97% Agreement on what?

First heard from Dennis Prager: the climate change activists are insisting that we believe three separate things:

  1. The climate is changing;
  2. Humans are responsible for a lot of that;
  3. It’s leading to a catastrophe.

Alex Epstein says much the same in Forbes, and looks at the numbers.


If you’ve ever expressed the least bit of skepticism about environmentalist calls for making the vast majority of fossil fuel use illegal, you’ve probably heard the smug response: “97% of climate scientists agree with climate change” — which always carries the implication: Who are you to challenge them?

The answer is: you are a thinking, independent individual–and you don’t go by polls, let alone second-hand accounts of polls; you go by facts, logic and explanation.

Here are two questions to ask anyone who pulls the 97% trick.

1. What exactly do the climate scientists agree on?
Usually, the person will have a very vague answer like “climate change is real.”

Which raises the question: What is that supposed to mean? That climate changes? That we have some impact? That we have a large impact? That we have a catastrophically large impact? That we have such a catastrophic impact that we shouldn’t use fossil fuels?

What you’ll find is that people don’t want to define what 97% agree on–because there is nothing remotely in the literature saying 97% agree we should ban most fossil fuel use.

It’s likely that 97% of people making the 97% claim have absolutely no idea where that number comes from.

If you look at the literature, the specific meaning of the 97% claim is: 97 percent of climate scientists agree that there is a global warming trend and that human beings are the main cause–that is, that we are over 50% responsible. The warming is a whopping 0.8 degrees over the past 150 years, a warming that has tapered off to essentially nothing in the last decade and a half.

Even if 97% of climate scientists agreed with this, and even if they were right, it in no way, shape, or form would imply that we should restrict fossil fuels–which are crucial to the livelihood of billions.

Because the actual 97% claim doesn’t even remotely justify their policies, catastrophists like President Obama and John Kerry take what we could generously call creative liberties in repeating this claim.

On his Twitter account, President Obama tweets: “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” Not only does Obama sloppily equate “scientists” with “climate scientists,” but more importantly he added “dangerous” to the 97% claim, which is not there in the literature.

This is called the fallacy of equivocation: using the same term (“97 percent”) in two different ways to manipulate people.

….

Bottom line: What the 97% of climate scientists allegedly agree on is very mild and in no way justifies restricting the energy that billions need.

But it gets even worse. Because it turns out that 97% didn’t even say that.

Which brings us to the next question:

2. How do we know the 97% agree?

To elaborate, how was that proven?

Almost no one who refers to the 97% has any idea, but the basic way it works is that a researcher reviews a lot of scholarly papers and classifies them by how many agree with a certain position.

Unfortunately, in the case of 97% of climate scientists agreeing that human beings are the main cause of warming, the researchers have engaged in egregious misconduct.

One of the main papers behind the 97 percent claim is authored by John Cook, who runs the popular website SkepticalScience.com, a virtual encyclopedia of arguments trying to defend predictions of catastrophic climate change from all challenges.

Here is Cook’s summary of his paper: “Cook et al. (2013) found that over 97 percent [of papers he surveyed] endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause.”

This is a fairly clear statement—97 percent of the papers surveyed endorsed the view that man-made greenhouse gases were the main cause—main in common usage meaning more than 50 percent.

But even a quick scan of the paper reveals that this is not the case. Cook is able to demonstrate only that a relative handful endorse “the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause.” Cook calls this “explicit endorsement with quantification” (quantification meaning 50 percent or more). The problem is, only a small percentage of the papers fall into this category; Cook does not say what percentage, but when the study was publicly challenged by economist David Friedman, one observer calculated that only 1.6 percent explicitly stated that man-made greenhouse gases caused at least 50 percent of global warming.

Where did most of the 97 percent come from, then? Cook had created a category called “explicit endorsement without quantification”—that is, papers in which the author, by Cook’s admission, did not say whether 1 percent or 50 percent or 100 percent of the warming was caused by man. He had also created a category called “implicit endorsement,” for papers that imply (but don’t say) that there is some man-made global warming and don’t quantify it. In other words, he created two categories that he labeled as endorsing a view that they most certainly didn’t.

