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Duarté on Verheggen et al.

Jose Duarté has had a comment published on Bart Verheggen's survey of climate scientists. I discussed this at BH last summer.

It's fair to say that Jose is not terribly impressed and his comment makes very amusing reading. Describing the process taken by Verheggen et al to arrive at the list of authors they survey (who very often turn out not to be climate scientists at all), he notes that those remaining after the whittling down process includes a paper entitled:

Urban bicyclists spatial analysis of adult and youth traffic hazard intensity

and another entitled

Attitudes of Scottish city inhabitants to ceteacean conservation.

Jose says that "The paper should be withdrawn and the correct figures reported when available".

Ouch. Read the comment here.


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Reader Comments (35)

Ouch Ouch Ouch and Ouch again!

I do not think I have ever read a more concise, accurate and telling overview of the debacle that "Climatescience" has become.

"Climate Science" - a good contender for the oxymoron of our time.

Jan 15, 2015 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug UK

"Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United State"

Gee, I wonder what their initial premise was.

Jan 15, 2015 at 8:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

Verheggen et al have a response to this. I sent an e-mail to Duarte after reading it. I'm feeling too lazy to retype my thoughts, so I'll just quote myself:

The reply troubles me. It seems quite misleading to say:

we argue that the number of “non-climate scientists” in our survey is known to be small and their in- or exclusion does not change our conclusion that the level of consensus increases with increasing expertise....

Survey respondents were asked for the number of years that a respondent had been professionally involved with climate change issues (Q7a) and for the number of climate-related articles written in the peer-reviewed literature (Q7b).

There is nothing about being "professionally involved with climate change issues" which requires a person be a climate scientist. Every person involved in the IPCC reports is "professionally involved with climate change issues." Lots of them are not climate scientists. Heck, the authors of the response would all qualify as "professionally involved with climate change issues." They're not all climate scientists. Neither are people like Stephan Lewandowksy.

And question 7b doesn't solve this problem either. It does ask about "climate-related articles" instead of "climate change-related articles," but it is the second part of a question who's first part asks about people's involvement with "climate change issues." Respondents would have almost certainly interpreted both as referring to the same thing.

I'm not going to try to address their response to your second argument as I still find it baffling they wouldn't release their data with their paper, even when people asked for it. I can't bring myself to argue about how to analyze data when I'm not allowed to look at the data. Their response to your third point is beyond silly though:

Duarte bases his claim that dissent in climate science is oppressed on a few anecdotes and innuendo.

But you specifically referred to a list of "deniers" made to smear people who don't agree with the consensus. There is nothing anecdotal about that. It is it not innuendo. Heck, one of the authors of the response has a web page titled "Climate Misinformers":

Which provides a list of people, including pictures of them, who say things he claims are misleading (Judith, you're on it). How can he turn around and say:

Duarte’s claim that dissent is oppressed has a conspiratorial tone to it. As such it cannot be disproven, but it can be pointed out that it lacks real-world evidence.

Uh, no. It'd be pretty easy to prove people are not being put on blacklists. All you'd have to do is show readily accessible blacklists, which the authors are fully aware of, don't exist.

Jan 15, 2015 at 8:07 PM | Registered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

Thanks for spotting this. Duarte' comment is devastating. And Brandon has just pointed out the Verheggen reply not only does not address the methodological issue by asserting it doesn't matter when Duarte gives many specific examples showing it does, it contains overt falsehoods. One of Verheggen's co-authors in fact maintains a denier blacklist. Judith Curry is on it. And there is the Scientific American piece about her in 2010 as further evidence that part of Verheggen's response is simply a lie, and Duarte got it right.

Jan 15, 2015 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

Typical climate science fallacy: The accuracy of their work does not matter because the results are so righteous.
Verheggen used to at least pose at being a serious player in this. Now he is just another mensch pushing the climate theology.

Jan 15, 2015 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

lets us not forget Desmog blogs online denier disinformation database: (photos, names, 'deeds'. etc)

Dr Don Keiller is in there, as are very many other scientists, not least the only pHD geologist (and last man, so far) to have set foot on the Moon - Dr Harrison Schmitt - also Freeman Dyson! - Judith Curry -Chris De Freitas - Willim Happer, Lindzen, Michaels, Spencer and dozens more -

Desmog blog's Deniers Disinformation database (with photos and 'key deeds' - is nastier, tags like denier, disinformer, denial industry, and fossil fuel smears..

