Joined: Sun May 29, 2011 7:48 am
Wayne Stollings wrote:
It is based on two separate sources of data, the poll of those who claimed to be cliamte scientists and had published in the arena and the study of published papers both arrived at similar results using two different methodologies.
And both of them are flawed for different reasons.
For the Anderegg et. al 2010 paper see,http://www.pnas.org/content/107/39/E151.fullAssigning credibility or expertise is a fraught issue, particularly in a wicked phenomenon like climate change—as Anderegg et al. (1) discussed in a recent issue of PNAS. However, their analysis of expert credibility into two distinct “convinced” and “unconvinced” camps and the lack of nuance in defining the terms “climate deniers,” “skeptics,” and “contrarians” both oversimplify and increase polarization within the climate debate.
Unlike contrarian or skeptic, the term climate denier is listed in their key terms. Using the language of denialism brings a moralistic tone into the climate change debate that we would do well to avoid. Further, labeling views as denialist has the potential to inappropriately link such views with Holocaust denial. The article then uses the terminology “skeptic/contrarian” throughout. However, skepticism forms an integral part of the scientific method, and, thus, the term is frequently misapplied in such phrases as “climate change skeptic.” Contrarianism, on the other hand, implies a rather different perspective on anthropogenic climate change.
McCright (2) defines climate contrarians to be those who vocally challenge what they see as a false consensus of mainstream climate science through critical attacks on climate science and eminent climate scientists, often with substantial financial support from fossil fuels industry organizations and conservative think tanks. We expand on the connections between claims-making and funding to also include ideological motives behind criticizing and dismissing aspects of climate change science. Importantly, this definition of contrarian specifically identifies those who critically and vocally attack climate science—those who Anderegg et al. (1) indiscriminately identify as skeptics, contrarians, and deniers. It does not include individuals who are thus far unconvinced by the science (due, in part, to the voracious media coverage garnered by climate contrarians as identified above) or individuals who are unconvinced by proposed solutions.
The use of the terms skeptic, denier, or contrarian is necessarily subject-, issue-, context-, and intervention-dependent. Blanket labeling of heterogeneous views under one of these headings has been shown to do little to further considerations of climate science and policy (3). Continued indiscriminate use of the terms will further polarize views on climate change, reduce media coverage to tit-for-tat finger-pointing, and do little to advance the unsteady relationship among climate science, society, and policy. http://www.pnas.org/content/107/47/E176.fullAnderegg et al. (1) state that 97–98% of climate researchers most actively publishing in the field “support the tenets of [anthropogenic climate change] ACC … the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of convinced researchers” (1). The contribution illustrates the predominating paradigm in climate research today. However, whereas expert credibility and prominence may dominate the opinion of what is true, it can never alter truth itself.
Young et al. (2) argue that publications in highly cited journals are relatively prone to be incorrect, and a young frustrated researcher wrote the following: “Very little creativity can be expected from scientists living in an atmosphere where you cannot ‘waste’ time on thinking about the science you are doing, but must rather spend time thinking where to get the next grant money from. In the research grant game, and thereby the papers game, you can't displease your colleagues.” The addressee was Storetvedt, who has openly challenged the established theory of continental drift. Storetvedt (3) argues that “the history of science demonstrates that the acceptance of proposals … implying that a ‘world view’ everyone has embraced should be given up—has always been met by massive resistance” (p. 397 in ref. 3). Classical research, moreover, shows that people are willing to accept obvious untruths in the presence of strong group pressure (4). A climate researcher has to decide which paradigm to pursue; will he get the same number of grants, publications, or citations by embracing the minority view among his peers? I believe not.
