The assumption that experts can be relied upon depends largely on the existence of conflicting interests. How many reports have intentionally caused a malfucntion in a vehicle that only requires minor repair work, driven into a garage and the expert (mechanic) comes back with major repair claims? If your doctor suggested that cancer treatment would not be beneficial to you, but then you discovered the doctor had a wealthy patient that needed an organ that you matched, would this conflict of interest change your decision to forgo cancer treatment? Might you want a second opinion?
The idea that peer-review is the litmus test is flawed. It is critical review that a theory must stand up to in order to gain credibility and climate scientists have avoided this essential step in scientific advancement.
[Response: You are attacking strawmen. We have often pointed out that peer review is only necessary, not sufficient for the science to be accepted. Additionally, we have often stressed that no individual scientist's opinions should be taken alone - which is why there are assessment bodies like the NRC, IPCC or CCSP. - gavin]
John W wrote: “The assumption that experts can be relied upon depends largely on the existence of conflicting interests.”
That’s well worth remembering when you evaluate the opinions of “experts” who are funded by fossil fuel corporations that have a powerful “conflicting interest” in perpetuating their one billion dollars per day in profit from continued business-as-usual use of their products.
John W wrote: “It is critical review that a theory must stand up to in order to gain credibility and climate scientists have avoided this essential step in scientific advancement.”
Your assertion that climate scientists have “avoided critical review” is absolutely false. Indeed it is laughably false.
One wonders which “experts” you relied upon when you accepted that blatant and ridiculous falsehood as truth.
Re #1 Sounds to me thay you are inventing motives other than good science such as money or power. Its a cheap shot. I like the term wealthy patient or a garage into making easy money as motives that compare with climate science. Hopeless argument.
RE: 1, Well, if you mean that portion of the 3%ers who pedal the denial lies, then yes, they “have avoided this essential step in scientific advancement.” If you mean the serious scientists who are engaged in meaningful climate research every day, then I have some swamp land that might, ahem, interest you.
If I choose an expert I am looking for credibility and knowledge. For me credibility is more than knowledge. In an expert I am looking for both. I do think the paper is logically flawed, since it mixes up both concepts:
The authosr’s write:
“Very few of us have the technical ability or time to read all of the primary literature on each cancer treatment’s biology, outcome probabilities, side-effects, interactions with other treatments, and thus we follow the advice of oncologists. We trust the aggregate knowledge of experts – what do 97% of oncologists think about this cancer treatment – more than that of any single expert.”
I think this paragraphed analogy proves my point. It’s about knowledge, not about credibility.
For me a scientist, who does not live up to his words might not have the credibility to promote his ideas, but in general I would not doubt his knowledge in his area of expertise. This goes for all sides of the argument.
I have observed attempts to infer improper motives on the part of the large majority of scientists who say we have a problem with global warming not just from non-scientist critics, but from some scientists who have what seem to me to have reasonable credentials. Obviously an approach like the one done here can be done badly intentionally or otherwise, but it’s not like it would be the first shot fired in this particular war.
I personally like to look at the variety of different lines of evidence that support the consensus global warming science and the variety of groups that either produced the studies or endorse the general concepts with some expertise in one or more type of evidence. If there had been no work done on computerized climate models for example the evidence about past carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures would be enough to raise great concerns. It’s also interesting to look at polls and statements by various scientific organizations and to try to decide what their financial interests are. In some ways the 47% of petroleum geologists who believed that human activity was warming the planet in a poll published in EOS was more impressive than the 97% of climatologists who felt that way given the financial interests and questions of conscience involved. Similarly the Canadian national science academy members cannot have overlooked the tidal wave of money and scientific jobs that could come from the exploitation of their nation’s tar sands.
Another approach I find interesting is to look through denier writings for smoking guns indicating really bad scholarship and sloppy thought processes. S. Fred Singer for example was the coauthor of Unstoppable Global warming Every 1,500 years. He wanted to put in the claim that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was already enough to hold in as much heat as possible, an assertion that he should have known was false. To support this claim he quotes the State Climatologist Of North Dakota in a paper published in the Bulletin Of The North Dakota State Geological Survey. Obviously this should be on the front page of Nature and the New York Times if it was true, but doing it this way Singer was able to give the appearence of having supporting evidence to those less well versed in science.
Those of us who have had the experience of arguing science in a highly politicized environment will know that there are those who will say up is down and smear anyone who knows otherwise. Showing their conflicts of interests and the deficiencies in their backgrounds and arguments may not be pleasant for most scientists, but doing so is essential to the preservation of nature and civilization.
Here is my suggestion: You group the AGW hypothesis with other big ideas and paradigm shifts such as heliocentric system, relativity, big bang etc….
That way you can get some idea on the probability of scientists being right or wrong. Anyone got a coin?
Comment by Interglacial terror — 3 Aug 2010 @ 4:38 PM
John W @ 1:
“If your doctor suggested that cancer treatment would not be beneficial to you, but then you discovered the doctor had a wealthy patient that needed an organ that you matched, would this conflict of interest change your decision to forgo cancer treatment? Might you want a second opinion?.”
From the article:
“We trust the aggregate knowledge of experts – what do 97% of oncologists think about this cancer treatment – more than that of any single expert. And we recognize the importance of relevant expertise – the opinion of vocal cardiologists matters much less in picking a cancer treatment than does that of oncologists.”
The World Cancer Research Fund’s 2007 report is pretty much the
equivalent of the IPCC in its field … 150 experts from around the planet reporting on lifestyle and cancer. They report about
every 10 years. In 1997, they said meat (all meat) probably causes
bowel cancer (and several others). In 2007, they said, “okay we have narrowed it down, red meat causes bowel cancer, no ifs, no
buts no caveats”. How many Governments have acted to warn their populations of this risk? How many individuals react
with “What the f..k do they know, I like my steak!”. My point is that we do not trust experts unless they tell us what we want to hear and already are close to believing.
As an opening statement the message stopped there for me.
You stopped me dead from further reading at that point.
This is a discouragingly common theme among “skeptics”, who are supposedly self styled auditors, ready to ceaselessly educate themselves in order to make up their own minds, rather than rely on the opinions of others.
And yet so frequently skeptics decide that it’s time to simply stop listening or reading, that they’ve heard enough, that they already know what they think and the moment any inputs contradict their open minded, closely held opinions, it’s time to simply shut down.
12 (Radge Havers in response to 1, John W),
Did you even read the article?
And once again, a skeptic (John W) is ready to come out, guns blazing, only to expose the fact that he didn’t even read (or comprehend) the article in the first place.
Thank you, Radge, for dissecting that so cleanly.
I hope and pray for the day that a true, worthy “skeptic” will arrive to debate the issues intelligently, with facts and knowledge… except, of course, that such a person wouldn’t be arguing against AGW.
As Churchill once said: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last”.
“Climate skepticists” are trying to appease global warming, or rather the forces behind it. They’re feeding the crocodile – with oil.
From around the globe we’re mainly getting more and more serious warning signals from nature – consider fx. the now nearly two months of extreme heat (ten degrees C above normal mean for such a long period) in Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, drought and spreading wildfires, coinciding with also extreme heat and 100-year monsoon flooding in China ad Pakistan, six meters of downright melting from the top of an outlet glacier from the inland ice in West Central Greenland this summer, continuing big melting rates of the polar sea ice this year, unusual warmth also in the USA and Europe etc.
Of course, taken each for themselves, these warning signals can’t be attributed to shifting climate, since we have defined climate as the thirty year mean etc. But extreme events almost all pointing in the same direction, year after year, taken together with what the vast bulk of the science tells us, is a very strong indication indeed, that time may be running out even faster than the more pessimistic think. onsider the fact that the leading scientists on polar sea ice, who said in 2007 IPCC report: the ice may be gone i the summer by 2080, are now saying it may be gone already by between 2013-2030.
In the meantime, the “debate” about the socalled
“climategate” in the mainstream media have already lead to most politicians and media rather conveniently downplaying the whole climate problem – in fact the US congress is still even stronger outright ignoring it completely.
I think the scientists of course should do their science, but also that they have to realize their responsibility to tell the public very loud and clear:
that it is a fatal illusion to believe that the uncertainties about climate in science neccesarily will play out to give us positive surprises (meaning we can just relax)
that the climate history point to the fact that climatic changes can be very fast and sudden indeed, even if they’re only natural
that mankind is now making an unprecedented experiment in the earth’s history with the atmospheric composition
that we’ve only been around with our sophisticated but rather untested industrial and agricultural modes of production for an extremely tiny fraction of the earth history
These points are to be stressed a lot more than they are now. Problem is, we’ll never know the whole truth about the amount of global warming until it’s (far) too late. And we’ve got nothing to loose by being more cautious and listen to the scientific warnings.
Of course the science should always be done properly, but the proportions have been completely distorted by the media and the oil interests in this debate.
And where’s the discussion about the medical science which lead to false alarm about flu pandemic this winter? Nowhere. Why exactly is that so? Has it something to do with (misinterpreted? too narrow?)industrial/financial interests and a complete misunderstanding about how we can use science to make our society more sustainable?
Comment by Karsten V. Johansen — 3 Aug 2010 @ 6:41 PM
If it is so important to take expert opinion regarding climate science, why can’t a large number of climate scientists acknowledge they are out of their depth when in comes to advanced statistical analysis. There seems to be a hostility to outside expertise when statistical methods are questioned, and it reflects badly on the science as a whole.
[Response: Your impression of this is very wrong. Scientists talk to people working on different aspects and with different expertise (including statisticians, and software engineers, and geochemists, etc.) all the time. There are specific programs to encourage statistical climatology, and there was recently a big meeting specifically on this. Most of this obviously goes on informally, but it has to be said that building useful and long-lasting collaborations is hard. The kinds of things needed in an applied science like climate aren't often the kind of thing that gets one noticed at statistical conferences. I've personally tried to build collaborations with local academic statisticians, but other than with a machine learning group, there hasn't been much progress. Perhaps you are thinking of cases where there is an ill-informed attempt to 'refute AGW' using poorly posed but exciting sounding statistical methods that come up with completely un-physical results. That kind of thing is not usually very conducive to cross-disciplinary networking. - gavin]
One seldom gets an opportunity to show why you should depend on expert opinion and not the guy on the street better than our #1 here:
If your doctor suggested that cancer treatment would not be beneficial to you, but then you discovered the doctor had a wealthy patient that needed an organ that you matched, would this conflict of interest change your decision to forgo cancer treatment? Might you want a second opinion?
A handful of medical conditions will rule out organ donation, such as HIV-positive status, actively spreading cancer (except for primary brain tumors that have not spread beyond the brain stem), or certain severe, current infections.
Interesting response – but really, this has all been covered in far more detail in two other books:
Merchants of Doubt – a general review of issues related closely to climate science coverage:
The book reveals how those pioneering shills evolved into a small group of well funded pseudo-scientists who now hold influence over perception and policy far out of proportion to their numbers or the credibility of their claims. Along the way the authors expertly cut off examples of denial at its roots, including the ridiculous claim that DDT was really safe and banning it killed more people than Hitler, or why ozone depletion and climate change are mere modern day hysteria.
This book should be a staple for any scientist or those interested in science, especially journalists and others whose work intersects or informs public policy.
At the same time teaching is being downsized, universities are courting money from private industry and pouring resources into commercial operations far removed from the universities’ primary teaching and academic-research missions. Universities now run their own industrial parks, venture capital funds, and industry-university cooperative research centers. They also operate expensive patenting and licensing offices to market their research to private companies in exchange for royalty revenues.
You would think that would lead to a boom in renewable energy research, but due to patent restrictions and the lack of desire of fossil fuel corporations to sponsor renewable competition, it’s actually had the opposite effect.
You might ask why, if this is true, climate science didn’t suffer the same fate. The truth is that much climate-related science DID suffer that same fate in the 1990s, as USGS toxicology programs were roundly shut down, and so on. It’s all recorded in the literature publication record – for example, in 1979 there were a few thousand papers published on ethanol – four years later, there were about five. Toxicology research on oil spills dried up as well, particularly at major universities, and corporate-controlled programs like the University of California – BP arrangement became more and more widespread. Other sectors of climate science are much more insulated from political attack – after all, everyone needs good weather data, and weather data, over time, becomes climate data. This, of course, is not the case with renewable energy research.
Clearly, these extensive academic-business interests are not going to be happy with independent science that upsets the profit margins of the private partners, who often have university administrators sitting on their corporate boards these days. This is the central problem – the loss of independence, the loss of transparency, and the loss of peer review (all seen in DOE grant methodology, for example). This is why bogus nonsense like “clean coal” has persisted for so long, too – there’s no external peer review process in DOE grants – it’s all in-house cronyism, and with the #2 at the DOE also serving as BP’s Chief Scientist, who expects anything to change there?
The entire academic system needs serious reform, sad to say.
This is somewhat of a response to #13 (Interglacial) and my own thoughts:
This article is not perfect but is relatively well-defined in what it aims to accomplish, and so it’s a good starting point in terms of contribution. The problem with assessing expert judgment on a subject like AGW (or ‘ACC’ in the article) is that there is no well-defined hypothesis that is being examined. It would be nice to see public discourse move past broad and meaningless statements like “…agreement with the IPCC.” The AR4 itself is a 3-volume work consisting of almost 1,000 pages per volume, with multiple chapters handling different topics.
AGW is not an independent hypothesis that can be easily separated from the fundamental physics that is equally applicable to natural climate change, the expansion of cooling thermodynamics of air parcels, the saturation vapor curve for condensable substances, or the same principles remote sensing people rely on for satellite data retrieval. This is all stuff relevant to atmospheric physics in general, ranging from modern-day Earth to snowball or Venus-like climates. In all of these cases, adding CO2 to the atmosphere makes the planet darker in the infrared (when viewed from space) and necessarily warms the lower atmosphere. This, in turn, arises from the quantum-scale radiative transfer which doesn’t care about whether humans released that CO2 or not. Similarly, there is no separate hypothesis for a “positive water vapor feedback” which can easily be distinguished from the physics of any other greenhouse gas which might tend to condense in different planetary temperature/pressure regimes, such as methane on Titan, or CO2 on Mars. There is no separate physical law applicable to humans which is distinguishable from the fact that the area coverage of ice/snow will change as a function of temperature, and insofar as the albedo of these surfaces is different than the underlying and surrounding surface, it follows that the surface albedo is also a function of temperature. AGW, such as it is, is a consequence of these many physical laws in the same way. The TES instrument observing the Martian CO2 spectrum has just as much to do with the radiative transfer equations as the necessity to get warming with more greenhouse gases.
2-3% seems like an awfully high percentage of experts who have published who extensively disagree with these things. If the people verifying these things find discrepancies between what ought to happen and reality, then there is no fundamental rejection of the human influence on climate, but rather the necessity for a paradigm modification to atmospheric physics on a more general level.
A more strict hypothesis is that of climate sensitivity, since there is no fundamental theoretical basis for how sensitive the climate ought to be to some forcing. Some people like Lindzen argue that the sensitivity is on the order of about 0.25 degrees C/(W m**-2) or less; this is almost certainly not the case, although I’m not sure whether or not this is the case can be easily molded into ‘disagreement with the IPCC’ or ‘disagreement with AGW’ without more precise terminology on what exactly experts are agreeing or disagreeing with. If it turns out that Arctic sea ice declines more rapidly than models, or Greenland is less sensitive to melt than previously thought, does this also apply to (dis)agreement with the “AGW hypothesis?” There are also many things which depart from physics and require expert judgment, such as whether climate change will be ‘dangerous’ or ‘important’ which are subjective in nature unless there is some universally-accepted threshold (e.g, CO2 concentration, economic loss, # of species that go extinct) for what these words mean.
#20 Ike Solem said:
“…the lack of desire of fossil fuel corporations to sponsor renewable competition…”
Interestingly the much (and perhaps justly) vilified BP is a founding member of the MIT Energy Initiative (http://web.mit.edu/mitei/) which seeks to transform the world’s energy systems. Tony Hayward, BP’s gaffe-prone ex-CEO, seems quite eloquent and sincere in this talk at MIT on how to meet the world’s growing energy demands:
If airplane mechanics used “judgment and opinion” I would be very skeptical and never fly again.
I offered my comment in good faith. I believe any intelligent, open minded person would say the same. They would not read past that comment. Why would they when it sends a nonsensical message? Kind of taints the rest, which if the overall message is good, is rather unfortunate.
If airplane mechanics used “judgment and opinion” I would be very skeptical and never fly again.
Commercial aircraft pilots on the other hand frequently employ judgment or opinion, informed by expertise. So does my barber when cutting my hair. Thus I can be assured of equal safety if I should choose to be conducted to a Cat III landing by my barber or a properly certified pilot.
17 Karsten V. Johansen: “responsibility to tell the public”
The scientists have gone way beyond their responsibility to tell the public. This web site is NOT a requirement of the job. It is a gift from the scientists. The public has a responsibility to LISTEN and Listen Good. NASA was not funded to overcome propaganda from the fossil fuel industry. Democracy is based on the idea of an intelligent and informed electorate. That is no longer the case because public education has not kept up with the advance of science, and that is also NOT the fault of scientists.
Karsten V. Johansen, Andy Revkin and others who lay these “Shoulds” on scientists: Where is your money to pay more than the fossil fuel industry is able to pay for public relations? Where is your reformation of society and the educational system to eliminate the efficacy of disinformation and propaganda?
Titus, @25, said “I believe any intelligent, open minded person would say the same. They would not read past that comment.”
Well, I guess I’m either not intelligent, or not open-minded. I find it hard to believe that there is zero judgement involved in airplane mechanics, and harder still to believe that even if that’s true the larger point is invalidated–after all, I in fact do trust the plane and the maintainers thereof, even though I don’t know precisely how their work is carried out. And I’d be very concerned, if, for example, I read that airline X had just laid off all their senior mechanics in order to save money.
It’s great if you can put calipers on a part and objectively measure whether wear has reached spec limits or not. But in a great many areas in life–and I don’t really care if airplane mechanics is one–we never get to make our decisions on such clear information. And we end up back with the necessity of trusting the judgement and expertise of others–whom rationally we judge (or ought to) by credentials, knowledge, skills and experience.
#15 Geoff Russell – The difference of course is that if you (or your whole country) keeps eating red meat it has no effect on my my grandchildren’s health. However if the actions of “obstructionists” result in the world not taking effective action against increasing CO2 then there’s likely to be severe impacts on my grandchildren (as well as theirs).
I personally agree with the article, “the republic of science” is the only way to go. However I think you over-estimate many people when you say they would choose an oncologist over a quack. There is no shortage of faith healers, phycic healers, homeopaths, and other assorted vermin who prey on a large population of gullible and superstiuos people.
James Randi’s father died a premature death because one of them convinced him to avoid the medical proffession, there are millions more stories with similar outcomes.
I believe any intelligent, open minded person would say the same
I believe any intelligent person would understand that the example of the airplane mechanic was a metaphor. Metaphors are imperfect by definition.
I believe any open minded person would continue reading, because open minded persons like to be challenged in their beliefs.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 4 Aug 2010 @ 6:28 AM
It is jolly useful to have a handy guide to how involved various writers and bloggers have been with the science of climate change – and a list like this does give a rough idea. So if I am reading a newspaper article that quotes some “expert” I can quickly see just how expert that expert actually is.
However, I am still at sea as to why the list was divided into those convinced of AGW and those not convinced. I fail to see the purpose of that.
Even if airplane mechanics does not use opinion, there are still opinions involved in the quality of soldering, the general inspection and the commanding of the airplane, and many more areas that may be cause of concern.
“If airplane mechanics used “judgment and opinion” I would be very skeptical and never fly again.”
Really? I suggest you stop flying then. _Everyone_ uses judgment and opinion. Usually that’s matched with tests, checklists, and all sorts of other tools… but when it comes down to it, the reason you have trained airplane mechanics rather than Joe Schmoe following an instruction manual is _because_ the airplane mechanics have judgments and opinions: “this looks fishy. The standard check says its fine, but I think I’m going to look at it again”.
Titus, your comment illustrates a lack of understanding not just of the role of experts, but of how mechanics work. Mechanics are not machines. I expect them to use judgment in their work. I’m left wondering not only whether you’ve ever talked to a scientist, but whether you’ve ever even talked to a mechanic!
Bob Koss, I think you are misinterpreting the table you cite. It list citations of the author’s publications, not the number of publications. Number of publications gives a measure of productivity. Citations also measures how influential the output has been.
The fundamental issue in this argument is whether the few scientists that have argued against a large anthropogenic effect represent the leading edge of new science or some kind of last gasp.
Having lived through the plate tectonics revolution, I can clearly see the differences between that scientific revolution and this one. In the case of plate tectonics, there were initially few convinced but they kept coming up with exciting new data. When others tried to falsify the idea, they found more interesting observations that got them excited. It really didn’t take long to convince almost everybody, except a few diehards, that the science was right. Meanwhile these diehards (e.g., the Meyerhoffs) continued to publish for decades about ‘problems with plate tectonics’.For all I know, they are still publishing.
