Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who are the climate change skeptics?

One of the courses I took this semester was a seminar on the human dimensions of climate change, a geography course that briefly looked at the scientific evidence for climate change and then focused primarily on the social science aspects of the problems of mitigation and adaptation. The paper I wrote for the class was about the philosophical problem of how a layman can identify relevant expertise and evaluate the debate without being an expert, by looking at features such as relevance of expertise, consensus within fields, credentials and institutions, track records, logical validity and cogency of arguments, and so forth, and then applying these criteria to the IPCC scientists vs. the climate change skeptics.

What follows is a list of some of the organizations promoting skepticism about anthropogenic climate change and some of the individuals associated with them, with some information about their credentials and activities. It's my impression that those with the best reputations tend to agree that there is a global warming trend and that human emissions of greenhouse gases are a contributing factor to that warming, but the organizations tend to promote a more skeptical view (fairly characterized as "denial"), as exhibited by such evidence as expressions of apparent pleasure at the recent 2009 Pew survey result that showed a decrease in American acceptance of global warming.

Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC)
One comparison I made was between the scientists of the IPCC and the scientists of the NIPCC, a group sponsored by The Heartland Institute. I compared the fourth-most-cited paper of the top 83 scientists of the former to the fourth-most-cited paper of all of the 2008 NIPCC participants, using Jim Prall's excellent website of citation counts for climate scientists. Of the 619 scientists of the AR4 (2007) Working Group 1 on the physical science basis of climate change, the top 83 each have more than 200 citations to their fourth-most-cited paper. There are only thirteen climate skeptics with that level of citation, most of whom received those citations for papers having nothing to do with climate science, and none of whom were involved with the 2008 NIPCC report. (In 2009, William Gray, who is in that category, participated in a second NIPCC meeting, but I didn't review that for my paper.)

The top scientist of the 2008 NIPCC report with publications containing the word "climate," the organizer and editor of the report, S. Fred Singer, has 31 citations to his fourth-most-cited paper. He's a retired physics professor (Ph.D. earned in 1948) who is not only a skeptic about climate change but about the health effects of second-hand smoke, the link between CFCs and the ozone hole, and has received tobacco and oil company funding for his work. His name pops up frequently when it comes to attempts by corporations to block environmental regulation. There were 24 participants listed as authors on the 2008 NIPCC report, six of whom have no academic credentials or affiliations and no published academic work of relevance to the climate change debate (Dennis Avery, Christopher Monckton, Kenneth Haapala, Warren Anderson, Klaus Heiss, and Anton Uriarte). The top-cited scientist, Lubos Motl, has 150 citations for his fourth-most-cited paper, but he's a theoretical physicist with no publications containing the word "climate." The next guy after Singer, George Taylor, has an M.S. in meteorology and 25 citations for his fourth-most-cited paper. There are a few people on the list with relevant credentials, but none are top names in climate science. The majority with scientific credentials have little or no relevant expertise, like Fred Goldberg, with a Ph.D. in welding technology, and Tom Segalstad, a mineralogist with a Ph.D. in geology.

It should be noted that the climate skeptics with the best credentials in climate science tend to be participants in the IPCC process, such as John R. Christy, who was a lead author on the Working Group 1 reports in 2001 and 2007. Robert Balling of ASU has also participated in the IPCC process, and despite being often regarded as a skeptic, agrees that there is global warming and that it has a human component, and told me that the IPCC report is the best place for the layman to find accurate information about climate science (see my summary of his recent talk at ASU).

The Heartland Institute
The Heartland Institute, founded in 1984, was the sponsor of the NIPCC (above) and has its own category at this blog. Between 1998 and 2005, it received $561,500 in funding from ExxonMobil, 40% of which was designated for climate science opposition (see the Union of Concerned Scientists Exxon report (PDF)). In April 2008, it published a list of “500 Scientists With Documented Doubts of Man-Made Global Warming Scares” compiled by Dennis Avery, participant in NIPCC and co-author of a 2007 anti-AGW book with S. Fred Singer which attributes periodic warming to a 1500-year solar cycle. The publication of this list resulted in protests from 45 scientists on the list who stated that they are not AGW opponents and requested that their names be removed. Rather than remove the scientists from the list, The Heartland Institute changed the title of the list to “500 Scientists Whose Research Contradicts Man-Made Global Warming Scares." The Heartland Institute's list of 138 climate change experts contains many individuals with no relevant expertise or credentials.

Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
Singer has another organization devoted to arguing against human-caused climate change, the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), which he founded in 1990. That organization also opposes the ban on CFCs and other EPA regulations. There are nine people listed on SEPP's board of science advisors, of which five are dead (Gerholm, Higatsberger, Mitchell, Nierenberg, and Starr). Ames is a well-known scientist in his field, molecular genetics, which has nothing to do with climate change. The others with the most citations are elderly or dead physicists (Starr, 1935 physics Ph.D.; Böttcher, 1947 physics Ph.D.; and Mitchell, 1951 physics Ph.D.). The rest have only single-digit citations to their fourth-most-cited paper.

George C. Marshall Institute
The George C. Marshall Institute was founded in 1984 to support Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, but since 1989 has been active in opposing AGW. The current board of directors, according to its website, are William Happer (Princeton physics professor), William O’Keefe (former executive VP and COO of the American Petroleum Institute and president of a consulting company), Gregory Canavan (physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory), John H. Moore (former president of Grove City College, former economics professor, and former Deputy Director of the NSF), Rodney W. Nichols (former president of the New York Academy of Sciences), Milan Nikolich (electrical engineering Ph.D., a nuclear weapons program consultant associated with CACI, a defense contractor), and Roy Spencer (climate scientist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville). Of these, only Spencer, who is also a Bible-believing anti-evolutionist, has a climate science background. (Happer is a highly-cited particle physicist.) The George C. Marshall Institute has published works by some of the more reputable AGW opponents with a high level of citations for their fourth-most-cited publication--e.g., Richard Lindzen of MIT (274), Roger A. Pielke, Sr. (129), Roy Spencer (124), and John R. Christy (88). Others with relevant credentials but not quite the high level of citations include Patrick Michaels (37), Robert Balling (29), and Timothy Ball (8). The George C. Marshall Institute has also published and promoted the work of Stephen McIntyre of the ClimateAudit blog, a former mineral exploration executive with a bachelor's degree in mathematics, and economist Ross McKitrick.

Former George C. Marshall Institute executive director Matthew Crawford left the organization after five months when, he said, he realized it was “more fond of some facts than others” and that his job “consisted of making arguments about global warming that just happened to coincide with the positions taken by the oil companies that funded the think tank” (Carolyn Mooney, "A Hands-On Philosopher Argues for a Fresh Vision of Manual Work" (PDF), The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 15, 2009).

Cato Institute
The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded in 1977 by Edward Crane and Charles Koch. Charles and David Koch are co-owners of Koch Industries, which is one of the largest privately owned companies in the U.S. (often #2, but has occasionally been #1). Koch Industries has major holdings in petroleum, natural gas, and coal. Patrick Michaels (already mentioned in connection with the George C. Marshall Institute) is the Cato Institute Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies and their only climate science expert on staff, though Cato has also published articles co-authored by Michaels and Robert Balling.

Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI)
The SPPI was founded in 1994 by chairman George Carlo, former assistant football coach for the Buffalo Bills who subsequently entered the public health field and earned a Ph.D. and law degree. He is an advocate for the view that cell phones cause substantial health risks, including cancer and autism. [That's a different SPPI; see John Mashey's comment below.] The SPPI’s chief science advisor is Willie Soon, a Harvard astrophysicist also associated with the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine (about which more will be said below). Other science advisors include William Kininmonth, Robert M. Carter, David Legates, Craig D. Idso, James J. O’Brien, and Joseph D’Aleo, all of whom except O’Brien and Legates were involved with the 2008 NIPCC report. The chief policy advisor is Sir Christopher Monckton, an AGW opponent from the UK with no relevant science credentials, also involved with the 2008 NIPCC report. Legates, the Delaware State Climatologist, was a commenter on Patrick Michaels' most recent climate change skepticism book at an event at the Cato Institute, and is a climate scientist whose fourth-most-cited paper has received 226 citations. D'Aleo, first director of meteorology for The Weather Channel, has a 1970 M.S. in meteorology and has not published any academic work since. Kininmonth, with an M.Sc. degree (not sure in what) was the former head of the Australian National Climate Center. Craig Idso has a Ph.D. in geography from Arizona State University and is founder and chairman of the board of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change; his fourth-most-cited paper has received 20 citations.

Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change
This is a small Phoenix-based nonprofit run by Craig Idso (chairman) and his father Sherwood B. Idso (president) which argues that increasing CO2 levels are beneficial. The organization has received $90,000 in funding from ExxonMobil. Both Idsos and Craig's brother Keith have also been on the payroll of the Western Fuels Association. Sherwood Idso, a 1968 physics Ph.D. who was a research physicist for the USDA's Agricultural Research Service at the U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory starting in 1967, has a fourth-most-cited scientific paper which has received 189 citations.

Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine (OISM)
The Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine (OISM), a private research organization run by Arthur Robinson and his two sons Noah and Zachary Robinson, was founded in 1980. The OISM faculty listed on their website are the three Robinsons, Martin D. Kamen (a deceased chemist), R. Bruce Merrifield (a deceased chemist), Fred Westall (a biochemistry professor), Carl Boehme (who has an M.S. in electrical engineering), and Jane Orient (a medical doctor). The OISM sells DVDs on “nuclear war survival skills” and civil defense, as well as a home schooling curriculum, and has taken over the publication of the late Petr Beckmann’s Access to Energy newsletter which defends nuclear energy and now also criticizes AGW. (Beckmann was a physicist who became an electrical engineering professor at the University of Colorado, and in addition to promoting nuclear energy also challenged Einstein’s relativity and published a journal for that purpose called Galilean Electrodynamics.)

The OISM Petition Project was set up to oppose U.S. ratification of the Kyoto Treaty and currently has over 31,000 signatures of Americans with degrees in a scientific subject. The initial call for signatures was sent out with a letter from Frederick Seitz while he was still president of the National Academies of Science, along with a 12-page “Research Review of Global Warming Evidence” by Arthur and Noah Robinson and Willie Soon which was formatted to look like a publication in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. The petition was originally billed as a “survey,” but it has not been reported how many solicitations were sent out compared to how many were returned, nor how many scientists disagreed with the statements on the petition (as pointed out by Gary Whittenberger in eSkeptic). The signature breakdown by level of education was 29% Ph.D., 22% M.S., 7% M.D. or D.V.M., and 41% B.S. or equivalent. By field, it was 12% earth science, 3% computer science or mathematics, 18% physics and aerospace sciences, 15% chemistry, 9% biology and agriculture, 10% medicine, and 32% engineering and general science. The percentage of Ph.D.s in relevant areas isn’t available, but it’s clear from the breakdown that at least two thirds have less than a Ph.D. and at least 80% do not have education in a relevant field. (Blogger Chris Colose has looked at a subsample of names on the petition, without finding any with climate-related publications.)

One of the other “faculty” at the OISM is Dr. Jane Orient, M.D., of Tucson, Arizona, whom I’ve heard speak in opposition to AGW. She is the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a conservative organization that publishes the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPANDS). This journal published an anti-AGW articles by Arthur Robinson, Noah Robinson, and Willie Soon (2007), and by Arthur Robinson, Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon, and Zachary Robinson (1998), as well as articles opposing vaccination of children, claiming that HIV is not the cause of AIDS, that homosexuality causes crime and disease, opposing fluoridation of water, accusing the FDA of fraud for banning DDT, and criticizing the theory of evolution (see evaluations by Kathleen Seidel and Orac). The Robinson et al. (1998) article is apparently a version of the article originally distributed with the Oregon Petition, and another anti-AGW article by the same authors was published in the journal Climate Research (Soon et al. 1998). Arthur Robinson has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Caltech and was an associate of Linus Pauling. Noah Robinson also has a chemistry Ph.D. from Caltech, and Zachary Robinson is a veterinarian with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. None has relevant climate science expertise.

Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas (1980 Ph.D., astrophysics) are astrophysicists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who study solar variability, both have also been associated with the George C. Marshall Institute and the Heartland Institute; Soon is the chief science advisor for the Science and Public Policy Institute (above). Baliunas received the Petr Beckmann Award for Scientific Freedom from Doctors for Disaster Preparedness (DDP), a group associated with OISM (Jane Orient is president of DDP). In 2003, Soon and Baliunas published an anti-AGW article (arguing that warming was due to solar variation) in Climate Research that led to protests from 13 of the authors cited that their work had been misrepresented and misused. Subsequently the new editor-in-chief, Hans van Storch, resigned along with two other editors when the publisher refused to print an editorial about improvements in the journal review process. Baliunas' fourth-most-cited paper has 230 citations; Soon’s has 68. Timothy J. Osborn and Keith R. Briffa (2006) repeated Soon and Baliunas’ methodology in a paper published in Science that did not reproduce their results. Osborn and Briffa are both climate scientists associated with the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University; Osborn's (1995 Ph.D., environmental sciences) fourth-most-cited paper has received 152 citations and Briffa's (1984 Ph.D., dendroclimatologist) has received 250.

