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Can't We At Least Agree That There Is No Consensus?

Posted on 19 August 2010 by gpwayne

This post is the Basic version  (written by Graham Wayne) of the skeptic argument "There is no consensus".

Science achieves a consensus when scientists stop arguing. When a question is first asked – like ‘what would happen if we put a load more CO2 in the atmosphere?’ – there may be many hypotheses about cause and effect. Over a period of time, each idea is tested and retested – the processes of the scientific method – because all scientists know that reputation and kudos go to those who find the right answer (and everyone else becomes an irrelevant footnote in the history of science). Nearly all hypotheses will fall by the wayside during this testing period, because only one is going to answer the question properly, without leaving all kinds of odd dangling bits that don’t quite add up. Bad theories are usually rather untidy.

But the testing period must come to an end. Gradually, the focus of investigation narrows down to those avenues that continue to make sense, that still add up, and quite often a good theory will reveal additional answers, or make powerful predictions, that add substance to the theory. When Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleev constructed his periodic table of elements, not only did he fit all known elements successfully, he predicted that elements we didn’t even know about would turn up later on – and they did!

So a consensus in science is different from a political one. There is no vote. Scientists just give up arguing because the sheer weight of consistent evidence is too compelling, the tide too strong to swim against any longer. Scientists change their minds on the basis of the evidence, and a consensus emerges over time. Not only do scientists stop arguing, they also start relying on each other's work. All science depends on that which precedes it, and when one scientist builds on the work of another, he acknowledges the work of others through citations. The work that forms the foundation of climate change science is cited with great frequency by many other scientists, demonstrating that the theory is widely accepted - and relied upon.

In the scientific field of climate studies – which is informed by many different disciplines – the consensus is demonstrated by the number of scientists who have stopped arguing about what is causing climate change – and that’s nearly all of them. Several studies confirm that “...the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes”. (Doran 2009). In other words, more than 95% of scientists working in the disciplines contributing to studies of our climate, accept that climate change is almost certainly being caused by human activities.

We should also consider official scientific bodies and what they think about climate change. There are no national or major scientific institutions anywhere in the world that dispute the theory of anthropogenic climate change. Not one.

In the field of climate science, the consensus is unequivocal: human activities are causing climate change.

Note: we're currently going through the process of writing plain English versions of all the rebuttals to skeptic arguments. It's a big task but many hands make light work. If you're interested in helping with this effort, please contact me

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 58:

  1. This basic version makes some good points, and makes some of them very well: I was particularly pleased with the line, "the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes”

    But that is a long line, not well parsed by our target audience. So I would have reworded it something like this, in addition to including the exact quote:

    "For all practical purposes, the debate (about whether or not man is causing global warming aka climate change) is nonexistent among those scientists who understand the nuances and scientific bases of climate processes".

    We don't really need "long-term" in "long-term climate processes", because by definition, climate is long term. The confusion between 'weather' and 'climate' should be addressed somewhere else, probably earlier in the same basic version of the rebuttal. We need 'bases', not 'basis', since there really is more than one: there are, for example, 1) thermodynamics and 2) the quantum theory of the interaction of matter and radiation.

    We need "for all practical purposes", because even Americans who have never heard the word, are under the heavy influence of 'Pragmatism': they are quick to believe what appears practical/pragmatic to them, and unreasonably slow to believe anything else.

    Also, putting this at front allows us to get rid of the weakening epithet 'largely' in front of 'nonexistent'. The skeptics are always very quick to take unfair advantage of such weakening, making it look like hedging rather than scientific accuracy. Buy my wording is no less scientifically accurate, yet more vigorous and therefore more memorable and persuasive.

    Such vigor and persuasiveness helps them believe what they should have believed anyway but don't: the time for that debate is long over, the time for drastic action is already upon us.

    Finally, I have to caution about making the scientific method sound more tidy than it really is: just think of all the hypotheses that fell by the wayside, only to come back in modified form, such as the 'luminiferous ether', which fell away for only a few decades before it was resurrected as the vacuum in QED, which itself is a very untidy theory, NOT a theory that "makes sense", since even today, it still requires the arbitrary exclusion of divergent integrals, an act that has never had a satisfactory theoretical explanation.
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  2. Constructive comments from MattJ!

    Regarding excessive tidiness, it helps to remember these "basic" treatments will be ultimately be presented in a tabbed format, w/"intermediate" and "advanced" presentations available for those wishing to delve into the details.

    Meanwhile, the acid bath of freewheeling comment anneals the work in progress. (ok, that's a pretty horribly mixed metaphor. How about "furnace" instead of "acid bath?")
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  3. ‎"Scientific knowledge is the intellectual and social consensus of affiliated experts based on the weight of available empirical evidence, and evaluated according to accepted methodologies. If we feel that a policy question deserves to be informed by scientific knowledge, then we have no choice but to ask, what is the consensus of experts on this matter." Historian of science, Naomi Oreskes of UC San Diego
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  4. " There are no national or major scientific institutions anywhere in the world that dispute the theory of anthropogenic climate change. Not one. "

    In this case we're stuffed. The Chinese, the Indians, the South American nations and African nations are not going to stop burning coal. And all the 1st world including Australia are not going to stop using petroleum driven cars.

