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Visually depicting the disconnect between climate scientists, media and the public

Posted on 1 August 2010 by John Cook

Matthew Glover at Renegade Conservatory Guy has created a telling visual on the disconnect between the scientific consensus on global warming, how the media portray the science and subsequent public opinion:

As there's plenty of detail, there's also a PDF version of the graphic (the above graphic also links directly to the PDF). The PDF also includes hyperlinks to the peer-reviewed papers where Matthew got his figures. While the graphic is quite simple and clear in how it presents the data, there's plenty of meat in there to chew over. Discuss...

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Comments 51 to 85 out of 85:

  1. Had a sim through the poptech list, noted the publications include: The Electricity Journal New Zealand Geographer Irrigation and Drainage Iron & Steel Technology Nordic Hydrology Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology New Concepts In Global Tectonics Weather ICE - Civil Engineering Hungarian Meteorological Service Monthly Weather Review Energy Policy Economic Affairs Economic Analysis and Policy Energy Fuels Area Social Studies of Science Regulation Journal of Forestry Public Administration Review Journal of Chemical Education Journal of Cosmology The Review of Economics and Statistics Malaria Journal Weather and Forecasting Journal of the American Water Resources Association Leadership and Management in Engineering Environmental Politics Society The Independent Review World Economics New Literary History Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics Waste Management The Cato Journal Economics Bulletin World Economics Economic Affairs Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law and of course E&E
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  2. Poptech at 03:51 AM on 3 August, 2010 Poptech at 08:48 AM on 3 August, 2010 As robhon has pointed out "quality" certainly isn't subjective. The assessment of “quality” is made in relation to specific criteria, but these criteria can be objectively defined (they may have fuzzy edges!), especially so for science (and why bring "modern art" into it!?). Here’s a relevant real world example: At the moment the entire UK academic research community is gearing up to the latest of its periodic “research assessment exercises (“RAE”; though this is now called “REF”!). This is an assessment of a department's research quality and is not a notional exercise; the results of REF determine how major elements of government funding are allocated to Universities; REF matters and it matters a lot. How is research quality assessed? A major element is the quality of publications. Each and every research-active researcher in every scientific department in every University in the UK will be submitting their “best” four publications for the period (start 2008 to end 2011). How is the “quality” of a paper assessed? This can be done reasonably objectively in two ways. Scientific journals are ranked within subjects according to their impact factor (average # of times papers in that journal are cited within 2 or 3 years of publication; other defined criteria can be used); papers that have been in print sufficiently long can be assessed in terms of the number of times the specific paper has been cited by others. Each of these is recognised to be an objective measure of research quality (clearly in order to publish a highly cited paper in a good journal I will likely have obtained funding, have done a significant body of research on an important problem and produced a piece of work of high quality). Note that commentaries and reviews don’t count (one can say whatever one likes in a commentary, these are usually not peer reviewed and reviews themselves are not a necessary indicator of research quality). It’s obvious that major elements of UK government funding (and academic and industrial scientific appointments throughout the world) are based on research and publication quality, and that these have definable and objective assessment criteria (even if we may consider that the metrification of quality has gone rather too far). I can understand why you feel the need to downplay what are very obvious real world criteria of research and publication quality. Your odd list of disparate bits and pieces including numerous commentaries in various magazines, duplicated entries and articles that simply don’t correspond to your criterion (“supporting scepticism of man made global warming alarm”) is astonishingly low on quality. That's an objective interpretation based on real world and definable criteria.
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  3. Poptech #62 In some sense everything is subjective. A call for solipsism will not get you very far. The rest of your latest comment is more of the LALALA I CAN"T HEAR YOU stuff we're used to. canbanjo's #61 post is very informative about the quality of your list. Consider my discussion with you finished as you clearly only have one point to make, you do not make it well, and you make it repetitiously.
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  4. Sorry, dud link: Solipsism.
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  5. Chris... I actually brought up the issue of modern (i.e., 20th century) art. My point was that quality, even in a highly aesthetic field, is not subjective. Maybe Poptech's gramma likes different art than I do, but if you take a sampling of artist and art critics you can create a clear definition of quality. I took a lot of art history classes in college (they were some of my favorite courses) and I can tell you, almost the same way Toyota can and does lay out parameters for what constituted quality in a vehicle, the art world does the same for art. Just because gramma likes your 7 year old niece's paintings (subjectivity) does not mean it is a masterpiece (quality). And because that same niece has painted 6000 of these works (quantity) also does not mean they are great works. Subjectivity is a way of personally quantifying how much you like something. Quality if a broader measure of how well work is executed and stands up to time.
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  6. It might be worth adding that whenever any of us goes for a job interview, our interviewers are very likely to have drawn up an explicit list of the attributes they seek in an individual, in terms of relevant experience and evidence of past success and productivity, appropriate personal skills and attributes and so on. Interviewees are asessed on quality in relation to the specific criteria relating to the objectively-defined requirements of the interviewers (that's not to suggest that some seemingly subjective elements won't come into play since personal relationships are involved!). We can pretend that quality can't be objectively defrined (according to specified criteria). But in the real world we know better... ...of course if we are talking about "quality" in modern art, things are a little more difficult, and the criteria for assessing quality will be necessarily less objective ('specially if you're a bit of a philistine like me and not too impressed with Tracy's unmade beds and elephant poo). But why bring up modern art when we're talking about science? It's silly to suggest that the quality of science and scientific publications can't be objectively defined...
