New Consensus Study Proves Its Authors Are Liars

This post isn't going to be exhaustive, and I will likely have much more to say within the next few days, but I wanted to get this out right away. As you probably know, last month I found a CONFIDENTIAL draft version of a new paper by:

John Cook1,2,3, Naomi Oreskes4, Peter T. Doran5, William R. L. Anderegg6,7, Bart Verheggen8, Ed W. Maibach9, J. Stuart Carlton10, Stephan Lewandowsky11,2, Andrew G. Skuce13, Sarah A. Green12, Dana Nuccitelli3, Peter Jacobs9, Mark Richardson14, Bärbel Winkler3, Rob Painting3, Ken Rice15

This is just about everybody publishing on the consensus messaging approach to the global warming debate, where they repeatedly say there is a consensus and expect that to convince people we need to take action on global warming. There is one exception, an exception which is quite notable now that the final version of the paper has been published. That exception is a man named James Powell. Powell claims to have shown there is a 99.9% consensus on global warming, yet he is not a co-author of this paper, and his result doesn't show up anywhere in the study. The complete lack of mention of his results is rather notable since the draft version talked about them quite a bit. In fact, Powell's work is featured heavily in the abstract of the draft version:

This 97% result has been criticised for being both too high (Tol 2015) and too low (Powell 2015). In some cases, Tol assumes that when the cause of global warming is not explicitly stated ("no position"), this represents non-endorsement, while Powell assumes the opposite. Neither assumption is robust: as argued by Powell, Tol’s approach would reject the consensus on well-established theories such as plate tectonics. On the other hand, Cook et al surveyed authors of the studies considered and some full papers rejected the consensus even when their abstracts were classified as "no position", contradicting Powell's assumption.

In fact, Powell's name comes up 43 times in the draft version, yet it only shows up twice in the final version. One might think the authors simply changed the focus of their paper, yet they explicitly state this in their new abstract:

We examine the available studies and conclude that the finding of 97% consensus in published climate research is robust and consistent with other surveys of climate scientists and peer-reviewed studies.

The authors must know this statement is incredibly deceptive. The devoted a great deal of time and effort to discussing the study by Powell, yet after completely excising such discussions from the published version of this paper, they still claim to "examine the available studies." There is no doubt the authors are aware of the Powell study. There is no doubt the Powell study is available. As such, there is no excuse for the authors to ignore it and simultaneously claim to "examine the available studies." They must know that statement is a lie.

Don't believe it is a lie? Rather than quote all the text showing the authors were aware of Powell's study when they wrote the draft version, we can see more direct proof. This is from the draft version's table listing the studies they examined and the results those studies had:

4_12_draft_table

Powell's study with its 99.9% result is right there, plain as day. This is from the same table in the final version:

4_12_final_table

The draft version's table gives results for studies by Stenhouse et al, Verheggen et al, Pew Research Center, Powell, Carlton et al. The final version gives results for studies by Stenhouse et al, Verheggen et al, Pew Research Center, Powell, Carlton et al. Powell (2015) has simply been disappeared.

But it gets worse. The authors of this paper haven't just excluded Powell 2015's results from all their analysis and excised the significant amount of discussion of those results that was present in their draft version. They've done that while still citing the paper to support their criticisms of a paper by one Richard Tol (which to be fair was terrible):

Powell (2015) shows that applying Tol’s method to the established paradigm of
plate tectonics would lead Tol to reject the scientific consensus in that field because nearly all current papers would be classified as taking ‘no position’.

So while claiming to examine the available studies, the authors intentionally exclude results from one study they knew is available then turn around and cite that study to support their views on a different matter. It's obscene.

I can't think of any word to describe this other than "lying." The authors apparently feel free to claim to "examine the available studies" while simply ignoring some studies. Not only is that wrong and dishonest, it raises the important question: What other results have they ignored? If the authors are willing to lie about the existence of one study, who knows what other studies they might have pretended don't exist?

Or for that matter, who knows what else they might have lied about? How can anyone know they accurately described the studies they did include? We can't. In fact, we have strong reason to believe we shouldn't trust their descriptions of studies. The central study for this paper, created by John Cook and many other co-authors, described its methodology saying:

Each abstract was categorized by two independent, anonymized raters.

One of the authors of that study, Sarah Green, is also a co-author of this paper. She said this when carrying out the study:

But, this is clearly not an independent poll, nor really a statistical exercise. We are just assisting
in the effort to apply defined criteria to the abstracts with the goal of classifying them as objectively as possible. Disagreements arise because neither the criteria nor the abstracts can be 100% precise. We have already gone down the path of trying to reach a consensus through the discussions of particular cases. From the start we would never be able to claim that ratings were done by independent, unbiased, or random people anyhow.

