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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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The 97% consensus on global warming

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate Advanced

97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming.

Climate Myth...

There is no consensus

"[...] And I'll mention that the stat on the 97% of - of scientists is based on one discredited study." (Ted Cruz)

At a glance

What is consensus? In science, it's when the vast majority of specialists agree about a basic principle. Thus, astronomers agree that the Earth orbits around the Sun. Biologists accept that tadpoles hatch out from frog-spawn and grow into adult frogs. Almost all geologists agree that plate tectonics is real and you'd be hard-placed to find a doctor who thinks smoking is harmless.

In each above case, something has been so thoroughly looked into that those who specialise in its study have stopped arguing about its basic explanation. Nevertheless, the above examples were all once argued about, often passionately. That's how progress works.

The reaching of scientific consensus is the product of an often lengthy time-line. It starts with something being observed and ends with it being fully explained. Let's look at a classic and highly relevant example.

In the late 1700s, the Earth-Sun distance was calculated. The value obtained was 149 million kilometres. That's incredibly close to modern measurements. It got French physicist Joseph Fourier thinking. He innocently asked, in the 1820s, something along these lines:

"Why is Planet Earth such a warm place? It should be an ice-ball at this distance from the Sun."

Such fundamental questions about our home planet are as attractive to inquisitive scientists as ripened fruit is to wasps. Fourier's initial query set in motion a process of research. Within a few decades, that research had experimentally shown that carbon dioxide has heat-trapping properties.

Through the twentieth century the effort intensified, particularly during the Cold War. At that time there was great interest in the behaviour of infra-red (IR) radiation in the atmosphere. Why? Because heat-seeking missiles home in on jet exhausts which are IR hotspots. Their invention involved understanding what makes IR tick.

That research led to the publication of a landmark 1956 paper by Gilbert Plass. The paper's title was, “The Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climatic Change”. It explained in detail how CO2 traps heat in our atmosphere. Note in passing that Plass used the term "Climatic Change" all the way back then. That's contrary to the deniers' frequent claim that it is used nowadays because of a recent and motivated change in terminology.

From observation to explanation, this is a classic illustration of the scientific method at work. Fourier gets people thinking, experiments are designed and performed. In time, a hypothesis emerges. That is a proposed explanation. It is made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.

Once a hypothesis is proposed, it becomes subject to rigorous testing within the relevant specialist science groups. Testing ensures that incorrect hypotheses fall by the wayside, because they don't stand up to scrutiny. But some survive such interrogation. As their supporting evidence mounts up over time, they eventually graduate to become theories.

Theories are valid explanations for things that are supported by an expert consensus of specialists. Gravity, jet aviation, electronics, you name it, all are based on solid theories. They are known to work because they have stood the test of time and prolonged scientific inquiry.

In climate science today, there is overwhelming (greater than 97%) expert consensus that CO2 traps heat and adding it to the atmosphere warms the planet. Whatever claims are made to the contrary, that principle has been established for almost seventy years, since the publication of that 1955 landmark paper.

Expert consensus is a powerful thing. None of us have the time or ability to learn about everything/ That's why we frequently defer to experts, such as consulting doctors when we’re ill.

The public often underestimate the degree of expert consensus that our vast greenhouse gas emissions trap heat and warm the planet. That is because alongside information, we have misinformation. Certain sections of the mass-media are as happy to trot out the latter as the former. We saw a very similar problem during the COVID-19 pandemic and it cost many lives.

For those who want to learn more, a much longer detailed account of the history of climate science is available on this website.

Please use this form to provide feedback about this new "At a glance" section. Read a more technical version below or dig deeper via the tabs above!


Further details

We know full well that we don’t have the time or capacity to learn about everything, so we frequently defer to the conclusions of experts. Without experienced people using their expertise to perform many vital tasks – and without new people constantly entering such occupations – society would quickly disintegrate.

The same is true of climate change: we defer to the expert consensus of climate scientists. Indeed, public perception of the scientific consensus with regard to global warming has been found to be an important gateway into other enlightened climate-related attitudes - including policy support. 

Nine consensus studies

Let's take a look at summaries of the key studies, featured in the graphic above, into the degree of consensus. These have been based on analyses of large samples of peer-reviewed climate science literature or surveys of climate and Earth scientists. These studies are available online through e.g. Google Scholar. That slightly different methodologies reached very similar conclusions is a strong indicator that those conclusions are robust.

