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97%: The story of a bad statistic

Discussion in 'Personal' started by lanokia, Feb 6, 2020.

  1. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Often we hear that 97% of climate scientists agree that anthropogenic climate change is occurring. This is repeated time and again to demonstrate the foolishness of 'deniers' ... how can they deny science? So where did this statistic come from?

    Well this isn't the origin of it... but it certainly is a popular statistic.

    First off there are two levels here... 1. The climate is changing. 2. The climate is changing because of mankind's influence.

    So where'd this come from? Well it started in 2004 with Naomi Oreskes published this short article https://science.sciencemag.org/content/306/5702/1686.full.pdf+html
    In this she clearly identified 100% of papers she studied to be endorsing the consensus view on Climate Change [that it is man made]
    Image 1: [from the above link]

    Oreskes later went on to write a book [ https://www.lpl.arizona.edu/sites/default/files/resources/globalwarming/oreskes-chapter-4.pdf ] where she discussed this further... offering this:

    Clearly scientifically there was a consensus... 100% of papers studied do indeed show no refutation of the idea of "global climate change". But the leap from "global climate change" to "man-made global climate change" is unsupported. Indeed in the very next line after image 1 Oreskes says that some study authors "might believe that current climate change is natural". While not damning, this caveat has been subsequently ignored in reporting.

    But in 2013 John Cook and others [see image below]
    published a report which was the strongest evidence yet to support the 97% claim. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/...E518E7763C764921E71.c1.iopscience.cld.iop.org

    This looked at nearly 12,000 report abstracts. Not the reports themselves. But the easily digested cover sheet.
    And what did they find?
    And there is the origin of the 97% claim.

    Out of 11,944 papers they found that 3,894 supported AGW. And this has spun out into meaning 97% of scientists. Not "97% of scientists who expressed an opinion"... just 97% of scientists.

    This paper has, of course, been a source of controversy. It was rebutted here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11191-013-9647-9
    Unfortunately only the abstract is available [ironically considering]

    This paper of course elicited a rejoinder from Cook: https://research-repository.uwa.edu...c-consensus-and-the-teaching-and-learning-of-
    defending their conclusions [as they are perfectly entitled to do]. Had to go looking for that one because it isn't on Cook's website. Not sure why.

    Cook also went on to publish: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/048002/pdf
    Which has this handy little chart
    Always love a handy chart.

    Cook even produced this nice chart:
    After analysing surveys of peer reviewed articles. Cook was careful to say it was based on 'climate experts' but that didn't stop the media and politicians like Obama and John Kerry running with "97% of scientists" ... a statement that is just simply untrue.

    Unfortunately, Cook was not supported by many of the scientists who he'd surveyed.

    Even within those who do believe [accept] that humanity is playing a role in climate change [and I'm in that camp myself] there is a range of views.
    Source: http://www.hvonstorch.de/klima/pdf/CliSci2013.pdf

    1 is not convinced and 7 is very convinced. So here we can see that 70% of scientists hold a very strong/strong belief in AGW.

    Whatever way that you look at it, the majority of climate scientists who've expressed an opinion do think that humanity is having a strong effect on the climate. But the next time you see "97%" quoted at you... just bear in mind how deeply inaccurate that is... and how nuanced the actual discussion is.
  2. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    Wow - thanks. You should watch this video. It's also completely valid.

    colacao17, Scintillant and Ivanhoe like this.
  3. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I'm not sure which discussion you are talking about other than how to compel the biggest offenders to simply stop looking at the profit motive. Which to me is not a discussion , it is an imperative.

    I don't care about stats as much as I care about logic.
    Climate change is happening-not really disputed.
    Much of human activity is cause for climate change-not really disputed
    Not all climate change is attributable to humans-not really disputed
    it is not relevant how much. There is no lesser or greater moral compulsion to try to limit the damage we cause, based merely on the proportion of the total amount of climate change attributable to human activity.
    The fact of human activity causing climate change at all still puts equal onus on us, whether we cause 1% or 100%, because we are humans, to reduce any impact on climate change that we can.
  4. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Thanks for the lols @lanokia

    Lukewarmers of the world unite.
    NoseyMatronType likes this.
  5. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Natural variation in the global temperature would currently have us in a cooling trend. In other words, it is masking some of the warming.
    NoseyMatronType likes this.
  6. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Monckton? Seriously? The UKIP berk with no science background whatsoever? You listen to him over Michael Mann, Oppenheimer, Schmidt, Heyhoe and Hansen etc? Oh my days. He's even got his own page detailing all the guff he comes out with. Another complete tool who even tries to claim it's not getting warmer. Yes, really.

    Anyway, enough of the nonsense.