Despite saying she and her colleagues could never describe the ratings as having been "done by independent" raters, she co-authored a paper which explicitly stated the ratings were done by "two indepenent, anonymized raters." No explanation was ever given for that contradiction, but in the Supplementary Material the new paper, the authors say:

Tol (2015) questions what procedures were adopted to prevent communication between raters. Although collusion was technically possible, it was - in practice - virtually impossible. The rating procedure was designed so that each rater was assigned 5 abstracts selected at random from a set of more than 12,000. Consequently, the probability two raters being assigned the same abstract at the same time was infinitesimal making collusion practically impossible.

When I discovered the draft version of this paper, I summarized why this is not a fair or reasonable description. We can see the number of raters responsible for most the work in the study was small with this image John Cook created and published for everyone in his forum to see:

So I said:

There were a total of 24 raters, but given how few people were responsible for the majority of the ratings, collusion would have been perfectly possible. It would have been easy for people to talk to one another about how to game the system. This new paper tries to play that off by saying people wouldn't have been able to collude on individual papers, but nobody said that's what happened.
Whether or not people collude on how to rate specific papers doesn't determine whether or not they colluded in general. It would have been easy for raters to talk to one another and say things like, "Hey, whenever you and I do a rating, let's always add +1 to our score." If they did, their ratings wouldn't be independent of one another even though they never discussed a specific paper.
The authors made no effort to prevent such a thing from being possible for their project. They made no effort to monitor for such happening. The raters all had each others' e-mail addresses meaning they could easily contact one another directly and privately, but the authors want everyone to just assume that wasn't an issue. All while offering false excuses of how any communication between raters was merely to seek clarifications/amendments to the rating process.
The reality is the raters themselves recognized the problems created by talking to one another about how to rate specific items, with one rater saying:

Giving the objective to being as close to double blind in methodology as possible, isn’t in inappropriate to discuss papers on the forum until all the ratings are complete?

John Cook, the head of this project, was well aware of this issue. He ran the forum where people talked to one another about how to rate individual papers. He ran the forum where people acknowledged they had cheated the study's methodology by looking up extra information about the papers they were rating. Rather than speak out against any of it, he actively participated in those forums and consequently encouraged this sort of behavior.

That last part was a reference to how the authors of the Cook et al (2013) study claimed their ratings were based solely on the title and abstracts of papers even though they had discussed in their forums how they looked up the author names and full text of papers they were rating. This new paper now admits they did this, meaning they lied when they claimed to have only used titles and abstracts for their ratings:

During the rating process of C13, raters were presented only with the paper title and abstract to base their rating on. Tol (2015) queries what steps were taken to prevent raters from gathering additional information. While there was no practical way of preventing such an outcome, raters conducted further investigation by perusing the full paper on only a few occasions, usually to clarify ambiguous abstract language

So first the authors lied and claimed they had only used the abstracts and titles of papers for their ratings. Then, after enough people have pointed out the authors had discussed how they looked up author names and full texts of papers in the forum John Cook (the head of the project) ran, they admit they cheated and used titles and abstracts but claim they only did so a few tiems.

There's bound to be a ton more to say about this paper, but for now, I'm signing off to await the media flurry I expect will come and manage to completely ignore how the authors of the paper blatantly lied.

60 comments

  1. Oh, and since it appears John Cook contacted the Internet Archive to get the archived copies of the material I found removed, here's a link to the CONFIDENTIAL draft version. I wouldn't have uploaded a copy of it save Cook had the archived copy removed, and the draft version is highly relevant to how one interprets the final version.

  2. Cedric Katesby, as a rule of this site, links posted without any commentary or input from the user posting them are considered spam. Please write whatever your point is supposed to be rather than expect people to do your job for you.

    Also, NASA doesn't do any original research on the topic of a consensus on global warming, so I still have no idea why you would bring it up. I suppose NASA might cite the research which gets criticized, but that would hardly mean it deserves whatever credibility NASA might have.

  3. The report on this paper at Science Daily
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160412211610.htm

    states: “The more expertise in climate science the scientists have, the more they agree on human-caused climate change,” quotes author Sarah Green as saying: “respondents to some surveys lack scientific expertise in climate science,” and concludes: “..among climate scientists, there's little doubt. There is consensus on consensus.”

    This is funny because almost all the authors lack expertise in climate science. The lead author is a PhD student, Green is a chemistry professor, Oreskes is a historian, Lewandowsky a psychologist and Rob Painting “an environmentalist, scuba diver, spearfisherman, kayaker and former police officer.”

  4. ....links posted without any commentary or input...

    I said "On the other hand, there's NASA."
    That's commentary. Didn't think I needed to give any link since you must have already known about the NASA site, right?

    Also, NASA doesn't do any original research...

    So what? That doesn't disqualify them from putting up research already done on their own website.

    "...but that would hardly mean it deserves whatever credibility NASA might have."

    Well, you understand that NASA is rather good with numbers and statistic and whatnot.
    So, there's your opinion. But on the other hand, there's NASA's.
    You can't both be right.