Oreskes 2004

In this pioneering paper, a survey was conducted into all peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject 'global climate change', published between 1993 and 2003. The work showed that not a single paper, out of the 928 examined, rejected the consensus position that global warming is man-made. 75% of the papers agreed with the consensus position while 25% made no comment either way.

Doran & Zimmerman 2009

A survey of 3,146 Earth scientists asked the question, "Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?" Overall, 82% of the scientists answered yes. However, what was most interesting was the type of response compared to the level of expertise in climate science. Of scientists who were non-climatologists and didn't publish research, 77% answered yes. In contrast, 97.5% of actively-publishing climatologists responded yes. As the level of active research and specialization in climate science increases, so does agreement that humans are significantly changing global temperatures. The paper concludes:

"It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely non-existent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes. The challenge, rather, appears to be how to effectively communicate this fact to policy makers and to a public that continues to mistakenly perceive debate among scientists."

Anderegg et al. 2010

This study of 1,372 climate science researchers found that (i) 97–98% of the researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC) as outlined by the IPCC and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers. 

Cook et al. 2013

A Skeptical Science-based analysis of over 12,000 peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject 'global climate change' and 'global warming', published between 1991 and 2011, found that over 97% of the papers taking a position on the subject agreed with the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of the project, the scientist authors were emailed and rated over 2,000 of their own papers. Once again, over 97% of the papers taking a position on the cause of global warming agreed that humans are causing it.

Verheggen et al. 2014

Results were presented from a survey held among 1868 scientists studying various aspects of climate change, including physical climate, climate impacts, and mitigation. The survey was at the time unique in its size, broadness and level of detail. Consistent with other research, it was found that as the level of expertise in climate science grew, so too did the level of agreement on anthropogenic causation. 90% of respondents with more than 10 climate-related peer-reviewed publications (about half of all respondents), explicitly agreed with anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) being the dominant driver of recent global warming. The respondents’ quantitative estimate of the GHG contribution appeared to strongly depend on their judgement or knowledge of the cooling effect of aerosols.

Stenhouse et al. 2014

In a survey of all 1,854 American Meteorological Society members with known e-mail addresses, achieving a 26.3% response rate, perceived scientific consensus was the strongest predictor of views on global warming, followed by political ideology, climate science expertise, and perceived organisational conflict.

Carlton et al 2015

Commenting that the extent to which non-climate scientists are skeptical of climate science had not so far been studied via direct survey, the authors did just that. They undertook a survey of biophysical scientists across disciplines at universities in the Big 10 Conference. Most respondents (93.6%) stated that mean temperatures have risen. Of the subset that agreed temperatures had risen, the following question was then asked of them: "do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?" The affirmative response to that query was 96.66%.

Cook et al. 2016

In 2015, authors of the above studies joined forces to co-author a paper, “Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming”. Two key conclusions from the paper are as follows:

(i) Depending on exactly how you measure the expert consensus, somewhere between 90% and 100% of climate scientists agree humans are responsible for climate change, with most of our studies finding 97% consensus among publishing climate scientists. (ii) The greater the climate expertise among those surveyed, the higher the consensus on human-caused global warming.

Lynas et al. 2021

In this paper, from a dataset of 88,125 climate-related peer-reviewed papers published since 2012, these authors examined a randomly-selected subset of 3000 such publications. They also used a second sample-weighted approach that was specifically biased with keywords to help identify any sceptical papers in the whole dataset. Twenty-eight sceptical papers were identified within the original dataset using that approach, as evidenced by abstracts that were rated as implicitly or explicitly sceptical of human-caused global warming. It was concluded that the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change, expressed as a proportion of the total publications, exceeds 99% in the peer reviewed scientific literature.

Myers et al. 2021

This study revisited the 2009 consensus among geoscientists, while exploring different ways to define expertise and the level of agreement among them. The authors sent 10,929 invitations to participate in the survey, receiving 2,780 responses. In addition, the number of scientific publications by these self-identified experts in the field of climate change research was quantified and compared to their survey response on questions about climate change. Perhaps not surprisingly, the study found that agreement on anthropogenic global warming was high at 91% to 100% and generally increases with expertise. Out of a group of 153 independently confirmed climate experts, 98.7% of those scientists agreed that the Earth is warming mostly because of human activities such as burning fossil fuels. Among the subset with the highest level of expertise, these being independently-confirmed climate experts who each published 20+ peer-reviewed papers on climate change between 2015 and 2019, there was 100% agreement.

