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« Gross loss | Main | Spiking the Marcott hockey stick »

Comedy climate 

The social science community has launched its latest comedy contribution to the climate debate in the shape of a paper by sociologists Dunlap and Jacques. The article seeks to link authors of sceptic books to conservative think tanks and takes a cursory glance at how many have been peer reviewed, although the authors don't seem to have actually done any actual work on this latter question.

Anyway, needless to say The Hockey Stick Illusion is included, and I am flagged as having no apparent links to conservative think tanks. My publisher, Stacey International, is however noted as being an "overtly conservative" publishing house, which I think might be news to them.

It's interesting to note how Dunlap and Jacques selected their papers:

Our data set consists of the population of English-language books assigned an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) that espouse various forms of climate change denial. These books reject evidence that global warming is occurring, that human actions are the predominant cause of global warming, and/or that global warming will have negative impacts on human and natural systems. hese arguments have been labeled trend, attribution, and impact denial (Rahmstorf, 2004). Books were included only if they take one or more of these positions challenging climate science, all of which are used to reject the necessity of carbon emission reductions.

The Hockey Stick Illusion presumably warrants inclusion under the first criterion since it rejects the hockey stick as being any sort of evidence that global warming has occurred. Of course, as readers here know, I do not dispute that the world got a little warmer at the end of the last century, and indeed I say so in the book, so I think nobody can accuse me of rejecting all evidence that global warming is occurring.

But of course that is not the criterion that the authors use. It seems that their somewhat more relaxed criterion is that if you reject any evidence of global warming you are an advocate of "climate change denial".

Which I think says more about the authors and their religious conviction than it does about me.

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Reader Comments (90)

Social Scientists . . . the New Age Alchemists.

Or would that be Psychologists?

Apr 3, 2013 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred from Canuckistan

Being sociologists one can perhaps forgiven them not understanding that without 'challenging' there is no science. They after all work in a area when BS is the norm and one which depends on the idea that not being able to prove of disprove your claims is perfectly acceptable .

Other than that , another standard attempt to label AGW sceptics has not just wrong but mad or bad and technique used has standard way to defame 'outsiders ' in both politics and religion.

Apr 3, 2013 at 9:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Just daft children - like Marcott et al - pretending they are playing with the grownups.
Thank goodness for Josh. Humour is the way to answer them.

Apr 3, 2013 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

Let's not demean daft children...what the climatologists and supporters are up to is malevolent not misguided.

Apr 3, 2013 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Someone should write a parody paper and try to get it published. It worked for these guys.

Apr 3, 2013 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

"These books reject evidence that... or that global warming will have negative impacts on human and natural systems."

Is there any such book?

Apr 3, 2013 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

Yeah, the usual dreary stuff. I'm really getting familiar with all this now, once you read one you've read them all. What on Earth are they supposed to contributing to the sum of human knowledge? It's all the same whiny Oreskes derived "industry and conservative" conspiracy theorising. They seem to think skepticism is just some clever tactical change brought in after the heyday of blunt Reagan era outright scorn was apparently discredited:

Both industry and the conservative movement learned during the Reagan administration that frontal attacks on environmental regulations could create a backlash among the public (Dunlap, 1987). Consequently, they gradually shifted to another strategy, promoting “environmental skepticism.”

Notice the Dunlap referenced there is also an author of this paper. I reckon he must be a trooper from the good old days of the campaign, hankering for that good old simple Reagan animosity! ;)

Apr 3, 2013 at 9:30 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

I saw this little piece of nonsense earlier in the week. It is akin to Lewandowsky's nonsense save the misrepresentations about the sources of respondents. Dunlap and Jacques have been doing this for some time evidently. This particular piece is vacuous. It says nothing about the perspective of the books, their accuracy or even how many books were sold.

Of course, most of the pro-CAGW books are written by people employed ostensibly by universities or by green activists. Since University academics and green activists are notorious for voting for liberal and progressive policies regardless of the empirical evidence that suggest these policies do not work or exacerbate existing problems, these books should be discounted on those grounds. /s just in case

Apr 3, 2013 at 9:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie

The usual state of scientific malnutrition, richly supplemented by opinion.

