JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


Handbooks


Advertising


Australian Speakers Agency



GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper



Archives

Books

Journal admits Lewandowsky paper retracted because it failed. Twice!

Relish this win.

Recursive Fury, the ideated paper that Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook and Michael Hubble-Marriott tried to publish early last year, was of such poor quality that it was placed in the scientific limbo-land of being not withdrawn, not retracted, and not published for almost 12 months. Lewandowsky previously published an article claiming skeptics believed the Moon Landing was faked, based on only 10 anonymous internet responses gleaned from sites that hate skeptics. Recursive Fury made out that skeptics who objected this previous paper were barking-mad conspiracy theorists with nefarious intent.

Finally, a week ago, the journal issued a strange but brief official retraction notice. Bizarrely, despite the ignominious failure, Lewandowsky and many others played the victim card, fanning the idea that legal threats had stopped them from publishing a paper that was otherwise academically and ethically fine. The howls of faux-outrage grew, as usual, over-played to the point where they became self-defeating.

Now Frontiers, the journal, already suffering from being associated with such dubious work, has finally had to set the record straight and defend their reputation. They had not caved in to bullying, or legal threats from the evil denier machine. Actually there were no threats at […]

“Honey, I shrunk the consensus” — Monckton gets readers signatures, qualifications on on Cooks paper

If you are fed up with dismal papers passing peer review and exploiting the good name of science, join us in protest. Christopher Monckton was not content to let John Cook and others get away with a paper where 0.3% becomes 97%, so Monckton is formally asking the journal to retract it — suggesting it would be wise to protect the journal from any allegation of scientific misrepresentation. Here is his entertaining background on events, and below that, a very serious letter 273 scientists and citizens have already signed to jointly send to the Editor Daniel Kammen. If deceptive wording and hidden data make you angry, join us by commenting below or emailing. — Jo

————————————————–

Honey, I shrunk the consensus

By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

Michael Crichton said: “If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus.” Thales of Miletus, Abu Ali Ibn al Haytham, Newton, Einstein, Popper and Feynman thought much the same and said so. Science by head-count is mere politics.

Doran and Zimmerman (2009) and Anderegg et al. (2010) each concluded that 97% of a few dozen carefully-filtered climate scientists held Man guilty of some of the 0.7 Cº […]

Cook’s 97% consensus is a case study of Agnotology – ignorance and misinformation

Agnotology is the study of how ignorance grows through repetition of misleading misinformation. You might never have heard of it, but it’s the perfect term for the climate science “debate”. Predictably its use began when those convinced of man-man global warming claimed fossil fuel groups were funding misinformation. But as per usual, unskeptical scientists opened a promising new front only to got burned by the evidence.

In the latest volley, from Legates et al 2013, John Cook’s “97% consensus” survey has become the case study in agnotology. Based on incorrect results, a flawed method, and a logical fallacy, it kept key facts hidden while sloppily blending vague language into a form that is easily and actively misinterpreted. That it passed peer-review is another damning indictment of peer review.

Cook still refuses to provide about half the data, but the data that has been made public shows (after some digging) that a mere 41 papers out of 12,000 was called a 97% consensus. The trick is that Cook et al interchangeably use different definitions of consensus.

The Bait and Switch

The Bait: In the introduction Cook states that the reason for the paper is “to determine the level of scientific […]

Richard Tol: half Cook’s data still hidden. Rest shows result is incorrect, invalid, unrepresentative.

Richard Tol has been relentlessly polite in pursuing the data through email after email to John Cook, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Professor Max Lu and Professor Daniel Kammen, the journal editor. Tol simply wants the data so he can replicate and check John Cook’s results. Cook et al 2013 tried to demonstrate the irrelevant and unscientific point that there is a consensus among government funded climate scientists (if not among real scientists). We already know this study is fundamentally flawed (see Cook’s fallacy “97% consensus” study).

Now the University of Queensland’s scientific standards are being openly questioned too. Will UQ insist on the bare minimum standard that applies to all scientists — will they make sure Cook provides the data for a published paper? Did they realize what they were getting into when they gave Cook their platform?

Given the large media run when this paper was issued, and the importance of saving the world from a climate catastrophe, you would have thought that Cook et al […]

That’s a 0.3% consensus, not 97%

We’ve already found enough flaws, but Christopher Monckton analyzes John Cook’s 97% consensus paper and sharpens the scythe. He finds:

It should never have been done, it’s an unscientific method — “consensus” The “consensus” was defined in three different ways. (Which hypothesis are they testing?) None of the three definitions is specific enough to be falsifiable. The paper strangely omitted the key results. (Why make 7 classifications, if they were not going to disclose how many papers fell into each category?) Of nearly 12,000 abstracts analyzed, there were only 64 papers in category 1 (which explicitly endorsed man-made global warming). Of those only 41 (0.3%) actually endorsed the quantitative hypothesis as defined by Cook in the introduction. A third of the 64 papers did not belong. None of the categories endorsed “catastrophic” warming — a warming severe enough to warrant action — though this was assumed in the introduction, discussion and publicity material. The consensus (such as there is, and it being irrelevant) appears to be declining.

The nice thing about this commentary is that Monckton provides a summary of the philosophy of science (showing Cook et al are 2,300 years out of date). […]

Climate scientists move to atom-bomb number system, give up on exponentials

POSTED in the Satirical Tomes:

News that could have been, but wasn’t.

