Consensus enforcers

I’ve been engaging in some discussions over at cliscep (yes, yes, I know). It included Ben Pile, who seems to think that the phrase is play the man, not the ball. Ben’s mantra appears to be that there is a group of consensus enforcers – of which I’m either one, or I associate with them – who somehow go around enforcing the consensus; preventing others from presenting their alternative views.

Since I haven’t had a consensus post for a while, I thought I might comment on this. I may regret this decision, of course. Climate science is a little unusual in that there is research into quantifying the level of consensus. In most research areas, this isn’t necessary, because all you really need to do is ask someone. In climate science, however, there are claims that there is no consensus, and – consequently – there are studies aimed at establishing if there is one and, if so, quantifying it. The basic consensus is that we are causing global warming and, if you consider relevant experts, or relevant papers, you find that the consensus is probably somewhere between 90% and 100%.

Essentially – which is no great surprise – there is a strong consensus with respect to anthropogenic global warming. This means, of course, that if people go around suggesting that there isn’t, others will point out that they’re wrong. Similarly, if someone presents ideas that appear inconsistent with the consensus position, they’re likely to be challenged. This doesn’t mean that anyone is trying to enforce the consensus. Overturning a strong consensus is difficult, especially if the consensus position is supported by many lines of consistent evidence. Therefore, any attempt to do so is very likely to be heavily scrutinised.

Overturning a consensus takes a lot of work. It’s unlikely that a single study is suddenly going to do it. It’s much more likely that those presenting alternatives have made some kind of fundamental error, than they’ve suddenly overturned something that has developed over many years and that is based on many lines of evidence. It’s not impossible, but it’s not very likely. Challenging those who claim to have done so is an essential part of normal science; it’s got nothing to do with enforcing anything.

My impression of the consensus enforcer narrative is that it is largely supported by those who don’t like what the consensus suggests, but who don’t have the confidence – or ability – to present their views in a manner that is particularly convincing. It’s easier for them to complain that others are enforcing the consensus and, hence, that they’re being excluded, than it is to consider that they just don’t really know how to construct a compelling argument. Admittedly, constructing a compelling argument that involves disputing the consensus position is difficult, so maybe it’s understandable. Of course, that’s one reason for highlighting the consensus; it makes it difficult to construct arguments that aren’t based on the best evidence available.

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97 Responses to Consensus enforcers

  1. Feeling lonely and ignored: write a post on the consensus.

    Consensus enforcement: Analysis of Robin McKie’s “Next year or the year after, the Arctic will be free of ice”

    The last few days I have pointed people to the Climate Feedback assessment on Twitter and Reddit. Explaining more liberal people that a newspaper article does not fit to the scientific consensus is more rewarding than trying to do the same with mitigation sceptics. Liberal people are mostly actually interested in the information, sometimes even thankful, sometime even help spread it. A few are like mitigation sceptics and would rather not hear it because they think exaggerated stories make their political case stronger, but that is just a small group..

  2. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: There’s little consensus about most topics among the members of the SkS all-volunteer author team — except of course the “97% Consensus” derived from Cook, et al (2013). 🙂

  3. John Hartz says:

    AATP: If the consensus enforcer shoe fits, wear it! 🙂

  4. John Hartz says:

    Personally, I’d rather be a consensus enforcer than a Trump surrogate. 🙂

  5. So happy not to be a Trump surrogate. Although if you do not have to live in the same country this is genuinely hilarious.

  6. Magma says:

    Naturally enough the second thing the consensus enforcers did was to enforce a consensus on the consensus studies. They’re not stupid, you know. It’s turtles all the way down.

  7. Magma says:

    ‘Recursive enforcement’… I wonder if Stephan Lewandowsky is tired of studying our skeptical friends yet and is looking for a change of pace?

  8. Raff says:

    The poor dears complain that consensus enforcers won’t ‘engage’. But I can’t get what they really mean by that. I imagine they mean we should take their BS seriously, but that would mean they actually believe it. Can that be?

  9. Alex Jones is quite sane. He’s a entertainer who uses politics as his stage. It’s a far right stage, but that’s his niche. There’s always been cuckoos, and there’s always been outrage, but in the modern era Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern first showed that there’s A LOT of money to be made by being outrageous. For some reason people like to listen to things that makes them outraged. Maybe they get to feel superior. People are either outraged because they agree with Limbaugh’s outrage, or they’re outraged because they disagree and can’t believe he’s daring to say such thing about them.

    Ann Coulter, Jon Stewart, they’re all in the same game, each with their own niche.

    Alex Jones WANTS you to think he’s insane. It’s how he gets attention. And every time someone points out how outrageous he is, he gets more attention still. He rises a little up his food chain. And we waste our time shaking our heads again.

  10. David, I agree. One of the big cultural problems we have is that you can make money from being an asshole. That stimulates bad behaviour. That is also why I linked to a commentary video, so that Jones would not earn any royalties. (That is also why I only link to bad webpages using “rel=NoFollow” to make sure they are not rewarded.)

    The sad thing is that so many people support Jones; just have a look at the YouTube comments below the above video. It is sad that money has replaced morality, but they are not even making money from this theatre like Jones. Reality and rationality are evaporating.

    Meanwhile scientists are supposed to friendly listen to the likes of Jones according to Richard P Grant in The Guardian.
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/occams-corner/2016/aug/23/scientists-losing-science-communication-skeptic-cox

  11. Raff,

    The poor dears complain that consensus enforcers won’t ‘engage’. But I can’t get what they really mean by that.

    I don’t get it either. It’s one reason I commented on Ian Woolley’s post, because it seemed that he wanted more conversations. Just seems to be a very specific kind of conversation that I haven’t quite worked out. You might be right that it would involve taking what they say seriously, but that would be silly.

  12. dikranmarsupial says:

    Perhaps they would prefer to be ignored or ridiculed like most of those that claim to have evidence against the consensus on general relativity, or evolution by natural selection, or the various other elements of science on which a strong consensus exists. Not that I am condoning ridicule, but going out and performing studies and publishing papers is engaging and engaging constructively, what more do the want (other than a different answer)?

  13. JonA says:

    What is the consensus position? It seems to vacillate between anthropogenic activities being
    responsible for ‘some’, ‘more than half’, ‘most’ and ‘more than 100%’ to suit the point being
    debated. For instance, most sceptics would probably agree that man’s activities have caused
    ‘some’ changes to the climate. The issue is over how much influence man exerts over the
    climate and whether this is a negative thing or not. I don’t think the Consensus is a particularly
    useful thing in this regard.

  14. Jon,
    If you look at Chapter 10 of the latest IPCC report (WGI) it says

    It is extremely likely that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in GMST from 1951 to 2010.

    While the SPM says

    It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.

