2011-10-21 01:48:05Is there a case against human caused global warming in the peer-reviewed literature?
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
58.170.57.120

Here's Jim's blog post launching his resource of peer-reviewed papers by skeptics:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Powell-project.html

Feedback welcome. Can you anticipate how this might be attacked by the denialosphere? And importantly, can you think of other skeptics to add to the list? It needs to be ones that purport to have scientific cred.

2011-10-21 02:10:53
Dikran Marsupial
Gavin Cawley
gcc@cmp.uea.ac...
139.222.14.107

I suspect there will be an attack saying that it is a rogues galley with photos of shifty looking old men (mostly) suggesting that skeptics have all "gone emeritus".  I would suggest a horizontal bar plot labelled by name would be less likely to result in criticism

The article should encourage readers to suggest articles that they feel make a case against AGW, so that it isn't based on one person's view (or a small number of persons).

Perhaps invite the authors themselves (via email) to specify which of their papers specifically make a case against AGW (be very specific though in the wording of the question) and (with permission) publish their replies? 

We need to make sure that we are not subject to the same criticism that can be levelled at Poptech, whos list supports HIS skepticism of AGW, whether that skepticism is reasonable or not.  Asking the authors themselves would demonstrate that we are applying maximal self-skepticism to our own findings.

I don't think the likes of Morano should be on the list, I thought he is a PR guy not a scientist, so iot isn't unsurprising if he has no publications.  If he isn't a scienist it would invite the criticism that we were biasing the study.

2011-10-21 03:45:53
Jim Powell

jpowell@usc.edu
207.154.96.107

Dirkan,

What you write makes a lot of sense. Good suggestions and well said. With regard to Morano though, how does he differ from Monckton? Neither has scientific cred but that does not stop them from pontificating. There is a fine and subjective line here. I have not included George Will, for example. Maybe because he writes about all sorts of things and only now and again about human-caused global warming. I think it is better to leave someone in than take them out, if it is a close call.

Further thoughts from everyone, please.

Jim. 

2011-10-21 03:47:36
Jim Powell

jpowell@usc.edu
207.154.96.107

Dirkan,

I take it you meant not to have the photos. What do others think?

Jim. 

2011-10-21 03:48:39
Jim Powell

jpowell@usc.edu
207.154.96.107

Dikran,

I have a son named Dirk which makes it hard for me to type Dikran. Apologies.

Jim. 

2011-10-21 03:53:32
Dikran Marsupial
Gavin Cawley
gcc@cmp.uea.ac...
139.222.14.107

Jim, perhaps it would be good to have a divider separating the scientists from the non-scientists, just to point out that we know there is a distinction and are not hiding it?

I think avoiding the photographs is a good idea (in most cases their names are much more widely recognised than their faces)

Don't worry, it isn't my real name anyway ;o)

2011-10-21 04:09:24
Jim Powell

jpowell@usc.edu
207.154.96.107

Dikran,

Thinking more about the photos, don't they convey a useful and factual message? That the skeptics are mostly older men. 

Jim. 

2011-10-21 04:21:37
Dikran Marsupial
Gavin Cawley
gcc@cmp.uea.ac...
139.222.14.107

not sure that is a useful message, with age ought to come maturity and wisdom, of course it also sometimes leads to Dunning-Kruger and "going emeritus", but it the important fact to get accross is that there is a paucity of papers directly questioning AGW, even from skeptic scientists, it is a numbers game, the identities don't matter that much and risks "personalising" the debate.  There was criticism of the links to arguments used by skeptics when it was indexed by picture, so it is likely you'll get the same criticism, even if it is meaningless.

2011-10-21 04:42:38Pictures or no pictures?
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.231.149.12

As the pictures are shown on the individual pages anyway, it might be better to only show the names with the numbers on the overview/text page. The faces (mugshots?) may not be recognized by many SkS-readers - especially if they are new to the website and discussions. I would also make a distinction between scientist and non-scientist and split the two groups either horizontally or vertically.

2011-10-21 05:22:47
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
192.84.150.209

What deniers will say?
- Definitely they will attack us for the pictures, one thing that might be worth considering.
- They'll also say that the number of papers is irrelevant, Einstein published just a few on relativity; this isn't worth considering :)
- They will check each and every paper to find at least one which does not match the criteria used; we should double check the list.
- They will criticize the criteria themselves; you'd better clearly state beforehand that they're not fully objective, there's room for some subjective judgement.
- They will say that skeptics aren't allowed to publish by "The Team"; we may safely let them whine.


