Fact Checkers Defend Activist Scientists Because They Agree with Them Not Because They Are Right

From Polar Bear Science

Dr. Susan Crockford

The so-called fact-checkers are out again trying to insist one side of a scientific debate is wrong and another is right because they happen to agree with one side. That’s advocacy, not science.

Here are some facts (check the links provided for additional references):

  1. Scientists in Arctic nations in the late 1960s were worried about the survival of polar bears because numbers worldwide had declined due to overhunting. They were worried enough to put together an International Treaty to protect them in 1973 (Crockford 2019).
  2. In my book (Crockford 2019: 101-106), I cited a number of polar bear specialist who had made estimates of polar bear numbers in the 1960s, that included: Harington (1965, Canada), Larsen (1972, Norway), Lentfer (1965, USA), Jonkel (1969, Canada), Brooks (1965, USA), Lønø (1970, Norway), Scott (1959, USA) and Uspenski (1961, Russia). I stated my professional opinion was that a plausible global population size in the 1960s was about 10,000 (range 5,000-15,000), based on the reports and papers these eight men wrote about how they had come to their decisions, which indicated they had used the best information available at the time. Polar bear specialist Markus Dyck, who died doing polar bear research earlier this year, also used this figure of 10,000 as a reasonable estimate for the 1960s.
  3. In other words, this statement by fact-checkers is a lie: “the book defends Uspenski’s 5,000 estimate, arguing that it was based on the best methods available at the time.”
  4. IUCN polar bear specialists are the only group I am aware of that insist there is no low benchmark population figure prior to legal protections for the species they champion: sea otter scientists don’t do this, nor do humpback whale experts, even though benchmark estimates for their species are unlikely to be any more accurate than the one I suggest for polar bears (Crockford 2019). This makes polar bear specialists look biased and unprofessional.
  5. After protections were initiated in 1973 internationally (Russian banned hunting well before this, in 1956), the IUCN listed polar bears as ‘vulnerable’. Overhunting ceased. By 1996, polar bears were uplisted to ‘least concern’ because numbers had recovered. The global estimates provided at the time – years before polar bear specialists insisted none of their estimates were accurate – was 21,470-28,370 (Wiig et al. 1995). A change in population size from about 10,000 in the 1960s to about 25,000 in 1993 is consistent with a species recovery due to focused protection. Polar bears remained ‘least concern’ for 10 years, until 2006.
  6. Since deciding that polar bears should be again demoted to ‘vulnerable’ in 2006 due to threats from climate change, IUCN polar bear specialist have insisted their global estimates are not trustworthy and low-ball every estimate for every subpopulation that’s studied. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds: they willingly used a 2013 Kara Sea estimate of about 3,000 for the 2015 IUCN Red List assessment (Regher et al. 2016; Wiig et al. 2015) because the IUCN rules stated they had to have numbers for all subpopulations if they were using computer projections to predict future threats. However, no PBSG status report has even acknowledged that this Kara Sea estimate exists: they don’t provide their reasons for dismissing it, they simply do not cite it at all (e.g. Durner et al. 2018).
  7. Specialist Steven Amstrup insisted that “The most well-studied sub-populations show that as sea ice has become less and less available, polar bear body condition has declined, recruitment (reproduction) has been reduced, and population sizes have declined.” He doesn’t say which subpopulations but I can tell you that he’s referring to Western Hudson Bay and Southern Beaufort Sea. I disagree with his assessment of the data for those but let’s assume he’s right. What he’s leaving out are the data from the Svalbard area of the Barents Sea and the Chukchi Sea, which are almost as well studied and have lost proportionately more ice than Amstrup’s two favourite regions. However, bears in both the Barents and Chukchi Sea subpopulations are thriving: numbers are stable or increasing, bears are in excellent physical condition and cub survival is good. The contradiction between these four regions with regard to loss of summer sea ice and health impacts on polar bears is scientifically significant. The fact that Amstrup and his colleagues chose to ignore these contradictions is a big red flag regarding their scientific objectivity.
  8. Computer projections are not facts: calling a computer model predicting future conditions a ‘study’ is ludicrous. There is a strong likelihood that the 2020 prediction referred to in the ‘fact check’ will be as incorrect as the one that Amstrup spearheaded back in 2007 – which failed spectacularly.
  9. With regard to this statement: “No matter how many bears there are out there, if there are too many ice free days, female bears will not have sufficient fat reserves to nurse their cubs, and cubs will start dying at a rapid rate,” Amstrup said. “Frequent years with too many ice free days assure population decline.” See point 8 above regarding Barents and Chukchi Sea bears where numbers have not declined despite profound and continued loss of summer sea ice. Over the last few years (except last year), ice coverage for Amstrup’s beloved Western Hudson Bay bears has been more like the 1980s than the 2000s. Yet the predictive models that Amstrup and colleagues used for the IUCN assessment assumed a continuous decline in every subpopulation region, year after year (Regehr et al. 2016; Wiig et al. 2015).
  10. No other overhunted species has failed to continually increase its population size once protection from over-hunting was provided: there are solid scientific grounds for expecting global polar bear numbers to increase, even if slowly, over time. It’s embarrassing to watch polar bear specialists insist that none of their global population estimates are valid counts yet state confidently that their predictions about the future be treated like unassailable facts.