    If you consider this Realclimate post it shows the distribution of anthropogenic causes. There is a very small chance of it causing less than 50% (i.e., extremely likely more than 50%) and the best estimate is around 110% (i.e., natural influences have possibly produced some cooling).

    So, the basic consensus position is that anthropogenic influences have been the dominant factor in the second half of the 20th century, and probably caused most of the observed warming. If we continue to emit CO2 it will probably continue to be the dominant factor.

  15. JonA says:

    ATTP – it was my understanding that Cook’s consensus papers did not find a 97%
    consensus for the IPCC position (more than half). In fact, according to their own
    methodology the consensus position in Cook’s papers for that is very narrow indeed.
    It seems disingenuous to me to conflate the two.

  16. Jon,
    The consensus position in Cook et al. was that humans are causing global warming.

    It seems disingenuous to me to conflate the two.

    You’re the only one here who’s mentioned it.

  17. JonA says:

    I suggest you read your own OP again ATTP.

    However, this does sort of illustrate one of the problems when talking about
    “the consensus”. It’s difficult to know which consensus you are referring to…

  18. BBD says:

    JonA

    Stealthed arguments for low climate sensitivity are no more robust than those openly expressed,

  19. I suggest you read your own OP again ATTP.

    Where did I mention Cook’s 97% paper?

    However, this does sort of illustrate one of the problems when talking about “the consensus”. It’s difficult to know which consensus you are referring to…

    That’s why I explained the one presented in the IPCC documents.

  20. JonA says:

    BBD,

    No astroturfing from me. I’m genuinely confused on what the consensus is actually meant
    to be. From reading around, a lot of other people are too.

    ATTP,

    I assume the hyperlink on the consensus you have in your OP was intentional?

  21. Jon,
    That is to a post about the consensus-on-consensus meta-study. This considered all published consensus studies, not just the Cook et al. 97% study.

  22. Jon,
    How do you interpet the word “causing”?

  23. BBD says:

    JonA

    From reading around, a lot of other people are too.

    Contrarian people?

    As I understand it, the scientific consensus is that warming is real, is us, and is potentially hazardous. Drill down into the expert consensus on attribution and it is that the warming trend post-1950 is probably all anthropogenic.

  24. L Hamilton says:

    For our surveys we ask a standard question:

    Which of the following three statements do you think is more accurate?
    – Climate change is happening now, caused mainly by human activities
    – Climate change is happening now, but caused mainly by natural forces.
    – Climate change is NOT happening now.

    The response order is rotated in telephone interviews. When we asked this on a nationwide US survey in 2011, about 52% chose the now/human response. Asked again on a new survey just completed last week, that was up to 61% (preliminary results). Other evidence confirms a gradual rise. Of course the percentage choosing that response would be much higher among active scientists, but even among the general public there exists a growing majority who are broadly aware of the scientific consensus.

  25. izen says:

    @-JonA
    “I’m genuinely confused on what the consensus is actually meant
    to be. ”

    That is because it is context dependent and largely a marketing exercise.

    Quite independently of any measure of consensus is a body of knowledge evolved over a century and a half about the thermodynamics of the climate. The best explanation we have based on observational evidence and physical theory is that all the warming, ice melt, sea level rise and increased rainfall since the 1950s is a result of the CO2 rise caused by fossil fuel emissions.

    How many people, scientists or general public with non college educational level, hold a consensus about that body of knowledge is of sociological interest.
    While other descriptions and narratives of the last 50 years of observed climate change exist, it is inevitable that one explanation will be the best at fitting the observations and showing coherence and consiliance with all other areas of science.
    The IPCC WG1 section is as good a statement of that as any. Or any of the statements made by the national science bodies of all major countries.

    Perhaps the only value consensus has is the historical example that there has not in the modern era been a scientific understanding of any subject so well developed and supported that has been refuted and discarded.

  26. Tom Curtis says:

    JonA, the consensus of climate scientists as expounded by the IPCC, and shown to be the case by a variety of studies (but not Cook et al) is that:

    1) Human’s have caused almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases over the 20th and 21st century.
    2) The increase in greenhouse gases is the dominant positive forcing over that period, and even when negative anthropogenic forcings are taken into account, accounts for 25-100% of warming since 1850 and almost certainly more than 50% of warming since 1950.
    3) Forcings are the major determinant of Global Mean Surface Temperature in the medium to long term; with the climate sensitivity being almost certainly 0.27 to 2.16 degrees Celsius per W/M^2 increase in forcing, and likely (66.6% chance) 0.4 to 1.2 degrees Celsius per W/m^2. That is for the equilibrium response (ECS). The Transient Climate Response is less.
    4) The risk from increasing temperature increases at least linearly with increasing temperature, and likely more than linearly.
    5) The best strategy in response to risk is to either base it on the product of the probability of an outcome multiplied by the likely harm from that outcome; or to minimize the maximum potential harm. In either case, high future temperature rises (>2 C above current values) are to be avoided, particularly if they happen quickly.
    6) To avoid that, we need to aim for a likely maximum increase of 1.5 to 2 C above preindustrial values (0.7-1.2 C).
    7) The economic cost of mitigating global warming (ie, restricting its likely increase) is less than the economic cost of allowing the increase to occur without specific strategy to avoid it, and adapting to the consequences when considered in global terms.

    Technically Cook et al only tested the consensus that greater than 50% of “recent” warming was anthropogenic, where recent could mean since 1900, but is strictly interpreted as post 1950. In practice, because acceptance of IPCC positions were interpreted as acceptance of the consensus, and the IPCC position on post 1950 warming was not achieved till 2007, papers prior to that are assessed on agreement with the IPCCs most recent report or >50% warming since 1950 being anthropogenic. However, if you break down the papers by year of publication, those post 2008 (to allow the time delay for publication) still support the 97% consensus so Cook et al supports a 97% consensus with regard to point 2 above. Other studies have produces lower results, but on balance that consensus is very likely greater than 90%. The consensus on harm is a little less, but likely greater than 80%.

    It is a common attack on Cook et al that it only tested the consensus that there exists a greenhouse effect. Inconsistently, it has also been argued by a well known skeptic (and quoted by skeptics that purportedly take the first position) that the Cook study was flawed because it did not adopt the purported IPCC position that 100% of warming post 1950 was anthropogenic. That has not been the IPCC position ever. It can be inferred from IPCC data that the most likely value of anthropogenic warming is greater than 100%, but the IPCC captures the consensus and a substantial number of climate scientists think the anthropogenic warming is in the 50-100% range. That is why the IPCC uses likely ranges rather than singular values in reporting results.

  27. John Hartz says:

    L. Hamilton: What is the margin of error of your survey results? When were they taken?

  28. John Hartz says:

    JonA:

    The physics and chemistry of the Earth’s climate system doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about scientific consensus.

