8 Nov 2013

Wendy Bacon Responds To News Corp

By Wendy Bacon

When you criticise Rupert Murdoch's News Corp you should expect a backlash, as Wendy Bacon found when she published her report on the coverage of climate change at Australian newspapers

Last week, the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism published its second report on Australian coverage of climate change. This report, of which I am the author, focuses on the coverage of climate science in Australian print publications.

Australia’s print media is concentrated in the hands of News Corp, which own seven of 10 newspapers studied. The report found that Australia's biggest publications The Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun are misleading and confusing their readers about scientific findings on climate science. (A detailed comparison of Fairfax Media and News Corp can be found here)

Australia’s only national newspaper for a general audience, The Australian, deliberately creates uncertainty and a debate about aspects of climate science that the world’s leading climate scientists have found are "virtually certain", the report found.

The report identifies columnist Andrew Bolt as the most prolific and widely published writer on climate science in Australia. He constantly attacks climate scientists and journalists (who report on climate change from the point of view of 97 per cent of the world’s climate scientists) across News Corp publications, on 2GB and on Channel 10. He has done this again this week in two blog posts, one column and on 2GB.

From the point of view of professional journalism, I argue that much of News Corp’s reporting of climate science is unethical.

Public understanding of climate science has policy implications and the ramifications for communities that are vulnerable to climate change is huge. If people do not understand the threat of global warming, they cannot be expected to support changes to mitigate it.

On Tuesday, The Australian published a piece in its Cut and Paste column suggesting that I, as a professor of journalism, would ask media students to “swallow” a consensus. In fact this is the opposite to what I suggest. As an investigative journalist I am very aware that a journalist must be open to inquiry on all matters.

Inquiry however should be based on evidence. If dissidents suggest to journalists that the world’s most established and respected climate scientists are wrong, journalists should only promote these views after a rigorous independent checking process.

In fact, independent researchers and journalists have done that and are constantly critiquing the coverage of scepticism. I use the ABC’s Media Watch and ex-News Corp journalist Graham Readfearn as Australian examples of independent critique. One of my criticisms of Andrew Bolt and others who promote the views of those who deny anthropogenic climate change and other key findings of climate scientists is that they fail to subject sceptic views to critique and simply recirculate them.

On Wednesday, I wrote this letter to The Australian:

Dear Editor,

In your "Cut & Paste" column on November 5, you misrepresented my views on how journalists should approach the reporting of science. I would never suggest that anyone “swallow” a consensus position on science or anything else; indeed, precisely the opposite.

My complaint about the columnist Andrew Bolt is NOT that he asks too many questions but that he does not sufficiently question sceptic views, especially given their lack of scientific credibility.

In my report I specifically addressed the issue of how journalists approach science reporting and specifically how they can deal with dissident scientific sources. I write:

“Some have argued that journalists should leave climate science to the scientists and simply report evidence that has been peer reviewed or independently assessed. Critical and independent journalists will not agree. While daily reporters develop techniques and conventions for assessing the credibility of sources, in-depth and specialist reporters have a responsibility to interrogate experts on behalf of the public. Journalism’s central preoccupation is with the truth or discovering which claims are valid or which claims are not.

If a reporter is contacted by a source holding views contrary to mainstream scientific opinion, a range of actions are possible. A reporter can first establish the basis for the difference and then canvas views from a range of experts. Has the dissident view been critiqued? Has the dissident responded to that critique? What is the nature of the evidence or proof of alternative scientific claims? Is there evidence that dissidents are being marginalised to protect powerful interests? Or are dissidents being funded by interests with a stake in particular policies? What interests or motivations underlie the difference between parties with differing views? Occasionally, stories of scientific fraud or suppression are exposed by following such methods.”

Although I am not a specialist science reporter, I have read material that rejects the findings of climate scientists and the critiques of it. I have also followed the reports of reputable climate scientists. It is on that basis that I support the scientific consensus on the contribution of human beings to dangerous global warming. I believe that the media has an obligation to report those findings clearly to the public. My study found that a number of News Corp publications are not doing that.

Wendy Bacon

The Australian didn't publish the letter, preferring others that further promote doubt about anthropogenic climate change. Instead in today's editorial, they further attack me.

The Australian’s editorial states not for the first time that the paper accepts that greenhouse gas emissions are producing global warming and that action must be taken. However they defend the fact that nearly half their coverage and more than half the words in articles dealing with climate science do not support this position as an example of “balanced” coverage. In my report I critique the argument that the journalistic norm of balance can be used to justify reporting and promoting false material about climate science.

The editorial then claims that I have said media should practice a consensus. It quotes a retired professor as arguing that my position is “monstrous”. In fact what I have clearly said is that journalists should have regard for the consensus that already exists among climate science and, as they would with any other field of science, report it.

Contrary to what The Australian suggests, I have consistently encouraged young journalists and students to question prevailing ideas. The Australian Centre for Independent Journalism has been part of developing international student debates about the ethics of reporting climate science, including how balance or “false balance” applies in this case.

The Australian does not respond to or discuss any of my detailed analysis of its coverage of climate science, through which I demonstrate how it uses different genres of reporting to create doubt. 

News Corp promotes news that suggests global warming may not be as serious as once thought but fails to cover other key reports. It publishes the views of denialists who completely reject the scientific consensus on climate change. It snipes at journalists who cover climate scientists in a straightforward way. It undermines the reputation of climate scientists to engender public distrust in them.

In their editorial, the Australian also attacks Fairfax Media for reporting climate science from an ideological point of view. But as our study found, Fairfax Media were balanced on the coverage of climate policy but reported climate science from the scientific consensus point of view.

News Corp meanwhile reports climate policy in an extremely biased fashion and creates confusion and doubt about evidence about climate change that has been established by the world’s leading scientists and scientific bodies. It is News Corp who are on an ideological mission with their reporting on climate change.

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This user is a New Matilda supporter. RossC
Posted Friday, November 8, 2013 - 12:34

Well done Wendy. And don't lose heart. 

I sense that the level of vitriol from Bolt and News Corp in general on this issue is peaking at present, mainly because the scientific consensus is becoming so clear cut ( and just as the government they have chosen has grasped the reigns of power - how frustrating for them!). They are on the losing side of the scientific argument, and they know it (I suspect Bolt, in particular, has known this for a long time, but cynically enjoys his position as head spoiler on the topic).

Its funny how some chose to try and keep muddying clearing waters - usually it is out of pride - and a sense of not wanting to admit 'defeat' and 'lose' on the issue. But this is just stalling the inevitable. As the issue becomes even more crystal clear in the near future, Bolt's chosen position on this issue, in particular, will be exposed as ridiculous. And he deserves no better fate.      

Posted Friday, November 8, 2013 - 14:48

Very good and informative article Wendy - In the climate of secrecy  we are seeing in Australia at the moment, articles such as these are one of the best things for upholding transparency and fair reporting of facts.

Unfortunately News Corp are unwilling or either unable to be objective, and when you have journalists like Andrew Bolt who continue to espouse views that are also, at best untrue and at worse, stupid and defamatory, it's no wonder His Honour Bernard Bongiorno J called Mr Bolt's conduct  "at worst, dishonest and misleading and at best, grossly careless"  when it  comes to his style of journalistic prose.

Regardless of your belief in climate change or not, never let the chance to stir up uneducated sentiment to help buy and election because your boss want's a new PM.

Posted Friday, November 8, 2013 - 16:29

Good one, Wendy Bacon. Keep it rolling in.

The world has been full of idiots for 12000 years and will be for a few more years yet.

Celebrating stupidity and mouthing off like Bolt is unfortunately seen as Heroic by some idiots and has been celebrated here for years. For 80 years we marched and for 80 years we have been a Nation of Pedo's, so, what does that tell u.

The Media unfortunately created our National Caractor and what the Media giveth it can taketh thats why those Morrons have got away with stroking our ego's and telling us lies for well over 100 years.



Posted Friday, November 8, 2013 - 18:39

Wendy you rock don't let the turkeys get you down!!

I'm just wondering how far we have advanced since Galileo!!?  Someone like Andrew Bolt who is nowhere near intelligent or inquisitive enough to enter the scientific community gets a privileged place in certain media domains...and enough power to behave and interact as if he had enough mind power to mix it with the climate scientists...it sort of reminds of some bogan boxercise fanatic trying to go a few rounds with Kostya Tszyu...can wear the fancy Everlast clothes, stick on some gloves and a mouth guard...and throw a few ineffective moves that seem like punches...but really when all is said and done...really boxing outside his weight division!!