Brooks, J.W. and Lentfer, J. W. 1965. The polar bear: a review of management and research activities in Alaska with recommendations for coordinated international studies. Unpublished report of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Juneau. Presented at the First International Meeting of Scientists on Polar Bear, University of Alaska, Sept. 6-11, 1965

Crockford, S.J. 2017. Testing the hypothesis that routine sea ice coverage of 3-5 mkm2 results in a greater than 30% decline in population size of polar bears (Ursus maritimus). PeerJ Preprints 19 January 2017. Doi: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.2737v1 Open access. https://peerj.com/preprints/2737/

Crockford, S.J. 2019The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened. Global Warming Policy Foundation, London. Available in paperback and ebook formats.

Durner, G.M., Laidre, K.L, and York, G.S. (eds). 2018. Polar Bears: Proceedings of the 18th Working Meeting of the IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group, 7–11 June 2016, Anchorage, Alaska. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN.

Harington, C.R. 1965. The life and status of the polar bear. Oryx 8: 169-176.

Jonkel, C. 1969. Polar bear research in Canada. Canadian Wildlife Service Progress Notes 13.

Larsen, T. 1972. Norwegian polar bear hunt, management  and research. Bears: Their Biology and Management 2: 159-164.

Lentfer, J.W. 1970. Polar bear research and conservation in Alaska, 1968-1969. Pg. 43-66 (Appendix VI), in Anonymous (eds.) Polar Bears: Proceedings of the 2nd Working Meeting of the Polar Bear Specialists Group, IUCN/SSC, 2-4 February 1970, Morges, Switzerland. IUCN Publications New Series, Supplementary paper No. 29. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge UK, IUCN.

Lønø, O. 1970. The polar bear (Ursus maritimus Phipps) in the Svalbard area. Norsk Polarinstitutt Skrifter 149.

Regehr, E.V., Laidre, K.L, Akçakaya, H.R., Amstrup, S.C., Atwood, T.C., Lunn, N.J., Obbard, M., Stern, H., Thiemann, G.W., & Wiig, Ø. 2016. Conservation status of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in relation to projected sea-ice declines. Biology Letters 12: 20160556. http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/12/12/20160556 Supplementary data here.

Scott, R. F., Kenyon, K. W., Buckley, J. L., and Olsen, S. T., 1959. Status and management of the polar bear and Pacific walrus. Transactions of the Twenty-Fourth North American Wildlife Conference 24: 366–373.

Uspenski, S. M., 1961. Animal Population Estimates in the Soviet Arctic, Priroda No. 8: 33–41. (reprinted in 1962 as Polar Record 71(11): 195–196).

Wiig, Ø., Amstrup, S., Atwood, T., Laidre, K., Lunn, N., Obbard, M., et al. 2015. Ursus maritimus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T22823A14871490. Available from http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22823/0 [accessed Nov. 28, 2015]. See the supplement for population figures.