  29. angech says:

    “The physics and chemistry of the Earth’s climate system doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about scientific consensus.”
    Well said.
    “Personally, I’d rather be a consensus enforcer ”
    Only if you are in the consensus, surely?.
    For what it is worth there are a number of people who appear at different times on more skeptic blogs in support of consensus positions.
    When some controversy erupts, the number goes up and enforcers appear who often seem to sing from the same songbook longer and stronger than what would be expected from pure discussion.

    Re the consensus on AGW which is all over the shop
    “the basic consensus position is that anthropogenic influences have been the dominant factor in the second half of the 20th century, and probably caused most of the observed warming”
    Is starkly different to
    ” the best estimate is around 110%”
    Where it allows 10% natural cooling[This must mean also allows 10% natural warming].
    This however is the average estimate.
    If you took 160% of the observed warming, the other end of the spectrum from 50% AGW you end up with the potential observation that 70% of cooling [and hence 70% of warming in that scenario could be natural.

    What I am trying to say, poorly, is that Natural variation occurs, and that while one wants to have an agreement on AGW it is yet very poorly quantified and in the attempt to enforce consensus the natural variability is being chucked out with the bath water.
    I would have much more respect for the arguments if the role of natural variability was not totally excluded by the nature of seeking a consensus.

  30. Windchaser says:

    What I am trying to say, poorly, is that Natural variation occurs, and that while one wants to have an agreement on AGW it is yet very poorly quantified and in the attempt to enforce consensus the natural variability is being chucked out with the bath water.
    I would have much more respect for the arguments if the role of natural variability was not totally excluded by the nature of seeking a consensus.

    I’m not following you, Angech. You say that the estimate from scientists is that mankind is responsible for 60-160% of the warming, but then you also say that the scientists neglect natural variability.

    Aren’t these contradictory? What does that +/- 50% represent, if not their estimates of natural variability? (Plus, you can go look at the hundreds of papers written on the subject)

    The best estimate is around that humans caused 110% +/- 50% of the warming.

  31. John Hartz says:

    angech: You asserted:

    I would have much more respect for the arguments if the role of natural variability was not totally excluded by the nature of seeking a consensus.

    What is the source of your information on this issue. Citations and links please.

  32. angech,

    “the basic consensus position is that anthropogenic influences have been the dominant factor in the second half of the 20th century, and probably caused most of the observed warming”
    Is starkly different to
    ” the best estimate is around 110%”
    Where it allows 10% natural cooling[This must mean also allows 10% natural warming].

    How are they strarkly different? What do you think “most” means?

    I would have much more respect for the arguments if the role of natural variability was not totally excluded by the nature of seeking a consensus.

    It’s not excluded. I think you’re so desparate to find reasons to criticise, that you’ll interpret everything in a manner that allows you to do so.

  33. dikranmarsupial says:

    JonA wrote “It’s difficult to know which consensus you are referring to”

    well you could read the paper? ;o)

    “What is the consensus position?”

    I don’t think there is a single “consensus position” per se, but we can reasonably ask if there is a consensus on a particular question. If there is a consensus position, then the IPCC WG1 report (in its entirety) is a summary of that position.

    “It seems disingenuous to me to conflate the two.”

    Hanlon’s razor is a good guide in on-line discussions (and life in general), especially as the misunderstanding might be your own,

    “I’m genuinely confused on what the consensus is actually meant to be.”

    suggests that may indeed be the case and a hostile attitude is likely to result in a hostile response.

  34. JonA says:

    J Hartz:
    > The physics and chemistry of the Earth’s climate system doesn’t give a tinker’s
    > damn about scientific consensus.

    I couldn’t agree more which is why I find it … bizarre, I suppose, that ‘The Consensus’ is so
    often mentioned and that we have papers on the consensus on The Consensus.

    Dikran:
    > well you could read the paper? ;o)
    I’ve read both Cook papers and Tol’s response. I was responding to ATTP who decided
    , as he so often does, that I’d introduced the Cook consensus into the conversation. As
    he linked to that in his OP I was confused by that.

  35. Jon,

    The Consensus’ is so often mentioned and that we have papers on the consensus on The Consensus.

    This is mainly – IMO – because there are those who claim that there isn’t one or who, in this case, claim that there are people enforcing it.

    As he linked to that in his OP I was confused by that.

    As I’ve already said, I didn’t really. I linked to a meta study (with Cook as the lead author) that considered numerous consensus studies, not just the famous 97% one by Cook et al.

  36. JonA says:

    Dikran:
    > Hanlon’s razor is a good guide in on-line discussions (and life in general), especially
    > as the misunderstanding might be your own,

    This comment is a bit strange.

    I think it’s pretty clear I was talking about the Consensus found by Cook et al 2013 – and
    later followed up with ‘the all star team’s’ (Dana Nutticelli’s words) 2016 paper. I thought this
    was what ATTP was referring to as he linked to one of his own posts discussing Tol’s analysis
    of Cook’s work – presumably to highlight that even someone sceptical of that work concedes
    there is likely a 90+% consensus on the subject. He responded to my initial post with IPCC
    definitions of attribution.

    However, despite what Tom Curtis writes above, the 97% consensus found by Cook is often
    in the MSM and on blogs conflated with attribution of more than 50%. I prefer the ‘well know
    sceptics’ actual analysis of the paper than Tom Curtis’ arm waving.

  37. Jon,
    Okay, let’s go back a step. If you go through the literature or the IPCC reports, you will discover that there is a large amount of agreement that humans are causing global warming. The IPCC – based on other research – presented this as it is extremely likely that more than 50% of the warming since 1950 was anthropogenic. Additionally, they conclude that the best estimate for the anthropogenic contribution is similar to the observed warming (it could be slightly less, it could be slightly more). That is essentially the basic consensus position. Of course, as Dikran points out, there are other things about which there might also be a consensus, but the basic one is that we are causing global warming and that we are probably responsible for most of the observed warming (again, by “most” I mean maybe all of it, maybe a bit less than all of it, maybe a bit more than all of it).

    Consensus studies (and there are a number of them) attempt to quantify the level of consensus. As that meta study that I linked to indicates, the level of consensus is probably somewhere between 90% and 100%. This depends partly on what is surveyed (people versus papers) and the exact question being asked.

    You seem to be somewhat pedantically fixated on one study which you seem to have interpreted in a rather odd way (you still haven’t told me how you would interpret “causing”) while appearing to not want to discuss what the actual scientific consensus position probably is.

    I prefer the ‘well know sceptics’ actual analysis of the paper than Tom Curtis’ arm waving.

    I have yet to see one that doesn’t horribly misrepresent the paper, but if that’s what you want to base your views on, it’s your choice.