  5. This is funny because almost all the authors lack expertise in climate science.

    Well, it's not really funny. You don't have to be a climate scientist to do a scientific survey.
    Climate scientists do climate science.
    (The job description is in the name.)
    So, if someone wanted to do a scientific survey of any scientific consensus, they'd just have to know how to conduct a survey.
    Not that hard really.

  6. Cedric Katesby, I'm just going to say your posting style is completely unhelpful and unlikely to convince anyone to agree with you or even pay attention to you. If you think you're making points in a reasonable or even coherent manner, you are mistaken.

    That said, on an administrative note I must point out you are wrong when you claim:

    ....links posted without any commentary or input...

    I said "On the other hand, there's NASA."
    That's commentary. Didn't think I needed to give any link since you must have already known about the NASA site, right?

    The text you quote from yourself was given in this comment. The link in question was provided in this comment. The two are not the same. Providing a link without any commentary or input after having written a previous comment where you provided (some miniscule amount of) commentary does not constitute providing commentary with the link.

    So please, next time you decide to post a link, include text explaining why you are providing it and what you think it shows/adds to the discussion.

  7. I'm just going to say your posting style is completely unhelpful and unlikely to convince anyone to agree with you...

    Not me. NASA.

    Providing a link without any commentary or input after having written a previous comment where you provided (some miniscule amount of) commentary does not constitute providing commentary with the link.

    Well, they are separate post. However, it's plain to see that one follows from the other.
    My intial post was about NASA.
    You did not seem to understand what I was talking about.
    So...then I provided the link....to NASA.
    The link was superfluous, surely?
    I mean, you already knew about NASA's position on the scientific consensus on climate change.
    Right?

  8. You know, I'm kind of starting to consider adopting the comments policy from over at The Blackboard of no rhetorical questions (unless you provide an answer with them). It's silly how trollish people can be with them. I'd just hate the idea since rhetorical questions are great tools when used properly.

  9. Actually, you haven't done anything of the sort. Your vague, hand-wavey comments haven't done a thing to show NASA contradicts a single word I've written. Perhaps you could if you bothered to write out your points. I don't know. What I do know is your comments have been a complete waste of everybody's time thus far.

  10. Actually, I have.
    NASA's position on the scientific consensus is very clear. It's in simple English. Very specific. I even gave you the link.
    You don't accept the scientific consensus on climate change, right?

  11. Cedrick is a complete troll who isn't worth engaging with (and I converse with ATTP and Raff). His main argument is an appeal to authority (NASA). He isn't interested in anything you write.

    His second argument is about conspiracy and how whatever you write is like anti vaccination. He will take any sentence you write and substitute vaccination references for key words.

    His third technique is to throw those laws of debate at you – like arguing from authority (which should demonstrate how bonkers he is because he argues from authority all the time)

    Best option is to go straight for a banning and I don’t advise that lightly

  12. I find the desire to prove a consensus is curious feature in itself. It's an admission that the science doesn't stand up on its own. It tries to confuse people into thinking that CAGW is just one question with a right or wrong answer. At its simplest, most sceptics would be counted as agreeing and at its worst, many scientists have doubts. That Cook et Al make such a mess of what should be easy is very funny. Nice work Brandon.

  13. For what it's worth, I have no intention of banning anyone. I may find Cedric Katesby's comments may be moronic and useless, but as long as he can follow a few basic rules about how not to write, he can post here. I'd just encourage anyone who finds his comments as pointless as I do to not respond. And hey, maybe someone will find a way to have a useful (to them) exchange with him. To each their own.

  14. "I find the desire to prove a consensus on the safety of vaccines is a curious feature in itself. It's an admission that the science doesn't stand up on its own. It tries to confuse people into thinking that vaccine safety is just one question with a right or wrong answer. At its simplest, most sceptics would be counted as agreeing and at its worst, many doctors have doubts."

  15. "His third technique is to throw those laws of debate at you – like arguing from authority (which should demonstrate how bonkers he is because he argues from authority all the time)."

    You are badly confused. NASA is an authority on climate change. They are supposed to be. It's their job.
    They are also an authority on the moon landings.
    It's like the CDC. They really are an authority on vaccines.
    Learn.

    Scientific consensus and arguments from authority
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTJQPyTVtNA

  16. What actually *is* the consensus position? The Cook 2013 study's results indicate that
    97% of the reviewed abstracts *that had an explicit/implicit position* endorsed AGW
    to some extent. I think 97% of sceptics would endorse AGW to some extent. Let's
    leave aside the abstracts themselves and how relevant they are to the key issue
    of CO2 emissions.

    So, what? How does this study showing that 33% of a sample of abstracts endorsing
    AGW (only ~0.5% endorsing the IPCC position of almost all warming being due to
    GHG emissions) get conflated with: "97% of scientists agree. #climate change is
    real, man made and dangerous.".