    J. Cook, et al, "Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming," Environmental Research Letters Vol. 11 No. 4, (13 April 2016); DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/048002

    Quotation from page 6: "The number of papers rejecting AGW [Anthropogenic, or human-caused, Global Warming] is a miniscule proportion of the published research, with the percentage slightly decreasing over time. Among papers expressing a position on AGW, an overwhelming percentage (97.2% based on self-ratings, 97.1% based on abstract ratings) endorses the scientific consensus on AGW.”

    J. Cook, et al, "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature," Environmental Research Letters Vol. 8 No. 2, (15 May 2013); DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024

    Quotation from page 3: "Among abstracts that expressed a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the scientific consensus. Among scientists who expressed a position on AGW in their abstract, 98.4% endorsed the consensus.”
    Stiltskin and NoseyMatronType like this.
  7. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    What a silly response.
    Kandahar likes this.
  8. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    What has this got to do with anything I posted?

    I'm disputing a commonly cited statistic. Nothing you wrote was relevant.
    Kandahar likes this.
  9. NoseyMatronType

    NoseyMatronType Star commenter

    I would estimate that 97% of the posts on here are complete and utter garbage.

    This forum is an embarrassment to the teaching profession.
  10. CheeseMongler

    CheeseMongler Lead commenter

    Deeply innaccurate? Okay, the figure of 97% may not be valid but you then quote other sources that says that it's over 70%. Is that really a huge problem? At least twice as many "scientists" believe in AGW as those that don't... doesn't that lead to pretty much the same conclusion?
    As for "nuanced discussion"... it's as if you're new to TES! (Unless you think that nuanced discussion is Lexus posting hundreds of (scientifically) dubious Youtube videos and Scintillant getting apoplectic about the impending doom)
  11. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    I doubt that anywhere near 97% of the posters on this forum are teachers. Obviously there is a good number of retired ex-teachers here but it is surprising that some who claim to be actively employed in schools are able to post at any time in the school day, and often posting quite unpleasant stuff too. Are they not supposed to be engaged in teaching pupils?

    That being the case, yes - this forum is an embarrassment to the teaching profession.
  12. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    The vast majority of climate scientists agree on AGW.

    It probably near to 100% now.

    Why on Earth somebody would try to undermine the science around climate change while claiming to be behind that science is incredible.
    NoseyMatronType likes this.
  13. NoseyMatronType

    NoseyMatronType Star commenter

    Thanks for agreeing with me.

    This is specialist territory and you have to pay your dues. Familiarity with the territory is assumed in a community of educators.

    Therefore, references to at least some of the following when it comes to climate change and the environment would be a sign of that: Aldo Leopold, Arne Naess, Rachel Carson, James Lovelock, Henry Shue, Peter SInger, James Garvey, Slavoj Zizek, Roger Scruton and Roy Scranton (to name but a few).

    These are some of the major thinkers in the territory. And that's before you even get to the actual climate change scientists.

    But you can pretty much guarantee that they will never be invoked. So how pathetic does it make this place look when that doesn't happen?

    And the same applies to other areas. On Iran (to take a random but prominent and recent example),when do you get posts that reference authoritative UK writers like Michael Axworthy or Ali Ansari?

    The bottom line is that the TES forum is an echo chamber and nothing more than that.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2020
    borges33, sbkrobson and colacao17 like this.
  14. Kandahar

    Kandahar Lead commenter

    This is the 'Personal forum' - not the 'Just look at how many books I've read and authoritative authors I can quote' forum. Hopefully you can find a forum that lives up to your mighty standards soon.
    Shedman, alex_teccy and Jamvic like this.
  15. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    I consider myself to be a major thinker in a fair number of areas but I remain unpublished in all but a couple of them.

    A bit like Bill Bryson but with far fewer books to my name. ;)
    bevdex, border_walker and Kandahar like this.
  16. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    So I can't comment as I did without fulfilling your reading list?

    Except you are assuming I know nothing of these texts. I studied Singer and Carson at University. I read Zizek about a 20 years ago, Welcome to the desert of the real but I confess I only got it because of the Matrix association of the title and didn't find the contents were helpful. I also read Lovelock's Gaia back in the late 80s and then his book "The Greening of mars" after reading Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy.

    But the others I haven't ... what did they have to say about the 97% error that is commonly pushed?
    alex_teccy, nomad and Kandahar like this.
  17. Kandahar

    Kandahar Lead commenter

    I'd estimate that 97% of published material is complete and utter garbage. (Insert emoticon of your choice).
  18. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Hopefully my contributions are within the remaining 3% :D
  19. NoseyMatronType

    NoseyMatronType Star commenter

    This is a forum devoted to education, ideally in following the truth wherever it leads.

    Maybe you didn't notice that.

    But anyway, I have wasted almost thirty minutes today posting here in this wretched and dismal corner of cyberspace. That's more than enough.
    Scintillant likes this.
  20. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    It's very likely above 97%.

    Perhaps you could cite some current climatologists that do not consider climate change to be caused by human-generated CO2?

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