Apr 3, 2013 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterManfred

"The conservative movement and especially its think tanks play a critical role in denying
the reality
and significance of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), especially by
manufacturing uncertainty over climate science."

Read just this far, and you know what their conclusions had to be.

Apr 3, 2013 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Maloney

As I have posted several times, if a subject has the word "science" in its title, it's a good bet it is not science.

Apr 3, 2013 at 9:57 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"... takes a cursory glance at how many have been peer reviewed"

Huh? Books are not normally "peer reviewed".

Apr 3, 2013 at 9:59 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I'm gonna make an assumption that Dunlop and Jacques work in the extortion funded sector.

Apr 3, 2013 at 10:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

Spencer Weart opines at AIP site on "The Discovery of Global Warming": more unintended humor.

Apr 3, 2013 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn R T

Martin A, "As I have posted several times, if a subject has the word "science" in its title, it's a good bet it is not science."

Similarly if a country has the word 'democratic' in its name it will be a totalitarian regime.

Sociology: the art of investigating the obvious at other people's expense.

Apr 3, 2013 at 10:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Foster

We do we still let them get away with the idea that 'pal review' is some sort of gold standard?

Apr 3, 2013 at 10:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

These morons are the ones who would have failed their 11 plus miserably but now have no problem getting jobs as pseudo-academics in a whole raft of non-subjects, the dead-end king of these being sociology.

It was the duffers' subject of choice in the 1960s when that was all that was available for the dregs with piss poor A-level resuls in rubbish such as English and geography etc. They were laughable then but it's not funny any more.

Apr 3, 2013 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Archer

I am a trend* denier!

*bandwagoning, troughing or teeting variations.

But do follow the current exit of global temperatures from the bounds of predictions

Apr 3, 2013 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Seen written on a bog roll at university in the early 70s.

"BA Sociology, please tear one off".

Apr 3, 2013 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Shouldn't write off all social science though. The eight symptoms of groupthink are a worthy attempt to systematise a behavioural pattern I've encountered somewhere or other... source Wikipedia!

Type I: Overestimations of the group — its power and morality
Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.

Type II: Closed-mindedness
Rationalizing warnings that might challenge the group's assumptions.
Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, impotent, or stupid.

Type III: Pressures toward uniformity
Self-censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of "disloyalty"
Mind guards— self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.

Apr 3, 2013 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Cruickshank

I'm afraid Dunlap and Jacques are serial offenders here. As in their 2008 paper, they characterise my 2002 book (with Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen) International Environmental Policy: Interests and the Failure of the Kyoto Process as the work of 'Deniers' and then claim that I am associated with the Institute of Public Affairs, which they characterise as 'Conservative Think Tank.'

Let me set out in detail the fallacious nature of their research - leaving aside the slur of 'Denier' which (as readers here are well aware) is an attempt to silence dissent by associating the target with Holocaust denial. (Following Godwin's Law, that marks the the accusation 'Epic Fail', but as I have family members who are Holocaust survivors and descendants of the same, it is a particularly offensive - and cheap - rhetorical device that reeks of desperation).

1. The IPA is mis-characterised as a 'Conservative' think tank. It has a classical liberal orientation (not the debased US meaning of that word).
2. I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the IPA.
3. I have given a couple of lectures sponsored by the IPA and they have published a couple of non-refereed papers. They have never once dictated what I should say, and I have received no money from them other than the expenses to travel to present the two lectures (in Brisbane and Perth).
4. These invited lectures followed publication of my 2007 book Science and Public Policy: The Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Environmental Science, one of the first critical analyses of the Hockey Stick and the corrupting effect of electronic communications on the peer review process and other aspects of science. (I actually anticipated much of the conduct Climategate confirmed). That book therefore better fits their 'denier' category, but they miss it completely! (Perhaps little new research since their 2008 effort?) The book with Sonja (correctly) predicts the failure of Kyoto, but does so on the strength of interests - analysing the science only to show there is sufficient weakness in it (and sufficient ambiguity) for it to be inadequate to overwhelm national interests. NOte: the invitation came AFTER the second book; the association stemmed form the book, not the reverse (a piece of logic that seems to be lost on Dunlap and Jacques).
4. I have only ever been a member of two political parties: The New Zealand Values Party (the first 'green' party) and the Australian Labor Party (of which I served on the Minerals and Energy Policy Committee in Tasmania). I have been 'associated' with numerous other organisations by way of giving lectures, advice, etc. These include: the Australian Academy of Science; the Academy of Social Sciences; the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering; the National Academies Forum; the Australian Greenhouse Office; The Queensland Environment Council; the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia. Are these to be held to be 'associated' with my 'denialist' writings?