  38. Tom Curtis says:

    angech:

    “If you took 160% of the observed warming, the other end of the spectrum from 50% AGW you end up with the potential observation that 70% of cooling [and hence 70% of warming in that scenario could be natural.”

    That is so bizarre a misstatement of the case as to suggest angech does not understand English, or Mathematics (or either).

    To start with, the upper limit is not the case were we have 160% of the observed warming, but the case where AGW is responsible for 160% of the observed warming. It would follow from that case that natural effects (natural cooling plus internal variability) was responsible for -60% of the observed warming. That yields a potential range of -60 to 50% for natural forcings plus natural variability. It certainly does not allow 70% of the warming to be natural.

    Even that range is inaccurate because, firstly the figures used are round figures, and secondly, while it gives the appearance of being a 95% confidence interval, it is not.

    The actual 95% confidence interval of the IPCC attribution for anthropogenic forcings is 73% to 142%, with a median of 108% (rounded to the nearest percentage). Conversely, this gives a combined natural attribution of -42% to 27%, with a median of -8%. This according to Figure 10.5.

    The IPCC sets the lower limit at 50% in part to use round numbers, and because certain uncertainties are not accounted for in Figure 10.5. Notionally this means the attribution including those uncertainties will have a wider confidence interval than figure 10.5, but how much wider is not quantifiable except to say that the lower bound of the 90% confidence interval is greater than 50% anthropogenic causation. The 50% lower limit is, therefore, more a testament to the IPCC’s conservative nature than to any substantial evidence that natural factors could have contributed as much as 50% with any plausible probability.

  39. Also bear in mind that in IPCC-speak, extremely likely means 95%-100%, not simply 95%.

  40. I’ll highlight an old post of mine that tries to discuss some of this.

  41. Hello JonA,

    Speaking of armwaving, if you could acknowledge that you are indeed the one who picked C13, and that AT did not, contrary to what you say, that’d be nice.

    Also, CTRL-J. Use it, or use an editor that does.

    Thank you for your concerns.

  42. dikranmarsupial says:

    “This comment [Hanlon’s razor] is a bit strange.”

    It is ironic that you find my mention of Hanlon’s razor in response to your suggestion of disingenuousness, when your reply provides no evidence of disingenuousness.

    “However, despite what Tom Curtis writes above, the 97% consensus found by Cook is often
    in the MSM and on blogs conflated with attribution of more than 50%.”

    So who is being disingenuous there? Not Cook et al. the paper makes it completely clear the question on which consensus was evaluated. If the MSM and blogs conflate this with attribution of more than 50% (I think that is basically a fairly minor quibble anyway, but we can discuss that later), does that mean they are being disingenuous? No, it may be that they haven’t understood the paper, or they were referring to something else or …. As Hanlon’s razor suggests, don’t interpret a perceived inconsistency as disingenuousness if it can be adequately explained by confusion/misunderstanding. This is not rocket science.

    “I prefer the ‘well know sceptics’ actual analysis of the paper than Tom Curtis’ arm waving.”

    Dismissing someones comment as “armwaving” when it actually made a valid point (similar to the one I made) is unlikely to do much to make people want to see your point of view, as it shows you are happy to be dismissive of theirs.

  43. dikranmarsupial says:

    JonA “I’ve read both Cook papers and Tol’s response. I was responding to ATTP who decided, as he so often does, that I’d introduced the Cook consensus into the conversation. As
    he linked to that in his OP I was confused by that.”

    The one linked in the OP seems to be the “consensus on consensus paper”, rather than the original Cook et al. study, in which case your objection seems a bit odd as the consensus on consensus paper looks at many different surveys that all frame the question in slightly different ways. This is actually a good thing as it shows a string consensus is independent of the “structural uncertainty” in the question and the survey method. It seems to me that you did introduce the definition specific to the original Cook et al. study into the discussion, but perhaps I missed something.

    Can I ask a question to better understand your position. Do you agree that the consensus on whether climate change since (say) 1960 has been predominantly anthropogenic is in the high 90s%? Yes or No.

  44. dikranmarsupial says:

    JonA Also as you have read Prof. Tol’s paper, would you care to defend his use of the marginal probabilities rather than the correct conditional probabilities in his analysis? The use of marginals is obviously incorrect, for the reasons I explained on the earlier thread. Yes or No? If Yes, please go ahead.

  45. So how have things gone from there being no consensus to there being so much of a consensus that it is statistically unusual and, so, needing for an explanation like “consensus enforcers”? Moreover, if scientific opinion on fact and pace of climate change were a natural phenomenon, it would be an “emergent process”, in the sense of being a pattern emerging out of what would otherwise appear to be stochastic. That’s because this consensus is seen across vastly different empirical and theoretical fields, each using disjoint sets of reviewers, different criteria and standards for publication acceptance, and, from my parochial perspective, very different standards for adequate statistical evidence.

    Even within fields there is variability in standards. Population biologists and population ecologists are predominantly Bayesians, and they quite regularly use advanced methods for model selection and multimodel inference. There is some Bayesian work in geophysics, but standard _p-value_ inference is accepted in many outlets. Even “geophysics” is too broad, because there is disagreement about which is the larger contributor to climate change, the atmosphere or the oceans. Sure, the atmosphere is _right_ _there_, but there’s that astonishing heat capacity of the oceans. And each of these fields, from the perspective of modern statistical criticism, shows mixed performance: There are well-trained classical applications of statistics, including _p-values_, whose practitioners don’t get things wrong, just don’t get all the information from their experiments they ought, to practitioners who are what I would call “sloppy” in method and concept, to Bayesians, including “sloppy Bayesians”, to (noodly appendages help us) machine learning devotees and data miners.

    Nonetheless, climate change is seen and broadly accepted, even if regional rates and details are still very much under study. I was most impressed when a textbook like that by King, Morgan, Gimenez, and Brooks (_Bayesian_ _Analysis_ _for_ _Population_ _Ecology_), published in 2010, whose purpose is the teaching of methods, motivates _from_ _page_ _one_ the need to monitor populations because of climate and ecosystem change. No doubt that’s because some of the clearest signals of change come from biological observations, whether Carl Safina (http://carlsafina.org/book/the-view-from-lazy-point/) or the American pika (http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/19614/20160131/american-pika-climate-change-tight-knit-groups-key-species-survival.htm). Physics can see the interpretation of radiative forcing as the extension of its triumph explaining radiation in the late 19th century. Whether pikas or glacial ice loss, there are hugely visible changes out there which demand explanations, both qualitative ones, and quantitative ones, with error bars.

    Accordingly, science deniers need to posit “consensus enforcers” because their landscape needs to having “Maxwell’s demons” which explain the inexplicable.

