The official site of bestselling author Michael Shermer The official site of bestselling author Michael Shermer

Consilience and Consensus

published December 2015
Or why climate skeptics are wrong
magazine cover

At some point in the history of all scientific theories, only a minority of scientists—or even just one—supported them, before evidence accumulated to the point of general acceptance. The Copernican model, germ theory, the vaccination principle, evolutionary theory, plate tectonics and the big bang theory were all once heretical ideas that became consensus science. How did this happen?

An answer may be found in what 19th-century philosopher of science William Whewell called a “consilience of inductions.” For a theory to be accepted, Whewell argued, it must be based on more than one induction—or a single generalization drawn from specific facts. It must have multiple inductions that converge on one another, independently but in conjunction. “Accordingly the cases in which inductions from classes of facts altogether different have thus jumped together,” he wrote in his 1840 book The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, “belong only to the best established theories which the history of science contains.” Call it a “convergence of evidence.”

Consensus science is a phrase often heard today in conjunction with anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Is there a consensus on AGW? There is. The tens of thousands of scientists who belong to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Medical Association, the American Meteorological Society, the American Physical Society, the Geological Society of America, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and, most notably, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change all concur that AGW is in fact real. Why?

It is not because of the sheer number of scientists. After all, science is not conducted by poll. As Albert Einstein said in response to a 1931 book skeptical of relativity theory entitled 100 Authors against Einstein, “Why 100? If I were wrong, one would have been enough.” The answer is that there is a convergence of evidence from multiple lines of inquiry— pollen, tree rings, ice cores, corals, glacial and polar ice-cap melt, sea-level rise, ecological shifts, carbon dioxide increases, the unprecedented rate of temperature increase—that all converge to a singular conclusion. AGW doubters point to the occasional anomaly in a particular data set, as if one incongruity gainsays all the other lines of evidence. But that is not how consilience science works. For AGW skeptics to overturn the consensus, they would need to find flaws with all the lines of supportive evidence and show a consistent convergence of evidence toward a different theory that explains the data. (Creationists have the same problem overturning evolutionary theory.) This they have not done.

A 2013 study published in Environmental Research Letters by Australian researchers John Cook, Dana Nuccitelli and their colleagues examined 11,944 climate paper abstracts published from 1991 to 2011. Of those papers that stated a position on AGW, about 97 percent concluded that climate change is real and caused by humans. What about the remaining 3 percent or so of studies? What if they’re right? In a 2015 paper published in Theoretical and Applied Climatology, Rasmus Benestad of the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Nuccitelli and their colleagues examined the 3 percent and found “a number of methodological flaws and a pattern of common mistakes.” That is, instead of the 3 percent of papers converging to a better explanation than that provided by the 97 percent, they failed to converge to anything.

“There is no cohesive, consistent alternative theory to humancaused global warming,” Nuccitelli concluded in an August 25, 2015, commentary in the Guardian. “Some blame global warming on the sun, others on orbital cycles of other planets, others on ocean cycles, and so on. There is a 97% expert consensus on a cohesive theory that’s overwhelmingly supported by the scientific evidence, but the 2–3% of papers that reject that consensus are all over the map, even contradicting each other. The one thing they seem to have in common is methodological flaws like cherry picking, curve fitting, ignoring inconvenient data, and disregarding known physics.” For example, one skeptical paper attributed climate change to lunar or solar cycles, but to make these models work for the 4,000-year period that the authors considered, they had to throw out 6,000 years’ worth of earlier data.

Such practices are deceptive and fail to further climate science when exposed by skeptical scrutiny, an integral element to the scientific process.

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45 Comments to “Consilience and Consensus”

  1. Tzindaro Says:

    “Climate change is real”and “climate change is caused by humans” are two different statements. “Climate change is caused by greenhouse gases” is a third statement that does not necessarily follow from the first two. It is entirely possible for the first two statements to be true and not the third one. The efforts cited are mostly devoted to establishing the first two statements, for which there is a great deal of evidence, but there is very little for the third, actually none at all.