The 97 percent claim is a deliberate misrepresentation designed to intimidate the public—and numerous scientists whose papers were classified by Cook protested:

“Cook survey included 10 of my 122 eligible papers. 5/10 were rated incorrectly. 4/5 were rated as endorse rather than neutral.”
—Dr. Richard Tol

“That is not an accurate representation of my paper . . .”
—Dr. Craig Idso

“Nope . . . it is not an accurate representation.”
—Dr. Nir Shaviv

“Cook et al. (2013) is based on a strawman argument . . .”
—Dr. Nicola Scafetta

Think about how many times you hear that 97 percent or some similar figure thrown around. It’s based on crude manipulation propagated by people whose ideological agenda it serves. It is a license to intimidate.

It’s time to revoke that license.

Forbes Magazine

The Religion of Environmentalism

I’m not sure if I read this piece by Michael Chrichton before or not, but listening to a friend of mine who is very definitely an environmentalist, I noticed how she seemed to believe in a Fall From Grace story. At one time in the past, the environment was in a perfect state. And then humans came along and started making changes, and every change humans make is, by definition, for the worse. (She did not receive that well.)

Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it’s a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.
There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.

Environmentalism is a Religion — Michael Crichton

So what about it?

There are two reasons why I think we all need to get rid of the religion of environmentalism.
First, we need an environmental movement, and such a movement is not very effective if it is conducted as a religion. We know from history that religions tend to kill people, and environmentalism has already killed somewhere between 10-30 million people since the 1970s. It’s not a good record. Environmentalism needs to be absolutely based in objective and verifiable science, it needs to be rational, and it needs to be flexible. And it needs to be apolitical. To mix environmental concerns with the frantic fantasies that people have about one political party or another is to miss the cold truth—that there is very little difference between the parties, except a difference in pandering rhetoric. The effort to promote effective legislation for the environment is not helped by thinking that the Democrats will save us and the Republicans won’t. Political history is more complicated than that. Never forget which president started the EPA: Richard Nixon. And never forget which president sold federal oil leases, allowing oil drilling in Santa Barbara: Lyndon Johnson. So get politics out of your thinking about the environment.
The second reason to abandon environmental religion is more pressing. Religions think they know it all, but the unhappy truth of the environment is that we are dealing with incredibly complex, evolving systems, and we usually are not certain how best to proceed. Those who are certain are demonstrating their personality type, or their belief system, not the state of their knowledge. Our record in the past, for example managing national parks, is humiliating. Our fifty-year effort at forest-fire suppression is a well-intentioned disaster from which our forests will never recover. We need to be humble, deeply humble, in the face of what we are trying to accomplish. We need to be trying various methods of accomplishing things. We need to be open-minded about assessing results of our efforts, and we need to be flexible about balancing needs. Religions are good at none of these things.

ibid

Climate Panics Over the Past Century and a Quarter

Remember when the coming ice age was the big concern in the press? I sure do. I also remember a book, Climates of Hunger, which warned that the past few decades have been uncharacteristically warm, and the climate was overdue for a reversion to its chilly norm. Result: shorter growing seasons, droughts, and starvation.


For at least 114 120 years, climate “scientists” have been claiming that the climate was going to kill us…but they have kept switching whether it was a coming ice age, or global warming.

A brief history of climate panic…both warming and cooling

There follows a long list of items, many of them linked to sources.

Now, the scientific community claims the scientific literature doesn’t reflect the popular fears of a new ice age. Because it wasn’t in the journals, it wasn’t a real concern.

Well, it seems to me, if information transmission from the scholarly journal articles to the popular press is so subject to distortion, why should I trust the articles about global warming / climate change in today’s press?

A failure of peer review

Judith Curry’s website has a comment about the recent paper in Nature, stating that the oceans are absorbing unexpectedly large amounts of heat. The writer, Nic Lewis, finds some problems with it. (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection)

On page 1 they say:

From equation (1), we thereby find that ΔAPOClimate = 23.20 ± 12.20 per meg, corresponding to a least squares linear trend of +1.16 ± 0.15 per meg per year[ix]

A quick bit of mental arithmetic indicated that a change of 23.2 between 1991 and 2016 represented an annual rate of approximately 0.9, well below their 1.16 value. As that seemed surprising, I extracted the annual ΔAPO best-estimate values and uncertainties from the paper’s Extended Data Table 4[x] and computed the 1991–2016 least squares linear fit trend in the ΔAPOClimate values. The trend was 0.88, not 1.16, per meg per year, implying an ocean heat uptake estimate of 10.1 ZJ per year,[xi] well below the estimate in the paper of 13.3 ZJ per year.[xii]

Later, he concludes:

CONCLUSIONS

The findings of the Resplandy et al paper were peer reviewed and published in the world’s premier scientific journal and were given wide coverage in the English-speaking media. Despite this, a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results. Just a few hours of analysis and calculations, based only on published information, was  sufficient to uncover apparently serious (but surely inadvertent) errors in the underlying calculations.