In the scientific (vs media) discussion of global warming, all the interesting new data points to warming changes in the system, or to new but interesting complexities that make scientists stretch their models. People like Lindzen are not bringing new, exciting, or even interesting data to the table. It is no wonder why the Lindzen idea of strong negative feedback is not well regarded in the scientific community–it doesn’t lead anywhere and doesn’t match with the other data available. Nevertheless he will probably keep publishing.
Let’s see… You didn’t read the article, and then your defense for not bothering to read and inform yourself is that you knew that what you didn’t read held a “nonsensical message” (which you would know how, seeing as you didn’t read it?).
As far as airplane mechanics, you are completely (purposely?) misunderstanding the statement, by misinterpreting (being overly literal with) two words. Obviously, the point of the statement is that the passengers themselves, as well as the owners of the airline, are not capable of determining whether or not the plane is capable of flying. The mechanics are capable. The clear point is that we rely on experts in everything, every day. Our modern world is far too complex to do otherwise.
Your singular and unnecessary focus on the words “judgment and opinion” is the problem, and a typical denial debate tactic (nit pick by purposely misinterpreting a detail to the point of distraction). There is nothing wrong with the statement itself.
If you prefer, wordsmith the article to use the words “knowledge and expertise” in place of “judgment and opinion.” It reads the same, it says the same thing, but it won’t be so offensive to someone who is fooling themselves into thinking that they know better than everyone else, particularly the experts, in one of the most important issues of our day.
And that last part is, in fact, the crux of the article which you didn’t even bother to read.
Because they were “intelligent and open-minded.” Such a person would read on to see if they might have misinterpreted the passage and determine whether “the overall message is good.” Open-minded people tend to not draw snap conclusions that conveniently align with their preconceived notions, nor use terms like “take it or leave it” when discussing ideas.
An ideologue, on the other hand, would exclaim “gotcha!” and not read past that comment. Why would they if they had already gotten what they had come for?
To Titus – “If airplane mechanics used “judgment and opinion” I would be very skeptical and never fly again.”
Then you had better stop flying. Airplane mechanics use judgement (which one of several different issues that could cause the same problem are most likely to have caused a problem this time and so should be checked first) and opinion (which tool do they like to use for a fix when several different tools would work) all the time.
When judgement/opinioon is based on the evidence then its use reflects well on the expertise of the person. Judgement or opinion that goes against the evidence is problematic.
Except that we don’t actually rely upon the judgment or opinions of experts when we don’t want to.
There is a strong consensus in the medical community that eating less animal products will greatly reduce the risk of heart disease. Even after having a heart attack, most patients ignore the advice of experts.
There is a strong consensus among the experts that low level exposure to electro-magnetic fields is harmless, yet every time a transmission line goes in the NIMBY crowd wails about EM.
There is a strong consensus among the experts that vaccines help humanity, yet the most educated populations in the world have a widespread fear of them.
So, why should we expect people to react any differently to the consensus of experts in climate science?
Titus, I’m sure, will disagree with your position. My guess is that he’s an engineer. Engineer’s live in a world of black and white, and so they tend to have difficulty with generalizations and nuance. They deal with problems with a very limited scope, always well defined with well defined parameters and boundary conditions, and often armed with a tool set limited by their specific field and position. As such, judgment and opinion can often be dismissed with cold, hard facts (or rather, they don’t realize how much their judgment and opinion come into play to help them avoid wasting time pursuing fruitless avenues).
There are very few professions in the world like that, however, and cutting edge engineering (think NASA space program) certainly does involve a lot of judgment and opinion (i.e. “talent”).
I don’t mean to entirely disparage engineers (I am one myself), but in my mind engineers and scientists are both faced with and good at word problems. The main difference is that the problems presented to engineers include the question. The scientist must not only answer the question, but must also figure out what the question is (or rather, what the right/best question to ask would be).
The secondary difference is that engineers are usually handed all of the necessary data as part of the word problem, while the scientist is left with the need to determine what he hasn’t been given but needs, and to somehow tease it out of the situation.
The typical engineer’s failure to grasp these differences, along with an intelligence and self-confident arrogance that are necessary to being successful in the field (I will admit to being both myself) are, I think, prime ingredients for succumbing to Climate Change Denial Syndrome.
Another aspect which I think you are neglecting: whether to fly on that airplane, or to take the advice of your oncologist, are personal matters which will affect (almost entirely) you alone. Whether to act on the advice of climate scientists is a political decision, one that will affect your neighbors, friends and enemies just as much as it will affect yourself. If you decide not to fly on that airplane, you won’t die if it crashes. If you reject the advice of your oncologist, it will be you who dies (or doesn’t die) of cancer. Rejecting (or accepting, and taking appropriate action) the advice of climate scientists will affect every damn person on the planet. And all the credibility in the world will get you exactly nothing if there is no money in it for the bankers.
To get away from the whole airplane mechanics distraction (and that’s what it is, a huge distraction, although it is a wonderful example of extreme denial-in-action)…
The Denial Team has somehow succeeded in making “expert” a dirty word. They’ve done it using a variety of attacks.
1) They’ve misrepresented the “appeal to authority” fallacious argument to imply that any reference to an authority (i.e. expert) is simply wrong (a trick they use when they need it, but not when referencing their own chosen “experts”).
2) They’ve undermined the perceived intentions of the experts by saying that they’re in it for the money (as if they wouldn’t get any money to study climate without GHG, or as if the money they’re given to study the subject goes straight into their own pockets, or as if that amount of money is really comparable to the intake of, oh, say, the Koch family, and so provides any noticeable incentive to fudge the results).
3) They’ve undermined the definition of an expert by characterizing certain rank amateurs as experts (e.g., M&M), while also misinterpreting and attacking the actual work of true experts (e.g., the real MM), and so by proxy attacking the validity of the work and so expertise of all climate scientists. Sadly, some scientists are buying into this portrayal, giving it further weight.
4) They’ve very commonly gone on the offensive with their own weaknesses by projecting them onto those that understand climate change, in this particular case by casting recognition of the facts and conclusions behind the science as a “belief” or “religion,” hence allowing them to dismiss even consideration of the evidence or the position of experts (since they are no longer then “scientists,” but rather “priests of a heretical religion”).
5) They’ve recently taken to inaccurately casting all of climate science as an immature field, and so by extension the definition of expertise within the subject matter as relatively untrustworthy.
So while the work behind this post do help people to focus on exactly how much effort it takes to qualify as an expert, and which side of the debate expert opinion predominantly falls, it does little to affect those (like Titus) who have fallen for the Denial Team bag of “tricks” (there’s that word again!) by twisting “expert” into a dirty word.
Bob, good summary of points on what’s happened re: the term expert. You did forget one item – basically a variant of the Galileo Gambit, essentially asserting that since the commonly held view of “the experts” was wrong in that instance, that therefore the experts are wrong now. Never mind that science and the scientific method has progressed a wee bit since the 1600′s, or that they are completely unrelated subjects in any way – the mere fact that “experts” were wrong on a completely different subject four hundred years ago calls the competence of other experts into question today.
Real Climate has published a letter in defense of an indefensible paper. I have attempted to respond on Real Climate’s website, but they have decided not to publish my response.
[Response: Most of this comment and the previous one was simply a list of accusations and insults, and not appropriate in this forum. The one possibly substantive issue we have left in for people to respond to. - gavin]
They used Google Scholar instead of any one of several academic databases. They searched only in English, despite the fact that many climate scientists publish in other languages (and have many more who are skeptical of the English and American mania for histrionic claims of disaster due to CO2).
They got names, job titles and specializations wrong–they obviously did zero quality control checking.
As for the publications they were counting, they got them incredibly wrong. They hugely inflated the publication counts for their ‘side’ and reduced the publication counts for the opposition.
“We trust the aggregate knowledge of experts.” The “knowledge of experts” doesn’t aggregate. Sounds like Wittgenstein’s “totality of the facts”. He rejected that and reminded us that it is difficult it is to understand what other people mean.
Will the dirty oil used in shipping cool or heat the Earth over the next 50 years? The answer seems to depend on the expert you choose. On that topic can someone tell me if Wired.com get it right when they say:
“Sulfate, unlike black carbon, reflects incoming warmth rather than absorbing it. On its own, sulfate could help cool the atmosphere, but when mixed with black carbon, it acts as a net for all the warmth that would otherwise pass through. A plume with lots of sulfate appears to give the surrounding black carbon a second chance to absorb that heat.”
They appear to be reporting Ramana et. al. “Warming influenced by the ratio of black carbon to sulphate and the black-carbon source”. Is there a difference between this and Unger et. al. “Attribution of climate forcing to economic sectors”?
[Response: You're mixing up different types of topics. The paper in question is addressing one that draws on many lines of evidence, and which is addressed in exhaustive synthesis reports, to reach a broad, general conclusion regarding the cause of warming over the last 1/2 century, whereas your example is about a much narrower topic (aside from questions of the weights of the evidence thereon). Also, I utterly disagree that knowledge doesn't aggregate--climate science is a classic example of not only the existence of, but the need for, aggregated knowledge from many subdisciplines--Jim]
“Names are sorted in descending order of number of published works that match the word ‘climate’ in Google Scholar. This total could include non-refereed pieces such as commentary, editorials, or letters to the editor.”
Koss is correct in that the “Climate Total” column is not citations, but rather matches to “climate” in Google Scholar. One could certainly argue that this is not the best way to count publications, but in order to show that it is fatally flawed one would have to show bias or inconsistency that favors climate scientists. Koss can check on google scholar that the totals are roughly correct:
This method does include the possibility of increasing publication #s where a 2nd author with climate related publications shares the same last name and first initial. However, unless for some reason climate scientists have common names and contrarians have unique names, this is a non-bias type of error. (with M-Collins I will note that on the 10th page of google scholar results, “Intestinal nematode infection ameliorates experimental colitis in mice” is written by a different M-Collins) (I searched my own publication record this way: the total # is about 4x my peer-reviewed publication count, because it includes some AGU talks, my PhD thesis, a webpage for a course that I co-taught, and a couple of hits that were clearly erroneous but were tagged by Google with my name and the word climate. But again: consistency, lack of bias, etc. My “real” # might be somewhere between peer-reviewed publications and the total # reported, but as long as on average anyone’s total # is similarly inflated over their real #, it is a usable metric for comparison).
In addition, both the paper and the website _also_ use the number of citations to the author’s 4th highest cited paper, which is probably a somewhat more rigorous method of comparing researchers (and is also a consistent methodology).
Gavin, Your selective moderation of Tom Fuller is pretty telling. You allow rhetoric every bit as heated as Fuller’s when it’s coming from a position closer to your own.
Let’s be honest for a minute: AGW doesn’t cease to be a reality if we confess that this “study” was a sloppy, ill-considered, exercise in polemics. And the study itself doesn’t stand or fall based on your unwise, selective moderation in defense of it.
[Response: There is a big difference between criticising a study because they used Google scholar rather than IoS and speculating about what difference it made, and accusing people of breaking rules or being unethical because of such a choice. The former is legitimate, the latter not. Whatever happens to the study or further work has nothing to do with this thread, but them's the rules. Fuller is free to fulminate at his own site. If you don't get that there is a difference, then I'm sorry, but that's the way it is. Further discussion is OT. - gavin]
Hank Roberts wrote: “Tom Fuller confuses the number of publications with the number of citations …”
Gavin wrote: “Most of this comment and the previous one was simply a list of accusations and insults, and not appropriate in this forum.”
Tom Fuller is well known on the web as a deliberate purveyor of what he well knows to be falsehoods. His standard MO is to first assert that he “believes” the basic scientific basis of anthropogenic global warming, “but” … and the “but” is followed with the usual, predictable, scripted litany of denialist bunk.
And whatever “insults” he may have lobbed at RC in his comment were no doubt mild-mannered compared to the sneering invective that he directs at this site, its maintainers, and its frequent commenters in his posts elsewhere.
Bob Koss is wrong above in writing
> … Mann the Climatologist is nowhere to be found
Sorry, Bob. Look at the other columns, you’ve missed the obvious.
The info listed there is for Mann the climatologist (RC, IPCC, etc.); the error is a bad link to the UCLA instead of the Penn State scientist by the same name.
You found one error. Got another one? This is how it’s done, finding errors in other people’s work is part of the process:
“That’s how science works. It’s not a hippie love-in; it’s rugby. Every time you put out a paper, the guy you pissed off at last year’s Houston conference is gonna be laying in wait…. This is how it works: you put your model out there in the coliseum, and a bunch of guys in white coats kick the shit out of it. If it’s still alive when the dust clears, your brainchild receives conditional acceptance. It does not get rejected. This time.” http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=886
Since publication counts aren’t accurate, I have no reason to think citation counts are any better. They get listed by google in the publication search. Did they tediously go through each publication to ensure they had attributed the citations to the correct person? I think not.
It’s also interesting to look at polls and statements by various scientific organizations and to try to decide what their financial interests are. In some ways the 47% of petroleum geologists who believed that human activity was warming the planet in a poll published in EOS was more impressive than the 97% of climatologists who felt that way given the financial interests and questions of conscience involved.
This is an important insight. To explain that 47% as self-interested, you’d have to claim someone (Al Gore, maybe?) was bribing them. That might actually be the case, but I’d want to see the evidence.
One issue with Google Scholar is that it matches any middle initial when none is specified, so it seems M Collins has matched many other authors. This is less of an issue for more unusual names, or where authors have one or more middle initials.
Any inaccuracy on the CE side will, on average, be matched on the UE side, since the names are presumably independent of their climate positions. Adding the “climate” term was designed to minimise interference from similarly named authors, but I don’t think it was very effective, at least for common names.
The citation count doesn’t suffer from this problem, because the authorship of the relevant papers was verified:
Overall number of publications was not used because it was not possible to provide accurate publication counts in all cases because of similarly named researchers. We verified, however, author identity for the four top-cited papers by each author.
Unfortunately, there seem to be a number of technical shortcomings in the paper. Several of these induce biases in virtually every aspect of the analysis of the data.
The samples were not a random selection from a larger population, but rather the selection included the AR4 working group (over 600 of the 903 CE group subjects) who themselves had been chosen for their prolific publication and citation records. The UE group were chosen from individuals who had expressed opinions regarding the evidence for global warming. the numbers in the two groups do not properly represent the relative numbers in the population.
There was no control for the actual number of authors on each paper. Thus, if there were 10 authors on a particular publication with 100 citations, each author received credit for both the publication (total of 10) as well as the citations (total 1000) that the paper received. If the mean number of authors is higher for one of the groups, then this biases the results in favor of that group and exaggerates the extreme high values of the most prolific authors. Furthermore, because the counts are not independent, it puts into question the validity of using the Mann-Whitney test for analyzing that data.
Figures 1 and 3 reflect the disparity in size of the two samples by graphing counts rather than percentages.
However, there is also a major statistical error on page 2:
We examined a subsample of the 50 most-published (highest expertise) researchers from each group. Such subsampling facilitates comparison of relative expertise between groups (normalizing differences between absolute numbers). This method reveals large differences in relative expertise between CE and UE groups (Fig. 2). Though the top-published researchers in the CE group have an average of 408 climate publications (median = 344), the top UE researchers average only 89 publications (median = 68; Mann–Whitney U test:W= 2,455; P < 10−15). Thus, this suggests that not all experts are equal, and top CE researchers have much stronger expertise in climate science than those in the top UE group.
If one were to take two samples of sizes 903 and 472 randomly from the same population, order them by size and then take the largest fifty from each, it is a virtual certainty that the average (and/or median) of the 50 from the larger 903 subject group will be greater than that for the smaller sam0ple group. The exact amount (which may be very large) will depend on the distribution of the values from which the samples were selected. The analysis, the MW test statistic and p-value are meaningless here and the conclusion is unwarranted.
Perhaps a correction to the paper might be warranted.
Thank you for all your comments. I’ll try to answer the best I can
Kevin McKinney @29 says:
“I’d be very concerned, if, for example, I read that airline X had just laid off all their senior mechanics in order to save money.”
You would not be concerned because the airline would not be flying. Aircraft are not allowed to take off unless their maintenance/repair is current and in order.
Anne van der Bom @33 says:
“the example of the airplane mechanic was a metaphor. Metaphors are imperfect by definitio’”
It does not work for me as a metaphor and after reading what it was supposed to convey I think it is a very bad one.
Ray Ladbury @37 says:
“I’m left wondering not only whether you’ve ever talked to a scientist, but whether you’ve ever even talked to a mechanic!”
I have a BSc, am a product manager and my brother verifies aircraft maintenance histories when they get bought and sold.
Bob (Sphaerica) @40 says:
“People are…..not capable of determining whether or not the plane is capable of flying.”
Correct. That’s why there is a system of regulations and compliances
Also you say:
“knowledge and expertise” in place of “judgment and opinion.” It reads the same.”
Not in my book. We are talking about compliance to given standards.
Donna @43 says:
“When judgement/opinioon is based on the evidence then its use reflects well on the expertise of the person”
This is true. However, this is not the case when complying to given standards that an aircraft engineer works to.
Bob (Sphaerica) @45 say’s
“My guess is that he’s an engineer.”
I’m more an engineer than scientist. So you are correct. As a product manager I cannot get out of R&D and into design/engineering quick enough. Both disciplines are needed: however you can trust engineers and respect scientist. They operate in entirely different ways and need to.
Bob (Sphaerica) @47 says:
“(like Titus) who have fallen for the Denial Team bag of “tricks” (there’s that word again!) by twisting “expert” into a dirty word.”
I have not knowingly twisted anything into a dirty word. I respect opinions and I use them to make judgments of my own. I respect scientist but I do not trust there work until it gets to design/engineering. Both are need in this community, they just have different roles to fulfill.
That’s all got time for. Might get on late this evening if any one follows up.
“knowledge and expertise” in place of “judgment and opinion.” It reads the same.”
Not in my book. We are talking about compliance to given standards.
No, “we” are not talking about compliance to given standards, you are.
We are talking about the need to recognize and respect the statements made by experts in fields that are too complex for any individual outside of that field to properly evaluate.
You’ve tied yourself in knots over picayune phrasing, and keep missing the point. You cannot claim to be open minded, and then refuse to read something after the first sentence offends your sensibilities. That is insanity. For once in your life act like a true “skeptic” and try to learn and understand before forming an opinion.
It was my understanding (and Hank says it in #60), that peer review IS critical review (or evern revenge driven sniping)…..
Our commenter #1 comes in, basically says “It’s all crap and I don’t believe you”, leaves and does not respond to any comments on his post.
I’ve been seeing more of this recently. Rush to be the first to comment on a climate science post. Deny it out of hand. Make semi plausible statements which are really throwning dirt. Then leave and make sure your position sits as the first comment anyone will read. Obviously anyone who has a clue about science (and specifically climate science), will know that it’s BS; but what about the millions of others?
I have decided that this can be categorised as CDS “Climate Disinformation SPAM”. My conention is that you treat it as spam. Remove it and only put it back up for consideration if the author comes back to challnege the responses (which the author wont’ because they know it’s SPAM).
That’s my take on it. This is an interesting article which is trying to communicate something very important. Namely that a very small, select, community of people are trying to discredit some of the most important science that humanity has ever seen. And the whole thread descends into chaos because that same community is the first to post on it using the very tactics the post is trying to highlight.
OK the study may have flaws and I’m sure they’ll be addressed. But the conclusion is valid and even obvious to anyone who is looking with open eyes.
RomanM said “Perhaps a correction to the paper might be warranted.”
Not on those grounds, anyway! The disparity in the sizes of the CE and UE groups is a result of the study (and supported by other similar studies, I recall). Did you not even read the article at the top of the page before jumping in? They said “Furthermore, repeating our analysis relying only on those who signed at least one of the four CE letters/petitions and not on IPCC authorship yields similar results to those published.”
There are more technical arguments against your complaint, but we don’t need to get into that. It falls at the first hurdle.
But, if you disagree, then by all means go hunting for more UE candidates that have published highly cited papers. Good luck….
Chris Colose — I opine there are physical limits on climate response to forcing, K/W/m^2 cannot be very large by energy balance alone. However, I don’t know a similar principle to apply to the low end.
Titus – your inital comment – ““Judgement and opinion” cannot be compared to “airplane mechanics”. You stopped me dead from further reading at that point.
Aircraft are repaired and maintained to strict rules and standards which get signed off, documented and audited as a matter of process. No room for judgement and opinion here.”
I would ask you to consider how the rules and standards you cite are created. Groups of knowledgable persons get together and debate and decide based on their judgements of risk and their opinions as what language to use in the rules and standards that will be best understood.
There is a lot of judgement and opinion going into those rules and standards that you seem to think have none.