    The acceptance of the third statement is not based on evidence, but on a lack of a competing theory to explain the other two. There is, in principle, no reason why the first two statements could not be correct and the third one wrong. But so far, very little effort has been made to identify or rule out any possible alternate theory of the MECHANISM by which humans are changing the climate. The greenhouse gases theory is accepted by default, for lack of any other explanation that the scientists can think of, not because there is evidence for it. In other words, it is based on ignorance, not evidence.

    And that is poor science.

  2. Rhinanthus Says:

    No evidence for the third statement? This evidence was the first to be obtained! Here is an extract from Wikipedia:

    “The existence of the greenhouse effect was argued for by Joseph Fourier in 1824. The argument and the evidence was further strengthened by Claude Pouillet in 1827 and 1838, and reasoned from experimental observations by John Tyndall in 1859.[12] The effect was more fully quantified by Svante Arrhenius in 1896.[13] However, the term “greenhouse” wasn’t used to describe the effect by any of these scientists; the term was first used in this way by Nils Gustaf Ekholm in 1901.[14][15]

    In 1917 Alexander Graham Bell wrote “[The unchecked burning of fossil fuels] would have a sort of greenhouse effect”, and “The net result is the greenhouse becomes a sort of hot-house.”[16][17] Bell went on to also advocate the use of alternate energy sources, such as solar energy.[18]”

  3. LiveFreeOrDie Says:

    If the consensus is real, why all of the well-documented fraud by climate-change advocates? Just remember the phrase “cui bono?”.

    You cannot overestimate human greed and duplicity.

  4. T Maz Says:

    “The tens of thousands of scientists who belong to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Medical Association, the American Meteorological Society, the American Physical Society, the Geological Society of America, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and, most notably, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change all concur that AGW is in fact real.”

    Baloney! I am a member of Am Chem Soc and do not believe in the religion of AGW, and I am joined by thousands or tens of thousands of other members. Objection to the ACS stance are published in Chem & Eng News almost weekly. Many prominent members of these societies have decried their society’s stance on AGW, famously including Freeman Dyson.

    The models purported to support AGW are all off by more than two sigma – and all in the same direction, too hot. With temperature plateaus from 1940-1975 and 1997-present that do not support AGW, the hypothesis should be rejected.

    Articles like this one are why your reputation has gone in the garbage.

  5. David Clumpner Says:

    It’s pretty much scientific fact that not only is the earth warming but other planets in our solar system as well.
    So what percentage is man playing in all this?

  6. Franklin Ramsey Says:

    Are the 97% waiting on the dissenting 3% to begin addressing the problem. We, the few remaining rational human beings on earth, must DO SOMETHING. What harm could come from proceeding with the correction of what is assumed to be the problem. It certainly would not make the problem worse. Reducing greenhouse gases, reducing the worldwide population, increasing clean energy are all common sense improvements to the quality of life on this planet. If it happens to reduce global warming, great!

  7. Dick Jacobs Says:

    Having treks the seven continents and observed changes that are caused by our warming earth and oceans it is quite clear that if we can engage in conduct to slow down what is happening we should. We could argue whose fault the changing earth should point to but does it matter? The point is seas are rising, the atmosphere is being polluted and now we are starting to see the first climate change “refugees,” recently rejected by New Zealand and others moving to Arkansas. I live in Florida which about to shrink dramatically as a result of sea level rise and yet politically we say “it isn’t happening.” Well it is. And it will be costly in dollars and health and conflicts. So let’s not worry about pointing fingers and denial and lets think about solutions,

  8. Mark Evans Says:

    I find the comment by T Maz to be humorous. OK, he doesn’t agree with the position of his professional organization, and alleges that thousands or tens of thousands of other members also disbelieve. Citation please. But putting aside that personal anecdote and unsupported allegation, he has no retort, credible or equally unsupported, to the analysis of research by those directly involved in the topic.

    Give me a break. Basically, the only people still clinging to the equivalent of flat earth theory are Republicans in the United States. Everyone else has appropriately long ago moved on to, “what should/can we do about it?” And BTW, that would apply whether or not it was caused by human activity. Even if it is not caused by humans, it is reasonable to examine what humans can do to mitigate and adapt. Come on, think better.