Wiig, Ø., Born, E.W., and Garner, G.W. (eds.) 1995. Polar Bears: Proceedings of the 11th working meeting of the IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialists Group, 25-27 January, 1993, Copenhagen, Denmark. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge UK, IUCN.

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February 15, 2022 10:14 pm

Welcome to politics. Our tribe is always right, yours is always wrong.

Philip Mulholland
February 15, 2022 11:08 pm

Computer projections are not facts

Data is is a record of measurement by observation.
There is no such thing as future data because reports of observations from the future is impossible.

Kiwi Gary
February 15, 2022 11:13 pm

Re Facebook vs Stossell, in court, Facebook were forced to state that their fact-checkers were only expressing an opinion, and, as such, were exempt from the libel claim. This matter has apparently been lost in the noise, but should be brought again to public notice on a regular basis.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Kiwi Gary
February 16, 2022 3:12 am

then their fact checkers MUST or SHOULD state every time they’re offering fact checking that it’s just their opinion

but saying they’re fact checking sure sounds like they know for sure

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 16, 2022 4:56 am

That’s sort of the whole point, isn’t it? I’ve fact checked you and you’re debunked! Publish that somewhere credible, everyone else cites that publication, and nobody looks any further at whether there were “facts” or “opinion” used in the process. Try and argue very far when the other side starts throwing fact checks from every Tom, DIck and Harry on their side. You’ll spend time showing Tom is an idiot, while Dick and Harry are busy burying your original point from either side.

George Daddis
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 16, 2022 7:46 am

Good point.
I notice many “right” leaning blogs now state at the top of an article that what follows is the “opinion” of the author.

Reply to  George Daddis
February 16, 2022 11:16 am

what follows is the “opinion” of the author.

As if that’s going to do any good.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 16, 2022 6:23 pm

Just as newspapers state that “opinions expressed here are the opinions of writers, not positions held by the news corporation/company/publisher”.

Or, where newspapers, magazines and even TV ads must identify pages as being advertisements.

Alleged fact checkers should be required to identify their opinions versus identified observed facts.

Model results are clearly opinions, not observations or proven facts.

Reply to  ATheoK
February 17, 2022 6:19 pm

I would use the term “conjecture” rather than “opinion”. A computer can’t have an opinion, but its output can certainly be a matter of conjecture. Whichever it is, it is not “data”.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 16, 2022 7:55 pm

Fact checking is part of schooloidism, the addiction to schools (being a school boy/girl), the habit of getting told what is right.
Schools are the most serious menace to civilization.

Gras Albert
February 16, 2022 1:59 am

“There’s no money for Polar Bear research if they’re not threatened” – Steven Amstrup

The above quote is as fake as Armstrup’s public statements /s

jeffery p
Reply to  Gras Albert
February 16, 2022 6:27 am

How is the quote fake? Do you mean the process is fake?

Reply to  Gras Albert
February 16, 2022 6:37 pm

“There’s no money for Polar Bear research if they’re not threatened” – Steven Amstrup”

It’s your quote.
A quick search on DuckDuckGo doesn’t find other occurrences.

You end your comment with /s, which is supposed to represent “end sarcasm”.

That appears to be the equivalent of telling someone you only tell lies and then make a statement of fact.

Reply to  Gras Albert
February 17, 2022 10:09 am

It may not be attributable to Amstrup… but, in this day and age, it’s certainly true!

February 16, 2022 2:00 am

While Mikey likes to hide declines, the polar bear guy attempts to hide growth. Their real specialism is hiding stuff.

Reply to  Charlie
February 16, 2022 7:53 am

It’s getting harder to hide the polar bear comeback. Reports are growing about polar bears coming into human settlements. The media try to spin it as desperate starving bears because of climate change forced to root into human garbage piles, but the pictures of fat healthy bears spoils the propaganda.
Eventually the ‘save the whales’ and seals people will have to step up when the bears threaten those poster child species.

