Scroll To Top

Friday, March 27, 2015

Deconstructing the 97% self-destructed Richard Tol

Sou | 1:38 AM Go to the first of 183 comments. Add a comment

If you're a mediocre academic who yearns to be in the spotlight, what do you do? If you've burnt your bridges academically and cemented a reputation as a bit of a hack who isn't too fussed about accuracy.  If you aren't too worried that you'll end your lack-lustre career on a third-rate public speaking circuit, talking to a handful of doddering deniers in seedy back rooms of government buildings, then you might consider a career as a climate science denier.

That's the image that comes to mind when I consider the antics of Richard Tol over the past few years. Richard managed to snag a position as Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex in the UK. He specialises in the economics of climate, sort of, though he's had mixed success. That's mainly because he's not a detail person. He isn't too fussed when he lets mistakes slip through - unless, that is, someone catches him out.

You may recall Richard took it on himself to change parts of the IPCC report, after it had been through the review stage, and introduced errors by doing so. When he got called on it he spat the dummy and tossed in the towel (insert whatever similar imagery you like here).

Richard seems to prefer to talk about other people's work, maybe to deflect attention away from his own gross errors - of fact and of judgement. He has a tendency to make wild allegations with no supporting evidence. He also has a tendency to make wild allegations in the face of contrary evidence.

Richard is obsessed with the study by John Cook et al, which determined that almost all scientific papers on climate science, which attributed a cause to global warming, attributed it to human activity. Now anyone who's kept up with climate science knows that's a no-brainer. There is no doubt that the current global warming is caused by us. Richard himself doesn't doubt it.

There is no explanation for this particular obsession that I can fathom. Maybe he was offended by something one of the authors said at one time. Maybe he's jealous of the clear success of the paper. (It's one of the most widely read papers relating to climate, and one of the most widely cited in the public arena.)

Still trying to disprove something he agrees with

Richard's still at it, after two years. After numerous failed attempts to disprove the Cook13 paper and to find flaws in it, he's decided to just make up stuff. The funny thing about all this is that Richard agrees with the findings of the Cook13 study. Anyway, this week he got The Australian to publish a very silly article that must make his employers wonder what got into them the day they gave him a job. If a person wanted to ruin their reputation, they would do well to emulate Richard Tol. (Perhaps Richard's role model is Luboš Motl - another climate science denier who went off the rails.)

Disinformation isn't a difficult trade to master. The target audience is not at all discerning and very easy to please. Facts are no more necessary to the task than evidence or logic or consistency. Unsubstantiated statements are expected, facts are frowned upon. Contradictions are viewed favourably by the applauding denier rabble. Conspiracy theories are desirable but not essential.

Consider this article by Bob Tisdale at WUWT. He applauds the article by Richard Tol, but doesn't say why he applauds it. He wrote:

Bob: If you’re like me, you’ve lost track of the paper’s flaws, there were just so many
My Comment: Bob hasn't found a single flaw in the paper, which is why he hasn't listed even one.

Bob: and how it is misrepresented, which is most of the time.
My Comment: Bob and science deniers are the only people misrepresenting the paper. Again he doesn't bother to explain how or why anyone else did or would.

Bob then tops and tails Richard's article but makes no substantive comment. That's typical denier behaviour.

Richard Tol and the 97%

What about Richard's article itself? It's also a lesson in how to disinform. Here is his opening:
Now almost two years old, John Cook’s 97% consensus paper has been a runaway success. Downloaded over 300,000 times, voted the best 2013 paper in Environmental Research Letters, frequently cited by peers and politicians from around the world, with a dedicated column in the Guardian, the paper seems to be the definitive proof that the science of climate change is settled.

The straw man

Richard started off well right up until he got to the bit about "definitive proof...". There are many aspects of the science of climate change that could be described as "settled". For example, increasing greenhouse gases will warm the world. However to imply that there is no more to learn or that there are no aspects of the science that are not settled is incorrect. It's a straw man. Disinformers build straw men a lot. It's easy. No facts required and you've built something out of nothing that you can tear down.

The big flaw

He then says something really silly. Richard wrote:
Consensus has no place in science. Academics agree on lots of things, but that does not make them true.
Right. No it's wrong isn't it. Scientists do not go back to first principles every time they do some research. They build on existing knowledge. How do they know whether to build on knowledge or question it? One important sign is the extent to which facts have been corroborated. If all science to date shows something to be so, then that is taken as being so. If evidence emerges to contradict, then the knowledge shifts accordingly. Virologists do not set out to prove viruses exist every time they do research on a virus. They take it as given that there are such things as viruses. A person studying hydrology does not repeat an experiment to determine at what temperature and pressure water changes phase each time they do some research. They draw on consensus. They are satisfied that scientists who have gone before them measured the temperature and pressure accurately for the boiling and freezing points of water.

The inconsistency

After saying that consensus has no place in science, Richard then shifts to arguing that consensus can be assumed to equate to being fact. He wrote:
Even so, agreement that climate change is real and human-caused does not tell us anything about how the risks of climate change weigh against the risks of climate policy

He seems to be saying that climate change is real and that it is caused by humans, and then building on that as fact, to argue that one cannot assess risks. It's a trite if not meaningless statement. The first step in assessing risk and developing a risk treatment is to define the hazard, the likelihood of it occurring and the consequence if it does occur. Having determined the likelihood and the consequence, one can then consider different treatments - Richard's "climate policy". In other words, knowing that climate change is real and human caused is a necessary preliminary step in developing climate policy.

The gobbledegook - Richard's "political manifesto"?

Richard then shifts further into gobbledegook. He wrote:
But in our age of pseudo-Enlightenment, having 97% of researchers on your side is a powerful rhetoric for marginalizing political opponents. All politics ends in failure, however. Chances are the opposition will gain power well before the climate problem is solved. Polarization works in the short run, but is counterproductive in the long run.

What does that even mean? What is Richard trying to say? What is the "age of pseudo-Enlightenment"? How did he manage to jump from the science of climate to "marginalizing political opponents"? There was no bridge. These words came out of the blue.

And what about "all politics ends in failure"? What does he mean by that? And is he seriously suggesting that there is a possibility that climate change could disappear in the two to four years of a typical election cycle? That's nuts.

And why does he bring in the notion of "polarization"? What prompted it? there was nothing preceding in his article that was suggestive of "polarization" on any topic. Remember, he got as far as acknowledging something about climate science, and then jumped feet first into politics, rhetoric and whatever.

I've worked with economists and, in the main, they are reasonably savvy politically. Not so Richard Tol. He comes across as a sloppy thinker at best.

The facts

Richard flip flopped between facts and nonsense. For example, he wrote:
In their paper, Cook and colleagues argue that 97% of the relevant academic literature endorses that humans have contributed to observed climate change. This is unremarkable. It follows immediately from the 19th century research by Fourier, Tyndall and Arrhenius. In popular discourse, however, Cook’s finding is often misrepresented. The 97% refers to the number of papers, rather than the number of scientists. The alleged consensus is about any human role in climate change, rather than a dominant role, and it is about climate change rather than the dangers it might pose.
Although there are large areas of substantive agreement, climate science is far from settled. Witness the dozens of alternative explanations of the current, 18 year long pause in warming of the surface atmosphere. The debate on the seriousness of climate change or what to do about it ranges even more widely.

The fiction

The previous was a mix of fact and strawman. I'll let it pass and move onto this next bit:
The Cook paper is remarkable for its quality, though. Cook and colleagues studied some 12,000 papers, but did not check whether their sample is representative for the scientific literature. It isn’t. Their conclusions are about the papers they happened to look at, rather than about the literature. Attempts to replicate their sample failed: A number of papers that should have been analysed were not, for no apparent reason.

That's complete and utter nonsense. The Cook study described how the sample was chosen and it was rigorous and non-controversial in that process. Richard is making up stuff. Richard pointed to his own very silly "paper" when he talks about "attempts to replicate the study failed" - thing is, he didn't attempt to replicate the study. Far from having failed attempts to replicate the sample, other studies produce virtually identical results. For example, James Powell has been examining the scientific literature. These days there are virtually no published climate science papers that dispute the human cause of global warming. Richard goes on with more nonsense:
The sample was padded with irrelevant papers. An article about TV coverage on global warming was taken as evidence for global warming. In fact, about three-quarters of the papers counted as endorsements had nothing to say about the subject matter.

Richard gets very confused about sampling. First he says there weren't enough papers in the sample, then he says there were too many papers in the sample. And he's flat out wrong when he talks about three quarters having nothing to say about the subject matter. Nor does he provide any evidence to back it up except to point to the abstract of his own silly paper.

Off the deep end - nuts vs nutty

If you manage to get beyond those few paragraphs you'll come away with the idea that Richard has gone off the deep end. That there's a screw loose up top. Or more likely several screws loose. Richard is describing his several months of constant harassment of John Cook and the editors of ERL, while he was obsessively trying, and failing, to find something wrong with the paper - despite agreeing with its conclusions.

I've written enough. I've noticed that science disinformers lack substance, logic, consistency and are apparently incapable of rational thought. Perhaps that's where Richard's "pseudo" comes in.'

Richard fits well into his chosen milieu - the Global Warming Policy Foundation - alongside the phys ed instructor, the failed banker and the rest of the ragtag bunch of deniers. If he wants to be viewed as a nutty professor then I'd say he's failed. The image of the nutty professor is of a person who is eccentric and very clever. Richard just comes across as nuts, not nutty - obsessive and not very bright.

References and further reading

Cook, John, Dana Nuccitelli, Sarah A. Green, Mark Richardson, Bärbel Winkler, Rob Painting, Robert Way, Peter Jacobs, and Andrew Skuce. "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature." Environmental Research Letters 8, no. 2 (2013): 024024.  doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024 (Open access)

From the HotWhopper archives


  1. Well said. Tol is clearly not over-burdened by intelligence. The fact that he's blagged a professorship at Surrey says much about the naivety of academia and sod-all about Tol's intellectual prowess. The man's a fraud.

    1. Cugel I don't think academia is that naive and tenure does have its limits. I suspect that the University of Sussex may be focused on those limits even if Richard is oblivious to them.

    2. Cugel this might give us a insight on how he's viewed at Sussex.

    3. A case of relevance deprivation syndrome?

  2. I know this will sound funny, but I seem to remember an early comment by Tol complaining about the Cook study not having enough papers by himself in the sample. I think this entire effort is driven by vanity.

    1. That is the only reason that seems to explain the obsession - his work dismissed as not worthy of consideration in the analysis of a single publication! That would make most of us hopping mad, at least until after lunch. Then it would be a matter of getting back to work. But if you were still pissed then an email off to the authors could ask for an explanation, or maybe a Letter to the Editor justifying why your papers should have been included. Not sure Tol could make a satisfactory attempt at the latter.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Sou you have written the definitive primer on Richard Toll and it's both fair and devastating. It had to be written and it will have consequences.

    Toll has brought this on himself.

    I urge the students at Sussex to promote this piece and I'm sure it's already doing the rounds of faculty members. Unlike Warwick and Bristol, Sussex is nowhere near the Times Educational Supplement's top 100 and that's got to rankle. The Times rates the universities based on the standard and breadth of their research. Toll isn't assisting.

  5. What does that even mean? What is Richard trying to say? What is the "age of pseudo-Enlightenment"? How did he manage to jump from the science of climate to "marginalizing political opponents"? There was no bridge. These words came out of the blue.

    And what about "all politics ends in failure"? What does he mean by that? And is he seriously suggesting that there is a possibility that climate change could disappear in the two to four years of a typical election cycle? That's nuts.

    I think what he means, is: the road to hell is paved with good intentions. So if we don't do anything, we won't go to hell! Because we just don't know what will happen, it's all too uncertain. Have the courage to do nothing, to quote another nutter.