Also I’ll make you a bet that there are differences of opinion as to what exactly the words in the rules and standards mean. People fight citations by government regulators or other auditors because their opinion of what the rules and standards mean do not match what a particular auditor/regulator thinks and their judgement of what the rules and standards actually require also differ. Auditing would be far less necessary if everone read the same rules and standards exactly the same. Rules and standards get revised in part because those resposible for them recognize that honest difference in judgement and opinion can result in people not doing exactly what the authors had in mind.
End result – the simple use of an analogy not intended to be perfect is hardly a reason not to read past a few lines. And to try and claim that judgement and opinion aren’t used in “airplane mechanics” seems to ignore a lot of evidence to the contrary.
Perhaps you don’t understand the objection to the part I quoted:
We examined a subsample of the 50 most-published (highest expertise) researchers from each group. Such subsampling facilitates comparison of relative expertise between groups (normalizing differences between absolute numbers).
This claims that that selecting in this fashion somehow “equalizes” the imbalance in sample sizes and that is patently false. The statistics and subsequent analysis based on this sub-selection are meaningless and wrong. By all means, let’s hear your technical complaints on this and other issues.
Yes, I read the head post. Did you actually view the results of “repeated analysis” or are you simply repeating the arm waving?
I think if you check RomanM’s publication history in statistics You’d probably value his expert judgement over any of the authors or most commenters here, I’m failing to find any citations for Didactylos
[Response: We can well have a discussion on statistical issues, but keep it strictly to that please.--Jim]
The paper Expert Credibility in Climate Change, published in PNAS by Anderegg, the late Stephen Schneider, James Prall and Jacob Harold attempts to measure the credibility of climate scientists by counting how many papers they have published and how often their work has been cited by others.
This led to the creation of a blacklist that will be used to injure the careers of those who have signed letters or petitions that do not agree with the Al Gore/James Hansen position on climate change, and to intimidate future scientists, effectively silencing dissent.
The paper is poorly done, as I’ve explained elsewhere. They used Google Scholar instead of an academic database. They searched only in English, despite the global nature of climate science. They got names wrong. They got job titles wrong. They got incorrect numbers of publications and citations.
As I’ve mentioned, the highly respected Spencer Weart dismissed the paper as rubbish, saying it should not have been published.
But the worst part of this is the violation of the rights of those they studied. Because Prall keeps lists of skeptical scientists on his weblog, obsessively trawling through online petitions and published lists of letters, and because those lists were used as part of the research, anyone now or in the future can have at their fingertips the names of those who now or in the past dared to disagree.
[edit of likely libelous statement]
It doesn’t matter that the nature of the letters and petitions they signed varied widely, from outright skepticism to really innocuous questioning of the state of the science.
The paper is tagged ‘Climate Deniers.’ Now, so are they.
This is an outright violation of every ethical code of conduct for research that has ever been published.
They violate several sections of the American Sociological Association Ethical Guidelines:
“Sociologists conduct research, teach, practice, and provide service only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, or appropriate professional experience.”
The members of the research team were operating outside their areas of professional competence.
“Sociologists refrain from undertaking an activity when their personal circumstances may interfere with their professional work or lead to harm for a student, supervisee, human subject, client, colleague, or other person to whom they have a scientific, teaching, consulting, or other professional obligation.” The subjects of their research–the scientists on the list–risk grave harm as a result of this paper.
Sociologists have an obligation to ensure that confidential information is protected. They do so to ensure the integrity of research and the open communication with research participants and to protect sensitive information obtained in research, teaching, practice, and service. When gathering confidential information, sociologists should take into account the long-term uses of the information, including its potential placement in public archives or the examination of the information by other researchers or
11.01 Maintaining Confidentiality
(a) Sociologists take reasonable precautions to protect the confidentiality rights of research participants, students, employees, clients, or others.
(b) Confidential information provided by research participants, students, employees, clients, or others is treated as such by sociologists even if there is no legal protection or privilege to do so. Sociologists have an obligation to protect confidential information and not allow information gained in confidence from
being used in ways that would unfairly compromise research participants, students, employees, clients, or others.
(c) Information provided under an understanding of confidentiality is treated as such even after the death of those providing that information.
(d) Sociologists maintain the integrity of confidential deliberations, activities, or
roles, including, where applicable, that of professional committees, review panels,
or advisory groups (e.g., the ASA Committee on Professional Ethics).
(e) Sociologists, to the extent possible, protect the confidentiality of student records,
performance data, and personal information, whether verbal or written, given in the context of academic consultation, supervision, or advising.
(f) The obligation to maintain confidentiality extends to members of research or training teams and collaborating organizations who have access to the information. To ensure that access to confidential information is restricted, it is the responsibility of researchers, administrators, and principal investigators to instruct staff to take the steps necessary to protect confidentiality.
(g) When using private information about individuals collected by other persons or institutions, sociologists protect the confidentiality of individually identifiable information. Information is private when an individual can reasonably expect that the information will not be made public with personal identifiers (e.g., medical or employment records).”
I think it is clear that the paper, wrong on the facts, is unethical in its intent and outcome. I call for the pape to be withdrawn and for Prall’s website to take down the Blacklist.
[Response: hmm... A long cut and paste about the need for sociologists to maintain confidentiality. But perhaps you could point out what it is about an open letter in the New York Times or full page ad in the WSJ and google scholar that is at all confidential? - gavin]
RomanM: I don’t think you understand the purpose of the sub-sampling. It is not to put both groups on an equal footing. Nothing will do that! The groups just aren’t equal.
You must have read the paragraph before your quote, where the mean publication counts are compared: “Mean expertise of the UE group was around half (60 publications) that of the CE group (119 publications)”. So, instantly your concept of “random selection from a larger population”. The two groups have different characteristics as a whole.
The sub-sampling merely removes any watering-down caused by a long tail. You just don’t like it because it widens the distance between the CE experts and the UE experts.
If you found the wording in the paper misleading or debatable, then you could have just said that, instead of throwing accusations about. I have to say, the wording isn’t as clear as I would like. The “normalising” comment can be read to imply that a different process is being performed.
You haven’t explained how you propose to fix this unfixable problem. How can you make the groups “equal”? If you start adding restrictions to cut down the size of the CE group, the UE group will vanish to nothing. Any method of compiling a list of prominent CE and UE scientists will necessarily arrive at near-identical results. And the gap will remain.
Oh – and what makes you think the UE group has lower author counts? But even that concern is addressed in the paper.
It is interesting to see who turns up at the goring of a symbolic ox, feels compelled to rise to the defense of the sacred cow. Apparently “lack of consensus” is a very important canon of contrarianism.
Didactylos, what do you think the sentence “Such subsampling facilitates comparison of relative expertise between groups (normalizing differences between absolute numbers)” means? I didn’t suggest doing that – the authors did.
There is nothing to “fix” because this approach is wrong right from the start. You clearly still do not understand my initial explanation.
To make it more obvious, if I have two populations of numbers with the same distribution and I select 500 from one group and 50 from the second, I should get about the same median in both. Now, if I take the largest 50 from the first group and the largest 50 from the second (i.e. all 50) and take the median from the sub-samples, what will happen? The first will have all values (probably considerably) above the old median so the new median will be larger. The second still has the same median as before. The difference I am seeing is due purely to selecting in this fashion from unequal size groups. It is NOT any sort of comparison between the values in the two identical groups in question. The same will hold true for the average of the sub-samples. The point is that as done by the authors, any differences are distorted and no longer meaningful.
The sub-sampling merely removes any watering-down caused by a long tail. You just don’t like it because it widens the distance between the CE experts and the UE experts.
In fact, it is just the opposite. This procedure extracts” the long tails” which are naturally longer in the larger group. It widens the difference, but I “don’t like” it because it is wrong. if you don’t believe what I say ask a real statistician.
RomanM: the two groups don’t have the same distribution. They are not drawn randomly from some larger sample.
Wrong premise, wrong conclusion, and that just makes you wrong. It doesn’t matter how right you are in theory (and your theoretical example is of course correct) – your argument just doesn’t apply.
I think your problem is that you wanted the authors to have done what you thought they meant, instead of what they actually meant – and actually did. But what they actually did had a meaning, since it speaks to the relative expertise among the most prolific authors in both groups. Taking two completely random subgroups would not be useful, since they have already analysed the full dataset, nor would it be meaningful, since the two groups are unequal in size because there is simply more of one than the other, not due to any obscure sampling issues.
I know this comment is probably going to be rejected out of hand. So be it. But for your own edification please consider seriously the issues raised by these guidelines, and ask the study’s authors to do the same next time they undertake research of this kind.
[Response: No, actually it wouldn't have been had you not accused the authors, and/or RealClimate, of "blanket denials and cover-ups".--Jim]
Gavin says, “But perhaps you could point out what it is about an open letter in the new York times or full page ad in the WSJ and google scholar that is at all confidential?”
For your own edification, again, I just want to highlight this quotation. (cf. 11.07 Minimizing Intrusions on Privacy(a) To minimize intrusions on privacy, sociologists include in written and oral
reports, consultations, and public communications only information germane to
the purpose for which the communication is made.)
This goes for data gathered from the New York Times, observations in a public park, info from arrest records, or any open source. It doesn’t matter that the information was publicly available when you found it; you have an obligation to include only information necessary to the purposes of your research, and to protect or otherwise anonymize all other information (you can share non-germane data with other professionals, of course; that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to just throw it up there for all comers). The identities of the subjects of this study were in no way necessary for its purposes.
This doesn’t mean the study’s authors are unethical cretins. It does mean, however, that they slipped up on a fine but important ethical point. It happens. It’s not the end of the world or proof positive that they’re gussying up a blacklist as social science research. But it’s a mistake that should be owned up to. At a minimum, it’s a mistake that should never be repeated.
[Response: Sorry, but this is completely bogus. People do not sign open letters in order to be anonymous. It is not the same as being overheard in the park. Indeed the whole point about signing such letters (whether they be a set of Nobel Prize winners, or scientists, or doctors or whomever) is to imbue them with authority based on the authority of the signers. It is therefore completely legitimate to assess that implied authority - just as people have done less systematically for any number of petitions. - gavin]
Being public is not the same as being labeled as a climate denier by an IT administrator and a grad student doing what they call ‘research.’ Those… people… had a duty of care to their research subjects which they totally failed to observe.
[Response: Rubbish. If Lindzen or Michaels or whoever sign a public letter, I owe them no duty of care whatsoever in mentioning it wherever I like. The same would be true of them in mentioning the fact I signed the Bali letter. The same is true for the authors of this paper. Had a comment of support been made in a private email or an interview in which confidentiality had been assured, it would be a completely different story. (PS. I can see that you are trying not be overtly insulting, but please try a little harder - such language is not conducive to discussion). - gavin]
Signing a letter or a petition should not earn you what somebody else uses as an insult or a weapon to deny them future employment, tenure or a grant. And that is surely what will happen.
Roberts, what part of “I have to admit that this paper should not have been published in the present form. I haven’t read any other posts on this; the defects are obvious on a quick reading of the paper itself.” is difficult to understand?
[Response: Well, it's not hard to understand, but it's not the same as "this study is rubbish" as you implied at first. That I assume is his point. Given that you pretending to be a champion of ethical scholarship here, I suggest that you be more careful in your quotes. - gavin]
Perhaps climate scientists should compare notes with vaccine experts, as they face similar a similar dilemma. They know what they’re talking about, and they have the expertise and evidence to back it up, but face an uphill battle against folks who willfully choose to ignore the evidence.
In the case of vaccines, Jenny McCarthy (ex-Playboy model – how’s that for expertise!) and others campaign against vaccines, based on a supposed link between vaccines and autism. The fact that there’s no evidence for that link doesn’t matter. There’s enough fear that vaccination rates and ‘herd immunity’ are now dropping in parts of the US, leading to the possibility of outbreaks of diseases that for decades had been virtually eliminated.
Widespread false beliefs can have serious consequences… but alas expert credibility is no match for public credulity.
Climate scientists need to get someone of Jenny McCarthy’s stature (and figure?) on their side! ;-)
Comment by Gerry Beauregard — 4 Aug 2010 @ 9:31 PM
A suggestion, instead of throwing stones and taking pot shots, might I suggest that you follow the advice of the authors above, namely:
“Furthermore, the vast majority of comments pertain to how the study could have been done differently. To the authors of such comments, we offer two words – do so! That’s the hallmark of science. We look forward to your scientific contributions – if and when they are peer-reviewed and published – and will be open to any such studies. “
Questions is are the “skeptics” up to the challenge? If history is anything to go by, the answer to that question is a resounding no.
Also, it is worth reiterating what Didactylos said above:
“But, if you disagree, then by all means go hunting for more UE candidates that have published highly cited papers. Good luck….”
“You haven’t explained how you propose to fix this unfixable problem. How can you make the groups “equal”?”
You are going to have to do some creative statistical manipulation to refute the inconvenient fact that skeptics’ publication list when compared to those who actually comprehend the problems at hand, not to mention the relatively low number of people citing the few papers (in a relative sense) the “skeptics” have managed to get in print.
Mosher @73, I’d look up RomanM’s publication list if I knew exactly who s/he was. Care to share? Thanks.
Now the denialists (on a blog I visisted) are claiming one has to be an expert — a scientist with a Ph.D. — to accept AGW and talk about it. I say that would just take too long (for everyone to get a Ph.D. in climate science), and surely some would fall asleep in class.
As one who accepted AGW years before the 1st studies reached scientific confidence in 1995, and as one who’d like to avoid the FALSE NEGATIVE (failing to mitigate ACC when it is actually happening) and is not in the least afraid of the FALSE POSITIVE (that AGW is untrue, but we mitigate it anyway…saving $$ in the process and mitigating a plethora of other problems, saving even more $$ and lives — the BEST OF ALL WORLDS scenario), I have this to say:
It doesn’t take a climate scientist with a Ph.D. to understand the basics of AGW and realize the threats, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to turn off lights not in use, or the 1000s of other small and big things we need to do. We don’t need .05 significance on this one to have started mitigating.
And, “there is no such thing as a rational, economic man.” That’s what I’ve learned from my years of trying to explain AGW and get people to mitigate.
Thanks very much Gavin and the whole group at RC for posting this response. Thanks also for constructive comments and feedback.
First, I originally built these lists to be an online resource, including a way to find widely published and highly cited authors on climate-related topics, and to link to their academic homepage and photo. (I’ve left photos out of most pages since they were making page loads too slow.) Readers can then visit an author’s site and see what they teach and where; their areas of research; their CV; and who their departmental colleagues are. Having taken a number of courses on climatology and climate change myself, I’ve appreciated getting better acquainted with the many authors whose papers were assigned or cited in our coursework assignments, and putting faces to the names.
I also include an extremely brief, telegraphic few words on what I noted as each author’s top research area or paper topic – another detail I found helpful and thought others might appreciate; but those notes were not used in any way in the PNAS paper. Of course a few words of notes in a box cannot do justice to the breadth of interests or expertise of the many great minds covered in the listings. I’ve seen some online comments suggesting that if those very short notes are oversimplifications (which of course they are) then the citation statistics can be dismissed as well. I think that’s grasping at straws.
If there is an occasional mistaken link such as the one to a different Michael Mann, sorry, but that too has no bearing on the PNAS paper as it did not make use of the homepage links (nor the photos). However, I welcome any corrections to these to enhance the value of my listings as a directory, and I’ve updated that link to the correct Penn State homepage.
To the question of which figures were included in the analysis in the PNAS paper: the paper looked at both the number of papers matching “climate” for each author, and the number of citations to each author’s top four papers, as returned by Google Scholar.
Because Google Scholar tends to keep separate entries for variant citations to the same work, it tends to return higher paper and citation counts than do private, subscription-only databases such as Scopus or ISI Thompson or an exact count you can find in an author’s CV. But as both M in #57 and Didactylos in #63 correctly point out that any such effect cannot introduce any bias between two groups under comparison – what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Google Scholar’s higher numbers do not in any way invalidate Google Scholar results as a sound *comparative* index.
As I mention on my website, I chose Google Scholar over the other paywalled services so that I could make my listings self-documenting: only Google Scholar has free, open access. In each listing I include links to all the searches so readers can repeat them for themselves. As M notes in #57, the count for “author:M-Collins climate” (which he checked using the link I provide) does indeed appear to be inflated by some false positives of other authors with the same first initial and last name (Matthew Collins either does not have or does not use a middle initial in published papers) but I assert that is a rare occurrence: most authors were searched with both first and middle initial, and it’s rare for an author to have a namesake match who also publishes on climate as in this one case.
In gathering the citation counts to each author’s four most cited papers, I did indeed apply “due diligence” to ensure I was finding only works by the specific author in question – if another author of the same initial and last name showed highly-cited papers on a topic unrelated to climate, such as the other widely cited James E Hansen who writes on medicine, I excluded such false positives.
The complaint from Tom Fuller that my website violates anyone’s privacy is unconvincing. All the statements I compiled, both those affirming and those dissenting from mainstream climate science, were public declarations, often widely promoted by their organizers. For instance, one led by the Cato Institute was run as a full-page ad in major newspapers. All were posted on the web, and our PNAS paper points to only one page on my website, the one that links to the original source documents on the web. I haven’t “outed” anyone or exposed anyone’s private communications. The “blacklist” complaint was hyped by Marc Morano, yet he himself published and widely promoted a list of most of the same names when he worked for Senator Inhofe. Our response in the original posting above also speaks to this point, as do Steve Schneider’s interviews on this – do check them out.
Thanks again to everyone for reading and responding.
One other point: the difference in publication and citation rates that we documented in the PNAS paper is so large that it is pointless to look for a higher degree of precision that what was possible using Google Scholar. If there were a narrow margin, I could see asking for a recount using ISI or Scopus. But consider this comparison:
median # of papers on climate for 619 IPCC AR4 wg1 authors: 93
median # of papers on climate for 472 UE signers in PNAS study: 2
I don’t think that specific distinction was mentioned in the paper, but the numbers are there to see on my site.
Mr. Prall, I’m really shocked at your lackadaisacal attitude towards the implications faced by those named on your list as climate deniers. In this charged atmosphere it will serve as an impediment to their careers. As some of the letters and petitions you use as reference are fairly innocuous, there are many scientists who do not consider themselves climate deniers who have now been named as such by your paper.
And you confuse your duty to them as a researcher. It is not to protect their privacy. It is to dissassociate their identities from your labels. You can say climate deniers publish 2 papers to climate consensus holders publisher 93 papers all you want. I have no problem with that.
As Spencer Weart said, “The statistics are certainly interesting, but must be interpreted as “2-3% of people who have published 20 climate papers are willing to publicly attack the IPCC’s conclusions.” That is, to me, a surprisingly high fraction, although I think it can largely be attributed not to the scientific process but to the unfortunate extreme political polarization, which can induce blindness… on both sides.” (Gavin and Hank Roberts, note the use of quotation marks to indicate direct quotes.)
But you harm these people when you make it possible for them to be identified as climate deniers. Even if some of them are.
I actually think what you’ve done borders on being actionable. It unquestionably violates the UK’s and EU’s Data Privacy Acts. It violates every research code of conduct or code of ethics I have ever seen.
I’ve been doing this type of research for 15 years and I have never–never–seen the privacy of research subjects treated in such a cavalier fashion.
[Response: But no private information was sought or used. Therefore there is no privacy to protect. And I would be astonished if any research code anywhere forbade commentary or labeling of public figures and their public positions. No data privacy act outlaws commentary on public actions. Certainly in the US, it is common practice to comb public archives and cross tabulate different fields. And that isn't even dealing with the fact that the paper does not say that the UE group are 'deniers' in the first place. The only quote in the text refers to how "[t]his group, often termed climate change skeptics, contrarians, or deniers, has received large amounts of media attention” – which is certainly true. They have often been called these things, and they have received disproportionate media attention. Frankly, your level of outrage over this paper is similarly disproportionate. – gavin]
Signing a letter or a petition should not earn you what somebody else uses as an insult or a weapon to deny them future employment, tenure or a grant. And that is surely what will happen.
So Fuller is on record as stating that an academic geologist who openly writes the WSJ that she believes the world is only 6,000 years old, should not have this held against her when she applies for an academic position (let’s just say, for the hell of it, researching fossil fuels formation and deposits, the entire profession of which is based on old-earth reality).
Sorry, Fuller, incompetence is an entirely reasonable “weapon” to be used to deny the incompetent future employment, blah blah blah.
I love the fact that Fuller believes that competence should have no bearing on future employment, that apparently he believes that the incompetent should be favored (as long as they hold his libertarian political beliefs).
There is one issue that is tangentially related to this that I was curious about. In some of Judith’s comments, she mentioned how ‘citizen science’ could be extremely beneficial to climate science, much the same way amateur astronomy is very important in pushing the boundaries of that field. I know there is a lot of bad blood between many of the players in this debate, however I look at something like the Clear Climate Code and the string of bloggers who are comparing and contrasting temperature reconstructions and I see a lot of good work that could help progress in this area. Even the work that Watts et al. have done (re: surfacestations) has been impressive in terms of mobilizing volunteers in order to evaluate the quality of the temperature stations (notwithstanding any other issues you may or may not have with him/his blog). Does anyone from either side care to suggest where efforts like this could be most beneficial? I know many consider the differences between both sides to be too big for efforts at cooperation to suceed, but I’m really more interested in what could be, not what is feasible in this political climate (no pun intended).
