Oreskes responds to Schulte

Many readers will no doubt know the 2004 paper in Science by historian of science Naomi Oreskes, a paper which discussed the consensus position regarding anthropogenic climate change. Predictably, the paper received much vitriol from the climate contrarians and denialists. Now, a medical research (Klaus-Martin Schulte, who appears to be a consultant in endocrine surgery) has claimed that Oreskes’ paper is not only outdated but also wrong. This claim has been extensively crowed over not only by Inhofe’s EPW Press Blog but by other Right wing sites and, indeed, our own beloved Uncommon Descent.

Naomi kindly shared with me her response to Schulte’s work and below the fold I provide her reply in full.

Updated: Link to full text of Oreskes (2007) added.

Naomi Oreskes, University of California, San Diego

REVISED POSTING, September 24, 2007


1) It is said that the Schulte piece is being published in Energy and Environment, a known contrarian journal. The discussion of it was posted on the minority blog of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, whose leader thinks that global warming is a "hoax," and circulated on the internet by Marc Morano, a long-standing contrarian and former reporter and producer for the Rush Limbaugh Show, who was involved in the "swift boat" campaign against John Kerry.

2) The blog reports of the Schulte piece misrepresent the research question that we originally posed. It was, "How many papers published in referred journals disagree with the statement, "...most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations"? This statement came from the IPCC (2001) and was reiterated explicitly by the 2001 NAS report, so we wanted to know how many papers diverged from that consensus position. The answer was none. The Schulte claim does not refutes that.

3) The blog reports of the piece misrepresent the results we obtained. In the original AAAS talk on which the paper was based, and in various interviews and conversations after, I repeated pointed out that very few papers analyzed said anything explicit at all about the consensus position. This was actually a very important result, for the following reason. Biologists today never write papers in which they explicitly say "we endorse evolution". Earth scientists never say "we explicitly endorse plate tectonics." This is because these things are now taken for granted. So when we read these papers and observed this pattern, we took this to be very significant. We realized that the basic issue was settled, and we observed that scientists had moved on to discussing details of the problem, mostly tempo and mode issues: how fast, how soon, in what manner, with what impacts, etc. (See Oreskes, 2007 for further discussion).

4) The blog reports of the Schulte piece misrepresent my own interpretation of the severity climate question, as well as that of the scientific societies whose positions we compiled. This is a typical contrarian tactic - to exaggerate or misrepresent the scientific claim and then "refute" it. My analysis was a summary of the position of scientific experts. I never said, nor have any of the major scientific societies said, that the scientific literature warns of an imminent "catastrophe." An analysis of how severe scientists think warming is or will be would have been a different paper. So you cannot "refute" my analysis by pointing out that the word "catastrophe" doesn’t appear. I never said that it did. Nor would I expect it to. Scientists don’t generally use that kind of language, although contrarians do.

5) The EPW press release accuses my paper of being "outdated." It is in fact a crucial element of the paper that the study that it goes back to 1993. We wanted to see how the arguments had developed over time, and to test, if we could, when the consensus position emerged. A crucial result for me was the realization that the basic consensus had already been established in the early 1990s. However, in hindsight this should actually have been obvious: it’s why President George H.W. Bush signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The basic scientific insight was already in place.

6) The blog reports describe Mr. Schulte as a medical researcher. As a historian of science I am trained to analyze and understand scientific arguments, their development, their progress, etc., and my specific expertise is in the history of earth science. This past summer I was invited to teach a graduate intensive course at Vienna International Summer University, Vienna Circle Institute, on Consensus in Science. I do not know why a medical researcher would feel qualified to undertake an analysis of consensus in the earth scientific literature.

7) Contrarians have been trying to refute my work for three years. A previous claim, also circulated and cited by Marc Morano, was subsequently retracted by its author.

I refer interested individuals back to the original paper (Oreskes, 2004) and to a more extended version of the argument (Oreskes, 2007).