    Armageddon is upon us.

    Its 11.48 am. This comment will be deleted before 1 pm :-) Its on topic but I guess its slightly political :-)
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  5. “...the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes”.
    If this is the case, then why do so many suitably qualified scientists disagree with the AGW hypothesis (Lindzen, Spencer etc...)? If the unremarkable rise in late 20th century mean global temperature anomalies was caused by rising atmospheric CO2 levels, then why hasn't that rise continued to follow CO2's onward march? There must be a good reason.
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    Moderator Response: [Graham] 3% of scientists working in related disciplines cannot be described as 'many qualified scientists'. It is a minority, and even then the nuance suggests not all of them support your position. Lindzen, for example, does not take issue with AGW, he disputes sensitivity. And temperatures have continued to rise during the last decade, and claiming otherwise is not going to stop the ice melting.
  6. "debate about....the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes”.

    This statement is entirely incorrect. Virtually every paper published by climate scientists debates and dicusses the relative degree to which human activity is affecting climate, overall climate sensitivity, future projections, past climate changes, and so on. The wording is very misleading, and more or less states that we know everything.

    Most climate science papers take it for granted that human activities are changing the climate, but they do debate climate response to these activities, all the time. So how can there be 'no debate' about the 'role played by human activity'. This is a typical exaggeration/distortion which causes so many skeptics to keep being skepical.

    Wording should be something like:

    "there is much debate about the degree and nature of climate response to human activity, however there is no debate that human activities are actually affecting climate in the first place".
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  7. Worth noting that consensus arises from the evidence, not the reverse, and the reverse is the line that deniers have been pushing for years.

    Was thinking yesterday about another example of consensus, one used (like Galileo) quite incorrectly by the deniers, and that is continental drift. If I remember correctly when it was first proposed, as a theory, it depended entirely on (a) the shapes of Africa and South America and (b) some biogeographic distribution puzzles. I can remember it first being discussed in the 1960s in my Zoology Dept, and discussed along the lines of "Well, yes, cute theory, very ingenious, but what would be the mechanism, and there are other explanations for the puzzles". Over the next few years evidence began to accumulate as sea floors were mapped, sediments and rocks dated, the nature of tectonic plates and the Earth's crust better understood, that it just gradually became a matter of consensus. There was no grand announcement, just that all of the objections had been removed, all the mechanisms understood, no one had come up with a single piece of evidence that contradicted the theory, and the idea of continents fixed in time and space just faded away. That is how consensus works (evolution of course being another major example) in science, and that is how it has worked for climate change.
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  8. thingadonta, misquoting the article and then disagreeing with the misquote is difficult to accept.

    It's not, as you wrote:-
    "debate about....the role played by human activity

    It's:
    “...the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played"

    That's a different statement.

    "Largely nonexistent" is fine. Science never produces unanimity: example, Robert Bakker still disputes that the KT Extinction was caused by a meteor impact.

    Nor is consensus about the end of arguments. If it were, the equivalent of a scientific filibuster would be on notice 7x24 to prevent consensus.

    'Consensus' is 'sufficient agreement that the evidence is strong enough to warrant action'.

    Scientific consensus on AGW was achieved 20 years ago (the Lintzens, Lomborgs, Pielke's, McIntyres and Monctons notwithstanding). The evidence leading to that consensus has been fortified since then by adding more evidence, withstanding the challenges, and witnessing the trend.
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  9. Along the lines of David Horton's remarks as well as those of ms2et, thinking about the career of Art Meyerhoff is instructive. Here's a fork in the road, which path does not lead to a dead end? Spencer and the small handful of legitimate scientists manning their barricade remind me in some ways of Meyerhoff. Intelligent, trained, creative, dogged, wrong, but in most cases making a good faith scientific effort without resorting to out-of-band rhetoric. There's the difference between most of this tiny group and a much larger rabble not really interested in science. Meyerhoff had deep, fundamental objections to the emerging mainstream picture of plate tectonics. He mounted a vigorous, forceful effort to complete a different picture but he never, ever accused his scientific opponents of fraud, of malfeasance, of malign intent. Although he and my father were in polar opposition over the interpretation of newly emerging observations, they could share a dinner table and go on to have perhaps too many drinks without ever saying a thing they'd regret or have a hard time owning up to later, when the research dust had settled.

    Miekol Australia may not be as stuffed as you think, though whether they'll continue selling their coal abroad is an important detail. See "Australia strategy for Zero Emissions by 2020". 2020? Maybe that's farfetched, but there's a plan with the marvelous virtue of existence, as opposed to hopeless despair.
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  10. Owl 905:
    "That's a different statement"

    No it isnt, the statements are the same.