    This, of course, fits in perfectly with the laissez-faire free market fundamentalist bail-out ideology of the No Global Warming Policy Foundation.

  6. A consensus of scientific thinking about a particular matter might not directly inform the way that science is conducted to arrive at the various understandings within that matter, but it is crucial for social and political action on the consequences arising from the consensus understanding of that subject.

    This is why we are so interested in the detailing of a scientific consensus.

    Tol and his ilk persistently avoid facing this fact.

    On the quantification of the consensus of expert thinking about human-caused climate change, at my institution there are hundreds of scientists amongst thousands of academics, and not a single one of which I am aware (and I know most of these people's works) has published anything to dispute the IPCC summarisation of the science. Of the whole academic population there are two whose work I've seen that dispute the consensus as detailed IPCC - one is an engineer and the other a sociologist.

    The inesapable conclusion is that where I work the consensus is >97%...

    1. Bernard,
      On the off chance some in those thousands actually thought differently, or had some interesting theories and data supporting their view; How many of them would go ahead and publish in the current environment?

      In the event they happened to be correct it would be decades before they were vindicated, and their careers in the meantime would take a 'less than stellar' trajectory.

    2. Ooh, I didn't know you were a climate conspiracy theorist, marke. The "gate-keeper" denier meme rears it's head again.

      Tell me, rather than build a strawman, show us all these articles that dispute the cause of global warming that haven't been published. Show us the data. With so many denier blogs around you should be able to point to someone who's complained about their Nobel prize-winning paper not getting published.

      They should be lining up to get their papers in Anthony's failed OAS journal that has yet to see the light of day.

      No? Not a one? Not a single explanation for the current warming that contradicts two hundred years of science?

      What you've fabricated is called a straw man. Empty denier nonsense.

    3. Conspiracy ideation ...

    4. Marke, you seem to be missing the several points.

      1) I'm aware of the actual acceptance of the climate science of a large majority of the population of which I spoke - it comes with the territory of one of my responsibilities. Whilst it's not a census, assuming a random sampling the number of dissenters is likely small. You are effectively implying that the dissenters are mostly hiding from me, and given that the two denialists to which I referred are conspicuous on my radar, parsimony argues to the contrary.

      2) There are dissenters publishing - two of which I am aware, and neither who are expert in the physics of climate change. This doesn't seem to have affected their propensity to publish, and nor to be employed by our institution. Why should the others be hiding when there are two precedents set? And if they have proper expertise they should be eager to publish, because using the credibility of their relevant expertise they would surely follow in the footsteps of Marshall and Warren...

      3) Even if there are poor persecuted deniers hiding in their offices, too afraid to publish their views, my comments pertain to my sampling of the population, and the fact remains that the consensus appears to be firmly in the >97% region. Whilst I allowed for some possible extras (even a dozen, say, over several hundred scientists, I'm just not seeing that the 97% figure is off the mark.

      Why is it that this fact sticks so in the craws of denialists?

      Of course you're welcome to conduct a straw poll of your own institution if you work in academia. If anyone could scratch the surface and show that there are research institutions where there is less than 90% or so in agreement with the consensus I'm sure that some of the local sociologists (or economists) would be jumping to plumb deeper into the phenomenon...

    5. If there were a strong argument against climate change being suppressed by all those nasty referees, one would think that a senior statesman near retirement age would go ahead and put it in print.

      The closest we have to this are Lindzen, Spencer/Christy, and Curry, all of whom have no inhibitions whatsoever about speaking out. However, none of them has been able to make an argument that holds up.

      That's because no such argument has been discovered, almost certainly because no such argument exists.

  7. "John Cook’s 97% consensus paper has been a runaway success. Downloaded over 300,000 times, voted the best 2013 paper in Environmental Research Letters..."

    Well, that is amazing.
    From my brief investigations any paper which mentioned climate change was assumed to be from a source knowledgeable on climate, whereas the reality may be they are simply citing the official 'state of play':

    Here are the first 25 papers listed in "Category 2" of the paper, hardly re-assuring (to me at least) in their subject:

    (Titles only. All are Category 2: endorse but not quantify – search term ‘climate’ on SKS )
    1. Biological Diversity And Neptune Realm
    2. Biological Diversity, Ecology, And Global Climate Change
    3. Climate Change Negotiations Polarize
    4. Climatology And Society
    5. Global Warming – Evidence For Asymmetric Diurnal Temperature-change
    6. Model Estimates Of Co2 Emissions From Soil In Response To Global Warming
    7. Photovoltaics And Materials Science – Helping To Meet The Environmental Imperatives Of Clean-air And Climate Change
    8. Potential Impacts Of Global Climate Change On Pacific-northwest Spring Chinook Salmon (oncorhynchus-tshawytscha) – An Exploratory Case-study
    9. Response To Skeptics Of Global Warming
    10. Alternative Energy-resources – A Kenyan Perspective
    11. Carbon Tax As A Dynamic Optimization Problem
    12. Climate Forcing By Anthropogenic Aerosols
    13. Deriving Global Climate Sensitivity From Paleoclimate Reconstructions
    14. Ethical Issues Concerning Potential Global Climate Change On Food-production
    15. Global Climate Change
    16. Global Climate Change – Ecosystems Effects
    17. Interactions Between Hydrodynamics And Pelagic Ecosystems –
    Relevance To Resource Exploitation And Climate Change
    18. The Social And Public-health Implications Of Global Warming
    19. The Onslaught Of Alien Species
    20. The Use Of Iron And Other Trace-element Fertilizers In 23. Mitigating Global Warming
    21. Time-dependent Greenhouse Warming Computations With A Coupled Ocean-atmosphere Model
    22. Agriculture In A Greenhouse World
    23. An Empirical-analysis Of The Strength Of The Phytoplankton-dimethylsulfide-cloud-climate Feedback Cycle
    24. Co2 And Climatic-change – An Overview Of The Science
    25. Global Vegetation Change Predicted By The Modified Budyko Model

    And then,
    Most of us could in many cases say yes to 2 and 3, without agreeing that climate change was primarily human-caused or necessarily catastrophic:

    1. Endorsements (including implicit and explicit; categories 1–3
    (1) Explicit endorsement with quantification: Explicitly states that humans are the primary cause of recent global warming eg ‘The global warming during the 20th century is caused mainly by increasing greenhouse gas
    concentration especially since the late 1980s’
    (2) Explicit endorsement without quantification: Explicitly states humans are causing (‘some’ my edit) global warming or refers to anthropogenic global warming/climate change as a known fact: eg ‘Emissions of a broad range of greenhouse gases of varying lifetimes contribute to global climate change’
    (3) Implicit endorsement Implies humans are causing global warming: E.g., research assumes greenhouse gas emissions cause warming without explicitly stating humans are the cause ‘. . . carbon sequestration in soil is important for mitigating global climate change’ (lack of quantification...)

    1. If you made this enquiry at SkS you could cut straight to the chase. But of course cutting straight to the chase is the very last thing you want to do, isn't it marke?

    2. My inquiries are apparently quite unwelcome at SKS.

    3. I would suggest that you search using the term " "; a single space.That should include any paper with more than one word in the title.

      Now, have you tried reading any of those abstracts? The first on your list, for example, states among other things that:

      "Global climate change and soaring extinction rates appear to be the consequence of anthropogenic effects."

      Seems like a pretty clear and explicit endorsement to me. And it's not apparent that you've actually read any of the abstracts you've searched upon.

    4. Marke - don't tell me you are arguing that there are more than one or two per cent of published scientific papers since 1990, which dispute the human cause of modern warming.

      That would be quite silly.

      Apart from Willie Soon and other deniers who get dubious papers published in off topic journals of dubious quality, there are virtually no scientific papers published these days that provide any evidence that it's not human activity such as CO2 emissions, that's caused the modern warming.

      As for the papers being the "first 25" - you need to do the categorising yourself of the abstracts, and then say whether you agree or disagree with the categorisation. (I'm assuming you are referring to the order you got them in, not the order in which they were categorised - which you probably have no way of knowing.) Then do the same for the other 12,000 odd papers. Then come back and let us know if you think the 97% figure is about right or if it's 98% :D

      BTW - you should be aware that the Cook survey of authors came back with a slightly higher percentage than the Cook categorisation of abstracts, of their papers that attribute humans as the cause. Still in the order of 97%.

      (I can't believe there are still people who are disputing this survey. Yet not one person who disputes it, has bothered to do something similar for themselves. It's not rocket science. I know why no denier will do something similar. It's much the same reason that Steve McIntyre buried the AScott survey of conspiracy theorists at WUWT. They know what the result will be and it will be very similar to Cook13.)

    5. The Cook et al paper also asked the authors of the papers to rate their own papers. On average, we were conservative with our abstract ratings: author ratings tended to result in stronger endorsement of the consensus.

    6. Sou you would have read this exchange at WUWT, but Nova's unintentional transparency is hilarious.

      John M. Ware March 26, 2015 at 2:50 am
      Is it possible for someone else to redo the “study” and do it right? I realize that it would require lots of time and effort (actually reading at least the abstracts, honestly recording data about the content with respect to well-formulated criteria, and treating the data with scientific rigor before arriving at results); but if someone–or several honest, objective people–were to do this, it just might help to counteract the non-scientific junk that is out there crudding things up now. Just a thought . . .

      Jo Nova March 26, 2015 at 3:40 am

      John, its not worth redoing it. The result is a mere proxy for one sided funding, and at best gives us a little more information about the sociological culture of climate research. It’s not worth whatever money it would take.

      I would rather survey all scientists (across many fields) to get an estimate of what the true scientific consensus is. A consensus of certified government funded climate publishing people is constantly misrepresented in the press as a consensus of all scientists.

      Though the pursuit of “consensus” is a waste of time as far as our climate knowledge goes, at least a better understanding of it would poke a hole in the PR meme.

      And not to put too fine a point on it, it would deliver the same results. So Jo reckons that the problem with the Cook13 methodology is that they included climate practitioners instead of all those structural engineers who signed the Oregon Petition.

    7. Sou:

      "Marke - don't tell me you are arguing that there are more than one or two per cent of published scientific papers since 1990, which dispute the human cause of modern warming."

      Of course he's not, because if it were true, it would directly contradict his earlier statement:

      "On the off chance some in those thousands actually thought differently, or had some interesting theories and data supporting their view; How many of them would go ahead and publish in the current environment?"


    8. Plus the implied giant humungous decades-long world-wide climate conspiracy, where hundreds of thousands, nay, thousands of millions of people have conspired to "hide" the true facts from Jo. And not one denier has managed to infiltrate this climate conspiracy to expose the true cause of global warming - the one-eyed one-horned flying purple people eater. (Or is it the Lizard Men?)

    9. marke: "My inquiries are apparently quite unwelcome at SKS."

      marke - if I may suggest polite enquiry rather than an accusation - veiled or blatant, would get you further. Assume good intentions on their part. Don't fall for denier conspiracy theories of "nefarious intent" - it just makes you look stupid and foolish as well as, understandably, getting people's backs up.

      (PS My previous comment was about PG's comment about Jo Nova.)

    10. survey all scientists (across many fields) to get an estimate of what the true scientific consensus is

      I'd be particularly interested to know what entomologists think of the Higgs boson.

    11. I'd be particularly interested to know what entomologists think of the Higgs boson.

      Yes, David, I think Jo is barking up the wrong tree there.

      But perhaps it is a bit like asking biologists, negotiators, sociologists, soil scientists, electrical/materials engineers, fisheries scientists, economists/taxation experts, ethicists, ecologists, sociologists/public health experts, etc (just to run down the list of articles above) their opinions on the threat of AGW.

    12. Marke, that's not what Cook13 did. They didn't ask opinions of individuals. They categorised abstracts of published scientific papers. That is vastly different from getting vague "opinions".