Also, I’m not trying to setup ‘citizen scientists’ as the experts. Even McIntyre says that were he in government it is only sensible to listen to what the experts are saying, which is typically advice give in the form of the IPCC or other scientific bodies.
[Response: Sure. Look at Ron Brobergs' efforts with the GSOD data. In scanning large amounts of data where eyeballs are more important than computers, amatuers can help tremendously - the US phenology project is one thing along those lines. Finding errors in databases is also helped by having as many users looking for them as possible. Mining the climate model databases is also something people might want to do more of - there is much in there that has not been made clear because of the software constraints rather than the lack of ideas. Even paleo-climate reconstructions could benefit if people took on the data with a constructive attitude. But that last point is key. People have to want to help understand the issue. It is not enough simply to want to score points - compare and contrast Joe D'Aleo with Zeke Hausfeather for instance. The former spends his time trying to find misleading soundbites and making up misleading graphs, while the latter actually built from scratch the tools that enabled him to show that D'Aleo was very wrong. - gavin]
Gavin, I dearly want to read from opinions of the quiet IPCC guys and gals, we should tap this resource, also I really think we need to rebut every contrarian article and or viral publicity driven grossly erroneous opinions from every newspaper or blog which has a significant readership. Its the least we can do, being anti-bodies of the cancer which propagandizes false climate notions is a duty to perform from the experts. Remaining quiet and simply teach correct science is not an option. I am afraid more experts are needed to speak up in forums such as RC, but more systematically. I read many articles in the Main stream which get through without a serious response, eventually they become stubborn falsehoods difficult to redress,
If every negative contribution dedicated to a large audience is corrected nearly immediately, propaganda efforts would be more discouraged. Many reporters interviewed publish contrarian views alone, a good quick response redresses the flawed opinion and replaces it with the correct one. In other words, a propaganda piece would serve the spreading of correct science…
The careers of reputable scientists who were grouped (following their own public declarations) in the UE group have not suffered, nor will they. I challenge Fuller to demonstrate and quantify how the careers of prominent AGW/ACC “skeptics” such as Lindzen, Christy, Spencer and Pielke Snr have been impeded. When they signed those petitions they did so knowing full well that it was a public disclosure of their position of AGW/ACC. As Prall noted, the CATO petition appeared in a full page ad in a national newspaper for goodness’ sakes.
If I were Tom, I would save my indignation and rage for the real black list created by Inhofe et al. (aka Inhofe’s 17). Now that IS over the line, inappropriate and potentially actionable. It seems that his rants are motivated, not by conscience or ethics, but rather to feed the ‘skeptics’ and add to their paranoia.
Tom’s comments also do not change the painful fact that ‘skeptics’ have published far, far few papers and have been cited much, much less than their colleagues who are convinced by the data and physics that AGW/ACC presents a legitimate concern. That is why the “skeptics” are upset about his paper, because their inexperience and lack of credibility and intellectual weight in the field of climate science have been shown to be seriously wanting.
All this bluster and ridiculous paranoids about “black lists” is just a smoke screen, and Fuller is a willful participant in that. Why am I not surprised….
> note the use of quotation marks to indicate direct quotes.
See how this works?
You can’t write “rubbish” when you cite and quote the source.
You could still write rubbish, of course.
But it’d be your word, not Weart’s.
When you said “Mining the climate model databases” did you mean analysing the output of the GCM’s in order to find relationships in the variables? I was thinking in particular to your point over a CoS regarding making the science more policy relevant, sort of like trying to find what variables have impacts on the policy decisions and how they impact them. I’m not sure I understood correctly though. Could you give an example of what the software constraints are?
What do you think of an open source GCM (clear climate GCM)? I know it would be wraught with difficulties since, for example, all the current GCM’s I know of run on super computer’s that have a lot more computing power than…. my desktop. However I could see an architecture that allowed a user to run a standard run (for any given study) and upload the result (or partial result) when it is complete. I believe there was something similar for this with the SETI program. It could even be used to give some more policy relevant tools to politicians, although I’m sure we could debate what form those tools should or would take (I’m partial to them having to download the code, make it compile and make sure their envr variables are correctly set). In particular, as an engineer with an aerospace simulation company, it is a project that someone with skills like mine would be well suited to help with.
[Response: Let's think about an example. Imagine I was interested in storm systems in the North Atlantic and how they were represented in models. I would like therefore to aggregate all of the examples of a 'storm' in the models and observations and get some average cloudiness, rainfall rate, cloud-top height, etc and build up a 3D 'generic storm' for each model and the data. Sounds easy right? But to do this right now would involve downloading terabytes of data processing it very laboriously and doing it separately for every single model simulation. But that would be very useful information which currently exists in theory, but not in practice. Finding ways to crowd source that kind of thing would be a huge contribution.
On your second point, I did think about suggesting an open source GCM, but I decided against it. The problem there is that each component in a GCM is very much a state of the art domain issue. You really need to understand the issues in modelling convection to do it justice, the same for radiative transfer, or ocean mixing. One could obviously take an existing GCM and re-factor it (as clearclimatecode did for GISTEMP) but unless that was done in tight collaboration with an existing group, maintenance of that code to deal with new advances would be very hard. If the aim was somewhat different - a web-based portal for the lay public or for educators (a la Modtran) - something like EdGCM perhaps, then it would be doable. But one would need to be very clear about what was being attempted. Maybe others would like to chip in here? - gavin]
Have you actually read the post by the authors above, or for that matter Didactylos’ comments to RomanM made here? Seems not, seems that you are happy to blindly support RomanM.
IMO, the authors of the paper have been very open to critique. Now if you think that you or CA can do better, please do go ahead an publish a paper in PNAS demonstrating the impact of the alleged error on the results. Anything less simply amounts to whining and obfuscation from the inconvenient truths underscored by the findings in this paper. Whining also wastes everyone’s time and does not advance the science.
And, in Prall’s post above he did concede and acknowledge that there were some minor errors– almost every paper has them. So please stop arguing strawmen and trying to suggest that he and his co-authors (including Schneider) are not “credible”.
Let us look at this another way, if you and RomanM wish to be “credible” scientists, then the onus is on you to publish a comment on the PNAS paper.
I see you didn’t have the courage to publish my later comment. And you continue to miss the point. It is not important that the names were public nor that the signatories performed a public action.
The canons of research require, for very good reason, that you do not associate individuals with research outputs.
To say otherwise is anti-science.
[Response: Nonsense. If I am doing research on the impact of Gordon Brown on economic policy in Europe using his public speeches, I think it would be a little weird not to mention his name in the resulting paper. If I wanted to aggregate his impact along with all other heads of state in Europe for the same time period (which I am pretty sure is also in the public domain), would I be expected to say 'a sampling of heads of state' rather than just give a list of my 'research subjects'? This is just bogus. (PS. continued whines about how you are being repressed will be met with persistent links to this youtube video. Either add something substantive (politely) or don't bother). - gavin]
Bob (Sphaerica) @66 says:
“We are talking about the need to recognize and respect the statements made by experts..”
I agree and said so in my reply to you in #65. “Respect” not “trust’ are the operative words.
Then you say:
“You’ve tied yourself in knots over picayune phrasing, and keep missing the point”
I originally commented on the following statement in the article: “we trust the pronouncement of well-trained airplane mechanics” And I have remained consistent to answering it throughout. IMO the statement mixes associations that are not correct and gives a false impression,
Please be informed that an article needs to crab its audience in the first few lines. If it doesn’t it won’t get read. I offered my feedback in good faith. Please receive it as such.
65 Patrick 027 @70 says:
“Aircraft are not allowed to take off unless their maintenance/repair is current and in order. – Sounds like the people who wrote those rules had some good judgement. :)”
The people that wrote the rules judged that we needed more than expert opinion and judgment so implemented the process of engineering standards and regs.
Donna @71 says:
“I’ll make you a bet that there are differences of opinion as to what exactly the words in the rules and standards mean”
I will not bet because I do not want to take your money. There is no opinion required. If a part is designed for so many hours of operation then it will be replaced. Repairs and maintenance are carried out by the book with designated tools and procedures which are signed off on, documented and audited.
but I don’t really care. The machine uses about 30 extra watts over what it would if it were allowed to rest. Power here is cheap and we’re about 80% hydro so no big deal. If you’re on coal, maybe a different matter.
BTW, where’s Tom Fuller’s outrage over folks having their email purloined and then published? I actually think what you’ve done borders on being actionable. It unquestionably violates the UK’s and EU’s Data Privacy Acts. Care to give some legal advice on how the law treats email theft, Tom?
The idea behind the selection process was not that the authors labeled anyone, but rather that the groups labeled themselves (in the public domain). Whether or not the methodology to take these public lists and create a statistical representation of the population was appropriate is one matter, but the whole “blacklist” line is nonsensical and unconvincing. If someone signs a petition saying ‘global warming is a hoax’ that is available for the world to see, then the co-authors of this paper are not the ones labeling them…they have made it clear on their own accord what their position is.
Indeed the whole point about signing such letters (whether they be a set of Nobel Prize winners, or scientists, or doctors or whomever) is to imbue them with authority based on the authority of the signers. It is therefore completely legitimate to assess that implied authority – just as people have done less systematically for any number of petitions. – gavin]
That will suffice nicely for calming anybody getting the vapors over the supposed blacklist. Does anybody need it explained further? Surely not?
It’s oh so interesting to see the many complaints about the names of people being available on a website. Interesting, because I am certain that if the names were NOT available, there would be loads of moaning about the data not being made freely available…or does free access to the raw data no longer count when it is sociological research?
Tom Fuller’s complaint about the supposed blacklist is and remains laughable. If being mentioned indirectly as a UE is so harmful to one’s career, why is openly and willingly signing a petition which is published in the WSJ NOT harmful? Tom? Any credible counter-argument?
“Schneider: The main thing I want people to remember is that when we’re talking about expertise, we’re not talking about expertise in what to do about a problem. That is a social judgment and every person has the same right to their opinion as any person in climate. However, we are talking about the relative likelihood that there could be serious or even dangerous changes. Because before you even decide how you want to deploy resources as a hedge against a wide range of important social problems, you have to know how serious the problems are. All we’re trying to do in science is give the best estimate that honest people with a lot of evidence can, about the relative risks, so they can make wise decisions in their own lives and in who they elect about how we should deal with it.”
Yet courts sometimes intervene when parents won’t take their children to a doctor. At the least, sanity is required on the part of the voting public, and honest government is necessary. We have neither.
Schneider also says: “If you have a heart arrhythmia as I do, and I also have a cardiologist, and you also have an oncological problem as I do, I’m not going to my cancer doc to ask him about my heart medicine and my cardiologist to ask about my chemo, I’m going to the experts. Who’s an expert really matters.”
But Professor Schneider knows enough about medicine to know that a cardiologist works on hearts and an oncologist works on cancer. The voting public in the US does not know enough about science to distinguish wattsupwiththat from realclimate. More people go to the equivalent of a witch doctor than to a real doctor. It isn’t that they can’t distinguish a cardiologist from an oncologist. They can’t distinguish a preacher or a snake oil salesman or a hospitalized schizophrenic from a medical doctor. Ignorance at that level is as good as mental illness. They keep repeating the same wrong behavior, expecting different results. Trying to point out the world’s best cardiologist is pointless.
Thanks for answering. Let me address “aggregate” first. It’s meaning is represented by “a sum, mass, or assemblage of particulars” at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/aggregate. Notice I don’t use the term “definition”, which has too many meanings.
By aggregate I simply meant “collection of”. I may be creating straw men but my impression of your scientific community is that it believes that the collection of peer reviewed papers is the only “scientific knowledge”. I am not a fan of Thomas Kuhn’s “Structure of Scientific Revolutions” ( See Heinz Post’s “General correspondence principle”) but his picture of scientific progress points out vividly how science in general is not simply aggregation of knowledge parcels.
[Response: I do not believe that peer reviewed journals contain the totality of scientific knowledge, and I'm not in any way arguing that the latter is akin to a stamp collection.--Jim]
I understand that Unger et. al. and Ramana et. al. have different approaches but they both have information on one common topic – the effects of shipping on climate. I haven’t actually seen the full Ramana paper but I was hoping an “expert” might be kind enough to help me form a judgement, with the object of pressing sensible policies on policy makers.
Your reply was not very helpful. It amounts to saying the papers are apples and oranges and hides what your judgement on shipping might be. This echoes what a distinguished environmental journalist remarked about climate scientists “they knew but they didn’t tell us”.
[Response: No, that's not what I was saying was apples and oranges. That referred to comparing the question addressed by Anderegg et al, with the one you raised, which are of very different scope, level of scrutiny, and societal importance. And nobody I know has knowledge they're hiding. --Jim]
I know you’ve all had a hard time from the deniers but instead of saying “aside from questions of the weights of the evidence thereon” why don’t you just tell us your assessment. If not, why not?
[Response: Because I don't have one, as I know nothing about it. If I had an informed one, I'd give it, believe me.--Jim]
TF 92: In this charged atmosphere it will serve as an impediment to their careers. As some of the letters and petitions you use as reference are fairly innocuous, there are many scientists who do not consider themselves climate deniers who have now been named as such by your paper.
BPL: If people sign conservative open letters, it’s legitimate to call them conservative. If people sign liberal open letters, it’s legitimate to call them liberal. And if people sign climate denier open letters, it’s legitimate to call them climate deniers. Deal with it. They “outed” THEMSELVES.
Allegations of “violations of privacy” are utterly ridiculous. These analyses are conducted on publicly available information. Publicly available information about individuals is *explicitly exempted* from the protection of privacy in the Code of Federal Regulations for the protection of human subjects: http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/45cfr46.htm
Gavin, I don’t understand your reluctance to allow the guideline that states that only info germane to the research should be released and that all other info should be protected. (Or maybe, I do understand how the authors could have allowed it.) To wit, sharing names of research subjects with professionals is ok; posting a link to a list of names is not. If you needed any proof of the wisdom of this guideline, this brouhaha provides plenty of it. When I say “blanket denials” I don’t mean to be polemical or insulting toward the authors; I merely am frustrated that they have not specifically answered the question: Why was it necessary to your study’s objectives to do so? Did they discuss their study in light of these guidelines, or with individuals familiar with these issues? If so, how did they arrive at the conclusion that publiciZing the identities of their subjects within their own study (via the links, etc.) was necessary to examine what the study set out to examine? None of these questions are answered by their response, ” it was public anyway” or “we have to share the data.” As mentioned and as the guidelines point our, personally identifiable data may be shared only with other professionals, only excepting cases in which you need to know specific identities in order to understand the results of the study (or you receive consent to do so, etc.)
[Response: As a commenter mentioned above, examining public statements by public figures (by their own choosing), does not make those people 'research subjects' in any sense relevant to your comments. You might as well ask that the authors names be left off scientific papers because that is publicly identifiable information. None of those rules cover info that is already in the public domain. And please note this is not 'my' study. Anderegg et al asked if we would host their response and after some back and forth, we said yes. - gavin]
Vincent wrote: “Allegations of ‘violations of privacy’ are utterly ridiculous. These analyses are conducted on publicly available information.”
The important thing to realize here, is that these ridiculous allegations that are repeated by one commenter after another, often in very similar language, are scripted talking points that are being spoon-fed to “grassroots” denialists by the fossil fuel industry-funded denialist propaganda machine.
They are not coming from people who have taken the time to read and understand the study and form their own conclusions about it as the result of independent thought. They are coming from people whose modus operandi is to accept without question whatever the denial machine tells them, and then obediently repeat it on blogs everywhere.
And they call themselves “skeptics” for doing just that.
simon abingdon wrote: “And does your ‘BEST OF ALL WORLDS scenario’ include carpeting the landscape with wind turbines”
The commercially exploitable wind energy resources of only FOUR midwestern states is sufficient to produce more electricity than the entire USA uses.
Concentrating solar thermal power stations on FIVE PERCENT of the USA’s deserts could likewise produce more electricity than the entire USA uses.
There is no need to “carpet the landscape” with anything.
Attacking renewable energy technologies with such absurd claims is of equal importance as denial of AGW to the fossil fuel industry-funded obstructionists. And will probably become more important to them as AGW denial collapses in the face of the obvious ongoing effects of global warming, climate change and biosphere destruction.
#82, Didactylos, #88, Maple Leaf.
The intent of my example was to point out to you that the procedure used by the authors to quantitatively summarize the differences between the most prolific publishers in each contains a substantial bias in favor of the larger group when applied to two groups that have identical characteristics. It follows from this that in other cases, the effect will be the same when the groups differ. The results are distorted – some of the difference is actual difference between the two populations and some due to the sample size and you can’t tell how much is due to either source.
To further apply a statistical test on the results as a purported evaluation of the difference in the populations is incorrect. My criticism of this does not fall in the “how the study could have been done differently” category. It is simply not the analytically correct thing to do. Using the test results to substantiate conclusions is inappropriate.
“You haven’t explained how you propose to fix this unfixable problem. How can you make the groups “equal”?”
Suppose you are comparing two populations in a case where the distributions are severely skewed and there are a substantial number of extreme values. For other practical reasons, the sample sizes you collected may be unequal, say 500 in one and 1000 in the other. If I wish to compare the details of the distribution of the more extreme values, just choosing the largest 50 from each creates the problem that we have been discussing. One approach to correcting the imbalance could be to first place the two samples on the same size footing. How? By sub-sampling 500 observations randomly from the larger group first and then comparing the top fifty from each. This eliminates the size imbalance effect, but does introduce an effect due to the random selection. The latter can be dealt with by repeating this multiple times (easy to do with computers).
It is my opinion (from the first two sentences in the quoted passage) that this was the intent of the authors, but they skipped the very important sub-sampling step.
“But, if you disagree, then by all means go hunting for more UE candidates that have published highly cited papers. Good luck….”
There is no single “credo” of global warming of which you are must be either convinced or unconvinced. Rather there is a continuum of observations, predictions, projections, explanations, evidence, etc. It seems reasonable that within the climate science community there must be a range of views from “superconvinced” to “completely unconvinced”. Defining the two groups as the authors did based on the expression of an opinion of various individuals with respect to the setting of policy seems specious with regard to scientific credibility.
However, given their definition, it is not at all surprising that the numbers in the CE group as defined for the paper should be considerably larger than those in the UE group. Over the roughly 35 year period of the AGW movement, there has been a concerted effort to stifle contrary opinions and public debate on the issues (the science is settled, consensus exists) and to vilify anyone who may disagree with any portion of the “evidence” (demeaning names, “deniers”, mental illness of denial conferences, throw skeptics in jail, shills for big oil, flat earthers… including the paper currently under discussion).
Within the insular environment created by this consensus building, it is very unlikely that students in climate science will buck the system. Doing so would make it difficult to get research money and build a career. Only someone who has been in the system longer and is more established can afford to publicly go on record that certain public courses of action are not suitable given their personal view of state of current climate knowledge. So finding more UE’s is not so easy in today’s universities. Notice that in the paper, the authors state that UE individuals tend to be older than CE’s, a fact which is consistent with the above observation.
How does this affect the data in the paper? More individuals in the CE population means more papers written in “official” climate journals means more citations for the earlier works of that group and for their peers. Some of the papers by highly visible scientists will end up with an inordinate number of cites. Do these cites indicate high quality work? In some cases, yes – there are some very capable individuals doing climate science. However one should not confuse the number of citations as incontrovertible evidence of that.
2) If they’re not “research subjects”, then you’re saying this wasn’t an exercise in social science, which I don’t think you’re saying.
3) As the guidelines point out, rules of confidentiality do in fact apply, even to information gleaned from the public domain or other public records. If you or the authors think this is unreasonable, feel free to take it up with the ASA.
4) But ok, let’s concede for a minute what you say: that they’re not “research subjects” whose identities deserve protection, because they’ve willingly made statements in the public domain. OK, then why didn’t the authors just publish the names? Why did they find it necessary to explain, as they do above, “No names were used in our study nor listed in any attachments. We were very aware of the pressure that would be on us to provide the raw data used in our study. In fact, many journalists we spoke with beforehand asked for the list of names and for specific names, which we did not provide. We decided to compromise by posting only the links to the source documents – the ‘raw data’ in effect (the broader website is not the paper data), where interested parties can examine the publically available statements and petitions themselves.”
If there’s no issue with privacy, why didn’t they give the names to journalists? Maybe we could say they’re going above and beyond the call by not including the names in the study, but then their “compromise” (i.e. providing the links) is no compromise at all! They might as well have published the names in the study proper, for all the good their compromise has done them.