  46. dikranmarsupial says:

    ” to (noodly appendages help us) machine learning devotees”

    now, now, we’ll have less of that if you don’t mind! ;o)

  47. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    ATTP::

    It’s easier for them to complain that others are enforcing the consensus and, hence, that they’re being excluded, than it is to consider that they just don’t really know how to construct a compelling argument.

    Many anti-scientific-consensus arguments are compelling to many people.
    Compelling is what the Donald is good at.

    Sound arguments aren’t always compelling, but when they are, they have true conclusions.

    JonA

    I couldn’t agree more which is why I find it … bizarre, I suppose, that ‘The Consensus’ is so
    often mentioned and that we have papers on the consensus on The Consensus.

    Why?
    Everyone knows that the scientific consensus on climate change is not the only consensus in town.
    Among some groups there is a strong political consensus that the scientific consensus is wrong.

    There are papers on that consensus too:
    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00139157.2016.1208995

    And that consensus also has ‘enforcers’…

    Professor Riley Dunlap of Oklahoma State University:

    I fear polarization will be difficult to overcome because Republican reluctance to accept the reality and seriousness of human-caused climate change is in a self-reinforcing loop.

    There are top-down cues from Republican political elites and their supporters from conservative think tanks to conservative media — especially the Murdoch media— that influence voters, as well as bottom-up pressure from party activists such as Tea Party supporters who act as ‘enforcers’ of party principles, especially in primary elections to select Republican candidates.

    The result is that global warming has joined God, guns, gays, and abortion as core elements of Republican identity, and this will be hard to change.

    http://www.desmogblog.com/2016/08/31/americans-now-more-politically-polarized-climate-change-ever-analysis-finds

  48. John Hartz says:

    JonA: According to your logic, the disappearing Arctic sea ice is a figment of our imagination because there is no scientific “consensus” about manmade climate change. Geat real dude!

  49. Steven Mosher says:

    “I couldn’t agree more which is why I find it … bizarre, I suppose, that ‘The Consensus’ is so
    often mentioned and that we have papers on the consensus on The Consensus.”

    pretty simple.

    AGW: the science says C02 is a GHG.
    Skeptic: But , this blog post says no.
    AGW. The science says it is.
    Skeptic: Wait, here is a scientist who says no.
    AGW: actually, that’s a geologist, he doesnt understand physics
    Skeptic: Prove C02 is a GHG.
    AGW: Here are some references, go read the science and find the error. Its widely accepted.
    Skeptic: But 30000 guys signed this and said no
    AGW: Look, we believe c02 is a GHG because of the science. You can go read that
    Or if you refuse to read the science.. we can just address your point that some
    scientists disagree.
    Skeptic: not just some, thousands. they are all silenced!!! like unicorns..
    AGW: ok, sheesh, this is really basic. No working scientists counts the number of people
    who agree or disagree. We read the science. And when we do that we see two things
    A) the science makes sense
    B) everyone agrees
    Skeptic: Everyone??? prove that
    AGW: Ok, here, number is like 97%, Now can we talk about the science?
    Skeptic: No, lets look at that 97% science isnt a vote!!!
    AGW: DING DING DING… that is WHY we have been telling you to read the science.
    Skeptic: But you did a poll. Science ISNT a vote, A science fiction writer said so!!..Therefore c02 is not a GHG! I majored in logic.

    Oy vey

  50. Willard says:

    > like unicorns

    Nothing beats a squirrel, not even a unicorn:

    Courtesy of John Maurice.

  51. Vinny Burgoo says:

    @Steven Mosher: Some – most? – of the consensus studies had big methodological flaws. Worse, the studies’ authors have stood by – at best – while politicians, activists and the meeja misrepresented their work. This poor practice says nothing about the existence of an actual consensus on climate change – which almost certainly exists among those who know enough to judge and is almost certainly that anthropogenic influences are predominantly to blame – but quite a lot about those who do consensus studies and those who push them as ‘what the science says’. Such studies (a) aren’t science and (b) are a bit shit and (c) aren’t science.

    Have a look at Tom Curtis’s brave defence of Cook et al above. To make it say what he’d like it to say he has to adopt a different methodology from what Cook et al said it used – if Cooke et al had done it better it would have got the desired result. So what? It didn’t do it better.. It was a mess.

    Not science but PR – and bad PR at that.

  52. Vinny,

    Some – most? – of the consensus studies had big methodological flaws.

    And yet the only published critiques are rubbish. Strange, that.

    Worse, the studies’ authors have stood by – at best – while politicians, activists and the meeja misrepresented their work.

    This criticism is getting a bit tedious. The media, politicians, and activists rarely get it completely right. Sometimes it’s worth correcting it, sometimes it isn’t bad enough to bother, and sometimes it isn’t worth the effort. Researchers aren’t really responsible for how what they publish is used, even if they should – at times – correct what is said.

    Not science but PR – and bad PR at that.

    Given how I fully expected you to comment on this thread and say what you’ve roughly said, you might want to consider that there is some irony to what you’ve said.

  53. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Does that mean that I have to go and stand in the corner again, sir, until I have worked out what you mean by ‘irony’?

  54. I was just suggesting that you continually repeating the same criticism could be seen as a marketing strategy too 😉 . I also think you should consider the significance of the term “causing” when there are only two possible factors that could cause something to happen.

  55. Windchaser says:

    Some – most? – of the consensus studies had big methodological flaws

    No. Most of the studies on the consensus are just polls of scientists. And anonymous ones at that, so there’s no worry about “being outed” as a denier, if that’s what the concern is. Overwhelmingly, these polls show high levels of agreement that mankind is causing significant amounts of warming.

    On the other side.. how many studies show that the consensus is low? Any? No. So the weight of the evidence is strongly towards there being a consensus, with very little evidence to the contrary.

  56. Vinny Burgoo says:

    I’m glad you have mentioned ‘causing’ again. In the context of Cook et al, it can only mean ‘causing some unquantified amount’ – else why was there a special level of endorsement that quantified the influence of anthropogenic GHGs as >50%? That level of endorsement had (being kind) only 64 qualifying abstracts. The other two ‘pro-consensus’ levels, which made up the vast majority of the famous 97%, were unquantified – ‘causing’ meant ‘causing’, not ‘causing most’.

    Happy to help.

  57. Vinny,

    I’m glad you have mentioned ‘causing’ again. In the context of Cook et al, it can only mean ‘causing some unquantified amount’

    No it doesn’t. If I have two possible factors (A and B) that could cause C, and I say “A is causing C” then it almost certainly means “A is causing more than B”.

    else why was there a special level of endorsement that quantified the influence of anthropogenic GHGs as >50%?

    Because only some abstracts explicitly quantified.

