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Cook's unreported finding

I really have been struggling to summon up much enthusiasm for the inanities of John Cook's paper, but Brandon Schollenberger has written an extraordinary analysis of the data, which really has to be seen to be believed. Readers are no doubt aware that the paper involves rating abstracts of a whole bunch of research papers to see where they stand on the global warming question.

The guidelines for rating [the] abstracts show only the highest rating value blames the majority of global warming on humans. No other rating says how much humans contribute to global warming. The only time an abstract is rated as saying how much humans contribute to global warming is if it mentions:

that human activity is a dominant influence or has caused most of recent climate change (>50%).

If we use the system’s search feature for abstracts that meet this requirement, we get 65 results. That is 65, out of the 12,000+ examined abstracts. Not only is that value incredibly small, it is smaller than another value listed in the paper:

Reject AGW 0.7% (78)

Remembering AGW stands for anthropogenic global warming, or global warming caused by humans, take a minute to let that sink in.  This study done by John Cook and others, praised by the President of the United States, found more scientific publications whose abstracts reject global warming than say humans are primarily to blame for it.

I'm speechless.

Read the whole thing.

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Reader Comments (28)

Why are we still bothering with Cook's twaddle?

May 17, 2013 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Capell~ Because Total [snip][snip][snippety-snips] like oh!bummer! are already quoting it, and I know for a Fact that a certain person who argues against my postings where I argue, is rolling in it like a dog rolls in [snip].

That's why.

May 17, 2013 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

Starve the nutters of oxygen.

May 17, 2013 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

And before that gets compiled into a dossier of death threats, I meant the "oxygen of publicity" not the actual molecule.

May 17, 2013 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames


and as I posted in Unthreaded, influential "pro-science" Ben Goldacre has also tweeted sarcastically about the survey:

"there is huge dissent in the academic community about whether climate change is man made. Huge. Really huge. Really."

So it's becoming another false weapon in the smug alarmists armoury. We should stop this by pointing and laughing at anyone who falls for it.

I do agree with you though. Any analysis of a rubbish report could itself be deemed rubbish which is the danger here. The report is bad enough on its own.

May 17, 2013 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimonW

I mentioned on Unthreaded...

The purpose is clear. To marginalise the argument. if you marginalise then you have no need to debate.

These people do not want debate.

It is a Socialist propaganda technique.

May 17, 2013 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Just remind anybody you know who mentions Cook's on any medium, that they're self-confessed fools unable to read, understand or argue any point.

May 17, 2013 at 10:29 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

"This study done by John Cook and others, praised by the President of the United States ... "

Obama must be briefed as badly as our own lot if he's prepared to publicly endorse the syllogisms of the children of Cartoon Central.

Is this *really* the best the AGW cultists can offer? Embarrassing.

May 17, 2013 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

Jiminy Cricket

It is a Socialist propaganda technique.
And has been for as long as I can remember, and I go back a decade or several.
Along with the refusal to let anyone else make a point uninterrupted (listen to Toynbee on QT or any Labour front bencher as prime examples) it's the only way they can prevent the general public from discovering the holes in their argument.

May 17, 2013 at 10:51 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The time were better spent reading Cook to see what he has written ,, rather than parroting Schollenbergers excruciatingly twisted parsing of one category without reference to the others.

This is just silly.

May 17, 2013 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Go and read the thread on the Blackboard, where Schollenberger responds to questions. By the end it is clear to anyone who can read that it is Cook whose "parsing is excrucatingly twisted", (horrible phrase by the way) and Schollenberger who appears as a beacon of common sense, with Marcel Crok and others having been able to replicate his analysis.

May 17, 2013 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Marcel Crok at Lucia's (Cook just lumped in the maybe, implied, etc to make the 4000)


Ok here are the numbers following Brandon’s search method:
Category 1: 65
Category 2: 934
Category 3: 2933
Category 4 (neutral): 7930 [the reported number, not Brandon's method]
Category 5: 53
Category 6: 15
Category 7: 10

What Cook et al did is adding the numbers of category 1-3. In this way you get the almost 4000 abstracts supposed to “endorse” AGW.
However of these 3932 abstracts (Brandon’s method) 2933 (75%) fall in category 3. Now here is the description of ratings in category 3:

3. Implicit Endorsement of AGW
3.1 Mitigation papers that examine GHG emission reduction or carbon sequestration, linking it to climate change
3.2 Climate modelling papers that talks about emission scenarios and subsequent warming or other climate impacts from increased CO2 in the abstract implicitly endorse that GHGs cause warming
3.3 Paleoclimate papers that link CO2 to climate change
3.4 Papers about climate policy (specifically mitigation of GHG emissions) unless they restrict their focus to non-GHG issues like CFC emissions in which case neutral
3.5 Modelling of increased CO2 effect on regional temperature – not explicitly saying global warming but implying warming from CO2
3.6 Endorsement of IPCC findings is usually an implicit endorsement. (updated this so it is more than just reference to IPCC but actual endorsement of IPCC)

So the fair and meaningless result of their whole exercise is that 75% of the abstracts that say something about AGW at all “link CO2 to climate change” or “imply warming from CO2″.