Oreskes, Naomi, 2004."The scientific consensus on climate change," Science 306: 1686. [link]

Oreskes, Naomi, 2007, "The scientific consensus on climate change: How do we know we’re not wrong?" Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren, edited by Joseph F. C. DiMento and Pamela Doughman, MIT Press, pp. 65-99. [Download file]

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I do not know why a medical researcher would feel qualified to undertake an analysis of consensus in the earth scientific literature.

Ugh. I wish she'd skipped the credentialist bullshit. That kind of ad-hom is best left to people with no actual coherent argument to make.

If a medical researcher had done a good job on the analysis, it would be a good analysis; and if a highly-trained historian of science who has been Invited To Teach In Vienna had done a bad job, it would be a bad analysis.

It is ad-hom, but it's still /valid/. Someone with no credentials may do a hell of a lot better job at analyzing a particular field than someone with the relevant credentials - but that's going to be an exception, not the rule. Generally, the hoops we jump through to -get- those credentials are precisely what make us -capable- of doing a good job.

A sufficiently practiced layman can repair an abdominal hernia better than a non-hernia-specialized surgeon, I'd wager. As a general rule, though, if a medical doctor said "It's a bad idea to get a hernia operation from a non-surgeon," you'd probably not call that "credentialist bullshit."

By James Stein (not verified) on 31 Aug 2007 #permalink

Actually, Bill, this is not an ad hominem attack. A person's credentials ARE significant where they have relevance to the subject at hand. The point Oreskes makes about being a science historian vs. a medical researcher IS valid. I do not ask my plumber about my leaky roof, or a leaky heart valve. Expertise in a field is important.

I would agree credentials are important...there seems to be a growing disdain for scientific expertise when it comes to climate science. Everybody and their brother is all-of-the-sudden an expert in climatology.

But, credentials certainly shouldn't trump everything...note that Oreskes puts that point down low on her list, after she laid out what was wrong with Schulte's analysis.

If somebody is touting their credentials and nothing else as THE reason to accept their analysis, then I would be suspect.

Point 2 and 3 sound fishy to me. Who doesn't want to be part of the popular crowd afterall? People are well known to supress objections from popular opinion when unity of the group or their individual societal status is at stake, a phenomenon known as groupthink.

While we can assume consensus for things like gravity or electrostatics, we CANNOT do the same for evolution and global climate change, because these have much weaker pillars of proof, especially evolution which is unobservable experimentally. (I'm not talking about anti-boitic resistance, I mean the real stuff like morphology)

WinglesS - you may not be that familiar with academia. Beyond the people who want to not disagree with the popular opinion, there are also plenty of people whose entire career strategy is to be contrarian and disagree with the popular opinion. People know that's how you make a name for yourself, though they also know that it's risky. Therefore, when people make outrageous claims, they at least tend to aim for outrageous claims they can support with some sort of evidence or argumentation. It turns out that anthropogenesis of climate change isn't one of those, apparently.

Ugh. I wish she'd skipped the credentialist bullshit. That kind of ad-hom is best left to people with no actual coherent argument to make.

I second that complaint. It was gratuitous and better left out.

I am a little unhappy about the "framing" of climate change issues.

For instance, if a view is "contrarian", then it is "against the majority persuasion". http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/contrarian

Naomi Orestes' used the search term "climate change" on the ISI data base for the period 1993-2003 and found that 75% of papers implicitly or explicitly endorsed the IPCC consensus view that "Most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations".
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686 )

Klaus-Martin Schulte is reported to have used the same search terms and same ISI data base for the period 2004-2007 and reportedly found that, in that period, 45% of publications implicitly or explicitly endorsed climate change. The rest were neutral or affirmative. http://www.uncommondescent.com/global-warming/fewer-than-half-of-climat…

So, if this research is accurate, then climate change affirmers are now the contrarians.

I add my vote to those who deplore the ad hominem and credentialist attacks. Let's wait for the publication, then blow that apart.

