Cooks '97% consensus' disproven by a new peer reviewed paper showing major math errors

UPDATE: While this paper (a rebuttal) has been accepted, another paper by Cook and Nuccitelli has been flat out rejected by the journal Earth System Dynamics. See update below. – Anthony

“0.3% climate consensus, not 97.1%”

PRESS RELEASE – September 3rd, 2013

A major peer-reviewed paper by four senior researchers has exposed grave errors in an earlier paper in a new and unknown journal that had claimed a 97.1% scientific consensus that Man had caused at least half the 0.7 Cº global warming since 1950.

A tweet in President Obama’s name had assumed that the earlier, flawed paper, by John Cook and others, showed 97% endorsement of the notion that climate change is dangerous:

“Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” [Emphasis added]

The new paper by the leading climatologist Dr David Legates and his colleagues, published in the respected Science and Education journal, now in its 21st year of publication, reveals that Cook had not considered whether scientists and their published papers had said climate change was “dangerous”.

The consensus Cook considered was the standard definition: that Man had caused most post-1950 warming. Even on this weaker definition the true consensus among published scientific papers is now demonstrated to be not 97.1%, as Cook had claimed, but only 0.3%.  

Only 41 out of the 11,944 published climate papers Cook examined explicitly stated that Man caused most of the warming since 1950. Cook himself had flagged just 64 papers as explicitly supporting that consensus, but 23 of the 64 had not in fact supported it.

This shock result comes scant weeks before the United Nations’ climate panel, the IPCC, issues its fifth five-yearly climate assessment, claiming “95% confidence” in the imagined – and, as the new paper shows, imaginary – consensus.

Climate Consensus and ‘Misinformation’: a Rejoinder to ‘Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change’ decisively rejects suggestions by Cook and others that those who say few scientists explicitly support the supposedly near-unanimous climate consensus are misinforming and misleading the public.

Dr Legates said: “It is astonishing that any journal could have published a paper claiming a 97% climate consensus when on the authors’ own analysis the true consensus was well below 1%.

“It is still more astonishing that the IPCC should claim 95% certainty about the climate consensus when so small a fraction of published papers explicitly endorse the consensus as the IPCC defines it.”

Dr Willie Soon, a distinguished solar physicist, quoted the late scientist-author Michael Crichton, who had said: “If it’s science, it isn’t consensus; if it’s consensus, it isn’t science.” He added: “There has been no global warming for almost 17 years. None of the ‘consensus’ computer models predicted that.”

Dr William Briggs, “Statistician to the Stars”, said: “In any survey such as Cook’s, it is essential to define the survey question very clearly. Yet Cook used three distinct definitions of climate consensus interchangeably. Also, he arbitrarily excluded about 8000 of the 12,000 papers in his sample on the unacceptable ground that they had expressed no opinion on the climate consensus. These artifices let him reach the unjustifiable conclusion that there was a 97.1% consensus when there was not.

“In fact, Cook’s paper provides the clearest available statistical evidence that there is scarcely any explicit support among scientists for the consensus that the IPCC, politicians, bureaucrats, academics and the media have so long and so falsely proclaimed. That was not the outcome Cook had hoped for, and it was not the outcome he had stated in his paper, but it was the outcome he had really found.”

Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, an expert reviewer for the IPCC’s imminent Fifth Assessment Report, who found the errors in Cook’s data, said: “It may be that more than 0.3% of climate scientists think Man caused at least half the warming since 1950. But only 0.3% of almost 12,000 published papers say so explicitly. Cook had not considered how many papers merely implied that. No doubt many scientists consider it possible, as we do, that Man caused some warming, but not most warming.

“It is unscientific to assume that most scientists believe what they have neither said nor written.”

###

Climate Consensus and ‘Misinformation’: A Rejoinder to Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change

David R. Legates, Willie Soon, William M. Briggs, Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11191-013-9647-9

Abstract

Agnotology is the study of how ignorance arises via circulation of misinformation calculated to mislead. Legates et al. (Sci Educ 22:2007–2017, 2013) had questioned the applicability of agnotology to politically-charged debates. In their reply, Bedford and Cook (Sci Educ 22:2019–2030, 2013), seeking to apply agnotology to climate science, asserted that fossil-fuel interests had promoted doubt about a climate consensus. Their definition of climate ‘misinformation’ was contingent upon the post-modernist assumptions that scientific truth is discernible by measuring a consensus among experts, and that a near unanimous consensus exists. However, inspection of a claim by Cook et al. (Environ Res Lett 8:024024, 2013) of 97.1 % consensus, heavily relied upon by Bedford and Cook, shows just 0.3 % endorsement of the standard definition of consensus: that most warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. Agnotology, then, is a two-edged sword since either side in a debate may claim that general ignorance arises from misinformation allegedly circulated by the other. Significant questions about anthropogenic influences on climate remain. Therefore, Legates et al. appropriately asserted that partisan presentations of controversies stifle debate and have no place in education.

