Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Looking for an Honest Man

I believe I have shown that John Cook, lead author of the article commonly cited for the claim that 97% of climate scientists support AGW, has lied in print about his own work. My argument assumed that Cook et. al. 2013 was itself honest, but other people have offered good evidence that it is not.

It is not surprising if there are some dishonest people on one side, or the other, or both of the climate controversy. A more interesting question is whether there are any honest people. Can anyone point at a prominent supporter of action to prevent warming who has publicly rejected Cook et. al. 2013 or its author?

The same question can be asked of the other side. Are there prominent articles criticizing the campaign to prevent warming that are clearly dishonest, clearly enough so that someone with no commitment to either side of the controversy would recognize them as such? If so, have they been publicly rejected by anyone on that side?

35 Comments:

At 8:08 PM, June 09, 2015, Anonymous Joeleee said...

Professor Friedman,

The link in the body of your text appears to be broken.

J

 
At 8:40 PM, June 09, 2015, Blogger Shaddox said...

Funny enough, that broken link is trying to link to the entire text of the blog post.

 
At 8:40 PM, June 09, 2015, Blogger Grant said...

Judith Curry (judithcurry.com) is the most honest climate researcher I've found, though she does not seem to support action to lower CO2 levels.

 
At 9:14 PM, June 09, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...

Thanks. I've fixed it. I still don't know why the first paragraph appears to be in a different font than the rest.

My impression of Curry is also positive, and since I also don't support action to lower CO2 levels, for reasons I've discussed here in the past, her not doing so does not strike me as a problem. I think I've seen her point out a mistaken argument on her side in the past, but I no longer remember the details.

 
At 10:19 PM, June 09, 2015, Blogger Jon Kalb said...

… and found an honest woman instead?

 
At 10:46 PM, June 09, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...

I don't remember whether she actually accused someone of being dishonest, or merely wrong. I expect there are lots of people on the same side of the argument as Cook who argue that other people on that side are wrong on one point or another--for instance on whether there has or has not been a pause in warming. It's harder to accuse someone on your side of deliberate dishonesty.

 
At 11:08 PM, June 09, 2015, Blogger Yossi L said...

Mrs. Curry is your Honest Man. Such an outstanding person and scientist (if not literally a man).

 
At 11:12 PM, June 09, 2015, Blogger Yossi L said...

I remember Ridley was citing a paper about the greening of the earth where the author, whose name I don't remember, was accused of cherry picking the period under consideration. Something that we typically accuse the other side of doing. That criticism seemed somewhat well earned.

 
At 11:13 PM, June 09, 2015, Blogger Yossi L said...

I remember Ridley was citing a paper about the greening of the earth where the author, whose name I don't remember, was accused of cherry picking the period under consideration. Something that we typically accuse the other side of doing. That criticism seemed somewhat well earned.

 
At 11:13 PM, June 09, 2015, Blogger Yossi L said...

Mrs. Curry is your Honest Man. Such an outstanding person and scientist (if not literally a man).

 
At 8:17 AM, June 10, 2015, Blogger Tim Lambert said...

As I have pointed out to you before, you are badly wrong about the Cook paper. The fact that you are wrong about something that I am more familiar with than you but are nonetheless completely unshakeable in your belief, suggests to me that I should not trust you about things which I don't know that much about.

My earlier comment:

What's wrong with your argument is that you misinterpret Cook et al (2013) as finding that the 97% consensus in the scientific literature was merely that the human contribution to global warming was positive but could be unimportant, perhaps as low as 10%.

You can look at the abstracts of the papers they rated if you go to http://www.skepticalscience.com/tcp.php?t=rate_papers
What is clear to me from looking at a selection of the abstracts is that those that implicitly endorse the consensus are implicitly affirming that anthropogenic global warming is significant. For example, a paper that states that carbon sequestration is way to prevent global warming is not consistent with the human contribution being just 10%. If that were the case sequestration would be worthless as a means for preventing global warming.

