Re: [asa] World sets ocean temperature record

From: John Burgeson (ASA member) <>
Date: Wed Aug 26 2009 - 09:53:17 EDT

Cam: You may be interested in this article

which deals with the problem you identify.


On 8/24/09, Cameron Wybrow <> wrote:
> Richard:
> Your first point is incorrect. You think I am illegitimately counting
> neutral votes as "no" votes. I am not counting them as "no" votes, but they
> still destroy the consensus, as this illustration will show:
> If in 2003, 97 physicists believe in the Big Bang theory, and 3 believe in
> the Steady State theory, there is a consensus of physicists in favour of the
> Big Bang theory.
> If in 2007, 45 physicists believe in the Big Bang theory, 7 believe in the
> Steady State theory, and 48 believe that the empirical evidence and
> theoretical arguments are equally good for both theories, and cannot make up
> their minds, there is no longer any consensus of physicists in favour of the
> Big Bang theory.
> Similarly, if 97% of scientists who discussed the question of AGW in 2003
> believed in AGW, then a scientific consensus in favour of AGW existed in
> 2003. But if only 45% of the scientists who discussed the question of AGW
> in 2007 believed in AGW, and 7% disbelieved, and 48% thought that the
> evidence was inconclusive, then in 2007 no scientific consensus on AGW
> existed.
> On your last point: Your method of combining the statistics of the two
> reports is astoundingly slipshod. We are not trying to determine the
> "average opinion" of scientists over two distinct time periods, based on the
> combined information in the two reports; we are trying to determine the
> change in opinion (if any) of scientists between the period ending in 2003
> and the period ending in 2007. (Using your logic, if 80% of the American
> people were in favour of capital punishment in 2003, but only 40% of them
> were in favour of it in 2007, one could argue that, since the average is
> 60%, it is still the will of the American people in 2007 that capital
> punishment be retained. But the whole point would be that over the
> intervening four years the public opinion had shifted decisively against
> capital punishment. Similarly, what has to be determined is whether
> scientific opinion on AGW has shifted between 2003 and 2007.)
> You seem to want to fight, tooth and nail, to prove that every single web
> site that disagrees with you is wrong, and that every single web site that
> agrees with you is right. In this case, regarding a study that I was not
> even defending, but merely trying to draw your attention to, in order to
> indicate evidence for another side, first you shot from the hip, seizing on
> the word "silent". Then, when I showed you that the word used was
> "neutral", not "silent", you tried other tactics to demolish the study.
> Instead of saying: "Gee, you are right, I did jump to conclusions when I
> inferred that "neutral" meant "silent" -- I should be more careful in the
> future! Maybe I should even track down and read some of the original
> papers, to see what sort of positions the study describes as "neutral", so I
> can better assess the validity of the study" --your first instinct was to
> redouble your assault on the enemy article. From the outset, you made not
> *inquiry* but *victory* your aim.
> I was pointing out that it is this attitude, one possessed by culture
> warriors on *both* sides, that is the big problem. Nobody wants to *learn*
> anything new about global warming; they just want quotes and statistics with
> which to beat down the other side. You seem to see only the mote in the eye
> of the AGW skeptics, never the beam in your own. Your argumentative stance
> on AGW is simply the mirror image of the stance of the UD extremists that
> you have been railing against. That is why the AGW discussions are so
> intractable, because *both* sides are championed by people who put
> passionate commitment to prior positions above research and reasoned
> discussion.
> I've learned my lesson. I won't post on this subject here again.
> Cameron.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Rich Blinne
> To: Cameron Wybrow
> Cc: asa
> Sent: Monday, August 24, 2009 3:13 AM
> Subject: Re: [asa] World sets ocean temperature record
> On Sun, Aug 23, 2009 at 10:34 PM, Cameron Wybrow <>
> wrote:
> Richard:
> First, there is no argument from silence, as you charge. The report did
> not say that 48% of the papers were "silent" about AGW. It said they were
> "neutral". It implied that AGW was discussed in those papers but that no
> side was taken. And if no side was taken, then that 48% of the papers
> cannot be counted in favour of the "consensus".
> And these papers cannot be counted against consensus either.
> That leaves the papers in favour of AGW as (at a maximum) 45%. So what
> happened to your 97% consensus among scientists, at least between 2003 and
> 2007? And, unless you have a new literature survey covering the last two
> years, how credible is your claim that it has bounced back to 97% now?
> From the paper:
> The analysis of 539 abstracts revealed that only a small part of papers
> identified
> through this search mechanism contributed direct relevant data to the
> question of the consensus as set out above. [Note: In other words they were
> silent.]
> The remainder have no bearing on climate change, or report the results
> of modeling, or review the literature, or provide commentary only.
> For Oreskes the 25% were papers concerning methods or paleoclimate
> analysis. The 75% consensus affirmations were in the follow three
> categories: explicit endorsement, mitigation proposals, and evaluations of
> impacts. There were zero papers denying the consensus.
> To count for example paleoclimate papers as buying or not buying into the
> consensus is just plain silly. It's silent and we can draw no conclusion.
> So, let's combine these two papers and count only those who explicitly or
> implicitly accept the consensus and explicitly or implicitly deny it.
> 1015 papers discussed in some way the consensus that "Human activities ...
> are modifying the concentration of atmospheric constituents ... that absorb
> or scatter radiant energy. ... [M]ost of the observed warming over the last
> 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas
> concentrations". 978 (96%) of these explicitly or implicitly affirmed the
> consensus. 37 (4%) denied it. That's awfully close to the 97% AGU poll
> number from this year.
> Rich Blinne
> Member ASA

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Received on Wed Aug 26 09:54:04 2009

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