    Let me put it another way, if the following were true, would Doran have anything to write about in journals?

    "there is virtually no debate on the rate, degree, and future effects of global warming, nor the role played by human activities, amongst those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long term climate processes".
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  11. Doran et al would have found something else to submit to journals -if- there had not been a concerted effort to convey the impression of doubt and confusion in the scientific community. This is not controversial, see what Luntz advised the US GOP w/regard to messaging earlier this decade.

    It's just another case of how easy it is to convey misdirection, how very difficult it can be to undo resulting damage. A much larger version of the sort of thing we see on climate blogs, really. It takes just a couple of seconds to rattle off "it's been cooling since 1998," longer to (yet again) show how that's wrong.

    So if we don't like to see time wasted undoing synthetic controversies, don't do make 'em up in the first place.
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  12. #11 Doug/GPWayne:
    Here are 750 'virtually non-existant' peer reviewed papers that support skepticism of AGW, or the negative environmental or economic effects of AGW.

    http://www.populartechnology.net/2009/10/peer-reviewed-papers-supporting.html.

    Here is a list of 'virtually non-existant' peer reviewed papers refuting/downgrading the role of the sun, rather than humans in climate change.

    Doran's statement is a statement of convenience, not reality.
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  13. Sorry here is the 'minor role of sun' list:

    http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2009/09/03/papers-on-minor-role-of-the-sun-in-recent-climate-change/
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  14. Serious, peer-reviewed papers, with serious treatments, via Poptech:

    "The greenhouse effect: Chicken Little and our response to global warming"

    Alarmist Misrepresentations of the Findings of the Latest Scientific Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


    Science, much?

    Accessing environmental information relating to climate change: a case study under UK freedom of information legislation

    Australia's Role in International Climate Negotiations: Kyoto and Beyond

    Ecological Science as a Creation Story

    Taxation of greenhouse gases: why Kyoto will not be implemented


    And many, many more.

    Pretty muddled. "Supporting skepticism of AGW" does not equal speaking to the science of anthropogenic climate change. Political rehashing of the Kyoto Protocol has nothing to do with science.

    That list needs some serious editing. Once all the political stuff is sliced away as well as scientific papers of dubious relevance to climate change such as those dealing w/11 year solar cycles and the like, how many are left?
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  15. By the way, Poptech's silly list is a prime example of the asymmetric nature of arguing about climate change. It's very easy to concoct a story and then repeat it endlessly, the invention only needs to be done once and repetitions can then be dropped willy-nilly with very little effort, consuming endless time and patience while folks attempt to put the smelly genie back in the bottle.
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  16. I see that thingadonta is another one fooled by Poptech's little list of "Papers (and other things)- many published by that not properly peer-reviewed Energy & Environment Social Science political 'journal' - that Poptech considers to be against 'alarmist' (or not, as the case may be, depending on Poptech's views) AGW, despite what some of the actual authors of some of those papers think".

    Bad move, thingadonta.

    Poptech will be along, spamming, in 3....2....1...
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  17. I think Skeptical Science should address the "xxx" papers thing somehow. Is there a comprehensive rebuttal somewhere that could be used? Or perhaps one should be created here? (we could do it as a collaborative effort).
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  18. Here is a pretty good look at Poptech's list of papers. Apparently it keeps growing even as it is being dismantled!
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  19. thingadonta, "No it isnt, the statements are the same."

    Not even close. It's a misquote of the statement both literally and in emphasis. You're own attempt to 'correct' the quote highlights your skew:-

    "however there is no debate that human activities are actually affecting climate in the first place"

    Doran's quote makes it clear that skeptics first line of attack is on the "authenticity of global warming". If you're still confused, reference your '800 list' for articles about 'bad measurements' and the 'warming is over'.

    Your reference to the Biglist is a reflection of the spin required to firm up the spin. The list (originally "750 Papers", was later modified with suffix "Alarm") has noticeable refuted sources (I&E) suspect authors (Idso, McIntyre, Michaels, etc, and padded with papers that actually do not dispute AGW but debate sensitivities and projections. Their inclusion in the padding is tied at the hip to the "Alarm" in the headline. Your statement misrepresents the nature of the list.

    An easy one to spot is Pielke Jr.'s inclusion, discussed on Pielke Jr's blog last November. He flat out stated he supported the AGW foundation.

    The 800 list was revived as a counter-volley at the PNAS article which generated the 97% consensus. 800-Alarm now, 750-Alarm then, and 750 originally ... it has traction in the skeptic blogoshpere.
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  20. David Horton:

    Was thinking yesterday about another example of consensus, one used (like Galileo) quite incorrectly by the deniers, and that is continental drift. If I remember correctly when it was first proposed, as a theory, it depended entirely on (a) the shapes of Africa and South America and (b) some biogeographic distribution puzzles.


    Actually, there's also

    (c) a proposed mechanism which was (and is) physically impossible, something akin to the continents plowing along like unpowered icebergs through the ocean.