    Consider the following, rating 7 was “Explicitly states that humans are causing less than half of global warming”. By your logic, an abstract that implied less than 50% but more than 0% could be rating 3 (implicit endorsement) despite implying less anthropogenic influence than the strongest reject category. That doesn’t really make any sense. I suspect the authors didn’t appreciate that some would decide to interpret the rating categories independently of all the others.

  58. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ATTP: Wrong analogy. If you were right, what would be the purpose of the endorsement level explicity described as (paraphrasing) ‘endorsement sans quantification’? (The 3rd level’s definitions didn’t mention quantification but could only mean the same – no quantification.)

    And as for ‘That doesn’t really make any sense’ – agreed. The ratings system made very little sense (and probably wasn’t followed).

  59. Vinny,
    There was explicitly quantify, explicitly endorse, implicitly endorse. It’s not that complicated.

    The ratings system made very little sense (and probably wasn’t followed).

    Of course you think this. I’m guessing you don’t plan to do it again yourself?

  60. Windchaser says:

    Forget Cook et al. We’ve got what, 8 different polls of scientists themselves?

    You can go back-and-forth over Cook all day long and conveniently ignore all the other evidence that shows pretty similar results: a consensus somewhere around 90-95%.

  61. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Wrong! It was:

    1. Explicit Endorsement of AGW with quantification

    2. Explicit Endorsement of AGW *without quantification* [my emphasis]

    3. Implicit Endorsement of AGW

    Do try to keep up.

    (No, of course I’m not planning on re-doing the study. Why would anyone? It’s hokum.)

  62. Vinny,
    That’s essentially what I said. Try considering Hanlon’s razor.

    I’ll try to explain again. If the strongest reject category is “explicitly states that humans are causing less than half of global warming”, it doesn’t make sense to assume that categories 2 and 3 were intended to be “humans are causing some amount of global warming”.

    Also, if there are only two things that can cause global warming, then if I say that one of them is causing it, it’s hard to see how that could mean that it’s causing less than half. If so, I would probably have said that the other thing was causing it.

    I will, however, admit that I can’t really believe that we’re going over it again. There is a consensus. It is strong. Possible problems with consensus studies doesn’t change this.

  63. Steven Mosher says:

    “@Steven Mosher: Some – most? – of the consensus studies had big methodological flaws.

    And your point would be?

    We’ve known that C02 is a GHG for ages, and that adding more to the atmosphere will warm the planet

    Next, we know that science is not done by voting or counting abstracts

    So, you think that consensus papers are crap.

    Me too.

    Now, getting back to the science debate that skeptics lost.

  64. BBD says:

    IIRC patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, but concern-trolling the strength of the scientific consensus on AGW must surely rank as a contender.

  65. Vinny Burgoo says:

    As I’ve already said, the ratings system made no sense. This is particularly obvious when you look at its ‘denier’ end, as you have just done (again).

    I can only suggest that you ask your chums at SkS what it was all about and how they reconciled the various contradictions.

  66. Vinny,
    As far as I’m aware (and I have discussed it) it’s pretty much as I described. “Causing” was intended to mean dominant. If you consider all the categories together, there isn’t really a contradiction.

  67. Gentle reminder that cause is not a good, modern scientific concept. I’ve written about this before, primarily citing the work of John D Norton and of Bertrand Russell.

    Sorry, it’s the job of statisticians to be annoying about such definitions.

    Also, it’s possible Norton and Russell were slightly too harsh. It is true causality is a lot subtler than it seems, but there are altered definitions which survive a modern perspective, e.g., Sugihara, May, Ye, Hsieh, Deyle, Fogarty, and Munch, especially their Figure 4,

  68. Technically, consensus studies aren’t scientific 🙂

  69. BBD says:

    Vinny

    I can only suggest that you ask your chums at SkS what it was all about and how they reconciled the various contradictions.

    Given the actual state of scientific knowledge, why does this even matter? Some might think that you were turbating rather than seeking clarity.

  70. John Hartz says:

    Perhaps we should all key in “Yada. Yada Yada” whenever we feel compelled to key in a comment about consensus studies. Afterall, we pretty much know what the ATTP and his intrepid band of regulars will say on this matter.

  71. John Hartz says:

    Thank God. Pope Francis is once again providing leadership on the global scale

    ROME, Sept 1 (Reuters) – Pope Francis called on Thursday for concerted action against environmental degradation and climate change, renewing a fierce attack on consumerism and financial greed which, he said, were threatening the planet.

    A year after publishing the first papal document dedicated to the environment, the pope urged Christians to make the defence of nature a core part of their faith, adding it to the seven “works of mercy” they are meant to perform.

    “God gave us a bountiful garden, but we have turned it into a polluted wasteland of debris, desolation and filth,” Francis said in a document released to coincide with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

    Pope urges Christians to save planet from “debris, desolation and filth” by Crispian Balmer, Reuters, Sep 1, 2016

  72. Tom Curtis says:

    Vinny Burgoo:

    “As I’ve already said, the ratings system made no sense. This is particularly obvious when you look at its ‘denier’ end, as you have just done (again).”

    The ratings system can be understood in two ways. In one way, each level of endorsement endorses a different proposition, with the result that the ratings system is inconsistent. On the other interpretation, any endorsement of AGW is an endorsement of the same proposition, but with different levels of evidence of the endorsement (and likewise for disendorsement). On that interpretation the ratings system is fully consistent, and matches the ratings procedure inferable from the ratings actually made by the abstract raters. This second interpretation requires that the proposition endorsed match that supported by the strongest evidence (ie, >50% anthropogenic cause of recent warming).

    Given the two possible interpretations, to insist on the interpretation under which the ratings make no sense, and against the protestations of the authors of the paper shows without doubt that you are pushing an agenda, and not interested in actually understanding the paper. So fine, you want to label yourself as a flat earther when it comes to consensus studies. Ipso facto you show yourself to not be worthy of wasting time discussing consensus (or climate change) with.

    Matthew 7:6 provides excellent advise.

  73. Tom Curtis says:

    I will add to the above comment that Cook 2013 does have some genuine flaws. It is annoying that the “skeptics” focus so completely on fake flaws presented by complete misrepresentations of the study that they cannot actually discuss those genuine flaws. Those genuine flaws, however, do not undermine the fact that greater than 90% of climate science papers either show, or accept that AGW caused >50% of recent global warming.

    If it comes to acceptance that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that Steven Mosher so entertainingly defends above, the consensus of climate scientific papers and climate scientists is >99%.

  74. Tom Curtis says: “It is annoying that the “skeptics” focus so completely on fake flaws presented by complete misrepresentations of the study that they cannot actually discuss those genuine flaws. Those genuine flaws, however, do not undermine the fact that greater than 90% of climate science papers either show, or accept that AGW caused >50% of recent global warming.

