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Climate Hustle

What scientists are saying about Skeptical Science

Posted on 9 May 2011 by John Cook

Over the years, I've received emails or heard anecdotes - tales of scientists at a climate conference whipping out their iPhones to play with the SkS iPhone app, someone on a communication panel mentioning SkS, a graphic unexpectedly appearing in a talk or a report somewhere. So I've started collecting comments from scientists about Skeptical Science - their opinion of the quality of information and (what I find really interesting) how they've used Skeptical Science.

I've now published the quotes on a new page What scientists are saying about Skeptical Science (with the short URL I hope these quotes will encourage the SkS contributors but also be a reminder that the experts are watching so we need to be vigilant and accurate with our science. I would love to hear from any other scientists who find Skeptical Science useful - if you'd like to add a comment to the Endorsements page, please contact me.

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg  

"Skeptical Science is based on a simple notion: take each climate related argument and match it up to the latest science, first in simple language that everyone can understand, and then in depth, backed up by links to the peer-reviewed science. The result is a website which clearly identifies what we know and what we don't know regarding climate change. It is enormously useful and is currently the most prominent knowledge-based website dealing with climate change in the world. Perhaps even more remarkable is that the contributions to the advancement of climate change knowledge do not end with the website. Skeptical Science has also produced popular iPhone and Android apps, which provide up-to-date clarity on the truth or otherwise associate with over 150 popular arguments for why climate change isn't happening or its impacts are trivial. The clarity and portability that the iPhone and Android apps have provided represents an enormous and innovative resource for experts and the general public to understand the state of knowledge that we have about climate change and its impacts."
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg
Professor and Director, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland

Naomi Oreskes  

"Skeptical Science has reached an international audience that stretches across the world, and which has come at a time when accurate information is critically important in terms of understanding and responding to climate change, and shockingly hard to find. The website, iPhone apps and other Internet inventions have provided support and climate change knowledge to hundreds of thousands of people, and I frequently refer people to it. This is extraordinary in terms of advancing knowledge about climate change."
Naomi Oreskes
Professor of History and Science Studies, University of California, Co-author of Merchants of Doubt

John Bruno  

"I read at least one article on SkepticalScience nearly every day and I regularly consult my SkepticalScience iphone app!

I am an ecologist and I study the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems, but a few years ago I realized I needed to understand much more about the physical processes underlying the biological changes we are documenting. In part to improve the quality of our science but also because I frequently am challenged when giving public talks by so-called climate change "skeptics". They always ask the same questions and make the same points, eg, "It's the sun!", "it has happened before" and my favorite "it was cold here last week!". The resources provided by SkepticalScience have helped me recognize and respond effectively to these canards.

SkepticalScience also helps me keep up with advances in the physical science of climate change by providing excellent, accurate coverage of key papers in the field (in journals I wouldn't regularly read). I regularly use SkepticalScience as a teaching resource (my students love it), for background research when writing blog posts and I frequently use John Cook's graphics when giving talks. Finally, SkepticalScience has taught me a lot about the "debate" about climate change and about communicating climate change science and how to politely and effectively debunk the ideological talking points we all routinely encounter.

In short, I find the content reliable, concise, graphically appealing, well presented and organized. SkepticalScience has become a key resource to me and many other environmental scientists."
John Bruno
Associate Professor, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

James Lawrence Powell  

"In writing The Inquisition of Climate Science, I referred to SkS constantly. I had room only to address the most frequent denier arguments; SkS told me what those were and how best to refute them. Perhaps the most important thing about SkS is not the details but the way in which it shows that it takes only one short sentence to refute each denier argument, revealing that the deniers have constructed a house of cards that falls apart the moment it confronts the implacable facts of science.

Future historians will look back at these web pages as either showing how the facts allowed reason to triumph, or as revealing how the opportunity to save humanity was squandered. Regardless, when anyone in the future asks John Cook "What did you do in the war?" he will have an answer he can be proud of."
James Lawrence Powell
James Lawrence Powell, author of 2084 and The Inquisition of Climate Science

Chuck Kutscher  

"There is probably no issue subject to as much misinformation as climate change. Fortunately, there is one place that cuts through the nonsense and provides scientific facts in a clear, well organized, and easy-to-understand format. In preparing presentations on climate change and solutions, I find it to be a wealth of information. With its introduction of smart phone apps, Skeptical Science is now available at your fingertips 24 hours a day."
Chuck Kutscher, Ph.D.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory and leader of the American Solar Energy Society study, Tackling Climate Change in the U.S.

