Skeptical Science conspiracy theorist John Cook runs another survey trying to prove that false "97% of climate scientists believe in global warming" meme

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 (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, 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


John Cook

Global Change Institute/University of Queensland

Skeptical Science


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

updated 5-2012

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

Peer Review

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.


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And let me guess, it’ll only be sent to a select number of English speaking folks. Well, of course it has to go that way. If you want to cash in on the “global warming” government cash cow, you can’t hold yourself up with proper statistics and translations.
I’m tired of “social sciences” trying to sell statistics as scientific evidence.

Silence DoGood

there are indeed some scary characters that partake in this global warming drivel. They seem to literally stop at nothing to spread their lies


Might be interesting to add a question, if it’s not there already:
“What percentage of your annual income derives ultimately from Taxpayer funding?
(a) More than 50%
(b) Less than 50%”
and analyse the responses by the two answers to this question – in addition to any other analysis, of course …

jonny old boy

I read the words “John Cook”….. then I watched an episode of hawaii 5-0…. WHY ? Because it has more science in it !!! 😉

Lance Wallace

Another bit of self-selection bias: non-zealots will not wish to waste their time on taking a survey.

Mac the Knife

Ugh! Cook is the right name for this type of ‘cooking the books’ polling and data analysis.

David Ball

2 words. Echo and Chamber.

Joe's World(evolutionary progress)

Did theses players suspend Jo Nova???
[Or did those thesis players suspend her? ]


Isn’t it about time that standards were set for opinion surveys? Like for professional opinion polls?
My econometrics lecturer 30 years ago gave a series of lectures on eliminating bias. He concluded that no matter what you might do to eliminate bias, bias may still be present, invalidating any significance tests – and thus the validity of the results. I found that most economics papers up to that point superficially adhered to the most basic tests, with all major empirical papers being overturned in a few years later by somebody doing some proper analysis, or testing the hypothesis against different data sets. There were incentives to do so, as there was many competing views.
John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky are trying every means possible to prevent any adverse criticism of their beliefs by building walls of corrupt opinion polls, that break every rule of questionnaires that I learnt in the first year as an undergraduate. This in the context of preserving a monopoly of ideas, that has failed to produce any significant science in a long time.

Brian H

“with the methods an perfoamce, ” → with their methods and performance


This is like waiting outside a supermarket and asking people with OMO in their shopping trolley if they buy OMO..
The old 9 out of 10 people buy OMO trick.
Only the absolutely DUMBEST people fall for it.
Unfortunately, there are an awful lot of dumb people in the world.


Advocacy disguised as science, that is EXACTLY the term that has been bouncing around by head. Thank you Anthony. That is how they come up with their consensus. All they need is someone that agrees with their political positions and, voila! Climate Scientists.

mike about town

This is an utterly absurd and a blatant politically motivated “study” with clear bias all over it. How can the responders be expected to remain unbiased with a title like that?

Mark Nutley

And no doubt it will be whittled down so over 100% of climate scientists believe in CAGW


The research, titled The Consensus Project, is being conducted by the University of Queensland in collaboration with contributing authors of the website…….

This is the same as a survey held among trades union members asking them whether they deserve a pay rise. John Cook already knows the results of his survey.
On the pages of WUWT I once apologised to John Cook for calling him something like “numb nuts” after Anthony berated me. I take back my apology.
[MODS – snip me if you like, I won’t feel offended]. 😉


John Cook is not a professional opinion poll surveyor and should not be participating in a craft he is not skilled at. Leave that job to Gallup, Pew, Mori et al.
(They said Anthony should not have been interviewed because he was not a climate scientist so sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander)


Maybe they can add the 31,487 signatories of the Petition Project to the data collected for this new survey. It would add sigificantly to the numbers that they’re going to get.

Interesting radio program on BBC Analysis about the philosophy of the climate debate: <a href=";.

cui bono

Anthony, can’t you supply a bit more detail on the ‘?c=xxxxxxxxxx’ part of the address without compromising your source?
After all, most of us here have written about ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’, even if it hasn’t been peer-reviewed.
Maybe a little PC program script and we can all helpfully participate in Mr. Cook’s magisterial survey? 🙂

Bob Koss

To: Al Gore
From John Cook
snip …
Our search of the ISI Web of Science database has found zero 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.
snip …
To John Cook
From Al Gore
Over the last 20 years I have produced 100’s of what I like to call papers on global warming which I am eager describe in your survey. I’ll get right on it as soon as my hottie of a masseuse releases my second chakra.
I can’t understand why none of my papers made it into that database.

