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What Is Cook’s 97% Consensus? ‘Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. This is a very wide definition that even most sceptical scientists would have little difficulty agreeing with. It is also an pretty meaningless statement’
What Is Cook’s Consensus?
By Paul Homewood
John Cook’s little paper, “Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature” has attracted much attention in recent weeks.
Yesterday an essay by Brandon Shollenberger at WUWT, which accused the authors of “laundering lies”, made me realise that an important issue seems to have escaped our attention.
[As I say, much has been written on the subject, so bear with me if this particular issue has already been flagged up]
It’s nothing but laundering lies. The authors don’t come out and directly say anything untrue, but they intentionally create and promote misunderstandings to inflate the importance of their work.
It’s rampant dishonesty hiding behind a fig leaf of deniability. This is how I recently described Cook et al’s PR campaign for their recent paper.
I didn’t intend to follow up on this comment, but this morning I saw a quote from Dana Nuccitelli that was impossible to resist:
We were always careful to say that while the survey involved 12,000 abstracts, the 97 percent consensus was among the ~4,000 abstracts that took a position on the cause of global warming (plus the roughly 1,400 of 2,100 self-rated papers taking a position). And we were careful to point out that the consensus was that ‘humans are causing global warming.
Nuccitelli says he and his co-authors always used a particular phrasing when describing their results. I must admit, that is true. They’ve always managed to say “humans cause global warming” with the implicit qualifier of “some” (that they knew nobody would pay attention to). It’s obvious they knew the limitations of their results and didn’t want to be accused of lying.
Brandon is making the point that the 97% figure is calculated from the papers which acknowledge that “humans are causing global warming”, which could mean anything from a little to a lot. Indeed, this is exactly what Cook’s abstract says:-
Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.
This is a very wide definition that even most sceptical scientists would have little difficulty agreeing with. It is also an pretty meaningless statement.
But does Cook really have this in mind when he talks of “endorsing the consensus”? The answer lies in the paper’s introduction, which states.
We examined a large sample of the scientific literature on global Climate …