We need to remember that the media especially these days in the climate of profit and commercial interest...is not really anything other than a form of entertainment and moneymaking, not really the ideal we envisage of some long ago past hayday where it exercised a positive social institutional role...such as critiquing and being the watchdog of society...it is supprted by its advertisers, the interests of those paying for advertising is what are primary foci of media...the boundaries of real and fantasy are well and truly blurred beyond all recognition...read a newspaper and suspend your disbelief because especially with Bolt you are reading fiction not authentic, "bigboys'" journalism.

I recently read a book called "Body Panic: Gender, Health and the Selling of Fitness" by S.L. Dworking and F.L. Wachs (2009) and they very effectively illustrate how women's magazines blur the lines between the informational elements of their mags and the advertising aspects of it, where an advert has "facts" that might be "played with" in order to draw-in buyers by seeming genuine information but really highly inaccurate.  It is scary with women's mags because of body image/health issues that are basically manipulated by marketing/psychology specialists to shift the money from you purse to theirs, but where women are affected negatively (for eg any claims in mags that fat can be "spotreduced" are utterly FALSE because where fat is deposited and how/speed of expending it is actually genetic!!)...but when this is about climate change the entire planet is vulnerable.

The question needs to be asked - why should a moron like Andrew Bolt have so much power to influence wider society?  Why aren't the actually intelligent knowledgable people with the qualitifcations and experience and accountability to the scientific community having the privileged place in the media?


Brad Keyes
Posted Friday, November 8, 2013 - 19:48

Is the following sentence one of your excrescences, Wendy?

"In December 2010, The Australian’s environment editor Graeme Lloyd defended the paper’s editorial and opinion writers’ coverage of climate change against the charge of scepticism."

The charge of scepticism?

The charge? Of scepticicm—which is only the key to, well, all of science?

Surely you must have some idea of how medieval you sound.

Why are you doing this to yourself?

Fightmumma put its finger on it:

"I'm just wondering how far we have advanced since Galileo!!?"

Riley Hunter
Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 00:08

Wendy, since when is the number of people that believe something an indication of its veracity.  Are you aware of any history at all?

If your "evidence" is that a lot of peer reviewed articles written by climate scientists agree with AGW, then you really are on shaky ground.  Far too shaky to be as cock sure as you seem to be about this.

You know Wendy, what you are saying is bullshit.  It's bullshit because of this reason: by all means, reporters should report the facts. If 97% of climate scientists have one consensus view, then by all means report it as a fact - but don't report it with a slant that it somehow is evidence of it being correct, or that the rest of us should also believe it.  That is both bias and stupid.

There is a huge amount of scientific literature that backs the opposite view.  There are actually many peer reviewed studies that support the ideas that the temp rises are within normal variability, that human CO2 has no (or miniscule) effect, that polar bears are thriving, that ice changes are within normal variability, that antarctic ice is growing, that sea level rise is moderate and non-accelerating (there are a couple that say decelerating), that Kiribati and other islands are not being inundated by rising seas etc etc, then list is almost endless.  There are people out there (like for instance Anthony Watt, or Monkton) who publish these studies on an almost daily basis.  Does the balanced reporting you promote report these studies?  No.  Instead, the reporters you are glorifying deny the existence of these studies and demonise those that publish them as being crackpots.  The behaviour of you and your like-minded colleagues in this respect is a disgrace.

Wendy, when I listen to your argument, and the arguments of many like you, all I see and hear are people that do not have the ability to make a proper assessment of facts and evidence.  The ability to discern facts and evidence from bluff and bluster is not unlike possessing a skill like being a fast runner or having good hand-eye coordination.  Some people have it and some don't.  (In my experience, actors, artists, musicians and journalists generally don't, but that's another study all together).  

If you really are interested in the truth here (as opposed to your idealogically-based bias towards backing every environmental disaster anyone can think up) my advice to you is to really engage with someone who has a logical and skeptical eye (like, for instance, me) and talk carefully about what you think is the evidence that leads you to hold your beliefs in this.  I have done a huge amount of research and reading of science on this, on both sides of the fence (and am well qualified to do so) and my assessment is exactly the opposite to yours.  I think that there is actually no evidence at all that humans have caused the 0.6deg temp change over the past 100 or so years or that none of the impending problems that are promoted as going along with it are worth one minute of worrying about, or one cent of expenditure trying to combat. 

I challenge you to go through this exercise, but at the same time I do not hold much hope of you seeing the light - I think the illogical brain-type will persist in refusing to acknowledge facts and evidence, even if they be right in front of its face.

Cheers, Riley



Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 02:52

Riley, this "huge amount of scientific literature that backs the opposite view" would be from the other 3% of climate scientists, yes? So, that still means that 97% of climate scientists DO believe that humans have been responsible for climate change which has occurred already and that it is worth worrying about the impending problems and spending money to try and do something about it.

You see, this is the point. There is a lot of bluff and bluster in your argument, but when it comes down to it, the weight of the evidence is still against you and against those who refute the consensus on climate change. And the weight of that evidence is 97% to 3%. There may be some fine scientific work in the other peer-reviewed work you mention, but this work has been considered by other climate scienitsts and critiqued fairly, even if you believe it hasn't been critiqued fairly by Fairfax, etc.

You may be surprised to learn that you are not the only person who has spent a great deal of time considering the science. It's just that you are one of only a minority of people qualified to offer an opinion who has reached the conclusions you have reached. This is not just a new theory either. We were being taught about it in school back in the 1970s. It's just that good science takes time and it took a while for the research to be confirmed and confirmed again and again and again.

Journalists, even those who may not be able to run away from the truth as fast as you seem to want them to, have a duty to report both sides in a balanced manner, but part of that balance is to give the layperson the truth about what the majority of climate scientists think. And this position of climate scientists should be reiterated when reporting what you call the opposite view. The failure of the Australian media to do this is what Ms Bacon's report has rightly criticised.

If it turns out, in 50 years, that you and a handful of others are right and the majority is wrong, then the worst we might have done is invested public and private money in cleaner energy, leading to a reduction in overall pollution and its other harmful effects. I hardly see this as a dire consequence of what will be a very long term wager and it's still one I'm prepared to put my money on and that of my kids - especially at the current odds.

Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 04:28

You would do well to listen to benice, fightmumma and Wendy. Riley Hunter.

U lost me as soon as u mentioned Lord Idiot Monkton who needs lots of money to finance his life style and the Fossil Fuel Lobby has huge amounts of it.

Just remember Czechoslovakia payed 2 million pounds to a LOBBY GROUP called Focus in England to bribe English Politicians into starting a war with 1 of the 4 big Manufacturers, the big 4 had 85% of the manufacturing and therefore 85% of the wealth. End result America the New Empire and its rulers Raping and Pilaging their way across the world, the other 3 broke or flatened and Czechoslovakia lost behind the Iron Curtain, now wasn't that bright. Madelaine Albright and her Daddy who were Czechoslovakian and not quite so bright ended up in the U.S because Albrights Daddy was one of the Morrons pushing for war and his Morronic Daughter is just as evil..

One of the greedy grubs who financed their own life styles with this blood money was Churchill and some Brain Dead Poms still Celebrate that arseholes passing and as one of Englands greats. There is a message in there, see if u can figure it out BumBoy.

Other LOBBY GROUP scandals in the past were the destruction of the Hemp Industry, the light rail system in Chicago in 1958, the list is rather long. So do u wish to be another brain dead Czechoslovakian and end up where.

So careful what u wish for and who whose horse u are backing, just like those dumbo Czechoslovakian's u might live to regret it. 57 million dead because of economic greed and all of Europe bombed back into the stone age is nothing to laugh about. Once the Scots take their oil back from England, Englands Economy will be DEAD, the Titanic didn't help those idiots and neither did their stupid wars. Churchill did real well though, payed of his brain dead sons gambling debts and the pig kept himself in a drunken stupor for a lot longer.

I'm sure Margret Thatchers Son the ARMS DEALER could do with a few more million thanks to dumbo's like u.

Churchill, Monkton and Thatcher what more do the dumb Poms need and George the 1st was German. LOL. POMS ??????. IQ anyone.

Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 05:29

U see Ladies and Gentleman. This whole arument isn't about Climate change, its about wealth.

If u made climate change Profitable to our current crop of War Lords, it would happen.

