Cook's 97% climate consensus paper crumbles upon examination

Bjørn Lomborg writes on his Facebook Page

pinocchio_puppetUgh. Do you remember the “97% consensus”, which even Obama tweeted?

Turns out the authors don’t want to reveal their data.

It has always been a dodgy paper ( Virtually everyone I know in the debate would automatically be included in the 97% (including me, but also many, much more skeptical).

The paper looks at 12,000 papers written in the last 25 years (see here, the paper doesn’t actually specify the numbers, It ditches about 8,000 papers because they don’t take a position.

They put people who agree into three different bins — 1.6% that explicitly endorse global warming with numbers, 23% that explicitly endorse global warming without numbers and then 74% that “implicitly endorse” because they’re looking at other issues with global warming that must mean they agree with human-caused global warming.

Voila, you got about 97% (actually here 98%, but because the authors haven’t released the numbers themselves, we have to rely on other quantitative assessments).

Notice, that *nobody* said anything about *dangerous* global warming; this meme simply got attached afterwards (by Obama and many others).

Now, Richard Tol has tried to replicate their study and it turns out they have done pretty much everything wrong. And they don’t want to release the data so anyone else can check it. Outrageous.

Read Tol’s letter to the Peter Høj, University of Queensland: “the main finding of the paper is incorrect, invalid and unrepresentative.” (

It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad.


Dear Professor Høj,

I was struck by a recent paper published in Environmental Research Letters with John Cook, a University of Queensland employee, as the lead author. The paper purports to estimate the degree of agreement in the literature on climate change. Consensus is not an argument, of course, but my attention was drawn to the fact that the headline conclusion had no confidence interval, that the main validity test was informal, and that the sample contained a very large number of irrelevant papers while simultaneously omitting many relevant papers.

My interest piqued, I wrote to Mr Cook asking for the underlying data and received 13% of the data by return email. I immediately requested the remainder, but to no avail.

I found that the consensus rate in the data differs from that reported in the paper. Further research showed that, contrary to what is said in the paper, the main validity test in fact invalidates the data. And the sample of papers does not represent the literature. That is, the main finding of the paper is incorrect, invalid and unrepresentative.

Furthermore, the data showed patterns that cannot be explained by either the data gathering process as described in the paper or by chance. This is documented at

I asked Mr Cook again for the data so as to find a coherent explanation of what is wrong with the paper. As that was unsuccessful, also after a plea to Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, the director of Mr Cook’s work place, I contacted Professor Max Lu, deputy vice-chancellor for research, and Professor Daniel Kammen, journal editor. Professors Lu and Kammen succeeded in convincing Mr Cook to release first another 2% and later another 28% of the data.

I also asked for the survey protocol but, violating all codes of practice, none seems to exist. The paper and data do hint at what was really done. There is no trace of a pre-test. Rating training was done during the first part of the survey, rather than prior to the survey. The survey instrument was altered during the survey, and abstracts were added. Scales were modified after the survey was completed. All this introduced inhomogeneities into the data that cannot be controlled for as they are undocumented.

The later data release reveals that what the paper describes as measurement error (in either direction) is in fact measurement bias (in one particular direction). Furthermore, there is drift in measurement over time. This makes a greater nonsense of the paper.

This is documented here and

I went back to Professor Lu once again, asking for the remaining 57% of the data. Particularly, I asked for rater IDs and time stamps. Both may help to understand what went wrong.

Only 24 people took the survey. Of those, 12 quickly dropped out, so that the survey essentially relied on just 12 people. The results would be substantially different if only one of the 12 were biased in one way or the other. The paper does not report any test for rater bias, an astonishing oversight by authors and referees. If rater IDs are released, these tests can be done.

Because so few took the survey, these few answered on average more than 4,000 questions. The paper is silent on the average time taken to answer these questions and, more importantly, on the minimum time. Experience has that interviewees find it difficult to stay focused if a questionnaire is overly long. The questionnaire used in this paper may have set a record for length, yet neither the authors nor the referees thought it worthwhile to test for rater fatigue. If time stamps are released, these tests can be done.

Mr Cook, backed by Professor Hoegh-Guldberg and Lu, has blankly refused to release these data, arguing that a data release would violate confidentiality. This reasoning is bogus.

I don’t think confidentiality is relevant. The paper presents the survey as a survey of published abstracts, rather than as a survey of the raters. If these raters are indeed neutral and competent, as claimed by the paper, then tying ratings to raters would not reflect on the raters in any way.