    The "97%" thing is now so abused that people - unless they are already convinced -
    just don't listen to this anymore. This new paper is risible in its effort to change
    that. High fives all round for the "All star team" (Dana's words, not mine). I'll continue
    to not give a FF about this consensus rubbish and look at the evidence myself.

  17. Cedric,

    Where does your '97%' figure come from? In my previous post I've
    attempted to define where I think the 97% comes from.

    What is the so-called consensus that the 97% are supposed to agree on?
    It's really not clear to me at all.

    These aren't rhetorical questions.

    The important question isn't whether man's GHG emissions have increased
    temperatures and thus affected climate. The important question is whether
    the effect is sufficiently large to justify the economic impact of trying to do
    something about it. Indeed, it's not even clear that the greening effects of
    increased atmospheric CO2 are even a net negative. What does the 97%
    consensus say about that?

    Finally, if the ECS and TCR calculations from the IPCC are correct then it
    would suggest that we'll now struggle to have any impact on this at all
    by reducing CO2 emissions.

  18. From your NASA link:

    "Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or
    more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the
    past century are extremely likely due to human activities"

    The references for that statement are none other that Cook (2016), Cook (2013),
    Anderegg (2010), Doran (2009), Oreskes (2004) - the very items under discussion
    here. You should probably look into's Cook's 97% figure - I'm not sure it means
    what you think it means.

  19. Where does your '97%' figure come from?

    It's not "my" figure. Please check the NASA website.

    You should probably look into's Cook's 97% figure - I'm not sure it means
    what you think it means.

    Well, NASA's looked into it. That's how it got on the NASA website. Been there for years now.
    It's not really anything to do with me.
    I'm just going with NASA. They seem pretty sure what it means.

    It's really not clear to me at all.

    Really? Well, NASA has made some effort to explain it. Seems clear enough.

  20. Cedric Katesby -
    I think it's instructive that you accredit the expertise of NASA's scientists to a non-science article on NASA's website.

  21. > It's not "my" figure. Please check the NASA website.

    It's not NASA's figure either. Look at the references.

  22. It was NASA that put up those references on their own website. They don't seem to have a problem with them at all.
    They have been there for years now.
    I get it that you feel that you have found something that doesn't make sense to you.

    NASA, on the other hand, does not.
    There's a very real possibility that you are simply wrong.

  23. What claims have I made that are "wrong"?

    I've just pointed out what's *actually* in the references that are cited on your
    beloved NASA page. As already stated, 67% of the reviewed abstracts for
    Cook 2013 expressed no position at all on AGW and thus were excluded
    from from the final statistics. I've actually no problem with that, it's
    better than some studies which assumed that no position ==
    consensus position (whatever that is).

    However, I think it's important data that's always excluded when this message
    is delivered. 97% of scientists agree that mankind is responsible for GW (as
    stated by Dana in a recent Guardian article; note, responsible in this context
    is unequivocal) is a bit different than: 97% of peer reviewed scientific literature
    which expresses a position on AGW, endorse AGW to some degree. 1.6% of
    those explicitly endorse the IPCC position that man is responsible for more
    than half of the observed warming since 1980. Doesn't quite carry the same
    message does it?

  24. I've just pointed out...

    Thanks but that's you. You pointing stuff out. There's no good reason to just meekly trust you and your personal pointing.

    ...consensus position (whatever that is).
    Well, NASA explains the scientific consensus on their website in plain English. You can read it for yourself.

    However, I think it's important data that's always excluded...

    Well, not according to NASA. They seem quite comfortable with it.
    There's a very real possibility that you are simply wrong.

    If it's you versus NASA, then that's not a good look.

  25. btw, I HAVE read the NASA link you've highlighted. That's why I'm
    showing you that it doesn't mean what you think it means. You
    could at least do me the same courtesy of reading the references
    on which the NASA statement is based. Then you might (though
    I strongly doubt it as you are clearly a troll as indicated by your
    refusal to answer direct questions) understand what I'm saying.

    I've no more desire to converse from someone plainly ignorant
    themselves with nothing more to fall back on than an argument
    from authority.

  26. Cedric Katesby, this is how I think it works with you.
    I follow your instructions and go to the NASA website, like JonA did, and I say, "NASA actually says..." To which you argue: "No they don't, read it again until you understand it correctly."
    The point is, how do we know you understand what NASA has to say? From your posts, I learned very little of what you know. As others keep telling you, you are just appealing to authority, and defending this stance blindly. So, I am curious to know what your approach is when you disagree with authorities, particularly when the authorities themselves disagree.

  27. That's why I'm showing you that it doesn't mean what you think it means.

    It's not me. It's NASA.
    I think we can both agree that NASA understands the references just fine.

    Cedric Katesby, this is how I think it works with you.

    It's not that hard.
    NASA has a website. In plain English.
    NASA talks about the scientific consensus. Mentions the 97%. Seems to be just fine with it.
    That's it really.