Let me explain.


Go back to England, to days gone by. When Englands Controllers decided to go from being War Lords/ Feudalism to Industrialisation. They couldn't talk their way into that either,

What they needed was Oliver Cromwell's relgious Crusade who slaughtered all the War Lords who wanted Business as usual. The end result was the unintended Consequences of Industrialistion that has taken us through many wars and finaly 7 billion people.

Englands population increased 4 fold because of Industrialisation between 1525 and 1575, it is this that led to 7 billion world wide chocking the planet.

So Oliver Cromwell's Crusade achieved what exactly, the current Mess and 85% of the worlds wealth made from the worlds resources in the hands of a very small minority. A shit load of poverty, a shit load of people doing more 3.5 to 10 minute Bonking to create even more Grafitying, London Rioter shit, for what. Thanks Oliver, we need another Religious Crusade with unitended Consquences like we need a hole in the head, maybe. Known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns. FEUDALISM for wealth,EGO and Vanity. So why exactly did so many women cheer so many idiots in green uniform on to go and kill themselves so that 8% of the Nation population could be rich, control 85% of our wealth, be the 3rd richest Landed gentry, only to go broke because England went broke fighting 2 stupid wars and we could become a Pedo Nation for 80 years while marching down the road celebrating stupidity for 80 years. ANSWER that and u might find ur answer to the Global Warming PROBLEM, HUMANS. LOL.


Sounds to me like a load of shit and the Bolts of the world making money out of talking shit about shit. We can't eat without creating the other and now we live in it.



Brad Keyes
Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 09:58


"So, that still means that 97% of climate scientists DO believe that humans have been responsible for climate change which has occurred already"

At least partly responsible, yes.

"and that it is worth worrying about the impending problems and spending money to try and do something about it."

No—you're getting your consensi mixed up. There is, as far as we can tell, no strong agreement amongst any relevantly qualified group that climate change is "worth worrying about," as you put it, let alone that we should spend money fixing it (as if scientists were qualified to make such a call in any case).

It might help if you'd actually read the "studies" by Oreskes, Doran, Zimmermann etc. They're academically worthless (because science runs on evidence, not opinion) but at least it might remedy your misconceptions regarding their findings.

If you think science works by consensus, you've got a bit of a problem here: the 97% figure only covers the weakest and most banal proposition (that humans are partly responsible for warming so far); it categorically does not include any kind of alarm about the consequences.

"And the weight of that evidence is 97% to 3%."

LOL. No. Even under the most watered-down definition of the hypothesis, all you can say is that the weight of opinion is 97% to 3%.

It's astounding that you don't know the difference between opinion and evidence.

Oh, hang on, no it's not.

It's pretty much par for the course with believalists.

Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 11:54

Brad, you seem to be confusing the nature of consensus of public opinion, which could be based on anything, and consensus of scientific opinion which IS actually based on evidence, but we'll get to that in a minute.

First, though, sarcasm and ridicule, just like any scientific opinon or enquiry, is only valuable when it is based on evidence. So, let's clear up a few things here:

1) You have clearly made assumptions about how widely read I am on this subject based on no evidence of my academic background, journal subscriptions, even my internet history, or, to be old-fashioned, what I have booked out on my library card. So before pursuing that line, I'd like to see the empirical data for this assumption.

2) It astounds me that someone who claims to be as widely read on the subject as you doesn't know that the IPCC is the qualified group of scientists (which you say doesn't exist) which does believe that climate change is "worth worrying about". They've released a few reports based on scientific evidence - check them out. (And if you'd looked more carefully at  riley's post, you'd see that the phrase "worth one minute of worrying about" is not as I put it, but as Riley put it). By the way, before you go off down the road of railing about the differing opinions on levels of impact in the IPCC reports, read my next point.

3) You have made an assumption that I am one of a group you call 'believalists', who, according to you, all have the same approach to this issue and the same 'belief'. Once again, as someone so concerned about the scientific process, you must have based this on some evidence, so if you could present this in a balanced manner for consideration, rather than in such a petulant and aggrieved tone with no facts, I'm sure my fellow conspirators and I would be happy to look at your hypothesis.

I would submit an alternate hypothesis - that in the range of scientific opinion freely available across this subject, there are diverse opinions about the what, when, how and why of climate change and there is, and should be debate. It is misleading to present the scientific consensus as a homogenous 'believalist' group, but it is just as misleading to say that where there is agreement, this isn't based on evidence. 

And this gets me back to this idea of consensus. Firstly, laws and theories in science are based on what is (almost if you ask some quantum physicists) consistent and indisputable evidence. Beyond that, there is scientific opinion which forms the basis of many things in which public money is invested for the general good, including some medical treatments, agricultural practices, bushfire prevention, space travel, the list goes on.

To say something is based on scientific consensus is not an insult. Scientific consensus is difficult achieve, especially such a strong consensus as that which we now have on climate change, and it is based on evidence! If you want us to wait until there is a Law or a Theory of Climate Change before we do anything about it, then you are asking more of science than it is capable at this point in time. And time, scientists have agreed (based again on evidence) is the critical factor here.

Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 13:26

Excellent article by Wendy Bacon.

Science is about critically testing potentially  falsifiable hypotheses.

In contrast, spin is anti-science in that it involves the selective  use of asserted facts to support a partisan position.

The Murdoch media use spin and exploits the inherent scepticism of science  to contradict  the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is serious, man-made and requires urgent action.

In contrast to the Murdoch nedia we have, for example, the US National Academy of Sciences which is one of the most prestigious scientific organizations in the world. Members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine. New members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and continuing achievements in original scientific research (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Academy_of_Sciences ).

A 2010 Open Letter by 255 members of the US National Academy of Sciences, including11 Nobel Laureates stated in relation to climate change action: “Delay is not an option” (2010 Open Letter by 255 members of the US National Academy of Sciences, “Open Letter: climate change and the integrity of science”, Guardian, 6 May 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/06/climate-science-open-letter  ).

Sensible people around the world should  Boycott Murdoch media for its anti-Humanity,  pro-war, climate change denialist, war criminal and climate criminal lying  (see “Boycott Murdoch Media”: https://sites.google.com/site/boycottmurdochmedia/ ).

And while they are at it , decent people should also boycott the anti-Humanity,  pro-war, climate change denialist, war criminal and climate criminal Coalition and their obscene ilk (see Gideon Polya, “120 reasons why Australians must vote 1 Green & put the Coalition last”, Countercurrents, 8 November 2013: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya081113.htm ).

Brad Keyes
Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 14:18


You revealed everything there is to know about your (encyclopedic lack of) scientific training when you said,

And the weight of that evidence is 97% to 3%.

You were clearly attempting an allusion to the purported 97% consensus among [respectable, decent, legitimate, well-bred, noble, &c. &c.] climate scientists.

(By the way, it's obvious to everyone that you're playing fast and loose with the scope of this claim when you suddenly pretend to be referring to IPCC scientists only. That manoeuvre is as pointless as it is disingenuous. Stop it.)

No scientist would be caught dead passing off a 97% consensus as a corresponding "weight of evidence."

In science, you aren't allowed to get opinion and evidence mixed up.

In science, a sacred and inviolate wall stands between evidence and opinion. All of science rests on this wall. The division is as fundamental to science as the division between church and state, or between drinking water and human faeces, is to modern civilization.

You're (therefore) not in science.

You may be an extremely well-intentioned, nice person (in which case I apologise for any snarkasm I may have introduced into the dialogue); you may even be an extremely well-read and well-informed person for all I know; but your education does not include Scientific Reasoning 101. (Don't feel bad about this—the great majority of educated people have no scientific education.)

It's impossible to overstate how obvious this is from your comments.

Have a great weekend.


Brad Keyes
Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 14:28


to put it another (hopefully less snarkastic) way, your claim that

... the weight of that evidence is 97% to 3%.

functions as a shibboleth. Nobody in science would ever sit in front of a keyboard and type that clause. Ever. In a million years.

Again, I apologise if I came down too hard on you. Just because you have no scientific training it doesn't follow that you're an unworthy, unintelligent or even uneducated person. Some of my best friends are unscientific.

Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 15:55

Brad, I have no need to prove to you that I am a scientist and have a depth of knowledge which sufficiently qualifies me to discuss this subject. I prove this in my work every day. Your attempt to discredit the person rather than the argument is the kind of obfuscation which does not help the progress of any discussion of this issue.