Orac - the point might have been gratuitous, but it was fair. As James pointed out, Schulte is way out of his field (and his depth) on this one. On the other hand, practically every poster on Scienceblogs would have made the point for her anyway...

Since when is talking about credentials ad hom?

plumber: Hi, I'll be performing your heart surgery today.
patient: Great. What are your credentials?
plumber: That is an ad hominem argument.

This is part of the problem with climate change, anyway. Every damn person things he or she is an expert or it doesn't matter that they haven't studied atmospheric physics or science at all.

That said, she shouldn't have mentioned his credentials because people will assume it's ad hom. That, and it's not the lack of credentials, but the fact that Schulte is a denialist willing to twist the facts to support his absurd argument.

I second that complaint. It was gratuitous and better left out.


Ad Hominem: your argument is false because you are an idiot.

NOT ad hom: your argument is false because of A, B, C, D, E, F, G and, oh by the way, you are an idiot.

Hope this helps.



I just want to thank you for giving me the link to Uncommon Descent. I haven't had a belly laugh that hard in a very long time.

I *think* this story first surfaced in a piece by Lord Monckton, dated July 19 (well before the flood elsewhere ~Aug 30): i.e.:


Has anyone actually *seen* the Schulte paper? (Presumably, Lord Monckton). Is Monckton doing peer review for E&E? When I've done peer review, normally I haven't published descriptions of papers under review. Is this an even stranger new review process on the part of E&E?

I've looked or an on-line preprint copy of the paper, but haven't found any. Schulte appears to be a legitimate NHS endocrinologist with a reasonable publication record.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 01 Sep 2007 #permalink

Murkanen: yeah, well Newton is reported as having wacky religious beliefs. That did not detract from his math & physics genius.

D: wikipedia recognizes "ad hom" as "ad hominem" which is
"replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim."

By my understanding of that definition, questioning credentials would be an "ad hom" attack.

"By my understanding of that definition, questioning credentials would be an "ad hom" attack."

But, as some of us have pointed out a few times, even if one does classify the credential comment by Oreskes as "ad hom", it is not the main point of her reply. Yes, if all she replied with was the credential bit, then I would agree. But she did address the substance, and, at least in this case, that trumps the credentials comment regardless of whether or not it's ad hom.


I am a Mechanical Engineer, thus familiar with thermodynamics and fluid mechanics, which are useful precursors for climate study. I have no recent connection with climate studies. However, for what it is worth I would have agreed with the IPCC statement "..most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations", which I more literally interpret as "there is a 50% probability that 90% of any attributed global warming observed in the last 50 years was due to increase of GHG."

I do not assert that climate change is produced by human effort, or that warming would have a negative or positive effect on our environment, merely that human effort may be one of the driving factors that might be producing any observed change.

Truth be told, I am more concerned about the negative effect that incidental environmental pollution (radioactives, pesticides etc) might be having on Gaia.

With all respect I do not believe that Naomi was attempting to refute the substance of Schulte's research, merely correcting (refuting if you like) certain points (specifically 2, 3, 4 & 5) where she believed he had misrepresented or misunderstood or not accurately appreciated her results.

On the other hand, Tim Lambert at http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/08/classifying_abstracts_on_globa… is attempting to refute the substance of Schulte's paper by the simple expedient of repeating Schulte's (and Oreste's original) query of the 2004-2007 ISI database.

"...Naomi was ...merely correcting certain points where she believed [Schulte] had misrepresented or misunderstood...her results"

Agreed. Since Schulte's whole analysis is based on the claim that Oreskes analysis was erroneous, then her corrections regarding his misrepresentations of her original study are very much substance.

I'm just curious what your point is regarding my comment (since you directed your last comment directly to me). I'm not being combative, just wondering.

And, I agree that Lambert's effort to look at the database of papers some more is a fruitful exercise for everyone.

BrianR: For your curiosity: You said "But she did address the substance..."

Naomi point 2 quotes IPCC 2001.