  9. Richard Martin Says:

    Tzindaro: You raise an interesting question.The mechanism must be based on the amount of incoming radiation from the sun, the amount re-radiated from the earth, the amount of the re-radiated radiation absorbed by the atmosphere, etc. I would think all those things can be measured, or calculated using the measured composition of the atmosphere. You claim that there is no evidence for the greenhouse gas theory, but do not provide any evidence to support that statement.

  10. Ernst Ghermann Says:

    97% of scientist of those that took a position on human caused warming — what about the scientist that did not take a position? What is the percentage if you include those in the statistic?
    How many of that 97% thought the human contribution is catastrophic?
    Clearly CO2 is a contributing factor and we should exert a lot more effort into developing clean, emission free, nuclear power.

  11. Richard Campbell Says:

    I am a longtime fan of Mr. Shermer, and respect his work immensely, but this article disappoints me greatly. To say that catastrophic AGW is scientifically proven is to betray an utter lack of understanding as to how science works, something I would not expect from Michael Shermer.

    A scientific hypothesis that makes incorrect predictions is obviously faulty. If no data of any kind can undermine it, then it fails the Karl Popper test of scientific theories, that of being falsifiable. AGW fanatics, who cling to their theories regardless of evidence, are religious believers, masquerading as scientists.

  12. Darth Digital Says:

    The earth has a long and consistent history of global warming and cooling, even including catastrophic (mass-extinction) warming and cooling. Whatever causes the cycles and subcycles has existed long before mankind, and the cycles will continue long after us. To blame the current climate change on human activity is patently absurd. The same would be happening with or without us.

  13. Paul Braterman Says:

    Repeating a lie does not make it true. There is, despite much perusing of stolen emails, NO “well documented fraud by climate change advocates”. NOR is there a plateau since 1997; data here: NOR is there a yawning gap between prediction and observation, NOR can data be explained without invoking CO2, and the CO2 is not ad hoc but DOES explain the data: and links theein to primary literature.

    I challenge the people who made the claims I have just refuted to give their evidence.

  14. Alvaro Ramos Says:

    Thanks for the article and comments

  15. RonJ Says:

    “For AGW skeptics to overturn the consensus, they would need to find flaws with all the lines of supportive evidence and show a consistent convergence of evidence toward a different theory that explains the data.”

    Find flaws is all? What if just 60% were found to be flawed? Or 40%? Or 90%? That would kind of turn the theory on its ear, wouldn’t it? I hardly think you have to discredit every shred of evidence for the theory to fall apart.

    And why would a “consistent convergence of evidence toward a different theory” have to be determined? What if I have no alternate theory but I can destroy yours? Does that make your theory any less wrong?

    I bring this up because I am a seeker of truth. Like you, Michael Shermer, I am convinced that global warming is real and we are contributing. But weak statements like these don’t help our cause.

  16. Terry Wall Says:

    For over twenty years I have been observing this debate, waiting for the supposed consensus of scientists and others to point out that it really doesn’t matter what potentially catastrophic impacts humankind’s wanton despoliation of the planet contribute to as it is clear that the effects must be negative on a global scale.

    As Franklin says in his comments:”What harm could come from proceeding with the correction of … the problem… Reducing greenhouse gases, reducing the worldwide population, increasing clean energy are all common sense improvements to the quality of life on this planet. If it happens to reduce global warming, great!”

    The constant arguments for action focus exclusively on AGW which gives those who, for philosophical or economic reasons wish to take no action, a single focal point against which they can argue. There are two topics that need to be addressed and there is no need to treat them as cause and effect, but to find solutions for each of them independently.

    The first is the true economic cost, both current and for decades and centuries to come, of our business and trading practices – extracting irreplaceable minerals, fouling our atmosphere, diverting and polluting waterways, transporting products vast distances, burying waste, annihilating plant life, eliminating species by consumption and habitat destruction – without obliging the producer and consumer to fund their replacement or renewal.