I've given special attention to OISM and AAPS because of the extent of crankery associated with them.

Three Miscellaneous Items
My last three items are not organizations but are worthy of further note. (1) This year, S. Fred Singer circulated a petition to attempt to get the American Physical Society to revise its statement on global warming from being supportive of AGW to be in opposition to it. He collected 206 signatures from APS members, about 0.45% of its 47,000 members, and the petition was rejected. John Mashey analyzed the social network of the first 121 signers (PDF), and found that the initial signing clustered around the SEPP, the George C. Marshall Institute, the Heartland Institute, and the Cato Institute, along with other interesting demographic information. (2) Ian Plimer, a prominent Australian geologist, published a book in early 2009 opposing AGW, titled Heaven and Earth: Global Warming-The Missing Science. Plimer has in the past been an active public critic of creationism in Australia, and was criticized by me for using inaccurate and misleading claims in his arguments, and by me and Jeff Shallit for plagiarism in a prior book. Plimer’s new book has been similarly found to contain not only inaccurate statements and misrepresentations, but plagiarism. (3) The Center for Inquiry's Credibility Project was a review of the scientific credentials of the signers of global warming denier Sen. James Inhofe's Senate Minority Report on Global Warming, which found, similar to what I report above, that most of them have no relevant expertise or credentials.

Summary
The above doesn't demonstrate that climate skepticism is without merit, but it does demonstrate that there are reasons to be skeptical--and in many cases extremely skeptical--about some of the organizations and individuals promoting climate skepticism, independently of their arguments. In my view, the arguments for climate skepticism in most cases just increase the grounds for skepticism. I recommend the RealClimate blog and Skeptical Science blog as two good sources of information about those arguments.

To really dig into the details, read the IPCC WG-1 Report.

UPDATE: Also worthy of note is Wikipedia's list of scientific organizations which have issued statements on anthropogenic climate change. Noteworthy for its absence is any organization with a statement arguing against anthropogenic climate change; since 2007 only the American Association of Petroleum Geologists has had a noncommittal statement. Wikipedia also has a nice list of scientists who oppose the consensus views and what their actual positions are. (Like JFK assassination conspiracy theorists, they do not have a consensus view of their own.)

I also neglected to mention a paper that I cited in the paper I wrote for my climate change class, a 2008 study that examined 141 “English-language environmentally sceptical books published between 1972 and 2005” found that over 92% of them were connected to conservative think tanks, either published by them or authored by persons directly affiliated with them (Peter J. Jacques, Riley E. Dunlap, and Mark Freeman, "The organisation of denial: Conservative think tanks and environmental scepticism," Environmental Politics vol 17, no. 3, June 2008, pp. 349-385). In the above list, is there any organization or individual that does not come from a conservative or libertarian political ideology?

UPDATE (December 17, 2009): Other posts at this blog on climate change include:

"Climate Research Unit email scandal" (November 23, 2009)
"Roger Pielke Jr. on climate change adaptation" (November 7, 2009)
"Roger Pielke Jr. on climate change mitigation" (November 6, 2009)
"Robert Balling on climate change" (October 30, 2009)
"Ian Plimer on climate change" (May 22, 2009)
"Reason to be skeptical about anthropogenic climate change" (April 26, 2008)
"Garbage in on climate change measurement" (October 25, 2007)
"Lomborg, global warming, and opportunity costs" (September 15, 2007)
"The consensus for anthropogenic global warming" (August 19, 2007)
"David Friedman on global warming" (March 15, 2007)
"Taxonomy of questions about global warming" (March 13, 2007)

Among several others. Those who are accusing me of obvious liberal bias might want to take a look at these. I have my share of political biases, but I do my best to defer to the best arguments and evidence over political ideology.

UPDATE (December 19, 2009): Peter Staats, in the comments, suggested that belief in anthropogenic global warming is entrenched among scientists and will disappear as the older generation dies (citing Planck, whose point is also made in Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions). I responded that I thought he has it backwards--that AGW has become more and more supported, and the holdouts tend to be older, as some of the data about the anti-AGW organizations above already suggested. So I tested our respective hypotheses against Jim Prall's data, for IPCC WG1 scientists vs. the signatories of the AGW-skeptical documents. I looked at the average year of the last academic degree awarded, first for those with citation counts for their fourth-most-cited paper >= 200, then, since that was such a small sample for the climate skeptics, for citation counts >= 100, and then for all the 623 IPCC WG1 scientists vs. the 469 signatories of AGW-skeptical documents. Here are the results:

Citation counts of 4th-most-cited >= 200:
IPCC WG1: N=83, 12 w/o year, N=71, average year of last degree = 1981
Skeptics: N=13, 4 w/o year, N=9, average year of last degree = 1965

Citations counts of 4th-most-cited >=100:
IPCC WG1: N=201, 51 w/o year, N=150, average year of last degree = 1983
Skeptics: N=38, 15 w/o year, N=23, average year of last degree = 1968

All IPCC WG1 vs. AGW-skeptical document signers:
IPCC WG1: N=623, 208 w/o year, N=415, average year of last degree = 1989
Skeptics: N=469, 346 w/o year, N=123, average year of last degree = 1973

BTW, for this last group, there's more info on degree breakdowns than year of degree (note that those without degrees are excluded along with the n/a, no web, and no cv categories--there were several of those among the skeptics and one undergrad in the IPCC scientists, not counted here):

IPCC WG1 scientists:
N=504
Ph.D.: 474 (94.0%)
M.Sc.: 13 (2.6%)
Cand.: 5 (1.0%)
D.Sc.: 2 (0.4%)
D.Phil.: 2 (0.4%)
Sc.D.: 2 (0.4%)
C.Phys.: 2 (0.4%)
B.Sc.: 2 (0.4%)
And one each (0.2%) of Nobel laureates and Ph.Lic.

Skeptics:
N=322
Ph.D.: 254 (78.9%)
M.Sc.: 25 (7.8%)
B.Sc.: 13 (4.0%)
B.A.: 4 (1.2%)
M.S.: 3 (0.9%)
B.S.: 3 (0.9%)
M.D. and Ph.D.: 1 (0.3%)
And one each (0.3%) of M.D., D.Eng., Tekn.D., Dipl., M.Eng., M.A., P.E., Dipl.Bio., M.C., D.Env., B.E., R.P., "Doctorandus", B.S.E.E., Dip.ES., and J.D.

UPDATE (December 21, 2009): Theoretical physicist (a string theorist), former Harvard physics professor, and climate skeptic Lubos Motl, referred to above as the most-cited scientist involved with the 2008 NIPCC report, has just demonstrated the quality of his reasoning at his own blog. In a post about James Randi's expression of skepticism about AGW and his temporary (and quickly retracted) suggestion that the Oregon Petition Project seemed legitimate, Motl infers that this must have been the cause for Phil Plait being fired as president of JREF--an event which didn't happen. When Randi himself showed up to point out that Plait is still president of JREF and had already given notice of his departure at the end of the year prior to these events, Motl's response was "If you have been truly violently, physically blackmailed and harassed by the AGW fanatics, I could understand what you just wrote. If you were not, let me just state that in that case, you became a morally worthless human in my eyes." Way to be reasonable, Motl! He continues: "The 'denialist' dictionary you adopted and the attacks against the Oregon Petition are pretty disgusting."

UPDATE (December 25, 2009): I'm reading Steven Epstein's book, Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge, 1996, Berkeley: University of California Press, which I had previously read chapter 6 of for one of my classes. In ch. 4, "The Debate That Wouldn't Die," about Peter Duesberg and those who deny that HIV causes AIDS, I just read about Project Inform's "Discussion Paper #5" of 3 June 1992, which was titled "Who Are the HIV Heretics?", which sounds fairly analogous to the this blog post. I've not been able to find a copy online, but I would love to see that document.

Epstein, pp. 156-157:
The seriousness with which Project Inform took the resurgence of interest in the causation controversey was indicated by the publication in early June of a six-page 'Discussion Paper' devoted entirely to the topic. The report began by blasting the media for their irresponsibility and sensationalism. Why do reporters love the HIV dissenters? Why have they confused Montagnier's position with Duesberg's, despite Montagnier's own disavowals? "Apparently because it makes a good story--'Conventional Wisdom Is Wrong! Top Scientists in Error Ten Years! Secrets! Coverup! Big Business, Big Science Collusion!' ... Such is the sorry state of AIDS reporting in some circles today."

Focusing on four groups opposing the HIV hypothesis--the New York Native, Spin magazine, assorted journalists, and certain scientists--Project Inform was at pains to question the credibility of each and to uncover motivations for adopting heretical stances. ... In considering the fourth, crucial group of HIV dissenters--the scientists--Project Inform's report similarly emphasized the issue of credibility. Root-Bernstein "works in a field not directly related to AIDS" and "has not conducted or published any AIDS research other than editorials," yet "Spin calls him 'one of the leading AIDS researchers in the US.'" Kary Mullis, while "obviously a serious scientist," was similarly "an outsider to AIDS research"; furthermore, his PCR test "has, if anything, helped to bolster the case for HIV." Of all the heretical scientists, only Sonnabend "is professionally involved with AIDS," but "primarily as a clinician": "While Dr. Sonnabend has earned respect in many ways, his arguments against HIV are no more valid than the others."
...
In focusing on formal credentials, Project Inform walked a fine line. This, after all, was a grassroots organization staffed by self-educated AIDS experts; its executive director, before the epidemic came along, had been a business consultant. A big part of Project Inform's work involved disseminating highly technical knowledge about AIDS to laypeople in order to create what might be called a mass-based expertise. In its reckoning of the tokens of expertise, Project Inform was not about to argue that academic degrees or journal publications are everything. Lacking the right credentials, Peter Duesberg could still be considered an AIDS expert of sorts--but not in a way that would make him stand out from the crowd: "Perhaps his most relevant work is that he has studied the medical literature on AIDS (as have thousands of patients, physicians, and activists), and this qualifies as a form of expertise." But "Duesberg's supporters and the media spread misinformation when they present him as an 'AIDS researcher' in the sense that phrase is usually meant." His published writings on AIDS were "simply editorials."

Project Inform noted that there was a "legitimate" scientific question that had been "lost in the fog" generated by media fascination with Duesberg and other dissenters: How does HIV cause AIDS? Following the lead of Gallo and others, the report emphasized that pathogenesis was separate from etiology; while part one of the report was entitled "Is HIV the Cause of AIDS?" part two was called "How Does HIV Cause AIDS?"
There are lots of interesting parallels here, including political. Epstein notes (pp. 158-159) HIV dissenters and promoters of their views being libertarian (Charles Thomas) and conservative (Phillip Johnson, Bryan Ellison, Tom Bethell, Patrick Buchanan). Johnson, Bethell, and Buchanan are also anti-evolutionists; Bethell and Buchanan also deny that there's anthropogenic global warming.

UPDATE (December 28, 2009): The Center for Public Integrity's project, "The Climate Change Lobby," identifies who's lobbying the U.S. Congress on climate change.

UPDATE (January 3, 2010): This Republican Party PR firm memo from 2000 about how to "win" the global warming debate by continuing to stress uncertainty as the case for warming become stronger is interesting in its similarity to the Tobacco Institute's PR strategy about the evidence that smoking causes cancer.

UPDATE (January 5, 2010): Donald Gutstein's "This is How You Fuel a Community of Climate Deniers" covers similar ground to the above (with some familiar names), with a Canadian focus.

UPDATE (January 7, 2010): Jeffrey Masters' "The Skeptics vs. the Ozone Hole" shows how a similar debate came out in the 1970s, which included S. Fred Singer arguing that CFCs don't deplete the ozone layer. That article notes that Singer's atmospheric science work has been negligible since 1971.

116 comments:

James McComb said...

James Randi is a climate change "skeptic" !

Jim Lippard said...

More to come on that, I hear. It's unfortunate that he buys into the Oregon Petition Project (see original post).

Michael said...

I find it curious that one dimension of your review involves the frequency of citation ... when it appears that this very criterion was a focus of manipulation by those in the "pro-anthropogenic" camp.

I don't know to what extent these attempts were successful, but it is not hard to imagine that, if several leading scientists and editors, who channel both what is written, what is published, and thus necessarily, what is cited, could have a significant impact on this metric.

Did you try to compensate for the effects of this attempted manipulation? Is that even possible?

Any thoughts?

Mark said...

So I guess the alarmists are lilly white and can't be bought and paid for? Why don't write a paper on how much money Big Oil and Big Government gave to the alarmist camp? If your one-sided report were more balanced by doing the same analysis of the alarmist camp I would be inclined to give your assessment more credence. But your innate bias undercuts your whole argument. BTW for a bit of context on the incidents that slight skeptics for, see Chris Horner's Red Hot Lies.

