One of the memes I’ve heard recently in the climate debate is that there is no scientific consensus — that there is actually strong disagreement.

The main basis of this argument is that 31,486 dissenting scientists have signed a petition against the belief that Global Warming is man made at the PetitionProject.org.

I don’t want to debate climate change; rather, I want to look at that argument to see if there are any statistical flaws in it.

My problem is whenever anyone uses a single, out of context, data point. What does this number actually mean? Is 31,486 alot or a little? How many scientists are there in the US? etc.

I heard this argument the other day, and went hunting down a visual way to express it, and found this via Information is Beautiful:

>

>

This does not resolve the debate — there are more variations (Climate Change: A Consensus Among Scientists?) — at but it demonstrates an obvious flaw in the “dissenting scientist” argument.

Here is the breakdown of skeptics, by field:

Interesting stuff . . .

Category: Mathematics, Really, really bad calls, Science

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

136 Responses to “Statistics: Scientific Consensus on Climate Change?”

  1. EDITOR says:

    Attention morons, asshats, trolls, and dipshits:

    Please READ what this post is about before responding. It is not about Climate Change. Its is about statistics. Please take the knee jerk arguments elsewhere.

  2. thfiv says:

    The earth was once molten then there was an ice age and now it is both cooler and warmer than it once was. Man had no influence on those events. Earth is warming and it is cooling. It depends on your reference point and time frame.

    ~~~

    BR: Right on queue . . .

  3. franklin411 says:

    Great graphic!

    Incidentally, a housemate of mine last year was a PhD student in physics, a strong Republican, a lifetime member of the NRA, and even he was disgusted by the GOP’s appeal to faith over science when it came to the issues of climate and evolution.

  4. willid3 says:

    while i suspect we have had some impact, and considering its always been a balancing act for nature to keep what ever climate we have lived in, so that we could upset that balance isn’t that far fetched. i suspect that it won’t matter as its probably to late to stop the climate change and that we will have to deal with it as it happens.

  5. call me ahab says:

    f411-

    it is interesting that you lump climate and evolution together- someone can be a devout Christian and still believe in climate change-

    but you’re not too bright- so what does it matter

    BR-

    the better analysis would be to NOT look at all scientists- just those who believe in AGW-

    or is your assumption that all the other scientist are firmly in the AGW camp if the did not sign the petition?

  6. jz says:

    Barry, the number of scientists argument is a poor one, and it shows that there is no data to back up what those pushing their climate change/ global warming (the switch was made because there is no more global warming) agenda.

    Any fool can look at CO2 levels from the Mauna Loa Observatory and see that CO2 levels were rising when Time Magazine infamously predicted the next ice age in the early 1970s. See the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mauna_Loa_Observatory

    The scientists’ excuse for this data was CFCs were causing the cooling which begs the question the authors of Super Freaknomics bring up, if global warming does exist and can be treated with geoengineering that these same scientists admit works, why not pursue that strategy as opposed to limiting carbon emissions which has never been shown to work?

    Probably the funniest story I have with regards to poll numbers were the use of the drugs flecainide and encainide that were used to treat abnormal rhythms of the heart. The idea was the suppressing abnormal heart rhythms would prevent sudden cardiac death, and if you polled cardiologists at the time, there would have been wide spread support for doing so.

    Then the CAST study comes out, and it turned out that people who were on flecainide and encainide were two and a half more times likely to die than those on placebo. Apparently, the authors of the report made their final statements to a nearly empty room as cardiologists were running out of the auditorium , calling their offices, and screaming to get their patients off those damned drugs.

    The bottom line is that anyone who relies upon polling for truth is not a scientist. By definition, such a person is a politician.

  7. franklin411 says:

    @willid3
    Well, regardless, I think it’s utter insanity that Americans can’t agree that carbon is a valuable commodity, and reducing waste is just plain smart business.

  8. krice2001 says:

    It seems pretty logical that CO2 levels influence surface temperatures and there is no debate on that. That humans activities are raising those levels is also without a doubt. It seems hard to argue that man is not a major contributor to climate change unless one wants an excuse to continue what we are already doing – which is human nature, I suppose. And that human nature ties in to why so many want to subscribe to the idea that maybe man can just do what we want and it won’t matter.

    I would love to believe that, but it doesn’t make much sense. And there is a general consensus among climate scientists – the debate among them seems to mostly be at what rate are man’s activities affecting surface temperatures.

    As willid3 says it may be too late but that’s mostly because after so many years of us and other developed nations being the primary contributors to whatever changes are occuring, it gets tougher to tell developing nations that it’s they that have to restrict their development for the benefit of the rest of us.

  9. rootless_cosmopolitan says:

    If one goes to the original article, http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf, to be found when one follows the link provided by Barry, the discrepancy between the perception of the matter by the public and the very strong consensus among climate scientists who actually work on the subject is quite striking.

    rc

  10. Climate change skeptics have succeeded in convincing much of the public that global warming is a live issue of contention among climate scientists. The facts tell us otherwise. For example, in December, 2004, Science Magazine (AAAS) reported:

    The American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the AAAS all have issued statements in recent years concluding that the evidence for human modification of climate is compelling.

    … [While these reports] might downplay legitimate dissenting opinions, [that] hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords “climate change.”

    … Of all the [928] papers, 75% .. either explicitly or implicitly accept[ed] the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position. (My emphasis, EP).

  11. thfiv says:

    Party like it’s 1999.

  12. Dennis says:

    thfiv Says:

    “The earth was once molten then there was an ice age and now it is both cooler and warmer than it once was. Man had no influence on those events. Earth is warming and it is cooling. It depends on your reference point and time frame.”

    Wow, an astonishingly silly and useless argument. You can substitute ANYTHING for that and still end up with “depends on your reference point and time frame” as an answer.

  13. Marcus Aurelius says:

    An interesting related link from Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism, this morning:

    http://www.truthout.org/1229093

    Not that it will influence anyone’s thinking on the matter.

  14. wunsacon says:

    C’mon, ahab. You can accuse F411 of painting with a broad brush. But, yes, climate “skepticism” and evolution “skepticism” are more correlated than they are not. Pointing out that they aren’t 100% correlated does not make F411 “stupid”.

  15. Marcus Aurelius says:

    thfiv Says:

    The earth was once molten then there was an ice age and now it is both cooler and warmer than it once was. Man had no influence on those events. Earth is warming and it is cooling. It depends on your reference point and time frame.
    _________

    Thus, any other scenario is impossible and should be discounted and railed against, regardless of supporting evidence.

    Oy.

  16. DM RTA says:

    The engineers, computer scientists, code writers, and healthcarte professionals included in that graphic are hardly meaningful to make the point that a consensus is overwhelming. phew! (HMN)

    I don’t have an opinion on warming other than to note that we get less snow in the northeast since I was a boy even if the first storm this year was big. I will however point out that the concept of social mood is all about how we (collectively) perceive the always uncertain events of the future with a sense of pessimism or optimism and through this shared state we create our own perceived reality. When we correct as a society we are expressing shared pessimism as we look out and ahead. And if you consider 2000 was the actual peak and that we have been “correcting” ever since, then most of the progress in the green movement is simply in keeping with social norms expected during such a period of social mood.

    The earth may actually be about to go over the falls for all I know but opinion polls that include health care professionals get us no closer to informed decisions about how to commit very precious social resources these days. Why hasn’t the argument been distilled effectively? Is it maybe owing to populist sentiment a little too much? I think so….even if the science is right, which seems impossible to prove, why don’t we get more arguments that are less emotional?