Jan 15, 2015 at 9:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Sorry for the Wiki, but this is what was said about the Oregon Petition:

"In between Aaagard and Zylkowski, the first and last names on the petition, are an assortment of metallurgists, botanists, agronomists, organic chemists and so on. ... The vast majority of scientists who signed the petition have never studied climatology and don't do any research into it. It doesn't matter if you're a Ph.D. A Ph.D in metallurgy just makes you better at metallurgy. It does not transform you into some kind of expert in paleoclimatology. ... So the petition's suggestion that everyone with a degree in metallurgy or geophysics knows a lot about climate change, or is familiar with all the research that's been done, is patent crap."[26][27]

Apparently, the goal posts have moved again.

Jan 15, 2015 at 9:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterCaligulaJones

The Verheggen et al response is here:'_Views_about_Attribution_of_Global_Warming

I didn't think much of their rebuttal either compared to the listing by Jose of a few of the more egregious titles.

Jan 15, 2015 at 9:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie1815

Barack Obama has a blackish of climate denier politicians!!

Jan 15, 2015 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Astrologers can provide evidence from each other, and happy paying clients, to prove the value of their work.

Climate astrologers can provide evidence from each other, to prove the value of their work.

I am missing something obviously, but I just can't work it out.

Jan 15, 2015 at 10:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

I saw Cook, J. as an author and stopped there ... how can Verheggen et al be taken seriously with the knowledge of this bias and deceit.

Jan 15, 2015 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred


Those moving goalposts cause collateral damage, notably one Michael Mann, who has never studied 'climatology' - his CV reads:

A.B. applied mathematics and physics (1989), MS physics (1991), MPhil physics (1991), MPhil geology (1993), PhD geology & geophysics (1998)

In the UK somebody who fails his PhD TWICE wouldn't be tolerated in many academic institutions (many here read MPhil as MFail), but clearly his daddy has deep pockets.

Meanwhile Mann's former friend Phil Jones is actually a hydrologist.

Gavin Schmidt is a mathematician.

James Hansen is an astronomer and physicist by training.

John Cook also has no climatology training whatsoever. Pachauri is a railway engineer. yet another dumb climatology own goal.

Jan 15, 2015 at 11:19 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

"Their votes are not quanta of consensus, but simply artifacts of career choices and the changing political climate"

I think Duarté nailed it there.

cAGW-CliSci appears to desire the whole world for its belly. Proponents denigrate critics from other disciplines, yet the likes of J.Cook et al are getting their tripe published by the American Chemical Society. I can see he's not embarrassed about it, but I sure am.

Jan 16, 2015 at 1:26 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Well he doesn't beat around the bush does he.

Jan 16, 2015 at 3:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterWill Nitschke

@SNTF You are wrong to dismiss John Cook's qualifications : "He completed a First Class Honours degree in Physics at the University of Queensland and is currently completing a PhD in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Western Australia." His chums got him made a Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland.
- However that doesn't mean he has got anything right in his entire life. And the evidence would suggest otherwise.

Jan 16, 2015 at 4:48 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

"Look guys just stop freaking following me're cramping my style .. You're infantile and ugly, I've never really liked you .. It was just that one time in Copenhagen .. I've had enough now, just go away back to your treehut"
...that's what a 'proper scientist' might be saying to these dramagreen hangers-on.
- And they should be cos instead of these hangers-on gaining themselves credibility by hanging out with proper science, they are actually dragging the name of proper science down into the mud.

Jan 16, 2015 at 5:58 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Attitudes of Scottish city inhabitants to ceteacean conservation.

This is fascinating! I bet we are all ago after reading that title to know if attitudes to ceteacean conservation are different in rural areas of Scotland. What about attitudes in cities as opposed to rural areas in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands? Should Cornwall be analysed separately from England?

I see a whole new field of climate science opening up before me. Have grant awarding agencies got sufficient funds or do they need more resources?

Jan 16, 2015 at 8:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Say No To Fearmongers

... and all the examples you quote are before we start on UK government "scientific advisors" and departmental Chief Scientists, and people like Nurse and the heads of the various professional bodies that have come out in support of the consensus.
Then there are the politicians and the activists like Tickell ...
... and on and on.
The Wikipedia entry isn't exactly couched in what you might term "measured" language either, is it? I thought dictionaries were supposed to be objective. Stoat must have got his hands on it, I suppose.

Jan 16, 2015 at 9:18 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

One interest side question to this whole thing is , what actual is a 'climate scientists' , oddly there is no agreed definition of this and we seen people from economics, to railway engineers to those who are failed politicians all claimed to be 'climate scientists' While given the vast amount of cash being thrown at the area , we seen people from many subjects sticking their noises in the trough, and never mind the stink , and become ' 'climate scientists'

Which partly explains why we no idea at al how many 'climate scientists' there actual are , always worth remember when you see the '97%' off claim , becasue you simply cannot have a valid '%' off claim when you do know the numbers actually involved .