    Wegener wasn't the first to notice (a) or (b). His (c) was thoroughly rejected, and properly so.

    Regarding (a) wikipedia notes:

    " It was observed as early as 1596 that the opposite coasts of the Atlantic Ocean—or, more precisely, the edges of the continental shelves—have similar shapes and seem to have once fitted together."

    Once it was recognized that the seafloor basalt itself was moving, and the continents were moving like icebergs floating in a moving sea, i.e. Wegener's (c) was replaced with something reasonable, acceptance by most geologists came quite quickly (by the standards of scientific revolutions).

    Something like that happened within the world of science in a similar timeframe regarding the "saturation" of CO2's ability to absorb LW IR "disproving" a significant role by CO2 in keeping the planet warm ... interestingly, though, denialists still puppet that misconception 50+ years after it was laid to rest, while you don't see too many people claiming that continents plow through the basalt sea floor!
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  21. I am alone. How many people are required for a consensus?

    One.

    I am with my wife. How many people are required for a consensus?

    Two.

    I am out with my wife and another couple. How many people are required for a consensus?

    Four.

    I am out with a group of twenty people. How many people are required for consensus?

    Errr...wait...this isn't easy any more. Probably not all twenty. Maybe 18-19?

    I am a climate scientist, and have three thousand scientific peers. How many are required for a consensus?

    Hmmm......2500? 2700? 2900? Again, not an easy question with a definitive answer, other than the answer is NOT all 3000!

    A few crackpots does not a consensus unmake.
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  22. Poptech - you can insist to you are blue in face that E&E is "peer reviewed". I'll go with the "trade" designation. Publishing there has to be a career-damaging move. If you want objective measure of science community judgement on E&E, then perhaps you should look at its journal impact ranking. (good luck actually because I couldnt even find one for it).
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  23. #20 dhogaza

    Actually there was a bit of other early evidence for continental drift as well. (I've got a copy of Wegener's original book on continental drift-its a good read-you can get it on Amazon).

    -stratigraphic (both fossil and rock)correlations between the Americas and Africa-Europe, and numerous other places.

    There is a few other strange ideas in the book, but can't remember them at the moment.

    A globe with a sliding outer skin isnt a very common daily observance, so it took a while for such an idea to sink in, when various geophysics etc backed it up.
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  24. Poptech spammed : "The authors don't think anything except the two who incorrectly assumed their papers were listed to deny AGW, which was explained to them repeatedly that they do not."


    I love it every time you admit to telling the original authors how they are wrong about their own papers; and how you love to link back to arguments from yourself. Living in denial must be wonderful - I just wish I could indulge like you do.

    Anyway, unfortunately for you, the consensus is against you and your little list, no matter how you interpret it for yourself. Sorry.
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  25. Poptech - impact factor is not about popularity - its a measure of the extent of which papers in those journals influence science. And while it can be abused it as close as you can get as an objective measure for the impact of a journal on science. E&E exists as a "tobacco science" journal so that suspect stuff can be published and claimed as "peer reviewed". If you have something of significance to say in science that will pass the real review of your peers then you would be a complete idiot to publish it in E&E. It won't be read, and wont be cited. It exists for another kind of publication altogether.
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  26. Poptech wrote : "I told them they were wrong about why their papers were included in the list."


    Yes, you certainly told them, didn't you, but they still didn't get it, did they ? Maybe you didn't tell them forcefully enough, or is it just that they gave up on you and moved away rather sharpish ? The latter, I think, as can be seen at Pielke's site (the page called, funnily enough : 'better-recheck-that-list' - but you knew better, in your own mind), where you tell Pielke that he is not even aware of what he is talking about ("The fact that you said "assuming" means you are not even aware of why they were listed." - yes, you told him good).

    Harold Brooks was mystified too
    :

    I just noticed I’m the lead author on one of the papers on the list. I have absolutely no idea how that paper could be construed as “skeptical of man-made global warming.” I have no idea how it could be construed as saying anything at all about man-made global warming.

    And you keep getting pulled-up on the preposterous nature of your little list (e.g. here and here, the latter showing your inability to apologise for your shameful bullying.

    This site also shows you in your true, nasty colours, and your inability to acknowledge mistakes again.

    But this comment from you has got to be another classic :


    I believe a guy with an M.S. in veterinary medicine is competent to review the material concerning AGW and give a scientific opinion on it, yes I do.


    All the above should be a warning to everyone as to how you work and your willingness to post personal details online about those who get the better of you.
    Spam away but you will only make yourself look more ridiculous...if that is at all possible !
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  27. As for Energy & Environment, well :

    On our Energy and Environment paper from 1999, had we known then how that outlet would evolve beyond 1999 we certainly wouldn't have published there. The journal is not carried in the ISI and thus its papers rarely cited. (Then we thought it soon would be.) We were invited to submit a piece in 1997 or 1998 and we had this in prep and sent it in.
    Pielke Jr

    Looks like he needs telling again, doesn't it, Poptech ?