You also seem to playing rather loosely with semantics, but I'm going to play along for a moment. Let's say the empirical data on climate change (or on any subject for that matter) is a set of observable, measurable facts. Before we approach this data, as we are yet to draw conclusions from it, the score in the climate change debate is 0-0. This is because it is not yet 'evidence' in the true sense of its scientific definition at all, as it has not yet been used to prove any hypothesis.

Then we begin to study the data and draw conclusions from it. We do this either by starting with a hypothesis and gathering data, testing and retesting results to prove this, or we may also be led by the data away from our original hypothesis to new conclusions. Either way, this process takes what was originally raw data and gives it weight as evidence on the basis that it supports a hypothesis.

Therefore, if 97% of climate scientists come to the conclusion that anthropogenic causes of global warming are real and 3% don't, and it is these scientists who have given this data weight by presenting it as evidence of either hypothesis, then "the weight of the evidence" or the weight given to the data to make it evidence, IS 97% to 3% in favour of anthropogenic causes of climate change. Of course, there may be other data out there that, at this stage, because it is not considered reliable or consistent enough to support any conclusion, is still just data and not evidence.

The other semantic issue seems to be this idea of opinion and consensus. Consensus really just means a majority (in this case a significant majortity) of scientists agree in their conclusions or opinions based on the evidence. 'Consensus of opinion' is a more concise way of saying this but there is the underlying assumption that it is based on sound evidence and not, say, astrology, divination or reading chicken entrails. Most of your medical treatment is derived from consensus based on evidence - until, of course, new conclusions are drawn which overturn current practices.

So, evidence is the basis for scientific opinion, which then informs action. The only time there is what you call a wall between opinion and evidence is if the opinion deliberately ignores inconvenient data, (see Monckton) because they do not like the evidence presented to them and opine in direct contrast to all facts presented to them. This is then not science.

I really hope this clears up the semantic argument you're sidetracking us all on. There are further garden paths we could go down together, including the hotly debated area of the nature of the scientific method itself, but it is obscuring the real issue, which my initial post in response to Riley was about...

WHICH IS THIS - reporting in Australian newspapers has given disproportionate coverage to the minority of voices (scientists and laypeople) who deny anthropogenic causes of climate change and the need for effective action on this issue. Instead, this minority (probably because they are in a minority - it wasn't the case 50 years ago when it was the other way round) want it dealt with not as scientific issue but as a 'political' issue. They believe each 'opinion' should be given equal time and equal weight. despite the fact  that the consensus of scientific opinion, which is based solely on evidence, is 97% to 3%.

However, the reporter in this instance, and many of us, feel it is important to at least point out that where the scientific consensus stands in EVERY article dealing with the issue, rather than pretending it doesn't and giving readers the false impression that it's a 50/50 proposition. I'm sure you wouldn't argue that the same equal weighting should be given to homeopathic treatments of life-threatening cancers, for example.

And, for the record, I never said I was referring only to the thousands of climate scientists who inform the IPCC reports. I was merely referring you to one source of many which you seem to have ignored, where scientists have expressed the need to do something about climate change. So, this was neither disingenous or pointless. Hope you get time to look it up.


Riley Hunter
Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 16:25

I think discussing climate change is a worthy pursuit, but only because it is probably the biggest fraud of my 50yr lifetime and I really think it needs to be knocked on the head (and I don't mean it's "probably" wrong - it's definitely wrong, and there's probably not a bigger fraud).  

Can I suggest that we drop discussing the 97%/3% thing because it really doesn't constitute evidence?  In fact the 97% number that is quoted is not even correct, but it doesn't matter.  Even if we assume it is correct, hell, even if it was 100%, it still wouldn't constitute evidence of the theory being correct.  I can tell from the posts that some of you find it difficult to grasp this idea, but it is nonetheless true.  Maybe it would help if you consider all the things throughout history that 99% of the scientists thought were correct but turned out not to be - for instance alchemy, witches (along with burning them), earth flat, earth being centre of universe, the ether, global cooling (may still turn out to be correct??).  

If you want to have a sensible debate about whether someone's theory is correct you really need to look at the actual evidence.  If any of you here are basing your support on the fact that 97% of climate scientist agree with this theory, then you should probably stop writing because you don't have anything to add one way or the other.  

There was a slight variation on the above in one of the posts, which went along the lines of, '97% of climate scientists agree, and their agreement is based on evidence'.  This masquerades as an evidence-based argument but it is smoke and mirrors because it is just the same 97% argument.  For instance, if that is the case, then please tell us what that evidence is?

So, let's get into a real discussion here about the evidence.  It's easy for me, because I don't think there is any.  Logically therefore, it is up to the rest of you to tell us what the actual evidence is that supports the conclusion.  I (and I think also Brad) will be happy to explain to you why your evidence does not support the AGW conclusion, and if you are smart enough you will consider these points, as well as your own, and form a view.

One final thing.  I am quite happy to be wrong.  If anyone can put evidence in front of me that supports the AGW theory, then I'll be happy to jump on board.  I have no preference for this being right or wrong.  I just don't care about that.  My beef is that 1) a huge number of people hold an almost fanatical belief in something that seems to me to be completely false; and 2) normally I wouldn't care about that (ie I don't care about scientologists or those people that every few years think the world is going to end on 31 December) but in this case huge amounts of my tax money are being wasted on politicians and scientists talking about this, not to mention the numerous rules and taxes that are being foist upon me.

And just one more thing, to digress slightly, re the 97% consensus.  Are you all aware that there was no such thing as a "climate scientist" until AGW theory came about?  There were no climate scientists in universities and there were no climate science or environmental science degrees until after AGW theory.  "Climate science" is a faculty, if you can call it that, which was invented for the sole purpose of studying and teaching AGW theory.  How many climate scientists do you think are going to disagree with climate science?  Every time I hear someone say "97% of climates scientists agree blah blah blah climate change" I just think it is the stupidest thing I've ever heard.  It's exactly the same as saying 97% of Keynesian economists agree with Keynes' general theory, or 97% of marxists economists agree with Das Kapital, or even 97% of priests believe in god.  It's the same when I hear that only "climate scientists" are qualified enough to comment on climate change theory.  What a load of bullshit that is.  Its like arguing that only priests are qualified enough to comment on the question of whether god exists.

Cheers, Riley

Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 17:28

Hi, Riley

I'm going to address your spurious fraud claims, and others by referring you to the literature.

1) At least one peer-reviewed surveyof climate scientists - 'Expert Credibility in Climate Change' in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the USA supports the figure of 97% to 98%. Others say it's more, others say it's less. See http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/06/04/1003187107.full.pdf+html

And it does matter what they think because they are basing their claims on evidence. This is not smoke and mirrors. This is how science works. Conclusions are reached by scientists based on data. Scientists repeat each others' experiments and critique each others' conclusions until the weight of evidence leans one way or another. In this case it's more than leaning. It's more conclusive than for a lot of other scientific hypotheses you probably hold to be true.

2) There is plenty of evidence - apart from the IPCC reports, which bring together a whole lot of this evidence in one place, including many peer-reviewed studies based on the evidence, look at studies by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Meterological Society, the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union, among others.

Look at Gerald R North 'More Evidence of Anthropogenic Influence on Climate Change. See http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/09/25/1316025110.full.pdf+html

For critiques of the most common arguments against the 97%'s position, see the Skeptical Science website at http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php.

Click on the links on this page which will take you to the statistical evidence that proves that your position is false.

3) Anyone can study climate science, as long as they are intelligent enough to do so. There is no survey taken of students before enrolling about what their position is on the subject. And like other scientists, they are taught to be critical and to question. Climatology, climate science, has been around for a LONG time.The data proving  anthropogenic global warming was around a LONG time ago, but it has, as it should have, taken a while to firm up and for scientists to test its veracity as evidence. So, the idea you are presenting that climate science is a closed shop is kind of cute and funny, but untrue.

The point is the evidence is out there and I think you know that. If you choose not to believe it, that is up to you and all science thrives on skepticism, if only to help strengthen the research and conclusions reached. So, thank you.

I am also happy to be proven wrong, if it's done based on evidence. In fact, I think the onus of proof is on those who are critical of the majority position. In the meantime, I think reporting should reflect this scientific consensus more clearly, rather than presenting it as something that's still 50/50 and in the balance. Let's move on from this constant back and forth and take action.

Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 17:49

Oh, and for your 97% figure, also see the peer-reviewe article - 'Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in the Scientific Literature', which, among other things, shows in a review of papers by scientists which talk about AGW from 1991 to 2011, 97.1% endorse the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. It's freely available at: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024

It also contains links to some of the actual articles containing this evidence, rather than me listing a whole lot more here.

Happy reading! Hope you do follow this up.

Brad Keyes
Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 17:57

the hotly debated area of the nature of the scientific method itself

Hotly debated by philosophers, perhaps.

The only scientists who seem to be struggling to come to grips with the scientific method are climate researchers. The rest of the scientific world knows perfectly well that an utterance like the following (to take one example among many) is incompatible with the vocation and profession of science:

"Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?"

This very stupid question answers itself... unless you're a climate scientist, evidently.

Your attempt to discredit the person rather than the argument is the kind of obfuscation which does not help the progress of any discussion of this issue.

Tut tut. What was I thinking? The climate debate isn't supposed to get personal.

The other semantic issue seems to be this idea of opinion and consensus.

Issue? It's not an issue for me. It's actually rather simple. You either accept the semantics of English (according to which consensus is defined as majority opinion, period) or you deny the dictionary. It is, as they say, a free country, so go ahead: keep making up your own meanings, but don't expect the rest of us to speak your idiolect.

the consensus of scientific opinion, which is based solely on evidence

Don't be absurd. Scientists are mammals, not abaci.

I'm sure you wouldn't argue that the same equal weighting should be given to homeopathic treatments of life-threatening cancers, for example.

What does that sentence even mean? How does one give "weighting" to a treatment?

Perhaps you meant "...should be given to evidence for the efficacy of homeopathic treatments of ..." etc.?

If so, you'd be quite wrong. Of course the media should give any such evidence equal weighting if it existed. Which, as far as I know, it doesn't.

The most amusing part is that one of us already has reposed his or her faith in homeopathic treatments for bad weather, and it ain't me. Of course, if you should ever manage to locate evidence for the efficacy of tweaking a couple of hundred parts per million of life-giving gas in the Earth's atmosphere, rest assured that your humble correspondent shall be the most ardent advocate of your entitlement to full "weighting" in the airing of said evidence, no pun intended.

'Consensus of opinion' is a more concise way of saying this


"Concise?" Hardly. It's tautological.

Instead, this minority [...] want it dealt with not as scientific issue but as a 'political' issue.

Do "they" really? (And how did you come across this information?)

I don't!

The truth or falsehood of the proposition of dangerous anthropogenic global warming cannot be decided except by science.

The perverse, audacious irony here is that it's you folk—not us folk—who think a vote can tell us something about the future of the Earth's liquid envelope!

Newsflash: it can't. Not even if the result was Iraq-grade, 99.9% unanimity.

I've never had to explain something so elementary to a "scientist" before.

Brad Keyes
Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 18:03

Or fluid envelope, for that matter... D'oh!

Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 19:21


- "Hotly debated by philosophers, perhaps.

The only scientists who seem to be struggling to come to grips with the scientific method are climate researchers."

Anyone worthy of calling themselves a scientists should constantly question their methodology and process to ensure it is rigorous to avoid misinterpretation of evidence. This is not philosophy. It's fundamental to science.

- "consensus is defined as majority opinion, period"

Yes, so the scientific consensus is the majority opinion of scientists, period, which is based on years of scientiic research and evidence, period. By playing games with the word 'opinion' you are trying to discredit what is, in fact, backed up by sound evidence.

The consensus of opinion IS based on evidence. Once again, you have failed to prove otherwise.

- "The climate debate isn't supposed to get personal."

Not if you want to discuss it properly, which you evidently dont.

- "Scientists are mammals, not abaci."

True, which explains why, when their genuine concerns, based on evidence, are ignored, they're getting angry. You're going to see a lot more of this in the near future.

homeopathic..."How does one give "weighting" to a treatment?"

To understand things you read, you need to look at the context. This comment was in a paragraph about the media and the weighting it gives to two sides of a scientific argument. The majority of scientific research proves homeopathic treatments are largely ineffective, in the same way as the majority of scientific research proves that AGW is real. It was an analogy. If you think that the opposing view should be given air-time in climate change, why not give air-time to all fringe scientific opinions, like homeopathy? It's your call.




- "The truth or falsehood of the proposition of dangerous anthropogenic global warming cannot be decided except by science."

I think you've missed the boat here because it pretty much already has been decided. Happy to change my mind if the evidence changes it, but until then...

- "The perverse, audacious irony here is that it's you folk—not us folk—who think a vote can tell us something about the future of the Earth's liquid envelope!

Newsflash: it can't. Not even if the result was Iraq-grade, 99.9% unanimity.

I've never had to explain something so elementary to a "scientist" before.

You're setting up a straw man here. You have lumped me in with this fictitious group of people who you think the reality of AGW can be decided by a vote, so that you can once again put yourself in the patronising position of "explaining" something to me. The 97% figure wasn't done by vote but by an audit of peer-reviewed literature on the subject from 1991 to 2011.

If you were really interested in having a sensible discussion about this, you would go to http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024 and you would see this.

I don't actually think, though, you want to discuss the issue here but are in the business of trying to give the impression there is more than a very small percentage of scientists who doubt that AGW is real. Unless your next post deals with this and with the freely available evidence of AGW, I'm not going to waste my time answering any more personal attacks or semantic arguments.

Do some reading.


Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 19:45

It's interesting that the discussion on this article has regressed back to the old "Is man-made global warming real?" debate.

It's partly my fault for biting, but I feel like I need to at first be courteous enough to respond to people, no matter how rude they've been to me, and to point out falsehoods which might otherwise go unquestioned.

However, what often ends up happening is this - a false impression is given that there actually IS still a debate with equal amounts of evidence on each side going on in the scientific community, when this is not the case. This impression can then lead to problems in popular media coverage such as those pointed out in the original article.

I apologise if this discussion has hijacked what should have been a far more reasonable look at what's happening in the media around this issue and how it can be rectified.


Brad Keyes
Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 20:38

The 97% figure wasn't done by vote but by an audit of peer-reviewed literature on the subject from 1991 to 2011.

It's a survey of opinion either way, and is therefore beneath scientific contempt.

I don't actually think, though, you want to discuss the issue here but are in the business of trying to give the impression there is more than a very small percentage of scientists who doubt that AGW is real.

You guess wrong. I'm not in any "business," and if I were it wouldn't be that of fomenting incredulity concerning AGW!

Particularly since I find the evidence for AGW reasonably good.

Unless your next post deals with this and with the freely available evidence of AGW,

I'm not sure how to help you here, given that said evidence appears reasonably good.

It's interesting that the discussion on this article has regressed back to the old "Is man-made global warming real?" debate.

Well, if you ask me—which, for whatever reason, you omitted to do—the "case" for the affirmative  is reasonably good. But one has to wonder why people like you have failed to articulate it better to people like Riley.

If I were you and I deeply concerned myself with the innerly-held climatological convictions of people I've never met, I'd drop the whole consensus fallacy. Immediately, if not sooner. If Riley is scientifically literate then he's trained to read the "97-3" manoeuvre as a declaration of evidentiary bankruptcy (and for good reason). While I don't share Riley's low estimate of the evidence for AGW, I can see why plenty of smart people do.

Brad Keyes
Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 21:04

PS: just to be clear, I haven't actually read Riley's comments (beyond the glance necessary to establish which of the two broad "sides" Riley is on), and I probably won't make time to do so. His argument might be lethally brilliant, but I'll never know because there simply isn't very much to be gained epistemically from reading material confirmatory of one's existing position on the question in question. (And the question in question here is not "Is man-made global warming real?")

Brad Keyes
Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 21:22

PPS I missed this question:

If you think that the opposing view should be given air-time in climate change, why not give air-time to all fringe scientific opinions, like homeopathy? It's your call.

I don't think any air-time should be given to any scientific opinions.

It's left to the reader as an exercise to figure out why not.

Finally, to give credit where it's due, this was a noble thing to write:

Anyone worthy of calling themselves a scientists should constantly question their methodology and process to ensure it is rigorous to avoid misinterpretation of evidence. This is not philosophy. It's fundamental to science.

In fact it's one of the better definitions of "skepticism" (in the proper sense of the word) that I've come across.

Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 21:38


Apologies for accidentally lumping you in with AGW doubters. I am responding to debates with a number of people and on a number of forums and have misfired here.