You yourself in comments observed that there was a big difference between human contribution of 10% and 90%, so you surely must agree that the relevant distinction is not whether the contribution is positive but whether it is big enough to matter. The implicit endorsement is that it is big enough to matter.

Now maybe you disagree with this, but then your disagreement is with Cook et al (2013)'s classification of the papers. You could, I suppose, look at a sample of them and classify them yourself and maybe come up with a different result. But it is not true that Bedford and Cook misrepresented Cook at al.

I think your desire to find a "gotcha" has lead you badly astray.

 
At 9:22 AM, June 10, 2015, Blogger Joe said...

David, regarding the two paragraphs with different font than the first: they appear to have been pasted into your blog from something like Microsoft Word because each has a 'class="MsoNormal"' in the HTML div (while the first one doesn't).

 
At 9:24 AM, June 10, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...

Tim writes:

"What is clear to me from looking at a selection of the abstracts is that those that implicitly endorse the consensus are implicitly affirming that anthropogenic global warming is significant."

A paper which implies that the human contribution is significant does not imply that it is the main cause, which is what Cook claimed. As I already pointed out, the example offered for Category 2 is 'Emissions of a broad range of greenhouse gases of varying lifetimes contribute to global climate change.' Do you really want to claim that that implies that humans are the main cause? That's what Cook is claiming in the second paper.

Perhaps you should look at someone else's selection of papers? Try following my second link.

Can you offer an explanation of why Cook's response to my criticism consisted of attacking me for an argument I did not make and entirely ignoring the argument I did make? One consistent with his being an honest man?

http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2014/03/john-cooks-response-to-my-criticism.html

I don't think I am the one led astray.

 
At 9:30 AM, June 10, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...

Someone commenting elsewhere points me at a brief piece by Richard Tol, summarizing things wrong with Cook et. al. 2013, a subject he has written about at greater length elsewhere. Tim might want to look at that, as well. Or not.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/05/28/climate-change-and-truth-mr-obama-97-percent-experts-do-not-agree-with.html

 
At 10:12 AM, June 10, 2015, Anonymous J Storrs Hall said...

I too have found Cook to play fast and loose with the truth: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/01/rebuttal-to-the-skeptical-science-crux-of-a-core/

 
At 12:30 PM, June 10, 2015, Blogger Josiah Neeley said...

Jim Manzi would be an example of someone who opposes climate action but 'calls out' other opponents of climate action for making bad arguments. See here.

 
At 12:54 PM, June 10, 2015, Blogger Josiah Neeley said...

I've thought of another example: John Nielsen-Gammon. Here he is criticizing Judith Curry's congressional testimony on climate change, and here he is defending Pat Michaels from attacks from Media Matters.

 
At 12:58 PM, June 10, 2015, Blogger Josiah Neeley said...

Oh, and here is Nielsen-Gammon criticizing Cook's 97% study (in the comments).

 
At 3:03 PM, June 10, 2015, Anonymous Mark Bahner said...

Hi,

My blog post here also discusses the Cook et al. Environmental Research Letters paper, and his misrepresentations of the paper in Cook et al., 2013:

http://markbahner.typepad.com/random_thoughts/2014/05/citizen-scientists-of-the-world-seriously-the-emperor-is-naked.html

My blog post notes that Cook et al., 2013 states, regarding the Environmental Research Letters paper, "Of the 4,014 abstracts that expressed a position on the issue of human-induced climate change, Cook et al. (2013) found that over 97% endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause."

However, my blog post points to two of those 4014 abstracts. The first abstract is about events that occurred before the Industrial Revolution, and the second abstract is about events that occurred before humanity even existed.(!) So neither could possibly have "endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause."

P.S. To return to the topic, I second John Nielsen-Gammon as a decent guy, trying to call things as he sees them. In particular, see Josiah Neeley's link to Nielsen-Gammon's comments on the Cook et al. ERL paper.

P.P.S. I criticized David Henderson's characterization of my assessment of the Cook et al. ERL paper. David Henderson wrote, regarding what I'd wrote, that "1.6%, Not 97%, Agree that Humans are the Main Cause of Global Warming." I pointed out that was also a misrepresentation of the paper's findings.