    But this is what E & E is really for :

    "The focus is on energy policy debates in relation to the numerous environmental 'concerns' that have surfaced in recent decades."
    Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen


    More from her :

    (Remember acid rain, the death of Europ'es forests in a few deacdes? Or the death of the global ocean from pollution in the 1970s, the subject of my PhD? Environmental threats have long serves many other agendas, and natural scientists may at least be aware of this.)


    Hm, familiar so-called skeptical conspiracy-theory nonsense, eh ?

    But at least she admits to a certain degree of reality :


    The negative attitudes of the IPCC/CRU people to my often sceptical journal have harmed it. Its impact rating has remained too low for many ambitious young researchers to use it, and even sales may have been affected.


    Shame about the conspiracy-theory again, though.


    But her real admission :

    "I'm following my political agenda -- a bit, anyway," she says. "But isn't that the right of the editor?"

    That's what being outside the consensus means - political posturing has no part to play in science, so E & E fails as a pertinent, relevant, reliable source of any sort of legitimate science.
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  28. More incredible quotes from Poptech :

    ...it is explaining to them the criteria for their papers being included...

    Ah yes, the Poptech method of 'explaining' it to the authors how he knows better than they about their own papers. Lovely.


    Since I created the list, I know why I included them...

    Of course you do. Shame no-one else does, especially some of the original authors. Never mind, eh, you know why and that's all that matters.


    There is nothing in my mind...

    No comment needed.


    Pielke Jr. explicitly stated that "Assuming that these are Hypothesis 1 type...", which is wrong...

    Of course Pielke was wrong...because you are right, right ?


    Harold Brooks again had the same misconception as Pielke Jr...

    Of course he did, because you were right again, right ?


    ...his papers support skeptic's arguments against the negative environmental or economic effects of AGW. After this was explained to Brooks...

    Ah, again - Brooks had to have his own paper explained to him. Good of you to do so.


    I have never been pulled up on anything and have bullied no one.

    As long as you believe that, that's all that matters.


    There was no mistake made in the link you have provided.

    Of course not, because you don't make mistakes, do you ? I admire your self-important, self-awareness of your own infallibility.


    My comment is accurate and I stand by it.

    Of course you do, because you are never wrong and never make mistakes, do you ? Understood.


    No one has gotten the better of me.

    Keep repeating that to yourself and things look better, don't they ?


    I have yet to spam anything...

    Unfortunately, anyone at all interested in all this can see all the links where you constantly spam the same nonsense, going round and round until everyone else gets dizzy and you proclaim victory. How nice it would be to live in Poptech world.

    That consensus is still proceeding without you. Have you noticed yet ?
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  29. And more from Poptech :

    Pielke Jr. does not need "telling" anything as that is simply his opinion even though it is irrelevant,

    His opinion is 'irrelevant', especially when it comes to his views about his own papers, right ? Lucky you know the 'truth', eh ?

    Keep 'em coming - I'll help you to discover more about yourself but you may not like what you see.
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  30. What I'd like to know is how many of Poptech's articles have purely to do w/economic or political matters. They've nothing to do w/physical science and thus are really not very informative about the physical matter of AGW. Anybody care to show a theoretical consensus among political scientists or economists having any seriously quantified impact on the real world?
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  31. Poptech - what impact indices measure is the no. of times papers are cited by other journals, not just the E&E echo chamber. While E&E is not about tobacco (hence the quote marks) it certainly appears to be used by those following tobacco industry tactics. I would say the impact of papers in E&E to science is approximately zero and nothing you claim can change that. On the whole, scientists dont share the denialist problems in discerning good from bad.
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  32. Poptech wrote : "So yes I told them the reason why I listed them and under what criteria."


    You just can't help yourself, can you ? Lucky you're around to tell these authors how their papers were something that they didn't think they were, and how they were wrong to ask for their papers to be removed/mystified as to how anyone rational could see in their papers something that wasn't actually there. Amazing.
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  33. "Popularity?" What's in a word? Citations are among other things a measure of the utility of a paper's content. In the scientific world a paper is useful when it helps to provide a framework for further exploration. So not popularity in the sense of "People" magazine.

    Meanwhile, all citations are not equal. A citation to an article from a paper authored by a pundit at a thinktank is not a very good indicator of that article's scientific merit.

    Poptech you seem very invested in E&E, presumably because it's a journal offering easy acceptance of articles that can't find a publisher elsewhere and thus many articles important to "skeptics" appear in E&E. Earlier I wondered if you could inform us about what fraction of the world's libraries subscribe to E&E. You'd mentioned a figure of something less than 500 libraries counting E&E among the journals on their shelves, that apparently being a usefully large number to convey the impression the journal has heft. Did you ever tease out that fraction from your information sources?
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  34. poptech -I REPEAT - I do not claim they are related to tobacco industry only that the journal is used for "tobacco science" style tactics. Namely, like the tobacco industry had with "Indoor and Built Environment", you have a tame journal for printing rubbish so you can claim "peer -reviewed articles" to back dubious claims. And look - you are doing it. And of course the knights of tobacco science were our friends in Heartland. If the journal was publishing anything of value to climate science, then other papers would be building on the science published there rather than demolishing it. Any sign of that happening - no.