I do not claim that the ACC hypothesis is incorrect, but history has shown that predominating paradigms can be proven wrong. Thor Heyerdahl—the Kon-Tiki Man—was strongly opposed for his controversial theories, but sailing on a wooden raft from Peru to Polynesia in 1947, he showed that it was possible for the pre-Incan people to have colonized the South Pacific islands. Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad were also strongly criticized for their belief that the Vikings reached the American continent, but in 1960, they documented a Norse settlement at Newfoundland dating back to the 11th century. The works by Heyerdahl and the Ingstads were endorsed by Time to be among the most influential scientific achievements in the past century (5). Could it be that some of the researchers questioning the ACC hypothesis will be endorsed as the greatest scientists of the 21st century? http://www.pnas.org/content/107/52/E188.fullThe study by Anderegg et al. (1) employed suspect methodology that treated publication metrics as a surrogate for expertise. Credentialed scientists, having devoted much of their careers to a certain area, with multiple relevant peer-reviewed publications, should be deemed core experts, notwithstanding that others are more or less prolific in print or that their views stand in the minority. In the climate change (CC) controversy, a priori, one expects that the much larger and more “politically correct” side would excel in certain publication metrics. They continue to cite each other's work in an upward spiral of self-affirmation. The authors' treatment of these deficiencies in Materials and Methods was unconvincing in the skewed and politically charged environment of the CC hubbub and where one group is in the vast majority (1). The data hoarding and publication blockade imbroglio was not addressed at all. The authors' framing of expertise was especially problematic. In a casting pregnant with self-fulfillment, the authors defined number of publications as expertise (italics). The italics were then dropped. Morphing the data of metrics into the conclusion of expertise (not italicized) was best supported by explicit argument in the Discussion section rather than by subtle wordplay. The same applied to prominence, although here the authors’ construct was more aligned with common usage, and of course, prominence does not connote knowledge and correctness in the same way as expertise.
Scientific merit does not derive from the number, productivity, or prominence of those holding a certain view—truth by majority rule or oligarchical fiat. The history of science is replete with views (e.g., a geocentric universe or the immutability of species) that were widely held, held by the most prominent of men, and wrong. Here, we do not have homogeneous consensus absent a few crackpot dissenters. There is variation among the majority, and a minority, with core competency, who question some underlying premises. It would seem more profitable to critique the scientific evidence than count up scientists, publications, and the like. Policy needs may require action before scientific certainty, but one should not confuse taking a stand with obliteration of the factual and interpretive uncertainties underlying that stand. The majority of climate scientists favor some form of anthropogenic CC (and that view is not disputed here). That they overshadow the small minority of dissenters in certain publication metrics is to be expected as almost tautological.
In the logical fallacy of an ad hominem argument, the characteristics, qualities, or failings of adversaries rather than the merits of their case are argued. Here, the authors addressed the worth of CC critics (and agnostics) as scientists rather than the validity of their science (1). Regarding purely scientific questions, it may be justified to discount nonexperts. However, here, dissenters included established climate researchers. The article undermined their expert standing and then, extrapolated expertise to the more personal credibility. Using these methods to portray certain researchers as not credible and, by implication, to be ignored is highly questionable. Tarring them as individuals by group metrics is unwarranted.
Publication of this article as an objective scientific study does a true disservice to scientific discourse. Prominent scientific journals must focus on scientific merit without sway from extracurricular forces. They must remain cautious about lending their imprimatur to works that seem more about agenda and less about science, more about promoting a certain dogma and less about using all of the evidence to better our understanding of the natural world.
And for Doran and Zimmerman...http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2 ... 0008.shtmlIn a summary of their survey on the opinion about global warming among Earth scientists (see Eos, 90(3), 20 January 2009), Peter Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman conclude that the debate on the role of human activity is largely nonexistent, and that the challenge is “how to effectively communicate this fact to policy makers” and to the public.
However, I argue that neither of these conclusions can be drawn from the survey. For example, one issue that is much discussed in the public debate is the role of greenhouse gas emissions in global warming. Perhaps there is not much debate about this issue among scientists, but this cannot be concluded from the survey, in which nothing is said about such emissions. In the second question of their survey, Doran and Kendall Zimmerman refer only to “human activity.” http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2 ... 0009.shtmlThe feature article “Examining the scientific consensus on climate change,” by Peter Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman (see Eos, 90(3), 20 January 2009), while interesting, has a primary flaw that calls their interpretation into question. In their opening sentence, the authors state that on the basis of polling data, “47% [of Americans] think climate scientists agree… that human activities are a major cause of that [global] warming….” They then described the two-question survey they had posed to a large group of Earth scientists and scientifically literate (I presume) people in related fields. While the polled group is important, in any poll the questions are critical. My point revolves around their question 2, to wit, “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” Note that the opening sentence of their article uses the phrase “major cause” in reporting the results of the polling, while the poll itself used the phrase “significant contributing factor.” There is a large difference between these two phrases.