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  7. robhon at 09:24 AM on 3 August, 2010 ...ooops, didn't catch your post robhon (you brought up modern art!). Never mind. However difficult it might be to assess the quality of modern art, we can certainly assess objectively the quality of science and scientific publications ...
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  8. If 137 is the numerator and the total number of universities and libraries is the denominator, in what fraction of universities and libraries may E&E be found? And how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
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  9. Chris... Quality is really not so hard to determine in modern art. Quality is not a subjective measure of art. If you put a painting in front of a dozen professional artists and art critics you will get very consistent answers about whether it is a quality work or not. In fact, in many cases it can be shocking how consistently this works. But the thing is, you have to be trained. You have to know the field very very well. In science it would work the same way. The people best suited to evaluate the quality of a paper are going to be peers in the same or similar fields.
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  10. A few objective measures of quality in modern art? A unique approach. Something not done before. A sense of place within historical context. How does the work fit within the context of other artists past and present? An understanding and creative use of color, color balance. An understanding and creative use of composition. A genuine exploration of the media. Pushing boundaries. Personality. The work has life to it. That's a few. For someone in the field of art these are very distinct and clear measures.
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  11. Poptech... Not at all! Go to any high end art gallery and put that list in front of them and see if they agree.
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  12. In fact, being professionals in the field they'll likely add about a dozen more to the list.
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  13. robhon #21:
    ...the response rate of the questionaire would have no bearing on the poll results. The sample size is large enough...
    It's not the sample size, but whether it is random. It is not random. Once the participants can decide who is qualified to answer, and the authors can decide which views are in and which are out, it becomes an merely exercise in propaganda. Anyhow, you burst your own bubble when you said that art quality can be objectively agreed upon by consensus. Maybe in Communist countries where a board of culture decides what's right; but not here in the West.
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  14. Stylo, are you speaking of Doran? Would you mind rephrasing your objections from a survey methodology perspective? You can find Doran's paper here (full text pdf).
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  15. Great work! At last you got WUWT to acknowledge your existence: http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/08/97-consensus-is-only-76-self-selected.html
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  16. GC, it never fails to astound me how gullible those folks are. Perhaps they should spend a little less time backslapping and a little more reading papers, such as Doran's for instance. "76 self-selected" zooming round the world nearly at Big C, or at least as fast as the packets can be crammed through fiber and routers. Tsk-tsk.
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  17. Poptech you have already confirmed your list is not about quality. Its a numbers game. Very clever mind if what you seek is attention.
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  18. Poptech asserted : "JMurphy, I have no idea why you keep repeating the same lie about authors protesting the list, as no author has protested the list." It's a shame that these have to be produced yet again : A quick count shows that they have 21 papers on the list by me and/or my father. Assuming that these are Hypothesis 1 type bloggers they'd better change that to 429 papers, as their list doesn't represent what they think it does. Roger Pielke Jr There is nothing in my writing that fits in this category. If they sopport _your_ skepticism then I suggest retitling the post to be: "450 Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting My Skepticism of "Man-Made" Global Warming" Roger Pielke Jr Re: The 450 papers list I just noticed I’m the lead author on one of the papers on the list. I have absolutely no idea how that paper could be construed as “skeptical of man-made global warming.” I have no idea how it could be construed as saying anything at all about man-made global warming. Harold Brooks But we all know the drill now : Poptech knows better than the original authors. Round and round and round...ad nauseum.
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  19. doug_bostrom, #77, From Doran:
    An invitation to participate in the survey was sent to 10,257 Earth scientists. ....With 3146 individuals completing the survey, the participant response rate for the survey was 30.7%.
    Voluntary response; not a random sample. They also whittle it to 8.5% (climate scientists) + 5% (publish in climate science) of the 30.7% who responded. 12.5% times 30.7% is 3.8% of the original. It's not really surprising that those who have the most to gain from actively publishing in a field promote the scare hardest.
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  20. Poptech, OK so you have added the word 'alarm' to the title of your list. I understand you are not questioning AGW evidence. I would still really appreciate it if you could identify the most persuasive papers that show that we do not need to be alarmed by AGW. Otherwise it is difficult to be convinced. Thanks
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  21. Stylo... Regarding consensus on quality in art. I would highly suggest that you take a course or two in art history. You may have subjective opinions about different styles or pieces of art, but the art world overall is very consistent and objective about what constitutes quality. But the broader point here is that quality is not a subjective matter. If you have a product that is a piece of crap you are highly unlikely to have two people look at it and get two subjective opinions on whether it is of good or poor quality.
