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Gigafact and Skeptical Science collaborate to create fact briefs

Posted on 6 April 2024 by BaerbelW, John Mason

If "Fact Briefs" ring a bell you are correct; we published 16 fact briefs a few years ago in collaboration with Repustar. We're happy to announce our restarting the creation of fact briefs together with Gigafact, a nonprofit equipping newsrooms to counter misinformation and protect the democratic process. The technology solution and concepts for Gigafact were actually incubated and tested within Repustar before becoming its own entity.

Gigafact logo

Our plan is to leverage the work we've been doing in the course of the ongoing rebuttal update project by creating fact briefs for already updated rebuttals, which now feature new at-a-glance sections. We'll also check if any of the already available fact briefs need updates, and include them in the weekly fact brief publications. One challenge will be to reword our myth titles to a question which can be answered with either "Yes" or "No". But even more daunting is the restriction that a fact brief can only have 150 words! It'll be interesting to see how that will work out— especially for some of the quite involved rebuttals we have out there!

Gigafact also offers two neat functionalities we plan to explore: a Tipline where items in need of some debunking can be suggested, and a Quiz where fact briefs and their answers are utilized in short quizzes with a few questions each.

We will publish one fact brief per week - most likely on Saturdays - and will also share them on our various social media channels. So, please keep an eye out and feel free to like and share them as you come across any of our fact briefs!

First new fact brief created as part of this re-newed collaboration

FactBriefSkeptical Science is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. This fact brief was written by Sue Bin Park in collaboration with members from our Skeptical Science team. You can submit claims you think need checking via the tipline.

Was an Ice Age predicted in the 1970s?

no Most peer-reviewed climate science papers published from 1965-1979 predicted global warming, not cooling.

While many popular media outlets claimed the approach of an ice age, a 2008 review of 1960s-70s climate science papers found that research stated otherwise. 62% predicted warming, 10% predicted cooling, and 28% did not take a stance.

There had been some notably cold Northern Hemisphere winters through this time. Scientists now understand that a leading cause of the cold conditions was aerosol smog pollution. Aerosols block sunshine, reducing the amount of energy reaching Earth's surface. They are also a serious health hazard. When they were reduced through regulation, global temperatures resumed their climb, from the 1970s onwards.

This decline is driven by increasing global temperatures from human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. While a 2017 study suggested that between 30% and 50% of the observed melting is due to natural causes, one of its authors stated that “anthropogenic forcing is still dominant,” whereas “natural variability...helped accelerate this melting.”

Today, 97% of climate scientists agree that global warming is real and largely caused by human carbon dioxide emissions.

Go to full rebuttal on Skeptical Science or to the fact brief on Gigafact

This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


American Meteorological Society The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus

RealClimate Four surface-station based estimates of global warming since 1880

IOP Science Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature

About fact briefs published on Gigafact

Fact briefs are short, credibly sourced summaries that offer “yes/no” answers in response to claims found online. They rely on publicly available, often primary source data and documents. Fact briefs are created by contributors to Gigafact — a nonprofit project looking to expand participation in fact-checking and protect the democratic process. See all of our fact briefs published on Gigafact here or visit our overview page.

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Comments 1 to 3:

  1. I suspect the % of climate scientists agreeing that global warming is real and human-caused is now, in 2024, much closer to 100% than when the 97% measurement was made.

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  2. Joel @1 ,

    like you, I strongly suspect that a new survey, of scientific papers published in the last 5 years, would show a 99+% figure "agreement".   The original gold standard ( the Cook study of 2013 ) was in a large number of papers ~ with a median date approx 2005  [note: approx date only; I haven't summed it precisely].   So that's a median date 15-20 years ago.   Almost ancient history !

    But that would be on evidence in published papers ~ and it might be a point or two lower in casual conversation with climate-related scientists.   Casual conversations or anonymous surveys of "opinion" , where other somewhat emotional factors come into play.

    Emotions were very evident in a survey of (IIRC) metorologists in the USA last decade ~ where only 90% were in "agreement".  Presumably the outlier 10% could not produce scientific evidence to support their position . . . but they could express a (casual) opinion that fitted with their rather extremist political affiliation.  A tribal vote, of sorts.

    None of all this could be pointed out in a 150-word bite.

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  3. Right on the money, Eclectic. 150 words is a tall order and every single one has to be considered. There's one in the pipeline on the topic of consensus where this area can be considered with more detail.

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