Jim Lippard said...

Michael: The creationists used to make similar claims about being locked out of the peer-reviewed literature, but when challenged, could never produce the rejection slips.

There seem to be a number of climate skeptics who have no problem getting published and cited--they happen to also be the ones with relevant credentials and expertise.

I think the burden of proof is on the conspiracy theorist. My cursory review of the CRU emails shows the main concern in discussions about peer review is bad work getting published (e.g., the 2003 Soon and Baliunas paper in _Climate Research_, which was admittedly, on the part of the editors, a failure of peer review to allow it to be published).

In any case, why do you think these organizations promote "experts" to the general public with no relevant credentials or expertise?

Jim Lippard said...

Mark: "So I guess the alarmists are lilly white and can't be bought and paid for?" False dilemma. But where's the evidence?

"Why don't write a paper on how much money Big Oil and Big Government gave to the alarmist camp?" What organizations do you consider to be part of "the alarmist camp"? Do you count all government funding of science to be "Big Government" funding designed to produce a particular outcome? That seems implausible to me.

What's my innate bias? I did include citation count information for IPCC scientists, as well as point to a site that has far more detailed information than I've given here on credentials and citations.

Mark and Michael: Do you think any of these organizations mentioned are reliable on climate science? If so, which ones, and why?

Jim Lippard said...

Michael: BTW, _Energy & Environment_ regularly publishes article by climate skeptics. What work published there was rejected by a more reputable journal and is a game-changer on the scientific debate?

Miles Grant said...

Amazing how often the name ExxonMobil comes up when reviewing global warming denial groups, huh?

Jim Lippard said...

Mark: You mentioned Chris Horner's book _Red Hot Lies_. Chris Horner is an attorney and Senior Fellow for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, another conservative think tank that I probably should have added a bit on. Horner has no climate science credentials. CEI's Global Warming Policy Analyst, Julie Walsh, has "the non-traditional background of being a home educator for thirteen years." Again, no climate science credentials.

I thought CEI lost any credibility it might have had when they went on an anti-open source software kick on behalf of Microsoft in the late 90s.

Neural Gourmet said...

Probably Martin Durkin deserves special mention too. He's the Channel Four documentary director who was responsible for The Great Global Warming Swindle. Durkin is said to have strong ties to the Revolutionary Communist Party, Living Marxism and Spiked (oddly, a Libertarian oriented magazine). Durkin denies he was ever associated with the RCP, but his previous documentary Against Nature suggests he is at least well connected.

Durkin and the RCP are part of that weird twilight area where the far left and the far right overlap. They are at least partially motivated by a belief in the conspiracy theory that AGW is just another way for large, transnational businesses to keep the third world from developing.

Jim Lippard said...

Neural Gourmet: Yes, you're right--my list was fairly U.S.-centric, and also organization-centric. I could also have mentioned the "Not Evil Just Wrong" film, and a couple other Australians who are actively promoting skepticism about climate change, Joanne Nova and Jennifer Marohasy.

Nova's booklet, "The Skeptics Handbook," has recently been distributed in the U.S. to minority churches with funding from The Heartland Institute and a cover letter from Roy Innis of the Congress of Racial Equality.

Jim Lippard said...

Neural Gourmet: You might be interested in an amusing email exchange involving Martin Durkin, Armand Leroi, and Simon Singh.

geochoww said...

Nice work, Jim!

As I mentioned in class, it's interesting to note the preponderance of old people who hold contrary opinions to the IPCC conclusions.

Any thoughts on expanding this into a full-fledged article for publication? It has its merits.

Michael said...

I think you mistake my question for something other than what I was postulating.

Are you asserting then that, either there really was no such manipulation, or if there was, its effect was insignificant?

From my exceptionally superficial gloss of the issue, it just struck me as something that one might address head-on, since the allegation and some evidence that is argued to support that allegation has been widely publicized.

Jim Lippard said...

Michael: I do question the extent to which a small group of scientists could affect the ability of climate skeptics to get published and be cited by others, yes. The relatively high citation counts for some of the climate skeptics strikes me as evidence of relative inefficacy of such attempts. Are you suggesting that, had the EAU CRU scientists not made conscious efforts to not cite or favorably review what they saw as poor work, climate skeptics would be the mainstream/majority in the climate science field?

Scott said...

The list of organizations promoting AGW is ten times longer than the skeptical equivalent. And the list of media outlets is a hundred times longer.

Michael said...

"Are you suggesting that, had the EAU CRU scientists not made conscious efforts to not cite or favorably review what they saw as poor work, climate skeptics would be the mainstream/majority in the climate science field?"

No, nothing of the sort, I'm really just wondering whether, "had the EAU CRU scientists not made conscious efforts to not cite or favorably review" their "opponents", this might have made a measurable impact on your citation count.

I would find an answer to the effect of "it no impact whatsoever" incredible, since that response would be the equivalent of saying that their "conscious efforts" were redundant or superfluous, they weren't going to cite them anyway, which begs the question why anyone would exhort their peers not to cite "those" people.

Bottom line, from my admitted exceptionally superficial gloss of the issues, much of it sounds more like "belief", "faith", and "appeal to authority".

Put it another way, who is the interested layman to believe absent an investment of time and resources few can spare, when many in the debate, especially the highest profile individuals, have so damaged their credibility?

Jim Lippard said...

Scott: Have you attempted to estimate those numbers or are you just pulling numbers out of a hat?

Michael: "No impact whatsoever" may be unlikely, but it should be weighed against the fact that in *any* field, similar sorts of social factors apply. It's possible that they wash out, all things considered. I suspect the private emails of the organizations I've discussed contain lots of embarrassing things, since we already know they've been caught in cases of misrepresentations and deception that I've identified--to my mind, worse than the shenanigans in the EAU CRU emails that I've seen.

The criteria I've discussed can't be anything more than suggestive, though some of them are capable of determining, e.g., who's a qualified expert capable of giving admissible testimony in a court of law. These features of credibility can't by themselves determine who's right, for sure.

My favored approach would be to exclude all of the discredited scientists and organizations of any position, and let those with clean records come to a consensus. For some reason, no one supporting the climate skepticism view seems to be making such a suggestion.

Shouldn't we all be in agreement that the OISM Petition is a crock, that Ian Plimer isn't a reliable source of information on climate change, that the Heartland Institute should rely only call people climate change experts if they have legitimate expertise, and that the EAU CRU scientists should get better coders and everybody should be transparent and accountable?

Hume's Ghost said...

"I thought CEI lost any credibility..."

They crossed that Rubicon for me when I found out Michelle Malkin got a journalism fellowship from there.

Peter Staats said...

Science is not, nor has it ever been, about voting for the truth. Galileo did not have much company in his heliocentric heresy, but that didn't make him wrong. Scientific discourse should have nothing to do with counting peer reviewed citations.

It is very hard to overturn an entrenched philosophy such as AGW. To quote Max Planck:
"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

Jim Lippard said...

Peter: I was very clear in my introduction and summary about what this analysis does and does not show.

AGW has become firmly established, but it has done so over the last several decades as evidence has accumulated in its support.

I think your appeal to Planck is right but has things backwards, based on the age of many of the climate skeptics (and the fact that many of the scientific reputations on which those organizations base their scientific advisory boards belong to people who are already dead!).

Mihai said...

You forgot Zbigniew Jaworowski

http://www.larouchepub.com/eiw/public/2007/2007_10-19/2007-11/pdf/38_711_science.pdf

Jim Lippard said...

Peter Staats:

I conducted a test of our respective claims with Prall's data, first for scientists with >= 200 citations for their fourth-most-cited paper, then for scientists with >= 100 citations for their fourth-most-cited paper, to look at the average year in which they received their last degree. (I discarded those for which Prall's site didn't have year information, as noted.)

For IPCC WG-1 scientists:
>= 200 cites: N=83, 12 had no year

N=71, average year = 1981

>= 100 cites: N=201, 51 had no year

N=150, average year = 1983

For the climate skeptics (from the list of those that signed any of the climate skepticism documents):

>= 200 cites: N=13, 4 had no year

N=9, average year = 1965

>= 100 cites: N=38, 15 had no year

N=23, average year = 1968

The empirical evidence supports my view over yours.

Derek Wall said...

http://another-green-world.blogspot.com/2009/12/climate-sceptics-are-like-alcoholics.html may be of interest, any lame excuse will do for those who say do nothing,

Lumo said...

Commie,

I urge you to instantly remove the libels and lies from this blog, otherwise I will start to work on the legal liquidation of the criminal that you are.

These things may be common among the green trash in which you seem to live but I won't tolerate it against myself.

Cheers
LM

Jim Lippard said...

Lubos Motl: I'm always happy to correct my mistakes, but I don't engage in "lies" or "libel," let alone criminality. I'm also not a communist.

If you're really who you claim to be, I think your comment has done more to undermine your credibility than anything in my post.

If you have any errors to point out, by all means please do so.

Gyles said...

wow alot fallacy being thrown around here. guilt by association, circumstantial ad hominem, appeals to authority and popularity.

its always the same argument from both sides. The state institutions attack the private ones for business "conflicts of interest" in connection to private corporations. And the private institutions attack state funded organizations for political "conflicts of interest". (they wont get their funding supporting a politically unpopular idea)

There is an error here, Patrick Michaels is not a global warming skeptic, he believes that the earth is getting warmer and it is caused by humans. The fact he tried to point out is that the only solution to AGW being acted upon is mandatory emission cuts. Even if countries agree on cuts, and even if they follow through, they will not change the warming trajectory of the earth. they will only cause massive economic fallout among developing nations. The fact is the best way to deal with AGW is geo-enginering, adaptation, and helping nations become wealthier. I have not seen a single AGW alarmist come up with a rational solution to the problem. Politicians are using AGW as an excuse for massive government control. (aka naming Co2 a pollutant)

Emission Cuts are not the answer!

aweaver said...

Isn't frivolously accusing someone of committing a crime actionable in its own right?

(Unfortunately, this is going to be the last I'll have to say on this discussion because, between frivolous rejection of my perfectly good Google password and frivolous rejection of accurate renderings of the CAPTCHA characters, your blog has refused my above comment EIGHT FREAKIN' TIMES so far.)

Nine times.

OH GOOD...

Kagehi said...

With respect, counting citations isn't always helpful. Some bozo did that a while back, claiming that "evolution" isn't part of *any* of the papers found at PubMed. His reasoning? If it had anything to do with evolution, they should be using the word specifically. In actual reality, if you search on a related term, which is actually used to convey *specific* information about the subject of what mutations are being looked at, any such word can generate tens of thousands of documents.

Word searches are bad ways to look for this sort of stuff. What you think the experts are using, and what they do, isn't necessarily the same thing. That being said, to people like Mark, your question doesn't make a damn sense. Such companies are the ones whose businesses would be most effected. The idea that they would "pay" climatologists to support alarmism, knowing the end result is going to be making a ruin of their businesses... Never mind the fact that the media, and a few nuts, are the *worst* offenders with respect to "alarmist" scenarios, while the climate scientists have generally been concerned, but not over the top about it.

Its right up there with the two contradictory arguments you get from the anti-AGW people of how a) the world economy will be in ruins, while simultaneously, b) alarmists will make millions selling products they have no companies, funding, or technology to produce *yet*, without everyone, including the energy companies, who have the money, and the materials, and the needed "specialist" experts, trying to invent them. Or, do you people actually imagine that having a degree in climate means you can pull more efficient solar panels out of your backside? Most of the time, you get two specialists in a room, and unless there is at least "some" parallel between their research, they might as well be speaking Wookie and Klingon, for all they have a single damn clue what the other is talking about. Yet, these people are going to "profit" off or a "world economic collapse".... How??

Jim Lippard said...

Kagehi: I agree that counting the publications containing "climate" has the problem you describe. But that's not the only measure discussed; I also look at overall citation counts. Again, that's at best a rough proxy for relevant credibility, since a scientist may have a high citation count in a non-climate science field.

aweaver: Sorry for your problems posting comments. I was forced to adopt authentication due to spam problems.

Gyles: Michaels is a "climate change skeptic" in that he questions the negative consequences of warming, but I agree with you that there are a number of scientists identified as such who accept AGW. What is interesting to me is that organizations use their views to cast doubt on AGW (or even global warming at all), even when they accept it.

Both mitigation and adaptation are important responses, IMHO--I agree that adaptation is essential, but that doesn't preclude the need for mitigation of CO2 emissions as well. You might be interested in my other blog posts about talks by Roger Pielke, Jr. about mitigation and adaptation, linked from the above post.

IAblogger said...

This is a great piece of work and thank you so much for going to the trouble. We all know that that the climate kooks are just that, but it is really nice to be able to substantiate such a position with such an excellent analysis and review. Positively brilliant, thank you!

Julian said...

I am sure everything you mention is here is legitimately a cause for concern. It is right to see who is behind any sort of propaganda. Unfortunately, it is not only the skeptics who have questions to answer. I was shocked to read the article below about the obvious conflicts of interest and huge amounts of money involved on the other side. I hope you will give this as much consideration.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/6847227/Questions-over-business-deals-of-UN-climate-change-guru-Dr-Rajendra-Pachauri.html

Gordon Stangler said...