Nor does their “damned if you do share data, damned if you don’t” explanation a valid defense. Nothing in the ASA guidelines prevents them from providing their raw data to relevant professionals and scientists (not journalists, ofc). Just dumping their raw data for all to see doesn’t cut it. That’s acceptable if you’re studying ice cores and tree rings – not people.
As you can see, I’m having a hard time lining up the authors’ stated intentions with their actions – and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
[Response: Well, on #3, nothing was confidential, so no confidentiality rules apply. This point is really very simple. For instance, a google search will quickly reveal that Lindzen signed a number of these letters, and that his CV and publication lists are also online, so someone looking to judge his credibility will be very impressed. The same information is available for me (though whether you are equally impressed is of course unpredictable), or for any of the other signers of any other open letter. As for why the authors didn't want to focus on specific names in interviews, you will have to ask them, but I think it's very likely to have been precisely for the reason that they wanted to make a more general point, rather than just personalising it to a few key names. It isn't the point the Lindzen has a more impressive publication list than me, but rather that the number of people who keep saying that there is no problem are vastly less qualified on average than the people who are saying there is a problem. This is so obvious that no formal study should be needed at all. The Cato letter even had someone from the Reich's Orgone Research institute for instance.That was really scraping the bottom of the barrel... ;) - gavin]
Everyone, please forgive my lack of civility here, but I find it entertaining, almost side splitting, that Tom Fuller is so vehemently and determinedly championing the rights to privacy of a small group of noble scientists… when he’s published a book using stolen, private e-mails to publicly castigate a small group of noble scientists.
Please be informed that an article needs to crab its audience in the first few lines. If it doesn’t it won’t get read. I offered my feedback in good faith. Please receive it as such.
We all get what you said. A large number of people have explained the flaw in your reasoning. You’ve chosen in numerous posts to do nothing more than repeat your original point, without elaboration, like a child with his fingers in his ears refusing to listen to something he doesn’t want to hear.
I have of late been greatly offended by the constant misuse of the word “troll” to mean “anyone that doesn’t agree with us (i.e. the core fan club of the blog in question) and dares to post their unpopular opinions.”
This is wrong. People are allowed to disagree, and are not required to acquiesce, and are allowed to post for as long as they maintain and advance an intelligent dialogue.
The reality is that a true troll ignores all responses and simply pounds out what he wants to say without listening, often repeating the same thing over and over, to the point of damaging the entire thread.
You have now, in my book, officially crossed the line into true troll territory because you keep harping on something that dozens of reasonable people have explained to you, while more importantly you keep dodging the point.
You must read the entire article, even if you don’t like two words in one sentence.
You are not eligible to comment unless you read the entire article.
You cannot claim to be a skeptic if you refuse to read something.
You cannot claim to be educated if you refuse to read something.
You will not be accepted (at least here) as intelligent if you refuse to read something.
You are a troll if you constantly repeat the same point over and over without adding any substance to your remarks.
2)this is not research on people, which is what HRE is all about. It’s about the work that individuals have chosen to make public, and have chosen to publicly identify themselves with. Appealing to research ethics to critique this is a profound misapplication of those ethical principles.
3) how can confidentiality possible apply in cases of voluntary and deliberate public disclosure. I mean, that is the whole point of public petition – ‘hey, here I am, look at me!’
4) And now they do apply confidentiality, appropriately so, and you criticise that too!!
Having now seen the ‘sceptics’ stray into my field I have even more sympathy for climate scientists – the ability of instant internet experts to misinterpret, misunderstand and misapply is quite something.
On the questions about methods raised by RomanN in #64 and #118, I’ve emailed our first author, Bill Anderegg, who did the statistical analysis. He’s the right person to address those comments.
I had my email address on my website until the day the paper came out, at which time I started receiving a huge flood of negative and even hostile emails (though very little of any substance on the issue). This came at a time when I was leaving on holiday and needed to keep my work email address from overflowing and being shut down for exceeding its quota.
Fortunately, the wave of hostile emails came and went, and now that I’m back from vacation I’m mostly caught up on work-related correspondence. I can put my email address back on my climate website again for feedback.
I understand completely, and it’s one of the reasons I maintain anonymity on the Internet and use a separate yahoo account for such things (that, and the fact that my teenage daughter would be utterly mortified if her friends could see what her father actually says in public, where *gasp* other people can read it… as soon as she’s old enough, the anonymity can drop away).
But, a suggestion: If you open a thread for it on your blog, people can post corrections there as comments (which you can then read and reply to to confirm it was handled, while simply deleting the original comment… if only so the denial camp can’t “do a study counting the number of errors a climate scientist actually made on what amounts to a hobby page.”).
This way, you wouldn’t have to open your e-mail up to unsavory and unwanted intrusions.
OK, Gavin, if we want to start invoking the rules of logic; then the entire paper is an appeal to authority and popularity (let’s call it popular authority). Worthless.
#67 sorry that I don’t have the time to engage real time with you. I’m not a regular posting machine (maybe 2-5 a week), I just happen to be first and am just now getting back. I’m sorry if this upsets you, but it doesn’t make my opinion spam in my opinion. LOL.
#2 “Your assertion that climate scientists have “avoided critical review” is absolutely false. Indeed it is laughably false.”
Hmmm…..How many requests for data were ignored? Why would anyone even have to invoke freedom of information act to obtain scientific data? Every review of climate science has recommended better communication and more transparency. Do you just get your news from Gavin?
#4 “If almost all mechanics say it is true, you probably want to have the work done ASAP.”
Ok, got me there.
#14 and #16
I was making my own metaphor not using the metaphor from the article. I did indeed read and am reasonably confident that I understood the article, basically, an appeal to popular authority. Do I really need to remind everyone that MOST scientists scoffed at the idea of continents moving.
#18: Someone actually read the Wegman report beside me. Cool.
#21 Chris Colose: Very nice. It’s amazing to me that someone like myself who was pointing out GW 30 years ago and realizes that man can have an impact, but merely believes 1)it’s cheaper (more prudent) to adapt than mitigate and 2) the catastrophic capacity of AGW is over estimated; is labeled a “denier”, personally I like “skeptic” better. I am a skeptic, always been a skeptic, and will continue to be a skeptic. I remember a time when being a skeptic was a good thing among scientific circles, maybe those days will return, maybe not.
[Response: 'Skeptic' will become accepted as what it always was, when self-described skeptics start actually being skeptical. - gavin]
I only wish some of those who would dismantle our civilisation [sic]…
Okay, this is something that really, really bugs me. Can RC do a substantive post on this, on the economics behind mitigating climate change? I think it’s really important. If one knocks the “you can’t, it will destroy our way of life” support out of the denial argument, then all resistance to the science becomes moot.
While calling those that believe in the fact of climate change “alarmists,” the deniers bolster their position with actual but false alarmism about economics. To my knowledge, no one in their right mind wants to dismantle our civilization, or anything close, and no democracy or capitalist society would ever succeed in doing so, because the populations simply would not accept it, no matter how important it was or how much they believed the science.
This is a repeated denial exaggeration used to score points.
Further, to my knowledge, studies by economists put the expense at between 1% and 3% of GDP, while there are also clear benefits (such as the fact that one way or the other fossil fuels will run out, so it needs to be done eventually, not to mention the strategic advantages to be gained in not being beholden to the few countries sitting on a key resource that resides primarily in a few unfortunately politically unstable parts of the globe).
Can RC enlist a top economist to write a post on this?
I am sure that ROI and Tom Fuller would be here demanding that the authors open up the data and share information had they chosen to not include the names used in the study. Make information public, you lose. Make information private, you lose.
Unless you are Marc Morano, in which case you can make a list of 700 scientists based on what they said in letters to the editors or random talks, and that’s no problem. Or you are Inhofe, and you can make a literal black list of climate scientists for targeting with federal investigations under a laundry list of statutes. Heck, if Tom Fuller cared so much about confidentiality, why the heck is he a #$(*U#@$ author on a book whose purpose is to dig into people’s private emails and make sweeping generalizations based on out-of-context quotes? Why didn’t he follow his own guidelines that “The canons of research require, for very good reason, that you do not associate individuals with research outputs”? On the scales of ethics, Fuller’s book is orders of magnitude worse than any imagined ethical issues involved in this study.
For those who object to the statistical methods used in the study: redo it with your own statistical methods. I highly doubt that any reasonable approach will find anything except that the vast majority of scientists working in climate-related fields believe that human emissions of greenhouse gases lead to warming which may lead to harm, and that this majority are more likely to agree with the statements that the study’s authors highlighted as “CE” and disagree with the statements highlighted as “UE”.
Bob @ 121 “I find it entertaining, almost side splitting, that Tom Fuller is so vehemently and determinedly championing the rights to privacy of a small group of noble scientists… when he’s published a book using stolen, private e-mails to publicly castigate a small group of noble scientists.”
Iirc, Fuller gives himself a pass on this because “someone else” published those emails and names. He says he had a copy of the emails first, and agonized over releasing it, but once someone else had put it all in the public domain, he no longer saw any problem with publishing the emails and names in his book or on his blog.
Whatevah, Tom. Whatever.
Comment by rustneversleeps — 5 Aug 2010 @ 10:04 AM
[edit - yes, but this is not what we want in the comments]
Can RC enlist a top economist to write a post on this?
Bob, that, or read the WG3 report. It’s not as if it hasn’t been studied and yes, your numbers are in the ball park. Comparable to what nations of the world have always been paying for military “security”, much of it a lot more uncertain, speculative even, than this.
I see what is going on here. The Anderegg et al. paper is important and the findings troublesome/inconvenient for the ‘skeptics’/contrarians, so it has to be attacked. Just like MBH98 has been attacked ad nauseum (even to this day) by McIntyre et al.. The modus operandi of the ‘skeptics’ is to find an error (any error), probably an insignificant error, and then harp on it for the next 12-years, whilst loudly proclaiming on blogs that Anderegg et al. is “broken”. I’m afraid Anderegg et al. have committed themselves to many years of harassment by the CA crowd for their efforts.
Anyhow, on to some specifics. You say,
“One approach to correcting the imbalance could be to first place the two samples on the same size footing. How? By sub-sampling 500 observations randomly from the larger group first and then comparing the top fifty from each.”
And therein lies the rub, the UE group is simple too small to obtain a sufficiently large sample by applying that approach. No matter how you slice and dice it, they do not have enough publications (and no, not b/c of gate keeping as you might suggest). I’d be surprised if scientists who believe that tobacco does not cause cancer or side-effects of smoking are not serious to have published a comparable number of papers in the reputable literature compared to their colleagues who spend a great deal of time and effort trying to address a serious problem. Which group is advancing the science and improving peoples’ lives? Certainly not those who claim that there is nothing to worry about.
As a prof. once said “Zero plus zero is zero”. The small number of papers and citations in the UE group is simply not large enough to permit the approach that you suggest. But like I keep saying, instead of whining here, please do go and write up your supposed superior method and then publish it as a counter opinion in PNAS. No wonder the “skeptics” do not have many publications, they seem happy to spend to much time pontificating and whining. When Trenberth and Murphy had issues with the Lindzen and Choi paper they spent some time and effort researching, drafting, submitting, and amending their papers in repsonse to reviewers’ critique in which they addresses concerns. Same goes for Foster et al. and Halpern et al. That IS how science works and advances….not by someone whining on a blog.
As for your critique of the classes, please listen to what Prof. Schneider had to say about that.
” Over the roughly 35 year period of the AGW movement, there has been a concerted effort to stifle contrary opinions and public debate on the issues (the science is settled, consensus exists) and to vilify anyone who may disagree with any portion of the “evidence” (demeaning names, “deniers”, mental illness of denial conferences, throw skeptics in jail, shills for big oil, flat earthers…”
You have to be joking. After the antics of Inhofe, Cuccinelli, Monckton, Limbaugh, Beck, Maorano, and McIntyre (e.g., McIntyre’s references to “James Hansen and his disciples have a more jihadist approach”, or McIntyre’s reference to “crack cocaine”), do you really want to try and play the victim card? That is pathetic. Shall we discuss the repeated death threats received by Jones, Mann, Ben Santer, Weaver and other climate scientists? Contrary to your beliefs, the climate science behind AGW/ACC is not a “movement”; however, the organized attack on science by CA (which you are a big fan) and other self-proclaimed ‘skeptics’ is a movement. Big difference my friend, but thanks for letting your true colours and ideology show.
Lindzen, Spencer, Pielke Snr and Christy and other “skeptics” have a fine publication record, so stop trying to suggest that they have been prevented from doing so RomanM. Now you are just being an amplifier for the denial movement by parroting their misinformation. Just who are you? I would like to look up your citations as suggested by you friend Mosh.
And a final illuminating comment from you:
“Do these cites indicate high quality work? In some cases, yes – there are some very capable individuals doing climate science. However one should not confuse the number of citations as incontrovertible evidence of that.”
Please do stop pontificating. If an author/scientists manages to get inferior work published it will not get cited. It may get some brief attention, such as the recent kerfuffel surrounding Lindzen and Choi or G&T, but that is usually where the citations cease, or drop off rapidly. Note, the Anderegg database does not account for those papers which have been published and since refuted– I would exclude those form the database, that would put the “skeptics” in a pickle . Of course, even eminent climate scientists lapse some times, but over the span of their careers the H-index or similar citation indices are a very good metric for quantifying the scientists’ impact in the field and their contributions. Note, the same may not be true in medical labs, where one is typically included as a co-author on any paper published by any one of your colleagues working in the lab. So with that all said, please do tell us which of the CE scientists with a high citation count do not typically produce high quality work.
Now get to work on that paper, hope the results are to your liking :)
“Being public is not the same as being labeled as a climate denier by an IT administrator and a grad student doing what they call ‘research.’”
Can you point out in the paper where anyone is being labelled a “climate denier”? Thanks. And if you have a problem with the PNAS study, you can always seek to publish a rebuttal.
Also, as I understand it, you don’t have a college degree at all. Thus, it seems odd that you’re focusing on credentials. But your lack of qualifications shouldn’t inhibit you from publishing if you have a good argument.
And stating the obvious here, if skeptics (or anyone) don’t want their opinions on climate science to become public, don’t sign public statements. It’s that simple. From my observations, though, skeptics are proud of their stance on climate science and eager to speak out publicly.
John W. says, “OK, Gavin, if we want to start invoking the rules of logic; then the entire paper is an appeal to authority and popularity…”
Wrong. It is not an appeal to authority, but rather a matter of productivity. If the views of the “unconvinced” sector prevent them from advancing the state of knowledge about the climate, that suggests nature is telling us that view is wrong–that is, unproductive. Nature tells us we are on the right track by allowing us to better understand what we are studying. If your prejudices prevent you from understanding, then you had better examine and modify your preconceptions.
Just look at
1)the proportion of actively publishing climate scientists who are convinced that anthropogenic causation is an inevitable consequence of the consensus model of climate change
2)look at the relative publication numbers between the convinced and the unconvinced.
I would have thought that it would be intuitively clear that a “research subject” is usually someone with whom the researcher actually interacts. Apparently not, from the thread so far.
Perhaps this will clarify:
In biostatistics or psychological statistics, a research subject is any object or phenomenon that is observed for purposes of research. In survey research and opinion polling, the subject is often called a respondent. In the United States Federal Guidelines a human subject is a living individual about whom an investigator conducting research obtains 1) Data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or 2) Identifiable private information (32 CFR 219.102.f). (Lim,1990)
By this guideline, the researchers studied in Prall et al. are clearly not “subjects,” for the reason Gavin has already given several times: the information used was already public.
I’m tempted to editorialize here, but will refrain.
All these people invoking the ghost of Wegener would do well to remember that climate change was not widely accepted until recently. Like all real science, it gained acceptance when the evidence began to mount up, both from observations and more refined theories.
But Wegener is not a valid argument – just the old “appeal to Galileo” updated a little.
“I must be right because everyone says I’m wrong” is the most asinine argument ever put forward, and consequently I feel I have to quote The Crackpot Index:
40 points for claiming that the “scientific establishment” is engaged in a “conspiracy” to prevent your work from gaining its well-deserved fame, or suchlike.
40 points for comparing yourself to Galileo, suggesting that a modern-day Inquisition is hard at work on your case, and so on.
“You’ve chosen in numerous posts to do nothing more than repeat your original point, without elaboration, like a child with his fingers in his ears refusing to listen to something he doesn’t want to hear.”
Numerous? – I have replied twice to specific questions and elaborated my answers. Please go back and check. Take them or leave them. They are my opinions.
[edit - no tit for tat name-calling. Goes for Bob and others too. Stay substantive people.]
This type of paper and continued focus on it are part of the problem, not part of any solution. It is a clear indicator that tribalism, bunker mentality, and “peer” pressure are big factors in climate science. God forbid, you wouldn’t want to be judged as part of the laughable “3% club”, would you? Then you better agree to the basic tenets in full, now raise your right hand…
How can one claim the science is open when this paper is deemed important proof of something somehow?
It is a misrepresentation of the real problem from my point of view.
Agreeing that CO2 warms the atmosphere, and that humans emit a lot of CO2 is not very controversial. Here are a couple questions more relevant, which don’t seem to be covered in these type of polls:
1. Do you believe it been proven to a “very likely” degree that humans are the primary cause for the global warming observed in the last 30 years? (not just some warming, or that CO2 causes some warming, or that some warming has occurred, or that the IPCC says something)
2. Do you believe it has been proven that global climate models are “likely” or “very likely” to be accurate in their predictions that CO2 will generate accelerated warming that may be catastrophic (i.e. large positive CO2 forcings)?
#2 is the one that really matters. It could be rephrased to be more technically correct. The hidden diversionary tactic at play here is that if one believes humans cause some warming, one must then believe that immediate large scale policy action is required, and that is simply not true.
The degree and probability are huge factors, and that uncertainty is what is crippling now, not a perceived army of misinformed deniers. One certainty is that people who peddle in a certain proven oncoming catastrophe (and those who turn a blind eye to them) make easy targets for climate skeptics.
Aircraft are not allowed to take off unless their maintenance/repair paperwork is current and in order. &;>)
Fortunately, the expertise and judgment of trained, tested, and licensed mechanics also is considered in the decision to fly. The legally required M/R and associated documentation is regularly updated by FAA issued Airworthiness Directives, often “prompted by reports” from expert mechanics whose judgment led them to speak up about conditions they considered unsafe. http://www.google.com/#hl=en&source=hp&q=prompted+by+reports+site%3Afaa.gov gets “About 1,490 results”
One reason commercial aviation is safe is that the FAA doesn’t wait to see how good or bad statistically various procedures are, but instead applies expert judgment and the precautionary principle to proactively prevent problems. Unlike those who argue that climate science is so uncertain that we should delay action.
Another reason commercial aviation is safe, and safer than private aviation, is that the (legally required, regularly tested) level of expertise and judgment for pilots and mechanics is high. Like physicians, but unlike politicians with journalism degrees who doubt man is responsible, or doubt that the consequences will be costly, or doubt that the scientific experts actually know their fields, or doubt that the “warmists” concerns are based on facts rather than political opinion.
recaptcha: swami materialism – Is their a special RC database of words to use and AI to make the phrase topical?
Tom Scharf wrote: “Do you believe it has been proven that global climate models are ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to be accurate in their predictions that CO2 will generate accelerated warming that may be catastrophic”
CO2 has already generated accelerated warming that may be catastrophic.
Tom Scharf says, “God forbid, you wouldn’t want to be judged as part of the laughable “3% club”, would you?”
Well, that wold depend on whether the 3% were right or the 97% were right, wouldn’t it? I mean what matters, ultimately, is understanding Earth’s climate, right?
You state that it is not controversial that CO2 warms the atmosphere or that humans are responsible for the increased CO2 in the atmosphere. Great, could you maybe work on some of the guys on your side of the argument on that fact. I think Roy Spencer could use some help.
Are you willing to go a step further and acknowledge the very compelling evidence that constrains CO2 sensitivity to be between 2.1 and 4.5 degrees per doubling? If not, than why? After all, how likely do you think it is to get a dozen or so independent lines of evidence all lining up and pointing to a WRONG answer?
On the other hand, if we agree on the favored value of 3 degrees per doubling, then we could easily see 10 degrees of warming this century. Do you not think that this would be a problem? On what basis? Most research on agricultural, climate, health and economic effects of such a rise would strongly disagree with you. Even by 2050, we will have seen 3 or more degrees of warming–and here, too, the peer-reviewed research indicates some severe consequences–drought, more extreme weather, crop failures, more dead spots in the oceans, less phytoplankton…and all as our human population crests at about 10 billion people. You don’t see a threat here?
Of course the proper way to handle any such threat is with probabilistic risk assessment. But the problem is that as yet we cannot bound the risk due to climate change. Until we can do that, PRA counsels risk avoidance. And THAT, Tom, is why action is needed.
Tom Scharf: Do you really imagine that these questions haven’t been asked? They have.
2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?