 
At 8:19 PM, June 10, 2015, Anonymous Mark Bahner said...

Tim Lambert writes, "As I have pointed out to you before, you are badly wrong about the Cook paper. The fact that you are wrong about something that I am more familiar with than you but are nonetheless completely unshakeable in your belief, suggests to me that I should not trust you about things which I don't know that much about."

Here is how John Cook and Daniel Bedford characterized the Cook et al. Environmental Research Letters paper's findings:

"Of the 4,014 abstracts that expressed a position on the issue of human-induced climate change, Cook et al. (2013) found that over 97% endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause."

And here's how they characterize the findings throughout the Internet:

"97% of the climate papers stating a position on human-caused global warming agree global warming is happening--and we are the cause."

Wouldn't you agree, Tim Lambert, that those are blatantly false characterizations of the Cook et al. Environmental Research Letters paper's findings?

 
At 8:10 AM, June 11, 2015, Blogger stan said...

http://www.joseduarte.com/blog/cooking-stove-use-housing-associations-white-males-and-the-97

"The Cook et al. (2013) 97% paper included a bunch of psychology studies, marketing papers, and surveys of the general public as scientific endorsement of anthropogenic climate change."

"This study was multiply fraudulent and multiply invalid already ... But I was blindsided by the inclusion of non-climate papers. I found several of these in ten minutes with their database – there will be more such papers for those who search longer. I'm not willing to spend a lot of time with their data – invalid or fraudulent studies should simply be retracted, because they have no standing. Sifting through all the data is superfluous when the methods are invalid and structurally biased, which is the case here for several different reasons, as I discuss further down."

"They excluded almost all of the relevant work of arguably the most prominent skeptical or lukewarm climate scientist in the world. Their search was staggering in its incompetence. "

"The inclusion of so many non-climate papers is just one of the three acts of fraud in this publication."

 
At 9:50 AM, June 12, 2015, Blogger Tim Lambert said...

David, I am glad you are not defending your claim that Cook's category 3 papers are consistent with the human contribution being just 10% (ie insignificant). But now your objection is just a nitpick, accusing Cook of dishonesty for writing "the main cause" instead of "a main cause", even though the meaning is little different. And then you go on to imply that anyone who disagrees with is dishonest. I would guess that Cook misunderstood your argument because it was a silly nitpick and he thought you were making better argument than what you did.

Now let's have a look at the blog post from Duarte that you linked. Duarte accuses the authors of fraud, claiming that they included papers that they should not have because they should have classified them as "Not climate related". His very first piece of evidence is this:

"Chowdhury, M. S. H., Koike, M., Akther, S., & Miah, D. (2011). Biomass fuel use, burning technique and reasons for the denial of improved cooking stoves by Forest User Groups of Rema-Kalenga Wildlife Sanctuary, Bangladesh. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 18(1), 88–97. (This is a survey of the public's stove choices in Bangladesh, and discusses their value as status symbols, defects in the improved stoves, the relative popularity of cow dung, wood, and leaves as fuel, etc. They mention climate somewhere in the abstract, or perhaps the word denial in the title sealed their fate.)"

This was classified as "Mitigation". Let's look at how climate is mentioned in the abstract. Here are the first two sentences:
"Use of biomass fuel in traditional cooking stoves (TCS) is a long-established practice that has incomplete combustion and generates substances with global warming potential (GWP). Improved cooking stoves (ICS) have been developed worldwide as an alternative household fuel burning device, as well as a climate change mitigation."

I think it is clear that the paper was was classified as "Mitigation" because the abstract said that improved cooking stoves were a way of mitigating climate change by reducing GWP emissions. So David, do you think this was an honest mistake on Duarte's part? Do you think it plausible that Duarte stopped reading the abstract when he got to the word "climate" and didn't bother reading the next two words? I believe that by the David Friedman standard espouses in this post, anyone who does not denounce Duarte is not an "honest man".

Again, this was the very first piece of evidence that Duarte offered. I haven't bothered to check the accuracy of his other claims and don't feel I need to.

