend to be unhelpful

  93. @dikran
    “Specifically who is excluded from the debate on climate policy by pointing out the true level of scientific consensus on climate change?”

    The undertone of “97% of scientists are with me” is “so shut up, you dumbass”.

  94. Joshua says:

    =>> ” Where we might differ is that I’m not always trying act in good faith. ”

    No. I’m not always trying to act in good faith. When I perceive that my interlocutor is acting in poor faith and won’t or can’t engage in good faith (e.g., I think that Brandon S is actually not capable) I move on or merely engage in snark. I don’t have any illusions that engaging in poor faith or in snark have any value, however.

    Related:

    There’s No Such Thing as Free Will
    But we’re better off believing in it anyway.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/06/theres-no-such-thing-as-free-will/480750/?utm_source=atlfb

  95. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    =>> ” If he wants greenhouse gas emissions, why doesn’t he go out and use his supposedly superior messaging strategy to influence policy. Instead he spends his time attacking a strategy that he regards as ineffective but that is at least aimed at influencing the public’s acceptance of climate policy.”

    Hmmm. You are setting up a false choice. Dan thinks that he IS engaged in what he considers to be superior efforts to affect policy.

  96. wheelism says:

    “…increases the electoral appeal of populists.”

    Cook; ergo, Trump.

    NOW you’re talking!

  97. Joshua,

    You are setting up a false choice. Dan thinks that he IS engaged in what he considers to be superior efforts to affect policy.

    Ahh, yes, that is quite possible. On the other hand, Richard did say “greenhouse gas emission reduction in the USA”, so a strategy that essentially attacks those who are trying to get others to recognise the level of agreement about the relevant science seems a bit of an odd way to get emission reductions.

    Richard,
    Ahh, you’ve come back and ignored the error in your spreadsheet, that I highlighted here.

    The undertone of “97% of scientists are with me” is “so shut up, you dumbass”.

    Not only is “shut up, you dumbass” not a part of consensus messaging, if people do indeed feel that they’re a dumbass when others point out something true, that’s not really an argument against pointing out a truth.

  98. In case Richard missed it, I’ll repost my handy little graphic illustrating the error in his spreadsheet.

  99. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> ” so a strategy that essentially attacks those who are trying to get others to recognise the level of agreement about the relevant science seems a bit of an odd way to get emission reductions.”

    I don’t think so. If he thinks that the strategy that others are employing is counterproductive, and that the strategies he employs have a greater impact on addressing climate change policy development…

    I’m not sure that I’ve explicitly read him state that he has a goal of emissions reductions, per se – but even there, at least theoretically, it doesn’t strike me as odd that he’d be attacking strategies that he thinks are counterproductive towards that intended goal as well are counterproductive, he thinks, towards the climate change policies he is intending to influence.

  100. Joshua,

    I’m not sure that I’ve explicitly read him state that he has a goal of emissions reductions,

    Indeed, so that was simply a claim from Richard T. I have no idea if it is his goal or not.

    but even there, at least theoretically, it doesn’t strike me as odd that he’d be attacking strategies that he thinks are counterproductive towards that intended goal as well are counterproductive, he thinks, towards the climate change policies he is intending to influence.

    Personally, I generally regard critiques that lack a constructive element as counter-productive; this could be wrong. I may have missed it, but I still have yet to see what he’s presenting as an alternative.

  101. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “Not only is “shut up, you dumbass” not a part of consensus messaging,”

    I’m going to push back on this a bit. I think that “people who go against the consensus are dumbasses, and you shouldn’t go along with dumbasses” is a part of “consensus messaging.”

    I don’t think it’s realistic to assume that there is no tribalistic aspect to “consensus messaging.” It goes along with, IMO, the “denier” labeling. That isn’t to say that think that “you’re a dumbass” is the sole component of “consensus-messaging,” nor that it isn’t pretty funny that Richard “the consensus is certainly in the high 90s” Tol would self-victimize about the impact of “consensus-leveraging” or cynically leverage faux concern about the polarizing outcomes of “consensus-messaging.”

  102. Joshua,

    I think that “people who go against the consensus are dumbasses, and you shouldn’t go along with dumbasses” is a part of “consensus messaging.”

    Yes, but this isn’t quite the same as “shut up, you dumbass”. There’s nothing stopping people from recognising the consensus and choosing to accept that it exists. There’s no rule that says “you once disputed the consensus so you’re forever regarded as a dumbass who should simply shut up”; it’s meant to provide information. If people choose to dispute that information, that’s up to them.

  103. Joshua says:

    ==> ” I may have missed it, but I still have yet to see what he’s presenting as an alternative.”

