Survey Says

People continue to be swayed by what they think is popular opinion, as in the explosion of polls, surveys and social media. As Nobel prize winner, Anatole France (1844-1924, said: “[Even] if 50 million people believe a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.”

At Watts Up With That, Tom Harris writes:

PBS Frontline climate change special cites bogus ‘consensus’

Besides the obvious bias we have come to expect from most main stream media coverage of climate change, “Climate of Doubt“, aired Tuesday night on PBS’s Frontline, committed one serious mistake that can not be left unaddressed. Frontline repeatedly implied that there is an overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that our CO emissions are driving us to a global climate catastrophe. They cited 97% as the fraction of the climate science community who agreed with climate alarmism.

That number is easily dismissed. It comes from a 2009 online survey of 10,257 earth scientists, conducted by two researchers at the University of Illinois. Strangely, the researchers chose to eliminate almost all the scientists from the survey and so ended up with only 77 people, 75 of whom, or 97%, thought humans contributed to climate change….

5 responses to “Survey Says

  1. Climatologists invent all their other data, so why not invent their own ‘consensus’?

  2. Westchester Bill

    Frontline is a terrific series. But how they can not see that the consensus on climate change is mostly a consensus on there being a consensus.

    What is there a consensus about? That the world is warming? Yes until the last 15 or so years. But more importantly not about facts but about implications: If the world warms x degrees, then the oceans will rise etc. We also have a consensus that if an asteroid the size of Mount Everest hit the Earth, then we need not care about global warming.

  3. Polls are tools to shape public opinion, not gauges to measure it.

  4. If you look at Dennis Bray’s study on consensus in 2010 (“The scientific consensus of climate change revisited” in Environmental Science & Policy 13(5), Aug 2010, pp 340-350), Bray chose several studies and trended 3 dimensions of consensus over time relative to the IPCC results. He found that the “greatest” consensus being related to temperature was only 31% but that it is actually a 3 party dispute since you have those that agree with IPCC, those that think IPCC overestimates, and those that think IPCC under-estimates. What is interesting is that if you look at the by-factor distributions, it is a pretty normal curve around “4” which is neutral on the Likert scale they used. The only heavily skewed were responses to whether “some sort” of change (natural or anthropogenic). That is the only consensus I see — they all agree change is occurring, just no agreement on the cause.

  5. Unfortunately, appeal to authority is a very persuasive logical fallacy. Climate change folks basically tell everyone they are not smart enough to understand science and need a “real” scientist to do so. Then they define “real” scientist. For people who fear making their own decisions because they might make a mistake, actually believe they are too dumb to understand, etc., appeal from authority is very persuasive. Some people simply have no idea how to make a decision without an authority making it for them. Plus, if the choice turns out wrong, one can blame the authority. While we have to continue to try and educate people, getting around this argument will not be easy. (Whether it should be easy really doesn’t matter–it won’t be.)

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