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The Oregon Petition: How Many Scientists Does It Take To Change A Consensus?

Posted on 20 August 2010 by gpwayne

This post is the Basic version (written by Graham Wayne) of the skeptic argument "Over 31,000 scientists signed the OISM petition".

There are several claims that large numbers of scientists do not agree with the theory of climate change, the best known of which is a petition organised by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (the OISM petition). This petition now appears to be signed by over 32,000 people with a BSc or higher qualification. The signatories agree with these statements:

  • The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.
  • There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate.

No evidence has ever been offered to support the first statement, and the second statement is in flat contradiction with the scientists who study climate change. There are also valid issues regarding the methodology:

  • The organisers have never revealed how many people they canvassed (so the response rate is unknown) nor have they revealed the sampling methodology, an ironic omission considering how much fuss is made about scientists being candid and making public their methods and data.
  • The petition is, in terms of climate change science, rather out of date.

In the professional field of climate science, the consensus is unequivocal: human activities are causing climate change and additional anthropogenic CO2 may cause great disruption to the climate.

32,000 Sounds Like A Lot

In fact, OISM signatories represent a tiny fraction (~0.3%) of all US science graduates (petition cards were only sent to individuals within the U.S)

According to figures from the US Department of Education Digest of Education Statistics: 2008, 10.6 million science graduates have gained qualifications consistent with the OISM polling criteria since the 1970-71 school year. 32,000 out of 10 million is not a very compelling figure, but a tiny minority - approximately 0.3 per cent.

There are many issues casting doubt on the validity of this petition. On investigation, attempts to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change often appear to have ideological roots, vested business interests or political sponsors. The claims made for the OISM petition do not withstand objective scrutiny, and the assertions made in the petition are not supported by evidence, data or scientific research.

Several studies conducted independently (Oreskes 2004, Oreskes 2007, Doran and Zimmerman (2009), Anderegg et al. (2010), Cook et. al., 2013) have shown that 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing the climate to change, and that CO2 is causing global changes to the climate. and that the consequences could be catastrophic. These views form the scientific consensus on 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.

Correction (20/6/2013): struck out text claiming 97% of scientists believe the consequences of climate change could be catastrophic, and added links to studies of the consensus. 

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 66:

  1. If one looks at the petition document that individuals sign there is no record or entry of the date. (http://www.oism.org/pproject/GWPetition.pdf) The petition has been going for a decade or so and one wonders how many would change their tune since those early days in the climate debate?
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  2. This is good - it might now be in a language Nova can understand..
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  3. Nova has no interest in understanding it - reality is not what she is about.
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  4. Have there been any efforts to verify the names and qualifications on the "petition"? As John suggests, it might be interesting to go back and see how many of the respondents have now changed their mind.
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  5. I know - just having a little chuckle :-)
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  6. "No evidence has ever been offered to support the first statement."
    Perhaps property values in and around Chernobyl might help.
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  7. When I was sent the petition and encouraged to sign it, I was surprised at how low the bar was for being a scientist. The petition noted that any Bachelor's of Science major counted and provided examples including Mathematics and Computer Science.

    The petition was also structured such that its intent was unclear and hard to extract. I would guess that some signers simply trusted whoever sent it, added their names and clicked OK.
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  8. To clarify just a bit: having a BS degree in Mathematics or Computer Science certainly gains one credibility to a degree in those fields; however, it is no guarantee of any degree of expertise in climatology.
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  9. RSVP: Perhaps property values in and around Hazelwood and Yallourn might be relevant. Or how about downtown Miami in about 50-90 years? Better hope you bought that apartment above the ground floor, and included a boat hoist on the balcony... :-P

    But seriously: that's a bit of a red herring, not to mention some rather flawed logic! "Nuclear disasters caused by disabled safeguards on 1960s vintage reactors are bad, ergo all non-fossil energy is bad"
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  10. The Oregon Petition, when it was originally mailed, had an attached scandal. As I understand it, the petition was accompanied by a document masquerading as a "scientific paper", in the style of the US PNAS with a volume number and publication date. In fact, the "facts" of the article had been published only in the Wall Street Journal. Leading denier and Marshall Institute Director Fred Seitz supplied a covering letter, which emphasized his former connections with the NAS.