    It’s a bit indirect. One stated goal is to improve “science communication” in polarized contexts. (Personally, I think that separating out “science communication” in polarized contexts from communication generally in polarized contexts builds on something of a structural misperception – i.e., “science communication” is not a distinct brand of communication). Another stated goal is to create communicative context that are useful towards enacting policies to address climate change…so while that alternative might not be targeting the goal of emissions reduction, I think it does suffice as “an alternative.”

  104. Richard wrote “The undertone of “97% of scientists are with me” is “so shut up, you dumbass”.

    That is not answering the question “Specifically who is excluded from the debate on climate policy by pointing out the true level of scientific consensus on climate change?”. I suspect that is because you know perfectly well that nobody is excluded by it and you assertion was just rhetoric.

    As to the “dumbass” bit, the undertone is entirely in your own imagination. The same could be said of pointing out that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic, but does that mean we shouldn’t point this out when “skeptics” argue otherwise? No, of course not.

    Reminder #2 “Specifically who is excluded from the debate on climate policy by pointing out the true level of scientific consensus on climate change?”.

    Perhaps you would like to actually answer the question this time instead of being evasive.

  105. Joshua wrote “I don’t think it’s realistic to assume that there is no tribalistic aspect to “consensus messaging.” It goes along with, IMO, the “denier” labeling.”

    You are wrong, in at least one case. I tend not to call people deniers (I don’t see a problem with talking about denial, which is not the same thing), and there is no “tribalistic” aspece to “consensus messaging” to me. There is evidence the public is misinformed about something rationally used to form an opinion, and I think it is a good idea that this is addressed. There is nothing tribalistic about wanting policy decisions being reached based (indirectly) on the views of a well informed electorate. It seems like common sense to me.

  106. Joshua,

    One stated goal is to improve “science communication” in polarized contexts.

    That’s rather confusing, because I think I once (can’t seem to find it) tried to suggest that he was confusing science communication and activism and he claimed it wasn’t about science communication. Addmitedly, he then immediately used the term “science communication”.

  107. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Re your 2:08. Point taken. Except I do think it is “meant” to do more than simply provide information. In the very least, it is explicitly meant to advance a policy goal. And I think that given the context, it’s reasonable to conclude that it is “meant,” in less explicit ways, to express a tribal framework. Again, it is rather like calling someone a “denier.”

  108. In the very least, it is explicitly meant to advance a policy goal.

    I think there is a nuance to this. I’m busy trying to write another post about this, so will try to explain my thoughts there.

  109. Joshua says:

    Dikran –

    ==> “You are wrong, in at least one case. ”

    OK. I should have stated that better. Assuming that there is a tribalistic element would be a mistake. I think that absent contextual details, it is reasonable to suspect that there is tribalistic component when people are referencing the “climate scientist consensus’ (given the politicized and polarized context – it isn’t the case with referencing expert consensus in other contexts), but assuming a tribalistic component is a mistake.

    I do think, however, that within the larger public discussion, a tribalistic component is, in any realistic sense, inextricably linked to “consensus-messaging.” I think it is naive to base a strategy on a belief that the tribalism and the messaging can be de-coupled – except, perhaps, for an insignificant number of people (such that it isn’t a big enough cohort to meaningfully affect policy development).

  110. John Hartz says:

    How many times does one have to point out that the target of consensus messaging is the general public and not the folk living in Deniersville?

    Most of the inhabitants of Deniersville are blinded to reality by their political and/or religious ideologies. As long as they embrace those ideologies, they will never endorse any efforts to mitigate manmade climate change. The fact that Kahan and others are so concerned about their reaction to consensus messaging is baffling to me.

    Futhermore, the primary purpose of consensus messaging is to close the “consenus gap.” That gap exists because of the propaganda messaging of the Climate Denial Spin Machine that began in the 1970s.

  111. Joshua says:

    Brandon G –

    I am going to get back (later) to that comment of mine about Brandon S (and whether he’s “capable” of good faith discussion) After I wrote it, I thought about how it was a good example of the insidious nature of how easy it is to slip into poor faith framing in these discussions.

  112. Also, since Brandon S can’t comment here, maybe we should avoid discussions about him.

  113. Joshua says:

    JH –

    ==> “The fact that Kahan and others are so concerned about their reaction to consensus messaging is baffling to me.”

    I don’t think that it’s baffling. Dan thinks that it is significantly counterproductive. I think he’s wrong about that (I don’t think it has a significant impact in either direction), but I don’t think that he’s reasoning in that regard is bizarre or absurd, he does attempt to support his arguments in that regard with evidence (some of which I think is very interesting).

    I do think, however, that there is a rather ironic disconnect between the polarizing aspect of his own advocacy and the polarizing effect that he theorizes about the advocacy of others. He argues that they take place on different scales, and he is right about that, but I still think that he’s pretty disconnected about the impact of his own advocacy.