================================================================

UPDATE: – Cook and Nuccitelli paper rejected:

Bishop Hill writes:

The Benestad (Cook, Nuccitelli) et al paper on “agnotology”, a bizarre concoction that tried to refute just about every sceptic paper ever written has been rejected by Earth System Dynamics

Based on the reviews and my own reading of the original and revised paper, I am rejecting the paper in its current form. The submission is laudable in its stated goals and in making the R source code available, but little else about the paper works as a scientific contribution to ESD. While I think as an ESDD publication at least a discussion was had and the existence of the R routines has been brought to the attention of the various interested communities, the manuscript itself is not a good fit for this journal and would need substantial further revisions before being ready (if ever) for this journal.
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Steve Keohane

‘If it’s consensus, it isn’t science’ says it all.

JimS

Is Mr. Cook being thrown under the bus, now that scientists are re-discovering the 60-year-climate cycle? How so very shocking.

Galvanize

Agnatology has been promptly added to my vocabulary.

All of this is of little relevance now – something about closing the barn door…
The sad truth is the claim of 97% achieved its objective, which was political from the start. When it is quoted by the US President it comes with all the unearned authority people ascribe to that position.

Still no mention of the fallacy of assuming the opinions found in a paper written 20 years ago are the same the author holds today?

rogerknights

“The new paper by the leading climatologist Dr David Legates and his colleagues, . . . ”

Any notable names among them?

pablo4200

No, it was supposed to say that it was Mann who caused it by spewing all that hot air!

MAK

Lin to the paper mentioned is missing.

MattN

How was this accomplished when Cook refused to release all the data and methodologies?

DC Cowboy

I think using the term ‘most’ or ‘more than’ was ambiguous and confusing, i.e. unscientific. The term ‘most’ as used in the paper could mean ‘at least half’ (the interpretation shown above), but, it could also mean ‘more than any other factor’, which is not necessarily ‘at least half’. ‘Most’ could mean ‘plurality’ rather than ‘majority’. That and ‘man made’ contribution to warming comprises several factors besides CO2 – land use changes, Urban Heat, etc are all ‘man made contributions’ to warming.

David Blake

“MAK says:
Lin to the paper mentioned is missing.”
Here:
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11191-013-9647-9

Second Galvanize comment. Learn a new term a day!
@Tim Ball – I agree it is political. 97% is a marketing tool and that is why Cook even used it when his own figures showed 98%

David L. Hagen

Rejoinder to Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change
David R. Legates, Willie Soon, William M. Briggs, Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

Agnotology is the study of how ignorance arises via circulation of misinformation calculated to mislead. Legates et al. (Sci Educ 22:2007–2017, 2013) had questioned the applicability of agnotology to politically-charged debates. In their reply, Bedford and Cook (Sci Educ 22:2019–2030, 2013), seeking to apply agnotology to climate science, asserted that fossil-fuel interests had promoted doubt about a climate consensus. Their definition of climate ‘misinformation’ was contingent upon the post-modernist assumptions that scientific truth is discernible by measuring a consensus among experts, and that a near unanimous consensus exists. However, inspection of a claim by Cook et al. (Environ Res Lett 8:024024, 2013) of 97.1 % consensus, heavily relied upon by Bedford and Cook, shows just 0.3 % endorsement of the standard definition of consensus: that most warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. Agnotology, then, is a two-edged sword since either side in a debate may claim that general ignorance arises from misinformation allegedly circulated by the other. Significant questions about anthropogenic influences on climate remain. Therefore, Legates et al. appropriately asserted that partisan presentations of controversies stifle debate and have no place in education.

Papers on Agnotology
& on
Agnotology & Climate

David L. Hagen

Correction: Papers on: Agnotology Climate

David L. Hagen

Daniel Bedford, & John Cook respond: Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change: A Response to Legates, Soon and Briggs

“However, the critique is based on a comprehensive misinterpretation of Bedford’s (J Geogr 109(4):159–165, 2010) paper. . . . the existence of a scientific consensus—especially one as overwhelming as exists for human-induced climate change—raises the level of confidence that the overall findings of that consensus are correct.”