I have not yet seen a copy of Schulte's paper, and as previously stated, have relied on the uncommondescent blog http://www.uncommondescent.com/global-warming/fewer-than-half-of-climat…
for what information I have.

Based on that information, I believed that Schulte was not claiming that Orestes original analysis, that 75% of papers explicitly or implicitly endorsed IPCC 2001 for the period 1993-2003 was wrong.

I believe that the substance of Schulte's claim was that for the later period 2004-2007, he found that only 45% of authors now explicitly or implicitly endorsed the IPCC 2001 position.

I do not see anything in NO's response that attacks that substance.

Any other substantial assertions by Schulte are not known to me.

We might have reason to believe the conclusions of someone with no related creditials had this been published in a respectable journal, with proper peer review. But it wasn't. There is no reason to believe that 25% of abstracts say this, or 25% say that, just because someone with no credentials writing in a journal with no credentials says so. There has to be some reassurance that the judgment of the author (which is how these abstracts are classified) can be trusted, and we have none.

Actually, the history of this is very weird:

July 19: Lord Monckton (you need to check: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Monckton,_3rd_Viscount_Monckto…) posts:
It says a lot obout Schulte's paper, so presumably Lord Monckton has seen it. If this is Peer Review (well, Monckton is a Peer of the Realm :-), it is a strange form, in that reviewers do not normally broadcast the contents of papers before publication. Schulte appears to be an NHS endocrinoligist/surgeon at Kings College Hospital, with a reasonable publication record in his field, and no previous web-visible record I could find in having anything to do with climate change. I can find no evidence of preprints, although I suppose Schulte could have given Monckton one. Anyway, this is all quite strange...

But apparently, nobody seems to notice or care... then:

August 20: At Senator Inhofe's website, Marc Morano (Google him) ) posts a brief description of article, item 6):
It points at Lord Monckton's paper above.

August 29 AM: Michael Asher writes:

August 29 PM: Then, later that afternoon: Matthew Dempsey (another Inhofe guy) points at Asher's article:

"Michael Asher provides more details about this new survey",
but as far as I can tell, no new information was provided by Asher that wasn't in the original Monckton paper referenced by Morano.

Also, Morano apparently sends email to lots of people, at least, as reported over at Deltoid, http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/08/classifying_abstracts_on_globa…

August 30-on: references explode across the blogosphere.

So, Lord Monckton writes about a paper that is not public, everybody say it will be published (how do they know?), and the "absolute disproof" is broadcast around the Web. Dempsey points at DailyTech articles as though it's independent investigation, which I guess, it could be, although the date sequence seems unlikely, unless Asher watches Monckton's site closely. It certainly appears that most (not all) blogs pick it up from DailyTech, not directly from Monckton (whose views are of course well-known).

All of this = "Aha! I have a secret paper that says Nnaomi's wrong!", so I think Naomi was actually quite temperate in her remarks. usually, these great disproval papers actually get published first ...

Curiouser & curiouser, and somewhat reminiscent of ponderthemaunder in its explosive acceptance of something very unlikely.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 01 Sep 2007 #permalink

bar says: "I believe that the substance of Schulte's claim was that for the later period 2004-2007, he found that only 45% of authors now explicitly or implicitly endorsed the IPCC 2001 position."

Yes...true, Schulte's analysis looked at the years beyond Oreskes original 2004 paper, but the press release states that Schulte used the same database and search terms. His whole analysis is billed as an 'update' to Oreskes report, and its giving the impression that the consensus view has been eroded since 2003. Wrong. What's different between Oreskes and Schulte's analyses are their criteria for defining 'endorsement' of IPCC's conclusions. Like you point out, we can't see the paper yet, so it'll be interesting to see how (if) he defines this.

But, this kind of press release (of a preprint only certain groups received?) is meant to cause a buzz in the blogosphere. The actual study means little...it did its job. The "results" have been released, are being circulated, and now filling the echo chamber.

