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Skeptical Science at AGU 2016 - a recap

Posted on 26 December 2016 by BaerbelW, John Cook, dana1981

This year's Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) has come and gone and quite a lot happened during the week from Dec. 12 to 16. As mentioned in our earlier post, several SkS teammembers were actively involved with giving talks and/or presenting posters while others were there to take it all in as was the case for me with attending AGU for the very first time.

This post is a (long) recap divided into the following sections:

SkS presentations

Denial101x featured in a poster session

Rally to stand up for Science

ERL's 10th anniversary reception

NCSE Friend of the Planet awards

Interviewing Stephan Lewandowsky

Further Reading


Some impressions from AGU 2016 (photos: Baerbel Winkler)

SkS presentations

John Cook presented a talk A Brief History of Consensus (PPT 6.8Mb), outlining the misinformation campaign against consensus, the studies quantifying the level of scientific agreement and how to neutralise misinformation.

Dana Nuccitelli presented a talk on climate model accuracy – comparing past global temperature projections to observations, and effectively debunking associated myths.  The model-data comparisons can be seen in the video below.

Sarah Green presented a poster on Monday afternoon where she showed how well - or not so well - chemistry text books mention climate change: Matter and energy flows in climate education - Climate topics in undergraduate chemistry textbooks (ED13B-0939)

On Tuesday, it was Keah Schuenemann's turn to present a poster: Country Contributions to Climate Change (ED21A-0761)

On Thursday, Mark Richardson was one of the conveners for Climate Sensitivity and Feedbacks: Advances and New Paradigms II (A41K) and he presented Cloud properties retrieved from the OCO-2 A-band spectrometer (A44A-08).

The final session by a teammember at this year's AGU meeting was presented by Zeke Hausfather on Friday afternoon: Assessing Recent Warming Using Instrumentally-Homogeneous Sea Surface Temperature Records (GC53H-07).

Denial101x featured in a poster session

John Cook presented a poster about our Denial101x MOOC in a session on science communication through curricula (ED13A-0923) on Monday afternoon.

Throughout the afternoon several people stopped by to chat with John about Denial101x and how to debunk misinformation. The general gist of the conversations was how important and appreciated this MOOC is.

We also had a chance to get pictures of several of the lecturers (and one forum moderator) in front of the poster:

AGU-2016-Collage-Denial101xClockwise: John Cook, Peter Jacobs, Keah Schuenemann, Dana Nuccitelli, Sarah Green and in the middle: Mark Richardson, Daniel Bedford, Baerbel Winkler, John Cook

You can download the poster at the following link: full PDF 28Mb

Rally to stand up for Science

Shortly after noon on Tuesday about 500 people came together for a rally on Jesse square just a stone's throw away from the Moscone Center. The rally was organised by The Natural History Museum and Action to set a sign against the incoming US-adminstration's apparent anti-science stance and to urge scientists to "get out of the lab and into the street". Several scientists as well as indigenous leaders spoke at the event and Collin Maessen's video provides a neat summary:

ERL's 10th anniversary reception

On Wednesday, the journal Environmental Research Letters (ERL) hosted a reception at their booth in Moscone North exhibitors' hall in celebration of their 10th anniversary. This was a great opportunity for some of the Cook et al. (2013) authors to meet and talk with the journal's Editor-in-Chief Daniel Kammen and Executive Editor Guillaume Wright. Our consensus study gets a couple of mentions in the 10th anniversary booklet ERL handed out at their booth. You can download the booklet from ERL's website.



NCSE Friend of the Planet Awards

In May, the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) had announced this year's recipients of their Friend of the Planet Awards with our Skeptical Science team being one of them. It was decided that the awards would be presented at the "SkS-Shindig", held on Monday evening when those from the SkS-team attending AGU come together with many others interested in climate science. The other recipients of the NCSE award, Katharine Hayhoe, John Abraham and Dana Nuccitelli were also there to receive their awards. At around 8pm Ann Reid from NCSE started the proceedings and soon after all four recipients held their awards in their hands:

NCSE-Friend-of-Planet-AwardsFrom the left: John Cook, Katharine Hayhoe, Dana Nuccitelli, Ann Reid, John Abraham (photo: )

As about a dozen folks from the SkS- and Denial101x-team were at the shindig we used the opportunity to also get a group picture:


From the left: Mark Richardson, Howard Lee, John Mashey, Collin Maessen, John Cook, Baerbel Winkler, Peter Jacobs, Rob Honeycutt, Sarah Green, Dana Nuccitelli, Keah Schuenemann, Dan Bedford

Interviewing Stephan Lewandowsky

During the weekend after the AGU Fall, John Cook had the opportunity to briefly interview Stephan Lewandowsky in the same manner as his 2014 interview with Dana Nuccitelli (aka a bunch of the smart-alec questions). Just as his penetrating 2014 interview had Nuccitelli admitting he was in fact a cyborg, this latest incisive interview had Lewandowsky confessing that he was indeed the puppet master who runs the world:

Further reading

If this blog post isn't detailed enough for your liking and you need more of an AGU-2016-fix, here are links to some other articles about what all happened there:

Collin Maessen has posts for each day of AGU on his RealSkeptic blog:

AGU Fall meeting Day 1 - Education and Science Outreach

Collin also shares extended video material from Tuesday's rally in this playlist.

Dana Nuccitelli published a Guardian blog post about Tuesday's rally:

This is not normal - climate researchers take to the street to protect science

Let me end with a personal note:

For me, attending AGU turned out to be a fascinating combination of information overload - from trying to take in as much as possible from many sessions - mixed with lots of fun hanging out with about a dozen members of the Skeptical Science team, who I've been working with virtually for many years and now finally had the chance to meet in real life. Thanks all, for a very interesting week and experience!

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