The Consensus Myth: 97% of Nothing

The Consensus Myth: 97% of Nothing
Post by Anthony Cox
The major argument supporting the man made global warming scam [AGW] is that a vast majority of legitimate climate scientists support it while only a motley crew of eccentrics and cranks oppose it. In actual fact the support for AGW is entirely bureaucratic. By that I mean that all the major organisations which publically espouse AGW are in effect bureaucracies with government affiliated or appointed heads who keep tight muster on the underlings and enforce conformity.
A classic case is the case of Dr Clive Spash. Spash was a senior scientist at the CSIRO. At the time when then PM Rudd was advocating an ETS Spash wrote a paper critical of the ETS. After conflict with the CSIRO bosses, including Megan Clark, former CEO of Rothschild Australia, Spash was left no alternative but to resign.
A similar situation has also occurred with Dr Phil Watson of the NSW Department of Environment and Hertitage. Watson wrote a peer reviewed paper which showed sea level rise was not consistent with AGW. This was duly reported; and then contradicted by Dr Watson’s bosses.
The point is a consensus is very easy to create by a few examples and slap-downs of underlings. Pretty soon all the other little Indians get the message and put their heads down and toe the company line. And if they don’t toe the line then their work can be just censored as Dr Lord found out.
Despite this the lie of consensus persists. A couple of widely disseminated papers purporting to have established a consensus by stringent scientific methods are repeatedly quoted by alarmists to prove there is a consensus.
The first is the infamous 97% of all climate scientists support AGW effort. The paper by Doran and Zimmerman effectively based its conclusions on a survey population of just 79 individuals. The Doran and Zimmerman [Doze] survey is of course a farrago, a dolt’s nose-pick and can be ridiculed on a number of counts including the sample size of 2 vagrants, 34 bureaucrats and various odds and sods. Another good account of Doze is here:
However, the Schneider effort has far greater pretension to academic quality and validity; Schneider’s effort is here [and what a fitting research epitaph it is];
Schneider states that their selection criteria for distinguishing between climate research winners and deniers/losers was 2-fold:
“We tallied the number of climate-relevant publications authored or coauthored by each researcher (defined here as expertise) and counted the number of citations for each of the researcher’s four
highest-cited papers (defined here as prominence) using Google Scholar. We then imposed an a priori criterion that a researcher must have authored a minimum of 20 climate publications to be
considered a climate researcher, thus reducing the database to 908 researchers.”
At the risk of being unscientific I would point out at this juncture that Miskolczi’s 3 papers from 2004, 2007 and 2010, which are groundbreaking and unrebutted to an almost Einsteinian extent have had no citations at all, although I could be wrong. So, despite the fact that Miskolczi was a senior NASA atmospheric physicist and one of the world’s leading experts in analysis of radiative balances in the atmosphere his work has not been cited. How could it be by pro-AGW papers when it contradicted the AGW consensus?
If one stops even for a brief moment and considers how group-think works one can readily see how the mutual reinforcement would enable pro-AGW ‘scientists’ to dominate such a survey given that they, as the climate-gate e-mails eloquently demonstrated, effectively control the main climate publishing venues. When you throw in vast political support, vast financial rewards and Kafkaesque treatment of dissenters [again Miskolczi is a salutory example since he lost his job at NASA after his work was published] then you can see that an effective scientific monotone, as found by Schneider, will result.

The unfortunate thing is that Schneider’s egregious paper is being readily used by politicians like Combet to justify his government’s position on AGW. This is not a consensus but censorship; and it is censorship which is propping up the scam of AGW.

Luboš Motl writes:  
There is no consensus: This counter-point #3 is clearly obsolete: (John)  Cook (Skeptical Science) tries to argue that 97% climate scientists endorse something - it sounds like a TV commercial. Most of his graphs are obsolete, too - the current support for various AGW-related statements is close to 1/2 of the figures he copied in an "optimistic" moment for his favorite political movement. The reality is that most scientists disagree with the basic tenets of the AGW orthodoxy - and even people like Phil Jones now agree that nothing unprecedented is going on with the climate right now (including no statistically significant warming in 15 years, and the existence of a medieval warm period), while Kevin Trenberth has agreed that the climate hasn't warmed and the popular models are inconsistent with this fact - what a travesty. There still exist large bodies of climate scientists who prefer to promote the panic - because they've been hired to do so or because it results from their political biases (which are mostly leftist in the Academia). The funding for climate science has increased 10-fold in the last 10- 20 years - purely because of the possible threat - which means that 90% of the people (or 90% of the funding) is working on proofs of this pre-determined conclusion. At any rate, these discussions provide us with no evidence for the actual science - they're just about an attempt of the largely political movements to intimidate the scientists in the very same way in which Nazis wanted to intimidate the "Jewish science" by the consensus of the "Aryan scientists". Einstein would tell them that it's enough to find one scientist to prove Einstein wrong.