Oreskes has made the cardinal error of criticizing Mr. Schulte for "misrepresentation" and for being "foolish" before she has read what he has written. His paper is not yet publicly available: however, it is known that he did not challenge Oreskes' research, but merely updated it to cover all scientific papers on "global climate change" in the period from 2004 to February 2007. Her "head-count" review of the literature had run from 1993 to 2003 inclusive. If the media reports are correct, Schulte has (unlike Oreskes) actually quoted several papers which demonstrate his conclusion that the supposed "consensus" is no longer unanimous. It would be wisest not to follow Oreskes in attacking him until we have seen what he actually says. Oreskes is likely to find herself in trouble with her University if Mr. Schulte decides to complain, because just about the only thing you can be instantly dismissed from a University for these days is making a false accusation of "misrepresentation" against another academic when you have not in fact read what that academic had written. Expect fireworks on this one.

Oreskes never argued that the the consensus was unanimous as it clearly is not. There was no skeptical paper in the sample of 928 abstracts (~10% of the total on the subject), which does not mean that none exist anywhere. It did find that skeptical papers are statistically indistinguishable from zero.

re: #22 chris

Your knowledge of the University of California seems minimal at best, and wish-fulfillment fantasy at worst. Maybe you can point at the written policies of some university, somewhere in the world, that says this?

But, this is California. *No UC faculty* would be in trouble for that, much less energetic, well-published, multiple-award-winning, young Full Professors like Naomi, i.e., exactly the sort that universities compete hard for.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 02 Sep 2007 #permalink

I'm still struggling to understand how 45% implicit and explicit endorsement, 6% rejection, and the remainder neutral, can in any way be interpreted as a weakening of consensus. If you don't agree with the consensus, you have to reject it more or less explicitly. If you agree with it and it's well established, you don't even have to mention it. That's the nature of consensus.

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 02 Sep 2007 #permalink

Would all the "credentialist" whiners please hand over their medical insurance to someone else who believes in the value of training and education? You guys can go to the witch doctors.

If that were the sum total of Oreskes' argument, you'd have a valid point, since it would indicate she had nothing else to object to, which would be "lame," I think is the technical term. The strength of that point lies precisely in the fact that it's not presented in isolation, nor should it be considered in isolation.

The opposition to global warming is incredibly well-funded, and if they couldn't come up with someone better qualified than a medical researcher to do their dirty work for them, that means something.

As a matter of fact, some of Schulte's work has been leaked out, and his methodology emulated to test his reported results. Things do not look good for him, as Tim Lambert reports in "Classifying abstracts on global climate change", and as is further borne out by the examination of abstracts being carried out by commentators there as well.

But even before I found Lambert's piece, I found this trumped-up farrago, '"Consensus"? What "Consensus"? Among Climate Scientists, the Debate Is Not Over' [PDF] by The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley (credentialist much?), which contains some touted excerpts from the supposedly dissenting abstracts, as identified by Schulte. This one, in particular leaped out at me:

Leiserowitz (2005) reports -

"results from a national study (2003) that examined the risk perceptions and connotative meanings of global warming in the American mind and found that Americans perceived climate change as a moderate risk that will predominantly impact geographically and temporally distant people and places. This research also identified several distinct interpretive communities, including naysayers and alarmists, with widely divergent perceptions of climate change risks. Thus, 'dangerous' climate change is a concept contested not only among scientists and policymakers, but among the American public as well."

This is clearly talking about attitudes, not scientific data, models or even methodology. Anyone who would take this to be the least bit relevant to disproving a concensus is clearly incompetent as an analyst--that means Schulte. And it wasn't just a careless citation of the wrong part of the abstract on the Viscount's part, since you can find the paper in its entirety here [PDF] and see for yourself.

The E&E people are liars top down and always have been. They give the right-wing, corporatist positions they're ordered to give by their committees. Period. Their work is crap, and their conclusions are lies.