    The second is the shifts in climate that occur regardless of the root cause but require massive changes in the way of life and location of whole societies, which need deep consideration of probabilities and solutions, including mass migrations and population limitation.

    Each of these major areas must have reasoned debates and action that should be assessed independently of one another, taking away the need to justify the assumption that there is one cause – humans – and one effect – atmospheric overheating.

    As Mark rightly says:” Everyone else has appropriately long ago moved on to, “what should/can we do about it?” And BTW, that would apply whether or not it was caused by human activity. Even if it is not caused by humans, it is reasonable to examine what humans can do to mitigate and adapt. Come on, think better.”

    Unfortunately he is over-optimistic that everyone has moved on. But can we stop re-working the tired AGW arguments? Michael Shermer and other profound thinkers should make better use of their impressive skills that to continue to argue this increasingly irrelevant case. It reminds me inevitably of Richard Dawkins arguing the case against mythical belief systems with those whom he has absolutely no chance of convincing. It would be far more useful to promote a God-free ethical system that believers and non-believers alike, world-wide, could espouse.

    For me, this will be the last time I shall read an article on this topic as I shall be searching for pro-active discussions on the many and varied ways in which we can actively alter our behaviour to the benefit of our and future generations.

  17. Pim Says:

    Again a very poor article from Sceptic.

    The 97% consensus as mentioned in this article is nonsense. Yes, 97% is of the opinion the climate is changing and humans are a factor causing it. Only those 97% doens’t agree at all on whether this is bad anyway and what will be the consequences of it. Thats a whole different story.

    In this article, like in so many others on this topic, stating the climate changes and humans play a part in it suggests we are all DOOMED! The answer to that is, hell no! And most of the fanatic environmentalists don’t like that answer. THAT should make you think.

  18. Robert Stanley Says:

    Never have I even come close to being this disappointed by a Shermer argument. I truly don’t understand why he would weave scientific principles into a fundamentally flawed bit of data, that “97% of scientists….”

    Here is a deconstruction of Cook’s paper claiming that figure:

  19. Richard Morris Says:

    I have not yet made a decision as to how much of the climate change is due to human activities, but I do note a certain amount of emotional writing in Shermer’s piece. He cites things, such as “97% concluded…” and yet, I have not seen that 97% of scientists in the area of global warming agree. On the contrary, the percentage is much lower. Again, as he states in quoting Einstein, it only takes one. Much of what I have seen has been political (follow the power is even better than follow the money), as explained in this short item about Hollande and the Sahara actually retreating, not expanding.

  20. Larry Nocella Says:

    Another great article Mr. Shermer, well done. I’m not sure all your well thought out words will convince some. The anti-AGW crowd is very cult-like.

    To them, every bit of evidence isn’t actually evidence, but fakery… unless it supports their belief.

    Further, the recent case with Exxon Mobil likely having known about AGW and hid the fact should be a deal-breaker for any supreme “skeptic.” No such luck.

    Funny how these “skeptics” are suddenly so certain on this one topic but not so rebellious or interested in any other aspect of science. It’s almost like they were directed…! Just a lucky break for dirty energy companies, I guess. LOL

    Anyway be well!

  21. brad.tittle Says:

    My Apologies, Mr Shermer, but this article could be written from the perspective of the opposition and be just as valid.

    What observation can be made that would cause the case of AGW to be overthrown?

    There is not a single observation that can be made that is not supported by the AGW camp. If the world gets warmer? AGW/ACC/ACD. If it gets colder? AGW/ACC/ACD. IF the world get wetter… drier. If the ocean currents increase. If they decrease.

    There is not a single observation that will cause someone on the AGW side of this discussion to pause and reflect on the nature of their hypothesis.

    Wake up.

    This is not a discussion about whether the earth’s climate is changing. IT IS.

    The actual discussion is how and who will control the allocation of resources.

    The choices are really between:

    Can we make the world wealthy enough to let them adjust to climate change?

    The people who think money is what defines wealth are misguided.

    Wealth is found in things that can turn one form of energy into another form of energy.

