22 May, 2013

John Cook et Alii Willfully Lie

The lucripetous and deceitful John Cook (an unscrupulous and shameless propagandist for the silly, pseudo-scientific conjecture of anthropogenic global warming) continues to lie in order to convince the gullible that, if a plurality of supposed experts suggest that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide cause global warming, then everyone else must believe that any resultant warming will be catastrophic for the entire planet.  He and his overpaid collabarators falsely and fallaciously claim that “among papers expressing a position on human-caused global warming, over 97% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.”
See “97% Study Falsely Classifies Scientists Papers, according to the scientists that published them” at Popular Technology:
The paper, Cook et al. (2013) “Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature” searched the Web of Science for the phrases “global warming” and “global climate change” then categorizing these results to their alleged level of endorsement of AGW.  These results were then used to allege a 97% consensus on human-caused global warming.
To get to the truth, I emailed a sample of scientists whose papers were used in the study and asked them if the categorization by Cook et al. (2013) were an accurate representation of their paper.  Their responses are eye opening and evidence that the Cook et al. (2013) team falsely classified scientists’ papers as “endorsing AGW”, apparently believing to know more about the papers than their authors.
What does a study of 20 years of abstracts tell us about the global climate?  Nothing.  But it says quite a lot about the way government funding influences the scientific process. John Cook, a blogger who runs the site with the ambush title “SkepticalScience” (which unskeptically defends the mainstream position), has tried to revive the put-down and smear strategy against the thousands of scientists who disagree.  The new paper confounds climate research with financial forces, is based on the wrong assumptions, uses fallacious reasoning, wasn’t independent, and confuses a consensus of climate scientists for a scientific consensus, not that a consensus proves anything anyway, if it existed.
From WUWT:

UPDATE I:  the demented Prof. Stephan Lewandowsky, one of John Cook’s accomplices, also lies in order to enrich himself.  See “The Lewandowsky Papers”, by Ben Pile:
A culture of intransigence has developed in the shadow of the compact between politics and science, which can be seen in the Lewandowsky affair in microcosm.  Lewandowsky’s work unwittingly demonstrates that what is passed off as peer-reviewed and published ‘science’, even in today’s world, is no more scientific than the worst ramblings of the least qualified and nuttiest climate change denier on the internet.  It looks like science, certainly, but the product survives only a superficial inspection.  The only difference being the institutional muscle that Lewandowsky has access to, but which unhinged climate change deniers do not.  The object of the Professor’s study is really his own refusal to debate with his lessers.
By “climate change denier”, a pejorative term employed by dishonest awarmists, Ben Pile evidently means “sceptics of AGW”.

UPDATE II:  see, also at WUWT, “The Collapsing ‘Consensus’”, by Christopher Monckton of Brenchley: 
Environmental Research Letters ought to have known better than to publish the latest anti-scientific propaganda paper by John Cook of the dubiously-named Skeptical Science website.  Here are just a few of the solecisms that should have led any competent editor or reviewer to reject the paper:
  • It did not discuss, still less refute, the principle that the scientific method is not in any way informed by argument from consensus, which thinkers from Aristotle via Alhazen to Huxley and Popper have rejected as logically fallacious. 
  • Its definition of the “consensus” it claimed to have found was imprecise: that “human activity is very likely causing most of the current anthropogenic global warming”. 
  • It did not put a quantitative value on the term “very likely”, and it did not define what it meant by “current” warming.  There has been none for at least 18 years. 
  • It cited as authoritative the unscientifically-sampled surveys of “consensus” by Doran & Zimmerman (2009) and Anderegg et al. (2010). 
  • It inaccurately represented the views of scientists whose abstracts it analysed. 
  • It disregarded two-thirds of the 12,000 abstracts it examined, on the unscientific ground that those abstracts had expressed no opinion on Man’s climatic influence. 
  • It declared that the one-third of all papers alleged to have endorsed the “consensus” really amounted to 97% of the sample, not 33%. 
  • It suggested that the “consensus” that most recent warming is man-made is equivalent to the distinct and far less widely-supported notion that urgent action to prevent future warming is essential to avert catastrophe.  [President] Obama fell for this, twittering that 97% found global warming not only real and manmade but also dangerous. 
Yet the most remarkable conclusion to be drawn from Cook’s strange paper is that the “consensus”—far from growing—is actually collapsing. 
UPDATE III (28 May):  it seems that Cook et al. are unable to search academic literature databases competently; see ‘Landmark consensus study’ is incomplete”, by Shub Niggurath:
The Cook et al. numbers are somewhat replicable, only if search [were] limited to the Science Citation Index and Social Sciences Citation Index databases in Web of Science.  Presumably, this made the job of classification easier.  Contrary to claims, however, this makes their literature search incomplete.  It is neither ‘comprehensive’ nor produces the largest’ possible data set.  The finding of incomplete search has further implications as it affects all conclusions drawn in the paper.
UPDATE IV (11 June):  see Shub Niggurath’s “Why the Cook paper is bunk: Part I”:
Cook and co-authors rationalize the decrease in the proportion of papers supporting the consensus, via a convoluted theory, as evidence for a high degree of consensus.  They contend the decrease implies more papers have accepted the consensus and therefore don’t need to talk about it.  At the same time, they take the increase in absolute numbers of orthodox position papers as evidence for ‘increasing consensus’.
UPDATE V (17 June):  Shub Niggurath’s “Why the Cook paper is bunk: Part II” is now available:
Now, Cook and colleagues have spread the message wide that 97% of a ‘large number of scientific abstracts’ support anthropogenic global warming […]. From the University of Queensland’s press release:
About 97 per cent of 4000 international scientific papers analysed in a University of Queensland-led study were rated as endorsing human-caused global warming.
How this happened is known:  a large number of papers not stating a position on AGW were classified as ‘implicitly’ accepting the orthodox climate position.  […]
The ‘implicit endorse’ category Cook’s group invented, illustrates devilish intricacies that can arise in classification studies.  Papers were added to the category merely because a predetermined rating system suggested it to volunteers, who then went looking for it.  It serves as a paradigm that illustrates how researchers can imprint methodological and observer biases on material they set out to study.