  17. thfiv says:

    Science has nothing to do with consensus.
    Consensus is politics.
    Science requires one investigator to be right.
    Results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.
    In science, consensus is irrelevant.
    What is relevant is reproducible results.
    The greatest scientists are great because they broke away from consensus.

    Consensus of scientists has frequently been wrong.
    They believed continents did not move.
    Mark Twain said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

  18. Chuck Ponzi says:

    I call bullshit on Information is Beautiful. They’re just as bad as either side of the climate debate in stretching their own statistics to make their point.

    Total workforce is only 151M, so they’re saying that almost 1/12 is a scientist? Saying that anyone with a degree in any field somewhat resembling a “science” is not the same as trying to put it in perspective. Who knows, there may be an undecided majority of 149M who just haven’t reviewed the underlying data.

    And, it has been proven that there was substantial upward-biased “normalization” of the data on the reviewed data. It would take a decade to unwind what pro-climate-change “scientists” have done to the data and look at it with a non biased approach. That’s not an insignificant task.

    We may be looking at the modern day equivalent of trepanning. In case you don’t remember, the scientific consensus of the 1500′s was that fevers were caused by bad spirits invading the mind. Letting them out was the only logical choice. To read a few biased papers and claim to know what’s happening is only logical for megalomaniacs like Al Gore. We should take a more reasoned approach and allow peer-reviewed analysis of the base data and access to statistical models and extrapolation equations. There’s too much money at stake here to get this wrong. On both sides.

    Chuck Ponzi

  19. cym says:

    It boggles my mind that “is it man-made or isn’t” is even a debate.

    Question: If you are driving down the road and a another car is coming straight at you, do you get out of the way?
    Most likely answer: You would definitely try. Yes.

    Question: If you are driving down the road and a pile of huge rocks and dirt start to slide down the hillside towards your car, do you get out of the way?
    Most likely answer: You would definitely try. Yes.

    Question: If you pull in to your driveway, see that your house is on fire, and someone is running out of your garage with an empty gas tank and a butane lighter, would you try to put out the fire, call 911?
    Most likely answer: You would definitely try. Yes.

    Question: If, as you pull in to your driveway, lightening strikes your house and sets it on fire, would you try to put out the fire, call 911?
    Most likely answer: You would definitely try. Yes.

    The point is, I don’t give a shit if the problem is 100% man-made or not. Man, tree, cyborg, who cares. There is more that enough reasonable, scientific evidence indicating that we can, at least to some degree, alter the speed at which climate change occurs. Climate change is a problem. How is whether or not we do something (which is the real reason this debate is even happening) a debatable point?

    Let’s add some other reasons as to why we just might want to do something: the possibility of peak oil (or political events causing economically crippling high prices), the need for new technologies to drive further economic growth (the consumer sure as hell won’t do it), the wasteful use of our limited clean water (how do you think oil is forced out of the tar sands), profit, first mover advantage, not wanting to live in a waste land, etc, etc….

  20. torrie-amos says:

    imho, it’s all pretty much a moot point unless you talk about not driving cars, or doing something substantial about mpg’s of cars, otherwise it’s like saying too an alchoholic if you don’t eat sugar on halloween you will be better, totally illogical, thus, i pay zero mind to it all

  21. thfiv says:

    @cym

    you are God

  22. Marcus Aurelius says:

    DM RTA

    “. . . why don’t we get more arguments that are less emotional?”
    ________

    Because emotional arguments are easier for entrenched, big money interests to foist on those who don’t, can’t, or are unwilling to understand science or the scientific method. See the link I posted, above.

    Other examples:

    Obama isn’t an American

    Our country was founded on Judeo/Christian religious principles

    Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9-11

    Intelligent design is valid science

    Sub-prime loans caused our current economic crisis

    There will be “death panels” if we move to universal healthcare

  23. thfiv says:

    This discussion is why you could make money if you were long stupidity.

  24. cym says:

    @ thfiv

    Thanks. I’m going to show this to my wife.

  25. GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

    Unless a scientist is working in the specific field, their opinion is at best equivalent to that of a well-informed non-scientist. A scientist who tries to use the fact that they are a scientist to lend credibility to their views on ANY subject in which they are not professionally competent is misleading the public.

  26. inessence says:

    @krice… see http://www.middlebury.net/op-ed/global-warming-01.html for a qualified comment on CO2, f411…only wall street as carbon market makers and the U.S.G. see carbon as wealth and revenue generators, for the rest of the common man it is another way to redistribute wealth and burden the already over burdened middle American taxpayer. Global warming is another “state of fear” hoisted upon us by bufoons such as Al Gore, et.al. What is clear is that one side of the debate has greater access to the msm in pushing their agenda and thus influences the sheeple, public opinion and social policy. Damnit, don’t we have anything better to do with our time!?

  27. Marcus Aurelius says:

    True conservatism seeks to mitigate perceived risks. We’d be smart to start addressing the risk that the scientific community is correct in their assumptions, as the alternative — maintaining the status quo — results in a dire outcome for our kids in a worst case scenario if the scientists are correct, and little benefit from a best case scenario if they are wrong.

  28. rootless_cosmopolitan says:

    @GeorgeBurnsWasRight:

    “Unless a scientist is working in the specific field, their opinion is at best equivalent to that of a well-informed non-scientist. A scientist who tries to use the fact that they are a scientist to lend credibility to their views on ANY subject in which they are not professionally competent is misleading the public.”

    Yeah, but you forget that most climate scientists who work on the subject are just part of a great conspiracy of hundreds or thousands of scientists from all over the world who have created the climate hoax, forged all the data and brainwashed the public for their sinister goals, for personal wealth and power. They have been pursuing their master plan for decades now. Thus, these scientists are the least reliable references regarding the matter of global warming.

    Just read some of the comments here.

    rc

  29. DM RTA says:

    Marcus Aurelius…that was a good read and seemingly convincing to consider that very stuff I am hungry to read in another 10 pages or so. Someone has to be able to explain the important determinants in a reasonable read. I am tired of skinny polar bears.

  30. Marcus Aurelius says:

    What’s with the “overburdened American taxpayer” schtick? US taxes are low when compared to both historic and global tax rates. We have lived beyond our tax revenue for years, and we will never pay the debt we already have. Where’s the burden? We bought this on ourselves precisely by not paying for what we have.

    If you want the smallest, weakest government and lowest taxes, Afghanistan might be the place to go.

  31. DL says:

    The latest issue of Chemical and Engineering news has an article on the debate over greenhouse gases, and some of the artifacts and specious arguments that may exist:

    http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/87/8751cover.html

  32. rootless_cosmopolitan says:

    @thfiv:

    Michael Crichton? You do it right. Listen to the elaborations of a fiction author, but not to the ones who actually work and publish on the subject scientifically. First one is right, latter must be wrong.

    Too bad that Michael Jackson is dead. I really would have liked to know his expert view on the subject.

    rc

  33. The Curmudgeon says:

    Is this how we discover truth now? By taking a poll. Had a poll been taken 400 years ago regarding whether the solar system was geocentric or heliocentric, I’m quite sure geocentricity would have won. But it still would have been wrong.

