Laughable claim: Presenting facts as ‘consensus’ bridges conservative-liberal divide over climate change

From the  UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE and the “I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn” department. These fools really believe the horrendously flawed 97% consensus argument, which has been refuted by other scientific papers, wins over conservatives in the climate change debate. I’m reminded of this quote from Mark Twain:

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. – Mark Twain

Presenting facts as ‘consensus’ bridges conservative-liberal divide over climate change

In the murk of post-truth public debate, facts can polarise. Scientific evidence triggers reaction and spin that ends up entrenching the attitudes of opposing political tribes.

Recent research suggests this phenomenon is actually stronger among the more educated, through what psychologists call ‘motived reasoning’: where data is rejected or twisted – consciously or otherwise – to prop up a particular worldview.

However, a new study in the journal Nature Human Behaviour finds that one type of fact can bridge the chasm between conservative and liberal, and pull people’s opinions closer to the truth on one of the most polarising issues in US politics: climate change.

Previous research has broadly found US conservatives to be most sceptical of climate change. Yet by presenting a fact in the form of a consensus – “97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused global warming is happening” – researchers have now discovered that conservatives shift their perceptions significantly towards the scientific ‘norm’.

In an experiment involving over 6,000 US citizens, psychologists found that introducing people to this consensus fact reduced polarisation between higher educated liberals and conservatives by roughly 50%, and increased conservative belief in a scientific accord on climate change by 20 percentage points.

Moreover, the latest research confirms the prior finding that climate change scepticism is indeed more deeply rooted among highly educated conservatives. Yet exposure to the simple fact of a scientific consensus neutralises the “negative interaction” between higher education and conservatism that strongly embeds these beliefs.

“The vast majority of people want to conform to societal standards, it’s innate in us as a highly social species,” says Dr Sander van der Linden, study lead author from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Psychology.

“People often misperceive social norms, and seek to adjust once they are exposed to evidence of a group consensus,” he says, pointing to the example that college students always think their friends drink more than they actually do.

“Our findings suggest that presenting people with a social fact, a consensus of opinion among experts, rather than challenging them with blunt scientific data, encourages a shift towards mainstream scientific belief – particularly among conservatives.”

For van der Linden and his co-authors Drs Anthony Leiserowitz and Edward Maibach from Yale and George Mason universities in the US, social facts such as demonstrating a consensus can act as a “gateway belief”: allowing a gradual recalibration of private attitudes.

“Information that directly threatens people’s worldview can cause them to react negatively and become further entrenched in their beliefs. This ‘backfire effect’ appears to be particularly strong among highly educated US conservatives when it comes to contested issues such as manmade climate change,” says van der Linden.

“It is more acceptable for people to change their perceptions of what is normative in science and society. Previous research has shown that people will then adjust their core beliefs over time to match. This is a less threatening way to change attitudes, avoiding the ‘backfire effect’ that can occur when someone’s worldview is directly challenged.”

For the study, researchers conducted online surveys of 6,301 US citizens that adhered to nationally representative quotas of gender, age, education, ethnicity, region and political ideology.

The nature of the study was hidden by claims of testing random media messages, with the climate change perception tests sandwiched between questions on consumer technology and popular culture messaging.

Half the sample were randomly assigned to receive the ‘treatment’ of exposure to the fact of scientific consensus, while the other half, the control group, did not.

Researchers found that attitudes towards scientific belief on climate change among self-declared conservatives were, on average, 35 percentage points lower (64%) than the actual scientific consensus of 97%. Among liberals it was 20 percentage points lower.

They also found a small additional negative effect: when someone is highly educated and conservative they judge scientific agreement to be even lower.

However, once the treatment group were exposed to the ‘social fact’ of overwhelming scientific agreement, higher-educated conservatives shifted their perception of the scientific norm by 20 percentage points to 83% – almost in line with post-treatment liberals.

The added negative effect of conservatism plus high education was completely neutralised through exposure to the truth on scientific agreement around manmade climate change.

“Scientists as a group are still viewed as trustworthy and non-partisan across the political spectrum in the US, despite frequent attempts to discredit their work through ‘fake news’ denunciations and underhand lobbying techniques deployed by some on the right,” says van der Linden.

“Our study suggests that even in our so-called post-truth environment, hope is not lost for the fact. By presenting scientific facts in a socialised form, such as highlighting consensus, we can still shift opinion across political divides on some of the most pressing issues of our time.”


The paper (paywalled): 

It should be noted that the authors, listed below, are well known for trying to enforce the consensus with “studies” like these.

  1. Department of Psychology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

    • Sander van der Linden
  2. Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

    • Anthony Leiserowitz
  3. Center for Climate Change Communication, Department of Communication, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA

    • Edward Maibach

newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Ignorance is contagious. Who knew?


Science by ouija board, you just need 97% to agree with seance session 🙂

irritable Bill

Or lie to them about the ouija board consensus, adding that if you don’t agree with the consensus you must be some kind of nut….

Sweet Old Bob

The Emperors’ new clothes are sooo wonderful …


And contain no petroleum-based fibers.