  114. @dikran
    “shut up you dumbass” is consilient with “I don’t want to talk to you”, i.e., exclusion

    it is probably no coincidence that consensus fan blogs are typically heavily moderated

  115. Joshua says:

    ==> “Also, since Brandon S can’t comment here, maybe we should avoid discussions about him.”

    Fair enough. I will stop. I won’t even talk about Brenda Shultz, 🙂 but I do want to find a way to talk about a generic problem related to good faith exchange.

  116. it is probably no coincidence that consensus fan blogs are typically heavily moderated

    Alternatively, those who run some sites don’t wish to have comment threads full of the kind of dross that you get on some sites.

    I’ll just post this again. Maybe you could at least consider acknowledging the blatant error. It’s only been a week or so since it was first pointed out to you.

  117. Joshua wrote “I do think, however, that within the larger public discussion, a tribalistic component is, in any realistic sense, inextricably linked to “consensus-messaging.” ”

    I disagree, there is a tribalistic aspect to some elements of the larger public discussion, and they will tend to use any tool to hand. That doesn’t mean the tool is inextricably linked to the tribalism. The same could be said for the use of scientific results.

  118. Richard Tol wrote “@dikran
    “shut up you dumbass” is consilient with “I don’t want to talk to you”, i.e., exclusion”

    As I said, the “dumbass” undertone is entirely of your own imagination, but you are STILL evading the question of WHO it is that is being excluded.

    Reminder #3 “Specifically WHO is excluded from the debate on climate policy by pointing out the true level of scientific consensus on climate change?”.

    Richard also writes “it is probably no coincidence that consensus fan blogs are typically heavily moderated”

    Yawn, sorry Richard I am not going to rise to the bait, other than to point out that you clearly are not being excluded from the discussion, indeed there is strong evidence that we want you to make your position clear as we keep asking you questions. Your refusal to answer them is your decision.

  119. John Hartz says:

    Dikran: Spot on!

  120. L Hamilton says:

    In Willardian terms I do not have a dog in this fight, she prefers chasing squirrels in a different forest (hasn’t caught one yet, and the squirrel tribe is prospering). I do have an interest in public perceptions of scientific agreement, as noted earlier, and may get back to that later. But meanwhile, a few thoughts about the van der Linden/Kahan disagreement.

    If I had reviewed the VLFM I would have recommended that Figure 1 be a graph something along these lines, sketching 0-order relationships between treatment and outcomes. By simple tests the control/consensus message treatment has a significant effect on pre/post changes in 3 of 5 outcome measures. The effects (except for scientists agree) are not large, but all 5 go in the hypothesized direction.

    Kahan pursues detail with histograms, medians, modes and other statistical test, but for my tastes something like the graph above offers more clarity. I’m sure the authors have superior versions of such graphs, which will come out in their response. (I should emphasize here that calculations, approximations & any confusion in my posts are my own). In their paper VLFM focus on an SEM analysis corresponding to their gateway cognition model, which the whole experiment was designed to test.

  121. L Hamilton says:

    In Kahan’s preliminary draft of a paper,
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2779661
    which looks like it’s meant for submission eventually, he criticizes VLFM Table 1 for being confusing. In his draft the table is reproduced without its heading, and with some interpretation by Kahan, both of which added to my confusion at least. The original table with its heading (reproduced in Kahan’s blog post though not the paper draft) seems reasonably clear,
    “Table 1. Overview of sample characteristics and key belief measures.”
    which I understood to mean the table is just a rearrangement of basic univariate statistics like these, a common way to introduce the data:

  122. Willard says:

    It is probably no coincidence that denizens from contrarian networks try to poison the Gatorade cooler and play the ref on a daily basis.

  123. John Hartz says:

    To amplify my prior comment,,,

  124. L Hamilton says:

    Kahan criticizes the VLFM structural equation model (SEM) as misspecified, because in the Figure 2 path diagram no arrows directly connect the treatment with outcomes other than scientific agreement. But the lack of arrows does not necessarily mean the analysis did not include such effects. Other predictors (age, gender, education and party) are said to be included, but not shown in Fig 2 either. VLFM state that treatment effects are “fully mediated” by other outcomes depicted as intervening variables, which indicates that direct effects from treatment to all outcomes, after adjustments for intervening measures, were tested.

    Earlier I mentioned that the SEM in Fig 2 could be roughly approximated by 5 multiple regressions. The final one of these, change in support regressed on everything to its left, might look about like this:

    Note that treatment is included among the predictors, but that it has a nonsignificant effect — as implied by the “fully mediated” description in VLFM. If we run all 5 regression in this fashion, then sketch our own version of Fig 2 but showing arrows only where the coefficients are statistically significant (because otherwise it’s a spiderweb) — then we end up with something that looks pretty much like Fig 2. No misspecification required.