  34. call me ahab says:

    Marcus at 4:37- wow dude- thanks- i didn’t know any of that stuff- I’m always learning (-:

    Wunsacon-

    I did not use the “S” word (-: and I meant it in a good way (-:

    ok- maybe not

  35. johnbougearel says:

    Barry,

    Your headline is framed in such a way as to suggest there is not a consensus amongst scientists on global warming trends. For the folks that only read your headline, they are apt to see quite a few scientists (31,400) do not believe in anthropogenic forcing of global warming. They will not see the statistical flaw of a seemingly large number.

    Only those that drill down and do the math will realize that 31,400 scientists argue against man-made global warming only comprise 0.25% of the population of scientists. The other 99.75% are all agreed that the human influence of global warming trends is factual. Because many scientists with biased agendas have been minimizing the threat global warming poses and the govt has been actively censoring Global warming science for the past twenty years on behalf of the lobbyists in the fossil fuel industries, and because the height of that censoring took place in 2006-07, and because we are so close to an irreversible tipping point, I suggest you do not treat this subject so lightly by panning over statistical mirages. Your headline is a disservice to the facts and findings behind global warming and an impediment to the sense of urgency towards radical change. Reversing global warming trends is imperative for the securing the safety and soundness of life on this earth and will require significant policy changes out of Washington to avoid crossing an irreversible tipping point.

    The fact is, everytime the debate gets opened up by uninformed people it serves the agendas of those industries who would like to delay anything getting done about it. And we all know it will be business as usual in Washington and no chance of an effective energy policy and effective global warming policy forming if the public keeps getting mired in disinformation. Quite frankly, the clock is ticking against us.

    This is a subject matter where it is time to put opinions and debate aside and get seriously informed. I would urge all readers become better informed about the facts and findings behind threatening global warming trends and the need for policymakers to address these issues now and meet this challenge head on. To get better informed, please
    read Mark Bowen’s Censoring Science and sign up to NASA’s Jim Hansen’s email distribution list. To be added to the list distribution, please e-mail hansenemailserver@gmail.com with “ADD” as the subject of your message.

    Thank you

  36. call me ahab says:

    “Too bad that Michael Jackson is dead. I really would have liked to know his expert view on the subject.”

    now that’s funny

  37. inessence says:

    @marcus…you need to look beyond federal tax rates and include the increase and amounts of “fees” over time to get an accurate picture of the tax burden…while federal tax rates have declined federal, state andlocal “fees” have only increased…fees=taxes.

  38. inessence says:

    @johnbougearel…please get seriously informed at http://www.middlebury.net/op-ed/global-warming-01.html

  39. rootless_cosmopolitan says:

    @jz:

    “Barry, the number of scientists argument is a poor one, and it shows that there is no data to back up what those pushing their climate change/ global warming (the switch was made because there is no more global warming) agenda.”

    Right. The 97% or so climate scientists of the ones who work on the subject and who think global warming is man-made haven’t backed up this view with data published in the scientific literature. Instead, they just have made this up to support their evil agenda.

    Can you present scientific studies on global warming, in which it is “proven” by using polling results? I don’t think so. There aren’t any scientific studies, which base their conclusions on global warming on polling results. To suggest polling results would be used as “scientific” proof for global warming is just another “climate skeptic” straw man argument.

    The subject of the article here wasn’t to proof that man-made global warming was real. The subject was whether there is a consensus on the conclusions from the research. Do you understand the difference?

    “Any fool can look at CO2 levels from the Mauna Loa Observatory and see that CO2 levels were rising when Time Magazine infamously predicted the next ice age in the early 1970s. See the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mauna_Loa_Observatory

    Another strange argument. Because a news magazine predicted a next ice age in the early 1970s, the results from the scientific research on global warming can’t be true? Somehow I miss the logic here.

    “The scientists’ excuse for this data was CFCs were causing the cooling…”

    Which scientists? The misrepresentation here is the suggestion that there was some established scientific consensus on this matter. I am not aware that there was. And articles in news magazines who want to sell stories aren’t relevant.

    ” … which begs the question the authors of Super Freaknomics bring up, if global warming does exist and can be treated with geoengineering that these same scientists admit works, why not pursue that strategy as opposed to limiting carbon emissions which has never been shown to work?”

    Bogus argument. Geoengineering isn’t such a simple matter as suggested here. There is increasing research on it, though. To claim that science says “it works” is just not based on facts.

    “The bottom line is that anyone who relies upon polling for truth is not a scientist. By definition, such a person is a politician.”

    I hope you don’t forget to make the same statement and also what you said in your first sentence of your comment, when the next one of your “climate skeptic”-buddies brings up the 31,000 scientists who signed the petition according to which man-made global warming wasn’t real, to argue man-made global warming wasn’t real.

    rc

  40. call me ahab says:

    “Attention morons, asshats, trolls, and dipshits:’

    don’t sugar coat it for us Barry- tell us how you really feel-

    lmao- also-

    feel free to delete this post at your leisure and lastly-

    i would like to add that i take pride on being a complete troll :D

  41. Advocatus Diaboli says:

    Barry,

    I could get every single human on earth to believe that the earth is the center of the universe, but that would not change reality. AGW is not different.

    Science is about finding objective reality, not creating consensus. The universe does not care about human consenus and the echo chambers of “intellectuals”. You cannot fool reality.

    ~~~

    BR: I wanted to discuss statistics, not Global Warming . . .

  42. spigzone says:

    QUESTION THE OPENING PREMISE.

    A-L-W-A-Y-S start with the Opening Premise – in this case the NUMBER of supposed ‘scientists’.

    Successfully framing the argument is half the battle in disseminating lies and propaganda.

    The petition site is stupifyingly clumsy, head explodingly transparently fraudulent. http://www.petitionproject.org/

    Following a four line statement for one to register disagreement with is:

    1. a line for a signature.
    2. a box to check if one wants more ‘petitions’
    3. three boxes labeled B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. (check which one you are)
    4. a line following the above labeled ‘in the field of’

    Thats ALL THERE IS.

    The sample contained an illegible signature, the more petitions box checked, the PhD box checked, and ‘in the field of’ filled in ith ‘physics’.

    Is it even possible to contruct a more spurious, unverifiable, cheatable, transparently fraudulent ‘petition’?

    There is absolutely nothing at all to prevent groups of true believers from sitting around a table filling out these petitions enmasse. There is no way to verify any part of the petition. If even that was done.

    That 31,486 number is so totally and transparently bogus it boggles the mind it gained any traction whatsoever.

    So the argument now revolves around disproving that 31,486 ‘scientists’ are wrong.

    Sucessfully framing the argument is half the battle? … in this day and age, make that 90% of the battle.

    The people of this country don’t have a snowflakes chance in a molten lake of lava of averting disaster and a police state.

  43. Eric Davis says:

    The headwinds for all of this are;

    A. People have to know what a Consensus is.
    B. Have to know what a Scientist is.

    Since 90+% of all people couldn’t answer those questions, It’s just a Rorschach. I mean, hell we still have Social Scientists trying to pretend they know their ass from an elbow.

    The United States continues to fall behind in all engineering and science fields… WHY? because moron Christian White Assholes, wants the whole world to be just as fucking ignorant as they are, wandering around contemplating the Existence of Unicorns.

    Sub prime my ass, how about decline caused by a resurgence of Christian Mythology in society and education.

    For the Morons around here, How about realizing that because we don’t know exactly how the 3 toed sloth, got it’s claws, doesn’t put evolution in question.

    Science is all about asking more questions, as opposed to religion, which is about “Leaps of Faith” AKA pretending you know what your talking about.