In short, as this one example shows, Dunlap and Jacques present absolute tosh as academic research. The surprise is that this drivel would be published by any academic journal, let alone ABS!

In one of the best put-downs I have ever read in a book review, Fred Hirsch once described a book as being typical of the reason economists regard political scientists as political scientists regard sociologists. As a political scientist, I know that to be unfair (but to contain a grain or two of truth). But, while I know of many good sociologists, one cannot help nod in agreement when considering Dunlap and Jacques, What sorry excuses for scholars they are.

Apr 3, 2013 at 10:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterAynsley Kellow

Apologies - my attempt to use italics worked; my attempt to turn them off not!

I should also add an association with the IPCC as a reviewer for AR4. I guess it's worse than even Dunlap and Jacques thought!!!

Apr 3, 2013 at 11:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterAynsley Kellow

Theo Goodwin (Apr 3, 2013 at 9:27 PM):
"Is there any such book?"

I think some of the "Sky Dragon" stuff might qualify under the second criterion (attribution).

Apr 3, 2013 at 11:02 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Aynsley -
If you register here (and log in), then you are granted a short interval in which you are allowed to edit your submitted comment. This feature has allowed me to fix many such slips.

I like the idea that the D&J logic would associate the IPCC with "deniers". But -- like most polemics -- consistency is neither required nor in evidence. In other contexts, this is called "cherry-picking".

Apr 3, 2013 at 11:13 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Bish, typo alert: "there" for "their". [Thanks, done now. BH.]

Apr 3, 2013 at 11:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

In Steve McIntyre's latest Lewandowsky thread, a commenter cited a tweet from (Dr) Leslie Cannold, of Melbourne, promoting the survey for the Moon landing paper. In a subsequent comment, I explained where Cannold was coming from by citing this quote from one of her articles, published in 2010:

"Climate change deniers are largely funded by conservative think-tanks that are, in turn, backed by some of the biggest and wealthiest carbon-emitting corporates on the planet. In one study, 78 per cent of books denying the reality of climate change or the need to act on it were linked to conservative think tanks. Few of these authors had a PhD, even from less-than-relevant scientific disciplines like biology."

No citation is given (tut, tut, Dr Cannold) but it sounds as though she could be referring to the 2008 paper by the same author.

I must say that "78% of books" is a new metric for me. What on earth does it signify? And Dr (for a Doctor she is) Cannold's contempt for those who, unlike her, do not have a PhD who dare to express their views kind of says it all.

Dunlap seems to be a bit of a one trick pony.

Apr 3, 2013 at 11:21 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Any non-corrupted soul can see Dunlap and Jacques as conspiracy theorists. And the conspiracy they point to is big, very big.


Apr 3, 2013 at 11:36 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Dr Cannold claims to be

a qualified ethicist and researcher currently based at the Gender, Leadership and Social Sustainability Research Unit at Monash. Leslie is an ideas person and a wordsmith. Her voice is instantly recognisable, as is her passion and ideas, which are never predictable and always her own.

Cannold also writes:

"Few of these authors had a PhD, even from less-than-relevant scientific disciplines like biology."

Clearly she has an individual take on what constitutes 'relevance', given her chosen research field.

One more thing, applied biology gave us the science of statistics. Incompetence with and rank abuse of statistical techniques is the root cause of the collapse of climate 'science'.

Good luck with those 'ideas' Leslie.

Apr 3, 2013 at 11:52 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

"It appears that at least 90% of denial books do not undergo peer review, allowing authors or editors to recycle scientifically unfounded claims that are then amplified by the conservative movement, media, and political elites. "

Climate Catastrophe books do not undergo peer review at all -- I'd say 100% do not.

Anyone want to write a paper on whether books promoting climate fears undergo peer review? Any do a social connections chart of authors?

