Brandon Shollenberger writes: I’ve been mulling over an idea I had, and I wanted to get some public feedback. What would you think of a public re-analysis of the Cook et al data set?
A key criticism of the Cook et al paper is they didn’t define the “consensus” they were looking for. There’s a lot of confusion as to whether that “consensus” position is weak (e.g. the greenhouse effect is real) or strong (e.g. humans are the primary culprits). The reason for that is Cook et al tried to combine both definitions into one rating, meaning they had no real definition.
You can see a discussion of that here.
I think it’d be interesting to examine the same data with sensible definitions. Instead of saying there’s a “97% consensus,” we could say “X% believe in global warming, Y% say humans are responsible for Z% of it.” That’d be far more informative. It’d also let us see if rating abstracts is even a plausibly useful approach for measuring a consensus.
My current thinking is to create a web site where people will be able to create accounts, log in and rate a particular subsample of the Cook et al data. I’m thinking 100 “Endorse AGW” abstracts to start with should be enough. After enough ratings have been submitted (or enough time has passed), I’ll break off the ratings, post results and start ratings on another set of abstracts.
The results would allow us to see tallies of how each abstract was rated (contrasted with the Cook et al ratings). I’m thinking I’d also allow raters to leave comments on abstracts to explain themselves, and these would be displayed as well. Finally, individual raters’ ratings could be viewed on a page to look for systematic differences in views.
What do you guys think? Would you be interested in something like this? Do you have things you’d like added or removed from it? Most importantly, do you think it’d be worth the effort? I’d be happy to create it, but it would take a fair amount of time and effort. It’d also take some money for hosting costs. I’d like to have an idea of if it’d be worth it.
An added bonus to doing it would be I could move my blog to that site as well. Self-hosting WordPress takes more effort than using WordPress.com, but it allows for far more customization. I’d love that.
So, thoughts? Questions? Concerns?
By the way, don’t hesitate to tell me I’m a fool if you think I’m spending too much time on the Cook et al issue. I’ve been telling myself that for the last two weeks.
My opinion is that given the vast number of people interested in this at WUWT, we could likely crowd-source this work much more accurately and quickly than Cook did, without having to fall back on a small cadre of “like minded friends”. Both sides of the aisle can participate.
I don’t know what the result will be of such an analysis proposed by Brandon, but I do know that we can get far more participants from a much broader venue (since WUWT has almost an order of magnitude more reach than “Skeptical Science”) and that Brandon’s attention to detail will be an asset.
We already know many of the mistakes made in Cook’s work, so a re-do has the advantage out of the gate. This disadvantage may be that the gatekeepers at IOP may refuse to publish it, and University of Queensland may publish yet another bogus legal threat, since they seem tickled that Cooks 97% is the subject of worldwide gossip – Anthony