    The real question is; if we are just to fucking stupid to prosper or even survive.

  44. wunsacon says:

    While evaluating whether or not global warming is real, you have to ignore imperfect messengers and enterprising asshats.

    The enterprising asshats will probably succeed because they know that nothing will be done without a compromise that cuts them in on huge profits. In contrast, if everyone were on board with taking action, we would end up with better policy.

  45. dr.j says:

    This is simply so stupid that I have to comment.

    You have made a career promoting the fact that you are better because you go against the fools who make up the “consensus.”

    As we have seen throughout history, stupid ideas often are supported by the consensus: slavery was widely embraced as a good idea by the consensus thinkers in many cultures and the world being flat was also a great consensus idea.

    For this “logic” to be used as a reason to dispute the dissenters is really beneath you.

    You are a dissenter and that is your value.

  46. wunsacon says:

    >> Earth is warming and it is cooling. It depends on your reference point and time frame.

    Feces is found in water in varying amounts. So, if I shit upstream from your water supply, don’t make a big fuss. 1000 years ago, you’d have been drinking worse.

  47. rootless_cosmopolitan says:

    @spigzone:

    This petition even has a comic aspect. They try to “disprove” global warming using an article published in the “Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons”. Perhaps the next fringe group will “disprove” quantum theory of fields in the “Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease”.

    rc

  48. rootless_cosmopolitan says:

    @dr.j:

    Actually, it’s the manipulative way, in which these “dissenters” make up a petition of about 31,000 scientists that say global warming wasn’t real to give the false impression to the public this subject was heavily disputed among scientists, that is disputed.

    rc

  49. wunsacon says:

    Anyone arguing there isn’t a “consensus” is either misled or misleading. More scientists belief in human-induced climate change than dentists recommending Trident.

    Since when is “over 99%” not a consensus? When you’re listening to idiots.

  50. wunsacon says:

    >> You have made a career promoting the fact that you are better because you go against the fools who make up the “consensus.”

    He dissents when he points out flaws in their assumptions or reasoning… Not “just because”.

  51. tjandthebear says:

    Barry,

    Might as well have titled it “Statistics: Economist Consensus on No Housing Bubble” and published it back in 2005.

    ~~~

    BR: Difference is Economics is not a science . . . In fact, you are hard pressed to provide much in the way of what economists as a group get right.

    On the other hand, Scientists have given us computers, medicine, electronics, industry, the internet, transportation, technology, safe food, indoor plumbing, etc.

  52. TerryC says:

    13 million scientists in the US? First of all, Barry, as a physics major, you should know this is a bullshit number. There are hardly 13 million americans who could pass trigonometry, let alone calculus. It took me one minute on google to find the following number of US scientists- 2,157,300. It’s from the National Science Foundation, and is at: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics (2001, last year available on their data).

    As a practicing geologist of 35 years with four degrees (3 geology, one MBA, sad to say) I know that just because you are a scientist doesn’t mean you have expertise in anything except the narrow field of your specialty you are working in. In other words, a crop scientist for the UN doesn’t know squat about climate change. Unfortunately, climatologists are the last people to know diddly about climate change, either. Many of them are actually meteorologists (yes, there is a difference), or, God forbid, physicists
    (an engineer with more math background). Geologists take a much longer look at climate, and ignore tiny time bumps and blips (your statistical outliers you mention in the article). From a geological time perspective, 50 years of snow in Miami doesn’t mean anything. Unfortunately, too many nonscientists have hijacked the climate change discussion and turned it into a naked power grab.

    Finally, if you check with NOAA and the Coast and Geodetic Survey, you will see that their best guess of sea level rise in the last century is about 14 inches. And, if anyone actually READS the UN report on climate change (not the retarded executive summary for morons), their best guess on sea level rise for the entire 21st century is…..drum roll please…..14 INCHES. Go figure.

  53. investorinpa says:

    I’m not sure what is worse….asking 10 economists a question in which you get 11 answers, or asking 10 scientists a question and getting the same answer by all 10. Sometimes, consensus can be just as bad as indecisiveness.

  54. Patrick Neid says:

    It helps to know why 31,000 plus scientists signed. It was in response to Al “I’m not a moron” Gore suggesting the absurd notion that there was consensus on global warming by his constant noting that 2500 scientists had signed the fraudulent IPCC United Nations paper.

    I’m willing to bet that the creators of this chart know that and still made this representation. I’m sorry to see that so many fall for this stuff. Talk about being led by the nose.

    More 72 Nobel prize winners, which appear to be esteemed around here, have signed this petition. Here’s a breakdown of the signers to date:

    http://www.petitionproject.org/qualifications_of_signers.php

    1. Atmospheric, environmental, and Earth sciences includes 3,804 scientists trained in specialties directly related to the physical environment of the Earth and the past and current phenomena that affect that environment.

    2. Computer and mathematical sciences includes 935 scientists trained in computer and mathematical methods. Since the human-caused global warming hypothesis rests entirely upon mathematical computer projections and not upon experimental observations, these sciences are especially important in evaluating this hypothesis.

    3. Physics and aerospace sciences include 5,812 scientists trained in the fundamental physical and molecular properties of gases, liquids, and solids, which are essential to understanding the physical properties of the atmosphere and Earth.

    4. Chemistry includes 4,821 scientists trained in the molecular interactions and behaviors of the substances of which the atmosphere and Earth are composed.

    5. Biology and agriculture includes 2,965 scientists trained in the functional and environmental requirements of living things on the Earth.

    6. Medicine includes 3,046 scientists trained in the functional and environmental requirements of human beings on the Earth.

    7. Engineering and general science includes 10,103 scientists trained primarily in the many engineering specialties required to maintain modern civilization and the prosperity required for all human actions, including environmental programs.

    That compares to Al Gore’s troupe of supposed signers:

    Using the Freedom of Information Act, it has been proven that the so-called 2500 scientists the IPCC claims make up their “consensus,” are really not scientists at all. Of that total, only 308 scientists reviewed the 2007 IPCC report. Many of them disagreed, some strongly so. Not surprisingly, all of their comments were rejected and not included in the report. The remaining 2192 so-called scientists came from all walks of life; politicians, government bureaucrats, social workers, and apparently even a hotel manager. Less than 40 of the 308 scientists were generally supportive of the hypothesis, and less than 5 actually endorsed the report. Yet, the report was hailed by the media as the consensus of thousands of scientists.

    rootless_cosmopolitan, apparently you don’t know much about Michael Crichton as you sluff him off as a “fiction writer”. You should have such a resume.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Crichton

    …..Crichton showed a keen interest in writing from a young age and at the age of just 14 had a column related to travel published in The New York Times. [3] Crichton had always planned on becoming a writer and commenced his studies at Harvard College in 1960.[3] During his undergraduate study in literature, Crichton conducted an experiment to catch off guard a professor who he believed was giving him abnormally low marks and criticising his literary style. Informing another professor of his suspicions, Crichton plagiarized a work by George Orwell and submitted it as his own. Unaware, the paper was returned by his professor with a mark of “B−”.[6] His issues with the English Department led Crichton to switch his course to biological anthropology as an undergraduate, obtaining his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in 1964.[7] Crichton was also initiated into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He went on to become the Henry Russell Shaw Traveling Fellow from 1964 to 1965 and Visiting Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom in 1965.