In our survey, the most specialized and knowledgeable respondents (with regard to climate change) are those who listed climate science as their area of expertise and who also have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change (79 individuals in total). Of these special-ists, 96.2% (76 of 79) answered “risen” to question 1 and 97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes to question 2.
Doran PT, Zimmerman MK (2009)
As for your second question – who do you think is qualified to judge the output of a climate model?
Apologies, you are right. I got lost in the large number of people posting replies to you. You had one original post (10), then restated that position 3 times (25, 65, 104), usually to multiple people at once (so do those count as one post each? if so, you total 11 there), and then one more post saying your posts on your position were not numerous (141), yet still not moving the discussion forward.
So your post total is 5, or 13, all to establish that you think that the use of airline mechanics was an inappropriate metaphor, so inappropriate that you can’t bring yourself to read the content of the original post.
In the meantime, have you gone back and actually read the article, so that you can contribute to the discussion of what it actually says?
I will drop this at this point because it is way beyond unproductive, and better qualified minds (“experts?”) are contributing more to the substance of the article than I ever could. It’s better in this case for me to read and learn than to write and be a distraction.
JW 129: Why would anyone even have to invoke freedom of information act to obtain scientific data?
BPL: Short answer: They didn’t.
Long answer: 95% of CRU’s data was already in the public domain. The other 5% was proprietary data of the various national met services, and CRU COULD NOT LEGALLY RELEASE IT. McIntyre got his blog posts to spam CRU with 48 FOI requests over one weekend, when it takes 18 hours to comply with one such request and there are only three people (that’s right, three people!) in CRU.
In short, McIntyre is an antiscience activist, Phil Jones didn’t do anything wrong, and anyone who missed the fact that three investigations have cleared Phil Jones and the CRU isn’t paying attention.
TS 142: 1. Do you believe it been proven to a “very likely” degree that humans are the primary cause for the global warming observed in the last 30 years? (not just some warming, or that CO2 causes some warming, or that some warming has occurred, or that the IPCC says something)
BPL: Hell, yes. Don’t you? If not, why not? Want to see the numbers?
TS: 2. Do you believe it has been proven that global climate models are “likely” or “very likely” to be accurate in their predictions that CO2 will generate accelerated warming that may be catastrophic (i.e. large positive CO2 forcings)?
BPL: See above.
TS: #2 is the one that really matters. It could be rephrased to be more technically correct. The hidden diversionary tactic at play here is that if one believes humans cause some warming, one must then believe that immediate large scale policy action is required, and that is simply not true.
BPL: Except that, as a matter of fact, immediate large scale policy action IS required. My own belief is that if we don’t massively switch from fossil fuels to renewables in the next 5 to 10 years, it will be too goddam late.
from Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster … http://mw4.m-w.com/dictionary/
authority – … from Latin auctoritat-, auctoritas opinion, decision, power; synonyms – see influence, power
expert – having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience; synonyms – see proficient
You kind of support my point. It’s the “process” that people “trust”. Experts are “respected” in their fields and have “opinions” and make “judgments” which feed the “process”. If the process is questionable people will not trust the opinion and judgment of experts. It may seem a nit but IMO a very big one.
2. Do you believe it has been proven that global climate models are “likely” or “very likely” to be accurate in their predictions that CO2 will generate accelerated warming that may be catastrophic (i.e. large positive CO2 forcings)?
Depends on your definition of “proof” of course, but there are some hints. See here:
Just two graphs, sure, but they’re only a small part of a large litany. Looks to me that if there are problems with accuracy they are mostly confined to underestimation. Temperature observations vs. model outputs show an opposite bias but that’s quite consistent with model underestimations of ocean expansion as seen by observation.
“Proven?” No. Evidence strongly suggests? Yes. “Catastrophic?” Depends on your perspective.
As for your proposed method, the final sample sizes would probably be too small to be meaningful, but feel free to try it and compare the results.
#136 Maple Leaf
And therein lies the rub, the UE group is simple too small to obtain a sufficiently large sample by applying that approach.
I thought I explained it pretty well, but I must be slipping.
Let me spell it out for this case. Take a random sample of size 472 from the CE group. Take ALL 472 as the sample from the UE group. Select the top 50 from each of these two “subsamples” and do the same comparison as was done in the paper. You still end up comparing 50 subjects to 50 subjects. This procedure can be repeated multiple times to overcome the effects of the random selection. Where does the “too small a sample“ come into play?
I see what is going on here. The Anderegg et al. paper is important and the findings troublesome/inconvenient for the ’skeptics’/contrarians, so it has to be attacked.
No, I don’t think that this paper is particularly important nor the ‘findings” inconvenient, but I do find them troublesome from the viewpoint of ethics and professionally. [edit - no sideswipes, stick to the point]
From a scientific viewpoint, it is not very solid. The groups were chosen in a poorly defined manner, the methods for gathering data were haphazard, the measures of “credibility is not particularly robust and the statistical analysis has already been discussed here. I still have not seen a credible answer to the question:
Was this paper peer reviewed?
It is my understanding that papers can be submitted PNAS by members without such a review so I would think that given the author’s desire for discussion to take place in peer-reviewed literature, this is a legitimate question.
It is interesting to apply the paper’s measures of “credibility” to the authors themselves:
Publication and citation analyses are not perfect indicators of researcher credibility, but they have been widely used in the natural sciences for comparing research productivity, quality, and prominence (21–24). Furthermore, these methods tend to correlate highly with other estimates of research quality, expertise, and prominence (21–26).
The first three authors do not have a particularly large numbers of publications or citations (not surprising for Mr. Anderegg since he is just beginning his career). Although Prof. Schneider was prolific in the climate science area, I do not believe that he has published much in the area of evaluation of professional expertise ( Recall that the paper considered ONLY publications related to climate regardless of the other expertise of the individual). So using their criteria, the “research quality, expertise, and prominence of the authors” with regard to this a publication on this particular subject must be low.
I generally put much stock in the metrics in the quote from the paper, but it appears that some of the posters here do.
Yes, airline flying has become very safe, but I would say that the history of commercial aviation is a tale not of “expert judgment and the precautionary principle to proactively prevent problems” but of belated response to a succession of unanticipated disasters. Today’s safety is the product of an unavoidable catalogue of tragedy.
What actually happens in real life is the great teacher. While climatology tries to alert the world to the possibility of planetary tragedy, we find that its development as a science is necessarily strait-jacketed because the essential experience of learning from mistakes cannot apply. We may be on a steep learning curve but we lack the real-life feedbacks which are necessary if increasing knowledge is to have utility.
“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts” – Richard Feynman
I’ve seen this quote so often of late, used as a way to disparage the idea that any scientists are to be trusted, that I was finally motivated to do what any skeptic must do, to go to the source, and read the quote for myself, in its proper context, rather than in isolation, and also dropped into another context where perhaps it does not belong.
I was delighted to find an imaginative and insightful lecture behind the quote, and one aimed at two subjects that are important to me, science, and teaching. I was more than a little perturbed at the way that Feynman described women, and while one could say “it was 1966,” it’s never-the-less appalling and reminds me how unsettling and unfair our society had been (which relates directly to his own statements about science, but applied to an ever maturing society).
But the important thing was the context. Context. Feynman was talking to teachers, about the teaching of science. He was emphasizing to the teachers the importance of teaching the method, but not as a rote recipe to be applied without thought or understanding. He was emphasizing the core approach that a well trained scientist must undertake. And he was emphasizing the importance of being a true skeptic, of keeping an open mind, and learning from the ongoing science and the observations and the experiment itself, rather than from past proclamations and the rote recipe for science.
He also said:
It is necessary to teach both to accept and to reject the past with a kind of balance that takes considerable skill.
Considerable skill. Not blind dismissal of scientists. With skill. Considerable skill.
And he said:
It should not be “science has shown” but “this experiment, this effect, has shown.” And you have as much right as anyone else, upon hearing about the experiments–but be patient and listen to all the evidence–to judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at.
Be patient and listen.
And he said:
Each generation that discovers something from its experience must pass that on, but it must pass that on with a delicate balance of respect and disrespect, so that the [human] race–now that it is aware of the disease to which it is liable–does not inflict its errors too rigidly on its youth, but it does pass on the accumulated wisdom, plus the wisdom that it may not be wisdom.
Balance. Respect and disrespect.
This all seems very, very applicable to the question at hand, to the roles of varying scientists and experiments and opinions in a new and important question. To me, it adds even more emphasis to the post here, that years of past and recent research and ideas and experiments are what matter, and that the body of evidence which falls in line with the larger body of active scientists, properly trained and executing their discipline, are what matter… and that the working scientists are in fact always the true “skeptics” in this whole mess.
But most importantly, the original quote, that “science is the belief in the ignorance of experts,” does not in any way say what it implies when taken out of context, that one should never trust science, or the experts, the scientists. That is, in fact, not in contradiction but rather orthogonal to Feynman’s intent.
Trust and distrust. Pick and choose. Find a way to find the truth. That was his message. Train good scientists, by teaching the proper method, which begins with doubt, and ends with a better (if imperfect) understanding.
It’s also the point of the original post here, that there is a body of varied and cumulative evidence, uncovered and presented by a body of scientists, which together greatly outweighs an opposing and stagnant idea that the human race cannot impact climate. How you choose to use the information, with considerable skill or blind expectation, with respect or disrespect, is up to you, but following the rote recipe of distrusting the experts is no more correct than blind trust of one expert, or another with an opposing position.
Oh, and my apologies if this became rather long winded.
This is getting awfully tiresome. Sounds like you want to apply bootstrapping or MonteCarlo techniques. Sure, give it a try and publish! Nobody is claiming this paper, or any paper for that matter, is perfect.
As for you asking “Was this paper peer reviewed?”
You have clearly not read the post above where they state:
“In our study we were subjected to two rounds of reviews by three social scientists and in addition comments from the PNAS Board, causing us to prepare three drafts in response to those valuable peer comments that greatly improved the paper.”
You say, “No, I don’t think that this paper is particularly important nor the ‘findings” inconvenient,”
Uh, huh. Your presence here (with that of Fuller and Mosh) and fuss by the ‘skeptics’ and those in denial about AGW clearly and loudly states otherwise.
You say, “The groups were chosen in a poorly defined manner, the methods for gathering data were haphazard, the measures of “credibility is not particularly robust “
More unsubstantiated accusations. Accusations and critique that Schneider addressed, and which have been addressed here– and it is obvious that you have not been reading the relevant text. Keeping on repeating the allegations does not make them true RomanN.
And, who are you again? Your friend Mosh suggested that we look up your citations, please provide us with the information to do so. Thanks.
RomanM: Treating the two groups as equal creates its own bias. While valuable enough in its own right, this doesn’t make the authors’ treatment wrong. When examining the extreme values in two groups, balancing the groups defeats the purpose, since it omits some of the highest values. But as we have already established, you disagree about the purpose. What I am saying is let’s look at both perspectives instead of bashing pointlessly away at the one you don’t like. And no, I’m not going to do the analysis myself, since I found the paper more than made its point, and nitpicking over a detail like this adds nothing of real value.
What I like about the paper’s approach is that it makes the “highest-expertise” group independent of whatever methods were used to select the rest of the scientists. You can, for example, reduce the publishing cut-off without affecting the result. Likewise, deriving the list in a completely different manner would produce substantially the same result.
Your comments about peer review once again indicate that if you did read the entire article at the top of this page, then you failed to pay sufficient attention.
I look forward to reading your own article on the subject once you get it past peer review – but as MapleLeaf so eloquently asks: “Who are you?” – wouldn’t want to overlook your contribution on this subject when it arrives.
I didn’t bring up the sub-sampling. The authors claimed they had done that and then you threw it at me as some sort of challenge. I told you one way it could be done, but you brought up an arcane “small sample” remark which indicated that you missed the point. Rather than take a personally aggressive and confrontational stance (such as the one in your latest comment), I politely explained it again.
I gave a reason for why I thought that the paper should not have been published on ethical grounds but the moderator chose to remove as is his right. Further explanation is not warranted here.
“And, who are you again?” This coming from a person whose first name is Maple? I have been identified a number of times on other blogs, but I choose not use my full name generally because frankly I don’t trust some of the individuals on the internet who might decide to abuse my privacy. Threats were issued a while back from greenpeace and although officially withdrawn later, it remains a worry. The existence of the paper in question indicates that someone else may decide to create another list and I don’t wish at this point in time to be on it.
BPL wrote: “My own belief is that if we don’t massively switch from fossil fuels to renewables in the next 5 to 10 years, it will be too goddam late.”
I believe that the legitimate scientific “debate” about AGW is about whether you are right, or whether in fact it is already too late to avoid truly catastrophic consequences not only to the human species but to the entire biosphere, even if we ended all anthropogenic GHG emissions tomorrow.
And that debate is NEVER discussed in the mainstream media, which persists even now in promoting the manufactured, phony “debate” about whether AGW is “real”. And it seems to me that climate scientists themselves are reluctant to discuss it in public.
I certainly hope that you are right, but my sense is that the preponderance of the evidence strongly suggests that it is already too late.
You seem easily offended by my terse tone…think about it though, is it any wonder that I and others have little patience for people who are happy to critique but who are unwilling to make the effort to follow through and advance the science? You seem to think that you could do better or improve upon the paper, so yet again I invite your to do what any credible scientist would do and follow through and publish.
You say, “but I choose not use my full name generally because frankly I don’t trust some of the individuals on the internet who might decide to abuse my privacy”
Fair enough, same reason here. As I have explained to you already, the only reason I pushed you on providing your name is b/c Mosh told us to look up your citations. How can I do that? If I were you I would have a word with Mosh– he put you in this position.
“The existence of the paper in question indicates that someone else may decide to create another list and I don’t wish at this point in time to be on it.”
Now you sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist.
As for your reference to GreenPeace making threats–well, let us not generalize, the offending comment was from a blog post. Anyhow, the text in question was stupid and uncalled for, but I do not think you have reason for concern for your safety, not in the same way that Mann, Jones or Santer do. Please take come time to read this, maybe it will put your mind at ease:
Funny how Inhofe, Limbaugh, Beck and Morano have not made apologies for their inflammatory rhetoric. I hope that you have an issue with their lack of ethics? I may have an opportunity to go into climate science field in the near future, but as for now I am not doing so. Not because of paranoia, but because of the very real threats made against climate scientists. Contrast that with your motivation to remain anonymous–misinterpretation of a paper and a bungled blog post on civil disobedience.
Was it wise to invade [the OT place] because it was believed they had [OT] Weapons?
You see, mitigating AGW is stopping doing something bad (emitting excessive GHGs), while invading another country’s sovereign territory is doing something aggregious. And it set precedence for others to invade us for the same reason (don’t we also have OT Weapons?), or for perhaps for other reasons in which we are a serious threat to planet earth.
And does your “BEST OF ALL WORLDS scenario” include carpeting the landscape with wind turbines?
Well, I suppose one could climb up a ladder upside down and backwards.
But here’s a better idea, become as energy/resource efficient/conservative as possible without lowering productivity or living standards (which some suggest can be done by 75% or more reduction in energy demands — see http://www.natcap.org ), then see how much alt energy we need. Not as much as you imagine. And don’t forget solar, which is rapidly becoming more feasible/cost-effective. And micro-hydro, and sensible bio-fuels — you know, the ones that don’t involve more GHGs and toxic pollution than petroleum.
Further to an item I mentioned earlier w/regard to Jame Annan’s analysis of how model ensembles are presented to the general public, I suspect this matter will become the new hobbyhorse of contrarians. Might it be worth getting ahead of inevitable empty rhetoric with some remarks from a scientific perspective?
…think about it though, is it any wonder that I and others have little patience for people who are happy to critique but who are unwilling to make the effort to follow through and advance the science? You seem to think that you could do better or improve upon the paper, so yet again I invite your to do what any credible scientist would do and follow through and publish.
It may interest you to know that I have spent forty years in a professional capacity “critiquing” and tearing apart research projects, theses and papers before they were written or published for the pure purpose of advancing the science in a university environment in many distinct disciplines. The reason was if the mistakes were corrected and I could find nothing wrong, the research was on a pretty solid footing. At the time, one generally got a thank you in the result but no name on the paper as seems to be more common today.
Why would I publish anything on this topic? In my area, we don’t publish simple things of this sort, and for me to go through the exercise of collecting the data and re-doing something that I find unethical seems something not even a “credible” scientist would do. I would hope that if Mr. Anderegg decides that what I drew attention to was incorrectly done, he would at least learn that statistical analysis is important enough to consult a good statistician next time. To me, this is advancing the science.
Funny how Inhofe, Limbaugh, Beck and Morano have not made apologies for their inflammatory rhetoric. I hope that you have an issue with their lack of ethics? I may have an opportunity to go into climate science field in the near future, but as for now I am not doing so. Not because of paranoia, but because of the very real threats made against climate scientists.
I do not countenance ANY inflammatory rhetoric or violence on either side although I must admit I am more concerned with the ones that are aimed in my direction. Let’s leave the causes and blame for another discussion.
I would suggest that you are over-reacting to the threat in your personal situation. Do what you think you should.
It depends on the expertise and the solidity of its foundations as well as the underlying skills of the individual expert. For all their limitations, experts are usually the best people to tell you what is going on within their expertise. For the strengths , weaknesses and purpose of climate models go to a discussion by a climate modeler, not to a review by an economist like Lomborg.
You may not always agree with Karl Popper but he did set up some lofty ideals*. One of these was that .. if you wish to challenge a theory you should first understand it, then present it in the best possible light and only then point to its shortcomings. The problem for non experts is that they are often incapabable of doing this , or perhaps unwilling. The result is that contrarianism so often starts with a misrepresentation or misunderstanding of what it is trying to contradict.
For numerous examples read RC.
For examples of expertise, resting on weak foundations, look around in forensic science. David MacKay (yes you may have heard of him; see Wikipedia) and Ray Hill have discussed a case here:
Before anyone should quote this out of context, please note that this was an individual whose knowledge of pathology did not appear to extend to an expertise at determing guilt. Perhaps the court made a mistake in identifying the two kinds of expertise.
* Its not clear that he kept them himself.
Network science demostrates many other examples, at is, toher than the PNS paper being considered, of a giant connected component and sporatic outliers. The giant component is the main body of the subject at hand and the outliers are the largely ignored contrarians.
There are many algorithms which can be, and are, used — depending upon the purpose of the study. Some are mentioned in “The Giant Component: The GOlden Anniversary” by Joel Spencer, Notices of the American Mathematical Society, V. 57 #6 (June/July 2010), p. 720 ff.
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Bob (Sphaerica) — 5 August 2010 @ 3:07 PM gave a, typically, erudite response to Andy@149 (a drive by or hit and run troll) who quoted Feynman– “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” My much more crass response in the form of a question is– Will, do you believe that Feynman was an expert?
“We trust the aggregate knowledge of experts – what do 97% of oncologists think about this cancer treatment – more than that of any single expert.”
The problem with that kind of reasoning is that those oncologists have between them have been trained and then practiced on large numbers of patients with the affliction(s). Thus, they speak from direct EXPERIENCE of the development, progress and final consequence of the tumour.
Climatologists have partial experience of one planet (patient) which may or may not have a problem. The sanctimonius claim to experience by the climate science community is no more useful to real people than the claims by those who predicted doom as a result of Y2K, SARS, mad cow disease, H1N1 flu . . .
I am not sure what the intend of the authors was in writing this paper ? If their intent was to develop a method for policy makers to better decide on whether or not man has a role in the warming of the late 20th century then I don’t see the point since the more important issue is what the effect of that global warming would be on regional extreme weather events which really affect people’s lives. Here the concensus is not clear for example on the effect of AGW on hurricane intensity as discussed in the Realclimate blog for example. Should we compare the publication list of Kevin Trenberth to that of Chris Landsea ? What about the effect of AGW on storminess or the sensitivity of the models to CO2 doubling ? Should we list the publications of the research groups predicting a 1.5 degree Celsius increase to that of 4 degrees Celsius ? The study is tautological since they have picked the question of whether or not AGW exits. What convinced me of the role of man on global warming was what climatologists , such as those in Realclimate, were saying. I did not check their publication list to decide that AGW is real.
Climatologists have partial experience of one planet (patient) which may or may not have a problem. The sanctimonius claim to experience by the climate science community is no more useful to real people than the claims by those who predicted doom as a result of Y2K
The predictions of doom were countered by billions, if not trillions, of dollars to mitigate against it. It’s a great example of government and business (neither subject to the kind of anti-democratic anti-science crap climate science is subject to, since banks, etc, looked … understood the problem … and spent huge, huge, huge sums to fix it).
Tell the commercial IT people that Y2K was a “fraud”. Ha ha ha ha. You’d be schooled …
Aggressive countermeasures that work are typically help up by anti-science types as evidence that the threat was not real.
Personally, I’m in favor of getting rid of all the international government efforts to diminish the effects of infectious disease. Let billions die, just to show you how idiotically stupid you are!