    In short, the people who received the petition, or who read it online, were duped into believing that it was backed by the US National Academy of Science.

    The NAS held a press conference to disavow the petition, but on the same day Seitz had an article lauding it in the Washington Times

    The petition is described briefly on page 244 & 245 of Oreskes and Conway's Merchants of Doubt, and on this Wikipedia page.

    Oregon Petition
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  11. There's also no indication how many of the signatories actually work in a field related to their degree. As anyone who actually has a job doing anything at all will tell you - just because you're 22 years old and have a degree, doesn't mean you aren't still a complete novice.
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  12. How is "catastrophic heating" defined, and what is meant by "disruption of the Earth's climate"? These are strong words, and if the meaning of the second statement really is "in flat contradiction with the scientists who study climate change", I am surprised.

    Not only do most climate scientists agree about increasing global warming, they also must agree that we are heading towards a total catastrophe. ('Catastrophe = an extremely large-scale disaster, a horrible event'.)
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  13. What methodology do you speak of that is in question in this document? Is the anything wrong with charts or graphs in this?

    http://www.petitionproject.org/gw_article/Review_Article_HTML.php

    Did they fudge anything? Is there any false data?



    Also, the statement you made in the end, that 97% of climatologists support this statement.

    Several independent studies have shown that 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing the climate to change, that CO2 is causing global changes to the climate, and that the consequences could be catastrophic.

    The use of could here gives a lot of wiggle room. If you change the word of will or is you get a drastically different number. There is barely a majority, if that, that says they know a significant change is taking place.
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  14. "The claims made for the OISM petition do not withstand objective scrutiny, and the assertions made in the petition are not supported by evidence, data or scientific research."

    You could say the same for people who are predicting catastrophic change. There is no scientific proof we are in the process of anything that is not natural at this time.
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  15. cruzn246, if you believe that, then it merely proves that you haven't bothered to look at all the evidence. All the evidence shows a roughly +0.16 degree per decade warming at a time when the inputs from the sun have been largely trending downwards. This temperature rise has an almost 80% correlation with the rise in CO2 over that same period. If you or any of your denialist mates can point to strong scientific proof that this would have occurred naturally, then I'd be interested to hear it-because such proof has been greatly lacking up to now. Instead, the Denialist Industry has chosen to focus its energies on ludicrous publicity stunts like the one described above!
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  16. cruzn246, have you looked at the link given to you, to do with empirical evidence ?
    When you have, try these too :

    10 Indicators of a Human Fingerprint on Climate Change

    10 Key Climate Indicators point to same finding - Global Warming is unmistakable

    Then, come back and detail your arguments against.

    In the meanwhile, from your Oregon Petition link, in what way do you think that Figure 1 (showing Sea Surface temperatures in the Sargasso Sea) argues against anthropogenic global warming ?
    How did they get their 2005 figure, since the study referred to only went up to 1975 ?
    How does that Figure 1 prove "George Washington and his army were at Valley Forge during the coldest era in 1,500 years", as they state ?
    Why does the link to the data behind that Figure 1 not work ?
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  17. There is a lot of fuzzy language so far in this post, two examples:
    - 'many lines of empirical evidence' - is not the same as scientific proof.
    - saying that the consequences 'could' be catastrophic - is not the same as saying that they 'will' be catastrophic .
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  18. How many scientists does it take to change a consensus?

    What an odd question for a scientist to ask. A consensus is nothing more than a majority of opinions.

    I guess the proper answer is ZERO. Scientific consensus is a scientific opinion. Theories do not deliver opinions, they either deliver a result or they do not.

    So if you are saying that AGW because of CO2 is a hard fact, then please provide some evidence that can be repeated by a neutral skeptic. Perhaps now is a good time to create a post on 'Convection and Evaporation cooling versus Radiation cooling within the Troposphere'?

    If it can be shown that Radiation delivers more energy to the Tropopause than Convection, then AGW because of CO2 is the only explanation for the increase in temps the Earth has experienced since the end of the Little Ice Age. This of course creates new questions regarding energy transfer, but science should be able to sort that out, correct?

