De-hypnotizing a Climate Science Zombie - Dilbert Blog

De-hypnotizing a Climate Science Zombie

I recently stumbled upon a way to nudge anti-Trump zombies off the idea that 97% of climate scientists agree with each other and Trump is on the wrong side. I’m not arguing about the accuracy of the estimate because I have nothing to compare it to. I’m only concerned that people are trusting the fate of the planet to that estimate without knowing how it was derived.

I started with a quote from this article by Lawrence Solomon. He says…

“…a much heralded claim that 97 per cent of scientists believed the planet was overheating came from a 2008 master’s thesis by a student at the University of Illinois who obtained her results by conducting a survey of 10,257 earth scientists, then discarding the views of all but 77 of them. Of those 77 scientists, 75 thought humans contributed to climate change.  The ratio 75/77 produced the 97-per-cent figure that global warming activists then touted.”

I assume the student discarded from the study the scientists who were least-involved with climate science. That seems entirely sensible, right? But I don’t know that to be the case.

But then I asked my test subject if it would be important to know the opinions of scientists in general, even if they were not directly involved in climate science. If, for example, 60% of scientists in general were skeptical of climate science, wouldn’t you want to know that? I assume scientists are better-equipped to judge other scientists, even in unrelated fields, at least compared to the public at large.

Next, I asked my test subject if he agreed with the following statement:

"The claim that 97% of scientists agree on climate science MIGHT be true, but I would need to know more about how it was derived to judge its credibility.”

He agreed it was fair.

And keep in mind that the question that generated the 97% figure was limited to whether human activity contributes to warming. Even the critics agree with that statement. Where they differ is on the predictive accuracy of the models.

Summarizing, the problems with the 97% estimate are:

1. Human-caused warming is the part upon which both sides AGREE. Humans “contribute” to warming. The disagreement is on how much, and whether it matters. That wasn’t asked.

2. We don’t know what non-climate-scientists think of the climate models. That would add to our understanding of the topic in a big way.

3. We don’t know how reliable the 97% estimate is because we don’t know enough about the methodology. And it hasn’t been repeated as far as I know.

Try this approach with climate science zombies near you and see if you can nudge them off the 97% figure. Let me know how it goes.

You might enjoy my book because 97% of climate scientists agree that it has nothing to do with climate science.