  125. Joseph says:

    I don’t think it has a significant impact in either direction

    But you haven’t ever provided any evidence that it doesn’t have any impact or that everyone sees climate change and policy through the same mechanism. I agree that consensus messaging likely won’t have an effect on certain populations, but I think awareness can strengthen the belief of those who generally accept the science and can influence those who don’t have well formed opinions and or moderate political views. I posted a survey before that found that moderate Republicans had increased their acceptance of climate change over time. I think that demonstrates that certain groups can change their mind and their views aren’t set in stone or necessarily determined by ideology or political biases. And whether not I am right or you are about the effectiveness would you want a situation where the public was aware that their is a strong consensus on climate change or one where everyone was unaware of the consensus and believed that there was substantial disagreement on the basic science? It’s obvious to me that the latter is the optimal one

  126. It’s obvious to me that the latter is the optimal one

    Are you sure? 🙂

  127. Joseph says:

    oops Need some coffee. 🙂

  128. Joshua says:

    Joseph –

    ==> “But you haven’t ever provided any evidence that it doesn’t have any impact or that everyone sees climate change and policy through the same mechanism.”

    Even though I think that there is only sketchy evidence that it is effective, I haven’t presented any evidence that it isn’t effective because I don’t think that there is solid evidence that it isn’t effective – Dan Kahan’s notwithstanding.

    I readily acknowledge that I am only speculating.

    ==> “I agree that consensus messaging likely won’t have an effect on certain populations, but I think awareness can strengthen the belief of those who generally accept the science and can influence those who don’t have well formed opinions and or moderate political views.”

    Again, I get the logic…but I think that “consensus-messaging” about climate change is (1) inextricably linked to ideological identity and polarization and (2) the needle isn’t likely to be pushed in the direction towards more mitigation policy by “consensus-messaging.” Those already in one camp will find “consensus-messaging” reinforcing and those in the other will feel it only reinforces their position as well. I think that most of those in the middle will most likely go “meh” because belief formation related to climate change, as with other questions of low probability high impact risk, is too complex a process to be materially affected by such a simplistic vector – expecially when any real world “consensus-messaging” carries a heavy load of tribalistic baggage.

    ==> I posted a survey before that found that moderate Republicans had increased their acceptance of climate change over time. I think that demonstrates that certain groups can change their mind and their views aren’t set in stone or necessarily determined by ideology or political biases.”

    I don’t think that the opinions of moderates are fixed, and I don’t think that views are “caused” by political identification. I think that there is a strong identity-association, however, and thus any strategies that are inherently politicized will likely have minimal (net) impact. A reasonable question might be whether absent “consensus-messaging,” “anti-consensus-messaging” might have had or might have in the future a larger effect (as counterfactual spculation)…I don’t know the answer.

    ==> “And whether not I am right or you are about the effectiveness would you want a situation where the public was aware that their is a strong consensus on climate change or one where everyone was unaware of the consensus and believed that there was substantial disagreement on the basic science? It’s obvious to me that the latter is the optimal one.”

    Sure. But that, in and of itself, does not support arguments that “consensus-messaging” is effective. And I do think that there is a question of opportunity cost.

  129. John Hartz says:

    Joshua: You wrote:

    Again, I get the logic…but I think that “consensus-messaging” about climate change is (1) inextricably linked to ideological identity and polarization and (2) the needle isn’t likely to be pushed in the direction towards more mitigation policy by “consensus-messaging.”

    If so, why is the right wing-nut media in the U.S. going bonkers over the impact of consensus meassaging?

    For example, here is the concluding sentence/paragraph of an article posted today.

    Regardless, the big lie has taken hold, and is now being used to push for “decarbonization” policies, and to silence critics of “global warming.”

    When A Third Becomes 97 Percent: A Con That Changed the Western World by Steve Capozoola, Brietbart News, May 21, 2016

  130. Joshua says:

    ==> “If so, why is the right wing-nut media in the U.S. going bonkers over the impact of consensus meassaging?”

    Why did they go bonkers over Ebola? Because they feel vindicated and a strengthened sense of identity by doing so. And, because they feel that exacerbating the ideological warfare over “consensus-messaging,” and anything else climate change related, is a path to ideological victory.

  131. John Hartz says:

    Joshua: You wrote:

    Why did they go bonkers over Ebola? Because they feel vindicated and a strengthened sense of identity by doing so. And, because they feel that exacerbating the ideological warfare over “consensus-messaging,” and anything else climate change related, is a path to ideological victory.

    Are you saying that the right wing-nuts are not concerned that consenusus messaging is influencing the way the public at-large perceives climate change?

  132. Joshua says:

    JH –

    ==> “Are you saying that the right wing-nuts are not concerned that consenusus messaging is influencing the way the public at-large perceives climate change?”