      Two random examples from your above link:

      Biologists, soil scientists, fisheries scientist, ecologists and public health experts need to be cognisant of global warming and its impacts.

      You still haven't provided any evidence that there are more than about 2% of scientific papers in the last twenty years that attribute a cause to global warming other than human activity.

      In order to dispute the findings of the Cook study you need to produce evidence to the contrary. You haven't because you can't.

  8. Did you read the abstracts to each of these papers?

    1. All that I could access. They are mostly very general in their 'endorsement'.

    2. They are all available at Skeptical Science.

    3. Marke - being "very general" is why they weren't rated as level 1 endorsement. So you're saying they were categorised properly.

      This gets back to Richard's silly comment about consensus (see the article). Scientists don't go back to first principles every time they do research. There are only a few attribution studies done over time. Most are assuming the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas - it was proven long ago. You cannot expect to find thousands and thousands of papers all reporting whether or not CO2 is a greenhouse gas! For one thing, repeating this wouldn't pass muster for a scientific journal, most of which want novel research - not a repeat of already documented research.

    4. Noted Sou; but as such perhaps most are simply repeating the 'current state of play', and not necessarily indicating their own opinion or view.

    5. marke - what PG said (below). Also a "view" or "opinion" is worth nothing unless it is based on evidence and supported by a credible explanation. (USA right wing ideology won't cut it.)

      Your "view" that multiple thousands of science editors from thousands of science journals all over the world are conspiring to prevent some unknown, unstated, unfound papers from being published is a case in point.

      You've still not produced evidence of a single paper which "should" have been published not getting a show - that disputes the cause of global warming and/or points to some cause other than human activities. It's pure bluff and bluster on your part without a smidgen of evidence to support it.

      You can have your opinions but they are worthless without facts.

    6. Marke:

      "Noted Sou; but as such perhaps most are simply repeating the 'current state of play', and not necessarily indicating their own opinion or view."

      In other words, they're lying. More conspiracy ideation.

    7. They have to toe the party line, or else they don't get paid. That's what we all would do, right? Every single person. Thousands and thousands of people, so dependent on the gravy train that they don't dare speak up.

    8. Yeah - the same applied when the Bush administration tried to water down James Hansen's reports and muzzle him - the same James Hansen who was just saying what the White House wanted him to say - right?

      Deniers are nothing if not consistently inconsistent.

    9. Hi Sou,

      It is important (to me, anyway) for me to state I do not have any time for any ideas of vast conspiracy theories on the issue.

      But we do know that quite often large group of people have a very firm belief in a certain viewpoint, without any underlying conspiracy, and this belief is not necessarily backed by credible evidence.

      For instance, in twenty years traveling in Indonesia, I have never yet met one citizen who states they are atheist or agnostic, and I suspect very few exist.

    10. Marke. In your last remark you seem to be trying to equate scientific method with religious belief. Seriously: if that is the case then you have revealed yourself to be either dishonest or painfully stupid.

    11. You can state what you like, marke. Yet you've already in this thread shown that you have a tendency for conspiracy ideation. You've implied here and here that some scientists are too scared to speak of their research showing evidence that conflicts with mainstream science - but you haven't produced any evidence of this supposed research.

      Any scientist who could overturn 200 years of scientific knowledge would be chomping at the bit to get their research published. It would be a career maker not a career breaker. Nobel prize material.

      It's all bluff, bluster and conspiracy theorising on your part.

    12. "For instance, in twenty years traveling in Indonesia, I have never yet met one citizen who states they are atheist or agnostic, and I suspect very few exist."

      Sigh. In a religious country, openly declaring yourself not to be religious makes you stand out in social society, and in a bad way, because the system has preferential treatment of religious people.

      In science, being the same as all others is a bad thing, because it does *not* make you stand out, and science rewards those that stand out.

    13. I went to Crown Casino once to check it out. I did not meet one loser. They must have been all winners. Otherwise why stay there betting money on games of chance only to lose? Bert

    14. Hi Marco,
      You perhaps partially miss my point. It was not about standing out and the benefits or penalties of doing so. And it was not about science or religion, as others have suggested.

      It was simply that you can see a certain view, or statement of view, predominate without the need for a conspiracy of any sort, vast or otherwise.

    15. @marke

      The very existence of Tol, Singer, Lindzen, Curry, Lomborg, Salby, Soon and the like proves that your argument is false. These people contribute to the ~3%. And a very vocal 3% they are, who have never been subjected to anything stronger than ridicule.

      Marke. You have no evidence of social pressure distorting the consensus: you only have the gut feeling that it might be there because it provides a comfort to your denial of the ~97%. That's pretty pathetic isn't it?

    16. Marke,

      I do understand what you meant, and the example you provide is really poor. There is rather strong societal pressure when it comes to religion to conform. There is a rather strong social pressure within the academic community to be 'different'. In the world of science prevailing ideas almost invariably have strong evidence, simply because lack of evidence will make it easy to stand out by coming with such evidence. There are cases when a field moves on, and peripheral fields are a bit slow to pick up on the new insights. But that is about it.

      Note that I am in particularly talking about the physical sciences.

    17. marke - You're missing something very very important. If you want to make a name in science, disagree with the consensus and (very important!) be demonstrably correct. There are hordes of grad students who would climb over each other to present paradigm changing evidence of a new viewpoint - if it actually existed.

      Trying to get academics to all march in step against the evidence would be like herding cats. In short, not bloody likely.

      What you're claiming in essence is that there are significant numbers of scientists studying climate who are either lying (presenting papers contrary to the evidence) or stupid (cannot properly interpret the evidence). And that claim is simply nonsense.

    18. Marke is concerned that there are people out there who might have some valuable nugget that refutes the notion of human-caused climate change, but that The Machine is preventing them from publishing.


      Anyone who really wants to put a revolutionary piece of work out there only has to deposit their paper on ArXiv or a similar repository. As long as the work is on-topic it will not be wantonly deleted, and some of the most ground-breaking stuff never even sees the inside of a peer-reviewed journal - Perelman's Poincaré conjecture paper is a conspicuous example. It's so simple.

      That nothing of any credibility has ever apparated in this fashion is telling...

    19. The process is simple, that is - not Perelman's Poincaré conjecture paper...

    20. Marke:

      "And it was not about science or religion....It was simply that you can see a certain view, or statement of view, predominate without the need for a conspiracy of any sort, vast or otherwise."

      And yet because you deliberately chose to use religion as your example and claim that applies to scientific consensus, then you are equating religious faith with scientific method. Only you are not honest enough to admit it. Handy tip for the future: don't deny what is there in plain text for everyone to read.

    21. Maybe I'm missing Marke's point. Muslim apostates sometimes receive death threats so they choose to remain silent.

      "A majority considers apostasy in Islam to be some form of religious crime, although some reject the use of the death penalty"

      So therefore climate scientists go with the consensus because they want to receive death threats and are jealous of those who do:

      Well, I'm still baffled as to what marke's point is then.

    22. I hate to belabour a point, but some seem to miss the most simple:
      Millicent March 28, 2015 at 1:47 AM says: " deliberately chose to use religion as your example and claim that applies to scientific consensus, then you are equating religious faith with scientific method...."

      No, it was an example of 'no conspiracy needed for a majority viewpoint'.
      Here is one example that may be preferable to you:

      The cause of gastric ulcers in humans: (discovered to primarily be of bacterial causation by Marshall and Warren in 1981)

      Prior to, and for quite some time after the initial publication of this work, the majority of researchers in the field, and probably almost all practicing medicos, considered the cause to be non infectious, and advocated the primary treatment should be the use of antacids, and relieving of stress.

      It seems unlikely that these doctors and researchers conspired in any way to reach and maintain the earlier conclusion.

      My point remains: A conspiracy is not required for a certain majority viewpoint to be held.

      (Millicent, please note: I am not attacking doctors here. ;-) )

    23. I'd correct that bit about ulcers to read:

      Most GPs and other doctors attributed ulcers to stress, as they do with many (most) conditions for which the cause is unknown.

      I doubt that too many researchers were satisfied with the ubiquitous "stress" explanation. Anyone doing research on the subject pre H. pylori (few were AFAIK) would have thought it could be caused by any one of a number of factors (it still can be) that had yet to be determined - but am willing to be corrected.

    24. Fair enough Sou.

      The 'bacterial cause' theory had certainly come up several times over the previous century, but the 'antacid' treatment approach became more firmly entrenched as a the large pharma companies, and the endoscopy equipment suppliers provided most of the research funding and so most of the published research over the few decades prior to and after the 1981 publication.

      But, the particular case is not the point.

      The point is, if there are people out there who believe in some strange conspiracy theory relating to climate science, I am certainly not one of them.


    25. SouMarch 27, 2015 at 5:50 PM
      .... You've implied ... that some scientists are too scared to speak of their research showing evidence that conflicts with mainstream science ... Any scientist who could overturn 200 years of scientific knowledge would be chomping at the bit to get their research published. It would be a career maker not a career breaker. Nobel prize material.

      KRMarch 28, 2015 at 1:16 AM
      ..... If you want to make a name in science, disagree with the consensus and (very important!) be demonstrably correct. There are hordes of grad students who would climb over each other to present paradigm changing evidence of a new viewpoint - if it actually existed. .............. What you're claiming .... is that there are significant numbers of scientists studying climate who are either lying (presenting papers contrary to the evidence) or stupid (cannot properly interpret the evidence).

      John Russell (@JohnRussell40)March 27, 2015 at 8:39 PM
      The very existence of Tol, Singer, Lindzen, Curry, Lomborg, Salby, Soon and the like proves that your argument is false. These people contribute to the ~3%. .... you have no evidence of social pressure distorting the consensus:

      PGMarch 27, 2015 at 8:19 PM
      Actually you could do worse than emulating Pielke Jr. who has given up the loud, confident and wrong game if favour of his career in Boulder.

      Sou, KR,
      Climate science is not that sort of business. The climate is an incredibly complex thing and we should not expect one single discovery to suddenly pop up and explain all the perturbations of the climate and the weather.
      It may perhaps already be explained: CO2 levels may well be 'that one major thing', but some (few? 3%?) still think that conclusion, and its implied consequences, and the level of those consequences, are all well worth discussing. Whether they think they have the 'absolute solution to all things' or simply want to discuss uncertainties in paleoclimate reconstructions, model forecasts, net TOA radiation fluxes, sea level measures, temperature measures, the discussion is not well received.

      KR, John Russel, PG,
      How does the existence of a (much maligned) vocal 3% show that everyone is clearly and openly expressing their viewpoints?

      Surely PG shows (the retreat of Pielke Jnr from the climate discussion) a prime example of how any dissenting, correcting or querying debate on this topic is received.

    26. ..."much maligned" with good cause...

      As Richard Tol himself points out, it's important that one does not omit data that materially changes the import of a statement.

      On the matter of Marshall and Warren, an example to which I've referred multiple times in the context of testing hypothesis with counter hypotheses, as I've previously noted and Sou indicates above the stress theory of ulcers was accepted for many reasons: it appeared as a cofactor in many cases, its treatment directly or indirectly often did amelioriate the effect of Helicobacter, and frankly there wasn't a serious effort to look for alternative explanations until Marshall knocked through the boundaries with his spectacular demonstration.

      The human cause of global warming is a very different case to that of ulcers. The science has been meticulously tested and retested again and again by thousands of scientists for many decades, and all pretenders to usurping the consensus understanding have fallen at the first hurdle. Not only do contrarians fail to find an alternative mechanism, they have no explanation for how the rest of the edifice of physics fails when its applied to non-climate matters, as fail it must if their premises are to hold up in their denial of global warming.

      It's apples and coconuts.