Links associated to the pictures led me to SkS main page.
If you decide to drop the pictures and use horizontal bars as Dikran suggests (and I agree), order them by decreasing number of papers, not alphabetically.
If you invite people to suggest other papers, specify to follow the same criteria, otherwis you'll end up full of Energy and Environment papers

2011-10-21 07:05:47
Jim Powell

jpowell@usc.edu
207.154.96.107

Dikran,

I'm not sure why we would have the divider. Anthony Watts is a non-scientist, yet he is co-author on one peer-reviewed paper. What purpose would be served by pointing out that he is not a scientist? Or Monckton or Lomborg? They try to give the impression of being authorities, yet the latter two have zero publications so by definition they are not authorities. I think it speaks for itself and I am still not sure why we would omit the photos. It is what it is. Why try to hide it? 

Jim. 

2011-10-21 09:23:24
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
2.33.129.134

Why not separate in two categorie, scientists and "others"?

2011-10-21 09:37:07comment
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
142.163.75.234

lets take muller off the list

2011-10-21 10:21:19
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.92.45.26

Looks good to me. A couple minor things:

- include a hyper-link to Oreskes study.

- clicking on photos takes you to the SkS home page.

As for including only scientists, there's a strong argument either way. I tend to favor including the non-scientists.

Thumbs up from me. 

2011-10-21 10:33:43
Jim Powell

jpowell@usc.edu
207.154.96.107

Robert,

Why delete Muller? He is a scientist-denier if anyone is. But he may be honest. See Climate Progress today.

2011-10-21 10:35:29
Jim Powell

jpowell@usc.edu
207.154.96.107

Riccardo,

Sorry to be resistant, but what is the case for separating them? And how do you decide. I don't see what we gain by separating them. 

2011-10-21 10:51:30Sometimes the fact that we'll be criticised is the reason why we should do it
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
130.102.158.12

Obviously the photos send a clear message - climate denial is the domain of largely old white haired old cranks. Skeptics will pick up on this message and resist it. The fact that we'll be criticised for this is IMHO the reason why we should do it. It sends a strong visual message. We can't always choose the path that will get the least amount of criticism from the denialosphere.

But happy to discuss this issue further, there may be strategic implications to consider.

2011-10-21 16:59:49
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
2.33.129.134

Jim

I won't make a strong case about it, feel free to leave it as it is. My idea was that it would underline how few the active scientists are with respect to the many other "opinionists".

John

I won't make a strong case about the pictures either, we already had them published. I see them as a distraction from the core message which should be the number of papers.

2011-10-21 23:20:41
Dikran Marsupial
Gavin Cawley
gcc@cmp.uea.ac...
139.222.14.107

Jim, the point of the divider is that the we don't expect the non-scientists to provide papers, so if they have a zero after their name it is what we expect, and impressive if it is greater than zero (the Surface Station project was at the very least an attempt at good science and we should recognise it as such).  For the scientists, we should be able to make a big point that if they do think AGW is a not a problem then we should be able to expect them to have published a paper or two showing that to be the case.

Might be worth including the number of citations of the papers using Google scholar or web of science, which will show that most of these papers were unconvincing and hence haven't been cited much.

John, I am not sure why it is relevant that climate denial is the domain of largely old white haired cranks, most academics are old white haired cranks (I still have red hair, but otherwise I'm getting there ;o); I'm sure there are plenty of old white-haired scientists on the mainstream, and you can't tell if they are a crank from the picture.  I can't see how the physical attributes are relevant.

2011-10-22 00:53:34
Jim Powell

jpowell@usc.edu
207.154.96.107

I want to add that later I am going to categorize these papers by argument in the sense that SkS uses argument. I may also pick a few to "case study" and follow all the papers that cited a given skeptic paper to see whether they are rebuttals or written by other skeptics. 

