The 97% consensus - cracks in the facade

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The claim that there is a 97% consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming is a crock. Talk about bad science. Richard Tol has an excellent take-down at the UK Guardian:

The claim of a 97% consensus on global warming does not stand up
Dana Nuccitelli writes that I “accidentally confirm the results of last year’s 97% global warming consensus study”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I show that the 97% consensus claim does not stand up.

At best, Nuccitelli, John Cook and colleagues may have accidentally stumbled on the right number.

Cook and co selected some 12,000 papers from the scientific literature to test whether these papers support the hypothesis that humans played a substantial role in the observed warming of the Earth. 12,000 is a strange number. The climate literature is much larger. The number of papers on the detection and attribution of climate change is much, much smaller.

Cook’s  sample is not representative. Any conclusion they draw is not about “the literature” but rather about the papers they happened to find.

Most of the papers they studied are not about climate change and its causes, but many were taken as evidence nonetheless. Papers on carbon taxes naturally assume that carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming – but assumptions are not conclusions. Cook’s claim of an increasing consensus over time is entirely due to an increase of the number of irrelevant papers that Cook and co mistook for evidence.

The abstracts of the 12,000 papers were rated, twice, by 24 volunteers. Twelve rapidly dropped out, leaving an enormous task for the rest. This shows. There are patterns in the data that suggest that raters may have fallen asleep with their nose on the keyboard. In July 2013, Mr Cook claimed to have data that showed this is not the case. In May 2014, he claimed that data never existed.

A bit more:

Cook tried to validate the results by having authors rate their own papers. In almost two out of three cases, the author disagreed with Cook’s team about the message of the paper in question.

Attempts to obtain Cook’s data for independent verification have been in vain. Cook sometimes claims that the raters are interviewees who are entitled to privacy – but the raters were never asked any personal detail. At other times, Cook claims that the raters are not interviewees but interviewers.

Spot on. This is a meme that needs to die. It's originators need to be publicly shamed - tared and feathered. Science needs to be restored to its un-tarnished glory.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on June 6, 2014 11:03 AM.

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