    Crichton later enrolled at Harvard Medical School when he began publishing work. By this time Crichton had become unusually tall. According to his own words, he was approximately 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 meters) tall in 1997.[8][9] In reference to his height, while in medical school, he began writing novels under the pen names John Lange and Jeffery Hudson (Lange is a surname in Germany, meaning “long” and Sir Jeffrey Hudson was a famous 17th century dwarf in the court of Queen Consort Henrietta Maria of England). In Travels, he recalls overhearing unaware doctors discussing the flaws in The Andromeda Strain while he maintained anonymity in medical school. A Case of Need, written under the Hudson pseudonym, won him his first Edgar Award for Best Novel in 1969. He also co-authored Dealing with his younger brother Douglas under the shared pen name Michael Douglas. The back cover of that book contains a picture of Michael and Douglas at a very young age taken by their mother.

    Crichton graduated from Harvard, obtaining an M.D. in 1969, and undertook a post-doctoral fellowship study at the Jonas Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, from 1969 to 1970

    He definitely hasn’t got a clue!

  55. Patrick Neid says:

    One more piece of trivia–over 9,000 have Ph.D’s in the fields noted above.

  56. bergsten says:

    As I promised myself to no longer contribute to such foolishness, I will refrain from saying that the “statistical flaw” that Barry is searching for is that the question should have been,”how many U.S. Scientists agree with human-induced climate change”? Failing to disagree, does not imply agreement, for example, I am arguably one of the “scientist” group (having a degree in engineering), yet, nobody asked me whether I agree or not.

    I will also refrain from mentioning that the definition of who is a scientist, while flattering, is seriously incorrect (again, using myself as an example).

    And, finally, while there are many more things I might say were I of the mind to say them, I would also opine that the “question” is insanely worded — does “disagreement with human-induced climate change” imply a desire or preference? In other words, the question seems to ask not if I believe it exists, but whether I would want it to occur?

    Anyway, to everyone out there, a very Happy (calendar) New Year.

    And to Barry, thank you for one final 2009 insult to my intelligence. I’d say my New Years’ resolution was to refrain from participating in such time-wasting nonsense, but as you can tell, I’ve already begun.

  57. Heretic says:

    This seems a bit like the situation the Roger’s commission faced investigating the Challenger accident. They were told that opinions about the safety of the SRB seals were divided; some people opposed the launch, but many disagreed. At least one commission member knew how to get to the bottom of things, though:

    “It struck me that the Thiokol managers were waffling.
    But I only knew how to ask simpleminded questions.

    …the two who were mentioned right
    away as being the best seal experts, both said no. ” So this
    “evenly split” stuff was a lot of crap. The guys who knew
    the most about the seals—what were they saying?”

    Richard P. Feynman
    “What Do You Care What Other People Think?”
    pp. 163-164

    So the statistical flaw here is to fail to compare the group of dissenters with the group of scientists who are actually experts on climate change.

  58. Rob Dawg says:

    In light of the recent revelations concerning those promoting the warmist agenda I wonder how many scientists would sign a petition fully supporting the IPCC position and underlying science.

  59. cheese says:

    Having just finished watching “Bull Durham”……..I think this particular quote from Crash Davis is apt here…

    “If you believe you’re winning because you’re getting laid, or, not getting laid, or because you wear women’s underwear……….THEN YOU ARE………..AND, YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT!”

    C’mon Barry…………dazzle me……..show me another picture……..

  60. VennData says:

    Sticking to the point of the post… the “scientific consensus” deniers (for lack of a less inflammatory term) need to identify the number of times the “scientific consensus” has been wrong and apply the same stringent statistical rules to their analysis.

    Logically, any new discovery is a change in the current thinking (aka scientific consensus) however the distinction between revolutionary (yes, Virginia, the earth is not flat) versus evolutionary discoveries (we can get another million megabytes on that surface) in recent generations which extend contributions are the overwhelming cases.

    Off point: I just don’t get why the Far Right in this country loves Iranian crude so much. Given the energy they put into all the recent screeching about national security, you’d think they’d buy into the energy independence idea long ago.

  61. madman130 says:

    bergsten@7:57,

    Dude, you stole my thunder. I was wondering the same thing. Lately, this site has become nothing more than CNBC lite with useless pretty graphs and charts. I learned a lot from this site over the year and I want to thank Barry and regular commentators. With new year I am off to interesting things and new blogs/sites. Lately I have been spending a lot of time on this blog, http://thehousingbubbleblog.com. Check it out if you have time. This site has become waste of time…. Sorry if I offended anyone.

    Disclaimer: I am in no way involved with the blog mentioned above. Just a regular reader.

  62. call me ahab says:

    “you’d think they’d buy into the energy independence idea long ago.”

    no doubt-

    however- everyone has seemed to drop the ball on that- all lip service and never any action- a heavy gas tax should be the first move

  63. nkbay99 says:

    Barry – You really do let your political views impact your data. Do you imply that if there are 13 million scientists out there, anyone who didn’t sign the petition is automatically a supporter of climate change/global warming science. Not true, unless you POLL ALL OF THEM. Truth may be beautiful but first it must be true. Have you read “How to Lie With Statistics”?

    Don’t give up your day job.

  64. engineerd1 says:

    ok. i got it that its not about climate change, but statistics. but you were interested enough to analyze a claim (admitedly weak) from the critical camp, so this makes you a target. its weak because its another appeal to experts. i am not playing my experts versus your experts….any more than i would if the issue were the existence of bigfoot….we are going to do our damndest to just laugh you off the stage…. and frankly i think its workin out pretty good.

  65. The Window Washer says:

    Oh look there’s a bunch of comments on the climate stat post.

    What a shock

  66. FrancoisT says:

    inessence,

    If you’ve got the nerve to compare middlebury.net to James Hansen…

    I got 2 bridges to sell to you…for the price of a tool booth at that.

  67. FrancoisT says:

    More interesting than the statistics is the psychology behind the rabid denialism of climate change. I see people with advanced education and seemingly good inner life transformed into rabid fanatics when it comes to deny the existence of AGW.

    Makes me wonder why are they so emotionally invested in this? What is the thing they find so threatening to their sense of self, their vision of the world?

  68. SiValleyEE says:

    Hi, I’m a long time reader, first time commenter. I really enjoy and learn from the analytical nature of Barry’s posts, and of many of the commenters, as contrasted against the political viewpoint/dogma nature that seems to dominates so much of media and the blogosphere.

    I haven’t seen mentioned, in the comments to Barry’s post, the very good articles on this subject on Wikipedia. Specifically “Scientific Opinion on Climate Change”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change.

    From the Wikipedia article:
    ” National and international science academies and scientific societies have assessed the current scientific opinion, in particular on recent global warming. These assessments have largely followed or endorsed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) position of January 2001 that states:

    An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system… There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.[1]

    Since 2007, no scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion. Some organizations hold a non-committal position.”

    The last dissenting opinion was by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, i.e., oil industry scientists and engineers, which as removed in 2007. How many of the 31K petition signers are associated with the oil industry? The oil industry connections need to be broken out of the data.

    Also, this petition with 32K signers changes the question: It mentions only “catastrophic heating” and not the broader issue of global warming. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_consensus – Dissenting)

    If you had a Gaussian distribution of scientist’s opinions in all the scientific organizations, how many standard deviations past mean must “The global warming observed over the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases” be for NO scientific body to hold a dissenting position?