I know it is a bit old, but here is a post about Chris Horner, and the CEI. It goes into his background, and lack thereof with respect to climate change.

The site had ads, but the information is good.

http://aitj-co.com/gcsgz5/blog/?p=686

Richard James said...

You clearly underestimate the value that dead people have to the debate. They are the ultimate deniers, unmoveable by reason, unassuagable by evidence, and very very cheap.

Sean said...

'the legal liquidation of the criminal that you are'?

Jesus, I think I've found a late contendor for the 'most torturous phrasing of the year' award. Let's see where that libel is...

DuckPhup said...

michael: "... that response would be the equivalent of saying that their "conscious efforts" were redundant or superfluous, they weren't going to cite them anyway, which begs the question why anyone would exhort their peers not to cite "those" people."

michael: "Bottom line, from my admitted exceptionally superficial gloss of the issues, much of it sounds more like 'belief', 'faith', and 'appeal to authority'."

Giving credence to qualified scientists' consensus on the interpretation of data is not 'appeal to authority'.

Also... since you invoke 'begging the question' without even having a clue as to what it actually means... you ought to be more concerned with your ability to handle 'logic', than with your perceptions of 'belief' and 'faith'.

You bring-up two 'logical fallacies' without having a grasp of either of them... and that makes my bullshit alarm clang loudly.

I agree that your grasp of these issues is "exceptionally superficial"... which leads me to wonder why you are involving yourself. Of course, that wondering presumes that you aren't actually doing what you seem to be trying to do... 'poisoning the well'.

Jim Lippard said...

DuckPhup: Good catch on the misuse of "begs the question," as a philosopher I should have noticed and commented on that, but I guess I've started to become numb to that error.

On your second point, I would merely distinguish between fallacious and non-fallacious appeals to authority.

David said...

Notice that denialists skate comfortably between several fallacious strategies of attack--the ad hom, well poisoning, arg ad pop. When pinned down on one, they duck out. They play science until credentials are made to matter, then attack scientific methods when they dislike the outcome, etc.

I think of this as a meta-fallacy. Logical fallacies can be accidents, and in some situations can even be valid lines of argument. But when there is a fundamentally dishonest motive, even valid lines of argument become invalid, and reasonable observations, such as the infighting revealed in the CRU email dump, should be dismissed. As revealed by Motl's foaming, this is a contest of vituperation and bad, bad faith. I believe that measured scholarship and patience (re: age of denialists) will win...except, of course, that waiting is loss, too.

ice9

aweaver: no trouble here.

Brian Macker said...

"Are you suggesting that, had the EAU CRU scientists not made conscious efforts to not cite or favorably review what they saw as poor work, climate skeptics would be the mainstream/majority in the climate science field?"

The fact of the MWP was the mainstream opinion until Michael Mann's hockey stick fabrication.

Brian Macker said...

Now that the WWF is accepting funds from Coca-Cola Corp. who intentionally packages CO2 in their product for release into the atmosphere are you going to list them? They are taking money from a big business which releases enormous quantities of CO2 in trucking fattening drinks (releasing CO2 in the process of trucking). Are they to be discredited in their arguments merely because of funding?

Yes, I know this is silly but so is your argument.

Nate said...

Jim,

Quick question - have you looked into parallels between AGW and the cigarette research promoted by the tobacco industry into the 90s? There are some striking themes that appear in both - promotion of disagreement, presenting 'both sides', front research groups, 'persecuted minority', etc.

Nate

Brian Macker said...

Actually Duckphp and Jim Lippard that was a bad catch on "beg the question". Michael did not use the phrase "beg the question" in the philosophical sense.

One can say, "Tiger woods slept around with ten women which begs the question, "Has he slept with more?"

The above isn't even an argument. It makes no claim, and therefore no assumption. It's a question. While "begging the question" involves an argument which assumes what it is out to prove.

"Begging the question" has absolutely nothing to do with asking a question.

So you both fail as philosophers.

"Also... since you invoke 'begging the question' without even having a clue as to what it actually means... you ought to be more concerned with your ability to handle 'logic', than with your perceptions of 'belief' and 'faith'."

How do you know that he has no clue what "begging the question" actually means? You don't. Perhaps you need to question your ability to handle logic since you can't tell an argument from a question.

"Giving credence to qualified scientists' consensus on the interpretation of data is not 'appeal to authority'."

It is, if it you rest your full argument on it, and ignore other fully qualified scientists and statisticians. Which is exactly what is being done, as if science were determined by weight of numbers, like some kind of simple balance scale, which is what consensus is all about.

Over the past 40 years of reading. I never heard biologists arguing from consensus on evolution, nor did they chime on and on about peer review, nor make appeals to authority like alarmist climatologist do. Nor any of the other shenanigans that go on in climate science.

Brian Macker said...

Nate,

Those are themselves smear tactics. This has nothing to do with smoking. Those ideas are being promoted by political scientists, and philosophers of science. In other words, by propagandists.

Every criticism of any scientific theory involves increasing doubt. If that were a criteria for deciding what was and was not science then nothing would be science.

In fact, science if founded on doubt, not dogma.

I haven't heard anyone saying we should "present both sides" when it comes to climatology. In fact, stuff produced by Michael Mann is garbage and should be presented only in the context of scientific fraud.

Jim Lippard said...

Brian Macker: "The fact of the MWP was the mainstream opinion until Michael Mann's hockey stick fabrication." You have apparently not read the IPCC WG1 reports, all of which discuss the Medieval Warm Period in some detail. Current evidence suggests it was regional warming, rather than global. See AR4 WG1 Ch. 6, pp. 466ff. I disagree that Mann's hockey stick was a "fabrication," but the comments here aren't the place to carry on that discussion, which has nothing to do with my post.

Your WWF/Coca Cola argument isn't analogous to the points I make in my post.

The case of evolution is also not exactly analogous--this is a lot more similar to the tobacco causes cancer argument of the 1960's that Nate suggests, where the Tobacco Institute was set up to promote skepticism, support scientists who did work that cast doubt on the link between tobacco and cancer, and make arguments that misrepresented the consensus. There are, however, still some parallels, such as the use of petitions of dissenting scientists--the OISM is sort of like the Discovery Institute in that regard.

Your example of an alternative use of "begs the question" is simply a misuse of the phrase, which was the point DuckPhup was making.

geochoww said...

Jim:

Ah, you've been Motled!

Nate:

If you have an hour to spare, do watch Naomi Oreskes' talk on "The American Denial of Global Warming which explicitly documents the links between AGW denial and tobacco.

Nate said...

Over the past 40 years of reading. I never heard biologists arguing from consensus on evolution, nor did they chime on and on about peer review, nor make appeals to authority like alarmist climatologist do. Nor any of the other shenanigans that go on in climate science.

Brian,

I haven't read through this whole thread yet, so I may have missed something, but I assure you that such "shenanigans" do go on in biology, for one very specific reason - creationism/intelligent design.

Yes, there is a consensus in biology that evolution has occurred and continues to occur. As in all sciences, the question is how it occurs. Genetics grounds evolution experimentally. New discoveries provide new details of genetics and evolution Where there is disagreement about evolutionary biology, it is in the specific mechanisms by which evolution works, not the process itself.

As far as peer review, again this is a large issue for biology. Intelligent design/creationist think tanks regularly claim that their lack of peer reviewed publications is because of a conspiracy against them by the "established" scientist. Citing publications is a regular issue in legal challenges to teaching evolution - see the Dover case testimony on the evolution of the blood clotting chemical cascade, for example.

As far as appeals to authority, again that is done as well. For example, consider Kent Hovind. He got his PhD. from Patriot Bible College in Florida. Allow me to quote verbatim the first paragraph of his dissertation:

Hello, my name is Kent Hovind. I am a creation/science evangelist. I live in Pensacola, Florida. I have been a high school science teacher since 1976. I've been very active in the creation/evolution controversy for quite some time. As an evangelist, God has given me the opportunity to preach and teach the wonderful story of His marvelous creation over 400 times each year to churches, schools (public and private), parent groups, youth groups, on the radio, and in university debates.

Similar things happen when you look at the previously mentioned think tanks - the scientists presented often have credentials from a non-accredited "University", have a degree in a wholly unrelated subject, and have serious misunderstandings of evolutionary biology. Indeed, these misunderstandings often extend to related fields such as geology, physics, astronomy, and genetics.

The point is that this is exactly what happens when a field is being challenged by a lobbying group that lacks any real expertise, peer reviewed articles, or evidence based critique of evolution. As I suggested previously to Jim, the same sort of response was organized by the tobacco industry to protect themselves from the consensus of medical researchers.

Nate

Jason G said...

Jim,
Can you comment on why you used citation counts for their fourth-most-cited papers? Is this to demonstrate fruitful papers and yet avoid the flash-in-the-pan single-paper researchers?

I'm unfamiliar with this methodology and I think others may be as well (I gather).

Kudos for the excellent work.

Jim Lippard said...

Jason: That's exactly correct--I'm actually just following the data that Jim Prall made available on his site, but the reason for going with the fourth rather than first is to look at a more sustained level of contribution rather than a single flash-in-the-pan or one-hit-wonder work. I don't think there's anything particularly special about 4th-most-cited, but the more highly-cited papers a researcher has, the greater their impact on their field. A study of highly-cited papers in medicine in the Netherlands found that an absence of highly cited papers associated with one's doctoral dissertation is a predictor of non-success.

Rev. Bob said...

Great work. Thank you.

Allow me to introduce Crispen's Cleaver (as in Gordian knots):

Dear denier: suppose global warming isn't anthropogenic at all? Suppose it's all caused by cow farts.

Now, Mr. Denier, what should we do about it? What, specifically? Should we just let the polar caps melt until we all become characters in a Kevin Costner movie?

What should we do about it?

Jim Lippard said...

Nate: There are definitely significant parallels with creationism/intelligent design. In addition to what has already been mentioned (cultivating lists of dissenters, promoting people without relevant expertise as experts, setting up its own alternative institutions to promote its views), I'd also add that they promote people as dissenters who aren't really dissenters (a lot of "climate skeptics" agree that there is a global warming trend and that the human contribution to greenhouse gases is the major cause, but the organizations are trying to convince the general public that one or both of those things are false). They try to identify any cases of error, disagreement, or, in the worst case, fraud or fakery, as bringing down the entire case, and they don't subject their own positions to the same standard of evidence or level of scrutiny. Those last features are common to all sorts of "denialism."

Brian Macker's suggested analogous argument about the WWF and Coca Cola isn't analogous because if the WWF were setting up its own alternative institutions of science, promoting fake experts, and so forth, the obvious answer would be that yes, that *would* discredit them and show that you shouldn't rely on them for accurate and trustworthy scientific information. Indeed, you shouldn't rely on an NGO that asks you to believe something that's not only a minority position in a field of science but actually goes way beyond the minority position to completely deny the existence of a strongly-supported phenomenon, and engages in the kind of deceptive and dishonest tactics like those of the Heartland Institute.

Nate said...

Jim,

Those last features are common to all sorts of "denialism."

It's the common features that I find interesting - you also see many of the approaches you list in the anti-vax crowd. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples.

You might be interested in some of the work that Bob Altemeyer does up at U Manitoba that looks at specific factors underlying Authoritarianism and dogmatic belief.

Indeed, you shouldn't rely on an NGO that asks you to believe something that's not only a minority position in a field of science but actually goes way beyond the minority position to completely deny the existence of a strongly-supported phenomenon, and engages in the kind of deceptive and dishonest tactics like those of the Heartland Institute.

I disagree slightly - NGOs often do this, but so do GOs. For example, look at South Africas response to HIV and AIDS, where the government ignored the established science. Same thing with science in general under Bush Jr., especially in the EPA. Or the USSR going with Lysenkoist agricultural policies because evolutionary biology wasn't ideologically compatible with Communism.

Have a good evening - it's time to light up the Xmas BBQ and make dinner. Happy Holidays, everyone.

Jim Lippard said...

Nate: I agree with you, my comment applies to any organization or group that does those things, not just NGOs.

I've updated the original post with a quote from Steven Epstein's book, _Impure Science_, about parallels with HIV=AIDS denial.

james said...

A few years back I was at the fall AGU conference and I went to one of the keynote talks, which happened to be on deficiencies of climate models (which is a scientific topic, not a political one!). I remember laughing about it because there were a bunch of suits from the oil industry lined up across the back taking notes. At that time, the oil industry was making a concerted effort to undermine the case for global warming, and it was pretty clear they had people in these talks to look for holes.

At this point, the oil / gas /coal industries have more or less accepted that they've lost that battle and they have moved on to trying to control the dialogue on what should be done about global warming. They seem to be having a lot more success pursuant to this objective simply because there is not any kind of scientific consensus regarding what should be done to address the issue. The point is, the oil / gas / coal industries have moved on to this next phase. Debating whether climate change skeptics are serious scientists is pretty silly. I understand its a debate that political types are comfortable with, but I just don't see how it is relevant.