    That is something you can write about any topic in the climate “debate”, not just consensus studies.

    Vinny Burgoo says: “(No, of course I’m not planning on re-doing the study. Why would anyone? It’s hokum.)

    You are not doing a consensus study for the same reason the auditor does not do a temperature reconstruction and why mitigation sceptics did not like BEST: you would not like the results and you know it.

  75. Windchasers says:

    You are not doing a consensus study for the same reason the auditor does not do a temperature reconstruction and why mitigation sceptics did not like BEST: you would not like the results and you know it.

    I always thought it was because “science is haaaaaaaaard….

    No, seriously, though, it really is a lot of work. And with all that work, there comes the possibility that you might just be wrong. That’s just too exhausting! So instead, you can just stick to the methods of argument that are easy. No work, and no chance of finding out that you were wrong.

  76. Steven Mosher says:

    “No, seriously, though, it really is a lot of work. And with all that work, there comes the possibility that you might just be wrong. That’s just too exhausting! So instead, you can just stick to the methods of argument that are easy. No work, and no chance of finding out that you were wrong.”

    finding out U were wrong, sucks at first.

  77. Windchasers says:

    finding out U were wrong, sucks at first.

    I think this is really what separates the scientific from the unscientific approach. The unscientific position likes to rationalize and analyze and ponder how the world might be. The scientific just goes out and checks.

    That’s the battle between the Rationalist vs Empiricist schools of philosophy. Aristotle and such were Rationalist; that’s why they had ideas of how the body and the universe worked that were so unrealistic. Those modes of thought died out eventually, and science took their place.

    “Skeptics” like to talk about how they think the world works, but they don’t bother to actually go check. That’s why they publish so few papers. Collecting data is a lot harder than auditing.

  78. Tom Curtis says:

    Windchaser, you are certainly being unfair to Aristotle, whose works in biology were empirical and groundbreaking. You are also being unfair to some (though not all) rationalists. The empiricist claim is that no knowledge can be gained by any method other than observation. I, at least, am a rationalist philosophically in part because I do not think sufficient observations have been made to establish that dogma empirically.

  79. dikranmarsupial says:

    Steve Mosher wrote “Next, we know that science is not done by voting or counting abstracts”

    Not that anybody claims it is, as far as I can see. The purpose of consensus studies is to provide a useful guide to society about where the bulk of mainstream scientific opinion lies, because that is useful information for those unable to understand the science themselves, but who are inevitably involved in deciding what to do about if (if only at the ballot box). This is especially the case when some claim that there is no consensus as a means to delay/avoid action on climate change that they don’t agree with, and have found it a useful tool to sway those already leaning in the direction of inaction.

    Of course if you accept Kuhn’s view of how science progresses, then you can’t really have an established paradigm without there being a consensus, so the existence of a dominant consensus is evidence of the solidity of the science that supports the current paradigm. The causal arrow goes from the solidity of the science to the existence of a consensus, but that doesn’t mean that the existence of a consensus says nothing about the solidity of the science.

    “Now, getting back to the science debate that skeptics lost.”

    ;o)

  80. dikranmarsupial says:

    Vinny, can I ask you a question in order understand your position. Do you agree that the consensus among climatologists on whether climate change since (say) 1960 has been predominantly (i.e. >50%) anthropogenic is in the high 90s%? Yes or No.

  81. angech says:

    “the basic consensus position is that anthropogenic influences have been the dominant factor in the second half of the 20th century, and probably caused most of the observed warming”
    Is starkly different to ” the best estimate is around 110%”
    Where it allows 10% natural cooling[This must mean also allows 10% natural warming].
    How are they starkly different? What do you think “most” means? ”
    In the context of
    “It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.
    This statement is basically saying that it is extremely likely (95% – 100% probability) that most of the warming since 1951 is anthropogenic””

    Most can mean as little as 51%.

    This is the trouble with a scientific statement that neglects to put a range of certainty in.
    Now in a democracy 51% can win you the whole seat but in an argument it just muddies the issue.
    So 51% is a starkly different figure to the 110% best estimate quoted above.

    You explain a different definition of most.
    “by “most” I mean maybe all of it, maybe a bit less than all of it, maybe a bit more than all of it).
    I have two possible factors (A and B) that could cause C, and I say “A is causing C” then it almost certainly means “A is causing more than B”

    Which is why you disagreed with my statement.
    We are simply talking about the possible different values of most.
    The IPCC statement
    “It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface warming”
    is referring to a 50% increase in warming with 95-100% certainty, not 100% warming with 95- 100% % certainty.

  82. angech,
    My point is that if we accept that not all the observed warming is anthropogenic, then that implies some could be natural. Of course that could be a cooling, or warming, influence. Hence, how can an acknowledgement that it is not all anthropogenic be ignoring natural influences?

  83. BBD says:

    Most can mean as little as 51%.

    But it doesn’t, and this is clear from AR5.

  84. Marco says:

    ““It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface warming”
    is referring to a 50% increase in warming with 95-100% certainty, not 100% warming with 95- 100% % certainty.”

    No, it is NOT referring to a 50% increase in warming with 95-100% certainty. It is referring to the warming being MORE than 50% with 95-100% certainty. That is, the changes that it is LESS than 50% are virtually nil.

  85. BBD says:

    angech

    There’s a very good RC article (already linked by ATTP upthread) which addresses your misapprehensions about all this.

    Here is a key figure. Please note the caption:

    The probability density function for the fraction of warming attributable to human activity (derived from Fig. 10.5 in IPCC AR5). The bulk of the probability is far to the right of the “50%” line, and the peak is around 110%.

    It would be helpful if you were to read this article carefully before further comment.

  86. angech:

    In addition to the graph of the probability density function given by BBD on September 2, 2016 at 11:38 am (which shows that the condition of only 51% of the warming being caused by humans is assigned a very, very low probability), see this graph:

    This graph is Figure 1.9 at

    http://ar5-syr.ipcc.ch/topic_observedchanges.php

    and a version of it is found at

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/08/ipcc-attribution-statements-redux-a-response-to-judith-curry/

    in an article by Gavin Schmidt, linked to above also by BBD.

    The various forcings are color coded.

    The green shows how much warming would have occurred if the only forcing was greenhouse gases emitted by humans. It shows that there would have been roughly 1/3 more warming than actually occurred – the warming actually observed, which is shown in black, had it not been for a strong cooling influence that presumably is in the form of aerosols from air pollution emitted by humans reflecting away some sunlight, which is shown in yellow. Note that the green minus the yellow gives close to the black. The natural forcings are purple, and they show an average of essentially no effect either way. The orange is the total effect from humans (which includes the green and the yellow taken together), and this is roughly 10% greeter than the black, which means probably some natural influences showing themselves as some cooling influence explaining that roughly 10% difference.