    This all reminds of the Clinton scandal when he was trying to hide his indiscretions with Lewinsky using legal arguments when all it took was a blue dress to make the relationship clear.

    Everyone has an opinion, where is AGW's 'Blue Dress'?
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  19. Argus et al,

    Your arguments are roughly analogous to someone discovering that that the electricity in their house is acting unusually, and it happens that 100 electricians to take a look at it. Ninety-seven of them report that there is a problem with the wiring that has reasonable potential of starting a fire at some point. Being able to prove that there will be a fire and what the damages from that fire would be has little to do with whether or not it's a good idea to fix the wiring.
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  20. theendisfar,

    I think you'll find that most climate scientists don't care what the consensus is. It's mostly people who can't do the research for themselves who care what the consensus is of those that can.

    What, there wasn't convection before we starting adding more CO2 to the biosphere? All the forces in play now have existed for longer than we care about. What we are doing changes the balancing point of the forces.
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  21. Improving the analogy.

    Let's say the homeowner added in some of the wiring himself.

    Let's say it was an electrician who first said that what he had done was potentially dangerous.

    Let's say that the 97 said that it was much more likely than not that the new work would cause a fire.

    Let's say that none of the 100 would be the ones to do the repair work. This might be a point of contention; so, I'll say that I really don't know how much stock in alternative energy companies the typical climate scientist owns.
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  22. theendisfar,

    I think the correct answer to your question:

    "How many scientists does it take to change a consensus?"

    is 1.

    All it would take would be one scientist whose understanding of the climate mechanics was so much better than the others that he/she would be able to put together an argument that none of the others could refute. That hasn't happened yet over the course of about 100 years. In fact, it has happened the other way more and more. The idea that humans could affect the climate of the planet was once very much not a mainstream idea amongst scientists. That was about 100 years ago. More and more researchers have become convinced over the years.
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  23. Chris G,

    "I think you'll find that most climate scientists don't care what the consensus is."

    Then why is it touted so often by scientists? Mr. Cook saw fit to bring it up again, and Everett Rowdy seems to find some usefulness in opposing the Skeptic's Consensus.

    "What, there wasn't convection before we starting adding more CO2 to the biosphere?"

    The argument is that Convection + Evaporation are so much more influential on the temperatures within the Troposphere (convection is very relevant far above the biosphere), that a small amount of trapped radiation, ~2 Watts versus ~1 Watt for CO2, is negligible.

    An increase in surface temps automatically induces a higher rate of convection.

    "All the forces in play now have existed for longer than we care about."

    I would argue that the forces in play 'all' need to be well represented in any theory. Current IPCC models have convection and evaporation accounting for only ~10% of the cooling of the surface.

    The atmosphere cools rapidly with altitude and trapped radiation has little explanation for this. Why this occurs will certainly lead to a better understanding of the observations for all. Convection and Evaporation are obvious candidates for this phenomenon and current understanding of the two support a rapidly cooling atmosphere with increasing altitude. Mirages are very good examples of this.

    "What we are doing changes the balancing point of the forces."

    With land use changes, UHI, and the like, I must agree, but with regards to adding CO2, I see no evidence when taking into account our knowledge of how efficient convection is.

    Would you say it would be worthwhile to discover/discuss the differences between convection and radiation cooling within our atmosphere, especially over altitude (distance)?
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    Moderator Response: Please make an effort to stay on topic. If you want to discuss the role of convection in transporting heat through the atmosphere or other physical sciences topics, use the search box at upper left and find an appropriate subject.
  24. One must wonder the validity of such lists. I've seen lists of evolution dissenters that include Newton, Galileo, and Copernicus, etc.
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  25. Theendisfar, if you do a little research you'll discover that casting the impression that a plurality or truly significant number of climate researchers are not convinced by the evidence we're warming planet has been a strategy of public relations people working for industry for nearly a couple of decades. This is actually nothing new, the same thing happened with CFCs, tobacco, tetraethyl lead and a number of other pollutants we've had to deal with over the past 100 years. It's all well-documented, not even slightly controversial.