Public Polls and Consensus

Opinion polls are not absolute in the same way as uncontestable scientific evidence but they nevertheless usefully indicate in which way public thinking is heading. So let's look at a couple taken 13 years apart. A 15-nation World Public Opinion Poll in 2009 PDF), with 13,518 respondents, asked, among other questions, “Is it your impression that among scientists, most think the problem is urgent and enough is known to take action?” Out of all responses, just 51% agreed with that. Worse, in six countries only a minority agreed: United States (38%), Russia (23%), Indonesia (33%), Japan (43%), India (48%), and Mexico (48%). Conversely, the two highest “agree” scores were among Vietnamese (69%) and Bangladeshis (70%) - perhaps unsurprisingly.

The two other options people had to choose from were that “views are pretty evenly divided” (24% of total respondents), or “most think the problem is not urgent, and not enough is known to take action“ (15%). American and Japanese respondents scored most highly on “views are pretty evenly divided” (43 and 44% respectively).

How such a pervasive misperception arose, regarding the expert consensus on climate change, is no accident. Regular readers of this website's resources will know that instead, it was another product of deliberate misinformation campaigning by individuals and organizations in the United States and other nations around the world. These are people who campaign against action to reduce carbon emissions because it suits their paymasters if we continue to burn as much as possible. 

Step forward to 2022 and the situation has perhaps improved, but there's still some way to go. A recent poll, Public Perceptions on Climate change (PDF), was conducted by the Policy Institute, based at King's College London, UK. It quizzed samples of just over 2,000 people from each of six countries (UK, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Italy and Germany). The survey asked the question: “To the best of your knowledge, what percentage of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening?” The following averages were returned: the UK sample thought 65%, the average of the whole survey was 68% and the highest was Ireland at 71%. Clearly, although public perception of expert consensus is growing, there's still plenty of room for strategies to communicate the reality and to shield people from the constant drip-feed of misinformation.

Expert and Public Consensus

Finally, let's consider the differences between expert and public consensus. Expert consensus is reached among those who have studied complex problems and know how to collect and work with data, to identify what constitutes evidence and evaluate it. This is demanding work requiring specific skill-sets and areas of expertise, preparation for which requires years of study and training. 

Public consensus, in contrast, tends to occur only when something is blindingly obvious. For example, a serial misinformer would struggle if they tried running a campaign denying the existence of owls. Everyone already knows that of course there are owls. There is public consensus because we see and hear owls, for real or on the TV or radio. But complex issues are more prone to the antics of misinformers. We saw examples of misinformation during the COVID pandemic, in some cases with lethal outcomes when misinformed people failed to take the risks seriously. There's a strong parallel with climate change: it is imperative we accept the expert consensus and not kick the can down the road until the realisation it is real becomes universal – but utterly inescapable.


Update May 26, 2023: The "At a glance" section was updated to improve readability.

Last updated on 26 May 2023 by John Mason. View Archives

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Further reading

Richard Black at the BBC investigates whether there is a bias against skepticism in the scientific community.

More on what we're talking about when we say "scientific consensus,"  in an essay founded on Denial101x and scientific literature: Scientific Consensus isn’t a “Part” of the Scientific Method: it’s a Consequence of it. (or via archive.org)

Further viewing

The "Climate Denial Crock of the Week" video series examines the list of "32,000 leading skeptical scientists."

Naomi Oreskes gives a thorough presentation of the development of our scientific understanding of anthropogenic global warming:

Lead author John Cook explains the 2016 "Consensus on consensus" paper.

Here is a video summary of the various studies quantifying the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming, as well as the misinformation campaigns casting doubt on the consensus.

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Joe Crouch for his efforts in tracking down scientific organizations endorsing the consensus as well as links to their public statements.

Update

On 21 Jan 2012, we revised 'the skeptic argument' with a minor quote formatting correction.