Brian Macker said...

"I haven't read through this whole thread yet, so I may have missed something, but I assure you that such "shenanigans" do go on in biology, for one very specific reason - creationism/intelligent design."

So I guess you are comparing the alarmist climatologists to the creationists. I never did consider them scientists, so maybe I should consider Jones, Mann, et all, scientists either.

Brian Macker said...

The IPPC itself is an alternative institutions set up to promote certain political views.

Is there a UN body for promoting Steven Jay Goulds interpretation of natural selection. No.

Maybe it is you Jim who is not paying attention. It's the claim that MWP is local that is new. Mann's graph is fraudulent and then his conspirators got together to produce addition "peer reviewed" articles faked up to also produce a hockey stick. Faked by dropping uncorrelated dates from proxy data, and using samples sizes too small to support the conclusions, and over-weighing some data over others. Their procedures essentially hunted for spurious correlations.

Their math was crap as confirmed by top statisticians like Wegman.

This was all known and could be deduced before the emails broke with confirming dialog on how they were colluding.

BTW, your response on begs the question is baloney. The phrase "begs the question" was used colloquially,and therefore correctly. Had he used it to claim that an argument was fallacious only then would he have misused it logically as claimed.

People use that phrase colloquially instead of saying "raises the question" and to do so is a most an error in grammar not logic. The other guy claimed he was making a logical mistake, not one of grammar.

One's grammar has more to do with the locality one grows up in not with whether one understands logic.

Jim Lippard said...

Brian Macker: I'm not aware of any evidence supporting the idea that the MWP was global. Are you?

The IPCC was set up by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme to bring together scientists from multiple countries to provide the best scientific information on climate change for policymakers, similar to how the National Research Council provides scientific information to policymakers in the U.S. Many of the climate skeptics with the best reputations have participated in the IPCC process--it's not limited to those of a particular political ideology. If you read my original post, you'll see that I made some comparisons between the IPCC and NIPCC.

There's no UN body for promoting a particular view of natural selection, but that's not really analogous to the IPCC. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is one of many groups on particular topics of concern such as the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, UN Convention Against Torture, the UN Convention Against Corruption, and so forth. And there are lots of international organizations that address scientific and political topics.

Your view seems to be that the IPCC (and, by extension, the National Academies of most major developed nations) are completely corrupted and incapable of evaluating evidence reliably, while the organizations I've discussed in my original post are, despite the evidence I've pointed out--endorsement of fake experts or genuine experts well outside of their field of relevance, misrepresentation of their own genuine experts, promotion of articles published in pseudoscience-advocating crackpot journals, appeal to misleading petitions--reliable and trustworthy. But I don't see why you would think that, so perhaps you could clarify your position? Do you think that OISM, AAPS, Heartland, etc. are reliable sources of information--or more reliable than the IPCC?

On Wegman, see Real Climate.

"Begs the question" means that an argument contains its conclusion implicitly in its premises. It doesn't mean "suggests the question," which is the *erroneous* colloquial usage you refer to. I agree with you that Michael wasn't trying to attribute a logical fallacy, he was just misusing the phrase. It may at this point be hopeless to get it out of the vernacular, but I still find it on a par with reversal of "imply" and "infer."

Jim Lippard said...

james: I think it's important to recognize the role that the mass media and general public play in scientific disputes with political consequences. When scientists have tried to ignore the public perceptions (e.g., w/creationism and the denial that HIV causes AIDS), the disputes not only didn't go away, they grew. At the same time, there have been cases where addressing them in certain ways has also given them undeserved credibility (e.g., public debates on creationism where the defender of evolution doesn't have broad knowledge of creationist claims or debating skills).

Jim Lippard said...

Brian Macker: I just came across your interesting comment on a post about tree-ring proxies at the Island of Doubt ScienceBlog:

"But speleothem proxies are influenced by rainfall just like tree proxies. Plus neither proxies match local temperatures. Somehow it teleconnects to global temperature. So it all magic, not science.

Also Mann is such a poor statitician (actually not one at all) that the loose cannon methods he uses show hockey sticks no matter what data he plugs in. Mann's procedures mine for hockey sticks even in red noise data. In the case you cite it mined up some upside down lake sediment proxy and made that the heavily weighted proxy that generated his hockey stick.

Idiot doesn't realize that if he adds a bunch of horse apples, and cow pies to his milkshake that only removing the cow pies isn't going to make it taste better. Especially since the recipes says "Taste the mixture often and if adding an ingredient has an adverse effect the add a whole bunch more".

It's like you idiots don't understand the underlying science. Feynman's complain about south of the border science education seems to apply to climatologists, and you. You never understood the underlying principles at work nor the criticism and therefore you get confused by the numbers. You do science by rote."

To which "Moderately Unbalanced Squid" responds:

" 'But speleothem proxies are influenced by rainfall just like tree proxies.'


Let me let you in on a secret: speleothem proxies are based on the ratio of oxygen 16 to oxygen 18. If the ratio for a wet year is 80/40 and the ratio for a dry year is 36/18, it works out the same because it's a ratio. Your assertion that the amount of rainfall matters is irrelevant unless the amount of rainfall is zero or below the limit of detection.

It being New Zealand, there are no deserts, so zero rainfall years are pretty much non-existent.


'Plus neither proxies match local temperatures.'

You are simply lying:

A comparison is valid even though the tree-ring derived temperatures represent only the late summer period (i.e. February-March), which in instrumental records is highly correlated to annual temperatures (1853-1992, n = 140, correlation coefficient is 0.72, P

From p. 286-287 of the Palmer and Xiong paper I referenced above."

(The referenced paper was "'New Zealand climate over the last 500 years reconstructed from Libocedrus bidwil1ii Hook. f. tree-ring chronologies*' by Palmer and Xiong in The Holocene, volume 14, published in 2004 p. 282-289", cited in a comment immediately *prior* to yours, in which Squid said, "It's the same story with creationism - there are people out there who will repeat the same criticism ad infinitum even after that criticism is answered.")

Your response to Squid--nothing.

Is your position that you were mistaken, that Squid was mistaken but you haven't yet taken the time to respond? Or is it that you are, as it appears to me from your ad hominem and failure to support your assertions or admit error, deserving of the "denier" appellation?

Nate said...

Thanks Jim - I'll look at it. Same for geochoww's suggestion for oreskes' video. Any citations you have would be welcome also.

Been so busy during this break that I still haven't had a chance to do more than bookmark these for full reading - I've just skimmed so far.

You may want to put together an abstract for this, just as a step towards submission or development into a full-blown study.

Nate

Nate said...

So I guess you are comparing the alarmist climatologists to the creationists. I never did consider them scientists, so maybe I should consider Jones, Mann, et all, scientists either.

So let me get this straight. You originally make the erroneous claim that "Over the past 40 years of reading. I never heard biologists arguing from consensus on evolution, nor did they chime on and on about peer review, nor make appeals to authority like alarmist climatologist do. Nor any of the other shenanigans that go on in climate science."

I then provide a counter-example, where biologists do exactly this - when they have to deal with the pseudo-science of creationism/intelligent design.

Are you sticking by your claim that biologists never speak from consensus, authority or citation, or do you agree that your original claim is wrong? You seem to be ignoring counter-evidence, and acting as though it in fact supports your claim. Creationists/intelligent design promoters often respond to counter-examples in the same way. If you want to seperate your views from such cranks, a good place to start is by not emulating their methods.

james said...

I don't buy into the parallel between creationists and climate skeptics. The creationist "debate" pertains to a science / religion conflict with a very long history. The climate debate seems to be much more about money rather than fundamental beliefs.

There are plenty of climate skeptics out there making exaggerations and misconstruing scientific papers The problem is that a lot of people on other side will also misconstrue scientific data and make exaggerations (ie. the "alarmist" camp). It usually isn't scientists who do the bulk of the exaggerating. What troubles me is that on both sides, these "mistakes" are not actually oversights or misunderstandings, but willful attempts to deceive people with the hope of advancing a political cause. These public misrepresentations of science do nothing to improve the understanding of the general public, nor do they promote a public appreciation of the scientific process.

As a scientist, I'd like to know what other people expect to come of the global warming debate? I certainly know what I expect:

1) Political-types will spend a long time taking sides and debating irrelevant aspects of the climate change point.

2) Long after the scientific community has come to a consensus, political-types will finally agree that the scientific consensus exists. Due to misunderstandings and stubbornness, debate will continue.

3) Political-types will seek policy input from scientists.

4) Policy input from scientists will be ignored in favor of measures which are "politically-attractive", which means that they have little to no scientific merit but allow the public to "feel better" for having "done something" about a "real problem".

5) Policy measures will do nothing to solve the problem. Political types will move on to argue about other problems, which they will milk for attention and fail to solve.

A lot of other scientists seem to have similar expectations. I don't think people have any appreciation whatsoever for the sort of policy measures that would be needed to make a difference on this front. I think they think that building windmills and increasing federal emissions standards "helps".

Tom T said...

James - the similarity comes from the *need* to be correct.

The motivation in the case of the climate deniers is one based around money - to overturn the existing status quo, many energy companies will shrivel, die, or be forced to change their platform of earning. None of these are pleasant outcomes for them.

In the case of creationists, their entire worldview will be lost if they admit to the supremacy of evolution as a means of explaining the biological diversity that is observed. This is a simple case of neurotic denial, experienced in common (as opposed to en masse) among them. If you wish to ascribe more nefarious motives (and I certainly do), it boils back to money here as well - the more creationist books Hovind or Hamm or whatever crank can sell, the more he or she can personally revel in their ill-gotten wealth, and to hell with the minds they poison.

Both motivations result in the same choice of behavior - attack that which threatens the favored outcome on whatever grounds are available. Even the most unreasonable grounds are considered acceptable, as the objective is to win over laypersons (which possess votes, or money, or both) and can swing support away from the undesirable outcome.

T

John Mashey said...

A few more items:

1) SEPP: is not really an organization. It's Fred Singer, and for a while, it included his then-wife, Candace Crandall. Remember that name for later. It's much better to be President of SEPP than "consultant", and nonprofit is nice.
Singer also wrote an anti-EPA piece on environmental tobacco smoke.
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=S._Fred_Singer
Finally, Singer started way earlier, at least as far back as 1982 on acid-rain.

2) GMI: there's lots more.
O'Keefe was @ API 1974-2001.
His predecessor @ GMI, Jeffrey Salmon, got a PhD in world politics in 1985, then became a senior speechwriter for Caspar Weinberger and ... Dick Cheney.

he moved to GMI 1991-2001, then got back into governmen, in science policy position in DOE. In mid-2008, he "burrowed in"m as they say inside the Beltway, i.e., converted to a civil service job in DOE. Presumably he doesn't refuse calls from Cheney. I suggest a close reading of the memo from API's Joe Walker to the team, specifically the sentecne starting: "GCSCT members..."

3) SPPI: watch out, there are two SPPI's. The one you want is Rob Ferguson's, which was created in 2007. See also Wikipedia. See me on Monckton & SPPI.

The other SPPI is this one, and as best as I can tell, has nothing to do with climate.

Brian Macker said...

“Your response to Squid--nothing. “

Not responding to a comment because I leave a thread means nothing. I do have a life and am not paid to monitor and respond to every mistake made on the internet. Sorry if I don’t respond to every comment made by an anonymous jerk.

As I commented in the tread these alarmist climatologists do not consider the entire process before making their claims and assumptions.

Are you so ignorant as to think the rate of groundwater flow is not going to be effected by rainfall? Of course it will be. So the rate of disposition will be. So will the plant growth at ground level. As will the rates of decay in the soil. Some of that oxygen is coming from the plants, not just the atmosphere.

If oxygen isotope levels measure yearly temperature then why don’t they use those instead of wood density, or ring width when doing studies with trees. We can measure isotope ratios in wood too. Could it be that plants preferentially take up certain isotopes? Could it be that atmospheric ratios of isotopes don’t fluctuate the way you assume?

“Let me let you in on a secret: speleothem proxies are based on the ratio of oxygen 16 to oxygen 18. If the ratio for a wet year is 80/40 and the ratio for a dry year is 36/18, it works out the same because it's a ratio.”

So let me let you in on a secret. I know how radio dating is done. I wasn’t claiming that the ratios of atmospheric oxygen would change for wet verses dry years. It’s the micro conditions I’m concerned about, the ones in the living soil, in the caves, and in the atmosphere around the plants, in the subsoil, and ground water. Don’t you realize how speleothems are created? They are created by acids in the water (CO2, humic, etc.) dissolving existing rock, which has it’s own oxygen ratios. The acidity of the water matters and that is effected by plant growth, how long the water pools in the soil, quantity of water flushed, etc. The assumption is made that none of these processes matter and none are affected by rainfall levels, a poor assumption.