“Treatment”???? That basically says you are sick if you don’t agree with global warming. Let’s test if people are more likely to agree with global warming if we tell them they are sick if they don’t. I wonder how that would fly. “Line up here and get your treatment, my little contrarians”……(evil laugh).


Straight out of Uncle Joe Stalin’s playbook – if you disagreed with The State, then you were by definition “mentally ill”, and could be immediately taken into custody and given “treatment” for you own good.

Proof that you were well took the form of extensive confessions from those subjected to this treatment, and tearful promises to always Love the State and Obey the State and never Contradict the State on anything ever again.


My grandfather was treated like that. He spent 16 years in Lubyanka for his vocal opposition to Stalin. He never recanted or regretted it.


Jerome, I honour your grandfather.


So, if you present people with misleading information about an issue they might change their mind, is that their claim?


Propaganda defined is still propaganda…at least 97 % of the time.


Yes, reading this I was reminded of propaganda written in the 1930s by one Dr. Goebbels. They seem to keep regurgitating that work and not even realize where it leads.

Propaganda has very little to do with fact or science. It relies on numerous logical fallacies to progress, but is in the realm of psychology. They learn to change peoples’ minds, but not what is real.


According to a certain Herr Goebells…………“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Replace “State’ with whatever organisation holds political/social power

Bro. Steve

People who have worked with real-world temperature measurement know that it’s devilishly difficult to measure the temperature of something big and end up with a reasonable number. The bigger something is, the less meaningful it becomes to say it’s “this temperature.”

At some point, it becomes nonsense. No reasonable person would claim that “the temperature of Hawaii” is thus-and-so. The temperature of Hawaii isn’t even a thing.

Yet when guys put on a white lab coat and make pronouncements about the temperature of the entire earth, suddenly they’re high priests of the Science God, and disagreement is blasphemy.

Bill Powers

Bro stop! common sense has no place in a Political Science discussion, especially one that has already been settled by popular vote.


Now add virtually unlimited government funding, secret climate alarmist computer software code and a compliant media and whaddaya got?


They already have Brexit from reality and the facts provide consensus. Or something like that


Cambridge University has “form” in the “intelligent but idiot” category.
Remember Professor Wahdams?

AGW is not Science

So basically, when you present bald-faced lies about the proportion of “scientists” who supposedly “agree” on the notion of human-induced climate catastrophe, you can “convince” more people to “believe” in CAGW BS. Sounds like the definition of “propaganda” to me.


Chapter 24 of Rupert Darwall’s book “Green Tyranny” talks about the spiral of silence as the way that consensus is enforced.


The 97% consensus is the argument …and if you don’t agree you are a science denier. So maybe that is the best thing to address. Who says that 97% of scientists agree with a AGW? Where did that come from? Is it true?

Bryan A

If you repeat a fabrication continuously, does that make it true?


It is true if you send out 5000 questionnaires and then throw out all the answers that don’t have what you have predetermined to be the “correct” credentials and thus wind up giving the result on fewer than 10% of respondents.

Also if you ask the question as “Do you think that some of the late 20th century warming is human caused?” or some similar wording where most people would answer – probably, it is theoretically true barring strong negative feedbacks, and thus mark yes. Then as a dishonest researcher who really needs the grant money, you write that up as 97% agree with the CAGW theory.


“Who says that 97% of scientists agree with a AGW? Where did that come from? Is it true?”

No, it’s a damn lie created by CAGW advocates to promote the CAGW narrative. As the article says: “The vast majority of people want to conform to societal standards, it’s innate in us as a highly social species,”, so if you lie about the societal standard and claim 97 percent of scientists agree with CAGW, then you have created a powerful propaganda weapon to use in the battle.

Every time you hear an alarmist on tv arguing their case, they always bring up the 97 percent lie because it is effective, if one believes it.


Not like psychology is science but, maybe they could figure out why the followers of CAGW get so extremely upset when you tell them your a heretic to that religion.


It defines who they are. You’re attacking their personhood, their “soul”.

Tom Halla

So what are they proposing to do, institute “treatment” like “A Clockwork Orange”?
This rather reminds me of the later Soviet practice of dealing with prominent political dissidents through “psychiatry”, to “treat their antisocial condition”.


I guess we can expect more of the studies since their science is not holding up…

I’m waiting on the handbook…”How to trick intelligent people into believe your total bull crap”


What you believe or how you feel about a fact is not relevant to whether the fact is true or not. Hard sciences are not social political constructs. We do not get to vote on the correct answers. We may record our opinions, but that does not effect the correctness of our answers.


Aren’t these the same people that tell Christians (believe in God, etc) that there is no God?

Richard Greene

I tell the conservatives there is no god.

And I tell the liberals the coming global warming disaster is a hoax.

The word “hoax” makes them go berserk, because Donald Trump used it.

Really high IQ, rich, liberals know nothing about climate science,
except CO2 is evil, and 97% of scientists say so.

Unfortunately, I have to wear a steel helmet at all times.

Beliefs and faith are all nonsense to me,
whether part of a conventional religion or a secular religion (CAGW).