Even the other >24% of category 2 is pretty meaningless:

2. Explicit Endorsement of AGW without quantification
2.1 Mention of anthropogenic global warming or anthropogenic climate change as a given fact.
2.2 Mention of increased CO2 leading to higher temperatures without including anthropogenic or reference to human influence/activity relegates to implicit endorsement.

Now for anyone who reads climate papers frequently this is totally obvious. Climate scientists have to frame their research in the abstract and there wouldn’t be so much climate papers if there was no concern for CO2.

May 17, 2013 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

The Telegraph has an uncritical article on this- I do hope some of the knowledgeable BH readers will go and add their comments to the page.

May 17, 2013 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

The Telegraph's feeble article does include the following offer from co-author Mark Richardson (who he?):

"A co-author of the new study, Mark Richardson, from the University of Reading, said: "If people disagree with what we've found we want to know.""

Elsewhere, Jo Nova's latest post adds to the demolition.

May 17, 2013 at 12:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

co-author Mark Richardson failed to declare in the papers affiliations, that he is a regular author at Skeptical Science, and part of the non-public inner circle.. (J Cook, Scuse, Dana show their affiliation, )

Sarah and Robert are also too shy.....

So why are three of the co-authors too shy to declare their affiliation with Skeptical Science? Ie they regular authors there, and part of the private Skeptical Science forum not open to the public

Why, not declare that (Dana does, as does John Cook, Andy Scuse)

John Cook 1, 2,3
Dana Nuccitelli 2,4
Andrew Skuce 2,9

1 Global Change Institute, University of Queensland, Australia
2 Skeptical Science, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
3 School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, Australia
4 Tetra Tech, Incorporated, McClellan, CA, USA,
9 Salt Spring Consulting Ltd, Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada

Perhaps it might be because they do not want to be perceived as a bunch of activists, if they all declare their affiliations to Skeptical Science..

Mark at Skeptical Science

Sarah at Skeptical Science

Robert at Skeptical Science

Perhaps a minor academic slap on the wrist/misdemeanor is due, and a minor correction made to the paper?

ref, Sarah Green, Mark Richardson and Robert Way?

Sarah A Green (5)
Mark Richardson (6)
Robert Way (7)

5 Department of Chemistry, Michigan Technological University, USA
6 Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, UK
7 Department of Geography, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada

Links all shown in the comments at Lucia's Blackboard

Perhaps Dana, or John Cook could ask the IOP to make that minor declaration for the paper, before anybody makes a big deal about it... how would academics consider this, a minor omission? ;-)

May 17, 2013 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I don't agree that we shouldn't take this stuff seriously, if Barack Obama does. Seriously in the sense of laughing our heads off at it, of course, as Brandon and others show just how little has been proven by Mr Cook.

SimonW: I assume you meant to imply that Ben Goldacre is being sarcastic in his tweet about huge dissent yesterday, as he dutifully points to another credulous Guardian article by Suzanne Goldenberg. I thought for a moment that the great statistics whizz and debunker of 'Bad Science' had attained some much needed consistency. We still have to put up with Bad Sneers for now I guess.

May 17, 2013 at 1:08 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

On the magical number of 97%, I think of what John Cook's old mucker Stephan Lewandowsky wrote to him and others on SKS privately (as they thought) in 2010:

By the way, a Swedish journalist, Jens Ergon, has done a better controlled survey of Swedish cllimate [sic] scientists and their publications and found the usual 97% agreement on AGW.

Think about that 'usual 97% agreement'. As I commented on Climate Audit last September

No variation across nation then. It’s 97%, not one more or less. The usual, as they say in climate statistics across the globe. Some would wish to quibble about how agreement on AGW was defined but I say the man’s a comic genius. It’s all in the deadpan delivery.

... do they all have to come to 97%? Surely, with all the best possible flawed questions and massaging of the data, for some country somewhere it came to 96%? Or 98%? That’s why, without looking into the original Swedish, I found Lewandowsky’s comment so laughable. It’s like you bring another country to the attention to the transnational climate statistics lab, they look at you and say “the usual?”, you nod and sure enough, within days, 97% of climate scientists agree with the consensus there too.