Comments

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Comments 176 to 200 out of 906:

  1. 97.4% is an awfully consensus-like number. Practically unanimous. But there are two parts to a fraction or, in this case, a percentage Numerator; and denominator Let's look at the denominator They are "those who listed climate sci- ence as their area of expertise and who also have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change (79 individu- als in total)." Hmmm. 1) If your gut feeling, after finishing your B.Sc., was that the climate wasn't changing, would you study climate change? Probably not. You'd be thinking it would be pretty boring, because you'd be not expecting it to change. If your gut feeling, after finishing your B.Sc., was that AGW threatened mankind, would you study climate change? You betcha! Here's your chance to save the world AND get the girl! 2) If a climate scientist is doing research on climate change, and he or she finds no change occuring, do we think it is still going to get published? Publication bias in clinical research The Lancet, Volume 337, Issue 8746, Pages 867-872 So doesn't that mean published research, and therefore published researchers, must be biased to those reporting change? 3) When we are talking about "the subject of climate change", isn't it understood that we are usually talking about AGW? 4) SO, that impressive number 97.4% tells us that 97.4% of climate scientists studying climate change and publishing primarily on climate change believe in.......climate change. Exploring the denominator renders the numerator much less impressive. Is that a statistic, or a tautology?
  2. Doran asked these climate scientists this question: "Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?" 1) "A" factor, not "The only" factor. Not even "the most". 2) What does a climate understand by the word "significant"? In medicine, a relationship is said to be significant if there is a less than 5% chance that it can be explained as random. If sample sizes are large enough, "highly significant" relationships can be calculated that actually mean zip to any given individual. If a given subject is important enough, a 1% contribution to it may be significant. Schizophrenia affects just 1% of the population: anyone think it is an insignificant illness? 1% of the US population lives in Chicago City: is Chicago's contribution to America insignificant? So if human activity contributes 1% to global warming, and if a climate scientist lives and breathes climate, he or she would have to say that 1% contribution is significant, no?
  3. Didn't Doran design this question in order for it to be almost impossible to answer "no" to? Didn't he do that in order to generate the highest "yes" answer % possible, in order to create a paper purporting to demonstrate a consensus in excess of the "real" consensus that may exist? Didn't Doran fail to follow up on non-responders? Didn't Doran select out, for special attention, not necessarily the most knowledgeable (why not select out PhDs, or professors, specifically?) but specifically those most likely, undoubtedly, to agree with the premise of his question, and then did he not ask the most inclusive, weakly-framed question possible, just to generate this mighty figure of 97.4%
  4. Doran then compares this result with a response from the general public......disingenuously. He quotes a Gallup poll that "suggests that only 58% of the general public would answer yes to our question 2." However, if one cares to check the reference, the question asked of the general public was whether they thought human activities OR natural forces were driving climate change. To answer "yes", they had to think not just that human activities were "a" significant factor, but "THE" significant factor driving warming. A climate scientist thinking human activities contribute 1% to warming answers the survey question "Yes" Joe Bloggs, thinking that human activities contribute 49% to warming answers his respective Gallop question "No". Doran knows this, but compares them on the same graph anyway, and concludes that climate scientists need to "spread the word" more enthusiastically. And this website swallows it hook line and sinker.
  5. re #171, neil the evidence indicates that there has been substantial acceleration in glacier mass loss since the 1970s. A detailed study of Alpine glaciers was published by the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich a couple of years ago: Haeberli W et al. (2007) Integrated monitoring of mountain glaciers as key indicators of global climate change: the European Alps Annals of Glaciology 46,150-160 Abstract: The internationally recommended multi-level strategy for monitoring mountain glaciers is illustrated using the example of the European Alps, where especially dense information has been available through historical times. This strategy combines in situ measurements (mass balance, length change) with remote sensing (inventories) and numerical modelling. It helps to bridge the gap between detailed local process-oriented studies and global coverage. Since the 1980s, mass balances have become increasingly negative, with values close to -1 m w.e. a(-1) during the first 5 years of the 21 st century. The hot, dry summer of 2003 alone caused a record mean loss of 2.45 m w.e., roughly 50% above the previous record loss in 1998, more than three times the average between 1980 and 2000 and an order of magnitude more than