That’s why we libertarians are lucky to get 1% of the US vote!

In the history of science,
the “consensus” is almost always wrong,
from slightly wrong to completely wrong.

Beware of any consensus of leftists —
they can’t think straight with Trump as president.

Not that they could think straight with Obama,
and his 1.5% average economic growth rate
over his eight years!



“I tell the conservatives there is no god.”

“Beliefs and faith are all nonsense to me …”

It is utterly impossible to know that there is no God, even if there is no God . . (while the opposite is not impossible to know, since if a God does exist It could, by definition, inform one of It’s existence.) So, clearly you must be telling them based on your belief that there is no God.

I suggest you avoid acting like YOUR belief is not belief . . ; )


Why, Anthony? Do you actually think your “opponents’ are not going to attempt to woo and sway Believers? You must realize that the bulk of “conservatives” (in the US anyway) are Believers . . Do you WANT them to see climate alarm skeptics as the side that hates their guts? (That’s what I suspect, based on your treatment of me, sir.)


Thanks for the reminder, good for me as well. In the heat of the comment reply, sometimes I forget your policies. I do not want to step over those bounds, although sometimes I do. Thank you for tolerance.
The topics here are so varied in content and breadth sometimes is quite broad, beyond science. It is what humanity is. We are often way beyond science as humans. Call it our human weakness. Good and bad.
Fortunately we are not all Mr Spoke’s of Vulcan. Nor are we all Dr McCoy’s.



I’m a Libertarian, and I believe in God.
The idea that only conservatives, and at that, all conservatives, believe in God is silly.


[snip – Sorry, but I’m not going to argue with you over religious viewpoints and comments here, either adhere to the commenting policy set forth, or you’ll find your comments deleted and at some point if you keep it up, you’ll find yourself banned after being warned. It’s really simple to get along here – don’t bring religion into comments per the policy. Your choice if you want to continue down this path or not, but we don’t have other commenters that have a problem with this. Kind regards, – Anthony]


Huh? Your beliefs are to be treated as unquestionable absolute truth . . here on your website, anyway? You sure had me fooled, sir, I thought you were fighting against such . .”elitism” in science. I’m stunned . .

[One more time, “Certain topics are not welcome here and comments concerning them will be deleted. This includes topics on religion, discussions of barycentrism, astrology, aliens, bigfoot, chemtrails, 911 Truthers, Obama’s Birth Certificate, HAARP, UFO’s, Electric Universe, mysticism, and other topics not directly related to the thread.”, that is part of the blog policy for commenting. You have been warned twice now…. ] MOD

Bob Denby

The most appropriate observation rocketscientist. “Opinions” are acceptable as hypotheses, not scientific findings.

Pat Frank

Talk to a recent college graduate, rocketscientist. They’re likely to tell you everything is subjective, including science. And if you disagree, you might well be a racist.


Except re climate science.
They seem to feel it is not an opinion that CAGW is bedrock science, and CO2 is the temp control knob of the atmosphere.
The dogma is fact to them, and hence den!ers, settled, and all the rest of the warmista jackassery.


I’m a highly educated conservative skeptic. Since I have a science degree you wouldn’t sway me with the 97% consensus argument. Science is inherently a skeptical process.

Richard Greene

I have a science degree too, so what?
Nothing I learned in college prepared me for
the politics of climate change and the claims
of a coming climate catastrophe.

A coming catastrophe back then
was the period of time after we attached
a rubber hose to two high pressure faucets,
in chem. lab, and before the water explosion.

It’s not just a 97% “consensus”,
it is a 97% “consensus”, with 95% confidence,
soon to be 105% confidence, so even if 5%
of the climate computer gamers change their minds,
they are still at 100% confidence!

Back in 1997 it took me about ten minutes to see the scam,
as I wondered how anyone could measure the surface temperature,
of the ocean. When I read about the sailors and their buckets,
I knew “global warming” was junk science

I think geologists must be the most skeptical of CAGW, because the geologic record of the Earth shows the swings of climate from hot to cold very well, and also because two of the most vitriolic arguments in science occurred in geology, and THE most vitriolic certainly dragged geology into it.

The arguments involving the geology of the creation of the Channeled Scablands of Washington state, and those regarding Continental Drift/Plate Tectonics, resulting in much name-calling and mud-slinging that went on for decades in both those discussions before they were settled — scientifically, and not by consensus.

The endless arguments regarding evolution also pulled geologists into the fray, as fossils were so important to both sides — and being rocks, were useful for beating one’s enemies over the head..


Even a cursory knowledge of Earth history is sufficient to invalidate CAGW, as I see it.
As such, we see it is completely ignored, sidestepped, spoken around, and basically subjected to all manner of illogic and sophistry.


“The noun ignorance is not a synonym for “stupidity,” since its meaning is closer to “being uninformed” than “being unintelligent.” Ignorance implies that a person or group needs to be educated on a particular subject. You might have heard the phrase “ignorance is bliss,” which means that sometimes it’s easier when you don’t know the whole truth about something and can be blissfully happy, unaware of unpleasant realities.”