    Money is just and indicator of ability to acquire wealth.

  22. Robert Tannenbaum Says:

    The problem is green house gases too,but has always been over-populatiom.
    That is the original problem and the cause of huge amounts of methane, like the stuff coming from the right wing brain washed irrational people supporting big coal.
    Culture wars do not determine who is right, but who is left, if anybody will be left….What if China has been the only sane country in the world?

  23. Nathan Pen Says:

    Let me add one more to your list … Piltdown Man …

  24. howard McCalla Says:

    A small but important point. I grant you the “97% who expressed an opinion…” supported globel warming. The fallacy is that we are not given the important information of what number this represents. If only 200 papers stated a position and 10,000 did not, for what ever reason, then it could be stated that 192 papers supported the proposition. Without knowing the actual number of papers supporting the conclusion, Mr Shermer is misleading (and likely wrong). This is not science. It is not even good reporting. It is furthering a potential myth. It is not that I disagree, but I believe that your on the wrong trail.
    H. McCalla, Ph.D.(env. Sc./engineering)

  25. Jamie Cawley Says:

    This article asserts an unprovable assertion, that a ‘consensus’ exists. It fails to provide the impeccable evidence skeptics require for a number of claims. This seems inappropriate under the title Skeptic.

    There are those who question aspects of the theory of AGW and their doubts are not self-evidently silly. To accept any theory while legitimate doubts remain is to lose the title ‘Skeptic’.

    I like Skeptic because it is Skeptical. Let others promote causes, rightly or wrongly, let others argue passionately for what they believe but let us try to keep a corner of the world where proof, not passion, is required.

  26. James Says:

    I was bothered by the use of “tens of thousands of scientists…” Being a scientist does not make one an expert in climatology. Anti-warming skeptics parade their “scientists” who disclaim warming. From what I read, ice is melting and the oceans are currently absorbing carbon to a saturation point. I wouldn’t buy ocean front property.

  27. Al Lowi Says:

    Regarding the AGW craze, Michael’s vaunted skepticism never shows in his Scientific American articles. I had ascribed his inconsistency to striving to live with alien editorial policies. Now it seems he is abandoning his skepticism under the banner of his own trademark umbrella.

    Incidentally, there are actually several alternative, much stronger physical hypotheses extant than AGW. One is recovery from the Little Ice Age, having nothing whatsoever to do with humans or greenhouses. This event coincident with the industrial age has caused the oceans to vomit orders of magnitude more CO2 into the atmosphere than the relatively puny human industry. Another is the reality that the 100-times more prevalent non-anthropogenic water vapor (humidity) eclipses all other greenhouse gases insofar as earth warming results.

  28. Liam McDaid Says:

    Man, this brought out a parade of obfuscating ideology masquerading as “science” from deniers and quickly too. It almost makes me buy into those conspiracies claiming that about oil companies pay people to spam websites and articles about this issue. Anybody here get their petro-check this week?

  29. Dave Bailey Says:

    The global warming deniers are following the same tactic as creationists and intelligent design advocates: invoking the ‘false dichotomy’ fallacy. Rarely, if ever, will they put forward a better idea, they will simply try to disprove the current data and claim victory.

    If global warming science is wrong, we’ll be fine. If it is correct, we are in trouble. Take yer pick.

  30. Pete Burkard Says:

    I would ask deniers a few questions. First, where do they get their information? If it isn’t from peer-reviewed climate science, it is worthless. Second, do they have any direct or indirect connection to the fossil fuel industry, even through their portfolios? Third, what is their own background in science? It is hard to evaluate something if you yourself are not informed in the field you are evaluating. Finally, I’d ask them what is wrong with a cleaner, more sustainable world, even if one leaves climate change and severe weather out of it.
    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Claiming that over 95% of climate scientists are wrong about climate change is certainly extraordinary. For a debunking of all the deniers’ screwy ideas, go to

  31. jimbeaux Says:

    I’m amazed at how catastrophic AGW skeptics are instantly accused of having been bought off by Big Oil. Why don’t the same people wanting to know the connection between a skeptic* and Big Oil also demand to know the relationship between Alarmists and Big Green?
    Skeptics are NOT just brainwashed Republicans, any more than alarmists are all brainwashed Democrats.
    *the label “Denier” is intended to belittle the skeptic and is little more than an ad hominem attack.