    No. I think that many of them probably have that concern and are hedging against that possibility. But I don’t think that (1) fully explains why they go bonkers over “consensus-messaging” (I think that identity-aggression may be in play, but don’t know which is really more explanatory) or (2) that’s a reason to think that “consensus-messaging” (in the context of climate change) will move the needle on policy development.

  133. L Hamilton says:

    @Tom Curtis — as illustrated by regression example above, there’s not much case attrition moving through the model; still 846 observations for the “support” equation, which is the most complicated. What attrition does occur comes from missing values among the variables, rather than subset selection.

    The coefficients in my example or VLFM’s Fig 2 try to answer the question:
    By how much does the expected value of y change, per 1-unit increase in x, if u, v, w etc. (whatever other predictors are in that model) stay the same?

    To be clear, I didn’t try to replicate VLFM. Rather, I took a simpler statistical approach to see what happened. Turns out you can get pretty close to their Fig 2 with low technology, so in that sense its results are robust.

  134. izen,

    The consensus message has neutral information about the degree of agreement about a subject in the scientific community because of the strength of evidence.
    But it will also be decoded for the motivation behind the message by those receiving it.

    Aside from the neutral qualifier I agree. Climate science itself contains information about the planet and our influences on it. Those messages are decoded in the same way. This might be an effective attack against Kahan’s conclusions.

    John Hartz nailed it squarely: How many times does one have to point out that the target of consensus messaging is the general public and not the folk living in Deniersville?

    … though I might point out that polarized messages have a tendency to polarize.

    dikranmarsupial,

    Indeed, but one of the advantages of being rational is that we don’t have to act on our hardwired instincts and can choose to consciously disregard them if we are willing to make the effort.

    Yup. One of my points to Joshua was recognition of the difficulty.

    This is something that scientists are trained to do as these sorts of cognitive biases tend to be unhelpful

    One of many reasons for my love of the scientific method and general admiration of its practitioners. Freeman Dyson’s dim views of climate science sucks for me, especially because I never thought of him as dim.

    Anders,

    That defending the societal value of one’s work can always be cast in terms of self-interest, and arguably so.

    Yes, but there is a difference between defending one’s own work by highlighting its merits and doing so by attacking – at every opportunity – those whose work presents a potential counter to your own work.

    I agree. There’s also a difference between attacking a flawed work and the imputed motives of those who did it. Speaking of …

    Also, since Brandon S can’t comment here, maybe we should avoid discussions about him.

    Fairer than I think he deserves. I’ll attempt to make that my final dig against him here.

    Joshua,

    […] I do want to find a way to talk about a generic problem related to good faith exchange.

    Not to be polarizing or anything, here’s my contribution:

    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ~George Carlin, channelling Twain

    Substitute “liar” for “idiot”.

  135. Charles Nagy says:

    ATTP re Richard Tol:
    “I’ll just post this again. Maybe you could at least consider acknowledging the blatant error. It’s only been a week or so since it was first pointed out to you.”

    I consider being unable to acknowledge your errors, a basic character flaw that seems to be shared by all Contrarians/Skeptics/Deniers (call them what you will). Tol has a history of refusing to acknowledge errors even when pointed out to him by experts. http://andrewgelman.com/2014/05/27/whole-fleet-gremlins-looking-carefully-richard-tols-twice-corrected-paper-economic-effects-climate-change/#comment-167776

    I have on many occasions pointed out to “contrarians” exactly where they went wrong in their thinking, quoting the actual documented facts, giving them no wiggle room whatsoever. Any rational person would there and then admit they were wrong. Nope, no admission, they just change the subject, concentrate on some irrelevancy and move on. This is incredibly childish behaviour, tantamount to putting fingers in ears and yelling “nah, nah, na nanaa, I’m not listening!”

    ATTP, suggest you post that graphic on Facebook, where more people can see it 🙂

  136. Charles,
    The odd thing is that the clear error (2.36 instead of 4.27 in the bottom row, column 1) is trivial and wouldn’t make a major difference to what he’s done, and yet Richard won’t even acknowledge this, despite it being explained clearly time and time again.

  137. Charles Nagy says:

    Agreed. Therefore my contention that it is a basic character flaw. He is congenitally unable to admit when he is wrong, regardless of how trivial a mistake. His DNA won’t allow it. 🙂
    That’s OK for minor things, but when large mistakes are made, to the extent that they invalidate his findings, then that’s not OK. Especially given his high profile and the fact that his papers are routinely quoted by the usual suspects to delay meaningful action against GW, hence putting increasing numbers of the world’s population at risk.

  138. Alternatively, I have been busy with an experiment / marking / preparing lectures and have not had time to look into this. Furthermore, Wotts and co are not the most reliable sources, so there is of course a good chance that they misread something in the spreadsheet again.