Richard Feynman disagreed:

If (the model) disagrees with experiment (nature, data, observation) it is wrong”

Do the models match the evidence? Judge for yourself with Roy Spencer’s comparison:
Still Epic Fail: 73 climate models vs measurement – running 5 year means
Richard Feynman (1974) further detailed the high level of integrity required for science. See his lecture Cargo Cult Science, Caltech 1974
Highly recommend reviewing Feynman (1974) in context of Bedford & Cook.

@njsnowfan

OT Anthony, when I see cheery picking tweets like this from Al Gore and winter is not over yet, people need to know.
https://twitter.com/algore/status/374913063298039808
http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/world/nz-has-warmest-winter-on-record/story-e6frfkui-1226709947022

rogerknights

Two and three years ago WUWTers would sometimes comment that a new skeptical paper was “the last nail in the CAGW coffin.” I demurred then, responding that “It’s another arrow in the elephant–but it takes a lot of arrows to kill an elephant.” I now believe that the elephant is getting wobbly on his pins–i.e., that the tide has turned. What a crash it will make when Dumbo topples.

Londo

CAGW hypothesis is falling apart at an impressive rate. Is it possible that climate scientists are now involved in what amounts to the game of musical chairs and have begun jockeying for, what they perceive, the reduced number of positions in climate science by publishing simply the facts instead of hyperbole.

Mike Bromley the Kurd

I honestly can’t imagine what Cook must be like in person. I know this is slithering sideways on the slippery slope of ad hominem, but honestly, how does he or CAN he stand face-to-face with someone and in all conviction and seriousness, assert such baloneyous claptrap? This seems the stuff of pathology. He is not truthful. Not even CLOSE. Yet there are those enabling types (albeit from an obscure new journal) that will endorse this as some kind of scientific exercise and result. It makes me ill to think that sceptics have to engage this nitwit (we do!) and disprove his assertions. But it takes valuable resources better spent doing real science instead of smashing trash.

John West

What y’all don’t seem to realize is that there is a little known law of nature that applies here known as Cook’s Law: Cartoonist turned climatologist consensus quantification measured in percent adherents = any calculation which results in approximately 97%.
(/sarc)

JimS

@njsnowfan
Al Gore would never mention that some of the subtropical and tropical countries of South America – Peru, Bolivia, Brazil – have had one of the coldest winters on record with tens of thousands of livestock freezing to death and scores of people dying from hypothermia, all under several feet of snow where snow has never fallen before. He should mention this, I think, and call it the result of global warming.

Louis Hooffstetter

Tim Ball says:
“The sad truth is the claim of 97% achieved its objective, which was political from the start. When it is quoted by the US President it comes with all the unearned authority people ascribe to that position.”
Whoever is pulling the President’s strings is a master of Agnotology. He could teach graduate level courses. I know this new paper is not likely to get much press, but now that Cook’s ‘research’ has been exposed as ‘mierda’, hopefully more voters will finally realize just how little the President really knows (or cares) about climate science.
And the only thing Cook’s research conclusively demonstrates is that he is a propagandist. He is not, and likely never was a scientist.

Felflames

MattN says:
September 3, 2013 at 9:01 am
How was this accomplished when Cook refused to release all the data and methodologies?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Back engineering.
You know what the result was.
You know what the basic assumptions were.
You know what the raw data was.
Not too difficult to re-engineer the methodology of construction.

Mike Smith

97% versus 0.3%. Close enough for climate work!

Berry Orr

@nsjnowfan
Al probably didn;t see this, either..”Record cold continues in Interior Alaska” …http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_news/record-cold-continues-in-interior-alaska/article_8ea38680-bd2f-11e2-b62c-0019bb30f31a.html

Paul

Wouldn’t it be much easier to simply email a survey to the authors of the ‘12000 papers’ and ask the specific question: “Are you convinced that since 1950, mankind’s CO2 emissions are responsible for at least 50% of the increase in global temperature?” Seems like it would be quicker to get contact information from each paper versus attempting to divine the author’s beliefs when not explicitly stated.

Chuck L

AGW trolls, on your marks, set, go!

Bob Koss

The rejected agnotology paper by Benestad et al was discussed at RC this past June. They mention having previously submitted it elsewhere(evidently a couple times) and also having it rejected.
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/06/a-new-experiment-with-science-publication/

Bill Illis

The President did not tweet the 97% consensus point.
The President signed over his twitter account to a group called “Organizing for Action”. If the President actually puts in a tweet, it is signed -bo at the end. Otherwise it is the lobby group writing the tweets.
He didn’t sign that “97% of scientists agree …” with -bo so it is was just another left-wing organization writing it.

philincalifornia

Is there any retribution for making a US President look like an idiot ??