Anybody that is ignorant of a subject, is more likely to be swayed to believe in an ideology if presented as factual. Even if it is just a load of BS.

Bryan A

If that weren’t the case, People like Jim Jones would have no followers and those that did still follow wouldn’t drink the Cool-Aid


““The noun ignorance is not a synonym for “stupidity,” since its meaning is closer to “being uninformed” than “being unintelligent.””

That’s the fact, Jack!


““Our findings suggest that presenting people with a social fact, a consensus of opinion among experts, rather than challenging them with blunt scientific data, encourages a shift towards mainstream scientific belief – particularly among conservatives.”

This is also the selling tactic that climate “false witness” Katharine Hayhoe uses when she goes on the Evangelical Christian speaking circuit to Sunday congregations of Texas-Oklahoma ranchers and farmers. She sells her Climate Paganism as “consensus” to those groups. She sells her climate paganism as a mental Plug-in App to Christianity. She is a snake oil seller.
In biblical times, Miss Hayhoe would have fit right in with the Temple Pharisees and money changers that Jesus had much disdain for.


It’s also an admission that the scientific data is not persuasive so one has to properly market the idea, rather than present actual scientific facts. I have no idea what a “social” fact is—I guess that’s the new term for “propaganda when the real science fails”. There is a move toward the social “science” now in AGW. Somehow the science failed them, so bring in the adjustable “facts”, the philiosophy bunch and try a new angle? Guess they ran out of options.


““Our findings suggest that presenting people with a social fact, a consensus of opinion among experts, rather than challenging them with blunt scientific data, encourages a shift towards mainstream scientific belief – particularly among conservatives.”

Should be:

Our findings suggest that if we call come up with a new term for “LIE”, & call it a “SOCIAL FACT” instead, we can fool people into changing their short term beliefs. We have found that peoples’ “beliefs” are much easier to alter that are blunt scientific data. (We also got our names on another peer reviewed paper … yah!)


Thanks Sheri and DonM,

Filed away for future thought and comment after processing and convolution.


Most published research findings are wrong. link

The alarmists have been spouting the 97% consensus for a long time and it hasn’t budged public opinion. I’m not sure what these researchers are suggesting to do differently.


Good point, commieBob. The 97 percent lie isn’t getting many converts on WUWT, but I imagine it does influence people out in the larger universe, who do not know the subject very well.

It’s an effective “argument” if your listeners are not familiar with the subject, and it is a very good “argument” to use since it is so easy. What is easier than saying “97 percent of scientists agree with me” and then smiling smugly?

The 97 percent claim usually shuts down further argument, unless one wants to argue the accuracy of the 97 percent claim, and few tv personalities are prepared to do that, so the lie is left to stand as the truth.


97% of climate scientists have concluded that, WRONG that is not what the research found at all. Even if you ignore it’s deep methodological problems this paper did not make this claim. Always best to make sure it is a ‘fact’ before making claims about how people react to facts.


Talking about presenting facts, the usual propagandist of the CBC Bob McDonald cries about mountain glaciers disappearing…
Commenting is of course restricted since it would be easy to debunk the latest inane stuff:
“The Rocky Mountains date back to the time of the dinosaurs, with their sharply sculpted slopes and U-shaped valleys telling a tale of multiple ice ages that came and went, with vast glaciers that completely filled those valleys almost all the way up to the peaks.”
Confusing orogenesis time and landscape sculpting shows the poor guy is clueless about geology and tectonics.
“From a personal perspective, my first visit to the Columbia Icefields was in 1973. Over the years since then, during every visit, I have literally watched the glacier vanish before my eyes. Last year I stood on the same spot I was on 44 years ago and looked across a vast field of gravel and meltwater towards the toe of the glacier more than a kilometre away. It has also lost a great deal of mass and sits much lower in the valley.”
So what Bob? Have you heard about atmospheric circulation? Warm air advection? He should have, since we are experiencing a 1047 hPa continental anticyclone over the US sending strong winds over the Rockies and coastal mountains (Santa Ana winds)… Hardly global warming when large cold air masses engulf a full continent…
“Mountains stand as a visible testament to human influences on the planet.”
Grandstanding based on ignorance of processes. LOL

Tom13 - the non climate scientist

I visited the columbia Ice field in 1990.
One item I noticed was the number of annual morrianes on the east side of the highway dating back to the early 1800’s. The highway intersected the morraines dating from the 1910-1920’s as I recall. The amount of glacier retreat from the early 1800’s through the 1920’s greatly exceeded the amount of glacier retreat from the 1920’s through 1990.

As a side note – the columbia ice fields are a great place to visit since you can see the steady retreat over the last 200 years (with little accelleration). Activists always like to show only one picture from the past to imply that the retreat is due tha AGW instead of showing the long term history which disputes the story line


Indeed, great comment.


So true about the columbia ice fields. My first visit there was in the mid-50’s. Last time was late 90’s.
The ice fields are a lesson in general climate warning since mid 19th century. The 30’s took their toll on the ice fields. Same thing for all the Rockies. Lake Louise also had many before/after pics showing retreat of the glacier there.