Mauri Pelto  

"As a glaciologist focused on the impacts of climate change on glaciers, I have come to rely on Skeptical Science as the first blog to go to each day to keep up with climate change developments. It is like a daily briefing on current arguments confronting climate change science that support inaction."
Mauri Pelto
Professor of Environmental Science, Science Program Chair
Director, North Cascade Glacier Climate Project, Nichols College

Chip Fletcher  

"Skeptical Science does two things extremely well: 1) the site relies on peer-reviewed literature to frame the discussion of climate change; and 2) the site realizes that most of us are visual learners, the key plots and graphs are always available. Because of its focus on high quality peer-review publications, SkS draws a bright line between opinion and observation, between the politics of science and science, between tainted skepticism and scientific skepticism. I use SkS in several ways: as a library; for updates on works I may have missed; for climate news; and as a source of scientific points of view."
Chip Fletcher
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor, University of Hawaii at Manoa

John Abraham  

"I was in attendance at a panel discussion at the Fall 2010 American Geophysical Union Conference with panelists Dr. Richard Sommerville, Susan Hassol, and Chris Mooney. Each of these participants is a giant in their own right. The room was overcrowded and a dividing wall had to be removed to double the seating capacity. The topic of the conversation was how to communicate climate science effectively. During that panel discussion and the interaction with the crowd that followed, Skeptical Science was mentioned four separate times as the premier repository for science information and communication strategies. The persons extolling Skeptical Science were noteworthy climate scientists who recognized the important role the website plays in the international discussion."
John Abraham
Associate Professor, University of St. Thomas 

Bud Ward  

"Skeptical Science’s broad reach across more than 20 languages, even more countries and cultures, and hundreds of thousands of site visitors each month set a new standard for responsible climate science literacy outreach. These are not my opinions alone, but rather those of many in the responsible climate change science and policy community across the United States. One need only attend and participate in the annual conferences of some of the U.S.’s leading science organizations – the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Geophysical Union (AGU), or the American Meteorological Society (AMS), for instance – to see how often Skeptical Science activities are formally and informally mentioned or cited from the podium…by panelists…by audience members. As I personally witnessed at these conferences, the site is repeatedly identified as the “essential” web resource, the one web site to be visited frequently by those wanting to be and stay informed."
Bud Ward
Editor, The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media

If any scientists would like to add their own comment to this page, please contact me.

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Comments 1 to 20:

  1. Nice accolades, John, and well-earned.

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  2. Thumbs up, John.
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  3. Congrats John,

    I hope that more endorsements keep rolling on in.
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  4. So it's not just us who think highly of your work.

    The fact that you've attracted so many good writers is an endorsement in itself. Good work everyone.

    And it's nice to know there are lots of readers as well as commenters.
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  5. Oh, OK, I think you are pretty good too John, but don't you go getting a swollen head now!
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    Response: [JC] I do note the comments apply to SkS as a whole which is a group effort with a number of contributors.
  6. Worth noting, for all of us who voted, that Professor Naomi Oreskes and Alliance for Climate Education have been named 2011 Climate Change Communicators of the Year.
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  7. It's good that Scientists are reading SkS, but presumably they already know the Science...

    So, is anyone in a Policy role reading? We know they are listening to the millions of U$D pushed into their pockets through the hands of Lobbyists.

    How do we speak to Power?
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  8. How do we speak to Power?

    Mass civil disobedience. Still too many comfortable people in western societies, that will change.
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  9. Just teasing John!
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  10. Artful Dodger, scientists don't know all science. And climate change science is a massive and diverse body of knowledge. I am sure even the most knowledgeable climate scientists don't know all the science explained at SkS. The biologists don't know all the physics and vice versa. SkS science has also taught us how to deal with and respond to all the non-science in this realm (which may be greater in volume than the real science!).

    Policy people do read SkS. And if they don't directly, they learn from it indirectly from the people that do read it, eg, they read books by James Lawrence Powell, Naomi Oreskes, Bill McKibben and many other authors who rely heavily on SkS. Point being; education-it works and SkS is the course textbook.

    Rob, I have to disagree about civil disobedience; lies have to be overcome with the truth, not bad behavior.
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  11. John Bruno - I guess we'll have to disagree on that point. One only has to consider examples of the recent past, such as slavery, segregation, apartheid, womens rights, gay rights etc, etc. Change was not implemented simply because those in power, or voters, were convinced of the truth. No, disruption and protests, often violent, were necessary to implement momentum toward change. Many people had to put themselves in harms way.

    Look at what access to information and the truth has done for western society today: obesity (nothing - it's an epidemic) and rates of smoking uptake in youth (again dismally disappointing). NZ has a high rate of skin cancer because of high UV levels. Go to the beach in summer and you'll see hundreds of people sprawled on beach towels,"baking" themselves to an early grave. And this despite decades of TV campaigns on the risks of UV exposure.

    It's going to take a tad bit more than the truth to overcome this global paralysis. I wish it were otherwise, but people do underestimate the power of denial.
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  12. "It's good that Scientists are reading SkS, but presumably they already know the Science..."