I think we're butting heads on terminology still - to do with the word consensus and the defintion of this word which implies 'mere' opinion. To talk about this in a purely PR sense for a second, I agree that it's a hard sell to scientists if you're marketing it by packaging it as consensus of opinion as the implication there is that it isn't evidence-based and that's never going to fly. But scientists aren't the target market. They're already in agreement, remember.

The scientists who are in overwhelming agreement are trying to 'sell' this to governments and bureacrates who love words like 'consensus' because they imply a lack of credible and troublesome opposition. But if you go beyond the PR to what this consensus and these so-called opinions in this consensus are based on, it's still evidence. And I think, because you have looked carefully at the case for the affirmative, you DO understand this.

Consensus is merely a way of saying, "Look, there are this many people studying climate change data and 97% of them are saying the data is evidence of man-made global warming." As I said before, consensus is one word, that was over 20 words. The consensus isn't just a bunch of people in a room, nodding their heads with no evidentiary basis for doing so.

Re the article on the iopscience site, for which I provided the link, this is not just survey of opinion but a compilation of the conclusions, based on evidence, of climate scientists - that's how the figure was arrived it. If you read the study, you will see that. You will also see that the authors were contacted to reaffirm they still supported their original conclusions and the figure was even slightly higher. Each of the scientists that made up that 97% used evidence in their own peer-reviewed scientic papers to reach a conclusion that AGW was a reality. Also, as I've already pointed out, thousands of climate scientists contribute their research to the IPCC reports, which inform their conclusions too. I think the difference is because of the use of the term consensus, this screams to you that they're merely opinions, implying they are not factually based, which is not the case at all.


So, perhaps scientists need to stop calling it a consensus, but in the meantime, do you think you have it in you to look beyond that at what it really is, widely held, evidence-based scientific conclusions. In the meantime, I'll have a word with my co-conspirators and see what we can do about changing the bumper stickers. :)




Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 22:04

Brad Keyes your another over educated or maybe just too opininated to be well enough read, individual.


economics has the same problem too many boy wonders and not enough experts.


Man and WMD's will kill a lot of humans before nature has a go at removing what God could not. Its just humans making money, one way or the other. 


Benice is right, this article was/is about the Media and the media have always lied, so have Historians and Economists..  

Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 22:19


First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you.

Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 22:53

Benice, I admire the way in which you patiently and lucidly explain your position. I'm not sure why you bother: speaking to closed minds never works - some people should not be allowed to learn big words. I'll keep your explanations as a handy reference.


Riley Hunter
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 00:24

I know the original question was not whether AGW is correct or not, but rather, whether one side should be given less air-time, the implication being, because it's not right.  I might agree with you that something that is obviously wrong and stupid should not be given equal air-time up against opposing ideas that are more solidly established.  However, I hope you can see that having this discussion in a general sense is one thing, but having this discussion about anything specific automatically assumes the the premise on which it is based.  It is for this reason that this discussion must head back to whether AGW it correct or not.  I guess you have all heard about the medieval debate about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

Also, I hate to labour the point, but I don't think anyone is arguing that climate scientists don't base their work on evidence (or at least, what they think is evidence).  My point is that counting the number of climate scientists that agree is not itself evidence.  If we are going to have this discussion at all it needs to be on the level of the evidence and not on the level of how many climate scientists agree.  If you don't want to, or can't, have the discssion on that level, then that's fine with me.

Brad Keyes
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 00:27


Thanks for that considered reply. I don't mind being lumped in with AGW deniers at all—it's just a bit confusing, since I'm not one.

I think we're butting heads on terminology still - to do with the word consensus and the defintion of this word which implies 'mere' opinion.

The word 'mere' is your own. Opinion is opinion. Evidence is evidence. Opinion is not evidence.

I am responding to debates with a number of people and on a number of forums and have misfired here.

I know the feeling. In case it helps, you shouldn't take my arguments personally. The nature of the medium dictates that I'm not really debating you, however much I'd like to—I'm debating a statistical construct (The Average Believalist or something close to it). :-D

Each of the scientists that made up that 97% used evidence in their own peer-reviewed scienti[fi]c papers to reach a conclusion that AGW was a reality.

I'm afraid this is the part where you plural do yourselves something of a disservice.

I've already stipulated the existence of actual, physical, material evidence for AGW. Why, then, would you commend this sort of psephological quasi-evidence to my (finite) attention?

Hang on—before you answer: no matter how perfect the justification you're about to give me is, do you not agree that intelligent onlookers are likely to have read what you're doing as a bit of a retrograde gambit? After all, valid science has never needed to use consensualist rhetoric before; indeed, the adoption of the modern scientific method itself was supposed to make social proof in general (and the Argument from Peer Pressure in particular) unnecessary. In the experience of the aforementioned intelligent onlooker, few if any historical precedents are available for such tactics within science (and I'm thinking here of the behavior associated with "Soviet" genetics and anti-tectonicism), and these examples happen to have an interesting feature in common, don't they? Namely: it seems that whenever "scientists" resort to consensualist tactics it's because they're wrong on the science. If the physical evidence had been on their side, these "scientists" presumably wouldn't have had to resort to deploying non-evidence, would they?

Now, I'm the first person to admit the possibility that maybe, for whatever reason, it's Completely Different this time 'round.

But that is hardly the default assumption, is it? One doesn't have to be a "skeptic" by nature, or even a cynic, let alone a "conspiracy theorist," to deduce (correctly or otherwise) that Oreskes, Cook and their ilk have vandalized the sacred conceptual partition between evidence and opinion for pretty much the same reason Lysenko and his sponsors did: id est, they don't have any real evidence.

(And remember, I say this as somebody who acknowledges that evidence for AGW exists, even if there's no physical reason to worry about it as far as I can tell.)

Oh, and:

Please don't say, "well, the deniers started it." The existence of the Oregon Petition is no excuse for the existence of Oreskes04 or Cook13. The former was and is a straightforwardly  political expediency. Because of certain defects in the Western education syllabus, politicians and legislators are scientifically illiterate as a rule, so they can't parse actual evidence about the natural world. They require in its stead a whole bunch of signatures before they'll take a view seriously. No, that's not an adequate substitute—not even close—but it is the traditional way of getting your congressman's attention, for better or worse.

There is, though, a radical difference between what the OISM did and what Oreskeites do: namely that nobody tries to pass off the Oregon petition as evidence about nature. Nobody pretends it's anything other than, well, a petition.

No, wait, I really oughtn't start a sentence with the word "nobody" when it comes to the climate debate, in which apparently no fatuity is too fatuous; it's virtually inevitable that someone, at some point, has attempted to pass the petition off as evidence regarding the climate. But the point is that they shouldn't have, should they? Because it's not, is it? And if anybody took them seriously, they shouldn't have. And if I'd caught a so-called skeptic committing a fallacy in this genre, I'd have excoriated them just as excoriatingly as I excoriate Oreskeites.

More importantly perhaps, we're supposed to be adults. And—as adults know—two wrongs don't make a right.

You don't really have to reply unless you think you omitted something. Feel free to let your last comment stand for the time being. I've read it a few times and I'm just not grokking it—or not grokking it yet—and I suspect that's due to some unidentified, primitive disconnect between our worldviews—a disconnect which further argumentation will probably do little to elucidate. So, absent any burning esprit d'escalier, you might as well leave me to try to make sense of the things you've already written. It could take a while :-)

(PS I doubt it's a political disconnect; I'd be surprised if you were measurably further to the "left" than I am.)



Brad Keyes
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 00:48

I accidentally read Riley's last comment.

It's really good, especially the closing paragraph.

Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 01:04

Happy to let it stand for now too. Thanks for correcting my spelling mistakes too. :) To be honest, have only skimmed your last reply as I'm a bit sleepy now. Tomorrow, maybe.

The only thing that jumped out at me, that I offer as a kind of reassurance, if anything, is that the claim of, or search for, consensus in this instance at least, is probably not an indication that the science is wrong. I really think that climate scientists' use of the idea of consensus has a tactical purpose in this instance.

For scientists who DO believe urgent action is necessary, there is a monumental battle ahead to bring governments of all political persuasions, the developing world, business, as well as what can often be a reluctant middle class in wealthier nations, along with them, and it's not enough just for the science to be right.

Anyway, thanks for listening.

Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 01:24

And Riley (and Brad who said you liked his last paragraph), I hate to labour this point too, but it's not "counting scientists." Across all peer-reviewed published work by climate scientists from 1991 to 2011, 97% used evidence to link climate change to man-made causes.