characteristic long-term averages since the end of the Little Ice Age and other extended periods of glacier shrinkage during the past 2000 years. It can be estimated that glaciers in the European Alps lost about half their total volume (roughly 0.5% a(-1)) between 1850 and around 1975, another 25% (or 11% a(-1)) of the remaining amount between 1975 and 2000, and an additional 10-15% (or 2-3% a(-1)) in the first 5 years of this century. And this analysis of glacier mass balance has recently been extended to a worldwide set of glaciers in which mass balance of 228 glaciers with full or partial records back to the 1940’s has been analyzed. This also indicates that after a relative lull in net glacier mass balance in the period around 1960 to 1975 there had been a marked acceleration in glacier mass balance loss. Zemp, M. et al. (2009) Six decades of glacier mass-balance observations: a review of the worldwide monitoring network Annals of Glaciology 50, 101-111 e.g the the authors state that the 30 reference glaciers where there are high quality continuous records show “an accelerated thinning, with mean annual ice loss of 0.14 m w.e. (1976-85), 0.25 m w.e. (1986-95) and 0.58 m w.e. (1996-2005)…. So the loss of glacier mass balance certainly seems to have increased rather markedly since the 1970’s. A brief account of this can be found here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090129090002.htm Likewise, analysis of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets indicates a continued acceleration of mass balance loss: e.g. Velicogna, I. (2009), Increasing rates of ice mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets revealed by GRACE Geophys. Res. Lett. in press “We find that during this time period [April 2002 and February 2009] the mass loss of ice sheets is not constant, but accelerating with time, i.e. that the GRACE observations are better represented by a quadratic trend rather than a linear one, implying that the ice sheets contribution to sea level becomes larger with time. In Greenland, the mass loss increased from 137 Gt (gigatonnes)/yr in 2002-2003 to 286 Gt/yr in 2007-2009, i.e. an acceleration of -30 +/- 11 Gt/yr^2 in 2002-2009. In Antarctica the mass loss increased from 104 Gt/yr in 2002-2006 to 246 Gt/yr in 2006-2009, i.e. an acceleration of -26 +/- 14 Gt/yr^2 in 2002-2009. There aren't any press releases for this study yet I think, but related work is decribed here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081129094609.htm http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090612092741.htm
  6. just a test to see if the server is working.
  7. Re: dopeydrjohn in 172 through 179 You sound like you really don't like the conclusion of Doran & Zimmerman, so you're looking high and low for objections. I'll try to answer a few of your specific points, but start with the big picture: they obtained an independent directory of earth scientists, and got permission to send an email survey to all of them. They had the survey questionnaire vetted by independent survey design experts. They set up the online survey engine so that each person could only be counted once. They got around 30% response rate, and they cite sources confirming that this is about the expected participation rate for such polls (researchers get a HUGE amount of email, have very busy schedules, sometimes spend weeks or months on a ship, outdoors, in the Arctic, on mountains, etc.) You try to make it sound like D&Z committed fraud by not "following up" with the non-responders. That's way out of line! The survey design was that they would make it easy to respond, but they would not pester people who did not want to take part or did not have time. Your posts #177-179 are really overheated. You've already made up your mind, and whatever evidence D&Z present about the actual opinions of the actual scientists doesn't seem to get through the walls you have put up. Look, rather than posting your vehement arguments about how D&Z might be wrong, why not spend some more time getting familiar with the views of the actual scientists themselves? I've set up a website listing a lot of the most widely published and cited authors in this field, with a link to their home page. (Someone linked to my site back in the 150's in this thread, but nobody much picked up on it.) http://www.eecg.utoronto.ca/~prall/climate/index.html You can look through my lists and see for yourself who says what. I've annotated which scientists have signed public declarations calling for action to cut GHGs, as well as those who signed "skeptic" statements like the Leipzig or Manhattan Declarations. I've covered every name on eleven different skeptic declarations, yielding a list of about 480 self-declared climate skeptics. The catch is, very few of them have any standing or publication history in this field. The skeptics' statements are padded with non-experts. Their median number of pulished works mentioning "climate" is ... two, while some 169 of the 469 skeptic signers have ZERO published works mentioning "climate." http://www.eecg.utoronto.ca/~prall/climate/skeptic_authors_table_by_clim.html Compare working group 1 of the IPCC, with a median of 93 climate publications. http://www.eecg.utoronto.ca/~prall/climate/AR4wg1_authors_table_by_clim.html In the top 100, only Roger Pielke Sr. shows up as a climate 'skeptic' - and he doesn't even dispute that CO2 drives warming. http://www.eecg.utoronto.ca/~prall/climate/climate_authors_table_by_clim.html All told, I found about 2.5 to 3% of authors publishing on this subject are self-declared skeptics. This dovetails quite closely with D&Z. There simply are far, far more scientists saying this IS a problem than saying it is not. Suppose the percentage is double or even triple what both D&Z and I are finding? That still wouldn't even get you to 10%.
