Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Worst Scandal in Science's History (2)

The story so far: The WA Skeptics promote climate change denialism. Their president, Dr John Happs writes to Australia's Chief Scientist, urgently brining to her attention the terrible news of the vast global conspiracy that she has unwittingly fallen for. Now read on...

Dr Happs' first contention is that there are thousands of scientists who have voted against climate change:

But I also reminded you that tens of thousands of informed scientists have strenuously criticised the IPCC's findings. So I urged you to look up their conclusions on the internet. The main ones are: The Heidelberg Appeal (4000 signatures including 62 Nobel prizewinners), The Oregon Petition (31,000 accredited scientists), The Manhattan Declaration (600 research climatologists), The Petition to the United Nations (100 geoscientists), Petition to the Canadian Prime Minister (60 climate experts), The Leipzig Declaration (100 geoscientists), The Statement from Atmospheric Scientists (50), Petition to the German Chancellor (200 German scientists), Statement from the American Physical Society (150 physical scientists), Petition to President Obama (100 leading climate researchers), UN Climate Scientists speak out on Global Warming (700, many previously involved with the IPCC). All are critical of the notion of man-made global warming, and all of them (with signatures and accreditations) are accessible via Google.

EoR hesitates to advise the Doctor that there is a lot of stuff accessible via Google. It isn't all true though.

This trial by vote is interesting since the WA Skeptics hosted Joanne Nova, who claims "Science is not a democracy and natural laws don't form because a UN committee decreed it". Apparently, denial is a democracy though, and natural laws form because an internet poll decrees it.

Such petitions are, of course, an irrelevant point. Nature doesn't care what individuals believe. It is also a form of the Galileo Gambit: It is not enough to wear the mantle of Galileo: that you be persecuted by an unkind establishment. You must also be right.

Even if there was some point to these polls, no serious opinion pollster would consider them rigorous or valid. It's like a current affairs show running a story on some emotional issue, and then inviting callers to phone in to vote on the issue.

The Oregon Petition ("31,000 scientists"!) is the most (in)famous of these petitions. It is deeply flawed.

Scientific American looked at (a very small) sample of the signatories, and found many no longer in agreement with the petition.

Finally, it should be noted that, were the petitions worth anything as scientific evidence, Dr Happs appears to have done no data correlation to indicate how many of the scientists are included in two or more of the surveys.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.