  69. alfred e says:

    This is probably too far down to get read, but ….. I have done a lot of good, thorough statistics and seen supposed experts “use ” statistics to perform services for customers. A very great deal of it was incredibly lame. Bad. But the customer didn’t know. Buyer beware.

    Causality. You can do all the statistics you want. You can’t often prove causality. Correlation yes. Causality no. AGW fits this bill. Causality proof would require a repeatable experiment. Ain’t gonna happen.

    And as far as scientific consensus and group counts, in this glorious post-modern era, consensus can mean squat, on either side of an argument.

    Except if you can identify the big dogs, feeding their egos and getting the power and funding, then you can safely assume their scientific integrity has been compromised. What’s in it for the vested parties?

    Gore is going to become a billionaire running a cap and trade derivative exchange. Objective? I think not.

    I have seen entirely, entirely too much very important science mangled by egos and power.

    Once a decision is made and acted upon to alter the environment, it usually becomes impossible to prove it wrong. So, if you’re a coat-tail follower scientist hoping for some of the fairy dust to land on you, your most important scientific analysis is to make sure you’re on the right side of the decision.

    Those in the minority perform the most important balancing force.

    Rational, unemotional scientists. I suspect not.

    Once again I am reminded of the Challenger investigations running to a politically correct decision until a particular person being denied the chance to prove his point, intentionally and unannounced, dropped sealant in a glass of ice water.

  70. chris says:

    Cat meet pigeons. Heh.
    You could start by researching the Oregon Petition at the search engine of your choice since everybody knows that Google is commies. If that doesn’t bother you start here:
    http://www.google.ca/search?q=oregon+petition&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=com.ubuntu:en-US:official&client=firefox-a
    A surprising number of people who signed it are dead or missing or never existed, so the number drops. Scientific American (more Marxian fascists!) said that about 200 of the signers might actually be qualified to make an informed comment on the subject. And the numbers drop some more. While you’re at it consider the source of the petition, would you buy a slightly used stock from those guys?
    I don’t know how many scientists there are in America but it doesn’t surprise me that there are 12.994 million people with hard science degrees. But how is that relevant? There is one petition, thoroughly trashed, against the number of people worldwide with hard science degrees who accept AGW as a fact. No idea how many that is so we’ll just call it a metric buttload. Against which the petition amounts to a few grains of sand on Miami Beach, statistically speaking.
    And one more thing. This is science. It’s facts and numbers. Anyone who talks about belief is disqualified from the argument. One can only accept/reject the facts presented, belief has no place in science. Those who accept the facts move on trying to improve their understanding of reality. (Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away. Philip K. Dick)
    Those who reject the facts must refute them with facts of their own which will stand the scrutiny of their scientific peers. Let me know if that happens, I’d really like AGW to go away, but I don’t think it will.
    Finally, this has been in my mind for a while now:
    Barry Ritholtz! I’m calling you out. You’re a numbers guy with some serious computer horsepower. Do us all a favour and run the numbers.
    They are available from Tamino (you’d like him/her, I think) here:
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/climate-data-links/
    Or Real Climate:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/
    How about it, big guy? Can you do it?

  71. chris says:

    PS: So far nobody has run the numbers and come up with anything different. And nobody on the denier side has come up with any other numbers from other sources that work.
    So, AGW is a fact. Moving on…
    What do we do about it?
    This is a moral question, not an economic one. Those of you who think it is an economic question and don’t want to pay need to answer me this: Are you willing to bet your grandchildren against the best scientific minds of our time?
    If you are then I have a friendly warning for you. The internet was invented by Al Gore to gather information, including GPS coordinates, about you. The vast left wing conspiracy is preparing for the time when we need feedstock for the Soylent Green and you’re it. If I were you I’d log off and run ’cause I hear 7,000,000,000 people is the magic number and it’s coming up fast.
    Bye now.

  72. Marcus Aurelius says:

    Rob Dawg Says:

    “In light of the recent revelations concerning those promoting the warmist agenda . . .”
    ____________

    Yes, the “warmist” agenda. Exactly what is that agenda? Is it like the “gay” agenda? The “liberal” agenda? The “vast right-wing conspiracy?” So, Al Gore has minions who collect ice cores from around the world, analyze the gasses trapped in them, and then twist their own dedication to science in order to do the bidding of their lefty mastermind? There’s no question that we can trust the “scientists” who dissent who are clearly working for low pay at publically funded and renowned educational institutions – and not for the industries with the most to lose, should carbon emissions be regulated.

    Read the link I posted earlier.

  73. eren says:

    how do you know they are scientists ? And that scientist knows a thing about global warming?
    what a waste..

  74. fatelephant says:

    The earth doesnt need any saving. It/She just is. Perhaps the best thing that humans can do for the planet is leave fast and let her be…

  75. tjandthebear says:

    More interesting than the statistics is the psychology behind the rabid denialism of climate change.

    Funny how it’s the skeptics that get tagged as “rabid”.

  76. Marcus Aurelius says:

    eren:

    How do you know they’re not and they don’t?

  77. brasil61 says:

    Interesting how smug and condescending people can be about there beliefs (lol) yet the responses to the comment by {TerryC December 31st, 2009 at 7:28 pm} ..an actual scientist (geologist 3 degrees ect) ..was incredibly SILENCE …

    also the interesting post right after by {Patrick Neid Says: December 31st, 2009 at 7:39 pm}

    so when a point you dont like comes up ..dont address it ..just act like no one said it …

    Further Barry sorry to say the quality ..and dare I say my bet.. outright manipulation of the question is an insult to intellience…

    you are becoming the asshat ..get back to objective debate ..this won’t win you entry into upper stratophere of media bigwigs ..but it will keep you from becoming a partisan hack..

  78. bman says:

    Funny, I didn’t read all the comments, but correct me if I’m wrong. I just wanted to say our own President Carter had it right, way back when. It’s funny that noone has noticed that.

  79. bman says:

    Also wondering why plot of US Climate skeptic scientists wasn’t ranked in order of increasing skeptics. Someone had some bias in that arbitrary assemblage. I wonder who and why?

  80. bman says:

    Barry the dentist ads are kind of gross, what are they trying to sell there?

    Is that allowed in a Blog? criticisms of the ads that popup on the sides of the blog?
    I realize they are transient and what I see may not be what you see, but still gross teeth and gums with wires attached using a variety of I’m sure new techniques, is just not that appealing.

    Happy New Year All!

  81. wunsacon says:

    >> BR: Difference is Economics is not a science . . . In fact, you are hard pressed to provide much in the way of what economists as a group get right.
    >> On the other hand, Scientists have given us computers, medicine, electronics, industry, the internet, transportation, technology, safe food, indoor plumbing, etc.

    Amen.

  82. wunsacon says:

    >> Causality. You can do all the statistics you want. You can’t often prove causality. Correlation yes. Causality no. AGW fits this bill. Causality proof would require a repeatable experiment.

    There ARE repeatable experiments:
    (a) Measure the transparency of a certain thickness and density of CO2 to high-frequency radiation (e.g., gamma rays).
    (b) Measure the transparency of a certain thickness and density of CO2 to low-frequency radiation (e.g., radio waves).

    What you’ll find is that there is a delta. The delta means that the CO2 allows more high-frequency energy from the sun into the atmosphere than it allows lower-frequency energy reflected off the earth back into space.