    Cites to refute an article and cites in E&E dont count as "influencing science".
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  35. poptech wrote : "No author has asked to have their papers removed. Pielke Jr. never did, Brooks never did, no one."


    Once again, I have to repeat what has already been repeated many times before, but which you still can't seem to understand :

    A quick count shows that they have 21 papers on the list by me and/or my father. Assuming that these are Hypothesis 1 type bloggers they'd better change that to 429 papers, as their list doesn't represent what they think it does.
    Roger Pielke Jr's Blog - Better recheck that list


    Of course, Poptech told Pielke what was skeptical about those papers and Pielke Jnr agreed and thanked Poptech for pointing out what his own papers were actually about.
    Actually, he didn't - he just ignored Poptech subsequently (probably a good strategy), and I suppose that speaks volumes about how he viewed his papers being abused in that way.

    To be more exact, Pielke Jnr showed Poptech where he could find proper scepticism, not made-up skepticism :

    "And if you want a good set of citations against certain "alarmist" conclusions (whatever you mean by that) I'd suggest the IPCC."
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  36. Who introduced the word 'consensus' in science?
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  37. Poptech wrote : "Pielke Jr. has never asked for anything to b removed, which is irrelevant as his papers were never submitted to the list so he cannot have them removed. Regardless is papers are not listed based on his original misunderstanding."


    Convoluted (and confused), or what ?


    Let's break that paragraph down :

    "Pielke Jr. has never asked for anything to b removed..."


    Um, yes he did : you just keep ignoring his words here :

    A quick count shows that they have 21 papers on the list by me and/or my father. Assuming that these are Hypothesis 1 type bloggers they'd better change that to 429 papers, as their list doesn't represent what they think it does.
    Roger Pielke Jr's Blog - Better recheck that list


    Then again, going by the next part of your paragraph, you DID notice his words but chose to ignore them, when you write :

    ...which is irrelevant as his papers were never submitted to the list so he cannot have them removed."


    So, he DID ask for his papers to be removed but you think his request is "irrelevant" because he didn't submit them in the first place and you have decided that they are staying, no matter what the original author thinks.
    And, in fact, Pielke Jnr did show you how you could possibly square the circle of using papers that should not be used the in the way you believe they can be used :


    There is nothing in my writing that fits in this category. If they sopport _your_ skepticism then I suggest retitling the post to be:

    "450 Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting My Skepticism of "Man-Made" Global Warming"

    Roger Pielke Jr's Blog - Better recheck that list

    I'd suggest then that you clarify your post and its title to more accurately reflect what it purports to show.
    Roger Pielke Jr's Blog - Better recheck that list


    That would then give you the right to use papers in any strange way you wish to, even if the original authors don't agree with the way their papers are being used - you can then tell them that it is YOUR opinion of what their papers are about, to back up YOUR version of skepticism. Why don't you change the title yet again, so it better represents real-world reality ?


    But, in the end, you believe you know best and believe you have explained the rationale behind your little list (even though that wasn't agreed by Pielke Jnr) when you assert :


    "Regardless is papers are not listed based on his original misunderstanding."


    So, even though Pielke DID ask for his papers to be removed but you think that his request was "irrelevant" (according to your own strange criteria), you are going to disregard everything because he doesn't seem to realise what it is you are trying to do by using his papers. Well, does anyone but you know what your little list represents ? I very much doubt it.
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  38. The problem with the word consensus is that nobody knows what it is a consensus about unless precisely defined. Is it 1) "CO2 operates as a green house gas" , 2) "man made CO2 causes global mean temperature to increase" or 3) "in 2100 sea levels is predicted to be NN meter high", etc, etc. Is there a consensus about all of it, most of it, some of it, or what? Doing a (scientific) literature search definitely not strange the idea of a consensus of all of it (and that make me confident they actually are doing science research else I would ask what kind of science climate science was...)

    I would say we have "consensuses" about 1) as this can be validated by observation (i.e. is confirmable), and very good reason to believe 2), however the last one. 3) is a more slippery one, this is not based on any observation but model predictions, and therefore it can not be a scientific statement, even less a scientific conlusion, and absolutely not a scientific consensus. (Whether these model prediction is made on super computers with climate models or some calculations made by hand based on some field observations doesn't matter – they are still unobserved predictions).

    I also acknowledge the fact that it is not pedagogical possible to try to explain for some of the audience why this is as long the ideas remains that predicting future climate is in principle the same thing as calculating planet orbits.

    And again I repeat my question – by who (and when) was "consensus" introduced in science?
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  39. batsvensson at 05:12 AM on 24 August, 2010

    Your first point is correct. One needs to be explicit about exactly what one is referring to in relation to any particular consensus.