14 May, 2013

The Philospher’s Preferred Instrument of Change: Tax

On ABC’s Lateline, last night, Emma Alberici interviewed Prof. Michael Sandel (the text is that of Lateline’s own transcription):

EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER:  Our guest tonight is the famed Harvard University professor of Government, Michael Sandel.  Newsweek calls him the most relevant living philosopher.
Well, if Newsweek praise him—
EMMA ALBERICI:  Which takes me to the dangerous political territory which you traverse in the book around climate change.  Now, you talk about this market in buying and selling the right to pollute in a way that clearly demonstrates that you’re not a fan.
What she means, by “the right to pollute”, is the lawful, industrial emitting of carbon dioxide—the trace gas which is essential for life on earth—as a byproduct, for example, of generating affordable power.
MICHAEL SANDEL: Well, I think the best way to reduce carbon emissions would be a carbon tax, which is terribly unpopular, certainly in my country and elsewhere.
This, of course, is assuming that “carbon emissions” need to be reduced on the further supposition that they cause global warming.  Strangely, for a supposed philosopher, Mandel neglects to question those pseudo-scientific assumptions.  Not so strangely, for an awarmist presenter on the awarmist ABC, Emma Alberici doesn’t bother asking her guest for evidence to support his assertions.
Some international agreements on global warming have included provisions, often at the insistence of the US, to allow countries to meet their obligations either by reducing their own emissions or by paying other countries to reduce theirs.  The worry, it seems to me, my worry, is that if we’re trying to generate a global ethic on the environment, on climate change, we're going to have to cultivate a sense that we are all in this together.  And if we allow rich countries to buy their way out of shared sacrifice, I’m concerned that this could erode the attitudes, the sense of common commitment and shared sacrifice that we will need truly to tackle the long-term challenge of reducing emissions.  So attitudes matter.  And sometimes monetary incentives can damage or erode or even corrupt attitudes that we need to support a shared public, in this case global, ethic.
So, if richer countries were to transfer more wealth to poorer countries, it would be bad because that sacrificing of money wouldn’t be as sacrificing as losing wealth by making energy less affordable for the less affluent.  Why, pray, do we even need a “global ethic”?  If global warming were truly endangering us all would not prudent, cost-effective action be more important than possibly protracted attempts to alter ethics?  Would Prof. Sandel prefer that ethical positions be shared on, say, the evils of slavery or the wickedness of the use of torture in police investigations, ere such practices be banned?
EMMA ALBERICI:  But isn’t that problem equally levelled around the carbon tax in so far as if only one country does it – the whole idea of an emissions trading scheme was that everyone was going to be doing it together, wasn’t it?  I mean, the carbon tax will only apply in one territory.
MICHAEL SANDEL:  Well ideally I think the major countries should try to get together and agree on – to enact carbon taxes, but I think if the major economies begin to do so, I think that can have a desirable effect for others.  I’m all in favour of anything we can do internationally to create a sense of shared responsibility to tackle climate change and global warming.  My worry was that simply relying on tradeable pollution permits, giving rich countries the right essentially to buy their way out of shared sacrifice would undermine the global cooperation, the shared ethic we need as citizens of this planet to do something serious about climate change.
Right, and that “something serious” to “tackle climate change” is to ruin the economies of wealthier countries.
EMMA ALBERICI:  What are your attitudes towards the compensation element?  I mean, in this country we have a carbon tax and then in some circumstances households were overcompensated for the effect of the tax on their particular household budgets.  And we see the same thing with big corporations being compensated for the harmful effect of such a tax.
By “overcompensated” Alberici means that people have been assigned slightly more funds—taken from taxpayers—than the Government has calculated—using, too often, imagined figures—might be the average burden foisted on ordinary taxpayers by various rises in costs after the imposition of the “carbon” tax, without taking into account the deleterious effect on the economy generally.
MICHAEL SANDEL:  Well I think that trying to offset the regressive aspects of a tax, helping those who are least able to bear it, is a good way of making a carbon tax politically acceptable without putting the greatest burden on those who can least afford it.  I’m not familiar with the way the compensation works with regard to companies. But I wish that we in this country would adopt a carbon tax and helping alleviate the burden on those who can’t afford it.  Because I think it would begin to change habits and change attitudes as well as practices and the emissions themselves with regard to one of the biggest challenges long term that we face.
Well, there you go:  a philosopher, and promoter of global ethics, wants to change others’ habits, beliefs and practices; he therefore advocates that governments impose additional taxes on them in order to force the changes he supports.  How philosophical and ethical!