@Philincalifornia – Ask Cory Booker.

Dan

“Leading climatologist” Dr. David Legates is also a signatory of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation’s “An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming” which states, in part:
“We believe Earth and its ecosystems — created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence — are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception.”
My, how scientific!
I wonder if he’d sign on to a declaration that the Earth is 10,000 years old and that humans and dinosaurs lived together. That is also an evangelical belief, after all.
You can read the whole declaration here: http://www.cornwallalliance.org/articles/read/an-evangelical-declaration-on-global-warming/
It’s a hoot.

pokerguy

@Paul “Wouldn’t it be easier…?
I’ve been arguing for a long time that a statistically sound survey would be the way to go, something unbiased to the extent possible and well designed. For reasons that continue to escape me, it remains an unpopular idea.

Physics Major

I’m waiting for the new journal, Nature Agnotology.

“When it is quoted by the US President it comes with all the unearned authority people ascribe to that position.”
If you’ve been watching the news, you’ve noticed that there’s precious little of that left. Just sayin’.

dp

The new paper, itself being an agnotology, seems to be a good example of what they’re trying to describe in their paper. It is also an example of self-referencing.

richard telford

Shock news: gravity consensus in doubt as only 0.3% of papers with gravity in title explicitly endorse gravity as being responsible for more than 50% of falling.

wayne

Ok, so John Cook forgot to subtract from one and he was still 1000% off the mark but he is just trying to be a climate “scientist”, cartooning as a living must have been getting a bit thin, at least those jobs are related. Give him a break? Didn’t think so.
“Is there any retribution for making a US President look like an idiot ??”
No, this one turned out to BE an idiot. (had a real bad feeling voting for this guy with smooth words but still think the opposite would have been the worse… just should have abstained)
// sarc

Corey S.

From the rejection PDF. PRICELESS!
“Second, much of the discussion in the appendix is written in an inflammatory and
insufficiently supported fashion.”
“Third, while much is made that so-and-so made mistakes, much of that characterization
relies solely on the authors’ stated opinion. … Let me emphasize this point since it goes to the heart of this paper. I see very little in this paper that actually demonstrates real flaws in prior work.”
“If one ignores that foundation as most of the studies being criticized in this submission do, then one is left with unconstrained statistical analyses or curve fitting exercises that have no
clear plausible, physically viable explanation. The reality is that many of the authors
whose work is being criticized are on the record as thinking that either climate theory
and/or climate models are fundamentally flawed, hence the adopt the kind of approach
which leads them to conclusions that are in opposition to the vast majority of climate
scientists. Again, this can be said in two sentences.”
It doesn’t get any harsher than that!

Tom Moriarty
mark

Arguing over consensus is pointless to anyone that understands the scientific method. The late Michael Crichton said it well in a talk to Cal Tech:
“I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.
Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.
There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”

george h.

Proof that, as Mark Twain said,
“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

Mark Bofill

Dan,

says:
September 3, 2013 at 11:30 am
“Leading climatologist” Dr. David Legates is also a signatory of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation’s “An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming”

So what? After all, you demonstrate in your post that you think logical fallacies are a good basis for rational arguments, but we don’t hold that stupidity against you do we?

rogerknights

pokerguy says:
September 3, 2013 at 11:35 am
@Paul “Wouldn’t it be easier…?
I’ve been arguing for a long time that a statistically sound survey would be the way to go, something unbiased to the extent possible and well designed. For reasons that continue to escape me, it remains an unpopular idea.

I’ve been calling for that too–especially for George Mason U. to rerun its survey of AGU & AMU members.

David L. Hagen

The Interactive Discussionon “Agnotology: learning from mistakes” is enlightening and entertaining.
C. Loehle

This paper makes two fundamental assumptions that are false. The first is that the science of climate change is “settled” and that this consensus cannot be questioned. The second, which therefore follows, is that anyone questioning this consensus does so willfully and malevolently (intentionally promoting ignorance). . . .Confusing “some” effect with an effect as large as IPCC claims is how Cook got the 97% figure in his recent study. . . .The second assumption is pernicious.
It asserts that anyone who disagrees with this (sloppy) consensus in any particular is
not merely wrong, but willfully wrong; that is, is engaged in disinformation or propaganda. “Agnotology” is thus just a fancy way of saying “denier.” . . .We think the quality of the fit and the fact that our data 1850-1950 enabled us to predict the post-2000 flat temperatures speaks for itself.