If, on the other hand, this was a survey of the raters’ beliefs and skills, rather than a survey of the abstracts they rated, then Mr Cook is correct that their identity should remain confidential. But this undermines the entire paper: It is no longer a survey of the literature, but rather a survey of Mr Cook and his friends.

If need be, the association of ratings to raters can readily be kept secret by means of a standard confidentiality agreement. I have repeatedly stated that I am willing to sign an agreement that I would not reveal the identity of the raters and that I would not pass on the confidential data to a third party either on purpose or by negligence.

I first contacted Mr Cook on 31 May 2013, requesting data that should have been ready when the paper was submitted for peer review on 18 January 2013. His foot-dragging, condoned by senior university officials, does not reflect well on the University of Queensland’s attitude towards replication and openness. His refusal to release all data may indicate that more could be wrong with the paper.

Therefore, I hereby request, once again, that you release rater IDs and time stamps.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Tol

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RC Saumarez
August 28, 2013 9:52 am

The consensus was obviously rubbish. I’m afraid that no about of debunking will alter the opinion of true believers.
I doubt that any action will be taken about Cook by the University of Queensland.

DC Cowboy
August 28, 2013 9:56 am

This paper appears to be an example of the new ‘post-normal’ science.

August 28, 2013 9:56 am

Once that 97% consensus of scientists went out there to the public, there is no turning back, even if Cook came clean and worn sackcloth and poured ashes over his head in full public repentance. Regardless, I admire Mr. Tol’s perseverance in this matter. Truth is always more precious than lies, even though few would hold it.

August 28, 2013 9:56 am

I must again reiterate my objection of assuming that opinions expressed about global warming twenty five years ago can have much current validity.

Rhoda R
August 28, 2013 9:58 am

Actually getting a response may be every bit as interesting as the response itself.

August 28, 2013 9:58 am

To be clearer, if one wants to find current opinions of researchers, reading their opinions expressed twenty fie years ago is not a valid way of doing so.

August 28, 2013 9:59 am

There’s a university in Queensland?

August 28, 2013 10:01 am

Richard Tol, you are a much more patient man than I … which may also translate into “more productive” as well. [snip -policy violation – Anthony]
Keep the heat on them …

August 28, 2013 10:08 am

Just to state the obvious, there is no use at all for “consensus” in science. Consensus is an evil political concept. (Sorry if duplicate, something went wrong here.)

August 28, 2013 10:08 am

Maybe there is some good science here after all. A new linkage has been revealed between low research data integrity and poor political leadership. More followup studies are needed.

August 28, 2013 10:12 am

9:58 am
To be clearer, if one wants to find current opinions of researchers, reading their opinions expressed twenty fie years ago is not a valid way of doing so.
It would be an easy approach to stratify the data by 8 year bands to see if there is a statistically significant time-based trend in abstract content.
But let’s face it, whatever is measured is highly conflated with time-based changes in the journal editorial practices of abstracts and editorship of journals who are in business to sell their products. Heck, even the census of journals has changed over time.

Jean Parisot
August 28, 2013 10:13 am

Someone might want to make sure this little issue gets in the hands of the political campaign managers down in Oz, quickly.

Richard D
August 28, 2013 10:15 am

According to Dr. Tol, “John Cook (in a survey of himself and 11 mates) found…”
So the survey subject size was tiny. Apparently all of the subjects were connected to Cook’s work group. Wow.

Gary Pearse
August 28, 2013 10:16 am

I think continued international discussion of this paper gives it more influence. What has been revealed is sufficient to trash it (thanks to Dr. Tol). As we already know, you end up generating sympathy for these guys in the face of continued “badgering” as they like to say. Mann and Gleick wound up getting society medals and awards for stiffing interrogators. Lewandowski got a professorship in the UK and a royal welcome from the Royal Society. IPCC and Al Gore got nobel prizes. Obama got one as a bribe to get him to come to Copenhagen and surrender to the socialists. Watch for it, Cook became a published scientist, a big step up from being a cartoonist!! He is going to get a medal of recognition for his good work.

M Courtney
August 28, 2013 10:16 am

Only 24 people took the survey. Of those, 12 quickly dropped out, so that the survey essentially relied on just 12 people.
So that’s 97% of the interpretations of just 12 people.
Just 12.
And were these dozen an unbiased jury?
Well, one of them was the author, John Cook, himself.
Not only is he clearly biased (see his website SkS) but he also doesn’t get the point of double-blind trials.