    Long before folks like Doran and Schneider began producing any publications treating consensus, industry public relations campaigns included loud and repeated messages to the effect that no scientific consensus existed w/regard to AGW. As part of these efforts, public relations firms have cast a wide net in their effort to convey an air of authority, including creating such vehicles as "The Oregon Petition."

    Is it surprising that scientists should respond to a PR campaign in a scientific way? If the fossil fuel industry mounts a concerted effort to confuse the public, what would you suggest as a better way of trying to untangle the mess made by public relations firms?

    Do a little work, learn some history. Why not?
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  26. Rick G,

    Evolution had not been postulated prior to Newton. Had Darwin come before them I believe they would have agreed with him if they took an interest.

    I would add that the validity of lists based upon opinion is a two way street. I truly find it surprising that any scientist would be satisfied with consensus, especially with the tools that are available today.

    With that, I agree that 32,000 signatures means bunk along with Scientific Consensus.

    A good question is how can we prove or falsify AGW?
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  27. doug_bostrom,

    "Is it surprising that scientists should respond to a PR campaign in a scientific way?"

    Yes and no.

    Yes, if only repeatable methods and conclusions is the mission of the exercise.

    No, if the motivation of the scientist is anything otherwise.

    Science is meant to make consensus moot. Scientific Consensus in a strict definition is an oxymoron.

    "If the fossil fuel industry mounts a concerted effort to confuse the public, what would you suggest as a better way of trying to untangle the mess made by public relations firms?"

    I don't have any doubt that the public is easy to confuse, however I would offer that a convention similar to the ones held on a Static vs. Inflationary Universe in the mid 20th Century would a good starting point.

    We must recall that that debate was just as heated as the AGW debate today. Egos very often come with intelligence, but again repeatable methods and conclusions is the sure fire way to get around both egos and consensus/opinion.

    If you want to sway the public, sway the skeptical scientists first. Prior to the Static vs. Inflationary debate, the public only had trust to rely on, and most believed in Static along with most scientists.

    It was not up to the Static's to disprove the Inflationaries, but rather for the Inflationaries to prove Inflation. Afterwards, they had proof and very few scientists did not switch sides. Of course the cause is now under debate.

    "Do a little work, learn some history. Why not?"

    :) Back-atcha.
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  28. theendisfar wrote : "Evolution had not been postulated prior to Newton. Had Darwin come before them I believe they would have agreed with him if they took an interest."


    Like the myths about Galileo and flat-earthism (and, indeed, the Oregon Petition), that is not true :

    Contrary to many assumptions, evolutionary theory did not begin in 1859 with Charles Darwin and The Origin of Species. Rather, evolution-like ideas had existed since the times of the Greeks, and had been in and out of favor in the periods between ancient Greece and Victorian England. Indeed, by Darwin's time the idea of evolution - called "descent with modification" - was not especially controversial, and several other evolutionary theories had already been proposed. Darwin may stand at the beginning of a modern tradition, but he is also the final culmination of an ancient speculation.
    ThinkQuest

    History of evolutionary thought


    Perhaps you shouldn't be getting so much of your information from those so-called skeptical sites.
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  29. Consensus is a curious thing. In science, a 90-95% consensus is pretty strong, indicating that there are few loose ends or strong alternative theories/hypotheses.

    However, in the public domain a tiny percentage of disagreement can be hyped, paraded, and presented to the public as a 'valid alternative', irregardless of the strengths of their arguments.

    Hyping 'uncertainty' and presenting isolated views as mainstream alternatives are a standard industry tactic of the last 40 years - including the dangers of smoking, of second hand smoke, acid rain, DDT, holes in the ozone layer, the value of the Strategic Defense Initiative, and now climate warming. Many of the same people have been and are involved in all of these anti-scientific campaigns.

    I'm rather deeply familiar with these tactics - my brother was an apologist/denier for a major tobacco company, arguing uncertainty in the face of second hand smoke dangers. He gave me a copy of "Thank You For Smoking", stating "This is my job - I am this man".


    But back to science, rather than financially driven white-washing: If 97% (+/- ~3% based on the given sampling statistics) of experts in the field agree that AGW is occurring, while 0.3% of non-experts (no sampling statistics or sampling criteria presented) disagree, well, I'm going to go with the expert opinion.
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  30. JMurphy,

    Interesting reads, thank you.