In fact these proxies do not agree with each other over large spans should be a big clue that there is a problem. Instead of dealing with that problem it is swept under the rug. You ignore it. There is good correlation between proxies for some periods but not others. Guess what, there is something called spurious correlation. If you understand math, which obviously you don’t, you would realize that you can tweak data till you get a high correlation on some segments of a graph while losing it on others. So a 70% correlation on only a portion of data is unimpressive. The cross proxy correlations they get prove nothing other than their ability to delude themselves. Not effected by rainfall, bullshit.

Furthermore, the speleothem record has a completely different granularity than our yearly temperature record. Do you think atmospheric oxygen isotope ratios fluctuate with local temperatures? To believe that you’d have to be totally ignorant of the entire weather/climate/atmosphere system. What is the proposed mechanism that ties local oxygen isotope ratios to local temperatures? Can you understand what you are saying man? You are saying that if I go to New York City the isotope ratios are going to be different there than if I go to Detroit, Moscow, or Rio. That each will diverge following local temperature. Haven’t you ever heard of something called, the wind?

Don’t you realize that the temperature records for New Zealand are very short? Oxygen isotope ratios throughout overlying shifting atmosphere couldn’t possibly fluctuate in the way you claim to match local temperatures. We don’t have long enough temperature record to do ANY good correlation of temps to isotope levels. Rising slopes will always correlate.

Nate said...

I don't buy into the parallel between creationists and climate skeptics. The creationist "debate" pertains to a science / religion conflict with a very long history. The climate debate seems to be much more about money rather than fundamental beliefs.

I wasn't trying to suggest that the AGW deniers were creationists. What I was suggesting is that both (along with HIV/AIDS deniers, anti-vaccine activists and tobacco companies) have a similar goal - to overturn a specific established area of science.

The primary motivations are indeed different - profit versus belief. However, the goal itself is similar, and this context imposes specific constraints on how to achieve the goal. I believe that Jim and I are interested in what these constraints are, how different groups respond to them, and how the whole 'scientific controversy' system works.

As a scientist, I'd like to know what other people expect to come of the global warming debate? I certainly know what I expect:

I'd have to say I agree with you. From my non-expert position (I'm in science education, not climatology), I think we passed the tipping point around 2000. I'd have to look up some details (tundral gas release, albedo change, etc), but my guess is that we've already tipped the balance, and we're in for an extended (100 to 500K years) period of warming.

Again in my non-expert opinion, I'm not too worried myself. I have no kids, and the ecosystem has endured far worse. It survived the Permian-Triassic extinction, I think it'll survive us. It'll suck, but extinctions happen. Of course, odds are good that humans will be part of any mass extinction. Crazy world, eh?

Nate said...

Diagnosis:

I think I've found part of the posting bug here. If you get error messages typing in the word verification, I think it has to do with the age of the word. Before you submit, refresh your screen - the verification word should change to the current one. I don't know how often it changes, but that should solve the issue.

Brian Macker said...

"I then provide a counter-example, where biologists do exactly this - when they have to deal with the pseudo-science of creationism/intelligent design."

You are delusional. You provided no specific example. Besides I told you my experience.

I can remember no such "argument from consensus" from any of the many books I have read by Dawkins, Gould, Darwin, Huxley, etc. Nor any scientific philosophers who are pro-evolution like Dennett.

I've seen anti-evolution petitions but not pro-evolution ones. Not any petitions as to the truth of it or not.

Science isn't about consensus. So get over it.

The proper purpose of peer review isn't establishing consensus. The proper purpose is to detect error, to criticize. Which does not occur when you rig the system with your pals, and get softball review from your co-conspirators.

Jim Lippard said...

John Mashey: Thanks for the correction on the two SPPIs--I've struck out the sentences that referred to the other SPPI on the original post and noted that there are two, with reference to your comment.

Brian Macker: Your proxy comment should really go on the ScienceBlogs.com thread rather than here. And please try to refrain from insults.

"I've seen anti-evolution petitions but not pro-evolution ones." Yet when it comes to AGW, there are anti-AGW petitions, but not pro. (BTW, there is a pro-evolution petition that's designed to simply show the absurdity of the anti-evolution petitions, the NCSE's Project Steve.)

I asked you a few questions here that you didn't answer, one based on an issue you brought up, and several directly related to the original post:

"I'm not aware of any evidence supporting the idea that the MWP was global. Are you?"

and

"Your view seems to be that the IPCC (and, by extension, the National Academies of most major developed nations) are completely corrupted and incapable of evaluating evidence reliably, while the organizations I've discussed in my original post are, despite the evidence I've pointed out--endorsement of fake experts or genuine experts well outside of their field of relevance, misrepresentation of their own genuine experts, promotion of articles published in pseudoscience-advocating crackpot journals, appeal to misleading petitions--reliable and trustworthy. But I don't see why you would think that, so perhaps you could clarify your position? Do you think that OISM, AAPS, Heartland, etc. are reliable sources of information--or more reliable than the IPCC?"

dhogaza said...

I can remember no such "argument from consensus" from any of the many books I have read by Dawkins, Gould, Darwin, Huxley, etc. Nor any scientific philosophers who are pro-evolution like Dennett.

I've seen anti-evolution petitions but not pro-evolution ones. Not any petitions as to the truth of it or not.


Project Steve ...

Nate said...

You are delusional. You provided no specific example.

Yes, lack of citations is a bad thing - personal opinion or experience just doesn't cut it, and shouldn't be used.

Besides I told you my experience.

Ah, except in your case?

Okay, one last try - I notice that you've dropped the peer review and appeal to authority issues you originally raised:

I never heard biologists arguing from consensus on evolution, nor did they chime on and on about peer review, nor make appeals to authority like alarmist climatologist do.

To a more specific claim:

I can remember no such "argument from consensus" from any of the many books I have read by Dawkins, Gould, Darwin, Huxley, etc. Nor any scientific philosophers who are pro-evolution like Dennett.

Okay, National Science Foundation:

The scientific consensus around evolution is overwhelming. Those opposed to the teaching of evolution sometimes use quotations from prominent scientists out of context to claim that scientists do not support evolution. However, examination of the quotations reveals that the scientists are actually disputing some aspect of howevolution occurs, not whetherevolution occurred

American Association for the Advancement of Science:

In contrast, the theory of biological evolution is well-supported, and not a "disputed view" within the scientific community, as some ID proponents have suggested, for example, through "disclaimer" stickers affixed to textbooks in Cobb County, Georgia.

National Science Teachers Association:

There is no longer a debate among scientists about whether evolution has taken place. There is considerable debate about how evolution has taken place: What are the processes and mechanisms producing change, and what has happened specifically during the history of the universe? Scientists often disagree about their explanations.

I've given you specific examples where the largest science and science education groups in the US are noting that there is a consensus on evolution.

Again, are you sticking by your claim that biologists never speak from consensus, authority or citation, or do you agree that your original claim is wrong? I see no point in responding to you further until you demonstrate some honesty about this issue.

Brian Macker said...

Nate,

Those are political arguments, not scientific ones. They are arguing about public school teaching.

Brian Macker said...

I'm thinking I shouldn't have wasted my time explaining about speleothems based on my personal science knowledge. Why? Because you have no clue as to how well I did in science, and so whether I am full of it.

Better just to quote NASA on spelelthems, oxygen isotope ratios, and rainfall.

"The ratio of these different types of oxygen in water vary based on air temperature, the total amount of ice in the world, and the amount of local precipitation—all important pieces of the climate puzzle."

"Recently, scientists have started to use the oxygen isotope ratio to track changes in the amount of rainfall (heavy rain results in more light oxygen) or changes in where the rain came from—the ocean or inland sources."

Who's just lying about rainfall? I think it is "Moderately Unbalanced Squid" who claimed I was lying.

As you may be aware scienceblogs is a free-for-all with many bloggers, like PZ Myers, allowing anonymous commenters to freely throw insults at others. Really ugly insults, and put downs with no moderation.

I spent a long time being polite with them but when they get idiotic I have to point it out. Like this rainfall business, and their lack of math skills.

One such insult is "denier" which is an attempt to associate scientific criticism with historical denial of the holocaust. Which you quite apparently have no problem with. It's actually nastier than the retort "alarmist".

You are the one who copied over a comment from there to here in which I was called a liar for pointing out a fact.

I at least have the guts to use my own full name, unlike many of your insulting commenters here.

Brian Macker said...

Nate,

"I'm not aware of any evidence supporting the idea that the MWP was global. Are you?"

Yes, I am.

"Your view seems to be that the IPCC (and, by extension, the National Academies of most major developed nations) are completely corrupted and incapable of evaluating evidence reliably, while the organizations I've discussed in my original post are .."

Absolutely wrong. Not my view at all.

IPCC only deals with climate. That doesn't mean I believe every politically science institution on the planet has been corrupted on every area of science. Bad extension on your part and not very good reasoning.

Many of the organizations you listed are political in nature and are just as susceptible to bad science as the IPCC. How do you tell? When they do bad science. There are wackos on both sides.

Look at the commenter above who talks about "waterworld". I'm not aware of any scientists claiming the entire world will be flooded like Noah's ark. He's a wacko on your side. Do you think he discredits everything you have to say? Of course not.

Brian Macker said...

Dhogaza,

Project Steve is not a counter example. Project Steve specifically states:
"We did not wish to mislead the public into thinking that scientific issues are decided by who has the longer list of scientists!"

Jim,

There is a difference between anti-AWG lists and the creationist ones. It was the AWG side that started arguing science by consensus, a list without providing a list, and the natural response is to create counter lists.

In AGW they also scream peer-review, peer-review alot. I don't recall Dawkins and Gould fighting their differences in terms of peer review.

AGW is mostly about a political fight, not science. Hansen calling for arrests of deniers as criminals, calling coal cars "death cars", supporting vandalism of power plants.

Also organizations like NFS are political in nature. That's why it's NFS.gov not NFS.org. Yes, that makes it more easily corruptible by politics. Doesn't mean the corruption always occurs though.

Economic science is currently overtaken by political not scientific interests. So it happens. Fed funding has completely corrupted the entire economics education to research infrastructure.

Brian Macker said...

Jim,

You write:
"I agree with you that Michael wasn't trying to attribute a logical fallacy, he was just misusing the phrase."

Ok, if you think it wasn't a logical fallacy then why give a thumbs up to DuckPhup when he said the following?

"You bring-up two 'logical fallacies' without having a grasp of either of them..."

That was a rhetorical question.

You continue:

"It may at this point be hopeless to get it out of the vernacular, but I still find it on a par with reversal of 'imply' and 'infer.'

Michael wasn't using it to imply or infer in this case, as you have already admitted.

He made a valid argument.

I was just arguing with someone who said to me "Nobody changes their behavior based on a book". My response was, "Well, why do you bother to write or say anything if you don't think it will change behavior?".

The same applies to calling on other scientists to refrain from citing other scientists. Why ask for a change in behavior if you don't think it would be effective?

Citation counts are pretty silly to base an argument on in the first place. There is no semantics to it. Being cited by a "denialist" will up your count even thought the purpose is to point out errors.

BTW, your blog does allow anonymous comments, despite your notice, as many of the commenters here have sham blogger accounts. We really can't tell who they are. That goes for both pro and anti AGW commenters.

Brian Macker said...

Jim,

On the topic of fallacies, here are some errors by David, another anonomous, "denier" insulting commenter ...

"Notice that denialists skate comfortably between several fallacious strategies of attack--the ad hom, well poisoning, arg ad pop. When pinned down on one, they duck out. They play science until credentials are made to matter, then attack scientific methods when they dislike the outcome, etc."

Now this claim by David is baloney.

For example, when McIntyre showed that Mann's hockey stick graph was based on bad statistics and then it was subtaintiated by the statistician Wegman.

It is not "well poisoning" to point out that Mann is a crappy mathematician when his entire authority rests on this math skills.
You can no longer appeal to him, or his work as an authority without careful review of his work, which you probably don't have the skills to do.
Yet warmists continue to appeal to his authority. Sure Mann may be right about something he has to say, and if we were arguing that everything he says is wrong because it's Mann, well then we would be "well poisoning". That's not what is being done.

Then warmists tried to continue their claims of the non-importance of the Little Ice Age and MWP, by switching to newly fabricated works to support Mann. They never admitted Mann was wrong, or that his paper was garbage, which it was. Instead they tried to claim that because someone else came up with the same answer, Briffa, that somehow that made Mann's errors not matter. However that is not true. Mann still made the mistakes and therefore still cannot be used as an authority, and by the way, none of the peer reviewers of that paper either.

Worse for alarmists the Briffa paper had math errors of it's own. It relied on a statistically insignificant sample of trees, and worst it rested almost solely on one freak tree. You can't measure climate based on growth rings of a single tree.

The criticisms are valid, and so long as the alarmist scientists don't address these problems they are no longer doing science. They may be right but we cannot have as much confidence as in other areas of science, and remember even then science expects to make mistakes.