Climate modelers announced today that in future they would report everything in Hiroshima-atom-bomb-equivalents, or Habe. The President of Climate-Scientists-Anonymous said the old system of joules was boring, and no one understood what ten-to-the-twenty-two meant anyhow. “We leave that stuff to the computers” he said.

“The planet has been building up temperatures at the rate of four Hiroshima bombs of heat every second, and it’s all our fault, say climate scientists.”

— Neda Vanovac, Climate change like atom bomb (interviewing John Cook )

Skeptics said they preferred exponentials, but could debunk alarmists with any units. Science Blogger Jo Nova said if Neda Vanovac had called “I would have told her that while John Cook’s figure sounded like a marvelous marketing gimmick, scientifically it was meaningless. For starters, the Sun blasts 1,950 Hiroshima’s worth of energy over the Earth every second (h.t to Wellerstein). So we got four more? Did Cook forget to mention that, or was he just trying to scare people?”

Jo explains that Cook’s units are a parody of science: “The atomic-bomb delivered all the energy in […]

Lewandowsky, Cook and the Barack Obama tweet that wasn’t

Stephan Lewandowsky (and John Cook) got excited that Barack Obama ‘retweeted’ the (fallacious) 97% consensus study. In The Conversation, Stephan Lewandowsky made it the leading line (right under the name-calling headline):

“When President Obama last week tweeted that “97% of scientists agree: climate change is real, man-made, and dangerous” it drew the attention of his 31 million followers to the most recent study pointing to the consensus in climate science.”

As a Professor of Psychology on a academic site, we might assume Lewandowsky might be more factual and less like a direct marketing campaign. (Dear Stephan, there is no chance 31 million followers read his tweets. Twitter is not like that. Obama is following 662,021 people. You think he reads them?)

Worse, that tweet was not by Barack Obama. The @barackobama account is run by an activist group called Organizing for Action (OFA). It’s the fourth biggest twitter account in the world, but Obama gave the account to OFA earlier this year, and he doesn’t appear to have used it since. (Still it’s not like Lewandowsky’s career depends on understanding how people work, and how to spot a fake right? Oh. Wait… )

OFA use Obama’s photo and his name, […]

Cook’s fallacy “97% consensus” study is a marketing ploy some journalists will fall for

What does a study of 20 years of abstracts tell us about the global climate? Nothing. But it says quite a lot about the way government funding influences the scientific process.

John Cook, a blogger who runs the site with the ambush title “SkepticalScience” (which unskeptically defends the mainstream position), has tried to revive the put-down and smear strategy against the thousands of scientists who disagree. The new paper confounds climate research with financial forces, is based on the wrong assumptions, uses fallacious reasoning, wasn’t independent, and confuses a consensus of climate scientists for a scientific consensus, not that a consensus proves anything anyway, if it existed.

Given the monopolistic funding of climate science in the last 20 years, the results he finds are entirely predictable.

The twelve clues that good science journalists ought to notice:

1. Thousands of papers support man-made climate change, but not one found the evidence that matters

Cook may have found 3,896 papers endorsing the theory that man-made emissions control the climate, but he cannot name one paper with observations that shows that the assumptions of the IPCC climate models about water vapor and cloud feedbacks are correct. These assumptions produce half to two-thirds of […]

Dear John, you want “deniers” to help you do a fallacious survey eh?

John,

Thanks for the invite to assist with the crowd sourced online survey.

Unfortunately I just can’t see this working.

1. The survey is profoundly anti-science, it’s exactly the kind of thing I debunk on my blog. Consensus is the stuff of politics, not science. Science is not a democracy, and we don’t vote for the laws of physics, which are either right or wrong and not “97% popular”. Hence, any answer you get in this survey (and it appears you already have the answers) has got nothing to do with understanding the climate of Earth. It may possibly be helpful in psychosocial analysis of groupthink in modern science, or the effect of monopsonistic funding on scientific progress, but that brings me to problem 2, even if it were useful for that, you are not the researcher to study that. See point 2.

2. You still refer to us as “deniers” in much of your work. You admitted there was no such thing as a “climate denier” a few months ago (albeit after five years of using the term), but you have not adopted a more useful name, or apologized for abusing the English language. Clearly you think skeptics are […]

Lewandowsky, Cook claim 78,000 skeptics could see conspiracy survey at Cooks site where there is no link

The MoonLanding paper is finally here. Eight months after Lewandowsky was so sure he had a “peer reviewed” conclusion that he announced his results in The Guardian and The Telegraph , the paper has finally been published.

Lewandowsky et al claimed to show skeptics are nutters who believe any rabid conspiracy like the “moon-landing was faked”. Their novel method for discovering the views of skeptics involved surveying sites frequented by those who hate skeptics.

The survey questions included conspiracies likely to appeal to a small percentage of conservative or free market thinkers, and largely left out conspiracies that would appeal more to supporters of bigger government (like the idea that the rise of “climate denial” was a big-oil funded conspiracy). It studied big-government conspiracies and ignored big-corporate ones. There are gullible conspiracists who also believe in global warming, but there was no danger this survey would find them. The survey bias was so obvious, even alarmist commenters said they feared few “denialists” would take it. The results that were headlined in newspapers were based on a tiny sample of ten respondents to an anonymous online survey. Not surprisingly Lewandowsky’s university (UWA) received many complaints about ethics, methods, and the dismal […]