I wish agw mavens could have seen the north american glaciers over 60 years and could see the diagrams at the ice fields and see how long glacial retreat has been going on. Some historical context is most helpful.

Tom13 - the non climate scientist

Scraft – but if I only show you one picture from the 1950’s or 1960’s and one recent picture – then I can prove that glacier melt is accelerating geometrically due to AGW.

Showing a detailed year by year graph since the late 1700’s or early 1800’s would be “cherrypicking”

sarc – in case anyone missed the obvious.
Double sarc – since the first sentence is a common trick of the warmists/activists


What utter self important nonsense…

““Mountains stand as a visible testament to human influences on the planet.””

So, humans made those mountains?

Tom13 - the non climate scientist

J – tom rude’s comment regarding the mountains looks to be a typo of some sort
He probably meant to say something to the effect that “mountains stand as a visible testament to the lack of human influences on the planet” or something in a similar vain (based on the gist of his overall comment)


Yes, it is a ridiculous statement. Not mine as I am quoting CBC’s Bob McDonald opus…

D. J. Hawkins

He was quoting, not claiming.

gateway belief – is what Cook/Lewandowsky bang on about.. and the backfire effect is not what it seems (ie only if people aren’t paying attention).. Lewandowsky has just published on this earlier this year. despite him promoting the backfire effect to start with.

People frequently rely on information even after it has been retracted, a phenomenon
known as the continued-influence effect of misinformation. One factor proposed to explain the
ineffectiveness of retractions is that repeating misinformation during a correction may
inadvertently strengthen the misinformation by making it more familiar. Practitioners are
therefore often encouraged to design corrections that avoid misinformation repetition. The
current study tested this recommendation, investigating whether retractions become more or less
effective when they include reminders or repetitions of the initial misinformation. Participants
read fictional reports, some of which contained retractions of previous information, and
inferential reasoning was measured via questionnaire. Retractions varied in the extent to which
they served as misinformation reminders. Retractions that explicitly repeated the misinformation
were more effective in reducing misinformation effects than retractions that avoided repetition,
presumably because of enhanced salience. Recommendations for effective myth debunking may
thus need to be revised.

“To conclude, we presented evidence that repeating misinformation in the course of its
retraction can reduce continued-influence effects. However, the influence of misinformation
persisted despite the availability of causal alternatives and the repetition-enhanced effectiveness
of retractions.” Ecker, lewandowsky, et al

H’mm, one of the co-authors a RICO20 signatory? I wonder to what extent such advocacy affects his qualification as an “honest broker”?



“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.”

– Dr. Michael Crichton


we need more Crichtons


They’d just assassinate them too.

People of Crichton’s education, stature, and readily available public megaphone are impossible to find nowadays. Today when a few on the Right that have a credential set approaching Crichton’s they get shout-off the stage, protested to get the university to dis-invite their commencement speech etc.

Condoleeza Rice comes to mind. The Left orchestrates a campaign to get her talks or commencement speeches cancelled, and she’s probably a climate change believer.

Tony mcleod

What, like the consensus on plate tectonics? Or on the formation of the moon?
I thought patriotism was the first refuge.

> “For the study, researchers conducted online surveys of 6,301 US citizens that adhered to nationally representative quotas of gender, age, education, ethnicity, region and political ideology.“

Uhhh no. They have a subset of people who self identified and were willing and able to take an online survey. That the authors are not cognizant of the problems with their socioeconomic cachement speaks to the quality of the study.


Bill Powers

Anyone who doubts that CAGW is a political movement needs to take a step back and simply observe that this science is decided by popular vote..


As a normal human being I would have to agree that human nature leads us toward agreement with a consensus position. But on the other hand, natural skepticism causes us to challenge a “consensus”. Mark Twain was a famous contrarian – so his view of the matter would be predictable.

Also, the “consensus” argument, I would agree, is very powerful with lazy people and naturally accepting people. That’s what makes the consensus position so dangerous. Let’s remember that the warmist position is a political view as much as anything else, and politics is about salemanship and propaganda. The warmists were very clever in adopting the consensus argument. Among many people it’s very difficult to resist.

And let’s look carefully at the consensus statement presented above – “97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused global warming is happening”. Wouldn’t most folks here be tempted to agree with this, taken on its own without the usual qualifiers?

So let’s remember what we’re arguing about before getting riled up with the usual climate wars stuff. Seems to me that the study cited is pretty harmless. So let’s move on.

Moreover, the latest research confirms the prior finding that climate change scepticism is indeed more deeply rooted among highly educated conservatives. Yet exposure to the simple fact of a scientific consensus neutralises the “negative interaction” between higher education and conservatism that strongly embeds these beliefs.

I’ve been “debating” climate change since the 1970’s and on the Internet since 2004. I’m not sure if my BS in Earth Science and the fact that I’ve never voted for a Democrat make me a “highly educated conservative”… But I learned in Philosophy 101 that an appeal to consensus (argumentum ad popluum) was not a valid argument.