The evidence is presented in the individual papers of each of these climate scientists for anyone to see. Quantifying the percentage of climate scientists drawing similar conclusions from this evidence is not the 'evidence' itself. However, it is still extremely significant to this particular avenue of scientific research that 97% of scientists are drawing this conclusion from the evidence.

On a micro level, if 20 of my colleagues run the same tests and come up with the same data and 19 of them come to the same conclusion, I think that 19 out of 20 figure is significant. If I am tested by 20 doctors for a particular illness and 19 out of 20 present the same diagnosis, I'm not only going to be very wary of the reliability of the 20th, but, again, would see this 19 out of 20 figure to be significant.

To say that this is irrelevant and that we need to start a new discussion based on evidence, when one has already been going on for years in this area, is a furphy. Riley, I've already presented you with a number of sources for evidence to prove my position. And there are plenty more at your fingertips, through whatever device you're now using. It is freely available and in abundance.

The onus, though - considering the overwhelming evidence which already exists to prove AGW - is on you to prove otherwise. I am happy to have an evidence-based discussion with you if you want to now reciprocate with evidence to prove your assertions as I'm quite sure they will be the same arguments repeatedly refuted by climate scientists the world over. However, I suspect it's actually you who can't or won't have that discussion because you would have already presented such evidence previoiusly. But, go on, surprise me.

Brad Keyes
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 02:08

A pleasure, Benice!

And in case I haven't mentioned this, I regret any false assumptions (though they seemed for all the world like deductions at the time!) I made about you personally earlier. Next time I'll exercise a bit more autoskepticism.

For scientists who DO believe urgent action is necessary, ...

Just out of curiosity—and without legitimising in any way the use of consensualist, opinion-based or belief-based discourse in science—I'm compelled to ask you:

1. What proportion of scientists do you reckon "believe urgent action is necessary"?

2. Assuming that your answer is less than 100%—less than 97%, in fact—how do you explain the gap, keeping in mind your (fairly adamant, if I may say so) assurances that scientific opinion is entirely evidence-based?

3. Why does believalist discourse place such monotonous emphasis on the "97%" statistic, when this pertains only to the comparatively weak belief in AGW simpliciter, instead of citing the (necessarily lower) percentage in favor of the proposition which actually matters—i.e. the proposition that AGW is a serious threat?

4. Do you consider said emphasis honest?

Brad Keyes
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 02:10

(Our comments crossed. I now see your latest reply.)

Brad Keyes
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 02:45

I hate to labour this point too, but it's not "counting scientists."

True, I suppose—technically, Cook et al used the (equally novel and equally inane) methodology of counting papers instead.

Quantifying the percentage of climate scientists drawing similar conclusions from this evidence is not the 'evidence' itself.

Well that's good to hear, because what people believe is not a form of evidence in science*, and cannot under any circumstances be used as such, according to the most fundamental rules of science.

[*Except, obviously, in the science that deals with human beliefs, which is called psychology—not climatology.]

However, it is still extremely significant to this particular avenue of scientific research

Ah, I see. It's not evidence, yet at the same time it's "extremely significant," the closest thing to a debate-changing A-bomb the Affirmative team has, worth at least one doctoral award, and worth talking and talking about non-stop.

If you don't mind my saying so, you are simultaneously using it as evidence, and denying that you're using it as evidence.

I'm sorry to have to put it like that, but that's as euphemistic as I can possibly be. If you're quoting a figure in order to win an argument, you're using it as evidence. Paying lip-service to the fact that it's not evidence cannot change that.

that 97% of scientists are drawing this conclusion from the evidence.

But a few seconds ago you said they hadn't counted scientists. You said, if I recall correctly, that you hated "laboring the point," but that it was not a matter of "counting scientists." Yet here you are, making a claim about the quantity of scientists who believe something.

I'm confused.

No—on second thoughts, you're confused.

Brad Keyes
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 03:15

Oh, and if you just learn one thing today, please let it be this:

medical diagnosis is not an example of science.

Medical diagnosis is (literally) an art. In other words it is a skill, craft or technology.

I'm sure the cancer-diagnosis "analogy" seems to make a kind of sense, and it's a perennial favorite of some climate consensualists, but it's utterly spurious.

For a reductio, you may as well ask your interlocutor to imagine that 9 out of 10 chick sexers in a chick-sexing plant agreed on the sex of a chick. What would that have to do with climate science? Chick sexers are not scientists—and neither is your local doctor.


Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 03:40

brad, not confused here. Either you really are adopting the straw man tactic, deliberately misrepresenting my position, claiming I am saying something I'm not and then arguing about how ridiculous this fictitious argument YOU'VE created is or you REALLY don't get how simple it is, in which case perhaps you're confused.

So, let's go through it step by step.

1. Climate scientists publish peer-reviewed papers over a long period of time about AGW, based on evidence.

2. Cook et al, publish a paper which shows that of those published papers in step 1, 97% presented evidence and the conclusion that AGW is real.

So, step 1 is where we find there is evidence for AGW. Step 2 is where we prove that the evidence is overwhelming. It's as simple as this.

I believe you can already see thsi difference - at least I hope you do. Where you are being dishonest is to try and confuse this issue in the minds of other readers. For this reason, I am not going to indulge you any further as you clearly have no intention of having a sensible discussion on this subject.

And if you don't already see this difference, then this discussion is the least of your worries and I wish you luck untangling the obviously confused threads of your thought processes.


Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 03:57

If you are unaware of the way in which scientists and the scientifc method are used specifically in tissue diagnosis with many cancers and other diseases, then I would be happy to clarify this for you.

It is a wild generalisation to claim that doctors are not scientists. Doctors have been responsible for a grea many scientific discoveries, especially and obviously in the field of anatomy and physiology, over the last 500 years. Our friend Galileo, mentioned earlier, started off studying medicine although he drifted into maths and geometry.

There is nothing spurious about the doctor/cancer analogy from this point of view, because it goes to the scientific method, whether being followed by a qualified scientist or not. The point is, even if the analogy were about plumbers, it would mean the same thing. It's about the 19 out of 20 and the evidence their opinions are based on.

I said I wasn't going to bother anymore but this comment caught my eye as I was logging out. But, if anything, it once again shows why it is not worth having this discussion with you anymore.

Brad Keyes
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 04:39

It is a wild generalisation to claim that doctors are not scientists.

Ah! But I made no such claim!

I merely said your doctor isn't one.

(By which I meant—as any reasonable reader would have understood—simply that a doctor is not an example of a scientist.)

Put words in people's mouths much, Benice?

See? Two can play the game of Idiotic Literalism™!

If they're so inclined.

I'm not.

Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 05:47

Brad Keyes is obviously a self centred man, over educated, but not enough common sense to put it all in context for the benefit of man kind. Its all about him, realy.

You can see how and why Adolf Hitler walked out of the last League of Nations meeting and the fate of Europe and some 57 million people was sealed. Yet the main aggressor, The Yanks only ever sent 90 divisions and just bombed every one into submission or the dark ages.

The Russians commited 800 divisions which exhausted 350 odd German Divisions.

The Germans lost 14 million, 4 million civilians (Women&Children) the Russians double that.

The Americans the great so called Hero's only ever lost 407 thousand people, 5 were civilians, yet that Nation went on to become the new Empire to rape the rest of the world as well as its own Citizens.

80 years on, I listen to arguments like this by Brad Keyes, Riley Hunter and I wonder whether the arguments Hitler and all the other Clowns (and remember I said "OTHER") had were just as Egotistical, whether they had the same sort of Drop Kick argument totaly oblivious of the fact that 57 million people would soon be laying dead just because they were too stupid to get it, despite being world leaders and probably highly educated, well versed in grammar, spelling and bullshitting.

Does any of this, that peoples lives are hanging off your words and arguments about facts, consensus, mean anything to u Brad Keyes, Riley Hunter.

Have u ever wondered whether the scientists who struggled and raced to build the BOMB would do so now, knowing, what we know now.

What ego maniac brain pattern caused them to inteligently yet blindly build something that was no longer required, that Japan was already on its knees, had already offered surrender, just not unconditional.

That millions died over inteligent stupidity, because of over educated minds incapable of common decency or humility, incapable of allowing for human failings.