Reviewer Ross McKitrick observes:

The BHDCN paper is a bait-and-switch, in which the authors propose a scholarly essay on the methodology of science, then proceed to deliver something quite different: a scattershot of shallow commentary on a list of climatology papers with which they disagree. . . .
Presumably, “agnotology” means an absence of information and a lack of basis for knowing. Yet all
the authors’ examples allege the opposite situation, . . .
Case 12 refers to McKitrick and McIntyre 2005, which focused on the bias arising from using
decentered data in a PCA algorithm that is only valid when the data are centered. . . .The authors do not seem to have taken the trouble to properly research the issue, and as such their brief commentary lacks credibility

Nicola Scafetta provided a 32 page rebuttal

despite their “good intentions”, Benestad et al. (2013) do not really demonstrate anything because often they do not even make explicit the functions they use or their data analysis results or figures. . . . In history of science the same flawed superficial logic has been often used by those who have opposed the emerging physical theories proposed since the 16th centuries from Galileo to Einstein and beyond. This work does not serve a scientific purpose, but a political one.

The ESDD editor Matthew Huber observes:

i.e. there is no actual science (hypothesis, testing of a hypothesis) in the main body. . . .
Second, much of the discussion in the appendix is written in an inflammatory and insufficiently supported fashion. . . .
Rather than concentrating on ignorant mistakes made in prior work, it would help to identify the key parameters in those studies and justify a priori what the value of those should be

Copernicus34

@Dan
somehow the vaunted ‘peer review’ is the be all end all of AGW sophistry, yet peer review supporting a skeptic viewpoint is not really valid peer review, because……you know….that guy don’t fit!!
AGW religionists, having their cake and eating it too

David L. Hagen

Dan
Which part of ” robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting” do you not understand?
Have you any evidence to the contrary, other than appealing to climate models which ALL project too hot compared to actual data.
Invective without evidence has no basis in science.
Re the Cornwall Alliance. Note especially The Cost of Good Intentions Timothy Terrell, (which also applies to Cook’s paper above).
Perhaps you could study how the USA was founded by the Declaration of Independence which appealed to “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them” and “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
Are you objecting to the unalienable right of speech which we grant you here?
Or would you prefer some of the abundant accommodation that is left over in Siberia? as part of the Gulag, as so eloquently documented by Nobel Prize winner Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley

george h.
Actually, Mark Twain never made that remark. It was an English preacher called Charles Spurgeon. I would say that it is ironic (given that it is a lie that Mark Twain said it), but it isn’t irony, as irony is THE most misunderstood rhetorical device!

Birdieshooter

I sense it is no longer fashionable or cool to be a scientist on the warmist side. Now they see the hand writing on the wall and dont want to miss the sea change in salient scientific inquiry. The avant garde is switching sides.

Chris R.

To Mike Bromley:
You wrote: ” …but honestly, how does he or CAN he stand face-to-face with
someone and in all conviction and seriousness, assert such baloneyous
claptrap? This seems the stuff of pathology. ”
Not really. He’s utterly convinced that HE is right, and anyone else is
wrong. This is a common feature among the so-called “Religious Left”.
Recall that Cook styles himself as someone who takes his Christian
faith extremely seriously. Those who have concluded that their
Christianity means they must speak out on “climate change” are
armored in the certainty of their position. This attitude combines the
unlovely traits of religious certitude and fervor with political
partisanship into a stew that produces appalling disregard for
both one’s opponents and scientific accuracy.
My only comment is that everywhere in the Christian (New) Testament’s
gospels, Jesus was armored by the certainty of His correctness.
However, He had the priceless advantage of a direct link to the
Maker of the Universe. Cook does not have that, no matter
what he thinks. I also think that any Christian who begins from
the point of view that his opponents are all either wrong or venal
scoundrels, has some repenting to do.

The Old Crusader

@Dan:
Let’s imagine some researcher, call him say Gregor Mendel, that has done valuable work on genetics.
Let us also say that he claims that the beauty of genetics indicates to him divine authorship of the world.
Some third party suggests that his work on genetics is invalidated by his theological viewpoint.
Now, it’s clear that the readers of this blog are unlikely to be swayed by such an argument as obviously, said researcher’s opinions on the divine say nothing about the quality of his work on genetics.
So why do you bother?