August 28, 2013 10:22 am

The first clue that this paper was bogus was the 97% figure. Only in places like N. Korea can you get 97% consensus on anything. Is anyone surprised that Cook, et al, like Mann, et al, refused to provide data for the report? Does the journal have a requirement to provide data?

August 28, 2013 10:27 am

Thanks Richard

August 28, 2013 10:27 am

Why would they have to be identified by name? Why not rater #1, etc>?

Tommy Roche
August 28, 2013 10:29 am

Ever since the (in)famous Doran Survey, this statement that “97% of Scientists agree” has been thrown about by alarmists when faced with difficult questions, or used by journalists to pad out a scary climate story for which little or no evidence existed. There is no doubt in my mind that from the moment John Cook came up this plan, the plan was for re-enforcement of that 97% message. It was ALWAYS going to be the outcome. Anything else just would not do.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
August 28, 2013 10:30 am

dccowboy said on August 28, 2013 at 9:56 am:

This paper appears to be an example of the new ‘post-normal’ science.

Hopefully it’s something unique unto itself, an example of post-science science.

August 28, 2013 10:33 am

This reminds me of Einstein’s response to A Hundred authors against Einstein, published in 1931.
“If I were wrong, then one would have been enough!”

August 28, 2013 10:34 am

I checked IOP and they say “We encourage authors to make their data freely available by publishing it alongside their article as supplementary data at no extra cost. ” In other words, no requirement to provide supporting data. The Journal of the American Chemical Society goes into great details in the author guidelines specifying what data must be presented either in the manuscript or as attachments with the submission. I’d say that Mr. Cook’s publication requirements were a tad less rigorous than others.

August 28, 2013 10:43 am

ZT Aug 28 9:59am: “There’s a university in Queensland?”
There was a James Cook University in Queensland when Bob Carter was there.

August 28, 2013 10:44 am

The lapse in security at SkS Forum has come to haunt us. Among that material, there is a graph that shows, after 16,000 (out of 27,000) ratings were completed, the 11 most active raters and their scores. From there, it is an easy step to say rater 1 = John Cook, rater 2 = Dana Nuccitella, rater 3 = Rob Honeycutt etc.

August 28, 2013 10:58 am

I add my thanks.

Russ R.
August 28, 2013 11:04 am

I’d like to know what scientific credentials were held by the individuals who rated the abstracts. I’d also like to know how impartial they were in interpreting those abstracts.
Actually… on second thought, I don’t really care. It’s a ridiculous paper employing an asinine methodology (rating abstracts), contrived by a delusional author (John Cook) and executed by his cult followers (SkS kidz) focusing on a meaningless concept (consensus) among a group of government funded alarmists and catastrophe theorists (climate scientists) discussing a physical phenomenon (global warming) that is so far turning out to be not nearly as big a deal as all the alarmists made it out to be.
Not wasting any more time on this one.

August 28, 2013 11:11 am

bunch of global warming f-tards……

August 28, 2013 11:28 am

Just pathetic on multiple levels. To think this guy runs Alarmists’ favorite “science” site on global warming.

Matt Bergin
August 28, 2013 11:41 am

I am surprised anyone would complete a survey consisting of 4000 questions. I suspect most people would be checking random boxes well before the 2000th question mark

August 28, 2013 11:49 am

Russ R. at 11:04 am-yes you are. You are going to tweet, facebook, YouTube, email, speak the truth. Just because you know that it’s thoroughly bogus stupidity doesn’t mean that enough other people to make a difference do. Be implacable to your last breath. Success is assured.

August 28, 2013 11:53 am

It is as phoney as a $3 (US) bill.
Sadly, as noted, President Obama is handing these $3 bills out and many folks are saying “if the Presudent is giving these out, they must be good.”

August 28, 2013 12:09 pm

Richard Tol,
I guess that would give new meaning to the expression ‘Manufacturing Consent[sus]’. I guess that could also explain the identity of the raters belonging to the undisclosed 57% of the data – which is why they will never willingly part with it – they’ll go down in flames screaming before they do.
Obviously the SkS kidz have great conviction in their ability to stonewall, and it seems they can rely on others to do their dirty work for them. Of course if, in the long run, it can shown that Cook, Nuccitella, and Honeycutt manufactured half the data themselves, they have only Peter Gleik to look to to be completely sure that NOTHING will come of it. Just never admit anything and after a few difficulty months everything will go back to ‘normal’ – except that your partisans will be even MORE convinced of the correctness of their position. For the rest of us we will have yet another example of the fact that academic institutions are fundamentally incapable of policing their own worst offenders.
“Confidentiality” seems to be ‘the new’ last resort of a scoundrel.

stan stendera
August 28, 2013 12:18 pm

Anthony. You snipped Willis. Holy Cow, that puts me (rarely spanked {snipped}) in very good company.