Furthermore, since the beginning of my days of debating climate change on the Internet, almost every Warmunist leads off with argumentum ad popluum, like this moronic sort of mantra…

Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree*: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources.

97 percent or more of actively publishing UFO scientists agree that flying saucers are spacecraft flown by space aliens… So what?

If these social science bozos think that after losing the argument about the science, resorting to argumentum ad popluum will turn the tide and win over scientifically literate conservatives, they don’t know jack schist about basic logic or the fact that Warmunists generally lead off with argumentum ad popluum.

As a geologist, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what any scientific organization’s position statement says about anything. These are written by a handful of politically active members of the societies. Although the AAPG did conduct a survey prior to crafting the current (2007) statement

Summary of Survey:

A significant majority of the respondents felt that climate variation was totally natural (48%), or natural with some human over-print (37%).

Only 11% of the respondents believe that climate change is both human caused and a crisis requiring human intervention. However, only 1 respondent considered the crisis significant enough to recommend limiting use of cars and air-conditioning. Several of those same respondents expressed concern over increasing population and pollution. Earlier surveys and e-mail discussions have shown that for many, global warming is a proxy issue for increased pollution. This survey seems to confirm that.

Based on the survey, a 2/3rds majority of our members want the AAPG position paper on climate to change to state that over time, the climate changes frequently and that humans have played only a partial role in the latest warming trend.

Even if I did give a rat’s ass about consensus, the consensus among geologists is that most of recently observed climate variation is natural. There’s an 85% consensus that less than half of the warming is anthropogenic.

The Original Mike M

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. – Mark Twain

Which dovetails with my own general caveat: “Beware of stupid people in large numbers.”

Especially when their pride is directly in the line of fire –comment image

(True whether he said it or not.)

Retired Kit P

BEV owners come to mind.


A “consensus of opinion” is not fact—it’s opinion.

Bruce Cobb

The “consensus” argument hasn’t worked up until now, but all of a sudden, presto, it’s working!
Their delusions are getting sadder and sadder.

This seems a discussion about how to destroy scientific and societal progress. Fortunately there are enough folk who think for themselves, are not swayed by arguments based on consensus, and know there is no “scientific norm” except for the basic rules of how science is done – objectively seeking evidence of natural truths while purposefully diminishing the influence of bias and error on the outcome. Much of climate science as far as the “consensus” is concerned seems to proceed by a process that is the exact opposite.


So if only the media and “science communicators” would use the 97% consensus meme. Gee, no one has ever thought of throwing that propaganda out there to change anyone’s mind. Why didn’t they think of it before?! What a bunch of geeeniuses.

To review (for anyone believing the 97% “consensus”):

* There is NOT and there has NOT ever been a 97% consensus on the science of human caused climate change.

* If you have not read the research demonstrating this lack of “consensus”, then you have failed to become educated about the facts.

* If the suggestion that you are uneducated about the facts of this statement anger you, then prove me wrong by actually READING the research on this claim.

* If, after reading the research and reconsidering my suggestion about your former ignorance, you STILL believe in a 97% consensus on the science of human-caused climate change, then you have failed to understand what you have read, … you have solidified your attitude based on emotional reactions to your prior ignorance I pointed out, … and you clearly make critical determinations on the basis of emotional reactions rather than on the basis of rational judgment.

Tom in Florida

I agree totally with your comments however, as with most people who have dental problems, until it hurts enough they won’t take any action no matter how much they understand why they should.
So the real question is how do we make people understand how painful it is going to be if they blindly follow the fake consensus.


The 97% consensus meme is so easily and best refuted in simple terms that Dr. Curry gave in an interview about a year ago.

Her argument basically was, “I am part of the 97% consensus on climate change, yet I’m also called a denier at the same time.” The same can be said about basically all other denier labeled scientists, i.e. Soon, Lindzen, Tol, etc. When presenting this fact to climate cultists, they either tend to run and hide or flat out deny it, either way it might be the start of their long road to deprogramming.


Basically what I’m saying is, instead of trying to explain to them how logically flawed their meme is, or how it doesn’t exist or mean what they think it does, play along with it steer them into seeing it is a logical paradox.

Something that you claim as untrue (D-word) cannot be used to argue that something is true (97% consensus), the most basic type of logical paradox from contradiction.

You can’t deprogram a mind by telling them what they think is wrong or telling them how to think, present questions and facts to them in a way that leads them to the conclusion that their belief is flawed. They’ve got to come to this on their own.

So by saying that the 97% consensus on climate science is true and a large portion of the 97% consensus of scientists that publish research is wrong, you come to a contradiction so obvious that the most steadfastly programmed mind begins to question its beliefs.

I don’t think that this is the way to go at all. Calling 97% of climate scientists wrong seems like a far more impossible position than saying that the 97% statistic is wrong.

People who regard “scientists” as gods will merely think that you are arrogant Then they will say, “So I guess you think 100% of the people who think the Earth is round are wrong too.” “I guess you think that the majority of people on Earth who believe that air is vital for life are wrong too.”