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  22. Stylo @ #82... I would also suggest you spend some time looking at how polls are crafted and executed. When Gallup does a phone poll they get a small response rate relative to the number of calls they make. Those individuals who agree to take the poll are "self selecting" on a voluntary basis. Not a random sample. From there the responses are broken down into smaller constituent parts. Go look at some of the polling agencies out there. Usually polls consist of between 500 to 2000 responses. That is what determines the margin of error for the polls. Doran 2009 is well within a normal response rate and a normal margin of error for a quality poll. As we've look at this issue from many sides we keep coming up on similar figures. Doran comes up with 97%. Anderegg comes up with the same number. And even in our conversations with Poptech here, we're coming up with potentially a similar ratio of papers. As I see it, we're building multiple lines of evidence that are pointing to the same answer.
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  23. Stylo you're not producing a useful critique. From your remarks it's pretty clear you don't know about survey methodology, you're instead wading into another area of expertise you're missing and pronouncing unfounded judgments. This is a really conspicuous pattern among contrarians. Airily dismissing multiple scientific disciplines to harbor a cherished belief is not a viable argument.
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  24. FWIW, Real Climate has an interesting post from Anderegg et al., here. The Yooper
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  25. John Chapman @32 The figure I've seen is 12,944,000 scientists in the U.S., if you use the same criteria to define scientist as they use to get 32,000 skeptics. The 32,000 skeptics amount to 0.24 percent of the total. Maybe 150 are actually climate scientists. which is 0.3% of the 50,000 members of the AGU in Europe and the U.S., "Scrutinizing the 31,000 scientists in the OISM Petition Project" http://www.skepticalscience.com/scrutinising-31000-scientists-in-the-OISM-Petition-Project.html
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  26. For what it's worth, any possibly substantial quibbles with the Anderegg paper are much narrower than what poptech mentions. There's an interesting and informative thread at RealClimate on Anderegg's limitations: Expert Credibility in Climate Change – Responses to Comments on the topic. A fellow going by the handle of "RomanM" appears to bring up the sole possibly serious issue. There's no agreement on whether his point is truly valid, though it would be interesting to see the analysis redone using his suggestions. It's also fairly clear that a redo using RomanM's take won't change the results much. I personally find it really interesting see how vigorously the notion of lack of consensus is defended by contrarians. They've highlighted and even could be said to have synthesized this matter and now when the concept comes under serious attack they're amazingly keen to defend their construction. The time could be better spent doing science on the core issue as opposed to meta-science, but contrarians did insist, after all. Expect more on the topic, creating an entire subdomain of contrarianism as we appear to see emerging even now.
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  27. Poptech, did you notice that Anderegg et al are actually paying attention to the RealClimate thread? Forgetting for a moment that you're apparently the only person carrying the "can't use google scholar torch," why are you over here endlessly repeating yourself when your chance to have your concerns addressed is over at RealClimate? If you're actually concerned about improving things, jump on over to RealClimate and have at it. You've got your golden opportunity, use it. Failing that, readers here are going to be left with only the conclusion that you're trying to create and preserve an impression without bothering to exploit a rare opportunity for dialog, for whatever reason.
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  28. RealClimate have censored my comments... I have no interest in improving their worthless paper because you can't, it is flawed by design. If I squint at that really hard, I get some clue as to what the problem may be with you having your remarks appear at RealClimate. They're pretty slack but everybody has limits.
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  29. Poptech, it is quite inappropriate to ask non-experts in art how quality is defined in art. Is there any art experts here? I dont know, but if one decided to answer I am pretty sure that expert would be able to give you a list of requirements. I would most likely not understand those requirements or how to evaluate them - would you? Every specialist is train in their own field of expertise and know how to evaluate quality objectively in their own field. I know how to evaluate quality in my own filed of expertise, and I can assure you measuring quality is not a matter of subjective opinions but a quantitative process everyone can agree on. We may think experts in other fields are making subjective measurement of quality but that is only because we do not understand on what technical ground they made their evaluation.
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  30. Poptech wrote : "JMurphy, Pielke Jr. explicitly stated that if the list was only about papers that reject AGW than his do not belong, this is not the case as I explained on his blog. His papers support skepticism of the negative environmental or economic effects of AGW and thus warrant inclusion, the same with Brooks." Yes, of course. Despite what those two had to say about the inclusion of their work on your little list ("There is nothing in my writing that fits in this category" & "I have no idea how it could be construed as saying anything at all about man-made global warming"), you have "explained" to Pielke on his blog, and "the same with Brooks", and therefore you think you know best. Hmm, let me do a search to find where the two of them state "Ah yes, Professor Poptech, you are right and we were wrong. Forgive us. Our papers are against AGW (alarmist or not) after all and we thank you for enlightening us. May we pass on all our pre-publication papers to you, so you can determine how anti-AGW (alarmist or not) they are ? Thank you in advance, if you can spare the time." No, nothing's coming back. Can you provide those links to them accepting your interpretation ? Thanks in advance - if you can spare the time.
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