  139. Richard,
    Maybe you have been busy, but it is such an obvious error, that it wouldn’t have taken much to quickly check.

    Furthermore, Wotts and co are not the most reliable sources

    Hmmmmm

    I’ll post the helpful graphic again. The error is in column B20-B26 of your bias sheet.

  140. And, just for clarity, here is the first time it was pointed out (May 10, 2016). I won’t bother counting how many comments you’ve made since then. To be clear, feel free to not acknowledge the error. However, it’s such an obvious, and trivial, one that there is no obvious reason not to. It wouldn’t even much change your analysis; that would still be wrong 🙂

  141. wheelism says:

    I sleep better at night knowing that the dynamic duo of Andrew Gelman and his ward Bob are keeping an eye on the JAQer’s antics.

  142. I sleep better at night knowing that the dynamic duo of Andrew Gelman

    Maybe not.

  143. wheelism says:

    Like all Warmista, I remain steadfast in my faith.

    “That our greenhouse gas emissions affect the atmosphere is a theory;
    That Batman exists is a fact.”

  144. Marco says:

    “they misread something in the spreadsheet ”

    I never laughed as loud (but rather sarcastically) as when I read this. Who was it again that had to correct his paper for misreading the numbers of others?!

    And as pointed out in that Andrew Gelman thread by e.g. Brandon Shollenberger, Tol is very, very good at mixing up minuses and pluses.

  145. Willard says:

    Richie may not have had the time to look into anything else than this thread around:

    May 19, 2016 at 8:36 pm
    May 21, 2016 at 6:29 am
    May 21, 2016 at 8:35 am
    May 21, 2016 at 12:23 pm
    May 21, 2016 at 2:41 pm
    May 22, 2016 at 12:51 pm

  146. wheelism says:

    Popper to the contrary, it’s the beat that brings Richard back.

  147. Joseph says:

    I think that there is a strong identity-association,

    What identity are you referring to?

    ==> “And whether not I am right or you are about the effectiveness would you want a situation where the public was aware that their is a strong consensus on climate change or one where everyone was unaware of the consensus and believed that there was substantial disagreement on the basic science? It’s obvious to me that the latter is the optimal one.”

    Sure. But that, in and of itself, does not support arguments that “consensus-messaging” is effective. And I do think that there is a question of opportunity cost.

    Do you think that if the public and politicians believed that there was substantial disagreement over the basics of climate change we would see international agreements like the one in Paris? To me it seems communication of the consensus in some form whether it be through the IPCC reports,, studies, or through statements by scientific groups is necessary for achieving action on climate change..

  148. wheelism says:

    Pulling at a thread here, but Joshua’s comment in another post, ending with an appeal to participatory democracy, confirmed my concerns about what he’s selling.

    (You’re welcome.)

  149. Joshua says:

    Wheelism,

    If I might, what is your concern about participatory democracy?

  150. wheelism says:

    Josh (because you gotta be kidding me) – I will try to keep it civil, but please understand that I’ve no interest in your fey “Is he or isn’t he?” promenades, nor in the sea lioning that you’re considering right now.

  151. Joshua says:

    wheellsm –

    I don’t know what you’re referring to with (1) the “is he or isn’t he” point, (2) the promenades point or (3) the sea-lioning point. But I don’t actually care if you explain them. No, I’m not kidding you, and I don’t actually care if you keep it civil.

    But I would like to know what concerns you about participatory democracy.

  152. Charles Nagy says:

    Joshua,

    Re Wheelism, I agree. I too find his posts incredibly obtuse on occasion. He may know what he is referring to, but but the rest of us need a bit more explanation.

  153. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard wrote “Alternatively, I have been busy with an experiment / marking / preparing lectures and have not had time to look into this.”

    This is really pathetic. How long does it take to look at a spreadsheet and see if an error that has been very specifically explained is there or not? A few minutes. Not being willing to spend a couple of minutes checking for an error in published research work is not the sort of thing I would expect from a senior academic, having said which, not being willing to give a straight answer a direct question about it is probably worse.

  154. Joshua says:

    Charles –

    Thanks. I was wondering if I was missing something obvious.

  155. wheelism says:

    Charles: I do not think “obtuse” means what you think it means.

    Joshua: If you think that I’m following you down the Rabett hole, you’re being obtuse.

  156. Joshua says:

    wheelism –

    ==> “Joshua: If you think that I’m following you down the Rabett hole, you’re being obtuse.”

    I’m not asking you to follow me down any Rabett holes (or rabbit holes).

    I am curious as to why you are concerned about deliberative democracy.

  157. Charles Nagy says:

    There are quite a few different possible interpretations of “obtuse” Here is one from the Oxford Dictionary :

    “Difficult to understand, especially deliberately so:”

    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/obtuse

    I think I know exactly what “obtuse” means, and I used it appropriately.