Jan 16, 2015 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

I gotta wonder who on earth thought that it was a good use of their time (and presumably our money) to investigate the

'Attitudes of Scottish city inhabitants to ceteacean conservation.'

Who actually goves a toss?

Maybe there is some truth in the old proverb

'The devil makes work for idle hands to do'.

Or maybe the local McDonalds had a sign

'No Vacancies. And certainly not for failed wannabe academics and timewasters'

Jan 16, 2015 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

I once asked Bart Verheggen how his logic survived graduate school. Old, forgotten far off times, and blogs long ago.

Jan 16, 2015 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Survey respondents were asked for the number of years that a respondent had been professionally involved with climate change issues (Q7a) and for the number of climate-related articles written in the peer-reviewed literature (Q7b). Researchers from a nonclimate related field, who were admitted to our survey because they wrote an article with the keyword “global climate change” or “global warming”, would have answered zero to one or both questions, assuming they answered truthfully.

Brandon quoted some of this section from the response above - but missed the part I emboldened.

I find that part laughable - not because of the assumption that they might be lying if they answered non-zero to either question, but because the question is so loose that of course non-climate researchers could quite honestly have given non-0 answers.

Jan 16, 2015 at 11:12 AM | Registered Commentersteve ta

Latimer Alder, I've not read the paper but 'Attitudes of Scottish city inhabitants to cetacean conservation.' sounds a lot like 'Attitudes of Urban Scots towards Greenpeace.'

Save the Whales used to be their slogan.

If I was a marketer, political campaigner or charity fund-raiser looking to work in Scotland then that knowledge would be of use to me. Not all research is worthless just because it sounds Green.

Jan 16, 2015 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterMCourtney

I am pretty certain that my meagre publication record (in history) allows me to answer yes to Q7a (because I have to consider the historical climate whenever I try to understand the agrarian economy) and possibly yes to Q7b, as that consideration underlies (but is not referred to) in all my published work.

Indeed, I find it difficult to conceive of any non-scientific, non-literary based academic field that almost all those working in it would not be quite legitimately able to answer yes in the same way - because if you are studying society or psychology in a valid environment or history then the climate and environment are key considerations. Perhaps logicians are exempt?

So, as Jose points out there is a selection bias here. I (because of my own biases, as I admit) deliberately avoid reference to politically fashionable concepts such as climate change in my work, so I am not picked up. Colleagues who I have edited sometimes go out of their way to put these references in their work (to the point I have had to ask them to remove it because it doesn't fit the argument). Those I know personally who do this (and who are generally lovely people) tend to believe in the consensus on this, despite the fact that they are quite prepared to challenge consensuses in history. So the selection methodology would generally pick up my colleagues, who for their own reasons, normally political, find it convenient to believe a consensus in another subject than their own, and exclude me, who actually is interested in this subject...

Jan 16, 2015 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterWatchman

Tom Fulller this past week has reviewed "studies" which purport to review the opinions of climate scientists and skeptics. It is worse than most people thought.

"This week has been an education–reviewing the work of Naomi Oreskes,Anderegg, Prall et al, John Cook et al and Stephan Lewandowsky.

"Short version–some people who were (mostly) not scientists and certainly don’t know how to do research properly conducted a series of studies that had foregone conclusions supporting their position on climate policy. For Prall, Cook and Lewandowsky the foregone nature of the conclusions was explicit–they wrote on various websites that they were conducting the studies with a predetermined end. For Oreskes it was implicit, but easy to see, as she structured her research carefully, not to show the breadth of opinion on climate change, but rather to conceal it."

Jan 16, 2015 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon B


"Cognitive Psychology" sounds like tautology to me. Is Cook following in Uncle Lew's footsteps..?

Jan 16, 2015 at 1:27 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

The Phd Bart Verheggen is, if I remember well, a great expert in non stationary Time Series Analysis or something ??
That, and scrubbing blog posts(like all progressives).

Jan 16, 2015 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMars Shmallow


"A.B. applied mathematics and physics (1989), MS physics (1991), MPhil physics (1991), MPhil geology (1993), PhD geology & geophysics (1998)"

Sorry, which of these makes him an expert in counting tree rings again?

Jan 16, 2015 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterCaligulaJones

"Attitudes of Scottish city inhabitants to ceteacean conservation"

I'd like to hear Rab C Nesbitt's considered opinion on the subject!

Jan 16, 2015 at 4:09 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

"Attitudes of Scottish city inhabitants to ceteacean conservation"

Well, this could very well test the limits of the "no true Scotsman" argument.