    27. Worth adding that the <3% all have different "theories", all of which have been debunked. If you look at the different papers by these individuals, they are variously "it's the sun", "CO2 is plant food", "it's cosmic rays", "it's Jupiter" etc.

      It's not as if there is some new notion out there that people are slow to accept. It's a grab bag of "anything but CO2". That's all.

      As Bernard explains, the difference between the state of research into ulcers and the state of research into climate is apples and coconuts.

      The cutting edge of climate science remains open - not the basics. For example, the micro-physics of clouds - which is fascinating stuff. The cryosphere - what will happen to the ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica as global warming kicks in. There is a lot of ground-breaking research going on, and some notions being contested (eg the recent work on some of the Himalayan glaciers - which may not be growing after all).

      Roger Pielke Jr might have decided that discretion is the better part of valour, given he has been less than open on occasion. Eg his fiasco on Nate Silver's 538. And this:

      Don't be surprised if he resurfaces, though. But his work hasn't really been outside the mainstream. It's his reporting of it that has sometimes been questioned.

    28. This comment has been removed by the author.

    29. "Surely PG shows (the retreat of Pielke Jnr from the climate discussion) a prime example of how any dissenting, correcting or querying debate on this topic is received."

      Not quite, Marke. I know of climate scientists who gladly keep out of the public debate because they know they will be attacked even more than they already are. The attacks on Phil Jones, for example, are amazing, considering that you will be hard pressed to find *any* statement from him in the media, especially before climategate. And yet he already was a target before this happened.

      We also all know the one scientist who had to sit through a whole congressional hearing about two of his papers.

      Let us also not forget that Pielke Jr received more and more pushbacks because of the way he was behaving. For example, I remember him not apologizing when he was thrown off an Editorial Board for not doing what he had promised to do when he accepted to become a member of that Editorial Board, and had suggested they threw him off because of a critical blog post he wrote. Or his repeated misrepresentations of Stefan Rahmstorf's responses to Pielke Jr's claims.

      In most other scientific fields people like Pielke Jr would have been largely ignored and not get any flak. It just isn't worth the effort in those other fields. Climate science (and some other fields, e.g. HIV/AIDS) are different, because the dissenters are darlings of a significant group of people in power.

    30. Just a comment on Bernard J.March 30, 2015 at 4:15 PM

      The human cause of global warming is a very different case to that of ulcers.

      The science has been meticulously tested and retested again and again by thousands of scientists for many decades, and all pretenders to usurping the consensus understanding have fallen at the first hurdle.

      I agree with your first point, but I am not sure it points me to the same conclusion.

      Gastric ulcers and the evidence associated with their causes are relatively simple science. Yet a couple of associated and correlated factors (and a rather entrenched and profiting practice/industry) were enough to confuse the issue for decades.

      I'd have thought climate may be the far more complicated issue in regard to monitoring, measuring and interactions between myriad factors, but we are now absolutely sure we have it (well, the role of CO2) fully understood?

    31. marke, you are still comparing Bernard's apples and coconuts. You are talking about one bacteria in one spot and the research of two scientists.

      You couldn't even use that as a comparison with soil microbes, let alone with the entire earth system. Maybe you could compare it with a plant pathogen on a single plant species - or variety.

      The role of CO2 as a greenhouse gas is well understood. The complexity of the impact of having a warmer world - well there's a lot still to be learnt there. How long will it take for the ice sheets to collapse? What will be the impact of losing or gaining massive bodies of water in different parts (earth tremors and such); how will storms and cyclones behave in the future (more, more intense? fewer but more intense?)

      This is one reason there are thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of people involved in one aspect or another in researching the earth systems - researchers, tech officers etc.

      If the role of CO2 was found wrong, then some of those people would have noticed by now.

    32. Marke.

      1) The polar C=O bonds of CO2 have been well demonstrated to absorb and reradiate infrared radiation. This is the basis of thermal imaging technology as well has the fundamental phenomenon responsible for the greenhouse effect. The polarity of and the radiative properties associated with these carbon-oxygen bonds has been studied to death and there's never been any indication that there's another explanation for what is occurring.

      This is one phenomenon that needs to be accounted for when contradicting human-caused climate change.

      2) Humans are burning fossil carbon that was sequestered over hundreds of millions of years, and as a result they are increasing the atmospheric concentration of CO2. The increase in CO2 is demonstrated many times by isotopic sigature analysis, and by a stoichiometric relationship with the amount of burned carbon and a knowledge of the contemporary sequstration rates by natural sinks. It's also corroborated by the stoichiometric decrease in oxygen in the atmosphere.

      CO2 increase is another phenomenon that must be considered when challenging the scientific consensus. People who dispute that the increase of CO2 (and indeed other, artifical 'greenhouse' gases) have not been able to defensibly explain how this apparent non-increase occurs, nor have they been able to account for the evidence that it does occur.

      3) The effect of CO2 on the planet has been demonstrated and repeated tested by considering the paleoevidence. Oh, many people try to point at squirrels and claim that CO2 follows warming or that it doesn't have the warming effect that is indicated by the evidence, but again they have failed to produce anything defensible.

      Overall, the amount of work that looks at the 'greenhouse' effect is staggering, and it has been conducted by many, many independent groups and using many, many techniques independent of each other and that are considering different aspects of radiative physics. In all of this, the professional work consistently reinforces the consensus on the nature of this radiative physics, and nothing that claims to indicate the contrary has withstood any cursory scrutiny. There are the occasional quacks and very occasionally they even managed to get through the quality assurance of peer review and to be published, but nothing that claims to refute the paradigm has been able to be successfully defended.

      Had this amount of work been applied to the issue of gastric ulcers Helicobacter would probably have been implicated 50 years earlier than it otherwise was, and at the same time we'd probably have in use now antibiotics and gene therapies that are stil decades away.

      If your argument is about sensitivity then there is certainly a lot of discussion about the range that encompases the actual value, based in part on the fact that different interests define it in different ways, but even a range of 2-4.5 C is no cause for claiming that the understanding of the effect of warming is in any way significantly misplaced. All it means if it is lower rather than higher is that the time to serious damage to the planet is delayed by decades and to perhaps a century or two at the most (tinfoil hat) extreme, but unfortunately the most parsimonious understanding of the most defensible work on climate sensitivity to CO2 is that the ECS is in the vicinity of 3 C. Those arguing for an ECS of less than 2 C or even less than 1.5 C are shown to have problematic issues with their determinations, and pointing to this as a get-out-of-jail card for the "consensus is wrong" cannard is much more a case of wishful thinking than one of scientific conservatism and rationality.

      But there's one way to unravel my statements, and Sou's above - what your best evidence that the consensus is wrong? What is your best single paper that undermines the understanding of the whole discipline of climate science? We can start from there and see where it leads us...

    33. I think we are in complete agreement.

      As an example of 'no conspiracy needed', it is quite apt.

      As an example of 'matching levels of science', very different.

      One is a simple, single dimensional issue which nonetheless took years to be fully accepted.

      The other is a multifaceted, highly interactive, chaotic system where there is apparently a majority consensus that it is reasonably well understood.

    34. hmm.. I would have thought the following is equally appropriate:

      One is a simple, single dimensional issue that was virtually unstudied but was discovered by an insightful individual tour de force and was accepted rather quickly (once proper trials for the association of H pylorii with peptic ulcer disease were completed by early 1990's there was widespread acceptance)

      The other is a simple single dimensional issue (the origin of easily measurable and persistent accumulation of heat in the climate system over many decades) studied as a major research imperative by 1000's of scientists that is effectively uniformly accepted by scientists due to a robust evidence base.

    35. " perhaps most are simply repeating the 'current state of play', and not necessarily indicating their own opinion or view."

      And perhaps the moon is made of green cheese. Do you have any evidence?

      Also, perhaps you and all other science rejectionists are deeply intellectually dishonest people. For that that we *do* have plenty of evidence.

      "I'd have thought climate may be the far more complicated issue in regard to monitoring, measuring and interactions between myriad factors, but we are now absolutely sure we have it (well, the role of CO2) fully understood?"

      Who's "we"? *You* should go learn some climate science.

  9. Sou gave a perfectly understandable explanation for scientists skipping first principles in abstracts. If they weren't indicating their own opinion or view I can assure you they would not be publishing a paper. Repeating research without adding value is called plagiarism.

  10. I've just read all the comments from the fake sceptics at WUWT.

    They are almost all about how "flawed" is Cook13 yet not a one says in what way or how - because they can't. It isn't.

    I didn't see a single comment about why it's wrong or anything about any evidence. Deniers are immune to evidence. They are allergic to research, as evidenced by their opposition to doing any similar study themselves.

    The disinformers know that if they themselves tried to find any papers that disputed the cause of global warming, they'd not find any credible papers.

    Most of the people who read Anthony's blog are conspiracy theorists and ignorant illiterati. Some, like Richard Tol and Jo Nova (and Anthony himself) are semi-professional disinfomers who deliberately lead on the dumb dismissives.

    Richard Tol even mentioned the Recursive Fury paper, which was pulled because of complaints from deniers despite getting approval from reviewers and the journals own ethics committee. Pulled by the same publishers who refused to retract an AIDS denial paper.

    Says more about the publisher than Recursive Fury. Kind of appropriate given the level of conspiracy theorising that goes on at WUWT.

  11. Sou:
    The sentence reads "[a]ttempts to replicate the SAMPLE failed".

    Web of Science is a proper database, and you can replicate an historical query. If you run the query that Cook says he did, at the time that he says he did it, you get a different sample. If you apply the corrections that he says he did, you still get a different sample.

    The number of papers omitted is sufficiently high to reduce the consensus (as defined by Cook) to a minority.

    1. "The number of papers omitted is sufficiently high to reduce the consensus (as defined by Cook) to a minority."

      Oh, really? So what proportion of papers did you get from your sample that disputed the human cause of global warming, Richard? Show evidence that it was greater than 50% as you're alleging.

      Your comment shows you to be even dumber than I originally thought. (And what I originally thought was by no means flattering.)

    2. Captain FlashheartMarch 27, 2015 at 6:51 PM

      Maybe it was a gremlin or two, Richard. You know anything about that?

    3. "Show evidence that it was greater than 50% as you're alleging."

      I think Tol's claim is even much more desperate than that. I think what he is saying is that the number of papers omitted, if all were anti-AGW, the number is sufficiently high to reduce the consensus to a minority.

      Reminds me of the imaginary papers that don't exist meme ...

    4. Sou, really.

      Repeating their query, I found 13,458 papers. Repeating their historical query, I found 13,431 papers.

      Cook's data have 12,876 papers. Cook's paper mentions 12,465 papers, of which 11,944 were used.

      That is, up to 11% of Cook's observations are unaccounted for.

    5. And from that you somehow reduce the consensus to a minority.?

    6. PG
      There are some 1500 missing abstracts. This is a large number relative to
      Cat 1: 64
      Cat 2: 922
      Cat 5: 54
      Cat 6: 15
      Cat 7: 9

      It is middling number relative to
      Cat 3: 2910

      It is a small number relative to
      Cat 4: 7970

      Now I don't know what those 1500 papers said. I just know they're missing.

    7. I don't know about the difference in search results because I don't have access to the Web of Science. Maybe your institution subscribes to different journals to U Qld so you get a different result.

      Thing is, you claimed that "The number of papers omitted is sufficiently high to reduce the consensus (as defined by Cook) to a minority."

      You've provided nothing to support your claim. It's clearly nonsense. Not even the star conspiracy nutter at WUWT would make a dumb claim like that.

      Whether it's your slightly larger sample size or the one that was returned when the Cook team ran the query, I strongly doubt you'd get a different result.

      You got so much wrong in your quest to "prove" that while Cook13 got the result you previously agreed with (but are now claiming something quite different) that it's hard to keep up.

      It was odd when you harassed John Cook while he was traveling, trying to insist he do your bidding and answer your endless dumb questions when and where you wanted.