  32. Ken Farnsworth Says:


    “the label “Denier” is intended to belittle the skeptic and is little more than an ad hominem attack.”

    And the term “Alarmist” is intended to what? Elevate the discussion? It’s difficult to claim an ad hominem attack using an ad hominem attack. At least try to be consistent if you want a serious discussion. Those who claim that addressing AGW will cause catastrophic economic collapse are the true alarmists in my book.

  33. Craig Hof Says:

    The smug conceit of the AGW/liberal/left is repulsive. Should we accept a god because the vast majority of humans do and because its existence explains so many un-explainables?
    To start, ask a couple simple questions about earth climate. To the best of our knowledge, has earth’s climate been static or dynamic throughout history? If the climate has changed over time, what are the possible forces that have resulted in climatic change as opposed to coincident changes in factors, those correlated with climate dynamics over time but not causative?
    Are there unknown, unquantifable interactions at work? As an example of a correlated but non-causative series of factors, I invite you to inspect the time series of CO2 concentration and climate temperature popularized by Gore in which temperature increases precede CO2 increases by years.
    When we are asked to open or wallets in support of some theory we should get suspicious and push back against it. Free theories such as relativity or quantum theory don’t need the same immediate scrutiny. When you want to extract dollars from everybody, then we have the right and responsibility to remain skeptical. Don’t drink any more kool-aid, Shermer, I know I won’t.

  34. Tzindaro Says:

    Fallout of soot ( particulate matter ) from forest fires and grass fires changing the albedo of ice and snow fields is probably more important than the relatively insignificant potential greenhouse effect from CO2. Albedo is also changed by deforestation, desertification, livestock grazing, growing crops, urbanization, and impoundment of large rivers.

    There is no doubt HUMANS are behind the climate breakdown, but it is almost certain they are doing it more by other means than by CO2 from burning fuel.

    Try an experiment: First, next time it snows, when the sun comes out, spread coal dust on your front walk. See how fast the snow melts compared to snow near it with no coal dust on it. Then, set your car with the motor running near a patch of snow and direct the exhaust pipe so it is releasing CO2 into the air above the patch of snow, but not near enough for heat from the exhaust to aid in melting, and see if that snow melts any faster than a control patch.

    How many people who express opinions have ever actually done an experiment to find out the facts instead of simply choosing which expert to have faith in?

  35. Pete Burkard Says:

    I believe Mr. Shermer is a sound thinker. Having taken his course on Skepticism on cd (see The Great Courses), I think he’d agree that one can be overly skeptical. If you were diagnosed by a doctor as having a serious condition that required making an intervention or a major dietary change, would you be skeptical? Maybe once but what if a large majority of many medical specialists gave you the same verdict? I get the feeling that some on this thread would still go to a quack south of the border before accepting the wisdom of the dreaded authorities or experts. Sometimes the evidence for something is just so overwhelming that skepticism becomes foolishness, a quasi-religion almost. Mr. Hof makes an analogy of mockingly saying why don’t we just accept the existence of God because most other people do, however, there is no scientific evidence for God, extremely unlike the situation with man-caused climate change. Tzindaro says we should do our own experiments in the snow, completely disregarding the massive experimental evidence from the wisest in the field that also happens to be published and peer-reviewed. It just doesn’t happen to agree with his or her world-view. Such a thought process is just plain bizarre.

  36. Tucci78 Says:

    Paul Burkard writes: “I would ask deniers a few questions. First, where do they get their information? If it isn’t from peer-reviewed climate science, it is worthless.”

    Hm. So is Mr. Burkard’s opinion of peer review, which is pretty obviously predicated upon neither personal nor professional experience of the process of blinded peer review.