    Now:
    (c) Using math and published fossil fuel consumption data, calculate how much extra CO2 we release each year from burning a known quantity of fossil fuels.
    (d) Using math and data regarding the volume and composition of our atmosphere, calculate how much extra CO2 density we add each year.
    (f) Using math, calculate how much extra heat we’ll trap thanks to that extra CO2 density. Each year.

    What experiments do you want to repeat at this point? So far, this isn’t nearly as complicated as calculating next week’s weather. This is a calculation of net energy retained by a sphere in space.

    The complicated part is figuring out (a) whether there are some carbon sinks (like the ocean swallowing up a percentage — but not all — of the carbon released from fossil fuel) and ultimately (b) just how dramatic a change it will make and when. Especially since there are tipping points. Yeah, that’s challenging. But, if they get anything wrong, it will most likely be a matter of timing but not trend. The increase in retained energy is real. Do you dare be so cavalier with the planet’s climate?

    By the way, do you know the surface temperature of Mercury and Venus? Which is closer to the sun? Which is hotter? And why?

  83. wunsacon says:

    Some people don’t recognize the difference in complexity between calculating “climate” and “weather”.

    Think about the stock market:
    - In the short run, it’s a voting machine. In the long run, it’s a weighing machine.
    - In other words, in the short run, the probability distribution is spread wide. In the long run, the probability distribution gets tighter, as fundamentals slowly become inevitable.

    Calculating climate is a little more like weighing (were it not for possibilities of runaway problems like melting Canadian/Russian permafrost or melting Greenland ice sheet — but those possibilities if realized will prove the scientists were not pessimistic enough). Whereas calculating weather is like calculating where the S&P will be in 3 months.

  84. Melvis says:

    BR, I used to stop by this website on a daily basis and in fact purchased a copy of your book. Recently though I have not found much to challenge the consensus view on much of anything. Asking for comments about these statistics does not seem very serious to me and is frankly quite meaningless. Also, BR, your arrogance is starting to wear thin. Quit call people trolls and ass hats as it is tiresome. Also, please do not write anything on Climate Change until you actually look at the data and facts for yourself and are able to write intelligently about it without the false argument of appealing to authority.

  85. stevenstevo says:

    Memes? Seriously? I’ve been trying my best to avoid this word of the day, but it’s becoming harder and harder. While I’m sure Wikipedia explains what a meme is ever so astutely, I am going to officially pass on ever even attempting to understand what a meme is.

  86. stevenstevo says:

    The irony is that this article proves the inherent futility in the endless argument that is global warming. Maybe I am missing the point–if only 31,486 out of “12 million scientists” disagree with human-induced climate change, then clearly we have a winner. With such a consensus, there is no debate. While I’m not sure what the threshold cutoff is, obviously there are more than enough scientists who agree with human-induced climate change–thus, it is a scientific fact. While I am not certain, I would bet money that Einstein had far less than 11,968,514 scientists on his side when general relativity was considered scientifically legitimate. I for one am convinced–you had me at the hockey stick graph. It doesn’t take much–prove to me that carbon emissions have increased over the same time period that human industrial activity increased, and I am blinded by the light which is causality.

    For all those who believe in human-induced climate change, we need to stop wasting our time trying to convince such a small dissent. Instead, we need to start doing something about it. A good start would be to rid our country of dogs (they produce twice as much of carbon footprint over than does an SUV during their respective lifespans). Not sure about other pets, but my guess is cat poop has got some of that nasty methane in it too. So no more cats. Another step we need to do is get China to stop releasing so much carbon. This should be rather simple. And another step we should do is stop using fossil fuels–while alternatives are much less efficient (i.e., much more expensive), we can tax the rich people like Bill Gates (who just hoard their money anyways) to make up for the costs. However, we need to be careful here to not tax too much–don’t get me wrong, I say tax the everloving crap out of the rich people, but remember we all know communism doesn’t work, so we need to make sure to find that perfect medium where we tax a lot but not so much that we become communist. A final step we should do is invent an alternative energy that is as good as fossil fuel. Clearly something is stopping companies from inventing this–why else would no one invent something that would be worth trillions of dollars. Thus, we need to stop whatever is stopping our 12 million scientists from developing an efficient alternative fuel source.

    That should do it.

  87. anjan says:

    Interesting is the one thing this scientific consensus BS isn’t. Einstein was asked about the many scientists who were skeptical about his theory of relativity when it first came out. His response was “It only takes one to prove me wrong.” Scientific consensus once held that eugenics was respectable science. It means nothing to hear 7 papers predicted global cooling while 44 predicted global warming. This is the kind of thing that impresses non-scientists. The less you know the more you rely on “consensus.”

    Barry – you have been the very best predictive blogger on the financial markets of the ones I follow this year. Drop the consensus crap. Get your head around the carbon ETS market instead and let us know your thoughts on this. Despite the failure of Copenhagen, this market is set to expand, and become quite massive, yet is already riddled with fraud, doesn’t seem to deliver the objectives it is supposed to (reduced CO2 emissions) and may be a vehicle to deindustrialise the West with subsidies paid for by Western taxpayers (see the Corus/ Redcar/ Mittal case). Your thoughts on this market would be much more interesting than this consensus malarkey

  88. inthewoods says:

    I think a better approach would be to look at the peer-reviewed literature on the subject. What the percentage of papers published that do not support global climate change? Here’s what one study of the peer-reviewed articles found:

    “The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.”

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686

    There has been a critique of the approach used in this paper – highlighted here in another attempt to quantify scientific opinion:

    “Yet Oreskes’s approach has been criticized for overstating the level of consensus acceptance within the examined abstracts [Peiser, 2005] and for not capturing the full diversity of scientific opinion [Pielke, 2005].”

    http://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf

    This paper also attempted to measure consensus by a simple poll sent out to different groups of scientists – asking two questions:

    1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
    2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

    The conclusion from the piece (which is a short, interesting read):

    “Results show that overall, 90% of participants answered “risen” to question 1 and 82% answered yes to question 2. In general, as the level of active research and specialization in climate science increases, so does agreement with the two primary questions.”

    Can consensus be wrong? Absolutely – but I would argue that the number of scientists and scientific papers published (across a number of different scientific fields/areas) make this statistically unlikely.

    The Heartland Institute, which receives money from Exxon, published a list of 500 scientific papers and scientists who do not agree with global climate change. However, many scientists were horrified to be included in the list:

    http://lippard.blogspot.com/2008/05/heartland-institute-publishes-bogus.html

    Skeptics will, of course, attack the peer review process, but in my mind if we throw out peer review as not being scientifically valid, we might as well throw out all of science. It is not perfect – but no system is.

    Finally a few general comments:
    - If conservatives (and particularly the neo-cons) believe in the 1% doctrine – that is that even a 1% chance of a terrorist event warrants throwing anything at the problem, then why would they not support research and action on global climate change – which probably has a greater than 1% chance? And if renewable energy can help reduce the power of nations which harbor terrorists, then why would we not seek to gain energy independence? Granted, the issue of energy independence is a separate, yet connected issue.

    - I’ve always been puzzled by what would be the reason for a mass conspiracy among scientists around global climate change – usually the argument comes down to either increasing their funding (somewhat valid) or that is that the scientists want to create some massive Marxist redistribution of wealth (which seems pretty ridiculous – something out the John Birch society.) Meanwhile, it is easy to see why the oil and gas industry would seek to undermine the global climate change thesis.