As Sherlock Holmes said it was the dog that didn’t bark that was the vital clue. Such lack of noise in this crucial stat across the globe (if we are to believe those that continually parrot it in the MSM) is truly a wonder of the modern world. Are we close to discovery of another fundamental constant, rivalling the Planck constant or c in e = m * c ^ 2 ?

May 17, 2013 at 1:35 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Very funny re "the usual 97%" RichardD. It's a preposterous thing to say.

The snakeoil salesmen seem to have no "feel" for numbers like say battle hardened engineers do.

There is spurious precision everywhere in their pronouncements. Massive error bars are just glossed over as if of no consequence. Intelligent people put out 20/20/20/20/20 forecasts with a straight face as if it actually means something.

Even at the top end you get stuff like Steig's Antartic smearing which is championed as some great insight rather than the public sign of incompetence it really is.

Thanks Heavens for t'internet so that SteveMc, JeffID, NicL and the other bright sparks of the world can point out their errors.

May 17, 2013 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimonW

I loved this conclusion in the paper: "Among papers expressing a position on AGW, an overwhelming percentage (97.2% based on self-ratings, 97.1% based on abstract ratings) endorses the scientific consensus on AGW."

So this paper is actually a consensus on "endorsing the scientific consensus"...huh?

May 17, 2013 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeC

In addition to my previous post, are they implying that anonymous Internet raters came within 0.1% of the author's self-ratings? That's astounding!

May 17, 2013 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeC

Of course the mainstream media eats this up with a large spoon. But the amusement factor for me is the way they are more than content to expose their true feelings about 'consensus' when it comes to other matters of science: PBS NewsHour: Against scientific consensus before they were for it

May 17, 2013 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell C

In the Sceptical Science "leak", they said that their "climate consensus" project was more about marketing than analysis. In that respect, their paper has achieved its aim, with various headlines citing the 97% figure. It doesn't matter how crap the actual paper is - nobody is going to read it. But plenty of people read the headlines.

May 17, 2013 at 6:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

Bish, the president didn't even send that Cook endorsement tweet, an activist staffer did.

See header here:

Note: "This account is run by Organizing for Action staff. Tweets from the President are signed -bo."

Then look at the Cook Tweet:

Not signed "-bo".

May 17, 2013 at 10:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Watts

Thanks for that important detail, Mr Watts, And all the other stuff :)

May 17, 2013 at 11:25 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Good to see Dan Kahan (h/t Anthony) and Keith Kloor rubbishing Cook. Not that they question the reality of the consensus, or not very deeply. But rubbishing can become a useful habit. And they wouldn't be doing it unless there was by now a widespread public reaction - I almost said revulsion - over the excesses of the past.

May 18, 2013 at 12:53 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

There's some fun going on at WUWT on the 97% theme - good for a giggle to start the day. Paraphrasing one post:
<< 97% of Brits are mathematically challenged; the other 13% are'nt >>
I particularly liked:
<< 97% of lemmings are just following the consensus; the other 3% really believe they can fly >>

May 18, 2013 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikeH

Yeah, get over to WUWT and remember

you can’t fool 97% of the people 97% of the time

May 18, 2013 at 10:20 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

On "The Consensus Project" website, you can search for various key terms in the various endorsement levels for AGW. So I searched up "Cosmic Ray" in the search, and selected Endorsement Level 2, which endorses Anthropogenic Global Warming, but does not quantify how much warming.

I was very surprised with the result that came up.

The image above shows the paper that popped up. The paper that popped up was none other than by Dr. Nir J. Shaviv, who happens to be one of the most prominent skeptics on the issue.

The paper was titled "On climate response to changes in the cosmic ray flux and radiative budget" and concludes that,

"Subject to the above caveats and those described in the text, the CRF/climate link therefore implies that the increased solar luminosity and reduced CRF over the previous century should have contributed a warming of 0.47 ± 0.19°K, while the rest should be mainly attributed to anthropogenic causes. Without any effect of cosmic rays, the increase in solar luminosity would correspond to an increased temperature of 0.16 ± 0.04°K."

How at all does this endorse Anthropogenic Global Warming when it concludes that over half of the 0.7 Degree C warming observed over the 20th Century can be explained by Solar Luminosity and the Cosmic Ray Flux?

The paper that allegedly supported John Cook's view on Anthropogenic Global Warming, actually cited that most of the warming can be explained by the Cosmic Ray Flux and Solar Luminosity alone. Thus, this raises some serious doubt as to how many of the papers classified as supporting AGW, actually do support the IPCC's view on AGW.

May 18, 2013 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnowlover123

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