August 28, 2013 12:22 pm

The irony is that Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad was elected twice by national votes of 97%

August 28, 2013 12:24 pm

Papers that cannot be verified are merely opinions, not science.

August 28, 2013 12:40 pm

Note that 23 of the 24 raters are known: 9 are listed as authors, 12 are mentioned in the acknowledgements, and 2 outed themselves (Tom Curtis and Patrick Lockerby).
The question is whether they all rated in the same way.

August 28, 2013 12:56 pm

Its BS and its ‘effective ‘ BS and that is all that matters , for ‘the cause ‘ justifies all things and little things like scientific honest or integrity mean nothing. Given its author is the cartoonists lapdog its hardly a great shock how poor it is .
But here is a question how much of a percentage of papers published over the last 25 years does 12,000 papers actual represent? For if this number is itself a small percentage , it shows its claims are even more rubbish even if the manner used to produce them was not so poor .

Gail Combs
August 28, 2013 1:01 pm

w.w.wygart says: @ August 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm
….“Confidentiality” seems to be ‘the new’ last resort of a scoundrel.
Unless you are on the internet, or e-mail, or on the phone…..
Pot.. Kettle…

Gunga Din
August 28, 2013 1:05 pm

My interest piqued, I wrote to Mr Cook asking for the underlying data and received 13% of the data by return email. I immediately requested the remainder, but to no avail.

Maybe only the 13% that supported the 97%?

August 28, 2013 1:11 pm

I’m sure Cook would say “why should I give you the data when all you want to do is find something wrong with it.?”

August 28, 2013 1:52 pm

KNR, it’s “effective” to liberals because they repeat it. Other than liberals, is anyone else repeating it? Just because it gets exposure doesn’t make it effective. Effective would be a policy or strategy that converted “non-believers” into “believers.” That isn’t happening. If anything, the more ridiculous and transparent these people get the more average/moderate people begin peeling away. This is now an ideology for TRUE BELIEVERS and true believers alone. That’s why it’s INEFFECTIVE. It’s a liberal litmus test and nothing more. The difference now and then is that before it was harmless to believe this stuff and most people did with a shrug. Now it means your energy bills go up by 20%, regulations stifle buisness and kill jobs. So it’s not as appealling to people anymore, and the “true believers” have responded to these people peeling away with even MORE HYSTERICS. These hysterics are what get coverage. So the only thing, in my opinion, they are accomplishing is having people see, clearly, how weak this “science” actually is. Thus, they are helping to ultimately destroy themselves.

August 28, 2013 1:53 pm

I very much look forward to the answer by U of Qld. Which way will they go? It must be awfully uncomfortable inside the meme nowadays.

Shub Niggurath
August 28, 2013 2:14 pm

One of the authors, Sarah Green, has announced the exact number of abstracts she’s rated on her university.
Sort of puts the lie to Cook’s confidentiality argument.

Scottish Sceptic
August 28, 2013 2:36 pm

I once did my own survey of climate papers and found that over 98% of those covering the impacts of warming failed to mention any benefit and 100% failed to cover any benefit in any meaningful way.

August 28, 2013 2:53 pm

I don’t think Cook is concerned about the numbers per se, although Green doing 1 in 6 is a tad embarrassing.
We know that there is drift in the measurement and we know that the team of raters changed over time. Occam’s Razor suggests that there are systematic differences in the ratings between raters.
If that can be shown, it follows that this was not a survey of the literature, but rather a survey of how people read the literature. The paper thus collapses.

Jeff in Calgary
August 28, 2013 3:06 pm

The biggest problem as I see it is that “the literature” is itself biased. As we have all seen from the climatgate emails, any opposing views have actively been suppresed by the publishing gatekeepers. It is suprising that the number found was only 97%. ..