  28. "The point is, how do we know you understand what the CDC has to say about vaccines? From your posts, I learned very little of what you know. As others keep telling you, you are just appealing to authority, and defending this stance blindly."

    "The point is, how do we know you understand what the Surgeon General has to say about the dangers of smoking? From your posts, I learned very little of what you know. As others keep telling you, you are just appealing to authority, and defending this stance blindly."

    "The point is, how do we know you understand what the USGS has to say about the age of the Earth? From your posts, I learned very little of what you know. As others keep telling you, you are just appealing to authority, and defending this stance blindly."

    "The point is, how do we know you understand what the National Academies of Sciences has to say about evolution? From your posts, I learned very little of what you know. As others keep telling you, you are just appealing to authority, and defending this stance blindly."

  29. ...particularly when the authorities themselves disagree.

    They don't.
    The scientific consensus thing, remember? Either there is or there is not a scientific consensus. That goes for any science topic.
    Not a single scientific community on the planet rejects the scientific consensus on climate change.
    Been that way for a long time now.

  30. Cedric Katesby
    Sorry, I should have been clearer. I was trying to find out how sincere you are about your approach in relying on authority - I want to know whether I can trust the signpost.

    So, I am still curious to know what your approach would be when you disagree with authorities, particularly when the authorities themselves disagree with each other. How do you decide which authority to agree with? Or do you just agree with them all, all the time?

  31. I was trying to find out how sincere you are about your approach in relying on authority -

    Very.
    When it comes to the moon landings, I go straight to NASA.
    I have every confidence they know all about the moon landings.
    The authorities themselves do not disagree with each other.
    There is no scientific community on the planet that rejects the scientific consensus that people landed on the moon.

    When it comes to vaccines and their safety, I go straight to the CDC.
    I have every confidence they know all about vaccines.
    The authorities themselves do not disagree with each other.
    There is no scientific community on the planet that rejects the scientific consensus that vaccines are extremely safe and do not really cause autism.

    When it comes to the link between smoking and cancer, I go straight to the Surgeon General.
    I have every confidence they know all about lung cancer.
    The authorities themselves do not disagree with each other.
    There is no scientific community on the planet that rejects the scientific consensus that smoking increases the risk of cancer and a host of other problems.

    When it comes to the age of the Earth, I go straight to the USGS.
    I have every confidence they know all about the age of the planet.
    The authorities themselves do not disagree with each other.
    There is no scientific community on the planet that rejects the scientific consensus that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and not 6000 years.

    When it comes to the Theory of Evolution, I go straight to the National Academies of Sciences.
    I have every confidence they know all about evolution.
    The authorities themselves do not disagree with each other.
    There is no scientific community on the planet that rejects the scientific consensus that The Theory of Evolution is solid.

    Same diff for climate change.

  32. Go to your authority on climate science - whoever that may be - and tell me what earth's temperature should be, or what the sea level should be, or what the CO2 level should be, or what level of warming is natural, or why all the climate models run too hot (yes, all of them) compared to observations, or what mitigation will work, and what it will really cost, or what the costs of adaptation will be, or why the poorest in the world should go without life saving cheap energy, or even what the definition of 'climate change' is.
    What if your authority just doesn't have the answers?

  33. "Science is skepticism. Consensus/popularity is politics, and appeals to consensus is called either the bandwagon fallacy or the appeal to authority fallacy. But even there, the consensus has been strongly exaggerated by the media/proponents of vaccines — meaning they’re using a lie to support a fallacy. Pretty bad science if you ask me. So anyone that quotes consensus as a justification for their views on vaccines should be suspect of being a propagandists and not a serious scientist in the first place. But pretending the argument that consensus matters is valid, I’ll look at whether there is consensus at all."

    The problem here is that you conflate two different things.
    There's consensus. On the other hand, there's scientific consensus.
    Two different things.

    There's a scientific consensus on all sorts of things.
    The Earth revolving around the Sun.
    Germ Theory.
    Plate Tectonics.
    Evolution.
    Prions.
    The link between HIV and AIDS.
    etc,
    etc,
    etc.

    It's not a consensus of people. Scientists don't vote or take a poll. It's a consensus of scientific evidence.
    That scientific consensus is...a result.
    The result of evidence gathered, observations made and scientists entering the scientific arena again and again and again and again and again until eventually, there's a scientific consensus.
    You can always challenge the scientific consensus but you have to enter the scientific arena.
    That takes work.
    You need to do more that blogging. Much more.
    Anybody can blog. Antivaxxers blog all the time.

    You need to do the work that science demands.
    There's no other way.

    NASA is not lying to you. Really.

  34. Go to your authority on climate science - whoever that may be -

    That would be NASA.

    What if your authority just doesn't have the answers?

    What if an antivaxxer did the same thing as you?
    Or a Creationist?
    Or an HIV denier?

  35. >It's not me. It's NASA.
    >I think we can both agree that NASA understands the references just fine.