Let's quit pretending these ARE academics we're dealing with! That certainly includes the fraud Schulte - that it took 3 years to find another Morano goes without saying, but most of all the genuinely despicable Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen. Even her claim that her "purpose is giving those without a platform a platform" (and what can that mean but one with fake credentials as a science journal - the platforms on the net are Legion) is an absolute lie. How many people who think environmental catastrophe is imminent and the leading causes are her sponsors will she give a platform to? If you cannot even be honest about WHOM you publish, it's clear-cut that WHAT you publish is dishonest. Outside of the consensus are green anarchists, the people who made "The Day After Tomorrow," and any number of deep ecologists. You could find plenty of people too extreme for the IPCC consensus - when will one of them be published in E&E? Sonja's not "very suspicious" of her @#@$ check.

If the whole corrupt gang relabeled themselves "Swiftboat Scientists for eternal rightist hegemony" then I would finally grant them a tiny measure of honesty. They're a propaganda mill like Heritage, Cato, AEI, Mellon-Scaife, the Ayn Rand institute, etc.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 03 Sep 2007 #permalink

and chris:

Fireworks, your lying asses. No, I expect FUD, lies, and fake controversy on this one. And I expect shills such as you to provide it. Thanks for the "warning," concern troll. In what possible sense is Schulte an academic on this one? He can't get this rehash of Morano published in any - any - real publication. Or did you think we missed that one, shill?

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 03 Sep 2007 #permalink

re: #22 Chris

I posted something earlier, but it seems to have been lsot or hung up somewhere, so I'll try again.

Your post is either total unfamiliarity with universities in general and the University of California in particular, or else simply wishful fantasy unconnected with the real world. Perhaps you can find some university somewhere in the world with such a policy.

But this is California. A dismissal for this comment? How about "praise for defending science against foolishness." I doubt that any faculty member would get in any trouble for this, much less an energetic, awesomely-well-published, multiple-award-winning, interdisciplinary, young-for-a-full-Professor faculty member like Naomi, i.e., exactly the sort that good universities compete for.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 03 Sep 2007 #permalink

Two Questions for moderator Lynch. Do you know:

1) I think this server is in Texas (or in general, CDT timezone). Is that right?

2) I assume the that the time-and-date shown on each post give the local arrival time of that post to the server, regardless of when it gets through the moderate queue. Is that right?

By John Mashey (not verified) on 03 Sep 2007 #permalink

I agree that #2 was unnecessary and unwarranted. The examples of doctors and plumbers dont' hold, because these are certified trades. You need someone who has been through an approved medical course and passed to perform surgery.
Science is altogether different. it's supposed to be transparent. If someone doesn't know what they are talking about, the best thing to do is show them up. Don't just assert mastery (or lack of it), demonstrate it by winning the argument.

@ John Mashey

1) I think this server is in Texas (or in general, CDT timezone). Is that right?

I don't know where the server actually is, but all the Sciencebloggers are mandated to post on EST

2) I assume the that the time-and-date shown on each post give the local arrival time of that post to the server, regardless of when it gets through the moderate queue. Is that right?

Yes. As I said, I was out of town for three days, blissfully avoiding the Intertubes.

By John Lynch (not verified) on 04 Sep 2007 #permalink

re: #34, thanks ...
Running a *good* blog is like farming:
a) It's a lot of work.
b) Weeds are always trying to sprout amidst the vegetables.
c) If you go away, when you return, more work has piled up.

re: #24 if the paper is not yet publicly available:

How&why did Lord Monckton publish many of its details?
a) Did Lord Monckton get the paper from Dr. Schulte, or via E&E, or some other route?

b) Did Monckton & Schulte communicate before Monckton published it? [According the Guardian, Lord Monckton suffers from a rare endocrine problem that has required a series of operations, an interesting coincidence.]

c) If the appearance of Monckton's paper was a total surprise to Schulte, or unauthorized, presumably he is vociferously complaining to Monckton and (E&E or whoever gave it to Monckton). As noted before, if the route goes through E&E, it is a total breech of normal practice by reputable journals.