August 28, 2013 3:28 pm

Matt Bergin says:
August 28, 2013 at 11:41 am
I am surprised anyone would complete a survey consisting of 4000 questions. I suspect most people would be checking random boxes well before the 2000th question mark

That type of “survey” can be considered as 1) slave labor (e.g. students drafted for the duration), 2) beer and booze labor (colleagues lured to help with a promise of beer, whiskey, pizza, etc.), or 3) conviction labor (laborers passionately convinced of their cause). The latter reminds me of R.A.Wilson’s dictum – “convictions make convicts.” From the drop-out rate I suspect the labor pool was drawn from groups two and three. Since members of three are likely to hang in there simply through shear bloody mindedness, that could explain the “drift” as well.

August 28, 2013 3:41 pm

I saw the letter a few days back on JoNova’s site. Tol in the comments says:

Richard Tol
August 28, 2013 at 2:05 am · Reply
Actually, Graeme3, John took the survey himself, so it should be “John Cook (in a survey of himself and 11 others) found …”
Richard Tol
August 28, 2013 at 3:39 am · Reply
“John Cook (in a survey of himself and 11 mates) found”

Oh dear.

August 28, 2013 3:56 pm

Cooks paper has been cooked, it is crap, worse than fairy tales. Below is an essay that clearly shows that Cook’s paper is horseshit.

The Paradox of Consensus – a novel argument on climate change
Theories that can be easily tested should have a high degree of consensus among researchers. Those involving chaotic and less testable questions – climate change or economic growth, physiology or financial markets – ought to have a greater level of scientific disagreement. Yet this is hardly the case for climate science.

To test the questions you need to have the data. What about it Cook?

August 28, 2013 3:59 pm

@ZT and @DaveF
Plus Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University, University of Central Queensland and University of Southern Queensland. We aren’t quite the academic cavemen that ZT seems to think 🙂
To my regret, after what they did to Bob Carter, I also have to admit that James Cook University is my alma mater.

Gail Combs
August 28, 2013 4:00 pm

Jorge says:
August 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm
KNR, it’s “effective” to liberals because they repeat it…. Now it means your energy bills go up by 20%, regulations stifle buisness and kill jobs. So it’s not as appealing to people anymore, and the “true believers” have responded to these people peeling away with even MORE HYSTERICS. …
The problem for the masses is there are two different mind sets. One is The Philosophies Of Karl Marx and Hegel or if I REALLY REALLY BELIEVE than it is TRUE (and I click the ruby slippers three times) IT WILL COME TRUE. For those not insulated inside government bureaucracy and Academia, Mother Nature has a tendency to whomp you up side the head with reality so you lose this belief, especially the belief in the pure Hegelian philosophy.

… According to this philosophy, “the only immutable thing is the abstraction of movement.” The one universal phenomenon is change, and the only universal form of this phenomenon is its complete abstraction. Thus, Hegel accepted as real only that which existed in the mind. Objective phenomena and events were of no consequence; only the conceptions of them possessed by human minds were real. Ideas, not objects, were the stuff of which the universe was made. The universe and all events therein existed and took place only in the mind, and any change was a change in ideas. Therefore, to account for these changes in ideas was to account for change in the universe….
To Marx the thing the mind perceived was realty in itself….
The Marxian dialectic is a universal explanation in two senses. First, it constitutes a philosophical explanation of all categories of realistic phe­nomena. It could be applied to physical, chemical, astronomical, mathe­matical, geological, and all other phenomena as a universal explanation of what exists and is occurring in the universe. Second, it includes the mind of man as a part of the universe within which change through thesis, antithesis, and synthesis constitutes the never-ending creative process. Nothing within the dialectic itself excludes any category of phenomena from its scope…
…. within the scope of social institutions and processes,
Marx contended that one species of phenomena had incomparably greater cre­ative potentalities than any other. These were the economic phenomena, or, to use a Marxian term, the mode of production. According to Marx it was within this economic realm that the basic theses, antitheses, and syntheses existed, and all social institutions were the offshoots of economic forces.….

The IPCC and the CO2 climate control knob has to be view with those philosophies in mind. From their point of view “the basic theses, antitheses, and synthesis” has already occurred “We have a Consensus” Therefore it is time to move on to the implementation phase. This is why those of us still stuck in the “thesis, antithesis” phase are called D*ni*rs. It is not that we deny climate change but that we deny the PROCESS of reaching a “Consensus’
You can see the fingerprints of these philosophies in this NUSAP(Numeral Unit Spread Assessment Pedigree ) definition.

