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Great Moments in Scienticianism

[ 0 ] August 30, 2007 |

This post from Michael Asher at DailyTech has already brought predictable yodels from climate change skeptics. From what I can gather, Asher supplies — once again — ample evidence that he’s functionally innumerate:

In 2004, history professor Naomi Oreskes performed a survey of research papers on climate change. Examining peer-reviewed papers published on the ISI Web of Science database from 1993 to 2003, she found a majority supported the “consensus view,” defined as humans were having at least some effect on global climate change. Oreskes’ work has been repeatedly cited, but as some of its data is now nearly 15 years old, its conclusions are becoming somewhat dated.

Medical researcher Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte recently updated this research. Using the same database and search terms as Oreskes, he examined all papers published from 2004 to February 2007. The results have been submitted to the journal Energy and Environment, of which DailyTech has obtained a pre-publication copy. The figures are surprising.

Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers “implicit” endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no “consensus.”

Um… Let’s ignore the fact that the author of the study cited by Asher is a surgeon who has published plenty of articles on cancer but none on geological science; perhaps his judgment on what separates “implicit” endorsement from “neutrality” really is quite finely honed.

But not knowing whether this article “submitted” to E&P has even gone through one layer of peer review — and thus setting aside the obvious question of whether a survey covering three years of academic publications amounts to an adequate data set — it looks to me as though 93% 94% of the articles in the canvas either (a) endorse certain conclusions about anthropogenic climate change, or (b) make utterly no effort to contest a position that previous research has identified as winning near-universal assent among climate scientists. Now, I know my credibility has been damaged by my recent uninformed assertions about 20th century avant-garde composers, but this pretty much sounds like a “consensus” to me.

. . . Note to self: When bitching about someone’s “innumeracy,” take the time to actually do the math….

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