D Böehm

The “consensus” is clearly on the side of scientists who are skeptical of catastrophic AGW. Nothing John Cook can do will alter the fact that more than 31,400 professionals, all with degrees in the hard sciences — including more than 9,000 PhD’s — have co-signed a statement which reads in part:

The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind. There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the forseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth. [source]

Unlike Cook’s sock puppets, the OISM Petition required co-signers to have science degrees, and they had to mail in their signed statement. No emails allowed, because as we know emails and electronic surveys can be gamed. And every signature was vetted, with any illegitimate fakes removed.
THAT is the true scientific consensus regarding CO2: it is harmless, and beneficial to the biosphere. More is better. What Cook is attempting to do is use a fake email survey to try and come up with more than the OISM’s numbers. But no matter what he fabricates, his survey has no credibility. None at all.
The OISM Petition was circulated prior to, and in response to Kyoto. No doubt there are a lot more scientists that have changed their minds since then, and become skeptics of AGW. John Cook is flogging a dead horse, and using a dishonest method to manufacture pre-ordained results. Honesty is not in him.


“Out of 1,374 respondents to our survey over 1,657 agree that….”


Seems a bit of a risk, even with a totally biased methodology, to do another dumb survey. 97% is a pretty high benchmark. What if it comes out lower? Then we could conclude that belief is declining?
Oh, silly me, of course the results will be that >100% of climate scientist believe in AGW!

is it normal for UWA to provide email addresses to unpaid vounteers?


@ Joe, re JoNova
JN has been attacked many times using Ddos type attacks.
It was Sunday here yesterday, and her web guy may not have been contactable.
She is trying to move to a more secure server ASAP !!


As the respondent HAS to be on the AGW gravy train to even take the survey.. the result should be 100%.. The way they “selected” that other survey, it should have been 100% as well. 🙂

Apart from the fact that Cook’s survey depends on “self-rating” by the papers’ authors, I fail to see how his “results” will address (IMHO) the underlying point of contention. As I had noted in the introduction to my own modest survey**:

It is also worth noting that the MSM have been dutifully churning reports in which “climate change” is declared as the “cause” of the recent spate of “extreme” weather events. What is not mentioned in such reports (nor in the copious profliferation of “scientific” papers over the last twenty years) is that – apart from computer simulations and projections (which can hardly be considered as “evidence” for anything except a reflection of the modellers’ inputs) – there has been no empirical evidence provided which would even begin to suggest that human generated CO2 is the primary cause, driver – or in CliSci-speak “forcing” – of climate change aka global warming aka the greatest threat to the future of our planet.

** Pls. see Survey participation invited: Does fear of CO2 cause extreme voting?
Hilary Ostrov

Green Sand

“The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never again escape from it.”

R. Shearer

Even if it were true, popularity does not decide theory.

Mike McMillan

Amazing how some things slip into Wikipedia. Try this on for gall.




Surveying climate scientists to give an opinion about global warming is like surveying creation scientists to give an opinion about evolution. There is a strong though not absolute selection pressure against skeptics becoming climate scientists.


@D Böehm says:
Its a pity they don’t include engineering degrees in that list.
Thermal Engineers, Water Engineers, and many other branches of engineering are just as qualified to make a statement. They generally have a broader understanding of how things work than many other faculties.


1st -The way I read this it is a follow up to an original invitation. When was the original invitation sent?
2nd – Me thinks the conclusions have already been written.
3rd – Perhaps this is also, considering the ‘conspiracy’ talk lately from SkS, a way to add to their enemies list by some who may fill this out in good faith.
4th – How did a carttoonist become denier hunter general?

john robertson

Merely to categorise your published research. My immediate take away is John Cook can’t read? Or lacks the comprehension skills to figure out what is before his eyes. Given his behaviour so far inability to comprehend the written word would explain a lot.


ignore that previous… they do accept engineers. just no place on the form to tick BEng.

Mark Wagner

Don’t forget your false positives. I could have written a paper that discusses various matters regarding bovine excrement. But as long as it includes the phrase “global warming” somewhere in the paper, I would receive an invitation to play.


“…winner of the Australian Museum 2011 award for Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge”

That’s in the same league as the top award I won from the Association of Bloggers with the Word Rocket in their Handles.

D Böehm

The OISM Petition was limited to scientists within the U.S. Had it been open to scientists worldwide, the numbers would no doubt be more than double.
The true consensus [for whatever a ‘scientific consensus’ is worth] is entirely on the side of skeptics of catastrophic AGW, and John Cook knows that. Thus, his devious ‘survey’ shenanigans. Didn’t Stephen Schneider approve of lying for the CAGW cause? That is what Cook is doing.

Reg Nelson

It speaks volumes that the Chicken Little’s have to resort to these type of tactics.
If the science was true, if the facts were there, if the data was there, they would never have to resort to this type of subterfuge.
What a sad state science has become. Sadder still is the PBS Ombudsman who admitted that he is spoon fed his science by the MSM.


Your point on gatekeeping is valid.
However the “not peer reviewed” choice could lead to the choice that follows (human attribution) being ignored. Obviously it would waste less surveyee time if they didn’t ask for information that they weren’t going to use, but once they have “not peer reviewed” in that column in the database they can easily drop (or not select) that row.