POST-NORMAL SCIENCE – Environmental Policy under Conditions of Complexity
In relation to policy, “the environment” is particularly challenging. It includes masses of detail concerning many particular issues, which require separate analysis and management. At the same time, there are broad strategic issues, which should guide regulatory work, such as those connected with “sustainability”. Nothing can be managed in a convenient isolation…
To engage in these new tasks we need new intellectual tools. A picture of reality designed for controlled experimentation and abstract theory building, can be very effective with complex phenomena reduced to their simple, atomic elements. But it is not best suited for the tasks of environmental policy today. The scientific mind-set fosters expectations of regularity, simplicity and certainty in the phenomena and in our interventions. But these can inhibit the growth of our understanding of the problems and of appropriate methods to their solution. Here we shall introduce and articulate several concepts, which can provide elements of a framework to understand environmental issues. They are all new, and still evolving….
The leading concept is “complexity”. This relates to the structure and properties of the phenomena and the issues for environmental policy. Systems that are complex are not merely complicated; by their nature they involve deep uncertainties and a plurality of legitimate perspectives. Hence the methodologies of traditional laboratory-based science are of restricted effectiveness in this new context.
The most general methodology for managing complex science-related issues is “Post-Normal Science” (Funtowicz and Ravetz 1992, 1993, Futures 1999). This focuses on aspects of problem solving that tend to be neglected in traditional accounts of scientific practice: uncertainty and value loading. It provides a coherent explanation of the need for greater participation in science-policy processes, based on the new tasks of quality assurance in these problem-areas…..
…The insight leading to Post-Normal Science is that in the sorts of issue-driven science relating to environmental debates, typically facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent. Some might say that such problems should not be called “science”; but the answer could be that such problems are everywhere, and when science is (as it must be) applied to them, the conditions are anything but “normal”. For the previous distinction between “hard”, objective scientific facts and “soft”, subjective value-judgements is now inverted. All too often, we must make hard policy decisions where our only scientific inputs are irremediably soft….
The facts that are taught from textbooks in institutions are still necessary, but are no longer sufficient. For these relate to a standardised version of the natural world, frequently to the artificially pure and stable conditions of a laboratory experiment. The world as we interact with it in working for sustainability, is quite different. Those who have become accredited experts through a course of academic study, have much valuable knowledge in relation to these practical problems. But they may also need to recover from the mindset they might absorb unconsciously from their instruction….

So hard scientists “…need to recover from the mindset they might absorb unconsciously from their instruction…” That is the philosophy imbedded in the scientific method must give way to the ‘New Philosophy’
The fact that most people have no training in science or logic and very little training in math makes this ‘Consensus Process’ or ‘Post-Normal Science’ with its appeal to authority a very strong argument. It is only when reality intrudes and bites them on the behind that they reluctantly engage the brain and question what the heck is going on.

August 28, 2013 4:10 pm

> It is no longer a survey of the literature, but rather a survey of Mr Cook and his friends.
You can say that again!

August 28, 2013 4:58 pm

If it weren’t for its being believed by uninformed people, with regrettable results –
I’d say I wouldn’t give a rat’s sphincter even if 97 percent did agree with the CAGW meme and Cook’s conclusion were correct. Like Einstein said, it only takes one experiment – and by extension, one person – to prove a theory wrong. And we’ve got lots of those experiments and persons on the skeptic side.
No amount of consensus can alter a physical fact.

August 28, 2013 5:06 pm

4000 questions? Lets say I can answer 10 questions a minute, that’s 400 minutes or 6 2/3 hours to complete the qustionaire. If the questions were something along the lines of “which of these three numbers is largest”, then I think an average person could achieve 10 answers per minute — maybe a bit better.
But I thought the questions were basically asking the respondents to place each paper into a category. So presumably, the respondent would need to read the abstract, comprehend it, think about it a little bit and then place it in a category. Lets say that take 10 minutes per abstract. Now were talking 40,000 minutes or 667 hours or about 100 days assuming you put about 7 hours per day into it.
What am I missing?

August 28, 2013 5:31 pm

I worked with the now Vice Chancellor some years ago in a previous life. He was an ardent warmist/alarmist. Unless he has changed his views, don’t expect too much in the way of impartiality there.