Jan 16, 2015 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterCaligulaJones

CJ, applied maths, obviously. Duh!

Jan 16, 2015 at 6:24 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

Barry Woods (Jan 15, 2015 at 9:18 PM): out of interest, I followed your link, and had a look “About Desmog” and “What We Do”:

DeSmogBlog exists to clear the PR pollution that is clouding the science on limate change.
An admirable sentiment, and one to that ALL such sites should cleave to. However, reading on:
An overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists agree that the globe is warming - the world's climate is changing…
[My bold] Cannot argue with that – who could? Then you get hit with this:
… and that the indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels is to blame.
WOW! What an incredible claim! A claim that has not a single shred of evidence to support it! A claim made even more outrageous by the previous part of that sentence: “An overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists agree that the globe is warming…” I wonder how many of this overwhelming number of scientists know that they are being linked to such propaganda?

To continue:

We know that the risks are incalculable and, increasingly, we understand that the solutions are affordable.
Well, now, the risks are still unknown, hence are incalculable, but the implications given here are that they are going to be BAD; and, almost all of the “solutions” being applied at present are far from affordable.

It gets worse:

Unfortunately, a well-funded and highly organized public relations campaign is poisoning the climate change debate. Using tricks and stunts that unsavory [sic] PR firms invented for the tobacco lobby…
I am sure they must mean the ANTI-tobacco lobby, here…
… energy-industry contrarians are trying to confuse the public, to forestall individual and political actions that might cut into exorbitant coal, oil and gas industry profits.
… hmmm, maybe not.
DeSmogBlog is here to cry foul - to shine the light on techniques and tactics that reflect badly on the PR industry and are, ultimately, bad for the planet.
For an organisation that probably purports to be dispassionate, unbiased, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah… they are quite blatantly not. That they are displaying this bias, for all to view, has to force one to admit that they are at least honest; having eventually admitted that they are lying, how can they be accused of lying?

(I do hope I have not wandered too far off-topic to invoke the Bish’s wrath.)

Jan 16, 2015 at 10:52 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

as the late John McCarthy used to say on sci.environment, Do the arithmetic or be doomed to talk nonsense. The reply from Bart and Co shows that Duarte did not do the arithmetic.

Jan 16, 2015 at 11:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

Joe Duarte here. Just to be clear, the "whittling down" process was entirely mine. The authors did no whittling.

My first whittling down step was to simply uncheck the Social Science and Arts & Humanities boxes on the Web of Science search...

Jan 19, 2015 at 1:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Duarte

On Mr. Rabett's comment, I'm guessing he refers to this part of Verheggen et al.'s reply:

"The size of this group of “non-climate scientists” in our survey is 81 (∼4% of the respondents). If they were excluded from our survey, the level of concensus based on Q1 of our total group of respondents who expressed an opinion–that is, excluding the undetermined responses–would remain the same: 84%."

As far as I can tell, this claim is wildy false. The "Other Expertise" category comprised about 17% of their respondents, or about 317 (they don't give the figure -- we can only eyeball the graph.) You can see this in Figure S1 (fourth column set) of their first Supplemental doc here:

Notably, they have another "Other" category on the same graph (last column). It might be 4%. It's unclear why there are two Other categories, or why they cited the small one instead of the large one, or instead of summing them (there will be some overlap in categories, as some researchers might have been tagged as more than one area of expertise.)

And, it's important to know that we could never assume direct climate science expertise even in their WG1 category, since it includes "Land Use Change" which I suspect captures some planning people, perhaps the traffic experts. And "Emissions" which might include automotive engineers or the platinum-pushing experts I quoted in my Comment (platinum-group metals are used in catalytic converters.)

As you may infer from the above, we don't actually know who is in what group or what their expertise is. That is the fundamental problem here -- we don't know the results of this study with respect to relevant climate scientists. The authors are using labels like WG1, WG2, etc. somewhat dangerously, as in some cases it refers to people who actually served on those working groups at IPCC, but most of the time it refers to labels the authors themselves applied to over a thousand researchers who did not serve on those working groups. We don't know much beyond that. If John Cook had anything to do with such classifications, that would be a huge red flag, and reckless of them to allow. But we don't know much about it.

The authors' bizarre reply where they argue that people who were included in the survey precisely because of their climate-related work would deny having done such work (their questions 7a and b) -- and would thus be excluded from the results -- gives me the feeling we're dealing with people who have little respect for truth or the intelligence of the reader. As one of many, many examples, I think the sociologists who wrote the following paper would think it was climate-related: "Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States" (McCright & Dunlap, 2011)

Jan 19, 2015 at 4:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Duarte

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