Moreover, even if the paper’s results had been correct, they would not have justified its findings regarding an increase to 2.0°C in the lower bound of the equilibrium climate sensitivity range and a 25% reduction in the carbon budget for 2°C global warming.

Because of the wide dissemination of the paper’s results, it is extremely important that these errors are acknowledged by the authors without delay and then corrected.

Of course, it is also very important that the media outlets that unquestioningly trumpeted the paper’s findings now correct the record too.

But perhaps that is too much to hope for.

Climate Change Questions

From Watts Up With That:

The issue of climate change (aka global warming) depends on the answers to three questions being “yes”.
1) Is the planet getting warmer?
2) Is the warming due to human activity?
3) Is this warming going to lead to disaster?

It seems 96% of atmospheric scientists answer question 1 as “yes”.

In another survey, 29% of scientists surveyed say it’s entirely human activity, and 38% say “mostly” (60-80%) human activity.

In a third survey, half believe the effects will be primarily (47%) or exclusively (3%) negative over the next half century.

So, the consensus for an anthropogenic climate change disaster is
96% X 67% X 50% = 32%.

It would be interesting to see the answer to a question 2A) “Can humans significantly reverse the warming of the planet?”

Charts and details at the link up top.

CO2 Emissions Down in US

From The Daily Caller

Greenhouse gas emissions continued to plummet during President Donald Trump’s first year in office, according to new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data.

Based on data from more than 8,000 large facilities, EPA found greenhouse gas emissions, mostly carbon dioxide, fell 2.7 percent from 2016 to 2017. Emissions from large power plants fell 4.5 percent from 2016 levels, according to EPA.

“Thanks to President Trump’s regulatory reform agenda, the economy is booming, energy production is surging, and we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial sources,” EPA acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

Earlier this year, the Energy Information Administration reported that per-capita greenhouse gas emissions hit a 67-year low during Trump’s first year in office.

This appears to be the source of the data.

Race and the Race for the White House: On Social Research in the Age of Trump | SpringerLink

Source: Race and the Race for the White House: On Social Research in the Age of Trump | SpringerLink

From the abstract:

This essay presents a series of case studies showing how analyses of the roles of race and racism in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election seem to have been systematically distorted as a result. However, motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, prejudicial study design, and failure to address confounds are not limited to questions about race (a similar essay could have been done on the alleged role of sexism/ misogyny in the 2016 cycle, for instance). And while Trump does seem to generate particularly powerful antipathy from researchers – perhaps exacerbating negative tendencies – ideologically-driven errors likely permeate a good deal of social research. Presented evidence suggests that research with strong adversarial or advocacy orientations may be most susceptible to systemic distortion. Activist scholars and their causes may also be among those most adversely impacted by the resultant erosion of research reliability and credibility.

The article is behind a paywall, but Campus Watch offers commentary:

One example of this phenomena can be seen in the April 2017 Washington Post article “Racism motivated Trump voters more than authoritarianism,” by Thomas Wood, who teaches political science classes at Ohio State University.

While Wood cites survey data to claim that Trump voters were especially motivated by racism, a closer analysis by al-Gharbi reveals that Wood’s arguments about Trump voters can’t be substantiated from the data cited in the article.

“According to Wood’s own data, whites who voted for Trump are perhaps less racist than those who voted for Romney,” al-Gharbi explains, adding that “not only were they less authoritarian than Romney voters, but less racist too!”

“Unfortunately, Wood declined to consider how Trump voters differed from Romney voters…instead focusing on the gap between Democrats and Republicans in 2016, in the service of a conclusion his data do not support,” he adds.