(actually, I don’t really believe that for this world, only that there were a second one where people like you could ban vaccinations, antibiotics, etc, and live to enjoy your freedom).
mad cow disease
One could claim that efforts to save a few lives that cause a tiny increase in the cost of meat production is silly, of course.
Can we feed *you* the prion-infected beef, and will you pay market price, in order to firm up your ideological foundation?
I think you meant to say that “climate scientists have a….
Also, you may not realize it, but the inappropriate Y2K and SARS analogies are frequently by those in denial about AGW, so you trotting them out here does not do much to further your argument. Has it ever crossed your mind that the reason those particular issues were ultimately not a huge issue (they were definitely not a non-issue as some claim- SARS claimed 775 lives) is because governments took action? Now if you wish to find an earth-like planet where you can see how much of an issue SARS will be if left unchecked, then please go ahead. Until then, please do not continue to suggest that we continue with this very dangerous experiment with the very biosphere which supports us.
I trust and respect the science, research and recommendations made by reputable and highly experienced groups such as NOAA, NASA, NAS etc. But I realize that doing so is an issue for conspiracy theorists and/or those afflicted with Dunning-Kruger.
Why would I publish anything on this topic? In my area, we don’t publish simple things of this sort, and for me to go through the exercise of collecting the data and re-doing something that I find unethical seems something not even a “credible” scientist would do
This is funny … and it’s obvious.
Nothing to see here, RomanM won’t attack the paper professionally, choosing to snarkily proclaim victory while he knows full well that the vast majority of scientists even remotely involved in climate research do, indeed, understand that it’s warming because physics-based predictions of warming mean it must warm.
And it’s not like RomanM is bothering to respond to the criticisms of his supposed debunking. He’s reduced to saying \we don’t publish such trivial stuff in my field, therefore it’s not worth responding formally\.
While basking in Mosher’s \you gotta see this guy’s credentials!\ while refusing to identify who he is, so we can so bask …
RomanM, trash the paper all you want, the reality is that the paper actually bends over backwards to give credibility to the denialist side, and any reasonable evaluation would be far, far harsher than this paper.
You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t with the contrarians. As stated in the Anderegg paper:
“A vocal minority of researchers and other critics contest the conclusions of the mainstream scientific assessment, frequently citing large numbers of scientists whom they believe support their claims”
When contrarians are called on those claims, and the answer is not to their liking, they then cry conspiracy and make wild and fanciful accusations about ‘black lists’ or start nit picking about (probably) inconsequential details to fabricate the impression that the work is seriously flawed etc. Well, if that were the case, please do then explain why this independent study by Anderegg et al. corroborates the findings made by Oreskes (2004) and Doran and Zimmerman (2009) is lost on those whining here and elsewhere? Oh right, silly me, it is all part of a global conspiracy…..
# 162 The Earth and much biosphere will persist has it has in the past, albeit in a different form;it is the human race and some living organisms that cannot adapt to the change that is most threatened. Humans especially.
Take a random sample of size 472 from the CE group. Take ALL 472 as the sample from the UE group. Select the top 50 from each of these two “subsamples” and do the same comparison as was done in the paper. You still end up comparing 50 subjects to 50 subjects. This procedure can be repeated multiple times to overcome the effects of the random selection.
I must be missing something, but why would you want to do this when the Mann-Whitney U test was already done on the two full populations? What new, interesting information would this provide?
As for the test on the top-50 in each group, I understand the reason for its inclusion very differently. Perhaps the word “sub-sample” misleads, as this is — obviously! — not a random sampling of the full populations, or pretends to be.
It is like wanting to find out which is the best football nation. You do so by making the top national teams play against each other, not so much by fielding teams made up of average citizens of each nation (although that could also make sense under circumstances). Given the motivation of this paper — trying to answer the “whom do you call for advice” question — it is a relevant and legitimate result that so-recruited “team CE” is best by a large margin.
Pete50, Um actually, no. We have applied the exact same science to Venus and Mars and gotten good insight. Mars even has it’s own climate model. Moreover, we have 5 billion years of Earth’s history to look at. Just imagine how well your doctor could do in treating you if he/she had been working on you his/her whole life!
Ever wonder what else you don’t know about climate science? Maybe click on the “Start Here” button at the top left of the page and start finding out.
RM 167: Why would I publish anything on this topic? In my area, we don’t publish simple things of this sort, and for me to go through the exercise of collecting the data and re-doing something that I find unethical seems something not even a “credible” scientist would do.
no more useful to real people than the claims by those who predicted doom as a result of Y2K, SARS, mad cow disease, H1N1 flu . . .
You obviously consider yourself to be a more useful expert on these matters. So what advice would you have given?
Re: bse. The meat industry had already tried the experiment with small doses of infected meat and quite a few people in the UK died a horrible death. The incubation period can be very long, so the story is not over. I gather that you would have advocated a more advanced experiment with higher doses for all meat eaters. What is your estimate of the number of survivors?
You left out the asbestos scare. Similar story. Pseudo-experts providing false reassurance followed by casualties.
As for SARS , I suppose that you would have tried a piece of inactivist research on a highly infectious epidemic. Brilliant idea.
Last years flu’ was interesting. The people who died were young. A friend of mine plotted the rise of all reported cases. It appeared to be exponential until it suddenly ceased. Amazing. Flu’ is always mutating and one explanation is that it could have undergone one such mutation after which most of us caught it without developing symptoms.
As for climate, please suggest how a similar mutation might reduce the effects of carbon dioxide.
This discussion carries on as though it were about differences of opinion between different “experts”.
That’s not what is actually going on in the real world.
In the real world, on one side we have “experts” — climate scientists — who do indeed have differences of opinion. Some of the articles posted by the esteemed moderators of this site illuminate the areas where there are legitimate differences of opinion, areas of uncertainty, and even ignorance, within the field of climate scientist.
What we have on the other side of the public “debate” is not another group of “experts”. What we have is a group of cranks, frauds, liars, Madison Avenue propagandists, media personalities and other bought-and-paid-for corporate shills whose job it is to perpetuate the fossil fuel industry’s one billion dollars per day in profit for as long as possible, through deceit, denial and obstruction.
Climate scientists often don’t seem to understand that they are not participating in a normal process of scientific dialectic here — arguing in good faith with other scientists who, like them, are seeking to understand what is really going on, in a contest of testing their ideas against empirical observations of nature.
Rather, they are up against DELIBERATE, INTENTIONAL, KNOWING LIARS, who care nothing for science, who care nothing for “truth”, who are simply doing what they are paid to do — which is to deceive the public so as to delay as long as possible the urgently needed phase-out of fossil fuels.
(I don’t normally bother with ‘comment streams’ but having found reason to float down this one, I pour in a contirbution.)
I have great sympathy with the objections to the article’s supporting analogies (which in choice & application were pretty rubbish – less of the oncology, perhaps more ontology). The main thrust of the article, the idea of using head counts, citation counts, etc to define the robustness of a theory; I find this alarming whatever method is employed.
A few weeks ago a BBC TV programme (title?) argued that public scepticism of AGW was entirely different to scientific scepticism. It demonstrated that the public perception is more affected by pseudo-science than the genuine science. (More to do with “The Great Global Warming Swindle”, Climategate, WUWT, even laughable tabloid nonsense – I hear the present Russian heatwave is being blamed on US heat rays based in Alaska – I kid you not!)
The sceptical scientists featured by the BBC (one was from UAH) were shown as agreeing with their colleagues on all but the level of warming expected or attributed to GHGs.
This being so, would it not be possible for science to present a concensus of “the experts” and narrow the scientific debate in a way that would(I wish) prevent the village idiots piling in as they do at present?
Connecting GHGs to climate change, even connecting to some rough numerical change in average global temperatures, results in the IPCC saying “very likely” and “highly probable” – words which are the kiss of death to any message. Can they be avoided?
CO2 is above 390ppm for the first time in, what, 20 million years? It is cetainly far higher than ever on the known record that is now 800,000 years if not 2.1 million years long.
The global carbon cycle is understood enough to be sure that volcanoes emit far more CO2 than humans but because there are so many humans the rise in CO2 is solely down to mankind. Ditto some other GHGs and these changes in atmospheric composition are making a very significant* change to global climate mechanisms.
“Likely” & “probability” are avoided. Science can get on examining the effects of so much extra IR being trapped in the atmosphere and Jo Public can be told unequivocally that his emissions are messing with climatic mechanisms. And the village idiots, they can be identified by their crazy words. This is a serious business & crazy ideas do requirie labelling as “crazy” & the authors & publishers involved should be embarrassed by the exercise. Make them an entertainment. Make the process fun – Ask yourself, why does WUWT get so may visitors?
*What is so far missing is the simple model/calculation that was used to show that 2xCO2=+2oC. I assume the ones used in the 1950s would still show this “very significant” impact of our emissions.
#45 – I am an engineer. While you you say you don’t mean to be entirely disparaging to engineers (you say you are one yourself,), I wonder how disparaging your intention was.
Further to an item I mentioned earlier w/regard to Jame Annan’s analysis of how model ensembles are presented to the general public,
Annan and Hargreaves are getting around. Julia Hargreaves also has a paper examining (among other things)the 1988 Hansen model. Help from Annan, Schmidt, Mann, Foster, and Nieslsen-Gammon was acknowledged. Interesting revisit of the 1988 model from a different angle?
It seems to me that these types of efforts are what the “auditors” could be doing.
Multiple “fails”–notably, undefined terms (“those who predicted doom. . .”)
Who made the predictions? Doom to whom?–after all, quite a lot of people actually did die from SARS and H1N1, and some from mad cow. For them, “doom” was in fact the outcome. And Y2K problems were (largely) averted by dint of a lot of work and expense–a climate change analog for which hasn’t really been forthcoming yet.
But the biggest “fail” is the failure to recognize the crucial point, which is that there is a very large body of well-verified knowledge about how climate systems work–knowledge that gives very clear and specific reason to think that yes, Houston, we do indeed have a problem here. That is, returning to Pete50′s oncological metaphor, we may only have one “patient” to observe, but we’ve come to know quite a lot about the relevant “physiology”–and specifically, just why it is that that patient’s fever continues to rise toward dangerous levels.
Quasi-random comparisons to unrelated issues are mere obfuscation of this central fact.
RomanM: Your statistical arguments would carry more weight if you didn’t accompany them with conspiracy theories.
The authors of the paper made a choice, yet you continue to argue that they are wrong, rather than to argue that they made a poor choice, or that their choice was weak and undermined their conclusions.
You seem to be claiming that the authors intended to use your method, or should have done so to match exactly their description – but this is patently untrue. The wording is a little off, but there is no reason to suppose that they didn’t intend exactly what they did.
For completeness, it would have been nice if the authors had used your method in addition to their own. But the space constraints probably didn’t allow such luxuries.
And for all your nitpicking and indefensible complaints about “ethics”, you refuse to see any value in the conclusions. Your bias is showing.
I don’t know what it is that leads to elderly retired types becoming self-declared “sceptics”. You insinuate that it is because publishing scientists want to be published so write what they think editors want to see, but you know that is nonsense. A paper that actually changed the consensus view on climate – that would make a career. But no such paper has appeared. There are less charitable explanations for why elderly people don’t care about the future of the planet, but I don’t want to paint you with generalities. I believe it is true, however, that older people are sometimes more inflexible and intensely dislike change.
So, why don’t you go and prove your sceptical credentials by going and railing against some of the completely outrageous abuses of statistics perpetrated by the denier crowd? Can you put aside your bias?
RomanM: It’s a trivial issue, so ‘publish’ it on this blog – what happens when you compare the top 5% of each group? Do you have any evidence that they are from the same population? It’s your job to demonstrate, not argue without data, that the authors did it wrong. That’s science – reality trumps argument. If you prefer to argue, that’s not science.
Tom Fuller. As a psychologist myself, who has to go through the protection of human subjects/confidentiality/privacy routines, can I simply say – nonsense? If you are concerned about violating privacy, ask that the next time the Cato Institute, the Heartland Institute, etc, publishes a signed statement, that they make the list of signers confidential. And perhas Google Scholar can do the same. So far, I’m not aware of any consequences of a ‘blacklist’, and I’m sure you’d let us know if there have been any. Any investigations? I’m only aware of harassment of prominent members of the 97%, which goes against your thesis.
Given the lack of constructive demonstration that the findings are biased (I agree that they are flawed, and the flaws were reported in the paper itself), and the repetitious nature of the arguments against it, with no presentation that this would make a substantive difference, I think the main point has been demonstrated. The weight of expertise and demonstrated science is on the side of the overwhelming majority.
“The sanctimonius claim to experience by the climate science community is no more useful to real people than the claims by those who predicted doom as a result of Y2K, SARS, mad cow disease, H1N1 flu . . .”
And so you doom yourself to be ignored as a “know nothing idiot with a loud voice”.
I have had much reason to regret my part in solving Y2K issues. To be honest the ungrateful and unknowing idiots who rant on about spending billions on Y2k and “nothing happened” just leaves me bemused.
Yes we spend billions. Yes we “fixed it”, mainly and then we are pillioried for doing exactly what was labelled on the tin.
Consider this. IF we manage to get the climate laws in place and IF we mitigate the worst of the effects and IF geoengineering is successful in reducing CO2 and stabilising the climate.
Then climate scientists in the latter part of the 20th century will know exactly how I feel today over the Y2K fix. Because they won’t be thanked. They won’t be lauded. They’ll be pillioried as overbearing leftist “world power mongers” who spend Trillions on something that “Never Happened”.
That is the thanks the likes of Pete50 will give to climate scientists if they fix this mess. However at least climate scientists will have the pleasure of knowing how many lives they saved. We merely saved lots of companies (and economies), trillions of $..
…useful to real people than the claims by those who predicted doom as a result of Y2K, SARS, mad cow disease, H1N1 flu . . .
Yes, thank you. This is a fantastic argument for taking action to mitigate climate change. After all, none of the Y2K, SARS, mad cow disease, or H1N1 flu challenges have resulted in doom, since in every one of those cases governments and businesses took and continue to take concerted and expensive action to control the situations.
Of course, all such action was taken on the advice of experts. The fact that modern civilization has not yet been stupid enough to ignore the experts and potential, predicted, major disasters does not in anyway add support to the idea that we should do so (i.e. ignore the experts).
Oh, and you forgot to add DTD, CFCs and the link between smoking and cancer.
Except that in that last case many people did and do ignore the experts, and as such many more people have and continue to suffer from and die of lung cancer than was/is necessary. So much for the wisdom of ignoring the experts.
[Separately, do I win some sort of prize? My reCaptcha code for this was "Galileo triumphant". How about an all expenses paid trip to the North Pole to watch the ice melt next summer?]
“… something not even a “credible” scientist would do”
Which of course must be a hint that Roman is not a “credible scientist”, rather a newly minted “citizen auditor”, with an “academic interest” – in line with the theoretical, not realistic, or directly useful and scholarly but lacking in common sense, or practicality meaning of academic.
I find it interesting which articles at RC bring out which contrarian aberrations, this one, examining credibility, attracting particularly humourous in-credibles.
A number of people have addressed the issue of relevant expertise by posing some form of the question, “Whose opinion would you rely on to diagnose cancer and recommend an appropriate course of cancer treatment — an oncologist or a cardiologist?”
That’s a good point, but I would suggest it doesn’t really get to the point of what is going on with the public “debate” about AGW.
The right question to ask is: “Whose opinion would you rely on to diagnose cancer and recommend an appropriate course of cancer treatment — an oncologist, or a paid propagandist for the tobacco corporations?”
The public “debate” isn’t really about science at all.
It’s about money. It’s about the fossil fuel corporations’ interest in perpetuating their billion dollars per day in profit for as long as they can get away with it, versus the public interest in phasing out the use of their products as fast as possible.
I don’t see any point in replying to each individual separately since many of the criticisms of my comments are rants with no substantive content and it would be a waste of time to address such nonsense.
However I will make a few remarks on several issues that have been raised.
My criticism of the specific analysis of the top 50 in each is based on the fact that the same analysis applied to separate samples of sizes 472 and 903 from the same population will invariably produce larger means and medians in the 903 size sample. This is not an opinion or a guess. It follows from the mathematics behind the situation. The statistical test used in this case in the paper will produce a “significant” p-value that the larger sample size group comes from a population which produces larger values – this is false since the sample were selected from the same generating mechanism.
You do not need to “try it out” on real data to see if that is the case. However, if you wish to, go ahead. To get something similar to the data in the paper, try generating exponential variables with mean 100 for each of the samples. If you know some probability, you could calculate what to expect: the theoretical mean of the top 50 will be about 388 for the larger group and 324 for the smaller. For the data which has a higher percentage of extreme values, the difference would be greater.
I could suggest to you that you try it on the data from the paper (as you seem to be implying I should to convince you of something which can be demonstrated otherwise). However, maybe you haven’t noticed, but the data is NOT available.
The only semi-cogent suggestion was from #172, stewart longman,
RomanM: It’s a trivial issue, so ‘publish’ it on this blog – what happens when you compare the top 5% of each group? Do you have any evidence that they are from the same population? It’s your job to demonstrate, not argue without data, that the authors did it wrong. That’s science – reality trumps argument. If you prefer to argue, that’s not science.
The cogent part is that it makes more sense to compare the top 5% rather than the top 50 individuals in each group. Yes, that would be a better comparison, but that is NOT what the authors did. As a psychologist, you should understand that you do statistical testing to demonstrate that they ARE different, not the other way around. The onus is on the authors to use valid statistical techniques to make their point. In this case, showing that their technique is not valid can be done simply by analyzing what happens when the technique is applied.
As far as publishing this type of criticism, what journal would you suggest? Statistics journals do not publish papers showing that someone misused a statistical technique. Such errors do need to be corrected before someone else decides to copycat and make the same mistake again. The best way to do it is to publish a corrigendum from the authors in the original publication. Only in the case that the authors refuse to do this is there a need for someone else to step in. Given the “climate” at PNAS, I suspect that would be a difficult task for an “outsider” to accomplish.
I suggest that you ask Mr. Anderegg for his opinion on the points I have raised. If he wishes to ask for clarification or to discuss this off the record, I don’t mind the moderators passing my email address on to him.
As an aside, you might try counting the number of ad homs, name callings and disparaging remarks found in this thread… and look at who is generating these.
Ever the eternal optimist, I’m starting to wonder whether Tom Fuller’s attitude might not represent the first glimmering of understanding. After all, if being in the “unconvinced” camp were something to be proud of, don’t you think those who self-identify with that position would be trumpeting it from the rooftops? Maybe Tom is starting to realize that it’s not a good thing for scientists to ignore evidence.
People are missing the point. It is not that being on the “unconvinced” list makes a scientist a bad scientist or that the convinced experts are generally more skilled than the unconvinced experts.
Rather, it is that if your preconceptions require you to reject something as fundamental as anthropogenic climate change arising from increasing CO2, this causes you to reject science in the models of climate that is very important.
Anthropogenic causation is a direct and unavoidable consequence of a significant forcing due to CO2. If you reject this, or if you are spending your time looking for chimerical negative feedback mechanisms, you will not be able to contribute significantly to understanding climate. Period. That is the proper interpretation of the study.
As far as publishing this type of criticism, what journal would you suggest? Statistics journals do not publish papers showing that someone misused a statistical technique.
This is a shame, especially after the whole MM/PCA brouhaha, since people seem to be saying that professional statisticians should be more involved in climate science, while you seem to be saying that they can’t be bothered.
My suggestion is that you publish it in the same publication as the original, not to advance statistics, but to advance climate science.
Also, you may not realize it, but the inappropriate Y2K and SARS analogies are frequently by those in denial about AGW, so you trotting them out here does not do much to further your argument.
Someone trying to brush off the Y2K thing is like waving a red rag at a bull to me as well. It seems some people are all too willing to bet that everything they know so little about is a conspiracy, and unfortunately, the media makes the problem even worse with their “equal time for both sides” nonsense.
On another forum recently, I was trying to engage with an AGW denier when he tried to play down the Y2K problem. When I pushed him on it, he told me he was the manager for the whole NE U.S. of a large telecomms company at the time the millennium rolled over, and he was opining about how Y2K would have little impact on his customers because it was all overblown. He was basically calling these Fortune 500 companies that were his customers suckers for spending so much money on a ‘non-problem’.
Well, I happen to be an electrical engineer by education, and a professional programmer since the early 80′s. I did the Y2K due diligence for our company, and had all the paperwork locked in our attorney’s safe so we could prove we did everything we could if there was a problem and one of our customers took us to task for it. This guy couldn’t bullsh#t me.
So yeah, if they think Y2K was a conspiracy, they probably think there’s a conspiracy under every rock. And these are the kind of people we’re trying to have rational discussions about the science with?