The emails show a recognition that MWP was recognized as a problem to the AGW argument. That there was a concerted effort to get rid of it. Science isn't supposed to work that way. Also there are various emails that fly back and forth admitting that there are serious problems with Mann's attempts at erasing the MWP.
Pointing out that these people are not to be trusted as scientists is not poisoning the well when we have evidence that they are explicitly rigging what matters. It's not like the science was denounced because they were hanging out with strippers. I recently had to defend Feynman against such a "poisoning the well" type attack, by a AGW proponent. Who's poisoning the well?

What Michael is doing here is actually a form of extreme prejudiced anecdotal and unspecific poisoning the well. He claims some unspecified opponents commit fallacies and that therefore all such opponents can be classified together and ignored on the basis of the poisoned well.

In fact isn't a kind of poisoned well approach exactly what your entire article is about? I'd say yes. You are certainly implying if not outright saying that all anti-AGW arguments are poisoned by sources of funding.

Jim Lippard said...

Brian:

The "This blog does not allow anonymous comments" notice is Blogger's based on my comment settings, not mine. It only means that a Blogger or Google account is required. I don't have a problem with anonymous or pseudonymous comments, only with spam, off-topic, or abusive comments.

I probably should only have linked to the Scienceblogs discussion that you were involved in rather than copying it over (and thus republishing its insults). I apologize for that.

You still misunderstand me on "begging the question." That is the name of a logical fallacy. Michael did indeed *mention* the name of a logical fallacy--he referred to it--even though he didn't attribute it, because he thought it meant something else. I likewise *mentioned* the words "imply" and "infer" in an analogy--those words are often mistakenly reversed in meaning--but I was not *using* them to say that Michael had implied or inferred something. My sole point of agreement with DuckPhup about "begs the question" is that it was a misuse of the phrase.

If you don't think that all of these other science organizations have been corrupted, then you have the problem of explaining why all of them have come to issue statements that endorse AGW, while none have issued statements skeptical of AGW--and only the American Association of Petroleum Geologists has been identified as having a noncommittal statement.

I agree with you that individual wackos holding a position don't by themselves discredit a position. However, an organization endorsing wackos does discredit an organization. It can salvage the discredit by correcting itself, but I don't see that happening with, e.g., the Heartland Institute or OISM. You sidestepped my question which was also asking your opinion of the organizations in my original post, not just the IPCC. You've made it clear that you think the IPCC is corrupted (even though climate change skeptics participate in the process, even as a lead author on WG1, and even though Robert Balling says the IPCC WG1 report is the best place for the layman to get information about the best available climate science), but what about these organizations that endorse pseudoscience and put forth fake experts? Why the resistance to agreeing that this is to their discredit, which is the main point of my original post?

You may see my original post as well-poisoning, but I almost completely avoided the "denier" term (attributing it only to "some" of the organizations mentioned, not to individuals--though I think it is reasonable to do so if an individual is clearly taking an ideological line, repeating the same bad arguments, and expressing skepticism only in a single direction). The careful reader will recognize that I explicitly pointed out that "climate skeptics" aren't all the same--in fact, many of them accept AGW, even while organizations that deny it appeal to their criticisms.

You say you're aware of evidence that the MWP was global, but you don't refer to any. I take it from your position that you are not one of those people who says there is no sense to be made of global temperature. But you can leave that issue aside, along with the speleothem and hockey stick math debate, since they are better discussed in another forum--this isn't a climate science blog.

Jim Lippard said...

Brian: "You are certainly implying if not outright saying that all anti-AGW arguments are poisoned by sources of funding."

I'm neither saying nor implying that. In fact, the summary of my original post explicitly says the opposite: "The above doesn't demonstrate that climate skepticism is without merit, but it does demonstrate that there are reasons to be skeptical--and in many cases extremely skeptical--about some of the organizations and individuals promoting climate skepticism, independently of their arguments."

james said...

"there are reasons to be skeptical--and in many cases extremely skeptical--about some of the organizations and individuals promoting climate skepticism, independently of their arguments"

This an inherently anti-scientific thing to say. You can't prejudge any scientific work independent from the arguments. You're basically saying that if science is funded from a particular source, you'll write off the conclusions as biased without even bothering to consider the arguments?

Sources of funding do not provide legitimate grounds to evaluate science. It is important to be skeptical about any published scientific result, irrespective of who funded it. Provided something is published in the peer reviewed literature, it deserves a fair shake.

Jim Lippard said...

James: "This an inherently anti-scientific thing to say. You can't prejudge any scientific work independent from the arguments. You're basically saying that if science is funded from a particular source, you'll write off the conclusions as biased without even bothering to consider the arguments?

Sources of funding do not provide legitimate grounds to evaluate science. It is important to be skeptical about any published scientific result, irrespective of who funded it. Provided something is published in the peer reviewed literature, it deserves a fair shake."

First of all, I'm talking primarily about evaluating organizations, and secondarily evaluating individuals, for trustworthiness, not evaluating the science. Second, nonexperts in many cases cannot evaluate the science--they have to make decisions about who to trust. Third, a reason to be skeptical doesn't necessarily mean a reason to dismiss, nor does it mean that it is a non-rebuttable reason. Fourth, "the peer-reviewed literature" is not a monolithic category--some journals are of higher quality and status than others. Creationists have peer-reviewed journals of their own, but that's not a reason for evolutionary scientists to subscribe to them. In the climate science context, _JPANDS_ ranks very low, as do _Energy & Environment_ and _Climate Research_.

Jim Lippard said...

BTW, James, it's not anti-scientific to make use of a shorthand method of evaluation of that method works reliably. It's also a mistaken view of science that it doesn't involve social factors.

james said...

"nonexperts in many cases cannot evaluate the science--they have to make decisions about who to trust"

I can appreciate this. This is the reality that most people live with, which I understand. Admittedly, I don't spend much time trying to evaluate a huge number of papers. I only evaluate the ones I read carefully. Its obviously time consuming, but if I took a shortcut, I'm fairly sure I wouldn't be able to evaluate anything accurately. I'd be wrong A LOT.

james said...

"it's not anti-scientific to make use of a shorthand method of evaluation of that method works reliably. It's also a mistaken view of science that it doesn't involve social factors."

I don't agree with this at all. I don't believe that such shorthand methods can work "reliably" or that they are scientific. They are shortcuts to save time and avoid struggling with concepts. If you want to evaluate the ideas of an individual, I do not believe you can do it without considering their actual ideas.

The objective of science is to advance understanding to the point where outcomes can be predicted accurately. Social factors certainly influence science in many ways, but they will not generally influence processes and outcomes. The question of how society should utilize science is a very difficult one. What makes the climate debate so tricky is that the science is in many ways a work in progress. Processes impacting climate change are diverse and complex, and many are not completely understood. There is little doubt in the scientific community that anthropogenic forces influence global climate. However, it is extremely difficult to make reliable predictions regarding the precise nature of these effects and the influences they may have on the planet in the future.

Most of the political pressure for action on global climate change derives from this uncertainty. We are relatively certain that human actions influence the climate, that the climate is changing and will continue to change. We don't know how much it will change, how fast, or what the consequences will be. We can use climate models to make an educated guess, but to a large extent any action we take will be based on the fact that we're afraid that some of the changes will be bad. People are attracted to concepts like "carbon neutrality" because if something bad does happen, they won't feel like it was their fault. This isn't to say that carbon neutrality isn't based on science to some degree, but it is based on ethics, not science. We also can't predict what a carbon neutral climate looks like. What happens if we don't like it? Do we go the route of climate optimization? If you want to influence the climate, there are a lot of ways to do it. Most of them aren't especially ethical.

These questions are pretty academic because carbon neutrality is not really politically feasible. Al Gore's giant house is a pretty good example. Many of the people who believe climate change is a real problem still prefer to buy climate offsets rather than adopt a more sustainable lifestyle when it might be inconvenient. Economists have somehow managed to trick people into thinking that carbon neutrality is something you can buy! They even tricked Al Gore! Meanwhile, billboards in my neighborhood claim that coal is now "clean and green". I look forward to a lifetime of burning coal for energy while the utility company charges extra to pretend that the energy was generated with the handful of windmills they built to ruin the view.

I don't believe the climate change debate is about science at all. I think its about scientific realities inconveniencing people, and people either trying to convince themselves that it isn't happening (skeptics), convince other people it isn't happening (oil / gas/ coal industries), or concoct crazy schemes to delude themselves into thinking they are solving the problem (alarmists). Its quite a grand human comedy. The windmills are pretty irritating though.

Jim Lippard said...

james: "I don't agree with this at all. I don't believe that such shorthand methods can work "reliably" or that they are scientific. They are shortcuts to save time and avoid struggling with concepts. If you want to evaluate the ideas of an individual, I do not believe you can do it without considering their actual ideas."

I agree with your last sentence, but it doesn't follow from that that all individuals' ideas are worth evaluating or that anyone would want to evaluate them.

Surely there are cases where we can determine that it's not worth the time or effort to evaluate an individuals' ideas, or to take an organization seriously. And, to repeat my point, if you find that there is evidence of misrepresentation, that gives you more reason to watch out for it.

"Social factors certainly influence science in many ways, but they will not generally influence processes and outcomes." The history of science contains numerous counter-examples. We hope that social factors don't win out in the long run, but sometimes it takes an accumulation of evidence over a long time to overcome socio-cultural factors.

Jim Lippard said...

To augment my previous reference to a critique of Wegman, Deep Climate has no found evidence of further problems with it (including plagiarism and misrepresenting a plagiarized source!).

Nate said...

Those are political arguments, not scientific ones. They are arguing about public school teaching.

Indeed you are correct. However this is irrelevant. You also stated, and I quote verbatim:

"AGW is mostly about a political fight, not science." Similarly creationism/Intelligent Design is not a scientific disagreement, but a political one. Whether the scientists are biologists or climatologists, when they play political games they do indeed turn to political tools such as consensus, authority and citation.

You can call me "delusional" all you want, but that won't change what you said, nor make it accurate through repetition:

Over the past 40 years of reading. I never heard biologists arguing from consensus on evolution, nor did they chime on and on about peer review, nor make appeals to authority like alarmist climatologist do. Nor any of the other shenanigans that go on in climate science.

In addition, in a separate post you have attached my name to comments I did not make. Was this accidental? If so, could you issue a correction to your post?

Regardless, you will most likely continue to respond to any and all counter-examples to your original claim (the only claim of yours I've contested) by dismissing them as irrelevant. This is a common tactic known as moving the goalposts. For those not familiar with the term:

wikipedia Moving the goalpost, also known as raising the bar, is an informal logically fallacious argument in which evidence presented in response to a specific claim is dismissed and some other (often greater) evidence is demanded. In other words, after an attempt has been made to score a goal, the goalposts are moved to exclude the attempt. This attempts to leave the impression that an argument had a fair hearing while actually reaching a preordained conclusion.

That's an inherently dishonest approach to debate, and one I won't contribute to

Kevan Hashemi said...

Intelligent Design and Creationism both propose the existence of a super-natural power, and so cannot be considered scientific theories. This was the finding of Federal Judge John E. Jones, and requires no assumption about the truth or falsehood of either theory.

Anthropomorphic Global Warming makes no claim about super-natural power. Nevertheless, the theory has no empirical basis. Nobody has performed experiments upon the climate to show that increasing C02 concentration causes a rise in temperature and decreasing CO2 causes a drop in temperature. All we have are climate histories of dubious accuracy.

The fact that we have not tested the AGW theory with repeated experiments on the climate means the theory has no empirical basis. It does not matter whether AGW is true or not. It does not matter how many climatologists believe in AGW. The theory has no empirical basis.

"But we can't perform such experiments!" the climatologists say. Quite right, you can't. "We won't be able to make any predictions if we are forced to prove them with experiments!" Quite right, you won't. "So we will make predictions without experiments, and say they are scientific." You go right ahead.

For every ten convincing and superb theories I come up with in my lab, only one turns out to be true. That's because I subject my ideas to the test of experiments. Climatologists don't have to bother with experiments, so they can believe whatever they like. Consensus and Peer-Review are their basis for their theories.

And of course, when you disagree with them, they insult you.

Jim Lippard said...

Kevan: You have an impoverished view of science that excludes all historical sciences. There's more to science than experimental science; but in any case, climate science arguably started with the experiments of John Tyndall on greenhouse gases. Climate science does make testable predictions, that's what the modeling is for. And climate modeling is philosophically analogous to the use of measurement instruments (cf. Norton and Suppe, "Why atmospheric modeling is good science" in C. A. Miller and P.N. Edwards, eds, _Changing the Atmosphere_, MIT Press, 2001, pp. 67-105).

To say that AGW and climate science make no testable empirical claims is transparently false.

Your quotes attributed to climate scientists appear to be straw men of your own creation.

Jim Lippard said...

BTW, readers who've come this far in the comments may be interested in the exchanges with Kevan Hashemi on this Tamino's Open Mind blog post.

Jim Lippard said...