If the statistic is wrong, then it is wrong. Establish this, argue this. THEN move to arguing the fact that of those people who DO believe that humans are a major cause are wrong. So, now you have TWO wrongs — the statistic AND the fewer-than-97% scientists.

Thus, to hold to the 97% claim is worse than you might think. It’s a “both-and-situation” — both the statistic about the majority AND the less-than-majority are WRONG … on two different levels of “wrongness”.


Consensus, huh? Perhaps, a consensus of special and peculiar interests.

The flat-Earth society is projecting its deeply held dream to conflate logical domains.

michael hart

OK, the paper is pay-walled, and maybe that saves me some time.

Having said that, I see no evidence that these people don’t fall at the first hurdle, just like so many of the f-wits publishing on the topic: If they can’t even be bothered to carefully define the various incantations (spelling quite deliberate) of “climate change”, why on earth should anyone take the trouble to read what they imagine about the people who disagree with them?

Such slovenliness should not be acceptable in any branch of the arts & humanities. That they attempt to ply their trade in the sciences is beyond laughable.

michael hart

Seeing as they are at Cambridge, I will repeat to the authors what they undoubtedly heard many times before sitting their school exams for “O” and “A”-levels (or whatever they are called these days): “READ THE QUESTION”. Don’t answer the question you like to think the examiner asked, just answer the question that was actually asked.

4 Eyes

Silly fools. The “Backfire effect” cuts both ways.


Good point! 🙂


There is no consensus. Scientists nevr registered and voted on the AGW conjecture. Such a consensus would be meaningless because science is not a democracy. The laws of science are not some form of legislation. Scientific theories are not verified by a voting process.

The AGW conjecture is based upon the existance of a radiant greenhouse effect caused by trace gases in the Earth’s atmopahere with LWIR absorption bands. I radiant greenhouse effect has not been observed anywhere in the solar system including the Earth. The radiant greenhouse effect is science fiction hence the AGW conjecture is sceince fiction. No consensus can turn science fiction into science fact.

DeLoss McKnight

I might have believed this was a serious psychological study if they had divided their subjects into 3 groups: the control group, the group told that the consensus was in favor of anthropogenic climate change and the third group told that the consensus was that anthropogenic climate change is false. As it is, this paper is little more than “How to succeed at propaganda.”


I do not think it is even that.
It is just more made-up babbling.

F. Leghorn

So if they now know how to “change deniers into believers” the meme should soon be a 100% consensus.

Ain’t “social science” great?

I just wrote the summary piece below on how this science gets done, and the reality of statistical models versus factual data and deterministic models. I hope it’s useful here, it took a while for me to uderstand what was being done in the name of science, but a great scientist made it so,

START: As a few members liked this, I edited it after I wrote it, for greater effect. it’s now too long:

Re the use of software and computers in science. I defer to but, try to summarise !*? Richard Feynman, who helped me understand the problem, rather than believe in it. It’s not the software or the hardware, it’s the class of model it hangs around with that determines what is real science and what is pseudo science, today’s “fake science”.

A STATISTICAL model that effectively tries to guess correlations by projecting manipulated inputs forward in time, using assumed but partial and unproven relationships, cannot “prove any laws”. It can ONLY prove correlation, which is not causation. Climate models are STATISTICAL, hence the very stuff of Feynman’s pseudo science, and share the characteristics of other peseudo sciences like economics, social science, weather forecasting, Cargo Cult science or bookmaking. Guesses you can’t prove, that may not happen. There is no real difference in the use of mathematics in all these subjects, just in the very different intent. Maybe even that is the same in the case of climate science – control and profit.

So any pretence that STATISTICAL software models can prove new scientific “laws” is the most fundamental of science denials, as may also be many of the bases and assumptions of multi variate non-linear numerical models, which may never be provable either way. Some are, but some are not. GIGO. This is simply an unnatural act with computers performed by religious scientists to demonstrate unprovabel beliefs, to this physicist. The philosophy of Deep Thought re the meaning of stuff springs to mind. Douglas Adams also nailed philosophers. You can debate an unprovable hypothesis for ever, so it’s a great carreer, IF certainty can be avoided. The priesthood as was.

STATISTICAL models can only suggest further unprovable hypothesis, about which you can have all the consensus you like. But NO proof is possible without validated scientific hypotheses, that must be provable by the hard facts from serial sceptical experiments, using DETERMINISTIC computer models of cause and effect where appropriate, designed to find flaws in the hypothesis, not to prove it. Scientific method.

These are VERY different models, cultures and processes. And why politicians have hit on pseudo/fake science they can debate for ever. Like lawyers, their PPE degree skills are good at debate but find facts inconvenient, so they ayyach teir tellers while being economical with the truth to win arguments. So they are well trained to deceive and exploit pseudo science as a rich vein to justify any old money making scheme they care to legislate, as it can never be proven wrong. We must have faith in their propaganda rather than question the threats they claim to address, and the effectiveness of the supposed solutions. But the problem can never be proven either way. because “you cannot prove a vague theory wrong” – or right. See religion and philosphy above, and the expanation here

THE INCONVENIENT FACTS: The data we have suggests there is NO significant correlation between CO2 level and global temperature across the AGW industrial transition, and mass extinction is likely below 150ppm or so of the CO2 “pollutant” that humans and plants depend upon for life. So even the REAL STATISTICAL FACTS deny the assertions of STATISTICAL climate models. Physics is forever, not just a fast climate change buck. J’accuse!