I am also going to write a piece on the "takeaway" from reading all these abstracts in one sitting--which only takes an hour or two. Here is a brief preview:

  1. Roughly half the skeptics have no scientific publications on global warming.
  2. None of the papers provides the “killer argument,” the one devastating fact that would falsify human-caused global warming.
  3. None of the papers explains the observed, concomitant rise in fossil fuel emissions, atmospheric CO2, and global temperatures.The skeptics have no theory to explain the observational facts of global warming. 
  4. Many papers, particularly the earlier ones, suggest improvements in IPCC procedures, in the way temperature data are collected, etc., implying that once those improvements have been made, the case for human-caused global warming might be weakened. Instead that case has been strengthened.
  5. To the best of my knowledge, none of the more prominent skeptics who wrote in the first half of the 1990s has since accepted human-caused global warming. 
  6. In 1990 paper, Lindzen argued that since the observed global temperature rise to that year had been less than predicted, the sensitivity of global temperature to CO2 must be less than expected.  Twenty-one years later, Lindzen and Choi conclude, “The results imply that the models are exaggerating climate sensitivity.” In that 21 year period, atmospheric CO2 concentration rose from 354 to 389 ppm and the global mean temperature anomaly rose from about +0.2 to about +0.6.
  7. Skeptics feel no compunction about making emphatic comments about subjects far afield from their expertise, in some cases, literally. Astronomers and astrophysicists write about polar bears; those with no expertise in computer modeling denounce  climate models, etc.  
2011-10-22 01:02:12
Jim Powell

jpowell@usc.edu
207.154.96.107

Dikran,

"we don't expect the non-scientists to provide papers..." But the public and media do not know who is a scientist and who is not. Many no doubt believe that TVMOB has scientific credentials. The way to tell whether someone has any scientific cred is whether they can get a peer-reviewed paper published, not what their degree is in. The emphasis in this study is not on the individual deniers but on the peer-reviewed papers published and whether collectively they make a case against human-caused global warming. 

People like to see a photograph. Not all are old. As you or someone said, with age can come wisdom, present company excepted. 

We have the number of citations from the WoS.

2011-10-22 08:21:39Why photos?
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
58.170.57.120
The reason why the photos is threefold. Firstly, people think in stories, not in numbers and statistics. Second, visuals have more impacts than text. Third, to debunk a myth, you need to replace it with an alternative narrative.

The myth here? That lots of scientists are skeptical about AGW therefore the science isn't settled. We say the science is settled. But that creates a gap in the reader's mind that needs explaining. If the science is settled, why are so many scientists skeptical? But we've all had experience with crazy, white haired uncles at family dinners who are contrarians, think they know better than the rest of the world and have loony ideas. They go on angry long rants because they're becoming increasingly marginalized and irrelevant. The photos subtly drive the narrative that by and large, contrarian scientists are those old, irrelevant, white haired crazy uncles.

2011-10-23 08:23:44
logicman

logicman_alf@yahoo.co...
86.183.239.208

John: speaking as a crazy old white-haired uncle I must protest.  I may be old, but I have it on the best authority1 that I am quite rational.

[1] - the two psychiatrists who signed the release papers.

;-)

 

But seriously, being old is no excuse for being unable to accept scientific facts.

2011-10-23 08:33:55
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.99.98

Planck: "Science advances one funeral at a time."

2011-10-23 22:22:15
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
58.170.57.120
Being old does not equate to being a denier or irrational.

On the other hand, there's a high correlation between denial and old, white conservative men. There's a deep truth in there that is a narrative the average layperson understands better than explanations of radiative forcing and statistical significance.

2011-10-24 04:17:13
Ari Jokimäki

arijmaki@yahoo...
91.154.110.228

I think that the analysis performed here doesn't answer the question presented in the title. There are plenty of papers that go against AGW but have been published by some other people than the ones listed. Historical example is Ångström. Another example is a paper from 1960's (if I remember correctly) which suggested that CO2 also absorbs incoming radiation by about same amount as it does for outgoing. There are plenty of other examples in our peer-reviewed paper database. I would suggest that you re-think how to present this. This analysis just says that certain subset of scientists have published certain amount of papers that go against AGW. It doesn't say anything about if there's a case against AGW in peer-reviewed literature. There used to be such a case (back then it was mainstream view actually) in early 1900's and none of the listed people were publishing back then.

2011-10-24 04:43:59
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.101.55

But Ari, the question is "is there", not "was there" or "has there ever been".  I think this answers the "is there" question.

2011-10-24 13:24:51
Sarah
Sarah Green
sarah@inlandsea...
67.142.177.20
My 2 cents.