  1. The question by the study (Doran and Zimmerman 2009.)

    Have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels, and

    Has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures.

    The survey didn't ask climate scientists if they believe global warming is primarily driven by human activity. THAT would have been a more probing question.

    Here are some answers from "sceptical scientists" to the questions....

    Patrick Michaels

    Yes and yes. The second question is phrased precisely to NOT determine whether or not the respondent feels it is a pressing concern.

    Anyone with experience is survey development (and I know people who do this) would recognize the hidden motive here. It is telling that such a paper would be accepted with such poor design and such a foregone conclusion.

    Pat Michaels

  2. Richard Lindzen

    As you know, polling is a dicey business. With respect to your first question, my answer to (1) is probably, but the amount is surprisingly small -- suggesting that global mean temperature anomaly is not a particularly good index. My answer to (2) would be yes, but dependent on what is meant by significant. As to your second question, I agree that one can answer yes without any implication of alarm. Remember, according to the IPCC, we have already reached a level of radiative forcing that is almost as large as one would expect from a doubling of CO2. Even is climate sensitivity were 0.5C (which is generally considered to be of no concern) we would still be making a significant contribution to the small observed 'warming.'

    John Christy

    1. What are your answers to these two questions?

    Generally temperatures have risen from the little-ice age minimum in the 19th century to the present.

    No one knows how much of this warming is due to human effects. In my opinion, most of the warming since the 19th century is due to natural variations.

    2. Do you believe the second question is phrased correctly to determine if climatologists consider AGW a concern?

    It was not phrased properly. For example someone might think that 10 percent of any warming constitutes a "significant" contribution, and so would answer yes to that question, even though the proportion of warming due to any human effect might in fact be small.

  3. Bob Carter

    Both the questions that you report from Doran’s study are (scientifically) meaningless because they ask what people “think”. Science is not about opinion but about factual or experimental testing of hypotheses – in this case the hypothesis that dangerous global warming is caused by human carbon dioxide emissions. When tested against empirical data, this global warming hypothesis fails. For example, there has been no increase in global temperature for more than 10 years despite an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide of more than 5%. Rephrasing them appropriately, the scientific answers to the two questions are therefore “1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, have mean global temperatures generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?” The answer depends (a) on what dataset you use (MSU satellites, ground thermometers, radiosondes), (b) the ways in which you plot and/or average the data points, and (c) the precise choice of endpoints. For all datasets, however, a true statement is that there has been no significant (i.e. within the bounds of error) global warming since 1998, and some of the datasets demonstrate cooling. “2. Is human activity a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” It is unchallenged that human activity has an effect (in different places either cooling or warming) on local and regional temperatures, not least as a result of land-use changes. When averaged across the globe, however, the net human effect on the global average temperature statistic is indeterminable, presumably because it is so small that it is lost in the noise of natural variation. In addition, because carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and because the gas mixes globally in the atmosphere, human emissions must exert a prima facie global warming effect. In actuality, both positive and negative feedbacks then occur, which are poorly known, so there is an ongoing debate as to the magnitude of the net human greenhouse effect (the climate sensitivity issue). In any case, and again, the empirical data fail to demonstrate an unequivocal warming trend of human origin against the background of natural climate variation. Therefore, the null hypothesis that the temperature changes that have been measured since the advent of thermometers are natural remains unchallenged. The onus of providing substantive evidence for a dangerous human-caused greenhouse effect therefore rests with the proponents of that hypothesis, and to date they have failed utterly to provide it, basing their arguments instead on speculative deterministic computer models that are known to be inaccurate.

    The above replies from:

  4. There is no 97% consensus. This is all about social proofs, statistical manipulations and advanced psychological techniques, abused by people like Lew.
    Here's our deconensus.

  5. Yes, Michelle, this blog has previously covered the Friends of Science item:


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