    Best…

  158. wheelism says:

    If you’d stop beating that straw man, that’d be just great.

  159. Joshua says:

    Wheelism –

    I assumed that in being concerned about my appeal to participatory democracy, you have concerns about participatory democracy. Maybe I misunderstood. What, then, concerns you about my appeal to participatory democracy?

  160. wheelism says:

    Exactly.

  161. wheelism says:

    Charles – “obtuse” was simply a weak choice for what you were trying to express. “Obscure” and “oblique” come to mind.

    Anyway, I was wrong.

  162. Joshua says:

    Wheelism –

    well, I am glad I got that right, but I still don’t understand your comment. You came here and made a criticism of me. I am asking you to explain it because I don’t understand it. Perhaps others do, in which case maybe they will pipe in. But perhaps some others don’t understand.

    At any rate, it would seem to me that tlyou would want the person you are criticizing to.l understand your criticism. You have indicated that you think I do understand, but I don’t. So why don’t you humor me and provide an explanation? Maybe someone else, as well, will understand your criticism better, also.

  163. wheelism says:

    “well, I am glad I got that right,”

    LOL – we are on entirely different pages, Joshua.

    I consider you a bad faith actor.

    There it is.

    Good luck with your future endeavors and such, but please…I just need some space to deal with this utter indifference.

  164. Joshua says:

    Good luck to you too. Take all the space you need. I grant you permission.

  165. Charles Nagy says:

    Wheelism,

    Lets not get hung up on semantics. I considered your comments to be obscure, perhaps deliberately so, hence my use of obtuse. However, not really worth arguing over such a trivial issue, lets split the difference… How about obscruse?

  166. wheelism says:

    As you wish.

  167. I’ve no idea what’s going one here, so maybe we can simply draw it to a close.

  168. There was indeed an error in my spreadsheet. I originally calculated an measurement-error-corrected consensus rate of 91.395%. It should be 91.398%. I corrected the spreadsheet. I have asked the journal editors for advice on publishing an erratulum.

  169. Okay, well kudos for admitting the error.

  170. Dikran Marsupial says:

  171. Dikran Marsupial says:

    As ATTP says, kudos.

  172. Richard,
    Interesting that you now say

    I originally calculated an measurement-error-corrected consensus rate of 91.395%. It should be 91.398%.

    Because when I asked you

    Why haven’t you corrected your erroneous earlier paper where you suggested that the consensus in Cook et als. data was 91%?

    You responded with

    I didn’t

    Which you then clarified to mean

    I didn’t suggest that.

    You now seem to suggesting that you did suggest that. Which is it?

  173. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard, as you are back:

    Reminder #4 “Specifically WHO is excluded from the debate on climate policy by pointing out the true level of scientific consensus on climate change?”.

  174. @dikran
    As I noted before, since Cook’s data are a pile of garbage, the measurement-error-corrected estimate of the consensus rate is only slightly less worthless than Cook’s original estimate. So no, 91.4% is not my estimate of the consensus rate.

  175. Richard,

    So no, 91.4% is not my estimate of the consensus rate.

    The only place it exists is in a paper published by you. Therefore it is yours, whether you like it or not. Now, where are those 300 missing abstracts? #FreeTheTol300

  176. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard, that was ATTPs question not mine.

    Reminder #5 “Specifically WHO is excluded from the debate on climate policy by pointing out the true level of scientific consensus on climate change?”.

    But having said which, your evasion is fairly transparent, ATTP asked

    “Why haven’t you corrected your erroneous earlier paper where you suggested that the consensus in Cook et als. data was 91%? “

    So “So no, 91.4% is not my estimate of the consensus rate” is obviously not answering the question, plus ca change…

  177. OK, Dikran, let me spell it out: I never suggested that the consensus rate is 91%. 91% follows from a single correction to data with multiple flaws.

  178. Richard,
    Let me spell it out: the only place in which a consensus of 91% is mentioned is in your paper, where is says:

    However, the number of endorsements far exceeds the number of rejections. Therefore, applying the same correction to the 6.7% incorrectly rated abstracts, the consensus rate falls from 98% to 91%.

    Claiming that you’ve never suggested that the consensus rate is 91% is bizarre, given that the only person who has ever done so is you.

  179. @wotts
    Perhaps you should read the paper, rather than those two sentences?

  180. Richard,
    I have read the whole paper. Maybe you should avoid publishing things that you would rather not defend. I can see why (it’s particularly silly) but it doesn’t change that the only place where it is suggested that the consensus in the Cook et al. data is 91%, rather than 97/98%, is in your paper.

  181. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard wrote “OK, Dikran, let me spell it out: I never suggested that the consensus rate is 91%. 91% follows from a single correction to data with multiple flaws.”