    "And again I repeat my question – by who (and when) was "consensus" introduced in science?"

    Consensus is an obvious and straightforward concept with a very long history. One only needs to refer to the scientific literature of the 20th century to see this. It refers to an expert interpretation based on a well-informed assessment of the evidence that bears on a particular issue. For example:

    Hoffmann E (1913) Contagious period of syphilis and the consensus in light of new research DEUTSCHE MEDIZINISCHE WOCHENSCHRIFT 39,14-17

    Watson JB, Lashley KS (1920) A consensus of medical opinion upon questions relating to sex education and venereal disease campaigns MENTAL HYGIENE 4, 769-847.

    ....and 1000's of other papers that address various specified consensus's during the last 100 years of scientific enquiry....
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  40. In 1995 IPCC wrote:

    "Any claims of positive detection of significant climate changes are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system is reduced." and "No study to date has positively attributed all parts or parts of observed climate changes to anthropogenic causes."

    This has been changed to

    "The balance of evidence suggest a discernable human influence of climate".

    Another way to put "balance of evidence" it to say "holistic view" which is a phrase that is in popular use at skepticalscience.com - or at least was until it was replaced with consensus. Now, I don’t have a problem with people using all kinds words in any kind of ways as long as it can be precisely define what it is meant with the usage.

    Since no clear definition exists of these phrases I would like suggest such a definition in two step manner:

    A "balance of evidence" or the "holistic view" consist of the evidence, that a) climate model shows that CO2 is the only thing that we can think of that can reproduce the current warming trend in conjunction with that b) no other credible cause has been identified. A "consensus" in climate science is an interpretation of, or a conclusion from, evidence that fits into the theory in such way that it helps explain observations with out contradicting any part of the theory.

    I suggest a definition similar to this because I dont like the idea of every researcher "agreeing with each other". The definition at least leave it open for research to fully hearted disagree with each other with out causing a consensus to be false.
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  41. chris, at 05:31 AM on 24 August, 2010

    ok, thank you, my current understanding is that the concept of a consensus is invoked when there is no hard evidence (i.e. observations) to point at and that it is used losely (maybe even to losely) in many different context.

    That is, it nobody knows what it means until it gets defined.
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  42. No, batsvensson, consensus is not invoked only in the absence of hard evidence. Scientific consensus is used constantly, even when there is "hard evidence." Consensus is needed to determine whether purportedly "hard" evidence really is hard. No matter how "hard" it seems to be. For more reading on the role of consensus in science, click the links in this comment of mine.
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  43. "It [Consensus] refers to an expert interpretation based on a well-informed assessment of the evidence that bears on a particular issue."

    I recall an incident when I did my military service as a kid, we was training in doing visual range observations, and the Lt. asked use about the range to various object in the terrain. One guy started out "I guess...", the Lt. immediately interrupted and roared "Hold! We never guess - we estimating distance. Continue... ".
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  44. batsvensson at 06:05 AM on 24 August, 2010

    "A "balance of evidence" or the "holistic view" consist of the evidence, that a) climate model shows that CO2 is the only thing that we can think of that can reproduce the current warming trend in conjunction with that b) no other credible cause has been identified. A "consensus" in climate science is an interpretation of, or a conclusion from, evidence that fits into the theory in such way that it helps explain observations with out contradicting any part of the theory."

    Those are unnecessarily cumbersome definitions batsvennson. Remember that words/definitions are shorthand signifiers for the things they describe. They are not the thing itself, and are used to communicate ideas and information. If we’re interested in what climate scientists consider to be the case concerning a specific issue (say the origin of increasing atmospheric [CO2]), then we might be happy to know that there is an essentially overwhelming consensus that the rise in [CO2] is a result of anthropogenic oxidation of fossil fuels. However we may be interested in the origin of this consensus and then we would wish to consider the evidence.

    This is pretty obvious if one considers real world examples that we might encounter on a personal level. If you return to the doctor following tests to examine the cause of deep chest pains combined with fatigue and recurrent bouts of bronchitis, and he tells you that (a) the balance of evidence indicates lung cancer, and (b) that he’s sent your X-rays to 6 specialist lung cancer oncologists, and had your tissue biopsies examined by three oncology labs, and that the consensus is that you have got lung cancer, you’d most likely take his views seriously. However, most likely you’d wish to see the evidence for yourself. Now I would say that the notions of “balance of evidence” and “consensus” in this example are essentially the same as when used in climate science, or indeed any scientific subject. I wouldn’t say that “consensus” is used when there isn’t “hard evidence”. Of course it depends what you mean by “hard evidence”! I would say it’s more likely to be used when there is strong evidence, but this evidence may not be immediately communicable to a layman. The term “consensus” is also used when a subject is reviewed to address the evidence base and the interpretations that are drawn from this.

    So going back to your definitions reproduced at the top of my post, “balance of evidence” has nothing necessarily to do with climate models, or things we can think of, and “consensus” has nothing necessarily to do with any particular theory.