    We can't agree on this. NASA says this:

    "Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities."

    As I've already pointed out, ad nauseam, the references do not support this position. If NASA are
    restricting their AGW endorsement to 'actively publishing climate scientists' then how does Cook 2013
    (and Cook 2016) support this position? Cook 2013 is a review of abstracts, not climate scientists, with a full
    67% of those abstracts not expressing a position on AGW. Only ~64 abstracts in Cook 2013 (out of
    ~12480) were categorized as strongly endorsing AGW with more than 50% of the observed warming
    being attributable to GHG emissions. That's a 0.5% consensus on the IPCC position if we're still
    bothering to count.

    Very few people argue that global temperatures, particularly in the NH, have probably increased. Though
    there is in my opinion a false claim to the certainty of the data. Very few people argue that CO2 does
    not absorb LW radiation emitted from the surface in the ~15um micron range. So, if the consensus
    is that GHG emissions (or activities of man such as land use change) have contributed to the observed
    increase in the surface temperature record, then I'd think 97% of skeptics would also be part of that
    consensus. The real issue for me is that we're talking about spending literally trillions of dollars -
    and potentially restricting the access of developing countries to power (and all the other benefits that ensue) -
    on the output of climate models which, contrary to what you imply above, are running too hot.

  36. As I've already pointed out, ad nauseam, the references....

    The problem is that it is...you...doing the pointing.
    There's the NASA website. They are going on about a scientific consensus. With the 97% thingy.
    You are pointing out something as an objection.
    I understand that you think you have found something wrong.

    Only that's not the way NASA sees it.
    The page is still up there. References and all.
    Been that way for a long time now.

    So...maybe you've made a mistake. Or NASA has made a mistake.
    Which one sounds more likely to you?

    "Though there is in my opinion a false claim..."

    Well, NASA doesn't usually go around making false claims. It's not really a thing that they do.
    If they do something wrong or make a mistaken claim, then the world gets to know about it very, very quickly and things get withdrawn and apologies are issued.

    So, when NASA says stuff about global temperatures, most people are going to listen.
    If they got something wrong or, even more shocking, made a false claim then you'd expect some other scientific community like the Royal Society or NOAA or the AGU or and one of the hundreds of other scientific communities out there to notice and gleefully point out NASA's mistake/falsehood.
    That hasn't happened.

  37. ....output of climate models which, contrary to what you imply above, are running too hot.

    Oh. I'm not implying anything.
    I don't claim to know anything about models or whatnot.

    It's just that the claim is...(quote) "....why all the climate models run too hot (yes, all of them)...."

    I am not prepared to meeky believe this just because someone told me this over the internet.
    That's not a good way of thinking.
    So I asked....

    "All of them?
    (...awkward silence...)
    Are you sure? How do you know this?"

    That's a very fair thing to ask. There's no implying from me, I assure you.

    ....output of climate models which(...)are running too hot.

    All of them?
    So...you agree completely with Glenn's claim?
    Ok, well....., assuming that's true, perhaps you can help?

  38. FFS, just read the what the references NASA are using say then compare that
    to the statement itself. I'm not making any claims or providing any
    evidence. I'm just saying that the references don't support the statement -
    that's not my opinion, it's the facts.

    If you ate at a restaurant who claimed to have surveyed 10000 of their
    customers and claimed a 97% satisfaction rate, wouldn't you want to
    know that ~6700 of those had not offered an opinion either way?. Would
    you not feel that the restaurant was misrepresenting the real situation
    if it used the 97% figure in its marketing material?. Is it reasonable to
    assume that the 67% who did not offer an opinion where all satisfied?

    I can't think of any other scientific discipline or issue where the 'consensus'
    is mentioned so often or used as a tool to attempt to silence debate on
    any of the evidence concerned. Your paragraph where you appeal to the
    settled science of evolution, vaccination, the moon landings etc. was
    interesting. We could equally mention the theory of plate tectonics or the
    primary cause of stomach ulcers - what did the scientific consensuses of the
    time have to say about those hypotheses?.

    The scientific consensus represents the most likely understanding, given all the
    available evidence at the time, of something being true or not. It doesn't mean
    that it is true. It certainly should not be used as a tool to silence any debate
    or questioning of what the evidence is purported to show.

  39. Cedric,

    >> "It's not a consensus of people.'

    Uh, yes. Yes it is. Sorry to break it to you. That's exactly what it is. A consensus is necessarily a consensus of people—by definition—given that the word 'consensus' refers to majority opinion.

    >> 'It's a consensus of scientific evidence."

    Is English your first language? Because what you wrote there is word salad. A consensus of... evidence? What the what?

    You claim to revere authority, so let me quote the amply-credentialed lexicographers at Collins Dictionary:

    consensus (kənˈsɛnsəs)
    n.
    general or widespread agreement (esp in the phrase consensus of opinion)

    Usage Note: Since consensus refers to a collective opinion, the words 'of opinion' in the phrase 'consensus of opinion' are redundant and should therefore be avoided.