    To explain, BLINDED (“anonymized”) peer review is a fundamentally adversarial process of error-checking in which a manuscript submitted for publication is copied by the journal’s editor and distributed to two or more reviewers with both experience in the pertinent discipline and willingness to spend the time dissecting the submission to critique it. These reviewers do NOT know the names of the author(s) of the manuscript. The author(s) of the manuscript do NOT know the identities of the reviewers. “Blinded.” Got that?

    Okay, so what happens when blinding is broken? When the reviewers know who had written the submitted manuscript, when the author(s) know who’s reviewing their work?

    Intimidation. Retaliation. Axe-grinding. Turf battles. Suppressio veri, suggestio falsi. Vendetta. Lousy error-checking for whatever reason.

    Broken blinding isn’t “peer review.” It’s PAL review at best, and “review” in name only at worst.

    Though the True Believers in the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming – er, “climate change” – hokum hate the sound of the term “Climategate,” the one thing that not even the most utterly cement-headed among them can deny is that the email communications of the Climatic Research Unit’s correspondents demonstrates that these charlatans of “the consensus” had been concerting not only pal review but the extortion against at least one recalcitrantly scrupulous journal editor who’d dared to publish “skeptical” work.

    Mf. Burkhard argues from ignorance. More than that, it is reasonable to suspect that his ignorance is willful.

  37. David McCarthy Says:

    I couldn’t stop laughing after reading Tzindaro’s ‘CO2 test’. It’s up there with insisting that Carbon Dioxide is a ‘colourless, odourless gas’ as if that somehow proves it be completely innocuous.

  38. John Graham Says:

    “The answer is that there is a convergence of evidence from multiple lines of inquiry…that all converge to a singular conclusion.”

    And yet it is my impression that our schools do an inadequate job of teaching this; at least so far as doing so in a way that sticks. It appears to me that American science education works very well for students with a pre-existing orientation toward scientific thinking, and very poorly (as multiple surveys of “science literacy” confirm)for most of those for whom science is not a focus. The essence of science lies in it’s procedure rather than in a catalog of its content, but while that content can be quite important and interdependent, I think “quiz show”-like familiarity with content is often mistaken for “science literacy” Actual literacy refers to facility with certain communication skills rather than a mere description of written language or even of its rules and structure. Genuine literacy becomes an extension of consciousness that becomes “naturalized” and ever-present, yet one that is mastered only over time and with effort.

    Relatively few persons will choose a “STEM” career, but everyone can be “fore-armed” by grasping the limitations of naive human perception and cognition, and the benefits of disciplined attention and collaborative cross-examination of a multi-directional “convergence of evidence”. My impression is that, to the degree that classrooms provide an active approach to science, they often use a one-dimensional procedural model (rather like a cooking class) that precludes significant individual discovery, alternative starting points for inquiry, or opportunities to translate the relevance of epistemological exploration and methodology into the student’s own personal life. In fact, even some who defend science seem to do so primarily from a standpoint of faith in it’s presumed authority (scientism) rather than a fruitful and practical extension of the scope and accuracy of native human intelligence.

  39. Pete Burkard Says:

    Tucci78’s claims about peer-review don’t pass the common-sense smell test. To believe Tucci, one would have to think that research scientists don’t dedicate their life to the quest for truth in their chosen field but are merely in it for a paycheck(and a rather small one compared to working in the private sector) and to scratch each others backs in some kind of “Good Ole Boy Club”. Friend, that kind of cynicism about your fellow human beings must be hard to live with. Tucci78 then uses ad-hominem attack instead of reasoning, calling me ignorant while ironically citing a thoroughly debunked pile of nonsense called ClimateGate. I rest my case. See below from the Union of Concerned Scientists:

    Debunking Misinformation About Stolen Climate Emails in the “Climategate” Manufactured Controversy

    The manufactured controversy over emails stolen from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit has generated a lot more heat than light. The email content being quoted does not indicate that climate data and research have been compromised. Most importantly, nothing in the content of these stolen emails has any impact on our overall understanding that human activities are driving dangerous levels of global warming. Media reports and contrarian claims that they do are inaccurate.