Steve C

He’s suffering from nominal determinism.
Definitions from the New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary:
v.t. Concoct, make up, invent.
v.t. Falsify; alter surreptitiously to produce a desired result.

Guys, It is clear that Lewandowsky and Cook include the filter terms “Climate Change” and others to filter out most of the truly scientific literature on CO2, atmospheric physics, hydrological cycles, carbon cycle, and any other pertinent subject. The fact is that most credible studies in the last ten years to not include the words climate change, which have only recently fashionable by the KoolAide crowd.
Yes, the term does filter out lesser known publications, but the important thing is that It filters out about 97% of science, altogether.
Filtering by the term, “climate change” is a smart move if you can get away with it. If you bothered to listen to Lewandowsky’s self-worship video, he did the exact same thing.
Lewandowsky and Cook have had some shalloow ideas, and this is just another.

So let’s take a look at this Global Change Institute of which this charming fellow is a fellow. Bold face added.

The University established the Global Change Institute (GCI), led by world-renowned researcher Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, [ho hum] to provide a vehicle for collaborative research, learning, engagement and advocacy in major global change issues. ……..
…… Global change encompasses the interactions of natural and human induced changes in the global environment and their implications for society. These changes are occurring at an unprecedented scale and speed. Fundamental global sustainability challenges include issues as diverse as climate change (carbon mitigation and adaptation) ………….

So there you have it. Their starting point is the requirement for carbon mitigation ……… ’nuff said.

What do the Chinese scientists think?
Because future emission depened on the Chinese, Indians and the ‘developing world’ Noy Australiea, UK, Canada, USA..
“..China’s most senior climate change official surprised a summit in India when he questioned whether global warming is caused by carbon gas emissions and said Beijing is keeping an “open mind”
Xie Zhenhua was speaking at a summit between the developing world’s most powerful countries, India, Brazil, South Africa and China, which is now the largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the gas believed to be responsible for climate change.
But Mr Xie, China’s vice-chairman of national development and reforms commission, later said although mainstream scientific opinion blames emissions from industrial development for climate change, China is not convinced.
“There are disputes in the scientific community. We have to have an open attitude to the scientific research. There’s an alternative view that climate change is caused by cyclical trends in nature itself. We have to keep an open attitude,” he said…” (Telegraph)
“..China’s most senior negotiator on climate change says more research needed to establish whether warming is man-made
China’s most senior negotiator on climate change said today he was keeping an open mind on whether global warming was man-made or the result of natural cycles. Xie Zhenhua said there was no doubt that warming was taking place, but more and better scientific research was needed to establish the causes.
Xie’s comments caused consternation at the end of the post-meeting press conference, with his host, the Indian environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, attempting to play down any suggestions of dissent over the science of climate change…”(Guardian)
links here: from the ‘What Else did the 97% of scientists sa’y link in the main article..


Mike McMillan –
not so surprising how some things slip into wikipedia:
22 Sept: CNET: Violet Blue: Wikipedia honcho caught in scandal quits, defends paid edits
High-placed editors at Wikipedia’s U.K. site were caught in a simmering paid-PR scandal. After news broke, one resignation and a little backpedaling has done little to solve the problem.

cui bono

This paper *could* have contained the words ‘global warming’:
Ig Nobel Medicine Prize: Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti (France) for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimise the chance that their patients will explode.



I wonder what the survey results will be? /sarc
Though Jo Nova’s site has been hacked here is Google cache of her compilation back on 2009 of government spending on Climate Change & related research.

“The Climate Industry: $79 billion so far – Trillions to come”
“Billions in the Name of “Climate”
In total, over the last 20 years, by the end of fiscal year 2009, the US government will have poured in $32 billion for climate research—and another $36 billion for development of climate-related technologies. These are actual dollars, obtained from government reports, and not adjusted for inflation. It does not include funding from other governments. The real total can only grow.
In 1989, the first specific US climate-related agency was created with an annual budget of $134 million. Today in various forms the funding has leapt to over $7,000 million per annum, around 50 fold higher. Tax concessions add to this. (See below for details and sources.)
This tally is climbing precipitously. With enormous tax breaks and rescue funds now in play, it’s difficult to know just how far over the $7 billion mark the final total will stand for fiscal year 2009. For example, additional funding for carbon sequestration experiments alone amounted to $3.4 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (not included in the $7 billion total above).”

Not to mention spending by other governments, organisations, public bodies, philanthropists………………the list goes on. They are getting the results they have paid for. If sceptics got this kind of funding and media exposure the (alleged non-) debate would have been over a long time ago.
John Cook is now the climate scientists’ unofficial trades union leader. Follow the money folks, follow the money.>>>>>>>>>>


This screams ‘Confirmation Bias’. He will find the answer he is looking for….maybe. The language may be a little more precise than that used in the discredited “97%” survey….