People send me stuff. Even though I’m supposed to be on break, I thought this worth a few minutes to post up. I have redacted the recipient address as well as the exact time stamp, and the suffix code in the URL to prevent the sender from being identified by Cook, and face possible retaliation or harassment. Since Jo Nova’s website has yet again been taken down by a hacking DDoS attack, I felt this to be an important step to protect the recipient. From the language and pre-selection filters imposed, clearly there is no further doubt about the connection of John Cook’s Skeptical Science effort to the advocacy disguised as science going on at the University of Western Australia with Stephan Lewandowsky. Since this was sent using the University of Queenslands public network resource, it is fair game for posting, especially since no caveats for disclosure of the survey are given in the invitation letter.
I found the methodology of the sample selection quite ridiculous:
Our search of the ISI Web of Science database has found X of your papers published between 1991 and 2011 matching the search phrases ‘global warming’ or ‘global climate change’ (noting that due to the specific search parameters, it’s possible that some of your papers may not be included). It’s not essential that you are an expert in attribution of global warming
With all the caterwauling at SkS by Cook himself and elsewhere about my supposedly “non-expert” involvement in expressing my invited opinion on the PBS News Hour, here in Cook’s world, they simply don’t care if you are an expert or not if you have an opinion on global warming/climate change. Such hypocrisy. I suppose we can call this the “cartoonist clause” since Mr. Cook is a cartoonist by trade.
Of course we all know now (after examining the survey and data) that the 97% of climate scientists believe in global warming meme is predicated on just a few responses in a flawed survey, which you can read about here: What else did the ’97% of scientists’ say?
This survey promises to be no better, as it has a flaw in the invitation process that will induce bias. Here’s why.
The survey appears to be sent only to publishers of papers that have shown up in search phrases for ‘global warming’ or ‘global climate change’. Cook even concedes that:
“(noting that due to the specific search parameters, it’s possible that some of your papers may not be included).”
So with that criteria, what sort of papers and authors will be excluded? Here’s a short, but by no means complete, checklist of papers and author opinions Cooks sampling method will likely miss:
- Papers/authors that don’t use those two phrases cook deems important because they (or the journal) feel it politicizes or polarizes the paper.
- Papers/authors that study other natural variation effects on climate, such as ENSO, solar influences, aerosol influences, volcanic influences, etc. that are only studying those effects and don’t use the terms Cook deems important.
- Papers/authors that study issues, biases, adjustments of datasets that are only studying those datasets and nuances and don’t use the terms Cook deems important.
- Papers that study climate models that deal with the methods and performance, and don’t use the terms Cook deems important.
And there are probably more examples that I haven’t thought of.
From my viewpoint, Cook’s methodology is fatally flawed, because the search terms act like a data sieve and results in some pre-selection biases for those authors/papers that don’t think twice about using those terms (which are political hot potatoes) in a science paper. As a result I would expect a greater numbers of “believers” (to quote the PBS label) than non-believers to be selected.
There’s another bias. Cooks states in the invitation letter:
“Our search of the ISI Web of Science databasehas found X of your papers published between 1991 and 2011 matching the search phrases ‘global warming’ or ‘global climate change…”
This starting condition will of course exclude papers in journals that are NOT part of the ISI database, and there are more than a few. So, it becomes a double bias in pre-selection on Cook’s part. This of course means that some of the journals that do gatekeeping, such as we witnessed in Climategate emails, exclude skeptical authors
Here’s the solicitation:
Sent: xx/xx/xxxx xxxxxx
Subj: Invitation to survey re climate research (closing Oct 12)
Just in case our original email may have gone unnticed, you are receiving this reminder about our invitation to participate in a survey (closing Oct 12) by the University of Queensland measuring the level of consensus in the peer-reviewed literature for the proposition that humans are causing global warming. Our search of the ISI Web of Science database has found X of your papers published between 1991 and 2011 matching the search phrases ‘global warming’ or ‘global climate change’ (noting that due to the specific search parameters, it’s possible that some of your papers may not be included). It’s not essential that you are an expert in attribution of global warming – we are interested in whether your paper explicitly states a position on anthropogenic global warming (AGW), makes implicit assumptions about AGW or has no position. You are invited to categorise the topic of research and level of endorsement in each paper. You will not be asked to supply your private views but merely to categorise your published research. To participate, please follow the link below to the University of Queensland website.
The survey should take around 4 minutes. You may elect to discontinue the survey at any point; your ratings will only be recorded if the survey is completed. The rating must be done in one uninterrupted session, and cannot be revised after closing the session. Your ratings are confidential and all data will be de-individuated in the final results so no individual ratings will be published. You may sign up to receive the final results of the de-individuated survey.
The research, titled The Consensus Project, is being conducted by the University of Queensland in collaboration with contributing authors of the website SkepticalScience.com (winner of the Australian Museum 2011 award for Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge). The research project is headed by John Cook, Research Fellow in Climate Change Communication for the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland.
This study adheres to the Guidelines of the ethical review process of The University of Queensland. Whilst you are free to discuss your participation in this study with project staff (contactable on +61 7 3365 3553 or email@example.com), if you would like to speak to an officer of the University not involved in the study, you may contact the Ethics Officer on +61 7 3365 3924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global Change Institute/University of Queensland
And here are screen caps of the introduction and questions:
The drop downs are interesting, first the drop down that tells them what sort of paper it is:
Note the “Not peer-reviewed” highlighted answer. I found this laughable. He’ll accept an opinion from an author of a non-peer reviewed paper, but by the pre-selection filter of choosing only ISI Web of Science accredited journals, that answer will likely never occur. Here’s why:
The Thomson Reuters Journal Selection Process
By Jim Testa, VP, Editorial & Publisher Relations
Why Be Selective?
It would appear that to be comprehensive, an index of the scholarly journal literature might be expected to cover all journals published. It has been demonstrated, however, that a relatively small number of journals publish the majority of significant scholarly results. This principle is often referred to as Bradford’s Law.2
Application of the peer-review process is another indication of journal standards and signifies overall quality of the research presented and the completeness of cited references.6 Inclusion of Funding Acknowledgements is also strongly recommended. Not only do they help create a greater context for the journal, these acknowledgements also function as a confirmation of the importance of the research presented.
It seems pretty clear to me a non peer reviewed journal would not be selected (for inclusion in the ISI database). Thus skeptical papers that were forced (by the active journal gatekeeping we have witnessed) into journals that didn’t meet ISI’s criteria or simply were not peer reviewed, likely would not be included in Cook’s survey results.
Though the fact that Cook included “not peer-reviewed” as an option for paper author that he would accept means that he’s now bereft of any rational argument when it comes to peer reviewed -vs- non peer reviewed findings.
Here’s answers the authors could give, which are the same no matter which pulldown is first selected.
This new survey by Cook is yet another flawed and transparent advocacy effort to use predetermined opinion gathering as a public relations tool with the help of a compliant and unquestioning news media.