    Correction, Evolution in the much more detailed sense that Darwin postulated was not available to Newton et al.

    It seems that along with concrete, evolution in it's simple postulations was also lost during the Middle Ages, to the West that is. Great credit should go to Darwin for having so little to work from.

    The general public then and now are not evolutionists and again I would argue that an undereducated public is not the first people that need to be convinced. In essence they are nothing more than a fan club.

    A person who believes in Calculus is only as useful as their ability to use it. Just because you become a 'fan' of the Calculus Facebook page has no bearing on whether it works or not.
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  31. This is an active place. I really like it.
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    Moderator Response: I'm glad. But one of its attributes that makes it a good site is the focus of each of its posts and the comments specifically on those posts. Please use the Search field at the top left of the page, or browse the list of Arguments, to find appropriate threads for your comments. Split your comments by topic, into the appropriate threads. Also, read the post and preferably the comments before writing your comment. If we all (including you) keep the comments on topic, they will be informative.
  32. theendisfar,

    Regarding "...an undereducated public is not the first people that need to be convinced."

    Most of us reading this live in democracies. Most democratically elected leaders will not do what their voters don't want them to do. So, undereducated or not, the public has to be convinced before action will be taken. Maybe they aren't the first people who need to be convinced, but most scientists have been convinced for decades and we can see how far that has gotten us.
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  33. Gee, thanks for deleting a post I worked on for about 30 minutes. I guess the answer was a bit too convincing. See you all in another life. it's clear that censorship of good rebuttal exists here.
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    Moderator Response: It was far off topic. See my Moderator comment on your comment after that one. Maybe John will restore the one I deleted.
  34. Then Marcus was off also.
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  35. Chris G,

    "Most democratically elected leaders will not do what their voters don't want them to do"

    This is moot with regards to science as 'want' is moot. Want automatically includes motivation. KR's #29 'Thank you for Smoking' example applies equally to AGW scientists. Scientific 'Authorities' have been proven wrong time and time again throughout history. Piltdown Man is a great example.

    'Want' is especially relevant when one has an elected Authority to deal with. Also, changing 'leader' to 'representative' changes the paradigm significantly. Intellectual 'representatives' hold no authority over those they represent.

    When People instead of Scientific Laws are the source of authority, you not only are subject to motivation, but you are also subject to the fact that People change, Scientific Laws do not.

    As far as 'most' scientists being convinced, repeatable methods and conclusions send a louder and more importantly a 'clearer' message than "I'm right and your wrong". Both sides are guilty of this.

    Motivation, credibility, and consensus would all be rendered moot and reduce the questions to a finite and falsifiable set. This is quite valuable as it removes subjection, which is practically infinite.

    I'm just saying repeatable tests will get us a lot farther a lot quicker, and it is very important for both sides to recognize this.

    Do you see the value in removing motivation, credibility, and consensus from the debate? Are they important with regards to the people educated enough to make a scientific argument?
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  36. theendisfar - when I commented in #29 about my brother, he was specifically paid to make stuff up, harp on minor contradictory opinions, overemphasize uncertainty, and in general to lie about what the science and the scientific consensus were. There's a great financial incentive for industry to do so - if they're making $$money$$, they don't want to change gears.

    Now, if you're accusing the 97% of climate scientists (whose consensus opinion is that AGW is happening, and will have large effects on all of us) of lying, please be clear and say so. I will, however, point out that they really don't have a financial incentive to do so - every academic institution I know of balances pay for PhD's with incoming grant money so that there is no difference in their income. And I don't see many university professors driving new BMW's!

    As to "repeatable methods and conclusions" - we have them. That's why 97% of people in the field agree on the conclusions of AGW!

    There are always always a few people with vested interests in other conclusions, not to mention looneytoons who think it's the Little Green Men or something (no insult intended to LGM, mind you!). But the repeatable science has convinced the vast majority of people who are able to critically evaluate it.
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  37. KR,

    I worked for the CDC for a number of years and I can tell you straight forward that many scientists, gov't especially, are paid to deliver a message. Many times it is not the scientists themselves who are lying, but rather those in charge of communications. H1N1 is a perfect example, hundreds of millions of $'s were funneled into it because the 'threat' was completely overstated. I was there.