The meme you're trying to address is "there are 100s of scientists who disagree with the theory of AGW". Showing the photos as a group helps reenforce that it really a small bunch, cranky or not, next to a lot of 0s. So, yes to photos. But names, too please; I can't identify them by face.

Minor point: I wouldn't identify them as having been chosen because they're in the SKS database, that sounds like it could be somehow preselected. Can you just say the most prominent deniers, and include thelink to the database?

Scientist vs non could be resolved by adding qualifications on each persons page, e.g. PhD, 1925, petroleum geology, or BS in BS, 1973. I don't think they should be divided otherwise.

I agree with Dirkan's early point that other suggestions should be solicited for inclusion. And with Dana that it doesn't need to include ancient history. Try this edit to the first line:

Climate skeptics give the impression that recent peer-reviewed literature of science makes a substantial case against human caused global warming. But is it true?

2011-10-24 15:52:06
Ari Jokimäki

arijmaki@yahoo...
91.154.110.228

Dana, my point was that this analysis answers to the question "is there a case against AGW in denier scientist papers". I just gave a historical examples that there are papers that go against AGW published outside of the listed set of scientists. After this analysis, you still don't know if there is a case against AGW in the literature of not. Here just one stone is turned to find out. I think better question to present for this analysis would be "Have climate skeptics presented their case in peer-reviewed literature?"

By the way, seeing the question of the title and seeing dozens of papers listed makes me think that the answer clearly is: yes, there seems to be a case against AGW in the peer-reviewed literature.

2011-10-25 01:06:50
Jim Powell

jpowell@usc.edu
206.205.21.219

Somewhere I pointed out that I only included papers published since 1985.  What Sarah said. Would anyone think that what Angstrom wrote over a century ago is relevant to today's denial? 

Ari: add "the recent" between "in" and "peer-reviewed."

Ari: what happens when you read my "takeaways" above or actually read the papers themselves? Do you still think there is a case? 

We are adding skeptics and will solicit more when we publish. Suggest names please.  

2011-10-25 03:22:05
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

Should it be noted somewhere that some of the papers are duplicates in that many of the papers have several of these people listed as authors?  

I also think you might consider adding Craig Loehle.

2011-10-25 17:29:35
Ari Jokimäki

arijmaki@yahoo...
91.154.110.228

"Somewhere I pointed out that I only included papers published since 1985. What Sarah said. Would anyone think that what Angstrom wrote over a century ago is relevant to today's denial?"

Why not? Ångström's study might have been shown to be wrong quite thoroughly later, but that doesn't mean that all the other old papers have been shown wrong. In principle there is nothing preventing very old papers to be relevant even today, so limiting the scope to only recent papers actually further restricts the applicability of this analysis. Especially as the limit of only 25 years is rather short in science. We have known about the cloud uncertainty problem longer than that and it is still among us.

"Ari: what happens when you read my "takeaways" above or actually read the papers themselves? Do you still think there is a case?"

You misunderstood my point. I'm already quite familiar of the papers of these people. Average person looking at your post might just look at the picture with the numbers on it and conclude that there seems to be a case as there are so many papers (as even one good paper is enough to show a hypothesis or theory wrong). I think that most people reading the blog post will not look at the papers at all. Basically this gives a message that "there are these skeptic scientists and look how many papers they have published". I wonder if peole are able to tell whether the number of papers is big or small.

"We are adding skeptics and will solicit more when we publish. Suggest names please."

This doesn't help much. The case is not necessarily presented among the papers of known 'skeptic' scientists. In fact, considering how bad science these people are doing, I think it's more probable to find more genuine case against AGW from the papers of the scientists which are not generally known as skeptics.

Edited to add: I'll just clarify that I'm not against this resource, I just don't think it answers to the question presented.

You don't seem to have Henrik Svensmark in there. By the way, just like others here have suggested, I think that this is difficult to use with faces only, if you are not familiar with the faces. It would be good to show the names also.

2011-10-25 17:32:48
Ari Jokimäki

arijmaki@yahoo...
91.154.110.228

I just noted that the actual resource already has the names, but not the blog post, that's good improvement.

2011-10-25 18:06:38
Ari Jokimäki

arijmaki@yahoo...
91.154.110.228

I don't think the paper where Anthony Watts is co-author is against AGW in any way.

Steve McIntyre co-authored paper from 2010 ("Panel and multivariate methods for tests of trend equivalence in climate data series") seems to be more pro-AGW than against it.