Apr 3, 2013 at 11:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterKip Hansen

Dunlap, a Regents Professor of Sociology at Oklahoma State University, has done extensive research on Americans’ ever-evolving attitudes about environmental issues. He has particular interest in climate change and how it is viewed politically. Another social science delusionist

Desperate stuff from Dunlap and Jacques, this is a miserable ideation.

Plus, it has all been said and done before, ergo: nothing to see here.

Conclusion, we have a paper which is a half arsed puerile attempt at proving some linkage of a nebulous association - conjured up by using biased and subjective ideological precepts.

Hmm smells like....... more left wing persecution complexes, of dingbat left leaning conspiracy theory - ay caramba - these 'lasses' are paranoid.

btw Bish' - welcome to the Neocons ;~)

Apr 4, 2013 at 12:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Comedy Climate!

Boy, do they have some good scriptwriters?

Milligan, Bentine, Cyrer, Feldman etc eat your hearts out! I can only imagine what they could produce from such a rich vein of raw material!

Apr 4, 2013 at 12:17 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Sociologists have no expertise on the subject of climate change, and their attempts to inject their puerile social observations only demonstrate 1) the insanity of the public debate, and 2) the fact that all of our institutions have been suborned by the false climate consensus (which has led them to expect their incompetent, irrelevant, and emotionally biased observations should be taken seriously).

Apr 4, 2013 at 12:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

"climate change denial has spread to several other nations"

are these people real ? defund ASAP.

Apr 4, 2013 at 12:54 AM | Unregistered Commenterdougieh


"Cannold also writes:

"Few of these authors had a PhD, even from less-than-relevant scientific disciplines like biology.""

Sounds like Sir Paul Nurse could fit that bill!

Apr 4, 2013 at 12:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

I'm really beginning to feel lonely and unloved - Yes, I am a sceptic when it comes to the doomsday prophecies of the 'Hellfire and Damnation' climate-squad, and I do suspect strongly that Mankind's activities have contributed to the positive temperature anomaly inflicted upon us as we ascended the temperature-ladder from the Little Ice Age to the our current clime of skin-blistering, lip-chapping and hypothermic blanket-tugging.
But, and if I seem to be bleating, forgive me for, by nature, I am a bleater but who the h*ck gets my salary-cheque from those well-orchestrated, anti-science and richly-funded fossilists that supposedly finance my lavish lifestyle?
Unless my bank is slipping these payments into its own private account I have to assume the worst - No Koch4Me!
(disclaimer- possibly missing /sarc tag and no 'double-entendre' intended.

Apr 4, 2013 at 1:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Interesting criteria of denial. I know a book with ISBN that is by houghton with a chapter by Wigley that denies the detection and attribution of global warming. They said that on the evidence science could not say that it is happening. This book is called the IPCC 1st Assessment. Its 2nd assessment final draft said the same. It also had an ISBN. Does that make the IPCC a well-funded think tank formerly denying climate change?

Apr 4, 2013 at 1:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterBernieL


Not to mention the entire string of Government Chief Scientific Advisers - MANY biologists (with specialisations including zoology and ecology), a chemist, a computer designer, a metallurgist and for some unfathomable reason an economist.

Can't see any signs of Gender and Leadership *ideas* types though, can you?

Apr 4, 2013 at 1:11 AM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

"Someone should write a parody paper and try to get it published. It worked for these guys." --Robinson

"Metatwaddle." Perfect.

Apr 4, 2013 at 1:12 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Talking about comedy climate, The BBC Newsnight did a short review on the lights going out. Some of the response was pure comedy.

The energy minister was interviewed. He acknowledged that in the last 8 years the average energy bill went up from just over £500 to somewhat over £1300 and yet maintained that the government forecast was that bills would only increase by £22 over the course of the next 5 years. I don't know what he was on, but if he could only bottle it, or package it in a cigarette, he would make a fortune. What a joke! If this is true reflection of the mental abilities of those who govern us, heaven help us.

Does anyone seriously consider that energy bills will not rise by £22 before the year is out? First the minimum floor price for the carbon tax introduced in April has yet to find its way into bills. Second, each autumn, energy suppliers increase their supply costs. Even if, next autumn, energy suppliers were to increase costs only inline with inflation, it would add at least £30 to the average energy bill.