What did we do with all of this education in all of the subjects, nothing, we are just stuck on the Constant Loop Stupidity Cycle where history repeats because we can't even stop argueing about that despite the fact that we know that historic arguments and stupidity has killed 120 million people between 1915 and 1945, that scientific progress or medical advances have made no difference to the way or the reason we kill.

Here we are in 2013 argueing over Climate Change, not even that realy, its just so called inteligent minds clashing over meaning, consensus and whether one is capable or even should have to prove something to be perfect in an imperfect world.

Death is unavoidable, the question is how would u like to die and who and or how many should die for ur stupidity and are you deserving enough of such a sacrifice, just because u were capable of Grammar, spelling and turning lying into an art form.

People seem to admire great Orators like Churchill, Hitler and  that Maggot Roosevelt etc. Even Church Leaders yet what have they realy achieved. When, both Hitler and Churchill were Black Dogs, they suffered the same mental disorders.

Roosevelt laughed like a Mad Dog when 2800 Americans went to hell at Pearl Harbour, because that cunning dog not only got around Congress but defeated Lindenbergs very popular peace movement as well, it collapsed within minutes.

So much inteligence yet so stupid. All that over Ego, Vanity and the need to Bonk.

The shit Men go through just to be seen to be a desirable Bonk, Alpha Male. The type Women just love. Isn't that why women wear up lifting bra's sexy panties to turn their men into animals, some can and most can't.




Brad Keyes
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 07:34

Um... OK then.

So if one were forced, at gunpoint (as it were), to sum up the main point you managed to pick up from the 20th century, jackal012, it would be: The Climate: for? Or against?

And yes, I've responded to the hurtful allegations that I'm "over-educated", "too smart for my own good," and "yes, but nerd" at my personal blog—which I'm confident you'll find every bit as beguilingly-written as it is innocuously-named!

Your humble comrade,


Brad Keyes
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 07:53

PS levity aside, jackal012, I enjoyed your post and can genuinely say I learned more from it than from any of Benice's. I would, however, advise against competing with me for the title of who detests war, demagoguery and imperialism the most. Others have picked that fight with me and regretted it. I owned their asses.

Ken Fabos
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 08:00

Excellent article Wendy. Australia has seen the growth of a solid demographic of climate science deniers and obstructors who actually think their misunderstandings have legitimate scientific merit because of incompetent and biased media. 

I think PM Abbott is a brazen liar on climate - worse by far than any 'deception' by Gillard. He is consistently ambiguous or outright contradictory on climate, with every statement that the climate problem is real followed by a statement that it's consequences are not. He has never really explained himself or his thinking or his working assumptions on this keynote issue of his government. We don't know who he looks to or what he reads to be well informed about it. We don't know if he has ever sought out Australia's leading experts to be briefed or to clarify any questions. And no mainstream media outlet has ever required answers to questions like this. Not of him, nor of his team - and I suspect they will remain permanently unavailable to do so or else will waffle on without saying if pressed. 

I don't believe Tony Abbott when he says he accepts the climate problem is real and we need to act. I think he wants people to not believe him because having climate action's political proponents accuse him of being insincere is being used to tactical advantage, as a way to convince the hard core political opponents of action on his "side" that he is just saying what he has to to advance an obstructionist agenda. Look at his Governments actions and not it's words and it's clearly obstructionist. They are okay with a PM pretending to accept the science as long as his actions keep on clearly being those of someone who is not merely convinced it's uncertain the science is right but is someone who is certain it is wrong. 

He could explain himself, but it's more politically advantagious to not do so. He should explain himself and justify and defend his position and his intentions but  journalists don't demand it of him. It's not some imaginary political correctness line he makes a parody of toeing when he says he accept the science, but a line that when crossed requires explanation, justification and open debate. There is no PC line on this except as a political excuse for keeping the Australian public in the dark on the biggest issue of this Government's term.

I think we are yet to hear our PM  or anyone senior in his government be frank and forthcoming about what they really think, where they really stand and what they want to happen - or not happen - with respect to climate. They are treating Australians and Australia's democracy with paternalistic contempt by failing to do so.

Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 08:45

Brad Keyes point take for what it is in an imperfect world.  

Sorry to insult u my boy, but sometimes it is a nessessary evil to step past the walls of ego and vilfull ignorance.


Ken Fabos just like to add to your good post this was written for

Hockey's Bluster Will Come Back To Haunt Him By Ben Eltham

In the mean time the Titanic is still sinking, it was never unsinkable, yet Governments are still creating Priv Business opportunities to hide the ugly truth about the fact that we are ripping the guts out of the planet, our own back Yards, (that we stole of the Indiginous people 200 years a go), to make our survival possible and to make out that Industrialisation is the key to Human survival when all it did is create population explosion for the sake of consumerism to consume all the shit we dig up and what ever we make from it so as to make 8% of the worlds Population even richer. Hence all the Hypocracy about Climate change, once we are forced to accept that we are the cause, everything else in our economy is exposed as a lie, that Industrialisation was and is a Trojan Horse and we are following it like Lemmings over the cliff and it is our own ego's that keep us inprisoned, hence we have so much Pedophilia despite the Hero Parade every year for the last 80.


Does anyone want to wake up??????.

Riley Hunter
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 09:18

Benice, I think your comment "Step 2 is where we prove that the evidence is overwhelming" is a good summary of what seems to be your main point.  But, please, please consider this a little more carefully.  That statement is just logically wrong.  Step 2 is only where you prove the consensus is overwhelming (all other things being equal of course, and as I've mentioned, I don't think this 97% figure is either correct or representative of what it is put out there to support, but that doesn't matter for this).

To prove the evidence is overwhelming, you only need one paper, and it wouldn't matter if 97% of other papers disagreed with it - truth is not determined by majority vote.  I hate to be condescending, Benice, but I just don't think you are getting the point.

The other thing, Benice, is that I have read all of the stuff that you have pointed to as evidence.  My simple contention is that I don't find any of it convincing evidence for problematic anthropogenic climate change.  In fact, I don't find any of it evidence for the idea that humans have contributed one skerick to the temperature rises that we have seen.  Despite your focus on the "consensus", a discussion on the actual evidence is where the real meat is.  The rest is just noise.  Maybe this is not the right place to discuss the evidence, so that's fine too.

Jackal012, you should look up Godwin's law.



Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 09:45

OMG!! is this really where the level of debate has declined to?

There was a time when left thinkers were refreshing, progressive, independent, courageous and intelligent.

Today left thinkers believe that if anything originates from an individual it equals independent thinker = individual achievement  = own research = universal rejection based on envy = amounts to an unacceptable break from the status quo = offends agsainst the group = too much hard work to compete with = tall poppy = bad

If it originates from the mob it equals easy to hide behind = no risk of personal exposure = no need for independent hard work = no risk of isolation = no risk of personal attack based on envy = no need to show some starch or strength of character = group think = good

No bloody wonder the Right has enjoyed such gains and strides in Australian politics.

Is there not a single Leftie surviving who has the guts to stand alone on any topic?


Do you ALL have to be CLONES?

Brad Keyes
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 10:10


let's face it—the argument from consensus is a pre-scientific way of thinking about the universe. It's been obsolete for 300 years. Why has it reared its repellent head again, and why are we being so... polite about it? (Relatively, I mean!)

Riley Hunter
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 10:53

Yes, Brad, I agree with you.  You're opening up a can of worms here, for which I'm about to get lambasted for pursuing.  I think there is a difference in brain types. I'm not calling anyone stupid, but there seems to be a certain inability in some people to think in a logical scientific way about things.  I don't know how many times we need to repeat that same simple and obvious proposition - ie that the evidence needs to be assessed on its own merits and has zero to do with how many people agree.  However, Benice, for instance, doesn't seem to be able to get past this.

I'm compelled to try again... Benice, are you able to concede that during various times in history the majority of scientists have held views, that they would have at the time said were based on evidence, but that were in fact completely wrong?  That was a rhetorical question - I think you have to concede that because it just a plain fact.  It therefore follows, doesn't it, that the weight of opinion of the majority of scientists had zero bearing on whether the relevant theory was is fact correct or incorrect?  Yes?  Is there anything you disagree with so far?  If not, I think we must be there, because that's about all of it.  It's really not a difficult point.  (We can stop right there, because that really is the point, but the bit I've been inclined to carry on with in my comments is that I'm happy to get into a discussion on the actual evidence (because I know a lot about it and I can explain to you why those things you think are evidence for AGW are not in fact  evidence for it).  However, if this is not the forum for that, or if you don't want to, then that's OK with me.)