      Personally, I thought the funniest was your claim that the researchers got tired. (Maybe you were over-tired when you ran your search query.)

      Not to mention your fixation on "time stamps" that don't exist - and wouldn't tell you anything even if they did.

      Then there was your magical maths (error) that produced an extra 300 papers our of thin air. Have you managed to find them yet? C'mon - give us the list :D

    8. Sou: Time stamps were collected and stored.

    9. Richard, your "time stamps" were date stamps. There were no hour and minute "stamps" collected.

      If you have evidence to the contrary then show the time stamps you are referring to. You can't, which is why you haven't.

      Besides all that, the researchers would have downloaded the abstracts in batches, so even were they collected (they weren't) it would tell you nothing at all.

      My thinking is that the reason you are obsessing about everything except the actual results is because you know darn well that any and every other similar exercise done by anyone has come up with similar results.

      If you'd spent even a quarter of the time you've spent harassing the researchers and posting your nonsense on denier blogs - on doing a similar exercise yourself, you'd have done yourself a favour. Of course you'd get the same result as Cook13, which wouldn't please your benefactors - the GWPF.

      You're obviously angling for some lark as a disinformation purveyor. You're not very good at it. The best you can do is rouse up the idiots at WUWT.

      I'd suggest you quit while you're ahead - but it's way too late for that. I'd say you've fallen so far behind that you're reputation is unsalvageable in respectable circles. You'll have to try to win over the disinformer/denier crowd and pretend that you don't accept the human cause of global warming. Try emulating Judith Curry rather than Lubos Motl next time or you'll not be accepted by anyone (though you probably don't really care at this stage, going by your behaviour).

    10. Sou
      Au contraire: Any guideline on survey research tells you that time stamps are necessary to identify which answers are serious and which less so. The state of the art is to record key strokes.

      You are right that the recovered data are date stamps rather than time stamps. Sorry for being inaccurate.

      The date stamps reveal all sorts of things, including why Cook first did not want outsiders to look at them and later denied their existence.

    11. Actually you could do worse than emulating Pielke Jr. who has given up the
      loud, confident and wrong game if favour of his career in Boulder.

    12. So you have no evidence, Richard, as is obvious.

      You've raised another big silly mistake in your obsessive campaign. This was not a survey in the sense of a market survey. It was more like a literature search. (I doubt you know any more about market research than you do about scientific research, in any case.)

      Remember when you claimed the researchers got tired and quoted market research studies, even though Cook13 was in no way comparable to market research? The closest analogy with "interviewees" getting tired is the abstracts, and the abstracts wouldn't have got tired. Your quoted studies indicated that, contrary to your claims, interviewers became more proficient over time, not less. It's the interviewers who would be the right comparison to the Cook13 researchers if you were to try to make a comparison - and I'd think they would have got more proficient over time, not less.

      And you are doing a good imitation of Duane Gish, here, Richard:

      You've ignored my querying your "claim" that more than 50% of science papers on the subject dispute global warming. At least have the grace to admit it was nonsense.

      You've also skipped over the likelihood that your search of the Web of Science was different because you queried a slightly different set of journals - based on the subs of U Sussex rather than the subs of U Qld.

      Makes me wonder if you ever, in all the years you've been defaming the Cook13 team with your wild and stupid allegations - did you ever bother to look at the abstracts themselves? Did you ever bother to do your own categorisation of published papers?

      No - too much like real science, isn't it. Disinformers don't do science - their trade is denial.

    13. Sou
      The contents of the Web of Science is independent of the subscription.

      A survey task is a survey task. If you don't believe me about rater fatigue, read Cook's words about the same subject.

      I did not say that the 1500 missing papers would swing the result, I said they could.

      And yes, I have rated many of the abstracts. I am looking forward to Cook releasing the results of the online ratings.

    14. BTW - You're making up stuff again, Richard. John Cook doesn't deny the existence of date stamps. He's always insisted you got it wrong about your interpretation of "time stamps" - his data base only collected the date people uploaded their categorisations, not the hour and second. And once again, it wasn't a market research study. Richard, you obviously know even less about market research than you do about the categorisation of scientific papers, since you can't tell the difference.

      For the lurker - if the above article and Richard's comments here aren't enough to persuade you, here is further evidence of Richard Tol's utter nuttery:

      Richard Tol accidentally confirms the 97% global warming consensus

      pdf file cataloguing some of Richard Tol's worst errors


      BUSTED: How Ridiculous Richard Tol makes myriad bloopers and a big fool of himself and proves the 97% consensus

      Ridiculous Richard Tol sez 12,000 is a strange number...

      Denier Weirdness: Don't count climate science papers to "prove" there's no consensus!

      How an economist seeks fame and riches...

    15. Richard, sure the WoS database is independent. However on the search page it states:

      *The All Database Search search box above performs an all database search against the Web of Science for products to which you are entitled.

      Like I say, I don't have a subs so I cannot check, I can only surmise based on WoS itself.

    16. Richard sez about the "extra" abstracts he reckons his own search turned up: "Now I don't know what those 1500 papers said. I just know they're missing."

      Why he would assume they would fall any differently to the 12,000 or so papers returned in the UQ search is anyone's guess. Maybe his stats skills are a tad awry as well as his inability to check them out.

      Or his laziness in not finding out. At one a minute he could have checked them in four eight hour days and have time for three lunch breaks and a few coffee breaks. Much less time than he's spent on trying (and failing) to find something wrong with the study.

      All of which shows how silly he is being over this - still. Two years later. If Richard really thought the study gave the wrong results, including the authors own assessment of their own work mind you, then he could have done something similar ten times over and proved them wrong. He knows he can't so he doesn't.

      Typical of science deniers and disinformers.

    17. Web of Science subscriptions are not uniform and are often limited by dates and/or coverage, moreover, WoS is not a static database.

    18. Thanks for the confirmation, Eli. I expect any researcher worth their salt would know that :)

    19. Web of Science is a dynamic database, with papers being updated on an ongoing basis. This is yet another Richard Tol red herring.

      Tol tweeted his opinion rejecting the Cook et al paper as soon as it was published, even before the supplementary data was online. He's now spent the past two years searching to and fro for something, anything, that would dismiss it. Note, however, that Tol's conclusion preceded any supporting evidence.

      In the process he's cycled through multiple nonsense arguments (patterns in ratings sorted alphabetically and by date, when the ratings were done in utterly uncorrelated random order), claims that the changes over time were due to composition (there are composition changes at roughly 50% of the examined time period, but the major shift of increased consensus occurs around 25% - uncorrelated), kappa (abstracts and full papers are related but different data sets), and more ad hominem conspiracy theorizing about motives and nefarious purpose than I care to think about. And when the fact that these reasons are nonsense has finally been drubbed into his head, he's gone in search of yet another.

      Oddly, despite something like 7 drafts of his reply (roundly criticized and rejected by multiple editors as polemic nonsense), he somehow hasn't had the time to actually rate some abstracts. Amazing. You might think he fears the results of actually looking at the consensus data.

      The proper term for this, for coming to a conclusion and then searching in vain for reasons to support that conclusion, is a bad case of confirmation bias.

    20. Ah, Eli just beat me to the punch.

      WoS/WoK and Scopus are both dynamic bibliographic databases, frantically working to gain/maintain dominance by filling in their collections of papers. It's a serious business and TR and Elsevier both spend lots of money sending reps around various institutions spruiking their ever-growing resources and capacities.

      I think that Tol is engaging in - heaven forfend! - straw man construction.

      Why, oh why, is it that the whole denialist/contrarian premise is built on logical fallacy, misdirection, untruth, ignorance and/or sundry other abjectly inappropriate modes of argument? Where's the actual hard, defensible kernel of fact or evidence?

      Just one killer fact - a fact, a fact, my kingdom for a fact...

    21. Heh, even KR beat me! I was even going to say "red herring" but change it to "straw man" at the last minute...


    22. Eli:
      WoS subscriptions are modular, but the modules are not fine-grained. You can leave our MedLine or ZooRec, but that's about it. Anyway, this cannot explain the difference between my query and Cook's, both of which were on the core collection.

      WoS records when entries were added, and you can exclude later additions from a query. That explains 27 of the 1500 missing papers.

      And none of this explains the discrepancy (400+ papers) between Cook's data and Cook's paper.

    23. Bernard J. - :)

      Richard Tol - I'm not going claim knowledge of your motivations. But the pattern you've exhibited (coming to a conclusion, and only _then_ running around trying on a series of [faulty] arguments to support said conclusion) suggests to me that your initial rejection of Cook et al 2013 was due more to ideology than to any evidence.

    24. Richard Tol, I presume that you have replicated your search protocol over time and space to show that your use of WoS is consistent in its return of results, and conversely that it is consistently different to Cook's et al - and that the two protocols are indeed identical in their stated parameters?

      A link would be appreciated.

      (The sentience of reCaptcha says "evels"...)

    25. Bernard I don't think Richard went as far as comparing lists - at least he hasn't provided any evidence of that. He hasn't as far as I'm aware even made his list available. He can't even keep his numbers straight. One minute he's talking about 1500 papers, next he's talking about 26, then 400. In between repeating his nonsense about researchers getting tired. (AGW is a hoax because climate scientists work too hard and get tired.)

      I doubt he'd go so far as to compare the list of journals in his search with those in Cook13. Too sciency, and too much like work.

      And he certainly has no intention of categorising scientific papers himself. He'd have to admit that the 97% is spot on. Anyway, as any climate disinformer knows all you have to do to grab a headline is snipe from the sidelines, demonise individuals, and make up stuff about them and their work - and the bonus is he gets an appearance on the "world's most read anti-science blog".

    26. Sou
      27 is the difference between the simple query and the query-with--addition-controls

      400 is the difference between Cook's database and Cook's paper

      1500 is the difference between my query and Cook's query

    27. Captain FlashheartMarch 28, 2015 at 11:15 AM

      Richard can you share the code of your search query?

    28. It looks like Richard's silly gish gallop list of protests has been whittled down to only one of his dumb claims now.

      Richard, supply the search parameters you used and supply the list of papers that you claim to have returned that didn't come up in the Cook13 search; and do same for your claimed 400 papers - supply the list of 400 papers.

      Plus supply the numbers from those two lists that dispute global warming (and are published in peer reviewed journals and fit the criteria used by Cook13).

      And then supply the list of papers, and percentage (of your list or Cook13's list) that dispute the fact that humans cause global warming.

      You did all that, right? Before you started down this path? You did check that it wasn't you who made a mistake. Right?

      If you can't put up, then stop using my blog to make your baseless allegations - as PG said, you're supposed to be an academic, not a dbstealey-style denier flinging wild and unsubstantiated and pointless accusations.

    29. Captain FlashheartMarch 28, 2015 at 2:22 PM

      It's worth noting that in his paper Tole explicitly claims that he couldn't reproduce the Cook search results, but he doesn't give his search string and in fact is kind of vague about exactly what search he did. In that paper he also complains that not revealing your data and code is unscientific.

      Web of Science searches are based on field tags, but I don't see evidence that field tags extend to capturing stored search dates. There is also nothing I could find easily in the WoS help about how to do this. So I'm interested to see a) the search string and b) evidence that, if search dates can be replicated, the results are always consistent when applied from different institutions. Without that evidence, Tol's claim cannot be substantiated.

    30. @CFH
      You're welcome to disregard my search.

      That still leaves the 12,876 papers in Cook's data versus the 12,465 papers in Cook's paper versus the 11,944 papers that were used in Cook's analysis.

      Of the 1500 missing papers, 900 (60%) are missing in Cook's account.

    31. Richard, are you telling us you do not understand the difference between the 12,465 and 11,944?


      Are you that much of an incompetent scientist?