    Did you say that explicitly in the paper? Did you point out that this figure (unlike the one actually given in the original paper) did not agree with your own view (“The consensus is of course in the high nineties. No one ever said it was not.”)? Both of these questions can be answered with a “yes” or a “no”.

    This is quite important as without that caveat a reader might easily think that the evidence suggests that the consensus is actually 91% rather than in the high nineties, which we both apparently agree would be a mistake.

    Reminder #6 “Specifically WHO is excluded from the debate on climate policy by pointing out the true level of scientific consensus on climate change?”.

  182. Tol (2014) in a nutshell: “There are N things wrong with this estimate. Correcting one of the errors, the estimate changes from A to B.”

    Wotts: “Tol thinks the estimate is B!”

  183. Richard,

    Wotts: “Tol thinks the estimate is B!”

    Ummm, no, I don’t think you think this (which, to be honest, is almost worse since you’ve clearly published something you don’t believe to be true). This doesn’t, however, change that you published a paper in which you suggested that the consensus was 91%. Your argument is clearly that this is correcting an error. However, your error correction is clearly nonsense, and if supposedly correction an error produces a nonsensical result, maybe you should go back and recheck your error correction procedure.

    You, and you alone, are responsible for the suggestion that the consensus in the Cook et al. data is 91%. Given that this is clearly wrong, maybe you should correct this mis-representation?

  184. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard you have not answered my question, again. Not pointing out in the paper that the 91% was obviously incorrect was a mistake as it gives the reader the reasonable impression that you believe the 91% figure is more correct than that given in Cook et al. (e.g. Politifact). For most people correcting an error should give a result that is more correct, rather than very obviously incorrect, so it is a reasonable interpretation of what you actually wrote.

    Reminder #1 ” Did you point out that this figure (unlike the one actually given in the original paper) did not agree with your own view (“The consensus is of course in the high nineties. No one ever said it was not.”)? ”

    Reminder #7 “Specifically WHO is excluded from the debate on climate policy by pointing out the true level of scientific consensus on climate change?”.

  185. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard wrote “Wotts: “Tol thinks the estimate is B!””

    Richard, do you think that the 91% estimate is a better estimate than the 97% estimate given in C13? A “Yes” or “No” answer would be appreciated (if necessary followed by some explanation).

  186. @dikran
    “the measurement-error-corrected estimate of the consensus rate is […] slightly less worthless than Cook’s original estimate”

  187. Richard,

    “the measurement-error-corrected estimate of the consensus rate is […] slightly less worthless than Cook’s original estimate”

    This seems rather odd, given that it’s a great deal more wrong.

  188. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard “the measurement-error-corrected estimate of the consensus rate is […] slightly less worthless than Cook’s original estimate”

    So you think that 91% is a better estimate of the consensus rate than 97%?

  189. So you think that 91% is a better estimate of the consensus rate than 97%?

    Presumably not.

  190. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Yes, it shouldn’t be too difficult for Richard to give a straight answer to that one.

  191. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    Guys – You clearly don’t understand the consequent that Richard Tol is affirming.

    Perhaps this will help:

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

    ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

  192. @dikran
    What part of “less worthless” did you not understand? “Less” or “worthless”?

  193. Richard,
    Which part of [t]he consensus is of course in the high nineties did you not mean?

  194. Willard says:

    Tol (2014) in a nutshell: “C13 underplays the consensus a bit (it should be in higher nineties), but I won’t say it that way; C13 also refutes the consensus-collapse myth, but look, some concerned squirrels!”

  195. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard wrote “What part of “less worthless” did you not understand? “Less” or “worthless”?”

    Richard you clearly don’t understand the distinction between the method and the result. I know you think that the method is “less worthless”, I was asking whether you think the outcome was more accurate. Have another try:

    Do you think that the 91% consensus estimate is more accurate than the 97% estimate given by Cook et al?

  196. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    Rather unsurprisingly, Tol is not only more misunderstood than Cook – He’s more misunderstood than Polasky and Haneman too.

    Interesting reading for context:

    http://www.desmogblog.com/2016/06/07/peabodys-outlier-gang-couldnt-shoot-straight

    http://www.desmogblog.com/sites/beta.desmogblog.com/files/S.Polasky.20159-113910-02.pdf

  197. Very,
    This, in your latter link, made me laugh

    Q. Is there anything else you want to say in response to Dr. Mendelsohn and Dr. Tol’s questioning of your experience and expertise?

    A. I would also point out that both Dr. Hanemann and I have been elected into the National Academy of Sciences, while Drs. Mendelsohn and Tol have not.

  198. Pingback: Scientific consensus, is it an indulgence and scientific malpractice?

  199. Pingback: The (in)effectiveness of Consensus Messaging on climate change

  200. Pingback: 2016: A year in blogging | …and Then There's Physics

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