    (I hope you read the usage note, Cedric. If not, please go back and do so. English can be tricky and good dictionaries include those extra little gems expressly for the benefit of people like you who may be struggling with the transition from a gibberish-speaking background.)

    >> 'Scientists don't vote or take a poll'

    Real scientists don't, that's for sure.

    I'm glad we agree on one point. *Climate* scientists, on the other hand, seem to do so on a biennial basis, or whenever John Cook needs to add another few pages of pre-scientific spam to his CV.

  40. I'm not making any claims or providing any evidence. I'm just saying that the references...

    That would be the claim. The stuff that you are "just saying".
    I have every confidence that NASA knows all about the references. They still put it up on their website. Been there for years.

    The scientific consensus represents the most likely understanding, given all the
    available evidence at the time, of something being true or not. It doesn't mean
    that it is true.

    Happy to go with that. So, according to NASA, the scientific consensus represents the most likely understanding, given all the
    available evidence at the time, of something being true or not.
    Well...ok. Seems fair enough really.

    It certainly should not be used as a tool to silence any debate....

    Not physically possible. NASA debates all the time. If anyone want's to attempt to overturn the scientific consensus, NASA would not dream of stopping you. They couldn't. They don't have that power.
    That goes for any scientific consensus. It's always up for grabs. You just have to enter the scientific arena and get the work done.
    The Nobel Prize awaits.
    Blogs don't cut it really.

    ...questioning of what the evidence...

    That's a never ending process. It's how science works. But that takes actual work. Real work. Any real questioning takes place in the scientific arena where it can be poked and prodded by actual scientists, in public.
    Doesn't change the fact that there's a scientific consensus though.
    There really is.
    On all sorts of things.

  41. ... so let me quote the amply-credentialed lexicographers at Collins Dictionary: consensus (kənˈsɛnsəs)

    Not much point really.
    You are doing the conflation thing again.
    It's not just "consensus". It's "scientific consensus".
    It's the scientific part you are missing.

    Creationists do the same thing.
    They don't get the difference between "theory" and "theory".
    Conflation.

    Perhaps this will help.

    Scientific consensus and arguments from authority
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTJQPyTVtNA

  42. Again, you conflate what I'm 'just saying' or 'pointing out' with my offering an
    opinion. I'm not offering an opinion; the references that are directly quoted
    in the NASA consensus statement do not support that statement unless other,
    unstated, assumptions are made. If you're completely happy with that - fine.
    Personally, I like to apply a bit more critical thinking and actually look at the
    data rather than what I'm being told the data say.

    Why does NASA have a statement on it's own website of what the so-called
    scientific consensus on climate change is? Why are there so many press
    releases on this particular consensus?. Perhaps it's a useful tool to enable
    people who are already convinced of the argument to say "Look, NASA says it's
    true so it must be true". If you want to see how the "97% consensus" is misused
    see the UK Guardian newspaper. They have a whole sub-section on the
    "97% consensus" where one of the co-authors of the Cook 2013 and 2016
    papers is given free reign.

    There's plenty of data on CMIP5 which shows an 'ensemble' of model outputs
    and then computes an ensemble mean as if this were somehow statistically
    (let alone physically) valid. The ensemble mean is quite a bit above observations.
    I don't say all the models are wrong, I say that the ensemble mean is statistically
    garbage and that models which are (temporally) consistent with observations are
    coincidental. Even a very minor digging into what models do would leave you
    appalled at the confidence that is claimed in what they are showing.

    These are good reads, just to get more familiar with the concepts of precision,
    accuracy and uncertainty:

    http://www.eike-klima-energie.eu/uploads/media/Frank_Uncertainties_Temperature.pdf
    http://www.skeptic.com/reading_room/a-climate-of-belief/

    I'm concerned that climate scientists don't understand the difference between
    precision and accuracy nor do they understand the difference between random
    error, which averages out, or systemic error such that as reported by the
    manufacturers of measuring equipment, which does not average out. I guess
    you let NASA deal with these concerns on your behalf?

    Remember, all models are wrong but some are useful.

  43. ...the references that are directly quoted in the NASA consensus statement do not support that statement...

    That's according to you. NASA does not seem to look at it that way.

    do not support that statement unless other, unstated, assumptions are made. If you're completely happy with that - fine.

    Well, working with that, I'm happy to go along with NASA. If you feel they've made some unstated assumptions, then going with NASA's "assumptions" sounds like a pretty good bet.
    It is NASA, after all.

    Personally, I like to apply a bit more critical thinking and actually look at the data rather than what I'm being told the data say.

    I accept that you feel you are good at critical thinking and good at looking at data.
    But....NASA is good at critical thinking and they do know an awful lot about data so....on the one hand, there's you.
    But on the other hand, there's NASA.

    (...thinks about it very carefully...)