    In climate science an interpretation based on the “balance of evidence” is something like:

    “an interpretation that considers all of the evidence that bears on a subject, and which is supported by each of these, not contradicted by any evidence at hand, and more strongly supported than other possible interpretations”.

    And a “consensus” is something like:

    “a strongly dominant expert interpretation based on a well-informed and thorough examination of the evidence”.

    There’s no reason why a consensus need support a theory, although if it doesn’t, there’s obviously strong grounds for considering the usefulness of the theory!
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  45. Poptech #60

    "It is clear you are very concerned about anyone reading my list, which is why you spend so much energy unsuccessfully attempting to discredit it."

    On the contrary, I think you'll find for any serious person your list of papers is thoroughly discredited. The show stoppers for me are: 1. You don't really understand what peer review means. 2. You don't understand how jouranl quality is assessed. 3. You don't understand the importance of citations. 4. Finally you don't differentiate between political, economic and scientific work. It's just a very long list with no attempt at any critical analysis. Your list of papers is really irellevant to the scientific consensus for these reasons.
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  46. kdkd -- that's true for me. I looked through the list and the arguments. PT has zero credibility for me. Not worth wasting time on. Indeed, after my look, I can't even believe that PT is attempting any real engagement with the science. It seems more of a rhetorical game designed 1) to fool people who don't have time to look into to the details and 2) to waste the time of those who might want to actually move forward. Zero integrity, based on the overall evidence of the postings, or else an integrity tied to a different goal--a goal that has nothing to do with science.
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  47. Poptech wrote : "Pielke Jr. made no request to remove papers..."


    Maybe if I copy and paste his words again, you might understand Pielke Jnr this time (fat chance, though, because you wilfully don't want to acknowledge the truth) :

    A quick count shows that they have 21 papers on the list by me and/or my father. Assuming that these are Hypothesis 1 type bloggers they'd better change that to 429 papers, as their list doesn't represent what they think it does.
    Roger Pielke Jr's Blog - Better recheck that list


    Poptech wrote : "I never said Pielke Jr. asked for his papers to be removed (period)."


    And now you are getting very confused. You never said that because you cannot acknowledge the truth, i.e. that Pielke Jnr himself asked that (SEE ABOVE). There should be no confusion about that and the only confusing part is how YOU can be confused by that. Then again...


    Poptech wrote : "Everyone knows what my extensive list represents as it is explicitly defined,

    The following papers support skepticism of AGW or the negative environmental or economic effects of AGW."



    Only you know what your little list is all about and how you can square the circles of including those authors who have told you that their papers are not what you claim them to be. Only you can see skepticism in strange places that don't contain any. Only you.

    As regards your description, you leave out the word 'alarm' but include it in your title. More confusion on your part, it would seem. Do the "following papers" show skepticism of AGW 'alarm' (in your own mind, of course), or don't they ? If they do (in your own mind), why don't you state as such in your introduction ? Maybe it doesn't matter because you know what you are going on about, even if no-one else does ?
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  48. @chris, at 07:04 AM on 24 August, 2010

    Remember that words/definitions are shorthand signifiers for the things they describe. They are not the thing itself

    Ah, right. Thanks chris for the brief clarification and help sorting out my own confusion there. Apparently I got myself mislead with which labels should be attached to which description there.

    “balance of evidence” has nothing necessarily to do with climate models,

    It is not my intention to suggest the contrary.

    What I mean with hard evidence is, just as a wrote, something you get from an observation, i.e. a number.
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  49. @Tom Dayton at 06:41 AM on 24 August, 2010

    You seams to be referring to epistemology now, but I am not sure how you means this would be related to consensus in this case?
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  50. JMyrphy wrote,

    "(fat chance, though, because you wilfully don't want to acknowledge the truth)"

    In what way does this claim (and similar claims you tend to do) support your argument? Is this to be regarded as a factual claim to be serious consider to support the "the truth" view?

    Can you explain what "the truth" is? Is "the truth" perhaps just a world view (of which some may work better than others – why is it then that other even thou they know "the truth" decided to opt for other less "better" truths)? The truth we have now is not the same truth that was around in the past, and most likely will not be the same truth in 500 years time.

    Science development has always been when the "truth" has been challenge, when people has broken with current thought and wisdom. Truth is very relative and maybe that should make us a bit more humble to knowledge because the guy next to you that disagree with you with "cray ideas" may be right, or (s)he may not.

    If one lean back on "the truth" and use that as the measurement stick then one will never be able to contribute with anything new or interesting to say.

    The point is, it is nobodies civil right to offend people just because they do not agree with common wisdom, the dissident may perhaps be an easy targets but that doesn’t change the fact that we perhaps should learn to be more respectful to each other. Perhaps with a respectful attitude towards each other a deeper understanding can be reached and in the end we may learn that we all been wrong.

    We know nothing, ands long we defend "the truth" we will learn nothing.
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