Actually, if I were "updating" the results of somebody's research, and especially if I were getting noticably-different results, I'd likely send them an early version and see if they could explain why the results were so different, especially if I were a newcomer to the subject domain. [Of course, this doesn't happen when there is an established feud in progress, but in a email era, it's easy enough.]

There are large numbers of science topics in which there is zero political component to the argument, and science proceeds normally.

There are a few that are highly politicized, with active disinformation efforts, as opposed to the normal fierce tussles over hypotheses. These can be very confusing to scientists from other domains, as it takes substantial time and study to really assess what's really going on, who the players are, whether opinions change or not in the face of evidence, etc. [This is akin to studying claims of mind-reading: stage magicians are better than scientists, because the latter don't expect the universe to be purposefully fooling them. :-)] Surely Dr. Schulte would be familiar with the

Dr. Schulte might well be an innocent who has strayed into one of these domains and has fallen in with a bad lot who are taking advantage of him ... or might not be.

At this point, from public information, it is difficult to tell ... but I suspect more will be learned.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 04 Sep 2007 #permalink

re: #36
No, I explained the chronology in #22, so the URL is for the first mention. Recall the somewhat obscure path:

a) Schulte -?- E&E -?- Monckton

b) Monckton article

c) Morano (EPW) mention of b)

d) Asher mention of a), no mention of Monckton, claims to have pre-publication copy, which may be true, unclear how they got it.

e) Dempsey (EPW) references c) and d), although not b) again.

f) Blogosphere explosion, with the most common title being:

"Less than half of all published scientists endorse global warming"

Google: less than half scientists oreskes ==> 31K hits
Google: less than half scientists oreskes schulte ==> 1K hits
Google: less than half scientists oreskes dailytech ==> 1K hits

Google: less than half scientists oreskes monckton ==> .2K hits
Similar searches for morano, dempsey, epw in lst word < 1K hits
YMMV, and be careful with Google counts, but they give a hint.

Basically, the blogsophere has mostly "disappeared" the connection with Lord Monckton, and sometimes the path through EPW... and of course, the connection between Lord Monckton and Dr. Schulte is still unclear, although the following May 2007 article is useful:


Relevant pieces include:
"He suffers from a rare endocrine complaint, which has necessitated a series of operations,"


" When I mention Naomi Oreskes's famous evaluation of 928 articles referencing 'climate change' that 'proved' the consensus of catastrophe among scientists, he announces not only that he has read the 928 articles in question and would argue 'only 1 per cent explicitly predict doom, while 3 per cent are specifically sceptical of apocalyptic ideas', but also that he has sent a further 8,500 related articles to be evaluated by a team of two dozen scientists across the globe."

All this may be coincidence, as they must happen.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 04 Sep 2007 #permalink

Excellent rebuttal by Oreskes! Thanks for providing it!

By Stephen Berg (not verified) on 05 Sep 2007 #permalink

"If someone doesn't know what they are talking about, the best thing to do is show them up."

Done and done.

BTW, Oreskes is being kind to Schulte by pointing out he is unqualified to categorize the abstracts. Otherwise he would be lying. We know that's not true!

Point 2 and 3 sound fishy to me. Who doesn't want to be part of the popular crowd afterall(sic)? People are well known to supress(sic) objections from popular opinion when unity of the group or their individual societal status is at stake, a phenomenon known as groupthink.

Great- if there's dissent then there's no scientific consensus. If there isn't any dissent, it's groupthink. Congratulations, you have formed a perfect contrarian bubble which no new information can penetrate.
Your work here is done. Go home.

While we can assume consensus for things like gravity or electrostatics, we CANNOT do the same for evolution and global climate change, because these have much weaker pillars of proof...