      If so, a small hint:
      "The ISI search generated 12 465 papers. Eliminating papers that were not peer-reviewed (186), not climate-related (288) or without an abstract (47) reduced the analysis to 11 944 papers"

      It is in the FRIKKING PAPER!

    32. Still narrowing the field of the Gish Gallop. Now Richard seems to be admitting that his search may not have been a replica of the Cook13 search after all. Or that he's too lazy to do a comparison and unwilling to share his "data and code" :(

      Now that wasn't too hard, was it Richard.

      Now all he has left is his 12,876 number. That probably came from a text file on the SkS page. The downloadable file described as: All the articles listed by Id number (Article Id #, Year of Publication and Paper Title), has some sort of article ID. It doesn't seem to mean anything. The difference could be journals removed from the search as being irrelevant (eg social science journals). There are only the 11,944 unique abstracts listed in the file.

      As indicated in the Cook13 paper:

      The ISI search generated 12 465 papers. Eliminating papers that were not peer-reviewed (186), not climate-related (288) or without an abstract (47) reduced the analysis to 11 944 papers written by 29 083 authors and published in 1980 journals.

    33. Marco, Sou
      Again, there are 12,876 paper in Cook's data.

      There are 12,465 papers in Cook's paper.

      The 288 papers, unrelated to climate, are weird too: In the remaining 11,944 papers, a good few are unrelated to climate too.

    34. Is a good few more or less than a bad few? I ask because my fingers and toes don't appear to include either quantity, so I'm at a total loss.

    35. Richard, I know you've run out of talking points, looking foolish on every one. You can't let go though, can you.

      How do you know there were 12,876 papers? You haven't said. Where is this list? Where is the list of papers that were excluded - the 900 or so that were rejected for one reason or another? Cook13 has indicated what wasn't included. You've not provided any evidence whatsoever that there were any other articles rejected from the Cook13 list of papers.

      Your own "protests" have been roundly blasted to smitereens as being stupid in the extreme or outright wrong.

      All you have left is idiotic talking points that you've picked up from script-kiddies and loony libertarians with an axe to grind.

      You refuse to provide any evidence. Unlike SkS, you withhold your own "data and code". Your claims are your version of squirrels.

      The real question is, instead of harassing and mouthing off, why didn't you spend the time doing your own research? You could do the same research ten times over for the amount of time and effort you've put in on this particular study.

      What evidence can you produce that there are any more than 2% or so of published science on the subject, that disputes human caused global warming?

      This isn't the only published work to come up with similar findings. Are you afraid that you aren't up to the job? Are you scared people will expect you to show your workings?

      You can't be afraid any more that you'll be seen as a laughing stock if you do the exercise yourself - that boat has long sailed. So it can only be because you prefer to snipe from the sidelines. As KR pointed out - you slammed this study before the ink was dried. Before the supplementary material was released. You've had it in for John Cook and his colleagues at a personal level for some time, goodness knows why. But you take every opportunity you can - and are quite reckless about losing any shreds of reputation you yourself might once have commanded. It's called obsession and it's destructive. Not to John Cook and co - their reputation won't suffer. It's yours that's gone down the gurgler.

      And for what? To retain a spot on the GWPF board? To get an invitation to the Strangers' Lounge?

      Not that I care. People are funny creatures - some funnier than others.

    36. Richard, you are now starting to change your story. Initially you made the claim the reduction from 12,465 to 11,944 was not explained. I then show you it was indicated in the paper itself(!), and here you are, making a new claim.

      I know you cannot admit any mistakes, as you have openly claimed that your reputation would be in tatters if you are wrong. You have put yourself in a position where you can never ever acknowledge any errors. That is a really bad position to take as a scientist.

    37. Sou:
      The 12,876 is from Cook's data. You can get the file here:

    38. Captain FlashheartMarch 28, 2015 at 11:48 PM

      I'm not "disregarding" your search Richard. I'm asking you to prove that you did it. Show us the search string, prove that it is the same string that was used by Cook et al, and give us evidence that WoS searches don't differ between accounts and institutions.

      If you can't do this, you can't defend a statement in your paper. Which is hardly the first time for you, now is it?

    39. Hello Richard Tol

      So, I downloaded the data file from as you supplied.

      I removed the 19 description lines at the beginning.

      I counted the number of lines/papers and got 11944 papers.

      Can you please explain what I did wrong to not get your figure of 12876 papers?

    40. I just did the same, Jammy, and got the same result 11,944 papers. I also got the same when I downloaded the papers from the SkS website (link in my earlier comment, plus on the ERL webpage).

      If Richard has some sort of point to make he's not doing a decent job of it, is he.

      Reminds me of the extra 300 papers he conjured up out of thin air, when he made an arithmetical blunder.

      And his errors when he decided the researchers classified 6.7% of the papers wrongly (which is quite possible - there were an awful lot of papers), and then instead of apportioning them in the same manner as the bulk were apportioned - where only 0.7% of the 12,000 or so papers disputed global warming, he decided that more than half disputed global warming! On no evidence whatsoever. (He didn't look at the abstracts, it was totally an arithmetic blunder on his part.)

      I think Richard has trouble with numbers, which is an especially bad weakness for an economist :(


    41. Sou

      That may be an especially bad weakness for an economist but not for a disinformer playing to the denier audience. Just by engaging in this number farce he is spreading the idea there is a problem with the figures - and that is plenty for the incurious and gullible to be going on with. None of them will check any figures.

      What is the betting that sometime soon, somewhere in the denialosphere (WUWT?), will be some some comment that Tol owned HotWhopper and made us all look foolish with his mastery of statistics and analysis? It makes me embarrassed for the human race that people can be so easily fooled.

    42. We now have n=3 finding 11,944 (I found the same).

      I wonder whether Tol used a program that has a limited number of columns and moves text to a new line when it goes beyond this maximum number of columns.

    43. Jammy, Marco, Marco says there's a third:

      Yes, the number of lines is 11,944. Paper IDs run up to 12,876, however, rather than 12,465 as suggested by Cook.

      If the max ID would have been 12,576 the number in the paper may have been a typo, but 12,876 is unlikely.

    44. "The 12,876 is from Cook's data. You can get the file here:"

      So you did not get the 12876 figure from your reference?

      It looks like it did come from the text Sou suggested.

    45. So, rather than being unable to count, Richard is unable to refer us to the right datafile.

      Also note that Richard's question should have been "John, how did you assign Paper ID's?" Not the implicit (explicit?) accusation that Cook made papers disappear.

    46. Marco
      Simples: You download the .csv from WoS and assign number 1 to N.

      But why is N=12,876?

    47. Sou points out that the 'time stamps' were actually 'date stamps'

      Richard Tol replies:

      "You are right that the recovered data are date stamps rather than time stamps. Sorry for being inaccurate."

      In Tol's article in the Australian "Survey researchers routinely collect time stamps, and so did Cook".

      So, either Richard Tol only just discovered that they weren't time stamps but date stamps, thanks to Sou, and should issue a correction to his Australian article
      He has known for quite some time that they were date stamps in which case his Australian article is 'inaccurate'!

      Therefore either Richard Tol has been in error and at least part of his attack on Cook et al should be withdrawn and an apology issued, or Richard Tol has engaged in DELIBERATE MISREPRESENTATION in his attack on Cook et al.

      In fact the distinction between date stamps and time stamps has been pointed out to Richard Tol many times before so option one seems not to apply.

      Richard Tol has engaged in deliberate misrepresentation of Cook et al for some time. Rather than raising questions about the Cook paper Richard Tol might more profitably spend his time considering his own moral compass.

      Because to date his behaviour has been morally utterly contemptible.

      Whether for some sort of childish on-line attention seeking urge or for some other reason, Richard Tol has behaved in a manner that borders on Academic Misconduct.

      He should take a step back and VERY seriously consider his position!

      Glenn Tamblyn
      Skeptical Science.

    48. "But why is N=12,876?"

      Well, what might an obvious answer be...?

      Perhaps a trial download of some papers was made into the database to allow testing of the interface for performing the ratings. The database automatically assigns ID's. Then these were cleaned out and the full query run. And the database assigns new ID's with a gap in the series for the old deleted ones.

      That's a plausible explanation isn't it?

      Well obviously not for Tol. Not enough of a connotation of nefarious intent for that to be acceptable; he can't get the wow factor in 'certain circles' that he obviously craves.

      People who seek cheap notoriety through character assassination really are contemptible. The world really does have some sad people in it.

    49. Richard finally reveals that he:

      a) didn't know where his 12,876 came from and had to be told, and even then took no notice.

      b) doesn't know why abstracts might have an article id or how it was assigned, but assumes nefarious activity anyway. Or at least uses it as an excuse to imply nefarious activity - on no grounds at all.

      Richard, having given up on all his other protests, now only this one weak, pathetic card up his sleeve (or so he thinks),

      Richard, now that your list of umpteen wrong allegations has been whittled down to one, and you've been shown up for not knowing what you're talking about with that remaining one, will you apologise to John Cook and colleagues? Will you retract your multiple shameful attacks?

      Here are some plausible reasons for the additional Article IDs, assuming article IDs were assigned at the time of going into the database:

      -there was a test run with articles outside the sample time period (1991-2011)

      -there were articles mistakenly added from outside the sample time period

      -there were articles mistakenly added from outside the sample scope (eg social science journals)

      -there were duplicate papers returned (eg same paper in different journals, it has happened)

      -there was a duplicate update (eg adding to the database to get more papers from the time period, which were added by WoS after the initial download)

      -other - not nefarious

      Richard didn't even know where his 12,876 came from. He claimed it came from the paper. It didn't. Then he claimed it came from the ERL supplementary material. It didn't. He can't even work out how many extra article IDs there were (it was 411 - Richard claimed it was 1500, or 900, or something). Yet he is all too willing to imply nefarious intent before he even knows what the number is.

      Richard, your gish galloping protests been thoroughly discredited over and over again. Your behaviour in this matter over the past two years, since your initial contradictory tweets (here and here) has been utterly contemptible.

      Time to grovel an apology and retract. Go away and do some economics. Leave science, and science communication, to the experts.

    50. Richard Tol, can we cut to the chase and discuss the study that shows that the results of the Cook et al study are wrong, as is the understanding of a > ~97% consensus by those of us who work in climate science or in fields closely aligned with climate science?

      I'm assuming that as a good scientific methodologist you will have located and identified all the papers apparently omitted by Cook et al, and if not you, then someone else. So lets see the definitive study. Surely is exists.

      We're all very interested, because the experience of everyone I know in science is that the "consensus" really is 97% or greater. If it isn't there's a whole nest of doubters hiding somewhere and the world desperately needs to know about them, and why their take on the science is being suppressed...

    51. "...there were duplicate papers returned..."

      Duplicates are a very definite thing in both WoS and Scopus. Not just from papers published (both legitimately and illegitimately) more than once, but papers that are relisted in the print version after being assigned a separate record in their Online First format. And sometimes conference papers get two records as both 'conference papers' and 'articles'.

      I'll have records at work where such duplications have been identified in various searches - if I have time during one of my lunch breaks I'll see if I can locate the results and quantify the percentages for each of the two databases in the context of those searches.

    52. Being of a curious nature I did some more digging. In addition, I asked John Cook himself about the numbering. He let me know that I wasn't far off track.

      Turns out the IDs were assigned sequentially automatically, as expected. Some duplicates were accidentally added when John re-imported to his database from WoS, so he deleted them. This meant there were gaps in the article IDs.

      My own digging supports this. Richard could have done the same if he'd been interested in finding out, instead of just wanting to imply nefarious activity.

