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Stupid Science Tricks

When science and agenda collide.

by
Charlie Martin

Bio

August 29, 2013 - 1:30 pm

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Of course, regular readers of this column seeing politics and ugly discussions in the context of science immediately think of the climate change debate; sure enough, that is the topic of today’s stupid science trick.

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard quoted the result from Cook and others that “97 percent of scientists agree that global warming is caused by humans”. (If not, have a look at this Google search.) This has been a subject of a succession of stupid science tricks.

The Cook et al study basically worked like this: a collection of papers were selected by computer, and rated by readers on a 1 to 7 scale from “Explicit endorsement with quantification” to “Explicit rejection with quantification.”

Richard Tol examined the paper statistically and found:

The claim that 97% of the scientific literature endorses anthropogenic climate change (Cook et 15 al., 2013, Environmental Research Letters) does not stand. Numbers are padded with irrelevant papers. A trend in composition is mistaken for a trend in endorsement. Reported results are inconsistent. The sample is not representative. Data quality is low. Key results cannot be reproduced or tested as data disclosure is incomplete.

Stupid Science Trick #1: Don’t Understand the Results

This one is a favorite of journalists. If you read the headlines in, say, the Washington Post

97 percent of scientific studies agree on manmade global warming, so what now?

they read as if 97 percent of all studies agree. Unfortunately, that’s not even what Cook et al say: the real result was that 97 percent of studies that they classified as taking a position on climate change agreed — but 66 percent of the papers they examined took no position at all.

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Top Rated Comments   
I can not even list the number of consensus proven researched facts, now abandoned in the field of medicine, the arena where I work every day. In medicine we take these things in stride. Just change and accept. Every day is a learning experience.

Medicine is much more simple and easily adaptable to experiment than "climate science". You cannot do double blind studies or put something like global climate into a petrie dish. We know we get it wrong often and just blunder on, these newbies think they got all the answers from the weak platform of mathematical modeling.

That is why I am a skeptic.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (10)
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An aside you may find interesting:

A number of years ago, a pair of researchers at UCAR used the IPCC's favored model, except instead of utilizing a vast array of assumptions, they used actual data collected from surface and sea monitoring stations from across the globe (except for 45 degrees South Latitude, there are precious few stations there due to geography, etc.).

What they got out as a result bore no resemblance to the IPCC's claims. All of their "proven" hallmarks of Global Warming didn't appear. None of them. No precipitous temperature increase; no Thermal Inversion centered around the ITCZ (Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, a few hundred km north/south of the Equator, where the two hemispheric weather systems merge). Nada.

I find it very interesting that I have never been able to re-locate this paper again. It's as if it was purged. You think?
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Having been a research scientist for 35+ years and having reviewed papers for publication as well as publishing over a hundred of my own research papers, I can tell you that there are a great many people who claim to be practicing science who do not understand what science is or how to do it properly. I have seen cold fusion and many other phenomena be one hit wonders only to die sometimes very slow deaths. These deaths occur by the generation of data by people who are attempting to build upon the original work, but nothing works as it is supposed to. Since the tie to get new data points about global warming is so slow, it is no wonder why it is taking such a long time to figure things out. On top of that, you have a funding environment that is extremely tight so people have to make big splashes in order to get funded. This leads to jumping onto bandwagons and ignoring evidence that doesn't fit. There is only one thing worse and that is when the field of study becomes politicized and non-scientists who know even less weigh in with the pseudo-education opinions. It becomes the blind leading the blind. People, especially politicians should leave science to the scientists and realize that reading two newspaper articles does not an expert make. We have reached a point where too many people are staying at Holiday Inn Expresses and think they know infinitely more than the, in reality do.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Y'know, maybe that's just life. It's certainly also true in the IT field. Probably 80% of the "workers" in the area could accelerate progress if they left the office and spent all day every day AFK on the golf course. Hmm, remind you of any POTUS?
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
The "Warmist" crowd lost me a long time ago for a variety of reasons - that their predictions are always dire, yet never pan out; that Climate sensitivity to CO2 increases appears to be much smaller than they continue to claim; that it's almost all Forcings, yet the only Feedbacks they mention are catastrophic, as if no other possibility exists.

And, yes, the constant barrage of smug Lefties who not only don't know any actual Atmospheric Science, they don't even know what they don't know. Just continual talking points they couldn't actually explain if their lives depended on it.

"Progressives" claim they don't believe in Religion, but that's a lie. The myth of Climate Change is their faith, and Al Gore is their Prophet.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I can not even list the number of consensus proven researched facts, now abandoned in the field of medicine, the arena where I work every day. In medicine we take these things in stride. Just change and accept. Every day is a learning experience.

Medicine is much more simple and easily adaptable to experiment than "climate science". You cannot do double blind studies or put something like global climate into a petrie dish. We know we get it wrong often and just blunder on, these newbies think they got all the answers from the weak platform of mathematical modeling.

That is why I am a skeptic.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your paper said nothing about Anti-Gravity Engines. Therefore, you endorse the concept of AGE's! Wow.

Progressives: If they're speaking or writing, they're lying. That should be a principle of physics.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I’m confident I’m going to have comments telling me that the whole notion of CO2 causing a greenhouse effect is false. "

Hmmm. Not sure you said what you meant to say here, Charlie. Or perhaps you were just anticipating flak from the Illiterati?

I don't think there's a debate about CO2 causing a greenhouse effect. The debate is about how much, and does it continue to increase now that we are past the point of 100% reflectivity for the relevant wavelengths.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Gotcha.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
GREAT stuff, Charlie
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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