AGWis Not Science
Reply to  PCman999
February 16, 2022 9:30 am

Every idiot clamoring about the need to “save the Polar Bears” should be given one to care and feed for. After it has eaten them and anyone living in their household, it can then be given to the next “save the Polar Bears” idiot. For the avoidance of doubt, this includes so-called “scientists” who are insistent that Polar Bears are “threatened” by anything that isn’t excessive hunting, which is the only real “threat” Polar Bears have ever faced.

This plan is the one sure way we will cease to be bombarded with bullshit about Polar Bears.

Reply to  Charlie
February 16, 2022 6:44 pm

the polar bear guy attempts to hide growth. Their real specialism is hiding stuff.”

Their real specialism is collecting huge sums of money to track polar bear health and populations. Yet appear to not actually do either task, while lying to every journalist, reporter, camera and independent polar bear researchers.

Ron Long
February 16, 2022 2:21 am

It’s always a treat to see Dr. Susan beat the political science, CAGW, We’re All Going to Die in a Burning Hell on Earth, crowd, about the head and shoulders with the truth. Standing tall for science is sometimes stressful, and the persons doing this deserve our gratitude.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Ron Long
February 16, 2022 3:13 am

but it’s too bad that the mainstream media ignores her

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 16, 2022 3:17 am

These mainstream media always ignore the truth.

Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 16, 2022 7:34 am

Truth is whatever government says it is.

Reply to  MarkW
February 18, 2022 11:28 pm

Never moreso than in Canada now. We’ve fallen deep, deep, deep into the abyss.

February 16, 2022 3:15 am

Well said Dr. Crockford. As usual, a clear and logical takedown of their untenable positions. Somehow I’m still surprised that they get renewed funding for surveys while simultaneously saying the surveys are not valid with their actions.

February 16, 2022 3:34 am

Went to read AFP article and wow, what a load crap. Thanks, Doc! Keep smackin’em with reality.

February 16, 2022 5:34 am

“Fact Checking” is a leftist propaganda term, and because of it whatever follows that headline will be e big pile of poo. Here is one wonderful piece of “fact checking”, although it is in german.


First the conspiracy theory: due lock downs and drastically reduced air travel, the sky turned deep, clear blue.

The “fact check“: while it is true that the sky changed its colour in this way, it had NOTHING to do with air traffic. It was just incidentally dry air from the arctic, any intense air traffic would not have made any difference.

Why would it matter? First of all, the lock downs were not the first event with sharply reduced air traffic. Before we had the post 9/11 shut down, and over Europe there was the 2010 eruption of a volcano with an unspeakable name (Eyjafjallajökull). In all three instances the sky turned remarkably clear and blue. There was not just an absence of linear contrails, but also of diffuse cirrus clouds, ususally considered natural. And even beyond that, the colour of the presumably clear sky turned from a whitish light blue, to a much darker, deeper blue.

This is an amazingly delicate thing for “climate science”. Without a doubt contrails are warming the planet, the question is just by how much. The official narrative is that contrails only made up a tiny share in the otherwise natural occurence of cirrus and so their contribution to global warming would almost be negligible. These real life experiments however suggest the opposite.

For a 1% change in absolute cirrus coverage with τ = 0.33, the GCM yielded surface temperature changes (DTs ) of 0.438 and 0.588C over the globe and Northern Hemisphere, respectively
Minnis et al (2004)

If you combine these, global warming is all due to contrails..

Reply to  E. Schaffer
February 16, 2022 8:07 am

What global warming? Temps have been relatively flat since 1998’s El Nino, but CO2 and air travel have practically exploded.

Mike Edwards
Reply to  E. Schaffer
February 16, 2022 3:19 pm

Without a doubt contrails are warming the planet”

How do you know that?

Reply to  E. Schaffer
February 16, 2022 7:23 pm

Trying a paragraph, pressed return for the next line and for some reason it posted.
My apologies. I didn’t like my paragraph.

Last edited 3 months ago by ATheoK
H. D. Hoese
February 16, 2022 6:14 am

The July 2021 issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife has an article with big print and stark color–Texas Dead Zones. A now deceased scientist who studied these world wide concluded that nitrogen had been “demonized.” Yes, there are problems with oxygen, always have been some. At the end of the article two paragraphs deny the premise, water quality is good. There are two authors, one wonders if they wrote different sections. Anyway always read the last few paragraphs and the caveats.