    Investigations Clear Scientists of Wrongdoing

    Six official investigations have cleared scientists of accusations of wrongdoing.

    A three-part Penn State University cleared scientist Michael Mann of wrongdoing.
    Two reviews commissioned by the University of East Anglia”supported the honesty and integrity of scientists in the Climatic Research Unit.”
    A UK Parliament report concluded that the emails have no bearing on our understanding of climate science and that claims against UEA scientists are misleading.
    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Inspector General’s office concluded there was no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of their employees.
    The National Science Foundation’s Inspector General’s office concluded, “Lacking any direct evidence of research misconduct…we are closing this investigation with no further action.”
    Other agencies and media outlets have investigated the substance of the emails.

    The Environmental Protection Agency, in response to petitions against action to curb heat-trapping emissions, dismissed attacks on the science rooted in the stolen emails. debunked claims that the emails put the conclusions of climate science into question. rated claims that the emails falsify climate science as “false.”
    An Associated Press review of the emails found that they “don’t undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.


    ok… here’s the thing; it doesn’t matter who’s right… IT’S HAPPENING, you don’t need to be a scientist to OBSERVE things… over a 68 yr time period I’ve seen plenty of change…HUMANS ARE NOT SMART ENOUGH TO SAVE THEMSELVES most of them have no idea or interest in how events converge…ask james joyce “it is what it is” as they say… WELCOME TO THE FUTURE. can we talk about the LHC next? spread the love…97% of all synchronistic events
    events are unobserved by most humans… lets hold hands and sing bob Dylan songs…remember him?



    the air
    must care
    enough to share
    the good parts of its constitution
    even after all the pollution
    we’ve piled into its good graces
    with our zoomzoom
    boomboom antics.
    i guess thats why
    we’re all still breathing
    after all this deceiving
    and conceiving
    of ways to unleash
    the poison
    and the noise into
    the space of the places
    we call

    let me be the first
    to say thank you
    to something i can’t see
    that doesn’t require me
    to get down on my knees.
    me and the trees
    are brothers in the breeze
    and i want to be uplifted
    by this incredibly gifted
    web of inter-woven
    acts and interactions
    that hold one thing to

    i want to be the brother
    that never has to cover
    up a lie
    bu rather see the sky
    as the limit.


    m.murphy 5/26/2013

  42. David Harold Braun Says:

    The arguments focussed around conflicting notions of consilience and to some extent the applications of skepticism, but not the science. Much of this can be settled through well designed research establishing the physics, physical chemistry and actuality (or not) of global warming, especially testing whether and how CO2 allows solar radiation to pass more easily than heated photons flowing away from the earth. The same can be investigated for other putative mechanisms, especially methane, but also other substances as well as alternative models.

  43. Francisco G Nobrega Says:

    Shermer, the ex-skeptic, was converted by Al Gore (can you believe it!) and rightly explains how science progresses: first the lone scientist proposes a new explanation/theory and later, after independent confirmation by others, the discovery/theory gets access to the pantheon of accepted science. Usually the media and politicians do not meddle. He fails to notice that the “theory” of anthropogenic catastrophic global warming (in fact a simple comjecture) went the other way. It was voiced by a few scientists and instead of remaining in the realm of serious investigation was rapidly taken up by politicians and the media due to the hype about imense damage ahead and the “simple” solution: just ban CO2 and replace fossil fuels by “clean” energy sources without explaining that this switch is as difficult as an attempt to stop the Earths’s rotation.

  44. Liam Says:

    Climate change is vauegr than global warming, and perhaps more palatable. Frank Luntz advised the Bush administration to use the term climate change instead of global warming, because it according to his research the climate change sounded like a less urgent issue.When I started blogging I predominantly started using the term climate change, because that the term that much (but certainly not all) of the scientific literature uses, and is what most of my profs in school used. However I switched to predominately using global warming because I read several articles saying that global warming would result in more visitors through Google and other search engines.A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.

  45. Saturnalia Says:

    Keeping Saturn in Saturnalia

    A (Very) Short History of Christmas

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