Bees are not in Danger – Cedar Writes

Source: Bees are not in Danger – Cedar Writes

….Looking, for the moment, at honeybees in particular, we are seeing that far from being devastated by Colony Collapse Disorder, there has been an increase in their numbers. The pesticide most often blamed for bee death is neonicotinoids, which are applied to crops and taken up into the plants to kill pests when they eat the plant. Which bees do not, so you may be pardoned confusion over how bees are affected by this. The neonics are taken up into pollen, which bees do eat. However, “there is no scientific evidence to link neonicotinoids as the major cause of colony declines” even when the bees were fed 20 times the amount normally expected to be found in their usual foraging. Science has shown that, in direct opposition to what is being shown in media, low doses of pesticides and bacteria in combination can actually have a beneficial effect on bees. But the EU banned neonics… only that “legislation was at no time based on a direct link on bee mortality.” In fact, honeybees in Europe are overall healthier than they were in the past, as shown by overwintering hive survival.

And what about the wild bees? Well, there are not a lot of species that visit the crops, and none of the endangered species contribute to agricultural pollination. What does this mean? That we shouldn’t do anything about the poor endangered species of bees? No… but what it does tell me is that they are not endangered because of pesticides. They don’t visit the same places where pesticides are used. And the bees who are exposed? Can be encouraged greatly with simple conservations measures like leaving strips of wildflowers blooming in between fields.

I suspect a lot of people aren’t going to want to hear this. It may mean that all their activism has been a waste of time.

Trigger Warning: Trigger warning ahead

A new study suggests that trigger warnings may actually increase student vulnerability to offensive or troubling material.

Is it possible that “trigger warnings” — warnings to students and others that they are about to encounter potentially offensive or disturbing material — do more harm than good? A new study suggests that may be the case.

Trigger warnings may inadvertently undermine some aspects of emotional resilience. Further research is needed on the generalizability of our findings, especially to collegiate populations and to those with trauma histories.

Source

Is IQ real?

(Or does it default to integer?)*

Jordan Peterson has some comments here.

From the autogenerated transcript:

1:11 one of the things I have to tell you
01:13 about it IQ research is that if you
01:15 don’t buy IQ research you might as well
01:19 throw away all the rest of psychology
01:21 and the reason for that is that the
01:24 psychologists first of all who developed
01:26 intelligence testing were among the
01:28 early psychologists who instantiated the
01:30 statistical techniques that all
01:32 psychologists use to verify and test all
01:35 of their hypotheses so you end up
01:37 throwing the baby out with the bathwater
01:39 and the IQ people have defined
01:42 intelligence in a more stringent
01:44 stringent and accurate way than we’ve
01:47 been able to define almost any other
01:50 psychological construct and so if you
01:52 toss out the one that’s most well
01:54 defined then you’re kind of stuck with
01:55 the problem of what are you going to do
01:57 with all the ones that you have left
01:58 over that are nowhere near as
01:59 well-defined
02:00 or as well measured or as or as or or
02:04 whose predictive validity is much less
02:07 and has been demonstrated with much less
02:09 vigor and clarity

Also here:

00:01 so IQ is reliable invalid [and valid – ed] it’s more
00:05 reliable and valid than any other
00:06 psychometric test ever designed by
00:09 social scientists the IQ claims are more
00:11 psychometrically rigorous than any other
00:13 phenomena phenomenon that’s been
00:16 discovered by social scientists

Also of interest:

I
08:32 should tell you how to make an IQ test
08:33 is actually really easy and you need to
08:36 know this to actually understand what IQ
08:38 is so imagine that you generated a set
08:42 of 10,000 questions okay about anything
08:45 it could be math problems they could be
08:47 general knowledge they could be
08:49 vocabulary they could be multiple choice
08:50 it really doesn’t matter what they’re
08:52 about as long as they require abstract
08:53 to solve so they’d be formulated
08:56 linguistically but mathematically would
08:58 also apply and then you have those
09:01 10,000 questions now you take a random
09:03 set of a hundred of those questions and
09:05 you give them to a thousand people and
09:08 all you do is sum up the answers right
09:10 from so some people are gonna get most
09:12 of them right and some some of them are
09:13 going to get most of them wrong you just
09:14 rank order the people in terms of their
09:16 score correct that for age and you have
09:19 IQ that’s all there is to it and what
09:22 you’ll find is that no matter which
09:24 random set of a hundred questions you
09:26 take the people at the top of one random
09:28 set will be at the top of all the others
09:30 with very very very high consistency so
09:34 one thing you need to know is that if
09:36 any social science claims whatsoever are
09:39 correct then the IQ claims are correct
09:44 because the IQ claims are more
09:46 psychometrically rigorous than any other
09:48 phenomena phenomenon that’s been
09:51 discovered by social scientists

*  Fortran reference