How can politicians so wilfully misinform and deceive the electorate? The energy minister really ought to be brought to book for this.


Apr 4, 2013 at 1:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

I am reminded when I studied for my first degree in the late 70's, it was commonplace in the students union toilets to gain a toilet paper social science degree by 'please take one' off the roll.

Apr 4, 2013 at 1:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid CH

"Dr Cannold claims to be

a qualified ethicist and researcher currently based at the Gender, Leadership and Social Sustainability Research Unit at Monash."

No doubt there is a desperate need for gender research in the field of Social Sustainability.

Apr 4, 2013 at 1:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

Gender, Leadership and Social Sustainability Research Unit at Monash.

Identifying that this "Unit" is at Monash implies that there might be another one somewhere else. Could that possibly be? By that name? (well with some other locus than Monash)

How is an ethicist qualified? Is there a prescribed course of study? Did she take it?

Social Sustainability? One really doesn't have to work very hard to convert all this to a parody - but then maybe it already is.

And I don't doubt for a second that Dr. Cannold's voice is instantly recognizable. Is that good?

Apr 4, 2013 at 2:29 AM | Registered Commenterjferguson

I am an Uber-Denier and I even accept there is evidence for Global Warming/AGW.

There's also evidence for:


Aliens among us.

Clock Radios.

Ghosts and other spiritual beings.

String Cheese.

Some evidence is just not conclusive. Some is. You have to scrutinize.

That's why we have science - to present all the evidence for and against whatmayhaveyou that's reasonably possible to collect.

Squggly Lines and Speculations.

Not enough.


Apr 4, 2013 at 2:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

I suspect that there was plenty of Gender Research conducted at university when i was there and without the auspices of an official "Unit."

Apr 4, 2013 at 2:46 AM | Registered Commenterjferguson

Bandwagon, coat tails, whatever; everyone wants to jump on the money flush bandwagon.

Perhaps they should've looked to see if people were jumping off instead of on...

Apr 4, 2013 at 3:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

For me at least, there is an upside to all this. At least the authors are not Australian but it does look like the disease is spreading.

jferguson - for Uni .. er.. gender studies I found attending Socialist Forum events worked well. Mouth a few Marxist platitudes and you were "in like Flynn".

Apr 4, 2013 at 3:23 AM | Registered CommenterGrantB

GrantB Mouth a few Marxist platitudes...

Alas, I could never bring myself to do so. Even given the universal pursuit of a university-aged male, this was just too much to ask - so I had to content myself with sorority girls. The upside was that their dads drove much nicer cars, lived in bigger houses, and drank better Scotch - all of which I enjoyed, either by invitation or vicariously!
Ah, the days gone by...

Apr 4, 2013 at 6:21 AM | Unregistered Commenterdcardno

Why bother -
Social Science - that's NOT a science. It's a belief system based on unproven, and often unprovable, sets of opinions, all dressed in the trappings of pseudoscience.

Apr 4, 2013 at 6:49 AM | Unregistered Commentertckev

The social scientists are just desperately seeking traction within the climate debate (perhaps intended to show solidarity with supposedly left-wing brethren) but this is only parasitical: “big bugs have little bugs upon their backs to bite 'em; little bugs have smaller bugs and so on ad infinitum”. However, hopefully we can now expect to be entertained by other papers analysing all the social scientists’ contributions – perhaps from some Royal Statistical Society member pointing out the systematic flaws in their methods (so far as McIntyre hasn’t demolished them all already) and drawing the inevitable conclusion that the words “social” and “scientist” are contradictions in terms.

Apr 4, 2013 at 7:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterTimC

jferguson | Apr 4, 2013 at 2:29 AM

How is an ethicist qualified? Is there a prescribed course of study? Did she take it?

Perhaps Cannold obtained her "qualifications" by participating in the same course of study as Peter Gleick - and quite possibly Lewandowsky along with Dunlap and Jacques - where he obviously learned the overriding principle to the effect of: If there's no evidence to support your cause (or "ethical" case, as the case may be), Just-Make-It-Up-As-You-Go-Along.

Apr 4, 2013 at 7:10 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

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