So, we assume some stuff. Other stuff has 'pillars of proof'. Again, the entire idea of evidence leading to hypotheses leading to testing leading to improved hypotheses (ie 'science') is apparently foreign to you.
But here's a hint: a scientific consensus is formed by the scientific community. Not by convincing ignorant, bible-thumping rubes.

especially evolution which is unobservable experimentally. (I'm not talking about anti-boitic(sic) resistance, I mean the real stuff like morphology)

Perhaps you mean, 'real stuff like these goalposts here, which Im in the process of moving down the field a little bit further'.

By Carleton Wu (not verified) on 05 Sep 2007 #permalink

On the subject of 'Ad Hom' I'm going to take the liberty of re-posting a great comment made by 'James' last year regarding Monckton - hope he doesn't mind..

"I have nothing to add to the discussions of the science but I thought I'd chime in to respond to the "ad hominem" posts.... ... I just wanted to point out that "ad hominem" is not a criticism of an argument, it is a description. Like any other argument, an ad hominem argument must be judged on its merits. In this care the merits are:

1) The subject in question is complex and requires years of study and training to develop proficiency.
2) Monckton has almost no training or experience in this field.

Thus the conclusion that we should treat his climate science with skepticism is pretty well justified.

"Ad hominem" is often treated on the Internet as a de facto fallacy, but it is not. Only if it is the sole response to a factual statement is it fallacious. But qualifying the source as part of (or prior to) a larger response is just good sense.

Anyone taking logic should also consider a class in literary critical theory, where the author's context and motives are fair game. This applies to real life because people speak not only in factual arguments (the realm of logic), but also in fictions. Distinguishing between the two is aided greatly by a critical analysis of the source. We can't naively accept all statements as true, and we don't all have time like chris to trace every statement back to primary sources and debunk.
- Comment by James -- 15 Nov 2006 @ 2:06 am"

By Dean Morrison (not verified) on 06 Sep 2007 #permalink

Well, more details appear (but reference back to #35):

1) DeSmogBlog has some interesting background on SPPI (where Lord Christopher Monckton published his piece).

Experienced people will not be surprised.

2) And SPPI has an "Open Letter in Response to Namoi (sic) Oreskes' Criticisms",

3) and a comment by Bob Ferguson, who you will find mentioned in 1).

Well-orchestrated, indeed.

Also: "Chris" #24 (& my comment in #32): 4:35PM corresponds to 9:35PM UK time. About 4-5 hours later, Schulte fired off the letter (posted above in 2) to UCSD, which either makes "Chris" astonishingly prescient ... or very close to Schulte.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 06 Sep 2007 #permalink

Biologists today never write papers in which they explicitly say "we endorse evolution"...

Somebody here is just cruisin' for a quote-minin'...

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 06 Sep 2007 #permalink

While we can assume consensus for things like gravity or electrostatics, we CANNOT do the same for evolution and global climate change, because these have much weaker pillars of proof, especially evolution which is unobservable experimentally.

I know this thread's about climate change, not evolution, but how can you make that statement? I mean, we know about DNA, mutations, and the mechanisms driving evolution. And maybe this is my own ignorance, but I didn't think there was really a consensus yet on what the mechanisms were responsible for gravity. So, if you can accept gravity, because we can perform experiments where we drop things and watch them fall, without really understanding the mechanism, how in the world can you say that there's no consensus concerning evolution?

Also, I'd like to second the sentiment in comment 41. "Ad hominem" frequently gets used on the internet like it's always a bad thing, but it has its place. We all know the story of the boy who cried wolf, and the moral isn't that the town's people were wrong because they were guilty of an ad hominem logical fallacy.

Oh hell, I just got through typing all this before I noticed the last comment was 6 days ago. Oh well, I'm hitting the Post button, anyway.

Hey! I see Mashey got our concern troll/button man from the denialist mafia "chris" prominent mention!

BTW I should have said Pielke, or Pielke via Morano, wherever I had Morano in my above comments. Pielke disavowed his work but Morano and others kept it moving despite that, and Schulte is a recreation of Pielke that add's Monckton's nonscientific contributions after the fact.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 12 Dec 2007 #permalink