    Not necessarily. Someone specialising in glaciology or geology may not be to up to speed on the physics of clouds for example.
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  13. Rob, I have to disagree about civil disobedience; lies have to be overcome with the truth, not bad behavior.

    I'm curious. What should, say, Rosa Parks or the Selma marchers have done instead of indulging in "bad behavior"? What truth could they have told that they weren't telling already?
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  14. thinking complex systems like weather, oceanography or ecology (well, (economy)) it is near impossible to be well aware of all the studies involved in these, so, if I was a scientist I'd welcome more review articles by accomplished scientists, this place does the same sometimes on the level of science graduates, sometimes more generally so this is to me a good place to read of climate science and and communication of it (M.Sc, Biochemistry)
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  15. Hi Phlia and Rob, I was just thinking about the civil rights analogy before I checked back to SkS. I certainly agree; in the US civil rights movement and in fights for political rights (eg, Egypt 2011) mass civil disobedience makes sense and was obviously effective. I also think it can be effective for other social and moral issues, eg, gay rights and critical mass bike rides (advocating cycling rights). But these are all largely simple moral or policy issues, not complex scientific and socioeconomic ones like climate change.

    Was there a truth that needed to be explained to people and policy makers regarding discrimination and civil rights in the US in the 1960s? Maybe just the truth of humanity, equality and respect. Or maybe people just needed some prodding (and symbolism provided by Rosa P and others) to recognize these truths that don't need numbers or peer review or graphs or international working groups to be documented, proved and explained.

    Listen, I don't feel strongly about this and maybe I am wrong. I am certainly not against bad behavior either and I revere Edward Abbey (Hayduke lives!). I just can't see how that could help in this and some other environmental issues. Couldn't it just play into the narrative of "warmist" being wooly headed contrarian hippie pagans that loathe material culture? Which in my case, may indeed be true:)

    One exception I can think of is the actions by the Sea Shepherds to limit whaling in the Southern Ocean and the work by activists opposing dolphin slaughter in Japan. Somewhat effective; but largely again because whaling is a simple moral issue that primarily needs attention brought to it. There isn't a need to explain to the public all the science about whaling doing this, that and the other decades from now, etc. Know what I mean?

    What do you think?
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  16. Rob, great points about obesity, smoking, skin cancer, etc. At least government (mostly) doesn't challenge the validity of these problems, but I agree, the policy response to them isn't as effective as they could be...
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  17. I may be a Pollyanna here - or a realist. I can only speak for the US, but I think what will happen is we will have a year with many signs of AGW - basically the next El Nino, a 6-9 month string of "weather anomalies" that match what the science predicts.

    And that will essentially be a tipping point for a better policy in the US. We almost had that after the last El Nino (at that time even Republican candidates for office were in favor of cap and trade (which is ironically, a Republican idea that actually works)). Then the country convulsed over the economic problems (some of which, like the reliance of foreign oil, are integrally linked with AGW) and we lost the collective will.

    I don't think the loud, vocal 20% on the far right will ever get it. For them God will fix any major problems, and it is hubris to think humans have any role in climate (and this group is not swayed by science, they see conspiracy if anything challenges their core beliefs).

    There is already 20% on the other side that is ready to bury all cars and turn off all coal plants right away (although I think this group, of which I count myself, could be doing more NOW - how many of us have cut our emissions in half over the last 10 years, and plan on cutting them in half again in the next 10? We claim this is doable - so let us each lead the way!).

    So the 60% in the middle is either too busy, or is currently buying into the right wing propaganda as there isn't ENOUGH real world evidence that directly impacts their world.

    So, I think the next El Nino is the time to put forward a rational climate policy (I favor cap and dividend). In fact, given our ability to predict the timing and severity of an El Nino, it might make sense to time the debate of the policies such that the votes are taken at the summer-time peak of a strong El Nino.

    I am quite sure that a winter vote on climate change will not be as successful. Human nature trumps a strictly scientific analysis of the world (obviously climate change is still happening and a problem in January, but it is harder for the human mind to process it. Part of my work is as a heating contractor. My phone rings much more on September 1 (the first cold day in my part of the world) than on June 15 - when I have slack resources. Human nature).
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    [DB] Here's human nature:

  18. I really don't see the difference between you or Malthus. You will both be proved wrong. all of the predictions of the AGW proponents are being shown to be incorrect. Your cause is doomed. ( -Snip- )
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    Moderator Response: (DB) Inflammatory snipped.
  19. Gary, is that some sort of argument? Could you point out where "all the predictions of the AGW proponents are being shown to be incorrect?" And you might want to post your evidence and argument to the appropriate threads (see the left menu).
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  20. I can understand the snipping of garyhemminger's comment (because it was a farce - as is what has been left), but it did provide a great example of the type of so-called skeptic (or, rather, someone deep in denial) who will trot out his beliefs whenever or wherever he can, while ignoring reality and facts. Quite sad, in a way.
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