August 28, 2013 7:32 pm

Reblogged this on Oracle of Liberty and commented:
Bjorn Lomborg, a global warming skeptic but does believe somewhat in AGW, is one of the worlds foremost experts on climate change and its actual true effect on humanity but moreso because the alarmists have hijacked the message concentrating efforts to empower the global elite whereas he shines light on where the focus should be. The poverty stricken people around the world who are neglected so that the Hollywood types can feel good about contributing money to a solar panel farm in Malawi vs using that money to build a clean coal plant or produce clean drinking water. The latter truly helps eradicate poverty and increase living conditions while the solar farm only increases the ‘charitable effect’ of those that sit in the clean coal fired energized homes sipping their cucumber infused clean drinking water.
Bjorn chooses to make a difference on what will actually make a difference. Not what will make a liberal greenie feel better about saving the environment.

Brandon Shollenberger
August 28, 2013 7:49 pm

I’ve tried asking this elsewhere, but I haven’t gotten an answer yet. I’ll try here.
How does one conclude 57% of the data is unreleased? According to Tol, all we’re missing is timestamps (which we don’t know were collected) and rater IDs. That’s ~60,000 data points. There are ~125,000 data points in a single data file released by Cook et al. That’s far more than what Tol says is unreleased. How can more data be released in a single file than is missing if 57% of the data hasn’t been released?
As an additional point, I see Richard Tol says:

The later data release reveals that what the paper describes as measurement error (in either direction) is in fact measurement bias (in one particular direction).

Tol says the suposed measurement error is actually measurement bias. That is, he says there is no random error, only bias. How could this possibly be true? Even if there is measurement bias, we would still expect there to be measurement error.

August 28, 2013 8:39 pm

You wouldn’t expect it, would you?
But we have.
University of Queensland (very highly rated – Cook not withstanding)
Queensland University of Technology
Griffith University
University of Southern Queensland
University of the Sunshine Coast
Central Queensland University
Bond University (Private!)
James Cook University
Australian Catholic University has a campus in Brisbane.
Southern Cross University has a campus in the Gold Coast.
(I’ve actually taught in six of those.)

August 28, 2013 8:44 pm

dccowboy says:
August 28, 2013 at 9:56 am: “…This paper appears to be an example of the new ‘post-normal’ science….” I think the term may be “post-moral science”.

August 29, 2013 12:35 am

That’s indeed one of the key points. The raters read, on average, 2,000 abstracts. Sarah Green read more than 4,000.
This raises two questions. (1) What human would do this voluntarily? Can this person be considered impartial? (2) Can even a highly motivated human do this without loss of focus?
I lose patience with a survey that is too long. I then rush to the end. In a good survey, this is noticed as the time taken to answer a question is recorded.
Given the way this survey was conducted, Cook must have had time stamps. I don’t know whether he saved the data, or saved it and destroyed it later. But it is crucial information to assess the quality of the answers.

August 29, 2013 3:29 am

Richard Tol excellent work following letter.

Brandon Shollenberger
August 29, 2013 4:46 am

Strangely, Richard S.J. Tol says:

Given the way this survey was conducted, Cook must have had time stamps. I don’t know whether he saved the data, or saved it and destroyed it later. But it is crucial information to assess the quality of the answers.

There’s is nothing about the way this survey was conducted that would require timestamps have been collected.

August 29, 2013 6:52 am

I admire Richard Tol’s tenacity, but I feel somewhat like Sancho Panza observing it all.
The question to ask is whether the reviewers realize that we are entering year 17 without atmospheric warming increase.
Think 97% would agree???

August 29, 2013 8:12 am

In reality, the scientists who do not take position could possibly take the position that the data cannot support a clear conclusion. So they would be against a clear conclusion that AGW is real.
It is a three sides debate:
1- AGW is true.
2- AGW is false.
3- There is no way we can tell if AGW is real or not.
Number 3 might be the best conclusion right now.

August 29, 2013 8:25 am

Marc77 8:12 am
No, no, no. It is not a matter of TRUE or FALSE.
It is literally a matter of DEGREE.
1a AGW is true and is a planetary emergency to all life.
1b AGW is true and a mild discomfort for which life will adapt.
1c AGW is true and is benificial to most plants and animals
1d AGW is true, but a political mountain made from a ecological molehill.
1e AGW is true, but its affects are nearly invisible.
1f AGW is true and will put off another ice age by at least a thousand years.

August 29, 2013 8:33 am

Brandon Shollenberger 4:46 am
There’s is nothing about the way this survey was conducted that would require timestamps have been collected.
What if the subjective responses were recorded at super-human rates?
What if the subjective responses are highly correlated sequentially?
What if the subjective responses correlated with the day’s weather?
I can think of NO circumstances that would NOT require timestamps to be collected, particularly given the ease of collection.