    All this taken together, while focusing on the orange and black, means that all (as in 100% of) the warming that occurred since 1950 was due to humans, but it would have been roughly 10% worse had it not been for some natural cooling influences (ergo that 110%), and focusing on the green, black, and yellow, it would have been roughly 1/3 worse had it not been for aerosols from air pollution emitted by humans exerting a cooling influence by reflecting away some heat from the sun. (This last point means that as we clean up our planet’s atmosphere from the air pollution we cause, we can expect an extra explosion over time of increased heat along with the explosion of heat we can already expect from continuing greenhouse gas emissions “as usual” as well as all that heat still “in the pipeline” from prior greenhouse gas emissions.)

  87. The distinctions necessary to make sense of statements like “predominantly by anthropogenic causes” is the reason why Norton’s view of causation as folk science (quoted elsewhere here by me) is valuable. Roughly speaking, for every unit of radiative forcing put in by excess greenhouse gases, there is another unit of forcing resulting from the additional carrying capacity of atmosphere for water vapor. Water vapor is itself a potent greenhouse gas, but, in a narrow sense, people did not put it there. That hair-splitting could (and undoubtedly is) exploited by deniers. Nevertheless, the additional forcing due to water vapor would not be there if the radiative forcing were not there, even if, to be completely accurate, the forcing is coming from the additional water vapor.

    Good scientific models and explanations need to be quantitative, and there’s nothing quite like differential equations to do the job. I daresay without being able to write such things down and have them explain aspects of the phenomena, the understanding is very much incomplete.

    And, no, I don’t know what to do with the fact that the general, unscientific public is horrified when such things are presented to them. With deep respect for Bill Nye, Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Alan Alda, there are some things which people just aren’t going to get if they don’t step up to the language Nature wants. The implications of that for policy-making are not clear, but they probably are not good.

    One of the things I find remarkable about Elon Musk, listening to interviews with him, is he may be a businessperson, but he understands the engineering tradeoffs of, for instance, his SpaceX rockets very deeply. It is unfortunate that our societies don’t have the same expectations for their political leaders who, after all, are managing systems which depend heavily upon technological and scientific forcings.

  88. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    … there are some things which people just aren’t going to get if they don’t step up to the language Nature wants.The implications of that for policy-making are not clear, but they probably are not good.

    Here’s one policy-maker who’s got the language of Nature all figured out…
    http://www.climate.conscious.com.au/

  89. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Tom Curtis: ‘Matthew 7:6 provides excellent advise.’

    See John 1:1.

    I’m criticising the Cook 2013 ratings system because of how the paper itself described the system and how the ratings guidelines issued to raters described it [Snip -W]. You and our host think that it should be obvious that a different, more coherent ratings system was used and that it’s somehow wrong to criticise what the study actually said it did because of this obviousness.

    Well, I agree that some raters – obviously including yourself, because you have said so – used a different ratings system from that which was provided to raters and was eventually published in Cook 2013 (and similarly described in Cook, Oreskes etc. Rice 2015), but this is science we’re talking about (or so we keep being told) and published results should come with an accurate description of how they were arrived at.

    This isn’t true of Cook 2013.

    That should be the end of it.

    That it’s not is somewhat astonishing.

    1 Corinthians 5:6.

  90. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Dikran Marsupial: ‘Do you agree that the consensus among climatologists on whether climate change since (say) 1960 has been predominantly (i.e. >50%) anthropogenic is in the high 90s%? Yes or No.’

    What, again?

    How many yes’s do you people need?

    If it were to be calibrated with the bizarrely broad definition of ‘climatologist’ used in consensus studies, my answer would be 110-500%. But let’s not go there.

    So: Yes, once more.

    My turn: Dikran Marsupial, are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?

  91. Willard says:

    > You and our host think that it should be obvious that a different, more coherent ratings system was used and that it’s somehow wrong to criticise what the study actually said it did because of this obviousness.

    That’s a straw man, Vinny. No, make that two.

    The C13 rating system looks coherent to me.

    It’s not suboptimal to criticize a study – it’s suboptimal to strawman it.

    We’ve been through this many times already. For instance, vintage September 2014. I’ve had many other ClimateBall exchanges on this, including with Richie.

    Beware your wishes.

    ***

    > That should be the end of it.

    Yet here you are, peddling C13 in a thread that is about something else.

    Audits never ends.

  92. And somehow in all those years since Cook et al. (2013) those overworked mitigation sceptics never found the time to do the study according to their sacred real scientific norms. Surely that is not because they know what the answer would be and they would not like that answer.

  93. Willard says:

    Well, there’s always BvS16.

  94. Tom Curtis says:

    Vinny Burgoo: “See John 1:1.”

    I know Cook (2013) is pretty good, but I would not go so far as to say it was with God, let alone that it was God. Still, freedom of religion is guaranteed in the US, so I will say nothing against your idiosyncratic worship.

    “I’m criticising the Cook 2013 ratings system because of how the paper itself described the system…”

    No you are not. You are insisting with no warrant from the paper that “Endorsement of AGW” means entirely different things in different levels. That could, in theory, be the case, but there is no evidence that it is so, and plenty of evidence that it is not (including direct statements from the primary authors). So, you are criticizing the paper based on a deliberate misinterpretation obstinately adhered to.

    I know this to be the case because it was not till a couple of weeks after Cook 2013 was released that a denier first came up with the misinterpretation. Until that point, deniers interpreted it naturally without qualm (except for Scaffeta’s bizarre misinterpretation, which is opposite in nature to yours). Since then deniers have stuck religiously to your misinterpretation which they did not even recognize as a possibility for two weeks after release.

  95. Casting pearls before swine brought GBShaw to mind;

    I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.

    So the fact that greenhouse gases trap heat and our planet is warming is almost as certain as the fact that we can walk upright because of gravity. We are interested in keeping our planet hospitable, but some people want to wallow in petty semantic distinctions.

  96. “Vinny Burgoo says: September 2, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    “Dikran Marsupial: ‘Do you agree that the consensus among climatologists on whether climate change since (say) 1960 has been predominantly (i.e. >50%) anthropogenic is in the high 90s%? Yes or No.’

    What, again?

    How many yes’s do you people need?

    If it were to be calibrated with the bizarrely broad definition of ‘climatologist’ used in consensus studies, my answer would be 110-500%. But let’s not go there.

    So: Yes, once more.

    O.K. so ignoring the rhetorical posturing. If you accept that the scientific consensus is in the high 90s%, why are you so critical of a study that using two different methods (abstract survey and survey of authors) finds that the consensus is in the high 90s%?

    “My turn: Dikran Marsupial, are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”

    No. (note this is how to answer as “yes or no” question).

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