    While drug companies gained a great deal, so did the Gov't and it's employees.

    To be perfectly clear, "I am accusing 97% of Climate Scientists, who support AGW because of the increase of CO2 since the end of the Little Ice Age, of doing less than acceptable science including (but not limited to); research, testing, and/or communication of the results."

    I have little interest in a scientist's motivation outside the fact that people who cannot defend the AGW argument keep pointing to a lack of financial motivation. Gov't and Grant sponsored scientists have jobs right now, working to falsify the need to have them is the last thing on their minds. Tenure and grant money is a dangerous combination, that is where Peer Review and grant sustainability meet. Consensus is quite valuable here.

    Should there be any motivation in science other than being able to repeatedly be able to arrive at the same result no matter who pays you?

    As to repeatable methods and conclusions, can you link to one so we can discuss there? Forgive my Skepticism, I come Missouri, the 'Show me State' and I claim to be able to critically evaluate them.

    And don't just call me liar, submit your repeatable evidence and I'll prove whether or not I am myself.
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  38. theendisfar - I wasn't accusing you of anything, if you read my post; I was pointing out that many organizations promoting doubt in climate change have financial incentives to, well, make stuff up.

    As to those in charge of various gov't agencies, well, yes, sometimes they do modify the message for political goals. The last Bush administration was notorious for that - political appointees rewrote major portions of scientific reports to dilute the data regarding climate change. The scientists who wrote it, however, objected quite loudly. A number resigned in a very public fashion.

    I did, however, ask if you thought the majority of climate scientists are lying, yes or no - you didn't answer that question.

    As to repeatable methods and conclusions?

    Global warming is still happening
    Emperical evidence that we're causing global warming
    CO2 emissions
    CO2 effects (evidence disproving 'saturation')
    Greenhouse effect (lots of references)
    Greenland/Antarctic ice loss
    Sea level rise
    Consensus and paper counts, AGW and counter-AGW
    Tons of other evidence, with links to the various references

    I believe that provides a cross section of ~60 papers total, which various folks indicate are representative. If you want to invalidate all of those (the vast majority of climate science, in fact), be my guest. It might take a while, though.

    I would actually suggest you start with the last link, the video, and look up the web page he provides at the end with all the references he used. It's a good review of the various lines of evidence in the field.
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  39. Isnt catsotrophic heating a bit loaded? Or a straw man? It paints a picture of the imminent destruction of every lifeform on earth and nobody is predicting that.

    If the petition had asked do you agree we are causing climate change that could cause serious problems for many countries would 32,000 have said no? Not likely now is it.

    And thanks to skepticalscience for a great site.
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  40. KR,

    I wasn't accusing you of anything

    Sorry, I wasn't clear. I claim to be able to refute AGW as to having repeatable tests, was just asking that you provide links to it (you did, thanks:) rather than rely on credibility. All to often, we skeptics get 'credibility' tests that are truly moot IMHO, I claim no credibility save what may rise from this exercise.

    I did, however, ask if you thought the majority of climate scientists are lying, yes or no - you didn't answer that question.

    :) Calling someone a liar could be considered ad hominem, so you got a carefully crafted answer :) Sorry about that.

    Without going into motivation, Yes, I think many climate scientists are purposely misrepresenting conjecture as empirical and repeatable evidence quite frequently using subjective terms to provide wiggle room and plugging conjecture into GCM's, passing the predictions off as reliable.

    Most climate scientists, IMHO, cannot see the forest for the trees and truly misunderstand thermodynamics, or at least are not properly representing/considering Convection and Evaporation in their studies/calculations, especially models. Whether these folks are lying or not makes little difference as to whether they are providing valuable arguments/tests that result in validating conclusions. I believe I can show that they are not.

    Empirical evidence that we're causing global warming is right on topic, so I'll begin there if you have no objections.

    The video you linked is on topic for the above link so I think it should be okay to discuss there.