Steve McIntyre co-authored paper from 2009 is not actually a paper but just a comment (the procedure description states tha these should not be included).

Also the Steve McIntyre paper from 2005 ("Hockey sticks, principal components, and spurious significance") seems to be just a method critique. Based on just the abstract, I can't be sure if the actual article says something that is against AGW but the abstract doesn't.

William Gray paper addresses trends in tropical cyclone counts and doesn't seem to be relevant for AGW itself.

Tim Ball polar bear paper seems to be irrelevant for AGW (even if it suggests that locally the AGW effect is difficult to identify from temperature trends).

Tim Ball 2009 paper is from Energy & Environment. I hope E&E is not included to the Web Of Science.

In addition to these, I looked at De Freitas paper which seems to be only one so far that I would include as against AGW.

2011-10-25 18:19:56Putting things into perspective
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
109.43.76.139
If there's a risk that people think that eg. 10 or 13 papers are a lot, then could this perhaps be put into perspective by a corresponding page listing people like Hansen, Santer, Trenbeth....? Also, a link to the interactive map of climate-papers could perhaps be added somewhere.
2011-10-26 01:37:54It is important to bear in mind that most readers of SkS have little or no academic experience ...
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
101.118.33.111

That means they will have no perspective on the publish or perish nature of academia, and the consequent very high productivity in terms of papers.  Such a person looking at Willie Soon, for example, will see somebody they will consider to have an extensive publication record which we admit argues against AGW.  Given this, it will be easy to send the wrong message with this project.

 

To avoid sending the wrong message, I think the introduction should highlight more directly large proportion of papers supporting AGW compared to those that don't.  Naomi Oreskes' result should be explicitly mentioned, with a link to an SkS article discussing the paper (possibly the one below).  A direct link and comment on the proportion of favourable and unfavourable papers from the interactive history would also be in order.

Further, an indication of the number of papers published by particular climate scientists (such as Schneider, or Archer) would also help give some perspective on what is really a very low publication rate by the various "skeptical" scientists.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php?a=24

2011-10-29 00:58:12
Jim Powell

jpowell@usc.edu
207.154.96.107

We are getting ready to go live with this project soon. Thanks to everyone for their comments. I have tightened the criteria as several have suggested, added the link to Oreskes (2004), etc. We now have 54 skeptics and can add more quickly, especially since any added at this stage are unlikely to have many, if any, peer-reviewed papers. 

Several have suggested adding comparable information for climate scientists and I had thought of that. But when you try to do it, it becomes complicated and in my opinion, unworkable. First of all, what is comparable? In this project I am not counting all of Lindzen's many papers--and it will be a rare scientist who has a higher total--but only those that deny or cast substantial doubt on human-caused global warming (=9). What is the parallel for a climate scientist? To count all their papers, or only those that bear directly on global warming? Second, how many scientific papers is enough? If a skeptic has 9 and a climate scientist 35, is that enough? What if say 8 of the latter papers are not on the subject of global warming but on some other aspect of climate science? What about the quality of the journals? Should we try to factor those in? What about cites and who cited, etc. Its complicated and in my opinion would distract more than it added and raise several new questions. 

There will be several phases in this project: The first asks "how many papers denying or casting substantial doubt on human-caused global warming have the well-identified skeptics been able to publish?" The undeniable fact is, several have published as many as 9 that meet that definition. The first phase of the project--the first live post--will report that. The second phase will be to summarize the "takeaways" from reading those abstracts at one sitting, which does not take long. I preview my takeaways in a post above, on 22 Oct. A third phase will be to take a few of the longest-publishing skeptics, Baliunas, Lindzen, and Michaels, say, and follow their arguments through time--a timeline of denial if you will. A fourth could be to select a few skeptic papers and see who cited each and in which journals.

2011-10-31 00:18:02
Jim Powell

jpowell@usc.edu
207.154.96.107

I have revised the introduction to the database of peer-reviewed papers at 

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Powell-project.html

Please review the database itself at 

http://www.skepticalscience.com/peerreviewedskeptics.php

You will see that after declining to remove the photos, we have now removed them after all. The reason is that we now have about 110 skeptics and the point of it all, the number of papers, began to get lost in a sea of images. 

Please let me have any last comments or corrections or additions. 

Thanks for all your help with this project. 

Jim