I disagree…the models have proven themselves to be wrong by being wrong.

Dr. Deanster

I’ll just say ditto to what everyone else has said. The facts r the facts, no consensus changes that.


David Middleton. I can’t figure out whether you agree or disagree with me.

Like you, I’ve been a climate warrior for a long time. Articles like this don’t upset me. It’s the stuff in the NYT that gets my goat, because they should know better. They intentionally distort scientific results and cherry pick articles that help them support their political position. The NYT does a lot of things well, but their climate change coverage belongs in the op-ed section and should be a major embarrassment to those at the paper with honest journalistic principles.

But I also find myself trying mightily to be more philosophical about the climate wars, rather than always getting angry about it. So if a bunch of researchers want to perform a survey and tell us how it reinforces the obvious, then that’s OK with me as long as my money is not funding the survey.

F. Leghorn

The New York Times is good at disseminating propaganda. That is all. As someone else said (sorry I forget who) the nyt is an anagram of The Monkey Writes.


“The NYT does a lot of things well, but their climate change coverage belongs in the op-ed section and should be a major embarrassment to those at the paper with honest journalistic principles.”
The only thing they do well is push leftist propaganda.
Whatever used to be true of the NYT is no longer true…it is now a rag, written by political hacks and dupes.
And there is no one there with honest journalistic principles, or they would not be there…not anymore.
When you sleep with dogs you wake with fleas.

Gunga Din

If the “scientific consensus” wasn’t artificial then it might be clearer to both liberals and conservatives that the CAGW meme is also artificial.
Pushing The Hockey Stick would be clearly exposed as using the wrong lever to push for political gain.

Steve Zell

[Quote]Researchers found that attitudes towards scientific belief on climate change among self-declared conservatives were, on average, 35 percentage points lower (64%) than the actual scientific consensus of 97%. Among liberals it was 20 percentage points lower.

There was never an “actual scientific consensus” of 97%. Before the temperatures started leveling off, when global-warming alarmism was at its peak, someone had performed a “push-poll” of cherry-picked “climate scientists”, and found that 97% of a sample of less than 100 agreed that human emissions of carbon dioxide caused global warming.

This was before the hockey stick had been debunked, and before the 1999 “hide the decline” scam had been exposed. Over the years, many former “believers” in global-warming had become skeptics, and the 97% consensus is nowhere close to being true.

This is equivalent to claiming that “97% of Venezuelans approve of the policies of Nicolas Maduro”. That may have been true when Maduro was first elected, but after starving for several years, lots of Venezuelans now disagree, although they may fear to say so out loud.


Consensus science is for those with a lazy mind.


I agree in-part that the phony 97% consensus did and does sway people; speaking from personal experience, the gagging of skeptic scientists and blocking of their research to the public also has a big effect on people believing the AGW lie. When I use to believe in AGW I never even knew there where scientists who disagreed with this view. When i started researching and looking for scientist with a different or opposing work on climate; it took real effort to find them and their work. I really dug through the web to find papers and lectures of skeptic scientists. When I studied their work it was eye opening and exciting to see. Getting the science out there makes a huge difference… at least it did for me. I have notice the last three years it is much easier to find work from scientist who disagree with AGW. I believe education is the key, though i may be naive but it worked for me

Mark McD

Does anyone think they will also try the experiment the OTHER way?

Take 6000 believers and expose them to the ACTUAL information about the 97% papers and see what happens to THEIR beliefs?

I’m torn between betting nothing would change, because beliefs are not malleable to facts, or betting they’d come towards the sceptic position, because even beliefs would fade in face of such terrible manipulation of the truth.


Leftists political hacks are notorious for using nefarious brainwashing techniques to get the masses to accept often immoral and illogical Leftist government policies.

Regarding Leftists’ CAGW agenda, the bogus “97% consensus” lie has been used with great success by using a brainwashing technique called the Asch Effect.

In 1951, psychologist Solomon Asch (rhymes with “hatch”) conducted experiments showing groups of students 3 lines, and asking them to choose which 2 lines were of the same length.

Unbeknownst, to the students being studied, there were confederates in the group that purposefully chose the wrong 2 lines…. It was found that because of the human tendency for social conformity, the target students would often go along with group consensus, knowing full well the consensus was wrong… The experiment also showed that the social conformity tendency is so strong, some students eventually got to the point where they actually couldn’t discern which 2 lines were of the same length; REALLY scary stuff…

The “97% consensus” lie isn’t “bridging the gap”, it’s merely brainwashing people into believing an obvious falsehood, and for many, no amount of contradictory empirical evidence is sufficient to override the Asch Effect…


Excellent points, SAMURAI.

It’s sad to say, but to be knowledgeable about climate science today, one also now has to be knowledgeable about human psychology and propaganda.