      I was able to account for all but two of the Abstract IDs in three lots of sequential IDs that have no abstracts attached. This indicates the removal of duplicates, inserted then removed in a batch. It's highly unlikely that there would have been this many sequential non-peer reviewed, for example, or anything else. So that leaves duplicate entries. Here are the numbers of sequential IDs:

      IDs 5 to 346 inclusive = 342

      IDs 1001 to 1004 inclusive = 4

      IDs 2066 to 2128 inclusive. = 63

      Total = 409 - the other two are probably isolated somewhere.

      Bang goes the last of Richard's gish gallop of protests.

      Will he retract and apologise? Will he ignore it? Will he repeat his defamatory accusations in the future now that he knows he was wrong? Is he as unethical as his behaviour to date indicates? Has he any sense of shame?

    53. When I encounter a point where my initial calculations disagree with a published work ("Hey, the back of my envelope indicates that gravity should repel, not attract!") my first reaction is to conclude that _I did something wrong_, or differently from those published. And, if possible, to ask the authors or someone else who is knowledgeable why my results differ.

      Tol, on the other hand, has spent roughly two years coming up with back of the envelope calculations that differ from the Cook et al methodology, calculations that are demonstrably wrong (#FreeTheTol300), and has taken every one of those miserable miscalculations and waved them about to malign the Cook et al authors.

      In the process Tol has shown no interest whatsoever in testing the validity of the Cook et al conclusions. Instead, he's (IMO) invested in an ongoing poisoning the well fallacy to dismiss the consensus on AGW.

      "Has he any sense of shame?" None that I've seen so far. Tol, for example, knew roughly a year ago that the Cook et al data retained date but not time stamps (hour/minute), yet has engaged in a rather libelous series of attacks falsely claiming that time stamps exist and are being withheld. That's a lie, and demonstrates no shame whatsoever.

    54. @Glenn
      That cannot be the explanation, as IDs run from 1 to 12,876.

      That may be the explanation. The paper indeed speaks of two data downloads. If you are correct, then Cook did not just remove duplicate abstracts. He removed duplicate abstracts that had already been rated -- thus denying himself another opportunity to test inter-rater reliability.

      Furthermore, if you are right, Cook replaced ratings from the earlier rating period with ratings from the later rating period. The two periods are markedly and significantly different.

    55. Ricrad Tol

      I assume that you have some experience with databases. If you are so confident about surveys etc you must use databases all the time.

      So here is a how auto-increment columns in databases work. Every time a new row is added to the table the auto-increment column for that row is assigned a new number 1 higher than the previous highest value.

      So for example if you add 100 rows to an empty table the last row will be numbered 100. If you then for example delete rows 21-70 your table will now only 50 rows numbered 1-20 and 71 -100.

      If you then add another 100 new rows the auto-increment column will number them 101 to 200. And the numbers will run from 1-20 and 71 to 200. 150 rows but 200 is the maximum number. All driven by an automatic process from the SQL database.

      "The paper indeed speaks of two data downloads. If you are correct, then Cook did not just remove duplicate abstracts. He removed duplicate abstracts that had already been rated"

      Richard, the logic of this statement is insane!

      Removing duplicated abstracts doesn't remove all copies of them. One remains.So even if there had been ratings done against that abstract they wouldn't be deleted.

      Ratings were only done against one entry per paper.

      Quite simply Richard you are accusing John Cook of fraud! Based simply on some auto-assigned ID numbers!

      Is that what you are saying?

    56. No, Glenn, that is what Sou is saying.

      Cook added abstracts later; see his paper and data.

      Later abstracts have higher IDs.

      Cook told Sou that there was overlap between the earlier and later set of abstracts.

      Sou finds that the abstract with lower IDs were removed from the data. Lowest IDs were removed disproportionally. The default data dump from WoS is latest first. Cook's second data dump focused on recent papers.

      The date stamps show that the second data dump was done after first and second ratings were completed for the first data dump.

    57. This comment has been removed by the author.

    58. Richard

      "The date stamps show that the second data dump was done after first and second ratings were completed for the first data dump."

      More abstracts with more up to date papers were added and then rated after the main ratings from the first dump had been done.

      So how does that translate in your mind into deletion then re-rating of abstracts from the first dump that have ALREADY been rated - the leap of logic here is mind-boggling.

    59. Glenn, it helps if you take the position "there must be something wrong" as Tol does. Remember that he has himself openly put his credibility as dependent on getting his criticism right, so anything that shows him wrong cannot exist in his mind.

    60. Glenn
      Here's the timeline:
      Download first batch of abstracts
      Rate abstracts from first batch
      Download second batch of abstracts
      Remove duplicates from FIRST batch
      Rate abstracts from second batch

    61. How do you know, Richard? How do you know that the first deletions weren't done before the ratings started?

      More importantly, what the heck difference could it possible make to the research findings? You are talking at most 3% of articles all up, of which the majority (66%) wouldn't have attributed a cause to global warming, assuming they were representative.

      You've amply demonstrated your lack of numeracy skills, Richard. But this latest Gish galloping venture takes the cake.

      See this also:
      The fall and fall of Gish galloping Richard Tol's smear campaign

      Finally, is this weird obsession you have an attempt to divert attention from errors in your own research. And why haven't you tried to do your own assessment if you think this research is flawed? Is it because you agree its findings are spot on?

    62. Sou:
      Recall that the date stamps were released.

    63. It is sufficient to just provoke a discussion about the figures. However ludicrous the discussion, all that will be noticed by the gullible is that there is a dispute.

    64. The date stamps were never released, Richard. Some data was stolen by a script kiddie as I recall. Whether that had any date information I do not know.

      What you probably mean is you were a willing receiver of stolen property.

    65. BTW - Notice that what Richard just did was more typical Gish Galloping behaviour.

      He refused to acknowledge that 3% of the sample would not be expected to make any difference to the final results. Instead he traipsed off on an irrelevant tangent (boasting how he filched irrelevant material from a stolen cache Evidence shows he made at least as many mistakes "interpreting" this as he did with everything else he touched.).

    66. Captain FlashheartMarch 29, 2015 at 7:56 PM

      I note that despite continued engagement in this thread, Richard has not released his search string or said anything more about his claim that he "could not replicate Cook's search results." This is a RESULT in his published paper. If this is not correct, he should contact the journal and have this fact removed, and notify the Australian that his work has been subject to corrections.

      Richard is very fond of the idea of releasing data and code. Given this, I think we can infer a failure to do so is a sign that he knows it is wrong.

    67. Richard

      Here's the timeline:
      Download first batch of abstracts
      Rate abstracts from first batch
      Download second batch of abstracts
      Remove duplicates from SECOND batch
      Rate REMAINING abstracts from second batch

      That would be the sensible thing to do surely?

      If you have any evidence to support your alternative claim PUT IT UP.
      Because you are engaging in slander and character assassination without a shred of evidence.

      So PUT UP or SHUT UP.

      And in case you were in any doubt, understand very, very clearly. You are the one on trial here.

      You are building quite a reputation for yourself Richard. A fairly tawdry reputation. One wonders what the Universities who employ you would make of one of their academics engaging in this sort of muck-raking without basis in facts.

      Is this part of your exit strategy from academia?

    68. Glenn:
      That would indeed be the sensible thing to do.

      But if that were what was done, then the skipped IDs would be high numbers, rather than low numbers.

    69. Richard, why do you assume that the duplicates were removed later? They could just as easily have been removed very early on. Maybe even before ratings had commenced. And who cares? Sheesh - you're only talking about 3% of the total abstracts.

      Not that it would make an iota of difference when they were categorised. The abstracts didn't change.

      Go back to grade school and think big picture. The only reliable way to see if this research is accurate is to replicate it. Oh, wait. That's already been done. Three times over at least. And very similar results each time.

    70. Captain FlashheartMarch 30, 2015 at 12:55 AM

      Richard, can you post your search string, and answers to other questions regarding your methods?

      Also, do you have evidence of ethical approval for the use of stolen data, and did you include that ethical approval in your publication submission? Please confirm.

    71. Richard Tol, I'm starting to wonder if you are the reincarnation of a pithed cane toad, with the physical trauma carried through from your previous life.

      I can see no more sensible reason for your behaviour with respect to Cook et al 2013. At least, no more sensible reason that does not simultaneously reflect poorly on your motivations...

      The upside is that you've given me the best chortles I've had this weekend. And the next time one of my politically incorrect colleagues asks me if I know any good economist jokes I won't have to pause and ponder as I usually do - I'll just have to say "Richard Tol". The whole lunch room will fall about in gales of laughter.

    72. Sou
      The date stamps reveal the sequence of events.

      The date stamps also reveal that early ratings were different from later ratings.

    73. Why should we believe you on this occasion, Richard? You've been wrong in almost every every claim you've made so far, and you've never been able to back up any of your other wild claims. Provide proof or stop this nonsense.

      And stop avoiding the real issue here. You know darn well that 411 ratings (a mere 3%) will make no difference to the result. Especially since their category is unlikely to be any different.

      You could categorise 100,000 papers and you'd still get very close to 97% consensus.

      Why do you avoid the rest of my comment? Why do you avoid the real issue here?

    74. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    75. This comment has not been removed to the HotWhoppery.

      Note that HotWhopper does not promote, distribute, sell or give away stolen property. It strongly advises against the use, misuse and abuse of such information and any derivations.

      Anyone relying on so-called information derived from stolen property (such as that promoted by Richard Tol) is warned that it may be erroneous, and probably is. (Stolen material carries no warranty from its owners.)

      Also note that Richard has already amply demonstrated that numbers and interpretation of data are not his forte. I strongly advise against taking anything he has written here at face value. It is more likely wrong than right.

    76. Ouch.

      Sou, you would make an excellent journal editor.

    77. I still find it bizarre that Tol will not even start to consider replicating the project. I remain convinced he knows, if he attempted to do so (honestly), he would come up with near identical results.

      This is the exact same reason none of the skeptics ever tries to replicate millennial temperature reconstruction. They know they'll get the same answer as Mike Mann 15 years ago.

    78. See my comment in the other thread. I was correct. Richard was wrong.

      I can now categorically confirm that the duplicate abstracts were removed *before* the ratings commenced.

    79. "The number of papers omitted is sufficiently high to reduce the consensus (as defined by Cook) to a minority."

      Even from your own beliefs about the level of consensus, that is highly implausible.

      Here's a very plausible alternative: you are grossly incompetent.

  12. MCourtney this should be easy to test.
    Show me all your dissenting papers and then give me a list of dissenting climate practitioners - you can even include Screaming Lord Such (but please no Oregon side walk petitions ) Now I'll leave it to you to calculate the ratios. If its under 98% I'll buy you a wedding present.(congratulations BTW)

    1. Listen Richard. If you are so sure of your position why don't you crowd fund a redo of the ratings using the same papers. Ad the papers you say were omitted and have the damn thing reviewed and published because you haven't laid a glove on Cook13 in the 2 years you have been flaying..

      Stop throwing this unsupported rubbish out there. You are an Academic for fuck's sake. Act like one.

    2. Ja, kap eens met dat laffe en kinderachtige gezuig, man.

    3. That's easy for you to say.

  13. Tol states:

    " All politics ends in failure, however. "

    This is the kind of statement that is meant to sound deep, but which in reality either means nothing or is trivially wrong. Yowza.

    1. Sounds like he's watched that 'Downfall' video too many times.

  14. Everything Tol has said is trying to attack the methodology, not the results...

    1. ... when his results in percentage terms are not impressively different for a social sciences study: 91% vs 97%. Instead he says things like, "1500 is the difference between my query and Cook's query (dot dot dot)"

      In a room full of rational people, one could hear a pin drop waiting for the next step in the argument on the way to a cogent conclusion.

    2. The particular logical fallacy Tol is employing here is Having Your Cake - almost claiming something, then backing out. Strictly a rhetorical trick, he's clearly implying something nefarious while still leaving wiggle room for an "I didn't say that!" defense.

