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A look back - SkS in 2015

Posted on 18 July 2017 by BaerbelW


Fighting Denial with a MOOC

Dana NDanaClimatologyBookCoveruccitelli's book Climatology versus Pseudoscience: Exposing the Failed Predictions of Global Warming Skeptics was published in February. It covers a wide range of climate-related topics, starting with a history of some key discoveries in the field of climate science beginning nearly 200 years ago. Along the way it debunks some common climate myths, progressing forward in time to the 1970s, when scientists’ ability to model the global climate began to advance rapidly. It examines the accuracy of a variety of global warming projections, starting with J.S. Sawyer in 1972, through the recent IPCC reports, as well as some predictions by contrarians like Richard Lindzen.

Together with the UQx team of the University of Queensland we pulled off one of our biggest projects thus far: the massive open online course (MOOC) “Denial101x - Making sense of climate science denial”. Many months in the making, Denial101x started on April 28 and peaked at more than 17,000 enrolled students from more than 160 countries. Since this first iteration, Denial101x has been running continuously either as a paced or a self-paced version with only short breaks in between. All the lectures and interviews are available on YouTube and in a collection on Wakelet where you can watch them directly if you don’t want to take the MOOC itself (but you’ll lose out on many interactive activities, quizzes and forum discussions then).


In May, Kevin Cowtan made the Denial101x Temperature tool available outside of our MOOC via the Skeptical Science homepage. This new resource enables anyone to check and debunk misinformation about the historical temperature record for themselves. Try it for yourself here!

This isn't the temperature tool - use the link above to open it.

In July, John couldn't resist the temptation and published a blog post summarising the latest (and funniest) conspiracy theories about Skeptical Science. This post had been inspired by a growing body of research linking climate science denial and conspiratorial thinking. While Stephan Lewandowsky's Moon Landing paper had attracted most of the attention, another important paper from Yale University had flown somewhat under the radar. This research found that when those who deny climate change are asked to name the first thing that came to mind regarding climate change, the most common type of response involved conspiracy theories.

John often quotes this comment in public talks as evidence of the powerful potential of volunteers and social media:

"I worked out recently it's impossible for one man to turn out a constantly updating and slick as grease website 'in his spare time'. I even went as far as to surmise he may just be a front for the IPCC or Globe International as it would need a team of professionals to create such a site and probably a few PR experts at the head."

There, we've been outed!

During September, Collin Maessen gave Richard Tol a fair warning regarding his latest public musings about our consensus study with scientists responding to Tol’s misrepresentation of their consensus research. Needless to say, Tol didn't heed that warning, but the outcome of that decision will be covered in the post for 2016.

We could only include a few highlights of 2015 in this post. If you are interested in what else we were up to during the year, please check out 2015 in Review: another productive year for the Skeptical Science team.

We published 406 blog posts written by 24 authors with 146 contributed by John Hartz, 53 by Dana Nuccitelli and around 90 by different guest authors.


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