    - My own opinion is that it does not matter what scientific opinion is – the world is clearly unwilling to do anything meaningful about it, and the most likely outcome is that it will continue to be debated until it reaches a crisis. The raging, now year-round forest fires in California has not moved the debate – so it will likely take a crisis that involves millions of people to see any effort at real change.

    Comments welcome.

  89. DeDude says:

    Let me point out that the petition is being used a bait and switch manner to support people questioning the influence of human activity on global warming. The actual language is about “….causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating and disruption of earths climate”. This is not a denial of human caused global warming but a questioning of the claims of an imminent climate Armageddon. Within the scientific (fact based) debate about human induced climate change there is a valid discussion about how severe the consequences of human induced global warming will be – some of those “Armaggedon sceptic” scientist may be naïve enough to sign the petition not understanding how/why someone would use it to misrepresent their opinions.

    The biggest flaw in the “no scientific consensus” argument is not the number of scientists signing this “soft question” petition; it is that there are no scientific basis for questioning the models that explain the observed global warming by the known release of green house gases. The deniers have reduced themselves to the equivalent of little children putting their fingers in the ears and screaming NO, NO, NO. They cannot present models that explain the observed world temperatures by natural phenomena, nor can they point to flaws in those models that explain it by the documented human release of green house gases. Without that, the denial will be no more credible than other pshycological/ideological based denial (Holocaust, moon landing, 911, etc.).

  90. Groty says:

    Statistics? Expressing a numerical relationship in frational terms isn’t statistics. It’s 4th grade math.

    The most elementary and fundamental principle of statistics is that observations are drawn RANDOMLY from the universe to create a sample. If the observations included in the sample are truly random, and the sample size is sufficiently large, then the statistician can make inferences about the characteristics of the total universe. With a large, random sample, the statistician can define characteristics about the universe within a desirable confidence level, generally 90%, 95%, or 99% confidence.

    That is what I remember about statisitcs from an elementary statstics course taken over 20 years ago.

    The dataset is a petition. It isn’t a random sample. People CHOSE to sign it. And just because someone chose not to sign it, doesn’t mean they agreee with man made global warming. Almost certainly the vast majority of the non-signers felt they didn’t have the knowledge to opine on the merits, or didn’t know about the petition, or just didn’t felt compelled to sign it.

    The only thing you can say is that of the presumed number of 12 million U.S. scientists, 30K decided to sign a petition. That’s it. It’s an elementary fractional math problem. It has nothing to do with statistics. One can’t test a hypothesis from a non random sample of petition signers.

  91. rockitz says:

    Just because only ~32000 signed the petition does not mean that the balance of >12M believe there is man-made global warming. The individual presenting this statistic as though it does is a fool’s fool.

    If anyone cares, I have a couple graduate degrees in engineering and believe there is man-made global warming, but that its magnitude and consequences have been way over-estimated.

    It’s the sun stupid!

  92. rootless_cosmopolitan says:

    @rockitz:

    “If anyone cares, I have a couple graduate degrees in engineering and believe there is man-made global warming, but that its magnitude and consequences have been way over-estimated. It’s the sun stupid!”

    Exactly. The exclamation mark proves this.

    rc

  93. inessence says:

    @FrancoisT Says… I did not compare Middlebury.net to Hansen, you did. Hansen has an opinion just like the rest of the “scientists”…if you choose to take his opinion as gospel, it is no different than the sheeple that believe in Al Gore. I will see you the two bridges and raise you a toll booth.

  94. inthewoods says:

    @ Groty “Almost certainly the vast majority of the non-signers felt they didn’t have the knowledge to opine on the merits, or didn’t know about the petition, or just didn’t felt compelled to sign it.”

    Or another reason (and perhaps the most obvious reason) – they don’t agree with the petition. Why is that not an option?

  95. brasil61 says:

    It continues to surprise me ..We are not to be able to look at or discuss this issue (or most any issue) without embracing the other sides point of view as legitimate and worthy of discussion.

    “The root of all conflict is division” (Krishnamurti)

    Which leads me to – the mind can be a cunning shallow merciless liar, and statistics don’t help the cause. For me, it comes to credibility over and over and over ..politics on a grand scale to solve problems is obsolete.

    So if AGW is accepted as fact by 99% of scientists (for arguments sake) and any question of it ..puts you in a social minority that belonging to has negative consequences..why is it a surprise everyone supposedly agrees. More importantly wouldn’t the development of real solutions actually embrace …all challenges.. in an effort to

    1) build a political consensus to take actions that produce results
    2) produce those results.

    If I break it down like this and am just dying hoping praying to be converted to the 99% of all scientists side, so that then I as a common everyday guy can and will take action. Wouldn’t you need to address the following common sense questions.

    1) How does calling names, acting pompous, feigning intellectual superiority help get me on board? Insults dont make me feel like joining and knowing that in all these grand schemes the little guy gets left holding the bag.
    2) How does being on the side of angels – supposedly good causes – not address the obvious hypocrisy of the people on the angels side – private jets, lifestyles of extravagance especially as they pretend Mother Teresa or Gandhi like devotion. And as they are the face of the movement..Al Gore , Hollywood ect
    3)What about the many many times in history that the best brains out there …have been wrong..?
    4) What about the questions of the actual data taking activity and the claims of data manipulation? desired result data, micro view point of geologic history
    5) What about the questions of carbon credits ect as a financial scheme?
    6) What about the political manipulation of the Copenhagen meeting itself ? grand success ect ..the willingness to spin absolute failure into some acceptable PR ..gravity doesn’t need a PR dept by the way
    7) Do you really expect China Russia India and Brazil to forgo economic growth as they are gaining traction economically and politically? During a possible extended recession – depression world wide? How are we going to get them on board …bribes? Politics ..First hand I watch sugar cane field burnings here in Brazil weekly
    8) What are the real consequences of non action… ocean sea levels rising 14 inches doesn’t scare much
    9) What about the changes in the ultimate power source itself..the Sun..?
    10) What about volcano’s?
    11) Who wants to be publically on the side of energy producers..? obviously no one yet all modern society depend on them ..and demand cheap prices to boot

    Since that list of questions is much to daunting to address and both sides seem to have taken the much easier route of emotional propaganda…coupled with the stunning historical failures of 99% of these big govt schemes ..I define succes as achieving a desired result at an economic price… it is no wonder most people aren’t brimming with optimism. The average person feels bamboozled.

  96. Mike S says:

    Deny, Distort, Destroy.

    It is like Barry has never witnessed what conservatives do on a daily basis.

    First deny the facts
    Then distort what people say
    Finally question the integrity of the people involved.

  97. inthewoods says:

    @brasil61 “It continues to surprise me ..We are not to be able to look at or discuss this issue (or most any issue) without embracing the other sides point of view as legitimate and worthy of discussion.”

    And yet, you present only a picture from the skeptics point of view – thus putting you in the camp of the intellectually dishonest. The argument that the actions of people on both sides of the debate are morally or intellectually the same just doesn’t hold water for the most part. That is a false equivalence.

  98. beaufou says:

    Looking at the breakdown, I guess you can suspect 12% of the total number of skeptics know a little about the issue.
    What does a computer “scientist” know about climate change?
    But we can sleep soundly though, congressmen will make the right choices depending on who pays them most and the media will not waste their precious time investigating the issue.
    It will all be about patriotism and how much money Al Gore makes.

    Humans are special, very special.
    http://www.ateliersante.ch/ateliersante_fichiers/corse.jpg
    http://personal.georgiasouthern.edu/~jz00115/coal%20plant.jpg