  8. Birdbrainscan Thanks for your reply. The subject of my posts was the Doran study. Yes, looking at the bigger picture is something else I might have done, but, quite clearly, the subject of my posts was the Doran paper. Big pictures are made of little pictures. Pixels on your screen. Rods and cones on your retina. There's nothing inherently wrong in looking at one study. I don't doubt that the majority of scientists in this field agree with the current dominant paradigm. They always do, almost by definition (Kuhn). That's not my point, either. I read scientific journals every week (insofar as medicine is science) and I reflexly look for flaws in the research. This keeps my patients safe and well, and my practice successful. I stand by every material comment I made about the Doran paper, and you have not contradicted these observations. Is there a broad agreement amongst scientists that temperatures are rising? Clearly there is. Do some authoritative scientists disbelieve that catastrophe is at hand? Clearly some disbelieve. But either way the Doran study constitutes very poor evidence and does little to advance certainty about these questions beyond that which we have from other sources. It doesn't merit the space it occupies on this site. Surely there are better consensus papers around than this? But I did not, as you imply, take issue with their conclusion then seek to criticise their method. I took issue with their method. And I would happily tear apart a skeptic paper in the same way. The way researchers deal with non-response bias is well-established. You'll find it dealt with in any medical journal you care to open. (and doctors are busy people, too). I see no evidence of Doran dealing with this potential confounder. Which makes the research sloppy. And since a responder whose views are likely to concur with a researcher is more likely to answer a survey than a (potential) responder whose views are likely to disagree with a researcher, exploring non-response bias might have turned up evidence Doran might not have wanted. But nothing in post 173 suggests an accusation of fraud. I could as easily assert that accusing me of accusing Doran, at this point, of fraud, is itself "way out of line". Do you have comment about 174-176? Can I take it then that these observations re the Doran study go unchallenged? Do you have comment about the substance of 177-179, aside from their temperature? before asking me to just turn away from this research and look at other research? Aside from exhorting me to chill out and avert my eyes, do these observations re the Doran study remain unchallenged? In my field I read a lot of junk science. I don't like being bullshitted. Well intentioned or not, Doran is misleading in comparing the scientists and the public on the one graph when they were not asked the same question. No matter how noble the cause, sloppy or disingenuine work is not justified and is ultimately self-defeating. Machiavelli's methods have no place in science.
  9. This crappy Doran study got a guernsey in the Letters page of the Sydney Morning Herald today, in a boldened piece from a university lecturer who, again, has accepted it without thinking seriously about it. Again, it is touted significant that a group who actively publish in a particular field, surprise, happen to believe in the field in which they are publishing. Again, that is not to deny that most Earth scientists agree with the current dominant paradigm Again, if 20% of Earth scientists can't even agree that humanity is making "a" significant contribution to warming, it would be interesting to hear their reasoning. And again, the only science the Doran paper represents is the science of "tautology".
  10. The important question here is, how important is concensus to science. Lets face facts, a huge portion of people holding any type of degree will simply parrot back what thier professors taught them. This is understandable as they trust their professors and paid a high price for thier education. However, this does not reduce the need to point out that a very small minority actually go beyond their classroom assignments and validate for themselves what they learned. In summary, as long as man made GW is taught in our schools from elementary through college, few should expect any different result than what was pointed out here; concensus only proves what is being taught and can not be used as scientific proof of any theory. Science is proved by evidence not by degrees. Those on both sides of the debate should focus on the scientific evidence so the general public can have a reason to believe/not believe besides "those smart people say its so". Here's my part: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/SORCE/sorce_05.php There is a 5% error in our knowledge of the absorption of solar radiation and a 1% error would throw off all the climate models. So how sound is the evidence for the present consensus?
  11. Commonman313 asked "So how sound is the evidence for the present consensus?" A good answer is in Naomi Oreskes's "Consensus in Science: How Do We Know We're Not Wrong?".