Tom Halla
February 16, 2022 6:40 am

The “experts” probably saw the meme When Al Gore was born, there were 7000 polar bears. Now there are only 20,000 left.

AGWis Not Science
Reply to  Tom Halla
February 16, 2022 9:33 am

Now THERE is a meme!

Ireneusz Palmowski
February 16, 2022 6:43 am

The stratospheric polar vortex is now strong. The extent of ice in the Arctic is growing.comment imagecomment image

jeffery p
February 16, 2022 7:00 am

The fact checkers should be called what they are — conformity checkers, or consensus checkers.

A cynical person might say they are consensus protectors and what else can we expect? Does the average person understand computer models are full of assumptions or that models don’t output data or facts?

Last edited 3 months ago by jeffery p
jeffery p
February 16, 2022 7:35 am

What sources are used for “fact-checking?’ By picking the sources used as reference material, the results of the fact-checks are predetermined.

And that’s the point of “fact-checking” climate change articles, isn’t it? It’s designed to protect the phony “consensus” and censor contradictory facts and opinions.

Ministry of Truth, anyone?

lee riffee
February 16, 2022 7:56 am

I’d love to see Amstrup explain how he thinks that polar bears as a species were able to survive the Roman warm period + other times in history (since polar bears became a species distinct from brown bears) when the world’s climate was warmer than now, sometimes much more so….
Sadly, the MSM refuses to take these “fact checkers” to task.

AGWis Not Science
February 16, 2022 9:22 am

“Fact Free Fact Checking.”

Say it all in a nice, concise statement.

Pat from Kerbob
February 16, 2022 11:52 am

Scientologists need to start being held legally responsible for their statements.

Has to be consequences or this never stops.

Randall Schoreck
February 16, 2022 1:24 pm

This Women received payment from The Heartland Institute – a hard right conservative anti science think tank. She is of course a climate change denier. These people, like Miss Susan Crockford, remind me of big tobacco back in the days when they paid scientists to release papers claiming cigarettes are actually not causing cancer and rigging data – they also denied the scientific consensus…they also received payments. The day of reckoning for pathetic individuals like Cranckfort (had to add at least one ad hominem for the Trump voters, they love them) that put right wing propaganda/fossil fuel pseudoscience contributions payments in-front of science will eventually happen.

Charles Rotter(@jeeztheadmin)
Reply to  Randall Schoreck
February 16, 2022 1:28 pm

Looks like we got ourselves a classic archetype here. I think he’s proud of FOLLOWING THE SCIENCE gosh darnit.

Randall Schoreck
Reply to  Charles Rotter
February 16, 2022 1:42 pm

Nope. All I did was ‘Following the money” and it brought me to The Heartland Institute and direct payments to the author of this crap. Founded in 1984, it worked with tobacco company Philip Morris throughout the 1990s to attempt to discredit the health risks of secondhand smoke and lobby against smoking bans. Since the 2000s, the Heartland Institute has been a leading promoter of climate change denial.

Of course you also don’t seem to understand the philosophy of science. This article is an opinion and your obviously love the “appeal to authority” fallacy (Crawford has an opinion, so I will just follow that against the scientific consensus) and confirmation bias(Crawford is saying something that fits my political & cultural ideology so I will believe it against the scientific consensus)..which makes you the perfect archetype of a science denier. Do you believe in x rays?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Randall Schoreck
February 16, 2022 7:59 pm

(Crawford has an opinion, so I will just follow that against the scientific consensus)

Who is this “Crawford” fellow?

Eda Rose-Lawson
Reply to  Randall Schoreck
February 17, 2022 10:03 am

Why do you wish to refer to a well argued article as ‘crap’ Mr Schoecck? The article was well researched even for you to understand. So if you don’t agree with some of its contents then you should put your own viewpoints forward for us to consider. I do hope we wouldn’t have to call it crap, which is usually the word used by defeatists..

Richard Page
Reply to  Randall Schoreck
February 17, 2022 3:37 pm

First you state that readers don’t understand “the philosophy of science” then you ask the readers if they ‘believe’ in a scientific fact, the existence of x-rays. By your very words you have self-identified as a religious zealot and someone who will never understand the scientific method.