    I'm going to have to go with NASA.

    Why does NASA have a statement on it's own website of what the so-called scientific consensus on climate change is?

    Perhaps NASA wants to inform people loud and clear that, yes, there really is a scientific consensus and there's nothing "so-called" about it.
    They state the scientific consensus on climate change in plain English.
    Perhaps they want to make it very, very clear to the general public?

    Same diff with the Surgeon General. The Surgeon General goes to great efforts to patiently and clearly explain that yep, smoking is insanely bad for you and that whole cancer thing is very, very real.

    I don't say all the models are wrong, I say that the ensemble mean is statistically garbage and that models which are (temporally) consistent with observations are coincidental.

    Well, is there any reason why anyone should just trust you on this?
    For example, NASA does modelling, right? Does NASA think their own models are garbage?
    Really?
    Does any other scientific community such as the AGU or the AAAS or the AGU or NOAA?
    Really?

    I'm concerned that climate scientists don't understand the difference between precision and accuracy nor do they understand the difference....

    Perhaps your concerns are unfounded.
    Perhaps you are simply wrong.

    It's not just the climate scientists. Climate scientists do not work in a vacuum. They require help and research from many different scientific fields covering all the Earth Sciences.
    So, if it was true that the climate scientists somehow just didn't understand something, then you'd expect other, different scientific communities to gleefully point it out to them.
    That has not happened.

    Take the American Physical Society. Lots of physicists there. They're famous for them. Surely they know a bit about precison and accuracy?
    Or the American Chemical Society? Lots of Chemists there. They'd be able to point out errors perhaps?
    Lots of different scientific communities. Hundreds of them. Many different fields of research.
    Yet NASA cheerfully mentions them any and all on their website when they talk about the scientific consensus on climate change.

    I guess you let NASA deal with these concerns on your behalf?

    I have to treat your claims just like any other.
    Someone might have "concerns" about something in science. And that's fine.
    Maybe they are right and maybe they are wrong.
    But they have to enter the scientific arena. Blogging about it doesn't impress me.
    Anybody can blog.

    Antivaxxers blog too and they have lots and lots and lots of concerns about the safety of vaccines.
    They will tell you about them in great detail...on their blogs.
    But, on the other hand, there's the CDC.
    I've got the antivaxxers and their blogs and their "concerns"...or it's the CDC.
    So, of course I'm going to go with the CDC and let them deal with the concerns of the antivaxxers.

    The same would go for any other scientific topic. I'm not playing favourites.
    Either there is or there is not a scientific consensus.
    If there is a scientific consensus then that the result of work. The work that science demands. It doesn't happen by magic.
    If someone wants to overturn the scientific consensus, then they need to do it the boring, old-fashioned way.
    Otherwise, they will forever be consigned to the fringes with the moon landing deniers, HIV deniers, creationists and the rest of them.

  44. Cedric:

    "Well, working with that, I'm happy to go along with NASA. If you feel they've made some unstated assumptions, then going with NASA's "assumptions" sounds like a pretty good bet. It is NASA, after all."

    You do realize you're quoting the last words of the Challenger crew, right? Pretty tasteless, dude.

    Barack Obama, President of the United States of America:

    "97% of scientists agree...."

    Cedric, President of under the bridge:

    "It's not a consensus of people...."

    Either scientists aren't people or it's a case of Cedric versus Obama.

    I think I'll go with Obama.

    No offense, Cedric. It's not about you. I just have a distrust of idiots in general.

    Good luck with your one-man war on the English language.

  45. Haha, how did I miss this one?

    Cedric complains:

    "Creationists do the same thing.
    They don't get the difference between "theory" and "theory".
    Conflation."

    Dose silly creationists!

    'Conflation' isn't the word I'd choose, however. What you're actually accusing them of is 'literacy.'

  46. Dang, came back here to again read Cedric's classically honed argument and I get to see a cheap shot appended to the end of the thread.

    Hopefully these links may help Brad Keyes (and any others similarly confused) in his/their struggle to understand Cedric's point, made in regard to "theory" and "theory", since simple context isn't sufficient for Brad.

    Theory Disambiguation : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_(disambiguation)
    Theory : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory
    Scientific Theory : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory

    In particular, para 4 of the second link

    In modern science, the term "theory" refers to scientific theories, a well-confirmed type of explanation of nature, made in a way consistent with scientific method, and fulfilling the criteria required by modern science. Such theories are described in such a way that any scientist in the field is in a position to understand and either provide empirical support ("verify") or empirically contradict ("falsify") it. Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge,[4] in contrast to more common uses of the word "theory" that imply that something is unproven or speculative (which is better characterized by the word 'hypothesis').[5] Scientific theories are distinguished from hypotheses, which are individual empirically testable conjectures, and from scientific laws, which are descriptive accounts of how nature behaves under certain conditions.

    Maybe it's been a case of: "Dose Dat silly creationists! Brad".

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