  12. commonman313, at classroom level it might be true (although sad) that "they trust their professors and paid a high price for thier education". But here we are talking about a plethora of distinguished sscientists in many different fields; i strongly doubt that just "a very small minority actually go beyond their classroom assignments and validate for themselves". As for "your part", you are missing that what matters for the attribution studies are the trends, not the absolute values.
  13. Long ago, in post #150, hrnsoftware asked about the ozone layer. No one replied, so far I could tell, so I offer this site: www.themonitor.com/opinion/ozone-5103-depletion-protocol.html This might provide an answer to his/her question regarding recovery of the ozone hole and what effect the Montreal protocols had, or did not have, on it. I just stumbled on this site today, and I think it's marvelous. I'm not a scientist but I consider myself a logical thinker and I like a good argument. In the interest of transparency I acknowledge I'm a "denier" (some of us prefer "realist" per Frank Beckmann, WJR-Detroit). I like hearing opposing views. I'll check in as often as possible, but If I'm not careful, I could become addicted to the pheromones my brain produces by reading this site! Thx
  14. angeloftheknight, you might want to also read cce's The Global Warming Debate site, because it gives a broad overview. That background would help you better select which topics on this most excellent Skeptical Science site to focus on.
  15. neilperth, did you read the whole story of that paper? It goes exactly the opposite way.
  16. While I agree that there is consensus I have another argument (used by several guys) for you to debunk: Science is not about consensus.
  17. Decliner, the role of consensus is addressed in Naomi Oreskes's "Consensus in Science: How Do We Know We're Not Wrong?".
  18. Tom Dayton: Thank you. Please don't get me wrong - it's not an argument which i endorse (While a consensus doesn't prove something the existence of it doesn't prove its opposite). I just stumbled across it several times reading conservative authors (like the guy who got parodised on southpark recently), so I think it would deserve its own page. :)
  19. Tom: Ah, yes, it's adressed in the pdf. "Opposite is true: Science is precisely about consensus, because consensus is the result of the application of community standards." By community standards he seems to refer to Thomas Kuhn, (someone I wouldn't cite if I wanted to be taken seriously). Still the sentence doesn't make much sense to me. the counter-argument would go more like: "the fact that there is consensus is just an answer to those sceptics arguing that there is no consensus. It was the sceptic side that brought up the subject." btw. did you realize that Naomi Oreske used an image taken from climate audit? Climate audit states that this graph was made by data which was lost, so its validity can't be controlled. Isn't it strange that someone would take this into a pdf as a prove? Also the argument "The contrarianclaims are the ones that fail peer review" ain't fair.
  20. decliner #194: Naomi Oreske is a "she," not a "he." Oreske was not referencing Kuhn as argument from authority to support her contention that science includes application of community standards. Instead she was: (1) Tipping her hat to him as one of the earliest people who did the most to get widespread recognition of that fact. (2) Shortening her presentation and preventing it from diverging from its overall purpose, by using "Kuhn" and "community" as shorthand for a large body of literature--certainly not all written by Kuhn. (3) Pointing to a path for anyone who wants to learn more or even disagree with that particular point. For example, you can simply search the internet for "science Kuhn community standards" to find a large number of discussions such as, oh, just for instance the second hit from Google: a paper by Duffy Hutcheon. Those three purposes of Oreske's reference to Kuhn are standard in scientific writing. So your blanket dismissal of her reference to Kuhn is inappropriate. But no harm, no foul, since you aren't a working scientist, you wouldn't have known that. You don't need to invoke Kuhn to support the importance of consensus in science. The history of scientific practice shows unequivocally that convincing other scientists is a core part of what working scientists actually do. And "science is what scientists do." (Search the internet for that phrase.) The reason is that science is about making decisions, and human judgment is needed to make those decisions. Most AGW deniers who object to consensus being important, have gotten their idea of science from lower-level classes (even introductory college classes have this problem, it's sad to say) that focus on narrow, purely experimental, methods that are used to address narrow hypotheses, rather than on all the research methods that are used (e.g., quasi-experimentation), and ignoring the theories and theoretical frameworks in the large. Thus the deniers' focus on narrow interpretations of falsification in the context of pure experiments. No matter how foolproof a conclusion seems, it might be wrong, and the best way to find out is to have a motley gang of experts try their damnedest with motley approaches to show it is wrong. The survival of that conclusion despite that battering is good evidence for its soundness. It is an incontrovertible fact that this is how scientists actually work. Go to a conference and see the arguments in the halls (and especially the bars afterward!). Read the articles and notice how common the disagreements are. Look behind the journal editorial curtain to see the drama and contention over article submissions' consideration for publication. Contention is good for science; contention is one of the core aspects of what scientists do, and therefore of science. That's why scientists encourage contention. An example is Gavin Schmidt's remark about the recent Lindzen and Choi paper:
    LC09 was not a nonsense paper -- that is, it didn't have completely obvious flaws that should have been caught by peer review (unlike say, McLean et al, 2009 or Douglass et al, 2008). Even if it now turns out that the analysis was not robust, it was not that the analysis was not worth trying, and the work being done to re-examine these questions is a useful contribution to the literature--even if the conclusion is that this approach to the analysis is flawed. More generally, this episode underlines the danger in reading too much into single papers. For papers that appear to go against the mainstream (in either direction), the likelihood is that the conclusions will not stand up for long, but sometimes it takes a while for this to be clear. Research at the cutting edge -- where you are pushing the limits of the data or theory -- is like that. If the answers were obvious, we wouldn't need to do the research.
  21. decliner #194 wrote "Also the argument 'The contrarian claims are the ones that fail peer review' ain't fair." It certainly is fair! Peer review is phase 1 of scientists' "battering" on conclusions, that I mentioned in my previous comment. That's one of the things Gavin was commenting on, in his quote that I included at the end of my previous comment. The issue is not just any given submission's failure to make it into one given journal. In all scientific fields, a fair number of papers that eventually turn out to be correct and highly valuable are rejected by several journals before finally being accepted by one. That is frustrating (to say the least!) for those authors, but we (working scientists) don't consequently dismiss the entire scientific publication system as a consequence, because we very much value the quality filtering that usually works well, and because we know that conclusions that are correct eventually will make it through peer review. What's telling about AGW deniers' "work" is that it fails to pass peer review ever. It consistently fails to pass the very first quality filter.
  22. decliner, Sometimes you'll see someone respond to deniers' claim that science requires proof rather than consensus, with the response "Proof is used in math, not in science." But even that response is not correct, because mathematicians also rely heavily on consensus. They, too, rely on peer review, because they, too, require human judgment of whether a purported proof is correct.
  23. decliner wrote "did you realize that Naomi Oreske used an image taken from climate audit? Climate audit states that this graph was made by data which was lost, so its validity can't be controlled. Isn't it strange that someone would take this into a pdf as a prove?" That is off-topic for this thread, but if you can find the place where ClimateAudit makes that claim (I couldn't find it in the mere 10 seconds I looked), you might post a question about it in the SkepticalScience post Can you make a hockey stick without tree rings? if the purportedly lost data are temperature data, or in There’s no correlation between CO2 and temperature if the purportedly lost data are CO2 data.
  24. "one of the earliest people who did the most to get widespread recognition of that fact." I know, I just think it's obvious that Kuhn got it wrong. You're absolutely right, I'm not a scientist, but I know philosophy of science rather good. To say Kuhn is an expert in that field would be like saying Justin Timberlake is one of the great modern Artists. Happily the ubiquitous misunderstanding of philosophy of science by some scientists doesn't harm the quality of their work. I basically agree about consensus being important. But still, consensus isn't the reason why science tells me there is AGW, it's the other way round, there is consensus because of the scientists understanding of the facts. "It certainly is fair!" Oh, yes, it is. My bad. Still the foia-emails show the peer-system somewhat being corrupted. "require human judgment" Yes, but that human judgement is not achieved by consensus. consensus is achieved by human judgement. human judgement being a diffuse term for the application of rational reasoning leading to prove. "the best way to find out is to have a motley gang of experts try their damnedest with motley approaches to show it is wrong." While this is true, I don't think this was at every time the attitude of leading climate scientiest. One doesn't need to be a sceptic to be concerned about how Mann and others reacted to criticism, wouldn't you agree? "That is off-topic for this thread" Every single sentence i wrote on this thread could be labeled off-topic. :) But thank you. I will post there.
  25. decliner, your complete dismissal of Kuhn's knowledge of philosophy of science belies your claim that you know philosophy of science "rather good" [sic].

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