And just to be clear, I'm not accusing David of dishonesty here. Just of gullibility.

 
At 10:38 AM, June 12, 2015, Blogger Josiah Neeley said...

Tim,

What is "a main cause" as distinct from "the main cause"?

 
At 1:29 PM, June 12, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...

Tim: " I am glad you are not defending your claim that Cook's category 3 papers are consistent with the human contribution being just 10% (ie insignificant)."

Cook's definition plus example for categories 2 and 3 is consistent with the human contribution being 10%, as you can see by reading them. I doubt there are many papers that fit that description. But I presume that none of them fit the definition of category 1, since if they did they would have been put there. Hence none says that humans are the principal cause. Yet Cook claims all of them say humans are "the main cause."

Category 1 was "principal cause." It was 1.6%. The difference between "an important cause" and "the main cause" is not a nitpick, not in a published paper. Nor the difference between 1.6% and 97%.

How can Cook have "misunderstood" my argument in the way he does--accusing me of making a point I did not make and entirely ignoring the point I made in considerable detail? Are you suggesting that he attacked me without bothering to read the post he was attacking?

You are inconsistent in your defense of Cook and your attack on Duarte. You might argue that what you quote is evidence that the authors think CO2 has some effect on climate, but it doesn't imply that CO2 is the main cause.

Are you not in the least bothered by the fact that Cook et. al. divided categories 1-3 in their sorting but only reported the sum rather than the individual numbers? Failing to mention that "principal cause" came to 1.6% and instead reporting the 97% total for the three is what honest authors would do? And then, in a later paper, describing the 97% as if it fit category 1--"principal" and "main" being synonyms.

I am not accusing you of dishonesty, just of an impressive ability not to see things you don't want to see.

 
At 9:21 PM, June 12, 2015, Blogger EliRabett said...


Tol runs into a Fermi problem. If he is right there are something like 300 papers out there that specifically reject AGW. Where are they?

David, you run into a physics problem when you say

"Emissions of a broad range of greenhouse gases of varying lifetimes contribute to global climate change.' Do you really want to claim that that implies that humans are the main cause? That's what Cook is claiming in the second paper.'

The answer is, that if there is one thing certain it is that humans are the main cause of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. That includes CO2, CH4, CFCs, HFCs perfluoro compounds and more. N2O is a bit tighter. A bit more than half the annual emissions are natural.

 
At 11:26 PM, June 12, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...

Eli: My point isn't that humans are not the main cause of GHGs but that "contribute to" does not imply the main cause, merely a cause. Someone might say "the recent heat wave in India contributed to unusually high summer mortality" even if there were other causes that were killing more people.

How do you get from "contribute to" to "main cause?" If you don't, then the 97% in Cook's second paper should be 1.6%, according to his own figures.

 
At 8:44 AM, June 14, 2015, Blogger Tim Lambert said...

David, I am not being inconsistent, you are. What did you do when faced with conclusive proof that Duarte was in fact lying about Cook's paper? You claimed that Duarte was offering "good evidence" that Cook et al was dishonest. That's untrue, and you know it to be untrue.

And just to remove any doubt, this comment on Duarte's post points out that the abstract of the paper Duarte claimed should not have categorized as mitigation, specifically mentions mitigation. Duarte saw this comment and responded to it, but did not correct his post where he claimed that the reason it wasn't classified as "not climate-related" was "They mention climate somewhere in the abstract, or perhaps the word denial in the title sealed their fate." Duarte knew why the paper had been classified as mitigation and chose to lie about it.

In your post you asked:
"Are there prominent articles criticizing the campaign to prevent warming that are clearly dishonest, clearly enough so that someone with no commitment to either side of the controversy would recognize them as such?"
The answer is yes, see the article by Duarte you linked.
You then ask:
"If so, have they been publicly rejected by anyone on that side?"
Not so far, andI'm not holding my breath.

 
At 2:16 AM, June 15, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" "Emissions of a broad range of greenhouse gases of varying lifetimes contribute to global climate change.' Do you really want to claim that that implies that humans are the main cause? That's what Cook is claiming in the second paper.'