    Thanks for the challenge, many of the arguments are redundant or can be falsified in chunks, but I agree it will take some time, but I'm confident we have plenty of time before climate disaster strikes :)

    Pick this up this weekend in the other thread, it's 5:30 here and time for a beer.
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    Moderator Response: Thank you for recognizing the relevance of other threads, and for promising to read them and watch their video before commenting more. Also thank you for your civil tone even when making strong claims. (I want commenters to know that it is indeed possible to do those things, and that everyone appreciates effort to follow the rules.)
  41. Theendisfar

    What basic thermodynamic problems? Exactly and precisely? What data has been missrepresented? What conjecture has been presented as evidence? One example will do. Im intrigued.
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  42. Should there be any motivation in science other than being able to repeatedly be able to arrive at the same result no matter who pays you?


    Unpaid volunteers are doing their own temperature reconstructions, including an effort by Ron Broberg to put together a usable dataset from the GSOD network, which are stations entirely separate from the GHCN network used to generate GISS, HadCRUT, etc temperature products.

    Guess what? He gets almost identical results to the GHCN-derived data.

    Nick Barnes and friends, likewise unpaid volunteers, have recreated GISTemp in Python and have found that GISTemp indeed implements the algorithms defined in the scientific papers, and gets identical output to GISTemp.

    Anthony Watts's classification of GHCN stations based on his photo project has led to work which shows that even choosing just the best stations by his criteria gives the same temperature rise we see in GISTemp. The first effort to do this was done by a volunteer who goes by the handle JohnV.

    When Watts denounced his work, JohnV lost all faith in the so-called skeptical community.

    There are more examples.

    The fact of the matter is that people who are unpaid are starting to recreate important bits of work.

    Most telling of all, those who are paid and who would be expected to build a robust argument against the mainstream have failed miserably for three decades now. They've been unable to come up with a theory that accounts for not only observed current warming but past climatic events, the climate of Venus or Mars, etc. Climate science gives us a coherent theory that explains much more than the relatively trivial (in terms of importance to overall science) consequence that adding CO2 to the atmosphere is going to cause warming. If it weren't for the political importance and potential implications for our future, this factoid wouldn't be much more than a footnote in climate science.
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  43. theendisfar - So, you won't flat out state that climate scientists are lying; they may just be incompetent?

    I don't think that's a reasonable statement at all. Folks (in general) try to do the best job they can. I cannot imagine a world where the majority are incompetent and the few dissenting voices are on the ball.

    Climate science has been an active and evolving discipline for well over a century - and those with axes to grind against the consensus have entirely failed to come up with consistent alternative hypotheses other than anthropogenic global warming.

    If the dissenters had solid alternatives, they would be convincing the majority. Facts are unforgiving, and every honest scientist I know follows the facts.
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  44. dhogaza,

    :) This is so frustrating. Who cares if someone is getting paid, is their work worth a hill of beans or not?

    My point is that once you introduce consensus, credibility, or motivation, you are straying too far from scientific method.

    I keep hearing about all this supposed evidence, but once you start looking at it, it turns out to be a bunch of 'almost' evidence that is all to often used by other scientists as if it has been validated. Once you start nesting 'almost' you end up with almost almost which is worthless to science.

    It's great for PR work and building consensus.

    I'm just one guy, give me a few weeks to work on the items in #40. As I stated there, I'm claiming that I can show that this supposed repeatable evidence is exactly that, supposed.

    NigelJ,

    Will discuss in link in #40.
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  45. KR,

    No, I will not flat out state it for two reasons.

    1. The comments policy forbids it, and the terms I've used are already fairly close to crossing that line. Say what you like but AGW Believers get away with far more here than Skeptics.

    2. To state that someone is lying automatically brings motivation into the debate, and I don't give a damn what their motivations are, about consensus, or someone's credibility. It detracts from the debate. Whether it's incompetence or lying, how about you decide?

    Folks (in general) try to do the best job they can.

    Let us do the same. You defend AGW, and I, being the skeptic, will attempt to falsify it. No hard/personal feelings, strictly recreational.

    I cannot imagine a world where the majority are incompetent and the few dissenting voices are on the ball.