Randall Schoreck
Reply to  Richard Page
February 23, 2022 3:36 pm

Oh so it is a scientific fact? But Climate change is not? Interesting….

J Mac
Reply to  Charles Rotter
February 16, 2022 3:03 pm

You are soooo right, CTM! He’s following something all right…. but it isn’t the extensive polar bear field data presented.

Reply to  J Mac
February 16, 2022 7:48 pm

Sounds like maniacal mann or oreskes money vacuum cleaners.

They both make those same silly claims and manage to do it with a straight face, usually.

Randall Schoreck
Reply to  J Mac
February 23, 2022 3:39 pm

There are multiple research papers by field biologists and conservationists that actually work in the field…not like Armchair data cherry picking paid by the Heartland Institute Crockford.

Reply to  Randall Schoreck
February 16, 2022 2:51 pm

Yepper doodle. Classic Greentard response. Let’s go straight to the data, sweep it under the carpet and then begin the ad hominem. It has been so long since any Climate Scientologist has agreed to debate the data that it appears that they have actual begun to believe their farcical models.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Randall Schoreck
February 16, 2022 3:35 pm

(had to add at least one ad hominem for the Trump voters, …)

What part of your comment isn’t an ad hominem?

Brent Wilson
Reply to  Randall Schoreck
February 17, 2022 8:04 am

Did you even bother to read the book by Dr. Crockford?

I thought not. So your opinion about it is fact-free.

Randall Schoreck
Reply to  Brent Wilson
February 23, 2022 3:43 pm

Why would I support a individual already paid by Right Wing pundits and the heartland institute.

Climate denier blogs ignore sea ice and polar bear science, study finds | CBC News

February 16, 2022 3:03 pm

If Canadians have learned anything from the ongoing Freedom Convoy it is that the legacy media and their fact checkers are now wholly unreliable. The lying by the media has reached a shrillness, hysteria and inaccuracy which most believed was not possible. Fortunately alternative media like Rebel News and Viva Frei are telling the story from the ground and so have exposed the lying liar’s lies. The legacy media’s credibility has taken a huge hit and we can only hope the public’s growing incredulity transfers to other misinformation campaigns like global warming, death plastic, modern mass die off and polar bear propaganda.

February 16, 2022 6:14 pm

This makes polar bear specialists look biased and unprofessional.”

They are biased and unprofessional and addicted to the grants their alarmism attract.

February 16, 2022 7:42 pm

During the French presidential TV debate 5 years ago, all “fact checkers” for all purposes practically declared Macron a genius and Marine Le Pen a know nothing moron who got everything wrong on the economy.

The exact opposite was true: while Le Pen is a moron and sucks with economic topics – like all of the “far right” (actually: nationalist left) -, she got a lot of stuff correct unlike Macron who didn’t know that you could pay your employees in currency X while getting paid by the clients in currency Y.
In the end fact checkers had to explain that ECU was not a currency or not really a currency or not used as a currency or not often used as such… they cancelled the fact in fact checking.

The terrifying part of that is that the whole France – incl. Le Pen supporters – accepted the nonsensical fact checking, in a common meltdown/mass hypnotism/hysteria situation.
Because we knew Macron was going to win, the French people convinced itself Le Pen sucked.

I was ridiculed in all forums, circles, social media, for stating the obvious: if Macron was not the one being ignorant, why would fact checkers have to be so inept that even an ignorant 11 years old would have seen the falsity of these fact checkings?

Of course adultoids are not 11 years old and not capable of ever seeing what children can see.
That’s what society and schools in particular guarantee: destroying the scintilla of intelligence and common sense in children (except a few ones).

February 17, 2022 2:22 am

Debunkers Debunked: Who Fact-Checks the Fact-Checkers?
Snopes Rates The Devil’s Lies As ‘Mostly True’ – babylonbee

Albert Einstein warned that “Science can flourish only in an atmosphere of free speech.” And on his deathbed, Einstein cautioned, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted in important affairs.”

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