The answer is, that if there is one thing certain it is that humans are the main cause of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. That includes CO2, CH4, CFCs, HFCs perfluoro compounds and more. N2O is a bit tighter. A bit more than half the annual emissions are natural. "


I think David and Eli misunderstand each other here. As far as I can tell, David is saying that this wording does not imply that humans, by way of emitting greenhouse gases, are the main cause _of warming_. Whereas Eli read this as "this wording does not imply humans are the main cause _of greenhouse gas emissions_."

 
At 2:47 AM, June 15, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Tim:
--"David, I am not being inconsistent, you are. What did you do when faced with conclusive proof that Duarte was in fact lying about Cook's paper? You claimed that Duarte was offering "good evidence" that Cook et al was dishonest. That's untrue, and you know it to be untrue."

His evidence is actually quite good. I don't know why you think it isn't.

--"And just to remove any doubt, this comment on Duarte's post points out that the abstract of the paper Duarte claimed should not have categorized as mitigation, specifically mentions mitigation."

And yet according to Duarte, it is not an actual study on climate mitigation. If he is correct in this, then the paper should not have been included, as is made clear by the authors' statement that they shouldn't have been included.

--"Duarte saw this comment and responded to it, but did not correct his post where he claimed that the reason it wasn't classified as "not climate-related" was "They mention climate somewhere in the abstract, or perhaps the word denial in the title sealed their fate.""

Because the post didn't need to be corrected.
See this quote:
"The authors explicitly stated in their paper (Table 1) that "social science, education and research on people's views" were classified as Not Climate Related,"

and his comment in regard to the paper:
"This is a survey of the public's stove choices in Bangladesh, and discusses their value as status symbols, defects in the improved stoves, the relative popularity of cow dung, wood, and leaves as fuel, etc."

I.e. according to Duarte the paper was in fact research on people's views, which should have been classified as "not climate related" per the authors' statement, whether it included the word "mitigation" in the abstract or not.
So far, Duarte's characterization of the paper seems spot on.

-excel

 
At 9:09 AM, June 15, 2015, Anonymous Mark Bahner said...

Tim Lambert, I would appreciate a yes or no answer to my simple question of June 10 at 8:19 PM:

Here is how John Cook and Daniel Bedford characterized the Cook et al. Environmental Research Letters paper's findings:

"Of the 4,014 abstracts that expressed a position on the issue of human-induced climate change, Cook et al. (2013) found that over 97% endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause."

And here's how John Cook and his Environmental Research Letters paper's coauthors characterize the findings throughout the Internet:

"97% of the climate papers stating a position on human-caused global warming agree global warming is happening--and we are the cause."

Do you agree that those are blatantly false characterizations of the Cook et al. Environmental Research Letters paper's findings?

 
At 10:37 PM, July 02, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question for Tim Lambert

Didn't you continue to argue in support of the John Roberts research even after he had been sanctioned by John Hopkins for dishonesty?

Yes or no?

This was of course before you were forced to leave UNSW?

 
At 10:46 PM, July 02, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Mark Bahner

Don't expect an answer from Tim Lambert. He was asked questions about his ongoing support of the discredited Roberts research in Iraqi extra deaths toll and refuses to answer. He runs off like a jack rabbit.

While on the subject of rabbits, I notice good Ol' Eli here two steps behind Lambert.

 
At 7:26 AM, July 04, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lambert

Does Google know you're hanging around blogs abusing people during work hours. I bet they would be really impressed, you fake.

You failed as a low level academic, you lunatic. Go away and don't come back.

 
At 2:06 AM, July 05, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've left a message for Lambert on Facebook to come here and answer the questions

1. Why he was continuing to support Roberts dishonest research after he was sanctioned by Johns Hopkins

2. Explain why he was booted from UNSW.

So far he hasn't come back, which is not surprising.

 
At 10:03 PM, July 28, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the discredited academic anon was referring to is Les Roberts from Johns Hopkins.

AJ

 

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