    History is full of examples. Look, I'm not argue this with you. You stated there are lots of repeatable tests, you provided links, and I'm looking them over now.

    and those with axes to grind against the consensus have entirely failed to come up with consistent alternative hypotheses other than anthropogenic global warming.

    I agree, skeptics have done just as much a terrible job in rebutting AGW as AGW Believers have done in preparing and proving it. Time for someone else to do the job.

    I'll make a prediction. By dismissing consensus, motivations, credibility, and any other subjective influence and by strictly following the Scientific Method, we bloggers will either falsify or confirm the AGW Theory on or before August 21, 2011.

    Anyone else want to help figure out how to put this debate behind us? I've got several ideas and would welcome additional help.

    Any objections to starting in the Empirical Evidence post noted in #40?
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  46. Theendisfar: yet consensus is what an unskilled public demands in order to perform informed democracy. Because the public is, in general, unable to do the math (due to restraints of time and/or mental faculty), we turn to scientists. We can't trust one scientist. Getting a second opinion is a natural thing to do in such circumstances. We have the opportunity here to get hundreds of second opinions (from the most informed scientists) and see if a consensus exists.

    Within the scientific community, "consensus" is simply another name for the peer review and publication process: "Here, I tried my best with the math and the lit review, but maybe you'll see something that I missed," which gets answered by a "No, it looks like--to the best of our knowledge--you've done your homework, and the math looks good." Scientists know they're working with an object (the universe) that hasn't yet been fully defined, and no human mind can encompass all the details, so the natural uncertainty that >everyone< must deal with leads to requests (informal or formal) for consensus.

    Short version: the demand for consensus is for non-experts, and scientists don't do science only for themselves: they do it for us (non-experts and scientists), so it's no surprise when scientists respond to the demand. (oh, except for the Objectivist types, who do all the science from the ground up without relying on any existing research and don't publish because that would be altruistic. They also don't engage in public forums like this either, because that might lead to their pristine individual selves becoming contaminated by the ideas of others, and all of that ungoverned by social contracts.).
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  47. theendisfar - Nope,, this just isn't recreational. This is about our futures, our descendents futures. It's about how well we've taken care of the world we live in.

    This isn't a joke, this isn't a rhetorical exercise. This is about living well, doing well, or suffering the painful consequences of bad decisions. Not about scoring 'points' with debate tricks.

    You want to play semantic games? Fine. You tried that a couple months ago on the CO2 is not the only driver of climate thread, and I simply won't play that game. If you have actual issues with the data or the conclusions drawn from them, we can talk about it.

    But rhetorical games are not worth playing, not with the current stakes.
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  48. The "skeptic" debate wildcard:

    Yes, I think many climate scientists are purposely misrepresenting conjecture as empirical and repeatable evidence quite frequently using subjective terms to provide wiggle room and plugging conjecture into GCM's, passing the predictions off as reliable.

    No point in discussing anything with this fellow, he'll just answer anything and everything with conjecture not related to science when pressed.

    Facts? Nope, just conjecture, speculation.

    Thanks for saving my time, "theendisfar." You're a skeptic of the new school, not the old school and thus beyond reason.
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  49. 1. The comments policy forbids it, and the terms I've used are already fairly close to crossing that line. Say what you like but AGW Believers get away with far more here than Skeptics.


    We also got better grades in science classes when in school, something I'm sure many denialists still resent ...

    I agree, skeptics have done just as much a terrible job in rebutting AGW as AGW Believers have done in preparing and proving it. Time for someone else to do the job.


    Physics actually works for me. CO2 lasers and all that.

    You're arguing from a position of personal incredulity ... "I don't believe science, therefore it must be wrong!".

    You're no different than those who believe the earth is 6,000 years old.
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  50. Yes, I think many climate scientists are purposely misrepresenting conjecture as empirical and repeatable evidence quite frequently using subjective terms to provide wiggle room and plugging conjecture into GCM's, passing the predictions off as reliable.


    Doug Bostrom's rebuttal is fine, but it's worth noting that this is *exactly* the argument creationists, smoking-is-harmless types, etc use against science.

    Look, we should I care what the uneducated think, theendisfar? The more you make clear your ignorance, the less I care ...
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