Keven: "Intelligent Design and Creationism both propose the existence of a super-natural power, and so cannot be considered scientific theories. This was the finding of Federal Judge John E. Jones, and requires no assumption about the truth or falsehood of either theory."

While it's true that a hypothesis that is compatible with any possible outcome can't be scientific, it's still the case that many creationists and ID advocates make falsifiable claims that have, in fact, been falsified.

james said...

Hashemi's argument is extremely unsophisticated. The fact that we can't run global-scale climate experiments means that there is "no empirical basis" for AGW? Its pretty obvious why people don't run global-scale experiments. What has been done are experiments which focus on many different processes that are directly relevant. How do you think people come up with infrared absorption spectra for various molecules including CO2? You don't come up with something like that from "consensus and peer review".

There is actually quite a lot of empirical evidence for global warming. A huge number of processes influence the global climate. The claim that CO2 influences global climate is not based solely on a faulty historical record, as you would suggest, but on the fact that the mechanism by which CO2 warms the planet is quite well understood and has been studied for a long time. Nobody claims that CO2 solely determines the state of climate. The claim is that CO2 is one of many important variables. Since anthropogenic sources make up a significant fraction of the CO2 in the atmosphere, you will get an anthropogenic contribution to the global climate from CO2.

Of course, there are LOTS of other anthropogenic sources to the climate state. Things like deforestation (and others relating to land use), increased cloud cover due to various human activities (such as air travel and various industrial processes), and so forth. Obviously, all of these anthropogenic effects won't contribute to increasing the planet's temperature; many will actually decrease temperatures.

If you think there isn't empirical evidence for global warming, you might want to consider doing some research on the history of the greenhouse effect. You will find plenty of empirical studies going back to Fourier's work in the 1820s. Our understanding of this mechanism has come a long way since then. Just because you can't run a controlled experiment using the entire planet doesn't mean there isn't empirical evidence. Obviously there are many feedback loops which influence climate in ways which are not well understood, but the statement that "consensus and peer review are the basis for their theories" is totally false. I'm not surprised that people would insult you if you make such claims. It makes it sound like you don't know what you're talking about.

Peter Staats said...

Jim says, "Kevan: You have an impoverished view of science that excludes all historical sciences. There's more to science than experimental science; but in any case, climate science arguably started with the experiments of John Tyndall on greenhouse gases. Climate science does make testable predictions, that's what the modeling is for. And climate modeling is philosophically analogous to the use of measurement instrument."

Exceptional claims require exceptional evidence, especially when the claims may result in huge economic and social dislocations. I claim it is not possible to obtain the exceptional evidence from "philosophically analogous" measurements. Only hard science, not climate science, can provide the level of evidence required. And please don't resort to the precautionary principle -- that is another canard.

Kevan Hashemi said...

Three times I asked Tamino, "Has there been any statistically significant warming in the last decade." Three times he blocked my comment. The third time he told me to, "Go away."

Tamino's own calculations show that the answer to my question is "No." The models touted by the IPCC in 1995 predicted significant warming in the upcoming decade. They were wrong.

You can use climate models to make predictions if you like. You can use the bible too. I don't want to belittle your beliefs nor anyone else's. But if you want me to trust your predictions, your use of models will have to be severely restricted.

Kevan Hashemi said...

James says, "Just because you can't run a controlled experiment using the entire planet doesn't mean there isn't empirical evidence." You are welcome to that opinion, as you are to any other belief about how science should proceed. In the light of your opinion, I perfectly understand and respect your faith in climate models.

I myself, however, do not believe any theory unless it has been proved with a great many experiments. In the case of climate theories, that means experiments upon an entire climate system. If we freeze the models now and let them run for two hundred years, and find they work, then great. Until then, I'm not going to trust the models.

My criteria for accepting a theory are stricter than yours. The principles of physics and engineering pass my stricter criteria, but those of climatology do not.

Lippard asks, "Who are the climate change skeptics?" After polling my colleagues, I can say, "Most experimental scientists."

Kevan Hashemi said...

Jim says, "While it's true that a hypothesis that is compatible with any possible outcome can't be scientific..." Good point, but I was referring to the fact that Intelligent Design makes use of a Divine Being. This Divine Being is super-natural. The judge said that science is the study of Natural Phenomena, not Super-Natural Phenomena, so Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory right out of the gate, before it makes any predictions and before it can be falsified in any way. Well, I thought that was interesting. I hope you do too.

Nate said...

Just for grins, check out the discovery institute's take on AGW, and how how similar their persecution is to that of AGW dissenters:

Climategate Recalls Attacks on Darwin Doubters.

Jim Lippard said...

Peter: I'm not an advocate of any of the many versions of the precautionary principle, and don't think it's necessary to motivate mitigation and adaptation activity.

Kevan: Does evolutionary biology meet your criteria for what counts as science? Apparently your colleagues are not representative of any major national science academy or scientific organization.

Kevan Hashemi said...

Jim: Yes, evolutionary biology does meet my criteria for a scientific theory. Absolutely. But not AGW. Do you want to debate that?

Jim Lippard said...

Kevan: Not particularly, not in this comment thread, and certainly not on New Year's Eve, since we've got people coming over shortly.

For an on-topic comment, how about saying whether you think the original post raises any legitimate concerns about the reliability of the organizations or individuals described? So far, the anti-AGW commenters here have declined to offer an opinion about that for some reason, even though that's the point of the post.

I won't be approving any more comments until 2010. Happy new year, everybody!

james said...

Kevan,

Who said I had faith in climate models? To say that I believe the climate can be accurately predicted based on current understanding would be false. My comments have consistently indicated as much. However, empirical evidence is different from empirical fact, which you don't seem to appreciate. I don't accept many things as empirical fact; this is reserved for things like conservation of energy, the speed of light is a constant, etc. Science does not solely consist of empirical facts. Logical deductions from those facts are what usually form the basis of scientific theories.

Also, I'm sure that someone will inevitably call to your attention that a AGW is absolutely a scientific theory. I'm not sure how you intend to argue otherwise. Just because you don't believe something doesn't mean it isn't a scientific theory.

For example, creationism is not a scientific theory because it is not testable by experiment as it presupposes the existence of a supernatural power. All we have to do to test AGW is wait and see what happens to the climate. It is a completely testable scientific theory!

My opinion is not that you have high standards. My opinion is that you are sloppy with terminology and that you are making an extremely lazy argument. It seems clear that you do not understand the role of modeling in the development of scientific theories. Do you wish to state that construction of climate models does not advance our scientific understanding of these very complex global processes? Do you suggest that we avoid studying such a complex process because you don't believe it can be understood? I'm not criticizing you because I think AGW is a proven scientific theory, because it IS NOT a proven scientific theory. I'm criticizing you because you clearly don't understand what a scientific theory is.

Kevan Hashemi said...

Jim,

You went to a lot of effort to gather the information you presented in your post, and I commend you for that.

To me, however, there is a sanctity about a person's funding and personal beliefs that must not be violated in a discussion of science. If a climatologist is receiving millions of dollars to look into AGW, I will do my best never to suggest that they are twisting the data to perpetuate their funding. If I disagree with their conclusions, I must present an argument that is based only upon data and logic. Once I allow myself to cross over into a discussion of people's personal motives, it's a sure sign that there's something wrong with my position, or I'm yielding to my frustration, which is unbecoming.

Furthermore, I consider it my duty to ignore anyone else's efforts to discuss the character and personal motives of other climatologists and skeptics alike.

Having said that, I have enjoyed my visit at your site, and I thank you for engaging me in debate. If you'd like to see me demonstrate that evolutionary biology has an empirical basis, come visit me at my site. I don't moderate comments, so you have no fear of me cutting you off when you have me cornered.

Happy New Year, Kevan

Kevan Hashemi said...

James says, "I'm criticizing you because you clearly don't understand what a scientific theory is." Perhaps you can help enlighten me. Is the theory, "Gravity will work every day except for the last day in 2010," a scientific theory?

james said...

"Gravity will work every day except for the last day in 2010," isn't a scientific theory unless you have a plausible rational basis for making the claim. You would be expected to make a compelling argument why this should be so based on understanding of gravitation and/or other generally understood principles. Presumably this would be difficult to do for such a claim. Pure speculation clearly cannot form the basis of a scientific theory.

Kevan Hashemi said...

My theory, call it Theory A, is "Gravity will work every day except the last day of 2010." Theory A makes predictions. It can be falsified. Indeed, A is consistent with a large number of experiments, any one of which could have falsified it.

And yet you reject theory A. You say that I have to make a "compelling argument" in favor of A before A can qualify as a scientific theory. What is your definition of a "compelling argument"? Does it involve consensus and peer review?

As a motivation for your answer, let me propose Theory B, which is that Theory A will work every day except the last day of 2010. Is that theory scientific?

Jim Lippard said...

Kevan, James: I'll allow a few more comments on this side philosophy of science conversation (which is starting to look a bit reminiscent of Nelson Goodman's "new riddle of induction"), but I suggest that it would be better to continue it at another location since it doesn't directly relate to the original post.

james said...

"Compelling argument" does not involve consensus and peer review, as subjecting a theory to peer review review (or requiring consensus) has no impact on the capability of a theory to predict phenomena.

My position on theory A is that if you want to say that the theory of gravitation won't hold on a particular day, you have to be able to defend this belief based on logic. Even if you happened to be correct, you don't get credit for predicting phenomena unless you can explain why.

Theory B is logically equivalent to the theory of gravitation. Fundamental forces fall into the class of things which I am willing accept as empirical facts (as long as contradictions can not be identified).

As per Jim's request, this will be my last post on the topic.

Kevan Hashemi said...

Jim, I perfectly understand your reluctance to have this debate continue much longer here. (And, by the way, I have solved the New Riddle of Induction, so I bring it up any chance I get.)

James, would you mind continuing over at my blog? I will look for your answer there.

GREENHEARTED said...

Gentlemen, gentlemen, sheesh. Listen to yourselves!

All I hear is pontificating, head butting, arguing while the Earth burns, and not giving a crap for the children of any species.

For heaven's sake, get a grip and look at what's happening. Forget the scientists, the deniers, the skeptics -- look around the world!

An alarmist is not an alarmist if she sounds the alarm because something is alarming. And if you don't believe in the precautionary principle (I'd have thought that's like motherhood and apple pie), then please let's bring some compassion -- for anyone younger than yourself -- into the discussion.

Julie Johnston

GREENHEARTED said...

Forgot to mention a really important new book, by James Hoggan. It's called Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming, and it's a book about the topic of this blog post. Reads like a mystery novel.
Julie

Don Thieme said...

This is an excellent research project, which I hope that you continue to expand and publish upon. I have linked to your post and your blog.

Stephen said...

Nice work on the analysis.

Regarding the parallels between creationist tactics and AGW denier tactics, I refer you to one of my recent posts at my blog:
http://demon-hauntedworld.blogspot.com/2010/01/top-ten-ways-climate-deniers-are-like.html

Michael Turton said...

Excellent work! Very useful. You might want to add Jeff Masters Skeptics vs the Ozone Hole piece at WU

http://www.wunderground.com/education/ozone_skeptics.asp

Steve just above, I posted a similar but longer Creationism/Denialism table at DKOS the other day.

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/11/21/806905/-Climate-Denial-Sociopathology,-Creationism:-Hacked-Emails,-Piltdow

Michael

birdbrainscan said...

Hi Jim,

Just found your page; Ggeat post and glad to see my climate activists/skeptics stats pages were helpful.

For the question of word searches in collecting publication stats, I think searches on "evolution" are not that comparable. I'll argue that while some articles relevant to climate science might fail to contain the word "climate," it's hard to see how someone could be actively publishing on climate change or climate science without using this word fairly regularly. Furthermore, the disparity in the stats between IPCC authors and skeptic signers on this metric is just so glaring that complaints about the imperfections of the metric seem moot.
So what using the word "climate" captures only part of the climate science literature? Surely what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and any shortfall in coverage with this term is not going to favor one group or the other?

The median number of papers mentions climate for the 619 IPCC AR4 wg1 authors is 93. The median among the 472 signers of any of the ten climate skeptic declarations that I've tabulated is ... two (2). It's astronomically implausible for that difference to be a mere artefact of the choice of search term.

Jim Prall,
Toronto, Canada

birdbrainscan said...

Another important new book is _Not A Conspiracy Theory_ by Donald Gutstein.
This Tyee article provides an extract on climate denial astroturfing by big oil:

Tyee article

Raymond said...

Great dialogue! I have been looking over "Environmental effects of increased Atmospheric carbon dioxide" from the OISM folks. I have heard fair criticism of their aged degrees, the inappropriateness of their degrees and even their motivation, but is there evidence that the data they used was skewed in any way? (I am a little surprised we would have some of that older data).
AGW seems a perfectly sound concept, but is it irresponsible to suggest other factors, like solar activity, contributed to a .8% increase in global temperature in the twentieth century?

Jim Lippard said...

Raymond: Global warming doesn't correlate with solar activity. See http://www.skepticalscience.com/solar-activity-sunspots-global-warming.htm.