Here’s how I look at “the consensus of experts” issue:
1. If the consensus among experts was that the tetrachloroethylene in my tap water was safe, with only one in a million expected to die from it; while a few outlier experts said it was unsafe, with more like 1 in 973 likely to die from it, I would probably switch my drinking water — even if those outlier experts had less pubs and citations to their record.
2. If the consensus among experts was that there is not enough proof that AGW is happening; and only a few experts said it was real and very dangerous, well, I actually did start mitigating back in 1990 (before studies started reaching .05 in 1995), and have saved many $1000s ($2000 on that $6 lowflow showerhead with off/on soap-up switch alone) over the years since, reducing about 60% GHGs below my 1990 level. And I’m left thinking, what if I’d know about this “not yet proven threat” a decade earlier — I could have saved even more money by reducing even more GHGs!
3. If there is a strong consensus among experts (like 97%) that AGW is happening and it’s dangerous, and only 2-3% of experts say either it’s not happening, or even if it is, it is not much and not dangerous, I’m wondering how did we ever get to this point?!! We should have been mitigating like crazy 20 or more years ago, halting this crazy experiment and destroying its evidence, so that there never would have been such a strong consensus among experts in 2010 about the reality and dangers of AGW.
Of course, affected industries who might lose profits might have a perspective different from mine … unless they are sincerely into diversifying. Beyond Petroleum.
RomanM (#197) I think Roman M’s suggestion that the best way to correct a flawed statistical technique used in a paper is to have a corrigendum from the authors in the original publication is correct. This is something that I think should be improved on since I think part of the bad blood between skeptics and experts lies in the fact that the skeptics will just throw up these critisism on blogs/comment threads, while experts seem to find this method to only be attacks on their credibility (which may be the case for some of the critisism, but I would argue that not all are and some are valid critisism’s). In particular, there are lots of experts in the use statistical techniques, and while not all the expertise would be directly applicable, it could help improve statistics use in climate science. Personally, I think this is something that affects all disciplines to a certain extent and partly caused statistics reputation as a minor detail as well as poor outreach by the statistics community in order to teach the latest methods as well as clarify existing misinterpretations.
I would love to see forums that allow criticism be raised in a non attack manner and the recipient of the critisism be able to debate, reject or accept the criticism. This would all be based off of honest debate however, which I think most here would agree is not easy to foster.
As for RomanM’s specific comments here, his critisism seems to be a genuine attempt from his part to engage (notwithstanding his moral critiques). Strictly from his comments, he does seem to have a good understanding of statistics. At least from my perspective… more than me which means I can’t judge if he knows statistics more or less than say Gavin or the Authors of the study. As for my understanding of statistics… more than some and less than others is all I would/could say.
This is a shame, especially after the whole MM/PCA brouhaha, since people seem to be saying that professional statisticians should be more involved in climate science, while you seem to be saying that they can’t be bothered.
Not at all. What I said is that “mistakes” do not merit publication in statistics journals because they should be fixed at the original point of publication.
I fully agree that statisticians in conjunction with climate scientists should be developing new methodology for use in climate research. Such methodology would definitely be published in good statistics journals because interactions with other statisticians would help move the subject forward.
Decades ago back in my junior high days, I did a science project and chose man made climate change as the topic. I compared and contrasted human caused warming vs cooling. I ended up choosing cooling because I thought the idea of glaciers knocking down cities was really cool and there seemed to be a lot of airplane contrails blocking the sun. I hereby recant my conclusion in light of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Sorry for any confusion it caused the general public.
And still you think people are saying your method doesn’t do what you say it does!
Of course it does. And yet you continue to miss the point.
The paper puts it better than I can: We examined a subsample of the 50 most-published (highest-expertise) researchers from each group. They are comparing the very best with the very best, not bending over backwards to impose an equality that doesn’t exist.
If you start comparing the top 5%, then you have to add the caveat “but there are nearly 9 times more in the CE group, so not only are the best experts better, there are also more of them”. The same goes for your Monte-Carlo method.
And despite all this, every single method still shows a huge disparity between the two groups. You just keep picking on the one that highlights the difference best.
So, go on. Tell us we don’t understand your complificated statatisticalisations again. We really enjoy that.
All of this highlights one of the dangers of statistics. It’s no use using statistical methods in the dark. You have to understand what the data means, and have sufficient domain knowledge to make sense of it and use statistics appropriately.
Contrary to what RomanM is claiming (that his qualms are falling on deaf ears) Prall has in fact said at #126 that:
“On the questions about methods raised by RomanN in #64 and #118, I’ve emailed our first author, Bill Anderegg, who did the statistical analysis. He’s the right person to address those comments.”
The authors of the paper are clearly receptive to critique.
Anyhow, what is lost on the contrarians is that the following claim made by them is simply not true, no matter how you manipulate the data:
“A vocal minority of researchers and other critics contest the conclusions of the mainstream scientific assessment, frequently citing large numbers of scientists whom they believe support their claims”
As for accusations made by RomanM about people posting here, he needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror and reflect on how contrary views are dealt with at CA and WUWT. That does not justify what I or others may have said in frustration here, but it is simply noting the reality of blogs. What none of this bickering changes are the facts, and the facts point to the contrarians (UE group) having very little authority, experience and having contributed much less to the ways on advancing climate science than those in the CE group.
RomanM @ 197. You are claiming the “top 50″ analysis will skew the results but the example you give is only true of populations of different size but the same underlying distribution. Look at the paper — the populations are clearly not equivalent. The “top 50″ in each population are clearly separated. In fact, one could probably run the numbers for equivalent populations, as you have done, and then use this to further prove that the underlying populations are not the same distribution. The median values are about 300 apart in the real data, not 60 as you expect from your analysis.
However, that is not the point of that part of the analysis, which is stated in absolute terms. Which population contains the more active, expert publishers in the field? Clearly this is the CE population. No question.
What I said is that “mistakes” do not merit publication in statistics journals because they should be fixed at the original point of publication.
But obviously mistakes can be made, and can get by the review process prior to publication, and often do. The initial review process before publication is just the first cut, but not the only or even the main cut. And when something erroneous is published, the way to “correct” the error is generally to have someone else publish an alternative study, either refuting or improving on the original work.
Wishing that what you perceive to be mistakes were never made doesn’t change anything. It seems you have three options:
1) Contact the authors, present your credentials, build a working relationship with them, sell your case to them, and help or at least convince them to produce a corrigendum.
2) Produce your own study, using different techniques and possibly producing different results and different conclusions, which will then either supplant their work, or require that they take their own effort a step further (and science marches on).
3) Post criticisms on a blog without any detail supporting your insights or credibility, which can never be challenged, but in the end can also have no effect on the course of science.
When does the signal of ACC become demonstrtaed in the weather? I mean natural variability is so large that I doubt the monsoon in Pakistan or the fires in Russia can in any way be attributed but its their intensity, frequency and duration that can so we all have to wait for the next ones to come along before we can link it all to ACC?
Yeah, the consensus is not always a plausible defense like in the case of rushed FDA approval of certain drugs with questionable industry publications the main rational. However, in this case there are multiple lines of evidence supporting AGW and not just one source out to many, alhtough in some cases data will converge at several points from one or two major processing centers. Still, it really is not a ‘debate’ as to whether us humans affect climate because we know we do. We also see several outside reliablity and validity analyses including stat analysis showing the climate scientists’ claims are accurate and the papers’ data robust. CA has been uncharacteristically cool this year. Not just from my meager ’3′ years of living here, but from reports from the weather channel, all of the network forcasters/meteorologists, and some available data on google scholar as well. Of course this is weather and not climate. This is also a single year and of course changing temp gradients and resulting pressure changes are sure to cool some regions as many others become warmer.
A point of etiquette first: Some commenters are telling RomanM to stop complaining about the Anderegg paper and go publish his own. I think it odd to tell RomanM off for contributing to a critical discussion of the Anderegg et al. paper, when that is exactly what this post is about, and why comments are open.
But on substance, I think RomanM is missing the point about the “top 50″ approach. Martin Vermeer 181) nailed it with the “best football nation” analogy, which I found rather clearer than the conclusion Anderegg et al. formulated on this point.
For my money, the most convincing step in the Anderegg paper was the 20-paper cutoff and what it did to the group of bandied-about group of UE scientists. *Poof*. Never mind the top 50, look at how the bottom 379 fall out of the 472 UE statement signers when they’re required to have established a track record in climate science.
I wanted to add a comment on Tom “CRUtape” Fuller having the nerve to pose here as a champion of scientists’ privacy (cf. Bob at #121), but on reflection, I’d better [edit myself].
Look at the whole picture. If the authors wish to summarize the top 50 in each group, they are completely within their rights to do – no problem. Do all the graphs and calculate all of the statistics you want. However, when you are interpreting those statistics, remember that the differences are distorted by the imbalance in the sample sizes by amounts which you do not know.
However, the authors first stated they were doing a procedure which would allow them to do a particular statistical test as part of their “evidence”. They then selected the top fifty from each and followed it up with the test not realizing that the assumptions of the test were severely violated by the way the selections were made. The test result was used in the subsequent statement about the groups. This is supposed to be a scientific paper and what they did was incorrect. If the same approach is used in another situation where the difference may not be as large, the end result could be false. Scientists have the habit of using methods that someone else has used in previous papers so I would think that a correction is in order.
#210 Gator. The relevant feature is that the samples are of a different size, not the population.
#211 Bob (S) . If the authors had been members of my own academic environment, I might have tried approach 1.
Producing my own study – spending how many weeks or months gathering data to do something that I strongly feel should never have been done in the first place – not very realistic.
I posted this on a blog where the paper was being presented by the authors. I was not aggressive about it nor have I said anything that could be interpreted as an attempt to embarrass anyone. Everyone here seems to place an inordinate importance on credentials. I did not flash a badge nor did I feel it would be appropriate to stomp in announcing myself before posting my comment. Everything that I have written is on the record. If I am wrong, it is there to be pointed out by people who can understand the situation. In the end it can have as much of an effect on the science but that may depend on how the authors view it. I have offered to be part of the process away from the blog.
I have commitments which will prevent my continuing this discussion for a day or so at least . As it is, the discussion of this topic seems to be pretty much exhausted.
The paper could have been entirely correct and sufficiently damning if the results section only consisted of the parts
“The UE group comprises only 2% of the top 50 climate researchers as ranked by expertise (number of climate publications), 3% of researchers of the top 100, and 2.5% of the top 200″
“In addition to the striking difference in number of expert researchers between CE and UE groups, the distribution of expertise of the UE group is far below that of the CE group (Fig. 1). Mean expertise of the UE group was around half (60 publications) that of the CE group (119 publications; Mann–Whitney U test: W = 57,020; P < 10−14), as was median expertise (UE = 34 publications; CE = 84 publications)."
But I have to agree with RomanM that this part
"We examined a subsample of the 50 most-published (highest-expertise) researchers from each group. Such subsampling facilitates comparison of relative expertise between groups (normalizing differences between absolute numbers). This method reveals large differences in relative expertise between CE and UE groups (Fig. 2)"
is wrong for obvious reasons and should not have passed peer review. Also, RomanM's solution is the one that immediately came to my mind as well: Just take a proper random subsample from the CE group with the same size as the entire UE group and take the 50 most published from this subsample. Repeat this procedure until the results have converged in a trivial Monte Carlo application.
Or just skip this whole part because it doesn't add all that much beside confusion. But then there's probably not enough material for a whole paper, aside from the two statements of the obvious I quoted above…
Aside from sample size issue, RomanM quickly goes where I can't follow. I think a study of this kind can certainly be relevant for policy makers who have no time to dig in the science themselves and have to rely on what they are told by people they assume to be experts. Also I see no problem whatsoever in publicly linking citation numbers etc. to people who have already publicly voiced an opinion on climate change, be it through signing open letters, giving interviews or whatever. I find it hypocritical and a double standard to first claim expertise (even if only implicitly) by voicing an opinion but not allowing your expertise to be examined (I am not talking about blog discussions now, where people can wish to remain anonymous for various reasons). It goes without saying that I condemn threats and violence in the strongest words, but really that is not the issue here and I feel that when people bring it up it usually distracts from the more substantial discussion.
I think you misinterpret the attention you are getting. It may not be in agreement with you, and in climate discussions people tend to get testy, but you aren’t being dismissed or abused as far as I can see… only disagreed with. That’s what debates are about. You make points, they make points, and the dialogue keeps moving.
Partly, yes, maybe you didn’t flash a badge, but you didn’t contradict Steve Mosher when he claimed you were highly published in statistics. That raises expectations. Then there’s this from your blog:
I am a recently retired (after 40 years of teaching) professor whose academic interests have been stirred by the appallingly commonplace misuse of statistical methodology in climate science.
[Do you happen to have any statistics to back up that statement, by the way?]
All I’m saying is that it’s a chance to actually affect things instead of just complaining (or blogging) about it. Obviously not everyone here agrees with you, and at the same time no one seems to be able to shoot you down completely… although neither have you succeeded in shooting them down. I personally disagree with what you are saying, but I’m far from an expert in statistics, and in that event I would tend to bow to someone with more education… but not based purely on vague blog comments.
…spending how many weeks or months gathering data to do something that I strongly feel should never have been done in the first place…
What does that mean? That because you don’t approve of the techniques used, it shouldn’t even be attempted? That even attempting to quantify and qualify the participants is at its root flawed, or immoral? Or that because the end result will inevitably not shine favorably on the denial crowd, that you wouldn’t engage in such a study?
in sports, we could compare the top 50 athlets of ne country, with the top 50 of another one. and the smaller country, or the country with less people active in the sport, could still score higher in this comparison.
it would be a relevant test, to counter (or support) the argument, that it is only the average hat is higher, or just a few top guys being better.
in climate science, the UE group did not manage to score high in that category either. that is the relevant result of this part of the paper.
apart from that, we have a rather typical situation: “sceptics” want to dismiss a paper on a minor point. and they are unwilling to even show, whether the result of any alternative approch would significantly change the outcome.
this is the “merchants of doubt” approach, and it is anti-science.
While I accept the argument from (RC) authority of your in-line response, I’m surprised to note that BPL has posted on the Spencer/Miskolzci blog (his post dated 7 Aug begins “You’re known by the company you keep”). Is it worth paying more attention to that thread?
RomanM @ 217. The point is you are assuming that the populations in fact do have a similar distribution of expertise. They do not. Although the top 50 is not meant to show this (it is a look at the “best team” analogy), one can estimate the effect of the sampling scheme on the end result. Your initial cut at estimating the effect of the sampling on the median citations of each population shows that the effect of the sampling is small compared to the actual data.
PS — as others are pointing out, no one would have questioned your credentials if Steve Mosher had not made a big point of it. No one here was supposed to question you because of your expertise. Funny appeal to authority, eh? It is interesting seeing your point of view and critique, so please continue to contribute!
A frequent response to our paper’s analysis consists of attributing the patterns we found to a systematic, potentially conspiratorial suppression of peer-reviewed research from the UE group. As of yet, this is a totally unsupported assertion backed by no data\n
I was reading the essay The Climategate Emails by John Costella linked to here:
A while back and from what I read it seemed to me that there was significant evidence that some degree of boycotting journals that published research from climate sceptics.
Perhaps this was not quite done with quite the level systematic organisation to merit the phrase conspiracy but the email excepts I read left me with no doubt that there *was* publication bias.
[Response: Decisions about which journals to support (by submissions, reviews etc.) are made all the time and are based on their reputation, area, reach and impact. Associating with journals that publish rubbish (Energy and Environment for instance) is not conducive to presenting your work in the best light (to real scientists at least). If you have a great paper where would you prefer it to be published? Nature? or the Journal of Random and Unsupported Claims? This is a perfectly natural state of affairs - journal reputation is a fragile and complicated thing. But it is not publication bias. - gavin]
RE: “Perhaps this was not quite done with quite the level systematic organisation to merit the phrase conspiracy but the email excepts I read left me with no doubt that there *was* publication bias.”
I suppose you *could* use the term “publication bias” to refer to a bias on the part of *authors* about where to submit articles and where not to, and I think Gavin’s response deals with that. In general, you want to publish in the “best” journal that will print your work, where “best” is judged by factors such as reputation for printing high-quality research, reputation for printing envelope-pushing research, readership, etc. If you see that a particular journal has printed work that seems to you to be of low quality, it is entirely rational to not want your own work associated with that. No boycotting is required; it’s just the normal functioning of a marketplace–if one product or service seems problematic or inferior to your other options, you simply don’t use it. You could call it a bias in a strict definition of the word, but the connotation of ‘bias’ is that the judgment made is wrong or bad, and I don’t think that fits in this case.
On the other hand, in the context of “potentially conspiratorial suppression of peer-reviewed research” it sounds like “publication bias” refers to a bias on the part of the *publishers* regarding what to publish (i.e. for reasons other than legitimate ones such as scientific merit, relevance to the journal’s intended subject matter, etc.). That’s an altogether more serious accusation, and to my mind requires highly convincing evidence.
Problem 1 is the narrative of John P. Costella, which is based on “there is a conspiracy, so I will find and connect the dots that show there is a conspiracy”.
Problem 2 is that the “publication bias” you claim, as in some people not publishing in some journals, does not affect the data in Anderegg et al. They looked at number of publications and citations.
Problem 3 is that their method (google scholar) includes publications from Energy & Environment, which is a fringe journal that gladly publishes sub-par articles, as long as they are critical of (aspects of) AGW.
Several people have asked for a posting from economists.
Click the appropriate link in the right sidebar for such material.
“… debate, which involves economists and various federal agencies, is over the social cost of carbon (SCC).
The SCC may be the most important number you have never heard of. It asks, how much will each ton of carbon dioxide that we release into the atmosphere cost us in damages, both today and in the future? If the answer is a big number, then we ought to make great efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If the answer is a small number, then the case for reduction is weaker, and only easy or inexpensive changes seem warranted….” http://realclimateeconomics.org/wp/archives/247
There’s apparently a paper forthcoming from McShane and Wyner in Annals of Applied Statistics to the effect (in my inexpert paraphrase) that proxies can’t say anything useful about climate. Regardless of whether CO2 produces heat, I’ll bet that this paper will.
[Response: The M&W paper will likely take some time to look through (especially since it isn't fully published and the SI does not seem to be available yet), but I'm sure people will indeed be looking. I note that one of their conclusions "If we consider rolling decades, 1997-2006 is the warmest on record; our model gives an 80% chance that it was the warmest in the past thousand years" is completely in line with the analogous IPCC AR4 statement. But this isn't the thread for this, so let's leave discussion for when there is a fuller appreciation for what's been done. - gavin]
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/08/16/2984597.htm says …
Sceptics to challenge climate science in court
Climate change sceptics in New Zealand are taking the government’s climate agency to court over the validity of its evidence on global warming. The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition has accused the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research of tampering with official weather records to make the case for global warming.
Responde to 235. I read the paper M&W a few thing bother me. First, the inclusion of a stocastics component, which is difficult to justify physicaly. This probably blow up the error bars. Nevertheless, the smoothed version of their model is smoother than any ther reconstruction? Also, the fact they could not match the 1990 with their model ring some bell. I find difficult to have a model that is not able to catch the highest signal ratio part of the signal. Finally, their model looks like a carbon copy of the Kaufman reconstruction for polar regions. Maybe, their is a problem of geographical weigthing (Mercator vers spherical?).
The biggest flaw with the paper seems to be that if confuse science with politics. It assume that facts compel certain political positions. If one are critical to the Kyoto protocol due to believing it is economically inefficient, one can end up in the UE group. There is clearly a hidden poltical agenda that motivate the paper.
Several of the UE group members are clearly politically motivated and some of the petitions they have signed are foremost political: we dont want to pay higher taxes, slow down economic growth, this is not very dangerous according to our value system, and the like. thats the underlying message in several petitions and also explicit in some of them.
The flaw is however not as big as I thought, most if not all includes at least a sentence that contest the veracity of climate change, and many of them focus entirely on that. nevertheless, the confusion by the authors of science and politics is troublesome, for scientific as well as democratic reasons.
Comment by Andreas Bjurström — 19 Aug 2010 @ 5:46 PM
It’s good to be worrying for the world for once instead of countries, religions, nationalities, personal wealth…Different views will provide data from different sources and will be a platform to identify the easons behind global warming and thus create solutions.
i had a conversation with a Dem. candidate for the Mi House of Reps today and,although he was no doubt concerned with environmental issues, he was hesitant to affirm his support about anything to do with global warming stating that there was much debate on the issue – very frustrating to me as a rank layman who has studied this issue for ten years. my question – is what we now know of the detrimental effects of excess carbon in the atmoshphere additive to Arrhenius theory or in addition to it. in other words can i correctly state that there is no question as to the science as the theory is 100 years old? be gentle on me as i’m only trying to educate people
You may also enjoy my “life & times articles” on various scientists who worked on climate theory. The series actually starts with Fourier, but I’ll only link from Arrhenius on (you can easily work backwards to Tyndall, Pouillet & Fourier if you want to.)