August 29, 2013 11:27 am

It was a distributed, computerized survey. Hard to imagine that time stamps were never recorded. Besides, Cook has never told me he could not give me time stamps. Only that he would not.

Brandon Shollenberger
August 29, 2013 3:24 pm

Stephen Rasey, timestamps may have been recorded. They certainly should have been recorded. But unless we know they were recorded, we can’t say they’re being hidden. Cook et al cannot hide data they don’t have.
Richard Tol, it may be “hard to imagine” timestamps weren’t recorded, but that doesn’t mean we know they were. And if we don’t know they were, it’s inappropriate to say they’re being hidden.
By the way, why do you respond to that comment of mine yet not the comment of mine that raises substantial issues with your claims? I argued you’ve massively exaggerated a criticism of Cook et al; you ignored me. I pointed out a minor issue about what data exists; you responded. That’s silly.

August 29, 2013 10:57 pm

I suspected time stamps were recorded, so I asked for them. Cook’s response confirmed that they have them.
As to your other point, I’ve told you before that you’re wrong. No need to repeat that discussion.

Brandon Shollenberger
August 30, 2013 3:45 am

Richard Tol:

I suspected time stamps were recorded, so I asked for them. Cook’s response confirmed that they have them.

It’s weird you never said this before. You didn’t say it when you argued we should believe timestamps were recorded. Unless you’re claiming Cook told you this in the last twelve hours, you’re being inconsistent.

As to your other point, I’ve told you before that you’re wrong. No need to repeat that discussion.

You told me I’m wrong so that’s the end of the story? That’s a fun approach to discussions. Just say, “You’re wrong!” and leave. John Cook should try it with you. I’m sure you’d react with as much disbelief as I do.
The data you say hasn’t been released is approximately 60,000 data points. Over 125,000 data points were released in a single file (you even host that data yourself).
Your numbers don’t add up.

August 30, 2013 4:54 am

Calculations are here “data and graphs”, “data”
The calculations were done on the basis of the information in the paper. These numbers turn out to be only roughly correct but you’d only move far away from my 57% if you count classifications or key strokes. I do not, because I’m not interested.

Brandon Shollenberger
August 30, 2013 11:34 am

Richard Tol, I’ve looked at every file listed on that page, and I didn’t find any such calculations. There is no “data and graphs” file. There are two files listed with that phrase included, “Data and graphs on abstract ratings” and “Bootstrap data and graphs.” Neither has a “data” tab. And as far as I can tell, neither has any sort of calculation that comes up with your 57% missing value. It’s possible I missed something amongst the dozens of tabs in those spreadsheets, but if that’s the case, you ought to provide a reference I can actually use.
I’ve provided numbers for people to use to check my claims. If they don’t believe those numbers, they can look at the data provided and verify it for themselves. It’s simple and easy for them to replicate my work. It’s simple and easy for you to do so. If my numbers are wrong, all you have to do is say so.

These numbers turn out to be only roughly correct but you’d only move far away from my 57% if you count classifications or key strokes. I do not, because I’m not interested.

I’m not quite sure what you mean by “classifications,” and nobody other than you has suggested keystrokes be recorded. Regardless, the question at hand is how much of the data collected by Cook et al has been released. You don’t get to change numbers by saying you’re “not interested” in certain data so you won’t count it.

Shub Niggurath
August 30, 2013 1:44 pm

I believe fatigue, among other things, has an important role in shaping the results of this project. The other major factor is the difficulty accurately classifying the most abundant categories, 3, 4 and 2. The two are inter-related: difficulty in classification worsens rater fatigue, and fatigue forces the raters’ hand and makes them commit ‘errors’ and/or make stereotypical rating choices. Rater time stamps would settle this issue once and for all, out in the open.
It is quite evident Cook et al, in their amateurish manner, anticipated none of the difficulties in performing a study of this type. They have neither the expertise to design a study of this kind, nor the experience to anticipate and plan around the analytic issues. The data that comes out of exercises of this kind is more a reflection of the methodology than the ‘true’ content of the abstracts.
Examining time stamps or keystroke logs should provide a lot of the information required to examine the process (because the process is the result). Now I’m inclined more to think Cook had absolutely no clue such things might be done, or useful, or required. But there is a chance he did record keystrokes and timestamps. If so, he should release the data. If they were not recorded, he should come out straight and say it. Instead of jerking people around and leading them on.

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