      Personal opinion: his overall strategy with respect to the Cook et al paper boils down to a simple ad hominem fallacy - attacking (incorrectly, as it turns out, #FreeTheTol300) minutia in the Cook et al paper in an attempt to denigrate the conclusions, without _ever_ actually addressing those conclusions or the raw data (i.e. the scientific literature) that support them.

    3. Yes. And one of the fallacies he sets up, but doesn't commit to is that of hasty generalization and appeal to motive. "Look at all these abstracts Cook et al. didn't select (dot dot dot What are they trying to hide? If "their" ability to do a simple survey is so poor, how good a job are "they" doing on the actual science?)"

      From what I've read, he mostly doesn't make those parenthetic arguments explicitly. Out in the wild, his fans aren't nearly as circumspect.

      And NOW he gets to clobber me for hasty generalization and appeal to motive, as well as the main thing: appealing to popularity instead of addressing the underlying conclusions of the literature itself.

  15. Am I right in suggesting that reviewing a conclusion does not require replication - that a sample is sufficient? The idea being that if the sample produces results comparable to the original, then the review (broadly) validates the findings of the original.
    If this is correct, one could take any statistically significant sample population of papers from WoS using the original criteria (any number between 200<1200) and evaluate these. Any takers?

    1. I have a vague memory from 2 years ago that some people did sort of do that, picked a few dozen papers and had a go themselves and got results similar enough that you could see things were working on the right lines. Maybe it was more papers, maybe less.

    2. As in Oreskes 2004, where as a single author Oreskes looked at 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords “climate change”? The study that Cook et al 2013 is an expansion upon?

      If Richard Tol had any actual interest in _testing the conclusions_ of Cook et all, rather than just _dismissing_ them, I suspect such a test would take considerably less time than his many rejected comment submissions...

    3. Or from my own efforts:
      "...4. Almost all respondents (at least 97%) conclude that the human addition of CO2 into the atmosphere is an important component of the climate system and has contributed to some extent in recent observed global average warming..." (Brown, Annan, Pielke (2007)).
      Not based on reading papers, but on asking scientists in person (well, email...).
      Plus all those other pieces of research. Perhaps they are all wrong, independently and irrespective of methodology. Or not.

    4. Indeed, Fergus. Just. Like. That.

      But Tol isn't interested in testing conclusions about scientific consensus on AGW. Just dismissing that consensus.

      After all, as Skeptical Science points out, denying consensus on AGW is the fourth most common climate denial myth. Tol has demonstrated (and continues to) that he's part of that statistic.

  16. Regardless of personal opinions on this matter, I'd like to say thanks to Tol (or Tol shaped sockpuppet if that is indeed the case) for coming and defending his work and doing so in a matter of fact way. It's been an interesting discussion.

    So thank you Tol, may you return some time in the future.

    Rational Troll

  17. Sou, calling names does not strengthen your point. Please be civil, you're not helping the AGW community. It is not for you to judge one's character, you should stick to the subject.

    1. Ooh, a tone troll. Great. Haven't had one of those for, oh, at least a few days.

      Does anyone know what the "AGW community" is? Is that what deniers call the rest of the world? You know, normal people?

    2. "It is not for you to judge one's character"

      Now that's a weird one. Judging character is the way one avoids things like being mugged.

      But I'd imagine the fossil fuel industry would like us to stop doing it: all those former tobacco industry shills now pretending to be climate experts are so obviously defective in character.

  18. The surprising thing is that Tol has hung in for the punishment here without a single argument that would hold water better than a fishnet. In his responses to critique, he has handled his rapier-like wit so well that he's stabbed himself in the foot and chopped off several of his own fingers.

    If this is the best he can do, he would be better advised to stay home.

  19. " There is no doubt that the current global warming is caused by us. Richard himself doesn't doubt it."

    " . . the current warming?"

    1.) . . actually the current staying warm (not warming - not cooling)

    2.) Implying all of it? It's a long road from having a footprint on the global temperature - to, 'causing all of it.'

    1. Yes, at least all of it, Gary. And yes, it's a long road we're traveling.

      If you don't think that the planet has been warming then p'raps you've not been keeping up.

    2. Actually, Gary, you're wrong on both points.

      Attribution studies indicate that we are indeed causing roughly 110% of recent warming (with natural forcings imposing a slight cooling summing to the 100% temperature change). And as Sou points out, despite short term variations in atmospheric temperatures the ocean heat content (representing ~93% of the climate thermal mass) continues to rise,

    3. Sou . . I find it "really, really odd," that you can actually go from here:

      "It is extremely likely that 'more than half' of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic"

      to here:

      "In other words, the best estimate is that we've caused all the warming."

      Must be the 'new math,' where, 75%, 85% or even 99.1% is suddenly 100%.

    4. Gary H, did you know that paragraphs sometimes contain more than one sentence? Why did you excerpt the first sentence, and ignore the second sentence that Sou emphasized in bold italics?

    5. Gary - Clearly you didn't read my reply, or Sou's emphasis, or for that matter the IPCC reports or summaries. The center of the attribution PDF is 110% (with cooling natural forcings), and there is according to the evidence less than a 5% chance of the anthropogenic influence being as low as 50% of the warming. Which is where the "extremely likely" term came from.

      Or perhaps you're not interested in listening?

    6. Oh gawd, yet another pausist who's hell-bent on demonstrating to the world that he doesn't understand either statistics or physics.

      The "pause" is not a halting of warming/heat accumulation by the planet, it is simply a reflection of the statistical description of the short-term variability of heat distribution around the planet, a distribution that is largely independent of the 'greenhouse' effect. Technically there is ALWAYS a statistical "pause" for the preceeding decade and a half or so, even when in reality there is no cessation at all in the warming and indeed even when there are new record global highs being set.

      Let me repeat my opening comment for clarity - anyone who says that there is no actual warming is simply displaying their ignorance of statistics and physics.

    7. Gary wrote:

      Sou . . I find it "really, really odd," that you can actually go from here:

      "It is extremely likely that 'more than half' of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic"

      to here:

      "In other words, the best estimate is that we've caused all the warming."

      Must be the 'new math,' where, 75%, 85% or even 99.1% is suddenly 100%.


      I think this is what he was referring to, from my link. Part of it was actually a quote from Judith Curry who was quoting the IPCC. Here is the section he queried:

      As most people who follow climate science would know, the IPCC attributes virtually all of the warming since 1950 to human causes. Judith quotes the following statement:

      It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.

      In other words, the best estimate is that we've caused all the warming.

      If the best estimate of the human induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period [1951 to 2010], that means that the best estimate is that we've caused all the warming over that period.

      As others have pointed out, it's likely to have caused more than all of it, offset by some aerosols and a less active sun.

    8. BTW - I don't blame Gary. The IPCC paragraph is awkwardly phrased and could be confusing to people.

      The first sentence with the "extremely likely" is probably to use their probability scale, but it only confused people. They see that before they read the "best estimate" sentence - and ignore the latter - or scratch their head.

      I'm pleased that the IPCC is going to make use of science communicators in future. I think at this stage it's only for the SPM. It would be good if they got expert writers editing the main reports, too.

    9. You know, I was thinking about the "scientists are poor communicators" last week and I'm more convinced than ever that the actual problem is not with how scientists communicate the message. Instead I thnk that the problem is with how people - politicians, vested interests, the media and society in general - receive the message.

      We have no extreme difficulty in other areas of scientific endeavour beyond the hurdles of laiety vs expertise and tinfoil-hat nuttery that inevitably follows any subject. It's just that the magnitude of the message and the required responses in the case of human-caused climate change sends most people's minds scurrying into the dark burrows of denial, whether of the science or simply of the need to respond.

      I think what we need more than a better communication of the science is a managed response to the psychological phenomenon that arises when people are confronted by the science. The scientific communication stuff is front-of-shop stuff, but the current problems are all occurring in the political/psychological back rooms which are all guarded by "staff only" signs.

      If people follow the "if only the scientific message was better communicated" line and focus too much on that I reckon that we'll lose another 5 to 10 years. We don't all need to be post-docs in climatology to respond, just as we didn't all need to be immunologists to understand that vacination works.

    10. To follow on from my previous post, I've had this discussion with a colleague who posited that it was still an issue of communication because it mattered how the science was communicated as much as the what of the science that was communicated. My response it that these are not the same thing, and that what it implies is that all scientists are all supposed to have majors in psychology as well in order to get maximal response to their work.

      But this is not what scientific communication is supposed to be about - this is the domain and purvue of a very separate industry - marketing and advertising.

      Sure, if you need marketeers to promote your work then have at it, but acknowledge in the process that what we're fighting for is not just a competition to maximise market share. There's an active campaign by vested interests to resist loss of their own profitability, and there's a resistance by people in general to making hard choices. And as I said in the previous post, simply explaining the science better isn't going to remove these obstacles to action.

      It's the reason why we have so much obesity and smoking and sexually-transmitted disease even when people know that it's bad for them...

    11. Bernard, in my experience there are some scientists who are able to write for the general public and some who are less able.

      The issue is not one of "blaming scientists". I would be the last person to do that. It's buck-passing. Scientists are doing a fantastic job - at their job.

      And it is not even how politicians and the media *receive* the messages. It's how they *convey* the messages they receive.

      Journalists are meant to report science (when they write about it). Their job is to translate what scientists find and explain it in terms the general public can understand.

      If the IPCC reports are for the scientific community alone - that's fine. But they aren't. The audience is policy makers primarily, and then the media, and then the general public. The SPM is the main document for general consumption and sometimes they are fantastically good, and sometimes they do a poor job of explaining things.

      Research scientists are expert at doing science, and need to be able to report their findings so that *other scientists* can understand it. That's where any reasonable expectation of their role ends. They don't *have* to report to the general public. That's the job of science communicators.

      Some scientists have a talent for communicating directly with laypeople, but that's a rare skill and not an expectation.

      I recall arguing with the CEO of an R&D corporation, who wanted all the researchers his organisation funded, to have marketing and PR and journalistic skills - and saying that's a different set of skills to doing scientific research, and that there are specialists in communication, marketing and PR, including some who specialise in and understand science.

      When I worked in depts of agriculture, we employed journalists to write / edit articles and press releases about scientific research and agricultural policy. I wrote the corporate plans and annual reports etc - after talking with the scientists themselves. Translating from their jargon into language the general public and politicians could understand.

      Scientists can only go so far. It's up to other professionals (communications experts etc) to do the job of communicating the science to the general public and government etc.

    12. Oh, I agree with everything that you've said Sou!

      It's just that I think the real problem is actually something else and the science communication topic is used as a a smokescreen by some, one which is easily set as the issue when there's actually a greater problem standing in the corner.

      My suspicion, having seen things explained to the general public, to media, to politicians and to deniers and having no more action arise as a result of optimised communication is that just as you can lead a horse to water and not be able to make it drink, you can communicate as much as you like but that's not the bottleneck that's preventing action.

      I suspect that better communication will be just like pushing the horse's nose into the water. What we need is the psychological/political salt that will make it want to drink...

    13. Yes, I agree Bernard. It annoys the heck out of me, too, when people blame scientists. And I agree wholeheartedly that's not where the bottleneck lies.

      Especially in climate science and related, which have to be *the* most transparent, public-friendly of sciences there are today.

    14. Gary, why aren't there any intelligent, knowledgeable, intellectually honest septics?

  20. Perhaps Tol should try attacking this poll:


Instead of commenting as "Anonymous", please comment using "Name/URL" and your name, initials or pseudonym or whatever. You can leave the "URL" box blank. This isn't mandatory. You can also sign in using your Google ID, Wordpress ID etc as indicated. NOTE: Some Wordpress users are having trouble signing in. If that's you, try signing in using Name/URL or OpenID. Details here.

Click here to read the HotWhopper comment policy.